« PreviousContinue »
delightful. The river Thames is the largest river in England ; and when we came within about five miles of London, we were surprised at the amazing number of vessels, from the humble barge to the more beautiful ships and steamers of all descriptions. The colliers were the most numerous, and vessels were anchored close to each other, and the river seemed to be almost covered with vessels; and the masts and yards give it the appearance of a forest at a distance. Indeed, there were to be found ships from all parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America ; and a great number of steamers ply about, in all directions, filled with passengers.
None of our countrymen can form an idea of this noble river, and the shipping on it. The English may well be proud of it, though a small stream, compared to some of the largest rivers of the world. The traffic that is carried on, is, we may say, not to be surpassed by any.
London is said to be at present the metropolis of the commercial world, and we never can doubt the assertion, because we have had opportunities of seeing the extensive trade carried on, and the means the English have of supplying the world with the produce of their labour and industry.
It was nearly dusk when we arrived at London Bridge, notwithstanding which, an immense number of persons flocked round us to view our costume; for in addition to our two selves, we were
accompanied by a friend, and also by two of our domestics, and five individuals in the Parsee costume, collected quite a mob, through which it was difficult to pass to our carriage; we think quite a thousand persons were congregated together. We proceeded through the city of London to the Portland Hotel, where arrangements for our reception had been previously made. And from the immense number of people, and vehicles of every description, that we saw hurrying along, apparently in great haste, and from the increasing noise, we were apprehensive that some public commotion had taken place, or that there was some grand spectacle to be witnessed, towards which they were thus hastening. But yet it appeared so odd, that there was as much haste and desire to get forward in those who moved eastward, as well as in those who were progressing westward. Every street down which we looked, appeared to be pouring out countless multitudes to swell the throng. And we were lost in conjecture as to what this bustle could possibly mean. But when we were afterwards informed that this constant tide of human beings was to be witnessed every day for twelve or fourteen hours, we were, indeed, lost in amazement, at the myriads that must exist in London, to furnish out of doors such an exhibition of people.
INTRODUCTION TO SIR CHARLES FORBES. THE
DIORAMA AND THE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS.
We were honored by being called upon by our kind and worthy friend Sir Charles Forbes, Bart. his son George Forbes, Esq. and Captain Cogan. Sir Charles Forbes very kindly took us to the Regent's Park, where John Romer Esq. late Councellor and acting Governor at Bombay, resided, and to whom we had letters of introduction ; we were handsomely received by him.
Sir Charles then took us to see an exhibition called the Diorama, situated in the Park.
It is a most extraordinary optical illusion. Upon our entering we beheld as we believed the interior of a spacious building, intended to represent the interior of a church at Florence ; most beautiful were its fittings, and its style of architecture was magnificent; whilst we were looking on in wonder and surprise, it became enveloped in flames, and we much regretted to see so beautiful a place thus destroyed. The fire continued to rage until all the decorations and fittings disappeared, one after the other, and in a short time we saw only
a mass of ruins, where we had just previously been gazing upon that beautiful building. We have since learned that the mode adopted to produce this imposing spectacle is a modification of an exhibition called the Phantasmagoria, which some forty years ago used to fill crowded audiences with much terror. Spectral figures appearing to approach, and retire ; appearing sometimes as small as a rupee and gradually assuming a colossal stature, and then again gradually becoming less and less until finally disappearing. It is managed with a magic lanthorn prepared especially with lenses of great power, and the shadow is caught and embodied upon very fine muslin, which is drawn across between the lanthorn and the beholders, and the light is judiciously admitted from above and at the sides, and the fire of course is merely chemical or false fire,—at all events it was to us a very great treat. The terms of admission is two shillings.
Sir Charles Forbes in the afternoon of the same day, took us in his carriage to a most lovely spot in the Park, called the Zoological Gardens; on our way thither we saw a great number of very elegant carriages, drawn by beautiful spirited horses, with harness of superior description, and the coachmen and servants behind the carriages dressed in liveries of every known colour ; within the carriages as they swiftly rolled by, we saw many women, fair and with light hair, many
of them appeared to us most beautiful. All of them appeared to have mild blue eyes, and very sweet expression of countenance, and we more of female beauty in a few hours, than we had ever beheld in all our lives.
The buildings within the Park are magnificent. This establishment is kept up by annual subscription and every subscriber has an limited number of tickets, which admit themselves and the resident members of their families gratuitously, and any other person who may present them upon payment of one shilling each.
Within this garden, in appropriate buildings, are congregated almost every description of foreign and domestic animals and birds. From the lordly half reasoning Elephant down to Mice, and from the Ostrich and Cassowary down to the Humming Bird. There are Lions, Tigers, Panthers, Bears, Wolves, Hyenas, Jackalls, Wild Boars, Zebras, and indeed all and every known animal. Of the monkey tribe there were hundreds, from the Ourang-Otang to the little Marmoset no longer than a Rat. And to see their antics and freaks perpetually in motion, squeaking, grinning, making all sorts of grimaces is very amusing.
The birds were of all sorts ; of the Parrot and Macaw sort, there were several score. And oh! how beautiful were they, scarlet, green, gray, white, all the colours of the rainbow. Eagles of every known sort. Owls a great number. Hawks