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Letter From J. M. Wheeler

Letter From J. M. Wheeler image
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London, June 16, 1876. My Dear Pond - We made our advent across the channel froin Dieppe, landing at New Haven, a rather poor soa port at present, where the tide which " wuita for no man " conipelled us to wait for il over an hour. We began our Englisb sight-seeing by takiug a run over to Brighton, the great seabathing resort for London. It is a city of 100,000 inhabitants without manufactures or special industry of any kind, and dependent, like Saratoga, entireiy upon its annual influx of teinporary visitors. The only beautiful portion is the fine stieet along the seaside, faced by a splondid sea wall over two miles in lengtb, along which all the conveniencss for riding, bathing, or promenading are to be found in perfectien. The Stoyne, as it is called, lacks the oxhilaratiou of the sounding surf, and tberefore as a promenade does not appear so attractive to the stranger. The soa beaoh cannot compare with some of our ewn, being ceinposed of rounded pebbleu from the size of a robin's egg to that of one's fist, entireiy loos and free froin all solidity and very unlike that formed by conipacted sand. Indeed it is no small labor to walk upon a surface which receives every step at least three or tour inche8 deep. The aquarium at Brighton is deservedly celebrated, but the bathing and fashion are the great elementa of Brighton life for ubout four months of the hot season. Our ride over the downs and among the chalk bilis across the country, to London, was truly delightful. There is KOinething so kindly to verdure and t'oliage in the atmosphore here, that the foresta and lawns are really unsurpassed by anything we have elsewhere seen. But what a chango ouine over the scène as we approached this vast metropolis, - the dina ha.iness was visible far boyond the city limits, and when we fiually reached London Bridge station it appeared to us as if a rain storm was just ready to pour down its torrents, such was the thick murkiness ot the atmoaphore. We have sinco learned that inuch of tbis appearance is caused by sruoko, but the natives put no trust in its "onding in smoke," and an umbrclla is an article as niuch in request as pantaloona or other clothing. Of course London is a placo of which no accurate conception, previously formed, would be likoly to be realizod ; yet how strangoly familiar did it seem to be walking along streets and meeting with place and objects with which booka had made us acquainted yoars gane by, - London Bridge, the tower, the strand, Holborn, Fleet street, Temple bar, Piccadilly, St. Paul, Ouildhall, and hundreds of othura still in use as they were a century and more ago. Some things, however, which we have asaociated with London, are goue. No traitors' heads adorn the bridge, Boarshead tavern is not, Oíd Tyburn has disappeared, and many other associations of place have no local hahitatiou, yet every where aro we confrontod by names that startle us with their unmistakable reality, and London has become on this account one of the easiest of citiea to stroll about in without fear of being loat. It is quite impossible to take in the rastness of the city : we tako the cars underground or above, or the omnibus or cab, and start for aome point five milos distant in any direction from our lodgings here on Arundle stront, and fiiiil the continuous streots still extending beyond. In going into the country, as it is called here, all seemi te be a succes.sion of villages without apüircnt intermission for a dozen miles uround the more donse city. We have jpeut a busy month here and visited all ;he mor interesting objecta, - the towr, British museum, South Kenaington musuum, Koyal Academy exhibition, VI iidium! Tousand's, the mint. Bank of iuglaud, Farliniiit, Westuiinister A.bbey, Cryst&l Palace, Zoological garlriiH, the docks, Billingsgato, and the ike, and have extended our investigaions to Green wich, Kochester, and Canerbury down the river ; to Hampton 3ourt, Richinond Hill, and Kow garens up the Thauius ; t o Windsor and Cton, to Epsom and the Derby races and similar outside attractioua. It would be strange if there were ao disappointinents ainid ao much sight-seeng, and atuong these I may without ïositation plaoe St. Paul and the House of Commons. The foriner we hare heard sometimes placed in compaiison with St. Peter's, but they are wholly dissiniilar if we except tbe noblo douics of lioth, and in all other respecta St. Petor's is immeasurably mors improssive in size, richness of material, decor - ation, and monumental marbles. As to the House of Commone, its careles, Blip-shod way of letting two score menibers out of soine CUO do all the legislation, the strange and useless adherence to the usage of weariug their hats at all times excopt when risiugjto spaak, and tho very striking absence of all oarnest oratory, make tho American speotator feel as if even hig owu Gongress might not suffer much in the comparison. But I must close. We are all quite well and expect to luave London tomorrow. We shall spend bout six weeks in looking orer England and Scotland and take steamer for hom on fifth of August. J. M. Wheeler.


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