Of all the bridges that cross the Thames, none is so famous as that which bears the appropriate name of London. Moreover, until the recent construction of the new Tower Bridge, it had the distinction of being the last to span the volume of the Thames, and was the nearest to the sea, which is about sixty miles away. Opened to traffic in 1831, its cost was about eight millions of dollars, and the lamp-posts along its sides are said to have been cast from cannon captured from the French in Spain. It is not, however, the external features of this granite viaduct that make it fascinating to the student of humanity and history. It is the fact that this great artery of London's mighty frame, morethanaught else, suggests the vastness of the city. A soldier in a battle knows little of what is going on beyond the narrow limits of his own position. He cannot tell whether, across the ridge, or in the shadow of the forest, his friends are being beaten, or are vanquishing the foe; but he does know that he is participating in a general engagement of great magnitude; and, in the breathless pauses of the conflict just around him, he hears the muffled throb of distant guns, the multitudinous rattle of musketry, the bugle's piercing notes, the roll of drums and shouts of maddened men, all of which form together the colossal roar of battle. So he who stands on London Bridge perceives, instinctively, avast pervading undertone of deep-voiced life beyond the immediate torrent of humanity which is rolling on as constantly, and in as undimin is h ed volume, as the Thames beneath. In view of the immensity of London and its constant traffic, it may appear to some incredible that the French novelist, Daudet, was sincere when he declared that what impressed him most in Britain's capital was its stillness; yet every observant tourist knows that the remark was not a paradox. London is the most silent of great cities, not only from its admirable and comparatively noiseless pavements of wood or asphalt, but from its numerous enclosures, courts, and "inns," from which the roar of the metropolis is so entirely excluded that the effect is delightful.
Albert Memorial Hall.
Dickens described this perfectly when he said of Staple Inn: "It is one of these nooks, the turning into which out of the clashing street imparts to the relieved pedestrian the sensation of having put cotton in his ears and velvet soles on his boots." Some of these islands in a sea of sound are picturesque, quaint areas, where lawyers have had chambers and literary men studios for more than a hundred years; while others, like the enormous buildings of the Temple and Lincoln's Inn, are both imposing in appearance and rich in historic memories. These are, indeed, ideal places for the student, since they combine retirement and quiet, with close proximity to the life of the city. "High thinking" is not necessarily born in solitude. To the disciplined thinker a secluded life is neither necessary nor beneficial. The forces that sustain and stimulate the race, to-day, are born of friction and association, and are developed, not in the country, but in cities; and even if the modern man does seek retirement to recuperate his strength, he will employ that strength in contact with his fellows. Far down the river, at the eastern extremity of the " Old City," stands the famous Tower of London. The name is misleading; for, judging merely from its title, the visitor would expect to find one solitary tower rising above the Thames, as Hadrian's Mausoleum frowns upon the Tiber. In reality, however, the Tower of London contains many towers, being a vast expanse of venerable strongholds, turrets, walls, and bastions encompassed on three sides by a deep moat, and guarded on the fourth by "Father Thames." Still, as there is a "City" within London itself, so in the area of twenty-six acres occupied by the Tower, there is one structure in particular which antedates all its associates. This bears the name of the White Tower, not, certainly, because its history is spotless, but from the fact that formerly its walls were painted white. It is the oldest palace-prison (not a ruin) in the world; and yet, undoubtedly, a Roman fortress preceded it, and the White Tower rests upon foundations laid by legionaries from the Tiber. It was William the Conqueror, who, in 1078, caused this old Norman fortress to be built, and a more durable edifice would be hard to find. One hundred feet high, one hundred feet square, its grim and haggard features have defied the tempests of eight hundred years.