The People of the Abyss eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about The People of the Abyss.

After a shave and a bath, with my clothes all off, I got in between clean white sheets and went to sleep.  It was six in the evening when I closed my eyes.  When they opened again, the clocks were striking nine next morning.  I had slept fifteen straight hours.  And as I lay there drowsily, my mind went back to the seven hundred unfortunates I had left waiting for services.  No bath, no shave for them, no clean white sheets and all clothes off, and fifteen hours’ straight sleep.  Services over, it was the weary streets again, the problem of a crust of bread ere night, and the long sleepless night in the streets, and the pondering of the problem of how to obtain a crust at dawn.


   O thou that sea-walls sever
   From lands unwalled by seas! 
   Wilt thou endure forever,
   O Milton’s England, these? 
   Thou that wast his Republic,
   Wilt thou clasp their knees? 
   These royalties rust-eaten,
   These worm-corroded lies
   That keep thy head storm-beaten,
   And sun-like strength of eyes
   From the open air and heaven
   Of intercepted skies!


Vivat Rex Eduardus!  They crowned a king this day, and there has been great rejoicing and elaborate tomfoolery, and I am perplexed and saddened.  I never saw anything to compare with the pageant, except Yankee circuses and Alhambra ballets; nor did I ever see anything so hopeless and so tragic.

To have enjoyed the Coronation procession, I should have come straight from America to the Hotel Cecil, and straight from the Hotel Cecil to a five-guinea seat among the washed.  My mistake was in coming from the unwashed of the East End.  There were not many who came from that quarter.  The East End, as a whole, remained in the East End and got drunk.  The Socialists, Democrats, and Republicans went off to the country for a breath of fresh air, quite unaffected by the fact that four hundred millions of people were taking to themselves a crowned and anointed ruler.  Six thousand five hundred prelates, priests, statesmen, princes, and warriors beheld the crowning and anointing, and the rest of us the pageant as it passed.

I saw it at Trafalgar Square, “the most splendid site in Europe,” and the very innermost heart of the empire.  There were many thousands of us, all checked and held in order by a superb display of armed power.  The line of march was double-walled with soldiers.  The base of the Nelson Column was triple-fringed with bluejackets.  Eastward, at the entrance to the square, stood the Royal Marine Artillery.  In the triangle of Pall Mall and Cockspur Street, the statue of George III. was buttressed on either side by the Lancers and Hussars.  To the west were the red-coats of the Royal Marines, and from the Union Club to the embouchure of Whitehall swept the glittering, massive curve of the 1st Life Guards—­gigantic men mounted on gigantic chargers, steel-breastplated, steel-helmeted, steel-caparisoned, a great war-sword of steel ready to the hand of the powers that be.  And further, throughout the crowd, were flung long lines of the Metropolitan Constabulary, while in the rear were the reserves—­tall, well-fed men, with weapons to wield and muscles to wield them in ease of need.

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The People of the Abyss from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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