“In the late 1860s, the London Metropolitan Board of Works decided to light the new Thames embankments with electric lights, and asked for submissions of designs. Several possible designs were published in the contemporary illustrated press including…a more restrained classical design (see image) by Joseph Bazalgette decorated with lion’s feet, inspired by *classical tripods, and modelled by S. Burnett.”
In E.M. Forster’s Howards End (1910) Margaret Schlegel re-meets Henry Wilcox on Chelsea Embankment.
Anthony Lake writes in Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London, Volume 6 Number 2 (September 2008):
“Margaret’s critique of the transience that life in London has created continues during a chance meeting with Henry Wilcox on Chelsea Embankment, before his proposal and their subsequent marriage. The following thoughts occur to Margaret:
The tide had begun to ebb. Margaret leant over the parapet and watched it sadly. Mr Wilcox had forgotten his wife, Helen her lover; she herself was probably forgetting. Everyone moving. Is it worth while attempting the past when there is this continual flux even in the hearts of men?
Later, thought turns to word and in conversation with Henry and prior to their marriage; when Margaret bemoans London’s constant changing, Henry remarks that change and movement are good for trade, and Margaret says:
I hate this continual flux of London. It is an epitome of us at our worst –- eternal formlessness; all the qualities, good, bad and indifferent, streaming away — streaming, streaming forever. That’s why I dread it so. I mistrust rivers, even in scenery. Now, the sea -–‘
The ebbing of the tide at Chelsea Embankment and Margaret’s mistrust of rivers points to an important figure in the novel. ”
Donna Seeger writes at streetsofsalem.com:
“…Lions in general, and pieces of lions in particular, are so often utilized in art forms throughout history that context is all-important. In medieval and Renaissance Europe, the lion had myriad religious and secular associations: as the long-reigning King of Beasts, he represents strength, majesty, courage and fortitude, even Resurrection. Conversely, but still expressions of his power, the lion could represent pride or vengeful wrath. In religious iconography he is associated most strongly with St. Mark and St. Jerome,who removed a painful thorn from a lion’s paw and received a friend and servant for life in return…In various poses, the lion represents a range of attributes in heraldic devices as well, always kingship, bravery, fierceness, and more subtle watchfulness (as it was a medieval belief that lions slept with their eyes open)…at this point in time (again, 1527) the lion reference could mean anything: a rather mundane association to family name or profession, a testimony to skill, strength, or power, an expression of faith. But not long after this moment, his prized paw will be reduced to a mere decorative motif, shorn of its long-held symbolism and so commonly featured in the decorative arts from the eighteenth century onwards that it becomes almost invisible–certainly not the focal point of the piece.”
From: Structure and Dissolution in English Writing, 1910–1920 (2016), by Stuart Sillars:
(In Howard’s End) “Leonard Bast, too, has a significant name. The short surname is redolent of something terse, incomplete, and of no known root. It is also the first syllable of the word ‘bastard’, suggesting the rootlessness of the character that is made clear in the discussion of his family with the Schlegel sisters and emphasised in his desire to see everything through books. Yet in his own way he is noble: his treatment of Jacky has about it a note of leonine intensity that is central to the *novel’s rejection of the hypocrisy of upper-class sexual morality. The forename Leonard, suggesting the bravery and hardiness of a lion, originated in England with the Normans: St. Leonard is the patron saint of peasants and horses. Taken together, these suggest a nobility towards lesser creatures which seems manifestly ironic in the light of Bast’s early behaviour, but is in one specific way central to the novel…”