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London Films by W.D. Howells

Part 2 out of 4

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distracted when the element of mystery was added to it by the grille.
Seen across the whole length of the House from the men's gallery the
women looked as if tightly pressed against the grille, and had a
curiously thin, phantasmal effect, or the effect of frescoed figures
done very flat. To the imaginative spectator their state might have
symbolized the relation of women to Parliamentary politics, of which we
read much in English novels, and even English newspapers. Women take
much more interest in political affairs in England than with us; that is
well known; but it may not be so well known that they are in much
greater enjoyment of the franchise, if the franchise is indeed a
pleasure. I do not know whether they vote for school-committeemen, or
whether there are school-committeemen for them to vote for; but they may
vote for guardians of the poor, and may themselves be voted for to that
office; and they may vote for members of the Urban Councils and the
County Councils if they have property to be taxed by those bodies. This
is the right for which our Revolution was made, though we continue, with
regard to women, the Georgian heresy of taxation without representation;
but it is doubtful to the barbarian whether good can come of women's
mixing in parliamentary elections at which they have no vote. Of course,
with us a like interference would be taken jocosely, ironically; it
would, at the bottom, be a good joke, amusing from the tendency of the
feminine temperament to acts of circus in moments of high excitement;
but whether the Englishmen regard it so, the English, alone know. They
are much more serious than we, and perhaps they take it as a fit
manifestation of the family principle which is the underlying force of
the British Constitution. One heard of ladies who were stumping (or
whatever is the English equivalent of stumping) the country on the
preferential tariff question and the other questions which divide
Conservatives and Liberals; but in spite of these examples of their
proficiency the doubt remained whether those who have not the suffrage
can profitably attempt to influence it. Till women can make up their
minds to demand and accept its responsibilities, possibly they will do
best to let it alone.

When they want it they will have it; but until they do, it may not be
for nothing, or even for the control of the members' wandering fancies,
that the House of Commons interposes between them and itself the grille
through which they show like beauteous wraiths or frescoes in the flat.
That screen is emblematic of their real exclusion from the higher
government which their social participation in parliamentary elections,
and the men's habit of talking politics with them, flatter them into a
delusive sense of sharing. A woman may be the queen of England, but she
may not be one of its legislators. That must be because women like being
queens and do not really care for being legislators.



The secular intensification of the family life makes it possible for
the English to abandon their secular domesticity, when they will,
without apparent detriment to the family life. Formerly the English
family which came up to London for the season or a part of it went into
a house of its own, or, in default of that, went into lodgings, or into
a hotel of a kind happily obsolescent. Such a family now frankly goes
into one of the hotels which abound in London, of a type combining more
of the Continental and American features than the traits of the old
English hotel, which was dark, cold, grim, and silently rapacious, heavy
In appointments and unwholesome in refection. The new sort of hotel is apt
to be large, but it is of all sizes, and it offers a home reasonably
cheerful on inclusive terms not at all ruinous. It has a table-d'hôte
dinner at separate tables and a fair version of the French cuisine. If
it is one of the more expensive, it will not be dearer than our dearest,
and if one of the cheaper, it will be better in every way than our
cheaper. The supply has created a demand which apparently did not exist
before, and the Englishman has become a hotel-dweller, or at least a
hotel-sojourner, such as he had long reproached the American with

In like manner, with the supply of good restaurants in great number and
variety, he has become a diner and luncher at restaurants. Whether he
has been able to exact as much as he really wanted of the privacy once
supposed so dear to him, a stranger, even of the middle species, cannot
say, but it is evident that at his hotel or his restaurant he dines or
lunches as publicly as ever the American did or does; and he has his
friends to dinner or lunch without pretence of a private dining-room.
One hears that this sort of open conviviality tempts by its facility to
those excesses of hospitality which are such a drain on English incomes;
but again that is something of which an outsider can hardly venture to
have an opinion. What is probably certain is that the modern hotel and
restaurant, with their cheerful ease, are pushing the old-fashioned
lodging as well as the old-fashioned hotel out of the general favor, and
have already driven them to combine their attractions or repulsions on a
level where they are scarcely distinguishable as separate species.

In the streets neighboring on Piccadilly there are many apartments which
are effectively small hotels, where you pay a certain price for your
rooms, and a certain fixed price for your meals. You must leave this
neighborhood if you want the true lodging where you pay for your
apartment, and order the provisions which are cooked for you, and which
are apportioned to your daily needs. This is the ideal, and it is not
seriously affected by the reality that your provisions are also
apportioned to the needs of your landlord's family. Even then, the ideal
remains beautiful, and you have an image, somewhat blurred and battered,
of home, such as money cannot elsewhere buy you. If your landlord is the
butler who has married the cook, your valeting and cooking approach as
nearly perfection as you can hopefully demand.

It will be well not to scan too closely the infirmities of the
appointments over which an air of decent reticence is cast, and it will
have been quite useless to try guarding all the points at which you
might be plundered. The result is more vexatious than ruinous, and
perhaps in a hotel also you would be plundered. In a lodging you are
promptly and respectfully personalized; your tastes are consulted, if
not gratified; your minor wants, in which your comfort lies, are
interpreted, and possibly there grows up round you the semblance, which
is not altogether deceitful, of your own house.

The theory is admirable, but I think the system is in decay, though to
say this is something like accusing the stability of the Constitution.
Very likely if some American ghost were to revisit a well-known London
street a hundred years from now, he would find it still with the legend
of "Apartments" in every transom; and it must not be supposed that
lodgings have by any means fallen wholly to the middle, much less the
lower middle, classes. In one place there was a marquis overhead; in
another there was a lordship of unascertained degree, who was heard on a
court night being got ready by his valet and the landlord's whole force,
and then marking his descent to his cab by the clanking of his sword
upon the stairs, after which the joint service spent a good part of the
night in celebrating the event at a banquet in the basement. At two
lodgings in a most unpretentious street, it was the landlords' boast
that a royal princess had taken tea with their tenants, who were of the
quality to be rightfully taken tea with by a royal princess; and at
certain hours of the afternoon during the season it was not uncommon to
see noble equipages standing at the doors of certain apartments with a
full equipment of coachmen and footmen, and ladies of unmistakable
fashion ascending and descending by the carriage-steps like the angels
on Jacob's ladder. It could be surmised that they were visiting poor
relations, or modest merit of some sort, but it was not necessary to
suppose this, and upon the whole I prefer not.

The search for lodgings, which began before the season was conscious of
itself, was its own reward in the pleasures it yielded to the student of
human nature and the lover of mild adventure. The belief in lodgings was
a survival from an age of faith, when in the early eighteen-eighties
they seemed the most commodious and desirable refuge to the outwandering
American family which then first proved them. The fragmentary
outwanderers who now visited London, after an absence of twenty-two
years, did not take into account the fact that their apartment of long
ago was the fine event of the search, prolonged for weeks, of two
friends, singularly intelligent and rarely versed in London; they took
it as a type, and expected to drive directly to its fellow. They drove
indirectly to unnumbered lodgings unlike it and unworthy of its memory,
and it was not until after three days that they were able to fix upon a
lodging that appeared the least remote from their ideal. Then, in a
street not too far from Mayfair, and of the quality of a self-respectful
dependant of Belgravia, they set up their breathless Lares and panting
Penates, and settled down with a sense of comfort that grew upon them
day by day. The place undeniably had its charm, if not its merit. The
drawing-room chairs were in a proper pattern of brocade, and, though
abraded at their edges and corners, were of a tasteful frame; the
armchairs, covered like the sofa in a cheerful cretonne, lent the
parting guest the help of an outward incline; the sofa, heaped with
cushions, could not conceal a broken spring, though it braved it out
with the consciousness of having been sat upon by a royal princess who
had once taken tea in that lodging. But the other appointments,
including a pretty writing-desk and a multitude of china plates almost
hiding the wall-paper, were unfractured, and the little dining-room was
very cosey. After breakfast it had the habit of turning itself into a
study, where one of the outwanderers used to set himself down and ask
himself with pen and ink what he honestly thought and felt about this
England which he had always been more or less bothering about. The
inquiry took time which he might better have spent in day-dreaming
before the prospect of the gray March heaven, with the combs of the
roofs and the chimney-pots mezzotinted against it. He might have more
profitably wasted his time even on the smoke-blackened yellow-brick
house-walls, with their juts and angles, and their clambering pipes of
unknown employ, in the middle distance; or, in the foreground, the
skylights of cluttered outbuildings, and the copings of the walls of
grimy backyards, where the sooty trees were making a fight with the
spring, and putting forth a rash of buds like green points of electric
light: the same sort of light that showed in the eyes of a black cat
seasonably appearing under them. Inquiries into English civilization can
always wait, but such passing effects stay for no man, and I put them
down roughly in behalf of a futile philosopher who ought to have studied
them in their inexhaustible detail.

He could not be reproached with insensibility to his domestic
circumstance, from the combination of cook and butler which took him
into its ideal keeping to the unknown, unheard, and unseen German baron
who had the dining-room floor, and was represented through his open door
by his breakfast-trays and his perfectly valeted clothes. The valeting
in that house was unexceptionable, and the service at table was of a
dress-coated decorum worthy of finer dinners than were ever eaten
there. The service throughout was of a gravity never relaxed, except in
the intimate moments of bringing the bath in the morning, when the news
of the day before and the coming events of the present day were
suggestively yet respectfully discussed.

The tenants of the drawing-room floor owed some of their most fortunate
inspirations in sight-seeing to the suggestions of the landlord, whose
apartments I would in no wise leave to depreciatory conjecture. There
was, indeed, always a jagged wound in the entry wall made by some
envious trunk; but there was nothing of the frowziness, the shabbiness
of many of those houses in the streets neighboring Mayfair where many
Americans are eager to pay twice the fee demanded in this house on the
borders of Belgravia.

The Americans I am imagining had first carried on their search in those
genteel regions, which could hardly have looked their best in the last
moments of preparation before the season began. The house-cleaning which
went on in all of them was no more hurried than the advance of the slow
English spring outside, where the buds appeared after weeks of
hesitation, and the leaves unfolded themselves at long leisure, and the
blossoms deliberated in dreamy doubt whether they had not better stay in
than come out. Day after day found the lodging-houses with their carpets
up, and their furniture inverted, and their hallways and stairways
reeking from slop-pails or smelling from paint-pots, and with no visible
promise of readiness for lodgers. They were pretty nearly all of one
type. A young German or Swiss--there for the language--came to the door
in the coat he had not always got quite into, and then summoned from the
depths below a landlord or landlady to be specific about times and
terms, to show the rooms, and conceal the extras. The entry was oftenest
dim and narrow, with a mat sunk into the floor at the threshold and worn
to the quick by the cleansing of numberless feet; and an indescribable
frowziness prevailed which imparted itself to the condition of widowhood
dug up by the young foreigner from the basement. Sometimes there
responded to his summons a clerical, an almost episcopal presence, which
was clearly that of a former butler, unctuous in manner and person from
long serving. Or sometimes there would be something much more modern, of
an alert middle-age or wary youth; in every case the lodging-keeper was
skilled far beyond the lodging-seeker in the coils of bargaining, and of
holding in the background unsurmised charges for electric lights, for
candles, for washing, for baths, for boots, and for what-know-I, after
the most explicit declaration that the first demand included everything.
Nothing definite could be evolved but the fact that when the season
began, or after the first of May the rent would be doubled.

The treaty usually took place in the dishevelled drawing-room, after a
round of the widely parted chambers, where frowzy beds, covered with
frowzy white counterpanes, stood on frowzy carpets or yet frowzier
mattings, and dusty windows peered into purblind courts. A vulgar
modernity coexisted with a shabby antiquity in the appointments; a
mouldering wall showed its damp through the smart tastelessness of
recent paper; the floor reeled under a combination of pseudo-aesthetic
rugs. The drawing-room expected to be the dining-room also, and faintly
breathed the staleness of the meals served in it. If the front windows
often opened on a cheerful street, the back windows had no air but that
of the sunless spaces which successive architectural exigencies had
crowded with projecting cupboards, closets, and lattices, above basement
skylights which the sky seldom lighted. The passages and the stairs were
never visible except after dark; even then the foot rather than the eye
found the way. Yet, once settled in such a place, it developed
possibilities of comfort, of quiet, of seclusion, which the hardiest
hopefulness could not have forecast. The meals came up and could be
eaten; the coffee, which nearly all English hotels have good and nearly
all English lodgings bad, could be exchanged for tea; the service was
always well-intentioned, and often more, and except that you paid twice
as much as it all seemed worth, you were not so ill-used as you might
have been.

It is said that the whole system, if not on its last legs, is unsteady
on its feet from the competition of the great numbers of those large,
new, reasonably cheap, and admirably managed hotels. Yet the
lodging-houses remain by hundreds of thousands, almost by millions,
throughout the land, and if the English are giving them up they are
renouncing them with national deliberation. The most mysterious fact
concerning them is that they are, with all their multitude, so difficult
to get, and are so very bad when you have got them. Having said this, I
remember with fond regret particular advantages in every lodging of my

[Illustration: ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL.]



The painting-up which the apartments, as they always call themselves,
undergo inside and out, in preparation for the season, is a rite to
which all London bows during April as far as it can afford it. The
lodging-house may restrict itself to picking out in fresh green its
front door and window-frames, or perhaps reddening its area railing; but
private houses pretending to be smart clothe themselves from eave to
basement in coats of creamy white, or other blond tints susceptible of
the soonest harm from the natural and artificial climates of London.
While the paint is fresh, or "wet," the word by which you are warned
from its contact everywhere, it is undeniably pleasing; it gives the
gray town an air of girlish innocence, and, with the boxes of brilliant
flowers at every window-sill, promises a gayety which the season
realizes in rather unusual measure. It is said that the flowers at the
windows must be renewed every month, against the blight of the London
smoke and damp, and, if the paint cannot be renewed so often, it is of
perhaps a little more durable beauty. For a month of preparation, while
the house-fronts in the fashionable streets are escaladed by painters
emulous of the perils of the samphire-gatherer's dreadful trade, the air
is filled with the clean, turpentiny odor, and the eye is pleased with
the soft colors in which the grimy walls remember the hopes of another
spring, of another London season.

If the American's business or pleasure takes him out of town on the edge
of the season and brings him back well over its border, he will have an
agreeable effect from his temporary absence. He will find the throngs he
left visibly greater and notably smarter. Fashion will have got in its
work, and the streets, the pavements, the parks will have responded with
a splendor, a gayety earlier unknown. The passing vehicles will be more
those of pleasure and not so much those of business; the passing feet
will be oftener those going to luncheon and afternoon tea, and not so
solely those hurrying to or lagging from the toils of the day. Even the
morning trains that bring the customary surburbans seem to arrive with
multitudes fresher and brighter than those which arrived before the
season began. I do not know whether it was in tribute to the joyful time
that a housemaid, whom I one morning noted scrubbing down and whitening
up the front steps of a stately mansion, wore a long, black train and a
bolero hat and jacket, and I do not say that this is the usual dress of
the London housemaid, poor thing, in the London season, when putting on
them the scrupulous effect of cleanliness which all the London steps
wear in the morning. One might as well pretend that the may is
consciously white and red on all the hawthorns of the parks and squares
in honor of the season. The English call this lovely blossom so with no
apparent literary association, but the American must always feel as if
he were quoting the name from an old ballad. It gives the mighty town a
peculiarly appealing rustic charm, and it remains in bloom almost as
long as its namesake month endures. But that is no great wonder: when a
tree has worked as hard as a tree must in England to get its blossoms
out, it is naturally in no hurry to drop them; it likes to keep them on
for weeks.

The leaves, by the beginning of June, were in their silken fulness; the
trees stood densely, softly, darkly rounded in the dim air, and they did
not begin to shed their foliage till almost two months later. But I
think I had never so exquisite a sense of the loveliness of the London
trees as one evening in the grounds of a country club not so far out of
London as not to have London trees in its grounds. They were mostly
oaks, beeches, and sycamores; they frequented the banks of a wide, slow
water, which could not be called a stream, and they hung like a palpable
sort of clouds in the gathering mists. The mists, in fact, seemed of
much the same density as the trees, and I should be bolder than I like
if I declared which the birds were singing their vespers in. There was
one thrush imitating a nightingale, which I think must have been singing
in the heart of the mist, and which probably mistook it for a tree of
like substance. It was having, apparently, the time of its life; and
really the place was enchanting, with its close-cropped, daisy-starred
lawns, and the gay figures of polo-players coming home from a distant
field in the pale dusk of a brilliant day of early June.

The birds are heard everywhere in London through that glowing month, and
their singing would drown the roar of the omnibuses and the clatter of
the cab-horses' hoofs if anything could. The little gardens of the
houses back together and form innumerable shelters and pleasaunces for
them. The simple beauty of these umbrageous places is unimaginable to
the American city-dweller, who never sees anything but clothes-lines in
blossom from his back windows; but they exist nearly everywhere in
London, and a more spacious privacy can always be secured where two
houses throw their gardens together, as sometimes happens.

The humblest, or at least the next to the humblest, London house has
some leafy breathing-place behind it where the birds may nest and sing,
and our lodging in the street which was almost Belgravian was not
without its tree and its feathered inmates. When the first really warm
days came (and they came at the time appointed by the poets), the
feathered hostess of the birds, in a coop under the tree, laid an egg in
honor of her friends building overhead. This was a high moment of
triumph for the landlord's whole family. He happened to be making some
very gravelly garden-beds along the wall when the hen proclaimed her
achievement, and he called his children and their mother to rejoice with
him. His oldest boy ran up a flag in honor of the event, and his lodgers
came to the window to enjoy the scene, as I am sure the royal princess
would have done if she had been taking tea there that afternoon.

He was a good man, that landlord, and a kind man, and though his
aspirates were dislocated, his heart, however he miscalled it, was in
the right place. We had many improving conversations, by which I
profited more than he; and he impressed me, like Englishmen of every
class, as standing steadfastly but unaggressively upon the rights of his
station. In England you feel that you cannot trespass upon the social
demesne of the lowliest without being unmistakably warned off the
premises. The social inferiors have a convention of profound respect for
the social superiors, but it sometimes seemed provisional only, a mask
which they expected one day to drop; yet this may have been one of those
errors which foreigners easily make. What is certain is that the
superior had better keep to his place, as the inferior keeps to his.
Across the barrier the classes can and do exchange much more kindness
than we at a distance imagine; and I do not see why this is not a good
time to say that the English manner to dependants is beyond criticism.
The consideration for them seems unfailing; they are asked to do things
if they please, and they are invariably and distinctly thanked for the
smallest service. There are no doubt exceptions to the kindness which
one sees, but I did not see the exceptions. The social machinery has so
little play that but for the lubrication of these civilities the grind
of class upon class might be intolerable. With us in America there is no
love lost between rich and poor; unless the poor are directly and
obviously dependent on the rich our classes can be frankly brutal with
one another, as they never seem in England. Very possibly that perfect
English manner from superiors is also a convention, like the respect of
the inferiors, but it is a becoming one.

This is getting rather far away from the birds, not to say my landlord,
who told me that when he first took that house a flock of starlings used
to visit him in the spring. He did not tell me that his little house
stood in the region of Nell Gwynne's mulberry-gardens; his knowledge was
of observation, not of reading; and he was a gossip only about
impersonal things. Concerning his lodgers he was as a grave for silence,
and I fancy this is the strict etiquette of his calling, enforced by the
national demand for privacy. He did, indeed, speak once of a young
German lodger whom he had kept from going to a garden-party in full
evening-dress, but the incident was of a remoteness which excused its
mention. What had impressed him in it was the foreigner's almost tearful
gratitude when he came home and acknowledged that he had found everybody
in the sort of frock-coat which the landlord had conjured him to wear.

[Illustration: WESTMINSTER ABBEY.]

While the may was still hesitating on the hawthorns whether to come out,
there were plum and peach trees in the gardens which emulated the
earlier daring of the almonds. Plums do ripen in England, of course; the
greengages that come there after they have ceased to come from France
are as good as our own when the curculio does not get them; but the
efflorescence of the peaches and almonds is purely gratuitous; they
never fruit in the London air unless against some exceptionally
sun-warmed wall, and even then I fancy the chances are against them.
Perhaps the fruits of the fields and orchards, if not of the streets,
would do better in England if the nights were warmer. The days are often
quite hot, but after dusk the temperature falls so decidedly that even
in that heated fortnight in July a blanket or two were never too much.
In the spring a day often began mellowly enough, but by the end of the
afternoon it had grown pinched and acrid.



I had a very good will towards all the historic temples in London, and
I hope that this, with the fact that I had seen them before, will pass
for my excuse in not going promptly to revere them. I indeed had some
self-reproaches with regard to St. Paul's, of which I said to myself I
ought to see it again; there might be an emotion in it. I passed and
repassed it, till I could bear it no longer, and late one afternoon I
entered just in time to be turned out with half a score of other tardy
visitors who had come at the closing hour. After this unavailing visit,
the necessity of going again established itself in me, and I went
repeatedly, choosing, indeed, rainy days when I could not well go
elsewhere, and vengefully rejoicing, when I went, in the inadequacy of
its hugeness and the ugliness of its monuments.

Some sense of my mood I may impart, if I say that St. Paul's always
seemed a dispersed and interrupted St. Peter's in its structure and
decoration, and a very hard, unsympathetic, unappealing Westminster
Abbey in its mortuary records. The monuments of the Abbey are often
grotesque enough, but where they are so they are in the taste of times
far enough back to have become rococo and charming. I do not mind a
bronze Death starting out of a marble tomb and threatening me with his
dart, if he is a Death of the seventeenth century; but I do very much
mind the heavy presence of the Fames or Britannias of the earlier
nineteenth century celebrating in dull allegory the national bereavement
in the loss of military and naval heroes who fell when the national type
was least able to inspire grief with an artistic expression. The
statesmen, the ecclesiastics, the jurists, look all of a like period,
and stand about in stone with no more interest for the spectator than
the Fames or the Britannias.

The imagination stirs at nothing in St. Paul's so much as at that list
of London bishops, which, if you are so lucky as to come on it by chance
where it is inscribed beside certain windows, thrills you with a sense
of the long, long youth of that still unaging England. Bishops of the
Roman and Briton times, with their scholarly Latin names; bishops of the
Saxon and Danish times remembered in rough, Northern syllables; bishops
of the Norman time, with appellations that again flow upon the tongue;
bishops of the English time, with designations as familiar as those in
the directory: what a record! It moves you more than any of those
uniformed or cloaked images of warriors and statesmen, and it speaks
more eloquently of the infrangible continuity, the unbroken greatness of

My last visit was paid after I had seen so many other English cathedrals
that I had begun to say, if not to think, that England was
overgothicized, and that I should be glad, or at least relieved, by
something classicistic. But I found that I was mistaken. That
architecture is alien to the English sky and alien to the English faith,
which continues the ancient tradition in terms not ceremonially very
distinct from those of Rome; and coming freshly from the minster in York
to the cathedral in London, I was aware of differences which were all in
favor of the elder fane. The minster now asserted its superior majesty,
and its mere magnitude, the sweep of its mighty nave, the bulk of its
clustered columns, the splendor of its vast and lofty windows, as they
held their own in my memory, dwarfed St. Paul's as much physically as

A great congregation lost itself in the broken spaces of the London
temple, dimmed rather than illumined by the electric blaze in the choir;
a monotonous chanting filled the air as with a Rome of the worldliest
period of the church, and the sense of something pagan that had arisen
again in the Renaissance was, I perceived, the emotion that had long
lain in wait for me. St. Paul's, like St. Peter's, testifies of the
genius of a man, not the spirit of humanity awed before the divine.
Neither grew as the Gothic churches grew; both were ordered to be built
after the plans of the most skilful architects of their time and race,
and both are monuments to civilizations which had outlived mystery.

I no more escaped a return to Westminster Abbey than to St. Paul's, but
I had from the first so profoundly and thoroughly naturalized myself to
the place that it was like going back to a home of my youth. It was,
indeed, the earliest home of my youthful love of the old; and if I might
advise any reader who still has his first visit to Westminster Abbey
before him, I would counsel him not to go there much past his
twenty-fourth year. If possible, let him repair to the venerable fane in
the year 1861, and choose a chill, fair day of the English December, so
short as to be red all through with a sense of the late sunrise and a
prescience of the early sunset. Then he will know better than I could
otherwise tell him how I felt in that august and beautiful place, and
how my heart rose in my throat when I first looked up in the Poets'
Corner and read the words, "Oh, rare Ben Jonson!" The good Ben was never
so constantly rare in life as he has been in death, and that I knew well
enough from having tried to read him in days when I was willing to try
reading any one. But I was meaning then to be rare every moment myself,
and out of the riches of my poetic potentiality I dowered him with a
wealth of poetry which he had not actually enjoyed; and in this generous
emotion the tears came.

I am not sensible of having been grouped with others in charge of a
verger, but a verger there must have been, and at my next visit there
must equally have been one; he only entered, rigid, authoritative,
unsparing, into my consciousness at the third or fourth visit, widely
separated by time, when he marshalled me the way that he was going with
a flock of other docile tourists. I suppose it would be possible to see
Westminster Abbey without a verger, but I do not know; and would it be
safe? I imagine he was there at my first and second visits, but that my
memory rejected him as unfit for association with fames and names made
so much of in death that it seemed better than life in all dignified
particulars, though I was then eagerly taking my chances of getting
along for a few centuries on earth.

I hope I am not being severe upon the verger, for he is a very necessary
evil, if evil at all, in a place of such manifold and recondite
interest; and in my next-to-last visit I found him most intelligibly
accessible to my curiosity concerning those waxen effigies of royalty
which used to be carried in the funeral processions of the English kings
and queens. He bade us wait till he had dismissed all his flock but
ourselves, and then, for a very little gratuitous money, he took us into
some upper places where, suddenly, we stood in the presence of Queen
Elizabeth and of William and Mary, as they had looked and dressed in
life, and very startlingly lifelike in the way they showed unconscious
of us. Doubtless there were others, but those are the ones I recall, and
with their identity I felt the power that glared from the fierce, vain,
shrewd, masterful face of Elizabeth, and the obstinate good sense and
ability that dwelt in William's. Possibly I read their natures into
them, but I do not think so; and one could well wish that art had so
preserved all the great embodiments of history.

I hope it was some better motive than the sightseer's that at least
partly caused me to make myself part of the congregation listening to a
sermon in the Abbey on the Sunday afternoon of my last visit. But the
stir of the place's literary associations began with the sight of
Longfellow's bust, which looks so much like him, in the grand simplicity
of his looks, as he was when he lived; and then presently the effigies
of all the "dear sons of memory" began to reveal themselves, medallion
and bust and figure, with many a remembered allegory and inscription. We
went and sat, for the choral service, under the bust of Macaulay, and,
looking down, we found with a shock that we had our feet upon his grave.
It might have been the wounded sense of reverence, it might have been
the dread of a longer sermon than we had time for, but we left before
the sermon began, and went out into the rather unkempt little public
garden which lies by the Thames in the shadow of the Parliament Houses;
and who has said the Houses are not fine? They are not a thousand years
old, but some day they will be, and then those who cavilled at them when
they were only fifty will be sorry. For my part I think them as
Gothically noble and majestic as need be. They are inevitably Gothic,
too, and they spring from the river-side as if they grew from the ground
there far into the gray sky to which their architecture is native. It
was a pale, resigned afternoon, with the languor of the long, unwonted
heat in it, which a recent rain had slightly abated, and we were glad of
a memoriferous property which it seemed to exhale. Suddenly in the midst
of that most alien environment we confronted a pair of friends from whom
we had last parted twenty years before in the woods beside Lake George,
and whose apparition at once implied the sylvan scene. So improbable, so
sensational is life even to the most bigoted realist! But if it is so,
why go outside of it? Our friends passed, and we were in the shadow of
the Parliament Houses again, and no longer in that of the forest which
did not know it was Gothic.

We were going to hang upon the parapet of Westminster Bridge for the
view it offers of the Houses, to which the spacious river makes itself a
foreground such as few pictures or subjects of pictures enjoy in this
cluttered world; but first we gave ourselves the pleasure of realizing
the statue of Cromwell which has somehow found place where it belongs in
those stately precincts, after long, vain endeavors to ignore his
sovereign mightiness. He was not much more a friend of Parliaments than
Charles whom he slew, but he was such a massive piece of English history
that the void his effigy now fills under the windows of the Commons must
have ached for it before.

When we had done our hanging upon the parapet of the bridge we found a
somewhat reluctant cab and drove homeward through the muted Sunday
streets. The roar of the city was still there, but it was subdued; the
crowd was still abroad, but it was an aimless, idle, shuffling crowd.
The air itself seemed more vacant than on week-days, and there was a
silencing suspense everywhere. The poor were out in their poor best, and
the children strayed along the streets without playing, or lagged
homeward behind their parents. There were no vehicles except those of
pleasure or convenience; the omnibuses sent up their thunder from afar;
our cab-horse, clapping down the wooden pavement, was the noisiest thing
we heard. The trees in the squares and places hung dull and tired in the
coolish, dusty atmosphere, and through the heart of the summer afternoon
passed a presentiment of autumn. These are subtilties of experience
which, after all, one does not impart. Those who like, as I do, the
innocence which companions the sophistication of London will frequent
Kensington Gardens in the earlier spring before the season has set the
seal of supreme interest on Hyde Park. It then seems peculiarly the
playground of little children in the care of their nurses, if they are
well-to-do people's children, and in one another's care if they are poor
people's. All over England the tenderness of the little children for the
less is delightful. I remember to have seen scarcely any squabbling, and
I saw abundance of caressing. Small girls, even small boys, lug babies
of almost their own weight and size, and fondle them as if it were a
privilege and a pleasure to lug them. This goes on in spite of a
reciprocal untidiness which is indescribable; for the English poor
children have the very dirtiest faces in the world, unless the Scotch
have dirtier ones; but nothing, no spotting or thick plastering of
filth, can obscure their inborn sweetness. I think, perhaps, they wash
up a little when they come to play in Kensington Gardens, to sail their
ships on its placid waters and tumble on its grass. When they enter the
palace, to look at the late queen's dolls and toys, as they do in
troops, they are commonly in charge of their teachers; and their
raptures of loyalty in the presence of those reminders that queens, too,
must have once been little girls are beautiful to behold, and are
doubtless as genuine as those of their elders in the historical and
political associations. Since William III. built the palace and laid out
the gardens that he might dwell within easy reach of his capital, but
out of its smoke and din, the place has not lost the character which his
homely wish impressed upon it, and it is especially sweet and
commendable because of its relation to the good Victoria's childhood.
One does not forget "great Anna's" drinking tea there in the Orangery so
nobly designed for her by Wren, but the plain old palace is dearest
because Victoria spent so many of her early days in it, and received
there the awful summons literally to rise from her dreams and come and
be queen of the mightiest realm under the sun. No such stroke of poetry
is possible to our system; we have not yet provided even for the
election of young girls to the presidency; and though we may prefer our
prosaical republican conditions, we must still feel the charm of such an
incident in the mother monarchy.

The Temple was another of the places that I did not think I should visit
again, because I had so pleasant and perfect a memory of it, which I
feared to impair. More than a score of years before I had drunk tea in
the chambers of some young leader-writing barrister, and then went out
and wandered about in the wet, for it was raining very diligently. I
cannot say, now, just where my wanderings took me; but, of course, it
was down into the gardens sloping towards the river. In a way the first
images of places always remain, however blurred and broken, and the
Temple gardens were a dim and fractured memory in the retrospect as I
next saw them. It needed all the sunshine of my September day to
unsadden them, not from the rainy gloom in which I had left them then,
but from the pensive associations of the years between. Yet such
sunshine as that can do much, and I found it restoring me to my wonted
gayety as soon as we got out of our four-wheeler after our drive from
the Thames Embankment and began to walk up towards the Temple Church. I
will not ask the reader to go over the church with us; I will merely
have him note a curious fact regarding those effigies of the crusaders
lying cross-legged in the pavement of the circle to which one enters.
According to the strong, the irresistible conviction of one of our
party, these crusaders had distinctly changed their posture since she
saw them first. It was not merely that they had uncrossed their legs and
crossed them another way, or some such small matter; but that now they
lay side by side, whereas formerly they had better accommodated
themselves to the architectural design, and lain in a ring with their
long-pointed toes pointing inward to the centre. Why they should have
changed, we could not understand; the verger said they had not; but he
was a dim, discouraged intelligence, bent chiefly in a limp sort on
keeping the door locked so that people could not get away without his
help, and must either fee him, or indecently deny him. The Temple
Church, indeed, is by no means the best of the Temple. Cunningham says
that the two edifices most worth visiting are the church and the Middle
Temple Hall, which I now preferred luxuriously to leave in my
remembrances of 1882, and to idle about the grounds with my party,
straying through the quiet thoroughfares and into the empty courts, and
envying, not very actively, the lodgers in the delightfully dull-looking
old brick dwellings. I do not know just what Templars are, in this day,
but I am told they are practically of both sexes, and that when married
they are allowed to domesticate themselves in these buildings in
apartments sublet to them by Templars of one sex. It is against the law,
but conformable to usage, and the wedded pairs are subject only to a
semicentennial ejection, so that I do not know where a young literary
couple could more charmingly begin their married life. Perhaps children
would be a scandal; but they would be very safe in the Temple paths and
on the Temple lawns. At one house, a girl was vaguely arriving with a
band-box and parcels, and everything in the Temple seemed of a faint,
remote date; in the heart of a former century, the loud crash of our
period came to us through the Strand gate softened to a mellow roar. The
noise was not great enough, we noted, to interrupt the marble gentleman
in court dress and full-bottomed wig, elegantly reclining on the top of
his tomb in a niche of the wall near Goldsmith's grave, and leaning
forward with one hand extended as if, in the spirit of the present
_entente cordiale_, he was calling our attention to the fact that
the garlands and streamers of the Virginian-creeper dangling from the
walls about him were in the mother-clime of a real American redness.

It is proof of the manifold interest of London, or else of our own
inadequacy to our opportunities, that in all our sojourns we had never
yet visited what is left of that famous Whitehall, so tragically
memorable of the death of Charles I. The existing edifice is only the
noble remnant of that ancient palace of the English kings which the fire
of 1697 spared, as if such a masterpiece of Inigo Jones would be the
fittest witness of its highest, saddest event. Few, if any, of the
tremendous issues of history are so nearly within seeing and touching as
that on which the windows of Whitehall still look, and I must count that
last day of our September in London as spent in such sort as to be of
unsurpassed if not unrivalled impression, because of the visit which we
then so tardily paid to the place, and so casually that we had almost
not paid it at all.

The Banquetting House is now a sort of military and naval museum; with
the swords and saddles and uniforms and other equipments of divers
English heroes in glass cases, and models of battle-ships, and of the
two most famous English battles, likewise under glass. I was not so vain
of my reading about battles as not to be glad of seeing how the
men-of-war deployed at Trafalgar; or how the French and English troops
were engaged at Waterloo (with the smoke coming out of the cannons'
mouths in puffs of cotton-wool), when Blücher modestly appeared at one
corner of the plan in time to save the day. "But we should 'ave 'ad it,
without 'im?" a fellow sight-seer of local birth anxiously inquired of
the custodian. "Oh, we should 'ave 'ad the victory, anyway," the
custodian reassured him, and they looked together at some trophies of
the Boer war with a patriotic interest which we could not share. I do
not know whether they shared my psychological interest in that
apposition of Napoleon and of Nelson which, in this place, as in several
others in England, invests the spiritual squalor of war-memories with
the glamour of two so supremely poetic, yet so different personalities.
Whatever other heroes may have been, these dreamers in their ideals shed
such a light upon the sad business of their lives as almost to ennoble
it. One feels that with a little more qualification on the creative side
they could have been literary men, not of the first order, perhaps, but,
say, historical novelists.

There is some question among other authorities which window of the
Banquetting House the doomed king passed through upon the scaffold to
the block; but the custodian had no doubts. He would not allow a choice
of windows, and as to a space broken through the wall, he had never
heard of it. But we were so well satisfied with his window as to shrink
involuntarily from it, and from the scene without whose eternal
substance showed through the shadowy illusion of passing hansoms and
omnibuses, like the sole fact of the street, the king's voice rising
above the noises in tender caution to a heedless witness, "Have a care
of the axe; have a care," and then gravely to the headsman: "When I
stretch out my hands so, then--" The drums were ordered beaten, so that
we could not hear more; and we went out, and crossed among the cabs and
'busses to the horse-guards sitting shrunken on their steeds, and passed
between them into the park beyond where the beds of flowers spread their
soft autumnal bloom in the low sun of the September day.




I liked walking through St. James's and through Green Park, especially
in the late afternoon when the tired poor began to droop upon the
benches, and, long before the spring damp was out of the ground, to
strew themselves on the grass, and sleep, face downward, among its
odorous roots. There was often the music of military bands to which
wide-spreading audiences of the less pretentious sort listened; in St.
James's there were seats along the borders of the ponds where, while the
chill evening breeze crisped the water, a good deal of energetic
courting went on. Besides, both were in the immediate neighborhood of
certain barracks where there was always a chance of military, and were
hard by Buckingham Palace with its chances of royalty. But the resort of
the poorer sort of pleasure-seekers is eminently Battersea Park, to
which we drove one hot, hot Sunday afternoon in late July,
conscience-stricken that we had left it so long out of our desultory
doing and seeing. It was full of the sort of people we had expected to
find in it, but these people though poor were not tattered. The
Londoner, of whatever class is apt to be better dressed than the
New-Yorker of the same class, and the women especially make a bolder
attempt than ours, if not so well advised, at gayety. They had put on
the best and finest they had, in Battersea Park, and if it was not the
most fitting still they wore it. The afternoon was sultry to
breathlessness; yet a young mother with a heavy baby in her arms
sweltered along in the splendor of a purple sack of thick plush; she was
hot, yes; but she had it on. The young girls emulated as well as they
could the airy muslins and silks in which the great world was flitting
and flirting at the same hour in the closes of Hyde Park, and if the
young fellows with these poor girls had not the distinction of the
swells in the prouder parade they at least equalled them in their
aberrations from formality.

There was not much shade in Battersea Park for the people to sit under,
but there was almost a superabundance of flowers in glaring beds, and
there were pieces of water, where the amateur boatman could have the
admiration of watchers, two or three deep, completely encircling the
ponds. To watch them and to walk up and down the shadeless aisles of
shrubbery, to sit on the too sunny benches, and to resort in extreme
cases to the tea-house which offered them ices as well as tea, seemed to
be the most that the frequenters of Battersea Park could do. We
ourselves ordered tea, knowing the quality and quantity of the public
English ice, which is so very minute that you think it will not be
enough, but which when you taste it is apt to be more than you want. The
spectacle of our simple refection was irresistible, and a crowd of
envious small boys thronged the railing that parted us from the general
public, till the spectacle of their hungry interest became intolerable.
We consulted with the waiter, who entered seriously into our question as
to the moral and social effect of sixpence worth of buns on those boys;
he decided that it would at least not form an example ruinous to the
peace of his tea-house; and he presently appeared with a paper bag that
seemed to hold half a bushel of buns. Yet even half a bushel of buns
will not go round the boys in Battersea Park, and we had to choose as
honest a looking boy as there was in the foremost rank, and pledge him
to a just division of the buns intrusted him in bulk, and hope, as he
ran off down an aisle of the shrubbery with the whole troop at his
heels, that he would be faithful to the trust.

* * * * *

So very mild are the excitements, so slight the incidents, so safe and
tame the adventures of modern travel! I am almost ashamed when I think
what a swashing time a romantic novelist, or a person of real
imagination would have been having in London when so little was
happening to me. There was, indeed, one night after dinner when for a
salient moment I had hopes of something different. The maid had whistled
for a hansom, and a hansom had started for the door where we stood
waiting, when out of the shadows across the way two figures sprang,
boarded the cab, and bade the cabman drive them away under our very
eyes. Such a thing, occurring at almost eleven o'clock, promised a
series of stirring experiences; and an American lady, long resident in
England, encouragingly said, on hearing of the outrage, "Ah, that's
_London!_" as if I might look to be often mishandled by bandits of
the sort; but nothing like it ever befell me again. In fact the security
and gentleness with which life is operated in the capital of the world
is one of the kind things makes you forget its immensity. Your personal
comfort and safety are so perfectly assured that you might well mistake
yourself for one of very few people instead of so many.

London is like nature in its vastness, simplicity, and deliberation, and
if it hurried or worried, it would be like the precession of the
equinoxes getting a move on, and would shake the earth. The street
events are few. In my nine or ten weeks' sojourn, so largely spent in
the streets, I saw the body of only one accident worse than a cab-horse
falling; but that was early in my stay when I expected to see many more.
We were going to the old church of St. Bartholomew, and were walking by
the hospital of the same name just as a cab drove up to its gate bearing
the body of the accident. It was a young man whose bleeding face hung
upon his breast and whose limp arm another young man of the same station
in life held round his own neck, to stay the sufferer on the seat beside
him. A crowd was already following, and it gathered so quickly at the
high iron fence that the most censorious witness could hardly see with
what clumsiness the wounded man was half-dragged, half-lifted from the
cab by the hospital assistants, and stretched upon the ground till he
could be duly carried into the hospital. It may have been a casualty of
the many incident to alcoholism; at the best it was a result of single
combat, which, though it prepared us in a sort for the mediaeval
atmosphere of the church, was yet not of the tragic dignity which would
have come in the way of a more heroical imagination.

It was indeed so little worthy of the place, however characteristic of
the observer, that I made haste to forget it as I entered the
church-yard under the Norman arch which has been for some years
gradually finding itself in an adjoining shop-wall. The whole church,
indeed, as now seen, is largely the effect (and it was one of the first
effects I saw) of that rescue of the past from the present which is
perpetually going on all over England. Till lately the Lady Chapel and
the crypt of St. Bartholomew had been used as an ironworker's shop; and
modern life still pressed close upon it in the houses looking on the
graves of the grassless church-yard. With women at the windows that
opened on its mouldy level, peeling potatoes, picking chickens, and
doing other household offices, the place was like something out of
Dickens, but something that yet had been cleaned up in sympathy with the
restoration of the church, going on bit by bit, stone by stone, arch by
arch, till the good monk Rahere (he was gay rather than good before he
turned monk) who founded the Cistercian monastery there in the twelfth
century would hardly have missed anything if he had returned to examine
the church. He would have had the advantage, which he could not have
enjoyed in his life-time, of his own effigy stretched upon his tomb, and
he might have been interested to note, as we did, that the painter
Hogarth had been baptized in his church six hundred years after his own
time. His satisfaction in the still prevalent Norman architecture might
have been less; it is possible he would have preferred the Gothic which
was coming in when he went out.

The interior was all beautifully sad and quiet, gray, dim, twilighted as
with the closes of the days of a thousand years; and in the pale ray an
artist sat sketching a stretch of the clerestory. I shall always feel a
loss in not having looked to see how he was making out, but the image of
the pew-opener remains compensatively with me. She was the first of her
sort to confront me in England with the question whether her very
intelligent comment was conscious knowledge, or mere parrotry. She was a
little morsel of a woman, in a black alpaca dress, and a world-old black
bonnet, who spared us no detail of the church, and took us last into the
crypt, not long rescued from the invasive iron-worker, but now used as a
mortuary chapel for the poor of the parish, which is still full of the
poor. The chapel was equipped with a large bier and tall candles,
frankly ready for any of the dead who might drop in. The old countries
do not affect to deny death a part of experience, as younger countries

We came out into the imperfect circle before the gateway of the church,
and realized that it was Smithfield, where all those martyrs had
perished by fire that the faith of the world might live free. There can
be no place where the past is more august, more pathetic, more
appealing, and none I suppose, where the activities of the present, in
view of it, are more offensive. It is all undermined with the railways
that bring the day's meat-provision to London for distribution
throughout the city, and the streets that centre upon it swarm with
butchers' wagons laden with every kind and color of carnage, prevalently
the pallor of calves' heads, which seem so to abound in England that it
is wonderful any calves have them on still. The wholesale market covers
I know not what acreage, and if you enter at some central point, you
find yourself amid endless prospectives of sides, flitches, quarters,
and whole carcasses, and fantastic vistas of sausages, blood-puddings,
and the like artistic fashionings of the raw material, so that you come
away wishing to live a vegetarian ever after.

The emotions are not at one's bidding, and if one calls upon them, they
are very apt not to come. I promised myself some very signal ones, of a
certain type, from going to the Sunday market of the Jews in what was
once Petticoat Lane, but now, with the general cleaning up and clearing
out of the slums, has got itself called by some much finer and worthier
name. But, really, I had seen much Jewisher things in Hester Street, on
our own East Side. The market did not begin so early as I had been led
to expect it would. The blazing forenoon of my visit was more than half
gone, and yet there was no clothes' auction, which was said to be the
great thing to see. But by nine o'clock there seemed to be everything
else for sale under that torrid July sun, in the long booths and
shelters of the street and sidewalks: meat, fish, fruit, vegetables,
glassware, ironware, boots and shoes, china and crockery, women's tawdry
finery, children's toys, furniture, pictures, succeeding one another
indiscriminately, old and new, and cried off with an incessant jargon of
bargaining, pierced with shrill screams of extortion and expostulation.
A few mild, slim, young London policemen sauntered, apparently unseeing,
unhearing, among the fevered, nervous Semitic crowd, in which the
Oriental types were by no means so marked as in New York, though there
was a greater number of red Jews than I had noted before. The most
monumental features of the scene were the gorgeous scales of wrought
brass, standing at intervals along the street, and arranged with seats,
like swings, for the weighing of such Hebrews as wished to know their
tonnage; apparently they have a passion for knowing it.

The friend who had invited me to this spectacle felt its inadequacy so
keenly, in spite of my protests, that he questioned the policemen for
some very squalid or depraved purlieu that he might show me, for we were
in the very heart of Whitechapel, but failing that, because the region
had been so very much reformed and cleaned up since the dreadful murders
there, he had no recourse but to take me on top of a tram-car and show
me how very thoroughly it had been reformed and cleaned up. In a ride
the whole length of Whitechapel Road to where the once iniquitous region
ceased from troubling and rose in a most respectable resurrection as
Stepney, with old-fashioned houses which looked happy, harmless homes, I
could only be bidden imagine avenues of iniquity branching off on either
hand. But I actually saw nothing slumlike; indeed, with a current of
cool east wind in our faces, which the motion of the tram reinforced,
the ride was an experience delightful to every sense. It was significant
also of the endlessness of London that as far as the tram-car took us we
seemed as far as ever from the bounds of the city; whatever point we
reached there was still as much or more London beyond.

Perhaps poverty has everywhere become shyer than it used to be in the
days before slumming (now itself of the past) began to exploit it. At
any rate, I thought that in my present London sojourn I found less
unblushing destitution than in the more hopeless or more shameless days
of 1882-3. In those days I remember being taken by a friend, much
concerned for my knowledge of that side of London, to some dreadful
purlieu where I saw and heard and smelled things quite as bad as any
that I did long afterwards in the over-tenanted regions of New York. My
memory is still haunted by the vision of certain hapless creatures who
fled blinking from one hole in the wall to another, with little or
nothing on, and of other creatures much in liquor and loudly scolding
and quarrelling, with squalid bits of childhood scattered about
underfoot, and vague shapes of sickness and mutilation, and all the time
a buying and selling of loathsome second-hand rags.

In the midst of it there stood, like figures of a monument erected to
the local genius of misery and disorder, two burly figures of
half-drunken men, threatening each other with loud curses and shaken
fists under the chin of a policeman, perfectly impassive, with eyes
dropped upon the fists which all but stirred the throat-latch of his
helmet. When the men should strike, I was aware that it would be his
instant duty, as the guardian of the public peace, to seize them both
and hale them away to prison. But it was not till many years afterwards
that I read in his well-remembered effigy the allegory of civilization
which lets the man-made suffering of men come to the worst before it
touches it, and acts upon the axiom that a pound of prevention is worth
less than an ounce of cure.

I would very willingly have seen something of this kind again, but, as I
say, I happened not to see it. I think that I did not see or hear even
so much simple drunkenness in London as formerly, but again this may
have been merely chance. I fancied that formerly I had passed more gin-
palaces, flaring through their hell-litten windows into the night; but
this may have been because I had become hardened to gin-palaces and did
not notice them. Women seemed to be going in and coming out of such
places in draggle-tailed processions in those wicked days; but now I
only once saw women drinking in a public house. It was a Saturday night,
when, if ever, it may be excusable to anticipate the thirst of the
morrow, for all through the Sunday idleness it cannot be slaked enough.
It was a hot night, and the bar-room door stood open, and within,
fronted by a crowd of their loudly talking, deeply drinking men-kind,
those poor silly things stood drooping against the wall with their
beer-pots dangling limply from their hands, and their mouths fallen open
as if to catch the morsels of wit and wisdom that dropped from the
tongues of their admired male companions. They did not look very bad;
bad people never do look as bad as they are, and perhaps they are
sometimes not so bad as they look. Perhaps these were kind, but not very
wise, mothers of families, who were merely relieving in that moment of
liquored leisure the long weariness of the week's work. I may have
passed and repassed in the street some of the families that they were
the mothers of; it was in that fortnight of the great heat, whose
oppressiveness I am aware of having vainly attempted to share with the
reader, and the street children seemed to have been roused to uncommon
vigilance by it. They played about far into the night, unrebuked by
their mothers, and the large babies, whom the little girls were always
lugging, shared their untimely wakefulness if not their activity. There
was seldom any crying among them then, though by day the voice of grief
and rage was often lifted above the shout of joy. If their mothers did
not call them in-doors, their fathers were still less exacting. After
the marketing, which took place in the neighboring avenue, where there
began to be a tremendous preparation for it in the afternoon, father and
mother alike seemed to have renounced their domestic cares and to have
liberated their offspring to the unrestricted enjoyment of the street.

As for drunkenness, I say again that I did not see much of it, and I
heard less, though that might have been because I did not look or listen
in the right places. With that, as with everything else in London, I
took my chance. Once I overheard the unseen transports of a lady in
Mayfair imaginably kept by the offices of mutual friends from assaulting
another lady. She, however, though she excelled in violence, did not
equal in persistence the injured gentleman who for a long, long hour
threatened an invisible bicyclist under our windows in that humbler
quarter already described as a poor relation of Belgravia. He had
apparently been almost run down by the hapless wheelman, who, in a
moment of fatuous truth, seemed to have owned that he had not sounded
the warning bell. In making this confession he had evidently apologized
with his forehead in the dust, and his victim had then evidently
forgiven him, though with a severe admonition for the future.
Imaginably, then, the bicyclist had remounted his wheel and attempted to
ride off, when he was stopped and brought back to the miserable error of
his confession. The whole ground was then gone over again, and again
pardon with warning was given. Even a glad good-night was exchanged, the
wheelman's voice rising in a quaver of grateful affection. Then he
seemed to try riding off again, and then he was stayed as before by the
victim, whose sense of public duty flamed up at the prospect of his
escape. I do not know how the affair ended; perhaps it never ended; but
exhausted nature sank in sleep, and I at least was saved from its
continuance. I suppose now that the almost injured person was, if not
drunk, at that stage of tipsiness when the sensibilities are keenest and
self-respect is most alert. An American could not, at least, have been
so tedious in his sober senses, and I will not believe that an
Englishman could.

It is to be considered, in any view of the comparative drunkenness of
the great Anglo-Saxon race, which is the hope and example of the human
race in so many things, that much if not most of our American
drunkenness is alien, while English drunkenness is almost entirely
native. If the inebriety of the spirited Celt, which in the early years
of his adoption with us is sometimes conspicuous, were added to the sum
of our home-born intoxication, there could be no doubt which was the
greater. As it is, I am afraid that I cannot claim to have seen more
drunken men in London than in New York; and when I think of the Family
Entrance, indicated at the side-door of every one of our thousands of
saloons, I am not sure I can plume myself on the superior sobriety of
our drinking men's wives. As for poverty--if I am still partially on
that subject--as for open misery, the misery that indecently obtrudes
itself upon prosperity and begs of it, I am bound to say that I have met
more of it in New York than ever I met during my sojourns in London.
Such misery may be more rigidly policed in the English capital, more
kept out of sight, more quelled from asking mercy, but I am sure that in
Fifth Avenue, and to and fro in the millionaire blocks between that
avenue and the last possible avenue eastward, more deserving or
undeserving poverty has made itself seen and heard to my personal
knowledge than in Piccadilly, or the streets of Mayfair or Park Lane, or
the squares and places which are the London analogues of our best
residential quarters.

Of course, the statistics will probably be against me--I have often felt
an enmity in statistics--and I offer my observations as possibly
inexact. One can only be sure of one's own experience (even if one can
be sure of that), and I can do no more than urge a fact or two further
in behalf of my observations. After we returned to London, in September,
I used to stroll much among the recumbent figures of the unemployed on
the grass of Green Park, where, lulled by the ocean roar of the
omnibuses on Piccadilly, they drowsed away the hours of the autumnal
day. These fellow-men looked more interesting than they probably were,
either asleep or awake, and if I could really have got inside their
minds I dare say I should have been no more amused than if I had
penetrated the consciousness of as many people of fashion in the height
of the season. But what I wish to say is that, whether sleeping or
waking, they never, any of them, asked me for a penny, or in any wise
intimated a wish to divide my wealth with me. If I offered it myself, it
was another thing, and it was not refused to the extent of a shilling by
the good fellow whose conversation I bought one afternoon when I found
him, sitting up in his turfy bed, and mending his coat with needle and
thread. I asked him of the times and their badness, and I hope I left
him with the conviction that I believed him an artisan out of work,
taking his misfortune bravely. He was certainly cheerful, and we had
some agreeable moments, which I could not prolong, because I did not
like waking the others, or such of them as might be sleeping.

I did not object to his cheerfulness, though for misery to be cheerful
seemed to be rather trivial, and I was better pleased with the
impassioned bearing of a pair who passed me another day as I sat on one
of the benches beside the path where the trees were dropping their
listless leaves. The pair were a father and mother, if I might judge
from their having each a babe in their arms and two or three other babes
at their heels. They were not actually in tatters, but anything more
intensely threadbare than their thin clothes could not be imagined; they
were worse than ragged. They looked neither to the right nor to the
left, but stared straight on and pressed straight on rather rapidly,
with such desperate tragedy in their looks as moved me to that noble
terror which the old-fashioned critics used to inculcate as the best
effect of tragedy on the stage. I followed them a little way before I
gained courage to speak to the man, who seemed to have been sick, and
looked more miserable, if there was a choice, than the woman. Then I
asked him, superfluously enough (it might have seemed in a ghastly
pleasantry, to him) if he was down on his luck. He owned that he was,
and in guarantee of his good faith took the shilling I offered him. If
his need had apparently been less dire I might have made it a sovereign;
but one must not fly in the face of the Providence, which is probably
not ill-advised in choosing certain of us to be reduced to absolute
destitution. The man smiled a sick, thin-lipped smile which showed his
teeth in a sort of pinched way, but did not speak more; his wife,
gloomily unmoved, passed me without a look, and I rather slunk back to
my seat, feeling that I had represented, if I had not embodied, society
to her.

I contribute this instance of poverty as the extremest that came to my
knowledge in London; but I do not insist that it was genuine, and if any
more scientific student of civilization wishes to insinuate that my
tragedy was a masquerade got up by that pair to victimize the
sentimental American stranger, and do him out of one of his ill-got
shillings, I will not gainsay him. I merely maintain, as I have always
done, that the conditions are alike in the Old World and the New, and
that the only difference is in the circumstances, which may be better
now in New York, and now in London, while the conditions are always bad
everywhere for the poor. That is a point on which I shall not yield to
any more scientific student of civilization. But in the mean time my
light mind was taken from that dolorous pair to another pair on the
grass of the slope not far off in front of me.

Hard by the scene of this pathetic passage a pair of quite well-dressed
young people had thrown themselves, side by side, on the September grass
as if it had been the sand at any American seashore, or the embrowned
herbage of Hyde Park in July. Perhaps the shelving ground was dryer than
the moist levels where the professional unemployed lay in scores; but I
do not think it would have mattered to that tender pair if it had been
very damp; so warmly were they lapped in love's dream, they could not
have taken cold. The exile could only note the likeness of their
open-air love-making to that in public places at home, and contrast it
with the decorum of Latin countries where nothing of the kind is known.
If anything, English lovers of this type are franker than with us,
doubtless because of the greater simplicity of the English nature; and
they seem to be of a better class. One day when I was sitting in a penny
chair in Green Park, the agent of the company came and collected the
rent of me. I thought it a hardship, for I had purposely chosen an
inconspicuous situation where I should not be found, and it was long
past the end of the season, when no company should have had the heart to
collect rent for its chairs. But I met my fate without murmuring, and as
the young man who sold me a ticket good for the whole day at a penny,
was obviously not pressed with business, I tried to recoup myself by a
little conversation.

"I suppose your job is pretty well over now? I don't see many of your
chairs occupied."

"Well, no sir, not by day, sir. But there's quite a few taken at night,
sir--over there in the hollow." I looked a leading question, and he went
on: "Young people come to sit there in the evening, sir. It's a quiet
place and out of the way."

"Oh, yes. Where they're not molested by the unemployed?" I cast a
generalizing glance over the dead and wounded of the battle of life
strewn about the grass of an adjacent space.

"Well, that's just where it is, sir. Those fellows do nothing but sleep
all day, and then after dark they get up and begin to prowl. They spy,
some of 'em, on the young people courting, and follow 'em 'ome and
blackmail 'em. They're a bad lot, sir. They wouldn't work if they could
get it."

I perceived that my friend was a capitalist, and I suspected him of
being one of the directors of the penny-chair company. But perhaps he
thought me a capitalist, too, and fancied that I would like to have him
decry the unemployed. Still he may have been right about the
blackmailing; one must live, and the innocent courage of open-air
courtship in London offers occasions of wilful misconstruction. In a
great city, the sense of being probably unnoted and unknown among its
myriads must eventuate in much indifference to one's surroundings. How
should a young couple on an omnibus-top imagine that a stranger in the
seat opposite could not help overhearing the tender dialogue in which
they renewed their love after some previous falling out?

"But I was hurt, Will, dear."

"Oh, I'm so sorry, dear."

"I know, Will, dear."

"But it's all right now, dear?"

"Oh yes, Will, dear."

Could anything be sweeter? I am ashamed to set it down; it ought to be
sacred; and nothing but my zeal in these social studies could make me
profane it. Who would not have been the careless brute this young man
must have been, if only one might have tasted the sweetness of such
forgiving? His pardon set a premium on misbehavior. He was a
nice-looking young fellow, but she was nicer, and in her tender eyes
there seemed more wisdom. Probably she knew just at what moment to
temper justice with mercy.

Sometimes women do not know when to temper mercy with justice. I fancied
this the error of the fond nursemaid whom I one day saw pushing her
perambulator at almost an illegal motor-pace along the sidewalk in order
to keep up with the tall grenadier who marched with his head in the air,
and let her make this show of being in his company, but not once looking
at her, or speaking to her. The hearts of such poor girls are always
with the military, so that it is said to be comparatively easy to keep
servants in the neighborhood of the barracks, or even in those streets
that the troops habitually pass through, and may be conveniently gloated
upon from attic-windows or basement areas. Probably much of the natural
supremacy of the male of our species has been lost in all ranks of
society through the unimpressive simplicity of modern dress. If men in
civil life still wore ruffles at their wrists, and gold-lace on their
coats, and feathers in their hats, very likely they could still knock
women about as they used, and be all the more admired. It is a point
worth considering in the final adjustment of their mutual relations.

A pair of lovers who match themselves in my memory with those I
eavesdropped so eagerly on the omnibus-top, was a silent pair I noted
one day in St. Paul's. They were imaginably a bridal pair, who had
apparently lost heart among the hard banalities of the place, where
every monument is more forbidding than another, and had sunk down on a
seat by themselves, and were trying to get back a little courage by
furtively holding each other's hands. It was a touching sight, and of a
human interest larger than any London characteristic. So, in a little
different sort, was the rapture of a couple behind a tree on whom a
friend of mine came suddenly in St. James's Park at the very moment when
the eager he was pressing the coy she to be his. My friend, who had not
the courage of an ever-present literary mission, fled abashed from the
place, and I think he was right; but surely it was no harm to overhear
the affianced of a 'bus-driver talking tender nothings to him all the
way from Knightsbridge to Kensington, bending over from the seat she had
taken next him. The witness was going up to a dentist in that region,
and professed that in his preoccupation with the lovers he forgot the
furies of a raging tooth, and decided not to have it out, after all.



London is so manifold (as I have all along been saying) that it would
be advisable, if one could, to see it in a sort of severalty, and take
it in the successive strata of its unfathomable interest. Perhaps it
could best be visited by a syndicate of cultivated Americans; then one
could give himself to its political or civic interest, another to its
religious memories and associations, another to its literary and
artistic records; no one American, however cultivated, could do justice
to all these claims, even with life and health of an expectation beyond
that of the most uncultivated American. Besides this suggestion I should
like to offer a warning, and this is, that no matter with what devoted
passion the American lover of London approaches her he must not hope for
an exclusive possession of her heart. If she is insurpassably the most
interesting, the most fascinating of all the cities that ever were, let
him be sure that he is not the first to find it out. He may not like it,
but he must reconcile himself to seeing some English rival before him in
devotion to any aspect of her divinity. It is not for nothing that
poets, novelists, historians, antiquarians have been born in England for
so many ages; and not a palm's breadth of her sky, not a foot of her
earth, not a stone or brick of her myriad wallspaces but has been fondly
noted, studied, and described in prose, or celebrated in verse. English
books are full of England, and she is full of Englishmen, whom the
American, come he never so numerously, will find outnumbering him in the
pursuit of any specific charm of hers. In my wanderings otherwhere in
their islands I had occasion to observe how fond the English were of
English travel and English objects of interest, and wherever I went in
London there were Englishmen elbowing me from the front rank, not
rudely, not unkindly, but insensibly to my rights of priority as an
alien. In the old days of my Italian travels I had been used as a
foreigner to carrying it with a high hand at shrines of the beautiful or
memorable. I do not know how it is now, but in those days there was
nothing in the presence of an Italian church, gallery, palace, piazza,
or ruin that you expected less than an Italian. As for Rome, there was
no such thing as doing as the Romans do in such places, because there
were apparently no Romans to set you the example. But there are plenty
of Londoners in London, and of a curiosity about London far greater than
you can ever inspire them with for New York.

Even at such a place as the Zoological Gardens, which they must have
been visiting all their lives, there were, at least, a thousand
Englishmen for every cultivated American we could make sure of when we
went there; and as it was a Sunday, when the gardens are closed to the
general public, this overwhelming majority of natives must have come on
orders from Fellows of the Society such as we had supposed would admit
us much more selectly, if not solely. Still, the place was not crowded,
and if it had been, still it would have been delightful on a summer
afternoon, of that hovering softness, half-cloud, half-sun, which the
London sky has the patent of. The hawthorn-trees, white and pink with
their may, were like cloudlets dropped from that sky, as it then was and
would be at sunset; and there was a density of grass underfoot and
foliage overhead in which one's own childhood found itself again, so
that one felt as free for the simple pleasure of consorting with strange
beasts and birds as if one were still ten or eleven years old. But I
cannot hope to rejuvenate my readers in the same degree, and so had
better not insist upon the animals; the herds of elephants, the troops
of lions and tigers, the schools of hippopotamuses, and the
mass-meetings of anthropoid apes. Above and beyond these in their
strangeness were the figures of humanity representative of the
globe-girdling British empire, in their drawers and turbans and their
swarthy skins, who could urge a patriotic interest, impossible for me,
in the place. One is, of course, used to all sorts of alien shapes in
Central Park, but there they are somehow at once less surprising and
less significant than these Asian and African forms; they will presently
be Americans, and like the rest of us; but those dark imperialings were
already British and eternally un-English. They frequented the tea-tables
spread in pleasant shades and shelters, and ate buns and
bread-and-butter, like their fellow-subjects, but their dark liquid eyes
roamed over the blue and gold and pink of the English complexions with
an effect of mystery irreconcilable forever with the matter-of-fact mind
behind their bland masks. We called them Burmese, Eurasians, Hindoos,
Malays, and fatigued ourselves with guessing at them so that we were
faint for the tea from which they kept us at the crowded tables in the
gardens or on the verandas of the tea-houses. But we were not so
insatiable of them as of their fellow-subjects, the native British whom
one sees at a Sunday of the Zoo to perhaps special advantage. Our Sunday
was in the season, and the season had conjecturably qualified it, so
that one could sometimes feel oneself in company better than one's own.
The children were well-dressed and admirably well-behaved; they justly
outnumbered their elders, and it was obviously their day. But it was
also the day of their elders, who had made excuse of the children's
pleasure in coming to the Zoo for their own. Some indeed were not so
much their elders, and the young aunts and uncles, who were naturally
cousins, lost themselves at times a little way from the children and
maids, in the quieter walks or nooks, or took boat to be alone on the
tranquil waters with one another. They were then more interesting than
the strangest Malays and Hindoos, and I wonder what these made of them,
as they contemplated their segregation with the other thronging

We had not pledged ourselves not to go to the Zoo; we were there quite
voluntarily; but among the places which we promised ourselves not to
visit again were the South Kensington Museum and the National Gallery;
and I shall always be glad that we did not keep faith with ourselves in
regard to the last. We went to it again not once, but several times, and
always with an increasing sense of its transcendent representativity. It
is not merely that for all the schools of painting it is almost as good
as going to the continental countries where they flourished, and is much
easier. It is not only that for English history, as it lives in the
portraiture of kings and queens, and their courtiers and courtesans and
heroes and statesmen, it is the past made personal to the beholder and
forever related to himself, as if he had seen those people in the flesh.
It is, above everything else, for those rooms upon rooms crowded with
the pictures and statues and busts of the Englishmen who have made
England England in every field of achievement that is oppressively,
almost crushingly wonderful. Before that swarming population of poets,
novelists, historians, essayists, dramatists; of painters, sculptors,
architects; of astronomers, mathematicians, geologists, physicians; of
philosophers, theologians, divines; of statesmen, politicians,
inventors, actors; of philanthropists, reformers, economists, the great
of our own history need not, indeed, shrink in form, but must dwindle in
number till our past seems as thinly peopled as our continent. It is in
these rooms that the grandeur of England, historically, resides. You
may, if you are so envious, consider it in that point and this, and at
some point find her less great than the greatest of her overgrown or
overgrowing daughters, but from the presence of that tremendous
collectivity, that populous commonwealth of famous citizens whose census
can hardly be taken, you must come away and own, in the welcome
obscurity to which you plunge among the millions of her capital, that in
all-round greatness we have hardly even the imagination of her

Well towards fifty years had passed between my first and last visits to
London, but I think I had kept for it throughout that long interval much
more of the earlier sentiment than for any other city that I have known.
I do not wish to be mystical, and I hesitate to say that this sentiment
was continuous through the smell of the coal-smoke, or that the smoke
formed a solution in which all associations were held, and from which
they were, from time to time, precipitated in specific memories. The
peculiar odor had at once made me at home in London, for it had probably
so saturated my first consciousness in the little black, smoky town on
the Ohio River, where I was born, that I found myself in a most intimate
element when I now inhaled it. But apart from this personal magic, the
London smoke has always seemed to me full of charm. Of course it is
mostly the smoke which gives "atmosphere," softens outlines, tenderly
blurs forms, makes near and far the same, and _intenerisce il
cuore_, for any him whose infant sense it bathed. No doubt it
thickens the constant damp, and lends mass and viscosity to the fog; but
it is over-blamed and under-praised. It is chiefly objectionable, it is
wholly deplorable, indeed, when it descends in those sooty particles,
the _blacks;_ but in all my London sojourns I have had but one
experience of the blacks, and I will not condemn the smoke because of
them. It gives a wild pathetic glamour to the late winter sunrises and
the early winter sunsets, the beauty of which dwells still in my mind
from my first London sojourn. In my most recent autumn, it mellowed the
noons to the softest effulgence; in the summer it was a veil in the air
which kept the flame of the heated term from doing its worst. It hung,
diaphonous, in the dusty perspectives, but it gathered and thickened
about the squares and places, and subdued all edges, so that nothing cut
or hurt the vision.

I was glad of that, because I found one of my greatest pleasures in
looking at the massed tree-forms in those gardened-groves, which I never
penetrated. The greater parks are open to the public, but the squares
are enclosed by tall iron fences, and locked against the general with
keys of which the particular have the keeping in the houses about them.
It gave one a fine shiver of exclusion as populace, or mob, to look
through their barriers at children playing on the lawns within, while
their nurses sat reading, or pushed perambulators over the trim walks.
Sometimes it was even young ladies who sat reading, or, at the worst,
governesses. But commonly the squares were empty, though the grass so
invited the foot, and the benches in the border of the shade, or round
the great beds of bloom, extended their arms and spread their welcoming
laps for any of the particular who would lounge in them.

I remember only one of these neighborhood gardens which was open to the
public, and that was in the poor neighborhood which we lodged on the
edge of, equally with the edge of Belgravia. It was opened, by the great
nobleman who owned nearly the whole of that part of London, on all but
certain days of the week, with restrictions lettered on a board nearly
as big as the garden itself; but I never saw it much frequented, perhaps
because I usually happened upon it when it was locked against its
beneficiaries. Upon the whole, these London squares, though they
flattered the eye, did not console the spirit so much as the far uglier
places in New York, or the pretty places in Paris, which are free to
all. It can be said for the English way that when such places are free
to all they are not so free to some, and that is true. In this world you
have to exclude either the many or the few, and in England it is rather
the many who are excluded. Being one of those shut out, I did not like
the English way so well as ours, but if I had had keys to those locks, I
should not now dare ask myself which principle I should have preferred.
It would have been something like choosing between popular government
and family government after having been created one of the governing

Life, I felt, would be sensibly dignified if one could spend some months
of every year of it in a mansion looking down into the leafy tops of
those squares. One's mansion might not always have the company of the
most historical or patrician mansions; sometimes these are to be found
in very unexpected and even inconspicuous places; but commonly the
associated dwellings would be ample, if not noble. They would rarely be
elbowed by those structures, not yet quite so frequent in London as in
New York, which lift themselves in an outer grandeur unsupported by the
successive levels of the social pretence within. I should say that with
the English, more than with us, the perpendicular is still socially
superior to the horizontal domestication. Yet the London flats are of
more comfortable and tasteful arrangement than ours. They are better
lighted always, never having (as far as I know) dark rooms blindly
staring into airless pits; and if they are not so well heated, that is
because the English do not wish, or at least expect, to be heated at
all. The elevator is not so universal as with us, but the stairways are
easier and statelier. The public presence of the edifice is statelier,
too; but if you come to state, the grandest of these buildings must deny
its denizens the splendor of flunkeys standing before its door, on a day
or night of social function, as one sees them standing by the steps or
portals of some mansion that houses a single family. To which of the
flat-dwellers would they be supposed to belong, if they grouped
themselves at the common entrance? For anything specific in their
attendance they might almost as well be at the next street-corner.

Time and again, in these pages, I have paid my duty, which has been my
grateful pleasure, to the birds which haunt the squares, and sing there.
You are not obliged to have a householder's key in order to hear them;
and when the hawthorns and the horse-chestnuts blossomed you required a
proprietorial right as little. Somehow, my eye and ear always
disappointed themselves in the absence of rooks from such places. My
senses ought to have been better instructed than to expect rooks in
London, but they had been so educated to the sight and sound of rooks
everywhere else in England that they mechanically demanded them in town.
I do not even know what birds they were that sang in the spaces; but I
was aware of a fringe of sparrow-chirpings sharply edging their song
next the street; and where the squares were reduced to crescents, or
narrow parallelograms, or mere strips or parings of groves, I suspect
that this edging was all there was of the mesh of bird-notes so densely
interwoven in the squares.

I have spoken hitherto of that passion for dress to which all the
womanhood of England has so bewitchingly abandoned itself, and which
seemed to have reached an undue excess in the housemaid in a bolero hat
and a trained skirt, putting that white on the front steps which is so
universal in England that if the sun missed it after rising he might
instantly go down again in the supposition that it was still night. It
must always be a woman who whitens the steps; if a man-servant were to
do it any such dreadful thing might happen as would follow his blacking
the boots, which is alienably a female function. Under the circumstances
one hears much of the general decay of excellence in woman-servants in
London. They are far less amiable, patient, respectful, and faithful
than when their mistresses were young. This may be from the fact that so
many more employments besides domestic service seem to be open to girls.
Apparently very young girls are preferred in the innumerable postal-
stations, if one may judge from the children of tender years who sell
you stamps, and take your telegrams and register your letters. I used at
first to tremble for a defective experience, if not a defective
intelligence in them, but I did not find them inadequate to their duties
through either. Still their employment was so phenomenal that I could
not help remarking upon it. None of my English friends seemed to have
noticed it, till at last one, who _had_ noticed it, said he
believed it was because the government found them cheap, and was in that
way helping repay itself for the enormous expenses of the Boer War.

In the London shops I did not think women were so generally employed as
in our own, or those of the Continent. But this may have been a
conclusion from careless observation. In the book-stores to which I most
resorted, and which I did not think so good as ours, I remember to have
seen but one saleswoman. Of course saleswomen prevail in all the large
stores where women's goods, personal and household, are sold, and which
I again did not think comparable to ours. Seldom in any small shop, or
even book-stall or newspaper-stand, did women seem to be in charge. But
at the street-markets, especially those for the poorer customers,
market-women were the rule. I should say, in fine, that woman was a far
more domestic animal in London than in Paris, and never quite the beast
of burden that she is in Berlin, or other German cities great or small;
but I am not going to sentimentalize her lot in England. Probably it is
only comparatively ideal in the highest classes. In the lower and lowest
its hardship is attested by the stunted stature, and the stunted figure
of the ordinary English lower-class woman. Even among the elect of the
afternoon parade in the Park, I do not think there was so great an
average of tall young girls as in any fashionable show with us, where
they form the patriciate which our plutocracy has already flowered into.
But there was a far greater average of tall young men than with us;
which may mean that, with the English, nobility is a masculine

As for those great department stores with which the question of women
relates itself inevitably, I have cursorily assumed our priority in
them, and the more I think of them, the more I am inclined to believe
myself right. But that is a matter in which women only may be decisive;
the nice psychology involved cannot be convincingly studied by the other
sex. I will venture, again, however, so far into this strange realm as
to say that the subordinate shops did not seem so many or so good in
London as in New York, though when one remembers the two Bond Streets,
and Oxford, and lower Piccadilly, one might feel the absurdity of
claiming superiority for Broadway, or Fourteenth and Twenty-third
streets, or Union and Madison squares, or the parts of Third and Sixth
avenues to which ladies' shopping has spread. After all, perhaps there
is but one London, in this as in some other things.

Among the other things are hardly the restaurants which abound with us,
good, bad, and indifferent. In the affair of public feeding, of the
costliest, as well as the cheapest sorts, we may, with our polyglot
menus, safely challenge the competition of any metropolis in the world,
not to say the universe. It is not only that we make the openest show of
this feeding, and parade it at windows, whereas the English retire it to
curtained depths within, but that, in reality, we transact it
ubiquitously, perpetually. In both London and New York it is exotic for
the most part, or, at least, on the higher levels, and the
administration is in the hands of those foreigners who take our money
for learning English of us. But there is no such range of Italian and
French and German restaurants in London as in New York, and of what
there are none are at once so cheap and so good as ours. The cheaper
restaurants are apt to be English, sincere in material, but heavy and
unattractive in expression; in everything culinary the island touch
seems hopelessly inartistic. One Sunday morning, far from home, when the
lunch came prematurely, we found all the English eating-houses devoutly
shut, and our wicked hope was in a little Italian _trattoria_ which
opened its doors to the alien air with some such artificial effect as an
orange-tree in a tub might expand its blossoms. There was a strictly
English company within, and the lunch was to the English taste, but the
touch was as Latin as it could have been by the Arno or the Tiber or on
the Riva degli Schiavoni.

At the great restaurants, where one may see fashion lunching, the
kitchen seemed of an equal inspiration with Sherry's or Delmonico's, but
the _entourage_ was less oppressively glaring, and the service had
more moments of effacing itself, and allowing one to feel oneself a
principal part of the drama. That is often the case with us in the
simpler sort of eating-houses, where it is the neat hand of Phyllis that
serves rather than that of the white-aproned or dress-coated Strephon of
either color or any nationality. My profoundest and distinctest
impression of Phyllidian service is from a delightful lunch which I had
one golden noonday in that famous and beautiful house, Crosby Place,
Bishopsgate, which remains of much the perpendicular Gothic state in
which Sir John Crosby proudly built it from his grocer's and woolman's
gains in 1466. It had afterwards added to it the glory of lodging
Richard III., who, both as protector and as sovereign-prince made
appointments there, in Shakespeare's tragedy of him, for the Lady Anne,
for Catesby, and for the "First Murderer," whom he praises for his
thoughtfulness in coming for the "warrant," that he might be admitted to
their victim.

"Well thought upon; I have it here about me.
When you have done, repair to Crosby place."

Probably the First Murderer lunched there, four hundred years ago, "when
he had done as I did now"; but, in the mean time, Henry VIII. had given
Crosby Place to a rich Italian merchant, one Anthony Bonvice; later,
ambassadors had been received in it; the first Earl of Northampton had
enlarged it, and dwelt in it as lord mayor; in 1638 the East India
Company had owned it, and later yet, in 1673, it was used for a
Presbyterian meeting-house; but in 1836 it was restored to its ancient
form and function. I do not know how long it has been an eating-house,
but I hope it may long remain so, for the sensation and refreshment of
Americans who love a simple and good refection in a mediaeval setting,
at a cost so moderate that they must ever afterwards blush for it. You
penetrate to its innermost perpendicularity through a passage that
enclosed a "quick-lunch" counter, and climb from a most noble banquet-
hall crammed with hundreds of mercantile gentlemen "feeding like one" at
innumerable little tables, to a gallery where the musicians must have
sat of old. There it was that Phyllis found and neat-handedly served my
friend and me, gently experiencing a certain difficulty in our combined
addition, but mastering the arithmetical problem presently, and taking
our tip with an air of surprise which it never created in any of the
English-learning Swiss, French, or Italian Strephons who elsewhere
ministered to us.

The waitresses at Crosby Place were of a girlish dignity which never
expected and was never visibly offered the familiar pleasantries which
are the portion of that strange, sad, English creation, the barmaid. In
tens of thousands of London public-houses she stands with her hand on
beer-pumps, and exchanges jocose banalities with persons beyond the
counter in whose dim regard she must show a mere blur of hardened
loveliness against her background of bottles and decanters; but the
waitress at Crosby Place is of an ideal of behavior as fine as that of
any Phyllis in a White Mountain hotel; and I thought it to the honor of
the lunchers that they seemed all to know it. The gentle influence of
her presence had spread to a restaurant in the neighborhood where,
another day, in trying for Crosby Place, I was misled by the mediaeval
aspect of the entrance, and where I found waitresses again instead of
waiters. But nowhere else do I remember them, always excepting the
manifold tea-houses of the metropolis, and those repeated A. B. C.
cold-lunch places of the Aerated Bread Company, where a chill has
apparently been imparted to their bearing by the temperature of the food
they serve. It is very wholesome, however, and it may be rather that a
New England severity in them is the effect of the impersonal relation of
served and server which no gratuity humanizes.

It would not be easy to fathom the reason for the employment of girls as
ushers in the London theatres. Perhaps it is to heighten the glamour of
a place whose glamour hardly needs heightening, or more probably it is
to soften the asperity of the play-goer who finds himself asked sixpence
for that necessary evil, the programme. But, now I come to think of it,
most of the play-goers in London are Englishmen who have been always
used to paying, ancestrally and personally, sixpence for their
programmes and feel no asperity at being so plundered. The true
explanation may be found, after all, in the discovery, akin to the
government's, that their service is cheaper than men ushers' would be.
Children of as tender years as those who manage the postal-stations, go
round with tea and coffee between the acts, as with us the
myriad-buttoned ice-water boy passes; but whereas this boy returns
always with a tray of empty glasses, I never saw a human being drink
either the tea or coffee offered by those female infants in any London

Let it be not supposed, however, that I went much to London theatres. I
went perhaps half a dozen times in as many weeks. Once settled in my
chair, I might well have fancied myself at home in a New York theatre,
except that the playing seemed rather better, and the English intonation
not quite so scrupulously English as that which our actors have produced
after a conscientious study of the original. I heard that the English
actors had studied the American accent for a play imported from us; but
I did not see this play, and I am now very sorry. The American accent,
at least, must have been worth hearing, if one might judge from the
reproductions of our parlance which I heard in private life by people
who had sojourned, or merely travelled, among us. These were so
unfailingly delightful, that one could not have wished them more like.

The arriving and departing of theatre-goers by night adds sensibly to
the brilliancy of the complexion of London. The flare of electricity in
the region of the theatres made a midnight summer in the empty heart of
September, and recalled the gayety of the season for the moment to the
desolate metropolis. But this splendor was always so massed and so vivid
that even in the height of the season it was one of the things that
distinguished itself among the various immense impressions. The
impressions were all, if I may so try to characterize them, transitory;
they were effects of adventitious circumstances; they were not
structural in their origin. The most memorable aspect of the Strand or
Fleet Street would not be its moments of stately architecture, but its
moments of fog or mist, when its meanest architecture would show
stately. The city won its moving grandeur from the throng of people
astir on its pavements, or the streams of vehicles solidifying or
liquefying in its streets. The august groups of Westminster and
Parliament did not seem in themselves spectacular; they needed the
desertedness of night, and the pour of the moon into the comparative
emptiness of the neighborhood, to fill them out to the proportions of
their keeping in the memory. Is Trafalgar Square as imposing as it has
the chance of being? It is rather scattered and spotty, and wants
somehow the magic by which Paris moves the spirit in the Place de la
Concorde, or Edinburgh stirs the soul with its suggestions of old
steel-engravings of Athens. Of course St. Paul's has a prodigious
opportunity, as the multitudinous omnibuses roll their tide towards its
facade, but it is not equal to its opportunity. Bit for bit, there is
not quite any bit in London like that edifice of smutted Greek on which
the newly arrived American looks from his breakfast-table in his
Liverpool hotel, and realizes that he is in England. I am far from
thinking the black of the coal-smoke a disadvantage to the London
architecture. Pure white marble is all very well, and the faint rose
that the stone takes from a thousand years of Italian sunsets is not
bad; but the black blur on the surfaces of St. Paul's lends wall and
dome and pillar a depth of shadow which only the electric glare of
tropic suns can cast. The smoke enriches the columns which rise, more or
less casually as it seems, from the London streets and squares, and one
almost hates to have it cleaned off or painted under on the fronts of
the aristocratic mansions. It is like having an old picture restored;
perhaps it has to be done, but it is a pity.

The aristocratic mansions themselves, the hundreds of large houses of
the proudest nobility in the world, are by no means overwhelming. They
hold their primacy among the other pieces of domestic architecture, as
their owners hold their primacy in society, very quietly, if very
stolidly, and one would have, I fancy, to come much harder against them
than one would be allowed to do, in order to feel their quality
intimately. There they are, in Park Lane, and the park neighborhood of
Piccadilly, and the larger and lesser streets of Mayfair, and the
different squares and gardens and places; and certain of them may be
visited at certain times on application by the tourist. But that is a
barren pleasure which one easily denies oneself in behalf of the simpler
and more real satisfactions of London. The charm of the vast friendly
old place is not in such great houses, as its grandeur is not in its
monuments. Now and then such a house gave evidence of high social
preparation during the season in flinging out curtained galleries or
pavilions towards the street, if it stood back; if it stood flush upon
the sidewalk a group of fifteen or twenty flunkeys, and the continual
arrest of carriages would attest its inward state; but the genius of the
race is to keep its own to itself, even its own splendors and grandeurs,
except on public occasions when it shines forth in incomparable

If London, then, is not habitually grandiose, or monumental, or
beautiful, what is it? I should say, with much fear of contradiction and
scornful laughter, that it was pretty, that it was endearingly nooky,
cornery, curvy, with the enchantment of trees and flowers everywhere
mixed with its civic turmoil, and the song of birds heard through the
staccato of cabs, and the muffled bellow of omnibuses. You may not like
London, but you cannot help loving it. The monuments, if I may keep
coming back to them, are plain things, often, with no attempt upon the
beholder's emotions. In the process of time, I suspect that the Albert
Memorial will not be the most despised among them, for it expresses,
even if it over-expresses, a not ignoble idea, and if it somewhat
stutters and stammers, it does at last get it out; it does not stand
mum, like the different shy, bashful columns stuck here and there, and
not able to say what they would be at.

If one comes to the statues there are, of course, none so good as the
Farragut in Madison Square, or the Logan on the Lake front at Chicago,
and, on the whole, I remember those at Washington as better. There are
not so many English kings standing or riding about as one would expect;
the English kings have, indeed, not been much to brag of in bronze or
marble, though in that I do not say they are worse than other kings. I
think, but I am not sure, that there are rather more public men of
inferior grade than kings, though this may be that they were more
impressive. Most noticeable was the statue of Disraeli, which, on
Primrose Day, I saw much garlanded and banked up with the favorite
flower of that peculiarly rustic and English statesman. He had the air
of looking at the simple blossoms and forbearing an ironical smile, or
was this merely the fancy of the spectator? Among the royal statues is
that of the Charles whom they put to death, and who was so unequal in
character though not in spirit to his dread fate. It was stolen away,
and somewhere long hid by his friends or foes, but it is now to be seen
in the collection of Trafalgar Square, so surely the least imposing of
equestrian figures that it is a pity it should ever have been found. For
a strikingly handsome man, all his statues attest how little he lent
himself to sculpture.

Not far away is another equestrian statue, which never failed to give me
a start, when I suddenly came upon it in a cab. It looked for an instant
quite like many statues of George Washington, as it swept the air with
its doffed hat, but a second glance always showed it the effigy of
George the Third, bowing to posterity with a gracious eighteenth-century
majesty. If it were possible, one would like to think that the
resemblance mentioned had grown upon it, and that it in the case of
Americans was the poor king's ultimate concession to the good-feeling
which seems to be reuniting the people he divided.



The amiable afternoon of late April which we chose for going to Hampton
Court, made my return to the place after an interval of twenty odd
years, a sort of triumphal progress by embowering the course of our
train with plum and pear and cherry trees in a white mist of bloom. Long
before we reached the country these lovely apparitions abounded in the
back-yards of the little city and suburban dwellings which we ran
between, and the bits of gardens were full of homely flowers; when we
got to open expanses where nature could find room to spread in lawns
that green English turf of hers, the grass was starry with daisies and
sunny with dandelions. The poets used to call that sort of thing
enamelling, and it was not distasteful, in our approach to such a
kindly, artificial old place as Hampton Court, to suppose that we were
passing through enamelled meads. Under the circumstances we might have
expected our train to purl, in default of a stream to perform the part,
and I can truly say of it that it arrived with us in a mood so pastoral
that I still cannot understand why we did not ask for a fly at the
station in a couplet out of Pope. We got the fly easily enough in our
prose vernacular, and the driver hid his surprise at our taking it for
the little distance to the palace, which it would have been so much
pleasanter to walk.

Yet, I do not know but we were instinctively wise in coming to the
entrance of the fine old paved courtyard with a certain suddenness: if
we had left it much more time the grass between the bricks might have
overgrown them, and given an air of ruin to precincts that for centuries
have been held from decay, in the keeping of life at once simple and
elegant. Though Hampton Court has never been the residence of the
English kings since the second George gave the third George an enduring
disgust for it by boxing the ears of the boy there in a fit of
grandfatherly impatience, it has been and is the home of many English
gentlefolk, rarely privileged, in a land of rare privileges, to live in
apartments granted them by royal favor. In former times the privilege
was now and then abused by tenants who sublet their rooms in lodgings;
but the abuse has long been broken up, and now there cannot be, in the
whole earth, a more dignified dwelling for the dowager of a
distinguished or merely favored family than such as the royal pleasure
freely grants at Hampton Court. Doubtless the crumpled rose-leaf is
there, as it is everywhere, but unless it is there to lend a faint
old-fashioned odor as of _pot-pourri_ to life in those apartments,
I do not believe that it abounds in any of them.

The things I had chiefly in mind from my former visit were the beauties
of the Stuarts' time, and of Sir Peter Lely's pencil, in the galleries
of the palace, and the secular grape-vine which I found in its familiar
place in a corner of the conservatories. I will not say which I paid my
devoirs to first, but if it was the vine, I can truly declare that I did
not find it looking a day older since I had seen it last in 1882. It
could hardly have said as much for me, but I reflected that I had not
been two hundred years old to begin with, and consoled myself as I could
in my consciousness that I was really not so young by twenty odd years
as I once was. Yet I think it must be a dull and churlish nature which
would wish to refuse the gentle contemporaneity offered by the unaging
antiquity at Hampton Court. I should at this moment be glad to share the
youthful spirit of the sunken garden which I passed on my way to the
famous vine, and in which with certain shapes of sculpture and blossom,
I admired the cockerels snipped out of arbor-vitae in the taste of a
world more childlike than ours, and at the same time so much older. The
Dutch taste of it all, once removed from a French taste, or twice from
the Italian, and mostly naturalized to the English air by the good
William and Mary (who were perhaps chiefly good in comparison with all
their predecessors from Henry VIII. down to the second and worst of the
Jameses), comes to its most endearing expression in that long arbor of
clipped wych-elms, near the sunken garden, called Mary's bower, which,
on our April afternoon, was woolly with the first effort of its boughs
to break into leaf.

We did not penetrate its perspective, for it seems one of the few things
at Hampton Court barred to the public. Everywhere else the place is free
to the visitor, who may walk as he pleases on its garden-paths, or over
its close-woven turf, or sit out of the sun under its dense black yews,
or stroll beneath the oaks by the banks of the Long Canal. If the canal
is Dutch, the burly trees which lounge about at their pleasure in the
park, impart the true English sentiment to the scene; but, for my part,
I did not care to go far from the borders of the beds of hyacinths and
tulips and daffodils. The grass sighed with secret tears under the foot,
and it was better to let the fancy, which would not feel the need of
goloshes, rove disembodied to the bosky depths into which the oaks
thickened afar, dim amid the vapor-laden air. From the garden-plots one
could look, dry-shod, down upon the Thames, along which the pretty town
of Hampton stretches, and in whose lively current great numbers of
house-boats tug at their moorings. The Thames beside the palace is not
only swift but wide, and from the little flowery height on which we
surveyed these very modernest of pleasure-craft they had a remove at
which they were lost in an agreeable mystery. Even one which we were
told belonged to a rich American could not alienate itself from the past
when there were no United States, and very few united colonies. The
poorest American, if he could not have a lodgement in the palace (and I
do not see how the royal bounty could extend to one of our disinherited
condition), or one of the pleasant Hampton houses overlooking the river,
might be glad to pass the long, mild English summer, made fast to the
willowy bank of the Thames, without mosquitoes or malaria to molest him
or make him afraid in his dreamful sojourn.

By all the laws of picturesque dealing with other times the people whose
portraits we had seen in the galleries ought to have been in the garden
or about the lawns in hospitable response to the interest of their
trans-Atlantic visitors; but in mere common honesty, I must own they
were not. They may have become tired of leaving their frames at the
summons of the imaginations which have so often sought to steal their
color for a dull page, and to give the charm of their tragedy or comedy
to a passage which otherwise would not move. I do not blame them, and I
advise the reader not to expect a greater complaisance of them than we
experienced. But in all that densely-storied England, where every scene
has memories accumulated one upon another till the sense aches under
them, I think there is none that surpasses, if any vies with this.

What makes the charm of Hampton Court is that from first to last it lies
in an air clearer of fable or tradition than that which involves most
other seats of power. For we do like to know what we are dealing with,
in the past as in the present, and in proportion as we are ourselves
real, we love reality in other people, whether they still live or
whether they died long ago. If they were people of eminence, we gratify
in supreme degree the inextinguishable passion for good society innate
in every one by consorting with royalties and titles whom we may here
know as we know our contemporary equals, through facts and traits even
better ascertained. At Hampton Court we are really at home with the
great parvenu who began the palace in such magnificence that none of the
successive princes have excelled it in design, and who when his fear of
the jealous tyrant compelled him to offer it to his king, could make
such a gift as no subject ever before laid at the feet of a sovereign.
The grandeur of Cardinal Wolsey, and the meanness of Henry VIII., in the
sufferance and the performance of that extortion are as sensible in the
local air as if they were qualities of some event in our own day, and
the details of the tyrant's life in the palace remain matters of as
clear knowledge as those of some such tragedy as the recent taking off
of the Servian king and queen. The annals are so explicit that no veil
of uncertainty hangs between us and the lapse of Anne Boleyn from the
throne to the scaffold; we see Catherine Howard as in an instantaneous
photograph escaping from her prison-chamber and running through the
gallery to implore the mercy of Henry at mass in the chapel, and, as if
a phonograph were reporting them, we hear the wretched woman's screams
when she is pursued and seized and carried back, while the king
continues devoutly in the chapel at prayer. The little life of Edward
VI. relates itself as distinctly to the palace where he was born; and
one is all but personally witness there to the strange episode of
Elizabeth's semi-imprisonment while Bloody Mary, now sister and now
sovereign, balanced her fate as from hand to hand, and hesitated whether
to make her heiress to a throne or to a crown of martyrdom. She chose
wisely in the end, for Elizabeth was fitter for mortal than immortal
glory, and for the earthly fame of Mary Queen of Scots Elizabeth in her
turn did not choose unwisely, however unwittingly, when amid her
coquetting and counselling with her statesmen and lovers at Hampton
Court she drew the toils closer and closer about her victim. But here I
ought to own that all this is a reflected light from after-reading, and
not from my previous knowledge of the local history. In making my
confession, however, I am not sure that the sort of general ignorance I
brought to it was not a favorable medium through which to view Hampton
Court. If you come prepared with the facts, you are hampered by them and
hindered in the enjoyment of the moment's chances. You are obliged to
verify them, from point to point, but if you learn them afterwards you
can arrange them in your memories of the scene, where you have wandered
vaguely about in a liberal and expansive sense of unlimited historical
possibilities. I am able now to realize, without having missed one charm
of our spring afternoon in those entrancing bounds that the son of Mary
Stuart was as fond of Hampton Court, when he came there king, as
Elizabeth herself.

It was there that James I. confronted and confuted the Puritan divines
whom he invited to lay their complaints before him, and there in his
pedantic brow-beating so hammered their hard metal that he tempered it
to the sword soon to be unsheathed against his son; it was there that
Charles began the famous quarrel with his queen which ended in his
deporting Henrietta Maria's French adherents, or, as he wrote
Buckingham, "dryving them away, lyke so many wylde beastes ... and soe
the Devill goe with them"; it was there that more importantly when an
honorable captive of Parliament, he played fast and loose, after the
fashion he was born to, with Cromwell and the other generals who would
have favored his escape, and even his restoration to the throne, if they
could have found any truth in him to rest a treaty on. It was at Hampton
that Cromwell, when the palace became his home, first put on something
of royal state, always with lapses through his _bonhomie_ into
good-fellowship with his officers, and never with any help from his
simple-hearted wife; that the death of his daughter, amid these fitful
glories, broke his heart, and he drooped and sickened to his own end,
which a change to the different air of Whitehall did not delay; that
after the little time of Richard Cromwell's protectorate, Hampton Court
had another royal lord in the second Charles, who repeated history in a
quarrel with his queen, for none of the good reasons which the first
Charles had in the like contention. The father's tergiversations with
Cromwell may be supposed to have given a glamour of kingcraft to his
sojourn later, but the bad part which the son took against his wife was
without one dignifying circumstance. One reads with indignation still
hot how he brought the plain little Portuguese woman there for their
honeymoon, and brightened it for her by thrusting upon her the intimacy
of his mistress Lady Castlemaine; how he was firm for once in his
yielding life, when he compelled Clarendon to the base office of coaxing
and frightening the queen who had trusted the old man as a father; how,
like the godless blackguard he was, the "merry monarch," swore "before
Almighty God," in his letter to the chancellor, that he was "resolved to
go through with this matter" of forcing his paramour upon his wife, with
the added threat, "and whomsoever I find my Lady Castlemaine's enemy" in
it, "I do promise upon my word to be his enemy as long as I live." It is
less wonderful that the unhappy creature whose spirit he broke should
have been crushed, than that the English people, to whom the king's bad
life was an open book, should have suffered him. But perhaps, even this
was less wonderful than their patience with the harsh virtue of the
Puritans. It is not well to be good, or make others be good at the cost
of every ease and grace of life, and though it seems strange and sad to
us republicans that the mighty English commonwealth should have been
supplanted by such a monarchy as that restored in Charles, it may not be
so strange as it was sad. The life which attests itself in the beauties
of Lely and of Kneller on the walls of Hampton Court, when it began to
have its free course was doubtless none the purer for having been frozen
at its source. The world is a long time being saved from itself, and it
has had to go back for many fresh starts. If the beautiful women whose
wickedness is recorded by the court painters in a convention of wanton
looks, rather than by a severally faithful portraiture, can be regarded
simply as a part of the inevitable reaction from a period when men had
allowed women to be better, we shall not have so much difficulty in
showing them mercy. If only after a lapse of twenty years they would not
look so much like old acquaintances who had kept their youth too well,
one need certainly not be shy of them. Even if all the beauties were as
bad as they were painted, there are many other women not ostensibly bad
whose pictures fill Hampton Court; but, knowing what galleries are, how
mortally fatiguing to every fibre, I should not think of making the
reader follow me through the long rooms of the palace, and I will now
own that I even spared myself many details in this second visit of mine.

Historically, as I retrospectively perceived, it never ceases to be most
intimately interesting down to the day of that third George who had his
ears boxed there. The second James had almost as little to do with it as
our last king; he was in such haste to go wrong everywhere else that he
had no time for the place where other sovereigns before and after him
took their pleasure. But William and Mary seemed to give it most of
their leisure; to the great little Dutchman it was almost as dear as if

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