+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error




THIS is Hyde Park, at the most brilliant
moment in the afternoon, at the most brilliant
period in the season. What a city of magnificence,
of luxury, of pleasure, of pomp, and of
pride, this London seems to be. Can there be
any poor or miserable peopleany dingy grubs
among these gaudy butterflies? What are the
famed Elysian fields of Paris, to Hyde Park at
this high tide of splendour? What the cavalcade
of the Bois de Boulogne, or the promenade
of Longchamps, to the long stream of
equipages noiselessly rolling along the bank of
the Serpentine? Everybody in London (worth
naming) is being carried along on wheels, or
bestrides pigskin girthed o'er hundred guinea
horseflesh, or struts in bright boots, or trips
in soft sandalled prunella, or white satin with
high heels. There is Royal Blood in a mail
phaeton. Royal blood smokes a large cigar, and
handles its ribbons scientifically. There is a
Duke in the dumps, and behind him is the Right
Reverend Father, in a silk apron and a shovel-
hat, who made that fierce verbal assault upon
his Grace in the House of Lords last night.
There is the crack advocate of the day, the
successful defender of the young lady who was
accused of poisoning her mamma with nux
vomica in her negus; and there is the young
lady herself, encompassed with a nimbus of petticoat,
lolling back in a miniature Brougham with
a gentleman old enough to be her grandfather, in
a high stock, and a wig dyed deep indigo. Is that
Anonyma driving twin ponies in a low phaeton,
a parasol attached to her whip, and a groom with
folded arms behind her! Bah! there are so
many Anonymas now-a-days. If it isn't the
Nameless one herself, it is Synonyma. Do you see
that stout gentleman with the coal-black beard
and the tarnished fez cap? That is the Syrian
ambassador. The liver-coloured man in the dingy
white turban, the draggletailed blue burnous,
the cotton stockings, and the alpaca umbrella, is
the Maronite envoy. The nobleman who is
driving that four-in-hand, and is got up to such
a perfection of imitation of the manners and
costume of a stage-coachman, has a rental of
a hundred and thirty thousand a year. He
passes his time mostly among ostlers, engine-
drivers, and firemen. He swears, smokes a
cutty pipe, and of his two intimate friends, one
is a rough rider and the other a rat-catcher. Mr.
Benazi, the great Hebrew Financier, you must
know: yonder cadaverous, dolorous-looking
figure in shabby clothes, huddled up in a corner
of the snuff-coloured chariot, drawn by the
spare-ribbed horses that look as though they had
never enough to eat. He is Baron Benazi in
the Grand-Duchy of Sachs-Pfeifigen, where he
lent the Grand-Duke money to get the crown
jewels out of pawn. That loan was the making
of Ben. There is nothing remarkable about him
save his nose, which stands out, a hooked
promontory, like the prow of a Roman galley, from
among the shadows cast by the squabs of the
snuff-coloured chariot. That nose is a power in
the state. That nose represents millions. When
Baron Benazi's nose shows signs of flexibility,
monarchs may breathe again, for loans can be
negotiated. But, when the Benazian proboscis
looks stern and rigid, and its owner rubs it with
an irritable finger, it is a sadly ominous sign of
something being rotten in the state of Sachs-
Pfeifigen, and of other empires and monarchies
which I will not stay to name.

What else? Everything. Whom else? Everybody.
Dandies and swells, smooth-cheeked and
heavy-moustached, twiddling their heavy guard-
chains, caressing their fawn-coloured favoris,
clanking their spurred heels, screwing their
eyeglasses into the creases of their optic muscles,
haw-hawing vacuous common-places to one
another, or leaning over the rails to stare at all, to
gravely wag the head to some, to nod
superciliously to others, to grin familiarly to a select
few. Poor little snobs and government clerks
aping the Grand Manner, and succeeding only
in looking silly. Any number of quiet sensible
folks surveying the humours of the scene
with much amusement, and without envy.
Foreigners who, after a five years' residence in
London, may have discovered that Leicester-
square, the Haymarket, and the lower part of
Regent-street, are not the only promenades in
London, and so come swaggering and jabbering
here, in their braid and their pomatum and
their dirt, poisoning the air with the fumes
of bad tobacco. An outer fringe of nursemaids
then some soldiers listlessly sucking the knobs