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whom one sees at a Sunday of the Zoo to perhaps special advantage. Our Sunday was in the season, and the season had conjecturably qualified it, so that one could sometimes feel oneself in company better than one's own. The children were well-dressed and admirably well-behaved; they justly outnumbered their elders, and it was obviously their day. But it was also the day of their elders, who had made excuse of the children's pleasure in coming to the Zoo for their own. Some indeed were not so much their elders, and the young aunts and uncles, who were naturally cousins, lost themselves at times a little way from the children and maids, in the quieter walks or nooks, or took boat to be alone on the tranquil waters with one another. They were then more interesting than the strangest Malays and Hindoos, and I wonder what these made of them, as they contemplated their segregation with the other thronging spectators.
We had not pledged ourselves not to go to the Zoo; we were there quite voluntarily; but among the places which we promised ourselves not to visit again were the South Kensington Museum and the National Gallery; and I shall always be glad that we did not keep faith with ourselves in regard to the last. We went to it again not once, but several times, and always with an increasing sense of its transcendent representativity. It is not merely that for all the schools of painting it is almost as good as going to the continental countries where they flourished, and is much easier. It is not only that for English history, as it lives in the portraiture of kings and queens, and their courtiers and courtesans and heroes and statesmen, it is the past made personal to the beholder and forever related to himself, as if he had seen those people in the flesh. It is,
above everything else, for those rooms upon rooms crowded with the pictures and statues and busts of the Englishmen who have made England England in every field of achievement that is oppressively, almost crushingly wonderful. Before that swarming population of poets, novelists, historians, essayists, dramatists; of painters, sculptors, architects; of astronomers, mathematicians, geologists, physicians; of philosophers, theologians, divines; of statesmen, politicians, inventors, actors; of philanthropists, reformers, economists, the great of our own history need not, indeed, shrink in form, but must dwindle in number till our past seems as thinly peopled as our continent. It is in these rooms that the grandeur of England, historically, resides. You may, if you are so envious, consider it in that point and this, and at some point find her less great than the greatest of her overgrown or overgrowing daughters, but from the presence of that tremendous collectivity, that populous commonwealth of famous citizens whose census can hardly be taken, you must come away and own, in the welcome obscurity to which you plunge among the millions of her capital, that in all-round greatness we have hardly even the imagination of her transcendence.
Well towards fifty years had passed between my first and last visits to London, but I think I had kept for it throughout that long interval much more of the earlier sentiment than for any other city that I have known. I do not wish to be mystical, and I hesitate to say that this sentiment was continuous through the smell of the coal-smoke, or that the smoke formed a solution in which all associations were held, and from which they were, from time to time, precipitated in specific memories. The peculiar odor had at once made me at home in London, for it had probably so saturated my first
consciousness in the little black, smoky town on the Ohio River, where I was born, that I found myself in a most intimate element when I now inhaled it. But apart from this personal magic, the London smoke has always seemed to me full of charm. Of course it is mostly the smoke which gives "atmosphere," softens outlines, tenderly blurs forms, makes near and far the same, and intenerisce il cuore, for any him whose infant sense it bathed. No doubt it thickens the constant damp, and lends mass and viscosity to the fog; but it is over-blamed and under-praised. It is chiefly objection、able, it is wholly deplorable, indeed, when it descends in those sooty particles, the blacks; but in all my London sojourns I have had but one experience of the blacks, and I will not condemn the smoke because of them. It gives a wild pathetic glamour to the late winter sunrises and the early winter sunsets, the beauty of which dwells still in my mind from my first London sojourn. In my most recent autumn, it mellowed the noons to the softest effulgence; in the summer it was a veil in the air which kept the flame of the heated term from doing its worst. It hung, diaphonous, in the dusty perspectives, but it gathered and thickened about the squares and places, and subdued all edges, so that nothing cut or hurt the vision.
I was glad of that, because I found one of my greatest pleasures in looking at the massed tree-forms in those gardened - groves, which I never penetrated. The greater parks are open to the public, but the squares are enclosed by tall iron fences, and locked against the general with keys of which the particular have the keeping in the houses about them. It gave one a fine shiver of exclusion as populace, or mob, to look through their barriers at children playing on the lawns within, while
their nurses sat reading, or pushed perambulators over the trim walks. Sometimes it was even young ladies who sat reading, or, at the worst, governesses. But commonly the squares were empty, though the grass so invited the foot, and the benches in the border of the shade, or round the great beds of bloom, extended their arms and spread their welcoming laps for any of the particular who would lounge in them.
I remember only one of these neighborhood gardens which was open to the public, and that was in the poor neighborhood which we lodged on the edge of, equally with the edge of Belgravia. It was opened, by the great nobleman who owned nearly the whole of that part of London, on all but certain days of the week, with restrictions lettered on a board nearly as big as the garden itself; but I never saw it much frequented, perhaps because I usually happened upon it when it was locked against its beneficiaries. Upon the whole, these London squares, though they flattered the eye, did not console the spirit so much as the far uglier places in New York, or the pretty places in Paris, which are free to all. It can be said for the English way that when such places are free to all they are not so free to some, and that is true. In this world you have to exclude either the many or the few, and in England it is rather the many who are excluded. Being one of those shut out, I did not like the English way so well as ours, but if I had had keys to those locks, I should not now dare ask myself which principle I should have preferred. It would have been something like choosing between popular government and family government after having been created one of the governing families.
Life, I felt, would be sensibly dignified if one could spend some months of every year of it in a mansion
looking down into the leafy tops of those squares. One's mansion might not always have the company of the most historical or patrician mansions; sometimes these are to be found in very unexpected and even inconspicuous places; but commonly the associated dwellings would be ample, if not noble. They would rarely be elbowed by those structures, not yet quite so frequent in London as in New York, which lift themselves in an outer grandeur unsupported by the successive levels of the social pretence within. I should say that with the English, more than with us, the perpendicular is still socially superior to the horizontal domestication. Yet the London flats are of more comfortable and tasteful arrangement than ours. They are better lighted always, never having (as far as I know) dark rooms blindly staring into airless pits; and if they are not so well heated, that is because the English do not wish, or at least expect, to be heated at all. The elevator is not so universal as with us, but the stairways are easier and statelier. The public presence of the edifice is statelier, too; but if you come to state, the grandest of these buildings must deny its denizens the splendor of flunkeys standing before its door, on a day or night of social function, as one sees them standing by the steps or portals of some mansion that houses a single family. To which of the flat-dwellers would they be supposed to belong, if they grouped themselves at the common entrance? For anything specific in their attendance they might almost as well be at the next street-corner.
Time and again, in these pages, I have paid my duty, which has been my grateful pleasure, to the birds which haunt the squares, and sing there. You are not obliged to have a householder's key in order to hear them; and when the hawthorns and the horse-chestnuts blossomed