England, London, Tuesday, May 6, 1851.

LONDON, Tuesday, May 6, 1851.

I have seen little yet of England, and do not choose to deal in
generalities with regard to it until my ignorance has lost something of
its density. Liverpool impressed me unfavorably, but I scarcely saw it.
The working class seemed exceedingly ill dressed, stolid, abject and
hopeless. Extortion and beggary appeared very prevalent. I must look
over that city again if I have time.

We came up to London by the “Trent Valley Railroad,” through Crewe,
Rugby, Tamworth, &c., avoiding all the great towns and traversing (I am
told) one of the finest Agricultural districts of England. The distance
is two hundred miles. The Railroads we traveled in no place cross a road
or street on its own level, but are invariably carried under or over
each highway, no matter at what cost; the face of the country is
generally level; hills are visible at intervals, but nothing fairly
entitled to the designation of mountain. I was assured that very little
of the land I saw could be bought for $300, while much of it is held at
$500 or more per acre. Of course it is good land, well cultivated, and
very productive. Vegetation was probably more advanced here than in
Westchester Co. N. Y., or Morris Co. N. J., though not in every respect.
I estimated that two-thirds of the land I saw was in Grass, one-sixth in
Wheat, and the residue devoted to Gardens, Trees, Oats or Barley, &c.
There are few or no forests, properly so called, but many copses,
fringes and clumps of wood and shrubbery, which agreeably diversify the
prospect as we are whirled rapidly along. Still, nearly all the wooded
grounds I saw looked meager and scanty, as though trees grew less
luxuriantly here than with us, or (more probably) the best are cut out
and sold as fast as they arrive at maturity. Friends at home! I charge
you to spare, preserve and cherish some portion of your primitive
forests; for when these are cut away I apprehend they will not easily be
replaced. A second growth of trees is better than none; but it cannot
rival the unconscious magnificence and stately grace of the Red Man’s
lost hunting grounds, at least for many generations. Traversing this
comparatively treeless region carried my thoughts back to the glorious
magnificence and beauty of the still unscathed forests of Western
New-York, Ohio, and a good part of Michigan, which I had long ago
rejoiced in, but which I never before prized so highly. Some portions of
these fast falling monuments of other days ought to be rescued by public
forecast from the pioneer’s, the woodman’s merciless axe, and preserved
for the admiration and enjoyment of future ages. Rochester, Buffalo,
Erie, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, &c., should each purchase for
preservation a tract of one to five hundred acres of the best forest
land still accessible (say within ten miles of their respective
centers), and gradually convert it into walks, drives, arbors, &c., for
the recreation and solace of their citizens through all succeeding time.
Should a portion be needed for cemetery or other utilitarian purposes,
it may be set off when wanted; and ultimately a railroad will afford the
poor the means of going thither and returning at a small expense. If
something of this sort is ever to be done, it cannot be done too soon;
for the forests are annually disappearing and the price of wood near our
cities and business towns rapidly rising.

I meant to have remarked ere this the scarcity of Fruit throughout this
region. I think there are fewer fruit-trees in sight on the two hundred
miles of railway between Liverpool and London, than on the forty miles
of Harlem Railroad directly north of White Plains. I presume from
various indications that the Apple and Peach do not thrive here; and I
judge that the English make less account of Fruit than we do, though we
use it too sparingly and fitfully. If their climate is unfavorable to
its abundant and perfect production, they have more excuse than we for
their neglect of one of Heaven’s choicest bounties.

The approach to London from the West by the Trent Valley Railroad is
unlike anything else in my experience. Usually, your proximity to a
great city is indicated by a succession of villages and hamlets which
may be designated as more or less shabby miniatures of the metropolis
they surround. The City maybe radiant with palaces, but its satellites
are sure to be made up in good part of rookeries and hovels. But we were
still passing through a highly cultivated and not over-peopled rural
district, when lo! there gleamed on our sight an array of stately,
graceful mansions, the seeming abodes of Art, Taste and Abundance; we
doubted that this could be London; but in the course of a few moments
some two or three miles of it rose upon the vision, and we could doubt
no longer. Soon our road, which had avoided the costly contact as long
as possible, took a shear to the right, and charged boldly upon this
grand array of masonry, and in an instant we were passing under some
blocks of stately edifices and between others like them. Some mile or
two of this brought us to the “Euston-square Station,” where our
Railroad terminates, and we were in London. Of course, this is not “the
City,” specially so called, or ancient London, but a modern and
well-built addition, distinguished as Camden-town. We were about three
miles from the Bank, Post-Office, St. Paul’s Church, &c., situated in
the heart of the City proper, though nearer the East end of it.

I shall not attempt to speak directly of London. The subject is too
vast, and my knowledge of it too raw and scanty. I choose rather to give
some account of an excursion I have made to the royal palace at Hampton
Court, situated fifteen miles West of the City, where the Thames, which
runs through the grounds adjacent, has shrunk to the size of the Mohawk
at Schenectady, and I think even less. A very small steamboat sometimes
runs up as high as this point, but not regularly, and for all practical
purposes the navigation terminates at Richmond, four or five miles

Leaving the City by Temple Bar, you pass through the Strand, Charing
Cross, the Haymarket, Pall Mall and part of Regent-street into
Piccadilly, where you take an omnibus at “the White Horse Cellar” (I
give these names because they will be familiar to many if not most
American readers), and proceed down Piccadilly, passing St. James’s Park
on the left, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens on the right, and so by
Kensington Road to a fine suspension bridge over the Thames; you cross,
and have passed westerly out of London. You traverse some two miles of
very rich gardens, meadows, &c., and thence through the village of
Barnes, composed mainly of some two or three hundred of the oldest,
shabbiest tumble-down apologies for human habitations that I ever saw so
close together. Thence you proceed through a rich, thoroughly cultivated
garden district, containing several fine country seats, to Richmond, a
smart, showy village ten miles above London, and a popular resort for
holiday pleasure-seekers from the great city, whether by steamboat,
railway, omnibus or private conveyance. Here is a fleet of rowboats kept
for hire, while “the Star and Garter” inn has a wide reputation for
dinners, and the scene from its second-story bow window is pronounced
one of the finest in the kingdom. It certainly does not compare with
that from the Catskill Mountain House and many others in our State, but
it is a good thing in another way–a lovely blending of wood, water and
sky, with gardens, edifices and other pleasing evidences of man’s
handiwork. Pope’s residence at Twickenham, and Walpole’s Strawberry Hill
are near Richmond.

Proceeding, we drove through a portion of Bushy Park, the royal
residence of the late Queen Dowager Adelaide, widow of William IV., who
here manages, having house, grounds, &c. thrown in, to support existence
on an allowance of only $500,000 a year. The Park is a noble one, about
half covered with ancient, stately trees, among which large herds of
tame, portly deer are seen quietly feeding. A mile or two further
brought us to the grounds and palace of Hampton Court, the end and aim
of our journey.

This palace was built by the famous Cardinal Wolsey, so long the proud,
powerful, avaricious and corrupt favorite of Henry VIII. Wolsey
commenced it in 1515. Being larger and more splendid than any royal
palace then in being, its erection was played upon by rival courtiers to
excite the King to envy and jealousy of his Premier–whereupon Wolsey
gave it outright to the monarch, who gave him the manor of Richmond in
requital. Wolsey’s disgrace, downfall and death soon followed; but I
leave their portrayal to Hume and Shakspeare. This palace became a
favorite residence of Henry VIII. Edward VI. was born here; Queen Mary
spent her honeymoon here, after her marriage with Philip of Spain;
Queen Elizabeth held many great festivals here; James I. lived and Queen
Anne his wife died here; Charles I. retired here first from the Plague,
and afterwards to escape the just resentment of London in the time of
the Great Rebellion. After his capture, he was imprisoned here. Cromwell
saw one daughter married and another die during his residence in this
palace. William III., Queen Anne, George I. and George II. occasionally
resided here; but it has not been a regal residence since the death of
the latter. Yet the grounds are still admirably kept; the shrubbery,
park, fish-pond, &c. are quite attractive; while a famous grape-vine, 83
years old, bears some 1,100 pounds per annum of the choicest “Black
Hamburghs,” which are reserved for the royal table, and (being under
glass) are said to keep fresh and sweet on the vine till February. A
fine avenue of trees leads down to the Thames, and the grounds are gay
with the flowers of the season. The Park is very large, and the location
one of the healthiest in the kingdom.

Hampton Court Palace, though surrounded by guards and other
appurtenances of Royalty, is only inhabited by decayed servants of the
Court, impoverished and broken-down scions of the Aristocracy, &c. to
whom the royal generosity proffers a subsistence within its walls. I
suppose about two-thirds of it are thus occupied, while the residue is
thrown open at certain hours to the public. I spent two hours in
wandering through this portion, consisting of thirty-four rooms, mainly
attractive by reason of the Paintings and other works of Art displayed
on their walls. As a whole, the collection is by no means good, the best
having been gradually abstracted to adorn those Palaces which Royalty
still condescends to inhabit, while worse and worst are removed from
those and deposited here; yet it was interesting to me to gaze at
undoubted originals by Raphael, Titian, Poussin, Rembrandt, Teniers,
Albert Durer, Leonardo da Vinci, Tintoretto, Kneller, Lely, &c., though
not their master-pieces. The whole number of pictures, &c. here
exhibited is something over One Thousand, probably five-sixths
Portraits. Some of these have a strong Historical interest apart from
their artistic merit. Loyola, Queen Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn, Admiral
Benbow, William III., Mary Queen of Scots, Mary de Medicis, Louis XIV.,
are a few among scores of this character. The Cartoons of Raphael and
some beautifully, richly stained glass windows are also to be seen. The
bed-rooms of William III., Queen Anne, and I think other sovereigns,
retain the beds as they were left; but little other furniture remains,
the mirrors excepted. I think Americans who have a day to spare in
London may spend it agreeably in visiting this Palace, especially as
British Royal Residences and galleries are reputed not very accessible
to common people. At this one, every reasonable facility is afforded,
and no gratuities are solicited or expected by those in attendance. I
should prefer a day for such a jaunt on which there are fewer squalls of
hail, snow and rain than we encountered–which in May can hardly be
deemed unreasonable–but if no better can be found, take such as may
come and make the best of it. This Palace is a good deal larger on the
ground than our Capitol–larger than the Astor House, but, being less
lofty, contains (I should judge) fewer rooms than that capacious
structure. It is built mainly of brick, and if it has great
Architectural merits I fail to discern them.


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