July 29.The White Dover Cliffs could be seen early this morning from our steamer. We passed through the Straits of Dover and the mouth of the Thames, and saw the large steamers, sailing vessels and powder magazine on the river. Our baggage was examined by the custom house officers before we left the Mohawk at Tilbury, where we took cars for London (a ride of twenty-five miles), and here we are in this great metropolis at No. Upper Bedford Place, Russell Square.
Although the voyage was delightful and we had not been longing to leave the steamer, yet we were pleased and thankful to place our feet once more upon solid ground.
July 30.This afternoon we rode on the tops of omnibuses by the Strand and St. Paul’s Cathedral to the Bank of England, and have been to Brown, Shipley & Company for business and to inquire for letters. We are now listening to the most pleasing hand organ music we ever heard, -played by a man and a woman near here, first by one and then the other.
July 31.Last evening L. and I enjoyed a long ride on the top of an omnibus. We saw Piccadilly lighted up (a beautiful sight), and Victoria Station. From this station the Queen goes to the Isle of Wight when she visits her home at Osborn. We saw where Lord Palmerston once lived, now a club house, and where the Earl of Devonshire lives, and many clubs and theatres. Electric lights made everything brilliant. A gentleman and his wife very kindly gave us information as we rode along. A railing is around the top of the omnibus for safety. Steps lead up from the left side in the rear. Vehicles here pass each other in the street on the left hand instead of the right.
I enjoy the front window in our room. It has old fashioned “blinds” such as we had in my childhood’s home. I see much that is interesting as I sit here. A woman is going by selling lavender. She has a deep and very remarkable voice. L. remarked that “she might have made a fortune with her voice if it had been trained.” The weather has so far been delightfulneither rain nor fog.
It will be a month tomorrow morning since we left our home in Cleveland. I have a picture of it on the bureau here. What a long month it has been and how much we have passed through ! How far we are from home and friends ! L. has frequently said with a smile, “We are engaged in a great undertaking.” I look back upon our voyage across the Atlantic with much pleasure. We have made pleasant acquaintances whom we shall always remember. My book of conundrums contains the names of forty of the passengers on the Mohawk. These I collected as souvenirs of our voyage. The last morning on board the steamer the water of the ocean was a most beautiful green. On the day we were crossing the fishing banks the water was bluea very lovely shade of blue. The ocean was always changing in color. The blue was said to be due to the shallow water and the color of the sky.
This afternoon we visited the Parliament Houses and saw the Queen’s robing room and the throne upon which she is robed before opening Parliament. Passed through the Royal Gallery (110 feet long) and through the Princess Chamber into the House of Lords, where we saw the Throne and the wool-sack and the 526 seats covered with red morocco for the Peers. The wool-sack is a red cushion of wool on which the Lord Chancellor sits when presiding over the House of Lords. After leaving the House of Lords we passed through the Peers’ Lobby and Peers’ Corridor to the Central Hall where we saw the door of the House of Commons. As a session was being held we were not allowed to enter. We felt disappointed but went into Westminster Abbey close by, where we attended a service. Here we met Gertrude and Helen Coit, passengers on our steamer, who came to us after the service. It was a surprise and a de-light to us all to meet again. Afterwards we went to Westminster Bridge where we saw the rear of the Parliament Houses on the Thames and the Terrace. Members of Parliament are allowed to take ladies there and have refreshments.
In our boarding house breakfast is not until nine o’clock, much to our discomfort ; lunch at one, tea at four, and dinner at half past six. At breakfast we are allowed either tea or coffee with the meal. At lunch we cannot have eitheronly coffee at dinner, and then not until the meal is over. No butter at dinner.
August 1. A walk around Russell Square this forenoon and a visit this afternoon to St. Margaret’s Church have occupied the day. In this old church with its rough stone inner walls, close by Westminster Abbey, we saw the Milton window, given by Mr. Childs, of Philadelphia, and other beautiful windows. The Milton window has on it Whittier’s inscription of four lines :
The new world honors him whose lofty plea For England’s freedom made her own more sure, Whose song immortal as its theme, shall be Their common freehold while both worlds endure.
The aisles we traversed are filled with memorial tablets. Milton’s remains are in the Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate ;
His wife and children are buried here. Two tiny babies were baptized. The clergyman used what appeared to be a polished clam shell in baptizing them and afterwards dipped his fingers in the water and made upon their fore-heads the sign of the cross.
August 2.–A small company went from our boarding place last evening to attend a service in St. Paul’s Cathedral and to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Temple), the highest ecclesiastic in the realm. After service we walked about the Cathedral and saw it to good advantage when lighted. We stood directly under the handsome dome.
While waiting yesterday for admittance to St. Margaret’s Church we sat on a stone underneath an arch. We have seen Trafalgar Square, containing the tall monument of Lord Nelson with its four enormous lions, Newgate prison and the Bank of England. The latter might easily be taken for a prison so greatly does it resemble one, no windows being visible. Four American ladies are here, three of whom are teachers and sit at our table. We have spent this morning in the British Museum. There we met Prof. Stanclift who has sprained his ankle since leaving the Mohawk. We returned to lunch and now L. has again gone to the Museum to take one or two pictures. Yesterday being the Sabbath breakfast was at half past nine, dinner at half past one, tea at five and lunch at half past eight. Our lunch we did not have until half past nine, after our return from St. Paul’s.
August 3.- We have visited Hyde Park where the “high people” drive. Rotten Row, for horseback riding, is close by the driveway. I walked around and enjoyed the flowers. There were only a very few that I did not recognize. I could find no one in the crowd of people sitting there who could give me the names of these flowers. From Hyde Park another omnibus carried us to the Albert Memorial, erected by the Queen and her people. This monument we admired for its size and rich gildings and colorings, with Prince Albert sitting in the midst of its magnificence. It is thought by some to be too gorgeous. We found the stores all closed because of Bank Holiday, and the omnibuses crowded, but at last we reached home. There are four such days here in a year.
London presented a very curious spectacle to me on our arrival here. There were so many omnibuses loaded with people, and so many hansoms with the drivers riding behind, and various antedeluvian-looking vehicles. At first it seemed very strange to us to be riding on the omnibuses ourselves, but we have become quite accustomed to it and enjoy the fresh air and seeing London. I ,have just returned from taking a walk by myself in this great city. I walked around Endleigh Gardens and after seeing Robert Steven-son’s monument went into a very old looking church called St. Pancras. This part of London contains many small squares which add much to its beauty. Boarding houses, many of them with names, are thick about us. This one is the Clevedon. L. has gone to do business errands.
We spent a long time in Westminster Abbey today. It is cold and gloomy there. We sat in the choir near the boy singers, being seated there by the verger (usher), and so heard perfectly the clear soprano voices. After service we visited the Poet’s Corner and saw the tomb of Chaucer and memorial window, the slabs covering the graves of Tennyson and Browning, Milton’s bust, Longfellow’s and others. Then we visited the semicircle of Chapels, nine in all, the largest and most interesting being that of Edward the Confessor, immediately back of the altar, and the chapel of Henry the Seventh at the eastern extremity of the Abbey. In the chapel of Edward the Confessor are the two Coronation Chairs of carved oak. Under the seat of the one in which Victoria and all the English sovereigns have been crowned since the time of Edward I is the Stone of Scone, brought by Edward I from Scotland. On it the earliest Scottish kings were crowned and the still earlier kings of Ireland. The other chair was made for the coronation of William and Mary. Between these two chairs are the sword and shield of Edward III. Twelve marble steps lead to Henry the Seventh’s chapel where much royalty lies buried. Here we saw the tombs of Henry and his Queen, of Elizabeth and Mary, of the murdered Princes, of Mary Queen of Scots, of Dean and Augusta Stanley and of many others. We admired the wonderful tracery of the stone ceiling, which is said to be the finest in the world. At the eastern end of the chapel is the recumbent headless figure of Henry V ; the head being solid silver was stolen. In the choir in front of the great altar the Kings and Queens of England have been crowned since 1066. Then we went down a few steps into the cloisters. With some difficulty we found the Porter’s Lodge and the Porteress admitted us to the Jerusalem Chamber which L. desired to visit. This chamber, finished in fragrant cedar, has on the four walls tapestries of the time of Henry VIII, wonderfully like fresco painting. Here occurred the death of Henry IV ; here the mother of the murdered princess (Elizabeth) had her “sanctuary” with the younger child; here the Westminster Assembly of divines composed the Catechism and Confession, and here the late revisers of the Bible held their sessions around the long table.
August 4. The three teachers at our table left this morning. I will copy the Lavender Song which Miss Shultes obtained from the woman :
“Will you buy my blooming lavender My sweet scented lavender? Now is the time to scent your handkerchief While it is in full blossom. If you buy it once you will buy it twice For it makes your clothes smell very nice. Will you buy my blooming lavender, Lady will you buy of me?”
They tell us here that this song has been sung in London a hundred years or more,one of the things that has been handed down.
August 5. Just now from my window I saw two flower women sitting on the stone pavement, arranging their flowers.
Our field glass brought them quite near. I wished for a picture of them but L. was away and I have not learned the art of taking pictures. There are both knockers and bells on the front doors here. Two bells, one for servants and one for visitors. They knock first and then ring. Yesterday we talked with a policeman on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and saw the Queen’s guards in their red coats and high black hats. Afterwards we walked down the Mall past St. James Palace and Marlborough House, where the Prince of Wales resides, St. James Park being on the right. Then we walked about in the rear of St. James Palace, in the royal chapel of which Queen Victoria was married, and saw Stafford House, where the Duke of Sutherland lives. We were glad to reach home after our long walk.
August 6. Yesterday afternoon we were again in the British Museum. L. spent the whole time in the reading room. I went about through several rooms. The illuminated manuscripts made so long ago are interesting and curious,one being written in gold, A. D. 966, by King Edgar. The larger part were made either in the twelfth or late fifteenth century, including one which belonged to Henry VIII. I looked at the autographs written by royal personages and others, noticed a clock of elaborate construction, and the bust of Sir Robert Smirke, R. A., architect of the Museum. The antiquities up stairs are too numerous to mention. When I joined L. in the reading room he had found, in a volume entitled American Sermons 1751-1806, two funeral sermons on the death of his great-grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Potwine, first pastor of the church in East Windsor, Conn. Here I quote a few lines from the sermon preached by Nehemiah Prudden, A. M.: “Your revered pastor, Mr. Thomas Potwine, was born in Boston. He descended from respectable and religious parents who gave him to God in baptism on the same day that gave him birth.” I copied for L. the prayer offered by his great-grandfather on Sunday, the day before he died.
We have been this forenoon to a dentist, Mr. Sleep at 40 Kepple St., and I have had my poor tooth drawn. A dentist here is not called “doctor.” This is all I have done today so far, much to my regret. L. went shopping and bought for me a fan and a knife. I lost the dear little pearl-handled knife he gave me so many years ago. It could not be found on our arrival here. We saw the King of Siam leave Buckingham Palace in state this morning on his way to the Isle of Wight to visit Queen Victoria.
August 7.- Miss W. and I have been shopping this morning. I rejoiced that she was with me as I found much difficulty in understanding the language of the shops and wondered if it could really be our own English ! In the National Gallery this afternoon we feasted upon many fine paintings of the mastersRaphael, Turner, Landseer, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Rubens, Gainsborough and others.
August 8.- I went alone to the Foundling Hospital this rainy Sabbath morning and found it rather a long walk. After attending their service I went into the different wards and saw the hard little beds the children occupy at night and the basket at the foot of each bed into which their clothes are placed on retiring. When the girls and boys passed into their separate dining rooms they took the attitude of prayer and sung “grace,” led by a brass instrument, before sitting down on the long benches at the tables. Their dinner consisted of a, slice of meat, a large quantity of lettuce with vinegar, all on one plate, with a piece of bread and a mug containing cold water by the side of the plate. They appeared well and happy. Some of the little girls held out their hands in a loving way to shake hands with me. I enjoyed the sweet singing of the children.