BLTC Press Titles

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Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh


by Theosophical Publishing Society (London, England)


Well, hear what it was, and then judge for yourselves. First of all, however, the reader has to get acquainted with me. Let him know, then, that I am a woman who has long since passed the prime of life, but who is nevertheless of a very inquisitive and even enterprising nature. Though a tolerably old traveller, I have never visited London before, and see it now for the first time. Add to this that my visit is to be a very short one, and my anxiety and feverish interest to see all worth seeing in the great metropolis becomes quite natural. The truth is that I have always been a fervent student of English history and literature, and even of English life, and this accounts still further for my great interest in the Modern Babylon and its ways. And so here I am, for a little over a month, wandering, "Baedecker" in hand, from early morn till dusk, often by myself—a fact I have had no opportunity of regretting. Very well satisfied with London sights and London wonders, I am no less pleased with its citizens. For, although my "Guide-Book " is of great use to me in general, still I am often compelled to ask my way of the people I meet; and I have always found them most obliging and ready to furnish me with any information I wanted.

But on the memorable day of my visit to the Tower, I had a Russian gentleman with me, who had offered a few days before to become my guide. He was a countryman of mine and seemed well acquainted with England and its metropolis. He had thus become my cicerone and companion for several consecutive days.

And very pleasant they were indeed, these few days. We made the most of them in excursions to parks, palaces, museums, picture galleries, and historical places. For a week or so we lived mostly in the Past, keeping company with British Kings and Queens, their statesmen and courtladies; poking irreverently our fingers at every great man of England and passing impudent remarks on once crowned heads, under their very noses. Sic transit gloria. It was a motley crowd, passed away long centuries ago, and pretty well forgotten by this time.

It so happened that with all our incessant ramblings we had not yet visited the Tower. Nor was it quite unintentional—not on my part, at any rate. Of late I had indulged in the pleasant occupation of refreshing my memory every night by reading about the places we intended to visit on the next day. I was in search of a book which I had read and very much enjoyed years ago—Dixon's " Story of the Tower," its inmates and their acts and deeds. But, as fate would have it, I could not lay my hand on it. The days, however, that my companion, the Russian gentleman could spare for sight-seeing were drawing to an end, and so we had no time to lose.

Of this fact I was assured by himself on one bright August morning, when, owing to some wandering whim of his, we found ourselves standing on a very uninteresting spot on the right bank of the Thames. It was quite near the old St. Olave's Street, corrupted of late into the meaningless Tooley Street. Just in front of us, on the opposite bank of the river, arose the massive and gloomy walls of that ancient structure, which had been once a palace, then a state-prison full of dark dungeons, a fortress, and had now become an arsenal and a treasury ward of the old relics and emblems of royalty—the venerable old Tower, in short.

"Would you mind going there straight and by the shortest cut?" asked my companion.

"I have no objection to it," I replied, "But how about the means of transit? The nearest bridge is still a good way off; and this does not seem a favourite place of resort for either 'bus, cab or hansom. . . . This is an out-of-the-way corner, I fear. . . . Unfortunately, I already feel sufficiently tired, as it is; and. you know, one should not feel quite exhausted if one would visit the Tower. What can we do, do you think?"

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