Reception for foreign ambassadors

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Among the many brave shows and processions which the Thames has borne on its broad bosom, the state entries of foreign ambassadors into the capital are not among the least.

It was the custom for foreign ambassadors, after landing at Dover, to proceed to Canterbury and then to Gravesend, where a state barge would await them, other state barges being provided for their retinue.

They were met at Gravesend by the Lord Mayor and his Sheriffs in their state barges, and also by those of some of the City Companies. With their escort, they came up the river with flags flying and with music, and disembarked at the Tower Stairs. There they were met by some of the King's state coaches and conveyed through the city to Whitehall.

No better route could have been chosen to convey to the ambassador and his suite the extent of the wealth and beauty of this realm of England.

The pleasant journey through one of the loveliest counties, the high state of culture of the fields and orchards, the old cathedral city embosomed in trees, the pleasant and peaceful port at Gravesend.

Then the journey up the river, past the innumerable craft and shipping and the King's fleet, or that part of it which happened to be moored in the river, the approach to London, the view of the old city with its towers and spires and the wonderful bridge, and the arrival at the walls of the grim fortress of the Tower - all these things combined must have impressed upon them England's wealth and England's power.

Then the ride through the city to Whitehall, the density of the houses, the myriads of people gathered together to see them pass, and, finally, the splendour of the Court to which they were accredited, must have impressed them, although outwardly they may have assumed a demeanour of seeming indifference.

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