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OUT OF LONDON.'
of details, while straitening your general idea; the map, on the other hand, sinks the particular in the general. The best plan, therefore, should be to correct one by the other: retire to your map when the multiplicity of streets and houses overpowers you, reverting to them so soon as your faculties have been braced and concentrated by the map. But be your faculties what they may, I repeat that London will be too much for them; and it will be well if you recognize this truth before it is too late.
WHOEVER wishes to get an adequate idea of the Babylon of modern times should spread open on the table a small, roughly-printed railwaymap of England, and contemplate attentively that huge black blot, low down on the right-hand corner; the nucleus whereunto all the crooked worldly ways of man seem to converge, and in which they end. I have been careful to specify railway-maps, because those published by the ordnance survey, though they pretend to be accurate, never succeed in making that blot anything like big or black enough. As for photographs and descriptions, they are good for nothing. Nothing sets the fact of London's murky immensity so bluntly and memorably before the imagination as does a railway-map. You see England in faint outline-a little, insignificant island, swallowed up in the vast sable continent of London. London is the only place on the face of the earth whose name can be supposed known to the man in the moon; and it is the mark whereby the astronomers of other planets first established the fact that this one is inhabited. Even the sun has heard about London, and would like to make its acquaintance; but it has so happened that hardly once during the last two thousand years has he been able to get a clear view of it. And yet the cockneys, true to their well-known snobbish proclivities, always speak of him as of an acquaintance whom they daily expect to meet.
BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE.
Next to studying the map, perhaps the best means of arriving at a conception of London would be to live there. But there are objections to this course. No man-unless he were in a balloon, on a remarkably clear day—ever saw so much as a twentieth part of London at a single view; and ordinary observers not the thousandth part of a twentieth. Moreover, the very magnitude of the task of comprehension, when you are fairly face to face with it, incapacitates you for its accomplishment. You may gaze and strain, but nobody can digest London; whereas London may easily digest you, and, unless you mount guard upon yourself pretty carefully, will one day make away with your individuality. A residence in London will improve your knowledge
1 Copyright by Julian Hawthorne. JULY, 1876.
The city lies low, as if-after such an unconscionable number of lazy centuries that portion of the crust of the earth on which she rests had begun to give way a little. Doubtless London is a compacter world, and, when the present universe has dissolved, will remain to form the starting-point of a new one. Or, otherwise, she might roll herself up in a ball, and start off on a distinct orbit of her own. She certainly possesses stone and dirt enough, and vastly more than sufficient human material, to begin life as an independent planet of no mean pretensions. She is ready provided, too, with her own peculiar atmosphere, which, though a good deal more earthy and tangible than the breathing-stuff heretofore esteemed desirable, may be admirably adapted to the truth-seeking lungs of the materialistic philosophers who would cast in their lot with her. In short, so lively is my confidence in London's ability to maintain herself, that I could sometimes almost wish she would bid us farewell to-night, and launch forth on her voyage into infinite space without loss of another day. Fortunately or not, however, London is fast moored to each and every town and city in the world by cables of gold and iron, which can be neither broken nor cast off; and, wherever she goes, must we go with her.
And, on the whole, I am inclined to consider her detention fortunate. She could get on without us, very likely; but could we prosper, without her? Deprived of London, we should be anomalous, flavorless, ordinary, and no better than any other world. London is dirty, ugly, vile of climate, gross of character; but she is the seal set by time upon this globe, and, were she removed, all our pith and meaning would ooze out of us. We love her very much as we love humanity, because essentially she is rather below than above our ideal, while nevertheless she reflects pretty nearly all the solid elements that make us what we are. She is universal-the world's city, not England's or any other country's.
The world has made her, and she exists because she must, not because we choose she shall. She is like bread, homely and commonplace, and yet there is nothing like her, and she does not pall on the palate, as do Paris and other highly-seasoned cates of cities. If it were desirable to multiply similes, none of which are quite true, though owning some truthful traits, I might compare her to ballast, which keeps the vessel upright so long as the vessel floats, but would pull her under the water if a certain divine buoyancy did not react against it. The buoyancy is not, of course, more essential than the ballast to the general welfare and prosperity. But enough of this unsubstantial persiflage about a subject so far from trifling or laughable. In order to get out of London, we must pass through her.
A SENSE of the whole of London's immensity is somehow impressed upon each one of its component fractions; we are not deceived by the widest superficial variations in the aspect or condition of streets and houses in or around the great metropolis; this is a part of it, we say, being mystically conscious of a subtile, informing spirit, which is unmistakably London's. In the same way do we assert of a great writer, such as Shakespeare, for instance, that any passage taken from his works is immediately recognizable as his and not another's; and, though we may not find it easy to explain why this is so, we are confident, nevertheless, that so it is. The London stamp and style are no less ingrained than the Shakespearean; and the traveler who should be set down by enchantment anywhere within the city limits would be able at the first glance to affirm: "I am not in Liverpool, or Glasgow, or Birmingham, or Manchester, but in London; though which way St. Paul's lies, or how far off it is, I know not." For even the cabmen do not know their way about London; and to ordinary visitors it is a Dædalian labyrinth outside of the four or five principal thoroughfares.
Human beings are less susceptible than brick and mortar of local stamps and styles, and London contains representatives of all nations; yet I think a good observer, as he walks along the streets, would be able to distinguish between the native Londoner and the transient visitor; or, to put it more defensibly, he might pick out the strangers. It would be too much to say that any inhabitant of London could be recognized as such (barring the cockney accent) otherwhere than on his native pavements. But, meeting him there, you feel that he belongs there. His gait and bearing show it, and something indefinable in the expression of his face. Perhaps it is only that particular look that people wear when they are at home; but a man who feels at home in London must feel more intensely and immeasurably at home than even a New-Yorker on Manhattan Island, or an Arab in the desert. The Londoner has a cool, skeptical, bold eye, which can fix you with a stony stare, or twinkle humorously, as occasion may demand. The rest of his physiognomy denotes stur
diness, self-possession, and energy. Not the ambitious, restless, nervous energy of Broadway and Wall Street, but a more deliberate and steadier kind. An American calls the English slow and stupid when he first comes into contact with them. But the English are not stupid in the long-run; they are cautious, obstinate, and wearisomely rational.
However, I am to avoid generalities, for the present at any rate: yet what is London itself but generalities? It is a satisfaction to be there for this reason if for no other-that you feel you are got to a legitimate stopping-place on the earth, whereof it may be said: There is nothing else of the kind so good; sit down, therefore, and enjoy it. To look upon a great unique thing, one of the seven wonders of the world, should be enough to give a man quiet sleep o' nights. And so, perhaps, it would, were the best that is also the best conceivable. But so soon as we have fairly digested the fact of London's peerlessness-there is no help for it but we must begin reviling. This the greatest city?-yes, in mere brute extent of streets; but in other respects how is it not insignificant? There is no great thing in it. St. Paul's might take lodgings beneath the dome of St. Peter's. What is the National Gallery to a world which sees the Vatican, the Pitti, the Uffizzi, and the Louvre ? Westminster Abbey is dwarfed by the Houses of Parliament, which are themselves mechanical, soulless, and disappointing. The British Museum covers many acres and departments, and is surrounded with a fine gilded railing; but Agassiz, in Cambridge, began a museum of natural history alone which will be nearly as large as the whole of this colossus of Russell Square, and is arranged on a truer system. The Crystal Palace is a failure; it should extend from Sydenham to London Bridge, and contain all countries and climates from the equator to the pole. The Mansion House is shabby and commonplace; the Bank of England is but a vast strong box. Some of the West-End clubs are good, or used to be so ; but no London cabman can drive you to the best hotel you ever put up at. There is not a theatre in the city fit to hold a footlight to "Booth's" or the Boston "Globe;" nor an actor or actress worthy to appear outside the "Bowery." The Thames and Albert Embankments are of no use, and they look wretchedly uncomfortable eleven months out of the year. London Bridge was broken down two hundred years ago, and has grown up again houseless and unpicturesque. The Tower is huddled away where nobody can find it; the Tunnel-! Trafalgar Square is wickedly inadequate. What has Nelson done to be mast-headed in that fashion? was he not more a man than Cheops, whose coffin could not be squeezed into the square endwise? The Zoological Gardens are a yard for children to play in, with a few birds and beasts thrown in; they ought to cover Regent's Park, at least, and give every created animal such lodgings as should make it fancy itself safe back at home. What are the streets, even? Are Pall Mall and Piccadilly equal to the boulevards of Paris? Oxford Street, with all its continuations, is not so long as Broadway, nor so