Dickens' London
by Francis Miltoun
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Dickens' own description of Broadstairs was, in part, as follows:

"Half awake and half asleep, this idle morning in our sunny window on the edge of a chalk cliff in the old-fashioned watering-place to which we are a faithful resorter, we feel a lazy inclination to sketch its picture.

"The place seems to respond. Sky, sea, beach, and village, lie as still before us as if they were sitting for the picture. But the ocean lies winking in the sunlight like a drowsy lion—its glassy waters scarcely curve upon the shore—the fishing-boats in the tiny harbour are all stranded in the mud—our two colliers (our watering-place has a maritime trade employing that amount of shipping) have not an inch of water within a quarter of a mile of them, and turn, exhausted, on their sides, like faint fish of an antediluvian species. Rusty cables and chains, ropes and rings, undermost parts of posts and piles and confused timber defences against the waves, lie strewn about, in a brown litter of tangled seaweed and fallen cliff.

"In truth, our watering-place itself has been left somewhat high and dry by the tide of years. Concerned as we are for its honour, we must reluctantly admit that the time when this pretty little semi-circular sweep of houses tapering off at the end of the wooden pier into a point in the sea, was a gay place, and when the lighthouse overlooking it shone at daybreak on company dispersing from public balls, is but dimly traditional now. There is a 'bleak chamber' in our watering-place which is yet called the Assembly 'Rooms.'...

"... We have a church, by the bye, of course—a hideous temple of flint, like a great petrified haystack....

"Other population than we have indicated, our watering-place has none. There are a few old used-up boatmen who creep about in the sunlight with the help of sticks, and there is a poor imbecile shoemaker who wanders his lonely life away among the rocks, as if he were looking for his reason—which he will never find. Sojourners in neighbouring watering-places come occasionally in flys to stare at us, and drive away again.

"... And since I have been idling at the window here, the tide has risen. The boats are dancing on the bubbling water: the colliers are afloat again; the white-bordered waves rush in; the children—

"'Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him When he comes back;'

the radiant sails are gliding past the shore, and shining on the far horizon; all the sea is sparkling, heaving, swelling up with life and beauty, this bright morning." ("Our Watering-Place.")

Another reference of Dickens to the Kent coast was in one of the Household Words articles, entitled "Out of Season." The Watering-Place "out of season" was Dover, and the place without a cliff was Deal.

Writing to his wife of his stay there, he says:

"I did nothing at Dover (except for Household Words), and have not begun 'Little Dorrit,' No. 8, yet. But I took twenty-mile walks in the fresh air, and perhaps in the long run did better than if I had been at work."

One can hardly think of Deal or Dover without calling to mind the French coast opposite, often, of a clear day, in plain view.

In spite of Dickens' intimacies with the land of his birth, he had also a fondness for foreign shores, as one infers from following the scope of his writings.

Of Boulogne, he writes in "Our French Watering-Place" (Household Words, November 4, 1854):

"Once solely known to us as a town with a very long street, beginning with an abattoir and ending with a steamboat, which it seemed our fate to behold only at daybreak on winter mornings, when (in the days before continental railroads), just sufficiently awake to know that we were most uncomfortably asleep, it was our destiny always to clatter through it, in the coupe of the diligence from Paris, with a sea of mud behind, and a sea of tumbling waves before."

An apt and true enough description that will be recognized by many. Continuing, he says, also truly enough:

"But our French watering-place, when it is once got into, is a very enjoyable place."

To those to whom these racy descriptions appeal, it is suggested that they familiarize themselves with the "Reprinted Pieces," edited by Charles Dickens the younger, and published in New York in 1896, a much more complete edition, with explanatory notes, than that which was issued in London.


Glide gently, thus for ever glide, O Thames! that other bards may see As lovely visions by thy side As now, fair river! come to me. O glide, fair stream, for ever so, Thy quiet soul on all bestowing, Till all our minds for ever flow As thy deep waters now are flowing.


Ever present in the minds and hearts of the true Londoner is the "majestic Thames;" though, in truth, while it is a noble stream, it is not so all-powerful and mighty a river as romance would have us believe.

From its source, down through the Shires, past Oxford, Berks, and Bucks, and finally between Middlesex, Surrey, and Essex, it ambles slowly but with dignity. From Oxford to Henley and Cookham, it is at its best and most charming stage. Passing Maidenhead, Windsor, Stains, Richmond, Twickenham, and Hammersmith, and reaching Putney Bridge, it comes into London proper, after having journeyed on its gladsome way through green fields and sylvan banks for a matter of some hundred and thirty miles.

At Putney Bridge and Hammersmith is the centre of the fishing section, and this was the background depicted by the artist who drew the wrapper for the first serial issue of "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club." Putney Church is seen in the distance, with its Henry VIII. Chapel, and in the foreground Mr. Pickwick is found dozing in his traditional punt,—that curious box, or coffin-like, affair, which, as a pleasure craft, is apparently indigenous to the Thames.

Above this point the river is still:

... "The gentle Thames And the green, silent pastures yet remain."

Poets have sung its praises, and painters extolled its charms. To cite Richmond alone, as a locality, is to call up memories of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Walpole, Pope, Thomson, and many others whose names are known and famed of letters and art.

Below, the work-a-day world has left its stains and its ineffaceable marks of industry and grime, though it is none the less a charming and fascinating river, even here in its lower reaches. And here, too, it has ever had its literary champions. Was not Taylor—"the water poet"—the Prince of Thames Watermen?"

If swans are characteristic of the upper reaches, the waterman or the bargeman, assuredly, is of the lower. With the advent of the railway,—which came into general use and effective development during Dickens' day,—it was popularly supposed that the traffic of the "silent highway" would be immeasurably curtailed. Doubtless it was, though the real fact is, that the interior water-ways of Britain, and possibly other lands, are far behind "la belle France" in the control and development of this means of intercommunication.

There was left on the Thames, however, a very considerable traffic which—with due regard for vested rights, archaic by-laws and traditions, "customs of the port," and other limitations without number—gave, until very late years, a livelihood to a vast riverside population.

The change in our day from what it was, even in the latter days of Dickens' life, is very marked. New bridges—at least a half-dozen—have been built, two or three new tunnels, steam ferries,—of a sort,—and four railway bridges; thus the aspect of the surface of the river has perforce changed considerably, opening up new vistas and ensembles formerly unthought of.

Coming to London proper, from "Westminster" to the "Tower," there is practically an inexhaustible store of reminiscence to be called upon, if one would seek to enumerate or picture the sights, scenes, and localities immortalized by even the authors contemporary with Dickens.

Not all have been fictionists,—a word which is used in its well meant sense,—some have been chroniclers, like the late Sir Walter Besant and Joseph Knight, whose contributions of historical resume are of the utmost value. Others are mere "antiquarians" or, if you prefer, historians, as the author of "London Riverside Churches." Poets there have been, too, who have done their part in limning its charms, from Wordsworth's "Westminster Bridge," on the west, written at the beginning of the nineteenth century, to "A White-Bait Dinner at Greenwich," of Peacock, or "The Boy at the Nore," of Tom Hood, on the east.

When, in the forties, the new Parliament Houses were approaching their completed form, a new feature came into the prospect.

As did Wren, the architect of St. Paul's, so did Barry, the architect of the Parliament Buildings, come in for many rough attacks at the hands of statesmen or Parliamentarians, who set their sails chiefly to catch a passing breath of popular applause, in order that they might provide for themselves a niche or a chapter in the history of this grand building.

It was claimed that the flanking towers would mix inextricably with those of St. Margaret's and the Abbey; that were they omitted, the structure would be dwarfed by the aforesaid churches,—and much more of the same sort. In its present completed form, it is a very satisfying "Tudor-Gothic," or "Gothic-Tudor," building, admirably characteristic of the dignity and power which should be possessed by a great national administrative capitol.

The worst defect, if such be noticeable among its vast array of excellencies, is the unfinished northerly, or up-river, facade.

To recall a reminiscence of Dickens' acquaintance with the locality, it may be mentioned that in Milbank, hard by the Houses of Parliament, is Church Street, running to the river, where Copperfield and Peggotty followed Martha, bent upon throwing herself into the flood.

In Dickens' time, that glorious thoroughfare, known of all present-day visitors to London, the Victoria Embankment, was in a way non-existent. In the forties there was some agitation for a new thoroughfare leading between the western and the eastern cities. Two there were already, one along Holborn, though the later improvement of the Holborn Viaduct more than trebled its efficiency, and the other, the "Royal Route,"—since the court gave up its annual state pageant by river,—via the Strand, Fleet Street, and Ludgate Hill.

As originally projected, the "Embankment" was to be but a mere causeway, or dyke, running parallel to the shore of the river from Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars, "with ornamental junctions at Hungerford and Waterloo Bridges."

Whatever the virtues of such a plan may have been, practically or artistically, it was ultimately changed in favour of a solid filling which should extend from the fore-shore to somewhat approximating the original river-banks. This left the famous "Stairs" far inland, as stand York Stairs and Essex Stairs to-day.

The result has been that, while it has narrowed the river itself, it has made possible an ample roadway through the heart of a great city, the peer of which does not exist elsewhere. It is to be feared, though, that it is hardly appreciated. The London cabby appears to be fascinated with the glare and intricacy of the Strand, and mostly the drivers of brewers' drays and parcel delivery vans the same. The result is that, but for a few earnest folk who are really desirous of getting to their destination quickly, it is hardly made use of to anything like the extent which it ought.

The Thames in London proper was, in 1850, crossed by but six bridges. Blackfriars Railway Bridge, Charing Cross Railway Bridge, and the Tower Bridge did not come into the ensemble till later, though the two former were built during Dickens' lifetime.

Westminster Bridge, from whence the Embankment starts, was the second erected across the Thames. It appears that attempts were made to obtain another bridge over the Thames besides that known as "London Bridge," in the several reigns of Elizabeth, James I., Charles I. and II., and George I.; but it was not until the year 1736 that Parliament authorized the building of a second bridge, namely, that at Westminster. Prior to this date, the only communication between Lambeth and Westminster was by ferry-boat, near Palace Gate, the property of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom it was granted by patent under a rent of L20, as an equivalent for the loss of which, on the opening of the bridge, the see received the sum of L2,205.

In 1739, amid great opposition from "The Most Worshipful Company of Watermen," the first stone was laid, and in 1747 the structure was completed, the plans having been changed interim in favour of an entire stone structure.

As it then stood Westminster Bridge was 1,066 feet long, or 260 feet shorter than Waterloo Bridge; its width is 42 feet, height, 58 feet. The proportions of the bridge were stated by an antiquary, since departed this life, to be "so accurate that, if a person speak against the wall of any of the recesses on one side of the way, he may be distinctly heard on the opposite side; even a whisper is audible during the stillness of the night," a circumstance of itself of little import, one would think, but which is perhaps worth recording, as indicating the preciseness of a certain class of historians of the time. To-day it is to be feared that such details are accepted, if not with credulity, at least with indifference.

This fine work not being equal to the demands which were made upon it, it gave way in 1865 to the present graceful and larger iron-spanned structure, which, while in no way a grand work of art, does not offend in any way.

As the "Embankment" passes Charing Cross Railway Bridge, we are reminded that this rather ugly structure, with its decidedly ungainly appendage in the form of a huge railway station, did not exist in Dickens' day. Instead there was a more or less graceful suspension bridge, known as Hungerford Bridge, which crossed the river from the lower end of Hungerford Market, now alas replaced by the aforesaid crude railway station, which, in spite of the indication of progress which it suggests, can hardly be an improvement on what existed on the same site some fifty years ago.

Hungerford Market was a structure occupying much the same area as the present railway station; beside it was Warren's Blacking Factory, where Dickens, as a boy, tied up the pots of the darksome fluid. Just below was "Hungerford Stairs," another of those riverside landing-places, and one which was perhaps more made use of than any other between Blackfriars and Westminster, its aristocratic neighbour, "York Stairs," being but seldom used at that time. The latter, one of the few existing works of Inigo Jones, remains to-day, set about with greensward in the "Embankment Gardens," but Hungerford Stairs, like the Market, and old Hungerford Bridge, has disappeared for ever. The present railway bridge is often referred to as Hungerford Bridge, by reason of the fact that a foot-bridge runs along its side, a proviso made when the former structure was permitted to be pulled down. Of the old blacking factory, which must have stood on the present Villiers Street, nothing remains, nor of its "crazy old wharf, abutting on the water when the tide was out, and literally overrun by rats."

On the 1st of May, 1845, Hungerford Suspension Bridge was opened to the public without ceremony, but with much interest and curiosity, for between noon and midnight 36,254 persons passed over it. Hungerford was at that time the great focus of the Thames Steam Navigation, the embarkation and landing exceeding two millions per annum. The bridge was the work of Sir I. K. Brunel, and was a fine specimen of engineering skill. There were three spans, the central one between the piers being 676 feet, or 110 feet more than the Menai Bridge, and second only to the span of the wire suspension bridge at Fribourg, which is nearly 900 feet. It was built without any scaffolding, with only a few ropes, and without any impediment to the navigation of the river. The entire cost of the bridge was L110,000, raised by a public company.

The bridge was taken down in 1863, and the chains were carried to Clifton for the Suspension Bridge erecting there. The bridge of the South Eastern Railway at Charing Cross occupies the site of the old Hungerford Bridge.

Many novelists, philanthropists, and newspaper writers have dwelt largely upon the horrors of a series of subterranean chambers, extending beneath the Adelphi Terrace in the West Strand, and locally and popularly known as the "Adelphi Arches." To this day they are a forbidding, cavernous black hole, suggestive of nothing if not the horrors of thievery, or even murder. They are, however, so well guarded by three policemen on "fixed point" duty that at night there is probably no more safe locality in all London than the former unsavoury neighbourhood, a statement that is herein confidently made by the writer, as based on a daily and nightly acquaintance with the locality of some years.

Coupled in association with Dickens' reference to having played round about during his boyhood, while living in Lant Street, and working in Warren's Blacking Factory, only two blocks away in Villiers Street, is also the memory of David Copperfield's strange liking for these "dark arches." Originally these yawning crevices were constructed as a foundation for the "Adelphi Terrace," the home of the Savage Club, and of Garrick at one time, and now overlooking the "Embankment Gardens," though formerly overhanging the actual river-bank itself.

What wonder that these catacomb-like vaults should have been so ghostly reminiscent and suggestive of the terrors associated with the "Jack Shepards" and "Jonathan Wilds," whose successors lived in Dickens' day. One very great reality in connection with its unsavoury reputation is the tunnel-like opening leading Strandward. Through this exit was the back door of a notorious "Coffee and Gambling House," like enough the "little, dirty, tumble-down public house" hard by Hungerford Stairs, where the Micawbers located just before emigrating, and referred to by Dickens in "David Copperfield." Through this door persons of too confiding a disposition were lured by thieves and blacklegs, drugged, swindled, and thrown out bodily into the darksome tunnel to recover, if they returned to consciousness before discovered by the police, their dazed and befuddled wits as best they might.

"The Adelphi" itself is one of those lovable backwaters of a London artery, which has only just escaped spoliation at the hands of the improver. A few months since it was proposed to raze and level off the whole neighbourhood as a site for the municipal offices of the Corporation of the County Council, but wire-pulling, influence, or what not, turned the current in another direction, and to-day there is left in all its original and winsome glory the famous Adelphi, planned and built by the brothers Adam, as a sort of acropolis as a site for institutions of learning and culture.

In Dickens' time, though the "Embankment" was taking form, it lacked many of those adornments which to-day place it as one of the world's great thoroughfares. Immediately opposite on the fore-shore of the river is the Egyptian obelisk, one of the trio of which another is in the Place de la Concord at Paris, and the other in Central Park, New York. Here it was transferred to a new environment, and since the seventies this pictured monolith of a former civilization has stood amid its uncontemporary surroundings, battered more sorely by thirty years of London's wind and weather than by its ages of African sunshine.

"Billingsgate" was one of the earliest water-gates of London, the first on the site having been built in the year 400 B. C., and named after Belin, King of the Britons. The present "Billingsgate Market" is a structure completed in 1870. Since 1699 London's only entrepot for the edible finny tribe has been here, with certain rights vested in the ancient "Guild of Fishmongers," without cognizance of which it would not be possible to "obtain by purchase any fish for food."

A stage floats in the river off the market, beside which float all manner of craft, from the humble wherry to the ostentatious puffy little steamers who collect the cargoes of the North Sea fleet and rush them to market against all competitors. The market opens at five A. M., summer and winter. Moored to a buoy, a short distance from the shore, are always to be found one or more Dutch fishing-boats, certain inalienable rights permitting "no more than three" to be at any or all times tied up here. There is among the native watermen themselves a guarded jealousy and contempt for these "furriners," and should the cable once be slipped, no other Dutchman would ever again be allowed to pick it up. Hence it is that by traditionary rights one or more of these curious stub-nosed, broad-beamed craft, like the Dutch haus-vrow herself, are always to be seen.

The Londoner found amusement at Whitsun-tide in a visit to Greenwich Fair, then an expedition of far greater importance than in later years, the journey having to be made by road. The typical "fish dinner" of Greenwich, as it obtained in the middle of the last century, was an extraordinary affair, perhaps the most curious repast which ever existed in the minds of a culinary genius, or a swindling hotel-keeper,—for that is about what they amounted to in the latter days of this popular function now thankfully past.

Many and varied courses of fish, beginning with the famous "whitebait," the "little silver stars" of the poet's fancy, more or less skilfully prepared, were followed by such gastronomic unconventions as "Duck and Peas," "Beans and Bacon," and "Beef and Yorkshire," all arranged with due regard for inculcating an insatiable and expensive thirst, which was only allayed at the highest prices known to the bon vivant of a world-wide experience. For many years after Dickens' death in 1870, indeed, until quite recent years, with only occasional lapses, the "Ministers of the Crown" were wont to dine at Greenwich, as a fitting Gargantuan orgy to the labours of a brain-racking session.

As one who knows his London has said, you can get a much better fish dinner, as varied and much more attractive, in the neighbourhood of Billingsgate, for the modest sum of two shillings.

No mention of London riverside attractions can be made without enlarging somewhat upon the sordid and unsavoury (in more senses than one) Limehouse Hole and Limehouse Reach.

Redolent of much that is of the under world, these localities, with indeed those of all the waterside round about, have something of the fascination and glamour which surrounds a foreign clime itself. Here in "Brig Place," evidently an imaginary neighbourhood, Dickens placed the genial hook-armed Cuttle, and he must not only have studied these types upon the spot, but must have been enamoured of the salty sentiment which pervades the whole region from the notorious Ratcliffe Highway on the north, now known by the more respectable name of St. George's Street, made famous in the "Uncommercial Traveller," to the "Stairs" near Marshalsea on the south, where Dickens used to stroll of a morning before he was allowed to visit his father in the prison, and imagine those "astonishing fictions about the wharves and the Tower."

It was at Limehouse, too, that Dickens' godfather, Huffam, a rigger and sailmaker, lived, and with whom Dickens was so fond, when a boy, of making excursions roundabout the "Hole" and the "Reach" with their "foul and furtive boats."

Returning westward one finds, adjoining Somerset House, the famed Waterloo Bridge, great as to its utility and convenience, and splendid as to its appointments. "An exquisite combination of all that is most valuable in bridge architecture," wrote Knight in 1842; called also by Canova, whom of late it is become the custom to decry, the finest bridge in Europe, and worth coming from Rome to see. It is the masterwork of one John Rennie, a Scotch schoolmaster, and was completed in 1817, and named after the decisive event achieved by His Majesty's forces two years before. It has ever been the one short cut into South London from all the west central region, and is the continuation of the roadway across the Strand—Wellington Street—intimately associated with Dickens by the building which formerly contained the offices of Household Words and the London chambers of Dickens' later years.

Blackfriars Bridge follows immediately after the Temple Gardens, but, unlike Waterloo or the present London Bridge, is a work so altered and disfigured from what the architect originally intended, as to be but a slummy perversion of an inanimate thing, which ought really to be essentially beautiful and elegant as useful.

At this point was also the embouchement of the "Fleet," suggestive of irregular marriages and the Fleet Prison, wherein Mr. Pickwick "sat for his picture," and suffered other indignities.

As Dickens has said in the preface to "Pickwick," "legal reforms have pared the claws by which a former public had suffered." The laws of imprisonment for debt have been altered, and the Fleet Prison pulled down.

A little further on, up Ludgate Hill, though not really in the Thames district, is the "Old Bailey," leading to "Newgate," whereon was the attack of the Gordon Rioters so vividly described in Chapter LXIV. of "Barnaby Rudge." The doorway which was battered down at the time is now in the possession of a London collector, and various other relics are continually finding their way into the salesroom since the entire structure was razed in 1901.

Southwark Bridge, an ordinary enough structure of stone piers and iron arches, opened another thoroughfare to South London, between Blackfriars and the incongruous and ugly pillar known as the Monument, which marks the starting-point of the great fire of 1666, and is situated on the northerly end of the real and only "London Bridge" of the nursery rhyme.

As recorded, it actually did fall down, as the result of an unusually high tide in 1091. As the historian of London Bridge has said, "a magnificent bridge is a durable expression of an ideal in art, whether it be a simple arch across an humble brook, or a mighty structure across a noble river."

The history of London Bridge is a lengthy account of itself, and the period with which we have to deal carries but a tithe of the lore which surrounds it from its birth.

It was said by Dion Cassius that a bridge stood here in the reign of Claudius, but so far into antiquity is this (44 A. D.), that historians in general do not confirm it. What is commonly known as "Old London Bridge," with its houses, its shops, and its chapels, a good idea of which is obtained from the sixth plate of Hogarth's "Marriage a la Mode," was a wonderfully impressive thing in its day, and would be even now, did its like exist.

The structures which roofed the bridge over, as it were, were pulled down; and various reparations made from time to time preserved the old structure until, in 1824, was begun the present structure, from the designs of Rennie, who, however, died before the work was begun. It was opened by William IV. and Queen Adelaide in 1831, and occupies a site two hundred or more feet further up the river than the structure which it replaced, the remains of which were left standing until 1832. Thus it is likely enough that Dickens crossed and recrossed this famous storied bridge, many times and oft, when his family was living in Lant Street, in Southwark, while the father of the family was languishing in the iron-barred Marshalsea.

As Laurence Sterne has truly said, "Matter grows under one's hands. Let no man say, 'Come, I'll write a duodecimo.'" And so with such a swift-flowing itinerary as would follow the course of a river, it is difficult to get, within a reasonably small compass, any full resume of the bordering topography of the Thames. All is reminiscent, in one way or another, of any phase of London life in any era, and so having proceeded thus far on the voyage without foundering, one cannot but drop down with the tide, and so to open sea.

Below the metropolis of docks and moorings the river widens to meet the sea, so that any journey of observation must perforce be made upon its bosom rather than as a ramble along its banks.

Blackwall, with its iron-works; Woolwich, with its arsenal; and Greenwich, with its hospital and observatory, are all landmarks by which the traveller to London, by sea, takes his reckoning of terra firma.

The shipping of the Orient, the Baltic, the Continent, or the mere coaster, with that unique species of floating thing, the Thames barge, all combine in an apparently inextricable tangle which only opens out in the estuary below Gravesend, which, with its departed glory and general air of decay, is the real casting-off point of seagoing craft. Here the "mud-pilot," as the river pilot is locally known, is dropped, and the "channel pilot" takes charge, and here last leave-takings are said and last messages left behind.

Opposite Gravesend, from where Dickens first set sail for America, is Tilbury Fort, a reminder of the glories of England's arms in the days of Elizabeth. It may be said to be the real outpost of London. Here passing from the "Lower Hope" into "Sea Reach," we fairly enter upon the estuary of the Thames. Here the river has rapidly expanded into an arm of the sea, having widened from two hundred and ninety yards at London Bridge to perhaps four and a half miles at the "London Stone" by Yantlet Creek, where the jurisdiction of the Corporation of London ends.

To the north the Essex shore trends rapidly away toward Yarmouth; to the south straight to the eastern end of the English Channel, past the historic Medway, with Gad's Hill Place and Higham.

Beyond is Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Maidstone, Canterbury, and Broadstairs, and with the latter place one takes leave, as it were, of England, Dickens, and his personal and literary associations therewith.


London is not a single city, but rather a sequence or confederation of cities. In its multifarious districts there is not only a division of labour, but a classification of society—grade rising above grade, separate yet blended—"a mighty maze, but not without a plan." Says one of her most able and observing historians, "were we not accustomed to the admirable order that prevails, we should wonder how it was preserved." The regular supply of the various food markets alone is a truly wonderful operation, including all the necessaries and, what the Londoner himself supposes to be, all the luxuries of life. The method of distribution is truly astonishing, and only becomes less so to the liver in the midst of it all by reason of his varying degree of familiarity therewith. As to the means of sustenance, no less than livelihood, of a great mass of its population, that is equally a mystery. All among the lower classes are not Fagins nor yet Micawbers. How do the poor live who rise in the morning without a penny in their pockets? How do they manage to sell their labour before they can earn the means of appeasing hunger? What are the contrivances on which they hit to carry on their humble traffic? These and similar questions are those which the economist and the city fathers not only have been obliged to heed, but have got still greater concern awaiting them ahead. Poverty and its allied crime, not necessarily brutalized inherent criminal instinct, but crime nevertheless, are the questions which have got to be met broadly, boldly, and on the most liberal lines by those who are responsible for London's welfare.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the economists will tell one that England's commercial industries stagnated, but perhaps the prodigious leaps which it was taking in the new competitive forces of the new world made this theory into a condition.

In general, however, the tastes of the people were improving, and with the freedom of the newspaper press, and the spread of general literature, there came a desire for many elegancies and refinements hitherto disregarded.

The foundation of the British Museum in 1750, by the purchase of the library and collection of Sir Hans Sloane, and Montagu House, gave an early impetus to the movement, which was again furthered when, in 1801, George III. presented a collection of Egyptian antiquities, and in 1805 and 1806 were purchased the Townley and Elgin marbles respectively. The Museum continued to increase until, in 1823, when George IV. presented his father's library of sixty-five thousand volumes, Montagu House was found to be quite inadequate for its purpose, and the present building, designed by Sir Robert Smirke, and completed in 1827, was erected on its site. In making this gift, the king said, "for the purpose of advancing the literature of his country, and as a just tribute to the memory of a parent whose life was adorned with every public and private virtue."

The magnificent reading-room was not constructed until 1855-57, but it became a "felt want" from the time when George IV. made his valuable presentation to the Museum. The great "reading age" was then only in its infancy.

Early in 1830 George IV. fell ill, and on the 25th of June he died. During his regency, although he himself had little to do with the matter, his name was associated with many splendid triumphs, by the marvellous progress of intellect, and by remarkable improvements in the liberal arts. With fine abilities and charming manners, England might have been proud of such a king, but he squandered his talents for his own gratification; alienated himself from all right-minded men; lived a disgraceful life, and died the subject of almost universal contempt. His epitaph has been written thus: "He was a bad son, a bad husband, a bad father, a bad subject, a bad monarch, and a bad friend."

The memory of old London is in no way kept more lively than by the numerous City Companies or Guilds. Established with a good purpose, they rendered useful enough service in their day, but within the last half-century their power and influence has waned, until to-day but three, of the eighty or more, are actually considered as Trading Companies,—the Goldsmiths', the Apothecaries' and the Stationers'.

The first companies, or fraternities, of Anglo-Saxon times gradually evolved themselves into the positive forms in which they have endured till to-day. Just when this evolution came about is obscure. An extinct "Knighten Guild" was licensed by Edgar, a reminiscence of which is supposed to exist to-day in Nightingale Lane, where the Guild was known to have been located.

The oldest of the City Companies now existing is the Weavers' Company, having received its charter from Henry II. Though licensed, these trade organizations were not incorporated until the reign of Edward III., who generously enrolled himself as a member of the Merchant Tailors.

At this time it was ordained that all artificers should choose their trade, and, having chosen it, should practise no other; hence it was that these "Guilds" grew to such a position of wealth and influence, the ancient prototype, doubtless, of the modern "labour unions."

The twelve great City Companies, whose governors ride about in the lord mayor's procession of the 9th of November of each year, are, in order of precedence, ranked as follows: Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Skinners, Merchant Tailors, Haberdashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners, Cloth-workers.

Allied with these are eighty odd other companies divided into three classes:

I. Those exercising a control over their trades: Goldsmiths, Apothecaries.

II. Those exercising the right of search or marking of wares: the Stationers, at whose "hall" must be entered all books for copyright; the Gunmakers, who "prove" all London-made guns; Saddlers, Pewterers, and Plumbers.

III. Companies into which persons carrying on certain occupations are compelled to enter: Apothecaries, Brewers, Builders, etc.

The "halls," as they are called, are for the most part extensive quadrangular buildings with a courtyard in the centre.

The most pretentious, from an architectural point of view, are Goldsmiths' Hall in Foster Lane, and Ironmongers' Hall in Fenchurch Street.

Fishmongers' Hall, at the northwest angle of London Bridge, built in 1831, is a handsome structure after the Greek order, with a fine dining-room. The Merchant Tailors' Hall, in Threadneedle Street, has a wonderful banquet-room, with portraits of most of the Kings of England, since Henry VIII., adorning its walls.

Stationers' Hall will perhaps be of the greatest interest to readers of this book. All who have to do with letters have a certain regard for the mysticism which circles around the words, "Entered at Stationers' Hall."

The Stationers' Company was incorporated in 1557; it exercised a virtual monopoly of printing almanacs under a charter of James I. until 1775, when the judges of the Court of Common Pleas decided that their professed patent of monopoly was worthless, the Crown having no power to grant any such exclusive right. Doubtless many another archaic statute is of a like invalidity did but some protestful person choose to take issue therewith. The number of freemen of the company is about 1,100; that of the livery about 450. Printers were formerly obliged to be apprenticed to a member of the company, and all publications for copyright must be entered at their hall. The register of the works so entered for publication commenced from 1557, and is valuable for the light it throws on many points of literary history. The Copyright Act imposes on the company the additional duty of registering all assignments of copyrights. The charities of the company are numerous. In Dickens' time Almanac Day (November 22d) was a busy day at the hall, but the great interest in this species of astrological superstition has waned, and, generally speaking, this day, like all others, is of great quietude and repose in these noble halls, where bewhiskered functionaries amble slowly through the routine in which blue paper documents with bright orange coloured stamps form the only note of liveliness in the entire ensemble.

The Goldsmiths' Company assays all the gold and silver plate manufactured in the metropolis, and stamps it with the "hall-mark," which varies each year, so it is thus possible to tell exactly the year in which any piece of London plate was produced.

The out-of-door amusements of society were at this time, as now, made much of. The turf, cricket, and riding to hounds being those functions which took the Londoner far afield. Nearer at home were the charms of Richmond, with its river, and the Star and Garter, and the Great Regatta at Henley, distinctly an affair of the younger element.

Tea-gardens, once highly popular, had fallen into disrepute so far as "society" was concerned. Bagnigge Wells, Merlin's Cave, the London Spa, Marylebone Gardens, Cromwell's Gardens, Jenny's Whim, were all tea-gardens, with recesses, and avenues, and alcoves for love-making and tea-drinking, where an orchestra discoursed sweet music or an organ served as a substitute. An intelligent foreigner, who had published an account of his impressions of England, remarked: "The English take a great delight in the public gardens, near the metropolis, where they assemble and drink tea together in the open air. The number of these in the capital is amazing, and the order, regularity, neatness, and even elegance of them are truly admirable. They are, however, very rarely frequented by people of fashion; but the middle and lower ranks go there often, and seem much delighted with the music of an organ, which is usually played in an adjoining building."

Vauxhall, the Arabia Felix of the youth of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was still a fashionable resort, "a very pandemonium of society immorality," says a historian. This can well be believed if the many stories current concerning "prince, duke, and noble, and much mob besides," are accepted.

"Here the 'prentice from Aldgate may ogle a toast! Here his Worship must elbow the knight of the post! For the wicket is free to the great and the small;— Sing Tantarara—Vauxhall! Vauxhall!"

The first authentic notice of Vauxhall Gardens appears in the record of the Duchy of Cornwall in 1615, when for two hundred years, through the changes of successive ages, there was conducted a round of gaiety and abandon unlike any other Anglo-Saxon institution. Open, generally, only during the summer months, the entertainment varied from vocal and instrumental music to acrobats, "burlettas," "promenades," and other attractions of a more intellectual nature, and, it is to be feared, likewise of a lesser as well.

The exhibition usually wound up with a display of fireworks, set off at midnight. From 1830 to 1850 the gardens were at the very height of their later festivity, but during the next decade they finally sank into insignificance, and at last flickered out in favour of the more staid and sad amusements of the later Victorian period.

As for the indoor pleasures of society at this time, there were the theatre, the opera, and the concert-room. Dining at a popular restaurant or a gigantic hotel had not been thought of. There were, to be sure, the "assembly-rooms" and the "supper-rooms," but there were many more establishments which catered to the pleasures of the masculine mind and taste than provided a fare of food and amusement which was acceptable to the feminine palate.

Of the men's clubs, Brookes' and White's had long been established, and, though of the proprietary order, were sufficiently attractive and exclusive to have become very popular and highly successful. The other class were those establishments which fulfil the true spirit and province of a club,—where an association of gentlemen join together in the expense of furnishing accommodation of refreshment and reading and lounging rooms. This was the basis on which the most ambitious clubs were founded; what they have degenerated into, in some instances, would defy even a rash man to attempt to diagnose, though many are still run on the conservative lines which do not open their doors to strangers, even on introduction, as with the famous Athenaeum Club.

Other clubs, whose names were already familiar in the London of Dickens' day, were the Carleton, Conservative, Reform, University, and perhaps a score of others.

As is well known, Dickens was an inordinate lover of the drama, a patron of the theatre himself, and an amateur actor of no mean capabilities. As early as 1837 he had written an operetta, "The Village Coquettes," which he had dedicated to Harley. It was performed, for the first time, on December 6, 1836, at the St. James' Theatre. A London collector possesses the original "hand-bill," announcing a performance of "Used Up" and "Mr. Nightingale's Diary," at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, in 1852, in which Dickens, Sir John Tenniel, and Mark Lemon took part; also a playbill of the performance of "The Frozen Deep," at the "Gallery of Illustration," on Regent Street, on July 4, 1857, "by Charles Dickens and his amateur company before Queen Victoria and the Royal Family."

The painting (1846) by C. R. Leslie, R. A., of Dickens as Captain Boabdil, in Ben Jonson's play of "Every Man in His Humour," is familiar to all Dickens lovers.

The theatres of London, during the later years of Dickens' life, may be divided into two classes: those which were under "royal patronage," and those more or less independent theatres which, if ever visited by royalty, were favoured with more or less unexpected and infrequent visits.

Of the first class, where the aristocracy, and the royal family as well, were pretty sure to be found at all important performances, the most notable were "Her Majesty's," "The Royal Italian Opera House," "The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane." Of the latter class, the most famous—and who shall not say the most deservedly so—were the "Haymarket Theatre," "The Adelphi," "The Lyceum," and the "St. James' Theatre."

"Her Majesty's Theatre," on the western side of the Haymarket, was the original of the two Italian opera-houses in London; it was built in 1790, on the site of an older theatre, burnt down in 1867, and rebuilt in 1869. The freehold of some of the boxes was sold for as much as L8,000 each. The opera season was generally from March to August; but the main attractions and the largest audiences were found from May to July. The "Royal Italian Opera House" occupied the site of the former Covent Garden Theatre, as it does to-day, and was built in 1858 on the ruins of one destroyed by fire. The building is very remarkable, both within and without. Italian opera was produced here with a completeness scarcely paralleled in Europe. When not required for Italian operas, the building was often occupied by an "English Opera Company," or occasionally for miscellaneous concerts. The "Floral Hall" adjoins this theatre on the Covent Garden side. "Drury Lane Theatre," the fourth on the same site, was built in 1812; its glories live in the past, for the legitimate drama now alternates there with entertainments of a more spectacular and melodramatic character, and the Christmas pantomimes, that purely indigenous English institution. The "Haymarket Theatre," exactly opposite "Her Majesty's," was built in 1821; under Mr. Buckstone's management, comedy and farce were chiefly performed. The "Adelphi Theatre," in the Strand, near Southampton Street, was rebuilt in 1858, when it had for a quarter of a century been celebrated for melodramas, and for the attractiveness of its comic actors. The "Lyceum Theatre," or "English Opera House," at the corner of Wellington Street, Strand, was built in 1834 as an English opera-house, but its fortunes were fluctuating, and the performances not of a definite kind. This was the house latterly taken over by Sir Henry Irving. The "Princess' Theatre," on the north side of Oxford Street, was built in 1830; after a few years of opera and miscellaneous dramas, it became the scene of Mr. Charles Kean's Shakespearian revivals, and now resembles most of the other theatres. "St. James' Theatre," in King Street, St. James', was built for Braham, the celebrated singer. "The Olympic" was a small house in Wych Street, Drury Lane, now destroyed. "The Strand Theatre" was famous for its burlesque extravaganzas, a form of theatrical amusement which of late has become exceedingly popular. The "New Globe Theatre" (destroyed so late as 1902) and "The Gaiety" (at the stage entrance of which are the old offices of Good Words, so frequently made use of by Dickens in the later years of his life), and "The Vaudeville," were given over to musical comedy and farce. "The Adelphi," though newly constructed at that time, was then, as now, the home of melodrama.

Others still recognized as popular and prosperous houses were "The Court Theatre," Sloane Square; "The Royalty," in Soho; "The Queen's," in Longacre; "The Prince of Wales'," in Tottenham Street, formerly the Tottenham Theatre. Robertson's comedies of "Caste," "Our Boys," etc., were favourite pieces there. "Sadler's Wells," "Marylebone Theatre," "The Brittania," at Hoxton, "The Standard," in Shoreditch, and "The Pavilion," in Whitechapel, were all notable for size and popularity, albeit those latterly mentioned were of a cheaper class.

South of the river were "Astley's," an old amphitheatre, "The Surrey Theatre," and "The Victoria."

At this time (1870) it was estimated that four thousand persons were employed in London theatres, supporting twelve thousand persons. The public expenditure thereon was estimated at L350,000 annually.

Of "concert rooms," there were "Exeter Hall," "St. James' Hall," "Hanover Square Rooms," "Floral Hall," connected with the Covent Garden Opera, "Willis' Rooms," and the "Queen's Concert Rooms," connected with "Her Majesty's Theatre."

Here were given the performances of such organizations as "The Sacred Harmonic Society," "The Philharmonic Society," "The Musical Union," and the "Glee and Madrigal Societies," "The Beethoven Society," and others.

"Entertainments," an indefinite and mysterious word, something akin to the olla podrida of sunny Spain, abounded.

Usually they were a sort of musical or sketch entertainment, thoroughly innocuous, and, while attaining a certain amount of popularity and presumably success to their projectors, were of a nature only amusing to the completely ennuied or juvenile temperament. Readings by various persons, more or less celebrated, not forgetting the name of Dickens, attracted, properly enough, huge crowds, who were willing to pay high prices to hear a popular author interpret his works. A species of lion-taming, which, if not exactly exciting, is harmless and withal edifying. The last two varieties of entertainment usually took place in the "Egyptian Hall," in Piccadilly, "St. James' Hall," or "The Gallery of Illustration" in Regent Street.

Of miscellaneous amusements, appealing rather more to the middle class than the actual society element,—if one really knows what species of human being actually makes up that vague body,—were such attractions as were offered by "Madame Tussaud's Waxwork Exhibition," which suggests at once to the lover of Dickens Mrs. Jarley's similar establishment, and such industrial exhibitions as took place from time to time, the most important of the period of which this book treats being, of course, the first great International Exhibition, held in Hyde Park in 1851.

Further down the social scale the amusements were a variation only of degree, not of kind.

The lower classes had their coffee-shops and, supposedly, in some degree the gin-palaces, which however, mostly existed in the picturesque vocabulary of the "smug" reformer.

The tavern, the chop-house, and the dining-room were variants only of the "assembly-rooms," the "clubs," and the grand establishments of the upper circles, and in a way performed the same function,—provided entertainment for mankind.

As for amusements pure and simple, there was the "music-hall," which, quoting a mid-Victorian writer, was a place where held forth a "species of musical performance, a singular compound of poor foreign music, but indifferently executed, and interspersed with comic songs of a most extravagant kind, to which is added or interpolated what the performers please to term 'nigger' dances, athletic and rope-dancing feats, the whole accompanied by much drinking and smoking." Which will pass as a good enough description to apply to certain establishments of this class to-day, but which, in reality, loses considerable of its force by reason of its slurring resentment of what was in a way an invasion of a foreign custom which might be expected, sooner or later, to crowd out the conventional and sad amusements which in the main held forth, and which in a measure has since taken place. The only bearing that the matter has to the subject of this book is that some large numbers of the great public which, between sunset and its sleeping hours, must perforce be amused in some way, is to-day, as in days gone by, none too particular as to what means are taken to accomplish it.

There is a definite species of depravity which is supposed to be peculiarly the attribute of the lower classes. If it exists at all to-day, it probably does lie with the lower classes, but contemporary opinion points to the fact that it was not alone in those days the lower classes who sought enjoyment from the cockpit, the dog fight, the prize ring, or the more ancient bull-baiting, all of which existed to some degree in the early nineteenth century. Truly the influence of the Georges on society, of whatever class, must have been cruelly debasing, and it was not to be expected that the early years of Victoria's reign should have been able to eradicate it thoroughly, and though such desires may never be entirely abolished, they are, in the main, not publicly recognized or openly permitted to-day, a fact which is greatly to the credit of the improved taste of the age in which we live.

Formerly it was said that there was but one class of hotels in and near London of which the charges could be stated with any degree of precision. The old hotels, both at the West End and in the City, kept no printed tariff, and were not accustomed even to be asked beforehand as to their charges. Most of the visitors were more or less recommended by guests who had already sojourned at these establishments, and who could give information as to what they had paid. Some of the hotels declined even to receive guests except by previous written application, or by direct introduction, and would rather be without those who would regard the bill with economical scrutiny.

Of these old-fashioned hotels,—barbarous relics of another day,—few are to be found now, and, though existing in reality, are being fast robbed of their clientiele, which demand something more in the way of conveniences—with no diminution of comforts—than it were possible to get in the two or three private houses thrown into one, and dubbed by the smugly respectable title of "Private Hotel."

Other establishments did exist, it is true, in Dickens' time: "The Golden Cross" and "Morley's," "Haxell's," and others of such class, from which coaches still ran to near-by towns, and which houses catered principally for the country visitor or the avowed commercially inclined. But aside from these, and the exclusive and presumably extravagant class of smaller houses, represented by such names as "Claridge's," "Fenton's," "Limner's," et als., there was no other accommodation except the "taverns" of masculine propensities of Fleet Street and the City generally.

The great joint stock hotels, such as "The Metropole," "The Savoy," and "The Cecil," did not come into being until well toward the end of Dickens' life, if we except the excellent and convenient railway hotels, such as made their appearance a few years earlier, as "Euston," "King's Cross," and "Victoria." The first of the really great modern caravanserais are best represented by those now somewhat out-of-date establishments, the "Westminster Palace," "Inns of Court," "Alexandra," and others of the same ilk, while such as the magnificently appointed group of hotels to be found in the West Strand, Northumberland Avenue, or in Pall Mall were unthought of.

The prevailing customs of an era, with respect to clubs, taverns, coffee-houses, etc., mark signally the spirit of the age. The taverns of London, properly so called, were, in the earliest days of their prime, distinguished, each, for its particular class of visitors. The wits and poets met at "Will's" in Covent Garden, and the politicians at "St. James' Coffee-House," from which Steele often dated his Tatler. Later, in the forties, there were perhaps five hundred houses of entertainment, as distinguished from the ordinary "public house," or the more ambitious hotel.

The "dining-rooms," "a la mode beef shops," and "chop-houses" abounded in the "City," and with unvarying monotony served four, six, or ninepenny "plates" with astonishing rapidity, quite rivalling in a way the modern "quick lunch." The waiter was usually servile, and in such places as the "Cheshire Cheese," "Simpson's," and "Thomas'," was and is still active. He was a species of humanity chiefly distinguished for a cryptogrammatic system of reckoning your account, and the possessor of as choice a crop of beneath-the-chin whiskers as ever graced a Galway or a County Antrim squireen.

The London City waiter, as distinguished from his brethren of the West End, who are most Teutonic, is a unique character. Here is Leigh Hunt's picture of one:

"He has no feeling of noise; even a loaf with him is hardly a loaf; it is so many 'breads.' His longest speech is making out a bill viva voce,—'Two beefs, one potato, three ales, two wines, six and two pence.'"

A unique institution existed during the first quarter of the last century. Some of Dickens' characters, if not Dickens himself, must have known something of the sort. Charles Knight tells of more than one establishment in the vicinity of the "Royal Exchange," where a sort of public gridiron was kept always at hand, for broiling a chop or steak which had been bought by the customer himself at a neighbouring butcher's. For this service, the small sum of a penny was charged, the profit to the house probably arising from the sale of potable refreshments.

The houses which were famous for "fine old cheese," "baked potatoes," "mutton or pork pies," "sheep's trotters," or "pig's faces," were mostly found, or, at least, were at their best, in the "City," though they formed an humble and non-fastidious method of purveying to the demands of hunger, in that the establishments catered, more particularly, to the economically inclined, or even the poorer element of city workers.

The rise from these City eating-houses to the more ambitiously expensive caterers of the "West End" was gradual. Prices and the appointments increased as one journeyed westward through Fleet Street, the Strand, to Piccadilly and Regent Street.

Another institution peculiar to London, in its plan and scope at least, was the "coffee-house" of 1840, evolved from those of an earlier generation, but performing, in a way, similar functions.

At this time a "House of Commons Committee of Inquiry into the Operation of Import Duties"—as was its stupendous title—elicited some remarkable facts concerning the fast increasing number of "coffee-houses," which had grown from ten or twelve to eighteen hundred in twenty-five years. One Pamphilon, who appears to have been the most successful, catering to five hundred or more persons per day, gave evidence to the effect that his house was frequented mostly by "lawyers, clerks, and commercial men, some of them managing clerks, many solicitors, and highly respectable gentlemen, who take coffee in the middle of the day in preference to a more stimulating drink ... at the present moment, besides a great number of newspapers every day, I am compelled to take in an increasing number of high-class periodicals.... I find there is an increasing demand for a better class of reading."

And thus we see, at that day, even as before and since, a very intimate relation between good living and good reading. The practical person, the wary pedant, and the supercritical will scoff at this, but let it stand.

The "cigar divans" and "chess rooms" were modifications, in a way, of the "coffee-house," though serving mainly evening refreshment, coffee and a "fine Havana" being ample for the needs of him who would ponder three or four hours over a game of chess.

Of the stilly night, there was another class of peripatetic caterers, the "sandwich man," the "baked 'tato man," the old women who served "hot coffee" to coachmen, and the more ambitious "coffee-stall," which must have been the progenitor of the "Owl Lunch" wagons of the United States.

The baked potato man was of Victorian growth, and speedily became a recognized and popular functionary of his kind. His apparatus was not cumbrous, and was gaudy with brightly polished copper, and a headlight that flared like that of a modern locomotive. He sprang into being somewhere in the neighbourhood of St. George's Fields, near "Guy's," Lant Street, and Marshalsea of Dickenesque renown, and soon spread his operations to every part of London.

The food supply of London and such social and economic problems as arise out of it are usually ignored by the mere guide-book, and, like enough, it will be assumed by many to have little to do with the purport of a volume such as the present. As a matter of fact, in one way or another, it has a great deal to do with the life of the day, using the word in its broadest sense.

England, as is well recognized by all, is wholly subservient to the conditions of trade, so far as edible commodities are concerned, throughout the world. Its beef, its corn, and its flour mainly come from America. Its teas, coffees, and spices mostly from other foreign nations, until latterly, when India and Ceylon have come to the fore with regard to the first named of these. Its mutton from New Zealand or Australia, and even potatoes from France, butter and eggs from Denmark and Brittany, until one is inclined to wonder what species of food product is really indigenous to Britain. At any rate, London is a vast caravanserai which has daily to be fed and clothed with supplies brought from the outer world.

In spite of the world-wide fame of the great markets of "Covent Garden," "Smithfield," and "Billingsgate," London is wofully deficient in those intermediaries between the wholesaler and the consumer, the public market, as it exists in most Continental cities and in America.

An article in the Quarterly Review, in Dickens' day,—and it may be inferred things have only changed to a degree since that time,—illustrated, in a whimsical way, the vastness of the supply system. The following is described as the supply of meat, poultry, bread, and beer, for one year: 72 miles of oxen, 10 abreast; 120 miles of sheep, do.; 7 miles of calves, do.; 9 miles of pigs, do.; 50 acres of poultry, close together; 20 miles of hares and rabbits, 100 abreast; a pyramid of loaves of bread, 600 feet square, and thrice the height of St. Paul's; 1,000 columns of hogsheads of beer, each 1 mile high. In mere bulk this perhaps does not convey the impression of large figures, but it is certainly very expressive to imagine, for instance, that one has to eat his way through 72 miles of oxen.

The water used in the metropolis was chiefly supplied by the Thames, and by an artificial channel called the New River, which entered on the north side of the metropolis. The water is naturally good and soft. The spots at which it is raised from the Thames used to be within the bounds of the metropolis, at no great distance from the mouths of common sewers; but it is now obtained from parts of the river much higher up, and undergoes a very extensive filtration, with which eight companies are concerned. The returns of the registrar-general showed that the average daily supply of water for all purposes to the London population, during August, 1870, was 127,649,728 gallons, of which it is estimated the supply for domestic purposes amounted to about 90,000,000 gallons. The total number of houses fed was 512,540. The metropolis draws its coal supplies principally from the neighbourhood of Newcastle, but largely also from certain inland counties, the import from the latter being by railway. Newcastle coal is preferred. It arrives in vessels devoted exclusively to the trade; and so many and so excessive are the duties and profits affecting the article, that a ton of coal, which can be purchased at Newcastle for 6s. or 7s., costs, to a consumer in London, from 28s. to 33s. The quantity of coal brought to London annually much exceeds 6,000,000 tons, of which considerably more than 2,000,000 come by railway.

As for the markets themselves, "Billingsgate," the great depot for the distribution of fish, is described in that section devoted to the Thames.

"Smithfield," is the great wholesale cattle market, while "Leadenhall" Market, in the very heart of the business world of London, is headquarters for poultry.

A detailed description of "Covent Garden Market," which deals with vegetables, fruits, and flowers only, must here suffice.

Covent Garden Market occupies a site which is exceedingly central to the metropolis. It was once the garden to the abbey and convent of Westminster: hence the name Convent or Covent. At the suppression of the religious houses in Henry VIII.'s reign, it devolved to the Crown. Edward VI. gave it to the Duke of Somerset; on his attainder it was granted to the Earl of Bedford, and in the Russell family it has since remained. From a design of Inigo Jones, who built the banqueting-room at Whitehall, the York Water Gate, and other architectural glories of London, it was intended to have surrounded it with a colonnade; but the north and a part of the east sides only were completed. The fruit and vegetable markets were rebuilt in 1829-30. The west side is occupied by the parish church of St. Paul's, noticeable for its massive roof and portico. Butler, author of "Hudibras," lies in its graveyard, without a stone to mark the spot. In 1721, however, a cenotaph was erected in his honour in Westminster Abbey. The election of members to serve in Parliament for the city of Westminster was formerly held in front of this church, the hustings for receiving the votes being temporary buildings. The south side is occupied by a row of brick dwellings. Within this square thus enclosed the finest fruit and vegetables from home and foreign growers are exposed for sale, cabbages and carrots from Essex and Surrey, tomatoes and asparagus from France and Spain, oranges from Seville and Jaffa, pines from Singapore, and bananas from the West Indies, not forgetting the humble but necessary potato from Jersey, Guernsey, or Brittany. A large paved space surrounding the interior square is occupied by the market-gardeners, who, as early as four or five in the morning, have carted the produce of their grounds, and wait to dispose of it to dealers in fruit and vegetables residing in different parts of London; any remainder is sold to persons who have standings in the market. Within this paved space rows of shops are conveniently arranged for the display of the choicest fruits of the season: the productions of the forcing-house, and the results of horticultural skill, appear in all their beauty. There are also conservatories, in which every beauty of the flower-garden may be obtained, from the rare exotic to the simplest native flower. The Floral Hall, close to Covent Garden Opera House, has an entrance from the northeast corner of the market, to which it is a sort of appendage, and to the theatre. Balls, concerts, etc., are occasionally given here. The Farringdon, Borough, Portman, Spitalfields, and other vegetable markets, are small imitations of that at Covent Garden.

The greater part of the corn, meaning, in this case, wheat, as well as maize, as Indian corn is known throughout Great Britain, used for bread and other purposes in the metropolis, is sold by corn-factors at the Corn Exchange, Mark Lane; but the corn itself is not taken to that place. Enormous quantities of flour are also brought in, having been ground at mills in the country and in foreign parts.

The beer and ale consumed in the metropolis is, of course, vast in quantity, beyond comprehension to the layman. If one could obtain admission to one of the long-standing establishments of Messrs. Barclay & Perkins or Truman & Hanbury, whose names are more than familiar to all who travel London streets, he would there see vessels and operations astonishing for their magnitude—bins that are filled with 2,000 quarters of malt every week; brewing-rooms nearly as large as Westminster Hall; fermenting vessels holding 1,500 barrels each; a beer-tank large enough to float an up-river steamer; vats containing 100,000 gallons each; and 60,000 casks.


The American is keenly alive to all the natural and added beauties of English life, and even more so of London. He does not like to have his ideals dispelled, or to find that some shrine at which he would worship has disappeared for ever, like some "solemn vision and bright silver dream," as becomes a minstrel. For him are the traditions and associations, the sights and sounds, which, as he justly says, have no meaning or no existence for the "fashionable lounger" and the "casual passenger." "The Barbican does not to every one summon the austere memory of Milton; nor Holborn raise the melancholy shade of Chatterton; nor Tower Hill arouse the gloomy ghost of Otway; nor Hampstead lure forth the sunny figure of Steele and the passionate face of Keats; nor old Northumberland Street suggest the burly presence of 'rare Ben Jonson;' nor opulent Kensington revive the stately head of Addison; nor a certain window in Wellington Street reveal in fancy's picture the rugged lineaments and splendid eyes of Dickens." But to the true pilgrim London speaks like the diapason of a great organ. "He stands amid achievements that are finished, careers that are consummated, great deeds that are done, great memories that are immortal; he views and comprehends the sum of all that is possible to human thought, passion, and labour, and then—high over mighty London, above the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, piercing the clouds, greeting the sun, drawing unto itself all the tremendous life of the great city and all the meaning of its past and present—the golden cross of Christ."

The regular old-fashioned coaches of London were from the first to third quarters of the nineteenth century supplanted by the ark-like omnibus, which even till to-day rumbles roughly through London streets. Most of the places within twenty miles of the metropolis, on every side, were thus supplied with the new means of transportation. The first omnibus was started by Mr. Shillibeer, from Paddington to the Bank, July 4, 1829. From this time to 28th June, 1870,—the number of such vehicles licensed in the Metropolitan District was 1,218. Every omnibus and hackney-carriage within the Metropolitan District and the City of London, and the liberties thereof, has to take out a yearly license, in full force for one year, unless revoked or suspended; and all such licenses are to be granted by the Commissioners of Police, whose officers are constantly inspecting these public vehicles. Generally speaking, each omnibus travels over the same route, and exactly the same number of times, day after day, with the exception of some few of the omnibuses which go longer journeys than the rest, and run not quite so often in winter as in summer. Hence the former class of omnibus comes to be associated with a particular route. It is known to the passengers by its colour, the name of its owner, the name given to the omnibus itself, or the places to and from which it runs, according to circumstances. The greater portion are now the property of the London General Omnibus Company. The designations given to the omnibuses are generally given on the front in large letters.

At least so it is written in the guide-book. As a matter of fact, the stranger will be fortunate if he can figure out their destination from the mass of hoardings announcing the respective virtues of Venus Soap and Nestles' Milk. To the Londoner this is probably obvious, in which case the virtues of this specific form of advertising might be expected to be considerably curtailed.

One who was curious of inspecting contrasting elements might have done worse than to take an outside "garden seat" on a Stratford and Bow omnibus, at Oxford Circus, and riding—for sixpence all the way—via Regent Street, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, Strand, Fleet Street, St. Paul's, past the Mansion House and the Bank, Royal Exchange, Cornhill, Leadenhall Street, Aldgate, Whitechapel Road, Mile End, to Stratford.

The convenient, if ungraceful, cab had completely superseded the old pair-horse hackney-coaches in London in general use previous to 1850. According to the returns of the day, there were 6,793 of the modern single-horse hackney-coaches in the metropolis altogether, of two different kinds, "four-wheelers" and "hansoms," which took their name from the patentee. The "four-wheelers" are the more numerous; they have two seats and two doors; they carry four persons, and are entirely enclosed. The "hansoms" have seating capacity for but two, and, though convenient and handy beyond any other wheeled thing until the coming of the automobile, the gondola of London was undeniably dangerous to the occupant, and ugly withal, two strongly mitigating features.

Of the great event of Dickens' day, which took place in London, none was greater or more characteristic of the devotion of the British people to the memory of a popular hero than the grand military funeral of the Right Honourable Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (November, 1852). Certainly no military pageant of former times—save, possibly, the second funeral of Napoleon—was so immeasurably of, and for, the people. By this time most of the truly great of England's roll of fame had succumbed, died, and were buried with more or less ostentation or sincere display of emotion, but it remained for Wellington—a popular hero of fifty years' standing—to outrival all others in the love of the people for him and his works. He died at Walmer Castle on the Kent coast.

His body lay there in state, at Chelsea Hospital and in St. Paul's Cathedral, before it was finally laid to rest in the marble sarcophagus which is seen to-day in the same edifice. With Nelson, nay, more than Nelson, he shares the fervid admiration of the Briton for a great warrior.

Disraeli's eulogium in the House of Commons appears to have been the one false note of sincerity in all the paean that went forth, and even this might perhaps have survived an explanation had Beaconsfield chosen to make one. Certainly racial opposition to this great statesman had a great deal to do with the cheap denunciation which was heaped upon his head because he had made use of the words of another eulogist, a Frenchman, upon the death of one of his own countrymen; "a second-rate French marshal," the press had called him, one Marshal de St. Cyr. It was unfortunate that such a forceful expression as this was given second-hand: "A great general must not only think, but think with the rapidity of lightning, to be able to fulfil the highest duty of a minister of state, and to descend, if need be, to the humble office of a commissary and a clerk; must be able, too, to think with equal vigour, depth, and clearness, in the cabinet or amidst the noise of bullets. This is the loftiest exercise and most complete triumph of human faculties."

All this, and much more, is absolutely authenticated as having been uttered by M. Thiers twenty years before the occasion referred to. It is perhaps true that the great Wellington deserved better than this second-hand eulogy, and perhaps right that there should have been resentment, but further comment thereon must be omitted here, save that the incident is recorded as one of those events of an age which may well be included when treating of their contemporary happenings.

No account of the London of any past era could ignore mention of those great civic events, occurring on the 9th November in each year, and locally known as "Lord Mayor's Day," being the occasion on which that functionary enters into his term of office. As a pageant, it is to-day somewhat out of date, and withal, tawdry, but as a memory of much splendour in the past, it is supposedly continued as one of those institutions which the Briton is wont to expect through tradition and custom. Perhaps the following glowing account of one of these gorgeous ceremonies, when the water pageant was still in vogue, written by an unknown journalist, or "pressman," as he is rather enigmatically called in London, in 1843, will serve to best describe the annually recurring event of pride and glory to your real Cockney.


"'Oh! such a day So renown'd and victorious, Sure such a day was never seen— City so gay, And Cits so uproarious, As tho' such sight had never been!

"'All hail! November— Though no hail to-day (At least that we remember), Hath pav'd the way His Civic Majesty hath will'd to go, And swore he'd go it 'spite hail, rain, or snow!

He takes to water for an airing, Before perhaps he dines with Baring Or sees the waiter, so alert, Place the fav'rite Patties-on The table near him—knave expert To make the most of "what is on!" By this we mean, what's most in season, To say no more we have a reason!'


"Since the first mayoralty procession, in the year 1215, probably there have been few finer pageants than that of Thursday last, when the November sun even gilded with his beams the somewhat tarnished splendour of the City state.

"According to annual custom, the new lord mayor (Alderman Magnay) was sworn into his office of Chief Magistrate of the City of London, at the Guildhall.

"Being a member of the Stationers' Company, the master, wardens, and court of assistants of that company proceeded to Mansion House, where they were met by the new lord mayor and his sheriffs. After a sumptuous dejeuner a la fourchette, the whole of the civic dignitaries proceeded to the Guildhall.

"The next day the various officials assembled at the Guildhall, and, the procession being formed, proceeded thence through King Street, Cateaton Street, Moorgate Street, London Wall, Broad Street, Threadneedle Street, Mansion House Street, Poultry, Cheapside, and Queen Street, to Southwark Bridge, where his lordship embarked at the Floating Pier for Westminster. This somewhat unusual arrangement arose from the new lord mayor being the alderman of Vintry Ward, wherein the bridge is situated, and his lordship being desirous that his constituents should witness the progress of the civic procession. The embarkation was a picturesque affair; the lord mayor's state barge, the watermen in their characteristic costume, and the lord mayor and his party were, in civic phrase, 'taking water.'

"The novelty of the point of embarkation drew clustering crowds upon the bridge and the adjoining river banks. There were the usual waterside rejoicings, as the firing of guns, streaming flags, and hearty cheers; and the water procession had all the festal gaiety with which we have been wont to associate it in the past. The scene was very animating, the river being thickly covered with boats of various descriptions, as well as with no less than seven state barges, filled inside and outside with the livery belonging to the City Companies, and all anxiously awaiting the word of command to proceed onward to Westminster. The sun shone resplendently upon the flags and banners studding the tops of the barges, and the wharfs near the spot all exhibited similar emblems. As the new lord mayor entered the City barge, and was recognized, the air was rent with the most deafening shouts of applause, which his lordship gracefully acknowledged by repeatedly bowing to the assembled thousands. The aquatic procession now left the pier, the City barge being accompanied by the Stationers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Wax Chandlers, and Ironmongers' Companies, in their respective state barges.

"On arrival at Westminster, the lord mayor and civic authorities having landed, they walked in procession to the Court of Exchequer, where a large number of ladies and gentlemen awaited their arrival. Having been introduced to the chief baron by the recorder, who briefly stated the qualifications of Alderman Magnay for his important office of chief magistrate, and the learned baron having eloquently replied, the new lord mayor invited his lordship to the inauguration dinner, and afterward proceeded to the other courts, inviting the judge of each court to the same.

"His lordship and the various officials then reembarked in the state barge for Blackfriars Bridge, where the procession was re-formed and joined by the ambassadors, her Majesty's ministers, the nobility, judges, members of Parliament, and various other persons of distinction. The whole then moved through Ludgate Hill, St. Paul's Churchyard, Cheapside, and down King Street to the Guildhall, where the inaugural entertainment was to be given.

"The plate given herein shows the return of the procession, just as the gorgeous state coach is about to wend its way up Ludgate Hill. The coach is, doubtless, the most imposing feature of the modern show, and has thus played its part for nearly fourscore years and ten. It is a piece of cumbrous magnificence, better assorting with the leisurely progress of other days than the notions of these progressive times. Yet it is a sight which may have inspired many a City apprentice, and spurred him onward to become an 'honourable of the land;' it is, moreover, the very type of this 'red-letter day' in the City; and, costly as it is, with its disappearance, even portly aldermen will vanish into thin air.

"The foremost group shows the lord mayor seated in the coach, attended by his chaplain, and the sword and mace-bearers, the former carrying—which has to be held outside the coach, be it observed; its stature is too great for it to find shelter inside—the pearl sword presented to the City by Queen Elizabeth, upon opening the Royal Exchange; the latter supporting the great gold mace given by Charles I. The coach is attended by the lord mayor's beadles in their gold-laced cloaks, and carrying small maces.

"Onward are seen the other leading features of the procession; the crowd is truly dense, for at this point is the great crush of the day; 'the Hill' is thronged, and the City police require all their good temper to 'keep the line.' The scene is exciting, and the good-humoured crowd presents many grotesque points for those who delight in studies of character. Altogether, the scene is as joyous, if rather gaudy, picture of a civic holiday as the times could present."

Perhaps the greatest topographical change in the London of Dickens' day was the opening, on November 6, 1869, of the Holborn Viaduct. This improvement was nothing short of the actual demolition and reconstruction of a whole district, formerly either squalid, over-blocked, and dilapidated in some parts, or oversteep and dangerous to traffic in others. But a short time before that same Holborn Valley was one of the most heartbreaking impediments to horse traffic in London, with a gradient on one side of one in eighteen, while opposite it was one in twenty. Thus everything on wheels, and every foot-passenger entering the City by the Holborn route, had to descend twenty-six feet to the Valley of the Fleet, and then ascend a like number to Newgate. The new Viaduct levelled all this, and made the journey far easier than that by Ludgate Hill.

The greatest architectural work which took shape in London during Dickens' day was the construction of the new Houses of Parliament.

Associated intimately with Dickens' first steps to success were the old buildings, which were burned in 1834. Here he received his first regular journalistic employment, as reporter for the True Sun, an event which soon led to the acceptance of his writings elsewhere. Some discussion has recently been rife in London concerning the name of the paper with which Dickens had his first Parliamentary employment.

According to Forster, Dickens was in his twenty-third year when he became a reporter on the Morning Chronicle. At this time the Chronicle was edited by John Black, who had conducted it ever since Perry's death, and the office of the paper from June, 1834, until it died in 1862, was 332 Strand, opposite Somerset House, a building pulled down under the Strand improvement scheme. It had then been for nearly forty years—ever since the Chronicle vacated it, in fact—the office of another newspaper, the Weekly Times and Echo. It may be worth while to add that Dickens first entered "The Gallery" at the age of nineteen, as reporter for the True Sun, and that he afterward reported during two sessions for the Mirror of Parliament before he joined the staff of the Morning Chronicle.

The new Houses of Parliament form one of the grandest administrative piles of any city in the world, built though, it is feared, of a stone too soon likely to decay, and with a minuteness of Gothic ornament which is perhaps somewhat out of keeping with a structure otherwise so massive.

The House of Peers is 97 feet long, 45 wide, and 45 high. It is so profusely painted and gilt, and the windows are so darkened by deep-tinted stained glass, that it is with difficulty that the details can be observed. At the southern end is the gorgeously gilt and canopied throne; near the centre is the woolsack, on which the lord chancellor sits; at the end and sides are galleries for peeresses, reporters, and strangers; and on the floor of the house are the cushioned benches for the peers. Two frescoes by David Maclise—"The Spirit of Justice" and "The Spirit of Chivalry"—are over the strangers' gallery, as well as a half-dozen others by famous hands elsewhere. In niches between the windows and at the ends are eighteen statues of barons who signed Magna Charta. The House of Commons, 62 feet long, 45 broad, and 45 high, is much less elaborate than the House of Peers. The Speaker's chair is at the north end, and there are galleries along the sides and ends. In a gallery behind the Speaker, the reporters for the newspapers sit. Over which is the ladies' gallery, where the view is ungallantly obstructed by a grating. The present ceiling is many feet below the original one, the room having been to this extent spoiled because the former proportions were bad for hearing.

On the side nearest to Westminster are St. Stephen's Porch, St. Stephen's Corridor, the Chancellor's Corridor, the Victoria Tower, the Royal Staircase, and numerous courts and corridors. At the south end, nearest Millbank, are the Guard Room, the Queen's Robing-Room, the Royal Gallery, the Royal Court, and the Prince's Chamber. The river front is mostly occupied by libraries and committee-rooms. The northern or Bridge Street end displays the Clock Tower and the Speaker's Residence. In the interior of the structure are vast numbers of lobbies, corridors, halls, and courts. The Victoria Tower, at the southwest angle of the entire structure, is a wonderfully fine and massive tower; it is 75 feet square and 340 feet high. The clock tower, at the north end, is 40 feet square and 320 feet high, profusely gilt near the top. After two attempts made to supply this tower with a bell of fourteen tons weight, and after both failed, one of the so-called "Big Bens," the weight of which is about eight tons (the official name being "St. Stephen"), now tells the hour in deep tones. There are, likewise, eight smaller bells to chime the quarters. The clock is by far the largest and finest in England. There are four dials on the four faces of the tower, each 22-1/2 feet in diameter; the hour figures are 2 feet high and 6 feet apart; the minute marks are 14 inches apart; the hands weigh more than 2 cwt. the pair; the minute hand is 16 feet long, and the hour hand 9 feet; the pendulum is 15 feet long and weighs 680 lbs. The central tower rises to a height of 300 feet.

Its rooms and staircases are almost inconceivably numerous. The river front is nine hundred feet in length, with an elaborately decorated facade with carven statues and emblems. By 1860 the cost had exceeded by a considerable sum L2,000,000.

The growth of the British Museum and its ever increasing store of knowledge is treated elsewhere, but it is worth recording here, as one of the significant events of contemporary times, the opening of the present structure with its remarkable domed reading-room.

This great national establishment contains a vast and constantly increasing collection of books, maps, drawings, prints, sculptures, antiquities, and natural curiosities. It occupies a most extensive suite of buildings in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, commenced in 1823, and only finished during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It has cost a sum little less than L1,000,000. Sir Richard Smirke was the architect. The principal, or south front, 370 feet long, presents a range of forty-four columns, with a majestic central portico, with a sculptured pediment. Since its commencement, in 1755, the collection has been prodigiously increased by gifts, bequests, and purchases; and now it is, perhaps, the largest of the kind in the world. The library contains more than eight hundred thousand volumes, and is increasing enormously in extent every year. The magnificent reading-room is open only to persons who proceed thither for study, or for consulting authorities. It was opened in 1857, and built at a cost of L150,000, and is one of the finest and most novel apartments in the world; it is circular, 140 feet in diameter, and open to a dome-roof 106 feet high, supported entirely without pillars. This beautiful room, and the fire-proof galleries for books which surround it, were planned by Mr. Panizzi, an Italian and a former keeper of the printed books.

In connection with the library proper is an equally vast collection of antiquities, etc., of which all guide-books and those publications issued by the Museum authorities tell.

The building was complete by 1865, and for the last forty years has stood proudly in its commanding situation, the admiration of all who have come in contact therewith.

What Hampstead Heath is to the coster, the Crystal Palace is to the middle-class Londoner, who repairs there, or did in Dickens' time, on every possible auspicious occasion. This structure itself, though it can hardly be called beautiful by the most charitably disposed, is in many respects one of the most remarkable in the world, and owes its existence to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. The materials of that building, being sold to a new company toward the close of that year, were transferred to an elevated spot near Sydenham, seven miles from town, to the south. The intention was to found a palace and park for the exhibition of art and science on a paying basis. The original estimate was L500,000, but the expenditure was nearly L1,500,000, too great to assure a probable profitable return.

The palace and grounds were opened in 1854, the towers and fountains some time after.

The building itself is 1,600 feet long and 380 wide, and at the transept is nearly 200 feet in height. Exhibition-rooms, reading-rooms, restaurants, and a vast orchestral auditorium were included under one roof, with bazaars and small shops and stalls innumerable.

The parks and garden were laid out to cover some two hundred acres, with terraces and fountains galore, the idea being to produce somewhat the effect as at Versailles, with Les Grande and Petite Eaux, on "grand days" the fountains consuming over 6,000,000 gallons. Cricket, football, and sports of various kinds used to draw vast throngs to "the Palace," and the firework displays at night were, and are to-day, justly celebrated. In short, this "Cockney Arcadia," if rather a tawdry attraction, has had the benefit of much honest admiration of the Londoner, who perforce could not get farther afield for his holiday, and its like can hardly be said to exist elsewhere in Europe or America. Hence it must perforce rank in a way as something unique in present-day outdoor entertainment, as near as is left to us of those of the days of Ranelegh and Vauxhall. Beloved of the clerk and shopkeeper, and altogether an attraction which few of their class appear to be able to resist for long at a time.

London is no more the dread of the visitor who feared the ways that are dark and the tricks that are vain.

London tricks are old as London's history, and from the days of Chaucer the countryman's fear of London's vastness and the cheats practised by her nimble-witted rogues have passed into literature. In the year 1450 John Lydgate sang the sorrows of a simple Kentish wight, who found that, go where he would in London, he could not speed without money:

"To London once, my stepps I bent, Where trouth in no wyse shoulf be faynt; To Westmynster ward I forthwith went, To a man of law to make complaynt. I sayd, 'for Mary's love, that holy saynt! Pity the poor that would proceede;' But for lack of mony I cold not spede."

After going among the lawyers of King's Bench, the Flemings of Westminster Hall with their hats and spectacles, the cloth men and drapers of Cheapside, and the butchers of Eastcheap, poor Lackpenny found that nowhere, without money, could he be sped in London. His final adventure and reflections were these:

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