A few days ago we had a real fog—a specimen of November weather, as the people said. If November wears such a mantle, London, during that sober month, must furnish a good idea of the gloom of Hades. The streets wore wrapped in a veil of dense mist, of a dirty yellow color, as if the air had suddenly grown thick and mouldy. The houses on the opposite sides of the street were invisible, and the gas lamps, lighted in the shops, burned with a white and ghastly flame. Carriages ran together in the streets, and I was kept constantly on the look-out, lest some one should come suddenly out of the cloud around me, and we should meet with a shock like that of two knights at a tournament. As I stood in the centre of Trafalgar Square, with every object invisible around me, it reminded me, (hoping the comparison will not be accepted in every particular) of Satan resting in the middle of Chaos. The weather sometimes continues thus for whole days together.
April 26.—An hour and a half of land are still allowed us, and then we shall set foot on the back of the oak-ribbed leviathan, which will be our home until a thousand leagues of blue ocean are crossed. I shall hear the old Aldgate clock strike for the last time—I shall take a last walk through the Minories and past the Tower yard, and as we glide down the Thames, St. Pauls, half-hidden in mist and coal-smoke, will probably be my last glimpse of London.
We slid out of St. Katharine’s Dock at noon on the appointed day, and with a pair of sooty steamboats hitched to our vessel, moved slowly down the Thames in mist and drizzling rain. I stayed on the wet deck all afternoon, that I might more forcibly and joyously feel we were again in motion on the waters and homeward bound! My attention was divided between the dreary views of Blackwall, Greenwich and Woolwich, and the motley throng of passengers who were to form our ocean society. An English family, going out to settle in Canada, were gathered together in great distress and anxiety, for the father had gone ashore in London at a late hour, and was left behind. When we anchored for the night at Gravesend, their fears were quieted by his arrival in a skiff from the shore, as he had immediately followed us by railroad.
My cousin and B—— had hastened on from Paris to join me, and a day before the sailing of the “Victoria,” we took berths in the second cabin, for twelve pounds ten shillings each, which in the London line of packets, includes coarse but substantial fare for the whole voyage. Our funds were insufficient to pay even this; but Captain Morgan, less mistrustful than my Norman landlord, generously agreed that the remainder of the fare should be paid in America. B—— and I, with two young Englishmen, took possession of a State-room of rough boards, lighted by a bull’s-eye, which in stormy weather leaked so much that our trunks swam in water. A narrow mattrass and blanket, with a knapsack for a pillow, formed a passable bed. A long entry between the rooms, lighted by a feeble swinging lamp, was filled with a board table, around which the thirty-two second cabin passengers met to discuss politics and salt pork, favorable winds and hard sea-biscuit.