You might have noticed there have been less updates lately, and there might be less in the near future. I’m very sorry, I’m just too busy right now.
In the mean time, I picked up an absolutely marvellous book by Hugh and Pauline Massingham called The London Anthology , which consists of fragments of letters and journals describing all kinds of events in London, from the 14th century up to the 1950s. I’ll probably be quoting from it a lot. Here is something funny that Dickens wrote about the Great Exhibition of 1851.
July 11, 1851:…I find I am “used up” by the Exhibition. I don’t say “there is nothing in it”–there is too much. I have only been twice; so many things bewilder me. I have a natural horror of sights, and the fusion of so many sights in one has not decreased it.
I am not sure that I have seen anything but the fountain and perhaps the Amazon. It is a dreadful thing to be obliged to be false, but when any one says, “Have you seen…?” I say “Yes”, because if I don’t, I know he’ll explain it, and I can’t bear that
[T]ook all the school one day. The school was composed of a hundred “infants”, who got among the horses’ legs in crossing to the main entrance from the Kensington Gate, and came reeling out from between the wheels of coaches undisturbed in mind. They were clinging to horses, I am told, all over the park. When they were collected and added up by frantic monitors, they were all right. They were then regaled with cake, etc., and went tottering and staring all over the place; the greater part wetting their forefingers and drawing a wavy pattern on every accessible object.
One infant strayed. He was not missed. Ninety and nine were taken home, supposed to be the whole collection, but this particular infant went to Hammersmith. He was found by the police at night, going round and round the turnpike, which he still supposed to be a part of the Exhibition. He had the same opinion of the police, also of Hammersmith workhouse, where he passed the night. When his mother came for him in the morning, he asked when it would be over? It was a great Exhibition, he said, but he thought it long.