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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 205 [01-23-1861]

              193
  Letter from Bellew to the N.Y. Courier. (Written
as it happened on the day upon which I received one from him.)

[newspaper clipping: first column]
Letter from Our Special London Corre-
	spondent.
  London Fog.  The Genuine Article.  Fog Mad.  The
Seventh Regiment.  The Preparation for them.  London
Notion of Volunteers.  London Theatres.  Peculiar Ideas
of John Bull about Places of Amusement.  Bourcicault�s
Fortunate Exploits.  A New Theatre to be built for John
Brougham, &c., &c., &c.
			JANUARY 23d, 1861.
DEAR COURIER:
  To date my letters from London would be an absurdity.
I am living in Fog.  London, to be sure, may be some-
where around, amongst the smoke, but fog is the princi-
pal thing��that is what I live in, what everybody lives
in.  I know it is a very stale joke, to laugh at London at-
mosphere.  I am aware that it is a time-honored custom
with travelers to anathematize the yellow medium,
which cockneys call �h�air.�  I know it is a trite, worn-
out, threadbare subject, but what is a fellow to do, who
is living in it, who is full of it, (literally)?  I must speak
or explode!  The fog is everywhere, out in the streets�
the Parks�the Squares�I find it in my bed room, up
my nose, down my throat, in my pockets.  It gets into
my hair and makes my tresses sticky, so that it hurts
when I comb myself.  It penetrates my eyes, my ears,
my brain, my boots, my shoes, my stockings.  It gets
into my conversation, into my bed, into my letters, into, 
on to, over, under, around everything!  I am going fog
mad.  Ha! a-h-h-h��h!  I suspect I am very dirty,
but am not certain, not having seen myself for weeks.
During the day there is so little light, and the mirrors
are so begrimed with smoke�that they reflect nothing
but a dim silhouette.  At night�well, you may guess
that satisfaction you can get out of a couple of candles,
in an atmosphere about as thick as Mississippi water.
They don�t burn gas in the houses here�they have a
prejudice against it!  It is not considered wholesome!
But�I like the word, but, it is a fine, full flavored, useful
word; it is the sponge of the vocabulary, it wipes out all
you may have said before, (if you choose to use it), and
enable you to start afresh, it is a kind of etymological
bankrupt act, which clears off old accounts, and allows
you to start afresh.  For example, Brown is a first-rate,
open hearted, generous fellow, BUT��then let poor
Brown look out for himself�but enough of buts, and 
enough of fogs.
  There is a good deal of talk here in London, just now,
amongst the Volunteers, about a project, set on foor
some time ago, to invite our gallant Seventh over here
during the coming summer.  It rather strikes me that
these London recruits will be not a little astonished at
the drill and discipline of the Seventh.  I hear from Vol-
unteer officers that they cannot hammer into the heads
of their men that a soldier should obey orders�being
Volunteers they think they have a right to do as they
like, so you may fancy how they get along.  I amuse
myself sometimes by dropping into inn parlors and gra-
dually drawing the conversation of the assembled old
fogies to the subject of this Seventh invitation, and then
to their remarks.  �What,� says an old fellow, �going

[newspaper clipping: second column]
to invite the Yankees over �ere?  Well, there�s some
sense in that!  Has to �aving a lot of those French fellers
as they was a talking of a going to do, its perfectly re-
dickless.  You can�t hunderstand them d�ye see to begin
with, and then if you did, why what then?  Why no-
thing, that�s what I allers says, and what�s the use?
Excuse me, sir, the liberty I take with a gentleman
whose acquaintance, I�ah, haven�t the honor to be ac-
quainted with, but would you go so far oblige me by
laying your finger on the bell close by you?  I think I�ll
take a little �ollands and �ot water.  Ah! I thank you,
sir, I am much obliged.�
  My impression is that the Seventh will have a roaring
reception here if they come over.
  John Brougham is here, though not now playing any
engagement.  His first appearance at the Haymarket
Theatre was most successful, in spite of some prejudice
existing against him at first, on account of being an
American!  John, it seems, is going to have a theatre
of his own in London�I do not mean John Bull, but John
Brougham.  Some enterprising capitalists have under-
taken to erect one for him in Regent Circus, and Brough-
am intends to show Bull what a theatre ought to be.  At
present the English notion of a place of amusement is a
building that has a disagreeable smell, where people go
to be swindled by box-keepers; a place, in fact, where
you pay the price of your entertainment through the
nose.  Besides which, in London playhouses the seats
are hard and narrow, the floors dirty, the audience noisy,
the entrances dangerous, the check-takers insolent�the
whole dear and dirty.
  At the present time famine is very prevalent in Eng-
land; large numbers of the �lower orders� are starving
to death.  London�s streets are crowded with gangs of
Narvies, begging for bread.  It is impossible to convey
any idea of the piteous wailing of these big, broad-shoul-
dered, manly-looking fellows.  Six or eight will be in a 
gang; first one cries �We�re a�a�a�ll frozen out,�
then another takes it up, the first still continuing, then
another and another, till they�re all crying together�
�We�re a�a�a�ll frozen out,� not in chorus but some-
what on the principle of a glee; but what a glee!  Some-
times the beggars are gardeners, in which case they
carry a frozen vegetable fastened to the end of a long
pole.
  Talking of famine, Bourcicault and his wife are making
four hundred dollars per week, between them, at the
Lyceum.  There has been a rumor floating round to the
effect that the author of the �colleen Bawn� intended
starting a Theatre on the American one price�no swind-
ling principle�but this is now contradicted.  We have
a good many American Missionaries teaching these H
dropping barbarians a little civilization; but there is
plenty of room for more.
  One Mr. G. F. Train is trying to convince cockneydom
of the superiority of our horse-railroads and cars over
the common omnibuses; but they won�t see it.  Poor
Train; he has been working like a steam-engine for
months and months, trying to get a grain of common un-
derstanding into or out of John Bull�s head: let us hope
he has an extra, elastic, vulcanized heart, for it he               
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