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painted for Dr. Taylor of Ashbourne. So far as I have been able to learn, it has never been engraved or even photographed; and I told its owner that he owed it to himself and all Johnsonians to have it photographed in the best possible manner, and to send a copy to the Johnson House at Lichfield, and also to Cecil Harmsworth. This Mr. McFadden readily consented to do; and so, on my arrival in London, I had the pleasant duty of presenting the pictures. The portrait is of a very old man; the head is bent forward, the face is kindly, and about the mouth is the tremulousness of age. I take it, indeed, to be a speaking likeness, and it pleases me to fancy that the kindly Doctor has just made the remark quoted by Boswell: 'As I grow older, I am prepared to call a man a good man on easier terms than heretofore.'
During the war, when Germany was dropping bombs on London and England was protesting that no real military purpose was served thereby and that the priceless treasures in the museums that had always been open to the public were being endangered, Germany characteristically replied that England should not keep her bric-à-brac in a fortress. Whether London is a fortress or not, I do not know; doubtless the Tower once was, and doubtless a certain amount of bric-à-brac is stored therein; but the Tower is a fatiguing place, and I fancy I have visited it for the last time; whereas I shall never cease to delight in the London Museum, filled as it is with everything that illustrates the history, the social and business life of a people who by no accident or chance have played a leading part in the history of the world.
This wonderful collection is housed in what was for years regarded as the most sumptuous private residence in London. It is situated in Stable Yard, very near St. James's Palace, and not
so far from Buckingham Palace as to prevent the late Queen Victoria from dropping in occasionally for a cup of tea with her friend, the Duchess of Sutherland, who for many years made it her residence. The story goes, that Her Majesty was accustomed to remark that she had left her house to visit her friend in her palace. Be this as it may, it is a magnificent structure, admirably fitted for its present purpose; and I was fortunate enough to be one of its first visitors when it was thrown open to the public in the spring of 1914. The arrangement of the exhibits leaves nothing to be desired; and if one does not find the garments of the present reigning family very stimulating, one can always retire to the basement and while away an hour or so among the panoramas of Tudor London, or fancy himself for a brief time a prisoner in Newgate.
But the streets of a great city are more interesting than any museum, and it was my custom generally to stroll through St. James's Park, gradually working my way toward Westminster, thence taking a bus to whatever part of London my somewhat desultory plans led me. One morning I had just climbed the steps which lead to Downing Street, when a heavy shower forced me to stand for a few moments under an archway, almost opposite number 10, which, as all the world knows, is the very unimposing residence of the Prime Minister. Standing under the same archway was an admirable specimen of the London policeman, tall, erect, polite, intelligent, imperturbable,—and it occurred to me that the exchange of a 'British-made' cigar for the man's views on the war would be no more than a fair exchange. And right here let me say that, all the time I was in England, I did not hear one word of complaint or one word of exultation. There was no doubt in Bobby's mind
who won the war, 'but mind you, your fellows was most welcome, when they came'; and I thought I detected just a trifle of sarcasm in his last words. "We don't like the Germans, but we don't wear ourselves out 'ating 'em,' he said, in reply to my question.
Just here our conversation was interrupted by an old lady, who came up to inquire at what hour Mrs. Lloyd George was going out. 'I'm not in her confidence, ma'am,' replied my friend; and continuing, he suggested that he had gone to bed hungry many a night but had n't minded in the least, because he knew that British ships were taking the American army to France. 'I've a tendency to get 'eavy, hanyway,' he continued. His views on the League of Nations were what one usually heard. He had no confidence a man's neighbors would do more for a man than a man would do for himself'; that 'Wilson was a bit 'eady; and the American people 'ad let 'im down something terrible.'
Another morning, walking past the Horse Guards, I noticed on approaching the Mall an enormous German cannon mounted on its heavy carriage, the wheels of which must have had at least five-inch tires. This engine of death, having shot its last bolt, was an object of the greatest interest to the children who constantly played about it. As I passed it, one little chap, probably not over four years of age, was kicking it forcibly with his little foot, his act being regarded approvingly the while by the Bobby who was looking on; but when finally he began to climb up on the wheel, from which he could have got a nasty fall, the policeman took the little lad in his arms, lifted him carefully to the ground, and bade him 'be hoff,' with the remark, 'You'll be tearing that toy to pieces before you are a month older; then we won't 'ave nothing to remind us of the war.'
'I should n't think you were likely to forget it,' I remarked, looking at his decorations and handing him a cigar.
'Well, sir,' he replied, thanking me and putting the cigar in his helmet, 'it's curious how one thing drives another out of your mind. I was in it for three years, and yet, except when I look at that gun, I can't rightly say I give it much thought.'
I had an experience one day, which I shall always remember, it was so unexpected and far-reaching. I was sitting in the back room of Sawyer's bookshop in Oxford Street, talking of London, and rather especially of Mr. W. W. Jacobs's district thereof, in which I had recently made several interesting 'short cruises,' in company with his night watchman (he who had a bad shilling festooned from his watch-chain, it will -be remembered), when I felt rather than saw that, while I was talking, a man had entered and seemed to be waiting, and rather impatiently, to get into the conversation. Now just how it came about, I don't exactly know; but soon I found myself suggesting that Londoners know relatively little of their great city and that it was only the enlightened stranger who really knew his way about.
'And this to me,' said the stranger in a harsh, strident voice, of such unusual timbre that its owner could have made a whisper heard in a rolling-mill. "Think of it,' he continued, turning to Sawyer, 'that I should live to be bearded in my den by a- by a '
He paused, not at a loss for a word so much as turning over in his mind whether that word should be kindly or the reverse. This gave me an opportunity to look at the man who had entered, unasked, into the conversation in very much the same way that I had
entered into his London. He was seemingly about sixty years of age, short rather than tall, with piercing eyes under bushy eyebrows, but chiefly remarkable for his penetrating voice, which he used as an organ, modulating it or giving it immense power. One felt instinctively that he was no patrician, but rather a 'city man' accustomed to giving orders and having them obeyed promptly, and having a degree of confidence in himself—say, rather, assurance which one associates with Chicago rather than with London.
Now I am conceited enough to think that, with the ordinary mortal, I can hold my own in conversation when London is the subject; so almost before I knew it, I was trying to make myself heard by one who had evidently decided to take the lead in the conversation. The result was that two men were talking for victory at the same time, greatly to the amusement of Sawyer.
Finally my stranger-friend said, 'Have you many books on London?'
To which I replied, relieved that the subject had taken a bookish turn, 'Yes, about three hundred,' which number is, say, a hundred and fifty more than I actually possess.
'I have over six thousand,' said my friend; 'I have every book of importance on London that ever has been written.'
'Yes,' said I, 'and you have the advantage in discovering first how many books I had. If I had been as keen as mustard, as you are, I would have asked the question, and you would have said three hundred; then I could have said six thousand.'
'Listen to him,' roared my friend; 'he even doubts my word. Would you like to see my books?'
'Have you a copy of Stow?' I replied, to try him out.
'Yes,' answered my friend; 'every
VOL. 128-NO. 3
edition, including a presentation copy of the first edition of 1598, with an inscription to the Lord Mayor.'
Now, presentation copies of the Survay, properly regarded as the first book on London, are very rare; I had never seen one, and I replied that nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see his books. When and how could a meeting be arranged?
'Shall we say next Thursday afternoon?'
'Very good, but where?'
'Now,' continued my friend, 'pay attention. Tell your second chauffeur to get out your third Rolls-Royce car
'Never mind my chauffeurs and my Rolls-Royce cars,' I interrupted; 'if you are on the line of a penny bus, tell me how to reach you from Piccadilly Circus.'
'Good,' continued my friend; 'you know the Ritz?'
'From the outside,' I replied, 'perfectly.'
'Well, go to the Bobby who stands outside the Ritz, and ask him to tell you what bus to take to Clapham Junction; and when you get there, just ask any Bobby to direct you to John Burns's on the north side of Clapham Common.'
John Burns! Had I heard aright? Was it possible that I was actually talking to John Burns, the great labor leader, who had once marched a small army of 'Dockers' from the East End of London to Westminster, and who had finally become an all-powerful Member of Parliament, and Privy Councillor, and President of the Board of Trade and of the Local Government Board; John Burns, without whose approval not a statue, not a pillar-box or a fireplug had been located for the past twenty years, and who had, when the war broke out, resigned all his offices of honor and emolument because he could not conscientiously go along with the government! As I recovered from my
astonishment, John Burns, with a fine sense of dramatic values, had disappeared. I looked at his name and address written in his own hand in my little engagement-book. 'Well,' said I to myself, 'that looks like a perfectly good invitation; John Burns will be expect ing me about half-past four, and I am not going to disappoint him.'
A few days later, at the hour appointed, we descended from a taxi and found our friend awaiting us at his front gate. Across the roadway stretched Clapham Common, itself not without historic interest; but it was a cold, raw day in late October, and the inside of a city home is always more interesting than the outside. As I removed my coat, I saw at a glance that I had not been deceived in the number of his books. There were books everywhere, about fifteen thousand of them. All over the house were open shelves from floor to ceiling, with here and there a rare old cabinet packed with books, which told the life-story of their owner. Books are for reading, for reference, and for display. John Burns had not stinted himself in any direction. Throwing open the door of a good-sized room in which a fire (thank God!) was burning brightly, Burns said briefly, 'London, art and architecture in this room; in the room beyond, political economy, housing and social problems. Rare books and first editions in the drawingroom. Now come upstairs: here is biography and history.' Then, throwing open the door of a small room, he said, "This is my workshop; here are thousands and thousands of pamphlets, carefully indexed.' On landing at the head of the stair, he said, 'Newton, I've taken a fancy to you, and I'm going to let you handle carefully, mind you
scripts, letters, first editions.' And then, dropping the arrogance of the collector who had made his point, he took up a little copy of Utopia, which he had bought as a boy for sixpence, and said, "This book has made me what I am; for me it is the greatest book in the world; it is the first book I ever bought, it is the corner-stone of my library, the foundation on which I have built my life. Now let us have tea!'
During this pleasant function I plied my host with question after question; and he, knowing that he was not being interviewed, was frankness itself in his replies. His judgment of the great men of England with whom he had worked for a lifetime was shrewd, penetrating, and dispassionate; and, above all, kindly; their conduct of the war, his reason for not going along with the nation (he and Lord Morley were the two conspicuous men in England who, upon the outbreak of the war, retired into private life) was forceful if, to me, unconvincing; and I quoted Blake's axiom, that a man who was unwilling to fight for the truth might be forced to fight for a lie, without in the least disturbing his equanimity. My remark about Blake served to send the conversation in another direction, and we were soon discussing Blake's wife, whose maiden name he knew, and his unknown grave in Bunhill Fields, as if the cause and effect of the great war were questions that could be dismissed. Seeing a large signed photograph of Lord Morley on the wall, and a copy of his Life of Gladstone and his own Recollections on the shelves, I voiced my opinion that his friend was the author of five of the dullest volumes ever written, an opinion I would be glad to debate with all comers.
In reply to my question as to how he had accomplished so much reading, leading as he has done for so many years the life of a busy public man, he answered, 'I read quickly, have a good
memory,' (there is no false modesty about John Burns) 'and I never play golf.'
'Well, I am like you in one respect.' "What's that?' he asked; and then, with a laugh, 'You don't play golf, I suppose."
What I thought was my time to score came when he began to speak French, which I never understand unless it is spoken with a strong English accent. This gave me a chance to ask him whether he had not, like Chaucer's nun, studied at Stratford Atte Bowe, as evidently 'the French of Paris was to him "unknowe." He laughed heartily, and instantly continued the quotation. But anyone who attempts to heckle John Burns has his work cut out for him; a man who has harangued mobs in the East End of London and elsewhere, and held his own against all comers in the House of Commons, and who has received honorary degrees for solid accomplishment from half a dozen universities, is not likely to feel the pinpricks of an admirer. And when the time came for us (for my wife was with me) to part, as it did all too soon, it was with the understanding that we were to meet again, to do some walking and book-hunting together; and anyone who has John Burns for a guide in London, as I have had, is not likely
soon to forget the joys of the experience. Holidays at last come to an end.
If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work. We came home and, greetings exchanged, our first impressions were those of annoyance. As a nation, we have no manners; one might have supposed that we, rather than the English, had had our nervous systems exposed to the shock of battle; that we, rather than they, had been subject to air-raids and to the deprivations of war; that we had become a debtor rather than a creditor nation. We found rudeness and surliness everywhere. The man in the street had a 'grouch,' despite the fact that he was getting more pay for less work than any other man in the world; and that the President had told him that he had an inalienable right to strike. For the first time in my life I felt that 'labor would have to liquidate' to use a phrase to which, in the past, I have greatly objected. No question was civilly answered. The porter who carried our bags took a substantial tip with a sneer, and passed on. It may be that America is 'the land of the free and the home of the brave'; but we found the streets of our cities dangerous, noisy, hideous, and filthy. It is not pleasant to say these things, but they are true.