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London Films by W.D. Howells

Part 3 out of 4

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it were a bit of Holland, and even more to his mind than Kensington. His
queen planted it and kept it to his fancy while he was away fighting the
Stuarts in Ireland; and when she was dead, he continued to pull down and
build up at Hampton Court as long as he lived, laying the sort of
ruthless hand upon its antiquity with which the unsparing present always
touches the past. He sickened towards his end there, and one day his
horse stepping into a mole-hill when the king was hunting (in the park
where the kings from Henry VIII. down had chased the deer), fell with
him and hurt him past surgery; but it was at Kensington that he shortly
afterwards died. Few indeed, if any of the royal dwellers at Hampton
Court breathed their last in air supposed so life-giving by Wolsey when
he made it his seat. They loved it and enjoyed it, and in Queen Anne's
time, when under a dull sovereign the civility of England brightened to
Augustan splendor, the deep-rooted stem of English poetry burst there
into the most exquisite artificial flower which it ever bore; for it was
at Hampton Court that the fact occurred, which the fancy of the poet
fanned to a bloom, as lasting as if it were rouge, in the matchless
numbers of _The Rape of the Lock_.

Such pleasure-parties as that in which the lovely Arabella Fermor lost
her curl under the scissors of Lord Petre, must have had the best of the
gayety, in the time of the first and second Georges, for Pope himself,
writing of it in one of his visits in 1717, described the court life as
one of dull and laborious etiquette. Yet what was fairest and brightest
and wittiest, if not wisest in England graced it, and the names of
Bellenden and Lepell and Montagu, of Harvey and Chesterfield, of Gay and
Pope and Walpole, flash and fade through the air that must have been so
heavy even at Hampton Court in these reigns. After all, it is the common
people who get the best of it when some lordly pleasure-house for which
they have paid comes back to them, as palaces are not unapt finally to
do; and it is not unimaginable that collectively they bring as much
brilliancy and beauty to its free enjoyment as the kings and courtiers
did in their mutually hampered pleasures.

Though the Georges began to divide the palace up into the apartments for
the kind of permanent guests of the state who now inhabit them, it was
not until well into the time of the late queen that the galleries and
gardens were thrown open, without price or restriction, to the public.
Whosever the instinct or inspiration was, the graciousness of it may
probably be attributed to the mother-hearted sovereign whose goodness
gave English monarchy a new lease of life in the affections of her
subjects, and raised loyalty to a part of their religion. I suppose that
actual rags and dirt would not be admitted to Hampton Court, but I doubt
if any misery short of them would be excluded. Our fellow-visitors were
of all types, chiefly of the humbler English, and there were not many
obvious aliens among them. With that passion and pride in their own
which sends them holidaying over the island to every point of historic
or legendary interest, and every scene famous for its beauty, they
strayed about the grounds and garden-paths of Hampton Court and through
the halls of state, and revered the couches and thrones of the dead
kings and queens in their bed-chambers and council-chambers, and perused
the pictures on the walls, and the frescoes in the roofs. Oftenest they
did not seem persons who could bring a cultivated taste to their
enjoyment, but fortunately that was not essential to it, and possibly it
was even greater without that. They could not have got so much hurt from
the baleful beauties of Charles's court without their history as with
it, and where they might not have been protected by their ignorance,
they were saved by their preoccupation with one another, for they mostly
hunted the objects of interest in courting couples.

We were going, after we had shared their sight-seeing, to enjoy the
special privilege of visiting one of the private apartments into which
the palace has been so comfortably divided up. But here, I am sorry to
say, I must close the door in the reader's face, and leave him to cool
his heels (I regret the offensiveness of the expression, but I cannot
help it) on the threshold of the apartment, at the top of the historic
staircase which he will have climbed with us, until we come out again. I
do not mind telling him that nothing could be more charmingly homelike,
and less like the proud discomfort of a palace, than the series of rooms
we saw. For a moment, also, I will allow him to come round into the
little picturesque court, gay with the window-gardens of its quaint
casements, where we can look down upon him from the leads of our
apartment. He ought to feel like a figure in an uncommonly pretty water-
color, for he certainly looks like one, under the clustering gables and
the jutting lattices. But if he prefers coming to life as a sight-seer
he may join us at the door of Cardinal Wolsey's great kitchen, now
forming part of our hostess's domain. The vast hearth is there yet, with
its crane and spit, and if the cardinal could come back he might have a
dinner cooked at it for Edward VII. with very little more trouble than
for Henry VIII. three or four hundred years ago. "But what in the
world," the reader may ask me, putting his hand on an old sedan-chair,
which is somewhere in the same basement, if not in the kitchen itself,
"is this?" I answer him, quite easily: "Oh, that is the Push," and
explain that though now mounted on wheels instead of poles, the
sedan-chair is still in actual use, and any lady-dweller in the
apartments has the right of going to a dinner, or for what I know a
"rout" in it, wherever it can be propelled within the precincts of the

I suppose it is not taken out into the town, and I do not know that the
ladies of the apartments ever visit there. In spite of this misgiving,
Hampton remains one of the innumerable places in England where I should
like to live always. Its streets follow the Thames, or come and go from
the shores so pleasantly, that there is a sense of the river in it
everywhere; and though I suppose people do not now resort to the place
so much by water as they used, one is quite free to do so if one likes.
We had not thought, however, to hire a waterman with his barge in
coming, and so we poorly went back by the train. I say poorly in a
comparative sense only, for there are many worse things in the world
than running up to London in the cool, the very cool, of an April
evening from Hampton Court. At such an hour you see the glad young
suburban husbands, who have got home for the day, digging in the gardens
at the backs of the pretty houses which your train passes, and the glad
young wives, keeping round after them, and seeing they do not make play
of their work. A neat maid in a cap pushes a garden-roller over the
path, or a perambulator with a never-failing baby in it. The glimpse of
domestic bliss is charming; and then it is such a comfort to get back to
London, which seems to have been waiting, like a great plain, kind
metropolis-mother, to welcome you home again, and ask what you would
rather have for dinner.



The invention of Week-Ends is a feat of the English social genius
dating since long after my stay of twenty-odd years ago. Like so many
other English mysteries it is very simple, and consists of dedicating
the waste space of time between Friday afternoon and Monday forenoon to
visits out of town. It is the time when, if you have friends within
reasonable, or even unreasonable reach of London, you are asked down.
Science has ascertained that in this interval of fifty or sixty hours no
one can do anything, and that the time had better be frankly given up to

Yet, for the alien sojourner in London, there are no such intervals
between sights, or perhaps between engagements, and we found a whole
week-end beyond our grasp, though ever so temptingly entreated to spend
it here or there in the country. That was why we were going down to the
place of a friend one Sunday morning instead of a Friday evening and
coming back the same day instead of the next. But we were glad of our
piece of a week-end, and we had reason to be especially grateful for the
Sunday when we had it, for it was one of the most perfect of its kind.
There used to be such Sundays in America when people were young, and I
suppose there are such Sundays there yet for children; but if you are no
longer so very young you will be more apt to find them in England, where
Sunday has been studying, ever since the Romans began to observe it, in
just what proportion to blend the blue and white in its welkin, and to
unite warmth and coolness in its air.

I have no doubt there were multitudes going to church that morning, but
our third-class compartment was filled with people going into the
country for the day; fathers and grandfathers taking the little ones for
an endless time in the fields and woods, which are often free in that
much-owned England, while the may was yet freshly red and white on the
hawthorns in the first week in June. Among our fellow-passengers that
morning a young mother, not much older than her five children, sat with
her youngest in her arms, while the other four perched at the edge of
the seat, two on each side of her, all one stare of blue eyes, one flare
of red cheeks: very still, very good, very sweet; when it came to
lifting them out of the car after her, the public had to help. One's
heart must go with these holiday-makers as they began to leave the train
after the last suburban stations, where they could feel themselves
fairly in the country, and really enter upon their joy. It was such
motherly looking country, and yet young with springtime, and of a breath
that came balmily in at the open car-windows; and the trees stood about
in the meadows near the hedge-rows as if they knew what a good thing it
was to be meadow-trees in England, where not being much good for fuel
or lumber they could stand for ages and ages, and shelter the sheep and
cattle without danger of the axe.

At our own station we found our host's motor waiting for us, and after
waiting for some one else, who did not come by the next train, it
whisked us much sooner than we could have wished over the nine miles of
smooth road stretching to his house. The English are always telling you,
if you are an American, how the Americans think nothing of distances,
and they apparently derive their belief from the fact that it is a
thousand miles from New York to Chicago, and again some two thousand to
San Francisco. In vain you try to explain that we do not step casually
aboard a train for either of those places, or, indeed, without much
moral and material preparation. But perhaps if you did not mind being
shorn of the sort of fairy glamour which you are aware attaches to you
from our supposed contempt of space, you could make out a very pretty
case against them, in convicting them of an even greater indifference to
distances. The lengths to which they will go in giving and accepting
invitations for week-ends are amazing; and a run from London down to
Ultima Thule for a week is thought nothing of, or much less of than a
journey from New York to Bar Harbor. But the one is much more in the
English social scheme than the other is in ours; and perhaps the
distance at which a gentleman will live from his railroad-station in the
country is still more impressive. The American commuter who drives night
and morning two or three miles after leaving and before getting his
train, thinks he is having quite drive enough; if he drives six miles
the late and early guest feels himself badly used; but apparently such
distances are not minded in England. The motor, indeed, has now come to
devour them; but even when they had to be nibbled away by a public fly,
they seem not to have been regarded as evils.

For the stranger they certainly could not be an evil. Every foot, every
inch of the way was delightful, and we only wished that our motor could
have conceived of our pleasure in the wayside things to which custom had
made it indifferent. There were some villages in the course of that
swift flight where we could have willingly spent a week of such Sundays:
villages with gables and thatches and tiles, and flowery door-yards and
kitchen-gardens, such as could not be had for millionaire money with us,
and villagers in their church-going best, whom, as they lived in the
precious scene, our lightning progress suffered us to behold in a sort
of cinematographic shimmer. Clean white shirt-sleeves are the symbol of
our race's rustic Sunday leisure everywhere; and the main difference
that I could note between our own farmer-folk and these was that at home
they would be sitting on the top of rail-fences or stone-walls, and here
they were hanging over gates; you cannot very well sit on the tops of

If one part of England can be said to be more charming than another, and
I suppose that there are odds in its loveliness, I think there can be no
doubt but we were that day in one of the most beautiful regions within
an hour's reach of London. We were pretty constantly mounting in our
motor-flight from the station; the uplands opened round us, and began
to roll far away towards the liberal horizon, in undulations that were
very stately. There is something, indeed, in the sufficiency of English
downs which satisfies without surfeiting, and this we had from the
windows and gardened levels of our friends' house even more than from
the highroad, which we suddenly left to approach the place by a way of
its own. Mountains would have been out of key with the landscape; downs
were just right.

I do not know why the house was the more agreeable for being new, and
for being the effect of our friends' immediate and not their ancestral
fancy, quite as it would have been with most of our friends'
country-houses at home. We certainly had not come to England for newness
of any kind, but we liked the gardens and the shrubberies being new; and
my content was absolute when I heard from our friends that they had at
one time thought of building their house of wood: the fact seemed to
restore me from a homesick exile to the wood-built continent which I had
so willingly forsaken only a few weeks before.

But what better do we ever ask of a strange land than that it shall
render us some fleeting image of the nearest and dearest things of home?
What I had reasonably or logically come to England for was nature tamed
to the hand of man; but whenever I came upon a bit of something wild,
something savage-looking, gaunt, huge, rugged, I rejoiced with an
insensate pleasure in its likeness to the roughest aspect of America
that association could conjure up. I dare say that was very stupid, but
it is best to be honest in such matters as well as in some others, and I
will own that when our friends took us the walk over the downs which
they had promised us, nothing could have gladdened me so much as to
enter a secret and solemn wood of immemorial yews by a cart-track
growing fainter and fainter as it left the fields, and finally
forgetting itself altogether in the sombre depths of shade. Then I said
to my soul that it might have been a wood-road in the White Mountains,
mouldering out of memory of the clearing where the young pines and
birches had grown into good-sized trees since the giants of the primeval
forest were slain and dragged out over its snows and mosses.

The masses of the red may and the white may which stood here and there
in the border of the yews, might have been the blossom of the wilding
apple-trees which often guard the approaches to our woods; the parent
hawthorns were as large and of the same lovely tints, but I could recall
nothing that was quite American when once we had plunged into the shadow
of these great yews, and I could not even find their like in the English
literature which is the companion of American nature. I could think only
of the weird tree-shapes which an artist once greatly acclaimed, and
then so mocked that I am almost ashamed to say Gustave Doré, used to
draw; but that is the truth, and I felt as if we were walking through
any of the loneliest of his illustrations. He knew how to be true to
such mediaeval moods of the great mother, and we owe it to his fame to
bear what witness we can to the fact.

The yew-tree's shade in Gray's Elegy had not prepared me for a whole
forest of yews, and I had never imagined them of the vastness I beheld.
The place had its peculiar gloom through the church-yard associations of
the trees, but there was a rich, Thomas Hardyish flavor in the lawless
fact that in times when it was less protected than now, or when its wood
was more employed in furniture-making, predatory emissaries from London
used to come out to the forest by night and lop away great limbs of the
yews, to be sold to the shyer sort of timber-merchants. From time to
time my host put his hand on a broad sawn or chopped surface where a
tree had been so mutilated and had remained in a dry decay without that
endeavor some other trees make to cover the stump with a new growth. The
down, he told us, was a common, and any one might pasture his horse or
his cow or his goose on its grass, and I do not know whose forest
rights, if any one's, were especially violated in these cruel midnight
outrages on the yews; but some one must have had the interest to stop

I would not try to say how far the common extended, or how far its
privileges; but the land about is mostly held in great estates, like
most of the land in England, and no doubt there are signorial rights
which overlie the popular privileges. I fancied a symbol of these in the
game keeper--whom we met coming out of the wood, brown-clad, with a
scarcely touched hat, silently sweeping through the gorse, furtive as
one of the pheasants or hares to which he must have grown akin in his
custody of them. He was the first game-keeper I met in England, and, as
it happened, the last, but he now seems to me to have been so perfect in
his way that I would not for the sake of the books where I have known so
many of his sort, have him the least different from what he was.

The English sun, if you do not walk much in it, is usually cool and
pleasant, but you must not take liberties. By the time we got back to
lunch we could have believed, with no homesick yearning, that we had
been in an American heat. But after lunch, and after the talk filling
the afternoon till afternoon tea-time, which we were to take at a famous
house in the neighborhood, the temperature was all right again; it was
more than all right in the cold current of air which the motor created.
In the course of that post-luncheon talk our host brought out a small
porcelain bust of Washington, in very Continental blue, which he said
was one of great numbers made in that neighborhood at the time of our
Revolution to express the feeling of our English sympathizers in the
struggle which gave English liberty a new lease. One reads of this
sympathy, how wide and high it was, and one knows of it in a way, but
till then, with that witness, I had to own I had not realized it. The
miniature father-of-his-country smiled at our ignorance with his
accustomed blandness, and I hope he will never regret being given to one
of us as a testimony of the amity which had largely endured for our
nation from and through the most difficult times. The gift lent our day
a unique grace, and I could only hope that it might be without a
surprise too painful that our English Washington would look upon the
American Republic of his creation when we got home with him; I doubted
if he would find it altogether his ideal.

The motor-spin was over the high crest of the down to the house where we
were going, I do not know how many miles, for our afternoon tea. The
house was famous, for being the most perfect Tudor house in existence;
but I am not going to transfer the burden of my slight knowledge of its
past to the mind of the reader. I will only say that it came into the
hands of the jovial Henry VIII. through the loss of several of its
owners' heads, a means of acquisition not so distasteful to him as to
them, and after its restitution to the much decapitated family it
continued in their possession till a few years ago. It remains with me a
vision of turrets and gables, perfect in their Tudor kind, rising upon a
gentle level of fields and meadows, with nothing dramatically
picturesque in the view from its straight-browed windows. The present
owner, who showed me through its rooms and gardens hurriedly in
consideration of our early train, has the generous passion of leaving
the old place as nearly as he can in the keeping of its past; and I was
glad to have him to agree with me that the Tudor period was that in
which English domestic comfort had been most effectually studied. But my
satisfaction in this was much heightened by my approval of what he was
simultaneously saying about the prevalent newspaper unwisdom of not
publishing serial fiction: in his own newspaper, he said, he had a story
running all the time.

The old and the new kiss each other constantly in England, and I
perceived that this vividly modern possessor of the most perfect Tudor
house existing was, with the intense actuality of his interests and
ambitions, as English as the most feudal presence in the kingdom. When
we came out of the house and walked towards the group we had left under
a spreading oak (or it might have been an elm; the two are much of the
same habit in England) on the long, wide lawn, one might have fancied
one's self in any most picturesque period of the past, if it had not
been for the informality of the men's dress. Women are always of the
past in the beauty of their attire, and those whom the low sun, striking
across the velvet of the grass, now lighted up in their pretty gowns of
our day, could easily have stepped out of an old picture, or continued
in it as they sat in their wicker chairs around the afternoon tea-table.



An incident of the great midsummer heat, was an excursion down the
Thames which took us far from the society atmosphere so relaxing to the
moral fibre of the mere witness of the London season. The change was not
to the cooler air which had been imagined, but it immersed us for the
space of the boat's voyage to and from Greenwich among those social
inferiors who are probably the moral betters of their superiors, but
whose company does not always seem the spiritual baptism it doubtless
is. Our fellow-passengers were distinctly of the classes which are lower
as well as middle, and the sole worldly advantage they had of us was
that they were going where they wished, and we were going where we must.
We had started for Richmond, but as there proved to be no boat for
Richmond, we decided to take the boat which was for Greenwich, and
consoled ourselves with visions of whitebait, in memory and honor of
many parliamentary and literary feasts which that fish has furnished. A
whitebait dinner, what would not one suffer of human contiguity for it,
even though it could be only a whitebait lunch, owing to the early hour?

It was the flaming heart of the forenoon when the Greenwich boat puffed
up to her landing at Westminster Bridge, and the lower middle classes
streamed aboard.

She looked very lower middle class herself, poor boat, and she was of a
failing line which the London County Council is about to replace by a
line of municipal boats, without apparently alarming, in the English,
the sensibilities so apprehensive of anarchy with us when there is any
talk of government transportation. The official who sold me tickets
might have been training himself for a position on the municipal line,
he was so civilly explanatory as to my voyage; so far from treating my
inquiries with the sardonic irony which meets question in American
ticket-offices, he all but caressed me aboard. He had scarcely ceased
reassuring me when the boat struck out on the thin solution of dark mud
which passes for water in the Thames, and scuttled down the tide towards

Her course lay between the shabbiness of Southwark and the grandeur of
the Westminster shore, which is probably the noblest water-front in the
world. Near and far the great imperial and municipal and palatial masses
of architecture lifted themselves, and, as we passed, varied their
grouping with one another, and with the leafy domes and spires which
everywhere enrich and soften the London outlook. Their great succession
ought to culminate in the Tower, and so it does to the mind's eye, but
to the body's eye, the Tower is rather histrionic than historic. It is
like a scenic reproduction of itself, like a London Tower on the stage;
and if ever, in a moment of Anglo-Saxon expansion, the County Council
should think of selling it to Chicago, to be set up somewhere between
the Illinois Central and the Lake, New York need not hopelessly envy her
the purchase: New York could easily build a London Tower that would look
worthier of its memories than the real one, without even making it a


So it seems at the moment, but I am not sure that it is so true as it is
that after passing the Tower the one shore of the Thames begins to lose
its dignity and beauty, and to be of like effect with the other, which
is the Southwark side, and like all the American river-sides that I
remember. Grimy business piles, sagging sheds, and frowsy wharves and
docks grieve the eye, which the shipping in the stream does little to
console. That is mostly of dingy tramp-steamers, or inferior Dutch
liners, clumsy barges, and here and there a stately brig or shapely
schooner; but it gathers nowhere into the forest of masts and chimneys
that fringe the North River and East River. The foul tide rises and
falls between low shores where, when it ebbs, are seen oozy shoals of
slime, and every keel or paddle that stirs the surface of the river
brings up the loathsomeness of the bottom.

Coming back we saw a gang of half-grown boys bathing from the slimy
shoals, running down to the water on planks laid over them, and
splashing joyously into the filthy solution with the inextinguishable
gladness of their years. They looked like boys out of the purlieus of
Dickens's poverty-world, and all London waterside apparitions are more
or less from his pages. The elderly waiter of the forlorn out-dated
hotel to which we went for our whitebait lunch at Greenwich was as much
of his invention as if he had created him from the dust of the place,
and breathed his elderly-waiter-soul into him. He had a queer
pseudo-respectful shuffle and a sidelong approach, with a dawning
baldness at the back of his head, which seemed of one quality with these
characteristics: his dress-coat was lustrous with the greasiness of long
serving. Asked for whitebait, he destroyed the illusion in which we had
come at a blow. He said he could send out and get us some whitebait if
we could wait twenty minutes, but they never had any call for it now,
and they did not keep it. Then he smiled down upon us out of an
apparently humorous face in which there was no real fun, and added that
we could have salmon mayonnaise at once. Salmon mayonnaise was therefore
what we had, and except that it was not whitebait, it was not very
disappointing; we had not expected much of it. After we had eaten it, we
were put in relations with the landlord, regarding a fly which we wished
to take for a drive, in the absence of whitebait. But a fly required, in
Greenwich, an interview with a stableman and a negotiation which, though
we were assured it would be fairly conducted, we decided to forego, and
contented ourselves with exploring the old hostelry, close and faint of
atmosphere and of a smell at once mouldy and dusty. The room that was
called Nelson's, for no very definite reason, and the room in which the
ministry used to have their whitebait dinners in the halcyon days before
whitebait was extinct in Greenwich, pretended to some state but no
beauty, and some smaller dining-rooms that overhung the river had the
merit of commanding a full view of the Isle of Dogs, and in the
immediate foreground--it was as much earth as water that lapped the
shore--a small boy wading out to a small boat and providing himself a
sorrowful evening at home with his mother, by soaking his ragged sleeves
and trousers in the solution. Some young men in rowing costume were
vigorously pulling in a heavy row-boat by way of filling in their
outing; a Dutch steamer, whose acquaintance we had made in coming, was
hurrying to get out of the river into the freshness of the sea, and this
was all of Greenwich as a watering-place which we cared to see.

But that was a pleasant landlord, and he told us of balls and parties,
which, though not imaginably of the first social quality, must have
given his middle-aging hostelry a gayety in winter that it lacked in
summer. He applauded our resolution to see the pictures in the gallery
of the old naval college on the way back to our boat, and saw us to the
door, and fairly out into the blazing sun. It was truly a grilling heat,
and we utilized every scrap of shade as one does in Italy, running from
tree to tree and wall to wall, and escaping into every available portico
and colonnade. But once inside the great hall where England honors her
naval heroes and their battles, it was deliriously cool. It could not
have been that so many marine pieces tempered the torrid air, for they
all represented the heat of battle, with fire and smoke, and the work of
coming to close quarters, with

"hot gun-lip kissing gun."

The gallery was altogether better in the old admirals and other sea-dogs
of England whose portraits relieved the intolerable spread of the battle
scenes; and it was best of all in the many pictures and effigies and
relics of Nelson, who, next to Napoleon, was the wonder of his great
time. He looked the hero as little as Napoleon; everywhere his face
showed the impassioned dreamer, the poet; and once more gave the lie to
the silly notion that there is a type of this or that kind of great men.
When we had fairly settled the fact to our minds, we perceived that the
whole place we were in was a temple to Nelson, and that whatever minor
marine deities had their shrines there, it was in strict subordination
to him. England had done what she could for them, who had done so much
for her; but they seem consecrated in rather an out-of-the-way place,
now that there is no longer whitebait to allure the traveller to their
worship; and, upon the whole, one might well think twice before choosing
just their apotheosis.

By the time I reached this conclusion, or inconclusion, it was time to
grill forth to our boat, and we escaped from shade to shade, as before,
until we reached the first-class shelter of the awning at her stern.
Even there it was crowded in agonizing disproportion to the small breeze
that was crisping the surface of the solution; and fifteen or twenty
babies developed themselves to testify of the English abhorrence of
race-suicide among the lower middle classes. They were mostly good, poor
things, and evoked no sentiment harsher than pity even when they were
not good. Still it was not just the sort of day when one could have
wished them given the pleasure of an outing to Greenwich. Perhaps they
were only incidentally given it, but it must have been from a specific
generosity that several children in arms were fed by their indulgent
mothers with large slices of sausage. To be sure they had probably had
no whitebait.



Our invitation to the regatta at Henley, included luncheon in the tent
of an Oxford college, and a view of the races from the college barge,
which, with the barges of other Oxford colleges, had been towed down the
Thames to the scene of the annual rivalry between the crews of the two
great English universities. There may also have been Cambridge barges,
spirited through the air in default of water for towing them to Henley,
but I make sure only of a gay variety of houseboats stretching up and
down the grassy margin of the stream, along the course the rowers were
to take. As their contest was the least important fact of the occasion
for me, and as I had not then, and have not now, a clear notion which
came off winner in any of the events, I will try not to trouble the
reader with my impressions of them, except as they lent a vivid action
and formed a dramatic motive for one of the loveliest spectacles under
the sun. I have hitherto contended that class-day at Harvard was the
fairest flower of civilization, but, having seen the regatta at Henley,
I am no longer so sure of it.

Henley is no great way from London, and the quick pulse of its
excitement could be sensibly felt at the station, where we took train
for it. Our train was one of many special trains leaving at
quarter-hourly intervals, and there was already an anxious crowd
hurrying to it, with tickets entitling them to go by that train and no
other. It was by no means the youthful crowd it would have been at home,
and not even the overwhelmingly feminine crowd. The chaperon, who now
politely prevails with us in almost her European numbers, was here in no
greater evident force; but gray-haired fathers and uncles and elderly
friends much more abounded; and they looked as if they were not
altogether bent upon a vicarious day's pleasure. The male of the English
race is of much more striking presence than the American; he keeps more
of the native priority of his sex in his costume, so that in this crowd,
I should say, the outward shows were rather on his part than that of his
demurely cloaked females, though the hats into which these flowered at
top gave some hint of the summer loveliness of dress to be later
revealed. They were, much more largely than most railway-station crowds,
of the rank which goes first class, and in these special Henley trains
it was well to have booked so, if one wished to go in comfort, or arrive
uncrumpled, for the second-class and third-class carriages were packed
with people.

There seemed so many of our fellow-passengers, that reaching Henley in
the condition of greed and grudge of all travellers on errands of
pleasure, we made haste to anticipate any rush for the carriages outside
the station which were to take us to the scene of the races. Oddly
enough there was no great pressure for these vehicles, or for the more
public brakes and char-à-bancs and omnibuses plying to the same
destination; and so far from falling victims to covert extortion in the
matter of fares, we found the flys conscientiously placarded with the
price of the drive. This was about double the ordinary price, and so
soon does human nature adjust itself to conditions that I promptly
complained to an English friend for having had to pay four shillings for
a drive I should have had to pay four dollars for at home. In my
resentment I tried to part foes with my driver, who mildly urged that he
had but a few days in the year for doubling his fares, but I succeeded
so ill that when I found him waiting for me at the end of the day, I
amicably took him again for the return to the station.

Of the coming and going through the town of Henley I keep the sort of
impression which small English towns give the passing stranger, of a
sufficiently busy commercial life, doing business in excellent shops of
the modern pattern, but often housed in dwellings of such a familiar
picturesqueness that you wonder what old-fashioned annual or stage-
setting or illustrated Christmas-story they are out of. I never could
pass through such a town without longing to stop in it and know all
about it; and I wish I could believe that Henley reciprocated my
longing, on its bright holiday morning, that we could have had each
other to ourselves in the interest of an intimate acquaintance. It
looked most worthy to be known, and I have no doubt that it is full of
history and tradition of the sort which small towns have been growing
for centuries throughout England.

But we had only that one day there, and in our haste to give it to the
regatta we could only make sure of driving over a beautiful picture-
postal bridge on our way to the meadows by whose brink our college barge
was moored, and making believe to tug at its chain. It was really doing
nothing of the kind, for it was familiar with boat-racing in the Thames
where the Thames is still the Isis at Oxford, and was as wholly without
the motive as without the fact of impatience. Like many other barges and
house-boats set broadside to the shore for a mile up and down as closely
as they could be lined, it was of a comfortable cabin below and of a
pleasant gallery above, with an awning to keep off the sun or rain,
whichever it might be the whim of the weather to send. But that day the
weather had no whims; it was its pleasure to be neither wet nor hot, but
of a delicious average warmth, informed with a cool freshness which had
the days of the years of youth in it. In fact, youth came back in all
the holiday sights and scents to the elderly witness who ought to have
known better than to be glad of such things as the white tents in the
green meadows, the gypsy fires burning pale in the sunlight by the gypsy
camps, the traps and carriages thronging up and down the road, or
standing detached from the horses in the wayside shadow, where the
trodden grass, not less nor more than the wandering cigar-whiff, exhaled
the memories of far-off circus-days and Fourths of July. But such things
lift the heart in spite of philosophy and experience, and bid it rejoice
in the relish of novelty which a scene everywhere elementally the same
offers in slight idiosyncrasies of time and place. Certain of these
might well touch the American half-brother with a sense of difference,
but there was none that perhaps more suggested it than the frank English
proclamation by sign-board that these or those grounds in the meadows
were this or that lady's, who might be supposed waiting in proprietory
state for her guests within the pavilion of her roped-off enclosure.
Together with this assertion of private right, and the warning it
implied, was the expression of yet elder privilege in the presence of
the immemorial wanderers who had their shabby camps by the open wayside
and offered the passer fortune at so low a rate that the poorest
pleasurer could afford to buy a prophecy of prosperity from them; I do
not know why they proposed to sell with these favorable destinies small
brushes and brooms of their own make.


These swarthy aliens, whom no conditions can naturalize, are a fact of
every English holiday without which it would not be so native, as the
English themselves may hereafter be the more peculiarly and intensely
insular through the prevalence of more and more Americans among them.
Most of our fellow-guests on that Oxford barge were our fellow-
countrymen, and I think now that without their difference there would
have been wanting an ultimately penetrating sense of the entirely
English keeping of the affair. The ardor of our fresh interest lent, I
hope, a novel zest to our English hosts for the spectacle which began to
offer itself so gradually to our delight, and which seemed to grow and
open flower-like from the water, until it was a blossom which covered
the surface with its petals.

The course for the races was marked off midway from either shore by long
timbers fastened end to end and forming a complete barrier to the
intrusion of any of the mere pleasure-craft. Our own shore was sacred to
barges and house-boats; the thither margin, if I remember rightly, was
devoted to the noisy and muscular expansion of undergraduate emotion,
but, it seems to me, that farther up on the grounds which rose from it
were some such tents and pavilions as whitened our own side. Still the
impression of something rather more official in the arrangements of that
shore persists with me.

There was a long waiting, of course, before the rowing began, but as
this throughout was the least interest of the affair for any one but the
undergraduates, and the nearest or fairest friends of the crews, I will
keep my promise not to dwell on it. Each event was announced some
minutes beforehand by the ringing of a rather unimpressive hand-bell.
Then a pistol-shot was fired; and then, after the start far up the
course, the shells came sweeping swiftly down towards us. I noticed that
the men rowed in their undershirts, and not naked from their waists up
as our university crews do, or used to do, and I missed the Greek joy I
have experienced at New London, when the fine Yale and Harvard fellows
slipped their tunics over their heads, and sat sculpturesque in their
bronze nudity, motionlessly waiting for the signal to come to eager
life. I think that American moment was more thrilling than any given
moment at Henley; and though there is more comfort in a college barge,
and more gentle seclusion for the favored spectator, I am not going to
own that it equals as a view-point the observation-train, with its
successive banks of shouting and glowing girls, all a flutter of
handkerchiefs and parasols, which used to keep abreast of the racing
crews beside the stately course of the Connecticut Thames. Otherwise I
think it best to withhold comparisons, lest the impartial judge should
decide in favor of Henley.

There was already a multitude of small boats within the barriers keeping
the race-course open, and now and then one of these crossed from shore
to shore. They were of all types: skiffs and wherries and canoes and
snub-nosed punts, with a great number of short, sharply rounded craft,
new to my American observance, and called cockles, very precisely
adapted to contain one girl, who had to sit with her eyes firmly fixed
on the young man with the oars, lest a glance to this side or that
should oversee the ticklishly balanced shell. She might assist her eyes
in trimming the boat with a red or yellow parasol, or a large fan, but
it appeared that her gown, a long flow as she reclined on the low seat,
must be of one white or pale lavender or cowslip or soft pink, lest any
turmoil of colors in it should be too much for the balance she sought to
keep. The like precaution seemed to have been taken in the other boats,
so that while all the more delicate hues of the rainbow were afloat on
the stream, there was nothing of the kaleidoscope's vulgar variety in
the respective costumes. As the numbers of the boats momentarily
increased, it was more and more as if the church-parade of Hyde Park had
taken water, and though in such a scene as that which spread its soft
allure before us, it was not quite imaginable that all the loveliness
one saw was of the quality of that in the consecrated paddocks near
Stanhope Gate, neither was it imaginable that much of the beauty was not
as well-born as it was well-dressed. Those house-boats up and down the
shore must mainly have been peopled by persons of worldly worth, and of
those who had come from the four quarters to Henley for the day, not
every one could have been an actress with her friends, though each
contributed to the effect of a spectacle not yet approached in any
pantomime. There was a good deal of friendly visiting back and forth
among the house-boat people; and I was told that it was even more than
correct for a young man to ask a house-boat girl to go out with him in
one of the small boats on the water, but how much this contributed to
keep the scene elect I do not know.

If one looked steadily at the pretty sight, it lost reality as things do
when too closely scrutinized, and became a visionary confluence of lines
and colors, a soft stir of bloom like a flowery expanse moved by the
air. This ecstatic effect was not exclusive of facts which kept one's
feet well on the earth, or on the roof of one's college barge. Out of
that "giddy pleasure of the eyes" business lifted a practical front from
time to time, and extended a kind of butterfly net at the end of a pole
so long that it would reach anywhere, and collected pennies for the
people in boats who had been singing or playing banjos or guitars or
even upright pianos. For, it must be explained, there were many in that
aquatic crowd who were there to be heard as well as seen, and this gave
the affair its pathos. Not that negro minstrelsy as the English have
interpreted the sole American contribution to histrionic art, is in
itself pathetic, except as it is so lamentably far from the original;
but that any obvious labor which adds to our gayety is sorrowful; and
there were many different artists there who were working hard. Sometimes
it was the man who sang and the woman who played; but it was always the
woman who took up the collection: she seemed to have the greater
enterprise and perseverance. Of course in the case of the blackened
minstrels, some man appealed to the love of humor rather than the love
of beauty for the bounty of the spectators. In the case of an old-time
plantation darkey who sang the familiar melodies with the slurring
vowels and wandering aspirates of East London, and then lifted a face
one-half blackened, the appeal to the love of humor was more effective
than the other could have been. A company of young men in masks with a
piano in their boat, which one played while another led the singing in
an amazing falsetto, were peculiarly successful in collecting their
reward, and were all the more amusingly eager because they were, as our
English friends believed, undergraduates on a lark.

They were no better-natured than the rest of the constantly increasing
multitude. The boats thickened upon the water as if they had risen
softly from the bottom to which any panic might have sent them; but the
people in them took every chance with the amiability which seems to be
finally the thing that holds England together. The English have got a
bad name abroad which certainly they do not deserve at home; but perhaps
they do not think foreigners worthy the consideration they show one
another on any occasion that masses them. One lady, from her vantage in
the stern of her boat, was seen to hit the gentleman in the bow a
tremendous whack with her paddle; but he merely looked round and smiled,
as if it had been a caress, which it probably was, in disguise. But they
were all kind and patient with one another whether in the same boat or
not. Some had clearly not the faintest notion how a boat should be
managed; they bumped and punched one another wildly; but the occupants
of the boat assailed simply pushed off the attacking party with a
smiling acceptance of its apology, and passed on the incident to another
boat before or beside them. From the whole multitude there came not one
loud or angry note, and, for any appearance of authority on the scene it
was altogether unpoliced, and kept safe solely by the universal
good-humor. The women were there to show themselves in and at their
prettiest, and to see one another as they lounged on the cushions or lay
in the bottoms of the boats, or sat up and displayed their hats and
parasols; the men were there to make the women have a good time. Neither
the one nor the other seemed in the least concerned in the races, which
duly followed one another with the ringing of bells and firing of
pistols, unheeded. By the time the signal came to clear the course for
the crews, the pleasure-craft pushed within the barriers formed a vast,
softly undulating raft covering the whole surface of the water, so that
you could have walked from the barrier to the shore without dipping foot
in the flood. I have suggested that the situation might have had its
perils. Any panic must have caused a commotion that would have
overturned hundreds of the crazy craft, and plunged their freight to
helpless death. But the spectacle smiled securely to the sun, which
smiled back upon it from a cloud-islanded blue with a rather more than
English ardor; and we left it without anxiety, to take our luncheon in
the pavilion pitched beside our barge on the grassy shore.

To this honest meal we sat comfortably down at long tables, and served
one another from the dishes put before us. There was not the ambitious
variety of salads and sweets and fruits and ices, which I have seen at
Harvard Class-Day spreads, but there were the things that stay one more
wholesomely and substantially, and one was not obliged to eat standing
and hold one's plate. Everything in England that can be is adjusted to
the private and personal scale; everything with us is generalized and
fitted to the convenience of the greatest number. Later, we all sat down
together at afternoon tea, a rite of as inviolable observance as
breakfast itself in that island of fixed habits.

I believe some races were rowed while we were eating and drinking, but
we did not mind. We were not there for the races, but for the people who
were there for the races; or who were apparently so. In the mean time,
the multitude of them seemed to have increased, and where I had fancied
that not one boat more could have been pressed in, half a dozen had
found room. The feat must have been accomplished by main strength and
awkwardness, as the old phrase is. It was no place indeed for skill to
evince itself; but people pushed about in the most incredible way when
they tried to move, though mostly they did not try; they let their boats
lie still, and sway with the common movement when the water rose and
sank, or fluctuated unseen beneath them. There were more and more people
of the sort that there can never be enough of, such as young girls
beautifully dressed in airy muslins and light silks, sheltered but not
hidden by gay parasols floating above their summer hats. It was the
fairy multitude of Harvard Class-Day in English terms, and though Henley
never came at any moment to that prodigiously picturesque expression
which Class-Day used to reach when all its youthful loveliness banked
itself on the pine-plank gradines enclosing the Class-Day elm, and
waited the struggle for its garlands, yet you felt at Henley somehow in
the presence of inexhaustible numbers, drawing themselves from a society
ultimately, if not immediately, vaster. It was rather dreadful perhaps
to reflect that if all that brilliant expanse of fashion and beauty had
been engulfed in the hidden Thames it could have been instantly replaced
by as much more, not once but a score of times.


I will not pretend that this thought finally drove me from the scene,
for I am of a very hardy make when it comes to the most frightful sort
of suppositions. But the afternoon was wearing away, and we must go
sometime. It seemed better also to leave the gayety at its height: the
river covered with soft colors, and the barges and house-boats by the
brink, with their companies responsive in harmonies of muslin and gauze
and lace to those afloat; the crowds on the opposite shore in constant
movement, and in vivid agitation when the bell and the pistol announced
a racing event. We parted with our friends on the barge, and found our
way through the gypsy crones squatted on the grass, weaving the web of
fate and selling brooms and brushes in the intervals of their mystical
employ, or cosily gossiping together; and then we took for the station
the harmless fly which we had forever renounced as predatory in the

It was not yet the rush-hour for the run back to London, and we easily
got an empty compartment, in which we were presently joined by a group
of extremely handsome people, all of a southern type, but differing in
age and sex. There were a mother and a daughter, and a father evidently
soon to become a father-in-law, and the young man who was to make him
so. The women were alike in their white gowns, and alike in their dark
beauty, but the charms of the mother had expanded in a bulk incredible
of the slender daughter. She and her father were rather silent, and the
talk was mainly between the mother and the future of the girl. They
first counted up the day's expenses, and the cost of each dish they had
had at luncheon. "Then there was the champagne," the lady insisted. "It
isn't so much when you count that out; and you know we chose to have
it." They all discussed the sum, and agreed that if they had not wanted
the champagne their holiday would not have cost inordinately. "And now,"
the mother continued to the young man, "you must order that box for the
opera as soon as ever you reach the hotel. Order it by telephone. Give
the girl your boutonnière; that will jolly her. Get a four-guinea box
opposite the royal box."

As she sat deeply sunk in the luxurious first-class seat, her little
feet could not reach the floor, and the effort with which she bent
forward was heroic. The very pretty girl in the corner at her elbow was
almost eclipsed by her breadth and thickness; and the old gentleman in
the opposite corner spoke a word now and then, but for the most part
silently smelled of tobacco. The talk which the mother and future
son-in-law had to themselves, though it was so intimately of their own
affairs, we fancied more or less carried on at us. I do not know why
they should have wished to crush us with their opulence since they would
not have chosen to enrich us; but I have never had so great a sense of
opulence. They were all, as I said, singularly handsome people, in the
dark, liquid, lustrous fashion which I am afraid our own race can never
achieve. Yet with all this evident opulence, with their resolute
spirits, with their satisfaction in having spent so much on a luncheon
which they could have made less expensive if they had not chosen to
gratify themselves in it, with their prospect of a four-guinea box,
opposite the box of royalty, at the opera, it seemed to me they were
rather pathetic than otherwise. But I am sure they would have never
imagined themselves so, and that in their own eyes they were a radiantly
enviable party returning from a brilliant day at Henley.



The return in mid-September to the London which we left at the end of
July, implicates a dramatic effect more striking than any possible in
the mere tourist's experience. In the difference between this London and
that you fully realize the moral and physical magnitude of the season.
The earlier London throbbed to bursting with the tide of manifold life,
the later London lies gaunt, hollow, flaccid, and as if spent by the
mere sense of what it has been through. The change is almost incredible,
and the like of it is nowhere to be witnessed with us. It seems a sort
of bluff to say that a city which still holds all its six millions
except a few hundred thousands, is empty, but that is the look a certain
part of London has in September, for the brilliant and perpetual
movement of those hundred thousands was what gave it repletion.

The fashion that fluttered and glittered along Piccadilly and the
streets of shops is all away at country-houses or at the sea-side or in
the mountains of the island or the continent. The comely young giants
who stalked along the pavement of Pall Mall or in the paths of the Park
are off killing grouse; scarcely a livery shows itself; even the
omnibus-tops are depopulated; long rows of idle cabs are on the ranks;
the stately procession of diners-out flashing their white shirt-fronts
at nightfall in interminable hansoms has vanished; the tormented
regiments of soldiers are at peace in their barracks; a strange quiet
has fallen on that better quarter of the town which is really, or
unreally, the town. With this there is an increase of the homelike
feeling which is always present, with at least the happy alien, in
London; and what gayety is left is cumulative at night and centralized
in the electric-blazing neighborhoods of the theatres. There, indeed,
the season seems to have returned, and in the boxes of the playhouses
and the stalls fashion phantasmally revisits one of the scenes of its
summer joy.

One day in Piccadilly, in a pause of the thin rain, I met a solitary
apparition in the diaphanous silks and the snowy plumes of hat and boa
which the sylphs of the church parade wore in life through those halcyon
days when the tide of fashion was highest. The apparition put on a bold
front of not being strange and sad, but upon the whole it failed. It may
have been an impulse from this vision that carried me as far as Hyde
Park, where I saw not a soul, either of the quick or the dead, in the
chilly drizzle, save a keeper cleaning up the edges of the road. In the
consecrated closes, where the vanished children of smartness used to
stand or sit, to go and come like bright birds, or flowers walking, the
inverted chairs lay massed together or scattered, with their legs in the
air, on the wet grass, and the dripping leaves smote damply together
overhead. Another close, in Green Park the afternoon before, however, I
saw devoted to frequenters of another sort. It had showered over-night,
and the ground must still have been wet where a score of the bodies of
the unemployed, or at least the unoccupied, lay as if dead in the sun.
They were having their holiday, but they did not make me feel as if I
were still enjoying my outing so much as some other things: for
instance, the colored minstrelsy, which I had heard so often at the
sea-side in August, and which reported itself one night in the Mayfair
street which we seemed to have wholly to ourselves, and touched our
hearts with the concord of our native airs and banjos. We were sure they
were American darkies, from their voices and accents, but perhaps they
were not as certainly so as the poor little mother was English who came
down the place at high noon with her large baby in her arms, swaying it
from side to side as she sang a plaintive ballad to the skies, and
scanned the windows for some relenting to her want.

The clubs and the great houses of Mayfair, which the season had used so
hard, were many of them putting themselves in repair against the next
time of festivity, and testifying to the absence of their world. One day
I found the solitude rather more than I could bear without appeal to
that vastly more multitudinous world of the six millions who never leave
London except on business. I said in my heart that this was the hour to
go and look up that emotion which I had suspected of lying in wait for
me in St. Paul's, and I had no sooner mounted an omnibus-top for the
journey through Piccadilly, the Strand, and Fleet Street, than I found
the other omnibus-tops by no means so depopulated as I had fancied. To
be sure, the straw hats which six weeks before had formed the almost
universal head-covering of the 'bus-top throngs were now in a
melancholy minority, but they had not so wholly vanished as they vanish
with us when September begins. They had never so much reason to be here
as with us, and they might have had almost as much reason for lingering
as they had for coming. I still saw some of them among the pedestrians
as well as among the omnibus-toppers, and the pedestrians abashed me by
their undiminished myriads. As they streamed along the sidewalks, in a
torrent of eager life, and crossed and recrossed among the hoofs and
wheels as thickly as in mid-July, they put me to shame for my theory of
a decimated London. It was not the tenth man who was gone, nor the
hundredth, if even it was the thousandth. The tremendous metropolis
mocked with its millions the notion of nobody left in town because a few
pleasurers had gone to the moors or the mountains or the shores.

Yet the season being so dead as it was in the middle of September, the
trivial kodak could not bear to dwell on the mortuary aspects which the
fashionable quarters of London presented. It turned itself in pursuance
of a plan much cherished and often renounced, to seek those springs or
sources of the American nation which may be traced all over England, and
which rather abound in London, trusting chances for the involuntary
glimpses which are so much better than any others, when you can get
them. In different terms, and leaving apart the strained figure which I
cannot ask the reader to help me carry farther, I went one breezy, cool,
sunny, and rainy morning to meet the friend who was to guide my steps,
and philosophize my reflections in the researches before us. Our
rendezvous was at the church of All Hallows Barking, conveniently
founded just opposite the Mark Lane District Railway Station, some seven
or eight hundred years before I arrived there, and successively
destroyed and rebuilt, but left finally in such good repair that I could
safely lean against it while waiting for my friend, and taking note of
its very sordid neighborhood. The street before it might have been a
second-rate New York, or, preferably, Boston, business street, except
for a peculiarly London commonness in the smutted yellow brick and harsh
red brick shops and public-houses. There was a continual coming and
going of trucks, wagons, and cabs, and a periodical appearing of hurried
passengers from the depths of the station, all heedless, if not
unconscious, of the Tower of London close at hand, whose dead were so
often brought from the scaffold to be buried in that church.

Our own mission was to revere its interior because William Penn was
baptized in it, but when we had got inside we found it so full of
scaffolding and the litter of masonry, and the cool fresh smell of
mortar from the restorations going on that we had no room for the
emotions we had come prepared with. With the compassion of a kindly man
in a plasterer's spattered suit of white, we did what we could, but it
was very little. I at least was not yet armed with the facts that, among
others, the headless form of Archbishop Laud had been carried from the
block on Tower Hill and laid in All Hallows; and if I had known it, I
must have felt that though Laud could be related to our beginnings
through his persecution of the Puritans, whom he harried into exile, his
interment in All Hallows was only of remote American interest. Besides,
we had set out with the intention of keeping to the origins of colonies
which had not been so much studied as those of New England, and we had
first chosen Penn as sufficiently removed from the forbidden ground. But
we had no sooner left the church where he was baptized, to follow him in
the much later interest of his imprisonment in the Tower, than we found
ourselves in New England territory again. For there, round the first
corner, under the foliage of the trees and shrubs that I had been
ignorantly watching from the church, as they stiffly stirred in the
September wind, was that Calvary of so many martyr-souls, Tower Hill.

It is no longer, if it ever was, a hill, or even a perceptible rise of
ground, but a pleasant gardened and planted space, not distinguishable
from a hundred others in London, with public offices related to the navy
closing it mostly in, but not without unofficial public and private
houses on some sides. It was perhaps because of its convenience for his
professional affairs that Admiral Penn had fixed such land-going
residence as an admiral may have, in All Hallows Barking parish, where
his great son was born. "Your late honored father," his friend Gibson
wrote the founder of Pennsylvania, "dwelt upon Great Tower Hill, on the
east side, within a court adjoining to London Wall." But the memories of
honored father and more honored son must yield in that air to such
tragic fames as those of Sir Thomas More, of Strafford, and above these
and the many others in immediate interest for us, of Sir Harry Vane,
once governor of Massachusetts, who died here among those whom the
perjured second Charles played false when he came back to the throne of
the perjured first Charles. In fact you can get away from New England no
more in London than in America; and if in the Tower itself the long
captivity of Sir Walter Raleigh somewhat dressed the balance, we were
close upon other associations which outweighed the discovery of the
middle south and of tobacco, a thousandfold.

Perhaps Tower Hill has been cut down nearer the common level than it
once was, as often happens with rises of ground in cities, or perhaps it
owed its distinction of being called a hill to a slight elevation from
the general London flatness. Standing upon it you do not now seem lifted
from that grade, but if you come away, Tower Hill looms lofty and large,
as before you approached, with its head hid in the cloud of sombre
memories which always hangs upon it. The look of the Tower towards it is
much more dignified than the theatrical river-front, but worse than this
even is the histrionic modern bridge which spans the Thames there as at
the bottom of a stage. We took an omnibus to cross it, and yet before we
were half-way over the bridge, we had reason to forget the turrets and
arches which look as if designed and built of pasteboard. There, in the
stretch of the good, dirty, humble Thames, between Tower Bridge and
London Bridge, was the scene of the fatally mistaken arrest of Cromwell,
Hampden, and their friends, by Charles I., when they were embarking for
New England, if indeed the thing really happened. Everybody used to
think so, and the historians even said so, but now they begin to doubt:
it is an age of doubt. This questionably memorable expanse of muddy
water was crowded, the morning I saw it, with barges resting in the
iridescent slime of the Southwark shoals, and with various craft of
steam and sail in the tide which danced in the sun and wind along the
shore we were leaving. It is tradition, if not history, that just in
front of the present custom-house those mighty heirs of destiny were
forced to leave their ship and abide in the land they were to ennoble
with the first great republican experiment of our race, after the
commonwealth failed to perpetuate itself in England, perhaps, because of
a want of imagination in both people and protector, who could not
conceive of a state without an hereditary ruler. The son of Cromwell
must follow his father, till another son of another father came back to
urge his prior claim to a primacy that no one has ever a right to except
the direct and still renewed choice of the citizens. It is all very
droll at this distance of time and place; but we ourselves who grew up
where there had never been kings to craze the popular fancy, could not
conceive of a state without one for yet a hundred years and more, and
even then some of us thought of having one. The lesson which the English
Commonwealth now had set itself, though lost upon England, was at last
read in its full meaning elsewhere, and the greatest of American
beginnings was made when Cromwell was forced ashore from his ship in
front of the Custom-house, if he was. There is a very personable edifice
now on the site of whatever building then stood there, and it marks the
spot with sufficiently classical grace, whether you look down at it from
the Tower Bridge, as I did, first, or up at it from London Bridge, as I
did, last.

[Illustration: THE TOWER OF LONDON.]

We were crossing into Southwark at the end of Tower Bridge that we might
walk through Tooley Street, once a hot-bed of sedition and dissent,
which many of its inhabitants made too hot to hold them, and so fled
away to cool themselves in different parts of the American wilderness.
It was much later that the place became famous for the declaration of
the three tailors of Tooley Street who began, or were fabled to have
begun, a public appeal with the words: "We, the people of England," and
perhaps the actuality of Tooley Street is more suggestive of them than
of those who went into exile for their religious and political faith. In
the former time the region was, no doubt, picturesque and poetic, like
all of that old London which is so nearly gone, but now it is almost the
most prosaic and commonplace thoroughfare of the newer London. It is
wholly mean as to the ordinary structures which line its course, and
which are mainly the dwellings of the simple sort of plebeian folks who
have always dwelt in Tooley Street, and who so largely form the ancestry
of the American people. No grace of antiquity remains to it, but there
is the beauty of that good-will to men which I should be glad to think
characteristic of our nation in one of the Peabody tenements that the
large-hearted American bequeathed to the city of his adoption for better
homes than the London poor could otherwise have known.

Possibly Baptists and Independents like those whom Tooley Street sent
out to enlarge the area of freedom beyond seas still people it; but I
cannot say, and for the rest it is much crossed and recrossed by the
viaducts of the London and South Eastern Railway, under which we walked
the length of the long, dull, noisy thoroughfare. We were going to the
church of St. Olave, or Olaus, a hallowed Danish king from whose name
that of Tooley was most ingeniously corrupted, for the sake of knowing
that we were in the parish that sweet Priscilla Mullins, and others of
the Plymouth colony came from. The church is an uninteresting structure
of Wrennish renaissance; but it was better with us when, for the sake of
the Puritan ministers who failed to repent in the Clink prison, after
their silencing by Laud, came out to air their opinions in the
boundlessness of our continent. My friend strongly believed that some
part of the Clink was still to be detected in the walls of certain
water-side warehouses, and we plunged into their labyrinth after leaving
St. Olave's or St. Tooley's, and wandered on through their shades, among
trucks and carts in alleys that were dirty and damp, but somehow
whitened with flour as if all those dull and sullen piles were
grist-mills. I do not know whether we found traces of the Clink or not,
but the place had a not ungrateful human interest in certain floury
laborers who had cleared a space among the wheels and hoofs, and in the
hour of their nooning were pitching pennies, and mildly squabbling over
the events of their game. We somehow came out at Bankside, of infamous
memory, and yet of glorious memory, for if it was once the home of all
the vices, it was also the home of one of the greatest arts. The present
filthy quay figuratively remembers the moral squalor of its past in the
material dirt that litters it; but you have to help it recall the fact
that here stood such theatres as the Paris Garden, the Rose, the Hope,
the Swan, and, above all, the Globe.

[Illustration: ST. OLAVE'S, TOOLEY STREET.]

Here, Shakespeare rose up and stood massively blocking the perspective
of our patriotic researches, and blotting out all minor memories. But if
this was a hardship it was one which constantly waits upon the
sympathetic American in England. It is really easier to stay at home,
and make your inquiries in that large air where the objects of your
interest are placed at ample intervals, than to visit the actual scene
where you will find them crowding and elbowing one another, and perhaps
treading down and pushing back others of equal import which you had not
in mind. England has so long been breeding greatness of all kinds, and
her visionary children press so thick about her knees, that you cannot
well single one specially out when you come close; it is only at a
distance that you can train your equatorial upon any certain star, and
study it at your ease. This tremendous old woman who lives in a shoe so
many sizes too small more than halves with her guests her despair in the
multitude of her offspring, and it is best to visit her in fancy if you
wish their several acquaintance. There at Bankside was not only
Shakespeare suddenly filling that place and extending his vast shadow
over the region we had so troublesomely passed through, but now another
embarrassment of riches attended us. We were going to visit St.
Saviour's Church, because John Harvard, the son of a butcher in that
parish was baptized in it, long before he could have dreamed of Emanuel
College at Cambridge, or its outwandering scholars could have dreamed of
naming after him another college in another Cambridge in another world.
Our way lay through the Borough Market, which is for Southwark in fruits
and vegetables, and much more in refuse and offal, what Covent Garden
Market is for the London beyond Thames; and then through a wide troubled
street, loud with coming and going at some railway station. Here we
suddenly dropped into a silent and secluded place, and found ourselves
at the door of St. Saviour's. Outside it has been pitilessly restored in
a later English version of the Early English in which it was built, and
it has that peculiarly offensive hardness which such feats of masonry
seem to put on defiantly; but within much of the original architectural
beauty lingers, especially in the choir and Lady Chapel. We were not
there for that beauty, however, but for John Harvard's sake; yet no
sooner were we fairly inside the church than our thoughts were rapt from
him to such clearer fames as those of Philip Massinger, the dramatist;
Edmund Shakespeare, the great Shakespeare's younger brother; John
Fletcher, of the poetic firm of Beaumont and Fletcher; the poet Edward
Dyer; and yet again the poet John Gower, the "moral Gower" who so
insufficiently filled the long gap between Chaucer and Spencer, and who
rests here with a monument and a painted effigy over him. Besides these
there are so many actors buried in it that the church is full of the
theatre, and it might well dispute with our own Little Church Round the
Corner, the honor of mothering the outcast of other sanctuaries; though
it rather more welcomes them in their funeral than their nuptial rites.
Among the tablets and effigies there was none of John Harvard in St.
Saviour's, and we were almost a year too early for the painted window
which now commemorates him.

[Illustration: LONDON BRIDGE.]

One might leave Southwark rather glad to be out of it, for in spite of
its patriotic and poetic associations it is a quarter where the
scrupulous house-keeping of London seems for once to fail. In such
streets as we passed through, and I dare say they were not the best, the
broom and the brush and the dust-pan strive in vain against the dirt
that seems to rise out of the ground and fall from the clouds. But many
people live there, and London Bridge, by which we crossed, was full of
clerks and shop-girls going home to Southwark; for it was one o'clock on
a Saturday, and they were profiting by the early closing which shuts the
stores of London so inexorably at that hour on that day. We made our way
through them to the parapet for a final look at that stretch of the
Thames where Cromwell as unwillingly as unwittingly perhaps stepped
ashore to come into a kingdom.

[Footnote: While the reader is sharing our emotion in the scene of the
problematical event, I think it a good time to tell him that the
knowledge of which I have been and expect to be so profuse in these
researches, is none of mine, except as I have cheaply possessed myself
of it from the wonderful hand-book of Peter Cunningham, which Murray
used to publish as his guide to London, and which unhappily no one
publishes now. It is a bulky volume of near six hundred pages, crammed
with facts more delightful than any fancies, and its riches were
supplemented for me by the specific erudition of my friend, the
genealogist, Mr. Lothrop Withington, who accompanied my wanderings, and
who endorses all my statements. The reader who doubts them (as I
sometimes do) may recur to him at the British Museum with the proper
reproaches if they prove mistaken.]

We were going from St. Saviour's in Southwark where Harvard was baptized
to St. Catherine Cree in the city where Sir Nicholas Throgmorton's
effigy lies in the chancel, and somewhat distantly relates itself to our
history through his daughter's elopement with Sir Walter Raleigh. But
now for a mere pleasure, whose wantonness I shall not know how to excuse
to the duteous reader, we turned aside to the church of St. Magnus at
the end of the bridge, and I shall always rejoice that we did so, for
there I made the acquaintance of three of the most admirable cats in
London. One curled herself round the base of a pillar of the portico,
which was formerly the public thoroughfare to London Bridge; another
basked in the pretty garden which now encloses the portico, and let the
shifting shadows of the young sycamores flicker over her velvet flank;
the third arched a majestic back and rubbed against our legs in
accompanying us into the church. There was not much for us to see there,
and perhaps the cat was tired of knowing that the church was built by
Wren, after the great fire, and has a cupola and lantern thought to be
uncommonly fine. Certainly it did not seem to share my interest in the
tablet to Miles Coverdale, once rector of St. Magnus and bishop of
Exeter, at which I started, not so much because he had directed the
publication of the first complete version of the English Bible, as
because he had borne the name of a chief character in _The Blithedale
Romance_. I am afraid that if the cat could have supposed me to be
occupied with such a trivial matter it would not have purred so civilly
at parting, and I should not have known how to justify myself by
explaining that the church of St. Magnus was more illustriously
connected with America through that coincidence than many more
historical scenes.


The early closing had already prevailed so largely in the city, that
most of the churches were shut, and we were not aware of having got into
St. Catherine Cree's at the time we actually did so. We were grateful
for getting into any church, but we looked about us too carelessly to
identify the effigy of Sir Nicholas, who was, after all, only a sort of
involuntary father-in-law of Virginia. That was what we said to console
ourselves afterwards; but now, since we were, however unwittingly,
there, I feel that I have some right to remind the reader that our enemy
(so far as we are of Puritan descent) Archbishop Laud consecrated the
church with ceremonies of such high ecclesiastical character that his
part in them was alleged against him, and did something to bring him to
the block. That Inigo Jones is said to have helped in designing the
church, and that the great Holbein is believed to be buried in it, and
would have had a monument there if the Earl of Arundel could have found
his bones to put it over, are sufficiently irrelevant details.

The reader sees how honest I am trying to be with him, and I will not
conceal from him that Duke Street, down a stretch of which I looked,
because the wife of Elder Brewster of Plymouth Colony was born and bred
there, was as dull a perspective of mean modern houses as any in London.
It was distinctly a relief, after paying this duty, to pass, in
Leadenhall Street, the stately bulk of India House, and think of the
former occupying the site, from which Charles Lamb used to go early in
compensation for coming so late to his work there. It was still better
when, by an accident happier than that which befell us at St. Catherine
Cree's, we unexpectedly entered by a quaint nook from Bishopsgate Street
to the church of St. Ethelburga, which has a claim to the New-Yorker's
interest from the picturesque fact that Henry Hudson and his ship's
company made their communion in it the night before he sailed away to
give his name to the lordliest, if not the longest of our rivers, and to
help the Dutch found the Tammany régime, which still flourishes at the
Hudson's mouth. The comprehensive Cunningham makes no mention of the
fact, but I do not know why my genealogist should have had the misgiving
which he expressed within the overhearing of the eager pew-opener
attending us. She promptly set him right. "Oh, 'e did _mike_ it
'ere, sir. They've been and searched the records," she said, so that the
reader now has it on the best authority.

I wish I could share with him, as easily as this assurance, the
sentiment of the quaint place, with its traces of Early English
architecture, and its look of being chopped in two; its intense quiet
and remoteness in the heart of the city, with the slop-pail of its
pew-opener mingling a cleansing odor with the ancient smells which
pervade all old churches. But these things are of the nerves and may not
be imparted, though they may be intimated. As rich in its way as the
sentiment of St. Ethelburga was that of the quiescing streets of the
city, that pleasant afternoon, with their shops closed or closing, and
the crowds thinned or thinning in their footways and wheelways, so that
we got from point to point in our desultory progress, incommoded only by
other associations that rivalled those we had more specifically in mind.
History, of people and of princes, finance, literature, the arts of
every kind, were the phantoms that started up from the stones and the
blocks of the wood-pavement and followed or fled before us at every
step. As I have already tried to express, it is always the same story.
London is too full of interest, and when I thought how I could have gone
over as much ground in New York without anything to distract me from
what I had in view, I felt the pressure of those thick London facts
almost to suffocation. Nothing but my denser ignorance saved me from
their density, as I hurried with my friend through air that any
ignorance less dense would have found impassable with memories.


As it was I could draw a full breath unmolested only when we dropped
down a narrow way from Bishopsgate Street to the sequestered place
before the church of the Dutch refugees from papal persecutions in
France and the Netherlands. Here was formerly the church of the
Augustine Friars, whose community Henry VIII. dissolved, and whose
church his son Edward VI. gave to the "Germans" as he calls the
Hollanders in his boyish diary. It was to our purpose as one of the
beginnings of New York, for it is said that New Amsterdam was first
imagined by the exiles who worshipped in it, and who planned the
expedition of Henry Hudson from it. Besides this historic or mythic
claim, it had for me the more strictly human interest of the sign-board
in Dutch, renewed from the earliest time, at both its doorways,
notifying its expatriated congregation that all letters and parcels
would be received there for them; this somehow intimated that the
refugees could not have found it spiritually much farther to extend
their exile half round the world. Cunningham says that "the church
contains some very good decorated windows, and will repay examination,"
but, like the early-closing shops all round it, the Dutch church was
shut that Saturday afternoon, and we had to come away contenting
ourselves as we could with the Gothic, fair if rather too freshly
restored, of the outside. I can therefore impartially commend the
exterior to our Knickerbocker travellers, but they will readily find the
church in the rear of the Bank of England, after cashing their drafts
there, and judge for themselves.

Philadelphians of Quaker descent will like better to follow my friend
with me up Cheapside, past the Bowbells which ring so sweet and clear in
literature, and through Holborn to Newgate which was one of the several
prisons of William Penn. He did not go to it without making it so hard
for the magistrates trying him and his fellow-Quakers for street-
preaching that they were forced to over-ride his law and logic, and send
him to jail in spite of the jury's verdict of acquittal; such things
could then be easily done. In self-justification they committed the jury
along with the prisoners; that made a very perfect case for their
worships, as the reader can find edifyingly and a little amusingly set
forth in Maria Webb's story of _The Penns and the Penningtons_. As
is known, the persecution of Penn wellnigh converted his father, the
stiff old admiral, who now wrote to him in Newgate: "Son William, if you
and your friends keep to your plain way of preaching, and your plain way
of living, you will make an end of the priests to the end of the world
... Live in love. Shun all manner of evil, and I pray God to bless you
all; and He will bless you."

Little of the old Newgate where Penn lay imprisoned is left; a spic-and-
span new Newgate, still in process of building, replaces it, but there
is enough left for a monument to him who was brave in such a different
way from his brave father, and was great far beyond the worldly
greatness which the admiral hoped his comely, courtly son would achieve.
It was in Newgate, when he was cast there the second time in three
months, that he wrote _The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience_,
and three minor treatises. He addressed from the same prison a letter to
Parliament explaining the principles of Quakerism, and he protested to
the sheriff of London against the cruelties practised by the jailors of
Newgate on prisoners too poor to buy their favor. He who was rich and
well-born preferred to suffer with these humble victims; and probably
his oppressors were as glad to be rid of him in the end as he of them.


One may follow Penn (though we did not always follow him to all, that
Saturday afternoon), to many other places in London: to the Tower, where
he was imprisoned on the droll charge of "blasphemy," within stone's
throw of All Hallow's Barking, where he was christened; to Grace Church
Street, where he was arrested for preaching; to Lincoln's Inn, where he
had chambers in his worldlier days; to Tower Street, where he went to
school; to the Fleet, where he once lived within the "rules" of the
prison; to Norfolk Street, where he dwelt awhile almost in hiding from
the creditors who were pressing him, probably for the public debt of

We followed him only to Newgate, whence we visited the church of St.
Sepulchre hard by, and vainly attempted to enter, because Roger Williams
was christened there, and so connected it with the coming of toleration
into the world, as well as with the history of the minute province of
Rhode Island, which his spirit so boundlessly enlarged. We failed
equally of any satisfactory effect from Little St. Helen's, Bishopsgate,
possibly because the Place was demolished a hundred and five years
before, and because my friend could not quite make out which neighboring
street it was where the mother of the Wesleys was born. But we did what
we could with the shield of the United States Consulate-General in the
Place, and in an adjoining court we had occasion for seriousness in the
capers of a tipsy Frenchman, who had found some boys playing at
soldiers, and was teaching them in his own tongue from apparently vague
recollections of the manual of arms. I do not insist that we profited by
the occasion; I only say that life likes a motley wear, and that he who
rejects the antic aspects it so often inappropriately puts on is no true

After all, we did not find just the street, much less the house, in
which Susannah Annesley had lived before she was Mrs. Wesley, and long
before her sons had imagined Methodism, and the greater of them had
borne its message to General Oglethorpe's new colony of Georgia. She
lies in Bunhill Fields near Finsbury Square, that place sacred to so
many varying memories, but chiefly those of the Dissenters who leased
it, because they would not have the service from the book of Common
Prayer read over them. There her dust mingles with that of John Bunyan,
of Daniel de Foe, of Isaac Watts, of William Blake, of Thomas Stothard,
and a multitude of nameless or of most namable others. The English crowd
one another no less under than above the ground, and their island is as
historically as actually over-populated. As I have expressed before, you
can scarcely venture into the past anywhere for a certain association
without being importuned by a score of others as interesting or more so.
I have, for instance, been hesitating to say that the ancestor of
Susannah was the Reverend Samuel Annesley who was silenced for his
Puritanism in his church of St. Giles Cripplegate, because I should have
to confess that when I visited his church my thoughts were rapt from the
Reverend Samuel and from Susannah Annesley, and John Wesley, and the
Georgian Methodists to the far mightier fame of Milton, who lies
interred there, with his father before him, with John Fox, author of
_The Book of Martyrs_, with Sir Martin Frobisher, who sailed the
western seas when they were yet mysteries, with Margaret Lucy, the
daughter of Shakespeare's Sir Thomas. There, too, Cromwell was married,
when a youth of twenty-one, to Elizabeth Bowchier. Again, I have had to
ask myself, what is the use of painfully following up the slender
threads afterwards woven into the web of American nationality, when at
any moment the clews may drop from your heedless hands in your wonder at
some which are the woof of the history of the world? I have to own even
here that the more storied dead in Bunhill Fields made me forget that
there lay among them Nathaniel Mather of the kindred of Increase and


That is a place which one must wish to visit not once, but often, and I
hope that if I send any reader of mine to it he will fare better than we
did, and not find it shut to the public on a Sunday morning when it
ought to have been open. But the Sabbatarian observances of England are
quite past the comprehension of even such semi-aliens as the Americans,
and must baffle entire foreigners all but to madness. I had already seen
the Sunday auctions of the poor Jews in Petticoat Lane, which are licit,
if not legal, and that Sunday morning before we found Bunhill Fields
fast closed, we had found a market for poor Christians wide open in
Whitecross Street near by. It was one of several markets of the kind
which begin early Saturday evening, and are suffered by a much-winking
police to carry on their traffic through the night and till noon the
next day. Then, at the hour when the Continental Sunday changes from a
holy day to a holiday, the guardians of the public morals in London
begin to urge the hucksters and their customers to have done with their
bargaining, and get about remembering the Sabbath-day. If neither
persuasions nor imperatives will prevail, it is said that the police
sometimes call in the firemen and rake the marketplace with volleys from
the engine-hose. This is doubtless effective, but at the hour when we
passed through as much of Whitecross Street as eyes and nose could bear,
it was still far from the time for such an extreme measure, and the
market was flourishing as if it were there to stay indefinitely.

Everything immediately imaginable for the outside or inside of man
seemed on sale: clothing of all kinds, boots and shoes, hats and caps,
glassware, iron-ware; fruits and vegetables, heaps of unripe English
hazelnuts, and heaps of Spanish grapes which had failed to ripen on the
way; fish, salt and fresh, and equally smelling to heaven; but, above
all, flesh meats of every beast of the field and every bird of the barn-
yard, with great girls hewing and hacking at the carnage, and strewing
the ground under their stands with hoofs and hides and claws and
feathers and other less namable refuse. There was a notable absence
among the hucksters of that coster class which I used to see in London
twenty odd years before, or at least an absence of the swarming buttons
on jackets and trousers which used to distinguish the coster. But among
the customers, whose number all but forbade our passage through the
street, with the noise of their feet and voices, there were, far beyond
counting, those short, stubbed girls and women as typically cockney
still as the costers ever were. They were of a plinth-like bigness up
and down, and their kind, plain, common faces were all topped with
narrow-brimmed sailor-hats, mostly black. In their jargoning hardly an
aspirate was in its right place, but they looked as if their hearts
were, and if no word came from their lips with its true quality, but
with that curious soft London slur or twist, they doubtless spoke a
sound business dialect.

When we traversed the dense body of the market and entered Roscoe Street
from Whitecross, we were surprisingly soon out of its hubbub in a quiet
befitting the silent sectaries, who once made so great a spiritual
clamor in the world. We were going to look at the grave of George Fox,
because of his relation to our colonial history in Pennsylvania and
Rhode Island, and we thought it well to look into the Friends'
Meeting-house on the way, for a more fitting frame of mind than we might
have brought with us from Whitecross Street. A mute sexton welcomed us
at the door, and held back for us the curtain of the homely quadrangular
interior, where we found twoscore or more of such simple folk as Fox
might have preached to in just such a place. The only difference was
that they now wore artless versions of the world's present fashions in
dress, and not the drabs of out-dated cut which we associate with
Quakerism. But this was right, for that dress is only the antiquated
simplicity of the time when Quakerism began; and the people we now saw
were more fitly dressed than if they had worn it. We sat with them a
quarter of an hour in the stillness which no one broke, the elders on
the platform, with their brows bowed on their hands, apparently more
deeply lost in it than the rest. Then we had freedom (to use their
gentle Quaker parlance) to depart, and I hope we did so without offence.

Cunningham says that Fox was buried in Bunhill Fields, but he owns there
is no memorial of him there; and there is a stone to mark his grave in
the grassy space just beyond the meeting-house in Roscoe Street. If that
is really his last resting-place, he lies under the shadow of a certain
lofty warehouse walls, and in the shelter of some trees which on that
sunny First Day morning stirred in the breeze with the stiffness by
which the English foliage confesses before the fall it drops sere and
colorless to the ground. Some leaves had already fallen about the simple
monumental stone, and now they moved inertly, and now again lay still.

I will own here that I had more heart in the researches which concerned
the ancestral Friends of all mankind, including so much American
citizenship, than in following up some other origins of ours. The reader
will perhaps have noticed long before that our origins were nearly all
religious, and that though some of the American plantations were at
first the effect of commercial enterprise, they were afterwards by far
the greater part undertaken by people who desired for themselves, if not
for others, freedom for the forms of worship forbidden them at home. Our
colonial beginnings were illustrated by sacrifices and martyrdoms even
among the lowliest, and their leaders passed in sad vicissitude from
pulpit to prison, back and forth, until exile became their refuge from
oppression. No nation could have a nobler source than ours had in such
heroic fidelity to ideals; but it cannot be forgotten that the religious
freedom, which they all sought, some of them were not willing to impart
when they had found it; and it is known how, in New England especially,
they practised the lessons of persecution they had learned in Old
England. Two provinces stood conspicuously for toleration, Rhode Island,
for which Roger Williams imagined it the first time in history, and
Pennsylvania, where, for the first time, William Penn embodied in the
polity of a state the gospel of peace and good-will to men. Neither of
these colonies has become the most exemplary of our commonwealths; both
are perhaps, for some reasons, the least so in their sections; but,
above all the rest, their earlier memories appeal to the believer in the
universal right to religious liberty and in the ideal of peaceful
democracy which the Quakers alone have realized. The Quakers are no
longer sensibly a moral force; but the creed of honest work for daily
bread, and of the equalization of every man with another which they
lived, can never perish. Their testimony against bloodshed was
practical, as such a testimony can still be, when men will; their
principle of equality, as well as their practise of it was their legacy
to our people, and it remains now all that differences us from other
nations. It was not Thomas Jefferson who first imagined the first of the
self-evident truths of the Declaration, but George Fox.

We went, inappropriately enough, from where George Fox lay in his grave,
level with the common earth, to where, in Finsbury Pavement, the
castellated armory of the Honourable Artillery Company of London recalls
the origin of the like formidable body in Boston. These gallant men were
archers before they were gunners, being established in that quality
first when the fear of Spanish invasion was rife in 1585. They did
yeoman service against their own king in the Civil War, but later fell
into despite and were mocked by poets no more warlike than themselves.
Fletcher's "Knight of the Burning Pestle" was of their company, and
Cowper's "John Gilpin" was "a train-band captain." Now, however, they
are so far restored to their earlier standing that when they are called
out to celebrate, say, the Fourth of July, or on any of the high
military occasions demanding the presence of royalty, the King appears
in their uniform.



Outside the high gate of Bunhill Fields, we could do no more than read
the great names lettered on the gate-posts, and peer through the iron
barriers at the thickly clustered headstones within. But over against
the cemetery we had access to the chapel where John Wesley preached for
thirty years, and behind which he is buried. He laid the corner-stone in
1777 amid such a multitude of spectators that he could scarcely get
through to the foundation, Cunningham says. Before the chapel is an
excellent statue of the great preacher, and the glance at the interior
which we suffered ourselves showed a large congregation listening to the
doctrine which he preached there so long, and which he carried beyond
seas himself to ourselves, to found among us the great spiritual
commonwealth which is still more populous than any of those dividing our

The scene of his labors here was related for me by an obscure
association to such a doctrinally different place as Finsbury Chapel,
hard by, where my old friend, Dr. Moncure D. Conway preached for twenty
years. Whatever manner of metaphysician he has ended, he began
Methodist, and as a Virginian he had a right to a share of my interest
in that home of Wesleyism, for it was in Virginia, so much vaster then
than now, that Wesleyism spread widest and deepest. If any part of
Wesley's mission tended to modify or abolish slavery, then a devotion to
freedom so constant and generous as Conway's should link their names by
an irrefragable, however subtle, filament of common piety. I wished to
look into Finsbury Chapel for my old friend's sake, but it seemed to me
that we had intruded on worshippers enough that morning, and I satisfied
my longing by a glimpse of the interior through the pane of glass let
into the inner door. It was past the time for singing the poem of
Tennyson which "Tom Brown" Hughes used to say they always gave out
instead of a hymn in Finsbury Chapel; and some one else was preaching in
Conway's pulpit, or at his desk. I do not know what weird influence of
sermonizing seen but not heard took the sense of reality from the
experience, but I came away feeling as if I had looked upon something

It was no bad preparation for coming presently to the church of All
Hallows in the Wall, where a bit of the old Roman masonry shows in the
foundations of the later defences, of which indeed, no much greater
length remains. The church, which is so uninterestingly ugly as not to
compete with the relic of Roman wall, stands at the base of a little
triangle planted with young elms that made a green quiet, and murmured
to the silence with their stiffening leaves. It was an effect possible
only to that wonderful London which towers so massively into the present
that you are dumb before the evidences of its vast antiquity. There must
have been a time when there was no London, but you cannot think it any
more than you can think the time when there shall be none. I make so
sure of these reflections that I hope there was no mistake about those
modest breadths of Roman masonry; its rubble laid in concrete, was
strong enough to support the weightiest consideration.

I am the more anxious about this because my friend, the genealogist,
here differed with the great Cunningham, and was leading me by that
morsel of Roman London to St. Peter's Lane, where he said Fox died, and
not to White Hart Court, where my other authority declares that he made
an end two days after preaching in the Friends' Meeting-house there. The
ignorant disciple of both may have his choice; perhaps in the process of
time the two places may have become one and the same. At any rate we
were able that morning to repair our error concerning St. Catherine
Cree's, which we had unwittingly seen before, and now consciously saw,
for Sir Nicholas Throgmorton's sake. It had the look of very high church
in the service which was celebrating, and I am afraid my mind was taken
less by the monument of Sir Nicholas than by the black-robed figure of
the young man who knelt with bowed head at the back of the church and
rapt me with the memory of the many sacerdotal shapes which I used to
see doing the like in Latin sanctuaries. It is one of the few advantages
of living long that all experiences become more or less contemporaneous,
and that at certain moments you cannot be distinctly aware just when and
where you are.

There was little of this mystical question when our mission took us to
Whitechapel, for there was nothing there to suggest former times or
other places. I did, indeed, recall the thick-breathed sweltering Sunday
morning when I had visited the region in July; but it is all now so
absolutely and sordidly modern that one has no difficulty in believing
that it was altogether different when so many Southern and especially
Virginian emigrations began there. How many settlers in New Jersey, New
York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland also were recruited from it, I know
not; but the reader may have it at second-hand from me, as I had it at
firsthand from my genealogist, that some Virginian names of the first
quality originated in Whitechapel, which, in the colonizing times, was a
region of high respectability, and not for generations afterwards the
perlieu it became, and has now again somewhat ceased to be.

The first exiles from it were not self-banished for conscience' sake,
like those at a later date when the Puritans went both to Massachusetts
where they revolted further, and to Virginia where they ultimately
conformed. The earlier out-goers, though they might be come-outers, were
part of the commercial enterprise which began to plant colonies north
and south. The Plymouth Company which had the right to the country as
far northward as Nova Scotia and westward as far as the Pacific, and the
London Company which had as great scope westward and southward as far as
Cape Fear, had the region between them in common, and they both drew
upon Whitechapel, and upon Stepney beyond, where I had formerly fancied
the present Whitechapel resuming somewhat of its ancient respectability.
It is then a "spacious fair street," as one of Cunningham's early
authorities describes it, and it is still "somewhat long," so long
indeed that our tram was a half-hour in carrying us through it into
Stepney. About the time of the emigrations De Foe saw it, or says he saw
it (you never can be sure with De Foe) thronged "with the richer sort of
people, especially the nobility and gentry from the west part of the
town, ... with their families and servants," escaping into the country
from the plague.

The "offscourings" of London, which the companies carried rather more to
the southward than the northward with us, were hardly scoured off in
Whitechapel, which was a decent enough ancestral source for any American
strain. As for Stepney, then as now the great centre of the London
shipping, she has never shared the ill-repute of Whitechapel, at least
in name. Cunningham declares the region once "well-inhabited," and the
sailors still believe that all children born at sea belong to Stepney
Parish. By an easy extension of this superstition she is supposed to
have had a motherly interest in all children born beyond seas,
including, of course, the American colonies, and she is of a presence
that her foster-folk's descendants need not be ashamed of. Our tram
took us now and then by an old mansion of almost manor-house dignity,
set in pleasant gardens; and it followed the shore of the Thames in
sight of the masts of ships whose multitude brought me to disgrace for
having, on my way to Greenwich, thought poorly of London as a port, and
which, because of her riparian situation, made Stepney the scene of the
great strike of the London dockers, when they won their fight under the
lead of John Burns.

Our lovely weather cooled slightly as the afternoon wore away, but it
was bright and mild again when we came another day towards Stepney as
far as the old church of St. Dunstan. It is an edifice of good
perpendicular Gothic, with traces of early English and even of later
Norman, standing serene in a place of quiet graves amid the surrounding
turmoil of life. The churchyard was full of rustling shrubs and bright
with beds of autumnal flowers, from which the old square tower rose in
the mellow air. Divers of our early emigrants were baptized in St.
Dunstan's, namely, the wife of Governor Bradford of Plymouth, with many
of our ship-men, notably that Master Willoughby, who established the
ship-yard at Charlestown, Massachusetts. I like better to associate with
it our beginnings, because here I first saw those decorations for the
Thanksgiving festival which the English have lately borrowed from us,
and which I found again and again at various points in my September
wanderings. The pillars were wreathed with the flowers and leaves of the
fall; the altar was decked with apples and grapes, and the pews trimmed
with yellow heads of ripe wheat. The English Thanksgiving comes earlier
than ours, but it remembers its American source in its name, and the
autumn comes so much sooner than with us that although the "parting
summer lingering blooms delayed" in St. Dunstan's church-yard, the
fallen leaves danced and whirled about our feet in the paths.

There is witness of the often return of the exiles to their old home in
the quaint epitaph which a writer in _The Spectator_ (it might have
been Addison himself) read from one of the flat tombstones:

"Here Thomas Taffin lyes interred, ah why?
Born in New England, did in London die."

"I do not wonder at this," Dr. Johnson said of the epitaph to Boswell.
"It would have been strange if born in London he had died in New

The good doctor did indeed despise the American colonies with a contempt
which we can almost reverence; but the thing which he found so strange
happened to many Londoners before his time. One of the least worthy and
less known of these was that George Downing, who came back from Boston,
where he was graduated at Harvard, and took the title of baronet from
Charles II., in return, apparently, for giving his name to that famous
Downing Street, ever since synonymous with English administration. If he
has no other claim to our interest, that is perhaps enough; and the
American who is too often abashed by the humility of our London origins
may well feel a rise of worldly pride in the London celebrity of this
quandam fellow-citizen. His personality is indeed lost in it, but his
achievement in laying out a street, and getting it called after him, was
prophetic of so much economic enterprise of ours that it may be fairly
claimed as a national honor.

Of those who preferred not to risk the fate Dr. Johnson held in scorn,
multitudes perished at Whitechapel of the plague which it was one of the
poor compensations of life in New England to escape. They would all have
been dead by now, whether they went or whether they stayed, though it
was hard not to attribute their present decease solely to their staying,
as we turned over the leaves of the old register in St. Mary Matfelon's,
Whitechapel. The church has been more than once rebuilt out of
recollection of its original self, and there were workman still doing
something to the interior; but the sexton led us into the vestry, and
while the sunlight played through the waving trees without and softly
illumined the record, we turned page after page, where the names were
entered in a fair clear hand, with the given cause of death shortened to
the letters, _pl_., after each. They were such names as abounded in
the colonies, and those who had borne them must have been of the kindred
of the emigrants. But my patriotic interest in them was lost in a sense
of the strong nerve of the clerk who had written their names and that
"pl." with such an unshaken hand. One of the earlier dead, in the
church-yard without, was a certain ragman, Richard Brandon, of whom the
register says: "This R. Brandon is supposed to have cut off the head of
Charles the First."

From the parish of St. Botolph by Aldgate, on the road from Houndsditch
to Whitechapel, came many of those who settled in Salem and the
neighboring towns of Massachusetts. It is now very low church, as it
probably was in their day, with a plain interior, and with the crimson
foliage of the Virginia-creeper staining the light like painted glass at
one of its windows. The bare triangular space in front of the church was
once a pit where the dead of the plague were thrown, and in the sacristy
is a thing of yet grislier interest. My friend made favor with some
outlying authority, and an old, dim, silent servitor of some sort came
back with him and took from a sort of cupboard, where it was kept in a
glass box, the embalmed head of the Duke of Suffolk, which he lost for
his part in the short-lived usurpation of his daughter, Lady Jane Grey.
Little was left to suggest the mighty noble in the mummy-face, but the
tragedy of his death was all there. It seemed as if the thoughts of the
hideous last moment might still be haunting the withered brain, and the
agony of which none of the dead have yet been able to impart a sense to
the living, was present in it. As he who was showing us the head, turned
it obligingly round in view of the expected shilling, and tilted it
forward that we might see the mark of the axe in the severed neck, one
seemed to see also the things which those sunken eyes had looked on
last: the swarming visages of the crowd, the inner fringe of
halberdiers, the black-visored figure waiting beside the block. As the
doomed man dragged himself to the scaffold, how pale that face in the
glass box must have been, for any courage that kept him above his fate.
It was all very vivid, and the more incredible therefore that such a
devilish thing as the death-punishment should still be, and that
governments should keep on surpassing in the anguish they inflict the
atrocity of the cruelest murderers. If the Salem-born Hawthorne ever
visited that church in remembrance of the fact that his people came from
the same parish; if he saw the mortal relic which held me in such
fascination that I could scarcely leave the place even when the glass
box had been locked back to its cupboard, and if the spirits of the dead
sometimes haunt their dust, there must have been a reciprocal
intelligence between the dead and the living that left no emotion of the
supreme hour unimparted.

We visited St. Sepulchre's where the truly sainted Roger Williams was
baptized, and found entrance one day after two failures to penetrate to
its very unattractive interior. We were lighted by stained-glass windows
of geometrical pattern and a sort of calico or gingham effect in their
coloring, to the tablet to Captain John Smith, whose life Pocahontas, in
Virginia, with other ladies in diverse parts of the world, saved, that
we might have one of the most delightful, if not one of the most
credible, of autobiographies. He was of prime colonial interest, of
course, and we were not taken from the thought of him by any charm of
the place; but when we had identified his time-dimmed tablet there was
no more to do at St. Sepulchre's. The church is at the western end of
Old Bailey, and in the dreadful old times when every Friday brought its
batch of doomed men forth from the cells, it was the duty of the bellman
of St. Sepulchre's to pass under the prison walls the night before and
ring his bell, and chant the dismal lines:

"All you that in the condemned hold do lie,
Prepare you, for to-morrow you shall die;
Watch all, and pray, the hour is drawing near,
That you before the Almighty must appear;
Examine well yourselves, in time repent,
That you may not to eternal flames be sent,
And when St. Sepulchre's bell to-morrow tolls,
The Lord above have mercy on your souls.
Past twelve o'clock."

When we consider what piety was in the past, we need not be so horrified
by justice. Sentiment sometimes came in to heighten the effect of both,
and it used to present each criminal in passing St. Sepulchre's on the
way to Tyburn with a nosegay, and a little farther on with a glass of
beer. The gardened strip of what once must have been a graveyard beside
the church could hardly have afforded flowers enough for the pious rite.
It was frequented, the day of our visit, by some old men of a very
vacant-looking leisure, who sat on the benches in the path; and the
smallest girl in proportion to the baby she carried that I ever saw in
that England where small girls seem always to carry such very large
babies, tilted back and forth with it in her slender arms, and tried to
make-believe it was going to sleep.

The reader who prefers to develop these films for himself must not fail
to bring out the surroundings of the places visited, if he would have
the right effect. Otherwise he might suppose the several sanctuaries
which we visited standing in a dignified space and hallowed quiet,
whereas, all but a few were crowded close upon crowded streets, with the
busy and noisy indifference of modern life passing before them and round
them. St. Giles-in-the-Fields, which we visited after leaving St.
Sepulchre, was the church in which Calvert, the founder of Maryland, was
baptized, of course before he turned Catholic, since it could not very
well have been afterwards. At the moment, however, I did not think of
this. I had enough to do with the fact that Chapman, the translator of
Homer, was buried in that church, and Andrew Marvell, the poet, and that
very wicked Countess of Shrewsbury, the terrible she who held the Duke
of Buckingham's horse while he was killing her husband in a duel. I
should, no doubt, have seen this memorable interior if it had still
existed, but it was the interior of a church which was taken down more
than a hundred years before the present church was built.

We visited the church on the way to Lincoln's Inn Fields, turning out of
Holborn round the corner of the house, now a bookseller's shop, where
Garrick died. I mention this merely as an instance of how the famous
dead started out of the over-populated London past and tried at every
step to keep me from my proper search for our meaner American origins. I
was going to look at certain mansions, in which the Lords Baltimore used
to live, and the patriotic Marylander, if he have faith enough, may
identify them by their arches of gray stone at the first corner on his
right in coming into the place from Holborn. But if he have not faith
enough for this, then he may respond with a throb of sympathy to the
more universal appeal of the undoubted fact that Lord Russell was
beheaded in the centre of the square, which now waves so pleasantly with
its elms and poplars. The cruel second James, afterwards king, wanted
him beheaded before his own house, but the cynical second Charles was
not quite so cruel as that, and rejected the proposed dramatic fancy "as
indecent," Burnet says. So Lord Russell, after Tillotson had prayed with
him, "laid his head on the block at a spot which the elms and poplars
now hide, and it was cut off at two strokes."

Cunningham is certainly very temperate in calling Lincoln's Inn Fields
"a noble square." I should myself call it one of the noblest and most
beautiful in London, and if the Calverts did not dwell in one of the
stately mansions of Arch Row, which is "all that Inigo Jones lived to
build" after his design for the whole square, then they might very well
have been proud to do so. They are not among the great whom Cunningham
names as having dwelt there, and I do not know what foundation the
tradition of their residence rests upon. What seems more certain is that
one of the Calverts, the first or the second Lord Baltimore, was buried
in that church of St. Dunstan's in the West, or St. Dunstan's Fleet
Street, which was replaced by the actual edifice in 1833.

The reader, now being got so near, may as well go on with me to Charing
Cross, where in the present scene of cabs, both hansoms and four-
wheelers, perpetually coming and going at the portals of the great
station and hotel, and beside the torrent of omnibuses in the Strand,
the Reverend Hugh Peters suffered death through the often broken faith
of Charles II. In one of the most delightful of his essays, Lowell
humorously portrays the character of the man who met this tragic fate: a
restless and somewhat fatuous Puritan divine, who, having once got
safely away from persecution to Boston, came back to London in the Civil
War, and took part in the trial of Charles I. If not one of the
regicides, he was very near one, and he shared the doom from which the
treacherous pardon of Charles II was never intended to save them. I
suppose his fatuity was not incompatible with tragedy, though somehow we
think that absurd people are not the stuff of serious experience.

[Illustration: STAPLE INN, HOLBORN.]

Leigh Hunt, in that most delightful of all books about London, _The
Town_, tells us that No. 7 Craven Street, Strand, was once the
dwelling of Benjamin Franklin, and he adds, with the manliness which is
always such a curious element of his unmanliness: "What a change along
the shore of the Thames in a few years (for two centuries are less than
a few in the lapse of time) from the residence of a set of haughty
nobles, who never dreamt that a tradesman could be anything but a
tradesman, to that of a yeoman's son, and a printer, who was one of the
founders of a great state!"

Not far away in one of the houses of Essex Street, Strand, a state which
led in the attempted dismemberment of that great state, and nearly
wrought its ruin, had a formal beginning, for it is said that it was
there John Locke wrote the constitution of South Carolina, which still,
I believe, remains its organic law. One has one's choice among the
entirely commonplace yellow brick buildings, which give the street the
aspect of an old-fashioned _place_ in Boston. The street was
seriously quiet the afternoon of our visit, with only a few
foot-passengers sauntering through it, and certain clerklike youth
entering and issuing from the doors of the buildings which had the air
of being law-offices.

We used as a pretext for visiting the Temple the very attenuated
colonial fact that some Mortons akin to him of Merrymount in
Massachusetts, have their tombs and tablets in the triforium of the
Temple Church. But when we had climbed to the triforium by the corkscrew
stairs leading to it, did we find there tombs and tablets? I am not
sure, but I am sure we found the tomb of that Edward Gibbon who wrote a
_History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, and who
while in Parliament strongly favored "distressing the Americans," as the
king wished, and made a speech in support of the government measure for
closing the port of Boston. I did not bear him any great grudge for
that, but I could not give myself to his monument with such cordial
affection as I felt for that of the versatile and volatile old
letter-writer James Howell, which also I found in that triforium,
half-hidden behind a small organ, with an epitaph too undecipherable in
the dimness for my patience. It was so satisfactory to find this, after
looking in vain for any record of him at Jesus College in Oxford, where
he studied the humanities that enabled him to be so many things to so
many masters, that I took all his chiselled praises for granted.

I made what amends I could for my slight of the Mortons in the Temple
Church, by crossing presently to Clifford's Inn, Strand, where the very
founder of Merrymount, the redoubtable Thomas Morton himself was
sometime student of the law and a dweller in these precincts. It is now
the hall of the Art Workers' Guild, and anywhere but in London would be
incredibly quiet and quaint in that noisy, commonplace, modern
neighborhood. It in nowise remembers the disreputable and roistering
antipuritan, who set up his May-pole at Wollaston, and danced about it
with his debauched aboriginies, in defiance of the saints, till Miles
Standish marched up from Plymouth and made an end of such ungodly doings
at the muzzles of his matchlocks.

[Illustration: CLIFFORD'S INN HALL.]

It must have been another day that we went to view the church of St.
Botolph without Aldersgate, because some of the patrician families
emigrating to Massachusetts were from that parish, which was the home of
many patrician families of the Commonwealth. In St. Andrew's Holborn,
the Vanes, father and son, worshipped, together with the kindred of many
that had gone to dwell beyond seas. It is a large impressive interior,
after the manner of Wren, and at the moment of our visit was smelling of
varnish; most London churches smell of mortar, when in course of their
pretty constant reparation, and this was at least a change. St.
Stephen's Coleman-Street, may draw the Connecticut exile, as the
spiritual home of that Reverend Mr. Davenport, who was the founder of
New Haven, but it will attract the unlocalized lover of liberty because
it was also the parish church of the Five Members of Parliament whom
Charles I. tried to arrest when he began looking for trouble. It had a
certain sentiment of low-churchness, being very plain without and within
not unlike an Orthodox church in some old-fashioned New England town.
One entered to it by a very neatly-paved, clean court, out of a business
neighborhood, jostled by commercial figures in sack-coats and top-hats
who were expressive in their way of a non-conformity in sympathy with
the past if not with the present of St. Andrew's.

St. Martins-in-the-Fields, where General Oglethorpe, the founder of
Georgia, was baptized, was, in his time, one of the proudest parishes of
the city, and the actual church is thought to be the masterpiece of the
architect Gibbs, who produced in the portico what Cunningham calls "one
of the finest pieces of architecture in London." Many famous people were
buried in the earlier edifice, including Nell Gwynne, Lord Mohun, who
fell in a duel with the Duke of Hamilton, as the readers of _Henry
Esmond_ well know, and Farquhar the dramatist. Lord Bacon was
baptized there; and the interior of the church is very noble and worthy
of him and of the parish history. Whether General Oglethorpe drew upon
his native parish in promoting the settlement of Georgia, I am not so
sure as I am of some other things, as, for instance, that he asked the
king for a grant of land, "in trust for the poor," and that his plan was
to people his colony largely from the captives in the debtors' prisons.
I love his memory for that, and I would gladly have visited the debtors'
prisons which his humanity vacated if I could have found them, or if
they had still existed.

The reader who has had the patience to accompany me on these somewhat
futile errands must have been aware of making them largely on the lordly
omnibus-tops which I always found so much to my proud taste. Often,
however, we whisked together from point to point in hansoms; often we
made our way on foot, with those quick transitions from the present to
the past, from the rush and roar of business thoroughfares to the deep
tranquillity of religious interiors, or the noise-bound quiet of ancient
church-yards, where the autumn flowers blazed under the withering autumn
leaves, and the peaceful occupants of the public benches were scarcely
more agitated by our coming than the tenants of the graves beside them.

The weather was for the most part divinely beautiful, so tenderly and
evenly cool and warm, with a sort of lingering fondness in the sunshine,
as if it were prescient of the fogs so soon to blot it. The first of
these came on the last day of our research, when suddenly we dropped
from the clouded surfaces of the earth to depths where the tube-line
trains carry their passengers from one brilliantly lighted station to
another. We took three of the different lines, experimentally, rather
than necessarily, in going from St. Mary Woolnoth, in Lombard Street,
hard by the Bank of England, to the far neighborhood of Stoke Newington;

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