London: A Pilgrimage

Jerrold, Blanchard


The West End.

The West End.




The non-workers, viz., those who are able, choose, or are compelled to live without labor, are a minority; but they are powerful by their culture and their wealth. The rich and high-born, so often miscalled the idle, whose province it is to lead in society, to fill , and give a brilliant aspect to the Ladies' Mile, are a distinct, exclusive, cultivated, and winning class. Princes and princesses of fashion; the observed of all observers at Court and Drawing-Roons, and the favorite leader of the cotillon; the peerless beauty and the most engaging of men at a , a , or a picnic; the deadliest match-maker, with the financial predicament of every suitor at her fingers' ends, and man of the club--the whole fun, in short, of Vanity Fair, troops and sidles, rides

and drives, smiles and dances, in a circle that may be said to have for its centre. It has broadened westward and northward since Theodore Hook said that London was bounded on the north by , on the south by , on the east by the , and on the west by .[*]  Some centuries ago Hook's London was suffering the process which has been carried on in our own time in Tyburnia and Westbournia, Belgravia and South Kensington. Like

the great Orion,

we see the sun of fashion still

sloping slowly to the West.

Hook's London is identified with Lords Burlington, Berkeley, and Clarendon, as is with the Earl of St. Albans. The traditions of the Stuarts lie thick about and . The liveliest stories of the Court thenceforth are grouped hereabouts. The club gossip of generations; the scandals of the great; the lives of the wits and beaux and beauties; the impertinences of Brummel and the mots of Sheridan; the gambling--bouts of the last generation in , and the learned evenings of the peaceful ; the histories of Almack's and the disasters brought about at Crockford's are for history, on which Cunningham and Timbs, and Wheatley in our own day, have loved to dwell, and of which the cultivated Londoner never tires. He is happy in the midst of all these associations; and, while lounging under Macaulay's window, or by the , or under White's, or through , feels himself to be in the best of all good ghostly company. Can he ever tire of


— now narrowed to the street that stretches from to Corner-or of any of that part of London which dates from the Restoration? Here are to be studied all classes of London characters, from the fashionable man about town to the West End dog-fancier. A libertine of the Restoration period wrote:

Farewell, my dearest Piccadilly, Notorious for good dinners;

Oh! what a Tennis-Court was there! Alas! too good for sinners.

For dinners has lost its prestige completely since Francatelli left the hotel by ; and the tennis-court ceased to exist in , , years ago; but the whole length of this splendid avenue that leads to the Ladies' Mile is peopled with entertaining memories. The Earl of Burlington, Sir William Petty (whose site is now occupied by

Lincoln and Bennett), the author of


Lord Holland, George Selwyn, the Earl of Sunderland, Lord Melbourne, and the Duke of York--original proprietor of the palace now called the ! In the quiet avenue of the memories of the illustrious dead crowd upon you, while you are arrested at every turn by curious specimens of the living--as our old London friend the fly- paper vendor, for instance. Lord Byron wrote his


here, in Lord Althorp's chambers; George Canning lived in A, and Lord Macaulay in E, Tom Duncombe in F, Lord Valentia the traveller in H, Monk Lewis in K. Watier's Club (celebrated for fops and fine dinners, and Brummel's vagaries) at the corner of ; Sir Francis Burdett barricaded against the Sergeant-at-Arms in ; Madame d'Arblay's lodgings over Barrett's Brush Warehouse; Cambridge House, where Lord Palmerston's brilliant assemblies blocked the way weekly; the houses of Sir Thomas Lawrence and Sir William Hamilton; Mr. Hope's costly mansion, now the Junior Atheneum Club; , where the Elgin marbles were exhibited; the old Duke of Queensberry's-

Old Q., The Star of



Byron's house (), where he passed his short domestic life; and Apsley House, the site of which was occupied by the old Ranger's Lodge and an

apple-stall; here are pleasant points of interest on the way to join the splendid crowd and hurly-burly of the Park. The was published in the shop now Ridgway's; Albert Smith, Haydon, Sir George Hayter, and a host of lesser lights are associated with the Egyptian Hall; but the entertainers have deserted the old temple for the more splendid housing of St. James's Hall; wherein, evening, my fellow-Pilgrim made some very whimsical notes of the famous negro minstrels.





Of all the streets north or south of , , albeit the most pretentious--the handsomest-designed as it was as a royal way from Carlton Palace, is the least interesting. The side streets, even to the smallest, are full of delightful story, as Mr. Wheatley has reminded us in his great book of West End gossip; but was commenced only in . It is the highway which distinguished foreigners most affect; it is a busy scene of fashionable shopping in the Season; it is the street where the perambulating dog-fancier finds his readiest market; but it has no story more interesting than that of the Brighton carpenter, John Nash, who designed it, under the favor of the Prince Regent. , , , St. James's, and , with every little way to the east and west of it, Park Lane-and all May Fair indeed --are filled with fashionable romance; and even the new glories of Belgravia have not dimmed Piccadilly's lustre, as May Fair dimmed that of Soho and Covent Garden, making them as strange to the Fashion of our Victorian era as Old .


[*] This region, with the addition of the district to the north of Piccadilly, extending through May Fair to Hyde Park Corner, and with Hyde, the Green, and St. James's Parks, is the one with which these pages are concerned.-Round about Piccadilly and Pall Mall. By Henry B. Wheatley.

[*] The origin of the name appears to be wrapped in impenetrable mystery, and the various attempts to solve it are nearly all alike unsatisfactory. The earliest conjectural etymology is to be found in Thomas Blount's Glossographia, of which the first edition was published in 1656. The passage is as follows: Pickadil (a Belg. Pickedillekens, i. e. Lacinia, Teut. Pickedel), the round hem, or the several divisions set together about the skirt of a garment, or other thing; also a kind of stiff collar, made in fashion of a Band. Hence, perhaps, that famous ordinary near St. James, called Piccadilly, took denomination; because it was then the outmost or skirt house of the suburbs that way. Others say it took name from this: that one Higgins, a tailor, who built it, got most of his estate by Pickadilles, which, in the last age, were much worn in England. In the second and later editions of his work, Blount omitted the passage which contained what was apparently his own conjecture, viz., because it was then the outmost or skirt house of the suburbs that way. This is, I think, the most probable of the two derivations, for Higgins and his collars appear to have been a pure myth.--Wheatley.

[] It is reported that one day George II. recognized an old soldier, named Allen, as having served at the battle of Dettingen, and gave him this piece of ground at Hyde Park Corner, where his wife kept a stall, which is marked in a print dated 1766. Lord Bathurst had a controversy with this woman, and she filed a bill against him, on which he gave her a considerable sum of money to relinquish her claim. It was observed at the time that here is a suit by one old woman against another, and the Chancellor has been beaten in his own Court. Wheatley.