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   Chapter 11 BLOOMSBURY

Highways and Byways in London By Emily Constance Baird Cook Characters: 65005

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"Some love the Chelsea river gales,

And the slow barges' ruddy sails,

And these I'll woo when glamour fails

In Bloomsbury.

"Enough for me in yonder square

To see the perky sparrows pair,

Or long laburnum gild the air

In Bloomsbury.

"Enough for me in midnight skies

To see the moons of London rise,

And weave their silver fantasies

In Bloomsbury.

"Oh, mine in snows and summer heats,

These good old Tory brick-built streets!

My eye is pleased with all it meets

In Bloomsbury."

The German Band.

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

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

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

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

"In Palace yard, at nine, you'll find me there-

At ten, for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury Square-"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pavement Artist.

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

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

"... Multitudes-multitudes-stood up in bliss,

Made equal to the angels, glorious, fair;

With harps, palms, wedding-garments, kiss of peace,

And crowned and haloed hair."

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

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

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

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

"'Shall the hide of a fierce lion

Be stretched on a couch of wood

For a daughter's foot to lie on,

Stained with a father's blood?'

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

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

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

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

Queen Square, though its old houses have mostly been rebuilt as large hospitals, and only a few of them remain, still has a charming old world look. Great Ormond Street, with its tall old mansions of time-darkened red brick, their quaint overhanging porch roofs, and their often elaborate iron-work, runs into it at one end; while the other-curious anomaly at this date!-is still a deadlock of enclosed gardens, with no thoroughfare into dull Guilford street beyond. This,-and it is a fact that of itself speaks well for the health of the district,-is a region of hospitals; hence the occasional whiff of ether or scent of iodine from bandaged "out-patients" that greets the traveller by omnibus up Southampton Row. The high ground on which Bloomsbury is built (for it is a gradual ascent all the way from the river to Russell Square) render it, its fogs and soot notwithstanding,-and despite the old tradition that the victims of the plague were mainly buried here,-far more bracing then the more fashionable West End. It

has, certainly, its quota of fogs, or "London particulars" as Sam Weller called them; but so have other parts of London. In and about Great Ormond Street and Queen Square are many hospitals; large, airy, and splendidly managed institutions, such, for instance, as the well-known Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, (abused as "hideous" by Mr. Hare, principally because "two interesting houses, Nos. 48 and 49," of real Queen Anne architecture, were destroyed in 1882 to enlarge it); the National Hospital for Epilepsy and Paralysis, under the great Dr. Ferrier; and the tall newly-built Alexandra Hospital for children. In Powis Place, close to Queen Square, Lord Macaulay lived in early manhood with his family. The house is now joined to the Hom?opathic Hospital.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Fust er Ma-ay,

Dawn er da-ay,

It's only once a yee-ar"-

are usually suggestive of a cold, cheerless morn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blake's poem pictures the scene:

"Oh, what a multitude they seemed, these flowers of London town!

Seated in companies they sit, with radiance all their own;

The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,

Hundreds of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands."

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

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

"You have my heart;

Though we must part."

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

"Deemed they of this, those worshippers,

When, in some mythic chain of verse

Which man shall not again rehearse,

The faces of thy ministers

Yearned pale with bitter ecstasy?

"Greece, Egypt, Rome-did any god,

Before whose feet men knelt unshod,

Deem that in this unblest abode

Another scarce more unknown god

Should house with him"-

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

"And as I turned, my sense half shut

Still saw the crowds of kerb and rut

Go past as marshalled to the strut

Of ranks in gypsum quaintly cut.

It seemed in one same pageantry

They followed forms which had been erst;

To pass, till on my sight should burst

That future of the best or worst

When some may question which was first,

Of London or of Nineveh.

"For as that Bull-god once did stand

And watched the burial clouds of sand,

Till these at last without a hand

Rose o'er his eyes, another land,

And blinded him with destiny:-

So may he stand again; till now,

In ships of unknown sail and prow,

Some tribe of the Australian plough

Bear him afar-a relic now

Of London, not of Nineveh!"

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