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The whole group to which Goldsmith belonged came up before me, and as the centre of that group the great Dr. Johnson; not the Johnson of the "Rambler," or of "The Vanity of Human Wishes," or even of "Rasselas," but Boswell's Johnson, dear to all of us, the "Grand Old Man" of his time, whose foibles we care more for than for most great men's virtues. Fleet Street, which he loved so warmly, was close by. Bolt Court, entered from it, where he lived for many of his last years, and where he died, was the next place to visit. I found Fleet Street a good deal like Washington Street as I remember it in former years. When I came to the place pointed out as Bolt Court, I could hardly believe my eyes that so celebrated a place of residence should be entered by so humble a passageway. I was very sorry to find that No. 3, where he lived, was demolished, and a new building erected in its place. In one of the other houses in this court he is said to have labored on his dictionary. Near by was a building of mean aspect, in which Goldsmith is said to have at one time resided. But my kind conductor did not profess to be well acquainted with the local antiquities of this quarter of London.

The Cephalonia was to sail at half past six in the morning, and at that early hour a company of well-wishers was gathered on the wharf at East Boston to bid us good-by. We took with us many tokens of their thoughtful kindness; flowers and fruits from Boston and Cambridge, and a basket of champagne from a Concord friend whose company is as exhilarating as the sparkling wine he sent us. With the other gifts came a small tin box, about as big as a common round wooden match box. I supposed it to hold some pretty gimcrack, sent as a pleasant parting token of remembrance. It proved to be a most valued daily companion, useful at all times, never more so than when the winds were blowing hard and the ship was struggling with the waves. There must have been some magic secret in it, for I am sure that I looked five years younger after closing that little box than when I opened it. Time will explain its mysterious power.

Ah, but here is one marble countenance that I know full well, and knew for many a year in the flesh! Is there an American who sees the bust of Longfellow among the effigies of the great authors of England without feeling a thrill of pleasure at recognizing the features of his native fellow-countryman in the Valhalla of his ancestral fellow-countrymen? There are many memorials in Poets' Corner and elsewhere in the Abbey which could be better spared than that. Too many that were placed there as luminaries have become conspicuous by their obscurity in the midst of that illustrious company. On the whole, the Abbey produces a distinct sense of being overcrowded. It appears too much like a lapidary's store-room. Look up at the lofty roof, which we willingly pardon for shutting out the heaven above us,--at least in an average London day; look down at the floor and think of what precious relics it covers; but do not look around you with the hope of getting any clear, concentrated, satisfying effect from this great museum of gigantic funereal bricabrac. Pardon me, shades of the mighty dead! I had something of this feeling, but at another hour I might perhaps be overcome by emotion, and weep, as my fellow-countryman did at the grave of the earliest of his ancestors. I should love myself better in that aspect than I do in this coldblooded criticism; but it suggested itself, and as no flattery can soothe, so no censure can wound, "the dull, cold ear of death."


One thing, at least, I learned from my London experience: better a small city where one knows all it has to offer, than a great city where one has no disinterested friend to direct him to the right places to find what he wants. But of course there are some grand magazines which are known all the world over, and which no one should leave London without entering as a looker-on, if not as a purchaser.

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2021-06-15 02:55:23 [漯河市网友]

2021-06-15 02:55:23 [宜昌市网友]

Cold is the Druid's altar-stone,

2021-06-15 02:55:23 [合肥市网友]

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2021-06-15 02:55:23 [保定市网友]

2021-06-15 02:55:23 [济南市网友]

2021-06-15 02:55:23 [莱芜市网友]

Here are some of my first impressions of England as seen from the carriage and from the cars.--How very English! I recall Birket Foster's Pictures of English Landscape,--a beautiful, poetical series of views, but hardly more poetical than the reality. How thoroughly England is groomed! Our New England out-of-doors landscape often looks as if it had just got out of bed, and had not finished its toilet. The glowing green of everything strikes me: green hedges in place of our rail-fences, always ugly, and our rude stone-walls, which are not wanting in a certain look of fitness approaching to comeliness, and are really picturesque when lichen-coated, but poor features of landscape as compared to these universal hedges. I am disappointed in the trees, so far; I have not seen one large tree as yet. Most of those I see are of very moderate dimensions, feathered all the way up their long slender trunks, with a lop-sided mop of leaves at the top, like a wig which has slipped awry. I trust that I am not finding everything couleur de rose; but I certainly do find the cheeks of children and young persons of such brilliant rosy hue as I do not remember that I have ever seen before. I am almost ready to think this and that child's face has been colored from a pink saucer. If the Saxon youth exposed for sale at Rome, in the days of Pope Gregory the Great, had complexions like these children, no wonder that the pontiff exclaimed, Not Angli, but angeli! All this may sound a little extravagant, but I am giving my impressions without any intentional exaggeration. How far these first impressions may be modified by after-experiences there will be time enough to find out and to tell. It is better to set them down at once just as they are. A first impression is one never to be repeated; the second look will see much that was not noticed before, but it will not reproduce the sharp lines of the first proof, which is always interesting, no matter what the eye or the mind fixes upon. "I see men as trees walking." That first experience could not be mended. When Dickens landed in Boston, he was struck with the brightness of all the objects he saw,--buildings, signs, and so forth. When I landed in Liverpool, everything looked very dark, very dingy, very massive, in the streets I drove through. So in London, but in a week it all seemed natural enough.

2021-06-15 02:55:23 [福州市网友]