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Paris more equally than the Thames does London; the other side of the Thames is only an extensive suburb, whereas the other side of the Seine is half Paris. The people of London, I find, are quite as disposed to answer obligingly the questions of strangers as those of Paris. Whenever I have made inquiries, either in shops, or even from porters, carters, and market-women in the streets, I have uniformly received a civil answer, and every infor mation in their power. People do not pull off their hats when thus addressing any body, as would be indispensable at Paris ; a slight inclination of the head, or motion of the hand, is thought sufficient. Foot-passengers walk on with ease and security along the smooth flag-stones of the side pavement. Their eyes, mine at least, are irresistibly attracted by the allurements of the shops, particularly print-shops ; not that they always exhibit those specimens of the art so justly admired all over Europe, but oftener caricatures of all sorts. My countrymen, whenever introduced in them, never fail to be represented as diminutive, starved beings, of monkey-mien, strutting about in huge hats, narrow coats, and great sabres ; an overgrown awkward Englishman crushes half a dozen of these pygmies at one squeeze. There are no painters among the lions,--at least they are not here. It must be owned, however, that the English do not spare themselves; their princes, their statesmén, and churchmen, are thus exhibited and hung up
to ridicule, often with cleverness and humour, and a coarse sort of practical wit. Some shops exhibit instruments of mathematics, of optics, of chemistry, beautifully arranged; the admirable polish, and learned simplicity of the instruments, suggest the idea of justness and of perfection,
recalling to your
know of their uses, and inspiring a wish to know more. Jewellers' shops, glittering with costly trinkets, give me another sort of pleasure that of feeling no sort of desire for any thing they contain. Finally, pastrycook shops, which, about the middle of the day, and of the long interval between breakfast and dinner, are full of decent persons of both sexes, mostly men, taking a slight repast of tarts, buns, &c. with a glass of whey; it costs 6d. or 8d. sterling. A young and pretty woman generally presides behind the counter, as in the coffee-houses of Paris.
The inhabitants of London, such as they are seen in the streets, have, as well as the outside of their houses, a sort of a dingy, smoky look; not dirty absolutely,—for you generally perceive clean linen, but the outside garments are of a dull, dark cast, and harmonize with mud and smoke. Prepossessed with a high opinion of English corpulency, I expected to see every where the original of Jacques Roast-beef. No such thing; the human race is here rather of mean stature, less so, perhaps, than the true Parisian race ; but there is really no great difference ; and I have met more than once with Sterne's little man, when, in turning round to help a child across the gutter, he saw with surprise a visage of fifty, where he expected to see one of five. The size of London draughthorses makes up for that of men ; those which draw brewers' carts and coal-waggons are gigantic -perfect elephants! On the other hand, I have observed dwarf horses passing swiftly along the streets, mounted by boys, who appeared employed in carrying letters or messages. “No armed watch, guet, or marechaussée, is cver met patroling the
LONDON-THE PARKS-KENSINGTON GARDENS.
streets, or the highways; noappearance of police, and yet no apparent want of police; nothing disorderly.
The western part of the town is terminated by three great contiguous public walks. St. James's Park, which belongs to the palace of that name, is planted in straight walks, which surround a meadow and piece of water, and have all the monotony and dulness of the old-fashioned avenues without their magnificence, the trees being low, and of a stunted growth. The Green Park is somewhat better. Hyde Park quite different, and three times as large as the other two together. It is an inclosure of above 400 acres, slightly uneven, having here and there groups of old trees, some of them of very large size and venerable appearance, but too thinly scattered, and leaving great spaces entirely naked. New plantations are making, but they unite ill with the old trees, and ought not to approach so near them. The water of a rivulet dammed up has been made to fill a little valley, forming a piece of water of good shape, and clear, called the Serpentine River; of which several projecting points of land and bays disguise the boundaries. The best trees of the park, mostly elms, grow near the Serpentine River. Kensington Gardens are connected with Hyde Park ; carriages are not admitted ; the circumference is about the same, that is, nearly three miles. An excess of trees is as conspicuous here, as the want of them in Hyde Park. The season is unfavourable, but the present impression of Kensington Gardens is that of a formal sort of wilderness.*
* I have since seen these gardens at more propitious season ; their lofty avenues carpeted with green, are highly picturesque, as well as magnificent: from the size and beauty of the trees, notwithstanding the regularity of their order. I know of no public gardens at Paris or elsewhere, comparable in beauty to Kensington Gardens. I have heard the three parks and gardens together called the lungs of London
The weather is called here very cold (20° oř 22° of the thermometer of Fahrenheit); the Serpentine River is covered with skaiters, some of them first rate ones. Ladies crowd round to contemplate the human form divine.-strength, grace, and manly beauty. There is certainly much to admire in this respect in the class of gentlemen in England, which is not only handsomer, but stronger than the labouring class both of town and country. It appears to me that it was the reverse in France, and that gentlemen in general were rather inferior in bodily faculties to countrymen and town-labourers. This difference may be ascribed to the practice of athletic amusements being much more general in England, much more a part of education; and to the circumstance of the young men being introduced later to the society of women in England than in France. That society, when of the modest sort, induces sedentary habits,—and when otherwise, has still worse consequences. A taste for the country may also serve to account for this fact ; a taste at least for those amusements which are only found in the country, sporting, fishing, and horses. The fashionable part of the town is deserted one half of the year, and this half not at all the pleasantest one; but that of the shortest days, the darkest sky, and the coldest weather,--that is to say, all winter, till March; spending all the spring, which is said to be very beautiful in England, but is not the season of field sports, amidst the dust and smoke of London. Such is the kind of attraction which is here found in the country
Westminster Abbey is seen to advantage from the parks, its Gothic towers rising above the summit of the trees. The Palace of St. James, situated at the entrance of the park of that name, is a paltry
LONDON-ST. JAMES'S PALACE-INFLUENZA.
looking building, of the meanest possible appearance, and half-consumed by fire; it is impossible to conceive any thing worse of the palace kind. We are apt to lend form and colour to those objects of which we have always heard, but have never seen; and I own I had built in my mind a very different sort of palace for the court of St. James's so rich and so proud. This royal residence was erected by Henry VIII.
February 17.-We have been a whole month in London, and for the last three weeks I have set down nothing in this journal. is not as might be supposed, from having been too much taken up, or too little. A French traveller once remarked sagaciously, that there is a malady peculiar to the climate of England, called the catch-cold ; this malady, under the modern title of influenza, hag recently afflicted all London, and we have been attacked by it. A friend of F, who had come to London on purpose to receive us, has been obliged to fly precipitately; others dare not come. The letters we brought have not procured us many useful or agreeable acquaintances, some of them have not been noticed at all, and although we have to acknowledge the attentions of some persons, their number is very small, and we feel alone in the crowd. London is a giant-strangers can only reach his feet. Shut
up in our apartments, well warmed and well lighted, and where we seem to want nothing but a little of that immense society in the midst of which we are suspended, but not mixed, we have full leisure to observe its outward aspect and general movements, and listen to the roar of its waves, breaking around us in measured time, like the tides of the ocean.