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as if the vast human endeavor for pleasure and success had exhaled its despair upon it. Whatever there was of disappointment in one's past, of apprehension in one's future, came to the surface of the spirit, and asserted its unity with the collective melancholy. It was not exactly a Weltschmerz; that is as out-dated as the romantic movement; but it was a sort of scientific relinquishment, which was by no means scornful of others, or too appreciative of one's own unrecognized worth. Through the senses it related itself to the noises of the quiescing city, to the smell of its tormented dust, to the whiff of a casual cigar, or the odor of the herbage and foliage in the park or square that one was passing; one may not be more definite about what was perhaps nothing at all. But I fancy that relinquishment of any sort would be easier in London than in cities of simpler interest or smaller population. For my own part I was content to deny many knowledges that I would have liked to believe myself possessed of, and to go about clothed in my ignorance as in a garment, or defended by it as by armor. There was a sort of luxury in passing through streets memorable for a thousand things and as dense with associations as Long Island with mosquitoes when the winds are low, and in reflecting that I need not be ashamed for neglecting in part what no man could know in whole. I really suppose that upon any other terms the life of the cultivated American would be hardly safe from his own violence in London. If one did not shut one's self out from the complex appeal to one's higher self one could hardly go to one's tailor or one's hatter or one's shoemaker, on those missions which, it is a national superstition with us, may be much more inexpensively fulfilled there than at home. The best way is to begin by giving up everything, by frankly
saying to yourself that you will not be bothered, that man's days of travel are full of trouble, and that you are going to get what little joy you can out of them as you go along. Then, perhaps, on some errand of quite ignoble purport, you will be seized with the knowledge that on the very spot where you stand one of the most significant things in history happened. It will be quite enough for you, as you inhale a breath of the London mixture of smoke, dust, and fog, that it is something like the air which Shakespeare and Milton breathed when they were meditating the works which have given so many international after-dinner orators the assurance of a bond of amity in our common language. Once, in driving through one of the dullest streets imaginable, I chanced to look out of the side-window of my hansom, and saw on a flying house-wall a tablet reading: "Here lived John Dryden," and though Dryden is a poet to move one to tenderness as little as may be, the tears came into my eyes.
It is but one of a thousand names, great in some sort or other, which make sojourn in London impossible, if one takes them to heart as an obligation to consciousness of her constant. and instant claim. They show you Johnson's house in Bolt Court, but it only avails to vex you with the thought of the many and many houses of better and greater men which they will never show you. As for the scenes of events in fiction you have a plain duty to shun them, for in a city where the great facts of the past are written so deep upon the walls and pavement, one over another, it is folly which can be forgiven only to the vacancy of youth to go looking for the place where some imaginary thing happened. Yet this claim of folly has been recognized, and if you wish to indulge it, you can do so at little trouble. Where
the real localities are not available they have fictitious ones, and they show you an Old Curiosity Shop, for instance, which serves every purpose of having been the home of Little Nell. There are at least three Cock Taverns, and several Mitres, all genuine; and so on. Forty odd years ago I myself, on first arriving in London, lodged at the Golden Cross, because it was there that David Copperfield stopped; and I was insensately pleased the other day that there was still a hotel of that name at the old stand. Whether it was the old inn, I did not challenge the ghost within me to say. I doubt if you now dine there "off the joint" in the "coffeeroom"; more probably you have a table d'hôte meal served you "at separate tables," by a German lad just beginning to ignore English. The shambling elderly waiter who was part of the furniture in 1861 is very likely dead; and for the credit of our country I hope that the recreant American whom I heard telling an Englishman, there, in those disheartening days, of our civic corruptions, may have also passed away. He said that he himself had bought votes, as many as he wanted, in the city of Providence; and though I could deny the general prevalence of such venality at least in my own stainless state of Ohio, I did not think to suggest that in such a case the corruption was in the buyer rather than the seller of the votes, and that if he had now come to live, as he implied, in a purer country, he had not taken the right way to be worthy of it. But at twenty-four you cannot think of everything at once, and a recreant American is so uncommon that hardly, at any age, provide for him.
OWEVER the Golden Cross Inn may have inwardly
or outwardly changed, the Golden Cross Hotel keeps its old place hard by the Charing Cross station, which is now so different from the station of the earlier day. I do not think it is one of the most sympathetic of the London stations. I myself prefer rather the sentiment of the good old Euston station, which continues for you the feeling of arrival in England, and keeps you in the glow of landing that you have, or had in the days when you always landed in Liverpool, and the constant Cunarders and Inmans ignored the upstart pretensions of Southampton and Plymouth to be ports of entry from the United States. But among the stations of minor autobiographical interest, Charing Cross is undoubtedly the first, and you may have your tenderness for it as the place where you took the train for the nightboat at Folkestone in first crossing to the continent. How strange it all was, and yet how not unfriendly; for there is always a great deal of human nature in England. She is very motherly, even with us children who ran away from home, and only come back now and then to make sure that we are glad of having done so. In the lamp-broken obscurity of the second-class carriage I am aware still of a youthful exile being asked his destination, and then his derivation, by a gentle old lady in the
seat opposite (she might have been Mother England in person), who, hearing that he was from America where the civil war was then very unpromising, could only say, comfortingly: "And very glad to be out of it, I dare say!" He must protest, but if he failed to convince, how could he explain that part of his high mission to the ports of the Lombardo-Venetian Kingdom was to sweep from the Adriatic the Confederate privateers which Great Britain was then fitting out to prey upon our sparse commerce there? As a matter of fact he had eventually to do no sweeping of that sort at all; for no privateers came to interrupt the calm in which he devoted himself, unofficially, to writing a book about the chief of those ports.
It was the first of many departures from London, where you are always more or less arriving or departing as long as you remain in England. It is indeed an axiom with the natives that if you want to go from any one point to any other in the island it is easier to come to London and start afresh for it, than to reach the point across country. The trains to and from the capital are swifter and more frequent, and you are not likely to lose your way in the mazes of Bradshaw if you consult the indefinitely simplified A B C tables which instruct you how to launch yourself direct from London upon any objective, or to recoil from it. My impression is that you habitually drive to a London station as nearly in time to take your train as may be, and that there is very little use for waiting-rooms. This may be why the waiting-room seems so small and unattractive a part of the general equipment. It never bears any such proportion to the rest as the waiting-rooms in the great Boston stations, or even that of the Grand Central in New York, and is by no chance so really fine as that of