THE King of England is not a frequent visitor to the City of London, meaning by ‘the City’ that square mile or so of old London whose political destinies are in the keeping of the Lord Mayor, of which the Bank of England is almost the exact centre, St. Paul’s the highest ground, and Temple Bar the western boundary.
It might be said that the King is the only man in England who has no business in the City. His duties are in the West End — in Westminster; but to the City he goes on state occasions; and it so happened that several years ago I was in London on one of them.
I had reached London only the night before, and I did not know that anything out of the ordinary was going on, until over my breakfast of bacon and eggs — and such bacon!—I unfolded my Times and learned that their Majesties were that morning going in state to St. Paul’s Cathedral to give thanks for their safe return from India. It was not known that they had been in any great peril in India; but royal progresses are, I suppose, always attended with a certain amount of danger. At any rate, the King and Queen had reached home safely, and wanted to give thanks, according to historic precedent, in St. Paul’s; and the ceremony was set for that very morning.
Inquiring at the office of my hotel in Piccadilly, I learned that the Royal procession would pass the doors in something over an hour, and that the windows of a certain drawing-room wereat my disposal. It would have been more comfortable to view the Royal party from a drawing-room of the Carlton; but what I wanted to see would take place at Temple Bar; so, my breakfast dispatched, I sallied forth to take up my position in the crowded street.
It was in February — a dark, gloomy, typical London morning. The bunting and decorations, everywhere apparent, had suffered sadly from the previous night’s rain and were flapping dismally in the cold, raw air; and the streets, though crowded, wore a look of hopeless dejection.
I am never so happy as in London. I know it well, if a man can be said to know London well, and its streets are always interesting to me; but the Strand is not my favorite street. It has changed its character sadly in recent years. The Strand no longer suggests interesting shops and the best, theatres; and I grieve to think of the ravages that time and Hall Caine have made in the Lyceum, which was once Irving’s, where I saw him so often in his, and my, heyday. However, my way took me to the Strand, and, passing Charing Cross, I quoted to myself Dr. Johnson’s famous remark, ‘ Fleet Street has a very animated appearance; but the full tide of human existence is at Charing Cross.’ As I neared the site of Temple Bar, however, I observed that, for this morning, at any rate, the tide was setting toward the City.
My progress through the crowed was slow, but I finally reached my objective point, the Griffin, which marks the spot where for many centuries Temple Bar stood. Taking up my position just in front of the rather absurd monument, which forms an ‘island’ in the middle of the street, I waited patiently for the simple but historic and picturesque ceremony to begin.
Before long the city dignitaries began to arrive. First came the Sheriffs and Aldermen in coaches of state, wearing their scarlet and ermine robes. Then a coach appeared, out of the window of which protruded the end of the great mace, emblem of City authority; and at last the Lord Mayor himself, in all his splendor, in a coach so wonderful in its gold and color that one might have supposed that it had been borrowed from Cinderella for the occasion.
While I was wondering how many times and under what varying conditions this bit of pageantry had been enacted on this very spot, a slight wave of cheering down the Strand apprized me of the approach of the Royal procession. The soldiers who lined both sides of the street became, at a word of command, more immovable than ever, standing at ‘attention,’ if that is the word which turns men into statues. At the same time a band began the national anthem, and this seemed the signal for the Mayor and his attendants to leave their coaches and group themselves just east of the monument. A moment later the Royal party, in carriages driven by postilions with outriders, swept by; but the state carriage in which sat the King and Queen was brought to a halt immediately in front of the City party.
The Lord Mayor, carrying his jeweled sword in his hand, bowed low before his sovereign, who remained seated in the open carriage. Words, I presume, were spoken. I saw the Lord Mayor extend his greetings and tender his sword to the King, who, saluting, placed his hand upon its hilt and seemed to congratulate the City upon its being in such safe keeping. The crowd cheered — not very heartily; but history was in the making, and the true Londoner, although he might not like to confess it, still takes a lively interest in these scenes which link him to the past.
While the City officials, their precious sword — it was a gift from Queen Elizabeth — still in their keeping, were returning to their coaches and taking their places, there was a moment’s delay, which gave me a good opportunity of observing the King and his consort. He looked very like his photograph and equally like his cousin, the Tsar of Russia. The Queen looked every inch a very plain English gentlewoman.
The Lord Mayor and his suite, having resumed their places, were driven rapidly down Fleet Street toward St. Paul’s, the Royal party following them. The whole ceremony at Temple Bar, the shadow of former ceremonies hardly more real, had not occupied much over five minutes. The crowd dispersed, Fleet Street and the Strand immediately resumed their wonted appearance except for the bunting and decorations, and I was left to discuss with myself the question, what does this king business really mean?
Many years ago Andrew Carnegie wrote a book, Triumphant Democracy, in which, as I vaguely remember, he likened our form of government to a pyramid standing on its base, while a pyramid representing Great Britain was standing on its apex. There is no doubt whatever that a pyramid looks more comfortable on its base than on its apex; but let us drop these facile illustrations of strength and weakness and ask ourselves, ‘In what way are we better off, politically, than the English?’
In theory, the king, from whom no real authority flows, may seem a little bit ridiculous, but in practice how admirably the English have learned to use him! If he is great enough to exert a powerful influence on the nation for good, his position gives him an immense opportunity. How great his power is, we do not know, — it is not written down in books, — but he has it. If, on the other hand, he has not the full confidence of the people, if they mistrust his judgment, his power is circumscribed: wise men rule and Majesty does as Majesty is told to do.
‘We think of our Prime Minister as the wisest man in England for the time being,’ says Bagehot. The English scheme of government permits, indeed, necessitates, her greatest men entering politics, as we call it. Is it so with us?
Our plan, however excellent it may be in theory, in practice results in our having constantly to submit ourselves — those of us who must be governed— to capital operations at the hands of amateurs who are selected for the job by drawing straws. That we escape with our lives is due rather to our youth and hardy constitution than to the skill of the operators.
To keep the king out of mischief, he may be set the innocuous task of visiting hospitals, opening expositions, or laying corner-stones. Tapping a block of granite with a silver trowel, he declares it to be ‘well and truly laid,’ and no exception can be taken to the masterly manner in which the work is done. Occasionally, once a year or so, plain Bill Smith, who has made a fortune in the haberdashery line, say, bends the knee before him, and at a tap of a sword across his shoulder, arises Sir William Smith. Bill Smith was not selected for this honor by the king himself; certainly not! the king probably never heard of him; but the men who rule the nation, those in authority, for reasons sufficient if not good, selected Smith for ‘ birthday honors,’ and he is given a stake in the nation.
And so it goes. The knight may become a baronet, the baronet a baron, the baron a duke — this last not often now, only for very great service rendered the Empire; and with each advance in rank comes increase of responsibility — in theory, at least. Have our political theories worked out so well that we are justified in making fun of theirs, as we sometimes do? I think not. After our country has stood as well as England has the shocks which seven or ten centuries may bring it, we may have the right to say, ‘We order these things better at home.’
While musing thus, the Strand and Temple Bar of a century and a half ago rise up before me, and I notice coming along the footway a tall, burly old man, walking with a rolling gait, dressed in a brown coat with metal buttons, kneebreeches, and worsted stockings, with large silver buckles on his clumsy shoes. He seems like a wise old fellow, so I approach him and tell him who I am and of my perplexities.
‘What! sir, an American? They are a race of convicts and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.’ And then, seeing me somewhat disconcerted, he adds less ferociously, ‘I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than another.’ Saying which, he turns into a court off Fleet Street and is lost to view.
It is only after he has disappeared that I realize that I have been speaking to Dr. Johnson.
Just when the original posts, bars, and chains gave way to a building known as Temple Bar, we have no means of knowing. Honest John Stow, whose effigy in terra cotta still looks down on us from the wall of the Church of St. Andrew Undershaft, published his famous ‘Survay of [Elizabethan] London’ in 1598. In it he makes scant mention of Temple Bar; and this is the more remarkable because he describes so accurately many of the important buildings, and gives the exact location of every court and lane, every pump and well, in the London of his day.
Stow assures his readers that his accuracy cost him many a weary mile’s travel and many a hard-earned penny, and his authority has never been disputed. He refers to the place several times, but not to the gate itself. ‘Why this is, I have not heard, nor can I conjecture,’ to use a phrase of his; but we know that a building known as Temple Bar must have been standing when the ‘Survay ’ appeared; for it is clearly indicated in Aggas’s pictorial map of London, published a generation earlier; otherwise we might infer that in Stow’s time it was merely what he terms it, a ‘barre’ separating the liberties of London from Westminster — the city from the shire. It is obvious that it gets its name from that large group of buildings known as the Temple, which lies between Fleet Street and the river, long the quarters of the Knights Templar, and for centuries past the centre of legal learning in England.
Referring to the ‘new Temple by the Barre,’ Stow tells us that ‘over against it in the high street stand a payre of stockes’; and adds that the whole street ’from the Barre to the Savoy was commanded to be paved in the twentyfourth year of the reign of King Henry the sixt’ (this sturdy lad, it will be remembered, began to ‘reign’ when he was only nine months old), with ‘tole to be taken towards the charges thereof.’ This practice of taking ‘tole’ from all non-freemen at Temple Bar continued until after the middle of the nineteenth century, and fine confusion it must have caused. The charge of twopence each time a cart passed the City boundary finally aroused such an outcry against the ‘City turnpike’ that it was done away with. Whoever received this revenue must have heartily bewailed the passing of the good old days; for a few years before the custom was abandoned, the toll collected amounted to over seven thousand pounds per annum.
The first reference which seems to suggest a building dates back to the time when ‘Sweet Anne Bullen’ passed from the Tower to her coronation at Westminster, at which time the Fleet Street conduit poured forth red wine, and the city waits — or minstrels — ‘made music like a heavenly noyse.’ We know, too, that it was ‘a rude building,’ and that it was subsequently replaced by a substantial timber structure of classic appearance, with a pitched roof, spanning the street and gabled at each end. Old prints show us that it was composed of three arches — a large central arch for vehicular traffic, with smaller arches, one on each side, over the footway. All of the arches were provided with heavy oaken doors, studded with iron, which could be closed at night, or when unruly mobs, tempted to riot, threatened — and frequently carried out their threat—to disturb the peace of the city.
The City proper terminated at Lud Gate, about halfway up Ludgate Hill; but the jurisdiction of the City extended to Temple Bar, and those residing between the two gates were said to be within the liberties of the City and enjoyed its rights and privileges, among them that of passing through Temple Bar without paying toll. Although Lud Gate was the most important gate of the old city, originally forming a part of the old London wall, from time immemorial Temple Bar has been the great historic entrance to the City. At Temple Bar it was usual, upon an accession to the throne, the proclamation of a peace, or the overthrow of an enemy, for a state entry to be made into the City. The sovereign, attended by his trumpeters, would proceed to the closed gate and demand entrance. From the City side would come the inquiry, ‘Who comes here?’ and the herald having made reply, the Royal party would be admitted and conducted to the lord mayor.
With the roll of years this custom became slightly modified. When Queen Elizabeth visited St. Paul’s to return thanks for the defeat of the Spanish Armada, we read that, the herald and trumpeters having announced her arrival at the gate, the Lord Mayor advanced and surrendered the city sword to the Queen, who, after returning it to him, proceeded to St. Paul’s. On this occasion, as on all previous occasions, the sovereign was on horseback, Queen Elizabeth having declined to ride, as had been suggested, in a vehicle drawn by horses, on the ground that it was new-fangled and effeminate. For James I, for Charles I and Cromwell and Charles II, similar ceremonies were enacted, the coronation of Charles II being really magnificent and testifying to the joy of England in again having a king.
Queen Anne enters the City in a coach drawn by eight horses, ‘none with her but the Duchess of Marlborough, in a very plain garment, the Queen full of jewels,’ to give thanks for the victories of the Duke abroad; and so the stately historic procession winds through the centuries, always pausing at Temple Bar, right down to our own time.
But to return to the actual ‘fabrick,’ as Dr. Johnson would have called it. We learn that, soon after the accession of Charles II, old Temple Bar was marked for destruction. It was of wood, and, although ‘newly paynted and hanged’ for state occasions, it was felt that something more worthy of the great city, to which it gave entrance, should be erected. Inigo Jones was consulted and drew plans for a new gate, his idea being the erection of a really triumphant arch; but, as he died soon after, his plan was abandoned. Other architects with other plans came forward. At length, the King became interested in the project and promised money toward its accomplishment; but Charles II was an easy promiser, and as the money he promised belonged to someone else, nothing came of it. While the project was being thus discussed, the plague broke out, followed by the fire which destroyed so much of old London, and public attention was so earnestly directed to the rebuilding of London itself that the gate, for a time, was forgotten.
Temple Bar had escaped the flames, but the rebuilding of London occasioned by the fire gave Christopher Wren his great opportunity. A new St. Paul’s with its ‘mighty mothering dome,’ a lasting monument to his genius, was erected, and churches innumerable, the towers and spires of which still point, the way to heaven — instructions which, we may suspect, are neglected when we see how deserted they are; but they serve, at least, to add charm and interest to a ramble through the City.
Great confusion resulted from the fire; but London was quick to see that order must be restored, and it is much to be regretted that Wren’s scheme for replanning the entire burned district was not carried out. Fleet Street was less than twenty-four feet wide at Temple Bar — not from curb to curb, for there was none, but from house to house. This was the time to rebuild London; although something was done, much was neglected, and Wren was finally commissioned to build a new gate of almost the exact dimensions of the old one.
The work was begun in 1670 and progressed slowly, for it was not finished until two years later. What a fine interruption to traffic its rebuilding must have occasioned! Constructed entirely of Portland stone, the same material as St. Paul’s, it consisted, like the old one, of three arches— a large flattened centre arch, with small semicircular arches on either side. Above the centre arch was a large window, which gave light and air to a spacious chamber within; while on either side of the window were niches, in which were placed statues of King James and his Queen, Anne of Denmark, on the City side and of Charles I and Charles II on the Westminster side.
The curious may wish to know that the mason was Joshua Marshall, whose father had been at one time mastermason to Charles I; that the sculptor of the statues was John Bushnell, who died insane; and that the cost of the whole — including the statues at four hundred and eighty pounds — was but thirteen hundred and ninety-seven pounds, ten shillings.
The fog and soot and smoke of London soon give the newest building an appearance of age, and mercifully bring it into harmony with its surroundings. Almost before the new gate was completed, it had that appearance; and before it had a chance to grow really old, there arose a demand for its removal altogether. Petitions praying for its destruction were circulated and signed. Verse, at least, if not poetry, urging its retention, was both written and printed.
You ’ll blend in one mass, prudent, worthless and witty.
If you league cit and lordling, as brother and brother,
You’ll break order’s chain and they’ll war with each other.
Like the Great Wall of China, it keeps out the Tartars
From making irruptions, where industry barters.
Like Samson’s Wild Foxes, they’ll fire your houses,
And madden your spinsters, and cousin your spouses.
They ’ll destroy in one sweep, both the Mart and the Forum,
Which your fathers held dear, and their fathers before ’em.
But, attacked by strong city men and defended only by sentiment, Temple Bar still continued to impede traffic and shut out light and air, while the generations who fought for its removal passed to their rest. It became the subject of jokes and conundrums. Why is Temple Bar like a lady’s veil? it was asked; the answer being that both must be raised (razed) for busses. The distinction between a buss and a kiss, suggested by Herrick, of whom the eighteenth-century City man never heard, would have been lost; but we know that —
We buss our wantons and our wives we kiss.
No account of Temple Bar would be complete without reference to the iron spikes above the centre of the pediment, on which were placed occasionally the heads of persons executed for high treason. This ghastly custom continued down to the middle of the eighteenth century, and gave rise to many stories, most of them legendary, but which go to prove, were proof necessary, that squeamishness was not a common fault in the days of the Georges.
To refer, however briefly, to the taverns which clustered east and west of Temple Bar and to the authors who frequented them, would be to stop the progress of this paper — and begin another. Dr. Johnson only voiced public opinion when he said that a tavern chair is a throne of human felicity. For more than three centuries within the shadow of Temple Bar there was an uninterrupted flow of wine and wit and wisdom, with, doubtless, some wickedness. From Ben Jonson, whose favorite resort was The Devil, adjoining the Bar on the south side, down to Tennyson, who frequented The Cock, on the north, came the same cry, for good talk and good wine.
To which I most resort,
How goes the time? ’Tis five o’clock —
Go fetch a pint of port.
This does not sound like the author of ‘Locksley Hall,’ but it is; and while within the taverns ‘the chief glory of England, its authors,’ were writing and talking themselves into immortality, just outside there ebbed and flowed beneath the arches of Temple Bar, east in the morning and west at night, the human stream which is one of the wonders of the world.
Meanwhile, the importance of Temple Bar as a city gate was lessening; ‘a weak spot in our defenses,’ a wit calls it, and points out that the enemy can dash around it through the barber’s shop, one door of which opens into the City, and the other into the ‘suburbs’; but down to the last it continued to play a part in City functions. In 1851 it is lit with twenty thousand lamps as the Queen goes to a state ball in Guildhall. A few months later, it is draped in black as the remains of the Iron Duke pause for a moment under its arches, on the way to their final resting-place in St. Paul’s Cathedral. In a few years we see it draped with the colors of England and Prussia, when the Princess Royal, as the bride of Frederick William, gets her ‘Farewell’ and ‘God Bless You’ from the City, on her departure for Berlin.
Five years pass and the young Prince of Wales and his beautiful bride, Alexandra, are received with wild applause by the mob as their carriage halts at Temple Bar; and once again when, in February, 1872, Queen Victoria, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the court go to St. Paul’s to return thanks for the Prince’s happy recovery from a dangerous illness.
With this event the history of Temple Bar in its old location practically ceases. It was to continue for a few years longer a ‘bone in the throat of Fleet Street’; but at last its condition became positively dangerous, its gates were removed because of their weight, and its arches were propped up with timbers.
Finally, in 1877, its removal was decided upon by the Corporation of London, and Temple Bar, which, from time immemorial, has been one of London’s most notable landmarks, disappears, and the Griffin on an ‘island’ rises in its stead.
‘The ancient site of Temple Bar has been disfigured by Boehm with statues of the Queen and the Prince of Wales, so stupidly modeled that they look like statues out of Noah’s Ark. It is bad enough that we should have German princes foisted upon us, but German statues are worse.’
In this manner George Moore refers to the Memorial commonly called the Griffin, which, shortly after the destruction of the old gate, was erected on the exact spot where Temple Bar formerly stood.
It is not a handsome object; indeed, barring the Albert Memorial, it may be said to represent Victorian taste at its worst. It is a high, rectangular pedestal, running lengthwise with the street, placed on a small island which serves as a refuge for pedestrians crossing the busy thoroughfare. On either side are niches in which are placed the life-size marble figures described by Moore. But this is not all: there are bronze tablets let into the masonry, showing in basso-rilievo incidents in the history of old Temple Bar, with portraits, medallions, and other things. This base pedestal, if so it may be called, is surmounted by a smaller pedestal on which is placed a heraldic dragon or griffin, — a large monster in bronze, — which is supposed to guard the gold of the City.
We do not look for beauty in Fleet Street, and we know that only in the Victorian sense is this monument a work of art; nevertheless it has the same interest for us as a picture by Frith —: it is a human document. Memories of the past more real than the actual present crowd upon us, and we turn under an archway into the Temple Gardens, glad to forget the artistic sins of Boehm and his compeers.
Ask the average Londoner what has become of old Temple Bar, and he will look at you in blank amazement, and then, with an effort of memory, say, ‘They’ve put it up somewhere in the north.’ And so it is.
On its removal the stones were carefully numbered, with a view to reërection, and there was some discussion as to where the old gate should be located. It is agreed now that it should have been placed in the Temple Gardens; but for almost ten years the stones, about one thousand in number, were stored on a piece of waste ground in the Farrington Road. Finally, they were purchased by Sir Henry Meux, the rich brewer, whose brewery, if out of sight, still indicates its presence by the strong odor of malt, at the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. Sir Henry Meux was the owner of a magnificent country seat, Theobald’s Park, near Waltham Cross, about twelve miles north of London; and he determined to make Temple Bar the principal entrance gate to this historic estate.
So to Theobald’s Park, anciently Tibbals, I bent my steps one morning. Being in a reminiscent mood, I had intended to follow in the footsteps of Izaak Walton, from the site of his shop in Fleet Street just cast of Temple Bar, and having, in the words of the gentle angler, ‘stretched my legs up Tottenham Hill,’ to take the high road into Hertfordshire; but the English spring having opened with more than its customary severity, I decided to go by rail.
It was raining gently, but firmly, when my train reached its destination, Waltham Cross, and I was deprived of the pleasure I had promised myself of reaching Temple Bar on foot. An antique fly, drawn by a superannuated horse, was secured at the railway station, and after a short drive I was set down before old Temple Bar, the gates of which were closed as securely against me as ever they had been closed against an unruly mob in its old location.
Driving along a flat and monotonous country road, one comes on the old gate almost suddenly, and experiences a feeling, not of disappointment, but of surprise. The gate does not span the road, but is set back a little in a hedge on one side of it, and seems large for its setting. One is prepared for a dark, grimy portal, whereas the soot and smoke of London have been erased from it, and, instead, one sees an antique, creamy-white structure, tinted and toned with the green of the great trees which overhang it.
Prowling about in the drenching rain, I looked in vain for some sign of life. I shouted to King James, who looked down on me from his niche; and as I received no reply, addressed his consort, inquiring how I was to secure admittance.
A porter’s lodge on one side, almost hidden in the trees, supplied an answer to my question; and on my giving a lusty pull at the bell, the door was opened and a slatternly woman appeared and inquired my business.
‘To look over Temple Bar,’ I replied.
‘Hutterly himpossible,’ she said; and I saw at once that tact and a coin were required. I used both. ‘Go up the drive to the great ’ouse and hask for the clerk [pronounced dark] of the works, Mr. ’Arrison; ’e may let ye hover.’
I did as I was told and had little difficulty with Mr. Harrison. The house itself was undergoing extensive repairs and alterations. It has recently passed, under the will of Lady Meux, to its present owner, together with a fortune of five hundred thousand pounds in money.
Many years ago Henry Meux married the beautiful and charming Valerie Langton, an actress, — a ‘Gaiety girl,’ in fact, — but they had no children, and when he died in 1900, the title became extinct. Thereafter Lady Meux, enormously wealthy, without relatives, led a retired life, chiefly interested in breeding horses. A chance courtesy paid her by the wife of Sir Hedworth Lambton, who had recently married, together with the fact that he had established a reputation for ability and courage, decided her in her thought to make him her heir.
Sir Hedworth, a younger son of the second Earl of Durham, had early adopted the sea as his profession. He had distinguished himself in the bombardment of Alexandria, and had done something wonderful at Ladysmith. He was a hero, no longer a young man, without means — who better fitted to succeed to her wealth and name? In 1911 Lady Meux died, and this lovely country seat, originally a huntinglodge of King James, subsequently the favorite residence of Charles I, and with a long fist of royal or noble owners, became the property of the gallant sailor. All that he had to do was to forget that the name of Meux suggested a brewery and exchange his own for it, and the great property was his. It reads like a chapter out of a romance. Thus it was that the house was being thoroughly overhauled for its new owner at the time of my visit.
But I am wandering from Temple Bar. Armed with a letter from Mr. Harrison, I returned to the gate. First, I ascertained that the span of the centre arch, the arch through which for two centuries the traffic of London had passed, was but twenty-one feet ‘in the clear,’ as an architect would say; next, that the span of the small arches on either side was only four feet six inches. No wonder that there was always congestion at Temple Bar.
I was anxious also to see the room above, the room in which formerly Messrs. Child, when it had adjoined their banking-house, had stored their old ledgers and cash-books. Keys were sought and found, and I was admitted. The room was bare except for a large table in the centre, on which were quill pens and an inkstand in which the ink had dried up years before. One other thing there was, a visitor’s book, which, like a new diary, had been started off bravely years before, but in which no signature had recently been written. I glanced over it and noticed a few wellknown names — English names, not American, such as one usually finds, for I was off the beaten track of the tourist. The roof was leaking here and there, and little pools of water were forming on the floor. It was as cold as a tomb. I wished that a tavern, the Cock, the Devil, or any other, had been just outside, as in the old days when Temple Bar stood in Fleet Street.
The slatternly woman clanked her keys; she too was cold. I had seen all there was to see. The beauty of Temple Bar is in its exterior, and, most of all, in its wealth of literary and historic associations. I could muse elsewhere with less danger of pneumonia; so I said farewell to the kings in their niches, who in this suburban retreat seemed like monarchs retired from business, and returned to my cab.
The driver was asleep in the rain. I think the horse was, too. I roused the man and he roused the beast, and we drove almost rapidly back to the station; no, not to the station, but to a public house close by it, where hot water and accompaniments were to be had.
‘When is the next train up to London?’ I asked an old man at the station.
‘In ten minutes, but you’ll find it powerful slow.’
I was not deceived; it took me over an hour to reach London.
As if to enable me to bring this story to a fitting close, I read in the papers only a few days ago, ‘Vice-Admiral Sir John Jellicoe was to-day promoted to the rank of Admiral, and Sir Hedworth Meux, who until now has been commander-in-chief at Portsmouth, was appointed Admiral of the Home Fleet.’1
Good luck be with him! Accepting the burdens which properly go with rank and wealth, he is at this moment cruising somewhere in the cold North Sea, in command of a great fleet. Upon the owner of Temple Bar, at this moment, devolves the duty of keeping watch and ward over England.
- Since this was written, Sir Hedworth Meux has retired from active service.↩