Friday, May 28, 2010

Miseries of London

Friday, May 28, 2010
Loretta reports:

A lively Rowlandson illustration of a London street scene sent me to the material it illustrated, from one of my favorite books from the Regency era, James Beresford’s, The Miseries of Human Life.  Though written in 1807,  it proves that some aspects of human life haven't changed. The wait in a public office might, for instance, remind some of us of our last visit to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, while others might relate to the “hurry and ferment” of a recent visit to, say New York City.  And who hasn’t dropped money in a taxicab?

While on a short visit to London—the hurry and ferment— the crossing and jostling—the missing and marring—which incessantly happen among all your engagements, purposes, and promises, both of business and pleasure—at home and abroad—from morning till midnight;—obstacles equally perverse, unexpected, unaccountable, innumerable, and intolerable, springing up like mushrooms through every step of your progress. Then, (when you are at last leaving London,) on asking yourself the question whether any thing 'has been neglected, or forgotten, receiving for answer—"Almost every thing!"

In going out to dinner, (already too late,) your carriage delayed by a jam of coaches which choke up the whole street, and allow you at least an hour more than you require, to sharpen your wits for table talk.

In attempting to pay money in the street—emptying your purse into the kennel—the wind taking care of all the paper money.

The unintermitting fever into which you are thrown by being obliged to linger, the whole morning long, amongst a crew of " greasy rogues," in the outer room of a public office, from which you are called out the last—if, indeed, you are called out at all!

In taking out your money in a hackney-coach—dropping the greatest part of it (and all the gold) in the straw then, After grubbing and fumbling after it for an hour, finding nothing but the gaping crevices through which it must have escaped. 


Julie Johnson said...

This is a fantastic blog site! Am really enjoying your enthusiasm, your fun approach to history (a topic viewed by some as so boring & dull)... really is funny how some things never change over the centuries...

Julie Johnson said...

me again...

just wanted to let you know that I referenced your site on my blog a while back (early May) at:

Also, have you considered twitter? This site definitely deserves to be re-tweeted!

Best regards,

Christine Wells said...

Loretta, I loved this excerpt. It could be Jerry Seinfeld, couldn't it, with that wry observational humour? I love how every delay, even scrabbling on the floor of a cab, takes 'an hour'.LOL

As a reader, I connected with this writer immediately because he is experiencing similar frustrations to mine even though it happened centuries ago. A great lesson for a historical writer, isn't it?

Can't wait for LAST NIGHT'S SCANDAL!

Vanessa Kelly said...

I just got back from a few days of visiting friends in New York City. I swear, it was just like this description!

LorettaChase said...

jwriter, we're trying every day to prove our point that it really is fun--and interesting at least when it's not so funny. Julie, thanks. As to Twitter--I'd do it but I've barely enough time as it is to write my books. Social networking is maybe for the prolific, which I'm not, alas. Christine, totally Seinfeld of the 19th C--and the book was incredibly popular--ran even longer than the TV show, right into the 20th C, IIRC. Vanessa--That's what I thought when I read it: "This reminds me of trips to NYC!"

Deb said...

Reminds me of one of my favorite old movies, "The Out-of-Towners", where everything that can go wrong to people visiting New York does. Nothing ever does change, does it? Thanks for the morning laugh.

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

"Miseries" is such a terrific book--don't you think it shows(at the same time)how much life is still the same and how much it has changed? I try to Tweet some of the items, but lots of them are a little long, and I'm glad to see them on your blog!

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