Got leave yesterday afternoon to Manchester. The tram soon plunged into miles of streets grimy and uninteresting except for an occasional old Inn or farmhouse, once a landmark, now swallowed up by the great city. Had a glance round at the immense business places and went off to “Bell Vue Gardens”, a pleasure resort where there is an extensive zoo, many booths, dancing platforms (the people waltz solemnly round in the open), skating rink, refreshment rooms etc. Thought I’d have some afternoon tea and they gave me one tiny cake with apologies for war regulations, so I compromised by having a meal – a small pie and 2 small slices of bread and butter and tea, 1/3. Back to Art Gallery: several splendid Gainsboroughs, Romneys, Reyburns, Reynolds, etc., landscapes by Turner (Dido at Carthage, and others), Farquharson, Morely, and other well known painters. Here are Sir F. Leighton’s huge “Andromeda”, “Hero’s last watch”, etc., Watts’ Good Samaritan and Paolo and Francesca. Then there were several pictures each of the Pre-Raphaelites, Rosetti, Ford-Maddox-Brown and Burne-Jones. The big Turner is a gorgeous affair – a dazzling sunset between mountains of glorified architecture towering up from the shores of an inlet of the sea. Hadn’t time to look at the collection of Wedgwood medallions etc. but lingered over the three Rodin statues which the city is lucky enough to possess: they are “Eve”, “Victor Hugo” and “The Age of Bronze”. The Eve is powerful, no grace of form except a kind of primeval uncouth motherliness; great thick ankles and wrists; a heavy form and in the down-hung head an expression and attitude of infinite sorrow – the whole thing giving the impression of the Earthborn, and the shame and the responsibility for shame. The great head of Hugo is an embodiment of intellect. The Age of Bronze is simply a nude figure of a muscular, lithe youth.
I then hunted up the Cathedral – built many centuries ago. It was shut, but I persuaded a choir master who was rehearsing some boys to let me in and one of the boys showed me around. The altar piece is particularly fine, whilst the carvings round the organ and the coloured glass windows were magnificent. It has, besides its grand organ, the oldest English-made organ in the Kingdom that can still be played, and that has, they say, a full rich tone still. Thence off to have a look at the Town Hall, an immense structure with a huge pointed clock tower in the centre. Had a the Midland a grilled steak 2/6, 2 potatoes 6d., a little bread and cheese 10d, glass of beer 8d, tip 6d., Hat-man 2d. – total 5/2 for a very light meal. That’s what comes of living in style.