Rollo in London by Jacob Abbott
Rollo in London by Jacob Abbott 1803-1879
I.- -CITY AND TOWN,
II.- -LONDON BRIDGE,
IV.- -THE POLICEMAN,
VII.- -WESTMINSTER ABBEY,
IX.- -ST. PAUL'S,
X.- -THE DOME OF ST. PAUL'S,
XI.- -THE ARISTOCRACY,
XII.- -A MISFORTUNE,
XIV.- -THE DOCKS,
XV.- -THE EMIGRANTS,
XVI.- -THE TUNNEL AND THE TOWER,
CITY AND TOWN.
"Which London shall we visit first?" said Mr. George to Rollo.
"Why," rejoined Rollo, surprised, "are there two of them?"
"Yes," said Mr. George. "We may almost say there are two of them. Or, at
any rate, there are two heads to the monster, though the immense mass
forms but one body."
While Mr. George was saying these words Rollo had been standing on the
step of the railway car and looking in at the window towards his uncle
George, who was inside. Just at this time, however, the conversation was
interrupted by the sound of the bell, denoting that the train was about
to start. So Rollo jumped down from the step and ran back to his own
car, which was a second-class car, two behind the one where Mr. George
was sitting. He had scarcely got to his seat before the whistle of the
conductor sounded and the train began to move. As it trundled along out
of the station, gradually increasing its speed as it advanced, Rollo sat
wondering what his uncle meant by the double-headed character which he
had assigned to the monstrous city that they were going to see.
What is commonly called London does in fact consist, as Mr. George had
said, of _two_ great cities, entirely diverse from each other, and
completely distinct- -each being, in its way, the richest, the grandest,
and the most powerful capital in the world.
One of these twin capitals is the metropolis of commerce; the other is
that of political and military power.
The first is called the City.
The second is called the West End.
Both together- -with the immense region of densely-peopled streets and
squares which connect and surround them- -constitute what is generally
The _city_ was the original London. The West End was at first called
Westminster. The relative position of these two centres may be seen by
the following map:- -
The city- -which was the original London- -is the most ancient. It was
founded long before the days of the Romans; so long, in fact, that its
origin is wholly unknown. Nor is any thing known in respect to the
derivation or meaning of the name. In regard to Westminster, the name is
known to come from the word _minster_, which means _cathedral_- -a
cathedral church having been built there at a very early period, and
which, lying west of London as it did, was called the West Minster. This
church passed through a great variety of mutations during the lapse of
successive centuries, having grown old, and been rebuilt, and enlarged,
and pulled down, and rebuilt again, and altered, times and ways without
number. It is represented in the present age by the venerable monumental
pile- -the burial-place of the ancient kings, and of the most
distinguished nobles, generals, and statesmen of the English
monarchy- -known through all the world as Westminster Abbey.
After a time, when England became at length one kingdom, the king built
his palace, and established his parliament, and opened his court in
Westminster, not far from the abbey. The place, being about three miles
from the city, was very convenient for this purpose. In process of time
public edifices were erected, and noblemen's houses and new palaces for
the king or for other members of the royal family were built, and shops
were set up for the sale of such things as the people of the court might
wish to buy, and streets and squares were laid out; and, in fine,
Westminster became gradually quite an extended and famous town. It was
still, however, entirely distinct from London, being about three miles
from it, farther up the river. The principal road from London to
Westminster followed the margin of the water, and was called the Strand.
Towards Westminster the road diverged from the river so as to leave a
space between wide enough for houses; and along this space the great
nobles from time to time built magnificent palaces around great square
courts, where they could ride in under an archway. The fronts of these
palaces were towards the road; and there were gardens behind them,
leading down to the water. At the foot of the garden there was usually a
boat house and a landing, where the people who lived in the palace or
their friends could embark on board boats for excursions on the Thames.
In the mean time, while Westminster was thus becoming a large and
important town, London itself, three miles farther down the river, was
also constantly growing too, in its own way, as a town of merchants and
artisans. Other villages, too, began to spring up in every direction
around these great centres; and London and Westminster, gradually
spreading, finally met each other, and then, extending on each side,
gradually swallowed up these villages, until now the whole region, for
five or six miles in every direction from the original centres, forms
one mighty mass of streets, squares, lanes, courts, terraces, all
crowded with edifices and thronged with population. In this mass all
visible distinction between the several villages which have been
swallowed up is entirely lost, though the two original centres remain
as widely separated and as distinct as ever. The primeval London has,
however, lost its exclusive right to its name, and is now simply called
the _city_; and in the same manner Westminster is called the West End,
and sometimes the _town_; while the name London is used to denote the
whole of the vast conglomeration which envelops and includes the two
The city and the West End, though thus swallowed, as it were, in the
general metropolis, are still entirely distinct. They are in fact, in
some respects, even more widely distinct from each other now than ever.
Each is, in its own way, at the head of its class of cities. The city is
the greatest and wealthiest mart of commerce in the world; while the
West End is the seat and centre of the proudest and most extended
political and military power. In fact, the commercial organization which
centres in the city, and the military one which has its head quarters
around the throne at the West End, are probably the greatest and most
powerful organizations, each of its kind, that the world has ever known.
Mr. George explained all this to Rollo as they walked together away from
the London Bridge station, where the train in which they came in from
the south stopped when it reached London. But I will give a more
detailed account of their conversation in the next chapter.
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