The fog was an incessant problem in London throughout much of the 19th century, and the newspapers were constantly publishing articles about the impact that the pea-souper fogs for which the Victorian metropolis was renowned.
The Dundee Evening Telegraph, in its edition of Wednesday the 8th of February 1882, published the following tongue-in-cheek article about the fogs of London:-
THE EFFECTS OF A LONDON FOG
The accounts of the fog I have seen fail, as, indeed, any description must fail, to convey the idea of the unpleasantness of the situation for the hardy, and of its terrors for the feeble and for women who happened to be away from their homes when, at about half-past four, London was enveloped in gross darkness.
An incident or two which came under my own notice may help your readers to realise the thickness of the fog.
HE LOST HIS HORSE AND CART
A man came up and said that he had lost his horse and cart. He had only gone a few paces on the pavement while asking someone his way.
I thought that I heard the tinkle of harness plates, and a few yards away, on the opposite side of the road, we found the horse and coal waggon that he was looking for.
A FOG COULD BE ENDURABLE
Later in the evening, having an engagement to keep, I made the best of my way on foot into town, finding cause – as the link boys blinded me every now and then with their flaming paper torches, nervous pedestrians flashed the light from their bull’s-eye lanterns in my eyes – to think that life would be very tolerable if it were not for its pleasures, a London fog would be more endurable if it were not for the lights.
THE LOST OMNIBUS
The cabbies, as usual in such emergencies, made for the nearest stables, and the ’buses generally stopped running.
One omnibus, that had been overtaken by the fog, I found in Whitehall.
The driver, having lost sight of the conductor who walked in front with a lantern, had got his horses across the pavement, and was vainly urging the bewildered creatures to walk into the stone walls of the building just north of the Banqueting Hall.
A FAINT NEBULOUS BRIGHTNESS
This is the best-lighted street in London, with the new and improved ever-so-many candle-power gas lamps only about 20 yards apart.
As a matter of fact, one of these lamps appeared only as a faint nebulous brightness before the first glimmer of the next was visible.
A MORE SERIOUS RESULT
The fog may have a more serious result.
It may be the cause of the rupture in the friendly relations between France and the Lord Mayor of London.
His Excellency the French Ambassador presided on Saturday night at a dinner in aid of the French Hospital, instead of dining, as probably he would much rather have done, with Mr W. H. Smith and the leading men of the Conservative party.
The Lord Mayor, who was to have supported M. Challemel-Lacour, did not turn up, and made the fog his excuse.
A PERSONAL SLIGHT
The French Ambassador, I understand, took this as a personal slight, and absolutely refused to propose the health of the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of the City of London, which was down on the printed list of toasts.
Even the tact of Mr. Sheriff Ogg, who proposed his Excellency’s health in well-chosen terms, failed to mollify the indignant Ambassador.