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Title: English Eccentrics and Eccentricities

Author: John Timbs

Release date: November 12, 2015 [eBook #50439]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Whitehead, Chris Curnow and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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Cover for English Eccentrics and Eccentricities

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain. The illustration is of Squire Mytton on his bear. (Page 48)



The Earl of Bridgewater and his dogs.

The Earl of Bridgewater and his dogs.

Title page for English Eccentrics and Eccentricities



GENTLE READER, a few words before we introduce you to our Eccentrics. They may be odd company: yet how often do we find eccentricity in the minds of persons of good understanding. Their sayings and doings, it is true, may not rank as high among the delicacies of intellectual epicures as the Strasburg pies among the dishes described in the Almanach des Gourmands; but they possess attractions in proportion to the degree in which "man favours wonders." Swift has remarked, that "a little grain of the romance is no ill ingredient to preserve and exalt the dignity of human nature, without which it is apt to degenerate into everything that is sordid, vicious, and low." Into the latter extremes Eccentricity is occasionally apt to run, somewhat like certain fermenting liquors which cannot be checked in their acidifying courses.

Into such headlong excesses our Eccentrics rarely stray; and one of our objects in sketching their ways, is to show that with oddity of character may co-exist much goodness of heart; and your strange fellow, though, according to the lexicographer, he be outlandish, odd, queer, and eccentric, may possess claims[vi] to our notice which the man who is ever studying the fitness of things would not so readily present.

Many books of character have been published which have recorded the acts, sayings, and fortunes of Eccentrics. The instances in the present Work are, for the most part, drawn from our own time, so as to present points of novelty which could not so reasonably be expected in portraits of older date. They are motley-minded and grotesque in many instances; and from their rare accidents may be gathered many a lesson of thrift, as well as many a scene of humour to laugh at; while some realize the well-remembered couplet or the near alliance of wits to madness.

A glance at the Table of Contents and the Index to this volume will, it is hoped, convey a fair idea of the number and variety of characters and incidents to be found in this gallery of English Eccentrics.

It should be added, that in the preparation of this Work, the Author has availed himself of the most trustworthy materials for the staple of his narratives, which, in certain cases, he has preferred giving ipsissimis verbis of his authorities to "re-writing" them, as it is termed; a process which rarely adds to the veracity of story-telling, but, on the other hand, often gives a colour to the incidents which the original narrator never intended to convey. The object has been to render the book truthful as well as entertaining.

John Timbs.




The Beckfords and Fonthill 1
Alderman Beckford's Monument Speech in Guildhall 19
Beau Brummel 22
Sir Lumley Skeffington, Bart 36
"Romeo" Coates 41
Abraham Newland 44
The Spendthrift Squire of Halston, John Mytton 48
Lord Petersham 55
The King and Queen of the Sandwich Islands 57
Sir Edward Dering's Luckless Courtship 59
Gretna-Green Marriages 63
The Agapemone, or Abode of Love 68
Singular Scotch Ladies 70
Mrs. Bond, of Hackney 72
John Ward, the Hackney Miser 74
"Poor Man of Mutton" 76
Lord Kenyon's Parsimony 77
Mary Moser, the Flower-Painter 78
The Eccentric Miss Banks 80
Thomas Cooke, the Miser of Pentonville 82
Thomas Cooke, the Turkey Merchant 87
"Lady Lewson," of Clerkenwell 89
Profits of Dust-sifting and Dust-heaps 92
Sir John Dinely, Bart. 95
The Rothschilds 96
A Legacy of Half-a-Million of Money 99
Eccentricities of the Earl of Bridgewater 103
The Denisons, and the Conyngham Family 105
"Dog Jennings" 107
Baron Ward's Remarkable Career                    109
A Costly House-Warming 112
Devonshire Eccentrics 113
Hannah Snell, the Female Soldier 116
Lady Archer                                       122


Modern Alchemists 124
Jack Adams, the Astrologer 130
The Woman-hating Cavendish 132
"Modern Astrology.—"Witch Pickles"" 136
Hannah Green; or, "Ling Bob" 139
Oddities of Lady Hester Stanhope 141
Hermits and Eremitical Life 145
The Recluses of Llangollen 155
Snuff-taking Legacies 158
Burial Bequests 159
Burials on Box Hill and Leith Hill 163
Jeremy Bentham's Bequest of his Remains           166
"The Marquis of Anglesey's Leg" 169
The Cottle Church 171
Horace Walpole's Chattels saved by a Talisman 174
Norwood Gipsies 177
"Cunning Mary," of Clerkenwell 179
"Jerusalem Whalley" 181
Father Mathew and the Temperance Movement         182
Eccentric Preachers 184
Irving a Millenarian 187
A Trio of Fanatics 189
The Spenceans 197
Joanna Southcote, and the Coming of Shiloh 198
The Founder of Mormonism 210
Huntington, the Preacher 219
Amen—Peter Isnell 231
Strangely Eccentric, yet Sane 232
Strange Hallucination 236
"Corner Memory Thompson" 238
Mummy of a Manchester Lady 239
Hypochondriasis 240


"The Wonder of all the Wonders that the World 243
ever Wondered at"
"The Princess Caraboo" 246
Fat Folks.—Lambert and Bright 249
A Cure for Corpulence 256
Epitaphs on Fat Folks 257
Count Boruwlaski, the Polish Dwarf 258
The Irish Giant 270
Birth Extraordinary 271
William Hutton's "Strong Woman" 274
Wildman and his Bees 276
Lord Stowell's Love of Sight-seeing               277
John Day and Fairlop Fair 280
A Princely Hoax 283
Sir John Waters's Escape 285
Colonel Mackinnon's Practical Joking 287
A Gourmand Physician 288
Dick England, the Gambler 290
Brighton Races, Thirty Years since 292
Colonel Mellish 294
Doncaster Eccentrics 296
"Walking Stewart" 300
Youthful Days of the Hon. Grantley Berkeley       304
What became of the Seven Dials 310
An Old Bailey Character 312
Bone and Shell Exhibition 317
"Quid Rides?" 318
"Bolton Trotters" 319
Eccentric Lord Coleraine 321
Eccentric Travellers 323
Elegy on a Geologist 328


Gilray and his Caricatures 330
William Blake, Painter and Poet                   339
Nollekens, the Sculptor 350


The Young Roscius 363
Hardham's "No. 37"                                 368
Rare Criticism 370
The O. P. Riot 371
Origin of "Paul Pry" 372
Mrs. Garrick 374
Mathews, a Spanish Ambassador 378
Grimaldi, the Clown 382
Munden's Last Performance 387
Oddities of Dowton 389
Liston in Tragedy 391
Boyhood of Edmund Kean 398
A Mysterious Parcel 400
Masquerade Incident 402
Mr. T. P. Cooke in Melodrama and Pantomime        404
"Romeo and Juliet" in America 407
The Mulberries, a Shakspearian Club 408
Colley Cibber's Daughter 410
An Eccentric Love-Passage 413
True to the Text 415


Monk Lewis 417
Porson's Eccentricities 425
Parriana: Oddities of Dr. Parr 435
Oddities of John Horne Tooke 444
Mr. Canning's Humour 451
Peter Pindar.—Dr. Wolcot 460
The Author of "Dr. Syntax" 472
Mrs. Radcliffe and the Critics                     475
Cool Sir James Mackintosh 478
Eccentricities of Cobbett 481
Heber, the Book-Collector 485
Sir John Soane Lampooned 488
Extraordinary Calculators 490
Charles Lamb's Cottage at Islington 494
Thomas Hood                                        497
A Witty Archbishop 504
Literary Madmen 508
A Perpetual-Motion Seeker 513
The Romantic Duchess of Newcastle                 516
Sources of Laughter 520


Busby's Folly and Bull Feather Hall 525
Old Islington Taverns 526
The Oyster and Parched-Pea Club 529
A Manchester Punch-House 530
"The Blue Key" 533
Brandy in Tea 534
"The Wooden Spoon" 535
A Tipsy Village 535
What an Epicure Eats in his Life-Time             536
Epitaph on Dr. William Maginn 538
Greenwich Dinners 539
Lord Pembroke's Port Wine 540
A Tremendous Bowl of Punch 541


Long Sir Thomas Robinson 542
Lord Chesterfield's Will 542
An Odd Family 543
An Eccentric Host 544
Quackery Successful 545
The Grateful Footpad 546
A Notoriety of the Temple                         546
A Ride in a Sedan 548
Mr. John Scott (Lord Eldon) in Parliament 549
A Chancery Jeu-d'Esprit 551
Hanging by Compact 553
The Ambassador Floored 553
"The Dutch Mail" 554
Bad Spelling 556
A "Single Conspirator" 559
A Miscalculation 560
An Indiscriminate Collector                       561
The Bishops' Saturday Night 563
"Rather Than Otherwise" 564
Classic Soup Distribution 565
Alphabet Single Rhymed 565
Non Sequitur and Therefore 566
Floral design



"Vathek" Beckford. From a Medallion 1
John Farquhar surveying the Ruins of Fonthill 21
Beau Brummel. From a Miniature 22
Lord Alvanley. A Pillar of White's 27
Beau Brummel in Retirement at Calais 35
Sir Lumley Skeffington in a "Jean de Brie" 36
Sir Lumley Skeffington, as dressed for the "Birthday Ball 40
Robert Coates, the Amateur of Fashion, as "Romeo" 41
Squire Mytton of Halston on his Bear 48
Lord Petersham; a noble Aide-de-Camp 55
The Eccentric Miss Banks, an Old Maid on a Journey 80
The First Rothschild—a well-known Character on 'Change 96
Hannah Snell, the Female Soldier 116
Lady Archer, Enamelling at her Toilet 122
The Alchemist 124
Jack Adams, the Astrologer 130
A Hermit of the Sixteenth Century 145
Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Mary Ponsonby, the Recluses of Llangollen    156
Major Peter Labelliere, a Christian Patriot 163
Margaret Finch, the Norwood Gipsy 177
Edward Irving, the Millenarian 184
Joanna Southcote 198
Facsimile of Autograph with Seal of the Elect 209
William Huntington, the Converted Coalheaver 219
The pretended Princess Caraboo 246
Count Boruwlaski, the Polish Dwarf, in Disgrace with his Wife          259
The Prince Regent, a Back View 284
Colonel Mellish and Buckle his Agent 294
Curtis, an Old-Bailey Character 312
Corder, the Murderer of Maria Martin 316
Lord Coleraine, keeping an Apple Stall 321
Nollekens, the Sculptor. From J. T. Smith's Life 350
Master Betty, the "Young Roscius", as "Norval" 363
Mrs. Garrick in her Youth                                        374
Charles Mathews the Elder 378
Joe Grimaldi as Clown 382
Liston as "Paul Pry" 391
Edmund Kean as "Richard III." 398
T. P. Cooke in "Black Eyed Susan" 404
Charlotte Charke, Colley Cibber's Daughter 411
M. G. Lewis, Author of "the Monk" 417
Professor Porson 425
Dr. Parr 435
William Cobbett, Peter Porcupine and the "Political Register" 481
Jedediah Buxton, the Calculator 490
Lamb's Cottage, Colebrook Row 495
Margaret Lucas, Duchess of Newcastle 516
Lord Eldon (John Scott) 549




"Vathek" Beckford.

"Vathek" Beckford.

The Beckfords and Fonthill.

THE histories of the Beckfords, father and son, present several points of eccentricity, although in very[2] different spheres. William Beckford, the father, was famed for his great wealth, which chiefly consisted of large estates in Jamaica; and the estate of Fonthill, near Hindon, Wilts. He was Alderman of Billingsgate Ward, London, and a violent political partisan with whom the great Lord Chatham maintained a correspondence to keep alive his influence in the City. When Beckford opposed Sir Francis Delaval to contest the borough of Shaftesbury, the latter said—

Art thou the man whom men famed Beckford call?

To which Beckford replied—

Art thou the much more famous Delaval?

Alderman Beckford died on the 21st of June, 1770, in his second mayoralty, within a month after his famous exhibition at Court, when, after presenting a City Address to George III., and having received his Majesty's answer, he was said to have made the reply which may be read on his monument in Guildhall, but which he never uttered. The day before Beckford died, Chatham forced himself into the house in Soho Square (now the House of Charity), and got away all the letters he had written to the demagogue Alderman. His house at Fonthill, with pictures and furniture to a great value, was burnt down in 1755. The Alderman was then in London, and on being informed of the catastrophe, he took out his pocket-book and began to write, and on being asked what he was doing, he coolly replied, 'Only calculating the expense of rebuilding it. Oh! I have an odd fifty thousand pounds in a drawer, I will build it up again; it won't be above a thousand pounds each to my different children.' The house was rebuilt.

The Alderman had several natural sons, to each of whom he left a legacy of 5,000l.; but the bulk of his[3] property went to his son by his wife, who was then a boy ten years old, and is said to have thus come into a million of ready money, and a revenue exceeding 100,000l. Three years later, Lord Chatham, who was his godfather, thus describes him to his own son William Pitt—"Little Beckford is just as much compounded of the elements of air and fire as he was. A due proportion of terrestrial solidity will I trust come and make him perfect." The promise which his liveliness and precocity had given, was fulfilled by a jeu-d'esprit, written by him in his seventeenth year. This was a small work published in 1780, entitled Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters, and originated as follows. The old mansion at Fonthill contained a fine collection of paintings, which the housekeeper was directed to show to applicants; but she often told descriptions of the painters and the pictures, which were very ludicrous. Young Beckford, therefore, to methodize and assist the housekeeper's memory, wrote their lives, which she received from her youthful master as matters-of-fact. Thus, after descanting on Gerard Douw, she would add the particulars of that artist's patience and industry in expending four or five hours in painting a broomstick. There were other extravagancies which she believed; a few copies of the book were printed to confirm her belief; hence the book is very rare. Beckford, in after-life, spoke of it as his Blunderbussiana. It was, in fact, a satire upon certain living artists, and the common slang of connoisseurship.

Young Mr. Beckford had been educated at home: he was quick and lively, and had literary tastes; he had a great passion for genealogy and heraldry, and studied Oriental literature. He had visited Paris, and mixed in the society of that capital, in 1778, when he met Voltaire, who gave him his blessing. He had fine taste for music, and had been taught to play the pianoforte by Mozart.

Mr. Beckford travelled and resided abroad until his[4] twenty-second year, when he wrote in French Vathek,[1] a work of startling beauty. More than fifty years afterwards he told Mr. Cyrus Redding that he wrote Vathek at one sitting. "It took me," he said, "three days and two nights of hard labour. I never took off my clothes the whole time. This severe application made me very ill.... Old Fonthill had a very ample loud echoing hall—one of the largest in the kingdom. Numerous doors led from it into different parts of the house through dim, winding passages. It was from that I introduced the Hall—the idea of the Hall of Eblis being generated by my own. My imagination magnified and coloured it with the Eastern character. All the females in Vathek were portraits of those in the domestic establishment of old Fonthill, their fancied good or ill qualities being exaggerated to suit my purpose." An English translation of the work afterwards appeared, the author of which Beckford said he never knew; he thought it tolerably well done.

At twenty-four, Mr. Beckford married the Lady Margaret Gordon, daughter of Charles, fourth Earl of Aboyne, but the lady died in three years. In 1784 he was returned to Parliament for Wells; in 1790 he sat for Hindon; but in 1794 he accepted the Chiltern Hundreds, and again went abroad. He now fixed himself in Portugal, where he purchased an estate near Cintra, and built the sumptuous mansion, the decoration and desolation of which some years afterwards Lord Byron described in the first canto of his Childe Harold, in the stanza beginning—


There thou too, Vathek! England's wealthiest son,
Once form'd thy Paradise, as not aware
When wanton Wealth her mightiest deeds hath done,
Meek Peace voluptuous lures was ever wont to shun.
Here didst thou dwell, here schemes of pleasure plan,
Beneath yon mountain's ever beauteous brow:
But now, as if a thing unblest by man,
Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou!
Here giant woods a passage scarce allow
To halls deserted, portals gaping wide:
Fresh lessons to the thinking bosom, how
Vain are pleasaunces on earth supplied;
Swept into wrecks anon by Time's ungentle tide!

Many years after, Mr. Beckford published his Travels, one volume of which was An Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha. Of the kitchen of the magnificent Alcobaça, he gives the following glowing picture:—"Through the centre of the immense and groined hall, not less than sixty feet in diameter, ran a brisk rivulet of the clearest water, flowing through pierced wooden reservoirs, containing every sort and size of the finest river-fish. On one side, loads of game and venison were heaped up; on the other, vegetables and fruit in endless variety. Beyond a long line of stoves extended a row of ovens, and close to them hillocks of wheaten flour whiter than snow, rocks of sugar, jars of the purest oil, and pastry in vast abundance, which a numerous tribe of lay-brothers and their attendants were rolling out and puffing up into a hundred different shapes, singing all the while as blithely as larks in a cornfield!" The banquet is described as including "exquisite sausages, potted lampreys, strange messes from the Brazils, and others still more strange from China (viz. birds'-nests and sharks'-fins) dressed after the latest mode of Macao, by a Chinese lay-brother. Confectionery and fruits were out of the question here; they awaited the party in an adjoining still more sumptuous and spacious saloon, to which they retired from the effluvia of viands and sauces." On another[6] occasion, by aid of Mr. Beckford's cook, the party sat down to "one of the most delicious banquets ever vouchased a mortal on this side of Mahomet's paradise. The macédoine was perfection, the ortolans and quails lumps of celestial fatness, the sautés and bechamels beyond praise; and a certain truffle-cream was so exquisite, that the Lord Abbot piously gave thanks for it."

Mr. Beckford returned to England in 1795, and occupied himself with the embellishment of his house at Fonthill. Meanwhile, he had studied Ecclesiastical Architecture, which induced him to commence building the third house at Fonthill, considering the second too near a piece of water. In 1801, the superb furniture was sold by auction; when the furniture of the Turkish room, which had cost 4,000l., realized only 740 guineas. Next year there was a sale in London of the proprietor's pictures. In 1807 the mansion was mostly taken down, when the materials were sold for 10,000l.; one wing was left standing, which was subsequently sold to Mr. Morrison, M.P., who added to it, and adapted it for a country seat.

These proceedings were, however, only preliminary to the commencement of a much more magnificent collection of books, pictures, curiosities, rarities, bijouterie, and other products of art and ingenuity, to be placed in the new "Fonthill Abbey," built in a showy monastic style. Mr. Beckford shrouded his architectural proceedings in the profoundest mystery: he was haughty and reserved; and because some of his neighbours followed game into his grounds, he had a wall twelve feet high and seven miles long built round his home estate, in order to shut out the world. This was guarded by projecting railings on the top, in the manner of chevaux-de-frise. Large and strong double gates were provided in this wall, at the different roads of entrance, and at these gates were stationed persons who had strict orders not to admit a stranger.

The building of the Abbey was a sort of romance. A[7] vast number of mechanics and labourers were employed to advance the works with rapidity, and a new hamlet was built to accommodate the workmen. All round was activity and energy, whilst the growing edifice, as the scaffolding and walls were raised above the surrounding trees, excited the curiosity of the passing tourist, as well as the villagers. It appears that Mr. Beckford pursued the objects of his wishes, whatever they were, not coolly and considerately like most other men, but with all the enthusiasm of passion. No sooner did he decide upon any point than he had it carried into immediate execution, whatever might be the cost. After the building was commenced, he was so impatient to get it furnished, that he kept regular relays of men at work night and day, including Sundays, supplying them liberally with ale and spirits while they were at work; and when anything was completed which gave him particular pleasure, adding an extra 5l. or 10l. to be spent in drink. The first tower, the height of which from the ground was 400 feet, was built of wood, in order to see its effect; this was then taken down, and the same form put up in wood covered with cement. This fell down, and the tower was built a third time on the same foundation with brick and stone. The foundation of the tower was originally that of a small summer-house, to which Mr. Beckford was making additions, when the idea of the Abbey occurred to him; and this idea he was so impatient to realize, that he would not wait to remove the summer-house to make a proper foundation for the tower, but carried it up on the walls already standing, and this with the worst description of materials and workmanship, while it was mostly built by men in a state of intoxication.

To raise the public surprise and afford new scope for speculation, a novel scene was presented in the works in the winter of 1800, when in November and December nearly 500 men were employed day and night to expedite the works, by torch and lamp-light, in time for the reception of[8] Lord Nelson and Sir William and Lady Hamilton, who were entertained here by Mr. Beckford with extraordinary magnificence, on December 20, 1800. On one occasion, while the tower was building, an elevated part of it caught fire and was destroyed; the sight was sublime, and was enjoyed by Mr. Beckford. This was soon rebuilt. At one period, every cart and waggon in the district were pressed into the service; at another, the works at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, were abandoned that 400 men might be employed night and day on Fonthill Abbey. These men relieved each other by regular watches, and during the longest and darkest nights of winter it was a strange sight to see the tower rising under their hands, the trowel and the torch being associated for that purpose. This Mr. Beckford was fond of contemplating. He is represented as surveying from an eminence the works thus expedited, the busy bevy of the masons, the dancing lights and their strange effects upon the wood and architecture below, and feasting his sense with this display of almost superhuman exertion.

Upon one memorable occasion Mr. Beckford was willing to run the risk of spoiling a good dinner, in order to show that nothing possible to man was impossible to him. He had sworn by his beloved St. Anthony, that he would have his Christmas dinner cooked in the new Abbey kitchen. The time was short, the work was severe, for much remained to be done. Still, Beckford had said it, and it must be done. So every exertion that money could command was brought to bear. The apartment, indeed, was finished by the Christmas morning, but the bricks had not time to settle readily into their places, the beams were not thoroughly secured, the mortar, which was to keep the walls together, had not dried. However, Beckford had invoked the blessed St. Anthony, and he would not depart from it. The fire was lit, the splendid repast was cooked, the servants were carrying the dishes through the long passages into the[9] dining-room, when the kitchen itself fell in with a loud crash; but it was not a misfortune of any consequence; no person was injured, the master had kept his word, and he had money enough to build another kitchen.

Mr. Loudon, in 1835, collected at Fonthill some curious evidence in confirmation of his idea that Mr. Beckford's enjoyments consisted of a succession of violent impulses. Thus, when he wished a new walk to be cut in the woods, or work of any kind to be done, he used to say nothing about it in the way of preparation, but merely give orders, perhaps late in the afternoon, that it should be cleared out and in a perfect state by the following morning at the time he came out to take his ride, and the whole strength of the village was then put upon the work, and employed during the night and next day, when Mr. Beckford came to inspect what was done; if he was pleased with it he used to give a 5l. or 10l. note to the men who had been employed, to drink, besides, of course, paying their wages, which were always liberal. His charities were performed in the same capricious manner. Suddenly he would order a hundred pairs of blankets to be purchased and given away; or all the firs to be cut out of an extensive plantation, and all the poor who chose to take them away were permitted to do so, provided it were done in one night. He was also known to suddenly order all the waggons and carts that could be procured to be sent off for coal to be distributed among the poor.

Mr. Beckford seldom rode out beyond his gates, but when he did he was generally asked for charity by the poor people. Sometimes he used to throw a one-pound note or a guinea to them; or he would turn round and give the supplicants a severe horse-whipping. When the last was the case, soon after he had ridden away, he generally sent back a guinea or two to the persons whom he had whipped. In his mode of life at Fonthill he had many singularities: though he never had any society, yet his table was laid every day in the most splendid style. He was known to[10] give orders for a dinner for twelve persons and to sit down alone to it, attended by twelve servants in full dress; yet he would eat only of one dish, and send the rest away. There were no bells at Fonthill, with the exception of one room, occupied occasionally by Mr. Beckford's daughter, the Duchess of Hamilton. The servants used to wait by turns in the ante-rooms to the apartments which Mr. Beckford occupied; they were very small and low in the ceiling. He led almost the life of a hermit within the walls of the Fonthill estate; here he could luxuriate within his sumptuous home, or ride for miles on his lawns, and through forest and mountain woods,—amid dressed parterres of the pleasure-garden, or the wild scenery of nature. This garden, the vast woods, and a wild lake, abounded with game, and the choristers of the forest, which were not only left undisturbed by the gun, but were fed and encouraged by the lord of the soil and his long retinue of servants. A widower, and without any family at home, Mr. Beckford resided at the Abbey for more than twenty years, ever active, and constantly occupied in reading, music, and the converse of a choice circle of friends, or in directing workmen in the erection of the Abbey, which had been in progress since the year 1798.

About the year 1822 his restless spirit required a change; besides which his fortunes received a shock from which they never recovered. He now purchased two houses in Lansdown Crescent, Bath, with a large tract of land adjoining, and removed thither. The property at Fonthill was then placed at the disposal of Mr. Christie, who prepared a catalogue for the sale of the estate, the Abbey, and its gorgeous contents. The place was made an exhibition of in the summer of 1822: the price of admission was one guinea for each person, and 7,200 tickets were sold: thousands flocked to Fonthill; but at the close of the summer, instead of a sale on the premises, the whole was bought in one lot by Mr. Farquhar, it was understood, for the sum of 350,000l.[11] Mr. Beckford's outlay upon the property had been, according to his own account, about 273,000l., scattered over sixteen or eighteen years. The reason he assigned for disposing of the property was the reduction of his income by a decree of the Court of Chancery, which had deprived him of two of his Jamaica estates. "You may imagine their importance," he added, "when I tell you that there were 1,500 slaves upon them."

Mr. Farquhar, the purchaser of the property, was an old miser who had amassed an immense fortune in India. By the advice of Mr. Phillips, the auctioneer, of Bond Street, in the following year another exhibition was made of Fonthill and its treasures, to which articles were added, and the whole sold as genuine property; the tickets of admission were half-a-guinea each, the price of the catalogues 12s., and the sale lasted thirty-seven days.

In December, 1825, the tower at Fonthill, which had been hastily built and not long finished, fell with a tremendous crash, destroying the hall, the octagon, and other parts of the buildings. Mr. Farquhar, with his nephew's family, had taken the precaution of removing to the northern wing: the tower was above 260 feet high.

Mr. Loudon, when at Fonthill in 1835, collected some interesting particulars of this catastrophe. He describes the manner in which the tower fell as somewhat remarkable. It had given indications of insecurity for some time; the warning was taken, and the more valuable parts of the windows and other articles were removed.

Mr. Farquhar, however, who then resided in one angle of the building, and who was in a very infirm state of health, could not be brought to believe there was any danger. He was wheeled out in his chair on the front lawn about half an hour before the tower fell; and though he had seen the cracks and the deviation of the centre from the perpendicular, he treated the idea of its coming down as ridiculous. He was carried back to his room, and the tower fell almost[12] immediately. From the manner in which it fell, from the lightness of the materials of which it was constructed, neither Mr. Farquhar, nor the servants who were in the kitchen preparing dinner, knew that it had fallen, though the immense collection of dust which rose into the atmosphere had assembled almost all the inhabitants of the village, and had given the alarm even as far as Wardour Castle. Only one man (who died in 1833) saw the tower fall; it first sank perpendicularly and slowly, and then burst and spread over the roofs of the adjoining wings on every side. The cloud of dust was enormous, so as completely to darken the air for a considerable distance around for several minutes. Such was the concussion in the interior of the building, that one man was forced along a passage as if he had been in an air-gun to the distance of 30 feet, among dust so thick as to be felt. Another person, on the outside, was, in like manner, carried to some distance; fortunately, no one was seriously injured. With all this, it is almost incredible that neither Mr. Farquhar, nor the servants in the kitchen, should have heard the tower fall, or known that it had fallen, till they saw through the window the people of the village who had assembled to see the ruins. Mr. Farquhar, it is said, could scarcely be convinced that the tower was down, and when he was so he said he was glad of it, for that now the house was not too large for him to live in. Mr. Beckford, when told at Bath by his servant that the tower had fallen, merely observed, that it had made an obeisance to Mr. Farquhar which it had never done to him.

One of the last things which Mr. Beckford did, after having sold Fonthill, and ordered horses to be put to his carriage to leave the place for ever, was to mount his pony, ride round with his gardener, to give directions for various alterations and improvements which he wished to have executed. On returning to the house, his carriage being ready, he stepped into it, and never afterwards visited[13] Fonthill. Though Mr. Beckford had spent immense sums of money there, it is said, on good authority, 1,600,000l., it did not appear that he had at all raised the character of the working classes: the effect was directly the reverse; the men were sunk, past recovery, in habits of drunkenness; and when Mr. Loudon visited Fonthill, there were only two or three of the village labourers alive who had been employed in the Abbey works.

We now follow Mr. Beckford to Bath, where he was storing his twin houses with some of the choicest articles from his old libraries and cabinets; was forming and creating new gardens, with hot-houses and conservatories, on the steep and rocky slope of Lansdown. On its summit he built a lofty tower, which commands a vast extent of prospect. A street intervened between the two houses, but they were soon united by a flying gallery. One of these houses was fitted up for Mr. Beckford's residence, and here he lived luxuriously; the splendour and state of Fonthill being followed here on a smaller scale. In his wine-cellars he had a portion of the nineteen pipes of the fine Malmsey Madeira, which his father, Alderman Beckford, had bought. The merchant who imported them offered them to Queen Charlotte, who could only purchase one, as the price was so great; the Fonthill Crœsus, however, purchased the remainder of the cargo.

The new proprietor of Fonthill was a very different man from Mr. Beckford. Born in Aberdeen, Mr. John Farquhar, like many of his countrymen, started in early life to seek his fortune in India. The interest of some relatives procured him a cadetship in the service of the East India Company, on the Bombay establishment; there the young Scotsman had the certainty of slowly but steadily rising in position, and should health be left to him, of enjoying a reputable and independent competency. He, however, received a dangerous wound in the leg, which first caused a painful and constant lameness, and soon after led to general derangement[14] of his health, and even danger to life itself. He now obtained leave to remove to Bengal, partly in hopes of a more salubrious climate, but chiefly in search of that medical talent which was likely to be most abundant at the chief seat of Government. Settled in Bengal, he obtained the advice of the best physicians. He also studied chemistry and medicine; and it was before long generally said that the sickly cadet who was so attached to chemical experiments, was well fitted to be sent into the interior of the country, where was a large manufactory of gunpowder established by the Government, but which was unsuccessful. The shrewd Scotsman took charge of the mill, henceforth the powder was faultless; and shortly after Farquhar became the sole contractor for the Government. The Governor-General, Warren Hastings, reposed much confidence in Farquhar; and this, added to his own indefatigable vigour of mind, soon laid the foundation of a fortune, which was rapidly increased by his penurious habits.

It was the time when war and distresses in Europe kept the funds so low, that fifty-five was a common price for the Three per cents. Accordingly, as Farquhar's money accumulated, he sent large remittances to his bankers, Messrs. Hoare, of Fleet Street, for investment in the above tempting securities. When he had thus amassed half a million, he determined to return to his native country, and he bade adieu to the East where he had found the wealth he coveted. Landing at Gravesend, he took his seat upon the outside of the coach, and in due time found himself in London. Weather-beaten, and covered with dust, he made his way to his bankers, and there, stepping up to one of the clerks, expressed a wish to see Mr. Hoare himself. But his rough appearance and common make of the clothes about his sunburnt limbs, suggested to the clerk that he must be some unlucky petitioner for charity; and he was left to wait in the cash-office until Mr. Hoare happened to pass through. The latter was some time before he could understand who Mr.[15] Farquhar was. His Indian customer, indeed, he knew well by name, but he had none of that hauteur which was then common with the successful Anglo-Indians. At length, however, Mr. Hoare was satisfied as to the identity of his wealthy visitor, who then asked him for 25l., and saluting him, retired.

On first arriving in England, Mr. Farquhar took up his abode with a relative of some rank, who mixed a good deal in London society, and who proposed to introduce to his circle Mr. Farquhar, by giving a grand ball in honour of his successful return from India. This relative had tolerated Mr. Farquhar's fancies as regarded his every-day attire; but his fashionable mind was horrified when the day of the coming ball was only a week off, and there was, nevertheless, no sign of his intending to provide himself with a new suit of clothes for the gay occasion. He ventured accordingly to hint to him the propriety of doing so; when Mr. Farquhar made a short reply, packed up his clothes, and in a few minutes was driven from the door in a hackney-coach, not even taking leave of his too-critical host.

He then settled in Upper Baker Street, where his windows were ever remarkable for requiring a servant's care, and his whole house notable for its dingy and dirty appearance; at which we cannot wonder when we learn that his sole attendant was an old woman, and that from even her intrusive care his own apartment was strictly kept free. Yet in charitable deeds Mr. Farquhar was munificent to a princely extent, and often, when he had left his comfortless home with a crust of bread in his pocket to save the expenditure of a penny at an oyster shop, it was to give away in the course of the day hundreds of pounds to aid the distressed, and to cure and care for those who suffered from biting poverty, hunger, and want. But in his personal expenditure he was extremely parsimonious; and whilst he resided in Baker Street, he expended on himself and his household but 200l. a year out of the 30,000l. or 40,000l.[16] which his many sources of income must have yielded him.[2]

Such was the man who succeeded the luxurious Beckford at Fonthill! He, however, sold the property about 1825, and died in the following year. The immense fortune he had struggled to make, and to increase which he had lived a solitary and comfortless life, he made no disposal of by will; the law distributed it among his next-of-kin, and those he favoured and those he neglected inherited equal portions. Three nephews and four nieces became entitled to 100,000l. each. Fonthill Abbey had been taken down, merely enough of its ruins being left to show where it had stood. Mr. Farquhar possessed Fonthill for so short a time, and it was demolished so soon after he had parted with it, and so many years before Mr. Beckford followed him to the grave, that the latter lived to know that its last proprietor was comparatively forgotten, and the strange glories of the fantastic pile will be connected by the public voice with no name but that of its eccentric architect.

On settling at Bath, Mr. Beckford was frequently seen on horseback in the streets with his groom, and appeared as the plain unostentatious country gentleman: he was no longer the wealthy lord of Fonthill; still his appearance always excited the gaze and speculation of idlers and gossips. A dwarf, an Italian named Piero, was occasionally seen on a pony with the groom, and strange conjectures were hazarded on the history of this human phenomenon. The fact is, Mr. Beckford had taken charge of him in Italy, when he was deserted by his parents and was homeless and friendless; and he was brought to England by a humane patron, who supported him through life.


In 1844, Mr. Cyrus Redding, when at Bath, had several interviews and conversations with Mr. Beckford, whose mind was then vigorous: his spirits were good, and he displayed his wonted activity of body nearly to the last. In his seventy-sixth year he said that he had never felt a moment's ennui in his life. He was the most accomplished man of his time: his reading was very extensive; he used to say that he could easily read and understand an octavo volume during his breakfast. Besides the classical languages of antiquity, he spoke four modern European tongues, and wrote three of them with great elegance. He read Russian and Arabic. We have said that he was taught music by Mozart, to whom he was so much attached, that when the great composer settled in Vienna, Mr. Beckford made a visit to that capital "that he might once more see his old master."

Mr. Redding tells us that Mr. Beckford's custom, "in fine weather, was to rise early, ride to the tower or about the grounds, walk back and breakfast, and then read until a little before noon, generally making pencil notes in the margin of every book, transact business with his steward; afterwards, until two o'clock, continue to read and write, and then ride out two or three hours." Mr. Beckford was never idle. When planning or building, he passed the larger part of the day where the work was proceeding. He sometimes expressed contempt by a sarcastic sneer, peculiar to himself. Few could utter more cutting things than the author of Vathek, the delivery with a caustic expression of countenance that made them tell with double effect. Mr. Redding once ventured to remark, "It must have cost you much pain to quit Fonthill." "Not so much as you might think. I can bend to fortune. I have philosophy enough not to cry like a child about a play-thing." Mr. Britton, who had seen much of Mr. Beckford, tells us that the remarks and opinions in the novels of Cecil a Coxcomb and Cecil a Peer, mostly written by Mrs. Gore when on a visit to[18] Mr. Beckford at Bath, afford the nearest approach he had seen in print to the language, the ideas, the peculiar sentiments of the author of Vathek.

Mr. Beckford continued to reside in Bath (except his annual visits to the metropolis, when he lived in Park Lane and in Gloucester Place[3]) for about twenty years, and died there on May 2, 1844, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. His intention was to make the ground attached to the Lansdown tower the place of his sepulchre, and he had prepared and placed on the spot a granite sarcophagus, inscribed with a passage from Vathek; but the ecclesiastical authorities refused to consecrate the ground, the body was embalmed and placed in the sarcophagus in the cemetery of Lyncomb, to the south of Bath. It was afterwards removed to Lansdown, when the ground was consecrated.

The author of Vathek was unquestionably a man of genius and rare accomplishments. "But his abilities were overpowered and his character tainted by the possession of wealth so enormous. At every stage his money was like a millstone round his neck. He had taste and knowledge; but the selfishness of wealth tempted him to let these gifts of the mind run to seed in the gratification of extravagant freaks. He really enjoyed travelling and scenery, but he felt it incumbent on him, as a millionnaire, to take a French cook with him wherever he went;[4] and he found that the Spanish grandees and ecclesiastical dignitaries who welcomed him so cordially valued him as the man whose cook could make such wonderful omelettes. From the day when[19] Chatham's proxy stood for him at the font till the day when he was laid in his pink granite sarcophagus, he was the victim of riches. Had he had only 5,000l. a year, and been sent to Eton, he might have been one of the foremost men of his time, and have been as useful in his generation as, under his unhappy circumstances, he was useless."[5] It may be added, that he was worse: for he so threw about his money at Fonthill as to corrupt and demoralise the simple country people.

Against this judgment must, however, be placed Mr. Beckford's own declaration, that he never felt a single moment of ennui.

Mr. Beckford left two daughters, the eldest of whom, Susan Euphemia, was married to the Marquis of Clydesdale in 1810, and became Duchess of Hamilton. The tomb at Lansdown, with its polished granite, emblazoned shields, and bronzed and gilt embellishments, was not long cared for; since in 1850, it presented in its neglected state a lamentable object. Vathek will be remembered. Byron, a good judge of such a subject, has pronounced that "for correctness of costume, beauty of description, and power of imagination," it far surpasses all other European imitations of the Eastern style of fiction.

Alderman Beckford's Monument Speech,
in Guildhall.

The speech on the pedestal of Beckford's statue, and referred to at p. 2 ante, is the one which the Alderman is said to have addressed to his Majesty on the 23rd of May, 1770, with reference to the King's reply to the Remonstrance address which Beckford had presented:—"That he should have been wanting to the public as well as to himself if he had not expressed his dissatisfaction at the late address."[20] Horace Walpole thus notes the affair: "The City carried a new remonstrance, garnished with my lord's own ingredients, but much less hot than the former. The country, however, was put to some confusion by my Lord Mayor, who, contrary to all form and precedent, tacked a volunteer speech to the 'Remonstrance.' It was wondrous loyal and respectful, but, being an innovation, much discomposed the solemnity. It is always usual to furnish a copy of what is said to the King, that he may be prepared with his answer. In this case, he was reduced to tuck up his train, jump from the throne, and take sanctuary in his closet, or answer extempore, which is not part of the Royal trade; or sit silent, and have nothing to reply. This last was the event, and a position awkward enough in conscience."—Walpole to Sir Horace Mann, May 24, 1770.

Now, at the end of the Alderman's speech, in his copy of the City addresses, Mr. Isaac Reed has inserted the following note:—"It is a curious fact, but a true one, that Beckford did not utter one syllable of this speech (on the monument). It was penned by John Horne Tooke, and by his art put on the records of the City and on Beckford's statue, as he told me, Mr. Braithwaite, Mr. Sayer, &c., at the Athenæum Club.—Isaac Reed." There can be little doubt that the worthy commentator and his friends were imposed upon. In the Chatham Correspondence, volume iii., p. 460, a letter from Sheriff Townsend to the Earl expressly states that with the exception of the words "and necessary" being left out before the word "revolution," the Lord Mayor's speech in the Public Advertiser of the preceding day is verbatim. (The one delivered to the King.)—WrightNote to Walpole.

Gifford says (Ben Jonson, VI. 481) that Beckford never uttered before the King one syllable of the speech upon his monument; and Gifford's statement is fully confirmed both by Isaac Reed (as above) and by Maltby, the friend of Roger and Horne Tooke. Beckford made a "remonstrance[21] speech" to the King; but the speech on Beckford's monument is the after speech written for Beckford by Horne Tooke.—See Mitford, Gray, and Mason's Correspondence, pp. 438, 439.—Cuningham's Note to Walpole, v. 239.

Such is the historic worth of this strange piece of monumental bombast, upon which Pennant made this appropriate comment:—

The things themselves are neither scarce nor rare,
The wonder's how the devil they got there.       

Mr. John Farquhar over the ruins of Fonthill.

Mr. John Farquhar over the ruins of Fonthill.


Beau Brummel. From a miniature.

Beau Brummel. (From a miniature.)

Beau Brummel.

This celebrated leader of fashion in the times of the Regency—George Bryan Brummel—was born June 7, 1778. His grandfather was a pastrycook in Bury Street, St. James's, who, by letting off a large portion of his house, became a moneyed man. While Brummel's father was yet a boy, Mr. Jenkinson came to lodge there, and this led to the lad being employed in a Government office, when his lodger and patron had attained to eminence; he was subsequently private secretary to Lord Liverpool, and at his death, left the Beau little less than 30,000l. Brummel was sent to Eton, and thence to Oxford, and at sixteen he was gazetted to a cornetcy in the 10th Hussars, at that time commanded by the Prince of Wales, to whom he had been presented on the Terrace at Windsor, when the Beau was a boy at Eton. He[23] became an associate of the Prince, then two-and-thirty, but who, according to Mr. Thomas Raikes, disdained not to take lessons in dress from Brummel at his lodgings. Thither would the future King of nations wend his way, where, absorbed in the mysteries of the toilet, he would remain till so late an hour that he sometimes sent his horses away, and insisted on Brummel giving him a quiet dinner, which generally ended in a deep potation.

Brummel's assurance was one of his earliest characteristics. A great law lord, who lived in Russell Square, one evening gave a ball, at which J., one of the beauties of the time, was present. Numerous were the applications made to dance with her; but being as proud as she was beautiful, she refused them all, till the young Hussar made his appearance; and he having proffered to hand her out, she at once acquiesced, greatly to the wrath of the disappointed candidates. In one of the pauses of the dance, he happened to find himself close to an acquaintance, when he exclaimed, "Ha! you here? Do, my good fellow, tell me who that ugly man is leaning against the chimney-piece." "Why, surely you must know him," replied the other, "'tis the master of the house." "No, indeed," said the Cornet, coolly; "how should I? I never was invited."

Captain Jesse, the biographer of Brummel, has drawn his portrait at about this time. "His face was rather long and complexion fair; his whiskers inclined to sandy, and hair light brown. His features were neither plain nor handsome; but his head was well shaped, the forehead being unusually high; showing, according to phrenological development, more of the mental than the animal passions—the bump of self-esteem was very prominent. His countenance indicated that he possessed considerable intelligence, and his mouth betrayed a strong disposition to indulge in sarcastic humour: this was predominant in every feature, the nose excepted, the natural regularity of which, though it had been broken by a fall from his charger, preserved his features from[24] degenerating into comicality. His eyebrows were equally expressive with his mouth; and while the latter was giving utterance to something very good-humoured or polite, the former, and the eyes themselves, which were grey and full of oddity, could assume an expression that made the sincerity of his words very doubtful. His voice was very pleasing."

Brummel was one of the first who revived and improved the taste for dress, and his great innovation was effected upon neckcloths; they were then worn without stiffening of any kind, and bagged out in front, rucking up to the chin in a roll: to remedy this obvious awkwardness and inconvenience, he used to have his slightly starched; and a reasoning mind must allow that there is not much to object to in this reform. He did not, however, like the dandies, test their fitness for use by trying if he could raise three parts of their length by one corner without their bending; yet, it appears that if the cravat was not properly tied at the first effort, or inspiring impulse, it was always rejected. His valet was coming down stairs one day with a quantity of tumbled neckcloths under his arm, and, being interrogated on the subject, solemnly replied, "Oh, they are our failures." Practice like this, of course, made Brummel perfect; and his tie soon became a model that was imitated but never equalled. The method by which this most important result was attained, was thus told to Captain Jesse:—"The collar, which was always fixed to his shirt, was so large that, before being folded down, it completely hid his head and face; and the white neckcloth was at least a foot in height. The first coup d'archet was made with the shirt-collar, which he folded down to its proper size; and Brummel, then standing before the glass, with his chin poked up to the ceiling, by the gentle and gradual declension of the lower jaw, creased the cravat to reasonable dimensions, the form of each succeeding crease being perfected with the shirt which he had just discarded."


"Brummel's morning dress was similar to that of every other gentleman. Hessians and pantaloons, or top-boots and buckskins, with a blue coat and a light or buff-coloured waistcoat, of course fitting to admiration on the best figure in England. His dress of an evening was a blue coat and white waistcoat, black pantaloons, which buttoned tight to the ankle, striped stockings, and opera-hat; in fact he was always carefully dressed, but never the slave of fashion.

"Brummel's tailors were Schweitzer and Davidson in Cork Street; Weston; and a German of the name of Meyer, who lived in Conduit Street. The trousers which opened at the bottom of the leg, and were closed by buttons and loops, were invented either by Meyer or Brummel. The Beau, at any rate, was the first who wore them, and they immediately became quite the fashion and continued so for some years."

Brummel was addicted to practical jokes, one of which may be related. The victim was an old French emigrant, whom he had met on a visit to Woburn or Chatsworth, and into whose hair-pouch he managed to introduce some finely-powdered sugar. Next morning the poor Marquis, quite unconscious of his head being so well-sweetened, joined the breakfast-table as usual; but scarcely had he made his bow and plunged his knife into the Perigord pie before him, than the flies began to desert the walls and windows to settle upon his head. The weather was exceedingly hot; the flies of course numerous, and even the honeycomb and marmalade upon the table seemed to have lost all attraction for them. The Marquis relinquished his knife and fork to drive off the enemy with his handkerchief. But scarcely had he attempted to renew his acquaintance with the Perigord pie, than back the whole swarm came, more teazingly than ever. Not a wing was missing. More of the company who were not in the secret, could not help wondering at this phenomenon, as the buzzing grew louder and louder every moment. Matters grew still worse when the sugar, melting,[26] poured down the Frenchman's brow and face in thick streams; for his tormentors then changed their ground of action, and having thus found a more vulnerable part, nearly drove him mad with their stings. Unable to bear it any longer, he clasped his head with both hands, and rushed out of the room in a cloud of powder, followed by his persevering tormentors, and the laughter of the company.

Brummel was the autocrat of the world in which he moved. It has been said that Madame de Staël was in awe of him, and considered her having failed to please him as her greatest misfortune; while the Prince of Wales having neglected to call upon her, she placed only as a secondary cause of lamentation. The great French authoress, however, was not without reason in her regrets; to offend or not to please Brummel was to lose caste in the fashionable world, to be exposed to the most cutting sarcasm and the most poignant ridicule.

Captain Jesse thus tells the story of Brummel's cutting quarrel with the Prince of Wales. Lord Alvanley, Brummel, Henry Pierrepoint, and Sir Harry Mildmay, gave at the Hanover Square Rooms a fête, which was called the Dandies' Ball. Alvanley was a friend of the Duke of York; Harry Mildmay, young, and had never been introduced to the Prince Regent; Pierrepoint knew him slightly, and Brummel was at daggers drawn with his Royal Highness. No invitation was, however, sent to the Prince, but the ball excited much interest and expectation, and to the surprise of the Amphitryons, a communication was received from his Royal Highness intimating his wish to be present. Nothing, therefore, was left but to send him an invitation, which was done in due form, and in the name of the four spirited givers of the ball; the next question was how were they to receive the guest, and which, after some discussion, was arranged thus:—When the approach of the Prince was announced, each of the four gentlemen took in due form a candle in his hand. Pierrepoint, as knowing the Prince, stood nearest[27] the door with his wax-light; and Mildmay, as being young and void of offence, opposite. Alvanley, with Brummel opposite, stood immediately behind the other two. The Prince at length arrived, and, as was expected, spoke civilly and with recognition to Pierrepoint, and then turned and spoke a few words to Mildmay; advancing, he addressed several sentences to Alvanley; and then turned towards Brummel, looked at him, but as if he did not know who he was, or why he was there, and without bestowing on him the slightest recognition. It was then, at the very instant he[28] passed on, that Brummel, seizing with infinite fun and readiness the notion that they were unknown to each other, said aloud for the purpose of being heard, "Alvanley, who's your fat friend?" Those who were in front, and saw the Prince's face, say that he was cut to the quick by the aptness of the remark.

Lord Alvanley. A pillar of White's.

Lord Alvanley. A pillar of White's.

Mr. Grantley Berkeley (in his Life and Recollections) relates the story less circumstantially:—"There is a well-known anecdote I am able to correct, given to me by a medical friend of mine, who had it from the late Henry Pierrepoint, brother to the late Lord Manners:—'We of the Dandy Club issued invitations to a ball from which Brummel had influence enough to get the Prince excluded. Some one told the Prince this, upon which his Royal Highness wrote to say he intended to have the pleasure of being at our ball. A number of us lined the entrance-passage to receive the Prince, who, as he passed along, turned from side to side to shake hands with each of us; but when he came to Brummel, he passed him without the smallest notice, and turned to shake hands with the man opposite to Brummel. As the Prince turned from that man—I forget who it was—Brummel leaned forward across the passage, and said, in a loud voice, 'Who is your fat friend?' We were all dismayed; but in those days Brummel could do no wrong."

The following story was supplied to Captain Jesse by a correspondent. The Beau, it appears, had a great penchant for snuff-boxes:—"Brummel had a collection chosen with singular sagacity and good taste; and one of them had been seen and admired by the Prince, who said, 'Brummel, this box must be mine: go to Gray's and order any box you like in lieu of it.' Brummel begged that it might be one with his Royal Highness' miniature; and the Prince, pleased and flattered at the suggestion, gave his assent to the request. Accordingly, the box was ordered, and Brummel took great pains with the pattern and form, as well as with the miniature and diamonds round it. When some progress[29] had been made, the portrait was shown to the Prince; who was charmed with it, suggested slight improvements and alterations, and took the liveliest interest in the work as it proceeded. All in fact was on the point of being concluded when the scene at Claremont took place; [where this writer describes the quarrel as originating, through the Prince preventing Brummel from joining a party, on the plea of Mrs. Fitzherbert disliking him.] A day or two after this, Brummel thought he might as well go to Gray's and inquire about the box; he did so, and was told that special directions had been sent by the Prince of Wales that the box was not to be delivered: it never was, nor was the one returned for which it was to have been an equivalent. It was this, I believe, more than anything besides, which induced Brummel to bear himself with such unbending hostility towards the Prince of Wales. He felt that he had treated him unworthily, and from this moment he indulged himself by saying the bitterest things. When pressed by poverty, however, and, as I suppose, broken in spirit, he at a later period recalled the Prince's attention to the subject of the snuff-box. Colonel Cooke (who was at Eton called 'Cricketer Cooke,' afterwards known as 'Kangaroo Cooke'), when passing through Calais, saw Brummel, who told him the story, and requested that he would inform the Prince Regent that the promised box had never been given, and that he was now constrained to recall the circumstance to his recollection. The Regent's reply was: 'Well, Master Kang, as for the box it is all nonsense; but I suppose the poor devil wants a hundred guineas, and he shall have them;' and it was in this ungracious manner that the money was sent, received, and acknowledged. I have heard Brummel speak of the affair of the snuff-box, but I never heard him say that he received the hundred guineas."

Brummel, late in life, stood to his Whig colours. His evening dress consisted of a blue coat, with velvet collar and the consular button; a buff waistcoat, black trousers and[30] boots. His white neckcloth was unexceptionable. The only articles of jewellery about him were a plain ring and a massive chain of Venetian ducat-gold, which served as a guard to his watch, and was evidently as much for use as ornament, only two links of it were to be seen; those passed from the buttons of his waistcoat to the pocket; the chain was peculiar, and was of the same pattern as those suspended in terrorem outside the principal entrance to Newgate. The ring was dug out on the Field of the Cloth of Gold by a labourer, who sold it to Brummel when he was at Calais. An opera-hat, and gloves which were held in his hand, completed an attire that being remarkably quiet, could never have attracted attention on any other person. His mise was peculiar only for its extreme neatness, and wholly at variance with an opinion very prevalent among those who were not personally acquainted with him, that he owed his reputation to his tailor, or to an exaggerated style of dress.

Brummel, however, maintained his supremacy in the world of fashion for years after the Prince had cut him. "But though even royal disfavour could not seriously lower him, he managed in the end to do that which no one else could do, he ruined himself; the gaming table, in the long run, deprived him of all his fortune. Then came bills to supply the deficiencies of the hour, and with that the consummation which they never fail to bring about when necessity has recourse to them. A quarrel ensuing with the friends joined in one of these acceptances, and who accused him of taking the lion's share, he was obliged to quit England and take up his abode at Calais. It has been said, ludicrously enough, that Brummel and Bonaparte fell together. The Moscow of the former, according to his own account, was a crooked sixpence, to the possession of which his good fortune was attached, but which he unfortunately lost.

"But, if he had lost his magical sixpence, he had not yet exhausted all his friends, from some of whom he was continually receiving even large sums of money, so much in one instance as a thousand pounds. He was thus enabled[31] to furnish his lodgings according to his usual refined habits, and living much retired, he set seriously to work in acquiring the French language, and succeeded.

"His resources now decreased. Some friends were lost to him by death, others, perhaps, grew weary of relieving him. A visit of George IV. held out to him a momentary gleam of hope. But the king came to Calais, and did not send for him, or in any way notice him. Still he was not wholly bereft of friends, but continued from time to time to receive remittances from England; and at length, by the intervention of the Duke of Wellington with King William, Brummel was appointed English Consul in the capital of Lower Normandy. By this time he was deeply involved in debt, and when he had settled at Caen, the large deductions made from his income to discharge the arrears of debt incurred at Calais left him an insufficiency for a man of his habits. He became as deeply involved at Caen as he had before been at Calais. Next, upon his own showing of its uselessness, the consulate at Caen was abolished, and he was left penniless. He obtained funds from England. But he had more than one attack of paralysis. He was flung into prison at Caen by his French creditors, and confined in a wretched, filthy den, with felons for his companions. He was enabled by aid from England to leave his prison, after more than two months' confinement. Sickness, loss of memory, absolute imbecility, and finally, inability to distinguish bread from meat, or wine from coffee, now came with their attendant ills. His friends obtained him admission into the hospital of the Bon Sauveur, and he was placed in a comfortable room, that had once been occupied by the celebrated Bourrienne. Here he died on the evening of the 30th of March, 1840."[6]

The different stages of mental decay through which this unfortunate man passed, before he became hopelessly imbecile, it is painful to read of. One of his most singular[32] eccentricities was, on certain nights some strange fancy would seize him that it was necessary he should give a party, and he accordingly invited many of the distinguished persons with whom he had been intimate in former days, though some of them were already dead. On these gala evenings he desired his attendant to arrange his apartment, set out a whist table, and light the bougies (he burnt only tallow at the time), and at eight o'clock this man, to whom he had already given his instructions, opened wide the door of his sitting-room, and announced the "Duchess of Devonshire." At the sound of her grace's well-remembered name, the Beau, instantly rising from his chair, would advance towards the door, and greet the cold air from the staircase as if it had been the beautiful Georgiana herself. If the dust of that fair creature could have stood reanimate in all her loveliness before him, she would not have thought his bow less graceful than it had been thirty-five years before; for, despite poor Brummel's mean habiliments and uncleanly person, the supposed visitor was received with all his former courtly ease of manner, and the earnestness that the pleasure of such an honour might be supposed to excite. "Ah! my dear Duchess," faltered the Beau, "how rejoiced am I to see you; so very amiable of you at this short notice! Pray bury yourself in this arm-chair: do you know it was a gift to me from the Duchess of York, who was a very kind friend of mine; but, poor thing, you know she is no more." Here the eyes of the old man would fill with the tears of idiocy, and, sinking into the fauteuil himself, he would sit for some time looking vacantly at the fire, until Lord Alvanley, Worcester, or any other old friend he chose to name, was announced, when he again rose to receive them and went through a similar pantomime. At ten his attendant announced the carriages, and this farce was at an end.

Brummel's sayings are not brilliant in point. They doubtless owed their success to the inimitable impudence with which they were uttered. We have thrown together a few of his many repartees.


Dining at a gentleman's house in Hampshire, where the champagne was very far from being good, he waited for a pause in the conversation, and then condemned it by raising his glass, and saying loud enough to be heard by every one at the table, "John, give me some more of that cider."

"Brummel, you were not here yesterday," said one of his club friends; "where did you dine?" "Dine! why with a person of the name of R——s. I believe he wishes me to notice him, hence the dinner; but, to give him his due, he desired that I would make up the party myself, so I asked Alvanley, Mills, Pierrepoint, and a few others; and I assure you the affair turned out quite unique; there was every delicacy in or out of season; the sillery was perfect, and not a wish remained ungratified; but, my dear fellow, conceive my astonishment when I tell you that Mr. R——s had the assurance to sit down and dine with us."

An acquaintance having, in a morning call, bored him dreadfully about some tour he made in the north of England, inquired with great pertinacity of his impatient listener which of the lakes he preferred? When Brummel, quite tired of the man's tedious raptures, turned his head imploringly towards his valet, who was arranging something in the room, and said, "Robinson?" "Sir." "Which of the lakes do I admire?" "Windermere, sir," replied that distinguished individual. "Ah, yes; Windermere," repeated Brummel; "so it is—Windermere."

Having been asked by a sympathising friend how he happened to get such a severe cold, his reply was, "Why, do you know, I left my carriage yesterday evening, on my way to town from the Pavilion, and the infidel of a landlord put me into a room with a damp stranger."

On being asked by one of his acquaintance, during a very unseasonable summer, if he had ever seen such an one, he replied, "Yes; last winter."

Having fancied himself invited to some one's country seat, and being given to understand, after one night's[34] lodging, that he was in error, he told an unconscious friend in town, who asked him what sort of place it was, "that it was an exceedingly good house for stopping one night in."

On the night that he quitted London, the Beau was seen as usual at the opera, but he left early, and, without returning to his lodgings, stepped into a chaise which had been procured for him by a noble friend, and met his own carriage a short distance from town. Travelling all night as fast as four post-horses and liberal donations could enable him, the morning dawned on him at Dover, and immediately on his arrival there he hired a small vessel, put his carriage on board, and was landed in a few hours on the other side. By this time the West-end had awoke and missed him, particularly his tradesmen.

It was while promenading one day on the pier, and not long before he left Calais, that an old associate of his, who had just arrived by the packet from England, met him unexpectedly in the street, and, cordially shaking hands with him, said, "My dear Brummel, I am so glad to to see you, for we had heard in England that you were dead; the report, I assure you, was in very general circulation when I left." "Mere stock-jobbing, my good fellow—mere stock-jobbing," was the Beau's reply.

We have said that Brummel's grandfather was a pastrycook. His aunt is said to have been the widow of a grandson of Brawn, the celebrated cook who kept 'The Rummer,' in Queen Street, and who had himself kept 'The Rummer' public-house, at the Old Mews Gate, at Charing Cross. Brummel spoke with a relish worthy a descendant of 'The Rummer,' of the savoury pies of his aunt Brawn, who then resided at Kilburn. Henry Carey, in the Dissertation on Dumpling, assumes Braun, or Braund, as he calls him, to have been the direct descendant in the male line of his imaginary Brawnd, knighted by King John for his unrivalled skill in making dumplings, and who subsequently resided, as he tells us, "at the ancient manor of Brands, alias Braunds, near Kilburn, in Middlesex." Curious the[35] accident that found Brummel's "Aunt Brawn" a resident at Kilburn, a century after the Dissertation on Dumpling was written.

Beau Brummel at Calais.

Beau Brummel at Calais.


Sir Lumley Skeffington in a "Jean de Brie."

Sir Lumley Skeffington in a "Jean de Brie."

Sir Lumley Skeffington, Bart.

This accomplished gentleman was the son of Sir William Skeffington, a much respected Baronet of Bilsdon, in Leicestershire, where he enjoyed considerable estates and great provincial esteem. He was born in 1778, and was educated at Soho School, and at Newcome's, at Hackney. At the latter he distinguished himself in the dramatic performances for which the school was long celebrated. Dr.[37] Benjamin Hoadley, author of The Suspicious Husband, and his brother, Dr. John Hoadley, were both educated here, and shone in their amateur performances; at the representation of 1764, there were upwards of "one hundred gentlemen's coaches." Young Skeffington excelled in Hamlet, as he afterwards shone in "the glass of fashion." His hereditary prospects afforded him a ready introduction to the fashionable world, and during upwards of twenty years he was considered as a leader of ton, and one of the most finished gentlemen in England. He was a person of considerable taste in literature: he wrote The Word of Honour, a comedy, and the dialogue and songs of a highly finished melodrama, founded on the legend of The Sleeping Beauty. In 1818 he lost his father, who having embarrassed his estates, his son, as an act of filial duty to rescue a parent from distress, consented to the cutting off the entail, by which he deprived himself of that substantial provision without which the life of a gentleman is a life of misery.

Sir Lumley was the dandy of the olden time, and a kinder, better-hearted man never existed. He was of the most polished manners; nor had his long intercourse with fashionable society at all affected that simplicity of character for which he was remarkable. He was a true dandy, and much more than that, he was a perfect gentleman. In 1827, a contributor to the New Monthly Magazine wrote: "I remember, long, long since, entering Covent Garden Theatre, when I observed a person holding the door to let me pass; deeming him to be one of the box-keepers, I was about to nod my thanks, when I found, to my surprise, that it was Skeffington who had thus good-naturedly honoured a stranger by his attention. We with some difficulty obtained seats in a box, and I was indebted to accident for one of the most agreeable evenings I remember to have passed.

"I remember visiting the Opera when late dinners were the rage, and the hour of refection was carried far into the[38] night. I was again placed near the fugleman of fashion, for to his movements were all eyes directed, and his sanction determined the accuracy of all conduct. He bowed from box to box, until recognizing one of his friends in the lower tier, 'Temple,' he exclaimed, drawling out his weary words, 'at—what—hour—do—you—dine—to-day?' It had gone half-past eleven when he spoke.

"I saw him once enter St. James's Church, having at the door taken a ponderous red morocco prayer-book from his servant; but although prominently placed in the centre aisle, the pew-opener never offered him a seat; and stranger still, none of his many friends beckoned him to a place. Others in his rank of life might have been disconcerted at the position in which he was placed; but Skeffington was too much of a gentleman to be in any way disturbed; so he seated himself upon the bench between two aged female paupers, and most reverently did he go through the service, sharing with the ladies his book, the print of which was more favourable to their devotions than their own diminutive liturgies."

Sir Lumley Skeffington continued to the last to take especial interest in the theatre and its artists, notwithstanding his own reduced fortunes. He was a worshipper of female beauty, his adoration being poured forth in ardent verse. Thus, in the spring 1829, he inscribed to Miss Foote the following ballad:

When the frosts of the Winter in mildness were ending,
To April I gave half the welcome of May;
While the Spring, fresh in youth, came delightfully blending
The buds that are sweet, and the songs that are gay.
As the eyes fixed the heart on a vision so fair,
Not doubting, but trusting what magic was there,
Aloud I exclaim'd, with augmented desire,
I thought 'twas the Spring, when in truth 'twas Maria!
When the fading of stars in the region of splendour
Announc'd that the morning was young in the east,
[39] On the upland I rov'd, admiration to render,
Where freshness, and beauty, and lustre increas'd.
Whilst the beams of the morning new pleasures bestow'd,
While fondly I gaz'd, while with rapture I glow'd,
In sweetness commanding, in elegance bright,
Maria arose! a more beautiful light.

Again, on the termination of the engagement of Miss Foote, at Drury Lane Theatre, in May, 1826, Sir Lumley addressed her in the following impromptu:

Maria departs! 'tis a sentence of dread;
For the Graces turn pale, and the Fates droop their head!
In mercy to breasts that tumultuously burn,
Dwell no more on departure, but speak of return.
Since she goes when the buds are just ready to burst,
In expanding its leaves, let the willow be first.
We here shall no longer find beauties in May;
It cannot be Spring when Maria's away!
If vernal at all, 'tis an April appears,
For the blossom flies off in the midst of our tears.

Sir Lumley, through the ingratitude and treachery of

Friends found in sunshine, to be lost in storm,

became involved in difficulties and endless litigation, and his latter years were clouded with sorrow; still his buoyant spirits never altogether left him, although "the observed of all observers" passed his latter years in compulsory residence in a quarter of the great town ignored by the Sybarites of St. James's.

When Madame Vestris established a theatre of her own, Sir Lumley thus sang, in the columns of The Times:—

Now Vestris, the tenth of the Muses,
To Mirth rears a fanciful dome,
We mark, while delight she infuses,
The Graces find beauty at home.
In her eye such vivacity glitters,
To her voice such perfections belong,
That care, and the life it embitters,
Find balm in the sweets of her song.
When monarchs o'er valleys are ranging,
A court is transferr'd to the green;
And flowers, transplanted, are changing
Not fragrance, but merely the scene.
'Tis circumstance dignifies places;
A desert is charming with spring!
And pleasure finds twenty new graces
Wherever the Vestris may sing!

Sir Lumley, who had long been unheard of in fashionable circles, died in London in 1850 or 1851.

Skiffy at the Birthday Ball.

Skiffy at the Birthday Ball.


Robert Coates, the Amateur of Fashion, as Romeo.

Robert Coates, the Amateur of Fashion, as Romeo.

"Romeo" Coates.

This celebrated leader of fashion, who rejoiced in the sobriquets of "Romeo" and "Diamond," obtained the[42] former from his love of amateur acting, and the latter from his great wealth obtained from the West Indies. He was likewise noted by his splendid curricle, the body of which was in the form of a cockleshell, bearing the cock-bird as his crest; and the harness of the horses was mounted with metal figures of the same bird, with which got associated the motto of "Whilst we live, we'll crow."

By his amateur performances he shared with young Betty (Roscius) the admiration of the town. A writer in the New Monthly Magazine, 1827, pleasantly describes one of these performances:—"Never shall I forget his representation of Lothario (some sixty years since), at the Haymarket Theatre, for his own pleasure, as he accurately termed it; and certainly the then rising fame of Liston was greatly endangered by his Barbadoes rival. Never had Garrick or Kemble in their best times so largely excited the public attention and curiosity. The very remotest nooks of the galleries were filled by fashion; while in a stage-box sat the performer's notorious friend, the Baron Ferdinand Geramb.

"Coates's lean Quixotic form being duly clothed in velvets and in silks, and his bonnet highly fraught with diamonds (whence his appellation), his entrance on the stage was greeted by so general a crowing (in allusion to the large cocks, which as his crest adorned his harness), that the angry and affronted Lothario drew his sword upon the audience, and actually challenged the rude and boisterous tenants of the galleries, seriatim or en masse, to combat on the stage. Solemn silence, as the consequence of mock fear, immediately succeeded. The great actor, after the overture had ceased, amused himself for some time with the Baron ere he condescended to indulge the wishes of an anxiously expectant audience.

"At length he commenced: his appeals to the heart were made by the application of the left hand so disproportionately lower down than 'the seat of life' has been supposed[43] to be placed; his contracted pronunciation of the word 'breach,' and other new readings and actings, kept the house in a right joyous humour, until the climax of all mirth was attained by the dying scene of

that gallant, gay Lothario:

but who shall describe the grotesque agonies of the dark seducer, his platted hair escaping from the comb that held it, and the dark crineous cordage that flapped upon his shoulders in the convulsions of his dying moments, and the cries of the people for medical aid to accomplish his eternal exit? Then, when in his last throes his coronet fell, it was miraculous to see the defunct arise, and after he had spread a nice handkerchief on the stage, and there deposited his head-dress, free from impurity, philosophically resume his dead condition; but it was not yet over, for the exigent audience, not content 'that when the men were dead, why there an end,' insisted on a repetition of the awful scene, which the highly flattered corpse executed three several times, to the gratification of the cruel and torment-loving assembly."

Coates was destined to be tantalized by the celebrated fête given at Carlton House, in 1821, in honour of the Bourbons. Having no opportunity of learning in the West Indies the propriety of being presented at Court ere he could be upon a more intimate footing with the Prince Regent, he was less astonished than delighted at the reception of an invitation on that occasion to Carlton House. What was the fame acquired by his cockleshell curricle; his theatrical reputation; all the applause attending the perfection of histrionic art; the flatteries of Billy Finch, a sort of kidnapper of juvenile actors and actresses of the O.P. and P.S., in Russell Court; the sanction of a Petersham; the intimacy of a Barry More; even the polite endurance of a Skeffington to this! To be classed with the proud, the noble, and the great! It seemed a natural query whether[44] the Bourbon's name were not a pretext for his own introduction to Royalty, under circumstances of unprecedented splendour and magnificence. It must have been so. What cogitations respecting dress, and air, and port, and bearing! What torturing of the confounded lanky locks, to make them but revolve ever so little! Then the rich cut velvet,—the diamond buttons,—ay, every one was composed of brilliants. The night arrived—but for Coates's mortification. Theodore Hook had contrived to imitate one of the Chamberlain's tickets, and to produce a facsimile, commanding the presence of Coates; he then put on a scarlet uniform, and delivered the card himself. On the night of the fête, June 19th, Hook stationed himself by the screen at Carlton House, and saw Romeo arrive and enter the palace; he passed in without question, but the forgery was detected by the Private Secretary, and Coates had to retrace his steps to the street, and his carriage being driven off, to get home to Craven Street in a hackney-coach. When the Prince was informed of what had occurred, he signified his regret at the course the Secretary had taken; he was sent by his Royal Highness to apologize in person, and invite Coates to come and look at the state rooms; and Romeo went.

Mr. Coates, who by his cockleshell curricle had acquired some of his celebrity, lost his life by a vehicular accident: he died February 23, 1848, from being run over in one of the London streets. He was in his seventy-sixth year.

Abraham Newland.

Abraham Newland, who was nearly sixty years in the service of the Bank of England, and whose name became a synonym for a bank-note, was one of a family of twenty-five children, and was born in Southwark in 1730. At the age of eighteen he entered the Bank service as junior clerk. He was very fond of music, which led him into much[45] dissipation. Still, he was very attentive to business, and in 1782 he was appointed chief cashier, with a suite of rooms for residence in the Bank, and for five-and-twenty years he never once slept out of the building. The pleasantest version of his importance is contained in the famous song in the Whims of the Day, published in 1800:—

There ne'er was a name so handed by fame,
Thro' air, thro' ocean, and thro' land,
As one that is wrote upon every bank note,
And you all must know Abraham Newland.
Oh, Abraham Newland!
Notified Abraham Newland!
I have heard people say, sham Abraham you may,
But you must not sham Abraham Newland.
For fashion or arts, should you seek foreign parts,
It matters not wherever you land,
Jew, Christian, or Greek, the same language they speak
That's the language of Abraham Newland!
Oh, Abraham Newland!
Wonderful Abraham Newland!
Tho' with compliments cramm'd, you may die and be d—d,
If you hav'n't an Abraham Newland.
The world is inclin'd to think Justice is blind;
Lawyers know very well they can view land;
But, Lord, what of that, she'll blink like a bat
At the sight of an Abraham Newland.
Oh, Abraham Newland!
Magical Abraham Newland!
Tho' Justice, 'tis known, can see through a millstone,
She can't see through Abraham Newland.
Your patriots who bawl for the good of us all,
Kind souls! here like mushrooms they strew land;
Tho' loud as a drum, each proves orator mum,
If attack'd by an Abraham Newland!
Oh, Abraham Newland!
Invincible Abraham Newland!
No argument's found in the world half so sound
As the logic of Abraham Newland!


The French say they're coming, but sure they are mumming;
I know what they want if they do land;
We'll make their ears ring in defence of our king,
Our country, and Abraham Newland.
Oh, Abraham Newland!
Darling Abraham Newland!
No tricolour, elf, nor the devil himself
Shall e'er rob us of Abraham Newland.

In 1807, he retired from the office of chief cashier, after declining a pension. He had hitherto been accustomed, after the business at the Bank in his department had closed, and he had dined moderately, to order his carriage and drive to Highbury, where he drank tea at a small cottage. Many who lived in that neighbourhood long recollected Newland's daily walk—hail, rain, or sunshine—along Highbury Place. It was said that he regretted his retirement from the Bank; but he used to say that not for 20,000l. a year would he return. He then removed to No. 38, Highbury Place. His health and strength declined, it is said, through the distress of mind brought upon him by the forgeries of Robert Aslett, a clerk in the Bank, whom Newland had treated as his own son. It was well known that Abraham had accumulated a large fortune; legacy-hunters came about him, and an acquaintance sent him a ham as a present; but Newland despised the mercenary motive, and next time he saw the donor he said, "I have received a ham from you; I thank you for it," said he, but raising his finger in a significant manner, added, "I tell you it won't do, it won't do."

Newland had no extravagant expectations that the world would be drowned in sorrow when it should be his turn to leave it; and he wrote this ludicrous epitaph on himself shortly before his death:—

Beneath this stone old Abraham lies:
Nobody laughs and nobody cries.
Where he's gone, and how he fares,
No one knows, and no one cares!


His physician, in one of his latest visits, found him reading the newspaper, when the doctor expressing his surprise, Newland replied, smiling, "I am only looking in the paper in order to see what I am reading to the world I am going to." He died November 21, 1807, without any apparent pain of body or anxiety of mind, and his remains were deposited in the church of St. Saviour, Southwark.

Newland's property amounted to 200,000l., besides a thousand a year landed estates. It must not be supposed that this was saved from his salary. During the whole of his career, the loans for the war proved very prolific. A certain amount of them was always reserved for the cashier's office (one Parliamentary Report names 100,000l.), and as they generally came out at a premium, the profits were great. The family of the Goldsmids, then the leaders of the Stock Exchange, contracted for many of these loans, and to each of them he left 500l. to purchase a mourning ring. Newland's large funds, it is said, were also occasionally lent to the Goldsmids to assist their various speculations.


Squire Mytton on his bear.

Squire Mytton on his bear.

The Spendthrift Squire of Halston, John Mytton.

The extravagant fellows of a family, says Sir Bernard Burke, Ulster, have done more to overturn ancient houses than all the other causes put together; and no case could[49] be more in point to establish the fact than the history of John Mytton, descended from the Myttons of Halston, who represented, in the days of the Plantagenets, the borough of Shrewsbury in Parliament, and filled the office of High Sheriff of Shropshire at a very remote period. So far back as 1480, Thomas Mytton, when holding that appointment, was the fortunate captor of Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, whom he conducted to Salisbury for trial and decapitation; and in requital Richard III. bestowed on "his trusty and well-beloved squire, Thomas Mytton," the Duke's forfeited castle and lordship of Cawes. Halston, to which the Myttons transferred their seat from their more ancient residence of Cawes Castle and Habberley, is called in ancient deeds "Holystone," and was in early times a preceptory of Knights Templars. The Abbey, taken down about one hundred and sixty years ago, was erected near where the present mansion stands. In the good old times of Halston, before reckless waste had dismantled its halls and levelled its ancestral woods, the oak was seen here in its full majesty of form; and it is related that one particular tree, coeval with many centuries of the family's greatness, was cut down by the spendthrift squire in the year 1826, and contained ten tons of timber.

In the great civil war, Mytton of Halston was one of the few Shropshire gentlemen who joined the Parliamentary standard. From this gallant and upright Parliamentarian, the fifth in descent was John Mytton, the eccentric, wasteful, dissipated, open-hearted, open-handed Squire of Halston, in whose day and by whose wanton extravagance and folly, a time-honoured family and a noble estate, the inheritance of five hundred years, was recklessly destroyed.

John Mytton was born September 30th, 1796. His father died when he was only eighteen months old, so that his minority lasted almost twenty years; and during its continuance a very large sum of money was accumulated, which, added to a landed property of full 10,000l. a year,[50] and a pedigree of even Salopian antiquity and distinction, rendered the Squire of Halston one of the first commoners in England. But a boyhood unrestrained by proper control, and an education utterly neglected, led to a course of profligacy and eccentricity, amounting almost to madness, that marred all these gifts of fortune. Young Mytton commenced by being expelled from both Westminster and Harrow; and though he was entered on the books of the two universities, he did not matriculate at either; the only indication he ever gave of an intention to do so was his ordering three pipes of port wine to be sent to him, addressed "Cambridge." When a mere child, he had been allowed a pack of harriers at Halston, and at the age of ten was a confirmed scapegrace. At nineteen he entered the 7th Hussars, and immediately joined his regiment, then with the army of occupation in France. Fighting was, however, all over, and the young Cornet turned at once to racing and gaming, in which he was a serious loser.

In 1818 he married the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Tyrrwhitt Jones, Bart., of Stanley Hall. By this lady, who died in 1820, he had an only child, Harriet, married in 1841 to Clement, youngest brother of Lord Hill. After his wife's decease, the wayward extravagance which marked the career of John Mytton has probably no parallel. He would not suffer any one to advise him. When heavy liabilities had been incurred, but previously to the disposal of the first property he sold, his agent assured Mr. Mytton that if he would content himself for the following six years with an income of 6,000l., the fine old Shrewsbury estate—the earliest patrimony of his ancestors—might be saved; when besought to listen to this warning counsel, "No, no," replied Mytton; "I would not give a straw for life if it was to be passed on 6,000l. a year." The result confirmed the agent's apprehensions: the first acre alienated led to the gradual dismemberment of the whole estate; and from this moment may be dated the ruin of the Myttons of Halston. Such[51] was the prodigality of this unfortunate man, that it was said, "If Mytton had had an income of 200,000l., he would have been in debt in five years." Most certain it is that, within the last fifteen years of his life, he squandered full half-a-million sterling, and sold timber—"the old oaks of Halston"—to the amount, it is stated, of 80,000l.

The late Mr. Apperley (Nimrod) wrote a kindly biography of Mytton, illustrated with coloured plates of his strange adventures. One gives a view of Halston, with its glorious plantations, and its noble sheet of water, through which, as the shortest cut, its eccentric owner is riding home. Another illustrates Mytton's "wild duck shooting." "He would sometimes," says Nimrod, "strip to his shirt to follow wild-fowl in hard weather, and once actually laid himself down on the snow to await their arrival at dusk. On one occasion he out-heroded Herod, for he followed some ducks in puris naturalibus, and escaped with perfect impunity." The third plate commemorates a practical joke of the frolic-loving squire. One evening the clergyman and doctor, who had dined at Halston, left to return on horseback. Their host having disguised himself in a countryman's frock and hat, succeeded, by riding across the park, in confronting them, and then, in true highwayman voice, he called out, "Stand and deliver!" and before a reply could be given, fired off his pistol, which had of course only a blank cartridge. The affrighted gentlemen, Mytton used to say, never rode half so fast in their lives, as when, with him at their heels, they fled that night to Oswestry.

Another of the plates exhibits Mr. Mytton in hunting dress, entering his drawing-room full of company mounted on a bear: and another exemplifies the old saying, "Light come, light go." Mytton, travelling in his carriage, on a stormy night from Doncaster, fell asleep while counting the money he had won; the windows were down, and a great many of the bank-notes were blown away and lost. The reckless[52] gambler used often to tell the story as an amusing reminiscence.

Another plate represents Mytton with his shirt in flames. "Did you ever hear," asks Nimrod, "of a man setting fire to his own shirt to frighten away the hiccup? Such, however, was done, and in this manner:—'Oh, this horrid hiccup!' said Mytton, as he stood undressed on the floor, apparently in the act of getting into bed; 'but I'll frighten it away;' so seizing a candle, he applied it to the tail of his shirt, and it being a cotton one, he was instantly enveloped in flames." His life was only saved by the active exertions of two persons who chanced to be in the room.

Mytton married, secondly, Miss Giffard, of Chillington, a match of such misery to the lady, that it ended in a separation. The crisis of the spendthrift's fate was now impending. All the effects at Halston were advertised for sale; and very shortly after Mr. Mytton fled to the Continent to escape from his creditors. "On the 15th of November, 1831," says Nimrod, "during my residence in the town of Calais, I was surprised by a violent knocking at my door, and so unlike what I had ever heard before in that quiet town, that being at hand, I was induced to open the door myself, when, to my no little astonishment, there stood John Mytton. 'In the name of Heaven,' said I, 'what has brought you to France?' 'Why,' he replied, 'just what brought yourself to France'—parodying the old song—'three couple of bailiffs were hard at my brush.' But what did I see before me—the active, vigorous, well-shapen John Mytton, whom I had left some years back in Shropshire? Oh, no; compared with him, 'twas the reed shaken by the wind; there stood before me a round-shouldered, decrepit, tottering, old-young man, if I may be allowed such a term, and so bloated by drink! But there was a worse sight than this—there was a mind as well as a body in ruins; the one had partaken of the injury done to the other; and it was at once apparent that the whole was a wreck. In fact, he was a melancholy spectacle of fallen man."


It appeared that Mytton had been arrested for a paltry debt and thrown into prison. "I once more," writes Nimrod, "was pained by seeing my friend looking through the bars of a French prison-window. Here he was suffered to remain for fourteen days; on the thirteenth day, I thought it my duty to inform his mother of his situation, and in four days from the date of my letter she was in Calais. After a time Mytton returned to England, but only to a prison and a grave. The representative of one of the most ancient families of his country, at one time M.P. for Shrewsbury and High Sheriff for Shropshire and Merioneth, the inheritor of Halston and Mowddwy and almost countless acres, the most popular sportsman of England, died within the walls of the King's Bench Prison, at the age of thirty-eight, deserted and neglected by all, save a few faithful friends and a devoted mother, who stood by his death-bed to the last."

The announcement of the sad event produced a profound impression in Shropshire: the people within many miles were deeply affected; the degradation of Mytton's later years, the faults and follies of his wretched life, were all forgotten; the generosity, the tenderness of heart, the manly tastes of poor John Mytton, his sporting popularity, and his very mad follies, were recalled with affectionate sympathy. His funeral will long be remembered—three thousand persons attended it, and a detachment of the North Shropshire Cavalry (of which regiment the deceased was Major) escorted his remains to the vault in the chapel of Halston; several private carriages followed, and about one hundred of the tenantry, tradesmen, and friends on horseback closed the procession. The body was placed in the family vault, surrounded by the coffins of twelve of his relatives.

The story of John Mytton is appalling. A family far more ancient and apparently as vigorous as the grand old oaks that once were the pride of Halston, was destroyed, after centuries of honourable and historic eminence, by the[54] mad follies of one man in the brief space of eighteen years! The magnificent Lordship of Dinas Mowddwy, with it 32,000 acres—originally an appanage of the dynasty of Powis—inherited through twelve generations from a coheiress of the Royal Lineage of Powys Wenwynwyn, had been bartered, it is alleged, in adjustment of a balance on turf and gambling transactions.[7]

What a sad conclusion to the history of a very distinguished race, memorable in the days of the Plantagenets, and renowned in the great Civil War, is the following record, taken from The Times, 2nd April, 1834:—"On Monday, an inquest was held in the King's Bench Prison, on the body of John Mytton, Esq., who died there on the preceding Saturday. The deceased inherited considerable estates in the counties of Salop and Merioneth, for both which he served the office of High Sheriff, and some time represented the borough of Shrewsbury in Parliament. His munificence and eccentric gaieties obtained him great notoriety in the sporting and gay circles, both in England and on the Continent. Two medical attendants stated that the immediate cause of his death was disease of the brain (delirium tremens), brought on by the excessive use of spirituous liquours. The deceased was in his thirty-eighth year. Verdict—'Natural Death.'"


Noble Aide-de-Camp. Lord Petersham.

Noble Aide-de-Camp. Lord Petersham.

Lord Petersham.

This eccentric nobleman, who was the eldest son of Charles, third Earl of Harrington, was a leader of fashion some thirty years since; he was tall and handsome; according[56] to Captain Gronow, Lord Petersham very much resembled the pictures of Henry IV. of France, and frequently wore a dress not unlike that of the celebrated monarch. He was a great patron of tailors, and a particular kind of greatcoat was called after him a "Petersham." When young, he used to cut out his own clothes; he made his own blacking, which, he said, would eventually supersede every other. He was also a connoisseur in snuff, and one of his rooms was fitted up with shelves and beautiful jars for various kinds of snuff, with the names in gold. Here were also implements for moistening and mixing snuffs, and Lord Petersham's mixture is to this day a popular snuff. He possessed also a fine collection of snuff-boxes, and it was said, a box for every day in the year. Captain Gronow saw him using a beautiful Sèvres box, which, on being admired, he said was "a nice summer box, but would not do for winter wear." He was equally choice of his teas, and in the same room with the snuffs, upon shelves, were placed tea-canisters, containing Congou, Pekoe, Souchong, Gunpowder, Russian, and other fine kinds. Indeed, his father's mansion, Harrington House, was long famous for its tea-drinking; the Earl and Countess and family, and their visitors, were received upon these occasions in the long gallery, and here the family of George III. enjoyed many a cup of tea. It is told that when General Lincoln Stanhope returned from India after several years' absence, his father welcomed him with "Hallo, Linky, my dear boy! delighted to see you. Have a cup of tea!"

Lord Petersham's equipages were unique; the carriages and horses were brown; the harness had furniture of antique design; and the servants wore long brown coats reaching to their heels, and glazed hats with large cockades. Lord Petersham was a liberal patron of the opera and the theatres; and two years after he had succeeded his father in the earldom (of Harrington), he married the beautiful Maria Foote, of Covent Garden Theatre.


The King and Queen of the Sandwich Islands.

In the year 1824, their "savage Majesties" of the Sandwich Islands visited England. They were seen by Miss Berry, who, in her entertaining journal, has thus graphically described their visit:—

"At half-past ten o'clock, I went with the Prince and Princess Lowenstein, their son, and my sister, to Mr. Canning's, the Secretary of State, who received for the first time the King and Queen of the Sandwich Islands. They arrived in the midst of a numerous assembly, all of the best society, and all en grande toilette for a large assembly given at Northumberland House. Mr. Canning entered, giving his hand to a large black woman more than six feet high, and broad in proportion, muffled up in a striped gauze dress with short sleeves, leaving uncovered enormous black arms, half covered again with white gloves; an enormous gauze turban upon her head; black hair, not curled, but very short; a small bag in her hand, and I do not know what upon her neck, where there was no gauze. It was with difficulty that the Minister and his company could preserve a proper gravity for the occasion. The Queen was followed by a lady in waiting as tall as herself, and with a gayer and more intelligent countenance. Then came the King, accompanied by three of his subjects, all dressed, like him, in European costume; and a fourth, whose office I did not know, but he wore over his ordinary coat a scarlet and yellow feather cloak, and a helmet covered with the same material on his head. The King was shorter than his four courtiers, but they all looked very strong, and, except the King, all taller than the majority of those who surrounded them. The two ladies were seated before the fire in the gallery for some time. Mrs. Canning was presented first to them, and then the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and[58] the Prince Leopold. The Queen took the Duchess of Gloucester by the arm and shook it. One should have pitied them for the way in which all eyes were turned upon them, and for all the observations they occasioned; but it seemed to me that their minds are not sufficiently opened, and that they are not civilized enough either to notice or to suffer from it. From the gallery, Mr. Canning, still holding the Queen's hand, conducted them through the apartment and under the verandah of the garden, where the band of the Guards regiment, in their full uniform, was playing military airs. Her savage Majesty appeared much more occupied by the red-plumed hats of the musicians than by the music. She ought to have been pleased to see that the officer's helmet of her Court surpassed them as to colour. From there they were conducted into the dining-room, where there was a fine collation. The two ladies were seated alone at a table placed across the room, and ate some cake and drank wine. They appeared awkward in all their movements, and particularly embarrassed in their walk; there was nothing of the free step of the savage, being probably embarrassed by the folds of the European dress."

The King and Queen and their suite were wantonly charged with gluttony and drunkenness by persons who ought to have known better. "It is true," observes Lord Byron, in his Voyage to the Sandwich Islands, "that, unaccustomed to our habits, they little regarded regular hours for meals, and that they liked to eat frequently, though not to excess. Their greatest luxury was oysters, of which they were particularly fond; and one day, some of the chiefs having been out to walk, and seeing a grey mullet, instantly seized it and carried it home, to the great delight of the whole party; who, on recognizing the native fish of their own seas, could scarcely believe that it had not swum hither on purpose for them, or been persuaded to wait till it was cooked before they ate it." The best proof of their[59] moderation is, however, that the charge at Osborne's Hotel, in the Adelphi, during their residence there, amounted to no greater an average than seventeen shillings a head per day for their table: as they ate little or no butcher's meat, but lived chiefly on fish, poultry, and fruit, by no means the cheapest articles in London, their gluttony could not have been great. So far from their always preferring the strongest liquors, their favourite beverage was some cider, with which they had been presented by Mr. Canning.

The popular comic song of The King of the Cannibal Islands was written à propos to the above royal visit.

Sir Edward Dering's Luckless Courtship.

Sir Edward Dering, the founder of the Surrenden library, and a distinguished member of Parliament in the troublous times of Charles I., was born in the Tower of London in 1598, his father having been deputy-lieutenant of that fortress. He studied at Magdalen College, Cambridge, and was knighted by James I. in 1618. Sir Edward was thrice married. The story of an unsuccessful courtship, after his second widowhood, is as good as a play, and indeed more amusing than many dramas of the period based upon a similar subject. The object of this enterprise was a city dame, the widow of a well-connected mercer, Richard Bennett by name. The widow Bennett, by the custom of London and the will of her husband, was possessed of two-thirds of the deceased's property, besides all her jewels and chains of pearl and gold, her diamond and other rings, her husband's coach and the four grey coach-mares and geldings, with all things thereunto belonging. In addition to these substantial recommendations, she seems to have had some personal charms of her own, and no other encumbrance than one little boy. In those days it was not necessary to advertise for a husband, and Mistress Bennett could not lack suitors.[60] Three of the most conspicuous were named Finch, Crow, and Raven, much to the amusement of London society in those days. The first was Sir Heneage Finch, Recorder of London, who had been Speaker of the House of Commons in 1626, and owned a handsome house at Kensington, since converted into a Royal Palace. The next was Sir Sackville Crow, who was Treasurer of the Navy, of which office he was subsequently deprived, owing to an unfortunate deficit of which he was unable to give a satisfactory account. The third was one Raven, a physician. This fatuous individual, not having found much success in the way of ordinary courtship, could think of no better expedient to gain his ends than to present himself in the widow's bedchamber after she had retired to rest, when, having woke the lady, he proceeded to press his suit. The widow screamed thieves and murder, the servants rushed in, and the doctor was secured and handed over to the parish constable. On the next day he was brought before Mr. Recorder, who found the proceeding to be "flat burglary," and committed his unlucky rival to gaol. When brought up for trial he pleaded guilty to the "burglary," but under advice of the judge withdrew the plea, and was ultimately found guilty of "ill-demeanour," and was condemned to fine and imprisonment.

It was on the morning after Dr. Raven's mad freak that Sir Edward Dering presented himself as a suitor. How he commenced this important enterprise, and how he sped, we learn from a minute journal which he kept of his proceedings, and which he did not afterwards think it necessary to burn. Here are a few entries. Thus begins the journal:—

Nov. 20. Edmund, King. I adventured, was denied. Sent up a letter, which was returned, after she had read it.

This repulse rendered it necessary to resort to crooked means. Servants are corruptible, and so we find—

Nov. 21. I inveigled G. Newman with 20s.


Nov. 24. I did re-engage him, 20s. I did also oil the cash-keeper, 20s.

Nov. 26. I gave Edmund Aspull [the cash-keeper] another 20s. I was there, but denied sight.

Unpromising this, but Sir Edward does not lose courage.

Nov. 27. I sent a second letter, which was kept.

There is hope, then, but we must not relax. Same day.

I set Sir John Skeffington upon Matthew Cradock.

Matthew Cradock is a cousin of the widow, and her trusty adviser. Same day.

The cash-keeper supped with me.

Nov. 28. I went to Mr. Cradock, but found him cold.

Sir John Skeffington could not have exerted himself much.

Nov. 29. I was at the Old Jewry Church and saw her, both forenoon and afternoon.

Dec. 1. I sent a third letter, which was likewise kept.

The widow had a troublesome affair on her hands. It appears that one Steward, under the abominable system of wardships which then prevailed, had obtained a grant from the crown of the wardship of Mrs. Bennett's little boy, then four years old. The widow was in treaty with Steward to buy from him the wardship of her own child, which the rogue refused to release for 1,500l., offered him in hard cash. Between this affair, and Dr. Raven and other suitors, the widow had enough to think of. Steward had also made matrimonial proposals, which Mrs. Bennett deemed it not prudent to cut short at once, while the bargaining for the wardship was going on. On the 5th December Sir Edward communicates with one Loe, an influential person with the widow. Loe answers, "that Steward was so testy that she durst not give admittance unto any, until he and she were[62] fully concluded for the wardship—that she had a good opinion of me—that he (Loe) heard nobly of me—that he would inform me when Steward was off—that he was engaged for another—that I need not refrain from going to the church where she was, unless I thought it to disparage myself." Acting on this advice, Sir Edward goes to St. Olave's next Sunday, and on coming out of church George Newman whispers in his ear, "Good news! Good news!" After dinner George calls on Sir Edward, who had taken a lodging in the sight of the widow's house, and tells him that she "liked well his carriage, and that if his land were not settled on his eldest son there was good hope." The bearer of such news certainly merits oiling, so, Sir Edward says, "I gave him twenty shillings." That evening Sir Edward supped with his rival, Sir Heneage Finch, who gave him to understand that he himself despaired of his own suit, and was ready to vacate the field, and even promised to assist the worthy knight.

The plot now thickens. Sir Edward, on New Year's Day, in a fit of injured dignity, demanded back those letters that had "been kept;" they were promptly returned; he afterwards repented him of this rash proceeding; Izaak Walton, angler, biographer, and man-milliner, was enlisted in the cause, and laboured strenuously, like an honest man and an angler, therein; and the widow, Sir Edward, and the enthusiastic Izaak, all had wonderful dreams, which came to nothing. On the 9th of January Sir Edward notes, "George Newman says she hath two suits of silver plate, one in the country and the other here, and that she hath beds of 100l. the bed!" Such a prize deserves striving for, and an attack is commenced in a new quarter. George Newman, with Susan, the widow's nursemaid, and her little child, going into Finsbury Fields to walk, are met by Taylor, Sir Edward's landlord. Taylor inveigles the child to come with him; George Newman and Susan follow, not unwillingly. Sir Edward says, "I entertained the child with[63] cake, and gave him an amber box, and to them, wine. Susan professed that she and all the house prayed for me, and told me the child called me 'father.' I gave her 5s., and entreated her to desire her mistress not to be offended at this, which I was so glad of. She said she thought she would not." The widow's cousin Cradock arrives in town. "Izaak Walton," says Sir Edward, "undertook him at his first coming, and did his part well. Cradock said he would do his best, if I would be ruled by him," &c. Other suitors now intervene, and occasion much anxiety. They, too, have their canvassers and agents, and the widow's residence becomes a perfect focus of intrigue. The Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Isaac Bargrave, Sir Edward's relative, is brought to bear, and he procures Dr. Featley, a celebrated city divine, to call on the widow and use his influence. The affair begins to assume public importance. The grave Sir Henry Wotton, coming from Eton to pay his respects to his Majesty, meets Sir Edward in the Privy Chamber, and, with a knowing look, wishes him "a full sail," &c. Alas! all this labour and bribery was destined to come to nothing. The comedy ended by the widow, who all along had kept her own counsel, marrying the smooth-tongued Sir Heneage Finch, who had sat quietly in the background, probably knowing his position to be assured. Sir Edward was more successful in a subsequent matrimonial enterprise. He found an excellent and amiable wife, and must, we should think, have often laughed over his adventures with the widow.[8]

Gretna-Green Marriages.

In the summer of 1753, a young lady at Ranelagh Gardens, Chelsea, became acquainted with a handsome young gentleman. They danced together on another day;[64] they met at the same place, and again danced. He was a handsome young fellow, and the lady was beautiful and wealthy, as well as high-born. She was sister to the two leading statesmen of England—Mr. Pelham, the Prime Minister; and the Duke of Newcastle, who had been Secretary of State. Her lover was a notorious highwayman, Jack Freeland by name, with many other aliases. He, professing to be a gentleman of fortune, proposed marriage, to which she assented. From reasons suggested about family objections on both sides, they agreed to repair to the Fleet prison to be wedded. At the foot of Fleet Street, matrimonial visitors in that day entered the region of touters, who accosted couples with such addresses as "Married, sir?" "Wish to be married, ma'am?" And by rival touters who asserted, "His parson be no good—only a cove what mends shoes; get married with mine: mine is a regular hordained parson." Perhaps a third assertion, that "Them fellows' parsons be no good; get married respectable; show you in no time to a real Oxford and Cambridge professor." Following these persons up narrow passages on Ludgate Hill, the couples were married for such fees as private bargain regulated in dingy up-stairs rooms of taverns: or going into the Fleet Prison, were united there by clerical prisoners who found the place too lucrative and pleasant as a lodging to make them anxious about paying their debts to get out. Those prisoners, like some other of the "Fleet parsons"—indeed it was from the prison that the term "Fleet marriages" arose—had also their touters stationed in the adjoining streets to bring them customers. Miss Pelham and her gallant highwayman were conducted to a Fleet parson. But a gentleman happened to observe them who knew both. To save the lady he caused the robber-bridegroom to be arrested, and carried the tidings to the Prime Minister, her brother. The case led to much discussion. In the heat of offended dignity, the Pelhams caused Lord Chancellor Hardwicke to introduce a Bill for the better regulation and solemnizing of marriage. It passed[65] hastily through both houses of Parliament, and became law. Except in the case of Jews and Quakers, it required all parties to be married by a regularly ordained clergyman of the Church, and only after a due proclamation of banns.

The Marriage Law of Scotland did not exact that there should be a religious ceremony, nor even the presence of a clergyman, though the religious habits of the people prefer both. To be valid, the Scottish law required only that the marriage contract should be witnessed. When the Fleet was shut against lovers in 1754, those impatient of parental control, and possessed of means to defray travelling expenses, repaired to Scotland. Edinburgh for a time supplied their wants: the last, we believe, who carried on a regular traffic in runaway weddings here was Joseph Robertson, who, several years ago, died miserably of hunger in London. But it was on the line of the borders adjoining England that those weddings abounded. At Lamberton Toll, the nearest Scottish ground to Berwick, the business was for many years done at a very low price. After the erection of the suspension-bridge, six miles above Berwick, marriages were performed there. A "Sheen Brig" wedding became a common occurrence both to Northumberland and Berwickshire lovers. At Coldstream, also, those marriages were common. But it was at Gretna-Green, and Sark Toll Bar, and Springfield, nine miles from Carlisle, that the "high-fly" runaways from England tied their nuptial knots in greatest number. All the space between Carlisle and the Border was common land, until of late years, inhabited only by smugglers and persons of unsettled life. The Scottish parish of Gretna, on the north side of the Sark stream, which there divides the countries, had a population of a like character. After the act of 1754 had shut the Fleet parsons out of shop in London, one of them paid his debts in the prison, and advertised his removal to Gretna. Thither he was followed by adventurous couples who failed to obtain the consent of parents and guardians to their union. At his death a native[66] of the place, known as "Scott o' the Brig" (Sark Bridge), took up the business. He was succeeded by one Gordon, an old soldier; and Gordon by the notorious Joseph Paisley. Paisley was succeeded by several rivals, of whom Elliot and Laing were the principals. Mr. Linton, of Gretna Hall, became chief priest after Laing's death, which occurred through cold taken in a journey to Lancaster, in 1826, where he was required as a witness in the prosecution of the Wakefields for the abduction of Miss Turner.

In 1841, the writer visited Gretna and Springfield to inspect the registers, and found them a mass of loose papers. At that time the larger part of the matrimonial trade was done—for couples arriving on foot—by Mrs. Baillie and Miss Baillie, her daughter, who kept Sark Bridge Toll; the post-chaise weddings going to Mr. Linton, of Gretna Hall: his register, unlike the older ones, was a well-written official-looking volume. Peter Elliot, formerly priest, was then an old man. He had in his younger days been a postboy, but was reduced to the office of "strapper" in a stable at Carlisle. Excess of whisky on his part, and the more genteel competition of the occupier of Gretna Hall, had driven him out of the marriage trade. But in his lifetime he had been concerned in many races and chases over the nine miles between Carlisle and Gretna, and would tell of the beautiful daughters of England, whom, with whip and spur and shout, and wild halloo, he had carried at the gallop across the border; the pursuing guardian, or jilted lover, or angry father in sight behind, urging on post-boys who also whipped and spurred and hallooed, but took care never to overtake the fugitives until too late. Then there were tales of how time was too short even for the brief ceremony, and how the officiating priest broke off, exclaiming, "Ben the house, ben and into bed, into bed, my leddy!" They were proud to boast of two Lord Chancellors having been married there, one of whom, Erskine, arrived in the travelling costume of an old lady.


About the year 1794 it was estimated that sixty couples were married annually, they paying an average of 15 guineas each, yielding a revenue of 945l. a year or thereabout. The form of certificate was in latter times printed, the officiating priest not being always sufficiently sober to write; nor when sober was he an adept in penmanship, as the following from the pen of Joseph Paisley may show:—

"This is to sartify all persons that may be concernid that (A. B.) from the parish of (C.) and in county of (D.) and (E. F.) from the parish of (G.) and county of (H.), and both comes before me and declayred themselves both to be single persons, and nowe mayried by the forme of the Kirk of Scotland and agreeible to the Church of England, and givne ondre my hand this 18th day of March, 1793."

Joseph Paisley, writer of this, was originally a weaver, at some other time a tobacconist. He was the so-called "Blacksmith," though there is no record that he, his predecessors, or successors were real blacksmiths. He removed from Gretna to the village of Springfield, half a mile distant, in 1791, and attended to his lucrative employment till his death in 1814. He was tall in person, and in prime of life well-proportioned; but before he died had grown enormously corpulent, weighing upwards of 25 stone. By his natural enemies—the parish clergymen—he was said to be grossly ignorant and coarse in his manners, drinking a Scotch pint of whisky in various shapes of toddy and raw drams in a day. On one occasion he and a companion, named Ned the Turner, sat down on a Monday morning to an anker of strong cognac, and before the evening of Saturday they kicked the empty cask out at the door! He was also celebrated for his stentorian lungs and almost incredible muscular strength. He could with one hand bend a strong poker over his arm, and was frequently known to straighten an ordinary horse-shoe with his hands. But he could not break asunder the bands of matrimony which he so easily rivetted. Law stamped his handiwork with the title of[68] sanctity. The Gretna and Sark Toll marriages greatly increased in number through the facilities of railway conveyance. The fugitives, when obtaining a start by an express train, could not be overtaken by another, while the ordinary third-class carried away so many customers for cheap marriages from their English parish clergy, that the Legislature was invoked, and enacted that on and after the 1st January, 1857, no marriage should be valid in Scotland unless the parties had both resided in Scotland for the last six weeks next preceding the wedding-day. In the evidence upon this Bill, one of the marriers, Murray, of Gretna, admitted that he had married between 700 and 800 couples in a year; and as there were two or three other of these marriers in good practice, the number of couples married at Sark Toll Bar and at Gretna may be safely estimated at upwards of 1,000 in a year.

The alteration in the law was effected through the happy effort of a magistrate of Cumberland, immediately and ably supported by the magistrates of the county, who signed a petition committed to the charge of Lord Brougham. His Lordship forthwith introduced a Bill, after Easter, 1856, which Bill passed through Parliament without opposition.[9]

The Agapemone, or Abode of Love.

This strange place, Agapemone (Gr. αγαπη love, and μονη an abode), was the general residence of a peculiar sect of religionists, established in 1845 at Charlinch, near Taunton, in Somersetshire. They were originally a branch of the sect called Lampeters, and their peculiar tenets are, that the day of grace and prayer is passed, and the time of judgment arrived. They carry out their belief by perpetual praises to[69] God, but do not adopt the use of prayer. The members enter into a community of property, and profess to live in a state of constant joyousness and mutual love. In 1849 a singular trial, connected with this institution, occupied the Court of Exchequer for three days. It was an action brought by Miss Louisa Nottidge, a maiden lady of large property, against her brother and brother-in-law, for forcibly abducting her from the Agapemone, and confining her in a lunatic asylum. It appeared that the plaintiff and her three sisters, all ladies of considerable property, had become converts to the opinions of this sect, and taken up their abode in the Agapemone, where the sisters were married to three of the clerical rulers of the establishment; but Miss Louisa Nottidge, who had remained single, was forcibly taken away by the two defendants, and sent to a lunatic asylum; for which alleged wrong she obtained 50l. damages; thus showing that she was not insane, and that the law, as the Chief Baron observed, tolerated every sect, however absurd, that did not inflict a social wrong, or openly violate the laws of morality.

Since that period the sect has been sending its missionaries to different parts of the country, in order to gain converts. On the 26th of September, 1856, two of these missionaries called a meeting at the Hanover Square Rooms, in London, when one of them addressed the assembled visitors in an unintelligible jargon relative to the mission of a certain "Brother Prince," the head of the Agapemone, who had, he said, been made a "vessel of mercy" for the human race, and who was to supersede the Gospel by some new religious dispensation which he had been specially commissioned to teach. The other missionary then stated that he would explain who Brother Prince was. He was by nature, he said, a child of wrath, but by grace a vessel of mercy. The testimony of Brother Prince was concerning what Jesus Christ had done by his own person. Some eleven years ago, he said, the Holy Ghost fulfilled in Brother Prince all that he came to be and to do. The speaker[70] proceeded to allude to a second spiritual manifestation which, he said, occurred at the Agapemone about five years ago, in which case the phenomenon was exhibited in the person of a woman—a prophetess—"not privately, but in the presence of all." These sentiments were uttered in the midst of general execration; and a resolution was unanimously passed, "That the statements which had been made that evening were contrary to common sense, degrading to humanity, and blasphemous towards God."—English Cyclopædia.

Singular Scotch Ladies.

Lord Cockburn, in his Memorials of his Time, speaks of "a singular race of Scotch old ladies," who were a delightful set; warm-hearted, very resolute, indifferent about the modes and habits of the modern world, and adhering to their own ways, who dressed, spoke, and did exactly as they chose. Among these examples of perfect naturalness was a Miss Menie Trotter, of whom Miss Grahame, in her Mystifications, relates:—"She was penurious in small things, but her generosity could rise to circumstances. Her dower was an annuity from the estate of Mortonhall. She had contempt for securities, and would trust no bank with her money, but kept all her bills and bank-notes in a green silk bag that hung on her toilette-glass. On each side of the table stood a large white bowl, one of which contained her silver, the other her copper money, the latter always full to the brim, accessible to Peggy, her handmaid, or any other servant in the house, for the idea of any one stealing money never entered her brain. Indeed, she once sent a present to her niece, Mrs. Cuninghame, of a fifty-pound note wrapped up in a cabbage-leaf, and entrusted it to the care of a woman who was going with a basket of butter to the Edinburgh market. My friend Mrs. Cuninghame related to me this and the following histories of her aunt:—One day, in the[71] course of conversation, she said to her niece, 'Do you ken, Margaret, that Mrs. Thomas R—— is dead. I was gaun by the door this morning, and thought I wad just look in and speer for her. She was very near her end, but quite sensible, and expressed her gratitude to God for what He had done for her and her fatherless bairns. She said "she was leaving a large young family with very small means, but she had that trust in Him that they would not be forsaken, and that He would provide for them." Now, Margaret, ye'll tell Peggy to bring down the green silk bag that hangs on the corner of my looking-glass, and ye'll tak' twa thousand pounds out o' it, and gi'e it Walter Ferrier for behoof of thae orphan bairns; it will fit out the laddies, and be something to the lassies. I want to make good the words, "that God wad provide for them," for what else was I sent that way this morning, but as a humble instrument in his hands?'"

Miss Trotter had a strong friendship for a certain Mrs. B——, who had an only son, and he was looked on as a simpleton, but his relatives had interest to get him a situation as clerk in a bank, where he contrived to steal money to the extent of five hundred pounds. His peculations were discovered, and in those days he would have been hanged, but Miss Trotter hearing the report started instantly for Edinburgh, went to the bank, and ascertained the truth. She at once laid down five hundred pounds, telling them, "Ye maun not only stop proceedings, but ye maun keep him in the bank in some capacity, however mean, till I find some other employment for him." Then she fitted the lad out, and sent him to London, where she had a friend to whom she wrote, offering another five hundred pounds to any one who would procure him a situation abroad, in which he might gain an honest living, and never be trusted with money. After all this was settled, she went herself and communicated the facts to his mother.


Mrs. Bond, of Hackney.

About the year 1771 there died one of the four children of Bond, a jeweller, residing in an alley leading from Wellclose Square to Ratcliffe Highway. She left property, to be divided between Mrs. S. Bond, of Hackney, and a sister. The latter died in the year 1801, and left her property, amounting to about 6,000l., to her surviving sister, Sarah, who bought an annuity of 700l. By living in a most parsimonious manner she contrived to scrape together about 13,000l. three per cent., 1,000l. four percent., and 150l. per year Long Annuities.

In 1821 Mrs. Bond, who was of most eccentric habits, died at her residence, Cambridge Heath, Hackney, leaving, it was said, great wealth, which was to be paid to King George the Fourth, if no relative could be found to claim it. After her death, vestry and parish clerks, beadles, sextons, country schoolmasters, and persons holding any official situations about cathedral churches, &c.—in short, innumerable persons who had leisure or opportunity for such inquiry, set about searching for Mrs. Bond's pedigree; but all to no effect. Some ludicrous incidents, however, occurred in the neighbourhood of Mrs. Bond's residence, where persons arrived from various parts of the country to claim a relationship. Among the number a man and his son arrived from Sunderland, whence they had walked. He stated that his name was Bond; he was sure the deceased was his sister, and he would not quit London without the money. Upon investigation he could produce no other authority than being of the same name, and was, therefore, compelled to retrace his steps, almost penniless.

About a week afterwards, a decently-dressed elderly woman, named Bond, made her appearance. She had just arrived outside the coach from the environs of Carmarthen. Her story was that about fifty years previously (1771), her sister left her and proceeded to London to seek her fortune.[73] They had never corresponded, but from the name and description of the deceased, she had no doubt she was her sister, and the money accordingly belonged to her. It had cost her nearly all the money she could raise to come from Wales, fully satisfied of being amply repaid for her trouble, but she met with the same fate as the preceding applicant.

The next claimant was a sailor, who had just returned from the West Indies, where he had been moored, he said, thirty-five years. He had left in England two sisters named Bond: one was of very eccentric manners, particularly for her love of money; the sailor declared that he had frequently seen her make a meal off cat's meat. The above he considered sufficient proof of his relationship. He insisted upon entering a caveat against the claim of his Majesty, but acknowledging that the King appeared to be the legal claimant, he swore he would go and see his royal master, and ask him if he had any objection to share the money with him!

It would be tedious to enumerate the persons who put in their claims from various parts of the world; but the King's proctor stood first in the Prerogative Court, and nothing had transpired to affect his right in behalf of his Majesty.

The hut on Cambridge Heath wherein Mrs. Bond died was closed for some time; at length it was announced to be let; but such was the anxiety to get possession of it that the notice was removed. The number of applications were, doubtless, made under the impression that hoards of money were yet undiscovered in the hut.

The claimant most likely entitled to the property was a Mr. Bond, a butcher, in Shoreditch, who traced out that he was second cousin to the wealthy spinster, his grandfather having been the only brother of the father of Mrs. Bond; and the only bar to his administering was that he had not been able to ascertain the church where Mrs. Bond's father and mother were married, a most essential point to prove[74] the legitimacy of Mrs. Sarah Bond. There were no fewer than eight caveats against the administrator.

John Ward, the Hackney Miser.

In Church Street, Hackney, one of the most interesting of our suburban parishes for its antiquarian history, stands a mansion, which, though plain in itself, has long been traditionally conspicuous, from the infamous character of its founder. This was John Ward, a man who was so notorious for his readiness to take advantage of the foibles, the wants, and vices of his fellow-men, that it attracted the satirical acrimony of Pope, who, in his epistle to Allen, Lord Bathurst, On the Use of Riches, has placed him in a niche in the Temple of Obloquy, in company with a trio, who seem fit to descend with him to posterity, or rather to accompany him in the descent alluded to in the following lines:—

Like doctors thus, when much dispute has pass'd,
We find our tenets just the same at last;
Both fairly owning riches, in effect,
No grace of Heaven or token of the elect:
Given to the fool, the mad, the vain, the evil,
To Ward, to Waters, Chartres, and the Devil.

Of Ward's private history little is known. He is said to have been early in life employed in a floorcloth manufactory. The exact period when he built the house at Hackney is uncertain. He resided in it in the year 1727, at which time he sat in Parliament for Melcombe Regis. But having made a mistake with respect to a name in a deed in which the interest of the Duchess of Buckingham was implicated, he was prosecuted by her and convicted of forgery, was first expelled the House of Commons, and then stood in the pillory, on the 17th of March, 1727. As misfortune seldom comes alone, about this time Ward was suspected of joining in a conveyance with Sir John Blunt to secrete 50,000l. of that director's estate forfeited to the South Sea Company by[75] Act of Parliament. The Company recovered the 50,000l. against Ward, and by execution swept away the whole of the furniture and other effects in the mansion at Hackney. These being insufficient to cover even the costs, Ward sought to protect his other property, set up prior conveyances of his real estate to his brother and son, and concealing all his personal, which was computed to be 150,000l. Against these paper fortifications, a bill in Chancery, ten times as voluminous, and twenty times more zig-zag, was erected; a countermine of immense depth was sprung, and however ably his works were defended, they were at length carried. The conveyances were set aside, Ward was imprisoned, and hazarded the forfeiture of his life by not giving in his effects till the last day, which was that of his examination. During his confinement his amusement was to give poison to dogs and cats, and see them expire by slower or quicker torments!

In the Post-boy newspaper of the period we find these records of Ward's career:—In June, 1719, he recovered 300l. damages from one Thomas Dyche, a schoolmaster of Bow, for printing and publishing a libel upon Ward, reflecting upon the discharge of his trust about repairing Dagenham Breach. In May, 1726, he fled to France or Flanders. In June, 1731, he was indicted, with certain others, for wounding several officers of the Commissioners of Bankruptcy; and in September, 1732, he surrendered to the Commissioners, and was kept under examination at Guildhall from three o'clock that afternoon till three the next morning, when he was committed to the Fleet for further examination.

To sum up the wealth of Ward at the several eras of his life: at his standing in the pillory he was worth above 200,000l.; at his commitment to prison he was worth 150,000l., but became so far diminished in his reputation as to be thought a worse man by fifty or sixty thousand.

Among a variety of curious papers of Mr. Ward was[76] found the following extraordinary document, in his own handwriting, which may very appropriately be called The Miser's Prayer:—

"O Lord, Thou knowest that I have nine estates in the City of London, and likewise that I have lately purchased one estate in fee simple in the county of Essex; I beseech Thee to preserve the two counties of Middlesex and Essex from fire and earthquakes; and as I have a mortgage in Hertfordshire, I beg of Thee likewise to have an eye of compassion on that county; and for the rest of the counties Thou mayst deal with them as Thou art pleased. O Lord, enable the Bank to answer their bills, and make all my debtors good men. Give a prosperous voyage and return to the 'Mermaid' sloop, because I have insured it; and as Thou hast said the days of the wicked are but short, I trust in Thee that Thou wilt not forget Thy promise, as I have purchased an estate in reversion, which will be mine on the death of that profligate young man, Sir J. L. Keep my friends from sinking, and preserve me from thieves and housebreakers, and make all my servants so honest and faithful that they may attend to my interests, and never cheat me out of my property, night or day."

"Poor Man of Mutton."

This is a term applied to the remains of a shoulder of mutton, which, after it has done its regular duty as a roast at dinner, makes its appearance as a broiled bone at supper or upon the next day.

The late Earl of B., popularly known by the name of Old Rag, being indisposed at an hotel in London, the landlord came to enumerate the good things he had in his larder, hoping to prevail on his guest to eat something. The Earl, at length, starting suddenly from his couch, and throwing back a tartan nightgown, which had covered his singularly grim and ghastly face, replied to his host's[77] courtesy:—"Landlord, I think I could eat a morsel of a poor man." Boniface, surprised alike at the extreme ugliness of Lord B.'s countenance and the nature of the proposal, retreated from the room, and tumbled down-stairs precipitately, having no doubt that this barbaric chief when at home was in the habit of eating a joint of a tenant or vassal when his appetite was dainty.—Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary.

Lord Kenyon's Parsimony.

Lord Kenyon studied economy even in the hatchment put up over his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields after his death. The motto was certainly found to be "Mors janua vita"—this being at first supposed to be the mistake of the painter. But when it was mentioned to Lord Ellenborough, "Mistake!" exclaimed his lordship, "it is no mistake. The considerate testator left particular directions in his will that the estate should not be burdened with the expense of a diphthong!" Accordingly, he had the glory of dying very rich. After the loss of his eldest son, he said with great emotion to Mr. Justice Allan Park, who repeated the words soon after to the narrator:—"How delighted George would be to take his poor brother from the earth, and restore him to life, although he receives 250,000l. by his decease!"

Lord Kenyon occupied a large, gloomy house in Lincoln's Inn Fields: there is this traditional description of the mansion in his time—"All the year through it is Lent in the kitchen and Passion-week in the parlour." Some one having mentioned that, although the fire was very dull in the kitchen-grate, the spits were always bright,—"It is quite irrelevant," said Jekyll, "to talk about the spits, for nothing 'turns' upon them." * * He was curiously economical about the adornment of his head. It was observed for a number of years before he died, that he had two hats and two wigs—of the hats and the wigs one was dreadfully old and shabby, the[78] other comparatively spruce. He always carried into court with him the very old hat and the comparatively spruce wig, or the very old wig and the comparatively spruce hat. On the days of the very old hat and the comparatively spruce wig, he shoved his hat under the bench and displayed his wig; but on the days of the very old wig and the comparatively spruce hat, he always continued covered. He might often be seen sitting with his hat over his wig, but the Rule of Court by which he was governed on this point is doubtful.

Mary Moser, the Flower-Painter.

Mary Moser was the only daughter of George Michael Moser, R.A., goldchaser and enameller, and the first Keeper of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. His daughter was a very distinguished flower-painter, and was the only lady besides Angelica Kauffman who was ever elected an Academician: she became afterwards Mrs. Lloyd. Miss Moser, says Smith, in his Life of Nollekens, was somewhat precise, but was at times a most cheerful companion: he has printed three of her letters, two to Mrs. Lloyd, the wife of the gentleman to whom she herself was afterwards married; and the other to Fuseli, while in Rome, of whom she was said to have been an admirer. In one to the former, alluding to the absurd fashions of the beginning of the reign of George the Third, she says:—"Come to London and admire our plumes; we sweep the skies! a duchess wears six feathers, a lady four, and every milkmaid one at each corner of her cap. Fashion is grown a monster: pray tell your operator that your hair must measure three-quarters of a yard from the extremity of one wing to the other." The second letter is chiefly on Lord Chesterfield's Advice to his Son: she says to her friend, "If you have read Lord Chesterfield's Letters, give me your opinion of them, and what you think of his Lordship: for my part, I admire wit and adore good manners, but at the same time I should detest Lord Chesterfield, were[79] he alive, young, and handsome, and my lover, if I supposed, as I do now, his wit was the result of thought, and that he had been practising the graces in the looking-glass." In her letter to Fuseli, she gives this account of the Exhibition of the Royal Academy in the year 1770:—"Reynolds was like himself in pictures which you have seen; Gainsborough beyond himself in a portrait of a gentleman in a Vandyck habit; and Zoffany superior to everybody in a portrait of Garrick in the character of Abel Drugger, with two figures, Subtle and Face. Sir Joshua agreed to give a hundred guineas for the picture; Lord Carlisle had an hour after offered Reynolds twenty to part with it, which the Knight generously refused, resigned his intended purchase to the Lord, and the emolument to his brother artist. He is a gentleman! Angelica made a very great addition to the show, and Mr. Hamilton's picture of Briseis parting from Achilles was very much admired; the Briseis in taste, à l'antique, elegant and simple. Cotes, Dance, Wilson, &c., as usual."

Mary Moser decorated an entire room with flowers at Frogmore for Queen Charlotte, for which she received 900l.; the room was called Miss Moser's room. After her marriage, she practised only as an amateur; she died at an advanced age in 1819. When West was re-instated in the chair of the Royal Academy, in 1803, there was one voice for Mrs. Lloyd, and when Fuseli was taxed with having given it, he said, according to Knowles, his biographer, "Well, suppose I did; she is eligible to the office; and is not one old woman as good as another?" West and Fuseli were ill-according spirits.


An Old Maid on a Journey. The Eccentric Miss Banks.

An Old Maid on a Journey. The Eccentric Miss Banks.

The Eccentric Miss Banks.

Oddities of dress were half-a-century ago much oftener to be seen than in the present day; or, rather, their singularities were more grotesque than the peculiarities of the present day. John Thomas Smith, writing in 1818, says—"It is scarcely possible for any person possessing the smallest share of common observation to pass through the streets in London without noticing what is generally denominated a character, either in dress, walk, pursuits, or propensities."[81] At the head of his remarks on the eccentricity of some of their dresses he places Miss Sophia Banks, Sarah, the sister of Sir Joseph, who was looked after by the eye of astonishment wherever she went, and in whatever situation she appeared. Her dress was that of the Old School; her Barcelona quilted petticoat had a hole on either side for the convenience of rummaging two immense pockets, stuffed with books of all sizes. This petticoat was covered with a deep stomachered gown, sometimes obscuring the pocket-holes, similar to many of the ladies of Bunbury's time, which he has introduced into his prints. In this dress she might frequently be seen walking, followed by a six-foot servant with a cane almost as tall as himself. Miss Banks, for so that lady was called for many years, was frequently heard to relate the following curious anecdote of herself: after making repeated inquiries of the wall-vendors of halfpenny ballads for a particular one which she wanted, she was informed by the claret-faced woman who strung up her stock by Middlesex Hospital gates, that if she went to a printer's in Long Lane, Smithfield, probably he might supply her ladyship with what her ladyship wanted. Away trudged Miss Banks through Smithfield: but before she entered Mr. Thompson's shop, she desired her man to wait for her at the corner, by the plum-pudding stall. "Yes, we have it," was the printer's answer to her interrogative. He then gave Miss Banks what is called a book, consisting of many songs. Upon her expressing her surprise when the man returned her eightpence from her shilling, and the great quantity of songs he had given her, when she only wanted one—"What, then!" observed the man, "are you not one of our characters? I beg your pardon."

This lady and Lady Banks, out of compliment to Sir Joseph, who had been deeply engaged in the production of wool, had their riding-habits made of his produce, in which dresses the two ladies at one period on all occasions appeared. Indeed, so delighted was Miss Banks with this[82] overall covering, that she actually gave the habit-maker orders for three at a time, and they were called Hightum, Tightum, and Scrub. The first was her best, the second her second-best, and the third her every-day one.

Once when Miss Banks and her sister-in-law visited a friend with whom they were to stay several days, on the evening of their arrival they sat down to dinner in their riding-habits. Their friend had a large party after dinner to meet them, and they entered the drawing-room in their riding-habits. On the following morning they again appeared in their riding-habits; and so on, to the astonishment of every one, till the conclusion of their visit.

Although Miss Banks paid great attention to many persons, there were others to whom she was wanting in civility. A great genius, who had arrived a quarter-of-an-hour before the time specified on the card for dinner, was shown into the drawing-room, where Miss Banks was putting away what are sometimes called rattletraps. When the visitor observed, "It is a fine day, ma'am," she replied, "I know nothing at all about it. You must speak to my brother upon that subject when you are at dinner." Notwithstanding the very singular appearance of Miss Banks, she was, when in the prime of life, a fashionable whip, and drove four-in-hand. Miss Banks died in 1818.

Thomas Cooke, the Miser of Pentonville.

At No. 16, Winchester Place, now No. 64, Pentonville Road, lived, for a period of fifteen years, Thomas Cooke, a notorious miser, who heaped up wealth by the most ungenerous means and servility of behaviour:

Gold banished honour from his mind,
And only left the name behind.

He was born about 1725 or 1726, at Clewer, near Windsor, and was the son of an itinerant fiddler. He was[83] left to the care of a grandmother, who resided at Swannington, near Norwich. He obtained employment in a factory, where the leading trait of his character manifested itself. His companions in labour clubbed a portion of their week's earnings to form a mess. This Cooke declined, and determined to live more cheaply; and when others went to dine, he went to the side of a neighbouring brook, and made breakfast and dinner one meal, which consisted of a halfpenny loaf, an apple, and a draught of water from the brook, taken up on the brim of his cap. His economy so far seems to have been judicious, as it enabled him to pay a boy who was an usher in the village school to instruct him in the rudiments of education.

When he arrived at manhood, he obtained employment as porter to a drysalter and paper-maker at Norwich; he was next made a journeyman, with increased wages. He then, through his master, got an appointment in the Excise, in a district near London; and his master also gave him a letter of introduction to a sugar-baker in the metropolis. After a tedious journey by waggon, he reached London, with only eight shillings in his pocket. There was some delay and expense before he could act as an exciseman, and his immediate necessities compelled him to take the situation of porter to the sugar-baker. He then became a journeyman, and by his parsimonious habits saved money enough to pay the preliminary expenses, and was enabled to assume the office to which he had so long aspired.

He was then appointed to inspect a paper-mill at Tottenham, where he closely watched a new process in paper-making. During Cooke's official visits to this mill the owner died, and his widow resolved to carry on the business with the aid of a foreman. Cooke had noted here many infractions of the law, which, designedly or otherwise, were daily taking place; and having summed up the penalties incurred thereby, which he set off against the value of the concern, he privately informed the widow that he had complained[84] of these malpractices, and told her that if the fines were levied, they would amount to double the value of the property she possessed, and reduce her to want and imprisonment. This he followed up by an overture of marriage, and assured the lady that he only knew of the frauds of her establishment. The widow consented to become his wife when the appointed days of mourning for her first husband had expired. To this Cooke agreed, but lest she might prove fickle, he required of her a promise in writing. On his marriage, Cooke became possessed of her property, which was considerable, together with the lease of the mills at Tottenham.

He next purchased a large sugar-baker's business in Puddle Dock. His parsimony now became extreme: he kept no table, but obtained the greater part of his daily food by well-timed visits to persons of his acquaintance. He had good conversational powers, and these he usually turned to his profit. Sometimes, when walking the streets, he fell down in a pretended fit, opposite to the house of one whose bounty he sought. No humane person could well refuse admission to a man in apparent distress and of respectable appearance, whose well-powdered wig and long ruffles induced a belief that he was some decayed citizen who had seen better days. For the assistance thus kindly given he would express his gratitude in the most energetic manner. He would ask for a glass of water, but if wine was offered, he said, "No, he never drank anything but water;" but when pressed by his kind host, would take it, and exclaim, "God bless my soul, sir, this is very excellent wine! Pray, sir, who is your wine merchant? for indeed, to tell you the truth, it was the difficulty of getting good wine that caused me to leave it off entirely." Upon invitation, he would take another glass, and thanking his host, depart. A few days after, he would call at the house of his kind entertainer just at dinner-time, professedly to thank him for having saved his life, and on being invited to dine would at first demur,[85] urging that "My gruel is waiting for me at home." On sitting down to dinner he would take notice of the children; and after great pretended kindness, would say to the mother, "God bless them, pretty dears. Pray, madam, will you have the goodness to give me all their names in writing?" Thus artfully did he contrive to make his kind entertainers think that he designed to do some good thing for their children; and they now sought the continuance of his friendship by occasional presents of game or a dozen or two of the wine he had so much approved.

Many persons were in this way made the victims of Cooke's sophistries. By these gifts, his housekeeping expenses were reduced to fifteen-pence a day, and it was sinful extravagance if they reached two shillings. Such comestibles as he could not consume, he disposed of to the dealers and others. He drank only water, but as for the "gormandizing, gluttonous maids, they could not drink, not they, what he did; nothing would serve them but table-beer." This he kept in his front parlour, with a lock-tap to it, of which he held the key, and at meal-times he drew exactly half-a-pint for each woman.

With all his rigid economy, Cook found, to his great grief, that by his sugar-bakery he had lost 500l. in twelve months. To amend this state of affairs, and to discover some of the secrets of the trade, he invited several sugar-bakers to dine with him, and plying them well with wine, wheedled out of the persons in business the coveted information. His wife was alarmed at this seeming extravagance, but he silenced her scruples by telling her he would "suck as much of the brains" of some of the fools as would amply repay them.

Having retired from business, he resided for a time at the Angel Inn, Islington, from whence he removed to Winchester Place. The plot of garden-ground in the rear he sowed with cabbage-seed, and with his own hands manured it. To obtain the manure, he would, on moonlight[86] nights, go out with a shovel and basket and take up the horse-dung which lay in the City Road. This scheming obtained for him the name of "Cabbage Cooke."

The only luxury he allowed his wife was a small quantity of table-beer; and by his general mal-treatment he caused her so much grief that she died of a broken heart. Soon after his wife's death, he paid his addresses to several rich widows, but none would listen to his suit, especially as he desired all their property should be made over to him.

Cooke was fond of horse-racing, and contrived to be present at Epsom races at the expense of some of his acquaintances. He once had a horse; but finding it too expensive to keep at livery, for this purpose he converted the kitchen of his house into a stable, and he used to curry and fodder the horse with his own hands.

During his fifteen years' residence in Winchester Place, he never once painted the house inside or outside, nor would he allow the landlord to paint it. He was then served with legal notice to quit; this he disregarded. At last he so implored the landlord not to turn him into the street, that he consented to allow him time to provide himself with a house, and this in presence of an associate whom he brought purposely in the room. The landlord then had him served with an ejectment; but upon the case being brought to trial, Cooke brought forward in evidence the witness to the promise of the landlord, who was accordingly nonsuited. The landlord, however, brought another action, in which he succeeded; and Cooke removed to No. 85, White Lion Street, Pentonville.

Sickness and old age now compelled Cooke to seek medical advice, when he obtained, by some artifice, a patient's dispensary letter; but his cheat was discovered. Cooke's principle was, "No cure, no pay;" and when a physician, to whom he had been very troublesome, told him he could do nothing more for him, he said, "Then give me[87] back my money, sir. Why did you rob me of my money, unless you meant to cure me?" Yet Cooke was a professing Christian, and a regular attendant at the ordinances of religion, and he seldom failed to receive the sacrament. He died August 26th, 1811, at the age of eighty-six, and was buried on the 30th at St. Mary's, Islington. Some of the mob threw cabbage-stalks on his coffin as it was lowered into the grave.

The wealth that Cooke had amassed during his long life-time, by meanness, artifice, and pretended poverty, amounted to the large sum of 127,205l. in the Three per cent. Consols. During his lifetime his charities were but few. But, as if to atone for a life of avarice, he left by will the bulk of his riches to several charitable societies, and a few trifling legacies to individuals.

Thomas Cooke, the Turkey Merchant.

This eccentric gentleman was resident at Constantinople as a merchant at the time Charles XII. of Sweden was in Turkey, in 1714, and contributed in a very munificent manner to the relief of the royal prisoner. Mr. Cooke well knew the Divan wished to get rid of the king, their prisoner, who always pleaded poverty and inability to pay his debts; and they having lent him money, were afraid to lend him any more. He, however, devised a scheme to assist him, and applied to the Lord High Treasurer, who heard the proposal with great satisfaction, but was surprised to be told, "Your excellency must find the money." To this he answered, by a very natural question, "How will you ever pay us?" Mr. Cooke replied, they were building a mosque, and would stand in need of lead to cover it, which he would engage to supply. Next morning the proposal was accepted, and the arrangements concluded.

Mr. Cooke then treated with the King of Sweden, and offered him a certain sum of money upon condition of[88] being repaid in copper, the exportation of which from Sweden had been for some time prohibited, at a stipulated price. The offer was accepted, and the money paid to the king by the hands of La Mortraye, the well-known author of several volumes of Travels; and Mr. Cooke received an order upon the states of Sweden to be paid in copper, which he sold to a house in that kingdom, at an advance of 12,000l. sterling upon the first cost, besides the profit he obtained upon the sale of his lead. The money lent was not sufficient for the king's liberation; he stayed in Turkey till he had nothing left but a knife and fork. Upon hearing of the king's situation, Mr. Cooke one day surprised him with a present of his whole sideboard of plate; and for this conduct towards their sovereign his name was idolized by the Swedes.

Mr. Cooke was for many years in the commission of the peace for the county of Middlesex, and was three years governor of the Bank of England. He was a man of singular character, very shrewd, but highly esteemed, particularly for his unbounded munificence. Having made his will, whereby he had bequeathed 1,000l. to the clerks of the Bank, he resolved on being his own executor, and to give them the money in his lifetime. Accordingly, in the month of February, preceding his death, he sent a note of 1,000l. to the governor of the Bank, requesting that it might be distributed among the clerks, in the proportion of one guinea for every year that each person had been in their service, and the remaining 3l. to the porters.

Mr. Cooke died at Stoke Newington, 12th of August, 1752, aged eighty. By his own directions he was attended to the grave by twelve poor housekeepers belonging to a box-club at Stoke Newington, of which he had long been a generous and useful member. To each man he bequeathed a guinea and a suit of clothes, and as much victuals and drink as he chose; but if either of the legatees got fuddled he was to forfeit his legacy, and was only to receive half-a-crown[89] for his day's work. Mr. Cooke's corpse was wrapped in a clean blanket, sewed up, and, being put into a common coffin, was conveyed, with the above attendants, in three coaches, to the grave close to a stile, near Sir John Morden's College, on Blackheath, of which he was a trustee. The corpse was then taken out of the coffin, which was left in the college for the first pensioner it would fit, and buried in a winding-sheet upright in the ground, according to the Eastern custom.

Cooke's widow maintained the same benevolent character with himself, and died at Stoke Newington, January 15th, 1763. They had issue two daughters, both of whom died before their father.

"Lady Lewson," of Clerkenwell.

In Cold Bath Square, for the space of ninety years, lived Mrs. Lewson, commonly called "Lady Lewson," from her very eccentric manner of dress. She was born in the year 1700, in the reign of William and Mary, in Essex Street, Strand, of respectable parents named Vaughan; and she was married at an early age to Mr. Lewson, a wealthy gentleman, then living in Cold Bath Square, in the house wherein she subsequently continued to reside. She became a widow at the age of twenty-six, having only one daughter living at the time. She was left by her husband in affluent circumstances; she preferred to continue single, and remained so, although she had many suitors. When her daughter married, Mrs. Lewson was left alone, and being of retired habits, she rarely went out, or permitted the visits of any person. During the last thirty years of her life, she kept only one servant, an old woman, who died after a servitude of twenty years: she was succeeded by her grand-daughter, who marrying, was replaced by an old man, who attended the different houses in the Square to go of errands, clean shoes, &c. "Lady Lewson" took this man into her[90] house, and he acted as her steward, butler, cook, and housemaid; and with the exception of two old lapdogs and a cat, was her only companion.

The house in which she lived was large and elegantly furnished; the beds were kept constantly made, although they had not been slept in for about thirty years. Her apartment was only occasionally swept out, and never washed; and the windows were so encrusted with dirt, that they hardly admitted a ray of light. She used to tell her acquaintances that if the rooms were washed, it might be the occasion of her catching cold; and as to cleaning the windows, many accidents happened through that ridiculous practice—the glass might be broken, the person who cleaned them might be injured, and the expense would fall upon her. There was a large garden in the rear of the house, which she kept in good order; and here, when the weather was fine, she sometimes sat and read, or chatted of times past with such of her acquaintances as she could be persuaded to admit. She seldom visited, except at the house of a grocer in Cold Bath Square, with whom she dealt. She had survived many years every relative, and was thus left to indulge her odd tastes.

She was so partial to the fashions that prevailed in her youthful days, that she never changed the manner of her dress from that worn in the time of George I., being always decorated

With ruffs, and cuffs, and fardingales.

She always wore powder, with a large tache, made of horsehair, upon her head, over which the hair was turned, and she placed the cap, which was tied under her chin, and three or four rows of curls hung down her neck. She generally wore a silk dress, with a long train, a deep flounce all round, and a very long waist; her gown was very tightly laced up to her neck, round which was a ruff or frill; the sleeves came down below the elbows, and to each of them four or five large cuffs were attached; a large bonnet, quite[91] flat, high-heeled shoes, a large black silk cloak trimmed with lace, and a gold-headed cane, completed her every-day costume for eighty years; in which dress she occasionally walked round the Square. She never washed herself, because she thought those persons who did so were always taking cold, or engendering some dreadful disorder; her method was to besmear her face and neck all over with hog's-lard, because that was soft and lubricating; and because she wanted a little colour on her cheeks, she bedaubed them with rose-pink. Her manner of living was very methodical: she would only drink tea out of one cup, and always sat in her favourite chair. She enjoyed good health, and entertained the greatest aversion to medicine. At the age of eighty-three, she cut two new teeth, and she was never troubled with tooth-ache. She lived in five reigns, and had the events of the year 1715 (the Scottish Rebellion) fresh in her recollection.

The sudden death of an old lady who was a neighbour made a deep impression on Mrs. Lewson; believing her own time had come, she became weak, took to her bed, refused medical aid, and on Tuesday, the 28th of May, 1816, died at her house in Cold Bath Square, at the age of 116; she was interred in Bunhill Fields burying-ground. "At her death," says Mr. Warner, in his MS. Notes on Clerkenwell, "I went over the house, and was struck with astonishment at the number of bars, bolts, &c., to the whole of the doors and windows; the ceilings of the upper floor were completely lined with strong boards, braced together with iron bars, to prevent any one getting into the house from the roof. The ashes had not been removed for many years; they were neatly piled up, as if formed into beds for some particular purpose, around the yard. Her furniture, &c., were sold by auction, and persons were admitted to view by producing a catalogue, which was sold at sixpence, and would permit any number of persons at one time."[10]


Profits of Dust-sifting, and Dust-heaps.

Many years ago a dust-sifter, named Mary Collins, residing in Bell Street, Lisson Grove, was robbed by a nurse, when her evidence before the police magistrate was remarkable for the extraordinary disclosures it incidentally afforded of the large profits obtained from the apparently humble vocation of dust-sifting. The articles stolen were in a pocket, and were thus described: one coral necklace, large beads; one ditto, with pearl clasp; several handsome brooches; five gold seals; some gold rings; several gold shirt-pins; a quantity of loose beads; broken bits of gold and silver, &c. Mr. Rawlinson, the magistrate, expressed his surprise at her having such a motley assortment of valuables. Complainant: Your worship, we find them amongst the dust.—Mr. Rawlinson: Indeed! what, all these articles?—Complainant: Oh, your worship, that's nothing; we find many more things than them: we find almost every small article that can be mentioned. We are employed by the dust contractor, who allows us 8d. per load for sifting, besides which we have all the spoons and other articles which we may find amongst the dust.—Mr. Rawlinson: That is dustman's law, I suppose: but pray how many silver spoons may you find in the course of the year?—Complainant: It is impossible to say: sometimes more and sometimes less.

Mr. Rawlinson declared that what she had just related was quite novel to him. The urbane manner of the worthy magistrate won upon the old lady and made her quite communicative. She had followed her occupation eight years, and what with the "perquisites" (id est, articles found), and the savings from "hard labour," she had realized sufficient money to think about house-building, and had then a house erecting which she expected would cost her at least 300l. She had deposited 100l. in the hands of her employer, in part payment, and as a proof that all was not vaunting, she[93] produced her box, in which were thirty-nine sovereigns, two five-pound bank-notes, and several guineas and half-sovereigns.

Early in the present century, the spot of ground on which now stands Argyle Street, Liverpool Street, Manchester Street, and the corner of Gray's Inn Road, was covered with a mountain of filth and cinders, the accumulation of many years, and which afforded food for hundreds of pigs. The Russians bought the whole of the ash-heap, and shipped it to Moscow, to be used in rebuilding that city after it had been burned by the French. The Battle-bridge dustmen had a certain celebrity in their day. The ground on which the dust-heap stood was sold in 1826 to the Pandemonium Company for fifteen thousand pounds; they walled in the whole, and built a theatre, which now remains at the corner of Liverpool Street. The Company's scheme was, however, abandoned, and the ground was let on building leases. The heap is mentioned in the burlesque song, Adam Bell, the Literary Dustman:[11]

You recollect the cinder heap,
Vot stood in Gray's Inn Lane, sirs?

When the street now called the Caledonian Road was in the fields, there was at the Battle-bridge end of the road a large accumulation of horse-bones, which were stored there by some horse-slaughterers. And in 1833, Battle-bridge was described in the New Monthly Magazine as "the grand centre of dustmen, scavengers, horse and dog dealers, knackermen, brickmakers, and other low but necessary professionalists." The dust-heap is described as "that sublime, sifted wonder of cockneys, the cloud-kissing dust-heap which sold for twenty thousand pounds;" but this is doubtful.

Mr. T. C. Noble has communicated to Pinks's History of[94] Clerkenwell the following particulars of the Dust and Cinder Heap, &c.—"The estate at Battle-bridge comprised from seventeen to twenty acres. Of this my grandfather took sixteen small dilapidated houses, and the dust and cinder heap, which, it was said, had been existing on the spot since the Great Fire of London. He gave about 500l. for the lot, although the parties wanted 800l. Bricks were then very scarce, so he very soon realized a good sum for the old buildings, while Russia, hearing in some way of this enormous dust-heap, purchased it for purposes in rebuilding Moscow. The site of the mountain of dust is now covered by the houses of Derby Street, and I may add, the names of the thoroughfares erected on this estate were derived from the popular ministers of that day. The rental derived from the property by my grandfather exceeded 1,000l. a year."

John Thomas Smith gives the following notes upon oddities of the above class:—"Within my time many men have indulged most ridiculously in their eccentricities. I have known one who had made a pretty large fortune in business get up at four o'clock in the morning and walk the streets to pick up horse-shoes which had been slipped in the course of the night, with no other motive than to see how many he could accumulate in the course of a year. I also remember a rich soap-boiler who never missed an opportunity of pocketing nails, pieces of iron hoops, and bits of leather in his daily walks; and these he would spread upon a large walnut-tree three-flapped dining-table, with a similar view to that of the horse-shoe collector. This wealthy citizen would often put on a red woollen cap and a waggoner's frock, in order to stoke his own furnace; after which he would dress, get into his coach, and, attended by tall servants in bright blue liveries, drive to his villa, where his hungry friends were waiting his arrival."


Sir John Dinely, Bart.

This eccentric baronet, of the family of the Dinelys, of Charlton, descended by the female line from the Royal House of Plantagenet, having dissipated the wreck of the family estates, obtained the pension and situation of a poor knight of Windsor. His chief occupation consisted in advertising for a wife, and nearly thirty years were passed in assignations to meet the fair respondents to his advertisements. His figure was truly grotesque: in wet weather he was mounted on a high pair of pattens; he wore the coat of the Windsor uniform, with a velvet embroidered waistcoat, satin breeches, silk stockings, and a full-bottomed wig. In this finery he might be seen strolling one day; and next out marketing, carrying a penny loaf, a morsel of butter, a quartern of sugar, and a farthing candle. Twice or thrice a year he came to London, and visited Vauxhall Gardens and the theatres. His fortune, if he could recover it, he estimated at 300,000l. He invited the widow as well as the blooming maiden of sixteen, and addressed them in printed documents, bearing his signature, in which he specified the sum the ladies must possess; he expected less property with youth than age or widowhood; adding that few ladies would be eligible that did not possess at least 10,000l. a year, which, however, was nothing compared to the honour his high birth and noble descent would confer; the incredulous he referred to Nash's Worcestershire. He addressed his advertisements to "the angelic fair" from his house in Windsor Castle (one of the poor knight's houses). He cherished to the last the expectation of forming a connubial connection with some lady of property, but, alas! he died a bachelor in 1808.[12]


A well-known character on 'Change. Rothschild.

A well-known character on 'Change. Rothschild.

The Rothschilds.

In the Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, edited by his son, we find this amusing letter, dated 1834: "We yesterday dined at Ham House, to meet the Rothschilds; and very amusing it was. He (Rothschild) told us his life and adventures. He was the third son of the banker at[97] Frankfort. 'There was not,' he said, 'room enough for us all in that city. I dealt in English goods. One great trader came there, who had the market to himself; he was quite the great man, and did us a favour if he sold us goods. Somehow I offended him, and he refused to show me his patterns. This was on a Tuesday; I said to my father, "I will go to England." I could speak nothing but German. On the Thursday I started. The nearer I got to England, the cheaper goods were. As soon as I got to Manchester, I laid out all my money, things were so cheap; and I made good profit. I soon found that there were three profits—the raw material, the dyeing, and the manufacturing. I said to the manufacturer, "I will supply you with material and dye, and you supply me with manufactured goods." So I got three profits instead of one, and I could sell goods cheaper than anybody. In a short time I made my 20,000l. into 60,000l. My success all turned on one maxim. I said, I can do what another man can, and so I am a match for the man with the patterns, and for all the rest of them! Another advantage I had. I was an off-hand man. I made a bargain at once. When I was settled in London, the East India Company had 800,000 ounces of gold to sell. I went to the sale, and bought it all. I knew the Duke of Wellington must have it. I had bought a great many of his bills at a discount. The Government sent for me, and said they must have it. When they had got it, they did not know how to get it to Portugal. I undertook all that, and I sent it through France; and that was the best business I ever did.'

"Another maxim, on which he seemed to place great reliance, was, never to have anything to do with an unlucky place or an unlucky man. 'I have seen,' said he, 'many clever men, very clever men, who had not shoes to their feet. I never act with them. Their advice sounds very well; but fate is against them; they cannot get on themselves; and if they cannot do good to themselves, how can they do good to me?' By aid of these maxims he has acquired three[98] millions of money. 'I hope,' said ——, 'that your children are not too fond of money and business, to the exclusion of more important things. I am sure you would not wish that.'—Rothschild: 'I am sure I should wish that. I wish them to give mind, and soul, and heart, and body, and everything to business; that is the way to be happy. It requires a great deal of boldness and a great deal of caution to make a great fortune; and when you have got it, it requires ten times as much wit to keep it. If I were to listen to all the projects proposed to me, I should ruin myself very soon. Stick to one business, young man,' said he to Edward; 'stick to your brewery, and you may be the great brewer of London. Be a brewer, and a banker, and a merchant, and a manufacturer, and you will soon be in the Gazette.

"'One of my neighbours is a very ill-tempered man; he tries to vex me, and has built a great place for swine close to my walk. So, when I go out, I hear, first grunt, grunt, squeak, squeak; but this does me no harm. I am always in good humour. Sometimes to amuse myself I give a beggar a guinea. He thinks it is a mistake, and for fear I should find it out, off he runs as hard as he can. I advise you to give a beggar a guinea sometimes, it is very amusing.' The daughters are very pleasing. The second son is a mighty hunter, and his father lets him buy any horses he likes. He lately applied to the Emperor of Morocco for a first-rate Arab horse. The Emperor sent him a magnificent one; but he died as he landed in England. The poor youth said very feelingly, 'that was the greatest misfortune he ever had suffered;' and I felt strong sympathy with him. I forgot to say, that soon after Mr. Rothschild came to England, Bonaparte invaded Germany. 'The Prince of Hesse Cassel,' said Rothschild, 'gave my father his money; there was no time to be lost; he sent it to me. I had 600,000l. arrive unexpectedly by the post; and I put it to such good use, that the Prince made me a present of all his wine and his linen.'"


A Legacy of Half a Million of Money.

On the 30th of August, 1852, there died at Chelsea John Camden Neild, a wealthy gentleman, who had bequeathed an immense legacy to Queen Victoria. His father was a native of Knutsford, in Cheshire; as a goldsmith in London he made a large fortune. He was a truly benevolent man, especially in his efforts for the improvement of prisons, and originated the Society for the Relief of Persons imprisoned for Small Debts. He married the daughter of John Camden, Esq., of Battersea, in Surrey, a direct descendant of the great antiquary of the same name. He died in 1814, and was buried at Chelsea.

John Camden Neild, the only surviving son of the above, was born in 1780; educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, studied at Lincoln's Inn, and in 1808 was called to the bar. In 1814 he succeeded to the whole of his father's property, estimated at 250,000l.; but he made a very different use of his wealth. Avarice was his ruling passion; he became a confirmed miser, and for the last thirty years of his life gave himself over to heaping up riches. He lived in a large but meanly furnished house in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea; and he slept on a bare board, and latterly on an old stump bedstead, on which he died. His favourite companion was a large black cat, which was in his chamber when he breathed his last.

He had considerable property at North Marston, in Buckinghamshire, and here he often stayed for days together, besides his half-yearly visits to receive rents. As lessee of the rectory, it was incumbent on him to repair the chancel of the church; the leaded roof having become full of fissures, he had them covered with strips of painted calico, saying they would "last his time." During this odd repair, he sat all day on the roof, to keep the workmen employed and even ate his dinner there, which consisted of hard-boiled eggs, dry bread, and buttermilk.


His dress was an old-fashioned swallow-tailed coat, brown trousers, short gaiters, and shoes which were generally patched and down at the heels. His stockings and linen were generally full of holes; but when he stayed a night at a tenant's, the mistress often mended them while he was in bed. He was short and punchy in figure, scarcely above five feet in height, with a large round and short neck. He always carried an old green cotton umbrella, but never wore a great coat, which he considered too extravagant for his slender means. He travelled outside a coach, where his fellow-travellers took him for a decayed gentleman in extreme poverty. Once, when visiting his Kentish property on a bitterly cold day, the coach stopped at Farningham, where the other passengers subscribed for a glass of brandy-and-water, which they sent to the poor gentleman, in pity for their thinly-clad companion who still sat on the coach-roof, while they were by the inn fireside.

He often took long journeys on foot, when he would avail himself of any proffered "lift," and he was even known to sit on a load of coal, to enable him to proceed a little further without expense; yet he would give the driver a penny or two for the accommodation; for, miser as he was, he never liked to receive anything without paying for it—however small the scale; nor would he partake of any meal or refreshment when asked by the clergymen of the parishes where his estates lay. Yet with tenants of a lower grade he would share the coarse meals and lodging of the family. At North Marston he used to reside with the tenant on the rectory farm; while staying here, about 1828, he attempted to cut his throat, but his life was saved chiefly by the prompt assistance of the tenant's wife. This attempt was supposed to have been caused by a sudden fall in the funds, in which he had just made a large investment.

Sometimes he would eat his dinner at a tenant's, where he would beg a basin of milk, and buy three eggs for a penny, get them hard-boiled, and eat two for his dinner, with[101] another basin of milk; the third egg he would save for next morning's breakfast. He used to examine minutely the nature of his land, and keep an account of the number of trees on his estates: he had been known to walk from twelve to fifteen miles to count only a few trees.

Mr. Neild's general answer to all applications for charitable contributions was a refusal; in some instances it was otherwise. He once, but only once, gave a pound for the Sunday-school at North Marston; he promised 300l. towards building an infirmary for Buckinghamshire, but withheld it from an objection to the site.

Mr. Neild was not, as stated at the time of his death, "a frigid, spiritless specimen of humanity," for he possessed considerable knowledge in legal and general literature and the classics. Nor did he entirely pass over merit. Finding the son of one of his tenants to possess strong natural abilities, he paid wholly or in part the expenses of his school and college education. This person is now a distinguished scholar and a dignitary of the Church of England.

Mr. Neild was buried on the 16th of September, according to his own desire, in the chancel of North Marston Church. His will then necessarily came to light, and great was the sensation which it occasioned. After bequeathing a few trifling legacies to different persons, he left the whole of his vast property, estimated at 500,000l., to "Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, begging Her Majesty's most gracious acceptance of the same for her sole use and benefit, and her heirs, &c." To each of his three executors he bequeathed 100l. The will had excited such curiosity, that, though his life had passed almost unnoticed, a large concourse of persons assembled at Chelsea to witness the removal of his body, and the church and churchyard at North Marston were crowded with wondering—not lamenting—spectators. Among his tenants, workmen, and the poor of the parish where he possessed so much property, not a[102] tear was shed, not a regret uttered, as his body was committed to its last resting-place. The only remark heard was, "Poor creature! had he known so much would have been spent on his funeral, he would have come down here to die to save the expense!"

Two caveats were entered against his will, but were subsequently withdrawn, and the Queen was left to take undisputed possession of his property. Her Majesty immediately increased Mr. Neild's bequest to his three executors to 1,000l. each; she provided for his old housekeeper, to whom he had made no bequest, though she had lived with him six-and-twenty years; and she secured an annuity to the woman who had frustrated Mr. Neild's attempt at suicide.

Her Majesty, in 1855, had restored the chancel of North Marston Church, and inserted an east window of beautifully stained glass, beneath which is a reredos with this inscription: "This Reredos and the Stained Glass Window were erected by Her Majesty Queen Victoria (D.G.B.R.F.D.), in the eighteenth year of her reign, in memory of John Camden Neild, Esq., of this parish, who died August 30th, 1852, aged 72."[13]

This man of wealth must not be confounded with the Mr. Neeld who came into possession of great wealth on the demise of his uncle, Philip Rundell, the wealthy goldsmith of Ludgate Hill. He died in 1827, at the age of eighty-one; and, according to the Gentleman's Magazine, "had never married, and never kept an establishment, but lived much with one niece at Brompton, and another, the wife of John Bannister, the eminent comedian." The eldest son of the latter, on coming of age, was invited to breakfast with Mr. Rundell, who placed in the young man's hands at parting a sealed letter, which he was not to open till he reached home. It was then found to contain a bequest of 10,000l., payable[103] on the death of the donor, and of his own marriage. This incident was related to Mr. Britton by Mr. Bannister, who also indulged him by repeating two songs which he had written and sung at Mr. Rundell's, on two birthdays of the aged goldsmith. Bannister also inherited 5,000l. for his own life, and then to devolve to his daughter; and his son had an additional legacy from Mr. Rundell. Numerous other large sums of money were bequeathed to other relatives, friends, and public foundations; but the most important item in the will is the residuary clause, whereby the testator "gives to his esteemed friend, Joseph Neeld, the younger, all the rest of his real and mixed estate, which," says the magazine, "it is computed will amount to not less than 890,000l. The personal effects were sworn at upwards of 1,000,000l., the utmost limit to which the scale of the probate duty extends."

Eccentricities of the Earl of Bridgewater.

Forty years since there lived in Paris the Rev. Francis Henry Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater, of whom we find this probably overcharged but curious account in a Parisian journal of the year 1826; than his lordship no one has a higher claim to a distinguished place in the history of human oddities:—"Those who have once seen—nay, those who have never seen this meagre personage drag himself along, supported by two huge lacqueys, with his sugar-loaf hat, slouched down over his eyes, cannot fail to recognize him. An immense fortune enables him to gratify the most extravagant caprices that ever passed through the head of a rich Englishman. If he be lent a book, he carries his politeness so far as to send it back, or rather have it conveyed home, in a carriage. He gives orders that two of his most stately steeds be caparisoned under one of his chariots, and the volume, reclining at ease in milord's landau, arrives, attended by four footmen in costly livery, at the door of its[104] astounded owner. His carriage is frequently to be seen filled with his dogs. He bestows great care on the feet of these dogs, and orders them boots, for which he pays as dearly as for his own. Lord Bridgewater's custom is an excellent one for the boot-maker; for, besides the four feet of each of his dogs, the supply of his own two feet must give constant employment to several operatives. He puts on a new pair of boots every day, carefully preserving those he has once worn, and ranging them in order; he commands that none shall touch them, but takes himself great pleasure in observing how much of the year has each day passed, by the state of his boots."

"Lord Egerton is a man of few acquaintance, and very few of his countrymen have got as far as his dining-hall. His table, however, is constantly set out with a dozen covers, and served by suitable attendants. Who, then, are his privileged guests? No less than a dozen of his favourite dogs, who daily partake of milord's dinner, seated very gravely in arm-chairs, each with a napkin round his neck, and a servant behind to attend to his wants. These honourable quadrupeds, as if grateful for such delicate attentions, comport themselves during the time of repast with a decency and decorum which would do more than honour to a party of gentlemen; but if, by any chance, one of them should, without due consideration, obey the natural instinct of his appetite, and transgress any of the rules of good manners, his punishment is at hand. The day following the offence the dog dines, and even dines well; but not at milord's table; banished to the ante-chamber, and dressed in livery, he eats in sorrow the bread of shame, and picks the bone of mortification, while his place at table remains vacant till his repentance has merited a generous pardon!"

This eccentric nobleman died in February, 1829, and by his will, dated February 25th, 1825, bequeathed 8,000l. for the writing, printing, and publishing of the well-known Bridgewater Treatises.


The Denisons, and the Conyngham Family.

The history of the Denison family, the last representative of which died in 1849, leaving a fortune of more than two millions and a half, affords a lesson which the mercantile world cannot study too curiously. Somewhat more than one hundred and twenty years ago, the elder Denison made his way on foot to London from Skipton-in-Craven, his native place, with a few shillings in his pocket, and, being a parish-boy, not knowing even how to read or write. Another account states that he was a woollen-cloth-merchant at Leeds, and came to London in a waggon, being attended on his departure by his friends, who took a solemn leave of him, as the distance was then thought so great that they might never see him again. He was recommended by a townswoman of his own (of the name of Sykes, whom he afterwards married) to the house of Dillon and Co., where she was herself a domestic servant; and for some time the lad was employed to sweep the shop and go on errands. His zeal and industry recommended him, however, to his employers, and having been taught to read, he rose to a clerkship. After the death of his wife he obtained an independence by marrying one Elizabeth Butler, daughter of a rich hatter in Tooley Street, and set up in business for himself in Princes Street, Lothbury, where by incessant attention to business and strict parsimony, he managed to scrape together a considerable fortune. He finally removed to St. Mary Axe, where he lived and died, after having purchased the estates in Surrey and Yorkshire (of Lord King and the Duke of Leeds), Denbies and Seamere; by joining the Heywoods, eminent bankers of Liverpool, his wealth rapidly increased. The Annual Register of 1806, in recording these facts and his end, states that through life Mr. Denison was a dissenter: he remained to the last an illiterate man.

By his second wife he had one son and two daughters.[106] The son, William Joseph, a man of sound principle and excellent character, though less penurious than his father, who, when he entertained a friend at dinner in St. Mary Axe, used to walk to the butcher's and bring home a rump-steak in a cabbage-leaf in his pocket, was remarkable for his disinclination to detach even the smallest sum from his enormous capital. Thus, when the nephew to whom he bequeathed 85,000l. per annum, fell into railway difficulties (the speculation having been undertaken with the sanction of his uncle), he permitted him, to avoid legal proceedings, to withdraw to Boulogne-sur-Mer, and reside there a twelvemonth with his young family, rather than pay for him the sum of 2,000l.

Mr. Denison, the father, died in 1806; his son, succeeding to the banking business (the firm being now Denison, Heywood, and Kennard), continued to accumulate; and at his death, in 1849, he left two millions and a half of money. He had sat in Parliament for Surrey since 1818. He was a man of cultivated tastes, and possessed a knowledge of art and elegant literature. He feared to be thought ostentatious, and could with difficulty be prevailed on to have a lodge erected at the entrance to a new road which he had just formed on his estate in Surrey.

Mr. Denison's two sisters were Elizabeth, married, in 1794, to Henry, first Marquis Conyngham; and Maria, married, in 1793, to Sir Robert Lawley, Bart., created, in 1831, Baron Wenlock. Up to the age of twenty-seven, Miss Denison resided with her father in St. Mary Axe. Here the rich and beautiful heiress was won and wedded in 1794 by the Honourable Henry Burton, then a captain, twenty-eight years old, and the eldest son of the fortunate Francis Pierpoint Burton, of Buncraggy, who succeeded through his mother, after the death of her two brothers, to the barony and estates of the old Conynghams, won at the battle of the Boyne by Sir Albert Conyngham, Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance of Ireland, and aggrandized by many forfeitures[107] and marriages subsequently. Captain Burton carried off his wife to Ireland, and only revisited England in his forty-second year, to kiss hands, in 1808, on his promotion to a major-generalship. On succeeding to his father's title and estates, his lordship so improved their condition that he was justly regarded as one of the benefactors of his country; and a visit to his estate at Slane, on the banks of the Boyne, is recorded by Mr. Parkinson in his Experiences of Agriculture in the same terms as a visit to Holkham would have been chronicled in the days of Mr. Coke. The barony of Conyngham was increased to an earldom as a reward for the spirited conduct of his lordship's father, which led to a reciprocity of trade between Ireland and England. Upon the conclusion of the war with France, when George IV. paid a visit to Ireland, he was hospitably received and entertained at Slane Castle. Here, probably, commenced that more intimate acquaintance between His Majesty and the Marquis Conyngham and his family which induced the King, upon his return to England, to invite the whole family to court, and, after they had accepted the invitation, to retain them in his household. In 1816 his lordship was created Viscount Slane (the restoration of an ancient title forfeited in the Rebellion), Earl of Mountcharles, and Marquis Conyngham; and in 1821 he was enrolled in the British Peerage as Baron Minster, of Minster Abbey, in the county of Kent. The Marchioness was left a widow in 1832, and survived until 1861, having attained the venerable age of ninety-two, and lived to see both her sons peers of the realm—the one in succession of his father; the second, Albert Denison, as the heir to her own father's great fortune and estates, with the title of Baron Londesborough.

"Dog Jennings."

This eccentric character, Henry Constantine Jennings, was born in 1731, and was the son of a gentleman possessed[108] of a large estate at Shiplake, in Oxfordshire. He was educated at Westminster School, and at the age of seventeen years became an ensign in the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. He held the commission but a short time, and on resigning it went to Italy in company with Lord Monthermer, son of the Duke of Montagu.

While at Rome, young Jennings commenced his first collection of articles of vertu, and ever after obtained the coarse and vulgar sobriquet of "Dog Jennings," in consequence of a circumstance which he thus relates:—"I happened one day to be strolling along the streets of Rome, and perceiving the shop of a statuary in an obscure street, I entered it, and began to look around for any curious production of art. I at length perceived something uncommon, at least; but, being partly concealed behind a heap of rubbish, I could not contemplate it with any degree of accuracy. After all impediments had been at length removed, the marble statue I had been poking for was dragged into open day; it proved to be a huge, but fine dog—and a fine dog it was, and a lucky dog was I to discover and to purchase it. On turning it round, I perceived it was without a tail—this gave me a hint. I also saw that the limbs were finely proportioned; that the figure was noble; that the sculpture, in short, was worthy of the best age of Athens; and that it must be of the age of Alcibiades, whose favourite dog it certainly was. I struck a bargain instantly on the spot for 400 scudi; and as the muzzle alone was somewhat damaged, I paid the artist a trifle more for repairing it. It was carefully packed, and being sent to England after me, by the time it reached my house in Oxfordshire, it had just cost me 80l. I wish all my other bargains had been like it, for it was exceedingly admired, as I well knew it must be, by the connoisseurs, by more than one of whom I was bid 1,000l. for my purchase. In truth, by a person sent, I believe, from Blenheim, I was offered 1,400l. But I would not part with my dog; I had bought it for myself, and I liked to contemplate[109] his fine proportions and admire him at my leisure, for he was doubly dear to me, as being my own property and my own selection."

At the Literary Club, one evening, Jennings' dog was the topic of discussion: "F. (Lord Cipper O'Geary.) 'I have been looking at this famous marble dog of Mr. Jennings', valued at 1,000 guineas, said to be Alcibiades' dog.'—Johnson. 'His tail, then, must be docked. That was the mark of Alcibiades' dog.'—E. (Burke.) 'A thousand guineas! the representation of no animal whatever is worth so much. At this rate, a dead dog would, indeed, be better than a living lion.'—J. 'Sir, it is not the worth of the thing, but of the skill in forming it, which is so highly estimated. Everything that enlarges the sphere of human powers, that shows man he can do what he thought he could not do, is valuable.'"

But Mr. Jennings, like many other collectors, owing to a reverse of fortune, was compelled, in 1778, to break up his collection, which being sold by auction, the dog of Alcibiades brought 1,000 guineas, and became the property of Mr. Duncombe, M.P. It is now at Duncombe Park, in Yorkshire, the seat of Lord Feversham.

It is painful to read that the latter days of Mr. Jennings were spent in the King's Bench; and within the rules of that prison he died, February 17th, 1819, at his lodgings in Belvedere Place, St. George's Fields, in his eighty-eighth year.

Baron Ward's Remarkable Career.

Perhaps no man of modern times passed a more varied and romantic life than the famed Yorkshire groom, statesman, and friend of sovereigns, and who played so prominent a part at the Court of Parma; his career strongly exemplifying the adage that truth is stranger than fiction.

Thomas Ward was born at York, on the 9th of October[110] 1810, where he was brought up in the stable, but was shrewd and intelligent far beyond boys of his own station.

He left Yorkshire as a boy in the pay of Prince Lichtenstein, of Hungary; and after a four years' successful career on the turf at Vienna as a jockey, he became employed by the then reigning Duke of Lucca.

He was at Lucca promoted from the stable to be a valet to his Royal Highness, which service he performed up to 1846. About that period he was appointed Master of the Horse to the Ducal Court, when he made extraordinary changes in that department: the stable expenses were reduced more than one-half. Yet the Duke's stud was the envy and admiration of all Italy. Eventually, Ward became Minister of the Household and Minister of Finance, and acquired a diplomatic dignity in the disturbances which preceded the revolutionary year, 1848, when he was despatched to Florence upon a confidential mission of the highest importance. This had no less an object than the delivery, to the Grand Duke, of his master's abdication of the Lucchese principality. At first the Grand Duke hesitated at receiving, in a diplomatic capacity, one of whom he had only heard in relation to the races of the Casino. But our envoy had seen and provided for such an emergency. He produced from his pocket a commission, making him Viceroy of the Duke's estates, which was to be acted upon if the Grand Duke raised any obstacle, or even if he refused to receive Ward as ambassador of the states of Parma, at the capital of the Medicis; this, of course, ended all difficulties.

Ward held the above offices until the Duke's rule was violently terminated by the great Revolution of 1848. With some difficulty he escaped with his able and faithful minister, when they retired to an estate near Dresden, called Weisstrop. At this period Ward became an active agent of Austria, and as Austria triumphed, he recovered the hereditary estates of Parma and Placentia; but the Duke, disgusted[111] by his experience, resigned in favour of his own son, with whom the minister retained the same favour and exhibited the same talents that first raised him to distinction, and made him more than a match for the first of the Italian diplomatists. Upon one occasion he was despatched to Vienna as an envoy from his little court, when he astonished Schwartzenberg by the extent of his capacity. His acquaintance was specially cultivated by the Russian Ambassador, Meyendorff, who appears to have been very fond of Yorkshire hams. An English gentleman, supping one night at the Russian Ambassador's, complimented him upon the excellence of the ham. "There is a member of our diplomatic body here," replied Meyendorff, "who supplies us all with hams from Yorkshire, of which county he is a native."

As prime minister, Ward negotiated the abdication of Charles II., and placed the youthful Charles III. on the throne, who, it will be remembered, was assassinated before his own palace in 1854. It should be observed that as soon as Charles III. came to the throne, the then Baron Ward was sent to Germany by his patron as Minister Plenipotentiary, to represent Parma at the Court of Vienna. This post he held up to the time of his royal patron's tragical end.

When the Duchess-Regent assumed state authority, Ward retired from public life, and took to agricultural pursuits in the Austrian dominions. Without any educational foundation, he contrived to write and speak German, French, and Italian, and conducted the affairs of state with considerable cleverness, if not with remarkable straightforwardness. But the moment he attempted to express himself in English, his dialect was found to retain all the characteristics of his want of education. Lord Palmerston once declared that Ward "was one of the most remarkable men he had ever met with."

Throughout life, Ward was ever proud of his country,[112] never for a moment attempting to conceal his humble origin; and portraits of his parents, in their homespun clothes, may be seen in the splendid saloon of the Prime Minister of Parma.

Baron Ward was married to a humble person of Vienna, and at his death he left four children. From the stable he rose to the highest offices of a little kingdom, at a period of great European political interest, and died in retirement, pursuing the rustic occupation of a farmer, but carrying with him to the grave many curious state secrets.

The following is a partial list only of the honours to which Ward attained:—Baron of the Duchy of Lucca, and of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; Knight of the First Class of the Order of St. Louis of Lucca; Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Joseph of Tuscany; Knight Senator Grand Cross of the Order of St. George Constantinano of Parma; and Noble, with the title of Baron, in Tuscany; Honorary Councillor of State to his Imperial Highness the Grand Duke of Tuscany; Minister and Councillor of State to H.R.H. Charles Duke of Parma, &c.[14]

A Costly House-Warming.

Fifty years ago, there lived in Edward Street, Portman Square, one Parmentier, confectioner to the Prince Regent. From his emporium, and that of Romualdo, in Duke Street, the routs given in the neighbouring squares were sumptuously supplied. In this quarter lived keepers of china and glass shops, who undertook, at a few hours' notice, to supply all the movables and ornaments for large routs, as chairs, tables, china and glass, knives and forks, extra plate, looking-glasses, mirrors, girandoles, chandeliers, wax-lights, candelabra-lamps, Aurelian shades, transparencies, vases, and other decorative items for a complete suite of rooms; together with exotics[113] and green-house plants, and a corps of artists to chalk the floors. It was by this almost magical aid that the Earl of Shrewsbury gave his magnificent house-warming to the haut ton at his new mansion in Bryanstone Square, which was then in so unfinished a state that the walls in many of the apartments were not even plastered. To the astonishment and delight of the guests, the whole mansion was thrown open, and every room was furnished and decorated in the most superb style. The principal drawing-room, with its numerous lamps and large looking-glasses, appeared one blaze of light; in contrast to which, another room in sombre gloom, resembled an Arcadian grove of orange and lemon trees and myrtles, part natural and part artificial. The amusements consisted of a dramatic representation, a concert, a dress-ball, a masquerade, and a sumptuous supper of three hundred covers. These elegant festivities cost the Earl several thousand pounds.

In the same neighbourhood, at the corner of George Street, Mohammed, a native of Asia, opened a house for giving dinners in the Hindustanee style. All the dishes were dressed with currie-powder, rice, cayenne, and the finest spices of Arabia. A room was set apart for smoking from hookahs with Oriental herbs. The rooms were furnished with chairs and sofas made of bamboo canes, and the walls were hung with Chinese pictures and other Asiatic embellishments. Either Sidi Mohammed's capital was not sufficient to stand the slow test of public encouragement, or the scheme failed at once; for Sidi became bankrupt, and the undertaking was relinquished.

Devonshire Eccentrics.

Some years since, there lived a gentleman in Tavistock, very charitably disposed, who entertained an especial good will and kind feeling towards old sailors. Any old sailor, by calling at his door, received the donation of a shilling and[114] a glass of grog. It was marvellous to see what a number of veteran blue jackets paid him a visit in the course of a year. At last, the servant who opened the door observed that all these sons of the sea had a particular patch on one and the same arm. She began, at length, to fancy that the old patch must be some badge of honour in the service, yet she thought it a very odd distinction in his Majesty's navy. The circumstance awakened her suspicion. The next old blue jacket that appeared, decorated with the order of the patch, was therefore watched and followed to his retreat. He was observed to retire to the house of a certain old woman, and in a little while he was seen to come forth again in his own natural character, that of a street beggar, clothed in rags. The cheat was apparent; and suffice it to say, that on further examination it appeared that the old woman's house was one of friendly call to all the vagabonds and sharpers who paced the country round; and that amongst other masquerade attire for the callers, she kept by her a sailor's old jacket and trousers for the purpose of playing off the imposition. No doubt she was paid for the loan of the dress.

At Tavistock, also, there resided a strange character in humble life, named Carter Foote. On returning from Oakhampton, he remounted his horse, after having enjoyed himself at the public-house, and attempted to pass the river below the bridge by fording it over. The day had been stormy, and from the sudden swell of the river he found himself in extreme danger. After endeavouring to struggle with the current he leaped from his horse upon a large piece of the rock, and there stood, calling aloud for help. Some person going by, ran and procured a rope, which he endeavoured to throw towards the rock; but finding it impossible to do so without further assistance, he begged two men belonging to Oakhampton, who drew near the spot, to give him help, and save the stranger, whose life was in so much peril. One of them, however, very leisurely[115] looked at the sufferer, and only saying, "'Tis a Tav'stock man, let un go," walked off with his companion, and poor Carter Foote was drowned.

Mrs. Bray relates the following of a Devonshire physician, happily named Vial, who was a desperate lover of whist. One evening, in the midst of a deal, the doctor fell off his chair in a fit. Consternation seized on the company. Was he alive or dead? What was to be done? All help was given; hartshorn was poured almost down his throat by one kind female friend, whilst another feelingly singed the end of his nose with burning feathers; all were in the breathless agony of suspense for his safety. At length, he showed signs of life, and retaining the last fond idea which had possessed him at the moment he fell into the fit, to the joy of the whole company exclaimed, "What is trumps?"

Many years ago, there resided in Devonshire a certain old gentleman, nicknamed Redpost Fynes, from his having painted all the gates of his fields a bright vermilion. The squire was remarkable for never having been able to learn to spell even the commonest word in his own language; so that on the birth of his daughter, he wrote to a friend that his wife was brought to bed of a fine gull. The word usage he spelt without one letter belonging to it, and yet contrived to produce something like the word, at least in sound, for he wrote it thus, yowzitch. Near his house was a very old and grotesque tree, cut and clipped in the form of a punchbowl; whilst a table and seats were literally affixed within the green enclosure, to which was an ascent by a little ladder, like the companion-ladder of a ship.


Hannah Snell.

Hannah Snell.

Hannah Snell, the Female Soldier.

This extraordinary woman was born in Fryer Street, Worcester, on the 23rd of April 1723. Her grandfather, embracing the military profession, served under William III. and Queen Anne, and terminated his career at the battle of Malplaquet, where he received a mortal wound. Snell's father was a hosier and dyer.

In 1740, Hannah, having lost both parents, came to London, where she for some time resided with one of her sisters, married to one Gray, a carpenter, in Ship Street,[117] Wapping. Here she became acquainted with a Dutch seaman, named James Summs, to whom she was married early in 1743. Her husband led a profligate life, squandered the little property which his wife possessed, and having involved her deeply in debt, deserted her, leaving her pregnant; in two months she was delivered of a girl, who died at the age of seven months.

For some time she resided with her sister, but soon resolved to set out in quest of the man, whom, notwithstanding his ill-usage, she still continued to love. In order to carry out this strange resolve, as she thought, more safely, she put on a suit of the clothes of her brother-in-law, assumed his name, James Gray, and started on the 23rd of November, 1745. Having travelled to Coventry, and being unable to procure any intelligence of her husband, on the 27th of the same month she enlisted into General Guise's regiment, and in the company belonging to Captain Miller. She remained at Coventry about three weeks. The north being then the seat of war, and her regiment being at Carlisle, she left Coventry with seventeen other recruits, and joined the regiment, after a march of three weeks, which she performed with as much ease as any of her comrades. At Carlisle she was instructed in the military exercise, which she was soon able to perform with skill and dexterity. She had not been long in this place, when a man named Davis applied to Hannah to assist him in an intrigue; she appeared to acquiesce in his desire, but privately disclosed the whole matter to the intended victim. By this conduct she gained the young woman's confidence and esteem; they frequently met, which excited the jealousy of Davis, and prompted revenge. He accordingly seized an opportunity of charging his supposed rival before the commanding officer with neglect of duty, and she was sentenced to receive six hundred lashes. Five hundred were inflicted, but the remaining hundred were remitted through the intercession of some of the officers.


Not long after this unhappy occurrence, a fresh recruit, a native of Worcester, and a carpenter, who had lodged at the house of her brother-in-law, joined the regiment, when Hannah becoming apprehensive of the discovery of her sex resolved to desert. Her female friend endeavoured to dissuade her from such a dangerous enterprise; but finding her resolution fixed, she furnished her with money, and Hannah commenced her journey on foot for Portsmouth. About a mile from Carlisle, perceiving some men employed in picking peas, and their clothes lying at some distance, she exchanged her regimental coat for one of the old coats belonging to one of the men, and proceeded on her journey. At Liverpool and Chester, Hannah contrived, by her attentions to a landlady and a young mantua-maker, to obtain some money; but in an intrigue with a widow at Winchester our gallant was less successful, the widow rifling her pockets, and leaving her with but a few shillings to finish her journey on foot. Arrived at Portsmouth, she soon enlisted as a marine in Colonel Fraser's regiment which in three weeks was drafted for the East Indies, and Hannah, among the rest, was ordered to repair on board the Swallow sloop, in Admiral Boscawen's fleet. She soon distinguished herself on board by her dexterity in washing, mending, and cooking for her messmates, and she thus became a great favourite with the crew of the sloop. She was regarded as a boy, and in case of an engagement her station was on the quarter-deck, to fight at small arms, and she was one of the afterguard; she was also obliged to keep watch every four hours night and day, and frequently to go aloft. We read likewise of the Swallow being in a violent tempest, and almost reduced to a wreck: Hannah took her turn at the pump, which was kept constantly going, and she declined no office, however dangerous, but established her character for courage, skill, and intrepidity.

The ship then made the best of her way to the Cape of Good Hope, during their voyage from which they were[119] reduced to short allowance, and but a pint of water a day. The admiral next bore away for Fort St. David, on the coast of Coromandel, where the fleet soon afterwards arrived. Hannah, with the rest of the marines, being disembarked, after a march of three weeks, joined the English army encamped before Aria-Coupon, which place was to have been stormed; but a shell having burst and blown up their magazine, the besieged were obliged to abandon it. This adventure gave Hannah fresh spirits, and her intrepid conduct acquired the commendation of all the officers.

The army then proceeded to the attack of Pondicherry, and after lying before that place eleven weeks, and suffering very great hardships, they were obliged by the rainy season to abandon the siege. Hannah was the first in the party of English foot who forded the river, breast-high, under an incessant fire from a French battery. She was likewise on the picket-guard, continued on that duty seven nights successively, and laboured very hard about fourteen days at throwing up the trenches. In one of the attacks, however, her career was well-nigh terminated. She fired thirty-seven rounds during the engagement, and received, according to her account, six shots in her right leg, five in the left, and, what was still more painful, a dangerous wound in the lower part of her body, which she feared might lead to the discovery of her disguise to the surgeons. She, however, intrusted her secret to a negress who attended her, and brought her lint and salve; after most acute suffering she extracted the ball with her finger and thumb, and made a perfect cure. Meanwhile the greater part of the fleet had sailed. She was then sent on board the Tartar pink, and continued to do the duty of a sailor till the return of the fleet from Madras. She was soon afterwards turned over to the Eltham man-of-war, and sailed with that ship to Bombay. Here the vessel, which had sprung a leak on the passage, was heaved down for repair, which lasted five[120] weeks. The captain remained on shore, while Hannah, in common with the rest of the crew, had her turn on the watch. On one of these occasions, Mr. Allen, the lieutenant who commanded in the captain's absence, desired her to sing a song, but she excused herself, saying she was unwell; the officer, however, insisted that she should sing, which she as resolutely refused to do. She soon had occasion to regret her non-compliance, for being suspected of stealing a shirt belonging to one of her comrades, though no proof could be adduced, the lieutenant ordered her to be put in irons. After remaining there five days, she was ordered to the gangway, and received twelve lashes, and she was then sent to the topmast-head for four hours. The missing shirt was afterwards found in the chest of the man who complained that he had lost it.

About this time the sailors began to rally Hannah because she had no beard, and they soon afterwards jocosely christened her Miss Molly Gray; this alarmed her, lest some of the crew might suspect that she was a female; but she took part in their scenes of dissipation with such glee, that she was soon called Hearty Jemmy.

While the vessel remained at Lisbon, on her passage home, she met with an English sailor who had been at Genoa in a Dutch vessel. She took the opportunity of inquiring after her long-lost husband, and was informed that he had been confined at Genoa for murdering a native gentleman of that city, a person of some distinction; and that to expiate his crime, he was put into a sack with a quantity of stones, and thus thrown into the sea. Distressing as this information must have been, Hannah had sufficient command over herself to conceal her emotions.

Leaving Lisbon, Hannah arrived safely at Spithead. At Portsmouth she met her female friend, for whose sake she had been whipped at Carlisle. This girl was still single, and would have married Hannah, had she chosen to discover herself. She, however, proceeded to London, where she[121] was heartily received by her sister. She soon afterwards met with some of her shipmates; and, after receiving her pay, she was about to part with them, when she revealed her sex, and one of them immediately offered to marry her, but she declined.

Hannah's strange career had now acquired her popularity, and as she possessed a good voice, she obtained an engagement at the Royalty Theatre, in Wellclose Square, where she appeared in the character of Bill Bobstay, a sailor; she also represented Firelock, a military character, and in a masterly and correct manner went through the manual and platoon exercises. She, however, quitted the stage in a few months; and as she preferred male attire, she resolved to continue to wear it during the remainder of her life; she usually wore a laced hat and cockade, and a sword and ruffles. There were good portraits of her published in 1750.

Hannah now became an out-pensioner of Chelsea Hospital on account of the wounds she received at the siege of Pondicherry, her pension being 30l. She next took a public-house at Wapping; on one side of the signboard was painted the figure of a jolly British tar, and on the other the valiant marine; underneath was inscribed, "The Widow in Masquerade, or the Female Warrior." She continued to keep this house for many years; and afterwards married one Eyles, a carpenter, at Newbury, in Berkshire. A lady of fortune, who admired Hannah's heroism and eccentricity of conduct, took special notice of her, became godmother to her son, and contributed towards his education. Mrs. Eyles continued to receive her pension to the day of her death. She lived for some time with her son in Church Street, Stoke Newington; but, about three years before her death, she showed symptoms of insanity, and was admitted as patient at Bethlem Hospital, Moorfields, where she died February 8, 1792, aged sixty-nine years.


Lady Archer enamelling at her Toilet.

Lady Archer enamelling at her Toilet.

Lady Archer.

This lady, formerly Miss West, lived to a good age—a proof that cosmetics are not so fatal as some would have us suppose. Nature had given her a fine aquiline nose, like the princesses of the House of Austria, and she did not fail to give herself a complexion. She resembled a fine old[123] wainscoted painting, with the face and features shining through a thick incrustation of copal varnish.

Her ladyship was for many years the wonder of the fashionable world, envied by all the ladies of the Court of George the Third. She had a well-appointed house in Portland Place. Her equipage was, with her, a sort of scenery. She gloried in milk-white horses to her carriage, the coachmen and footmen wore very showy liveries, and the carriage was lined with silk of a tint to exhibit the complexion to advantage.

Alexander Stephens, amongst whose papers was found this account of Lady Archer, tells us that he recollected to have seen Mrs. Robinson (the Perdita of the Prince of Wales's love) go far beyond all this in the exuberance of her genius, in a yellow lining to her landau, with a black footman, to contrast with her beautiful complexion and fascinating figure, and thus render both more lovely. Lady Archer lived at Barn Elms Terrace, and her house had the most elegant ornaments and draperies to strike the senses, and yet powerfully address the imagination. Her kitchen-garden and pleasure-ground, of five acres—the Thames, flowing in front, as if a portion of the estate—the apartments decorated in the Chinese style, and opening into hothouses stored with fruits of the richest growth, and greenhouses with plants of great rarity and beauty, and superb couches and draperies, effectively placed, rendered her home a sort of elysium of luxury.

Barn Elms will be remembered as the scene of an older eccentricity—Heydegger's instantaneous light reception of George II., a device worthy of the master of the revels.



The Alchemist.

The Alchemist.

Modern Alchemists.

IT may take some readers by surprise to learn that there have been true believers in alchemy in our days. Dr. Price is commonly set down in popular journals as the last[125] of the alchemists. This is, however, a mistake, as we shall proceed to show; before which, however, it will be interesting to sketch the history of this reputed alchemist.

Towards the close of the last century, Dr. James Price, a medical practitioner in the neighbourhood of Guildford, Surrey, acquired some notoriety by an alleged discovery of methods of transmuting mercury into gold or silver. He had been a student of Oriel College, Oxford, where he obtained the degree of Bachelor of Physic. In 1782 he published an account of his experiments on mercury, silver, and gold, performed at Guildford, in that year, before Lord King and others, to whom he appealed as eye-witnesses of his wonder-working power. It seems that mercury being put into a crucible, and heated in the fire with other ingredients (which had been shown to contain no gold), he added a red powder; the crucible was again heated, and being suffered to cool, amongst its contents, on examination, was found a globule of pure gold. By a similar process with a white powder, he produced a globule of silver. The character of the witnesses of these manifestations gave credit and celebrity for a time to Price, who was honoured by the University with the degree of Doctor of Physic, and he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Dr. Price had now placed himself in a perilous position; for persons acquainted with the history of alchemy must have conjectured how the gold and silver in his experiments might have been procured with any transmutation of mercury or any other substance. The Royal Society authoritatively required that the pretensions of the new associate should be properly sifted, and his claim as a discoverer be clearly established, or his character as an impostor exposed. A repetition of the doctor's experiments before a committee of the Royal Society was commanded on pain of expulsion; when the unfortunate man, rather than submit to the ordeal, took a draught of laurel-water, and died on July 31, 1783, in his twenty-fifth year.


At the beginning of the present century, some persons of eminence in science thought favourably of alchemy. Professor Robinson, writing to James Watt, February 11, 1800, says, "The analysis of alkalies and alkaline earth will presently lead, I think, to a doctrine of a reciprocal convertibility of all things into all ... and I expect to see alchemy revive, and be as universally studied as ever."

Sir Walter Scott, in his well-known paper on Astrology and Alchemy, in The Quarterly Review, tells us that about the year 1801, an adept lived, or rather starved, in the metropolis, in the person of the editor of an evening newspaper, who expected to compound the alkahat, if he could only keep his materials digested in his lamp-furnace for the space of seven years. Scott adds, in pleasant banter, "the lamp burnt brightly during six years, eleven months, and some odd days, and then unluckily it went out. Why it went out, the adept could never guess; but he was certain that if the flame could only have burnt to the end of the septenary cycle, the experiment must have succeeded."

The last true believer in alchemy was not Dr. Price, but Peter Woulfe, the eminent chemist, and Fellow of the Royal Society, and who made experiments to show the nature of mosaic gold. Mr. Brande says: "It is to be regretted that no biographical memoir has been preserved of Woulfe. I have picked up a few anecdotes respecting him from two or three friends who were his acquaintance. He occupied chambers in Barnard's Inn, Holborn (the older buildings), while residing in London, and usually spent the summer in Paris. His rooms, which were extensive, were so filled with furnaces and apparatus that it was difficult to reach his fireside. A friend told me that he once put down his hat, and never could find it again, such was the confusion of boxes, packages, and parcels that lay about the chamber. His breakfast-hour was four in the morning; a few of his select friends were occasionally invited to this repast, to whom a secret signal was given by which they gained entrance,[127] knocking a certain number of times at the inner door of his apartment. He had long vainly searched for the Elixir, and attributed his repeated failures to the want of due preparation by pious and charitable acts. I understand that some of his apparatus is still extant, upon which are supplications for success and for the welfare of the adepts. Whenever he wished to break an acquaintance, or felt himself offended, he resented the supposed injury by sending a present to the offender, and never seeing him afterwards. These presents were sometimes of a curious description, and consisted usually of some expensive chemical product or preparation. He had an heroic remedy for illness; when he felt himself seriously indisposed, he took a place in the Edinburgh mail, and having reached that city, immediately came back in the returning coach to London."

A cold taken in one of these expeditions terminated in inflammation of the lungs, of which Woulfe died in the year 1805. Of his last moments we received the following account from his executor, then Treasurer of Barnard's Inn. By Woulfe's desire, his laundress shut up his chambers, and left him, but returned at midnight, when Woulfe was still alive. Next morning, however, she found him dead! His countenance was calm and serene, and apparently he had not moved from the position in his chair in which she had last left him.

Twenty years after the death of Peter Woulfe, Sir Richard Phillips visited "an alchemist" named Kellerman, at the village of Lilley, between Luton and Hitchin. He was believed by some of his neighbours to have discovered the Philosopher's Stone and the Universal Solvent. His room was a realisation of the well-known picture of Tenier's Alchemist. The floor was strewed with retorts, crucibles, alembics, jars, and bottles of various shapes, intermingled with old books. He gave Sir Richard a history of his studies, mentioned some men in London who, he alleged, had assured him that they had made gold; that having, in[128] consequence, examined the works of the ancient alchemists, and discovered the key which they had studiously concealed from the multitude, he had pursued their system under the influence of new lights; and, after suffering numerous disappointments, owing to the ambiguity with which they described their processes, he had at length happily succeeded; had made gold, and could make as much more as he pleased, even to the extent of paying off the National Debt in the coin of the realm!

Killerman then enlarged upon the merits of the ancient alchemists, and on the blunders and assumptions of modern chemists. He quoted Roger and Francis Bacon, Paracelsus, Boyle, Boerhaave, Woulfe, and others to justify his pursuits. As to the term Philosopher's Stone, he alleged that it was a mere figure to deceive the vulgar. He appeared to give full credit to the silly story of Dee's finding the Elixir at Glastonbury, by means of which, as he said, Kelly for a length of time supported himself in princely splendour. Kellerman added, that he had discovered the blacker than black of Apollonius Tyanus: it was itself "the powder of projection for producing gold."

It further appeared that Kellerman had lived in the premises at Lilley for twenty-three years, during fourteen of which he had pursued his alchemical studies with unremitting ardour, keeping eight assistants for superintending his crucibles, two at a time, relieving each other every six hours; that he had exposed some preparations to intense heat for many months at a time; but that all except one crucible had burst, and that, Kellerman said, contained the true "blacker than black." One of his assistants, however, protested that no gold had ever been found, and that no mercury had ever been fixed; for he was quite sure Kellerman could not have concealed it from his assistants; while, on the contrary, they witnessed his severe disappointment at the result of his most elaborate experiments.

Of late years there have been some strange revivals of[129] alchemical pursuits. In 1850 there was printed in London a volume of considerable extent, entitled, A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery—the work of a lady, by whom it has been suppressed; we have seen it described as "a learned and valuable book."

By this circumstance we are reminded that some five-and-thirty years since it came to our knowledge that a man of wealth and position in the City of London, an adept in alchemy, was held in terrorem by an unprincipled person, who extorted from him considerable sums of money under threats of exposure, which would have affected his mercantile interests.

Nevertheless, alchemy has, in the present day, its prophetic advocates, who predict what may be considered a return to its strangest belief. A Göttingen professor says, in the Annales de Chimie, No. 100, that in the nineteenth century the transmutation of metals will be generally known and practised. Every chemist and every artist will make gold; kitchen utensils will be of silver and even gold, which will contribute more than anything else to prolong life, poisoned at present by the oxide of copper, lead, and iron which we daily swallow with our food. More recently, MM. Dr. Henri Fabre and Franz have placed before the French Academy their discovery of the means of transmuting silver, copper, and quicksilver into gold.


Jack Adams, the Astrologer

Jack Adams, the Astrologer

Magnifico Smokentissimo Custardissimo Astrologissimo Cunningmanisso
Rabbinissimo Viro Jacko Adams de Clerkenwell Greeno hanc lovelissimam
Sui Picturam.

Hovbedeboody pinxit et scratchabat.

Jack Adams, the Astrologer.

Among the celebrities of Clerkenwell Green was Jack Adams, whose nativity was calculated by Partridge, who[131] affirmed that he was born on the 3rd of December, 1625, and that he was so great a natural, or simpleton, as to be obliged to wear long coats, besides other marks of stupidity; and that the parish not only maintained him, but allowed a nurse to attend him to preserve him from harm. Allusion is made to him in a satirical ballad of 1655:—

Jack Adams, sure, was pamet (poet) by the vein.

And in the Wits, or Sport upon Sport, 1682, we read of his visit to the Red Bull playhouse, where Simpleton, the smith, appearing on the stage with a large piece of bread-and-butter, Jack Adams, knowing him, cried out, "Cuz, Cuz, give me some," to the great pleasure of the audience. Ward thus mentions his celebrity:—

What mortal that has sense or thought
Would strip Jack Adams of his coat;
Or who would be by friends decoyed
To wear a badge he would avoid?

Jack Adams was a conjurer and professor of the celestial sciences; he was (says Granger's Supplement) "a blind buzzard, who pretended to have the eyes of an eagle. He was chiefly employed in horary questions, relative to love and marriage, and knew, upon proper occasions, how to soothe and flatter the expectations of those who consulted him, as a man might have much better fortune from him for five guineas than for the same number of shillings. He affected a singular dress, and cast horoscopes with great solemnity. When he failed in his predictions, he declared that the stars did not absolutely force, but powerfully incline, and threw the blame upon wayward and perverse fate. He assumed the character of a learned and cunning man; but was no otherwise cunning than as he knew how to overreach those credulous mortals who were as willing to be cheated as he was to cheat them, and who relied implicitly upon his art." Mr. Warner says: "A short time after we removed into the house (No. 7, Clerkenwell Green),[132] two young women applied to have their fortunes told; upon being informed they were under some mistake, one expressed great surprise, and stated that was the place she always came to, and she thought some of Mr. Adams's family always resided there. This was the first time I ever heard anything of Jack Adams. Several similar applications were made by other persons, and we afterwards learnt that it had been occupied by persons of that profession for many years, and they generally went by the name of Adams."[15]

In an old print we have Jack Adams in a fantastic dress, with a tobacco-pipe in his girdle, standing at a table on which lies a horn-book and Poor Robin's Almanack. On one shelf is a row of books, and on another several boys' playthings, particularly tops, marbles, and a small drum. Before him is a man genteelly dressed, presenting five pieces; from his mouth proceeds a label, inscribed, "Is she a princess?" This is meant for Carleton, who married the pretended German princess. Behind him is a ragged, slatternly woman, who has also a label in her mouth, with these words: "Sir, can you tell my fortune?" In Poor Robin's Almanack for 1785 are these lines:

Now should I choose t'invoke a Muse—
Muses are fickle madams;
Else I could go my poem through
Ere you could say Jack Adams.

In the City of London Library is an original print of Jack Adams, and a copy by Caulfield.

The Woman-hating Cavendish.

Eccentricity in men of science is not rare. The Hon. Henry Cavendish, who demonstrated, in 1781, the composition of water, was a remarkable instance. He was an excellent[133] mathematician, electrician, astronomer, and geologist; and as alchemist shot far ahead of his contemporaries. But he was a sort of methodical recluse, and an enormous fortune left him by his uncle did little to change his habits. His shyness and aversion to society bordered on disease. To be looked at or addressed by a stranger seemed to give him positive pain, when he would dart away as if hurt. At Sir Joseph Banks's soirées he would stand for a long time on the landing, afraid to face the company. At one of these parties the titles and qualifications of Cavendish were formally recited when he was introduced to an Austrian gentleman. The Austrian became complimentary, saying his chief reason for coming to London was to see and converse with Cavendish, one of the greatest ornaments of the age, and one of the most illustrious philosophers that ever existed. Cavendish answered not a word, but stood with his eyes cast down, abashed, and in misery. At last, seeing an opening in the crowd, he flew to the door, nor did he stop till he reached his carriage and drove directly home. Any attempt to draw him into conversation was almost certain to fail, and Dr. Wollaston's recipe for treating with him usually answered best: "The way to talk to Cavendish is, never to look at him, but to talk as if it were into a vacancy, and then it is not unlikely you may set him going."

Among the anecdotes which floated about it is related that Cavendish, the club Crœsus, attended the meetings of the Royal Society Club with only money enough in his pocket to pay for his dinner; that he declined taking tavern soup, picked his teeth with a fork, invariably hung his hat upon the same peg, and always stuck his cane in his right boot. More apocryphal is the anecdote that one evening Cavendish observed a pretty girl looking out from an upper window on the opposite side of the street, watching the philosophers at dinner. She attracted notice, and one by one they got up, and mustered round the window to[134] admire the fair one. Cavendish, who thought they were looking at the moon, bustled up to them in his odd way, and when he saw the real object of attraction, turned away with intense disgust, and grunted out "Pshaw!" the more amorous conduct of his brother philosophers having horrified the woman-hating Cavendish.

If men were a trouble to him, women were an abhorrence. With his housekeeper he generally communicated with notes deposited on the hall-table. He would never see a female servant; and if an unlucky maid showed herself she was instantly dismissed. To prevent inevitable encounters he had a second staircase erected in his villa at Clapham. In all his habits he was punctiliously regular, even to his hanging his hat upon the same peg. From an unvarying walk he was, however, driven by being gazed at. Two ladies led a gentleman on his track, in order that he might obtain a sight of the philosopher. As he was getting over a stile he saw, to his horror, that he was being watched, and he never appeared in that path again. That he was not quite merciless to the sex was proved by his saving a lady from the pursuit of a mad cow.

Cavendish's town house was near the British Museum, at the corner of Gower Street and Montague Place. Few visitors were admitted, and those who crossed the threshold reported that books and apparatus were its chief furniture. He collected a large library of scientific books, hired a house for its reception in Dean Street, Soho, and kept a librarian. When he wanted one of his own books, he went there as to a circulating library, and left a formal receipt for whatever he took away. Nearly the whole of his villa at Clapham was occupied as workshops; the upper rooms were an observatory, the drawing-room was a laboratory. On the lawn was a wooden stage, from which access could be had to a large tree, to the top of which Cavendish, in the course of his astronomical and meteorological observations, and electrical experiments, occasionally ascended. His[135] apparatus was roughly constructed, but was always exact and accurate.

His household was strangely managed. He received but little company, and the few guests were treated on all occasions to the same fare—a leg of mutton. One day, four scientific friends were to dine with him; when his housekeeper asked him what was to be got for dinner, Cavendish replied, "A leg of mutton."

"Sir," said she, "that will not be enough for five."

"Well, then, get two," was the reply.

Cavendish extended his eccentric reception to his own family. His heir, Lord George Cavendish, visited him once a-year, and was allowed an audience of but half-an-hour. His great income was allowed to accumulate without attention. The bankers where he kept his account, finding they had in hand a balance of 80,000l., apprised him of the same. The messenger was announced, and Cavendish, in great agitation, desired him to be sent up; and, as he entered the room, the ruffled philosopher cried, "What do you come here for! what do you want with me?"

"Sir, I thought it proper to wait upon you, as we have a very large balance in hand of yours, and we wish your orders respecting it."

"If it is any trouble to you, I will take it out of your hands. Do not come here to plague me!"

"Not the least trouble to us, sir, not the least; but we thought you might like some of it to be invested."

"Well, well, what do you want to do?"

"Perhaps you would like 40,000l. invested."

"Do so, do so! and don't come here to trouble me, or I'll remove it," was the churlish finale of the interview.

Cavendish died in 1810, at the age of seventy-eight. He was then the largest holder of Bank-stock in England. He owned 1,157,000l. in different public funds; he had besides, freehold property of 8,000l. a-year, and a balance of 50,000l. at his bankers. He was long a member of the Royal Society[136] Club, and it was reported at his death that he had left a thumping legacy to Lord Bessborough, in gratitude for his Lordship's piquant conversation at the club meetings; but no such reason can be found in the will lodged at Doctors' Commons. Therein, Cavendish names three of his club-mates—namely, Alexander Dalrymple to receive 5,000l., Dr. Hunter 5,000l., and Sir Charles Blagden (coadjutor in the water question) 15,000l. After certain other bequests, the will proceeds: "The remainder of the funds (nearly 100,000l.) to be divided: one-sixth to the Earl of Bessborough," while Lord George Henry Cavendish had two-sixths instead of one. "It is, therefore," says Admiral Smyth, in his History of the Royal Society Club, "patent that the money thus passed over from uncle to nephew was a mere consequence of relationship, and not at all owing to any flowers or powers of conversation at the Royal Society Club."

Cavendish never changed the fashion or cut of his dress, so that his appearance in 1810, in a costume of sixty years previously, was odd, and drew upon him the notice which he so much disliked. His complexion was fair, his temperament nervous, and his voice squeaking. The only portrait that exists of him was sketched without his knowledge. Dr. George Wilson, who has left a clever memoir of Cavendish, says: "An intellectual head, thinking—a pair of wonderful acute eyes, observing—a pair of very skilful hands, experimenting or recording, are all that I realize in reading his memorials."

Modern Astrology.—"Witch Pickles."

It would be an acquisition to our knowledge if some one competent to the task would collect materials for the history of the men who, within the present century, have made a profession of judicial astrology. Attention is occasionally drawn to the practices of itinerant fortune-tellers, many of[137] whom still procure a livelihood. The astrologer, however, or, as he is denominated in some districts of England—more particularly in Yorkshire—a "planet-ruler," and sometimes "a wise man," is of a higher order. He does not itinerate, is generally a man of some education, possessed of a good deal of fragmentary knowledge and a smattering of science. He very often conceals his real profession by practising as a "Water Doctor" or as a "Bone-setter," and some possess a considerable amount of skill in the treatment of ordinary diseases.

The more lucrative part of his business was that which they carried on in a secret way. He was consulted in cases of difficulty by a class of superstitious persons, and an implicit faith was placed in his statements and predictions. The "wise man" was sought in all cases of accident, disaster, or loss. He was consulted as to the probabilities of the return and safety of the distant and the absent; of the chances of the recovery of the sick, and of the destiny of some beloved friend or relative. The consultation with such a man would often have a sinister aim; to discover by the stars whether an obnoxious husband would survive, or whether the affections of courted or inconstant lover could be secured. Very often long-continued diseases and inveterate maladies were ascribed to an "ill-wish;" and the planet-ruler was sought to discover who was the ill-wisher, and what charm would remove the spell. It is needless to say that the practices of these astrologers were productive, in a large number of cases, of much disturbance among neighbours and relatives, and great mischief to all concerned, except the man who profited by the credulity of his dupes.

Some of these charlatans no doubt were believers in the imposture, but the greater number were arrant cheats. In Leeds and its neighbourhood there were, some five-and-thirty years ago, several "wise men." Among the number was a man known by no other name than that of "Witch[138] Pickles." He was avowedly an Astrological Doctor, and ruled the planets for those who sought him for that purpose. He dwelt in a retired house on the road from Leeds to York, about a mile from the Shoulder of Mutton public-house, at the top of March Lane. His celebrity extended for above fifty miles, and persons came from the Yorkshire Wolds to consult him. The man and the house were held in awe by boys and even older persons who had belief in his powers. Little was known of his habits, and he had few visitors but those who sought his professional assistance. He never committed anything to writing. He was particular in inquiring into all the circumstances of any case on which he was consulted before he pronounced. He then, as he termed it, proceeded to draw a figure, in order to discover the conjunction of the planets, and then entered upon the explanation of what the stars predicted. Strange things were told of him, such as that he performed incantations at midnight on certain days in the year when particular planets were in the ascendant; and that on such occasions strange sights and sounds would be seen and heard by persons passing the house. These were the embellishments of vulgar rumour. The man was quiet and inoffensive in his demeanour, and was fully sensible of the necessity of a life of seclusion. He is believed to have practised a few tricks to awe his visitors, such as lighting a candle or fire without visible agency, and other tricks far more ingenious than the modern table-rapping.

"Witch Pickles" was only one among the number who derived a large profit from this kind of occupation. He was one of the more respectable of the class, as he never descended to the vile tricks of others of the profession—tricks practised upon weak and credulous women and girls—which will not bear description.[16]

One of the most celebrated works on Astrology is that[139] of Dr. Sibly, twelfth edition, 1817, in two octavo volumes, containing more than eleven hundred pages. The following will give an idea of the pretensions of the book, which is a remarkable book, if it really went through twelve editions. The owner of a privateer, which had not been heard of, called to know her fate. Dr. Sibly gave judgment on a figure "rectified to the precise time the question was propounded. The ship itself appeared well formed and substantial, but not a swift sailer, as is demonstrated by an earthy sign possessing the cusp of the ascendant, and the situation of the Dragon's Head in five degrees of the same sign." The ship itself was pronounced to have been captured.

"From the whole account it is clear that Dr. Sibly's system—how now esteemed by astrologers the writer knows not—has but this alternative: either one and the same figure will tell the fate of all the ships which have not been heard of, including their sailing qualities, or the stars will never send an owner to ask for news except just at the moment when they are in a position to describe this particular ship."[17]

Hannah Green; or, "Ling Bob."

This noted sibyl lived in a cottage on the edge of the moor on the left of the old road from Otley to Bradford, between Carlton and Yeadon, and eight miles from Leeds. She was popularly known as "The Ling-bob Witch," a name given her, it is supposed, from her living among the ling-bobs, or heather-tubs. She was resorted to on account of her supposed knowledge of future events; but, like the rest of her class, her principal forte was fortune-telling, from which it is said she for herself realized a handsome fortune.


Many strange tales have been told of her; such as her power of transforming herself, after nightfall, into the shape of any she list; and of her odd pranks in her nightly rambles, her favourite character being that of the hare, in which personation she was unluckily shot by an unsuspecting poacher, who was almost terrified out of his senses by the awful screams which followed the sudden death of the Ling-bob witch.

In the year 1785, D——, of Sheffield, being at Leeds, had the curiosity to pay a visit to the noted Hannah Green. He first questioned her respecting the future fortunes of a near relative of his, who was then in circumstances of distress, and indeed in prison. She told him immediately that his friend's trouble would continue full three times three years, and he would then experience a great deliverance, which, in fact, was on the point of being literally verified, for he was then in the Court of King's Bench.

He then asked her if she possessed any foreknowledge of what was about to come to pass on the great stage of the world; to which she replied in the affirmative. She said, war would be threatened once, but would not happen; but the second time it would blaze out in all its horrors, and extend to all the neighbouring countries; and that the two countries [these appear to be France and Poland], at a great distance one from the other, would in consequence obtain their freedom, although after hard struggles. After the year 1790, she observed, many great persons, even kings and queens, would lose their lives, and that not by fair means. In 1794, a great warrior of high blood is to fall in the field of battle; and in 1795, a distant nation [thought to be negro slaves], who have been dragged from their own country, will rise as one man, and deliver themselves from their oppressors.

Hannah appears to have been one of a somewhat numerous class, many of whom were resident in Yorkshire. Very few of them went beyond the attempt to foretell the future events in the lives of individuals; they did not work[141] with such high ambition as drawing the horoscopes of nations. Their predictions were always vague, and so framed as to cover a number of the most probable events in the life of every individual.

Hannah really died on the 12th of May, 1810, after having practised her art about forty years; and Ling-bob became a haunted and dreaded place. The house remained some years untenanted and ruinous, but was afterwards repaired and occupied. Her daughter and successor, Hannah Spence, laid claim to the same prescience, but it need hardly be added, without the same success.[18]

Oddities of Lady Hester Stanhope.

This eccentric lady, grand-daughter of the great Lord Chatham, held implicit faith in the influence of the stars on the destiny of men, a notion from which every crowned head in Europe is not, at this day, exempt.

Lady Hester brought her theories into a striking though rather ridiculous system. She had a remarkable talent for divining characters by the conformation of men. This every traveller could testify who had visited her in Syria; for it was after she went to live in solitude that her penetration became so extraordinary. It was founded both on the features of the face and on the shape of the head, body, and limbs. Some indications she went by were taken from a resemblance to animals; and wherever such indications existed, she inferred that the dispositions peculiar to those animals were to be found in the person. But, independent of all this, her doctrine was that every creature is governed by the star under whose influence it was born.

"Animal magnetism," said Lady Hester, "is nothing but the sympathy of our stars. Those fools who go about[142] magnetizing indifferently one person and another, why do they sometimes succeed and sometimes fail? Because if they meet with those of the same star with themselves, their results will be satisfactory; but with opposite stars they can do nothing."

"What Lady Hester's own star was," says her physician, "may be gathered from what she said one day, when, having dwelt a long time on this her favourite subject, she got up from the sofa, and approaching the window, she called me. 'Look,' said she, 'at the pupil of my eyes; there! my star is the sun—all sun—it is in my eyes: when the sun is a person's star it attracts everything.' I looked, and I replied that I saw a rim of yellow round the pupil. 'A rim!' cried she; 'it isn't a rim—it's a sun; there's a disk, and from it go rays all around: 'tis no more of a rim than you are. Nobody has got eyes like mine.'"

Lady Hester delighted in anecdotes that went to show how much and how justly we may be biassed in our opinions by the shape of any particular part of a person's body independent of the face. She used to tell a story of ——, who fell in love with a lady on a glimpse of those charms which gave such renown to the Onidian Venus. This lady, luckily or unluckily, happened to tumble from her horse, and by that singular accident fixed the gazer's affections irrevocably. Another gentleman, whom she knew, saw a lady at Rome get out of a carriage, her head being covered by an umbrella, which the servant held over her on account of the rain; and seeing nothing but her foot and leg, swore he would marry her—which he did.

Lady Hester delighted in prophecies some of which, with their fulfilments and non-fulfilments, are very amusing. There is reason to think, from what her ladyship let fall at different times, that Brothers, the fortune-teller in England, and Metta, a village doctor on Mount Lebanon, had considerable influence on her actions and, perhaps, her destiny. When Brothers was taken up and thrown into prison (in Mr.[143] Pitt's time), he told those who arrested him to do the will of heaven, but first to let him see Lady Hester Stanhope. This was repeated to her ladyship, and curiosity induced her to comply with the man's request. Brothers told her that "she would one day go to Jerusalem and lead back the chosen people; that on her arrival in the Holy Land, mighty changes would take place in the world, and that she would pass seven years in the desert." Trivial circumstances will foster a foolish belief in a mind disposed to encourage it. Mr. Frederick North, afterwards Lord Guildford, in the course of his travels came to Brusa, where Lady Hester had gone for the benefit of the hot baths. He, Mr. Fazakerley, and Mr. Gally Knight would often banter her on her future greatness among the Jews. "Well, madam, you must go to Jerusalem. Hester, Queen of the Jews! Hester, Queen of the Jews!" was echoed from one to another; and probably at last the coincidence of a name, a prophecy, and the country towards which she found herself going, were thought, even by herself, to be something extraordinary. Metta took up the book of fate from that time and showed her the part she was to play in the East. This man, Metta, for some years subsequent to 1815, was in her service as a kind of steward. He was advanced in years, and, like the rest of the Syrians, believed in astrology, spirits, and prophecy. No doubt he perceived in Lady Hester Stanhope a tincture of the same belief; and on some occasion in conversation he said he knew of a book on prophecy which he thought had passages in it that related to her. This book, he persuaded her, could only be had by a fortunate conjunction connected with himself; and he said if she would only lend him a good horse to take him to the place where it was, he would procure her a sight of it, but she was never to ask where he fetched it from. All this exactly suited Lady Hester's love of mystery. A horse was granted to him; he went off and returned with a prophetic volume which he said he could only keep a certain number of hours. It was written in[144] Arabic, and he was to read and explain the text. The part which he propounded was, "That a European female would come and live on Mount Lebanon at a certain epoch, would build a house there, and would obtain power and influence greater than a sultan's; that a boy without a father would join her; that the coming of the Mahedi would follow, but be preceded by war, pestilence, famine, and other calamities; that the Mahedi would ride a horse born saddled, and that a woman would come from a far country to partake in the mission." There were many other incidents besides which were told.

"The boy without a father" was thought by Lady Hester to be the Duke of Reichstadt; but when he died, not at all discountenanced, she fixed on some one else. Another portion of the prophecy was not so disappointing, for in 1835 the Baroness de Feriat, an English lady residing in the United States, wrote of her own accord, asking to come and live with her, "When," remarks the discriminating doctor, "the prophecy was fulfilled." For the fulfilment of the remainder of the prophecy, Lady Hester was resolved at least not to be unprepared. She kept with the greatest care two mares, called Laïla and Lulu; the latter for Lady Hester herself, and the former, which was "born saddled," or in other words of a peculiar hollow-backed breed, was for the Murdah or Mahedi, the coming of whom she had brought herself to expect, by the words of St. John, "There is one shall come after me who is greater than I." These mares she cherished with care equal to that paid by the ancient Egyptians to cats; and she would not allow them to be seen by strangers, except by those whose stars would not be baneful to cattle.


A Hermit of the Sixteenth Century.

A Hermit of the Sixteenth Century.

Hermits and Eremitical Life.

Men have, in most times, withdrawn themselves from the world and taken up their abode in caverns or ruins, or whatever shelter they could find, and lived on herbs, roots, coarse bread and water. In many cases, such persons have deemed these austerities as acceptable to God, and this has[146] become one of the rudest forms of monastic life. It is not from this class of persons that we propose to introduce a few portraits of hermit life, but rather to those whose peculiarities have taken a more eccentric turn, almost in our own time.

The Hon. Charles Hamilton, in the reign of George II., proprietor of Pain's Hill, near Cobham, Surrey, built a hermitage upon a steep brow in the grounds of that beautiful seat. Of this hermitage Horace Walpole remarks that it is a sort of ornament whose merit soonest fades, it being almost comic to set aside a quarter of one's garden to be melancholy in. There is an upper apartment supported in part by contorted logs and roots of trees, which form the entrance to the cell, but the unfurnished and neglected state of the whole proves the justness of Walpole's observation. Mr. Hamilton advertised for a person who was willing to become a hermit in that beautiful retreat of his. The conditions were that he was to continue in the hermitage seven years, where he should be provided with a Bible, optical glasses, a mat for his bed, a hassock for his pillow, an hour-glass for his timepiece, water for his beverage, food from the house, but never to exchange a syllable with the servant. He was to wear a camlet robe, never to cut his beard or nails, nor ever to stray beyond the limits of the grounds. If he lived there, under all these restrictions, till the end of the term, he was to receive seven hundred guineas. But on breach of any of them, or if he quitted the place any time previous to that term, the whole was to be forfeited. One person attempted it, but a three weeks' trial cured him.

A Correspondent of Notes and Queries describes a gentleman near Preston, Lancashire, as more successful in the above eccentricity. He advertised a reward of 50l. a year for life to any man who would undertake to live seven years underground, without seeing anything human; and to let his toe and finger nails grow, with his hair and beard, during the whole time. Apartments were prepared underground,[147] very commodious, with a cold bath, a chamber organ, as many books as the occupier pleased, and provisions served from his own table. Whenever the recluse wanted any convenience he was to ring a bell, and it was provided for him. Singular as this residence may appear, an occupier offered himself, and actually stayed in it, observing the required conditions, for four years.

In the year 1863 there was living in the village of Newton Burgoland, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, a hermit whose real name was scarcely known, though he had resided there nearly fifteen years. Yet he was no recluse, no ascetic, but lived comfortably, and enjoyed his dinner, his beer, and his pipe; and, according to his own definition, he was entitled to be called a hermit. "True hermits," he said, "throughout every age, have been the firm abettors of freedom." As regarded his appearance, his fancies, and his habits, he was a hermit, a solitaire in the midst of human beings. He wore a long beard, and had a very venerable appearance. He was very fantastic in his dress, and had a multitude of suits. He had no less than twenty different kinds of hats, each with its own name and form, with some emblem or motto on it—sometimes both. Here are a few examples:—

No.         Name            Motto or Emblem
1 Odd Fellows Without money, without friends, without
5 Bellows Blow the flames of freedom with God's
word of truth.
7 Helmet Will fight for the birthright of
conscience, love, life, property, and
national independence.
13 Patent Teapot To draw out the flavour of the tea
best—Union and Goodwill.
17 Wash-basin of Reform      White-washed face and collyed heart.
20 The toils of industry are sweet; a wise
people live at peace.


The shapes of the hats and the devices on them were intended to symbolize some important fact or sentiment.

He had twelve suits of clothes, each with a peculiar name, differing from the others, and, like his hats, intended to be emblematical. One dress, which he called "Odd Fellows," was of white cotton or linen. It hung loosely over the body, except being bound round the waist with a white girdle buckled in the front. Over his left breast was a heart-shaped badge, bearing the words, "Liberty of Conscience," which he called his "Order of the Star." The hat which he wore with the dress was nearly white, and of common shape, but had on it four fanciful devices, bound with black ribbon, and inscribed, severally, with these words: "Bless, feed—good allowance—well clothed—all workingmen."

Another dress, which he called "Foresters," was a kind of frock-coat, made of soft brown leather, slightly embroidered with braid. This coat was closed down the front with white buttons, and bound round the waist with a white girdle, fastened with a white buckle. The hat, slightly resembling a turban, was divided into black and white stripes, running round it.

Another dress, which he named "Military," had some resemblance to the military costume at the beginning of the present century; the hat was between the old-fashioned cocked-hat and that worn by military commanders; but, instead of the military plume, it had two upright peaks on the crown, not unlike the tips of a horse's ears. This hat, which he asserted cost five pounds, he never wore but on important occasions.

A mania for symbolization pervaded all his thoughts and doings. His garden was a complete collection of emblems. The trees—the walks—the squares—the beds—the flowers—the seats and arbours—were all symbolically arranged. In the passage leading into the garden were "the three seats of Self-Inquiry," each inscribed with one of these questions:[149] "Am I vile?" "Am I a Hypocrite?" "Am I a Christian?" Among the emblems and mottoes which were marked by different coloured pebbles or flowers were these:—"The vessels of the Tabernacle;" "The Christian's Armour—olive-branch, baptismal-font, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith," &c. "Mount Pisgah;" a circle enclosing the motto, "Eternal Love has wed my Soul;" "A Beehive;" "A Church;" "Sacred Urn;" "Universal Grave;" "Bed of Diamonds;" "A Heart, enclosing the Rose of Sharon." All the Implements used in Gardening: "The two Hearts' Bowers;" "The Lovers' Prayer;" "Conjugal Bliss;" "The Hermit's Coat-of-Arms;" "Gossips' Court," with motto, "Don't tell anybody!" "The Kitchen-walk" contains representations of culinary utensils, with mottoes. "Feast Square" contains, "Venison Pasty;" "Round of Beef," &c. "The Odd Fellows' Square," with "The Hen-pecked Husband put on Water-gruel." "The Oratory," with various mottoes; "The Orchestry," mottoes, "God save our Noble Queen;" "Britons never shall be Slaves," &c. "The Sand-glass of Time;" "The Assembly-room;" "The Wedding-Walk;" "The Holy Mount;" "Noah's Ark;" "Rainbow;" "Jacob's Ladder," &c. "The Bank of Faith;" "The Saloon;" "The Enchanted Ground;" "The Exit"—all with their respective emblems and mottoes. Besides these fantastical devices, there are, or were, in his garden, representations of the Inquisition and Purgatory; effigies of the Apostles; and mounds covered with flowers, to represent the graves of the Reformers. In the midst of the religious emblems stood a large tub, with a queer desk before it, to represent a pulpit. His garden was visited by persons residing in the neighbourhood, when he would clamber into his tub, and harangue the people against all kinds of real or fancied religious and political oppressions. He declaimed vociferously against the Pope as Antichrist and the enemy of humanity; and when he fled from Rome in the guise of a servant, our[150] old hermit decked his head with laurels, and, thus equipped, went to the Independent Chapel, declaring that "the reign of the man of sin was over." He also raised a mock-gallows in his garden, and suspended on it an effigy of the Pope, whimsically dressed, with many books sticking out of his pockets, which, he said, contained the doctrines of Popery. However, these preachings proved very unprofitable; the hermit grew poor, and gladly accepted any assistance which did not require him to relinquish his eccentric mode of living. In his own words, his heart was in his garden. We abridge this account from a contribution to the Book of Days.

It is curious to find many instances of what are termed "Ornamental Hermits," set up by persons of fortune seeking to find men as eccentric as themselves, to represent, as it were, the eremitical life in hermitages provided for them upon their estates.

Archibald Hamilton, afterwards Duke of Hamilton (as his daughter, Lady Dunmore, told Mr. Rogers, the poet), advertised for "a hermit," as an ornament to his pleasure-grounds; and it was stipulated that the said hermit should have his beard shaved but once a year, and that only partially.

Gilbert White, in his poem, The Invitation to Selborne, has these lines:—

Or where the Hermit hangs the straw-clad cell,
Emerging gently from the leafy dell:
By fancy plann'd, &c.

In a note, this hermitage is said to have been a grotesque building, contrived by a young gentleman who used occasionally to appear in the character of a hermit.

Some fancy of this kind at Lulworth Castle, in Dorsetshire, exaggerated or highly coloured by O'Keefe, was supposed to afford him the title and incident of his extravagant but laughable comedy of The London Hermit; or, Rambles in Dorsetshire, first played in 1793.


In Blackwood's Magazine for April, 1830, it is stated by Christopher North, in the Noctes Ambrosianæ, that the then editor of another magazine had been "for fourteen years hermit to Lord Hill's father, and sat in a cave in that worthy baronet's grounds with an hour-glass in his hand, and a beard belonging to an old goat, from sunrise to sunset, with orders to accept no half-crowns from visitors, but to behave like Giordano Bruno." In 1810, a correspondent of Notes and Queries, visiting the grounds at Hawkstone, the seat of the Hills, was shown the hermitage there, with a stuffed figure dressed like the hermits of pictures, seen by a dim light; and the visitors were told that it had been inhabited in the daytime by a poor man, to whom the eccentric but truly benevolent Sir Richard Hill gave a maintenance on that easy condition; but that the popular voice against such slavery had induced the worthy baronet to withdraw the reality and substitute the figure.

A person advertised to be engaged as a hermit, in the Courier, January 11th, 1810: "A young man, who wishes to retire from the world and live as a hermit, in some convenient spot in England, is willing to engage with any nobleman or gentleman who may be desirous of having one. Any letter directed to S. Lawrence (post paid), to be left at Mr. Otton's, No. 6, Coleman's Lane, Plymouth, mentioning what gratuity will be given, and all other particulars, will be duly attended."

In 1840, there died in the neighbourhood of Farnham, in Surrey, a recluse or hermit, who had been originally a wealthy brewer, but becoming bankrupt, wandered about the country, and having spent at an inn what little money he had, took up his abode in the cavern popularly known as "Mother Ludlam's Hole," in Moor Park. The "poor man" did not long avail himself of this ready-made excavation, but chose his resting place just above, in the sandstone rock, upon a spot where a fox had been run to ground and dug out not long since. The hermit occasionally[152] walked out, but was little noticed, although, from the bareness of the trees, his retreat was seen from a distance. He soon excavated for himself twenty-five feet in the sandstone, and about five feet in height, with a shaft to the summit of the hill, for the admission of light and air. Here, in unbroken solitude, with fewer luxuries than Parnell's hermit—

His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well—

our Surrey hermit subsisted almost entirely upon ferns, which abound in this neighbourhood. On January 11th, 1840, he was seen by two labourers, who described him as not having "two pounds of flesh on all his bones." He was carried to the nearest cottage, placed in a warm bath, next wrapped in blankets, and conveyed to the poor-house of Farnham, where he soon died; his last words being, "Do take me to the cave again."

A few miles from Stevenage, and not more than thirty from the metropolis, there was living, not many years since, in strange seclusion, a man of high intellectual powers, in the prime of manhood, and possessing ample means, yet wasting his days in eremitic misery. A Correspondent of the Wolverhampton Chronicle was invited to see this extraordinary character, and here is the result of his visit:—

"I had pictured to my mind a venerable old man, with a beard as white as snow, a massive girdle, and a profusion of books and hour-glass, in a cell of picturesque beauty and neatness. Alas, how soon was I to experience that imagination is one thing and reality another! I shall not venture in future to speculate upon objects so unearthly. At the termination of the road a mansion of no ordinary size met my view, but better and happier times had reigned within; without, all was desolation and ruin; time, that destroyer of all things, had done its work here; every inlet was barricaded by the rude axe and hammer; its portals no mortal had passed for eleven long years; the interior, which was one rich in design and comfort, is now mouldering to[153] decay; no cheering voice is heard within its walls, only the noise of rats and vermin. In tracing my steps to the scene of the hermit's cell, which is situated at the back of the building, and looking through the wooden bars of a window devoid of glass, I perceived a dismal, black, and dirty cellar, with an earth floor; not one vestige of furniture, except a wooden bench and a few bottles, with the remnants of a fire.

"With difficulty, by the faint rays of light admitted into this loathsome den, I could trace a human form, clothed only in a horse rug, leaving his arms, legs, and feet perfectly bare; his hair was prodigiously long, and his beard tangled and matted. On my addressing him he came forward with readiness. I found him a gentleman by education and birth, and most courteous in his manner; he anxiously inquired after several aristocratic families in Staffordshire and adjoining counties. It is evident he had at one period mixed in the first circles, but the secret of his desolate retirement is, and probably ever will remain, a mystery to his neighbours and tenantry, by whom he is supplied with food (chiefly bread and milk). Already eleven weary winters has he passed in this dreary abode, his only bed being two sheepskins, and his sole companions the rats, which may be seen passing to and fro with all the ease of perfect safety. During the whole of his seclusion he has strictly abstained from ablution, consequently his countenance is perfectly black. How much it is to be regretted that a man so gifted as this hermit is known to be should spend his days in dirt and seclusion."

To another class belonged one Roger Crab, a gentleman of fortune, long resident at Bethnal Green, and one of the eccentric characters of the seventeenth century. All that is known of him is gathered from a pamphlet, now very rare, written principally by himself, and entitled, The English Hermit, or Wonder of the Age: by this it appears that he had served seven years in the Parliamentary army, and had his[154] skull cloven in their service, for which he was so ill requited that he was sentenced to death by the Lord Protector, and afterwards suffered two years' imprisonment. When he obtained his release, he opened a shop at Chesham, as a dealer in hats. He had not long been settled there before he imbibed a notion that it was a sin against his body and soul to eat any sort of fish, flesh, or living creature, or to drink wine, ale, or beer. Thinking himself at the same time obliged to follow literally the injunction given to the young man in the Gospel, he quitted business, and disposing of his property, gave it among the poor, reserving to himself only a small cottage at Ickenham, in Middlesex, where he resided; he had a rood of land for a garden, on the produce of which he subsisted at the expense of three farthings a week, his food being bran, herbs, roots, dock-leaves, mallows, and grass; his drink water.

How such an extraordinary change of diet agreed with his constitution, the following passage from his pamphlet will show:—"Instead of strong drinks and wines I give the old man a drop of water; and instead of roast mutton and rabbits, and other dainty dishes, I give him broth thickened with bran, and pudding made with bran, and turnip-leaves chopped together, and grass; at which the old man (meaning my body) being moved, would know what he had done that I used him so hardly; then I showed him his transgression: so the warre began; the law of the old man in my fleshy members rebelled against the law of my mind, and had a shrewed skirmish; but the mind being well enlightened, held it so that the old man grew sick and weak with the flux, like to fall to the dust; but the wonderful love of God, well-pleased with the battle, raised him up again, and filled him with the voice of love, peace, and content of mind, and is now become more humble; for he will eat dock-leaves, mallows, or grasse."

Little is known of Crab's subsequent history, or whether he continued his diet of herbs; but a passage in his epitaph[155] seems to intimate that he never resumed the use of animal food. It is not one of the least extraordinary parts of his history, that he should so long have subsisted on a diet which, by his own account, had reduced him almost to a skeleton in 1655—being twenty-five years previous to his death—in 1680: he is buried in Stepney churchyard.

The Recluses of Llangollen.

Many years ago, there lived together, in romantic seclusion, in the Vale of Llangollen, in Denbighshire, two ladies, remarkable not only for the singularity of their habits and dispositions, but as the daughters of ancient and most distinguished families in the Irish peerage.

Lady Eleanor Butler was the youngest sister of John, sixteenth Earl of Ormonde, and aunt of Walter, seventeenth Earl, who died in 1820. Miss Mary Ponsonby was the daughter of Chambre Ponsonby, Esq., and half-sister to Mrs. Lowther, of Bath.

These two ladies retired at an early age, about the year 1729, from the society of the world to the Vale of Llangollen. Lady Butler had already rejected several offers of marriage, and as her affection for Miss Ponsonby was supposed to have formed the bar to any matrimonial alliance, their friends, in the hope of breaking off so disadvantageous a companionship, proceeded so far as to place the former in close confinement. The youthful friends, however, found means to elope together, but being speedily overtaken, were brought back to their respective relations. Many attempts were renewed to entice Lady Butler into wedlock; but on her solemnly and repeatedly declaring that nothing should induce her to alter her purpose of perpetual maidenhood, her friends desisted from further importuning her.

Not many months after this a second elopement was planned. Each lady taking with her a small sum of money, and having confided the place of their retreat to a confidential[156] servant of the Ormonde family, who was sworn to inviolable secrecy, they deputed her to announce their safety at home, and to request that the trifling annuities allowed them might not be discontinued. The message was received with kindness, and their incomes were even considerably increased.

The Ladies of Llangollen.

The Ladies of Llangollen.


When Miss Seward visited the spot, our heroines had resided in their romantic retirement about seventeen years; yet they were only known to the neighbouring villagers as the Ladies of the Vale. The verses which Miss Seward dedicated to the Recluses, and wherein she celebrated "gay Eleanor's smile," and "Zara's look serene," conclude with this morceau of sentimental affectation:—

May one kind ice-bolt from the mortal stores
Arrest each vital current as it flows,
That no sad course of desolated hours
Here vainly nurse their unsubsiding woes.
While all who honour virtue gently mourn
Llangollen's vanish'd pair, and wreathe their sacred urn.

But they did not vanish for many a long year: they neither married nor died till they were grown too old for the world to care whether they did either or both. On one occasion, indeed, a party of tourists, male and female, unable to procure accommodation at the village inn, requested and obtained admittance at "the cottage," when they proved to be near relatives of Miss Ponsonby. No entreaties, however, could allure their fair cousin from her seclusion.

Lady Eleanor is described as tall, of lively manners, and masculine. She usually wore a riding-habit, and donned her hat with the air of a finished sportsman. Her companion, on the contrary, was fair, pensive, gentle, and effeminate. Their abode was a neat cottage, with about two acres of pleasure-ground. Avoiding every appearance of dissipation or gaiety, they led a life as retired as the situation. Two female servants waited on them, and while Miss Ponsonby superintended the house, my Lady amused herself with the garden. The name of the retreat is Plas Newydd, about a quarter of a mile from Llangollen, hidden among the trees on ascending the Vale behind the church. By some the ladies are said not to have led here a life of absolute seclusion, but to have visited their neighbours and[158] received friends. The cottage was built purposely for them. They died after a life full of good deeds, within eighteen months of each other—Lady Eleanor, June 2nd, 1829, at the patriarchal age of ninety; Miss Ponsonby, December 9th, 1830. Their monument, in Llangollen churchyard, in which they were buried, has three sides, each bearing a touching epitaph; the third to the memory of Mary Carrol, a faithful Irish servant.

Snuff-taking Legacies.

On April 2nd, 1776, there died, at her house in Boyle Street, Burlington Gardens, one Mrs. Margaret Thompson, whose will affords a notable specimen of the ruling passion strong in death. The will is as follows:—"In the name of God, Amen. I, Margaret Thompson, being of sound mind, &c., do desire that when my soul is departed from this wicked world, my body and effects may be disposed of in the manner following: I desire that all my handkerchiefs that I may have unwashed at the time of my decease, after they have been got together by my old and trusty servant, Sarah Stuart, be put by her, and by her alone, at the bottom of my coffin, which I desire may be made large enough for that purpose, together with such a quantity of the best Scotch snuff (in which she knoweth I always had the greatest delight) as will cover my deceased body; and this I desire the more especially as it is usual to put flowers into the coffins of departed friends, and nothing can be so fragrant and refreshing to me as that precious powder. But I strictly charge that no man be suffered to approach my body till the coffin is closed, and it is necessary to carry me to my burial, which I order in the manner following:—

"Six men to be my bearers, who are known to be the greatest snuff-takers in the parish of St. James, Westminster; instead of mourning, each to wear a snuff-coloured beaver hat, which I desire may be bought for that purpose, and given to them. Six maidens of my old acquaintance, viz.[159] &c., to bear my pall, each to bear a proper hood, and to carry a box filled with the best Scotch snuff to take for their refreshment as they go along. Before my corpse, I desire the minister may be invited to walk and to take a certain quantity of the said snuff, not exceeding one pound, to whom also I bequeath five guineas on condition of his so doing. And I also desire my old and faithful servant, Sarah Stuart, to walk before the corpse, to distribute every twenty yards a large handful of Scotch snuff to the ground and upon the crowd who may possibly follow me to the burial-place; on which condition I bequeath her 20l. And I also desire that at least two bushels of the said snuff may be distributed at the door of my house in Boyle Street."

She then particularizes her legacies; and over and above every legacy she desires may be given one pound of good Scotch snuff, which she calls the grand cordial of nature.

Burial Bequests.

In June, 1864, there died at Drogheda one Miss Hardman, at the advanced age of ninety-two years. She was buried in the family vault in Peter's Protestant Church. The funeral took place on the eighth day of her decease. It is not usual in Ireland to allow so long an interval to elapse between the time of a person's death and burial; in this instance it was owing to the expressed wish of the deceased, and this originated in a very curious piece of family and local history. Everybody has heard of the lady who was buried, being supposed dead, and who bearing with her to the tomb, on her finger, a ring of rare price, this was the means of her being rescued from her charnel prison-house. A butler in the family of the lady, having his cupidity excited, entered the vault at midnight in order to possess himself of the ring, and in removing it from the finger the lady was restored to consciousness and made her way in her grave-clothes to her mansion. She lived many years afterwards[160] before she was finally consigned to the vault. The heroine of the story was a member of the Hardman family—in fact, the late Miss Hardman's mother—and the vault in Peter's Church was the locality where the startling revival scene took place.

The story is commonly told in explanation of a monument in the Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, which is commemorative of Constance Whitney, and represents a female rising from a coffin. "This," says Mr. Godwin, in his popular history of the Churches of London, "has been erroneously supposed to commemorate a lady, who, having been buried in a trance, was restored to life through the cupidity of the sexton, which induced him to dig up the body to obtain possession of a ring." The female rising from the coffin is undoubtedly emblematic of the Resurrection, and may have been repeated upon other monuments elsewhere; but there is no such monument at Drogheda, which as above is claimed as the actual locality.

On May 24th, 1837, there died at Primrose Cottage, High Wycombe, Bucks, Mr. John Guy, aged sixty-four. His remains were interred in a brick grave in Hughenden Churchyard: on a marble slab, on the lid of the coffin, is inscribed:

Here, without nail or shroud, doth lie,
Or covered with a pall, John Guy,
Born May 17th, 1773.
Died, „ 24th, 1837.

On his gravestone are the following lines:—

In coffin made without a nail,
Without a shroud his limbs to hide;
For what can pomp or show avail,
Or velvet pall to swell the pride?

Mr. Guy was possessed of considerable property, and was a native of Gloucestershire. His grave and coffin were made under his directions more than a twelvemonth previous[161] to his death; he wrote the inscriptions, he gave the orders for his funeral, and wrapped in separate pieces of paper five shillings for each of the bearers. The coffin was very neatly made, and looked more like a piece of cabinet-work for a drawing-room than a receptacle for the dead.

Dr. Fidge, a physician of the old school, who in early days had accompanied the Duke of Clarence (afterwards William IV.) when a midshipman as medical attendant, possessed a favourite boat; upon his retirement from Portsmouth Dockyard, where he held an appointment, he had this boat converted into a coffin, with the sternpiece fixed at its head. This coffin he kept under his bed for many years. The circumstances of his death were very remarkable. Feeling his end approaching, and desiring to add a codicil to his will, he sent for his solicitor. On entering his chamber he found him suffering from a paroxysm of pain, but which soon ceased; availing himself of the temporary ease to ask him how he felt, he replied, smiling: "I feel as easy as an old shoe," and looking towards the nurse in attendance, said: "Just pull my legs straight, and place me as a dead man; it will save you trouble shortly," words which he had scarcely uttered before he calmly died.

Job Orton, of the Bell Inn, Kidderminster, had his tombstone, with an epitaphic couplet, erected in the parish churchyard; and his coffin was used by him for a wine-bin until required for another purpose.

Dr. John Gardner, "the worm doctor," originally of Long Acre, erected his tomb and wrote the inscription thereon some years before his death. Strangers reading the inscription naturally concluded he was like his predecessor, "Egregious Moore," immortalized by Pope, "food for worms," whereas he was still following his profession, that of a worm-doctor, in Norton Folgate, where he had a shop, in the window of which were displayed numerous bottles containing specimens of tape and other worms, with the names of the persons who had been tormented by them,[162] and the date of their ejection. Finding his practice declining from the false impression conveyed by his epitaph, he dexterously caused the word intended to be interpolated, and the inscription for a long time afterwards ran as follows:—

    Dr. John Gardner's last and best bedroom.

He was a stout, burly man, with a flaxen wig, and rode daily into London on a large roan-coloured horse.

Not a few misers have carried their penury into the arrangements for their interment. Edward Nokes, of Hornchurch, by his own direction, was buried in this curious fashion:—A short time before his death, which he hastened by the daily indulgence in nearly a quart of spirits, he gave strict charge that his coffin should not have a nail in it, which was actually adhered to, the lid being made fast with hinges of cord, and minus a coffin-plate, for which the initials E. N. cut upon the wood were substituted. His shroud was made of a pound of wool. The coffin was covered with a sheet in place of a pall, and was carried by six men, to each of whom he directed should be given half-a-crown. At his particular desire, too, not one who followed him to the grave was in mourning; but, on the contrary, each of the mourners appeared to try whose dress should be the most striking. Even the undertaker was dressed in a blue coat and scarlet waistcoat.

Another deplorable case might be cited, that of Thomas Pitt, of Warwickshire. It is reported that some weeks prior to the sickness which terminated his despicable career, he went to several undertakers in quest of a cheap coffin. He had left behind him 3,475l. in the public funds.


Major Peter Labelliere. From Kingsbury's print.

Major Peter Labelliere. From Kingsbury's print.

Burials on Box Hill and Leith Hill.

As the railway traveller passes over Red Hill, on the London and Brighton line, his attention can scarcely fail to be struck with two prominent points in the charming landscape—Box Hill, covered with its patronymic shrub; and Leith Hill, surmounted by a square tower. On each of these elevations is buried an eccentric person: one with his head downwards, and the other in the usual horizontal position; but the fondness for exaggerating things already[164] extraordinary, has led to the common misstatement that one person is buried with his head downwards, and the other standing upon his feet. Of the two interments, however, the following are the true versions.

On the north-western brow of Box Hill, and nearly in a line with the stream of the Mole, as it flows towards Burford Bridge, was interred, some sixty-five years since, Major Peter Labelliere, an officer of marines. During the latter years of his life he had resided at Dorking, and, in accordance with his own desire, he was interred on this spot, long denoted by a wooden stake or stump. This gentleman in early life fell in love with a lady, who, although he was remarkably handsome in person, rejected his addresses. This circumstance inflicted a deep wound on his mind, which, at a later period, religion and politics entirely unsettled. Yet his eccentricities were harmless, and himself the only sufferer. At this time the Duke of Devonshire, who had been formerly fond of the major's society, settled on him a pension of 100l. a year. Labelliere then lived at Chiswick, and there wrote several tracts, both polemical and political, but the incoherency of his arguments was demonstrative of mental incapacity. From Chiswick he frequently walked to London, his pockets filled to overflowing with newspapers and pamphlets, and on the road he delighted to harangue the ragged boys who followed him. He next removed to Dorking, and there resided in a mean cottage, called "The Hole in the Wall," on Butter Hill. Among the anecdotes of his eccentricity it is related that, to a gentleman with whom he was intimate he presented a packet, carefully folded and sealed, with a particular injunction not to open it till after his death. This request was strictly complied with, when it was found to contain merely a blank memorandum-book.

Long prior to his decease he selected the point of Box-Hill we have named, where, in compliance with his oft-expressed wish, he was buried, without church rites, with his[165] head downwards; in order, he said, that as "the world was turned topsy-turvy, it was fit that he should be so buried that he might be right at last."[19] He died June 6th, 1800, and was interred on the 10th of the same month, when great numbers of persons witnessed his funeral; and the slight wooden bridge which then crossed the Mole having been removed by some mischievous persons during the interment many had to wade through the river on returning homewards. The Major earned not the uncommon reward of eccentricity—his portrait being engraved—by H. Kingsbury. Under Labelliere's name is inscribed in the print—

"A Christian patriot and Citizen of the World."

The interment on Leith Hill is less characterised by oddity than that of Major Labelliere on Box Hill. In a mansion on the south side of Leith Hill lived Mr. Richard Hull, a gentleman of fortune, who, in 1766, with the permission of Sir John Evelyn, of Wotton, built a tower on the summit of Leith Hill, from which the sea is visible, and it became a landmark for mariners. It comprised two rooms, which were handsomely furnished by the founder, for the accommodation of those who resorted thither to enjoy the prospect. Over the entrance, on the west side, was placed a stone with a Latin inscription, which may be thus translated: "Traveller, this very conspicuous tower was erected by Richard Hull, of Leith Hill Place, Esq., in the reign of George III., 1766, that you might obtain an extensive prospect over a beautiful country; not solely for his own pleasure, but for the accommodation of his neighbours and all men."

Mr. Hull, was, by his own direction, interred within this tower, and an epitaph inscribed on a marble slab let into[166] the wall, on the ground-floor, stated that he died January 18th, 1772, in his eighty-third year. He was the oldest bencher of the Middle Temple, and sat many years in the Parliament of Ireland. He lived, in his earlier years, in intimacy with Pope, Trenchard, Bishop Berkeley, and other distinguished men of the period; "and, to wear off the remainder of his days, he purchased Leith Hill Place for a retirement, where he led the life of a true Christian and rural philosopher; and, by his particular desire, his remains were here deposited, in a private manner, under this tower, which he had erected a few years before his death."

After the decease of the founder, the building was neglected, and suffered to fall into decay; but about 1796, Mr. W. Philip Perrin, who had purchased Mr. Hull's estate, had the tower thoroughly repaired, heightened several feet, and surmounted by a coping and battlement, so as to render it a more conspicuous sea-mark; but the lower part was filled in with lime and rubbish, and the entrance walled up. Leith Hill is the highest eminence in Surrey, its extreme point being 993 feet above the sea-level. It commands a view 200 miles in circumference. Dennis, the critic, described this prospect as superior to anything he had ever seen in England or Italy, in its surpassing "rural charms, pomp, and magnificence."

Jeremy Bentham's Bequest of his Remains.

Bentham's long life was incessantly and laboriously devoted to the good of his species: in pursuance of which he ever felt that incessant labour a happy task, that long life but too short for its benevolent object. The preservation of his remains by his physician and friend, to whose care they were confided, was in exact accordance with his own desire. He had early in life determined to leave his body for dissection. By a document dated as far back as 1769, he[167] being then only twenty two-years of age, bequeathed it for that purpose to his friend, Dr. Fordyce. The document is in the following remarkable words:—

"This my will and general request I make, not out of affectation of singularity, but to the intent and with the desire that mankind may reap some small benefit in and by my decease, having hitherto had small opportunities to contribute thereto while living."

A memorandum affixed to this document shows that it had undergone Bentham's revision two months before his death, and that this part of it had been solemnly ratified and confirmed. The Anatomy Bill, passed subsequently to his death, for which a foundation had been laid in The Use of the Dead to the Living (first published in the Westminster Review, and afterwards reprinted, and a copy given to every member of Parliament), had removed the main obstructions in the way of obtaining anatomical knowledge; but the state of the law previous to the adoption of the Anatomy Act was such as to foster the popular prejudices against dissection, and the effort to remove these prejudices was well worthy of a philanthropist. After all the lessons which science and humanity might learn from the dissection of his body had been taught, Bentham further directed that the skeleton should be put together and kept entire; that the head and face should be preserved; that the whole figure, arranged as naturally as possible, should be attired in the clothes he ordinarily wore, seated in his own chair, and maintaining the attitude and aspect most familiar to him.

Mr. Bentham was perfectly aware that difficulty and even obloquy might attend a compliance with the directions he gave concerning the disposal of his body. He therefore chose three friends, whose firmness he believed to be equal to the task, and asked them if their affection for him would enable them to brave such consequences. They engaged to follow his directions to the letter, and they were faithful to[168] their pledge. The performance of the first part of this duty is thus described by an eye-witness, W. J. Fox, in the Monthly Repository for July, 1832:—

"None who were present can ever forget that impressive scene. The room (the lecture-room of the Webb Street School of Anatomy) is small and circular, with no window but a central sky-light, and capable of containing about three hundred persons. It was filled, with the exception of a class of medical students and some eminent members of that profession, by friends, disciples, and admirers of the deceased philosopher, comprising many men celebrated for literary talent, scientific research, and political activity. The corpse was on the table in the middle of the room, directly under the light, clothed in a night-dress, with only the head and hands exposed. There was no rigidity in the features, but an expression of placid dignity and benevolence. This was at times rendered almost vital by the reflection of the lightning playing over them; for a storm arose just as the lecturer commenced, and the profound silence in which he was listened to was broken and only broken by loud peals of thunder, which continued to roll at intervals throughout the delivery of his most appropriate and often affecting address. With the feelings which touch the heart in the contemplation of departed greatness, and in the presence of death, there mingled a sense of the power which that lifeless body seemed to be exercising in the conquest of prejudice for the public good, thus co-operating with the triumphs of the spirit by which it had been animated. It was a worthy close of the personal career of the great philanthropist and philosopher. Never did corpse of hero on the battle-field, 'with his martial cloak around him,' or funeral obsequies chanted by stoled and mitred priests in Gothic aisles, excite such emotions as the stern simplicity of that hour in which the principle of utility triumphed over the imagination and the heart."

The skeleton of Bentham, dressed in the clothes which[169] he usually wore, and with a wax face, modelled by Dr. Talrych, enclosed in a mahogany case, with folding-doors, may now be seen in the Anatomical Museum of University College Hospital, Gower Street, London.

The Marquis of Anglesey's Leg.

Among the curiosities of Waterloo are the grave of the late Marquis of Anglesey's leg, and the house in which it was cut off, and where the boot belonging to it is preserved! The owner of the house to whose share this relic has fallen finds it a most lucrative source of revenue, and will, in spite of the absurdity of the thing, probably bequeath it to his children as a valuable property. He has interred the leg most decorously in the garden of the inn, within a coffin, under a weeping willow, and has honoured it with a monument and the following epitaph:—

Ci est enterrée la Jambe
de l'illustre et vaillant Comte d'Uxbridge,
Lieutenant-Général de S. M. Britannique,
Commandant en chef la cavalrie Anglaise, Belge, et Hollandaise,
blessé le 18 Juin, 1815,
à la mémorable bataille de Waterloo;
qui par son héroisme a concouru au triomphe de la cause
du genre humain;
Glorieusement décidée par l'éclatante victoire du dit jour.

Some wag scribbled this infamous couplet beneath the inscription:—

Here lies the Marquis of Anglesey's limb,
The devil will have the rest of him.

More apposite is the following epitaph, attributed to Mr. Canning, on reading the description of the tomb erected to the memory of the Marquis of Anglesey's leg:—

Here rests,—and let no saucy knave
Presume to sneer or laugh,
To learn that mould'ring in this grave
There lies—a British calf.
[170] For he who writes these lines is sure
That those who read the whole,
Will find that laugh was premature,
For here, too, lies a soul.
And here five little ones repose,
Twin born with other five,
Unheeded by their brother toes,
Who all are now alive.
A leg and foot, to speak more plain,
Lie here of one commanding;
Who, though he might his wits retain,
Lost half his understanding.
And when the guns, with thunder bright,
Poured bullets thick as hail,
Could only in this way be taught
To give the foe leg bail.
And now in England just as gay
As in the battle brave,
Goes to the rout, the ball, the play,
With one leg in the grave.
Fortune in vain has showed her spite,
For he will soon be found,
Should England's sons engage in fight,
Resolved to stand his ground.
But Fortune's pardon I must beg;
She meant not to disarm:
And when she lopped the hero's leg,
She did not seek his h-arm.
And but indulged a harmless whim,
Since he could walk with one:
She saw two legs were lost on him,
Who never meant to run.

When the Marquis of Anglesey was, for the second time, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he became very unpopular through an unguarded speech; and Mr. O'Connell, in one of his flowery addresses, quoted the lines:—


God takes the good, too good on earth to stay;
And leaves the bad, too bad to take away.

The great orator continued:—

This couplet's truth in Paget's case we find;
God took his leg, and left himself behind.

Of a ballad sung in the streets of Dublin, the chorus ran as follows:—

He has one leg in Dublin, the other in Cork,
And you know very well what I mean, O!

It was stated that he had an artificial leg in Cork.

The Cottle Church.

"For more than twenty years," says Mr. De Morgan in his "Budget of Paradoxes"[20] in the Athenæum, 1865, "printed papers have been sent about in the name of Elizabeth Cottle. It is not so remarkable that such papers should be concocted, as that they should circulate for such a length of time without attracting public attention. Eighty years ago, Mrs. Cottle might have rivalled Lieutenant Brothers or Joanna Southcote. Long hence, when the now current volumes of our journals are well ransacked works of reference, those who look into them will be glad to see this feature of our time: I therefore make a few extracts, faithfully copied as to type. The Italic is from the new Testament; the Roman is the requisite interpretation:—

"Robert Cottle 'was numbered (5196) with the transgressors' at the back of the Church in Norwood Cemetery, May 12, 1858—Isa. liii. 12. The Rev. J. G. Collinson, Minister of St. James's Church, Clapham, the then district church, before All Saints was built, read the funeral service over the Sepulchre wherein never before man was laid.


"Hewn on the stone, 'at the mouth of the sepulchre,' is his name—Robert Cottle, born at Bristol, June 2, 1774; died at Kirkstall Lodge, Clapham Park, May 6, 1858. And that day (May 12, 1858) was the preparation (day and year for 'the PREPARED place for you'—Cottleites—by the widowed mother of the Father's house, at Kirkstall Lodge—John xiv. 2, 3). And the Sabbath (Christmas Day, December 25, 1859) drew on (for the resurrection of the Christian body on 'the third [Protestant Sun]-day'—1 Cor. xv. 35). Why seek ye the living (God of the New Jerusalem—Heb. xii. 22; Rev. iii. 12) among the dead (men): he (the God of Jesus) is not here (in the grave), but is risen (in the person of the Holy Ghost, from the supper, of 'the dead in the second death' of Paganism). Remember how he spake unto you (in the Church of the Rev. George Clayton, April 14, 1839). I will not drink henceforth (at this last Cottle supper) of the fruit of this (Trinity) vine, until that day (Christmas Day, 1859), when I (Elizabeth Cottle) drank it new with you (Cottleites) in my Father's kingdom—John xv. If this (Trinitarian) cup may not pass away from me (Elizabeth Cottle, April 14, 1839), except I drink it ('new with you Cottleites, in my Father's kingdom'), thy will be done—Matt. xxvi. 29, 42, 64. 'Our Father which art (God) in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy (Cottle) kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is (done) in (the new) Heaven (and new earth of the new name of Cottle—Rev. xxi. 1; iii. 12).

"... (Queen Elizabeth, from A. D. 1558 to 1566). And this WORD yet once more (by a second Elizabeth)—the WORD of his oath, signifieth (at John Scott's baptism of the Holy Ghost) the removing of those things (those Gods and those doctrines) that are made (according the Creeds and Commandments of men) that those things (in the moral law of God) which cannot be shaken (as a rule of faith and practice) may remain; wherefore we receiving (from Elizabeth) a kingdom (of God) which cannot be moved (by Satan) let us have grace (in his grace of Canterbury) whereby we may serve God acceptably (with the acceptable sacrifice of Elizabeth's body and blood of the communion of the Holy Ghost) with reverence (for truth) and godly fear (of the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost), for our God (the Holy Ghost) is a consuming fire (to the nation that will not serve him in the Cottle Church). We cannot defend ourselves against the Almighty, and if He is our defence, no nation can invade us.

"In verse 4 the Church of St. Peter is in prison between four quaternions of Soldiers—the Holy Alliance of 1815. Rev. vii. 1. Elizabeth, the Angel of the Lord Jesus appears to the Jewish and Christian body with the vision of prophecy to the Rev. Geo. Clayton and his clerical brethren, April 8th, 1839. Rhoda was the name of her maid[173] at Putney Terrace who used to open the door to her Peter, the Rev. Robert Ashton, the Pastor of 'the little flock' 'of 120 names together, assembled in an upper (school) room' at Putney Chapel, to which little flock she gave the revelation (Acts i. 13, 15) of Jesus the same King of the Jews yesterday at the prayer meeting, December 31, 1841, and to-day, January 1, 1842, and for ever. See book of Life, page 24. Matt. xviii. 19; xxi. 13-16. In verse 6 the Italian body of St. Peter is sleeping 'in the second death' between the two Imperial soldiers of France and Austria. The Emperor of France from January 1 to July 11, 1859, causes the Italian chains of St. Peter to fall off from his Imperial hands.

"I say unto thee, Robert Ashton, thou art Peter, a stone, and upon this rock, of truth, will I Elizabeth, the Angel of Jesus, build my Cottle Church, and the gates of hell, the doors of St. Peter at Rome, shall not prevail against it—Matt. xvi. 18; Rev. iii. 7-12."

"This will be enough for the purpose. When anyone who pleases can circulate new revelations of this kind, uninterrupted and unattended to, new revelations will cease to be a good investment of eccentricity. I take it for granted that the gentlemen whose names are mentioned have nothing to do with the circulars or their doctrines. Any lady who may happen to be entrusted with a revelation may nominate her own pastor, or any other clergyman, one of her apostles; and it is difficult to say to what court the nominees can appeal to get the commission abrogated.

"March 16, 1865. During the last two years the circulars have continued. It is hinted that funds are low; and two gentlemen, who are represented as gone 'to Bethelem asylum in despair,' say that Mrs. Cottle will 'spend all that she hath, while Her Majesty's ministers are flourishing on the wages of sin.' The following is perhaps one of the most remarkable passages in the whole:—

"Extol and magnify Him (Jehovah, the everlasting God, see the Magnificat and Luke i. 45, 46-68-73-79), that rideth (by rail and steam over land and sea, from his holy habitation at Kirkstall Lodge, Psa. lxxvii. 19, 20), upon the (Cottle) heavens as it were (September 9, 1864, see pages 21, 170), upon an (exercising, Psa. cxxxi. 1), horse-(chair, bought of Mr. John Ward, Leicester Square)."


Horace Walpole's Chattels saved by a Talisman.

In the spring of 1771, Walpole's house in Arlington Street was broken open in the night, and his cabinets and trunks forced and plundered. The Lord of Strawberry was at his villa when he received by a courier the intelligence of the burglary. In an admirable letter to Sir Horace Mann he thus narrates the sequel:—"I was a good quarter of an hour before I recollected that it was very becoming to have philosophy enough not to care about what one does care for; if you don't care there's no philosophy in bearing it. I despatched my upper servant, breakfasted, fed the bantams as usual, and made no more hurry to town than Cincinnatus would if he had lost a basket of turnips. I left in my drawers 270l. of bank-bills and three hundred guineas, not to mention all my gold and silver coins, some inestimable miniatures, a little plate, and a good deal of furniture, under no guard but that of two maidens.... When I arrived, my surprise was by no means diminished. I found in three different chambers three cabinets, a large chest, and a glass case of china wide open, the locks not picked, but forced, and the doors of them broken to pieces. You will wonder that this should surprise me when I had been prepared for it. Oh! the miracle was that I did not find, nor to this hour have found, the least thing missing. In the cabinet of modern medals, there were, and so there are still, a series of English coins, with downright John Trot guineas, half-guineas, shillings, sixpences, and every kind of current money. Not a single piece was removed. Just so in the Roman and Greek cabinet; though in the latter were some drawers of papers, which they had tumbled and scattered about the floor. A great exchequer chest, that belonged to my father, was in the same room. Not being able to force the lock, the philosophers (for thieves that steal nothing deserve the title much more than Cincinnatus, or I) had[175] wrenched a great flapper of brass with such violence as to break it into seven pieces. The trunk contained a new set of chairs of French tapestry, two screens, rolls of prints, and a suit of silver stuff that I had made for the king's wedding. All was turned topsy-turvy, and nothing stolen. The glass case and cabinet of shells had been handled as roughly by these impotent gallants. Another little table with drawers, in which, by the way, the key was left, had been opened too, and a metal standish that they ought to have taken for silver, and a silver hand-candlestick that stood upon it, were untouched. Some plate in the pantry, and all my linen just come from the wash had no more charms for them than gold or silver. In short I could not help laughing, especially as the only two movables neglected were another little table with drawers and the money, and a writing box with the bank-notes, both in the same chamber where they made the first havoc. In short, they had broken out a panel in the door of the area, and unbarred and unbolted it, and gone out at the street-door, which they left wide open at five o'clock in the morning. A passenger had found it so, and alarmed the maids, one of whom ran naked into the street, and by her cries waked my Lord Rommey, who lives opposite. The poor creature was in fits for two days, but at first, finding my coachmaker's apprentice in the street, had sent him to Mr. Conway, who immediately despatched him to me before he knew how little damage I had received, the whole of which consists in repairing the doors and locks of my cabinets and coffers.

"All London is reasoning on this marvellous adventure, and not an argument presents itself that some other does not contradict. I insist that I have a talisman. You must know that last winter, being asked by Lord Vere to assist in settling Lady Betty Germaine's auction I found in an old catalogue of her collection this article, 'The Black Stone into which Dr. Dee used to call his spirits.' Dr. Dee, you must[176] know, was a great conjuror in the days of Queen Elizabeth and has written a folio of the dialogues he held with his imps. I asked eagerly for this stone; Lord Vere said he knew of no such thing, but if found, it should certainly be at my service. Alas, the stone was gone! This winter I was again employed by Lord Frederic Campbell, for I am an absolute auctioneer, to do him the same service about his father's (the Duke of Argyle's) collection. Among other odd things he produced a round piece of shining black marble in a leathern case, as big as the crown of a hat, and asked me what that possibly could be? I screamed out, 'Oh Lord, I am the only man in England that can tell you! It is Dr. Dee's Black Stone!' It certainly is; Lady Betty had formerly given away or sold, time out of mind, for she was a thousand years old, that part of the Peterborough collection which contained natural philosophy. So, or since, the Black Stone had wandered into an auction, for the lotted paper is still on it. The Duke of Argyle, who bought everything, bought it. Lord Frederic gave it to me; and if it was not this magical stone, which is only of high-polished coal, that preserved my chattels, in truth I cannot guess what did."

At the Strawberry Hill sale, in 1842, this precious relic was sold for 12l. 12s., and is now in the British Museum. It was described in the catalogue as "a singularly interesting and curious relic of the superstition of our ancestors—the celebrated Speculum of Kennel Coal, highly polished, in a leathern case. It is remarkable for having been used to deceive the mob, by the celebrated Dr. Dee, the conjuror, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth," &c. When Dee fell into disrepute, and his chemical apparatus and papers and other stock-in-trade were destroyed by the mob, who made an attack upon his house, this Black Stone was saved. It appears to be nothing more than a polished piece of cannel coal; but this is what Butler means when he says:—

Kelly did all his feats upon
The devil's looking glass—a stone.


Margaret Finch, the Norwood Gipsy.

Margaret Finch, the Norwood Gipsy.

Norwood Gipsies.

Two centures ago, Norwood, in Surrey, was celebrated as the haunt of many of the gipsy-tribe, who in the summertime pitched their blanket-tents beneath its shady trees. Thus we find Pepys recording a visit to the place, under the date of August 11th, 1688:—"This afternoon my wife, and Mercer, and Deb. went with Pelling to the gipsies at[178] Lambeth, and had their fortunes told; but what they did I did not inquire." [Norwood is in the southern part of Lambeth parish.]

From their reputed knowledge of futurity, the Norwood gipsies were often consulted by the young and credulous. This was particularly the case some sixty or seventy years ago, when it was customary among the working class and servants of London to walk to Norwood on the Sunday afternoon to have their fortunes told, and also to take refreshment at the Gipsy House, said to have been first licensed in the reign of James the First. The house long bore on its sign-post a painting of the deformed figure of Margaret Finch, the Queen of the gipsies.

The register of Beckenham, under the date of October 24th, 1740, records the burial of Margaret Finch, who lived to the age of 109 years. After travelling over various parts of the kingdom (during the greater part of a century), she settled at Norwood, whither her great age and the fame of her fortune-telling attracted numerous visitors. From a habit of sitting on the ground, with her chin resting on her knees, the sinews became so contracted that she could not rise from that posture. After her death they were obliged to enclose her body in a deep square box. Her funeral was attended by two mourning-coaches, a sermon was preached on the occasion, and a great concourse of people attended the ceremony. There is an engraved portrait of this gipsy queen, from a drawing made in 1739.

In the summer of 1815, the gipsies of Norwood were "apprehended as vagrants, and sent in three coaches to prison," and this magisterial interference, and the increase of houses and population, have long since driven the gipsies from their haunts; but the association is preserved in the Gipsy Hill station of the Crystal Palace Railway.


"Cunning Mary," of Clerkenwell.

Early in the seventeenth century, one Mary Woods, of Norwich, a person who professed skill in palmistry, came to London in the way of her vocation, and lodged at the house of one Crispe, a barber, in Clerkenwell. Having received such a valuable inmate, the barber soon afterwards removed "Cunning Mary" and her husband to the more fashionable neighbourhood of the Strand, and there the barber became a willing agent in procuring subjects or patients for his female lodger. One branch of her business consisted in furnishing ladies who desired to become mothers with charms and medicines which would assist them in attaining their end. In the next house to Somerset Place dwelt a Mrs. Isabel Peel, wife of a tradesman, who to her great grief was childless. The barber, at his lodger's suggestion, whispered in her ear, that the very skilful person who was an inmate of his house could provide her with means to help forward her desires. An interview was arranged, and by "fair speech and cozening skill" Mary Woods persuaded Mrs. Peel of her power, but demanded no less a sum than twenty pounds for its exercise. In cash, the amount was beyond the patient's means, but she delivered to her adviser "two lawn and other wrotte (wrought) wares," and received in return a small portion of an infallible powder, which the cunning woman sewed in a little piece of taffeta, and bade the aspirant after maternity wear it round her neck.

The news that a woman of such marvellous skill had come to lodge in Westminster soon spread. Anxious ladies in many of the neighbouring mansions sent for her, and she specially got a footing in Salisbury House. Mrs. Jane Sacheverell, who attended on Lady Cranborne, was one of her victims. The Countess of Essex had several interviews with her in the same friendly mansion, and gave her a diamond ring worth fifty or sixty pounds, sent by her husband the Earl, out of France, with directions to pawn it, in order[180] to procure a portion of the infallible powder, "which was very costly." The Countess also bestowed upon Mrs. Woods "certain pieces of gold worth between thirty and forty pounds." When the affair was called in question, Mrs. Woods asserted that the Countess gave her these things to procure "a kind of poison that would be in a man's body three or four days without swelling," and that this poison was to be given to the Earl of Essex. But Mrs. Woods was an infamous person, whose uncorroborated assertion was worth nothing, and she had previously mentioned to Mrs. Peel that her employment by the Countess had relation merely to the child-giving powder.

Mrs. Woods possessed other faculties besides those with reference to which she was consulted by Mrs. Peel and Mrs. Sacheverell. She could "help" ladies to husbands, and "cause and procure whom they desired to have, to love them." On this branch of her business she was consulted by Mrs. Cooke, Lady Walden's gentlewoman, who gave her twenty pounds and more, in twenty-shilling pieces of gold; and, finally, also, by Mrs. Clare, who is described as lying in the Court at Whitehall, and as being a waiting gentlewoman in attendance upon the young Lady Windsor. Mrs. Clare, like several other of the ladies named, had no ready money, but the fees paid by her were very handsome. They comprised a standing cup and cover of silver gilt, worth fourteen pounds; a petticoat of velvet, layed with three silver laces, that cost forty pounds; and two diamond rings, the one worth twenty pounds, and the other five pounds.

After the bubble had burst, and Cunning Mary absconded with her plunder, Mrs. Peel says that she "ripped the taffeta to see what powder it was, and found it but a little dust swept out of the flower (floor?)."[21]


Jerusalem Whalley.

Mr. Whalley was elected for Newcastle, 1785, before he was of age, which was not unusual in Ireland, and sat for it to 1790, and for Enniscorthy from 1797 to June, 1800. He acquired the sobriquet of Jerusalem Whalley in consequence of a bet, said to have been 20,000l., that he would walk (except where a sea-passage was unavoidable) to Jerusalem and back within twelve months. He started September 22, 1788, and returned June 1, 1789.

Lord Cloncurry describes Whalley as a perfect specimen of the Irish gentleman of the olden time. Gallant, reckless, and profuse, he made no account of money, limb, or life, when a feat was to be won, or a daring deed to be attempted. He spent a fine fortune in pursuits not more profitable than his expedition to play ball at Jerusalem; and rendered himself a cripple for life by jumping from the drawing-room window of Daly's club-house, in College Green, Dublin, on to the roof of a hackney-coach which was passing.

The lawless behaviour of the yeomanry corps which he commanded obtained for him another and less agreeable appellation, "Bever-chapel Whalley." His residence in Stephen's Green was, in 1855, converted into a nunnery. Sir Jonah Barrington states that 4,000l. was paid to Mr. Whalley by Mr. Gould, M.P. for Kilbeggan.

Whalley, "Buck Whalley" as he was sometimes called, is stated to have been the founder of the Hell-fire Club. Having a taste for the fine arts, and means to gratify it, he accumulated a large number of valuable paintings in his mansion at Stephen's Green, Dublin, of which the following account has appeared in the Dublin University Magazine:—"In the centre of the south side of St. Stephen's Green stands a noble building, with a large stone lion reposing over the entrance, and finding his legs and tail encroached on by grass and weeds. This mansion belonged to the great Buck Whalley, and witnessed many a noble feast and[182] mad carouse during the viceroyalty of the Duke of Buckingham. At last, when all the pleasures that could be procured on Irish land were tried, and found to result in satiety and disgust, and his tailor and wine-merchant began to disturb him, he sought new excitement in his wager that he would have a game of ball against the walls of Jerusalem; and he succeeded, as already stated. A bard, who contributed to a collection of political squibs, entitled, Both Sides of the Gutter, sang the going forth of the expedition: it is entitled, Whalley's Embarkation, to the tune of 'Rutland Gigg.'"

Father Mathew and the Temperance Movement.

No great cause was ever inaugurated with more eccentric or more genuine fervour than the advocacy of the Temperance principles by Father Mathew, the Capuchin Friar. "Here goes in the name of God!" said the Father, on the 10th of April, 1838, when he pledged his name in the cause of Temperance, and, together with the Protestant priest, Charles Duncombe, the Unitarian philanthropist, Richard Dowden, and the stout Quaker, William Martin, publicly inaugurated a movement at Cork, destined in a few years to count its converts by millions, and to spread its influence as far as the English language was spoken. In this good work, the habitually impulsive temperament of the Irish was acted upon for the purest and most beneficial of purposes; and one element of its success lay in the unselfishness of the Father, who was himself a serious sufferer by the results of his philanthropic exertions. A distillery in the south of Ireland, belonging to his family, and from which he himself derived a large income, was shut up in consequence of the disuse of whisky among the lower orders, occasioned by his preaching. But his "Riverance" was most unscrupulously tyrannized over by his servant John, a wizened old bachelor, with a red nose, privately nourished[183] by Bacchus; and he was only checked in his evil doings when the Father, more exasperated than usual, exclaimed, "John, if you go on in this way, I must certainly leave this house." On one occasion, there was a frightful smack of whisky pervading the pure element which graced the board, which he accounted for by saying he had placed the forbidden liquid, with which he "cleaned his tins," in the jug by mistake.

The Temperance cause prospered, but Father Mathew, through his eccentric love of giving, found it impossible to keep out of debt, which ever kept him in thraldom. The hour of his deepest bitterness was when, while publicly administering the pledge in Dublin, he was arrested for the balance of an account due to a medal manufacturer; the bailiff to whom the duty was entrusted kneeling down among the crowd, asking his blessing, and then quietly showing him the writ.

This is one of the many anecdotes told by Mr. Maguire, in his admirable Life of Father Mathew, who, we learn from the same authority, at a large party attempted to make a convert of Lord Brougham, who resisted, good-humouredly but resolutely, the efforts of his dangerous neighbour. "I drink very little wine," said Lord Brougham; "only half-a-glass at luncheon, and two half glasses at dinner; and though my medical adviser told me I should increase the quantity, I refused to do so." "They are wrong, my lord, for advising you to increase the quantity, and you are wrong in taking the small quantity you do; but I have my hopes of you." And so, after a pleasant resistance on the part of the learned lord, Father Mathew invested his lordship with the silver medal and ribbon, the insignia and collar of the Order of the Bath. "Then I will keep it," said Lord Brougham, "and take it to the House, where I shall be sure to meet the old Lord —— the worse of liquor, and I will put it on him." Lord Brougham was as good as his word; for, on meeting the veteran peer, he said: "Lord ——, I[184] have a present from Father Mathew for you," and passed the ribbon quietly over his neck. "Then I'll tell you what it is, Brougham, by —— I will keep sober for this day," said his lordship, who kept his word, to the great amusement of his friends.

Edward Irving.

Edward Irving.

Eccentric Preachers.

Scores, nay, hundreds of volumes have been gathered upon the oddities of character which mankind, in all ages,[185] have presented to the observant writer who loves to "shoot folly as it flies." Voltaire has said, "Every country has its foolish notions.... Let us not laugh at any people;" and it would be difficult to find any age which has not its curiosities of character, to be laughed at and turned to still better account; for, of whatever period we write, something may be done in the way of ridicule towards turning the popular opinion. Diogenes owes much of his celebrity to his contempt of comfort, by living in a tub, and his oddity of manner. Orator Henley preached from his "gilt tub" in Clare Market, and thus earned commemoration in the Dunciad:—

Still break the benches, Henley, with thy strain,
While Sherlock, Hare and Gibson preach in vain;
O, worthy thou of Egypt's wise abodes,
A decent priest, where monkeys were the gods!
But Fate with butchers placed thy priestly stall,
Meek modern faith to murder, hack, and haul.

Eccentricity has its badge and characteristics by which it gains distinction and notoriety, and which in some cases serve as a lure to real excellence. The preaching of Rowland Hill is allowed to have been excellent; but his great popularity was won by his eccentric manner, and the many piquant anecdotes and witticisms, and sallies of humour unorthodox, with which, during his long ministry, he interlarded his sermons. However, he thought the end justified the means; and certain it is that it drew very large congregations. The personal allusions to his wife, which Rowland Hill is related to have used in the pulpit, were, however, fictitious, and at which Hill expressed great indignation. "It is an abominable untruth," he would exclaim; "derogatory to my character as a Christian and a gentleman. They would make me out a bear."

The success of Edward Irving, the popular minister of the National Scotch Church in London, was of a more mixed character. It is stated, upon good authority, that he[186] first chose the stage as a profession, and acted in Ryder's company, in Kirkaldy, a few miles from Edinburgh, about fifty-five years since. The obliquity of his vision, his dialect, and peculiarly awkward gait and manner, created so much derision, that he left the stage for the pulpit, after about three months' probation.

Irving's sermons were not liked at first; and it was not until he was recognised by Dr. Chalmers that Irving became popular. But he was turned out of his church, and treated as a madman, and he died an outcast heretic. "There was no harm in the man," says a contemporary, "and what errors he entertained, or extravagancies he allowed in connection with supposed miraculous gifts, were certain in due time to burn themselves out." It was not so much the error of his doctrine as the peculiarity of his manner, the torrent of his eloquence, his superlative want of tact, that provoked his enemies, and frightened his friends. The strength of his faith was wonderful. Once, when he was called to the bedside of a dying man late at night he went immediately. Presently he returned, and beckoned one of his friends to accompany him. The reason was, that he really believed in the efficacy of prayer, and held to the promise—"If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that ye shall ask, it shall be done." It was necessary, therefore, that two should go to the sick man. So, also, he had a child that died in infancy, to whom he was in the habit of addressing "words of godliness, to nourish the faith that was in him." And Irving adds that the patient heed of the child was wonderful. He really believed that the infant, by some incomprehensible process, could guess what he was saying, and profit by it. His love for children was very great; and he, a very popular man in London, might be seen, day by day, marching along the streets of Pentonville of an afternoon, his wife by his side, and his baby in his arms.

His sermons had a large sale, going through many[187] editions. But Irving complains that, in spite of these large sales, he could never get the religious publishers to whom he had entrusted his book to give him anything but a pitiful return. It is amusing to find him in one letter complaining that there is neither grace nor honour in the religious booksellers, and requesting his wife in negotiating the sale of his next venture to "try Blackwood, or some of these worldlings," in the evident expectation that "these worldlings" were a good deal more liberal in their dealings, not to say honest, than those whom he regarded as his peculiar friends.

Irving a Millenarian.

The Millenarians proudly claim the late Edward Irving as having been one of the most earnest believers in the personal reign of Christ. In his latter days he was a Millenarian in the strictest sense of the word. From the year 1827 to 1830, the Millenarianism question was brought under the notice of thousands of Christians, who, though remarkable for their knowledge of Scripture on other points, had never bestowed a single thought on the question of Christ's personal reign on earth. The cause of this was the prominence given to it by the Rev. E. Irving, then at the summit of his popularity. Solely with the generous view of assisting a Spanish friend, he had, in the previous year, studied the Spanish language, and had made such progress as to be able to translate it into English. Just at this time appeared in Spanish, The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty, with which Irving was much struck, as powerfully expressing his own views on the Millenarian question, that he at once set to work, and translated it into English. Its author professed to have been a Jewish convert to Christianity, and gave the name of Juan Josaphat Ben-Ezra on the title-page. He was, however, a Spanish priest and a Jesuit. It is not known whether Mr. Irving was aware of the fraud which had been thus practised upon the readers[188] of the book; he described it as "the chief work of a master's hand," and "a masterpiece of reasoning," and "a gift which he had revolved well how he might turn to profit."

Irving likewise established The Morning Watch for the sole purpose of advocating Millenarian views; but the extravagance of some of the collateral notions which the preacher intermingled with simple Millenarianism rather impeded than promoted the object in view. The doctrine, too, of speaking with tongues, the assertion of the peccability of Christ's humanity, the zealous advocacy of the opinion that the power of working miracles was still vested in the Church, and not the expectation only, but from time to time, the repeated assertion, most emphatically, that Christ would come immediately to reign personally on the earth—all these, and other sentiments no less confidently advanced, and earnestly inculcated both from Irving's pulpit and through the press, injured rather than benefited the cause of Millenarianism among the more sober-minded men in the religious world.

Moreover, he retained these momentous errors till his dying hour, and added one more to them. When his physicians and friends, seeing him in the last stage of consumption, prepared him in the spirit of affectionate faithfulness for the solemn event which was at hand, he would not believe that he was dying, or ever would die, but that he would be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and in a transformed body, made unspeakably glorious, be caught up to heaven. The Millenarians therefore do not strengthen their cause by quoting the name of Edward Irving as an authority in favour of their views.

The intense enthusiasm with which Irving entered into the notion of a personal reign of Christ on earth is well described in his Life by Mrs. Oliphant. "The conception," she says, "of a second advent nearly approaching was like the beginning of a new life. The thought of seeing his Lord in the flesh, cast a certain ecstasy on the mind of[189] Irving. It quickened tenfold his already vivid apprehension of spiritual things. The burden of his prophetic mystery, so often darkly pondered, so often interpreted in a mistaken sense, seemed to him, in the light of that expectation, to swell into divine choruses of preparation for the splendid event which, with his bodily eyes, undimmed by death, he hoped to behold." It is generally thought that the extravagancies which, towards the close of his career, proceeded both from his lips and his pen, were to be traced to a mind which, through its prophetic studies, had lost its balance. Yet, to the last, he made many proselytes to his Millenarian notions.

Irving originated the idea of Christ, with his saints, remaining and reigning in the air after he has caught up his people to meet him there, instead of reigning literally on the earth. Irving also originated the doctrine of secret rapture, or the assumption that Christ will come and take up his people who are alive with him into the air when he raises the saints who are in their graves, and summons them to meet him in aerial regions. So deeply did this notion take possession of many of those who adopted Mr. Irving's Millenarian views, in conjunction with this other idea—that Christ's second coming might be looked for at any hour—that they were as firmly persuaded they would not see death, as they were of any truth in the Word of God.[22]

A Trio of Fanatics.

The names of Sharp, Bryan, and Brothers will not soon be forgotten among the so-called prophets of the present century. The first of this inspired trio was William Sharp, one of the greatest masters in the English school of engraving; Bryan was what is termed an irregular Quaker, who had engrafted sectarian doctrines on an original stock of fervid[190] religious feeling; and Richard Brothers, who styled himself the "Nephew of God," predicted the destruction of all sovereigns, &c.

Sharp was, at one time, so infected with wild notions of political liberty, and so free in his talk, that he was placed under arrest by the Government and several times examined before the Privy Council, for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not, in his speeches or writings, he had committed himself far enough to be tried with Horne Tooke for high treason; but Sharp, being a handsome-looking, jocular man, and too cheerful for a conspirator, the Privy Council came to a conclusion that the altar and the throne had not much to fear from him. At one of the examinations, when Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas were present, after he had been worried with questions, which, Sharp said, had little or nothing to do with the business, he deliberately took out of his pocket a prospectus for subscribing to his portrait of General Kociusko, after West, which he was then engraving; and handing the paper first to Pitt and Dundas, he requested them to put their names down as subscribers, and then to give his prospectus to the other members of the Council for their names. The singularity of the proposal set them laughing, and he was soon afterwards liberated.

Sharp possessed a fraternal regard for Bryan, had him instructed in copper-plate printing, supplied him with paper, &c., and enabled him to commence business; but they soon quarrelled. A strong tide of animal spirits, not unaccompanied by some intellectual pretensions and shrewdness of insight, characterized the mind of Jacob Bryan; which, when religion was launched on it, swelled to enthusiasm, tossed reason to the skies, or whirled her in mystic eddies. Sharp found him one morning groaning on the floor, between his two printing-presses, at his office in Marylebone Street, complaining how much he was oppressed, by bearing, after the pattern of the Saviour, part of the sins of the people; and he soon after had a vision, commanding him to proceed[191] to Avignon on a Divine Mission. He accordingly set out immediately, in full reliance on Divine Providence, leaving his wife to negotiate the sale of his printing business: thus Sharp lost his printer, but Bryan kept his faith. The issue of this mission was so ambiguous, that it might be combined into an accomplishment of its supposed object, according as an ardent or a cool imagination was employed on the subject; but the missionary (Bryan) returned to England, and then became a dyer, and so much altered, that a few years after he could even pun upon the suffering and confession which St. Paul has expressed in his text—"I die daily."

The Animal Magnetism of Mesmer and the mysteries of Emanuel Swedenborg had, by some means or other, in Sharp's time, become mingled in the imaginations of their respective or their mutual followers; and Bryan and several others were supposed to be endowed, though not in the same degree, with a sort of half-physical and half-miraculous power of curing diseases, and imparting the thoughts or sympathies of distant friends. De Loutherbourg, the painter (one of the disciples), was believed by the sect to be a very Esculapius in this divine art; but Bryan was held to be far less powerful, and was so by his own confession. Sharp had also some inferior pretensions of the same kind, which gradually died away.

But, behold! Richard Brothers arose! The Millennium was at hand! The Jews were to be gathered together, and were to re-occupy Jerusalem; and Sharp and Brothers were to march thither with their squadrons! Due preparations were accordingly made, and boundless expectations were raised by the distinguished artist. Upon a friend remonstrating that none of their preparations appeared to be of a marine nature, and inquiring how the chosen colony were to cross the seas, Sharp answered, "Oh, you'll see; there'll be an earthquake, and a miraculous transportation will take place." Nor can Sharp's faith or sincerity on this point be in the[192] least distrusted; for he actually engraved two plates of the prophet Brothers, having calculated that one would not print the great number of impressions that would be wanted when the important event should arrive; and he added to each the following inscription: "Fully believing this to be the man appointed by God, I engrave his likeness: W. Sharp." The writing engraver, Smith, put the comma after the word "appointed," and omitted it in the subsequent part of the sentence. The mistake was not discovered until several were worked off; the unrectified impressions are in great request. Whether this be true, or only a hoax by Smith to put collectors on a false scent, has not been ascertained; there is no such impression in the British Museum. If the reader paused in the place where Sharp intended, the sentence expressed, "Fully believing this to be the man appointed by God,"—to do what? to head the Jews in their predestined march to recover Jerusalem? or to die in a madhouse? one being expressed as much as the other.

Brothers, however, in his prophecy, had mentioned dates, which were stubborn things. Yet the failure of the accomplishment of this prophecy may have helped to recommend "the Woman clothed with the Sun!" who now arose, as might be thought somewhat mal à propos, in the West. Such was Joanna Southcote. The Scriptures had said: "The sceptre shall not depart from Israel, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and to him shall the gathering of my people be." When Brothers was incarcerated in a madhouse in Clerkenwell, Johanna, then living in service at Exeter, persuaded herself that she held converse with the devil, and communion with the Holy Ghost, by whom she pretended to be inspired. When the day of dread that was to leave London in ruins, while it ushered forth Brothers and Sharp on their holy errand, passed calmly over, the seers of coming events began to look out for new ground, and to prevaricate most unblushingly.[193] The days of prophecy, said Sharp, were sometimes weeks or months; nay, according to one text, a thousand years were but as a single day, and one day was but as a thousand years. But he finally clung to the deathbed prediction of Jacob, supported as it was by the ocular demonstration of the coming Shiloh. In vain Sir William Drummond explained that Shiloh was in reality the ancient Asiatic name of a star in Scorpio; or that Joanna herself sold for a trifle, or gave away in her loving kindness, the impression of a trumpery seal, which at the Great Day was to constitute the discriminating mark between the righteous and the ungodly. We shall hear more of Sharp in association with Joanna Southcote, presently.

Sharp died poor; he earned much money, but his egregious credulity accounts for its dispersion. He was an epicure in his living, he grew corpulent, and had gout; he died of dropsy, at Chiswick, July 25th, 1824, and was interred in the churchyard of that hamlet, near De Loutherbourg, for whom, at one period, he entertained much mystic reverence.

This great engraver, this William Sharp, was an enthusiast for human freedom. He engraved, from a liking for the man, Northcote's portrait of Sir Francis Burdett; and bestowed unusual care on an engraving after Stothard's beautiful bistre-drawing of "Boadicea animating the Britons." For many years preceding his death he was a wholesale believer in Joanna Southcote; as we have already seen—and he had implicit faith in mystical doctrines; of his portrait of Brothers, Horne Tooke well observed, that, coupled with its extraordinary inscription, it "exhibited one of the most eminent proofs of human genius and human weakness ever contained on the same piece of paper."

Burnet, the engraver, used to relate that Sharp had an ingenious way of carrying a proof print to a purchaser, in an umbrella contrived to serve two additional duties—a print-case, and a walking-stick.


When John Martin exhibited his picture of Belshazzar's Feast, Sharp called upon him at his house, introduced himself, praised his picture, and asked permission to engrave it. "That I was flattered by a request of the kind from so great an artist," says Martin, "you will readily imagine; and I so expressed myself." Sharp felt pleased. "My belief," said Sharp, "is, that yours is a divine work—an emanation immediately from the Almighty; and my belief further is, that while I am engaged on so divine a work, I shall never die." When Martin told this story, he added, with a smile, his eyes twinkling with mischief, "Poor Sharp! a wild enthusiast, but—a masterly engraver."[23]

Richard Brothers was born at Placentia, in Newfoundland, and had served in the navy, but resigned his commission, because, to use his own words, he "conceived the military life to be totally repugnant to the duties of Christianity, and he could not conscientiously receive the wages of plunder, bloodshed, and murder." This step reduced him to great poverty, and he appears to have suffered much in consequence. His mind was already shaken, and his privations and solitary reflections seem at length to have entirely overthrown it. The first instance of his madness appears to have been his belief that he could restore sight to the blind. He next began to see visions and to prophesy, and soon became persuaded that he was commissioned by Heaven to lead back the Jews to Palestine. It was in the latter part of 1794 that he announced, through the medium of the press, his high destiny. His rhapsody bore the title of "A revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and Times, Book the First. Wrote under the direction of the Lord God, and published by his sacred command; it being the first sign of warning for the benefit of all nations. Containing, with other great and remarkable things, not revealed to any[195] other person on earth, the restoration of the Hebrews to Jerusalem, by the year 1798: under their revealed prince and prophet." A second part speedily followed, which purported to relate "particularly to the present time, the present war, and the prophecy now fulfilling: containing, with other great and remarkable things, not revealed to any other person on earth, the sudden and perpetual fall of the Turkish, German, and Russian Empires." Among many similar flights in this second part, was one which described visions revealing to him the intended destruction of London, and claimed for the prophet the merit of having saved the city by his intercession with the Deity.[24]

Brothers gained a great number of partisans, not only among uneducated persons, but among men of talent. We have seen Sharp, the engraver, as his devoted disciple. Among these followers was Mr. Halhed, who had been a schoolfellow of Sheridan at Harrow; they also had a sort of literary partnership, and they fell passionately in love with the same woman, Miss Linley. Halhed was a profound scholar, a man of wit, and a member of the House of Commons; he published pamphlets in advocacy of the prophetic mission of Brothers, and even made a motion in the House in favour of the prince of the Jews, as Brothers delegated himself.

Brothers took more of a political turn than his companions. He had been a lieutenant in the navy, and during the years 1792-3-4, greatly disturbed the minds of the credulous with his prophecies. We have said that he styled himself the "Nephew of God," and predicted the destruction of all sovereigns; he also foretold the downfall of the naval power of Great Britain.

His writings, founded on erroneous explanations of the Scriptures, at length made so much noise, that Government[196] found it expedient to interfere, and on the 14th of March, 1795, he was apprehended at his lodgings, No. 58, in Paddington Street, under a warrant from the Secretary of State. After a long examination before the Privy Council, in which Brothers persisted in the divinity of his legation, he was committed to the custody of a State messenger. On the 27th he was declared a lunatic, by a jury appointed under a commission of lunacy, assembled at the King's Arms, in Palace Yard, and was subsequently removed to a private madhouse at Islington. While here, he continued to see visions and to pour forth his rhapsodies in print. One of these productions was a letter of two hundred pages, to "Miss Cott, the recorded daughter of King David, and future Queen of the Hebrews, with an Address to the Members of His Britannic Majesty's Council." The lady to whom this letter was addressed had become an inmate of the same asylum with Brothers, and he became so enamoured of her, that he discovered her to be "the recorded daughter of both David and Solomon," and his spouse "by divine ordinance." Brothers was subsequently removed to Bedlam; but in the year 1806 was discharged by the authority of Lord Chancellor Erskine. He died in Upper Baker Street, on the 25th of January, 1824. He was seen in the street a few days before his death, walking with great difficulty, and apparently in the last stage of consumption. It is recorded that the minister who attended Brothers in his last moments died of a broken heart; and the medical man under whose care he had been confined, committed suicide.

Brothers appears to have unwittingly suggested to Coleridge and Southey the clever poem of the Devil's Walk, by the mad prophet asserting that he had seen the devil walk leisurely into London one day!


The Spenceans.

Early in the present century there arose in the metropolis a religio-political sect, which took its name from an itinerant bookseller, named T. Spence, who formed a sort of Constitution on the principle that "all human beings are equal by nature and before the law, and have a continual and inalienable property in the earth and in its natural productions;" and consequently that "every man, woman, and child, whether born in wedlock or not (for Nature and Justice know nothing of illegitimacy), is entitled quarterly to an equal share of the rents of the parish where they have settled." This he called "the Constitution of Spensonia;" and the Abstract from which we have quoted he called "A Receipt to make a Millennium, or Happy World." By this reference and by some allusions to the Jewish economy, he also gave his system a slight connection with religion—but it was very slight; for he neither regarded the precepts of the moral law, nor the doctrines of the Gospel. He admitted, however, of a Sabbath every fifth day; but only as a day of rest and amusement—not for any purposes of devotion. A scheme somewhat similar to the above was formed in the time of the English Commonwealth, and it is probable Spence may have borrowed his system partly from that source.

Spence was punished for his vagaries; for, in 1801, he was sentenced to pay a fine of 50l. and to suffer twelve months' imprisonment for publishing Spence's Restorer of Society, which was deemed a seditious libel. Spence died in October, 1814.


Joanna Southcote.

Joanna Southcote.

Joanna Southcote, and the Coming of Shiloh.

This "dropsical old woman," Joanna Southcote, was a native of Exeter, and was born in April, 1750. She was employed chiefly in that city as a domestic servant, and up to the age of forty or thereabout, she seems to have aspired to no higher occupation. But having joined the Methodists, and become acquainted with one Saunderson, who laid claim to the spirit of prophecy, the notion of a like pretension was[199] gradually communicated to Joanna. She wrote prophecies, and she dictated prophecies, sometimes in prose and sometimes in rhymed doggerel; her influence extended, and the number of her followers increased; she announced herself as the woman spoken of in the 12th chapter of Revelation, and obtained considerable sums by the sale of seals, which were to secure the salvation of those who purchased them. Her confidence increased with her reputation, and she challenged the bishop and clergy of Exeter to a public investigation of her miraculous powers, but they treated her challenge with contemptuous neglect, which she and her converts imputed to fear.

By degrees, Exeter became too narrow a stage for her performances, and she came to London on the invitation and at the expense of Sharp, the eminent engraver. She was very illiterate, but wrote numerous letters and pamphlets, and her prophecies, nearly unintelligible as they were, had a large sale. In the course of her Mission, as she called it, promising a speedy approach of the Millennium, she employed a boy, who pretended to see visions, and attempted, instead of writing, to adjust them on the walls of her chapel, "the House of God," a large building which adjoined the Elephant and Castle Inn, at Newington Butts. A schism took place among her followers, one of whom, named Carpenter, took possession of the place, and wrote against her; not denying her Mission, but asserting that she had exceeded it.

It may, however, be interesting here to describe what may be termed the modus operandi of the delusion. Great pains were now taken to ascertain the truth of her commission. "From the end of 1792," says Mr. Sharp, who, we have already seen, was the most devout of her believers, "to the end of 1794, her writings were sealed up with great caution, and remained secure till they were conveyed by me to High House, Paddington; and the box which contained them was opened in the beginning of January, 1803. Her[200] writings were examined during seven days, and the result of this long scrutiny was the unanimous decision of twenty-three persons appointed by divine command, as well as of thirty-five others that were present, that her calling was of God." They came to this conclusion from the fulfilment of the prophecies contained in these writings, and to which she appealed with confidence and triumph. It was a curious circumstance, however, that her handwriting was illegible. Her remark on this occasion was, "This must be, to fulfil the Bible. Every vision that John saw in Heaven must take place on earth; and here is the sealed book, that no one can read!"

A protection was provided for all those who subscribed their names as volunteers, for the destruction of Satan's kingdom. To every subscriber a folded paper was delivered, endorsed with his name, and secured with the impression of Joanna's seal in red wax; this powerful talisman consisted of a circle enclosing the two letters J. C., with a star above and below, and the following words, "The sealed of the Lord, the Elect, Precious, Man's Redemption, to inherit the tree of life, to be made heirs of God and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ." The whole was authenticated by the signature of the prophetess in her illegible characters, and the person thus provided was said to be sealed. Conformably, however, to the 7th chapter of the Revelation, the number of those highly protected persons was not to exceed 144,000.[25]

Early in her last year, she secluded herself from male society, and fancied that she was with child—by the Holy Spirit!—that she was to bring forth the Shiloh promised by Jacob Bryan, and which she pretended was to be the second appearance of the Messiah! This child was to be[201] born before the end of harvest, on the 19th of October, 1814, at midnight, as she was certain it was impossible for her to survive undelivered till Christmas. The harvest, however, was ended, and Christmas came, without the fulfilment of her predictions. Some months previously, Joanna had declared her pretended situation, and invited the opinion of the faculty. Several medical men admitted her pregnancy, others doubted; and some, among whom was Dr. Sims, denied it. There was, indeed, the external appearance of pregnancy; and, in consequence, the enthusiasm of her followers, who are said to have amounted at that time to no fewer than one hundred thousand, was greatly excited. An expensive cradle was made, and considerable sums were contributed, in order to have other things prepared in a style worthy of the expected Shiloh. Among the costly presents made to her was a Bible which cost 40l., and the superb cot or cradle 200l., besides a richly-embroidered coverlid, &c.

It was now deemed necessary, to satisfy certain worldly doubts, that medical men should be called in to give a professional opinion as to the fact, from a consideration of all the symptoms, and without reference to miraculous agency. One of these gentlemen, Mr. Mathias, appearing incredulous of Joanna's pregnancy, was asked "if he would believe when he saw the infant at the breast?" He protested against a question so blasphemous; but his further attendance was dispensed with, as she had been answered, "that he had drawn a wrong judgment of her disorder." Mr. Mathias, too, let out some strange information, showing that Joanna passed much of her time in bed, ate much and often, and prayed never; but to keep up the delusion that she was with child, she, like other ladies in that situation, had longings. On one occasion she longed for asparagus, and ate one hundred and sixty heads, at no small cost, before she allayed her liking.


Dr. Richard Reece[26] was now consulted by Joanna as to her pregnancy. He was not a proselyte to her religious views, but is thought to have been deceived by her symptoms, and declared to a deputation of her followers his belief of her being pregnant by some means or other. As her supposed time of deliverance approached, Joanna fell ill, and began to doubt her inspiration, most probably by her fears awakening her conscience; and as Dr. Reece continued in attendance, he witnessed the following scene:—"Five or six of her friends, who were waiting in an adjoining room, being admitted into her bedchamber, she desired them," says Dr. Reece, "to be seated round her bed; when, spending a few minutes in adjusting the bed-clothes with seeming attention, and placing before her a white handkerchief, she addressed them in the following words: 'My friends, some of you have known me nearly twenty-five years, and all of you not less than twenty; when you have heard me speak of my prophecies, you have sometimes heard me say that I doubted my inspiration; but at the same time, you would never let me despair. When I have been alone, it has often appeared delusion; but when the communication was made to me, I did not in the least doubt. Feeling, as I now do feel, that my dissolution is drawing near, and that a day or two may terminate my life,[203] it all appears delusion.' She was by this exertion quite exhausted, and wept bitterly."

"On reviving in a little time, she observed, that it was very extraordinary, that after spending all her life in investigating the Bible, it should please the Lord to inflict that heavy burden on her. She concluded this discourse by requesting that everything on this occasion might be conducted with decency. She then wept; and all her followers present seemed deeply affected, and some of them shed tears. 'Mother,' said one (it is believed Mr. Howe), 'we will commit your instructions to paper, and rest assured they shall be conscientiously followed.' They were accordingly written down with much solemnity, and signed by herself, with her hand placed on the Bible in the bed. This being finished, Mr. Howe again observed to her, 'Mother, your feelings are human; we know that you are a favourite woman of God, and that you will produce the promised child; and whatever you may say to the contrary will not diminish our faith.' This assurance revived her, and the scene of crying was changed with her to laughter."

Mr. Howe was not the only one of her disciples whose sturdy belief was not to be shaken by the most discouraging symptoms. Colonel Harwood, a zealous believer, entreated Dr. Reece not to retract his opinion as to her pregnancy, though the latter now saw the folly and absurdity of it; and when the Colonel approached the bed on which Joanna was about to expire, and she said to him, "What does the Lord mean by this? I am certainly dying;" he replied, smiling, "No, no, you will not die; or if you should, you will return again."

About ten weeks before Christmas she was confined to her bed, and took very little sustenance, until pain and sickness greatly reduced her. On the night of the 19th of October, a very large number of persons assembled in the street where she lived—Manchester Street, Manchester[204] Square[27]—to hear the announcement of the looked-for advent; but the hour of midnight passed over, and the crowd were only induced to disperse by being informed that Joanna had fallen into a trance.

Mr. Want, a surgeon, had warned her of her approaching end; but she insisted that all her sufferings were only preparatory to the birth of the Shiloh. At last she admitted the possibility of a temporary dissolution, and expressly ordered that means should be taken to preserve warmth in her for four days, after which she was to revive and be delivered. On December 27th, 1814, she actually died, in her sixty-fifth year, she having previously declared that if she was deceived, she was, at all events, misled by some spirit, either good or evil. In four days after, she was opened in the presence of fifteen medical men, when it was demonstrated that she was not pregnant, and that her complaint arose from bile and flatulency, from indulgence and want of exercise. In her last hour she was attended by Ann Underwood, her secretary; Mr. Tozer, who was called her high priest; Colonel Harwood, and some other persons of property; and so determined were her followers to be deceived, that neither death nor dissection could convince them of their error. The silencing of her preacher, Tozer, and shutting up of the chapel which he had opened, had by no means diminished the number of her believers.

While the surgeons were investigating the causes of her death, and the mob were gathering without-doors, in anticipation of a riot or a miracle, Sharp, the engraver, continued to maintain that she was not dead, but entranced. And, at a subsequent period, when he was sitting to Mr. Haydon for his portrait, he predicted to the painter, that Joanna would reappear in the month of July 1822. "But suppose she should not?" said Haydon. "I tell you she will,"[205] retorted Sharp; "but if she would not, nothing should shake my faith in her Divine Mission." And those who were near Sharp's person during his last illness, state that in this belief he died. Even when she was really dead, the same blind confidence remained. Mrs. Townley, with whom she had lived, said cheerfully, "she would return to life, for it had been foretold twenty years before."

Mr. Sharp also asserted that the soul of Joanna would return, it having gone to heaven to legitimate the child which would be born. Though symptoms of decomposition arose, Mr. Sharp still persisted in keeping the body hot, according to the directions which she had given on her death-bed, in the hope of a revival. Dr. Reece having remarked that if the ceremony of her marriage continued two days longer, the tenement would not be habitable on her return, "The greater will be the miracle," said Mr. Sharp. Consent at last was given to inspect the body, and all the disciples stood round, smoking tobacco. Their disappointment was excessive at finding nothing to warrant the long cherished opinion, but their faith remained immovable.

Her corpse was removed on the 31st of December to an undertaker's in Oxford Street, where it remained till the interment. On the 2nd of January, 1815, it was carried in a hearse, so remarkably plain, as to have the appearance of one returning from rather than proceeding to church; it was accompanied by one coach equally plain, in which were three mourners. In this manner they proceeded to the new cemetery adjoining St. John's Wood Chapel, with such secrecy, that there was scarcely a person in the ground unconnected with it. A fourth person arrived as the body was being borne to the grave; this was supposed to be Tozer. The grave was taken, and notice given of the funeral, under the name of Goddard. Neither the minister of St. John's, who read the service, nor any of the subordinate persons belonging to the chapel, were apprised of the real name about to be buried, till the funeral reached the[206] ground. The grave is on the west side, opposite No. 44 on the wall, and twenty-six feet from it, where is a flat stone with this inscription:—

"In memory of
Joanna Southcote,

who departed this life December 27, 1814, aged 65 years.
While through all thy wondrous days,
Heaven and earth enraptur'd gazed,
While vain Sages think they know
Secrets Thou Alone canst show;
Time alone will tell what hour
Thou'lt appear to 'Greater' Power.


On a black marble tablet, let into the wall opposite to the above spot, is the following inscription, in gilt letters:—

"Behold the time shall come, that these Tokens which I have told Thee, shall come to pass, and the Bride shall Appear, and She coming forth, shall be seen, that now is withdrawn from the Earth."

2nd of Esdras, chap. 7, verse 26.

"For the Vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and Not Lie, though it tarry, Wait for it; Because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

Habakkuk, chap. ii. ver. 3d.

"And whosoever is delivered from the Foresaid evils, shall see My Wonders."

2nd of Esdras, chap. 7th, ver. 27th.

(See her writings.)

This Tablet was Erected,
By the sincere friends of the above,
Anno Domini, 1828.

The number of Joanna's followers continued to be very great for many years after her death: they believed that there would be a resurrection of her body, and that she was still to be the mother of the promised Shiloh.

The Southcotonians also still met and committed various extravagancies. In 1817 a part of the disciples, conceiving[207] themselves directed by God to proclaim the coming of the Shiloh on earth, for this purpose marched in procession through Temple Bar, when the leader sounded a brazen trumpet, and declared the coming of Shiloh, the Prince of Peace; while his wife shouted, "Wo! wo! to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the coming of Shiloh!" The crowd pelted the fanatics with mud, some disturbance ensued, and some of the disciples were taken into custody, and had to answer for their conduct before a magistrate. A considerable number of the sect appear to have remained in Devonshire, Joanna's native county.

The whole affair was one of the most monstrous delusions of our time. "It is not long since," says Sir Benjamin Brodie, in his Psychological Inquiries, 3rd edition, "no small number of persons, and not merely those belonging to the uneducated classes, were led to believe that a dropsical old woman was about to be the mother of the real Shiloh." The writer, however, adds that Joanna was "not altogether an impostor, but in part the victim of her own imagination."

A small square volume of Southcotonian hymns was published, entitled, "Hymns or Spiritual Songs," composed from the prophetical writings of Joanna Southcote, by P. Pullen, and published by her order. "And I saw an angel," &c.—Rev. xx. 1, 2. The "Little Flock" are thus addressed by their "Poet Laureat:"—"By permission of our 'spiritual mother, Johanna Southcote,' I have composed the following hymns from her prophetic writings; and should you feel that pleasure in singing them to the honour and glory of God, for the establishment of her blessed kingdom, and the destruction of Satan's power, as I have felt in the perusal of her writings, I am fully persuaded that they will ultimately tend to your everlasting happiness, and I hope and trust to the speedy completion of what we ardently long and daily pray for, namely, 'HIS KINGDOM to come, that HIS will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, and that we may be delivered[208] from evil;' that that blessed prayer may be soon, very soon fulfilled, is the earnest desire of your fellow labourer, Philip Pullen. London, 16th September, 1807."

"The reader of these Hymns," says a Correspondent of Notes and Queries, "will not feel the spiritual elevation spoken of by Mr. Pullen, unless, perhaps, he has, like him, drunk at that fountain-head, i.e. studied the 'prophetic writings:' the songs for the now 'scattered sheep' being rhapsodical to a degree, and intelligible only to such an audience as that some of your sexagenarian readers may have found assembled under the roof of the 'House of God.' The leading titles to these Hymns are, 'True Explanations of the Bible,' 'Strange Effects of Faith,' 'Words in Season,' 'Communications and Visions,' not published, 'Cautions to the Sealed,' 'Answers to the Books of Garrett and Brothers,' 'Rival Enthusiasts,' and such like. Pullen, their poet, was formerly a schoolmaster, and afterwards an accountant in London, and is called by Upcott, in his Dictionary of Living Authors, 1816, an empiric.

"A couplet in the first hymn bears an asterisk, intimating that it is published at the particular request of Johanna Southcote; it is short, and will afford at once a specimen of the poetical calibre of the volume, and the pith of the 'Spiritual Mother's' views:—

"To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One God in power THREE,
Bring back the ancient world that's lost
To all mankind—and me."

Joanna Southcote published many pamphlets, and one of her disciples, Elias Carpenter, issued several curious and mystical tracts. The lists of these publications are too long to be quoted here. Probably the most complete collection preserved of the extraordinary productions by and relating to this wonderful imposture, was that made by Sir Francis Freeling, together with cuttings from all the newspapers,[209] and bound in 7 vols. 8vo, 1803 to 1815. The titles of the principal tracts fill a page of Thorpe's Catalogue, Part III., 1850. For another very rare collection, in 6 vols., 8vo, see J. C. Hotten's Catalogue for October 1858. Perhaps the most tangible explanation attempted of Joanna Southcote's mission is that by Carpenter, in the Missionary Magazine, 1814. To Carpenter is attributed the following anonymous work, "The Extraordinary Cure of a Piccadilly Patient, or Dr. Reece physicked by Six Female Physicians, 1815."

Joanna Southcote Signature and Logo.

Leeds: August 20, 1809.

Mr. Urban,—Herewith you receive the original seal with which that miserable enthusiast, Joanna Southcott, imposed on the husband of Mary Bateman, the wicked wretch who was lately tried and executed at this place, for the murder of a woman named Perigo. It was found in their cottage when she was taken into custody. The words are as follow:—

John Bateman,
Sealed of the Lord.

The Elect precious; Man's Redemption;
To inherit the tree of life; to be made
Heirs of God and Joint Heirs with
Jesus Christ.

Joanna Southcott
Feb. 12, 1806.


The Founder of Mormonism.

Joseph Smith, "the Prophet," has left to the world a short sketch of himself and his system of Mormonism, which is one of the most remarkable movements of modern times. He was born in the State of Vermont, in 1805, and was brought up to husbandry. When about fourteen years old he began to reflect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and inquiring into the plan of salvation. He tells us:—"I retired to a secret place in a grove, and began to call upon the Lord. While fervently engaged in supplication, my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapt in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in feature and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noonday. They told me that all the religious sects were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his Church and Kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to go not after them, at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of the Gospel should at some future time be made known to me."

This "fulness of the Gospel" was that revealed in The Book of Mormon, of the discovery of which and its contents he says:—"On the evening of the 21st of September, A.D. 1823, while I was praying unto God and endeavouring to exercise faith in the precious promises of Scripture, on a sudden, a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room; indeed, the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire. The appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body. In a moment, a personage stood before me surrounded with a glory yet greater than that with which I was already surrounded. The messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the[211] joyful tidings, that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled; that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the Gospel in all its fulness to be preached in power unto all nations, that a people might be prepared for the Millenial reign.

"I was informed also concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country (America), and shown who they were and from whence they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilisation, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me. I was also told where there were deposited some plates, on which was engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night, and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God, unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22nd of September, 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.

"These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold; each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book, with three rings running throughout the whole: it was partly sealed. With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim on a bow fastened to a breastplate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.

"In this important and interesting book, the history of ancient America is unfolded from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion[212] of languages, to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era."

It should here be noticed that the Prophet's account of his early life, before the appearance of the angel and the discovery of the plates, is remarkably vague. He had been very rudely educated, and for some time got a living by trying for mineral veins by a divining rod; and some affirm that, like Sidrophel, he used "the devil's looking-glass—a stone," and was consulted as to the discovery of hidden treasures, whence he had come to be commonly known as the "money-digger;" and on one occasion he had been, at the instigation of a disappointed client, imprisoned as a vagabond. He is also stated to have carried off and married a Miss Hales, during the interval between the first angelic visitation and the discovery of the plates of Nephi.

As to the Book of Mormon itself, the authorship has been claimed for one Solomon Spalding, a Presbyterian preacher, who, having fallen into poverty, composed a religious romance, entitled The Manuscript Found, which professed to be a narrative of the migration of the Lost Tribes of Israel from Jerusalem to America, and their subsequent adventures on the continent. The work was written but Spalding could not find anyone who would print it, and ten years after his death, the manuscript was carried by his widow to New York, and was stolen by, or somehow got into the hands of, Smith, or his early associate, Rigdon. There is nothing in the book to contradict the supposition that it is the work of Smith himself—for as to its being a divine revelation, the most cursory examination of the book will convince an educated man of the utter improbability of that, if its possibility were otherwise conceivable. Be the author who he may, Smith having obtained the book—whether from Solomon Spalding's travelling-chest, his own brain, or the stone-box which the angel discovered to him—thought it behoved him to make his treasure known. At first he told the members of his own and his father's household,[213] and they believed the truth of his mission and the reality of the gift. But, he says: "As soon as the news of this discovery was made known, false reports, misrepresentations, and slander flew, as on the wings of the wind, in every direction. My house was frequently beset by mobs and evil-designing persons; several times I was shot at, and very narrowly escaped; and every device was made to get the plates away from me, but the power and blessing of God attended me, and several began to believe my testimony."

Among these was a farmer, Martin Harris, whom Smith persuaded to convert his stock into money in order to assist in printing the book. But Harris wished first to consult some scholar, and Smith entrusted him with a copy of a portion of one of the golden plates to carry to New York. Harris took the copy to Dr. Anthon, who was unable to make out the characters, which he described to be "reformed Egyptian"—and this is one of the proofs "cited by Mormonite teachers of the authenticity of the book." But Dr. Anthon's account is very different: he tells us that from the first he considered the work an imposture, and his account of it is the only description which has been published, and is as follows:—"The paper was a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sidewise, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican calendar, given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived."

No sooner was the discovery published than the faithful as well as unbelievers flocked to obtain a sight of the marvellous plates, and the prophet and his mother were driven[214] to great shifts to conceal them. At length it was revealed to Smith that the desired sight should be vouchsafed to three witnesses, whose "testimony" is prefixed to every printed copy of the Book of Mormon. These witnesses aver, in their strange language, "that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and lay before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon." But a more specific testimony was given by eight other witnesses, to whom Smith was permitted to show the plates. Mrs. Smith says that these eight men went with Joseph into a secret place, "where the family were in the habit of offering up their secret devotions. They went to this place because it had been revealed to Joseph that the plates would be carried by one of the ancient Nephites. Here it was that these eight witnesses, whose names are recorded in the Book of Mormon, looked upon and handled them." The witnesses themselves say:—"We have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken." Of these eight witnesses, three were members of Smith's own family. After these witnesses had seen the plates, Mrs. Smith tells us, "the angel again made his appearance to Joseph, at which time Joseph delivered up the plates into the angel's hands;" and Joseph himself says:—"He (the angel) has them in charge to this day;" thus disposing of any demand to see the original plates. Smith carried on the process of translating the plates by retiring behind a screen, where he read the plates though the "curious instrument called the Urim and Thummim," while a scribe outside the screen wrote as he dictated.

The Book of Mormon was published in 1830. In the previous year Smith and his scribe had been baptized by an angel, and power given them to baptize others.

Smith may now carry on the narrative. On April 6, 1830, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" was first organized in Manchester, Ontario county, State of New York. Some few were called and ordained by the spirit of revelation[215] and prophecy, and began to preach as the Spirit gave them utterance, and though weak, yet they were strengthened by the power of God; and many were brought to repentance, were immersed in the water, and were filled with the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. They saw visions and prophesied, devils were cast out, and the sick healed by the laying-on of hands. From that time the work rolled forth with astonishing rapidity, and churches were formed in the States of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. In the last named State, a considerable settlement was formed in Jackson county. Great numbers joined the Church; "we made large purchases of land, our farms teemed with plenty, and peace and happiness were enjoyed in our domestic circle and throughout our neighbourhood; but, as we could not associate with our neighbours—who were many of them of the basest of men, and had fled from the face of civilized society to the frontier country to escape the hands of justice—in their midnight revels, their Sabbath-breaking, horse-racing, they commenced at first to ridicule, then to persecute; and finally an organized mob assembled and burnt our houses, tarred and feathered, and whipped many of our brethren [Smith himself was tarred and feathered], and finally drove them from their habitations; these, houseless and homeless, contrary to law, justice, and humanity, had to wander on the bleak prairies till the children left their blood on the prairie. This took place in November, 1833." The Government, he says, "winked at these proceedings, and the result was that a great many of them died; many children were left orphans; wives, widows; and husbands, widowers. Our farms were taken possession of by the mob, many thousands of cattle, sheep, horses, and hogs were taken, and our household goods, store goods, and printing-presses were broken, taken, or otherwise destroyed."

Driven from Jackson, the Mormonites settled in Clay county, and being threatened with violence, removed to[216] Caldwell and Davies counties. Here their numbers rapidly increased; but troubles again came upon them; their bank failed, and Smith was obliged to conceal himself; and finally, by an "extraordinary order" of the Governor of Missouri, in 1838, they were violently ejected from their homes, plundered of their goods, and subjected, the women especially, to the most frightful atrocities.

Being thus expelled from Missouri, they settled in Illinois, and in 1839, on the Mississippi, laid the foundation of their famous city, Nauvoo, or the Beautiful, which was incorporated in 1840. Smith dwells with great delight on this city, which he had seen rise up under his presidency from a wild tract to be a place of "1,500 well-built houses, and more than 15,000 inhabitants, all looking to him for temporal as well as spiritual guidance." He describes as provided for—"the University of Nauvoo, where all the arts and sciences will grow with the growth and strengthen with the strength of this beloved city of the Saints of the Last Days." But the grand feature of the city was the Great Temple, which Smith thus sketches: "The Temple of God, now in the course of erection, being already raised one story, and which is 120 feet by 80 feet, of stone with polished pilasters, of an entire new order of architecture, will be a splendid house for the worship of God, as well as an unique wonder of the world, it being built by the direct revelation of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the living and the dead."

The progress of Nauvoo was even more rapid than that of any of the preceding places. Dangers of various kinds beset Smith, but he escaped from them all; and by a provision in the city charter, formed an independent civic militia, of which he was lieutenant-general: and he consolidated his spiritual government, and made careful provision for an ample succession of hardy as well as zealous missionaries. But Smith becoming embroiled with the civil authority of the State, got up a sort of social scheme of his[217] own, and was actually in 1844 nominated for President. The storm now gathered around him; the "gentile" inhabitants of Nauvoo, who had always been most troublesome, supported by some of the dissatisfied among the saints, established an opposition newspaper, which denounced the morals of the Prophet, as well as his system of government; the city council condemned the newspaper to silence; and a mob broke into the office and destroyed the presses. The proprietors charged some of the Mormon leaders with inciting the mob to this act, and they were arrested, but set at liberty. The injured parties now carried their complaint to the Governor of Illinois, who had long been waiting for a legal opportunity to crush the power of Smith; he was arrested on a charge of treason and sedition, June 24th, 1844. He put Nauvoo into a state of defence, and his militia was drawn out; but to avoid bloodshed, on the approach of the State troops, Smith surrendered, on a promise of safety till his legal trial; and he, with others, was committed to Carthage jail. A guard, small in number, and purposely chosen from among Smith's declared enemies, was set over them; but on the 27th of June, a mob of about two hundred armed ruffians broke into the jail, and firing at the door of the room, shot Smith's brother Hyram dead at once. Joseph Smith attempted to escape by the window, but was knocked down, carried out, and shot. His dying exclamation is said to have been, "O Lord my God." His body was given up to his friends, and buried with great solemnity.

Smith had estimated his followers at 150,000, from among almost every civilized people on the face of the earth. He had become intoxicated with power and prosperity, and was lustful and intemperate. In the Mormon creed, polygamy is not referred to; though there is no doubt that in the last year of Smith's life this was one of the charges brought against the Mormonites. Still, the doctrine of a plurality of wives was never openly taught until after Smith's death, and if he proclaimed it at all, he confined the[218] revelation to the initiated. He is said, however, to have sealed to himself "plural wives," as the Mormons express it, about two years before his death; and the privilege may have been accorded to some of the chief of his followers.

He was still regarded as the glorified prophet and martyr. In Nauvoo the popular cry was for revenge, but this was changed to forbearance. Brigham Young was elected as Smith's successor; and he removed his people beyond the farthest settlements of his countrymen, convinced that only in a country far distant from societies living under the established forms, could the vision of the Prophet stand a chance of realization. They were allowed by their enemies to finish their beautiful temple; and this being accomplished in September, 1846, the last band of the brethren departed from the land of their hopes to seek a new land of promise.

They chose the site of their new city beyond the Great Salt Lake, in the territory of Utah, to be their appointed Zion, principally governed by the maxims of the Mormon leaders, and Brigham Young, the Mormon prophet. We may here state briefly that the Mormons profess to be a separate people, living under a patriarchal dispensation, with prophets, elders, and apostles, who have the rule in temporal as well as religious matters, their doctrines being embodied in the Book of Mormon; that they look for a literal gathering of Israel in this western land; and that here Christ will reign personally for a millennium, when the earth will be restored to its paradisaical glory.

Nauvoo, after the departure of the Mormons, became the seat of a colony of French communists, or Icarians, under the direction of M. Cabet, who were, however, far from successful. The population has much dwindled. The great Mormon temple of Nauvoo was, in October, 1848, set on fire by an incendiary and destroyed.


William Huntington. The Coalheaver Preacher.

William Huntington. The Coalheaver Preacher.

Huntington, the Preacher.

William Huntington, who, by virtue of his preaching, came to ride in his coach, and marry the titled widow of a Lord Mayor, was no ordinary man. He was born in the year 1774, in the Weald of Kent, between Goudhurst and Cranbrook, where his father was a day-labourer. The boy worked in various ways, and having "a call," he became an Arminian preacher, at the same time that at Thames Ditton[220] he carried coals on the river, at 10s. a week: hence he was generally known as the Coalheaver. He preached inordinately long sermons, sometimes of two hours' duration; his prayers were mostly made up of Scriptural phrases.

It suited the purpose of Huntington to represent himself as living under the special favour of Providence, because he intended to live by it: that is, upon the credulity of those whom he could persuade to believe him: and the history of his success, which he published under the title of God the Guardian of the Poor, and the Bank of Faith; or, a Display of the Providences of God, which have at sundry times, attended the Author, is a production equally singular and curious.

One reason which he gives for writing this marvellous treatise is, that we are often tempted to believe that God takes no notice of our temporal concerns. "I found God's promises," he says, "to be the Christian's bank note; and a living faith will always draw on the divine banker, yea, and the spirit of prayer, and a deep sense of want, will give an heir of promise a filial boldness at the inexhaustible bank of heaven." Accordingly, for great things and for little he drew boldly upon the bank. Thus, he was provided with game and fish. One day, when he had nothing but bread in the house, he was moved by the Spirit to take a by-path, where he had never gone before; but the reason was, that a stoat was to kill a fine large rabbit, just in time for him to secure the prey. When his wife was lying-in, and there was no tea in the house, and they had neither money nor credit, his wife bade the nurse set the kettle on in faith, and before it boiled, a stranger brought a present of tea to the door. At another time, a friend, without solicitation, gives him half-a-guinea when he was penniless; and lest he should have any difficulty in obtaining change for it, when he crossed Kingston bridge, he casts his eyes on the ground, and finds a penny to pay the toll. He borrows a guinea, which he is unable to pay at the time appointed, so he prays[221] that God would send him one from some quarter or another, and forthwith the lender calls and desires him to consider it a free gift. He wants a new parsonic livery: "wherefore," says he, "in humble prayer I told my most blessed Lord and Master that my year was out, and my apparel bad; that I had nowhere to go for these things but to him; and as he had promised to give his servants food and raiment, I hoped he would fulfil his promise to me, though one of the worst of them." So, having settled it in his own mind that a certain person in London would act as the intermediate agent in this providential transaction, he called upon him, and, as he expected, the raggedness of his apparel led to a conversation which ended in the offer of a new suit, and of a greatcoat to boot.

He lived in this manner seven or eight years, not, indeed, taking no thought for the morrow, but making no other provision for it than by letting the specific object of his prayers and their general tendency always be understood, where a word to the unwise was sufficient. Being now in much request, and "having many doors open to him for preaching the Gospel very wide apart," he began to want a horse, then to wish, and lastly to pray, for one. "I used my prayers," he says, "as gunners use their swivels, turning them every day, as various cases required;" before the day was over he was presented with a horse, which had been purchased for him by subscription. The horse was to be maintained by his own means, but what of that? "I told God," says he, "that I had more work for my faith now than heretofore; for the horse would cost half as much to keep as my whole family. In answer to which this Scripture came to my mind with power and comfort, 'Dwell in the land, and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed.' This was a bank-note put into the hand of my faith, which, when I got poor, I pleaded before God, and he answered it; so that I lived and cleared my way just as well when I had my horse to keep as I did before."


Huntington was no ordinary man. The remarkable circumstance which occurred concerning a certain part of his dress has been told in various books. The old song says—

A light heart and a thin pair of breeches
Go through the world, my brave boys;

but the latter qualification is better for going through the world on foot than on horseback; so Uncle Toby found it, so did Huntington, who, in this part of his history, must be his own historian: no language but his own can do justice to such a story.

"Having now," says Huntington, "had my horse for some time, and riding a great deal every week, I soon wore my breeches out, as they were not fit to ride in. I hope the reader will excuse my mentioning the word breeches, which I should have avoided, had not this passage of Scripture obtruded into my mind, just as I had revolved in my own thoughts not to mention this kind providence of God. 'And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs shall they reach. And they shall be upon Aaron and upon his sons when they come into the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity and die. It shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.' Exod. xxviii. 42, 43. By which, and three others, namely, Ezek. xliv. 18; Lev. vi. 10; and Lev. xiv. 4, I saw that it was no crime to mention the word breeches, nor the way in which God sent them to me; Aaron and his sons being clothed entirely by Providence; and as God himself condescended to give orders what they should be made of, and how they should be cut. And I believe the same God, ordered mine, as I trust will appear in the following history.

"The Scripture tells us to call no man master; for one is our master, even Christ. I therefore told my most bountiful[223] and ever-adored Master what I wanted; and he, who stripped Adam and Eve of their fig-leaved aprons, and made coats of skin, and clothed them; and who clothes the grass of the field, which to-day is and to-morrow is cast into the oven, must clothe us, or we shall go naked; and so Israel found it, when God took away his wool and his flax, which he gave to cover their nakedness, and which they prepared for Baal: for which iniquity was their skirts discovered and their heels made bare. Jer. xiii. 22.

"I often made very free in my prayers with my invaluable Master for this favour; but he still kept me so amazingly poor that I could not get them at any rate. At last I determined to go to a friend of mine at Kingston, who is of that branch of business, to bespeak a pair; and to get him to trust me until my Master sent me the money to pay him. I was that day going to London, fully determined to bespeak them as I rode through the town. However, when I passed the shop, I forgot it; but when I came to London, I called on Mr. Croucher, a shoe-maker in Shepherd's Market, who told me a parcel was left there for me, but what it was he knew not. I opened it, and behold there was a pair of leather breeches, with a note in them! the substance of which was, to the best of my remembrance, as follows:—

"'Sir,—I have sent you a pair of breeches, and hope they will fit. I beg your acceptance of them; and if they want any alteration, leave in a note what the alteration is, and I will call in a few days and alter them.

I. S.'

"I tried them on, and they fitted as well as if I had been measured for them; at which I was amazed, having never been measured by any leather breeches maker in London. I wrote an answer to the note to this effect:—

"'Sir,—I received your present and thank you for it. I was going to order a pair of leather breeches to be made, because I did not know till now that my Master had bespoke them of you. They fit very well, which fully convinces me that the same God who moved thy heart to give, guided thy[224] hand to cut: because He perfectly knows my size, having clothed me in a miraculous manner for near five years. When you are in trouble, Sir, I hope you will tell my Master of this, and what you have done for me, and He will repay you with honour.'

"This is as near as I am able to relate it, and I added:—

"'I cannot make out I. S. unless I put I for Israelite indeed, and S for sincerity; because you did not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do.'"

The plan of purveying for himself by prayer, with the help of hints in proper place and season, answered so well, that Huntington soon obtained, by the same means, a new bed, a rug, a pair of new blankets, doe-skin gloves, and a horseman's coat; and as often as he wanted new clothes, some chosen almoner of the Bank of Faith was found to supply him. His wife was instructed to provide for her own wants by the same easy and approved means. Gowns came as they were wanted, hampers of bacon and cheese, now and then a large ham, and now and then a guinea, all which things Huntington called precious answers to prayer.

Some awkward disclosures were now made, and he became weary of Thames Ditton, and having a well-timed vision, he secretly wished that God would remove him from that place; and as London was the place where he might reasonably expect to work less and feed better, it was "suddenly impressed on his mind to leave Thames Ditton, and take a house in the great metropolis, where hearers were more numerous, and that this was the meaning of the words spoken to him in the vision." It was likewise suggested to his mind that the people had been permitted of late to persecute him more than usual, that they might drive him to this removal. "And I much question," says Huntington, "if ever God sends his word there again, for I think they are left almost as inexcusable as Chorazin and Capernaum!" The impression which he had now received was acknowledged[225] as a plain and evident call by the good friends who negotiated his bills upon the Bank of Faith, and accordingly to London he and his family went.

His next draft upon the Bank was to a larger amount. During three years he had secretly wished for a chapel of his own, because, as he says, he was sick of the errors that were perpetually broached by some or other in Margaret Street Chapel, where he then preached with Lady Huntingdon's people. Much, however, as he desired this, he protests that he could not ask God for such a favour, thinking it was not to be brought about by one so very mean, low, and poor as himself. But fortune favours the bold. One of his friends looked at a suitable piece of ground, by particular impulse of Providence; and he took Huntington to look at it also. Another friend, under a similar impulse, planned a chapel one day while he was hearing Huntington preach a sermon; and he offered to undertake the management of the building without fee or reward. Thus encouraged, he took the ground and began to build Providence Chapel, when he was 20l. in debt, and had no other funds than the freewill offerings of his hearers, and the money which they were willing to lend him upon his credit with the Bank of Faith. The first offering amounted to no more than 11l., which were soon expended on the foundations. He bespoke a load of timber, and going to the right person for it, it was sent him with a bill and receipt in full as a contribution towards the chapel. Another "good man" came with tears in his eyes to bless Mr. Huntington for the good which he had received under his sermons, and to request that he might paint the pulpit, desk, &c., as a grateful acknowledgment. A bed-room was very handsomely furnished for him that he might not be under the necessity of walking home in the cold winter nights. A looking-glass for his chapel study was presented by one person, a book-case by another, chairs for the vestry, a pulpit cushion, a splendid Bible, a set of china, and a well-stored tea-chest,[226] were supplied in like manner: money was liberally lent as well as given; the chapel "sprang up like a mushroom;" and when it was finished, he says, "I was in arrears for 1,000l., so that I had plenty of work for faith, if I could get plenty of faith to work; and while some deny a Providence, Providence was the only supply I had."

His never-failing friends settled him in a country-house, stocked his garden and his farm for him; and that he might travel conveniently to and from his chapel, they presented him with a coach and pair of horses, and subscribed to pay the taxes for both. To crown all, having buried his wife, the gleaner, he preached himself into the good graces of Lady Saunderson, the widow of the Lord Mayor, and married her.

His uniform prosperity received but one shock. The chapel in Titchfield Street, which he had raised from the ground and carried up into the air, when ground-room was wanting, was burnt down. This was thought by some of Huntington's followers to be a judgment upon him for having inclosed the free seats, and "laid out the whole chapel in boxes like an opera house." But Huntington looked at this misfortune otherwise. Writing to one of his friends, he says: "Such a stroke as this twenty-seven years ago would have caused our hope to give up the ghost; but being a little stronger in the Lord, faith has heavier burdens laid on. The temple built by Solomon, and that built by Cyrus, were both burnt. It will cause a little rejoicing among the Philistines, as has been the case often: they once triumphed gloriously, when the ark of God was taken, supposing that Dagon had overcome the God of Israel; but their joy was short. This I know, that it shall work for our good, but how I know not; if I did, I must walk by sight, and not by faith." He then held out a sort of threat of removing into the country; but his London followers were presently in motion, "some looking out for a spot of ground, some bringing their offerings, others wishing the glory of the latter[227] house may exceed that of the former." "But," says he, "it is to bear the same name: this I gave them to understand from the pulpit, and assigned the following reasons for it:—that unless God provided men to work, and money to pay them, and materials to work with, no chapel could be erected; and, if he provided all these, Providence must be its name." The chapel, accordingly, was built in Gray's Inn Lane, and upon a larger scale than the last: taught by his former experience, Huntington took care not to make himself responsible for any of the expenses, and when it was finished, managed matters so well with his obedient flock, that the chapel was made over to him as his own, for he is said to have refused to preach in it on any other conditions.[28]

The preacher had innumerable applicants for spiritual advice. To one person who consults him, he says:—"You need not have made any apology, as the troubled minds of sensible sinners are my peculiar province. I am authorised and commissioned by the God of heaven to transact business and negotiate affairs between the King of kings and self-condemned rebels." One madman assures him that he was actually electrified in body and soul by one of his books. This man saw a brilliant star over the head of Huntington while he was preaching, and Huntington publishes the letter and assures him that dreams (of which he has communicated a curious story) are from the Spirit of God. Sometimes he found that correspondents were troublesome, new-born babes being never satisfied when they desire the sincere milk of the word. A certain Mrs. Bull writes to him rather more frequently than is agreeable. Huntington lets Mrs. Bull know that he does not like her head-dress; he finds fault with her preposterous streamers, and her first, second, and third tier of curls; but tells her that a little more furnace-work will teach her to pull down[228] those useless topsails. This prediction was verified rather more literally than it was meant, for the said Mrs. B., thinking it was not his business to interfere with her head-dress, was about to resent it in a sharp letter; "but," says she, "happening to fall asleep by the fire, as I was reading the Bible, the candle caught the lappet of my cap, and a good deal of my hair, and I own it a great mercy that I was not consumed myself, and you may be assured that you will see neither streamers, curls, nor topsails again."

Mr. Bramah, the celebrated engineer, appears among Huntington's controversial correspondents; and he tells him that he makes a good patent lock, but cuts a poor figure with the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

Mr. Bensley, the printer, was one of his believers, which explains the handsome appearance of Huntington's collected works, in twenty volumes, octavo; his spiritual employer calls him dear brother in the Lord, and dear Tom in the flesh. Trader in faith as he was, there were some social qualities about him which won and secured the attachment of his friends, even of those upon whom he drew most largely. He mentions particularly Mr. and Mrs. Baker, of Oxford Street, who, having no children of their own, kept caring and travailing many years for him; and though "sorely tried by various losses in business, bankruptcies, and bad debts, supplied him with money whenever he required it." "While the chapel was building," he says, "when money was continually demanded, if there was one shilling in the house, I was sure to have it." This couple and another, with whom he was on terms of equal intimacy, agreed, as they were bound together with their chosen pastor for life and for eternity, not to be divided in death; and accordingly they jointly purchased a piece of ground near Petersham, and erected a substantial tomb there, wherein they might rest together in the dust.

Huntington died in 1813, at Tunbridge Wells; he was buried at Lewes, in a piece of ground adjoining the chapel[229] of one of his associates: it was his desire that there should be no funeral sermon preached on the occasion, and that nothing should be said over his grave. He indited his own epitaph in these words:—

Here lies the Coalheaver,
Beloved of his God, but abhorred of men.
The Omniscient Judge
At the Grand Assize shall rectify and
Confirm this to the
Confusion of many thousands;
For England and its Metropolis shall know,
That there hath been a prophet
Among them.

The sale of his effects by public auction took place soon after his death, at his elegantly-furnished villa, Hermes Hill,[29] Pentonville, and lasted four days. His friends and admirers, anxious to secure some memorial of Huntington, paid most fabulous sums of money for articles of no intrinsic value in the excess of their veneration. A mahogany easy-chair, with hair seat and back cushion in canvas, on brass-wheel castors, with two sets of flowered calico cases, sold for 63l.; an ordinary pair of spectacles sold for seven guineas; a common silver snuff-box, five guineas; every article of plate at from 23s. to 26s. per ounce; his library sold for 252l. 19s.; a handsome modern town coach for 49l. 7s. The aggregate of the four days' sale was 1,800l. 11s.d. In a[230] newspaper, October, 1813, we read:—"At the sale of the effects of the Rev. Mr. Huntington, at Pentonville, an old arm-chair, intrinsically worth fifty shillings, actually sold for sixty guineas; and many other articles fetched equally high prices, so anxious were his besotted admirers to obtain some precious memorial of that artful fanatic." One of his steady followers purchased a barrel of ale, which had been brewed for Christmas, "because he would have something to remember him by."

Huntington is described as having been, towards the close of his career, a fat, burly man, with a red face, which rose just above the pulpit cushion; and a thick, guttural, and rather indistinct voice. A contemporary says:—"His pulpit prayers are remarkable for omitting all for the King and his country. He excels in extempore eloquence. Having formally announced his text, he lays his Bible at once aside, and never refers to it again. He has every possible text and quotation at his fingers' end. He proceeds directly to his object, and except such incidental digressions as 'Take care of your pockets! Wake that snoring sinner! Silence that noisy numskull! Turn out that drunken dog!' he never deviates from his course. Nothing can exceed his dictatorial dogmatism. Believe him, none but him—that's enough. When he wishes to bind the faith of his congregation, he will say, over and over, 'As sure as I am born, 'tis so;' or, 'I believe the plain English of it to be this.' And then he will add, by way of clenching his point, 'Now you can't help it,' or, 'It must be so, in spite of you.' He does this with a most significant shake of the head, and with a sort of Bedlam hauteur, with all the dignity of defiance. He will then sometimes observe, softening his deportment, 'I don't know whether I make you understand these things, but I understand them well.' He rambles sadly and strays so completely from his text, that you often lose sight of it. The divisions of his sermons are so numerous that one of his discourses might be divided into three. Preaching is[231] with him talking; his discourses, story-telling. Action he has none, except that of shifting his handkerchief from hand to hand and hugging his cushion. Nature has bestowed on him a vigorous original mind, and he employs it in everything. Survey him when you will, he seems to have rubbed off none of his native rudeness or blackness. All his notions are his own, as well as his mode of imparting them. Religion has not been discovered by him through the telescopes of commentators."

Huntington's portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery, in South Kensington. He "might pass, as far as appearances go, for a convict, but he looks too conceited. The vitality and strength of his constitution are fearful to behold, and it is certain that he looks better fitted for coal-heaving than for religious oratory."—History of Clerkenwell, 1865, pp. 529-531.


A Correspondent of the Athenæum, 1865, writes:—"While some philosophers seek information in the Far West, and others in the not-much-nearer East—one, perchance, reducing eccentric arrow heads to a civilised alphabet; another metamorphosing emblematic pitch-forks, tom-cats, &c., of 2,000 A.M. into sensation novels of the period; a third studying the customs and annals of pre-historic America by the aid of Aztec pots and pipkins—it has been the happy lot of the undersigned, with no greater effort than a short railway journey and a pleasant walk, to light upon a treasure of antiquity, which may not be without interest to some of your readers. The internal evidence of the following lines is sufficient to show what they purport to be—viz. the epitaph of an accomplished parish officer at Crayford, in Kent. They run as follows:—

"Here lieth the body of
Peter Isnell
(30 years Clerk of this Parish.)


"He lived respected as a pious and mirthful man, and died on his way to church to assist at a wedding on the 31st day of March, 1811; aged seventy years.

"The inhabitants of Crayford have raised this stone to his cheerful memory and as a tribute to his long and faithful services.

"The Life of this Clerk was just threescore and ten,
Nearly half of which time he had sung out Amen;
In his Youth, he was married, like other young men,
But his wife died one day, so he chanted Amen.
A second he took, she departed, what then?
He married and buried a third with Amen.
Thus his joys and his sorrows were Trebled, but then
His voice was deep Bass as he sung out Amen.
On the horn he could blow as well as most men,
So his horn was exalted in blowing Amen;
But he lost all his Wind after threescore and ten,
And here with three Wives he waits till again
The trumpet shall rouse him to sing out Amen."

Strangely Eccentric, yet Sane.

The study of psychology proves that hallucinations, or illusions, may exist in man without the intellect being disordered. In some instances, they can be produced, by effort of the will. Dr. Wigan, in his able work, Duality of the Mind, relates:—"A painter who succeeded to a large portion of the practice, and (as he thought) to more than all the talent of Sir Joshua Reynolds, was so extensively employed, that he informed me he had once painted (large and small) three hundred portraits in one year. This would seem physically impossible, but the secret of his rapidity and of his astonishing success was this: He required but one sitting, and painted with miraculous facility. I myself saw him execute a Kit-Kat portrait of a gentleman well known to me in little more than eight hours; it was minutely finished, and a most striking likeness. On asking him to explain it, he said, 'When a sitter came, I looked at him attentively for half-an-hour, sketching from time to time on the canvas. I wanted no[233] more—I put away my canvas, and took another sitter. When I wished to resume my first portrait, I took the man and sat him in the chair, where I saw him as distinctly as if he had been before me in his own proper person—I may almost say more vividly. I looked from time to time at the imaginary figure, then worked with my pencil, then referred to the countenance, and so on, just as I should have done had the sitter been there. When I looked at the chair, I saw the man! This made me very popular; and, as I always succeeded in the likeness, people were very glad to be spared the tedious sittings of other painters. I gained a great deal of money, and was very careful of it. Well for me and my children that it was so. Gradually I began to lose the distinction between the imaginary figure and the real person, and sometimes disputed with sitters that they had been with me the day before. At last I was sure of it, and then—and then—all is confusion. I suppose they took the alarm. I recollect nothing more—I lost my senses—was thirty years in an asylum. The whole period, except the last six months of my confinement, is a dead blank in my memory, though sometimes, when people describe their visits, I have a sort of imperfect remembrance of them; but I must not dwell on these subjects.'"

It is an extraordinary fact that, when this gentleman resumed his pencil, after a lapse of thirty years, he painted nearly as well as when insanity compelled him to discontinue it. His imagination was still exceedingly vivid, as was proved by a portrait, for he had only two sittings of half-an-hour each; the latter solely for the dress and for the eyebrows, which he could not fix in his memory.

It was found that the excitement threatened danger, and he was persuaded to discontinue the exercise of his art. He lived but a short time afterwards.

A hallucination, although recognized and appreciated as such by the person who is the subject of it, may, by its vividness and long continuance, produce so depressing an influence on the mind as to be the cause of suicide. "I knew," says[234] Wigan, "a very intelligent and amiable man, who had the power of this placing before his own eyes himself, and often laughed heartily at his double, who always seemed to laugh in turn. This was long a subject of amusement and joke; but the ultimate result was lamentable. He became gradually convinced that he was haunted by himself, or (to violate grammar for the sake of clearly expressing his idea) by his self. This other self would argue with him pertinaciously, and, to his great mortification, sometimes refute him, which, as he was very proud of his logical powers, humiliated him exceedingly. He was eccentric, but was never placed in confinement or subjected to the slightest restraint. At length, worn out by the annoyance, he deliberately resolved not to enter on another year of existence—paid all his debts—wrapped up in separate papers the amount of the weekly demands—waited pistol in hand, the night of the 31st of December, and as the clock struck twelve, fired it into his mouth."

We read in Dr. de Boismont's very able treatise on Hallucinations (translated by Hulme):—"All mental labour, by over-exciting the brain, is liable to give rise to hallucinations. We have known many persons, and amongst others a medical man, who, when it was night, distinctly heard voices calling to them; some would stop to reply, or would go to the door, believing they heard the bell ring. This disposition seems to us not uncommon in persons who are in the habit of talking aloud to themselves."

We find in Abercrombie's work the case of a gentleman "who has been all his life affected by the appearance of spectral figures. To such an extent does this peculiarity exist, that, if he meets a friend in the street, he cannot at first satisfy himself whether he really sees the individual or a spectral figure. By close attention he can remark a difference between them, in the outline of the real figure being more distinctly defined than that of the spectral; but in general he takes means for correcting his visual impression by touching[235] the figure, or by listening to the sound of his footsteps. He has also the power of calling up spectral figures at his will, by directing his attention steadily to the conception of his own mind; and this may consist either of a figure or a scene which he has seen, or it may be a composition created by his imagination. But, though he has the faculty of producing the illusion he has no power of vanishing it; and, when he has called up any particular spectral figure or scene, he never can say how long it may continue to haunt him. The gentleman is in the prime of life, of sound mind, in good health, and engaged in business. Another of his family has been affected in the same manner, though in a slight degree."

It would be easy to mention many examples of illustrious men who have been subject to hallucinations, without their having in any way influenced their conduct.

Thus, Malebranche declared he heard the voice of God distinctly within him. Descartes, after long confinement, was followed by an invisible person, calling upon him to pursue the search of truth.

Byron occasionally fancied he was visited by a spectre, which he confesses was but the effect of an over-stimulated brain.

Dr. Johnson said that he distinctly heard his mother's voice call "Samuel." This was at a time when she was residing a long way off.

Pope, who suffered much from intestinal disease, one day asked his medical man what the arm was which seemed to come out of the wall.

Goethe positively asserts that he one day saw the exact counterpart of himself coming towards him. The German psychologists give the name of Deuteroscopia to this species of illusion.


Strange Hallucination.

On the 25th of November, 1840, Mr. Pearce, the author of several medical works, was tried at the Central Criminal Court for shooting at his wife with intent to murder, and acquitted on the ground of insanity. He entertained the peculiar notion that his wife wished to destroy him, and that she had bribed persons to effect his death in various ways, the principal of which was that his bed was constantly damped or wetted. This idea seems to have haunted him continually. He was shortly after his acquittal taken to Bethlem Hospital. For some time he refused to leave the gallery in which his cell was situated, and go into the airing-ground; in order, as it appeared, that he might watch his cell door to prevent anything "villanous" being done.

In a letter addressed to the Governors of the Hospital, Pearce argued the point in a very serious and connected manner. "If," said he, in allusion to some of the witnesses, who at various times had stated they felt his bedding and found it dry, "the simple act of placing one's hand upon a damp bed, or even the immediate impression on a man's body when he gets into it, was infallible, how could it occur so frequently that travellers at times are crippled with rheumatism, or lose their lives by remaining all night in damp bedding? If the thing was so easily discoverable, no man of common understanding could be injured by such a proceeding or accident at inns.

"Technically speaking, the matter of which I complain is not a delusion; it is an allegation—a positive charge, susceptible of proof, if proper evidence could be brought to bear upon the fact, not warped or suborned by the man or men in whose power I hourly am. It would be a sad delusion for me to declare my bed was composed of straw instead of flocks, or that I was a prophet, or the Pope, or Sir Astley Cooper. I grant I have no such crotchets. My mind is perfectly sound, calm, and reflective; and I implore you to[237] consider well the distinction between the things which cannot in nature physically be and the things which can physically be. It is a vital one in my sad case.

"It may be told you, I have charged persons elsewhere with this atrocity of damping my bed. I have done so. At the private madhouse, near Uxbridge, whence I was brought here, my bed was kept almost wet for three months, and I only saved my life by sleeping on a large trunk, with my daily articles of dress to cover me. Some portion of this time, the cold was eight and ten degrees below freezing-point."

He then solicited that a lock might be put upon his cell-door to protect him from this annoyance; and concluded his letter with this appeal: "I beseech you to commiserate my hard lot. I have some little claim to the title of a gentleman, and have been estimated by persons of some consideration in society; I am now, by a wretched chain of circumstances, in a great prison hospital, dragged from my children and my home, and the comforts of social life, and doomed to herd with desperadoes against the State, the destitute, and the mad."

Mr. Pearce was afterwards introduced, and answered the questions put to him in a very collected manner. He then stated that since his marriage-trip to Boulogne, he had been subjected to the greatest abuse from his present wife, and on one occasion, had been struck by her, and insulted by the vilest epithets. He complained that when first brought to Bethlem Hospital, he had been "chummed" with Oxford, and objected, but had been compelled to associate with that ruffian. He had taught Oxford the French language, and tried to improve his mind. Oxford had conveyed to him matter of importance relative to the great crime of which he had been guilty, and which he (Mr. Pearce) thought of sufficient importance to be communicated to the Secretary of State, and had accordingly written a letter in Latin, detailing the several circumstances. It had, however been[238] taken from him, and he did not know whether it had ever been sent to Downing Street. He wished to show how Oxford boasted of having cajoled Sir A. Morrison and Dr. Monro into a belief that he was insane, and how he sent for such books as Jack the Giant-Killer in order to make the jury let him off on the ground of insanity. This was what he (Mr. Pearce) wished to tell the Secretary of State, and now the letter was used against him.

After some further remarks, Mr. Pearce was questioned by the jury, and persisted in the statement that his bed was damped, that deleterious drugs were applied to his clothes, and that a conspiracy existed against him. He produced from under his clothes a small packet, which he said contained portions of the shirt of which mention had been made, and a snuff-box, in which he stated he had kept parts of the shirt, and which he "demanded" to have submitted to the test of Professor Faraday or some other eminent chemist. He announced himself to be grand-nephew of Zachariah Pearce, Bishop of Rochester, and translator of Longinus, and prayed, in conclusion, the jury to relieve him from the situation in which he was placed.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect "that Mr. Pearce was of unsound mind, and that he had been so from the 16th of October, 1840."

"Corner Memory Thompson."

In February, 1843, there died, at the age of 86, this remarkable person, whose eccentric success had become matter of public interest. John Thompson was a native of St. Giles's, where his father was a greengrocer; the boy on carrying a salad to the house of an undertaker in the neighbourhood, attracted attention by his ready and active manner, and the undertaker took him as errand-boy; then he became assistant, and next married his master's daughter, and thus obtained property. This was his start in life, and[239] enabled him to commence business as an auctioneer and brewer's valuer, by which he amassed considerable wealth. As he advanced in life, he sought retirement, and on a spot just below Hampstead Church, built for himself, without plan or order, "Frognal Priory," an assemblage of grotesque structures, but without any right of road to it, which he had to purchase at a great price. Thence, Thompson often went to town in his chariot, to collect curiosities for his house; and he might be seen pottering about among the curiosity-shops: as Horace Walpole cheapened Dicky Bateman's chairs at half-a-crown apiece for Strawberry Hill, so John Thompson collected his "items of taste and vertu" for Frognal Priory, and these, for a time, he would show to any person who rang at his gate. He was designated "Corner Memory," for his having, for a bet, drawn a plan of St. Giles's parish from memory, at three sittings, specifying every coach-turning, stable-yard, and public pump, and likewise the corner shop of every street. He possessed a most mechanical memory; for he would, by reading a newspaper over-night, repeat the whole of it next morning. He gained some notoriety by presenting to the Queen a carved bedstead, reputed once to have belonged to Cardinal Wolsey; with this he sent some other old furniture to Windsor Castle.

Mummy of a Manchester Lady.

About the middle of the last century there died near Manchester a maiden lady, a Miss Bexwick or Beswick, who had a great horror of being buried alive. To avoid this, she devised an estate to her medical adviser, the late Mr. Charles White and his two children, viz. Miss Rosa White and her sister, and his nephew, Captain White, on condition that the doctor paid her a morning visit for twelve months after her decease. In order to do this, it was requisite to embalm her, which he did; she was then placed in the attic of the[240] old mansion in which she died, and in which the doctor took up his residence. Upon his leaving it, she was removed to the house erected by him in King Street, Manchester, and which stood on the ground now occupied by the Town Hall. At the death of Mr. White, the doctor, she was sent to the Lying-in Hospital, where she remained until she was removed to her present resting-place, the Manchester Museum of Natural History, where the mummy is suspended in a case with a glass-door.

Mr. de Quincey, when a boy at Manchester School, at the beginning of the century, became acquainted with the mummy, and in one of his works mentions it being taken from the case, and the body of a notorious highwayman being substituted; but this is an embellishment or exaggeration of the already extraordinary story.


In the year 1827 there was living at Taunton a person who had often kept at home for several weeks under the idea of danger in going abroad. Sometimes he imagined that he was a cat, and seated himself on his hind-quarters; at other times he would fancy himself a teapot, and stand with one arm a-kimbo like the handle, and the other stretched out like the spout. At last he conceived himself to have died, and would not move or be moved till the coffin came. His wife, in serious alarm, sent for a surgeon, who addressed him with the usual salutation, "How do you do this morning?" "Do!" replied he in a low voice, "a pretty question to a dead man!" "Dead, sir; what do you mean?" "Yes; I died last Wednesday; the coffin will be here presently, and I shall be buried to-morrow." The surgeon, a man of sense and skill, immediately felt the patient's pulse, and shaking his head, said, "I find it is indeed too true; you are certainly defunct; the blood is in a state of stagnation, putrefaction is about to take place, and[241] the sooner you are buried the better." The coffin arrived, he was carefully placed in it, and carried towards the church. The surgeon had previously given instructions to several neighbours how to proceed. The procession had scarcely moved a dozen yards, when a person stopped to inquire who they were carrying to the grave: "Mr. ——, our late worthy overseer." "What! is the old rogue gone at last? a good release, for a greater villain never lived." The imaginary deceased no sooner heard this attack on his character, than he jumped up, and in a threatening posture said, "You lying scoundrel, if I were not dead I'd make you suffer for what you say; but as it is, I am forced to submit." He then quietly laid down again; but ere they had proceeded half-way to church, another party stopped the procession with the same inquiry, and added invective and abuse. This was more than the supposed corpse could bear; and jumping from the coffin, was in the act of following his defamers, when the whole party burst into an immoderate fit of laughter. The public exposure awakened him to a sense of his folly; he fought against the weakness, and in the end conquered it.

Here is an instance of a cure for hypochondriasis in Switzerland:—A wealthy and hypochondriacal farmer, who believed himself to be possessed by seven devils, applied to the Swiss doctor, Michael Schuppach, to rout the demoniac occupants of his distressed mind. "Friend," said Schuppach gravely, "you believe there are but seven devils in you; in reality there are eight, and the eighth is the captain of the band." To expel the eight unclean spirits the physician had recourse to an electrical apparatus, with which contrivance the farmer was of course utterly ignorant. For eight successive days the patient visited the doctor and underwent an electrical shock. At each of the first seven shocks the operator said, "There goes one of your devils." On the eighth day Schuppach said, "Now, we must relieve you of[242] the chief of the evil spirits—it'll be a tough job!" As these words were uttered, a violent shock sent the patient fairly to the floor. "And now," cried the benevolent impostor, "you are free of your devils—that last stroke was a settler!" The cure was complete.

Floral design



"The Wonder of all the Wonders that the
World ever Wondered at."

UNDER the title of "Horæ Subsecivæ," in the Dublin University Review, in 1833, vol. i., p. 482, by the late Dr. West, of Dublin, appeared the following amusing trifle:—

"Among Swift's works, we find a jeu d'esprit, entitled 'The Wonder of all the Wonders that the World ever Wondered at,' and purporting to be an advertisement of a conjurer. There is an amusing one of the same kind by a very humorous German writer, George Christopher Lichtenberg, which, as his works are not much known here, is perhaps worth translating. The occasion on which it was written was the following. In the year 1777, a celebrated conjurer of those days arrived at Göttingen. Lichtenberg, for some reason or other, did not wish him to exhibit there; and, accordingly, before the other had time even to announce his arrival, he wrote this advertisement, in his name, and had it printed and posted over the town. The whole was the work of one night. The result was, that the real Simon Pure decamped next morning without beat of drum, and never appeared in Göttingen again. Lichtenberg had spent some time in England, and understood the language perfectly, so that he may have seen Swift's paper. Still, even granting that he took the hint from him, it must be allowed he has improved on it not a little, and displayed not only more delicacy, which, indeed, was easy enough, but more wit also.



"'The admirers of supernatural Physics are hereby informed that the far-famed magician, Philadelphus Philadelphia (the same that is mentioned by Cardanus, in his book De Naturâ Supernaturali, where he is styled "The envied of Heaven and Hell"), arrived here a few days ago by the mail, although it would have been just as easy for him to come through the air, seeing that he is the person who, in the year 1482, in the public market at Venice, threw a ball of cord into the clouds, and climbed upon it into the air till he got out of sight. On the 9th of January, of the present year, he will commence at the Merchants' Hall, publico-privately, to exhibit his one-dollar tricks, and continue weekly to improve them, till he comes to his five-hundred-guinea tricks; amongst which last are some which, without boasting, excel the wonderful itself, nay are, as one may say, absolutely impossible.

"'He has had the honour of performing with the greatest possible approbation before all the potentates, high and low, of the four quarters of the world; and even in the fifth, a few weeks ago, before her Majesty Queen Oberea, at Otaheite.

"'He is to be seen every day, except on Mondays and Thursdays, when he is employed in clearing the heads of the honourable members of the Congress of his countrymen at Philadelphia; and at all hours, except from eleven to twelve in the forenoon, when he is engaged at Constantinople; and from twelve to one, when he is at his dinner.

"'The following are some of his common one-dollar tricks; and they are selected, not as being the best of them, but as they can be described in the fewest words:—

"'1. Without leaving the room, he takes the weathercock off St. James's Church, and sets it on St. John's, and vice versâ. After a few minutes he puts them back again in their proper places. N.B. All this without a magnet, by mere sleight of hand.


"'2. He takes two ladies, and sets them on their heads on a table, with their legs up; he then gives them a blow, and they immediately begin to spin like tops with incredible velocity, without breach either of their head-dress by the pressure, or of decorum by the falling of their petticoats, to the very great satisfaction of all present.

"'3. He takes three ounces of the best arsenic, boils it in a gallon of milk, and gives it to the ladies to drink. As soon as they begin to get sick, he gives them two or three spoonfuls of melted lead, and they go away in high spirits.

"'4. He takes a hatchet, and knocks a gentleman on the head with it, so that he falls dead on the floor. When there, he gives a second blow, whereupon the gentleman immediately gets up as well as ever, and generally asks what music that was.

"'5. He draws three or four ladies' teeth, makes the company shake them well together in a bag, and then puts them into a little cannon, which he fires at the aforesaid ladies' heads, and they find their teeth white and sound in their places again.

"'6. A metaphysical trick, otherwise commonly called παν, metaphysica, whereby he shows that a thing can actually be and not be at the same time. It requires great preparation and cost, and is shown so low as a dollar, solely in honour of the University.

"'7. He takes all the watches, rings, and other ornaments of the company, and even money if they wish, and gives every one a receipt for his property. He then puts them all in a trunk, and brings them off to Cassel. In a week after, each person tears his receipt, and that moment finds whatever he gave in his hands again. He has made a great deal of money by this trick.

"'N.B. During this week, he performs in the top room at the Merchants' Hall; but after that, up in the air over the pump in the market-place; for whoever does not pay, will not see.'"


The Princess Caraboo. From a sketch by Bird, R.A.

The Princess Caraboo. From a sketch by Bird, R.A.

"The Princess Caraboo."

Early in the year 1865 there died at Bristol a female of considerable personal attractions, whose early history was amusing enough, yet took a strong hold upon credulous persons half-a-century since. She pretended to be a native[247] of Javasu, in the Indian Ocean, and to have been carried off by pirates, by whom she had been sold to the captain of a brig. Her first appearance was in the spring of 1817, at Almondsbury, in Gloucestershire. Having been ill-used when on board the ship, she had jumped overboard, she said, swam on shore, and wandered about six weeks before she came to Almondsbury. She appears next to have found her way to Bath, and there to have created a sensation in the literary and fashionable circles of Bath and other places, which lasted till it was discovered that the whole affair was a romance, cleverly sustained and acted out by a young and prepossessing girl, who sought to maintain the imposition by the invention of hieroglyphics and characters to represent her native language.

In 1817, there was published at Bristol a narrative of this singular imposition, "practised upon the benevolence of a lady residing in the Vicinity of Bristol by a young woman of the name of Mary Willcocks, alias Baker, alias Bakerstendht, alias Caraboo, Princess of Javasu;" for which work Bird, the Royal Academician, drew two portraits.

It was ascertained that she was a native of Witheridge, in Devonshire, where her father was a cobbler. She appears to have taken flight to America, and in 1824 she returned to England, and hired apartments in New Bond Street, where she exhibited herself to the public at the charge of one shilling; but she did not attract any great attention.

On being deposed from the honours which had been awarded to her, "the Princess" retired into comparatively humble life, and married. There was a kind of grim humour in the occupation which she subsequently followed, that of an importer of leeches: but she conducted her operations with much judgment and ability, and carried on her trade with credit to herself and satisfaction to her customers. The quondam "Princess" died, leaving a daughter, who, like her mother, is described as very beautiful.


There is, it should be added, a very strange story of the Princess having got an introduction to Napoleon Bonaparte at St. Helena, of which affair the following account appeared in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal, September 13th, 1817:—

"A letter from Sir Hudson Lowe, lately received from St. Helena, forms at present the leading topic of conversation in the higher circles. It states that on the day preceding the date of the last dispatches, a large ship was discovered in the offing. The wind was strong from the S.S.E. After several hours' tacking, with apparent intention to reach the island, the vessel was observed to bear away for the N.W., and in the course of an hour the boat was seen entering the harbour. It was rowed by a single person. Sir Hudson went alone to the beach, and to his astonishment saw a female of interesting appearance drop the oars and spring to land. She stated that she had sailed from Bristol, under the care of some missionary ladies, in a vessel called the Robert and Anne, Captain Robinson, destined for Philadelphia; that the vessel being driven out of its course by a tempest, which continued for several successive days, the crew at length perceived land, which the captain recognised to be St. Helena: that she immediately conceived an ardent desire of seeing the man with whose future fortunes she was persuaded her own were mysteriously connected; and her breast swelled with the prospect of contemplating face to face an impostor not equalled on earth since the days of Mohammed; but a change of wind to the S.S.E. nearly overset her hopes. Finding the captain resolved to proceed according to his original destination, she watched her opportunity, and springing with a large clasp-knife into a small boat which was slung at the stern, she cut the ropes, dropt safely into the ocean, and rowed away. The wind was too strong from the land to allow of the vessel being brought about to thwart her object. Sir Hudson introduced her to Bonaparte[249] under the name of Caraboo! She described herself as Princess of Javasu, and related a tale of extraordinary interest, which seemed in a high degree to delight the captive chief. He embraced her with every demonstration of enthusiastic rapture, and besought Sir Hudson that she might be allowed an apartment in his house, declaring that she alone was an adequate solace in his captivity.

"Sir Hudson subjoins: 'The familiar acquaintance with the Malay tongue possessed by this most extraordinary personage (and there are many on the island who understand that language), together with the knowledge she displays of the Indian and Chinese politics, and the eagerness with which she speaks of these subjects, appear to convince every one that she is no impostor. Her manner is noble and fascinating in a wonderful degree.'

"A private letter adds the following testimony to the above statement, 'Since the arrival of this lady, her manners, and I may say the countenance and figure of Bonaparte appear to be wholly altered. From being reserved and dejected, he has become gay and communicative. No more complaints are heard about inconveniences at Longwood. He has intimated to Sir Hudson his determination to apply to the Pope for a dispensation to dissolve his marriage with Maria Louisa, and to sanction his indissoluble union with the enchanting Caraboo.'"

However, corroboration of this strange story is wanting.

Fat Folks.—Lambert and Bright.

About the centre of the new burial-ground of St. Martin's Stamford Baron, is a black slate inscribed with gilt letters to the memory of that immense mass of mortality, Daniel Lambert, the most popularly known of "Fat Folks."


"Altus in animo, in Corpore Maximus.
In remembrance of that prodigy in nature,
Daniel Lambert, a native of Leicester,
Who was possessed of an exalted and convivial mind;
and, in personal greatness had no competitor.
He measured 3 ft. 1 in. round the leg;
and weighed 52 st. 11 lbs.!
He departed this life on the 21st June, 1809,
aged 39 years.
As a testimony of respect, this
Stone is erected by his friends in Leicester."

Daniel Lambert was born on the 13th of March, 1770, at Leicester. His parents were not persons of remarkable dimensions: but he had an uncle and aunt on the father's side who were both very heavy.

At the age of 19, young Lambert began to imagine that he should be a heavy man. He possessed extraordinary muscular power, and at the above age could lift great weights, and carry five-hundred weight with ease. He succeeded his father in the office of keeper of the prison at Leicester, within a year after which his bulk began rapidly to increase, owing to his confinement and sedentary life. Though he never possessed any extraordinary agility, he was able to kick to the height of seven feet, standing on one leg.

About the year 1793, when Lambert weighed 32 stone, he walked from Woolwich to London, with much less apparent fatigue than several middle-sized men who were his companions. Upon this Mr. Wadd remarks: "It is clear, therefore, that he was a strong, active man, and continued so after the disease had made great progress; and I think it may fairly be inferred that he would not have fallen a sacrifice so early in life, if he had possessed fortitude enough to meet the evil, and to have opposed it with determined perseverance."

Lambert was very expert in swimming, and taught hundreds of the young people of Leicester. His power of floating,[251] owing to his uncommon bulk, was so great that he could swim with two men of ordinary size upon his back. He proved a humane keeper of the prison, and upon his retirement from the office, the magistrates settled upon him an annuity of 50l. for life, without any solicitation.

He now lived a life of leisure at Leicester, but his uncommon corpulence brought him many visitors; and he at length found that he must either submit to be a close prisoner in his own house, or endure the inconveniences without receiving any of the profits of an exhibition. He then determined to visit London; and as it was impossible to procure a carriage large enough to admit him, he had a vehicle built to convey him to the metropolis, where he arrived in the spring of 1806, and fixed his abode in Piccadilly. Here he was visited by much company. Among them was the celebrated Polish dwarf, Count Boruwlaski, who had before seen Lambert at Birmingham; the little man exclaimed that he had seen the face twenty years ago, but it was not surely the same body. In the course of conversation, Lambert asked what quantity of cloth the Count required for a coat, and how many he thought his would make him. "Not many," answered Boruwlaski; "I take good large piece of cloth myself—almost tree-quarters of a yard." At this rate, one of Lambert's sleeves would have abundantly sufficed for the purpose. The Count felt one of Mr. Lambert's legs, "Ah, mine Got!" he exclaimed, "pure flesh and blood; I feel de warm. No deception, I am pleased, for I did hear it was deception." Mr. Lambert asked if the Count's lady was alive; to which he replied, "No, she is dead, and I am not very sorry, for when I affront her, she put me on the mantel-shelf for punishment."[30]

In September, 1806, Lambert returned to Leicester, but repeated his visit in the following year, and fixed his abode[252] in Leicester Square. Here, for the first time, he felt inconvenienced by the atmosphere of the metropolis; accordingly, by the advice of Dr. Heaviside, his physician, Lambert returned to his native place. He then made a tour through the principal cities and towns of England, and proved as attractive in the provinces as he had formerly been in the metropolis. He now enjoyed excellent health, and felt perfectly at ease, either while sitting up or lying in bed. His diet was plain, and the quantity moderate. For many years he never drank anything stronger than water. He slept well, but scarcely so much as other persons, and his respiration was as free as any moderately-sized individual. His countenance was manly and intelligent; he possessed great information, much ready politeness, and conversed with ease and facility. He had a powerful and melodious tenor voice, and his articulation was perfectly clear and unembarrassed.

Lambert had, however, for some time shown dropsical symptoms. In June 1809, he was weighed at Huntingdon, and by the Caledonian balance was found to be 52 stone 11 lb. (14 lb. to the stone), 10st. 4lb. heavier than Bright, the miller of Malden. His measure round the body was three yards four inches, and one yard one inch round the leg.

A few days after this measurement, on June 20th, he arrived from Huntingdon, at the Wagon and Horses Inn, St. Martin's, Stamford, where preparations were made to receive company the next day, and during Stamford races. He was announced for exhibition; he gave his orders cheerfully, without any presentiment that they were to be his last: he was then in bed, only fatigued from his journey, but anxious to be able to see company early in the morning. Before nine o'clock however, the day following, he was a corpse! He died in his apartment on the ground-floor of the inn, for he had long been incapable of walking up-stairs.

His interment was an arduous labour. His coffin[253] measured six feet four inches long, four feet four inches wide, and two feet four inches deep, and contained one hundred and twelve superficial feet of elm. It was built upon two axletrees and four wheels; the room-door and wall of the room in which he lay were taken down to allow of his exit, and thus his remains were drawn to the place of interment at St. Martin's, Stamford. His grave was dug with a gradual slope for several yards; and upwards of twenty men were employed for nearly half-an-hour in getting the massive corpse into its resting-place: the immense substance of the legs made the coffin, of necessity, at most a square case. The funeral was attended by thousands of persons from Stamford and the country many miles round.

At the Wagon and Horses Inn were preserved two suits of Lambert's clothes: seven ordinarily-sized men were repeatedly enclosed within his waistcoat, without breaking a stitch or straining a button; each suit of clothes cost 20l. His name was remembered for a time as a tavern sign: one on the north side of Ludgate Street remained till within a few years.

The great weight of Edward Bright, the miller of Malden, has been incidentally mentioned. He died on November 10th, 1750, at the age of 30. He was an active man till within a year or two of his death; when his corpulency so overpowered his strength, that his life was a burthen to him; yet, as we have seen, he was ten stone four pounds lighter than Lambert. Mr. Wadd says it is supposed that Bright's weight at his death was forty-four stone, or 616 pounds.

Horace Walpole relates the following story of Bright's weight backed against that of the Duke of Cumberland:—"There has been a droll cause in Westminster Hall: a man laid another a wager that he produced a person who should weigh as much again as the Duke. When they had betted, they recollected not knowing how to desire the Duke to step into the scale. They agreed to establish his weight at twenty stone, which, however, is supposed to be two more[254] than he weighs. One Bright was then produced, who is since dead, and who actually weighed forty-two stone and a half. As soon as he was dead, the person who had lost objected that he had been weighed in his clothes, and though it was impossible to suppose that his clothes could weigh above two stone, they went to law. There were the Duke's twenty stone bawled over a thousand times,—but the righteous law decided against the man who had won!"

Bright, when twelve years old, weighed one hundred and forty-four pounds; and there was another boy in Malden at the same time, fourteen years of age, who weighed as much.

There was, however, an Essex man, who not only attained a great weight, but lived to a great age, which is remarkable among persons of this class. This was James Mansfield, a butcher, who died at the village of Debden, on November 9th, 1862, in his 82nd year. Though not above the ordinary height, he measured nine feet round and weighed thirty-three stone. When sitting in his chair, made especially for his use, his abdomen covered his knees and hung down almost to the ground. When he lay down, it was necessary to pack his head to prevent suffocation: he could only lie upon one side. He was exhibited, in 1851, in Leicester Square, as "the greatest man in the world." In a suit of his clothes four ordinarily-sized men might be comfortably buttoned up. Mansfield, just before his death, was a hale old man, of good constitution, and a sanguine and happy temperament.

Corpulency naturally subjects its bearers to some of

"The thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to."

Among these inconveniences is the absolute prohibition from horsemanship, and the difficulty of transportation from place to place, which may be illustrated by the following anecdotes, related by Mr. Wadd, in Brande's Journal, 1828:—


Mr. B.——, of Bath, a remarkably large, corpulent, and powerful man, wanting to go by the mail, tried for a place a short time before it started. Being told it was full, he still determined to get admission, and opening the door, which no one near him ventured to oppose, he got in. When the other passengers came, the ostler reported that there was a gentleman in the coach; he was requested to come out, but having drawn up the blind, he remained quiet. Hearing, however, a consultation on the means of making him alight, and a proposal to "pull him out," he let down the blind, and laying his enormous hand on the edge of the door, he asked, who would dare to pull him out, drew up the blind again, and waiting some time, fell asleep. About one in the morning he awoke, and calling out to know whereabout he was on the journey, he perceived, what was the fact, that to end the altercation with him, the horses had been put to another coach, and that he had spent the night at the inn-door at Bath, where he had taken possession of the carriage.

A similar occurrence took place at Huddersfield. A gentleman went to a proprietor of one of the coaches to take a place for Manchester, but owing to the enormous size of his person he was refused, unless he would consent to be taken as lumber, at 9d. per stone, hinting at the same time the advantage of being split in two. The gentleman was not to be disheartened by this disappointment, but adopted the plan of sending the ostler of one of the inns to take a place for him, which he did, and in the morning wisely took the precaution by fixing himself in the coach, with the assistance of the bystanders, from whence he was not to be removed easily. There placed, he was taken to his destination. The consequence was, on his return he was necessitated to adopt a similar process, to the no small disappointment of the proprietors, who were compelled to convey three gentlemen who had previously taken their places in a chaise, as there was no room beside this importunate passenger, who weighed about thirty-six stone.


A Cure for Corpulence.

In 1863, a philanthropist laid before the public the narrative of a man who was tremendously fat, who tried hard for years to thin himself, and who at last succeeded. Mr. Banting, the gentleman who had the courage and good feeling to write and publish this narrative, not long before, measured 5ft. 5in., and weighed about 14¼ stone. He owns that he had a great deal to bear from his unfortunate make. In the first place, the little boys in the streets laughed at him; in the next place, he could not tie his own shoes; and, lastly, he had, it appears, to come down-stairs backwards. But he was a man who struggled gallantly, and whatever he was recommended to do, he honestly tried to carry out. He drank mineral waters, and consulted physicians, and took sweet counsel with innumerable friends, but all was in vain. He lived upon sixpence a-day, and earned it, so that the favourite recipe of Abernethy failed in his case. He went into all sorts of vapour baths and shampooing baths. He took no less than ninety Turkish baths, but nothing did him any good; he was still as fat as ever. A kind friend recommended increased bodily exertion every morning, and nothing seemed more likely to be effectual than rowing. So this stout warrior with fat got daily into a good, safe, heavy boat, and rowed a couple of hours. But he was only pouring water into the bucket of the Danaides. What he gained in one way he lost in another. His muscular vigour increased; but then, with this there came a prodigious appetite which he felt compelled to indulge, and consequently he got fatter than he had been. At last he hit upon the right adviser, who told him what to do, and whose advice was so successful that Mr. Banting could soon walk down-stairs forwards, put his old clothes quite over the suit that now fitted him, and, far from being made the victim of unkind or ill-judged chaff, was universally congratulated on his pleasant and becoming appearance. The machinery by[257] which this change was effected was of a very simple kind. He was told to leave off eating anything but meat. It appears that none of his numerous friendly advisers, and none of the physicians he consulted, penetrated so far into the secresy of his domestic habits as to have discovered that twice a day he used formerly to indulge in bowls of bread and milk. The Solomon who saved him cut off this great feeder of fat, and since then Mr. Banting has been a thinner and a happier man.—Abridged from the Saturday Review.

Epitaphs on Fat Folks.

In the year 1755, died the great tallow-chandler whose life and death are thus laconically recorded on his tombstone:—

Here lies in earth an honest fellow,
Who died by fat, and lived by tallow.

Another corpulent person is thus lamented:—

Here lies the body of Thomas Dollman,
A vastly fat, though not a very tall man;
Full twenty stone he weighed, yet I am told,
His captain thought him worth his weight in gold:
Grim Death, who ne'er to nobody shows favour,
Hurried him off for all his good behaviour;
Regardless of his weight, he bundled him away,
'Fore any one "Jack Robinson" could say.

A moral lesson is given in the following:—

But why he grew so fat i' th' waist,
Now mark ye the true reason,
When other people used to fast,
He feasted in that season.
So now, alas! hath cruel Death
Laid him in his sepulchre.

Therefore, good people, here 'tis seen,
You plainly may see here,
That fat men sooner die than lean,
Witness Fat Johnny Holder.


The son of a Dean, a man of very spare habit, expressing to the son of a Bishop his astonishment at the great difference of the size of their fathers, the Bishop being very fat, he explained the reason in the following extempore parody of the old song:—

There's a difference between
A Bishop and a Dean,
And I'll tell you the reason why:
A Dean cannot dish up
A dinner like a Bishop,
To feed such a fat son as I.

Count Boruwlaski, the Polish Dwarf.

One of the best attested cases of dwarfish existence on record is that of Joseph Boruwlaski, the Polish dwarf, who was the delight of our grandfathers, and who, after the age of seventy, suddenly found himself able with his hand to raise the latch of a door which up to that period he had always raised with a stick. How many inches he grew is not recorded, but the fact of his growth is sufficiently astonishing, and is only paradoxical so long as we continue to hold the general opinion that "men do not grow after reaching maturity," whereas, in strict language, we must admit that they grow as long as they live, but do not normally surpass the standard of maturity; growth continues, but only to supply the waste, not enough, as in childhood, to supply the waste and furnish surplus for the increase.

Count Joseph Boruwlaski is, in many respects, the most interesting dwarf of whom we have accurate records, and he has written his own memoir to complete our interest. He has given us his height at various epochs as follows:—

 Ft.  In.
At one year old he measured 0 11
At three     „        „ 1 2
At six       „        „ 1 5
At ten       „        „ 1 9
At fifteen   „        „ 2 1
At twenty    „        „ 2 4
At twenty-five years old he measured 2 11
At thirty             „        „ 3 3


Count Boruwlaski in disgrace with his wife.

Count Boruwlaski in disgrace with his wife.

Here he stopped until he was seventy. He was born at Chaliez, in Russian Poland, November, 1739, of noble parents, who were richer in pedigree than in land or money. They were both well formed, healthy, and of the ordinary size; yet of their six children, three were dwarfs; and, to add to the singularity, the dwarfs alternated with well-formed[260] children. Joseph was 8 inches in length when born, yet perfectly well-formed, and he sucked with infantine success, walking and talking at about the usual age.

On reaching his ninth year, he lost his father, who left a widow and six children very ill-provided for. Luckily, a friend of the widow, a Madame de Caorliz, adopted Joseph, and with her the boy spent four happy years. His benefactress then married, and this event produced a change in his fortunes. A dwarf so remarkable was naturally enough an envied possession; and the Countess Humieska, a very great person indeed, felt the desire natural in so great a person, to have this among her curiosities. Domiciled with the great Countess, Joseph began to taste the splendours and luxuries of courts. They travelled through Poland, Germany, and France, and everywhere he was the lion of the hour. At Vienna he was presented to Maria Theresa, who, pleased with his courtly compliments, kissed him, and complimented the Countess on her travelling companion. On another occasion, Joseph, in the lap of the Empress, who had sixteen children of her own, and doted on them, was looking at the hand in which his own was clasped, and which flashed light from a ring bearing her cipher in brilliants. She asked him if he was pleased with the ring; he told her it was the hand he looked at, and at the same time raised it to his lips. The flattered Empress insisted on giving him the ring; but alas! it was too large, whereupon she called to a young lady of about six years old, and taking from her a fine diamond ring, placed it on Joseph's finger: this young lady was Marie Antoinette.

From Vienna the travellers proceeded to Munich, and thence, after countless fêtes, they went to Luneville, the court of Stanislas Leckzinski, titular King of Poland. Here Joseph met the dwarf Bébé, of whom Boruwlaski gives this account:—"With this prince (Stanislas) lived the famous Bébé, till then considered the most extraordinary dwarf that was ever seen; and who was, indeed, perfectly well proportioned,[261] and with a pleasant physiognomy, but who (I am sorry to say it, for the honour of us dwarfs) had all the defects in his mind and way of thinking which are commonly attributed to us. He was at that time about thirty,[31] and his height two feet eight inches; and when measured, it appeared that I was much shorter, being no more than two feet four inches. At our first interview he showed much fondness for me; but, on perceiving that I preferred the company and conversation of sensible people, and above all, when he perceived that the King took pleasure in my society, he conceived the most violent jealousy and hatred of me; so that I escaped his fury only by a miracle. One day, we were both in the apartment of his Majesty, who caressed me, and asked me several questions, testifying his pleasure and approbation of my replies in the most affectionate manner. Then addressing Bébé, he said: 'You see, Bébé, what a difference there is between him and you. He is amiable, cheerful, entertaining, and instructed, whereas you are but a little machine.' At these words I saw fury sparkle in his eyes; he answered nothing, but his countenance and blush proved how violently he was agitated. A moment after, the King having gone into his cabinet, Bébé availed himself of the opportunity to execute his revengeful projects; and slyly approaching, seized me by the waist, and endeavoured to push me on to the fire. Luckily, I laid hold with both hands of the iron prop which sustained the tongs and poker, and thus prevented his wicked intentions. The noise I made in defending myself brought back the king to my assistance. He afterwards called the servants, and ordered Bébé corporal punishment. In vain did I intercede."

On quitting the court of Stanislas, Boruwlaski visited that of Versailles, where the Queen, the Duke of Orleans,[262] and other distinguished personages, made as much of him as vanity could desire. The Count Orginski, finding he had a taste for music, provided him a master for the guitar. At the table of this nobleman, he one day allowed himself to be concealed in a large vase, which was placed amid the dishes, and to which the attention of the guests was directed, till their curiosity was fairly roused, expecting some rarity surpassing all the delicacies of the already sumptuous banquet; and then Joseph suddenly stood up, amid shouts of laughter.

From Paris he went to Holland, and thence back to Poland. His reception in Warsaw was enthusiastic; and as travel and reading had given polish to his manners and culture to his intellect, his society became sought after for something more than mere curiosity. He now attended the theatre, and became fascinated with the actresses. His first love was a French actress, who, amused and flattered, pretended to return his passion, and for a time he was in a delirium of happiness; but an unlucky discovery of her having talked about his passion with mockery, cruelly dispelled his brief dream. To be in love with an actress, and to find that she has been laughing at the passion she has inspired, and only feigning to return it for some object of her own, is what many young men have had to experience; but perhaps in none could the mortification of self-love have been so cruel as in the little dwarf, who knew the ridicule which must necessarily attend his presumption in claiming the privilege of a man. But the heart having once known the bitter-sweet of love, will not long be kept from it; and Joseph soon fixed his affections on Isolina, a protégée of the Countess Humieska, who, living under the same roof with him, was much astonished to observe that he allowed every other lady to take him on her lap and caress him; she accused him of not liking her, because to her only he was reserved and shy. Now, he had not forgotten the ridicule of the French actress: for a whole twelvemonth he continued loving in silence, in doubt,[263] and in trouble. His health suffered; at last, passion triumphed over his fears; he declared his love, which the lady treated as the love of a child. "Really," said she, "you are a child, and I cannot help laughing at your extravagance." He tried to convince her that he was no child, and would not be loved like a child; when she burst out laughing, told him he knew not what he said, and left the room.

This was a ludicrous situation, but with a tragic aspect; a young and lively woman receiving a passionate declaration from a being not taller than a child three or four years old, may be excused if her sense of the ludicrous prevented her understanding the seriousness of the passion she inspired. Joseph was hurt, but not altogether dissatisfied. The secret no longer pressed its uneasy burden on his mind. She knew of his love; she could now interpret his reserve—his melancholy—his silent adoration. In time she might be touched. For the first few days, indeed, there seemed little hope of such an issue. She bantered him incessantly, and the more he tried to speak to her as a man, the more she persisted in treating him like a child. The effect of this was a serious illness; for two months he was in danger. He recovered, and she, from that time, gave up the dangerous game; and they were eventually married.

We must now accompany Boruwlaski to England, where he was received by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and was presented to the King and Queen, and patronized by the Prince of Wales and the nobility.

Among the remarkable persons whom the Count met was O'Brien, the Irish giant. "Our surprise," says Boruwlaski, "was mutual—the giant remained a moment speechless with astonishment, and then stooping half-way, he presented his hand, which could easily have contained a dozen of mine, and made me a very pretty compliment." When they stood beside each other, the giant's knee was nearly on a level with the dwarf's head. They both resided together[264] some time at an inn at Epping, where they often walked out together, greatly to the amusement of the townsfolk.

Mathews, the comedian, was a friend and admirer of Boruwlaski, and contrived to get an interview arranged with George IV. for the presentation of a copy of the Count's Memoirs, published in 1788. Mathews and his little charge were ushered into the presence of the sovereign: the King rose and met Boruwlaski, raised him up in his arms, in a kind embrace, saying, "My dear old friend, how delighted I am to see you!" and then placed the little man upon a sofa. But the Count's loyalty not being so satisfied, he descended with the agility of a schoolboy, and threw himself at his master's feet, who, however, would not suffer him to remain in that position for a minute, but raised him again upon the sofa. In the course of the conversation, the Count, addressing the King in French, was told that his English was so good it was quite unnecessary to speak in any other language; for his Majesty, with his usual tact, easily discerned that he should be a loser in resigning the Count's prettily-broken English, which (as he always thought in his native language, and literally translated its idioms) was the most amusing imaginable, and totally distinct from the imperfect English of other foreigners.... The King, in the course of conversation, said, "But, Count, you were married when I first knew you: I hope madame is still alive, and as well as yourself." "Ah, no! Majesty; Isolina die thirty year! Fine woman! sweet, beauty body! You have no idea, Majesty." "I am sorry to hear of her death; such a charming person must have been a great loss to you, Count." "Dat is very true, Majesty; indid, indid, it was great sorrow for me!" His Majesty then inquired how old the Count was, and on being told, with a start of surprise observed, "Count, you are the finest man of your age I ever saw. I wish you could return the compliment." To which Boruwlaski, not to be outdone in courtesy, ludicrously replied, "Oh! Majesty, fine body! indid, indid; beauty body!"


The King, on accepting the book which the Count wished to present, turned to the Marchioness of Conyngham, and took from her a little case containing a beautiful miniature watch and seals, attached to a superb chain, the watch exquisitely ornamented with jewels. This the King begged the Count to accept, saying, as he held the Memoirs in the other hand, "My dear friend, I shall read and preserve this as long as I live, for your sake; and in return I request you will wear this for mine." His Majesty said to Mathews, in the absence of the Count, "If I had a dozen sons, I could not point out to them a more perfect model of good breeding and elegance than the Count; he is really a most accomplished and charming person."

It appears that, by the kindness of friends, Boruwlaski had purchased an annuity, which secured him independence for the remainder of his life. Out of this transaction arose a laughable incident. One day he called at the insurance office with Mr. Mathews, and on being asked how he was, he replied, with the vivacity of eighteen, "Oh, never better! quite vel!" and he ran out of the office from the gaze of the aged insurer, scarcely able to restrain his merriment till he got out of hearing. He then told Mr. Mathews, during his convulsions of laughter, that the person they had just seen was the granter of his annuity. "Ha! ha! ha! O Mattew, I cannot help! Oh poor devil, poor hold body! It maks me laffing, poor hold hanimal! Oh he say prayer for me die, often when he slip! Oh you may depend—ha! ha! ha! but Boruwlaski never die! He calcoolated dat dwarf not live it long, et I live it forty year to plag him. Oh he is in a hobbel debblishly! I tellee dat! He fifty year yonger den Boruwlaski; mintime he dead as soon as me. Oh yes, you may be sure datdat is my oppinnon. Boruwlaski never die," playfully nodding his little head, "you may depend." Mr. Mathews asked him if the old man had any family (feeling some compassion for his hard case), to which the Count cried out, "Oh he have it shildren twenty, like a pig, poor[266] devel! mintime he riche body! Oh he have it goold et wast many bank nott. Bote he have it greet prepencity to keep him fast hold, poor idiot! It macks me laffing!"—(See the Memoirs of Charles Mathews, by Mrs. Mathews.)

To these characteristics we are enabled to add that of an English letter, written by the Count in his eighty-ninth year, the handwriting of which is singularly firm and steady, resembling that of a school boy of about fourteen. We shall copy it literatim from the autograph letter in the possession of Lord Houghton. It is addressed to Miss Emma George, at Miss Bird's, Pitt street, Edinburgh, and runs thus:—

"Dear Emma.—I am a fraid you will think me negligent in not answering your kind Letter which I received both. which made me delay write soonere I was en a visite at Newcastle, and I remain rathere to lon. and with the acceident happing when I burn your Lette in which been your derection, when I do so after reading, for alwais afraid of aney mischiefe at homes, what you know my situation, in which I remain to this day. and increas dayli more and more unhappy. I have maney things to tell you and you wish to know about me, but I cannot trust to a Lettere to disclos, and gave you picture of my precise state of my Life with extended Field, to make description of my trouble but only I may say truly. That I find myselfe without friend in a Stranger Country. Yet from the aspect of flattering appearance. I thought aftere a very fatiging journey in the begonning of my Life, that no kind of vexation would distourb my present state of happiness at Durham. Upon which my mind being grounded, in expectation of all feliesity. But here what to say of my sorrow with astonishment, when I found overeeting, when I behod now nothing but betterness of heart, and so heavy a Cloud over my existance in misery. So I have not on friend, but I have wakeful body who watch all my motion. So I have my share to be partner with you and support on othere, when we are left to ourself in a Pilgrimage in which we are engaged so severely.[267] To be sure I feel the disappointments of my situation. Yet I have experience that I cannot help thinking that it was well that Providence had blessed me, to alowd me kindly as litll as it is: Yet to accomodated Dear Emma according to fortune which God gave me, which Dear Emma will receive next month your 5l. I beg Dear Emma make your selfe happy and not uneasy if some time I delay in answering your Lettere. Notwithstanding you most know me now to trust me and have Confidence in me that I ame not Changable nature, but remain, and believe me, your sincer affectiont, Joseph Boruwlaski.

"Durham 17 March 1828."

This singular being lived to the extraordinary age of ninety-eight; a great age for an ordinary man, and quite without example in the history of dwarfs. He died at Bank's Cottage, near Durham, on the 5th of September, 1837, and his remains were placed near those of Stephen Kemble, in the Nine Altars of Durham Cathedral. It is stated in the Gentleman's Magazine (October, 1837), that the cottage was the gift of some of the prebendaries of Durham, who also allowed him a handsome income. They may have given him the cottage, but the income came, as Boruwlaski himself informs us, from the Misses Metcalfe. In the parish church of St. Mary-the-Less is a mural tablet of white stone, with an inscription erected in memory of the Count, who long resided in the city, and has, indeed, given his name to a bend in the river, known as "Count's Corner."—(Walker's Brief Sketch of Durham, 4th edition, 1865.) If the reader attentively considers the story we have narrated, he will perceive that the Count, although an anomaly in respect of size, was in all other respects a perfectly formed man, and is distinguished from most other dwarfs by longevity, paternity, and intelligence. The anomaly, therefore, could not have been deeply seated. He was a perfect copy of nature's finest work in duodecimo. A full-length portrait[268] of him may be seen in the Hunterian Museum, life-size, leaning against a chair.

It may be interesting to narrate a few more examples of dwarf life, from accredited sources.

M. St. Hilaire relates from the Philosophical Transactions, 1751-2, the case of a dwarf named Hopkins, who, at fifteen years of age, stood only 2 ft. 7 in., and weighed between 12 and 13 lbs. He had all the signs of old age. He was bent, deformed, and troubled with a dry cough. His hearing and sight were bad; his teeth almost all decayed. He was very thin, and so weak as scarcely to be able to stand. Till the age of seven he had been gay, healthy, and active; nor at that age did he show any indications of stopped growth. He was well formed, and weighed nineteen pounds, i.e. six pounds more than he weighed at fifteen. From that period his health declined, and his body wasted. He came from healthy parents of ordinary stature, and was the second of six children, another of whom also was a dwarf.

Dantlow, the Russian dwarf, was only thirty inches high; he was without arms, and had only four toes on each foot. With his feet he made pen-and-ink sketches rivalling etchings; and knitted stockings with needles made of wood. He fed himself with his left foot; learned with great facility, and was eager to learn.

M. Virey describes a German girl, exhibited in Paris in 1816. She was of parents above the average height, who had previously produced a male dwarf. At eight years old she weighed no more than an ordinary infant; her height was eighteen inches. In temper she was gay, restless, and excitable. Her pulse normally was at ninety-four.

M. Virey also relates the following example; Thérèse Souvray, was destined to become the bride of Bébé, to whom she was solemnly affianced in the year 1761; but death snatched the bridegroom from her, and as the fiancée of this celebrated man, she was exhibited in Paris during the year 1821. She was then seventy-three years of age;[269] gay, healthy, lively, and danced with her sister, two years her senior, and measuring only three feet and a half, French measure.

In 1865, there died in Paris the dwarf Richebourg, who was an historical personage. Richebourg, who was only 60 centimètres high, was in his sixteenth year placed in the household of the Duchess of Orleans (the mother of King Louis-Philippe). He was often made useful for the transmission of dispatches. He was dressed up as a baby, and important State papers placed in his clothes, and thus he was able to effect a communication between Paris and the émigrés, which could hardly have taken place by any other means. The most suspicious of sans culottes never took it into his head to stop a nurse with a baby in her arms. For the last thirty years he lived in Paris in one of the houses in the remotest part of the Faubourg St. Germain. He had a morbid dread of appearing in public, and it is recorded that during this long period he never put his foot outside the house. He received from the Orleans family a pension of 3,000 francs per annum. He had attained the ripe age of ninety-two.

A writer in Fraser's Magazine, August, 1856, from the above and other examples of dwarfs quoted by him, sets down these few general conclusions upon the question of their organization:—"In doing so," he remarks, "it will be well to bear in mind that the very fact of dwarfs being anomalies, renders any generalization respecting them subject to many qualifications in each particular instance. Thus, although it is true, as a general fact, that they are short-lived and unintelligent, we see examples of more than ordinary intelligence in Boruwlaski and his brother, and Jeffrey Hudson, and of longevity in them. One may assert, indeed, that longevity and intelligence are intimately allied in the dwarf organization; for, whenever the anomaly of growth is not profound enough to affect the health, it is presumably too superficial to affect the intelligence; and, vice versâ,[270] when we see a being passing rapidly from childhood to old age, we may be certain that the organization is too aberrant from the normal type to permit the free development of intelligence. Another general fact about dwarfs, and one to which we know of no exception, is that they are very excitable, and consequently, irascible; when in good health, lively, restless, and turbulent. This, indeed, is a characteristic of men and animals of the small type."

The Irish Giant.

This extraordinary person, whose height was eight feet seven-and-a-half inches, was born at Kinsale, in Ireland. His real name was Patrick Cotter. He was of obscure parentage, and originally laboured as a bricklayer. His uncommon size rendered him a mark for the cunning of a showman, who, for the payment of 50l. per annum, had the privilege of exhibiting Cotter for three years in England. Not contented with his bargain, the huckster underlet to another speculator the liberty of showing him; and poor Cotter, through resisting this nefarious transaction, was saddled with a fictitious debt, and thrown into a spunging-house in Bristol. In this situation he was visited by a gentleman of the city, who, compassionating his distress, and having reason to think that he was unjustly detained, generously became his bail, and investigated the affair; and not only obtained Cotter his liberty, but freed him from all kind of obligation to serve his taskmaster any longer. He was then but eighteen years old. He retained, to his last breath, a due sense of the good offices of the Bristol stranger, conferred upon him when he was sorely in need; and the giant did not forget his benefactor in his will.

It happened to be September when Cotter was liberated; and by the further assistance of his benefactor, he was enabled to exhibit himself in the St. James's fair at Bristol; and in three days he found himself possessed of thirty[271] pounds, English money. He now commenced a regular exhibition of his person, which he continued until within two years of his death, when having realized sufficient money to enable him to keep a carriage, and live in good style, he declined to exhibit any more, which was always irksome to his feelings. He was unoffending and amiable in his manners; was possessed of good sense, and his mind was not uncultivated; he long kept a journal of his life, which a whim of the moment induced him to commit to the flames. He died in his forty-sixth year, September 8th, 1806, at the Hotwells, Bristol. He was buried in the Roman Catholic chapel, Trenchard Street, at six o'clock in the morning, this early hour being fixed on to prevent as much as possible the assemblage of a crowd; but it is stated that at least 2,000 persons were present. The coffin, of lead, measured nine feet two inches in the clear, and the wooden case four inches more; it was three feet across the shoulders. No hearse could be procured long enough to contain the coffin, the projecting end of which was draped with black cloth. Fourteen men bore it from the hearse to the grave, into which it was let down with pulleys. To prevent any attempt to disturb his remains, of which Cotter had, when living, the greatest horror, the grave was made twelve feet deep, in a solid rock. A plaster cast of his right hand may be seen at the College of Surgeons, Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Birth Extraordinary.

On Sunday, the 23rd of October, 1836, occurred an event interesting to physiologists. The wife of a dwarf, Don Santiago de los Santos (herself a dwarf), was delivered of a well-formed male infant, at their residence, No. 167, High Holborn, near Museum Street. The accoucheurs were Mr. Bowden, of Sloane Street, Chelsea, who had before attended Donna Santiago on a similar occasion; and Dr. Davis of Savile Row. Both gentlemen had for some time[272] been very assiduous in their attentions to the little lady; but the infant, though it came into the world alive, did not survive above half-an-hour. Its length was thirteen and a half inches: its weight one pound four ounces and a half (avoirdupois); it was in every respect well-formed; and the likeness of the face to that of its father was very striking. It was carried in a coffin to St. George's Church, Bloomsbury; but being there refused sepulture, it was taken home, preserved in spirits, and subsequently exhibited. Dr. Davis was anxious to have it submitted to dissection, and to lecture upon it in the theatre of University College; this, however, was objected to by the Lilliputian parents, who appeared poignantly to feel the proposition.

Don Santiago, who was only twenty-five inches high, was at this time in his fiftieth year. He was a native of the Spanish settlement of Manilla, in one of the forests of which he was exposed and deserted, on account of his diminutive size. He was, however, miraculously saved by the Viceroy, who was hunting in that quarter, and humanely ordered him to be taken care of, and nursed with the same tenderness as his own children, with whom the little creature was brought up and educated, until he had attained the age of manhood. His birth dated from the period of his exposure, which was in 1786. His parents, it was ascertained, were farmers; and were with their other children (sons, daughters), of robust frame, and rather above the usual height.

When the Don was twenty years of age, his humane protector died; and attachment to the place of his birth prevented his accompanying his foster brother and sisters to Old Spain. This wilfulness cost him dearly; neglected by his parents and family, he suffered hardships and privations of the most afflicting nature. At length he found his way to Madras, and was, in the year 1830, brought to England by the captain of a trading vessel. During the voyage he was washed overboard by a heavy sea; but hencoops and spars[273] being thrown out, and other assistance afforded, his life was saved.

On his arrival in northern latitudes, he suffered severely from cold, and even when accustomed to the climate, he could not swallow cold water. Still, he never went near a fire, although he felt sensibly if his room was not kept warm. He was stoutly built, and generally in cheerful spirits and good health. His complexion was of a slight copper colour, and the expression of his countenance was pleasing and intelligent. His habits were temperate, and he seldom drank anything but warm water; but on birthdays and other anniversaries, he indulged in a few glasses of wine. He was fond of music and dancing, and gallant to the ladies; but his ruling passion appeared to be a fondness for jewellery and silver-plate, to which ornaments he had been accustomed in the house and at the table of the Viceroy of Manilla. His mind appeared to be deeply impressed with the tenets of the Roman Catholic church, in which his foster-father took care to have him instructed. He read his prayer-book and psalter morning and evening, very devoutly crossing himself, and performing his genuflexions and the other ceremonies inculcated by the teachers of that faith. Once or twice a month, he went to the Spanish Ambassador's chapel, where, secluded from observation, he worshipped with the sincerity and devotion of a good Catholic. Besides his native tongue, he spoke an Indian patois, conversed freely in Portuguese, and in English indifferently well.

He became acquainted with his little wife in Birmingham, of which town she was a native. Her name was Ann Hopkins; her height was thirty-eight inches, or thirteen inches taller than her dwarf spouse. She was thirty-one years of age, and was a pretty little creature possessing much symmetry and grace. Her father stood six feet one inch and a half out of his shoes; her mother was of middle size, and her brothers and sisters, nine in number, were all tall and robust. The little Don and Donna lived together very[274] affectionately, their attachment having been mutual and at first sight; their only difference of opinion being, that she being of the Protestant faith, they did not worship together. They were married on the 6th of July, 1834, in the Roman Catholic chapel at Birmingham; and two days after, at St. Martin's church, in the same town, by the Rev. Mr. Foy; the high bailiff giving away the bride. The crowd of spectators was so great that the assistance of the police was necessary to secure the ingress and egress of the little couple into and out of the church. Much uneasiness was caused to the bridegroom by the refusal of one clergyman to ratify his marriage in the Protestant church, on the supposition that it was contrary to the canon law; but this difficulty was ultimately arranged.—Abridged from the Morning Advertiser.

William Hutton's "Strong Woman."

William Hutton, the Birmingham manufacturer, was accustomed to take a month's tour every summer, and to note down his observations on places and people. Some of the results appeared in distinct books, some in his autobiography, and some in the Gentleman's Magazine, towards the close of the last century and the beginning of the present. One year he would be accompanied by his father, a tough old man, who was not frightened at a twenty-mile walk; another year he would go alone; while on one occasion his daughter went with him, she riding on horseback, and he trudging on foot by her side. Various parts of England and Wales were thus visited, at a time when tourists' facilities were slender indeed. It appears from his lists of distances that he could "do" fifteen or twenty miles a day for weeks together; although his mode of examining places led to a much slower rate of progress.

One of the odd characters which Hutton met with at Matlock, in Derbyshire, in July 1801, is worth describing[275] in his own words. After noticing the rocks and caves at that town, he said, "The greatest wonder I saw was Miss Phœbe Bown, in person five feet six, about thirty, well-proportioned, round-faced and ruddy; a dark penetrating eye, which, the moment it fixes upon your face, stamps your character, and that with precision. Her step (pardon the Irishism) is more manly than a man's, and can easily cover forty miles a day. Her common dress is a man's hat, coat with a spencer about it, and men's shoes; I believe she is a stranger to breeches. She can lift one hundred-weight with each hand, and carry fourteen score. Can sew, knit, cook, and spin, but hates them all, and every accompaniment to the female character, except that of modesty. A gentleman at the New Bath recently treated her so rudely, that 'she had a good mind to have knocked him down.' She positively assured me she did not know what fear is. She never gives an affront, but will offer to fight anyone who gives her one. If she has not fought, perhaps it is owing to the insulter being a coward, for none else would give an affront [to a woman]. She has strong sense, an excellent judgment, says smart things, and supports an easy freedom in all companies. Her voice is more than masculine, it is deep toned; the wind in her face, she can send it a mile; has no beard; accepts any kind of manual labour, as holding the plough, driving the team, thatching the ricks, &c. But her chief avocation is breaking in horses, at a guinea a week! always rides without a saddle; and is supposed the best judge of a horse, cow, &c., in the country; and is frequently requested to purchase for others at the neighbouring fairs. She is fond of Milton, Pope, Shakespeare, also of music; is self-taught; performs on several instruments, as the flute, violin, harpsichord, and supports the bass-viol in Matlock church. She is an excellent markswoman, and, like her brother-sportsmen, carries her gun upon her shoulder. She eats no beef or pork, and but[276] little mutton: her chief food is milk, and also her drink—discarding wine, ale, and spirits."—From the Book of Days.

Wildman and His Bees.

In Winchester Place, now Pentonville Road, near to the south-east corner of Penton Street, stood "Prospect House," so called from the fine view which it commanded over London and the circumjacent country. In the British Museum is a fine pen-and-ink drawing of a view of London from Pentonville, by Antonio Canaletti; and we find "Prospect House" in the rate-books in 1669; there were bowling-greens attached to it "for gentleman bowlers." Subsequently the house was named from its proprietor, and became popularly known as Dobney's, or D'Aubigny's. Mrs. Dobney, who kept the house for many years, died in 1760, at the age of eighty-six. It then passed to a new proprietor, a Mr. Johnson, who built on the bowling-green, which was near the corner of Penton Street, an amphitheatre for equestrian performances, al fresco, and engaged one Price, who had been starring at the Three Hats, a rival house close by, to exhibit his original feats of horsemanship. In 1769, the house was the scene of Philip Jonas's exhibition of "dexterity of hands;" and about this time was shown here the skeleton of a whale sixty feet long. In 1770, the house was taken for a boarding school, but was soon closed. It was then re-opened as the Jubilee Tea Gardens (from the Jubilee got up at Stratford-upon-Avon, by Garrick, in honour of Shakespeare); the interiors of the boxes were painted with scenes from some of his plays.

In 1772, the celebrated Daniel Wildman exhibited here his bees every evening (wet evenings excepted). He made several new and amazing experiments; he rode standing upright, one foot on the saddle, and the other on the horse's neck, with a curious mask of bees on his head and face. He also rode standing upright on the saddle with the bridle in[277] his mouth, and by firing a pistol, made one part of the bees march over a table, and the other part swarm in the air and return to their proper hive again. Wildman's performances of the "Bees on Horseback" were also thus described:—

He with uncommon art and matchless skill
Commands those insects, who obey his will;
With bees others cruel means employ,
They take their honey and the bees destroy;
Wildman humanely, with ingenious ease,
He takes the honey, but preserves the bees.

Wildman also sold bees from one stock in "the common or newly-invented hives." He published a "Guide for Bee Management" at his Bee and Honey Warehouse, No. 326, Holborn. In 1774, the gardens were much neglected, the walks not being kept in order, nor the hedges properly cut; but there were several good apartments in the house, besides handsome tea-rooms; but the ground was cleared about 1790, and the present handsome dwelling-houses in Winchester Place were built upon part of the site. The gardens, though much shorn of their beauty and attractiveness, continued in existence until the year 1810, when they disappeared; and the only memorial that remains on the site of this once famed place of amusement, is a mean court in Penton Street, known as Dobney's Court. Mr. Upcott, of the London Institution, had in his collection a drawing of Prospect House, taken about 1780.—Pinks' History of Clerkenwell.

Lord Stowell's love of Sight-seeing.

Lord Stowell loved manly sports, and was not above being pleased with the most rude and simple diversions. He gloried in Punch and Judy—their fun stirred his mirth without, as in Goldsmith's case, provoking spleen. He made a boast on one occasion that there was not a puppet-show in London he had not visited, and when turned fourscore,[278] was caught watching one at a distance with children of less growth in high glee. He has been known to make a party with Windham to visit Cribb's, and to have attended the Fives Court as a favourite resort. "There were curious characters," he observed, "to be seen at these places." He was the most indefatigable sight-seer in London. Whatever show could be visited for a shilling, or less, was visited by Lord Stowell. In the western end of London there was a room generally let for exhibitions. At the entrance, as it is said, Lord Stowell presented himself, eager to see "the green monster serpent," which had lately issued cards of invitation to the public. As he was pulling out his purse to pay for his admission, a sharp but honest north-country lad, whose business it was to take the money, recognised him as an old customer, and knowing his name, thus addressed him: "We can't take your shilling, my lord; 'tis the old serpent which you have seen twice before in other colours; but ye shall go in and see her." He entered, saved his money, and enjoyed his third visit to the painted beauty. This love of seeing sights was, on another occasion, productive of the following whimsical incident. Some thirty years ago, an animal, called a "Bonassus," was exhibited in the Strand. On Lord Stowell's paying it a second visit, the keeper very courteously told his lordship that he was welcome to come, gratuitously, as often as he pleased. Within a day or two after this, however, there appeared, under the bills of the exhibition, in conspicuous characters, "Under the patronage of the Right Hon. Lord Stowell;" an announcement of which the noble and learned lord's friends availed themselves, by passing many a joke upon him; all of which he took with the greatest good humour.

Lord Stowell was a great eater, and, says Mr. Surtees, "the feats which he performed with the knife and fork were eclipsed by those which he would afterwards display with the bottle." His habits were slovenly and unclean. "The hand that could pen the neatest of periods was itself often[279] dirty and unwashed; and the mouth which could utter eloquence so graceful, or such playful wit, fed voraciously, and selected the most greasy food." Then again, he was an unquestionable miser. He kept a very mean establishment. Fond as he was of his wine, he would drink less at his own than at other tables. "He could drink any given quantity," as was wittily observed by his brother, Lord Eldon, but was abstemious where he had to pay. The most painful fact that remains to be recorded respecting him is, that when his only son William had formed an attachment that was unexceptionable, he, though it may be said he rolled in riches, would not make him a sufficient allowance to enable him to marry. It has been stated that his son died from the effects of intemperate habits; and it must be added, that but for this disappointment the young man might have lived. In despair he plunged into excesses. His father just survived him, and his great wealth was gathered up by collaterals. Perhaps his fondness of poking about London, visiting cheap shows, was connected more with his avarice than with his curiosity. After his elevation to the peerage, he was actually seen coming out of a penny show in London—cheap excitement! Like Lord Eldon, though a great friend of the church, he never attended public worship. What had been said of his brother might have been said of him, that he was more properly a buttress of the church than a pillar, for he was never seen inside it. At the same time, there is no reason to doubt that he was a good Christian; probably, like many other University men, he had a surfeit of chapels when at college, and shuddered at the thought of again entering one. With all his failings, and notwithstanding his avarice, which increased with his years, Lord Stowell must be regarded as having been, after a peculiar sort, a kindly, amiable man.


John Day and Fairlop Fair.

In the Forest of Hainault, in Essex, about a mile from Barking side, stood the famous Fairlop Oak, which the tradition of the country traces half-way up the Christian era. This forest possesses more beautiful scenery than, perhaps, any other forest in England. Fifty years since the oak was still a noble tree. About a yard from the ground, where its bole was thirty-six feet in circumference, it spread into eleven vast arms, yet not in the manner of an oak, but rather in that of a beech, its shade overspreading an area of 300 feet in circuit. Around this fine old tree, eighty years since, archery meetings were held by the gentry of the district, with picnics in tents, bands of music, &c.; and then, to protect the old oak, it was enclosed with a spiked paling, inscribed as follows: "All good foresters are requested not to hurt this old tree, as a plaister has been put to its wounds." The extremities of its branches had been sawn off, and Forsyth's composition applied to them, to preserve them from decay.

But the tree has a more popular history. Upon a small estate, near the oak, in the last century, there dwelt one John Day, a well-to-do block and pump maker, of Wapping, who used to repair annually, on the first Friday in July, to the forest, and there meet a party of his neighbours, and dine under the shade of the famous oak, on beans and bacon. In the course of a few years, Day's rural feast induced other parties to follow his homely example, and suttling booths were erected for their accommodation. In addition to the entertainment given to his friends, Mr. Day never failed, on the day of the feast, to provide several sacks of beans, with a proportionate quantity of bacon, which he distributed from the trunk of the tree to the persons there assembled. About the year 1723, the scene on the first Friday in July exhibited the appearance of a regular fair, such as John Gay, in one[281] of his Pastorals, almost contemporaneously describes in these lines:—

Pedlars' stalls with glitt'ring toys are laid,
The various fairings of the country maid:
Long silken laces hang upon the twine,
And rows of pins and amber bracelets shine.
Here the tight lass, knives, combs, and scissors spies,
And looks on thimbles with desiring eyes.
The mountebank now treads the stage, and sells
His pills, his balsams, and his ague spells.
Now o'er and o'er the nimble tumbler springs,
And on the rope the vent'rous maiden swings;
Jack-Pudding, in his parti-coloured jacket,
Tosses the glove and jokes at every packet;
Here raree-shows are seen, and Punch's feats,
And pockets picked in crowds, and various cheats.

For several years before the death of the generous founder of this fair and public bean-feast, the pump and block makers of Wapping went annually to the fair in the forest, seated in a boat of one entire piece of fir, covered with an awning, mounted on a coach-carriage, and drawn by six horses; attended with flags and streamers, a band of music, and a great number of persons on foot and horseback. The number of carriages was then increased to three, two of them being rigged as ships. At six o'clock precisely they all paraded round the oak, singing a glee composed for the occasion; after which the holiday-keepers returned to town.

A few years before Mr. Day's death, the Fairlop Oak lost a large limb, out of which he had a coffin made for his own interment. He died on the 19th of October, 1767, at the age of eighty-four. His remains, pursuant to his own request, were conveyed to Barking by water, attended by six journeymen pump and block makers, to each of whom he bequeathed a new leather apron and a guinea. There is a memorial of him in Barking churchyard.

The fair long survived the patriarchal pump-maker, good John Day, as did also the oak. It was enclosed, as we[282] have stated, at the commencement of the present century. But, notwithstanding the appeal to the "good foresters," and the respect due to the veteran of the forest, the rabble broke down the palings and lit their fires within the trunk in the cavities formed by the roots, and several of the limbs were broken off. The space within the trunk may be estimated by the evidence of a resident in the neighbourhood. "When a boy," he writes, "I have driven in a hot day from out of the hollow three or four horses, and sometimes four or five cows." But the tree received the greatest injury on the 25th of June, 1805, when a party of sixty persons, who came from London to play at cricket, &c., kindled a fire, which, after they had left, spread very considerably, and caught the tree. It was not discovered for two hours, and though a number of persons brought water to extinguish it, yet the main branch on the south side and part of the trunk were consumed. Fifteen years later, the high winds of February 1820, brought the massive trunk and limbs to the turf which the tree had for so many ages overshadowed with its verdant foliage. Its wood was very much prized; a pulpit was made of it for Wanstead Church; the rest of the timber of the Fairlop Oak was purchased by Mr. Seabrook, the builder, who formed with it the very handsome pulpit and reading-desk for the church of St. Pancras, in the New Road, then in course of erection.

The fair was still continued, though the loss of the oak and the assemblage of booths and shows, and theatrical exhibitions, which bordered the area in the forest, destroyed the simplicity that was originally intended to be preserved by the founder. As the fair was held on Friday, it became a great point to extend it to Sunday, when shoals of visitors came; and, though the shows were interdicted, the refreshment resorts grew to such licence as it became necessary to curb. Of the fair of 1843, we have a special remembrance. The block-makers, sail-makers, and mast-makers, as usual, came to "gay Fairlop," in their amphibious frigates, gaily[283] decorated and mounted on carriages, each drawn by six horses; and the wives of the men in their holiday gear followed in open landaus. But the Essex magistrates had now by notice restricted the fair to one day. The booths and shows were less numerous than on former occasions, but the gipsies were in great numbers; the knights of the pea and thimble were vigilantly routed by the police. The Lea Bridge and Ilford roads were crowded with horses and vehicles; and many persons went by railway to Ilford, and thence to the forest. But there came a heavy July rain to spoil the sport, and the fair grew flat. The booths and shows could not be removed till Monday, but nothing was allowed to be sold after Friday, and the exhibitions were closed. Nevertheless, the Sunday visitors came in thousands.

By these curtailments, Fairlop Fair was gradually brought to an end, though not until it had existed for a century and a quarter.

A Princely Hoax.

In the autumn of 1785, when the Prince of Wales was at Brighton, he was much in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrell; of whom and the Prince, Lady Llanover, in her Memoirs of Mrs. Delany, relates the following piquant story, which she received from a gentleman, as well as from Miss Burney, who had it from Lady Rothes, Sir Lucas Pepys' wife.[32] It happened one afternoon that Mrs. Lawrell alone was of a party with the Prince of Wales, Lady Beauchamp, and some other fine people. Mrs. Lawrell, like a good wife,[284] about nine o'clock, said she must go home to her husband. The Prince said, he and the party would come and sup with them; the lady received the gracious intimation with all the respect that became her, and hastened home to acquaint her husband and make preparation. Whether Mr. Lawrell was more or less sensible of the honour that was designed him than his wife, I don't know, but he said he should not come if he could help it, and if he did come, he should have[285] nothing to eat. It was in vain Mrs. Lawrell remonstrated; he continued inflexible, and she had nothing for it but to put him to bed, and write a note to Lady Beauchamp, informing her Mr. Lawrell was taken suddenly ill, and begging she would entertain the Prince in her stead. Between one and two o'clock in the morning, when the company were pretty merry, the Prince, whether he guessed at the reason or was concerned for the indisposition of his friend, said it was a pity poor Lawrell should die for want of help, and they immediately set about writing notes to all the physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries they could think of in the place, informing them as from Mr. L. that he was taken suddenly ill, and begged their immediate assistance; these notes very soon set the medical body in motion towards Mr. L.'s doors; a few of the most alert apothecaries came first, but they were got rid of by the servants, who assured them it was a mistake, that their master and mistress were well and asleep, and that they did not care to wake them. Soon after came Sir Lucas Pepys, who declaring that "nobody would presume to impose upon a person of his character," insisted on seeing Mr. L., and was pressing by the maid towards his bedchamber; she was then forced to waken her mistress, and Mr. L. being very drowsy and disinclined to rise, his lady was obliged to appear in great deshabille, and with the utmost difficulty, persuaded Sir Lucas he was imposed upon, and prevailed with him to retire. During their dispute the staircase was filled with the rest of the faculty arriving in shoals.

The Prince Regent.

The Prince Regent.

Sir John Waters's Escape.

This distinguished man, in the Peninsular War, was the most admirable spy ever attached to an army. He would assume the character of Spaniards of every degree and station, so as to deceive the most acute. He gave the most reliable and valuable information to Lord Wellington, and[286] on one occasion he was entrusted by his Lordship with a very particular mission, which he undertook effectually to perform, and to return on a particular day with the information required. Just after leaving the camp, however, he was taken prisoner, before he had time to exchange his uniform: a troop of dragoons intercepted him, and carried him off; and the commanding officers desired two soldiers to keep a strict watch over him and carry him to head-quarters. He was, of course, disarmed, and being placed on a horse, was galloped off by his guards. He slept one night in the kitchen of a small inn; conversation flowed on very glibly, and as he appeared a stupid Englishman, who could not understand a word of French or of Spanish, he was allowed to listen, and thus obtained precisely the intelligence he was in search of. The following morning, being again mounted, he overheard a conversation between his guards, who deliberately agreed to rob him, and shoot him at a mill where they were to stop, and to report to their officer that they had been compelled to fire at him in consequence of his attempt to escape.

Shortly before their arrival at the mill, the dragoons took from their prisoner his watch and his purse, lest they might meet with some one who would insist on having a portion of the spoil. On reaching the mill, they dismounted, and to give appearance of truth to their story, they went into the house, leaving their prisoner outside, in the hope that he would make some attempt to escape. In an instant, Waters threw his cloak upon a neighbouring olive-bush, and mounted his cocked hat on the top. Some empty flour sacks lay upon the ground, and a horse laden with well-filled flour-sacks stood at the door. Sir John contrived to enter one of the empty sacks, and throw himself across the horse. When the soldiers came out of the house, they fired their carbines at the supposed prisoner, and galloped off.

A short time after, the miller came out, and mounted his steed. Waters contrived to rid himself of the encumbrance of the sack, and sat up behind the man, who, suddenly turning[287] round, saw a ghost, as he believed, for the flour that still remained in the sack had whitened his fellow-traveller and given him a ghostly appearance. A push sent the frightened miller to the ground, when away rode Waters with his sacks of flour, which at length bursting, made a ludicrous spectacle of man and horse.

On reaching the English camp, where Lord Wellington was anxiously deploring his fate, a sudden shout from the soldiers made his lordship turn round, when a figure resembling the statue in Don Juan, galloped up to him. Wellington, affectionately shaking him by the hand, said, "Waters, you never yet deceived me; and though you have come in a most questionable shape, I must congratulate you and myself." This is one of the many capital stories in Captain Gronow's First Series of Anecdotes.

Colonel Mackinnon's Practical Joking.

Colonel Mackinnon, commonly called "Dan," was famous for practical jokes. Before landing at St. Andero's, with some other officers who had been on leave in England, he agreed to personate the Duke of York, and make the Spaniards believe that his Royal Highness was amongst them. On nearing the shore, a Royal standard was hoisted at the masthead, and Mackinnon disembarked, wearing the star of his shako on his left breast, and accompanied by his friends, who agreed to play the part of aides-de-camp to royalty. The Spanish authorities were soon informed of the arrival of the Royal Commander-in-Chief of the British army; so they received Mackinnon with the usual pomp and circumstance. The Mayor of the place, in honour of the arrival, gave a grand banquet, which terminated with the appearance of a huge bowl of punch, whereupon Dan, thinking that the joke had gone far enough, suddenly dived his head into the china bowl, and threw his heels into the air. The surprise and indignation of the solemn Spaniards was such[288] that they made a most intemperate report of the hoax that had been played on them to Lord Wellington. Dan, however, was ultimately forgiven, after a severe reprimand.

Another of his freaks was the following:—Lord Wellington was curious about visiting a convent near Lisbon, and the Abbess made no difficulty. Mackinnon, hearing this, contrived to get clandestinely within the walls, and it was generally supposed it was neither his first nor his second visit. When Lord Wellington arrived, Dan Mackinnon was to be seen among the nuns, draped in their sacred costume, with his head and whiskers shaved, and as he possessed good features, he was declared to be one of the best-looking among those chaste dames. This adventure is supposed to have been known to Lord Byron, and to have suggested a similar episode in Don Juan, the scene being laid in the East.—Captain Gronow.

A Gourmand Physician.

Dr. George Fordyce, the anatomist and chemical lecturer, was accustomed to dine every day, for more than twenty years, at Dolly's chop-house, in Queen's Head Passage, Paternoster Row. His researches in comparative anatomy had led him to conclude that man, through custom, eats oftener than nature requires, one meal a day being sufficient for that noble animal, the lion. He made the experiment on himself at his favourite dining-house, and, finding it successful, he continued the following regimen for the above term of years.

At four o'clock, his accustomed dinner hour, he entered Dolly's chop-house, and took his seat at a table always reserved for him, on which were instantly placed a silver tankard full of strong ale, a bottle of port-wine, and a measure containing a quarter of a pint of brandy. The moment the waiter announced him, the cook put a pound-and-a-half of rump-steak on the gridiron; and on the table[289] some delicate trifle, as a bonne bouche, to serve until the steak was ready. This delicacy was sometimes half a broiled chicken, sometimes a plate of fish; when he had eaten this, he took a glass of his brandy, and then proceeded to devour his steak. We say devour, because he always ate as rapidly as if eating for a wager. When he had finished his meat, he took the remainder of his brandy, having, during his dinner, drunk the tankard of ale, and afterwards the bottle of port.

The Doctor then adjourned to the Chapter Coffee-house, in Paternoster Row, and stayed while he sipped a glass of brandy and water. It was then his habit to take another at the London Coffee-house, and a third at the Oxford, after which he returned to his house in Essex Street, to give his lecture on chemistry. He made no other meal till his return next day, at four o'clock, to Dolly's.

Dr. Fordyce's intemperate habits sometimes placed his reputation, as well as the lives of his patients, in jeopardy. One evening he was called away from a drinking-bout, to see a lady of title, who was supposed to have been taken suddenly ill. Arrived at the apartment of his patient, the Doctor seated himself by her side, and having listened to the recital of a train of symptoms, which appeared rather anomalous, he next proceeded to examine the state of her pulse. He tried to reckon the number of its beats; the more he endeavoured to do this, the more his brain whirled, and the less was his self-control. Conscious of the cause of his difficulty and in a moment of irritation, he inadvertently blurted out, "Drunk, by Jove!" The lady heard the remark, but remained silent; and the Doctor having prescribed a mild remedy, one which he invariably took on such occasions, he shortly afterwards departed.

At an early hour next morning he was roused by a somewhat imperative message from his patient of the previous evening, to attend her immediately; and he at once concluded that the object of this summons was either to[290] inveigh against him for the state in which he had visited her on the former occasion, or perhaps for having administered too potent a medicine. Ill at ease from these reflections, he entered the lady's room, fully prepared for a severe reprimand. The patient, however, began by thanking him for his immediate attention, and then proceeded to say how much she had been struck by his discernment on the previous evening; confessed that she was occasionally addicted to the error which he had detected; and concluded by saying that her object in sending for him so early was to obtain a promise that he would hold inviolably secret the condition in which he found her. "You may depend upon me, madam," replied Dr. Fordyce, with a countenance which had not altered since the commencement of the patient's story; "I shall be silent as the grave."

This story has also been told of Abernethy; but to Dr. Fordyce belongs the paternity.

Dick England, the Gambler.

Towards the close of the last century among the most noted gamblers and blacklegs in the metropolis was Dick England, one of whose haunts was the Golden Cross, Charing Cross, where he was accustomed to look out for raw Irishmen coming to town by the coaches, whom he almost invariably plucked. His success soon enabled him to keep an elegant house in St. Alban's Street, where he engaged masters to teach him accomplishments to fit him for polite life. In 1779 and 1783, he kept a good table, sported his vis-à-vis, and was remarkably choice in the hackneys he rode, giving eighty or ninety guineas for a horse, a sum nearly equal to two hundred guineas in the present day. Another of his haunts was Munday's Coffee-house in Maiden Lane, where he generally presided at a table d'hôte, and by his finesse and agreeable conversation won him many friends. Being at times the hero of his own story, he unguardedly[291] exposed some of his own characteristic traits, which his self-possession generally enabled him to conceal. His conduct among men of family was, however, generally guarded; and he was resolute in enforcing payment of the sums he won.

One evening he met a young tradesman at a house in Leicester Fields to have an hour's play, for which he gave a banker's draft, but requested to have his revenge in a few more throws, when he soon regained what he had lost and as much in addition. It now being past three in the morning, England proposed that they should retire; but the tradesman, suspecting himself tricked, refused payment of what he had lost. England then tripped up his heels, rolled him in the carpet, took a case-knife from the sideboard, flourished it over the young man, and at last cut off his long hair close to the scalp. Dreading worse treatment, he gave a cheque for the amount and wished England good morning.

England fought a duel at Cranford Bridge in 1784, with Mr. Le Roule, a brewer, from Kingston: from him England had won a large sum, for which a bond had been given, and which, not being paid, led to the duel, in which Le Roule was killed. England fled to Paris and was outlawed; it is reported that early in the Revolution he furnished some useful intelligence to our army in the campaign in Flanders, for which he was remunerated by the British Cabinet. While in France he was several times imprisoned, and once ordered to the guillotine, but pardoned through the exertion and influence of one of the Convention, who also procured for him a passport for home. After an absence of twelve years, he was tried for the duel, found guilty of manslaughter, fined one shilling, and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. Subsequent to his release he passed the remainder of his life at his house in Leicester Square, where he lived to the age of eighty. His end was an awful one: on being called to dinner, he was found lying dead on his sofa.


Brighton Races, Thirty Years Since.

Brighton Races, like most other Brighton amusements, took their rise from the patronage of George IV. Those of Lewes were of earlier origin and greater pretension, until the Prince began to run his horses and lose his money on the Brighton course, which then attracted some of the best horses and some of the most celebrated sportsmen in the kingdom. Of the races at this period the following sketch is given by Mr. Thomas Raikes, in his Diary:—

"1836.—Last week died Lord George Germaine, brother to the Duke of Dorset; they were both in their youth great friends to the late King, when Prince of Wales, fond of the turf, and, with the late Delme Radcliffe, the three best gentlemen riders at the once-famed Bibury Races, which are now replaced by those at Heaton Park. They were all three little men, light weights, and, when dressed in their jackets and caps, would rival Buckle and Chiffney. In those days, the Prince made Brighton and Lewes Races the gayest scene of the year in England. The Pavilion was full of guests; the Steine was crowded with all the rank and fashion from London during that week; the best horses were brought from Newmarket and the North, to run at these races, on which immense sums were depending; and the course was graced by the handsomest equipages. The 'legs' and betters, who had arrived in shoals, used all to assemble on the Steine at an early hour to commence their operations on the first day, and the buzz was tremendous, till Lord Foley and Mellish, the two great confederates of that day, would approach the ring, and then a sudden silence ensued; to await the opening of their betting-books. They would come on perhaps smiling, but mysterious, without making any demonstration; at last, Mr. Jerry Cloves would say, 'Come, Mr. Mellish, will you light the candle, and set us a-going?' Then, if the master of Buckle would say, 'I'll take three to one about Sir Solomon,' the whole pack opened,[293] and the air resounded with every shade of odds and betting. About half-an-hour before the signal of departure for the hill, the Prince himself would make his appearance in the crowd—I think I see him now, in a green jacket, a white hat, and tight nankeen pantaloons, and shoes, distinguished by his high-bred manner and handsome person; he was generally accompanied by the late Duke of Bedford, Lord Jersey, Charles Wyndham, Shelley, Brummel, M. Day, Churchill, and, oh! extraordinary anomaly, the little old Jew Travis, who, like the dwarf of old, followed in the train of royalty. The Downs were covered with every species of conveyance, and the Prince's German wagon (so were barouches called when first introduced at that time) and six bay horses, the coachman on the box being replaced by Sir John Lade, issued out of the gates of the Pavilion, and, gliding up the green ascent, was stationed close to the great stand, where it remained the centre of attraction for the day. At dinner-time the Pavilion was resplendent with lights, and a sumptuous banquet was served to a large party; while those who were not included in that invitation found a dinner with every luxury at the Club-house on the Steine, kept by Ragget during the season, for the different members of White's and Brookes's who chose to frequent it, and where the cards and dice from St. James's Street were not forgotten. Where are the actors in all those gay scenes now?"

The period to which this lively sketch refers was from 1800 to 1820. Soon after this, George the Fourth began to live a more secluded life, and though his horses ran at Brighton Races, the King never made his appearance there, and the meet began to decline.


A Hero of the Turf and his Agent. Colonel Mellish and Buckle the Jockey.

A Hero of the Turf and his Agent.
Colonel Mellish and Buckle the Jockey.

Colonel Mellish.

The star of the race-course of modern times was the late Colonel Mellish, certainly the cleverest man of his day, as regards the science and practice of the turf. No one could match (i.e., make matches) with him, nor could anyone excel him in handicapping horses in a race. But, indeed, nihil erat quod non tetigit non ornavit. He beat Lord Frederick[295] Bentinck in a foot-race over Newmarket Heath. He was a clever painter, a fine horseman, a brave soldier, a scientific farmer, and an exquisite coachman. But—as his friends said of him—not content with being the second-best man of his day, he would be the first, which was fatal to his fortune and his fame. It, however, delighted us to see him in public, in the meridian of his almost unequalled popularity, and the impression he made upon us remains. We remember even the style of his dress, peculiar for its lightness of hue—his neat white hat, white trousers, white silk stockings, ay, and we may add, his white but handsome face. There was nothing black about him but his hair and his mustachios, which he wore by virtue of his commission, and which to him were an ornament. The like of his style of coming on the race-course at Newmarket was never witnessed there before him nor since. He drove his barouche himself, drawn by four beautiful white horses, with two outriders on matches to them, ridden in harness bridles. In his rear was a saddle-horse groom, leading a thorough-bred hack, and at the rubbing-post on the heath was another groom—all in crimson liveries—waiting with a second hack. But we marvel when we think of his establishment. We remember him with thirty-eight race-horses in training, seventeen coach-horses, twelve hunters in Leicestershire, four chargers at Brighton, and not a few hacks! But the worst is yet to come. By his racing speculations he was a gainer, his judgment pulling him through; but when we heard that he would play to the extent of 40,000l. at a sitting—yes, he once staked that sum on a throw—we were not surprised that the domain of Blythe passed into other hands; and that the once accomplished owner of it became the tenant of a premature grave. "The bowl of pleasure," says Johnson, "is poisoned by reflection on the cost," and here it was drunk to the dregs. Colonel Mellish ended his days, not in poverty, for he acquired a competency with his lady, but in a small house within sight of the mansion that had been the pride of his ancestors and[296] himself. As, however, the wind is tempered to the shorn lamb, Colonel Mellish was not without consolation. He never wronged anyone but himself; and, as an owner of race-horses, and a bettor, his character was without spot.—Nimrod.

Doncaster Eccentrics.

Among the visitors to Doncaster race-course are many of the lower grade, some of whom have contrived to get hanged. Such was the case some half-century since with Daniel Dawson, who employed himself, or was employed by others, in poisoning with arsenic the drinking-water of horses whose success in the future race was not desirable to Daniel or his patrons. Several steeds perished in this way at the hands of Daniel, in the north as well as at Newmarket. Ultimately a case from the latter locality was proved against him, through the treachery of a confederate, and Daniel suffered for it at Cambridge. Had he been a martyr in a good cause, he could not have died with more becomingness. Daniel complained of no one, did not even reproach himself; and expressed his satisfactory conviction that he "should certainly ascend to Heaven from the drop." Brutal as his offence was, it seems ill-measured justice that takes a man's life for that of a beast.

Dawson is beyond our own recollection; but we can remember a more singular and a much more honest fellow, whose appearance on the Doncaster course was as confidently looked for, and as ardently desired, as that of any of the Lords Lieutenant of the various Ridings. We allude to the once famous Jemmy Hirst, the Rawcliffe tanner, whose last of about fifty visits to the "Sillinger" and "Coop" contests was made when he was hard upon ninety years of age. When Jemmy retired from the tanning business with means to set up as a gentleman, the first object he purchased was not a carriage, but a coffin, depositing therein some of the[297] means whereby he kept himself alive, namely, his provisions. The walls of the room in which this lugubrious sideboard was erected were hung round with all sorts of rusty agricultural implements. This lord of a strange household retained a valet and a female "general servant." His stud consisted of mules, dogs, and a bull; mounted on which he is said to have hunted with the Badsworth hounds. His most familiar friends were a tame fox and otter. He certainly rode the bull when he went out shooting, and was then accompanied by pigs as pointers. In fair-time Hirst used to take this bull and a couple of its fellows to be baited, sitting proudly by himself while his valet went about collecting the "coppers." His waistcoat was a glossy garment made of the neck feathers of the drake, from the pocket of which he would issue his own bank-notes, bearing responsibilities of payment to the amount of "Five half-pence."

His carriage was a sort of palanquin, carried aloft by high wheels, and its peculiarity was that there was not a nail about it. This vehicle was really better known at Doncaster than the stately carriage of Lord Fitzwilliam himself. It was the boast of the proud and dirty gentleman who sat enthroned there, that he had never paid and never would pay any sort of tax to the King; and how he managed to shoot, as he did, without paying a licence, was best known to himself. He was the most popular man on the course, and, unlike very many who began rich and ended poor, Jemmy increased in wealth year by year. He was wont to contrast himself with "the Prince's friend," Col. Mellish, who inherited an immense property, won two Legers in two consecutive years, 1804-5, and finally died almost a pauper. Jemmy had undoubtedly, in his view of things, done better than Col. Mellish; but the tanner, through life, never thought of the welfare but of one human being—that of James Hirst. He was as selfish as the butcher-churchwarden of Doncaster, who ruined the grand old tower of the church by placing a hideous clock face in[298] it, which was so constructed that no one could see the time by it except from the butcher's own door!

We should hardly render Hirst justice, however, if we omitted to state how such a great man departed from this earth. The folding-doors of his old coffin were closed upon him. Eight buxom widows carried his corpse for a honorarium of half-a-crown each. Jemmy had expressed a desire to have eight old maids to undertake this service, bequeathing half-a-guinea to each as hire. But the ladies in question were not forthcoming. So the widows were engaged in their place; but why the fee was lowered we cannot tell, unless it was to pay for the bagpipe and fiddle which headed the procession. All the country round flocked in to do Jemmy honour or to enjoy the holiday; and for many a year afterwards might the sorrowing comment be heard on Doncaster Course,—"Nay, lad! t'Coop-day seems nought-loike wi'out Jemmy!" and the mourners took out his "Fihawpence notes," and compared their own touching respective memories of the departed glory of Doncaster.

At the close of Jemmy's career the wonderfully dressed "swell mob" was busiest if not brightest. The latter was only short-lived. A party of them really dazzled common folk by the splendour of their turn-out, both as regarded themselves and their equipage. People took them for foreign princes, or native nobility returned from foreign climes, and not yet familiarly known to the public. The impression did not last long. The well-dressed, finely-curled, highly scented, richly-jewelled strangers, sauntering among the better known aristocracy, commenced a series of predatory operations which speedily brought them within the fastness of the town gaol. No one who saw them there a day or two later, after seeing them on the course, will ever forget the sight and the strange contrast. Stripped of their finery, closely cropped, and clad in coarse flannel dresses, they might be seen seated at a board, with a hot lump of stony-looking rice before them for a dinner.


Altogether, there was occasionally a very mixed society on and about the course: among the so-to-speak professional habitués, men who made a business of the pursuit there—who were actors rather than spectators, and all of whom have disappeared without leaving a successor in his peculiar line,—we may mention the old Duke of Leeds, redolent of port; the white-faced Duke of Cleveland, "the Jesuit of the Ring;" P. W. Ridsale, ex-footman, then millionaire, finally pauper; blacksmith Richardson, who, shaking his head at "Leeds," would remark of himself, that sobriety alone had saved him from being hanged; Mr. Beardsworth, who had been originally a hackney-coachman, then sporting his crimson liveries; Mr. Crook, who commenced life with a fish-basket; and the well-known son of the ostler at the Black Swan, in York, wearing diamond rings and pins, betting his thousands, and looking as cool the while, as if he not only largely used the waters of Pactolus, but owned half the gold-dust on its banks.

The two extremes of the official men as regarded rank, were, perhaps, Lord George Bentinck and Mr. Gully, the ex-pugilist. The former introduced, at Doncaster, the signal-flag to regulate the "starts," and he founded the Bentinck Fund (with the money subscribed for a testimonial to himself), for the relief of decayed jockeys and trainers. The two men were equals in one respect, the coolness with which they either won or lost. They who remember the year when Petre's Matilda beat Gully's Mameluke, and who witnessed the event and its results, speak yet with a sort of pride of Gully's conduct. He had lost immensely; but he was the first man who appeared in the betting-rooms to pay anyone who had a bet registered against him; and he was the last man to leave, not retiring till he was satisfied that there did not remain a single claimant. He paid away a grand total on that occasion which properly invested, would have set all the poor in Doncaster at ease for ever.—Abridged from the Athenæum, No. 1715.


"Walking Stewart."

Early in the year 1821, London lost one of its famous eccentrics, who rejoiced in the above distinction, which, it must be admitted, he had fairly earned. He was one of the lions of the great town, and his ubiquitous nature was thus ingeniously sketched:—

"Who that ever weathered his way over Westminster Bridge has not seen Walking Stewart (his invariable cognomen) sitting in the recess on the brow of the bridge, spencered up to his throat and down to his hips with a sort of garment, planned, it would seem, to stand powder, as became the habit of a military man; his dingy, dusty inexpressibles (truly inexpressibles), his boots travel-stained, black up to his knees—and yet not black neither—but arrant walkers, both of them, or their complexions belied them; his aged, but strongly-marked, manly, air-ripened face, steady as truth; and his large, irregular, dusty hat, that seemed to be of one mind with the boots? We say, who does not thus remember Walking Stewart, sitting, and leaning on his stick, as though he had never walked in his life, but had taken his seat on the bridge at his birth, and had grown old in his sedentary habit? To be sure, this view of him is rather negatived by as strong a remembrance of him in the same spencer and accompaniments of hair-powder and dust, resting on a bench in the Park, with as perfectly an eternal air: nor will the memory let him keep a quiet, constant seat here for ever; recalling him, as she is wont, in his shuffling, slow perambulation of the Strand, or Charing Cross, or Cockspur Street. Where really was he? You saw him on Westminster Bridge, acting his own monument. You went into the Park—he was there! fixed as the gentleman at Charing Cross. You met him, however, at Charing Cross, creeping on like the hour-hand upon a dial, getting rid of his rounds and his time at once! Indeed, his ubiquity appeared enormous,[301] and yet not so enormous as the profundity of his sitting habits. He was a profound sitter. Could the Pythagorean system be entertained, what other would now be tenanted by Walking Stewart? Truly, he seemed always going, like a lot at an auction, and yet always at a stand, like a hackney-coach! Oh, what a walk was his to christen a man by! A slow, lazy, scraping, creeping, gazing pace—a shuffle—a walk in its dotage—a walk at a stand-still—yet was he a pleasant man to meet. We remember his face distinctly, and allowing a little for its northern hardness, it was certainly as wise, as kindly, and as handsome a face as ever crowned the shoulders of a soldier, a scholar and a gentleman.

"Well! Walking Stewart is dead! He will no more be seen niched in Westminster Bridge, or keeping his terms as one of the benchers of St. James's Park, or painting the pavement with moving but uplifted feet. In vain we looked for him 'at the hour when he was wont to walk.' The niche in the bridge is empty of its amiable statue, and as he is gone from this spot he has gone from all, for he was ever all in all! Three persons seemed departed in him. In him there seems to have been a triple death!"

We are tempted "to consecrate a passage" to him, as John Buncle expresses it, from a tiny pamphlet entitled "The Life and Adventures of the celebrated Walking Stewart, including his travels in the East Indies, Turkey, Germany, and America," and the author, "a relative," has contrived to out-do his subject in getting over the ground, for he manages to close his work at the end of the sixteenth page.

John Stewart, or Walking Stewart, was born of two Scotch parents, in 1749, in London, and was in due time sent to Harrow, and thence to the Charter House, where he established himself as a dunce—no bad promise in a boy, we think. He left school and was sent to India, where his character and energies unfolded themselves, as his[302] biographer tells us, for his mind was unshackled by education.

He resolved to amass 3,000l., and then to return to England. No bad resolve. To attain this, he quitted the Company's Service and entered that of Hyder Ally. He now turned soldier, and became a general. Hyder's generals were easily made and unmade. Stewart behaved well and bravely, and paid his regiment without drawbacks, which made him popular. Becoming wounded somehow, and having no great faith in Hyder's surgeons, he begged leave to join the English for medical advice. Hyder gave a Polonius kind of admission, quietly determining to cut the traveller and his journey as short as possible, for his own sake and that of the invalid. Stewart sniffed the intention of Ally, and taking an early opportunity of cutting his company before they could cut him, he popped into a river, literally swam for his life, reached the bank, ran before his hunters like an antelope, and arrived safely at the European forts. He got in breathless, and lived. How he was cured of his wounds is thus told by Colonel Wilks in his Sketches of the South of India:—

"An English gentleman commanded one of the corps, and was most severely wounded after a desperate resistance; others in the same unhappy situation met with friends, or persons of the same caste, to procure for them the rude aid offered by Indian surgery; the Englishman was destitute of this poor advantage; his wounds were washed with simple warm water, by an attendant boy, three or four times-a-day; and, under this novel system of surgery, they recovered with a rapidity not exceeded under the best hospital treatment."

A writer in the Quarterly Review, 1817, appends to the above quotation the following:—"This English gentleman is the person distinguished by the name of Walking Stewart, who, after the lapse of half a century, is still alive, and still,[303] we believe, walking daily, in the neighbourhood of the Haymarket and Charing Cross."

Hitherto, Stewart had saved little money. He now entered the Nabob of Arcot's service, and became prime minister, the memoir does not say how.

At length he took leave of India, and travelled over Persia and Turkey on foot, in search of a name, it should seem, or, as he was wont to say, "in search of the Polarity, and Moral Truth." After many adventures he arrived in England: he brought home money, and commenced his London life in an Armenian dress, to attract attention.

He next visited America, and on his return, "made the tour of Scotland, Germany, Italy, and France, on foot, and ultimately settled in Paris," where he made friends. He intended to live there; but after investing his money in French property, he smelt the sulphur cloud of the Revolution, and retreated as fast as possible, losing considerable property in his flight. He returned to London, and suddenly and unexpectedly received 10,000l. from the India Company, on the liquidation of the debts of the Nabob of Arcot. He bought annuities, and fattened his yearly income. The relative says:—"One of his annuities was purchased from the County Fire Office at a rate which, in the end, was proved to have been paid three, and nearly four times over. The calculation of the assurers was here completely at fault: every quarter brought Mr. Stewart regularly to the cashier, whom he accosted with, 'Well, man alive! I am come for my money!'"—which Stewart enjoyed as a joke.

Mr. Stewart now lived in better style, gave dinners and musical parties. Every evening a conversazione was given at his house, enlivened by music; on Sundays he gave select dinner parties, followed by a philosophical discourse, and a performance of sacred music, chiefly selected from the works of Handel, and concluding with the "Dead March in[304] Saul," which was always received by the company as a signal for their departure.

Stewart was attached to King George IV., and lived peaceably until the arrival of Queen Caroline, when her deputations and political movements alarmed the great pedestrian, and awakened his walking propensities, and his friends had great difficulty to prevent him from going to America.

Stewart's health declined in 1821; he went to Margate, returned, became worse, and on Ash Wednesday he died.

To all entreaties from friends that he would write his travels, he replied, No; that his were travels of the mind. He, however, wrote essays, and gave lectures on the philosophy of the mind. It is very odd that men will not tell what they know, and will attempt to talk of what they do not know.

Youthful Days of the Hon. Grantley Berkeley.[33]

At Cranford, Mr. Grantley Berkeley had the first enjoyments of a boy let loose into the country with a brother for a companion. "All day," he says, "we were together fishing, shooting, setting traps for vermin, rat hunting,—in short, seeking sport wherever it was attainable." This, as he suggests, was not exactly the orthodox way of bringing up a boy as he should go; but he is certain that it laid the foundation of his after success as a sportsman. Among other incidents of these days, he broke his collarbone and dislocated his shoulder; and, among other exercises popular in his time, he became familiar with Cribb, Figg, and other heroes of the then "ring," and derived from them as much pugilistic science as they could impart to a young, active, and enthusiastic pupil. At Cranford, moreover,[305] he enjoyed a little private bull-baiting, but that was confessedly more on the account of his brother Augustus, or his brother Augustus's dog, than himself. "Bull," which was the name of the latter, was an eager and extempore performer in this department of the writer's education. At length "Bull" and Augustus left Grantley, who tells us:—

"As we proceeded along the high road, nearing the spot of our separation, we were overtaken by a respectable tradesman, as he appeared, driving his wife towards the neighbouring town in a buggy. It was Augustus's last chance of inducting us into a row, and not to be lost; so he made some most insulting remark upon these unoffending passengers, which so provoked the female, that she unfortunately took up the casus belli, and, with other abuse, called her assailant a 'barber's clerk.' He replied, 'I know I am a barber, and I have shaved you.' When the man heard this wordy war he joined in it. On this my brother told him, that 'if it was not for his woman he would pull him out of his rattletrap and tread on him.' Here was a circumstance that caused my boyish mind considerable speculation. Hard names and some swearing seemed not much to insult the man in the buggy; but on hearing the female at his side called his 'woman,' his wrath knew no bounds. With the exclamation, 'My woman, you rascal! she is my wife!' he set to work lashing my brother with his gig whip, commencing a sort of artillery duel at long practice, not in accordance with the cavalry arm of my brother, nor with his way of fighting. A charge upon the buggy was therefore made by him, keeping his right side open for mischief; and in the obscure darkness I could hear the crown of the hat of the driver get ten blows for one, for his long weapon was useless at close quarters. The female, wife or woman, whichever she was, very quickly saw that the combat was all one way, for with a very much damaged crown her king crouched down on the cushion at her side; so that she awakened up the heath with shrieks of 'Murder!'[306] 'Be off, as hard as you can split,' was then the order to us from the offender. We obeyed, as we heard the heels of his horse speed on far in advance of the buggy."

[32] From The Times Review of his Life, 1865.

To give Mr. Grantley Berkeley fair credit, he condemns the recklessness of such robust adventures, but he pleads that such was the practice in the days when he was raised; and to his own advantage, as he admits, he was summarily recalled to a more quiet regimen by the sudden appearance of a tutor who required from him other exercises. Nevertheless, his stories of little private fights with the sons of the Vicar of Berkeley and one of the keepers, which are very amusing, show that in stable and backyards he enjoyed consolations, though he declares that this was done chiefly for the amusement of his brother Henry, who used to invite him to the stable with the gloves to fight one of the boys above mentioned, when the battle always ended by his knocking the head of his opponent into the manger. He says,

"I remember that for months during these, to my brother, amusing combats my lips were sometimes so cut against my teeth that I could not eat any salad with vinegar, the acid occasioned so much smarting. I could lick my antagonist as far as the fight with the gloves was permitted to go, but in a few days at the word of command the lad was ready for another licking, so that week after week I had no peace, and had to lick him again; nor had I resolution enough to withstand the taunts of being vanquished, if I refused to set to, although my superior proficiency had been a hundred times asserted. All things must have an end: every day strengthened my tall and growing limbs, and every day my power over my antagonist increased, when, for some ill conduct, he lost his service and these, to him, not very agreeable encounters. My brother then for a time lost his amusement; 'Othello's occupation' was gone, for nothing came into service at Cranford that approached the age of a boy. A new footman was, however, inducted, a grown[307] man and not a little one, but a cross-grown lout of a fellow; and, mere boy as I was, we were ordered to the stable, in front of my brother's usual throne, the corn-bin, and there desired to do battle. By this time I had got into such habits of pugnacious obedience that if a bear had been introduced, and I had been told that the beast was to vanquish me, I should at once have boxed with him. The combat I am now alluding to was not unlike one of a boy and bear. I stepped back, put in, and then gave way successfully, for a short time; but at last the man met me with a half-round blow, and hit me clean down on the rough stones of the stable. Henry did not seem to care much; but Moreton, who was present, spoke out loudly against the shame of putting such a boy to fight with a grown man, and I believe, feeling slightly annoyed at the way he had overmatched me, our elder brother stopped any further assault on my part, and suggested that Peter should put the gloves on with his own servant, a well-built, active little fellow, whom he had daily thrashed into one of the most expert boxers of his size. Peter, all agreeable, set to with Shadrach, when the former caught such a right-hander in the face as sent him as if he had been shot upon the stable stones. He rose crying, and deprived of all wish for another blow—my fall very sufficiently avenged. I have often wondered why I was not cowed by all this brutality, or why I ever took to those more gentle accomplishments in life that used to get me the name of 'dandy' among some of my rougher compeers. However, time wore on; I fought through the stable-boys and men-servants, and had sense enough not to acquire any rudeness of manner, nor dislike to more refined occupations."

The author then gives some anecdotes of the persons who visited the Cranford-bridge Inn at this time, most of them for shooting or hunting; and such is the penalty which one gentleman still alive must pay for his presence on one of these occasions that Mr. Berkeley stigmatizes him as a[308] most dangerous companion to shoot with, as he was nearly peppering his (Mr. B.'s) legs and those of the Duke of York. Liston and Dowton, the comedians, used also to come to the Cranford-bridge Inn, and Mr. Berkeley tells a characteristic story of the latter. The astonishment of John Varley, the artist, who taught his sisters drawing, at a man on horseback clearing a fence in his presence, is depicted with a dash of humour, and it is evident from what Mr. Berkeley says of Varley in other respects that he must have been well acquainted with his various eccentricities.

Again we come upon some of his hunting experiences in the neighbourhood of Cranford, such as those shared with Lord Alvanley, who in answer to the question, "What sport?" at White's, replied, "Oh, the melon and asparagus beds were devilish heavy—up to our hocks in glass all day; and all Berkeley wanted was a landing-net to get his deer out of the water." It was with G. B. also that the late Sir George Wombwell, having missed his second horse, spoke to one of the surly cultivators of that stiff vale thus:—"I say farmer, —— it, have you seen my fellow?" The man, with his hands in his breeches' pockets, eyed his questioner in silence for a minute and then exclaimed, "No, upon my soul I never did!" Hunting about Harrow became very expensive from the damage it did to the farmers in that district, and the claims for compensation which it entailed upon Mr. Berkeley and his friends. The result of this, he says, at once became evident; a mine of wealth would soon have been insufficient to cover the cost of a single run over the Harrow vale, and "reluctantly I saw that if I intended to keep hounds I must go farther from the metropolis, and seek a wilder scene in which to hunt a fox instead of a stag, and thus take a higher degree in the art of hunting." Accordingly, negotiations were entered into for his becoming the master of hounds to the Oakley Club in Bedfordshire for 1,000l. a-year, the club taking all the cost of the earth-stopping upon themselves[309] and other incidental expenses. The depreciation of West India property which occurred about this time, and the larger expenses contingent on taking a country in which to hunt a fox four days a week, made him resolve to give up his seasons in London and settle down quietly to a country life, thus avoiding every unnecessary expenditure. His arrangements, in spite of opposition from some members of the club, appear to have been satisfactory and eventually popular, until the sport of his last season was positively brilliant, when in Yardley Chase alone he found seventeen foxes, and killed fourteen of them with a run.

What Became of the Seven Dials

Whoever is familiar with the history of St. Giles's will recollect that Seven Dials is an open area so called because there was formerly a column in the centre, on the summit of which were (traditionally) seven sun-dials, with a dial facing each of the seven streets which radiate from thence. They are thus described in Gay's Trivia:—

"Where famed St. Giles's ancient limits spread,
An in-rail'd column rears its lofty head;
Here to seven streets seven dials count their day,
And from each other catch the circling ray;
Here oft the peasant, with inquiring face,
Bewilder'd trudges on from place to place;
He dwells on every sign with stupid gaze—
Enters the narrow alley's doubtful maze—
Tries every winding court and street in vain,
And doubles o'er his weary steps again."

This column was removed in July, 1773, on the supposition that a considerable sum of money was lodged at the base; but the search was ineffectual.

Several years ago, Mr. Albert Smith, who lived at Chertsey, discovered in his neighbourhood part of the[310] Seven Dials—the column doing duty as a monument to a Royal Duchess—when he described the circumstance in a pleasant paper, entitled "Some News of a famous Old Fellow," in his Town and Country Magazine. The communication is as follows:—

"Let us now quit the noisome mazes of St. Giles's and go out and away into the pure and leafy country. Seventeen or eighteen miles from town, in the county of Surrey, is the little village of Weybridge. Formerly a couple of hours and more were passed pleasantly enough upon a coach through Kingston, the Moulseys, and Walton, to arrive there, over a sunny, blowy common of pink heath and golden furze, within earshot, when the wind was favourable, of the old monastery bell, ringing out the curfew from Chertsey church. Now the South-Western Railway trains tear and racket down in forty-five minutes, but do not interfere with the rural prospects, for their path lies in such a deep cutting, that the very steam does not intrude upon the landscape.

"One of the 'lions' to be seen at Weybridge is Oatlands, with its large artificial grotto and bath-room, which is said—but we cannot comprehend the statement—to have cost the Duke of Newcastle, who had it built, 40,000l. The late Duchess of York died at Oatlands, and lies in a small vault under Weybridge Church, wherein there is a monument, by Chantrey, to her memory. She was an excellent lady, well-loved by all the country people about her, and when she died they were anxious to put up some sort of tribute to her memory. But the village was not able to offer a large sum of money for this purpose. The good folks did their best, but the amount was still very humble, and so they were obliged to dispense with the services of any eminent architect, and build up only such a monument as their means could compass. Somebody told them that there was a column to be sold cheap in a stone mason's yard, which might answer their purpose. It was accordingly purchased; a coronet was placed upon its summit; and the memorial was set up on[311] Weybridge Green, in front of the Ship Inn, at the junction of the roads leading to Oatlands, to Shepperton Locks, and to Chertsey. This column turned out to be the original one from Seven Dials.

"The stone on which the 'dials' were engraved or fixed, was sold with it. The poet Gay, however, was wrong when he spoke of its seven faces. It is hexagonal in its shape; this is accounted for by the fact that two of the streets opened into one angle. It was not wanted to assist in forming the monument, but was turned into a stepping-stone, near the adjoining inn, to assist the infirm in mounting their horses, and there it now lies, having sunk by degrees into the earth; but its original form can still be easily surmised. It may be about three feet in diameter.

"The column itself is about thirty feet high, and two feet in diameter, displaying no great architectural taste. It is surmounted by a coronet, and the base is enclosed by a light iron railing. An appropriate inscription on one side of the base, indicates its erection in the year 1822; on the others, are some lines to the memory of the Duchess.

"Relics undergo strange transpositions. The Obelisk from the mystic solitudes of the Nile to the centre of the Place de la Concorde in bustling Paris—the monuments of Nineveh to the regions of Great Russell Street—the frescoes from the long, dark, and silent Pompeii to the bright and noisy Naples—all these are odd changes. But in proportion to their importance, not much behind them is that of the old column from the crowded, dismal regions of St. Giles to the sunny tranquil Green of Weybridge."


Curtis the Biographer of Corder. An Old Bailey Celebrity.

Curtis the Biographer of Corder. An Old Bailey Celebrity.

An Old Bailey Character.

Some thirty years ago there appeared in the second series of the Great Metropolis[34] a sketch of one Mr. Curtis, an eccentric person who was to be seen in the New Court in the Old Bailey, as constantly as the Judge himself. He (Curtis) was known to everybody in and about the place. For nearly a quarter of a century he had been in constant attendance at the Old Bailey from the opening to the close of each session, never being absent with the exception of two occasions, when attending the county assizes. He wrote[313] short-hand, and was so passionately fond of reporting that he had taken down for his own special amusement every case verbatim which came before the New Court; and such was his horror of the Old Court, that you might as soon expect to hear the Bishop of London in a Dissenters' chapel as to find Mr. Curtis in the Old Court. He was notable for early rising: four o'clock in the morning he considered a late hour. It was an event in his life to lie in bed till five. By seven he had completed his morning journeys, which usually embraced a distance—for he was particularly fond of going over the same ground twice if not thrice in a morning—of from six to eight miles. Among the places visited, Farringdon Market, Covent Garden Market, Hungerford Market, and Billingsgate were never under any circumstances omitted. His own notion was that he had walked as much within thirty years before seven in the morning as would have made the circuit of the globe three or four times. He was, perhaps, the most inveterate pedestrian known; locomotion seemed to be a necessity of his nature. There was only one exception to this rule—that was, when he was taking down the trials at the Old Bailey. He considered it as the greatest favour that could be conferred on him to be asked to walk ten or twelve miles by an acquaintance. He was very partial to wet weather, and as fond of a rainy day as if he were a duck. He was never so comfortable as when thoroughly drenched. Thunder and lightning threw him into ecstasies; he was known to have luxuriated for some hours on Dover cliff in one of the most violent thunderstorms ever remembered in this country. He once walked from the City to Croydon Fair and back again on three consecutive days of the Fair; making with his locomotive achievements in Croydon a distance of nearly fifty miles a-day; and this without any other motive than that of gratifying his pedestrian propensities. He had a horror of coaches, cabs, omnibuses, and all sorts of vehicles; and he was not known to have been ever seen in one. Judging from his partiality to heavy[314] showers of rain, he seemed to be to a certain extent an amphibious being; and he often declared, with infinite glee, that he was once thrown into a pond without suffering any inconvenience. The benefits of air and exercise were manifest in his cheerful disposition and healthy-looking, though somewhat weather-beaten countenance: he seemed the happiest little thick-built man alive.

He not only rose very early, but was also late in going to bed. On an average, he had not for twenty years slept above four hours in the twenty-four. He was often weeks without going to bed at all, and it sufficed him to have two or three hours' doze in his arm-chair, and with his clothes on. In the year 1834, he performed an unusual feat in this way: he sat up one hundred consecutive nights and days, without stretching himself on a bed, or putting himself into an horizontal position, even for a moment. For one century of consecutive nights, as Curtis phrased it, he neither put off his clothes to lie down in bed, nor anywhere else, for a second; all the sleep he had during the time was an occasional doze in his arm-chair.

Curtis's taste for witnessing executions, and for the society of persons sentenced to death, was remarkable. He had been present at every execution in the metropolis and its neighbourhood for the last quarter of a century. He actually walked before breakfast to Chelmsford, which is twenty-nine miles from London, to be present at the execution of Captain Moir. For many years he had not only heard the condemned sermons preached in Newgate, but spent many hours in the gloomy cells with the persons who had been executed in London during that period. He passed much time with Fauntleroy, and was with him a considerable part of the day previous to his execution. With Corder, too, of Red Barn notoriety, he contracted a friendship: immediately on the discovery of the murder of Maria Martin, he hastened to the scene, and remained there till Corder's execution. He afterwards wrote the Memoirs[315] of Corder, which were published by Alderman Kelly, Lord Mayor, in 1837-8: the work had portraits of Corder and Maria Martin, and of Curtis, and nothing pleased him better than to be called the biographer of Corder.

By some unaccountable fatality, Curtis, where he was unknown, often had the mortification of being mistaken under very awkward circumstances for other persons. At Dover he was once locked up all night on suspicion of being a spy. When he went to Chelmsford to be present at Captain Moir's execution, he engaged a bed at the Three Cups inn; on returning thither in the evening the servants rushed out of his sight, or stared suspiciously at him, he knew not why, till at length the landlady, keeping some yards distant from him, said in tremulous accents, "We cannot give you a bed here; when I promised you one, I did not know the house was full." "Ma'am," replied Curtis, indignantly, "I have taken my bed, and I insist on having it." "I am very sorry for it, but you cannot sleep here to-night," was the reply. "I will sleep here to-night; I've engaged my bed, and refuse me at your peril," reiterated Curtis. The landlady then offered him the price of a bed in another place, to which Curtis replied, resenting the affront, "No, ma'am; I insist upon my rights as a public man; I have a duty to perform to-morrow." "It's all true. He says he's a public man, and that he has a duty to perform," were words which every person in the room exchanged in suppressed whispers with each other. The waiter now stepped up to Mr. Curtis, and taking him aside, said—"The reason why Mistress will not give you a bed is because you're the executioner." Curtis was astounded, but in a few moments laughed heartily at the mistake. "I'll soon convince you of your error, ma'am," said Curtis, walking out of the house. He returned in a few minutes with a gentleman of the place, who having testified to his identity being different from that supposed, the landlady apologized for[316] the mistake, and, as some reparation, gave him the best bed in the inn.

Curtis the Biographer of Corder. An Old Bailey Celebrity.

However, a still more awkward mistake occurred. After passing night after night with Corder in prison, Curtis accompanied him to his trial, and stood up close behind him at the bar. An artist had been sent from Ipswich to sketch a portrait of Corder for one of the newspapers of that town;[317] but the sketcher mistook Curtis for Corder, and in the next number of the journal Mr. Curtis figured at full length as the murderer of Maria Martin! He bore the mistake with good humour, and regarded this as one of the most amusing incidents of his life.

Amidst these harmless eccentricities, Mr. Curtis effected much good amongst prisoners under sentence of death. "I speak within bounds," says the author of the Great Metropolis, "when I mention that he has from first to last spent more than a hundred nights with unhappy prisoners under sentence of death, conversing with them with all seriousness and with much intelligence on the great concerns of that eternal world on whose brink they were standing. I saw a long and sensible letter which the unhappy man named Pegsworth, who was executed in March, 1837, for the crime of murder, addressed a few days before his death to Mr. Curtis, and in which he most heartily thanked Mr. C. for all the religious instructions and admonitions he had given him; adding, that he believed he had derived great spiritual benefit from them."

Bone and Shell Exhibition.

It is curious to note with what odd results of patient labour our forefathers were amused to the top of their bent. They were Curiosities in the strictest sense of the term; but as to the information conveyed by their exhibition, it was generally a lucus à non lucendo.

In Suffolk Street, Cockspur Street, an ingenious Mrs. Dards got up a display of this kind, consisting of an immense collection of artificial flowers, made entirely by herself with fish-bones, the incessant labour of many years, of which she said to Mr. J. T. Smith:—"No one can imagine the trouble I had in collecting the bones for that bunch of lilies of the valley. Each cup consists of the bones which contain the brains of the turbot; and from the difficulty of matching the[318] sizes, I never should have completed my task had it not been for the kindness of the proprietors of the London, Freemasons', and Crown and Anchor taverns, who desired their waiters to save the fish-bones for me."

This ingenious person distributed a card embellished with flowers and insects, upon which was engraven an advertisement, stating the exhibition to be the labour of thirty years, and to contain "a great variety of beautiful objects equal to nature." Likewise enabled to gratify them.

"With bones, scales, and eyes, from the prawn to the porpoise,
Fruit, flies, birds, and flowers, oh, strange metamorphose!"

"Quid Rides?"

"People," says Mr. De Morgan, "are apt to believe that a smart saying or a ready retort are not a real occurrence; it was made up: it is too good to be true, &c." Perhaps there is no story which would be held more intrinsically deniable than that of the tobacconist who adopted Quid rides? for his motto on his carriage.

A friend, whose years, it will be seen, are many, has given me the following note:—

"Jacob Brandon was a tobacco-broker in the last century, a remarkable man in his way, supposed to be rich, a good companion, and extravagant in his expenses. Before the year 1800, I saw a chariot in Cheapside with a coat-of-arms, or rather a shield bearing a hand (sample) of tobacco and a motto, Quid rides? It was an old carriage, and at the time belonged to a job-master, so the driver told a person who was curious to know what the arms meant. It was this man's curiosity that caused my noticing the arms. Mentioning the circumstance in my father's presence, he said it was Brandon's old carriage. He had become gouty, and could not walk; he bought the carriage, had it newly painted, and was asked for his arms. This required consideration. Some thought Brandon was a Jew, or of Jewish extraction. Be[319] this as it may, he loved a joke, and cared little for armorial bearings. He was telling a party in Lloyd's Coffee-house about his new carriage, and that he had determined to have a symbol of his profession on it, but that he wanted a motto. A well-known member of Lloyd's, a wit, and, as I afterwards found out, a curious reader, suggested Quid rides? which was forthwith adopted. This was Harry Calendon. I knew him well; he died within the present century. I have found that some of his witty stories about living persons were taken from old books. My father knew Brandon well, and employed him. Now, as to Quid rides? being proposed by some Irish wit as a motto for Lundy Foot, of Dublin, famous for a particular snuff, I have heard something of the history and habits of Lundy Foot; he had no carriage with arms on it. His snuff is still sold with its distinguishing wrapper and stamp, but no Quid rides?—which would certainly have been perpetuated if it had ever been adopted by the manufacturer of the snuff."

"Bolton Trotters."

This was the cognomen given to the muslin-weavers of Bolton in the days of their prosperity. The trade was that of a gentleman. They brought home their work in top-boots and ruffled shirts, carried a cane, and in some instances took a coach. Many weavers at that time used to walk about the street with a five-pound Bank of England note spread out under their hatbands; they would smoke none but long "churchwarden" pipes, and objected to the intrusion of any other handicraftsmen into the particular rooms in the public-houses which they frequented.

The "Bolton Trotters" were much addicted to practical joking, of which Mr. French, in his Life of Samuel Crompton, narrates this story:—"One of the craft visiting Bolton on a market-day, having delivered his work at the manufacturing warehouse, and obtained materials for his succeeding work,[320] placed them carefully in one end of his blue linen wallet, and filled the other end with articles of clothing and provisions, upon which he had expended his recently received wages. He had, however, reserved a portion for his accustomed potation upon such occasions; and that he might enjoy this solace of his labour in comfort and safety, he left his wallet at the warehouse before visiting his favourite tavern. The good ale did its office, and when elevated to just the proper pitch for trotting, he met a brother of the loom, who, like himself, had transacted his day's business, and was now ready to trudge home with his wallet on his shoulder. The two weavers mingled with a little crowd gathered together to hear the strains of the Bolton volunteer band performing near the Swan Hotel. He who had left his wallet at the warehouse was not, however, too much engrossed by the martial music to neglect the tempting opportunity to trot his quondam friend, with whom he stood shoulder to shoulder, though each looked in a different direction. Provided with a needle and stout thread, and being the shorter man of the two, he had no difficulty in sewing the edge of his neighbour's well-filled wallet to the lapel of his own velveteen jacket, and then, during a momentary movement in the crowd, adroitly hitched it from his neighbour's to his own shoulder. An immediate and clamorous charge of robbery was made, and met by an indignant denial from the trotter, who coolly remonstrated with the loser on his culpable want of ordinary care, pointing out, at the same time, at the means he had taken to secure his own wallet, which no one, he said, could steal from him. This evidence was unanswerable, particularly as it was supported by many of the bystanders who had seen the whole transaction, and joined heartily in the laugh at the weaver who had been so effectually trotted for their amusement. A reconciliation was effected through the ordinary means on these occasions, of an adjournment to the alehouse."


Lord Coleraine keeping an Apple-Stall. John Thomas Smith sketching the Scene.

Lord Coleraine keeping an Apple-Stall.
John Thomas Smith sketching the Scene.

Eccentric Lord Coleraine.

J. T. Smith, in his Life of Nollekens, has left these sensible remarks upon a class of persons whose lives present many instances of right feeling and upright conduct, although[322] mixed up with less estimable qualities. "I believe," says Mr. Smith, "every age produces at least one eccentric in every city, town, and village. Be this as it may, go where you will, you will find some half-witted fellow, under the nickname either of Dolly, Silly Billy, or Foolish Sam, who is generally the butt and sport of his neighbours, and from whom, simple as he may sometimes be, a sensible answer is expected to an unthinking question: like the common children, who will, to our annoyance, inquire of our neighbour's parrot what it is o'clock. In some such light Nollekens was often held by his brother artists; and I once heard Fuseli cry out, when on the opposite side of the street: 'Nollekens, Nollekens, why do you walk in the sun? If you have no love for your few brains, you should not melt your coat buttons!'"[35]

The eccentric character is, likewise, sure to be found in London, where there are several curious varieties of this class of persons to be met with. In our walks, perchance, we may meet a man who always casts his eye towards the ground, as if he were ashamed of looking any one in the face; and who pretends, when accosted, to be near-sighted, so that he does not know even the friend that had served him. This short-sightedness is very common. Indeed, he draws his hat across his forehead to act as an eye-shade, so that his sallow visage cannot be immediately recognised, which makes him look as if he had done something wrong; whilst his coat is according to the true Addison cut, with square pockets large enough to carry the folio Ship of Fools. No man was more gazed at than Lord Coleraine, who lived near the New Queen's Head and Artichoke, in Marylebone[323] Fields, and who never met Nollekens without saluting him. "Well, Nollekens, my old boy, how goes it? You never sent me the bust of the Prince." To which Nollekens replied: "You know you said you would call for it one of these days, and give me the money, and take it away in a hackney-coach." "I remember," says J. T. Smith, "seeing his lordship, after he had purchased a book entitled the American Buccaneers, sit down close to the shop from which he had bought it, in the open street, in St. Giles's, to read it. I also once heard Lord Coleraine, as I was passing the wall at the end of the Portland Road, where an old apple-woman, with whom his lordship held frequent conversations, was packing up her fruit, ask her the following question: 'What are you about, mother?' 'Why, my lord, I am going home to my tea; if your lordship wants any information I shall come again presently.' 'Oh! don't balk trade. Leave your things on the table as they are: I will mind your shop till you come back;' so saying, he seated himself in the old woman's wooden chair, in which he had often sat before whilst chatting with her. Being determined to witness the result, after strolling about till the return of the old lady, I heard his lordship declare the amount of his receipts by saying: 'Well, mother, I have taken threepence-halfpenny for you. Did your daughter Nancy drink tea with you?'"

Eccentric Travellers.

Curious stories are told of tourists being so fascinated by certain incidents in their travels as to be diverted from their purposes by finding themselves so comfortable as to wish to proceed no further—a lesson of content which is rarely lost on sensible persons.

It is told of an English gentleman, who started on a tour in 1815, the year of the battle of Waterloo, that he landed at Ostend, with the design of pushing on to Brussels, and took his place in the canal-boat that plied between[324] Brussels and Ghent. The traveller went abroad, not merely to see foreign lands, but with the hope of meeting with illustrious personages and distinguished characters. Finding, however, that on board the trekschuit he not only fell in with many persons worth meeting, but had the opportunity of sitting down with them at the table-d'hôte, he thought he could not do better, and went backwards and forwards, never getting farther than Ghent.

Mr. Thackeray, in his Vanity Fair, gives this somewhat different version of the story:—"The famous regiment ... was drafted in canal-boats to Bruges, thence to march to Brussels. Jos. accompanied the ladies in the public boats; the which all old travellers in Flanders must remember for the luxury and accommodation they afforded. So prodigiously good was the eating and drinking on board these sluggish but most comfortable vessels, that there are legends extant of an English traveller, who, coming to Belgium for a week, and travelling in one of these boats, was so delighted with the fare there, that he went backwards and forwards from Ghent to Bruges perpetually, until the railroads were introduced, when he drowned himself on the last trip of the passage-boat." Possibly the catastrophe is an embellishment.

To these ana, Mr. Sala has added the story of the Englishman, who is said to have made a bet that Van Amburgh, the lion-tamer, would be eaten by his voracious pupils within a given time; and who followed him about the continents of Europe and America in the hope of seeing him at last devoured, and so winning his stakes. Eugène Sue introduces this mythical Englishman among the dramatis personæ of the Wandering Jew.

The Russians, also, have a story of an eccentric traveller—of course, an Englishman—who posted overland, and in the depth of winter, to St. Petersburgh, merely to see the famous wrought-iron gates of the Summer Garden. He is said to have died of grief at finding the gates superior to[325] those at the entrance to his own park at home. Add to this the lying traveller, who boasted that he had been everywhere, and who, being asked how he liked Persia, replied that he scarcely knew, as he had only stayed there a day. Note, likewise, among eccentricities, the nobleman of whom it was inquired, at dinner, what he thought of Athens during an Oriental tour. He turned to his body-servant, waiting behind his chair, and said, "John, what did I think of Athens?"

In May, 1865, died Charles Waterton, "the gentle and gifted squire" of Walton Hall, in Yorkshire, in his eighty-second year. Of this gentleman one of the most eccentric incidents in modern travel is related to have occurred in his wanderings in South America. His attendant Indian had made an instrument to take a cayman, or alligator, of Guiana, on the banks of the Essequibo river. It was very simple; there were four pieces of tough, hard wood, a foot long, and about as thick as your little finger; they were tied round the ends of a rope in such a manner that if you conceive the rope to be an arrow, these four sticks would form the arrow's head; or that one end of the four united sticks answered to the point of the arrow's head, while the other end of the sticks expanded at equal distances round the rope. Now, it is evident that if the cayman swallowed this, the other end of the rope (which was thirty yards long) being fastened to a tree, the more he pulled the faster the barbs would stick into his stomach. The hook was well baited with flesh, and entrails twisted round the rope for about a foot above it. Into the steep sand-banks of the river the Indian pricked a stick, and at its extremity was fixed the machine which hung suspended about a foot from the water. Mr. Waterton and his companions then went back to their hammocks for the night.

Next morning was found a cayman ten feet and a half long, fast to the end of the rope. The next point was to get him out of the water without injuring his scales. After[326] revolving many projects, Mr. Waterton had his canoe brought round; he then took out the mast, eight feet long, and as thick as his wrist, and wrapped the sail round the end of it; he then sunk down on one knee, about four yards from the water's edge, backed by his seven attendants, and pulled the cayman to the surface; he plunged furiously, and immediately went below again on their slackening the rope; they pulled again, and out he came. "By the time," says Mr. Waterton, "the cayman was within ten yards of me, I saw he was in a state of fear and perturbation; I instantly dropped the mast, sprung up, and jumped on his back, turning half round as I vaulted, so that I gained my seat with my face in a right position. I immediately seized his fore-legs, and, by main force, twisted them on his back; thus they served me for a bridle." He now plunged furiously, and lashed the sand with his tail. The people stoutly dragged him and the traveller about forty yards on the sand. After repeated attempts to regain his liberty, the cayman gave in, exhausted. Mr. Waterton then tied up his jaws, and secured his fore-feet in the position he had held them; there was still another struggle; while some of the people pressed upon his head and shoulders, Mr. Waterton threw himself upon his tail, keeping it down to the ground; and having conveyed the cayman away, his throat was cut, and dissection commenced.

This account of "catching a crocodile" was at first regarded as a "downright falsehood." Pliny, in his Natural History, however, describes a race of men who swam after the crocodile of the Nile, "and mounted on his back, like horsemen, as he opens his jaws to bite, with his head turned up, they thrust a club in his mouth, and holding the ends of it, one in the right hand and the other in the left, they bring him to shore, as if captive with bridles." In a rare book of plates of field sports one represents, probably from this account of Pliny, some men riding on crocodiles, and bringing them to land by means of a pole[327] across their mouths, whilst others are killing them with large clubs. Beneath is inscribed in Latin: "Tentyra, an island of the Nile, in Egypt, is inhabited by an intrepid people, who climb the crocodile's back, and, bridling his mouth with a staff, force him out of the river, and slay him."

Dr. Pococke describes a method of taking the crocodile in Egypt still more like that of South America. He says: "They make some animal cry at a distance from the river, and when the crocodile comes out, they thrust a spear into his body, to which a rope is tied; they let him go into the water to spend himself, and afterwards, drawing him out, run a pole into his mouth, and, jumping on his back, tie his jaws together." To return to the Squire of Walton Hall.

Waterton is thus characterised by a personal friend:—He was one of those men whose life, reaching back and retaining many characteristics of the past, contrasted the present sameness with a manner of life much more varied, but now almost forgotten. Rising always at three in the morning, he gave an hour, as he said, "to the health and preservation of the soul," and was then ready for the occupations and pursuits of the day. His conversation and manners had that charm which comes of ancestry, of ancient riches, and a polished education enlivened by a sparkling wit.

In attachment to his religion he was as zealous as his great ancestor, Sir Thomas More, whose clock, from the house at Chelsea, still tells the hours at Walton Hall. His undoubting faith, and the consolations it afforded him, might, indeed, be envied by some of those who worship at other altars.

His hospitality was kind and generous: a stewed carp from the lake carried you back to the good old times, and furnished a dish not soon to be forgotten.

To those who knew him well there was something remarkably[328] genial in the society of the good old squire, and his manner of receiving and bidding them adieu will be long remembered by his friends.

Mr. Thackeray, in The Newcomes, relates of Mr. Waterton this interesting trait:—"A friend who belongs to the old religion took me, last week, into a church where the Virgin lately appeared in person to a Jewish gentleman, flashed down upon him from heaven in light and splendour celestial, and, of course, straightway converted him. My friend bade me look at the picture, and kneeling down beside me, I know, prayed with all his honest heart that the truth might shine down upon me too; but I saw no glimpse of heaven at all, I saw but a poor picture, an altar with blinking candles, a church hung with tawdry strips of red and white calico. The good, kind W. went away, humbly saying, 'That such might have happened again if Heaven so willed it.' I could not but feel a kindness and admiration for the good man. I know that his works are made to square with his faith, that he dines on a crust, lives as chastely as a hermit, and gives his all to the poor."

Elegy on a Geologist.

Archbishop Whately, one day, with genial humour, wrote a supposed "Elegy on Dr. Buckland," of which the following is a portion:—

"Where shall we our great Professor inter,
That in peace may rest his bones?
If we hew him a rocky sepulchre
He'll rise and brake the stones,
And examine each stratum that lies around,
For he's quite in his element underground.
If with mattock and spade his body we lay
In the common alluvial soil,
He'll start up and snatch these tools away
Of his own geological toil;
In a stratum so young the Professor disdains
[329] That embedded should lie his organic remains.
Then exposed to the drip of some case-hardening spring
His carcase let stalactite cover,
And to Oxford the petrified sage let us bring
When he is encrusted all over;
There, 'mid mammoths and crocodiles, high on a shelf,
Let him stand as a monument raised to himself."
Floral design



Gilray and his Caricatures

THE name of James Gilray stands pre-eminent in the annals of graphic satire. In his hands, caricature became an art, and one that exercised no unimportant influence on the kingdom of Great Britain. Previous to this time, there is little challenging admiration in his department of art. The satire for the most part was brutal where it had point, and clumsy even in invention and execution.

Hogarth, Gay, Fielding, Pope, Swift, and Arbuthnot all aided the progress of satire. France was satirized by Hogarth as a lean personage, all frill and wristbands, with no shirt, dieting constantly on frogs, and wearing wooden shoes. If to this we add Goldsmith's hatred of the French, because they were slaves and wore wooden shoes, we have the amount of the materials lying ready for the caricaturists' use. The hatred towards our Scotch brethren, so strongly manifested under the Bute administration, supplied the caricaturists with hackneyed and profitless jokes. The satirical points of the wits and humorists we have just named, and a few obscure caricaturists, were selected, arranged, and adapted by the genius of Gilray to illustrate, by the etching-needle, a series of political events, as important as those of any country of modern times; and in Gilray's works is preserved a pictorial record of the History of England during the greater part of the reign of George III. An artist to excel in caricature must possess abilities of a superior order, not only as a designer and an etcher,[331] but must have a deep knowledge of life, and be conversant with the progress of public business; he must be a good and a ready reasoner upon nearly all questions; his love of truth and justice should enable him to detect the fallacies of argument, and the injustice consequent upon false or injudicious public acts. A keen sense of the ridiculous should direct his pencil; and then, by a few touches, the true caricaturist, in the most striking manner, mercilessly exposes the follies and the consequences of such acts. In Gilray, of all men before him, was found the union of these requisites.

Of Gilray's early life little is known: it is supposed that he was born at Chelsea, in 1757. Mr. Smith, late of Lisle Street, the well-known connoisseur in prints, himself a collector of Gilray's works, states that Gilray was first placed with Ashby, the writing-engraver, who resided at the bottom of Holborn Hill, and afterwards was either a pupil or an assistant with the celebrated Francis Bartolozzi, which is doubtless founded on truth; as the mastery of the etching-needle, occasional use of the graver, the mysteries of biting, re-biting, and other practical points of engraving so completely possessed by Gilray, could hardly have been attained elsewhere than in the studio of an experienced engraver. An active imagination, an acute sense of the ridiculous points of character, or of personal appearance, and a facility of drawing and etching, would in most cases disqualify any student for the quiet and laborious profession of a line-engraver. That Gilray should have abandoned the higher branches of engraving cannot excite either wonder or regret, as, in all probability, the rank of a merely tolerable line-engraver was exchanged for the highest position that can be awarded to the caricaturist; whose works, eagerly expected by the sovereign down to the poorest labourer, invigorated the national feeling against a powerful enemy, hourly watching an opportunity to light up rebellion in the kingdom, with a determination to invade and subjugate Old England.


Gilray made his first appearance as a caricaturist about 1782. Before his time, it was usual for these satires to be published anonymously; and it is very likely that Gilray might have thus published a few caricatures before he openly set up as a caricaturist by profession, and boldly put his name to his productions. The dispute between the two admirals, Keppel and Sir Hugh Palliser, caused a great public sensation. Keppel was tried by a court martial, and acquitted; and Palliser retired from the service. The caricaturist took up the needles and etched a naval pair of breeches and legs, writing underneath, "Who's in Fault? Nobody?" but a head appears over the waistband—and that is Sir Hugh Palliser's; he was the nobody in fault. A comparison of this print with others of Gilray's will convince anyone acquainted with the details of etching that it is Gilray's. It bears the date of 1779. His first acknowledged production is dated 1782. Having opened his battery of fun, he kept up a continued fire upon his political victims until 1811, when an aberration of mind rendered powerless the mighty hand which had "done the state some service." Gilray was fortunate in meeting with Miss Humphrey, the printseller, in St. James's Street; for, in his insane periods, she proved a most kind and attached friend. He lived in her house, and mainly supported her trade by the sale of his caricatures. It is said that both parties had once resolved on matrimony, and were actually walking to church to become man and wife; when, in the course of the walk, they both reflected upon the approaching state of bondage, and mutually agreeing not to sacrifice their liberty by so rash an act as marriage, walked home again!

In the house of Miss Humphrey, Gilray found ample employment, an excellent spot for marking down his game; here he heard all the news and gossip of the day over a friendly table. Her shop being No. 29, St. James's Street (and afterwards in the occupation of a printseller), was of all others the best situated for Gilray's purpose, as his[333] victims were unconsciously walking daily to and fro before the shop. Behind the window was Gilray, pencil in hand, taking off the heads of the ministers and of the opposition. In this way he became so familiarised with their features, that he could drolly exaggerate, almost out of all humanity, the nose and lank figure of "Billy Pitt, the heaven-born minister," and yet preserve so much likeness, that the portrait was immediately recognised. Loutherburg, the eminent artist and scene-painter, went to Valenciennes, after the seige in 1793, to sketch the military works. He was accompanied by Gilray, who sketched the officers. On their return, they were introduced to the king. George III. did not comprehend the slight sketches made by Gilray; and, remarking that he did not understand "the caricatures," sadly offended Gilray, who had intended them as veritable portraits, and had not the least idea of being "funny." Disappointed with the royal criticism, he went home, and the next day caricatured his Majesty, examining a miniature of Oliver Cromwell, by means of candle-ends and save-alls. He showed it to his friends, and said: "I wonder whether the royal connoisseur will understand this?"

The severity and fearful amount of ridicule at Gilray's command, exposed him to threats of personal chastisement, and sometimes to the probability of a prosecution. Fox was more than once disposed to prosecute the artist, or the publishers—and not without reason; for in some of his portraits he was the incarnation of diabolical sensuality. Burke always figured as a half-starved Jesuit; and Sheridan, himself a satirist, could scarcely stand the attacks of the caricaturist on his red nose and portly person. However, they wisely foresaw that a prosecution would be an excellent advertisement for the offensive prints; so the senators sat down, and gratified themselves with enjoying a hearty laugh at each other. George III. was more than once severely attacked by Gilray; but he bore it with great good humour.


The facile invention, extraordinary humour, and rapid execution of Gilray's works were marvellous. Some of his subjects are full of figures, carefully drawn, although exaggerated. A complete collection of his works amounts to no less than fifteen hundred! An over-taxed imagination, constantly on the rack, watching opportunities, and the rapidity with which the design, the etching, finishing, printing, and publishing of the prints required to be executed, told fearfully upon his mind. His mental powers failed, and the mirth-inspiring son of genius became dead to the world. Some lucid intervals occurred, in one of which he etched the well-known plate of the "Barber's Shop," after Bunbury. Poor Gilray was deprived of his reason in the year 1811, from which time, until his death in 1815, he was the wretched occupant of a garret in Miss Humphrey's house. Here, at the barred windows, he was sometimes seen by that esteemed artist, Kenny Meadows, who contemplated the mad artist with horror. Miss Humphrey entirely supported Gilray until death claimed what disease had left of the great satirist. He threw himself out of an up-stairs window, and died of the injuries he received, on the 1st of June, 1815. He was buried at St. James's Church, Piccadilly, where a tablet is erected to his memory.

From Mr. Wright's curious and interesting England under the House of Hanover, illustrated by caricatures and satires, we gather that the favourite subjects to the artists of fun were the sans-culotte extravagancies of the French Revolutionists; and at home the coalition of North and Fox, the fiscal devices of Minister Pitt, the impeachment of Warren Hastings, and the "Alarmists." It was the popular belief that Hastings had bribed the Court of St. James's with presents of diamonds of large size, and in great profusion, to shelter his Indian delinquencies. Caricatures on this subject were to be seen in every print shop. In one of these Hastings is represented as wheeling away in a barrow the King, with his crown and sceptre, observing,[335] "What a man buys he may sell!" and in another, the King is represented on his knees, with his mouth wide open. A common representation of the King and the Queen was as "Farmer George and his wife;" his Majesty's familiarity of manner, general somnolency, Weymouth displays, and his prying into cottage domesticities—to wit, the memory of the seamless apple-dumpling,—afforded unfailing hits for Peter Pindar, Sayer, and Gilray. The dissipation of the Prince of Wales suggested his portrayal as "The Prodigal Son," the Prince's Feathers in the mire, and the inscription on his garter reduced to the word "honi." In one print a Brighton party is represented, "The Jovial Crew, or Merry Beggars:" among the Prince's guests are Mrs. Fitzherbert, Fox, Sheridan, Lord North, and Captain Morris—"Jolly companions every one."

A scarce print of Gilray's commemorates a grand installation of knights at Westminster Abbey, May 19th, 1788, and is called "The Installation Supper," given at the Pantheon, in Oxford Road. It portrays the chief notorieties of the day, in separate groups, simulating over the bottle an obliviousness of political jealousies: Pitt and Fox hobnobbing behind the gruff Chancellor Thurlow; Lord Shelburn is shaking hands jesuitically with Lord Sydney; Lord Derby is hand-in-glove with Lady Mount Edgecumbe, an antiquated blue, who still dreams of conquest; the Prince is besieged by Lady Archer (of gambling notoriety) on one side, and Lady Cecilia Johnson on the other: while Mr. Fitzherbert is in amiable confab with the ex-patriot, Johnny Wilkes:—

"Johnny Wilkes, Johnny Wilkes,
Thou greatest of bilks,
How changed are the notes you now sing;
Your famed Forty-five
Is Prerogative,
And your blasphemy, 'God save the King.'"


Edmund Burke always appears with long-pointed nose[336] and spectacles. In one large print by Gilray, he is discharging a blunderbuss at Hastings, who is defending himself with the "shield of honour." The thin, meagre figure of Pitt, "with his d—d iron face," was fruitful for jest as that of his fat, slovenly opponent, Fox. An equivocal phrase of the Prime Minister gave rise to Gilray's caricature of "The Bottomless Pitt;" or it may have been the financial profundity of the Minister, or the wit of his celebrated housekeeper niece:—

"William Pitt, 'tis known by many people,
Was thin as a lath, and tall as a steeple;
And so spare his behind, he was called (with some wit),
By famed Lady Hester, 'the bottomless pit.'"

Gilray, often as he struck at a minister or satirized a courtier, he yet more often returned to the battle which he loved to wage—that against Bonaparte. With him the Corsican was a murderer, a fanatic, a tyrant; an invader with death's head and dripping sword; a ghoul who loved to feast on human flesh; an incarnate fiend, a demon. Single-handed, Gilray fed and nursed the flame of hatred which burnt so steadily and so long in these islands against that potentate, whether as general, first consul, or emperor. Napoleon himself perceived it, and complained of it. His empress and generals came in for a share of Gilray's pictorial wrath. Ministers, who at the time of the trial of Peltier were not unwilling to conciliate the master of a hundred legions, in vain attempted to stop Gilray. The shop-windows still displayed the bright colours of the newest print, wherein, as incendiary or demon, the chief person was still Napoleon Bonaparte. If, according to the dictum of the latter, one newspaper editor were worse than five corps d'armée acting against him, surely Gilray, with his enormous effect on the British mind, then hardly swayed or taught by leading articles, was worse than five editors. And if we of the volunteer corps wish to realise the intense hatred, the indignation, the burning passion with which most of our[337] fathers regarded the first Napoleon, we have only to turn over some old caricatures. How the old times rise before us, summoned by the tricksy Ariel of art, as we look over them.—See a clever paper in the London Review.

One of Gilray's late prints was Dr. Burgess, of Mortimer Street, "from Warwick Lane." The doctor was one of the last men who wore a cocked hat and deep ruffles. What rendered his appearance more remarkable, he walked on tiptoe.

The commercial history of the caricatures is curious. At the period of the artist's death, the copper-plates from which they were struck were estimated to be worth 7,000l. Upon the demise of the printseller, his widow pledged the plates for 1,000l.; but in the process of time, a better tone of political feeling having supervened, and likewise an improved public taste as regards art, this property, upon being put to sale by auction, was bought in for 500l. Subsequently the widow offered them to Mr. Henry Bohn, the eminent publisher, for that sum; but the process of change adverted to still continuing, the offer was declined. Upon her death her executors, unable to sell them as engravings, sold them as old copper for as many pence as they were originally worth pounds, and Mr. Bohn became the purchaser.

The early political caricatures of Gilray were generally directed against the Government party. These he was hired to sketch, and generally at a small price, according to the will of his employers. He used to smoke his pipe with his early employers, and exert his faculties more to win a bowl of punch than to gain ten pounds. For years he occasionally smoked his pipe at the Bell, the Coal Hole, or the Coach and Horses; and although the convives whom he met at such dingy rendezvous knew that he was Gilray who fabricated those comical prints, yet he never sought to act the coxcomb, nor become the king of the company. In truth, with his neighbouring shopkeepers and master manufacturers,[338] he passed for no greater wit than his associates. Rowlandson, his ingenious compeer, and he sometimes met. They would, perhaps, exchange half-a-dozen questions and answers upon the affairs of etching, copper, and nitric acid, swear that the world was one vast masquerade, and then enter into the common chat of the room, light their cigars, drink their punch, and sometimes early, sometimes late, shake hands at the door and depart, one for the Adelphi, the other to St. James's Street, each to his bachelor's bed.

The facility with which Gilray composed his subjects, and the rapidity with which he etched them, astonished those who were eye-witnesses of his powers. Many years ago, he had an apartment in a court in Holborn. A commercial agent for a printseller had received a commission to get a satirical design etched by Gilray, but he had repeatedly called in his absence. He lived at the west end of the town, and on his way to the city waited on him again, when he happened to be at home.

"You have lost a good job and a useful patron, Gilray," said he; "but you are always out."

"How? What—what is your object?" said the artist.

"I want this subject drawn and etched," said the agent; "but now it is too late."

"When is it wanted?"

"Why, to-morrow."

"It shall be done."

"Impossible, Gilray!"

"Where are you going?"

"Onward to the Bank."

"When do you return?"

"At four o'clock." It was now eleven.

"I'll bet you a bowl of punch it shall be completed, etched and bitten in, and a proof before that time."


The plate was finished; it contained many figures; the parties were mutually delighted, and the affair ended with a[339] tipsy bout, at the Gray's Inn Coffee-house, at the employer's expense.

It was not likely that such an original would be content to sit, year after year, over a sheet of copper, perpetuating the renown of others, whilst possessed of a restless and ardent mind, intent on exploring unknown regions of taste, he could open a way through the intricacies of art, and by a short but eccentric cut reach the Temple of Fame. He set to work, and succeeded to the astonishment of the goddess, who, one day, beheld this new votary unceremoniously resting upon the steps of her altar.[36]

William Blake, Painter and Poet.

The life of this extraordinary man of genius has been written by Mr. Alexander Gilchrist, with much feeling, judgment, and good taste. Wordsworth was more interested with what he terms Blake's "madness" than with the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott. Fuseli and Flaxman predicted a day when the drawings of Blake should be as much sought after and treasured by artists as those of Michael Angelo. Hayley admired and befriended Blake. He was a true poet, though, as Gilchrist says, "he neither wrote nor drew for the many, hardly for workyday men at all; rather for children and angels—himself a divine child, whose play-things were sun, moon, and stars, the heavens, and the earth."

Blake was born in 1757, at No. 28, Broad Street, Carnaby Market, where his father carried on the business of a hosier. When a boy he began to dream. When eight or ten years of age, he brought home from Peckham Rye a tale of a tree filled with angels, for doing which his father threatened to thrash him.

In 1767 he was sent to the drawing-school of Mr. Pars,[340] in the Strand, and taught to copy plaster casts after the antique, while his father made a collection of prints for him to study. He had already, too, begun to write poetry. At the age of fourteen he was placed with James Basire, the engraver. His father intended to apprentice him to Ryland, a more famous engraver than Basire. The boy Blake, however, raised an unexpected scruple. "The sequel," says Mr. Gilchrist, "shows it to have been a singular instance, if not of absolute prophetic gift or second sight, at all events of natural intuition into character and power of forecasting the future, from such as is often the endowment of temperament like his. In after-life this involuntary faculty of reading hidden writing continued to be a characteristic. 'Father,' said the strange boy, after the two had left Ryland's studio, 'I do not like the man's face; it looks as if he lived to be hanged!' Appearances were at this time utterly against the probability of such an event." But, twelve years after this interview, the unfortunate Ryland got into embarrassment, committed a forgery on the East India Company, and the prophecy was fulfilled.

By 1773 Blake had begun to draw his own dreams, such as one of Joseph of Arimathea, described by him as "one of the Gothic artists who built the cathedrals in what we call the Dark Ages, wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins." In 1783 Blake published, by the help of friends, a small volume of Poetical Sketches, of which here is a specimen:—

"Memory, hither come,
And tune your merry notes;
And, while upon the wind
Your music floats,
I'll pore upon the stream
Where sighing lovers dream,
And fish for fancies as they pass
Within the watery glass.
"I'll drink of the clear stream,
And hear the linnet's song;
[341] And there I'll lie and dream
The day along:
And, when night comes, I'll go
To places fit for woe;
Walking along the darkened valley
With silent Melancholy."

We pass over Blake's progress in his art, but may remark, from his biographer, that although he drew the Antique with great care, he thus early conceived a distaste for the study as pursued in Academies of Art. "Already 'life,'" says Mr. Gilchrist, "in so factitious, monotonous an aspect of it as that presented by a model artificially posed to enact an artificial part—to maintain in painful rigidity some fleeting gesture of spontaneous Nature's—became, as it continued, 'hateful,' looking to him, laden with thick-coming fancies, 'more like death' than life; nay (singular to say), 'smelling of mortality'—to an imaginative mind! 'Practice and opportunity,' he used afterwards to declare, 'very soon teach the language of art;' as much, that is, as Blake ever acquired, not a despicable if imperfect quantum. 'Its spirit and poetry, centred in the imagination alone, never can be taught; and these make the artist:' a truism, the fervid poet already began to hold too exclusively in view. Even at their best—as the vision-seer and instinctive Platonist tells us in one of the very last years of his life (MS. notes to Wordsworth)—mere 'Natural objects always did and do weaken, deaden, and obliterate imagination in me!'"

Blake wrote many songs, to which he also composed tunes, sometimes singularly beautiful; these he would occasionally sing to his friends. His later verse, which he attached to his plates, was very enigmatical. Though he did not for forty years attend any place of divine worship, yet he was not a Freethinker nor irreligious, as has been scandalously represented. The Bible was everything with him. How he reverenced the Almighty, the following conclusion of his address to the Deity will show:—


"For a tear is an intellectual thing;
And a sigh is the sword of an Angel King;
And the bitter groan of a martyr's woe
Is an arrow from the Almighty's bow."

And in his Address to the Christians:—

"I give you the end of a golden string,
Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you in at Heaven's gate,
Built in Jerusalem's wall."

Blake was a diligent and enthusiastic student. The day he devoted to the graver and the night to poetry; he was utterly indifferent to the goods of this life, and used to say: "My business is not to gather gold, but to make glorious shapes expressing god-like sentiments."

When Blake was twenty-six years of age, he married Catherine Boutcher, who lived near his father's house, and was noticed by Blake for the whiteness of her hands, the brightness of her eyes, and a slim and handsome shape, corresponding with his own notions of sylphs and naiads. His marriage proved a mutually happy one. She had not learned to write, but Blake instructed his "beloved," as he most frequently called her, and allowed her till the last moments of his practice to take off his proof impressions and print his works, which she did most carefully, and ever delighted in the task; nay, she became a draughtswoman. And as a convincing proof that she and her husband were born for each other's comfort, she not only cheerfully entered into his views, but, what is curious, possessed a similar power of imbibing ideas, and produced drawings equally original, and in some respects, interesting. She almost rivalled him in all things, save in the power of seeing visions of any individual living or dead, whenever he chose to see them. Yet, she joined him in other extravagances. The painter and Mrs. Blake one day received a guest in their arbour in a state of nakedness, to whom they calmly declared that they were Adam and Eve!


In his thirtieth year, Blake annotated the Aphorisms of Lavater, and illustrated his own poems, The Songs of Innocence and of Experience. These, with the illustrations to Blair's Grave, to the Book of Job, and the plate of the Canterbury Pilgrimage—are the works of Blake by which he is best known. He was his own printer and publisher. His deceased brother and pupil, Robert Blake, disclosed to him in a dream by what manner of process his purpose could be brought to pass and the last half-crown he possessed was spent by Mrs. Blake to procure the materials. Their manner of manipulation was revealed to him by "Joseph, the sacred carpenter."

One of the most touching and popular of The Songs of Innocence was "The Chimney Sweeper:"

"When my mother died I was very young
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry—weep! weep! weep!
So your chimneys I clean and in soot I sleep.
"There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curl'd like a lamb's back, was shaved; so I said,
Hush, Tom, never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.
"And so he was quiet—and on that very night,
As Tommy was sleeping, he had such a sight;
There thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;
"And by came an Angel, who had a bright key,
He opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green vale, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river, and shine like the sun.
"Then, naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise up on pure clouds and sport in the wind:
And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father and never want joy.
"And so Tommy awoke and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work;
Though the morning was cold, he was happy and warm,
So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm."


In 1800, the Blakes were invited by Hayley to visit him at Felpham, in Sussex, under the idea of providing the artist with occupation and emolument. Upon this occasion Blake wrote thus to Flaxman:—

"Dear Sculptor of Eternity,—We are safe arrived at our cottage, which is more beautiful than I thought it, and more convenient. It is a perfect model for cottages, and I think for palaces of magnificence, only enlarging—not altering its proportions, and adding ornaments and not principles. Nothing can be more grand than its simplicity and usefulness. Simple without intricacy, it seems to be the spontaneous expression of humanity congenial to the wants of men. No other formed house can ever please me so well, nor shall I ever be persuaded, I believe, that it can be improved either in beauty or use. Mr. Hayley received us with his usual brotherly affection. I have begun to work. Felpham is a sweet place for study, because it is more spiritual than London. Heaven opens here on all sides her golden gates; her windows are not obstructed by vapours; voices of celestial inhabitants are more distinctly heard, and their forms more distinctly seen; and my cottage is also a shadow of their houses. My wife and sister are both well, courting Neptune for an embrace.

"And now begins a new life, because another covering of earth is shaken off. I am more famed in Heaven for my works than I could well conceive. In my brain are studies and chambers filled with books and pictures of old, which I wrote and painted in ages of eternity before my mortal life; and those works are the delight and study of archangels. Why then should I be anxious about riches or the fame of mortality? The Lord our Father will do for us and with us according to his Divine will, for our good. You, O dear Flaxman! are a sublime archangel—my friend and companion from eternity. In the Divine bosom is our dwelling-place. I look back into the regions of reminiscence,[345] and behold our ancient days before this earth appeared in its vegetated mortality to my mortal vegetated eyes. I see our houses of eternity which can never be separated, though our mortal vehicles should stand at the remotest corners of heaven from each other. Farewell my best friend! Remember me and my wife in love and friendship to our dear Mrs. Flaxman, whom we ardently desire to entertain beneath our thatched roof of rusted gold. And believe me for ever to remain your grateful and affectionate

"William Blake."

This association at Felpham lasted four years, when the Blakes left by mutual consent. Yet the painter wrote upon his host these sarcastic epigrams:—

"To Hayley.

"Thy friendship oft has made my heart to ache:
Do be my enemy, for friendship's sake!"

"On H. [Hayley], the Pickthank.

"I write the rascal thanks; till he and I
With thanks and compliments are quite drawn dry."

He had already written:—

"My title as a genius thus is proved,—
Not praised by Hayley, nor by Flaxman loved."

About this time, Blake's mind was confirmed in that extraordinary state which many suppose to have been a species of chronic insanity. He was so exclusively occupied with his own ideas, that he at last persuaded himself that his imaginations were spiritual realities. He thought that he conversed with the spirits of the long-departed great—of Homer, Moses, Pindar, Virgil, Dante, Milton, and many others. Some of these spirits sat to him for their portraits.

Dr. de Boismont, among his Hallucinations involving Insanity, thus describes him as a lunatic, of the name of Blake, who was called the Seer. There was nothing[346] of the impostor about him; he seemed to be thoroughly in earnest.

"This man constituted himself the painter of spirits. On the table before him were pencils and brushes ready for his use, that he might depict the countenances and attitudes of his heroes, whom he said he did not summon before him, but who came of their own accord, and entreated him to take their portraits. Visitors might examine large volumes filled with these drawings: amongst others were the portraits of the devil and his mother. When I entered his cell," says the author of this notice, "he was drawing the likeness of a girl whose spectre he pretended had appeared to him."

"Edward III. was one of his most constant visitors, and in acknowledgment of the monarch's condescension, Blake had drawn his portrait in oils in three sittings. I put such questions as were likely to have embarrassed him; but he answered them in the most unaffected manner, and without any hesitation.

"'Do these persons have themselves announced, or do they send in their cards?'—'No; but I recognise them when they appear. I did not expect to see Marc Antony last night, but I knew the Roman the moment he set foot in my house.'—'At what hour do these illustrious dead visit you?'—'At one o'clock: sometimes their visits are long, sometimes short. The day before yesterday I saw the unfortunate Job, but he would not stay more than two minutes; I had hardly time to make a sketch of him, which I afterwards engraved——but silence! Here is Richard III.!'—'Where do you see him?'—'Opposite to you, on the other side of the table: it is his first visit.'—'How do you know his name?'—'My spirit recognizes him, but I cannot tell you how.'—'What is he like?'—'Stern, but handsome: at present I only see his profile; now I have the three-quarter face; ah! now he turns to me, he is terrible to behold.'—'Could you ask him any questions?'—'Certainly. What[347] would you like me to ask him?'—'If he pretends to justify the murders he committed during his life?'—'Your question is already known to him. We converse mind to mind by intuition and by magnetism. We have no need of words.'—'What is his Majesty's reply?'—'This; only it is somewhat longer than he gave it to me, for you would not understand the language of spirits. He says what you call murder and carnage is all nothing; that in slaughtering fifteen or twenty thousand men you do no wrong; for what is immortal of them is not only preserved, but passes into a better world, and the man who reproaches his assassin is guilty of ingratitude, for it is by his means he enters into a happier and more perfect state of existence. But do not interrupt me; he is now in a very good position, and if you say anything more, he will go.'"

"Visions, such as are said to arise in the sight of those who indulge in opium," says Allan Cunningham, "were frequently present to Blake; nevertheless, he sometimes desired to see a spirit in vain. 'For many years,' said he, 'I longed to see Satan—I never could believe that he was the vulgar fiend which our legends represent him—I imagined him a classic spirit, such as he appeared to him of Uz, with some of his original splendour about him. At last I saw him. I was going upstairs in the dark, when suddenly a light came streaming amongst my feet; I turned round and there he was looking fiercely at me through the iron grating of my staircase window. I called for my things—Katherine thought the fit of song was on me, and brought me pen and ink—I said hush!—never mind—this will do—as he appeared so I drew him—there he is.' Upon this Blake took out a piece of paper with a grated window sketched on it, while through the bars glared the most frightful phantom that ever man imagined. Its eyes were large and like live coals—its teeth as long as those of a harrow, and the claws seemed such as might appear in the distempered dream of a clerk in the Heralds' office. 'It is[348] the Gothic fiend of our legends,' said Blake—'the true devil—all else are apocryphal.'

"These stories are scarcely credible, yet there can be no doubt of their accuracy. Another friend, on whose veracity I have the fullest dependence, called one evening on Blake, and found him sitting with a pencil and a panel, drawing a portrait with all the seeming anxiety of a man who is conscious that he has got a fastidious sitter; he looked and drew, and drew and looked, yet no living soul was visible. 'Disturb me not,' said he, in a whisper, 'I have one sitting to me.' 'Sitting to you!' exclaimed his astonished visitor; 'where is he, and what is he?—I see no one.' 'But I see him, Sir,' answered Blake, haughtily; 'there he is, his name is Lot—you may read of him in the Scripture. He is sitting for his portrait.'"

Blake's last residence was No. 3, Fountain Court, Strand; he had two rooms on the first floor, that in front, with the windows looking into the court, had its walls hung with frescoes, temperas, and drawings of Blake's, and was used as a reception-room. The back room was the sleeping and living-room, kitchen, and studio; in one corner was the bed, in another the fire, at which Mrs. Blake cooked. By the window stood the table serving for meals, and by the window the table at which Blake always sat (facing the light), designing or engraving. "There was," says Mr. Gilchrist, "an air of poverty as of an artizan's room; but everything was clean and neat; nothing sordid. Blake himself, with his serene, cheerful, dignified presence and manner, made all seem natural and of course. Conversing with him, you saw or felt nothing of his poverty, though he took no pains to conceal it: if he had, you would have been effectually reminded of it. But, in these latter years he, for the most part, lived on good though simple fare. His wife was an excellent cook—a talent which helped to fill out Blake's waistcoat a little as he grew old. She could even prepare a made dish when need be. As there was no[349] servant, he fetched the porter for dinner himself, from the house at the corner of the Strand. Once, pot of porter in hand, he espied coming along a dignitary of Art—that highly respectable man, William Collins, R.A., whom he had met in society a few evenings before. The Academician was about to shake hands, but seeing the porter, drew up and did not know him. Blake would tell the story very quietly, and without sarcasm. Another time, Fuseli came in, and found Blake with a little cold mutton before him for dinner, who, far from being disconcerted, asked his friend to join him. 'Ah! by G—!' exclaimed Fuseli, 'this is the reason you can do as you like. Now I can't do this.' His habits were very temperate. Frugal and abstemious on principle, and for pecuniary reasons, he was sometimes rather imprudent, and would take anything that came in his way. A nobleman once sent him some oil of walnuts he had had expressed purposely for an artistic experiment. Blake tasted it, and went on tasting, till he had drunk the whole. When his lordship called to ask how the experiment had prospered, the artist had to confess what had become of the ingredients. It was ever after a standing joke against him. In his dress, there was a similar triumph of the man over his poverty, to that which struck one in his rooms. In-doors, he was careful, for economy's sake, but not slovenly: his clothes were threadbare, and his grey trousers had worn black and shiny in front, like a mechanic's. Out of doors he was more particular, so that his dress did not in the streets of London challenge attention either way. He wore black knee-breeches and buckles, black worsted stockings, shoes which tied, and a broad-brimmed hat. It was something like an old-fashioned tradesman's dress. But the general impression he made on you was that of a gentleman in a way of his own."

Blake died August 12th, 1827: he composed and uttered songs to his Maker so sweetly to the ear of his Katherine, that when she stood to hear him, he, looking upon her[350] most affectionately, said: "My beloved, they are not mine—no—they are not mine." He expired in his sixty-ninth year, in the back room at Fountain Court, and was buried in Bunhill Fields on the 17th of August, at the distance of about twenty-five feet from the north wall, numbered 80.

Joseph Nollekens. From the Life and Times by J. T. Smith.

Joseph Nollekens. From the Life and Times by J. T. Smith.

Nollekens, the Sculptor.

Avarice would appear to have run in the blood of the Nollekens family. "Old Nollekens," the father of Joseph, was "a miserably avaricious man," and when, in the Rebellion of 1745, his house was attacked by the mob, who thought themselves sure of finding money, the old man[351] became so terrified that he lingered in a state of alarm until his death.

Little Joey was described by Mrs. Scheemakers, the sculptor's wife, as "so honest that she could always trust him to stone the raisins." His love of modelling was his greatest pleasure, though he had an idle propensity for bell-tolling; and whenever his master missed him, and the dead-bell of St. James's church was tolling, he knew perfectly well what Joey was at.

As Nollekens grew up, not unmindful of his art, he rose early and practised carefully, and being a true son of his father, was passionately fond of money. He was much employed as a shrewd collector of antique fragments, some of which he bought on his own account; and after he had dexterously restored them with heads and limbs, he stained them with tobacco-water, and sold them for enormous sums.

When he returned from Rome, he succeeded as a smuggler of silk stockings, gloves, and lace; all his plaster busts being hollow, he stuffed them full of the above articles, and then spread an outside coating of plaster at the back across the shoulders of each, so that the busts appeared like solid casts. Pointing to the cast of Sterne, Nollekens observed to Lord Mansfield: "There, do you know that bust, my Lord, held my lace ruffles that I went to Court in when I came from Rome."

His mode of living when at Rome was most filthy: he had an old woman who was so good a cook, that she would often give him a dish for dinner which cost him no more than threepence. "Nearly opposite to my lodgings," he said, "there lived a pork-butcher who sold for twopence a plateful of cuttings—bits of skin, gristle, and fat, and my old lady dished them up with a little pepper and salt; and with a slice of bread, and sometimes a bit of vegetable, I made a very nice dinner." Whenever good dinners were mentioned after that, he was sure to say, "Ay, I never tasted a better dish than my Roman cuttings."


Nollekens married the daughter of Mr. Justice Welch. She was as parsimonious as her husband. Of a poor old woman, whom she allowed to sit at the corner of her house, she would contrive to get four apples, instead of three, to make a dumpling, saying, "for there's my husband, myself, and two servants, and we must have one a-piece." When she went to Oxford Market to beat the rounds, in order to discover the cheapest shops, she would walk round several times to give her dog Cerberus an opportunity of picking up scraps.

Nollekens's bust of Dr. Johnson is a wonderfully fine one, and very like, but the sort of hair is objectionable, having been modelled from the flowing locks of a sturdy Irish beggar, who, after he had sat an hour, refused to take a shilling, stating that he could have made more by begging.

Most of Nollekens's sitters were much amused with his oddities. He once requested a lady who squinted dreadfully to "look a little the other way, for then," said he, "I shall get rid of the shyness in the cast of your eye;" and to another lady of the highest rank, who had forgotten her position, and was looking down upon him, he cried, "Don't look so scorny; you'll spoil my busto; and you're a very fine woman; I think it will be one of my best bustos."

A lady in weeds for her dear husband, drooping low like the willow, visited the sculptor, and assured him she did not care what money was expended on the monument to the memory of her beloved: "Do what you please, but do it directly," were her orders. Nollekens set to work at once, and in a short time finished the model, strongly suspecting she might, like some others he had been employed by, change her mind. The lady, in about three months, made her second appearance, in which more courage is generally assumed, and was accosted by him, before she alighted, with "Poor soul! I thought you'd come;" but her inclination was changed, and she said, "How do you do,[353] Nollekens; well, you have not commenced the model?"—"Yes, but I have though," was the reply. The Lady—"Have you, indeed? These, my good friend, I own," throwing herself into a chair, "are early days; but since I saw you, an old Roman acquaintance of yours has made me an offer, and I don't know how he would like to see in our church a monument of such expense to my late husband; indeed, perhaps, after all, upon second thoughts, it would be considered quite enough if we got our mason to put up a mural inscription, and that, you know, he can cut very neatly."—"My charge," interrupted the artist, "for my model will be one hundred guineas;" which she declared to be enormous. However, she would pay it, and "have done with him."

Nollekens's housekeeping was a model of parsimony. Coals he so rigidly economized that they were always sent early before the men came to work that he might have leisure-time for counting the sacks and disposing of the large coals to be locked up for parlour use. Candles were never lighted at the commencement of evening, and whenever they heard a knock at the door, they would wait until they heard a second rap, lest the first should have been a runaway, and their candle wasted. Mr. and Mrs. Nollekens used a flat candlestick, when there was anything to be done; and J. T. Smith, his biographer, was assured that a pair of moulds, by being well nursed, and put out when company went away, once lasted them a whole year.

Before he was married, Nollekens kept but one servant who always applied to him for money to purchase every article fresh, as it was wanted for the next meal; and by that mode of living, he considered, as he kept his servant upon board-wages, he was not so much exposed to her pilfering inclinations, particularly as she was entrusted with no more money than would enable her to purchase just enough for his own eating; and he generally contrived to get through the small quantity he allowed himself. He was[354] very cunning in hinting at little presents, and frequently complained of a sore throat to those who made black currant jelly.

Sometimes, in the evening, to take a little fresh air, and to avoid interlopers, Mr. and Mrs. N. would, after putting a little tea and sugar, a French roll, or a couple of rusks into their pockets, stray to Madam Caria's, a Frenchwoman, who lived near the end of Marylebone Lane, and who accommodated persons with tea equipage and hot water at a penny a head. Mrs. Nollekens made it a rule to allow one servant—as they kept two—to go out on the alternate Sunday; for it was Mr. Nollekens's opinion that if they were never permitted to visit the Jew's Harp, Queen's Head and Artichoke, or Chalk Farm, they never would wash theirselves.

One day, when some friends were expected to dine with Mr. Nollekens, poor Bronze (the servant), labouring under a severe sore throat, stretching her flannelled neck up to her mistress, hoarsely announced "all the Hawkinses" to be in the dining-parlour! Mrs. Nollekens, in a half-stifled whisper, cried, "Nolly, it is truly vexatious that we are always served so when we dress a joint. You won't be so silly as to ask them to dinner?" Nollekens—"I ask them! Let 'em get their meals at home; I'll not encourage the sort of thing; or, if they please, they can go to Mathias's; they'll find the cold leg of lamb we left yesterday." Mrs. Nollekens—"No wonder, I am sure, they are considered so disagreeable by Captain Grose, Hampstead Steevens, Murphy, Nicolls, and Boswell." At this moment who should come in but Mr. John Taylor, who looked around, and wondered what all the fuss could be about. "Why don't you go to your dinner, my good friend?" said he; "I am sure it must be ready, for I smell the gravy." Nollekens, to whom he had spoken, desired him to keep his nonsense to himself. A dispute then arose, which lasted so long, that perhaps the Hawkinses overheard it, for they had silently let themselves out without even ringing the bell.


Smith, the grocer, of Margaret Street, was frequently heard to declare that whenever Mrs. Nollekens purchased tea and sugar at his father's shop, she always requested, just as she was quitting the counter, to have either a clove or a bit of cinnamon to take some unpleasant taste out of her mouth; but she never was seen to apply it to the part so affected; so that, with Nollekens's nutmegs, which he pocketed from the table at the Academy dinners, they contrived to fill the family spice-box, without any expense whatever.

For many years Nollekens made one at the table of the Royal Academy Club; and so strongly was he bent upon saving all he could privately conceal, that he did not mind paying two guineas a year for his admission ticket, in order to indulge himself with a few nutmegs, which he contrived to pocket privately: for as red-wine negus was the principal beverage, nutmegs were used. Now it generally happened, if another bowl was wanted, that the nutmegs were missing, Nollekens, who had frequently been seen to pocket them, was one day requested by Rossi, the sculptor to see if they had not fallen under the table; upon which Nollekens actually went crawling beneath, upon his hands and knees, pretending to look for them, though at the very time they were in his waistcoat-pocket. He was so old a stager at this monopoly of nutmegs, that he would sometimes engage the maker of the negus in conversation, looking at him full in the face, whilst he slyly and unobserved, as he thought, conveyed away the spice; like the fellow who is stealing the bank-note from the blind man in the admirable print of the Royal Cockpit, by Hogarth.

Mrs. Nollekens would never think of indulging in such expensive articles as spick and span new shoes, but purchased them second-hand, as her friends, by their maids, pumped out of Bronze, who also let out that her muffs and parasols were obtained in the same way. The sculptor's wife would also often plume herself with borrowed feathers[356] a shawl or a muff of a friend she never refused when returning home, observing, that she was quite sure that they would keep her warm; never caring how they suffered from the rain, so that her neighbours saw her apparelled in what they had never before seen her wear.

Mrs. Nollekens's notions of charity were of the same second-hand description. One severe winter morning, two miserable men, almost dying for want of nourishment, implored her aid; but the only heart which sympathized in their afflictions was that of Betty, in the kitchen, who silently crept upstairs, and cheerfully gave them her mite. Mrs. Nollekens, who had witnessed this delicate rebuke from the parlour window, hastily opened the parlour door and vociferated, "Betty, Betty! there is a bone below, with little or no meat on it, give it the poor creatures!" upon which the one who had hitherto spoken, steadfastly looking in the face of his pale partner in distress, repeated, "Bill, we are to have a bone with little or no meat on it!" When they were gone, the liberal-hearted Betty was seriously rated by her mistress, who was quite certain she would come to want.

Mr. Nollekens, having entered his barber's shop, and his turn arrived, placed one of Mrs. Nollekens's curling papers, which he had untwisted for the purpose, upon his right shoulder, upon which the barber wiped his razor. Nollekens cried out, "Shave close, Hancock, for I was obliged to come twice last week, you used so blunt a razor."—"Lord sir!" answered the poor barber, "you don't care how I wear my razors out by sharpening them."

The old miser, who had been under his hands for upwards of twenty years, was so correct an observer of its application, that he generally pronounced at the last flourish, "That will do;" and before the shaver could take off the cloth, he dexterously drew down the paper, folded it up and carried it home in his hand, for the purpose of using it the next morning when he washed himself.


Nollekens used to sing a droll song, of which the following is a verse:—

"So a rat by degrees
Fed a kitten with cheese,
Till kitten grew up to a cat;
When the cheese was all spent,
Nature follow'd its bent,
And puss quickly ate up the rat."

One day, Northcote, the Academician, had just reached his door in Argyle Street when Nollekens, who was looking up at the house, said to him, "Why, don't you have your house painted, Northcote? Why, it's as dirty as Jem Barry's was in Castle Street." Now, Nollekens had no right to exult over his brother artist in this way, for he had given his own door a coat of paint, and his front passage a whitewash, only the day before, and they had been for years in the most filthy state possible.

Mr. Smith received from Miss Welch the following specimens of Nollekens's way of spelling words in 1780:—"Yousual, scenceble, obligine, modle, ivery, gentilman, promist, sarvices, desier, Inglish, perscription, hardently, jenerly, moust, devower, jellis, retier, sarved, themselfs, could for cold, clargeman, facis, cupple, foure, sun for son, boath sexis, daly, horsis, ladie, cheif, talkin, tould, shee, sarch, paing, ould mades, racis, yoummer in his face, palas, oke, lemman, are-bolloon, sammon, chimisters for chymists, yoke for yolk, grownd," &c.

After Mrs. Nollekens's death, as if he had been too long henpecked, Mr. Nollekens soon sported two mould candles instead of one; took wine oftener, sat up later, lay in bed longer, and would, though he made no change in his coarse manner of feeding, frequently ask his morning visitor to dine with him. Yet his viands were dirtily cooked with half-melted butter, mountains-high of flour, and his habits of eating were filthy. He frequently gave tea and other entertainments to some one of his old models, who[358] generally left his house a bank-note or two richer than when they arrived. Indeed, so stupidly childish was he at times, that one of his Venuses, who had grown old in her practices coaxed him out of ten pounds to enable her to make him a plum-pudding.

Mr. Smith declares, that in some respects, aged as he was, he attempted to practise the usual method of renovation of some of that species of widowers who have not the least inclination to follow their wives too hastily. Mrs. Nollekens had left him with his handsome maid, who had become possessed of her mistress' wardrobe, which she quickly cut up to her advantage. Her common name of Mary soon received the adjunct of Pretty from her kind master himself. As it soon appeared, however, that Pretty Mary, who had an eye to her master's disengaged hand, took upon herself mightily, and used her master rather roughly, she was one day, very properly, though unceremoniously, put out of the house, before her schemes were brought to perfection.

Nollekens took snuff; he certainly kept a box, but then it was very often in his other coat-pocket, an apology frequently made when he partook of that refreshment at the expense of another.

"You must sometimes be much annoyed," observed a lady to Mr. Nollekens, "by the ridiculous remarks made by your sitters and their flattering friends, after you have produced a good likeness."—"No, ma'am, I never allow anybody to fret me. I tell 'em all, 'If you don't like it, don't take it.'" This may be done by an artist who is "tiled in;" but the dependent man is sometimes known to submit to observations as the witty Northcote has stated, even from "nursery-maids, both wet and dry."

At the commencement of the French Revolution, when such numbers of priests threw themselves upon the hospitality of this country, Nollekens was highly indignant at the great quantity of bread they consumed. "Why, do you[359] know now," said he, "there's one of 'em living next door to me, that eats two whole quarterns a-day to his own share! and I am sure the fellow's body could not be bigger, if he was to eat up his blanket."

Mr. Browne, one of Nollekens's old friends, after having received repeated invitations to "step in and take pot-luck with him," one day took him at his word. The sculptor apologized for his entertainment, by saying that as it was Friday, Mrs. Nollekens had proposed to take fish with him, so that they had bought a few sprats, of which he was wiping some in a dish, whilst she was turning others on the gridiron.

When Mr. Jackson was once making a drawing of a monument at the Sculptor's house, Nollekens came into the room and said, "I'm afraid you're cold here." "I am, indeed," said Jackson. "Ay," answered the Sculptor, "I don't wonder at it: why, do you know, there has not been a fire in this room for these forty years."

Miss Gerrard, daughter of the auctioneer, frequently called to know how Nollekens did; and once the Sculptor prevailed upon her to dine. "Well, then," said he to his pupil, Joseph Bonomi, "go and order a mackerel; stay, one won't be enough, you had better get two, and you shall dine with us."

A candle with Nollekens was a serious article of consumption: indeed, so much so, that he would frequently put it out, and merely to save an inch or two, sit entirely in the dark, and at times, too, when he was not in the least inclined to sleep. If Bronze ventured into the yard with a light, he always scolded her for so shamefully flaring the candle. One evening, his man, who then slept in the house, came home rather late, but quite sober enough to attempt to go upstairs unheard without his shoes, but as he was passing Nollekens's door, the immensely increased shape of the keyhole shone upon the side of the room so brilliantly that Nollekens cried out, "Who's there?"—"It's only me,"[360] answered the man; "I am going to bed."—"Going to bed, you extravagant rascal!—why don't you go to bed in the dark, you scoundrel."—"It's my own candle," replied the man. "Your own candle! well then, mind you don't set fire to yourself."

Nollekens frequently spoke of a man that he met in the fields, who would now and then, with all the gravity of an apothecary, inquire after the state of his bowels. At last the sculptor found out that he wanted to borrow money of him.

Whenever Mr. and Mrs. Nollekens had a present of a leveret, which they always called a hare, they contrived, by splitting it, to make it last for two dinners for four persons; the one half was roasted, and the other jugged.

It was highly amusing to witness the great variety of trifling presents and frivolous messages which Nollekens received late in life. One person was particularly desirous to be informed where he liked his cheese-cakes purchased; another, who ventured to buy stale tarts from a shop in his neighbourhood, sent his livery servant in the evening to inquire whether his cook had made them to his taste; whilst a third continued constantly to ply him with the very best pigtail tobacco, which he had most carefully cut into very small pieces for him. A fourth truly kind friend, who was not inclined to spend money upon such speculations himself, endeavoured once more to persuade Nollekens to take a cockney ride in a hackney-coach to Kensington, to view the pretty almond-tree in perfect blossom, and to accept of a few gooseberries to carry home with him to make a tartlet for himself. A fifth sent him jellies, or sometimes a chicken with gravy ready made, in a silver butter-boat; and a sixth regularly presented him with a change of large showy plants, to stand on the mahogany table, especially in his latter years, when he was a valetudinarian, that he might see them from his bed; yet the scent mattered not, a carrion flower or a marigold being equally refreshing to him as jessamine or mignonette.


One rainy morning, Nollekens, after confession, invited his holy father to stay till the weather cleared up. The wet, however, continued till dinner was ready; and Nollekens felt obliged to ask the priest to partake of a bird, one of the four of a present from the Duke of Newcastle. Down they sat: the reverend man helped his host to a wing, and then carved for himself, assuring Nollekens that he never indulged in much food, though he soon picked the rest of the bones. "I have no pudding," said Nollekens, "but won't you have a glass of wine? Oh! you've got some ale." However, Bronze brought in a bottle of wine; and on the remove, Nollekens, after taking a glass, went, as usual, to sleep. The priest, after enjoying himself, was desired by Nollekens, while removing the handkerchief from his head, to take another glass. "Tank you, Sare, I have a finish de bottel."—"The devil you have!" muttered Nollekens. "Now, sare," continued his reverence, "ass de rain be ovare, I will take my leaf."—"Well, do so," said Nollekens, who was not only determined to let him go without his coffee, but gave strict orders to Bronze not to let the old rascal in again. "Why, do you know," continued he, "that he ate up all that large bird, for he only gave me one wing; and he swallowed all the ale; and out of a whole bottle of wine, I had only one glass."

A broad-necked gooseberry-bottle, leather-bunged, containing coffee, which had been purchased and ground full forty years, was brought out when he intended to give a particular friend a treat; but it was so dried to the sides of the bottle, that it was with difficulty he could scrape together enough for the purpose; and even when it was made, time had so altered its properties, from the top having been but half closed, that it was impossible to tell what it had originally been. He used to say, however, of this turbid mixture, "Some people fine their coffee with sole-skin, but for my part, I think this is clear enough for anybody."

Nollekens's wardrobe was but a sorry stock. He had but one nightcap, two shirts, and three pairs of stockings;[362] two coats, one pair of small-clothes, and two waistcoats. His shoes had been repeatedly mended and nailed; they were two odd ones, and the best of his last two pairs. When Mary Holt, his housekeeper, came, she declared that she would not live with him unless he had a new coat and waistcoat. Poor Bronze, who had to support herself upon what were called board-wages, had hardly a change, and looked like the wife of a chimney-sweeper. As for table-linen, two breakfast napkins and a large old table-cloth was the whole of the stock. Bronze declared that she had never seen a jack-towel in the house, and she always washed without soap.

The wardrobe, as proved in Nollekens's will, consisted of his court-coat, in which he was married: his hat, sword, and bag; two shirts, two pairs of worsted stockings, one table-cloth, three sheets, and two pillow-cases; but all these, with other rags, only produced one pound five shillings for the person to whom they were bequeathed.[37]

Mr. Nollekens died April 23rd, 1823. His long-drawn-out will and its fourteen codicils afford strange instances of human weakness in many a phase. In some measure to redeem his memory from obloquy, we had rather record a few instances of his generosity, than add more of his parsimony. In his last illness, he asked his housekeeper:—"Is there anybody that I know that wants a little money to do 'em good?"—"Yes, sir, there is Mrs. ——." Nollekens:—"Well, in the morning, I'll send her ten pounds."—"That's a good old boy," said she, patting him on the back; "you'll eat a better dinner for it to-morrow, and enjoy it." And he was never known to forget his promises. With all his propensity for saving, he used to make his household domestics a present of a little sum of money on his birthday; and latterly, upon this occasion, he became even more generous, by bestowing on them, to their great astonishment, ten and twenty pounds each.


Master Betty as Norval. The Young Douglas.

Master Betty as Norval. The Young Douglas.


The Young Roscius.

EARLY in the present century, there appeared upon our stage a boy-actor, whose performances excited the special wonder of all play-goers. William Henry West[364] Betty, the boy in question, was born near Shrewsbury, in 1791. When almost a child, he evinced a taste for dramatic recitations, which was encouraged by a strong and retentive memory. Having been taken to see Mrs. Siddons act, he was so powerfully affected, that he told his father "he should certainly die if he was not made a player." He gradually got himself introduced to managers and actors; and at eleven years of age, he learned by heart the parts of Rolla, Young Norval, Osman, and other popular characters. On the 16th of August, 1803, when under twelve years of age, he made his first public appearance at Belfast, in the character of Osman; and went through the ordeal without mistake or embarrassment. Soon afterwards he undertook the characters of Young Norval and Romeo. His fame having rapidly spread through Ireland, he soon received an offer from the manager of the Dublin theatre. His success there was prodigious, and the manager endeavoured, but in vain, to secure his services for three years. He next played nine nights at the small theatre at Cork, whose receipts, averaging only ten pounds on ordinary nights, amounted to a hundred on each of Master Betty's performance.

In May, 1804, the canny manager of the Glasgow theatre invited the youthful genius to Scotland. When, a little after, Betty went to the sister-city of Edinburgh, one newspaper announced that he "set the town of Edinburgh in a flame." Mr. Home went to see the character of Young Norval in his own play of Douglas enacted by the prodigy, and is said to have declared: "This is the first time I ever saw the part played according to my ideas of the character. He is a wonderful being!" The manager of the Birmingham theatre then sent an invitation, and was rewarded with a succession of thirteen closely-packed audiences. Here the Rosciomania, as Lord Byron afterwards called it, appears to have broken out very violently: it affected not only the inhabitants of that town, but all the iron and coal workers of[365] the district between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. In the Penny Magazine, in a paper descriptive of the South Staffordshire district and its people, it is said:—"One man, more curious or more idle than his fellows, determined to leave his work, and see the prodigy with his own eyes. Having so resolved, he proceeded, although in the middle of the week, to put on a clean shirt and a clean face, and would even have anticipated the Saturday's shaving. The unwonted hue of the shirt and face were portents not to be disregarded, and he had no sooner taken the road to Birmingham, than he was met by an astonished brother, whose amazement, when at last it found vent in words, produced the following dialogue: 'Oi say, sirree, where be'est thee gwain?'—'Oi 'm agwain to Brummajum.'—'What be'est thee agwain there for?'—'Oi 'm agwain to see the Young Rocus.'—'What?'—'Oi tell thee oi 'm agwain to see the Young Rocus.'—'Is it aloive?'" The "Young Rocus," who was certainly "aloive" to a very practical end, then went to Sheffield, and next to Liverpool.

On Saturday, the 1st of December, 1804, young Betty made his first appearance in London, at Covent Garden Theatre. The crowd began to assemble at one o'clock, filling the Piazza on one side of the house, and Bow Street on the other. The utmost danger was apprehended, because those who had ascertained that it was quite impossible for them to get in, by the dreadful pressure behind them, could not get back. At length they themselves called for the soldiers who had been stationed outside; they soon cleared the fronts of the entrances, and then posting themselves properly, lined the passages, permitting any one to return, but none to enter. Although no places were unlet in the boxes, gentlemen paid box-prices, to have a chance of jumping over the boxes into the pit; and then others who could not find room for a leap of this sort, fought for standing-places with those who had taken the boxes days or weeks before.

The play was Dr. Brown's Barbarossa, a good imitation[366] of the Mérope of Voltaire, in which Garrick had formerly acted Achmet, or Selim, now given to Master Betty. An occasional address was intended, and Mr. Charles Kemble attempted to speak it, but in vain. The play proceeded through the first act, but in dumb show. At length Barbarossa ordered Achmet to be brought before him; attention held the audience mute; not even a whisper could be heard, till Selim appeared. By the thunder of applause which ensued, he was not much moved; he bowed very respectfully, but with amazing self-possession, and in a few moments turned to his work with the intelligence of a veteran, and the youthful passion that alone could have accomplished a task so arduous. As a slave, he wore white pantaloons, a close and rather short russet jacket trimmed with sables, and a turban.

"What first struck me," says Mr. Boaden, a trustworthy critic, "was that his voice had considerable power, and a depth of tone beyond his apparent age; at the same time it appeared heavy and unvaried. His great fault grew from want of careful tuition in the outset. In the provincial way, he dismissed the aspirate; and in closing syllables, ending in m or n, he converted the vowel i frequently into e, and sometimes more barbarously still into u. Whether he obtained this from careless speakers in Ireland or England, I cannot be sure; but this inaccuracy I remember to have sometimes heard even from Miss O'Neil. He was sometimes too rapid to be distinct, and at others too noisy for anything but rant. I found no peculiarities that denoted minute and happy studies. He spoke the speeches as I had always heard them spoken, and was therefore, only wrong where he laid vehement emphasis. The wonder was how any boy, who had just completed his thirteenth year, could catch passion, meaning, cadence, action, expression, and the discipline of the stage, in ten very different and arduous characters, so as to give the kind of pleasure in them that needed no indulgence, and which, from that very circumstance,[367] heightened satisfaction into enthusiasm. Such were his performances of Tancred, Romeo, Frederick, Octavian, Hamlet, Osman, Achmet, Young Norval, &c."

An arrangement was made that young Betty's talents should be made available for both Covent Garden and Drury Lane theatres, at which he played on alternate nights. Covent Garden was not quite so large as the Drury Lane of that date; at the latter, twenty-eight nights of Betty's first town season, brought 17,210l. 11s.; nightly average, 614l. 13s. 3d. For his services, Roscius received 2,782l. 10s., being three nights at fifty guineas, and twenty-five nights at 100 guineas; besides four free benefits, which with the presents, were worth 1,000 guineas each. It is supposed that the receipts at Covent Garden were nearly as much as at Drury Lane; and that thus 30,000l. was earned by the boy-actor for the managers in fifty-six performances.

In the meantime, all the favouritism, and more than the innocence of former patronesses was lavished upon him. He might have chosen among our titled dames the carriage he would honour with his person. He was presented to the King, and noticed by the rest of the Royal family and the nobility, as a prodigy. Prose and poetry celebrated his praise. Even the University of Cambridge was so carried away by the tide of the moment as to make the subject of Sir William Brown's prize medal, "Quid noster Roscius eget?" Opie painted him on the Grampian Hills, as the shepherd Norval; Northcote exhibited him in a Vandyke costume, retiring from the altar of Shakespeare, as having borne thence, not stolen, "Jove's authentic fire." Heath engraved the latter picture. "Amidst all this adulation, all this desperate folly," says Boaden, "be it one consolation to his mature self, that he never lost the genuine modesty of his carriage, and that his temper at least was as steady as his diligence."

Fortunately for young Betty, his friends took care of his large earnings for him, and made a provision for his future[368] support. He soon retired from the stage, and then became a person of no particular note in the world, displaying no more genius or talent than the average of those about him. When he became a man, he appeared on the stage again, but utterly failed. We can add our own testimony that the good people of Shrewsbury were ever proud of the precocious boy-actor.

Hardham's "No 37."

This renowned snuff was first made by John Hardham, of Fleet Street, whose history is certainly worth reading. He was born in the good city of Chichester, in the year 1712, and bred up to the occupation of a working lapidary, or diamond-cutter; but he afterwards found his way to the metropolis, and sought confidential or domestic employment, and was in the establishment of Viscount Townshend, some time Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who ever entertained for him great regard. Hardham, early in his career of London life, acquired a fondness for the stage; and thus early wrote a comedy, called The Fortune Tellers, which, although not intended for representation, nevertheless was printed. This, probably, led to his subsequent introduction to David Garrick, with whom he became connected at Drury Lane Theatre, in the responsible post of his principal, "numberer"—that is, discharging a duty in the house of counting the audience assembled, as a check upon the check-takers and receivers of money at the doors. In this duty he became so expert, that Garrick was heard to say, Hardham, by a comparative glance round the theatre, could inform his master of the receipts to a nicety, and he was never found incorrect in his report.

Hardham established himself at the Red Lion, in Fleet Street, now No. 106, where he flourished, by a course of patient industry, and intelligent application to the business of tobacconist and snuff-maker. Although in this new[369] vocation he had fewer opportunities of intimately identifying himself with the stage, he nevertheless remained as ardent an admirer of it as ever. This he exemplified by associating around him in Fleet Street, among whom were many literary personages, the dramatists and wits of the theatre, and his friend David Garrick did not here desert him. So much, in fact, did the dramatic element prevail at the Red Lion in Fleet Street, under his fostering care, that novices for the stage, almost invariably sought his advice, and, indeed, his tuition. His little back-parlour, characteristically enough, was hung around with portraits of eminent performers, to whose styles of dramatic action and manner he would frequently refer in the course of his instructions. Such recreations, however, did not for a moment induce Hardham to relax his best energies in the conduct of the snuff-business, which was daily enlarging the sphere of its operations, and also its renown; which latter was much raised by the successful completion of his experiments in the compounding of the renowned snuff, "No. 37," which was speedily launched upon the tide of public opinion; a tide which "led on to fortune."

Hardham died in the house wherein he had earned his name for business success, for good fellowship, and for "melting charity," in Fleet Street, in the parish of St. Bride, on the 29th of September, 1772, in his sixty-first year. His wife had preceded him by some years, and leaving no child, in his last will, he says, "In all my former wills, I gave my estate to my brother-in-law, Thomas Ludgater, but as he is now growing old (about seventy-four), and as he has no child, and a plenty of fortune, I thought it best to leave it as I have done, for now it will be a benefit to the said city of Chichester for ever." This fortune he left to the easing of the poor rates of his native city, that is, the interest thereof for ever, amounting, after realizing his estate, to the very considerable sum of 22,289l. 15s. 9d., which was placed by his direction in the Three Per Cents., "feeling confident[370] that stock," as he quaintly expresses it, "will never be lower than three per cent., as it now is." In the collecting of the outstanding debts to his estate, there is also this emphatic injunction, to "oppress not the poor." Legacies to several of his Chichester friends show that Hardham kept up in life an active sympathy with his native place, which was to be so largely benefited on his death. One bequest there is, too, of ten guineas, "to his friend David Garrick, Esq., the famous actor," who survived him seven years; and there is besides recorded, as sufficiently indicative of the simplicity of his character, a sum of "ten pounds for his funeral expenses, for none but vain fools spend more," which injunction we doubt not, was religiously observed, when he was buried in the centre aisle of St. Bride's church.—Abridged from a contribution to the City Press.

Rare Criticism.

Mrs. Siddons is known to have described to Campbell the scene of her probation on the Edinburgh boards with no small humour: the grave attention of the Scotsmen, and their canny reservation of praise till sure it is deserved, she said, had well nigh worn out her patience. She had been used to speak to animated clay, but she now felt as if she had been speaking to stone. Successive flashes of her elocution that had always been sure to electrify the south, fell in vain on those northern flints. At last she said that she coiled up her powers to the most emphatic possible utterance of one passage, having previously vowed in her heart that if this could not touch the Scotch, she would never again cross the Tweed. When it was finished, she paused, and looked to the audience. The deep silence was broken only by a single voice, exclaiming, "That's no bad!" This ludicrous parsimony of praise convulsed the Edinburgh audience with laughter. But the laugh was followed by such thunders of applause, that amidst her[371] stunned and nervous agitation, she was not without fears of the galleries coming down.

Another instance of encouraging criticism occurs in The Memoirs of Charles Mathews. Early in 1794, he played Richmond to his friend Lichfield's Richard III.; and both being good fencers, they fought the fight at the end with uncommon vigour, and prolonged it to an unreasonable length. After the performances, the two stars lighted each other to their inn, in hope of liberal applause from their landlord, whom they had gratified with a ticket. But though thus treated, and invited to take a pipe and a glass with the two performers after supper, he was provokingly silent on the great subject; till at length, finding every circuitous approach ineffectual, they attacked him with the direct question, "Pray tell us really what you thought of our acting." This question was not to be evaded: the landlord looked perplexed, his eyes still fixed on the ground; he took at length the tube slowly from his mouth, raised his glass, and drank off the remainder of his brandy-and-water, went to the fire-place, and deliberately knocked out the ashes from his pipe; then, looking at the expectants for a minute, exclaimed in a deep though hasty tone of voice, "Darned good fight!"—and left the room.

The O. P. Riot.

The history in little of this theatrical tumult is as follows:—The newly-built Covent Garden Theatre opened on the 18th September, 1809, when a cry of "Old Prices" (afterwards diminished to O. P.) burst out from every part of the house. This continued and increased in violence till the 23rd, when rattles, drums, whistles, and cat-calls having completely drowned the voices of the actors, Mr. Kemble, the stage-manager, came forward and said that a committee of gentlemen had undertaken to examine the finances of the concern, and that until they were prepared[372] with their report the theatre would continue closed. "Name them!" was shouted from all sides. The names were declared, viz. Sir Charles Price, the Solicitor-General, the Recorder of London, the Governor of the Bank, and Mr. Angerstein. "All shareholders!" bawled a wag from the gallery. In a few days the theatre re-opened; the public paid no attention to the report of the referees, and the tumult was renewed for several weeks with even increased violence. The proprietors now sent in hired bruisers, to mill the refractory into subjection. This irritated most of their former friends, and, amongst the rest, the annotator, who accordingly wrote the song of "Heigh-ho, says Kemble," which was caught up by the ballad-singers, and sung under Mr. Kemble's house-windows in Great Russell Street. A dinner was given at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, in the Strand, to celebrate the victory obtained by W. Clifford in his action against Brandon the box-keeper, for assaulting him for wearing the letters O. P. in his hat. At this dinner Mr. Kemble attended, and matters were compromised by allowing the advanced price (seven shillings) to the boxes. A former riot of a similar sort occurred at the same theatre (in the year 1792), when the price to the boxes was raised from five shillings to six. That tumult, however, only lasted three nights.[38]

Origin of "Paul Pry."[39]

Mr. Poole, the author of this very successful comedy, tells us that the idea of the character of Paul Pry was suggested by the following anecdote, related to him many years before he wrote the piece by a beloved friend.

An idle old lady, living in a narrow street, had passed so much of her time in watching the affairs of her neighbours,[373] that she at length acquired the power of distinguishing the sound of every knocker within hearing. It happened that she fell ill, and was for several days confined to her bed. Unable to observe in person what was going on without, she stationed her maid at the window as a substitute for the performance of that duty. But Betty soon grew weary of the occupation; she became careless in her reports—impertinent and tetchy when reprimanded for her negligence.

"Betty, what are you thinking about? Don't you hear a double knock at No. 9? Who is it?"

"The first-floor lodger, ma'am."

"Betty! Betty! I declare I must give you warning. Why don't you tell me what that knock is at No. 54?"

"Why, Lord! ma'am, it is only the baker with pies."

"Pies, Betty! what can they want with pies at 54?—they had pies yesterday!"

"Of this very point," says Mr. Poole, "I have availed myself. Let me add, that Paul Pry was never intended as the representative of any one individual, but a class. Like the melancholy of Jaques, he is 'compounded of many simples,' and I could mention five or six who were unconscious contributors to the character. Though it should have been so often, but erroneously, supposed to have been drawn after some particular person, is, perhaps, complimentary to the general truth of the delineation.

"With respect to the play generally, I may say that it is original: it is original in structure, plot, character, and dialogue—such as they are—the only imitation I am aware of is to be found in part of the business in which Mrs. Subtle is engaged; whilst writing those scenes I had strongly in my recollection Le Vieux Célibataire. But even the title I have adopted is considerably altered and modified by the necessity of adapting it to the exigencies of a different plot."


Mrs. Garrick. From a portrait taken in her youth.

Mrs. Garrick. From a portrait taken in her youth.

Mrs. Garrick.

In the autumn of 1822, we well remember the appearance in the print-shops of a small whole-length etching of Mrs. Garrick, who had died three or four days previously, having outlived her celebrated husband three-and-forty years.

John Thomas Smith notes: "1822. In October this year the venerable Mrs. Garrick departed this life when seated in her armchair, in the front drawing-room of her house[375] in the Adelphi Terrace." [The first floor of which is now occupied by the Literary Fund Society.] "She had ordered her maid-servants to place two or three gowns upon chairs to determine in which she would appear at Drury Lane Theatre that evening, it being a private view of Mr. Elliston's improvements for the season. Perhaps no lady in public and private life held a more unexceptionable character. She was visited by persons of the first rank; even our late Queen Charlotte, who had honoured her with a visit at Hampton, found her peeling onions for pickling. The gracious queen commanded a knife to be brought, saying 'I will peel some onions too.' The late King George IV. and King William IV., as well as other branches of the Royal Family, frequently honoured her with visits."

In the year previous to her death, Mrs. Garrick went to the British Museum to inspect the collection of the portraits of Garrick which Dr. Burney had made. She was delighted with these portraits, many of which were totally unknown to her. Her observations on some of them were very interesting, particularly that by Dance, as Richard III. Of that painter she stated that, in the course of his painting the picture, Mr. Garrick had agreed to give him two hundred guineas for it. One day, at Mr. Garrick's dining table, where Dance had always been a welcome guest, he observed that Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, who had seen the picture, spontaneously offered him two hundred guineas for it. "Did you tell him it was for me?" questioned Garrick. "No, I did not."—"Then you mean to let him have it?" Garrick rejoined. "Yes, I believe I shall," replied the painter. "However," added Mrs. Garrick, "my husband was very good: he bought me a handsome looking-glass, which cost him more than the agreed price of the picture; and that was put up in the place where Dance's picture was to have hung."

"Mrs. Garrick, being about to quit her seat, said she would be glad to see me at Hampton. 'Madame,' said[376] Mr. Smith, 'you are very good, but you would oblige me exceedingly by honouring me with your signature on this day.' 'What do you ask me for? I have not taken a pen in my hands for many months. Stay, let me compose myself; don't hurry me, and I will see what I can do. Would you like it written with my spectacles on, or without?' Preferring the latter, she wrote, 'E. M. Garrick,' but not without some exertion.

"'I suppose now, sir, you wish to know my age. I was born at Vienna, the 29th of February, 1724, though my coachman insists upon it that I am above a hundred. I was married at the parish of St. Giles at eight o'clock in the morning, and immediately afterwards in the chapel of the Portuguese Ambassador, in South Audley Street.'"

A day or two after Mrs. Garrick's death, Mr. Smith went to the Adelphi, to know if a day had been fixed for the funeral. "No," replied George Harris, one of Mrs. Garrick's confidential servants, "but I will let you know when it is to take place. Would you like to see her? She is in her coffin."—"Yes I should." Upon entering the back room on the first floor, in which Mrs. Garrick died, Mr. Smith found the deceased's two female servants standing by her remains. He made a drawing of her, and intended to have etched it. "Pray, do tell me," said Smith to one of the maids, "why is the coffin covered with sheets?"—"They are their wedding sheets, in which both Mr. and Mrs. Garrick wished to have died." Mr. Smith was told that one of these attentive women had incurred her mistress's displeasure by kindly pouring out a cup of tea, and handing it to her in her chair: "Put it down, you hussy: do you think I cannot help myself." She took it herself, and a short time after she had put it to her lips, she died.

This lady continued her practice of swearing now and then, particularly when anyone attempted to impose upon her. A stonemason brought in his bill, with an overcharge of sixpence more than the sum agreed upon; on which[377] occasion he endeavoured to appease her rage by thus addressing her: "My dear Madam, do consider—" "My dear Madam! what do you mean, you d—d fellow? Get out of the house immediately. My dear Madam, indeed!"

On the day of the funeral Smith went with Miss Macaulay, the authoress, to see the venerable lady interred; but when they arrived at Westminster Abbey, they were refused admittance by a person who said: "If it be your wish to see the waxwork, you must come when the funeral's over, and you will then be admitted into Poet's Corner, by a man who is stationed at the door to receive your money."

"Curse the waxwork!" said Smith, "this lady and I came to see Mrs. Garrick's remains placed in the grave."—"Ah, well, you can't come in; the Dean won't allow it."—"As soon as the ceremony was over," says Smith, "we were admitted for sixpence at the Poet's Corner, and there we saw the earth that surrounded the grave, and no more, as we refused to pay the demands of the showmen of the Abbey."

Horace Walpole, though he wrote a bitter letter upon Garrick's funeral, and some strange opinions of his acting, left some good-humoured remarks upon Mrs. Garrick: he writes to Miss Hannah More: "Mrs. Garrick I have scarcely seen this whole summer. She is a liberal Pomona to me, I will not say an Eve, for though she reaches fruit to me, she will never let me in, as if I were a boy, and would rob her orchard."


Charles Mathews the Elder.

Charles Mathews the Elder.

Mathews, a Spanish Ambassador.

Mathews once personated a Spanish Ambassador; a frolic enacted by him at an inn at Dartford. An account[379] of the freak was written by Tom Hill, who took part in the scene, acting as Mathews's interpreter. He called it his "Recollections of his Excellency the Spanish Ambassador's visit to Captain Selby, on board the Prince Regent one of his Majesty's frigates stationed at the Nore, by the Interpreter."

The party hired a private coach, of large capacity, and extremely showy, to convey them to Gravesend as the suite of Mathews, who personated an ambassador from Madrid to the English Government, and four smart lads, who were entrusted with the secret by the payment of a liberal fee. The drivers proved faithful to their promise. When they arrived at the posting-house at Dartford, one of the drivers dismounted, and communicated to the inn-keeper the character of the nobleman (Mathews) inside the coach, and that his mission to London had been attended with the happiest result. The report spread through Dartford like wildfire, and in about ten minutes the carriage (having by previous arrangement been detained) was surrounded by at least two hundred people, all with cheers and gratulations, anxious to gain a view of the important personage, who, decked out with nearly twenty different stage jewels, representing sham orders, bowed with obsequious dignity to the assembled multitude. It was settled that the party should dine and sleep at the Falcon Tavern, Gravesend, where a sumptuous dinner was provided for his Excellency and suite. Previously, however, to dinner-time, and to heighten the joke, they promenaded the town and its environs, followed by a large assemblage of men, women, and children at a respectful distance, all of whom preserved the greatest decorum. The interpreter (Mr. Hill) seemed to communicate and explain to the Ambassador whatever was of interest in their perambulation. On their return to the inn, the crowd gradually dispersed. The dinner was served in a sumptuous style, and two or three additional waiters, dressed in their holiday clothes, were hired for the occasion.


The ambassador, by medium of his interpreter, asked for two soups, and a portion of four different dishes of fish with oil, vinegar, mustard, pepper, salt, and sugar, in the same plate, which, apparently to the eyes of the waiters, and to their utter astonishment and surprise, he eagerly devoured. The waiters had been cautioned by one of the suite not to notice the manner in which his Excellency ate his dinner, lest it should offend him; and their occasional absence from the room gave Mathews or his companion an opportunity of depositing the incongruous medley in the ashes under the grate—a large fire having been provided. The ambassador continued to mingle the remaining viands, during dinner, in a similar heterogeneous way. The chamber in which his Excellency slept was brilliantly illuminated with wax-candles, and in one corner of the room a table was fitted up, under the direction of one of the party, to represent an oratory, with such appropriate apparatus as could best be procured. A private sailing-barge was moored at the stairs by the fountain early the next morning, to convey the ambassador and his attendants to the Prince Regent at the Nore. The people again assembled in vast multitudes to witness the embarkation. Carpets were placed on the stairs at the water's edge, for the state and comfort of his Excellency; who, the instant he entered the barge, turned round and bade a grateful farewell to the multitude, at the same time placing his hand upon his bosom, and taking off his huge cocked hat. The captain of the barge, a supremely illiterate, good-humoured cockney, was introduced most ceremoniously to the ambassador, and purposely placed on his right hand. It is impossible to describe the variety of absurd and extravagant stratagems practised on the credulity of the captain by Mathews, and with consummate success, until the barge arrived in sight of the King's frigate, which by a previous understanding, recognized the ambassador by signals. The officers were all dressed in full uniform, and prepared to receive him. When on board, the whole party[381] threw off their disguises, and were entertained by Captain Selby with a splendid dinner, to which the lieutenants of the ship were invited.

After the banquet, Mathews, in his own character, kept the company in high spirits by his incomparable mimic powers for more than ten hours, incorporating with admirable effect the entire narrative of the journey to Gravesend, and his, "acts and deeds" at the Falcon. Towards the close of the feast, and about half-an-hour before the party took their departure, in order to give the commander and his officers "a touch of his quality," Mathews assumed his ambassadorial attire, and the captain of the barge, still in ignorance of the joke, was introduced into the cabin, between whom and his Excellency an indescribable scene of rich burlesque was enacted. The party left the ship for Gravesend at four o'clock in the morning—Mathews, in his "habit as he lived," with the addition of a pair of spectacles, which he had a peculiar way of wearing to conceal his identity, even from the most acute observer. Mathews again resumed his station by the side of the captain, as a person who had left the frigate for a temporary purpose. The simple captain recounted to Mathews all that the Spanish ambassador had enacted, both in his transit from Gravesend to the Nore, and whilst he (the captain) was permitted to join the festive board in the cabin, with singular fidelity, and to the great amusement of the original party, who, during the whole of this ambassadorial excursion, never lost their gravity, except when they were left to themselves. They landed at Gravesend, and from thence departed to London, luxuriating upon the hoax.


Grimaldi as Clown. After De Wilde.

Grimaldi as Clown. After De Wilde.

Grimaldi, the Clown.

Joseph Grimaldi had for his paternal grandfather a dancer, so vigorous as to rejoice in the appellation of "Iron Legs." His son, the father of our Grimaldi, was a native of Genoa, and in 1760 came to England as dentist to Queen Charlotte. He soon, however, resigned this situation, commenced[383] dancing and fencing-master, and was appointed ballet-master of Drury Lane Theatre and Sadler's Wells with the post of primo buffo. He was an honest and charitable man, and was never known to be inebriated, though he was very eccentric. He had a vague and profound dread of the fourteenth day of the month: at its approach he was always nervous, disquieted, and anxious; directly it had passed he was another man again, and invariably exclaimed, in his broken English, "Ah! now I am safe for anoder month." It is remarkable that he actually died on the fourteenth day of March; and that he was born, christened, and married on the fourteenth of the month. This was the same man who, in the time of Lord George Gordon's Riots, when people for the purpose of protecting their houses from the fury of the mob, inscribed upon their doors the words "No Popery," actually with the view of keeping in the right with all parties, and preventing the possibility of offending any by his form of worship, wrote up "No Religion at all," which announcement appeared in large characters in front of his house in Little Russell Street: the protective idea was perfectly successful.

Joseph Grimaldi, our "Joe," was born out of wedlock on the 18th of December, 1778, in Stanhope Street, Clare Market; his mother being Rebecca Brooker, who had been from her infancy a dancer at Drury Lane, and subsequently at Sadler's Wells played old women. Joe's eccentric father was then more than seventy years old; and twenty-five months afterwards was born another son, Joseph's only brother.

Our Joe Grimaldi, at the age of one year and eleven months, was brought out by his father, on the boards of Old Drury, as "the little clown," in the pantomime of Robinson Crusoe, at a salary of 15s. per week. In 1781 he first appeared at Sadler's Wells, in the arduous character of a monkey: here he remained (one season only excepted) until the termination of his professional career, forty-nine[384] years afterwards, when in his farewell address, at Sadler's Wells, he said:—"At a very early age, before that of three years, I was introduced to the public by my father, at this theatre." This is not very clear, since it would seem to contradict the statement of his having appeared at Drury Lane. During the first piece in which little Joe played at Sadler's Wells, he had nearly lost his life: in one of the scenes, the clown, his father, was swinging him as a monkey, round and round by a chain, which broke, and he was hurled a considerable distance into the pit, fortunately into the very arms of an old gentleman who was sitting gazing at the stage with intense interest.

At this time, "the little clown's" full-dress was embroidered coat and breeches, silk stockings, paste buckles, and cocked-hat; and a guinea in his pocket, which he one day gave to a distressed woman, for which act his father gave him a caning (though not till five months after), which he remembered as long as he lived. Old Grimaldi died in 1788, leaving 1,500l., but the executor becoming bankrupt, the two sons lost the whole of their fortune. Joe stuck to the stage, and at Drury Lane Mr. Sheridan raised his salary, unasked, to 1l. a-week. His leisure was now passed in breeding pigeons and collecting insects; of the latter he had a cabinet of 4,000 specimens. He now removed with his mother to Pentonville, where the house is to this day pointed out in Penton Place. About this time, early one morning, Joe found near the Tower of London a purse of gold coin and a bundle of Bank-notes, which, on his way home, he sat down to count upon the spot where now stands the Eagle Tavern, in the City Road. There were 380 guineas and 200l. in notes, making in the whole 599l. Grimaldi repeatedly advertised in the daily newspapers the finding of the money, but he never heard a syllable regarding the treasure he had so singularly acquired. His maternal grandfather, it appears, once left a purse of gold, nearly 400l., upon a post near the Royal Exchange, and found it there untouched after the lapse of nearly an hour.


Joe Grimaldi appeared, as usual, at Sadler's Wells in 1788, but at this time his salary of fifteen shillings a-week was reduced to three, on which pittance he remained for three years, making himself generally useful: in 1794, he had grown so popular at Sadler's Wells, that his salary had risen from three shillings to four pounds. In 1800, Joe married Miss Maria Hughes, eldest daughter of a proprietor and the resident manager of Sadler's Wells: she died in the same year, and was interred in the grave-yard of St. James's, Clerkenwell, where the following was inscribed on a tablet at her request:—

"Earth walks on earth like glittering gold;
Earth says to earth we are but mould;
Earth builds on earth castles and towers;
Earth says to earth all shall be ours."

On Monday, March 17th, 1828, Grimaldi took his farewell benefit at Sadler's Wells, when he delivered an address, and the whole concluded "with a brilliant display of fireworks, expressive of Grimaldi's thanks." He, however, played a short time in 1832, and then quitted the Wells finally. After this premature retirement from the stage, poor Joe lived at No. 33, Southampton Street, Pentonville, in a house which was furnished for him by his friends. At this time he frequented the coffee-room of the Marquis of Cornwallis tavern, the proprietor of which, considering his infirmity, or the loss of the use of his lower extremity, used to fetch him on his back, and take him home in the same manner. On May 31st, 1837, he was thus brought to the coffee-room and seemed quite exhilarated, his conversation, and humour, and anecdotes smacking of the vivacity of former years. He was carried home as usual; he retired to rest, and next morning was found dead in his bed. On June 5th, he was buried in the ground of St. James's Chapel, Pentonville, next to the grave of his friend, Charles Dibdin: his grave-stone states his age at fifty-eight years.


Thomas Hood wrote this touching "Ode to Joseph Grimaldi, senior," upon his retirement:—

"Joseph! they say thou'st left the stage
To toddle down the hill of life,
And taste the flannell'd ease of age
Apart from pantomimic strife.
'Retir'd' (for Young would call it so)—
'The world shut out'—in Pleasant Row.
"And hast thou really washt at last,
From each white cheek the red half-moon?
And all thy public clownship cast,
To play the private pantaloon?
All youth—all ages—yet to be,
Shall have a heavy miss of thee.
"Thou didst not preach to make us wise—
Thou hadst no finger in our schooling—
Thou didst not lure us to the skies;
Thy simple, simple trade was—Fooling!
And yet, Heav'n knows! we could—we can
Much 'better spare a better man!'

"But Joseph—everybody's Joe—
Is gone; and grieve I will and must!
As Hamlet did for Yorick, so
Will I for thee (though not yet dust):
And talk as he did when he missed
The kissing crust, that he had kiss'd!
"Ah, where is now thy rolling head!
Thy winking, reeling, drunken eyes,
(As old Catullus would have said),
Thy oven-mouth, that swallow'd pies—
Enormous hunger—monstrous drowth!
Thy pockets greedy as thy mouth!
"Ah! where thy ears so often cuff'd!
Thy funny, flapping, filching hands!
Thy partridge body always stuff'd
With waifs and strays and contrabands!
Thy foot, like Berkeley's Foote—for why?
'Twas often made to wipe an eye.


"Ah, where thy legs—that witty pair?
For 'great wits jump'—and so did they!
Lord! how they leap'd in lamp-light air!
Caper'd and bounced, and strode away.
That years should tame the legs, alack!
I've seen spring through an almanack!

"For who, like thee, could ever stride
Some dozen paces to the mile!
The motley, medley coach provide;
Or, like Joe Frankenstein, compile
The vegetable man complete!
A proper Covent Garden feat.
"Oh, who, like thee, could ever drink,
Or eat, swill, swallow—bolt, and choke!
Nod, weep, and hiccup—sneeze, and wink!
Thy very yawn was quite a joke!
Though Joseph junior acts not ill,
'There's no Fool like the old Fool' still!
"Joseph, farewell! dear, funny Joe!
We met with mirth—we part in pain!
For many a long, long year must go
Ere fun can see thy like again;
For Nature does not keep great stores
Of perfect clowns—that are not boors!"

Munden's Last Performance.

In the year 1824, one of Charles Lamb's last ties to the theatre, as a scene of present enjoyment, was severed. Munden, the rich peculiarities of whose acting he has embalmed in one of the choicest Essays of Elia, quitted the stage in the mellowness of his powers. His relish for Munden's acting was almost a new sense: he did not compare him with the old comedians, as having common qualities with them, but regarded them as altogether of a different and original style. On the last night of his appearance, Lamb was very desirous to attend, but every place in the[388] boxes had long been secured; and Charles was not strong enough to stand the tremendous rush, by enduring which, alone, he could hope to obtain a place in the pit; when Munden's gratitude for his exquisite praise anticipated his wish, by providing for him and Miss Lamb places in a corner of the orchestra, close to the stage. The play of the Poor Gentleman, in which Munden performed Sir Robert Bramble, had concluded and the audience were impatiently waiting for the farce, in which the great comedian was to delight them for the last time, when Lamb might be seen in a very novel position. In his hand, directly beneath the line of stage-lights glistened a huge pewter-pot, which he was draining; while the broad face of old Munden was seen thrust out from the door by which the musicians enter, watching the close of the draught, when he might receive and hide the portentous beaker from the gaze of the admiring neighbours. Some unknown benefactor had sent four pots of stout to keep up the veteran's heart during his last trial; and not able to drink them all, he bethought him of Lamb, and without considering the wonder which would be excited in the brilliant crowd who surrounded him, conveyed himself the cordial chalice to Lamb's parched lips. At the end of the same farce, Munden found himself unable to deliver from memory a short and elegant address which one of his sons had written for him; but provided against accidents, took it from his pocket, wiped his eyes, put on his spectacles, read it, and made his last bow. This was, perhaps, the last night when Lamb took a hearty interest in the present business scene.[40]

Munden appears to have first imbibed a taste for the stage in his admiration of the genius of Garrick. He had seen more of Garrick's acting than any of his contemporaries in 1820, Quick and Bannister excepted. Munden's style of acting was exuberant with humour. His face was all[389] changeful nature: his eye glistened and rolled, and lit up alternately every corner of his laughing face: "then the eternal tortuosities of his nose, and the alarming descent of his chin, contrasted, as it eternally was, with the portentous rise of his eyebrows."

Oddities of Dowton.

William Dowton took his farewell benefit at the Opera House, on June 8th, 1840; he was then in his seventy-ninth year—the only actor, except Macklin, who continued to wear his harness to such an advanced period. For nearly half a century he had enjoyed a first-class reputation, but it was found that, when extreme old age came upon him, he had saved no money. With the amount produced by the above benefit was purchased for him an annuity for a given number of years, on which he subsisted in ease and comfort; but, to the surprise of every one, by dint of regular habits and an iron constitution, he outlived the calculated time, and there was danger that he might be reduced to penury. He died in 1849.

Dowton, in 1836, visited the United States; but he was far too advanced in life to attract attention or draw money. He came back almost as poor as he went, but with a change in his political opinions. He entered the land of freedom a furious republican—he returned from it an ultra-Tory. He was constitutionally discontented, captious, and fretful; but, at the same time, warm-hearted and generous. His oddities were very amusing to those who were intimate with him. He would sit for hours in his dressing-room arranging and contemplating his wigs, those important accessories to his stage make-up. One of his peculiar mannerisms was never to play a part without turning his wig. When he acted Dr. Pangloss, a bet was made that there he would find his favourite manœuvre impracticable. He managed it, nevertheless. When Kenrick, the faithful old Irish servant, comes[390] in exultingly, in the last scene, to announce the long-lost Henry Moreland, he was instructed to run against Dr. Pangloss, who thus obtained the desired opportunity of disarranging his head-gear.

Dowton undervalued Edmund Kean, whose merit he never could be induced to acknowledge. When the vase was presented to that great actor, he refused to subscribe, saying, "You may cup Mr. Kean, if you please, but you sha'n't bleed me." He said, too, the cup should be given to Joe Munden for his performance of Marall. Amongst other eccentricities, Dowton fancied (a delusion common to comedians) that he could play tragedy, and never rested until he obtained an opportunity of showing the town that Edmund Kean knew nothing of Shylock. But the experiment was, as might have been expected, a total failure. The great point of novelty consisted in having a number of Jews in court, to represent his friends and partisans, during the trial scene; and in their arms he fainted, when told he was, per force, to become a Christian. The audience laughed outright, as a commentary on the actor's conception. Once he exhibited, privately, to Mr. J. W. Cole, the last scene of Sir Giles Overreach, according to his idea of the author's meaning, and a very mirthful tragedy it proved. He had a strange inverted idea that Massinger intended Sir Giles for a comic character. He also fancied that he could play Lord Ogleby, when nature, with her own hand, had daguerreotyped him for Mr. Sterling. Such are the vagaries of genius, which are equally mournful and unaccountable.


Liston as "Paul Pry."

Liston as "Paul Pry."

Liston in Tragedy.

Play-goers of the present century narrate the early seriousness of Liston, the comedian, and his subsequent turn for tragedy; which may have suggested the apocryphal biography of the actor stated to be by Charles Lamb,[41] whence the following is abridged:—

Liston was lineally descended from Johan de L'Estonne,[392] who came over with the Norman William, and had lands awarded him at Lupton Magna, in Kent. The more immediate ancestors of Mr. Liston were Puritans, and his father, Habakkuk, was an Anabaptist minister. At the age of nine, young Liston was placed under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Goodenough, whose decease was attended with these awful circumstances. It seems that the old gentleman and his pupil had been walking out together, in a fine sunset, to the distance of three-quarters of a mile west of Lupton, when a sudden curiosity took Mr. Goodenough to look down upon a chasm, where a mining shaft had been lately sunk, but soon after abandoned. The old clergyman, leaning over, either with incaution or sudden giddiness (probably a mixture of both), instantly lost his footing, and, to use Mr. Liston's phrase, disappeared, and was doubtless broken into a thousand pieces. The sound of his head &c., dashing successively upon the projecting masses of the chasm had such an effect upon the youth Liston, that a serious sickness ensued, and even for many years after his recovery, he was not once seen so much as to smile.

The joint death of both his parents, which happened not many months after this disastrous accident, and were probably (one or both of them) accelerated by it, threw our youth upon the protection of his maternal great-aunt, Mrs. Sittingbourn, whom he loved almost to reverence. To the influence of her early counsels and manners he always attributed the firmness with which, in maturer years, thrown upon a way of life commonly not the best adapted to gravity and self-retirement, he was able to maintain a serious character, untinctured with the levities incident to his profession. Ann Sittingbourn (her portrait was painted by Hudson) was stately, stiff, and tall, with a cast of features strikingly resembling those of Liston. Her estate in Kent was spacious and well-wooded; and here, in the venerable solitudes of Charnwood, amid thick shades of the oak and beech (the last his favourite tree), Liston cultivated those contemplative[393] habits which never entirely deserted him in after-years. Here he was commonly in summer months to be met, book in hand—not a play book—meditating. Boyle's Reflections was at one time his darling volume; this, in its turn, was superseded by Young's Night Thoughts, which continued its hold upon him throughout life. He carried it always about him; and it was no uncommon thing for him to be seen, in the refreshing intervals of his occupation, leaning against a side-scene, in a sort of Herbert-of-Cherbury posture, turning over a pocket edition of his favourite author.

The premature death of Mrs. Sittingbourn, occasioned by incautiously burning a pot of charcoal in her sleeping-chamber, left Liston, in his nineteenth year, nearly without resources. That the stage at all should have presented itself as an eligible scope for his talents, and in particular, that he should have chosen a line so foreign to what appears to have been his turn of mind, admits of explanation.

At Charnwood, then, we behold him thoughtful, grave, ascetic. From his cradle averse to flesh-meats and strong drink; abstemious even beyond the genius of the place; and almost in spite of the remonstrances of his great-aunt, who, though strict, was not rigid, water was his habitual drink, and his food little beyond the mast and beech-nuts of his favourite groves. It is a medical fact, that this kind of diet, however favourable to the contemplative powers of the primitive hermits, &c., is but ill adapted to the less robust minds and bodies of a later generation. Hypochondria almost constantly ensues, and young Liston was subject to sights and had visions. Those arid beech-nuts, distilled by a complexion naturally adust, mounted into a brain, already prepared to kindle by long seclusion and the fervour of strict Calvinistic notions. In the glooms of Charnwood he was assailed by illusions, similar in kind to those which are related of the famous Anthony of Padua. Wild antic faces would ever and anon protrude themselves upon his sensorium.[394] Whether he shut his eyes or kept them open, the same illusion operated. The darker and more profound were his cogitations, the droller and more whimsical became the apparitions. They buzzed about him, thick as flies, flapping at him, floating at him, hooting in his ear; yet with such comic appendages, that what at first was his bane, became at length his solace; and he desired no better society than that of his merry phantasmata. We shall presently find in what way this remarkable phenomenon influenced his future destiny.

On the death of Mrs. Sittingbourn, Liston was received into the family of Mr. Willoughby, an eminent Turkey merchant, in Birchin Lane. He was treated more like a son than a clerk, though he was nominally but the latter. Different avocations, change of scene, with alternation of business and recreation, appear to have weaned him in a short time from the hypochondriacal affections which had beset him at Charnwood. Within the next three years we find him making more than one voyage to the Levant, as chief factor for Mr. Willoughby at the Porte: he used to relate pleasant passages of his having been taken up on a suspicion of a design of penetrating the seraglio, &c.; but some of these are whimsical, and others of a romantic nature.

We will now bring him over the seas again, and suppose him in the counting-house in Birchin Lane, his factorage satisfactory, and all going on so smoothly that we may expect to find Mr. Liston at last an opulent merchant upon 'Change. But see the turns of destiny. Upon a summer's excursion into Norfolk, in the year 1801, the accidental sight of pretty Sally Parker, as she was then called (then in the Norwich company), diverted his inclinations at once from commerce, and he became stage-struck. Happily for the lovers of mirth was it that he took this turn. Shortly after, he made his début on the Norwich boards, in his twenty-second year. Having a natural bent to tragedy, he chose the part of Pyrrhus in the Distressed Mother, to Sally[395] Parker's Hermione. We find him afterwards as George Barnwell, Altamont, Chamont, &c.; but, as if nature had destined him to the sock, an unavoidable infirmity absolutely incapacitated him for tragedy. His person at this latter period was graceful and even commanding, his countenance set to gravity; he had the power of arresting the attention of an audience at first sight almost beyond any other tragic actor. But he could not hold it. To understand this obstacle, we must go back a few years to those appalling reveries at Charnwood. Those illusions, which had vanished before the dissipation of a less recluse life and more free society, now in his solitary tragic studies, and amid the intense call upon feeling incident to tragic acting, came back upon him with tenfold vividness. In the midst of some most pathetic passages—the parting of Jaffier with his dying friend, for instance—he would suddenly be surprised with a fit of violent horse-laughter. While the spectators were all sobbing before him with emotion, suddenly one of those grotesque faces would peep out upon him, and he could not resist the impulse. A timely excuse once or twice served his purpose, but no audience could be expected to bear repeatedly this violation of the continuity of feeling. He describes them (the illusions) as so many demons haunting him, and paralyzing every effort: it is said that he could not recite the famous soliloquy in Hamlet, even in private, without immoderate fits of laughter. However, what he had not force of reason sufficient to overcome, he had good sense enough to turn into emolument, and determined to make a commodity of his distemper. He prudently exchanged the buskin for the sock, and the illusions instantly ceased, or, if they occurred for a short season, by this very co-operation added a zest to his comic vein; some of his most catching faces being (as he expressed it), little more than transcripts and copies of those extraordinary phantasmata.

We have now drawn Liston to the period when he was[396] about to make his first appearance in the metropolis, as it is narrated in a clever paper in the London Magazine January, 1824. This is not referred to in the sketch of Liston's career, written a few days after his death, March 22nd, 1846, by his son-in-law, George Herbert Rodwell, the musical composer, and published in the Illustrated London News, March 28th. There we are told that Liston was born in 1776; that his father lived in Norris Street, Haymarket, and that young John was educated at Dr. Barrow's Soho School, and subsequently became second master in Archbishop Tenison's school. Rodwell relates that early in his theatrical life, Liston went, for cheapness, by sea to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and was beaten about by adverse winds for a fortnight; provisions ran so short that Liston was reduced to his last inch of dry cheese. At Newcastle, through the above delay, he was roughly received by Stephen Kemble, the manager, sitting in awful state in the centre of the stage, directing a rehearsal. Kemble eyed him several times before he spoke; at last he growled out, "Well, young man, you are come." Mr. Liston bowed. "Then now you may go back again! You have broken your engagement by being too late."—"It's very easy to say go back," replied Liston, with one of his peculiar looks, "but here I am, and here I must stay, for I have not a farthing left in the world." Kemble relented, and Liston remained at Newcastle until he came to London for good.

The first comic part he performed was Diggory, in She Stoops to Conquer. He took a great fancy to the character, and kept secret his intentions as to the manner he meant to play it in, and the style of dress he should wear. When he came on, so original was his whole conception of the thing, that not an actor on the stage could speak for laughing. When he came off, Mr. Kemble said:—"Young man, it strikes me you have mistaken your forte: there's something comic about you."—"I've not mistaken my forte," replied Liston, "but you never before allowed me to try; I don't[397] think myself I was made for the heavy Barons!" He first appeared in London, as Sheepface, in the Village Lawyer, June 10th, 1805. "That Mr. Liston did really imagine he could be a tragic actor," says Rodwell, "is partly borne out by his actually having attempted Octavian, in the Mountaineers, May 17th, 1809."

When Liston first appeared on the stage is not accurately known. The following early note from a manager of the time is undated:—"Sir, your not favouring Me with an answr Relative to the I-dea of the Cast, I, at random (tho' very ill), Scratch'd Out, Makes it Necessary for Me to have your Opinion, in Order to Prevent Aney Mistake.—I am, Sir, with every Good Wish, yours, &c.,"

"Tate Wilkinson."

When Liston first came to London, he generally wore a pea-green coat, and was everywhere accompanied by an ugly little pug-dog. This pug-dog, like his master, soon made himself a favourite, go where he would, and seemed exceedingly proud that he could make almost as many laugh as could his master. The pug-dog acted as Mr. Liston's avant-courier, always trotting on before, to announce his friend and master. The frequenters of the Orange Coffee-house, Cockspur Street, where Liston resided, used to say, laughing, "Oh, Liston will be here in a moment, for here is his beautiful pug."

Latterly he went little into society. His attention to his religious duties was always marked by devout sincerity; his knowledge of the Scriptures was very extensive.


Edmund Kean as Richard the Third.

Edmund Kean as Richard the Third.

Boyhood of Edmund Kean.

Many years ago, there appeared in the New Monthly Magazine the following account of Kean's early days:—"I saw young Edmund Carey (Kean) first in April, 1796. I am particularly positive both to month and year, because I met Mrs. Carey and the boys (Darnley was the other reputed son by another father; this actor was for many[399] years at Astley's Amphitheatre, and is now living) on the morning of the day on which Ireland's pretended Shakesperian drama was performed. Edmund was always little, slight, but not young-looking; I should say he was then ten years of age! The following September he played Tom Thumb at Bartholomew Fair at a public-house; his mother played Queen Dollalolla; he had a good voice, and was a pretty boy, but unquestionably more like a Jew than a Christian child. Old Richardson, the showman, engaged him then and subsequently, and is living to vouch for the fact, as far as eyesight goes, that in 1796, Kean looked more like a child of ten or twelve than of six years. This of course puts an end to the possibility of his having been born in the year 1790. I cannot vouch as to the truth of the oft-repeated story of the dance of devils in Macbeth, and his rejoinder to John Kemble, who found fault with him, that 'he (Kean) had never appeared in tragedy before;' but if it did occur, it must have been in 1794; for Garrick's Drury was pulled down to be rebuilt in 1791, and the new theatre commenced dramatic performances with Macbeth. Many novelties of arrangement were attempted, the dance in question among the rest. Charles Kemble made his first appearance as Malcolm that very night, and the audience laughed very heartily when he exclaimed, 'Oh! by whom?' on hearing the account of his father's murder. Charles Kemble was then said to be eighteen; I think he was more. If Kean was one of the dancing devils, he could have been only three years and five months old; that is, taking his own account of being born in November, 1790.

"Kean broke his leg when a boy, riding an act of horsemanship at Bartholomew Fair; and he was often, towards the years 1802, 3, 4, and 5, about different parts of the country, spouting, riding, or rope-dancing. The last time I saw him, previous to his 'great hit,' was at Sadler's Wells; he was in front to see Belzoni (afterwards known as the great traveller), who gave a pantomimic performance (such[400] as Ducrow since attempted) illustrative of the passions of Lebrun; Belzoni was superior to anything I ever beheld, and I am not solitary in that opinion. Ella, the harlequin, and Belzoni were together at the old Royalty Theatre; and Belzoni's brother was also there. The great and enterprising traveller was retained as a posturer at 2l. per week!"

About 1800, at the Rolls Rooms, Chancery Lane, young Kean, then described as "the infant prodigy, Master Carey," gave readings, and read the whole of Shakspeare's Merchant of Venice. All who knew Kean intimately as a boy, declared that he was then a splendid actor, and that many of his effects, at the age of fourteen, were quite as startling as any of his more mature performances. Byron, who was then much in theatrical society, says, "Kean began by acting Richard the Third, when quite a boy, and gave all the promise of what he afterwards became."

A Mysterious Parcel.

Mr. Bunn, when Lessee of Drury Lane Theatre, experienced the following odd circumstance, which he describes, as curious as any that has been or can be recited:—On reaching the theatre on Tuesday evening, March 12th, 1839, he found on his desk a very small brown paper parcel, addressed "To A. Bunn, Esq.," looking very dirty, and very suspicious, and weighing wherewithal sufficiently heavy as to increase such suspicion. The town had at that moment been partly astonished and partly amused by "Madame Vestris's Infernal Machine," and the narrow escape the person had who first opened it. Having no desire for any similar experiment, Mr. Bunn hesitated in unfolding this mysterious packet, more particularly when his messenger described the dingy-looking fellow that left it at the stage-door, with an injunction that it was "to be delivered into Mr. Bunn's own hands." However, overcoming any apprehensions of gunpowder, and setting whatever of the combustible[401] it might contain to the amount of a mere squib, he sent for his under-treasurer, and in his presence opened some half-dozen pieces of paper, each tightly bound by some half-dozen pieces of string, and inside the last he found:—

 32 Sovereigns  £32 0 0
 10 Half-sovereigns  5 0 0
 13 Half-crowns  1 12 6
 27 Shillings  1 7 0
  1 Sixpence  0 06
 £40 0 0

"I began to think," says Bunn, "that this was the contribution of some eccentric supporter of Drury Lane, anxious to reward its manager's exertions, yet, with a rooted modesty, anxious to conceal his name; but such an occurrence was so totally without precedent, that I gave up that conjecture in utter hopelessness. Then I bethought me of more than one performer who had literally robbed me to such an extent; and pondered over the probability of this being a return thereof, arising out of a touch of conscience; but as what little consciences most of them have got are very seldom touched, I abandoned that surmise with even a greater degree of despair than I first of all entertained it. By whom was it sent, or for whom was it sent, I am totally unable to tell; it was added to the general receipt of the exchequer, for the benefit of all those having any claim on it, though the chances are it was forwarded for my own individual advantage. The donor is hereby thanked, be he or she whoever he or she may; and I can only say, if many more had made their appearance, the disasters of Drury Lane Theatre would have been obviated or provided against. Now, is not a manager's life an odd life, and are not the people he has to deal with a very odd set of people? and if he should do odd things, can no excuse be found for him by your pickers and stealers, and evil speakers, and liars,[402] and slanderers? I can only say, if there is none, there should be."

Among the droll stories told by Mr. Bunn, in his caustic book, The Stage, is this:—In 1824, when the question of erecting a monument to Shakespeare, in his native town, was agitated by Mr. Mathews and Mr. Bunn, the King (George IV.) took a lively interest in the matter, and, considering that the leading people of both the patent theatres should be consulted, directed Sir Charles Long, Sir George Beaumont, and Sir Francis Freeling to ascertain Mr. Elliston's sentiments on the subject. As soon as these distinguished individuals (who had come direct from, and were going direct back to the Palace) had delivered themselves of their mission, Elliston replied, "Very well, gentlemen, leave the papers with me, and I will talk over the business with his Majesty."

Masquerade Incident.

When the Rev. Mr. Venables was at St. Petersburg, in 1834, he received the following narrative of a strange and startling incident at a masquerade in the above capital:—At Christmas, 1834, a ball was given at a house at St. Petersburg, and candles were placed in the windows of the house, as a well-understood signal that masks might enter without special invitation. Several masks arrived in the course of the evening, stayed but a short time, as is usual, and departed.

At length a party entered dressed as Chinese, and bearing on a palanquin a person whom they called their chief, saying that it was his fête-day. They set him down very respectfully in the middle of the room, and commenced dancing what they called their national dance around him. When this was concluded, they separated and mingled with the general company, speaking French fluently (the universal language at a Russian masquerade), and making themselves[403] extremely agreeable. After awhile they began gradually to disappear unnoticed, slipping out of the room one or two at a time. At last they were all gone, but their chief still remained sitting motionless in dignified silence in his palanquin in the middle of the room. The ball began to thin, and the attention of those who remained was wholly drawn to the silent figure of the Chinese mask.

The master of the house at length went up to him, and told him that his companions were all gone; politely begging him at the same time to take off his mask, that he and his guests might know to whom they were indebted for all the pleasure which the exhibition had afforded them. The Chinaman, however, gave no reply by word or sign, and a feeling of uneasy curiosity gradually drew around him by the guests who remained in the ball-room. He still took no notice of all that was passing around him, and the master of the house at length, with his own hand, took off the mask, and discovered to the horrified by-standers the face of a corpse.

The police were immediately sent for, and on a surgical examination of the body, it appeared to be that of a man who had been strangled a few hours before. Nothing could be discovered, either at the time or afterwards, which could lead to the identifying of the dead man, or to the discovery of the actors in this extraordinary scene, and no clue has ever been obtained. It was found on inquiry that they arrived at the house where they deposited the dead body in a handsome equipage with masked servants.

This horrible story was stated to Mr. Venables, by General Bontourlin, to be a well-known and undoubted fact. The body was never identified, but was supposed to be that of the victim of a murder arising out of a gambling transaction. The acuteness of the police would seem to have been at fault; or, more probably, the proper use of the proper amount of roubles suppressed inconvenient discoveries.


T. P. Cooke in "Black-Eyed Susan."

T. P. Cooke in "Black-Eyed Susan."

Mr. T. P. Cooke in Melodrama and Pantomime.

During the Christmas of 1810 or 1811, Mr. T. P. Cooke was a member of the Theatre Royal, Dublin, which could boast of a company including the names of Miss O'Neil, afterwards Lady Beecher, then in her teens; Miss Walstein,[405] Messrs. Conway, Farren, and others of histrionic fame. Sir Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake had been published on the 10th of May, 1810, and the critics of the day had pronounced it to be "the most interesting, romantic, picturesque, and graceful" of the author's poems. Managers were anxious to produce a version of the Lady of the Lake upon the stage, and no one was more prompt in bringing one forward than the lessee of the Theatre Royal, Dublin. The cast was powerful. Misses O'Neil and Walstein were the representatives of the chieftain's daughter, Ellen Douglas, and the crazed and captive lowland maid, Blanche of Devon; Malcolm Græme was well acted; Conway looked the Knight of Snowdon, James Fitzjames, to the life; and T. P. Cooke appeared to the greatest advantage as Roderick Vick Alpine Roderick Dhu. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the scenery; and the drama created a furore among the warm-hearted Emeralders. As the manager acted upon the principle of not "keeping more cats than could kill mice," the services of some of his dramatic performers were pressed into afterpieces; and, as the pantomime of Harlequin and Mother Goose had made a great sensation in London, it was brought out in the capital of the sister isle—T. P. Cooke doffing his picturesque Highland costume for that of Squire Bugle, afterwards Clown. No one that had seen the noble bearing of Vick Alpine in the mountain pass, exclaiming:—

"These are Clan-Alpine's warriors true;
And, Saxon, I am Roderick Dhu,"

would have recognized the same being when equipped in the loose hunting-dress of the Squire or the grotesque garb of the Clown. The pantomime went off well, and, although T. P. Cooke wanted the fun of Grimaldi, he, by the aid of youth and great agility, bustled through the part most satisfactorily.

At the termination of the performance, which had been honoured by the presence of the Lord-Lieutenant, Charles,[406] fourth Duke of Richmond, the Duchess, and her then young and numerous family, the Duke was persuaded by two of his sons, Lords William and Frederick—then Westminster boys—to go behind the scenes to look at the wonderful goose. The manager, wax-candles in hand, after the most approved manner of receiving illustrious guests, conducted the Duke, his two sons, and a young daughter to the stage and green-room, and the pantomimic tricks were duly displayed by the attentive property-man, who explained to the young noblemen the mysteries of the world behind the curtain: how the transformation-scene was managed; how the sprites descended and ascended through the "traps;" how the nimble Harlequin, the active Clown, and the "slippered Pantaloon" were caught in blankets after their wonderful leaps through clock-dials, shop-windows, picture-frames, and looking-glasses; how the smallest of boys was introduced into a sham goose's skin; how a few daubs of paint, some gold and silver leaf, and green tinsel, produced the splendid fairy scene; how some spangles sewn on a coarse parti-coloured suit made Harlequin appear glittering like gold; how a white calico garb, with a few quaint red and blue devices, some chalk and red paint, could change the "human face divine" to that of a mask. After inspecting everything worthy of note behind the scenes, the Duke and his family proceeded to their carriage, when, at the entrance to the green-room, they met the Clown, who had remained behind to arrange some stage-business with the Harlequin. "I forget his name," said the Duke, who, although he patronized the drama, did not take especial interest in the performance. "Cooke," responded the manager. "I congratulate you, Mr. Cooke," said his Grace. "I've seen Grimaldi in the part, and am delighted with your performance." Cooke bowed his acknowledgments. "Pray," continued the Lord-Lieutenant, "is Mr. T. P. Cooke, who looked so well and acted Roderick Vick Alpine with such spirit, any relation of yours?"—"A very near one," responded[407] the actor. "He stands before you; for, Saxon, I am Roderick Dhu!" The Duke smiled, shook hands with him, declaring he had never witnessed such a wonderful metamorphose.

"Romeo and Juliet" in America.

Miss Fanny Kemble, in her clever record of her experiences in the United States, relates the following, which occurred in one of her provincial engagements. The play was Romeo and Juliet. "My Romeo," says Miss Kemble, "had gotten on a pair of trunk-breeches, which looked as if he had borrowed them of some worthy Dutchman a hundred years ago. Had he worn them in New York, I could have understood it as a compliment to the ancestry of that good city; but here to adopt such a costume in Romeo was perfectly unaccountable. They were of a most unhappy choice of colour, too—dull, heavy-looking blue cloth, and offensive crimson satin, all bepuckered, and beplaited, and bepuffed, till the young man looked like a magical figure growing out of a monstrous, strange-coloured melon, beneath which descended his unfortunate legs, thrust into a pair of red slippers, for all the world like Grimaldi's legs en costume for Clown. The play went off pretty smoothly, except that they broke one man's collar-bone and nearly dislocated a woman's shoulder, by flinging the scenery about. My bed was not made in time, and when the scene drew, half-a-dozen carpenters, in patched trousers and tattered shirt-sleeves, were discovered smoothing down my pillows and adjusting my draperies. The last scene is too good not to be given verbatim:—

"Romeo. Rise, rise, my Juliet,
And from this cave of death, this house of horror,
Quick let me snatch thee to thy Romeo's arms."

Here he pounced upon me, plucked me up in his arms[408] like an uncomfortable bundle, and staggered down the stage with me.

"Juliet (aside). Oh! you've got me up horribly! That'll never do. Do let me down, pray let me down.

Romeo. There, breathe a vital spirit on thy lips,
And call thee back, my soul, to life and love.

Juliet (aside). Pray put me down; you'll certainly throw me down, if you don't set me on the ground directly."

In the midst of "Cruel, cursed fate," his dagger fell out of his dress; I, embracing him tenderly, crammed it back again, because I knew I should want it again in the end.

"Romeo. Tear not our heart-strings thus!
They crack! they break! Juliet! Juliet!


Juliet (to Corpse). Am I smothering you?

Corpse (to Juliet). Not at all. Could you be so kind, do you think, as to put my wig on again for me? It has fallen off.

Juliet (to Corpse). I'm afraid I can't; but I'll throw my muslin veil over it. You've broken the phial, haven't you?

[Corpse nodded.]

Juliet (to Corpse). Where's your dagger?

Corpse (to Juliet). 'Pon my soul, I don't know."

The Mulberries, a Shakspearian Club.

At the thirty-fourth Anniversary of the Shakspeare Club, at Stratford-on-Avon, on April 23rd, 1858, the President, Mr. Buckstone, of the Haymarket Theatre, related, with much humour, the following interesting account of the above Shakspearian Club:—

"On emerging from boyhood, and while yet a young actor, I was one of the first members of a Shakspearian club, called The Mulberries. It was not then a very prominent one, as its meetings were held at a certain house of entertainment in Vinegar Yard, Drury Lane. The club assembled there once a week; they dined together on Shakespeare's birthday; and in the mulberry season there was another dinner and a mulberry feast, at which the[409] chairman sat enthroned under a canopy of mulberry branches, with the fruit on them; Shakspearian songs were sung; members read original papers or poems relating only to Shakspeare; and as many artists belonged to this club, they exhibited sketches of some event connected with our poet's life; and some had the honour of submitting a paper to be read, called 'Shakespeare's Drinking-bout,' an imaginary story, illustrating the traditionary event, when the chivalry of Stratford went forth to carouse with

"Piping Pebworth, dancing Marston,
Haunted Hilborough, hungry Grafton,
Dudging Exhall, papist Wicksford,
Beggarly Broom, and drunken Bidford."

All these papers and pictures were collected together in a book, called Mulberry Leaves; and you will believe me, that in spite of our lowly place of meeting, the club was not intellectually insignificant, when amongst its members, then in their youth, were Douglas Jerrold, Laman Blanchard, the Landseers (Charles and Thomas), Frank Stone, Cattermole, Robert Keeley, Kenny Meadows, and subsequently, though at another and more important place of meeting, Macready, Talfourd (the judge), Charles Dickens, John Forster, and many other celebrities. You will very naturally wish to know what became of this club. Death thinned the number of its members; important pursuits in life took some one way and some another; and, after twenty years of much enjoyment, the club ceased to exist, and the Mulberry Leaves disappeared, no one ever knew whither.

From Mr. Blanchard Jerrold's Life of his Father we learn that William Elton, the Shakspearian actor, was a member of the Mulberries, as were also William Godwin, and Edward Chatfield the artist. The contributions fell into Mr. Elton's hands, and are now in the possession of his family. The leaves were to have been published; but the club dead, it was nobody's business to see them through the press, and to this hour they remain in manuscript. Of the club itself it is[410] said: "Respectability killed it. Sumptuous quarters were sought; Shakspeare was to be admired in a most elegant manner—to be edited specially for the club by the author of The Book of Etiquette. But the new atmosphere had not the vigour of the old, and so, after a long struggle, all the Mulberries fell from the old tree, and now it is a green memory only to a few old members. Douglas Jerrold always turned fondly to these Shakspearian days, and he loved to sing the old song he wrote for the Mulberries, in that soft, sweet voice which all his friends remember:

"And thus our moral food
Doth Shakspeare leaven still,
Enriching all the good.
And less'ning all the ill;—
Thus, by his bounty, shed
Like balm from angel's wing,
Though winter scathe our head,
Our spirits dance with spring."

Colley Cibber's Daughter.

This unfortunate person was the youngest child of Colley Cibber, and married a singer named Charke: there seems to have been a touch of insanity, certainly there was no power of self-control, in this poor woman. From her childhood she had been wild, wayward, and rebellious; self-taught, as a boy might be, and with nothing feminine in her character or pursuits. With self-assertion, too, she was weak enough to be won by a knave with a sweet voice, whose cruel treatment drove his intractable wife to the stage, where she failed to profit by her fine opportunities. Mrs. Charke loved to play male characters; and of the many, that of Plume was her favourite. At the Haymarket Theatre, in 1745, she played Captain Macheath, and other masculine parts, before she attempted to pass herself off upon the world, or hide herself from it, as a man.

Dr. Doran, in his amusing book, Their Majesties'[411] Servants, writing of the year 1757, that of Colley Cibber's death says: "While the body of the poet Laureate was being carried to Westminster Abbey, there was up away in a hut in then desolate Clerkenwell, and starving, Colley's only daughter, Charlotte Charke. Seven-and-twenty years[412] before, she had just come upon the stage, after a stormy girlhood; and she had a mania for appearing in male characters on, and in male attire off, the stage. By some terrible offence she forfeited the recognition of her father, who was otherwise of a benevolent disposition; and friendless, she fought a series of battles with the world, and came off in all more and more damaged. She starved with strollers, failed as a grocer in Long Acre, became bankrupt as a puppet-show proprietor in James Street, Haymarket; re-married, became a widow a second time, was plunged into deeper ruin, thrown into prison for debt, and released only by the subscriptions of the lowest, but not least charitable, sisterhood of Drury Lane. Assuming male attire, she hung about the theatres for casual hire, went on tramp with itinerants, hungered daily, and was weekly cheated, but yet kept up such an appearance that an heiress fell in love with her, who was reduced to despair when Charlotte Charke revealed her story and abandoned the place. Her next post was that of a valet to an Irish Lord; forfeiting which she and her child became sausage-makers, but could not obtain a living; and then Charlotte Charke cried, 'Coming, coming, sir,' as a waiter at the King's Head Tavern, Marylebone. Thence she was drawn by an offer to make her manager of a company of strolling players, with whom she enjoyed more appetite than means to appease it. She endured sharp distress again and again; but was relieved by an uncle, who furnished her with funds, with which she opened a tavern in Drury Lane, where, after a brief career of success, she again became bankrupt. To the regular stage she once more returned, under her brother, Theophilus, at the Haymarket: but the Lord Chamberlain closed the house, and Charlotte Charke took to working the wires of Russell's famous puppets in the Great Room, still existing in Brewer Street. There was a gleam of good fortune for her, but it soon faded away; and then for nine wretched years this clever but most wretched of women[413] struggled frantically for bare existence, amongst the most wretched of strollers, with whom she endured unmitigated misery. And yet, Cibber's erring and hapless daughter contrived to reach London, where, in 1755, she published her remarkable autobiography, the details of which make the heart ache, in spite of the small sympathy of the reader for this half-mad creature. On the profits of this book, she was enabled to open, as landlord, a tavern at Islington; but of course, ruin ensued; and in a hut, amid the cinder-heaps and worse refuse, in the desolate fields, she found a refuge, and even wrote a novel on a pair of bellows in her lap, by way of desk. Here she lived with a squalid hand-maiden, a cat, dog, magpie, and monkey. Humbled, disconsolate, abandoned, she readily accepted from a publisher who visited her 10l. for her manuscript. This was at the close of the year 1755, and I do not meet with her again till 1759, two years after her father's death, when she played Marplot in The Busy Body, for her own benefit at the Haymarket, with this advertisement: 'As I am entirely dependent on chance for a subsistence, and desirous of getting into business, I humbly hope the town will favour me on the occasion, which, added to the rest of their indulgences, will be ever gratefully acknowledged by their truly obliged and obedient servant, Charlotte Charke.' She died on the 6th of April, 1760."

Charlotte Charke. After Boitard.

Charlotte Charke. After Boitard.

She "is said to have once given imitations of her father on the stage; to have presented a pistol at, and robbed him on the highway, and to have smeared his face with a pair of soles out of her own basket."

An Eccentric Love-Passage.

Captain Gronow relates that Mr. Bradshaw, M.P. for Canterbury, "fell in love" with Maria Tree: hearing that the lady had taken a place in the Birmingham mail, he booked the rest for himself in the name of Tomkins, and[414] resolved to make the most of the opportunity afforded him. Unfortunately, his luggage and Miss Tree went by one mail, while Mr. Bradshaw through a mistake travelled by another. On arriving at Birmingham early in the morning, he left the coach and stepped into the hotel, determined to remain there, and go to the theatre on the following evening. He went to bed and slept late the following day; and on waking he remembered that his trunk with all his money had gone on to Manchester, and that he was without the means of paying his way. Seeing the Bank of Birmingham opposite the hotel, he went over and explained his position to one of the partners, giving his own banker's address in London, and showing letters addressed to him as Mr. Bradshaw. Upon this he was told that with such credentials he might have a loan; and the banker said he would write the necessary letter and cheque, and send the money over to him at the hotel. Mr. Bradshaw, pleased with this kind attention, sat himself down comfortably to breakfast in the coffee-room. According to promise, the cashier made his appearance at the hotel, and asked the waiter for Mr. Bradshaw. "No such gentleman here," was the reply.—"Oh, yes, he came by the London mail."—"No, sir; no one came but Mr. Tomkins, who was booked as inside passenger to Manchester." The cashier was dissatisfied; but the waiter added, "Sir, you can look through the window of the coffee-room door, and see the gentleman yourself." On doing so he beheld the Mr. Tomkins, alias Mr. Bradshaw, and immediately returned to the Bank, telling what he himself had heard and seen. The banker went over to the hotel, had a consultation with the landlord, and it was determined that a watch should be placed upon the suspicious person who had two names and no luggage, and who was booked to Manchester but had stopped at Birmingham. The landlord summoned boots—a little lame fellow of most ludicrous appearance—and pointing to the gentleman in the coffee-room, told him his duty for the day was to follow him wherever he went,[415] and never to lose sight of him; but above all to take care that he did not get away. Boots nodded assent, and immediately mounted guard. Mr. Bradshaw having taken his breakfast and read the papers, looked at his watch and sallied forth to see something of the goodly town of Birmingham. He was much surprised at observing a little odd-looking man surveying him most attentively, and watching his every movement; stopping whenever he stopped, and evidently taking a deep interest in all he did. At last, observing that he was the object of this incessant espionnage, and finding that he had a shilling left in his pocket, he hailed one of the coaches that ran short distances in those days when omnibuses were not. This, however, did not suit little Boots, who went up to him and insisted that he must not leave the town. Mr. Bradshaw's indignation was naturally excessive, and he immediately returned to the hotel, where he found a constable ready to take him before the mayor as an impostor and swindler. He was compelled to appear before his worship and had the mortification of being told that unless he could give some explanation he must be content with a night's lodging in a house of detention. Mr. Bradshaw had no alternative but to send to the fair charmer of his heart to identify him; which she most readily did as soon as rehearsal was over. Explanations were then entered into; but he was forced to give the reason of his being in Birmingham, which of course made a due impression on the lady's heart, and led to that happy result of their interviews—a marriage which resulted in the enjoyment of mutual happiness for many years.

True to the Text.

A curious instance of this occurred many years ago, at the termination of the tragedy of Richard the Third. Mr. Elliston was enacting the part of Richmond; and having, during the evening, disobeyed the injunction which the[416] King of Denmark lays down to the Queen, "Gertrude, do not drink," he accosted Mr. Powell, who was personating Lord Stanley (for the safety of whose son Richmond is naturally anxious), THUS, on his entry, after the issue of the battle:—

Elliston (as Richmond). Your son, George Stanley, is he dead?

Powell (as Lord Stanley). He is, my Lord, and safe in Leicester town!

Elliston (as Richmond). I mean—ah!—is he missing?

Powell (as Lord Stanley). He is, my Lord, and safe in Leicester town!!

And it is but justice to the memory of this punctilious veteran, to say that he would have made the same reply to any question which could, at that particular moment, have been put to him.

Floral design



Monk Lewis.

Monk Lewis.

Monk Lewis

"Hail! wonder-working Lewis."

THIS early lover of rhymes and numbers, and "flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar," was, in his boyhood, more remarkable for his love[418] of theatrical exhibitions than for his love of learning. He read books on Witchcraft when a child, and published his marvellous story of the Monk when in his twenty-second year; it contains his best poetry as well as prose. In the midst of this celebrity, being one autumn on his way to a fashionable watering-place, he stayed a night in a country-town and witnessed a performance by a company of strolling players. Among them was a young actress, whose benefit was on the tapis, and who, hearing of the arrival of a person so talked of as Monk Lewis, waited upon him at the inn to request the very trifling favour of an original piece from his pen. The lady pleaded in terms that urged the spirit of benevolence to advocate her cause in a heart never closed to such an appeal. Lewis had by him at that time an unpublished trifle, called The Hindoo Bride, in which a widow was immolated on the funeral pile of her husband. The subject was one well suited to attract a country audience, and he determined thus to appropriate the drama. The delighted suppliant departed all joy and gratitude at being requested to call for the manuscript the next day. Lewis, however, soon discovered that he had been reckoning without his host, for, on searching his travelling-desk, which contained many of his papers, the Bride was nowhere to be found, having, in fact, been left behind in town. Exceedingly annoyed by this circumstance, which there was no time to remedy, the dramatist took a pondering stroll in the rural environs, when a sudden shower compelled him to take refuge in a huckster's shop, where he overheard, in the adjoining apartment, two voices in earnest conversation, and in one of them recognized that of his theatrical petitioner of the morning, apparently replying to the feeble tones of age and infirmity. "There now, mother, always that old story—when I've brought such good news, too—after I've had the face to call on Mr. Monk Lewis, and found him so different to what I expected; so good-humoured, so affable, and willing to[419] assist me. I did not say a word about you, mother; for though in some respects it might have done good, I thought it would seem like a begging affair, so I merely represented my late ill-success, and he promised to give me an original drama which he had with him for my benefit. I hope he did not think me too bold." "I hope not, Jane," replied the feeble voice; "only don't do these things again without consulting me; for you don't know the world, and it may be thought——" The sun then just gave a broad hint that the shower had ceased, and the sympathizing author returned to his inn, and having penned the following letter, ordered post-horses and despatched a porter to the young actress with this epistle:—

"Madame,—I am truly sorry to acquaint you that my Hindoo Bride has behaved most improperly—in fact, whether the lady has eloped or not, it seems she does not choose to make her appearance either for your benefit or mine; and to say the truth, I don't at this moment know where to find her. I take the liberty to jest upon the subject, because I really do not think you will have any cause to regret her non-appearance; having had an opportunity of witnessing your very admirable performance of a far superior character, in a style true to nature, and which reflects upon you the highest credit. I allude to a most interesting scene in which you lately sustained the character of 'The Daughter.' Brides of all denominations but too often prove their empire delusive; but the character you have chosen will improve upon every representation, both in the estimation of the public and the satisfaction of your own excellent heart. For the infinite gratification I have received, I must long consider myself in your debt. Trusting you will permit the enclosed (fifty pounds) in some measure to discharge the same, I remain, Madame (with sentiments of respect and admiration), your sincere well-wisher,"

"M. G. Lewis."

Lewis, it should be explained, was well supplied with[420] money, his father holding a lucrative post in the War Office, and being owner of extensive West Indian possessions. In 1798, Scott (afterwards Sir Walter) met young Lewis in Edinburgh, and so humble were then his own aspirations, and so brilliant the reputation of The Monk, that he declared, thirty years afterwards, he never felt so elated as when Lewis asked him to dine with him at his hotel. Lewis schooled the great poet on his incorrect rhyme, and proved himself, as Scott says, "a martinet in the accuracy of rhymes and numbers." Sir Walter has recorded that Lewis was fonder of great people than he ought to have been, either as a man of talent or a man of fashion. "He had always," he says, "dukes or duchesses in his mouth, and was pathetically fond of any one who had a title; you would have sworn he had been a parvenu of yesterday; yet he had lived all his life in good society." And Scott regarded Lewis with no small affection.

Of this weakness, Lord Byron relates an amusing instance: "Lewis, at Oatlands, was observed one morning to have his eyes red and his air sentimental; being asked why, he replied, that when people said anything kind to him, it affected him deeply, 'and just now, the Duchess (of York) has said something so kind to me, that—' here tears began to flow. 'Never mind, Lewis,' said Colonel Armstrong to him, 'never mind—don't cry—she could not mean it!'"

Lewis was of extremely diminutive stature. "I remember a picture of him," says Scott, "by Saunders, being handed round at Dalkeith House. The artist had ingeniously flung a dark folding mantle around his form, under which was half hid a dagger, a dark-lantern, or some such cut-throat appurtenance. With all this the features were preserved and ennobled. It passed from hand to hand into that of Henry, Duke of Buccleuch, who, hearing the general voice affirm that it was very like, said aloud,[421] 'Like Mat. Lewis! why, that picture's like a man!' He looked, and lo! Mat. Lewis was at his elbow. This boyishness went through life with him. He was a child, and a spoiled child—but a child of high imagination, and he wasted himself on ghost-stories and German romances. He had the finest ear for the rhythm of verse I ever met with—finer than Byron's."

The death of Lewis's father made the poet a man of independent fortune. He succeeded to considerable plantations in the West Indies, besides a large sum of money; and in order to ascertain personally the condition of the slaves on his estate, he sailed for the West Indies in 1815. Of this voyage he wrote a narrative, which was published many years after, under the title of the Journal of a West India Proprietor. The manner in which the negroes received him on his arrival amongst them, he thus describes:—"As soon as the carriage entered my gates, the uproar and confusion which ensued sets all description at defiance; the works were instantly all abandoned, everything that had life came flocking to the house from all quarters, and not only the men, and the women, and the children, but 'by a bland assimilation,' the hogs, and the dogs, and the geese, and the fowls, and the turkeys, all came hurrying along by instinct, to see what could possibly be the matter, and seemed to be afraid of arriving too late. Whether the pleasure of the negroes was sincere may be doubted, but certainly it was the loudest that I ever witnessed. They all talked together, sang, danced, shouted, and in the violence of their gesticulations, tumbled over each other and rolled about on the ground. Twenty voices at once inquired after uncles and aunts, and grandfathers and great-grandmothers of mine, who had been buried long before I was in existence, and whom, I verily believe, most of them knew only by tradition. One woman held up her little naked black child to me, grinning from ear to ear: 'Look,[422] massa! look here! him nice lily neger for massa!' Another complained—'So long since come see we, massa; good massa come at last.' As for the old people, they were all in one and the same story; now they had lived once to see massa, they were ready for dying to-morrow—'them no care.'

"The shouts, the gaiety, the wild laughter, their strange and sudden bursts of singing and dancing, and several old women wrapped up in large cloaks, their heads bound round with different-coloured handkerchiefs, leaning on a staff, and standing motionless in the middle of the hubbub, with their eyes fixed upon the portico which I occupied, formed an exact counterpart of the festivity of the witches in Macbeth. Nothing could be more odd or more novel than the whole scene; yet there was something in it truly affecting."

In his Journal, Lewis tells us the following odd shark story:—"While lying in Black River Harbour, Jamaica, two sharks were frequently seen playing about the ship. At length, the female was killed, and the desolation of the male was excessive. What he did without her remains a secret, but what he did with her was clear enough; for scarce was the breath out of his Eurydice's body, when he stuck his teeth in her, and began to eat her up with all possible expedition. Even the sailors felt their sensibility excited by so peculiar a mark of posthumous attachment; and to enable him to perform this melancholy duty more easily, they offered to be his carvers, lowered their boat, and proceeded to chop his better half in pieces with their hatchets; while the widower opened his jaws as wide as possible, and gulped down pounds upon pounds of the dear departed, as fast as they were thrown to him, with the greatest delight, and all the avidity imaginable. I make no doubt that all the time he was eating, he was thoroughly persuaded that every morsel that went into his stomach would make its way to his heart directly! 'She was perfectly consistent,' he said to himself; 'she was excellent through life, and really she's extremely good now she's dead!' And then,


"'Unable to conceal his pain,
He sigh'd and swallow'd, and sigh'd and swallow'd,
And sigh'd and swallow'd again.'

"I doubt whether the annals of Hymen can produce a similar instance of post-obitual affection. Nor do I recollect any fact at all resembling it, except, perhaps, a circumstance which is recorded respecting Cambletes, king of Lydia, a monarch equally remarkable for his voracity and uxoriousness, and who ate up his queen without being conscious of it."

Lewis, in reading Don Quixote, was greatly pleased with this instance of the hero's politeness. The Princess Micomicona having fallen into a most egregious blunder, he never so much as hints a suspicion of her not having acted precisely as she had stated, but only begs to know her reason for taking a step so extraordinary. "But pray, madam," says he, "why did your ladyship land at Ossima, seeing that it is not a seaport town?"

One of Lewis's great hits was the ballad of Crazy Jane, which was found in the handwriting of the author among his papers. The ballad was wedded to music by several composers; but the original and most popular melody was by Miss Abrams, who sung it herself at fashionable parties. After the usual complimentary tributes from barrel-organs, and wandering damsels of every degree of vocal ability, it crowned not only the author's brow with laurels, but also that of many a youthful beauty in the shape of a Crazy Jane hat.

The Castle Spectre was Lewis's greatest dramatic success. Its terrors were not confined to Drury Lane Theatre, but, as the following anecdote shows, on one occasion they even extended considerably beyond it. Mrs. Powell, who played Evelina, having become, from the number of representations, heartily tired and wearied with the character, one evening, on returning from the theatre, walked listlessly into a drawing room, and throwing herself into a seat, exclaimed, "Oh![424] this ghost! this ghost! Heavens! how this ghost torments me!"

"Ma'am!" uttered a tremulous voice from the other side of the table.

Mrs. Powell looked up hastily. "Sir!" she reiterated in nearly the same tone, as she encountered the pale countenance of a very sober-looking gentleman opposite.

"What? What was it you said madam?"

"Really, sir," replied the astonished actress, "I have not the pleasure of—Why, good heavens, what have they been about in the room?"

"Madam," continued the gentleman, "the room is mine, and I will thank you to explain—"

"Yours!" screamed Mrs. Powell; "surely, sir, this is Number 1?"

"No, indeed, madam," he replied; "this is Number 2; and really, your language is so very extraordinary, that—"

Mrs. Powell, amidst her confusion, could scarcely refrain from laughter. "Ten thousand pardons!" she said, "the coachman must have mistaken the house. I am Mrs. Powell, of Drury Lane, and have just come from performing the Castle Spectre. Fatigue and absence of mind have made me an unconscious intruder. I lodge next door, and I hope you will excuse the unintentional alarm I have occasioned you."

It is almost needless to add, that the gentleman was much relieved by this rational explanation, and participated in the mirth of his nocturnal visitor, as he politely escorted her to the street door. "Good night," said the still laughing actress; "and I hope, sir, in future, I shall pay more attention to Number One!"


Professor Porson.

Professor Porson.

Porson's Eccentricities.

The humour of Professor Porson lay in parodies, imitations, and hoaxes, ready wit and repartee; in his oddities of dress and demeanour; and his disregard for certain decencies of society is very deplorable, though at the same time mirthful in its very extravagances. Porson left Cambridge to become the scholar about town; to quench his thirst for Florentine MSS. in the tankards of the "Cider Cellar;" and to exchange the respectability and stateliness of the Trinity common room for the savage liberty of Temple chambers. He had for some time become notorious at Cambridge. His passion for smoking, which was then going out among the younger generation, his large and indiscriminate potations, and his occasional use of the poker with a[426] very refractory controversialist, had caused his company to be shunned by all except the few to whom his wit and scholarship were irresistible. When the evening began to grow late, the Fellows of Trinity used to walk out of the common room, and leave Porson to himself, who was sometimes found smoking by the servants next morning, without having apparently moved from the spot where he had been left over-night.

Porson's imitations of Horace, which appeared in the Morning Chronicle, have really no merit at all, nor have any of the hundred and one epigrams which he is said to have written in one night upon the drunkenness of Mr. Pitt. But two other papers, one called The Swinish Multitude, and the other The Saltbox, display certainly both wit and humour. One is a satire upon the famous expression of Burke, in his Letters on a Regicide Peace; the other, a parody of the Oxford style of examination in Logic and Metaphysics.

Of the hundred and one epigrams, the story goes—that when Pitt and Dundas appeared before the House, Pitt tried to speak, but showing himself unable, was kindly pulled down into his seat by those about him; Dundas who was equally unfitted for eloquence, had sense enough to sit silent. Perry, of the Morning Chronicle, witnessed the scene, and on his return from the House, gave a description of it to Porson, who, being vastly amused, called for pen and ink, and musing over his pipe and tankard, produced the one hundred and one pieces of verse before the day dawned. The point of most of them lies in puns. The first epigram is:

"That Ça Ira in England will prevail,
All sober men deny with heart and hand;
To talk of going sure's a pretty tale,
When e'en our rulers can't as much as stand."

The following are better:—

"Your gentle brains with full libations drench,
You've then Pitt's title to the Treasury Bench.
[427] Your foe in war to overrate
A maxim is of ancient date;
Then sure 'twas right, in time of trouble,
That our good rulers should see double.
The mob are beasts! exclaims the King of Daggers;
What creature's he that's troubled with the staggers?"
"When Billy found he scarce could stand,
'Help! help!' he cried, and stretched his hand
To faithful Harry calling,
Quoth Hal, 'My friend, I'm sorry for't;
'Tis not my practice to support
A minister that's falling.'"
"'Who's up?' inquired Burke of a friend at the door;
'Oh! no one,' says Paddy, 'though Pitt's on the floor.'"

Porson was not imposed upon for a moment by the Ireland forgeries of Shakspeare, and when asked to set his name to a declaration of belief in their genuineness, replied, with a smile, that he was "slow to subscribe articles of faith." Scholars, however, owe a debt of gratitude to Ireland, of which, perhaps, they are seldom conscious; for it was the alleged discovery of Shakspearian plays that drew from Porson one of the cleverest specimens of his peculiar powers that remain to us. We mean the translation of "Three Children sliding on the Ice," which he sent to the Morning Chronicle, as a fragment of Sophocles, recently discovered by a friend of his at the bottom of an old trunk.

Porson had high animal spirits; and he is said once, for a wager, to have carried a young lady round the room in his teeth. His conversation, however, after a certain period of the evening, was not always fit for ladies. Rogers once took him to a party, where several women of fashion were present, who were anxious to hear him talk. The Professor, who hated being made a lion, selected for his theme the soup of Vauxhall, and at last, we are told, talked so oddly, that all the women retreated except the famous Lady Crewe, who was not to be frightened by any man. "After this," says[428] Rogers, "I brought him home as far as Piccadilly, where I am sorry to say I left him sick in the middle of the street."

At those houses where Porson was on intimate terms, it was understood that he was always to go away at eleven. Porson accepted the arrangement in perfect good faith, and invariably required that it should be carried out to the letter; for, "though he never attempted to exceed the hour limited, he would never stir before," and he warmly resented any attempt to make him. At one house only was his time extended to twelve; this was Bennet Langton's. There were, of course, houses in which the Professor, so to speak, took the bit between his teeth, and did exactly as he pleased. Horne Tooke's was one of these, as the following story illustrates. Tooke once asked Porson to dine with him in Richmond Buildings; and, as he knew that the Professor had not been in bed for the three preceding nights, he expected to get rid of him at an early hour. He, however, kept Tooke up the whole night; and, in the morning, the latter, in perfect despair, said, "Mr. Porson, I am engaged to meet a friend at breakfast at a coffee-house in Leicester Square." "Oh," replied Porson, "I will go with you;" and he accordingly did so. Soon after they had reached the coffee-house, Tooke contrived to slip out, and running home, ordered his servant not to let Mr. Porson in even if he should attempt to batter down the door. "A man," observed Tooke, "who could sit up four nights successively, could sit up forty."

As soon as Porson had been "turned out of doors like a dog," which was his favourite expression when he received the slightest hint to move, even if it was one o'clock in the morning, he used generally to adjourn to the Cider Cellar, where he was completely king of his company. "Dick," said one of these companions, "can beat us all; he can drink all night, and spout all day." From the Cider Cellar he got home as he could to Essex Court, where he had chambers over the late Mr. Baron Gurney, whose slumbers[429] were a good deal disturbed by the habits of his learned neighbour. On one occasion he was awakened by a tremendous thump upon the floor overhead. Porson, it turned out, had come home drunk, and had tumbled down in his room, and put out his candle; for Gurney soon after heard him fumbling at the staircase lamp, and cursing the nature of things, which made him see two flames instead of one.

The most remarkable feature in Porson's love of liquor was, that he could drink anything. Port wine, indeed, was his favourite beverage. But, in default of this, he would take whatever he could lay his hands on. He was known to swallow a bottle of spirits of wine, an embrocation, and when nothing better was forthcoming, he would even drench himself with water. He would sometimes take part in a contest of drinking; and once, having threatened after dinner to "kick and cuff" his host, Horne Tooke, the latter proposed to settle the affair by drinking, the weapons to be quarts of brandy. When the second bottle was half finished, Porson fell under the table. The conqueror drank another glass to the speedy recovery of his antagonist, and having given instructions to his servants to take great care of the Professor, walked upstairs to tea, as if nothing had occurred. Tooke, however, feared Porson in conversation, because he would often remain silent for a long time, and then "pounce upon him with his terrible memory." In 1798, Parr writes to Dr. Burney, who had recommended that Porson's opinion should be taken on some classical question, "Porson shall do it, and he will do it. I know his terms when he bargains with me: two bottles instead of one, six pipes instead of two, Burgundy instead of claret, liberty to sit till five in the morning instead of sneaking into bed at one; these are his terms."

Porson was very odd in his eating. At breakfast, he frequently ate bread and cheese: and he then took his porter as copiously as Johnson took his tea. At Eton, he once kept Mrs. Goodall at the breakfast-table during the whole of Sunday morning; and when Dr. Goodall returned[430] from church, he found the sixth pot of porter being just carried into his house. In his eating, Porson was very easily satisfied. "He went once," says Mr. Watson, "to the Bodleian to collate a manuscript, and, as the work would occupy him several days, Routh, the president of Magdalen, who was leaving home for the long vacation, said to him at his departure, 'Make my house your home, Mr. Porson, during my absence, for my servants have orders to be quite at your command, and to procure you whatever you please.' When he returned, he asked for the account of what the Professor had had during his stay. The servant brought the bill, and the Doctor, glancing at it, observed a fowl entered in it every day. 'What,' said he, 'did you provide for Mr. Porson no better than this, but oblige him to dine every day on fowl?' 'No, sir,' replied the servant; 'but we asked the gentleman the first day what he would have for dinner, and as he did not seem to know very well what to order, we suggested a fowl. When we went to him about dinner any day afterwards, he always said, "The same as yesterday:" and this was the only answer we could get from him.'"

Sometimes, in a fit of abstraction, he would go without a dinner. One day, when Rogers asked him to stay and dine, he replied, "Thank you, no; I dined yesterday."

Porson used to relate, with much glee, his school anecdotes, the tricks he used to play upon his master and schoolfellows, and the little dramatic pieces which he wrote for private representation. In describing his narrow means, he used to say, "I was almost then destitute in the wide world, with less than 40l. a year for my support, and without a profession; for I could never bring myself to subscribe Articles of Faith. I used often to lie awake for a whole night, and wish for a large pearl." He seemed to delight in company of low grade. At Cambridge, after sitting five hours, and drinking two bottles of sherry, he began to clip the king's English, to cry like a child at the close of his[431] periods; and, in other respects, to show marks of extreme debility. At length, he rose from his chair, staggered to the door, and made his way downstairs without taking the slightest notice of his companion. Subsequently he went out upon a search for the Greek Professor, whom he discovered near the outskirts of Cambridge, leaning upon the arm of a dirty bargeman, and amusing him by the most humorous and laughable anecdotes.

However, Porson could place a strong restraint upon himself when necessary. When he went to stay with his sisters, in the year 1804, it is said that he only took two glasses of wine a day for eleven weeks.

Porson was a man of ready wit and repartee. When asked by a Scotch stranger at the Gray's Inn Coffee-house if Bentley were not a Scotchman, he replied, "No, sir, Bentley was a Greek scholar." He said Bishop Pearson would have been a first-rate critic if he hadn't muddled his brains with divinity. Dr. Parr once asked him, in his pompous manner, before a large company, what he thought about the introduction of moral and physical evil into the world. "Why, Doctor," said Porson, "I think we should have done very well without them."

On his academic visits to the Continent, Porson wrote:—

"I went to Frankfort, and got drunk
With that most learn'd Professor Brunck:
I went to Worts, and got more drunken,
With that more learn'd Professor Runcken."

Porson said one night, when he was very drunk, to Dodd, who was pressing him hard in argument, "Jemmy Dodd, I always despised you when sober, and I'll be d——d if I'll argue with you now that I am drunk."

Porson, in a social party, offered to make a rhyme on anything, when some one suggested one of the Latin gerunds, and he immediately replied:—

"When Dido found Æneas would not come,
She mourned in silence, and was Di-do-dum."


A gentleman said to the great "Grecian," with whom he had been disputing—"Dr. Porson, my opinion of you is most contemptible." "Sir," returned the Doctor, "I never knew an opinion of yours that was not contemptible."

Gillies, the historian of Greece, and Porson used now and then to meet. The consequence was certain to be a literary contest. Porson was much the deeper scholar of the two. Gillies was one day speaking to him of the Greek tragedies, and of Pindar's odes. "We know nothing," said Gillies, emphatically, "of the Greek metres." Porson answered, "If, Doctor, you will put your observation in the singular number, I believe it will be very accurate."

Porson being once at a dinner-party where the conversation turned upon Captain Cook, and his celebrated voyages round the world, an ignorant person, in order to contribute his mite towards the social intercourse, asked him, "Pray, was Cook killed on his first voyage?" "I believe he was," answered Porson, "though he did not mind it much, but immediately entered on a second."

Porson said of a prospect shown to him, that it put him in mind of a fellowship—a long, dreary walk, with a church at the end of it. He used to say of Wakefield and Hermann, two critics, who had attacked him, but whose scholarship he held in great contempt, that "whatever he wrote in future should be written in such a manner that they should not reach it with their paws, though they stood on their hind-legs to get at it."

It has been well said that all opportunities of earning honourably pudding and praise availed Porson nothing. "Two Mordecais sat at his gate—thirst and procrastination."

Irony was Porson's chief weapon, though he could be sarcastic enough when he chose; as when he said of Tomline, Bishop of Lincoln, to whom a rich man, who had only seen him once, had left a large legacy, "If he had seen him twice he would have got nothing."


Nor was he more eulogistic of Bishop Porteus, whom he used to call Bishop Proteus, from his having changed his opinions from liberal to illiberal.

Porson made several visits to the British Museum to read and consider the Rosetta stone, whence he got from the officials the sobriquet of Judge Blackstone.

It is sufficiently notorious that Porson was not remarkably attentive to the decoration of his person: indeed, he was at times disagreeably negligent. On one occasion he went to visit a learned friend, afterwards a judge, where a gentleman who did not know Porson, was waiting in anxious and impatient expectation of the barber. On Porson's entering the library, where the gentleman was sitting, he started up and hastily said to him, "Are you the barber?" "No, sir," replied Porson; "but I am a cunning shaver, much at your service."

Porson, when a young man, was eminently handsome, and nearly six feet in height; but he cultivated these natural gifts very little, and was seldom dressed to advantage. William Bankes once invited Porson to dine with him at an hotel at the west-end of the town; but the dinner passed away without the guest making his appearance. Afterwards, on Bankes's asking him why he had not kept his engagement Porson replied (without entering into further particulars), that he "had come;" and Bankes could only conjecture that the waiters, seeing Porson's shabby dress, and not knowing who he was, had offered him some insult, which made him indignantly return home.

Late in life, Porson seems to have become a sad spectacle. "I saw him once at the London Institution," says a writer in the New Monthly Magazine, "with a large patch of coarse brown paper on his nose, the skirts of his rusty black coat hung with cobwebs, and talking in a tone of suavity approaching to condescension to one of the managers." His face was described by an old acquaintance, who met him in 1807, as "fiery and volcanic; his nose,[434] on which he had a perpetual efflorescence, was covered with black patches; his clothes were shabby, his linen dirty."

Porson had a great contempt for physic and physicians, yet, curiously enough, many of his most intimate friends were physicians. In a letter written in 1802 to Dr. Davy, he says: "I have been at Death's door, but by a due neglect of the faculty, and plentiful use of my old remedy (powder of post), I am pretty well recovered."

In the good old days of coach travelling, an inside was occupied by Porson, a young Oxonian, and two ladies. The Oxonian, fresh from college, was amusing the ladies with a variety of talk, and amongst other things, with a quotation from Sophocles. A Greek quotation, and in a coach too, roused the slumbering Professor; and thereupon, waking from a kind of dog sleep, in a snug corner of the vehicle; shaking his ears, and rubbing his eyes, "I think young gentleman," said he, "you favoured us just now with a quotation from Sophocles; I do not happen to recollect it there." "Oh, sir," replied the Oxonian, "the quotation is word for word as I have repeated it, and in Sophocles too; but I suspect, sir, it is some time since you were at college." The Professor applying his hand to his great-coat, and taking out a small pocket edition of Sophocles, quietly asked him if he could be kind enough to show him the passage in question, in that little book. After rummaging the pages for some time, he replied, "Upon second thoughts, I now recollect that the passage is in Euripides." "Then perhaps, sir," said the Professor, putting his hand again into his pocket, and handing him a similar edition of Euripides, "you will be so good as to find it for me, in that little book." The young Oxonian returned again to his task, but with no better success, muttering however to himself, "Curse me if ever I quote Greek again in a coach." The tittering of the ladies informed him that he was got into a hobble. At last, "Bless me, sir," said he, "how dull I am: I recollect now—yes, yes, I perfectly remember that the passage is in Æschylus." When our astonished freshman[435] vociferated, "Stop the coach—halloah, coachman, let me out, I say, instantly—let me out! there's a fellow here has got the Bodleian library in his pocket; let me out, I say—let me out; he must be Porson or the devil!"

He sometimes put the Greek folio of Galen, the physician, under his pillow at night; not, as he used to observe, because he expected medicinal virtue from it, but because his asthma required that his head should be kept high.

Dr. Parr.

Dr. Parr.

Parriana: Oddities of Dr. Parr.

In his boyhood, Parr is described, by his sister as studious after his kind, delighting in "Mother Goose and[436] the Seven Champions," and not partaking much in the sports usual at such an age. He had had a very early inclination for the Church, and the elements of that taste for ecclesiastical pomp which distinguished him in after-life, appeared when he was not more than nine or ten years old. He would put on one of his father's shirts for a surplice; he would then read the Church Service to his sister and cousins, after they had been duly summoned by a bell tied to the banisters; preach them a sermon, which his congregation was apt to think, in those days, somewhat of the longest; and, even in spite of his father's remonstrances, would bury a bird or a kitten (Parr had always a great fondness for animals) with the rites of Christian burial.

Samuel was his mother's darling; she indulged all his whims, consulted his appetite, provided hot suppers for him almost from his cradle. He was her only son, and was at this time very fair and well-favoured. Providence, however, seeing that at all events vanity was to be a large ingredient in Parr's composition, sent him, in its mercy, a fit of smallpox; and with the same intent, perhaps, deprived him of a parent who was killing her son's character by kindness. Parr never was a boy, says one of his friends and schoolfellows. When he was about nine years old, he was seen sitting on the churchyard-gate at Harrow, whilst his schoolfellows were all at play. "Sam, why don't you play with the others?" cried one. "Do not you know, sir," said Parr, with vast solemnity, "that I am to be a parson?" And Parr himself used to tell of Sir William Jones, another of his schoolfellows, that, as they were one day walking together near Harrow, Jones suddenly stopped short, and looking hard at him, cried out, "Parr, if you should have the good luck to live forty years, you may stand a chance of overtaking your face." Between Dr. Bennet, Parr, and Jones, the closest intimacy was formed: the three challenged one another to trials of skill in the imitation of popular authors—they wrote and acted a play together—they got up mock[437] councils, and harangues, and combats, after the manner of the classical heroes of antiquity, and under their names—till, at the age of fourteen, Parr being now at the head of the school, was removed from it, and placed in the shop of his father, who was a surgeon and apothecary. The Doctor must have found, in the course of his practice, that there are some pills which will not go down—and this was one. Parr began to criticize the Latin of his father's prescriptions, instead of "making the mixture." Accordingly, having tried in vain to reconcile himself to the "uttering of mortal drugs" for three years, he was sent to Cambridge, and admitted of Emmanuel College, where Dr. Farmer was tutor. Of this proficient in black-letter we are told by Archdeacon Butler, that Farmer was a man of such singular indolence as to neglect sending in the young men's accounts, and is supposed to have burnt large sums of money by putting into the fire unopened letters, which contained remittances.

In 1791, when in his twenty-fifth year, Parr became a candidate for the head-mastership of Harrow, though he was beaten by Dr. B. Heath. A rebellion ensued among the boys, many of whom took Parr's part; and he threw up his situation of assistant, and withdrew to Stanmore. Here he was followed by forty of the young rebels, and with this stock-in-trade he proceeded to set up a school on his own account. This is thought to have been the crisis of Parr's life. The die had turned against him, and the disappointment, with its immediate consequences, gave a complexion to his future fortunes, character, and comfort. He had already mounted a full-bottomed wig when he stood for Harrow, anxious as it should seem to give his face a still further chance of keeping its start. He now began to ride on a black saddle, and bore in his hand a long wand with an ivory head, like a crosier, in high prelatical pomp. His neighbours, who wondered what it could all mean, had scarcely time to identify him with his pontificals before they[438] saw him stalking along the street in a dirty striped dressing-gown. A wife was all that was now wanted to complete the establishment at Stanmore, and accordingly, Miss Jane Marsingale, a lady of an ancient Yorkshire family was provided for him; Parr, like Hooker, appearing to have courted by proxy, and with about the same success. Thus Stanmore was set agoing as the rival of Harrow. These were fearful odds, and it came to pass that, in spite of "Attic Symposia," and grooves of Academus, and the enacting of a Greek play, and the perpetual recitation of the fragment in praise of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, the establishment at Stanmore declined; and at the end of five years, Parr was not sorry to accept the mentorship of an endowed school at Colchester.

Parr was evidently fond of living in troubled waters: accordingly, on his removal to Colchester, he got into a quarrel with the trustees of the school on the subject of a lease; and he printed a pamphlet about it, which was so violent that he never published it, probably influenced by his prospect of succeeding to Norwich School. This occasioned Dr. Foster to remark, "That Norwich might be touched by a fellow-feeling for Colchester; and the crape-makers of the one place sympathize with the bag-makers of the other." The pamphlet was withheld, and Parr was elected to the school at Norwich. The preferment which he gained was the living of Asterby, which he exchanged for the perpetual curacy of Hatton, in Warwickshire. Neither was of much value. Lord Dartmouth, whose sons had been under Parr's care, endeavoured to procure something for him from Lord Thurlow, but the Chancellor is reported to have said "No," with an oath. The great and good Bishop Lowth, however, at the request of the same nobleman, gave Parr a prebend in St. Paul's, which, though a trifle at the time, eventually became, at the expiration of leases, a source of affluence to Parr in his old age. How far he was from such a condition at this period of his life, is seen by an incident[439] related by Mr. Field. The Doctor was one day in that gentleman's library, when his eye was caught by the title of Stephens's Greek Thesaurus. Suddenly turning about, he said to Field, vehemently, "Ah! my friend, my friend, may you never be forced, as I was at Norwich, to sell that work, to me so precious, from absolute and urgent necessity."

Dr. Parr and Dr. Johnson once had a sort of stand-up fight at argument. After the interview was over, Johnson said, "I do not know when I have had an occasion of such free controversy. It is remarkable how much of a man's life may pass without meeting with any instance of this kind of open discussion." Here is Dr. Parr's account of the meeting: "I remember the interview well. I gave him no quarter. The subject of our dispute was the liberty of the press. Dr. Johnson was very great; whilst he was arguing, I observed that he stamped. Upon this I stamped. Dr. Johnson said, 'Why did you stamp, Dr. Parr?' I replied, 'Sir, because you stamped; and I was resolved not to give you the advantage of a stamp in the argument.'" It is impossible to do justice to this description of the scene. The vehemence, the characteristic pomposity with which it was accompanied, may easily be imagined by those who knew him, but cannot be adequately represented to those who did not.

In the party was Dr. ——, an Arian minister, and Mr. ——, a Socinian minister. One of the party seeing Parr was on friendly terms with the above gentlemen, said, "I suppose, sir, although they are heretics, you think it is possible they may be saved?" "Yes, sir," said he, adding with affected vehemence, "but they must be scorched first." Parr talked of economy; he thought that a man's happiness was secure, in proportion to the small number of his wants, and said that all his lifetime it had been his object to prevent the multiplication of them in himself. Some one said to him, "Then, sir, your secret of happiness is to cut down your wants." Parr. "No, sir, my secret is, not to let them grow."


The doctor used, on a Sunday evening, after church, to sit on the green at Hatton, with his pipe and his jug, and witness the exertions of his parishioners in the truly English game of cricket, making only one proviso, that none should join the party who had not previously been to church. It is needless to say his presence was an effectual check on all disorderly conduct. The skittle-grounds were deserted, and a better conducted parish was rarely seen than the worthy Doctor's.

Dr. Parr was one of the enthusiastic admirers of Shakspeare, who fell upon their knees before Ireland's MSS., and by their idolatry inspired hundreds of others. Still, Parr attempts to explain this in a note to the catalogue of his library at Hatton, as follows:—"Ireland's (Samuel) Great and Impudent Forgery, called 'Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments, under the hand and seal of William Shakspeare,' folio, 1796. I am almost ashamed to insert this worthless and infamously trickish book. It is said to include the tragedy of King Lear, and a fragment of Hamlet. Ireland told a lie when he imputed to me the words which Joseph Warton used, the very morning I called on Ireland, and was inclined to admit the possibility of genuineness in his papers. In my subsequent conversation I told him my change of opinion. But I thought it not worth while to dispute in print with a detected impostor.—S. P."

Parr, it will be recollected, was an everlasting smoker—he smoked morning, noon, and night. Once at a Visitation dinner in Colchester, he had the impudence to call for his pipe; but Dr. Hamilton, the archdeacon, told him there were other rooms in the house where he might enjoy himself without annoying others. Of a piece with this was his behaviour at a literary club in Colchester. Knowing the temper of the man, a pipe and bottle (contrary to the law of the club) were placed on the table, and he did ample justice to both; for he smoked and drank the whole night, and[441] talked so incessantly that Dr. Foster, the president, sat silent, like one who had lost the use of his tongue.

In July, 1818, Dr. Parr dined at Emmanuel (Cambridge), and met Dr. Butler, of Shrewsbury, afterwards Bishop of Lichfield. Dudley North seemed to be very popular in his college, for they drank his health after dinner. Parr spoke of him in very high terms. The principal objections to the society of "the learned pig" were that he had a more than Mahommedan fondness for tobacco, and the smoking of a pipe was with him, as with the followers of the Prophet, a certain passport to friendship. The chief objects of his detestation seemed to be a Christchurch man, a Johnian, a Welshman, and the Regent, all of whom suffered in turn under the lash of his invective. Harrow and Trinity were the idols of his adoration. Butler appeared to be much more of a civilized being than the Grecian Goliah. Parr took his breakfast in the room of Charles Brinsley Sheridan. The breakfast was given on Sunday. Parr never showed the slightest disposition to attend the morning service, but when breakfast was over, said, "Charles, Charles, where are the pipes?" and they had to be sent for from a neighbouring public-house. And the room was uninhabitable for three hours after Parr's déjeûner fumigations.

Dr. Parr almost always spent his evenings in the company of his family and his visitors, or in that of some neighbouring friends. At such times his dress was in complete contrast with the costume of the morning; for he appeared in a well-powdered wig, and always wore his band and cassock. On extraordinary occasions he was arrayed in a full-dress suit of black velvet, of the cut of the old times, when his appearance was imposing and dignified.

Speaking of the honour once conferred upon him, of being invited to dinner at Carlton House, Parr mentions, with evident satisfaction, the kind condescension of the Prince of Wales, who was pleased to insist upon his taking[442] his pipe as usual after dinner. Of the Duke of Sussex, at whose table Parr was not unfrequently a guest, he used to tell that his Royal Highness not only allowed him to smoke, but smoked with him. He often represented it as an instance of the homage which rank and beauty delight to pay to talents and learning, that ladies of the highest station condescended to the office of lighting his pipe. He appeared to no advantage, however, in his custom of demanding the service of holding the lighted paper to his pipe from the youngest female who happened to be present; and who was often, by the freedom of his remarks, or by the gaze of the company, painfully disconcerted. This troublesome ceremony, in his later years, he wisely discarded.

The reader will probably recollect, in the well-known story, his reply to the lady who refused to allow Parr the indulgence of his pipe. In vain he pleaded that such indulgence had always been kindly granted in the mansions of the nobility, and even in the presence and in the palace of his sovereign. "Madam," said Parr to the lady, who still remained inexorable, "you must give me leave to tell you, you are the greatest—" whilst she, fearful of what might follow, earnestly interposed, and begged that he would express no rudeness. "Madam," resumed Dr. Parr, speaking aloud, and looking stern, "you are the greatest tobacco-stopper in England." This sally produced a loud laugh; but Parr found himself obliged to retire, in order to enjoy the pleasures of his pipe.

Dr. Parr was accustomed to amuse himself in the evening with cards, and whist was his favourite game. He would only play for a nominal stake; but, upon one occasion, he was persuaded to play with Bishop Watson for a shilling, which he won. Pushing it carefully to the bottom of his pocket, and placing his hand upon it, with a kind of mock solemnity, "There, my Lord Bishop," said Parr, "this is a trick of the devil; but I'll match him. So now, if you please, we will play for a penny;" and this was ever after[443] the amount of his stake. He was not, on that account, at all the less ardent in the prosecution, or the less joyous in the success of the rubber. He had a high opinion of his own skill in the game, and could not very patiently tolerate the want of it in his partner. Being engaged with a party, in which he was unequally matched, he was asked by a lady how the fortune of the game turned; when he replied, "Pretty well, madam, considering that I have three adversaries."

Even ladies were not spared who incurred Parr's displeasure by their pertinacity. To one who had held out in argument against him, not very powerfully, and rather too perseveringly, and who had closed the debate by saying, "Well, Dr. Parr, I still maintain my opinion;" he replied, "Madam, you may, if you please, retain your opinion, but you cannot maintain it."

The close of Parr's life grew brighter: the increased value of his stall at St. Paul's set him abundantly at his ease; he could even indulge his love of pomp, and he encumbered himself with a coach and four.

Parr's hand was ever open as day. Poverty had vexed, but had never contracted his spirit; money he despised, except as it gave him power—power to ride in his state-coach, to throw wide his doors to hospitality, to load his table with plate and his shelves with learning; power to adorn his church with chandeliers and painted windows; to make glad the cottages of his poor; to grant a loan to a tottering farmer; to rescue from want a forlorn patriot or a thriftless scholar. Whether misfortune, or mismanagement, or folly, or vice, had brought its victim low, his want was a passport to Parr's pity, and the dew of his bounty fell alike upon the bad and the good, upon the just and the unjust. It is told of Boerhaave that, whenever he saw a criminal led out to execution, he would say, "May not this man be better than I? If otherwise, the praise is due, not to me, but the grace of God." Parr used to quote this[444] saying with applause. Such, we doubt not, would have been his own feelings on such an occasion.

The Doctor was fond of good living, but was not a gourmet. "There are," he says, "certainly one or two luxuries to which I am addicted: the first is a shoulder of mutton, not under-roasted, and richly incrusted with flour and salt; the second is a plain suet-pudding; the third is a plain family plum-pudding; and the fourth, a kind of high-festival dish, consists of hot boiled lobsters, with a profusion of shrimp-sauce."

Parr preached the Spital sermon, at Christ Church, on the invitation of the Lord Mayor, Harvey Combe, and as they were coming out of the church together, "Well," said Parr, "how did you like the sermon?" "Why, Doctor," replied his lordship, "there were four things in it that I did not like to hear." "State them." "Why, to speak frankly, then, they were the quarters of the church-clock, which struck four times before you had finished." But his Spital sermon, in 1799, occupied nearly three hours in its delivery.

Oddities of John Horne Tooke.

The life of this strange person may almost be said to have been commenced with a joke. He was the son of a poulterer, named John Horne, in Newport Street, Westminster; or, as he told his schoolfellows, his father was "a turkey merchant." He was educated for the Church, according to his father's wish, and took orders for the bar.

What Tooke thought of the former profession may be seen in a letter of his to Wilkes, whose acquaintance he made in Paris in 1765, and to whom he thus wrote:—"You are now entering into correspondence with a parson, and I am greatly apprehensive lest that title should disgust; but give me leave to assure you, I am not ordained a hypocrite. It is true I have suffered the infectious hand of a bishop to be waved over me, whose imposition, like the sop given to[445] Judas, is only a signal for the devil to enter. I hope I have escaped the contagion; and, if I have not, if you should at any time discover the black spot under the tongue, pray kindly assist me to conquer the prejudices of education and profession."

Tooke was, upon one occasion, memorably outwitted by Wilkes, who was then sheriff of London and Middlesex. Tooke had challenged Wilkes, who sent him the following cutting reply:—"Sir, I do not think it my business to cut the throat of every desperado that may be tired of his life; but as I am at present High Sheriff of the City of London, it may happen that I shall shortly have an opportunity of attending you in my official capacity, in which case I will answer for it that you shall have no ground to complain of my endeavours to serve you." We agree with Mr. Colton, in his Lacon, that the above retort is a masterpiece of its kind.

The violence of Tooke's political predilections, perhaps, was heightened by an accidental circumstance in his early life. His father, the poulterer, had for his neighbour, Frederick, Prince of Wales, at Leicester House, who most unceremoniously had cut through the wall of Horne's garden a doorway, as an outlet towards Newport Market, for the convenience of the Prince's domestics. But the poulterer and his son resisted the encroachment, and triumphed over the heir-apparent to the English crown, and had the obnoxious doorway removed, and the wall reinstated. This victory, it is reasonable to suppose, fanned the political aspirations of Horne Tooke.

For many years Tooke was the terror of judges, ministers of state, and all constituted authorities. When put on trial for his life (for treason), "so far from being moved by his dangerous position, he was never in more buoyant spirits. His wit and humour had often before been exhibited in Courts of Justice; but never had they been so brilliant as on this occasion. Erskine had been at his request assigned[446] to him as counsel; but he himself undertook some of the most important duties of his advocate, cross-examining the witnesses for the Crown, objecting to evidence, and even arguing points of law. If his life had really been in jeopardy, such a course would have been perilous and rash in the highest degree; but nobody in court, except, perhaps, the Attorney and Solicitor-General, thought there was the slightest chance of an adverse verdict. The prisoner led off the proceedings by a series of preliminary jokes, which were highly successful. When placed in the dock, he cast a glance up at the ventilators of the hall, shivered, and expressed a wish that their lordships would be so good as to get the business over quickly as he was afraid of catching cold. When arraigned, and asked by the officer of the court in the usual form, how he would be tried? he answered, 'I would be tried by God and my country—but——' and looked sarcastically round the court. Presently he made an application to be allowed a seat by his counsel; and entered upon an amusing altercation with the judge, as to whether his request should be granted as an indulgence or as a right. The result was that he consented to take his place by the side of Erskine as a matter of favour. In the midst of the merriment occasioned by these sallies, the Solicitor-General opened the case for the Crown."[42]

His change of name to John Horne Tooke is thus explained. At the time when he was rising into celebrity, the estate of Purley, near Godstone, in Surrey, belonged to Mr. William Tooke, one of the four friends who joined in supplying him with an income, while, after resigning the vicarage of New Brentford, he studied for the law. One of Tooke's richer neighbours, having failed in wresting from him his manorial rights by a lawsuit, had applied to parliament and nearly succeeded in effecting his purpose by means of an inclosure bill, which would have greatly depreciated the Purley[447] estate. Tooke despondingly confided his apprehensions to Horne, who resolved at once to avert the blow, which he did in a bold and very singular manner. The third reading of the bill was to take place the next day, and Horne immediately wrote a violent libel on the Speaker of the House of Commons in reference to it, and obtained its insertion in the Public Advertiser. As might be expected, the first parliamentary proceeding next day was the appearance of the adventurous libeller in the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms. When called upon for his defence, he delivered a most remarkable speech, in which he pointed out the injustice of the bill in question with so much success, that not only was it reconsidered, and the clauses which affected his friend's property expunged, but resolutions were passed by the House to prevent the possibility in future of such bills being smuggled through parliament without due investigation. In gratitude for this important service, Mr. Tooke, who had no family, made Horne his heir; on his death in 1803, the latter became proprietor of Purley, and, as one of the conditions of inheritance, added the name of Tooke to his own, and from this time was known as John Horne Tooke. His celebrated Diversions of Purley was named in compliment to the residence of the author's friend.

Mr. Tooke's Sunday dinners at his villa on Wimbledon Common were very festive gatherings. So early as eleven in the morning, some of the guests might be descried crossing the green in a diagonal direction; while others took a more circuitous route along the great road, with a view of calling at the mansion formerly occupied by the Duke of Newcastle while Prime Minister, but then the residence of Sir Francis Burdett. For many years a coach-and-four, with Mr. Bosville and two or three friends, punctually arrived within a few minutes of two o'clock. At four, the dinner was usually served in the parlour looking on the Common; and the servant having announced the dinner, the company passed through the hall, the chairs of which were crowded[448] with great-coats, hats, &c., and took their seats without any ceremony, each usually placing himself in his proper situation. During dinner, the host's colloquial powers were called forth into action: indeed, although he possessed an excellent appetite, and partook freely of almost everything before him, yet he found ample time for his gibes and jokes, which seemed to act as so many corroborants, at once strengthening and improving the appetites of his guests.

Here, at times, were to be seen men of rank and mechanics, sitting in social converse; persons of ample fortune, and those completely ruined by the prosecutions of the Attorney-General. On one side was to be seen, perhaps, the learned Professor of an University, replete with Greek and Latin, and panting to display his learned lore, indignant at being obliged to chatter with his neighbour, a member of the Common Council, about city politics. Next to these would sit a man of letters and a banker, between whom it was difficult to settle the agio of conversation, the one being full of the present state of the money-market, the other bursting to display his knowledge of all books, except those of account alone!

Tooke took delight in praising his daughters, which he sometimes did by those equivocatory falsehoods which were one of his principal pleasures. Of the eldest he said, "All the beer brewed in this house is that young lady's brewing." It would have been equally true to say, all the hogs killed in this house were of that young lady's killing; for they brewed no beer. When a member of the Constitutional Society, he would frequently utter sentences, the first part of which would have subjected him to death by the law, but for the salvo that followed; and the more violent they were, thus contrasted and equivocatory, the greater was his triumph.

When Tooke was justifying to the Commissioners his return of income under 60l. a-year, one of those gentlemen, dissatisfied with the explanation, hastily said, "Mr. Tooke,[449] I do not understand you." "Very possibly," replied the sarcastic citizen; "but as you have not half the understanding of other men, you should have double the patience."

Horne Tooke told Mr. Rogers that in his early days a friend gave him a letter of introduction to D'Alembert, at Paris. Dressed à-la-mode, he presented the letter, and was very courteously received by D'Alembert, who talked to him about operas, comedies, suppers, &c. Tooke had expected conversation on very different topics, and was greatly disappointed. When he took leave, he was followed by a gentleman in a plain suit, who had been in the room during his interview with D'Alembert, and who had perceived his chagrin. "D'Alembert," said the gentleman, "supposed from your gay apparel that you were merely a petit maître." The gentleman was David Hume. On his next visit to D'Alembert, Tooke's dress was altogether different, and so was the conversation.

Tooke's literal kind of wit—set off, as tradition recounts, by a courteous manner and by imperturbable coolness—is not ill shown in the following:—"'Power,' said Lord —— to Tooke, 'should follow property.' 'Very well,' he replied, 'then we will take the property from you, and the power shall follow it....'" "'Now, young man, as you are settled in town,' said my uncle, 'I would advise you to take a wife.' 'With all my heart, sir; whose wife shall I take?'" It is a trait of manners that the "Rev. Mr. Horne" must have been a young clergyman at the time of this conversation; he did not, as is well known, take the name of Tooke till a later period. We have a trace, too, of his philological acuteness in Mr. Rogers's Memorandum Book:—"An illiterate people are most tenacious of their language. In traffic, the seller learns that of the buyer before the buyer learns his. A bull in the field, when brought to town and cut up in the market, becomes bœuf, beef; a calf, veal; a sheep, mouton; a pig, pork;—because there the Norman purchased, and the seller soon learnt his terms; while the[450] peasantry retained their own." It is not surprising that a sharp logical wit should be an acute interpreter of language.

In the year 1811, a most flagrant depredation was committed in Mr. Tooke's house at Wimbledon, by a collector of taxes, who daringly carried away a silver tea and sugar-caddy, the value of which amounted in weight in silver to at least twenty times more than the sum demanded, for a tax which Tooke declared he would never pay. Instructions were given to an attorney for replevying the goods; but the tax-collector, by the advice of a friend, returned the tea-caddy, and the man declaring he had a large family, Tooke treated him very kindly, and the matter was allowed to drop.

Mr. Tooke's health had been a long time before his decease in a declining state; but his humour and eccentricity remained in full force to the last; and even in the gripe of death his serenity never forsook him. While he was speechless and considered insensible, Sir Francis Burdett, who was present with a few more friends, prepared a cordial for him, which the medical attendants declared to be of no avail, but which the baronet persisted in offering, and raising up the patient for that purpose, when Mr. Tooke perceiving who offered the draught, drank it off with a smile, and in a few minutes expired, on March 18th, 1812, at his house at Wimbledon. He was put into a strong elm shell. The coffin was made from the heart of a solid oak, cut down for the purpose. It measured six feet one inch in length; in breadth at the shoulders, two feet two inches; depth at the head, two feet six inches; and the depth at the feet, two feet four inches. This great depth of coffin was necessary in consequence of the contraction of the body of the deceased.

A tomb had long been prepared for Mr. Tooke in his garden at Wimbledon, in which it was his desire to have been buried; but this, after his decease, being opposed by his daughters and an aunt of theirs, his remains were conveyed[451] in a hearse and six to Ealing, in Middlesex; attended by three mourning-coaches, containing Sir Francis Burdett and several other political and literary friends. His remains were interred according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, otherwise, it was his desire that no funeral service should be read over his body, but that six poor men should have a guinea each to bear him to the vault in his garden. He rests in a vault, inclosed with iron railings, and bearing this inscription:—"John Horne Tooke, late of Wimbledon, author of the Diversions of Purley, was born June, 1736, and died March 18th, 1812, contented and grateful."

Mr. Canning's Humour.

It has been sagaciously remarked in a paper in the National Review, No. 18, that "if Mr. Canning had not been a busy politician, he would probably have attained eminence as a writer. There must be extraordinary vitality in jokes and parodies, which after sixty or seventy years are almost as amusing as if their objects had not long since become obsolete." We propose to string together a few of these pleasantries, collected from the above and other authentic sources.

It is related that Mr. Canning's aunt on the anniversary of her birthday made presents to each of her relations: to Mr. Canning she once gave a piece of fustian, which produced from him the following stanzas, found in MS., a line wanting:—

"Whilst all on this auspicious day,
Well pleas'd their gratulations pay,
And sweetly smile, and softly say
A thousand pretty speeches;
My Muse her grateful tribute wings,
Nor scorn the lay her duty brings,
Tho' humble be the theme she sings—
A pair of shooting breeches.


"Soon shall the tailor's subtle art
Have fashion'd them in every part,
And made them snug, and neat, and smart,
With twenty thousand stitches;
Then mark the moral of my song,
Oh! may our lives but prove as strong,
And wear as well, and last as long,
As these, my shooting breeches.
"And when to ease the load of strife
Of public and of private life,
My fate shall bless me with a wife,
I seek not rank or riches;
But worth like thine, serene and gay,

And form'd like thine, to give away
Not wear herself the breeches."

Among Canning's playful rhymes will be remembered, in The Microcosm, Nos. 1, 11, and 12, those commencing,—

"The Queen of Hearts,
She made some tarts," &c.

The continuation, which is less known, apparently contains some political allusions:—

"Ye Queen of Spades
Herself degrades
By dancing on the green;
Ye Knave stood by
In extacy,
Enamoured of ye Queen.
Ye King so brave
Says to the Knave,
'I disapprove this dance;
You make more work
Than Mister Burke
Does with ye Queen of France.'"

The following is written as a variation:

"Ye Queen of Spades
She beat ye maids
For their immodesty;
[453] Ye Knave of Spades
He kissed those maids,
Which made the Queen to cry.
Ye King then curst
That Knave who durst
Make Royalty shed tears;
'Vile Knave,' says he,
''Tis my decree
That you lose both your ears.'
"Ye Diamond Queen
Was one day seen
So drunk she could not stand;
Ye Diamond Knave
He blushed, and gave
Ye Queen a reprimand.
Ye King, distrest
That his dearest
Should do so vile a thing,
Says, 'By my wig
She's like ye pig
Of David, ye good king.'
"Ye Queen of Clubs
Made syllabubs;
Ye Knave came like Big Ben,
He snatched the cup
And drank it up—
His toast was, 'Rights of men.'
With hands and eyes
That marked surprise
Ye King laments his fate:
'Alas!' says he,
'I plainly see
Ye Knave's a Democrate.'"

Mr. Canning used habitually to designate the selfish and officious Duke of Buckingham as the "Ph.D.," an abbreviation which was understood to mean "the fat Duke." That bulky potentate had cautioned him on the eve of his expected voyage to India, against the frigate in which he was to sail, on the ground that she was too low in the water.[454] "I am much obliged to you," he replies to Lord Morley, "for your report of the Duke of Buckingham's caution respecting the Jupiter. Could you have the experiments made without the Duke of Buckingham on board? as that might make a difference."

In a letter to Lord Granville, at a time when Prince Metternich was expected in Paris, he says, "You ask me what you shall say to Metternich. In the first place, you shall hear what I think of him; that he is the greatest r—— and l—— on the Continent, perhaps in the civilized world!"

Almost all the brilliant exceptions to the average trash of the Anti-Jacobin appear to belong to Canning; though, if the authority of the most recent editor may be trusted, the best stanza of the best poem was added to the original manuscript by Pitt.

"Sun, moon, and thou, vile world, adieu!
Which kings and priests are plotting in;
Here doomed to starve on water gru-
el, I no more shall see the U-
niversity of Gottingen."

Canning's Friend of Humanity and the Knife-grinder is well remembered as witty ridicule of the youthful Jacobin effusions of Southey, in which it was sedulously inculcated that there was a natural and eternal warfare between the poor and the rich; the Sapphic lines of Southey affording a tempting subject for ludicrous parody:—

"Friend of Humanity.
"Needy Knife-grinder? whither art thou going?
Rough is your road—your wheel is out of order.
Bleak blows the blast—your hat has got a hole in't!
So have your breeches!
"Weary Knife-grinder! little think the proud ones,
Who in their coaches roll along the turnpike-
Road, what hard work 'tis crying all day, 'Knives and
Scissors to grind O!'


"Tell me, Knife-grinder, how came you to grind knives?
Did some rich man tyrannically use you?
Was it the squire, or parson of the parish,
Or the attorney?
"Was it the squire, for killing of his game, or
Covetous parson, for his tithes distraining?
Or roguish lawyer, made you lose your little
All in a lawsuit?
"(Have you not read the Rights of Man, by Tom Paine?)
Drops of compassion tremble on my eyelids,
Ready to fall, as soon as you have told
Your pitiful story.
"Story! God bless you! I have none to tell, sir.
Only last night, a-drinking at the Chequers,
This poor old hat and breeches, as you see, were
Torn in a scuffle.
"Constables came up for to take me into
Custody; they took me before the justice;
Justice Oldmixon put me in the parish
Stocks for a vagrant.
"I should be glad to drink your honour's health in
A pot of beer, if you will give me sixpence;
But for my part I never love to meddle
With politics, sir.
"Friend of Humanity.
"I give thee sixpence! I will see thee d——d first—
Wretch, whom no sense of wrongs can rouse to vengeance—
Sordid, unfeeling reprobate; degraded,
Spiritless outcast!

[Kicks the Knife-grinder, overturns his wheel, and exit in a transport of Republican enthusiasm and universal philanthropy.]

Again, the atrocious exaltation of the contemporary poet in the murder of Jean Bon St. André is still delightfully contagious:—


"'Twould have moved a Christian's bowels
To hear the doubts he stated;
But the Moors they did as they were bid,
And strangled him while he prated."

The exquisite polish of the Loves of the Triangles is enjoyed, while Darwin's grave absurdities are only remembered in Miss Edgeworth's admiring quotations, or by Lord Brougham's fidelity to the literary prepossessions of his youth. It is remarkable that an author who in literature can only be considered as an amateur, should have possessed that rare accomplishment of style which is the first condition of durable reputation. The humour of Canning's more ephemeral lampoons, as they exist in oral tradition, seems to have been not less admirable. When Mr. Whitbread said, or was supposed to say, in the House of Commons, that a certain day was memorable to him as the anniversary both of the establishment of his brewery and of the death of his father, the metrical version of his speech placed his sentiments in a more permanent form:—

"This day I will hail with a smile and a sigh,
For his beer with an e, and his bier with an i."

Some of the diplomatic documents which have been published tend to justify the common opinion that Mr. Canning was liable to be misled by his facility of composition and his love of epigram. On one occasion, he wrote to Lord Granville, that he had forgotten to answer "the impudent request of the Pope," for protection to his subjects against the Algerine corsairs. He replies, with more point than relevancy, "Why does not the Pope prohibit the African Slave Trade? It is carried on wholly by Roman Catholic powers, and by those among them who acknowledge most subserviently the power and authority of the court of Rome.... Tell my friend Macchi, that so long as any power whom the Pope can control, and does not, sends a slave-ship to Southern Africa, I have not the[457] audacity to propose to Northern Africans to abstain from cruising for Roman domestics—indeed, I think them justified in doing so." In a private conversation or a friendly letter, the fallacy of the tu quoque would have been forgotten in the appropriateness of the repartee; but in a question of serious business, the argument was absurd, and a diplomatic communication ought never to be insulting. There might be little practical danger in affronting the Pope; but Mr. Canning himself would have admitted, on reflection, that his witticism could by no possibility conduce to the suppression of the Slave Trade.

Here is a more playful instance of humorous correspondence. When Mr. Canning was forming his ministry, he offered Lord Lyndhurst the Chancellorship, though he had recently attacked the new Premier in a speech which was said to be borrowed from a hostile pamphlet, written by Dr. Philpotts, Bishop of Exeter. Canning offered Lord Lyndhurst the seals in a letter expressive of his goodwill, "pace Philpotti;" and the answer of acceptance was signed, "Yours ever, except for twenty-four hours."

Mr. Canning had a faithful college servant, who became much attached to him. Francis, for such was his name, was always distinguished by his blunt honesty and his familiarity with his master. During his master's early political career, Francis continued to live with him. Mr. Canning, whose love of fun was innate, used sometimes to play off his servant's bluntness upon his right honourable friends. One of these, whose honours did not sit very easily upon him, had forgotten Francis, though often indebted to his kind offices at Oxford. Francis complained to Mr. Canning that Mr. W. did not speak to him. "Pooh!" said Mr. Canning, "it is all your fault; you should speak first: he thinks you proud. He dines here to-day—go up to him in the drawing-room, and congratulate him upon the post he has just got." Francis was obedient. Surrounded by a splendid ministerial circle, Francis advanced[458] to the distinguished statesman, with "How d'ye do, Mr. W. I hope you're very well—I wish you joy of your luck, and hope your place will turn out a good thing." The roar of course was universal. The same Francis afterwards obtained a comfortable berth in the Customs, through his kind master's interest. He was a stanch Tory. During Queen Caroline's trial, he met Mr. Canning in the street. "Well Francis, how are you?" said the statesman, who had just resigned his office, holding out his hand. "It is not well, Mr. Canning," replied Francis, refusing the pledge of friendship—"It is not well, Mr. Canning, that you should say anything in favour of that ——." "But, Francis, political differences should not separate old friends—give me your hand." The sturdy politician at length consented to honour the ex-minister with a shake of forgiveness. It is said that Mr. Canning did not forget him when he returned to power.

Canning and Lord Eldon were, in many respects, "wide as the Poles asunder," although they were in the same administration. Mr. Stapleton, in his George Canning and his Times, publishes a curious letter written in 1826 to Lord Eldon, who exhibited his unconcealed dislike to his brilliant and liberal colleague by steadily refusing to place any part of his vast patronage at his disposal. Complying with the importunity of Mr. Martin, of Galway, Mr. Canning formally transmitted a letter of application, reminding the Chancellor at the same time that in twenty-five years he had made four requests for appointments; "with one of which your lordship had the goodness to comply." The letter was placed in the private secretary (Mr. Stapleton's) hands, with directions to copy it and forward it immediately; but knowing the state of parties in the cabinet, and seeing that the letter had been written under the influence of irritation, Mr. Stapleton undertook the responsibility of keeping it back. A few hours afterwards, Mr. Stapleton said to Mr. Canning, "I have not sent your letter to old Eldon."[459] "Not sent it," he angrily inquired; "and pray why not?" Mr. Stapleton replied, "Because I am sure that you ought to read it over again before you send it." "What do you mean?" Mr. Canning sharply replied. "Go and get it." Mr. Stapleton did as he was bid; Mr. Canning read it over, and then a smile of good-humour came over his countenance. "Well," he said, "you are a good boy. You are quite right; don't send it. I will write another."

When his obstinate old enemy stood beside him at the Duke of York's funeral, in St. George's Chapel, Mr. Canning became uneasy at seeing the old man standing on the cold, bare pavement. Perhaps he was more uneasy because he knew he was unfriendly; so to prevent the cold damp of the stones from striking though his shoes, he made him lay down his cocked hat, and stand upon it; and when at last he got weary of so much standing, he put him in a niche of carved wood-work, where he was just able to stand upon wood. Unfortunately, although the tough old Chancellor was saved by his constitution and his hat, Mr. Canning's health received, through the exposure to cold, a shock from which he never recovered. A few days afterwards he paid a last visit to Lord Liverpool, at Bath, and on the plea of entertaining Mr. Stapleton, as a young man, with the stories of their early years, they went on amusing each other by recounting all sorts of fun and adventure, which were evidently quite as entertaining to the old as to the young. The picture of the two time-worn ministers laughing over the scenes of their youth must have been a treat.

Sydney Smith ludicrously compared Canning in office to a fly in amber:—"Nobody cares about the fly; the only question is—How the devil did it get there? Nor do I attack him," continues Sydney, "from the love of glory, but from the love of utility, as a burgomaster hunts a rat in a Dutch dyke, for fear it should flood a province. When he is jocular, he is strong; when he is serious, he is like Samson in a wig. Call him a legislator, a reasoner, and the conductor[460] of the affairs of a great nation, and it seems to me as absurd as if a butterfly were to teach bees to make honey. That he is an extraordinary writer of small poetry, and a diner-out of the highest metre, I do most readily admit. After George Selwyn, and perhaps Tickell, there has been no such man for the last half-century." Lord Brougham, however, asserts that Mr. Canning was not, by choice a diner-out.

Canning said of Grattan's eloquence that, for the last two years, his public exhibitions were a complete failure, and that you saw all the mechanism of his oratory without its life. It was like lifting the flap of a barrel-organ, and seeing the wheels; you saw the skeleton of his sentences without the flesh on them; and were induced to think that what you had considered flashes, were merely primings kept ready for the occasion.

Lord Byron, in his Age of Bronze, thus characterises Canning:—

"Something may remain, perchance, to chime
With reason; and, what's stranger still, with rhyme.
Even this thy genius, Canning! may permit,
Who, bred a statesman, still was born a wit,
And never, even in that dull house could tame
To unleavened prose thine own poetic flame.
Our last, our best, our only orator,
Even I can praise thee—Tories do no more.
Nay, not so much; they hate thee, man, because
Thy spirit less upholds them than it awes!"

Peter Pindar.—Dr. Wolcot.

This sarcastic versifier was a native of Devonshire, born about the year 1738. His father was a substantial yeoman, and sent him to Kingsbridge Free School; and after his father's death, young Wolcot was removed to the Grammar School at Bodmin. He is described as a clumsy, but arch-looking boy. He, at this early period, showed a degree of[461] quickness in repartee and sarcastic jokes, which was the first dawning of that satiric humour which he afterwards displayed. He was not remarkable at school for anything so much as negligence of his dress and person. He described himself in after-life as having been a dull scholar, but as having showed even at that early age a turn for versifying.

On leaving school, he was removed to Fowey, in Cornwall, to the house of an uncle, who was a medical practitioner, whose apprentice he became for seven years. He completed his medical education in London, and applied himself with sufficient diligence to obtain a knowledge of his future profession; but he much annoyed his uncle and two aunts by cultivating his talents for versifying and painting. Some of his chalk drawings have been preserved, and are remarkable for their peculiarity. When seen near the eye, they seem to be composed only of random scratches and masses of black chalk, of different densities and depths, with here and there a streak and blot of white, and others of red. There does not appear to be any defined objects, such as a tree, house, figure, &c.; but when viewed as a whole, at a distance hanging on the wall of the room, each of them appears to be a landscape representing morning and evening, in which the dark and light of the sky, and the foreground, hills, trees, towers, &c., could be made out by the fancy, in the smallest space of time allowed for the imagination to come into play; and then the effect is surprisingly good. Wolcot became fond of art, eminently critical and learned in its elements, sketched many favourite places in Devonshire and Cornwall, and dabbled occasionally in oils.

He settled in London, obtained a Scotch diploma of M.D., and began to practise as a physician. In 1767, Sir William Trelawney was appointed Governor of Jamaica, and Wolcot, who had some connection with the family, accompanied him to that island as his physician, and he was appointed Physician-General. The Governor's regard for his lively medical friend was so great, that he intended to procure[462] his appointment as Governor of the Mosquito territory; but the retirement from office of his best friend, Lord Shelburne, prevented its accomplishment.

Wolcot's practice in Jamaica was not extensive; the whites were not numerous, and the coloured could not pay. Governor Trelawney, however, thinking he could promote Wolcot's interest more effectually by his patronage in the Church, having then a valuable living in his gift likely to become vacant by the severe illness of the incumbent, he recommended his client to return to England, enter holy orders, and return and take possession. Although the Governor had no very sublime ideas of priesthood, it was the only way he had of serving the wit. "Away, then," he said, "to England, get yourself japanned. But remember not to return with the hypocritical solemnity of a priest. I have just bestowed a good living on a parson, who believes not all he preaches, and what he really believes he is afraid to preach. You may very conscientiously declare," said the conscientious Governor to his admiring pupil, "that you have an internal call, as the same expression will equally suit a hungry stomach and the soul." Having accomplished this praiseworthy object, the rev. (M.D.) doctor returned to his patron for induction; but "between the cup and the lip there is many a slip," for the ailing incumbent, whose living the doctor sought, became convalescent, proved a very incumbrance in his path, and the japanned medico was fain to take up with the living of Vere, a congregation exclusively of blacks, which he handed over to a curate, his real employment being master of ceremonies to the Governor. On his death, Wolcot returned to England with Lady Trelawney; and to carry on the metaphor, the black lobster was boiled, and came out in scarlet and gold.—(Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, vol. vii. pp. 381-383.)

The next twelve years of Wolcot's life were spent in attempting to establish himself as a physician in Cornwall, in which he failed, apparently on account of his invincible[463] propensity to live as a practical humorist, and satirize his neighbours. He humorously tells us that the clinking of the bell-metal pestle and mortar seemed to him to say, "Kill 'em again, kill 'em again," and so frightened him from the profession. During his residence at Truro, some songs of his composition were set to music by Mr. W. Jackson, of Exeter, and first introduced him to general notice. In 1778, he published his first composition in that peculiar style which not long after obtained for him such a high and continued popularity—The Epistle to the Reviewers. At Truro, Wolcot discovered the genius of the self-taught artist, Opie, and with him came to London in 1780, they agreeing to share the joint profits of their adventure for one year. They did so for that term, when Opie told Wolcot he might return to the country, as he could now do for himself. Wolcot appears not to have contributed anything to the joint profits. There was now a split between the poet and the brushman. Opie would not, for he could not, praise Wolcot's sketches and paintings. "I tell ee, ye can't paint," said the blunt and honest Opie; "stick to the pen." This advice was too much for "the distant relation of the Poet of Thebes" to receive from "a painting ape," and the feud was never healed. The Doctor scarified and lanced, but Opie, in a more quiet way, was quite a match for the satirist, who, as he said:—

"Sons of the brush, I'm here again,
At times a Pindar, a Fontaine,
Casting poetic pearl (I fear) to swine."

Wolcot was the friend and pupil of Wilson, our great landscape painter, whose style he used to imitate not unsuccessfully. In his addenda to Pilkington's Dictionary of Painters, he pays due honour to the memory of his old friend, Wilson.

Wolcot now betook himself to his pen for support. His satirical and artistic tastes suggested his first publication, "Lyric Odes to the Royal Academicians for 1782, by Peter[464] Pindar Esq., a distant relation of the Poet of Thebes, and Laureate to the Royal Academy," which took the town by surprise, by the reckless daring of their personalities and quaintness of style. Thus he flayed the R.A.'s—from West to Dance, and from Chambers to Wyatt—not forgetting their Royal patron, King George III. In Ode III. of the second series, entitled More Odes to the Royal Academicians, after complaining that Gainsborough had kicked Dame Nature out of doors, he turns from the picture he censures to another, and exclaims:—

"Speak, Muse, who form'd that matchless head?
The Cornish boy,[43] in tin-mines bred;
Whose native genius, like his diamonds, shone
In secret, till chance brought him to the sun.[44]
'Tis Jackson's portrait—put the laurel on it,
Whilst to that tuneful swan I pour a sonnet."

Peter then drops the lash, resumes his neglected lyre, and pours out a sonnet to "Jackson of Exeter," worthy of the twain—the "enchanting harmonist and the lyric bard."

Peter's poems were very dear to the purchaser, being printed in thin quarto pamphlets, at 2s. 6d. each, and very little letter-press for the money. After the Royal Academicians, Peter attacked King George III. In 1785, Wolcot produced no less than twenty-three odes. In 1786, he published the Lousiad, a Heroic Comic Poem, founded on the fact that an obnoxious insect (either of the garden or the body) had been discovered on the King's plate of some green peas, which produced a solemn decree that all the servants in the Royal kitchen were to have their heads shaved. In the hands of an unscrupulous satirist, like Wolcot, this ridiculous incident was a stinging theme. He also mercilessly quizzed Boswell, the biographer of Johnson. Sir Joseph Banks was another subject of his satire:—


"A President, on butterflies profound,
Of whom all insect-mongers sing the praises,
Went on a day to catch the game profound,
On violets, dunghills, violet-tops, and daisies," &c.

From 1778 to 1808, above sixty of these political pamphlets were issued by Wolcot. So formidable was he considered, that the Ministry, as he alleged, endeavoured to bribe him to silence; he also boasted that his writings had been translated into six different languages. His ease and felicity, both of expression and illustration, are remarkable. In the following terse and lively lines, we have a good caricature sketch of Dr. Johnson's style.

"I own I like not Johnson's turgid style,
That gives an inch the importance of a mile;
Casts of manure a wagon-load around,
To raise a simple daisy from the ground.
Uplifts the club of Hercules—for what?
To crush a butterfly or brain a gnat!
Creates a whirlwind from the earth, to draw
A goose's feather, or exalt a straw!
Sets wheels on wheels in motion—such a clatter,
To force up one poor nipperkin of water!
Bids ocean labour with tremendous roar,
To heave a cockle-shell upon the shore;
Alike in every theme his pompous art,
Heaven's awful thunder or a rumbling cart."

Sometimes Peter himself got castigated for his satire on the sovereign. Here is an amusing instance. Those who recollect the figure of the satirist in his robust upright state, and the diminutive appearance of Mr. Nollekens, the sculptor, can readily picture to themselves their extreme contrast, when the former accosted the latter one evening at his gate in Tichfield Street, nearly in the following manner:—"Why, Nollekens, you never speak to me now; pray what is the reason?" Nollekens.—"Why you have published such lies of the King, and had the impudence to send them to me; but Mrs. Nollekens burnt them, and I[466] desire you'll send no more. The royal family are very good to me, and are great friends to all artists, and I don't like to hear anybody say anything against them." Upon which the Doctor put his cane upon the sculptor's shoulders, and exclaimed, "Well said, little Nolly; I like the man who sticks to his friends; you shall make a bust of me for that!" "I'll see you d—d first," answered Nollekens; "and I can tell you this besides—no man in the Royal Academy but Opie would have painted your picture; and you richly deserved the broken head you got from Gifford in Wright's shop. Mr. Cook, of Bedford Square, showed me his handkerchief dipped in your blood; and so now you know my mind. Come in, Cerberus, come in." His dog then followed him in, and he left the Doctor at the gate, which he barred up for the night.

A severer castigation he received from a brother author. It appears that William Gifford had wielded his galled pen against the morals and poetry of Wolcot. It was so stringent and caustic that the Doctor sought his lampooner in the shop of Mr. Wright, a political publisher in Piccadilly, opposite Old Bond Street. Thither Peter repaired with a stout cudgel in hand, determined to inflict a summary and severe chastisement on his literary opponent. Gifford was a small and weak person; Wolcot was large and strengthened by passion; but he was a coward, and after a short personal struggle, was turned into the street by two or three persons then in the shop. Gifford afterwards wrote and printed An Epistle to Peter Pindar, in which he dealt out a most virulent tirade against the Doctor, who replied in A Cut at the Cobbler. Gifford had been apprenticed to a shoemaker.

As each published his own story of the transaction, the one in his own name, the other by his aide-de-camp, Mr. Wright, it may not be unamusing to recapitulate the different statements of the transaction:—

Peter Pindar.—"Determined to punish a R—— that dared to propagate a report the most atrocious, the most[467] opprobrious, and the most unfounded, I repaired to Mr. Wright's shop in Piccadilly to catch him, as I understood that he paid frequent visits to his worthy friend and publisher. On opening the shop-door I saw several people, and among the rest, as I thought, Gyffard. I immediately asked him if his name was Gyffard? Upon his reply in the affirmative, without any further ceremony, I began to cane him. Wright and his customers and his shopmen immediately surrounded me, and wrested the cane from my hand. I then had recourse to the fist, and really was doing ample and easy justice to my cause, when I found my hands all on a sudden confined behind me, particularly by a tall Frenchman. Upon this Gyffard had time to run round, and with his own stick, a large one too, struck me several blows on the head. I was then hustled out of the shop, and the door was locked against me. I entreated them to let me in, but in vain. Upon the tall Frenchman's coming out of the shop, I told him that he was one of the fellows that held my hands. I have been informed that his name was Peltier. Gyffard has given out as a matter of triumph that he possesses my cane, and that he means to preserve it as a trophy. Let me recommend an inscription for it:—'The cane of Justice, with which I, William Gyffard, late cobbler of Ashburton, have been soundly drubbed for my infamy.'—I am, Sir, &c., J. Wolcot."

Mr. Wright.—"Whoever is acquainted with the miscreant calling himself 'Peter Pindar,' needs not be informed, that his disregard and hatred of truth are habitual. He will not, therefore, be surprised to learn that the account this Peter has published in a morning paper is a shameless tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end.

"I was not in the shop when it happened; but I am authorized, by the only two witnesses of it, to lay before the public the following statement:—

"Mr. Giffard was sitting by the window with a newspaper in his hand, when Peter Pindar came into the shop,[468] and saying, 'Is not your name Giffard?' without waiting for an answer, raised a stick he had brought for the purpose, and levelled a blow at his head with all his force. Mr. Giffard fortunately caught the stick in his left hand, and quitting his chair, wrested it instantly from the cowardly assassin, and gave him two severe blows with it; one of which made a dreadful impression on Peter's skull. Mr. Giffard had raised the stick to strike him a third time, but seeing one of the gentlemen present about to collar the wretch, he desisted, and coolly said, 'Turn him out of the shop.' This was literally and truly all that passed.

"After Peter was turned into the street, the spectacle of his bleeding head attracted a mob of hackney-coachmen, watermen, paviours, &c., to whom he told his lamentable case, and then, with a troop of boys at his heels, proceeded to a surgeon's in St. James's Street, to have his wounds examined, after which he slunk home.—J. Wright."

Peter used to boast that he was the only author that ever outwitted or took in a publisher. His works were very popular, and produced the writer a large annual income. Walker, his publisher, in Paternoster Row, was disposed to purchase the copyrights, and print a collected edition. He first made the author a handsome offer in cash, and then an annuity. The poet drove a hard bargain for the latter, and said that "as he was very old and in a dangerous state of health, with a d—d asthma and stone in the bladder, he could not last long." The publisher offered 200l. a year; the Doctor required 400l. and every time the Doctor visited the Row, he coughed violently, breathed apparently in much pain, and acted the incurable invalid in danger so effectively that the publisher at last agreed to pay him 250l. annually for life. A collected edition of his works was printed in 1812, but it is defective, for they were so numerous that the author could not retain them all in his memory. An imperfect list in the Annual Biography for 1819 enumerates no less than sixty-four works. One of the portraits of[469] the Doctor was published as a separate print, which did not sell to any extent; but its publisher derived a great profit by taking out the name of Peter Pindar and substituting that of "Renwick Williams the Monster," who was infamous for stabbing women in the street. This incident was told to Mr. Britton by Wolcot himself.

There is a fashion in the burlesque poetry of every age that is palatable to the public of that age only. The subjects of Wolcot's verses were ephemeral, and are now mostly forgotten. But his popularity was not entirely earned by his audacious personalities. His versification is nervous, his language racy and idiomatic, his wit often genuine; and through all his puns and quaintnesses there runs a strain of strong manly sense. Wolcot was equal to Churchill as a satirist, as ready and versatile in his powers, and possessed of a quick sense of the ludicrous, as well as a rich vein of fancy and humour. Some of his songs and effusions are tender and pleasing. Burns greatly admired his ballad of "Lord Gregory," and wrote another on the same subject. After all his biting satires on George III. and Pitt, he accepted a pension from the administration of which Pitt was the head—not to laud it, but to vituperate its opponents. He had a shrewd intellect, and his literary compositions have the finish of an artist; but he was utterly selfish, and was a self-indulgent voluptuary.

Peter lived to the age of eighty-one, much to the annoyance of his publisher, Walker. His last abode was in a small house in Montgomery's nursery-gardens, which occupied the site of the north side of Euston Square. Here he dwelt in a secluded, cheerless manner, the victim of an asthma, very deaf, and almost entirely blind, with only a female servant to attend him. His mind, however, retained its full power. He lived only for himself; declined dinner invitations, "to avoid the danger of loading his stomach with more than Nature required;" lay in bed the greater part of his time, because "it would be folly in him to be groping[470] around his drawing-room," and because, "when up and in motion he was obliged to carry a load of eleven or twelve stone, while here he had only a few ounces of blanket to support." When out of bed, he amused himself with his violin, or examining, as well as his sight permitted, his crayons and pictures. He showed no aversion to "receive notoriety-hunters," who came to see and hear "Peter Pindar," but evinced no desire for society.

John Britton, who lived in Burton Street, often went to see Peter on a Saturday afternoon, and there met Mr. John Taylor, editor of the Sun newspaper. This gentleman was an inveterate and reckless punster, and often teased Peter by some pointless puns. At one of these visits, on taking leave, Taylor exclaimed, pointing to Peter's head and rusty wig, "Adieu! I leave thee without hope, for I see Old Scratch has thee in his claws." Peter died in the above house, January 14th, 1810, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Paul, Covent Garden, close to the grave of Butler. He left a considerable property to his relations. In early life he lived in the same parish, at No. 13, Tavistock Row; and in the garret of this house he wrote many of his invectives against George III. and the Royal Academicians. In 1807, he lodged in the first floor of a house in Pratt Place, Camden Town, rented by a Mr. and Mrs. Knight. The husband was a sea-faring man, seldom at home; and the Doctor, who was not over-scrupulous, is said to have seduced the wife's affections. Knight brought an action against the Doctor, but the jury very properly acquitted him of the charge.—See Cunningham's London, p. 409.

Peter was not emulous to shine as a wit in his colloquial intercourse, either with strangers or his most intimate associates. Indeed, his usual manner exhibited so little of that character which strangers had imagined of the writer of his lively satires, that they were commonly disappointed. The wife of a player, at whose house Wolcot often passed an evening, used to say that "his wit seems to lie in the bowl[471] of a teaspoon." Angelo, in his Reminiscences, tells us that he could not guess the riddle, until one evening he observed that each time Peter replenished his glass goblet with brandy-and-water, in breaking the sugar, the corners of his lips were curled into a satisfactory smile, and he began some quaint story, as if, indeed, the new libation begot a new thought. To prove the truth of the discovery, one night, after supper, at his own home in Bolton Row, Angelo made the experiment. One of the party being in the secret, and fond of practical joking, came provided with some small square pieces of alabaster. Peter's glass waning fast, the joker contrived to slip the alabaster into a sugar-basin provided for the purpose; when the Doctor, reaching the hot water, and pouring in the brandy, the sugar-tongs were handed to him, and then the advanced basin of alabaster. "Thank you, my boy," said Peter, putting in five or six pieces, and taking his teaspoon, began stirring as he commenced his story. Unsuspicious of the trick, Peter proceeded, "Well, sirs,—and so the old parish priest. What I tell you (then his spoon was at work) happened when I was in that infernally hot place, Jamaica (then another stir). Sir, he was the fattest man on the island (then he pressed the alabaster); yes, d——, sir, and when the thermometer, at ninety-five, was dissolving every other man, this old slouching, drawling son of the church got fatter and fatter, until, sir—(curse the sugar! some devil-black enchanter has bewitched it.) By ——, sir, this sugar is part and parcel of that old pot-bellied parson—it will never melt;" and he threw the contents of the tumbler under the grate. The whole party burst into laughter, and the joke cut short the story. The mock sugar was slipped out of the way, and the Doctor, taking another glass, never suspected the frolic.

Peter, on seeing West's picture of Satan in the Exhibition, broke out in the following couplet:—

"Is this the mighty potentate of evil?
'Tis damn'd enough, indeed, but not the Devil."


The Author of "Dr. Syntax."

Dr. Syntax's Tour in Search of the Picturesque was a large prize in the lottery of publication and was also a novelty in origin and writing. It was written to a set of designs instead of the designs being made to illustrate the poet: in other words, the artist preceded the author by making a series of drawings, in which he exhibited his hero in a succession of places, and in various associations, calculated to exemplify his hobby-horsical search for the picturesque. Some of these drawings, made by Rowlandson, than whom no artist ever expressed so much with so little effort, were shown at a dinner-party at John Bannister's, in Gower Street, when it was agreed that they should be recommended to Ackermann, in the Strand, for publication. That gentleman readily purchased, and handed them, two or three at a time, to William Combe, who was then confined in the King's Bench Prison for debt. He fitted the drawings with rhymes, and they were first published in the Poetical Magazine, where they became so popular that they extended to three tours in as many volumes, and passed through several editions. The work reminds one of Drunken Barnaby's Journal by its humour: it has been called "rhyming, rambling, rickety, and ridiculous," but by a very inexperienced critic. The illustrations were, doubtless, the attraction, which was so great, that the demand kept pace with the supply. Hence Syntax was succeeded by the Dance of Life, the Dance of Death, Johnny Quægenus, and Tom Raw the Griffin, all of the same class and character, and ultimately extending to 295 prints, with versified letter-press "by Dr. Syntax." Of late years these works have been republished at reduced prices.

Combe, the author of these strange works was of good family connection, had been educated at Eton and Oxford, and very early came into possession of a large fortune, in ready money. He started in the world by taking a large mansion at the west end of London, furnished it superbly[473] hired servants, and bought carriages, and assembled around him a set of sycophants and parasites, who made short work of it, for from the commencement to the drop-scene of the farce did not exceed one year. The consequence was disgraceful ruin, and Combe fled from his creditors and from society. We next hear of him as a common soldier, and recognized at a public-house with a volume of Greek poetry in his hand. He was relieved; but he still lived a reckless life, by turns in the King's Bench Prison and the Rules, the limits of which do not appear to have been to him much punishment. Horace Smith, who knew Combe, refers to the strange adventures and the freaks of fortune of which he had been a participator and a victim: "a ready writer of all-work for the booksellers, he passed all the latter portion of his time within the Rules, to which suburban retreat the present writer was occasionally invited, and never left without admiring his various acquirements, and the philosophical equanimity with which he endured his reverses." Mr. Smith further states, that if there was a lack of matter occasionally to fill up the columns of their paper, "Combe would sit down in the publisher's back-room and extemporize a letter from Sterne at Coxwould, a forgery so well executed that it never excited suspicion." Mr. Robert Cole, the antiquary, had among his autographs a list of the literary works and letters of Combe.

Combe was principally employed by Ackermann, who, for several years, paid him at least 400l. a-year. On the first lithograph stone which Mr. Ackermann printed, when he had prepared everything for working, Combe wrote:—

"I have been told of one
Who, being asked for bread,
In its stead
Return'd a stone.
"But here we manage better.
The stone we ask
To do its task,
And it returns in every letter."

"William Combe, Jan. 23, 1817."


Combe was often a guest at Ackermann's table; he proved a friend to him during his last illness, and contributed to the expenses of his funeral, tomb, &c. Subsequent to his death, in 1823, a small volume was published, entitled Letters to Marianne, said to have been written by him after the age of seventy, to a young girl. We remember to have visited him in the Rules, near New Bethlem Hospital, when we learnt that he had written a memoir of his chequered life. Campbell, in his Life of Mrs. Siddons, states that Combe lived nearly twenty years in the King's Bench, and never quitted that prison; which is not correct. Combe had nearly been Mrs. Siddons's reading preceptor.

Rowlandson, who designed the Syntax illustrations, was as improvident as Combe: he had a legacy of 7,000l., and other property, bequeathed to him by an aunt: this he dissipated in the gaming-houses of Paris and London, where he alternately won and lost without emotion several thousand pounds. When penniless, he would return to his professional duties, sit down coolly to make a series of new designs, and exclaim stoically, "I've played the fool, but (holding up his pencils) here is my resource." To Rowlandson, as well as Combe, Ackermann proved a warm and generous patron and employer.

Dr. Doran, in his piquant Notes to the Last Journals of Horace Walpole, tells us that "Combe burst on the world as a wonderfully well-dressed beau, and was received with éclat for the sake of his wealth, talents, grace, and personal beauty. He was popularly called 'Count Combe,' till his extravagance had dissipated a noble fortune; and then, addressing himself to literature, the Count was forgotten in the Author. In the Gentleman's Magazine for May, 1862, there is a list of his works, originally furnished by his own hand. Not one was published with his name, and they amount in number to sixty-eight. Combe was a teetotaller in the days when drunkenness was in fashion, and was remarkable for disinterestedness and industry. He was the[475] friend of Hannah More, whom he loved to make weep by improvised romances, in which he could 'pile up the agony' with wonderful effect. Religious faith and hope enabled William Combe to triumph over the sufferings of his latter years. His second wife, the sister of the gentle and gifted Mrs. Cosway, survived him."

Horace Walpole, 1779, speaking of the poem, The World as it Goes, describes it as "by that infamous Combe, the author of the Diabolical. It has many easy poetic lines, imitates Churchill, and is fully as incoherent and absurd in its plan as the worst of the latter's."

Again, in 1778, Walpole describes "Combe" as "a most infamous rascal, who had married a cast mistress of Lord Beauchamp, and wrote many satiric poems not quite despicable for the poetry, but brutally virulent against that Lord, and others, particularly Lord Irnham." But, as Dr. Doran aptly observes, "Walpole however fond of satire, hated satirists, particularly when they were fearless and outspoken, like Combe."

Mrs. Radcliffe and the Critics.

It is singular that although Mrs. Radcliffe's beautiful descriptions of foreign scenery, composed solely from the materials afforded by travellers, collected and embodied by her own genius, were marked in a particular degree with the characteristics of fancy portraits, yet many of her contemporaries conceived them to be exact descriptions of scenes which she had visited in person. One report transmitted to the public by the Edinburgh Review, stated that Mr. and Mrs. Radcliffe had visited Italy; that Mr. Radcliffe had been attached to one of the British embassies in that country; and that it was here his gifted consort imbibed the taste for picturesque scenery, and for mouldering ruins, and for the obscure and gloomy anecdotes which tradition relates of their former inhabitants. This is so far a mistake, as Mrs.[476] Radcliffe never was in Italy; but it has been mentioned, in explanation, that she probably availed herself of the acquaintance she formed in 1793 with the magnificent scenery on the banks of the Rhine, and the frowning remains of feudal castles with which it abounds. The inaccuracy of the reviewer is of no great consequence; but a more absurd report found its way into print, namely, that Mrs. Radcliffe, having visited the fine old Gothic mansion of Haddon House, had insisted upon remaining a night there, in the course of which she had been inspired with all that enthusiasm for Gothic residences, hidden passages, and mouldering walls, which marks her writings. Mrs. Radcliffe, we are assured, never saw Haddon House; and although it was a place excellently worth her attention, and could hardly have been seen by her without suggesting some of those ideas in which her imagination naturally revelled, yet we should suppose the mechanical aid to invention—the recipe for fine writing—the sleeping in a dismantled and unfurnished old house, was likely to be rewarded with nothing but a cold, and was an affectation of enthusiasm to which Mrs. Radcliffe would have disdained to have recourse.

These are the opinions of Sir Walter Scott; appended to them are these somewhat depreciatory remarks made by Dunlop, in his History of Fiction:—

"In the writings of Mrs. Radcliffe there is a considerable degree of uniformity and mannerism, which is perhaps the case with all the productions of a strong and original genius. Her heroines too nearly resemble each other, or rather they possess hardly any shade of difference. They have all blue eyes and auburn hair—the form of each of them has 'the airy lightness of a nymph'—they are all fond of watching the setting sun, and catching the purple tints of evening, and the vivid glow or fading splendour of the western horizon. Unfortunately they are all likewise early risers. I say unfortunately, for in every exigency Mrs. Radcliffe's heroines are provided with a pencil and paper, and the sun[477] is never allowed to rise nor set in peace. Like Tilburina in the play, they are 'inconsolable to the minuet in Ariadne,' and in the most distressing circumstances find time to compose sonnets to sunrise, the bat, a sea-nymph, a lily, or a butterfly."

The tenor of Mrs. Radcliffe's private life seems to have been peculiarly calm and sequestered. She probably declined the sort of personal notoriety which, in London society, usually attaches to persons of literary merit; and, perhaps, no author whose works were so universally read and admired was so little personally known even to the most active of that class of people of distinction, who rest their peculiar pretensions to fashion upon the selection of literary society. Her estate was certainly not the less gracious; and it did not disturb Mrs. Radcliffe's domestic comforts, although many of her admirers believed, and some are not yet undeceived, that, in consequence of brooding over the terrors which she depicted, her reason had at length been overturned, and that the author of The Mysteries of Udolpho only existed as the melancholy inmate of a private madhouse. This report was so generally spread, and so confidently repeated in print, as well as in conversation, that the writer believed it for several years, until, greatly to his satisfaction, he learned, from good authority, that there neither was, nor ever had been, the most distant foundation for this unpleasing rumour.

A false report of another kind gave Mrs. Radcliffe much concern. In Miss Seward's Correspondence, among the literary gossip of the day, it is roundly stated that the Plays upon the Passions were Mrs. Radcliffe's, and that she owned them. Mrs. Radcliffe was much hurt at being reported capable of borrowing from the fame of a gifted sister; and Miss Seward would, no doubt, have suffered equally, had she been aware of the pain she inflicted by giving currency to a rumour so totally unfounded. The truth is, that residing at a distance from the metropolis, and living upon[478] literary intelligence as her daily food, Miss Seward was sometimes imposed upon by those friendly caterers, who were more anxious to supply her with the newest intelligence, than solicitous about its accuracy.

Mrs. Radcliffe died at her residence in Stafford Row, Pimlico, on the 7th of February, 1823; and her remains rest in the vault of the Chapel-of-ease to St. George's parish, in the Bayswater Road, facing Hyde Park.

Cool Sir James Mackintosh.

Mackintosh, a name dear to letters and philosophy, was no lawyer in the narrow-minded sense of the word, and when appointed judge at Bombay, was lamentably thrown away upon such society as he met there. Accustomed to lead in the conversations of the conversation-men of the metropolis—such as Sharp, Rogers, Dumont—he found himself transplanted among those who afforded a sad and bitter contrast. It was like Goëthe's oak-plant, with its giant fibres, compressed within the dimensions of a flower-pot. On the third day after his arrival, most forcibly was he reminded of the contrast, when one of the members of the Council, the conversation turning upon quadrupeds, turned to him and inquired what was a quadruped. It was the same sagacious Solomon who asked him for the loan of some book, in which he could find a good account of Julius Cæsar. Mackintosh jocosely took down a volume of Lord Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, in which mention is made of a Sir Julius Cæsar, Master of the Rolls in the time of Charles the First. The wiseacre actually took the book home with him, and after some days brought it back to Sir James, remarking that he was disappointed on finding that the book referred to Julius Cæsar only as a lawyer, without the slightest mention of his military exploits.

Sir James was subject to certain Parson Adams-like habits of forgetfulness of common things and lesser proprieties; and this brought down upon him no slight share[479] of taunt and ridicule. It happened, on his arrival at Bombay, that there was no house ready for his reception, and it would be a fortnight before a residence in the fort could be prepared for him. Mr. Jonathan Duncan, the Governor of the Presidency, therefore, with great kindness, offered him his garden-house, called Sans Pareil, for the temporary accommodation of Sir James and his family. But months and months elapsed, till a twelvemonth had actually revolved; Mackintosh and his wife, during all this time, found themselves so comfortable in their quarters, that they forgot completely the limited tenure on which they held them, appearing by a singular illusion, not to have the slightest suspicion of Mr. Duncan's proprietorship, notwithstanding some pretty intelligible hints on the subject from that gentleman, but communicated with his usual delicacy and politeness. At last, politeness and delicacy were out of the question, and the poor Governor was driven to the necessity of taking forcible possession of his own property. This was partly indolence, partly absence of mind in Sir James. He was constitutionally averse to every sort of exertion, and especially that of quitting any place where he found himself comfortable.

Before he went out to India, he made a trip into Scotland with his lady; and having taken up his abode for the night at an inn in Perthshire, not far from the beautiful park of Lord Melville (then Mr. Dundas) sent a request to Lady Jane Dundas (Mr. Dundas being absent) for permission to see the house and grounds, which was most civilly granted. Mr. Dundas being expected in the evening, her ladyship politely pressed them to stay for dinner, and to pass the night, their accommodation at the inn, not being of the best description. Mr. Dundas returned the same day, and though their politics were as adverse as possible, was so charmed with the variety of Mackintosh's conversation, that he requested his guests to prolong their visit for two or three days. So liberal, however, was the interpretation they put upon the invitation, that the two or three days were protracted[480] into as many months, during which, every species of hint was most ineffectually given, till their hosts told them, with many polite apologies, that they expected visitors and a numerous retinue, and could no longer accommodate Mr. and Mrs. Mackintosh.

During Sir James Mackintosh's Recordership of Bombay, a singular incident occurred. Two Dutchmen having sued for debt two English officers, Lieutenants Macguire and Cauty, these officers resolved to waylay and assault them. This was rather a resolve made in a drunken excitement than a deliberate purpose. Fortunately, the Dutchmen pursued a different route from that which they had intended, and they prosecuted the two officers for the offence of lying-in-wait with intent to murder. They were found guilty, and brought up for judgment. Previous to his pronouncing judgment, however, Sir James received an intimation that the prisoners had conceived the project of shooting him as he sat on the bench, and that one of them had for that purpose a loaded pistol in his writing-desk. It is remarkable that the intimation did not induce him to take some precautions to prevent its execution—at any rate, not to expose himself needlessly to assassination. On the contrary, the circumstances only suggested the following remarks:—"I have been credibly informed that you entertained the desperate project of destroying your own lives at that bar, after having previously destroyed the judge who now addresses you. If that murderous project had been executed, I should have been the first British judge who ever stained with his blood the seat of justice. But I can never die better than in the discharge of my duty." All this eloquence might have been spared. Macguire submitted to the judge's inspection of his writing-desk, and showed him that, though it contained two pistols, neither of them was charged. It is supposed to have been a hoax—a highly mischievous one, indeed—but the statement was primâ facie so improbable, that it was absurd to give it the slightest credit.


"Peter Porcupine." W. Cobbett.

"Peter Porcupine." W. Cobbett.

Eccentricities of Cobbett.

Cobbett began his career a political writer of ultra-Conservative stamp. He first became known to the public as "Peter Porcupine," under which name he fiercely attacked the democratic writers and speakers of France and America. He was then resident in America, and encountered one or two trials at law for alleged libels, in his defence of monarchical and aristocratic institutions. The Porcupine[482] Papers attracted much notice in England, were quoted and lauded by the government organs—quoted in both Houses of Parliament, and eulogized in the pulpit. The writer was considered one of the most powerful supports of the principles of the British constitution. This series of papers was republished in England, in twelve volumes octavo, under the patronage of the Prince Regent, to whom, it is believed, the work was dedicated.

On his return from America, Cobbett began a daily paper called the Porcupine. This was soon discontinued, and he began the Register. Both these papers were strongly in favour of the government; and the Register ran through several volumes before a change took place in the political opinions of the editor—a change hastened, if not caused, by an affront offered him by William Pitt. Windham was a great admirer of Cobbett, and after reading one of his Porcupine papers, declared that the author was "worthy of a statue in gold." Pitt had refused to meet the author of the Register at Windham's table; and this Cobbett resented, and never forgave. Very soon after this, a marked change took place in his politics; henceforth he was more consistent, and the last Register which came from his pen, very shortly before his death, breathed the same spirit which he had shown years before as one of the leaders of the democratic party.

One of Cobbett's oddities was the wood-cut of a gridiron which for many years headed the Political Register, as an emblem of the martyrdom which he avowed he was prepared to undergo, upon certain conditions. The gridiron will be recollected as one of the emblems of St. Lawrence, and we see it as the large gilt vane of one of the City churches dedicated to the saint.

As he was broiled on a gridiron for refusing to give up the treasures of the church committed to his care, so Cobbett vowed that he would consent to be broiled upon certain terms, in his Register, dated Long Island, on the[483] 24th of September, 1819, wherein he wrote the well-known prophecy on Peel's Cash Payments Bill of that year as follows:—"I, William Cobbett, assert that to carry their bill into effect is impossible; and I say that if this bill be carried into full effect, I will give Castlereagh leave to lay me on a gridiron, and broil me alive, while Sidmouth may stir the coals, and Canning stand by and laugh at my groans."

On the hoisting of the gridiron on the Register, he wrote and published the fulfilment of his prophecy in the following statement:—"Peel's bill, together with the laws about small notes, which last were in force when Peel's bill was passed; these laws all taken together, if they had gone into effect, would have put an end to all small notes on the first day of May, 1823; but to precede this blowing-up of the whole of the funding system, an act was passed, in the month of July, 1822, to prevent these laws, and especially that part of Peel's bill which put an end to small Bank of England notes, from going into full effect; thus the system received a respite; but thus did the parliament fulfil the above prophecy of September, 1819."

A large sign-gridiron was actually made for Mr. Cobbett. It was of dimensions sufficient for him to have lain thereon (he was six feet high); the implement was gilt, and we remember to have seen it in his office-window, in Fleet Street; but it was never hoisted outside the office. It was long to be seen on the gable-end of a building next Mr. Cobbett's house at Kensington.

Cobbett possessed extraordinary native vigour of mind; but every portion of his history is marked by strange blunders. Shakspeare, the British Museum, antiquities, posterity, America, France, Germany, are, one and all, either wholly indifferent to him, or objects of his bitter contempt. He absurdly condemned the British Museum as "a bundle of dead insects;" abused drinking "the immortal memory" as a contradiction of terms; and stigmatized "consuming the[484] midnight oil" as cant and humbug. His political nicknames were very ludicrous: as big O for O'Connell; Prosperity Robinson for a flaming Chancellor of the Exchequer; and shoy-hoy for all degrees of quacks and pretenders. Still, his own gridiron was a monstrous piece of quackery, as audacious as any charlatan ever set up.

When he had a subject that suited him, he is said to have handled it not as an accomplished writer, but "with the perfect and inimitable art with which a dog picks a bone." Still, his own work would not bear this sort of handling—witness the biting critique upon his English grammar, which provoked the remark that he would undertake to write a Chinese grammar.

In country or in town, at Barn Elms, in Bolt Court or at Kensington, Cobbett wrote his Registers early in the morning: these, it must be admitted, had force enough; for he said truly, "Though I never attempt to put forth that sort of stuff which the intense people on the other side of the Channel call eloquence, I bring out strings of very interesting facts; I use pretty powerful arguments; and I hammer them down so closely upon the mind, that they seldom fail to produce a lasting impression." This he owed, doubtless, to his industry, early rising, and methodical habits.

Cobbett affected to despise all acquirements which he had not. In his English Grammar he selects examples of bad English from the writings of Dr. Johnson and Dr. Watts, and is very contemptuous on "what are called the learned languages;" but he would not have entered upon Latin or Greek.

It seemed to be Cobbett's aim to keep himself fresh in the public eye by some means of advertisement or other; a few were very reprehensible, but none more than his disinterring the bones of Thomas Paine, buried in a field on his own estate near New Rochelle, and bringing these bones to England, where, Cobbett calculated, pieces of them would[485] be worn as memorials of the gross scoffer. Cobbett, however, never more widely mistook English feeling: instead of arousing, as he expected, the enthusiasm of the republican party in this country, he only drew upon himself universal contempt.

Heber, the Book-Collector.

There have been many instances of the indulgence of book collecting to the extent which is termed book-madness; but none more remarkable than that of Mr. Richard Heber, half-brother to the celebrated Bishop of Calcutta of the same name. Mr. Heber inherited property which permitted him to spend immense sums in the purchase of books; and he received an education which enabled him to appreciate the books when purchased. He was not therefore, strictly speaking, a bibliomaniac, and nothing more, though his exertions in collecting amounted to eccentricities. He would make excursions from the family seats in Yorkshire and Shropshire to London, to attend book sales; and when the termination of the war in 1815 opened the Continent to English travellers, Heber visited France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and made large purchases of books in each country. He cared for nothing but books. He kept up a correspondence with all the great dealers in old books throughout the kingdom. On hearing of a curious book, he was known to have put himself into a mail-coach, and travelled three or four hundred miles to obtain it, fearful to entrust his commission to any agent. He was known to say seriously to his friends, on their remarking on his many duplicates, "Why, you see, sir, no man can do comfortably without three copies of a work. One he must have for a show copy, and he will, probably, keep it at his country-house. Another he will require for his use and reference; and, unless he is inclined to part with this, which is very inconvenient, or risk the injury of his best copy, he must needs have a third at the service of his friends."


Mr. Hill Burton, in his Book-hunter, relates the following incident of Heber's experience in the rarity-market. A celebrated dealer in old books was passing a chandler's shop, where he was stopped by a few filthy old volumes in the window. One of them he found to be a volume of old English poetry, which he—a practised hand in that line—saw was utterly unknown as existing, though not unrecorded. Three and sixpence was asked; he stood out for a half-a-crown, on first principles, but, not succeeding, he paid the larger sum, and walked away, book in pocket, to a sale, where the first person he saw was Heber. Him the triumphant bookseller drew into a corner, with "Why do you come to auctions to look for scarce books, when you can pick up such things as this in a chandler's shop for three and sixpence?" "Bless me, ——, where did you get this?" "That's tellings! I may get more there." "——, I must have this." "Not a penny under thirty guineas!" A cheque was drawn, and a profit of 17,900 per cent. cleared by the man who had his eyes about him, in whose estimation such a sum was paltry compared with the triumph over Heber.

Mr. Heber's taste strengthened as he grew older. Not only was his collection of old English literature unprecedented, but he brought together a larger number of fine copies of Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese books than had ever been possessed by a private individual. His house at Hodnet, in Shropshire, was nearly all library. His house in Pimlico (where he died in 1833) was filled with books from top to bottom: every chair, table, and passage containing "piles of erudition." A house in York Street, Westminster, was similarly filled. He had immense collections of books in houses rented merely to contain them, at Oxford, Paris, Antwerp, Brussels, and Ghent. When he died, curiosity was naturally excited to know what provision he had made in reference to his immense store of books; but when his will was discovered,[487] after a long and almost hopeless search among bills, notes, memoranda, and letters, it was found, to the astonishment of every one on reading it, that the library was not even mentioned! It seemed as if Heber cared nothing what should become of the books, or who should possess them, after his decease; and as he was never married, or influenced greatly by domestic ties, his library was considered by the executors of his will as merely so much "property," to be converted into cash by the aid of the auctioneer. What was the number of books possessed by him or the amount of money paid for them, appears to have been left in much doubt. Some estimated the library at 150,000 volumes, formed at a cost of 100,000l.; others reckoned it at 500,000 volumes, at an aggregate value of 250,000l. The truth was, his executors did not know in how many foreign towns his collections of books were placed. Thus it could not accurately be ascertained what portion of the whole was sold by auction in London in 1834-6; but the mere catalogue of that portion fills considerably more than two thousand printed octavo pages. The sales were conducted by Mr. Evans, Messrs. Sotheby, and other book-auctioneers, and occupied two hundred and two days, extending through a period of upwards of two years from April 10, 1834, to July 9, 1836. One copy of the catalogue has been preserved, with marginal manuscript notes, relating to almost every lot; and from this a summary of very curious information is deducible. It appears that, whatever may have been the number of volumes sold by auction, or otherwise got rid of abroad, those sold at this series of auctions in London were 117,613 in number, grouped into 52,672 lots. As regards the ratio borne by the prices obtained, to those which Mr. Heber had paid for the books in question, the account as rendered showed that the auctioneer's hammer brought 56,775l. for that which had cost 77,150l. It would appear, therefore, that the losses accruing to Mr. Heber's estate through his passion for book-collecting, amounted to upwards[488] of 20,000l., and this irrespective of the fate of the continental libraries.

Sir John Soane Lampooned.

Sir John Soane, who bequeathed to the country his Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields, which cost him upwards of 50,000l., was the son of a bricklayer, and was born at Reading in 1753; he was errand-boy to Dance, the architect, and subsequently his pupil. He rose to great eminence, grew rich and liberal; he gave for Belzoni's elaborate sarcophagus in the Soane Museum, 2,000 guineas; paid large sums for art rarities; subscribed 1,000l. for the Duke of York's monument, was contended with his knighthood, and declined to receive a baronetcy. Yet he was a man of overweening vanity, and was much courted by legacy-hunters; whilst his alienation from his son assisted in raising up many enemies, in addition to those which Soane's remarkable success brought against him. From the latter section may have proceeded the following curious and popular squib of the day, said to have been found under the plates at one of the artistic or academic dinners. It is headed:—

"The Modern Goth.

"Glory to thee, great Artist! soul of taste!
For mending pigsties where a plank's misplaced:
Whose towering genius plans from deep research
Houses and temples fit for Master Birch
To grace his shop on that important day,
When huge twelfth-cakes are raised in bright array.
Each pastry pillar shows thy vast design—
Hail! then, to thee, and all great works of thine.
Come, let me place thee, in the foremost rank,
With him whose dullness discomposed the bank;
[A line illegible.]
Thy style shall finish what his style begun.
Thrice happy Wren! he did not live to see
[489] The dome that's built and beautified by thee.
Oh! had he lived to see thy blessed work,
To see plaster scored like loins of pork;
To see the orders in confusion move:
Scrolls fixed below, and pedestals above:
To see defiance hurled at Rome and Greece,
Old Wren had never left the world in peace.
Look where I will, above, below, is shown
A pure disordered order of thine own;
Where lines and circles curiously unite,
A base, confounded, compound Composite:
A thing from which, in truth it may be said,
Each lab'ring mason turns abash'd his head;
Which Holland reprobates, and Dance derides,
Whilst tasteful Wyatt holds his aching sides.
Here crawl, ye spiders! here, exempt from cares,
Spin your fine webs above the bulls and bears!
Secure from harm enjoy the charnell'd niche:
No maids molest you, for no brooms can reach;
In silence build from models of your own,
But never imitate the works of Soane!"

Soane is described by his biographer as "one of the vainest and most self-sufficient of men, who courted praise and adulation from every person and source, but dreaded, and was even maddened by, anything like impartial and discriminating criticism." But he grew so disgusted with his flatterers, that a short time before his death he shut himself up in a house at Richmond, to get out of the way of their attentions.


Jedediah Buxton. Ætat. 49.

Jedediah Buxton. Ætat. 49.

Numeros memini. Virgil.

Extraordinary Calculators.

On the 3rd of July, 1839, some of the eminent members of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, including MM. Arago, Lacroix, Libri, and Sturm, met to examine a remarkable boy whose powers of mental calculation were deemed quite inexplicable. This boy, named Vito Mangiamele, a Sicilian, was the son of a shepherd, and was about eleven years old. The examiners asked him several questions which they knew, under ordinary circumstances, to be tedious of solution—such as, the cube root of 3,796,416, and the 10th root of 282,475,249; the first of these he answered in half-a-minute,[491] the second in three minutes. One question was of the following complicated character—"What number has the following proportions, that if its cube is added to 5 times its square, and then 42 times the number, and the number 42 be subtracted from the result, the remainder is equal to 0 or zero." M. Arago repeated this question a second time, but while he was finishing the last word, the boy replied—"The number is 5!"

In the same year, Master Bassle, who was only thirteen years of age, went through an extraordinary mnemonic performance at Willis's Rooms, London. Five large sheets of paper, closely printed with tables of dates, specific gravities, velocities, planetary distances, &c., were distributed among the visitors, and every one was allowed to ask Master Bassle a question relating to these tables, to which was received a correct answer. He would also name the day of the week on which any day of the month had fallen in any particular year. He could repeat long series of numbers backwards and forwards, and point out the place of any number in the series; and to prove that his powers were not merely confined to the rows of numbers in the printed tables, he allowed the whole company to form a long series, by contributing each two or three digits in the order in which they sat; and then, after studying this series for a few minutes, he committed it to memory, and repeated it entire, both backwards and forwards, from the beginning to the end. These performances are believed to have been not the result of any natural mnemonic power, but of a method to be acquired by any person in the course of twelve lessons.

Zerah Colburn, who excited much interest in London in 1812, was a native of Vermont, in the United States. At six years old, he suddenly showed extraordinary powers of mental calculation. By processes which seemed to be almost unconscious to himself, and were wholly so to others, he answered arithmetical questions of considerable difficulty. When eight years old, he was brought to[492] London, where he astonished many learned auditors and spectators by giving correct solutions to such problems as the following: raise 8 up to the 16th power; give the square root of 106,929; give the cube root of 268,336,125; how many seconds are there in 48 years? The answers were always given in very few minutes—sometimes in a few seconds. He was ignorant of the ordinary rules of arithmetic, and did not know how or why particular modes of process came into his mind. On one occasion, the Duke of Gloucester asked him to multiply 21,734 by 543. Something in the boy's manner induced the Duke to ask how he did it, from which it appeared that the boy arrived at the result by multiplying 65,202 by 181, an equivalent process; but why he made this change in the factors, neither he nor any one else could tell. Zerah Colburn was unlike other boys also in this, that he had more than the usual number of toes and fingers; a peculiarity observable also in his father and in some of his brothers.

An exceptional instance is presented in the case of Mr. Bidder, of this faculty being cultivated to a highly useful purpose. George Parker Bidder, when six years old, used to amuse himself by counting up to 100, then to 1,000, then to 1,000,000: by degrees he accustomed himself to contemplate the relations of high numbers, and used to build up peas, marbles, and shot, into squares, cubes, and other regular figures. He invented processes of his own, distinct from those given in books on arithmetic, and could solve all the usual questions mentally more rapidly than other boys with the aid of pen and paper. When he became eminent as a civil engineer, he was wont to embarrass and baffle the parliamentary counsel on contested railway bills, by confuting their statements of figures almost before the words were out of their mouths. In 1856, he gave to the Institution of Civil Engineers an interesting account of this singular arithmetical faculty—so far, at least, as to show that memory has less to do with it than is generally supposed; the[493] processes are actually worked out seriatim, but with a rapidity almost inconceivable.

The most famous calculator in the last century was Jedediah Buxton, who, in 1754, resided for several weeks at St. John's Gate, Smithfield. This man, though he was the son of a schoolmaster, and the grandson of the vicar of his native parish, Elmeton, in Derbyshire, had never learned to write, but he could conduct the most intricate calculations by his memory alone; and such was his power of abstraction that no noise could disturb him. One who had heard of his astonishing ability as a calculator, proposed to him for solution the following question:—In a body whose three sides measure 23,145,789 yards, 5,642,732 yards, and 54,965 yards, how many cubical eighths-of-an-inch are there? This obtuse reckoning he made in a comparatively short time, although pursuing the while, with many others, his labours in the fields. He could walk over a plot of land and estimate its contents with as much accuracy as if it had been measured by the chain. His knowledge was, however, limited to figures. In 1754, Buxton walked to London, with the express intention of obtaining a sight of the King and Queen, for beyond figures, royalty formed the only subject of his curiosity. In this intention he was disappointed: he was, however, introduced to the Royal Society, whom he called the "volk of the Siety Court." They tested his powers, and dismissed him with a handsome gratuity.

He was next taken by his hospitable entertainer at St. John's Gate, to see Garrick in the character of Richard III. at Drury Lane Theatre, when undazzled by the splendour of the stage appointments, and unmoved by the eloquent passion of the actor, the simple rustic employed himself in reckoning the number of words he heard, and the sum total of the steps made by the dancers; and after the performance of a fine piece of music, he declared that the innumerable sounds had perplexed him.

To these feats may be added the following:—Buxton[494] multiplied a sum of thirty-nine places of figures into itself and even conversed whilst performing it. His memory was so great, that he could leave off and resume the operation at the distant period of a week, or even several months. He said that he was drunk once with reckoning by memory from May 17 until June 16, and then recovered after sleeping soundly for seven hours. The question which occupied him so intensely was the reduction of a cube of upwards of 200,000,000 of miles into barleycorns, and then into hairs'-breaths of an inch in length. He kept an account of all the beer which he had drunk for forty years, which was equal to five thousand one hundred and sixteen pints: of these two thousand one hundred and thirty-two were drunk at the Duke of Kingston's and only ten at his own house.

There was a portrait of Buxton at Rufford Abbey, Nottinghamshire. A print of him was engraved in the Gentleman's Magazine, June, 1754, with this subscription: "Jedediah Buxton. Ætat. 49.—Numeros memini. Virgil." He was married and had several children, and died at the age of 70, in the year 1777.

Charles Lamb's Cottage at Islington.

In a very pleasant paper on "Ideal Houses," in No. 4 of the Cornhill Magazine, we find this clever sketch of a few of the amiable eccentricities of our famous Essayist, Charles Lamb:—

"I believe," says the contributor, "more in the influence of dwellings upon human character than in the influence of authority on matters of opinion. The man may seek the house, or the house may form the man; but in either case the result is the same. A few yards of earth, even on this side of the grave, will make all the difference between life and death. If our dear old friend, Charles Lamb, was now alive (and we must all wish he was, if only that he might see[495] how every day is bringing him nearer the crown that belongs only to the Prince of British Essayists), there would be something singularly jarring to the human nerves in finding him at Dalston, but not so jarring in finding him a little farther off at Hackney. He would still have drawn nourishment in the Temple and in Covent Garden; but he must surely have perished if transplanted to New Tyburnia. I cannot imagine him living at Pentonville (I cannot, in my uninquiring ignorance, imagine who Penton was, that he should name a ville?), but I can see a certain appropriate oddity in his cottage at Colebrook Row, Islington.

Colebrook Cottage.

Colebrook Cottage.

"In the first place, we may agree that this London suburb is very odd, without going into the vexed question of whether it was very 'merry.' In the second place, this[496] same Colebrook Row was built a few years before our dear old friend was born—I believe, in 1770. In the third place, it was called a 'Row,' though 'Lane' or 'Walk' would have been as old and as good; but 'Terrace' or 'Crescent' would have rendered it unbearable. The New River flowed calmly past the cottage walls—as poor George Dyer found to his cost—bringing with it fair memories of Isaak Walton and the last two centuries. The house itself had also certain peculiarities to recommend it. The door was so constructed that it opened into the chief sitting-room; and this, though promising much annoyance, was really a source of fun and enjoyment to our dear old friend. He was never so delighted as when he stood on the hearth-rug receiving many congenial visitors as they came to him on the muddiest-boot and the wettest-of-umbrella days. His immediate neighbourhood was also peculiar.

"It was there that weary wanderers came to seek the waters of oblivion. Suicide could pitch upon no spot so favourable for its sacrifice as the gateway leading into the river inclosure before Charles Lamb's cottage. Waterloo Bridge had not long been built, and was not then a fashionable theatre for self-destruction. The drags were always kept ready in Colebrook Row, at a small tavern a few doors from the cottage. The landlord's ear, according to his own account, had become so sensitive by repeated practice, that when aroused at night by a heavy splash in the water, he could tell by the sound whether it was an accident or a wilful plunge. He never believed that poor George Dyer tumbled in from carelessness, though it was no business of his to express an opinion on the matter. After the eighth suicide within a short period, Charles Lamb began to grow restless.

"'Mary,' he said to his sister, 'I think it's high time we left this place;' and so they went to Edmonton."


Thomas Hood.

This remarkable man of genius whose wit and humour entitle him to high rank in English literature, was born in 1798, in the Poultry, London, where his father was, for many years, acting partner in the firm of Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, extensive booksellers and publishers. "There was a dash of ink in my blood," he writes: "my father wrote two novels, and my brother was decidedly of a literary turn, to the great disquietude, for a time, of an anxious parent." Thomas Hood was sent to a school in Tokenhouse Yard, in the City, as a day-boarder. The two maiden sisters, who kept the school, and with whom Hood took his dinner, had the odd name of Hogsflesh, and they had a sensitive brother, who was always addressed as "Mr. H.," and who subsequently became the prototype of Charles Lamb's unsuccessful farce, called "Mr. H."

In 1812, Hood was sent to a day-school, his account of which is as follows:—"In a house formerly a suburban seat of the unfortunate Earl of Essex, over a grocer's shop, up two pair of stairs, there was a very select day-school, kept by a decayed Dominie, as he would have been called in his native land. In his better days, when my brother was his pupil, he had been master of one of those wholesale concerns in which so many ignorant men have made fortunes, by favour of high terms, low ushers, gullible parents, and victimized little boys. Small as was our college, its principal maintained his state, and walked gowned and covered. His cap was of faded velvet, of black, or blue, or purple, or sad-green, or, as it seemed, of altogether, with a sad nuance of brown; his robe of crimson damask lined with the national tartan. A quaint, carved, high-backed elbowed article, looking like an émigré from a set that had been at home in an aristocratical drawing-room under the ancien régime, was his professional chair, which, with his desk, was appropriately elevated on a dais some inches above the common floor.[498] From this moral and material eminence he cast a vigilant yet kindly eye over some dozen of youngsters: for adversity, sharpened by habits of authority, had not soured him, or mingled a single tinge of bile with the peculiar red-streak complexion so common to the wealthier natives of the north...." "In a few months, my education progressed infinitely farther than it had done in as many years under the listless superintendence of B.A. and LL.D. and assistants. I picked up some Latin, was a tolerable grammarian, and so good a French scholar, that I earned a few guineas—my first literary fee—by revising a new edition of Paul et Virginie for the press. Moreover, as an accountant, I could work a summum bonum, that is, a good sum."

Young Hood finished his education at Wanostrocht's Academy at Camberwell; and removed thence to a merchant's counting-house in the City, where he realized his own inimitable sketch of the boy "Just set up in Business:"—

"Time was I sat upon a lofty stool,
At lofty desk, and with a clerkly pen
Began each morning at the stroke of ten
To write in Bell and Co.'s commercial school,
In Warnford Court, a shady nook and cool,
The favourite retreat of merchant men;
Yet would my quill turn vagrant even then,
And take stray dips in the Castalian pool.
Now double entry—now a flowery trope—
Mingling poetic honey with trade wax:
Blogg, Brothers—Milton—Grote and Prescott—Pope—
Bristles and Hogg—Glyn, Mills, and Halifax—
Rogers and Towgood—Hemp—the Bard of Hope—
Barilla—Byron—Tallow—Burns, and Flax."

In 1824, Hood, after having contributed to some periodicals at Dundee in 1821, obtained the situation of sub-editor of the London Magazine. "My vanity," says he, "did not rashly plunge me into authorship, but no sooner was there a[499] legitimate opening than I jumped at it, à la Grimaldi, head foremost, and was speedily behind the scenes."

Mr. Hood's first work was anonymous—his Odes and Addresses to Great People—a little, thin, mean-looking foolscap sub-octavo of poems with nothing but wit and humour (could it want more?) to recommend it. Coleridge was delighted with the work, and taxed Charles Lamb by letter with the authorship.

His next work was A Plea for the Midsummer Fairies, a serious poem of infinite beauty, full of fine passages and of promise; it obtained praise from the critics, but little favour from the public; and Hood's experience of the unpleasant truth that

"Those who live to please must please to live,"

induced him to have recourse again to his lively vein. He published a second and third series of Whims and Oddities, and in 1829 commenced the Comic Annual, and it was continued nine years. It proved very profitable; it was a small, widely-printed volume, with rough woodcuts drawn by Hood, who had been some time on probation with Sands and Le Keux, the engravers. Several thousand copies were sold annually, as the publishers' ledgers show. Then came out the comic poem of The Epping Hunt, which, Hood tells us, "was penned by an underling at the Wells, a person more accustomed to riding than writing," as shown in this epistle:—"Sir,—Abouut the Hunt. In anser to your Innqueries, their as been a great falling off latterally, so much so this year that there was nobody allmost. We did a mear nothing provisionally, hardly a Bottle extra, which is as proof in Pint. In short our Hunt may be sad to be in the last Stag of a Decline. Bartholomew Rutt." Next appeared The Dream of Eugene Aram, with this note: "The late Admiral Burney went to school at an establishment where the unhappy Eugene Aram was usher subsequent to his crime. The Admiral stated that Aram was generally[500] liked by the boys; and that he used to discourse to them about murder in somewhat of the spirit which is attributed to him in this poem." The poem is exquisitely written throughout, and is sometimes little less than sublime.

In the spring of 1831, Hood became the occupier of Lake House, near Wanstead; and while residing here, he wrote his novel of Tylney Hall, in which the characters are exuberant with wit and humour, but the plot is defective. Hood next published Hood's Own; or, Laughter from Year to Year, a volume of comic lucubrations, reprinted, "with an infusion of New Blood for General Circulation." He next went to the Continent for the benefit of his health. When in Belgium, he published his Up the Rhine, constructed on the groundwork of Humphrey Clinker. The work consists of a series of imaginary letters from a hypochondriacal old bachelor, his widowed sister, his nephew, and a servant-maid, who form the imaginary travelling party. Each individual writes to a friend in England, and describes the scenes, manners, and circumstances, in a manner suitable to the assumed character. The nephew's remarks seem to embody the opinions and observations of Hood himself. The book is illustrated with whimsical cuts in Hood's rough but effective style, and abounds in good sense as well as humour. Here is a specimen:—

"An English lady resident at Coblentz, one day wishing to order of her German servant (who did not understand English) a boiled fowl for dinner, Grettel was summoned, and that experiment began. It was one of the lady's fancies, that the less her words resembled her native tongue, the more they must be like German. So her first attempt was to tell the maid that she wanted a cheeking, or keeking. The maid opened her eyes and mouth, and shook her head. 'It's to cook,' said the mistress, 'to cook, to put in an iron thing, in a pit—pat—pot.' 'Ish understand risht,' said the maid, in her Coblentz patois. 'It's a thing to eat,' said her mistress, for dinner—for deener—with sauce, soace—sowose.'[501] No answer. 'What on earth am I to do?' exclaimed the lady, in despair, but still made another attempt. 'It's a little creature—a bird—a bard—a beard—a hen—a hone—a fowl—a fool; it's all covered with feathers—fathers—feeders!' 'Ha, ha,' cried the delighted German, at last getting hold of a catchword, 'Ja, ja! fedders—ja woh!' and away went Grettel, and in half-an-hour returned triumphantly, with a bundle of stationers' quills."

Hood afterwards became editor of the New Monthly Magazine, from which he retired in 1843. In the course of this year, public feeling had been much excited by cases of distress and destitution, which came before the London police-magistrates, arising from the excessively low rate of wages paid by dealers in ready-made linen to their workwomen. Taking advantage of a market overstocked with labourers, these tradesmen got their work done for a rate of payment so small that fourteen or fifteen hours' labour were frequently required in order to obtain sixpence! Hood's sympathy was excited, and "The Song of the Shirt" was the result—"a burst of poetry and indignant passion by which he produced tears almost as irrepressibly as in other cases he produced laughter." "The Song of the Shirt" was sent to a comic periodical, but was refused insertion; it has, however, been sung through the whole length and breadth of the three kingdoms.

Our author's last periodical was Hood's Magazine, which he continued to supply with the best of its contributions till within a month before his death. It contained a novel, which was interrupted by his last illness and death; the last chapters were, in fact, written by him when he was propped up by pillows in bed. He had the consolation, a short time before his death, of having a Government pension of 100l. a-year, which was offered him by Sir Robert Peel, in the following noble and touching