Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
24 January 1694

JOHN EVELYN

(pictured), writes in his diary of the Frost Fair held on the frozen Thames:

"The frost still continuing more and more severe, the Thames before London was planted with boothes in formal streets, as in a Citty, or Continual faire, all sorts of Trades and shops furnished, and full of Commodities, even to a Printing presse, where the People and Ladys tooke a fancy to have their names Printed and the day and yeare set downe, when printed on the Thames. This humour tooke so universaly, that 'twas estimated the Printer gained five pound a day, for printing one line only, at sixpence a Name... Coaches now plied from Westminster to the Temple, and from severall other stairs to and fro, as in the streetes; also on sleds, sliding with skates; There was likewise Bull-baiting, Horse and Coach races, Puppet- plays and interludes, Cookes and Tipling, and lewder places; so as it seem'd to be a bacchanalia, Triumph or Carnival on the Water, whilst it was a severe Judgement upon the Land; the Trees not onely splitting as if lightning-struck, but Men and Cattell perishing in divers places, and the very seas so locked up with yce, that no vessells could stirr out, or come in."

25 January 1936

MARIE BELLOC LOWNDES,

novelist, records in her diary the death of George V:

"So little did even those who ought to have known expect that the King was going to die... that a small luncheon party for the Baldwins was not put off till the afternoon of the King's death. Then, and not till then, did Mr Baldwin [the Prime Minister] himself telephone to Julia to say he feared the news had suddenly become very much worse.

My younger daughter managed to get through Downing Street and so had a very good view of the procession as it came down Whitehall from the station on its way to Westminster Hall... She told me that she had never seen anyone look so ill or as unhappy as the Prince of Wales looked that day. He was evidently going through the most fearful mental and physical anguish.

My son-in-law [Lord Iddesleigh] described the marvellous scene in Westminster Hall when all the Lords and Commons received the coffin. The three Royal Duchesses came separately and joined the Queen. They were all wearing continental mourning, swathed from head to toe in black."

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