The Project Gutenberg eBook of Springtime and Other Essays

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Title: Springtime and Other Essays

Author: Sir Francis Darwin

Release date: September 7, 2010 [eBook #33668]

Language: English

Credits: This ebook was transcribed by Les Bowler


This ebook was transcribed by Les Bowler.









p. iiAll rights reserved






Some Names of Characters in Fiction


Thomas Hearne, 1678–1735




Old Instruments of Music


The Traditional Names of English Plants


Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker


A Great Hospital


Sir George Airy


Sydney Smith


Charles Dickens


A Procession of Flowers




To face page

Psaltery and Dulcimer (By kind permission of Messrs Cornish)


Mandore, Pandurina, Lute, Theorboe, Archlute, and Guitar


The Crwth


The Tromba Marina


Viola d’Amore, Cither Viol, and Hurdy-gurdy or Organistrum




Pibcorn or Horn-pipe


Cornetts, Serpent, Bass Horn, Ophicleide, and Keyed Bugle


The above illustrations are all taken fromOld English Instruments of Music,” by the kind permission of Canon Galpin.

p. viTO
F. C. C.


“Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year.”

Autolycus’ Song.

Governesses used to tell us that the seasons of the year each consist of three months, and of these March, April, and May make the springtime.  I should like to break the symmetry, and give February to spring, which would then include February, March, April, and May.  It has been said that winter is but autumn “shyly shaking hands with spring.”  We will, accordingly, make winter a short link of two months—an autumnal and a vernal hand—December and January.  It is a little sad for autumn to have to make room for chill November alongside of the happier months of September and October.  But autumn is a season of decadence and cannot justly complain.

The autumnal flowers, which may be allowed to figure as a prelude to spring, are few in number.  My favourite is lady’s tresses (Spiranthes), so called from the spiral twist in its inflorescence, which suggests braided hair.  Gentiana amarella I should like to include, but its flowering-time is from 12th August to 8th September, and summer has the p. 2stronger claim on it.  Other autumnal flowers are laurustinus and ivy.  If we go by the mean date nothing flowers in October or November, and in December only the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) is recorded by Blomefield.

But the autumn months have a glory of their own which may vie with the brightest hues of flowers.  This great and beautiful panorama begins with the yellowing of the lime-leaves, which may occur as early as 17th August, but on the average is seen on 14th September.  It is followed towards the end of September by a brown tint, showing itself in the leaves of the horse-chestnut.  It is appropriate that these two species, which are not indigenous, [2] should be the first to fade into glory.  But I must not insist on the point, for we see wych-elm leaves fall 24th September, while the date for the common elm is 28th October; and the elm is a foreigner compared to the wych-elm, and retains a mark of its alien origin in not setting seeds.

The syringa (Philadelphus) is another foreigner, which early shows autumnal tints—yellowing on 27th September.  Then follow some native trees: the beech and birch both turning yellow on 1st October, and being followed by the maple on 7th October.  I like the motherliness of the half-grown beech, who refuses to drop her dead leaves in autumn, hoping (as I imagine) that they will shelter her tender leaves in the chilly springtime.  The older beeches give up this anxious care, and p. 3doubtless laugh among themselves over the fussiness of young mothers.  They forget, no doubt, that in the scrub at the feet of their own boles the habit persists.

With regard to the fall of leaves, the sycamore begins to lose them 2nd October; birch and cherry, 8th October; maple and walnut, 12th October; aspen, 13th October; beech and elder, 13th October; ash, 14th October; Lombardy poplar and Virginian creeper, 18th October; honeysuckle, 22nd October; hazel, 26th October; elm, 28th October; whitethorn, 30th October; plane, 3rd November.  Judging by a single observation of Blomefield, the larch is the last performer in the drama of autumn.  It turns yellow on 8th November, and its leaves fall 15th November.

Blomefield [3] records that on 29th November the trees are “everywhere stript of leaves,” so that some sort of colour-drama has been in progress from the middle of September to the end of November.  It may be objected that what has been said of autumn is but a catalogue of names and dates.  And this is true enough; but when we realise the glory of autumnal decadence, it seems (however baldly recounted) to be a fitting prelude to the great outbreak of new life—green leaves and bright flowers that spring gives us.

In Blomefield’s “Calendar” the difference between December and January is exaggerated.  For, as it stands, it suggests that plants know that a new year has begun, and all burst into flower p. 4on 1st January.  But that careful naturalist points out [4a] “all those phenomena which are referred to 1st January, as the earliest date, may be considered as occasionally showing themselves in December of the previous year.”

The plants that bloom in winter, i.e. December and January, are few enough.  The Christmas rose gives us its white or pink flowers in December, and the primrose may flower in the first days of January—indeed, I seem to remember it in Kent before Christmas, but I will not answer for it.  According to Blomefield, the honour of being the first plant to awake must be given to the honeysuckle (Lonicera caprifolium), which unfolds its leaves between 1st January and 22nd February, i.e. on 21st January on the average.  This bold behaviour is all the more to its credit since it is said by Hooker [4b] to be a naturalised plant.

Then follow in order the flowers of furze, hazel, winter aconite (Eranthis), hellebore (H. fœtidus), daisy, and snowdrop; so that the winter flowers make a most pleasant show, and tempt us to raise January to the rank of the first month of springtime—but we must allow the credit to be justly due to winter.  In winter, too, we must be grateful to the ivy of the bare hedgerows shining in the sun, its leaves glistening like the simple jewels of a savage.

With February, we are agreed that spring comes in, but it is a springtime that keeps something of p. 5the graveness of winter: though, when the silver sunshine begins to be decorated with the singing of birds, we must call it spring.

In February, too, the roads are no longer edged with dead white grass, but show the fresh green of wayside plants—cow-weed, nettle, dock, and cleavers.

The trees still stand naked, their leaf-buds waiting for a better season.  I like to think of wintering plants not as being asleep, but rather as silent.  They sing with all their green tongues when spring releases them from the cupboards (which we call buds) where she has kept them safe.

The service-tree is a hardy creature, for its buds are naked and unprotected, like Pampas Indians who are proud of sleeping uncovered, and of seeing, as they rise, their forms outlined in the hoar-frost.  I have only recently noticed the purple tint of alder-buds; [5] and I am reminded of the character in Cranford, who needs Tennyson’s words “Black as ash-buds in March” to teach him the fact.  Some trees show their flowers early.  For instance, the hanging tassels of the hazel, from which the dusty pollen can be shaken out, and the tiny red tufts which are all the female flower has to show.  The alder, too, has a brave crowd of lambs’ tails.  The elm should flower about the middle of March, and its pink stamens make a pleasant sight.  These plants are called anemophilous—that is, wind-loving, as though grateful to the wind for carrying their p. 6pollen without payment.  I can imagine that the plants employing insects to carry pollen from one to another feel superior to the wind-fertilised clan.  We may fancy the duckweed (speaking of the pine) to say: “Of course, he is very big and of an ancient family, but for that very reason he is primitive in his habits.  I know he boasts that he employs the winds of heaven as marriage priests, but we are served by the animal kingdom in our unions—and that, you must allow, is something to be proud of.” [6]  But duckweeds grow so crowded together that they are probably fertilised, to a great extent, by contact with their neighbours, without aid from the animal kingdom.  We may also imagine the duckweed reproving the pine for his extravagance in the matter of pollen production.  This, however, is necessary, because the pollen being sown broadcast by the wind, it is a matter of chance whether or not a grain reaches the stigma of its own species, and the chance of its doing so is clearly increased by multiplying the number of pollen-grains produced.  Enormous quantities of the precious dust are wasted by this prodigality.  We read of pollen swept from the decks of ships, or coating with a yellow scum lakes hidden among Tyrolean pinewoods.  Pollen is so largely dispersed in the air that it has been supposed to be a cause of hay-fever.

Blackley found, by means of a sticky plate, which p. 7could be exposed and covered again, when raised high in the air on a kite, that pollen is dispersed to considerable altitudes.  Wherever vegetable débris collects, pollen-grains may be found.  Kerner found them, together with wind-borne seeds and scales of butterflies’ wings, sticking to the ice in remote Alpine glaciers.

Another characteristic of wind-borne pollen is dryness or dustiness; the grains are smooth, not sculptured like the pollen meant to be carried by insects; nor are they sticky or oily, as is often the case with entomophilous pollen.  The advantage to the plan is obvious; the grains, from the absence of the burr-like quality, or of any other kind of adhesiveness, do not tend to hold together in clumps, but separate easily from one another, and float all the more easily. [7]

Several adaptations are found to favour the dispersal of the pollen.  Wind-fertilised plants are generally tall; thus in Europe, at least, the commonest representatives of the class are shrubs or trees—witness the fir-trees, yew, juniper, oak, hazel, birch.  And where the plants are lowly—e.g., grasses and sedges, and the plantains—the flowers are more or less raised up on the haulm.  An exception must be made of some water-plants—e.g., the Potamogetons, where the flower-stalk is but slightly raised above the surface.

Wind-fertilised plants have many characteristics which favour the dispersal of the pollen.  The grasses p. 8have long pendent stamens, and versatile anthers, from which the pollen is easily shaken out by the wind.  There are, of course, exceptions to these generalisations.  Such plants as Hippuris and Salicornia have no particular adaptations: the filaments are short, and the plants themselves are not of sufficient height to be able to scatter forth their pollen efficiently by the mere bending of their stems.  The need for exposure to the wind is shown in another way—namely, by the habit of the Cupuliferæ (oak, hazel, etc.), of flowering before the leaves appear; this not only favours the start of the pollen on its flight, but is probably still more useful in increasing its chance of reaching the stigma.

If the pollen is exposed to the wind it will be liable to be wetted and injured.  Catkins—such as those of the walnut or hazel—give some protection to the pollen, since the stamens are covered in by tile-like scales; but where—as in the grasses and plantains—the anthers hang far out of the flowers, the pollen is easily injured.  Some of the cereals protect themselves against injury by means of a remarkably rapid growth of the filaments; thus the anthers remain hidden within the flowers until the last moment, and, under the influence of a warm sunny morning, rapidly protrude themselves.  If the scales of the flower are artificially separated, the growth can be produced by warmth and moisture; Askenasy describes a trick of country children, who put ears of rye in their mouths and thus produce a miraculous growth of stamens.  The growth or rapid turgescence takes place, according to the same p. 9writer, at the pace of one millimetre in three minutes.

The explosive male flowers of the nettle have a somewhat similar meaning.  The young stamen is bent so that the upper end of the anther touches the base of the filament.  On the inner concave side of the stamen are large cells, whose turgescence tends to unfold the filament: I do not know by what means the unfolding is prevented, but whatever the cause may be, it is at last overcome and the stamen uncurls with a jerk, and scatters forth the pollen.  Here, as in the rye, the pollen is protected until the actual moment when it starts on its voyage through the air.

Another of the Nettle tribe, Pilea serpyllifolia—a plant often cultivated in our greenhouses—is also explosive, and its little puffs of smoke-like pollen have gained for it the popular name of the artillery plant.  Its power of explosion must be of value to it as counterbalancing the disadvantage, to a wind-fertilised plant, of such a lowly habit.

The adaptations found in the female organs are chiefly such as increase the surface capable of receiving the pollen, and therefore increase the chance of fertilisation.  A big stigmatic surface is common: not only is the receptive part of the style large, but it usually bears very large stigmatic papillæ, which gives a velvety hoary look to this type of stigma.  In the grasses the three divisions of the stigma are always more or less conspicuous; and reach a climax, in this respect, in the huge beard-like tangle of the maize.

p. 10Some of the most interesting cases of wind fertilisation are those in which an isolated instance occurs in a Natural Order otherwise served by insects.  Thus in the Rosaceæ, Poterium sanguisorba is wind fertilised, and has long pendent stamens, and a tufted stigma; while the closely allied Sanguisorba officinalis, although it secretes nectar (and this can only mean that it hopes to attract insects), retains the tufted stigma of its anemophilous relatives.

In the case of the Kerguelen cabbage (Pringlea antiscorbutica), the cause of its degeneration seems to be the want of winged insects on the wind-blown shores on which it grows.  It has acquired some anemophilous characters—e.g., increased stigmatic surface and exserted anthers.  Its flowers are inconspicuous like those of wind-fertilised plants in general, and it seems in fair way to lose its petals altogether—many flowers only retaining a single one.  The entomophilous ancestry of Pringlea is clearly shown by the occasional remnants of coloured markings in the petals, like those which in other flowers serve as finger-posts to visiting-insects, and are called nectar-guides.

But these are digressions—sidepaths of tempting detail which have lured me from the straight highway.  However, they have brought me back to the main road.

In Blomefield’s Observations in Natural History (p. 332), he points out that “however much the seasons may differ in different years, the phenomena generally follow one another in the same order.  And it follows that those which occur together any p. 11one year, will occur at or nearly [at] the same time every other.”  This indeed is what we might expect, from the circumstances of any interruption in the time of their occurrence, due to seasonal influence, necessarily affecting them all equally.  One of the examples by which he supports his view is the parallel behaviour of the ground-ivy (Nepeta Glechoma) and the box-tree, whose flowers appear simultaneously on 3rd April, as an average date; while in a certain backward year they flowered later, but still close together—namely, 20th April and 19th April.  There is to me an especial charm in these duets.  Thus I like to imagine that the larch is waiting to put on its new green clothes till it hears the black-cap.  Or is it that the larch rules the orchestra, and with his green baton signals to the songster to strike into the symphony? [11]

Shakespeare is right to make the daffodil come before the swallow dares, since according to Blomefield the average of seventeen annual observations gives 12th March for the daffodil’s flowering-day, and the swallow does not appear till 9th April at the earliest.  Browning, too, is scientifically safe in letting his chaffinch sing now “that the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf.”  Indeed, the most dilatory chaffinch must have been singing since 19th February, and in fortunate seasons might have been heard on 7th January.  A floral calendar may be useful as an interpreter in antiquarian problems.  Thus p. 12Blomefield [12a] says that “the flos-cuculi, or cuckoo-flower of the older botanists, was so called from its opening its flowers about the time of the cuckoo’s commencing his call.”  The botanist referred to may have been Gerarde, and the flower seems to be Cardamine pratensis, known as lady’s smock, also as the cuckoo-flower.  Now the cuckoo begins his song (as the average of Blomefield’s seventeen years’ observation near Cambridge) on 29th April, [12b] and lady’s smock blossoms 19th April. [12c]  The coincidence is but moderate, but it is cheering to find in Gilbert White’s Calendar, with its earlier South Country dates, that the events occur together: lady’s smock, 6th to 20th April; cuckoo, 7th to 26th April.

Wood-sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) was known as cuckoo-sorrel by the Saxons.  In Stillingfleet’s Calendar of Flora (1755), it is said to flower on 16th April, and the cuckoo to begin his song on 17th April.  It is pleasant to find, in a Swedish calendar of flora, that the cuckoo sings on 12th May, and the wood-sorrel flowers on 13th May.  Lychnis flos-cuculi, the ragged robin, flowers on 19th May, and seems to have no kind of right to the name of a cuckoo-flower, though Gerarde remarks that it “flowers in April and May, when the cuckoo doth begin to sing her pleasant notes without stammering.” [12d]

p. 13I remember being told by a physician that a celebrated Polish violinist in his old age could not bear the sound of concerted music, but he would weep over a musical score of which he said, “These beggars don’t play out of tune.”  This is also true of the great symphony of colour which the springtime unfolds.  The trees are double-basses, and doubtless some are contra-fagotti, though I confess that I cannot speak positively on this point.  Then come a mass of beautiful shrub-like plants which make up the rest of the string-band.  As one who loves wind-instruments, I like to think that the flutes, oboes, and clarinets are the flowers of my vernal orchestra, decorating the great mass of stringed instruments with streaks and flames of colour.

In real music, we cannot say why certain sounds make an appropriate opening for a symphony; nor can we understand why the chorus of flowers should (as above pointed out) be led by mezereon (Daphne mezereum), followed by furze, hazel, the daisy, and the snowdrop.

Of course, their dates are not rigorously fixed: the plants just referred to vary in their dates of flowering in the following way:

Mezereon, 11th January to 2nd February;

Furze, 1st January to 4th April;

Hazel, 1st January to 20th February;

Snowdrop, 18th January to 16th February;

the mean dates being: mezereon, 22nd January; furze, 24th January; hazel, 26th January; snowdrop, 30th January.  One cause of variation in the date p. 14of flowering is temperature, and in the early months of the year this is probably the principal cause.  Temperature must in the same way affect the flowering of summer plants, though the result is not so striking as in the springtime.  In my article “A Procession of Flowers” (in this volume) I have given the range of the dates of flowering for different months.

The spring is the happiest season for those who love plants, who delight to watch and record the advent of old friends as the great procession of green leaves and beautiful flowers unwinds itself with a glory which no familiarity can tarnish.

I cannot resist giving the names of some of the flowers that make this familiar show that February and March give us.  Field-speedwell (Veronica agrestis), butcher’s broom, Pyrus japonica, primrose, red dead-nettle, crocus, dandelion, periwinkle, celandine, marsh-marigold, sweet violet, ivy-leaved veronica, daffodil, white dead-nettle, colt’s-foot (Tussilago farfara), dog’s mercury, buttercup (Ranunculus repens), hyacinth, almond-tree, gooseberry, wood-sorrel, ground-ivy, wall-flower.  The order in which they occur is taken from the mean dates of flowering given by Blomefield.  To a lover of plants, this commonplace list will, I hope, be what a score is to a musician, and will recall to him some of the charm of the orchestra of living beauty that springtime awakens.


To some readers the personality of the characters in fiction is everything, and the names under which they appear of no importance.  This is doubtless a rational position, but to me, and I think to many other novel-readers, the names which our imaginary friends and enemies bear is a matter of the greatest interest.  To us it seems unbearable to have a Mr B. as a principal character, and the same objection applies to the names of places—“the little town of C. near the cathedral town of D.” is too depressing.  Trollope, who does not rank high as a name-artist, entirely satisfies us with his Barchester and its Bishop Proudie and Archdeacon Grantley.  George Eliot, too, has been able in the case of Stonyshire and Loamshire to give convincing names to counties, and never offends in the names of her characters, though they have no especial attractiveness.

In some cases it is hard to say whether or no a given name is appropriate.  In Jane Austen’s books, for instance, we have grown up in familiarity with the characters and we cannot associate them with others.  It would be unbearable to have Emma’s p. 16lover called Mr William Larkins and his servant George Knightley.  And this is not merely the result of old acquaintance; there is, I cannot doubt, a real dignity in one name and a touch of comedy in the other.  For this statement one can but rely on instinct, but a real William Larkins (and I must apologise to him if he exists) will doubtless take a different view of the matter.

But Jane Austen, like George Eliot, makes no pretence to be an artist in nomenclature.  She merely aims, I imagine, at names which, without being colourless, are free from meaning and in every way possible.

Thackeray is the outstanding instance of a novelist who makes a fine-art of nomenclature.  With him there is an obvious delight in coining names.  Thus there would be no harm in Clive Newcome going to Windsor and Newton’s shop to buy paint brushes, but Thackeray sends him to Messrs Soap and Isaac—a parody of that highly respectable firm which always pleases me.

I have with some little labour made a rough index of Vanity Fair, and I find in the second volume (which is probably a fair sample of the names in the whole book) that there are 247 names.  The author evidently takes a delight in their invention.  For instance, at one of Becky’s great dinner parties (vol. ii., p. 172), the eminent guests who come in after dinner are principally cheeses [16]—Duchess (Dowager) of Stilton, Duc de la Gruyère, Marchioness of Cheshire, Marchese Alessandro Strachino, Comte p. 17de la Brie, Baron Schapzuger.  The list also contains the name of Chevalier Tosti, who, I take it, is toasted cheese.

The titles he gives to business firms are not always complimentary.  For instance, we have (vol. ii., p. 283) the case of poor Mr Scape, who was ruined by entering the great Calcutta house of Fogle, [17a] Fake and Cracksman.  Both Fogle and Fake had left the firm with large fortunes, “and Sir Horace Fogle is about to be raised to the peerage as Baron Bandanna.”

A similar type of name is the title of Becky’s solicitors, Messrs Burke, Thurtell and Hayes, [17b] who forced the Insurance Company to pay the amount for which poor Jos Sedley’s life had been insured (vol. ii., p. 391).  It is interesting to find (vol. ii., p. 341) that the author introduces himself in the person of Mr Frederick Pigeon, who “lost eight p. 18hundred pounds to Major Loder and the Honourable Mr Deuceace.”  This may remind us of Thackeray’s own loss of £1500 in a similar way (Dict. of Nat. Biog.).  In some instances the author evidently could not take the trouble to coin effective names, as for instance in his reference to the firm of Jones, Brown and Robinson [18] (vol. ii., p. 130).  A member of this firm became 1st Baron Helverlyn, when he altered his name to Johnes.  His unfortunate daughter became the wife of Lord Gaunt.  The subsidiary titles of this nobleman are pleasant—Viscount Hellborough, Baron Pitchley and Grillsby.

Other firms are represented as purely Jewish, e.g., Mr Lewis representing Mr Davids, and Mr Moss acting for Mr Manasseh, who complimented Becky “upon the brilliant way in which she did business” when she was making arrangements for Rawdon’s debts (vol. ii., p. 10).

There are many good names of shady people, e.g., Lady Crackenbury (vol. ii., p. 140), whom Becky cut, and Mrs Washington White, to whom she “gave the go-by in the Ring”; Mrs Chippenham (p. 160) and Mme de la Cruchecassée are of the same type.  There is also Lady Slingstone, who said that Lord Steyne was “really too bad,” but she went to his party.

Among the virtuous folks, I am particularly fond of Sir Lapin Warren (vol. i., p. 207), whose lady was about to present him with a thirteenth child.  A variant occurs in vol. ii., p. 286, where we read of p. 19“thirteen sisters, daughters of a country curate, the Rev. Felix Rabbits.”

One might quote names for ever, but I must be satisfied with but a few more.

Among the professionally religious folks we have Rev. Lawrence Grills.  Among the fashionables Lady FitzWillis of the Kingstreet family; Major-General and Lady Grizzel Macbeth (she had been Lady G. Glowry, daughter of Lord Grey of Glowry [19]); and Mrs Hook Eagles, who patronised Becky.

Names that seem to me bad are Fitzoof, Lord Heehaw’s son, Mrs Mantrap, and Lord Claude Lollypop.  But there are innumerable other good ones: Macmurdo, who was to have been Rawdon’s second in a duel with Lord Steyne; Captain Papillon of the Guards, attending the young wife of old Methuselah (a bad name); young May and his bride, “Mrs Winter that was, and who had been at school with May’s grandmother.”

Viscount Paddington was a guest at Becky’s “select party” in May Fair.  Finally, the Earl of Portansherry and the Prince of the house of Potztausand-Donnerwetter are good although obvious.

In Pendennis are many good names.  Major Pendennis was proud of having made up the quarrel between Lady Clapperton and her daughter Lady Claudia.  Lady John Turnbull, who spoke such bad French.  Mr Kewsy, the barrister.  Mr Sibwright, the luxurious young man in whose vacant chamber Laura Bell slept during Pendennis’ illness.  The best of all p. 20names must be given in Morgan’s own words, “Lord de la Pole, sir, gave him [a valet] to his nephew young Lord Cubley, and he have been with him on his foring tour, and not wishing to go to Fitzurse Castle, etc., etc.”

I must reluctantly leave Thackeray and consider a very different maker of names, namely Dickens.  It is sometimes said that his names are not invented but discovered by research.  In my son Bernard’s A Dickens Pilgrimage (Times Series, 1914), he writes, p. 22: “Other people have been before us in seeing that Mr Jasper keeps a shop in the High Street of Rochester,” and that “Dorretts and Pordages are buried under the shadow of the cathedral.”  He claims as his own the discovery that in the churchyard of Chalk (near Rochester) there are “three tombstones standing almost next door to one another and bearing a trinity of immortal names, Twist, Flight, and Guppy.”  He adds that “the lady in Bleak House spelt her name Flite.”  I fail to believe that anybody was ever called Pumblechook, and there are others equally impossible.  But the great name of Pickwick is not an invention.  Mr Percy Fitzgerald [20] gives plenty of evidence on this point, in a discussion suggested by the sacred name being inscribed on the Bath coach, to Sam Weller’s indignation.  There was, for instance, a Mr William Pickwick of Bath, who died in 1795.  Again, in 1807, the driver of “Mr Pickwick’s coach . . . was taken suddenly and very alarmingly ill on Slanderwick Common.”  One member of the family “entered the army, and for some reason changed his name p. 21to Sainsbury.”  The object, as Mr Fitzgerald points out, is obvious enough.  Mr Fitzgerald mentions (p. 16) the curious fact that Mr Dickens (the son of the author) once had to announce that he meant to call Mr Pickwick as a witness in a case he was conducting.  The Judge made the characteristic remark, “Pickwick is a very appropriate character to be called by Dickens.”

With regard to the name Winkle, I cannot agree with Mr Fitzgerald [21] that Dickens took it from Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle.

Among the few names taken from real people is that of Mr Justice Stareleigh, who is generally believed to be Mr Justice Gaselee.

Sergeant Buzfuz in the same trial is believed on the authority of Mr Bompas to be Serjeant Bompas, the father of that eminent Q.C., but there seems to be no evidence that it is a portrait.  In Pickwick some of the best names are those of various business firms, e.g., Bilson and Slum, who were Tom Smart’s employers.  In the Judge’s chambers (which “are said to be of specially dirty appearance”) was a crowd of unfortunate clerks “waiting to attend summonses their employers had taken out, which it was optional to the attorney on the opposite side to attend or not, and whose business it was from time to time to cry out the opposite attorney’s name.  For example, leaning against the wall . . . was an office lad of fourteen with a tenor voice; near him a common law clerk with a bass one.  A clerk hurried in with a bundle of papers and stared about him.

p. 22“‘Sniggle and Blink,’ cried the tenor.

“‘Porkin and Snob,’ growled the bass.

“‘Stumpy and Deacon,’ said the newcomer.”

These are fairly good names, though they have not the touch of Thackeray.  I like the names of the chief heroes in the cricket match at Dingley Dell.  Dumpkins and Podder went in first for All-Muggleton, the bowlers on the other side being Struggles and Luffey.  These names are so familiar that it is hard to judge them, but on the whole they seem to me fairly good, as being slightly comic and not impossible.  But when we come to Horatio Fizkin, Esq., of Fizkin Lodge, and Hon. Samuel Slumkey, of Slumkey Hall, we are indeed depressed.  But there are worse names in Pickwick.  When Mrs Nupkins and her daughter have discovered Captain Fitz-Marshall to be a scamp: “How can we ever show ourselves in society?” said Miss Nupkins.

“‘How can we face the Porkenhams?’ cried Mrs Nupkins.

“‘Or the Griggs?’ cried Miss Nupkins.

“‘Or the Slummintowkens?’ cried Mrs Nupkins.”

This last seems to me about as bad a name as any writer ever invented.  But Nockemorf, the name of Bob Sawyer’s predecessor in the apothecary business, is almost equally tiresome in a different style.

Why he chose such names it is hard to say, since he certainly could invent improbable names which are nevertheless appropriate.  For instance, Smangle and Mivins are quite good names for the offensive scamps on whom Mr Pickwick is “chummed” in the Fleet Prison.

p. 23Daniel Grummer, the name of Mr Nupkins’ tipstaff, is roughly of the same type, and Wilkins Flasher, as an objectionable stockbroker is called, is quite a passable name.  The only name in Pickwick which is comparable to those of Thackeray is Mrs Leo Hunter, while Count Smorltork, who occurs in the same scene, is unbearable.  On the other hand, Captain Boldwig is quite a good name.

I now pass to Sir Walter Scott.  It must be confessed that in the two books chosen for analysis—Guy Mannering and The Antiquary—he is disappointing as an artist in nomenclature.  To begin with Guy Mannering, it is impossible to imagine why he gave such a name as Meg Merrilies to his magnificent heroine.  It suggests “merry lies,” and makes us suspect that she was originally intended for a comic character. [23]  And why, as she grew into a tragedy queen, he did not rename her I cannot understand.  Fortunately he gave the colourless name Abel Sampson to another great character—the immortal Dominie.  Again Dirk Hatteraick is a passable name.  I cannot pretend to say whether it is a Dutch name, but as Dirk uses German (of a sort) when not speaking English, we may leave the question open.  Among the names which are clearly bad are: Sir Thomas Kittlecourt, John Featherhead, Sloethorn (a wine merchant), Mortcloke the undertaker, Quid the tobacconist, Protocol the lawyer, and lastly the MacDingawaies, a Highland sept or clan.

p. 24The following seem to be bearable or fairly good, but I must confess to a want of instinct as to Scotch names: MacGuffog, a constable, Macbriar, Dandy Dinmont (although a dinmont is the Scottish for “a wedder in the second year”), MacCandlish.  On the whole, as far as Guy Mannering is concerned, the author gets but few good marks and many bad ones.

The same is, I fear, true of The Antiquary.  We find such bad names as Rev. Mr Blattergowl of Trotcosey (vol. i., p. 208); Baron von Blunderhaus; Dibble the gardener; Dousterswivel, the German or Dutch swindler; the Earl of Glengibber; Goldiword, a moneylender; Dr Heavysterne, from the Low Countries; Mr Mailsetter of the Post Office; Sandie Netherstanes the miller; Jonathan Oldbuck, the hero of the book; Sir Peter Pepperbrand of Glenstirym.  Of the name Strathtudlem I cannot judge; it does not strike me as good, though possibly better than the immortal Tillietudlem of Old Mortality.

There are, of course, a number of names which do not offend, but there are few which are actually attractive.  Among the last-named class are Edie Ochiltree, Francis of Fowlsheugh, Elspeth of Craigburnfoot, Lady Glenallan, Francie Macraw, Ailison Breck, but among these Edie Ochiltree is the only name which is undoubtedly in Class I.

It is disappointing to a lover of Sir Walter Scott to be obliged to show that as an artist in names he ranks low.  But his sense of humour occasionally fails in other matters.  I remember being reproved (when a young man at Cambridge) for saying that Scott showed a want of humour in Jeanie Deans’ p. 25letter to her father, in which she tells him that Effie has been pardoned.  The author introduces in brackets: “Here follow some observations respecting the breed of cattle, and the produce of the dairy which it is our intention to forward to the Board of Agriculture.”  I still think I was right, and that the eminent person who snubbed me was wrong.

Among the works of more modern writers I have analysed one of Trollope’s—the Small House at Allington.  The names on the whole are harmless and normal, such as Christopher Dale of Allington; Adolphus Crosbie, the bad hero; Montgomerie Dobbs, his friend; Fothergill, factotum to the Duke of Omnium, and many others.  Some names are only saved by our familiarity with them, e.g., Lady Dumbello or the above-mentioned Duke of Omnium. [25]  Among the fanciful names Mr Fanfaron and Major Fiasco are in the bad rather than in the good class, though if they had more appropriateness they might be passed.

The positively bad names are numerous enough—the Marquis of Auldreekie; Basil and Pigskin, who keep a leather warehouse; Sir Raffle Buffle; Chumpend, a butcher; Lady Clandidlem; the Rev. John Joseph Jones is damned because he, an obvious Welshman, is described as of Jesus College at Cambridge instead of Oxford.  Kissing and Love, two clerks in Johnny Eames’ office, might have been passed had not the author gone out of his way to refer to the lamentable jokes made in the office about them.  Mr Optimist is an incredibly bad p. 26name, and the same may be said of Sir Constant Outonites.  The physician, Sir Omicron Pi, [26] may have a meaning of which I am ignorant.  I think Thackeray would have spelled it Sir O’Micron Pye, which would have given a touch of reality.

There is one class of books which I have not noticed, namely, those in which all or nearly all the characters have names with an obvious meaning.  The great instance of this type is Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, in which occur well-known names such as Mr Worldly Wiseman, Faithful, Mr Facing-both-Ways, Lord Desire-of-Vain-Glory, etc.  There are two exceptions in The Pilgrim’s Progress, namely Demas, which is taken from 2 Timothy iv. 10, and Mnason (Acts xxi. 16).

An author of this type, with whom Bunyan would have objected to be classed, is Sheridan.  In The Rivals we have the immortal names of Sir Anthony Absolute, Sir Lucius O’Trigger, Mrs Malaprop, and Lydia Languish.  Bob Acres has not so obvious a meaning, but is clearly meant to imply rusticity.  The chief exception is Faulkland, and there are also David, Julia, and Lucy.

In St Patrick’s Day we have Dr Rosy, Justice Credulous, Sergeant Trounce, Corporal Flint.  The hero, Lieutenant O’Connor, is the principal exception.

Finally, in The School for Scandal, we have Sir Peter Teazle (which suggests a prickly irritable nature), as well as names with a more obvious p. 27meaning, e.g., Joseph Surface, Sir Benjamin Backbite, Snake, Careless, Sir Harry Bumper, Lady Sneerwell, and Mrs Candour.

The other characters have names without meanings, e.g., Rowley, Moses, Trip, and Maria.  The fact that the very different characters, Charles and Joseph Surface, necessarily bear the same surname shows how difficult it is to carry out a system such as that on which Sheridan’s nomenclature is based.

p. 29THOMAS HEARNE, 1678–1735

To the everyday reader Thomas Hearne, if at all, is chiefly known by the Diary which he kept for thirty years, viz., from 1705 when he was twenty-seven years of age, until his death.  This, in 145 volumes, is preserved in the Bodleian Library, and is, I believe, in course of publication.  What I have to say is founded on Bliss’s Reliquiæ Hearnianæ, [29a] which consists of extracts from the above-mentioned diary.  Mr Bliss naturally selected passages referring to well-known books or persons of note; but he was wise enough to include what a pompous editor would have omitted as trifling.  It is these which are especially valuable to one who tries to give a picture of Hearne’s simple and lovable character.

The following account of Thomas Hearne, written by himself, is from the Appendix to vol. i. of The Lives of John Leland, Thomas Hearne, and Anthony à Wood, 1772. [29b]

Thomas was the son of George Hearne, Parish Clerk of White Waltham, Berks.  He was born at Littlefield Green “within the said parish of White p. 30Waltham.”  Thomas, “being naturally inclined to Learning, he soon became Master of the English Tongue.” [30a]

Even when a boy Hearne was “much talked of,” and this “occasioned that Learned Gentleman, Francis Cherry, [30b] Esq., to put him to the Free School of Bray [30c] in Berks on purpose to learn the Latin Tongue, which his Father was not entirely Master of; this was about the beginning of the year 1693.”  “Not only the Master himself, but all the other Boys had a very particular Respect for him, and could not but admire and applaud his Industry and Application.

“Mr Cherry being fully satisfied of the great and surprising Progress he had made, by the advice of that good and learned Man Mr Dodwell (who then p. 31lived at Shottesbrooke), he resolved to take him into his own House, which accordingly he did about Easter in 1795 [31] and provided for him as if he had been his own Son.”

In the Easter Term 1696 he began life at Oxford as a Batteler of Edmund Hall, where he was soon employed by the Principal in the “learned Works in which he was engaged.”

“As soon as ever Mr Hearne had taken the Degree of Batchelor of Arts [in Act Term 1699] he constantly went to the Bodleian Library every day, and studied there as long as the time allowed by the Statutes would admit.”

This led to his being appointed Assistant Keeper of the Bodleian.

“Being settled in this employment, it is incredible what Pains he took in regulating the Library, in order to which he examined all the printed Books in it, comparing every Volume with Catalogue set out many years before by Dr Hyde.”  It seems that this was very imperfect, and Hearne supplied a new catalogue.  He afterwards dealt with the MSS. and the collection of coins.

In 1703 he took his M.A., and was offered Chaplaincies at two Colleges, but was not allowed to accept either of them.  In 1712 he became “Second Keeper” of the Library.  This position he accepted on condition that he might still be Janitor without the salary attaching to that position.  He desired to retain the office because it gave him access to the Library at all hours.  In 1713 he declined the Librarianship of the Royal Society.

p. 32In January 1714/15 his troubles began with his election as “Architypographus and Superior or Esque Beadle in Civil Law.”  But after he had been elected, the Vice-Chancellor appointed, as Architypographus, a common printer, and Hearne resigned the Beadleship, but “continued to execute the office of librarian as long as he could obtain access to the library; but on 23rd January 1716, the last day fixed by the new Act for taking the oaths to the Hanoverian Dynasty, he was actually prevented from entering the library, and soon after formally deprived of his office on the ground of ‘neglect of duty’” (Dict. Nat. Biog.).

It is not necessary to follow in detail the ill-usage he received.  He was afterwards treated with more consideration.  Thus in 1720 it appears that he might have had the Camden Professorship of History, but again the oaths stood in his way.  He also declined the living of Bletchley in Buckinghamshire.  In 1729 he refused to be a candidate for the place of Chief Keeper of the Bodleian Library.  In his own words “he retired to Edmund-Hall, and lived there very privately . . . furnishing himself with Books, partly from his Study, and partly by the help of friends.”

It is evident that his literary work was well remunerated, because a “sum of money amounting to upwards of one thousand Pounds was found in his Room after his decease.”  This statement, together with the date of his death (10th June 1735), are clearly part of the design to conceal the authorship of the biography.

p. 33In the following pages I have chosen what seem to me to be interesting extracts from Hearne’s Diary, which begins 4th July 1705, and concludes 1st June 1735.  I shall give what especially illustrates the conditions of life at Oxford from the beginning of the eighteenth century until the date of the author’s death.

There was plenty of barbarism remaining in Oxford life, for instance, 4th September 1705:—

“The Book called The Memorial was burnt last Saturday at the Sessions house, by the hands of the common hang-man, and this week the same will be done at the Royal Exchange and Palace-Yard, Westminster.”  In the same month, however, we find pleasanter record, e.g., the first mention of one who (though I think they never met) became his most valued correspondent.

“Last night I was with Mr Wotton (who writ the Essay on Ancient and Modern Learning) at the tavern. . . .  Mr Wotton told me Mr Baker of St John’s College, Cambridge, had writ the history and antiquities of that college; and that he is in every way qualified (being a very industrious and judicious man) to write the hist. and antiq. of that university.”

Thomas Baker, b. 1656, d. 1740, was a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, but on the accession of George I. he would not take the oath of allegiance and lost his Fellowship.  The College, however, treated him with consideration and he was allowed to remain as a commoner-master until his death.  He worked indefatigably, and gained the deserved p. 34“reputation of being inferior to no living English scholar in his minute and extended acquaintance with the antiquities of our national history” (Dict. Nat. Biog.).

There is often a pleasant irrelevance in Hearne’s Diary.  For instance:—

18th Oct. 1705.—“Mr Lesley was in the public library this afternoon, with some Irish ladies.  He goes under the name of Smith.”

I like the following outburst on the value of books:—

2nd Nov. 1705.—“Narcissus March, Archbishop of Armagh, gave 2500 libs for Bishop Stillingfleet’s library which, like that of Dr Isaac Vossius, was suffered to go out of the nation to the eternal scandal and reproach of it.  The said archbishop has built a noble repository for them.”

6th Nov. 1705.—“Mr Pullen, of Magd. hall, last night told me that there was once a very remarkable stone in Magd. hall library, which was afterwards lent to Dr Plot, who never returned it, replying, when he was asked for it, that ’twas a rule amongst antiquaries to receive, and never restore.”

This was the more reprehensible in Dr Plot (1640–1696) inasmuch as he had been bred at Magdalen Hall.  He was the author of A Natural History of Oxfordshire, and also of Staffordshire.  The latter is apparently the better of the two, but it does not speak well for his sources of information that it should have been “a boast among the Staffordshire squires, to whom he addressed his enquiries, how readily they had ‘humbugged old p. 35Plot.’”  He was appointed Secretary to the Royal Society in 1682.  He was also the first custos of Ashmole’s Museum, which could not have been an easy office since “twelve cartloads of Trades cant’s rarities” arrived in Oxford to form its nucleus.  (Dict. Nat. Biog.).

18th Nov. 1705.—“When sir Godfrey Kneller (as Dr Hudson informs me) came to Oxon, by Mr Pepys’s order, to draw Dr Wallis’s picture, he, at dinner with Dr Wallis, was pleased to say, upon the Dr’s questioning the legitimacy of the prince of Wales, that he did not in the least doubt but he was the son of King James and queen Mary; and to evince this he added, that upon the sight of the picture of the prince of Wales, sent from Paris into England, he was fully satisfied of what others seemed to doubt so much.  For, as he further said, he had manifest lines and features of both in their faces, which he knew very well, having drawn them both several times.”

18th Nov. 1705.—“After Mr Walker was turned out of University coll. for being a papist, he lived obscurely in London, his chief maintenance being from the contributions of some of his old friends and acquaintance; amongst whom was Dr Radcliff, who (out of a grateful remembrance of favours received from him in the college) sent him once a year a new suit of cloaths, with ten broad pieces, and a dozen bottles of the richest Canary to support his drooping spirits.  This, Dr Hudson (from whom I received this story) was informed by Dr Radcliff himself.”

9th Dec. 1705, p. 78.—“To show that the Dutchess p. 36of Marlborough (commonly called Queen Zarah) has the ascendant over the queen. . . .  When prince George (who is lookt upon as a man of little spirit and understanding) sollicited the queen, his wife, for a place for some friend of his, Zarah, who happened to be by at that time, cryed out, Christ! madam! I am promised it before!”

30th Jan. 1705–6.—“Mr Thwaits tells me that the dean of Christ Church (Mr Aldrich) formerly drew up an epitome of heraldry for the use of some young gentlemen under his care. . . .  He says ’twas done very well, and the best in its nature ever made.”

26th April 1705–6.—“Mr Grabe created D.D.; Dr Smalrich presented him with a cap, and after that with a ring, signifying that the universitys of Oxford and Francfurt were now joyned together, and become two sisters; and that they might be the more firmly united together, as well in learning as religion, he kissed Mr Grabe.”

This is of interest as showing that the custom of giving rings at the conferring of honorary degrees existed in England, as it does to this day at Upsala.

The following extract illustrates what we should now consider great license in the matter of smoking:

“When the bill for security of the church of England was read . . . Dr Bull sate in the lobby of the house of lords all the while, smoking his pipe.”

31st March 1708–9.—“We hear from Yeovill in Somersetshire by very good hands of a woman covered with snow for at least a week.  When found she told them that she had layn very warm, and had slept most part of the time.”

p. 37A well-known case of the same sort is described in Gunning’s Reminiscences (1854).

22nd April 1711.—“There is a daily paper comes out called The Spectator, written, as is supposed, by the same hand that writ the Tatler, viz. Captain Steel.  In one of the last of these papers is a letter written from Oxon, at four o’clock in the morning, and subscribed Abraham Froth.  It ridicules our hebdomadal meetings.  The Abraham Froth is designed for Dr Arthur Charlett, an empty, frothy man, and indeed the letter personates him incomparably well, being written, as he uses to do, upon great variety of things, and yet about nothing of moment.  Queen’s people are angry at it, and the common-room say there, ’tis silly, dull stuff; and they are seconded by some that have been of the same college.  But men that are indifferent commend it highly, as it deserves.”

17th Nov. 1712.—“On Thursday last (13th Nov.), duke Hamilton and the Lord Mohun being before Mr Oillabar, one of the masters of Chancery, about some suit depending between them, and some words arising, a challenge was made between these two noble men, and the duell was fought on Saturday (15th Nov.) in the Park.  My lord Mohun was killed on the spot, and the duke so wounded that he died before he got home.  This lord Mohun should have been hanged some years agoe for murder, which he had committed divers times.”

24th Nov.—. . .  “The duke having given Mohun his mortal wound, and taking him up in his arms, as soon as Makartney saw it, he and col. Hamilton fell p. 38to it; but Hamilton, though he was wounded by Makartney in the leg, disarmed Makartney, and threw his sword from him, and immediately went to Mohun to endeavour also to recover him.  Mean time Makartney (who is a bloudy, ill man) runs and takes up his sword, comes to the duke, and gives him his mortal wound, of which the duke dyed before he could get home.”

It is of some interest to compare the above with Thackeray’s account of the duel in Esmond, book iii., chap. v.—

“’Twas but three days after the 15th November 1712 (Esmond minds him well of the date), that he went by invitation to dine with his General (Webb).”  At the end of the feast Swift rushes to say that Duke Hamilton had been killed in a duel.  “They fought in Hyde Park just before sunset.”

When I read the story in Esmond I was naturally struck by Thackeray’s making the duel occur three days after 15th November instead of on that day.  I applied to my friend Dr Henry Jackson, who pointed out that the apparent error arises from the absence of a comma.  The above passage should run:—

“It was about three days after, the 15th of November 1712 (Esmond minds him well of the date), that he went, etc.”  This makes Thackeray’s account agree with Hearne’s.  Dr Jackson has pointed out to me that the duel was fought at 7 A.M., not just before sunset as Swift is made to declare.  The evidence is in Swift’s Journal to Mrs Dingley, of which extract Charles John Smith gave a facsimile in his Historical and Literary Curiosities, 1840:—

p. 39“Before this comes to your Hands, you will have heard of the most terrible Accident that hath almost ever happened.  This morning at 8, my men brought me word that D. Hamilton had fought with Ld. Mohun and killed him and was brought home wounded.  I immediately sent him to the Duke’s house in St James’s Square, but the porter could hardly answer for tears and a great Rabble was about the House.  In short they fought at 7 this morning the Dog Mohun was killed on the spot, and wile (sic) the Duke was over him Mohun shortening his sword stabbed him in at the shoulder to the heart the Duke was helpt towards the lake house by the Ring in the park (where they fought), [39] and dyed in the Grass before he could reach the House and was brought home in his Coach by 8, while the poor Dutchess was asleep. . . .  I am told that a footman of Ld. Mohun’s stabbd D. Hamilton; and some say Mackartney did so too.  Mohun gave the affront and yet sent the Challenge.  I am infinitly concerned for the poor Duke who was a frank honest good natured man, I loved him very well and I think he loved me better.

Jonat. Swift.

London, 15th Nov. 1712.”

I insert the following extract as it records what was of great importance to Hearne personally, since he refused to recognise George I. as the legitimate monarch.

3rd Aug. 1714.—“On Sunday morning (Aug. 1st) p. 40died queen Anne, about 7 o’clock.  She had been taken ill on Friday immediately before.  Her distemper an apoplexy, or, as some say, only convulsions.  She was somewhat recovered, and then made Shrewsbury lord treasurer.  On Sunday last, in the afternoon, George Lewis, elector of Brunswick, was proclaimed in London King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, by virtue of an act of parliament, by which those that are much nearer to the crown by bloud are excluded.”

The following extract illustrates the feeling in Oxford under the first Hanoverian sovereign.  Very few, however, showed Hearne’s consistent and courageous Jacobinism:—

29th May 1715.—“Last night a good part of the presbyterian meeting-house in Oxford was pulled down.  There was such a concourse of people going up and down, and putting a stop to the least sign of rejoycing, as cannot be described.  But then the rejoycing this day (notwithstanding Sunday) was so very great and publick in Oxford, as hath not been known hardly since the restauration.  There was not an house next the street but was illuminated.  For if any disrespect was shown, the windows were certainly broke.  The people run up and down, crying King James the thirdThe true KingNo usurperThe duke of Ormond! and healths were everywhere drank suitable to the occasion, and every one at the same time drank to a new restauration, which I heartily wish may speedily happen.”

I give the following extract as a record of the dinner hour in Oxford in 1717:—

p. 4124th April 1717.—“On Sunday morning last (being Easter-day) Dr Charlett, master of University college, sent his man to invite me to dinner that day.  I sent him word that I was engaged, as indeed I was.  Yesterday he sent again.  I sent word I would wait upon him.  Accordingly I went at twelve o’clock.  When I came I found nobody with him but Mr Collins, of Magdalen coll., whom he had also invited.” [41]

Here is an interesting scrap of history:—

19th April 1718.—“. . .  King William the Conqueror’s beard alwayes shaven, for so was the custome of the Norman.  Thus were the Englishmen forced to imitate the Normans in habit of apparell, shaving off their beards, service at the table, and in all other outward gestures.  The English before did not use to shave their upper lips.”

11th Nov. 1720.—“Dr Wynne. . . .  This worthy doctor was the man also that put a stop to the selling of fellowships in All Soul’s college, as I have often heard him say; and I have as often heard him likewise say, that he always voted for the poorest candidaters for fellowships in that college, provided they were equally qualified in other respects; a thing not practised now.”

p. 42Here is a pleasant inversion of the relation between boy and schoolmaster:—

21st Jan. 1718–19.—“I remember that I heard formerly Tom Rogers, who was yeoman beadle, say, that when he was that year, when the plague raged, a school-boy at Eaton, all the boys of that school were obliged to smoak in the school every morning, and that he was never whipped so much in his life as he was one morning for not smoaking.”

27th Feb. 1722–23.—“It hath been an old custom in Oxford for the scholars of all houses, on Shrove Tuesday, to go to dinner at ten o’clock (at which time the little bell, called pan-cake bell, rings, or at least should ring, at St Maries), and at four in the afternoon; and it was always followed in Edmund hall, as long as I have been in Oxford, till yesterday, when they went to dinner at twelve, and to supper at six, nor were there any fritters at dinner, as there used always to be.  When laudable old customs alter, ’tis a sign learning dwindles.”

I hope that modern Oxford has returned to pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

There is a pleasant touch of mediævalness in the following:—

10th July 1723.—“There are two fairs a year at Wantage, in Berks, the first on 7th July, being the translation of St Thomas à Becket, and the second on the 6th of October, being St Faith’s day.  But this year, the 7th of July being a Sunday, the fair was kept last Monday, and ’twas a very great one; and yesterday it was held too, when there was a very great match of backsword or cudgell playing p. 43between the hill-country and the vale-country, Berkshire men being famous for this sport or excercise.”

The following account makes one inclined to sympathise with Hearne’s avoidance of travelling:—

21st Sept. 1723.—“They wrote from Dover, Sept. 14, that the day before, col. Churchill, with two other gentlemen, arrived there from Calais, by whom they received the following account, viz., that on Thursday morning last, Mr Seebright and Mr Davis being in one chair, and Mr Mompesson and a servant in another chaise, with one servant on horseback, pursuing their way to Paris, were, about seven miles from Calais, attacked by six ruffians, who demanded the three hundred guineas which they said were in their pockets and portmanteaus.  The gentlemen readily submitted, and surrendered the money; yet the villains, after a little consultation, resolved to murder them, and thereupon shot Mr Seebright thro’ the heart, and gave the word for killing the rest: then Mr Davis, who was in the chaise with him, shot at one of them, missed the fellow, but killed his horse; upon which he was immediately killed, being shot and stabb’d in several places.  Mr Mompesson and the two servants were likewise soon dispatched in a very barbarous manner.  During this bloudy scene, Mr John Locke coming down a hill within sight of them, in his return from Paris, the ruffians sent two of their party to meet and kill him; which they did before the poor gentleman was apprized of any danger; but his man, who was a Swiss, begging hard for his life, was p. 44spared.  This happening near a small village where they had taken their second post, a peasant came by in the interim, and was also murdered.  They partly flead, and otherwise mangled, the horse that was killed, to prevent its being known; so that ’tis believed they did not live far from Calais.  The unfortunate gentlemen afore mentioned, not being used to travel, had unwarily discovered at Calais what sums they had about them, by exchanging their guineas for Louis d’ors, which is supposed to have given occasion to this dismal tragedy.”

27th July 1726.—“This is the day kept in honour of the Seven Sleepers, so called, because in the reign of Theodosius the second, about the year 449, when the resurrection (as we have it from Greg. Turon.) came to be doubted by many, seven persons, who had been buried alive in a cave at Ephesus by Decius the emperor, in the time of his persecution against the Christians, and had slept for about 200 years, awoke and testified the truth of this doctrine, to the great amazement of all.”

In the following passage Hearne shows (as in some other instances) a certain antagonism to Sir Isaac Newton.  I hope, however, that he was impressed by what he quotes from the Reading Post, viz. that “six noble peers supported the pall” at the funeral.

“Sir Isaac Newton had promised to be a benefactor to the Royal society, but failed.  Some time before he died, a great quarrel happened between him and Dr Halley, so as they fell to bad language.  This, ’tis thought, so much discomposed Sir Isaac as to hasten his end.  Sir Isaac died in great pain, p. 45though he was not sick, which pain proceeded from some inward decay, as appeared from opening him.  He is buried in Westminster Abbey.  Sir Isaac was a man of no promising aspect.  He was a short well-set man.  He was full of thought, and spoke very little in company, so that his conversation was not agreeable.  When he rode in his coach, one arm would be out of the coach on one side, and the other on the other.”

25th April 1727.—“Mr West tells me, in a letter from London of the 22nd inst., that being lately in Cambridgeshire, he spent two days in that university, both which times he had the pleasure of seeing my friend Mr Baker, who was pleased to walk with him, and shew him his college, the library, etc.  What hath been given to the library by Mr Baker himself, is no small addition to it; Mr Baker being turned out of his fellowship for his honesty and integrity (as I have also lost my places for the same reason, in not taking the wicked oaths), writes himself in all his books socius ejectus.  His goodness and humanity are as charming, to those who have the happiness of his conversation, as his learning is profitable to his correspondents.  The university library is not yet put into any order.”

25th June 1728.—“The Cambridge men are much wanting to themselves, in not retrieving the remains of their worthies.  Mr Baker is the only man I know of there, that hath of late acted in all respects worthily on that head, and for it he deserves a statue.”

3rd Aug. 1728.—“Yesterday Mr Gilman of St p. 46Peter’s parish in the east, Oxford (a lusty, heartick, [46a] thick, and short man), told me, that he is in his 85th year of age, and that at the restoration of K. Charles II., being much afflicted with the king’s evil, he rode up to London behind his father, was touched on a Wednesday morning by the king, was in very good condition by that night, and by the Sunday night immediately following was perfectly recovered and hath so continued ever since.  He hath constantly wore the piece of gold about his neck that he received of the king, and he had it on yesterday when I met him.”

I hope that Oxford, which had treated poor Hearne so ill, was impressed by the facts recorded on 10th June 1730:—

“On Thursday, June 4th, the earl of Oxford (Edw. Harley) was at my room at Edm. hall from ten o’clock in the morning till a little after twelve o’clock, together with Dr Conyers Middleton, of Trin. coll. Camb., and my lord’s nephew, the hon. Mr May of Christ Church, and Mr Murray of Christ Church.”

7th Aug. 1732.—“My friend the honble. Benedict Leonard Calvert [46b] died on 1st June 1732 (old stile) of a consumption, in the Charles, Capt. Watts commander, and was buried in the sea.  When he left England he seemed to think that he was becoming an exile, and that he should never see his native country more; and yet neither myself nor any else could disswade him from going.  He was as p. 47well beloved as an angel could be in his station; (he being governour of Maryland); for our plantations have a natural aversion to their governours, upon account of their too usual exactions, pillages, and plunderings; but Mr Calvert was free from all such, and therefore there was no need of constraint on that score: but then it was argument enough to be harrassed that he was their governour, and not only such, but brother to Ld. Baltimore, the lord proprietor of Maryland, a thing which himself declared to his friends, who were likewise too sensible of it.  And the same may appear also from a speech or two of his on occasion of some distraction, which tho’ in print I never yet saw.  I had a sincere respect for him, and he and I used to spend much time together in searching after curiosities, etc., so that he hath often said that ’twas the most pleasant part of his life, as other young gentlemen, likewise then in Oxford have also as often said, that the many agreeable hours we used to spend together on the same occasion were the most entertaining and most pleasant part of their lives.  As Mr Calvert and the rest of those young gentlemen (several of which, as well as Mr Calvert, were of noble birth) used to walk and divert themselves with me in the country, much notice was taken thereof, and many envyed our happiness.”

5th July 1733.—“One Handel, a foreigner (who, they say, was born at Hanover), being desired to come to Oxford, to perform in musick this Act, in which he hath great skill, is come down, the p. 48Vice-Chancellor (Dr Holmes) having requested him so to do, and, as an encouragement, to allow him the benefit of the Theater, both before the Act begins and after it.  Accordingly he hath published papers for a performance to-day, at 5s. a ticket.  This performance began a little after five o’clock in the evening.  This is an inovation.  The players might be as well permitted to come and act.  The Vice-Chancellor is much blamed for it.”

16th Sept. 1733.—“Mr Sacheverel, who died a few years since, of Denman’s Farm (in Berks) near Oxford, was looked upon as the best judge of bells in England.  He used to say, that Horsepath bells near Oxford, tho’ but five in number, and very small, were the prettiest, tunablest bells in England, and that there was not a fault in one, except the 3d, and that so small a fault, as it was not to be discerned but by a very good judge.”

3rd Oct. 1733.—“I hear of iron bedsteads in London.  Dr Massey told me of them on Saturday, 29th Sept. 1733.  He said they were used on account of the buggs, which have, since the great fire, been very troublesome in London.”

17th Jan. 1733–34.—“Mr Baker of Cambridge (who is a very good, as well as a very learned man, and is my great friend, though I am unknown in person to him) tells me in his letter of the 16th of last December, that he hath always thought it a happiness to dye in time, and says of himself, that he is really affraid of living too long.  He is above seventy, as he told me some time since.”

10th March 1733–34.— . . .  “On the 7th inst. p. 49Ld. Oxford sent me the chronicle of John Bever.  He lends it me at my request, and says he will lend me any book he hath, and wonders I will not go to London and see my friends; and see what MSS. and papers are there, and in other libraries, that are worth printing.  I could give several reasons for my not going either to London or other places, which however I did not trouble his lordship with.  Among others, ’tis probable I might receive a much better welcome than I deserve, or is suitable to one that so much desires and seeks a private humble life, without the least pomp or grandeur.”

2nd May 1734.—“Yesterday an attempt was made upon New college bells of 6876 changes.  They began a quarter before ten in the morning, and rang very well until four minutes after twelve, when Mr Brickland, a schoolmaster of St Michael’s parish, who rang the fifth bell, missed a stroke, it put a stop to the whole, so that they presently set them, and so sunk the peal, which is pity, for ’twas really very true ringing, excepting five faults, which I observ’d (for I heard all the time, tho’ ’twas very wet all the while) in that part of the Parks which is on the east side of Wadham college, where I was very private; one of which five faults was the treble, that was rung by Mr Richard Hearne, and the other four were faults committed by the aforesaid Mr Brickland, who ’twas feared by several beforehand would not fully perform his part. . . .”

2nd May 1734. . . . “When I mention’d afterwards my observations to ye said Mr Smith, he told me, that tho’ he rung himself, yet he minded the faults p. 50also himself.  Upon which I asked him how many there were?  He said three before that which stopp’d them.  I told him that there just five before that, at which he admired my niceness.”

14th Oct. 1734. . . .  “Dr Sherlock, now bp. of Salisbury, was likewise of that little house (Cath. Hall), and they look upon it as very much for the honour of that little house, that it has produced two of our principal prelates (Dr Sherlock and Hoadly, at Salisbury and Winchester).  The last has usually (and regularly) gone to an Oxford man, as Ely to Cambridge.”

31st Dec. 1734. . . .  “But having been debarr’d the library, a great number of years, I am now a stranger there, and cannot in the least assist him, tho’ I once design’d to have been very nice in examining all those liturgical MSS., and to have given notes of their age, and particularly of Leopric’s Latin Missal, which I had a design of printing, being countenanc’d thereto by Dr Hickes, Mr Dodwell, etc.”


“To entertain the lag-end of my life
With quiet hours.”

Henry IV., Pt. I.

I was born at Down on 16th August 1848: I was christened at Malvern—a fact in which I had a certain unaccountable pride.  But now my only sensation is one of surprise at having been christened at all, and a wish that I had received some other name.  I was never called Francis, and I disliked the usual abbreviation Frank, while Franky or Frankie seemed to me intolerable.  I also considered it a hardship to have but one Christian name.  Our parents began by giving two names to the elder children; but their inventive capacity gave way and the younger ones had each but one.  It seemed, too, a singular fact that—as they afterwards confessed—they gave names which they did not especially like.  Our godfathers and godmothers were usually uncles and aunts, but this tepid relationship was deprived of any conceivable interest by the fact that the uncles were usually represented by the parish clerk.  This, of course, we only knew by rumour, but we realised that they gave no christening mugs—a line of conduct in which I now fully sympathise.  My p. 52brother Leonard did indeed receive a silver spoon from Mr Leonard Horner, but I fancy that this came to him on false pretences.

I have no idea at what age we began to go to church, but I have a general impression of unwillingly attending divine service for many boyish years.  We had a large pew, lined with green baize, close beneath the clergyman’s desk, and so near the clerk that we got the full flavour of his tremendous amens.  I have a recollection of entertaining myself with the india-rubber threads out of my elastic-sided boots, and of gently tweaking them when stretched as miniature harp-strings.  The only other diverting circumstance was the occurrence of book-fish (Lepisma?) in the prayer books or among the baize cushions.  I have not seen one for fifty years, and I may be wrong in believing that they were like minute sardines running on invisible wheels.  In looking back on the service in Down church, I am astonished at the undoubted fact that whereas the congregation in general turned towards the altar in saying the Creed, we faced the other way and sternly looked into the eyes of the other churchgoers.  We certainly were not brought up in Low Church or anti-papistical views, and it remains a mystery why we continued to do anything so unnecessary and uncomfortable.

I have a general impression of coming out of church cold and hungry, and of seeing the labourers standing about the porch in tall hats and green or purple smock-frocks.  But the chief object of interest was Sir John Lubbock (the father of the late Lord p. 53Avebury), of whom, for no particular reason, we stood in awe.  He made it up to us by coming to church in a splendid fluffy beaver hat.  My recollection is that we often went only to the afternoon service, which we preferred for its brevity.  I have a clear recollection of our delight when, on rainy Sundays, we escaped church altogether.

A feature that distinguished Sunday from the rest of the week was our singular custom of having family prayers on that day only.  When we were growing up we mildly struck at the ceremony, and my mother accordingly dropped it on finding that the servants took no especial interest in it.

On Sundays we wore our best jackets, but I think that, when church was over, we put on our usual tunics or blouses of surprising home-made fit.  But I clearly remember climbing (in my Sunday clothes) a holly-tree on a damp Christmas Day, and meeting my father as I descended green from head to foot.  I remember the occurrence because my father was justly annoyed, and this impressed the fact on me, since anything approaching anger was with him almost unknown.

In our blouses we might with impunity cover ourselves with the thick red clay of our country-side, and this we could always do by playing in a certain pit where we built clay forts, etc.  We used also to run down the steep ploughed fields, our feet (grown with adhering clay to huge balls) swinging like pendulums and scattering showers of mud on all sides.  Then we would come cheerfully home, entering by the back door and taking off our boots p. 54as we sat on the kitchen stairs in semi-darkness and surrounded by pleasant culinary smells.

In later years, when we used to take long winter tramps along our flinty winding lanes, this unbooting on the back stairs was a prelude to eating oranges in the dining-room, a feast that took the place of five o’clock tea—not then invented.

In the early days of which I was speaking, we had schoolroom tea with our governess, while our parents dined in peace at about 6.30.  We came down after our tea, rushing along the dark passage and descending the stairs with that rhythmic series of bangs peculiar to children.  I do not know that we were really frightened at passing certain dark doorways, but I certainly remember enjoying a sort of sham terror.  One of these doors led into my mother’s room and also to a store-room; I cannot think that this had any “night fears” for us, because it smelt so strongly of such everyday earthly things as soap and tallow candles.  Why it was placed next to the bedroom I do not know.  I have no clear remembrance of what we did in the evenings, but I seem to see a round table and a moderator lamp, such as occurs in John Leech’s pictures in Punch.  I have also a faint recollection of black-coated uncles sitting by the fire and not unnaturally objecting to our making short-cuts across their legs.  It was no doubt a pity that we were not reproved for our want of consideration for the elderly, and that, generally speaking, our manners were neglected.  One of our grown-up cousins was reported to have called our midday dinner “a violent luncheon,” and I do not p. 55doubt that she was right.  We were fortunate in having a set of simple, kindly, old-fashioned servants with whom we could be on friendly terms.  Thus it happens that recollections cluster about the kitchen and pantry.  I have a vague remembrance of a Welsh cook, Mrs Davis, who was very kind to us in spite of constant threats of “tying a dish-cloth to your tail,” which, so far as I know, remained a threat, and was indeed never understood by me.  We certainly could generally extract gingerbread and other good things from Daydy, as we called Mrs Davis.  The butler, Parslow, was a kind friend to us all our lives.  I do not remember being checked by him except in being turned out of the dining-room when he wanted to lay the table for luncheon, or being stopped in some game which threatened the polish of the sideboard, of which he spoke as though it were his private property.  He had what may be called a baronial nature: he idealised everything about our modest household, and would draw a glass of beer for the postman with the air of a seneschal bestowing a cup of malvoisie on a troubadour.  He would not, I think, have disgraced Charles Lamb’s friend Captain Burney, who welcomed his guests in the grand manner to the simplest of feasts.  It was good to see him on Christmas Day: with how great an air would he enter the breakfast-room and address us:—“Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you a happy Christmas, etc. etc.”  I am afraid he got but a sheepish response from us.  Among the outdoor servants there were three whom I remember well.  There was Brooks, p. 56the general outdoor man, who acted as gardener, cowman, etc.  He had dark eyes and a melancholy, morose face.  Of him I have told elsewhere [56a] the following anecdote:—

Brooks had been accused by the other gardener of using foul language, and was hailed before my father to be judged.  I, as a little boy, standing in the hall, heard my father say, “You know you are a very bad-tempered man.”  “Yes, sir” (in a tone of deep depression).  “Then get out of the room—you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”  At this point I rushed upstairs in vague alarm and heard no more.

Brooks lived in a cottage close to the cow-yard, with his wife, in whom I took an interest because her name was Keziah, and because she was the best smocker in the village.  I have a vague recollection of a private in the Guards to whom I was introduced as a son of Brooks—a statement I regarded as surprising.  Mrs Brooks was as melancholy as her husband, and I remember many years later, when the pair were pensioned off in the village, hearing Brooks say in her presence, “She ain’t no comfort to me, sir.”  To this she made no retort, though a tu quoque would have been most just.

The under-gardener, Lettington (the man who objected to being sworn at), was a kindly person and a great friend of mine.  It was he who taught me to make whistles [56b] in the spring and helped me with my tame rabbits.  He also showed me how to make brick-traps for small birds, and a more elaborate trap p. 57made of hazel twigs.  In this last I remember catching a blackbird: I imagine that I must have been rather afraid of my captive, for the unfortunate bird escaped leaving its tail in my hands.  I do not think I ever wanted to kill the few other birds caught in traps, but let them go free.  I clearly remember looking with envy and admiration at Bewicke’s woodcuts of traps, e.g. that of the woodcock springe, and another of a sieve propped up over grain sprinkled as bait.

To return to Lettington.  It was he who helped my father in his experiments on the crossing of plants: he lived to a great age, dying as a pensioner many years later.  My father used to tell with amusement how Lettington never failed to remind him of a bad prophecy:—“Yes, sir, but you said so-and-so would happen.”  The third outdoor man was Thomas Price, generally known as the Dormouse on account of his somnolent manner of working.  We, as boys, believed him to be a deserter from the army on account of the military set of his shoulders, and because he had arrived in the village an unknown wanderer.  He was a bachelor and spent more than was wise on beer.  For the last few years of his life my mother made him save money by the simple process of retaining part of his wages in her own hands.  In this way he unwillingly acquired some £20 or £30, but as he refused to leave it to those who took care of him in his last illness, it went to the Crown, to whom I hope it made up for the loss of T. Price’s very doubtful military services.

p. 58In later years it occurred to us that the methods of gardening at Down were antiquated, and we persuaded our parents to engage an active young Scotchman whom I will call X, and who was placed in command of Lettington and the Dormouse (the gloomy Brooks having been pensioned).  The two old servants were dreadfully bustled by X, and I well remember their flushed faces after the first morning’s digging in the serious Scotch manner.  After a time, finding that matters were very little looked after, X began some mysterious dealings in cows with a neighbouring farmer, and it was suddenly discovered that a cow had disappeared.  I remember my shame at finding I did not know how many cows we ought to have, nor could I swear to their personal appearance.  But by dint of cross-examination I was enabled to draw up a statement of how cow A had been sold, cow B bought, and cow C exchanged for cow D, etc.  Finally the ingenious X was discharged, and the rejoicing Lettington and Dormouse reinstated.  But before this fortunate conclusion, I had at my father’s bidding taken steps to obtain a summons against X.  I remember thinking what a fool I should look when cross-examined before the magistrates.  Another circumstance is impressed on my mind.  The affair occurred in that remarkable October in which the trees were greatly injured by a snowstorm, and as I drove in a dog-cart through Holwood Park in search of the summons, I thought, as the trees cracked like pistols, that it was hardly worth while being crushed to death for the sake p. 59of any number of cows.  Finally X was not prosecuted, and departed in peace.

To return to my childhood: I came between George and Leonard, and was a companion to both of them, but I do not think we made a trio as Leonard and Horace and I did more or less.  I have a clear recollection of Leonard in a red fez, and bare legs covered with scratches, but I cannot distinctly call up images of the others.  I seem to remember a great deal of purposeless wandering with my younger brothers; but with George, playing was an organised affair in which I was an obedient subordinate, as I have described in Rustic Sounds.  Our chief game was playing at soldiers; we had toy guns to which home-made wooden bayonets were fixed, knapsacks, and I think shakos—whether we had any uniform coats I cannot remember.  In the cloakroom under the stairs our names and heights were recorded, and George conscientiously constructed a short foot-rule so that our height should come to something like six feet.  I had to keep sentry at the far end of the kitchen garden until released by a bugle-call.  George being a sergeant was exempt from sentry work, and was merely responsible for the bugle-blowing.  Indoors there was much playing with tin soldiers.  I remember a regiment of dragoons whose coats my mother had laboriously reddened with sealing-wax to convert them into British soldiers.  The troopers were in a ferocious charging attitude with swords raised, but the blades were mostly broken, and I innocently believed that they were all raising crusts of bread p. 60to their mouths.  Another indoors game was the hurling of darts at one another in the long passage upstairs; we had wooden shields on which the javelins used to strike briskly enough, since they were weighted with lead.  On these occasions we were knights or men-at-arms, but out of doors we were savages.  George could hurl hazel-spears, using the Australian throwing-stick, an art I never acquired, but I was fond of slinging stones.  To make a sling a bit of leather was necessary, and this meant a visit to the village cobbler, Parker by name, who was a short, sallow man with the bristling chin which, according to Dickens, [60] is the universal attribute of cobblers.  I remember the pleasure of sending, with my sling, a pebble crashing into the big ash-tree in the field from what seemed to me a great distance.

Another pursuit was walking on stilts, of which we had two kinds; on the smaller ones even girls had been known to walk, but of the larger (which I remember as of imposing height) only the male sex was capable.  The garden at Down was originally a bare and windy wilderness, but our parents constructed mounds of raw red clay on which laurel and box finally grew and made shelter.  One of these mounds, covered with dwarf box-trees, was known to us as the Pyrenees, and our pleasure was to traverse the passes on stilts.  There was a slight sense of danger and a certain romance in climbing the heights from the lawn and descending in what was legally a part of the orchard, where p. 61the last of the limes grew and a particular crab-tree of which I was fond.

Then there were two swings, one of the orthodox kind between those twin yew-trees that gave a special character to the lawn, and one consisting of a long rope fixed high up on the tall Scotch fir that grew on the mound.  The rope of the latter had a short cross-bar at its lower end which served as a seat or a handle.  There were various tricks, some of which were almost sure to bump the head of a strange child against the tree trunk, to our private satisfaction.

A similar rope hanging from the ceiling of the long passage at the top of the house supplied a more complicated set of tricks, which all had special names.  Of these, I remember that spangle meant a method of sitting on one side of the cross-bar at the end of the rope.  The stairs leading to the second floor jutted out into the passage; we used to stand with one foot on each banister-supporting post and make it a starting-point for a swing on the rope, also a landing-place, and if we succeeded in getting back into position with a foot on each banister-post we were pleased with ourselves, especially if it was done at night without a light.  The rope, working on the hooks fixed into the ceiling, made a grinding or squeaking noise which must have been annoying to guests, especially when mixed with much crashing and banging and shouting.

In later years we played stump cricket and lawn tennis, but in the early days of which I am thinking the only game I clearly remember was the practice p. 62of the village cricketers in our field.  It seems improbable, yet I am decidedly of opinion that the pitch was the footpath, the unmown condition of the grass making bowling elsewhere an impossibility; on the other hand it made fielding an easy affair.  I remember clearly the runs being recorded by notches cut on a stick, a method of scoring which has its place in literature in the match between All Muggleton and Dingley Dell. [62]

It is curious to remember how solitary our life was.  We had literally no boy-friends in the whole neighbourhood; there were plenty of boys within reach but we never amalgamated with them, and were, I imagine, despised by them as outside the pale of Eton-dom.  No opportunity was made for us to learn to shoot; I used to wander with a gun and shoot an occasional hare and various blackbirds, but I never had even the meanest skill, and after suffering miseries of shame at one or two shooting-parties I am glad to think I gave it up.

Fishing there was none in our dry country, and it was only very much later, on the beautiful Dovey in North Wales, that I learned something of the art.

Riding we did learn in a casual, haphazard way, and some of us hunted a little with a mild pack (the Old Surrey) in our bad hunting country—but all this was much later and hardly concerns my present subject.

The best practice I had as a boy was riding p. 63twice or thrice a week (from perhaps my tenth to my twelfth year) to Mr Reed, Rector of Hayes, to be taught Latin and a little arithmetic.  Our ponies were shaggy, obstinate little beasts, who had the strongest possible dislike of their duties.  I remember well how my pony turned round and round, and at last consented to proceed till a new excuse occurred for a bolt towards home.  It was a secret delight to me when one of my brothers was beaten in the pony-fight and was brought ignominiously home.

Mr Reed was the kindest of teachers, and after a short spell of Latin he used to give me a slice of cake and allow me to look at the wonderful pictures in an old Dutch Bible.  Even under the mild discipline of this kindest of men I used to dissolve in tears over my work.

When I was twelve years old, i.e. in the summer of 1860, I went to the Grammar School at Clapham kept by Rev. Charles Pritchard.  I was two years under Pritchard, and when he left [63] I remained under his successor, Rev. Alfred Wrigley, until I went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, 1866.  Wrigley had none of the force of Pritchard, nor had he, I fancy, his predecessor’s gift of teaching.  Mathematics formed a great part of our curriculum, and for these I had no turn.  I am, however, grateful to Wrigley for having made me work out a great many logarithmic calculations which had to be shown up (as he expressed it) in a “neat, tabular p. 64form.”  As I have said in my article on my brother George in Rustic Sounds, my “recollections of George at Clapham are coloured by an abiding gratitude for his kindly protection of me as a shrinking and very unhappy ‘new boy’ in 1860.”

From school I went to Trinity College, Cambridge.  I lodged first with a tailor called Daniells in Bridge Street, nearly opposite to the new chapel of St John’s—the slow rise of which I used to watch from my windows.  Afterwards I moved into rooms on the ground floor to the left of the New Court Gate that leads out into the Backs.  Why the architect made the sitting-rooms look into the Court and all its mean stucco decorations I cannot imagine.  My bedroom looked out on the Backs and its avenue of lime-trees, where the nightingales sang through the happy May nights.

I hardly made any permanent friends till my second year, when I had the good fortune to become intimate with Edmund Gurney and Charles Crawley, both of whom died early.  Crawley was drowned in a boating accident in which he tried in vain to save the women of the party.  Edward Stirling, an Australian, has only recently (1919) died.  I am glad to think that my undergraduate friends (except those removed by death) are still my friends.

Among the Dons who were friendly to students of natural science the first place must be given to Alfred Newton, the Professor of Zoology, who most kindly invited us to come to his rooms in Magdalene any and every Sunday evening.  There we smoked our pipes and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.  We p. 65had the advantage of meeting older members of the University.  It was in this way I became acquainted with G. R. Crotch, of St John’s, who was an assistant in the University Library.  He was a strikingly handsome man with a long silky beard and wonderful eyes.  His passion was Entomology, and he had a great knowledge of the Coleoptera, and used sometimes to take me out beetle-catching, but I never became a collector.  He was eccentric in his habits; for instance, he dressed entirely in black flannel—shirt, coat, and trousers—which were made for him by Brown, the tailor, who was a brother entomologist.  He finally gave up his librarianship and went off beetle-catching to the United States, where he died in what would have been miserable conditions but for the tender care bestowed on him by a complete stranger, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten.  There, too, I occasionally saw Clifford, the well-known mathematician, who died early—also Kingsley on at least one occasion.  I remember him, too, at the New Museums (where I was dissecting some beast or other) reproving me for my white shirt, and telling me that flannel was far more suitable for dissections.  John Willis Clark (who afterwards became Registrary of the University) was then Curator of the New Museums, and encouraged me to work in his department, and I well remember my pride when my preparation of a hedgehog’s inside was added to the Museum.  J. W. Clark was the kindest of men, and I, like many another undergraduate, used to dine with him and his mother at Scrope p. 66House.  There some of us were introduced for the first time to good claret.  I remember Mrs Clark (rather a masterful old lady) saying, “Drink your wine like a good boy and don’t talk nonsense,” as though these precepts contained the whole duty of undergraduate man.  J. W. Clark was the patron and director of the undergraduates’ Amateur Dramatic Society (the A. D. C.), and occasionally took a part himself.  I have a clear recollection of hearing him (attired in red tights) exclaim in his peculiar pronunciation, in which the letters l and r were indistinguishable, “I am the srave of the ramp.”

I had left to the last the man whose kindness towards me as an undergraduate I valued most highly, and whose friendship it is still my good fortune to possess—I mean Henry Jackson, now Professor of Greek, but at that time a Trinity lecturer.  I have an image of him walking up and down his room in Neville’s Court with a pipe in his mouth (which burned more fiercely than did the pipes of other men), and talking with a humour and enthusiasm which were a perpetual delight.  A literary venture, The Tatler in Cambridge, originated among undergraduates under the editorship of the present Canon Mason.  To this I contributed a paper On the Melancholy of Bachelors, which was accepted, chiefly, I think, through the kindness of E. Gurney.  I shall never forget my delight when, on the day of its publication, Henry Jackson came round to my rooms to tell me that he liked it.

I must now return to my more serious p. 67employments.  It was at the suggestion of E. C. Stirling that I became a medical student and began to work for the Natural Sciences Tripos.  In order to get more time for the last-named examination I kept my small stock of mathematics simmering as it were, and managed (without giving much time to the subject) to get a mathematical degree as fifth among the Junior Optimes in 1870.  I had the pleasure of being coached for this examination by James Stuart—the only man, I imagine, who ever made mathematics entertaining and even amusing to an unmathematical pupil.

I then had a clear year in which I could devote myself to Natural Science.  I did not succeed in finding a coach who was of any use to me.  But in Comparative Anatomy I did a fair amount of undirected work: in this way I dissected a good many creatures such as slugs and snails and freshwater mussels, dragonflies, etc.  I have a dim recollection of catching the mussels in the Cam with Gordon Wigan, the son of the celebrated actor—and indeed that kindly personage joined us in one of our boating expeditions.

On leaving Cambridge I went to St George’s Hospital with the intention of becoming a practising physician.  But happily for me the Fates willed otherwise.  The late Dr Cavafy of St George’s Hospital urged me to learn something of Histology, and sent me to Dr Klein, whose pupil I had the good fortune to become at the Brown Institute.  I have elsewhere [67] said something of my debt of gratitude to p. 68Dr Klein.  Under his guidance I produced a paper which served as a thesis for my M.B. degree.  I had another interesting experience during my time at St George’s.  I used to go to the Zoological Society’s dissecting-room, where the late Dr Garrod (the Prosector) allowed me to investigate some of the daily quota of dead animals.  But it was not of any real educational value, I fancy.  Still it may have helped the impetus of Klein’s teaching to suggest that medicine [68a] should be given up and that I should become the assistant to my father.

The old nursery at Down had been turned into a laboratory, and when (on the death of my wife) I came to live in the house of my parents, they converted the billiard-room into a sitting-room for me.

During the following years I went to work under Sachs at Würzburg and afterwards under De Bary at Strassburg.  Sachs was most kind and helpful, and under his direction I contributed a small paper to his Arbeiten.  I made some good friends at Würzburg—Stahl, who is now Professor of Botany at Jena; Kunkel, the Pharmacologist, who died young; the Finlander Elfving, who is now Professor of Botany at Helsingfors; and Goebel, now the well-known Professor of Botany at Munich.  He and I walked side by side to receive our degrees at the 1909 meeting in Cambridge. [68b]  I had the great p. 69pleasure of seeing Elfving on the same occasion, and we have never ceased to correspond, though at irregular intervals.  I had once the satisfaction of receiving Stahl as my guest at Cambridge.  He is still Professor of Botany at Jena, and in spite of rather weak health has published a mass of good work.

I am sorry to think that my relationship with Sachs came to an unhappy ending.  I published what seemed to me a harmless paper, in which I criticised some of his researches.  I wrote to him on the subject but received no answer.  Partly on account of his silence and partly to pay a visit to a friend, I travelled to Würzburg.  I found Sachs in the Botanic Garden; he seemed to wish to avoid me, but I went up to him and asked him why he was angry with me.  He replied: “The reason is very simple; you know nothing of Botany and you dare to criticise a man like me.”  I had no opportunity of replying, for at that moment one of his co-professors addressed him, asking if he could spare a moment.  “Very willingly, Herr Professor,” said Sachs, and walked off without a word to me.  And that was the last I saw of the great botanist.  I was undoubtedly stupid, but I do not think he showed to advantage in the affair.

I continued to work with my father at Down, and in spite of the advantages I gained by seeing and sharing in the work of German laboratories, I now regret that so many months were spent away from him.


Mr Galpin has written an admirable book on old musical instruments.  His knowledge, which is first hand, is the harvest of many years’ research; and, like the best type of learned authors, he has the power of sharing his knowledge with the ignorant.

His book begins with a study of stringed instruments, which occupies about half the book, the remainder being given up to the wind band.

My own experience of instruments of music is confined to the latter division.  I remember as a small boy at school struggling with an elementary flute: or was it a penny whistle?  I believe it was a flute, for I have a dim recollection of pouring water into it before it would sound.  I tried to teach the instrument—whatever it was—to a friend, and wrote down the fingerings by a series of black and white dots, in the manner quoted from Thomas Greeting’s Pleasant Companion, 1675, by Mr Galpin (p. 146).  Then when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old I began under that admirable teacher, the late R. S. Rockstro, to work regularly at the flute.  As a Cambridge undergraduate I remember playing flute p. 72solos at the University Musical Society’s concerts.  And I can still recall the pleasant sound of the applause which on one occasion called for a repetition of my performance.  Since those days I took up the bassoon under the guidance of another admirable teacher, Mr E. F. James.  But nowadays my chief interest is the recorder, which is best known to the unmusical world from the well-known passage in Hamlet.  Of this instrument I shall have something to say in the sequel.  I give these personal details to show how small a right I have to do more than give an abstract of Mr Galpin’s admirable book.

The first instrument dealt with is the harp, the essential feature of which is that each string gives but one sound. [72]  It is not clear to me why the psaltery and dulcimer are separated from the harp, since they also have unstopped strings and therefore unalterable notes.  Whereas the interpolated chapter ii. is concerned with instruments—the gittern and citole—whose tones are alterable in pitch by “stopping,” i.e., altering the length of the vibrating part of the string.  I can only suppose that the author considers that the fact of the gittern and citole being sounded by plucking the strings, brings these instruments into alliance with the harp.  I confess that I should like to have seen Class I. (strings unalterable in tone) including the harp, the rote, the psaltery, dulcimer (Plate I.), the æolian-harp, and the piano.  Then would come a class of instruments some at least of whose strings p. 73produce a variety of tones by stopping, i.e., shortening the vibrating region of the string, and this would include gittern and citole, lute, etc.  But doubtless the author has good reason for his arrangement, and I have not knowledge enough to be his critic.

Plate I.  Psaltery and Dulcimer

At p. 4 (Galpin) is represented the simple Irish harp or lyre which was known as the cruit or crot; it is essentially a harp, although it seems, in its infancy at any rate, to have had but five or six strings.  The name cruit or crot afterwards developed into rotte, and under this name is described a remarkable instrument apparently dating from the fifth to the eighth centuries, which is figured at p. 34 (Galpin).  It was found in the Black Forest in the grave of a warrior, together with his sword and bow, and seems to have been clasped in his arms, as though he had especially valued it.  The true harp, which in its simplest form (Galpin, p. 8) chiefly differs from the rote in shape, [73a] is characterised by the picturesque triangular outline that is so familiar.  It was of Teutonic origin, and Mr Galpin tells an admirable story of a Saxon who disguised himself as a Briton, by playing the rote instead of the harp, which would have revealed his nationality.  In spite of its Saxon parentage the Irish adopted the harp, and a beautiful instrument of the early thirteenth century is preserved at Trinity College, Dublin (Galpin, p. 12).  The Irish for harp is Clairsech, [73b] a word p. 74that reminds me of an Irish friend who used to quote—

“Old Tracy and old Darcy
Playing all weathers on the Clarsy.”

Mr Galpin tells a pleasant story of St Ealdhelm, who was Bishop of Sherborne in the year 705.  When he was about to preach he found the church empty; he therefore took his harp, and “standing on a bridge hard by, soon attracted a considerable crowd by his playing.  Then he delivered his sermon.”

Chapter ii, p. 20, is devoted to the gittern and citole.  In the first-named instrument we have the ancestor of the guitar, which it resembled in its flat back, and in the curving inwards of the vertical sides. [74a]  It has generally been believed that the “waist” thus produced was an adaptation to the use of the bow, but, as the author points out, this form occurs long before the existence of bowed instruments. [74b]  At p. 22 (Galpin) is given an early fourteenth century illustration of a gittern-player, holding in his right hand the plectrum with which he sounds the strings.  The most curious point, however, is the depth of the neck of the instrument, which is pierced by a large hole to admit the left thumb; without this curious device it would apparently be impossible to stop the strings.  On the same plate is given an illustration of the precious gittern at Warwick Castle, believed to date from about 1330, p. 75in which the thumb-hole is more clearly shown.  The guitar, which may be considered a descendant of the gittern, is said to have completely eclipsed its ancestor in the seventeenth century.  And at the present time it, together with the mandoline and the banjo, are the only representatives of the type in every-day use.

Mr Galpin places the citole in the same class as the gittern.  He says that this instrument has been much misunderstood, and since I do not desire to add my quota to the injustice under which this unfortunate instrument suffers, I shall pass on to the mandore and lute.  The essential characteristic of these instruments is that their bodies, instead of having the flat back of the guitar, are rounded.  Though the body is now built of strips of wood or ivory, its form is “reminiscent of the time when the body or resonator consisted of a simple gourd or half-gourd covered with skin.”  In this they resemble the instruments of Oriental races, and the author traces the form of the rebec and mandoline as well as that of the mandore and lute to Persian, Arabic, and Moorish influence in the Middle Ages.

The European lute had at first only four strings, but in the “elaborate instruments of the seventeenth century there were twenty-six or thirty strings to be carefully tuned and regulated.”  No wonder that a lutenist should have been said to spend three-quarters of his existence in tuning his instrument.  The mandore was a small form of lute, and is chiefly of interest because in a yet smaller form it still p. 76survives as the mandoline, which, however, usually has both wire and covered strings, and is played with a plectrum.  To return to the lute, its most obvious characteristic is that the head (in which are the pegs for tuning the strings) is bent at right-angles to the general plane of the instrument.  It is not clear what is the meaning of this curious crook in the instrument, but it is some comfort to the ignorant since it enables us to recognise a lute when we see one.  Henry VIII. and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth are said to have been good lutenists.  The smaller gut strings, called by the pleasant name of minnikins, were easily broken, and a gift of lute-strings was considered a present fit for a queen, and one which the great Elizabeth did not disdain.

There was also an archlute, which in its largest form—six feet in height—was known as the chitarrone.  It had not the rectangular bend in the neck of the ordinary lute; it was also characterised by having four or five free or unstopped strings.  A fine reproduction of Lady Mary Sidney and her archlute faces the title-page of the book.

Mr Galpin (p. 46) quotes from Thomas Mace’s Musick’s Monument, 1676, the proper method of “fretting” a lute or similar instrument.  The frets, or horizontal strings or wires which make cross ridges on the neck of lutes, viols, etc., I had ignorantly imagined to be guides to the beginner as to where to stop the string; but it appears (Galpin, p. 46) that they “add to its tone and resonance by keeping the string from touching the p. 77finger-board too closely.”  The word “fret” is said to be derived from the old French ferretté, i.e., banded with iron. [77a]

PLATE II.  Various stringed instruments

In Mace’s [77b] book above referred to he discourses with a child-like enthusiasm on his favourite instrument.  He does not follow the elder lutenists, whom he describes as “extreme shie in revealing the Occult and Hidden Secrets of the Lute.”  He gives the following examples of “False and Ignorant Out-cries against the Lute”:—

(1) “That it is the Hardest Instrument in the World.

(2) “That it will take up the Time of an Apprenticeship to play well upon It.

(3) “That it makes Young People grow awry.

(4) “That it is a very Chargeable Instrument to keep; so that one had as good keep a Horse as a Lute for Cost.

(5) “That it is a Woman’s Instrument.

(6) “And lastly (which is the most Childish of all the rest), It is out of Fashion.”

p. 78The following extracts from Mace will give some idea of his style and of his method of treating the subject:—

First, know that an Old Lute is better than a New one: Then, The Venice Lutes are commonly Good.  There are diversities of Mens Names in Lutes; but the Chief Name we most esteem, is Laux Maler, ever written with Text Letters: Two of which Lutes I have seen (Pittifull Old, Batter’d, Crack’d Things) valued at 100 l. a piece (p. 48).

“When you perceive any Peg to be troubled with the slippery Disease, assure yourself he will never grow better of Himself, without some of Your Care; therefore take Him out, and examine the Cause (p. 51).

“And that you may know how to shelter your Lute, in the worst of Ill weathers (which is moist) you shall do well . . . to put It into a Bed, that is constantly used, between the Rug and the Blanket; but never between the sheets, because they may be moist with Sweat (p. 62).

“Strings are of three sorts, Minikins, Venice-Catlins, and Lyons (for Basses).

“I us’d to compare . . . Tossing-Finger’d Players to Blind-Horses, which always lift up their Feet, higher than need is; and so by that means, can never Run Fast, or with a Smooth Swiftness” (p. 85).

He says, “You must be Very Careful (now, in your first beginning) to get a Good Habit; so that you stop close to your Fretts, and never upon any Frett; and ever, with the very End of your Finger; except when a Cross, or Full Stop is to be performed” (p. 99).

Plate III.  The Crwth

p. 79Bowed Instruments.

Mr Galpin (p. 75) gives a figure of a man playing a Crowd with a bow, instead of plucking the strings with the fingers as shown in sculptured Irish Crosses.  What makes the figure so especially interesting, is that there is clearly no means of stopping the strings, i.e., of altering the length of the vibrating region, and therefore altering the pitch.  No one, I fancy, would have guessed that the bow was of more ancient lineage than the fiddle.  The finger-board, which transforms the instrument into an undeniable relative of the violin, is known to have existed in the thirteenth century.  It is a striking fact that what is practically a cruit or rotte survived in use until the nineteenth century in this country, in the form of the Welsh crwth or crowd shown on Plate III.  There is a specimen dated 1742 in the Victoria and Albert Museum.  The crwth here figured was made last century by Owain Tyddwr of Dolgelly, an old man who remembered the instrument as it was in his younger days, and took great pleasure in its reconstruction.

The crwth is followed by the rebec, which most of us know better from Milton’s lines—

“When the merry bells ring round
And the jocund rebecks sound”—

than in any more practical manner.  It had a certain resemblance to the lute in its pear-shaped outline and its convex or rounded sound-box, but differs from that instrument in being played with a bow.  p. 80Mr Galpin quotes very appropriately the name of one of the country actors in A Midsummer Night’s Dream—Hugh Rebeck—as suggesting that an everyday audience was familiar with it.

Viols.—The only surviving instrument of this class is the double bass, which is “still frequently made with the flat back and sloping shoulders of its departed predecessors.”  The bass viol was also known as the Viola da Gamba, and this was Sir Andrew Aguecheek’s instrument, who was said to play on the “Viol de Gamboys.”  These instruments—bass and treble—had six strings, and were provided with frets like the guitar.  Their tone is described as “soft and slightly reedy or nasal, but very penetrating.”  It seems that the smaller viols disappeared in England towards the end of the seventeenth century, but the type of viol corresponding to the violoncello “held its own for nearly another hundred years,” when it at last yielded to the more modern instrument.

Under the heading “Concerning the Viol and Musick in general,” Mace writes (p. 231):—

“It may be thought, I am so great a Lover of It [the Lute], that I make Light Esteem of any other Instrument, besides; which Truly I do not; but Love the Viol in a very High Degree; yea, close unto the Lute. . . .

“I cannot understand, how Arts and Sciences should be subject unto any such Phantastical, Giddy, or Inconsiderate Toyish Conceits, as ever to be said to be in Fashion, or out of Fashion.

PLATE IV.  The Tromba Marina

“I remember there was a Fashion, not many p. 81Years since, for Women in their Apparel to be so Pent up by the Straitness, and Stiffness of their Gown-Shoulder-Sleeves, that They could not so much as Scratch their Heads for the Necessary Remove of a Biting Louse; nor Elevate their Arms scarcely to feed themselves Handsomely; nor Carve a Dish of Meat at a Table, but their whole Body must needs Bend towards the Dish.”

And here we must leave Thomas Mace (who with all his oddities is a lovable and genuine writer) and pass on to the “scoulding” violin—to use his own phrase—an instrument he considered as only suitable for “any extraordinary Jolly or Jocund Consort-Occasion.”

The violin, which finally ousted the treble viol, seems indeed to have had a humble beginning in fairs and country revels: but six violins were included in Henry VIII.’s band, where they were played by Italian musicians.  Violins did not rapidly make their way to popularity, and Playford (1660) describes these instruments—rather condescendingly—as “a cheerful and spritely instrument much practised of late.”  He speaks, too, of a bass violin, i.e. the violoncello.

The chapter ends with a description of the tromba marina, which is not marine trumpet, but a curious elongated box-like instrument with a single string, which is sounded with a bow and wakens the harmony of the sympathetic strings within the body of the instrument.  Mr Galpin’s instrument was discovered in an old farmhouse in Cheshire (Plate IV.).

Chapter vi. is chiefly devoted to the organistrum or p. 82hurdy-gurdy (Plate V.).  This is a stringed instrument which differs from the rest of its class by being sounded neither with fingers like the lute nor with a bow like the viol, but by means of a rotating wooden wheel.  The melody string (or strings) is not stopped directly by the finger as in the violin, but by a series of keys manipulated by the performer, who need not necessarily possess a musical ear since the stopping is arranged for him.  The Swedish nyckel-harpa—which I remember to have heard in Stockholm—is the only other instrument in which the strings are stopped by mechanical means.  This instrument differs from the organistrum in the fact that it is sounded by the ordinary fiddle-bow, and not by means of a wheel.  The organistrum is remarkable for having been “in constant and popular use” from the tenth century up to the present day.

Clavichord and Virginal.

The clavichord, the earliest progenitor of the piano, originated in an instrument in which the tangent which struck a given string also acted as a bridge to mark off the length of the vibrating portion and therefore to determine the note produced.  It is remarkable that (p. 115) this type of instrument remained in use until the time of Sebastian Bach, when the principle of “one tangent one string” replaced the more ancient system.

Of the clavichord Mr Dolmetsch (p. 433) writes that its tone is comparable, as regards colour and power, “rather to the humming of bees than to the most delicate among instruments.  But it possesses p. 83a soul . . . for under the fingers of some gifted player it reflects every shade of” his “feelings like a faithful mirror.  Its tone is alive, its notes can be swelled or made to quiver just like a voice swayed by emotion.  It can even command those slight variations in pitch which in all sensitive instruments are so helpful to expression.”

PLATE V. I. Viola d’Amore. 2. Cither Viol. 3. Hurdy-gurdy or Organistrum

The best known among the group of instruments to which the clavichord belongs are the spinet and the harpsichord.  I think that Browning’s musician who “played toccatas stately at the clavichord” must have performed on one of the last-named instruments.  In the spinet and the harpsichord the strings are plucked, and therefore sounded, by small points made of leather or of quill which are under the control of the keyboard.

Mr Galpin (who is always interesting on evolution) points out that the progenitor of the spinet is the plucked psaltery, whereas the piano forte (the earliest form of which appeared about 1709) is a descendant of the dulcimer in which the strings were struck.

Wind Instruments.

One of the most ancient of wind instruments is the panpipe, which used to be familiar in the Punch and Judy show of our childhood, when it was accompanied by another ancient instrument—the drum.  The panpipe consists of a row of reeds of graduated lengths which are closed at the lower end and into which the performer blows, much as we used, as children, to blow into a key and produce a shrill p. 84whistle.  It is illustrated in an Anglo-Saxon Psalter of the early eleventh century, which is preserved in the Cambridge University Library.  The whistle which we have all made in our childhood by removing a tube of bark from a branch in which the sap is rising, is an advance on the panpipes, since it includes a method of producing a thin stream of air which impinges on a sharp edge, whereas in the panpipes we depend on our lips for the stream of air.  These whistles are closed at the lower end, and yield but a single note.  But in the tin penny whistle the tube is pierced by six holes for the fingers, and on this instrument one may hear the itinerant artist perform wonders.  An instrument of this type, known as the recorder, played a great part in the early orchestra.  It differs from the penny whistle in being made of wood, and in having eight instead of six finger-holes; the additional ones being for the left thumb and the little-finger of the right hand.  The recorder seems to have been especially popular in England, indeed it was sometimes known as the fistula anglica, i.e. the English pipe.  The instrument was made in different sizes; and I shall not easily forget the astonishing beauty of a quartette of recorders played by Mr Galpin and his family.  In Plate VI. are shown the great bass recorders, in regard to which the author is careful to point out that the bassoon-like form shown in No. 1 and No. 5 does not alter the pitch of the instrument, which depends on the length of the tube measured from the fipple.

Plate VI.  Recorders

Mr Dolmetsch, in his book p. 85The Interpretation of the Music of the XVIlth and XVIIIth Centuries, p. 457, writes:—

“At the first sound the recorder ingratiates itself into the hearer’s affection.  It is sweet, full, profound, yet clear, with just a touch of reediness, lest it should cloy.”

“The intonation . . . right through the chromatic compass of two octaves and one note is perfect, if you know how to manage the instrument; but its fingering is complicated, and requires study.”

The flageolet is the nearest living relative of the recorder.  What is known as the French flageolet is especially reminiscent of the ancient instrument in having a thumb-hole, or rather two such holes.  It has the pleasant archaic feature of its lowest note being produced by thrusting the little finger of the right hand into the open end of the tube.  The most curious development of the flageolet is found in the double or triple pipes which were made in the closing years of the eighteenth century.  I remember Mr Galpin demonstrating the truth of his assertion that duets and trios can be played on one of these curious instruments.

A much simpler instrument known as the tabor pipe [85] was in general use in the twelfth century.  Its essential feature is that it has but three holes, so that it can be played with one hand, thus leaving the other hand free to accompany the melody on the tabor or small drum hung round the neck of the performer or from his wrist.  Its working compass p. 86is an octave and three notes, though two shrieking higher notes can be produced.  The French form of three-holed pipe is known as the galoubet.  There was also a bass galoubet, which is known from the figures in Praetorius (1618), and from one solitary instrument which has escaped destruction.  Mr Galpin has a copy of it in his great collection, and I have had the pleasure of playing on it.  The instruments of the genus recorder have been finally beaten in the struggle for life by the flageolet, and perhaps especially by the true flute, which Mr Galpin, for the sake of clearness, distinguishes as the cross flute.  It seems to be a mistake to consider the flute as a modern instrument, as it was popular about the year 1500, and is shown in an illuminated MS. of 1344 preserved at Oxford.

The flute as used about 1600 had but six holes, but the D# key for the little finger of the right hand came into use about the end of the seventeenth century, and about 1800 several keys had been added to enable the performer to play with less cross-fingering.

Dolmetsch, op. cit., p. 458, claims that although the one-keyed flute of the eighteenth century has a weak tone, it is more beautiful than the modern flute.

He adds that a flautist has recently studied this instrument, guided by Hotteterre le Romain’s book (1707), and can play more perfectly in tune than “he ever did before upon a highly improved and most expensive modern instrument.”

The concert-flute of the present day is an elaborate p. 87instrument covered with keys, and it has, I believe, been suggested that its tone is injured by this elaboration.  Bass flutes have been made, one 3 ft. 7 ins. in length is mentioned, whose lowest note was an octave below middle C.

Shawms. [87]

The next class of wind instruments dealt with by the author is that of which the oboe and bassoon are typical.  Mr Galpin refers to a reed-pipe with which I am very familiar; it is made from a dandelion stalk pinched flat at one end.  Its principle is that of the oboe.  I well remember admiring its tone as a child, and lamenting its very brief life, for it soon got spoiled.  The reed of serious musical instruments is made of two pieces of cane which are flat at the free or upper end and terminate below in a tube which fits on to the instrument.  This is an ancient type of instrument, for the Roman tibia is believed to have been played with the “double reed,” i.e. of oboe-type.  I may here be allowed to quote from my Rustic Sounds, p. 5: “The most truly rustic instrument (and here I mean an instrument of polite life—an orchestral instrument) is undoubtedly the oboe.  The bassoon runs it hard, but has a touch of comedy and a strong flavour of necromancy, p. 88while the oboe is quite good and simple in nature and is excessively in earnest; it seems to have in it the ghost of a sun-burnt boy playing to himself under a tree, in a ragged shirt unbuttoned at the throat.”  A figure is given (Galpin, p. 159) of a goat playing on a shawm [88] from a carving of the twelfth century at Canterbury.  The name is believed to be derived from calamaula, a reed-pipe, which was corrupted to chalem-elle and then to shawm.  Shawms were made of various sizes, from the small treble instrument, one foot long, to the huge affair, six feet in length.  The name Howe-boie, i.e. probably Haut-bois, was applied to the treble instrument as early as the reign of Elizabeth; while the deeper-toned instruments retained the name shawm.  The bassoon is only a bass oboe rendered less cumbrous by the tube being bent sharply on itself.  A tenor bassoon, known as the oboe da caccia, or teneroon, also existed, and if my memory serves me right, Mr Stone rescued one of these instruments from the band of a London boys’ school.  A teneroon of Mr Galpin’s is shown at p. 168 of his book, where it appears to be about seven-tenths of the size of the ordinary bassoon.

Plate VII.  Pibcorn or Horn-pipe

The next class of wind-instrument is that of which the clarinet is the modern representative.  It has a rich but somewhat cloying tone, and, to my thinking, none of the mysterious charm of the oboe.  It is characterised by a single vibrating plate or reed, and the current of air from the performer’s mouth p. 89passes between it and an immovable surface of wood.  In our country this type of reed was found in a most interesting instrument, the horn-pipe [89a] or pibcorn, which is said to have existed in Wales as late as the nineteenth century.  One of these curious instruments is in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries, and is shown in Plate VII.  It was given to the Society by Daines Barrington, who describes it in the Society’s Archæologia for 1779.  In a Saxon vocabulary of the eighth century the word Sambucus (i.e. elder-tree) is translated swegelhorn.  Now the word swegel was applied to the tibia or leg-bone; it is therefore of remarkable interest to find that, according to an old Welsh peasant, the tibia of a deer should be the best tube for the pibcorn. [89b]  This name, which means pipe-horn, is very appropriate, since the tube of the instrument bears at either end a cow’s horn.  To the upper one the performer applied his mouth.  He had no means of regulating the reed as a clarinet or oboe-player has; the reed was left to its own sweet will, as is also the case with the reeds in another ancient instrument—the bagpipe, to which a few words must be given.

Mr Henry Balfour believes that both these instruments came to us with the Keltic migration from the East.  Or, as Mr Galpin suggests, we may owe the bagpipe to Roman soldiers, “for the tibia utricularis was used in the Imperial army.”  It is quite a mistake to suppose that the bagpipe is in p. 90any special way connected with Scotland.  Illuminated missals of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries show how common the bagpipe was in England.  But the Scots must at least have a share of the credit of preserving the bagpipe from extinction; and the same may be said of another Keltic race, the Breton, in whose land I have heard the bagpipe accompanied by a rough kind of oboe.

Mr Galpin tells me a pleasant story of a bagpipe hunt in Paris.  He discovered, in a shop, an old French musette (bagpipe), the chanter or melody-pipe of which was missing.  He did not buy it until in a two days’ hunt all over Paris he discovered the lost chanter, when he returned to the first shop, triumphantly carried off the musette, and thus became the owner of this rare and beautiful instrument.

The drone, which forms a continuous bass to the “chanter,” was not an original character of the bagpipe, but appeared soon after the year 1300.  A second drone “was added about the year 1400, for it is seen in the ancient bagpipe belonging to Messrs Glen of Edinburgh,” which bears the date 1409.

The Horn and Cornett.

The horn takes its name from the cow’s horn, out of which the instrument was made.  The resemblance includes the tapering bore of this instrument, and also the fact that it is curved. [90]  In the metal p. 91instruments, made in imitation of the natural horn, we find a curvature of about a semi-circle, as in the seventeenth century hunting horn (Galpin, p. 188).  While in the horn of the early seventeenth century shown on the same plate, the tube is curved into many circular coils.

PLATE VIII. I, 2, 3, 4, 5. Cornetts. 6. Serpent. 7. Bass Horn. 8. Ophicleide. 9. Keyed Bugle

The cornett, [91] which was blown like a horn or trumpet, seems to have been successful in mediæval times, because a workable scale was so much more easily attainable with it than in the ordinary trumpet.  In Norway a goat’s horn pierced with four or five holes stopped by the fingers is still in use as a rustic instrument.  This is in fact a cornett which, as early as the twelfth century, was made of wood or ivory, and had a characteristic six-sided form.  It seems to have been popular, and Henry VIII. died possessed of many cornetts.  We hear, too, of two Cornetters attached to Canterbury Cathedral; and the translators of the Bible gave it a place in Nebuchadnezzar’s band.  But the cornett was doomed to destruction in the struggle for life.  In 1662 Evelyn speaks of the disappearance of the cornett “which gave life to the organ.”  Lord Keeper North wrote, “Nothing comes so near, or rather imitates so much, an excellent voice as a cornett pipe; but the labour of the lips is too great and is seldom well-sounded.”  The cornett was given a place in the chorales of Bach and the operas of Gluck after it had become extinct in England.

The bass cornett was known as the serpent from its p. 92curved form, and this character was in fact necessary in order that the performer’s hands might be nearer together.  Mr Galpin writes:—“If not overblown it yields a peculiarly soft woody tone which no longer has its counterpart in the orchestra.”  He quotes from Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree, where the village shoemaker remarks, “There’s worse things than serpents.”  Dr Stone (Dictionary of Music, 1883) wrote:—“There were till a few years ago two serpents in the band of the Sacred Harmonic Society, played by Mr Standen and Mr Pimlett.”  The serpent [92] was driven out of the orchestra by the Ophicleide, which again has been extinguished by the valved Tubas of Adolphe Sax.

Trumpet and Sackbut.

“The story of the trumpet is the story of panoply and pomp,” says Mr Galpin, and goes on to explain how the trumpeters with drummers formed an exclusive guild.  Trumpets served as war-like instruments, but also for domestic pomp.  Thus twelve trumpets and two kettle-drums sounded while Queen Elizabeth’s dinner was being brought in.  That monarch had certainly no excuse for being late for her meals.

The trumpet was originally a long straight p. 93cylindrical tube, but as early as 1300 the tube was bent into a loop, thus combining length with handiness.  This form of the instrument was known as a clarion, a word which has degenerated in our day into a picturesque word for a trumpet.  It was for the clarion that Bach and Handel wrote trumpet parts which, I gather, are almost unplayable on the modern instrument.  The clarion seems to have been soon beaten in the struggle for life by the clarinet, “which, as its name implies, was considered an effective substitute for the high clarion notes.”

The sackbut, i.e. trombone, is an important offshoot from the trumpet.  The essential feature of this splendid instrument is that the length of the tube can be altered at will.  Thus the performer is not—like the trumpeter—confined to one series of harmonics, but can take advantage of a whole series of these accessory notes.

The Organ.

This is one of the most ancient of instruments.  Thus in the second century before our era Ctesibius of Alexandria had a simple type of organ, in which the wind from the bellows was admitted at will into whistle-like tube by keys which the performer depressed with his fingers.  It is a remarkable fact that keys should afterwards have been replaced by cumbersome sliders which had to be pushed in and out to produce the desired note.  But so it was, and the keyboard had to be rediscovered in the twelfth century.  The keys were first p. 94applied to the little portatives, [94a] one of which is figured by Galpin, p. 221, where the organist works the wind supply with one hand and manipulates the keys with the other.  In Galpin, p. 222, a monk is shown playing a simple organ of apparently two octave compass, while another tonsured person is blowing a pair of bellows, one with the left and the other with the right hand.  Another artist is shown by Galpin, p. 226, from a thirteenth century Psalter, who is accompanying a player of the symphony (hurdy-gurdy).  The bellows are blown by the feet of an assistant.

The regal, figured by Galpin at p. 230, was a simple form of organ in which the pipes were not of the whistle-type, but consisted principally of reed-pipes.

Tabors and Nakers.

In my essay on war music [94b] I wrote of the band of a French regiment at the beginning of the war: “When the buglers were out of breath, the drums thundered on with magnificent fire, until once more the simple and spirited fanfare came in with its brave out-of-doors flavour—a romantic dash of the hunting-song, and yet with something of the seriousness of battle. . . .  As I watched these men, so soon to fight for their country, I was reminded of that white-faced boy pictured by Stevenson, striding over his dead comrades, the roll of his drum p. 95leading the living to victory or death.”  I have ventured to quote the above passage in illustration of Mr Galpin’s striking remark that the drum has probably entered more largely than any other instrument into the destinies of the human race.

The historian of musical instruments in the far north has an easy task, since it appears that the Eskimoes confine themselves to the drum, which they sound on all possible occasions, from prosperous huntings to the death of a comrade.

The instruments of the class here dealt with are divided into three types:—

(i.)   The timbrel or tambourine, which is characterised by having only one membrane stretched on a shallow wooden frame.

(ii.)  The drum with two membranes, one at each end of a barrel-shaped frame.

(iii.) The naker or kettle-drum, with a single membrane stretched over the opening of a hemispherical frame.  The tambourine is an extremely ancient instrument since it was known in Assyria and Egypt as well as in Greece and Rome, and it is especially interesting to learn that the Roman tambourine had the metal discs which make so exciting a jingle in the modern instrument.  The mediæval tambourine also had what, in the case of the drum, is called the snare, which is a cord tightly stretched across the membrane, and gives a certain sting to instruments of this class, but now only exists in the drum proper.

p. 96Drum.

An ancient Egyptian drum was discovered at Thebes.  It was a true drum having a membrane at each end of the hollow cylinder which made the frame, and, what is more remarkable, it had the braces or system of cords by which we still tighten the drum-membranes.

The drum “suspended at the side of the player and beaten on one head only” became, with the accompaniment of the fife, the earliest type of military music. [96a]  Mr Galpin concludes [96b] by quoting what Virdung (1511) had to say of drums: “I verily believe that the devil must have had the devising and making of them, for there is no pleasure nor anything good about them.  If the noise of the drum-stick be music, then the coopers who make barrels must be musicians.”

Kettle-drums. [96c]

Anyone who has seen the band of the Life Guards must have admired (as I do) the splendid personage who plays the kettle-drums.  These are not of the ordinary drum-form, being hemispherical instead of cylindrical, and having but a single membrane.  They have a right to be called musical instruments since their pitch is alterable: [96d] I have often admired p. 97the drummer in an orchestra tuning his instrument at a change of key.  One sees him leaning over his children like an anxious mother until he gets his large babies into the proper temper.

The earliest record of kettle-drums in this country is in the list of Edward I.’s musicians, among whom was Janino le Nakerer.  Henry VIII. is said to have sent to Vienna for kettle-drums [97] that could be played on horseback in the Hungarian manner.  In England, Handel was the first to use the kettle-drum in the concert-room, and he used to borrow from the Tower the drums taken from the French at the battle of Malplaquet in 1709.

Cymbals and Chimes.

The cymbals are of a great antiquity, being depicted on ancient Assyrian monuments, and “in the British Museum may be seen a pair of bronze cymbals which once did duty for the sacred rites of Egyptian deities.”  They are figured in English MSS. of the thirteenth century, and Mr Galpin gives a figure of a cymbal-player (as shown in a fourteenth century MS.) vigorously clashing his instrument.  There was also an apparatus known as a jingling johnny, figured by Galpin at p. 258.  It was a pole bearing a number of bells, hence the name which it doubtless deserved.  The crescents with which it is decorated are an inheritance from its forbears of the Janizary bands.

p. 98Mr Galpin ends his book with a very interesting chapter on the Consort, i.e. Concert, which, however, does not lend itself to that abbreviation to which the rest of the book has been mercilessly subjected.


I do not pretend to be a specialist in the study of plant-names.  But there is something to be said for ignorance (in moderation), since it brings reader and writer more closely together than is the case when the author knows the last word in a subject of which the reader knows nothing.  But we need not consider the case of the blankly ignorant reader, and I can undertake that (for very sufficient reasons) I shall not be offensively learned.

The fact that language is handed on from one generation to the next may remind us of heredity, and the way in which words change is a case of variation.  But we cannot understand what determines the extinction of old words or the birth of new ones.  We cannot, in fact, understand how the principle of natural selection is applicable to language: yet there must be a survival of the fittest in words, as in living creatures.  Language is a quality of man, and just as we can point to big racial groups such as that which includes the English, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic and German peoples, so their languages, though differing greatly in detail, have certain well-marked resemblances.  p. 100Of course I do not mean to imply that language is hereditary, like the form of skull or the colour of the hair.  I only insist on these familiar facts in order to show that the wonderful romance inherent in the great subject of evolution also illumines that cycle of birth and death to which existing plant-names are due.

In the case of living creatures we can at least make a guess as to what are the qualities that have made them succeed in the struggle for life.  But in the case of the birth and death of words we are surrounded with difficulties.

In some instances, however, it is clear that plant-names were forgotten with the growth of Protestantism.  The common milk-wort used to be called the Gang-flower [100a] because it blossoms in what our ancestors called Gang Week,—“three days before the Ascension, when processions were made . . . to perambulate the parishes with the Holy Cross and Litanies, to mark their boundaries, and invoke the blessing of God on the crops.” [100b]  Bishop Kennet says that the girls made garlands of milk-wort and used them “in those solemn processions.”  As far as dates are concerned the name is fairly appropriate, for Rogation Sunday is 27th April, i.e. 10th May, old style, and, according to Blomefield, [100c] from eight p. 101years’ observation, the milk-wort flowers on 15th May.  The milk-wort is a small plant, and the labour of making garlands from it must have been considerable.  There must have been a reason for using a blue flower, and I gather from a friend learned in such matters that blue is associated with the Virgin Mary, to whom the month of May is dedicated.

In this case we can perhaps understand why the name should have all but died out with the disappearance of these old ceremonies.  But why should the name milk-wort have survived?  Its scientific name, Polygala, is derived from Greek and means “much milk,” and the plant was supposed to encourage lactation.  It is an instance of names being more long-lived than the beliefs which they chronicle.

There are, of course, many plants called after saints.  Thus the pig-nut (Bunium) is called St Anthony’s nut, because, as quoted by Prior, “The wretched Antonius” was “forced to mind the filthy herds of swine.”  The buttercup (R. bulbosus) was called St Anthony’s turnip from its tubers being said to be eaten by pigs.

St Catherine’s flower (Nigella) (generally known as love-in-a-mist or devil-in-a-bush) is called after the martyr from the arrangement of its styles, which recall the spokes of St Catherine’s wheel.  I do not p. 102mean the well-known fireworks but the instrument of torture on which the saint died.  St James’ wort is the yellow daisy-like flower Senecio Jacobæa, known as rag-wort.  It is said to have been used as a cure for the diseases of horses, of which he was the patron.

In the old herbals the cowslip is called St Peter’s wort from the resemblance of the flowers to a bunch of keys—no doubt the keys of heaven, of which Peter is custodian.

A number of plants were called after the Virgin Mary: these were doubtless known as Our Lady’s flowers, but their names have been corrupted in Protestant days by the omission of the pronoun.

Lady’s fingers (Anthyllis vulneraria) is a common enough plant bearing a head or tuft of yellow flowers.  Each has a pale swollen calyx, and these are, I suppose, the fingers on which the name is founded, though I find it said that it originates in the leaflets surrounding the flower head.

Butcher’s broom is known in Wales as Mary’s holly, the latter half of the name referring to its red berries and prickly leaves.  It was used to clean butcher’s blocks.

Lady’s slipper is so named from the strikingly shoe-like form of the flower.  It is excessively rare in England, but in Southern France one may see great bunches gathered for sale, over which, by the way, I have often mourned.

Lady’s tresses (the orchid Spiranthes) is so named from the curious twisted or braided arrangement of the flowers.

p. 103Lady’s smock (Cardamine pratensis) bears a name immortalised in Shakespeare’s song:—

“When daisies pied and violets blue,
And lady’s smocks all silver white,
And cuckow-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight.”

I suspect that the poet called them silver white to rhyme with delight, for they are distinctly lilac in colour.  Nor are they especially smock-like—many other flowers suggest a woman’s skirt equally well—but this is a carping criticism.

Lady’s bedstraw seems to have been so called from the yellow colour of one or more kinds of Galium.

Lady’s bower is Clematis vitalba, now known as traveller’s joy.  Anyone exploring Seven Leases Lane, which runs along the edge of the Cotswolds, will travel in continuous joy, for the lady’s bower converts many hundred yards of hedge into continuous beauty.

Pulmonaria has been called the Virgin Mary’s tears, from the pale circular marks on its leaves.  The blue flowers have been supposed to typify the beautiful eyes of the Virgin, while the red buds are the same eyes disfigured with weeping.

Many plants are named after the devil; there is, for instance, a species of Scabiosa called devil’s bit, because that eminent personage bit the root short off, and so it remains to this day.  His object seems to have been to destroy the medicinal properties the plant was supposed to possess.

We now pass on to plants flowering on certain p. 104dates, such as Saints’ days or other church festivals.  The snowdrop has been called the Fair Maid of February, because it was supposed to flower on Candlemas Day, 2nd February, which would be 15th February according to the modern calendar.

The name St John’s wort, which we habitually apply to several species of Hypericum, is correctly used only for H. perforatum.  Its English name is said to have been given from its flowering on St John’s Day, 24th June.  This would be 7th July, new style, and I find that Blomefield’s average of eight annual observations is 4th July.

I had been wondering why there seemed to be no name for St John’s wort suggested by the glands, which show as pellucid dots when the leaf is held up to the light.  And in Britten and Holland’s Dictionary of English Plant Names, 1886, I found that H. perforatum was called Balm of Warrior’s Wound, which must refer to the innumerable stabs it exhibits, though they are more numerous than most warriors can endure.  A closely related plant is Hypericum androsæmum, known as Tutsan, said to mean toute saine, as curing all hurts.  In Wales, as I well remember forty years ago, the leaves were kept in bibles.  They are, as I learn from a Welsh scholar, known as Blessed One’s leaves.

The common yellow wayside plant Geum urbanum is known as Herb Benet, because, like St Benet, it had the power of counteracting the effect of poison.

The sweet-william is said by Forster to be so named from flowering on St William’s Day, 25th June.  But Blomefield’s date is 17th June, which would p. 105be 4th June, old style.  A much more probable explanation is that William is a corruption of the French name œillet, a word derived from the Latin ocellus, a little eye.  So that the ancestry of the name runs thus:—Ocellus—œillet—Willy—William.

Oxalis, the wood-sorrel, was known as hallelujah, not only in England but in several parts of the Continent, from its blossoming between Easter and Whitsuntide, when psalms were sung ending in the word hallelujah.


Some plant-names take us back to historical personages.  The Carline thistle is named after Karl the Great, better known as Charlemagne.  There was a pestilence in his army, and in answer to his prayer an angel appeared and shot, from a crossbow, a bolt, which fell on the Carline thistle with which the Emperor proceeded to conquer the pestilence.

Another magical arrow-shot is described in well-known lines in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act ii., scene I).  Oberon speaks of Cupid loosing his “love shaft smartly from the bow” at “a fair vestal throned in the west.”  Cupid missed his mark, and the poet continues:—

“Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it Love-in-idleness.”

The name Love-in-idleness should be Love-in-idle if the metre could have allowed it.  This means love-in-vain: witness the Anglo-Saxon bible, where occurs p. 106the phrase to take God’s name “in idle.”  The flower referred to by Shakespeare is doubtless the pansy.

Some names recall the work of more modern people.  Thus the wild chamomile was known in the Eastern counties as Mawther; and this, as all lovers of Dickens will remember, means not a mother but a girl; and the name is in fact a translation of the Greek Parthenion into the Suffolk dialect.

The elder used to be known as the bour-tree.  I fear that the name is extinct in England, but a Scotch friend tells me that he was familiar with it in his youth.  I love this name because it is associated in my mind with the words of Meg Merrilees [106] in Guy Mannering, the first English classic in which I took pleasure.

“Aye, on this very spot the man fell from his horse—I was behind the bour-tree bush at the very moment.  Sair, sair he strove, and sair he cried for mercy; but he was in the hands of them that never kenn’d the word!”

The actual origin of the name is, however, not romantic; it is said to mean bore, and to refer to the fact that tubes were made from it by boring out the pith.  It seems possible that such tubes were, in primitive times, used to blow the fire, and this would explain the name elder, which seems to mean kindler.

The dwarf elder, a distinct species, though not connected with an individual, commemorates a race, p. 107being known as Dane’s blood.  It grows on the Bartlow Hills, near Cambridge, where tradition says that Danes were killed in battle.

I add a few names as being picturesque, though without any literary associations.

There is an old name for the shepherd’s purse, viz., clapperde-pouch, which is said to allude to the leper who stood at the cross-ways announcing his presence with a bell and clapper, and begged for pennies to put in his pouch, which is typified by the seed capsule.  Another name for the plant is mother’s heart, [107] and is no doubt referable to the shape of the seed pod.  Children in England, also in Germany and Switzerland, used to play at the simple game of asking a companion to gather a pod, and then jeering at him for having plucked out his mother’s heart.

The name columbine comes from the flower’s obvious resemblance to a group of doves, and its Latin name aquilegia, meaning a collection of eagles, is a nobler form of the same idea.

Dead-man’s fingers is a fine uncanny name for the innocent Orchis maculata, and refers to its branching white tuber.

Garlick is a very ancient name, being derived from the Anglo-Saxon gar, a spear, and leac, a plant; in the name house-leek the word still bears its original meaning of a plant.

Tragopogon, the goat’s beard, which closes its flowers about mid-day, was once known as go-to-bed-at-noon.

p. 108The pansy has been called Herb trinity from the triple colouring of its petals.  In Welsh, and also in German, the pansy is called stepmother.  The lower petal is the most decorative, and this is the stepmother herself.  On examining the back of the flower it will be seen that she is supported by two green leaflets, known as the sepals.  These are called her two chairs.  Then come her two daughters, less smart, and having only a chair apiece.  Lastly, the two step-daughters, still more plainly dressed and with but one chair between them.

Polemonium, from its numerous leaflets arranged in pairs, has received the picturesque name of Jacob’s ladder.  I remember the pleasure with which I first saw it growing wild in the hayfields of the Engadine.

Polygonatum, i.e. Solomon’s seal, has been christened Scala cœli, the ladder to heaven, on the same principle.  The name Solomon’s seal is not obviously appropriate till we dig up the plant, when the underground stem is found marked with curious scars, which, however, should be pentagonal if they are to represent Solomon’s pentacle.

Herb twopence (Lysimchia nummularia) is so named after the round leaflets arranged in pairs along its creeping stalk.  I do not know why Inula conyza is called ploughman’s spikenard, but it is a picturesque name.

Everyone knows the garden plant touch-me-not, so called from the curious irritability of its pods, which writhe in an uncanny way when we gather them.  This quality is expressed twice over in the Latin name Impatiens noli-me-tangere.  But there is a p. 109forgotten old English name which pleases me more, viz., quick-in-the-hand, that is to say alive-in-the-hand.  This use of the word survives in the familiar phrase “the quick and the dead.”

The English name of Echium vulgare is viper’s bugloss—this I had always imagined referred to the forked tongue (the style) which projects from the flower.  But it is said to be so named from the seeds resembling a viper’s head.  This is certainly the case, and what can be the function of the little knobs on the seed, which represent eyes, I cannot imagine.  The name bugloss is derived from the Greek and means ox-tongue—no doubt in reference to the plant’s rough leaves.

Corruptions.—Another and greater class of names comprises those which are corruptions of classical names or of those unfamiliar in other ways.

A well-known example is daffodil, which was originally affodyl, a corruption of asphodel, a name of unknown meaning, originally given to the iris, and transferred to narcissus.  A very obvious corruption is aaron, which has been applied to Lords and Ladies, whose scientific name is Arum.  An incomprehensibly foolish instance is bullrush for pool-rush, i.e. water rush.  This name has at least the merit of supplying material for that riddle of our childhood in which occur the words “when the bull rushes out.”

Carraway is another obvious corruption of its Latin name Carum carui.  In the ancient Schola Salernitana, as I learn from Sir Norman Moore, is a punning Latin line, “Dum carui carwey non sine p. 110febre fui” (“When I was out of carraway I was never free from fever”).

Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) was originally dagwood, so called because it was used to make dags or skewers: doubtless the same word as dagger.  According to a Welsh tradition dogwood was the tree on which the devil hung his mother.  I cannot resist the pleasure of quoting this fact, although it does not bear on anything in particular.

Eglantine, a name used for the wild rose, is with much probability derived from the Latin aculentus, prickly, which became in French aiglent.  Hence came the French names of the plant eglantier and our eglantine.

Gooseberry is believed not to have anything to do with a goose, but to come from the Flemish Kroes, meaning a cross, a comparison said to be suggested by the triple thorns, though of course a fourth thorn is needed to make this simile accurate.  It is hard to see why a plant which grows wild in England, and seems by some botanists to be considered indigenous, should have a Flemish name.  Prior, our chief authority, asserts that the early herbalists constantly took names from continental writers, and I think his judgment may be trusted.  The problem of the derivation of the word gooseberry may at least serve to illustrate the difficulty of the subject.

The name Hemlock, which nowadays has a wicked poisonous sound, has in truth a very innocent origin.  It is compounded of hem, i.e. haulm, a stalk, and lock, or leac, a plant, thus signifying merely a plant with a stem.  Jack of the Buttery, a name applied to p. 111Sedum acre, is said to be a corruption from bot, i.e. an internal parasite, and theriac, by which was meant a cure for that evil.  The last-named word has turned into “Jack,” and bot has grown into “buttery.”

Lamb’s tongue is said to be a name for Plantago media; but this must, I think, be a corruption of land tongue, which is highly appropriate to the tongue-like leaves lying so closely appressed to the soil that no blade of grass grows under them, as though they were determined to spite any one who should root them up by disfiguring his lawn with naked patches.  But still better evidence is forthcoming in the fact that my old Cambridgeshire gardener always called them land tongues.  Why the Anglo-Saxons used the name way bread for the plantain I do not see: the fact is vouched for by Cockayne in his book entitled Leechdoms.

In Gloucestershire the plantain is called the fire-leaf, a name which records the belief that plantains are a danger in the way of heating hay-stacks.

The word madder, i.e. the name of the plant which supplies the red dye for the trousers of our French allies, has a curious history.  Madder is derived from mad, a worm, and should therefore be applied to cochineal, the red colouring matter produced by the minute creature called a coccus.  But still more confusion meets us: the word vermilion which is now used for a red colour of mineral origin, is derived from vermis, a worm, and should therefore also be applied to cochineal.  The word pink, one of the most familiar of plant-names, has a curious origin, being simply the German p. 112Pfingst, a corruption of Pentecost, i.e. the fiftieth day after Easter.

The tendency to make some kind of sense, or at least something familiar, from the unfamiliar, comes out in name service-tree (Pyrus torminalis).  It has nothing to do with service, being simply a corruption of cerevisia, a fermented liquor.  The fruit was used for brewing what Evelyn in his Sylva, chap. xv., declares it to be, an incomparable drink.  Prior says that the French name of the tree, cormier, is derived from an ancient Gaulish word courmi, which seems to suggest the modern Welsh cwrw, beer.

Tansy (Tanacetum) is believed to be simply a corruption of athansia, immortality.  I gather that we got the name through the French athanasie, in which, of course, the th is sounded as a t.  In all probability it was originally applied to some plant more deserving of being credited with immortality.

A few miscellaneous names may here be given.  Thorough wax is a name for Chlora perfoliata, also known as yellow wort.  Its leaves are perfoliate, i.e. opposite and united by their bases so that the stem seems to have grown through a single leaf.

Kemps, i.e. warriors, was a name of the common plantain, with which children used to fight one against the other.  I remember this as being an unsatisfactory game because one so constantly killed one’s own kemp instead of the enemy.

Herb Paris is simply the plant with a pair of leaves; it should, however, have been described as having four leaves.  Thus the name has nothing to p. 113do with Paris, the capital of France.  But some plants have names of geographical origin; the currants or minute grapes used for making cakes are so called because they come from Corinth.  So that we are quite wrong in applying this same name to the familiar companion of the gooseberry in our gardens.  In the same way damsons are so called because they are said to have come originally from Damascus.

The name Canterbury bell has a very interesting origin, namely, that bells were the recognised badge of pilgrims to the shrine of St Thomas at Canterbury.  One of these bells was found in the bed of the Thames when old London Bridge was pulled down.  It is said to be “about the size of an ordinary handbell, with a flat top, on which is an open handle, through which a strap could easily be passed to attach it to a horse’s collar.”  This bell is known to have been associated with Canterbury by the inscription Campana Thome on the outer edge.  The pilgrims seem to have journeyed cheerfully.  It is written that some “pilgrims will have with them bag-pipes; so that in everie towne they come through, what with the noise of their piping, and the jangling of their Canterburie bells, etc., they make more noise than if the king came there away.”

Dutch mice is a name for Lathyrus tuberosus.  Gerard says that the plant is so named from the “similitude or likeness of Domesticall Mise, which the blacke, rounde, and long nuts, with a peece of the slender string hanging out behind do represent.”  From this description one would expect to see p. 114mouse-like pods, but it is the tubers which give the name to the plant.  This is clearly visible in Bentham’s illustration; [114] I hope the artist was unaware of the name when he made the drawing—but I have my doubts.  The specimen from Cambridgeshire (which I owe to the kindness of Mr Shrubbs of the University Herbarium) are not especially mouse-like.

The names shepherd’s needle and Venus’ comb have been given to an umbelliferous plant, Scandix Pecten.  The teeth of the comb are represented by what are practically seeds.  These are elongated stick-like objects covered with minute prickles all pointing upwards.  I do not know how the seeds germinate under ordinary conditions, but I learn from Mr Shrubbs that they are dragged into the holes of earthworms, as my father describes in the case of sticks and leaf-stalks.  Unfortunately for the worms, the prickles on Venus’ needles do not allow the creatures to free themselves, and they actually die in considerable numbers with the needles fixed in their gullets.


“Few, if indeed any, have ever known plants as he did.”


Joseph Dalton Hooker was born in 1817 and died in 1911; and of these ninety-four years eighty-one included botanical work, for at thirteen “Joseph” was “becoming a zealous botanist”; and Mr L. Huxley records (ii., 480) that he kept at work till a little before his death on 10th December 1911, and that although his physical strength began to fail in August, yet “till the end he was keenly interested in current topics and the latest contribution to natural science.”  So far as actual research is concerned, it is remarkable that he should have continued to work at the Balsams—a very difficult class of plants—at least till 1910.  Mr Huxley has wisely determined to make his book of a reasonable size, and the task of compressing his gigantic mass of material into two volumes must have been a difficult one.  He has been thoroughly successful, [115b] and no aspect of Sir p. 116Joseph’s life is neglected, the whole being admirably arranged and annotated, and treated throughout with conspicuous judgment and skill.

In an “autobiographical fragment” (i., p. 3) Sir Joseph records that he was born at Halesworth in Suffolk, “being the second child of William Jackson Hooker and Maria Turner.”  He was not only the son of an eminent botanist, but fate went so far as to give him a botanical godfather in the person of Rev. J. Dalton, “a student of carices and mosses and discoverer of Scheuchzeria in England.”  It was after Mr Dalton that Hooker was named, his first name, Joseph, commemorating his grandfather Hooker.  In 1821 the family moved to Glasgow, where Sir William Hooker was appointed Professor of Botany.  It was here that Sir Joseph, at the age of five or six, showed his innate love of plants, for he records [116]:—

“When I was still in petticoats, I was found grubbing in a wall in the dirty suburbs of the dirty city of Glasgow, and . . . when asked what I was about, I cried out that I had found Bryum argenteum (which it was not), a very pretty little moss which I had seen in my father’s collection, and to which I had taken a great fancy.”

While still a child his father used to take him on excursions in the Highlands, and on one occasion, on returning home, Joseph built up a heap of stones to represent a mountain and “stuck upon it specimens of the mosses I had collected on it, at heights relative to those at which I had gathered them.  This was the dawn of my love for geographical botany.”

p. 117Sir Joseph records that his father gave him a scrap of a moss gathered by Mungo Park when almost at the point of death.  It excited in him a desire of entering Africa by Morocco, and crossing the greater Atlas.  That childish dream, he says, “I never lost; I nursed it till, half a century afterwards, . . . I did (with my friend Mr Ball, who is here by me, and another friend Mr G. Maw) ascend to the summit of the previously unconquered Atlas.”

In 1820 William Hooker was appointed to the newly founded Professorship of Botany at Glasgow.  Of this his son Joseph writes, “It was a bold venture for my father to undertake so responsible an office, for he had never lectured, or even attended a course of lectures.”  With wonderful energy he “published in time for use in his second course, the Flora Scotica in two volumes.”  Sir Joseph’s mother was Maria, daughter of Dawson Turner, banker, botanist and archæologist, so that science was provided on both sides of the pedigree.

It would seem that Sir Joseph’s mother was somewhat of a martinet.  When Joseph came in from school he had to present himself to her, and “was not allowed to sit down in her presence without permission.”

In 1832, Joseph, then fifteen years of age, entered Glasgow University, being already, in the words of his father, “a fair British botanist” with “a tolerable herbarium very much of his own collecting”; he adds, “Had he time for it, he would already be more useful to me than Mr Klotzsch” [his assistant].

It was in 1838 that Hooker got his opportunity, p. 118for it chanced that James Clerk Ross, the Arctic explorer, was in 1838 visiting at the Smiths of Jordan Hill.  In order that Joseph might meet Ross, both he and his father were invited to breakfast.  The meeting ended in Ross promising to take him as surgeon and naturalist.  There seems to have been a little innocent jobbery with folks in high places, and it fortunately turned out that the expedition was delayed so that Joseph had the opportunity of spending some time at Haslar Hospital.

The expedition seems to have been fitted out with astonishing poverty.  Seventy years later he wrote, “Except some drying paper for plants, I had not a single instrument or book supplied to me as a naturalist—all were given to me by my father.  I had, however, the use of Ross’s library, and you may hardly credit it, but it is fact that not a single glass bottle was supplied for collecting purposes; empty pickle bottles were all we had, and rum as a preservative from the ship’s stores.”

It is interesting to find Ross, in his preliminary talk with Hooker, saying that he wanted a trained naturalist, “such a person as Mr Darwin”—to which Hooker aptly retorted by asking what Mr Darwin was before he went out.

I imagine that Hooker was lucky in being taken on Ross’s voyage as a naturalist, since the primary object of the expedition was to fill up “the wide blanks in the knowledge of terrestrial magnetism in the southern hemisphere.”

It seems like a forecast of what was to be the chief friendship of his life, that Darwin’s p. 119Naturalist’s Voyage should have been one of the books that inspired him to join in the voyage of the Erebus and Terror.  Hooker “slept with the proofs under his pillow, and devoured them eagerly the moment he woke in the morning.”  Much earlier he had been stirred by Cook’s voyages, and, like Darwin, was fired by Humboldt’s Personal Narrative.  While at sea his work was largely zoological, and the tow-net was kept busy.  But on 24th August 1841, he writes to his father of his great wish to devote himself “to collecting plants and studying them . . . but we are comparatively seldom off the sea, and then in the most unpropitious seasons for travelling or collecting.”  He speaks, too, of his wish to see the end of the voyage, in order that he might devote himself to botany.

The voyage had its dangers: in March 1842, during a storm, the Terror collided with the Erebus, and for nearly ten minutes the interlocked ships drifted towards a huge berg: the Erebus remained rolling and striking her masts against the berg, but managed by the “desperate expedient” of “sailing stern first down wind” to escape destruction.

Hooker writes to his father, 25th November 1842: “The Barrier, the bergs several hundred feet high and 1–6 miles long, and the Mts. of the great Antarctic continent, are too grand to be imagined, and almost too stupendous to be carried in the memory.”

In a letter to his mother he describes seeing at Cape Horn “a little cairn of stones raised by the officers of the Beagle.”  And again he writes, “Clouds p. 120and fogs, rain and snow justified all Darwin’s accurate descriptions of a dreary Fuegian summer.”  He speaks of Darwin’s Naturalist’s Voyage as “not only indispensable but a delightful companion and guide.”  There is plenty of interesting matter in the account of Hooker’s voyage, but the above fragments of detail must here suffice.  The Erebus and Terror reached Woolwich on 7th September 1843.

Having safely returned to England, the next problem was what was to be Hooker’s permanent occupation.  Nothing, however, was fixed on, and in the meantime he fulfilled “his intention of seeing the chief Continental botanists, and comparing their gardens and collections with those of Kew.”

His first visit was to Humboldt, at Paris, who turned out “a punchy little German,” whereas he had expected “a fine fellow 6 feet without his boots.”  Of the great man he says, “He certainly is still a most wonderful man, with a sagacity and memory and capability for generalising that are quite marvellous.  I gave him my book [Flora Antarctica], which delighted him much; he read through the first three numbers, and I suppose noted down thirty or forty things which he asked me particulars about.”  Humboldt was then seventy-six years of age.  Hooker’s impression of the Paris botanists was not favourable; he speaks of their habit of telling him of the magnitude of their own researches, “while of those of their neighbours they seem to know very little indeed.”  Of Decaisne, however, he speaks with warm appreciation.  He would have been surprised if a prophet p. 121had told him that he was to be instrumental in bringing out an English version of Decaisne’s well-known book.

In 1845 Hooker acted as a deputy for Graham, the Professor of Botany at Edinburgh.  In May he wrote to his father, “I am lecturing away like a house on fire.  I was not in the funk I expected, though I had every reason to be in a far greater one.”  Finally, when Graham died, Balfour, the father of the present holder of the office, was elected professor, and Hooker was fortunately freed from a post that would have been a fatal tie to his career.

But happier events followed; he became engaged to Frances, daughter of Professor Henslow.  Sir William spoke of the affair with a certain pomposity: “I believe Miss Henslow to be an amiable and well-educated person of most respectable though not high connections, and from all that I have seen of her, well suited to Joseph’s habits and pursuits.”  Their engagement was a long one, and their marriage could not take place till after his Indian journey, which was the next event of importance in his career.

On the voyage out, he was fortunate in becoming known to Lord Dalhousie, and the friendship built up in the course of the journey and afterwards in India “showed itself in unstinted support of Hooker.”  It was, however, “a personal appreciation of the man rather than of the scientific investigator.”  Indeed, Lord Dalhousie, “a perfect specimen of the miserable system of education pursued at Oxford,” had a “lamentably low opinion” of science.

At Darjiling began Hooker’s “lifelong friendship p. 122with a very remarkable character, Brian Hodgson,” [122a] administrator and scholar, who had “won equal fame as Resident at the court of Nepal and as a student of Oriental lore.”  Mr L. Huxley points out that “if the friendship with Lord Dalhousie provided the key that opened official barriers and made Hooker’s journeyings possible, the friendship with Hodgson more than anything else made them a practical success.”

I shall not attempt to follow Hooker through his wanderings—only a few scattered references to them are possible.  It is pleasant to read that when Mr Elwes visited Sikkim twenty-two years after Hooker, he found that the Lepchas almost worshipped him, and he was remembered as a learned Hakim, an incarnation of wisdom and strength.

The most exciting adventure of Hooker and his fellow-traveller was their imprisonment in Sikkim, where their lives were clearly in danger, and they were only released when “troops were hurried up to Darjiling” and “an ultimatum dispatched to the Rajah.” [122b]

For the rest of his botanical journeyings he had the companionship of Thomson, who had been his fellow-student, and, like himself, was the son of a Glasgow professor.  A letter to his father (undated) gives an idea of the wonderful success of his Indian travels: “It is easy to talk of a Flora Indica, and Thomson and I do talk of it, to imbecility!  But p. 123suppose that we even adopted the size, quality of paper, brevity of description, etc., which characterise De Candolle’s Prodromus, and we should, even under these conditions, fill twelve such volumes at least.”

The usual shabbiness [123] of governments towards science is well illustrated (p. 344) in the case of Hooker:—“His total expenditure was £2200; the official allowances were £1200: the remainder was contributed from his own and his father’s purse.”

In 1855 Joseph began his official life at Kew on being appointed assistant to his father.  And ten years later, on Sir William’s death, he succeeded as a matter of course to the Directorship.

Shortly before this, i.e. in 1854, he was the recipient of an honour greatly coveted by men of science, namely the award of the Royal Medal.  He is characteristically pleased for the sake of the science of Botany rather than for himself, and refers to the neglect that botany has generally experienced at the hands of the Society in comparison with zoological subjects.  His own success p. 124characteristically reminds him of what he considered a slight to his father, viz., that he had not received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society.  This, the highest honour which men of science can aspire to, is open not merely to Britons but to all the world, and I should doubt whether Sir William had ever been high in the list of possible recipients.

We are now approaching the great change wrought in the scientific outlook of the world by the Origin of Species.  In November 1856, after reading Darwin’s MS. on geographical distribution, Hooker wrote that though “never very stubborn about unalterability of specific type, I never felt so shaky about species before.”  It must be remembered that throughout the companionship of Hooker and Darwin the latter was a convinced evolutionist.  He writes in his autobiography that in 1838, after reading Malthus on Population, he was convinced of the origin of new species by means of natural selection.  Throughout the close intercourse which subsisted for so many years between Hooker and Darwin, in which the views afterwards put forth in the Origin of Species were discussed, Hooker seems not to have been a convinced evolutionist.  His conversion dates apparently from 1858, when the papers by Darwin and Wallace were read at the Linnean Society.  This has always appeared to me remarkable, and T. H. Huxley [124] has said with regard to his own position:—“My reflection, when I first made myself master of the central idea of the p. 125‘Origin’ was, ‘How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!’”

After the publication of the Origin of Species Hooker wrote to Darwin, [125] “I have not yet got half through the book, not from want of will, but of time—for it is the very hardest book to read, to full profit, that I ever tried—it is so cram-full of matter and reasoning. . . .  Somehow it reads very different from the MS., and I often fancy that I must have been very stupid not to have more fully followed it in MS.”

Whatever Hooker may have been he was not stupid, and though nowadays it is easy to feel surprise that his long-continued familiarity with Darwin’s work had not earlier convinced him of the doctrine of evolution by means of natural selection, we must ascribe it rather to his early education in the sacrosanct meaning of the word species.

I think it must have been roughly about the time of the publication of the Origin of Species that my earliest memories of Sir Joseph Hooker refer.  I clearly remember his eating gooseberries with us as children, in the kitchen garden at Down.  The love of gooseberries was a bond between us which had no existence in the case of our uncles, who either ate no gooseberries or preferred to do so in solitude.  By a process of evolutionary change the word gooseberry took on a new meaning at Down.  Hooker used to send Darwin some especially fine bananas grown in the Kew hothouses, and these were called Kew gooseberries.  It was characteristic p. 126of my father to feel doubts as to whether he ought to receive Royal bananas from a Royal garden.  I wish I could remember Hooker romping with us as children, of which he somewhere speaks.

It was about this time that Darwin had a fancy to make out the names of the English grasses, and Hooker wrote, “How on earth you have made out 30 grasses rightly is a mystery to me.  You must have a marvellous tact for appreciating diagnosis.”  It was at this time that one of Darwin’s boys remarked in regard to a grass he had found:—“I are an extraordinary grass-finder, and must have it particularly by me all dinner.”  Strange to say he did not grow into a botanist.

Hooker’s letters at this time impress me with the difficulty he met with in adapting his systematic work to the doctrines of evolution.  He gives the impression of working at species in a puzzled or discontented frame of mind.  Thus on 1st January 1859, he writes to a fellow-botanist:—“What I shall try to do is, to harmonise the facts with the newest doctrines, not because they are the truest, but because they do give you room to reason and reflect at present, and hopes for the future, whereas the old stick-in-the-mud doctrines of absolute creations, multiple creations, and dispersion by actual causes under existing circumstances, are all used up, they are so many stops to further enquiry.”

A few days later he continues to the same correspondent: “If the course of migration does not agree with that of birds, winds, currents, etc., so much the worse for the facts of migration!”  On p. 127the whole it seems to me a remarkable fact that Hooker’s conversion to evolution was such a slow affair.  As Mr Huxley points out, “The partial light thrown on the question in fragmentary discussions was not enough, and until 1858–59, after the consolidation of Darwin’s arguments in the famous Abstract [The Origin of Species], Hooker . . . worked avowedly on the accepted lines of the fixity of species, for which he had so far found no convincing substitute.”

It is pleasant to read Darwin’s warm-hearted words: [127a] “You may say what you like, but you will never convince me that I do not owe you ten times as much as you can owe me” (30th Dec. 1858).

Hooker’s importance in the world was ever on the increase, and this had also its usual concomitant drawbacks.  Huxley wrote to him [127b] on 19th December 1860: “It is no use having any false modesty about the matter.  You and I, if we last ten years longer—and you by a long while first—will be representatives of our respective lines in the country.  In that capacity we shall have certain duties to perform, to ourselves, to the outside world, and to Science.  We shall have to swallow praise, which is no great pleasure, and to stand multitudinous bastings and irritations.”  And this was doubtless a true prophecy for both the friends.

Hooker’s work—both his botanical research and duties of a more public character—was ever on the increase.

In the first category comes the Genera Plantarum, a gigantic piece of work begun with the co-operation p. 128of Bentham in the ’60’s, and continued until 1883.  The aim of this celebrated publication was no less than to give a revised definition of every genus of flowering plants.  If this had been the only publication by the two friends, it had been enough to found a high and permanent place in the botanical world.  But as far as Hooker was concerned, it may almost be said to have been carried out in his spare moments.  It should be remembered that for part of this period he was aided in the management of the Gardens by Sir William Thiselton-Dyer, who began as Hooker’s Private Secretary and was then made Assistant Director. [128a]

The Presidency of the Royal Society, which Hooker held 1873–78, was clearly a great strain, but he carried out the work (which is in fact that of a ministry of science) with conspicuous success.

In January 1873 he wrote to Darwin:—“I quite agree as to the awful honour of P. R. S. . . . but, my dear fellow, I don’t want to be crowned head of science.  I dread it—‘Uneasy is the head, etc.’—and my beloved Gen. Plant. will be grievously impeded.”  It gives some idea of the strain of his work as a whole when we find him writing [128b] to Darwin (Jan. 14, 1875): “I have 15 Committees of the R[oyal] S[ociety] to attend to.  I cannot tell you what a relief they are to me—matters are so ably and quietly conducted by Stokes, Huxley, and Spottiswoode that to me they are of the same sort of relaxation that metaphysics are to Huxley.”

He speaks, [128c] too (1874), of the annual conversazione p. 129as “a tremendous affair. . . .  How I did pity the President of the United States.”  I am reminded of an American caricature of the President of the United States with red, swollen fingers, inscribed:—“The hand we have shaken so often.”  With regard to other honours, he declined at once the K.C.M.G.; he then began to dread a K.C.B.; finally he was trapped into the K.C.S.I., an honour which most men would desire quite as much as Hooker longed to decline it.

In 1873 Hooker made a series of experiments on the digestion and absorption of food by certain insectivorous plants, notably Nepenthes, with the object of helping Darwin in his work on that subject.

We must return a year or two to deal with a matter which, as Mr L. Huxley remarks, “ravaged and embittered” the period 1870–72—namely, his conflict with Ayrton, the First Commissioner of Works in Gladstone’s Government.  Mr L. Huxley, like a clever musician, gives a touch of Ayrton’s tone in the opening phrases of his composition.  At a grand festivity in honour of the Shah of Persia this sovereign was unaccountably anxious to meet the Commissioner of Works.  Ayrton was at supper, and bluntly responded, with his mouth full of chicken, “I’ll see the old nigger in Jericho first!”

He began to show his quality by sending an “official reprimand to the Director of Kew.”  This, the first received in twenty-nine years’ service, was based “on a misapprehension.”  Ayrton’s aim seems to have been to compel Hooker to resign and convert Kew Gardens into a public park.

p. 130In 1871 Hooker casually discovered from a subordinate “that he himself had been superseded . . . in one of his most important duties—namely, the heating of the plant-houses.”  It would take too long to enumerate the endless acts of insolence and folly which marked Ayrton’s treatment of Hooker.  A full statement of the case was drawn up and signed by a small body of the most distinguished scientific men of the day, and after a debate in the House of Commons, Mr Ayrton was kicked upstairs “from the Board of Works to the resuscitated office of Judge Advocate General.”  I remember an anecdote which illustrates Ayrton’s stupendous ignorance of the great department over which he was called to rule.  Hooker was taking Ayrton round the Gardens when they met Mr Bentham, who happened to remark that he had come from the Herbarium.  “Oh,” said Ayrton, “did you get your feet wet?”  For the official ruler of Kew there was no difference between a Herbarium and an Aquarium.

This period has pleasanter memories, for it was in 1873 that Huxley, much out of health and “heavily mulcted” by having to pay the costs of an unsuccessful action brought against him by a man of straw, was persuaded to accept from a group of personal friends a sum of £3000 to clear his financial position, Hooker wrote to Darwin, “I am charmed by Huxley’s noble-minded letter.”

In 1874 Mrs Hooker died, leaving six children, of whom three still required care.  Hooker wrote later to Darwin from Nuneham (ii., p. 191): “I am here on two days’ visit to a place I had not seen p. 131since I was here with Fanny Henslow [Mrs Hooker] in 1847.  I cannot tell you how depressed I feel at times.  She, you, and Oxford are burnt into my memory.”  Here occurs, in a letter from Mrs Bewicke, some account of Hooker’s method of dealing with his family.  She gives the impression (though clearly not intentionally) that Hooker rather worried his children.  She speaks of the many questions he asked them at meals and the pleasure he took in their success in answering.  She adds, “When we drove into London with him, he would tell us the names of the big houses and their owners, and then expect us to know them as we drove back.”  This confirms my impression that Hooker was not quite judicious in his manner of educating or enlightening his children.  I have a general impression of having sympathised with them in their difficulties.

In 1876, Hooker was happily married to Hyacinth, widow of Sir William Jardine; and about the same time Sir William Thiselton-Dyer married Sir Joseph’s daughter.

The Index Kewensis, which unites the names of two friends, was carried out at Kew, with funds supplied by Darwin.  It was in fact a completion of Steudel’s Nomenclator, and was published in four quarto volumes in 1892–95.  The MS. is said to have weighed more than a ton and comprised about 375,000 entries.  Hooker, with wonderful energy and devotion, read and criticised it in detail. [131]

p. 132In 1885, Hooker resigned his position as Director at Kew, and henceforward lived at the Camp, Sunningdale, his “Tusculum” among the pine-woods as Mr Huxley puts it, where he remained, ever hard at work, for twenty-six years.

He was still astonishingly vigorous; at eighty-two he was “younger than ever,” though at ninety-three he confessed to being lazy in his old age.

In 1885 and subsequent years he was, as I gratefully remember, employed in helping me in the Life and Letters of Charles Darwin.  I could not have had a kinder or wiser collaborator.

Hooker’s unaffected modesty came out again about this period.  In 1887 he was awarded the Copley Medal of the Royal Society, an honour which is the pinnacle of scientific ambition, and is open to foreigners as well as British subjects.  He wrote in regard to the award, “I never once thought of myself as within the pale of it.”  And in a letter to W. E. Darwin, “The success of my after-dinner homily at the R. S. is to me far more wonderful than getting the Copley.  You . . . can guess my condition of two days’ nausea before the dinner, and 2 days of illness after it.  I am not speaking figuratively.”

We find Hooker here and there slashing at contemporary methods of education.  For instance, in regard to the mass of public school boys: “Not one of them can now translate a simple paper in p. 133Latin or Greek, or will look into a classical author, or listen to the talk about one.”  Mathematicians fared no better.  He wrote in 1893:—“What you say of A, B, and C does not surprise me.  They are ne plus ultra mathematicians, and have not a conception of biological science, and in fact are only half-intellects (I suppose I deserve to be burned).”

It is pleasant to find that Hooker allowed himself time to indulge his love of art.  He was especially fond of old Wedgwood ware, and corresponded with William Darwin—a fellow amateur.  In 1895, he allowed the same friend to become the owner of some old Wedgwood ware; and when the sale was completed Hooker speaks of its being a relief “to feel that the crockery is going back where it should have gone by rights.” [133]  Elsewhere (ii., p. 360) Hooker discourses pleasantly on the perfect adaption to its end of the old Wedgwood ware.  An old teapot, for instance, avoids all the faults of the modern article, in lifting which “you scald your knuckles against the body of the pot”; then the lid shoots off and you scald your other hand in trying to save it; the tea shoots out and splashes over the teacup; lastly the “spout dribbles when you set the pot down.”  All these sins are provided against in the old Wedgwood teapot.

The Flora of British India having been finished, he was asked to complete the handbook to the Flora of Ceylon, interrupted by the death of Trimen, and this occupied him for three years.  He was then led to what was to be his final piece of work, namely, a p. 134study of the difficult group of the Balsams (Impatiens), and he certainly was not coloured by what he worked in, for the whole stock of his admirable patience was needed for this difficult research.  His perseverance was a by-product of his noble enthusiasm.  In 1906, when he was eighty-nine years of age, he writes enthusiastically to a friend in the East expressing his longing for more Balsams, and concluding, “I do love Indian Botany.”  And in 1909 he hears that the Paris Herbarium had overlooked forty sheets of Indo-Chinese specimens—and writes, “This is like a stroke of paralysis to a man approaching his ninety-third year, but it is no use grumbling, my eyes are as good as ever, and my fingers are as agile as ever, and I am indeed thankful.”

The Life of Hooker is enriched by a striking essay from the pen of Professor Bower.  He points out (ii., p. 412) that “few, if indeed any, have ever known plants as he did.  Such knowledge comes only from growing up with them from earliest childhood.”  Professor Bower adds that Hooker “shared with Darwin that wider outlook upon the field of Science that gave a special value to the writings of both”; and he adds, “The Himalayan Journals ranks with Darwin’s Voyage of theBeagle’.”

When More Letters of Charles Darwin was in preparation, Hooker was appealed to for assistance, and wrote a characteristically kind letter (1st Feb. 1899) to one of the editors:—

“I will gladly help you all I can; so have no scruples. . . .  You are right to make the book uncompromisingly scientific.  It will be greatly valued.  p. 135I am getting so old and oblivious that I fear I may not be of much use.”

And a few weeks later (24th Feb. 1899):—

“I had no idea that your father had kept my letters.  Your account of 742 pp. of them is a revelation.  I do enjoy re-reading your father’s; as to my own, I regard it as a punishment for my various sins of blindness, perversity, and inattention to his thousand and one facts and hints that I did not profit by as much as I should have, all as revealed by my letters.”

In 1907 he received the Order of Merit, the Insignia being conveyed to him by Colonel Douglas Dawson from the King.  I had the honour of being the only person present on the occasion, though why Sir Joseph allowed me this pleasure I cannot guess.  I remember Colonel Dawson in vain trying to persuade Sir Joseph not to see him to his carriage at the door.  I have, too, a picture of Sir Joseph fidgeting round the room afterwards, unwillingly wearing the collar to please his family.

In 1908 he took the chief part in the fiftieth anniversary of the Darwin-Wallace papers of 1858.  He characteristically begged the Darwins to tell him if they entertained “the smallest doubt of the expediency or propriety of telling the public the part” which he took on that historic occasion!

He was also the chief guest at the 1909 celebration at Cambridge of the centenary of Darwin’s birth.  I recollect him wandering about at the evening reception, quite unconsciously the object of all eyes.  Unfortunately, Hooker was not present p. 136at the banquet, where, as Mr L. Huxley says, “Mr Balfour’s historic speech was only eclipsed by the sense of personal charm in Mr W. E. Darwin’s reminiscences of his father” (ii., p. 467).

It is delightful to find Hooker in 1911 vigorously corresponding with Dr Bruce, a “brother Antarctic.”  He writes to Bruce, 20th February 1911, “I return herewith the proof-sheets, which I have perused with extraordinary interest and an amount of instruction and information that I never expected to receive at my age” (Life, ii., p. 478).  It is touching that in extreme old age the first work that occupied his youth should still find so clear an echo in his vigorous old age.

Mr Huxley records (ii., p. 480) that though Sir Joseph “kept at work till but a little before the end,” his physical strength began to fail in the late summer; but his mental powers were undimmed.  He died in his sleep on 10th December 1911, and was buried (as he had desired) near his father’s grave at Kew.

p. 137A GREAT HOSPITAL [137a]

Dr Moore writes in his preface: “The History is a gift from me to St Bartholomew’s, and I hope that the labour of investigating historical events, of meditating upon them, and of finally writing the book in such hours as my profession allowed during more than thirty years, may be taken as a proof of the gratitude I feel to the noble hospital with which my whole professional life has been connected.”

The book seems to me eminently worthy of its subject and of its learned author. [137b]  As a record of the 800 years during which the Hospital has existed it naturally contains an enormous mass of detail, and this means that the book is physically very big.  The first volume is of 614 quarto pages, and the second of 992 pages.  The index contains at least 20,000 entries.

The Hospital and the Priory of St Bartholomew were the first buildings erected on the open space of Smithfield.  The foundation took place in 1123, and Rahere, the founder, was the first Prior.  He is p. 138said to have been of lowly race, and to have made himself popular in the houses of nobles and princes “by witcisms and flattering talk.”  Then he repented of such a mode of life and made a pilgrimage to Rome to obtain forgiveness.  On his way back he had a vision of St Bartholomew, by whom he was directed to found a church in Smithfield.

It seems that “no part of the hospital as built by Rahere is now standing, but within the present building, which covers the original site, there still remains one thing which was there in his time.  It is a legal document which his eyes beheld, and which was sealed in his presence.  This charter is written on vellum in the clear hand-writing of the first half of the twelfth century.”  The seal shows a “turreted building, which is probably the Priory of St Bartholomew’s as it looked in the first twenty years of its existence.”

The two parts of an indented chirograph have been preserved in the hospital, which give (i., p. 239) a view of the state of agriculture in Essex in the reign of King John.  Mention is made of fields of wheat, rye, barley, oats and beans; of oxen, horses, of brew-house and barn.  Rent was paid in kind and sent by water to the hospital quay, which may have been on the River Fleet and therefore nearer to the hospital than a landing-place on the Thames.  The Fleet river, as Dr Moore happily points out (i., p. 246), is now shut up in a tubular dungeon, “as if to remind it of all the unhappiness it had passed by in the Gaola de Flete from the time” when the prisoners watched “the ships passing up p. 139it with corn for St Bartholomew’s Hospital . . . to the days when the body of Samuel Pickwick was confided to the custody of the tipstaff, to be by him taken to the Warden of the Fleet Prison, and there detained until the amount of the damages and costs in the action of Bardell against Pickwick was fully paid and satisfied.”

The author never fails to make interesting use of the driest of charters.  Thus in the reign of King John a person with the pleasant name of Adam Pepercorn grants to the hospital ten shillings quit-rent for some land in Grub Street, a region full of unhappy memories.  Dr Moore quotes passages from Johnson, Swift, and Goldsmith to show that the name Grub Street should have been protected by such associations from any change; but nothing is sacred, and Grub Street is now known as Milton Street.

The author (i., p. 279) asks whether the brethren of St Bartholomew’s made any medical studies, and points out they may well have read parts of the Liber Etymologiarum by St Isidore of Seville, who flourished a.d. 601.  The book is a general summary of knowledge in Isidore’s day, and few religious houses in England were without a copy.

I like the facts in the region of domestic economy which are given.  For instance, that in 1229 Richard of Muntfichet was ordered by Henry III. to give “six leafless oaks for the hospital fire.”  We want to know whether they were the King’s oaks, or was Muntfichet forced to supply the wood?  If Dr R. W. Darwin (father of Charles Darwin) had then p. 140been King of England he would have ordered apple-trees, for these he considered much superior to all other fuel.  The reader is constantly meeting interesting stories.  Thus Bishop Roger Niger was, in the year 1230, celebrating mass in St Paul’s when a great thunderstorm burst over the church and the congregation fled in terror.  But Roger and one deacon were not to be frightened, and went on with the Mass.

In the 13th Century John of Marsham (i., p. 390) made oath that he would carry through the affairs of Alan of Culing at the Court of Rome.  Did John die on his journey, or did he fail in his suit?  He never claimed the charter which he left at the hospital, where it may still be seen.

A charter recording a grant by the Master of St Bartholomew’s to the Bishop of Bath is preserved in St Paul’s; Sir Norman Moore says (i., p. 392), “It was pleasant to find this original document in the charter room of the cathedral, where mine was probably the first hand from St Bartholomew’s Hospital which had touched it since it received the seal of William the master and the brethren, six hundred and seventy years ago.”

I cannot resist quoting (i., p. 412) one more of the many touching and interesting episodes with which the history of St Bartholomew’s abounds:—

Cecilia, a widow, devoted herself to the altar of St Edmund and received a wedding ring.  When she was dying (1251), a Dominican father, giving her the last sacrament, noticed the ring and said, “Take off that ring, lest she die so decked out.”  Cecilia p. 141roused herself and said she would offer the ring “before the judgement seat of God my betrothed.”

It is interesting to find that surnames were beginning to be established in the reign of Henry III.  Thus a certain Thomas Niger is described as the son of Walter Niger. [141]

There are innumerable facts given in the history of St Bartholomew which illustrate the permanence of the London streets.  Thus in a document of 1256 is mentioned a little lane going towards the church of St Mary Staining Lane.  The little lane is easily found at this day leading from Wood Street to a small churchyard, on a stone in the wall of which is cut “Before the dreadful fire of 1666, here stood the church of St Mary Staining” (i., p. 441).

A document quoted (i., p. 454) is of interest in regard to the value of money in mediæval times; the following extract shows what in the reign of Henry II. was considered a serious sum.  The hospital owed the butcher eleven pounds, and the master and brethren agreed to pay it in eight years and a quarter by a rent charge on a house.

The reader of Sir Norman Moore’s book is continually coming across unexpected facts.  For instance, that St James’ Palace is on the site of what, in the reign of Henry III., was known as the Hospital of St James.

On 15th June 1253, St Bartholomew’s Hospital obtained from Henry III. two important charters, p. 142one confirming them in their possessions, the other in their rights and privileges.  The gift was made, among other reasons, for the soul “of King Henry my grandfather.”

The author succeeds in conveying to his readers the personal interest which he evidently feels in the writers of the deeds of which he makes such good use.  Thus (i., p. 477) he quotes Maelbrigte, who made a copy of the later Gospels at Armagh in the time of Rahere, as writing “at the foot of a very small page of vellum in a minute and exquisite hand, ‘If it was my wish I could write the whole treatise like this,’ thus handing down to succeeding ages a scribe’s pride in his art.”  Again in a charter copied into the hospital cartulary the last witness is “Master Simon, who wrote this charter.”

The author (i., p. 485) has occasion to refer to a grant by Stephen of Gosewelle of certain lands.  And this reminds him how he heard Dickens read the trial in Pickwick.  He says, in “almost every part I can recall his emphasis and the tone of his voice.—‘Mrs Bardell shrunk from the world and courted the retirement and tranquillity of Goswell Street.’ . . .  Very few know that this thoroughfare was the street of a hamlet, extra barram de Aldredesgate.”

In a charter probably belonging to the earlier half of the reign of Henry III., a witness, Sabrichet, “has a name which survives in Sabrichetestead or Sabstead, the native pronunciation of Sawbridgeworth.”  In the out-patient room a patient said that he came from Sawbridgeworth.  The physician, [142] p. 143who had been instructed by Henry Bradshaw, remarked that the patient did not know how to pronounce the name of his own home.  On this the patient exclaimed, “Oh, I know it is Sabstead, but I thought the gentleman would not understand.”

Names have a fascination for me, and I cannot resist quoting the name of Henry Pikebone, who, I hope, pronounced it Pickbone, and might well have been one of Falstaff’s men.  We meet (p. 510) with a reference to John of Yvingho, which is said to have suggested Ivanhoe to Walter Scott.  I regret to say that John was a fishmonger.  Elsewhere we meet another pleasing name, Cecilia Pidekin, but unfortunately she is not known in any other way than as the recipient, by a will of 1281, of a chemise and a little brass pail.  There are innumerable points of interest in the matter of names.  Thus the author points out that Shoe Lane has nothing to do with shoes nor indeed with lanes; it is a corruption of the solanda or prebend through which it passes.

The author often helps us to realise the appearance of the inhabitants of St Bartholomew’s.  Thus (p. 551) the Bishop of London in his ordinance of 1316 settled that “those of the brethren who were priests were to wear round cloaks of frieze or other cloth, the lay brethren shorter cloaks; the sisters tunics and over-tunics of grey cloth, these not to be longer than to their ankles.”  This last regulation is curious.  We should have expected the limitation to have been applied to shortness rather than to length.

p. 144Walter of Basingbourne [144] was Master of the Hospital during the greatest epidemic of plague which “the Western world had experienced since the time of Justinian.”  It is generally known as the Black Death, and was the same disease as that which terrified London in 1665, and the epidemic which has destroyed nearly nine millions of people in India since 1894.

Speaking (i., p. 584) of the Charter House, Sir Norman says: “Our hospital . . . saw the noble foundation of Thomas Sutton built, and became familiar with its brethren in their black cloaks and with the gown boys.”  He quotes appositely enough Thackeray’s well-known words on the death of Colonel Newcome:—

“And just as the last bell struck, a peculiar sweet smile shone over his face, and he lifted up his head a little, and quickly said ‘Adsum,’ and fell back.  It was the word we used at school when names were called, and lo he, whose heart was as that of a little child, had answered to his name, and stood in the presence of his Master.”

In 1381 Wat Tyler and his mob sacked and burnt the Temple and the Priory of Clerkenwell.  A few days later the brethren could see from their walls the blow struck by Walworth the Mayor, the fall of Tyler from his horse, and the courageous behaviour of King Richard.  Wat Tyler was carried into the hospital, but the Mayor went in and brought him out and had him beheaded.  Simon of Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, was beheaded by the rebels.  p. 145Sir Norman Moore once asked a patient whence she came, and she answered “from Sudbury in Suffolk.”  Dr Moore told his students the story of Simon’s death, and added that his head is said to be “preserved to this day at Sudbury.”  The woman raised herself in bed and said, “My father keeps it.”  Simon’s tomb at Canterbury has been opened, and was found to contain a headless body.

During the mastership of William Wakering, who died in 1405, and that of Sutton, John Mirfeld flourished in the priory of St Bartholomew and wrote his Breviarium Bartholomei, which may “fairly be regarded as the first book on medicine connected with St Bartholomew’s Hospital.”

The brethren had no watches, and had to measure “the time for heating fluids or making decoctions by reciting certain psalms and prayers.”  I remember to have heard Sir Norman say how he demonstrated to his pupils the efficacy of the words which our ancestors prescribed for the cure of epilepsy.  Their magic depended on the fact that they required some minutes to recite, and this allowed the patient to recover from his fit.

I did not expect to find any evidence in regard to Falstaff, but the following passage (ii., p. 2) shows that he must have been damped (in two senses) on a memorable occasion [145]:—“In the year 1413, on the ninth day of the month of April, which day was Passion Sunday, and a very rainy day, the coronation of Henry V. took place at Westminster, at which coronation I, Brother John Cok, who have recorded p. 146that royal coronation for the refreshing of memory, was present and beheld it.”

Sir Norman says (ii., p. 40):—“I was present at the coronation of King George V., and watched the splendid assemblage gradually filling Westminster Abbey, . . . and heard the shouts of ‘God save King George!’ . . . and saw the King in his crown, with the orb in his left hand and the sceptre in his right, walk in solemn procession down the nave. . . .  It was a solemn as well as a splendid sight.  More than once during the day I thought of John Cok, the brother of St Bartholomew’s beholding five centuries ago within the same walls and under the same noble vault, the coronation of the future victor of Agincourt. . . .”

John Cok is a valuable witness as regards the history of the hospital, especially as to the mastership of John Wakeryng, who held office for forty years.  Cok became Rentar of the Hospital, and the chief work of his life was the writing of the Cartulary (which he called a Rental), recording rents due to the hospital, deeds of gift, papal bulls, and other documents.  Cok’s book (dated 1456) is a large volume written in Latin on 636 leaves of vellum and enclosed in an ancient binding of oak boards covered with leather.

In a transaction of 14th June 1423 is the first appearance of the arms at present used by the hospital (ii., p. 16), namely, party per pale argent and sable a chevron counter-changed.  It was probably Wakeryng’s coat of arms, but ended by being regarded as that of the hospital.  The author p. 147suggests that the chevron “might symbolise the hospital roof, while the equally divided and counter-changed argent and sable suggested that each patient admitted had an even chance of recovery or of death.”

In 1432 arrangements were made for a water-supply to the hospital from Islington (Iseldon); and the “waste of water at the Cisterne” was to be conveyed “to the Gailes of Newgate and Ludgate for the reliefe of the prisoners.”

Cock Lane, near the hospital, has, I fear, no connection with brother John Cok (ii., p. 53); it was so called from the shops of the cooks who prepared refreshments for the crowds who came to Smithfield.  It was at the end of Cock Lane that the fire of London stopped in 1666, but it is better known as the scene of the Cock Lane ghost.

Sir Richard Owen, who had been a student at St Bartholomew’s, told Dr Moore (ii., p. 54) a grim story of Cock Lane.  It was there that the hospital authorities hired a house for the reception of the dead bodies of criminals hung at Newgate.  “Owen was in a room on the first floor with Sir William Blizard, the President, who was attired in court dress as the proper costume for an official act.  They heard the shouts of the crowd and then the noise of an approaching cart, which turned down Cock Lane and stopped at the door.  Then came the heavy steps of the executioner tramping up the stairs.  He had the body of a man who had been hanged on his back, and entering the room, let it fall on a table. . . .  Sir William Blizard with a p. 148scalpel made a small cut over the breast-bone, and bowed to the executioner.  This was, I suppose, the formal recognition of the purpose for which the body had been delivered.  The rumbling of the cart, the contrast between the stiff figure of Sir William Blizard in his court dress and the executioner in coarse clothes, and the thud of each dead body on the table remained in Owen’s memory to the end of his days; and his skill in telling the story has made me remember it nearly every time that I have walked down Cock Lane.”

On 1st March 1711, a piece of literature destined “to be famous as long as English is read, was published near the end of Duck Lane in Little Britain.”  This was the first number of the Spectator, and “all London read it and enjoyed it, from the motto to the end.”  The author (ii., p. 63) imagines Mr Addison walking down Duck Lane the Wednesday evening before its appearance, from Mr Buckley’s in Little Britain where he had corrected his last revise.

Sir Norman Moore adds: “For me . . . Duke Street, Little Britain, has innumerable memories of twenty-one happy years.  I lived there as a student and as house physician, and then as Warden of the College of St Bartholomew’s.”  He adds that his election as Warden was his first professional success, which was followed by a place on the permanent staff of the hospital.  It was the home of his early married life, and here his eldest child was born.  He need not have apologised (as he does); such details will surely please all sympathetic readers.

p. 149There is an interest in even the modern inhabitants of Little Britain.  We hear of dealers in gold lace and gold leaf, and also a representative of that rare genus the teapot-handle maker.  These handles could not be worked on a lathe, and had to be sawn out of the ivory.  Dr Moore learned that in all London there was but one other teapot-handle maker: he felt what a favour it was when the great man mended a fan for Mrs Moore.

It is pleasant to meet with the well-known lines from Wordsworth’s poem of “Poor Susan”:—

“Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.”

I regret to say that our author quotes only to criticise, since he denies that the mists of Lothbury are visible in Cheapside.

In 1535 the hospital estate was valued at £305, 6s. 7d. according to one authority, and at £371, 13s. 2d. by another.  St Bartholomew’s was then the third hospital in London in order of wealth.  Henry VII.’s Hospital in the Savoy and the New Hospital of Our Lady outside Bishopsgate were richer (ii., p. 125).

The Act of Dissolution was passed in 1536, and the property of the hospital was given into the King’s hands in 1537.  Thus the “old order, which had existed for more than four hundred years, was at an end, and the hospital was in the eye of the law vacant and altogether destitute of a master, and of all fellows or brethren” (ii., p. 126).

“Augustinians, Benedictines, Carthusians, Gilbertines, Franciscans, Dominicans, and more, all were p. 150banished from their ancient homes. . . .  St Bartholomew’s Hospital was one of the few places where the injured tree of charity began to put forth new branches, and soon flourished again” (ii., p. 148).

The King, after five years’ delay, granted, on 23rd June 1544, [150] letters patent reconstituting the hospital for its original uses.  William Turges, the King’s Chaplain, was the first Master, and “the body corporate was to be called ‘The Master and Chaplains of the Hospital of St Bartholomew in West Smithfield, near London.’”  The grant did little for the poor, but it prevented the destruction of St Bartholomew’s and carried on its existence.

The figure of Henry VIII. is above the Smithfield Gate of the hospital.  A full-length portrait of him hangs at the end of the Great Hall.  He is also represented in a window of the hall handing the letters patent to the Lord Mayor and citizens.  “Thus,” says the author, “do we commemorate this destroying King, who might have taken away all the estate of St Bartholomew’s, but only took a small portion of it” (ii., p. 161).

The constitution under which the hospital is ruled was established in 1547, and confirmed, with an alteration in but one important particular, in 1782.  “Most of the offices created by the Deed of Covenant of December 1546, and the letters patent of January 1547, exist at the present day.  The treasurer, the almoners, the physician, the surgeon, the rentar, the steward, the matron and sisters, the porter bearing a figure of St Bartholomew on his staff of office, and p. 151the beadles with silver badges engraved with the hospital arms, are all parts of the present life of the hospital” (ii., p. 191).

Beside the grave benefactors of the hospital we hear of serio-comic personages who remind us of the curious lunatics recorded by de Morgan in his Budget of Paradoxes.  Thus in 1774 Mr W. Gardiner offered £2000 to St Bartholomew’s “as a sacrifice for God’s having put it in his power to overturn Sir Isaac Newton’s system” (ii., p. 245).

From 1547 the treasurer was “a very important officer, but the president also took an active part in the affairs of the hospital.”  But now the treasurer is the responsible head of the administration.

In 1518 the College of Physicians was founded by Henry VIII. (ii., p. 408) on the advice of Dr Thomas Linacre.  Its active existence began in his house in Knightrider Street.  The most pious and the most learned men of England were Linacre’s intimate friends, and the “example of his life, as felt in the College of Physicians, continues a living force to this day” (ii., p. 411).

Dr John Caius (ii., p. 412) was a devoted follower of Linacre; he was born 1510, went to Cambridge in 1529, and in 1533 was elected Fellow of Gonville Hall.  In 1539 he went to Padua, where Vesalius, the founder of modern anatomy, was Professor.  In 1547 Caius was admitted a Fellow of the College of Physicians, and not long after he came to live within St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Caius wrote on the sweating sickness in 1552, and his work was printed near St Bartholomew’s.  “Thus p. 152were the proofs of the first medical monograph in the English tongue, and, indeed, the first book written by an English physician . . . on a particular disease, corrected in St Bartholomew’s” (ii., p. 418).

Caius was in 1555 elected President of the College of Physicians, to which he presented their silver caduceus with four serpents at its head, a book of statutes, and a seal.  In 1557–69 he was engaged in the refoundation and building at Cambridge of what was to be known as Gonville and Caius College.  On his death his viscera were buried in St Bartholomew’s the Less, while the rest of his body was placed in an alabaster tomb in the chapel of his college with the inscription: “Fui Caius.”

We meet with many proofs of the consideration shown by the authorities towards the patients.  For instance (ii., p. 279):—

13th March 1568.—“This day it is graunted by the courte that Griffen Davye shall departe forthwith into his countrye, and also that he shall have 20s. in his purse to bringe him home in consideracion that he is lame and impotent.”

Again (ii., p. 293), “30th April 1597.—Ordered that curtaynes be provided for certain beds of the poor.”  The author adds that “moveable curtains hang over the beds to this day, and are of great use in providing privacy when patients are washing and dressing.”

We meet with some trifling records of great events.  Thus on 7th May 1660 it is ordered that “the shield of the States armes being the Redd Cross and Harpe be taken downe in the Court p. 153Hall and the King’s arms put in the Roome thereof.”

But even the King could not impose on the hospital.  Thus in 1661 there was a vacancy for a surgeon at the Lock.  The King wrote in favour of John Knight, but John Dorrington was elected (ii., p. 316).

In 1666 the great fire of London was only prevented from reaching the hospital by pulling down houses.  The consequent loss to the hospital may be set down as £2000 per annum.  We are constantly meeting in the history of St Bartholomew’s interesting lights on the natural history of the patients.  An entry as to the supply of beer (of which, by the way, the patients were allowed three pints daily) pleases me:—“Sir Jonathan Reymond, Knt. and Alderman, is to serve the matron’s cellar.  Alderman Lt.-col. Freind is to supply small beer” (ii., p. 339).  These personages doubtless belonged to the established church, for dissenters were not allowed to serve the hospital with any commodity.

An entry under 26th February 1704 throws a sinister light on the condition of the wards:—“Elizabeth Bond did propose to kill and clear the beds and wards of bugs within this house for 6s. per bed.”  I hope Elizabeth Bond was more careful in her work than was the writer of the resolution (ii., p. 352).

It is interesting to come across the following:—

21st July 1737.—It was resolved “that the thanks of this Court be given to William Hogarth, Esquire . . . for his generous and free gift of the painting of the great staircase. . . .”

5th Jan. 1758.—A committee considered the p. 154subject of visiting prisoners in Newgate, but the plan was apparently thrown over because prisoners were found entirely destitute of clothes, bedding, etc.

Even in the history of Mr Pickwick (chapter xlii.) we read that “not a week passes over our heads, but, in every one of our prisons for debt, some . . . must inevitably expire in the slow agonies of want, if they were not relieved by their fellow prisoners.”

It is curious to find that in 1821 the function of the hospital as a school for students of medicine was something of a novelty.  The reform seems to have been due to Abernethy.

In 1845, on 13th May, a unanimous resolution against female governors was carried.  Dr Moore adds that “about half a century later they were admitted, and no disastrous consequences have ensued.”  In 1851 Miss Elizabeth Blackwell was actually admitted as a student, and strange to say with satisfactory results.

The author relates [154] how he was walking back to St Bartholomew’s one hot summer afternoon when he saw at a small second-hand book shop Paulus Jovius’ history of his own times, printed in 1550.  Within it Woodhull the collector had noted that he bought it at the sale of Dr Askew’s books.  Next day Sir Norman met Robert Browning and mentioned the book to him: “He had read it, and recalled passages in it, and told most pleasantly how the bishop had concealed the manuscript in a p. 155chest . . . when the Spaniards took Rome, and how a Spanish captain found out that Paulus Jovius valued the manuscript, and so only gave it up on receiving a promise of the emoluments of a living in the gift of the church” (ii., p. 539).

Sir George Burrows became physician in 1841:—“He did not hesitate to express censure where he thought censure required.  A clergyman at St Bartholomew’s rather aggressively invited his criticism on a sermon which he had just delivered.  ‘Let me tell you, sir,’ said Burrows, ‘that many a man has been put in a lunatic asylum for much less nonsense than you preached to us to-day’” (ii., p. 561).

Dr Frederic John Farre was elected physician, 1854.  Farre was captain of Charterhouse School during Thackeray’s first year there.  And in The Adventures of Philip the author tells how one of the boys laughed because Firmin’s eyes “filled with tears at some ribald remark, and was gruffly rebuked by Sampson major [i.e., Dr Farre], the cock of the whole school; and with the question, ‘Don’t you see the poor beggar’s in mourning, you great brute?’ was kicked about his business.”

Percivall Pott was elected assistant surgeon at St Bartholomew’s in 1745 and surgeon in 1749, holding office till 1787.  There is in the hospital a fine portrait of him in a crimson coat, by Sir Joshua Reynolds.  A very old lady, whose mother’s medical attendant had been dresser to Percivall Pott, told Dr Moore, on the authority of the above practitioner, that Pott often came to the hospital in a red coat, and sometimes wore a sword.

p. 156Occasional teaching in medicine had been carried out from the seventeenth century onwards, but the originator par excellence was John Abernethy, who was born in 1764 and became a pupil at St Bartholomew’s in 1779.  He taught anatomy in a really scientific manner, but he did not succeed in permanently raising it from the region of cram which in my day at Cambridge it shared with Materia Medica.

Many stories are told of his abrupt manner with his private patients.  Charles Darwin used to tell us of a patient entering Abernethy’s consulting room, holding out his hand and saying, “Bad cut,” to which Abernethy replied, “Poultice”; the patient departed, only to return in a day or two, when his laconic report, “Cut worse,” was answered by “More poultice.”  Finally he came back cured and enquired what he owed the surgeon, who replied, “Nothing; you are the best patient I ever had, and I could not take a fee.”

Sir James Paget was assistant surgeon at St Bartholomew’s in 1847; he became surgeon in 1861; he resigned the position in 1871, and died in 1899.  He was the chief surgeon of the Victorian age, and his success may be estimated by the fact that his professional income rose to £10,000 per annum.  He freely gave of his store of knowledge, for instance in Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions.  William Morrant Baker was elected a surgeon of St Bartholomew’s in 1882.  He was noted for the neatness of his dress, and Dr Francis Harris, who sometimes wore country clothes, told Dr Moore that p. 157he occasionally hid in the porter’s lodge to avoid Baker’s critical eyes.  He warned Dr Moore (who was a candidate for the Wardenship of the College) that those same eyes were on him in the matter of dress.

Sir William Church, who wrote on the Hospital Pharmacopœia, gives some astonishing facts.  From 1866 to 1875 the annual consumption of sulphate of magnesia was 42½ hundredweights, i.e., about two cart-loads.  “In 1836 8¾ tons of linseed meal were used, while from 1876 to 1885 the annual average was 15¾ tons, but in 1911 the poultice was so nearly obsolete that 3 cwt. sufficed.  In 1837 96,300 leeches were used; . . . in 1868 the number had sunk to 2200. . . .  It is now (1911) about 700” (ii., p. 714).

Chloroform first appears in the apothecaries’ ledger on 22nd November 1847, just one week after the publication of Sir James Y. Simpson’s treatise.

A pound of pure carbolic acid was used in 1865, in 1911 the quantity was 2½ tons.  Nurses have increased from a “matron and eleven sisters in the reign of King Edward VI. to the matron, assistant-matron, thirty-eight sisters, and 268 nurses who form the highly trained nursing staff of the present day” (ii., p. 778).

I cannot resist quoting a reminiscence of Mr Mark Morris, the Steward of the Hospital, who was born early enough to remember “several cases . . . of wives who had been sold in Smithfield.  A rope was loosely thrown round them, and as the seller handed the end of the rope to the buyer, the buyer gave him a shilling.  The new marriage was regarded p. 158. . . as in every way reputable and complete” (ii., p. 789).

We have space for but a few of Dr Moore’s pleasant reminiscences.  A woman came from South Wales whose only language was Welsh.  Her husband’s native language was Irish, and he had learned Welsh, but could speak no English.  A scavenger came into the Casualty Department named Michael O’Clery.  “An illustrious name,” said the physician (N. M.?) remembering a certain famous chronicler.  The scavenger explained accurately to which part of the family of hereditary historians he belonged.

“Another patient, a shoemaker . . . gave the name of Conellan.  ‘Have you ever heard,’ said the physician, ‘of Owen Conellan, who wrote a grammar?’  ‘My relation,’ replied the patient, ‘historiographer to His Majesty King George IV.’  Thus was the physician instructed in the biography of the grammarian” (ii., p. 873).

A mountebank, who gained his living by thrusting a sword, about a foot long, down his gullet was admitted to a surgical ward.  The treatment consisted in putting probangs of india-rubber down the gullet, and in this the patient was more adroit than the highly skilled surgeon who attended him (ii., p. 874).

I like, too, the case of a patient who was described as an “arrow-maker,” and on being asked whether he did not call himself a fletcher, said, “Yes, but I thought you would not know.”  We read, also, of ruler-makers with “their hair turned green by the p. 159resin dust produced by their lathes.”  Also of “secret springers and piercers,” who suggest murder and sudden death to the imperfectly informed.

The following incident (ii., p. 883) is interesting from the point of view of history:—A negro, Jonathan Strong, had been brutally beaten by his master, and was admitted to the hospital in 1765.  On leaving he got work at a chemist’s in the city; all seemed well, when he was recognised by an agent of his former master, and seized as “the property of Mr Kerr.”  Granville Sharp, who happened to be present, at once charged the agent with committing an assault.  An action brought against Sharp lingered on for some time and was finally dropped.  Strong remained free, but the general question of slavery in England was not settled till 1772.  It is pleasant to know that in 1877 Dr Moore told the story of Jonathan Strong to William Lloyd Garrison.

p. 161SIR GEORGE AIRY [161]

In attempting to estimate this book, it is necessary to avoid first impressions, for what strikes one on opening its pages is its dullness.  It is edited by his son, who, in a Personal Sketch, gives certain facts about his father without succeeding in being graphic or interesting in any way.  There is too much detail of an unexciting quality, e.g., p. 272 (1867): “There was the usual visit to Playford in January.  In April there was a short run to Alnwick and the neighbourhood in company with Mr and Mrs Routh.  From 27th June to 4th July he was in Wales with his two eldest (sic) sons, visiting Uriconium, etc., on his return.  From 8th August to 7th September he spent a holiday in Scotland and the Lake District of Cumberland with his daughter Christabel, visiting the Langtons at Barrow House, near Keswick, and Isaac Fletcher at Tarn Bank.”  When this kind of thing occurs often it is intolerably wearisome.

The same criticism applies to the extracts from Sir George Airy’s diary, which his son publishes.  p. 162For instance, p. 172 (1845): “On 29th January I went with my wife on a visit to my uncle, George Biddell, at Bradfield St George, near Bury.  On 9th June I went into the mining district of Cornwall with George Arthur Biddell.  From 25th August to 26th September I was travelling in France with my sister and my wife’s sister, Georgiana Smith.  I was well introduced and the journey was interesting.  On 29th October my son Osmond was born.  Mr F. Baily bequeathed to me £500, which realised £450.”

This is a class of facts which a man may like to record, but their publication when so often repeated is surely unnecessary.  There is, however, this to be said—that minute accuracy was a marked feature in Airy’s character, and must therefore be made prominent; and it may be argued that the right degree of prominence can only be given by avoiding all suppression.  I cannot think that this is so in the case of an editor.  Nor can I believe that Airy would have approved of one detail in his son’s method of printing the book, namely, that the diary is enclosed in inverted commas throughout, while the editor’s occasional remarks are without them.  It would surely have been simpler to say once for all that what is printed is an accurate copy of the diary, and to have given the editor’s remarks within square brackets.

George Biddell Airy was born at Alnwick on 27th July 1801.  He seems to have belonged to a Westmoreland family, but his forbears for several generations were small farmers in Lincolnshire.  p. 163His father, William Airy, was clearly a person of energy and forethought, who laid by his summer’s earnings “in order to educate himself in winter.”  He gave up farming as a young man and found employment in the excise, a profession not without danger in those early days when contraband trade was common.  He is said to have had many fights with smugglers, but did not suffer the fate of the gauger in Guy Mannering, for Dirck Hatteraicks were not so common as youthful readers might desire.

In 1810 William Airy was transferred to Colchester, where, if there were fewer smugglers, there was more opportunity for education; and George was sent to a school in a street bearing the attractive name of Sir Isaac’s Walk.  Four years later Airy went to the Colchester Grammar School, where he remained until 1819, when he entered Trinity College, Cambridge.  The only point of interest connected with his school life is the record (in his own words) of Airy’s remarkable verbal memory.  “It was the custom for each boy once a week to repeat a number of lines of Latin or Greek poetry, the number depending very much on his own choice.  I determined on repeating 100 every week. . . .  It was no distress to me, and great enjoyment.  At Michaelmas 1816 I repeated 2394 lines, probably without missing a word.”

On 18th October 1819 he went to Cambridge “on the top of the coach,” and was installed in lodgings in Bridge Street.  A reputation for mathematics had preceded him, and he was kindly received p. 164by Mr Peacock [164] and Professor Sedgwick.  It will be remembered that some twenty years later both these personages interested themselves in another Cambridge undergraduate—Charles Darwin.

Airy (p. 23) showed Mr Peacock a manuscript book containing “a number of original Propositions” which he had investigated.  This increased his reputation in the University, but he was destined to be eminent in quite another direction.  On the recommendation of Clarkson—who, as the chief Abolitionist, ought to have been more revolutionary—he followed the rule almost universally neglected—that undergraduates should wear drab knee breeches.  Though Airy must soon have discovered that the reign of breeches was over, he continued, like the careful youth he was, to wear them for three terms.

In the winter of his freshman’s year, he did some original research in mathematics.  This praiseworthy undertaking was characteristically treated by two of his advisers: Mr Peacock encouraged him to work out his problems; but his tutor (who bore the appropriate name of Hustler) disapproved of Airy’s employing his time on such speculations.

p. 165He describes with characteristic precision his way of life as an undergraduate.  He never failed to keep the four statutory morning chapels.  Then came breakfast, and College lectures occupied him from nine till eleven.  He then went back to his rooms, and instead of at once getting to his mathematics, he wrote a piece of Latin prose.  At two o’clock he “went out for a long walk, usually 4 or 5 miles, into the country: sometimes if I found companions I rowed on the Cam (a practice acquired rather later)”; College Hall was at four, after which he “lounged” until it was time to go to evening chapel (five-thirty).  About six he had tea, and then “read quietly, usually a classical subject, till eleven; and I never, even in the times when I might seem most severely pressed, sat up later.”

In his second year he was asked to coach one Rosser, a man of his own year, for which he was paid at the rate of £14 per term.  “This occupied two hours every day, and I felt that I was now completely earning my own living.  I never received a penny from my friends after this time.”

His undergraduate life ended triumphantly in his being Senior Wrangler.  He refers (p. 39) to the hardships of the examination: “The season was a cold one, and no fire was allowed in the Senate House, where the examination was carried on . . . and altogether it was a severe time.”  His reference to the ceremonial of degree-taking has a little self-glorification which is not characteristic of him:—“I, as Senior Wrangler, was led up first to receive the p. 166degree, and rarely has the Senate House rung with such applause as then filled it.”

In January 1823 he came back to Cambridge and started business as a coach with four pupils, each of whom paid him twenty guineas a term. [166]  By this time the great series of his published papers had begun—indeed No. 1, “On the use of Silvered Glass for the mirrors of Reflecting Telescopes,” had already been published in 1822, by the Cambridge Philosophical Society.

It was in 1824 that “came one of the most important occurrences” of his life, namely, meeting the beautiful girl Richarda Smith, who was to become his wife.  They were engaged in 1824 and married six years later.  I venture the guess that her health was never very strong, for she seems not to have been much with Airy in his holiday wanderings.  Wilfrid Airy speaks of “their deep respect and affection for one another.”

On 1st October 1824, in his twenty-third year, he was elected to a Trinity fellowship.  Macaulay, who was elected the same day, speaks somewhere of the especial value he placed on this most pleasant honour, but he was thinking of the life of a resident Fellow, and Airy at once told his tutor of his intention of going out into the world.  He began, however, in the October term to give mathematical lectures in Trinity.  The reader is not surprised to find that Airy now gave up the custom which he “had followed with such regularity for five years, p. 167namely, that of daily writing Latin.”  I wonder what other Senior Wrangler wrote Latin prose while reading for the Tripos?

We have seen that the great stream of his original work had been established.  In 1822 he wrote one paper, in 1824 three, in 1825 two, in 1826 three, and in 1827 five; and this stream was to flow for sixty-five years, i.e., until 1887!

On December 1826 he was elected to the Lucasian professorship, and thus became a successor of Sir Isaac Newton.  The salary when Airy was elected was but £99 a year; the present holder is more adequately paid, and receives £850 annually.  His prospects in 1827 were, however, not very good.  He had to resign his tutorship when he became a professor, and thus lost £51 of income.  As he would not take orders, his fellowship, according to the atrocious system of the day, would come to an end in seven years.  But he surely judged wisely in accepting the poorly paid office.  He had to lecture in a room, not intended for the purpose, in the old Botanic Gardens.  This region is now occupied by science buildings, but bears a memory of its former history in the great Sophora tree flourishing there.

He was soon to obtain better paid work, for in 1828 he was elected Plumian professor, and giving up his college rooms he moved into the Observatory, where his official career as an astronomer began.  During the following years, up to 1834, he was busy with professorial work and his duties at the Cambridge Observatory.  He began to receive public acknowledgments of his character and his work.  In p. 1681835 he was elected a correspondent of the French Academy.  In the same year Sir Robert Peel (p. 106) offered him a pension of £300 per annum, with no terms of any kind, and allowing it to be settled, “if I should think fit, on my wife.”

On 11th June 1835 the First Lord of the Admiralty wrote offering Airy the office of Astronomer Royal, which was accepted.  Another honour—that of Knighthood—he declined in the same year.  In 1863 the same honour was again offered and declined with dignity, on the ground that fees of “about £30” were demanded.  Finally, in 1872 he was offered the K.C.B. and knighted by the Queen at Osborne.  In reply to the congratulations of a friend, Airy wrote: “The real charm of these public compliments seems to be, that they excite the sympathies and elicit the kind expressions of private friends or of official superiors as well as subordinates.  In every way I have derived pleasure from these.”

With regard to other honours, it is pleasant to discover that Airy, one of the most accurate of men, could make minute mistakes.  Thus in 1863 he speaks (p. 254) of the academical degree of D.C.L. held by him in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  But at Cambridge the degree in question is known as LL.D.

It may be well to give here, irrespective of dates, some of the other honours received by Airy.

In 1867 he (in company with Connop Thirlwall) was elected to the newly instituted Honorary Fellowships of Trinity—a distinction which seems to have given him especial pleasure.

p. 169In 1872 he was chosen as “Foreign Associate of the Institut de France” (p. 297), and wrote a strongly worded letter of thanks to Elie de Beaumont and J. B. Dumas, the Perpetual Secretaries.  In the same year he wrote (p. 299) to the Emperor of Brazil in acknowledgment of the Grand Cross of the Rose of Brazil.

In 1851 he was President of the British Association at Ipswich.  He showed his sense of duty in a characteristic way (p. 207).  “Prince Albert was present, as [a] guest of Sir William Middleton; I was engaged to meet him at dinner, but when I found that the dinner day was one of the principal soirée days, I broke off the engagement.”  In 1871 Airy was chosen President of the Royal Society.  He wrote to a friend (p. 293): “The election . . . is flattering, and has brought to me the friendly remembrance of many persons; but in its material and laborious connections, I could well have dispensed with it, and should have done so but for the respectful way in which it was pressed on me.”  He resigned the Presidency in 1873 (p. 303), giving his reasons as follows:—“The severity of official duties, which seem to increase, while vigour to discharge them does not increase; and the distance of my residence. . . .  Another reason is a difficulty of hearing, which unfits me for effective action as Chairman of the Council.”

It is quite beyond my powers to estimate the value of Airy’s work as Astronomer Royal; I therefore quote from Schuster and Shipley’s Britain’s Heritage of Science, p. 165:—“In astronomy he proved himself to be equally eminent as an p. 170administrator and investigator.  He introduced revolutionary reforms in the practice of observatories by insisting on a rapid reduction and publication of all observations.  After his appointment as Astronomer Royal, he set to work at once to reduce the series of observations of planets which had accumulated during eighty years without any use having been made of them.  This was followed up by a similar reduction of 8000 lunar observations.  He was equally energetic in adding to the instrumental equipment.  When Greenwich was first founded, the longitude determination at sea depended to a great extent on measuring the distance between stars and the moon.  Hence accurate tables of the position of the moon were essential, and the preparation of these tables has always been considered to be the chief care of Greenwich.  The observations were made with a transit telescope which could only be used when the moon was passing the meridian, until Airy in 1843 persuaded the Board of Visitors to take steps for constructing a new instrument which would enable him to observe the moon in any position.  In 1847 this instrument was at work, and other important additions to the equipment were made as occasion arose. . . .

“Among his theoretical investigations in pure astronomy, one of the most important resulted in the discovery of a new inequality in the motions of Venus and the earth due to their mutual attraction, and this led to an improvement in the solar tables.”

Nor should it be forgotten that Airy “originated p. 171the automatic system by which the Greenwich time signals are transmitted each day throughout the country.”

With regard to the celebrated case of the planet Neptune, “which Adams predicted would be found—as it was found by the Berlin observer Galle, to whom Leverrier indicated its position,” Messrs Schuster and Shipley “cannot absolve either Airy or Challis [the Cambridge Astronomer] from blame.”

Airy writes (p. 181): “The engrossing subject of this year [1846] was the discovery of Neptune.  As I have said (1845), I obtained no answer from Adams to a letter of enquiry.  Beginning with June 26th of 1846, I had correspondence of a satisfactory character with Leverrier, who had taken up the subject of the disturbance of Uranus, and arrived at conclusions not very different from those of Adams.  I wrote from Ely on July 9th to Challis, begging him, as in possession of the largest telescope in England, to sweep for the planet and suggesting a plan.  I received information of its recognition by Galle, when I was visiting Hansen at Gotha.  For further official history, see my communications to the Royal Astronomical Society, and for private history see the papers in the Royal Observatory.  I was abused most savagely both by English and French.”

Having been Astronomer Royal from 1835, Airy, being eighty years of age, resigned his post in 1881, receiving (p. 340) a “retired allowance of £1100 per annum.”

His son writes (p. 346), “On the 16th of August p. 1721881 Airy left the Observatory,” which had been his home “for nearly 46 years, and removed to the White House.  Whatever his feeling may have been at the severing of his old associations he carefully kept them to himself, and entered upon his new life with the cheerful composure and steadiness of temper which he possessed in a remarkable degree.”

His son continues (p. 347): “The work to which he chiefly devoted himself in his retirement was the completion of his Numerical Lunar Theory.  This was a vast work, involving the subtlest considerations of principle, very long and elaborate mathematical investigations of a high order, and an enormous amount of arithmetical computation.”  Of this work Airy wrote, p. 349 (apparently in 1886): “The critical trial depends on the great mass of computations in Section ii.  These have been made in duplicate, with all the care for accuracy that anxiety could supply.  Still I cannot but fear that the error which is the source of discordance must be on my part.”  The work was continued until October 1888, but without success.

He continued to show his characteristic fearlessness in what he considers to be his duty.  Thus in 1883 (p. 355) he refused to sign a memorial in favour of the burial of Mr Spottiswoode in Westminster Abbey, on the ground that he had not conferred “great and durable” benefits on society.  In 1883 he wrote (p. 356) to the Vicar of Greenwich protesting against choral service in the church.  I shall quote his words as almost a solitary example of his use of picturesque English:—“For a venerable persuasion there is p. 173substituted a rude irreverential confusion of voices; for an earnest acceptance of the form offered by the Priest there is substituted—in my feeling at least—a weary waiting for the end of an unmeaning form.”

In 1887 his son records (p. 361) that Airy’s private accounts gave him much trouble.  It had been his custom to keep them by double entry in very perfect order.  “But he now began to make mistakes and to grow confused, and this distressed him greatly . . . and so he struggled with his accounts as he did with his Lunar Theory till his powers absolutely failed.”

In 1889 he had the satisfaction of knowing that his system of compass correction in iron ships had been universally adopted.  Whether the Admiralty ought to be proud of the fact that fifty years had elapsed since Airy’s discovery was made known is another question.

Sir George Airy died 2nd January 1892.  It is recorded that before the end came he had been lying quietly for several days “reciting the English poetry with which his memory was stored.”

p. 175SYDNEY SMITH [175a]

“I thank God, Who has made me poor, that He has made me merry.”


Sydney Smith was born in 1771, the son of an eccentric Mr Robert Smith and his wife, who was the daughter of a French émigré.  Robert Smith is said to have bought and re-sold something like twenty houses in the course of his life.  This may help to account for Sydney being early dependent on his own resources.  When he was engaged to be married, he threw six silver teaspoons into his fiancée’s lap, saying: “There Kate, you lucky girl, I give you my whole fortune!” [175b]

The only one of Sydney’s brothers who need be mentioned was Robert, commonly called Bobus [175c] (an Eton nickname).  He once spoke of his mother’s beauty in the presence of Talleyrand, who, “with a shrug and a sly disparaging look,” said, “Ah! mon p. 176ami, c’était donc apparemment monsieur votre père qui n’était pas bien.” [176a]

Sydney went to Winchester on the foundation, where he had to endure “years of misery and positive starvation.”  He used to say that he had at school made about ten thousand Latin verses, “and no man in his senses would dream in after-life of ever making another.”

Sydney passed from Winchester to New College, Oxford, where his rank as Captain of the School apparently entitled him to a fellowship.  In spite of this he seems to have been poor and to have lived in consequence very much out of society.  Between Winchester and Oxford he was sent to Mont Villiers in Normandy to learn French, in which he succeeded admirably.  The revolution was then at its height, and he had to be enrolled in a Jacobin Club as “Le Citoyen Smit, Membre Affilié, etc.”  It speaks well for Sydney’s self-restraint and powers of self-management, that after he became a Fellow [176b] of his college he never received a farthing from his father.  On leaving Oxford he was faute de mieux ordained, and became a curate at a small village in the middle of Salisbury Plain.  Here he made the acquaintance of the neighbouring squire, Mr Beach.  He became tutor to the squire’s son, and it was arranged that they should go to the University of Weimar; but this turned out impracticable, and (says Sydney) “in stress of politics we put into Edinburgh,” where he p. 177remained five years.  Here he came in contact with a number of interesting people—Jeffrey, [177a] Horner, [177b] Playfair, Walter Scott, Dugald Stewart, Brougham, Murray, Leyden and others, many of whom were life-long friends of Sydney.  Another eminent person whose acquaintance he made later, may be mentioned here.  Sydney wrote to Lady Holland in 1831 (ii., p. 326):—“Philosopher Malthus came here last week.  I got an agreeable party for him of unmarried people.  There was only one lady who had had a child; but he is a good-natured man, and if there are no appearances of approaching fertility, is civil to every lady.”

Sydney’s housekeeping difficulties at Edinburgh p. 178proved an unexpected difficulty; his servants “always pulled off their stockings, in spite of my repeated objurgations, the moment my back was turned.”  I cannot resist quoting, apropos des bottes, the following story.  The reigning bore at Edinburgh was X, his favourite subject the North Pole.  Sydney met X, indignant at Jeffrey having darted past him exclaiming, “Damn the North Pole.”  Sydney tried to console him: “Why, you will scarcely believe it, but it is not more than a week ago that I heard him speak disrespectfully of the Equator.”

In 1799 or 1800 he was married to Miss Pybus, and in 1802, when a child was about to be born, Sydney hoped it would be a girl, and that she might have but one eye so that she might never marry.  Part of the wish was fulfilled; the baby was a girl, but, unfortunately, quite normal in every way.  Saba, for so she was called (a name [178a] invented by her father), ultimately became the wife of Sir Henry Holland, the well-known physician.

About this time Sydney suggested to Jeffrey and Brougham the foundation of a Liberal Quarterly—in those days a contradiction in terms—which was named the Edinburgh Review after the town of its birth.  Sydney proposed as a motto, “Tenui Musam meditamur avena,” i.e., “We cultivate literature on a little oatmeal,” but this was too near the truth to be admitted. [178b]

p. 179Throughout his life literature was combined with vigorous activity as a clergyman.  Speaking of two or three “random sermons” which he “discharged” in London, he says he believed that the congregation thought him mad.  “The clerk was as pale as death in helping me off with my gown, for fear I should bite him.”

He made many friends in London.  Among these he specially valued Lord and Lady Holland, with whom he often stayed.  They agreed in gaiety, humour, and political opinions.  And it must be remembered that a Liberal parson was a rare bird in those days.  Dugald Stewart (i., p. 127) said of Sydney Smith’s preaching, “Those original and unexpected ideas gave me a thrilling sensation of sublimity never before awakened by any other oratory.”  But his most celebrated triumph was a charity sermon which actually moved old Lady C. (Cork?) to borrow a sovereign to put in the plate.

Sydney lectured on Moral Philosophy at the Royal Institution.  Many years afterwards, in 1843, he wrote to Whewell: “My lectures are gone to the dogs, and are utterly forgotten.  I knew nothing of moral philosophy, but I was thoroughly aware that I wanted £200 to furnish my house.  The success, however, was prodigious; all Albemarle Street blocked with carriages, and such an uproar as I never remembered to have been excited by any other literary impostor.”

Leonard Horner wrote: “Nobody else, to be sure, could have executed such an undertaking.  For who could make such a mixture of odd paradox, quaint p. 180fun, manly sense, Liberal opinions, and striking language?”

He used, like Charles Lamb, to give weekly suppers.  Sir James Mackintosh brought to one of these parties “a raw Scotch cousin, an ensign in a Highland regiment.  On hearing the name of his host he . . . said in an audible whisper, ‘Is that the great Sir Sudney?’”  Mackintosh gave a hint to Sydney, who “performed the part of the hero of Acre to perfection,” to the “torture of the other guests, who were bursting with suppressed laughter.”  A few days later Sydney and his wife met Mackintosh and the wonderful cousin in the street, to whom Sydney introduced his wife.  The Scotch youth didna’ ken the great Sir Sudney was married.  “Why, no,” said Sir James, “. . . not exactly married; only an Egyptian slave. . . .  Fatima—you know—you understand.”  Mrs Smith was long known as Fatima.

With regard to Sydney’s talk, his daughter speaks of “the multitude of unexpected images which sprang up in his mind, and succeeded each other with a rapidity that hardly allowed his hearers to follow him, but left them panting and exhausted with laughter, to cry out for mercy.”  When he met Mrs Siddons for the first time she “seemed determined to resist him, and preserve her tragic dignity,” but finally she fell into such a “paroxysm of laughter . . . that it made quite a scene, and all the company were alarmed.”

In 1807 Sydney’s first Letter from Peter Plymley to his brother Abraham appeared.  It was on the Irish p. 181Catholic question, and made a great sensation—Government trying to discover the author, etc.  Lord Murray said, “After Pascal’s Letters, it is the most instructive piece of wisdom in the form of irony ever written, and had the most important and lasting effects.”

About the year 1806 he was presented to the living of Foston le Clay in Yorkshire through Lord Holland’s interest.  He had to build a parsonage “without experience or money,” and to make a journey with family and furniture “into the heart of Yorkshire—a process, in the year 1808, as difficult as a journey to the back settlements of America now.”  He had, moreover, to turn farmer, since the living consisted of 300 acres of land and no tithe.  The local Squire was shy of him as a Jacobin, but finally they became fast friends.  He used to “bring the papers, that I might explain the difficult words to him; actually discovered that I had made a joke, laughed till I thought he would have died of convulsions, and ended by inviting me to see his dogs.”

He was advised to employ oxen on his farm, which, however, turned out a failure; but their names deserve remembrance, for they were christened Tug and Lug, Haul and Crawl.  He looked after his men through a telescope, and gave orders with a speaking-trumpet.  He records “that a man-servant was too expensive” for him, so “I caught up a little garden-girl, made like a milestone, christened her Bunch, put a napkin in her hand, and made her my butler.”  She became “the best butler in the county.”  Bunch is described as pacing up and p. 182down before her master’s door, saying, “Oh, ma’am, I can’t get no peace of mind till I’ve got master shaved.”  This meant “making ready for him with a large painter’s brush, a thick lather in a huge wooden bowl.”  A visitor at Foston records:—“Mr Smith suddenly said to Bunch, who was passing, ‘Bunch, do you like roast duck or boiled chicken?’  Bunch had probably never tasted either the one or the other in her life, but answered, without a moment’s hesitation, ‘Roast duck, please, sir,’ and disappeared.  I laughed.  ‘You may laugh,’ said he, ‘but you have no idea of the labour it has cost me to give her that decision of character.’”

Poor Bunch used to be told to repeat her crimes, and gravely recited, “Plate-snatching, gravy-spilling, door-slamming, blue-bottle-fly-catching, and curtsey-bobbing.”  The blue-bottle crime was standing with her mouth open and not attending.  Curtsey-bobbing was “Curtseying to the centre of the earth, please, sir.”

One little fact is worth recording.  In 1825 a meeting of clergy was held in Yorkshire to petition Parliament against the emancipation of the Catholics.  Sydney’s was the only dissentient voice.  No doubt in those days it was hard for a Liberal parson to get preferment, and George III. was right in his prophecy that Sydney would never be a bishop.  But in January 1828 the Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst, bestowed on Sydney a stall then vacant at Bristol.  This was not of much importance from a pecuniary point of view, but it broke the “spell which had p. 183hitherto kept him down in his profession.” [183]  In the autumn of that year he preached toleration to the Mayor and Corporation of Bristol, the “most Protestant civic body in England.”  About the same time he exchanged his living in Yorkshire for that of Combe Florey near Taunton.

In 1831 (i., p. 290) Lord Grey appointed him to a Prebendal Stall at St Paul’s in exchange for the inferior one at Bristol.  With regard to ecclesiastical preferment, he wrote to Lady Holland (8th October 1808): You “may choose to make me a bishop, and if you do I . . . shall never do you discredit, for I believe it is out of the power of lawn and velvet, and the crisp hair of dead men fashioned into a wig, to make me a dishonest man; but if you do not, I am perfectly content, and shall be ever grateful to the last hour of my life to you and to Lord Holland.”  And to Lady Mary Bennett, July 1820, p. 200: “Lord Liverpool’s messenger mistook the way, and instead of bringing the mitre to me, took it to my next-door neighbour, Dr Carey, who very fraudulently accepted it.  Lord Liverpool is extremely angry, and I am to have the next!”

And to Murray: “I think Lord Grey will give me some preferment, if he stays in long enough; but the upper parsons live vindictively.  The Bishop of --- has the rancour to recover after three paralytic strokes, and the Dean of --- to be vigorous at p. 184eighty-two.  And yet these are men who are called Christians!”

In the following letter to Lord John Russell (3rd April 1837, p. 399) he is for once in a way egoistic:—

“I defy X to quote a single passage in my writing contrary to the doctrines of the Church of England; for I have always avoided speculative, and preached practical, religion.  I defy him to mention a single action in my life which he can call immoral. . . .  I am distinguished as a preacher, and sedulous as a parochial clergyman.  His real charge is, that I am a high-spirited, honest, uncompromising man, whom all the bench of bishops could not turn, and who would set them all at defiance upon great and vital questions. . . .  I am thoroughly sincere in saying I would not take any bishopric whatever, and to this I pledge my honour and character as a gentleman.”

It came to Sydney’s turn to appoint to the valuable living of Edmonton: he was allowed to take it himself, but he gave it to the son of the late parson, Tate.  Sydney said to Tate junior, that by an odd coincidence the new vicar was called Tate, and by a more singular chance Thomas Tate, “in short . . . you are vicar of Edmonton.”  They all burst into tears, and “I wept and groaned for a long time.  Then I rose, and said I thought it was very likely to end in their keeping a buggy, at which we all laughed as violently. . . .  The charitable physician wept too” (i., p. 343).  He wrote to:—

Mrs Grote, 3rd Jan. 1844.—“You have seen p. 185more than enough of my giving the living of Edmonton to a curate.  The first thing the unscriptural curate does, is to turn out his fellow curate, the son of him who was vicar before his father. . . .  The Bishop, the Dean and Chapter, and I have in vain expostulated; he perseveres in his harshness and cruelty.”

Towards the end of 1843 he made his well-known attack on the scandal of the State of Pennsylvania not paying interest to English investors—he being one.  He declares them to be “men who prefer any load of infamy, however great, to any pressure of taxation, however light” (i., p. 352).

Sydney Smith died 22nd February 1845 from disease of the heart.  He was buried at Kensal Green “as privately as possible.”

Macaulay [185] wrote in 1847 to Mrs Sydney: “He is universally admitted to have been a great reasoner, and the greatest master of ridicule that has appeared among us since Swift.”  Mrs Sydney adds in a note that there is not a line in his writing “unfit for the eye of a woman,” a great contrast to Swift.


In 1807–8 appeared anonymously Sydney Smith’s Letters on the Subject of the Catholics to my brother Abraham who lives in the Country, by Peter Plymley.

p. 186Abraham is said to be a “kind of holy vegetable” and to be a type of people who were exclaiming:—“For God’s sake, don’t think of raising cavalry and infantry in Ireland! . . .  They interpret the Epistle to Timothy in a different manner to what we do!”

Sydney points out (in his character of Peter Plymley) that the “Catholic is excluded from Parliament because he will not swear that he disbelieves the leading doctrines of his religion!”

He refers to Perceval in the following passage: “What remains to be done is obvious to every human being—but to the man who, instead of being a Methodist preacher, is, for the ruin of Troy, and the misery of good old Priam and his sons, become a legislator and a politician.”  Sydney continues: “I say, I fear he will ruin Ireland, and pursue a line of policy destructive to the true interests of his country: and then you tell me he is faithful to Mrs Perceval, and kind to the Master Percevals!”

Finally Peter warns his brother:—“Mrs Abraham Plymley, my sister, will be led away captive by an amorous Gaul; and Joel Plymley, your first born, will be a French drummer.”

I regret that I have not space to quote more from these admirable Letters, which are full of good things.  On 14th July 1807, he writes to Lady Holland [186]:—“Mr Allen has mentioned to me the letters of a Mr p. 187Plymley, which I have obtained from the adjacent market-town, and read with some entertainment.  My conjecture lies between three persons—Sir Samuel Romilly, Sir Arthur Pigott, or Mr Horner, for the name is evidently fictitious.”  I presume that Pigott was an eminently serious person to match the other supposed authors.

Jeffrey, 20th Feb. 1808.—“Your Catholic article of the last Review is, I perceive, printed separately.  I am very glad of it: it is excellent, and universally allowed to be so.  I envy you your sense, your style, and the good temper with which you attack prejudices that drive me almost to the limits of insanity.”

He writes to Lady Holland in an early but undated letter (ii., p. 39) that he has let his house at Thames Ditton very well, and sold to the tenant his wine and poultry!—“I attribute my success in these matters to having read half a volume of Adam Smith early in the summer, and to hints that have dropped from Horner, in his playful moods, upon the subject of sale and barter.”

Lord Holland, 1st Nov. 1809.—Speaking of his p. 188project of publishing a pamphlet to be called Common Sense for 1810, he concludes: “But what use is there in all this, or in anything else?  Omnes ibimus ad Diabolum et Buonoparte nos conquerabit, et dabit Hollandium Domum ad unum corporalium suorum, et ponet ad mortem Joannem Allenium.”

Lady Holland, June 1810.—“You have done an excellent deed in securing a seat for poor Mackintosh, in whose praise I most cordially concur.  He is a very great, and a very delightful man, and with a few bad qualities added to his character, would have acted a most conspicuous part in life.”

Lady Holland, 17th Jan. 1813.—There had been meetings on the Catholic question, and he says:—“I shall certainly give my solitary voice in favour of religious liberty, and shall probably be tossed in a blanket for my pains.”

John Allen, 24th Jan. 1813.—“My fancy is my own: I may see as many crosiers in the clouds as I please; but when I sit down seriously to consider what I shall do upon important occasions, I must presume myself rector of Foston for life.”

John Murray [of Edinburgh], 12th July 1813.—“My situation is as follows:—I am engaged in agriculture without the slightest knowledge of the art; I am building a house without an architect, and educating a son without patience. . . .  My new mansion springs up apace, and then I shall really have a pretty place to receive you in, and a pleasant country to show you.”

Lady Holland, 17th Sept. 1813.—“Few events are of so little consequence as the fecundity of a p. 189clergyman’s wife; still your kind dispositions justify me in letting you know that Mrs Sydney and her new-born son are both extremely well.”

John Allen, 13th Jan. 1814.—Of Lord Holland, Sydney writes:—“I wish he would leave off wine entirely, after the manner of the Sharpe and Rogers school.  He is never guilty of excess; but there is a certain respectable and dangerous plenitude, not quite conducive to that state of health which all his friends most wish to Lord Holland.”

Jeffrey, Mar. 1814.—“Pray remember me, dear Jeffrey, and say a good word for me if I die first.  I shall say many for you in the contrary event.”

Lady Holland, 25th June 1814.—“I liked London better than ever I liked it before, and simply, I believe, from water-drinking.  Without this, London is stupefaction and inflammation.  It is not the love of wine, but thoughtlessness and unconscious imitation.”

Jeffrey, 1814.—“I like my new house very much; . . . but the expense of it will keep me a very poor man, a close prisoner here for my life, and render the education of my children a difficult exertion for me.  My situation is one of great solitude, but I preserve myself in a state of cheerfulness and tolerable content, and have a propensity to amuse myself with trifles.”

F. Horner, 1816.—Referring to Dugald Stewart’s Preliminary Dissertations, Sydney says:—“I was amazingly pleased with his comparison of the Universities to enormous hulks confined with mooring-chains, everything flowing and progressing around them.  Nothing can be more happy.”

Lady Holland, 31st July 1817.—“It is very p. 190curious to consider in what manner Horner gained, in so extraordinary a degree, the affections of such a number of persons of both sexes—all ages, parties, and ranks in society; for he was not remarkably good-tempered nor particularly lively and agreeable; and an inflexible politician on the unpopular side.  The causes are, his high character for probity, honour, and talents; his fine countenance; the benevolent interest he took in the concerns of all his friends; his simple and gentlemanlike manners; his untimely death.”

Lady Mary Bennett (n.d., but late in 1817).—“The few words I said of Mrs Fry . . . were these:—‘To see that holy woman in the midst of wretched prisoners,—to see them calling earnestly upon God, soothed by her voice, animated by her look, clinging to the hem of her garment, and worshipping her as the only human being who has ever loved them . . . or spoken to them of God!—this is the sight which breaks down the pageantry of the world,—which tells us that the short hour of life is passing away, and that we must prepare by some good deeds to meet God; that it is time to give, to pray, to comfort—to go, like this blessed woman, and do the work of our heavenly Saviour, Jesus, among the guilty, among the broken-hearted, and the sick; and to labour in the deepest and darkest wretchedness of life!’”

Lady Davy, n.d.—“Luttrell, before I taught him better, imagined muffins grew!”

Jeffrey, 7th Aug. 1819.—There was universal complaint of the dullness of the Edinburgh Review, p. 191and Sydney writes: “Too much, I admit, would not do of my style; but the proportion in which it exists enlivens the Review, if you appeal to the whole public, and not to the eight or ten grave Scotchmen with whom you live.”

Lord Holland, 11th June 1820.—“You gave me great pleasure by what you said to the Chancellor of my honesty and independence.  I sincerely believe I shall deserve the character at your hands as long as I live.”

Mrs Meynell, 1820.—“The usual establishment for an eldest landed baby is, two wet nurses, two ditto dry, two aunts, two physicians, two apothecaries; three female friends of the family, unmarried, advanced in life; and often in the nursery, one clergyman, six flatterers, and a grandpapa!  Less than this would not be decent.”

Mrs Meynell, 11th Nov. 1821.—“My pretensions to do well with the world are three-fold:—First, I am fond of talking nonsense; secondly, I am civil; thirdly, I am brief.  I may be flattering myself; but if I am not, it is not easy to get very wrong with these habits.”

John Murray [of Edinburgh], 29th Nov. 1821.—“How little you understand young Wedgwood!  If he appears to love waltzing, it is only to catch fresh figures for cream-jugs.  Depend upon it, he will have Jeffrey and you upon some of his vessels, and you will enjoy an argillaceous immortality.”

This probably refers to Josiah, the grandson of the great potter.

Lady Mary Bennett, 1st Nov. 1822.—“Write p. 192to me immediately: I feel it necessary to my constitution.”

Lady Holland, 1st Oct. 1823.—“I think you mistake Bond’s character in supposing he could be influenced by partridges.  He is a man of a very independent mind, with whom pheasants at least, or perhaps turkeys, are necessary.”

Lady Holland, 19th Oct. 1823.—“All duchesses seem agreeable to clergymen; but she would really be a very clever, agreeable woman, if she were married to a neighbouring vicar; and I should often call upon her.”  (Apparently the Duchess of Bedford.)

Mrs Sydney, 7th May 1826.—“My two reviews are very much read, and praised here for their fun; I read them the other night, and they made me laugh a good deal.”

Mrs Sydney, n.d.—In a French diligence was “a sensible man, with that propensity which the French have for explaining things which do not require explanation.  He explained to me, for instance, what he did when he found coffee too strong; he put water in it!”

Lady Holland, 6th Nov. 1827.—“Jeffrey has been here with his adjectives, who always travel with him.  His throat is giving way; so much wine goes down it, so many million words leap over it, how can it rest?  Pray make him a judge; he is a truly great man, and is very heedless of his own interests.”

Lord Holland, July 1828.—“I hear with great concern of your protracted illness.  I would bear the pain for you for a fortnight if I were allowed to roar, for I cannot bear pain in silence and dignity. . . . p. 193God bless you, dear Lord Holland!  There is nobody in the world has a greater affection for you than I have, or who hears with greater pain of your illness.”

Lady Holland, Dec. 1828.—“I not only was never better, but never half so well: indeed I find I have been very ill all my life, without knowing it.  Let me state some of the goods arising from abstaining from all fermented liquors.  First, sweet sleep; having never known what sweet sleep was, I sleep like a baby or a ploughboy. . . .  If I dream, it is not of lions and tigers, but of Easter dues and tithes. . . .  My understanding is improved, and I comprehend Political Economy.  I see better without wine and spectacles than when I used both.  Only one evil ensues from it: I am in such extravagant spirits that I must lose blood, or look out for some one who will bore and depress me.”

Lady Holland, July 1831.—“I thank God heartily for my comfortable situation in my old age,—above my deserts, and beyond my former hopes.”

Mrs Meynell, Sept. 1831.—“I am just stepping into the carriage to be installed by the Bishop. . . .  It is, I believe, a very good thing, and puts me at my ease for life.  I asked for nothing—never did anything shabby to procure preferment.  These are pleasing recollections.”

(It was a Prebendal Stall at St Paul’s, given to him by Lord Grey.)

Countess of Morley, 1831.—“I went to court, and, horrible to relate! with strings to my shoes instead of buckles—not from Jacobinism, but p. 194ignorance.  I saw two or three Tory Lords look at me with dismay.”

The Clerk of the Closet spoke to Sydney, who had to gather his sacerdotal petticoats about him “like a lady conscious of thick ankles.”

R. Sharpe, 1835.—“You have met, I hear, with an agreeable clergyman: the existence of such a being has been hitherto denied by the naturalists; measure him, and put down on paper what he eats.”

Sir Wilmot Horton, 1835.—“No book has appeared for a long time more agreeable than the Life of Mackintosh; it is full of important judgments on important men, books, and things.”  Elsewhere he speaks of travelling one hundred and fifty miles in his carriage, with a green parrot and the Life of Mackintosh.

Mrs ---, 7th Sept. 1835.—“I send you a list of all the papers written by me in the Edinburgh Review.  Catch me, if you can, in any one illiberal sentiment, or in any opinion which I have need to recant; and that after twenty years scribbling upon all subjects.”

Countess Grey, 20th Oct. 1835 (Paris).—“I shall not easily forget a matelote at the Rochers de Cancale, an almond tart at Montreuil, or a poulet à la Tartare at Grignon’s.  These are impressions which no changes in future life can obliterate.”

Miss G. Harcourt, 1838.—“I have no relish for the country; it is a kind of healthy grave.”

Sir George Philips, about Sept. 1838.—“Nickleby is very good.  I stood out against Mr Dickens as long as I could, but he has conquered me.”

p. 195Mrs Meynell, Oct. 1839.—“I feel for --- about her son at Oxford; knowing as I do, that the only consequences of a University education are, the growth of vice and the waste of money.”

Lady Holland, 28th Dec. 1839.—“I have written against --- one of the cleverest pamphlets I ever read, which I think would cover --- and him with ridicule.  At least it made me laugh very much in reading it; and there I stood, with the printer’s devil and the real devil close to me; and then I said, ‘After all, this is very funny, and very well written, but it will give great pain to people who have been very kind and good to me through life.’”  Finally Sydney threw it into the fire.

Mrs Meynell, June 1840.—“A Canon at the opera!  Where have you lived?  In what habitations of the heathen?  I thank you, shuddering; and am ever your unseducible friend.”

Countess Grey, 29th Nov. 1840.—“You never say a word of yourself, dear Lady Grey.  You have that dreadful sin of anti-egotism.  When I am ill, I mention it to all my friends and relations, to the lord lieutenant of the county, the justices, the bishop, the churchwardens, the booksellers and editors of the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews.”

Lady Ashburton, 1841.—“Still I can preach a little; and I wish you had witnessed, the other day at St Paul’s, my incredible boldness in attacking the Puseyites.  I told them that they made the Christian religion a religion of postures and ceremonies, of circumflexions and genuflexions, of garments and vestures, of ostentation and parade.”

p. 196R. Murchison, 26th Dec. 1841.—“Immediately before my window there are twelve large oranges on one tree.”  He adds that they are not Linnæan orange-trees but bay-trees with oranges tied on.

Lady Davy, 11th Sept. 1842.—“I have not yet discovered of what I am to die, but I rather believe I shall be burnt alive by the Puseyites.”

Lady Grey, 19th Sept. 1842.—“I tire of Combe Florey after two months, and sigh for a change, even for the worse.  This disposition in me is hereditary; my father lived, within my recollection, in nineteen different places.”

Lady Holland, 6th Nov. 1842.—Asked by her to go to opera, he replies: “It would be rather out of etiquette for a Canon of St Paul’s to go to an opera; and where etiquette prevents me from doing things disagreeable to myself, I am a perfect martinet.”

Countess Grey, 21st Dec. 1842.—“I am quite delighted with the railroad.  I came down in the public carriages without any fatigue. . . .  Distance is abolished—scratch that out of the catalogue of human evils.”

C. Dickens, 6th Jan. 1843.—“You have been so used to these sort of impertinences that I believe you will excuse me for saying how very much I am pleased with the first numbers of your new work.  Pecksniff and his daughters, and Pinch, are admirable—quite first-rate painting, such as no one but yourself can execute.”

“P.S.—Chuffey is admirable.  I never read a finer piece of writing; it is deeply pathetic and affecting.”

p. 197Miss G. Harcourt, 29th March 1843.—“My dear G---

The pain in my knee
Would not suffer me
To drink your bohea.
I can laugh and talk
But I cannot walk;
And I thought His Grace would stare,
If I put my leg on a chair.
And to give the knee its former power,
It must be fomented for half an hour;
And in this very disagreeable state
If I had come at all, I should have been too late.”

John Murray, 4th June 1843.—“My youngest brother died suddenly, leaving behind him £100,000 and no will.  A third of this therefore fell to my share, and puts me at my ease for my few remaining years.”

Mrs Grote, 17th July 1843.—“I met Brunel at the Archbishop’s and found him a very lively and intelligent man.  He said that when he coughed up the piece of gold, the two surgeons, the apothecary, and physician all joined hands, and danced round the room for ten minutes, without taking the least notice of his convulsed and half-strangled state.  I admire this very much.”

“I much doubt if I have ever gained £1500 by my literary labours in the course of my life” (31st Aug. 1843).

C. Dickens, 21st Feb. 1844,—“Many thanks for the ‘Christmas Carol,’ which I shall immediately proceed upon, in preference to six American pamphlets . . . all promising immediate payment!”

p. 198Countess Grey, 11th Oct. 1844.—“See what rural life is:—

“Combe Florey Gazette.

“Mr Smith’s large red cow is expected to calve this week.

“Mr Gibbs has bought Mr Smith’s lame mare.

“It rained yesterday, and, a correspondent observes is not unlikely to rain to-day.

“Mr Smith is better.

“Mrs Smith is indisposed.

“A nest of black magpies was found near the village yesterday.”

Sydney Smith died 22nd February 1845.


My aim is to give some account of Charles Dickens’ personality, to think of him as a man rather than a writer.  For the facts of his life I have to depend largely on Forster’s biography, [199] which is doubtless trustworthy, but the personality of the author does not tend to make it attractive.  In this way the little book by Miss M. Dickens is valuable: it gives in simple and touching words an impression of the affection that Dickens inspired.

She writes:—“No man was so inclined naturally to derive his happiness from home affairs.  He was full of the kind of interest in a house which is commonly confined to women, and his care of and for us as wee children did most certainly ‘pass the love of women.’  His was a tender and most affectionate nature.”

When he “was arranging and rehearsing his readings from Dombey, the death of ‘little Paul’ caused him such real anguish, that he told us he could only master his intense emotion by keeping the picture of p. 200Plorn, [200a] well, strong, and hearty, steadily before his eyes.” [200b]

He took the children every 24th December to a toy-shop in Holborn to choose their own Christmas presents and any that they liked to give to their friends.

“Although I believe we were often an hour or more in the shop before our several tastes were satisfied, he never showed the least impatience, was always interested, and as desirous as we, that we should choose exactly what we liked best. . . .”

“My father insisted that my sister Katie and I should teach the polka step to Mr Leech and himself, . . . often he would practise gravely in a corner, without either partner or music.”  He once got out of bed having waked with the fear he had forgotten it, and rehearsed to his own whistling by the light of a rushlight.

Miss Dickens continues:—“There never existed, I think, in all the world, a more thoroughly tidy or methodical creature than was my father.  He was tidy in every way—in his mind, in his handsome and graceful person, in his work, in keeping his writing, table drawers, in his large correspondence—in fact in his whole life.

“And then his punctuality!  It was almost frightful to an unpunctual mind.  This again was another phase of his extreme tidiness; it was also the outcome of his excessive thoughtfulness and consideration for others.”

Naturally enough Miss Dickens makes no reference to the unhappy separation of Dickens and his wife, p. 201which took place in 1858.  In the article on Dickens in the Dictionary of National Biography, Carlyle is quoted as saying:—“No crime and no misdemeanour specifiable on either side; unhappy together, these two, good many years past, and they at length end it.”

The father of Charles Dickens was not a successful personage.  He was in the Navy Pay Office; he was generally in financial trouble, and is indeed supposed to be the original of Micawber.  Like that personage he was imprisoned for debt, and thus Charles Dickens learned early in life the misery as well as the comedy of a debtor’s prison, an experience of which he made brilliant use in Little Dorrit and elsewhere.

Forster points out that David Copperfield, who was in many ways drawn from his creator, had as a man a strong memory of his childhood; the most durable of his early impressions were received at Chatham, and, as Forster remarks, “the associations that were around him when he died were those which at the outset of his life had affected him most strongly.”

In an essay on travelling, Dickens [201] describes his meeting a “very queer small boy” whom he takes in his carriage, and as they pass Gads-hill Place (where Dickens afterwards lived and died) the boy begs him to stop that they may look at the house.  On being asked whether he admired the house:—“Bless you, sir,” said the very queer small boy, “when I was not more than half as old as nine, it used to be a treat for me to be brought to look at it—And . . . my father, seeing me so fond of it, has often said to me, If you were to be very persevering p. 202and were to work hard, you might some day come to live in it.  Though that’s impossible.”  Dickens was actually a queer small boy—very small, very sickly, who was unable to join in the active games of his schoolfellows.  In 1855 we again meet with the house that was to be his home for the remainder of his life.  He wrote to Wills (Letters, i. 393):—“I saw, at Gads Hill . . . a little freehold to be sold.  The spot and the very house are literally ‘a dream of my childhood,’ and I should like to look at it before I go to Paris.”

One of the many things in David Copperfield which are autobiographical is the account [202a] of his delight over his father’s little collection of books.  “From that blessed little room, Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, the Vicar of Wakefield, Don Quixote, Gil Blas, and Robinson Crusoe [202b] came out, a glorious host, to keep me company.  They kept alive my fancy, and my hope of something beyond that place and time—they, and the Arabian Nights, and the Tales of the Genii—and did me no harm. . . .  I have been Tom p. 203Jones (a child’s Tom Jones, a harmless creature) for a week together. . . .  I had a greedy relish for a few volumes of voyages and travels . . . . and for days and days I can remember to have gone about my region of our house, armed with the centre-piece out of an old set of boot-trees: the perfect realisation of Captain Somebody of the Royal British Navy.”

After a time they moved to London, where they lived poorly in what was then a wretched enough neighbourhood, Bayham St., Camden-town.  There he degenerated into a neglected domestic drudge, apparently quite without education, a state of things he inwardly resented.

In reading George Colman’s Broad Grins he came upon a description of Covent Garden, and “stole to the market by himself to compare it with the book.”  He remembered Covent Garden in writing Pickwick.  In chap. xlvii., Job Trotter is sent in the evening to tell Perker that Dodson and Fogg have taken Mrs Bardell in execution for her costs.  Perker goes back to his dinner guests, and poor Job has to spend the night in a vegetable basket in Covent Garden.

Dickens the elder was arrested for debt and imprisoned in the Marshalsea, and the description of borrowing Captain Porter’s knife and fork, and his thinking that he should not like to borrow that gentleman’s comb, were written before he ever thought of David Copperfield. [203]  There is, of course, much that is autobiographical in David Copperfield.  “For, the poor little lad, with good ability and a most p. 204sensitive nature, turned at the age of ten into a ‘labouring hind’ in the service of Murdstone and Grinby” . . . was indeed himself.  Dickens described in an autobiographical fragment the details of the mechanical work of covering the pots of paste-blacking.  It is interesting to find Dickens making use in Oliver Twist of the name Fagin, who was one of his fellow pasters.  Another boy was Poll Green, part of whose name appears in that of the celebrated Mr Sweelepipe in Martin Chuzzlewit.  Another of his characters is connected with this period, for during his father’s imprisonment the boy lodged with an old lady subsequently immortalised as Mrs Pipchin.  Afterwards he remonstrated with his father with many tears, and a lodging was found for him in Lant Street in the Borough as being nearer to the prison, and here it was that Bob Sawyer lodged.  The little maid who waited on his father and mother in the Marshalsea was the model for the Marchioness in the Old Curiosity Shop (Forster, i., p. 39).  After a time his father came out of prison, and Charles the younger got some schooling at Wellington House Academy, which supplied “some of the lighter traits of Salem-house” in David Copperfield.

Dickens began life as a lawyer’s clerk of a humble sort, and thus gained the knowledge of which he made such admirable use in Pickwick and elsewhere.

But his energy in learning shorthand and becoming a professional reporter at the age of nineteen was a much more important step.  Forster quotes Beard, “the friend he first made in that line when he p. 205entered the gallery,” as saying that “there never was such a reporter.”

Dickens saw the last of the old coaching days, and he describes his experience as a reporter—work which largely contributed to his literary success:—

“I have had to charge for half a dozen breakdowns in half a dozen times as many miles.  Also for the damage of a great-coat from the drippings of a blazing wax-candle, in writing through the smallest hours of the night in a swiftly flying carriage and pair.”

“I have been . . . belated on miry by-roads, towards the small hours, forty or fifty miles from London, in a wheel-less carriage with exhausted horses and drunken post-boys, and have got back in time for publication, to be received with never-forgotten compliments by the late Mr Black . . . in the broadest of Scotch.”

We see plainly enough whence came the description [205] of the chase after Jingle and Miss Wardle.  “‘I see his head,’ exclaimed the choleric old man, ‘Damme, I see his head. . . ‘  The countenance of Mr Jingle, completely coated with mud thrown up by the wheels, was plainly discernible at the window of his chaise, and the motion of his arm, which he was waving violently towards the postillions, denoted that he was encouraging them to increased exertion.”

“I never did feel such a jolting in my life,” said poor Mr Pickwick; but it was under such conditions that Dickens worked through the nights transcribing his shorthand notes.

p. 206While he was still a reporter his career as an author began.

In a letter to Wilkie Collins, 6th June 1856, Dickens relates that he began “to write fugitive pieces for the old Monthly Magazine” when he was in “the gallery” for the Mirror of Parliament.  His op. 1 was Mrs Joseph Porter over the Way; and when it appeared in the glory of print “I walked down,” he wrote, “to Westminster Hall and turned into it for half an hour, because my eyes were so dimmed with joy and pride that they could not bear the street, and were not fit to be seen.”

This was followed by several other articles in the Monthly Magazine, the last in February 1835 was the first to bear the immortal signature of Boz, [206] and in 1836 the series of Sketches by Boz was published.

In the same year, 1836, a notice appeared in the Times of 26th March “that on the 31st would be published the first shilling number of the Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.”  The original plan had been to make Pickwick an essentially sporting book, but to this Dickens demurred on account of his ignorance of such matters, and poor Mr Winkle remains as a sacrifice to the idea.

It is curious how important the illustrations of his books seemed to Dickens; there are constant references to the subject in his Letters, nor does he seem to have been generally satisfied.

Illustrations in fiction are in my judgment only tolerable when a book is read for the first time in p. 207an illustrated edition, e.g. Du Maurier’s Trilby.  But when a reader has formed his own idea of a character, those of the artist jar on preconceived impressions.  Seymour was selected to illustrate Pickwick, but he committed suicide between the appearance of the first and second numbers; then a single number was illustrated by Mr Buss; and finally Hablot Browne was selected, and he was, in Forster’s words, “not unworthily associated with the masterpieces of Dickens’ genius.”

Personally I feel nothing but astonishment that the illustrations should have been liked by anybody.  Dickens was, however, saved from a worse fate—that of being illustrated by Thackeray, who, in speaking of Dickens at a Royal Academy dinner, said, “I recollect walking up to his chambers in Furnival’s Inn with two or three drawings in my hand, which strange to say, he did not find suitable.”

Forster’s chapter on the writing of Pickwick contains some personal recollections of the author which may find a place here.  “Very different was his face in those days, circa 1837, from that which photography has made familiar to the present generation.  A look of youthfulness first attracted you, and then a candour and openness of expression which made you sure of the qualities within.  The features were very good.  He had a capital forehead . . . eyes wonderfully beaming with intellect and running over with humour and cheerfulness, and a rather prominent mouth strongly marked with sensibility.”  He speaks, too, of the beardless face and rich brown hair in “most luxuriant abundance.”  What remained to p. 208the last was the expression of “keenness and practical power,” and the “eager, restless, energetic outlook” which suggested a man of action rather than a writer of books.  Leigh Hunt said of it, “What a face . . . to meet in a drawing-room! . . .  It had the life and soul in it of fifty human beings.”

A touching proof of Dickens’ sensibility is given by the fact that the writing of Pickwick was interrupted for two months by the death of his wife’s younger sister Mary.

The Quarterly Review, Oct. 1837, referring to the fact that Pickwick and Oliver Twist were appearing at the same time, said, “Indications are not wanting that the particular vein of humour which has hitherto yielded so much attractive metal, is worked out. . . .  The fact is, Mr Dickens writes too often and too fast. . . .  If he persists much longer in this course it requires no gift of prophecy to foretell his fate—he has risen like a rocket, and he will come down like the stick”—a singularly incorrect prediction.

The success of Pickwick [208] was enormous, but the profits reaped by the author can hardly share in that adjective.  There was no agreement about its publication, except a verbal one.  For each number Dickens was to receive fifteen guineas, and the publishers paid him at once for the first two numbers “as he required the money to go and get married with.”  Besides p. 209these payments he seems at the time to have received only £2500.  In 1839 Dickens wrote to Forster of “the immense profits which Oliver has realised to its publisher, and is still realising,” and “the paltry, wretched sum it brought to me.” . . .

His friends made an important part of Dickens’ life.  One of the earliest was Macready, [209] the actor, to whom he first wrote apparently in 1837, inviting him to a Pickwick dinner.  He here addresses him as “My dear Sir,” but in 1838 he becomes “My dear Macready.”

In that year Dickens wrote a farce for Macready, p. 210which, however, had to be withdrawn, and its author wrote characteristically, “Believe me that I have no other feeling of disappointment . . . but that arising from the not having been able to be of use to you.”  Macready remained a close friend as long as he lived, and Dickens does not seem to have suffered from the churlishness referred to in the Dictionary of National Biography.

In 1851 Macready appeared on the stage for the last time in public.  Dickens wrote (27th Feb. 1851):—“No light portion of my life arose before me when the quiet vision to which I am beholden, in I don’t know how great a degree, or for how much—who does?—faded so nobly from my bodily eyes last night.”

There must have been a certain innocence in Macready or the following letter (May 24, 1851) would not have been appropriate: “Always go into some respectable shop or apply to a policeman.  You will know him by his being dressed in blue, with very dull silver buttons, and by the top of his hat being made of sticking plaster. . . .  I would recommend you to see X at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.  Anybody will show it to you.  It is near the Strand, and you may know it by seeing no company whatever at any of the doors.  Cab fares are eighteen-pence a mile.  A mile London measure is half a Dorsetshire mile, recollect.  Porter is two pence per pint. . . .  The Zoological Gardens are in the Regent’s Park and the price of admission is one shilling.”

Another artist who became a close friend of p. 211Dickens was Stanfield, of whom we first hear as making one of a trip to Cornwall in 1842.  His friendship with Cattermole, the painter, began in 1839 and suffered no diminution.  His early letters to this correspondent are on the illustrations for the Old Curiosity Shop, where we find minute instruction about the drawing of Mrs Jarley’s Wax Work cart and other detailed points.

Dickens speaks of being nearly dead with grief at the loss of little Nell.  He says he looks at Cattermole’s beautiful illustrations with a pleasure he cannot describe in words.

He seems, too, to have been in 1840 on familiar terms with Daniel Maclise.  Only two letters to this friend exist, whom Miss Dickens describes as a “much-loved friend and most intimate companion” of her father.

In January 1842 Dickens started for America, and on 31st January he writes—“I can give you no conception of my welcome here.  There never was a king or emperor upon the earth so cheered and followed by crowds.”

Reference to Miss Martineau meets with showers of abuse.  “She told us of some of our faults, and Americans can’t bear to be told of their faults.”

“In respect of not being left alone, and of being horribly disgusted by tobacco-chewing and tobacco spittle, I have suffered considerably” (i., p. 67).

“In every town where we stay, though it be only for a day, we hold a regular levée or drawing-room, where I shake hands on an average with five or six hundred people. . .  Think of two hours of this p. 212every day, and the people coming by hundreds, all fresh, and piping hot, and full of questions, when we are literally exhausted and can hardly stand.”

One of the few entirely satisfactory occurrences was the gift of a dog called Boz, who was re-named Mr Snittle Timbery after a character in Nicholas Nickleby.  He lived to be very old and went everywhere with his master (i., p. 70, note).

At Niagara he got some peace, which was much needed because of “the incessant persecutions of the people, by land and water, on stage-coach, railway car, and steamer, which exceeds anything you can picture to yourself by the utmost stretch of your imagination” (i., p. 71).

And on the copyright scandal he writes in the same letter: “Is it not a horrible thing that scoundrel book-sellers should grow rich here from publishing books, the authors of which do not reap one farthing from their issue by scores of thousands; and that every vile blackguard, and detestable newspaper, so filthy and bestial that no honest man would admit one into his house for a scullery door-mat, should be able to publish these same writings, side by side, cheek by jowl, with the coarsest and most obscene companions?”  Not that he had much hope of reform, but he could not help crying, “Stop, thief!”

On his return he wrote to Longman: “I have fought the fight across the Atlantic with the utmost energy I could command; have never been turned aside by any consideration for an instant; am fresher for the fray than ever; will battle it to death, and p. 213die game to the last.”  He was soon entangled in dinners; of his trials at a hospital dinner he wrote of listening to speeches and sentiments such “as any moderately intelligent dustman” would have blushed to have thought of.  “Sleek, slobbering, bow-paunched, over-fed, apoplectic, snorting cattle, and the auditory leaping up in their delight.”

In November 1843, he speaks of an opera he did in “damnable good nature for Hullah,” who wrote “some very pretty music to it.”  He also did a farce “as a sort of practical joke.”  “It was funny—adapted from one of the published sketches called the ‘Great Winglebury Duel,’ and was published by Chapman and Hall.”  He devoutly wished these productions forgotten.

In a letter to Macready of 3rd January 1844, he speaks of sending him a little book which had been published 17th December 1843, and describes it as the greatest success, “I think, I have ever achieved.”  It seems to be the Christmas Carol, as on 4th January 1844 he wrote to Leman Blanchard in regard to a review of the Carol.  “I must thank you because you have filled my heart up to the brim, and it is running over.”  In the summer of 1844 he started for a holiday abroad, but in November he travelled back to London to see The Chimes through the press, of which he wrote, 5th November 1844:—

“I believe I have . . . knocked the Carol out of the field.  It will make a great uproar, I have no doubt.”  He adds (i., p. 145): “If you had seen Macready, last night, undisguisedly sobbing and crying on the sofa as I read The Chimes, you would p. 214have felt, as I did, what a thing it is to have power.”

In 1845 we hear of private theatricals for the first time, when Dickens writes to Cattermole about taking a part in Every Man in his Humour.  On a similar occasion in 1850 a master carpenter from one of the theatres said, “Ah, sir, it’s a universal observation in the profession, sir, that it was a great loss to the public when you took to writing books.”

In 1847 we hear of more acting, Every Man in his Humour being given again for the benefit of Leigh Hunt, with the help of George Cruickshank, George Henry Lewes, and Augustus Egg, as new members of the Company (i., p. 177).

In 1846 he gave up all connection with the Daily News, which he had rashly agreed to edit.  He went to Switzerland, taking a villa (Rosemount) there, from May till November.  Here he wrote The Battle of Life and began Dombey.  It was here that he made friends of M. de Cerjat, Mr Haldimand, and of Hon. Richard and Mrs Watson of Rockingham Castle, to whom he afterwards dedicated his favourite book, David Copperfield.

It was at this time, too, that was founded his friendship with W. H. Wills, who became an assistant in editing All the Year Round, and in other ways.

In March 1846 he wrote to Wills:—“Tell Powell . . . that he needn’t ‘deal with’ the American notices of the Cricket.  I never read one word of their abuse, and I should think it base to read their praises.”

He wrote, 27th November 1846, to Mr Watson (from Paris):—“We are lodged at last in the most p. 215preposterous house in the world. . . .  The bedrooms are like opera-boxes.  The dining-rooms, stair-cases, and passages, quite inexplicable. . . .  There is a gleam of reason in the drawing-room.  But it is approached through a series of small chambers, like the joints of a telescope, which are hung with inscrutable drapery.”

Later impressions of Paris (1855–56) may find a place here.  “A man who brought some little vases home last night said, ‘On connait bien en France, que Monsieur Dick-in prend sa position sur la dignité de la littérature.  Ah! c’est grande chose!  Et ces caractères sont si spirituellement tournées!  Cette Madame Tojare (Todgers), ah! qu’elle est drôle et précisément comme une dame que je connais à Calais.’”

In the winter of 1856 he wrote:—“I met Madame Georges Sands the other day at a dinner got up by Madame Viardot. . . .  The human mind cannot conceive anyone more astonishing opposed to all my preconceptions.  If I had been shown her in a state of repose, and asked what I thought her to be, I should have said: ‘The Queen’s monthly nurse.’  Au reste, she has nothing of the bas bleu about her, and is very quiet and agreeable.”

On 20th May 1855, he wrote to Stanfield about the scenery of a play by Wilkie Collins which was in preparation.

“There is only one scene in the piece, and that, my tarry lad, is the inside of a light-house.  Will you come and paint it for us one night, and we’ll all turn to and help.”  And again to the same friend (22nd May 1855): “The great ambition of my life p. 216will be achieved at last, in the wearing of a pair of very coarse petticoat trousers.”

He wrote to Stanfield about the performance—“Lemon and I did every conceivable absurdity, I think, in the farce; and they never left off laughing. . . .  Then Scotch reels till 5 A.M.”

Dickens could appreciate other actors, and he writes in 1862 of Fechter’s Hamlet as a “performance of extraordinary merit; by far the most coherent, consistent, and intelligible Hamlet I ever saw.”

On the same subject he wrote to Macready: “Fechter doing wonders over the way here, with a picturesque French drama.  Miss Kate Terry, in a small part in it, perfectly charming. . . .  She has a tender love-scene in this piece, which is a really beautiful and artistic thing. . . .  I told Fechter: ‘That this is the very best piece of womanly tenderness I have ever seen on the stage, and you’ll find that no audience can miss it.’” [216]

Dombey was published early in 1848, and during the whole of 1849 and the summer and autumn of 1850 he was writing David Copperfield.  In Sir Walter Raleigh’s Shakespeare, 1907, p. 31, it is suggested that “if the father of Charles Dickens lent his likeness to Mr Micawber, it is at least possible that some not unkindly memories of the paternal advice of John Shakespeare have been preserved for us in the sage maxims of Polonius.”

p. 217In March 1852 the first number of Bleak House appeared, and he wrote to Mary Boyle, 22nd July 1852:—“I am not quite sure that I ever did like, or ever shall like, anything quite so well as Copperfield.  But I foresee, I think, some very good things in Bleak House.”  In November he records that the sale is half as large again as Copperfield.  In the winter of 1850 he showed his appreciation of Mrs Gaskell by writing to her (31st January 1850): “I do honestly know that there is no living English writer whose aid I would desire to enlist in preference to the authoress of Mary Barton (a book that most profoundly affected and impressed me).” . . . .

In September 1857, he writes to Miss Hogarth from Allonby, telling her of the homage he receives in the North—station-masters help him to alight, deputations await him at hotels, crowds see him off.  The landlady at Allonby was immensely fat, and her husband said that once on a time he could tuck his arm round her waist.  “‘And can’t you do it now,’ I said, ‘you insensible dog?  Look at me!  Here’s a picture!’  Accordingly, I got round as much of her as I could; and this gallant action was the most successful I have ever performed, on the whole.”

In 1853 he took the Château des Moulineaux at Boulogne, whence he wrote asking a friend to visit him.  He described his château:—“Excellent light wines on the premises, French cookery, millions of roses, two cows (for milk punch), vegetables cut for the pot, and handed in at the kitchen window; five summer-houses, fifteen fountains (with no water in p. 218’em), and thirty-seven clocks (keeping, as I conceive, Australian time).”

In September of the same year (1853) he writes to Walter Savage Landor:—“I may now write to thank you for the happiness you have given me by honouring my name with such generous mention on (? in) such a noble place, in your great book. . . .  Believe me, I receive the dedication like a great dignity, the worth of which I hope I thoroughly know.”

In this year, too, he gave his first public readings, which took place at Birmingham, and well would it have been for him had he never embarked on this exhausting occupation.  He describes his reading:—“A vast intelligent assemblage, and the success was most wonderful and prodigious—perfectly overwhelming and astounding altogether.”  No wonder that he was tempted to continue such a triumph!  A passage in a letter to Cerjat shows how celebrated he already was:—“He embarked at Calais for Dover, and the ‘Fact of distinguished Author’s being abroad, was telegraphed to Dover; thereupon authorities of Dover Railway detained train to London for distinguished author’s arrival, rather to the exasperation of British public.’”

In November 1854 he speaks of being “used up” after writing Hard Times.  He had intended to take a long rest, “when the idea [of that book] laid hold of me by the throat, in a very violent manner, and because the compression and close condensation necessary for that disjointed form of publication gave me perpetual trouble.  But I really was tired, which is a result so very incomprehensible that I can’t forget it.”

p. 219Dickens took pains with his style even in his letters, and it gives one a shock to find him writing that Adelaide Proctor “don’t live at the place to which her letters are addressed,” where I should write “doesn’t.”

In 1855 he began Little Dorrit in Paris, a book he originally christened Nobody’s Fault, and the change was certainly a wise one.

In this year we find him assisting at the birth of an admirable book:—“Sydney Smith’s daughter [219] has privately printed the life of her father with selections from his letters, which has great merit and often presents him exactly as he used to be.  I have strongly urged her to publish it” (i., p. 390).

In planning his public readings about this time, he writes (29th January 1855, in regard to David Copperfield):—“I never can approach the book with perfect composure (it had such perfect possession of me when I wrote it).”

One of the many instances of his scrupulous honesty is his refusal of an invitation to a Lord Mayor’s dinner.  “I do not think it consistent with my respect for myself, or for the art I profess, to blow hot and cold in the same breath; and to laugh at an institution in print, and accept the hospitality of its representative while the ink is staring us all in the face.”

In returning from reading at Sheffield, “a tremendous success,” he describes his experiences: “At two or three o’clock in the morning I stopped at Peterboro’ again, and thought of you all disconsolately.  The lady in the refreshment-room was very hard upon me, harder even than those fair enslavers usually are.  p. 220She gave me a cup of tea, as if I were a hyena and she my cruel keeper with a strong dislike to me.  I mingled my tears with it, and had a petrified bun of enormous antiquity in miserable meekness.”

The Court of Chancery finds a place in more than one of his books.  His strong feeling in regard to it is shown in the following extract from a letter to Wills: “It has become (through the vile dealing with those courts and the vermin they have called into existence) a positive precept of experience, that a man had better endure a great wrong than go, or suffer himself to be taken, into Chancery, with the dream of setting it right” (7th August 1856).

He wrote to Mrs Winter: “A necessity is upon me . . . of wandering about in my old wild way, to think.  I could no more resist this on Sunday or yesterday than a man can dispense with food. . . .  Whoever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and find his recompense in it.  I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go my way whether or no” (3rd April 1855).

In September 1855 he was at Folkestone, whence he wrote to Mrs Watson about Little Dorrit, to which he at the time intended to give the name Nobody’s Fault: “The new story is everywhere—heaving in the sea, flying with the clouds, blowing in the wind. . . .  I settle to nothing, and wonder (in the old way) at my own incomprehensibility” (16th September 1855).

In 1857 he came into possession of Gad’s Hill, and thus fulfilled the dream of his childhood.

p. 221There are many instances of his kindness to would-be authors.  In a letter to a lady he says that he cannot tell her with what reluctance he gives an opinion against her story, in spite of much that is good in it.  And about an article by another lady he writes to F. Stone (who approached Dickens on her behalf).  He says: “These Notes are destroyed by too much smartness.  For the love of God don’t condescend!  Don’t assume the attitude of saying, ‘See how clever I am, and what fun everybody else is.’”

In a letter to Miss Hogarth from Dublin he wrote: “The success at Belfast has been equal to the success here.  Enormous! . . . and the personal affection there was something overwhelming. . . .  I have never seen men go in to cry undisguisedly as they did at that reading yesterday afternoon.  They made no attempt whatever to hide it, and certainly cried more than the women.  As to the ‘Boots’ [at the Holly Tree Inn] at night, and ‘Mrs Gamp’ too, it was just one roar with me and them, for they made me laugh so that sometimes I could not compose my face to go on.”

With regard to the crowds at his readings he wrote to Miss Dickens: “Arthur [221] told you, I suppose, that he had his shirt-front and waistcoat torn off last night.  He was perfectly enraptured in consequence.  Our men got so knocked about that he gave them five shillings apiece on the spot.  John passed several minutes upside against a wall, with his head among the people’s boots.”

We hear of his readings in a letter to John Forster: “I cannot tell you what the demonstrations of personal p. 222regard and respect are; how the densest and most uncomfortably packed crowd will be hushed in an instant when I show my face.”

And again to the same friend:—“At Aberdeen we were crammed to the street twice every day. . .  And at the end of Dombey yesterday afternoon at Perth, in the cold light of day, they all got up . . . and thundered and waved their hats with that astonishing heartiness and fondness for me . . . that they took me completely off my legs.”

Elsewhere he speaks of being overwhelmed with proposals to read in America, and adds, “Will never go, unless a small fortune be first paid down in money on this side of the Atlantic.”

In the autumn he writes to Regnier, enclosing proofs of A Tale of Two Cities: “I want you to read it for two reasons.  Firstly, because I hope it is the best story I have written.  Secondly, because it treats of a very remarkable time in France; and I should very much like to know what you think of its being dramatised for a French theatre. . . .  The story is an extraordinary success here” (15th Oct. 1859).

He felt strongly about public executions.  Forster describes how Dickens saw the hanging of the Mannings, and says that “with the letter which Dickens wrote next day to the Times descriptive of what we had witnessed on that memorable morning, there began an active agitation against public executions,” which was finally successful.  But in 1860 the evil still existed; he wrote, 4th September 1860, to W. H. Wills: “Coming here from the station this morning, I met, coming from the p. 223execution of the Wentworth murderer, such a tide of ruffians as never could have flowed from any point but the gallows.  Without any figure of speech it turned one white and sick to behold them” (4th Sept. 1860).

In December he wrote:—“Pray read Great Expectations.  I think it is very droll.  It is a very great success, and seems universally liked—I suppose because it opens funnily, and with an interest too.”

In July 1861 he writes to Forster, telling him that he has altered the end of Great Expectations.  This was done at the suggestion of Bulwer Lytton, who objected to Pip being left “a solitary man.”  The curious may read the original ending in Forster’s Life, vol. iv., p. 336.

We meet many instances of Dickens’ sensitiveness to the character of his audience.  Thus he writes:—“I could have done perfectly if the audience had been bright, but they were an intent and staring audience.”

“An excellent house to-night, and an audience positively perfect . . . an intelligent and delightful response in them, like the touch of a beautiful instrument.”

He showed presence of mind, too, on an occasion.  “The gas batten came down and it looked as if the room were falling.  A lady in front row of stalls screamed and ran out wildly.  He addressed her laughing, and saying ‘no danger,’ and she sat down to a thunder of applause.”

I like his references to his children.  He writes: “Why a boy of that age should seem to have on p. 224at all times a hundred and fifty pair of double-soled boots, and be always jumping a bottom stair with the whole hundred and fifty, I don’t know.”

“Will you give my small Admiral, on his personal application, one sovereign?  I have told him to come to you for that recognition of his meritorious services.”

And to Miss Boyle: “The little Admiral has gone to visit America in the Orlando . . . he went away much gamer than any giant, attented by a chest in which he could easily have stowed himself and a wife and family of his own proportions” (28th Dec. 1861).

Dogs were to Dickens almost as dear as children.  In 1863 he writes to Percy Fitzgerald like a flattered parent: “I have been most heartily gratified by the perusal of your article on my dogs.  It has given me an amount and a kind of pleasure very unusual, and for which I thank you earnestly. . . .  I should be delighted to see you here. . . .  I and my two latest dogs, a St Bernard and a bloodhound, would be charmed with your company.”

At Boulogne, in 1856, he received a present of “the nicest of little dogs,” which its master, a cobbler, could not afford to pay tax for.  The dog escaped and got killed, and “I must lie to him—the cobbler—for life, and say that the dog is fat and happy” (ii., p. 58).

In the winter of 1862 he was reading at Cheltenham.  Macready was in the audience, and Dickens writes: “I found him quite unable to speak, and able to do nothing but square his dear old jaw all p. 225on one side, and roll his eyes (half closed), like Jackson’s picture of him.”  Macready said: “I swear to heaven that, as a piece of passion and playfulness—er—indescribably mixed up together, it does—er—no, really, Dickens! amaze me as profoundly as it moves me. . . .  How is it got at—er—how is it done—er—how one man can—well?  It lays me on my—er—back, and it is of no use talking about it!” (ii., p. 196).

Dickens seems to have been thought to have done a wrong to Jews in general by his character Fagin in Oliver Twist.  He wrote, 10th July 1863, to a Jewish lady that it “unfortunately was true of the time to which the story refers, that that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew.”  The real reply to her letter was Riah in Our Mutual Friend.

Of that book he says: “It is a combination of drollery with romance, which requires a great deal of pains and a perfect throwing away of points that might be amplified, but I hope it is very good” (ii., p. 225).

In speaking of his public readings he refers to wearing a flower given him.  This doubtless explains why, when he read at Cambridge, he wore first a red rose and then a white one in his buttonhole, which to my undergraduate mind seemed “dandiacal.”  Of this occasion he wrote: “The reception at Cambridge last night was something to be proud of in such a place.  The colleges mustered in full force from the biggest guns to the smallest, and went far beyond even Manchester in the roars of welcome and the rounds of cheers. . . .  The place was crammed, and the success the most brilliant I have ever seen” (ii., p. 284).

p. 226In 1867 we again come across a reference to the exhaustion caused by his public readings.  “On Friday night I quite astonished myself; but I was taken so faint afterwards that they laid me on a sofa at the hall for half an hour.”

In spite of protestations he went to America, and in regard to his visit he wrote in 1867: “I do not expect as much money as the calculators estimate, but I cannot set the hope of a large sum of money aside.”

And from Boston he wrote to his daughter: “At the New York barriers, where the tickets are on sale, . . . speculators went up and down offering twenty dollars for anybody’s place.  The money was in no case accepted” (ii., p. 310).

And again: “At nine o’clock this morning there were two thousand people in waiting, and they had begun to assemble in the bitter cold as early as two o’clock” (ii., p. 311).

And to Miss Hogarth, 16th December 1867, N.Y.:—“Dolby continues to be the most unpopular man in America (mainly because he can’t get four thousand people into a room that holds two thousand), and is reviled in print daily.”

Dickens returned from America in April 1868, but soon made another visit.  He wrote to Wilkie Collins from Boston:—“Being in Boston . . . I took it into my head to go over the medical school, and survey the holes and corners in which that extraordinary murder was done by Webster” (12th Jan. 1868).

This must be the man who (as I was told in the U.S.) said to his daughters, “What should you say p. 227if I were the murderer?”  They were looking at the notice of a reward for the detection of the murderer.  I think the body was burnt by Webster in his laboratory.

In regard to his readings, he wrote: “It was but this last year that I set to and learned every word of my readings; and from ten years ago to last night, I have never read to an audience but I have watched for an opportunity of striking out something better somewhere” (11th Feb. 1868).

He was evidently overstrained and was only kept going by stimulants.  He wrote to Miss Dickens (29th March 1868): “I have coughed from two or three in the morning until five or six, and have been absolutely sleepless.  I have had no appetite besides, and no taste.”

And again, to the same correspondent, he writes that he has established this system:—“At seven in the morning (in bed) a tumbler of new cream and two tablespoonfuls of rum.  At twelve, a sherry cobbler and a biscuit.  At three (dinner-time) a pint of champagne.  At five minutes to eight, an egg beaten up in a glass of sherry.  Between the parts, the strongest beef-tea that can be made, drunk hot.  At quarter past ten, soup, and anything to drink that I can fancy. . . .  Dolby is as tender as a woman and as watchful as a doctor” (2nd April 1868).

On the return voyage he was asked to read, and “I respectfully replied that sooner than do it, I would assault the captain, and be put in irons.”

When he arrived at home the two Newfoundland dogs behaved exactly as usual: this may remind us p. 228of another C.D.  My father used to tell us how, after his five years’ voyage in the Beagle, he went into the yard at his Shrewsbury home and whistled in a particular way, and the dog came for a walk as if he had done the same thing the day before.  Two of Dickens’ dogs were, however, greatly excited: the faithful Mrs Bouncer being one of them.

A letter to Cerjat (1868) gives an echo from the great railway accident in which Dickens had so lucky an escape:—

“My escape in the Staplehurst accident of three years ago is not to be obliterated from my nervous system.  To this hour I have sudden vague rushes of terror, even when riding [228] in a hansom cab, which are perfectly unreasonable but quite insurmountable.  I used to make nothing of driving a pair of horses habitually through the most crowded parts of London.  I cannot now drive, with comfort myself, on the country roads here; and I doubt if I could ride at all in the saddle.”

In 1866 he consulted Dr Beard about symptoms of grave significance.  And in 1869 Beard went down to Preston and put a stop to a projected reading, and ruled, with the approval of Sir Thomas Watson, that anything like a reading tour must be finally stopped.

In January and March 1870, he was working at Edwin Drood, his unfinished book.  He gave some farewell readings, and his last public appearance was at the Royal Academy dinner, where he spoke of Maclise.

p. 229His daughter has given a touching account of his death.  He was at Gad’s Hill on 30th May 1870 at work over Edwin Drood, but there was “an appearance of fatigue and weariness about him very unlike his usual air of fresh activity.”

On 8th June 1870 he owned to being very ill.  He became incoherent, and being advised to lie down, he said indistinctly, “Yes, on the ground,” and these were his last words.  In the evening of 9th June, he shuddered, gave one sigh, a tear rolled down his face, and he died.

Dickens had wished to be buried in the little churchyard of Shorne in Kent; but the authorities of Rochester Cathedral asked that he might be buried there.  Finally, Dean Stanley intervened and he was buried on 14th June in Westminster Abbey.  His daughter says that every year on the ninth of June flowers are strewn by “unknown hands on that spot so sacred to us, and to all who knew and loved him.”


The following pages give the results of observations on the dates at which the commoner plants flowered at Brookthorpe, near Gloucester, as well as the dates of a few other facts, such as the days in which the songs of birds were first heard.

My observations began in April 1917, originating in the obvious lateness of some of the vegetation.  The record extends from 1st April to 21st August, and contains only 160 observations, whereas in Blomefield’s Naturalist’s Calendar, [231b] with which I have compared them, the number of recorded facts is much greater.  I may express my indebtedness to the minutely accurate work of this author; I only wish that my small contribution to his subject were more worthy of my guide.

What interest my observations may possess depends on the fact that the spring of 1917 was exceptionally cold.  For this statement I rely on the weekly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office, in which for each week of the year the deviation from the normal temperature is given for a large number p. 232of stations in the British Islands. [232]  I have taken as a standard the temperature at Clifton, which seems to be the station nearest to Gloucester.

Now, though the temperature has undoubtedly a great effect on the time of flowering, it is by no means the only element in the problem.  The first plant on my list is Ranunculus ficaria, which I noted as flowering on 1st April, whereas in Blomefield the mean of seventeen yearly observations is 28th February, the earliest date for this plant being 21st January, the latest 28th March.  The extreme lateness of the Celandine was doubtless due to the cold spring of 1917.  But what are the elements of the problem which fixed on this plant the general habit of flowering early in the year?

In some cases we can see the advantages in early flowering.  Thus the average date on which the Hazel comes into bloom is 26th January, and this, for a plant of which the pollen is distributed by the wind, may be an advantage, since there are no leaves to obstruct the dispersal of the pollen grains.

It may be answered that those Conifers which do not shed their leaves in winter, e.g. the Yew or the Scotch Fir, are nevertheless wind-fertilised.  But this, though a point not to be forgotten, is no argument against what has been said of the Hazel.

On the whole, however, we are excessively ignorant as to the biological meaning of the dates at which plants flower.  What advantage does the orchis Spiranthes, well called autumnalis, gain from flowering in August or September?  Or again, what p. 233biological characters are there to distinguish the plants flowering in June from those which do not show themselves till July?  It looks, to put the thing fancifully, as if a parliament of plants had met and decided that some arrangement must be made since the world would be inconveniently full if they all flowered at once; or they may have believed that there were not enough insects to fertilise the whole Flora, if all their services were needed in one glorious month of crowded life.  Therefore it was ruled that the months should be portioned among the aspirants, some choosing May, others June or July.  But it must have been difficult to manage, and must have needed an accurate knowledge of their own natural history.  I must apologise for this outbreak, and I will only add that this does seem to me an interesting problem, namely, what are the elements in the struggle for life which fix the dates on which plants habitually flower?

The most striking instance of the effect of the temperature is the behaviour of arctic plants. [233]  In Nova Zembla the summer consists of two months, July and August, during which the mean temperature is about 5° C.  In these conditions, cases such as the following occur: at Pitlekaj the last nine days of June showed a mean temperature of below 0° C., while the average for the first nine days of July was between +4° and +6°, and on 10th July all the four species of Willow were in full bloom, the dwarf Birch, Sedum palustre, Polygonum, Cassiope, and Diapensia were in flower, and within a week the whole vegetation was flowering.  There was, in fact, a great rush p. 234or explosion of all sorts of flowers as soon as the temperature rose: not that dropping fire which begins with us with Mezereon in January and ends with Ivy in the autumn.

In the Arctic Regions temperature seems the absolute master, but in our climate this is clearly not so.  The best evidence of an inherent tendency to flower on a certain date is that given by Askenasy [234] in his observations on Prunus avium (the Gean or wild Cherry).  He recorded the weight of 100 buds at regular intervals throughout the year, and thus got the following results:—




1st July


Period I.

1st August



1st September



1st October



1st November


Period II.

1st December



1st January



1st February

Period III.

1st March



2nd April



8th April




There are thus three periods: I., Formation; II., Rest; III., Development.  So much for preliminaries; the really interesting point is the reaction of the buds to forcing by artificially raising the temperature.  Thus branches put into a warm room at the end of October showed absolutely no tendency to develop.  In December, however, they could be forced, and as time went on they proved to be more and more amenable to the effect of a rise in temperature.  In other words, the invisible process of preparing for the spring was automatically proceeding.  The following figures give the number of days of p. 235forcing needed at various dates to make cherry branches flower:—

14th December

27 days

10th January

18 ,,

2nd  February

17 ,,

2nd  March

12 ,,

11th March

10½ ,,

23rd March

8 ,,

3rd  April

5 ,,


My object in discussing this case is to show that the effect of temperature on plant-development is not a simple problem.  The most picturesque association with what is known as the science of Phænology (i.e. the lore of the appearance of flowers) is its practical connection with ancient agricultural maxims.  Blomefield puts the thing very clearly [235]: “The middle of March may be, in the long run, the most suitable time for sowing various kinds of grain,” but the husbandman may easily go wrong in this or other operations if he sticks to a fixed date.  But if he knows that the conditions necessary for his purpose are also necessary for the flowering of some familiar herb, he will be safer in waiting for his guide to show itself than in going by dates.  Wrongly or rightly, this assumption has been commonly followed.

Stillingfleet quotes from Aristophanes that “the crane points out the time of sowing” and the kite “when it is time to shear your sheep.”  An old Swedish proverb tells us that “when you see the white wagtail you may turn your sheep into the fields; and when you see the wheatear you may sow your grain.”  I have come across an English proverb: “When the sloe tree is as white as a sheet, you p. 236must sow your barley be it dry or wet.”  Miss Jekyll in her book Old West Surrey, speaking of the wryneck, quotes: “When we hears that, we very soon thinks about rining (barking) the oaks.”

There is something delightfully picturesque in the thought of man thus helped and guided in some of his most vital operations by the proceedings of the world of plants and animals, to whom that hard task-master Natural Selection has taught so much.

I have gone through Blomefield’s Calendar, recording for each species the number of days between the earliest and latest known dates of flowering.  Thus the Mezereon did not flower earlier than 11th January or later than 2nd February; this means that the date of flowering may, as far as we know, vary to the extent of twenty-three days.

If we look at the recorded dates for all flowers appearing in February, we find great irregularity.  Thus Daphne laureola has a range of twenty-two days, whereas for Vinca minor the figure is 114.  The average for February is 75.6, that for March is 55.6, for May 29.5, July 29.6.  These figures suggest that the range of dates of flowering diminishes as the temperature becomes less variable.  But the variation in summer temperature, though small relatively to the same factor in the cold months, may nevertheless be sufficient to affect the flowering habit.  Yet there must be many factors in the problem of which we know nothing.  It is a curious little fact that the summer range should be roughly one month.

Let us now consider my observations for 1917 as compared with Blomefield’s record of the mean date of flowering of the same species.

p. 237The most striking feature occurs at the beginning of April, when Blomefield’s observations are on the whole markedly earlier than my record of corresponding facts.  Of those noted by me as flowering in April, one should have flowered in January, four in February, five in March, six considerably earlier in April, and two slightly earlier in that month.

In May Blomefield’s dates are still mainly earlier than mine, in spite of the fact that in this month the temperature was above the normal.  In June, on the whole (though with much variability), his dates do not seriously differ from mine.  In the first three weeks of June the temperature was above the normal.  In July, except at the beginning and end of the month, my observations are clearly later in date than Blomefield’s, and during rather more than half of July the temperature was below the normal.  On the whole, and in spite of many doubtful points, the difference between my results and Blomefield’s seems to me to be related to the curve of temperature, in an irregular manner it is true, but sufficiently to be worthy of record.  It has been said [237] that Thoreau, the American recluse and naturalist, knew the look of the country-side so intimately that had he been miraculously transferred to an unknown time of year, he would have recognised the season “within a day or two from the flowers at his feet.”  If this is true, either American plants are much more businesslike than ours (which is as it should be), or else Thoreau did not test his opinions too severely, and this seems even more probable.

p. 238Notes.

*  This column gives Blomefield’s mean dates.

+  S is the date on which the song was first heard.

L  is the date of leafing.

N  that of nesting.

The other entries are the dates of flowering.



Fact observed

F. D.

Blomefield. *


Celandine (Ficaria)


April 1

Feb. 28




,, 2

Feb. 10




,, 2

Mar. 25


Daisy (Bellis)


,, 4

Jan. 29


Wild Rose


,, 6

Mar. 15


Wild Violet


,, 16

April 16


Lamium purpureum


,, 17

Feb. 19




,, 19

Mar. 19




,, 21

Feb. 13




,, 21

April 2




,, 21

April 2




,, 22

Mar. 5




,, 22

Apr. 7


Humble Bee


,, 22

Mar. 17




,, 23

Apr. 29




,, 26

Feb. 21




May 1

May 3


Lady’s Smock


,, 2

April 19


Nepeta glechoma


,, 2

Mar. 30




,, 3

April 4




,, 3

April 11




,, 3

April 1




,, 4

April 25


Pedicularis sylvatica


,, 6





,, 6

April 13




,, 6

April 29

p. 23926

Bugle (Ajuga)


May 7

May 3




,, 7

May 5


Lamium album


,, 10

Mar 13


Ranunculus auricomus


,, 10

April 21




,, 10

April 21




,, 10

May 1


Blue Bell (Scilla)


,, 11



Stellaria holostea


,, 11



Lamium galeobdelon


,, 11

May 13


Plantago lanceolata


,, 12

April 27


Red Clover


,, 12

May 8


Vicia sepium


,, 12



Myosotis arvensis


,, 12

May 18


Geranium robertianum


,, 12

May 7


Veronica chamædrys


,, 12

April 28




,, 13

May 3


Ranunculus bulbosus


,, 13

April 24




,, 14

April 22


Asperula odorata


,, 15

May 1


Ranunculus acris *


,, 16

May 2


Allium ursinum


,, 16



Orchis mascula


,, 16

May 26




,, 17



White Thorn


,, 18

May 7


Chærophyllum silvestre


,, 18

April 18


Alchemilla vulgaris


,, 21



Carex pendula


,, 22



Orchis morio


,, 23

May 12


Geum urbanum


,, 28

May 25


Rubus cæsius


,, 28

May 28




,, 29

May 27


Veronica beccabunga


,, 29

May 25


Dog Daisy


,, 30

May 25


Stachys sylvatica


,, 30

June 11

p. 24058

Rhinanthus cristagalli


May 31

May 30


Lychnis flos-cuculi


,, 31

May 19


Leontodon hispidus


,, 31



Ranunculus arvensis


June 3

May 30


Vicia sativa


,, 3

June 8




,, 4

June 2


Galium aparine


,, 4

May 29


Urtica dioica (male)


,, 5

June 6


Plantago media


,, 6

May 27


Cornus sanguinea


,, 6

June 9


Tamus communis


,, 6

June 7


Euonymus europæus


,, 6



Solanum dulcamara


,, 6

June 13


Scrophularia nodosa


,, 7



Polygonum bistorta


,, 8

May 25


Linum catharticum


,, 8

June 7


Lathyrus pratensis


,, 8

June 23


Poterium sanguisorba


,, 8

May 12


Bryonia dioica


,, 9

May 28


Garden Honeysuckle


,, 9



Dactylis glomerata


,, 10

June 7


Rumex obtusifolium


,, 10

June 23




,, 10

May 31


Horse Radish


,, 11



Wild Rose


,, 11

June 16


Quaking Grass


,, 11

June 15


Orchis maculata


May 11

June 6


Matricaria camomilla


,, 12

June 16


Helianthemum vulgare


,, 12

May 27


Wild Thyme


,, 12

June 9




,, 12

May 15


Linaria cymballaria


,, 12





,, 12



Epilobium montanum


,, 12

July 2

p. 24195

Tway Blade


June 12

May 17


Trifolium repens


,, 13

May 23


Carduus palustris


,, 14

June 21


Genista tinctoria


,, 14



Centaurea nigra


,, 17

June 20


Chrysanthemum præaltum


,, 17





,, 17

June 26


Meadow Sweet


,, 17

June 30


Potentilla reptans


,, 18

June 15


Œnanthe crocata


,, 18



Galium mollugo


,, 18

June 15


Convolvulus arvensis


,, 18

June 9


Lapsana communis


,, 18

June 23


Papaver rheas


,, 21

June 4


Centaurea scabiosa


,, 21

July 3


Orchis pyramidalis


,, 21

July 1


Malva moschata


,, 21



Galium verum


,, 21

July 5




,, 21

June 16




,, 22

June 30


Potentilla tormentilla


,, 25

May 16


Orchis latifolia


,, 25

May 31


Enchanter’s Nightshade


,, 26

June 24


Cirsium arvense


,, 27

July 6


Agrimonia eupatoria


,, 27

July 1


Convolvulus sepium


,, 27

July 8


Hypericum hirsutum


,, 27

June 28


Ononis arvensis


July 1

July 2


Scabiosa arvensis


,, 1



Lime Tree


,, 2

July 2


Onobrychis sativa


,, 3

June 8


Lysimachia nummularia


,, 5

July 5


Campanula rotundifolia


,, 6

July 1


Calamintha clinopodium


,, 6

July 12

p. 242130

Verbascum nigrum


July 7

July 4


Achillea millefolium


,, 7

June 29


Scabiosa columbaria


,, 7

June 20


Carduus acaulis


,, 7

July 6


Wild Parsnip


,, 7

June 16


Clematis vitalba


,, 10

July 14


Bee Orchis


,, 11

June 19


Anthyllis vulneraria


,, 11

June 14


Stachys betonica


,, 11



Wild Carrot


,, 11

June 20


Sedum album


,, 11



Senecio jacobæa


,, 11

July 2


Parietaria officinalis


,, 12

June 19


Plantago major


,, 13

June 28


Campanula trachelium


,, 17

July 12


Origanum vulgare


,, 17

July 8


Bartsia odontites


,, 17

July 20


Æthusa cynapium


,, 17

July 20


Helosciadium nodiflorum


,, 18

July 16




,, 19

July 22


Verbena officinalis


,, 25

July 12


Reseda luteola


,, 27

June 13


Inula dysenterica


,, 29

July 24


Centranthus ruber


,, 29

June 5


Euphrasia officinalis


Aug. 3



Inula conyza


,, 3



Mentha aquatica


,, 8



Habenaria viridis


,, 11



Gentiana amarella


,, 17

Aug. 31


[1]  From the Cornhill Magazine, March 1919.

[2]  The large-leaved lime is described by Hooker as being a doubtful “denizen.”

[3]  A Naturalist’s Calendar, by Leonard Blomefield (formerly Jenyns).  Cambridge University Press.  Edited by Francis Darwin, 1903.

[4a]  Calendar, p. 3, note b.

[4b]  The Student’s Flora of the British Islands, 3rd ed., 1884, p. 191.

[5]  I was led to examine them by a writer in The Times (6th February 1918), who describes the buds as being as blue “as wood-smoke from cottage chimneys.”

[6] Ludwig has seen creatures, which run on the surface of the water, carry away duckweed pollen.  These fertilisers belong to the families Hydrometridæ, Corisidæ, and Naucoridæ.

[7]  This, and part of what follows, is from unpublished notes of lectures given at Cambridge.

[11]  The present discussion is partly taken from my introduction to Blomefield’s Naturalist’s Calendar, 1903.

[12a]  Observations in Natural History, p. 334.

[12b]  Earliest date noted, 21st April; latest, 8th May.

[12c]  Earliest date, 21st March; latest, 7th May (fifteen years’ observation).

[12d]  Quoted in Prior’s Popular Names of British Plants, 3rd ed., 1879, p. 59.

[15]  Reprinted from the Cornhill Magazine, June 1919.

[16]  Though, I confess, I only guess at some of them.

[17a]  Fogle means a silk handkerchief, according to Farmer and Henley’s Dictionary of Slang, 1905, and may perhaps suggest the picking of pockets.  Its connection with Bandanna is obvious.

[17b]  The appropriateness of Burke is sufficiently obvious.  The trial of Thurtell by Judge Park was also a cause celèbre.  There was a ballad of the day in which the victim is described with some bloodthirsty detail which I omit:

“His name was Mr William Weare,
He lived in Lyons Inn.”

After the murder Thurtell drove back to London and had a hearty supper at an eating-house.  Judge Park, who tried him, is said to have exclaimed: “Commit a murder and eat six pork chops!  Good God, what dreams the man must have had.”  Catherine Hayes was also a well-known miscreant.

[18]  A collocation preceding by half a dozen years Doyle’s immortal travels of Brown, Jones, and Robinson.

[19]  There is also a Mrs Glowry (chap. xxvi.), who speculates as to whether the Pope is to fall in 1836 or 1839.

[20]  The History of Pickwick, 1891, pp. 14, 15.

[21]  The History of Pickwick, 1891, p. 153.

[23]  How much better is the name Madge Wildfire for a somewhat similar character in The Heart of Midlothian.

[25]  The name of the ducal seat Gatherum Castle is utterly bad.

[26]  Here referred to by his Christian name only.  I think it was this eminent M.D. who was called in when Bishop Grantley was dying.

[29a]  In two volumes: Oxford, 1857.

[29b]  The book, according to the Dictionary of National Biography, was edited by Warton and Huddesford.

[30a]  “Even when a Boy, he [T. H.] was observed to be continually poring over the Old Tomb-Stones in his own Church-yard, as soon almost as he was Master of the Alphabet.”

[30b]  The following description is taken from Reliquiæ Hearnianæ, vol. ii., p. 904.  Hearne wrote:—

5th Feb. 1729.—“My best friend, Mr Francis Cherry, was a very handsome man, particularly when young.  His hands were delicately white.  He was a man of great parts, and one of the finest gentlemen in England.  K. James II., seeing him on horseback in Windsor forest, when his majesty was hunting, asked who it was, and . . . said he never saw any one sit a horse better in his life.

“Mr Cherry was educated at the free school at Bray. . . .  He was gentleman commoner at Edem-hall anno 1682. . . .  The hall was then very full, particularly there were then a great many gentlemen commoners there.”

[30c]  To this school he went daily on foot, three miles there and three back.

[31]  Transcriber’s note: reproduced as printed.

[39]  The close of the parenthesis is wanting in the original.

[41]  10th Feb. 1721–2.—“Whereas the university deputations on Ash Wednesday should begin exactly at one o’clock, they did not begin this year till two or after, which is owing to several colleges having altered their hour of dining from eleven to twelve, occasioned from people’s lying in bed longer than they used to do.”

[46a]  The word heartick does not occur in the New Oxford Dictionary.

[46b]  Of Lord Baltimore’s family.

[56a]  Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, i., p. 138.

[56b]  As described in Rustic Sounds, p. 2.

[60]  Pickwick, chap. xliv.

[62]  The “scorers were prepared to notch the runs” (Pickwick, chap. vii.).

[63]  He was afterwards Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford: he died in 1893.

[67]  Rustic Sounds, p. 92.

[68a]  During my life in London as a medical student I had the happiness of living with my uncle, Erasmus Darwin, one beloved under the name of Uncle Ras by all his nephews and nieces.

[68b]  In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species.

[71]  Old English Instruments of Music, by Francis W. Galpin, 1910.

[72]  Modern harps, however, have pedals for raising the natural note of any string by a semi-tone.

[73a]  It has also a greater compass than the rote.

[73b]  In obedience to good authority I have here adopted the spelling Clairsech instead of Clarsech.  I presume that the spelling Clarsy (p. 74) is intentionally phonetic.

[74a]  We imagine the gittern to be laid flat on a table with strings uppermost.

[74b]  Galpin, p. 21.

[77a]  In Mr Dolmetsch’s The Interpretation of the Music of the XVIlth and XVIIIth Centuries (N.D.), the author also points out, p. 446, that the frets of the viol give to the stopped notes the “clear ring” of the open strings.  He claims also that in the viol “the manner of holding the bow and ordering its strokes . . . prevents the strong accents characteristic” of the violin, and facilitates “an even and sustained tone.”

He recommends (p. 452) that frets should be added to the Double Bass, which would “give clearness to many rapid passages which at present only make a rumbling noise.”

[77b]  On Mace’s title-page he describes himself as “one of the Clerks of Trinity Colledge in the University of Cambridge.”

[85]  See my book, Rustic Sounds, 1917, where the pipe and tabor are more fully treated.

[87]  A curious rustic shawm which survived in Oxfordshire until modern times is the Whithorn or May Horn.  It was made by a strip of bark twisted into a conical tube fixed together with hawthorn prickles and sounded by a reed made of the green bark of the young willow.  The instruments were made every year for the Whit Monday hunt which took place in the forest.

[88]  They were also known as wayte pipes, after the watchmen (waytes) who played on them.

[89a]  It is believed to have given its name to the well-known dance.

[89b]  Galpin, p. 172.

[90]  A straight horn, however, existed.

[91]  So spelled, in order to distinguish it from the cornet à piston, once so popular.

[92]  Mr Dolmetsch, op. cit., p. 459, says that the serpent “was still common in French churches about the middle of the nineteenth century; and although, as a rule, the players had no great skill, those who have heard its tone combined with deep men’s voices in plain-song melodies, know that no other wind or string instrument has efficiently replaced it.”

[94a]  No specimen of the true portative is known to be in existence (Galpin, p. 228).

[94b]  Rustic Sounds, p. 197.

[96a]  Page 244.

[96b]  Page 249.

[96c]  The old name for the kettle-drum was nakers, a word of Arabic or Saracenic origin.

[96d]  The larger of the kettle-drums has a range of five notes from the bass F, immediately below the line.  The smaller drum’s range (also of five notes) is from the B flat, just below the highest note of the bigger drum (p. 253).

[97]  The earliest use of the name kettle-drum is in 1551 (Galpin, p. 251).

[100a]  The name, however, is apparently not as old as the ceremonies.  It is said by Britten and Holland (Dictionary of Plant-names) to have been invented by Gerard (1597).

[100b]  Prior, The Popular Names of British Plants, ed. iii., 1879, p. 89.

[100c]  Blomefield (formerly Jenyns) was a contemporary of my father’s at Cambridge, and was remarkable for wide knowledge, and especially for the minute accuracy of his work.  He kept for many years a diary of the dates of flowering of plants and of other phenomena, which the Cambridge University Press republished in 1903 as A Naturalist’s Calendar.

[106]  Guy Mannering, vol. ii., ch. xxiv.

[107]  Britten and Holland.

[114]  Bentham, Illustrations of the British Flora, 5th ed., 1901, p. 68.

[115a]  Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, O.M., G.C.S.I., by Leonard Huxley, 2 vols.  John Murray, 1918.

[115b]  The only obvious exception seems to be that too much space has been given to Sir Joseph’s letters to Mr La Touche, inasmuch as they are not especially interesting.  It is not clear why Sir Joseph corresponded so much with Mr La Touche.  Can it be that he wished to placate him as being his son’s schoolmaster?

[116]  i., p. 5.

[122a]  Hooker’s son Brian was named after him.

[122b]  Hooker’s Himalayan Journals was published in 1854, and dedicated to Charles Darwin by “his affectionate friend.”

[123]  As a further instance of the treatment Hooker received from the Indian authorities, I cannot resist quoting from vol. ii., p. 145: “The Court of Directors snubbed him before he set out, refusing him assistance and official letters of introduction to India, and even a passage out. . . .  It was Hooker who surveyed and mapped the whole province of Sikkim, and opened up the resources of Darjiling at the cost of captivity . . . and the consequent loss of all his instruments and part of his notes and collections.  Yet the India Board actually sold on Government behalf the presents the Rajah made him after his release,” though they owed to his energy the Government sites of the tea and cinchona cultivation.

[124]  “On the Reception of the Origin of Species,” Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ii., p. 197.

[125]  Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ii., p. 241.

[127a]  More Letters, i., p. 117.

[127b]  Life of Hooker, i., p. 536.

[128a]  And finally, after Hooker’s retirement, Director.

[128b]  ii., p. 139.

[128c]  ii., p. 142.

[131]  In 1882 Hooker had written to Darwin:—“The First Commissioner (one of your d---d liberals) wrote a characteristically illiberal and ill-bred minute . . . in effect warning me against your putting the Board to any expense! . . .  I flared up at this, and told the Secretary . . . that the F. C., rather than send me such a minute, should have written a letter of thanks to you.”

[133]  That is to say, to a great-grandson of Josiah Wedgwood.

[137a]  The History of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, by Norman Moore, M.D., London.  C. Arthur Pearson, Limited, 1918.

[137b]  Sir Norman Moore expresses his thanks to Mr Thomas Hayes, the present Clerk of the Hospital, for his courtesy on innumerable occasions during the progress of the author’s researches.

[141]  It is curious that, although the Christian names of men occurring in the history are quite ordinary, the women’s names are often unfamiliar, e.g., Godena, Sabelina, Hawisia, Lecia, Auina, Hersent, Wakerilda.

[142]  Doubtless Dr Moore himself.

[144]  William may have come from the village of Bassingbourne, near Cambridge.

[145]  See Henry IV., Part ii., Act v., Scene v.

[150]  In 1561 a new seal was made which is still in use.

[154]  Here and elsewhere I have fallen a victim to Dr Moore’s pleasant gift of narrative, for I cannot pretend that either Paulus Jovius or Robert Browning are connected with the hospital.

[161]  Autobiography of Sir George Biddell Airy, edited by Wilfrid Airy.  Cambridge: At the University Press, 1896.

[164]  My uncle, Henry Wedgwood, as an undergraduate at Jesus, made a happy use of Peacock’s name:—

“Walk in and see
Our menagerie,
For amateurs a feast,
Where Dawes and Peacock
Are our birds
And . . . is our beast.”

I have forgotten the name of the beast, but he was an unpopular fellow of Jesus.

[166]  I am surprised that so large a sum was charged in those days; in my time the coach received £8.

[175a]  A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith, by his daughter, Lady Holland.  With a selection from his letters, edited by Mrs Austin.  2nd Edit., 1855.

[175b]  Her maiden name was Pybus; they were married in 1799 or 1800.

[175c]  Sydney Smith believed (i., p. 403) that “one of the Duke of Wellington’s earliest victories was at Eton, over” Sydney’s “eldest brother Bobus.”

[176a]  The remark was allowable since Robert was singularly handsome (i., p. 4).

[176b]  I gather that the fellowship was but £100 per annum.

[177a]  Francis Jeffrey, afterwards Lord Jeffrey, 1773–1850, was the son of a high Tory, but personally a Liberal.  He is described as being healthy though diminutive.  Sydney Smith makes jokes about his stature: e.g., 3rd September 1809, “Are we to see you? (a difficult thing at all times to do).”  In character he is described as “nervous, sensitive, and tender.”  Sydney wrote to him in 1806:—If “you could be alarmed into the semblance of modesty you would charm everybody; but remember my joke against you about the moon;—‘D---n the solar system! bad light—planets too distant—pestered with comets—feeble contrivance;—could make a better with great ease.’”

[177b]  Horner, Francis (1778–1817), called to the Bar in 1807, and was through the influence of Lord Carrington returned for the borough of Wendover.  He was a man of sound judgment and unassuming manners, of scrupulous integrity, and great amiability of character.  He was a correct and forcible speaker, and though without the gift of humour, exercised a remarkable influence in the House of Commons, owing to his personal character.  He was one of the original founders of the Edinburgh Review, the other two being Jeffrey and Sydney Smith.

[178a]  The closely allied name, Sabelina, occurs in Sir N. Moore’s History of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, vol. i., p. 64.

[178b]  It was said (i., p. 138) that the King, who had been reading Sydney’s Edinburgh Review articles, remarked that he was a very clever fellow but would never be a bishop.

[183]  It appears (i., p. 282) that he felt deeply the fact that he had not been offered a Bishopric, though he had made up his mind to refuse it.  Lord Melbourne is said to have much regretted not having made a bishop of Sydney.

[185]  Sydney wrote of Macaulay: “I always prophesied his greatness from the first moment I saw him, then a very young and unknown man, on the Northern Circuit.”  His enemies might say he talked rather too much, “but now he has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful” (i., p. 415).

[186]  The wife of Henry Richard Vassall Fox, 3rd Baron Holland (1773–1840), only son of Stephen, 2nd Lord Holland by Lady Mary Fitzpatrick, daughter of the Earl of Upper Ossory.  He was a consistent Liberal in politics, and supported all measures against the slave trade and was in favour of emancipation, and this in spite of being the owner of “extensive plantations in Jamaica.”  After his death the following verse in his handwriting was found on his dressing-table:—

“Nephew of Fox, and friend of Grey,
   Enough my mead of fame
If those who deign’d to observe me say
   I injured neither name.”

In the version quoted by Sydney Smith (Memoir and Letters, vol. ii., p. 457) the last line is “I tarnished neither name”; the punctuation is slightly different from the above, which is taken from the Dict. of Nat. Biog.

[199]  My authorities are:—The Letters of Charles Dickens, edited by his sister-in-law and his eldest daughter, 2 vols., 1882; The Life of Charles Dickens, by John Forster, 8th Edit., 1872; My Father as I recall him, by Mamie Dickens, Roxburghe Press, N.D.  The authoress says that “it is twenty-six years since my father died”; this would make the date of her book 1896.

[200a]  His son.

[200b]  M. Dickens, p. 26.

[201]  Forster, i., p. 4.

[202a]  Forster, i., p. 9.

[202b]  In writing to Walter Savage Landor (Letters, ii., p. 48), 1856, he asks (in reference to Robinson Crusoe) if it is not a testimony to the homely force of truth that—“One of the most popular books on earth has nothing in it to make anyone laugh or cry.  Yet I think, with some confidence, that you never did either over any passage in Robinson Crusoe.  In particular, I took Friday’s death as one of the least tender and (in the true sense) least sentimental things ever written. . . .”  He goes on:—“It is a book I read very much; and the wonder of its prodigious effect on me and everyone, and the admiration thereof, grows on me the more I observe this curious fact.”

[203]  Was it chance or intention that gave his hero the initials D.C., an inversion of C.D.?

[205]  Pickwick, chap. ix.

[206]  A corruption of Moses in the Vicar of Wakefield.

[208]  His sense of the reality of his characters is shown by his daughter’s recollection of her father pointing out the exact spot where Mr Winkle called out, “Whoa! I have dropped my whip.”

[209]  William Charles Macready, 1793–1873, the son of William Macready, actor and manager, was born in London; his mother was an actress.

In 1803 he went to Rugby, the idea being that he should go to the Bar.  In 1810 Macready made his first appearance on the stage, taking the part of Romeo with considerable success.  Mrs Siddons, with whom he acted, encouraged him—telling him to “study, study, study, and do not marry till you are thirty.”  During the four years he remained with his father he played seventy-four parts.  He seems to have failed to agree with his father, and took an engagement at Bath in 1814.  In 1816 he made his first appearance at Covent Garden.  Kean was in the audience and applauded loudly.  His Richard III. (in London 1819) took a firm hold of the public and established “a dangerous rivalry for Kean.”  His temper seems to have been violent, for in 1836 he knocked down Bunn as “a damned scoundrel” and had to pay damages.  In 1837 he was manager of Covent Garden Theatre.  He was the original Claude Melnotte in 1838.

In 1850 he played at Windsor Castle under Charles Kean, who “sent him a courteous message and received a characteristically churlish reply.”  He took the last of many farewell performances in 1851.  His diary and reminiscences have been edited by Sir F. Pollock.

[216]  In 1858 he wrote to a friend asking him to convey a note of thanks “to the author of Scenes of Clerical Life whose two first stories I can never say enough of, I think them so truly admirable.”  He adds that they are undoubtedly by a woman.

[219]  Lady Holland.

[221]  Mr Arthur Smith, his friend and secretary.

[228]  It was curious that he should use so provincial an expression as riding in a cab.

[231a]  Originally published in the proceedings of the Cotteswold Nat. Field Club, 1918, under the title, “The Effects of the Cold Spring of 1917 on the Flowering of Plants.”

[231b]  A Naturalist’s Calendar kept at Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridgeshire.  By Leonard Blomefield (formerly Jenyns).  Edited by Francis Darwin.  Cambridge: at the University Press, 1903.

[232]  I am also indebted to Mr Embrey for his kind help in this matter.

[233]  Kjellman, in Nordenskiold’s Studien und Forschungen, 1885, pp. 449, 467.

[234]  Botan: Zeitung, 1877.

[235]  A Naturalist’s Calendar, p. xii.

[237]  The Times Literary Supplement, 12th January 1917, p. 326.