Eighteenth Century Vignettes by Dobson, Austin
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EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VIGNETTES
By Austin Dobson
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION OF 1892.
|Sixteen of the twenty papers comprised in this volume appeared in America; but only one of these--'The Citizen of the World'--has been reprinted in England. Of the four papers remaining, one was published (in part) in the _Saturday Review_, and the other three in _Longman's Magazine_, the _National Review_, and the _Library_ respectively. Where permission to reprint was required, it has been obtained; and it is hereby gratefully acknowledged.
With the exception of the last two, which are more general in character than the rest, the papers are now chronologically arranged. They do not by any means exhaust the list of subjects originally drawn up by their writer for the kind of episodical treatment at which they aim; and should these first experiments find a public, it is not impossible that they may be followed by a further collection.
|The first series of 'Eighteenth Century Vignettes' was succeeded in 1894 by a second, and in 1896 by a third series. The second and third series were printed at the Chiswick Press; the first was printed from American plates. In issuing a second and revised edition of this first series, it has been thought desirable to print the book in England. It has also been extended by a further paper--'At Leicester Fields.' This originally appeared in the _English Illustrated Magazine_ for August, 1886, but has now been corrected to date and very materially enlarged.
I. EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VIGNETTES.
|ON the 19th of May, 1708, Her Majesty Queen Anne being then upon the throne of Great Britain and Ireland, a coach with two horses, gaudy rather than neat in its appointments, drew up at the door of my Lord Sunderland's Office in Whitehall. It contained a lady about thirty, of considerable personal attractions, and dressed richly in cinnamon satin. She was a brunette, with a rather high forehead, the height of which was ingeniously broken by two short locks upon the temples. Moreover, she had distinctly fine eyes, and a mouth which, in its normal state, must have been arch and pretty, but was now drawn down at the corners under the influence of some temporary irritation. As the coach stopped, a provincial-looking servant promptly alighted, pulled out from the box-seat a large case of the kind used for preserving the voluminous periwigs of the period, and subsequently extracted from the same receptacle a pair of shining new shoes with square toes and silver buckles. These, with the case, he carried carefully into the house, returning shortly afterwards. Then ensued what, upon the stage, would be called 'an interval' during which time the high forehead of the lady began to cloud visibly with impatience, and the corners of her mouth to grow more ominous. At length, about twenty minutes later, came a sound of laughter and noisy voices; and by-and-by bustled out of the Cockpit portal a square-shouldered, square-faced man in a rich dress, which, like the coach, was a little showy. He wore a huge black full-bottomed periwig. Speaking with a marked Irish accent, he made profuse apologies to the occupant of the carriage--apologies which, as might be expected, were not well received. An expression of vexation came over his good-tempered face as he took his seat at the lady's side, and he lapsed for a few minutes into a moody silence. But before they had gone many yards, his dark, deep-set eyes began to twinkle once more as he looked about him. When they passed the Tilt-Yard a detachment of the Second Troop of Life Guards, magnificent in their laced red coats, jack boots, and white feathers, came pacing out on their black horses. They took their way towards Charing Cross, and for a short distance followed the same route as the chariot. The lady was loftily indifferent to their presence; and she was, besides, on the further side of the vehicle. But her companion manifestly recognized some old acquaintances among them, and was highly gratified at being recognized in his turn, although at the same time it was evident he was also a little apprehensive lest the 'Gentlemen of the Guard,' as they were called, should be needlessly demonstrative in their acknowledgment of his existence. After this, nothing more of moment occurred. Slowly mounting St. James's Street, the coach turned down Piccadilly, and, passing between the groups of lounging lackeys at the gate, entered Hyde Park. Here, by the time it had once made the circuit of the Ring, the lady's equanimity was completely restored, and the gentleman was radiant. He was, in truth, to use his own words, 'no undelightful Companion.' He possessed an infinite fund of wit and humour; and his manner to women had a sincerity of deference which was not the prevailing characteristic of his age.
There is but slender invention in this little picture. The gentleman was Captain Steele, late of the Life Guards, the Coldstreams, and Lucas's regiment of foot, now Gazetteer, and Gentleman Waiter to Queen Anne's consort, Prince George of Denmark, and not yet 'Mr. Isaac Bickerstaff' of the immortal 'Tatler.' The lady was Mrs. Steele, _née_ Miss Mary Scurlock, his 'Ruler' and 'absolute Governesse' (as he called her), to whom he had been married some eight months before. If you ask at the British Museum for the Steele manuscripts (Add. MSS. 5,145, A, B, and C), the courteous attendant will bring you, with its faded ink, dusky paper, and hasty scrawl, the very letter making arrangements for this meeting ('best Periwigg' and 'new Shoes' included), at the end of which the writer assures his 'dear Prue' (another pet name) that she is 'Vitall Life to YT Oblig'd Affectionate Husband & Humble Sernt Richd Steele.' There are many such in the quarto volume of which this forms part, written from all places, at all times, in all kinds of hands. They take all tones; they are passionate, tender, expostulatory, playful, dignified, lyric, didactic. It must be confessed that from a perusal of them one's feeling for the lady of the chariot is not entirely unsympathetic. It can scarcely have been an ideal household, that 'third door right hand turning out of Jermyn Street,' to which so many of them are addressed; and Mrs. Steele must frequently have had to complain to her _confidante_, Mrs. (or Miss) Binns (a lady whom Steele is obviously anxious to propitiate), of the extraordinary irregularity of her restless lord and master. Now a friend from Barbados has stopped him on his way home, and he will come (he writes) 'within a Pint of Wine;' now it is Lord Sunderland who is keeping him indefinitely at the Council; now the siege of Lille and the proofs of the 'Gazette' will detain him until ten at night. Sometimes his vague 'West Indian business' (that is, his first wife's property) hurries him suddenly into the City; sometimes he is borne off to the Gentleman Ushers' table at St. James's. Sometimes, even, he stays out all night, as he had done not many days before the date of the above meeting, when he had written to beg that his dressing-gown, his slippers, and 'clean Linnen' might be sent to him at 'one Legg's,' a barber 'over against the Devill Tavern at Charing Crosse,' where he proposes to lie that night, chiefly, it has been conjectured from the context, in order to escape certain watchful 'shoulder-dabbers' who were hanging obstinately about his own mansion in St. James's. For--to tell the truth--he was generally hopelessly embarrassed, and scarcely ever without a lawsuit on his hands. He was not a bad man; he was not necessarily vicious or dissolute. But his habits were incurably generous, profuse, and improvident; and his sanguine Irish nature led him continually to mistake his expectations for his income. Naturally, perhaps, his 'absolute Governesse' complained of an absolutism so strangely limited. If her affection for him was scarcely as ardent as his passion for her, it was still a genuine emotion. But to a coquette of some years' standing, and 'a cried-up beauty' (as Mrs. Manley calls her), the realities of her married life must have been a cruel disappointment; and she was not the woman to conceal it. 'I wish,' says her husband in one of his letters, 'I knew how to Court you into Good Humour, for Two or Three Quarrells more will dispatch me quite.' Of her replies we have no knowledge; but from scattered specimens of her style when angry, they must often have been exceptionally scornful and unconciliatory. On one occasion, where he addresses her as 'Madam,' and returns her note to her in order that she may see, upon second thoughts, the disrespectful manner in which she treats him, he is evidently deeply wounded. She has said that their dispute is far from being a trouble to her, and he rejoins that to him any disturbance between them is the greatest affliction imaginable. And then he goes on to expostulate, with more dignity than usual, against her unreasonable use of her prerogative. 'I Love you,' he says, 'better than the light of my Eyes, or the life-blood in my Heart but when I have lett you know that, you are also to understand that neither my sight shall be so far inchanted, or my affection so much master of me as to make me forgett our common Interest. To attend my businesse as I ought and improve my fortune it is necessary that my time and my Will should be under no direction but my own.' Clearly his bosom's queen had been inquiring too closely into his goings and comings. It is a strange thing, he says, in another letter, that, because she is handsome, he must be always giving her an account of every trifle, and minute of his time. And again--'Dear Prue, do not send after me, for I shall be ridiculous:' It had happened to him, no doubt. 'He is governed by his wife most abominably, as bad as Marlborough,' says another contemporary letter-writer. And we may fancy the blue eyes of Dr. Swift flashing unutterable scorn as he scribbles off this piece of intelligence to Stella and Mrs. Dingley.
In the letters which follow Steele's above-quoted expostulation, the embers of misunderstanding flame and fade, to flame and fade again. A word or two of kindness makes him rapturous; a harsh expression sinks him to despair. As time goes on, the letters grow fewer, and the writers grow more used to each other's ways. But to the last Steele's affectionate nature takes fire upon the least encouragement. Once, years afterwards, when Prue is in the country and he is in London, and she calls him 'Good Dick,' it throws him into such a transport that he declares he could forget his gout, and walk down to her at Wales. 'My dear little peevish, beautiful, wise Governess, God bless you,' the letter ends. In another he assures her that, lying in her place and on her pillow, he fell into tears from thinking that his 'charming little insolent might be then awake and in pain'-.with headache. She wants flattery, she says, and he flatters her. 'Her son,' he declares, 'is extremely pretty, and has his face sweetened with something of the Venus his mother, which is no small delight to the Vulcan who begot him.' He assures her that, though she talks of the children, they are dear to him more because they are hers than because they are his own. *
* A few sentences in this paper are borrowed from the writer's 'Life of Steele,' 1886.
And this reminds us that some of the best of his later letters are about his family. Once, at this time of their mother's absence in Wales, he says that he has invited his eldest daughter to dinner with one of her teachers, because she had represented to him 'in her pretty language that she seemed helpless and friendless, without anybody's taking notice of her at Christmas, when all the children but she and two more were with their relations.' So now they are in the room where he is writing. 'I told Betty,' he adds, 'I had writ to you; and she made me open the letter again, and give her humble duty to her mother, and desire to know when she shall have the honour to see her in town.' No doubt this was in strict accordance with the proprieties as practised at Mrs. Nazereau's polite academy in Chelsea; but somehow one suspects that 'Madam Betty' would scarcely have addressed the writer of the letter with the same boarding-school formality. 'Elsewhere the talk is all of Eugene, the eldest boy. 'Your son, at the present writing, is mighty well employed in tumbling on the floor of the room and sweeping the sand with a feather. He grows a most delightful child, and very full of play and spirit. He is also a very great scholar: he can read his Primer; and I have brought down my Virgil. He makes most shrewd remarks upon the pictures. We are very intimate friends and play-fellows.' Yes: decidedly Steele's children must have loved their clever, faulty, kindly father.
II. PRIOR'S 'KITTY.'
|IN the year 1718, and presumably after Mr. Matthew Prior had already printed his tall and extremely miscellaneous _folio_ of 'Poems on Several Occasions,' there was published separately a little _jeu d'esprit_ by the same 'eminent Hand,' which has not been regarded as the least fortunate of his efforts. In its first fugitive form, now so rare as to be known only to a few highly-favoured collectors, it is a single page or leaf of eight quatrains; and of this there are two issues, both attributing the verses to Prior, both claiming to be authentic, both unauthorised. The earlier, which is dated, is headed 'Upon Lady _Katherine H--des_ first appearing at the _Play-House_ in _Drury-Lane_;' the other, 'from Curll's chaste press,' bears the title of 'The Female Phaeton,' by which the piece is now known. The person indicated was the second daughter of Henry Hyde, Earl of Clarendon and Rochester, and the grandchild of the great Lord Chancellor and historian of the Rebellion. As she was born in 1700, she must at this time have been eighteen. She was 'beautiful,' says the poet; 'she was wild as Colt untam'd;' she was, besides,=
```'Inflam'd with Rage at sad Restraint,
````Which wise Mamma ordain'd.'=
Her elder sister, Jane--the 'blooming _Hide,_ with Eyes so rare,' of whom John Gay had sung in the 'Prologue' to 'The Shepherd's Week'--was already married to the Earl of Essex. Why should not She, too, be a Toast, and 'bring home Hearts by Dozens'?=
```'Dearest Mamma, for once let me,
````Unchain'd, my Fortune try;
```I'll have my Earl, as well as She,
````Or know the Reason why.'=
And so the stanzas, eternally human and therefore eternally modern, dance and sparkle to their natural ending:=
```'Fondness prevail'd, Mamma gave way;
````Kitty, at Heart's Desire,
```Obtains the Chariot for a Day,
````And set the World on Fire.'=
Apart from the reference to Drury Lane Theatre supplied by the title, there is no clue to the incident recorded. But two years after Prior wrote these playful verses, which were sent to the lady through Mr. Harcourt, Catherine Hyde verified her poet's words by securing a suitor of even higher rank than her sister's husband. In March, 1720, she married Charles Douglas, third Duke of Queensberry, an amiable and accomplished nobleman, who, it has been hinted, must sometimes have been considerably 'exercised' by the vagaries of the charming but impetuous 'child of Nature' whom he had selected for his helpmate. Indeed, despite her ability, many of her less sympathetic contemporaries did not scruple to suggest that her Grace's eccentricities almost amounted to a touch of insanity. Bolingbroke called her '_Sa Singularité_;' Walpole spoke of her roundly as 'an out-pensioner of Bedlam.' But neither the Abbot of Strawberry nor Pope's 'guide, philosopher, and friend' had any right to set up for a Forbes-Winslow or a Brouardel; and there is in reality little more in what is related of her than might be expected of one who, at once a spoiled child, a beauty, and a woman of parts, deliberately revolted against the tyrannous conventionalities of her time. To the last she persistently declined, as she told Swift, to 'cut and curl her hair like a sheep's head,' in accordance with the reigning fashion; and she affected in her dress a simplicity and youthfulness which nothing but the good looks she contrived to retain so long, could possibly have justified. She had a fancy for idyllic travesties, appearing now as a shepherdess, now as a peasant, now as a milkmaid. *
* In this last character Charles Jervas painted her. The picture is in the National Portrait Gallery. She has hazel eyes and dark-brown hair.
Upon one occasion she scandalized the court-usher soul of Horace Walpole by masquerading at St. James's in a costume of red flannel. As a rule, she carried her innovations triumphantly; but now and then she was forced to yield to a will more imperative than her own. Once the fantastic old King of Rath tore off her favourite white apron in the Pump Room, flinging it contemptuously among the 'waiting gentlewomen' in the hinder benches. 'None but abigails wore white aprons,' he declared; and the grande dame _de par la monde_ made a virtue of necessity, and submitted. In her own entertainments, however, she seems to have been as despotic as Nash, insisting that people should come early and leave early, and declining to provide the profuse refreshments then expected. High-spirited and whimsical no doubt she was; but the stories told of her are probably exaggerated. Those who praise her, praise her unreservedly. Her character was unblemished. She was truthful; she was honest; she was not a flatterer. And she was certainly fearless, for she dared, even in the rudimentary epoch of the two-pronged fork, to rally the terrible Dean of St. Patrick's for that deplorable habit--so justly deprecated by the Historian of Snobs--of putting his knife in his mouth. When she saw any one 'administer the cold steel,' as Thackeray calls it, she would shriek out in affected terror lest they should do themselves a mischief. She seems, although they never really met after her girlhood, to have wholly subjugated Swift, whose final tone to her comes perilously close to that fulsome adulation which, in others, stirred his fiercest scorn. 'I will excuse your blots upon paper,' he says, writing to her after Gay death, 'because they are the only blots you ever did, or ever will make, in the whole course of your life.' Further on he refers 'to the universal, almost idolatrous esteem you have forced from every person in two kingdoms, who have the least regard for virtue.' It is her peculiar art, he tells her again, to bribe 'all wise and good men to be her flatterers.' Swift was no paragon; but the praise of Swift outweighs the sneers of Walpole.
She was the friend of men of letters--this capricious great lady, and they have judged her best. To Swift in particular it was an attraction that she loved and befriended his favourite Gay. The earlier part of the brief correspondence from which the above quotation is borrowed, shows the Duchess in her most amiable light; and it was with Gay that it originated. From the days of her marriage she had protected and petted that fat and feckless fabulist; she had championed him in the matter of his second ballad-opera in such a way as to procure her own exile from Court; and at the time she began to write to Swift, Gay was domiciled at the Duke's country house at Ambresbury, or Amesbury, near Salisbury, in Wiltshire. Gay begins by sending Swift the Duchess's 'services,' and by wishing on his own account that Swift could come to England,--could come to Amesbury. Swift replies with conventional acknowledgment of the civility of the lady, whom he had not seen since she was a girl. He hears an ill thing of her, he says'--that she is _matre pulchrâ filia pulchrior_, and he would be angry she should excel her mother (Jane Leveson Gower), who, of old, had long been his 'principal goddess.' In the letter that succeeds, the Duchess herself adds a postscript to confirm Gay's invitation. 'I would fain have you come,' she writes. 'I can't say you'll be welcome; for I don't know you, and perhaps I shall not like you; but if I do not (unless you are a very vain person), you shall know my thoughts as soon as I do myself.' No mode of address could have suited Swift's humour better; and part of his next epistle to Gay replies to her challenge in the true Swiftian style. He begins very low down on the page--'as a mark of respect, like receiving her Grace at the bottom of the stairs.' He goes on with a protest for form's sake against the imperious manner of her advances; but he argues ingeniously that she must like him, since they are both unpopular with the Queen. If he comes, 'he will,' he adds, 'out of fear and prudence, appear as vain as he can, that he may not know her thoughts of him.' His closing sentences are in Malvolio's manner. 'This is your own direction, but it was needless. For Diogenes himself would be vain, to have received the honour of being one moment of his life in the thoughts of your grace.'
After this, _les épées s'engagent_. As to the correspondence that ensued, opinions differ widely. Warton discovered 'exquisite humour and pleasantry' in Swift's 'affected bluntness,' and compares him to Voiture,--to Waller writing to Sacharissa on her marriage. Later editors are less enthusiastic, regarding the whole series of letters as 'empty, laboured, and childish on both sides.' Each of these verdicts is extreme. Swift tempering candour by compliment, is an unusual but not an impossible spectacle; while the Duchess writes exactly as one would expect her to write with Swift's fast friend at her elbow. Gay, knowing that she will probably follow him, warns Swift playfully that she has her antipathies,--that she likes her own way,--that she is very frank, and that in any dispute he must be on her side. Thereupon her Grace takes up the pen herself:
'Write I must, particularly now, as I have an opportunity to indulge my predominant passion of contradiction. I do, in the first place, contradict most things Mr. _Gay_ says of me, to deter you from coming here; which if you ever do, I hereby assure you, that, unless I like my own way better, you shall have yours; and in all disputes you shall convince me if you can. But, by what I see of you, this is not a misfortune, that will always happen; for I find you are a great mistaker. For example, you take prudence for imperiousness:'tis from this first that I determined not to like one, who is too giddy-headed for me to be certain whether or no I shall ever be acquainted with [him]. I have known people take great delight in building castles in the air; but I should choose to build friends upon a more solid foundation. I would fain know you; for I often hear more good likable things [of you] than 'tis possible any one can deserve. Pray, come, that I may find out something wrong; for I, and I believe most women, have an inconceivable pleasure to find out any faults, except their own. Mr. _Cibber_ is made poet laureate. * I am, Sir, as much your humble servant as I can be to any person I don't know.
'P.S. Mr. _Gay_ is very peevish that I spell and write ill; but I don't care: for neither the pen nor I can do better. Besides, I think you have flattered me, and such people ought to be put to trouble.'
That this fashion of writing, so new to him, should not have captivated Swift, is impossible. He could not accept the invitation; but at least he could prolong the correspondence. In his next letter he enters upon preliminaries. He is old, dull, peevish, perverse, morose. Has=
````* 'Harmonious Cibber entertains
````The Court with annual Birth-day Strains;
````Whence Gay was banish'd in Disgrace.'
`````Swift, On Poetry: a Rhapsody, 1733.=
she a clear voice?--and will she let him sit at her left hand, for his right ear is the better? Can the parson of the parish play at backgammon, and hold his tongue? Has she a good nurse among her women, in case he should fancy himself sick? How long will she maintain him and his equipage if he comes? A week or two later, in the form of another postscript to Gay, follows the reply of the Duchess:
'It was Mr. _Gay's_ fault that I did not write sooner; which if I had, I should hope you would have been here by this time; for I have to tell you, all your articles are agreed to; and that I only love my own way, when I meet not with others whose ways I like better. I am in great hopes that I shall approve of yours; for to tell you the truth, I am at present a little tired of my own. I have not a clear or distinct voice, except when I am angry; but I am a very good nurse, when people don't fancy themselves sick. Mr. _Gay_ knows this; and he knows too how to play at backgammon. Whether the parson of the parish can, I know not; but if he cannot hold his tongue, I can. Pray set out the first fair wind and stay with us as long as ever you please. I cannot name my fixed time, that I shall like to maintain you and your equipage; but if I don't happen to like you, I know I can so far govern my temper as to endure you for about five days. So come away directly; at all hazards you'd be allowed a good breathing time. I shall make no sort of respectful conclusions; for till I know you, I cannot tell what I am to you.'
And so the correspondence, always conducted on the one side by Gay and his kind protectress, or Gay and the Duke, protracts itself until arrives to Swift that fatal missive from Pope and Arbuthnot announcing Gay's sudden death,--a missive which, overmastered by a foreboding of its contents, he kept unopened for days. At a later date some further communications followed between Swift and the Duchess. But he liked best her postscripts to his dead friend's letters. 'They made up,' he told Pope unaffectedly, 'a great part of the little happiness I could have here.'
Swift survived Gay for nearly fifteen years, and the Duchess lived far into the reign of George the Third. In the changing procession of Walpole's pages one gets glimpses of her from time to time, generally emphasized by some malicious anecdote or epithet. At the coronation she returned to Court, appearing with perfectly white hair. Yet, four years before her death, Walpole says of her that (by twilight) you would sooner 'take her for a young beauty of an old-fashioned century than for an antiquated goddess of this age.' Indeed her all-conquering charms seduced him into panegyric; and one day in 1771, she found these verses on her toilet-table, wrung from her most persistent detractor:=
````'To many a Kitty, Love his car
`````Will for a day engage,
````But Prior's Kitty, ever fair,
`````Obtained it for an age!'=
She was then seventy-one. In later life she was often at her seat of Drumlanrig, in Dumfriesshire (where she was visited by Mr. Matthew Bramble and his party *); and Scott in his 'Journal,' under date of August, 1826, speaks of the 'Walk' by the river Nith which she had formed, and which still went by her name. Her peculiarities, over which her friend Mrs. Delany sighs plaintively, did not abate with age; but her kind heart remained. She died in Savile Row in 1777, of a surfeit of cherries, and was buried at Durrisdeer.
* 'Expedition of Humphrey Clinker' (Letter to Dr. Lewis, September 15).
III. SPENCE'S 'ANECDOTES.'
|WHEN, in the year 1741, after his quarrel with Gray, Horace Walpole lay sick of a quinsy at Reggio, the shearing of his thin-spun life was only postponed by the opportune intervention of a passing acquaintance. The Rev. Joseph Spence, Fellow of New College, Oxford, and Professor of Poetry to that University, then travelling in Italy as Governor to Henry Clinton, Earl of Lincoln, promptly arrived to his aid, summoned Dr. Cocchi posthaste from Florence, and thus became instrumental in enabling the Prince of Letter-Writers to expand the thirty or forty epistles he had already produced into that magnificent correspondence which, incomplete even now, * fills no fewer than nine closely printed volumes.
* For example, a number of new letters are included in vol. iii. of the privately-printed 'Letters and Journals of Lady Mary Coke,' 1889-92.
Spence, to whom all Walpole's admirers owe a lasting debt of gratitude, was one of the fortunate men of a fortunate literary age. In 1726 he had published a 'genteel' critique of Pope's 'Odyssey,' conspicuous for its courteous mingling of praise and blame, and not the less grateful to the person criticised because--as Bennot Langton said, and as good luck would have it--ten out of the twelve objections fell, upon the labours of Pope's luckless coadjutors, Broome and Fenton. The book made Pope his friend, and himself Professor of Poetry, in which capacity he patronised Thomson, and protected Queen Caroline's thresher-laureate, Stephen Duck. During the continental tours which he undertook in 1730 and 1737, and in that above referred to, he collected the material for his 'Polymetis,' a tall _folio_ on classical mythology, the earlier editions of which are now chiefly sought after for their irreverent vignette of Dr. Cooke, propositor of Eton, in the disguise of 'an ass's nowl.' Spence continued to dally lightly with letters, editing Sackville's 'Gorboduc,' annotating Virgil, writing a life of the blind poet Blacklock, and comparing (after the manner of Plutarch), for Walpole's private press at Strawberry, Mr. Robert Hill, the 'learned tailor' of Buckingham, with that Florentine _helluo librorum_, Signor Antonio Magliabecchi. He lived the mildly studious life of a quiet, easy-going clergyman of the eighteenth century, nursing a widowed mother like Pope, and declining to disturb the placid ripple of his days by the 'violent delights' of matrimony. He is 'the completest scholar,' 'the sweetest tempered gentleman breathing,' cries his enthusiastic friend, Mr. Christopher Pitt, himself a virtuoso and a translator of Homer. He is 'extremely' polite, friendly, cheerful, and master of an infinite fund of subjects for agreeable conversation,' says Mr. Shenstone of the Leasowes. 'He was a good-natured, harmless little soul, but more like a silver penny than a genius,' says ungrateful Mr. Walpole. 'He was a poor creature, though a very worthy man,' says clever Mr. Cambridge of the 'World' and the 'Scribleriad.' To strike an average between these varying estimates is not a difficult task. It gives us a character amiable rather than strong, finical rather than earnest, well-informed and ingenious rather than positively learned. For the rest, 'Polymetis' has been supplanted by Lempriere, and is as dead as Stephen Duck; and its author now lives mainly by the 'priefs' which, like Sir Hugh Evans, he made in his notebook,--in other words, by the Anecdotes of the Literary Men of his age, which, when occasion offered, he jotted down from the conversation of Pope, Young, Dean Lockier, and other notabilities into whose company he came from time to time.
The story of Spence's 'Anecdotes' is a chequered one. At their author's death they were still in manuscript, though their existence was an open secret. Joseph Warton had handselled them for his 'Essay on Pope;' and Warburton had used them for Ruffhead's 'Life.' When Spence died in 1768, it was discovered that he had himself intended to print them,--that he had, in fact, conditionally sold a selection of them to Robert Dodsley, the bookseller (whom he had formerly befriended), for a hundred pounds. But before publication was finally arranged both Spence and Robert Dodsley died. Spence's executors--Bishop Lowth, Dr. Ridley, and Mr. Rolle--thought suppression for a time desirable; and the surviving Dodsley, James, although, says Joseph Warton, 'he probably would have gained £400 or £500 by it,' was easily prevailed upon, out of regard for Spence, to relinquish the bargain. The manuscript selection was then presented by the executors to Spence's old pupil, Lord Lincoln, who had become Duke of Newcastle, while the original 'Anecdotes,' and a fair copy, remained in Bishop Lowth's possession. The Newcastle MS. was lent to Johnson, who employed it for his 'Lives of the Poets,' giving great offence to the Duke by acknowledging the loan without mentioning the name of the lender; and Malone had access to it for his Dryden, at the same time compiling from it a smaller selection, which he annotated briefly. By a series of circumstances too lengthy to detail, this last, some years after Malone's death, passed into the hands of Mr. John Murray, who published it in 1820. In the same year, and, by a curious coincidence, upon the same day, appeared another edition based upon the Lowth papers, which had also found their way into other hands. This was prefaced and annotated by Mr. S. W. Singer, and a second edition of it was issued in 1858 by J. R. Smith. Beyond these three editions of the 'Anecdotes,' there has been no other reprint but the excellent little compilation in the 'Camelot' series which the late Mr. John Underhill put forth in 1890.
As will be gathered from the above, Spence's own selection is still unpublished, and is supposed to remain in the possession of the Newcastle family. But as Malone extracted all of it that he thought worth keeping, and as Singer printed the materials on which it was based, it is not likely that its publication now, even if it were found to be practicable, would be of material interest, except to show what Spence personally regarded as deserving of preservation. With respect to the 'Anecdotes' themselves, there can be little doubt that, whatever their subsequent extension may have been, they originated in Spence's acquaintanceship with Pope; and that their first purpose was the bringing together of such dispersed data as might serve for the basis of his biography. (So much, in fact, Spence told Warburton when they were returning from Twickenham after Pope's death; and then, like the courteous, amiable 'silver penny' that he was, surrendered all his memoranda to his more pretentious companion, in whose subsequent 'Life,' for Ruffhead's 'Life of Pope' is really Warburton's, nearly every anecdote of value is derived from Spence.) From collecting Popiana to collecting _ana_ of Pope's contemporaries, would be a natural step; and it would be but a step farther to add, from time to time, such supplementary notes or _impressions de voyage_ as presented themselves, even if they had no special connection with the primary matter, which is Pope and Pope's doings. Indeed, in Singer's opinion, Spence's 'Anecdotes' already contain, not only 'a complete though brief autobiography' of the poet, but also 'the most exact record of his opinions on important topics,'--a record which is 'probably the more genuine and undisguised, because not premeditated, but elicited by the impulse of the moment.' This, as far as it relates to Pope's views on abstract literary questions, is no doubt true; but 'genuine,' 'undisguised,' and 'unpremeditated' are scarcely the epithets which modern criticism has taught us to apply to some, at least, of Pope's utterances concerning his contemporaries; and in these respects we are more exactly informed than the Oxford Professor of Poetry. Take, for instance, the well-known Wycherley correspondence. 'People have pitied you extremely,' says sympathetic Mr. Spence, who professes to speak _verbatim_, 'on reading your letters to Wycherley [i.e., the correspondence which Pope had printed]; surely 'twas a very difficult thing for you to keep well with him!' And thereupon Mr. Pope, of Twickenham and Parnassus, replies that 'it was the most difficult thing in the world;' that he was 'extremely plagued up and down, for almost two years,' with Wycherley's verses; that Wycherley was really angry at having them so much corrected; that his memory was entirely gone,--and so forth. * All of which Mr. Spence confidingly transfers to his tablets. But thanks to the publication by Mr. Courthope in 1889, from the manuscripts at Longleat, of most of Wycherley's autograph letters, we now know that the correspondence to which Spence referred had been considerably 'edited' by Pope with the view of misrepresenting his dealings with Wycherley; and there is even something more than a suspicion that he actually concocted those of Wycherley's letters for which there are no equivalent vouchers in the Marquis of Bath's collection.
* He did not tell Spence (as he might have done) that his own 'Damn with faint praise' was borrowed from the man he was decrying. 'And with faint praises one another damn,' is a line in one of Wycherley's prologues.
In any case, the real documents show clearly that, instead of resenting the amendments and alterations of his 'Deare Little Infallible,' as he calls him, the old dramatist received them with effusive gratitude; and, far from reproaching the poet for neglecting to visit him (which Pope implied), constantly delayed or postponed his own visits to Pope at Binfield;--in short, did, in reality, just the very reverse of what he is represented as doing in Pope's garbled correspondence. So that, in these worshipful _communiqués_ to Spence, Pope must simply have been playing at that eighteenth-century pastime to which Swift refers in the 'Polite Conversation' as 'Selling a Bargain.'
In Pope's life, it is to be feared, there were not a few of these equivocal mercantile transactions. He certainly imposed on Spence's credulity when he told him that 'there was a design whieh does not generally appear,' in other words, a cryptic significance, in his correspondence with Henry Cromwell. And he also, with equal certainty, disposed of 'a great Pennyworth' (in the current phrase) when he gave him the--from his own point of view--eminently plausible account of the circumstances which led to the notorious character of 'Atti-cus.' Whether Spence, who could not be said to be unwarned, since he records Addison's caution to Lady Mary against Pope's 'devilish tricks,' had any lurking suspicion that Pope was not to be relied upon, does not appear. But it is obvious that, without Spence's 'Anecdotes,' Pope's biographers would have played but a sorry figure. From Spence it is that we get the best account of Pope's precocious early years and studies; of his boyish epic of Alcander, Prince of Rhodes, with its under-water scene, and its four books of one thousand lines; of the manner of his translation of Homer and his plan for the 'Essay on Man;' and of a number of facts concerning the trustworthiness of which there can be no reasonable doubt. Nor can there be any doubt as to the bulk of his purely critical utterances. Many of these, and especially such as deal with individual authors, are now become trite and faded. However novel may have been the announcement under George the Second, we now learn without a shock of surprise that Chaucer is an unequalled taleteller, that Bacon was a great genius, that Milton's style is exotic. But, upon his own craft, Pope's axioms are still sometimes worth hearing. 'A poem on a slight subject,' he says, 'requires the greater care to make it considerable enough to be read.' 'After writing a poem one should correct it all over, with one single view at a time. Thus, for language: if an elegy, "These lines are very good, but are they not of too heroical a strain?" and so _vice versa_' 'There is nothing so foolish as to pretend to be sure of knowing a great writer by his style.' '_Nil admirari_ is as true in relation to our opinions of authors as it is in morality; and one may say, _O, admiratores, servum pecus!_ fully as justly as _O, Imitator es!_' 'The great secret how to write well is to know thoroughly what one writes about, and not to be affected.' This last, however, is scarcely more than an Horatian commonplace.
With the aid of Spence's 'Anecdotes' we gain admission to the little villa by the Thames where, during the spring of 1744, wasted by an intolerable asthma, but waiting serenely for the end, Pope lay sinking slowly. Many of his sayings, and the sayings of those who visited his sick-room, have their only chronicle in this collection. About three weeks before his death, he printed his '_Ethic Epistles,_' copies of which he gave away to different persons. 'Here am I, like Socrates,' he told Spence, 'distributing my morality to my friends, just as I am dying.' On Sunday, the 6th of May, he lost his mind for several hours,--a circumstance which sets him wondering 'that there should be such a thing as human vanity.' Already his spirit was escaping fitfully to the Unknown. There are false colours on the objects about him; he looks at everything 'as through a curtain;' he sees 'a vision.' Most of all he suffers from his inability to think. But the old love of letters still survives; he quotes his own verses; and when in his waking moments Spence reads to him the 'Daphnis and Chloe' of Longus, he marvels how the infected mind of the Regent Orleans can have relished so innocent a book. As to his condition he has no illusions. On the 15th, after having been visited by Thompson the quack, who had been treating him (as Ward treated Fielding) for dropsy, and professed to find him better, he described himself to Lyttelton as 'dying of a hundred good symptoms!' *
* This must have been a commonplace. 'Like the sick man, we are just expiring with all sorts of good symptoms,' says Swift, in the 'Conduct of the Allies,' 1711.
'On every catching and recovery of his mind,' Spence tells us, 'he was always saying something kindly either of his present or his absent friends'--'as if his humanity had outlived his understanding.' Many of the well-known figures of the day still came and went about his bedside--Bolingbroke from Battersea, tearful and melancholy, full-blown Warburton, Lyttelton above-mentioned, Marchmont, blue-eyed Martha Blount; and it was 'very observable' how the entry of the lady seemed to give him temporary strength, or a new turn of spirits. To the last he continued to struggle manfully with his malady. On the 27th, to the dismay of his friends, he had himself brought down to the room where they were at dinner; on the 28th his sedan chair was carried for three hours into the garden he loved so well, then filled with the blossoms of May and smelling of the coming summer. On the 29th he took the air in Bushey Park, and a little later in the day received the sacrament, flinging himself fervently out of bed to receive it on his knees. 'There is nothing that is meritorious, he said afterwards, 'but virtue and friendship, and indeed friendship itself is only a part of virtue.' On the next day, the 30th of May, 1774, he died. 'They did not know the exact time,' writes the faithful friend to whom we owe so many of these 'trivial, fond records,'--'for his departure was so easy that it was imperceptible even to the standers-by.'
IV. CAPTAIN CORAM'S CHARITY.
|AMONG a ragged regiment of books, very dear to their owner, but in whose dilapidated company no reputable volume would greatly care to travel through Coventry, is a sheepskin-clad tract entitled 'Mémoires Relating to the State of the Royal Navy of England, For Ten Years, Determin'd December 1688.' It dates from those antiquated days when even statistics had their air of scholarship and their motto from 'Tully' or 'the Antients' (_Quid Didcius Otio Litterato?_--it is in this case); and the year of issue is 1690. The name of the author does not appear, but his portrait by Kneller does; and he was none other than the diarist Samuel Pepys, sometime Secretary to the Admiralty under the second Charles and his successor. *
* The copy hero described also contains--but apparently only inserted by a former owner--the scroll book-plate of Pepys.
In itself the little volume is an extremely instructive one, as much from the light it throws upon the prominent part played by its writer in the reconstruction of the Caroline navy, as from its exposure of the lamentable mismanagement which permitted toad-stools as big as Mr. Secretary's fists to flourish freely in the ill-ventilated holds of his Majesty's ships-of-war. But the special attraction of the particular copy to which we are referring lies in certain faded inscriptions which it contains. On March 14, 1724, it was presented by one 'C. Jackson' to 'Tho. Coram,' by whom in turn it was transferred to a Mr. Mills, being accompanied by a holograph note which is pasted at the end: 'To Mr Mills These Worthy Sir I happend to find among my few Books, Mr Pepys, his mémoires [there has evidently been a struggle over the spelling of the name], wch I thought might be acceptable to you & therefore pray you to accept of it. I am wth much Respect Sir your most humble Scrfc Thomas Coram. June 10th, 1746.' It is not a lengthy document, but, with its unaffected wording and its simple reference to 'my few Books,' it gives a pleasant impression of the brave old mariner to whom, even at the present day, so many hapless mortals owe their all; and whose ruddy, kindly face, with its curling white hair, still beams on us from Hogarth's canvas at the Foundling.
Captain Coram must have been seventy-eight years old when he wrote the above letter, for he had been born, at Lyme Regis in Dorsetshire, as far back as 1668. Of his boyhood nothing is known; but in 1694 he was working as a shipwright at Taunton, Massachusetts. His benevolent instincts seem to have developed early, for in December, 1703, he conveyed to the Taunton authorities some fifty-nine acres of land as the site for a church or schoolhouse.
In the deed of gift he is described as 'of Boston, in New England, sometimes residing in Taunton, in the County of Bristol, Shipwright.' He also gave a library to Taunton; and, from the fact that the Common Prayer Book used in the church of that town was presented to him for the purpose by Mr. Speaker Onslow, must have been successful in enlisting in his good offices the sympathies of others. In course of time he became master of a ship; and, in 1719, a glimpse of his life, of which there are scant details, shows him being plundered and maltreated by wreckers at Cuxhaven, while a passenger on a vessel called the 'Sea Flower,' upon which occasion the affidavit describes him as 'of London, Mariner and Shipwright.' At this date he was engaged in the supply of stores to the navy. He must have prospered fairly in his calling, for he soon afterwards retired from a sea-faring fife in order to live upon his means, and occupy himself entirely with charitable objects. In the Plantations, as they were then called, he took great interest; being notably active as regards the colonization of Georgia and the improvement of the Nova Scotian cod fisheries. Lord Walpole of Wolterton (Horace Walpole's uncle), who had met him, testified warmly to his honesty, his disinterestedness, and his knowledge of his subject. Neither an educated nor a polished man (and not always a judicious one), he was indefatigable in the pursuit of his purpose, and his singleminded philanthropy was beyond the shadow of a doubt. 'His arguments,' said his intimate friend Dr. Brocklesby, 'were nervous, though not nice--founded commonly upon facts, and the consequences that he drew, so closely connected with them, as to need no further proof than a fair explanation. When once he made an impression, he took care it should not wear out; for he enforced it continually by the most pathetic remonstrances. In short, his logic was plain sense; his eloquence, the natural language of the heart.'
His crowning enterprise was the obtaining of a charter for the establishment of the Foundling Hospital. Going to and fro at Rotherhithe, where in his latter days he lived, he was constantly coming upon half-clad infants, 'sometimes alive, sometimes dead, and sometimes dying,' who had been abandoned by their parents to the mercy of the streets; and he determined to devote his energies to the procuring of a public institution in which they might find an asylum. For seventeen years, with an unconquerable tenacity, and in the face of the most obstinate obstruction, apathy, and even contempt, he continued to urge his suit upon the public, being at last rewarded by a Royal charter and the subscription of sufficient funds to commence operations. An estate of fifty-six acres was bought in Lamb's Conduit Fields for £3,500; and the building of the Hospital was begun from the plans of Theodore Jacobsen. Among its early Governors were many contemporary artists who contributed freely to its adornment, thereby, according to the received tradition, sowing the seed of the existing Royal Academy. Handel, too, was one of its noblest benefactors. For several years he regularly superintended an annual performance of the 'Messiah' in the Chapel (an act which produced no less than £7,000 to the institution), and he also presented it with an organ. Having opened informally in 1741 at a house in Hatton Garden, the Governors moved into the new building at the completion of the west wing in 1745. But already their good offices had begun to be abused. Consigning children to the Foundling was too convenient a way of disposing of them; and, even in the Hatton Garden period, the supply had been drawn, not from London alone, but from all parts of the Kingdom. It became a lucrative trade to convey infants from remote country places to the undiscriminating care of the Charity. Once a waggoner brought eight to town, seven of whom were dead when they reached their destination. On another occasion a man with five in baskets got drunk on the road, and three of his charges were suffocated. The inevitable outcome of this was that the Governors speedily discovered they were admitting far more inmates than they could possibly afford to maintain. They accordingly applied to Parliament, who voted them £10,000, but at the same time crippled them with the obligation to receive all comers. A basket was forthwith hung at the gate, with the result that on the first day of its appearance, no less than 117 infants were successively deposited in it. That this extraordinary development of the intentions of the projectors could continue to work satisfactorily was of course impossible, and great mortality ensued.
As time went on, however, a wise restriction prevailed; and the Hospital now exists solely for those unmarried mothers whose previous character has been good, and whose desire to reform is believed to be sincere. Fortunately, long before the era of what one of the accounts calls its 'frightful efflorescence'--an efflorescence which, moreover, could never have occurred under Captain Coram's original conditions--its benevolent founder had been laid to rest in its precincts. After his wife's death he fell into difficulties, and subscriptions were collected for his benefit. When this was broken to the old man--too modest himself to plead his own cause, and too proud to parade his necessity--he made, according to Hawkins, the following memorable answer to Dr. Brocklesby:
'I have not wasted the little wealth of which I was formerly possessed in self-indulgence, or vain expenses, and am not ashamed to confess, that in this my old age I am poor.'
Although the Sunday services are still well attended, Captain Coram's Charity is no longer the 'fashionable morning lounge' it was in the Georgian era, when, we are told, the grounds were crowded daily with brocaded silks, gold-headed canes, and three-cornered hats of the orthodox Egham, Staines and Windsor pattern. *
* Egham, Staines, and Windsor form a triangle. According to J. T. Smith, Alderman Boydell was one of the last who wore a hat of this type ('Book for a Rainy Day,' 1861, p. 221).
No members of the Royal Academy now assemble periodically round the historical blue dragon punch-bowl, still religiously preserved, over which Hogarth and Lambert and Highmore and the other pictorial patrons of a place must often have chirruped 'Life a Bubble,' or 'Drink and Agree,' at their annual dinners; neither is there of our day any munificent _maestro_ like Handel to present the institution with a new organ or the original score of an oratorio. But if you enter to the left of Mr. Calder Marshall's statue at the gate in Guildford Street, you shall still find the enclosure dotted with red-coated boys playing at cricket, and with girls in white caps; and in the quiet, unpretentious building itself are many time-honoured relics of its past. Here, for example, is one of Hogarth's contributions to his friend's enterprise, the 'March of the Guards towards Scotland, in the year 1745,' commonly called the 'March to Finchley'--that famous performance for which King George the Second of irate memory said he ought to be 'bicketed,' and which the artist, in a rage, forthwith dedicated to the King of _Prusia_, with one 's.' A century and a half has passed since it was executed, but it is still in excellent preservation, having of late years, for greater precaution, been placed under glass. *
* It was disposed of in 1750 by raffle or lottery. 'Yesterday,'--says the 'General Advertiser' for May 1 in that year,--'Mr. Hogarth's subscription was closed. 1843 chances being subscrib'd for, Mr Hogarth gave the remaining 107 chances to the Foundling Hospital. At two o'clock the Box was opened, and the fortunate chance was No. 1941, which belongs to the said Hospital; and the same night Mr Hogarth delivered the Picture to the Governors.'
Here, too, is the already mentioned full-length of the founder--a portrait of the masterly qualities and superb colouring of which neither McArdell's mezzotint nor Nutter's stipple gives any adequate idea. Here, again, is one of Hogarth's 'failures,' the 'Moses Brought to Pharaoh's Daughter,' which is not so great a failure after all. Certainly it compares favourably with the 'Finding of Moses' by the professed history-painter, Frank Hayman, which hangs hard by, and is an utterly bald and lifeless production. On the contrary, in Hogarth's picture, the expression in the eyes of the mother, which linger on the child as her hand mechanically receives the money, is one of those touches which make the whole world kin. Among the circular paintings of similar charities is a charming little Gainsborough of the Charterhouse, while the 'Foundling' and 'St. George's Hospital' are from the brush of Richard Wilson.
There is a dignified portrait of Handel by Kneller, which makes one wonder how the caricaturists could ever have distorted him into the 'Charming Brute;' and also a bust by Roubiliac, being the original model for the statues in Westminster Abbey and Old Vauxhall Gardens. There are autographs of Hogarth and Coram and John Wilkes the demagogue; there is a copy of his 'Christmas Stories' presented by the author, Charles Dickens; there is a case in one of the windows full of the queer, forlorn 'marks or tokens' which, in the basket days, were found attached to its helpless inmates--ivory fish, silver coins of Queen Anne or James, scraps of paper with doggerel rhymes, lockets, lottery tickets, and the like. As you pass from the contemplation of these things--a contemplation not without its touch of pathos--you peep into the church, mentally filling the empty benches in the organ loft with the singing faces and pure voices of the childish choristers, and you remember that here Benjamin West painted the altar-piece, and here Laurence Sterne preached. Once more in Guildford Street, you turn instinctively towards another thoroughfare, where lived a later writer who must often have made the pilgrimage you have just accomplished. For at No. 13 Great Coram Street was the home of William Makepeace Thackeray, and from the shadow of the Foundling, in July, 1840, he sent forth his 'Paris Sketch Book.' When, seven years later, he was writing his greatest novel, Captain Coram's Charity still lingered in his memory. It is on the wall of its church that old Mr. Osborne, of 'Vanity Fair' and Russell Square, erects his pompous tablet to his dead son: it is in the same building that, sitting 'in a place whence she could see the head of the boy under his father's tombstone,' poor Emmy feasts her hungry maternal eyes on unconscious little Georgy.
V. 'THE FEMALE QUIXOTE.'
|ONE evening in the spring of the year 1751, the famous St. Dunstan, or Devil Tavern, by Temple Bar,--over whose Apollo Chamber you might still read the rhymed 'Welcome' of Ben Jonson; whence Steele had scrawled hasty excuses to 'Prue' in Bury Street; and where Garth and Swift and Addison had often dined together,--was the scene of a remarkable literary celebration. A young married lady, not then so well-known as she afterwards became, had written a novel called the 'Life of Harriot Stuart,' which was either just published or upon the point of issuing from the press. It was her first effort in fiction; and, probably through William Strahan the printer, one of whose _employés_ she married, she had sought and obtained the acquaintance of Samuel Johnson. The great man thought very highly of her abilities: so much so, that he proposed to his colleagues at the Ivy Lane Club (the predecessor of the more illustrious Literary Club) to commemorate the birth of the book by an 'all-night sitting.' Pompous Mr. Hawkins, who tells the story, says that the guests, to the number of near twenty, including Mrs. Lenox (for that was the lady's name), her husband, and a female acquaintance, assembled at the Devil at about eight o'clock in the evening. The supper is characterised as 'elegant,' a prominent feature in it being a 'magnificent hot apple-pye,' which, because, forsooth (the 'forsooth' is Hawkins's), Mrs. Lenox was also a minor poet, her literary foster-father had caused to be stuck with bay-leaves. Besides this, after invoking the Muses by certain rites of his own invention, which should have been impressive, but are not described, Johnson 'encircled her brows' with a crown of laurel specially prepared by himself. These ceremonies completed, the company began to spend the evening 'in pleasant conversation, and harmless mirth, intermingled at different periods with the refreshments of coffee and tea.' But there must have been stronger potations as well, since the narrator, Hawkins, who had a 'raging tooth,' and is therefore excusably inexplicit, speaks of the desertion by some of those present of 'the colours of Bacchus;' and he expressly mentions the fact that Johnson, whose face, at five o'clock, 'shone with meridian splendour,' had confined himself exclusively to lemonade. By daybreak, the 'harmless mirth' was beginning to be intermingled with slumber, from which those who succumbed were only rallied with difficulty by a fresh relay of coffee. At length, when St. Dunstan's Clock was nearing eight, after waiting two hours for an attendant sufficiently wakeful to compile the bill, the company dispersed. Their symposium had been Platonic in its innocence; but to Hawkins, demoralised by toothache, and sanctimonious by temperament, their issue into the morning light of Fleet Street had all the aspect, and something of the remorse of a tardily-terminated debauch. Before he could mentally disinfect himself, he was obliged to take a turn or two in the Temple, and breakfast respectably at a coffee-house.
Although she is now forgotten, Charlotte Lenox, the heroine of these Johnsonian 'high jinks,' was once what Browning would have termed 'a person of importance in her day.' Her father, Colonel James Ramsay, was Lieutenant-Governor of New York. When his daughter was about fifteen, he sent her to England, consigning her to the charge of a relative in this country, who, by the time she reached it, was either dead or mad. Then Colonel Ramsay himself departed this life, and she was left without a protector. Lady Rockingham took her up, receiving her into her household; but an obscure love-affair put an end to their connection; and she subsequently found a fresh patroness in the Duchess of Newcastle. She must also have tried the stage, since Walpole speaks of her as a 'deplorable actress.' Her sheet anchor, however, was literature. In 1747 Paterson published a thin volume of her poems, dedicated to 'the Lady Issabella [sic] Finch,'--a volume in which she certainly 'touched the tender stops of various quills,' since it recalls most of the singers who were popular in her time. There are odes in imitation of Sappho (with one 'p'); there is a pastoral after the manner of Air. Pope; there is 'Envy, a Satire; 5 there is a versification of one of Mr. Addison's 'Spectators.5 To this maiden effort, a few years later, followed the novel above-mentioned, which is supposed to have been more or less autobiographical; then came another novel, 'The Female Quixote;' then 'Shakespeare Illustrated;' then a translation of Sully's 'Memoirs;' and then again more novels, plays, and translations. Mrs. Lenox lived into the present century, supported at the last partly from the Literary Fund, and partly by the Right Hon. George Rose, who befriended her in her latter days, and ultimately, when she died, old and very poor, in Dean's Yard, Westminster, paid the expenses of her burial. She is said--by Mr. Croker, of course--to have been 'plain in her person.' If this were so, she must have been considerably flattered in the portrait by Reynolds which Bartolozzi engraved for Harding's 'Shakespeare.' It is also stated, on the authority of Mrs. Thrale, that, although her books were admired, she herself was disliked. As regards her own sex, this may have been true; but it is dead against the evidence as regards the men. Johnson, for example, openly preferred her before Mrs. Carter, Miss Hannah More, and Miss Burney; and he never, to judge by the references in Boswell's 'Life,' wavered in his allegiance. He wrote the Dedications to 'The Female Quixote' and 'Shakespeare Illustrated;' he helped her materially (as did also Lord Orrery) in her version of Père Brumoy's 'Théâtre des Grecs;' he quoted her in the 'Dictionary;' he drew up, as late as 1775, the 'Proposals' for a complete edition of her works, and he reviewed her repeatedly. What is more, he introduced her to Richardson, by whom, upon the ground of her gifts and her misfortunes (She 'has genius,' and she 'has been unhappy,' said the sentimental little man), she was at once admitted to the inner circle of the devoted listeners at North End and Parson's-Green. Another of her admirers was Fielding, who, in his last book, the 'Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon,' calls her 'the inimitable and shamefully distress'd author of the Female Quixote.' Finally, Goldsmith wrote the epilogue to the unsuccessful comedy of 'The Sister,' which she based in 1769 upon her novel of 'Henrietta,'--an act which is the more creditable on his part because the play belonged to the ranks of that genteel comedy which he detested. A woman who could thus enlist the suffrage and secure the sendee of the four greatest writers of her day must have possessed exceptional powers of attraction, either mental or physical; and this of itself is almost sufficient to account for the lack of a corresponding enthusiasm in her own sex.
How she obtained her education, the scanty records of her life do not disclose. But it is clear that she had considerable attainments; and she obviously added to them a faculty for ingenious flattery, which, after the fashion of that day, she exhibited in her books. In her best effort, 'The Female Quixote,' there is a handsome reference to that 'admirable Writer,' Mr. Richardson; and Johnson is styled 'the greatest Genius in the present Age.' 'Rail,' she makes one of her characters say elsewhere, and painfully _à-propos de bottes_,--'Rail with premeditated Malice at the "Rambler;" and for the want of Faults, turn even its inimitable Beauties into Ridicule: The Language, because it reaches to Perfection, may be called stiff, laboured, and pedantic; the Criticisms, when they let in more light than your weak Judgment can bear, superficial and ostentatious Glitter; and because those Papers contain the finest System of Ethics yet extant, damn the queer Fellow, for over-propping Virtue;'--in all of which, it is to be feared, the bigots of this iron time will see nothing but the rankest logrolling. Yet it was not to Mrs. Lenox that Johnson said, 'Madam, consider what your praise is worth.' On the contrary, if Dr. Birkbeck Hill conjectures rightly, he wrote a not unfavourable little notice of the book in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for March, 1752,--a notice, which, if it does no more, at least compactly summarises the scheme of the story.
'Arabella,' it says (the full title is 'The Female Quixote; or, the Adventures of Arabella'), 'is the daughter of a statesman, born after his retirement in disgrace, and educated in solitude, at his castle, in a remote province. The romances which she found in the library after her mother's death, were almost the only books she had read; from these therefore she derived her ideas of life; she believed the business of the world to be love, every incident to be the beginning of an adventure, and every stranger a knight in disguise. The solemn manner in which she treats the most common and trivial occurrences, the romantic expectations she forms, and the absurdities which she commits herself, and produces in others, afford a most entertaining series of circumstances and events.' And then he goes on to quote, as coming from one equally 'emulous of Cervantes, and jealous of a rival,' the opinion which Mr. Fielding had expressed a few days earlier, in his 'Covent Garden Journal,'--an opinion which, if, as Johnson asserts, he had at this time no knowledge of the author of the book, does even more credit to his generosity than to his critical judgment. For the author of | Tom Jones' not only devotes rather more than two handsome columns to 'The Female Quixote;' but, professing to give his report of it 'with no less Sincerity than Candour,' gravely proceeds to show in what it falls short of, in what it equals, and in what it excels (!) the master-piece of which it is a professed imitation. According to him, the advantage of Mrs. Lenox in the last respect (for the others may be neglected) lies in the fact that it is more probable that the reading of romances would turn the head of a young lady than the head of an old gentleman; that the character of Arabella is more endearing than that of Don Quixote; that her situation is more interesting; and that the incidents of her story, as well as the story itself, are less 'extravagant and incredible' than those of the immortal hero of Cervantes. Finally, he sums up with the words which Johnson afterwards reproduced, in part, in the 'Gentleman's Magazine:' 'I do very earnestly recommend it, as a most extraordinary and most excellent Performance. It is indeed a Work of true Humour, and cannot fail of giving a rational, as well as very pleasing Amusement to a sensible Reader, who will at once be instructed and very highly diverted. Some Faults perhaps there may be, but these all leave the unpleasing Task of pointing them out to those who will have more Pleasure in the Office. This Caution, however, I think proper to premise, that no Persons presume to find many [He is speaking in his assumed character of Censor of Great Britain]. For if they do, I promise them the Critic and not the Author will be to blame.'
_Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli_. In spite of the verdict of Johnson and Fielding,--that is to say, in spite of the verdict of the Macaulay and Thackeray of the Eighteenth Century,--the Critic, it is to be feared, must be blamed to-day. Were Fielding alone, one might discount his opinion by assuming that he would naturally welcome a work of art which was on his side rather than on that of Richardson; but this would not account for the equally favourable opinion of Johnson. *
* Johnson had, if not a taste, at least an appetite, for the old-fashioned romances which Mrs. Lenox satirised. Once, at Bishop Percy's, he selected 'Fenxmarte of Hircania' (in folio) for his habitual reading, and he read it through religiously. Upon another occasion his choice fell upon Burke's favourite, 'Palmerin of England.' 'History as She is wrote' in 'Clelia' and 'Cleopatra;' the persistence of Arabella in finding princes in gardeners, and rescuers in highwaymen--are things not ill-invented. But repeated they pall; and not all the insistence upon her natural good sense and her personal charms, nor (as compared with such concurrent efforts as Mrs. Eliza Haywood's 'Betsy Thoughtless')
Nor could it be laid entirely to the novelty of the attempt, for 'Tom Jones' and 'Clarissa' and 'Peregrine Pickle,' masterpieces all, had by this time been written, and can still be read, which it is difficult to say of 'The Female Quixote; or, the Adventures of Arabella.' Mrs. Lenox's fundamental idea, no doubt, is a good one, although the character of the heroine has its feminine prototypes in the 'Précieuses Ridicules' of Molière and the Biddy Tipkin of Steele's 'Tender Husband.' It may be conceded, too, that some of the manifold complications which arise from her bringing every incident of her career to the touchstone of the high-falutin' romances of the Sieur de la Calprenède, and that 'grave and virtuous virgin,' Madeleine de Scudéry, are diverting enough. The lamentable predicament of the lover, Mr. Glanville, who is convicted of imperfect application to the pages of 'Cassandra,' by his hopeless ignorance of the elementary fact that the Orontes and Oroondates of that performance are one and the same person; the case of the luckless dipper into Thucydides and Herodotus at Bath who is confronted, to his utter discomfiture, with the inoffensive tone of the book itself, can reconcile us to a heroine who is unable to pass the sugar-tongs without a reference to Parisatis, Princess of Persia, or Cleobuline, Princess of Corinth;--who holds with the illustrious Mandana that, even after ten years of the most faithful services and concealed torments, it is still presumptuous for a monarch to aspire to her hand;--and who, upon the slightest provocation, plunges into tirades of this sort: 'Had you persevered in your Affection, and continued your Pursuit of that Fair-one, you would, perhaps, ere this, have found her sleeping under the Shade of a Tree in some lone Forest, as _Philodaspes_ did his admirable _Delia_, or disguised in a Slave's Habit, as _Ariobarsanes_ saw his Divine _Olympia_; or bound haply in a Chariot, and have had the Glory of freeing her, as _Ambriomer_ did the beauteous _Agione_; or in a Ship in the Hands of Pirates, like the incomparable _Eliza_; or'--at which point she is fortunately interrupted. In another place she fancies her uncle is in love with her, and thereupon, 'wiping some Tears from her fine Eyes,' apostrophises that elderly and astounded relative in this wise--'Go then, unfortunate and lamented Uncle; go, and endeavour by Reason and Absence to recover thy Repose; and be assured, whenever you can convince me you have triumphed over these Sentiments which now cause both our Unhappiness, you shall have no Cause to complain of my Conduct towards you.' There is an air of unreality about all this, which, one would think, should have impeded its popularity in its own day. In the Spain of Don Quixote it is conceivable; it is intolerable in the England of Arabella. But there are other reasons which help to account for the oblivion into which the book has fallen. One is, that by neglecting to preserve the atmosphere of the age in which it was written, it has missed an element of vitality which is retained even by such fugitive efforts as Coventry's 'Pompey the Little.' *
* This, like 'Betsy Thoughtless,' belongs to 1751.
Indeed, beyond the above-quoted references to Johnson and Richardson, and an obscure allusion to the beautiful Miss Gunnings who, at this date, divided the Talk of the Town with the Earthquake, there is scarcely any light thrown upon contemporary life and manners throughout the whole of Arabella's history. Another, and a graver objection (as one of her critics, whose own admirable 'Amelia' had been but recently published, should have known better than any one) is that, in spite of the humour of some of the situations, the characters of the book are colourless and mechanical. Fielding's Captain Booth and his wife, Mrs. Bennet and Serjeant Atkinson, Dr. Harrison and Colonel Bath are breathing and moving human beings: the Glanvilles and Sir Charleses and Sir Georges of Mrs. Charlotte Lenox are little more than shrill-voiced and wire-jointed 'High-Life' puppets.
VI. FIELDING'S 'VOYAGE TO LISBON.'
|NOT far from where these lines are written, on the right-hand side of the road from Acton to Ealing stands a house called Ford-hook. Shut in by walls, and jealously guarded by surrounding trees, it offers itself but furtively to the incurious passer-by. Nevertheless, it has traditions which might well give him pause. Even in this century, it enjoyed the distinction of belonging to Lady Byron, the poet's wife; and in its existing drawing-room, 'Ada, sole daughter of my house and heart,' was married to William, Earl of Lovelace. But an earlier and graver memory than this lingers about the spot. More than one hundred and forty-three years ago, on a certain Wednesday in June, the cottage which formerly occupied the site was the scene of one of the saddest leave-takings in literature. On this particular day had gathered about its door a little group of sympathetic friends and relatives, who were evidently assembled to bid sorrowful good-bye to some one, for whom, as the clock was striking twelve, a coach had just drawn up. Presently a tall man, terribly broken and emaciated, but still wearing the marks of dignity and kindliness on his once handsome face, made his appearance, and was assisted, with some difficulty (for he had practically lost the use of his limbs), into the vehicle. An elderly, homely-looking woman, and a slim girl of seventeen or eighteen, took their seats beside him without delay; and, amid the mingled tears and good wishes of the spectators, the coach drove off swiftly in the direction of London. The sick man was Henry Fielding, the famous novelist; his companions, his second wife and his eldest daughter. He was dying of a complication of diseases; and, like Peterborough and Doddridge before him, was setting out in the forlorn hope of finding life and health at Lisbon. Since Scott quoted them in 1821, the words in which his journal describes his departure have been classic:
'_Wednesday, June_ 26, 1754.--On this day, the most melancholy sun I had ever beheld arose, and found me awake at my house at Fordhook. By the light of this sun, I was, in my own opinion, last to behold and take leave of some of those creatures on whom I doated with a mother-like fondness, guided by nature and passion, and uncured and unhardened by all the doctrine of that philosophical school where I had learnt to bear pains and to despise death.
'In this situation, as I could not conquer nature, I submitted entirely to her, and she made as great a fool of me as she had ever done of any woman whatsoever: under pretence of giving me leave to enjoy, she drew me in to suffer the company of my little ones, during eight hours; and I doubt not whether, in that time, I did not undergo more than in all my distemper.'
Of Fielding's life, it may be said truly, that nothing in it became him like the leaving it. At the moment of his starting for Lisbon, his case, as is clear from the above quotation, was already regarded by himself as desperate. To 'a lingering imperfect gout' had succeeded 'a deep jaundice;' and to jaundice, asthma and dropsy. He was past the power of the Duke of Portland's powder; past the famous tar-water of the good Bishop Berkeley. Had he acknowledged his danger earlier, his life might have been prolonged, though, in all probability, but for brief space. His health had for some time been breaking; he was worn out by his harassing vocation as a Middlesex Magistrate; and he feared that, in the event of his death, his family must starve. This last consideration it was that tempted him to defer his retirement to the country in order to break up a notorious gang of street-robbers, and so earn (as he fondly hoped) some government provision for those helpless ones whom he must leave behind him. He succeeded in his task, although he failed of his reward; and what was worse, as regards his health, much irrecoverable opportunity had been lost. By the time that his labours were at an end, he was a doomed man. The Bath waters could effect nothing in the advanced stage of his malady; and, after a short sojourn at his 'little house' at Ealing, he took his passage in the 'Queen of Portugal,' Richard Veal, master, for Lisbon. Of this voyage he has left his own account; and the posthumous volume thus produced is a curiosity of literature. It is one of the most touching records in the language of fortitude under trial; and it is not surprising to learn--as we do from Hazlitt--that it was a favourite book with another much-enduring mortal, the gentle and uncomplaining 'Elia.'
In these days of steam power, and floating palaces, and luxurious sick-room appliances, it is not easy to realize the intolerable tedium and discomfort, especially to an invalid, of a passage in a second-rate sailing-ship in the middle of the last century. When, after a rapid but fatiguing two hours' drive, Fielding reached Redriff (Rotherhithe), he had to undergo a further penance. The 'Queen of Portugal' lay in midstream, a circumstance which necessitated his being carried perilously across slippery ground, transferred to a wherry, and finally hoisted over the ship's side in a chair. Nor were his troubles by any means at an end when he found himself securely deposited in the cabin. The voyage, already more than once deferred, was again postponed. First, the vessel could not be cleared at the Custom House until Thursday, because Wednesday was a holiday (Proclamation Day); then the skipper himself announced that he should not weigh anchor before Saturday. Meanwhile, from his unusual exertions and other causes, Fielding's main malady had gained so considerably that he was obliged to summon Dr. William Hunter from Covent Garden to tap him--an operation which he had already more than once undergone with considerable relief. On Sunday the vessel dropped down to Gravesend, reaching the Nore on July 1. Then, for a week, they were becalmed in the Downs, making Ryde just in time to lie safely on the Motherbank during a violent storm. Before the ship left Ryde, the 23rd of July had arrived; and it was not until the second week in August that she sailed up the Tagus, having taken seven weeks to perform a journey which then, at most, occupied three, and is now generally accomplished in about four days.
If the 'Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon' were no more than the chronicle of the facts thus summarized--nay, if it were no more than what Walpole flippantly calls the 'account how his [Fielding's] dropsy was treated and teased by an innkeeper's wife in the Isle of Wight,' it would require and deserve but little consideration. That it is a literary masterpiece is not pretended; nor, in the circumstances of its composition, could a masterpiece be looked for--even from a master. But it is interesting not so much by the events which it narrates as by the indirect light which it throws upon its writer's character, upon his manliness, his patience, and that inextinguishable cheerfulness which, he says in the 'Proposal for the Poor,' 'was always natural to me.' His sufferings must have been considerable (he had to be tapped again before the voyage ended); and yet, with the exception of some not resentful comment upon the inhumanity of certain watermen and sailors who had jeered at his ghastly appearance, no word of complaint as to his own condition is allowed to escape him. On the other hand, his solicitude for his fellow-travellers is unmistakable. One of the most touching pages in the little volume relates how, when his wife, worn out with toothache, lay sleeping lightly in the state room, he and the skipper, who was deaf, sat speechless over a 'small bowl of punch' in the adjoining cabin rather than run the risk of waking her by a sound. 'My dear wife and child,' he says, speaking of a storm in the Channel, 'must pardon me, if what I did not conceive to be any great evil to myself, I was not much terrified with the thoughts of happening to them: in truth, I have often thought they are both too good, and too gentle, to be trusted to the power of any man I know, to whom they could possibly be so trusted.' In another place he relates, quite in his best manner, how he rebuked a certain churlish Custom-house officer for his want of courtesy to Mrs. Fielding. At times one forgets that it is a dying man who is writing, so invincible is that appetite for enjoyment which made Lady Mary say he ought to have been immortal. Not long after they reached Ryde he wrote to his half-brother and successor John (afterwards Sir John) Fielding: 'I beg that on the Day you receive this Mrs. Daniel [his mother-in-law] may know that we are just risen from Breakfast in _Health and Spirits_ [the italics are ours] this twelfth Instant at 9 in the morning.' At Ryde they were shamefully entreated by the most sharp-faced and tyrannical of landladies, in whose incommodious hostelry they sought temporary refuge; and yet it is at Ryde that he chronicles 'the best, the pleasantest, and the merriest meal [in a barn], with more appetite, more real, solid luxury, and more festivity, than was ever seen in an entertainment at White's.' And almost the last lines of the 'Journal' recall a good supper in a Lisbon coffee-house for which they 'were as well charged, as if the bill had been made on the Bath road, between Newbury and London.' But the pleasures of the table play a subordinate part in the sick man's diary, and often only prompt a larger subject, as when the John Dory which regales them at Torbay introduces a disquisition on the improvement of the London fish supply. As might be anticipated, some of his best passages deal with the humanity about him. With characteristic reticence, he says little of his own companions, but his pen strays easily into graphic sketches of the little' world of the 'Queen of Portugal.' The ill-conditioned Custom-house officer, already mentioned; the military fop who comes to visit the captain at Spithead; the sordid and shrewish Ryde landlady with her chuckleheaded nonentity of a husband--are all touched by a hand which, if tremulous, betrays no diminution of its cunning. Of all the potraits, however, that of the skipper is the best. *
* The picture, it should be added, was not at first presented in its racy entirety. When, in February, 1755, the 'Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon' was given to the world for the benefit of Fielding's widow and children, although the 'Dedication to the Public' affirmed the book to be 'as it came from the hands of the author,' many of the franker touches which go to complete the full-length of Captain Richard Veal, as well as sundry other particulars, were withheld. This question is fully discussed in the Introduction to the limited edition of the 'Journal,' published in 1892 by the Chiswick Press.
The rough, illiterate, septuagenarian sea-captain, 'full of strange oaths' and superstitions, despotic, irascible and good-natured, awkwardly gallanting the ladies in all the splendours of a red coat, cockade and sword, and heart-broken, privateer though he had been, when his favourite kitten is smothered by a feather-bed, has all the elements of a finished individuality. It is with respect to him that occurs almost the only really dramatic incident of the voyage. A violent dispute having arisen about the exclusive right of the passengers to the cabin, Fielding resolved, not without misgivings, to quit the ship, ordering a hoy for that purpose, and taking care, as became a magistrate, to threaten Captain Veal with what that worthy feared more than rock or quicksand, the terrors of retributary legal proceedings. The rest may be told in the journalist's own words: 'The most distant sound of law thus frightened a man, who had often, I am convinced, heard numbers of cannon roar round him with intrepidity. Nor did he sooner see the hoy approaching the vessel, than he ran down again into the cabin, and, his rage being perfectly subsided, he tumbled on his knees, and a little too abjectly implored for mercy.
'I did not suffer a brave man and an old man, to remain a moment in this posture; but I immediately forgave him.' Most of those who have related this anecdote end discreetly at this point. Fielding, however, is too honest to allow us to place his forbearance entirely to the credit of his magnanimity. 'And here, that I may not be thought the sly trumpeter of my own praises, I do utterly disclaim all praise on the occasion. Neither did the greatness of my mind dictate, nor the force of my Christianity exact this forgiveness. To speak truth, I forgave him from a motive which would make men much more forgiving, if they were much wiser than they are; because it was convenient for me so to do.'
With the arrival of the 'Queen of Portugal' at Lisbon the 'Journal' ends, and no further particulars of its writer are forthcoming. Two months later he died in the Portuguese capital, and was buried among the cypresses of the beautiful English cemetery. _Luget Britannia gremio non dari Fovere natum_--is inscribed upon his tomb.
VII. HANWAY'S TRAVELS.
|ONE hot day in Holborn,--one of those very hot days when, as Mr. Andrew Lang or M. Octave Uzanne has said, the brown backs buckle in the fourpenny boxes, and you might poach an egg on the cover of a quarto,--the incorrigible bookhunter who pens these pages purchased two octavo volumes of 'Beauties of the Spectators, Tatlers and Guardians, Connected and Digested under Alphabetical Heads.' That their contents were their main attraction would be too much to say. For the literary 'Beauties' of one age, like those other=
```So killing--under George the Second,'=
are not always the 'Beauties' of another. Where the selector of to-day would put Sir Roger de Coverley and Will Wimble, the Everlasting Club, or the Exercise of the Fan, the judicious gentlemen in rusty wigs and inked ruffles who managed the 'connecting' and 'digesting' department for Messrs. Tonson in the Strand, put passages on Detraction, Astronomy, Chearful-ness (with an 'a'), Bankruptcy, Self-Denial, Celibacy, and the Bills of Mortality. They must have done a certain violence to their critical convictions by including, in forlorn isolation, such flights of imagination as the 'Inkle and Yarico' of Mr. Steele and the 'Hilpah and Shalum' of Mr. Addison. The interest of this particular copy is, however, peculiar to itself. It is bound neatly in full mottled calf, with stamped gold roses at the corners of the covers; and at the points of a star in the centre are printed the letters E, G, C, G. An autograph inscription in the first volume explains this mystery. They are the initials of the 'Twin Sisters
Miss Elizabeth, & Miss Caroline Grigg,' to whom are addressed the votive couplets that follow:--=
```'Freedom & Virtue, Twin born from Heaven came.
```And like two Sisters fair, are both the same.
```On Thee Elizabeth may Virtue smile!
```And Thou, sweet Caroline, Life's cares beguile.
```May Gracious Providence protect & guide,
```That Days & Years in peace may slide;
```And bring You Bliss, in Parents love,
```Till You shall reach the bliss above.'=
After this comes--'Thus prays Your very true friend & affectionate Servant J. Hanway,'--a signature which proves that one may be a praiseworthy philanthropist and a copious Pamphleteer and yet write no better verse than the Bellman. For without consulting the records at the Marine Society in Bishopsgate Street, there is little doubt that the writer of these lines was the once well-known Jonas Hanway of the Ragged Schools, the Magdalen Hospital, and half a hundred other benevolent undertakings. Indeed the circumstance that the book is addressed to _two_ ladies is, of itself, almost proof of this, since, either from bachelor caution, or from some other obscure cause, Hanway always attaches a Dingley to his Stella. His 'Journey from Portsmouth to Kingston' is addressed to two ladies; so also is his famous 'Essay on Tea.' But there is stronger confirmation still. He was in the habit of giving away copies of this very book--in fact of this very edition--as presents to his friends and _protégés_. Not long ago, in a second-hand bookseller's catalogue, was advertised another pair of the same volumes, in 'old English red morocco, elaborately tooled,' which had been given by Hanway to his 'young friend Master John Thomson.' It was dated from Red Lion Square in 1772, the same year in which his verses to the Demoiselles Grigg were written. Master Thomson's initials were also impressed upon the sides of this copy; and although the Muses had not been invoked in his behalf, the book contained a holograph letter of nine pages of useful advice, by the aid of which, coupled with the 'Beauties,' he was to learn 'to attain the treasures of health, wealth, peace, and happiness.' But from the excellent condition of the volumes in both instances, it must be inferred that neither of the twin sisters nor Mr. Hanway's 'young friend' acted upon Johnson's precept and gave their days and nights to the periods of Addison.
Of Hanway himself, Johnson said, in his memorable way, 'that he acquired some reputation by travelling abroad, but lost it all by travelling at home.' His 'Historical Account of the British Trade on the Caspian Sea' (generally called 'Travels in Persia'), 1753, 4 vols., quarto, did indeed once enjoy a considerable reputation, and his adventures were adventurous enough. Beginning life as a Lisbon merchant, he subsequently accepted a partnership in a St. Petersburgh house. At this date the Russo-Persian trade had recently been established by Captain John Elton, who afterwards, to the disgust of the St. Petersburgh factors, took service under Nadir Shah. Hanway accompanied a caravan of woollen goods to Persia; and here began his experiences. He found Astrabad in rebellion, and the caravan was plundered. Thereupon, after many privations and narrow escapes, he made his way to Nadir Shah, who ordered restitution of the goods,--a restitution which was more easy to order than to execute, although something was restored. But the traveller's troubles were by no means at an end. In the Caspian, on the return voyage, his ship was attacked by the Ogurtjoy pirates, and he himself afterwards fell seriously ill. To this succeeded, in consequence of the presence of plague at Cashan, the amenities of a long quarantine on an island in the Volga, in the final stage of which the unhappy travellers 'were required to strip themselves entirely naked in the open air [this was in a Russian October], and go through the unpleasant ceremony of having each a large pail of warm water thrown over them, before they were permitted to depart.' Alien Hanway at last reached Moscow, he found that the opportune death of a relative had placed him in possession 'of pecuniary advantages, much exceeding any he could expect from his engagement in Caspian affairs.' He nevertheless stayed five years and a half more at St. Petersburgh; and then, returning to England, took up his abode in London, where he proceeded to prepare his travels for the press. Being laudably unwilling that any publisher should run the risk of losing money by him, the first edition was printed at his own expense; but the book proved a great success, passing speedily into many libraries (into Gray's among others), and Andrew Millar ultimately purchased the copyright. The remainder of Hanway's life was spent in philanthropy and pamphleteering. He helped Sir John Fielding and others to set on foot the still existent Marine Society for training boys for the sea; he helped to remodel 'Captain Coram's Charity,' of which he was a Governor; he founded the Magdalen Hospital; he advocated the interests of Sunday-Schools and Ragged Schools, of chimney-sweeps and the infant poor. Not the least important of his services to the community was his vindication, in the teeth of the chairmen and hackney coachmen, of the use, by men, of the umbrella, hitherto confined to the weaker sex. * As a pamphleteer he was unwearied, and the mere titles of his efforts in this way occupy four columns of Messrs. Stephen and Lee's great dictionary. He wrote on the Naturalization of the Jews; he wrote on Vails-Giving, on the American War, on Pure Bread, on Solitary=
```* 'Good housewives all the winter's rage despise,
```Defended by the riding-hood's disguise:
```Or underneath th' umbrella's oily shed,
```Safe thro' the wet, on clinking pattens tread.'
`````Gay's Trivia, 1716, i. 209-212.=
Confinement; he wrote 'Earnest Advice' and 'Moral Reflections' to Everybody on Everything. To misuse Ben Jonson's words of Shakespeare, 'He flowed with that facility that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped.' One entire pamphlet on bread was dictated in the space of a forenoon, says his secretary and biographer Pugh. When it is further explained that it consisted of two hundred law sheets, or ninety octavo pages, it is obvious that the excellent author's powers as a pamphleteer must have been preternatural. But it is hardly surprising to find even his admirer admitting that his ideas were not well arranged, and that his style was undeniably diffuse.
This latter quality is aptly illustrated by a volume which lies before us, being in fact the identical record of those travels in England by which Johnson asserted that Mr. Hanway had lost the celebrity he had acquired by his 'Travels in Persia.' The very title of the book--a privately printed quarto--is as long as that of 'Pamela.' It runs thus,--'A Journal of Eight Days Journey from Portsmouth to Kingston upon Thames; through South-am ton, Wiltshire, etc. With Miscellaneous Thoughts, Moral and Religious; in a Series of Sixty-four Letters: Addressed to two Ladies of the Partie. To which is added, An Essay on tea, considered as 'pernicious to Health, obstructing Industry, and impoverishing the Nation: With an Account of its Growth, and great Consumption in these Kingdoms. With several political Reflections; and Thoughts on Public Love. In Twenty-five Letters to the same Ladies. By a Gentleman of the Partie. London: H. Woodfall, 1756.' The 'Partie,' by the way, if we are to trust Wale's emblematic frontispiece, must have been limited to the writer and these two ladies, discreetly disguised in the 'Contents' as 'Mrs. D.' and 'Mrs. O.'
Why, as remarked by an ingenious 'Monthly Reviewer,' it should be necessary to tell 'Mrs. D.' and 'Mrs. O.' (whom the artist shows us conversing agreeably with Mr. Hanway under an awning in a two-oared boat) what, having been of the 'Partie,' they probably knew quite as well as he did, is not explained. But on the other hand, it may be contended that he really tells them very little, since the 'Moral and Religious' reflections almost entirely swallow up the Travels. 'On every occurrence,' says the critic quoted, 'he expatiates, and indulges in reflection. The appearance of an inn upon the road suggests... an eulogium on temperance; the confusion of a disappointed Landlady gives rise to a Letter on Resentment; and the view of a company of soldiers furnishes out materials for an Essay on War.' The company of soldiers was Lord George Bentinck's regiment of infantry on their march to Essex; and one sighs to think with what a bustle of full-blooded humanity--what a 'March to Finchley' of incident--the author of a 'Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon' would have filled the storied page. But Mr. Hanway is not the least penitent; rather is he proud of his reticence. He specially expresses his gratitude to the hostess 'who gave occasion for my thoughts on resentment, a subject far more interesting than whether a battle was fought at this, or any other place, five hundred years ago.' (If 'Mrs. D.' and 'Mrs. O.' were really of this opinion, they must have been curiously constituted.) 'Can you bear with this medley of both worlds?' he asks them on another occasion, and it is not easy to reply except by saying that there is too much of one and too little of the other. To pass Bevis Mount with the barest mention of Lord Peterborough; to come to Amesbury and 'Prior's Kitty' and be fobbed off with 'a pious rhapsody;' to stop at Stockbridge for which Steele was member when he was expelled from Parliament, only to enter upon fifty pages of indiscriminate reflections on Public Love, Self-examination, the Vanity of Life, and half a dozen other instructive but irrelevant subjects,--these things, indeed, are hard to bear, especially as they are not recommended by any particular distinction of matter or manner. 'Tho' his opinions are generally true,' says the critic already quoted, 'and his regard for virtue seems very sincere, yet these alone are not, at this day, sufficient to defend the cause of truth; stile, elegance, and all the allurements of good writing, must be called in aid: especially if the age be in reality, as it is represented by this Author, averse to everything that _but seems_ to be serious.' 'Novelty of thought,' he says again, 'and elegance of expression, are what we chiefly require, in treating on topics with which the public are already acquainted: but the art of placing trite materials in new and striking lights, cannot be reckoned among the excellencies of this Gentleman; who generally enforces his opinions by arguments rather obvious than new, and that convey more conviction than pleasure to the Reader.'
Why, with the book before us, we should borrow from an anonymous writer in the 'Monthly Review,' requires a word of explanation. The reviewer was Oliver Goldsmith, at this time an unknown scribbler, working as 'general utility man' to Mr. Ralph Griffiths the bookseller, who owned the magazine. Goldsmith devotes most of his notice to the 'Essay on Tea,' the scope of which is sufficiently indicated by its title. But the 'Essay on Tea' also engaged the attention of a better known though not greater critic, Samuel Johnson, whose 'corruption was raised' (as the Scotch say) by this bulky if not weighty indictment of his darling beverage. Johnson's critique was in the 'Literary Magazine.' At the outset he makes candid and characteristic profession of faith. 'He is,' he says, 'a hardened and shameless Tea-drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant, whose kettle has scarcely time to cool, who with Tea amuses the evening, with Tea solaces the midnight, and with Tea welcomes the morning.' The arguments on either side are now of little moment, though Hanway, as a merchant, is better worth hearing on the commercial aspect of the Tea question than on things in general. But the review greatly irritated him. An unfortunate remark dropped by Johnson about the religious education of the children in the Foundling stung him into an angry retort in the 'Gazetteer,'--a retort to which (according to Boswell) Johnson made the only rejoinder he is ever known to have offered to anything that was written against him. As may be expected, it was not a document from which his opponent could extract much personal gratification; but it is not otherwise remarkable.
That the criticism of Johnson and Goldsmith was not wholly undeserved must, it is feared, be conceded. Even in days less book-burdened, and more patient of tedium than our own, to string half a dozen pamphlets of platitudes upon the slenderest of threads, and call it the 'Journal of a Journey from Portsmouth to Kingston-upon-Thames,' could scarcely have been tolerable. Yet Johnson allowed to the author the 'merit of meaning well.' Hanway's benevolence was, in truth, unquestioned. His sincerity was beyond suspicion, and his services to his fellow-creatures were considerable. His misfortune was that, like many excellent persons, his sense of humour was imperfect, and his infirmity of digression chronic. He was, moreover, the victim of the common delusion that to teach and to preach are interchangeable terms. His biographer Pugh, who admits that, with all his good qualities, he had a 'certain singularity of thought and manners,' gives some curious details as to his habits and costume. In order to be always ready for polite society, he usually appeared in dress clothes, including a large French bag (which duly figures in Wale's frontispiece) and a _chapeau bras_ with a gold button. 'When it rained, a small _parapluie_ defended his face and wig.' His customary garb was a suit of rich dark brown, lined with ermine, to which he added a small gold-hilted sword. He was extremely susceptible to cold, and habitually wore three pairs of stockings. He was an active pedestrian, although he possessed an equipage called a 'solo' (which we take to be the equivalent of Sterne's _Désobligeante_). Among his other characteristics was the embellishment of his house in Red Lion Square in such a way as to prompt and promote improving conversation in those unhappy intermissions of talk which come about while the card-tables are being set, and so forth. The decorations in the drawing-room were not without a certain mildly-moral ingenuity. They consisted of portraits of Adrienne Le Couvreur and five other famous beauties, in frames united by a carved and gilded ribbon inscribed with passages in praise of beauty. Above these was placed a statue of Humility; below, a mirror just convex enough to reduce the female spectator to the scale of the portraits, and round the frame of this was painted,--=
```'Wert thou, my daughter, fairest of the seven;
```Think on the progress of devouring Time,
```And pay thy tribute to Humility.'=
Hanway died in 1786, aged seventy-four. He is buried at Hanwell, and he has a bust in Westminster Abbey.
VIII. A GARRET IN GOUGH SQUARE.
|NOT very far from 'streaming London's central roar'--or, in plain words, about midway in Fleet Street, on the left-hand side as you go toward Ludgate Hill--is a high and narrow archway or passage over which is painted in dingy letters the words 'Bolt Court.' To the lover of the 'Great Cham of Literature,' the name comes freighted with memories. More than a hundred years ago 'the ponderous mass of Johnson's form,' to quote a poem by Mrs. Barbauld, must often have darkened that contracted approach, when, in order to greet with tea the coming day ('veniente die'), * and to postpone if possible that 'unseasonable hour at which he had habituated himself to expect the oblivion of repose,' he rolled across from the Temple to Miss Williams's rooms. Where the blind lady lodged, no Society of Arts tablet now reveals to us; but as soon as the pilgrim has traversed the dark and greasy entrance-way, and finds himself in the little court itself, with its disorderly huddle of buildings, and confusion of tip-cat playing children, he is in Johnson's land, and only a few steps from the actual spot on which Johnson's last hours were spent. Fronting him, in the farther angle of the enclosure, is the Stationers' Company's School, and the Stationers' Company's School stands upon the site of No. 8 Bolt Court, formerly Bensley's Printing Office, ** but earlier still the last residence of Dr. Johnson, who lived in it from 1776 to 1784.
* 'Te venienie die, te decedenle canebat.'--Georg, iv. 466.
* Bensley succeeded Allen the printer, Johnson's landlord. During Bensley's tenancy of the house it was twice the scene of disastrous fires, by the second of which (in June, 1819) the Doctor's old rooms were entirely destroyed. Among other valuables burned at Bensley's was the large wood block engraved by Bewick's pupil, Luke Clennell, for the diploma of the Highland Society; and the same artist's cuts after Stothard for Rogers's 'Pleasures of Memory' of 1810 were only saved from a like fate by being kept in a 'ponderous iron chest.'
It was in the backroom of its first floor that, on Monday, the 13th December in the latter year, at about seven o'clock in the evening, his black servant Francis Barber and his friend Mrs. Desmoulins, who watched in the sick-chamber, 'observing that the noise he made in breathing had ceased, went to the bed, and found that he was dead.'
Standing in Bolt Court to-day, before the unimposing façade of the school which now occupies the spot, it is not easy to reconstruct that quiet parting-scene; nor is it easy to realize the old book-burdened upper floors, or the lower reception chamber, where, according to Sir John Hawkins, were given those 'not inelegant dinners' of the good Doctor's more opulent later years. Least of all is it possible to conceive that, somewhere in this pell-mell of bricks and mortar, was once a garden which the famous Lexicographer took pleasure in watering; and where, moreover, grew a vine from which, only a few months before he died, he gathered 'three bunches of grapes.' But if Bolt Court prove unstimulating, you have only to take a few steps to the right, and you arrive, somewhat unexpectedly, in a little parallelogram at the back, known as Gough Square. Here, in the north-west corner, still stands one of the last of those sixteen residences in which Johnson lived in London. It is at present a place of business; but the tenants make no difficulty about your examination of it, and when you inquire for the well-known garret you are at once invited to inspect it. The interior of the house, of course, is much altered, but there is still a huge chain at the front door, which dates from Johnson's day, and the old oak-balustraded staircase remains intact. As you climb its narrow stages, you remember that, sixty years since, Thomas Carlyle must have made that ascent before you; * and you wonder how Johnson, with his bad sight and his rolling gait, managed to steer up it at all.
* He visited it in 1831 (Froude's 'Carlyle,' vol. ii., eh. x.).
The flight ends in the garret itself, upon which you emerge at present, as in a hay-loft. But it is not in the least such a 'sky-parlour' as Hogarth assigns to his 'Distressed Poet.' It occupies the whole width and breadth of the building; it is sufficiently lighted by three windows in front, and two dormers at the sides; and the pitch of the roof is by no means low. Here you are actually in Johnson's house; and as you turn to look at the stairway you have just quitted, it is odds if you do not expect to see the shrivelled wig, the seared, blinking face, and the heavy shoulders of the Doctor himself rising slowly above the aperture with a huge volume under his arm. For it was in this very garret in Gough Square, within sound of the hammers of that famous clock of St. Dunstan's, to which Cowper refers in the 'Connoisseur,' * that the great Dictionary was compiled.
* For August 19, 1750, on 'Country Congregations.' The old clock still exists, in working order, at a villa in Regent's.
Here laboured Shiels, the amanuensis, and his five companions, ceaselessly transcribing the passages which had been marked for them to copy, and probably going 'odd man or plain Newmarket' for beer as soon as ever their employer's back was turned; here, also, at the little fire-place in the corner, must often have sat Johnson himself, peering closely (much as Reynolds shows him in the portrait of 1778) at the proofs that were going to long-suffering Andrew Millar. It was in this identical garret that Joseph Warton once visited him to pay a subscription; here came Roubiliac and Sir Joshua; and here, when the room had grown to be dignified by the title of the 'library,' Johnson received Dr. Burney, who found in it 'five or six Greek folios, a deal writing-desk, and a chair and a half.' The half-chair must have been that mentioned by Miss Reynolds; and it is evident that long experience or repeated misadventure had made Johnson both skilful and cautious in manipulating it. 'A gentleman,' she says, 'who frequently visited him whilst writing his "Idlers" [the 'Idler' was partly composed in Gough Square in 1758] constantly found him at his desk, sitting on a chair with three legs; and on rising from it, he remarked that Dr. Johnson never forgot its defect, but would either hold it in his hand or place it with great composure against some support, taking no notice of its imperfection to his visitor.' 'It was remarkable in Dr. Johnson,' she goes on, 'that no external circumstances ever prompted him to make any apology, or to seem even sensible of their existence.'
In Gough Square Johnson lived from 1749 to 1759. 'I have this day moved my things,' he writes to his step-daughter, Miss Porter, on the 23rd of March in the latter year, 'and you are now to direct to me at Staple Inn.' These ten years were among the busiest and most productive of his life. No pension had as yet made existence easier to him; no Boswell was at hand to seduce him to port and the Mitre; and the Literary Club, as yet unborn, existed only in embryo at a beefsteak shop in Ivy Lane. Besides the 'Idler' and the Dictionary, which latter was published in the middle of his sojourn at Gough Square, he sent forth from his garret 'Irene' and the 'Vanity of Human Wishes,' the 'Rambler,' and the essays in Hawkesworth's 'Adventurer.' It was here that he drew up those proposals for that belated edition of Shakespeare of which Churchill said:=
```He for Subscribers baits his hook,
```And takes their cash--but where's the Book?=
and here, early in 1759, he wrote his 'Rasselas.' It was in Gough Square, on the 16th of March, 1756, that he was arrested for £5 18s., and only released by a prompt loan from Samuel Richardson; it was while living in Gough Scpiare that he penned that noble letter to Chesterfield, of which Time seems to intensify rather than to attenuate the manly dignity and the independent accent. 'Is not a Patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the Publick should consider me as owing that to a Patron which Providence has enabled me to do for myself.'
'Till I am solitary, and cannot impart it.'
The same thought recurs in the closing words of the preface to his _magnum opus_, which, little more than two months after the date of the above letter, appeared in a pair of folio volumes.
'I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave; and success and miscarriage are empty sounds.' It needs no Boswell to tell us that the reference here is to the death, three years before, of his wife,--that fantastic 'Tetty,' to himself so beautiful, to his friends so unattractive, whom he loved so ardently and so faithfully, and whose name, coupled with so many 'pious breathings,' is so frequently to be found in his 'Prayers and Meditations.' 'This is the day,' he wrote, thirty years afterwards, 'on which, in 1752, dear Tetty died. I have now uttered a prayer of repentance and contrition; perhaps Tetty knows that I prayed for her. Perhaps Tetty is now praying for me. God help me.' In her epitaph at Bromley he styles her '_formosa, culta, ingeniosa, pia_.' In a recently discovered letter she is his 'charming Love,' his 'most amiable woman in the world,' and (even at fifty) his 'dear Girl.' He preserved her wedding ring, says Boswell, 'as long as he lived, with an affectionate care, in a little round wooden box, in the inside of which he pasted a slip of paper, thus inscribed by him in fair characters, as follows: '_Eheu! Eliz. Johnson, Nuptay Jul. 9° 1736, Mortua, eheu! Mart._ 17° 1752.' *
* This ring was exhibited at the Guelph Exhibition of 1891 by Mr. A. C. Lomax.
Her loss was not the only bereavement he suffered in Gough Square. Two months before he left it, in 1759, his mother died at Lichfield,--'one of the few calamities,' he had told Lucy Porter, 'on which he thought with terror.' Confined to London by his work, he was not able to close her eyes; but he wrote to her a last letter almost too sacred in its wording for the profanation of type, and he consecrated an 'Idler' to her memory. 'The last year, the last day, must come,' he says mournfully. 'It has come, and is past. The life which made my own life pleasant is at an end, and the gates of death are shut upon my prospects.' To pay his mother's modest debts, and to cover the expenses of her funeral, he penned his sole approach to a work of fiction,--the story of 'Rasselas.'=
```Who now reads Johnson? If he pleases still,
```'Tis most for Dormitive or Sleeping Pill,--=
one might say, in not inappropriate parody of Pope. His strong individuality, his intellectual authority, his conversational power, must live for ever; but his books!--who, outside the fanatics of literature,--who reads them now? Macaulay, we are told by Lord Houghton, once quoted 'London' at a dinner-table, but then he was talking to Dean Milman; and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in his novel of 'A Mortal Antipathy,' refers to the Prince of Abyssinia.
Browning, says Mrs. Sutherland Orr, qualified himself for poetry in his youth by a diligent perusal of the Dictionary; and it may perhaps be said of him, in those words of Horace which Johnson himself applied to Prior, that 'the vessel long retained the scent which it first received.' But who now, among the supporters of the circulating libraries, ever gets out the 'Rambler,' or 'Irene,' or the 'Vanity of Human Wishes' (beloved of Scott and Byron), or 'Rasselas,'--'Rasselas,' once more popular than the 'Vicar of Wakefield,' *--'Rasselas,' which despite such truisms as 'What cannot be repaired is not to be regretted,' is full of sagacious 'criticism of life'!
* Of an illustrated edition of the' Vicar' published at the end or 1890, we are credibly informed that 8,000 copies were sold within a twelvemonth. And where is 'Rasselas' now?
The honest answer must be, 'Very few.' Yet a day may come when the Johnsonese of Johnson's imitators will be forgotten, and people will turn once more to the fountain-head to find, with surprise, that it is not so polluted with Latinisms after all, and that it abounds in passages direct and forcible. 'Of all the writings which are models,' says Professor Earle, 'models I mean in the highest sense of the word, models from which the spirit of genuine true and wholesome diction is to be imbibed (not models of mannerism of which the trick or fashion is to be caught), I have no hesitation in saying that there is one author unapproachably and incomparably the best, and that is Samuel Johnson.' And this is the 'deliberate conclusion' of an expert who has given almost a lifetime to the comparative study of English prose.
IX. HOGARTH'S SIGISMUNDA.
|TOWARD the close of the last century, the regular attendants upon the ministrations of the Rev. James Trebeck in the picturesque old church at the end of Chiswick Mall, must often have witnessed the arrival of a well-known member of the congregation. Year after year had been wheeled, in a Bath chair, from a little villa under the wing of the Duke of Devonshire's mansion hard by, a stately old lady between seventy and eighty years of age, whose habitual costume was a silk sacque, a raised head-dress, and a black calash. Leaning heavily upon her crutched cane, and aided by the arm of a portly female relative in similar attire, she would make her way slowly and with much dignity up the nave, being generally preceded by a bent and white-haired man-servant, who, after carrying the prayer-books into the pew, and carefully closing the door upon his mistress and her companion, would himself retire to a remoter part of the building. From the frequenters of the place, the little procession attracted no more notice than any other recognized ceremonial, of which the intermission would alone have been remarkable; but it seldom failed to excite the curiosity of those wayfarers who, under the third George, already sought reverently, along the pleasant riverside, for that house in Mawson's Buildings where the great Mr. Pope wrote part of his 'Iliad,' or for the garden of Richard, Earl of Burlington, where idle John Gay gorged himself with apricots and peaches. They would be told that the elder lady was the widow of the famous painter, William Hogarth, who lay buried under the teacaddy-like tomb in the neighbouring churchyard; that her companion was her cousin, Mary Lewis, in whose arms he died; and that the old servant's name was Samuel. For five and twenty years Mrs. Hogarth survived her husband, during all of which time she faithfully cherished his memory. Those who visited her at her Chiswick home (for she had another in Leicester Fields) would recall with what tenacity she was wont to combat the view that he was a mere maker of caricatura, or, at best, 'a writer of comedy with the pencil,' as Mr. Horace Walpole (whose overcritical book she had not even condescended to acknowledge) had thought fit to designate him. It was as a painter pure and simple, as a rival of the Guidos and Correggios, that she mainly valued her William. 'They said he could not colour!' she would cry, pointing, it may be, as a protest against the words, to the brilliant sketch of the 'Shrimp Girl,' now in the National Gallery, but then upon her walls. Or, turning from his merits to his memory, she would throw a shawl about her handsome head and, stepping out under the over-hanging bay-window into the old three-cornered garden with its filbert avenue and its great mulberry tree, would exhibit the little mural tablet which Hogarth had himself scratched with a nail, in remembrance of a favourite bullfinch. 'Alass poor Dick,' ran the faint-lined inscription, not without characteristic revelation of the sculptor's faulty spelling. And if she happened to be in one of the more confidential moods of old age, she would perhaps take from a drawer that very No. 17 of the 'North Briton,' which she afterwards gave to Ireland, and which her husband, she would tell you, had carried about in his pocket for days to show to sympathetic friends. 'The _supposed_ author of the _Analysis of beauty!_'--she would indignantly exclaim, quoting from the opening lines of Wilkes's nefarious print, headed with its rude woodcut parody of Hogarth's portrait in 'Calais Gate,' * and then, turning the blunt-lettered page, she would point silently to the passages relating to the much-abused 'Sigismunda,' concerning which, if her hearers were still judiciously inquisitive, they would, in all probability, receive a gracious invitation to test the truth of the libel by inspecting that masterpiece itself at its home in her London house.
* The original No. 17 of the 'North Briton,' dated Saturday, September 25, 1762, had no portrait. The portrait was added to a reprint of Wilkes's article issued May 21, 1763, or immediately after the appearance of Hogarth's etching of Wilkes. Since the above paper was first published in America, this interesting relic of Hogarth has once more come to light. In April, 1845, it was sold with Mr. H. P. Standly's collection. At the sale, in February, 1892, of Dr. J. R. Joly's Hogarth prints and books, it passed (with some of the Standly correspondence) to Mr. James Tregaskis, the well-known bookseller at the 'Caxton Head' in Holborn, from whom it was acquired by the present writer. By November, 1789, however, all this had become 'portion and parcel' of the irrevocable past.
In that month Mrs. Hogarth had been laid beside her mother and her husband under the tomb in Chiswick churchyard; the little 'country box' had passed to Mary Lewis; and--by direction of the same lady--the contents of the 'Golden Head' in Leicester Fields were shortly afterwards (April, 1790) announced for sale. In the Print Room at the British Museum (where is also the original manuscript of the famous 'Five Days' Tour' of 1732) is a copy of the auctioneer's catalogue, which once belonged to George Steevens. It is not a document of many pages. At Mrs. Hogarth's death, her income from the prints, exclusive property in which had been secured to her in 1767 by special Act of Parliament, had greatly fallen off; and though she had received the further aid of a small pension from the Royal Academy, it is to be presumed that her means were considerably straitened. It is known, too, that there had been lodgers at the 'Golden Head,' one being the engraver Richard Livesay, another the strange Ossianic enthusiast and friend of Fuseli, Alexander Runciman; and obviously nothing but 'strong necessity' could justify the reception of lodgers. These circumstances must explain the slender contents of Mr. Auctioneer Greenwood's little pamphlet. Many of the treasures of William Hogarth's household had already become the prey of the collector, or had passed to admiring friends; and what remained to be finally dispersed under the hammer practically consisted of family relics. There was Hogarth's own likeness of himself and his dog, soon to become the property of Mr. Angerstein, from whom it passed to the National Gallery; there was another whole-length of painting of him; there was Roubiliac's clever _terra cotta_; there was a cast of the faithful Trump, and one of Hogarth's hand; there were the portraits of his sisters Mary and Ann, which now belong to Mr. R. C. Nichols. Other items were a set of 'twelve Delft ware plates,' painted with the signs of the zodiac by Sir James Thornhill; portraits of Sir James and his wife; of Mrs. Hogarth herself; of Hogarth's six servants; and there were also numerous framed examples of his prints. * But the most important object in the sale was undoubtedly the famous 'Sigismunda.'
* By a piece of auction-room humour, 'The Bathos' appears as 'The Bathers.'
'Sigismunda Mourning over the Heart of Guiscardo' is the full title of the picture in the National Gallery catalogue. As one looks at it now, asylumed safely, _post tot discrimina_, in Trafalgar Square, it is not so much its qualities as its story that it recalls. How much heartburning, how much bitterness, would have been saved to its sturdy little 'Author,' as he loved to style himself, if it had never been projected! He was an unparalleled pictorial satirist; he was, and still is, an unsurpassed story-teller upon canvas.=
```'In walks of Humour, in that cast of Style,
```Which, probing to the quick, yet makes us smile;
```In Comedy, thy nat'ral road to fame,
```Nor let me call it by a meaner name,
```Where a beginning, middle, and an end
```Are aptly joined; where parts on parts depend,
```Each made for each, as bodies for their soul,
```So as to form one true and perfect whole,
```Where a plain story to the eye is told,
```Which we conceive the moment we behold,
```Hogarth unrivall'd stands, and shall engage
```Unrivall'd praise to the most distant age.'=
Thus even his enemy and assailant, Charles Churchill. But Hogarth had the misfortune to live in an age when Art was given over to the bubblemongers and 'black masters;' when, to the suppression of native talent, sham _chefs d'ouvre_ were praised extravagantly by sham connoisseurs; and the patriotic painter of 'Marriage À-la-Mode' justly resented the invasion of the country by the rubbish of the Roman art-factories. Had he confined himself to the forcible indignation of which, as an impenitent islander, he possessed unlimited command, it would have been better for his peace of mind. But, in an unpropitious hour, he undertook to prove his case by demonstration. Among the pictures from Sir Luke Schaub's collection, offered for sale in 1758, was a 'Sigismunda,' attributed to Correggio, but in reality from the brush of the far inferior artist, Furini. It was recklessly run up by the virtuosi, and was finally bought in for over £400. Hogarth, whose inimitable 'Marriage' had fetched only £126 (frames included), determined to paint the same subject. He had an open commission from Sir Richard Grosvenor, a wealthy art-collector, who had been one of the bidders for the Furini, and he set to work. He took unusual pains--a thing which, in his case, was of evil augury; and he modified the details of his design again and again, in obedience to the suggestions of friends. When at last the picture was completed, Sir Richard, who, perhaps not unreasonably, had looked for something more in the artist's individual manner, took advantage of Hogarth's conventional offer to release him from his bargain, and rather shabbily withdrew from it upon the specious ground 'that the constantly having it [the picture] before one's eyes would be too often occasioning melancholy ideas'--a sentiment which the irritated painter, calling verse to his relief, afterwards neatly paraphrased. Admitting its power to touch the heart to be the 'truest test' of a masterpiece, he says of 'Sigismunda':=
````'Nay;'tis so moving that the Knight
````Can't even bear it in his sight;
````Then who would tears so dearly buy,
````As give four hundred pounds to cry?
````I own, he chose the prudent part,
````Rather to break his word than heart;
````And yet, methinks,'tis ticklish dealing
````With one so delicate--in feeling.'=
As a result of Sir Richard Grosvenor's action, the picture remained on the artist's hands,--a source of continual mortification to himself, and a fruitful theme of discussion to both his friends and enemies. The political caricaturists got hold of it, and used it as a stick to beat the pensionary of Lord Bute; the critics employed it to continue their assaults on the precepts of the 'Analysis.' When Wilkes retorted to Hogarth's ill-advised print of the 'Times,' he openly described 'Sigismunda' as a portrait of Mrs. Hogarth 'in an agony of passion;' and the fact that she had served as her husband's model was not neglected by his meaner assailants. Finally, after various attempts had been made to engrave it, the picture was left by the artist to his widow with injunctions not to sell it for less than £500. After her death it was bought at the 'Golden Head' sale for £56 by Alderman Boydell. As already stated, it is now in the National Gallery, to which it was bequeathed by the late Mr. Anderdon in 1879.
In the couplets already quoted, Hogarth had ended by saying:=
````'Let the picture rust.
```Perhaps Time's price-enhancing dust,
```As statues moulder into earth,
```When I'm no more, may mark its worth,
````And future connoisseurs may rise,
````Honest as ours, and full as wise,
````To puff the piece and painter too,
````And make me then what Guido's now.'=
To some extent the reaction he hoped for has arrived. The latter-day student of 'Sigis-munda,' unblinded by political prejudice or private animosity, renders full justice to the soundness of its execution and the undoubted skill of its technique. Indeed, at the present moment, the tendency seems to be rather to overrate than to underrate its praiseworthy qualities. Yet, when all is said, the subject remains an unattractive and even a repulsive one. It must be admitted also that, in one respect, contemporary critics were right. They were wrong in their unreasoning preference for doubtful 'exotics,' but they were right in their contention that, upon this occasion, Hogarth had strayed perilously from his own peculiar walk, and that so-called 'history painting' was _not_ his strongest point. Conscientious and painstaking, 'Sigismunda' is still a mistake, although it is the mistake of a great artist; and Hogarth's recorded partiality for it affords but one more example of that unaccountable blindness which led Addison to put his poems before the 'Spectator,' Prior to rank his 'Solomon' above the 'loose and hasty scribble' of 'Alma,' and Liston, whose nose alone was provocative of laughter, to cherish the extraordinary delusion that his true vocation was that of a tragic actor.
X. 'THE CITIZEN OF THE WORLD.'
|WHAT was it that suggested to Goldsmith raphers and commentators have pointed to more than one plausible model,--the 'Lettres Persanes' of Montesquieu, the 'Lettres d'une Péruvienne' of Madame de Graffigny, the 'Lettres Chinoises' of the Marquis d'Argens, the 'Asiatic' of Voltaire's 'Lettres Philosophiques.' But it is sometimes wise, especially in such hand-to-mouth work as journalism, which was all Goldsmith at first intended, to seek for origins in the immediate neighbourhood rather than in remoter places. In 1757 Horace Walpole published anonymously, in pamphlet form, a clever little squib upon Admiral Byng's 'The Citizen of the World'? Biogtrial in particular and English inconstancy in general, which he entitled 'A Letter from Xo Ho, a Chinese Philosopher at London, to his friend Lien Chi, at Peking.' This was briefly noticed in the May issue of the 'Monthly Review,' where Goldsmith was then acting as scribbler-general to Griffiths, the proprietor of the magazine (his reviews of Home's 'Douglas' and of Burke's 'Sublime and Beautiful' appeared in the same number), and it was described as in Montesquieu's manner. A year later Goldsmith is writing mysteriously to his friend Bob Bryan-ton, of Ballymulvey, in Ireland, about a 'Chinese whom he shall soon make talk like an Englishman;' and when at last his 'Chinese Letters,' as they were called at first, begin to appear in Newbury's 'Public Ledger,' he takes for the name of his Oriental, Lien Chi Altangi, one of Walpole's imaginary correspondents having been Lien Chi. This chain of association, if slight, is strong enough to justify some connection. The fundamental idea, no doubt, was far older than either Walpole or Goldsmith; but it is not too much to suppose that Walpole's _jeu d'esprit_ supplied just that opportune suggestion which produced the remarkable and now too-much-neglected series of letters afterwards reprinted under the general title of 'The Citizen of the World.'
'The metaphors and illusions,' says Goldsmith in one of those admirable prefaces of which he possessed the secret, 'are all drawn from the East;' and in another place he tells us that a certain apostrophe is wholly translated from Ambulaaohamed, a real (or fictitious) Arabian poet. To these ingenuities he no doubt attached the exaggerated importance habitually assigned to work which has cost its writer pains. But it is not the adroitness of his adaptations from Le Comte and Du Halde that most detains us now. The purely Oriental part of the work--although it includes the amusing story (an 'Ephesian Matron' _à la Chinoise_) of the widow who, in her haste to marry again, fans her late husband's grave to dry it quicker, and the apologue of Prince Bonbennin and the White Mouse--is practically dead wood. It is Goldsmith under the transparent disguise of Lien Chi--Goldsmith commenting, after the manner of Addison and Steele, upon Georgian England, that attracts and interests the modern reader. His Chinese Philosopher might well have wondered at the lazy puddle moving muddily along the ill-kept London streets, at the large feet and white teeth of the women, at the unwieldy signs with their nondescript devices, at the unaccountable fashion of lying-in-state; but it is Goldsmith, and Goldsmith only, who could have imagined the admirable humour of the dialogue on liberty between a prisoner (through his grating), a porter pausing from his burden to denounce slavery and the French, and a soldier who, with a tremendous oath, advocates, above all, the importance of religion. It is Goldsmith again--the Goldsmith of Green-Arbour-Court and Griffith's back-parlour--who draws, from a harder experience than could have been possible to Lien Chi, the satiric picture of the so-called republic of letters which forms his twentieth epistle. 'Each looks upon his fellow as a rival, not an assistant in the same pursuit. They calumniate, they injure, they despise, they ridicule each other: if one man writes a book that pleases, others shall write books to show that he might have given still greater pleasure, or should not have pleased. If one happens to hit on something new, there are numbers ready to assure the public that all this was no novelty to them or the learned; that Cardanus or Brunus, or some other author too dull to be generally read, had anticipated the discovery. Thus, instead of uniting like the members of a commonwealth, they are divided into almost as many factions as there are men; and their jarring constitution, instead of being styled a republic of letters, should be entitled an anarchy of literature.' One rubs one's eyes as one reads; one asks oneself under one's breath if it is of our day that the satirist is speaking. No; it is of the reign of the second of the Georges, before Grub Street was turned into Milton Street.
Literature, in its different aspects, plays not a small part in the lucubrations of Lien Chi. Two of the best letters are devoted to a whimsical description of the vagaries of some of its humbler professors, who hold a Saturday Club at the 'Broom' at Islington; others treat of the decay of poetry; of novels, and 'Tristram Shandy' in particular; of the necessity of intrigue or riches as a means to success. Nor are Art and the Drama neglected. The virtuoso, who afforded such a fund of amusement to Fielding and Smollett, receives his full share of attention; and in the papers upon acting and actors, Goldsmith once more displays that critical common-sense which he had shown so conspicuously in 'The Bee.' Travellers and their trivialities are freely ridiculed; there are papers on Newmarket, on the Marriage Act, on the coronation, on the courts of justice; on quacks, gaming, paint, mourning, and mad dogs. There is a letter on the irreverent behaviour of the congregation in St. Paul's; there is another on the iniquity of making shows of public monuments. Now and then a more serious note is touched, as when the author is stirred to unwonted gravity by the savage penal code of his day, which, 'cementing the laws with blood,' closed every avenue with a gibbet, and against which Johnson too lifted his sonorous voice.=
```'Scarce can our fields, such crowds at Tyburn die,
```With hemp the gallows and the fleet supply,'--=
he sang in 'London,' anticipating his later utterances in 'The Rambler.' Goldsmith, on the other hand, crystallized in his verse the raw material of which he made his Chinese philosopher the mouthpiece. Several of the best known passages of his two longest poems have their first form in the prose of Lien Chi. Indeed, one actual line of 'The Traveller,' 'A land of tyrants, and a den of slaves,' is simply a textual quotation from 'The Citizen of the World.'
But what in the Chinese letters is even more remarkable than their clever raillery of social incongruities and abuses, is their occasional indication of the author's innate but hitherto undisclosed gift for the delineation of humorous character. Up to this time he had exhibited no particular tendency in this direction. The little sketches of Jack Spindle and 'my cousin Hannah,' in 'The Bee,' go no farther than the corresponding personifications of particular qualities in the 'Spectator' and 'Tatler;' and they are not of the kind which, to employ a French figure, 'enter the skin' of the personality presented. But in the case of the eccentric philanthropist of 'The Citizen of the World,' whom he christens the 'Man in Black,' he comes nearer to such a definite embodiment as Addison's 'Will Wimble.' The 'Man in Black' is evidently a combination of some of those Goldsmith family traits which were afterwards so successfully recalled in Dr. Primrose, Mr. Hardcastle, and the clergyman of 'The Deserted Village.' The contrast between his credulous charity and his expressed distrust of human nature, between his simulated harshness and his real amiability, constitutes a type which has since been often used successfully in English literature; it is clear, too, that in the account of his life he borrows both from his author and his author's father. When he speaks of his unwillingness to take orders, of his dislike to wear a long wig when he preferred a short one, or a black coat when he dressed in brown, he is only giving expression to that incompatibility of temper which led to Goldsmith's rejection for ordination by the Bishop of Elphin; while in his picture of his father's house, with its simple, kindly prodigality, its little group of grateful parasites who laugh, like Mr. Hardcastle's servants, at the host's old jokes, and the careless paternal benevolence which makes the children 'mere machines of pity,' 'instructed in the art of giving away thousands before they were taught the more necessary qualifications of getting a farthing,' one recognizes the environment of that emphatically Irish household on the road from Ballymahon to Athlone, in which Goldsmith's own boyhood had been spent.
Excellent as he is, however, the 'Man in Black,' with his grudging generosity and his 'reluctant goodness,' is surpassed in completeness of characterization by the more finished portrait of Beau Tibbs. The poor little pinched pretender to fashion, with his tarnished finery and his reed-voiced, simpering helpmate,--with his coffee-house cackle of my Lord Mudler and the Duchess of Piccadilly, and his magnificent promises of turbot and ortolan, which issue pitifully in postponed ox-cheek and bitter beer,--approaches the dimensions of a masterpiece. Charles Lamb, one would think, must have rejoiced over the reckless assurance which expatiates on the charming view of the Thames from the garret of a back-street in the suburbs, which glorifies the 'paltry, unframed pictures' on its walls into essays in the manner of the celebrated Grisoni and transforms a surly Scotch hag-of-all-work into an old and privileged family-servant,--the gift 'of a friend of mine, a Parliament man from the Highlands.' Nor are there many pages in Dickens more perennially humorous than the scene in which the 'Man in Black,' his _inamorata_ the pawnbroker's widow, and Mr. and Mrs. Tibbs, all make a party to the picturesque old Vauxhall Gardens of Jonathan Tyers. The inimitable sparring which ensues between the second-hand gentility of the beau's lady and the moneyed vulgarity of the tradesman's relict, their different and wholly irreconcilable views of the entertainment, and the tragic termination of the whole, by which the widow is balked of 'the waterworks' because good manners constrain her to sit out the wiredrawn _roulades_ and quavers of Mrs. Tibbs--these are things which age cannot wither nor custom stale. If Goldsmith had written nothing but this miniature trilogy of Beau Tibbs,--if Dr. Primrose were uninvented and Tony Lumpkin non-existent,--he would still have earned a perpetual place among English humourists.
Something of this, undoubtedly, he owed to the fortunate instinct which dictated his choice of his material. The forerunner of Dickens,--the disciple, although he knew it not, of Fielding,--he makes his capital by his disregard of the reigning models of his time. Declining to select his characters from the fashionable abstractions of Sentimental Comedy and the mechanical puppets of conventional High Life, he turns aside to the moving, various, many-coloured middle-classes, from whose ranks originality has not yet been banished, or nature cast out. Of these he had knowledge and experience; of those he had seen but little. Upon the other walk, his labours might have been as forgotten as the 'Henry' of Richard Cumberland or the 'Henrietta' of Mrs. Charlotte Lenox. But he took his own line; and in consequence, Beau Tibbs and the pawnbroker's widow (with her rings and her green damask) are as much alive to-day as Partridge or Mrs. Nickleby.
XI. AN OLD LONDON BOOKSELLER.
|DEC. 22. Mr. John Newbery, of St. Paul's who knew him.' These words, copied from the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for 1767, record the death of one who, in his way, was an eighteenth century notability. He belonged to the good old 'Keep-your-Shop-and-your-Shop-will-keep-you' class of tradesmen, who lived without pretence near their places of business in the City, worked industriously during the week, marched off to St. Bride's or St. Dunstan's on Sunday morning with a crop-eared 'prentice in the rear to carry the great gilt Bible, and jogged away in crowded chaises of summer afternoons to eat tarts at Highgate or drink tea out of china in the Long churchyard, sincerely lamented by all.
In due time they made their 'plumbs;' sent their sons to St. Paul's or Merchant Taylors', sometimes even to Oxford or Cambridge; and finally left their portraits to posterity in the becoming and worshipful garb of Sheriffs or Common-councilmen. Unfortunately for this paper, there is no such limner's likeness of 'honest John Newbery.' Yet we are not wholly without details as to his character and personal appearance. That 'glorious pillar of unshaken orthodoxy,' Dr. Primrose, formerly of Wakefield, for whom, as all the world knows, he had published a pamphlet' 'against the Deuterogamists of the age,' describes him as a red-faced, good-natured little man, who was always in a hurry. 'He was no sooner alighted,' says the worthy Vicar, 'but he was in haste to be gone; for he was ever on business of the utmost importance.' 'Mr. Idler' confirms this indication. 'When he enters a house, his first declaration is, that he cannot sit down; and so short are his visits, that he seldom appears to have come for any other reason but to say, He must go.' It is not difficult to fill in the outline of Johnson and Goldsmith. 'The philanthropic bookseller in St. Paul's church-yard' was plainly a bustling, multifarious, and not unkindly personage, essentially commercial, essentially enterprising, rigorously exacting his money's worth of work, keeping prudent record of all casual cash advances, but, on the whole, not unbeneficent in his business fashion to the needy brethren of the pen by whom he was surrounded. Many of John Newbery's guineas passed to Johnson, to Goldsmith, to poor mad Christopher Smart, who married his step-daughter. As Johnson implies, it is not impossible that he finally fell a victim to that unreasoning mental activity which left him always struggling hopelessly with more schemes and proposals than one man could possibly manage. His wig must often have been awry, and his spectacles mislaid, in that perpetual journey from pillar to post which ultimately landed him, at the comparatively early age of fifty-four, in his grave at Waltham St. Lawrence.
It was at Waltham St. Lawrence, a quiet little Berkshire village, whose churchyard is dotted with the tombs of earlier Newberys, that he had been born. His father, a small farmer, destined him for his own calling. But, like Gay, it was not John Newbery's fate 'to brighten ploughshares in paternal land.' He passed early into the service of a 'merchant,' otherwise a printer and newspaper proprietor, at Reading, managing so well that, when his employer died, he was left a co-legatee in the business. Thereupon, being a resolute man, he did better still, and married his master's widow, who had three children. Even this succeeded; upon which, progressing always in prosperity, he began to think of starting in London. Before doing so, he made a tour in the provinces. Of this expedition there exists a curious record in the shape of an unprinted journal, throwing much light upon modes of travelling in those early coaching days, when the unfortunate outside passenger (like Pastor Moritz in a later paper *) had to choose between being jolted to death in the basket, or clinging like a fly to the slippery top of the vehicle.
* See-post, 'A German in England.'
The majority of the entries are merely matter of business,--titles for new books, recipes for diet-drinks, shrewd trade maxims, and the like. But here and there the writer intersperses notes of general interest,--on Dick Turpin the highwayman, on Lady Godiva and peeping Tom, and (more than once) upon that 'curious and very useful machine,' the Ducking-Stool for scolds, a 'plan of which instrument (he says) he shall procure and transplant to Berkshire for the good of his native county.' His business at Reading was as miscellaneous as his memorandum book, and he seems to have dealt in all kinds of goods. About 1744 he removed to London, opening a shop at the sign of the 'Bible and Crown,' near Devereux Court, without Temple Bar, together with a branch establishment at the Royal Exchange. To this Johnson probably refers when he says: 'He has one habitation near Bow Church, and another about a mile distant. By this ingenious distribution of himself between two houses, he has contrived to be found at neither.' From the 'Bible and Crown,' which had been his old Reading sign, he moved a year later to the 'Bible and Sun' in St. Paul's Churchyard. This continued to be his headquarters until his death. Gradually his indiscriminate activities narrowed themselves to two distinct branches of business, in these days incongruous enough,--the sale of books and the sale of patent medicines. While at Reading, he had become part owner, among other things, of Dr. Hooper's Female Pills; and soon after his settlement in London, he acquired the sole management of a more famous panacea, Dr. James's Fever Powders, which had in their time an extraordinary vogue. According to Mrs. Delany, the King dosed the Princess Elizabeth with them; Gray and Cowper both believed in their efficacy; and Horace Walpole, declared he should take them if the house were on fire. Fielding specially praises them in 'Amelia,' affirming that in almost any country but England they would have brought 'public Honours and Rewards' to his 'worthy and ingenious Friend Dr. James;' while Goldsmith may be said to have laid down his life for them. With the sale of these and kindred specifics, John Newbery alternated his unwearied speculations as a bookseller. He was at the back of Smollett's venture of the 'British Magazine;' it was for his 'Universal Chronicle' that Johnson wrote his 'Idler' and quizzed his proprietor as 'Jack Whirler;' he was the publisher of Goldsmith's 'Traveller' and 'Citizen of the World;' and lie probably found part of the historical sixty guineas which somebody paid for the 'Vicar of Wakefield.' He died at Canbury or Canonbury House, Islington, in the still-existent Tower of which he was an occasional resident. Indeed, it is more than probable that he was at one time the responsible landlord of that favourite retiring place for literary men,--a retiring place not without its exceptional advantages, if we* are to believe last-century advertisements, which, in addition to a natural cold bath, speak of 'a superlative Room, furnish'd for a single Person, or two Gentlemen, having a Prospect into five Counties ['_longos prospicit agros!_'], and the use of a good Garden and Summer-House.' Besides this there were traditions of Prior Bolton and Anne of Cleves, of Bacon and Elizabeth, of Sir John Spencer and William Fielding, Earl of Denbigh (the novelist's grand-uncle), which certainly have figured in any schedule of attractions, and must naturally have been interesting to the Smarts and Hills and Woodfalls and Goldsmiths who afterwards inhabited the old ivy-clad Tower.
Newbery's epitaph in the churchyard of his native village lays its main stress upon his connection with Dr. James's nostrum; and it was doubtless to this and the other patent medicines with which he was connected that he owed the material part of his prosperity. Yet it is not now upon the celebrated 'Arquebusade Water' (dear to Lady Mary Coke), or the far-famed 'Cephalic Snuff,' or the incomparable 'Beaume de Vie,' once so familiar in eighteenth-century advertisements, that he bases his individual claim to the gratitude of posterity. It is, to quote his biographer, Mr. Welsh, as 'the first bookseller who made the issue of books, specially intended for children, a business of any importance;' as the publisher of 'The Renowned History of Giles Gingerbread: a little Boy who lived upon Learning,' of 'Mrs. Margery Two-Shoes' (afterward Lady Jones), of the redoubtable 'Tommy Trip and his dog Jouler,' of the 'Lilliputian Magazine,' and of numbers of other tiny masterpieces in that flowered and gilt Dutch paper of which the art has been lost, that he is best remembered. Concerning these commendable little treatises, with their matter-of-fact title-pages and their artless appeal to all little Masters and Misses 'who are good, or intend to be good,' there are varying opinions. Dr. Johnson, according to Mrs. Thrale, thought them too childish for their purpose. He preferred the 'Seven Champions,' or 'Parisenus and Parismenus.' 'Babies,' he said in his legislative way, 'do not want to hear about babies. They like to be told of giants and castles, and of somewhat which can stretch and stimulate their little minds.' 'Remember always,' he added, 'that the parents buy the books, and that the children never read them.' Yet it is claimed for Robert Southey that in Newbery's 'delectable histories' he found just that very stimulus which made him a life-long book-lover; and it is characteristic of Charles Lamb (a better judge of children's literature than Johnson) that he puts forward these particular publications against the Bar-baulds and Trimmers ('those blights and blasts of all that is human in man and child'), as presenting the very quality which Johnson desired, the 'beautiful interest in wild tales, which made the child a man, while all the time he suspected himself to be no bigger than a child.' 'Think what you would have been now,' he writes to Coleridge of 'Goody Two-Shoes,' 'if instead of being fed with tales and old wives' fables in childhood, you had been crammed with geography and natural history!' The authorship of these 'classics of the nursery' is an old battle ground. Newbery, it is alleged, wrote some of them himself. He was (says Dr. Primrose when he met him) 'at that time actually compiling materials for the history of one Mr. Thomas Trip,' and if this can hardly be accepted as proof positive, it may be safely asserted that to Newbery's business instincts are due those ingenious references to his different wares and publications which crop up so unexpectedly in the course of the narrative. For example, in 'Goody Two-Shoes' we are told that the heroine's father 'died miserably' because he was 'seized with a violent Fever in a place where Dr. James's Powder was not to be had!' But who were Newbery's assistant authors? Giles and Griffith Jones, say some; Oliver Goldsmith, say others. With respect to the last-named no particular testimony seems to be forthcoming beyond his known relations to the publisher, and the so-called 'evidence of style.' In the absence of confirmatory details the former is worthless; and the latter is often entirely misleading. Without going back to the time-honoured case of Erasmus and Scaliger's oration, two modern instances of this may be cited. Mr. Thackeray, says Mr. Forster, claimed the 'Pleasant and Delightful History of Thomas Hickathrift' for Henry Fielding. But both Mr. Forster and Mr. Thackeray should have remembered that their common acquaintance, Mr. Isaac Bickerstaff, of the 'Tatler,' had written of Hickathrift as a chap-book when Fielding was a baby. In the same way 'Tommy Trip' has, by no mean judges, been attributed to Goldsmith upon the strength of the following quatrain:--=
````'Three children sliding on the ice
`````Upon a summer's day,
````As it fell out they all fell in,
`````The rest they ran away.'=
Alas! and alas! for the 'evidence of style.' Not only had these identical lines been turned into Latin in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for July, 1754, when Goldsmith was still studying medicine at Leyden; but they are quoted at p. 30 of 'The Character of Richard St[ee]le,
Esq;' by 'Toby, Abel's Kinsman,' which was issued by 'J. Morphew, near Stationer's Hall,' as far back as the month of November, 1713. As a matter of fact, they are much older still, being affirmed by Chambers in his excellent 'Book of Days' to be, in their first form, part of a long and rambling story in doggerel rhyme dating from the early part of the Civil Wars, which is to be found at the end of a little old book entitled 'The Loves of Hero and Leander,' 12mo, London, 1653, and 1677.
XII. GRAY'S LIBRARY.
|AMONG Gray's papers was one inscribed 'Dialogue of Books.' The handwriting was that of his biographer Mason, but it was believed to be either by Gray or by West. There is a strong presumption that the author was Gray; and it is accordingly attributed to him in the Rev. D. C. Tovey's 'Gray and his Friends,' where for the first time it was printed. It shows us the little great man (if it is accurately dated 1742, it must have been in the year of his fullest poetical activity) sitting tranquilly in his study chair, when he is 'suddenly alarmd with a great hubbub of Tongues.' He listens; and finds that his books are talking to one another. Madame de Sévigné is being what Mrs. Gamp would call 'scroudged' by Aristotle, who replies to her compressed expostulations with all the brutality of a philosopher and a realist. Thereupon she appeals to her relative, the author of the 'Histoire amoureuse des Gaules.' But the gallant M. Bussy-Rabutin, himself pining for an interchange of compliments with a neighbouring Catullus, is hopelessly penned in by a hulking edition of Strabo, and cannot possibly arrive to the assistance of his _belle Cousine_. Elsewhere La Bruyère comments upon the strange companions with whom Fate has acquainted him; and Locke observes, with a touch of temper, that _he_ is associated with Ovid,--and Ray the Naturalist! * Virgil placidly quotes a line of his own poems; More, the Platonist, delivers himself of a neat little copybook sentiment in praise of theological speculation; and great fat Dr. Cheyne huskily mutters his own adage, 'Every man after forty is either a fool or a Physician.'
* Ray's 'Select Remains' with life by Derham, 1740, and many marginal notes by Gray, was recently in a London bookseller's catalogue.
In another corner an ill-judged and irrelevant remark by Euclid, touching the dimensions of a point, brings down upon him the scorn both of Swift and Boileau, who clamour for the unconditional suppression of mathematics. (If there be nothing else, this in itself is almost sufficient to fix the authorship of the paper with Gray, whose hatred of mathematics was only equalled by that of Goldsmith.) Then a pert exclamation from a self-sufficient _Vade Mecum_ provokes the owner of the library to so hearty an outburst of merriment that the startled tones at once shrink back into 'uncommunicating muteness.' Laughter, it would seem, is as fatal to books as it was of old to the Coquecigrues.
Whether Gray's library ever again broke silence, his biographers have not related. But if his books were pressed for space while in his possession, they have since enjoyed ample opportunities for change of air and scene. When he died he left them, with his manuscripts, to Mason, who in turn bequeathed them to the poet's friend Stonehewer, from whom they passed, in part, to a relative, Mr. Bright of Skeffington Hall. At Mr. Bright's death, being family property, they were sold by auction. In August, 1851, they were again offered for sale; and three years later a number of them, which had apparently been reserved or bought in, once more came under the hammer at Sotheby and Wilkinson's. We have before us the catalogue of the second sale, which is naturally much fuller than that of 1854. What strikes one first is the care with which the majority of the volumes had been preserved by their later possessors. Many of the Note-Books were cushioned on velvet in special cases, while the more precious manuscripts had been skilfully inlaid, and bound in olive morocco with leather joints and linings of crimson silk. Like Prior, Gray must have preserved almost everything, 'e'en from his boyish days.' Among the books is 'Plutarch's Lives,' with Dacier's notes, and the inscription, 'E libris Thomæ Gray, Scholæ Eton: Alumn. Januar. 22, 1733'--a year before he left for Cambridge; there is also his copy of Pope's 'Iliad,' with autograph date a year earlier; there is a still more youthful (though perhaps more suspicious) possession--namely, three volumes of Dryden's 'Virgil,' which were said to have actually belonged to Pope. 'Ex libris A. Pope, 1710,' was written at the back of the portrait, and the same inscription recurred in each volume, though in the others some Vandal, probably a classmate, by adding a tail to the 'P' and an 'r' at the end, had turned the 'Pope' into 'Roper.' Another of Gray's Eton books was a Waller, acquired in 1729, in which favourite poems and passages were underlined.
Of the classics he must have been a most unwearied and sedulous student. Euripides he read in the great folio of Joshua Barnes (Cantab. 1694), which is marked throughout by a special system of stars, inverted commas, and lines in red crayon; and his note-books bristle with extracts, neatly 'arranged and digested,' from all the best Greek authors--Sophocles, Thucydides, Xenophon, and even that Isocrates whom Goldsmith, from the critical altitudes of the 'Monthly Review,' recommended him to study. At other 'classics' he worked with equal diligence. His 'Decameron'--the London _quarto_ of 1725--was filled with _marginalia_ identifying Boccaccio's sources of inspiration and principal imitators, while his Milton--the two-volume _duodecimo_ of 1730-8--was interleaved,and annotated profusely with parallel passages drawn from the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, and 'the ancients.'' He had crowded Dugdale's 'Baronage' with corrections and additions; he had largely 'commented' the four folio volumes of Clarendon's 'Rebellion;' and he had followed everywhere, with remorseless rectifications, the vagrant utterances of gossiping Gilbert Burnet. His patience, accuracy, research, were not less extraordinary than his odd, out-of-the-way knowledge. In the 'Voyages de Bergeron' (quarto) that author says: 'Mango Cham fut noie.' No, comments Gray, decisively, 'Muncacâ or Mangu-Khanw was not drowned, but in reality slain in China at the siege of Hochew in 1258.' Which of us could oblige an inquisitive examiner with the biography of this Eastern potentate! Which of us would not be reduced to 'combining our information' (like the ingenious writer on Chinese Metaphysics) as to 'mangoes' and 'great Chams'!
But the two most interesting items of the Catalogue are yet unmentioned. One is the laborious collection of Manuscript Music that Gray compiled in Italy while frivolous Horace Walpole was eating iced fruits in a domino to the sound of a guitar. Zamperelli, Pergolesi, Arrigoni, Galuppi--he has ransacked them all, noting the school of the composer and the source of the piece selected--copying out religiously even the 'Regole per l'Accompagnamento.' The other, which we who write have seen, is the famous Linnaeus exhibited at Cambridge in 1885 by Mr. Ruskin. It is an interleaved copy of the 'Systema Naturae,' two volumes in three, covered as to their margins and added pages with wonderful minute notes in Latin, and illustrated by Gray himself with delicately finished pen-and-ink drawings of birds and insects. During the later part of his life these volumes, we are told, were continually on his table, and his absorbing love for natural history is everywhere manifested in his journals and pocket-books. When he is in the country, he classes the plants; when in town, he notes the skins of birds in shops; and when he eats whitebait at Greenwich, he straightway describes that dainty in the language of Tacitus. _Nullus odor nisi Piscis; farina respersus, frixusque editur_.
Among the manuscripts proper of this collection, the place of honour belongs to one which Mason had labelled 'Original Copy of the Elegy in a Country Church Yard.' In addition to other variations from the printed text, erased words in this MS. showed that Cato stood originally for Hampden, and Tully and Cæsar for Milton and Cromwell:=
``'Some mute inglorious Tully here may rest,
```Some Cæsar guiltless of his country's blood.'=
Here, too, were found those well-known but rejected 'additional' stanzas:=
```'The thoughtless World to Majesty may bow,
````Exalt the brave, and idolize Success;
```But more to Innocence their Safety owe
````Than Pow'r and Genius e'er conspir'd to bless.=
```'And thou, who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead,
````Dost in these Notes their artless Tale relate,
```By Night and lonely Contemplation led
````To linger in the gloomy Walks of Fate:=
```'Hark! how the sacred Calm that broods around,
````Bids ev'ry fierce tumultuous Passion cease;
```In still small Accents whisp'ring from the Ground,
````A grateful Earnest of eternal Peace.=
```'No more, with Reason and thyself at Strife,
````Give anxious Cares and endless Wishes room;
```But thro' the cool sequester'd Vale of Life
````Pursue the silent Tenour of thy Doom.' *=
* Another additional stanza, perhaps better known than the above, does not occur in the 'Original Copy' of the Elegy, but in a later MS. at Pembroke College:--=
```'There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the Year,
```By Hands unseen, are Show'rs of Violets found:
```The Red-breast loves to build, & warble there,
```And little Footsteps lightly print the Ground.'=
```His bushy beard, and shoe-strings green,
````His high-crown'd hat, and sattin-doublet,
```Mov'd the stout heart of England's Queen,
````Tho' Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it.'=
```'Who prowl'd the country far and near,
````Bewitch'd the children of the peasants,
```Dried up the cows, and lam'd the deer,
````And suck'd the eggs, and kill'd the pheasants.'=
Another group of autographs in this volume had a special interest. The first was the notelet, or 'spell,' which Lady Schaub and Miss Speed left for Gray upon that first call when the nervous poet was 'not at home' to his unexpected visitors. Next to this came the poem which the note elicited--that charming 'Long Story,' with its echo of Matthew Prior, which has set their tune to so many later verse-spinners:
Does not one seem to catch in this the coming cadences of another haunter of the 'Poets' Walk' at Eton--of Winthrop Mackworth Praed; nay, an it be not _lèse majesté_, even of the lighter strains of Lord Tennyson himself! To the 'Long Story' followed Miss Speed's polite little acknowledgment with its invitation to dinner, and a few pages further on the verses beginning--=
```* Midst Beauty and Pleasure's gay Triumphs to languish,'=
which Gray probably wrote for her--verses in which there is more of poetic ardour than genuine passion. Gray was not a marrying man. Yet one feels half sorry that he was never united to 'Your oblig'd & obedient Henrietta Jane Speed,' with her £30,000, her house in town, and her 'china and old japan infinite.' Still more to be resented is the freak of Fate which transformed the delightful Melissa of the 'Long Story' into the berouged French Baronne who, sixteen years later, in company with her lap-dogs, piping bullfinch, and cockatoo, arrived from the Hague as Madame de la Perrière, and 'Ministress at London.'
The large _quarto_ volume containing the above poems also included the first sketch in red crayon of Gray's unfinished Latin Poem, 'De Principiis Cogitandi,' and a copy of the translation of the Ugolino episode from the 'Inferno,' first printed by Mr. Gosse in 1884. Of the volumes of miscellaneous MSS. (where was found the 'Dialogue of Books') it is impossible to speak here. But among the rest comes a copy of the 'Strawberry Hill' edition of the 'Odes by Mr. Gray'--those Odes which at first he had so obstinately refused to annotate. 'If a thing cannot be understood without notes,' he told Walpole, 'it had better not be understood at all.' He must, however, have subsequently recanted, since this copy is filled with carefully written explanations of the allusions, and with indications of the sources of information. This book and the Note-books of Travel and Reading, with their methodical arrangement, their scrupulous accuracy, their unwearied pains, all help us to understand that leisurely fastidiousness, that hesitating dilettanteism, that endless preluding to unachieved performance, which make of the most literary, exact, and polished of poets, at the same time the least copious of writers. In his bust in the Pembroke College, Mr. Hamo Thorny-croft has happily succeeded in accentuating these qualities of refinement and intellectual precision. For the rest, is not Gray wholly contained in the vignette of Rogers to Mitford?
Gray, he says, saw little society in London. He had 'a nice dinner from the Tavern brought to his lodgings, a glass or two of sweet wine, and [here is a delightful touch!] as he sippd it talked about great People.' It needs but to fill the room with those scarlet martagon-lilies and double stocks for which he trudged daily to Covent Garden, to spread a meteorological register upon the writing-table, to open Gavin Douglas his 'Palice of Honour' in the window-seat--and the picture is finished.
XIII. THE NEW CHESTERFIELD.
|LORD CHESTERFIELD detested proverbs. For him they were not so much the wit of one man and the wisdom of many, as the cheap rhetoric of the vulgar, to which no person of condition could possibly condescend. Yet it is his Lordship's misfortune to suggest one of the homeliest. Nothing so well describes the state of his modern reputation as the familiar adage, 'Give a dog a bad name, and hang him.' Dr. Johnson, who had more or less valid reasons for antagonism, characterized the famous letters in one of those vigorous verdicts, the compactness of which has sometimes been allowed to condone injustice. They taught, he declared, 'the morals of a courtesan, * and the manners of a dancing-master.'
* Modern usage here requires the alteration of a word.
Cowper followed suit. Addressing the author in the 'Progress of Error' as Petronius, he informed him that the tears of the Muses would 'scald his memory;' and after apostrophizing him as a 'graybeard corrupter of our listening youth,' and a 'polish'd and high-finish'd foe to Truth,' adjured him finally (and rather fatuously) to send from the shades some message of recantation,--in all of which there is more of poetic phraseology than energy of reproach. With the novelists Lord Chesterfield has hardly fared better. Dickens, who drew upon him for Sir John Chester in 'Barnaby Rudge,' makes that personage declare enthusiastically that 'in every page of this enlightened writer, he finds some captivating hypocrisy which had never occurred to him before, or some superlative piece of selfishness to which he was utterly a stranger.' The picture in Thackeray's 'Virginians' is quieter and more lifelike. We are shown Lord Chesterfield at Tunbridge, when Harry Warrington makes his _debut_ there--'a little beetle-browed, hook-nosed, high-shouldered gentleman,' much like his portrait by Gainsborough, sitting over his wine at the White Horse with M. de Pollnitz, rallying and ironically complimenting that ambiguous adventurer, making magnificent apology to Mr. Warrington when he has unwittingly insulted him, and, at a later period, with his customary composure, losing six hundred pounds to him at cards. As to this last detail there may be doubts. Thackeray probably counted upon human frailty and the inveteracy of an ancient habit, but Lord Carnarvon says that Lord Chesterfield gave up play when he accepted office, and he had been Ambassador at the Hague and Viceroy in Ireland years before he met Colonel Esmond's grandson at M. Barbeau's much-frequented ordinary in the Wells.
Turning to the two quarto volumes which, in March, 1774, were sent forth from Golden Square by that not entirely discreet and certainly rapacious representative, his Lordship's daughter-in-law, one's first impression is that they have been more talked about in the light of Johnson's epigram than read by that of their own merits. No one, of course, would affirm, even allowing for the corrupt state of the society in which they were written, that their moral tone, in one respect especially, is defensible; nor can it be denied, even supposing them to emanate from a friend rather than a parent, that they contain passages which, to our modern taste, are more than unpleasant. But without in the least attempting to extenuate these objectionable features of the correspondence, it is but just to its author to remember that it was never intended either for the public instruction or for the public eye. When Mrs. Eugenia Stanhope trusted the letters would be of use 'to the Youth of these Kingdoms,' she was palpably overlooking this obvious fact. If Lord Chesterfield had published them himself, he would no doubt have considerably edited them; but it is extremely unlikely that he would ever have published them at all. The principles which he desired to instil into Philip Stanhope were the principles of the society in which Philip Stanhope was moving--they were those of his patron, Lord Albemarle, and his preceptress, Lady Hervey. They were intended not for the world at large, but for the narrower world of fashion.
The systematic dissimulation which they appear to inculcate has also been urged against them. But here again it seems to have been forgotten that young Stanhope was intended for a politician and statesman,--that what his father most desired for him was the successes of a court and the rewards of diplomacy. After all, the _volto sciolto_ and _pensieri stretti_, the 'looks loose' and 'thoughts close,' * which he so persistently enjoins, are no more than the unimpeachable Sir Henry Wotton impressed upon the equally unimpeachable John Milton.
* A more popular rendering of this useful maxim is the 'heyes hopen and mouth shut' of Thomas the footman in 'The Newcomes,' eh. xlvii.
Lord Chesterfield puts his points coldly and cynically; but by his excellent sermon on the _suaviter in modo_ and the _fortiter in re_, he preaches in reality little beyond that necessary conciliation of the feelings of others which is inculcated by almost every manual of ethics. Again, if he harps somewhat wearisomely upon '_les manières, les bienséances, les agrémens_, it is precisely because these were the weak points of his pupil, who, master at twenty of Latin, Greek, and political history, speaking readily German, French, and Italian, having a remarkable memory and a laudable curiosity, still retained an awkwardness of address which neither Marcel nor Desnoyers could wholly overcome, * and a defective enunciation which would have resisted all the pebbles of Demosthenes.
* Desnoyers was the fashionable English dancing-master; Marcel, the French one.
For the rest, Lord Chesterfield's teaching is, in great measure, unexceptionable. Its worst fault, in addition to those already mentioned, is that it too frequently confuses being with seeming, and the assumption of a virtue with the actual possession of it. But many of its injunctions are most praiseworthy, and even admirable as aphorisms; and those to whom their note of worldly wisdom is distasteful must blame not so much the writer, as Horace and Cicero, Bolingbroke and La Bruyère, De Retz and La Rochefoucault, from whom he had compiled his rules for conduct, and shaped his scheme of life.
When Philip Stanhope died at six-and-thirty, neither '_paitri [sic] de graces_' as Lord Chesterfield hoped, nor particularly distinguished in statecraft (he was simply Envoy at Dresden), it was discovered that he had so far adopted the policy of '_pensieri stretti_ as to have been married privately for some years. Probably the shock of this discovery was softened to his father (who nevertheless behaved liberally to the widow) by the fact that, in the failure of his plans for his son, he had already begun to interest himself in the training of another member of his family, a little boy who was destined to be his successor in the earldom. Seven years before Philip Stanhope's death he had opened a new series of letters with a godchild, also Philip Stanhope, and the son of Mr. Arthur Stanhope, of Mansfield, in Nottinghamshire. Beginning when the boy was five and a half, the correspondence was continued for nine years, following him from 'Mr. Robert's boarding School at Marybone by London' to the house in Southampton Row of his tutor, the notorious Dr. Dodd. When the first letter was written, Lord Chesterfield was sixty-seven, and the last was penned only three years before his death. This is the collection which, after being mislaid for a long period, was published in 1889 by the late Lord Carnarvon, to whom it had been presented by his father-in-law, the sixth Earl of Chesterfield. It contributes not a little to the revision of the popular idea formed of the writer,--an idea, it may be added, which, upon re-examination of the earlier correspondence, had already been considerably modified by such critics as Mr. Abraham Hayward and M. Sainte-Beuve. Superficially, the letters resemble their predecessors, and the outline of education is much the same. Little Philip was to be 'perfectly master' of that French which his godfather loved so dearly, and in which he wrote so often and so well; he was to be thoroughly grounded in History, Geography, Dancing, Italian, German; he was to be proficient in Greek and Latin, and he was to complete his studies in the 'well-regulated republic' of Geneva, the salutary austerity of which was then usefully tempered by the presence of Voltaire and the French refugees. Many of the new letters reproduce the old precepts; there are even similarities of thought and phraseology; and though the _volto sciolto_ is not obtruded, the _suaviter in modo_ is still persistently advocated. But age has brought its softening influences--the moral tone is ostensibly higher, and the old worldly _savoir-faire_ has lost much of its ancient cynicism. Some of the axioms which Lord Carnarvon quotes are remarkable for their accent of earnestness; others, as he observes, are 'almost theological' in tone. Saint Augustine, for example, could hardly say more than this: 'Si je pouvois empêcher qu'il n'y eut un seul malheureux sur la Terre, j'y sacrifierois avec plaisir mon bien, mes soins, et même ma santé. C'est le grand devoir de l'homme, surtout de l'homme chrétien.' The next is nearer to the elder manner: 'Ayez une grande Charité pour l'amour de Dieu et une extrême politesse pour l'amour de vous même.' And here is a graver utterance than either: 'God has been so good as to write in all our hearts the duty that He expects from us, which is adoration and thanksgiving and doing all the good we can to our fellow creatures.'
It is extraordingry to note what an infinity of trouble Lord Chesterfield took to arouse and amuse his little pupil. Sometimes the letter is an anecdote, biographical or historical; sometimes a cunningly contrived French vocabulary, one of which, _inter alia_, comprehensively defines 'Les Graces' as 'Something gracefull, genteel, and engaging in the air and figure.' Others (like the admirable papers in 'The World') denounce the prevailing vice of drunkenness. 'Fuyez le vin, car c'est un poison lent, mais sur.' Occasionally a little diagram aids the exposition, as when a rude circle, with a tiny figure at top, stands for 'le petit Stanhope' and 'ses antipodes;' in other cases, the course of instruction in politeness and public speaking is diversified by definitions of similes and metaphors, epigrams, anagrams, and _logogriphes_. Finally, there is a complete treatise, in fourteen epistles, on the 'Art of Pleasing,' from which we extract the following on wit and satire:
'When wit exerts itself in satyr it is a most malignant distemper; wit it is true may be shown in satyr, but satyr does not constitute wit, as most fools imagine it does. A man of real wit will find a thousand better occasions of showing it. Abstain therefore most carefully from satyr, which though it fall upon no particular person in company, and momentarily from the malignity of the human heart, pleases all; upon reflexion it frightens all too, they think it may be their turn next, and will hate you for what they find you could say of them more, than be obliged to you for what you do not say. Fear and hatred are next door neighbours. The more wit you have the more good nature and politeness you must show, to induce people to pardon your superiority, for that is no easy matter.'
Alas! and alas! that so much labour and patience should have been lost. For Philip the Second, though he made no secret marriage, was not a much greater success than Philip the First. He turned out a commonplace country gentleman, amiable, methodical, agricultural, but wholly overshadowed and obliterated by the fame of the accomplished statesman and orator who had directed his studies.
'The bows of eloquence are buried with the Archers.' It is impossible, even with the aid of the phonograph, to recapture the magnetic personality, the fervour of gesture that winged the words and carried conviction to the hearer. Equally impossible is it, in this age of egotisms and eccentricities that pass for character, to realize the fascination of those splendid manners for which Lord Chesterfield was celebrated.
The finished elegance, the watchful urbanity, the perfect ease and self-possession, which Fielding commended, and Johnson could not contest, are things too foreign to our restless overconsciousness to be easily intelligible. But we can at least call up--not without compassionate admiration--the pathetic picture of the deaf old gentleman who had been the rival of 'silver-tongued Murray' and the correspondent of Montesquieu, sitting down at seventy in his solitary study at Babiole * to write, in that wonderful hand of which Lord Carnarvon gives a facsimile, his periodical letter of advice to a _petit bout d'homme_ at Parson Dodd's in Southampton Row, concerning whose career in life he had formed the fondest--and the vainest--expectations.
* Babiole was His Lordship's country-house at Blackheath, so entitled in imitation of Bagatelle, the seat near Paris of his friend Madame la Marquise de Monconseil. It was also the name of a house of Madame de Pompadour.
XIV. A DAY AT STRAWBERRY HILL.
|TO the rigorous exactitudes of modern realism it may seem an almost hopeless task to revive the details of a day in a Twickenham Villa when George the Third was King. And yet, with the aid of Horace Walpole's letters, of the 'Walpoliana' of Pinkerton, and, above all, of the catalogue of Strawberry Hill printed by its owner in 1774, there is no insurmountable difficulty in deciding what must probably have been the customary course of events. Nothing is needed at the outset but to assume that you had arrived, late on the previous night, at the embattled Gothic building on the Teddington Road, and that the fatigues of your journey had left you little more than a vague notion of your host, and a fixed idea that the breakfast hour was nine. Then, after carrying with you into the chintz curtains of the Red Bedchamber an indistinct recollection of Richardson's drawings of Pope and his mother, and of Bermingham's 'owl cut in paper,' which you dimly make out with your candle on the walls, you would be waked at eight next morning by Colomb, the Swiss valet (as great a tyrant over his master as his compatriot Canton in the 'Clandestine Marriage'), and in due time would repair to the blue-papered and blue-furnished Breakfast Room, looking pleasantly on the Thames. Here, coasting leisurely round the apartment, you would probably pause before M. de Carmontel's double picture of your host's dead friend, Madame du Deffand, and her relative the Duchesse de Choiseul, or you would peer curiously at the view of Madame de Sevigné's hotel in the 'Rue Coulture St. Catherine.' Presently would come a patter of tiny feet, and a fat, and not very sociable, little dog, which had once belonged to the said Madame du Deffand, would precede its master, whom you would hear walking, with the stiff tread of an infirm person, from his bedroom on the floor above. Shortly afterwards would enter a tall, slim, frail-looking figure in a morning-gown, with a high, pallid forehead, dark brilliant eyes under drooping lids, and a friendly, but forced and rather unprepossessing smile. Tonton (as the little dog was called), after being cajoled into a semblance of cordiality, would be lifted upon a small sofa at his master's side, the teakettle and heater would arrive, and tea would be served in cups of fine old white embossed Japanese china. And then, the customary salutations exchanged and over, would gradually begin, in a slightly affected fashion, to which you speedily grow accustomed, that wonderful flow of talk which (like Praed's Vicar's)=
```'Slipped from politics to puns,
````And passed from Mahomet to Moses,'--=
that endless stream of admirably told stories, of recollections graphic and humorous, of sallies and _bons mots_, of which Horace Walpole's extraordinary correspondence is the _cooled_ expression, but of the vivacity and variety of which, enhanced as they were by the changes in the speaker's voice and look, and emphasized by his semi-French gesticulation, it is impossible to give any adequate idea. A glance across the river would suggest an anecdote of her Grace the Duchess of Queensberry: a falling spoon, a _mot_ by Lady Townshend. Upon yesterday's execution at Tyburn would follow a vivid picture of the deaths of Balmerino and Kilmarnock; or a reference to your ride from London of the night before, would usher in a full and particular account how the voluble and fascinating gentleman before you, with the great chalk stones in his fingers, was once all but shot through the head by the highwayman James Maclean.
Breakfast over, and a liberal bowl of bread-and-milk tossed out of window to the troops of squirrels that come flocking in from the high trees round the lawn, your host would invite you to make the tour of the grounds, adding (if it were May) that his favourite lilacs were well worth the effort. He would astonish you by going out in his slippers and without a hat; and, in reply to your ill-concealed astonishment, would laughingly compare himself to the Indian in the 'Spectator' who said he was 'all face.' Passing by the Abbot's garden, with its bright parterres, he would lead you to the pretty cottage he had built on the site of the old residence of his deceased tenant Richard Francklin, once printer of that scurrilous 'Craftsman' in which Pulteney and Bolingbroke had so persistently assailed his father. In its sunny, print-hung tea-room, with the 'Little Library' at the side, he would show you the picture of his friend Lady Hervey, once the 'beautiful Molly Lepel' of Pulteney and Chesterfield's ballad, and would tell you that the frame was carved by the same Grinling Gibbons to whom we owe the bronze statue of King James the Second in the Privy Garden at Whitehall. Thence you would pass to the chapel in the wood, with its stained-glass pictures of Henry the Third and his Queen from Bexhill Church, and its shrine from Santa Maria Maggiore at Rome; and he would explain that the roof was designed by that unimpeachable authority in Gothic, Mr. Chute of the Vyne, in Hampshire; that George Augustus Selwyn had given him the great earthen pot at the door; and that the carved bench in the ante-chapel had been contrived by no less a person than the son of the famous 'Ricardus Aristarchus,' Master of Trinity, the--=
```'mighty Scholiast, whose unwearied pains
``Made Horace dull, and humbled Milton's strains--'=
as he would quote from the 'Dunciad' of the late lamented Mr. Pope. Richard Bentley the younger, he would remind you, had also drawn some excellent illustrations to Gray (the originals of which he will show you later in the library); and meanwhile he invites your attention at the end of the winding walk to another masterpiece from the same ingenious brain--a huge oaken seat shaped like a shell, in which once sat together three of the handsomest women in England--the Duchess of Hamilton, the Duchess of Richmond, and the Countess of Ailesbury. If you were still intelligently interested, and your host still unfatigued (for he is capricious and easily tired), you would pass from the garden to the private printing-press, the 'Officina Arbuteana' as he christens it, next the neighbouring farmyard. Here you would be introduced to the superintendent and occasional secretary, Mr. Thomas Kirgate, who, if so minded, would exhibit to you a proof of Miss Hannah More's poem of 'Bishop Bonner's Ghost' (which his patron is kindly setting up for her), or then and there strike you off a piping-hot 'pull' of the latest quatrain to those charming Miss Berrys who are now inhabiting 'Little Strawberry' hard by, once tenanted by red-faced, good-humoured Mrs. Clive. As you return at last to the house, your guide would almost certainly pause in the Little Cloister at the entrance beside the blue and white china tub for goldfish in which was drowned that favourite cat whose fate was immortalized by Gray; and, lifting the label, he would read the poet's words:=
```''T was on this lofty Vase's side,
````Where China's gayest Art has dy'd
```The azure Flow'rs, that blow,
```Demurest of the tabby kind,
```The pensive Selima reclin'd,
````Gaz'd on the Lake below.' * =
* There is one of these labels in the Dyce Collection at South Kensington.
Once more under Bentley's japanned tin lantern in the gloomy little hall, your host, pending the scribbling of half-a-dozen pressing letters' to Lady Ossory, Mr. Pinkerton, or one or other of his many correspondents, would beg you to await him in the Picture Gallery. Here, long before you had exhausted your admiration of the Emperor Vespasian in basalt, or the incomparable Greek Eagle from the baths of Caracalla, he would resume his post of _cicerone_, leading you almost at once to the portraits of his three beautiful nieces, Edward Walpole's daughters, one of whom, painted by Reynolds, had been fortunate enough to marry King George's own brother, William Henry, Duke of Gloucester (a fact of which her uncle Horace is ill-disguisedly proud). From the Gallery you would pass to the Round Drawing-Room, whose chief glory was Vasari's 'Bianca Capello;' and thence to the adjoining Tribune, a curious yellow-lit chamber, with semicircular recesses, in which were accumulated most of the choicest treasures of Strawberry,--miniatures by Cooper and the Olivers, enamels by Petitot and Zincke, gems from Italy, bas-reliefs in ivory, coins and seal-rings and reliquaries and filigree work, in the dispersed profusion of which you would afterwards dimly recall such items as a silver bell carved with masks and insects by Benvenuto Cellini, a missal attributed to Raphael, a bronze Caligula with silver eyes, and a white snuff-box with a portrait purporting to be a gift from Madame de Sévigné in the Elysian Fields, but sent in reality by the faithful Madame du Deffand. Each object would bring its train of associations and traditions; and the fading of the 'all-golden afternoon' would find your companion still promising fresh marvels in the yet unexplored rooms beyond, where are the speculum of cannel coal once used by the notorious starmonger, Dr. John Dee; the red hat of his Eminence Cardinal Wolsey; and the very spurs worn by King William the Third, of immortal memory, at the ever-glorious Battle of the Boyne.
With four o'clock would come dinner, eaten probably in the Refectory, a room consecrated chiefly to the family portraits, conspicuous among which, in blue velvet, was your host by Richardson. The repast was 'of Attic taste,' but with very little wine, as Walpole himself drank nothing but iced water, and 'coffee upstairs' was ordered with such promptitude as to afford the visitor but scanty leisure for lingering over the bottle. About five you migrated to the Round Drawing-Room, where your entertainer, after recommending you to replenish your box with Fribourg's snuff from a canister of which the hiding-place was an ancient marble urn in the window-seat, would take up his station on the sofa, and resume his inexhaustible flood of memories and reflections, always bright, often striking, and never wearisome. Once, perhaps, he would rise to exhibit the closet he had built for Lady Di. Beauclerk's seven drawings in soot-water to his own tragedy of the 'Mysterious Mother;' or he would adjourn for an hour to the Library, to turn over his unrivalled collection of Hogarth's prints; or to show you Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's 'Milton,' or the identical 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey' from which Pope made his translations, or the long row of books printed at the 'Officina Arbuteana.' But he would gravitate sooner or later to his old vantage-ground on the sofa, whence, unhasting, unresting, he would discourse most excellent anecdote into the small hours, when the chintz curtains of the Red Bedchamber would again receive his bewitched and bewildered, but still unsatiated, visitor. And so would end your day at Horace Walpole's Gothic Castle of Strawberry Hill.
XV. GOLDSMITH'S LIBRARY.
|AN auctioneer's catalogue--and particularly an auctioneer's catalogue more than a hundred years old--is not, at first sight, the most suggestive of subjects. And yet that issued in July, 1774, by Mr. Good, of 121 Fleet Street, still possesses considerable interest. For it is nothing less than an account, bald, indeed, and only moderately literary, of the 'Household [sic] Furniture, with the Select Collection of Scarce, Curious and Valuable Books, in English, Latin, Greek, French, Italian and other Languages, late the Library of Dr. Goldsmith, Deceased.' As one runs over the items, one seems to realize the circumstances. One seems almost to see Mr. Good's unemotional assistants, with their pens behind their ears, and their ink-bottles 'upon the excise principle' dangling from their button-holes, as they peer about the dingy Chambers at Brick Court, with the dark little closet of a bedroom at the back where the poor Doctor lay and died. We can imagine them sniffing superciliously at the chief pictorial adornment, 'The Tragic Muse, in a gold frame;' or drawing from its sheath, with an air of 'prentice connoisseurship, 'the steel-hilted sword, inlaid with gold,' or 'the black-hilted _ditto_,' not without speculations as to how those weapons would adorn their own ungainly persons in a holiday jaunt to White Conduit House or Marybone Gardens. We see them professionally prodding the faded mahogany sofa 'covered with blue morine' which had so often vibrated under the nervous twitchings of Johnson; appraising the 'compass card-tables' over which Boswell had dealt trumps to Reynolds; or critically weighing the teapot in which the 'Jessamy Bride' had more than once made tea. Their sordid commercial figures must have crossed and re-crossed before 'the very large dressing-glass' with 'mahogany frame,' which only a few weeks past had reflected the 'blue velvet,' and the 'straw-coloured' and 'silver-grey tamboured waistcoats' for which honest Mr. William Filby, at the sign of the Harrow in Water Lane, was never now to see the money. No doubt, too, they desecrated, with their Fleet Street mud, that famous Wilton carpet which had looked so sumptuous when it was first laid down but half-a-dozen years ago; and, if they were at all like their brethren of these days, they must have pished generally over the rest of those modest properties which, in the golden epoch when the 'Good Natur'd Man' seemed to promise perpetual prosperity, had excited so much awe and admiration among Goldsmith's humbler friends. 'Not much to tot up here, Docket!'--says Mr. Good's young man to his fellow. And we may fancy Mr. Docket assenting with a contemptuous extension of his under lip, enforced by the supplementary proposition that they should at once moisten their unpromising labours by adjourning to a pot of 'Parsons' Black Champagne' at the Tavern by the Temple Gates.
As for the books, the 'Select Collection' that the unsympathetic stock-takers turned over so irreverently with their feet as they lay in dusty ranges on the floor, it must be feared that worthy Mr. Good's description of them as 'Scarce, Curious and Valuable' is more creditable to his business traditions than his literary insight. Goldsmith was scarcely a book-lover in the sense in which that term is now used. The man who, as Hawkins relates, could tear half-a-dozen leaves out of a volume to save himself the trouble of transcription,--the man who underscored objectionable passages with his thumb-nail, as he once did to a new poem that belonged to Reynolds--was _not_ a genuine _amateur du livre_. They were a 'speculative lot' in all probability, the 'Brick Court Library;' and no doubt bore about them visibly the bumps and bruises of their transit 'in two returned post chaises' to the remote farm at Hyde, where their owner laboured at his vast 'Animated Nature.' Many of them had manifestly been collected to that end. Hill's 'Fossils,' 1748; Pliny's 'Historia Naturalis,' 1752; Gessner and Aldrovandus 'De Quadrupedibus;' Gouan's 'Histoire des Poissons,' 1770; Bohadsch's 'De Animalibus Marinis,' 1761; De Geer's 'Histoire des Insectes,' 1771, must all plainly have belonged to that series of purchases for the nonce which, he says in his preface, had so severely taxed his overburdened resources. In the classics he was fairly well equipped; and, as might be expected, he had many of the British poets, not to mention two copies of that indispensable manual, Mr. Edward Bysshe his treatise of the rhyming art.
But it is in French literature generally, and in French minstrels and playwrights in particular, that his store is richest. He has the 'Encyclopédie,' the 'Dictionnaire' and 'Recueil d'Anecdotes,' the 'Dictionnaire Littéraire,' the 'Dictionnaire Critique, Pittoresque et Sentencieux,' the 'Dictionnaire Gentilhomme;' he has many of the _ana_--'Parrhasiana,' 'Ducatiana,' 'Nau-deana,' 'Patiniana,' although, oddly enough, there is no copy of the 'Ménagiana,' which not only supplied him with that ancient ballad of 'Monsieur de la Palice' out of which grew 'Madam Blaize,' but also with the little poem of Bernard de la Monnoye, which he paraphrased so brightly in the well-known stanzas beginning:=
````'Say, cruel Iris, pretty rake,
`````Dear mercenary beauty,
````What annual offering shall I make,
`````Expressive of my duty?'=
He has the works of Voltaire, Diderot, Fontenelle, Marmontel, Voiture; he has the plays of Brueys, La Chaussée, Dancourt, Destouches; he has many of the madrigalists and minor verse-men,--all of which possessions tend to corroborate that suspected close study of Gallic authors from which, as many hold, he derived not a little of the unfailing perspicuity of his prose, and most of the brightness and vivacity of his more familiar verse. Of his own works--and the fact is curious when one remembers some of his traditional characteristics--there are practically no examples, at least there is none catalogued. Their sole representative is an imperfect set of the 'History of the Earth and Animated Nature,' which had only recently been completed, and was published posthumously. Not a single copy of 'The Vicar,' of 'She Stoops to Conquer,' of 'The Citizen of the World,' of 'The Deserted Village'! Not even a copy of that rarest of rarities, the privately printed version of 'Edwin and Angelina,' which its author told his friend Cradock 'could not be amended'--although he was always amending it! Of course it is possible that his own writings had been withdrawn from Mr. Good's catalogue, or that they are included in the 'and others' of unspecified lots. But this is scarcely likely, and it may be accepted as a noteworthy fact that one of the most popular authors of his day did not, at his death, possess any of his own performances, with the exception of an incomplete specimen of his most laborious compilation.*
* Racine was in similar case. In the inventory of his effects, discovered some time since, there is not a single copy of his works.
Besides this, the only volumes that bear indirectly upon his work are the 'Memoirs' of the Cardinal de Retz, which he had used in 'The Bee,' the 'Lettres Persanes' of Montesquieu, which perhaps prompted 'The Citizen of the World,' and the 'Roman Comique' of M. Paul Scarron, which he had been translating in the latter months of its life--an accident which has left its mark in his last poem, the admirable 'Retaliation':=
```'Of old, when Scarron his companions invited,
``Each guest brought his dish, and the feast was united.'=
It may be that he had intended to prefix a biographical sketch or memoir to his version of the 'Comic Romance,' since the reference here is plainly to those famous picnic suppers in the Marais, to which, according to Scarron's biographer, M. Charles Baumet, came as guests--but * '_chacun apportant son plat_'--the pink of dames, of courtiers, and of men of letters.
Where did they go, these books and household goods of 'Dr. Goldsmith, deceased'? It is to be presumed that he did not boast a book-plate, for none, to our knowledge, has ever been advertised, nor is there any record of one in the late Lord de Tabley's well-known 'Handbook,' so that the existing possessors of those precious volumes, in the absence of any autograph inscription, must entertain their treasures unawares. Of his miscellaneous belongings, the only specimens now well-known do not seem to have passed under the hammer of the Fleet Street auctioneer. His favourite chair, a dark, hollow-seated, and somewhat penitential looking piece of furniture, is preserved at South Kensington, where, not many years since, it was sketched, in company with his cane--perhaps the very cane that once crossed the back of Evans the bookseller--by Mr. Hugh Thomson, the clever young Irish artist to whom we are indebted for the most successful of recent illustrated editions of the | Vicar of Wakefield.' *
* Published by Macmillan in 1890. The sketch forms the tail- piece to the Preface, p. xxi.
Neither chair nor cane is in the Good Catalogue, nor does it make any mention of the worn old wooden writing-desk which was presented to Sir Henry Cole's museum by Lady Hawes. Her husband, Sir Benjamin Hawes, once Under Secretary at War, was the grandson of William Hawes, the 'surgeon apothecary' in the Strand, who was called in, late on that Friday night in March, when the poor Doctor was first stricken down with the illness which a few days later terminated fatally. William Hawes, a worthy and an able man, who subsequently obtained a physician's degree, and helped to found the Humane Society, was the author of the little pamphlet, now daily growing rarer, entitled 'An Account of the late Dr. Goldsmith's Illness, so far as relates to the Exhibition of Dr. James's Powders, etc., 1774' [April]. He dedicated it to Burke and Reynolds; and he published it (he says) partly to satisfy curiosity as to the circumstances of Goldsmith's death, partly to vindicate his own professional conduct in the matter. His narrative, in which discussion of the popular nostrum upon which Goldsmith so obstinately relied not unnaturally occupies a considerable part, is too familiar for repetition; and his remarks on Goldsmith as a writer are of the sign-post order. But his personal testimony to the character of 'his late respected and ingenious friend' may fitly close this paper: 'His [Goldsmith's] humanity and generosity greatly exceeded the narrow limits of his fortune; and those who were no judges of the literary merit of the Author, could not but love the Man for that benevolence by which he was so strongly characterized.'
XVI. IN COWPER'S ARBOUR.
|AMONG its many drawbacks controversy has this in particular, that it sometimes embroils us with our closest friends. Writing recently of Lord Chesterfield, * we found occasion to comment upon certain couplets which the poet of the 'Progress of Error' addressed to his Lordship concerning his celebrated 'Letters.'
* See ante, p. 192.
What was said amounted to no more than that Cowper, in this instance at least, had not proved himself a Juvenal,--a sentiment which, seeing that his accredited biographer, Mr. Goldwin Smith, accuses him, as a satirist, of brandishing a whip without a lash, could scarcely be regarded as extravagant condemnation. Not the less, it has lain sorely upon our conscience. Of all the lettered figures of the eighteenth century, none is more dear to us than the gentle recluse of the sleepy little town by the Ouse. What!--the captivating letter-writer, the inventor of the immortal 'John Gilpin,' the delightful 'diva-gator' of the 'Task' and the tea-urn, the kindly proprietor of those 'canonized pets of literature,' Puss and Bess and Tiney--how, upon such a theme, could one excusably utter things harsh or censorious! It is impossible to picture him, when the curtains had fallen over those two windows, that looked upon the three-cornered market-place at Olney,--his head decorated (it may be) with the gaily ribboned cap which had been worked for him by his cousin Lady Hesketh, * his eyes milder than they seem in Romney's famous portrait, and placidly reading the 'Public Advertiser' to the click-click of Mrs. Unwin's stocking-needles,--without being smitten by a feeling of remorse. And opportunity for the expression of such remorse arrives pleasantly with an old-fashioned _octavo_ which supplies the pretexts for a palinode in prose.
* A writing-cap worn by Cowper, his watch, a seal-ring given to him by his eousin Theodora (his first love), and a ball of worsted which he wound for Mrs. Unwin, were among the relics exhibited in the South Gallery of the Guelph Exhibition of 1891. The exhibitors were the Rev. W. Cowper Johnson, and the Rev. W. Cowper Johnson, jun.
Its title, 'writ large,' is 'Cowper, illustrated by a Series of Views, in, or near, the Park of Weston-Underwood, Bucks;' and it is lavishly 4 embellished' with those mellow old plates which denote that steel had not yet supplanted copper. The artists and engravers were James Storer and John Greig, topographical chalcographers of some repute in the days of conventional foregrounds, and trees that look like pressed-out patterns in seaweed. But the 'picturesque' designs give us a good idea of the landscape that Cowper saw when he walked from Silver End at Olney to his friends the Throckmortons (the 'Mr. and Mrs. Frog' of his letters) at Weston House. Here is the long bridge of 'The Task,'=
```'That with its wearisome, but needful length,
```Bestrides the wintry flood'=
between Olney and Emberton; here, bosomed in its embowering trees, the little farmhouse called the 'Peasant's Nest.' Here, again, in the valley, and framed between the feathery branches of the shrubbery, is the spire of Olney Church, from which one may almost fancy that=
````'the sound of cheerful bells .
```Just undulates upon the list'ning ear;'=
here, standing out whitely from the yews and evergreens of The Wilderness, the urn with the epitaph of Neptune. Farther on (a lovely little landscape) is the clump of poplars by the water (not _the_ poplars of the poem: those were already felled) which the poet mistook for elms; and here, lastly, is Cowper's own cottage at Weston, which, with its dormer windows, and its vines and jasmines, might have served as a model for Randolph Caldecott or Kate Greenaway. And, behold! ('blest be the art that can immortalize!') here is Mrs. Unwin in a high waist entering at the gate, while Cowper bids her welcome from the doorway.
Of Olney itself there are not many glimpses in the little volume. But the vignette on the title-page shows the tiny 'boudoir' or summerhouse, 'not much bigger than a sedan chair,' which stood--nay, stands yet--about midway between the red-brick house on the market-place and what was once John Xewton's vicarage. It is still, say the latest accounts, kept up by its present owner, and its walls and ceiling are covered with the autographs of pious pilgrims. In Storer's plate you look in at the open door, catching, through the window on the opposite side, part of the parsonage and of the wall in which was constructed the gate that enabled Cowper at all times to communicate with his clerical friend. Its exact dimensions are given as six feet nine by five feet five; and he must have been right in telling Lady Hesketh that if she came to see him they should be 'as close-pack'd as two wax figures in an old-fashioned picture-frame.' A trap-door or loose board in the floor covered a receptacle in which the previous tenant, an apothecary, had stored his bottles; and here, 'in the deep-delved earth,' one of Cowper's wisest counsellors, the Rev. William Bull of Newport Pagnell, the 'Carissimus Taurorum' of the letters, the=
````Always filling, never full,'=
was wont to deposit his pipes and his tobacco. 'Having furnished it with a table and two chairs,' says Cowper, * here I write all that I write in summer time, whether to my friends or the public. It is secure from all noise, and a refuge from all intrusion, for intruders sometimes trouble me in the winter evenings at Olney, but (thanks to my boudoir!) I can now hide myself from them.'
The summer-house, * it has been stated, is still standing.
* Since this paper was first written, the summer-house, the garden, and the 'Guinea Orchard'--a strip of field which came between Cowper's garden and that of the Parsonage--have been sold by auction, the purchaser being a local butcher. The sale took place in February, 1896.
But of another favourite haunt of Cowper, which preceded and co-existed with it, there are now no traces. This was the greenhouse.=
```''T is a bower of Arcadian sweets,
````Where Flora is still in her prime,
```A fortress to which she retreats
````From the cruel assaults of the clime'--=
he writes in his favourite rocking-horse metre, and most conventional language, bidding his Mary remark the beauty of the pinks which it has preserved through the frosts; and in mid-July, when the floor was carpeted, and the sun was excluded by an awning of mats, it became 'the pleasantest retreat in Olney.' 'We eat, drink, and sleep, where we always did,' he says to Newton; 'but here we spend all the rest of our time, and find that the sound of the wind in the trees, and the singing of birds, are much more agreeable to our ears than the incessant barking of dogs and screaming of children,' from both of which, it may be observed, they suffered considerably in the front of the house. Two years later he tells Mr. Unwin that 'our severest winter, commonly called the spring, is now over, and I find myself seated in my favourite recess, the greenhouse. In such a situation, so silent, so shady, where no human foot is heard, and where only my myrtles presume to peep in at the window, you may suppose I have no interruption to complain of, and that my thoughts are perfectly at my command. But the beauties of the spot are themselves an interruption, my attention being called upon by those very myrtles, by a double row of grass pinks, just beginning to blossom, and by a bed of beans already in bloom; and you are to consider it, if you please, as no small proof of my regard, that, though you have so many powerful rivals, I disengage myself from them all, and devote this hour entirely to you.'
Later still--a year later--he writes to Newton: 'My greenhouse is never so pleasant as when we are just upon the point of being turned out of it. The gentleness of the autumnal suns, and the calmness of this latter season, make it a much more agreeable retreat than we ever find it in the summer; when, the winds being generally brisk, we cannot cool it by admitting a sufficient quantity of air, without being at the same time incommoded by it. But now I sit with all the windows and the door wide open, and am regaled with the scent of every flower, in a garden as full of flowers as I have known how to make it. We keep no bees, but if I lived in a hive, I should hardly hear more of their music. All the bees in the neighbourhood resort to a bed of mignonette, opposite to the window, and pay me for the honey they get out of it by a hum, which, though rather monotonous, is as agreeable to my ear as the whistling of my linnets. All the sounds that Nature utters are delightful, at least in this country.' But he goes on, nevertheless, to except the braying of an ass; and from another letter it seems that the serene quietude of his bower was at times invaded by the noise of a quadruped of this kind (inimical to poets!) which belonged to a neighbour.
It was in passing from the greenhouse to the barn that Cowper encountered the viper, whose prompt taking off gives motive and point to that admirable little _lusus poeticus_,--as Mr. Grimshawe condescendingly calls it,--the 'Colubriad,' and other memories cluster about this fragment paradise. Here 'lived happy prisoners' the two goldfinches celebrated in 'The Faithful Bird;' here he wrote 'The Task,' and, according to Mr. Thomas Wright, of Olney, it is to the stimulating environment of its myrtles and mignonette that we owe, if not the germ, at least the evolution, of 'John Gilpin.' Every one knows how, in the current story, Lady Austen's diverting narrative of the way in which a certain citizen 'of famous London town' rode out to celebrate the anniversary of his marriage, gradually seduced her listener from the moody melancholy which was fast overclouding him 'into a loud and hearty peal of laughter.' It 'made such an impression on his mind that at night he could not sleep; and his thoughts having taken the form of rhyme, he sprang from bed, and committed them to paper, and in the morning brought down to Mrs. Unwin the crude outline of "John Gilpin." All that day and for several days he secluded himself in the greenhouse, and went on with the task of polishing and improving what he had written. As he filled his slips of paper he sent them across the Market-place to Mr. Wilson, to the great delight and merriment of that jocular barber, who on several other occasions had been favoured with the first sight of some of Cowper's smaller poems. This version of the origin of "John Gilpin" differs, we are aware, from the one generally received, which represents the famous ballad as having been commenced and finished in a night; but that the facts here stated are accurate we have the authority of Mrs. Wilson; moreover, it has always been said in Olney that "John Gilpin" was written in the "greenhouse," and that the first person who saw the complete poem, and consequently the forerunner of that noble army who made merry over its drolleries, was William Wilson the barber.' *
* Wright's 'Cowper,' 1892, pp. 311, 312. Wilson was a man of considerable intelligence, and a local 'character.' When in 1781 he joined the Baptists, he declined to dress Lady Austen's hair on Sundays. Consequently she was obliged to call him in on Saturday evenings, and more than once had to sit up all night to prevent the disarrangement of her 'head.'
Cowper has been styled by a recent editor the best of English letter-writers, a term which Scott applied to Walpole, and it has been applied to others. Criticism loses its balance in these superlatives. To be the best--to use a schoolboy illustration--is to have the highest marks all round. For epistolary vigour, for vivacity, for wit, for humour, for ease, for simplicity, for subject--can you give Cowper the highest marks? The answer obviously must be 'no.' Other writers excel him in subject, in wit, in vigour. But you can certainly give him high marks for humour; and you can give him very high marks for simplicity and unaffectedness. He is one of the most unfeigned, most easy, most natural of English letter-writers. In the art of shedding a sedate playfulness over the least promising themes, in magnifying the incidents of his 'set gray life' into occurrences worthy of record, in communicating to his page all the variations of mood that sweep across him as he writes, he is unrivalled. Mandeville christened Addison a parson in a tye-wig; Cowper (at his best) is a humourist in a nightcap. It would be easy to select from his correspondence passages that show him in all these aspects--morbid and gloomy to Newton, genial and friendly to Hill and Unwin, confidential and caressing to Lady Austen and Lady Hesketh. But it is not uncommon for him to vary his tone to each of these, for which reason we close with an epistle to that austere friend and monitor who has perhaps been credited with a more baleful influence over his hypochondriac correspondent than is strictly borne out by the evidence. The reader may be told, since he must speedily discover it, that the following letter from Cowper to John Newton, like the title-page of Lowell's 'Fable for Critics,' is in rhymed prose:
My very dear Friend,--I am going to send, what when you have read, you may scratch your head, and say, I suppose, there's nobody knows whether what I have got be verse or not;--by the tune and the time, it ought to be rhyme, but if it be, did you ever see, of late or of yore, such a ditty before?
I have writ 'Charity,' not for popularity, but as well as I could, in hopes to do good; and if the Reviewer should say 'to be sure the gentleman's Muse wears Methodist shoes, you may know by her pace and talk about grace, that she and her bard have little regard for the taste and fashions, and ruling passions, and hoidening play, of the modern day; and though she assume a borrowed plume, and now and then wear a tittering air,'tis only her plan to catch, if she can, the giddy and gay, as they go that way, by a production on a new construction: she has baited her trap, and hopes to snap all that may come with a sugar plum.'--His opinion in this will not be amiss;'tis what I intend, my principal end, and, if I succeed, and folks should read, till a few are brought to a serious thought, I shall think I am paid for all I have said and all I have done, though I have run many a time, after a rhyme, as far as from hence to the end of my sense, and by hook or crook, write another book, if I live and am here, another year.
I have heard before of a room with a floor laid upon springs, and such like things, with so much art in every part, that when you went in you was forced to begin a minuet pace, with an air and a grace, swimming about, now in and now out, with a deal of state, in a figure of eight, without pipe, or string, or any such thing; and now I have writ, in a rhyming fit, what will make you dance, and, as you advance, will keep you still, though against your will, dancing away, alert and gay, till you come to an end of what I have penn'd, which that you may do, ere Madam and you are quite worn out with jigging about, I take my leave, and here you receive a bow profound, down to the ground, from your humble me.--W. C.
XVII. THE QUAKER OF ART.
|ABOVE the chimney-piece in the Study at Abbotsford, and therefore on Sir Walter's right-hand as he wrote, hung--nay, hangs, if we may trust the evidence of a photograph before us--a copy of the Schiavonetti-cum-Heath engraving of Thomas Stothard's once-popular 'Canterbury Pilgrims.' With its dark oblong frame and gold corner-ornaments, it must still look much as it did on that rainy August morning described in Lockhart, when one of Scott's guests, occupied ostensibly with the last issues of the Bannatyne Club, sat listening in turn to the patter of the drops on the pane, and the 'dashing trot' of his host's pen across the paper to which he was then committing the first series of the 'Tales of a Grandfather.' The visitor (it was that acute and ingenious John Leycester Adolphus whose close-reasoned 'Letters to Richard Heber' had practically penetreated the mystery of the 'Waverley Novels') specially noticed the picture; and he also afterwards recalled and repeated a characteristic comment made upon it by Scott, with whom it was evidently a favourite, in one of those brief dialogues which generally took place when it became necessary to consult a book upon the shelves. Were the procession to move, remarked Sir Walter, the prancing young 'Squire in the foreground would be over his horse's head in a minute. The criticism was more of the riding-school than the studio; and too much might easily be inferred from it as to the speaker's equipments as an Art-critic. For Art itself, we are told, notwithstanding his genuine love of landscape and natural objects, Scott cared nothing; and Abbotsford was rich rather in works suggestive and commemorative, than in masterpieces of composition and colour. 'He talked of scenery as he wrote of it,' says Leslie in his 'Recollections,' 'like a painter; and yet for pictures, as works of art, he had little or no taste, nor did he pretend to any. To him they were interesting merely as representing some particular scene, person, or event, and very moderate merit in their execution contented him.' Stothard's cavalcade, progressing along the pleasantly undulated background of the Surrey Hills, with its drunken Miller droning on his bagpipes at the head, with its bibulous Cook at the tail, and between these, all that moving, many-coloured pageant of Middle-Age society upon which Geoffrey Chaucer looked five hundred years ago, must have been thoroughly to his liking, besides reaching to a higher artistic standard than he required. To one whose feeling for the past has never yet been rivalled, such a picture would serve as a perpetual fount of memory and association. He must besides have thoroughly appreciated its admitted accuracy of costume, and it would not have materially affected his enjoyment if the Dick Tintos or Dick Minims of his day had assured him that, as a composition, it was deficient in 'heroic grasp,' or had reiterated the stereotyped objection that the Wife of Bath was far too young-looking to have buried five lawful husbands.
The original oil-sketch from which the 'Canterbury Pilgrims' was engraved, is now in the National Gallery, having been bought some years ago, with Hogarth's 'Polly Peachum,' at the dispersal of the Leigh Court Collection. It is not, however, by his more ambitious efforts that Stothard is most regarded in our day. Now and then, it may be, the Abbotsford engraving, or 'The Flitch of Bacon,' or 'John Gilpin,' makes fitful apparition in the print-shop windows; now and then again, in some _culbute générale of the bric-à-brac_ merchant, there comes forlornly to the front a card-cable contrived adroitly from the once famous Waterloo Shield. But it is not by these, or by the huge designs on the staircase at Burleigh ('Burleigh-house by Stamford-town'), or by any of the efforts which his pious biographer and daughter-in-law fondly ranked with Raphael and Rubens, that he best deserves remembrance. Time, dealing summarily with an unmanageable inheritance, has a trick of making rough and ready distinctions; and Time has decided, not that he did these things ill, but that he did other things better--for instance, book illustrations. And the modern collector is on the side of Time. Stothard as a colourist (and here perhaps is some injustice) he disregards: Stothard as a history-painter he disavows. But for Stothard as the pictorial interpreter of 'David Simple' and 'Betsy Thoughtless,' of 'The Virtuous Orphan' and the 'Tales of the Genii,' of 'Clarissa' and 'Sir Charles Grandison,' or (to cite another admirer, Charles Lamb) of that 'romantic tale'=
```'Where Glunis and Gawries wear mysterious things,
```That serve at once for jackets and for wings,'--=
to wit, 'The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins,' * he cares very much indeed. He is not surprised that they gained their designer the friendship of Flaxman; and if he is not able to say with Elia,--=
```'In several ways distinct you make us feel,--
```Graceful as Raphael, as Watteau genteel,'--=
epithets which, in our modern acceptation of them, sound singularly ill-chosen, he can at least admit that if his favourite is occasionally a little monotonous and sometimes a little insipid, there are few artists in England in whose performances the un-English gift of grace is so unmistakably present. **
* Coleridge is also extravagant on this theme in his 'Table Talk.' 'If it were not for a certain tendency to affectation, scarcely any praise could be too high,' he says, 'for Stothard's designs [to Peter Wilkins].'
* * Strangely enough he set little more by this quality, but apparently valued himself more for his 'correctness' ('Bryan Waller Procter,' Bell, 1877, pp. 83-90).
Fifty years ago there were but few specimens of Stothard's works in the Print Room of the British Museum, and even those were not arranged so as to be easily accessible. To-day, this complaint, which Pye makes in that miscellany of unexpected information, his 'Patronage of British Art,' can no longer be renewed. In the huge Balmanno collection, a labour of five-and-twenty years, the student may now study his Stothard to his heart's content. Here is brought together his work of all sorts, his earliest and latest, his strongest and his feeblest, from the first tentative essays he made for the 'Lady's Magazine' and Hervey's 'Naval History' to those final designs, which, aided by the supreme imagination of Turner, did so much to vitalise the finicking and overlaboured blank verse of his faithful but fastidious patron at St. James's Place.=
```'Of Roger's "Italy," Luttrell relates,
```It-would surely be dished, if 'twere not for the plates,'=
said the wicked wits of 1830; and the sarcasm has its parallel in the 'Ce poëte se sauve du naufrage de planche en planche,' which the Abbé Galiani applied to Dorât embellished by Marillier and Eisen. But Stothard did many things besides illustrating Samuel Rogers. Almanack heads and spelling-books, spoon-handles and decanter labels,--nothing came amiss to his patient industry. And in his book illustrations he had one incalculable advantage,--he lived in the silver age of line-engraving, the age of the Cooks and Warrens and Heaths and Findens.
Shakespeare and Bunyan, Macpherson and Defoe, Boccaccio and Addison,--most of the older classics passed under his hand. It is the fashion in booksellers' catalogues to vaunt the elaborate volumes he did in later life for the banker poet. But it is not in these, nor his more ambitious efforts, that the true lover of Stothard finds his greatest charm. He is the draughtsman of fancy rather than imagination; and he is moreover better in the mellow copper of his early days than the 'cold steel' of his decline. If you would view your Stothard aright, you must take him as the illustrator of the eighteenth-century novelists, of Richardson, of Fielding, of Sterne, of Goldsmith, where the costume in which he delighted was not too far removed from his own day, and where the literary note was but seldom pitched among the more tumultuous passions. In this semidomestic atmosphere he moves always easily and gracefully. His conversations and interviews, his promenade and garden and tea-table scenes, his child-life with its pretty waywardnesses, his ladies full of sensibility and in charming caps, his men respectful and gallant in their ruffles and silk stockings,--in all these things he is at home. The bulk of his best work in this way is in Harrison's 'Novelist's Magazine,' and in the old double-column edition of the essayists, where it is set off for the most part by the quaint and pretty framework which was then regarded as an indispensable decoration to plates engraved for books. If there be anything else of his which the eclectic (not indiscriminate) collector should secure, it is two of the minor Rogers volumes for which the booksellers care little. One is the 'Pleasures of Memory' of 1802, if only for Heath's excellent engraving of 'Hunt the Slipper;' the other is the same poems of 1810 with Luke Clennell's admirable renderings of the artist's quill-drawings,--renderings to rival which, as almost faultless reproductions of pen-and-ink, we must go right back to Hans Lutzelburger, and Holbein's famous 'Dance of Death.'
There is usually one thing to be found in Stothard's designs which many of his latter-day successors, who seem to care for little except making an effective 'compo,' are often in the habit of neglecting. He is generally fairly loyal to his text, and honestly endeavours to interpret it pictorially. Take, for example, a sketch at random,--the episode of the accident to Count Galiano's baboon in Sharpe's 'Gil Blas.' You need scarcely look at Le Sage; the little picture gives the entire story. There, upon the side of the couch, is the Count in an undress,--effeminate, trembling, almost tearful. Beside him is his wounded favourite, turning plaintively to its agitated master, while the hastily summoned surgeon, his under lip protruded professionally, binds up the injured limb. Around are the servants in various attitudes of sycophantic sympathy. Or take from a mere annual, the 'Forget-me-not' of 1828, this little _genre_ picture out of Sterne. Our old friend Corporal Trim is moralizing in the kitchen to the hushed Shandy servants on Master Bobby's death. He has let fall his hat upon the ground, 'as if a heavy lump of clay had been kneaded into the crown of it.' 'Are we not here now,' says Trim, 'and are we not gone! in a moment.' Holding her apron to her eyes, the sympathetic Susannah leans her hand confidingly upon Trim's shoulder; Jonathan the coachman, a mug of ale upon his knee, stares--with dropped chin--at the hat, as if he expected it to do something; Obadiah wonders at Trim; the cook pauses as she lifts the lid of a cauldron at the fire, and the 'foolish fat scullion'--the 'foolish fat scullion' who 'had been all autumn struggling with a dropsy' and is still immortal--looks up inquiringly from the fish-kettle she is scouring on her knees. It is all there; and Stothard has told us all of it that pencil could tell.
In the vestibule at Trafalgar Square is a bust of Stothard by Baily, which gives an excellent idea of the dignified yet deferential old gentleman, who said 'Sir' in speaking to you, like Dr. Johnson, and whose latter days were passed as Librarian of the Royal Academy. Another characteristic likeness is the portrait, now in the National Portrait Gallery, which was engraved by Scriven in 1833 for Arnold's 'Library of the Arts,' and once belonged to Samuel Rogers. The story of Stothard's life has little memorable but the work that filled and satisfied it. Placid, placable, unpretentious, modestly unsolicitous of advancement, labouring assiduously but cheerfully for miserable wage, he seems to have existed at equipoise, neither exalted nor depressed by the extremes of either fortune. He was an affectionate father and a tender husband; and yet so even-pulsed that on his wedding-day he went as üsual to the drawing-school; and he bore more than one heart-rending bereavement with uncomplaining patience. For nearly forty years he lived contentedly in one house (28, Newman Street) with little change beyond an occasional country excursion, when he would study butterflies for his fairies' wings, or a long walk in the London streets and suburbs, when he would note at every turn some new gesture or some fresh group for his ever-growing storehouse of imagination. It is to this unremitting habit of observation that we owe the extraordinary variety and fecundity of his compositions; to the manner of it also must be traced their occasional executive defects. That no two men will draw from the living model in exactly the same way, is a truism. But the artist, who, neglecting the model almost wholly, draws by preference from his note-book, is like a man who tells a story heard in the past of which he has retained the spirit rather than the details. He will give it the _cachet_ of his personal qualities; he will reproduce it with unfettered ease and freedom; but those who afterwards compare it with the original will find to their surprise that the original was not exactly what they had been led to expect. In a case like the present where the artist's mind is so uniformly pure and innocent, so constitutionally gentle and refined, the gain of individuality is far greater than the loss of finish and academic accuracy. If to Stothard's grace and delicacy we add a certain primness of conception, a certain prudery of line, it is difficult not to recognize the fitness of that happy title which was bestowed upon him by the late James Smetham. He is the 'Quaker of Art.'
XVIII. BEWICK'S TAILPIECES.
|BETWEEN the years 1767 and 1785, travellers going southward to Newcastle along the right bank of the Tyne must frequently have encountered a springy, well-set lad walking, or oftener running, rapidly in the opposite direction. During the whole of that period, which begins with Thomas Bewick's apprenticeship and closes with the deaths of his father and mother, he never ceased to visit regularly the little farm at Cherryburn where he was born.=
````'Dank and foul, dank and foul,
````By the smoky town in its murky cowl,'=
is the Tyne at Newcastle, where he lived his working life; but at Ovingham, where he lies buried, and whence you can see the remains of his birthplace, it still flows=
`````'Clear and cool,
```By laughing shallow, and dreaming pool,'=
like the river in the 'Water-Babies,' and one can easily conceive with what an eagerness the country-bred engraver's-apprentice must have turned, in those weekly escapes from the great, gloomy manufacturing city, to the familiar sights and sounds of nature which had filled his boyhood with delight. To his love for these things we are indebted for his best work; it was his intimate acquaintance with them that has kept his memory green; and, even when he was an old man, they prompted some of the most effective passages of those remarkable recollections which, despite their _longueurs et langueurs_, present so graphic a picture of his early life. 'I liked my master,' he says; 'I liked the business; but to part from the country, and to leave all its beauties behind me, with which I had been all my life charmed in an extreme degree,--and in a way I cannot describe,--I can only say my heart was like to break.' And then he goes on to show how vivid still, at a distance of sixty years, was that first scene of separation. 'As we passed away, I inwardly bade farewell to the whinny wilds, to Mickley bank, to the Stob-cross hill, to the water-banks, the woods, and to particular trees and even to the large hollow old elm, which had lain perhaps for centuries past, on the haugh near the ford we were about to pass, and which had sheltered the salmon-fishers, while at work there, from many a bitter blast.'
As an artist on wood, as the reviver of the then disused art of Xylography--a subject hedged round with many delicate and hairsplitting controversies--it is not now necessary to speak of Bewick. Nor need anything be said here of his extraordinary skills--a skill still unrivalled--in delineating those 'beautiful and interesting aerial wanderers of the British Isles,' as he styles them in his old-fashioned language, the birds of his native country. In both of these respects, although he must always be accomplished, he may one day be surpassed. But as regards his vignettes or tailpieces ('tale-pieces' they might be called, since they always tell their story), it is not likely that a second Bewick will arise. They were imitated in his own day; they are imitated still--only to prove once more how rare and exceptional is the peculiarly individual combination that produced them. Some of his own pupils, Luke Clennell, for instance, working under his eye and in his atmosphere, have occasionally trodden hard upon his heels in landscape; others, as Robert Johnson, have caught at times a reflex of his distinctive humour; but, as a rule, a Bewick tailpiece of the best period is a thing _per se_, unapproachable, inimitable, unique; and they have contributed far more--these labours of his play-time--to found his reputation than might be supposed. If you ask a true Bewickian about Bewick, he will begin by dilating upon the markings of the Bittern, the exquisite downy plumage of the Short-eared Owl, the lustrous spring coat of the Starling, the relative and competitive excellences of the Woodcock and the White Grouse; but sooner or later he will wander off unconsciously to the close-packed pathos of the microscopic vignette where the cruel cur is tearing at the worried ewe, whose poor little knock-kneed lamb looks on in trembling terror; or to the patient, melancholy shapes of the black and white horses seen vaguely through the pouring rain in the tailpiece to the Missal Thrush; or to the excellent jest of the cat stealing the hypocrite's supper while he mumbles his long-winded grace. He will tell you how Charles Kingsley, the brave and manly, loved these things; how they fascinated the callow imagination of Charlotte Brontë in her dreary moorland parsonage; how they stirred the delicate insight of the gentle, pure-souled Leslie; and how Ruskin (albeit nothing if not critical) has lavished upon them some of the most royal of his epithets. *
* Mr. Ruskin--it may be hinted--expounding the tailpieces solely by the light of his intuitive faculty, has sometimes neglected the well-established traditional interpretations of Bewick's work.
'No Greek work is grander than the angry dog,' he says, referring to a little picture of which an early proof, on the old rag-paper held by collectors to be the only fitting background for a Bewick, now lies before us. A tramp, with his wallet or poke at his side, his tattered trousers corded at the knees, and his head bound with a handkerchief under his shapeless hat, has shambled, in his furtive, sidelong fashion, through the open gates of a park, only to find himself confronted by a watchful and resolute mastiff. He lifts his stick, carved rudely with a bird's head, the minute eye and beak of which are perfectly clear through a magnifying glass, and holds it mechanically with both hands across his body, just as tramps have done immemorially since the days of the Dutchman Jacob Gats, in whose famous 'Emblems' there is an almost similar scene. The dog, which you may entirely cover with a shilling, is magnificent. There is not a line in its body which does not tell. The brindling of the back, the white marking of the neck and chest--to say nothing of the absolute moral superiority of the canine guardian to the cowering interloper--are all conveyed with the strictest economy of stroke. Another tailpiece, to which Ruskin gives the adjective 'superb,' shows a man crossing a river, probably the Tyne. The ice has thawed into dark pools on either side, and snow has fallen on what remains. He has strapped his bundle and stick at his back, and, with the foresight taught of necessity in those bridgeless days, is astride upon a long bough, so that if by any chance the ice gives way, or he plumps into some hidden fissure, he may still have hope of safety. From the bows of the moored ferryboat in the background his dog anxiously watches his progress. When its master is safe across, it will come bounding in his tracks. The desolate stillness of the spot, the bleak, inhospitable look of the snow-clad landscape, are admirably given. But Bewick is capable of even higher things than these. He is capable of suggesting, in these miniature compositions, moments of the keenest excitement, as, for example, in the tailpiece to the Baboon in the second edition of the 'Quadrupeds.' A vicious-looking colt is feeding in a meadow; a little tottering child of two or three plucks at its long tail. The colt's eye is turned backward; its heel is ominously raised; and over the North Country stile in the background a frightened relative comes rushing. The strain of the tiny group is intense; but as the little boy was Bewick's brother, who grew up to be a man, we know that no harm was done. Strangely enough, the incident depicted is not without a hitherto unnoticed parallel. Once, when Hartley Coleridge was a child, he came home with the mark of a horse hoof impressed unmistakably upon his pinafore. Being questioned, he admitted that he had been pulling hairs out of a horse's tail; and his father could only conclude that the animal, with intentional forbearance, had gently pushed him backward. *
* Hartley Coleridge grew up to write sympathetically, in his papers entitled 'Ignoramus on the Fine Arts,' of these very tailpieces. In them, he says, Bewick is 'a poet--the silent poet of the waysides and hedges. He unites the accuracy and shrewdness of Crabbo with the homely pathos of Bloomfield.' (Blackwood's Magazine, October, 1831.)
In describing the tailpiece to the Baboon, we omitted to mention one minor detail, significant alike of the artist and his mode of work. The presence of a strayed child in a field of flowers is not, perhaps, a matter which calls urgently for comment. But Bewick leaves nothing unexplained. In the shadow of a thicket to the left of the spectator is the negligent nurse who should have watched over her charge, but who, at this precise moment of time, is wholly engrossed by the attentions of an admirer whose arm is round her waist; Nor is it in those accessories alone which aid the story that Bewick is so careful. His local colouring is scrupulously faithful to nature, and, although not always an actual transcript of it, is invariably marked by that accuracy of invention which, as some one said of Defoe, 'lies like truth.' Nothing in his designs is meaningless. If he draws a tree, its kind is always distinguishable; he tells you the nature of the soil, the time of year, often the direction of the wind. Referring to the 'little, exquisitely finished inch-and-a-half vignette' of the suicide in the 'Birds,' Henry Kingsley (of whom, equally with his brother Charles, it may be said, in the phrase of the latter, _Il sait son Bewick_) notes that the miserable creature has hanged himself 'in the month of June, on an oak bough, stretching over a shallow trout stream, which runs through carboniferous limestone.' _Sero sed serio_ is the motto which Bewick has written under the dilapidated, desperate figure, whose dog, even as the dog of Sikes in 'Oliver Twist,' is running nervously backwards and forwards in its efforts to reach its pendent, motionless, strangely silent master. These legends and inscriptions, characteristic of the artist, are often most happily effective. Generally, like the _Justissima Tellus_ of the vignette of the ploughman, or the _Grata sume_ of the spring at which Bewick himself, on his Scotch tour, is drinking from the 'flipe' of his hat, they simply add to the restful or rural beauty of the scene; but sometimes they supply the needful key to the story. In the tailpiece to the Woodchat, for example, a man lies senseless on the ground. His eyes are closed, and his hat and wig have fallen backward. Is he dead, or in a fit, or simply, drunk? He is drunk. On a stone hard, by is the date '4 June, 1795,' and he has obviously been toasting the nativity of his Majesty George the Third.
But clearness of message, truth to nature, and skill in compressed suggestion are not Bewick's sole good qualities. He does not seem to have known much of Hogarth--perhaps the Juvenalian manner of that great graphic satirist was not entirely to his taste--but he is a humourist to some extent in Hogarth's manner, and, after the fashion of his day, he is a moralist. He delights in queer dilemmas and odd embarrassments. Now it is a miserly fellow who fords a river with his cow to save the bridge toll. The water proves deeper than he expected; the cow, to whose tail he is clinging, rather enjoys it; her master does not. Now it is an old man at a standstill on an obstinate horse. It is raining heavily, and there is a high wind.
He has lost his hat and broken his stick, but he is afraid to get down because he has a basket of excited live fowl on his arm. Occasionally the humour is a little grim, after the true North Country fashion. Such is the case in the tailpiece to the Curlew where a blacksmith (or is it a tanner?) looks on pitiless at the unhappy dog with a kettle dangling at its tail; such, again, in the vignette of the mischievous youngster who leads the blind man into mid-stream. As a moralist, Bewick is never tired of exhibiting the _lachrimo rerum_, the brevity of life, the emptiness of fame. The staved-in, useless boat; the ruined and deserted cottage, with the grass growing at the hearthstone; the ass rubbing itself against the pillar that celebrates the 'glorious victory;' the churchyard, with its rising moon, and its tombstone legend, 'Good Times, bad Times, and all Times got over,' are illustrations of this side of his genius. But the subject is one which could not be exhausted in many papers, for this little gallery is Bewick's 'criticism of life,' and he had seventy-five years' experience. His final effort was a ferryman waiting to carry a coffin from Eltringham to Ovingham; and on his death-bed he was meditating his favourite work. In a lucid moment of his last wanderings he was asked of what he had been thinking, and he replied, with a faint smile, that he had been devising subjects for some new Tailpieces.
XIX. A GERMAN IN ENGLAND.
|WHEN, in 1768, the yet undistinguished the world his 'Journal of a Tour to Corsica,' Gray wrote to Horace Walpole from Pembroke College that the book had strangely pleased and moved him. Then, with the curious contempt for the author which that egregious personage seems to have inspired in so many of his contemporaries, Gray goes on: 'The pamphlet proves what I have always maintained, that any fool may write a most valuable book by chance, if he will only tell us what he heard and saw with veracity.' This is an utterance which suggests that sometimes even the excellent critic Mr. Gray, like the Sage of Gough Square, 'talked James Boswell of Auchinleck gave to laxly.' At all events this particular example scarcely illustrates his position. There was more than mere veracity in Boswell's method. Conscious or unconscious, his faculty for reproducing his impressions effectively, and his thoroughly individual treatment of his material, are far more nearly akin to genius than folly. Nor could his success be said to be a matter of chance, since on two subsequent occasions--in the 'Tour to the Hebrides' and the 'Life of Johnson'--he not only repeated that success, but carried further towards perfection those fortunate characteristics which he had exhibited at first. Walpole, if we may trust the title-page of the 'little lounging miscellany' known as 'Walpoliana,' reported his friend's dictum with greater moderation. 'Mr. Gray the poet has often observed to me, that, if any person were to form a Book of what he had seen and heard himself, it must, in whatever hands, prove a most useful and entertaining one.' As a generalisation, this leaves nothing to be desired. That the unaffected record of ordinary experiences, 'honestly set down,' is seldom without its distinctive charm, needs no demonstration; and when lapse of time has added its grace of remoteness, the charm is heightened. These considerations must serve as our excuse for recalling a half-forgotten 'pamphlet'--as Gray would have styled it--which points the moral of his amended aphorism far better than Boswell's 'Tour.'
The narrative of Charles P. Moritz's 'Travels, chiefly on Foot, through several Parts of England,' belongs to 1782. It was first published at Berlin in 1783, and the earliest English version is dated 1795. The second edition (now before us) came two years later, and other issues are occasionally met with in booksellers' catalogues; besides which, John Pinkerton, the compiler of the 'Walpoliana' above mentioned, included the book in the second volume of his 'Collections of Voyages,' et.c., and Mayor also reprinted it in vol. ix. of his 'British Tourist.' *
* It is also included, with some omissions, in Cassell's excellent 'National Library.'
The English translator was a 'very young lady,' said to be the daughter of an unidentified personage referred to by the author: the editor, who, in a copious preface, testifies, among other things, to the favourable reception of the work in Berlin and Germany generally, remains anonymous. Moritz himself, the writer of the volume, was a young Prussian clergyman, enthusiastic about England and things English, who came among us 'to draw Miltonic air' (in Gay's phrase), and to read his beloved 'Paradise Lost' in the very land of its conception. He stayed exactly seven weeks in this country, three of which he spent in London, the rest being occupied by visits to Oxford, Birmingham, the Peak, and elsewhere. What he sees, and what he admires (and luckily for us he admires a great deal), he describes in letters to one Frederic Gedike, a professorial friend at Berlin.
His first communication, dated 31st May, depicts his progress up the Thames, which he regards as greatly surpassing even 'the charming banks of the _Elbe_.' Then he disembarks near Hartford, whence, with two companions, he posts to London, behind a round-hatted postilion 'with a nosegay in his bosom.' He is delighted with the first view he gets of an English soldier, 'in his red uniform, his hair cut short and combed back on his forehead, so as to afford a full view of his fine broad manly face.' He is interested also to see two boys engaged in the national pastime of boxing; and he marvels at the huge gateway-like sign-posts of the village inns. Passing over Westminster Bridge, he does not, like Wordsworth, burst into a sonnet, but he is impressed (as who would not be!) by that unequalled _coup d'oil_. 'The prospect from this bridge alone,' he says, 'seems to afford one the epitome of a journey, or a voyage in miniature, as containing something of everything that most usually occurs on a journey.' Presently, a little awed by the prodigious greatness and gloom of the houses (which remind him of Leipzig), he takes lodgings in George Street, Strand, with a tailor's widow, not very far, as he is pleased to discover, from that Adelphi Terrace where once 'lived the renowned _Garrick_.' To his simple tastes his apartments, with their leather-covered chairs, carpeted floors and mahogany tables, have an air of splendour. 'I may do just as I please,' he says, 'and keep my own tea, coffee, bread and butter, for which purpose [and here comes a charming touch of guilelessness!] my landlady has given me a cupboard in my room, which locks up.' With one of his landlady's sons for guide, he makes the tour of St. James's Park (where you may buy milk warm from the cow), and he experiences for the first time 'the exquisite pleasure of mixing freely with a concourse of people, who are for the most part well dressed and handsome.' His optimism finds a further gratification in the 'sweet security' (the expression is not his, but Lamb's) which is afforded 'from the prodigious crowd of carts and coaches,' by the footways on either side of the streets; and he explains to his 'dearest Gedike' the mysteries of giving the wall. He thinks London better lighted than Berlin (which implies little short of Cimmerian darkness in that centre of civilization!), and he waxes sorrowful over the general evidence of dram-drinking and the sale of spirituous liquors. 'In the late riots [i.e. the Gordon Riots of 1780], which even yet are hardly quite subsided, and which are still the general topic of conversation, more people have been found dead near empty brandy-casks in the streets, than were killed by the musket-balls of regiments, that were called in.'
Another thing which strikes him as foreign to his experience is the insensibility of the crowd to funerals. 'The people seem to pay as little attention to such a procession, as if a hay-cart were driving past.' Among more pleasurable novelties, are the English custom of sleeping without an eiderdown, and the insular institution of 'buttered toast,' which, incredible as it may sound, appears to have been still an unknown luxury in the land of Werther. *
* Another of his remarks is of special interest in our day:--
'That same influenza, which I left at Berlin, I have had the hard fortune again to find here; and many people die of it' (the italics are ours). Elsewhere he says that the Prussian quack Katterfelto--Cowper's=
```'Katerfelto, with his hair on end.
```At his own wonders wondering for his bread,'=
whose advertisements were then in every paper, attributed the epidemic to a minute insect, against which, of course, he professed to protect his patients. Walpole's correspondence contains references to the same visitation. It was, he writes, 'universal,' but not 'dangerous or lasting.' 'The strangest part of it,' he tells Mann in June, 'is, that, though of very short duration, it has left a weakness or lassitude, of which people find it very difficult to recover.'
On the second Sunday after his arrival he preaches at the German Church on Ludgate Hill for the pastor, the Rev. Mr. Wendeborn, who resides 'in a philosophical, but not unimproving retirement' at chambers in New Inn,--and he visits the Prussian Ambassador, Count Lucy, with whom, over a 'dish of coffee,' he has a learned argument upon the pending dispute 'about the _tacismus_ or _stacismus_.' Then he pays à visit to Vauxhall. Comparing great things with small, he straightway traces certain superficial resemblances between the Surrey Paradise and the similar resort at Berlin,--resemblances' which are enforced by his speedy discovery of that chiefest glory of the English gardens, Roubiliac's statue of Handel. The Gothic orchestra, and the painted ruin's at the end of the walks (sometimes used by flippant playwrights as similes for beauty in decay) also come in for a share of his admiration; and he is particularly impressed by Hayman's pictures in the Rotunda. 'You here,' he adds, speaking of this last, 'find the busts of the best English authors, placed all round on the sides.
Thus a Briton again meets with his Shakespeare, Locke, Milton, and Dryden in the public places of his amusements; and there also reveres their memory.' He finds further confirmation of this honoured position of letters in the popularity of the native classics as compared with those of Germany, 'which in general are read only by the learned; or, at most, by the middle class of people. The English national authors are in all hands, and read by all people, of which the innumerable editions they have gone through, are a sufficient proof.' In Germany 'since Gellert [of the Fables], there has as yet been no poet's name familiar to the people.' But in England even his landlady studies her 'Paradise Lost,' and indeed by her own account won the affections of her husband (now deceased) 'because she read Milton with such proper emphasis:'
Another institution that delights him is the second-hand bookseller, at whose movable stall you may buy odd volumes 'so low as a penny; nay, even sometimes for an half-penny a piece.' Of one of these 'itinerant antiquaries' he buys the 'Vicar of Wakefield' in two volumes for sixpence.
After Vauxhall follows, as a matter of course, a visit to the equally popular Ranelagh. Like most people, the traveller had expected it to resemble its rival, and until he actually entered the Great Room, was grievously disappointed. 'But,' he continues, 'it is impossible to describe, or indeed to conceive, the effect it had on me, when, coming out of the gloom of the garden, I suddenly entered a round building, illuminated by many hundred lamps, the splendour and beauty of which surpassed everything of the kind I had ever seen before. Everything seemed here to be round; above, there was a gallery, divided into boxes, and in one part of it an organ with a beautiful choir, from which issued both instrumental and vocal music. All around, under this gallery, are handsome painted boxes for those who wish to take refreshments. The floor was covered with mats; in the middle of which are four high black pillars, within which are neat fire-places for preparing tea, coffee, and punch; and all around also there are placed tables, set out with all kinds of refreshments. Within [he means 'without'] these four pillars, in a kind of magic rotundo, all the _beau-monde_ of London move perpetually round and round.' This, as may be seen by a glance at Parr's print of 1751 after Canaletto, or the better-known plate in Stowe's 'Survey' of 1754, is a fairly faithful description of the Ranelagh of Walpole and Chesterfield. After a modest _consommation_, which, to his astonishment, he finds is covered by the half-crown he paid at the door, he mounts to the upper regions. 'I now went up into the gallery, and seated myself in one of the boxes there: and from thence, becoming, all at once, a grave and moralizing spectator, I looked down on the concourse of people who were still moving round and round in the fairy circle; and then I could easily distinguish several stars, and other orders of knighthood; French queues and bags contrasted with plain English heads of hair, or professional wigs; old age and youth, nobility and commonalty, all passing each other in the motley swarm. An Englishman who joined me, during this my reverie, pointed out to me, on my inquiring, princes, and lords with their dazzling stars; with which they eclipsed the less brilliant part of the company.' His next experiences are Of the House of Commons. Here he had like to have been disappointed from his unhappy ignorance of an enlightened native formula. Having made his way to Westminster Hall, a 'very genteel man in black' informed him he must be introduced by a member, an announcement which caused him to retire 'much chagrined.' Something unintelligible was mumbled behind him about a bottle of wine, but it fell on alien ears. As soon as he returned home, his intelligent landlady solved the difficulty, sending him back next day with the needful _douceur_, upon which the 'genteel man,' with much venal urbanity, handed him into a select seat in the Strangers' Gallery. The building itself strikes him as rather mean, and not a little resembling a chapel. But the Speaker and the mace; the members going and coming, some cracking nuts and eating oranges, others in their greatcoats and with boots and spurs; the cries of 'Hear,' and 'Order,' and 'Question,' speedily absorb him. On his first visit he is fortunate. The debate turns on the reward to Admiral Rodney for his victory over De Grasse at Guadaloupe, and he hears Fox, Burke, and Rigby speak. 'This same celebrated Charles Fox,' he says, 'is a short, fat, and gross man, with a swarthy complexion, and dark; and in general he is badly dressed. There certainly is something Jewish in his looks. But upon the whole, he is not an ill-made nor an ill-looking man: and there are many strong marks of sagacity and fire in his eyes.... Burke is a well-made, tall, upright man, but looks elderly and broken. Rigby is excessively corpulent, and has a jolly rubicund face.'
Pastor Moritz repeated his visits to the Parliament House, frankly confessing that he preferred this entertainment to most others; and, indeed, it was a shilling cheaper than the pit of a theatre. When, after his tour in the country, he came back to London, he seems at once to have gravitated to Westminster, for he gives an account of the discussion on the Barré pension which followed the death of Lord Rockingham in July. He heard Fox, with great eloquence, vindicate his resignation; he heard Horace Walpole's friend, General Conway; he heard Burke, in a passion, insisting upon the respect of the house; he heard the youthful Pitt, then scarcely looking more than one-and-twenty, rivet universal attention. A little earlier he had been privileged to witness that most English of sights, the Westminster election in Covent Garden, with its boisterous _finale_. 'When the whole was over, the rampant spirit of liberty, and the wild impatience of a genuine English mob, were exhibited in perfection. In a very few minutes the whole scaffolding, benches, and chairs, and everything else, was completely destroyed; and the mat with which it had been covered torn into ten thousand long strips or pieces, or strings; with which they _encircled_ or inclosed multitudes of people of all ranks. These they hurried along with them, and everything else that came in their way, as trophies of joy; and thus, in the midst of exultation and triumph, they paraded through many of the most populous streets of London.'
To the British Museum he paid a flying visit of little more than an hour, with a miscellaneous and 'personally conducted' party,--a visit scarcely favourable to minute impressions. But of the Haymarket Theatre, to which he went twice (Covent Garden and Drury Lane being closed as usual for the summer months), he gives a fairly detailed account. Foote's 'Nabob' was the play on the first night; that on the second, the 'English Merchant,' adapted by the elder Colman from the 'Ecossaise' of Voltaire. With this latter he was already familiar in its German dress, having seen it at Hamburg. On both occasions the performance wound up with O'Keeffe's once-famous ballad farce of 'The Agreeable Surprise.' That excellent bur-letta singer, John Edwin, took the part of 'Lingo' the schoolmaster (which he had created), * to the entire satisfaction of Moritz, who thought him, with his '_Amo, amas_, I love a lass,' etc., and his musical voice, 'one of the best actors of all that he had seen,' notwithstanding that Jack Palmer (Lamb and Goldsmith's Palmer!) acted the Nabob.
* There is a print of Edwin in this character after a picture by Alefounder. He was also a favourite 'Croaker' in the 'Good Natur'd Man.'
But if he was pleased with the acting, he was not equally impressed by the audience. The ceaseless clamour of the upper gallery and the steady hail of missiles were anything but agreeable. 'Often and often whilst I sat here [i.e. in the pit], did a rotten orange, or pieces of the peel of an orange, fly past me, or past some of my neighbours, and once one of them actually hit my hat, without my daring to look round, for fear another might then hit me on my face.' Another passage connected with this part of the entertainment illustrates the old fashion of sending the lackeys to keep their masters' places: 'In the boxes, quite in a corner, sat several servants, who were said to be placed there, to keep the seats for the families they served, till they should arrive; they seemed to sit remarkably close and still, the reason of which, I was told, was their apprehension of being pelted, for, if one of them dares but to look out of the box, he is immediately saluted with a shower of orange peel from the gallery.'
Over the descriptions of St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey we must pass silently, in order to accompany the tourist on his road to Derbyshire, to the 'natural curiosities' of which, after some hesitation, he felt himself most at tracted. Equipped with a road-book, he set out by stage-coach from the White Hart (in the Strand) for Richmond, intending thence to pursue his journey on foot. According to his own account, he must have travelled in just such' another vehicle as that depicted in Hogarth's 'Country Inn-Yard,' and have shared the curiosity, so often felt by admirers of that veracious picture, and afterwards amply gratified in his own case, as to the method by which passengers managed to 'fasten themselves securely on the roof.' Luckily the coach met neither highwayman nor footpad. At Richmond he alighted, and is properly enthusiastic, almost dithyrambic, over 'one of the first situations in the world.' He even got up to see the sun rise from Richmond Hill, with the usual fate of such premature adventurers, a clouded sky. Then he set out on foot by Windsor to Oxford. But he speedily discovered that, in a horse-riding age, a pedestrian was a person of very inferior respectability; and though--modelling himself upon the Vicar of Wakefield--he was careful to invite the landlords to drink with him, he found himself generally treated with pity or contempt, which, when he sat down under a hedge to read Milton, almost changed into a doubt of his sanity. At most of the inns they declined to give him house-room, though, finally, he was allowed to enter 'one of those kitchens which I had so often read of in Fielding's fine novels,' where, just as in those novels, presently arrives a showy post-chaise to set the servile establishment in a bustle, although the occupants called for nothing but two pots of beer. After a vain attempt to obtain a night's lodging at Nuneham, he picks up a travelling companion in the shape of a young parson, who had been preaching at Dorchester and was returning to Oxford. His new ally takes him to the time-honoured Mitre, where he finds a great number of clergymen, all with their gowns and bands on, sitting round a large table, each with his pot of beer before him.' A not very edifying theological discussion ensues, which is too long to quote, and poor Parson Moritz is so well entertained that he has a splitting headache next morning. His further fortunes cannot be detailed here. From Oxford he goes to Stratford-on-Avon, then to Lichfield and Derby, and so to his destination, 'the great cavern near Castleton, in the high Peake of Derbyshire,' which he describes at length. He returns by Nottingham and Leicester, whence, still enthusiastic, but a little weary of his humiliations on foot, he takes coach to Northampton, mounting to the top, in company with a farmer, a young man and 'a black-a-moor.' This eminence proving as perilous as it looked, he creeps into the basket, in spite of the warnings of the black. 'As long as we went up hill, it was easy and pleasant. And, having had little or no sleep the night before, I was almost asleep among the trunks and the packages; but how was the case altered when we came to go down hill; then all the trunks and parcels began, as it were, to dance around me, and everything in the basket seemed to be alive; and I every moment received from them such violent blows, that I thought my last hour was come. I now found that what the black had told me was no exaggeration; but all my complaints were useless. I was obliged to suffer this torture nearly an hour, till we came to another hill again, when, quite shaken to pieces and sadly bruised, I again crept to the top of the coach, and took possession of my former seat.' No wonder he concludes his part of his experiences with a solemn warning to travellers to take inside places in English post coaches. With his return to London his narrative practically ends. But the rapid sketch here given of it affords no sufficient hint of the abundance of _naïf_ detail, of simple enthusiasm and kindly wonderment, which characterize its pages. To complete the impression given, we should be able to suppose the writer resting contentedly from a solitary literary effort, and ending tranquil days as a kind of German Dr. Primrose, telling grandchildren, such as Chodowiecki drew, how he once saw Goldsmith's monument in the great Abbey by the Thames, and heard Pitt speak in the Parliament House at Westminster. But this is to reckon without the all-recording pages of the 'Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie,' and that harsh resolvent, Fact. For the future of Pastor Charles P. Moritz was not at all in this wise. Besides his letters to his 'dearest Gedike,' he wrote many other works, including a 'psychological romance' and 'Travels in Italy;' became a Fine-Art Professor; married late in life, but not happily; left no family; and, last of all, had been dead two years when the translation which has formed the subject of these pages was first introduced to English readers.
XX. OLD VAUXHALL GARDENS.
```'In gay Vauxhall now saunter beaux and belles,
```And happier cits resort to Sadler's Wells.'=
|THUS sings one of Sylvanus Urban's poets, describing the pleasures of Spring in the London of George the Second. In the epithet 'happier'--an epithet probably suggested by the not very profound observation that the middle classes as a rule took their pleasure less sadly than mere persons of quality--there is 'the least little touch of spleen.' But the social distinction implied between the fashionable gardens on the Surrey side of the water and the more popular place of entertainment from which the tired dyer and his melting wife are trudging wearily in Hogarth's 'Evening' is practically preserved in the advertisements to be found, between May and August, in the newspapers of the time. Sadler's Wells is specific in its attractions,--its burletta or its rope-dancer: Vauxhall, on the contrary, with a disdainful reticence,--a _superbia quosita mentis_ befitting the 'genuine and only Jarley,'--shortly sets forth that its 'Evening Entertainments' will begin on such a date; that the price of admission is one shilling; and that the doors will open at five. After this notification it continued, at rare intervals, to repeat that the gardens were at the service of the public; but made no more definite sign. Obviously the thing to do was to go. With the help of a few old pamphlets and descriptions, it is proposed to invite the reader to make that expedition, and to revive, if it may be, some memory of a place, the traces of which are strewn broadcast over the literature of the last century. It is true that Vauxhall Gardens survived to a date much later than this. But it was Vauxhall 'with a difference,' and the Vauxhall here intended is Vauxhall in its prime, between 1750 and 1790,--the Vauxhall of Horace Walpole and the 'Connoisseur,'--of Beau Tibbs and the pawnbroker's widow,--of Fielding's 'Amelia' and Fanny Burney's 'Evelina.'
In 1750, the customary approach to this earthly paradise was still along that silent highway of the Thames over which, nearly forty years before, Sir Roger de Coverley and Mr. Spectator had been rowed by the wooden-legged waterman who had fought at La Hogue. There was, indeed, a bridge built or being built at Westminster; but more than half a century was to elapse before there was another at Vauxhall. This little preliminary boating-party, especially to the accompaniment of French horns, must have been one of the delights of the journey, although, if we are to believe a Gallic poet who addressed a copy of verses upon 'Le Vauxhall de Londres' to M. de Fontenelle, '_le trajet du fleuve fatal_' was not without its terrors to would-be visitors. Goldsmith's Mrs. Tibbs, at all events, had 'a natural aversion to the water,' and when Mr. Matthew Bramble went, he went by coach for fear of cold, while the younger and bolder spirits of his party took ship from Ranelagh in 'a wherry, so light and slender' that, says poetical Miss Lydia Melford, they looked like 'fairies sailing in a nutshell.' They were four in the boat, she nevertheless adds, beside the oarsman; and if this paper were to be illustrated by fancy pictures the artist's attention might be particularly invited to that very fantastic fairy, Mrs. Tabitha Bramble, who, we are told, 'with her rumpt gown and petticoat, her scanty curls, her lappet-head, deep triple ruffles and high stays,' was (in Lady Griskin's opinion) 'twenty good years behind the fashion.' What the waterman charged, the fair Lydia does not tell us; but he probably asked more than usual for so exceptional a cargo. Meanwhile, the old rates shown in the 'Court and City Registers' of the time are moderate enough. From Whitehall Stairs, the favourite starting-place, the cost of a pair of oars was sixpence; from the Temple eightpence. For sculls you paid no more than half.
When, after passing Lambeth Palace on the left,--and possibly receiving from neighbouring boats some of those flowers of rhetoric to which Johnson once so triumphantly retorted,--you reached Vauxhall Stairs, your experiences were still, in all probability, those of Lydia Melford and her friends. There would be the same crush of wherries and confusion of tongues at the landing-place, and the same crowd of mudlarks and loafers would come rushing into the water to offer their unsolicited (but not gratuitous) services. Once free of these, a few steps would bring you to the unimposing entrance of the garden,--a gate or wicket in the front of an ordinary-looking house. Here you either exhibited your ticket, or paid your shilling; hurried, not without a throb of anticipation, down a darkened passage; and then, if you were as young and unsophisticated as Fanny Bolton in 'Pendennis,' probably uttered an involuntary exclamation of wonder as, with a sudden sound of muffled music, the many-lighted inclosure burst upon your view. There seems to be no doubt as to the surprise, heightened of course by the mean approach, and the genuine fascination of this first impression. The tall elms and sycamores, with the coloured lamps braced to the tree-trunks or twinkling through the leaves, the long ranges of alcoves with their inviting supper-tables, the brightly-shining temples and pavilions, the fading vistas and the ever-changing groups of pleasure-seekers, must have combined to form a whole which fully justified the enthusiasm of contemporaries, even if it did not, in the florid language of the old guide-books, exactly 'furnish the pen of a sublime and poetic genius with inexhaustible scenes of luxuriant fancy.'
The general disposition of the gardens was extremely simple and, in Miss Burney's opinion, even 'formal.' Opposite you, as you entered, was the Grand Walk, extending the entire length of the inclosure for a distance of 900 feet, and terminated, at the farther end, by a gilded statue of Aurora, apparently 'tip-toe on the mountain tops.' For this was afterwards substituted 'a Grand Gothic obelisk,' at the corners of which were painted a number of slaves chained, and over them the inscription:=
Beyond the end of this walk was a sunk-fence or _ha-ha_ which separated the gardens from the hayfields then adjoining it. Parallel to the Grand Walk ran the South Walk with its triumphal arches; next to this again was the covered alley known indifferently as the Druid's or Lovers' Walk, made rather for 'whispering lovers' than for 'talking age;' and last came a fourth walk open at the top. Other walks, the chief of which was the Cross Walk, traversed the garden from side to side; and in the quadrangle formed by the Grand Walk, the Cross Walk, the South Walk, and the remaining side of the grounds, was a space of about five acres. This, which lay to the right of the entrance, was known as the Grove.
The chief feature of the Grove was its open-air orchestra, at first no more than a modest structure bearing the unambitious title of the 'rustic music-house.' But about 1758, this made way for a much more ornate building 'in the Gothic manner,' having, like its predecessor, pavilions beneath for the accommodation of supper-parties. Above, it contained a magnificent organ, in front of which, encircling an open space for the singers, were ranged the seats and desks of the musicians. This second orchestra, which was lavishly ornamented with niches and carvings, was surmounted by the ostrich plumes of the Prince of Wales. The decorations were modelled in a composition said to be known only to the 'ingenious architect,' a carpenter named Maidman, and the whole was painted 'white and bloom colour.' Immediately behind the orchestra was a building described as 'a Turkish tent,' with a carved blue and gold dome supported on eight internal Ionic, and twelve external Doric columns. This was profusely embellished, both within and without, by rich festoons of flowers. A good idea of the orchestra in its renovated form may be gathered from a little plate by Wale, in which the supper-tables are shown laid out in front. These for a long time were covered with red baize, an arrangement that added greatly to the general effect, which was further enhanced by arches of coloured lamps and other contrivances. There is a tinted design by Rowlandson--one indeed of his most popular efforts--depicting a motley group in front of the orchestra during the performance of Mrs. Weichsell, and numbering among the crowd of listeners the Prince of Wales, 'Perdita,' the Duchess of Devonshire, Lady Duncannon, and other distinguished personages. In a supper-box at the side are Johnson, Boswell, Goldsmith, and Mrs. Thrale.
The musical performances in the orchestra generally began at six. At first they were wholly instrumental, and confined to 'sonatas and concertos.' In time, however, songs were added to the programme; and later still these were diversified by catches and glees, which generally came in the middle and at the end of the sixteen pieces to which the entertainment was restricted. Before the introduction of glees and catches, it was the practice to wind up with a duet or trio, accompanied by a chorus. In the old Vauxhall song-books may be studied the species of lyric which was trilled or quavered nightly from the Gothic aviary in the Grove. There is not much variety in these hymns to 'Jem of Aberdovey' or 'Kate of Aberdare, and the prevailing tone is abjectly sentimental. A favourite form was the 'Rondeau,' a much more rudimentary production than the little French plaything now known by that name, and characterized chiefly by its immoderate use of the refrain.=
````'Tarry awhile with me, my Love,
````O tarry awhile with me.'=
This is the artless burden of one of the 'celebrated Roundelays' sung at Vauxhall by the celebrated Mrs. Bland (_blandior Orpheo!_) to the music of the equally celebrated Mr. James Hook; and the 'young Shepherd by Love sore opprest, When the Maid of his heart he fondly addrest,' can scarcely be acquitted of needless iteration. But the music was often of a much higher kind, and the beautiful Shakespearean songs of Dr. Arne, 'When daisies pied,' and 'Where the bee sucks,' or 'Water parted' from the same composer's Opera of 'Artaxerxes,' alternated occasionally with the more popular ditties which delighted the average listener. Hook (the father of Theodore Hook), who was organist for upward of forty years, and Arne, who often conducted, were the most assiduous composers. Among the female singers were many vocal celebrities of the last century,--Mrs. Vincent and Miss Brent (of whom Goldsmith writes in 'The Bee' and 'The Citizen of the World'); the before-named Mrs. Weichsell, fair mother of the fairer Mrs. Billington; Mrs. Mountain; and for men, Lowe, Denman, Vernon, the 'great Dignum,' and the famous tenor Beard, whose name, together with that of one of his gentler colleagues, survives in Churchill's hectoring couplets:=
```'Where tyrants rule, and slaves with joy obey,
```Let slavish minstrels pour th' enervate lay;
```To Britons far more noble pleasures spring,
```In native notes whilst Beard and Vincent sing.'=
The broad-shouldered poet of the 'Rosciad' and the 'Apology,' it may be added, was himself one of the constant frequenters of the garden, where he was wont to appear, not in clerical black, as in the pit of Drury Lane, but resplendent in a blue coat, white silk stockings, silver shoe-buckles, and a gold-laced hat.
The 'native notes' of the orchestra, however, could only be comfortably enjoyed in fine weather. When it rained,--and the eighteenth century had no immunity in this respect,--the company, like Mr. Bramble, took shelter in the Rotunda. This was a large circular saloon, entered through a colonnade to the left of the Grand Walk. It was freely furnished with busts, mirrors, sconces, and the like. But its chief glory was its roof, known popularly as 'the Umbrella,' and specially constructed for musical purposes. Profusely ornamented with gilding and festoons, it seems to have presented something of the appearance of a large fluted shell. When the 'new music room,' as it was at first called, was erected, the organ and orchestra it contained fronted the entrance through the colonnade in the Grove. By-and-by these were moved to the left, so as to face a new room which was added to the Rotunda, and ran forward into the garden at the back of the colonnade, parallel to the Grove. This room, supported by elaborate columns, and lighted from two cupolas painted with gods and goddesses, must have added materially to the attractions of the Rotunda, when entered through it. In course of time, the spaces between the side columns were filled with large pictures representing national subjects, from the brush of Hogarth's friend, the history painter, Frank Hayman. In one, Britannia distributed laurels to Lord Granby and other distinguished officers; in another, Clive received the homage of the Nabob; in the third, Neptune rejoiced over Hawke's victory of 1759. But the best known, and the first finished of the group--it was exhibited in 1761--was the surrender of Montreal to Amherst. Whether copies of these still exist we know not; but, to judge from its effect upon Pastor Moritz, this last, at all events, must have had its merits.*
* See the preceding paper, 'A German in England.'
'Among the paintings,' he says, 'one represents the surrender of a besieged city. If you look at this painting with attention for any length of time, it affects you so much that you even shed tears. The expression of the greatest distress, even bordering on despair, on the part of the besieged, the fearful expectation of the uncertain issue, and what the victor will determine concerning those unfortunate people, may all be read so plainly and so naturally in the countenances of the inhabitants who are imploring for mercy, from the hoary head to the suckling whom his mother holds up, that you quite forget yourself, and in the end scarcely believe it to be a painting before you.'
The new room was entered through a Gothic portal or temple, which contained portraits of George the Third and Queen Charlotte, and also formed the starting-point of a semicircular piazza or colonnade that swept round to a similar terminal temple at the end of the arc. Between these two, in the middle of the semicircle, was a higher central structure denominated in old prints the Temple of Cornus. This is said, rather vaguely, to have been 'embellished with rays,' and had above it a large star or sun, which, from the description, would seem to have been illuminated at night. Inside, it was painted with a composition 'in the Chinese taste' representing Vulcan catching Mars and Venus in the historical net, the painter being named (not inappropriately) Risquet. The two pavilions or alcoves immediately adjoining also contained pictures. To the right a lady and gentleman were shown entering Vauxhall; to the left was a presumably emblematic design of 'Friendship on the grass, drinking.' Other boxes fitted for the accommodation of supper-parties, but having no pictorial decorations, extended on either side of the Temple of Cornus.
Of the terminal temples, one, as already stated, served as the porch to the new room; its fellow at the farther end ultimately formed the entrance to a famous and popular entertainment referred to in a former paper, * and known indifferently as the 'Waterworks' or the 'Cascade.'
* See ante,--'The Citizen of the World,' p. 161.
Some of the earlier references to this, or to its earliest form, are more or less contemptuous, as the 'World,' the 'Connoisseur,' and the 'Gray's Inn Journal' all speak of it slightingly as the 'Tin Cascade.' But, as time went on, it must have been greatly improved. Here is Moritz's description of it in 1782: 'Lateish in the evening [i.e. about nine o'clock], we were entertained with a sight, that is indeed singularly curious and interesting. In a particular part of the garden, a curtain was drawn up, and by means of some mechanism, of extraordinary ingenuity, the eye and the ear are so completely deceived, that it is not easy to persuade one's-self it is a deception; and that one does not actually see and hear a natural waterfall from an high rock.' The next sentence adds a characteristic detail: 'As every one was flocking to this scene in crowds, there arose all at once, a loud cry of "Take care of your pockets." This informed us, but too clearly, that there were some pick-pockets among the crowd, who had already made some fortunate strokes.' Ten years later still, many other details and effects must have been added, since the descriptions speak of representations of trees blown by the wind, of thatches torn off, of wagons and troops of soldiers crossing bridges, etc. By this time, in fact, it was a monster 'moving picture,' of the kind which Pinchbeck and Fawkes were in the habit of exhibiting at Bartholomew Fair. But in Goldsmith's day it was still in the elementary stage described by Sylvanus Urban in August, 1765, that is to say, it exhibited 'a beautiful landscape in perspective, with a miller's house, a water-mill, and a cascade.' At the proper moment this last presented the exact appearance of water flowing down a declivity, rising up in a foam at the bottom, and then gliding away.
Beyond the terminal temple which served as the approach to the water-works a sweep of pavilions led back to the Grand Walk. In the last of these was a picture of Gay's 'Black-Eyed Susan,' taken apparently at that affecting moment when, returning to shore from her faithful William, she 'waved her lily hand.' A little higher the Grand Walk was intersected at right angles by the Grand Cross Walk, which, as already stated, traversed the gardens. To the right this was terminated by the Druid's Walk and a statue of Apollo; to the left, by one of the 'favourite illusions of the place, a large painting representing ruins and running water. In this part of the garden, as far as it is possible to make it out from the descriptions, extending on the left towards the bottom, were, on one side, a Wilderness, on the other Rural Downs 'with several little eminences... after the manner of a Roman camp.' These were 'covered with turf, and pleasingly interspersed with cypress, fir, yew, cedar, and tulip trees.' On one of these heights, the attentive spectator soon discovered, like Pastor Moritz, the statue (in lead) of Milton which the guide-books attribute to Roubiliac. At night this statue was lighted with lamps. From the downs, say the old guide-books, you had a good view of Lambeth, Westminster, and St. Paul's. It was in this part of the garden also, from some of the bushes of the Roman camp, that proceeded the subterranean entertainment known as the 'Fairy Music.' But this 'lodging on the eold ground,'--to quote the old Caroline song,--was found 'prejudicial to the instruments,' probably also to the instrumentalists, and it was eventually discontinued.
If, turning your back upon the picture of ruins and running water, you followed the Cross Walk behind the pavilions which formed the north side of the Grove, you came upon the South Walk, which ran parallel to the Grand Walk. The speciality of this promenade was its 'three splendid triumphal arches.' The vista through these arches was, at first, closed by a pictorial representation of the Ruins of Palmyra. But the simulated ruins themselves grew ruinous, and finally made way for 'a noble view of architecture designed by Sand by [no doubt the brother of Hogarth's opponent], and painted by Mortimer.' At night the same painter's work was exhibited in the form of an illuminated transparency. Where the South Walk ran parallel to the right side of the Grove was a further range of pavilions, part of which formed a semicircle shaded in front by lofty trees. In the centre of this semicircle stood, for some time, the cynosure of Vauxhall, L. F. Roubiliac's statue of Handel, rather less than life-size, in the character of Orpheus playing on his lyre. It was, however, frequently moved; and its different positions are a source of considerable mystification to the student of the old prints of the place. In 1774, according to Smith's 'Nollekens,' it had its habitat 'under an inclosed lofty arch, surmounted by a figure [of Saint Cecilia] playing the violoncello, attended by two boys; and it was then screened from the weather by a curtain, which was drawn up when the visitors arrived.' In Canaletto's view of six years later it is disporting itself in the open, as above described; but after the new Gothic orchestra was erected, it seems to have returned to its original retreat, and later still had found an asylum in a new supper-room which was added to the Rotunda. Rartolozzi is credited with a fine engraving of this statue, which was reputed to be the first original work Roubiliac carved in England. It did not always remain at Vauxhall, and ultimately passed into the keeping of the descendants of the proprietor of the garden, where, at present, we need no further follow its fortunes. *
* For some supplementary particulars respecting this statue, see 'Eighteenth Century Vignettes,' 2nd series, 1894, pp. 53-4.
As already stated, each of the four sides of the quadrangle which enclosed the Grove was occupied by pavilions, alcoves, or booths fitted up for the accommodation of supper-parties. These were of varying importance, since we are expressly informed, in 'The Citizen of the World,' that some were more 'genteel' than others, and that those in that 'very focus of public view' affected by Goldsmith's Beau and his lady, were appropriated more or less by persons of position. The one that fronted the Orchestra was larger than the rest, having been specially built for Frederick, Prince of Wales. It was decorated by Hayman with paintings from 'The Tempest,' 'King Lear,' 'Macbeth,' and 'Henry the Fifth,' and had behind it a handsome drawing-room.
The mention of the decorations in the Prince of Wales's pavilion recalls one of the historical attractions of the gardens,--the pictures in the other supper-boxes. At night-time each of these was 'enlightened to the front with globes;' and a story, which has always seemed to us a little indefinite, traces the first suggestion of them to Hogarth. But one of the earliest and most trustworthy of the guides--the 'Sketch of the Spring Gardens, Vauxhall: In a Letter to a Noble Lord'--implies that Hayman was the true originator in this matter. It is certain, however, that Hogarth contributed specimens of his own works to the cause, and that others were copied. According to his first annotator, Nichols, Dayman reproduced the 'Four Times of the Day' for Vauxhall; and in 1782 two of these, 'Evening' and 'Night,' were still there, and must have been seen by Moritz; while in the portico of the Rotunda was an unquestioned picture from Hogarth's own brush, Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn,--names which, it was popularly whispered, but thinly veiled the likenesses of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his mistress, Anne Vane, not to be confused with the notorious 'Lady of Quality' of the same surname in Smollet's 'Peregrine Pickle.' Another work claimed as Hogarth's when, years after, obscured by dirt and slashed by sandwich knives, the relics of the little gallery came to the hammer, was Harper and Mrs. Clive (then Miss Raftor) as 'Jobson the Cobbler' and his wife 'Nell' in Coffey's farce of 'The Devil to pay; or, the Wives Metamorphosed;' but this, as well as a nautical _genre_ picture called 'The Wap-ping Landlady,' is plainly attributed to Hayman in the contemporary prints of Sayer. It is probable also that Hayman had the chief hand in 'Mademoiselle Catherina,' a diminutive lady whose history has escaped the chroniclers, and 'Building Houses with Cards,' although the two children in the latter have certainly a look of his more illustrious contemporary. But, on the whole, it may be concluded that there was little of Hogarth's original work among the sea-fights, popular games (e.g. the time-honoured pastimes of 'Bob Cherry' and 'Hot Cockles'), and other engaging compositions which delighted the simple soul of the pawnbroker's widow and disgusted the eclectic Mr. Tibbs, full of Grisoni and the grand contorno. Hogarth's picture in the Rotunda portico, coupled with his permission to reproduce his other works, would, however, be ground enough to justify the gold ticket _In perpetuam Beneficii memoriam_ with which he was presented by the grateful proprietor. This ticket, which admitted 'a coachful,' that is, six persons, was, in 1808, in the possession of Mrs. Hogarth's cousin, Mary Lewis, in whose arms the painter died. It had passed to fresh hands in 1825, when, with other silver passes, all said to be struck from Hogarth's designs, and including among the rest that of George Carey, the author of many Vauxhall songs, it was engraved for the 'Londina Illustrata' of Wilkinson.
The greater part of the literary memories of Vauxhall Gardens cluster round these gaily painted boxes from which, at some moment of their careers, most of the notabilities of the day had taken their view of 'many-coloured life.' Churchill we have already seen there in his habit as he lived; and Collins is said to have divided his attentions between Vauxhall and the play-houses. Goldsmith and Reynolds, we know, were frequent visitors; Johnson, according to Dr. Maxwell (and in spite of Rowlandson), was more partial to Ranolagh. It is in Vauxhall's 'proud alcoves' that Fielding places one of the scenes of 'Amelia;' prefacing it with a handsome compliment to the extreme 'elegance' and 'beauty' of the place. The account of the rudeness which his heroine and her party suffered from Captain Trent and his companions is scarcely separable from its context, although it conveys a graphic idea, confirmed by other records, of the annoyances to which the more peaceable visitors were occasionally exposed at the hands of the Georgian man-about-town. But there is a pen-and-ink picture in Colman and Thornton's 'Connoisseur' which, although mainly levelled at the exorbitant prices of provisions, may be taken to depict pretty accurately the humours of an ordinary middle-class family at Vauxhall. Mr. Rose, a tradesman, his wife, and his two daughters, make the turn of the place, and then sit down to supper. 'Do let us have a chick, papa,' says one of the young ladies. Papa replies that 'they are half a crown apiece, and no bigger than a sparrow.' Thereupon he is very properly rebuked by his wife for his stinginess. 'When one is out upon pleasure,' she says, 'I love to appear like somebody; and what signifies a few shillings once and away, when a body is about it?' So the chick is ordered, and brought. And then ensues a dialogue between the cit and the waiter, in which the former, from the price of the sample before him, ironically estimates the price of an entire Vauxhall ham to be about £24, and after being decorated by his wife with a coloured handkerchief by way of bib, proceeds to eat, saying at every mouthful, 'There goes twopence, there goes threepence, there goes a groat.' Beef and cheese-cakes, which are also freely commented upon, follow, and finally Mr. Rose calls for a bottle of port, the size of which does not escape invidious comparison with the more generous vessels of the Jerusalem Coffee House, although the contents have the effect of soothing the critic into the unwonted extravagance of a second pint. Then, after the old lady has observed upon the rudeness of the gentlemen, who stare her out of countenance with their spy-glasses, and the younger girl is speculating whether, if she | buys the words of the last new song, she can carry home the tune, arrives the reckoning, which is exactly thirteen shillings and twopence. The last glimpse we get of the little party shows them leaving the gardens in a shower, Madam with her upper petticoat thrown over her head, her daughters with turned-up skirts, and Paterfamilias with his flapped hat tied round with a pocket handkerchief, his coat buttoned to save his lace waistcoat, and his wife's cardinal spread wrong side out over his shoulders to save his coat. Thus they sally out to their hack--he lamenting half humorously, half ruefully, that he might have spent his evening at Sot's Hole for fourpence halfpenny, whereas Vauxhall, with the coach hire, will have cost him 'almost a pound.' In the 'Wits' Magazine' for 784, you may see the whole group depicted to the life after the broad, ungentle fashion of the time.
That the cost of the refreshments was a fertile topic of discussion is, to cite but one of many witnesses, confirmed by Miss Burney in 'Evelina;' and the popular legend that an expert Vauxhall carver could cover the entire garden (about eleven acres) with slices from one ham, may be accepted as corroborative evidence. Old frequenters, indeed, pretended to remember the particular angle at which the plates had to be carried to prevent their leaf-like contents from becoming the plaything of the winds. But the above picture from the 'Connoisseur,' it must be noted, is a picture of the occasional visitor,--the visitor who made but one annual visit, which was the event of the year. The main supporters of the place were the persons of quality, of whom Walpole gossips so delightfully in his correspondence; and it is to his pages that one must go for a faithful representation of High Life at Vauxhall. In one of his letters to George Montagu, he describes, with his inimitable air of a fine gentleman on a frolic, a party of pleasure at which he has assisted, and which (he considers) exhibits 'the manners of the age.' He tells how he receives a card from Lady Caroline Petersham (the Duke of Grafton's daughter) to go with her to Vauxhall. Thereupon he repairs to her house, and finds 'her and the little Ashe, or the Pollard Ashe, as they call her,' having 'just finished their last layer of red, and looking as handsome as crimson can make them.' Others of the company are the Duke of Kingston, Lord March of Thackeray's 'Virginians,' Mr. Whitehed, 'a pretty Miss Beauclcre, and a very foolish Miss Sparre.' As they 'sail up the Mall,' they encounter cross-grained Lord Petersham (my lady's husband), 'as sulky as a ghost that nobody will speak to first,' and who declines to accompany his wife and her friends. So they march to their barge, which has 'a boat of French horns attending,' and 'little Ashe' sings. After parading up and down the river, they 'debark' at Vauxhall, where at the outset they narrowly escape the excitement of a duel. For a certain Mrs. Lloyd of Spring Gardens (afterwards married to Lord Haddington), seeing Miss Beauclerc and her companion following Lady Petersham, says audibly, 'Poor girls, I am sorry to see them in such bad company,' a remark which 'the foolish Miss Sparre' (she is but fifteen), for the fun of seeing a duel, endeavours to make Lord March resent. But my Lord, who is 'very lively and agreeable,' laughs her out of 'this charming frolic with a great deal of humour.' 'At last,' says Walpole,--and here we may surrender the story to him entirely,--'we assembled in our booth, Lady Caroline in the front, with the vizor of her hat erect, and looking gloriously jolly and handsome. She had fetched my brother Orford from the next box, where he was enjoying himself with his _petite partie_, to help us to mince chickens. We minced seven chickens into a china dish, which Lady Caroline stewed over a lamp, with three pats of butter and a flagon of water, stirring, and rattling, and laughing, and we every minute expecting to have the dish fly about our ears. She had brought Betty [Neale] the fruit girl, with hampers of strawberries and cherries from Rogers's, and made her wait upon us, and then made her sup by us at a little table. The conversation was no less lively than the whole transaction. There was a Mr. O'Brien arrived from Ireland, who would get the Duchess of Manchester from Mr. Hussey if she were still at liberty. I took up the biggest hautboy in the dish, and said to Lady Caroline, "Madam, Miss A he desires you would eat this O'Brien strawberry;" she replied immediately.
"I won't, you hussey." You may imagine the laugh this reply occasioned. After the tempest was a little calmed, the Pollard said, "Now, how anybody would spoil this story that was to repeat it and say, I won't, you jade!" In short, the whole air of our party was sufficient, as you will easily imagine, to take up the whole attention of the garden; so much so, that from eleven o'clock till half an hour after one we had the whole concourse round our booth; at last they came into the little gardens of each booth on the sides of ours, till Harry Vane took up a bumper and was proceeding to treat them with still greater freedom. It was three o'clock before we got home.'
Whether this 'frisk' in good society included the passage of the Dark Walk, the chronicler has not related. But the Dark Walk, also known as the 'Druid's,' or 'Lovers' Walk,' is almost the only feature of the gardens which now needs to be described. Its position has already been roughly indicated. It was formed by tall overarching trees meeting at the top, in which, in the place's palmiest days, blackbirds, thrushes, and nightingales made their nests. A visit to this _selva oscura_ was the prime ambition of the more inquiring visitor to Vauxhall, either upon the simple ground put forward by the elder Miss Rose in the 'Connoisseur' that it was '_solentary_,' or upon the more specious excuse, advanced by the generality, that the music of the Orchestra sounded better through the thick foliage of the trees. But the pretexts for seeking these attractive shades were probably as inexhaustible as Dean Aldrich's reasons for drinking, the last of which was 'any other reason.' In Miss Burney's 'Evelina,' that delightful heroine is decoyed into the Dark Walk by her vulgar friends, the Branghtons.
There she is insulted by a gang of rakes, and is rescued by Sir Clement Willoughby, who, apparently under the influence of the genius of the place, proceeds, after certain impertinences, to make her a spasmodic declaration, plentifully punctuated with dashes in this wise,--'O Miss Anville,--loveliest of women,--forgive me,--my--I beseech you forgive me;--if I have offended--if I have hurt you,--I could kill myself at the thought!' etc. Thus this 'most impetuous of men;' and thus did they make love in Vauxhall's 'green retreats' 'when George was king.' Nor love alone, apparently; for if the old descriptions are strictly accurate in representing some of its frequenters as yelling 'in sounds fully as terrific as the imagined horrors of Cavalcanti's bloodhounds,' there must have been a considerable amount of more than questionable horse-play besides; and the licensing magistrates who, in 1763, bound the proprietors to do away with the 'dark walks,' and to appoint proper watchmen, were no doubt well advised.
From the use of the plural 'walks,' it may be that the prohibition also included the numerous wildernesses which occupied the north of the inclosure,--wildernesses so intricate that, even in the prehistoric era of the place, the most experienced mothers--to use the expressive words of Tom Brown 'of facetious memory'--often 'lost themselves in looking for their daughters.' And this brings us to the final item in our catalogue, the walk which bounded the garden on the north, closing and terminating the four great promenades that traversed it from top to bottom. This, shaded like the rest by trees, had at each end one of the favourite 'scenes.' That to the east was a view in a Chinese garden; that to west, a building with a scaffold and a ladder before it, which at a distance 'often deceived the eye very agreeably.' History has neglected the artist of these ingenious performances. But Hayman had begun with stage decoration, and may perhaps have executed them. Or they may have been from the brush of George Lambert, the well-known scene-painter of Covent Garden, who, like Hayman, was a friend of Hogarth, and is reported to have borne his part in the beautifying of the place.
In the foregoing sketch we have endeavoured to revive some specific idea of the aspect of a forgotten place of amusement, rather than to produce that indefinite patchwork of anecdote which, with a judicious sprinkling of shoe buckles and periwigs, of hoops and gipsy-hats, so often does duty for 'a picture of the time.' But a last word must certainly be devoted to the proprietor and presiding spirit, Jonathan Tyers. Little seems to be known of him before he acquired the site of the old Spring Garden of the 'Spectator' in March, 1728, from one Elizabeth Masters, of London, upon a thirty years' lease. Even then it must have had many of the appurtenances of a public resort, for the deed enumerates a Ham-room and a Milk-house, and there were already primitive alcoves in the shape of tiled arbours entitled Royal George, Ship, Eagle, Phoenix, Checker, and the like. Nay, there were already lofty trees which dated from the seventeenth century and the days of an earlier possessor, the Sir Samuel Morland of Pepys's Diary. The rent whieh Tyers paid was £250. He added music; then by degrees the orchestra and organ, the statues, the pictures, and the other adornments. He opened the garden in June, 1732, with illuminations and a _Ridotto al' fresco_, at which Frederick, Prince of Wales, was present; and the company, numbering four hundred, wore masks, dominoes, and lawyers' gowns. Order was kept by a detachment of footguards, and the admission ticket was designed by Jack Laguerre, son of the Louis whose muscular saints sprawl, in Pope's verse, upon the ceilings of 'Timon's Villa.' Payment was subsequently made at the gate; but in 1738, apparently with a view to render the attendance somewhat more select, a thousand silver season tickets were issued. In 1752 Tyers purchased part of the estate out and out, and a few years afterwards acquired the remainder. To the last day of his life he retained the keenest interest in the place, and only a few hours before his death caused himself to be carried into the gardens to take a parting look at them. At his country-seat of Denbies near Dorking in Surrey, he had another private garden, in the embellishment of which he must have found an outlet for some otherwise obstructed eccentricity, since it contained a representation of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where, in an alcove, had been depicted, in two compartments, the ends of the infidel and the Christian. According to the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' Tyers passed through the Valley himself in July, 1767. His descendants long continued to manage Vauxhall Gardens. Perhaps the most notable of these was his eldest son Tom, the friend and biographer of Johnson, and the 'Tom Restless' of the 'Idler.'
XXI. AT LEICESTER FIELDS.
|IT is with places as with persons: they often attract us more in their youth than in their maturer years Apart from the fact that these papers are confessedly confined to the Eighteenth Century, this threadbare truth affords a sufficient excuse for speaking of Leicester Square by its earlier, rather than by its existing name. And, indeed, the abiding interest of the locality lies more in the past than in the present. Not even the addition to the inclosure of busts and a Shakespeare fountain, has been able to regenerate entirely the Leicester Square that most of us remember, with its gloomy back streets,--its fringe of dingy _cafés_ and _restaurants_,--its ambiguous print and curiosity shops,--its incorrigibly unacclimatized Alhambra, whose garish Saracenic splendours scale and peel perpetually in London's _imber edax_. If we call anything forcibly to mind in connection with the spot, it is a certain central statue, long the mock of the irreverent,--a statue of the first George, which had come of old, gilded and magnificent, from 'Timon's Villa' at Canons, to fall at last upon evil days and evil tongues, to be rudely spotted with sacrilegious paint, to be crowned with a fool's cap, and, finally, to present itself to the spectator in the generally dishonoured and dilapidated condition in which, some twenty years ago, it was exhibited by the late John O'Connor on the walls of the Royal Academy. But when, travelling rapidly backwards, past the Empire and the Alhambra, past Wylde's Globe and the Panopticon, past Burford's Panorama and Miss Linwood's needlework, we enter the last century, we are in the Leicester Fields of Reynolds and Hogarth, of Newton and John Hunter,--the Leicester Fields of Sir George Savile and Frederick, Prince of Wales, of Colbert and Prince Eugene. This is the Leicester Fields of which we propose to speak. Leicester Square and its notorieties may be left to the topographers of the future. *
* The name 'Leicester Square'--it is but right to say--is also of fairly early date. In 'A Journey through England,' 4th cd., 1724, 1778, the writer, speaking of the space before Leicester House, says: 'This was till these Fourteen Years always called Leicester-Fields, but now Leicester- Square.'' There is, however, abundant evidence that the older name continued to be freely used throughout the century. For example, in 1783, Mrs. Hogarth's house is advertised as 'The Golden Head, in Leicester Fields;' and it is "at his house in Leicester Fields,' in 1792, that Malone makes Reynolds die.
It is in Ralph Agas his survey of 592 (or rather in Mr. W. H. Overall's excellent facsimile) that we make our first acquaintance with the Fields, then really entitled to their name. According to Agas, the ground to the north-west of Charing Cross, and immediately to the east of the present Whitcomb Street (at that time Hedge Lane) was formerly open pasture land, occupied--in the plan--by a pair of pedestrians larger than life, a woman laying out clothes, and two nondescript quadrupeds, of which one is broken-backed beyond the licence of deformity. The only erections to be discovered are the King's Mews, clustering together for company at the back of the Cross. Sixty years later, judging from the map known generally as Faithorne's, the locality had become more populated.. To the right of St. Martin's Lane it is thickly crowded with buildings; to the left also a line of houses is springing up and creeping northward; while in the open space above referred to stand a couple of lordly mansions. One, on a site which must have lain to the north of the present Little Newport Street, is Newport House, the town residence of Mountjoy Blount, Earl of Newport; the other, which occupies ground now traversed by Leicester Place, is Leicester House. Its garden at the back extended across the eastern end of Lisle Street, and its boundary wall to the north was also the southern boundary wall of the old Military Garden where King James's son, Prince Henry of Wales--whose gallant and martial presentment you shall see figured in the forefront of Michael Drayton's Poly-Olbion--had been wont to exercise his troops, and make the now-discredited welkin ring with the shooting-off of chambers, with alarums, and points of war.
Leicester House the first was built about 1632-6 by Robert Sydney, 2nd Earl of Leicester, the father of Algernon Sydney and of that beautiful Dorothy, afterwards Countess of Sunderland, whom Van Dyck painted and Waller 'Petrarchized' as Sacharissa. The site (Swan Close) * was what is known as Lammas-land, and from the Overseers' books of the Parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, the Earl seems not only to have paid 'Lamas' for 'the ground that adjoins to the Military Wall,' but also 'for the field that is before his house'--i.e. Leicester Fields.
* Cunningham failed to identify Swan Close. But from a letter in the State Paper Office, quoted in 'Temple Bar' for June, 1874, it would seem that this was the aetual site of the building.
This latter probably extended to the present Orange Street, so that the grounds of the old mansion may be roughly said to be bounded by the Mews on the south, and by the Military Garden on the north. Few memories cling about the place which belong to Lord Leicester's lifetime. When not engaged in embassies and the like, he was absent at his other and more famous seat of Penshurst in Kent, and Leicester House was 'To Let.' One of the earliest of its illustrious tenants was that quondam 'Queen of Hearts' (as Howell calls her), the unfortunate Elizabeth of Bohemia, who, already smitten with her last illness, died there in February, 1662, after a few days' residence, 'in the arms' (says Evelyn) 'of her nephew the King' [Charles II.]. Another tenant, some years later, was Charles Colbert, Marquis de Croissy, the French Ambassador, a brother of Louis the Fourteenth's famous minister and financier; and Pepys records, under date of 21st October, 1668, that he was to have taken part in a deputation from the Royal Society to Lord Leicester's distinguished lessee. But having unhappily been 'mighty merry' at a house-warming of his friend Batelier, he arrived too late to accompany the rest, and was fain to console himself (and perhaps to do penance) by carrying his wife to Cow Lane, Smithfield, in order to inspect a proposed new coach, with the splendours of which 'she is out of herself for joy almost,' although, from the sequel, it was not the one ultimately purchased.
Pepys, as will be seen, did not actually enter Leicester House, at all events upon this occasion. His brother diarist was more fortunate. Going in October, 1672, to take leave of the second Lady Sunderland (Sacharissa's daughter-in-law), whose husband had already set out as ambassador to Paris, grave John Evelyn was entertained by her Ladyship with the performances of Richardson the fire-eater, who, in those days, enjoyed a vogue sufficient to justify the record of his prowess in the 'Journal des Sçavans' for 1680. 'He devour'd brimston on glowing coales before us,' says Evelyn, 'chewing and swallowing them; he mealted a beere-glasse and eate it quite up; then taking a live coale on his tongue, he put on it a raw oyster, the coal was blown on with bellows till it flam'd and sparkl'd in his mouth, and so remain'd till the oyster gaped and was quite boiled; then he mealted pitch and wax with sulphur, which he drank downe as it flam'd; I saw it flaming in his mouth a good while; he also tooke up a thick piece of yron, such as laundresses use to put in their smoothing-boxes, when it was fiery hot, held it betweene his teeth, then in his hand, and threw it about like a stone, but this I observ'd he car'd not to hold very long; then he stood on a small pot, and bending his body, tooke a glowing yron with his mouth from betweene his feete, without touching the pot or ground with his hands; with divers other prodigious feates.' *
* 'Memoirs of John Evelyn,' etc., 1827, ii. pp. 375-6.
Lord Leicester closed a long life in 1677, and many other tenants afterwards occupied the mansion in the Fields. Under Anne it was the home of the German Ambassador, or 'Imperial Resident,' who lived in it far into the reign of the first George. At this time, judging from a water-colour bird's-eye view in the Crace Collection at the British Museum, it was a long two-storeyed building, with attics above, a courtyard in front, and a row of small shops or stalls extending on either side of its entrance gate. Behind came the garden, stretching northward, and decorated in the Dutch fashion with formal trees and statues. Hither, on a Saturday in January, 1712, conveyed unostentatiously in a hackney coach from Whitehall Stairs, came Eugene of Savoy, who, by desire of the Emperor Charles VI., had just crossed from the Hague in Her Majesty's 'Yatcht "Fubs"' (Captain Desborough), with the intention of preventing, if possible, what Prior calls that 'vile Utrecht Treaty.' His mission was to be fruitless from the outset, for at the Nore he was greeted with the news of Marlborough's disgrace, and his presence in England had little or no effect upon the pending proposals of peace. But for two months he was to be fêted and lionized by the nobility in a way which modest warrior and discreet diplomatist as he was--must have taxed his resources as much as a campaign in Flanders. His admirers mobbed him on all occasions. 'I could not see Prince Eugene at court to-day,'--writes Swift to Mrs. Johnson at Dublin,--'the crowd was so great. The Whigs contrive to have a crowd always about him, and employ the rabble to give the word when he sets out from any place.' Elsewhere Swift had said--'I hope and believe he comes too late to do the Whigs any good.' At first His Highness's appearance prepossessed him. He is not ill-looking, 'but well enough, and a good shape.' Later on he has revised his opinion. 'I saw Prince Eugene at court to-day very plain. He is plaguy yellow, and literally ugly besides.' A great Tory lady, Lady Strafford (wife of that haughty envoy to the Hague who declined to serve with Prior in the Utrecht negotiations) goes farther still. She calls him--her Ladyship spells far worse than Stella--a 'frittfull creature,' and adds, 'the Ladys here dont admire Prince Eugene, for he seemes to take very little notis of them,'--a sentiment in which we may perhaps detect a spice of the '_spreto injuria formho_'
Much, indeed, depends upon the point of view, political and otherwise. To Steele, with his military instincts and quick enthusiasm, the great Captain, who surprised Cremona and forced the trenches of Turin, comes surrounded with an aura of hyperbole. 'He who beholds him,' he writes in 'Spectator,' No. 340, 'will easily expect from him anything that is to be imagined or executed by the Wit or Force of Man. The Prince is of that Stature which makes a Man most easily become all Parts of Exercise; has Height to be graceful on Occasions of State and Ceremony, and no less adapted for Agility and Dispatch: His Aspect is erect and compos'd; his Eye lively and thoughtful, yet rather vigilant than sparkling: His Action and Address the most easy imaginable, and his Behaviour in an Assembly peculiarly graceful in a certain Art of mixing insensibly with the rest, and becoming one of the Company, instead of receiving the Courtship of it. The Shape of his Person, and Composure of his Limbs, are remarkably exact and beautiful.' Burnet, as staunch a Whig as Steele, writes more moderately, to the same effect. 'I had the honour to be admitted at several times, to much discourse with him; his Character is so universally known, that I will say nothing of him, but from what appeared to myself. He has a most unaffected Modesty, and does scarcely bear the Acknowledgments, that all the World pay him: He descends to an easy Equality with those, with whom he converses; and seems to assume nothing to himself, while he reasons with others: He was treated with great respect by both Parties; but he put a distinguished Respect on the Duke of _Marlborough_, with whom he passed most of his Time. * The Queen used him civilly, but not with the Distinction, that was due to his high Merit: Nor did he gain much ground with the Ministers.' **
* It was for Marlborough, no doubt, that the Prince sat to Kneller. The portrait, in which he wears the Order of the Golden Fleece over a rich coat of armour, and holds a marshal'? baton, was mezzotinted by John Simon in this very year 1712
** 'History of His Own Time,' ii. (1731), pp. 589-90.
Eugene's stay at Leicester House was brief; but it must have been fully occupied. 'Je caressais beaucoup les gens en place,' he writes in his 'Mémoires,' and it is clear that, however attentive he may have been to his fallen comrade-in-arms of Blenheim and Oudenarde, he did not omit to pay assiduous court to those in power. 'He has been every day entertain'd at some great man's,' says gossiping Peter Wentworth. Lord Portland gives him 'dinner, musick and a dancing' all at once; the Duke of Shrewsbury has Nicolini to sing for him; the Duke of Buckingham turns out the militia in his honour. And so forth. He, in his turn, was not backward in responding. 'Prince Eugene,' says Lady Strafford, 'has given an order to six ladys and six men. The ladys are the four Marlborough daughters and the Duchess of Bolton and Lady Berkely. 'Tis a medall--Cupid on won side with a sword in won hand and a fann in the othere, and the othere side is Cupid with a bottle in his hand with a sword run through it. And the motto's are in French which I dare not write to you but the English "won don't hinder the othere" ["L'un n'empêche pas l'autre"].' He had arrived in London on January 5, and he returned to Holland on March 17, carrying with him nothing but the diamond hiked sword ('very rich and genteele, and the diamonds very white,' says Lord Berkeley of Stratton), which, at a cost of £5,000, had been presented to him by Queen Anne. *
* If he received royal gifts, he was also princely in his acknowledgments. According to Hearne (Dohle, 1889, iii. 329), he paid twenty guineas for Joshua Barnes's quarto 'Homer' of 1711, and fifteen guineas for Wiston's 'Heretical Book.' he also paid thirty guineas for Samuel Clarke's edition of 'Caesar's Commentaries (Tonson, 1712),' then just published with a magnificent portrait of Marlborough, to whom it was dedicated. A large paper copy of this, sumptuously bound, fetched sixteen guineas at Dr. Mead's sale of 1754-5; but though it is praised by Addison in 'Spectator,' No. 367, as doing 'Honour to the English Press,' Eugene certainly gave too much. Probably he meant to do so. 'Je fis des présens,' he says ('Mémoires,' 1811, p. 107); 'ear'--he adds significantly--'on achète beaucoup en Angleterre.'
After this Leicester House continued to be the home of the German Resident, apparently one Hoffmann, whom Swift calls a 'puppy.' But he had also called his predecessor, Count Gallas, a 'fool,' and too much importance may easily be attached to these flowers of faction. 'Scandal between Whig and Tory goes for nothing,' said Mrs. Manley of the 'New Atalantis'--and Mrs. Manley's knowledge was experimental. About 1718, the house, being again to let, was bought for £6,000 by George Augustus, Prince of Wales, who had quarrelled with his father; and a residence of the Prince of Wales it continued for forty years to come.
This was perhaps the gayest time in its history. From the precision and decorum of St. James's, people flocked eagerly to the drawing-rooms and receptions of Leicester House, where the fiddles were always going. 'Balls, assemblies and masquerades have taken the place of dull formal visiting,' writes my Lord Chesterfield, 'and the women are more agreeable triflers than they were designed. Puns are extremely in vogue, and the license very great. The variation of three or four letters in a word breaks no squares, inasmuch, that an indifferent punster may make a very good figure in the best companies.' He himself was one of the most brilliant luminaries of that brilliant gathering, delighting the Prince and Princess by his mimicry and his caustic raillery. Another was that eccentric Duchess of Buckingham, who passed for the daughter of James II. by Catherine Sed-ley, Countess of Dorchester, and who always sat in a darkened chamber, in the deepest mourning, on the anniversary of King Charles's execution. Thus she was discovered by Lord Hervey, surrounded by servants in sables, in a room hung with black, and lighted only by wax candles. But the most attractive figures of the prince's Court are the youthful maids of honour,--charming, good-humoured Mary Bellenden, Mary Lepel (to whom a later paper of these 'Vignettes' has been devoted), * and reckless and volatile Sophia Howe. Pope and Gay wrote them verses,--these laughing ladies,--and they are often under contemporary pens.
* See 'Mary Lepel, Lady Hervey,' in 'Eighteenth Century Vignettes,' 1806, pp. 293-323.
Miss Bellenden married Colonel John Campbell, and became a happy wife; the 'beautiful Molly Lepel' paired off with John, Lord Hervey, whose pen-portrait by Pope exhausts the arts of 'conscientious malevolence,' while poor Sophia Howe fell in love, but did not marry at all, and died in 1726 of a broken heart.
When, in June, 1727, George II. passed from Leicester House to the throne of England, another Prince of Wales succeeded him,--though not immediately,--and maintained the traditions of an opposition Court. This was Frederick, Prince of Wales. Bubb Dodington, afterwards Lord Melcombe, was the Chesterfield of this new _régime_, and Miss Chudleigh and Lady Middlesex, its Bellenden and Lepel. Political intrigue alternated with gambling and theatricals. One of the _habitués_ was the dancing master Desnoyers, whom Hogarth ridiculed; and French comedians made holiday. 'The town,' says a historian of the Square, 'was at this time full of gaiety--masquerades, ridottos, Ranelagh in full swing, and the Prince a prominent figure at all, for he loved all sorts of diversion, from the gipsies at Norwood, the conjurors and fortune-tellers in the bye-streets about Leicester Fields, and the bull-baits at Hockley-in-the-Hole, to Amorevoli at the Opera, and the Faussans in the ballet. When the news came of the Duke of Cumberland having lost the battle of Fontenoy in May, 1745, the Prince was deep in preparation for a performance at Leicester House of Congreve's masque of "The Judgment of Paris," in which he played Paris. He himself wrote a French song for the part, addressed to the three rival goddesses, acted by Lady Catherine Hanmer, Lady Fauconberg, and Lady Middlesex, the _dame régnante_ of the time. It is in the high Regency vein:--=
```'Venez, mes chères Déesses,
````Venez, calmez mon chagrin;
```Aidez, mes belles Princesses,
````A le noyer dans le vin.
```Poussons cette douce ivresse
````Jusqu'an milieu de la nuit,
```Et n'écoutons que la tendresse
````D'un charmant vis-à-vis."'=
'What signifies if Europe has a tyrant more or less, So we but pray Calliope Our verse and song to bless'---proceeds this Anacreontic performance; and Walpole copies out its entire five stanzas to send to Mann at Florence. They miscarry, he says, 'in nothing but the language, the thoughts and the poetry,'--a judgment which is needlessly severe.
In March, 1751, an end came to these lighthearted junketings, when His Royal Highness quitted the scene almost precipitately from the breaking of an abscess in his side, caused by the blow of a cricket-ball at Cliveden. The Princess and her children continued to live in Leicester Fields until 1766. Meanwhile, to the accompaniment of trumpets and kettledrums, the old house witnessed the proclamation of George III., and the marriage, in its great drawing-room, of the Princess Augusta to Ferdinand, Hereditary Prinee of Brunswick, one of the most popular heroes ever huzzaed to by an English mob. After this last occurrence, the only important event connected with royalty in the Fields is the death at Savile House on 29th December, 1765, of one of the princes. 'The King's youngest brother, Prince Frederick,' writes Walpole (with one of those Gallic affectations of phrase which roused the anger of Macaulay) 'is dead, of a dropsy and consumption: he was a pretty and promising boy.'
The Savile House above referred to stood next to Leicester House on the west. Savile House, too, was not without its memories. It was here that Peter the Great had boozed with his pot companion, the Marquis of Caermarthen, who occupied it when the Czar made his famous visit to this country in 1698. More than one English home bore dirty testimony to the passage of the imperial savage and his suite, the decorous dwelling of John Evelyn in particular, at Sayes Court, Deptford, being made 'right nasty.' There is, however, no special record of any wrong to Savile House beyond the spilling, down the autocratic throat, of an 'intolerable deal of sack' and peppered brandy. In January, 1718, the house was taken by the Prince of Wales, and when, a little later, Leicester House was vacated by Lord Gower, a communication was opened between the two, the smaller being devoted to the royal children. It belonged originally to Aylesbury family, and came through them to the Saviles, one of whom was the Sir George Savile who is by some supposed to have sat for Goldsmith's Mr. Burchell. Sir George was its tenant in the riots of '80, when (as Dickens has not failed to remember in 'Barnaby Rudge') it was besieged by the rioters because he had brought in the Catholic Bill. 'Between Twelve and One O'clock Yesterday morning [June 6th]--says the 'Public Advertiser'--'a large Body [of rioters] assembled before Sir George Savile's House in Leicester Fields, and after breaking all the Windows, destroyed some of the Furniture.' They were finally dispersed by a party of the Horse Grenadier Guards, but not before they had torn up all the iron railings in front of the building, which they afterwards used effectively as weapons of offence. Burke, who had also supported the Bill, was only saved from a like fate by the exertions of sixteen soldiers who garrisoned his house in Charles Street, St. James's Square. With the later use of Savile House, as the home of Hiss Linwood's Art Needlework, which belongs to the present century, this paper has nothing to do.
Moreover, we are straying from Leicester House itself. Deserted of royalty, it passed into the hands of Mr., afterwards Sir Ashton Lever (grand uncle of Charles Lever the novelist), who transferred to it in 1771 the miscellaneous collection he had christened the 'Holophusikon'--a name which did not escape the gibes of the professional jester. His _omnium gatherum_ of natural objects and savage costumes was, nevertheless, a remarkable one, still more remarkable when regarded as the work of a single man. It filled sixteen of the rooms at Leicester House, besides overflowing on the staircases, and included, not only all the curiosities Cook had brought home from his voyages, but also a valuable assortment of bows and arrows of all countries contributed by Mr. Richard Owen Cambridge of Twickenham. *
* See 'Cambridge the Everything,' in 'Eighteenth Century Vignettes,' 3rd series, 1896, p. 1847 In an outhouse of the 'Holophusikon,' it may be added, were exhibited (stuffed) Queen Charlotte's elephant and female zebra--two favourites of royalty, which, during their lifetime, had enjoyed an exceptional, if not always enviable, notoriety.
Its possessor had been persuaded that his treasures which, in their first home at Alkrington near Manchester, had enjoyed great popularity, would be equally successful in London. The result, however, did not justify the expectation (an admittance of 5s. 3d.. per person must have been practically prohibitive), and poor Sir Ashton was ultimately 'obligated,' as Tony Lumpkin would say, to apply to Parliament for power to dispose of his show, as a whole, by lottery. He estimated his outlay at £50,000. Of 30,000 tickets issued at a guinea each, only 8,000 were taken up. The lottery was drawn in March, 1780, and the winner was a Mr. Parkinson, who transferred his prize to the Rotunda at the Southern or Surrey end of Blackfriars Bridge, changing its name to the Museum Leverianum. But it was foredoomed to misfortune, and in 1800 was dispersed under the hammer. A few years after it had crossed the river, Leicester House in turn disappeared, being pulled down in 1790. *
* A house in Lisle Street, looking down Leicester Place, still (1897) perpetuates the name, and bears on its façade in addition the words, 'New Lisle Street, mdccxci.' It is occupied by a foreign school or schools ('Ecoles de Notre Dame de France').
In 1791 Lisle Street was continued across its garden; and a little later still, Leicester Place traversed its site, running parallel to Leicester Street, which had existed long previously, being described in 1720 'as ordinarily built and inhabited, except the west side, towards the Fields, where there is a very good house.'
Leicester Place and Leicester Street,--like Leicester Fields itself,--directly preserve the memory of what Pennant aptly calls the 'pouting-place of Princes.' But there are other traces of Leicester House in the nomenclature of the neighbourhood which had grown up about it. One of the family titles survives in 'Lisle Street'; another in 'Sidney Alley.' Bear Street again recalls the Leicester crest, a bear and ragged staff, while Green Street (one side of which has been recently rebuilt), according to Wheatley and Cunningham, derives its name from the colour of the Leicester Mews, which stood to the south of the Fields. The central inclosure seems to have been first systematically laid out--though it had long been railed round--about 1737. Eleven years later arrived from Canons (Lord Burlington's seat at Edgeware) that famous equestrian statue of George I., which Londoners so well remember. At the time of its erection it was lavishly gilt, and was one of the popular sights of the Town. By some it was attributed to Buchard; by others to Van Nost of Piccadilly, then a fashionable statuary (in lead) like Cheere of Hyde Park Corner. The horse was modelled upon that by Hubert Le Sour which carries King Charles I. at Charing Cross.
Considering its prolonged patronage by royalty, Leicester Fields does not seem to have been particularly favoured by distinguished residents. Charles Dibdin, the song-writer, once lived in Leicester Place, where in 1796 (on the east side) he built a little theatre, the Sans Souci; * and Woollett, of whose velvety engravings Mr. Louis Fagan, not many years ago, prepared an exhaustive catalogue, had also his habitat in Green Street (No. 11), from the leads of which he was wont--so runs the story--to discharge a small cannon when he had successfully put the last touches to a 'Battle of La Hogue,' or a 'Death of General Wolfe.'
* Mr. Tom Taylor ('Leicester Square,' 1874, pp. 306 and 456) says that Dibdin's Theatre stood nearly on the site of 'The Feathers,' Hogarth's house of call in the Fields. But if Leicester Place did not exist until 1796, and then occupied ground occupied six years before by Leicester House, it is difficult to connect Hogarth with any tavern in Leicester Place, as Hogarth died in 1764.
Allan Ramsay (in his youth), Barry, and John Opie all once lodged in Orange Court (now Street); and here--at No. 13--was born, of a shoemaker sire and a mother who cried oysters, into a life of many changing fortunes, that strange Thomas Holcroft of the 'Road to Ruin.' In St. Martin's Street, next door to the Congregational Chapel on the east side, lived Sir Isaac Newton from 1710 until January 1725, or two years before his death at Kensington. Few traditions, however, connect the abstracted philosopher (he was nearing seventy when he came to the Fields) with the locality, beyond his visits to Princess Caroline at the great house opposite. *
* A so-ealled Observatory on the roof, now non-existent, was for many years exhibited at Newton's. Recent authorities, however, contend that this was the fabrication of a later tenant. But it should be noted that Madame D'Arblay, who also lived in the house, and wrote novels in the room in question, seems to have had no doubts of the kind. She says ('Memoirs of Dr. Burney,' 1832, i. 290-1) that her father not only reverently repaired the Observatory when he entered upon his tenancy of No. 35 [in 1774], but went to the expense of practically reconstructing it when it was all but destroyed by the hurricane of 1778.
But there was one member of his household, a few years later, who must certainly have added to the attractions of the ordinary two-storeyed building where he superintended the revision of the second and third editions of the 'Prineipia.' This was his kinswoman,--the 'jolie niece' of Voltaire,--the 'famous witty Miss Barton' of the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' At this date she was 'Superintendant of his domestick Affairs' to Charles, Earl of Halifax, who, dying in 1715, left her £5,000 and a house, 'as a Token'--so runs the bequest--'of the sincere Love, Affection, and Esteem I have long had for her Person, and as a small Recompence for the Pleasure and Happiness I have had in her Conversation.' This, taken in connection with the fact that, since 1706, she had been in receipt of an annuity of £200 a year, purchased in her uncle's name, but for which Halifax was trustee, has led to the conclusion that the relation between the pair was something closer than friendship, and that, following other contemporary precedents, they were privately married. * Be this as it may, Catherine Barton is also interesting as one of the group of gifted women to whom Swift extended the privilege of that half-patronising, half-playful, and wholly unconventional intimacy which is at once the attraction and the enigma of his relations with the other sex.
* See 'Newton: his Friend: and his Niece,' 1885, by Professor Augustus de Morgan, which labours, with much digression, but with infinite ingenuity and erudition, to establish this satisfactory solution of a problem in which the good fame of Newton cannot be regarded as entirely unconcerned.
He met her often in London, though not as often as he wished. 'I love her better than any-one here,' he tells Stella in April, 1711, 'and see her seldomer.' He dines with her 'alone at her lodgings'; he goes with her to other houses; and, Tory though he has become, endures her vivacious Whiggery.
When, at Halifax's death, Catherine Barton, in all probability, returned to her uncle's house, Swift had already gone back to Ireland, and there is no reason for supposing that, although he had lodgings 'in Leicester Fields' in 1711, he ever visited his friend in St. Martin's Street. In August, 1717, Mrs. Barton married John Conduitt, M.P., Xewton's successor as Master of the Mint, and when in town continued to reside with her husband under Newton's roof. And though Halifax was dead, and Swift in exile, and Prior 'in the messenger's hand,' there can be little doubt that during her brief widowhood (?) and second wifehood, those friends who had clustered about the former toast of the Kit Cats must still have continued to visit her. The chairs of Lady Worsley and Lady Betty Germaine must often have waited in the narrow entrance to St. Martin's Street, while the ladies 'disputed Whig and Tory' with Mrs. Conduitt, or were interrupted in their _tête-à-tête_ by Gay and his Duchess. After Sir Isaac--a long while after--the most notable tenant of the old house was Dr. Charles Burney, author of the 'History of Music,' and of Fanny Burney. Indeed, it was in this very building--with the unassuming little chapel on its right where 'Rainy Day' Smith had often heard Toplady preach--that a mere girl in her teens--no, ungallant Mr. Croker discovered her to have been actually a young woman of five-and-twenty--wrote that 'Evelina' which, in 1778, took the Town by storm. There were panelled rooms and a painted ceiling in the Newton-Burney house of yore, but it could scarcely be here that the little person whom in her graver moments Mrs. Piozzi nicknamed the 'Lady Louisa of Leicester Square' danced round an unmetaphoric mulberry tree with delight at her success in letters, for there are no traces of a garden. At present, in this quiet backwater of street traffic, where Burke and Johnson and Franklin and Reynolds all came formerly to visit their favourite authoress, nothing is discoverable but a dingy tenement with dusty upper windows, with a ground floor that is used as a day school, and a front of stucco'd red brick upon which the blue tablet of the Society of Arts has something of the forlorn effect of an order of merit upon a shoeblack.
Turning out of St. Martin's Street on the north another tablet is discernible in the angle of the Fields to the right upon the comparatively modern red brick _façade_ of another school, known as Archbishop Tenison's. Here, at one of the many signs of the 'Golden Head,' lived William Hogarth. * The golden head in his case was rudely carved by himself out of pieces of cork glued together, and represented Van Dyck. To this, says Nichols, succeeded a head in plaster; and this again, when Nichols wrote in 1782, had been replaced by a bust of Newton. About the interior of the house very little seems to be known, but, as it was rated to the poor in 1756 at £60, it must have been fairly roomy. In the later days, when it formed part of the Sablonière Hotel, before the hotel made way for the existing school, there were traditions of a studio, probably far less authentic than those of Sir Isaac's ob* There was even another, in Hogarth's day, in the Fields itself. 'At the Golden Head.' on the south side (Hogarth's was on the east), lived Edward Fisher, the mezzotint engraver, to whom we owe so many brilliant plates after Reynolds.
Not many years after Hogarth first took the house, the square was laid out (it had long been railed in), and he is said to have been often seen walking in the inclosure, wrapped in his red roquelaure, with his hat cocked on one side like Frederick the Great. His stables, when he set up the fine coach which Charles Catton decorated for him with the famous Cyprian crest that figures at the bottom of 'The Bathos,' were in Nag's Head Yard, Orange Street. He had--as we know--a country box at Chiswick; but he was at home in Leicester Fields. His friends were about him. Kind old Captain Coram had lodgings somewhere in the neighbourhood; Pine, the 'Friar Pine' of 'Calais Gate,' lived in St. Martin's Lane; beyond that, in Covent Garden and its vicinity, were George Lambert the scene painter, Saunders Welch the magistrate, Richard Wilson, Fielding, and a host of intimates. It was in Leicester Fields that Hogarth died. He had been driven there from Chiswick on the 25th October, 1764, cheerful, but very weak. 'Receiving an agreeable letter from the _American Dr. Franklin_,' says Nichols, [he] 'drew up a rough draught of an answer to it; but going to bed, he was seized with a vomiting, upon which he rung his bell with such violence that he broke it, and expired about two hours afterwards in the arms of Mrs. Mary Lewis, who was called up on his being taken suddenly ill. He is buried in Chiswick churchyard, where some years subsequently a monument was erected to his memory, with a well-known epitaph by Garrick. After Hogarth's death his widow continued to keep up the 'Golden Head,' and Mary Lewis sold his prints there. Richard Livesay, the engraver, was one of Widow Hogarth's lodgers, and the Scotch painter, Alexander Runciman, was another. If the house had any further notable occupants, they may be forgotten.
Mrs. Hogarth herself died in 1789. Six years before her death she had a next-door neighbour in the Fields, who, in his way, was as illustrious as Hogarth or Reynolds. This was John Hunter, who, in 1783, became the tenant of No. 28, * and at once began extending it backward towards Castle Street (now the Charing Cross Road) to receive his famous museum of Comparative and Pathological Anatomy.
* At present (1897) being rebuilt by the Alhambra Company as part of their premises.
Hogarth had then been dead for nearly twenty years; and it is unlikely that the painter knew much of the young surgeon who was subsequently to become so celebrated; but he was probably acquainted with his brother, William Hunter of Covent Garden, who attended Fielding in 1754. William Hunter had just died when John Hunter came to Leicester Fields. He lived there ten years in the height of his activity and fame, and it was during this period that Reynolds painted that portrait of him in a reverie (now in the Council Room of the College of Surgeons), which was engraved by William Sharp. He survived Sir Joshua but one year.
The house of Reynolds was at the opposite side of the Square, at No. 47, now Puttick and Simpson's auction rooms. He occupied it from 1760 to 1792. We are accustomed to think of Hogarth and Reynolds as contemporaries. But Reynolds was in the pride of his prime when he came to Leicester Fields, while Hogarth was an old and broken man, whose greatest work was done. Apart from this, there could never have been much real sympathy between them. Hogarth, whose own efforts as a portrait-painter were little appreciated in his life time, must have chafed at the carriages which blocked up the doorway of his more fortunate brother; while Reynolds, courtly and amiable as he was, capable of indulgence even to such a caricaturist as Bunbury, could find for his illustrious neighbour, when he came to deliver his famous Fourteenth Discourse, no warmer praise than that of 'successful attention to the ridicule of life.' These things, alas! are the commonplaces of literature and art. It is pleasanter to think of No. 47 filled with those well-known figures of whom we read in Boswell and Madame D'Arblay;--with Burke and Johnson and Goldsmith and Gibbon and Garrick;--with graceful Angelica, and majestic Siddons, and azure-stockinged Montagu;--with pretty Nelly O'Brien and charming Fanny Abington;--with all the crowd of distinguished soldiers, sailors, lawyers and literati who by turns filled the sitter's chair * in the octagonal painting-room, or were ushered out and in by the silver-laced footmen.
* This, with the carved easel given to him by Gray's friend Mason, is preserved at the Royal Academy. His palette is said to be in the possession of Messrs. Roberson and Co., of 99, Long Acre.
Then there were those wonderful disorderly dinners, where the guests were so good and the feast so indifferent; where there were always wit and learning, and seldom enough of knives and forks; where it was an honour to have talked and listened, and no one remembered to have dined. Last comes that pathetic picture of Sir Joshua, when his sight had failed him, wandering sadly in the inclosure with his green shade over his eyes, and peering wistfully and vainly for the lost canary which had been wont to perch upon his finger.
When Reynolds died, Burke wrote his eulogy in the very house where his body lay. The manuscript (which still exists) was blotted with its writer's tears. Those royal periods in which the great orator spoke of his lost friend are too familiar to quote. But after Sir Joshua, the interest seems to fade out of the Fields, and one willingly draws one's pen through the few remaining names that are written in its chronicles.
Note 1, p. 91.--A house called Fordhook. This description is, alas! no longer accurate; and the spot from which Fielding set out for Lisbon in June, 1754, is now covered by 'commodious villas.'
Note 2, p. 139.--A writer of comedy with the pencil. This happy characterization was first used by Arthur Murphy in the Gray's Inn Journal for 9th February, 1754.
Note 3, p. 141.--The original No. 17 of the 'North Briton.' Since the above was written, my faith in this relic has been rudely shaken. In looking over a collection of Hogarthiana, temporarily at the British Museum, I came upon another copy of the paper also purporting to be the 'identical' No. 17, etc. Which is the real Simon Pure? Mr. Standly's copy (his Catalogue says at p. 84) was given by Mrs. Hogarth to [Samuel] Ireland. But this second copy I saw, also emanated from that not wholly unimpeachable source. Collectors will please sympathise.
Note 4, p. 211.--Bronze statue of King James the Second. This statue, first placed in Whitehall Gardens on the 31st December, 1686 (Bramston's Autobiography, 1845, p. 253), was transferred in 1897 to an inclosure at the side of Gwydyr House. The present writer well remembers its forlorn departure, prone on a trolly, with one leg stiffly extended. It has again been moved; and now stands at the back of the Admiralty, where it will doubtless give rise to fresh traditions as to the site of the execution of Charles I.
Note d, p. 219.--Ink-bottles... dangling from their button-holes. Flaxman, when he lived in Poland Street, used, in his capacity of parish officer, to collect the watch rates. On these occasions he always wore an ink-bottle at his buttonhole. Johnson also bustled about thus accoutred at the sale of Thrale's brewery (Birkbeck Hill's Boswell, 1887, iv. 87).
Note G, p. 324.--Hogarth's... gold ticket. This is now in the possession of Mr. Fairfax Murray, who bought it at the Forman sale. But recent authorities doubt if the design was Hogarth's own.
Note 7, p. 349.--Her Majesty's 'Yatcht' 'Fubs.' This absurd name, according to a writer in _Notes and Queries_ for 6th October, 1883, had been given to Queen Anne's royal yacht by Charles II., in honour of 'Madam Carwell,' who was 'fubsy' or plump.
Note 8, p. 372.--Danced round an unmetaphoric mulberry tree. Miss Burney's historic performance took place, as a matter of fact, at Chessington, the Surrey hermitage of her friend and critic, 'Daddy' Crisp. It was the uncontrollable outcome of her exhilaration at the praise which, she was informed, Dr. Johnson had bestowed upon her first novel, Evelina. 'It gave me such a flight of spirits, that I danced a jig to Mr. Crisp, without any preparation, music, or explanation--to his no small amazement and diversion (Diary, etc., of Madame D'Arblay, 1904-5, i. 49).