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PAGE 2

Christina Rossetti
by [?]

No pilgrim from “the States” should visit the city of London without carrying two books: a Baedeker’s “London” and Hutton’s “Literary Landmarks.” The chief advantage of the former is that it is bound in flaming red, and carried in the hand, advertises the owner as an American, thus saving all formal introductions. In the rustle, bustle and tussle of Fleet Street, I have held up my book to a party of Americans on the opposite sidewalk, as a ship runs up her colors, and they, seeing the sign, in turn held up theirs in merry greeting; and we passed on our way without a word, ships that pass in the afternoon and greet each other in passing. Now, I have no desire to rival the flamboyant Baedeker, nor to eclipse my good friend Laurence Hutton. But as I can not find that either mentions the name “Rossetti,” I am going to set down (not in malice) the places in London that are closely connected with the Rossetti family, nothing extenuating.

London is the finest city in the world for the tourist who desires liberty as wide as the wind, and who wishes to live cheaply and live well. In New York, if you want lodgings at a moderate price, you must throttle your pride and forsake respectability; but they do things different in Lunnon, you know. From Gray’s Inn Road to Portland Place, and from Oxford Street to Euston Road, there is just about a square mile–a section, as they say out West–of lodging-houses. Once this part of London was given up to the homes of the great and purse-proud and all that. It is respectable yet, and if you are going to be in London a week you can get a good room in one of these old-time mansions, and pay no more for it than you would pay for a room in an American hotel for one day. And as for meals, your landlady will get you anything you want and serve it for you in the daintiest style, and you will also find that a shilling and a little courtesy will go a very long way in securing creature comforts. American women in London can live in this way just as well as men. If you are a schoolma’am from Peoria, taking your vacation, follow my advice and make your home in the “Bedford District,” within easy reach of Stopford Brooke’s chapel, and your London visit will stand out forever as a bright oasis in memory’s desert waste. All of which I put in here because Larry Hutton forgot to mention it and Mein Herr Baedeker didn’t think it worth while.

When in London I usually get a room near the British Museum for ten shillings a week; and when I want to go anywhere I walk up to the Gower Street Station, past the house where the mother of Charles Dickens had her Young Ladies’ Establishment, and buying a ticket at the “Booking-Office” am duly set down near the desired objective point. You can go anywhere by the “Metropolitan,” or if you prefer to take Mr. Gladstone’s advice, you climb to the top of an Oxford Street bus, and if you sit next the driver you have a directory, guide and familiar friend all at your service.

Charlotte Street is a narrow little passage running just two squares, parallel with Portland Place. The houses are built in blocks of five (or more), of the plainest of plain bricks. The location is not far from the Gower Street Station of the Metropolitan Railway, and only a few minutes’ walk from the British Museum. Number Thirty-eight is the last but one on the east side of the street. When I first saw it, there was a sign in the window, “Apartments,” and back of this fresh cambric curtains. Then the window had been cleaned, too, for a single day of neglect in London tells its tale, as does the record of crime on a rogue’s face. I paused and looked the place over with interest. I noted that the brass plate with the “No. 38” on it had been polished until it had been nearly polished out of sight, like a machine-made sonnet too much gone over. The steps had been freshly sanded, and a little lemon-tree nodding in one of the windows made the rusty old house look quite inviting. A stout little woman with a big market-basket, bumped into me and apologized, for I had stepped backwards to get a better look at the upstairs windows. The stout little woman set down her basket on the steps, took a bunch of keys from a pocket under her big, white, starched apron, selected one, turned to me, smiled, and asked, “Mebbe, Sir, you wasn’t looking for apartments, I dunno?” Then she explained that the house was hers, and that if I would step in she would show me the rooms. There were two of ’em she could spare. The first floor front was already let, and so was the front parlor–to a young barrister. Her husband was a ticket-taker at Euston Station, and didn’t get much since last cutdown. Would I care to pay as much as ten shillings, and would I want breakfast? It would only be ninepence, and I could have either a chop or ham and eggs. She looked after her boarders herself, just as if they were her own folks, and only took respectable single gentlemen who came well recommended. She knew I would like the room, and if ten shillings was too much I could have the back room for seven and six.