Imatges de pÓgina


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M. JULIUS RODENBERG, in whose company our readers will remember that we made, some months back, a pleasant autumn trip to Wales, has since that period paid another flying visit to our metropolis, and has recorded his travelling impressions for the benefit of his German countrymen in an unpretending little volume. We have selected it for analysis from the fact that M. Rodenberg does not follow the usual silly fashion of continentals visiting our country, who abuse our institutions because they cannot understand them, but writes modestly and temperately. appears to have studied his facts carefully, and they consequently possess some value even for ourselves. And it is high time that such information should be afforded to the German public, for the impression seems almost indelible among them that England is only inhabited by the tremendously rich and the frightfully poor. M. Rodenberg's sketches of London life will therefore serve a useful purpose, for they bear the impress of truth, and cannot but remove grave misconceptions now obtaining in his fatherland as to the social condition of Old England. M. Rodenberg came to our shores from Bremen, and the

voyagers collected on board the steamer spoke volumes as to the migratory tendencies of the Germans. Among them was a student not thirty years

of he had already gone through a lifetime of adventure. He had served as officer in the Schleswig-Holstein campaign. Gaining nothing by this, save sundry wounds, he emigrated to Australia, where he was a golddigger for six years. Thence he returned home, poor as he had started, andwas now emigrating for a second time to America. Another had been four years in Lima; a third, ten years in the Moluccas ; a young man of twenty was starting for Ceylon, in the confident hope of making a fortune; while the captain of the steamer had visited Patagonia, and was engaged during the Crimean war in the French transport service. The truth is, if you want to find real Germans, you must not seek them on the Continent: there they are Prussians, Bavarians, and what not; but London, Quebec, and Buenos-Ayres, and you will find them in their integrity. The most amusing character on board was a Polish Jew, visiting England for the first time on business, and who was of very saving tendencies, for he ate nothiug the whole day, but seemed to live on the smoke of penny cigars. As he justly observed, “ A man must have some pleasure : I don't snuff, drink, or carry a stick, so I smoke.” His notions of England were, to say the least of them, vague : he had heard that it was an island, and, on inquiry, discovered that this meant land lying in the water. Hence he assumed that the English were all fish, and as he was told that it was so dark there that you could not see your

hand before your face, that fully accounted for the number of thieves who lay in wait to devour the unwary traveller. But when he landed, the worthy Hebrew found out his mistake. Here is how he described his disillusionising to our author when he met him in Regent-street:

My poor friend was in the seventh heaven of delight, for things were not so bad in England as he had anticipated. “Don't talk to me of an island : what's an island ? I see no water and I hear no water. How can England be an island ?

go to It is a large,' handsome city, in which there are large, handsome houses, and long streets, and lots of trade. I was told that on an island people went about in boats. Where have I seen any? I have seen lots of carriages and horses, but no boats. They say, too, that on an island the folks go about in bearskins. Nonsense! they wear round hats, and long coats down to their feet, but no bearskins. On an island there are wild beasts, too. I have seen cats, and I have seen dogs, but where are the wild animals? They say that on an island there is nothing to eat. Why, I saw two fine gentlemen eat a whole quarter of lamb and throw the bones under a chest of drawers. On an island there are no manners, so I was told. Why, they gave me in the house where I live a room three stories high. The woman comes and asks me whether I would dine upstairs or down stairs. I ask, “Which is the cheaper ?' She says, Down stairs. So I say, 'I'll have down stairs. "Well!' she said; and went down. I cleaned myself, and sat down and waited-how long shall I say ?-why, threequarters of an hour. Where is my dinner ?" I ask, when it did not arrive. It has been waiting for you half an hour down stairs,' was the answer. "Why don't you bring it up?" I ask; and they asked if I had not requested to dine down stairs. I said yes, and asked them to show the down-stairs the way to my room. But they only laughed, and said that when a person had engaged a down. stair room he must come down to it. Then I said that I did not know it, but if that was the custom on an island, I would come down and eat the downstairs there; and so I eat roast mutton and potatoes, which they call down. stairs on an island. Talk about an island, I only wish I lived on an island, and could feed on down-stairs all



Even M. Rodenberg, old visitor though he was to our shores, was overpowered by the pirates who await the new comer in the purlieus of the docks. He gave the boatman a five-shilling piece to get change, while he seated himself on his trunk; but he might be sitting there to this day if he expected to see him again. Not a policeman or cab was visible—they are only to be found when they are not wanted. He sent a boy to fetch a vehicle-that cost a shilling ; carrying the trunk, another : altogether, M. Rodenberg calculates that it cost him as much to reach his hotel as the entire passage from Bremen to London. This is, indeed, a crying evil, and not foreigners alone have to complain of it; even Paterfamilias, on returning from the Continent with his family and a decent amount of trunks, will expend more oaths in defending his property from the land-rats who infest St. Katharine's Docks than become an eminent citizen. The only remedy we have found applicable is to hit the gentry over the knuckles with a stout stick; they may show fight, but a determined rush will usually keep them at bay. Another thing that surprised M. Rodenberg was on visiting his old barber's shop, which he had not entered for two years ; the only remark the barber made was that he had not seen him for a long time. In Germany, the master would have been in a fever of agitation till he had found out what had kept his customer away so long; but London is so large ! “ Who asks the globule in the sea whether it swam yesterday in the Scheldt, or crossed the Channel in a cloud ? The only remark the barber made was that the weather was very fine, considering."

M. Rodenberg insists that the stranger desirous of finding spring in London must only seek it at the West-end. The only idea of spring the City possesses is in the faded roses ragged girls offer for sale at a penny each. On the other hand, the West-end is nothing when spring has passed, and it is everything when spring is present : seat of politics and fashions, rendezvous of nations, and altar of all arts. The West-end. knows only the season ; at all other periods of the year it is dead. But let our author speak for himself :

It seemed strange to the German, who spent the spring of 1858 as a quiet observer here, and who more than any one else recognises the value of English institutions for the future development of the world, to notice how jovially London spent its season--visited the theatres, and patronised concerts—while England's sons were bleeding in India, and her fathers discussing vital questions in parliament. It was once again one of those peculiar traits in the character of the Englishman which, like his country, his language, and his population, bears the stamp of contradiction and amalgamation. There are districts in this country where an eternal spring rules, while the storms of autumn ever howl through the Highlands, over the Hebrides, and round Snowdon. There sun and luxuriant verdure on an undulating soil; here, mist and fog ainid rocks and desolation. There is the same shadowing in the language-Saxon roughness, Norman boldness, and Romanic southland echoes full of grace and softness. And, then, the people who inhabit this country and speak this language! here, the hornyhanded sail the descendant of the Frieze and the Angle ; here, the well-to-do farmer, with his velveteen jacket and broad-brinmed hat-the relative of the low Saxon boor. There, the haughty baron, whose ancestors followed the banner of the conquering William from the coasts of Normandy; there, too, the wild inhabitants of Scottish mountains and islands in gaudy_plaid, with feathers and claymore ; and there, in the mud hovels of Western Ireland, poor Paddy, who believes in the shamrock, Pope, and fairies; there, again, in the coal mines and slate quarries of Wales, the last of the Cimmerians, who calls Troy his home and Priam his ancestor. Ah, these poor Celts, resembling a centenarian among blooming lads—a riddle for the bistorian, and an elegy for the poet. And what keeps all these components together, which appear so centrifugal and contradictory ? The sea that begirds them, the rocky coasts that confine them, the insular isolation by which they are compelled into assimilation. The Englishman, who begins every word with a small letter, and only writes his own great “I” with a capital, is the man who has covered the narrow soil of his home foot by foot with factories, and forces the rest of the world to buy their productions, for the sea that separates other lands from his connects him with them, and the isolation in which he lives renders him doubly bold and daring abroad. He is the man who, as a naturalist, mounts to the ice and snow clouds of the Chimbo. razo, and investigates the glowing entrails of Etna; who follows a desolating war as reporter, and, to gain a bet, dares all the menaces of the Hellespont in an open sailing boat; he is the successor of the Roman, who, when dying beneath the lictors' rods, cried, “ Civis Romanus sum;" he is idealist and materialist, pedlar and knight, Philistine and adventurer ;-he is everything, because he is, in reality, nothing but an egotist. Each man lives and dies on the spot he has selected for himself. Havelock is dead ; Colin Campbell may die ; Palmerston has fallen and risen; Disraeli has risen and fallen; while a turn of the wheel may to-morrow thrust all the others into the turmoil of public life. But as to-day they are away from business and secure from danger, why should they not keep up the season, visit the theatres, and patronise concerts ? “One for all, and all for one,” that is German; “Each for himself,” that is English!

It is all very fine for a German to flatter his countrymen at the expense of England, but that grand flourish about vational disinterestedness is “bunkum.” One for all and all for one-they showed pretty plainly, in the revolution of 1848, how far this sentiment prevailed. Still, there is some truth in our excerpt, and we, for that reason, gave it room, asking our readers to accept it with the necessary grain of salt.

The chapter which M. Rodenberg devotes to the “Night side of London,” deserves perusal, for it tends to do away with that absurd notion , which would render London the most moral capital in the world, because

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our vice is concealed. The Times did good service in this cause recently by an analysis it gave of the cases tried in the Divorce Court, which went

that the old myth about the aristocrats being the only immoral persons was a fallacy. We will make one extract, as showing how careful an observer M. Rodenberg has been of our institutions :

He who would see Petticoat-lane in its glory must visit it on Sunday morning. When Big Ben summons the faithful to public worship, when the aisles of St. Paul's are filled with pious men and women, then the dirty side streets of Houndsditch grow lively, and business commences. In the centre is a low, rambling building, with tottering roof and rapidly decaying woodwork. It bears, in letters which wind and time have almost eifaced, the inscription “Old Clothes Exchange." It is a labyrinth of gloomy passages, hung with old coats and trousers, dilapidated feather-beds, and worn-out boots. Beneath these trophies sit old, fat women, who exchange coarse jokes with the passers-by, and invite them to buy or sell. They are so hot on business that they almost rend their customers asunder. When I entered, I had a great-coat hanging on my

At once I was surrounded by three or four women, and in a second they had torn the coat from me, and were quarrelling about the right of pre-emption. “Two shillings, sir,” one said. I'll give you half-a-crown,” another shouted in my ear. "It is worth three shillings, and here is the monish, sir,” another yelled, and offered me a handful of coppers. I had great difficulty in explaining to the women that I had no intention of selling the coat, and still greater difficulty in getting it back. It was only the threat of calling a policeman that rescued it, and I was compelled to put it on to save myself from further unpleasantness.

Strangely enough, M. Rodenberg has a good word to say for the Thames! He declares that in July and August it is the only cooling offered to the Londoner. The long, broad, endless streets, full of sun and omnibuses, remind the passenger of the desert-a desert without oasis, without shade, without cooling beverage. English beer only excites thirst, and the water in Londoni, during summer, is thick and warm as the air.

Were it not for night and the Thames, how would it be possible to pass a summer in London? There is one thing to be said in favour of M. Rodenberg, he is the first foreigner who has allowed that we possess a sun. Who can forget the story of the Persian ambassador, who, when asked by a lady of fashion whether he did not worship the sun, sagely replied, " And so would you, ma'am, if ever you saw him.” The real fact is that the sun in London, during the summer, is as broiling as in any portion of the habitable world, and it was only this very year that we heard an Indian lady complain at Quartermaine's, that she had never felt it so oppressive in her native land. We owe M. Rodenberg thanks for exposing this vulgar error, for, to our knowledge, there are many of his countrymen who still regard us as 'Hyperboreans. The truth is, though, that our author only regards the Thames in its connexion with Cremorne, to which enchanted spot he pays all proper respect : there is, after all, no such place in the universe : Mabille, Closerie des Lilas, all the Parisian suburban gardens of Armida, pale before our peculiar institution. On this point our author fully agrees with us:

You enter a peculiar world when you proceed to Cremorne. It is that world which has thrust itself between the two other worlds, between the high world and the world of common life-a world which has no foundation in the tradi. tional order of things, and which floats in the air like a dream. Since the age of the learned Socrates there have been circles in which the mind dared to emancipate itself-unwatched by the spies of responsible morality-and in these

circles of emancipation celebrated women have ever been the priestesses. What were the “ bureaux d'esprit” in the time of the Regency and the

coffee-houses at the end of the eighteenth century else? Were not Madame de Tencin, Madame Geoffrin, Madame Dudeffant, and Mademoiselle de l'Espinasse the Aspasias of encyclopædistic Paris? And was not Lady Montague the grandmother of all the blue-stockings on both sides the Channel? In fact, it was a merry society, this “bonne compagnie," of whom Voltaire writes that they spoke like honest people and behaved like canaille. Still there was life and strength in them. They made the Platonic republic and prepared the French revolution. They possessed talent and wit, and had their scientific and historic value. Our demimonde boasts nought but a slight amount of patchouli and crinoline, but any quantity of Verdi and Dumas fils. This world has conquered its place in society-taken possession of our stage. Innocent girls of sixteen play their melodies on the piano, and their romances are translated into all living languages : sentimental sensuality is their sphere, and their empire extends so far as Verdi is sung and Dumas read. They are the two great apostles of this latest spiritual manifestation. We in Germany are angry because Verdi is placed on our stage side by side with Mozart, and that managers dare to present to us the Ladies with the Camellias and the Natural Sons of the younger Dumas. But what would you have ?. You are astonished at the consequences and never think of the reason. Verdi is Italian and Dumas French. It is a Romanic evil, which we Saxons in Germany and England merely copy-at times, too, in a rather clumsy and stupid fashion.

According to our author, the great fault of the English is want of taste: if they attempt to imitate French lightness and elegance, they produce a caricature; and when they transfer to their social system the freedom of mental movement (Heaven save the mark!) which characterises German society, they only become “wooden copyists.” The result is, that they are childishly naïve, and are imposed upon daily by monstrosities. "Giant meetings, giant concerts, giant ships are English household words: any effect must be produced en masse, and nothing imposes on them so much as lofty show-windows and huge boards. They allow themselves to be deceived like inexperienced rustics, and swear by everything that appears in print. Hence, the extraordinary power the press exercises upon them, and, as a natural consequence, the value of every description of advertising. The fact is, that the Germans are so far behind the rest of the world, that they have not yet appreciated the necessity for advertising as an essential branch of progress : Hans Michel is content to do the same trade as his father before him, and has no idea of making a fortune. He is satisfied with being able to drink his chopine, and have his friends round him on his anniversary, but, beyond that, he takes no interest in the outer world. Hence, though M. Rodenberg may poke his fun at the unparalleled extension advertising has gained among us, he is not a fair judge in the matter. Were he to take up a Cincinnati paper, for instance, and see how largely his countrymen in America avail themselves of publicity, he might be induced to alter his opinion. Among us advertising is assuming the proportions of an art, and one of the great “pillers” of the state has just offered a reward of one thousand pounds to the man who will show him how to expend other ten thousand in a novel mode-of course, profitable to himself and his pills. This chapter of his book, however, enables M. Rodenberg to make sensible remarks worthy quotation:

The most interesting feature of the London night advertisements is the "Judge and Jury Society," which begins its sittings about nine and terminates

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