“One might almost have walked over the Thames and through every part of it on the boats, which could scarcely pass by each other.” This description of a regatta in 1775 can be followed by one from “Paddler,” a newspaper correspondent, who, on July 3, 1880, seeking relief “in the enjoyment of a leisurely paddle on the river in these long twilight evenings,” faces “the noisy and immodest proceedings of the evenings” and their “foul and disgusting language which assaults one’s ears and serves to call attention to the immodesty...


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