A Frenchman sees England in the ‘Fifties, 1856

Crystal Palace 1856

“I do not know if the English ever rest; but London never sleeps. Yet the day is busy enough. At all hours workshops are full and the resorts of idlers overflow. Although the town has a population of almost three million souls, one cannot account for the number of people about. The streets are seething with traffic, entire populations are floating on the Thames, the parks are strewn with loafers, monuments with sightseers, the gardens and pleasances of the neighbourhood are overrun with trippers, and the bustle never decreases during the whole week…

…They eat at all hours, everywhere and unceasingly. Their cast-iron digestive organs enable them to withstand and even thrive upon an alimentary diet which would more than satisfy the appetite of wolves. The fare of a delicate, ethereal girl would easily still the inner cravings of two Parisian bargees.”

A Frenchman sees England in the ‘Fifties, Francis Wey, translated by Valerie Pirie, 1856.

Photo: Philip Henry Delamotte- Crystal Palace, 1856