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Coronation Day

LET us go backward a few hours, and place ourselves in Westminster Abbey, at
four o’clock in the morning of this memorable Coronation Day. We are not
without company; for although it is still night, we find the torch-lighted galleries
already filling up with people who are well content to sit still and wait seven or
eight hours till the time shall come for them to see what they may not hope to see
twice in their lives-the coronation of a king. Yes, London and Westminster have
been astir ever since the warning guns boomed at three o’clock, and already
crowds of untitled rich folk who have bought the privilege of trying to find
sittingroom in the galleries are flocking in at the entrances reserved for their sort.
The hours drag along, tediously enough. All stir has ceased for some time, for
every gallery has long ago been packed. We may sit now, and look and think at
our leisure. We have glimpses here and there and yonder, through the dim
cathedral twilight, of portions of many galleries and balconies, wedged full with
people, the other portions of these galleries and balconies being cut off from
sight by intervening pillars and architectural projections. We have in view the
whole of the great north transept-empty, and waiting for England’s privileged
ones. We see also the ample area or platform, carpeted with rich stuffs, whereon
the throne stands. The throne occupies the center of the platform, and is raised
above it upon an elevation of four steps. Within the seat of the throne is inclosed
a rough flat rock-the Stone of Scone-which many generations of Scottish kings
sat on to be crowned, and so it in time became holy enough to answer a like
purpose for English monarchs. Both the throne and its footstool are covered with

Stillness reigns, the torches blink dully, the time drags heavily. But at last the
lagging daylight asserts itself, the torches are extinguished, and a mellow
radiance suffuses the great spaces. All features of the noble building are distinct
now, but soft and dreamy, for the sun is lightly veiled with clouds.

At seven o’clock the first break in the drowsy monotony occurs; for on the stroke
of this hour the first peeress enters the transept, clothed like Solomon for
splendor, and is conducted to her appointed place by an official clad in satins
and velvets, whilst a duplicate of him gathers up the lady’s long train, follows
after, and, when the lady is seated, arranges the train across her lap for her. He
then places her footstool according to her desire, after which he puts her coronet
where it will be convenient to her hand when the time for the simultaneous
coroneting of the nobles shall arrive.

By this time the peeresses are flowing in in a glittering stream, and satin-clad
officials are flitting and glinting everywhere, seating them and making them
comfortable. The scene is animated enough now. There is stir and life, and
shifting color everywhere. After a time, quiet reigns again; for the peeresses are
all come, and are all in their places-a solid acre, or such a matter, of human
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