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   Chapter 2 THE RIVER

Highways and Byways in London By Emily Constance Baird Cook Characters: 60650

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

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

"Above all rivers, thy river hath renowne....

O! towne of townes, patrone and not compare,

London, thou art the Flour of Cities all."-Dunbar.

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

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

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

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

"The Queen did come by water to Whitehall.

The oars at every stroke did teares let fall."

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

"That inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude."

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

"I wander through each chartered street

Near where the chartered Thames does flow,

A mark in every face I meet,

Marks of weakness, marks of woe."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Lambeth, envy of each band and gown,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"I send, I send, here my supremest kiss

To thee, my silver-footed Tamasis,

No more shall I re-iterate thy strand

Whereon so many goodly structures stand."

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

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

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

"The Eternal Saki from the Bowl hath poured

Millions of bubbles like us, and will pour--"

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

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

"Ye giant shades of Ra and Tum,

Ye ghosts of gods Egyptian,

If murmurs of our planet come

To exiles in the precincts wan

Where, fetish or Olympian,

To help or harm no more ye list,

Look down, if look ye may, and scan

This monument in London mist!

"Behold, the hieroglyphs are dumb,

That once were read of him that ran

When seistron, cymbal, trump, and drum,

Wild music of the Bull began;

When through the chanting priestly clan

Walk'd Ramses, and the high sun kiss'd

This stone, with blessing scored and ban-

This monument in London mist.

"The stone endures though gods be numb;

Though human effort, plot, and plan

Be sifted, drifted, like the sum

Of sands in wastes Arabian.

What king may deem him more than man,

What priest says Faith can Time resist

While this endures to mark their span-

This monument in London mist?"-

It has been objected that Cleopatra's needle ought to have been p

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

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

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

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

Cleopatra's Needle.

"Here, I that stood in On beside the flow

Of sacred Nile, three thousand years ago!-

A Pharaoh, kingliest of his kingly race,

First shaped, and carved, and set me in my place.

A C?sar of a punier dynasty

Thence haled me toward the Mediterranean sea,

Whence your own citizens, for their own renown,

Thro' strange seas drew me to your monster town.

I have seen the four great empires disappear!

I was when London was not! I am here!"

The "Top" Season.

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

"The bleak wind of March

Made her tremble and shiver:

But not the dark arch

Or the black flowing river."

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

"When life hangs heavy, death remains the door

To endless rest beside the Stygian shore."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oranges and Lemons,

Say the bells of St. Clement's;

You owe me ten shillings,

Say the bells of St. Helen's;

When will you pay me?

Say the bells of Old Bailey;

When I grow rich,

Say the bells of Shoreditch."

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

"Darker and darker the further I go;

Baser and baser the richer I grow."

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

"The heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,

Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales."

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

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

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

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

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

"The light that never was on land or sea,

The consecration and the poet's dream."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Over the ball of it,

Peering and prying,

How I see all of it,

Life there outlying!

Roughness and smoothness,

Shine and defilement,

Grace and uncouthness,

One reconcilement."

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

An Underground Station.

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