網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

cause he was going to Russia to see for the King representing the nation as himself what the Bolsheviki were doing. chief mourner, were deposited in the 'You will see plenty of misery, you may Abbey, there formed a procession which be sure,' I replied. “Why look at it? several days afterward, when I sought Why not let the Russians stew in their to join it, was still almost a mile long! own juice? Ultimately they will come home, those that are left, wagging their

IV tales behind them.'

But no, he wanted to see for himself. London can boast of countless little So we parted, each of us going his own museums, or memorials, to this or that way, and both happy.

great man; and it is soon to have anBut I did see one thing unusual other: Wentworth Place, in Hampstead, enough to have interested even so so- with which the name of Keats is so phisticated a traveler as Waldo, and closely connected. When this is opened that was the crowd which, on Armistice to the public, - I have visited it priDay, that is to say, the eleventh of No- vately, — it is to be hoped that it will vember, 1920, at exactly eleven o'clock take on something of the kindly atmosin the morning, stood absolutely silent phere of the Johnson House in Gough for two whole minutes. London is a Square, rather than that of the cold mubusy city; there is a ceaseless ebb and seum dedicated to that old dyspeptic flow of traffic, not in a few centres philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, in Cheland here and there, as with us, but sea. I remember well when he died. everywhere, and when this normal

and when this normal He was said to have been the Dr. Johncrowd is augmented by thousands from son of his time. Heaven keep us! Carthe country, intent upon seeing the dedi- lyle! who never had a good or kindly cation of the Cenotaph in the centre word to say of any man or thing; whose of Whitehall and the burial of the world, 'mostly fools,' bowed down beunknown warrior in the Abbey, it is fore him and accepted his ravings as a crowd of millions. And this huge criticism; whose Prussian philosophy, .

, crowd, at the first stroke of eleven, 'the strong thing is the right thing, stood stock-still; not a thing moved, ex- was exploded in the great war. I have cept, perhaps, here and there a horse lived to see his fame grow dimmer day turned its head, or a bird, wondering by day, while Johnson's grows brighter what had caused the great silence, flut- as his wit, wisdom, and, above all, his tered down from Nelson's monument in humanity, become better known and Trafalgar Square. And so it was, we understood. read, all over Britain, all over Australia To Gough Square, then, I hastened, and Africa, and a part of Asia and once I was comfortably installed in my America: the great Empire, Ireland little flat, to see if any of the suggesalone excepted, stood with bowed head tions I had made at a dinner given by in memory of the dead. Not a wheel Cecil Harmsworth, in the winter of turned anywhere, not a telegram or 1914, to the Johnson Club, to which I telephone message came over the wires. was invited, had been carried out. The

These English know how to stage big door was opened to my knock by an old effects, as befits their Empire; with lady who invited me in as if I were an them history is ever and always in the expected guest. She explained that it making. And when at last the bunting was hoped that ultimately one room fluttered down from the Cenotaph, and

would be dedicated to the memory of when the bones of the Unknown, with Boswell and others of the Johnsonian

[ocr errors]

a

a

circle, Goldsmith, Garrick, Mrs. and in these interesting surroundings, Thrale, Fanny Burney, and the rest, - friends, literary societies, and clubs and that the whole house would be per- may meet for the asking, and teas and vaded by the immortal memory of Dr. dinners may be sent in from the nearby Johnson, the kindest as well as the Cheshire Cheese. And all this might greatest of men; but that, owing to the have been done, and yet the house war, not as much had been accom- might have lacked one of its greatest plished as had been hoped.

charms, namely, the kindly presence ‘And so,' I replied, “my suggestions, and hospitality of two women, the dishave not been entirely forgotten. I had covery of whom, by Mr. Harmsworth, feared

was a piece of the rarest good fortune. 'Why,' continued the old lady, 'can Mrs. Dyble is a soldier's wife, her husyou be Mr. Newton of Philadelphia?' band being a color sergeant in one of

I could have hugged her; for, gentle the crack regiments; and the story goes reader, this is much nearer fame than I that, during the air-raids, when the ever hoped for. What a morning it was! Germans were dropping bombs on all Mrs. Dyble called for her daughter, and and sundry, the old lady went, not into I was presented, and again found to be the 'tubes' for shelter, but, to meet the not unknown; and believe me, these two bombs half-way, into the attic; there, women were so absolutely steeped in taking down a copy of Boswell, she read Johnson as to shame my small learning quite composedly through the night; and make me wish for the support of for, as she said, she would not be worthy real honest-to-God Johnsonians, such of her soldier husband if she were not as Tinker or Osgood, or my friend R. B. prepared to face death at home as he Adam, of Buffalo, who has the greatest was doing in France. But how long, Johnson collection in the world, and I ask myself, will her daughter, Mrs. who, when next he goes to London, has Rowell, a pretty widow, be content to a treat in store which will cause him to

live upon the memory of Dr. Johnson? forget, at least momentarily, his charm- I was especially pleased to convey to ing wife and his young son; charming the Johnson House a superb photowives and young sons being not uncom- graph of a portrait of Dr. Johnson by mon, whereas Gough Square is unique. Reynolds, which had recently been ac

Any man of fine heart and substan- quired by Mr. John H. McFadden of tial means could have bought the Philadelphia. I was sitting in my club Gough Square house, but it required a one afternoon, when Mr. McFadden singularly wise and modest man to fit came up and asked me how I would like it up so simply, so in keeping with the to see a picture of Dr. Johnson which he Johnsonian tradition; to say, “We don't had just received from the Agnews in want a cold, dry-as-dust museum; we London. Of course, I was delighted, and want the house to be as nearly as possi- a few minutes later I was in the small ble what it was when the great Doctor but exquisite gallery of eighteenth-cenlived in it and compiled the dictionary tury portraits which Mr. McFadden in its attic room. So it is, that 17 has collected. Familiar as I am supGough Square, Fleet Street, is one of posed to be with Johnson portraits, I the places which it is a delight to visit. had never seen the one which was A fine Johnsonian library has been shown me. It was obviously Dr. Johnlent, and may ultimately be given, to son; and as soon as I returned home and the house; paintings, portraits, rare had an opportunity of consulting my prints, and autograph letters abound; notes, I saw that it was the portrait

painted for Dr. Taylor of Ashbourne. so far from Buckingham Palace as to So far as I have been able to learn, it prevent the late Queen Victoria from has never been engraved or even photo- dropping in occasionally for a cup of graphed; and I told its owner that he tea with her friend, the Duchess of owed it to himself and all Johnsonians Sutherland, who for many years made to have it photographed in the best pos- it her residence. The story goes, that sible manner, and to send a copy to the Her Majesty was accustomed to remark Johnson House at Lichfield, and also to that she had left her house to visit her Cecil Harmsworth. This Mr. McFad- friend in her palace. Be this as it may, den readily consented to do; and so, on it is a magnificent structure, admirably my arrival in London, I had the pleas- fitted for its present purpose; and I was ant duty of presenting the pictures. fortunate enough to be one of its first The portrait is of a very old man; the visitors when it was thrown open to the head is bent forward, the face is kindly, public in the spring of 1914. The arand about the mouth is the tremulous- rangement of the exhibits leaves nothness of age. I take it, indeed, to be a ing to be desired; and if one does not speaking likeness, and it pleases me to find the garments of the present reignfancy that the kindly Doctor has just ing family very stimulating, one can made the remark quoted by Boswell: always retire to the basement and while As I grow older, I am prepared to call away an hour or so among the panoa man a good man on easier terms than ramas of Tudor London, or fancy himheretofore.'

self for a brief time a prisoner in NewDuring the war, when Germany was gate. dropping bombs on London and Eng- But the streets of a great city are land was protesting that no real mili- more interesting than any museum, and tary purpose was served thereby and it was my custom generally to stroll that the priceless treasures in the mu- through St. James's Park, gradually seums that had always been open to working my way toward Westminster, the public were being endangered, Ger- thence taking a bus to whatever part of many characteristically replied that London my somewhat desultory plans England should not keep her bric-à-brac led me. One morning I had just climbed in a fortress. Whether London is a for- the steps which lead to Downing Street, tress or not, I do not know; doubtless when a heavy shower forced me to the Tower once was, and doubtless a stand for a few moments under archcertain amount of bric-à-brac is stored way, almost opposite number 10, which, therein; but the Tower is a fatiguing as all the world knows, is the very unplace, and I fancy I have visited it for imposing residence of the Prime Ministhe last time; whereas I shall never ter. Standing under the same archway cease to delight in the London Museum, was an admirable specimen of the Lonfilled as it is with everything that illus- don policeman, — tall, erect, polite, trates the history, the social and busi- intelligent, imperturbable, and it ocness life of a people who by no accident curred to me that the exchange of a or chance have played a leading part in ‘British-made' cigar for the man's the history of the world.

views on the war would be no more This wonderful collection is housed than a fair exchange. And right here in what was for years regarded as the let me say that, all the time I was in most sumptuous private residence in England, I did not hear one word of London. It is situated in Stable Yard, complaint or one word of exultation. very near St. James's Palace, and not There was no doubt in Bobby's mind

an

who won the war, 'but mind you, your 'I should n't think you were likely to fellows was most welcome, when they forget it,' I remarked, looking at his came'; and I thought I detected just a decorations and handing him a cigar. trifle of sarcasm in his last words. “We 'Well, sir,' he replied, thanking me don't like the Germans, but we don't and putting the cigar in his helmet, “it's wear ourselves out 'ating 'em,' he said, curious how one thing drives another in reply to my question.

out of your mind. I was in it for three Just here our conversation was inter- years, and yet, except when I look at rupted by an old lady, who came up to that gun, I can't rightly say I give it inquire at what hour Mrs. Lloyd much thought.' George was going out. I'm not in her confidence, ma'am,' replied my friend;

V and continuing, he suggested that he had gone to bed hungry many a night I had an experience one day, which I but had n't minded in the least, be- shall always remember, it was so unexcause he knew that British ships were pected and far-reaching. I was sitting taking the American army to France. in the back room of Sawyer's bookshop 'I've a tendency to get 'eavy, hany- in Oxford Street, talking of London, way,' he continued. His views on the and rather especially of Mr. W. W. League of Nations were what one usu- Jacobs's district thereof, in which I had ally heard. He had no confidence a recently made several interesting short man's neighbors would do more for a cruises,' in company with his night man than a man would do for himself'; watchman (he who had a bad shilling that 'Wilson was a bit ’eady; and the festooned from his watch-chain, it will American people 'ad let ’im down some- -be remembered), when I felt rather thing terrible.'

than saw that, while I was talking, a Another morning, walking past the man had entered and seemed to be Horse Guards, I noticed on approach- waiting, and rather impatiently, to get ing the Mall an enormous German can- into the conversation. Now just how non mounted on its heavy carriage, the it came about, I don't exactly know; wheels of which must have had at least but soon I found myself suggesting five-inch tires. This engine of death, that Londoners know relatively little having shot its last bolt, was an object of their great city and that it was only of the greatest interest to the children the enlightened stranger who really who constantly played about it. As I knew his way about. passed it, one little chap, probably not "And this to me,' said the stranger in over four years of age, was kicking it a harsh, strident voice, of such unusual forcibly with his little foot, his act be- timbre that its owner could have made ing regarded approvingly the while by a whisper heard in a rolling-mill. the Bobby who was looking on; but “Think of it,' he continued, turning to when finally he began to climb up on Sawyer, ‘that I should live to be beardthe wheel, from which he could have ed in

my

den by a by a got a nasty fall, the policeman took the He paused, not at a loss for a word little lad in his arms, lifted him care- so much as turning over in his mind fully to the ground, and bade him 'be whether that word should be kindly or hoff,' with the remark, 'You'll be tear- the reverse. This gave me an opporing that toy to pieces before you are a tunity to look at the man who had enmonth older; then we won't ’ave noth- tered, unasked, into the conversation in ing to remind us of the war.'

very much the same way that I had

[ocr errors]

entered into his London. He was seem- edition, including a presentation copy ingly about sixty years of age, short of the first edition of 1598, with an inrather than tall, with piercing eyes scription to the Lord Mayor.' under bushy eyebrows, but chiefly re- Now, presentation copies of the Surmarkable for his penetrating voice, vay, properly regarded as the first book which he used as an organ, modulating on London, are very rare; I had never it or giving it immense power. One seen one, and I replied that nothing felt instinctively that he was no patri- would give me greater pleasure than to cian, but rather a 'city man’ accus- see his books. When and how could a tomed to giving orders and having meeting be arranged? them obeyed promptly, and having a 'Shall we say next Thursday afterdegree of confidence in himself — say, noon?' rather, assurance - which one associ- Very good, but where?' ates with Chicago rather than with “Now,' continued my friend, ‘pay atLondon.

tention. Tell your second chauffeur to Now I am conceited enough to think get out your third Rolls-Royce car — that, with the ordinary mortal, I can 'Never mind my chauffeurs and my hold my own in conversation when Lon- Rolls-Royce cars,' I interrupted; “if you don is the subject; so almost before I are on the line of a penny bus, tell knew it, I was trying to make myself me how to reach you from Piccadilly heard by one who had evidently decided Circus.' to take the lead in the conversation. 'Good,' continued my friend; 'you The result was that two men were talk- know the Ritz?' ing for victory at the same time, greatly ‘From the outside,' I replied, 'perto the amusement of Sawyer.

fectly.' Finally my stranger-friend said, 'Well, go to the Bobby who stands 'Have you many books on London?' outside the Ritz, and ask him to tell you

To which I replied, relieved that the what bus to take to Clapham Junction; subject had taken a bookish turn, 'Yes, and when you get there, just ask any about three hundred,' which number is, Bobby to direct you to John Burns's on say, a hundred and fifty more than I the north side of Clapham Common.' actually possess.

John Burns! Had I heard aright? I have over six thousand,' said my Was it possible that I was actually talkfriend; 'I have every book of impor. ing to John Burns, the great labor leadtance on London that ever has been er, who had once marched a small army written.'

of 'Dockers' from the East End of “Yes,' said I, and you have the ad- London to Westminster, and who had vantage in discovering first how many finally become an all-powerful Member books I had. If I had been as keen as of Parliament, and Privy Councillor, mustard, as you are, I would have and President of the Board of Trade asked the question, and you would have and of the Local Government Board; said three hundred; then I could have John Burns, without whose approval said six thousand.'

not a statue, not a pillar-box or a fire Listen to him,' roared my friend;' he plug had been located for the past even doubts my word. Would you like twenty years, and who had, when the to see my books?'

war broke out, resigned all his offices of ‘Have you a copy of Stow?' I replied, honor and emolument because he could to try him out.

not conscientiously go along with the “Yes,' answered my friend; ‘every government! As I recovered from my VOL. 128-NO. 3

B

« 上一頁繼續 »