Wednesday morning Jack and Milt went to Oxford. I walked down The Mall and through St. James Park, taking pictures and watching the picturesque soldiers with [their] dark trousers, red coat, and tall fur hat and much braid and brass on, parade around the Royal Military Academy grounds. I finally walked to Westminster Abbey and went through it. The building is very large and beautiful. There are hundreds of statues, busts, plaques, and groups in memory of most all men famous in English history. Milton, Tennyson, Browning, Southey, Handel, Burns and a host of other poets, musicians, and kings lie there. Over Ben Johnson‘s grave are the words O Rare Ben Johnson. Browning and Tennyson lie side by side under the heavy flagstones of the Poets’ Corner.
Sir Isaac Newton has an attractive monument. There are many fine large stained glass windows there. Longfellow, Samuel Butler, Milton, Southey, Burns, Ben Johnson, Coleridge, Scott, Wordsworth, Pope, Goldsmith, Dickens, Stephenson, and Garrick all have busts and plaques. Shakespeare has a fine statue of himself. The tall arches, high beamed ceiling and gloomy light gave the place an old, sacred air, and surrounded by such a host of truly great men, an awe-inspiring air. Beautiful workmanship is exhibited in the stone exterior and fancy work.
The same is true of the House of Parliament across the street. It is very pretty. Big Ben in the tower measures 22 feet in diameter, I believe. We were only permitted to go through the great hall. It was very large and tall. Bronze plates in the floor and walls mark the sight of famous different trials, etc. After a late lunch I went through the British Museum. In it are fine collections of Roman statues, Egyptian mummies, and Grecian works of art. It also contains a huge library and a wonderful collection of letters and documents from many men famous in history. Among them are letters from George Washington, most of the English kings and a few queens, a description of the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots, a mortgage of Shakespeare’s, original copies of music by Handel, Schumann and many others, and a contract between Milton and a printer for the sale of the copyright of Paradise Lost for £5.
Today Jack and I spent all morning seeing about our passage back to the States [This will be important months later in Cairo], and procuring a German visa. In the afternoon Milt and I took a bus to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is a huge place, but very beautiful inside. We went down in the crypts and saw Wellington’s grave and those of Nelson, Sir Christopher Wren, Florence Nightingale, and the founder of the YMCA. Also the big funeral wagon on which Wellington was carried to St. Paul’s. Next came London Tower. It is sort of a fortress surrounded by a dry moat and walls, and on the banks of the Thames near Tower Bridge. The White Tower was full of exhibitions of armor, including the armor of many kings, guns, swords, cannons and the like. The Bloody Tower was nearby. In it two young princes were killed and thrown down a narrow winding stairs to be buried beneath the floor in the White Tower where they were found many years later. In it Sir Walter Raleigh spent 12 years in imprisonment at the command of James I and there he wrote his history of the world which is still there. In a room in the White Tower he and his wife were thrown by the queen because of irritation caused by the secret marriage of Sir Walter to her first lady-in-waiting. There were instruments of torture there and a beheading block and knife.
Next we saw the crown jewels. Diamond-studded gold crowns, heavily jeweled ornaments, crowns, and great gold plates three feet in diameter and full of marvelous designs. Spoons, dishes, salt sellers, huge wine fountains and chalices, all gold and beautifully wrought. They had wonderful designs, made out of all sorts of precious jewels, one diamond being the largest cut diamond in existence. Millions of dollars worth of gold and jewels.
Leaving the Tower we visited the Port of Authority of London or the clearing house. It is a beautiful new $15,000,000 building of marble. After supper at the Y, letter-writing. Got my jacket from home.