Artemus Ward's Visit to the Tower of London
by Chas. Farrar Browne
I skurcely need inform you that the Tower is very pop'lar
with pe'ple from the agricultooral districks, and it was chiefly
them class which I found waitin' at the gates the other mornin'.
I saw at once that the Tower was established on a firm basis.
In the entire history of firm basises, I don't find a basis more
firmer than this one.
"You have no Tower in America?" said a man in the crowd,
who had somehow detected my denomination.
"Alars! no," I ansered; "we boste of our enterprise and
improovements, and yit we are devoid of a Tower. America,
oh my onhappy country! thou hast not got no Tower! It's a
The gates were opened after a while, and we all purchist
tickets, and went into a waitin' room.
"My frens," said a pale-faced little man, in black close,
"that is a sad day."
"Inasmuch as to how?" I said.
"I mean it is sad to think that so many peple have been
killed within these gloomy walls. My frens, let us drop a
"No!" I said, "you must excuse me. Others may drop
one if they feel like it; but as for me, I decline. The early
managers of this institootion were a bad lot, and their crimes
were trooly orful; but I can't sob for those who died four or
five hundred years ago. If they was my own relations I
couldn't. It's absurd to shed sobs over things which occurd
during the rain of Henry the Three. Let us be cheerful," I
continnered. "Look at the festiv Warders, in their red flannel
jackets. They are cheerful, and why should it not be thusly
A Warder now took us in charge, and showed us the Trater's
Gate, the armers, and things. The Trater's Gate is wide enuff
to admit about twenty traters abrest, I should jedge; but
beyond this, I couldn't see that it was superior to gates in
Traters, I will here remark, are an onforchunit class of pe'ple.
If they wasn't, they wouldn't be traters. They conspire to
bust up a country—they fail, and they're traters. They bust
her, and they become statesmen and heroes.
Take the case of Gloster, afterwards Old Dick the Three, who
may be seen at the Tower on horseback, in a heavy tin overcoat—take
Mr. Gloster's case. Mr. G. was a conspirator of the
basist dye, and if he'd failed, he would have been hung on a
sour apple tree. But Mr. G. succeeded and became great. He
was slewed by Col. Richmond, but he lives in history, and his
equestrian figger may be seen daily for a sixpence, in conjunction
with other em'nent persons, and no extra charge for
the Warder's able and bootiful lectur.
There's one King in this room who is mounted onto a foaming
steed, his right hand graspin a barber's pole. I didn't learn
The room where the daggers and pistils and other weppins is
kept is interestin. Among this collection of choice cutlery I
notist the bow and arrer which those hot-heded old chaps used
to conduct battles with. It is quite like the bow and arrer used
at this date by certain tribes of American Injuns, and they
shoot 'em off with such an excellent precision that I almost
sigh'd to be an Injun when I was in the Rocky Mountain regin.
They are a pleasant lot, them Injuns. Mr. Cooper and
Dr. Catlin have told us of the red man's wonderful eloquence,
and I found it so. Our party was stopt on the plains of Utah
by a band of Shoshones, whose chief said:—
"Brothers! the pale-face is welcome. Brothers! the sun is
sinking in the west, and Wa-na-bucky-she will soon cease
speakin. Brothers! the poor red man belongs to a race which
is fast becomin extink."
He then whooped in a shrill manner, stole our blankets, and
whisky, and fled to the primeval forest to conceal his emotions.
I will remark here, while on the subjeck of Injuns, that they
are in the main a very shaky set, with even less sense than the
Fenians; and when I hear philanthropists bewailin the fack that
every year "carries the noble red man nearer the settin sun,"
I simply have to say I'm glad of it, tho' it is rough on the settin
sun. They call you by the sweet name of Brother one minit,
and the next they scalp you with their Thomas-hawks. But I
wander. Let us return to the Tower.
At one end of the room where the weppins is kept, is a wax
figger of Queen Elizabeth, mounted on a fiery stuffed hoss,
whose glass eye flashes with pride, and whose red morocker
nostril dilates hawtily, as if, conscious of the royal burden he
bears. I have associated Elizabeth with the Spanish Armady.
She's mixed up with it at the Surrey Theatre, where Troo to the
Core is bein acted, and in which a full bally core is introjooced
on board the Spanish Admiral's ship, givin' the audiens the
idea that he intends openin a moosic-hall in Plymouth the
moment he conkers that town. But a very interestin drammer
is Troo to the Core, notwithstandin the eccentric conduct of the
Spanish Admiral; and very nice it is in Queen Elizabeth to
make Martin Truegold a baronet.
The Warder shows us some instrooments of tortur, such as thumbscrews,
throat collars, etc., statin' that these was conkered from the Spanish
Armady, and addin what a crooil peple the Spaniards was in them
days—which elissited from a bright-eyed little girl of about twelve
summers the remark that she tho't it was rich to talk about the crooilty
of the Spaniards usin thumbscrews, when he was in a tower where so many
poor peple's heads had been cut off. This made the Warder stammer and
I was so pleased with the little girl's brightness that I could have
kissed the dear child, and I would if she'd been six years older.
I think my companions intended makin a day of it, for they all had
sandwiches, sassiges, etc. The sad-lookin man, who had wanted us to drop
a tear afore we started to go round, fling'd such quantities of sassige
into his mouth that I expected to see him choke hisself to death; he
said to me, in the Beauchamp Tower, where the poor prisoners writ their
onhappy names on the cold walls, "This is a sad sight."
"It is indeed," I ansered. "You're black in the face. You shouldn't eat
sassige in public without some rehearsals beforehand. You manage it
"No," he said, "I mean this sad room."
Indeed, he was quite right. Tho' so long ago all these drefful things
happened, I was very glad to git away from this gloomy room, and go
where the rich and sparklin Crown Jewils is kept. I was so pleased with
the Queen's Crown, that it occurd to me what a agree'ble surprise it
would be to send a sim'lar one home to my wife; and I asked the Warder
what was the vally of a good well-constructed Crown like that. He told
me, but on cypherin up with a pencil the amount of funs I have in the
Jint Stock Bank, I conclooded I'd send her a genteel silver watch
And so I left the Tower. It is a solid and commandin edifis, but I deny
that it is cheerful. I bid it adoo without a pang.