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passive and resided largely in his drab spats, but hers I beheld active, positive, as she passed me by with the tall cane that helped her steps, herself tall in proportion, with a head, ashen gray, held high, and a straight wellfitted figure dressed in such keeping that there was nothing for the eye to dwell on in her various black. She looked not only authoritative; people often do that with us; she looked authorized; she had been empowered by the vested rights and interests to look so her whole life; one could not be mistaken in her, any more than in the black trees and their electric-green buds in the high-fenced square, or in the vast, high, heavy, handsome houses where, in the cellary or sepulchral cold, she would presently resume the rheumatic pangs of which the comparative warmth of the outer air had momentarily relieved her stately bulk.
But what is this? While I am noting the terrors of the English clime, they have all turned themselves into allures and delights. There have come three or four days, since I arrived in London, of so fine and mellow a warmth, of skies so tenderly blue, and so heaped with such soft masses of white clouds, that one wonders what there was ever to complain of. In the parks and in the gardened spaces which so abound, the leaves have grown perceptibly, and the grass thickened so that you can smell it, if you cannot hear it, growing. The birds insist, and in the air is that miraculous lift, as if nature, having had this banquet of the year long simmering, had suddenly taken the lid off, to let you perceive with every gladdening sense what a feast you were going to have presently in the way of summer. From the delectable vision rises a subtile haze, which veils the day just a little from its own loveliness, and lies upon the sighing and expectant city like the substance of a dream made
visible. It has the magic to transmute you to this substance yourself, so that while you dawdle afoot, or whisk by in your hansom, or rumble earthquakingly aloft on your omnibus-top, you are aware of being a part, very dim, very subtile, of the passer's blissful consciousness. It is flattering, but you feel like warning him not to go in-doors, or he will lose you and all the rest of it; for having tried it yourself you know that it is still winter within the house walls, and will not be April there till well into June.
CIVIC AND SOCIAL COMPARISONS, MOSTLY ODIOUS
T might be, somewhat overhardily, advanced that there is no such thing as positive fact, but only relative fact. The mind, in an instinctive perception of this hazardous truth, clings to contrast as the only basis of inference, and in now taking my tenth or twentieth look at London I have been careful to keep about me a pocket vision of New York, so as to see what London is like by making constantly sure what it is not like. A pocket vision, say, of Paris, would not serve the same purpose. That is a city of a legal loveliness, of a beauty obedient to a just municipal control, of a grandeur studied and authorized in proportion and relation to the design of a magnificent entirety; it is a capital nobly realized on lines nobly imagined. But New York and London may always be intelligibly compared because they are both the effect of an indefinite succession of anarchistic impulses, sometimes correcting and sometimes promoting, or at best sometimes annulling one another. Each has been mainly built at the pleasure of the private person, with the community now and then swooping down upon him, and turning him out of house and home to the common advantage. Nothing but our racial illogicality has saved us from the effect of our racial anarchy in the social structure as well as the material structure, but if we could see London and.
New York as lawless in the one way as in the other, we should perhaps see how ugly they collectively are.
The sum of such involuntary reflection with me has been the perception that London was and is and shall be, and New York is and shall be, but has hardly yet been. New York is therefore one-third less morally, as she is one-third less numerically, than London. In her future she has no past, but only a present to retrieve; though perhaps a present like hers is enough. She is also one less architecturally than London; she is twothirds as splendid, as grand, as impressive. In fact, if I more closely examine my pocket vision, I am afraid that I must hedge from this modest claim, for we have as yet nothing to compare with at least a half of London magnificence, whatever we may have in the seventeen or eighteen hundred years that shall bring us of her actual age. As we go fast in all things, we may then surpass her; but this is not certain, for in her more deliberate way she goes fast, too. In the mean time the materials of comparison, as they lie dispersed in the pocket vision, seem few. The sky-scrapers, Brooklyn Bridge, Madison Square Garden, and some vast rocketing hotels offer themselves rather shrinkingly for the contrast with those miles of imperial and municipal architecture which in London make you forget the leagues of mean little houses, and remember the palaces, the law-courts, the great private mansions, the dignified and shapely flats, the large department stores, the immense hotels, the bridges, the monuments of every kind.
One reason, I think, why London is so much more striking is in the unbroken line which the irregularly divided streets often present to the passer. Here is a chance for architecture to extend, while with us it has only a chance to tower, on the short up-town block
which is the extreme dimension of our proudest edifice, public or private. Another reason is in the London atmosphere, which deepens and heightens all the effects, while the lunar bareness of our perspectives mercilessly reveals the facts. After you leave the last cliff behind on lower Broadway the only incident of the long, straight avenue which distracts you from the varied commonplace of the commercial structures on either hand is the loveliness of Grace Church; but in the Strand and Fleet Street you have a succession of edifices which overwhelm you with the sense of a life in which trade is only one of the incidents. If the day is such as a lover of the picturesque would choose, or may rather often have without choosing, when the scene is rolled in vaporous smoke, and a lurid gloom hovers from the hidden sky, you have an effect of majesty and grandeur that no other city can offer. As the shadow momently thickens or thins in the absence or the presence of the yellowishgreen light, the massive structures are shown or hid, and the meaner houses render the rifts between more impressively chasmal. The tremendous volume of life that flows through the narrow and winding channels past the dim cliffs and pinnacles, and the lower banks which the lesser buildings form, is such that the highest tide of Broadway or Fifth Avenue seems a scanty ebb beside it. The swelling and towering omnibuses, the huge trucks and wagons and carriages, the impetuous hansoms and the more sobered four-wheelers, the ponycarts, donkey - carts, handcarts, and bicycles which fearlessly find their way amid the turmoil, with footpassengers winding in and out, and covering the sidewalks with their multitude, give the effect of a single monstrous organism, which writhes swiftly along the channel where it had run in the figure of a flood till