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B M D73 155





Century



Jj J8ook of
Gossip by

Arlhur William a Beckett



«ax





THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA



PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND

MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



7''



LONDON AT THE
END OF THE CENTURY



A Book of Gossip



BY

ARTHUR W. aBECKETT



AUTHOR OF



The Modern Adam," "Greenroom Restrictions,'
"The Member for Rottenborough," etc



:^/v



LONDON
HURST AND BLACKETT, LIMITED
. 13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET

1900

All Rights reserved



TO

SIR WALTER BESANT

the modern historian of london

this book of gossip

concerning the great metropolis

and its residents

at the end of the century

is dedicated as a mark of esteem

by his friend

The Author



DA ^«s



PREFACE.



THIS little volume pretends to be no more than " a book
of gossip." I have attempted, as a Londoner following
a career necessitating the playing of many parts, to give
some sketches of the Great Metropolis, as I know it at
the end of the Century. I can scarcely claim for my work
that it is very deep, but I trust that it may be read by those
who honour me with their attention with interest. I have
tried to give a picture of London and Londoners as they
exist. Here and there I have travelled with my fellow
citizens out of town. When I have done this it has been
" under doctor's orders," or when London has been holiday
making far away from home, on the festivals of St. Lubbock.

My ambition has been limited to the production of a
book that may be read by those who have an idle hour to
spare for cheerful recollections, and, to use the old phrase,
by those who are anxious to " acquire information combined
with amusement."

" London at the End of the Century " is a title full of
possibilities. In my hands it has become the name of a
book that has afforded me infinite pleasure to write ; I only
hope that I shall be able to share that pleasure with my
readers.



Arthur W. aBeckett.



Garrick Club,

Yulettde, i8gg-igoo.



MS09077



CONTE NTS.



CHAP, PAGE

I. The Position of the Press . . . i

II. Strangers in London .... 14

III. Religion in London . . . .21

IV. A Peep into Stageland ... 30
V. Parliament Up to Date ... 38

VI. A Night in the House ... 47

VII. The Premier Club of England . . 56

VIII. Londoners Holding Holiday . . 65

IX. The Development of the Club . . 76

X. In " Rather Mixed " Clubland . . 85

XI. In Auxiliary Clubland .... 93

XII. A Pantomime at Drury Lane . . loi

XIII. London Exhibitions . . . .111

XIV. Coaching the University Crew . 119

XV. The Sequel to the Derby . . .130

XVI. The London Gondola . . . 138

XVII. London on Strike 146

XVIII. London Fires 154

XIX. Pall Mall and Private Thomas Atkins 162

XX. Concerning the London Volunteers . 171

XXL Serving with the London Militia . 182

XXII. London Gunners at Shoeburyness . 191



Vlll



CONTENTS.



CHAP.

XXIII.

XXIV.
XXV.

XXVI.

XXVII.

XXVIII.

XXIX.
XXX.

XXXI.

XXXII.

XXXIII.

XXXIV.

XXXV.
XXXVI.

XXXVII.
XXXVIII.



Becoming a Society Lion .

Entertaining the Working Man .

Choosing a Fancy Dress .

Parliamentary Speaking

Art in London

Spending Bank Holiday in London

A Bank Holiday without " 'Arry " .

London Out of Town .

Londoners andtheir Summer Holidays

Londoners and the Channel

London Under Doctor's Orders

Two Cities in Forty-eight Hours

The Londoner's Search for Health

The Parisian Part of the London
District

A Novelty in London Recreations

London Schoolboys at the End of
the Century



PAGE

200
209
218
227

239

245

257
266

275
284

292

203

314

323
329

341



LONDON AT THE END OF THE CENTURY.



CHAPTER L

THE POSITION OF THE PRESS.

What perhaps will strike an intelligent foreigner —
and every foreigner who visits the metropolis is con-
sidered intelligent — on his entrance to London at
the end of the century, will be the hoardings and
their placards. He will find these records of the
time of very great merit in many directions, for now-
a-days our bill-posting has frequently the artistic
assistance of eminent supporters of the Royal
Academy. He will learn that the modern Babylon
has numberless theatres, hotels, and newspapers. If
he has visited the old ground before — say twenty
years ago, for so important an incident as a journey
to England is not to be undertaken too frequently—
he will notice that what were once units have become
scores. If he is standing opposite the advertisement

I



2 LONDON AT END OF CENTURY.

station in front of the Hotel Cecil, he will only have
to right-about turn and take a diagonal march into
the Adelphi theatre to see in the saloon of that
popular place of entertainment a painting of a
hoarding by the late John Parry, bearing the artist's
signature, dated 1844. Comparing the actuality with
the canvas, he will readily understand the enormous
progress that has been made during the last fifty
years. At the time when the famous entertainer, who
found a successor in the late Corney Grain, was
singing for a livelihood and using his palette as a
distraction, railway travelling was in its babyhood,
and marine excursions chiefly represented by a very
primitive steam boat, built by the General Steam
Navigation Company, and bound for Margate. A
few weekly papers suggested that journalism was
also in its infancy. In 1844 we had no Daily
Telegraph ; The Illustrated London News existed,
but its present pictorial contemporaries had to be
created. During the century which has come to its
last days I have played many parts ; civil servant,
barrister, private secretary, playwright, and novelist ;
but the chief role that I have filled since the years
closed over my boyhood has been journalistic. Under
these circumstances it is not unnatural that, when
writing of London at the end of the century, Fleet
Street, and all that Fleet Street means to a pressman,
should first attract my attention.



THE POSITION 01 THE FI^ESS.



(( -.-.T-riTT^-riT-w "



JUPITER OF PRINTING HOUSE SQUARE.

It rejoices my heart to find that T/ie Times
retains a foremost rank in the Hst of London
daily papers. I say this because my father,
the late Gilbert Abbott a Beckett, metropolitan
police magistrate and man of letters, was, so far
as I know, and I have seen the assertion also
made by a writer not of our blood, the only
man who ever wrote the entire series of leaders in
one morning issue of Printing House Square. It
came about in this way. My father had an agree-
ment with The Times to write a daily article.
One of these contributions had been crowded out,
and stood over to appear with the copy supplied by
him in due course on the following day. At the
last moment a subject, of which he had a special
knowledge, came to the front— I fancy it was
connected with the Andover Union, an institution
visited by my father as a poor law commissioner —
and consequently the duty of supplying a com-
mentary fell to him. I have a dim recollection of a
"printers' devil" waiting in the hall of Hyde Park
Gate while my father scribbled sheet after sheet, and
then hearing the front door slam as the little
messenger started away on his return journey. Thus
it was that the three leading articles of The Times on

I*



4 LONDON AT END OF CENTURY,

the following morning came from the same pen. This
incident, which is naturally interesting to myself, is
yet instructive to others, as it marks the change in the
modus operandi of conducting a large daily paper.
At the present time a contributor would probably be
in telephonic communication with the office, and
dictate from his study the copy intended for the
composing room many miles away. One of my
friends, who is head of the reporting staff in the
Gallery of the House of Commons during the Session,
habitually uses this means of cornmunication when
sending the summary of the night's doings from
Westminster to Bouverie Street. This improvement
is one of scores that have been introduced during the
last thirty or forty years by the proprietors of The
Times, who were the first to adopt the wonderful
machinery that suppHes newspapers by thousands in
the same time that once was occupied in turning out
a fortieth of the number. The motto of the paper in
the early forties was " the best," and that motto has
seen no change for half a century.



"THE standard" AND ITS PARTNER.



It would be invidious to single out for special com-
mendation any particular paper, when all are of
admirable quality. Perhaps I may be pardoned for
referring to The Standard, which still retains its






THE POSITION OF THE PRESS. 5

prestige, as an old contributor of thirty years ago.
In 1870-71 I had the honour of serving as a special
correspondent during the Franco-German war, on
the banks of the Rhine, and wherever else I could
find a French prisoner. The Standard may be, I
think, considered the pioneer of cheap journalism.
In the old days there were two editions, practically
the same paper, one called The Herald, and the other
The Standard, The first has higher priced than the
second, which was intended to suit the pockets of the
poor or economical. Punch used to call the two
journals Mrs. Gamp and Mrs. Harris, from the two
characters in Dickens's novel. It will be remembered
that Mrs. Harris was the echo of Mrs. Gamp. Years
after the absorption of The Herald in The Standard,
my editor, Captain Hamber, in giving me my final
instructions said : —

" Look here ; as your copy may be tampered with
by the Prussians, you had better address the envelope
with an assumed name."

" What shall it be } " I asked.

" Why not resume your acquaintance with Punch's
friend, and write to me at Shoe Lane, as Mrs.
Harris .? "

And I adopted this suggestion.
It was fortunate that I did, for I " got through " a
piece of news that never reached town by wire— the
story of an attempted escape at Coblenz.



LONDON AT END OF CENTURY,



CONCERNING "THE MORNING POST."



Although every daily paper at the end of the
century has its " Society paragraph," The Morning
Post is certainly the journal of journals associated
with that august body once known as the " upper ten
thousand," and now describable as the " moneyed half
million." Its change in price from threepence to a
penny was an experiment that was watched with the
deepest interest in Fleet Street. It marked an
importent event in social history. The Morning Post
has, during the last sixty or seventy years, been
regarded as the organ of the aristocracy, and by the
change in its price has brought economy into fashion.
Two or three decades ago a duke, much less a
duchess, would never have thought of riding in an
omnibus. At the present time some of the 'busses
have the most distinguished clientele. In the fifties
it was thought the thing to keep up appearances to
any extent. Lord Lytton, in his comedy of " Money,"
showed a spendthrift, impecunious baronet paying a
man about town a small salary to call him " Stingy
Jack," to conceal the emptiness of his coffers. To-
day it is quite the mode to talk of one's poverty.
Another remarkable thing connected with the change
of price in The Morning Post is that, in spite of the
reduction, the paper was never better edited. It is



THE POSITION OF THE PRESS, 7

as full as of yore of all that goes to make a London
daily the finest journal in the world.

STATE RECOGNITION OF JOURNALISM.

Leaving The Times out of the question as a paper
that insists upon the ultra dignity of the Press, as an
abstract rather than as a profession, The Daily
Telegraph tnd The Morning Tost have done more
than any other papers to raise the status of a
journalist The proprietors of these distinguished
broadsheets, by putting themselves at the heads of
such bodies as the Newspaper Society and the Insti-
tute of Journalists, have obtained that recognition of
which the helmet of the baronet or the coronet of
the peer are a testimony. The Daily Telegraph can
claim to have introduced the essayist as distinguish-
able from the reporter into journahsm. The rigid
lines of the gentleman who counted his remuneration
by the copper coins of the realm were elaborated
into decorative as well as descriptive sentences. The
" young lions of Peterborough Court " taught a senior
generation that the public loved their (the lions')
roaring better than the more peaceful cooings (con-
coctions of paragraphs, old style) of the past. Nay,
more, The Daily Telegraph, joining hands with The
New York Herald, undertook enterprises that were
shunned, or at any rate overlooked, by the Govern-



8 LONDON AT END OF CENTURY.

ment The " Z). T." discovered Livingstone and
Emin Pasha, and, as I write, is on the eve of survey-
ing the still unknown Africa from Egypt to the
Cape. It has been the first to lead a crusade in the
cause of charity, or in the recognition of those who
have deserved well of their country. All honour to
The Daily Telegraph and those responsible for its
management.

THE ORIGIN OF "THE DAILY NEWS."

For the sake of " Auld Lang Syne " I have always
taken an interest in The Daily News. It was started
by the proprietors when the expiring century had
scarcely reached middle age. It was associated with
Dickens and Douglas Jerrold, and The Express,
edited by my old and valued friend, Sir John
Robinson, in the early fifties, had for one of its
contributors my father, then writing for The Morning
Herald and The Illustrated London News. To this
day its connection with Punch is unbroken, for my
friend, Mr. H. W. Lucy, contributes articles anent
Parliament for both papers — " Pictures for the News,
and " Essence " for the " Charivari.'' Again, the
editorial offices in Bouverie Street face one another,
and in Pressland the claims of neighbourhood are
recognised. Writing as a Punch man, I pray that the
pleasant entente cordiale may long continue.



THE POSITION 01 THE PRESS,



" THE CHRONICLE " UP TO DATE.

The Daily Chronicle has a remarkable and dis-
tinguished record. Earlier in the century it was
known by the name of a district. Then The Morning
Chronicle, after struggling as the organ of a foreign
potentate, virtually ceased to exist. Then The
Clerkenwell News, eminently successful as a local,
blossomed forth into an equally successful London
daily, under the title of The Daily Chronicle. It has
flourished from the first. If it has any fault, it can
be found in its politics. But I may be wrong, the
more especially as my sympathies are enlisted with
the other side. But from a journalistic point of view
the paper is first rate. And this opinion of mine —
not offered after the fashion of Sir Hubert Stanley —
is endorsed in the most practicable manner imaginable
by the public.

PICTURES TO THE FRONT.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the end of the
century in connection with the Press, is the growth
of illustration. Until the establishment of The
Illustrated London News, the metropolis had no
paper relying more upon pictures than letterpress for
its popularity. The Observer and The Sunday Times
—survivors of the fittest— had numerous sketches of



lo LONDON AT END OF CENTURY.

striking events from time to time, in the earlier years
of the Queen's reign, but news, rather than the
illustration thereof, was their speciality. Nowadays
both papers to which I have referred have dropped
the pencil for the pen. No doubt photography, and
the rapidity with which engraving can, in these later
days, be accomplished, have had much to do with the
development of the limner's art in its relation to daily
publications. The Daily Graphic was to thousands a
revelation, and has stimulated many of its contem-
poraries to increased exertion in the direction of
pictoral reproduction. Printers' ink passes over, with
gratifying results, not only type, but blocks. This
would have been impossible half a century ago.
Thanks to modern improvements, when the writer
can be assisted by the artist in daily journalism the
work of both is available.

THE GROWTH OF THE EVENING PAPER.

Another remarkable development of the Press at
the end of the century is the growth of the evening
paper. In the sixties I had the honour to edit The
Glowworm, which made its appearance in the same
year as, but a little earlier than, The Tall Mall
Gazette. We modelled our publication on Paris
originals. We gave the lists of the plays of the
moment, after the fashion of The Entracte and a



THE POSITION OF THE PRESS. n

feuilleton. Even in those days I soon discovered the
value of " latest sporting," and did my best to outdo
the accounts of races published in the last edition
of The Evening Standard. There were in existence
The Evening Star (the afternoon version of the organ
of John Bright), The Globe (then, as now, an admirable
paper), and The Express, issuing from the offices of
The Daily News. I thought myself particularly
"smart" in my salad days, because I managed to
get my second edition — we had no first — into the
hands of the public shortly after two o'clock. Now-
adays half-a-dozen evening papers are selling long
before that hour. The Pall Mall Gazette (now
edited by my old and valued friend, Sir Douglas
Straight, one of my colleagues on The Glowworm)
soon followed, describing itself as " a Review," as well
as an evening paper. I remember that we Glowworms
considered ourselves extremely clever because we
referred to the P.M.G. as "our sporting contem-
porary." Then came The Echo (I had used the title
earlier for a weekly rechauffe of The Glowworm), and,
later still, The St. James's and The Westminster. As I
write, Evening News and Evening Stars compete at
a halfpenny with their higher-priced contemporaries.
When The Glowworm — a four-paged sheet — was
started, it was considered a marvel of cheapness at
a penny, and The Pall Mall Gazette (smaller than at
present) most reasonable at twice the money.



12 LONDON AT END OF CENTURY.



CHEAP JOURNALISM.

And the above consideration brings me once again
to the subject of cheap journahsm. The abohtion
of stamps on advertisements and the paper duty no
doubt paved the way to the success of our low-
priced daily periodicals. We can give more for
the money than of yore, and the School Board has
sent us a sufficiency of readers. And this sufficiency
is enough to supply the demand of all the proprietors.
The Daily Mail, The Morning Leader, and The
Morning Herald have their supporters, without
trenching on the ground occupied by The Times,
To sty Telegraph, News, Chronicle, Standard and
Advertiser. The more the merrier. And here I
must refer to that marvel of cheapness, Lloyd's
Weekly Newspaper, a publication that has been
admirably conducted for half a century. I have to
thank its proprietors for allowing me to reproduce
some of my writings in its columns anent Parliament.
Papers increase in numbers, and paper readers keep
pace with the production. So an enterviewed
publisher told me the other day, and I believed him.

THE PRESS AS A PROFESSION.

Looking at the condition of writers for the Press
in London at the end of the century, a Press man



THE POSITION OF THE PRESS. 13

can feel only satisfaction. Forty or fifty years ago
the saying went that "journalism was good for a
walking-stick, but not as a crutch." A man was a
barrister first and a journalist afterwards. Leader
writing and reviewing paid the rent of chambers,
while Briefless was waiting to prove his surname to be
a misnomer. But you find the gentlemen of the long
robe who have embraced journalism as a profession,
keeping their names up in Lincoln's Inn and the
Temple to avoid serving on juries, and not with any
serious intention of obtaining clients amongst
solicitors. And as for the tone of the Press, it is
beyond reproach. A short while since certain
accusations were made against newspaper writers that
they preferred pecuniary profit to professional honour.
The matter was taken up by a sub-committee of the
London District of the Institute of Journalists, with
the gratifying result that not a single member of the
Institute could be found to have betrayed his trust.
For it is a trust that the journalists hold. They are
the guardians of the nation's honour. One is not
expected to be very serious while compiling '* a book
of gossip," but yet I cannot refrain from expressing
my delight that my father was a journalist, and that
I have followed the same calling. There is nothing
in the condition of London journalism at the close
of the century which stultifies the time-honoured title
of " gentlemen of the Press."



H



CHAPTER 11.

STRANGERS IN LONDON.

It has taken quite fifty years to forget the impression
created by John Leech, of " Mossoo." In 1851 it
was considered a picture of an actuaUty to show a
group of French Counts regarding with astonishment
a wash-hand-stand ewer. " What is this strange
machine?" asked foreign nobleman No. i. " I do
not know," was the reply of his friend. This was
the general idea of typical Continental conversation
in the year of the Great Exhibition, and I am afraid
that even now, when we have come to the end of
the nineteenth century, amongst the mob the same
notion prevails.

SOHO AND LEICESTER SQUARE.

The headquarters of the Grand Nation is still
situated within view of those rival places of entertain-
ment — the Empire and the Alhambra. In the north-



STRANGERS IN LONDON 15

east corner of Leicester Square stands Noire Dame de
France, the national church of the French colony,
where all religious functions connected with the
history of our lively neighbours are celebrated.
Before this place of worship was established the
building was used for Burford's Panorama. To this
day, those who remember the pictures of Switzerland
can trace the ancient form. Where once was seen
the Lake of Lucerne, now stands an altar, and the
summit of the Righi is replaced by the portrait of a
saint. Within a dozen yards of the church is the
Empire, which, when it was first opened, also con-
tained a panorama. Under the superintendence of
the late Alfred Thompson a realistic representation
of the battle of Balaclava was shown. In the fore-
ground were some dummy lancers and broken drums.
On one occasion the effect was somewhat spoiled by
an old gentleman, one of the public, who had paid
his shilling for admission, getting over the barrier to
search for his dropped umbrella amongst the warlike
debris.

WAR SONGS PAST AND PRESENT.

At right angles to the Empire stands the Alhambra,
which was opened as the Panopticon, a feeble, un-
successful rival to that vanished home of science —
the Royal Polytechnic Institution. In 1870-71, when



1 6 LONDON AT END OF CENTURY.

the Franco-German war was raging, the British pubHc
were wont to enter the Alhambra regularly to cheer
the Marseillaise and to hoot the Wacht am Rhein.
Only a short while ago, at the commencement of our
war with the Boers, the same British public, a genera-
tion younger, marched on to the same site (for the
Alhambra had been burnt and rebuilt in the interim)
to sing ''Rule Britannia." In 1871 I remember
meeting, on the stage of Covent Garden, Herve, the
celebrated French composer. I condoled with him on
the triumph of the German arms. " Ah," said he,
with tears in his voice, " we shall be avenged — by our
children ! "

The prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. Nearly
thirty years h^ve passed since Paris was occupied by
the Prussians and still the German flag waves over
Metz. Possibly peace may come with the Twentieth
Century.

THE FOREIGNER AT HOME IN TOWN.

So much, or perhaps so little, for Leicester Square.
In spite of the fine new roads piercing the slums of
Soho, the humbler portion of the French colony still
haunts the well-beloved locality. But the Gauls do
not have it all their own way. For their neighbours
they have a strong Swiss contingent, and even a
detachment from the main body of Italians occupy-
ing Hatton Garden. As for the aristocracy of the



Sm ANGERS IN LONDON. 17

foreign residents settled in London, they are merged
in Britons of the same class dwelling in Pall Mall and
Mayfair. A French, German, or Italian gentleman
can always secure election at the St. James's in
Piccadilly, or partake of the hospitality of the Service
clubs, where foreign military and naval attaches are
eligible for honorary membership.

THE AMERICAN COLONY.

But there is one race of men born outside Britain
which we Englishmen can never regard as aliens.
They are of the same blood as ourselves, and for a
thousand years had the same history. When a


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