Captain Orr was kind enough to allow us to make the ship our hotel during the Sunday, as it was by no means convenient for us to remove our luggage on that day. My father took me ashore and we walked to Regent's Park. One of my sisters, who was visiting a friend in London, was residing in that neighbourhood. My father so planned his route as to include many of the most remarkable streets and buildings and sights of London. He pointed out the principal objects, and gave me much information about their origin and history.

I was much struck with the beautiful freshness and luxuriant growth of the trees and shrubs in the squares; for spring was then in its first beauty. The loveliness of Regent's Park surprised me. The extent of the space, the brilliancy of the fresh-leaved trees, and the handsome buildings by which the park was surrounded, made it seem to me more splendid than a picture from the Arabian Nights. Under the happy aspect of a brilliant May forenoon, this first long walk through London, with all its happy attendant circumstances, rendered it one of the most vividly remembered incidents in my life. After visiting my sister and giving her all the details of the last news from home, she joined us in our walk down to Westminster Abbey. The first view of the interior stands out in my memory as one of the most impressive sights I ever beheld. I had before read, over and over again, the beautiful description of the Abbey given by Washington Irving in the Sketch Book, one of the most masterly pieces of writing that I know of I now found one of my day-dreams realised.

We next proceeded over Westminster Bridge to call upon my brother Patrick. We found him surrounded by paintings from his beautiful sketches from Nature. Some of them were more or less advanced in the form of exquisite pictures, which now hang on many walls, and will long commemorate his artistic life. We closed this ever memorable day by dining at a tavern at the Surrey end of Waterloo Bridge. We sat at an upper window which commanded a long stretch of the river, and from which we could see the many remarkable buildings, from St. Paul's to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, which lay on the other side of the Thames.

On the following day my father and I set out in search of lodgings, hotels being at that time beyond our economical method of living. We succeeded in securing a tidy lodging at No. 14 Agues Place, Waterloo Road. The locality had a special attraction for me, as it was not far from that focus of interest -- Maudslay's factory. Our luggage was removed from the ship to the lodgings, and my ponderous cases, containing the examples of my skill as an engineer workman, were deposited in a carpenter's workshop close at hand.

I was now anxious for the interview with Maudslay. My father had been introduced to him by a mutual friend some two or three years before, and that was enough. On the morning of May the 26th we set out together, and reached his house in Westminster Road, Lambeth. It adjoined his factory. My father knocked at the door. My own heart beat fast. Would he be at home? Would he receive us? Yes! he was at home; and we were invited to enter.

Mr. Maudslay received us in the most kind and frank manner. After a little conversation my father explained the object of his visit. "My son," he said, pointing to me, "is very anxious to have the opportunity of acquiring a thorough practical knowledge of mechanical engineering, by serving as an apprentice in some such establishment as yours" "Well," replied Maudslay, "I must frankly confess to you that my experience of pupil apprentices has been so unsatisfactory that my partner and myself have determined to discontinue to receive them -- no matter at what premium. This was a very painful blow to myself; for it seemed to put an end to my sanguine expectations.

Mr. Maudslay knew that my father was interested in all matters relating to mechanical engineering, and he courteously invited him to go round the works. Of course I accompanied them. The sight of the workshops astonished me. They excelled all that I had anticipated. The beautiful machine tools, the silent smooth whirl of the machinery, the active movements of the men, the excellent quality of the work in progress, and the admirable order and management that pervaded the whole establishment, rendered me more tremblingly anxious than ever to obtain some employment there, in however humble a capacity.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.