Viewing the local antiquities

The original title 
for this work was "Whoring," but that seemed too raw, even in a blog that seeks out concrete, factual language.

So before I sought a readership, I changed the title to Viewing the local antiquities. The phrase—an unremembered quotation?—has an Eighteenth Century feel, doesn't it? The light touch that sons of English gentlemen would use, on the Grand Tour, writing the letter home before an evening of whoring. And "antiquities" does suggest the oldest profession.

Just now I googled on "local antiquities", and came up with this quotation, from the Gutenberg Project's edition of Oliver Wendell Holmes's One Hundred Days in Europe:
The whole group to which Goldsmith belonged came up before me, and as the centre of that group the great Dr. Johnson; not the Johnson of the "Rambler," or of "The Vanity of Human Wishes," or even of "Rasselas," but Boswell's Johnson, dear to all of us, the "Grand Old Man" of his time, whose foibles we care more for than for most great men's virtues. ... I was very sorry to find that No. 3, where he lived, was demolished, and a new building erected in its place. In one of the other houses in this court he is said to have labored on his dictionary. Near by was a building of mean aspect, in which Goldsmith is said to have at one time resided. But my kind conductor did not profess to be well acquainted with the local antiquities of this quarter of London.

If I had a long future before me, I should like above all things to study London with a dark lantern, so to speak, myself in deepest shadow and all I wanted to see in clearest light. Then I should want time, time, time. For it is a sad fact that sight-seeing as commonly done is one of the most wearying things in the world, and takes the life out of any but the sturdiest or the most elastic natures more efficiently than would a reasonable amount of daily exercise on a treadmill. In my younger days I used to find that a visit to the gallery of the Louvre was followed by more fatigue and exhaustion than the same amount of time spent in walking the wards of a hospital.

So, not antiquities, viewed, but viewed antiquities: Viewed "in clear light" but from a distance. As the sons of English gentlemen were the first mountain climbers, so they were the first tourists.

Gentlemen who were from somewhere else, detached: Above all, able to leave.

See also The leaf of the domain tree.



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