The Fairy Stream
That great common sewer of London, the Thames, a reservoir for mud, slops, slime and filth of every description, has now become a sort of fairy stream, on which our merchants, clerks, and shopmen, with their respective wives, families and mistresses, are wafted a few miles from the noise and bustle of the metropolis, in order to invigorate their smoke-dried lungs with the purer air of what they call the country. Away they go to Greenwich,
Woolwich, or Gravesend, where, after dipping themselves two or three times in a creek of brackish water, they come home and preach a sermon to their friends upon the beneficial effects of sea-air and sea-bathing.
Maps Greenwich Photo Gallery
We never see a sparrow splashing about in a puddle, but we feel convinced that the creature is a cockney; it seems so happy in the littleness of its out-of-door enjoyments; and you may be perfectly certain that it was never ten miles away from London in the whole course of its life.
The crowds of happy faces on board our Thames steam-boats present us with the picture of a world in miniature; and everybody knows that the world on Sunday, unless the day be wet, is a much more joyous affair than on any other day in the week. There are married folks with their wives and families actually going to pass twelve hours together without quarrelling, simply because they are not at home, and can find abundance of novelty to amuse them. There are unmarried folks, linked arm-in-arm together, looking at the married ones and their offspring with positive envy, and thinking, poor deluded creatures, how happy they shall be when the holy banns of wedlock and the parson’s blessing have allowed them to increase and multiply the number of their sympathies.
Then there is the cunning bachelor smoking his cigar in a quiet corner, laughing in his sleeve at both, reading the Town and wondering how people can be so silly as to take an ostensible part in the population of the country. Here sits an old lady in a modest slate coloured silk gown, going to Greenwich to drink tea with her younger sister; and there is a damsel in robes of white, going to meet her lover, and spend a few delicious hours with him in Greenwich Park. Then there’s the band, playing all sorts of tunes.
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