I find I am 'used up' by the Exhibition. I
don't say 'there is nothing in it' - there's too much. I have only been twice;
so many things bewildered me. I have a natural horror of sights, and the fusion
of so many sights in one has not decreased it.
I am not sure that I have seen anything but the fountain and perhaps the Amazon. It is a dreadful thing to be obliged to be false, but when any one says, 'Have you seen ...?' I say 'Yes', because if I don't, I know he'll explain it, and I can't bear that ...
Charles Dickens, Letters 1851
Monday, 25 April ... to the Crystal Palace. None but holiday people there : ten thousand of them. They showed more interest in the art Courts and other refreshments than usual: but I doubt the advantage, the rightness, of offering them such exquisite food . . . They are not refined, but blunted and vulgarized still more by eating sandwiches (and they will eat sandwiches) on the tombs of Kings, and drinking pots of porter in the Courts of the Alhambra; these are might influences for good, wasted altogether by being exercised upon those who have never been taught to feel them. Today I heard a wench exclaim, standing by the avenue of Sphinxes, before the statues of Ramses the Great, 'Come on Bill, let's cut: I'm sick of this place - there's nought to do . . .'
Arthur Munby, Diary, 1859