Page images
PDF
EPUB

Her Majesty with her suite and all the fashionable people in London, including the nobility, are to be seen either on handsome horses or in magnificent carriages moving steadily along and nodding to each other, and on Sundays from two until five in addition to all the carriages and horses, thousands of well dressed people of both sexes may be seen walking: there are five entrances open from sun-rise until nine at night.

The Regent's Park is considerably more to the northward and has enclosed about four hundred and fifty acres. This park has all around it magnificent houses looking into it, built in every varied style of architecture. At the south end is an immense building called the Coliseum which we visited and will describe at length as it deserves ; at the end of the park is the Diorama, which we have described, and the Zoological Gardens are also in Regent's Park which we have before noticed ; we consider these parks as most conducive to the health of the inhabitants of London. All these parks are inclosed in by iron railings with handsome gateways and they are infinitely superior to the Esplanade at Bombay, the only place of resort for the public near that.city ; here is to be found pure air, healthful exercise can be taken, and here at eertain hours every day, more wealth, more respectability, more beauty, is to be seen collected in one spot than is to be found congregated in any other part of the world.

CHAPTER X.

THEATRES.

THE ITALIAN OPERA.–We were sent by our kind friend, Sir Charles Forbes, to the Italian Opera House, called the Queen's Theatre. It is situated at the corner of the Haymarket and Pall Mall, and is considered the most splendid of all the London Theatres; and the richest and most fashionable of the inhabitants of London are to be seen within its walls. The boxes will hold nine hundred persons, and the pit and gallery eight hundred each, thus two thousand five hundred persons can be accommodated. The stage is sixty feet deep and eighty feet long, thus affording plenty of room for the beautiful dancing. This is one of the best and most respectable places of amusement, patronised by the Queen and the nobility, many of whom have boxes hired for the season, entirely for their own use, and for which they pay a large sum of money. The Queen's box is easily distinguished from the others by the richness of its fittings. It is on the first tier, and the first from the stage on the left

hand side. We were highly delighted with it, and the number of people that were congregated. It is indeed always fully crowded when her Majesty honours it with her presence, which she very frequently does. On the evening that we were there, part of the performance was “William Tell,” who had struggled in former times for the liberty of Switzerland, and who, being an expert marksman, had to shoot with an arrow by a tyrant's command, an apple from the head of his son, which he did. The Queen was present, and from our situation we had an excellent opportunity of the honour of seeing her. She was elegantly but simply dressed in white, and looked as happy as a queen could look surrounded by wealth, beauty, and by people who dearly loved her. Upon the stage we saw a great many females dressed exactly alike, all very handsome, dancing and performing difficult evolutions, standing upon one leg, and whirling rapidly round, with the other stretched straight out. It was the last evening upon which Taglioni, the favorite French dancer, was to dance in England, and an English friend who accompanied us very frequently asked us how we liked her dancing. He, for his part, was very much delighted with it, but to us it appeared of very little interest; and we were very much surprised to hear that for every night that she had appeared upon the stage she had been paid one hundred and fifty guineas !!! Only think,- one hundred and fifty guineas every night to be paid in England to a woman to stand for a long time like a goose upon one leg, then to throw one leg straight out, twirl round three or four times with the leg thus extended, to curtsey so low as to nearly seat herself upon the ground, to spring occasionally from one side of the stage to another; all of which jumping about did not, on her part, occupy an hour; and to get more money for that hour every evening, than six weavers in Spitalfields (who produce beautiful silk for dresses) could earn all of them, working fourteen hours every day, in twelve months! It does appear so absurd that a dancing woman should thus take out of English pockets every night, for an hour's jumping, more than would keep six weavers of silk, their wives and families, for a whole year. Had we not seen instances that convinced us the English were clever people, we should have thought them very foolish indeed thus to pay a dancing puppet.

This, together with the elegant and fashionable dresses of the ladies in the boxes, of a variety of colours; the chaste and appropriate decoration of the interior of the house; the brilliancy of the gas lights, and the multitude of wax candles; the soft and melodious harmony of the music; afforded us the most magnificent and grand spectacle we had ever beheld. Improper persons are not allowed to enter this place, and we saw one man

expelled without any ceremony, on account of some improper liberties he had taken. There is also a large and handsomely fitted-up refreshment room attached to this house, where refreshments, such as pastry, fruit, and the favorite beverages of the seasons, are to be procured. The visitors, at least many of them, resort to this place in the intervals of the different acts. The expenses of this establishment must be enormous, as they pay the singers many thousands a year, at least the principal ones, and some of the best dancers are paid very largely; and there are such beautiful performers on the musical instruments, that they and the swarm of dancers must cost much money. The boxes are, most of them, subscribed for the season; but boxes and stalls may be engaged by going to booksellers’ at the west end of London, at fourteen shillings and sixpence, pit tickets are eight shillings and sixpence each, and the admission to the gallery is five shillings.

DRURY LANE THEATRE.—This is a very large place, with a noble external appearance; it is 131 feet by 237 feet. There are boxes, pit, and two galleries; admission one shilling and two shillings to the different galleries, three shillings and sixpence to the pit, and five shillings to the boxes. There is a box for the queen, and several private boxes; the lower tier of boxes is called the dress circle, where none are admitted except the well dressed. It was full, but of quite a different

« PreviousContinue »