To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years, and take rank, not as a prophet, but as an unteachable brat, well birched and none the wiser. It is as if a ship captain should sail to India from the Port of London; and having brought a chart of the Thames on deck at his first setting out, should obstinately use no other for the whole voyage.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Trains are great dirty smoky things, " said Will. "You won't like it." Tessa was unmoved. "I won't know if I like it until I try it, will I?" "I've never swum naked in the Thames before, but I know I wouldn't like it." "But think how entertaining for sightseers, " said Tessa, and she saw Jem duck his head to hide the quick flash of his grin.
There was no moon but the night sky was a riot of crisp and glittering autumn stars. There were streetlights too and lights on buildings and on bridges which looked like earthbound stars and they glimmered repeated as they were reflected with the city in the night water of the Thames. It's fairyland thought Richard.
Lord Maccon, being Lord Maccon and good at such things, then changed, right there in the Thames, from dog-paddling wolf to large man treading water. He did so flawlessly, so that his head never went under the water. Professor Lyall suspected him of practicing such maneuvers in the bathtub.
She went downstairs slowly and sat in front of the fire, rocking herself to and fro as she imagined all of the harm he might have suffered: she could see him enticed into a car by a stranger, she could see him knocked down by a lorry in the road, she could see him falling into the Thames and being carried away by the tide. It was her instinctive belief, however, that if she dwelled upon such scenes in sufficient detail she could prevent them from occurring: anxiety was, for her, a form of prayer. And then she spoke his name aloud, as if she were able to conjure him into existence.
Everything I loved had been dead for two centuries--or, as in the case of Graeco-Roman classicism, for two milenniums. I am never a part of anything around me--in everything I am an outsider. Should I find it possible to crawl backward through the Halls of Time to that age which is nearest my own fancy, I should doubtless be bawled out of the coffee-houses for heresy in religion, or else lampooned by John Dennis till I found refuge in the deep, silent Thames, that covers many another unfortunate.
H. P. Lovecraft
My New Year's Eve is always 2 July, the night before my birthday. That's the night I make my resolutions. And this year scares the life out of me, because no matter how successful, how good things appear, there is always a deep core of failure within me, although I am trying to deal with it. My biggest fear, this coming year, is that I will be waking up alone. It makes me wonder how many bodies will be fished out of the Thames, how many decaying corpses will be found in one-room flats. I'm just being realistic.
Isabel Valverde was coming home. The brief, terrible letter from her brother had brought her across five thousand miles of ocean, from the New World to the Old, and during the long voyage she thought she had prepared herself for the worst. But now that London lay just beyond the next bend of the River Thames, she dreaded what awaited her. The not knowing - that was the hardest. Would she find her mother still a prisoner awaiting execution? Horrifying though that was, Isabel could at least hope to see her one last time. Or had her mother already been hanged?
The great city seemed to weigh upon me, as though it were crushing me under its heap of brick and stone. Gray, drizzly skies, congested streets, the soot-belching boats and barges chugging up and down the Thames, the teeming mass of four millions hastening about the countless activities of daily life in a metropolis, things adventurous, meaningful, spiritual, quotidian, futile, criminal, meaningless and absurd. Amidst this seething stew of humanity, I painted.
I have a confession to make. Yesterday, I was responsible for the deaths of millions of Britons. What happened is that MI5 asked me to trail Mehan Asnik, a suspected terrorist, through the streets of London. He had escaped from our security services while infected with a plague virus. Tracking him on CCTV, I swear I had him but then, in the rush-hour bustle, lost him. When the secure mobile rang, it was Harry Pearce at Thames House, chewing me out for the slaughter that had been caused by my mistake.
No, the last thing she cared about was whether people were staring at the boy and girl kissing by the river, as London, it's cities and towers and churches and bridges and streets, circled all about them like the memory of a dream. And if the Thames that ran beside them, sure and silver in the afternoon light, recalled a night long ago when the moon shone as brightly as a shilling on this same boy and girl, or if the stones of Blackfriars knew the tread of their feet and thought to themselves: At last, the wheel comes to a full circle, they kept their silence.
Kinship among nations is not determined in such measurements as proximity of size and age. Rather we should turn to those inner things - call them what you will - I mean those intangibles that are the real treasures free men possess. To preserve his freedom of worship, his equality before law, his liberty to speak and act as he sees fit, subject only to provisions that he trespass not upon similar rights of others - a Londoner will fight. So will a citizen of Abilene. When we consider these things, then the valley of the Thames draws closer to the farms of Kansas and the plains of Texas.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
I know you adore Father, but he isn't the white knight you imagine him to be. He never was. True, he's charming and loving in his way. But he's selfish. He's a limited man determined to bring about his own end-" "But-" Tom grabs both my hands in his and gives them a small squeeze. "Gemma, you can't save him. Why can't you accept that?" I see my reflection on the surface of the Thames. My face is a watery outline, all blurred edges with nothing settled. "Because if I let go of that" - I swallow hard, once, twice - "then I have to accept that I am alone." The ship's horn howls again as it slips out toward sea. Tom's reflection appears beside mine, just as uncertain. "We're every one of us alone in this world, Gemma." He doesn't say it bitterly. "But you have company, if you want.
I wander thro' each charter'd street, Near where the charter'd Thames does flow, And mark in every face I meet Marks of weakness, marks of woe. In every cry of every Man, In every Infant's cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, The mind-forg'd manacles I hear. How the Chimney-sweeper's cry Every black'ning Church appalls; And the hapless Soldier's sigh Runs in blood down Palace walls. But most thro' midnight streets I hear How the youthful Harlot's curse Blasts the new born Infant's tear, And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.
I went down not long ago to the Mad River, under the willows I knelt and drank from that crumpled flow, call it what madness you will, there's a sickness worse than the risk of death and that's forgetting what we should never forget. Tecumseh lived here. The wounds of the past are ignored, but hang on like the litter that snags among the yellow branches, newspapers and plastic bags, after the rains. Where are the Shawnee now? Do you know? Or would you have to write to Washington, and even then, whatever they said, would you believe it? Sometimes I would like to paint my body red and go into the glittering snow to die. His name meant Shooting Star. From Mad River country north to the border he gathered the tribes and armed them one more time. He vowed to keep Ohio and it took him over twenty years to fail. After the bloody and final fighting, at Thames, it was over, except his body could not be found, and you can do whatever you want with that, say his people came in the black leaves of the night and hauled him to a secret grave, or that he turned into a little boy again, and leaped into a birch canoe and went rowing home down the rivers. Anyway this much I'm sure of: if we meet him, we'll know it, he will still be so angry.
There, there, sweetin', ' he murmured into her hair. 'He loved me, he truly did, ' she gasped. 'I know he did, ' Michael said. 'And I loved him.' 'Mm-hmm.' She raised her head, glaring angrily. 'You don't even believe in love. Why are you agreeing with me?' He laughed. 'Because'-he leaned down and licked at the tears on her cheeks, his lips brushing softly against her sensitive skin as he spoke, 'ye've bewitched and bespelled me, my sweet Silence, didn't ye know? I'll agree that the sky is pink, that the moon is made o' marzipan and sugared raisins, and that mermaids swim the muddy waters o' the Thames, if ye'll only stop weepin'. Me chest breaks apart and gapes wide open when I see tears in yer pretty eyes. Me lungs, me liver, and me heart cannot stand to be thus exposed.' She stopped breathing. She simply inhaled and stopped, looking at him in wonder. His lips were quirked in a mocking smile, but his eyes-his fathomless black eyes-seemed to hold a great pain as if his strong chest really had been split open.
The city which lay below was a charnel house built on multi-layered bones centuries older than those which lay beneath the cities of Hamburg or Dresden. Was this knowledge part of the mystery it held for her, a mystery felt most strongly on a bell-chimed Sunday on her solitary exploration of its hidden alleys and squares? Time had fascinated her from childhood, its apparent power to move at different speeds, the dissolution it wrought on minds and bodies, her sense that each moment, all moments past and those to come, were fused into an illusory present which with every breath became the unalterable, indestructible past. In the City of London these moments were caught and solidified in stone and brick, in churches and monuments and in bridges which spanned the grey-brown ever-flowing Thames. She would walk out in spring or summer as early as six o'clock, double-locking the front door behind her, stepping into a silence more profound and mysterious than the absence of noise. Sometimes in this solitary perambulation it seenmed that her own footsteps were muted, as if some part of her were afraid to waken the dead who had walked thse streets and had known the same silence.
I have had so many Dwellings, Nat, that I know these Streets as well as a strowling Beggar: I was born in this Nest of Death and Contagion and now, as they say, I have learned to feather it. When first I was with Sir Chris. I found lodgings in Phenix Street off Hogg Lane, close by St Giles and Tottenham Fields, and then in later times I was lodged at the corner of Queen Street and Thames Street, next to the Blew Posts in Cheapside. (It is still there, said Nat stirring up from his Seat, I have passed it!) In the time before the Fire, Nat, most of the buildings in London were made of timber and plaister, and stones were so cheap that a man might have a cart-load of them for six-pence or seven-pence; but now, like the Aegyptians, we are all for Stone. (And Nat broke in, I am for Stone!) The common sort of People gawp at the prodigious Rate of Building and exclaim to each other London is now another City or that House was not there Yesterday or the Situacion of the Streets is quite Changd (I contemn them when they say such things! Nat adds). But this Capital City of the World of Affliction is still the Capitol of Darknesse, or the Dungeon of Man's Desires: still in the Centre are no proper Streets nor Houses but a Wilderness of dirty rotten Sheds, allways tumbling or takeing Fire, with winding crooked passages, lakes of Mire and rills of stinking Mud, as befits the smokey grove of Moloch. (I have heard of that Gentleman, says Nat all a quiver). It is true that in what we call the Out-parts there are numberless ranges of new Buildings: in my old Black-Eagle Street, Nat, tenements have been rais'd and where my Mother and Father stared without understanding at their Destroyer (Death! he cryed) new-built Chambers swarm with life. But what a Chaos and Confusion is there: meer fields of Grass give way to crooked Passages and quiet Lanes to smoking Factors, and these new Houses, commonly built by the London workmen, are often burning and frequently tumbling down (I saw one, says he, I saw one tumbling!). Thus London grows more Monstrous, Straggling and out of all Shape: in this Hive of Noise and Ignorance, Nat, we are tyed to the World as to a sensible Carcasse and as we cross the stinking Body we call out What News? or What's a clock? And thus do I pass my Days a stranger to mankind. I'll not be a Stander-by, but you will not see me pass among them in the World. (You will disquiet your self, Master, says Nat coming towards me). And what a World is it, of Tricking and Bartering, Buying and Selling, Borrowing and Lending, Paying and Receiving; when I walk among the Piss and Sir-reverence of the Streets I hear, Money makes the old Wife trot, Money makes the Mare to go (and Nat adds, What Words won't do, Gold will). What is their God but shineing Dirt and to sing its Devotions come the Westminster-Hall-whores, the Charing-cross whores, the Whitehall whores, the Channel-row whores, the Strand whores, the Fleet Street whores, the Temple-bar whores; and they are followed in the same Catch by the Riband weavers, the Silver-lace makers, the Upholsterers, the Cabinet-makers, Watermen, Carmen, Porters, Plaisterers, Lightemen, Footmen, Shopkeepers, Journey-men... and my Voice grew faint through the Curtain of my Pain.