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Title: The Town: Its Memorable Characters and Events

Author: Leigh Hunt

Release date: February 10, 2013 [eBook #42060]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Melissa McDaniel and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


Transcriber's Note:

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation in the original document have been preserved.

The quote starting with "The piety and order" on page 95 should perhaps start on the previous page with "My first recollection of him."

On page 131, "vill a" is probably a typo.

On page 263, "February 1661-2" is perhaps a typo for "February 1662."










In this volume entitled "The Town," the reader will find an account of London, partly topographical and historical, but chiefly recalling the memories of remarkable characters and events associated with its streets between St. Paul's and St. James's; being that part of the great metropolis which may be said to have constituted "The Town" when that term was commonly used to designate London.

The present edition comprises the entire contents, unabridged, with the Illustrations.


Different Impressions of London on different Passengers and Minds— Extendibility of its Interest to all—London before the Deluge!—Its Origin according to the fabulous Writers and Poets—First historical Mention of it—Its Names—British, Roman, Saxon, and Norman London—General Progress of the City and of Civilization—Range of the Metropolis as it existed in the Time of Shakspeare and Bacon—Growth of the Streets and Suburbs during the later Reigns—"Merry London" and "Merry England"—Curious Assertion respecting Trees in the City 1
The Roman Temple of Diana: the first Christian Church—Old St. Paul's—Inigo Jones's Portico—Strange Usages of former Times—Encroachments on the Fabric of the Cathedral—Paul's Walkers—Dining with Duke Humphrey—Catholic Customs—The Boy-Bishop— The Children of the Revels—Strange Ceremony on the Festivals of the Commemoration and Conversion of St. Paul—Ancient Tombs in the Cathedral—Scene between John of Gaunt and the Anti-Wickliffites—Paul's Cross—The Folkmote—The Sermons—Jane Shore—See-Saw of Popery and Protestantism—London House—The Charnel—The Lollards' Tower—St. Paul's School—Desecration of the Cathedral during the Commonwealth—The present Cathedral—Sir Christopher Wren—Statue of Queen Anne 23
The Church of St. Faith—Booksellers of the Churchyard—Mr. Johnson's—Mr. Newberry's—Children's Books—Clerical Names of Streets near St. Paul's—Swift at the top of the Cathedral—Dr Johnson at St. Paul's—Paternoster Row—Panyer's Alley—Stationers' Hall—Almanacks—Knight-Riders' Street—Armed Assemblies of the Citizens—Doctor's Commons—The Heralds' College—Coats of Arms—Ludgate—Story of Sir Stephen Forster—Prison of Ludgate—Wyatt's Rebellion—The Belle Sauvage Inn—Blackfriars—Shakspeare's Theatre—Accident at Blackfriars in 1623—Printing House Square—The Times—Baynard's Castle—Story of the Baron Fitzwalter—Richard III. and Buckingham—Diana's Chamber—The Royal Wardrobe—Marriages in the Fleet—Fleet Ditch—The Dunciad 52
Burning of the Pope—St. Bride's Steeple—Milton—Illuminated Clock—Melancholy End of Lovelace the Cavalier—Chatterton—Generosity of Hardham, of Snuff Celebrity—Theatre in Dorset Garden—Richardson, his Habits and Character—Whitefriars, or Alsatia—The Temple—Its Monuments, Garden, &c.—Eminent names connected with it—Goldsmith dies there—Boswell's first Visit there to Johnson—Johnson and Madame de Boufflers—Bernard Lintot—Ben Jonson's Devil Tavern—Other Coffee-houses and Shops—Goldsmith and Temple-bar—Shire Lane, Bickerstaff, and the Deputation from the Country—The Kit-Kat Club—Mrs. Salmon—Isaac Walton—Cowley—Chancery Lane, Lord Strafford, and Ben Jonson—Serjeant's Inn—Clifford's Inn—The Rolls—Sir Joseph Jekyll—Church of St. Dunstan in the West—Dryden's House in Fetter Lane—Johnson, the Genius Loci of Fleet Street—His Way of Life—His Residence in Gough Square, Johnson's Court, and Bolt Court—Various Anecdotes of him connected with Fleet Street, and with his favourite Tavern, the Mitre 84
Ancient State of the Strand—Butcher Row—Death of Lee, the dramatic Poet—Johnson at an Eating-House—Essex Street—House and History of the favourite Earl of Essex—Spenser's Visit there—Essex, vii General of the Parliament—Essex Head Club—Devereux Court—Grecian Coffee-House—Twining, the accomplished Scholar—St. Clement Danes—Clement's Inn—Falstaff and Shallow—Norfolk, Arundel, Surrey, and Howard Streets—Norfolk House—Essex's Ring and the Countess of Nottingham—William Penn—Birch—Dr. Brocklesby—Congreve, and his Will—Voltaire's Visit to him—Mrs. Bracegirdle—Tragical End of Mountford the Player—Ancient Cross—Maypole—New Church of St. Mary-le-Strand—Old Somerset House—Henrietta Maria and her French Household—Waller's Mishap at Somerset Stairs—New Somerset House—Royal Society, Antiquarian Society, and Royal Academy—Death of Dr. King—Exeter Street—Johnson's first Lodging in London—Art of living in London—Catherine Street—Unfortunate Women—Wimbledon House—Lyceum and Beef-steak Club—Exeter Change—Bed and Baltimore—The Savoy—Anecdotes of the Duchess of Albemarle—Beaufort Buildings—Lillie, the Perfumer—Aaron Hill—Fielding—Southampton Street—Cecil and Salisbury Streets—Durham House—Raleigh—Pennant on the Word Place or Palace—New Exchange—Don Pantaleon Sa—The White Milliner—Adelphi—Garrick and his Wife—Beauclerc—Society of Arts, and Mr. Barry—Bedford Street—George, Villiers, and Buckingham Streets—York House and Buildings—Squabble between the Spanish and French Ambassadors—Hungerford Market—Craven Street—Franklin—Northumberland House—Duplicity of Henry, Earl of Northampton—Violence of Lord Herbert of Cherbury—Percy, Bishop of Dromore—Pleasant mistake of Goldsmith 131
Lincoln's Inn—Ben Jonson's Bricklaying—Enactments against Beards—Oliver Cromwell, More, Hale, and other eminent Students of Lincoln's Inn—Lincoln's Inn Fields, or Square—Houses there built by Inigo Jones—Pepys's Admiration of the Comforts of Mr. Povey—Surgeons' College—Sir Richard and Lady Fanshawe, and Lord Sandwich—Execution of the patriotic Lord Russell, with an Account of the Circumstances that led to and accompanied it, and some Remarks on his Character—Affecting Passages from the Letters of his Widow—Ludicrous Story connected with Newcastle House 192
Great Queen Street—Former fashionable Houses there—Lewis and Miss Pope, the Comedians—Martin Folkes—Sir Godfrey Kneller viii and his Vanity—Dr. Radcliffe—Lord Herbert of Cherbury—Nuisance of Whetstone Park—The Three Dukes and the Beadle—Rogues and Vagabonds in the Time of Charles II—Former Theatres in Vere Street and Portugal Street—First appearance of Actresses—Infamous deception of one of them by the Earl of Oxford—Appearance of an avowed Impostor on the Stage—Anecdotes of the Wits and fine Ladies of the Time of Charles, connected with the Theatre in this Quarter—Kynaston, Betterton, Nokes, Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Mountford, and other Performers—Rich—Joe Miller—Carey Street and Mrs. Chapone—Clare Market—History, and Specimens, of Orator Henley—Duke Street and Little Wild Street—Anecdotes of Dr. Franklin's Residence in those Streets while a Journeyman Printer 225
Craven House—Donne and his vision—Lord Craven and the Queen of Bohemia—Nell Gwynn—Drury Lane Theatre—Its antiquity, different eras, and rebuildings—The principal theatre of Dryden, Wycherley, Farquhar, Steele, Garrick, and Sheridan—Old Drury in the time of Charles II.—A visit to it—Pepys and his theatrical gossip, with notes—Hart and Mohun—Goodman—Nell Gwynn—Dramatic taste of that age—Booth—Artificial tragedy—Wilks and Cibber—Bullock and Penkethman—A Colonel enamoured of Cibber's wig—Mrs. Oldfield—Her singular position in society—Not the Flavia of the Tatler—Pope's account of her last words probably not true—Declamatory acting—Lively account of Garrick and Quin by Mr. Cumberland—Improvement of stage costume—King—Mrs. Pritchard—Mrs. Clive—Mrs. Woffington—Covent Garden—Barry—Contradictory characters of him by Davies and Churchill—Macklin—Woodward—Pantomime—English taste in music—Cooke—Rise of actors and actresses in social rank—Improvement of the audience—Dr. Johnston at the theatre—Churchill a great pit critic—His Rosciad—His picture of Mossop—Mrs. Jordan and Mr. Suett—Early recollections of a play-goer 257
Bow Street once the Bond Street of London—Fashions at that time—Infamous frolic of Sir Charles Sedley and others—Wycherly and the Countess of Drogheda—Tonson the Bookseller—Fielding—Russell ix Street—Dryden beaten by hired ruffians in Rose Street—His Presidency at Will's Coffee-House—Character of that Place—Addison and Button's Coffee-House—Pope, Philips, and Garth—Armstrong—Boswell's introduction to Johnson—The Hummums—Ghost Story there—Covent Garden—The Church—Car, Earl of Somerset—Butler, Southern, Eastcourt, Sir Robert Strange—Macklin—Curious Dialogue with him when past a century—Dr. Walcot—Covent Garden Market—Story of Lord Sandwich, Hackman, and Miss Ray—Henrietta Street—Mrs. Clive—James Street—Partridge, the almanack-maker—Mysterious lady—King Street—Arne and his Father—The four Indian Kings—Southampton Row—Maiden Lane—Voltaire—Long Acre and its Mug-Houses—Prior's resort there—Newport Street—St. Martin's Lane, and Leicester Square—Sir Joshua Reynolds—Hogarth—Sir Isaac Newton 306
Old Charing Cross, and New St. Martin's Church—Statue of Charles I.—Execution of Regicides—Ben Jonson—Wallingford House, now the Admiralty—Villiers, Duke of Buckingham; Sir Walter Scott's Account of him—Misrepresentation of Pope respecting his Death—Charles's Horse a Satirist—Locket's Ordinary—Sir George Etherege—Prior and his Uncle's Tavern—Thomson—Spring Gardens—Mrs. Centlivre—Dorset Place, and Whitcombe Street, &c., formerly Hedge Lane—The Wits and the Bailiffs—Suffolk Street—Swift and Miss Vanhomrigh—Calves' Head Club, and the Riot it occasioned—Scotland Yard—Pleasant Advertisement—Beau Fielding, and his Eccentricities—Vanbrugh—Desperate Adventure of Lord Herbert of Cherbury 355
Regal Character of Whitehall—York Place—Personal and Moral Character of Wolsey—Comparison of him with his Master, Henry—His Pomp and Popularity—Humorous Account of his Flatterers by Sir Thomas More—Importance of his Hat—Cavendish's Account of his household State, his goings forth in Public, and his entertainments of the King 382
Henry the Eighth—His Person and Character—Modern Qualifications of it considered—Passages respecting him from Lingard, Sir Thomas Wyatt, and others—His additions to Whitehall—A Retrospect at Elizabeth—Court of James resumed—Its gross Habits—Letter of Sir John Harrington respecting them—James's Drunkenness—Testimonies of Welldon, Sully, and Roger Coke—Curious Omission in the Invective of Churchill the Poet—Welldon's Portrait of James—Buckingham, the Favourite—Frightful Story of Somerset—Masques—Banqueting House—Inigo Jones and Ben Jonson—Court of Charles the First—Cromwell—Charles the Second—James the Second 395
St. James's Park and its Associations—Unhealthiness of the Place and Neighbourhood—Leper Hospital of St. James—Henry the Eighth builds St. James's Palace and the Tilt-Yard—Original State and Progressive Character of the Park—Charles the First—Cromwell—Charles the Second; his Walks, Amusements, and Mistresses—The Mulberry Gardens—Swift, Prior, Richardson, Beau Tibbs, Soldiers, and Syllabubs—Character of the Park at present—St. James's Palace during the Reigns of the Stuarts and two first Georges—Anecdotes of Lord Craven and Prince George of Denmark—Characters of Queen Anne and of George the First and Second—George the First and his Carp—Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Sack of Wheat—Horace Walpole's Portrait of George the First—The Mistresses of that King and of his Son—Mistake of Lord Chesterfield—Queen Caroline's Ladies in Waiting—Miss Bellenden and the Guineas—George the Second's Rupture with his Father and with his Son—Character of that Son—Buckingham House—Sheffield and his Duchess—Character of Queen Charlotte—Advantages of Queen Victoria over her Predecessors 431



London from Southwark, before the Great Fire. From a Print by Hollar (Frontispiece)
West Front of Old St. Paul's, with Inigo Jones's Portico 26
"Paul's Cross and Preaching there" 51
Ludgate 69
Baynard's Castle, from the River, 1640 78
Stone in Panyer Alley, marking the highest Ground in the City 83
Interior of the Round Part of the Temple Church, previous to the recent Restorations 101
House in Bolt Court, Fleet Street, the last Residence of Dr. Johnson, 1810 125
Old Somerset House, from the River 167
The Savoy Palace, from the River 172
Inigo Jones's Water Gate, York Stairs 183
Old Northumberland House, from the River. Temp. Charles I. 186
Exeter Change as it appeared just before it was pulled down 192
Newcastle House, N. W. corner of Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1796 222
Old Palace of Whitehall, from the River. Temp. Charles I., from a Print of the Period 225
Old Houses in Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1817 226
The Theatre in Portugal Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1810 236 xii
Printing Press at which Franklin worked 256
Craven House, Drury Lane, 1800 258
Entrance Front of Old Drury Lane Theatre in Brydges Street, erected by Garrick 266
Entrance to old Covent Garden Theatre, 1794 305
Inigo Jones's Church and Covent Garden. Temp. James II. From a Print of the Period 325
House in St. Martin's Street, Leicester Square, formerly the Residence of Sir Isaac Newton, 1810 354
The Village of Charing. From Aggas's Map, 1578 356
Scotland Yard, as it appeared in 1750. From a Print after Paul Sandby 374
Old Gate of Whitehall Palace, designed by Holbein. From a Print by Hollar 401
The Banqueting House, Whitehall 419
St. James's Palace, 1650, from a Print by Hollar 435

The Initial Letters and Tail-pieces designed by J. W. Archer and C. T. Thompson. (The Initial Letter to Chapter XII. represents the Conduit at St. James's.)



Different impressions of London on different passengers and minds—Extendibility of its interest to all—London before the Deluge!—Its origin according to the fabulous writers and poets—First historical mention of it—Its names—British, Roman, Saxon, and Norman London—General progress of the city and of civilisation—Range of the Metropolis as it existed in the time of Shakspeare and Bacon—Growth of the streets and suburbs during the later reigns—"Merry London" and "Merry England"—Curious assertion respecting trees in the city.


In one of those children's books which contain reading fit for the manliest, and which we have known to interest very grave and even great men, there is a pleasant chapter entitled Eyes and no Eyes, or the Art of Seeing.[1] The two heroes of it come home successively from a walk in the same road, one of them having seen only a heath and a hill, and the meadows by the water-side, and therefore having seen nothing; the other expatiating on his delightful ramble, because the heath presented him with curious birds, and the hill with the remains of a camp, and the meadows with reeds, and rats, and herons, and kingfishers, and sea-shells, and a man catching eels, and a glorious sunset.

In like manner people may walk through a crowded city, and see nothing but the crowd. A man may go from Bond Street to Blackwall, and unless he has the luck to witness an accident, or get a knock from a porter's burden, may be conscious, when he has returned, of nothing but the names of 2 those two places, and of the mud through which he has passed. Nor is this to be attributed to dullness. He may, indeed, be dull. The eyes of his understanding may be like bad spectacles, which no brightening would enable to see much. But he may be only inattentive. Circumstances may have induced a want of curiosity, to which imagination itself shall contribute, if it has not been taught to use its eyes. This is particularly observable in childhood, when the love of novelty is strongest. A boy at the Charter House, or Christ Hospital, probably cares nothing for his neighbourhood, though stocked with a great deal that might entertain him. He has been too much accustomed to identify it with his schoolroom. We remember the time ourselves when the only thought we had in going through the metropolis was how to get out of it; how to arrive, with our best speed, at the beautiful vista of home and a pudding, which awaited us in the distance. And long after this we saw nothing in London, but the book-shops which have taught us better.

"I have often," says Boswell, with the inspiration of his great London-loving friend upon him, "amused myself with thinking how different a place London is to different people. They whose narrow minds are contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it only through that medium. A politician thinks of it merely as the seat of government in its different departments; a grazier as a vast market for cattle; a mercantile man as a place where a prodigious deal of business is done upon 'Change; a dramatic enthusiast as the grand scene of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasure as an assemblage of taverns, &c. &c.; but the intellectual man is struck with it as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible."

It does not follow that the other persons whom Boswell speaks of are not, by nature, intelligent. The want of curiosity, in some, may be owing even to their affections and anxiety. They may think themselves bound to be occupied solely in what they are about. They have not been taught how to invigorate as well as to divert the mind, by taking a reasonable interest in the varieties of this astonishing world, of which the most artificial portions are still works of nature as well as art, and evidences of the hand of Him that made the soul and its endeavours. Boswell himself, with all his friend's assistance, and that of the tavern to boot, probably saw nothing in London of the times gone by—of all that rich aggregate of the past, which is one of the great treasures of knowledge; and yet, by the same principle on which Boswell admired Dr. Johnson, he might have delighted in calling to 3 mind the metropolis of the wits of Queen Anne's time, and of the poets of Elizabeth; might have longed to sit over their canary in Cornhill with Beaumont and Ben Jonson, and have thought that Surrey Street and Shire Lane had their merits, as well as the illustrious obscurity of Bolt Court. In Surrey Street lived Congreve; and Shire Lane, though nobody would think so to see it now, is eminent for the origin of the Kit-Kat Club (a host of wits and statesmen,) and for the recreations of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., of Tatler celebrity, at his contubernium, the Trumpet.

It may be said that the past is not in our possession; that we are sure only of what we can realise, and that the present and future afford enough contemplation for any man. But those who argue thus, argue against their better instinct. We take an interest in all that we understand; and in proportion as we enlarge our knowledge, enlarge, ad infinitum, the sphere of our sympathies. Tell the grazier, whom Boswell mentions, of a great grazier who lived before him—of Bakewell, who had an animal that produced him in one season the sum of eight hundred guineas; or Fowler, whose horned cattle sold for a value equal to that of the fee-simple of his farm; or Elwes, the miser, who, after spending thousands at the gaming table, would haggle for a shilling at Smithfield; and he will be curious to hear as much as you have to relate. Tell the mercantile man, in like manner, of Gresham, or Crisp, or the foundation of the Charter House by a merchant, and he will be equally attentive. And tell the man, par excellence, of anything that concerns humanity, and he will be pleased to hear of Bakewell, or Crisp, or Boswell, or Boswell's ancestor. Bakewell himself was a man of this sort. Boswell was proud of his ancestors, like most men that know who they were, whether their ancestors were persons to be proud of or not. The mere length of line flatters the brevity of existence. We must take care how we are proud of those who may not be fit to render us so; but we may be allowed to be anxious to live as long as we can, whether in prospect or retrospect. Besides, the human mind, being a thing infinitely greater than the circumstances which confine and cabin it in its present mode of existence, seeks to extend itself on all sides, past, present, and to come. If it puts on wings angelical, and pitches itself into the grand obscurity of the future, it runs back also on the more visible line of the past. Even the present, which is the great business of 4 life, is chiefly great, inasmuch as it regards the interests of the many who are to come, and is built up of the experiences of those who have gone by. The past is the heir-loom of the world.

Now in no shape is any part of this treasure more visible to us, or more striking, than in that of a great metropolis. The present is nowhere so present: we see the latest marks of its hand. The past is nowhere so traceable: we discover, step by step, the successive abodes of its generations. The links that are wanting are supplied by history; nor perhaps is there a single spot in London in which the past is not visibly present to us, either in the shape of some old buildings or at least in the names of the streets; or in which the absence of more tangible memorials may not be supplied by the antiquary. In some parts of it we may go back through the whole English history, perhaps through the history of man, as we shall see presently when we speak of St. Paul's Churchyard, a place in which you may get the last new novel, and find remains of the ancient Britons and of the sea. There, also in the cathedral, lie painters, patriots, humanists, the greatest warriors and some of the best men; and there, in St. Paul's School, was educated England's epic poet, who hoped that his native country would never forget her privilege of "teaching the nations how to live." Surely a man is more of a man, and does more justice to the faculties of which he is composed, whether for knowledge or entertainment, who thinks of all these things in crossing St. Paul's Churchyard, than if he saw nothing but the church itself, or the clock, or confined his admiration to the abundance of Brentford stages.

Milton, who began a history of England, very properly touches upon the fabulous part of it; not, as Dr. Johnson thought (who did not take the trouble of reading the second page), because he confounded it with the true, but, as he himself states, for the benefit of those who would know how to make use of it—the poets. In the same passage he alludes to those traces of a deluge of which we have just spoken, and to the enormous bones occasionally dug up, which, with the natural inclination of a poet, he was willing to look upon as relics of a gigantic race of men. Both of these evidences of a remote period have been discovered in London earth, and might be turned to grand account by a writer like himself. It is curious to see the grounds on which truth and fiction 5 so often meet, without knowing one another. The Oriental writers have an account of a race of pre-Adamite kings, not entirely human. It is supposed by some geologists, that there was a period before the creation of man, when creatures vaster than any now on dry land trampled the earth at will; perhaps had faculties no longer to be found in connection with brute forms, and effaced, together with themselves, for a nobler experiment. We may indulge our fancy with supposing that, in those times, light itself, and the revolution of the seasons, may not have been exactly what they are now; that some unknown monster, mammoth or behemoth, howled in the twilight over the ocean solitude now called London; or (not to fancy him monstrous in nature as in form, for the hugest creatures of the geologist appear to have been mild and graminivorous), that the site of our metropolis was occupied with the gigantic herd of some more gigantic spirit, all good of their kind, but not capable of enough ultimate good to be permitted to last. However, we only glance at these speculative matters, and leave them. Neither shall we say anything of the more modern elephant, who may have recreated himself some thousands of years ago on the site of the Chapter Coffee House; or of the crocodile, who may have snapped at some remote ancestor of a fishmonger in the valley of Dowgate.

By the fabulous writers, London was called Troynovant or New Troy, and was said to have been founded by Brutus, great-grandson of Æneas, from whom the country was called Brutain, or Britain.

For noble Britons sprong from Trojans bold,

And Troynovant was built of old Troye's ashes cold.

(This is one of Spenser's fine old lingering lines, in which he seems to dwell on a fable till he believes it.) Brutus, having the misfortune to kill his father, fled from his native country into Greece, where he set free a multitude of Trojans, captives to King Pandrasus, whose daughter he espoused. He left Greece with a numerous flotilla, and came to an island called Legrecia, where there was a temple of Diana. To Diana he offered sacrifice, and prayed her to direct his course. The prayer, and the goddess's reply, as told in Latin by Gildas, have received a lustre from the hand of Milton. He gives us the following translation of them in his historical fragment:— 6

"Diva potens nemorum:"

"Goddess of Shades, and Huntress, who at will

Walk'st on the rolling sphere, and through the deep,

On thy third reign, the earth, look now; and tell

What land, what seat of rest, thou bidst me seek;

What certain seat, where I may worship thee,

For aye, with temples vowed, and virgin quires."

"To whom, sleeping before the altar," says the poet, "Diana in a vision that night, thus answered:—

"Brute, sub occasum solis:"

"Brutus, far to the west, in th' ocean wide,

Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies,

Sea-girt it lies, where giants dwelt of old:

Now void, it fits thy people. Thither bend

Thy course: there shalt thou find a lasting seat;

There to thy sons another Troy shall rise,

And kings be born of thee, whose dreaded reign

Shall awe the world, and conquer nations bold."[2]

According to Spenser, Brutus did not find England cleared of the giants. He had to conquer them. But we shall speak of those personages when we come before their illustrious representatives in Guildhall.

This fiction of Troynovant, or new Troy, appears to have arisen from the word Trinobantes in Cæsar, a name given by the historian to the inhabitants of a district which included the London banks of the Thames. The oldest mention of the metropolis is supposed to be found in that writer, under the appellation of Civitas Trinobantum, the city of the Trinobantes; though some are of opinion that by civitas he only meant their government or community. Be this as it may, a city of the Britons, in Cæsar's time, was nothing either for truth or fiction to boast of, having been, as he describes it, a mere spot hollowed out of the woods, and defended by a ditch and a rampart.

We have no reason to believe that the first germ of London was anything greater than this. Milton supposes that so many traditions of old British kings could not have been handed down without a foundation in truth; and the classical origin of London, though rejected by himself, was not only firmly believed by people in general as late as the reign of Henry the Sixth (to whom it was quoted in a public document), but was maintained by professed antiquaries,—Leland among them.[3] It is probable enough that, before Cæsar's time, the 7 affairs of the country may have been in a better situation than he found them; and it is possible that something may have once stood on the site of London, which stood there no longer. But this may be said of every other place on the globe; and as there is nothing authentic to show for it, we must be content to take our ancestors as we find them. In truth, nothing is known with certainty of the origin of London, not even of its name. The first time we hear either of the city or its appellation is in Tacitus, who calls it Londinium. The following list, taken principally from Camden, comprises, we believe, all the names by which it has been called. We dwell somewhat on this point, because we conclude the reader will be pleased to see by how many aliases his old acquaintance has been known.

Troja Nova, Troynovant, or New Troy.

Tre-novant, or the New City, (a mixture of Latin and Cornish).

Dian Belin, or the City of Diana.

Caer Ludd, or the City of Ludd.—These are the names given by the fabulous writers, chiefly Welsh.

Londinium.—Tacitus, Ptolemy, Antoninus.

Lundiniuin.—Ammianus Marcellinus.


Lindonium, (Λινδόνιον).—Stephanus in his Dictionary.


Augusta.—The complimentary title granted to it under Valentinian, as was customary with flourishing foreign establishments.





Lundenwic, or wyc.

Lundenceastre (that is, London-castrum or camp).


Lundene, or Lundenne.

Lundone.—Saxon names. Lundenceastre is Alfred the Great's translation of the Lundonia of Bede.


Ludstoune.—Saxon translations of the Caer Ludd of the Welsh.


Londra.—Italian. The letter r in these words is curious. 8 It seems to represent the berig or burgh of the Saxons; quasi Londrig, from Londonberig; in which case Londres would mean London-borough.

The disputes upon the derivation of the word London have been numerous. In the present day, the question seems to be, whether it originated in Celtic British, that is, in Welsh, and signified "a city on a lake," or in Belgic British (old German), and meant "a city in a grove." The latest author who has handled the subject inclines to the latter opinion.[4] Mr. Pennant being a Celt, was for the "city on a lake," the Thames in the early periods of British history having formed a considerable expanse of water near the site of the present metropolis. Llyn-Din is Lake-City, and Lun-Den Grove-City. Erasmus, on the strength of those affinities between Greek and Welsh, which can be found between most languages, fetched the word from Lindus, a city of Rhodes; Somner, the antiquary, derived it from Llawn, full, and Dyn, man, implying a great concourse of people; another antiquary, from Lugdus, a Celtic prince; Maitland from Lon, a plain, and Dun or Don, a hill; another, we know not who, referred to by the same author, from a word signifying a ship and a hill[5]; Camden from Llong-Dinas, a City of Ships; and Selden, "seeing conjecture is free,"[6] was for deriving it from Llan-Dien, or the temple of Diana, for reasons which will appear presently. Pennant thinks that London might have been called Lake-City first, and Ship-City afterwards. The opinion of the editor of the Picture of London seems most plausible—that Lun-Den, or Grove-City was the name, because it is compounded of Belgic British, which, according to Cæsar, must have been the language of the district; and he adds, that the name is still common in Scandinavia.[7] It may be argued, that London might have existed as a fortress on a lake before the arrival of settlers from Belgium; and that Grove-City could not have been so distinguishing a characteristic of the place as Lake-City, because wood was a great deal more abundant than water. On the other hand, all the rivers at that time were probably more or less given to overflowing. 9 Grove-City might have been the final name, though Lake-City was the first; and the propensity to name places from trees, is still evident in our numerous Woot-tons, or Wood-towns, Wood-fords, Woodlands, &c. But of all disputes, those upon etymology appear the most hopeless. Perhaps the word itself was not originally what we take it to be. Who would suspect the word wig to come from peruke; jour from dies; uncle from avus; or that Kensington should have been corrupted by the despairing organs of a foreigner, into Inhimthorp?[8]

Whether London commenced with a spot cleared out in the woods by settlers from Holland, (Gallic Belgium,) as conjecture might imply from Cæsar, or whether the germ of it arose with the aboriginal inhabitants, we may conclude safely enough with Pennant, that it existed in some shape or other in Cæsar's time.

"It stood," says he, "in such a situation as the Britains would select, according to the rule they established. An immense forest originally extended to the river side, and even as late as the reign of Henry II. covered the northern neighbourhood of the city, and was filled with various species of beasts of chase. It was defended naturally by fosses, one formed by the creek which ran along Fleet Ditch; the other, afterwards known by that of Walbrook. The south side was guarded by the Thames; the north they might think sufficiently protected by the adjacent forest."[9]

In this place, then, seated on their hill, (probably that on which St. Paul's Cathedral stands, as it is the highest in London,) and gradually exchanging their burrows in the ground for huts of wicker and clay, we are to picture to ourselves our metropolitan ancestors, half-naked, rude in their manners, ignorant, violent, vindictive, subject to all the half-reasoning impulses—their bodies tattooed like South Sea Islanders—but brave, hospitable, patriotic, anxious for esteem—in short, like other semi-barbarians, exhibiting energies which they did not yet know how turn to account, but possessing, like all human beings, the germs of the noblest 10 capabilities. The accounts given of them by Cæsar and other ancient writers appear to be inconsistent, perhaps because we do not enough consider the inconsistencies of our own manners. According to their statements, the Britons had found out the art of making chariots of war, and yet had not learnt how to convert grain into flour, or to make a solid substance of milk. They rode, as it were, in their coaches, and yet had not arrived at the dignity of bread and cheese. Probably their chariots were magnified both in number and construction. The scythes which modern fancy has turned into proper haymaking sabres, and which some antiquaries have found so convenient for cutting through "a woody country" (a strange way of keeping them sharp), may have been nothing but spikes. We know not so easily what to say to the bread and cheese, except that in more knowing times people are not always found very ready to improve upon old habits, even with reasons staring them in the face; though, on the other hand, lest habits should be thought older than they are, and reformers be too impatient, it is worth while to consider, not how long, but how short, a period has elapsed (considering what a little thing a few centuries are in the progress of time) since in the very spot where a Briton sat half-naked and savage, unpossessed of a loaf or a piece of cheese, are to be found gathered together all the luxuries of the globe. Fancy the soul of an ancient Briton visiting his old ground in St. Paul's Churchyard, and hardly staring more at the church and houses, than at the bread in the baker's window, and the magic leaves in that of the bookseller. In one respect, an ancient City-Briton differed toto cœlo with a modern. He would not eat goose! He had a superstition against it.

London, in Cæsar's time, was most probably a City of Ships; that is to say it traded with Gaul, and had a number of boats on its marshy river. Cæsar's pretence for invading England, was, that it was too good a provider for Gaul, and rendered his conquest of that country difficult. But it is doubtful whether he ever beheld or even alludes to the infant metropolis. His countrymen are supposed to have first taken possession of it about a hundred years afterwards, in the reign of Claudius. They had heard of a pearl-fishery, says Gibbon. At all events they found oysters; for Sandwich (Rutupium) became famous with them for that luxury.

It is not our design, in this Introduction, to give anything 11 more than a sketch of the rise and growth of the metropolis; we shall leave the rest to be gathered as we proceed. Our intention is to go through London, quarter by quarter, and to notice the memorials as they arise; a plan, which, compared with others (at least if we are to judge of the effect which it has had on ourselves), seems to possess something of the superiority of sight over hearsay. When we read of events in their ordinary train, we pitch ourselves with difficulty into the scenes of action—sometimes wholly omit to do so; and there is a want of life and presence in them accordingly. When we are placed in the scenes themselves, and told to look about us—such and such a thing having happened in that house—this street being one in which another famous adventure took place, and that old mansion having been the dwelling of wit or beauty, we find ourselves comparatively at home, and enjoy the probability and the spectacle twice as much. We feel (especially if we are personally conversant with the spot) as if Shakspeare and Milton, Pope, Gay, and Arbuthnot, the club at the Mermaid, and the beauties at the court of White-Hall, were our next-door neighbours.

We shall take the reader, then, as speedily as possible among the quarters alluded to, and trouble him very little beforehand with dry abstracts and chronologies, or with races of men almost as uninteresting. The most patriotic reader of our history feels that he cares very little for his ancestors the Britons; of whom almost all he knows is, that they painted their skins, and made war in chariots. Nor do the Romans in England interest us more. They are men in helmets and short skirts, who have left us no memorial but a road or two, and an iron name. That is all that we know of them, and we care accordingly. Perhaps the Saxons, after having destroyed the Roman architecture as much as possible, and repented of it, took their own from what had survived. The greatest relic of Cæsar's countrymen in the metropolis was the piece of wall which ran lately south of Moorfields, in a street still designated as London Wall. The Romans had a vast material genius, not so intellectual as that of the Greeks, nor so calculated to move the world ultimately, but highly fitted to prepare the way for better impressions, by showing what the hand could perform; and as they built their wall in their usual giant style of solidity, it remained a long while to testify their magnificence. Small relics of it are yet to be seen in Little Bridge Street, behind Ludgate Hill; on the 12 north of Bull-and-Mouth Street, between that street and St. Botolph's Churchyard; and on the south side of the Churchyard of Cripplegate. There was another in the garden of Stationer's Hall, but it has been blocked up.

Ancient British London was a mere space in the woods, open towards the river, and presenting circular cottages on the hill and slope, and a few boats on the water. As it increased, the cottages grew more numerous, and commerce increased the number of sails.

Roman London was British London, interspersed with the better dwellings of the conquerors, and surrounded by a wall. It extended from Ludgate to the Tower, and from the river to the back of Cheapside.

Saxon London was Roman London, despoiled, but retaining the wall, and ultimately growing civilized with Christianity, and richer in commerce. The first humble cathedral church then arose, where the present one now stands.

Norman London was Saxon and Roman London, greatly improved, thickened with many houses, adorned with palaces of princes and princely bishops, sounding with minstrelsy, and glittering with the gorgeous pastimes of knighthood. This was its state through the Anglo-Norman and Plantagenet reigns. The friar then walked the streets in his cowl (Chaucer is said to have beaten one in Fleet Street), and the knights rode with trumpets in gaudy colours to their tournaments in Smithfield.

In the time of Edward the First, houses were still built of wood, and roofed with straw, sometimes even with reeds, which gave rise to numerous fires. The fires brought the brooks in request; and an importance which has since been swallowed up in the advancement of science, was then given to the River of Wells (Bagnigge, Sadler's, and Clerkenwell), to the Old Bourne (the origin of the name of Holborn,) to the little river Fleet, the Wall-brook, and the brook Langbourne, which last still gives its name to a ward. The conduits, which were large leaden cisterns, twenty in number, were under the special care of the lord mayor and aldermen, who, after visiting them on horseback on the eighteenth of September, "hunted a hare before dinner, and a fox after it, in the Fields near St. Giles's."[10] Hours, and after-dinner pursuits, must have altered marvellously since those days, and the body of aldermen with them.


It was not till the reign of Henry the Fifth, that the city was lighted at night. The illumination was with lanterns, slung over the street with wisps of rope or hay. Under Edward the Fourth we first hear of brick houses; and in Henry the Eighth's time of pavement in the middle of the streets. The general aspect of London then experienced a remarkable change, in consequence of the dissolution of religious houses; the city, from the great number of them, having hitherto had the appearance "of a monastic, rather than a commercial metropolis."[11] The monk then ceased to walk, and the gallant London apprentice became more riotous. London, however, was still in a wretched condition, compared with what it is now. The streets, which had been impassable from mud, were often rendered so with filth and offal; and its homeliest wants being neglected, and the houses almost meeting at top, with heavy signs lumbering and filling up the inferior spaces, the metropolis was subject to plagues as well as fires. Nor was the interior of the houses better regarded. The people seemed to cultivate the plague. "The floors," says Erasmus, "are commonly of clay, strewed with rushes, which are occasionally renewed; but underneath lies unmolested an ancient collection of beer, grease, fragments of fish, &c., &c., and everything that is nasty."[12] The modern Englishman piques himself on his cleanliness, but he should do it modestly, considering what his ancestors could do; and he should do it not half so much as he does, considering what he still leaves undone. It is the disgrace of the city of London in particular, that it still continues to be uncleanly, except in externals, and even to resist the efforts of the benevolent to purify it. But time and circumstance ultimately force people to improve. It was plague and fire that first taught the Londoners to build their city better. We hope the authorities will reflect upon this; and not wait for cholera to complete the lesson.

Erasmus wrote in the time of Henry the Eighth, when the civil wars had terminated in a voluptuous security, and when the pride of the court and nobility was at its height. Knighthood was becoming rather a show than a substance; and the changes in religion, the dissolution of the monasteries, and 14 above all, the permission to read the Bible, set men thinking, and identified history in future with the progress of the general mind. Opinion, accidentally set free by a tyrant, was never to be put down, though tyranny tried never so hard. Poetry revived in the person of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey; and, by a maturity natural to the first unsophisticated efforts of imagination, it came to its height in the next age with Shakspeare. The monasteries being dissolved, London was become entirely the commercial city it has remained ever since, though it still abounded with noblemen's mansions, and did so till a much later period. There were some in the time of Charles the Second. The manners of the citizens under Henry the Eighth were still rude and riotous, but cheerful; and manly exercises were much cultivated. Henry was so pleased with one of the city archers, that he mock-heroically created him Duke of Shoreditch; upon which there arose a whole suburb peerage of Marquisses of Hogsdon and Islington, Pancras, &c.

In Elizabeth's time the London houses were still mostly of wood. We see remains of them in the Strand and Fleet Street, and in various parts of the city. They are like houses built of cards, one story projecting over the other; but unless there is something in the art of building, which may in future dispense with solidity, the modern houses will hardly be as lasting. People in the old ones could at least dance and make merry. Builders in former times did not spare their materials, nor introduce clauses in their leases against a jig. We fancy Elizabeth hearing of a builder who should introduce such a proviso against the health and merriment of her buxom subjects, and sending to him, with a good round oath, to take a little less care of his purse, and more of his own neck.

In this age, ever worthy of honour and gratitude, the illustrious Bacon set free the hands of knowledge, which Aristotle had chained up, and put into them the touchstone of experiment, the mighty mover of the ages to come. This was the great age, also, of English poetry and the drama. Former manners and opinions now began to be seen only on the stage; intellect silently gave a man a rank in society he never enjoyed before; and nobles and men of letters mixed together in clubs. People now also began to speculate on government, as well as religion; and the first evidences of that unsatisfied argumentative spirit appeared, which produced the downfall of the succeeding dynasty, and ultimately the Revolution, and all that we now enjoy. 15

The governments of Elizabeth and James, fearing that the greater the concourse the worse would be the consequences of sickness, and secretly apprehensive, no doubt, of the growth of large and intellectual bodies of men near their head-quarters, did all in their power to confine the metropolis to its then limits, but in vain. Despotism itself, even in its mildest shape, cannot prevail against the spirit of an age; and Bacon was at that minute foreseeing the knowledge that was to quicken, increase, and elevate human intercourse, by means of the growth of commerce. Houses and streets grew then as they do now, not so quickly indeed, but equally to the astonishment of their inhabitants; and the latter had reason to congratulate themselves on a pavement to walk upon; a luxury for which a lively Parisian, not half a century ago, is said to have gone down on his knees, when he came into England, thanking God that there was a country "in which some regard was shown to foot passengers." In Charles the First's reign the suburbs of Westminster and Spitalfields were greatly enlarged, and the foundation of Covent Garden was commenced, as it now stands. Symptoms of a future neighbourhood appeared also in Leicester Fields, though the place continued to be what the name imports, as late as the beginning of the last century. The progress of building received a check from the Civil Wars, but only to revive with new spirit; and the great Fire—which was a great blessing—swallowed up at once both the deformity and the disease of old times, by widening the streets, and putting an end to the liability to pestilence. London has not had a "plague" since, unless it be indigestion; which, however, is the great disease of modern sedentary times, and will never be got rid of, till we grow mental enough to have more respect for our bodies.

Towards the end of the reign of Charles the Second the metropolis began to increase in the direction of Holborn; Hatton Garden, Brook, and Greville Streets were built; and Ormond Street ran towards the fields. In this and the following reigns the mansion-houses of the nobility on the river side began to give way to the private houses and streets, still retaining the name of the Strand. Pall Mall and St. James's increased also; and Soho Square, on its first building, received the name of the Duke of Monmouth. But particulars of that nature will be better noticed in the body of our work. The nobility, gentry, and the wits, were now 16 mixed up together. City taverns were still frequented by them; and city marriages began to be sought after, to mend the fortunes of the debauched cavaliers. Elizabeth's successor, James, was the first king who entered into anything like domestic familiarity with the monied men of the city. Charles the Second took "t'other bottle" with them (see the Spectator); and Lord Rochester played the buffoon on Tower Hill, as a quack doctor.

The streets about St. Martin's-in-the-fields and St. Giles's-in-the-fields, those of Clerkenwell, the neighbourhood of Old Street and Shoreditch, Marlborough Street, Soho, &c., successively arose in the time of Queen Anne, as well as a good portion of Holborn, beginning from Brook Street and including the neighbourhood of Bedford Street and Red Lion Square. St. Paul's, too, was completed as it now stands. This, and the succeeding times of the Hanover succession, were the times of Whig and Tory, of the principal wit-poets, of writers upon domestic manners, and of what may be called an ambition of good sense and reason,—"sense" being the favourite term in books, as "wit" had been in the age of Charles. Clubs were multiplied ad infinitum by the more harmless civil wars between Whig and Tory; and ale and beer brought the middle classes together, as wine did the rich. Mug-house clubs abounded in Long Acre, Cheapside, &c.; "where gentlemen, lawyers, and tradesmen used to meet in a great room, seldom under a hundred," if we are to believe the Journey through England, in the year 1724.

At the commencement of the last century the village of St. Mary-le-bone was almost a mile distant from any part of London; the nearest street being Old Bond Street, which scarcely extended to the present Clifford Street. Soon after the accession of George the First, New Bond Street arose, with others in the immediate neighbourhood, and the houses in Berkeley Square and its vicinity. Hanover Square and Cavendish Square were open fields in the year 1716. They were built about the beginning of the reign of George the Second, at which time the houses arose on the north side of Oxford Street, which then first took the name. The neighbourhood of Cavendish Square, and Oxford Market, Holles Street, Margaret Street, Vere Street, &c., are of the same date; and the grounds for Harley, Wigmore, and Mortimer Streets were laid out; the village and church of Mary-le-bone being still separated from them all by fields. 17 At the same period the legislature ordered the erection of the three parishes of St. George's Bloomsbury, St. Anne's Limehouse, and St. Paul's Deptford, London having, at that time, extended further in the last quarter than any other, by reason of the trade on the river.

So late, nevertheless, as this period, Fleet Ditch was a sluggish, foul stream, open as far as Holborn Bridge, and admitting small vessels for trade, coal barges, &c. It had become such a nuisance, that it was now arched over, and the late Fleet Market soon appeared on the covering. About the year 1737, the west end of the town was improved by the addition of Grosvenor Square and its neighbourhood.

The increase of the metropolis on all sides was in proportion to the length of the reign of George the Third. The space between Mary-le-bone was filled in; Southwark became a mass of houses united with Westminster; and new towns rather than suburbs, appeared in all quarters; some with the names of towns, as Camden and Somers Town; to which have been added, since the death of that prince, Portland Town; a good half of Paddington, now joined with Kilburn; a world of new streets between Paddington and Notting Hill; Notting Hill itself including Shepherd's Bush; another new world of streets, called Belgravia, between Knightsbridge and Pimlico; others out by Peckham and Camberwell, including Clapham and Norwood; and others again on the east, reaching as far as the skirts of Epping Forest! Indeed, every village which was in the immediate and even the remote neighbourhood of London, and was quite distinct from one another at the beginning of the reign of George the Third, is now almost, if not quite, joined with it, including Highgate and Hampstead themselves on the north, Norwood on the south, Turnham Green and Parson's Green on the west, and Laytonstone on the east. The whole of this enormous mass of houses now presents us, more or less, in all quarters, with handsome streets, and even with squares; and the two sides of the river are united by a series of noble bridges. New churches also have risen in every direction; and though the architecture is none of the best, they contribute to a general air of neatness and freshness, which the increase of education and politeness promises to keep up. There is an old prophecy that Hampstead is to be in the middle of London; a phenomenon that London would really seem inclined to bring about. But a metropolis must stop somewhere; and the very causes 18 of its growth (we mean the facilities of carriage, &c.) will ultimately, perhaps sooner than is looked for, prevent it. Railways now allow numbers to reside at a distance, who a few years ago would have remained in London.

Ancient British London is conjectured to have been about a mile long, and half a mile wide. Modern London occupies an area of above eighteen square miles; and all this space, deducting not quite two miles for the river, is filled up with houses and public buildings, with a population of perhaps two million of souls, and with riches from all parts of the globe. In this respect London may justly be said to be the "metropolis of the world;" though Paris has the advance of it in some others.

During the reign of George the Third, the whole mind of Europe was shaken up more vehemently than ever by the French Revolution; and, as the consequence is after such tempestuous innovations, men began to look about them, to see what had stood the test of it, and how they might improve their condition still farther. After a great many disputes, natural on all sides, and a singular proof of the omnipotence of public opinion over the most extraordinary military power, it may be safely asserted, that the essence of that opinion, or the intellectual part of it is secretly acknowledged as the great regulator of society, even by those who appear to regulate it themselves; and who never show their sense to more advantage, than when they lead where they must have followed. This is the most remarkable era, perhaps, in the history of mankind; and experiment, and promise, are of a piece with it. Everybody is now more or less educated; the extension of the graces of life does away with sordidness, and teaches people that men do not live by "bread alone;" there is a reading public, let the jealousies of secluded scholarship say what they will; the mighty hands which Bacon set free are in full action; the Press reports and assists them, and utters a thousand voices daily, not to be put an end to by anything short of a convulsion of the globe. Time and space themselves are comparatively annihilated by the inventions of the steam-carriage and the electric telegraph. The corn-laws have gone, opening still wider the prospects of mankind; and improvements may be looked for in society, so much to the benefit of all classes, that the most reasonable observer will decline stating the amount of his expectations, lest they should be thought as extravagant, as old times 19 would have thought the telegraph just mentioned, or the publication of those thousands of volumes a day called Newspapers.[13]

A word or two more on health, and our modes of living. London was once called "Merry London," the metropolis of "Merry England." The word did not imply exclusively what it does now. Chaucer talks of the "merry organ at the mass." But it appears to have had a signification still more desirable—to have meant the best condition in which anything could be found, with cheerfulness for the result. Gallant soldiers were "merry men." Favourable weather was "merry." And London was "merry," because its inhabitants were not only rich, but healthy and robust. They had sports infinite, up to the time of the Commonwealth—races and wrestlings, archery, quoits, tennis, foot-ball, hurling, &c. Their May-day was worthy of the burst of the season; not a man was left behind out of the fields, if he could help it; their apprentices piqued themselves on their stout arms, and not on their milliners' faces; their nobility shook off the gout in tilts and tournaments; their Christmas closed the year with a joviality which brought the very trees in-doors to crown their cups with, and which promised admirably for the year that was to come. In everything they did, there was a reference to Nature and her works, as if nothing should make them forget her; and a gallant recognition of the duties of health and strength, as the foundation of their very right to be fathers.

We are aware of the drawbacks that accompanied this physical wisdom; of the comparative ignorance of the people, and the abuses they suffered accordingly; of slaveries, and star-chambers; of plagues, fires, and civil wars; of the burnings in Smithfield; of the murderings of wretched old women, supposed to be witches; and of other domestic superstitions, of which we are, perhaps, now-a-days unable to calculate the mischief. Surely we desire to see no more of them; and we are heartily willing that the same progress of thought which has swept them away, should have done us a disservice meanwhile, which more thinking shall put an end to. 20 Far are we from desiring to go back. But we would hasten the time when reflection shall recover the good for us, without bringing back the evil. And this surely it may. This it must—for real knowledge could not make its progress without it. The labour would not end in the reward. It has been supposed, that the poorer orders cannot have their enjoyments again—cannot have their old Christmas, for example, unless the rich supply them with the means of enjoyment, and so renew their charter of dependence. But this is to suppose that times are not changing in other respects, and that knowledge is not spreading. Riches and poverty themselves are modified by the progress of society; means are increased, however, to their apparent detriment at first, among the poor; and the knowledge of enjoyment becomes no longer confined to the rich, any more than the enjoyment of knowledge. Men may surely learn how to stouten their legs, as well as to improve their stockings. Now of all pleasures, those are the cheapest which are bought of nature—such as air and exercise, and manly sports; and though we allow that the poor, in order to relish them, must be free from the melancholier states of poverty, it is desirable meanwhile that the dispensers of knowledge should assist in hastening more cheerful times by preparing for them, and that all classes should be told how much the cultivation of their bodily health increases the ability, both of rich and poor, to get out of their troubles. You may steep a gipsey in trouble, and he shall issue out of it laughing. It would not be easy to do this with an epicurean, or a fund-holder, or with one of the parish poor; but neither need any one despair; for neither can the might of mechanical inventions, nor the greater might of opinion, be put down, whether in their first awful issuing forth, or in their final beneficence. And he that shall keep this oftenest in his mind, and be among the first to prepare for their enjoyment, by administering what helps he can to the encouragement of manly exercises among us, will assist in reviving the good old epithets of "merry England," and "merry London," in a sense they never have had yet. The progress of society has put an end to the melancholy absurdity of inquisitions, and star-chambers, and civil wars. The ground, therefore, is more clear for us to make England merrier in all respects than she was before. These things, we are aware, must result from other changes; but the changes themselves are in the reasonable and inevitable course of events. 21

As a link of a very pleasing description between old times and new not unconnected with what we have been speaking of, we shall conclude our introduction by observing, that there is scarcely a street in the city of London, perhaps not one, nor many out of the pale of it, from some part of which the passenger may not discern a tree. Most persons to whom this has been mentioned have doubted the accuracy of our information, nor do we profess hitherto to have ascertained it; though since we heard the assertion, we have made a point of endeavouring to do so whenever we could, and have not been disappointed. The mention of the circumstance generally creates a laughing astonishment, and a cry of "impossible!" Two persons, who successively heard of it the other day, not only thought it incredible as a general fact, but doubted whether half a dozen streets could be found with a twig in them; and they triumphantly instanced "Cheapside," as a place in which it was "out of the question." Yet in Cheapside is an actual, visible, and even ostentatiously visible tree, to all who have eyes to look about them. It stands at the corner of Wood Street, and occupies the space of a house. There was a solitary one the other day in St. Paul's Churchyard, which has now got a multitude of young companions. A little child was shown us a few years back, who was said never to have beheld a tree but that single one in St. Paul's Churchyard. Whenever a tree was mentioned, she thought it was that and no other. She had no conception even of the remote tree in Cheapside! This appears incredible; but there would seem to be no bounds, either to imagination or to the want of it. We were told the other day, on good authority, of a man who had resided six-and-thirty years in the square of St. Peter's at Rome, and then for the first time went inside the Cathedral.

There is a little garden in Watling Street! It lies completely open to the eye, being divided from the footway by a railing only.

In the body of our work will be found notices of other trees and green spots, that surprise the observer in the thick of the noise and smoke. Many of them are in churchyards. Others have disappeared during the progress of building. Many courts and passages are named from trees that once stood in them, as Vine and Elm Court, Fig-tree Court, Green-arbour Court, &c. It is not surprising that garden-houses, as they were called, should have formerly abounded in Holborn, in 22 Bunhill Row, and other (at that time) suburban places. We notice the fact, in order to observe how fond the poets were of occupying houses of this description. Milton seems to have made a point of having one. The only London residence of Chapman which is known, was in Old Street Road; doubtless at that time a rural suburb. Beaumont and Fletcher's house, on the Surrey side of the Thames (for they lived as well as wrote together), most probably had a garden: and Dryden's house in Gerard Street looked into the garden of the mansion built by the Earls of Leicester. A tree, or even a flower, put in a window in the streets of a great city (and the London citizens, to their credit, are fond of flowers,) affects the eye something in the same way as the hand-organs, which bring unexpected music to the ear. They refresh the common-places of life, shed a harmony through the busy discord, and appeal to those first sources of emotion, which are associated with the remembrance of all that is young and innocent. They seem also to present to us a portion of the tranquillity we think we are labouring for, and the desire of which is felt as an earnest that we shall realise it somewhere, either in this world or in the next. Above all, they render us more cheerful for the performance of present duties; and the smallest seed of this kind, dropt into the heart of man, is worth more, and may terminate in better fruits, than anybody but a great poet could tell us.




The Roman Temple of Diana—The first Christian Church—Old St. Paul's—Inigo Jones's Portico—Strange Usages of Former Times—Encroachments on the Fabric of the Cathedral—Paul's Walkers—Dining with Duke Humphrey—Catholic Customs—The Boy-Bishop—The Children of the Revels—Strange Ceremony on the Festivals of the Commemoration and Conversion of St. Paul—Ancient Tombs in the Cathedral—Scene between John of Gaunt and the Anti-Wickliffites—Paul's Cross—The Folkmote—The Sermons—Jane Shore—See-saw of Popery and Protestantism—London House—The Charnel—The Lollards' Tower—St. Paul's School—Desecration of the Cathedral during the Commonwealth—The present Cathedral—Sir Christopher Wren—Statue of Queen Anne.


As St. Paul's Churchyard is probably the oldest ground built upon in London, we begin our perambulations in that quarter. The cross which formerly stood north of the cathedral, and of which Stowe could not tell the antiquity, is supposed by some to have originated in one of those sacred stones which the Druids made use of in worship; but at least it is more than probable that here was a burial-ground of the ancient Britons; because when Sir Christopher Wren dug for a foundation to his cathedral, he discovered abundance of ivory and wooden pins, apparently of box, which are supposed to have fastened their winding sheets. The graves of the Saxons lay above them, lined with chalk-stones, or consisting of stones hollowed out: and in the same row with the pins, but deeper, lay Roman horns, lamps, lachrymatories, and all the elegancies of classic sculpture. Sir Christoper dug till he came to sand, and sea-shells, and to the London clay, which has since become famous in geology; so that the single history of St. Paul's Churchyard carries us back to the remotest periods of tradition; and we commence our book in the proper style of the old Chroniclers, who were not content, unless they began with the history of the world.

The Romans were thought to have built a Temple to Diana on the site of the modern cathedral, by reason of a number of relics of horned animals reported to have been dug up there. 24 Sir Christopher Wren asserts that there was no ground for the supposition. There was a similar story of a temple of Apollo at Westminster, built on the site of the present abbey, and said to have been destroyed by an earthquake. "Earthquakes," observed Sir Christopher, "break not stones to pieces; nor would the Picts be at that pains; but I imagine that the monks, finding the Londoners pretending to a Temple of Diana, where now St. Paul's stands (horns of stags and tusks of boars having been dug up in former times, and it is said also in later years), would not be behindhand in antiquity; but I must assert, that having changed all the foundations of old St. Paul's, and upon that occasion rummaged all the ground thereabouts, and being very desirous to find some footsteps of such a temple, I could not discover any, and therefore can give no more credit to Diana than to Apollo."[14]

Woodward, on the other hand, insisted on the Temple of Diana. He asserted, that a variety of the relics alluded to, in his own possession, were actually dug up on the spot, together with sacrificing vessels sculptured with beasts of chase, and with figures of Diana. In digging between the Deanery and Blackfriars a small brass figure of the goddess had also been found.[15]

Woodward was an enthusiast, eager to find what he fancied. Wren was willing to find also, but with cooler eyes. It is at the same time worth observing, that though Sir Christopher appears to have rejected the Pagan story with reason, he could not find it in his heart to refuse credit to the gratuitous traditions of old writers in favour of a Christian church "planted here by the Apostles themselves."[16] He calls the traditions "authentic testimony."

It is barely possible that the relics mentioned by Woodward might have been all dug up by the time Sir Christopher set about his inquiry; but let them have been what they might, they would have proved nothing in favour of a Roman Temple, because the Romans never buried under their temples; neither did their legions remain long enough in this country to see the character of the place altered. It was sufficiently remarkable, that proofs had been discovered even of their burying there at all; for, at Rome, none but very extraordinary persons were suffered to be buried within the walls; and the Roman cemeteries 25 in England are proved to have been without them. It can only be accounted for on the supposition that, as no great men are so great as the great men of colonies, the Prefects and their officers at London decreed themselves an honour, which was to be attained at Rome by nothing short of the merits of a Fabricius or a Publicola.

The first authentic account of the existence of a Christian church on this spot is that of Bede, who attributes the erection of it to King Ethelbert, about the year 610, soon after his conversion by St. Augustine. The building, which was probably of wood, was burned down in 961, but was restored the same year—a proof that, notwithstanding the lofty terms in which it is spoken of by the old historian, it could not have been of any great extent. This second church lasted till the time of William the Conqueror, when it, too, was destroyed by a conflagration, which burned the greater part of the city. Bishop Maurice, who had just been appointed to the see, now resolved to rebuild the cathedral on a much grander scale than before, at his own expense. To assist him in accomplishing this object, the King granted him the stones of an old castle, called the Palatine Tower, which stood at the mouth of the Fleet River, and which had been reduced to ruins in the same conflagration. The Bishop's design was looked upon as so vast, that "men at that time," says Stowe, "judged it wold never have bin finished; it was then so wonderfull for length and breadth."[17] This was in the year 1087; and the people had some reason for their astonishment, for the building was not completed till the year 1240, in the reign of Henry the Third. Some even extend the date to 1315, which is two hundred and twenty-eight years after its foundation; but this was owing rather to repairs and additions than to anything wanting in the original edifice. The cathedral thus patched, altered, and added to, over and over again, with different orders and no orders of architecture, and partially burned, oftener than once, remained till the Great Fire of London, when it was luckily rendered incapable of further deformity, and gave way to the present.

It was, indeed, a singular structure, and used for singular purposes.

"The exterior of the building," says an intelligent writer, himself an architect, "presented a curious medley of the architectural style of 26 different ages. At the western front Inigo Jones had erected a portico of the Corinthian order; thus displaying a singular example of that bigotry of taste, which, only admitting one mode of beauty, is insensible to the superior claims of congruity. This portico, however, singly considered, was a grand and beautiful composition, and not inferior to any thing of the kind which modern times have produced: fourteen columns, each rising to the lofty height of forty-six feet, were so disposed, that eight, with two pilasters placed in front, and three on each flank, formed a square (oblong) peristyle, and supported an entablature and balustrade, which was crowned with statues of kings, predecessors of Charles the First, who claimed the honour of this fabric. Had the whole front been accommodated to Roman architecture, it might have deserved praise as a detached composition; but though cased with rustic work, and decorated with regular cornices, the pediment retained the original Gothic character in its equilateral proportions, and it was flanked by barbarous obelisks and ill-designed turrets."

Old St. Pauls

"The whole of the exterior body of the church had been cased and reformed in a similar manner, through which every detail of antiquity was obliterated, and the general forms and proportions only left. The buttresses were converted into regular piers, and a complete cornice crowned the whole: of the windows, some were barely ornamented apertures, whilst others were decorated in a heavy Italian manner, with architrave dressings, brackets, and cherubic heads. The transepts 27 presented fronts of the same incongruous style as the western elevation, and without any of its beauties."[18]

In its original state, however, old St. Paul's must have been an imposing building. Its extent at least was very great. The entire mass measured 690 feet in length, by 130 in breadth, and it was surmounted by a spire 520 feet high. The spire was of timber. It bore upon its summit not only a ball and cross, but a large gilded eagle, which served as a weathercock. But the church having been nearly burned to the ground in June, 1561, owing to the carelessness of a plumber who left a pan of coals burning near some wood-work while he went to dinner, it was hastily restored without the lofty spire; so that in Hollar's engraving, given by Dugdale, of the building as it appeared in 1656, it stands curtailed of this ornament. Only the square tower, from which the spire sprang up, remains. "The old cathedral," says Mr. Malcolm, on the authority of a note with which he was furnished by the Rev. Mr. Watts, of Sion College, "did not stand in the same direction with the new, the latter inclining rather to the south-west and north-east; and the west front of the Old Church came much farther towards Ludgate than the present."[19]

It is of the Cathedral, as thus renovated, that Sir John Denham speaks in the following passage of his Cooper's Hill:—

"That sacred pile, so vast, so high,

That whether it's a part of earth or sky,

Uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud

Aspiring mountain, or descending cloud;

Paul's, the late name of such a muse whose flight

Has bravely reach'd and soar'd above thy height;

Now shalt thou stand, though sword, or time, or fire,

Or zeal, more fierce than they, thy fall conspire,

Secure, whilst thee the best of poets sings,

Preserv'd from ruin by the best of kings."

"The best of poets" is his brother courtier Waller, who had some time before written his verses "Upon his Majesty's repairing of St. Paul's," in which he compares King Charles, for his regeneration of the Cathedral, to Amphion and other "antique minstrels," who were said to have achieved architectural feats by the power of music, and who, he says,

"Sure were Charles-like kings,

Cities their lutes, and subjects' hearts their strings;

On which with so divine a hand they strook,

Consent of motion from their breath they took."


Jones's first labour, the removal of the various foreign encumbrances that had so long oppressed and deformed the venerable edifice, Waller commemorates by a pair of references to St. Paul's history, not unhappily applied: he says the whole nation had combined with his Majesty

"to grace

The Gentiles' great Apostle, and deface

Those state-obscuring sheds, that like a chain

Seem'd to confine and fetter him again;

Which the glad Saint shakes off at his command,

As once the viper from his sacred hand."

Denham's prediction did no credit to the prophetic reputation of poetry. Of the fabric which was to be unassailable by zeal or fire the poet himself lived to see the ruin, begun by the one and completed by the other; and he himself, curiously enough, a short time before his death, was engaged as the King's surveyor-general in (nominally at least) presiding over the erection of the new Cathedral—the successor of the "sacred pile," of which he had thus sung the immortality.

When Jones began the repairs and additions of which his portico formed a part, in 1633, the rubbish that was removed was carried, Mr. Malcolm informs us, to Clerkenwell fields, where, he suggests, "some curious fragments of antiquity may still remain."[20] The very beauty of this portico, surmounted with its strange pediment and figures, and dragging at its back that heap of deformity, completed the monstrous look of the whole building, like a human countenance backed by some horned lump. But this was nothing to the moral deformities of the interior. Old St. Paul's, throughout almost the whole period of its existence, at least from the reign of Henry the Third, was a thoroughfare, and a "den of thieves." The thoroughfare was occasioned probably by the great circuit which people had been compelled to make by the extent of the wall of the old churchyard—a circumference a great deal larger than it is at present. There is a principle of familiarity in the Catholic worship which, while it excites the devotional tenderness of more refined believers, is apt to produce the consequence, though not the feelings, of contempt among the vulgar. Fear hinders contempt; but when license is mixed with it, and the fear is not in action, the liberties taken are apt to be in proportion. We have seen, in a Catholic chapel 29 in London, a milk-maid come into the passage, dash down her pails, and having crossed herself, and applied the holy water with reverence, depart with the same air with which she came in. The next thing to setting down the pails, under the circumstances above mentioned, would have been to creep with them through the church. Porters and loiterers would follow; and by degrees the place of worship would become a place of lounging and marketing, and intrigue, and all sorts of disorder. In the reign of Edward the Third, the King complains to the Bishop that the "eating-room of the canons" had "become the office and work-place of artisans, and the resort of shameless women." The complaint turned out to be of no avail; nor had the mandate of the Bishop a better result in the time of Richard the Third, though it was accompanied with the penalty of excommunication. An Act was passed to as little purpose in the reign of Philip and Mary; and in the time of Elizabeth the new opinions in religion seem to have left the place fairly in possession of its chaos, as if in derision of the old. The toleration of the abuse thus became a matter of habit and indifference; and a young theologian, afterwards one of the witty prelates of Charles the Second (Bishop Earle), did not scruple to make it the subject of what we should now call a "pleasant article."

"It must appear strange," says a note in Brayley's London and Middlesex (vol. ii. p. 219), "to those who are acquainted with the decent order and propriety of regulation now observed in our cathedral churches, and other places of divine worship, that ever such an extended catalogue of improper customs and disgusting usages as are noticed in various works, should have been formerly admitted to be practised in St. Paul's church, and more especially that they should have been so long habitually exercised as to be defended on the plea of prescription.

"These nuisances had become so great, that in the time of Philip and Mary the Common Council found it necessary to pass an act, subjecting all future offenders to pains and penalties. From that act, the church seems to have been not only made a common passage-way for all—beer, bread, fish, flesh, fardels of stuffs, &c., but also for mules, horses, and other beasts. This statute, however, must have proved only a temporary restraint (excepting, probably, as to the leading of animals through the church); for in the reign of Elizabeth, we learn from Londinium Redivivum (vol. iii. p. 71), that idlers and drunkards were indulged in lying and sleeping on the benches at the choir door; and that other usages, too nauseous for description, were also frequent."

Among the curious notices relating to the irreverent practices pursued in this church in the time of Elizabeth, collected 30 by Mr. Malcolm from the manuscript presentments on visitations preserved at St. Paul's, are the following:—

"In the upper quier wher the comon [communion] table dothe stande, there is much unreverente people, walking with their hatts on their heddes, comonly all the service tyme, no man reproving them for yt."

"Yt is a greate disorder in the churche, that porters, butchers, and water-bearers, and who not, be suffered (in special tyme of service) to carrye and recarrye whatsoever, no man withstandinge them, or gainsaying them," &c.

"The notices of encroachments on St. Paul's, in the same reign, are equally curious. The chantry and other chapels were completely diverted from their ancient purposes; some were used as receptacles for stores and lumber; another was a school, another a glazier's shop; and the windows of all were, in general, broken. Part of the vaults beneath the church was occupied by a carpenter, the remainder was held by the bishop, the dean and chapter, and the minor canons. One vault, thought to have been used for a burial-place, was converted into a wine-cellar, and a way had been cut into it through the wall of the building itself. (This practice of converting church vaults into wine-cellars, it may be remarked, is not yet worn out. Some of the vaults of Winchester Cathedral are now, or were lately, used for that purpose.) The shrowds and cloisters under the convocation house, 'where not long since the sermons in foul weather were wont to be preached,' were made 'a common lay-stall for boardes, trunks, and chests, being lett oute unto trunk-makers, where, by meanes of their daily knocking and noyse, the church is greatly disturbed.' More than twenty houses also had been built against the outer walls of the cathedral; and part of the very foundations was cut away to make offices. One of those houses had literally a closet dug in the wall; from another was a way through a window into a wareroom in the steeple; a third, partly formed by St. Paul's, was lately used as a play-house; and the owner of the fourth baked his bread and pies in an oven excavated within a buttress."[21]

The middle of St. Paul's was also the Bond Street of that period, and remained so till the time of the Commonwealth. The loungers were called Paul's Walkers.

"The young gallants from the inns of court, the western and the northern parts of the metropolis, and those that had spirit enough," says our author, "to detach themselves from the counting-houses in the east, used to meet at the central point, St. Paul's; and from this circumstance obtained the appellations of Paul's Walkers, as we now say, Bond-street Loungers. However strange it may seem, tradition says that the great Lord Bacon used in his youth to cry, Eastward ho! and was literally a Paul's Walker."[22]

Lord Bacon had a taste for display, which was afterwards exhibited in a magnificent manner, worthy of the grandeur of his philosophy; but this, when he was young, might 31 probably enough have been vented in the shape of an exuberance, which did not yet know what to do with itself. Who would think that the late Mr. Fox ever wore red-heeled shoes, and was a "buck about town?"

But to conclude with these curious passages:—

"The Walkers in Paul's," continues our author, "during this and the following reigns, were composed of a motley assemblage of the gay, the vain, the dissolute, the idle, the knavish, and the lewd; and various notices of this fashionable resort may be found in the old plays and other writings of the time. Ben Jonson, in his Every man out of his Humour, has given a series of scenes in the interior of St. Paul's, and an assemblage of a great variety of characters; in the course of which the curious piece of information occurs, that it was common to affix bills, in the form of advertisements, upon the columns in the aisles of the church, in a similar manner to what is now done in the Royal Exchange: those bills he ridicules in two affected specimens, the satire of which is admirable. Shakspeare also makes Falstaff say, in speaking of Bardolph, 'I bought him in Paul's, and he'll buy me a horse in Smithfield: if I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were mann'd, hors'd, and wiv'd.'"

To complete these urbanities, the church was the resort of pickpockets. Bishop Corbet, a poetical wit of the time of Charles the First, sums up its character, as the "walke

"Where all our Brittaine sinners sweare and talk."[23]

Only one reformation had taken place in it since the complaint made by Edward the Third: no woman, at the time of Earle's writing, was to be found there; at least not in the crowd. "The visitants," he says, "are all men without exception."[24] A commonwealth writer insinuates otherwise; but the visitation was not public. The practice of "walking and talking" in St. Paul's appears to have revived under James the Second, probably in connection with Catholic wishes; for there was an Act of William and Mary, by which transgressors forfeited twenty pounds for every offence; and, what is remarkable, the Bishop threatened to enforce this Act so late as the year 1725; "the custom," says Mr. Malcolm, "had become so very prevalent."[25]

A proverb of "dining with Duke Humphrey," has survived to the present day, owing to a supposed tomb of Humphrey, the good Duke of Gloucester, which was popular with the poorer frequenters of the place. They had a custom of strewing herbs before it, and sprinkling it with water. 32 The tomb, according to Stow, was not Humphrey's, but that of Sir John Beauchamp, one of the house of Warwick. Men who strolled about for want of a dinner, were familiar enough with this tomb; and were therefore said to dine with Duke Humphrey.

While some of the extraordinary operations above-mentioned were going on (the intriguing, picking of pockets, &c.), the sermon was very likely proceeding. It is but fair, however, to conclude, that in the Catholic times, during the elevation of the host, there was a show of respect. We have heard a gentleman say, who visited Spain in his childhood, that he remembered being at the theatre during a fandango, when a loud voice cried out "Dios" (God); and all the people in the house, including the dancers, fell on their knees. A profound silence ensued. After a pause of a few seconds, the people rose, and the fandango went on as before. The little boy could not think what had happened, but was told that the host had gone by. The Deity (for so it was thought) had been sent for to the house of a sick man; and it was to honour him in passing, that the theatre had gone down on their knees. Catholics reform as well as other people, with the growth of knowledge, especially when restrictions no longer make their prejudices appear a matter of duty. We know not how it is in Spain at this moment, with regard to the devout interval of the fandango; but we know what would be thought of it by thousands of the offspring of those who witnessed it on this occasion; and certainly in no Catholic church now-a-days can be seen the abominations of old St. Paul's.

The passenger who now goes by the cathedral, and associates the idea of the inside with that of respectful silence and the simplicity of Protestant worship, little thinks what a noise has been in that spot, and what gorgeous processions have issued out of it.

Old St. Paul's was famous for the splendour of its shrine, and for its priestly wealth. The list of its copes, vestments, jewels, gold and silver cups, candlesticks, &c., occupies thirteen folio pages of the Monasticon. The side aisles were filled with chapels to different saints and the Virgin; that is to say, with nooks partitioned off one from another, and enriched with separate altars; and it is calculated, that, taking the whole establishment, there could hardly be fewer than two hundred priests. On certain holidays, this sacred 33 multitude, in their richest copes, together with the lord mayor, aldermen, and city companies, and all the other parish priests of London, who carried a rich silver cross for every church, issued forth from the cathedral door in procession, singing a hymn, and so went through Cheapside and Cornhill to Leadenhall, and back again. The last of these spectacles was for the peace of Guisnes, in 1546; shortly after which Henry the Eighth swept into his treasury the whole glories of Catholic worship—copes, crosses, jewels, church-plate, &c.—himself being the most bloated enormity that had ever misused them.

Among other retainers to the establishment, Henry suppressed a singular little personage, entitled the Boy-Bishop. The Boy-Bishop (Episcopus Puerorum) was a chorister annually elected by his fellows to imitate the state and attire of a bishop, which he assumed on St. Nicholas's day, the sixth of December, and retained till that of the Innocents, December the twenty-eighth.

"This was done," says Brayley, "in commemoration of St. Nicholas, who, according to the Romish Church, was so piously fashioned, that even when a babe in his cradle he would fast both on Wednesdays and Fridays, and at those times was 'well pleased' to suck but once a-day. However ridiculous it may now seem, the Boy-Bishop is stated to have possessed episcopal authority during the above term; and the other children were his prebendaries. He was not permitted to celebrate mass, but he had full liberty to preach; and however puerile his discourse might have been, we find they were regarded with so much attention, that the learned Dean Colet, in his statutes for St. Paul's school, expressly ordained that the scholars shall, on 'every Childermas daye, come to Paule's Churche, and hear the Chylde Bishop's sermon, and after be at the hygh masse, and each of them offer a penny to the Chylde Bishop; and with them the maisters and surveyors of the scole.' Probably," continues Mr. Brayley, "these orations, though affectedly childish, were composed by the more aged members of the church. If the Boy-Bishop died within the time of his prelacy, he was interred in pontificalibus, with the same ceremonies as the real diocesan; and the tomb of a child-bishop in Salisbury Cathedral may be referred to as an instance of such interment."[26]

"From a printed church-book," says Mr. Hone, "containing the service of the boy-bishops set to music, we learn that, on the eve of Innocents'-day, the Boy-Bishop, and his youthful clergy, in their copes, and with burning tapers in their hands, went in solemn procession, chanting and singing versicles, as they walked into the choir by the west door, in such order that the dean and canons went foremost, the chaplains next, and the Boy-Bishop with his priests in the last and highest place. He then took his seat, and the rest of the children disposed themselves on each side of the choir, upon the uppermost ascent, the canons resident bearing the incense and the book, 34 and the petit-canons the tapers, according to the rubrick. Afterwards he proceeded to the altars of the Holy Trinity and All Saints, which he first censed, and next the image of the Holy Trinity, his priests all the while singing. Then they all chanted a service with prayers and responses, and, in the like manner taking his seat, the Boy-Bishop repeated salutations, prayers, and versicles; and in conclusion gave his benediction to the people, the chorus answering Deo Gratias."[27]

The origin of customs is often as obscure as that of words, and may be traced with probability to many sources. Perhaps the boy-bishop had a reference, not only to St. Nicholas, but to Christ preaching when a boy among the doctors, and to the divine wisdom of his recommendations of a childlike simplicity. The school afterwards founded by Dean Colet was in honour of "the child Jesus." There was a school attached to the cathedral, of which Colet's was, perhaps, a revival, as far as scholarship was concerned. The boys in the older school were not only taught singing but acting, and for a long period were the most popular performers of stage-plays. In the time of Richard the Second, these Boy-Actors petitioned the King to prohibit certain ignorant and "inexpert people from presenting the History of the Old Testament." They began with sacred plays, but afterwards acted profane; so that St. Paul's singing-school was numbered among the play-houses. This custom, as well as that of the boy-bishop, appears to have been common wherever there were choir-boys; and it doubtless originated, partly in the theatrical nature of the catholic ceremonies at which they assisted, and partly in the delight which the more scholarly of their masters took in teaching the plays of Terence and Seneca. The annual performance of a play of Terence, still kept up at Westminster school, is supposed by Warton to be a remnant of it. The choristers of Westminster Abbey, and of the chapel of Queen Elizabeth, (who took great pleasure in their performances), were celebrated as actors, though not so much so at those of St. Paul's. A set of them were incorporated under the title of Children of the Revels, among whom are to be found names that have since become celebrated as the fellow-actors of Shakspeare—Field, Underwood, and others. It was the same with Hart, Mohun, and others, who were players in the time of Cibber. It appears that children with good voices were sometimes kidnapped for a supply.[28] Tusser, who wrote the Five Hundred 35 Points of Good Husbandry, is thought to have been thus pressed into the service; and a relic of the custom is supposed to have existed in that of pressing drummers for the army, which survived so late as the accession of Charles the First. The exercise of the right of might over children, and by people who wanted singers—an effeminate press-gang—would seem an intolerable nuisance; but the children were probably glad enough to be complimented by the violence, and to go to sing and play before a court.

Ben Jonson has some pretty verses on one of these juvenile actors:

Weep with me, all you that read

This little story;

And know, for whom a tear you shed,

Death's self is sorry.

'Twas a child that so did thrive

In grace and feature,

As heaven and nature seemed to strive

Which owned the creature.

Years he numbered, scarce thirteen,

When fates turned cruel;

Yet three filled zodiacs had he been

The stage's jewel;

And did act (what now we moan)

Old men so duly,

As, sooth, the Parcæ thought him one,

He played so truly.

Till, by error of his fate,

They all consented;

But viewing him since (alas! too late)

They have repented;

And have sought (to give new birth)

In baths to steep him!

But being so much too good for earth,

Heaven vows to keep him.

This child, we see, was celebrated for acting old men. It is well known that, up to the Restoration, and sometimes afterwards, boys performed the parts of women. Kynaston, when a boy, used to be taken out by the ladies an airing, in his female dress after the play. This custom of males appearing as females gave rise, in Shakspeare's time, to the frequent introduction of female characters disguised; thus 36 presenting a singular anomaly, and a specimen of the gratuitous imaginations of the spectators in those days; who, besides being contented with taking the bare stage for a wood, a rock, or a garden, as it happened, were to suppose a boy on the stage to pretend to be himself.

One of the strangest of the old ceremonies, in which the clergy of the cathedral used to figure, was that which was performed twice a year, namely, on the day of the Commemoration and on that of the Conversion of St. Paul. On the former of these festivals, a fat doe, and on the latter, a fat buck, was presented to the Church by the family of Baud, in consideration of some land which they held of the Dean and Chapter at West Lee in Essex. The original agreement made with Sir William Le Baud, in 1274, was, that he himself should attend in person with the animals; but some years afterwards it was arranged that the presentation should be made by a servant, accompanied by a deputation of part of the family. The priests, however, continued to perform their part in the show. When the deer was brought to the foot of the steps leading to the choir, the reverend brethren appeared in a body to receive it, dressed in their full pontifical robes, and having their heads decorated with garlands of flowers. From thence they accompanied it as the servant led it forward to the high altar, where having been solemnly offered and slain, it was divided among the residentiaries. The horns were then fastened to the top of a spear, and carried in procession by the whole company around the inside of the church, a noisy concert of horns regulating their march. This ridiculous exhibition, which looks like a parody on the pagan ceremonies of their predecessors the priests of Diana, was continued by the cathedral clergy down to the time of Elizabeth.

The modern passenger through St. Paul's Churchyard has not only the last home of Nelson and others to venerate, as he goes by. In the ground of the old church were buried, and here, therefore, remains whatever dust may survive them, the gallant Sir Philip Sydney (the beau ideal of the age of Elizabeth), and Vandyke, who immortalised the youth and beauty of the court of Charles the First. One of Elizabeth's great statesmen also lay there—Walsingham—who died so poor, that he was buried by stealth, to prevent his body from being arrested. Another, Sir Christopher Hatton, who is supposed to have danced himself into the office of her 37 Majesty's Chancellor,[29] had a tomb which his contemporaries thought too magnificent, and which was accused of "shouldering" the altar. There was an absurd epitaph upon it, by which he would seem to have been a dandy to the last.

Stay and behold the mirror of a dead man's house,

Whose lively person would have made thee stay and wonder.

When Nature moulded him, her thoughts were most on Mars;

And all the heavens to make him goodly were agreeing;

Thence he was valiant, active, strong, and passing comely;

And God did grace his mind and spirit with gifts excelling.

Nature commends her workmanship to Fortune's charge,

Fortune presents him to the court and queen,

Queen Eliz. (O God's dear handmayd) his most miracle.

Now hearken, reader, raritie not heard or seen;

This blessed Queen, mirror of all that Albion rul'd,

Gave favour to his faith, and precepts to his hopeful time;

First trained him in the stately band of pensioners;

And for her safety made him Captain of the Guard.

Now doth she prune this vine, and from her sacred breast

Lessons his life, makes wise his heart for her great councells,

And so, Vice-Chamberlain, where foreign princes eyes

Might well admire her choyce, wherein she most excels.

He then aspires, says the writer, to "the highest subject's seat," and becomes

Lord Chancelour (measure and conscience of a holy king:)

Robe, Collar, Garter, dead figures of great honour,

Alms-deeds with faith, honest in word, frank in dispence,

The poor's friend, not popular, the church's pillar.

This tombe sheweth one, the heaven's shrine the other.[30]

The first line in italics, and the poetry throughout, are only to be equalled by a passage in an epitaph we have met with on a Lady of the name of Greenwood, of whom her husband says:—

"Her graces and her qualities were such

That she might have married a bishop or a judge;

But so extreme was her condescension and humility,

That she married me, a poor doctor of divinity;

By which heroic deed, she stands confest,

Of all other women, the phœnix of her sex."

Sir Christopher is said to have died of a broken heart, because his once loving mistress exacted a debt of him which he found it difficult to pay. It was common to talk of 38 courtiers dying of broken hearts at that time; which gives one an equal notion of the Queen's power, and the servility of those gentlemen. Fletcher, Bishop of London, father of the great poet, was another who had a tomb in the old church, and is said to have undergone the same fate. It was he that did a thing very unlike a poet's father. He attended the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, and said aloud, when her head was held up by the executioner, "So perish all Queen Elizabeth's enemies!" He was then Dean of Peterborough. The Queen made him a bishop, but suspended him for marrying a second wife, which so preyed upon his feelings, that it is thought, by the help of an immoderate love of smoking, to have hastened his end—a catastrophe worthy of a mean courtier. He was well, sick, and dead, says Fuller, in a quarter of an hour. Most probably he died of apoplexy, the tobacco giving him the coup de grace.[31]

Dr. Donne, the head of the metaphysical poets, so well criticised by Johnson, was Dean of St. Paul's, and had a grave here, of which he has left an extraordinary memorial. It is a wooden image of himself, made to his order, and representing him as he was to appear in his shroud. This, for some time before he died, he kept by his bed-side in an open coffin, thus endeavouring to reconcile an uneasy imagination to the fate he could not avoid. It is still preserved in the vaults under the church, and is to be seen with the other curiosities of the cathedral. We will not do a great man such a disservice as to dig him up for a spectacle. A man should be judged of at the time when he is most himself, and not when he is about to consign his weak body to its elements.

Of the events that have taken place connected with St. Paul's, one of the most curious was a scene that passed in the old cathedral between John of Gaunt and the Anti-Wickliffites. It made him very unpopular at the time. Probably, if he had died just after it, his coffin would have been torn to pieces; but subsequently he had a magnificent tomb in the church, on which hung his crest and cap of state, together with his lance and target. Perhaps the merits of the friend of Wickliff and Chaucer are now as much overvalued. The scene is taken as follows, by Mr. Brayley, out of Fox's Acts and Monuments.


"One of the most remarkable occurrences that ever took place within the old cathedral was the attempt made, in 1376, by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, under the command of Pope Gregory the Eleventh, to compel Wickliff, the father of the English Reformation, to subscribe to the condemnation of some of his own tenets, which had been recently promulgated in the eight articles that have been termed the Lollards' Creed. The Pope had ordered the above prelates to apprehend and examine Wickliff; but they thought it most expedient to summon him to St. Paul's, as he was openly protected by the famous John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; and that nobleman accompanied him to the examination, together with the Lord Percy, Marshall of England. The proceedings were soon interrupted by a dispute as to whether Wickliff should sit or stand; and the following curious dialogue arose on the Lord Percy desiring him to be seated:—

"Bishop of London.—'If I could have guessed, Lord Percy, that you would have played the master here, I would have prevented your coming.'

"Duke of Lancaster.—'Yes, he shall play the master here for all you.'

"Lord Percy.—'Wickliff, sit down! You have need of a seat, for you have many things to say.'

"Bishop of London.—'It is unreasonable that a clergyman, cited before his ordinary, should sit during his answer. He shall stand!'

"Duke of Lancaster.—'My Lord Percy, you are in the right! And for you, my Lord Bishop, you are grown so proud and arrogant, I will take care to humble your pride; and not only yours, my lord, but that of all the prelates in England. Thou dependest upon the credit of thy relations; but so far from being able to help thee, they shall have enough to do to support themselves.'

"Bishop of London.—'I place no confidence in my relations, but in God alone, who will give me the boldness to speak the truth.'

"Duke of Lancaster (speaking softly to Lord Percy).—'Rather than take this at the Bishop's hands, I will drag him by the hair of the head out of the court!'"[32]

Old St. Paul's was much larger than now, and the churchyard was of proportionate dimensions. The wall by which it was bounded ran along by the present streets of Ave Maria Lane, Paternoster Row, Old Change, Carter Lane, and Creed Lane; and therefore included a large space and many buildings which are not now considered to be within the precincts of the cathedral. This spacious area had grass inside, and contained a variety of appendages to the establishment. One of these was the cross which we have alluded to at the beginning of this chapter, and of which Stow did not know the antiquity. It was called Paul's Cross, and stood on the north side of the church, a little to the east of the entrance of Cannon Alley. It was around Paul's Cross, or rather in the space to the east 40 of it that the citizens were wont anciently to assemble in Folkmote, or general convention—not only to elect their magistrates and to deliberate on public affairs, but also, as it would appear, to try offenders and award punishments. We read of meetings of the Folkmote in the thirteenth century; but the custom was discontinued, as the increasing number of the inhabitants, and the mixture of strangers, were found to lead to confusion and tumult. In after times the cross appears to have been used chiefly for proclamations, and other public proceedings, civil as well as ecclesiastical; such as the swearing of the citizens to allegiance, the emission of papal bulls, the exposing of penitents, &c., "and for the defaming of those," says Pennant, "who had incurred the displeasure of crowned heads." A pulpit was attached to it, it was not known when, in which sermons were preached, called Paul's Cross Sermons, a name by which they continued to be known when they ceased in the open air. Many benefactors contributed to support these sermons. In Stow's time the pulpit was an hexagonal piece of wood, "covered with lead, elevated upon a flight of stone steps, and surmounted by a large cross." During rainy weather the poorer part of the audience retreated to a covered place, called the shrowds, which are supposed to have abutted on the church wall. The rest, including the lord mayor and aldermen, most probably had shelter at all times; and the King and his train (for they attended also) had covered galleries.[33] Popular preachers were invited to hold forth in this pulpit, but the Bishop was the inviter. In the 41 reign of James the First, the lord mayor and aldermen ordered, that every one who should preach there, "considering the journies some of them might take from the universities, or elsewhere, should at his pleasure be freely entertained for five days' space, with sweet and convenient lodging, fire, candle, and all other necessaries, viz., from Thursday before their day of preaching, to Thursday morning following."[34] "This good custom," says Maitland, "continued for some time. And the Bishop of London, or his chaplain, when he sent to any one to preach, did actually signify the place where he might repair at his coming up, and be entertained freely." In earlier times a kind of inn seems to have been kept for the entertainment of the preachers at Paul's Cross, which went by the name of the Shunamites' House.

"Before the cross," says Pennant, "was brought, divested of all splendour, Jane Shore, the charitable, the merry concubine of Edward the Fourth, and, after his death, of his favourite, the unfortunate Lord Hastings. After the loss of her protectors, she fell a victim to the malice of crooked-backed Richard. He was disappointed (by her excellent defence) of convicting her of witchcraft, and confederating with her lover to destroy him. He then attacked her on the weak side of frailty. This was undeniable. He consigned her to the severity of the church: she was carried to the Bishop's palace, clothed in a white sheet, with a taper in her hand, and from thence conducted to the cathedral and the cross, before which she made a confession of her only fault. Every other virtue bloomed in this ill-fated fair with the fullest vigour. She could not resist the solicitations of a youthful monarch, the handsomest man of his time. On his death she was reduced to necessity, scorned by the world, and cast off by her husband, with whom she was paired in her childish years, and forced to fling herself into the arms of Hastings."

"In her penance she went," says Holinshed, "in countenance and pace demure, so womanlie, that albeit she were out of all araie, save her kertle onlie, yet went she so faire and lovelie, namelie, while the wondering of the people cast a comlie rud in her cheeks (of which she before had most misse), that hir great shame wan hir much praise among those that were more amorous of hir bodie, than curious of hir soule. And manie good folks that hated her living (and glad were to see sin corrected), yet pitied they more hir penance, than rejoiced therein, when they considered that the Protector procured it more of a corrupt intent than any virtuous affection."

"Rowe," continues Pennant, "has flung this part of her sad story into the following poetical dress; but it is far from possessing the moving simplicity of the old historian."[35] 42

Submissive, sad, and lonely was her look;

A burning taper in her hand she bore;

And on her shoulders, carelessly confused,

With loose neglect her lovely tresses hung;

Upon her cheek a faintish flush was spread;

Feeble she seemed, and sorely smit with pain;

While, barefoot as she trod the flinty pavement,

Her footsteps all along were marked with blood.

Yet silent still she passed, and unrepining;

Her streaming eyes bent ever on the earth,

Except when, in some bitter pang of sorrow,

To heaven she seemed, in fervent zeal, to raise,

And beg that mercy man denied her here.

"The poet has adopted the fable of her being denied all sustenance, and of her perishing with hunger, but that was not a fact. She lived to a great age, but in great distress and miserable poverty; deserted even by those to whom she had, during prosperity, done the most essential services. She dragged a wretched life even to the time of Sir Thomas More, who introduces her story in his Life of Richard the Third. The beauty of her person is spoken of in high terms; 'Proper she was, and faire; nothing in her body that you would have changed, but if you would have wished her somewhat higher. Thus sai they that knew hir in hir youth. Albeit, some that now see hir, for she yet liveth, deem hir never to have been well visaged. Now is she old, leane, withered, and dried up: nothing left but shrivelled skin and hard bone; and yet, being even such, whoso well advise her visage, might gesse and devise, which parts how filled, would make it a faire face.'"[36]

To these pictures, which are all drawn with spirit, may be added a portrait in the notes to Drayton's Heroical Epistles, referring to the one by Sir Thomas More.

"Her stature," says the comment, "was mean; her hair of a dark yellow, her face round and full, her eye grey, delicate harmony being betwixt each part's proportion, and each proportion's colour; her body fat, white, and smooth; her countenance cheerful, and like to her condition. That picture which I have seen of her, was such as she rose out of her bed in the morning, having nothing on but a rich mantle, cast under her arm, over her shoulder, and sitting in a chair on which her naked arm did lie. What her father's name was, or where she was born, is not certainly known; but Shore, a young man of right goodly person, wealth, and behaviour, abandoned her bed, after the King had made her his concubine."[37]

Richard, in the extreme consciousness of his being in the wrong, made a sad bungling business of his first attempts on the throne. The penance of Jane Shore was followed by Dr. Shawe's sermon at the same cross, in which the servile preacher attempted to bastardise the children of Edward, and to recommend the "legitimate" Richard, as the express image 43 of his father. Richard made his appearance, only to witness the sullen silence of the spectators; and the doctor, arguing more weakness than wickedness, took to his house, and soon after died.[38]

In the reign of the Tudors, Paul's Cross was the scene of a very remarkable series of contradictions. The government, under Henry the Eighth, preached for and against the same doctrines in religion. Mary furiously attempted to revive them; and they were finally denounced by Elizabeth. Wolsey began, in 1521, with fulminating, by command of the Pope, against "one Martin Eleutherius" (Luther). The denouncement was made by Fisher (afterwards beheaded for denying the King's supremacy); but Wolsey sate by, in his usual state, censed and canopied, with the pope's ambassador on one side of him, and the emperor's on the other. During the sermon a collection of Luther's books was burnt in the churchyard; "which ended, my Lord Cardinal went home to dinner with all the other prelates."[39] About ten years afterwards the preachers at Paul's Cross received an order from the King to "teach and declare to the people, that neither the pope, nor any of his predecessors, were anything more than the simple Bishops of Rome." On the accession of Mary, the discourses were ordered to veer directly round, which produced two attempts to assassinate the preachers in sermon-time; and the moment Elizabeth came to the throne, the divines began recommending the very opposite tenets, and the pope was finally rejected. At this Cross Elizabeth afterwards attended to hear a thanksgiving sermon for the defeat of the Invincible Armada; on which occasion a coach was first seen in England—the one she came in. The last sermon attended there by the sovereign was during the reign of her successor; but discourses continued to be delivered up to the time of the Civil Wars, when, after being turned to account by the Puritans for about a year, the pulpit was demolished 44 by order of Parliament. The "willing instrument" of the overthrow was Pennington, the lord-mayor. The inhabitants who look out of their windows now-a-days on the northern side of St. Paul's may thus have a succession of pictures before their mind's eye, as curious and inconsistent as those of a dream—princes, queens, lord-mayors, and aldermen,

A court of cobblers, and a mob of kings,

Jane's penance, Richard's chagrin, Wolsey's exaltation, clergymen preaching for and against the pope; a coach coming as a wonder, where coaches now throng at every one's service; and finally, a puritanical lord-mayor, who "blasphemed custard," laying the axe to the tree, and cutting down the pulpit and all its works.

The next appendage to the old church, in point of importance, was the Bishop's or London House, the name of which survives in that of London House Yard. This, with other buildings, perished in the Great Fire; and on the site of it were built the houses now standing between the yard just mentioned and the present Chapter House. The latter was built by Wren. The old one stood on the other side of the cathedral, where the modern deanery is to be found, only more eastward. The bishop's house was often used for the reception of princes. Edward the Third and his queen were entertained there after a great tournament in Smithfield; and there poor little Edward the Fifth was lodged, previously to his appointed coronation. To the east of the bishop's house, stretching towards Cheapside, was a chapel, erected by the father of Thomas Becket, called Pardon-Church-Haugh, which was surrounded by a cloister, presenting a painting of the Dance of Death on the walls, a subject rendered famous by Holbein.[40]

Another chapel called the Charnel, a proper neighbour to this fresco, stood at the back of the two buildings just mentioned. It received its name from the quantity of human bones collected from St. Paul's Churchyard, and deposited in a vault beneath. The Charnel was taken down by the 45 Protector Somerset about 1549, and the stones were employed in the building of the new palace of Somerset House. On this occasion it is stated that more than a thousand cart-loads of bones were removed to Finsbury Fields where they formed a large mount, on which three windmills were erected. From these Windmill Street in that neighbourhood derives its name. The ground on which the chapel stood was afterwards built over with dwellings and warehouses, having sheds before them for the use of stationers. Immediately to the north of St. Paul's School, and towards the spot where the churchyard looks into Cheapside, was a campanile, or bell-house; that is to say, a belfry, forming a distinct building from the cathedral, such as it is accustomed to be in Italy. It was by the ringing of this bell that the people were anciently called together to the general assemblage, called the Folkmote. The campanile was very high, and was won at dice from King Henry the Eighth by Sir Miles Partridge, who took it down and sold the materials. On the side of the cathedral directly the reverse of this (the south-west), and forming a part of the great pile of building, was the parish church of St. Gregory, over which was the Lollards' Tower, or prison, infamous, like its namesake at Lambeth, for the ill-treatment of heretics.

"This," says Brayley, on the authority of Fox's Martyrology, "was the scene of at least one 'foul and midnight murder,' perpetrated in 1514, on a respectable citizen, named Richard Hunne, by Dr. Horsey, chancellor of the diocese, with the assistance of a bell-ringer, and afterwards defended by the Bishop Fitz-James and the whole body of prelates, who protected the murderers from punishment, lest the clergy should become amenable to civil jurisdiction. Though the villains, through this interference, escaped without corporal suffering, the King ordered them to pay 1,500l. to the children of the deceased, in restitution of what he himself styles the 'cruel murder.'"[41]

The clergy, with almost incredible audacity, afterwards commenced a process against the dead body of Hunne for heresy; and, having obtained its condemnation, they actually burned it in Smithfield. The Lollards' Tower continued to be used as a prison for heretics for some time after the Reformation. Stow tells us that he recollected one Peter Burchet, a gentleman of the Middle Temple, being committed to this prison, on suspicion of holding certain erroneous opinions, in 1573. This, however, is, we believe, the last case of the kind that is recorded.


It remains to say a word of St. Paul's School, founded, as we have already mentioned, by Dean Colet, and destined to become the most illustrious of all the buildings on the spot, in giving education to Milton. We have dwelt more upon the localities of St. Paul's Churchyard than it is our intention to do on others. The dignity of the birth-place of the metropolis beguiled us; and the events recorded to have taken place in it are of real interest. Milton was not the only person of celebrity educated at this school. Bentley, his critic, was probably induced by the like circumstance to turn his unfortunate attention to the poet's epic in after life, and make those gratuitous massacres of the text, which give a profound scholar the air of the most presumptuous of coxcombs. Here also Camden received part of his education; and here were brought up, Leland, his brother antiquary, the Gales (Charles, Roger, and Samuel), all celebrated antiquaries; Sir Anthony Denny, the only man who had the courage and honesty to tell Henry the Eighth that he was dying; Halley, the astronomer; Bishop Cumberland, the great grandfather of the dramatist; Pepys, who has lately obtained so curious a celebrity, as an annalist of the court of Charles the Second; and last, not least, one in whom a learned education would be as little looked for as in Pepys, if we are to trust the stories of the times, to wit, John Duke of Marlborough. Barnes was laughed at for dedicating his Anacreon to the duke, as one to whom Greek was unheard of; and it has been related as a slur on the great general (though assuredly it is not so), that having alluded on some occasion to a passage in history, and being asked where he found it, he confessed that his authority was the only historian he was acquainted with, namely, William Shakspeare.

Less is known of Milton during the time he passed at St. Paul's School, than of any other period of his life. It is ascertained, however, that he cultivated the writing of Greek verses, and was a great favourite with the usher, afterwards master, Alexander Gill, himself a Latin poet of celebrity. At the back of the old church was an enormous rose-window, which we may imagine the young poet to have contemplated with delight, in his fondness for ornaments of that cast; and the whole building was calculated to impress a mind, more disposed, at that time of life, to admire as a poet, than to quarrel as a critic or a sectary. Gill, unluckily for himself, was not so catholic. Some say he was suspended from his 47 mastership for severity; a quality which he must have carried to a great pitch, for that age to find fault with it; but from an answer written by Ben Johnson to a fragment of a satire of Gill's, it is more likely he got into trouble for libels against the court. Aubrey says, that the old doctor, his father, was once obliged to go on his knees to get the young doctor pardoned, and that the offence consisted in his having written a letter, in which he designated King James and his son, as the "old foole and the young one." There are letters written in early life from Milton to Gill, full of regard and esteem; nor is it likely that the regard was diminished by Gill's petulance against the Court. In one of the letters, it is pleasant to hear the poet saying, "Farewell, and on Tuesday next expect me in London, among the booksellers."[42]

The parliamentary soldiers annoyed the inhabitants of the churchyard, by playing at nine-pins at unseasonable hours—a strange misdemeanour for that "church militant." They hastened also the destruction of the cathedral. Some scaffolding, set up for repairs, had been given them for arrears of pay. They dug pits in the body of the church to saw the timber in; and they removed the scaffolding with so little caution, that great part of the vaulting fell in, and lay a heap of ruins. The east end only, and a part of the choir continued to be used for public worship, a brick wall being raised to separate this portion from the rest of the building, and the congregation entering and getting out through one of the north windows. Another part of the church was converted into barracks and stables for the dragoons. As for Inigo Jones's lofty and beautiful portico, it was turned into "shops," says Maitland, "for milliners and others, with rooms over them for the convenience of lodging; at the erection of which the magnificent columns were piteously mangled, being obliged to make way for the ends of beams, which penetrated their centres."[43] The statues on the top were thrown down and broken to pieces.

We have noticed the lucky necessity for a new church, occasioned by the Great Fire. An attempt was at first made 48 to repair the old building—the work, as we have already mentioned, being committed to the charge of Sir John Denham (the poet), his Majesty's surveyor-general. But it was eventually found necessary to commence a new edifice from the foundation. Sir Christopher Wren, who accomplished this task, had been before employed in superintending the repairs, and was appointed head surveyor of the works in 1669, on the demise of Denham. Unfortunately, he had great and ungenerous trouble given him in the erection of the new structure; and, after all, he did not build it as he wished. His taste was not understood, either by court or clergy; he was envied (and towards the close of his life ousted) by inferior workmen; was forced to make use of two orders instead of one, that is to say, to divide the sides and front into two separate elevations, instead of running them up and dignifying them with pillars of the whole height; and during the whole work, which occupied a great many years, and took up a considerable and anxious portion of his time, not unattended with personal hazard, all the pay which he was then, or ever to expect, was a pittance of two hundred a-year. A moiety of this driblet was for some time actually suspended, till the building should be finished; and for the arrears of it he was forced to petition the government of Queen Anne, and then only obtained them under circumstances of the most unhandsome delay. Wren, however, was a philosopher and a patriot; and if he underwent the mortification attendent on philosophers and patriots, for offending the self-love of the shallow, he knew how to act up to the spirit of those venerable names, in the interior of a mind as elevated and well-composed as his own architecture. Some pangs he felt, because he was a man of humanity, and could not disdain his fellow-creatures; but he was more troubled for the losses of the art than his own. He is said actually to have shed tears when compelled to deform his cathedral with the side aisles—some say in compliance with the will of the Duke of York, afterwards James the Second, who anticipated the use of them for the restoration of the old Catholic chapels. Money he despised, except for the demands of his family, consenting to receive a hundred a-year for rebuilding such of the city churches (a considerable number) as were destroyed by the fire! And when finally ousted from his office of surveyor-general, he said with the ancient sage, "Well, I must philosophise a little sooner than I intended." (Nunc me jubet fortuna expeditius 49 philosophari). The Duchess of Marlborough, in resisting the claims of one of her Blenheim surveyors, said, "that Sir C. Wren was content to be dragged up in a basket three times a-week to the top of St. Paul's, at a great hazard, for 200l. a-year." But, as a writer of his life has remarked, she was perhaps "little capable of drawing any nice distinction between the feelings of the hired surveyor of Blenheim, and those of our architect, in the contemplation of the rising of the fabric which his vast genius was calling into existence: her notions led her to estimate the matter by the simple process of the rule of three direct; and on this principle she had good reason to complain of the surveyor."[44] The same writer tells us, that Wren's principal enjoyment during the remainder of his life, consisted in his being "carried once a year to see his great work;" "the beginning and completion of which," observes Walpole, "was an event which, one could not wonder, left such an impression of content on the mind of the good old man, that it seemed to recall a memory almost deadened to every other use." The epitaph upon him by his son, which Mr. Mylne, the architect of Blackfriars' bridge, caused to be rescued from the vaults underneath the church, where it was ludicrously inapplicable, and placed in gold letters over the choir, has a real sublimity in it, though defaced by one of those plays upon words, which were the taste of the times in the architect's youth, and which his family perhaps had learnt to admire.

Subtus conditur

Hujus ecclesiæ et urbis conditor

Ch. Wren,

Qui vixit annos ultra nonaginta,

Non sibi sed bono publico.

Lector, si monumentum requiris,


We cannot preserve the pun in English, unless, perhaps, by some such rendering as, "Here found a grave the founder of this church;" or "Underneath is founded the tomb," &c. The rest is admirable:

"Who lived to the age of upwards of ninety years,

Not for himself, but for the public good.

Reader, if thou seekest his monument,

Look around."

The reader does look around, and the whole interior of the 50 cathedral, which is finer than the outside, seems like a magnificent vault over his single body. The effect is very grand, especially if the organ is playing. A similar one, as far as the music is concerned, is observable when we contemplate the statues of Nelson and others. The grand repose of the church, in the first instance, gives them a mortal dignity, which the organ seems to waken up and revive, as if in the midst of the

"Pomp and threatening harmony,"[45]

their spirits almost looked out of their stony and sightless eyeballs. Johnson's ponderous figure looks down upon us with something of sourness in the expression; and in the presence of Howard we feel as if pomp itself were in attendance on humanity. It is a pity that the sculpture of the monuments in general is not worthy of these emotions, and tends to undo them.

A poor statue of Queen Anne, in whose reign the church was finished, stands in the middle of the front area, with the figures of Britain, France, Ireland, and America, round the base. Garth, who was a Whig, and angry with the councils which had dismissed his hero Marlborough, wrote some bitter lines upon it, which must have had double effect, coming from so good-natured a man.

Near the vast bulk of that stupendous frame,

Known by the Gentiles' great apostle's name,

With grace divine great Anna's seen to rise,

An awful form that glads a nation's eyes:

Beneath her feet four mighty realms appear,

And with due reverence pay their homage there.

Britain and Ireland seem to own her grace,

And e'en wild India wears a smiling face.

But France alone with downcast eyes is seen,

The sad attendant on so good a queen.

Ungrateful country! to forget so soon

All that great Anna for thy sake has done,

When sworn the kind defender of thy cause,

Spite of her dear religion, spite of laws,

For thee she sheath'd the terrors of her sword,

For thee she broke her gen'ral—and her word:

For thee her mind in doubtful terms she told,

And learn'd to speak like oracles of old:

For thee, for thee alone, what could she more?

She lost the honour she had gain'd before;

Lost all the trophies which her arms had won,

(Such Cæsar never knew, nor Philip's son;)


Resign'd the glories of a ten years' reign,

And such as none but Marlborough's arm could gain:

For thee in annals she's content to shine,

Like other monarchs of the Stuart line.

Many irreverent remarks were also made by the coarser wits of the day, in reference to the position of her Majesty, with her back to the church and her face to a brandy shop, which was then kept in that part of the churchyard. The calumny was worthy of the coarseness. Anne, who was not a very clever woman, had a difficult task to perform; and though we differ with her politics, we cannot, even at this distance of time, help expressing our disgust at personalities like these, especially against a female.

Paul's Cross



The Church of St. Faith—Booksellers of the Churchyard—Mr. Johnson's—Mr. Newberry's—Children's Books—Clerical Names of Streets near St. Paul's—Swift at the top of the Cathedral—Dr. Johnson at St. Paul's—Paternoster Row—Panyer's Alley—Stationers' Hall—Almanacks—Knight-Riders' Street—Armed Assemblies of the Citizens—Doctor's Commons—The Heralds' College—Coats of Arms—Ludgate—Story of Sir Stephen Forster—Prison of Ludgate—Wyatt's Rebellion—The Belle Sauvage Inn—Blackfriars—Shakspeare's Theatre—Accident at Blackfriars in 1623—Printing House Square—The Times—Baynard's Castle—Story of the Baron Fitzwalter—Richard III. and Buckingham—Diana's Chamber—The Royal Wardrobe—Marriages in the Fleet—Fleet Ditch—The Dunciad.


We remember, in our boyhood, a romantic story of a church that stood under St. Paul's. We conceived of it, as of a real good-sized church actually standing under the other; but how it came there nobody could imagine. It was some ghostly edification of providence, not lightly to be inquired into; but as its name was St. Faith's, we conjectured that the mystery had something to do with religious belief. The mysteries of art do not remain with us for life, like those of Nature. Our phenomenon amounted to this:

"The church of St. Faith," says Brayley, "was originally a distinct building, standing near the east end of St. Paul's; but when the old cathedral was enlarged, between the years 1256 and 1312, it was taken down, and an extensive part of the vaults was appropriated to the use of the parishioners of St. Faith's, in lieu of the demolished fabric. This was afterwards called the church of St. Faith in the Crypts (Ecclesia Sanctæ Fidei in Cryptis) and, according to a representation made to the Dean and Chapter, in the year 1735, it measured 180 feet in length, and 80 in breadth. After the fire of London, the parish of St. Faith was joined to that of St. Augustine; and on the rebuilding of the cathedral, a portion of the churchyard belonging to the former was taken to enlarge the avenue round the east end of St. Paul's, and the remainder was inclosed within the cathedral railing."[46]

The parishioners of St. Faith have still liberty to bury their dead in certain parts of the churchyard and the Crypts. 53 Other portions of the latter have been used as storehouses for wine, stationery, &c. The stationers and booksellers of London, during the fire, thought they had secured a great quantity of their stock in this place; but on the air being admitted when they went to take them out, the goods had been so heated by the conflagration of the church overhead, that they took fire at last, and the whole property was destroyed. Clarendon says it amounted to the value of two hundred thousand pounds.[47]

One of the houses on the site of the old episcopal mansion, now converted into premises occupied by Mr. Hitchcock the linendraper, was Mr. Johnson's the bookseller—a man who deserves mention for his liberality to Cowper, and for the remarkable circumstance of his never having seen the poet, though his intercourse with him was long and cordial. Mr. Johnson was in connection with a circle of men of letters, some of whom were in the habit of dining with him once a week, and who comprised the leading polite writers of the generation—Cowper, Darwin, Hayley, Dr. Aikin, Mrs. Barbauld, Godwin, &c. Fuseli must not be omitted, who was at least as good a writer as a painter. Here Bonnycastle hung his long face over his plate, as glad to escape from arithmetic into his jokes and his social dinner as a great boy; and here Wordsworth, and we believe Coleridge, published their earliest performances. At all events they both visited at the house.

But the most illustrious of all booksellers in our boyish days, not for his great names, not for his dinners, not for his riches that we know of, nor for any other full-grown celebrity, but for certain little penny books, radiant with gold and rich with bad pictures, was Mr. Newberry, the famous children's bookseller, "at the corner of St. Paul's churchyard," next Ludgate Street. The house is still occupied by a successor, and children may have books there as formerly—but not the same. The gilding, we confess, we regret: gold, somehow, never looked so well as in adorning literature. The pictures also—may we own that we preferred the uncouth coats, the staring blotted eyes, and round pieces of rope for hats, of our very badly drawn contemporaries, to all the proprieties of modern embellishment? We own the superiority of the latter, and would have it proceed and prosper; but a boy of our own time was much, though his 54 coat looked like his grandfather's. The engravings probably were of that date. Enormous, however, is the improvement upon the morals of these little books; and there we give them up, and with unmitigated delight. The good little boy, the hero of the infant literature in those days, stood, it must be acknowledged, the chance of being a very selfish man. His virtue consisted in being different from some other little boy, perhaps his brother; and his reward was having a fine coach to ride in, and being a King Pepin. Now-a-days, since the world has had a great moral earthquake that set it thinking, the little boy promises to be much more of a man; thinks of others, as well as works for himself; and looks for his reward to a character for good sense and beneficence. In no respect is the progress of the age more visible, or more importantly so, than in this apparently trifling matter. The most bigoted opponents of a rational education are obliged to adopt a portion of its spirit, in order to retain a hold which their own teaching must accordingly undo: and if the times were not full of hopes in other respects, we should point to this evidence of their advancement, and be content with it.

One of the most pernicious mistakes of the old children's books, was the inculcation of a spirit of revenge and cruelty in the tragic examples which were intended to deter their readers from idleness and disobedience. One, if he did not behave himself, was to be shipwrecked, and eaten by lions; another to become a criminal, who was not to be taught better, but rendered a mere wicked contrast to the luckier virtue; and, above all, none were to be poor but the vicious, and none to ride in their coaches but little Sir Charles Grandisons, and all-perfect Sheriffs. We need not say how contrary this was to the real spirit of Christianity, which, at the same time, they so much insisted on. The perplexity in after life, when reading of poor philosophers and rich vicious men, was in proportion; or rather virtue and mere worldly success became confounded. In the present day, the profitableness of good conduct is still inculcated, but in a sounder spirit. Charity makes the proper allowance for all; and none are excluded from the hope of being wiser and happier. Men, in short are not taught to love and labour for themselves alone or for their little dark corners of egotism; but to take the world along with them into a brighter sky of improvement; and to discern the want of success in success itself, if not accompanied by a liberal knowledge. 55

The Seven Champions of Christendom, Valentine and Orson, and other books of the fictitious class, which have survived their more rational brethren (as the latter thought themselves), are of a much better order, and, indeed, survive by a natural instinct in society to that effect. With many absurdities, they have a general tone of manly and social virtue, which may be safely left to itself. The absurdities wear out and the good remains. Nobody in these times will think of meeting giants and dragons; of giving blows that confound an army, or tearing the hearts out of two lions on each side of him, as easily as if he were dipping his hands into a lottery. But there are still giants and wild beasts to encounter, of another sort, the conquest of which requires the old enthusiasm and disinterestedness; arms and war are to be checked in their career, and have been so, by that new might of opinion to which every body may contribute much in his single voice; and wild men, or those who would become so, are tamed, by education and brotherly kindness, into ornaments of civil life.

The neighbourhood of St. Paul's retains a variety of appellations indicative of its former connection with the church. There is Creed Lane, Ave-Maria Lane, Sermon Lane[48], Canon Alley, Pater-Noster Row, Holiday Court, Amen Corner, &c. Members of the Cathedral establishment still have abodes in some of these places, particularly in Amen Corner, which is enclosed with gates, and appropriated to the houses of prebendaries and canons. Close to Sermon Lane is Do-little Lane; a vicinity which must have furnished jokes to the Puritans. Addle Street is an ungrateful corruption of Athelstan Street, so called from one of the most respectable of the Saxon kings, who had a palace in it.

We have omitted to notice a curious passage in Swift, in which he abuses himself for going to the top of St. Paul's. "To-day," says he, writing to Stella, "I was all about St. Paul's, and up at the top like a fool, with Sir Andrew Fountain, and two more; and spent seven shillings for my dinner, like a puppy." "This," adds the doctor, "is the 56 second time he has served me so: but I will never do it again, though all mankind should persuade me—unconsidering puppies!"[49] The being forced by richer people than one's self to spend money at a tavern might reasonably be lamented; but from the top of St. Paul's Swift beheld a spectacle, which surely was not unworthy of his attention; perhaps it affected him too much. The author of Gulliver might have taken from it his notions of little bustling humankind.

Dr. Johnson frequently attended public worship in St. Paul's. Very different must his look have been, in turning into the chancel, from the threatening and trampling aspect they have given him in his statue. We do not quarrel with his aspect; there is a great deal of character in it. But the contrast, considering the place, is curious. A little before his death, when bodily decay made him less patient than ever of contradiction, he instituted a club at the Queen's Arms, in St. Paul's Churchyard. "He told Mr. Hook," says Boswell, "That he wished to have a City Club, and asked him to collect one; but, said he, don't let them be patriots."[50] (This was an allusion to the friends of his acquaintance Wilkes.) Boswell accompanied him one day to the club, and found the members "very sensible well-behaved men:" that is to say Hook had collected a body of decent listeners. This, however, is melancholy. In the next chapter we shall see Johnson in all his glory.

St. Paul's Churchyard appears as if it were only a great commercial thoroughfare; but if all the clergy could be seen at once, who have abodes in the neighbourhood, they would be found to constitute a numerous body. If to the sable coats of these gentlemen be added those of the practisers of the civil law, who were formerly allied to them, and who live in Doctors' Commons, the churchyard increases the clerkly part of its aspect. It resumes, to the imagination, something of the learned and collegiate look it had of old. Paternoster Row is said to have been so called on account of the number of Stationers or Text-writers that dwelt there, who dealt much in religious books, and sold horn-books, or A B C's, with the Paternoster, Ave-Maria, Creed, Graces, &c. And so of the other places above-named. But it is more likely that this particular street (as indeed we are told) was 57 named from the rosary or paternoster-makers; for so they were called, as appears by a record of "one Robert Nikke, a paternoster-maker and citizen, in the reign of Henry the Fourth."

It is curious to reflect what a change has taken place in this celebrated book-street, since nothing was sold there but rosaries. It is but rarely the word Paternoster-Row strikes us as having a reference to the Latin Prayer. We think of booksellers' shops, and of all the learning and knowledge they have sent forth. The books of Luther, which Henry the Eighth burnt in the neighbouring churchyard, were turned into millions of volumes, partly by reason of that burning.

Paternoster-Row, however, has not been exclusively in possession of the booksellers, since it lost its original tenants, the rosary-makers. Indeed it would appear to have been only in comparatively recent times that the booksellers fixed themselves there. They had for a long while been established in St. Paul's Churchyard, but scarcely in the Row, till after the commencement of the last century.

"This street," says Maitland, writing in 1720, "before the fire of London, was taken up by eminent mercers, silkmen, and lacemen; and their shops were so resorted unto by the nobility and gentry in their coaches, that ofttimes the street was so stopped up, that there was no passage for foot passengers. But since the said fire, those eminent tradesmen have settled themselves in several other parts; especially in Ludgate Street, and in Bedford Street, Henrietta Street, and King Street, Covent Garden. And the inhabitants in this street are now a mixture of tradespeople, such as tire-women, or milliners, for the sale of top-knots, and the like dressings for the females."

In a subsequent edition of his history, published in 1755, it is added, "There are now many shops of mercers, silkmen, eminent printers, booksellers, and publishers."[51] The most easterly of the narrow and partly covered passages between Newgate Street and Paternoster Row is that called Panyer's Alley, remarkable for a stone built into the wall of one of the houses on the east side, supporting the figures of a pannier or wicker basket, surmounted by a boy, and exhibiting the following inscription:—

"When you have sought the city round,

Yet still this is the highest ground."

We cannot say if absolute faith is to be put in this asseveration; but it is possible. It has been said that the top of St. Paul's is on a level with that of Hampstead.


We look back a moment between Paternoster Row and the churchyard, to observe, that the only memorial remaining of the residence of the Bishop of London is a tablet in London-House Yard, let into the wall of the public house called the Goose and Gridiron. The Goose and Gridiron is said by tradition to have been what was called in the last century a "music house;" that is to say, a place of entertainment with music. When it ceased to be musical, a landlord, in ridicule of its former pretensions, chose for his sign "a goose stroking the bars of a gridiron with his foot," and called it the Swan and Harp.[52]

Between Amen Corner and Ludgate Street, at the end of a passage from Ave-Maria Lane, "stood a great house of stone and wood, belonging in old time to John, Duke of Bretagne, and Earl of Richmond, cotemporary with Edward II. and III. After him it was possessed by the Earls of Pembroke, in the time of Richard II. and Henry IV., and was called Pembroke's Inn, near Ludgate. It then fell into the possession of the title of Abergavenny, and was called Burgavenny House, under which circumstances it remained in the time of Elizabeth. To finish the anti-climax," says Pennant, "it was finally possessed by the Company of Stationers, who rebuilt it of wood, and made it their Hall. It was destroyed by the Great Fire, and was succeeded by the present plain building."[53] Of the once-powerful possessors of the old mansion nothing now is remembered, or cared for; but in the interior of the modern building are to be seen, looking almost as if they were alive, and as if we knew them personally, the immortal faces of Steele and Richardson, Prior in his cap, and Dr. Hoadley, a liberal bishop. There is also Mrs. Richardson, the wife of the novelist, looking as prim and particular as if she had been just chucked under the chin; and Robert Nelson, Esq., supposed author of the Whole Duty of Man, and prototype of Sir Charles Grandison, as regular and passionless in his face as if he had been made only to wear his wig. The same is not to be said of the face of Steele, with his black eyes and social aspect; and still less of Richardson, who, instead of being the smooth, satisfied-looking personage he is represented in some engravings of him (which makes his heartrending romance appear unaccountable and 59 cruel), has a face as uneasy as can well be conceived—flushed and shattered with emotion. We recognise the sensitive, enduring man, such as he really was—a heap of bad nerves. It is worth anybody's while to go to Stationers' Hall, on purpose to see these portraits. They are not of the first order as portraits, but evident likenesses. Hoadley looks at once jovial and decided, like a good-natured controversialist. Prior is not so pleasant as in his prints; his nose is a little aquiline, instead of turned up; and his features, though delicate, not so liberal. But if he has not the best look of his poetry, he has the worst. He seems as if he had been sitting up all night; his eyelids droop: and his whole face is used with rakery.

It is impossible to see Prior and Steele together, without regretting that they quarrelled: but as they did quarrel, it was fit that Prior should be in the wrong. From a Whig he had become a Tory, and showed that his change was not quite what it ought to have been, by avoiding the men with whom he had associated, and writing contemptuously of his fellow wits. All the men of letters, whose portraits are in this hall, were, doubtless, intimate with the premises, and partakers of Stationers' dinners. Richardson was Master of the Company. Morphew, a bookseller in the neighbourhood, was one of the publishers of the Tatler; and concerts as well as festive dinners used to take place in the great room, of both of which entertainments Steele was fond. It was here, if we mistake not, that one of the inferior officers of the Company, a humourist on sufferance, came in, one day, on his knees, at an anniversary dinner when Bishop Hoadley was present, in order to drink to the "Glorious Memory."[54] The company, Steele included, were pretty far gone; Hoadley had remained as long as he well could; and the genuflector was drunk. Steele, seeing the Bishop a little disconcerted, whispered him, "Do laugh, my lord; pray laugh:—'tis humanity to laugh." The good-natured prelate acquiesced. Next day, Steele sent him a penitential letter, with the following couplet:—

Virtue with so much ease on Bangor sits,

All faults he pardons, though he none commits.

The most illustrious musical performance that ever took place in the hall was that of Dryden's Ode. A society for the annual commemoration of St. Cecilia, the patroness of music, 60 was instituted in the year 1680, not without an eye perhaps to the religious opinions of the heir presumptive who was shortly to ascend the throne as James the Second. An ode was written every year for the occasion, and set to music by some eminent composer; and the performance of it was followed by a grand dinner. In 1687, Dryden contributed his first ode, entitled, "A Song for Saint Cecilia's Day," in which there are finer things than in any part of the other, though as a whole it is not so striking. Ten years afterwards it was followed by "Alexander's Feast," the dinner, perhaps, being a part of the inspiration. Poor Jeremiah Clarke, who shot himself for love, was the composer.[55] This is the ode with the composition of which Bolingbroke is said to have found Dryden in a state of emotion one morning, the whole night having been passed, agitante deo, under the fever of inspiration.

From Stationers' Hall once issued all the almanacks that were published, with all the trash and superstition they kept alive. Francis Moore is still among their "living dead men." Francis must now be a posthumous old gentleman, of at least one hundred and fifty years of age. The first blunder the writers of these books committed, in their cunning, was the having to do with the state of the weather; their next was to think that the grandmothers of the last century were as immortal as their title-pages, and that nobody was getting wiser than themselves. The mysterious solemnity of their hieroglyphics, bringing heaven and earth together, like a vision in the Apocalypse, was imposing to the nurse and the child; and the bashfulness of their bodily sympathies no less attractive. We remember the astonishment of a worthy seaman, some years ago, at the claim which they put into 61 the mouth of the sign Virgo. The monopoly is now gone; almanacks have been forced into improvement by emulation; and the Stationers (naturally enough at the moment) are angry about it. This fit of ill humour will pass; and a body of men, interested by their very trade in the progress of liberal knowledge, will by and by join the laugh at the tenderness they evinced in behalf of old wives' fables. It is observable, that their friend Bickerstaff (Steele's assumed name in the Tatler) was the first to begin the joke against them.

Knight-Riders' Street (Great and Little), on the south side of St. Paul's Churchyard, is said to have been named from the processions of Knights from the Tower to their place of tournament in Smithfield. It must have been a round-about way. Probably the name originated in nothing more than a sign, or from some reference to the Heralds' College in the neighbourhood. The open space, we may here notice, around the western extremity of the Cathedral, was anciently used by the citizens for assembling together "to make shew of their arms," or to hold what was called among the Scotch "a weapon shaw." A complaint was made by the Lord Mayor and the Ward, in the reign of Edward I., against the Dean and Chapter for having inclosed this ground, which they insisted was "the soil and lay-fee of our lord the King," by a mud wall, and covered part of it with buildings.[56] The houses immediately to the west of Creed Lane and Ave-Maria Lane probably occupy part of the space in question.

Behind Great Knight-Riders' Street is Doctors' Commons, so called from the Doctors of Civil Law who dined together four days in each term. The Court of Admiralty is also there. The Admiralty judge is preceded by an officer with a silver oar. There is something pleasing in the parade of a civil officer, thus announced by a symbol representing the regulation of the most turbulent of elements.

The civil and ecclesiastical lawyers, who connect the law with the church, had formerly much more to do than they have at present. The proctors (or attorneys) are said to have been so numerous and so noisy in the time of Henry VII., that the judge sometimes could not be heard for them. They thrust themselves into causes without the parties' consent, and shouldered the advocates out of their business. The diminution of their body was owing to Cranmer. Doctors' Commons are of painful celebrity in the annals of domestic trouble. 62 We have hardly perhaps among us a remnant of greater barbarism than "an action for damages,"[57] whether considered with a view to recompense or prevention. Doctors' Commons bind as well as set loose. "Hence originates," says the facetious Mr. Malcolm, "the awful scrap of parchment, bearing the talismanic mark of John Cantuar (the Archbishop of Canterbury), which constitutes thousands of Benedicts the happiest or most miserable of married men: in short, it is the grand lottery of life, in which, fortunately, there are far more prizes than blanks."[58] The community ought to be thankful to Mr. Malcolm for this last piece of information, as there is a splenetic notion among them to the contrary.

A history deeply interesting to human nature might be drawn up from the documents preserved in this place; for besides cases of personal infidelity, here are to be found others of infidelity religious, of blasphemy, simony, &c., together with romantic questions relative to kindred and succession; and here are deposited those last specimens of human strength or weakness—last wills and testaments, together with cases in which they have been contested. It was these records that furnished us with accounts of the latest days of Milton; and that set the readers of Shakspeare speculating why he should make no mention of his wife, except to leave her his "second best bed;"—a question most unexpectedly as well as happily cleared up by Mr. Charles Knight, who shows that the bequest was to the lady's honour. Of the practisers in the civil courts, we can call to mind nothing more worthy of recollection than the strange name of one of them, "Sir Julius Cæsar," and the ruinous volatility of poor Dr. King, the Tory wit, who is conjectured to have been the only civilian that ever went to reside in Ireland, "after having experienced the emoluments of a settlement in Doctors' Commons." The doctor unfortunately practised too much with the bottle, which hindered him from adhering long to anything.

Behind Little Knight-Riders' Street, to the east of Doctors' Commons, is the Heralds' College. A gorgeous idea of colours falls on the mind in passing it, as from a cathedral window,

"And shielded scutcheons blush with blood of queens and kings."


63 The passenger, if he is a reader conversant with old times, thinks of bannered halls, of processions of chivalry, and of the fields of Cressy and Poictiers, with their vizored knights, distinguished by their coats and crests; for a coat of arms is nothing but a representation of the knight himself, from whom the bearer is descended. The shield supposes his body; there is the helmet for his head, with the crest upon it; the flourish is his mantle; and he stands upon the ground of his motto, or moral pretension. The supporters, if he is noble, or of a particular class of knighthood, are thought to be the pages that waited upon him, designated by the fantastic dresses of bear, lion, &c., which they sometimes wore. Heraldry is full of colour and imagery, and attracts the fancy like a "book of pictures." The Kings at Arms are romantic personages, really crowned, and have as mystic appellations as the kings of an old tale—Garter, Clarencieux, and Norroy. Norroy is King of the North, and Clarencieux (a title of Norman origin) of the South. The heralds, Lancaster, Somerset, &c., have simpler names, indicative of the counties over which they preside; but are only less gorgeously dressed than the kings, in emblazonment and satin; and then there are the four pursuivants, Rouge Croix, Rouge Dragon, Portcullis, and Blue Mantle, with hues as lively, and appellations as quaint, as the attendants on a fairy court. For gorgeousness of attire, mysteriousness of origin, and in fact for similarity of origin (a knave being a squire), a knave of cards is not unlike a herald. A story is told of an Irish King at Arms,[59] who, waiting upon the Bishop of Killaloe to summon him to Parliament, and being dressed, as the ceremony required, in his heraldic attire, so mystified the bishop's servant with his appearance, that not knowing what to make of it, and carrying off but a confused notion of his title, he announced him thus: "My lord, here is the King of Trumps."

Mr. Pennant says, that the Heralds' College "is a foundation of great antiquity, in which the records are kept of all the old blood in the kingdom." But this is a mistake. Heralds, indeed, are of great antiquity, in the sense of messengers of peace and war; but in the modern sense, they are no older than the reign of Edward III., and were not incorporated before that of the usurper Richard. The house which they formerly occupied was a mansion of the Earls of Derby. It 64 was burnt in the Great Fire, and succeeded by the present building, part of which was raised at the expense of some of their officers. As to their keeping records of "all the old blood in the kingdom," they may keep them, or not, as they have the luck to find them; but the blood was old, before they had anything to do with it. Men bore arms and crests when there were no officers to register them. This, as a writer in the Censura Literaria observes, justly diminishes the pretension they set up, that no arms are of authority which have not been registered among their archives.

"If this doctrine," says he, "were just, the consequence would be, that arms of comparatively modern invention are of better authority than those which a man and his ancestors have borne from times before the existence of the College of Arms, and for time immemorial, supported by the evidence of ancient seals, funeral monuments, and other authentic documents. Surely this is grossly absurd; and the more absurd, if we consider that the heralds seem originally not to have been instituted for the manufacturing of armorial ensigns, but for the recording those ensigns which had been borne by men of honourable lineage, and which might, therefore, be borne by their posterity. Perhaps it would not be too much to presume, that it will be found on inquiry, that there are no grants of arms by the English Heralds of any very high antiquity; and that the most ancient which can be produced, either in the original or in well-authenticated copies, are of a date when the general use of seals of arms, circumscribed with the names and titles of the bearers, was wearing away."[60]

We learn from the same writer, that the value of "a painted shield of parchment" is fifty pounds. Of the spirit in which these things have been done, the reader may judge from a letter written by an applicant to one of the most respectable names in the college list. His object was to get the illegitimate coat of a female friend changed to one by which it was to appear she was not illegitimate. He offers five pounds for it; and adds, that there is another friend of his, "an alderman's son, in Chester, whose great-grandfather was baseborn, whom I have bine treating with severall tymes about the alteration of his coat, telling him for 10li and not under, it may be accomplished; five he is willing to give, but not above; if you please to accept of that sume, you may writt me a line or two. I desire that you will send the scroll down again, as soon as you can."[61]


The truth is, that, except as far as their records go, and as they can be turned to account in questions of kindred and inheritance, the heralds are of no importance in modern times. Nor have they anything to do with the spirit and first principles of the devices, of which they assume the direction. We think this is worth notice, because heraldry itself, or at least the discussion of coats of arms, of which most people are observed to be fonder than they choose to confess, might be reconciled to the progress of knowledge, or made, at any rate, the ground of a pleasing and not ungraceful novelty. To a coat of arms no man, literally speaking, has pretensions, who is not the representative of somebody that bore arms in the old English wars; but when the necessity for military virtue decreased, arms gave way to the gown; and shields had honourable, but fantastic augmentations, for the peaceful triumphs of lawyers and statesmen. Meanwhile commerce was on the increase, and there came up a new power in the shape of pounds, shillings, and pence, which was to be represented also by its coat of arms; how absurdly, need not be added: though the individuals who got their lions and their shields behind the counter, were often excellent men, who might have cut as great a figure in battle as the best, had they lived in other times. At length, not to have a military coat was to be no gentleman; and then the heralds fairly sold achievements at so much the head. They received their fees, put on their spectacles, turned over their books like astrologers, and found that you were deserving of a bear's paw, or might clap three puppies on your coach. "Congreve," says Swift, in one of his letters to Stella, "gave me a Tatler he had written out, as blind as he is, for little Harrison. 'Tis about a scoundrel that was grown rich, and went and bought a coat of arms at the heralds', and a set of ancestors at Fleet Ditch." And this is the case at present. Numbers of persons do not, however, stand on this ceremony with the heralds. Many are content to receive their exploits, at half-a-guinea the set, from pretenders who undertake to "procure arms;" and many more assume the arms nearest to their name and family, or invent them at once; naturally enough concluding, that they might as well achieve their own glories, as buy them of an old gentleman or a pedlar.

Now arms were not originally given; they were assumed. Men in battle, when armies fought pell-mell, and bodily prowess was more in request than it is now, wished to have 66 their persons distinguished; and accordingly they put a device on their shield, or some towering symbol on their helmet. This at once served to mark out the bearer, and to express the particular sentiment or alliance upon which he was to be understood as priding himself. The real spirit of heraldry consisted, therefore, and must always consist, in distinguishing one person from another, and in expressing his individual sentiments; and as the adoption of some device is both an elegant exercise of the fancy, and acts as a kind of memento to the conscience, tending to keep us to what we profess, people who have no certain arms of their own, or who do not care for them if they have, might not ungracefully or even uselessly entertain themselves with doing, in their own persons, what the old assumers of arms did in theirs; that is to say, invent their own distinctions. The emblazonment might amuse their fancies, and be put in books, or elsewhere, like other coats of arms; and a little difference in the mode of it could easily set aside the interference of the heralds. People might thus express their views in life, or their particular tastes and opinions; and the "science of heraldry," which has been so much laughed at, not always with justice, be made to accord with the progress of knowledge—or, at all events, with the entertaining part of it.

As to coats of arms really ancient, or connected with old virtue, or with modern, we have already shown that we are far from pretending to despise anything which indulges the natural desire of mortality to extend or to elevate its sense of existence. We have no respect for shields of no meaning, or for bearers of better shields that disgrace them; but we do not profess to look without interest on very old shields, if only for the sake of their antiquity, much less when they are associated with names,

Familiar in our mouths as household words.

The lions and stags, &c., of the Howards and Herberts, of the Cavendishes, Russells, and Spencers, affect us more than those of Cuvier himself, especially when we recollect they were borne by great writers as well as warriors, men who advanced not only themselves but their species in dignity. The most interesting coats of arms, next to those which unite antiquity with ability (that is to say, duration backward with duration and utility in prospect), are such as become ennobled by genius, or present us with some pleasing device. Such is the spear of Shakspeare, whose ancestors are thought to have 67 won it in Bosworth field;[62] the spread eagle of Milton—a proper epic device; the flower given to Linnæus for a device when he was ennobled; the philosophical motto of the great Bacon, Mediocria firma (Mediocre things firm—the Golden Mean); the modest, yet self-respecting one, first used, we believe, by Sir Philip Sydney, Vix ea nostra voco (I scarcely call these things one's own); and those other mottoes, taken from favourite classics, which argue more taste than antiquity. We are not sorry, however, for mere antiquity's sake, to recognise the ship of the Campbells; the crowned heart (a beautiful device) of Douglas; and even the checquers of the unfortunate family of the Stuarts. They tell us of names and connections, and call to mind striking events in history. Indeed, all ancient names naturally become associated with history and poetry. The most interesting coat in Scottish heraldry, if we are to believe tradition, is that of Hay, Earl of Errol; whose ancestors, a couple of peasants, with their father, rallied an army of their countrymen in a narrow pass, and led them back victoriously against the Danes. Two peasants are the supporters of the shield. But unquestionably the most interesting sight in the whole circle of heraldry, British or foreign, if we consider the rational popularity of its origin, and the immense advance it records in the progress of what is truly noble, is that of the plain English motto assumed by Lord Erskine, Trial by Jury. The devices of the Nelsons and Wellingtons, illustrious as they are, are nothing to this; for the world might relapse into barbarism, as it has formerly done, notwithstanding the exploits of the greatest warriors; but words like these are trophies of the experience of ages, and the world could not pass them, and go back again, for very shame. It is the fashion now-a-days to have painted windows; and a very beautiful fashion it is, and extremely worthy of encouragement in this climate, where the general absence of colours renders it desirable that they should be collected wherever they can, so as to increase a feeling of cheerfulness and warmth. When the sun strikes through a painted window, 68 it seems as if Heaven itself were recommending to us the brilliance with which it has painted its flowers and its skies. It is a pity we have no devices invented for themselves by the great men of past times, otherwise what an illustrious window would they make! We should like to have presented the reader with such of the escutcheons above mentioned as have been created or modified in some respect by their ennoblers; and to have shown him how different the old parts now appear, with which the individuals had nothing to do, compared with those of their own achievement, or adoption, even when nothing better than a motto. Sir Philip's motto almost rejects his coat.[63] If all persons, ambitious of good conduct and opinions, were to adopt our suggestion, and assume a device of their own, windows of this kind might abound among friends; and many of them would become as interesting to posterity, as such "coats of arms" would, above all others, deserve to be.

The most eminent names in the Heralds' College are Camden, the great antiquary; Dugdale (whose merits, however, are questionable); King, a writer on political arithmetic; and Vanbrugh, the comic writer, who wore a tabard for a short time, as Clarencieux. Gibbon had an ancestor, a herald, who took great interest in the profession. He had another progenitor, who, about the reign of James the First, changed the scallop shells of the historian's coat "into three ogresses or female cannibals, with a design of stigmatising three ladies, his kinswomen, who had provoked him by an unjust lawsuit."[64] A good account of heraldry, its antiquities and its freaks, is a desideratum, and would make a very amusing book.


We move westward from St. Paul's, because, though the metropolis abounds with interest in every part of it, yet the course this way is the most generally known; and readers may choose to hear of the most popular thoroughfares first. 69 The origin of the word Ludgate is not known. The old opinion respecting King Lud has been rejected, and some think it is the same word as Flud or Fludgate, meaning the Gate on the Fleet, Floet, or Flood, F being dropt, as in leer for Fleer, Lloyd for Floyd or Fluyd, &c. It may be so; but it is not easy to see, in that case, why Fleet Street should not have been called Lud Street. Perhaps the old tradition is right, and some ancient Lud, or Lloyd, was the builder of an "old original" gate, whether king or not. Its successor (which formerly crossed the street by St. Martin's church), was no older than the reign of King John. It was rebuilt in 1586, and finally removed in 1760. Pennant says, he remembered it "a wretched prison for debtors." The old chroniclers tell us a romantic story of a lord-mayor, Sir Stephen Forster, who enlarged this prison, and added a chapel to it. He had been confined in it himself, and, begging at the grate, was asked by a rich widow what sum would purchase his liberty. He said, twenty pounds. She paid it, took him into her service, and afterwards became his wife. One of our old dramatists (Rowley), in laying a scene in this prison, has made use of the name of Stephen Forster in a 70 different manner; and probably his story had a foundation in truth. According to him, Stephen, who had been a profligate fellow, was relieved by the son of his brother, with whom he was at variance. Stephen afterwards becomes rich in his turn, and seeing his brother become poor and thrust into the same prison, forbids his nephew Robert, whom he had adopted on that condition, to relieve his father. The nephew disobeys, and has the misfortune to incur the hatred of both uncle and parent, for his connection with either party, but ultimately finds his virtue acknowledged. The following scene is one of those in which these old writers, in their honest confidence in nature, go direct to the heart. The reader will see the style of begging in those days. Robert Forster, who has been cursed by his father, comes to Ludgate, and stands concealed outside the prison, while his father appears above at the grate, "a box hanging down."

Forster. Bread, bread, one penny to buy a loaf of bread, for the tender mercy.

Rob. O me! my shame! I know that voice full well;
I'll help thy wants, although thou curse me still. [He stands where he is unseen by his father.

Fors. Bread, bread, some Christian man send back
Your charity to a number of poor prisoners.
One penny for the tender mercy—[Robert puts in money.
The hand of Heaven reward you, gentle sir!
Never may you want, never feel misery;
Let blessings in unnumbered measure grow,
And fall upon your head, where'er you go.

Rob. Oh, happy comfort! curses to the ground
First struck me; now with blessings I am crowned.

Fors. Bread, bread, for the tender mercy; one penny for a loaf of bread.

Rob. I'll buy more blessings: take thou all my store:
I'll keep no coin and see my father poor.

Fors. Good angels guard you, sir; my prayers shall be,
That Heaven may bless you for this charity.

Rob. If he knew me sure he would not say so:
Yet I have comfort, if by any means
I get a blessing from my father's hands.[65]

The prison of Ludgate was anciently considered to be not so much a place of confinement as a place of refuge, into which debtors threw themselves to escape from their creditors—"a keep, not so much of the wicked as of the wretched"—("non sceleratorum carcer, sed miserorum custodia"), as it is expressed in a Latin speech which was addressed by the inmates to King Philip of Spain, when he passed through 71 the city, in 1554, and which the celebrated Roger Ascham was employed to compose. As it does not appear, however, that the persons who took up their abode here were allowed to come out again until they had discharged their debts, the distinction attempted to be drawn seems to be a somewhat shadowy one. A writer, nevertheless, quoted by Maitland, who in 1659 published a description of the house in which he had himself been for a long time a resident, expresses great indignation against the authorities for having "basely and injuriously caused to be taken down" the old inscription, affixed by Sir Stephen Forster, of Free Water and Lodging, "and set up another over the outward street door with only these words engraven: This is the Prison of Ludgate."[66] The prison of Ludgate stood on the south side of the street, and extended back till it almost joined a portion of the old London Wall, which ran nearly parallel to Ludgate Hill. About the year 1764 this wall is described as being eight feet and a half thick.[67] Bits of it (as before noticed) still remain in this neighbourhood.

At this gate a stop was put to the insurrection of Sir Thomas Wyatt against Queen Mary, at the time when her marriage with Philip was in contemplation. Sir Thomas was son of the poet who had been a friend of the Earl of Surrey, and a warm partisan of Anne Bullen. He led his forces up the Strand and Fleet Street in no very hopeful condition, after suffering a loss in his rear; and on arriving at Ludgate, found it shut against him, and strongly manned. The disappointment is said to have affected him so strongly, that he threw himself on a bench opposite the Bell-Savage Inn, and mourned the rashness of his hopes. He retired, only to find his retreat cut off at Temple Bar; and being summoned by a herald to submit, requested it might be to a gentleman; upon which his sword was received by a person of his own rank. He was beheaded. It is worth observing, that Mary, alarmed at this insurrection, had pretended, in a speech at Guildhall, that she would give up the marriage, provided it were seriously and properly objected to: she only called upon the citizens to stand by her against rebels. When the rebels, however, were put down, the marriage, though notoriously unpopular, was concluded.

The Bell-Savage is an inn of old standing. The name is 72 now learnedly written over the front—Belle Sauvage. The old sign was a bell with a savage by it. Stow derived the name from Isabella Savage, who had given the house to the company of Cutlers; and most likely this was its origin; but as the inn was formerly one of those in which plays were acted, and as the players had dealings with romance, and sign painters varied their hieroglyphics according to the whim of the moment, Pennant might have reasonably found one derivation in the Spectator, without objecting to the other. A sight of the passage to which he refers will leave the immediate derivation beyond all doubt. "As for the Bell-Savage," says Addison (for the paper is his), "which is the sign of a Savage Man standing by a Bell, I was formerly very much puzzled upon the conceit of it, till I accidentally fell into the reading of an old romance translated out of the French; which gives an account of a very beautiful woman who was in a wilderness, and is called in the French la belle Sauvage; and is everywhere translated by our countrymen the Bell-Savage."[68] This was one of the inns at which the famous Tarlton used to perform. London has a modern look to the inhabitants; but persons who come from the country find as odd and remote-looking things in it as the Londoners do in York or Chester; and among these are a variety of old inns, with corridors running round the yard. They are well worth a glance from anybody who has a respect for old times. The play used to be got up in the yard, and the richer part of the spectators occupied "the galleries."[69]


The wall in which Lud-gate stood was the occasion of the hill's having two names, which is still the case, the upper part, between the Bell-Savage and St. Paul's Churchyard, being called Ludgate Street, and only the rest Ludgate Hill. This latter portion went anciently by the name of Bowyers' Row, no doubt from its being principally inhabited by persons of that trade. On Ludgate Hill lived the cobbler whom Steele mentions as a curious instance of pride.[70] He had a wooden figure of a beau, who stood before him in a bending posture, humbly presenting him with his awl, or bristle, or whatever else his employer chose to put in his hand, after the manner of an obsequious servant. Steele seems to have thought the man mad; otherwise the conceit would have been an agreeable one. Ludgate Street, as if to keep up and augment the didactic reputation of the neighbourhood, was not long since the head-quarters of the Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge, at least as far as regarded their publications. And, curiously enough, the house was next door to old "Newberry's."

Between Ludgate Hill and the Thames, in the district more properly retaining the name, was the monastery of the Black Friars, an order of Dominicans, in which parliaments were sometimes held. The Emperor Charles V. was lodged in it when he visited Henry VIII., in 1522; and in a hall of the same building, seven years after, the cause was tried between Henry and his queen, Catherine. Shakspeare has given us the opening scene. In Elizabeth's time, the desecrated tenements and neighbourhood of Blackfriars became the resort of the world of fashion—a court end of the city; and close at hand, on the site retaining the name of Play-house Yard, was the famous Theatre in Blackfriars, where Shakspeare's, Ben Jonson's, and Beaumont and Fletcher's plays were performed, and where many of them came out. It was what they called at that time a "private" theatre, the peculiarity of which is not exactly understood. All that is known of it is, that it was smaller than the public ones; but it was open to public admission. Perhaps a private theatre meant a theatre more select than the others, and frequented by politer company; for such, at any rate, the present one appears to have been. It is conjectured also to have been a winter theatre, and its performances took place by candlelight. The gallants and ladies of the courts of Elizabeth and James took their dinner at noon, 74 and after riding or lute-playing till evening, went to their snug little theatre in the neighbourhood, to laugh or weep over the divine fancies of Shakspeare. Shakspeare himself must often have been on the spot; a certainty which an intellectual inhabitant will be glad to possess. The theatre, at one time, was partly his property.

A part of the monastery of the Blackfriars was, in 1623, the scene of a frightful accident, which made a great noise at the time. Mr. Malcolm has enumerated several of the publications recording it; and from these it appears that on Sunday, the 5th of November in that year, a congregation of about three hundred individuals had assembled in a small gallery over the gateway of the lodgings of the French Ambassador in this building, in order to hear a sermon from a Jesuit, named Father Drury, who enjoyed considerable reputation as a preacher. Under the floor of the chamber where they were assembled was an empty apartment, and under that another, making together a height of twenty-two feet from the ground; and the floor itself, as it afterwards turned out, was mainly supported by a single beam, which in the centre was not more than three inches thick. The people had been in their seats for about half-an-hour, when this beam suddenly gave way, and the whole of them were instantly precipitated, mixed with the timber, plaster, and rubbish of the floors, into the vacant depth below. Drury, and another priest, named Redgate, were both killed, as were also a Lady Webbe, and the daughter of a Lady Blackstone, together with, it is supposed, between ninety and a hundred persons. Many more were seriously injured. "Several people," says Mr. Malcolm, "escaped in a very extraordinary manner, particularly Mrs. Lucy Penruddock, who was preserved by a chair falling hollow over her; and a young man, who lay on the floor, overwhelmed by people and rubbish, yet untouched by them, through the resting of fragments on each other, and thus leaving a space round him. In this horrible situation he had the presence of mind to force his way through a piece of the ceiling, and he shortly after had the indescribable happiness of assisting in the liberation of others."[71] There were many persons, it would appear, foolish and wicked enough to represent this calamity as a token of the displeasure of heaven against the Roman Catholic faith. The pamphlets noticed by Mr. Malcolm are some of those that were published by 75 the parties in a violent controversy which raged for some time on the subject. The day on which this accident happened was long remembered under the name of the Fatal Vespers; and the circumstance that it was the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot was not forgotten by the judgment-mongers. Most of the bodies of those who were killed on this occasion were buried without either the ceremony of a funeral service, or the decency of a coffin or winding-sheet, in two large pits or trenches, dug, the one in the court before, and the other in the garden behind the house, in which the accident had taken place.

Printing-house Square, close to Playhouse-yard, marks out the site of the ancient King's Printing-House, whence bibles, prayer-books, and proclamations were issued. It was rebuilt in the middle of the last century, and became, according to Maitland, "the completest printing-house in the world." The king's printer now lives elsewhere; but in the same spot is a house, which may be called the world's printing-house, seeing the enormous multitude of newspapers which the mighty giant of steam daily throws forth out of his iron lap, full of interest to all quarters of the globe. We need not say that we allude to the Times newspaper. There is knowing, in this and other instances, what bounds to put to human expectation, when mechanical and intellectual force are thus joined in a common object.

On the other side of the way, in Bridge Street, stood, and stands now, though hidden by the new houses, and much altered, the former palace of Bridewell, now known as a house of industry and correction. In ancient times the King used frequently to reside here; and when such was the case, the courts of law sometimes attended him. The building, having fallen into decay, was restored about the year 1522, by Henry VIII.; and here the attendants of the Emperor Charles V. were lodged while the emperor himself occupied the Blackfriars, a communication being formed between the two palaces by a gallery carried over the Fleet Ditch, and through the old city wall. Both Henry and Catherine, also, were lodged here, while the cause between them was proceeding at Blackfriars. In 1553 Edward VI. granted the palace, on the solicitation of Bishop Ridley, for the purposes to which it has been since applied; an act of benevolence which was recorded, with more precision than elegance, in the following 76 lines under a portrait of his majesty, that used to hang near the pulpit in the old chapel:—

"This Edward of fair memory the sixth.

In whom with greatness, goodness was commixt,

Gave this Bridewell, a Palace in old times,

For a chastising house of vagrant crimes."

Bridewell having been burnt down in the Great Fire was rebuilt immediately after that calamity, and it has since been frequently repaired, and partially renovated. Henry the Eighth ("sturdy rogue!") would have been a fit personage to lodge in it still, though under somewhat different circumstances.

One of the steep and gloomy descents from Thames Street still preserves the name of Castle Street; and immediately to the west of this stood in ancient times, on the banks of the river, a large building called Baynard's Castle. Baynard, by whom it was originally erected in the eleventh century, was one of the Conqueror s Norman followers. His descendant, William Baynard, however, soon after the commencement of the next century, forfeited his inheritance to the crown, by which it was bestowed upon the family of Clare. The representative of this family, and the possessor of Baynard's Castle, in the reign of King John, was the Baron Robert Fitzwalter, a portion of whose history, as related by some of our old chroniclers, gives an interest to the spot. Among the beauties of the time, one of the fairest was Matilda, the daughter of Fitzwalter. The licentious monarch, who may have seen her at some high festival held in this very castle, was smitten, after his fashion, by her charms; but his suit was rejected with indignation, both by herself and her father. His "love" now turned into hatred and thirst of revenge; he soon after resorted to open force, and having first driven Fitzwalter to seek refuge in France, easily got the unhappy girl into his custody, and, if we are to believe the story, despatched her by poison. He at the same time ordered Castle Baynard to be demolished. The next year the armies of the English and French Kings lay encamped during a truce on the opposite sides of a river in France, when an English knight, impatient, as it would seem, of the bloodless inactivity that prevailed, thought fit to challenge any one of the enemy who chose to come forth and break a lance with him. It was not long before a champion appeared making his way across the water, 77 who, unattended as he was, had no sooner reached the land, than he mounted a horse and rode up to meet his challenger. The duel took place in the sight of King John and his troops, but it did not last long: for both the English knight and his horse were thrown to the ground by the first thrust of his antagonist's spear, which was also broken to shivers in the shock. "By God's troth," exclaimed John, as he beheld this heroic exploit, "he were a king indeed who had such a knight." The words were caught by some of the bystanders, who had observed more narrowly than the monarch the figure of the unknown victor, and who suspected him to be no other than their old acquaintance, the Baron Fitzwalter. It was, in fact, no other. The next day, the praise which the King had bestowed upon his prowess being reported to him, he returned to the English camp, and throwing himself at the feet of his sovereign, was re-admitted to favour, and restored to all his former possessions and honours. We may observe, however, that this narrative is scarcely detailed with sufficient precision to entitle it to be received as a piece of authentic history, and that especially it does not seem to be very easy to reconcile some parts of it, as commonly given, with the ascertained dates and course of the events of King John's reign. This Robert Fitzwalter is placed by Matthew Paris at the head of his list of the Barons, who, in 1215, came armed in a body to the King, at the Temple, and made those demands which led to the concession of the Great Charter at Runnymede. Indeed, in the short military contest which preceded the King's submission, Fitzwalter was appointed by his brother barons the commander-in-chief of their forces, and dignified in that capacity with the title of Marshal of the Army of God and of Holy Church. On his return to England, he is said to have rebuilt or repaired his castle in London which the King had thrown down, and the edifice continued for a long time to be the principal fortress within the city. The family of Fitzwalter, in consequence of their possession of Baynard's Castle, held the office of Chastilians and Bannerets, or Banner-bearers of London; and the reader who is curious upon such matters may consult Stow, or those who have copied him, for an account of the rights, services, and ceremonial customs appertaining to that dignity. The punishment of a person found guilty of treason within the banneret's jurisdiction is worth noticing: he was to be tied to a post in the Thames, at one of the wharfs, and left there for two ebbings and two flowings of 78 the tide. After this, there was certainly little chance of his committing more treason.

Baynard's Castle

It is not known how Baynard's Castle, and the privileges belonging to the lordship, got out of the hands of this family; but in 1428, in the reign of Henry the Sixth, the building, having been burned down, is stated to have been restored by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. After the duke's death it came once more into the possession of the crown; and here it was that the great council assembled in the beginning of March, 1461, which proclaimed the Earl of March King, by the title of Edward IV. It was here also, twenty-two years after, that the solemn farce was enacted in which Richard III. assumed the royal dignity on the invitation of Buckingham, and in obedience to the pretended wishes of the citizens. Shakspeare has given this scene with an exact conformity, in all the matters of fact, to the narratives of the old chroniclers; the crafty Protector, it will be remembered, being made to present himself in the gallery above, supported by a bishop on each side, while Buckingham, the lord mayor, the aldermen, and the citizens, occupy the court of the castle below. Baynard's Castle was once more rebuilt in 1487, by Henry VII., with a view to its answering better the purpose of a royal palace; and the King occasionally lodged there. Some time after this we find the place in possession of the Earls of Pembroke, who made it their common residence; and it was here that the Earl of that name, on the 19th of July, 1553, about a fortnight after the death of Edward VI., assembled 79 the council of the nobility and clergy, at which the determination was taken, on the motion of Lord Arundel, to abandon the cause of Lady Jane Grey, and to proclaim Queen Mary, which, accordingly, was instantly done in different parts of the city. This is supposed to have been the building which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. It is represented in an old print of London as a square pile surrounding a court, and surmounted with numerous towers. A large gateway in the middle of the south side led to the river by a bridge of two arches and stairs. This ancient fortress was never rebuilt after the fire; and its site has been since occupied by wharfs, timber-yards, workshops, and common dwelling-houses. The ward, however, in which it was situated, and which embraces also St. Paul's Churchyard, and nearly all the localities we have as yet noticed, still retains the name of the Ward of Baynard's Castle.

Upon Paul's Wharf Hill, to the north-east of Baynard's Castle, were a number of houses within a great gate, which are said by Maitland to have been designated, in the leases granted by the dean and chapter, as the Camera Dianæ, or Diana's Chamber, and to have been so denominated from a spacious building in the form of a labyrinth, constructed here by Henry II. for the concealment of the fair Rosamond Clifford. We need scarcely say that this tradition has all the air of a fable. The author we have just named, however, assures us that "for a long time there remained some evident testifications of tedious turnings and windings, as also of a passage under ground from his house to Castle Baynard; which was no doubt the King's way from thence to the Camera Dianæ,"[72] or the chamber of his "brightest Diana." What the testifications may in question really have amounted to, we cannot pretend to say; but Diana, not being a family name, as in the case of another royal favourite, Diana of Poitiers, seems a strange one to have been given to the lady already christened by so poetical an appellation as Rosamond, and so different in her reputation from the chaste goddess. We should, for our parts, rather suppose that the dean and chapter had been moved to call the place Diana's chamber by some tradition, or a conceit of their own, connecting it with the temple of that goddess, said to have formerly stood on the site of the neighbouring cathedral; or if the name was really a very ancient one, and in popular use, it may perhaps be taken 80 as lending some slight confirmation to the notion of the actual existence of that heathen edifice, and may "help," as Iago phrases it, "to thicken other proofs that also demonstrate thinly." Diana's Chamber, however, may have been so called from its being hung with painted tapestry, representing some story of the goddess. Inigo Jones, by the way, is said by Lord Orford to be buried in the church of St. Bennet, Paul's Wharf, which stands immediately to the south of the spot where we now are, at the corner formed by the meeting of Thames Street and St. Bennet's Hill.

Another building which formerly existed in this neighbourhood was the Royal Wardrobe. It occupied the site of the present Wardrobe Court, immediately to the north of the church of St. Andrew's and gave to the parish the name of St. Andrew's Wardrobe, by which it is still known. This building was erected about the middle of the fourteenth century, by Sir John Beauchamp, Knight of the Garter, a son of Guido, Earl of Warwick, by whose heirs it was sold to Edward III. Mr. Malcolm has printed some extracts from the Manuscript Account Book, since preserved in the Harleian collection, of a keeper of this Wardrobe, from the middle of April to Michaelmas 1481, (towards the close of the reign of Edward IV.), which are interesting and valuable as memorials, both of the prices and of the fashions of that time. During the period, of less than six months, over which the accounts extend, the sum of 1,174l. 5s. 2d. appears to have been received by the keeper, for the use of his office. Of this the most considerable portion seems to have been expended in the purchase of velvet and silks from Montpellier. The velvets cost from 8s. to 16s. per yard; black cloths of gold, 40s.; what is called velvet upon velvet, the same; damask, 8s.; satins, 6s. 10s. and 12s., camlets, 30s. a-piece; and sarcenets for 4s. to 4s. 2d. Feather beds, with bolsters, "for our sovereign lord the King," are charged 16s. 8d. each. A pair of shoes, of Spanish leather, double soled, and not lined, cost 1s. 4d.; a pair of black leather boots, 6s. 8d.; hats 1s. a-piece; and ostrich feathers, each 10s. The keeper's salary appears to have been 100l. per annum—that of his clerk 1s. a-day; and the wages of the tailors 6d. a-day each. The King sometimes lodged at the Wardrobe; on one of which occasions the washings of the sheets which had been used is charged at the rate of 3d. a pair. Candles cost 1d. a pound. All the money disbursed by the keeper of the wardrobe, however, 81 was not expended in decorating the persons of his Majesty and the royal household. Among other items we find 20s. paid to Piers Bauduyn (or Peter Baldwin, as we should now call him), stationer, "for binding, gilding, and dressing of a book called Titus Livius;" for performing the same offices to a Bible, a Froisard, a Holy Trinity, and the Government of Kings and Princes, 16s. each; for three small French books, 6s. 8d.; for the Fortress of Faith, and Josephus 3s. 4d.; and for what is designated "the Bible Historical," 20s. So that in those days, we see the binding a book was conceived to be a putting of it into breeches, and the artist employed for that purpose looked upon as a sort of literary tailor.

How impossible it would now be in a neighbourhood like this, for such nuisances to exist, as a fetid public ditch, and scouts of degraded clergymen asking people to "walk in and be married!" Yet such was the case a century ago. At the bottom of Ludgate Hill the little river Fleet formerly ran, and was rendered navigable. Adjoining the site of Fleet Market is Sea-coal Lane, so called from the barges that landed coal there; and Turnagain Lane, at the bottom of which the unadvised passenger found himself compelled by the water to retrace his steps. The water gradually got clogged and foul; and the channel was built over and made a street, as we have noticed in our introduction. But even in the time we speak of, this had not been entirely done. The ditch was open from Fleet Market to the river, occupying the site of the modern Bridge Street; and in the market, before the door of the Fleet prison, men plied in behalf of a clergyman, literally inviting people to walk in and be married. They performed the ceremony inside the prison, to sailors and others, for what they could get. It was the most squalid of Gretnas, bearding the decency and common-sense of a whole metropolis. The parties retired to a gin shop to treat the clergyman; and there, and in similar houses, the register was kept of the marriages. Not far from where the Fleet stood is Newgate; so that the victims had their succession of nooses prepared, in case, as no doubt it often happened, one tie should be followed by the other. Pennant speaks of this nuisance from personal knowledge.

"In walking along the streets in my youth," he tells us, "on the side next this prison, I have often been tempted by the question, 'Sir, will you be pleased to walk in and be married.' Along this most lawless space was frequently hung up the sign of a male and female hand conjoined, with Marriages performed within, written beneath. A dirty fellow invited you in. The parson was seen walking before his shop; a 82 squalid, profligate figure, clad in a tattered plaid night-gown, with a fiery face, and ready to couple you for a dram of gin or roll of tobacco. Our great chancellor, Lord Hardwicke, put these demons to flight, and saved thousands from the misery and disgrace which would be entailed by these extemporary thoughtless unions."

This extraordinary disgrace to the city, which arose most likely from the permission to marry prisoners, and one great secret of which was the advantage taken of it by wretched women to get rid of their debts, was maintained by a collusion between the warden of the Fleet and the disreputable clergymen he became acquainted with. "To such an extent," says Malcolm, "were the proceedings carried, that twenty and thirty couple were joined in one day, at from ten to twenty shillings each;" and "between the 19th Oct., 1704, and the 12th Feb., 1705, 2,954 marriages were celebrated (by evidence), besides others known to have been omitted. To these neither licence nor certificate of banns were required, and they concealed, by private marks, the names of those who chose to pay them for it." The neighbourhood at length complained; and the abuse was put an end to by the Marriage Act, to which it gave rise.

Ludgate and Fleet ditch figure among the scenes of the Dunciad. It is near Bridewell, on the site of the modern Bridge Street, that the venal and scurrilous heroes of that poem emulate one another, at the call of Dulness, in seeing who can plunge deepest into the mud and dirt.

"This labour past, by Bridewell all descend,

(As morning prayer and flagellation end[73]),

To where Fleet ditch, with disemboguing streams,

Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames;

The king of dykes! than whom no sluice of mud

With deeper sable blots the silver flood.

Here strip, my children! here at once leap in;

Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin;

And who the most in love of dirt excel,

And dark dexterity of groping well."[74]

This part of the games being over,

"Through Lud's famed gates, along the well-known Fleet,

Rolls the black troop and overshades the street;

Till showers of sermons, characters, essays,

In circling fences whiten all the ways:

So clouds replenished from some bog below,

Mount in dark volumes and descend in snow."


The "well-known Fleet" is the prison just mentioned, the side of which appears to have been visible at that time in Ludgate Hill, and where it was a joke (too often founded in truth) to suppose authors incarcerated.

"Few sons of Phœbus in the courts we meet;

But fifty sons of Phœbus in the Fleet,"

says a prologue of Sheridan's. The Fleet having "rules," like the King's Bench, authors were found in the neighbourhood also. Arthur Murphy, provoked by the attacks of Churchill and Lloyd, describes them as among the poor hacks,

"On Ludgate Hill who bloody murders write,

Or pass in Fleet Street supperless the night."

Booksellers' shops were then common as now in Fleet Street and the Strand, in Paternoster Row, and St. Paul's Churchyard. This is pleasant to think of; for change is not desirable without improvement. One feels gratified, where difference is not demanded of us, in being able to have the same association of ideas with such men as Pope and Dryden, even if it be upon no higher ground than the quantity of books in Paternoster Row, or the circumstance that Ludgate Hill still leads into Fleet Street.





Burning of the Pope—St. Bride's Steeple—Milton—Illuminated Clock—Melancholy End of Lovelace the Cavalier—Chatterton—Generosity of Hardham, of Snuff Celebrity—Theatre in Dorset Garden—Richardson, his Habits and Character—Whitefriars, or Alsatia—The Temple—Its Monuments, Garden, &c.—Eminent names connected with it—Goldsmith dies there—Boswell's first Visit there to Johnson—Johnson and Madame de Boufflers—Bernard Lintot—Ben Jonson's Devil Tavern—Other Coffee-houses and Shops—Goldsmith and Temple-bar—Shire Lane, Bickerstaff, and the Deputation from the Country—The Kit-Kat Club—Mrs. Salmon—Isaac Walton—Cowley—Chancery Lane, Lord Strafford, and Ben Jonson—Serjeant's Inn—Clifford's Inn—The Rolls—Sir Joseph Jekyll—Church of St. Dunstan in the West—Dryden's House in Fetter Lane—Johnson, the Genius Loci of Fleet Street—His Way of Life—His Residence in Gough Square, Johnson's Court, and Bolt Court—Various Anecdotes of him connected with Fleet Street, and with his favourite Tavern, the Mitre.


We are now in Fleet Street, and pleasant memories thicken upon us. To the left is the renowned realm of Alsatia, the Temple, the Mitre, and the abode of Richardson; to the right divers abodes of Johnson; Chancery Lane, with Cowley's birth-place at the corner; Fetter Lane, where Dryden once lived; and Shire or Sheer Lane, immortal for the Tatler.

Fleet Street was, for a good period, perhaps for a longer one than can now be ascertained, the great place for shows and spectacles. Wild beasts, monsters, and other marvels, used to be exhibited there, as the wax-work was lately; and here took place the famous ceremony of burning the Pope, with its long procession, and bigoted anti-bigotries. However, the lesser bigotry was useful, at that time, in keeping out the greater. Roger North has left us a lively account of one of these processions, in his Examen. It took place towards the close of the reign of Charles the Second, when just fears were entertained of his successor's design to bring in Popery. The day of the ceremony was the birth-day of Queen Elizabeth, the 17th March.

"When we had posted ourselves," says North, "at windows expecting the play to begin" (he had taken his stand in the Green 85 Dragon Tavern), "it was very dark; but we could perceive the street to fill, and the hum of the crowd grew louder and louder; and at length, with help of some lights below, we could discern, not only upwards towards the bar, where the squib-war was maintained, but downwards towards Fleet Bridge; the whole street was crowded with people, which made that which followed seem very strange; for about eight at night we heard a din from below, which came up the street, continually increasing till we could perceive a motion; and that was a row of stout fellows, that came, shouldered together, cross the street, from wall to wall on each side. How the people melted away, I cannot tell; but it was plain those fellows made clear board, as if they had swept the street for what was to come after. They went along like a wave; and it was wonderful to see how the crowd made way: I suppose the good people were willing to give obedience to lawful authority. Behind this wave (which, as all the rest, had many lights attending), there was a vacancy, but it filled apace, till another like wave came up; and so four or five of these waves passed, one after another; and then we discerned more numerous lights, and throats were opened with hoarse and tremendous noise; and with that advanced a pageant, borne along above the heads of the crowd, and upon it sat an huge Pope, in pontificalibus, in his chair, with a seasonable attendance for state: but his premier minister, that shared most of his ear, was Il Signior Diavolo, a nimble little fellow, in a proper dress, that had a strange dexterity in climbing and winding about the chair, from one of the Pope's ears to the other.

"The next pageant was a parcel of Jesuits; and after that (for there was always a decent space between them) came another, with some ordinary persons with halters, as I took it, about their necks; and one with a stenterophonic tube, sounded 'Abhorrers! Abhorrers!' most infernally; and, lastly, came one, with a single person upon it, which some said was the phamphleteer, Sir Roger L'Estrange, some the King of France, some the Duke of York; but, certainly, it was a very complaisant, civil gentleman, like the former, that was doing what everybody pleased to have him; and, taking all in good part went on his way to the fire."

The description concludes with a brief mention of burning the effigies, which, on these occasions, appear to have been of pasteboard.[75]

One of the great figurers in this ceremony was the doleful image of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey, a magistrate, supposed to have been killed by the Papists during the question of the plot. Dryden has a fine contemptuous couplet upon it, in one of his prologues;—

"Sir Edmondbury first in woful wise,

Leads up the show, and milks their maudlin eyes."

We will begin with the left side, as we are there already; 86 and first let us express our thanks for the neat opening by which St. Bride's church has been rendered an ornament to this populous thoroughfare. The steeple is one of the most beautiful of Wren's productions, though diminished, in consequence of its having been found to be too severely tried by the wind. But a ray now comes out of this opening as we pass the street, better even than that of the illuminated clock at night time; for there, in a lodging in the churchyard, lived Milton, at the time that he undertook the education of his sister's children. He was then young and unmarried. He is said to have rendered his young scholars, in the course of a year, able to read Latin at sight, though they were but nine or ten years of age. As to the clock, which serves to remind the jovial that they ought to be at home, we are loth to object to anything useful; and in fact we admit its pretensions; and yet as there is a time for all things, there would seem to be a time for time itself; and we doubt whether those who do not care to ascertain the hour beforehand, will derive much benefit from this glaring piece of advice.

"At the west end of St. Bride's Church," according to Wood, was buried Richard Lovelace, Esq., one of the most elegant of the cavaliers of Charles the First, and author of the exquisite ballad beginning—

"When Love with unconfined wings

Hovers within my gates,

And my divine Althea brings

To whisper at my grates.

"When I lie tangled in her hair,

And fetter'd in her eye,

The birds that wanton in the air,

Know no such liberty.

"Stone walls do not a prison make,

Nor iron bars a cage,

Minds innocent and quiet take

That for an hermitage."

This accomplished man, who is said by Wood to have been in his youth "the most amiable and beautiful person that eye ever beheld," and who was lamented by Charles Cotton as an epitome of manly virtue, died at a poor lodging in Gunpowder Alley, near Shoe Lane, an object of charity.[76] He 87 had been imprisoned by the Parliament and lived during his imprisonment beyond his income. Wood thinks that he did so in order to support the royal cause, and out of generosity to deserving men, and to his brothers. He then went into the service of the French King, returned to England after being wounded, and was again committed to prison, where he remained till the King's death, when he was set at liberty. "Having then," says his biographer, "consumed all his estate, he grew very melancholy (which brought him at length into a consumption), became very poor in body and purse, and was the object of charity, went in ragged clothes, (whereas, when he was in his glory, he wore cloth of gold and silver,) and mostly lodged in obscure and dirty places, more befitting the worst of beggars than poorest of servants," &c.[77] "Geo. Petty, haberdasher in Fleet Street," says Aubrey, "carried 20 shillings to him every Monday Morning from Sir —— Manny, and Charles Cotton, Esq., for —— months: but was never repaid." As if it was their intention he should be! Poor Cotton, in the excess of his relish of life, lived himself to be in want; perhaps wanted the ten shillings that he sent. The mistress of Lovelace is reported to have married another man, supposing him to have died of his wounds in France. Perhaps this helped to make him careless of his fortune: but it is probable that his habits were naturally showy and expensive. Aubrey says he was proud. He was accounted a sort of minor Sir Philip Sydney. We speak the more of him, not only on account of his poetry (which, for the most part, displays much fancy, injured by want of selectness), but because his connection with the neighbourhood probably suggested to Richardson the name of his hero in Clarissa. Grandison is another cavalier name in the history of those times. It was the title of the Duchess of Cleveland's father. Richardson himself was buried in St. Bride's. He was laid, according to his wish, with his first wife, in the middle aisle, near the pulpit. Where he lived, we shall see presently.

Not far from Gunpowder Alley, in the burying-ground of the workhouse in Shoe Lane, lies a greater and more unfortunate name than Lovelace—Chatterton. But we shall say more 88 of him when we come to Brook Street, Holborn. We have been perplexed to decide, whether to say all we have got to say upon anybody, when we come to the first place with which he is connected, or divide our memorials of him according to the several places. Circumstances will guide us; but upon the whole it seems best to let the places themselves decide. If the spot is rendered particularly interesting by the division, we may act accordingly, as in the present instance. If not, all the anecdotes may be given at once.

On the same side of the way as Shoe Lane, but nearer Fleet Market, was Hardham's, a celebrated snuff-shop, the founder of which deserves mention for a very delicate generosity. He was numberer at Drury Lane Theatre, that is to say, the person who counted the number of people in the house, from a hole over the top of the stage; a practice now discontinued. Whether this employment led him to number snuffs, as well as men, we cannot say, but he was the first who gave them their distinctions that way. Lovers of

"The pungent grains of titillating dust"

are indebted to him for the famous compound entitled "37." "Being passionately fond of theatrical entertainments, he was seldom," says his biographer, "without embryo Richards and Hotspurs strutting and bellowing in his dining-room, or in the parlour behind his shop. The latter of these apartments was adorned with heads of most of the persons celebrated for dramatic excellence; and to these he frequently referred in the course of his instructions."

"There is one circumstance, however, in his private character," continues our authority, "which deserves a more honourable rescue from oblivion. His charity was extensive in an uncommon degree, and was conveyed to many of its objects in the most delicate manner. On account of his known integrity (for he once failed in business, more creditably than he could have made a fortune by it,) he was often entrusted with the care of paying little annual stipends to unfortunate women, and others who were in equal want of relief; and he has been known, with a generosity almost unexampled, to continue these annuities, long after the sources of them had been stopped by the deaths or caprices of the persons who at first supplied them. At the same time he persuaded the receivers that their money was remitted to them as usual, through its former channel. Indeed his purse was never shut even to those who were casually recommended by his common acquaintance."[78]

This admirable man died in 1772; and by his will bequeathed 89 the interest of 20,000l. to a female acquaintance, and at her decease the principal, &c., to the poor of his native city, Chichester.

Returning over the way we come to Dorset Street and Salisbury Court, names originating in a palace of the Bishop of Salisbury, which he parted with to the Sackvilles. Clarendon lived in it a short time after the Restoration. At the bottom of Salisbury Court, facing the river, was the celebrated play-house, one of the earliest in which theatrical entertainments were resumed at that period. The first mention we find of it is in the following curious memorandum in the manuscript book of Sir Henry Herbert, master of the revels to King Charles I. "I committed Cromes, a broker in Longe Lane, the 16th of Febru., 1634, to the Marsalsey, for lending a church robe with the name of Jesus upon it to the players in Salisbury Court, to present a Flamen, a priest of the heathens. Upon his petition of submission, and acknowledgment of his fault, I released him, the 17 Febru., 1634."[79]

It is not certain, however, whether the old theatre in Salisbury Court, and that in Dorset Garden, were one and the same; though they are conjectured to have been so. The names of both places seem to have been indiscriminately applied. Be this as it may, the house became famous under the Davenants for the introduction of operas and of a more splendid exhibition of scenery; but in consequence of the growth of theatres in the more western parts of the town, it was occasionally quitted by the proprietors, and about the beginning of the last century abandoned. This theatre was the last to which people went in boats.

In a house, "in the centre of Salisbury Square or Salisbury Court, as it was then called," Richardson spent the greater part of his town life, and wrote his earliest work, Pamela. Probably a good part of all his works were composed there, as well as at Fulham, for the pen was never out of his hand. He removed from this house in 1755, after he had written all his works; and taking eight old tenements in the same quarter, pulled them down, and built a large and commodious range of warehouses and printing offices. "The dwelling-house," says Mrs. Barbauld, "was neither so large nor so airy as the one he quitted, and therefore the reader will not be so ready, probably, as Mr. Richardson seems to 90 have been, in accusing his wife of perverseness in not liking the new habitation as well as the old."[80] This was the second Mrs. Richardson. He calls her in other places his "worthy-hearted wife;" but complains that she used to get her way by seeming to submit, and then returning to the point, when his heat of objection was over. She was a formal woman. His own manners were strict and formal with regard to his family, probably because he had formed his notions of life from old books, and also because he did not well know how to begin to do otherwise (for he was naturally bashful), and so the habit continued through life. His daughters addressed him in their letters by the title of "Honoured Sir," and are always designating themselves as "ever dutiful." Sedentary living, eternal writing, and perhaps that indulgence in the table, which, however moderate, affects a sedentary man twenty times as much as an active one, conspired to hurt his temper (for we may see by his picture that he grew fat, and his philosophy was in no respect as profound as he thought it); but he was a most kind-hearted generous man; kept his pocket full of plums for children, like another Mr. Burchell; gave a great deal of money away in charity, very handsomely too; and was so fond of inviting friends to stay with him, that when they were ill, he and his family must needs have them to be nursed. Several actually died at his house at Fulham, as at an hospital for sick friends.

It is a fact not generally known (none of his biographers seem to have known of it) that Richardson was the son of a joiner, received what education he had (which was very little, and did not go beyond English), at Christ's Hospital.[81] It may be wondered how he could come no better taught from a school which had sent forth so many good scholars; but in his time, and indeed till very lately, that foundation was divided into several schools, none of which partook of the lessons of the others; and Richardson, agreeably to his father's intention of bringing him up to trade, was most probably confined to the writing-school, where all that was taught was writing and arithmetic. It was most likely here that he intimated his future career, first by writing a letter, at eleven years of age, to a censorious woman of fifty, who 91 pretended a zeal for religion; and afterwards, at thirteen, by composing love-letters to their sweethearts for three young women in the neighbourhood, who made him their confidant. To these and others he also used to read books, their mothers being of the party; and they encouraged him to make remarks; which is exactly the sort of life he led with Mrs. Chapone, Miss Fielding, and others, when in the height of his celebrity. "One of the young women," he informs us, "highly gratified with her lover's fervour, and vows of everlasting love, has said, when I have asked her direction, 'I cannot tell you what to write, but (her heart on her lips) you cannot write too kindly;' all her fear was only that she should incur a slight for her kindness." This passage, with its pretty breathless parenthesis, is in the style of his books. If the writers among his female coterie in after-life owed their inspiration to him, he only returned to them what they had done for himself. Women seem to have been always about him, both in town and country; which made Mrs. Barbauld say, very agreeably, that he "lived in a kind of flower-garden of ladies." This has been grudged him, and thought effeminate; but we must make allowance for early circumstances, and recollect what the garden produced for us. Richardson did not pretend to be able to do without female society. Perhaps, however, they did not quiet his sensibility so much as they charmed it. We think, in his Correspondence, a tendency is observable to indulge in fancies, not always so paternal as they agree to call them; though doubtless all was said in honour, and the ladies never found reason to diminish their reverence. A great deal has been said of his vanity and the weakness of it. Vain he undoubtedly was, and vanity is no strength; but it is worth bearing in mind, that a man is often saved from vanity, not because he is stronger than another, but because he is less amiable, and did not begin, as Richardson did, with being a favourite so early. Few men are surrounded, as he was, from his very childhood, with females; and few people think so well of their species or with so much reason. In all probability too, he was handsome when young, which is another excuse for him. His vanity is more easily excused than his genius accounted for considering the way in which he lived. The tone of Lovelace's manners and language, which has created so much surprise in an author who was a city printer, and passed his life among a few friends between Fleet Street and 92 a suburb, was caught, probably, not merely from Cibber, but from the famous profligate Duke of Wharton, with whom he became acquainted in the course of his business. But the unwearied vivacity with which he has supported it is wonderful. His pathos is more easily accounted for by his nerves, which for many years were in a constant state of excitement, particularly towards the close of his life; which terminated in 1761, at the age of seventy-two, with the death most common to sedentary men of letters, a stroke of apoplexy.[82] He was latterly unable to lift a glass of wine to his mouth without assistance.

At Fulham and Parson's Green (at which latter place he lived for the last five or six years), Richardson used to sit with his guests about him, in a parlour or summer-house, reading, or communicating his manuscripts as he wrote them. The ladies made their remarks; and alterations or vindications ensued. His characters, agreeably to what we feel when we read of them (for we know them all as intimately as if we occupied a room in their house), interested his acquaintances so far that they sympathised with them as if they were real; and it is well known that one of his correspondents, Lady Bradshaigh, implored him to reform Lovelace, in order "to save a soul." In Salisbury Court, Richardson, of course, had the same visitors about him; but the "flower-garden" is not talked of so much there as at Fulham. In the evening the ladies read and worked by themselves, and Richardson retired to his study; a most pernicious habit for a man of his bad nerves. He should have written early in the morning, taken good exercise in the day, and amused himself in the evening. When he walked in town it was in the park, where he describes himself (to a fair correspondent who wished to have an interview with him, and who recognised him from the description) as "short, rather plump, about five feet five 93 inches, fair wig, one hand generally in his bosom, the other a cane in it, which he leans upon under the skirts of his coat, that it may imperceptibly serve him as a support when attacked by sudden tremors or dizziness, of a light brown complexion, teeth not yet failing." "What follows," observes Mrs. Barbauld, "is very descriptive of the struggle in his character, between innate bashfulness and a turn for observation:"—"Looking directly forwards, as passengers would imagine, but observing all that stirs on either hand of him, without moving his short neck; a regular even pace, stealing away ground rather than seeming to rid it; a grey eye, too often overclouded by mistiness from the head, by chance lively, very lively if he sees any he loves; if he approaches a lady, his eye is never fixed first on her face, but on her feet, and rears it up by degrees, seeming to set her down as so and so."[83]

Latterly Richardson attended little to business. He used even to give his orders to his workmen in writing; a practice which Sir John Hawkins is inclined to attribute to stateliness and bad temper, but for which Mrs. Barbauld finds a better reason in his bad nerves. His principal foreman also was deaf, as the knight himself acknowledges. Richardson encouraged his men to be industrious, sometimes by putting half-a-crown among the types as a prize to him who came first in the morning, at others by sending fruit for the same purpose from the country. Agreeably to his natural bashfulness, he was apt to be reserved with strangers. Sir John Hawkins tells us, that he once happened to get into the Fulham stage when Richardson was in it (most likely he got in on purpose); and he endeavoured to bring the novelist into conversation, but could not succeed, and was vexed at it. But Sir John was one of that numerous class of persons who, for reasons better known to others than to themselves,

"Deemen gladly to the badder end,"

as the old poet says; and Richardson probably knew this pragmatical person, and did not want his acquaintance.

Johnson was among the visitors of Richardson in Salisbury Court. He confessed to Boswell, that although he had never much sought after anybody, Richardson was an exception. He had so much respect for him, that he took part with him in a preposterous undervaluing of Fielding, whom he described 94 in the comparison as a mere writer of manners, and sometimes as hardly any writer at all. And yet he told Boswell that he had read his Amelia through "without stopping:" and according to Mrs. Piozzi she was his favourite heroine. In the comparison of Richardson with Fielding, he was in the habit of opposing the nature of one to the manners of the other; but Fielding's manners are only superadded to his nature, not opposed to it, which makes all the difference. As to Richardson, he was so far gone upon this point, in a mixture of pique and want of sympathy, that he said, if he had not known who Fielding was, "he should have taken him for an ostler." Fielding, it is true, must have vexed him greatly by detecting the pettiness in the character of Pamela. Richardson, as a romancer, did not like to have the truth forced upon him, and thus was inclined to see nothing but vulgarity in the novelist. This must have been unpleasant to the Misses Fielding, the sisters, who were among the most intimate of Richardson's friends. Another of our author's visitors was Hogarth. It must not be forgotten that Richardson was kind to Johnson in money matters; and to use Mrs. Barbauld's phrase, had once "the honour" to be bail for him.

We conclude our notice, which, on the subject of so original a man, has naturally beguiled us into some length, with an interesting account of his manners and way of life, communicated by one of his female friends to Mrs. Barbauld. "My first recollection of him," says she, "was in his house in the centre of Salisbury Square, or Salisbury Court as it was then called; and of being admitted as a playful child into his study, where I have often seen Dr. Young and others; and where I was generally caressed and rewarded with biscuits or bonbons of some kind or other; and sometimes with books, for which he, and some more of my friends, kindly encouraged a taste, even at that early age, which has adhered to me all my long life, and continues to be the solace of many a painful hour. I recollect that he used to drop in at my father's, for we lived nearly opposite, late in the evening to supper; when, as he would say, he had worked as long as his eyes and nerves would let him, and was come to relax with a little friendly and domestic chat. I even then used to creep to his knee and hang upon his words, for my whole family doated on him; and once, I recollect that at one of these evening visits, probably about the year 1753, I was standing by his knee when my mother's maid came to summon me to bed; upon which, 95 being unwilling to part from him and manifesting some reluctance, he begged I might be permitted to stay a little longer; and, on my mother's objecting that the servant would be wanted to wait at supper (for, in those days of friendly intercourse and real hospitality, a decent maid-servant was the only attendant at his own and many creditable tables, where, nevertheless, much company was received), Mr. Richardson said, 'I am sure Miss P. is now so much a woman, that she does not want anyone to attend her to bed, but will conduct herself with so much propriety, and put out her own candle so carefully, that she may henceforward be indulged with remaining with us till supper is served.' This hint and the confidence it implied, had such a good effect upon me that I believe I never required the attendance of a servant afterwards while my mother lived; and by such sort of ingenious and gentle devices did he use to encourage and draw in young people to do what was right. I also well remember the happy days I passed at his house at North End; sometimes with my mother, but often for weeks without her, domesticated as one of his own children. He used to pass the greatest part of the week in town; but when he came down, he used to like to have his family flock around him, when we all first asked and received his blessing, together with some small boon from his paternal kindness and attention, for he seldom met us empty-handed, and was by nature most generous and liberal.

"The piety, order, decorum, and strict regularity that prevailed in his family were of infinite use to train the mind to good habits and to depend upon its own resources. It has been one of the means which, under the blessing of God, has enabled me to dispense with the enjoyment of what the world calls pleasures, such as are found in crowds, and actually to relish and prefer the calm delights of retirement and books. As soon as Mrs. Richardson arose, the beautiful Psalms in Smith's Devotions were read responsively in the nursery, by herself and daughters standing in a circle: only the two eldest were allowed to breakfast with her and whatever company happened to be in the house, for they were seldom without. After breakfast, we younger ones read to her in turns the Psalms and Lessons for the day. We were then permitted to pursue our childish sports, or to walk in the garden, which I was allowed to do at pleasure; for, when my father hesitated upon granting that privilege for fear I should help myself to the fruit, Mrs. Richardson said, 'No, I have so much confidence in her, that, if she is put upon honour, I am certain that she will not touch so much as a gooseberry.' A confidence I dare safely aver that I never forfeited, and which has given me the power of walking in any garden ever since, without the smallest desire to touch any fruit, and taught me a lesson upon the restraint of appetite, which has been useful to me all my life. We all dined at one table, 96 and generally drank tea and spent the evening in Mrs. Richardson's parlour, where the practice was for one of the young ladies to read while the rest sat with mute attention round a large table, and employed themselves in some kind of needle-work. Mr. Richardson generally retired to his study, unless there was particular company.

"These are trifling and childish anecdotes, and savour, perhaps you may think too much of egotism. They certainly can be of no further use to you than as they mark the extreme benevolence, condescension, and kindness of this exalted genius, towards young people; for, in general society, I know he has been accused as being of few words and of a particularly reserved turn. He was, however, all his lifetime the patron and protector of the female sex. Miss M. (afterwards Lady G.) passed many years in his family. She was the bosom friend and contemporary of my mother; and was so much considered as enfant de famille in Mr. Richardson's house, that her portrait is introduced into a family piece.

"He had many protégees;—a Miss Rosine, from Portugal, was consigned to his care; but of her, being then at school, I never saw much. Most of the ladies that resided much at his house acquired a certain degree of fastidiousness and delicate refinement, which, though amiable in itself, rather disqualified them from appearing in general society to the advantage that might have been expected, and rendered an intercourse with the world uneasy to themselves, giving a peculiar air of shyness and reserve to their whole address; of which habits his own daughters partook, in a degree that has been thought by some a little to obscure those really valuable qualifications and talents they undoubtedly possessed. Yet this was supposed to be owing more to Mrs. Richardson than to him; who, though a truly good woman, had high and Harlowean notions of parental authority, and kept the ladies in such order, and at such a distance, that he often lamented, as I have been told by my mother, that they were not more open and conversable with him.

"Besides those I have already named, I well remember a Mrs. Donellan, a venerable old lady, with sharp piercing eyes; Miss Mulso, &c., &c.; Secker, Archbishop of Canterbury; Sir Thomas Robinson (Lord Grantham), &c., &c., who were frequent visitors at his house in town and country. The ladies I have named were often staying at North End, at the period of his highest glory and reputation; and in their company and conversation his genius was matured. His benevolence was unbounded, as his manner of diffusing it was delicate and refined."[84]

Richardson was buried in the nave of St. Bride's Church; and a stone was placed over his remains, merely recording his name, the year of his death, and his age. In this church were also interred Wynken de Worde, the famous printer; the bowels of Sackville the poet, whom we shall presently have occasion to mention again; and Sir Richard Baker, the author of the well-known book of English Chronicles. De Worde resided in Fleet Street.

Between Water Lane and the Temple, and leading out of 97 Fleet Street by a street formerly called Whitefriars, which has been rebuilt, and christened Bouverie Street, is one of these precincts which long retained the immunities derived from their being conventual sanctuaries, and which naturally enough became as profane as they had been religious. The one before us originated in a monastery of White Friars, an order of Carmelites, which formerly stood in Water Lane, and it acquired an infamous celebrity under the slang title of Alsatia. The claims, however, which the inhabitants set up to protect debtors from arrest, seem to have originated in a charter granted to them by James I., in 1608. For some time after the Reformation and the demolition of the old monastery, Whitefriars was not only a sufficiently orderly district, but one of the most fashionable parts of the city. Among others of the gentry, for instance, who had houses here at this period, was Sir John Cheke, King Edward VI.'s tutor, and afterwards Secretary of State. The reader of our great modern novelist has been made almost as well acquainted with the place in its subsequent state of degradation and lawlessness, as if he had walked through it when its bullies were in full blow. The rags of their Dulcineas hang out to dry, as if you saw them in a Dutch picture; and the passages are redolent of beer and tobacco. The sanctuary of Whitefriars is now extremely shrunk in its dimensions; and the inhabitants retain but a shadow of their privileges. The nuisance, however, existed as late as the time of William III., who put an end to it; and the neighbourhood is still of more than doubtful virtue. One alley, dignified by the title of Lombard Street, is of an infamy of such long standing, that it is said to have begun its evil courses long before the privilege of sanctuary existed, and to have maintained them up to the present moment. The Carmelites complained of it, and the neighbours complain still. In the Dramatis Personæ to Shadwell's play called the Squire of Alsatia, we have a set of characters so described as to bring us, one would think, sufficiently acquainted with the leading gentry of the neighbourhood; such as—

"Cheatley. A rascal, who by reason of debts dares not stir out of White-fryers, but there inveigles young heirs in tail, and helps them to goods and money upon great disadvantages; is bound for them, and shares for them till he undoes them. A lewd, impudent, debauch'd fellow, very expert in the cant about the town.

"Shamwell. Cousin to the Belfonds; an heir, who being ruined by Cheatley, is made a decoy-duck for others: not daring to stir out of 98 Alsatia, where he lives: is bound with Cheatley for heirs, and lives upon 'em a dissolute, debauched life.

"Capt. Hackman. A block-head bully of Alsatia; a cowardly, impudent, blustering fellow; formerly a sergeant in Flanders, run from his colours, retreated into White-fryers for a very small debt, where by the Alsatians he is dubbed a Captain, marries one that lets lodgings, sells cherry brandy, &c.

"Scrapeall. A hypocritical, repeating, praying, psalm-singing, precise fellow, pretending to great piety, a godly knave, who joins with Cheatley, and supplies young heirs with goods and money."

But Sir Walter, besides painting the place itself as if he had lived in it (vide Fortunes of Nigel, vol. ii.), puts these people in action, with a spirit beyond anything that Shadwell could have done, even though the dramatist had a bit of the Alsatian in himself—at least as far as drinking could go, and a flood of gross conversation.

Infamous, however, as this precinct was, there were some good houses in it, and some respectable inhabitants. The first Lord Sackville lived there; another inhabitant was Ogilby, who was a decent man, though a bad poet, and taught dancing; and Shirley another. It appears also to have been a resort of fencing-masters, which probably helped to bring worse company. They themselves, indeed, were in no good repute. One of them, a man of the name of Turner, living in Whitefriars, gave rise to a singular instance of revenge recorded in the State Trials. Lord Sanquire, a Scotch nobleman, in the time of James I., playing with Turner at foils, and making too great a show of his wish to put down a master of the art (probably with the insolence common to the nobility of that period), was pressed upon so hard by the man, that he received a thrust which put out one of his eyes. "This mischief," says Wilson, "was much regretted by Turner; and the baron, being conscious to himself that he meant his adversary no good, took the accident with as much patience as men that lose one eye by their own default use to do for the preservation of the other." "Some time after," continues this writer, "being in the court of the late great Henry of France, and the King (courteous to strangers), entertaining discourse with him, asked him, 'How he lost his eye:' he (cloathing his answer in a better shrowd than a plain fencer's) told him 'It was done with a sword.' The King replies, 'Doth the man live?' and that question gave an end to the discourse, but was the beginner of a strange confusion in his working fancy, which neither time nor distance could compose, carrying it in 99 his breast some years after, till he came into England, where he hired two of his countrymen, Gray and Carliel, men of low and mercenary spirits, to murther him, which they did with a case of pistols in his house in Whitefriars many years after."[85] For many years—read five—enough, however, to make such a piece of revenge extraordinary. Gray and Carliel were among his followers. Gray, however, did not assist in the murder. His mind misgave him; and Carliel got another accomplice, named Irweng. "These two, about seven o'clock in the evening (to proceed in the words of Coke's report), came to a house in the Friars, which Turner used to frequent, as he came to his school, which was near that place, and finding Turner there, they saluted one another; and Turner, with one of his friends, sat at the door asking them to drink; but Carliel and Irweng, turning about to cock the pistol, came back immediately, and Carliel, drawing it from under his coat, discharged it upon Turner, and gave him a mortal wound near the left pap; so that Turner, after having said these words, 'Lord, have mercy upon me! I am killed,' immediately fell down. Whereupon Carliel and Irweng fled, Carliel to the town, Irweng towards the river; but mistaking his way, and entering into a court where they sold wood, which was no thoroughfare, he was taken. Carliel likewise fled, and so did also the Baron of Sanchar. The ordinary officers of justice did their utmost, but could not take them; for, in fact, as appeared afterwards, Carliel fled into Scotland, and Gray towards the sea, thinking to go to Sweden, and Sanchar hid himself in England."[86]

James, who had shown such favour to the Scotch as to make the English jealous, and who also hated an ill-natured action, when it was not to do good to any of his favourites, thought himself bound to issue a promise of reward for the arrest of Sanquire and the others. It was successful; and all three were hung, Carliel and Irweng in Fleet Street, opposite the great gate of Whitefriars (the entrance of the present Bouverie Street), and Sanquire in Palace Yard, before Westminster Hall. He made a singular defence, very good and penitent, and yet remarkably illustrative of the cheap rate at which plebeian blood was held in those times; and no doubt his death was a great surprise to him. The people, not yet 100 enlightened on these points, took his demeanour in such good part, that they expressed great pity for him, till they perceived that he died a Catholic!

This and other pretended sanctuaries were at length put down by an Act of Parliament passed about the beginning of the last century. It is curious that the once lawless domain of Alsatia should have had the law itself for its neighbour; but Sir Walter has shown us, that they had more sympathies than might be expected. It was a local realisation of the old proverb of extremes meeting. We now step out of this old chaos into its quieter vicinity, which, however, was not always as quiet as it is now. The Temple, as its name imports, was once the seat of the Knights Templars, an order at once priestly and military, originating in the crusades, and whose business it was to defend the Temple at Jerusalem. How they degenerated, and what sort of vows they were in the habit of making, instead of those of chastity and humility, the modern reader need not be told, after the masterly pictures of them in the writer from whom we have just taken another set of ruffians. The Templars were dissolved in the reign of Edward II., and their house occupied by successive nobles, till it came into the possession of the law, in whose hands it was confirmed "for ever" by James I. We need not enter into the origin of its division into two parts, the Inner and Middle Temple. Suffice to say, that the word Middle, which implies a third Temple, refers to an outer one, or third portion of the old buildings, which does not appear to have been ever occupied by lawyers, but came into possession of the celebrated Essex family, whose name is retained in the street where it was situated, on the other side of Temple Bar. There is nothing remaining of the ancient buildings but the church built in 1185, which is a curiosity justly admired, particularly for its effigies of knights, some of whose cross legs indicate that they had either been to the Holy Land, or have been supposed to or vowed to go thither. One of the band is ascertained to have been Geoffrey de Magnavile, Earl of Essex, who was killed at Benwell in Cambridgeshire, in 1148. Among the others are supposed to be the Marshals, first, second, and third Earls of Pembroke, who all died in the early part of the thirteenth century. But even these have not been identified upon any satisfactory grounds; and with regard to some of the rest, not so much as a probable conjecture has been offered. 101


As it is an opinion still prevailing, that these cross-legged knights are Knights Templars, we have copied below the most complete information respecting them which we have hitherto met with. And the passage is otherwise curious.[87]


The two Temples, or law colleges, occupy a large space of ground between Whitefriars and Essex Street; Fleet Street bounding them on the north, and the river on the south. They compose an irregular mass of good substantial houses, in lanes and open places, the houses being divided into chambers, or floors for separate occupants, some of which are let to persons not in the profession. The garden about forty years ago was enlarged, and a muddy tract under it, on the side of the Thames, converted into a pleasant walk. This garden is still not very large, but it deserves its name both for trees and flowers. There is a descent into it after the Italian fashion, from a court with a fountain in it, surrounded with trees, through which the view of the old walls and buttresses of the Middle Temple Hall is much admired. But a poet's hand has touched the garden, and made it bloom with roses above the real. It is the scene in Shakspeare, of the origin of the factions of York and Lancaster. 103


"Since you are tongue-ty'd, and so loth to speak,

In dumb significence proclaim your thoughts;

Let him that is a true born gentleman,

And stands upon the honour of his birth,

If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,

From off this brier pluck a white rose with me.


Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer,

But dare maintain the party of the truth,

Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me.


I love no colours; and, without all colour

Of base insinuating flattery,

I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet.


I pluck this red rose with young Somerset;

And say withal I think he held the right."

There were formerly rooks in the Temple trees, a colony brought by Sir Edward Northey, a well-known lawyer in Queen Anne's time, from his grounds at Epsom. It was a pleasant thought, supposing that the colonists had no objection. The rook is a grave legal bird, both in his coat and habits; living in communities, yet to himself; and strongly addicted to discussions of meum and tuum. The neighbourhood, however, appears to have been too much for him; for, upon inquiring on the spot, we were told that there had been no rooks for many years.

The oldest mention of the Temple as a place for lawyers has been commonly said to be found in a passage of Chaucer, who is reported to have been of the Temple himself. It is in his character of the Manciple, or Steward, whom he pleasantly pits against his learned employers, as outwitting even themselves:

"A gentle manciple was there of a temple,

Of which achatours (purchasers) mighten take ensample,

For to ben wise in buying of vitáille.

For whether that be paid, or took by taille,

Algate he waited so in his achate,

That he was ay before in good estate;

Now is not that of God a full fair grace,

That such a lewèd (ignorant) mannès wit shall pass

The wisdom of a heap of learned men?"[88]

104 Spenser, in his epic way, not disdaining to bring the homeliest images into his verse, for the sake of the truth in them, speaks of—

—— "those bricky towers

The which on Thames' broad aged back do ride,

Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers;

There whilom wont the Templar Knights to bide,

Till they decayed through pride."[89]

The "studious lawyers," in their towers by the water side, present a quiet picture. Yet in those times, it seems, they were apt to break into overt actions of vivacity, a little excessive, and such as the habit of restraint inclines people to, before they have arrived at years of discretion. In Henry VIII.'s time the gentlemen of the Temple were addicted to "shove and slip-groats,"[90] which became forbidden them under a penalty; and in the age in which Spenser wrote, so many encounters had taken place, of a dangerous description, that Templars were prohibited from carrying any other weapon into the hall (the dining room), "than a dagger or knife,"—"as if," says Mr. Malcolm, "those were not more than sufficient to accomplish unpremeditated deaths."[91] We are to suppose, however, that gentlemen would not kill each other, except with swords. The dagger, or carving knife, which it was customary to carry about the person in those days, was for the mutton.[92]

A better mode of recreating and giving vent to their 105 animal spirits, was the custom prevalent among the lawyers at that period of presenting masques and pageants. They were great players, with a scholarly taste for classical subjects; and the gravest of them did not disdain to cater in this way for the amusement of their fellows, sometimes for that of crowned heads. The name of Bacon is to be found among the "getters up" of a show at Gray's Inn, for the entertainment of the sovereign; and that of Hyde, on a similar occasion, in the reign of Charles I.

A masque has come down to us written by William Browne, a disciple of Spenser, expressly for the society of which he was a member, and entitled the Inner Temple Masque. It is upon the story of Circe and Ulysses, and is worthy of the school of poetry out of which he came. Beaumont wrote another, called the Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn. A strong union has always existed between the law and the belles-lettres, highly creditable to the former, or rather naturally to be expected from the mode in which lawyers begin their education, and the diversity of knowledge which no men are more in the way of acquiring afterwards. Blackstone need not have written his farewell to the Muses. If he had been destined to be a poet, he could not have taken his leave; and, as an accomplished lawyer, he was always within the pale of the literæ humaniores. The greatest practical lawyers, such as Coke and Plowden, may not have been the most literary, but those who have understood the law in the greatest and best spirit have; and the former, great as they may be, are yet but as servants and secretaries to the rest. They know where to find, but the others know best how to apply. Bacon, Clarendon, Selden, Somers, Cowper, Mansfield, were all men of letters. So are the Broughams and Campbells of the present day. Pope says, that Mansfield would have been another Ovid. This may be doubted; but nobody should doubt that the better he understood a poet, the fitter he was for universality of judgment. The greatest lawyer is the greatest legislator.

The "pert Templar," of whom we hear so much between the reigns of the Stuarts and the late King, came up with the growth of literature and the coffee-houses. Every body then began to write or to criticise; and young men, brought up in the mooting of points, and in the confidence of public speaking, naturally pressed among the foremost. Besides, a variety of wits had issued from the Temple in the reign of 106 Charles and his brother, and their successors in lodging took themselves for their heirs in genius. The coffee-houses by this time had become cheap places to talk in. They were the regular morning lounge and evening resource; and every lad who had dipped his finger and thumb into Dryden's snuff-box, thought himself qualified to dictate for life. In Pope's time these pretensions came to be angrily rejected, partly, perhaps, because none of the reigning wits, with the exception of Congreve, had had a Temple education.

"Three college sophs, and three pert Templars came,

The same their talents, and their tastes the same;

Each prompt to query, answer, and debate,

And smit with love of poetry and prate."[93]

We could quote many other passages to the same purpose, but we shall come to one presently which will suffice for all, and exhibit the young Templar of those days in all the glory of his impertinence. At present the Templars make no more pretensions than other well-educated men. Many of them are still connected with the literature of the day, but in the best manner and with the soundest views; and if there is no pretension to wit, there is the thing itself. It would be endless to name all the celebrated lawyers who have had to do with the Temple. Besides, we shall have to notice the most eminent of them in other places, where they passed a greater portion of their lives. We shall therefore confine ourselves to the mention of such as have lived in it without being lawyers, or thrown a grace over it in connection with wit and literature.

Chaucer, as we have just observed, is thought, upon slight evidence, to have been of the Temple. We know not who the Mr. Buckley was, that says he saw his name in the record; and the name, if there, might have been that of some other Chaucer. The name is said to be not unfrequent in records under the Norman dynasty. We are told by Thynne, in his Animadversions on Speght's edition of the poet's works (published a few years ago from the manuscript by Mr. Todd, in his Illustrations of Chaucer and Gower), that "it is most certain to be gathered by circumstances of records that the lawyers were not in the Temple until towards the latter part of the reign of King Edward III., at which time Chaucer was a grave man, holden in great credit, and employed in embassy." "So that methinketh," adds the 107 writer, "he should not be of that house; and yet, if he then were, I should judge it strange that he should violate the rules of peace and gravity in those years."

The first English tragedy of any merit, Gorbuduc, was written in the Temple by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, afterwards the celebrated statesman, and founder of the title of Dorset. He was author of a noble performance, the Induction for the Mirrour of Magistrates, in which there is a foretaste of the allegorical gusto of Spenser. Raleigh was of the Temple; Selden, who died in Whitefriars; Lord Clarendon; Beaumont; two other of our old dramatists, Ford and Marston (the latter of whom was lecturer of the Middle Temple); Wycherly, whom it is said the Duchess of Cleveland used to visit, in the habit of a milliner; Congreve, Rowe, Fielding, Burke, and Cowper. Goldsmith was not of the Temple, but he had chambers in it, died there, and was buried in the Temple Church. He resided, first on the Library Staircase, afterwards in King's Bench Walk, and finally at No. 2, Brick Court, where he had a first floor elegantly furnished. It was in one of the former lodgings that, being visited by Dr. Johnson, and expressing something like a shame-faced hope that he should soon be in lodgings better furnished, "Johnson," says Boswell, "at the same time checked him, and paid him a handsome compliment, implying that a man of talent should be above attention to such distinctions. 'Nay, sir, never mind that: Nil te quæsiveris extra.'[94] (It is only yourself that need be looked for). He died in Brick Court. It is said that when he was on his deathbed, the landing-place was filled with inquirers, not of the most mentionable description, who lamented him heartily, for he was lavish of his money as he went along Fleet Street. We are told by one of the writers of the life prefixed to his works (probably Bishop Percy, who contributed the greater part of it), that "he was generous in the extreme, and so strongly affected by compassion, that he has been known at midnight to abandon his rest in order to procure relief and an asylum for a poor dying object who was left destitute in the streets." This, surely, ought to be praise to no man, however benevolent: but it is, in the present state of society. However, the offices of the good Samaritan are now reckoned among the things that may be practised as well as preached, without diminution of a man's reputation for common-sense; and this is a great step. 108 We will here mention, that Goldsmith had another residence in Fleet Street. He wrote his Vicar of Wakefield in Wine Office Court. Of the curious circumstances under which this delightful novel was sold, various inaccurate accounts have been given. The following is Boswell's account, taken from Dr. Johnson's own mouth:—

"I received one morning," said Johnson, "a message from poor Goldsmith, that he was in great distress, and as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went to him as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit; told the landlady I should soon return, and having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill."[95]

Johnson himself lived for some time in the Temple. It was there that he was first visited by his biographer, who took rooms in Farrar's Buildings in order to be near him. His appearance and manners on this occasion, especially as our readers are now of the party, are too characteristic to be omitted. "His chambers," says Boswell, "were on the first floor of No. 1, Middle Temple Lane—and I entered them with an impression given me by the Rev. Dr. Blair, of Edinburgh, who had been introduced to him not long before, and described his having 'found the giant in his den,' an expression which, when I came to be pretty well acquainted with Johnson, I repeated to him, and he was diverted at this picturesque account of himself....

"He received me very courteously; but it must be confessed that his apartment, and furniture, and morning dress, were sufficiently uncouth. His brown suit of clothes looked very rusty; he had on a little shrivelled unpowdered wig, which was too small for his head; his shirt-neck and knees of his breeches were loose; his black worsted stockings ill-drawn up; and he had a pair of unbuckled shoes by way of slippers. But all these slovenly particularities were forgotten the moment he began to talk. Some gentlemen, whom I do not recollect, were sitting with him; and when they went away, I also rose; but he said to me, 'Nay, don't go.'—'Sir,' said I, 'I am afraid that I intrude upon you. It is benevolent to allow me to sit and hear you.' He seemed pleased with this compliment which I 109 sincerely paid him, and answered, 'Sir, I am obliged to any man who visits me.'"[96] (He meant that it relieved his melancholy.)"

It was in a dress of this sort, and without his hat, that he was seen rushing one day after two of the highest-bred visitors conceivable, in order to hand one of them to her coach. These were his friend Beauclerc, of the St. Albans family, and Madame de Boufflers, mother (if we mistake not) of the Chevalier de Boufflers, the celebrated French wit. Her report, when she got home, must have been overwhelming; but she was clever and amiable, like her son, and is said to have appreciated the talents of the great uncouth. Beauclerc, however, must repeat the story:—

"When Madame de Boufflers," says he, "was first in England, she was desirous to see Johnson. I accordingly went with her to his chambers in the Temple, where she was entertained with his conversation for some time. When our visit was over, she and I left him, and were got into Inner Temple Lane, when all at once I heard a noise like thunder. This was occasioned by Johnson, who, it seems, on a little recollection, had taken it into his head that he ought to have done the honours of his literary residence to a foreign lady of quality; and eager to show himself a man of gallantry, was hurrying down the stairs in violent agitation. He overtook us before we reached the Temple-gate, and brushing in between me and Madame de Boufflers, seized her hand and conducted her to the coach. His dress was a rusty-brown morning suit, a pair of old shoes by way of slippers, a little shrivelled wig sticking on the top of his head, and the sleeves of his shirt and the knees of his breeches hanging loose. A considerable crowd of people gathered round, and were not a little struck by his singular appearance."[97]

It was in the Inner Temple Lane one night, being seized with a fit of merriment at something that touched his fancy, not without the astonishment of his companions, who could not see the joke, that Johnson went roaring all the way to the Temple-gate; where, being arrived, he burst into such a convulsive laugh, says Boswell, that in order to support himself he "laid hold of one of the posts at the side of the foot-pavement, and sent forth peals so loud, that in the silence of the night, his voice seemed to resound from Temple-bar to Fleet-ditch. This most ludicrous exhibition," continues his follower, "of the awful, melancholy, and venerable Johnson, happened well to counteract the feelings of sadness which I used to experience when parting from him for a considerable time. I accompanied him to his door, where he gave me his blessing."[98]


Between the Temple-gates, at one time, lived Bernard Lintot, who was in no better esteem with authors than the other great bookseller of those times, Jacob Tonson. There is a pleasant anecdote of Dr. Young's addressing him a letter by mistake, which Bernard opened, and found it begin thus:—"That Bernard Lintot is so great a scoundrel."—"It must have been very amusing," said Young, "to have seen him in his rage: he was a great sputtering fellow."[99]

Between the gates and Temple-bar, but nearer to the latter, was the famous Devil Tavern, where Ben Jonson held his club. Messrs. Child, the bankers, bought it in 1787, and the present houses were erected on its site. We believe that the truly elegant house of Messrs. Hoare, their successors, does not interfere with the place on which it stood. We rather think it was very near to Temple-bar, perhaps within a house or two. The club-room, which was afterwards frequently used for balls, was called the Apollo, and was large and handsome, with a gallery for music. Probably the house had originally been a private abode of some consequence. The Leges Conviviales, which Jonson wrote for his club, and which are to be found in his works, are composed in his usual style of elaborate and compiled learning, not without a taste of that dictatorial self-sufficiency, which, notwithstanding all that has been said by his advocates, and the good qualities he undoubtedly possessed, forms an indelible part of his character. "Insipida poemata," says he, "nulla recitantur" (Let nobody repeat to us insipid poetry); as if all that he should read of his own must infallibly be otherwise. The club at the Devil does not appear to have resembled the higher one at the Mermaid, where Shakspeare and Beaumont used to meet him. He most probably had it all to himself. This is the tavern mentioned by Pope:—

"And each true Briton is to Ben so civil,

He swears the Muses met him at the Devil."

It was in good repute at the beginning of the last century. "I dined to-day," says Swift, in one of his letters to Stella, "with Dr. Garth and Mr. Addison at the Devil Tavern, near Temple-bar, and Garth treated: and it is well I dine every day, else I should be longer making out my letters; for we are yet in a very dull state, only inquiring every day after new elections, where the Tories carry it among the new 111 members six to one. Mr. Addison's election has passed easy and undisputed; and I believe if he had a mind to be chosen king, he would hardly be refused."[100] Yet Addison was a Whig. Addison had not then had his disputes with Pope and others; and his intercourse, till his sincerity became doubted, was very delightful. It is impossible to read of those famous wits dining together and not lingering upon the occasion a little, and wishing we could have heard them talk. Yet wits have their uneasiness, because of their wit. Swift was probably not very comfortable at this dinner. He was then beginning to feel awkward with his Whig friends; and Garth, in the previous month of September, had written a defence of Godolphin, the ousted Minister, which was unhandsomely attacked in the Examiner by their common acquaintance Prior, himself formerly a Whig.

There was a multitude of famous shops and coffee-houses in this quarter, all of which make a figure in the Tatler and other works, such as Nando's coffee-house; Dick's (still extant as Richard's); the Rainbow (which is said to have been indicted in former times for the nuisance of selling coffee); Ben Tooke's (the bookseller); Lintot's; and Charles Mather's, alias Bubble-boy, the Toyman, who, when Sir Timothy Shallow accuses him of selling him a cane "for ten pieces, while Tom Empty had as good a one for five," exclaims, "Lord! Sir Timothy, I am concerned that you, whom I took to understand canes better than anybody in town, should be so overseen! Why, Sir Timothy, yours is a true jambee, and esquire Empty's only a plain dragon."[101]

The fire of London stopped at the Temple Exchange coffee-house; a circumstance which is recorded in an inscription, stating the house to have been the last of the houses burnt, and the first restored. The old front of this house was taken down about a century ago; but on its being rebuilt, the stone with the inscription was replaced.

But we must now cross over the way to Shire Lane, which is close to Temple Bar on the opposite side.


Here, "in ancient times," says Maitland, writing in the middle of the last century, "were only posts, rails, and a chain, such as are now at Holborn, Smithfield, and Whitechapel bars. Afterwards there was a house of timber erected across the street, with a narrow gateway, and an entry on the south side of it under the house." The present gate was built by Wren after the great fire, but although the work of so great a master, is hardly worth notice as a piece of architecture. It must be allowed that Wren could do poor things as well as good, even when not compelled by a vestry. As the last of the city gates, however, we confess we should be sorry to see it pulled down, though we believe there is a general sense that it is in the way. If it were handsome or venerable we should plead hard for it, because it would then be a better thing than a mere convenience. The best thing we know of it is a jest of Goldsmith's; and the worst, the point on which the jest turned. Goldsmith was coming from Westminster Abbey, with Dr. Johnson, where they had been looking at the tombs in Poets' Corner, and Johnson had quoted a line from Ovid:—

"Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis."

(Perhaps, some day, our names may mix with theirs.)

"When we got to Temple Bar," says Johnson, "Goldsmith stopped me, pointed to the heads upon it, and slily whispered to me ('in allusion,' says Boswell, 'to Dr. Johnson's supposed political opinions, and perhaps to his own,')

"'Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.'"

(Perhaps, some day, our names may mix with theirs.)

These heads belonged to the rebels who were executed for rising in favour of the Pretender. The brutality of such spectacles, which outrage the last feelings of mortality, and as often punish honest mistakes as anything else, is not likely to be repeated. Yet such an effect has habit in reconciling men's minds to the most revolting, and sometimes the most dangerous customs, that here were two Jacobites, one of whom made a jest of what we should now regard with horror. However, Johnson must often have felt bitterly as he passed there; and the jesting of such men is frequently nothing but salve for a wound.

Shire Lane still keeps its name, and we hope, however altered and improved, it will never have any other; for here, the upper end, is described as residing, old Isaac Bickerstaff, 113 the Tatler, the more venerable but not the more delightful double of Richard Steele, the founder of English periodical literature. The public-house called the Trumpet, now known as the Duke of York, at which the Tatler met his club, is still remaining. At his house in the lane he dates a great number of his papers, and receives many interesting visitors; and here it was that he led down into Fleet Street that immortal deputation of "twaddlers" from the country, who, as a celebrated writer has observed, hardly seem to have settled their question of precedence to this hour.[102]

In Shire Lane is said to have originated the famous Kit-Kat Club, which consisted of "thirty-nine distinguished noblemen and gentlemen, zealously attached to the Protestant succession of the house of Hanover." "The club," continues a note in Spence by the editor, "is supposed to have derived its name from Christopher Katt, a pastry-cook, who kept the house where they dined, and excelled in making mutton-pies, which always formed a part of their bill of fare; these pies, on account of their excellence, were called Kit-Kats. The summer meetings were sometimes held at the Upper Flask on Hampstead Heath."[103]

"You have heard of the Kit-Kat Club," says Pope to Spence. "The master of the house where the club met was Christopher Katt; Tonson was secretary. The day Lord Mohun and the Earl of Berwick were entered of it, Jacob said he saw they were just going to be ruined. When Lord Mohun broke down the gilded emblem on the top of his chair, Jacob complained to his friends, and said a man who would do that, would cut a man's throat. So that he had the good and the forms of the society much at heart. The paper was all in Lord Halifax's handwriting of a subscription of four hundred guineas for the encouragement of good comedies, and was dated 1709, soon after they broke up. Steele, Addison, Congreve, Garth, Vanbrugh, Manwaring, Stepney, Walpole, and Pulteney, were of it; so was Lord Dorset and the present Duke. Manwaring, whom we hear nothing of now, was the ruling man in all conversations; indeed, what he wrote had very little merit in it. Lord Stanhope and the Earl of Essex were also members. Jacob has his own, and all their pictures, by Sir Godfrey Kneller. Each member gave his, and he is going to build a room for them at Barn Elms."[104]

It is from the size at which these portraits were taken (a three-quarter length), that the word Kit-Kat came to be applied to pictures. The society afterwards met in higher places; but humbleness of locality is nothing in these matters. The refinement consists in the company, and in whatever they 114 choose to throw a grace over, whether venison or beef. The great thing is, not the bill of fare, but, as Swift called it, the "bill of company."

We cross to the south side of the street again, and come to Mrs. Salmon's. It is a curious evidence of the fluctuation of the great tide in commercial and growing cities, that, a century ago, this immortal old gentlewoman, renowned for her wax-work, gives as a reason for removing from St. Martin's-le-Grand to Fleet Street, that it was "a more convenient place for the coaches of the quality to stand unmolested."[105] Some of the houses in this quarter are of the Elizabethan age, with floors projecting over the others, and looking pressed together like burrows. The inmates of these humble tenements (unlike those of great halls and mansions) seem as if they must have had their heights taken, and the ceiling made to fit. Yet the builders were liberal of their materials. Over the way, near the west corner of Chancery Lane, stood an interesting specimen of this style of building, in the house of the famous old angler, Isaac Walton.

Walton's was the second house from the lane, the corner house being an inn, long distinguished by the sign of the Harrow. He appears to have long lived here, carrying on the business of a linen-draper about the year 1624. Another person, John Mason, a hosier, occupied one-half of the tenement. Walton afterwards removed to another house in Chancery Lane, a few doors up from Fleet Street, on the west side, where he kept a sempster's, or milliner's shop.

A great deal has been said lately of the merits and demerits of angling, and Isaac has suffered in the discussion, beyond what is agreeable to the lovers of that gentle pleasure. Unfortunately the brothers of the angle do not argue ingenuously. They always omit the tortures suffered by the principal party, and affect to think you affected if you urge them; whereas their only reason for avoiding the point is, that it is not to be defended. If it is, we may defend, by an equal abuse of reason, any amusement which is to be obtained at another being's expense; and an evil genius might angle for ourselves, and twitch us up, bleeding and roaring, into an atmosphere that would stifle us. But fishes do not roar; they cannot express any sound of suffering; and therefore the angler chooses to think they do not suffer, more than it is convenient to him to fancy. Now it is a poor sport that depends for 115 its existence on the want of a voice in the sufferer, and of imagination in the sportsman. Angling, in short, is not to be defended on any ground of reflection; and this is the worst thing to say of Isaac; for he was not unaware of the objections to his amusement, and he piqued himself upon being contemplative.

Anglers have been defended upon the ground of their having had among them so many pious men; but unfortunately men may be selfishly as well as nobly pious; and even charity itself may be practised, as well as cruelty deprecated, upon principles which have a much greater regard to a man's own safety and future comfort, than anything which concerns real Christian beneficence. Doubtless there have been many good and humane men anglers, as well as many pleasant men. There have also been some very unpleasant ones—Sir John Hawkins among them. They make a well-founded pretension to a love of nature and her scenery; but it is a pity they cannot relish it without this pepper to the poor fish. Walton's book contains many passages in praise of rural enjoyment, which affect us almost like the fields and fresh air themselves, though his brethren have exalted it beyond its value; and his lives of his angling friends, the Divines, have been preposterously over-rated. If angling is to be defended upon good and manly grounds, let it; it is no longer to be defended on any other. The best thing to be said for it (and the instance is worthy of reflection) is, that anglers have been brought up in the belief of its innocence, and that an inhuman custom is too powerful for the most humane. The inconsistency is to be accounted for on no other grounds; nor is it necessary or desirable that it should be. It is a remarkable illustration of what Plato said, when something was defended on the ground of its being a trifle, because it was a custom. "But custom," said he, "is no trifle." Here, among persons of a more equivocal description, are some of the humanest men in the world, who will commit what other humane men reckon among the most inhuman actions, and make an absolute pastime of it. Let one of their grandchildren be brought up in the reverse opinion, and see what he will think of it. This, to be sure, might be said to be only another instance of the effect of education; but nobody, the most unprejudiced, thinks it a bigotry in Shakspeare and Steele to have brought us to feel for the brute creation in general; and whatever we may incline to think for the accommodation of our propensities, 116 there will still remain the unanswered and always avoided argument, of the dumb and torn fish themselves, who die agonised, in the midst of our tranquil looking on, and for no necessity.

John Whitney, author of the Genteel Recreation, or the Pleasures of Angling, a poem printed in the year 1700, recommends the lovers of the art to bait with the eyes of fish, in order to decoy others of the same species. A writer in the Censura Literaria exclaims, "What a Nero of Anglers doth this proclaim John Whitney to have been! and how unworthy to be ranked as a lover of the same pastime, which had been so interestingly recommended by Isaac Walton, in his Contemplative Man's Recreation."[106]

But Isaac's contemplative man can content himself with impaling live worms, and jesting about the tenderness with which he treats them—using the worm, quoth Isaac, "as if you loved him." Doubtless John thought himself as good a man as Isaac. He poetizes, and is innocent with the best of them, and probably would not have hurt a dog. However, it must be allowed that he had less imagination than Walton, and was more cruel, inasmuch as he could commit a cruelty that was not the custom. Observe, nevertheless, that it was the customary cruelty which led to the new one. Why must these contemplative men commit any cruelty at all? The writer of the article in the Censura was, if we mistake not, one of the kindest of human beings, and yet he could see nothing erroneous in torturing a worm. "A good man," says the Scripture, "is merciful to his beast." Therefore "holy Mr. Herbert" very properly helps a horse out of a ditch, and is the better for it all the rest of the day. Are we not to be merciful to fish as well as beasts, merely because the Scripture does not expressly state it? Such are the inconsistencies of mankind, during their very acquirement of beneficence.

On the other side of the corner of Chancery Lane was born a man of genius and benevolence, who would not have hurt a fly—Abraham Cowley. His father was a grocer; himself, one of the kindest, wisest, and truest gentlemen that ever graced humanity. He has been pronounced by one, competent to judge, to have been "if not a great poet, a great man." But his poetry is what every other man's poetry is, the flower of what was in him; and it is at least so 117 far good poetry, as it is the quintessence of amiable and deep reflection, not without a more festive strain, the result of his sociality. Pope says of him—

"Forgot his epic, nay pindaric art;

Yet still we love the language of his heart."[107]

His prose is admirable, and his character of Cromwell a masterpiece of honest enmity, more creditable to both parties than the zealous royalist was aware. Cowley, notwithstanding the active part he took in politics, never ceased to be a child at heart. His mind lived in books and bowers—in the sequestered "places of thought;" and he wondered and lamented to the last, that he had not realised the people he found there. His consolation should have been, that what he found in himself was an evidence that the people exist.

Chancery Lane, "the most ancient of any to the west," having been built in the time of Henry the Third, when it was called New Lane, which was afterwards altered to Chancellor's Lane, is the greatest legal thoroughfare in England. It leads from the Temple, passes by Sergeants' Inn, Clifford's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, and the Rolls, and conducts to Gray's Inn. Of the world of vice and virtue, of pain and triumph, of learning and ignorance, truth and chicanery, of impudence, violence, and tranquil wisdom, that must have passed through this spot, the reader may judge accordingly. There all the great and eloquent lawyers of the metropolis must have been, at some time or other, from Fortescue and Littleton, to Coke, Ellesmere, and Erskine. Sir Thomas More must have been seen going down with his weighty aspect; Bacon with his eye of intuition; the coarse Thurlow; and the reverend elegance of Mansfield. In Chancery Lane was born the celebrated Lord Strafford, who was sent to the block by the party he had deserted, the victim of his own false strength and his master's weakness. It is a curious evidence of the secret manners of those times, which are so often contrasted with the licence of the next reign, that Clarendon, in speaking of some love-letters of this lord, a married man, which transpired during his trial, calls them "things of levity." What would he have said had he found any love letters between Lady Carlisle and Pym? Of Southampton Buildings, on the site of which lived Shakspeare's friend, Lord Southampton, we shall speak immediately; 118 and we shall notice Lincoln's Inn when we come to the Western portion of Holborn. But we may here observe, that on the wall of the Inn, which is in Chancery Lane, Ben Jonson is said to have worked, at the time he was compelled to assist his father-in-law at his trade of bricklaying. In the intervals of his trowel, he is said to have handled his Horace and Virgil. It is only a tradition, which Fuller has handed down to us in his Worthies; but tradition is valuable when it helps to make such a flower grow upon an old wall.

Sergeants' Inn, the first leading out of Chancery Lane, near Fleet Street, has been what its name implies for many generations. It was occasionally occupied by the Sergeants as early as the time of Henry the Fourth, when it was called Farringdon's Inn, though they have never, we believe, held possession of the place but under tenure to the bishops of Ely, or their lessees. Pennant confounds this inn with another of the same name, now no longer devoted to the same purpose, in Fleet Street.[108] Sergeants' Inn in Fleet Street was reduced to ruins in the great fire, but was soon after rebuilt in a much more uniform style than before. It continued after this to be occupied by the lawyers in 1730, when the whole was taken down, and the present court erected. The office of the Amicable Annuitant Society, on the east side of the court, occupies the site of the ancient hall and chapel. All the judges, as having been Sergeants-at-law before their elevation to the bench, have still chambers in the inn in Chancery Lane. The windows of this house are filled with the armorial bearings of the members, who, when they are knighted, are emphatically equites aurati (knights made golden), at least as far as rings are concerned, for they give rings on the occasion, with mottoes expressive of their sentiments upon law and justice. As to the equites, learned "knights" or horsemen (till "knight" be restored to its original meaning—servant) will never be anything but an anomaly, especially since the brethren no longer even ride to the Hall as they used. The arms of the body of Sergeants are a golden shield with an ibis upon it; or, to speak scientifically, "Or, an Ibis proper;" to which Mr. Jekyll might have added, for motto, "In medio tutissimus." The same learned punster made an epigram upon the oratory and scarlet robes of his brethren, which may be here repeated 119 without offence, as the Sergeants have had among them some of the best as well as most tiresome of speakers:

"The Sergeants are a grateful race;

Their dress and language show it;

Their purple robes from Tyre we trace,

Their arguments go to it."

One of the customs which used to be observed so late as the reign of Charles I. in the creation of sergeants, was for the new dignitary to go in procession to St. Paul's, and there to choose his pillar, as it was expressed. This ceremony is supposed to have originated in the ancient practice of the lawyers taking each his station at one of the pillars in the cathedral, and there waiting for clients. The legal sage stood, it is said, with pen in hand, and dexterously noted down the particulars of every man's case on his knee.

Clifford's Inn, leading out of Sergeants' Inn into Fleet Street and Fetter Lane, is so called from the noble family of De Clifford, who granted it to the students-at-law in the reign of Edward III. The word inn (Saxon, chamber), though now applied only to law places, and the better sort of public-houses in which travellers are entertained, formerly signified a great house, mansion, or family palace. So Lincoln's Inn, the mansion of the Earls of Lincoln; Gray's Inn, of the Lords Gray, &c. The French still use the word hôtel in the same sense. Inn once made as splendid a figure in our poetry, as the palaces of Milton:

"Now whenas Phœbus, with his fiery waine,

Unto his inne began to draw apace;"[109]

says Spenser; and his disciple Browne after him:

"Now had the glorious sun tane up his inne."[110]

There are three things to notice in Clifford's Inn: its little bit of turf and trees; its quiet; and its having been the residence of Robert Pultock, author of the curious narrative Peter Wilkins, with its Flying Women. Who he was, is not known; probably a barrister without practice; but he wrote an amiable and interesting book. As to the sudden and pleasant quiet in this little inn, it is curious to consider what a small remove from the street produces it. But even in the back room of a shop in the main street, the sound of the carts and carriages becomes wonderfully deadened to the ear; and a remove, like Clifford's Inn, makes it remote or nothing.


The garden of Clifford's Inn forms part of the area of the Rolls, so called from the records kept there, in rolls of parchment. It is said to have been the house of an eminent Jew, forfeited to the crown; that is to say, it was most probably taken from him, with all that it contained, by Henry III., who made it a house for converts from the owner's religion. These converted Jews, most likely none of the best of their race (for board and lodging are not arguments to the scrupulous), appear to have been so neglected, that the number of them soon came to nothing, and Edward III. gave the place to the Court of Chancery to keep its records in. There is a fine monument in the chapel to a Dr. Young, one of the Masters, which, according to Vertue, was executed by Torregiano, who built the splendid tomb in Henry VII.'s Chapel. Sir John Trevor, infamous for bribery and corruption, also lies here. "Wisely," says Pennant, "his epitaph is thus confined: 'Sir J. T. M.R. 1717.' "Some other Masters," he adds, "rest within the walls; among them Sir John Strange, but without the quibbling line,

'Here lies an honest lawyer, that is Strange.'"

Another Master of the Rolls, who did honour to the profession, was Sir Joseph Jekyll, recorded by Pope as an

... "odd old Whig,

Who never changed his principles or wig."

When Jekyll came into the office, many of the houses were rebuilt, and to the expense of ten of them he added, out of his own purse, as much as 350l. each house; observing, that "he would have them built as strong and as well as if they were his own inheritance."[111] The Master of the Rolls is a great law dignitary, a sort of under-judge in Chancery, presiding in a court by himself, though his most ostensible office is to take care of the records in question. He has a house and garden on the spot, the latter secluded from public view. The house, however, has not been used as a residence by the present holder of the office or his predecessor.

Between Chancery and Fetter Lane is the new church of St. Dunstan's in the West—a great improvement upon the old one, though a little too plain below for the handsome fretwork of its steeple. The old building was eminent for the two wooden figures of wild men, who, with a gentleness not to be expected of them, struck the hour with a little tap of 121 their clubs. At the same time they moved their arms and heads, with a like avoidance of superfluous action. These figures were put up in the time of Charles II., and were thought not to confer much honour on the passengers who stood "gaping" to see them strike. But the passengers might surely be as alive to the puerility as any one else. An absurdity is not the least attractive thing in this world. They who objected to the gapers, probably admired more things than they laughed at. It must be remembered also, that when the images were set up, mechanical contrivances were much rarer than they are now. Two centuries ago, St. Dunstan's Churchyard, as it was called, being the portion of Fleet Street in front of the church, was famous for its booksellers' shops. The church escaped the great fire, which stopped within three houses of it, and consequently was one of the most ancient sacred edifices in London. It was supposed to have been built about the end of the fourteenth century, but had undergone extensive repairs. Besides the clock with the figures, it was adorned by a statue of Queen Elizabeth, which stood in a niche over the east end, and had been transferred thither about the middle of last century from the west side of old Ludgate, which was then removed.

The only repute of Fetter Lane in the present days is, or was, for sausages. But at one time it is said to have had the honour of Dryden's presence. The famous Praise God Barebones also, it seems, lived here, in a house for which he paid forty pounds a year, as he stated in his examination on a trial in the reign of Charles II.[112] He paid the above rent, he says "except during the war:" that is, we suppose, during the confusion of the contest between the King and the Parliament, when probably this worthy contrived to live rent free. In this neighbourhood also dwelt the infamous Elizabeth Brownrigg, who was executed in 1767 for the murder of one of her apprentices. Her house, with the cellar in which she used to confine her starved and tortured victims, and from the grating of which their cries of distress were heard, was one of those on the east side of the lane, looking into the long and narrow alley behind, called Flower-de-Luce Court. It was some years ago in the occupation of a fishing-tackle maker.

Johnson once lived in Fetter Lane, but the circumstances of his abode there have not transpired. We now, however, come to a cluster of his residences in Fleet Street, of which 122 place he is certainly the great presiding spirit, the Genius loci. He was conversant for the greater part of his life with this street, was fond of it, frequented its Mitre Tavern above any other in London, and has identified its name and places with the best things he ever said and did. It was in Fleet Street, we believe, that he took the poor girl up in his arms, put her to bed in his own house, and restored her to health and her friends; an action sufficient to redeem a million of the asperities of temper occasioned by disease, and to stamp him, in spite of his bigotry, a good Christian. Here, at all events, he walked and talked, and shouldered wondering porters out of the way, and mourned, and philosophised, and was "a good-natured fellow" (as he called himself), and roared with peals of laughter till midnight echoed to his roar.

"We walked in the evening," says Boswell, "in Greenwich Park. He asked me, I suppose by way of trying my disposition, 'Is not this very fine?' Having no exquisite relish of the beauties of nature, and being more delighted with the busy hum of men, I answered, 'Yes, sir; but not equal to Fleet Street.' Johnson. 'You are right, sir.'"[113]

Boswell vindicates the tastes here expressed by the example of a "very fashionable baronet," who, on his attention being called to the fragrance of a May evening in the country, observed, "This may be very well, but I prefer the smell of a flambeau at the playhouse." The baronet here alluded to was Sir Michael le Fleming, who, by way of comment on his indifference to fresh air, died of an apoplectic fit while conversing with Lord Howick (the late Earl Grey), at the Admiralty.[114] However, Johnson's ipse dixit was enough. He wanted neither Boswell's vindication, nor any other. He was melancholy, and glad to be taken from his thoughts; and London furnished him with an endless flow of society.

Johnson's abodes in Fleet Street were in the following order:—First, in Fetter Lane, then in Boswell Court, then in Gough Square, in the Inner Temple Lane, in Johnson's Court, and finally, and for the longest period, in Bolt Court, where he died. His mode of life, during a considerable portion of his residence in these places, is described in a communication to Boswell by the Rev. Dr. Maxwell, assistant preacher at the Temple, who was intimate with Johnson for many years, and who spoke of his memory with affection.


"About twelve o'clock," says the doctor, "I commonly visited him, and found him in bed, or declaiming over his tea, which he drank very plentifully. He generally had a levee of morning visitors, chiefly men of letters; Hawkesworth, Goldsmith, Murphy, Langton, Steevens, Beauclerk, &c., &c., and sometimes learned ladies; particularly, I remember, a French lady of wit and fashion doing him the honour of a visit. He seemed to me to be considered as a kind of public oracle, whom everybody thought they had a right to visit and consult; and, doubtless, they were well rewarded. I never could discover how he found time for his compositions. He declaimed all the morning, then went to dinner at a tavern, where he commonly staid late, and then drank his tea at some friend's house, over which he loitered a great while, but seldom took supper. I fancy he must have read and wrote chiefly in the night; for I can scarcely recollect that he ever refused going with me to a tavern, and he often went to Ranelagh, which he deemed a place of innocent recreation.

"He frequently gave all the silver in his pocket to the poor, who watched him between his house and the tavern where he dined. He walked the streets at all hours, and said he was never robbed, for the rogues knew he had little money, nor had the appearance of having much.

"Though the most accessible and communicative man alive, yet when he suspected that he was invited to be exhibited, he constantly spurned the invitation.

"Two young women from Staffordshire visited him when I was present, to consult him on the subject of Methodism, to which they were inclined. 'Come (said he), you pretty fools, dine with Maxwell and me at the Mitre, and we will talk over that subject'; which they did, and after dinner he took one of them on his knees, and fondled them for half an hour together."[115]

This anecdote is exquisite. It shows, that however impatient he was of having his own superstitions canvassed, he was loth to see them inflicted on others. He is here a harmless Falstaff, with two innocent damsels on his knees, in lieu of Mesdames Ford and Page.

In Gough Square, Johnson wrote part of his Dictionary. He had written the Rambler and taken his high stand with the public before. "At this time," says Barber, his servant, "he had little for himself, but frequently sent money to Mr. Shiels when in distress." (Shiels was one of his amanuenses in the dictionary.) His friends and visitors in Gough Square are a good specimen of what they always were—a miscellany creditable to the largeness of his humanity. There was Cave, Dr. Hawkesworth, Miss Carter, Mrs. Macauley (two ladies who must have looked strangely at one another), Mr. (afterwards Sir Joshua) Reynolds, Langton, Mrs. Williams (a poor poetess whom he maintained in his house), Mr. Levett (an 124 apothecary on the same footing), Garrick, Lord Orrery, Lord Southwell, and Mrs. Gardiner, wife of a tallow chandler on Snow-hill—"not in the learned way," said Mr. Barber, "but a worthy good woman." With all his respect for rank, which doubtless he regarded as a special dispensation of Providence, his friend Beauclerk's notwithstanding,[116] Johnson never lost sight of the dignity of goodness. He did not, however, confine his attentions to those who were noble or amiable; though we are to suppose, that everybody with whom he chose to be conversant had some good quality or other; unless, indeed, he patronised them as the Duke of Montague did his ugly dogs, because nobody would if he did not. The great secret, no doubt, was, that he was glad of the company of any of his fellow-creatures who would bear and forbear with him, and for whose tempers he did not care as much as he did for their welfare. And he was giving alms; which was a catholic part of religion, in the proper sense of the word.

"He nursed," says Mrs. Thrale, in her superfluous style, "whole nests of people in his house, where the lame, the blind, the sick, and the sorrowful found a sure retreat from all the evils whence his little income could secure them, and commonly spending the middle of the week at our house, he kept his numerous family in Fleet Street upon a settled allowance; but returned to them every Saturday to give them three good dinners and his company, before he came back to us on the Monday night, treating them with the same, or perhaps more, ceremonious civility, than he would have done by as many people of fashion, making the Holy Scripture thus the rule of his conduct, and only expecting salvation as he was able to obey its precepts."[117]

Johnson's female inmates were not like the romantic ones of Richardson.

"We surely cannot but admire," says Boswell, "the benevolent exertions of this great and good man, especially when we consider how grievously he was afflicted with bad health, and how uncomfortable his home was made by the perpetual jarring of those whom he charitably accommodated under his roof. He has sometimes suffered me to talk jocularly of his group of females, and call them his seraglio. He thus mentions them, together with honest Levitt, in one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale: 'Williams hates everybody; Levett hates Desmoulins, and does not love Williams; Desmoulins hates them both; Poll loves none of them.'"[118]


Of his residence in Inner Temple Lane we have spoken 125 before. He lived there six or seven years, and then removed to Johnson's Court, No. 7, where he resided for ten. Johnson's Court is in the neighbourhood of Gough Square. It was during this period that he accompanied his friend Boswell to Scotland, where he sometimes humorously styled himself "Johnson of that ilk" (that same, or Johnson of Johnson), in imitation of the local designations of the Scottish chiefs. In 1776, in his sixty-seventh year, still adhering to the neighbourhood, he removed into Bolt Court, No. 8, where he died eight years after, on the 13th December, 1784. In Bolt Court he had a garden, and perhaps in Johnson's Court and 126 Gough Square: which we mention to show how tranquil and removed these places were, and convenient for a student who wished, nevertheless, to have the bustle of London at hand. Maitland (one of the compilers upon Stow), who published his history of London in 1739, describes Johnson and Bolt Courts as having "good houses, well inhabited;" and Gough Square he calls fashionable.[119]

Johnson was probably in every tavern and coffee-house in Fleet Street. There is one which has taken his name, being styled, par excellence, "Doctor Johnson's Coffee-house." But the house he most frequented was the Mitre tavern, on the other side of the street, in a passage leading to the Temple. It was here, as we have seen, that he took his two innocent theologians, and paternally dandled them out of their misgivings on his knee. The same place was the first of the kind in which Boswell met him. "We had a good supper," says the happy biographer, "and port wine, of which he then sometimes drank a bottle." (At intervals he abstained from all fermented liquors for a long time.) "The orthodox, high-church sound of the Mitre, the figure and manner of the celebrated Samuel Johnson, the extraordinary power and precision of his conversation, and the pride arising from finding myself admitted as his companion, produced a variety of sensations, and a pleasing elevation of mind beyond what I had before experienced."[120] They sat till between one and two in the morning. He told Boswell at that period that "he generally went abroad at about four in the afternoon, and seldom came home till two in the morning. I took the liberty to ask if he did not think it wrong to live thus, and not to make more use of his great talents. He owned it was a bad habit."

The next time, Goldsmith was with them, when Johnson made a remark which comes home to everybody, namely, that granting knowledge in some cases to produce unhappiness, "knowledge per se was an object which every one would wish to attain, though, perhaps, he might not take the trouble necessary for attaining it." One of his most curious remarks followed, occasioned by the mention of Campbell, the author 127 of the Hermippus Redivivus, on which Boswell makes a no less curious comment. "Campbell," said Johnson, "is a good man, a pious man. I am afraid he has not been in the inside of a church for many years; but he never passes a church without pulling off his hat. This shows that he has good principles." On which, says Boswell in a note, "I am inclined to think he was misinformed as to this circumstance. I own I am jealous for my worthy friend Dr. John Campbell. For though Milton could without remorse absent himself from public worship, I cannot."[121]

It was at their next sitting in this house, at which the Rev. Dr. Ogilvie, a Scotch writer, was present, that Johnson made his famous joke, in answer to that gentleman's remark, that Scotland has a great many "noble wild prospects." Johnson. "I believe, sir, you have a great many. Norway, too, has noble, wild prospects; and Lapland is remarkable for prodigious, noble, wild prospects. But, sir, let me tell you, the noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the high road that leads him to England!" "This unexpected and pointed sally," says Boswell, "produced a roar of applause. After all, however" (he adds), "those who admire the rude grandeur of nature, cannot deny it to Caledonia."[122]

Johnson had the highest opinion of a tavern, as a place in which a man might be comfortable, if he could anywhere. Indeed, he said that the man who could not enjoy himself in a tavern, could be comfortable nowhere. This, however, is not to be taken to the letter. Extremes meet; and Johnson's uneasiness of temper led him into the gayer necessities of Falstaff. However, it is assuredly no honour to a man, not to be able to "take his ease at his inn." "There is no private house," said Johnson, talking on this subject, "in which people can enjoy themselves so well as at a capital tavern. Let there be ever so great a plenty of good things, ever so much grandeur, ever so much elegance, ever so much desire that everybody should be easy, in the nature of things it cannot be: there must always be some degree of care and anxiety. The master of the house is anxious to entertain his guests; the guests are anxious to be agreeable to him; and no man, but a very impudent dog indeed, can as freely command what is in another man's house as if it were his own. Whereas, at a tavern, there is a general freedom from anxiety. You are sure you are welcome; and the more noise you 128 make, the more trouble you give, the more good things you call for, the welcomer you are. No servants will attend you with the alacrity which waiters do, who are incited by the prospect of an immediate reward in proportion as they please. No, sir, there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced, as by a good tavern or inn." He then repeated with great emotion Shenstone's lines:—

"Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round,

Where'er his stages may have been,

May sigh to think he still has found

The warmest welcome at an inn."[123]

"Sir John Hawkins," says Boswell in a note on this passage, "has preserved very few memorabilia of Johnson." There is, however, to be found in his bulky tome, a very excellent one upon this subject. "In contradiction to those who, having a wife and children, prefer domestic enjoyments to those which a tavern affords, I have heard him assert, that a tavern chair was the throne of human felicity. 'As soon' (said he), 'as I enter the door of a tavern, I experience an oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude: when I am seated, I find the master courteous, and the servants obsequious to my call, anxious to know and ready to supply my wants: wine there exhilarates my spirits, and prompts me to free conversation, and an interchange of discourse with those whom I most love; I dogmatise, and am contradicted; and in this conflict of opinion and sentiments I find delight.'"

The following anecdote is highly to Johnson's credit, and equally worthy of every one's attention. "Johnson was known to be so rigidly attentive to the truth," says Boswell, "that even in his common conversation the slightest circumstance was mentioned with exact precision. The knowledge of his having such a principle and habit made his friends have a perfect reliance on the truth of everything that he told, however it might have been doubted if told by many others. As an instance of this I may mention an odd incident, which he related as having happened to him one night in Fleet Street. 'A gentlewoman' (said he) 'begged I would give her my arm to assist her in crossing the street, which I accordingly did; upon which she offered me a shilling, supposing me to be the watchman. I perceived that she was somewhat in liquor.' This, if told by most people, would 129 have been thought an invention; when told by Johnson, it was believed by his friends, as much as if they had seen what passed."[124]

The gentlewoman, however, might have taken him for the watchman without being in liquor, if she had no eye to discern a great man through his uncouthness. Davies, the bookseller, said, that he "laughed like a rhinoceros." It may be added he walked like a whale; for it was rolling rather than walking. "I met him in Fleet Street," says Boswell, "walking, or rather, indeed, moving along; for his peculiar march is thus described in a very just and picturesque manner, in a short life of him published very soon after his death:—'When he walked the streets, what with the constant roll of his head, and the concomitant motion of his body, he appeared to make his way by that motion independent of his feet.' That he was often much stared at," continues Boswell, "while he advanced in this manner, may be easily believed; but it was not safe to make sport of one so robust as he was. Mr. Langton saw him one day, in a fit of absence, by a sudden start, drive the load off a porter's back, and walk forwards briskly, without being conscious of what he had done. The porter was very angry, but stood still, and eyed the huge figure with much earnestness, till he was satisfied that his wisest course was to be satisfied and take up his burden again."[125]

There is another remark on Fleet Street and its superiority to the country, which must not be passed over. Boswell, not having Johnson's reasons for wanting society, was a little over-weening and gratuitous on this subject; and on such occasions the doctor would give him a knock. "It was a delightful day," says the biographer; "as we walked to St. Clement's Church, I again remarked that Fleet Street was the most cheerful scene in the world; 'Fleet Street,' said I, 'is in my mind more delightful than Tempè.' Johnson.—'Ay, sir, but let it be compared with Mull.'"[126]

The progress of knowledge, even since Johnson's time, has enabled us to say, without presumption, that we differ with this extraordinary person on many important points, without ceasing to have the highest regard for his character. His faults were the result of temperament; perhaps his good qualities and his powers of reflection were, in some measure, so too; but this must be the case with all men. Intellect 130 and beneficence, from whatever causes, will always command respect; and we may gladly compound, for their sakes, with foibles which belong to the common chances of humanity. If Johnson has added nothing very new to the general stock, he has contributed (especially by the help of his biographer) a great deal that is striking and entertaining. He was an admirable critic, if not of the highest things, yet of such as could be determined by the exercise of a masculine good sense; and one thing he did, perhaps beyond any man in England, before or since—he advanced, by the powers of his conversation, the strictness of his veracity, and the respect he exacted towards his presence, what may be called the personal dignity of literature. The consequence has been, not exactly what he expected, but certainly what the great interests of knowledge require; and Johnson has assisted men, with whom he little thought of co-operating, in setting the claims of truth and beneficence above all others.

East from Fetter Lane, on the same side of the street, is Crane Court—the principal house in which, facing the entry, was that in which the Royal Society used to meet, and where they kept their museum and library before they removed to their late apartments in Somerset House. The society met in Crane Court up to a period late enough to allow us to present to our imaginations Boyle and his contemporaries prosecuting their eager inquiries and curious experiments in the early dawn of physical science, and afterwards Newton presiding in the noontide glory of the light which he had shed over nature. 131


Ancient State of the Strand—Butcher Row—Death of Lee, the dramatic Poet—Johnson at an Eating-House—Essex Street—House and History of the favourite Earl of Essex—Spenser's Visit there—Essex, General of the Parliament—Essex Head Club—Devereux Court—Grecian Coffee-House—Twining, the accomplished Scholar—St. Clement Danes—Clement's Inn—Falstaff and Shallow—Norfolk, Arundel, Surrey, and Howard Streets—Norfolk House—Essex's Ring and the Countess of Nottingham—William Penn—Birch—Dr. Brocklesby—Congreve, and his Will—Voltaire's Visit to him—Mrs. Bracegirdle—Tragical End of Mountford the Player—Ancient Cross—Maypole—New Church of St. Mary-le-Strand—Old Somerset House—Henrietta Maria and her French Household—Waller's Mishap at Somerset Stairs—New Somerset House—Royal Society, Antiquarian Society, and Royal Academy—Death of Dr. King—Exeter Street—Johnson's first Lodging in London—Art of living in London—Catherine Street—Unfortunate Women—Wimbledon House—Lyceum and Beef-steak Club—Exeter Change—Bed and Baltimore—The Savoy—Anecdotes of the Duchess of Albemarle—Beaufort Buildings—Lillie, the Perfumer—Aaron Hill—Fielding—Southampton Street—Cecil and Salisbury Streets—Durham House—Raleigh—Pennant on the Word Place or Palace—New Exchange—Don Pantaleon Sa—The White Milliner—Adelphi—Garrick and his Wife—Beauclerc—Society of Arts, and Mr. Barry—Bedford Street—George, Villiers, and Buckingham Streets—York House and Buildings—Squabble between the Spanish and French Ambassadors—Hungerford Market—Craven Street—Franklin—Northumberland House—Duplicity of Henry, Earl of Northampton—Violence of Lord Herbert of Cherbury—Percy, Bishop of Dromore—Pleasant mistake of Goldsmith.


In going through Fleet Street and the Strand, we seldom think that the one is named after a rivulet, now running under ground, and the other from its being on the banks of the river Thames. As little do most of us fancy that there was once a line of noblemen's houses on the one side, and that, at the same time, all beyond the other side, to Hampstead or Highgate, was open country, with the little hamlet of St. Giles's in a copse. So late as the reign of Henry VIII. we have a print containing the vill a of Charing. Citizens used to take an evening stroll to the well now in St. Clement's Inn.

In the reign of Edward III. the Strand was an open country 132 road, with a mansion here and there, on the banks of the river Thames, most probably a castle or stronghold. In this state it no doubt remained during the greater part of the York and Lancaster period. From Henry VII.'s time the castles most likely began to be exchanged for mansions of a more peaceful character. These gradually increased; and in the reign of Edward VI. the Strand consisted, on the south side, of a line of mansions with garden walls; and on the north, of a single row of houses, behind which all was field. The reader is to imagine wall all the way from Temple Bar to Whitehall, on his left hand, like that of Kew Palace, or a succession of Burlington Gardens; while the line of humbler habitations stood on the other side, like a row of servants in waiting.

As wealth increased, not only the importance of rank diminished, and the nobles were more content to recollect James's advice of living in the country (where, he said, they looked like ships in a river, instead of ships at sea), but the value of ground about London, especially on the river side, was so much augmented, that the proprietors of these princely mansions were not unwilling to turn the premises into money. The civil wars had given another jar to the stability of their abodes in the metropolis; and in Charles the Second's time the great houses finally gave way, and were exchanged for streets and wharfs. An agreeable poet of the last century lets us know that he used to think of this great change in going up the Strand.

"Come, Fortescue, sincere, experienc'd friend,

Thy briefs, thy deeds, and e'en thy fees suspend;

Come, let us leave the Temple's silent walls;

Me, business to my distant lodging calls;

Through the long Strand together let us stray;

With thee conversing, I forget the way.

Behold that narrow street which steep descends,

Whose building to the slimy shore extends;

Here Arundel's fam'd structure rear'd its fame:

The street alone retains the empty name.

Where Titian's glowing paint the canvass warmed,

And Raphael's fair design with judgment charmed,

Now hangs the bellman's song; and pasted here

The coloured prints of Overton appear.

Where statues breathed, the works of Phidias' hands,

A wooden pump, or lonely watch-house stands.

There Essex's stately pile adorned the shore,

There Cecil's, Bedford's, Villiers',—now no more."[127]


As the aspect in this quarter is so different from what it was, and the quarter is one of the most important in the metropolis, we may add what Pennant has written on the subject:—

"In the year 1353, that fine street the Strand was an open highway, with here and there a great man's house, with gardens to the water's side. In that year it was so ruinous, that Edward III., by an ordinance, directed a tax to be raised upon wool, leather, wine, and all goods carried to the staple at Westminster, from Temple Bar to Westminster Abbey, for the repair of the road; and that all owners of houses adjacent to the highway should repair as much as lay before their doors. Mention is also made of a bridge to be erected near the royal palace at Westminster, for the conveniency of the said staple; but the last probably meant no more than stairs for the landing of the goods, which I find sometimes went by the name of a bridge.

"There was no continued street here till about the year 1533; before that it entirely cut off Westminster from London, and nothing intervened except the scattered houses, and a village, which afterwards gave name to the whole. St. Martin's stood literally in the fields. But about the year 1560 a street was formed, loosely built, for all the houses on the south side had great gardens to the river, were called by their owners' names, and in after times gave name to the several streets that succeeded them, pointing down to the Thames; each of them had stairs for the conveniency of taking boat, of which many to this day bear the names of the houses. As the court was for centuries either at the palace at Westminster, or Whitehall, a boat was the customary conveyance of the great to the presence of their sovereign. The north side was a mere line of houses from Charing-cross to Temple Bar; all beyond was country. The gardens which occupied part of the site of Covent Garden were bounded by fields, and St. Giles's was a distant country village. These are circumstances proper to point out, to show the vast increase of our capital in little more than two centuries."[128]

The aspect of the Strand, on emerging through Temple Bar, is very different from what it was forty years ago. "A stranger who had visited London in 1790, would on his return in 1804," says Mr. Malcolm, "be astonished to find a spacious area (with the church nearly in the centre) on the site of Butcher Row, and some other passages undeserving of the name of streets, which were composed of those wretched fabrics, overhanging their foundations, the receptacles of dirt in every corner of their projecting stories, the bane of ancient London, where the plague, with all its attendant horrors, frowned destruction on the miserable inhabitants, reserving its forces for the attacks of each returning summer."[129]

The site of Butcher Row, thus advantageously thrown 134 open, is called Pickett Street, after the alderman who projected the improvements. Unfortunately they turned out to be on too large a scale; that is to say, the houses were found to be too large and expensive for the right side of the Strand in this quarter; the tide of traffic between the city and Westminster flowing the other side of the way. The consequence is, that the houses are under-let, and that something of the old squalid look remains in the turning towards Clement's Inn, in spite of the pillared entrance.

Butcher Row, however squalid, contained houses worth eating and drinking in. Johnson frequented an eating-house there; and, according to Oldys, it was "in returning from the Bear and Harrow in Butcher Row, through Clare Market, to his lodgings in Duke Street, that Lee, the dramatic poet, overladen with wine, fell down (on the ground, as some say—according to others, on a bulk), and was killed, or stifled in the snow. He was buried in the parish church of St. Clement Danes, aged about thirty-five years."[130] "He was a very handsome as well as ingenious man," says Oldys, "but given to debauchery, which necessitated a milk diet. When some of his university comrades visited him, he fell to drinking out of all measure, which, flying up into his head, caused his face to break out into those carbuncles which were afterwards observed there; and also touched his brain, occasioning that madness so much lamented in so rare a genius. Tom Brown says, he wrote, while he was in Bedlam, a play of twenty-five acts; and Mr. Bowman tells me that, going once to visit him there, Lee showed him a scene, 'in which,' says he, 'I have done a miracle for you.' 'What's that?' said Bowman. 'I have made you a good priest.'"

Oldys mentions another of his mad sayings, but does not tell us with whom it passed.

"I've seen an unscrewed spider spin a thought,

And walk away upon the wings of angels!"

"What say you to that, doctor?" "Ah, marry, Mr. Lee, that's superfine indeed. The thought of a winged spider may catch sublime readers of poetry sooner than his web, but it will need a commentary in prose to render it intelligible to the vulgar."[131]

Lee's madness does not appear to have been melancholy, otherwise these anecdotes would not bear repeating. There are various stories of the origin of it; but, most probably, 135 he had an over-sanguine constitution, which he exasperated by intemperance. Though he died so young, the author of A Satyr on the Poets gives us to understand that he was corpulent.

"Pembroke loved tragedy, and did provide

For the butchers' dogs, and for the whole Bank-side:

The bear was fed; but dedicating Lee

Was thought to have a greater paunch than he."[132]

This Pembroke, who loved a bear-garden, was the seventh earl of that title. His daughter married the son of Jefferies. Lee, on a visit to the earl at Wilton, is said to have drunk so hard, that "the butler feared he would empty the cellar." The madness of Lee is almost visible in his swelling and overladen dramas; in which, however, there is a good deal of true poetic fire, and a vein of tenderness that makes us heartily pity the author.

The social Boswell, in speaking of Johnson's eating-house in Butcher Row, does not approve of establishments of that sort. We shall see, by and by, that he was wrong.

"Happening to dine," says he, "at Clifton's eating-house in Butcher Row, I was surprised to see Johnson come in and take his seat at another table. The mode of dining, or rather being fed, at such houses in London, is well known to many to be peculiarly unsocial, as there is no ordinary or united company, but each person has his own mess, and is under no obligation to hold any intercourse with any one. A liberal and full-minded man, however, who loves to talk, will break through this churlish and unsocial restraint. Johnson and an Irish gentleman got into a dispute concerning the cause of some part of mankind being black. 'Why, sir (said Johnson), it has been accounted for in three ways: either by supposing that they are the posterity of Ham, who was cursed; or that God at first created two kinds of men, one black and another white; or that, by the heat of the sun, the skin is scorched, and so acquires a sooty hue. This matter has been much canvassed among naturalists, but has never been brought to any certain issue.' What the Irishman said is totally obliterated from my mind; but I remember that he became very warm and intemperate in his expressions; upon which Johnson rose, and quietly walked away. When he had retired, his antagonist took his revenge, as he thought, by saying, 'He has a most ungainly figure, and an affectation of pomposity unworthy of a man of genius.'"[133]

The ungainly figure might have been pardoned by the Irishman; who, we suppose, was equally fiery and elegant. As to Johnson's pompous manner, the most excusable part of it originated, doubtless, in his having decided opinions. The rest may have been an instinct of self-defence, arising from 136 the "ungainly figure," not without a sense of the dignity of his calling. He certainly lost nothing by it, upon the whole. At all events, one is willing to think the best of what was accompanied by so much excellence. Affectation it was not; for nobody despised pretension of any kind more than he did. Johnson was a sort of born bishop in his way, with high judgments and cathedral notions lording it in his mind; and ex cathedrâ he accordingly spoke.

In Butcher Row, one day, Johnson met, in advanced life, a fellow-collegian, of the name of Edwards, whom he had not seen since they were at the university. Edwards annoyed him by talking of their age. "Don't let us discourage one another," said Johnson. It was this Edwards, a dull but good man, who made that naïve remark, which was pronounced by Burke and others to be an excellent trait of character:—"You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson," said he: "I have tried in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in."[134]

Before we come to St. Clement's, we arrive, on the left-hand side of the way, at Essex Street; a spot once famous for the residence of the favourite Earl of Essex. We have mentioned an Outer Temple, which originally formed a companion to the Inner and Middle Temples, the whole constituting the tenements of the knights. This Outer Temple stretched beyond Temple Bar into the ground now occupied by Essex Street and Devereux Court; and after being possessed (Dugdale supposes) by the Prior and Canons of the Holy Sepulchre, was transferred by them, in the time of Edward III., to the Bishops of Exeter, who occupied it till the reign of Henry VI., and called it Exeter House. Sir William Paget (afterwards Lord Paget) then had it, and did "re-edify the same," calling it Paget Place. After this it was occupied by the Duke of Norfolk, who was executed for his dealings with Mary, Queen of Scots; then by Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the favourite, who called it Leicester House, and bequeathed it to his "son, Sir Robert;" and then by the other favourite, Leicester's son-in-law, Essex, from whom it retained the name of Essex House. It was occasionally tenanted by men of rank till some time after the Restoration, when it was pulled down, and the site converted into the present street and court. The only remnant of it supposed to exist is the present Unitarian Chapel, which, before it became 137 such, was called Essex House, and latterly contained an auction room.[135]

The repose enjoyed in this precinct since the Restoration has been like silence after a succession of storms, for the house was of a turbulent reputation. The first bishop who had it after the Templars, being a favourite of Edward II., was seized by the mob, hurried to Cheapside, where they beheaded him, and then carried back a corpse, and buried in a heap of sand at his door. Lord Paget got into trouble, together with his friend the Duke of Somerset, who was accused of intending to assassinate Northumberland and others at this house. Norfolk possessed it while he formed his designs on Mary, Queen of Scots, for which he was brought to the scaffold; Leicester was always having some ill design or other—perhaps poisoned a visitor or so occasionally (for he is said to have thought nothing of that gentle expediency); and Essex made the house famous by standing a siege in it against the troops of his mistress. The siege was not long, nor any of his actions in the business very wise, though he was a man of an exalted nature. Essex got into his troubles partly from heat and ambition, partly from the inferior and more cunning nature of some of his rivals at court. There is no doubt that all these causes, together with his confidence in Elizabeth's inability to proceed to extremities, conspired to lead him into rebellion. His first offence that we hear of, next to a general petulance of manner, which the Queen's own mixture of fondness and petulance was calculated enough to provoke, was a quarrel with some young lords for her favour; the second, his joining the expedition to Cadiz without leave; and the third, his marriage with the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham: for Elizabeth never thought it proper that her favourites should be married to any thing but her "fair idea."

His next dispute with her, which was on the subject of an assistant in the affairs of Ireland, to which he was going as 138 lord deputy, terminated in the singular catastrophe of his receiving from her a box on the ear, with the encouraging addition of bidding him "Go, and be hanged." It is said to have been occasioned by his turning his back upon her. He clapped his hand to his sword, and swore he would not have put up with such an insult from her father. His fall is generally dated from this circumstance, and it is thought he never forgave it. But surely this is not a correct judgment: for the blow which might have been intolerable from the hand of a king, implied, in its very extravagance, something not without flattery and self-abasement from that of a princess. It was as if Elizabeth had put herself into the situation of a termagant wife. The quarrel preceded the violence. Essex went to Ireland against the rebels, but apparently with great unwillingness, calling it, in a letter to the Queen, the "cursedest of all islands," and insinuating that the best thing that could happen both to please her and himself was the loss of his life in battle. The conclusion of this letter is a remarkable instance of the mixture of romance with real life in those days. It is in verse, terminating with the following pastoral sentiment. Essex wishes he could live like a hermit, "in some unhaunted desert most obscure"—

"From all society, from love and hate

Of worldly folk; then should he sleep secure,

Then wake again, and yield God every praise,

Content with hips and hawes, and bramble-berry;

In contemplation parting out his days,

And change of holy thoughts to make him merry.

Who when he dies, his tomb may be a bush,

Where harmless robin dwells with gentle thrush.

Your Majesty's exiled servant,

"Robert Essex."

Think of this being a letter from a lord lieutenant of Ireland to his sovereign! Warton says, from the evidence of some sonnets preserved in the British Museum, that although Essex was "an ingenious and elegant writer of prose," he was no poet. There is an ungainliness in the lines we have just quoted, and he was probably too much given to action to be a poet; but there is something in him that relished of the truth and directness of poetry, when he had to touch upon any actual emotion. Poetry is nothing but the voluntary power to get at the inner spirit of what is felt, with imagination to embody it. It was supposed that Essex's enemies first got him into the office of lord lieutenant, and 139 then took advantage of his impatience under it to ruin him. He was accused of tampering with the rebels, and meditating his return into England with the troops under his charge; with a view to which object he is said to have described his army as a force with which he "would make the earth to tremble as he went." He came over, with the passion of an injured man, and presented himself before the Queen, who gave him a tolerable reception, but afterwards confined him to the house of the lord keeper. It was then, according to his confession before his death, that he first contemplated violent measures against the throne, though always short of treason. Before his liberation, he was soured by his ineffectual attempts to renew his facility of admission to the presence chamber; and he let fall an expression which his enemies greedily seized at, to wit, that the "Queen grew old and cankered, and that her mind was become as crooked as her carcase." This was exactly in his style, which was off-hand and energetic, with a gusto of truth in it. Meantime he began to have his friends about him more than ever, and to affect a necessity for it; and a summons being sent him to attend the council, he was driven by anger and fear to decline it, and to fortify himself in his house. His chief and most generous companion on this occasion was Henry, Earl of Southampton, the friend of Shakspeare. There was some little resistance; and the Lord Keeper, with the Lord Chief Justice and the Earl of Worcester, coming to summon him to his allegiance, he locked them up in a room, on pretence of taking care of their persons, and then sallied through Fleet Street into the city, where he expected a rising in his favour; for he was the most popular noble, perhaps, that England had ever seen, and the city had been disgusted by repeated levies on its purse, under pretence of invasions from Spain: though, according to Essex, Spain had never been so much in favour. The levies, in truth, were made against himself. He was disappointed: heard himself proclaimed a traitor by sound of trumpet in Gracechurch Street, and after a little more scuffling on the part of his adherents, returned by water from Queenhithe, and surrendered himself; being partly moved, he said, by the "cries of ladies." It is clear that he did not know what to be at. He expected, most likely, every moment, that the Queen's tenderness would interfere, fearful of seeing her once beloved favourite in danger. But the Cecils and others aided her good sense in 140 keeping her quiet. Essex had certainly acted in a way incompatible with the duty of a subject, and such as no sovereign could tolerate. He was tried in Westminster Hall, and convicted of an intention to seize the court and the Tower, to surprise the Queen in her apartments, and then to summon a parliament for a "redress of grievances;" which, he said, should give his enemies "a fair trial." Southampton was acquitted, no doubt from a sense that he intended nothing but a romantic adherence to his friend.

How a man of Essex's understanding could give into these preposterous attempts, it would be difficult to conceive, if every day's experience did not show how powerful a succession of little circumstances is to bring people into situations which themselves might have least looked for. Essex evidently expected pardon to the last. When Lord Grey's name was read over among the peers who were to try him, he smiled and jogged the elbow of Southampton, for offending whom Grey had been punished. He was at his ease throughout the trial. He said to the Attorney-General (Coke), who had told him in the course of his speech that he should be "Robert the Last" of an earldom, instead of "Robert the First" of a kingdom—"Well, Mr. Attorney, I thank God you are not my judge this day, you are so uncharitable."

"Coke. Well, my lord, we shall prove you anon, what you are; which your pride of heart, and aspiring mind, hath brought you unto.

Essex. Ah, Mr. Attorney, lay your hand upon your heart, and pray to God to forgive us both."[136]

And when sentence was passed, though it is not true that he refused to ask for mercy, for he did it after the best fashion of his style, "kneeling (he said) upon the very knees of his heart," yet he seemed to threaten Elizabeth, in a tender way, with his resolution to die. She left him, like a politic sovereign, to his fate; but is thought never to have recovered it, as a friend. The romantic story of her visiting the Countess of Nottingham, who had kept back a ring which Essex sent her after his condemnation, of her shaking her on her deathbed, and crying out that "God might forgive, but she could not," is more and more credited as documents transpire. The ring, it is said, had been given to Essex, with a promise that it should serve him in need under any circumstances, if he did but send it. It is supposed that the non-appearance of it hurt the proud heart of Elizabeth, and 141 finally allowed her to let him die. Yet she was a great sovereign, and might have suffered the law to take its course, with whatever sorrow. She was jealous of her reputation with the old and cool-headed lords about her. When the death, however, had taken place, she might have fancied otherwise. Something preyed strongly on her mind towards her decease, which happened within two years after his execution. She refused to go to bed for ten days and nights before her death, lying upon the carpet with cushions about her, and absorbed in the profoundest melancholy. To be sure, this may have been disease. A princess like Elizabeth, possessed of sovereign power, which had been sharply exercised on some doubtful occasions, might have had misgivings when going to die. Two certain causes of regret she must have had for Essex. She must have been well aware that she had alternately encouraged and irritated him over much; and she must have known that he was a better man than many who assisted in his overthrow, and that if he had been less worthy of regard, he probably would have survived her, as they did.

It may easily be imagined that Essex was a man for whom a strong affection might be entertained. He excited interest by his character, and could maintain it by his language. In everything he did there was a certain excess, but on the liberal side. When a youth, he plunged into the depths of rural pleasures and books; he was lavish of his money and good words for his friends; he said everything that came uppermost, but then it was worth saying, only his enemies were not as well pleased with it as his friends, and they never forgot it: in fine, he was romantic, brave, and impassioned. He is so like a preux chevalier, that till we call to mind other gallant knights who have not been handsome, we are somewhat surprised to hear that he was not well made, and that nothing is said of his face but that it looked reserved—a seeming anomaly, which deep thought sometimes produces in the countenances of open-hearted men. These were no hindrances, however, to the admiration entertained of him by the ladies; and he was so popular with authors and with the public, that Warton says he could bring evidence of his scarcely ever quitting England or even the metropolis, on the most frivolous enterprise, without a pastoral or other poetical praise of him, which was sold and sung in the streets. He was the friend of Spenser, most likely of Shakspeare too. 142 being the friend of Southampton. Spenser was well acquainted with Essex House. In his 'Prothalamion,' published in 1596, he has left interesting evidence of his having visited Leicester there; and he follows up the record with a panegyric on Leicester's successor, which was probably his first hint to Essex that he was still in want of such assistance as he had received from his father-in-law. The two passages taken together render the hint rather broad, and such as would make one a little jealous for the dignity of the great poet, were not the manners of that time different in this respect from what they are now. Speaking of the Temple, in the lines quoted in our last chapter, he goes on to say—

"Next whereunto there stands a stately place,

Where oft I gayned giftes and goodly grace

Of that great lord, which therein wont to dwell.

Whose want too well now feels my friendless case:

But, ah! here fits not well

Olde woes, but ioyes, to tell

Against the bridale daye, which is not long:

Sweet Themmes! runne softly till I end my song.

Yet therein now doth lodge a noble peer,

Great England's glory, and the world's wide wonder,

Whose dreadful name late through all Spaine did thunder,

And Hercules' two pillars standing near

Did make to quake and feare:

Faire branch of honour, flower of chevalrie;

That fillest England with thy triumph's fame,

Joy have thou of thy noble victorie."

Essex no doubt took the poet at his word, both for his panegyric and his hint: for it was he that gave Spenser his funeral in Westminster, and he was not of a spirit to treat a great poet, as poets have sometimes been treated—with neglect in their lifetime, and self-complacent monuments to them after their death.

We shall close this notice (in which we have endeavoured to concentrate all the interest we could) of the once great and applauded Essex, whose memory long retained its popularity, and gave rise to several tragedies, with a letter of his to the Lord Keeper Egerton, in which there is one of his finest sentiments expressed with his most passionate felicity. Egerton's eldest son had accompanied Essex into Ireland, and died there, which is the subject of the letter. As Spenser's death also happened just before the earl set out for that country, at a moment when he might have been of political as well as poetical use to him (for Spenser was a politician, and had 143 been employed in the affairs of Ireland), Mr. Todd thinks, that among the friends alluded to, part of the regret may have been for him:

"Whatt can you receave from a cursed country butt vnfortunate newes? whatt can be my stile (whom heaven and earth are agreed to make a martyr) butt a stile of mourning? nott for myself thatt I smart, for I wold I had in my hart the sorow of all my frends, but I mourn that my destiny is to overlive my deerest frendes. Of yr losse yt is neither good for me to write nor you to reade. But I protest I felt myself sensibly dismembered, when I lost my frend. Shew yr strength in lyfe. Lett me, yf yt be God's will, shew yt in taking leave of the world, and hasting after my frends. Butt I will live and dy

"More yr lp's then any
"man's living,

"Arbrachan, this last day of August" [1599].

"Little,"[137] says Mr. Todd, "did the generous but unfortunate Essex then imagine, that the learned statesman, to whom this letter of condolence was addressed, would be directed very soon afterwards to issue an order for his execution. The original warrant, to which the name of Elizabeth is prefixed, is now in the possession of the Marquis of Stafford; and the queen has written her name, not with the firmness observable in numerous documents existing in the same and other collections, but with apparent tremor and hesitation."

In Essex House was born another Robert, Earl of Essex, son of the preceding, well known in history as general of the Parliament. He was a child when his father died; and was in the hands, first, of his grandmother, Lady Walsingham, and, secondly, of Henry Saville (afterwards Sir Henry), under whose severe discipline he was educated at Eton. We mention these circumstances, because they tended to keep him in that Presbyterian interest, which his father patronised out of a love of toleration and popularity. Perhaps, also, they did him no good with his wives; for he married two, and was singularly unfortunate in both. To the first, Lady Frances Howard, he was betrothed when a boy. He travelled, returned, and married her, with little love on his own side, and none on hers. Her connection with Car, Earl of Somerset, and all the infamy, crime, and wretchedness it brought upon her, are well known. Her best excuse, which is the ordinary one in cases of great wickedness (and it is a comfort to human nature that it is so), is, that she was a great fool. Her dislike of her first husband was not, perhaps, the least excusable part of her conduct, first, because she was a child like himself 144 when they were betrothed; and secondly, because his second wife appears to have liked him no better. The latter was divorced also. After this, Essex took to a country retirement, and subsequently to an active part in the Civil Wars, during which his love of justice and affability to his inferiors rendered him extremely popular. He was of equivocal service, however, to the Parliament. He was a better general than politician, not of a commanding genius in any respect, and was suspected, not without reason, of an overweening desire to accommodate matters too much, partly out of ignorance of what the nature of the quarrel demanded, and partly from an affectation of playing the part of an amicable dictator for his own aggrandisement. So the Parliament got rid of him by the famous self-denying ordinance. Clarendon says, that when he resigned his commission, the whole Parliament went the day following to Essex House, to return him thanks for his great services; but a late historian of the commonwealth says, there is no trace of this compliment on the journals.[138] Next year they attended him to his grave. Essex's character was a prose-copy of his father's, with the love and romance left out.

Dr. Johnson, the year before he died, founded in Essex Street one of his minor clubs. The Literary Club did not meet often enough for his want of society, was too distant, and perhaps had now become too much for his conversational ambition. He wanted a mixture of inferior intellects to be at ease with. Accordingly, this club, which was held at the Essex Head, then kept by a servant of Mr. Thrale, was of a more miscellaneous nature than the other, and made no pretension to expense. One cannot help smiling at the modest and pensive tone of the letter which Johnson sent to Sir Joshua, inviting him to join it. "The terms are lax, and the expenses light. We meet thrice a-week; and he who misses, forfeits two-pence."[139] This stretch of philosophy seems to have startled the fashionable painter, who declined to become a member. When we find, however, in the list the names of Brocklesby, Horsley, Daines Barrington, and Windham, Boswell has reason to say that Sir John Hawkins's charge of its being a "low ale-house association" appears to be sufficiently obviated. But the names might have been subscribed out of civility without any further intention. The club, 145 nevertheless, was in existence when Boswell wrote, and went on, he says, happily. Johnson said of him, when he was proposed, "Boswell is a very clubable man."

In Devereux Court, through which there is a passage round into the Temple, is the Grecian Coffee House, supposed to be the oldest in London. We should rather say the revival of the oldest, for the premises were burnt down and rebuilt. The Grecian was the house from which Steele proposed to date his learned articles in the Tatler.

In this court are the premises of the eminent tea-dealers, Messrs. Twining, the front of which, surmounted with its stone figures of Chinese, has an elegant appearance in the Strand. We notice the house, not only on this account, but because the family have to boast of a very accomplished scholar, the translator of the Poetics of Aristotle. Mr. Twining was contemporary with Gray and Mason at Cambridge; and besides his acquirements as a linguist (for, in addition to his knowledge of Greek and Latin, he wrote French and Italian with idiomatic accuracy), was a musician so accomplished as to lead the concerts and oratorios that were performed during term-time, when Bate played the organ and harpsichord. He was also a lively companion, full of wit and playfulness, yet so able to content himself with country privacy, and so exemplary a clergyman, that for the last forty years of his life he scarcely allowed himself to be absent from his parishioners more than a fortnight in a year.

The church of St. Clement Danes, which unworthily occupies the open part of the Strand, to the west of Essex Street, was the one most frequented by Dr. Johnson. It is not known why this church was called St. Clement Danes. Some think because there was a massacre of the Danes thereabouts; others because Harold Harefoot was buried there; and others, because the Danes had the quarter given them to live in, when Alfred the Great drove them out of London, the monarch at the same time building the church, in order to assist their conversion to Christianity. The name St. Clement has been derived with probability from the patron saint of Pope Clement III., a great friend of the Templars, to whom the church at one time belonged. St. Clement's was rebuilt towards the end of the century before last by Edward Pierce, under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren, but is a very incongruous ungainly edifice. Its best aspect is at 146 night-time in winter, when the deformities of its body are not seen, and the pale steeple rises with a sort of ghastliness of grandeur through the cloudy atmosphere. The chimes may still be heard at midnight, as Falstaff describes having heard them with Justice Shallow. If they did not execute one of Handel's psalm-tunes, we should take them to be the very same he speaks of, and conclude that they had grown hoarse with age and sitting-up; for to our knowledge they have lost some of their notes these twenty years, and the rest are falling away. A steeple should set a better example.

A few years back, when the improvements on the north side, in this quarter, had not been followed by those on the south, Gay's picture of the avenue between the church and the houses was true in all its parts. We remember the "combs dangling in our faces," and almost mourned their loss for the sake of the poet.

"Where the fair columns of St. Clement stand,

Whose straiten'd bounds encroach upon the Strand;

Where the low penthouse bows the walker's head,

And the rough pavement wounds the yielding tread;

Where not a post protects the narrow space,

And, strung in twines, combs dangle in thy face;

Summon at once thy courage, rouse thy care,

Stand firm, look back, be resolute, beware.

Forth issuing from steep lanes, the collier's steeds

Drag the black load; another cart succeeds;

Team follows team, crowds heap'd on crowds appear,

And wait impatient till the road grow clear."

Everybody can testify to the truth of this description. A little patience, however, is well repaid by the sight of the noble creatures dragging up the loads. The horses of the colliers and brewers of London are worth notice at all times for the magnificence of their build. Gay proceeds to other particulars, now no longer to be encountered. He cautions you how you lose your sword; and adds a pleasant mode of theft, practised in those times:—

"Nor is the flaxen wig with safety worn:

High on the shoulder, in a basket borne,

Lurks the sly boy, whose hands, to rapine bred,

Plucks off the curling honours of thy head."[140]


Clement's Inn is named from the church. The device over the gate, of an anchor and the letter C, is supposed to allude to the martyrdom of St. Clement, who is said to have been tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea, by order of the Emperor Trajan.

"The hall is situated on the south side of a neat but small quadrangle. It is a Tuscan diminutive building, with a very large Corinthian door, and arched windows, erected in 1715. Another irregular area is surrounded by convenient houses, in which are the possessor's chambers. Part of this is a pretty garden, with a kneeling African, of considerable merit, supporting a dial, on the eastern side."[141]

In Knox's Elegant Extracts are some lines on this negro, which have often been repeated:—

"In vain, poor sable son of woe,

Thou seek'st the tender tear;

For thee in vain with pangs they flow;

For mercy dwells not here.

From cannibals thou fledst in vain;

Lawyers less quarter give;

The first won't eat you till you're slain,

The last will do't alive."

This inn, like all the other inns of court, is of great antiquity. Dugdale states it to have been an inn of Chancery in the reign of Edward II. Some have conjectured, according to Mr. Moser, "that near this spot stood an inn, as far back as the time of King Ethelred, for the reception of penitents who came to St. Clement's Well; that a religious house was in process of time established, and that the church rose in consequence." Be this as it may, the holy brotherhood was probably removed to some other institution; the Holy Lamb, an inn on the west side of the lane, received the guests; and the monastery was converted, or rather perverted, from the purposes of the gospel to those of the law, and was probably, in this profession, considered as a house of considerable antiquity in the days of Shakspeare; for he, who with 148 respect to this kind of chronology may be safely quoted, makes in the second act of Henry IV. one of his justices a member of that society:—

"He must to the Inns of Court. I was of Clement's once myself, where they talk of Mad Shallow still."

A pump now covers St. Clement's Well. Fitzstephen, in his description of London, in the reign of Henry II., speaks of certain "excellent springs at a small distance" from the city, "whose waters are sweet, salubrious, and clear, and whose runnels murmur o'er the shining stones: among these," he continues, "Holywell, Clerkenwell, and St. Clement's Well may be esteemed the principal, as being much the most frequented, both by the scholars from the school (Westminster) and the youth from the city, when on a summer's evening they are disposed to take an airing."

Six hundred years and upwards have elapsed since Fitzstephen wrote. It is pleasant to think that the well has lasted so long, and that the place is still quiet.

The Clare family, who have left their name to Clare Market, appear to have occupied Clement's Inn during part of the reign of the Tudors. From their hands it reverted to those of the law. It is an appendage to the Inner Temple. We are not aware of any greater legal personage having been bred there, than the one just mentioned. Shallow takes delight in his local recollections, particularly of this inn. In one of the masterly scenes of this kind, Falstaff's corroboration of a less pleasant recollection, and Shallow's anger against the cause of it, after such a lapse of time, are very ludicrous.

"Shallow. Oh, Sir John, do you remember since we lay all night in the windmill in St. George's Fields?

"Fals. No more of that, good Master Shallow, no more of that.

"Shal. Ha, it was a merry night. And is Jane Nightwork alive?

"Fals. She lives, Master Shallow.

"Shal. She never could away with me.

"Fals. Never, never; she would always say she could not abide Master Shallow.

"Shal. By the mass. I could anger her to the heart. She was then a bonaroba. Doth she hold her own well?—and had Robin Nightwork by old Nightwork, before I came to Clement's Inn.

"Silence. That's fifty-five years ago.

"Shal. Ha, Cousin Silence, that thou hadst seen that that this knight and I have seen! Ah, Sir John, said I well?

"Fals. We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.

"Shal. That we have, that we have, that we have; in faith, Sir John, we have; our watchword was, Hem, boys! Come, let's to 149 dinner: come, let's to dinner: Oh, the days that we have seen! Come, come."[142]

The sites of Arundel, Norfolk, Surrey, and Howard Streets (the last of which crosses the others), were formerly occupied by the house and grounds originally constituting the town residence of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, then of the Lord High Admiral Seymour, and afterwards of the Howards Earls of Arundel, from whom it came into possession of the Duke of Norfolk. It was successively called Bath's Inn (Hampton Place, according to some, but we know not why), Seymour Place, Arundel House, and Norfolk House. It was a wide low house, but according to Sully, who lodged in it when he was ambassador to James I., very convenient, on account of the multitude of rooms on the same floor.

In this house the Lord High Admiral, Thomas Seymour, brother of the Protector Somerset, in the reign of Edward VI., contrived to place the Princess (afterwards Queen) Elizabeth, with a design of possessing her person, and sharing her succession to the Crown. No doubt is entertained of these views by the historians. Elizabeth was not averse to him, though he had lately married the Queen Dowager (Catherine Parr); and some gossipping stories transpired of the evidences of their good-will. Catherine's death increased the suspicion, and she herself expressed it on her death-bed. Seymour's ambition, however, shortly brought him to the scaffold, and saved us from a King Thomas I., who would probably, as Pennant thinks, have been a very bad one.

We have mentioned the Countess of Nottingham who withheld from Elizabeth the ring sent her by Essex. It was in this house she died. Her husband was a Howard, and, probably, she was on a visit there. We take an opportunity, therefore, of relating the particulars of that romantic story, as collected by the accurate Dr. Birch, and repeated in the Memoirs of the Peers of England during the reign of James I. "The following curious story," says the compiler of this work, "was frequently told by Lady Elizabeth Spelman, great grand-daughter of Sir Robert Carey, brother of Lady Nottingham, and afterwards Earl of Monmouth, whose curious memoirs of himself were published a few years ago by Lord Corke."

"When Catherine, Countess of Nottingham, was dying (as she did, according to his lordship's own account, about a fortnight before Queen Elizabeth), she sent to her Majesty to desire that she might 150 see her, in order to reveal something to her Majesty without the discovery of which she could not die in peace. Upon the Queen's coming, Lady Nottingham told her, that, while the Earl of Essex lay under sentence of death, he was desirous of asking her Majesty's mercy, in the manner prescribed by herself, during the height of his favour; the Queen having given him a ring, which being sent to her as a token of his distress, might entitle him to her protection. But the earl, jealous of those about him, and not caring to trust any of them with it, as he was looking out of his window one morning, saw a boy, with whose appearance he was pleased; and engaging him by money and promises, directed him to carry the ring, which he took from his finger and threw down, to Lady Scroope, a sister of the Countess of Nottingham, and a friend of his lordship, who attended upon the Queen; and to beg of her that she would present it to her Majesty. The boy, by mistake, carried it to Lady Nottingham, who showed it to her husband, the admiral, an enemy of Lord Essex, in order to take his advice. The admiral forbid her to carry it, or return any answer to the message; but insisted upon her keeping the ring.

"The Countess of Nottingham, having made this discovery, begged the Queen's forgiveness; but her Majesty answered, 'God may forgive you, but I never can,' and left the room with great emotion. Her mind was so struck with the story that she never went into bed, nor took any sustenance from that instant, for Camden is of opinion, that her chief reason for suffering the earl to be executed, was his supposed obstinacy in not applying to her for mercy."[143]

"In confirmation of the time of the countess's death," continues the compiler, "it now appears from the parish register of Chelsea, extracted by Mr. Lysons (Environs of London, vol. ii., p. 120), that she died at Arundel House, London, February 25, and was buried the 28th, 1603. Her funeral was kept at Chelsea, March 21st; and Queen Elizabeth died three days afterwards."

Clarendon gives a singular character of this house and its master when it was in possession of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel. He says that the earl

"Seemed to live, as it were, in another nation, his house being a place to which all people resorted, who resorted to no other place; strangers, or such as affected to look like strangers, and dressed themselves accordingly. He was willing to be thought a scholar, and to understand the most mysterious parts of antiquity, because he made a wonderful and costly purchase of excellent statues whilst in Italy and in Rome (some whereof he could never obtain permission to remove out of Rome, though he had paid for them), and had a rare collection of medals. As to all parts of learning, he was almost illiterate, and thought no other part of history so considerable as what related to his own family, in which, no doubt, there had been 151 some very memorable persons. It cannot be denied that he had in his own person, in his aspect and countenance, the appearance of a great man, which he preserved in his gait and motion. He wore and affected a habit very different from that of the time, such as men had only beheld in pictures of the most considerable men; all which drew the eyes of most, and the reverence of many, towards him, as the image and representative of the ancient nobility, and native gravity of the nobles, when they had been most venerable; but this was only his outside, his nature and true humour being much disposed to levity and delights, which indeed were very despicable and childish."

The marbles here mentioned, now at Oxford, were collected at Arundel House. This character from the pen of Clarendon has been thought too severe. Perhaps the earl had given the noble historian a repulse when he was nothing but plain Mr. Hyde; for personal resentments of this sort are apparent in his writings. The last Duke of Norfolk but one, who wrote anecdotes on the Howard family, asks how the man who collected the Oxford marbles could be the slave of such family self-love as Clarendon describes, and how it was that he held the first places in the state, and the most important commissions abroad. It is well-known, however, that a man may do all this, and yet be more fortunate than wise. Arundel was certainly proud, if not dull; and the proudest men are not apt to be the brightest. It was he that, in a dispute with Lord Spenser, in the Upper House, when the latter spoke of the treason of the earl's ancestors, said, "My lord, my lord, while my ancestors were plotting treason, yours were keeping sheep." He little thought that his marbles would help to bring about a time, when an historian, by no means indifferent to rank and title, should regard a romantic poem as the "brightest jewel" in a ducal coronet, and that coronet be a Spenser's.[144]

At the south-west corner of Norfolk Street lived at one time the famous Penn, who from being a coxcomb in his youth became a Quaker and a founder of a state. However, his coxcombry was a falling-off from early seriousness. His father was a rough admiral, who could not for the life of him conceive why his son should relapse into a preciseness so unlike the rest of the world, and so unfitted to succeed at court. Voltaire says,[145] that young Penn (for he was little more than twenty years of age) appeared suddenly before his 152 father in a Quaker dress, and to the old man's astonishment and indignation said, without moving his hat, "Friend Penn, how dost thee do?" But, according to more serious biographers, the change was not so sudden. The hat, however, was a great matter of contention between them, the admiral wishing to stipulate that his son should uncover to the King (Charles II.), the King's brother, and himself; but Penn having recourse to "fasting and supplication," found that his hat was not to be moved. These were the weaknesses of a young enthusiast. His enthusiasm remained for greater purposes; but he is understood to have grown wiser with regard to the rest, though he continued a Quaker for life. Penn, though a legislator, never seems to have given up a taste for good living. His appearance in the portraits of him, notwithstanding his garb, is fat and festive; and he died of apoplexy.

In the same house, we believe, that had been occupied by Penn[146], resided an author who must not be passed over in a work of this kind; to wit, the indefatigable and honest antiquary, Dr. Birch. He came of a Quaker stock. Birch astonished his friends by going a great deal into company; but the secret of his uniting sociality with labour, was his early rising. This, which appears to be one of the main secrets of longevity, ought to have kept him older, for he died at the age of sixty-one: but he was probably festive as well social, and should have taken more exercise. Being a bad horseman, he was thrown on the Hampstead road, and killed on the spot; but the doctors were uncertain whether apoplexy had not a hand in the disaster. In speaking of Birch, nobody should omit a charming billet, written to him by his first wife, almost in the article of death. The death took place within a year after their marriage, and was accelerated by childbed.

"This day I return you, my dearest life, my sincere hearty thanks for every favour bestowed on your most faithful and obedient wife.

"July 31, 1729."

"Hannah Birch."[147]

In Norfolk Street, for upwards of thirty years, lived Dr. Brocklesby, the friend and physician of Dr. Johnson. Physicians of this class may, par excellence, be styled the 153 friends of men of letters. They partake of their accomplishments, understand their infirmities, sympathise with their zeal to do good, and prolong their lives by the most delicate and disinterested attentions. Between no two professions has a more liberal and cordial intimacy been maintained than between literature and medicine. Brocklesby was an honour to the highest of his calling.

"In the course of his practice," we are told that "his advice, as well as his purse, was ever accessible to the poor, as well as to men of merit who stood in need of either. Besides giving his advice to the poor of all descriptions, which he did with an active and unwearied benevolence, he had always upon his list two or three poor widows, to whom he granted small annuities; and who, on the quarter-day of receiving their stipends, always partook of the hospitalities of his table. To his relations, who wanted his assistance in their business or professions, he was not only liberal, but so judicious in his liberalities as to supersede the necessity of a repetition of them. To his friend Dr Johnson (when it was in agitation amongst his friends to procure an enlargement of his pension, the better to enable him to travel for the benefit of his health), he offered an establishment of one hundred pounds per year during his life; and upon Dr. Johnson's declining it (which he did in the most affectionate terms of gratitude and friendship), he made him a second offer of apartments in his own house, for the more immediate benefit of medical advice. To his old and intimate friend Edmund Burke, he had many years back bequeathed by will the sum of one thousand pounds; but recollecting that this event might take place (which it afterwards did) when such a legacy could be of no service to him, he, with that judicious liberality for which he was always distinguished, gave it to him in advance, 'ut pignus amicitæ:' it was accepted as such by Mr. Burke, accompanied with a letter, which none but a man feeling the grandeur and purity of friendship like him could dictate."[148]

If it be dangerous in the present condition of society, to incur pecuniary obligations, particularly for those who are more qualified to think than to act, and who may ultimately startle to find themselves in positions in which they can neither prove the benefit done them, nor the good feelings which allowed them to receive it, nobody can doubt the generosity of such a man as Brocklesby; who, so far from being a mere patron, jealous of being obliged himself, was equally as prepared to receive kindness as to show it. Proposing just before he died to go down to Burke's house at Beaconsfield, and somebody hinting to him the danger of being fatigued, and of lying out of his own bed, 154 he replied with his usual calmness, "My good friend, I perfectly understand your hint, and am thankful to you for it; but where's the difference, whether I die at a friend's house, at an inn, or in a postchaise? I hope I am every way prepared for such an event, and perhaps it is as well to elude the expectation of it." This was said like a man, and a friend. Brocklesby was not one who would cant about giving trouble at such a moment—the screen of those who hate to be troubled; neither would he grudge a friend the melancholy satisfaction of giving him a bed to die in. He better understood the first principles which give light and life to the world, and left jealousy and misgiving to the vulgar.

Dr. Brocklesby died at his house in the street above mentioned, and was buried in the churchyard. Lee was buried, "at St. Clement Danes;" probably, therefore, in the churchyard also. There are now in that spot some trees, by far the best things about the church. The reader may imagine them to shade the places where the poet and the physician lie.

Arundel or Norfolk House, after the great fire, became the temporary place of meeting for the Royal Society, previously to its return to Gresham College. It was pulled down on their leaving it, the century before last, and the streets before mentioned built in its room. They appear to have been favourite places of residence with persons connected with the drama. Congreve lived in Surrey Street, Mountford the player in Norfolk Street, Mrs. Bracegirdle in Howard Street, and Mrs. Barry somewhere near her.

Congreve died where he had lived (Jan. 29, 1728-9), after having been for several years afflicted with blindness and gout; of which, however, he seems to have made the best he could, by the help of good sense and naturally good spirits. If his wits ever failed him, it was in the propensity to a love of rank and fashion, which, in spite of all that he had seen in the world, never forsook him. It originated probably in the need he thought he had of them, when he first set out in life. The finest sense of men of his cast does not rise above a graceful selfishness. It was most probably in Surrey Street (for he had come to the "verge of life"), that he had a visit paid him by Voltaire, who has recorded the disgust given him by an ebullition of his foppery: for the Frenchman had a great admiration of him as a writer. "Congreve spoke of his works," says Voltaire, "as of trifles that were beneath him; and hinted to me, in our first conversation, that I should visit 155 him upon no other foot than upon that of a gentleman, who led a life of plainness and simplicity. I answered, that had he been so unfortunate as to be a mere gentleman, I should never have come to see him; and I was very much disgusted at so unseasonable a piece of vanity."[149] Our readers will admire the fineness of this rebuke.

But the most glaring instance of this propensity was his leaving the bulk of his fortune to a duchess, when he had poor relations in want of it.

"Having lain in state," says Johnson, "in the Jerusalem Chamber, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a monument is erected to his memory by Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough, to whom, for reasons either not known or not mentioned, he bequeathed a legacy of about ten thousand pounds, the accumulation of attentive parsimony, which, though to her superfluous and useless, might have given great assistance to the ancient family from which he descended; at that time, by the imprudence of his relation, reduced to difficulties and distress."[150]

"Congreve," says Dr. Young, "was very intimate for years with Mrs. Bracegirdle, who lived in the same street—his house very near hers; until his acquaintance with the young Duchess of Marlborough. He then quitted that house. The duchess showed me a diamond necklace (which Lady Di. used afterwards to wear), that cost seven thousand pounds, and was purchased with the money Congreve left her. How much better would it have been to have given it to poor Mrs. Bracegirdle!"[151]

Yet this dramatist, throughout his life, had had the good word of everybody. All parties praised him: all parties kept him in office (he had some places that are said to have produced him twelve hundred a year): Pope dedicated his Iliad to him; called him, after his death, Ultimus Romanorum; and added that "Garth, Vanbrugh, and he were the three most honest-hearted, real good men of the Kit-Kat Club!"[152]

The secret of this is, that Congreve loved above all things to be at ease, and spoke politicly of everybody. He had a bad opinion of mankind, as we may see by his comedies; and he made the best of it, by conversing with them as if he took heed of their claws. The only person, we believe, that he ever opposed, was Collier, who attacked the stage with more spirit than elegance, and who was at enmity with the whole world of wit and fashion. We are far from thinking with Collier, that the abuses of the stage outweigh the benefit it does to the world; nor do we think the world by any 156 means so bad as Congreve supposed it, nor himself either: but it is useful to know the tendencies of those who have a habit of thinking otherwise.

Congreve's bequest created a good deal of gossip. Curll, the principal scandal-monger of those times, got up a catch-penny life of him, professing to be written by "Charles Wilson, Esq.," but supposed to be the work of Oldmixon. There is no relying upon Charles Wilson; but, from internal evidence, we may take his word occasionally; and we may believe him when he says that the duchess and her friends were alarmed at the threatened book. The picture which he draws of her manner has also an air like a woman of quality. She had demanded a sight of the documents on which the book was founded; and being refused, asked what authority they had, and what pieces contained in it were genuine. "Upon being civilly told there would be found several essays, letters, and characters of that gentleman's writing," says Mr. Wilson, "she, with a most affected, extraordinary, dramatic drawl, cried out, 'Not one single sheet of paper, I dare to swear.'"[153] Mr. Wilson's own grand air in return is very amusing. He speaks of Arbuthnot's coming with "expresses," probably to Curll's; and adds, that if he be despatched with any more, "he may, if he please, come to me, who am as easily to be found in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, when in town, as he is in Burlington Gardens.—Cha. Wilson."

Mr. Wilson's book opens with a copy of the will, in which 500l. are left among the Congreves; about 500l. more to friends and domestics, &c. (not omitting 200l. to Mrs. Bracegirdle); and all the rest (with power to annul or increase the complimentary part of the legacies) to the Duchess of Marlborough. We know not that anybody could have brought forward grounds for objecting to this will, had the duchess been poor herself; for his relations may or may not have had claims upon him—relations, as such, not being of necessity friends, though it is generally fit that they should partake of the family prosperity. We except, of course, a man's immediate kindred, particularly those whom 157 he has brought into the world. But here was a woman, rolling in wealth, and relatives neither entirely forgotten, nor yet, it seems, properly assisted. The bequest must, therefore, either have been a mere piece of vanity, or the consequence of habitual subjection to a woman's humours. The duchess was not ungrateful to his memory. She raised him, as we have seen, a monument; and it is related in Cibber's Lives of the the Poets,[154] we know not on what authority, that she missed his company so much, as to cause "an image of him to be placed every day on her toilet-table, to which she would talk as to the living Mr. Congreve, with all the freedom of the most polite and unreserved conversation." There is something very ludicrous in this way of putting a case, which might otherwise be affecting. It is as if there had been a sort of polite mania on both sides.

Congreve's plays are exquisite of their kind, and the excessive heartlessness and duplicity of some of his characters are not to be taken without allowance for the ugly ideal. There is something not natural, both in his characters and wit; and we read him rather to see how entertaining he can make his superfine ladies and gentlemen, and what a pack of sensual busybodies they are, like insects over a pool, than from any true sense of them as "men and women." As a companion he must have been exquisite to a woman of fashion. We can believe that the duchess, in ignorance of any tragic emotion but what was mixed with his loss, would really talk with a waxen image of him in a peruke, and think the universe contained nothing better. It was carrying wit and politeness beyond the grave. Queen Constance in Shakspeare makes grief put on the pretty looks of her lost child: the Duchess of Marlborough made it put on a wig and jaunty air, such as she had given her friend in his monument in Westminster Abbey. No criticism on his plays could be more perfect. Congreve's serious poetry is a refreshment, from its extreme insipidity and common-place. Everybody is innocent in some corner of the mind, and has faith in something. Congreve had no faith in his fellow-creatures, but he had a scholar's (not a poet's) belief in nymphs and weeping fauns; and he wrote elegies full of them, upon queens and marquisses. If it be true that he wrote the character of Aspasia (Lady Elizabeth Hastings), in the Tatler (No. 42), he had indeed faith in something better; for in that paper is not only given 158 an admiring account of a person of very exalted excellence, but the author has said of her one of the finest things that a sincere heart could utter; namely, that "to love her was a liberal education." We cannot help thinking, however, that the generous and trusting hand of Steele is very visible throughout this portrait; and in the touch just mentioned, in particular.

The engaging manners of Mrs. Bracegirdle gave rise to a tragical circumstance in Howard Street—the death of Mountford her fellow-player. Mrs. Bracegirdle, one of the most popular actresses of that time, was a brunette, not remarkable for her beauty, but so much so for the attractiveness superior to beauty, that Cibber calls her the "darling of the stage," and says it was a kind of fashion for the young men about town to have a tenderness for her. This general regard she preserved by setting a value on herself, not so common with actresses at that time as it has been since. Accordingly, some made honourable proposals, which were then still more remarkable. In Rowe's poems, there is a bantering epistle to an Earl of S——, advising him not to care for what people might think, but to pursue his inclinations to that effect. Among others a Captain Hill made desperate love, professing the same intentions; but he was a man of bad character, and the lady would have nothing to say to him. The captain, like a proper coxcomb, took it into his head that nothing could have prevented his success, but some other person; and he fixed upon Mountford as the happy man. Mountford was the best lover and finest gentleman then on the stage, as Mrs. Bracegirdle was the most charming heroine; but it does not appear that Hill had any greater ground for his suspicion than their frequent performance in the same play, which, however, to a jealous man, must have been extremely provoking. They used to act Alexander and Statira together. In Mountford's Alexander, according to Cibber, there were seen "the great, the tender, the penitent, the despairing, the transported, and the amiable, in the highest perfection;" and "if anything," he said, "could excuse that desperate extravagance of love, that almost frantic passion," it was when Mrs. Bracegirdle was the Statira. Imagine a dark-souled fellow in the pit thinking himself in love with this Statira, and that the passion between her and the Alexander was real. This play was acted a few nights before the catastrophe which we are about to relate. 159

Hill was intimate with another man of bad character, Lord Mohun; who agreed to assist him in carrying off Mrs. Bracegirdle. The captain had often said that he would be "revenged" upon Mountford; and dining with Lord Mohun on the day when they attempted the execution of their plot, he said, further, that he would "stab" him "if he resisted;" upon which Mohun said that he would "stand by his friend."

Mohun and Hill met at the playhouse at six o'clock, changed clothes there, and waited some time for Mrs. Bracegirdle; but not finding her come, they took a coach which they had ordered to be ready, drove towards her lodgings in Howard Street, and then back to Drury Lane, where they directed the coach to stop near Lord Clare's house (by the present Craven Buildings). Mrs. Bracegirdle had been supping at a Mr. Page's, in Princess Street, Drury Lane. She came out, accompanied by her mother, brother, and Mr. Page, and was seized by Hill, who, with the aid of a number of soldiers, endeavoured to force her into the coach. In the coach was Lord Mohun, with seven or eight pistols. Old Mrs. Bracegirdle threw her arms round her daughter's waist; her other friends, and at length the passengers, interfered; and our heroine succeeded in getting into her lodgings in Howard Street, Hill and Mohun following them on foot. When they all came to the door, Hill would have spoken with Page, but the latter refused; and the door was shut. A witness, at the trial of Lord Mohun, deposed, that they knocked several times at the door, and then the captain entreated to beg pardon of Mrs. Bracegirdle for having affronted her, but in vain.

Hill and Mohun remained in the street. They sent to a tavern for a bottle of wine, and perambulated before the door with drawn swords. Mrs. Browne, the mistress of the house, came out to know what they did there; upon which Hill said that he would light upon Mountford some day or other, and that he would be revenged on him. The people in-doors, upon this, sent to Mountford's house in Norfolk Street, to inform his wife; and she despatched messengers to all the places where he was likely to be found, to warn him of his danger, but they could not meet with him. Meanwhile the constables and watchmen come up and ask the strangers what they mean. They say they are drinking a bottle of wine. Lord Mohun adds that he is ready to put up his 160 sword, remarking, withal, that he is a "peer of the realm." Upon asking why the other gentleman did not put up his, his lordship tells them, that his friend had lost the scabbard. The watchmen, like "ancient and quiet watchmen," go away to the tavern to "examine who they are;" and in the meantime Mountford makes his appearance coming up the street. Mountford lived in Norfolk Street, but he turned out of the path that led to his own house, and was coming towards Mrs. Bracegirdle's—whether to her house, or to any other, does not appear. By this time two hours had elapsed. Mrs. Browne, who seems to have remained watching at the door, caught sight of Mountford, and hastened to warn him how he advanced. She was either not quick enough, or Mountford (which appears most likely) pressed on in spite of what she said, and, according to her statement, the following dialogue took place between him and Lord Mohun:—

"Your humble servant, my lord."

"Your servant, Mr. Mountford. I have a great respect for you, Mr. Mountford, and would have no difference between us; but there is a thing fallen out between Mr. Hill and Mrs. Bracegirdle."

"My lord, has my wife disobliged your lordship? if she has, she shall ask your pardon. But Mrs. Bracegirdle is no concern of mine: I know nothing of this matter; I come here by accident. But I hope your lordship will not vindicate Hill in such actions as these are."

Upon this, according to Mrs. Browne's statement, Hill bade Mountford draw; which the other said he would; but whether he received his wound before or after she could not tell, owing to its being night-time.

Another female witness, who lived next door, gives the dialogue as follows. Lord Mohun begins:—

"Mr. Mountford, your humble servant. I am glad to see you" (embracing him).

"Who is this? my Lord Mohun?"

"Yes, it is."

"What bringeth your lordship here at this time of night?"

"I suppose you were sent for, Mr. Mountford?"

"No, indeed; I came by chance."

"You have heard of the business of Mrs. Bracegirdle?"

Hill (interfering). "Pray, my lord, hold your tongue, This is not a convenient time to discuss this business." (On saying which, the witness adds, that he would have drawn Mohun away.)

Mountford. "I am very sorry, my lord, to see that your lordship should assist Captain Hill in so ill an action as this: pray let me desire your lordship to forbear."

As soon as he had uttered these words Hill, according to the witness, came up and struck Mountford a box on the ear; 161 upon which the latter demanded with an oath, "what that was for;" and then she gives a confused account of the result, which was the receipt of a mortal wound by the poor actor. It was agreed that Mountford's sword was not drawn in the first instance, and that Hill's was; and the question was settled by the dying deposition of Mountford, who stated several times over, that Lord Mohun offered him no violence, but that Hill struck him with his left hand, and then ran him through the body, before he had time to draw in defence.

Mountford died next day. Hill fled at the time, and we hear no more of him. Mohun was tried for his life, but acquitted, for want of evidence, of malice prepense. The truth is, he was a great fool, and Hill appears to have been another. The captain himself, probably, did not know what he intended, though his words would have hung him had he been caught. They were a couple of box-lobby swaggerers, who had heated themselves with wine; and Hill, who told the constables "they might knock him down if they liked," and was for drawing Mohun away on Mountford's appearance, was most likely overcome with rage and jealousy at hearing the latter speak of him with rebuke. Mohun was at that time very young. He never ceased, however, hankering after this sort of excitement to his dulness, till he got killed in a duel about an estate with the Duke of Hamilton, who was at the same time mortally wounded. Swift, in a letter about it, calls Mohun a "dog." Pennant says, that when his body was taken home bleeding (to his house in Gerrard Street), "Lady Mohun was very angry at its being flung upon the best bed."[155]

In front of the spot now occupied by St. Mary-le-Strand, commonly called the New Church, anciently stood a cross, at which, says Stowe, "in the year 1294, and other times, the justices itinerant sat without London." In the place of this cross was set up a May-pole, by a blacksmith named John Clarges, whose daughter Ann became the wife of Monk, Duke of Albemarle. It was for a long time in a state of decay, and having been taken down in 1713, a new one was erected opposite Somerset House. This second May-pole had two gilt balls and a vane on the summit, and was decorated on 162 holidays with flags and garlands. The races in the "Dunciad" take place

"Where the tall May-pole overlook'd the Strand."

It was removed in 1718, probably being thought in the way of the new church, which was then being finished. Sir Isaac Newton begged it of the parish, and afterwards sent it to the Rector of Wanstead, who set it up in Wanstead Park to support the then largest telescope in Europe. The gift of John Clarges came a day too late. In old times, May had been a great holiday in the streets of London. We shall speak further of it when we come to the parish of St. Andrew Undershaft, so called from a May-pole higher than the church. But though the holiday returned with the Restoration, it never properly recovered the disuse occasioned by the civil wars, and the contempt thrown on it by the spirit of puritanism. We gained too many advantages by the thoughtfulness generated in those times to quarrel with their mistakes; and have no doubt that the progress of knowledge to which they gave an impulse, will bring back the advantages they omitted by the way.[156]

The New Church, or, more properly, the Church of St. Mary-le-Strand, was built by Gibbs, the architect of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. It was one of the "fifty," improperly so called, that are said to have been built in the reign of Queen Anne; for though fifty were ordered, the number was not completed. The old church in this quarter, which stood at a little distance to the south, was removed by the Protector Somerset, to make way for Somerset House, and has never been restored. The parishioners went to the neighbouring churches. The New Church is in the pretty, over-ornamented style, very different from that of St. Martin's with its noble front: and though far better than St. Clement's, and as superior to many places of worship built lately[157] as art is 163 superior to ignorance, yet it surely is not worthy of its advantageous situation. It is one of those toys of architecture which have been said to require glass cases. For the superfluous height of the steeple, Gibbs offered an excuse. A column was to have been erected near the church in honour of Queen Anne, but, as the Queen died, she was no longer thought deserving the column, and the architect was ordered to make a steeple with the materials, whereas he had intended only a belfry. Now, to render the steeple fitting, the church should have had a wider base; but the structure was already begun, and there was no changing the plan of it. It might be still argued, that the steeple should not have been made so high: but then, what was to be done with the stones? This, in the mouth of parish virtù, was a triumphant reply. After all, however, the artist need not have spoilt his church with ornament. He said, that being situated in a very public place, "the parishioners" spared no cost to beautify it; but to beautify a church is not to make it a piece of confectionery.[158]

Somerset House occupies the site of a princely mansion built by Somerset the Protector, brother of Lady Jane Seymour, and uncle to King Edward VI. His character is not sufficiently marked to give any additional interest to the spot. He was great by accident; lost and gained his greatness, according as others acted upon it; and ultimately resigned it on the scaffold. The house he left became the property of the Crown, and was successively in possession of Queen Elizabeth and of the queens of James I., Charles I., and Charles II.

The rooms in this house witnessed many joyous scenes and many anxious ones. Somerset had not long inhabited it when he was taken to the scaffold. Elizabeth, in her wise economy, lent it to her cousin Lord Hunsdon, whom she frequently visited within its walls.

During its occupation by James's queen, Anne of Denmark (from whose family it was called Denmark House), Wilson says, that a constant masquerade was going on, the Queen and 164 her ladies, "like so many sea-nymphs, or nereids," appearing in various dresses, "to the ravishment of the beholders."[159]

Here began the struggle for mastery between Charles I. and Henrietta Maria, which terminated in favour of the latter, though the King behaved himself manfully at first. Henrietta had brought over with her a meddling French household which, after repeated grievances, his Majesty was obliged to send "packing." He summoned them all together one evening in the house, and addressed them as follows:—

"Gentlemen and ladies,

"I am driven to that extremity, as I am personally come to acquaint you, that I very earnestly desire your return into France. True it is, the deportment of some amongst you hath been very inoffensive to me; but others again have so dallied with my patience, and so highly affronted me, as I cannot, and will not, longer endure it."[160]

"The King's address, implicating no one, was immediately followed by a volley of protestations of innocence. An hour after he had delivered his commands, Lord Conway announced to the foreigners, that early in the morning carriages and carts and horses would be ready for them and their baggage. Amidst a scene of confusion, the young Bishop (he was scarcely of age) protested that this was impossible; that they owed debts in London, and that much was due to them. On the following day, the procureur-general of the Queen flew to the keeper of the great seal at the privy council, requiring an admission to address his Majesty, then present at his council, on matters important to himself and the Queen. This being denied, he exhorted them to maintain the Queen in all her royal prerogatives; and he was answered, 'So we do.'

"Their prayers and disputes served to postpone their departure. Their conduct during this time was not very decorous. It appears, by a contemporary letter-writer, that they flew to take possession of the Queen's wardrobe and jewels. They did not leave her a change of linen, since it was with difficulty her Majesty procured one. Everyone now looked to lay his hand on what he might call his own. Everything he could touch was a perquisite. One extraordinary expedient was that of inventing bills to the amount of ten thousand pounds, for articles and other engagements in which they had entered for the service of the Queen, which her Majesty acknowledged, but afterwards confessed that the debts were fictitious."[161]

"In truth," continues the writer, "the breaking up of this French establishment was ruinous to the individuals who had purchased their places at the rate of life annuities." Charles now grew indignant, and sent the following letter to Buckingham:—



"I have receaved your letter by Dic Greame (Sir Richard Grahame). This is my answer: I command you to send all the French away to-morrow out of the towne, if you can by fair meanes (but stike not long in disputing), otherways force them away, dryving them away lyke so manie wilde beastes, until ye have shipped them, and so the devil goe with them. Let me heare no answer, but of the performance of my command. So I rest,

"Your faithful, constant, loving friend,
"C. R."

"The seventh of August, 1626."

"This order put an end to the delay, but the King paid the debts, the fictitious ones and all—at the cost, as it appears, of fifty thousand pounds. Even the haughty beauty, Madame St. George, was presented by the king on her dismission with several thousand pounds and jewels."

Still the French could not go quietly. "The French bishop," says D'Israeli, "and the whole party having contrived all sorts of delays to avoid the expulsion, the yeomen of the guard were sent to turn them out of Somerset House, whence the juvenile prelate, at the same time making his protest and mounting the steps of the coach, took his departure 'head and shoulders.' In a long procession of near forty coaches, after four days' tedious travelling, they reached Dover; but the spectacle of these impatient foreigners so reluctantly quitting England, gesticulating their sorrows or their quarrels, exposed them to the derision, and stirred up the prejudices, of the common people. As Madame St. George, whose vivacity is always described as extremely French, was stepping into the boat, one of the mob could not resist the satisfaction of flinging a stone at her French cap. An English courtier who was conducting her, instantly quitted his charge, ran the fellow through the body, and quietly returned to the boat. The man died on the spot, but no further notice appears to have been taken of the inconsiderate gallantry of the English courtier."

Henrietta had a magnificent Catholic chapel in Somerset House, and a cloister of Capuchins. The former has given occasion to some interesting descriptions of papal show and spectacle in the commentaries just quoted.[163]


Cromwell's body lay in state at Somerset House, as Monk's did afterwards, probably on that account.

Pepys, the prince of gossips, gives an edifying picture of the presence chamber in this palace, when the queens of the two Charleses were there together, a little after the Restoration:

"Meeting Mr. Pierce the chyrurgeon," says he, "he took me into Somerset House, and there carried me into the Queene-mother's presence chamber, where she was with our own queene sitting on her left hand, whom I did never see before, and though she be not very charming, yet she hath a good, modest, and innocent look, which is pleasing. Here I also saw Madame Castlemaine; and, which pleased me most, Mr. Crofts, the King's bastard, a most pretty sparke of about fifteen years old, who, I perceive, do hang much upon my Lady Castlemaine, and is always with her; and, I hear, the queenes both are mighty kind to him. By and by, in comes the King, and anon the duke and his duchesse; so that they being all together, was such a sight, as I never could almost have happened to see, with so much ease and leisure. They staid till it was dark and then went away; the King and his Queene, and my Lady Castlemaine and young Crofts, in one coach, and the rest in other coaches. Here were great stores of great ladies, but very few handsome. The King and Queene were very merry; and he would have made the Queene-mother believe that his Queene was with child, and said that she said so, and the young Queene answered, 'You lye;' which was the first English word that I ever heard her say: which made the King good sport."[164]

After this we shall not wonder at the following:—

"30th (Dec., 1662). Visited Mrs. Ferrer and staid talking with her a good while, there being a little proud, ugly, talking little lady there, that was much crying up the Queene-mother's court at Somerset House above our own Queene's; there being before her no allowance of laughing and the mirth that is at others; and, indeed, it is observed that the greatest court now-a-days is there."[165]

The following print represents Old Somerset House, as it appeared in the reign of Charles II. We have seen, but in vain endeavoured to procure for this book, a scarce one by Hollar, in which the towers in the back ground mark out the front in the Strand, and a tall May-pole to the right was the May-pole of John Clarges. The front, looking on the river, was added by Charles II. Inigo Jones was the architect. In Hollar's print it gives us a taste of the banqueting room at Whitehall in its elevation, and in the harmonies of the windows and pilasters. Below is a portico; and there is another to the right. The chapel, with an enclosure to the left, was the Catholic one; the houses by it, the cloisters of 167 the Capuchins. There was a figure walking in the chapel garden, whom, by his gesticulating arm, we might imagine to be the queen's confessor, studying his to-morrow's sermon, or thinking how he shall get the start of the king's chaplain in saying grace. A curious scene of this kind is worth extracting. "Once," Mr. D'Israeli informs us, "when the king and queen were dining together in the presence, Hacket being to say grace, the queen's confessor would have anticipated him, and an indecorous race was run between the Catholic priest and the Protestant chaplain, till the latter shoved him aside, and the king pulling the dishes to him, the carvers performed their office. Still the confessor, standing by the queen, was on the watch to be before Hacket for the after-grace, but Hacket again got the start. The confessor, however, resounded the grace louder than the chaplain, and the king, in great passion, instantly rose, taking the queen by the hand." The bowling-green that we read of is probably between the two rows of trees to the right, in front of the right portico (the left, if considered from the house). The garden is in the most formal style of the parterre, where

—— "each alley has its brother,

And half the platform just reflects the other;"

a style, however, not without its merits, particularly in admitting so many walks among the flowers, and inviting a pace up and down between the trees. Milton, though he made a different garden for his Eden, spoke of "trim gardens," as enjoyed by "retired leisure." In this back 168 front were the apartments of the court. The scene we have just been reading in Pepys must have passed in one of them. Here Charles the First's widow lived with her supposed husband, the Earl of St. Albans; though she was not so constant to the place as Waller prophesied she would be. She had been used to too much power as a queen, and found she had too little as a dowager. Poor Catherine remained as long as she could. She lived here till she returned to Portugal, in the reign of William III. Speaking of Waller, we must not quit the premises without noticing a catastrophe that befel him at the water-gate, or Somerset-stairs (also, by the way, the work of Inigo Jones). Waller, according to Aubrey, had but "a tender weak body, but was always very temperate." —— (we know not who this is) "made him damnable drunk at Somerset House, where, at the water stayres, he fell down, and had a cruel fall. 'Twas a pity to use such a sweet swan so inhumanly."[166] Waller, who, notwithstanding his weak body, lived to be old, was a water-drinker; but he had a poet's wine in his veins, and was excellent company. Saville said, "that nobody should keep him company without drinking, but Ned Waller."

Old Somerset House

Subsequently to Catherine's departure, old Somerset House was chiefly used as a residence for princes from other countries when on a visit. It was pulled down towards the end of the last century, and the present structure erected by Sir William Chambers, but left unfinished. The unfinished part, which is towards the east, is now in a state of completion, as the King's College. The only memorial remaining of the old palace and its outhouses is in the wall of a house in the Strand, where the sign of a lion still survives a number of other signs, noticed in a list made at the time, and common at that period to houses of all descriptions.

The area of New Somerset House occupies a large space of ground, the basement of the back-front being in the river. Three sides of it are appropriated to a variety of public offices, connected with trade, commerce, and civil economy; and the front was lately dignified by the occupancy of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies and the Royal Academy of Painting. The structure was an ambitious one on the part of the architect, and upon the whole is elegant but timid. There is a look of fragility in it. It has the extent, but not the 169 majesty, of a national emporium. Rules are violated in some instances for the sake of trifles, as is the case of pillars "standing on nothing and supporting nothing;" and in others, it would seem out of a dread of the result, as in the instance of the huge basement over the water, supporting a cupola, which is petty in the comparison. Sir William did well in wishing to have an imposing front towards the river; but he might have had another towards the Strand, nobler than the present one. The lower part is nothing better than a pillared coachway. However, the front of the story is, perhaps, the best part of the whole building. It present a graceful harmony in the proportions.

The Royal Society, which originated in the college rooms of Dr. Wilkins, afterwards bishop of Chester, met, when it was incorporated, at Old Gresham College in Aldersgate Street; then at Arundel House (on account of the fire); then returned to Gresham College; and, after a variety of other experiments upon lodging, was settled by the late king in New Somerset House. This society, on its foundation, was much ridiculed by the wits. Though its ends were great, it naturally busied itself with little things; pragmatical and pedantic persons naturally enough got mixed up with it; some of its members had foibles of enthusiasm and pedantry, which were easily confounded with their capacities; and the jokes were most likely encouraged by the king (Charles II.), who, though fond of scientific experiments, and wearing a grave face in presence of the learned body (of which he declared himself a member), was not a man to forego such an opportunity of jesting. Wilkins wrote a book to show that a man might go to the moon; and the ethical common-places of Boyle (who was as great a natural philosopher as he was a poor moralist) were the origin of Swift's Essays on the Tritical Faculties of the Mind. Then there was the good Evelyn with his hard words, wondering sentimentally at every thing; and jolly Pepys marvelling like Sancho Panza. The readers of Pepys' Diary have been surprised at his not liking Hudibras. Perhaps one reason was, that Butler was the greatest of the jesters against the society. It was impossible not to laugh at the jokes, in which he charges them with attempting to

"Search the moon by her own light;

To take an inventory of all

Her real estate and personal;—


To measure wind, and weigh the air,

And turn a circle to a square;

And in the braying of an ass,

Find out the treble and the bass;

If mares neigh alto, and a cow

In double diapason low."[167]

Evelyn got angry, and pretended to be calm. Cowley expressed his anger with a generous indignation. The following passage in his Ode to the Society concludes with a fine, appropriate simile. "Mischief and true dishonour," says he,

—— "fall on those

Who would to laughter and to scorn expose

So virtuous and so noble a design,

So human for its use, for knowledge so divine.

The things which these proud men despise and call

Impertinent, and vain, and small,

Those smallest things of Nature let me know,

Rather than all their greatest actions do!

Whoever would deposed Truth advance

Into the throne usurped from it,

Must feel at first the blows of Ignorance,

And the sharp points of envious Wit.

So, when, by various turns of the celestial dance

In many thousand years

A star, so long unknown, appears,

Though Heaven itself more beauteous by it grow,

It troubles and alarms the world below,

Does to the wise a star, to fools a meteor, show."[168]

Perhaps a part of the jealousy against the Royal Society arose from a notion which has since become not uncommon, that bodies of this nature, incorporated by kings, are calculated rather to limit inquiry, than to enlarge it. Without stopping to discuss this point, we shall merely observe, that the real greatness of all such bodies, like those of nations themselves, must arise from the greatness of individuals; and that whether the bodies give any lustre to them or not, there is no denying that the individuals give lustre to the bodies. When Sir Isaac Newton became president, jesting ceased.

It is pleasant to think, while passing Somerset House, in the midst of the noise of a great thoroughfare, that philosophical speculation is, perhaps, going on within those graceful walls; that in the midst of all sorts of new things, sight is not lost of the venerable beauties of old; and that art, as well as philosophy, is considering what it shall do for our use and 171 entertainment. The Antiquarian Society originated as far back as the sixteenth century (about the year 1580), and held its first sittings in a room in the Herald's College; but it did not receive a charter till the year 1751. Neither Elizabeth nor James would give it one, fearful, perhaps, of bringing up discussions on matters connected with politics and religion. Elizabeth has now become one of the most interesting of its heroines. There is no society, we think, more likely to increase with age, and to outgrow half-witted objection. The growth of time adds daily to its stock; and as reflecting men become interested in behalf of ages to come, they naturally turn with double sympathy towards the periods that have gone by, and to the multitudes of beating hearts that have become dust. We should like to see the society in a venerable building of its own, raised in some quiet spot, with trees about it, and with painted windows reflecting light through old heraldry.

The Royal Academy of Painters, now removed to Trafalgar Square, first met in Saint Martin's Lane, under the title of the Society of Artists of Great Britain. They had a division among them, which gave rise to the establishment as it now stands; and are a flourishing body, we believe, in point of funds. Of the deceased members who have done them honour, we shall speak when we come to their abodes.

The Turk's Head Coffeehouse, near Somerset House, was frequented by Dr. Johnson.

In a lodging opposite Somerset House, died the facetious Dr. King, whom we have mentioned in speaking of Doctors' Commons. He had been residing in the house of a friend in the garden-grounds between Lambeth and Vauxhall, where he stuck so close to his books and bottle, that he began to decline with the autumn, and shut himself up from his friends. Lord Clarendon, who resided in Somerset House, and was his relation, sent his sister to fetch him to a lodging he had prepared for him over the way, where he died before the lapse of many hours, while all the world were busy with the meats and mince-pies he had so often celebrated; for it was Christmas-day. Dr. King was the author of an Art of Cookery, in which he pleasantly bantered a learned Kitchener of his time; though no man had a livelier relish of their subjects than he. But he wished the relish to be lively in others. At least, he wished them to be leviter in modo, if graviter in re. Though occasionally coarse, he had the right style of banter, 172 and was of use to the Tories. In return, they would have been of use to him, if his habits would have let them. Swift procured him the place of Gazetteer; but he soon got rid of it.

The precinct called the Savoy was anciently the seat of Peter, Earl of Savoy, who came into England to visit his niece Eleanor, Queen to Henry III. It is not known whether the house was built or appointed for him, but on his death it became the property of the queen, who gave it to her second son Edmund, afterwards Earl of Lancaster; and from his time the Savoy was reckoned part and parcel of the earldom and honour of Lancaster, afterwards the duchy. Henry VII. converted the palace into an hospital for the poor; and it remained so till the time of Charles II.; though the master and other officers, by an abuse which grew into a custom, appear to have had no regular inmates, except themselves. The poor were to apply, as it might happen; and what they got depended on the generosity of the master. In answer to a question put by Government in the reign of Queen Anne, it was stated by the lawyer and four chaplains, that "the statutes relating to the reception of the poor had not been observed within the memory of man."[169] Charles II. put wounded soldiers and sailors into the hospital; and since his time it appears to have been used for the reception of soldiers and prisoners. Latterly, it was a prison for deserters.

The Savoy

The Savoy was the scene of a conference in Charles II.'s 173 reign, between the Church and the Presbyterians, in which possession was proved to be nine points of the Gospel, as well as law. The Presbyterians thought so when it was their turn to rule, and would have thought so again; and the progress of genuine Christianity has been a gainer by the mild sway of the Church of England.

In the chapel was buried old Gawen Douglas, the Chaucer of Scotland; and Anne Killegrew, celebrated by Dryden's ode for her poetry and painting. She was the daughter of one of the masters, Dr. Henry Killegrew, brother of the famous jester, and himself a man of talent.

Mrs. Anne Killegrew,

A grace for beauty, and a muse for wit,

had probably the honour, some day, of dining with her washerwoman's daughter, in the guise of Duchess of Albemarle; for John Clarges, the blacksmith, who lived in the Savoy, had a wife who was a washerwoman, and the washerwoman had a daughter, who took linen to Monk, when he was in the Tower, and married him. It is not commonly known that the validity of this marriage was contested. Upon the trial of an action at law between the representatives of Monk and Clarges, some curious particulars, says an article in the Gentleman's Magazine, came out respecting the family of the duchess.

"It appeared that she was the daughter of John Clarges, a farrier, in the Savoy, and farrier to Colonel Monk, in 1632. She was married in the church of St. Lawrence Pountney, to Thomas Ratford, son of Thomas Ratford, late a farrier, servant to Prince Charles, and resident in the Mews. She had a daughter who was born in 1634, and died in 1638. Her husband and she 'lived at the Three Spanish Gypsies, in the New Exchange, and sold wash-balls, powder, gloves, and such things, and she taught girls plain work. About 1647, she, being a sempstress to Colonel Monk, used to carry him linen.' In 1648 her father and mother died. In 1649, she and her husband 'fell out and parted.' But no certificate from any parish register appears, reciting his burial. In 1652, she was married in the church of St. George, Southwark, to 'General George Monk;' and in the following year was delivered of a son, Christopher, (afterwards the second and last Duke of Albemarle), who was suckled by Honour Mills, who sold apples, herbs, oysters, &c. One of the plaintiff's witnesses swore, 'that a little before the sickness, Thomas Ratford demanded and received of him the sum of twenty shillings; that his wife saw Ratford again after the sickness, and a second time after the Duke and Duchess of Albemarle were dead.' A woman swore, 'she saw him on the day his wife (then called Duchess of Albemarle) was put into her coffin, which was after the death of the duke her second husband, who died the 3rd of January, 1669-70.' And a third witness swore, 174 that he saw Ratford about July, 1660.' In opposition to this evidence, it was alleged, that 'all along, during the lives of Duke George and Duke Christopher, this matter was never questioned,' that the latter was universally received as only son of the former, and that 'this matter had been thrice before tried at the bar of the King's Bench, and the defendant had three verdicts.' A witness swore that he owed Ratford five or six pounds, which he had never demanded. And a man, who had married a cousin to the Duke of Albemarle, had been told by his wife, that Ratford died five or six years before the duke married. Lord Chief Justice Holt told the jury, 'If you are certain that Duke Christopher was born while Thomas Ratford was living, you must find for the plaintiff. If you believe he was born after Ratford was dead, or that nothing appears what became of him after Duke George married his wife, you must find for the defendant.' A verdict was given for the defendant, who was only son to Sir Thomas Clarges, knight, brother to the illustrious duchess in question, who was created a baronet October 30, 1674, and was ancestor to the baronets of his name."[170]

It does not appear on which of these accounts the jury found a verdict for the defendant—whether because Ratford was dead, or because nothing had been heard of him; so that the duchess, after all, might have been no duchess. However, she carried it with as high a hand as if she had never been anything else, and Monk had been a blacksmith. There are some amusing notices of her in Pepys.

"8th (March, 1661-2). At noon, Sir W. Batten, Col. Slingsby, and I, by coach to the Tower, to Sir John Robinson's, to dinner, where great good cheer. High company, and among others the Duchess of Albemarle, who is ever a plain homely dowdy."[171]

"9th (Dec. 1665). My Lord Brouncker and I dined with the Duke of Albemarle. At table, the duchess, a very ill-looked woman, complaining of her lord's going to sea next year, said these cursed words:—'If my lord had been a coward, he had gone to sea no more; it may be then he might have been excused, and made an ambassador,' (meaning my Lord Sandwich). This made me mad, and I believe she perceived my countenance change, and blushed herself very much. I was in hopes others had not minded it, but my Lord Brouncker, after we came away, took notice of the words to me with displeasure."[172]

Lord Sandwich, the famous admiral, who has such light repute with posterity, was a relation of Pepys, and much connected with him in affairs. There does not appear to have been the least foundation for the duchess's charge; except, perhaps, that Sandwich had brains enough to know the danger which he braved, while Monk knew nothing but how to fight and lie.


"4th (Nov. 1666)." Pepys says that Mr. Cooling tells him, "the Duke of Albemarle is grown a drunken sot, and drinks with nobody but Troutbecke, whom nobody else will keep company with. Of whom he told me this story; that once the Duke of Albemarle in his drink taking notice, as of a wonder, that Nan Hide should ever come to be Duchess of York: 'Nay,' says Troutbecke, 'ne'er wonder at that, for if you will give me another bottle of wine, I will tell you as great, if not greater, miracle.' And what was that, but that our dirty Besse (meaning his duchess) should come to be Duchess of Albemarle."[173]

"4th (April, 1667). I find the Duke of Albemarle at dinner with sorry company, some of his officers of the army; dirty dishes and a nasty wife at table, and bad meat, of which I made but an ill dinner. Colonel Howard asking how the Prince (Rupert) did (in the last fight); the Duke of Albemarle answering, 'Pretty well,' the other replied, 'but not so well as to go to sea again.'—'How!' says the duchess, 'what should he go for, if he were well, for there are no ships for him to command? And so you have brought your hogs to a fair market,' said she."[174]

"29th (March 1667-8). I do hear by several, that Sir W. Pen's going to sea do dislike the Parliament mightily, and that they have revived the Committee of Miscarriages, to find something to prevent it; and that he being the other day with the Duke of Albemarle, to ask his opinion touching his going to sea, the duchess overheard and came into him; and asked W. Pen how he durst have the confidence to go to sea again to the endangering of the nation, when he knew himself such a coward as he was; which, if true, is very severe."[175]

The habit of charging cowardice against the first officers of the time, which was not confined to the Duchess, is characteristic of the grossness of that period, the refinements of which were entirely artificial and modish. No people talked or acted more grossly than the finest gentlemen of the day, or believed more ill of one another; and it was not to be expected that the uneducated should be behindhand with them.

The Duchess of Albemarle is supposed to have had a considerable hand in the Restoration. She was a great loyalist, and Monk was afraid of her; so that it is likely enough she influenced his gross understanding, when it did not exactly know what to be at. Aubrey says, that her mother was one of the "five women barbers." How these awful personages came up we know not—but he has quoted a ballad upon them:—

"Did you ever hear the like,

Or ever hear the fame,

Of five women barbers,

That lived in Drury Lane?"[176]


After all, the father, John Clarges, must have been a man of substance in his trade, to be enabled to set up the enormous May-pole which we see in the picture. But this did not prevent the daughter from growing up vulgar and foul-mouthed, and a very different person from the Belles Ferronières of old.

The Savoy, on the one side, with its Gothic gate and flint wall, and the splendid mansion called Exeter House on the other, appear in former times to have narrowed the highway hereabouts, as much as Exeter 'Change did lately.

At the corner of Beaufort Buildings flourished Mr. Lillie, the perfumer so often mentioned in the Tatler. He was secretary to Mr. Bickerstaff's Court of Honour, in Shire Lane, where people had actions brought against them for pulling out their watches while their superiors were talking; and for brushing feathers off a gentleman's coat, with a cane "value fivepence." Lillie published two volumes of Contributions, of which the Tatler had made no use. We believe they had no merit. In Beaufort Buildings lived Aaron Hill, and at one time Fielding.

Southampton Street, a little to the west, on the other side of the way, has been much inhabited by wits and theatrical people. Congreve once lived there, Mrs. Bracegirdle, and Garrick. It was called Southampton Street from the noble family of that title, who are allied to the Bedford family, the proprietors.

On the ground of Cecil and Salisbury Streets, opposite Southampton Street, stood the mansion of Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, the cunning son of a wise father. It was he who, contriving to keep up to the last his interest with the queen Elizabeth, and to oust his rivals, Essex and others, was the first to make secret terms with her successor James, and to prepare the way for his reception in England: of which, perhaps, Elizabeth was aware, when she lay moaning on the ground.

Where the Adelphi now stands, was Durham Place, originally a palace of the Bishops of Durham, who resigned it to Henry VIII. Henry made it the scene of magnificent tournaments. The Lord High Admiral Seymour caused the Mint to be established in this house, with a view to coin money for his designs on the throne. It was afterwards inhabited by Dudley, Earl of Northumberland, who here married his son to Lady Jane Grey. But its most illustrious tenant was 177 Raleigh, to whom it was lent by Queen Elizabeth, and who lived in it during the attempt made at Essex House. The four turrets of the mansion, under the roof of which lived and speculated that romantic but equivocal person, have been marked out in an engraving from Hollar. Durham Place, though it got into royal hands during the fluctuation of religious opinions, never seems to have been reckoned out of the pale of the bishopric of Durham; for Lord Pembroke bought it of that see in 1640, and pulled it down for the erection of houses on its site.

"Be it known," says the lively Pennant, speaking of the word 'place,' as applied to great mansions, and interpreted by him to mean palace, "that the word is only applicable to the habitations of princes, or princely persons, and that it is with all the impropriety of vanity bestowed on the houses of those who have luckily acquired money enough to pile on one another a greater quantity of stones or bricks than their neighbours. How many imaginary parks have been formed within precincts where deer were never seen! And how many houses misnamed halls, which never had attached to them the privilege of a manor."[177]

This is true; but unless the words palazzo and piazza are traceable to the same root, palatium (as perhaps they are), place does not of necessity mean palace; and palace certainly does not mean exclusively the habitation of princes or princely persons (that is to say, supposing princeliness to exclude riches,) for in Italy, whence it comes, any large mansion may be called a palace; and many old palaces there were built by merchants. Palatium, it is true, with the old Romans, though it may have originally meant any house on Mount Palatine, yet in consequence of that place becoming the court end of the city, and containing the imperial palace, may have come ultimately to mean only a princely residence. Ovid uses it in that sense in his Metamorphoses.[178] But custom is everything in these matters. Place is now used as a variety of term, either for a large house or street. Perhaps in both 178 cases it ought to imply something of the look of a palace, or at least an openness of aspect analogous to that of a square—square in England, corresponding with place, piazza, and plaça on the Continent. The Piazza in Covent Garden, properly means the place itself, and not the portico.

"To the north of Durham Place, fronting the street," says Pennant, "stood the New Exchange, which was built under the auspices of our monarch in 1608, out of the rubbish of the old stables of Durham House. The King, Queen, and Royal Family, honoured the opening with their presence, and named it Britaine's Burse. It was built somewhat on the model of the Royal Exchange, with cellars beneath, a walk above, and rows of shops over that, filled chiefly with milliners, sempstresses, and the like. This was a fashionable place of resort. In 1654, a fatal affair happened here. Mr. Gerard, a young gentleman, at that time engaged in a plot against Cromwell, was amusing himself in a walk beneath, when he was insulted by Don Pantaleon de Saa, brother to the Ambassador of Portugal, who, disliking the return he met with, determined on revenge. He came there the next day with a set of bravoes, who, mistaking another gentleman for Mr. Gerard, instantly put him to death, as he was walking with his sister in one hand and his mistress in the other. Don Pantaleon was tried, and with impartial justice condemned to the axe. Mr. Gerard, who about the same time was detected in the conspiracy, was likewise condemned to die. By singular chance, both the rivals suffered on the scaffold, within a few hours of each other: Mr. Gerard with intrepid dignity; the Portuguese with all the pusillanimity of an assassin.

"Above stairs," continues Pennant, "sat, in the character of a milliner, the reduced Duchess of Tyrconnel, wife to Richard Talbot, Lord Deputy of Ireland, under James II.; a bigoted Papist, and fit instrument of the designs of the infatuated prince, who had created him Earl before his abdication, and after that, Duke of Tyrconnel. A female, suspected to have been his duchess, after his death, supported herself for a few days (till she was known and otherwise provided for) by the little trade of this place; but had delicacy enough to wish not to be detected. She sat in a white mask, and a white dress, and was known by the name of the White Widow. This Exchange has long since given way to a row of good houses, with uniform front, engraved in Mr. Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, which form a part of the street."[179]

The houses in the quarter behind these, built by the Earl of Pembroke, made way, sixty years back, for the present handsome set of buildings called the Adelphi, from the Messrs. Adam, brothers, who built it.[180] The principal front faces the 179 Thames, and is almost the only public walk left for the inhabitants of London on the river side. The centre house was purchased when new, by Garrick in 1771, and was his town house for the rest of his life. He died there about nine years after; but Mrs. Garrick possessed it till a late period. Mrs. Garrick had been a dancer in her youth, with a name as vernal as need be—Mademoiselle Violette: she died a venerable old lady, at the age of ninety odd. Boswell has recorded a delightful day spent with Johnson and others at her house, the first time she re-opened it after Garrick's death. Sir Joshua Reynolds was there, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Boscawen, and others. "She looked well," says Boswell; "talked of her husband with complacency; and while she cast her eyes at his portrait, which was hung over the chimney-piece, said, that 'death was now the most agreeable object to her.'"[181] It is no dishonour to her, that her constitution was too good for her melancholy. She spoke enthusiastically of her husband to the last, and used to decide on theatrical subjects, by right of being his representative.

On the same terrace had lived their common friend Beauclerc. On coming away after the party just mentioned, Boswell tells us that Johnson and he stopped a little while by the rails of the Adelphi, looking on the Thames; "and I said to him," says Boswell, "with some emotion, that I was now thinking of two friends we had lost, who once lived in the buildings behind us, Beauclerc and Garrick." "Ay, sir," said he tenderly, "and two such friends as cannot be supplied."[182]

When Beauclerc was labouring under the illness that carried him off, Johnson said to Boswell, in a faltering voice, that he "would walk to the extent of the diameter of the earth to save him." It does not appear what Beauclerc had in his nature to excite this tenderness; but it is observable, that Johnson had a kind of speculative regard for rakes and men of the town, if he thought them not essentially vicious. He seemed willing to regard them as evidences of the natural virtue of all men, bad as well as good, and of the excuse furnished for irregularity by animal spirits. It is not impossible even that he might have thought them rather conventionally than abstractedly vicious. He had a similar regard for Hervey, a great rake, who was very kind to him. "Sir," said he, "if you call a dog 'Hervey,' I shall love him." At 180 the same time it is not to be forgotten, that these rakes were fine gentlemen and men of birth; representatives, in some respect, of the license assumed by authority. Beauclerc, however, like Hervey, had a taste for better things than he practised, and could love scrupulous men. Boswell has given an interesting account of his first intimacy with Johnson. Langton and Beauclerc had become intimate at Oxford. "Their opinions and mode of life," we are told, "were so different, that it seemed utterly impossible they should at all agree;" but Beauclerc "had so ardent a love of literature, so acute an understanding, such elegance of manners, and so well discerned the excellent qualities of Mr. Langton, a gentleman eminent not only for worth and learning, but for an inexhaustible fund of entertaining conversation, that they became intimate friends."

"Johnson, soon after this acquaintance began, passed a considerable time at Oxford. He at first thought it strange that Langton should associate so much with one who had the character of being loose, both in his principles and practice, but by degrees, he himself was fascinated. Mr. Beauclerc's being of the St. Albans family, and having, in some particulars, a resemblance to Charles the Second, contributed, in Johnson's imagination, to throw a lustre upon his other qualities; and, in a short time, the moral, pious Johnson, and the gay, dissipated Beauclerc were companions. 'What a coalition!' said Garrick, when he heard of this: 'I shall have my old friend to bail out of the round-house.' But I can bear testimony that it was a very agreeable association. Beauclerc was too polite, and valued learning and wit too much, to offend Johnson by sallies of infidelity or licentiousness; and Johnson delighted in the good qualities of Beauclerc, and hoped to correct the evil. Innumerable were the scenes in which Johnson was amused by these young men. Beauclerc could take more liberty with him than any body with whom I ever saw him; but, on the other hand, Beauclerc was not spared by his respectable companion, when reproof was proper. Beauclerc had such a propensity to satire, that at one time, Johnson said to him, 'You never open your mouth but with intention to give pain, and you have often given me pain, not from the power of what you said, but from seeing your intention.' At another time, applying to him, with a slight alteration, a line of Pope, he said—

'Thy love of folly, and thy scorn of fools'—

Every thing thou dost shows the one, and every thing thou say'st the other.' At another time he said to him, 'Thy body is all vice, and thy mind all virtue.' Beauclerc not seeming to relish the compliment, Johnson said, 'Nay, sir, Alexander the Great, marching in triumph into Babylon, could not have desired to have had more said to him.'"[183]

The streets in the Adelphi—John, Robert, Adam, &c.—are 181 named from the builders. In this instance, the names are well bestowed; but the "fond attempt," on the part of bricklayers and builders in general to give a "deathless lot" to their names in the same way, is very idle. Wherever we go now-a-days, among the new buildings, especially in the suburbs, we meet with names that nobody knows anything about, nor ever will know. Probably, as knowledge increases, this custom will go out. With this exception, streets in the British metropolis have hitherto been named after royalty or nobility, or from local circumstances, or from saints. Saints went out with popery. The reader of the Spectator will recollect the dilemma which Sir Roger de Coverley underwent in his youth, from not knowing whether to ask for Marylebone or Saint Marylebone. In Paris they have streets named after men of letters. There is the Quai de Voltaire; and one of the most frequented thoroughfares in that metropolis, for it contains the Post-Office, is Jean Jacques Rousseau Street. It is not unlikely that a similar custom will take place in England before long. A nobleman, eminent for his zeal in behalf of the advancement of society, has called a road in his neighbourhood, Addison Road.[184]

In John Street, Adelphi, are the rooms of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce. This society originated in 1753, at the suggestion of Mr. Shipley, an artist, and, as the title implies, is very miscellaneous in its object; perhaps too much so to make sufficient impression. It gives rewards for discoveries of all sorts, and for performances of youth in the fine arts. It is, however, one of those combinations of zealous and intelligent men, which have marked the progress of latter times, and which will have an incalculable effect on posterity. Its great room is adorned with the celebrated pictures of Mr. Barry, which he painted in order to refute the opinion that Englishmen had no genius for the higher department of art, no love of music, &c., nor a proper relish of anything, "even life itself." The statement of these positions was not so discreet as the paintings were clever. Mr. Barry was one of those impatient, self-willed men who, with a portion of genuine power, think it greater than it is, and will not take the pains to make themselves masters of their own weapons. His pictures in the Adelphi, which are illustrations of the progress of society, are striking, ingenious, with great elegance here and there, and now and then an 182 evidence of the highest feeling; as in the awful pity of the retributive angel who presides over the downfall of the wicked and tyrannical. But the colouring is bad and "foxy;" his Elysium is deformed with the heterogeneous dresses of all ages, William Penn talking in a wig and hat with Lycurgus, &c. (which, however philosophically such things might be regarded in another world, are not fitly presented to the eye in this); and by way of disproving the bad taste of the English in music, he has put Dr. Burney in a coat and toupee, floating among the water nymphs! The consequence is, that although these pictures are, perhaps, the best ever exhibited together in England by one artist, they fall short of what he intended to establish by them, as far as England is concerned.

Between Adam Street and George Street, on the other side of the Strand, is Bedford Street, the site of an old mansion of the Earls and Dukes of Bedford.

With George Street commence the precincts of an ancient "Inn," or palace, originally belonging to the Bishops of Norwich; then to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk; then to the Archbishops of York, from whom it was called York House; then to the Crown, who let it to Lord Chancellor Egerton and to Bacon; then to the Duke of Buckingham, the favourite, who rebuilt it with great magnificence, and at whose death it was let to the Earl of Northumberland; and finally to the second Duke of Buckingham, who pulled it down and converted it into the present streets and alleys, the names of which contain his designation at full length, even to the sign of the genitive case, for there is an "Of Alley:" so that we have George, Villiers, Duke, Of, Buckingham.

Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, was the man who, on his marriage with Henry VIII.'s sister, appeared at a tournament on a horse that had a cloth half frieze and half gold, with that touching motto—

Cloth of gold, do not thou despise,

Though thou be matched with cloth of frize:

Cloth of frize, be not thou too bold,

Though thou be matched with cloth of gold.

Bacon belongs to Gray's Inn, and the second Duke of Buckingham to Wallingford House, where he chiefly resided (on the site of the present Admiralty): but the reader, who should go down Buckingham Street, and contemplate the spot which Inigo Jones and the trees have beautified, will not fail to be struck with the many different spirits that have 183 passed through this spot—the romantic Suffolk; the correct Egerton; the earth-moving Bacon; the first Buckingham with a spirit equal to his fortunes; the second, witty but selfish, who lavished them away; and all the visitors, of so many different qualities, which these men must have had, crowding or calmly moving to the gate across the water, in quiet or in jollity, clients, philosophers, poets, courtiers, mistresses, gallant masques, the romance of Charles the First's reign, and the gaudy revelry of Charles II. A little spot remains, with a few trees, and a graceful piece of art, and the river flowing as calmly as meditation.


The only vestige now remaining of the splendid mansion of the Buckinghams is the Water-Gate at the end of Buckingham Street, called York Stairs,[185] and built by Inigo Jones. It has 184 been much admired, and must have admitted, in its time, the entrance of many extraordinary persons.

York Buildings affords us another name, not unworthy to be added to the most useful and delightful of these, Richard Steele, who lived here just before he retired into Wales. The place in his time was celebrated for a concert-room. We must not omit the termination of a curious dispute at the gate of York House, to which Pepys was a witness.

"30th (September 1661). This morning up by moonshine, at five o'clock," (here was one of the great secrets of the animal spirits of those times), "to Whitehall, to meet Mr. More at the Privy Seale, and there I heard of a fray between the two embassadors of Spaine and France, and that this day being the day of the entrance of an embassador from Sweeden, they intended to fight for the precedence. Our King, I heard, ordered that no Englishman should meddle in the business, but let them do what they would. And to that end, all the soldiers in town were in arms all the day long, and some of the train bands in the city, and a great bustle through the city all the day. Then we took coach (which was the business I came for) to Chelsey, to my Lord Privy Seale, and there got him to seal the business. Here I saw by daylight two very fine pictures in the gallery, that a little while ago I saw by night; and did also go all over the house, and found it to be the prettiest contrived house that ever I saw in my life. So back again; and at Whitehall light, and saw the soldiers and people running up and down the streets. So I went to the Spanish embassador's and the French, and there saw great preparations on both sides; but the French made the most noise and ranted most, but the other made no stir almost at all; so that I was afraid the other would have too great a conquest over them. Then to the wardrobe and dined there; and then abroad, and in Cheapside hear, that the Spanish hath got the best of it, and killed three of the French coach-horses and several men, and is gone through the city next to our King's coach; at which, it is strange to see how all the city did rejoice. And, indeed, we do naturally all love the Spanish and hate the French. But I, as I am in all things curious, presently got to the water side, and there took oars to Westminster Palace, and ran after them through all the dirt, and the streets full of people; till at last, in the Mews, I saw the Spanish coach go with fifty drawn swords at least to guard it, and our soldiers shouting for joy. And so I followed the coach, and then met it at York House, where the embassador lies; and there it went in with great state. So then I went to the French house, where I observe still, that there is no men in the world of a more insolent spirit where they do well, nor before they begin a matter, and 185 more abject if they do miscarry, than these people are; for they all look like dead men, and not a word among them, but shake their heads. The truth is, the Spaniards were not only observed to fight more desperately, but also they did outwitt them; first in lining their own harnesse with chains of iron that they could not be cut, then in setting their coach in the most advantageous place, and to appoint men to guard every one of their horses, and others for to guard the coach, and others the coachman. And, above all, in setting upon the French horses and killing them, for by that means the French were not able to stir. There were several men slaine of the French, and one or two of the Spaniards, and one Englishman by a bullet. Which is very observable, the French were at least four to one in number, and had near one hundred cases of pistols among them, and the Spaniards had not one gun among them, which is for their honour for ever, and the others' disgrace. So having been very much daubed with dirt, I got a coach and home; where I vexed my wife in telling her of this story, and pleading for the Spaniards against the French."[186]

In James the Second's time, the French embassy had the house of their rival, and drew the town to see Popish devices in wax-work.

"The fourth of April," says Evelyn (1672), "I went to see the fopperies of the Papists at Somerset House and York House, where now the French ambassador had caused to be represented our Blessed Saviour at the Pascal Supper with his disciples, in figures and puppets made as big as the life, of wax-work, curiously clad and sitting round a large table, the room nobly hung, and shining with innumerable lamps and candles; this was exposed to all the world; all the city came to see it: such liberty had the Roman Catholicks at this time obtained."[187]

They have obtained more liberty since, and can dispense with these "fopperies." At least they would do well to think so.

Hungerford Market takes its name from an old Wiltshire family, who had a mansion here in the time of Charles II., which they parted with, like others, to the encroachments of trade. It used to be an inconvenient and disagreeable place, little frequented, but has lately been converted into a handsome market, and put an end to the monopoly of Billingsgate.

No. 7 in Craven Street is celebrated as having been, at one time, the residence of Franklin. What a change along the shore of the Thames in a few years (for two centuries are less than a few in the lapse of time), from the residence of a set of haughty nobles, who never dreamt that a tradesman could be anything but a tradesman, to that of a yeoman's son, and a printer, who was one of the founders of a great state!



Northumberland House is the only one remaining of all the great mansions which lorded it on the river side. It was built by Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, son of the famous Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, the poet; but a very unworthy son, except in point of capacity. He was one of those men, who, wanting a sense of moral beauty, are in every other respect wise in vain, and succeed only to become despised and unhappy. He was the grossest of flatterers; paid court to the most opposite rivals, in the worst manner; and seems to have stuck at nothing to obtain his ends. His perception of what was great, extrinsically, led him to build this princely abode; and his worship of success and court favour degraded him into an accomplice of Carr, Earl of Somerset. It is thought by the historians, that he died just in time to save him from the disgraceful consequences of the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.[188]


Northumberland House was built upon the site of the old hospital of St. Mary Roncesvaux—Osborne says, with Spanish gold. "Part of the present mansion," says the Londinium Redivivum, "is from the designs of Bernard Jansen, and the frontispiece or gateway from those of Gerard Christmas. This gateway cannot possibly be described correctly, as the ornaments are scattered in the utmost profusion, from the base to the attic, which supports a copy of Michael Angelo's celebrated lion. Double ranges of grotesque pilasters inclose eight niches on the sides, and there are a bow window and an open arch above the gate. The basement of the whole front contains fourteen niches, with ancient weapons crossed within them; and the upper stories have twenty-four windows, in two ranges, with pierce battlements. Each wing terminates in a cupola, and the angles have rustic quoins. The quadrangle within the gate is in a better style of building, but rather distinguished by simplicity than grandeur; and the garden next the Thames, with many trees, serves to screen the mansion from those disagreeable objects which generally bound the shores of the river in this vast trading city."

"Northumberland House was discovered to be on fire, March 18, 1780, at five o'clock in the morning, which raged from that hour till eight, when the whole front next the Strand was completely destroyed. Dr. Percy's apartments were consumed; but great part of his library escaped the general ruin."[189]

We have been the more particular in laying this extract before our readers, because, though the house still exists, the public see little of it. All they behold, indeed, is the screen or advanced guard, which is no very fine sight, and only serves to narrow the way. Of the quadrangle inside the public know nothing; and thousands pass every day without 188 suspecting that there is such a thing as a tree on the premises.

The Percys had this house in consequence of a marriage with the daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, who was Northampton's nephew. During the Earl's possession it was called Suffolk House, and furnished an escape to a person of the name of Emerson from one of the mad pranks of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who was for fighting everybody. His lordship had had sundry fits of ague, which brought him at last to be "so lean and yellow, that scarce any man," he says, "did know him."

"It happened," he continues, "during this sickness, that I walked abroad one day towards Whitehall, where, meeting with one Emerson, who spoke very disgraceful words of Sir Robert Harley, being then my dear friend, my weakness could not hinder me to be sensible of my friend's dishonour; shaking him, therefore, by a long beard he wore, I stept a little aside, and drew my sword in the street; Captain Thomas Scrivan, a friend of mine, not being far off on one side, and divers friends of his on the other side. All that saw me wondered how I could go, being so weak and consumed as I was, but much more that I would offer to fight; howsoever, Emerson, instead of drawing his sword, ran away into Suffolk House, and afterwards informed the Lords of the Council of what I had done; who, not long after sending for me, did not so much reprehend my taking part with my friend, as that I would adventure to fight, being in such a bad condition of health."[190]

The disgraceful words spoken by Emerson were very likely nothing at all, except to his lordship's ultra-chivalrous fancy; but this is a curious scene to imagine at the entrance of the present quiet Northumberland House—Emerson slipping into the gate with horror in his looks, and the lean and yellow ghost of the knight-errant behind him, sword in hand.

Mr. Malcolm has spoken of the apartments of Dr. Percy. This was Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, who gave an impulse to the spirit of the modern muse by his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. He was a kinsman of the Northumberland family. We believe it was in Northumberland House that his friend Goldsmith, stammering out a fine speech of thanks to a personage in a splendid dress whom he took for the Duke, was informed, when he had done, that it was his Grace's "gentleman."

A little way up Catherine Street is Exeter Street, where Johnson first lodged when he came to town. His lodgings 189 were at the house of Mr. Morris, a stay-maker. He dined at the Pine-apple in New Street, "for eightpence, with very good company." Several of them, he told Boswell, had travelled. "They expected to meet every day; but did not know one another's names." The rest of his information is a curious and interesting specimen of his disposition. "It used," said he, "to cost the rest a shilling, for they drank wine: but I had a cut of meat for sixpence, and bread for a penny, and gave the waiter a penny; so that I was quite as well served, nay, better than the rest, for they gave the waiter nothing." Johnson drank at this time no fermented liquors. Boswell supposes that he had gained a knowledge of the art of living in London from an Irish painter, whom he knew at Birmingham, and of whom he gave this account.

"Thirty pounds a year," according to this economical philosopher, "was enough to enable a man to live there without being contemptible. He allowed ten pounds for clothes and linen. He said a man might live in a garret at eighteen pence a week; few people would inquire where he lodged: and if they did, it was easy to say, 'Sir, I am to be found at such a place.' By spending three pence at a coffee-house, he might be for some hours every day in very good company; he might dine for sixpence, breakfast on bread and milk for a penny, and do without supper. On clean shirt day he went abroad and paid visits."[191]

The Strand end of Catherine Street is mentioned in Gay's "Trivia" for a notoriety which it now unfortunately shares with too many places to render it remarkable. His picture of one of the women he speaks of possesses a literal truth, the characteristic of the whole of this curious poem.

"'Tis she who nightly strolls with sauntering pace;

No stubborn stays her yielding shape embrace;

Beneath the lamp her tawdry ribands glare,

The new scower'd manteau, and the slattern air;

High draggled petticoats her travels show,

And hollow cheeks with artful blushes glow.

In riding-hood, near tavern door she plies,

Or muffled pinners hide her livid eyes.

With empty band-box she delights to range,

And feigns a distant errand from the 'Change."

Gay contents himself with a picture, and a warning. In our times, we have learnt to pity the human beings, and to think what can be done to remedy the first causes of the evil.

The houses between Catherine Street and Burleigh Street stand upon ground formerly occupied by Wimbledon House, a mansion built by Sir Edward Cecil, whom Charles I. created 190 Viscount Wimbledon. It was burnt down; and Stow says, that the day before, his lordship's country house at Wimbledon was blown up.

The late Lyceum was built about the year 1765, as an academy and exhibition-room, in anticipation of the royal one then contemplated. It did not succeed; and part of it was converted into a theatre for musical performances. It then became a place of exhibition for large panoramic pictures, among which we remember with pleasure the battle pieces of Robert Ker Porter (Seringapatam, Acre, &c.) A species of entertainment then took place in it, which has justly been called "useful and liberal," presenting, on a regular stage, pictures or scenes of famous places, while a person read accounts of them from a desk. We remember the Ægyptiana, or description of Ægypt, and, if we mistake not, an attempt, not quite so well founded, to illustrate the scenes of Milton's Allegro and Penseroso. Neither of the attempts met with success; but the former, perhaps, might be tried again with advantage, now that information and the thirst for it have so wonderfully increased. The panorama, however, may have realised all that can be done in this way. Visitors to those admirable contrivances may be almost said to become travellers; and a reader at hand might disturb them, like an impertinence. We recollect being so early one morning at a panorama, that we had the place to ourselves. The room was without a sound, and the scene Florence; and when we came out, the noise and crowd of the streets had an effect on us, as if we had been suddenly transported out of an Italian solitude. The Lyceum has since been handsomely rebuilt as a new English Opera House, under the management of Mr. Arnold, who has done much to cultivate a love of music in this country. Over the former theatre, we believe, was a room built by him for the members of the famous Beef-Steak Club, equally celebrated for loving their steaks and roasting one another.[192]


The little crowded nest of shop-counters and wild beasts, called Exeter Change, which has lately been pulled down, took its name from a mansion belonging to the Bishop of Exeter, whether on the south or north side of the street does not appear. It is not necessary that the spot should have been the same. Any connection with a large mansion, or its neighbourhood, is sufficient to give name to a new house. Pennant thinks, we know not on what authority, that the great Lord Burleigh had a mansion on the spot; and he adds, that he died here. Exeter Change was supposed to have been built in the reign of William and Mary, as a speculation. The lower story, at the beginning of the last century, was appropriated to the shops of milliners; and upholsterers had the upper. In the year 1721, the town were invited to this place to look at a bed.

"Mr. Normond Cony," saith the historian, "exhibited a singular bed for two shillings and sixpence each person, the product of his own ingenuity; the curtains of which were woven in the most ingenious manner, with feathers of the greatest variety and beauty he could procure; the ground represented white damask, mixed with silver and ornaments of various descriptions, supporting vases of flowers and fruits. Each curtain had a purple border a foot in breadth, branched with flowers shaded with scarlet, the valence and bases the same. The bed was eighteen feet in height; and from the description must have been a superior effort of genius, equally original with the works of the South Sea Islanders, whose cloaks, mantles, and caps, grace the collection formed by Captain Cook, now preserved in the British Museum."[193]

This was a gentle exhibition enough. Sixty years ago, instead of the bed, was presented the right honourable body of Lord Baltimore, a personage who ran away with young ladies against their will. The body lay "in state," previously to its interment at Epsom. Lord Baltimore was succeeded by the wild beasts, who kept possession in their narrow unhealthy cages till the death of the poor elephant in 1826, which conspiring with the new spirit of improvement to call final attention to this excresence in the Strand, it was adjudged to be rooted out. The death of this unfortunate animal, who seems to have had just reason enough to grow mad, had its proper effect, in exciting the public to guard against similar evils; nor is it likely that these intelligent and noble creatures, nor 192 indeed any others, will undergo such a monstrous state of existence again.

Exeter Change

Passing one day by Exeter Change, we beheld a sight strange enough to witness in a great thoroughfare—a fine horse startled, and pawing the ground, at the roar of lions and tigers. It was at the time, we suppose, when the beasts were being fed.


Lincoln's Inn—Ben Jonson's Bricklaying—Enactments against Beards—Oliver Cromwell, More, Hale, and other eminent Students of Lincoln's Inn—Lincoln's Inn Fields, or Square—Houses there built by Inigo Jones—Pepys's Admiration of the Comforts of Mr. Povey—Surgeons' College—Sir Richard and Lady Fanshawe, and Lord Sandwich—Execution of the patriotic Lord Russell, with an Account of the Circumstances that led to and accompanied it, and some Remarks on his Character—Affecting Passages from the Letters of his Widow—Ludicrous Story connected with Newcastle House.


Lincoln's Inn, upon the side of Chancery Lane, presents a long, old front of brick, more simple than clean. It is saturated with the London smoke. Within is a handsome row of buildings, and a garden, in which Bickerstaff describes himself as walking, by favour of the Benchers, who had grown old with him.[194] It will be recollected that Bickerstaff lived in Shire Lane, which leads into this inn from Temple-bar. The garden-wall 193 on the side next Chancery Lane is said by Aubrey to have been the scene of Ben Jonson's performance as a bricklayer. We have spoken of it in our remarks on that lane; but shall now add the particulars. "His mother, after his father's death," says Aubrey, "married a bricklayer; and 'tis generally said that he wrought for some time with his father-in-law, and particularly on the garden-wall of Lincoln's Inn, next to Chancery Lane." Aubrey's report adds, that "a knight, or bencher, walking through and hearing him repeat some Greek names out of Homer, discoursing with him, and finding him to have a wit extraordinary, gave him some exhibition to maintain him at Trinity College in Cambridge."[195] Fuller says, that he had been there before at St. John's, and that he was obliged by the family poverty to return to the bricklaying.[196] "And let them not blush," says this good-hearted writer, "that have, but those who have not a lawful calling. He helped in the building of the new structure of Lincoln's Inn, where, having a trowell in his hand, he had a book in his pocket." A late editor of Ben Jonson rejects these literary accounts of the poet's bricklaying as "figments."[197] And he brings his author's own representations to prove that he left the business, not for the University, but the continent. As this writer has nothing, however, to oppose to what Aubrey and Fuller believed respecting the rest, the reports, so far, are worth as much as they were before. Nobody was more likely than Ben Jonson to carry a Greek or Latin book with him on such occasions: nor, as far as that matter goes, to let others become aware of it.

Pennant's sketch of Lincoln's Inn continues to be the best, notwithstanding all that has been said of it since his time. He begins with observing, that "the gate is of brick, but of no small ornament to the street." This is the gate in Chancery Lane.

"It was built," he continues, "by Sir Thomas Lovel, once a member of this inn, and afterwards treasurer of the household to Henry VII. The other parts were rebuilt at different times, but much about the same period. None of the original building is left, for it was formed out of the house of the Black Friars, which fronted Holborn end of the palace of Ralph Nevil, Chancellor of England, and Bishop of Chichester, built by him in the reign of Henry III., on a piece of ground granted to him by the king. It continued to be inhabited 194 by some of the successors in the see. This was the original site of the Dominicians or Black Friars, before they removed to the spot now known by that name. On part of the ground, now covered with buildings, Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, built an Inne, as it was in those days called, for himself, in which he died in 1312. The ground did belong to the Black Friars; and was granted by Edward I. to that great Earl. The whole has retained his name. One of the Bishops of Chichester, in after times, did grant leases of the buildings to certain students of the law, reserving to themselves a rent, and lodgings for themselves whenever they came to town. This seems to have taken place about the time of Henry VII."

"The chapel," continues our author, "was designed by Inigo Jones; it is built upon massy pillars, and affords, under its shelter, an excellent walk. This work evinces that Inigo never was designed for a Gothic architect. The Lord Chancellor holds his sittings in the great hall. This, like that of the Temple, had its revels, and great Christmasses. Instead of the Lord of Misrule, it had its King of the Cocknies. They had also a Jack Straw; but in the time of Queen Elizabeth he, and all his adherents, were utterly banished. I must not omit, that in the same reign sumptuary laws were made to regulate the dress of the members of the house; who were forbidden to wear long hair, or great ruffs, cloaks, boots, or spurs. In the reign of Henry VIII. beards were prohibited at the great table, under pain of paying double commons. His daughter, Elizabeth, in the first year of her reign, confined them to a fortnight's growth, under penalty of 3s. 4d.: but the fashion prevailed so strongly, that the prohibition was repealed, and no manner of size limited to that venerable excrescence."[198]

'Tis merry in the hall,

When beards wag all,

says the proverb; but the lawyers in those days had already so many refreshments to their solemnity, in masks and revels, that it was thought necessary to provide for decency of mastication in ordinary. Attempts to regulate trifles of this sort, however, have always been found more difficult than any others, the impertinence of the interference being in proportion. Think of the officers watching the illegal growth of the beard; the vexation of the "dandies," who wanted their beards out of doors; and the resentment of the unservile part of the elders! He that parted with his beard, rather than his three and fourpence, would be looked upon as an alien.

In the hall of Lincoln's Inn is Hogarth's celebrated failure of "Paul preaching before Felix." It seems hard upon a great man to exhibit a specimen of what he could not do. However, the subject does not appear to have been of the society's choosing. A bequest had been made them which produced a commission to Hogarth, probably in expectation 195 that he would illustrate some of the consequences of good laws in his usual manner.

Old Fortescue was of Lincoln's Inn; Spelman, the great antiquary; Sir Thomas More; Cromwell; Sir Mathew Hale; Lord Chancellor Egerton, otherwise known by his title of Lord Ellesmere; Shaftesbury, the statesman; and Lord Mansfield. Dr. Donne also studied there for a short time, but left the Inn to enjoy an inheritance, and became a clergyman. However, he returned to it in after life as preacher of the lecture; which office he held about two years, to the great satisfaction of his hearers. Tillotson was another preacher. It is difficult to present to one's imagination the venerable judges in their younger days; to think of Hale as a gay fellow (which he was till an accident made him otherwise); or fancy that Sir Thomas More had any other face but the profound and ponderous one in his pictures. His face, indeed, must have been full of meaning enough at all times; for at twenty-one he was a stirring youth in Parliament; and at twenty he took to wearing a hair-shirt, as an aid to his meditations. It is interesting to fancy him passing us in the Inn square, with a glance of his deep eye; we (of posterity) being in the secret of his hair-shirt, which the less informed passengers are not.

The account of Hale's change of character, on his entrance into Lincoln's Inn, merits to be repeated.

"At Oxford," says his biographer, "he fell into many levities and extravagances, and was preparing to go along with his tutor, who went chaplain to Lord Vere, into the Low Countries, with a resolution of entering himself into the Prince of Orange's army, when he was diverted from his design by being engaged in a lawsuit with Sir William Whitmore, who laid claim to part of his estate. Afterwards, by the persuasions of Serjeant Glanville, who happened to be his counsel in this case, and had an opportunity of observing his capacity, he resolved upon the study of the law, and was admitted of Lincoln's Inn, November 8, 1629. Sensible of the time he had lost in frivolous pursuits, he now studied at the rate of sixteen hours a-day, and threw aside all appearance of vanity in his apparel. He is said, indeed, to have neglected his dress so much, that, being a strong and well-built man, he was once taken by a press-gang, as a person very fit for sea-service, which pleasant mistake made him regard more decency in his clothes for the future, though never to any degree of extravagant finery. What confirmed him still more in a serious and regular way of life was an accident, which is related to have befallen one of his companions. Hale, with other young students of the Inn, being invited out of town, one of the company called for so much wine, that notwithstanding all Hale could do to prevent it, he went on in his excess till he fell down in a fit, seemingly dead, and was with some difficulty recovered. This particularly affected Hale, in whom the 196 principles of religion had been early implanted; and, therefore, retiring into another room, and falling down upon his knees, he prayed earnestly to God, both for his friend, that he might be restored to life again, and for himself, that he might be forgiven for being present and countenancing so much excess; and he vowed to God, that he would never again keep company in that manner, nor drink a health while he lived. His friend recovered; and from this time Mr. Hale forsook all his gay acquaintance, and divided his whole time between the duties of religion, and the studies of his profession."

Cromwell is supposed to have been about two years in Lincoln's Inn, and while he was there attended to anything but the law, the future devout Protector being, in fact, nothing more or less than a gambler and debauchee. However, he is supposed to have run all his round of dissipation in that time. Mansfield's residence in Lincoln's Inn, when Mr. Murray, gave rise to a singular reference in Pope. It is in the translation of Horace's ode, "Intermissa Venus diu," where the poet says to the goddess—

"I am not now, alas! the man

As in the gentle reign of my Queen Anne.

To number five direct your doves,

There spread round Murray all your blooming loves;

Noble and young, who strikes the heart

With every sprightly, every decent part;

Equal the injured to defend,

To charm the mistress, or to fix the friend."

This number five to which Venus is to go with her doves, points out Murray's apartments in Lincoln's Inn. Pope, as we have mentioned elsewhere, thought that nature intended his noble acquaintance for an Ovid; a notion partly suggested, perhaps, by Ovid's having been a lawyer. It was during his residence in Lincoln's Inn, that the future Lord Chief Justice is said to have drunk the Pretender's health on his knees; which he very likely did. The charge was brought up twenty years afterwards, to ruin his prospects under the Hanover succession; but it came to nothing. One dynasty has no dislike to a strong prejudice in favour of a preceding dynasty, when the latter has ceased to be formidable. The propensity to adhere to royalty is looked upon as a good symptom; and the event generally answers the expectation. The favourite courtiers under the house of Brunswick have come of Jacobite families.

A century ago, according to a passage in Gay, Lincoln's Inn and the neighbourhood were dangerous places to walk through at night. 197

"Where Lincoln's Inn, wide space, is railed around,

Cross not with venturous step; there oft is found

The lurking thief, who while the daylight shone,

Made the wall echo with his begging tone:

That crutch, which late compassion moved, shall wound

Thy bleeding head, and fell thee to the ground.

Though thou art tempted by the linkman's call,

Yet trust him not along the lonely wall;

In the midway he'll quench the flaming brand,

And share the booty with the pilfering band.

Still keep the public streets, where oily rays,

Shot from the crystal lamp, o'erspread the ways."

The wall here mentioned is probably that which was not long since displaced by the new one, and the elegant structure that now adorns the east side of Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Lincoln's Inn Fields, now a handsome square, set more agreeably than most others, with grass plat and underwood, were first disposed into their present regular appearance by Inigo Jones, under the auspices of a committee of gentry and nobility, one of whom was Bacon. Inigo built some of the houses, and gave to the ground-plot of the square the exact dimensions of the base of one of the pyramids of Egypt. He could not have hit upon a better mode of conveying to the imagination a sense of those enormous structures. If the passenger stops and pictures to himself one of the huge slanting sides of the pyramid, as wide as the whole length of the square, leaning away up into the atmosphere, with an apex we know not how high, it will indeed seem to him a kind of stone mountain.

The houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields built by Inigo Jones are in Arch Row (the western side), and may still be distinguished. Pennant speaks of one of them as being "Lindesey House, once the seat of the Earls of Lindesey, and of their descendants, the Dukes of Ancaster." They are probably still a great deal more handsome inside, and more convenient, than any of the flimsy modern houses preferred to them; but London has grown so large, that everybody who can afford it lives at the fashionable outskirts for the fresh air. It is probable that Inigo's houses created an ambition of good building in this quarter. Pepys speaks of a Mr. Povey's house in Lincoln's Inn Fields as a miracle of elegance and comfort. His description of it is characteristic of the snug and wondering Pepys.

"Thence (that is to say, from chapel and the ladies) with Mr. Povey home to dinner; where extraordinary cheer. And after dinner 198 up and down to see his house. And in a word, methinks, for his perspective in the little closet; his room floored above with woods of several colours, like, but above the best cabinet-work I ever saw; his grotto and vault, with his bottles of wine, and a well therein to keep them cool; his furniture of all sorts; his bath at the top of the house, good pictures, and his manners of eating and drinking; do surpass all that ever I did see of one man in all my life."[199]

The Country and City Mouse, in Pope's imitation of Horace, go

To a tall house near Lincoln's Inn,

which had

Palladian walls, Venetian doors,

Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors.

The house of a late architect (Sir John Soane) is observable in Holborn Row (the north side of the square), and has a singular but pleasing effect, though not quite desirable perhaps in this northern climate, where light and sun are in request. It presents a case of stone, added to the original front, and comprising a balcony and arcade. Shrubs and plate-glass complete the taste of its appearance. On the opposite side of the way (called Portugal Row, most likely from our connection with Portugal in Charles the Second's time), the inhabitant of the above house had the pleasure, we believe, of contemplating his own work in the handsome front and portico of Surgeon's College. This mode of giving a new front to a house, and fetching it out into a portico, is an ingenious way of getting up an ornament to the metropolis at little expense. Surgeons' College, instead of being two or three old houses with a new face, looks like a separate building. In Portugal Row sometime lived Sir Richard Fanshawe, in whose quaint translation of the Camoens there is occasionally more genuine poetry, than in the less unequal version of Mickle. This accomplished person was recalled from an embassy in Spain, on the ground that he had signed a treaty without authority; which was fact; but the suspicious necessity of finding some honourable way of removing Lord Sandwich from his command in the navy, induced Lady Fanshawe and others to conclude that he was sacrificed to that convenience. He died on the intended day of his return, of a violent fever, aggravated, not improbably, perhaps caused, by this awkward close of his mission: for such things have been, with men of sensitive imaginations. His wife, a very frank and cordial woman, has left interesting memoirs of him, in 199 which she countenances a clamour of that day, that Lord Sandwich was a coward. She adds, "He neither understood the custom of the (Spanish) court, nor the language, nor indeed anything but a vicious life; and thus (addressing her children) was he shuffled into your father's employment, to reap the benefit of his five years' negotiation."[200] We quote this passage here, because Lord Sandwich was himself an inhabitant of Lincoln's Inn Fields. His want of courage (a charge shamefully bandied to and fro between officers at that time) is surely not to be taken for granted upon the word of his enemies, considering the testimonies borne in his favour by the Duke of York and others, and his numerous successes against the enemy. It is possible, however, that the pleasures of Charles's court might have done him no good. Sandwich had been one of Cromwell's council. He appears afterwards to have been a gallant of Lady Castlemaine's; was a great courtier; and probably had as little principle as most public men of that age. Pepys, who was his relation, describes him as being a lute-player.

On Lady Fanshawe's return to England, she took a house for twenty-one years in Holborn Row (the north side of the Fields), where the contemplation of the houses opposite must have been very sad. Her account of the circumstances under which she returned is of a melancholy interest.

"I had not," she says, "God is my witness, above twenty-five doubloons by me at my husband's death, to bring home a family of three score servants, but was forced to sell one thousand pounds' worth of our own plate, and to spend the Queen's present of two thousand doubloons in my journey to England, not owing nor leaving one shilling debt in Spain, I thank God; nor did my husband leave any debt at home, which every ambassador cannot say. Neither did these circumstances following prevail to mend my condition, much less found I that compassion I expected upon the view of myself, that had lost at once my husband, and fortune in him, with my son, but twelve months old, in my arms, four daughters, the eldest but thirteen years of age, with the body of my dear husband daily in my sight for near six months together, and a distressed family, all to be by me in honour and honesty provided for; and, to add to my afflictions, neither persons sent to conduct me, nor pass, nor ship, nor money to carry me one thousand miles, but some few letters of compliment from the chief ministers, bidding 'God help me!' as they do to beggars, and they might have added, 'they had nothing for me,' with great truth. But God did hear, and see, and help me, and brought my soul out of trouble; and, by his blessed providence, I and you live, move, and 200 have our being, and I humbly pray God that that blessed providence may ever relieve our wants, Amen."[201]

Lady Fanshawe was no coward, whatever her foes may have been. During a former voyage with her husband to Spain, when she had been married about six years, the vessel was attacked by a Turkish galley, on which occasion she has left the following touching account of her behaviour:—

"When we had just passed the straits, we saw coming towards us, with full sails, a Turkish galley well manned, and we believed we should be all carried away slaves, for this man had so laden his ship with goods from Spain, that his guns were useless, though the ship carried sixty guns; he called for brandy, and after he had well drunken, and all his men, which were near two hundred, he called for arms, and cleared the deck as well as he could, resolving to fight rather than lose his ship, which was worth thirty thousand pounds; this was sad for us passengers, but my husband bid us be sure to keep in the cabin, and not appear—the women—which would make the Turks think we were a man-of-war, but if they saw women they would take us for merchants and board us. He went upon the deck, and took a gun and bandoliers, and sword, and, with the rest of the ship's company, stood upon deck, expecting the arrival of the Turkish man-of-war. This beast, the captain, had locked me up in the cabin; I knocked and called long to no purpose, until at length the cabin-boy came and opened the door; I, all in tears, desired him to be so good as to give me his blue thrum cap he wore, and his tarred coat, which he did, and I gave him half-a-crown, and putting them on, and flinging away my night-clothes, I crept up softly, and stood upon the deck by my husband's side, as free from sickness and fear, as, I confess, from discretion; but it was the effect of that passion which I could never master.

"By this time the two vessels were engaged in parley, and so well satisfied with speech and sight of each other's forces, that the Turks' man-of-war tacked about, and we continued our course. But when your father saw it convenient to retreat, looking upon me, he blessed himself, and snatched me up in his arms, saying, 'Good God, that love can make this change!' and though he seemingly chid me, he would laugh at it as often as he remembered that voyage."

We now come to an event, uniting the most touching circumstances of private life with the loftiest utility of public, and the benefits of which we are this day enjoying, perhaps in every one of our comforts. In this square, now possessed by inhabitants who can think and write as they please on all subjects, and the centre of which is adorned with roses and lilacs, was executed the celebrated patriot, Lord Russell. We should ill perform any part of the object of this work, if we did not dwell at some length upon a scene so interesting, and upon the circumstances that led to it.


Lord Russell (sometimes improperly called Lord William Russell, for he had succeeded to the courtesy-title by the decease of his elder brothers,) was son of William, Earl of Bedford, by Lady Ann Carr, daughter of Carr, Earl of Somerset; and he was beheaded in the year 1683, the last year but two of the reign of King Charles II., for an alleged conspiracy to seize the King's guards and put him to death. The conspiracy was called the Rye House Plot, but incorrectly as far as Lord Russell was concerned; for it is not proved that he ever heard of the house which occasioned the name; and he was condemned upon allegations which would have destroyed him, had no such place existed. The Rye House was a farm near Hoddesdon, in Hertfordshire, belonging to one of the alleged conspirators, and it had a bye-road near it through which Charles was accustomed to pass in returning from the races at Newmarket. It was said that the King was to have been assassinated in this road, but that a fire at Newmarket, which put the town into confusion, hastened his return to London before the conspirators had time to assemble.

Charles II., and his brother, the Duke of York, afterwards James II., in the prosecution of those designs against the liberty and religion of the state, which are now acknowledged by all historians, had lately succeeded in producing a strong re-action against the party opposed to them. This party, the Whigs, in their dread of arbitrary power and popery, had attempted with great pertinacity to exclude the Duke of York, an avowed papist, from the succession. They had indicted him as a popish recusant: they had listened, with too great credulity, to the story of a Popish Plot, for which several persons were executed: and while these strong measures were going forward, to which the general dread of popery encouraged them, they were inquiring into the King's illegal connections with France, and putting the last sting to his vexation by refusing him money. Charles's gambling and debaucheries kept him in a perpetual state of poverty. He was always endeavouring to raise money upon every shift he could devise, and misappropriating all he obtained, which completed the ingloriousness of his reign by rendering him a pensioner of France. He had a strong party of corruptionists in the House of Commons; but the public feeling against the Duke gave the elections a balance the other way; and the poor King was compelled, from time to time, to purchase what money he wanted, by the surrender of a popular right. 202

Driven thus from loss to loss, and not knowing where the diminution of his resources would end, Charles at length expressed himself willing to limit the powers of a Popish successor, though he would not consent to exclude him. The Whigs, strong in their vantage-ground, and backed by the voice of the country, rejected what they would formerly have agreed to, and insisted on the exclusion. And here the reaction commenced in Charles's favour. The Whigs had allied themselves to the dissenters, whose toleration they advocated in proportion as they opposed that of the Catholics. It was a contradiction natural enough at that time, when the remembrance of Protestant martyrdom was still lively, and the growth of philosophy had not neutralised the papal spirit, or, at least, was not yet understood to have done so; but by means of this alliance between the Whigs and Presbyterians Charles succeeded in awakening the fears of the orthodox. A secret treaty with the French King enabled him to reckon for a time on being able to dispense with the contributions of Parliament; and when the latter again pressed the exclusion bill, he dissolved them, with high complaints of their inveteracy against government, and artful insinuations of the favour they showed the dissenters. This declaration was read in all the churches and chapels, and produced the reaction he looked for. The Whig leaders, withdrawing into retirement, seemed to give up the contest for the present; but this was no signal to power to abstain from pursuing them. Charles, to secure himself a Parliament that should give him money without inquiry, and to indulge his brother in his love of revenge (not omitting a portion on his own account), set himself heartily about influencing the elections for a new House of Commons. The dissenters were persecuted all over the country; the Whig newspapers put down; one man, for his noisy zeal against Popery, put to death by means of the most infamous witnesses, who had sworn on the other side; and Shaftesbury's life was aimed at, but saved by the contrivances of the city authorities. The liberties of the city were then assailed, with but too great success, by means of judges placed on the bench for that purpose. Other corrupt law officers were brought into action; a servile lord-mayor was induced to force two sheriffs upon the city, in open defiance of law and a majority; in short, every obstacle was removed which accompanied the existence of properly constituted authorities, and of that late anti-popery spirit of 203 the nation, which was now comparatively silent, for fear of being confounded with disaffection to the church.

For an account of what took place upon this corruption of church and bench, and neutralisation of the popular spirit, we shall now have recourse to the pages of the latest writer on the subject; who, though a descendant of Lord Russell, has stated it with a truth and moderation worthy of the best spirit of his ancestor. The narrative of the execution we shall take from an eye-witness, and intersperse such remarks as a diligent inquiry into the conduct and character of Lord Russell has suggested to our own love of truth.

"The election of the sheriffs," says our author, "seemed to complete the victory of the throne over the people. It was evident, from the past conduct of the court, that they would now select whom they pleased for condemnation.

"Lord Russell received the news with the regret which, in a person of his temper, it was most likely to produce. Lord Shaftesbury, on other hand, who was provoked at the apathy of his party, received with joy the news of the appointment of the sheriffs, thinking that his London friends, seeing their necks in danger, would join with him in raising an insurrection. He hoped at first to make use of the names of the Duke of Monmouth and Lord Russell, to catch the idle and unwary by the respect paid to their characters; but when he found them too cautious to compromise themselves, he endeavoured to ruin their credit with the citizens. He said that the Duke of Monmouth was a tool of the court; that Lord Essex had also made his bargain, and was to go to Ireland; and that, between them, Lord Russell was deceived. It is a strong testimony to the real worth of Lord Russell, that, when he made himself obnoxious, either to the court or to the more violent of his own party, the only charge they ever brought against him was, that of being deceived, either by a vain air of popularity or too great a confidence in his friends.

"Lord Shaftesbury, finding himself deserted, then attempted to raise an insurrection, by means of his own partisans in the city. The Duke of Monmouth, at various times, discouraged these attempts. On one of these occasions, he prevailed on Lord Russell, who had come to town on private affairs, to go with him to a meeting, at the house of Sheppard, a wine-merchant.

"Lord Shaftesbury, being concealed in the city at this time, did not dare to appear himself at this meeting, but sent two of his creatures, Rumsey and Ferguson. Lord Grey and Sir Thomas Armstrong were also there; but nothing was determined at this meeting.

"Soon after this, Lord Shaftesbury, finding he could not bring his friends to rise with the speed he wished, and being in fear of being discovered if he remained in London any longer, went over to Holland. He died in January, 1683.

"After Shaftesbury was gone, there were held meetings of his former creatures in the chambers of one West, an active, talking man, who had got the name of being an atheist. Colonel Rumsey, who had 204 served under Cromwell, and afterwards in Portugal; Ferguson, who had a general propensity for plots; Goodenough, who had been under-sheriff; and one Holloway, of Bristol, were the chief persons at these meetings. Lord Howard was, at one time, among them. Their discourse seems to have extended itself to the worst species of treason and murder; but whether they had any concerted plan for assassinating the King is still a mystery. Amongst those who were sounded in this business was one Keeling, a vintner, sinking in business, to whom Goodenough often spoke of their designs. This man went to Legge, then made Lord Dartmouth, and discovered all he knew. Lord Dartmouth took him to Secretary Jenkins, who told him he could not proceed without more witnesses. It would also seem that some promises were made to him, for he said in a tavern, in the hearing of many persons, that 'he had considerable proffers made him of money, and a place worth 100l. or 80l. per annum, to do something for them;' and he afterwards obtained a place in the Victualling office, by means of Lord Halifax. The method he took of procuring another witness was, by taking his brother into the company of Goodenough, and afterwards persuading him to go and tell what he had heard at Whitehall.

"The substance of the information given by Josiah Keeling, in his first examination, was, that a plot had been formed for enlisting forty men, to intercept the King and Duke on their return from Newmarket, at a farm-house called Rye, belonging to one Rumbold, a maltster; that this plan being defeated by a fire at Newmarket, which caused the King's return sooner than was expected, the design of an insurrection was laid; and, as the means of carrying this project into effect, they said that Goodenough had spoken of 4,000 men and 20,000l. to be raised by the Duke of Monmouth and other great men. The following day, the two brothers made oath, that Goodenough had told them, that Lord Russell had promised to engage in the design, and to use all his interest to accomplish the killing of the King and the Duke. When the Council found that the Duke of Monmouth and Lord Russell were named, they wrote to the King to come to London, for they would not venture to go farther without his presence and leave. In the meantime, warrants were issued for the apprehension of several of the conspirators. Hearing of this, and having had private information from the brother of Keeling, they had a meeting, on the 18th of June, at Captain Walcot's lodging. At this meeting were present Walcot, Wade, Rumsey, Norton, the two Goodenoughs, Nelthrop, West, and Ferguson. Finding they had no means either of opposing the King or flying into Holland, they agreed to separate, and shift each man for himself.

"A proclamation was now issued for seizing on some who could not be found; and amongst these, Rumsey and West were named. The next day West delivered himself, and Rumsey came in a day after him. Their confessions, especially concerning the assassinations at the Rye-house, were very ample. Burnet says, they had concerted a story to be brought out on such an emergency.

"In this critical situation, Lord Russell, though perfectly sensible of his danger, acted with the greatest composure. He had long before told Mr. Johnson, that 'he was very sensible he should fall a sacrifice; arbitrary government could not be set up in England without wading through his blood.' The day before the King arrived, a messenger of 205 the Council was sent to wait at his gate, to stop him if he had offered to go out; yet his back-gate was not watched, so that he might have gone away, if he had chosen it. He had heard that he was named by Rumsey; but forgetting the meeting at Sheppard's, he feared no danger from a man he had always disliked, and never trusted. Yet he thought proper to send his wife amongst his friends for advice. They were at first of different minds; but as he said he apprehended nothing from Rumsey, they agreed that his flight would look too like a confession of guilt. This advice coinciding with his own opinion, he determined to stay where he was. As soon as the King arrived, a messenger was sent to bring him before the Council. When he appeared there, the King told him, that nobody suspected him of any design against his person; but that he had good evidence of his being in designs against his government. He was examined upon the information of Rumsey, concerning the meeting at Sheppard's, to which Rumsey pretended to have carried a message, requiring a speedy resolution, and to have received for answer that Mr. Trenchard had failed them at Taunton. Lord Russell totally denied all knowledge of this message. When the examination was finished, Lord Russell was sent a close prisoner to the Tower. Upon his going in, he told his servant Taunton that he was sworn against, and they would have his life. Taunton said, he hoped it would not be in the power of his enemies to take it. Lord Russell answered, 'Yes; the devil is loose!'

"From this moment he looked upon himself as a dying man, and turned his thoughts wholly upon another world. He read much in the Scriptures, particularly in the Psalms; but whilst he behaved with the serenity of a man prepared for death, his friends exhibited an honourable anxiety to preserve his life. Lord Essex would not leave his house, lest his absconding might incline a jury to give more credit to the evidence against Lord Russell. The Duke of Monmouth sent to let him know he would come in and run fortunes with him, if he thought it could do him any service. He answered, it would be of no advantage to him to have his friends die with him.

"A committee of the Privy Council came to examine him. Their inquiries related to the meeting at Sheppard's, the rising at Taunton, the seizing of the guards, and a design for a rising in Scotland. In answer to the questions put to him, he acknowledged he had been at Sheppard's house divers times, and that he went there with the Duke of Monmouth; but he denied all knowledge of any consultation tending to an insurrection, or to surprise the guards. He remembered no discourse concerning any rising in Taunton; and knew of no design for a rising in Scotland. He answered his examiners in a civil manner, but declined making any defence till his trial, when he had no doubt of being able to prove his innocence. The charge of treating with the Scots, as a thing the council were positively assured of, alarmed his friends; and Lady Russell desired Dr. Burnet to examine who it could be that had charged him; but upon inquiry, it appeared to be only an artifice to draw confession from him; and notwithstanding the power which the court possessed to obtain the condemnation of their enemies, by the perversion of law, the servility of judges, and the submission of juries, Lord Russell might still have contested his life with some prospect of success, had not a new circumstance occurred to cloud his declining prospects. This was the 206 apprehension and confession of Lord Howard. At first, he had talked of the whole matter with scorn and contempt; and solemnly professed that he knew nothing which could hurt Lord Russell. The King himself said, he found Lord Howard was not amongst them, and he supposed it was for the same reason which some of themselves had given for not admitting Oates into their secrets, namely, that he was such a rogue they could not trust him. But when the news was brought to Lord Howard that West had delivered himself, Lord Russell, who was with him, observed him change colour, and asked him if he apprehended any thing from him? He replied that he had been as free with him as any man. Hampden saw him afterwards under great fears, and desired him to go out of the way, if he thought there was matter against him, and he had not strength of mind to meet the occasion. A warrant was now issued against him on the evidence of West, and he was taken, after a long search, concealed in a chimney of his own house. He immediately confessed all he knew and more.

"Hampden and Lord Russell were imprisoned upon Lord Howard's information; and, four days afterwards, Lord Russell was brought to trial: but, in order to possess the public mind with a sense of the blackness of the plot, Walcot, Hone, and Rouse were first brought to trial, and condemned upon the evidence of Keeling, Lee, and West, of a design to assassinate the King."[202]

It is not necessary to enter at large into the trial. We shall give the main points of it, on which sentence was founded; but when it is considered that the bench had lately had an accession of accommodating judges; that Jeffries was one of the counsel for the prosecution; that the jury, illegally returned, were not allowed to be challenged; that the witnesses were perjured, contradicted themselves, and swore to save their lives; that one of them (Lord Howard) was a man of such infamous character, that the King said, "he would not hang the worst dog he had, upon his evidence;" that nevertheless the testimonies of the most honourable men against him were not held to injure his evidence, and that a crowd of them in Lord Russell's favour were of as little avail in giving the prisoner the benefit of a totally different reputation, it will be allowed, that our pages need not be occupied with details, which in fact had nothing to do with his condemnation.

The ground on which Lord Russell was sentenced to death was, that he had violated the law in conspiring the death of the King. He argued, that granting the charge to be true (which he denied), it was not that of conspiring the death of 207 the King, but "a conspiracy to levy war;" that this was not treason within the statute (which it was not); and that if it had been, a statute of Charles II. made the accusation null and void, because the time had expired to which the operation of it was limited. The lawyers, who in fact had been compelled by their imperfect enactment to lay the charge on the ground of conspiring the King's death, had so worded the statute of Charles, that, like the oracles of old, it was capable of a double construction. But not to observe that the prisoner ought to have had the benefit of the doubt (and it has been generally thought that the statute was clearly the other way), they could never get rid of the necessity of assuming that the King's death was intended; whereas, nothing can be more plain, not only from their own enactments, but from all history, that an insurrection, though against a King himself, may have no such object; so that here was a man to be sacrificed to the spirit of the law (which by its very nature should have saved him,) while the court, in this and a thousand other instances, was violating the letter of it.

"Of the Rye House Plot," says Mr. Fox, "it may be said, much more truly than of the Popish, that there was in it some truth, mixed with much falsehood. It seems probable, that there was among some of the accused a notion of assassinating the King; but whether this notion was ever ripened into what may be called a design, and much more, whether it were ever evinced by such an overt act as the law requires for conviction, is very doubtful. In regard to the conspirators of higher ranks, from whom all suspicion of participation in the intended assassination has been long since done away, there is unquestionable reason to believe that they had often met and consulted, as well for the purpose of ascertaining the means they actually possessed, as for that of devising others, for delivering their country from the dreadful servitude into which it had fallen; and thus far their conduct appears clearly to have been laudable. If they went further, and did anything which could be really construed into an actual conspiracy to levy war against the King, they acted, considering the disposition of the nation at that time, very indiscreetly. But whether their proceedings had ever gone this length, is far from certain. Monmouth's communications with the King, when we reflect on all the circumstances of those communications, deserve not the smallest attention; nor, indeed, if they did, does the letter which he afterwards withdrew prove anything upon this point. And it is an outrage to common-sense to call Lord Grey's narrative, written as he himself states in his letter to James II., while the question of his pardon was pending, an authentic account. That which is most certain in this affair is, that they had committed no overt act, indicating the imagining the King's death, even according to the most strained construction of the statute of Edward III.; much less was any such act legally proved against them. And the conspiracy to levy war was 208 not treason, except by a recent statute of Charles II., the prosecutions upon which were expressly limited to a certain time, which in these cases had elapsed; so that it is impossible not to assent to the opinion of those who have ever stigmatised the condemnation and execution of Russell as a most flagrant violation of law and justice."[203]

The truth respecting Lord Russell seems to be, that he was a man of the highest character and the best intentions, who suffered himself, not very discreetly, to listen to projects which he disapproved, in the hope of seeing better ones substituted. There can be no doubt that he wished to make changes in an illegal government, short of interfering with the King's possession of the throne. He had a right, by law, to endeavour it. He had openly shown himself anxious to do so; and the doubt can be as little, that the Duke of York, from that moment marked him out for his revenge. Russell implied as much in the paper he gave the sheriff; showing, indeed, such a strong sense of it, as (considering the truly Christian style of the paper in general) is very affecting. It has been justly said of him, that he was a man rather eminent for his virtues than his talents. We cannot help thinking that the paucity of words, to which he repeatedly alludes himself, and which was very evident during his trial, did him serious injury, both then and before. We mean, that if he had had a greater confidence, he might have advocated his cause to very solid advantage, perhaps to his entire acquittal. It is touching to observe, in the account of his behaviour after sentence, how the excitement of the occasion loosened his tongue, and inspired him with some turns of thought, more lively, perhaps, than he had been accustomed to. His character has been respectfully treated by all parties since the 209 Revolution, and his death lamented. A startling charge, however, was brought against him and Sidney, in consequence of the discovery of a set of papers belonging to Barillon, the French Ambassador of that time, in which Sidney's name appears set down for five hundred pounds of secret service money from the French Government, and Russell is described as having interviews with Barillon's agent, Rouvigny, tending to prevent a war disagreeable both to Louis and the English patriots. The vague allusions of some modern writers, together with an unsupported assertion of Ralph Montague, the intriguing English Ambassador in France, that money was to be distributed in Parliament "by means of William Russell, and other discontented people," have tended to lump together in the public mind the two charges occasioned by these documents. But they are quite distinct. Lord Russell had nothing to do with the money-list, in which the name of Sidney appears. The amount of the matter is this. Charles II. was always pretending to go to war with France, chiefly to get money for his debaucheries, and partly to raise an army which he might turn against the constitution. The nation, in their hatred of Louis's anti-protestant bigotry, and their old and less warrantable propensity to fight with those whom they publicly considered as their natural enemies (a delusion, we trust, now going by), were always in a state to be deceived by Charles on this point; and the patriots were as regularly perplexed how to agree to the wishes of the King and people, knowing as they did, the former's insincerity, loth to give him more money to squander, and yet anxious to show their dislike of an arbitrary neighbour, and afraid of his being in collision with their prince. Their greatest fear, however, was upon this last point: it was very strong at the juncture in question; and therefore, when Louis gave them to understand, through his agent, that he himself was desirous of avoiding a war, Russell certainly does appear to have allowed the agent to talk with him on the subject, and to have expressed a willingness to influence the votes of Parliament accordingly. There was a further understanding that Louis was to complete the mutual favour, by assisting to obtain a dissolution of Parliament, in case the peace should continue; for the patriots expected very different things from a dissolution at that time (1678), than what it produced afterwards. Russell's noble biographer justly observes, that for the truth of these statements we are to trust Rouvigny's report, coming through the hands of 210 Barillon: but granting them to be true, he thinks there was nothing criminal in the intercourse. He observes, that, in the first place, Russell was Rouvigny's kinsman by marriage, being first cousin to his wife, which accounts for the commencement of the intercourse; and, secondly,

"The imminent danger," he says, "which threatened us from the conduct of France abetting the designs of Charles, cannot, at this day, be properly estimated. At the very time when Parliament was giving money for a war, Lord Danby was writing, by his master's order, to beg for money as the price of peace. We shall presently see, that five days after the House of Commons had passed the act for a supply, Lord Danby wrote to Paris, that Charles expected six millions yearly from France. Had Louis been sincere in the project of making Charles absolute, there can be no doubt that it might have been easily accomplished. Was not this sufficient to justify the popular party in attempting to turn the battery the other way? The question was not, whether to admit foreign interference, but whether to direct foreign interference, already admitted, to a good object. The conduct of Lord Russell, therefore, was not criminal; but it would be difficult to acquit him of the charge of imprudence. The object of Louis must have been, by giving hopes to each party in turn, to obtain the command of both. Charles, on the other hand, was ready to debase himself to the lowest point, to maintain his alliance with France; any suspicion, therefore, of a connection between Louis and the popular party would have rendered him more and more dependent; till the liberties of England might at last have been set up to auction at Versailles."[204]

This is impartial. But surely an imprudence so extremely dangerous, and an intercourse on any terms with an envoy's agent, the nature of which it must have been necessary to conceal, partook of a disingenuousness and selfwill that cannot be held innocent. That Lord Russell had the best intentions is granted; but his principles were specially opposed by the doctrine of "doing evil, that good might come;" and if it be argued that good men are sometimes defeated in their intentions by not imitating the less scrupulous conduct of evil ones, it is to be replied, that there is no end of the re-actions consequent on such imitations, nor any bounds, on the other hand, to be put to the good consequences of a perfect example, even should its very perfection retard them. Good causes are not lost for want of passion and energy, but for that defect of faith and openness, which is the worst destroyer of both, and the loss of which is the worst hazard produced by a defect of example. We should be surprised that the patriots, while they were about it, did not denounce Charles's anti-constitutional behaviour more than they did, and openly demand their 211 rights as a matter of course; but it is easy to account for it upon the supposition that they were hampered with court connections, and not sure of one another.

The worst thing to be said of Lord Russell (for as to the letters he wrote for pardon, they must be considered as obtained from him by his friends and a tender wife) is, that when Lord Stafford, the victim of a plot charged on the papists, was sentenced to death, Russell opposed the King's privilege of dispensing with a barbarous part of the execution; so unworthy the rest of their character can men be rendered by party feeling, and so little do they foresee what they may themselves require in a day of adversity. When Charles II. was applied to on the same point in behalf of Lord Russell, he is reported to have said, "Lord Russell shall find I am possessed of that prerogative, which in the case of Lord Stafford he thought fit to deny me." The sarcasm (if made—for there is no real authority for it) was cruel; but it is not to be denied, that Lord Stafford, a man old and feeble, whose protestations of innocence called forth tears from the spectators when he was on the scaffold, might have thought Russell's conduct equally so. Let us congratulate ourselves, that the fiery trials which men of all parties have gone through, have enabled us to benefit by their experience, to be grateful for what was noble in them, and to learn (with modesty) how to avoid what was infirm.

Lord Russell, besides the general regard of posterity, has left two glorious testimonies to his honour—his behaviour in his last days, and the inextinguishable grief of one of the best of women. The latter, the celebrated Lady Rachael Russell, the daughter of Charles's best servant, Southampton, threw herself at the King's feet, "and pleaded," says Hume, "with many tears, the merit and loyalty of her father, as an atonement for those errors into which honest, however mistaken, principles had seduced her husband. These supplications were the last instance of female weakness (if they deserve the name) which she betrayed. Finding all applications vain, she collected courage, and not only fortified herself against the fatal blow, but endeavoured by her example to strengthen the resolution of her unfortunate lord."[205]

Echard says, that Charles refused her a reprieve of six weeks. If so, he probably feared some desperate attempt in Russell's favour; which, in fact, was proposed, as we shall 212 see; and it is possible, that remembering what had happened to Charles I., and conscious of his own deserts, he might really have thought that Lord Russell would willingly have seen him put to death; for Rapin tells us that he said, in answer to Lady Rachael, "How can I grant that man six weeks, who, if it had been in his power, would not have granted me six hours?"[206] And Lord Dartmouth in his notes upon Burnet, tells us that when his (Dartmouth's) father represented to the King the obligations which a pardon would lay upon a great family, and the regard that was due to Southampton's daughter and her children, the King answered, "All that is true; but it is as true, that if I do not take his life, he will soon have mine;" "which," says Dartmouth, "would admit of no reply."[207] Some, however, have said, that the King would have granted Russell his life, if he had not been afraid of his brother, the Duke of York; and as an instance of what was thought of the characters of these two princes, whether the story is true or not, it was added, that Charles did not like to hear any discourses about the pardon, because he could not grant it; whereas James would hear anything, though he resolved to grant nothing.

Every other effort was made to save the life of Russell.

"Money," says Burnet, "was offered to the Lady Portsmouth, and to all that had credit, and that without measure. He was pressed to send petitions and submissions to the King and to the Duke; but he left it to his friends to consider how far these might go, and how they were to be worded. All that he was brought to was, to offer to live beyond sea, in any place that the King should name; and never to meddle any more in English affairs. But all was in vain. Both King and Duke were fixed in their resolutions; but with this difference, as Lord Rochester afterwards told me, that the Duke suffered some, among whom he was one, to argue the point with him, but the King could not bear the discourse. Some said, that the Duke moved that he might be executed in Southampton Square before his own house, but that the King rejected that as indecent. So Lincoln's Inn Fields was appointed for the place of his execution."[208]

As a last resource Lord Cavendish offered to attack the coach on either side with a troop of horse, and take his friend out of it; but Russell would not consent to bring any one into jeopardy on his behalf.

It has been said that Lincoln's Inn Fields was chosen, in order that the people might witness the triumph of the Court, 213 in seeing him led through the city; but others have reasonably observed upon this, that as he was to be taken from Newgate, the desire of making him a spectacle to the citizens would have been better gratified by his being carried to the old place of execution, the Tower. It is most probable, that Lincoln's Inn Fields was selected, as being the nearest feasible spot to the great town property of the Bedford family; Bloomsbury lying opposite, and Covent garden on one side.

The following is the letter addressed to the King by Russell's father, followed by that of Russell himself, which Burnet has mentioned as being drawn from him by his friends.

"To the King's most Excellent Majesty.

"The humble petition of William, Earl of Bedford:
"Humbly sheweth;

"That could your petitioner have been admitted into your presence, he would have laid himself at your royal feet, in behalf of his unfortunate son, himself, and his distressed and disconsolate family, to implore your royal mercy, which he never had the presumption to think could be obtained by any indirect means. But shall think himself, wife, and children, much happier to be left but with bread and water, than to lose his dear son for so foul a crime as treason against the best of princes; for whose life he ever did, and ever shall pray, more than for his own.

"May God incline your Majesty's heart to the prayers of an afflicted old father, and not bring grey hairs with sorrow to my grave.


"To the King's most Excellent Majesty.

"The humble petition of William Russell:
"Most humbly sheweth;

"That your petitioner does once more cast himself at your Majesty's feet, and implores, with all humility, your mercy and pardon, still avowing that he never had the least thought against your Majesty's life, nor any design to change the government; but humbly and sorrowfully confesses his having been present at those meetings, which he is convinced were unlawful, and justly provoking to your Majesty; but being betrayed by ignorance and inadvertence, he did not decline them as he ought to have done, for which he is truly and heartily sorry; and, therefore, humbly offers himself to your Majesty, to be determined to live in any part of the world which you shall appoint, and never to meddle any more in the affairs of England, but as your Majesty shall be pleased to command me.

"May it therefore please your Majesty to extend your royal favour and mercy to your petitioner, by which he will be for ever engaged to pray for your Majesty, and to devote his life to your service.

"William Russell."

The third is to the Duke of York. It is certainly to be regretted, that these letters were drawn from a patriot, willing, there is no doubt, to have endured all extremities 214 without compromising the dignity of conscious right: but the reader will bear in mind what has been said of them; and we shall see presently what the writer said of the present one.

"May it please your Highness;

"The opposition I have appeared in to your Highness's interest has been such, as I have scarce the confidence to be a petitioner to you, though in order to the saving of my life. Sir, God knows what I did did not proceed from any personal ill-will, or animosity to your royal Highness, but merely because I was of opinion, that it was the best way for observing the religion established by law, in which, if I was mistaken, yet I acted sincerely, without any ill end in it. And as for any base design against your person, I hope your Royal Highness will be so just to me as not to think me capable of so vile a thought. But I am now resolved, and do faithfully engage myself, that if it shall please the King to pardon me, and if your Royal Highness will interpose in it, I will in no sort meddle any more, but will be readily determined to live in any part of the world which his Majesty shall prescribe, and will never fail in my daily prayers, both for his Majesty's preservation and honour, and your Royal Highness's happiness, and will wholly withdraw myself from the affairs of England, unless called by his Majesty's orders to serve him, which I shall never be wanting to do, to the uttermost of my power. And if your Royal Highness will be so gracious to me, as to move on my account, as it will be an engagement upon me, beyond what I can in reason expect, so it will make the deepest impressions on me possible; for no fear of death can work so much with me, as so great an obligation will for ever do upon me. May it please your Royal Highness, your Royal Highness's most humble and most obedient servant,

"W. Russell."

"Newgate, July 16th, 1683."

Burnet says of this last letter, which he tells us was written at the "earnest solicitations" of Lady Rachael, that as Russell was folding it up, he said to him, "This will be printed, and will be selling about the streets as my submission, when I am led out to be hanged."

All efforts failed, and the patriot and husband composed himself to die. The touching particulars of his last days we shall extract from the account of his friend Bishop Burnet. It is one that, as it contains no disputed points, may be safely relied on; and indeed, if we had not wished to show how interested we are in the case of this advancer of public right, and how anxious to spare no proper trouble for our readers, we might safely have copied the whole case from the lively pages of that historian, whose writings, whatever may have been his faults of partizanship and complexion, have risen in value, in proportion as documents come to light. A great 215 modern statesman, equally qualified to judge of it, both as a politician and a man, alludes with interesting emotion to Burnet's account of his last hours. Speaking of the dying behaviour of Russell and Sidney, he says, "In courage they are equal, but the fortitude of Russell, who was connected with the world by private and domestic ties, which Sidney was not, was put to the severer trial; and the story of the last days of this excellent man's life fills the mind with such a mixture of tenderness and admiration, that I know not any scene in history that more powerfully excites our sympathy, or goes more directly to the heart."[209]

"The last week of his life," says Burnet, "he was shut up all the morning as he himself desired. And about noon I came to him, and staid with him till night. All the while he expressed a very Christian temper, without sharpness or resentment, vanity or affectation. His whole behaviour looked like a triumph over death. Upon some occasions, as at table, or when his friends came to see him, he was decently cheerful. I was by him when the sheriffs came to show him the warrant for his execution. He read it with indifference; and when they were gone he told me it was not decent to be merry with such a matter, otherwise he was near telling Rich (who, though he was now on the other side, yet had been a member of the House of Commons, and had voted for the exclusion), that they should never sit together in that house any more to vote for the bill of exclusion. The day before his death he fell a bleeding at the nose; upon that he said to me pleasantly, I shall not now let blood to divert this: that will be done to-morrow. At night it rained hard, and he said, such a rain to-morrow will spoil a great show, which was a dull thing in a rainy day. He said, the sins of his youth lay heavy upon his mind; but he hoped God had forgiven them, for he was sure he had forsaken them, and for many years he had walked before God with a sincere heart. If in his public actings he had committed errors, they were only the errors of his understanding; for he had no private ends, nor ill designs of his own in them; he was still of opinion that the King was limited by law, and that when he broke through those limits, his subjects might defend themselves and restrain him. He thought a violent death was a very desirable way of ending one's life; it was only the being exposed to be a little gazed at, and to suffer the pain of one minute, which, he was confident, was not equal to the pain of drawing a tooth. He said he felt none of those transports that some good people felt; but he had a full calm in his mind, no palpitation at heart, nor trembling at the thoughts of death. He was much concerned at the cloud that seemed to be now over his country; but he hoped his death would do more service than his life could have done.

"This was the substance of the discourse between him and me. Tillotson was oft with him that last week. We thought the party had gone too quick in their consultations, and too far; and that resistance in the condition we were then in was not lawful. He said he 216 had leisure to enter into discourses of politics; but he thought a government limited by law was only a name, if the subjects might not maintain those limitations by force; otherwise all was at the discretion of the Prince: that was contrary to all the notions he had lived in of our government.[210] But, he said, there was nothing among them but the embryos of things that were never like to have any effect, and they were now quite dissolved. He thought it was necessary for him to leave a paper behind him at his death: and, because he had not been accustomed to draw such papers, he desired me to give him a scheme of the heads fit to be spoken to, and of the order in which they should be laid; which I did. And he was three days employed for some time in the morning to write out his speech. He ordered four copies to be made of it, all which he signed; and gave the original with three of the copies to his lady, and kept the other to give to the sheriffs on the scaffold. He writ it with great ease, and the passages that were tender he writ in papers apart, and showed them to his lady and to myself, before he writ them out fair. He was very easy when this was ended. He also writ a letter to the King, in which he asked pardon for every thing he had said or done contrary to his duty, protesting he was innocent as to all designs against his person or government, and that his heart was ever devoted to that which he thought was his Majesty's true interest. He added that, though he thought he had met with hard measures, yet he forgave all concerned in it, from the highest to the lowest; and ended, hoping that his Majesty's displeasure at him would cease with his own life, and that no part of it should fall on his wife and children. The day before his death he received the sacrament from Tillotson with much devotion: and I preached two short sermons to him, which he heard with great affection; and we were shut up till towards the evening. Then he suffered his children that were very young, and some few of his friends, to take leave of him; in which he maintained his constancy of temper, though he was a very fond father. He also parted from his lady with a composed silence; and as soon as she was gone, he said to me, 'The bitterness of death is passed;' for he loved and esteemed her beyond expression, as she well deserved it in all respects. She had the command of herself so much that at parting she gave him no disturbance. He went into his chamber about midnight, and I stayed all night in the outward room. He went not to bed till about two in the morning, and was fast asleep at four, when, according to his order, we called him. He was quickly dressed, but would lose no time in shaving, for, he said, he was not concerned in his good looks that day."

"Lord Russell," continues Burnet, "seemed to have some satisfaction to find that there was no truth in the whole contrivance of the Rye Plot; so that he hoped that infamy, which now blasted their party, would soon go off. He went into his chamber six or seven times in the morning, and prayed by himself, and then came out to Tillotson and me; he drank a little tea and some sherry. He wound up his watch, and said, now he had done with time, and was going to 217 eternity. He asked what he should give the executioner: I told him ten guineas: he said, with a smile, it was a pretty thing to give a fee to have his head cut off. When the sheriffs called him about ten o'clock, Lord Cavendish was waiting below to take leave of him. They embraced very tenderly. Lord Russell, after he had left him, upon a sudden thought came back to him, and pressed him earnestly to apply himself more to religion, and told him what great comfort and support he felt from it now in his extremity. Lord Cavendish had very generously offered to manage his escape, and to stay in prison for him while he should go away in his clothes; but he would not hearken to the motion. The Duke of Monmouth had also sent me word to let him know, that if he thought it could do him any service, he would come in and run fortunes with him. He answered, it would be of no advantage to him to have his friends die with him. Tillotson and I went in the coach with him to the place of execution. Some of the crowd that filled the streets wept, while others insulted; he was touched by the tenderness that the one gave him, but did not seem at all provoked by the other. He was singing psalms a great part of the way, and said, he hoped to sing better very soon.[211] As he observed the great crowds of people all the way, he said to us, 'I hope I shall quickly see a much better assembly.' When he came to the scaffold, he walked about it four or five times. Then he turned to the sheriffs, and delivered his paper. He protested that he had always been far from any designs against the King's life or government. He prayed God would preserve both, and the Protestant religion. He wished all Protestants might love one another, and not make way for Popery by their animosities."

Of the paper given by Russell to the sheriffs, Burnet has given the following honest abridgment. This testament to patriotism made a great sensation. To posterity, who have so benefited by its spirit, it is surely still of great interest.

"The substance of the paper he gave them," says Burnet, "was, first, a profession of his religion, and of his sincerity in it; that he was of the Church of England, but wished all would unite together against the common enemy; that churchmen would be less severe, and dissenters less scrupulous. He owned he had a great zeal against Popery, which he looked on as an idolatrous and bloody religion; but that, though he was at all times ready to venture his life for his religion or his country, yet that would never have carried him to a black or wicked design. No man ever had the impudence to move to 218 him anything with relation to the King's life: he prayed heartily for him, that in his person and government he might be happy, both in this world and the next. He protested that in the prosecution of the Popish Plot he had gone on in the sincerity of his heart, and that he never knew of any practice with the witnesses. He owned he had been earnest in the matter of the exclusion, as the best way, in his opinion, to secure both the King's life and the Protestant religion, and to that he imputed his present sufferings; but he forgave all concerned in them, and charged his friends to think of no revenges. He thought his sentence was hard, upon which he gave an account of all that had passed at Shepherd's. From the heats that were in choosing the sheriffs, he concluded that matter would end as it now did, and he was not much surprised to find it fall upon himself; he wished it might end in him; killing by forms of law was the worst sort of murder. He concluded with some very devout ejaculations.

"After he had delivered this paper, he prayed by himself; then Tillotson prayed with him. After that he prayed again by himself, and then undressed himself and laid his head on the block, without the least change of countenance; and it was cut off at two strokes."

The following additional particulars are from Burnet's "Journal:"—

"When my lady went, he said he wished she would give over beating every bush, and running so about for his preservation. But when he considered that it would be some mitigation of her sorrow afterwards, that she left nothing undone that could have given any probable hopes, he acquiesced: and, indeed, I never saw his heart so near failing him, as when he spake of her. Sometimes I saw a tear in his eye, and he would turn about and presently change the discourse.

"At ten o'clock my lady left him. He kissed her four or five times; and she kept her sorrows so within herself, that she gave him no disturbance by their parting. After she was gone, he said, 'Now the bitterness of death is passed,' and ran out a long discourse concerning her—how great a blessing she had been to him; and said what a misery it would have been to him, if she had not had that magnanimity of spirit, joined to her tenderness, as never to have desired him to do a base thing for the saving of his life; whereas, otherwise, what a week should I have passed, if she had been crying on me to turn informer, and be a Lord Howard; though he then repeated what he often before said, that he knew of nothing whereby the peace of the nation was in danger; and that all that ever was, was either loose discourse, or at most embryos that never came to anything, so that there was nothing on foot to his knowledge.

"As we came to turn into Little Queen Street, he said, 'I have often turned to the other hand with great comfort, but now I turn to this with greater,' and looked towards his own house; and then, as the Dean of Canterbury, who sat over against him, told me, he saw a tear or two fall from him.

"When he had lain down, I looked once at him and saw no change in his looks; and though he was still lifting up his hands, there was no trembling, though, in the moment in which I looked, the executioner happened to be laying the axe to his neck to direct him to 219 take aim. I thought it touched him, but I am sure he seemed not to mind it."

The widow of Lord Russell, daughter of the Lord Southampton above mentioned, the most honest man ever known to have been in the service of Charles the Second, was grand-daughter of Shakspeare's Southampton, and appears to have united in her person the qualities of both. She was at once a pattern of good sense, and of romantic affection. Nor are the two things incompatible, when either of them exist in the highest degree, as she proved during the remainder of her life; for though she continued a widow all the rest of it, and it was a very long one, and though she never ceased regretting her lord's death, and had great troubles besides, yet the high sense she had of the duties of a human being enabled her to enjoy consolations that ordinary pleasure might have envied; first, in the education of her children, and secondly, in the tranquillity which health and temperance forced upon her. Her letters, with which the public are well acquainted, are not more remarkable for the fidelity they evince to her husband's memory, than for the fine sense they display in all matters upon which the prejudices of education had left her a free judgment, and especially for their delightful candour. It has been thought that the blindness into which she fell in her old age was owing to weeping; but Mr. Howell, the judicious editor of the "State Trials," informs us, upon the authority of "a very learned, skilful, and experienced physiologist," "that a cataract, which seems," he says, "to have been the malady of Lady Rachael's eyes, is by no means likely to be produced by weeping."[212]

We will here insert a few of the most touching passages from the "Letters of Lady Russell" (seventh edition, 1819). On the 30th of September, she writes thus to her friend. Dr Fitzwilliam:—

"I endeavour to make the best use I can of both (a letter and prayer which the Doctor sent her); but I am so evil and unworthy a creature, that though I have desires, yet I have no disposition, or worthiness, towards receiving comfort." And again:—"I know I have deserved my punishment, and will be silent under it; but yet secretly my heart mourns, and cannot be comforted, because I have not the dear companion and sharer of all my joys and sorrows. I want 220 him to talk with, to walk with, to eat and sleep with; all these things are irksome to me now; all company and meals I could avoid, if it might be. Yet all this is, that I enjoy not the world in my own way, and this same hinders my comfort. When I see my children before me, I remember the pleasure he took in them; this makes my heart shrink."

On the 21st July, 1685, the anniversary of her husband's death, two years after it, she writes thus:—

"My languishing weary spirit rises up slowly to all good; yet I hope by God's abundant grace, in time, your labours will work the same effect in my spirits: they will, indeed, in less time on others better disposed and prepared than I am, who in the day of affliction seem to have no remembrance with due thankfulness of prosperity."

In a letter written the 4th October, 1686, she says, speaking of a recovery of one of her children from sickness,—

"I hope this has been a sorrow I shall profit by; I shall, if God will strengthen my faith, resolve to return him a constant praise, and make this the season to chase all secret murmurs from grieving my soul for what is past, letting it rejoice in what it should rejoice, his favour to me, in the blessings I have left, which many of my betters want, and yet have lost their chiefest friend also. But, oh, Doctor! the manner of my deprivation is yet astonishing."

The following is dated five years after her loss. She is speaking of a letter she wrote once a week to Dr. Fitzwilliam. Her grief had now begun to taste the sweets of patience and temperance; but we see still how real it is:—

"I can't but own there is a sort of secret delight in the privacy of one of those mournful days; I think, besides a better reason, one is, that I do not tie myself up as I do on other days; for, God knows, my eyes are ever ready to pour out marks of a sorrowful heart, which I shall carry to the grave, that quiet bed of rest."

In 1692, Lady Russell writes less patiently, but shortly afterwards appears to have regained her composure; and in Letter 134, there is a remark on the blessings of health, and on the comfort of being able to do one's duty, if we aim at it. In 1711, she lost her only son, the Duke of Bedford, in his 31st year; and six months afterwards was deprived of one of her daughters, who died in childbed. It was on this occasion that an affecting anecdote is told. She had another daughter who happened to be in childbed also; and as it was necessary to conceal from her the death of her sister, this admirable woman assumed a cheerful air, and in answer to her daughter's anxious inquiries, said, with an extraordinary colouring of the fact, for which a martyr to truth could have loved her, "I have seen your sister out of bed to-day." 221

We intended not to omit the following charming passage from her letters, and therefore add it here. It is in the letter last quoted:—

"My friendships have made all the joys and troubles of my life; and yet who would live and not love? Those who have tried the insipidness of it would, I believe, never choose it. Mr. Waller says, 'tis (with singing) all we know they do above! And 'tis enough; for if there is so charming a delight in the love, and suitableness in humours, to creatures, what must it be to the clarified spirits to love in the presence of God!"

The passage from Waller is,—

"What know we of the blest above,

But that they sing and that they love?"

Certainly, if ever there was an angel upon earth this woman was one. Compare the above extracts with a letter from her to her husband, written in the year 1681, and published in the work of Lord John Russell, vol. ii., p. 2. It is a true, loving, happy wife's letter, and renders the contrast inexpressibly affecting.

The present ducal family of Bedford have the honour to be lineally descended from these two excellent persons, and to derive their very dukedom from public virtue—a rare patent. And they have shown that they estimate the honour. What must not Lady Russell have felt when James II., within six years after the destruction of her husband, was forced to give up his throne? And what, above all, must she not have felt, when she heard of the answer given by her aged father-in-law to the same prince, who had the meanness, or want of imagination, to apply to him in his distress? "My Lord," said James to the Earl of Bedford, "you are an honest man, have great credit, and can do me signal service." "Ah, sir," replied the Earl, "I am old and feeble, but I once had a son." The King is said to have been so struck with this reply, that he was silent for some minutes. With this anecdote we may well terminate our account of the patriot Russell.[213]

One remark, however, we must make. It has been asserted, that the great reason why the Whigs of those days wished to keep the Catholics out of power was the dread of losing their estates as well as political influence, and of being 222 obliged to give up the Abbey lands. There may have been a good deal of truth in this, and yet the rest of their feelings have been very sincere. Men may be educated in undue notions of the value of wealth and property, and yet prove their possession of nobler thoughts, when brought to heroical issues of life and death.

The house in this square (Lincoln's Inn,) at the corner of Great Queen Street, with a passage under its side, was once called Newcastle House, and was occupied by the well-known fantastical duke of that name, Minister of George II. Pennant says it was built about the year 1686, "by the Marquis of Powis, and called Powis House, and afterwards sold to the late noble owner." The architect was Captain William Winde. "It is said," he adds, "that government had it once in contemplation to have bought and settled it officially on the great seal. At that time it was inhabited by the lord keeper, Sir Nathan Wright." It is at present occupied by the Society for the diffusion of the Bible.


The Marquis of Powis, here mentioned, had scarcely built his house in the square where Lord Russell was beheaded, when he saw his lordship's destroyer forced to leave his 223 throne. The Marquis followed his fortunes, and was created by him Duke of Powis.

A laughable, and, we believe, true story, connected with the Duke of Newcastle's residence in this house, is told in a curious miscellany intitled the "Lounger's Common-Place Book."

"This nobleman," says the writer, "with many good points, and described by a popular contemporary poet as almost eaten up by his zeal for the house of Hanover, was remarkable for being profuse of his promises on all occasions, and valued himself particularly on being able to anticipate the words or the wants of the various persons who attended his levees before they uttered a word. This sometimes led him into ridiculous embarrassments; but it was his tendency to lavish promises, which gave occasion for the anecdote I am going to relate.

"At the election of a certain borough of Cornwall, where the opposite interests were almost equally poised, a single vote was of the highest importance; this object, the Duke, by well-applied arguments, and personal application, at length attained, and the gentleman he recommended gained his election.

"In the warmth of gratitude, his Grace poured forth acknowledgments and promises without ceasing, on the fortunate possessor of the casting vote; called him his best and dearest friend; protested that he should consider himself as for ever indebted; that he would serve him by night or by day.

"The Cornish voter, an honest fellow, as things go, and who would have thought himself sufficiently paid, but for such a torrent of acknowledgments, thanked the Duke for his kindness, and told him, 'The supervisor of excise was old and infirm, and if he would have the goodness to recommend his son-in-law to the commissioners in case of the old man's death, he should think himself and his family bound to render Government every assistance in his power, on any future occasion.'

"'My dear friend, why do you ask for such a trifling employment?' exclaimed his Grace, 'your relation shall have it at a word's speaking, the moment it is vacant.'—'But how shall I get admitted to you my Lord? for, in London, I understand, it is a very difficult business to get a sight of you great folks, though you are so kind and complaisant to us in the country.'—'The instant the man dies,' replied the premier, used to and prepared for the freedom of a contested election,—'the moment he dies, set out post-haste for London; drive directly to my house, by night or by day, sleeping or waking, dead or alive, thunder at the door; I will leave word with my porter to show you up-stairs directly, and the employment shall be disposed of according to your wishes.'

"The parties separated; the Duke drove to a friend's house in the neighbourhood, where he was visiting, without a wish or a design of seeing his new acquaintance till that day seven years; but the memory of a Cornish elector, not being loaded with such a variety of subjects, was more retentive. The supervisor died a few months after, and the ministerial partisan relying on the word of a peer, was conveyed to London post-haste, and ascended with alacrity the steps of a large house, now divided into three, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, at the corner of Great Queen Street. 224

"The reader should be informed that precisely at the moment when the expectations of a considerable party of a borough in Cornwall were roused by the death of a supervisor, no less a person than the King of Spain was expected hourly to depart; an event in which the Minister of Great Britain was particularly concerned.

"The Duke of Newcastle, on the very night that the proprietor of the decisive vote was at his door, had sat up anxiously expecting despatches from Madrid: wearied by official business and agitated spirits, he retired to rest, having previously given particular instructions to his porter not to go to bed, as he expected every minute a messenger with advices of the greatest importance, and desired he might be shown up-stairs the moment of his arrival.

"His Grace was sound asleep; for, with a thousand singularities, of which the rascals about him did not forget to take advantage, his worst enemies could not deny him the merit of good design, that best solace in a solitary hour. The porter, settled for the night in his chair, had already commenced a sonorous nap, when the vigorous arm of the Cornish voter roused him from his slumbers.

"To his first question, 'Is the Duke at home?' the porter replied, 'Yes; and in bed, but has left particular orders that come when you will, you are to go up to him directly.'—'God for ever bless him, a worthy and honest gentleman,' cried our applier for the vacant post, smiling and nodding with approbation at a Prime Minister's so accurately keeping his promise; 'how punctual his Grace is! I knew he would not deceive me. Let me hear no more of lords and dukes not keeping their words. I believe, verily, they are as honest and mean as well as other folks, but I can't always say the same of those who are about them.' Repeating these words as he ascended the stairs, the burgess of —— was ushered into the Duke's bedchamber.

"'Is he dead?' exclaimed his Grace, rubbing his eyes, and scarcely awaked from dreaming of the King of Spain, 'Is he dead?' 'Yes, my lord,' replied the eager expectant, delighted to find that the election promise, with all its circumstances, was so fresh in the Minister's memory. 'When did he die?' 'The day before yesterday, exactly at half-past one o'clock, after being confined three weeks to his bed, and taking a power of doctor's stuff; and I hope your Grace will be as good as your word, and let my son-in-law succeed him.'

"The duke, by this time perfectly awake, was staggered at the impossibility of receiving intelligence from Madrid in so short a space of time, and perplexed at the absurdity of a king's messenger applying for his son-in-law to succeed the King of Spain: 'Is the man drunk or mad; where are your despatches?' exclaimed his Grace, hastily drawing back his curtain; when, instead of a royal courier, his eager eye recognised at the bedside the well-known countenance of his friend in Cornwall, making low bows, with hat in hand, and 'hoping my lord would not forget the gracious promise he was so good as to make in favour of his son-in-law at the last election at ——.'

"Vexed at so untimely a disturbance, and disappointed of news from Spain, he frowned for a few seconds, but chagrin soon gave way to mirth at so singular and ridiculous a combination of opposite circumstances. Yielding to the irritation, he sank on the bed in a violent fit of laughter, which, like the electrical fluid, was communicated in a moment to his attendants."[214]




Great Queen Street—Former fashionable Houses there—Lewis and Miss Pope, the Comedians—Martin Folkes—Sir Godfrey Kneller and his Vanity—Dr. Radcliffe—Lord Herbert of Cherbury—Nuisance of Whetstone Park—The Three Dukes and the Beadle—Rogues and Vagabonds in the Time of Charles II—Former Theatres in Vere Street and Portugal Street—First appearance of Actresses—Infamous deception of one of them by the Earl of Oxford—Appearance of an avowed Impostor on the Stage—Anecdotes of the Wits and fine Ladies of the Time of Charles, connected with the Theatre in this Quarter—Kynaston, Betterton, Nokes, Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Mountford, and other Performers—Rich—Joe Miller—Carey Street and Mrs. Chapone—Clare Market—History, and Specimens, of Orator Henley—Duke Street and Little Wild Street—Anecdotes of Dr. Franklin's Residence in those Streets while a Journeyman Printer.


Great Queen Street, in the time of the Stuarts, was one of the grandest and most fashionable parts of the town. The famous Lord Herbert of Cherbury died there. Lord Bristol had a house in it, Lord Chancellor Finch, and the Conway and Paulet families. Some of the houses towards the west retain pilasters and other ornaments, probably indicating, as Pennant observes, the abodes in question. Little thought the noble lords that a time would come, when a player should occupy their rooms, and be able to entertain their descendants in them; but in a house of this description, lately occupied by Messrs. Allman the booksellers, died Lewis, the comedian, one of the most delightful performers of his class, and famous to the last for his invincible airiness and juvenility. Mr. Lewis displayed a combination rarely to be found in acting, that of the fop and the real gentleman. With a voice, a manner, and a person, all equally graceful and light, and features at once whimsical and genteel, he played on the top of his profession like a plume. He was the Mercutio of the age, in every sense of the word mercurial. His airy, breathless voice, thrown to the audience before he appeared, was the signal of his winged animal spirits; and when he gave a glance of his eye, or touched his finger at another's ribs, it was the very punctum saliens of playfulness and inuendo. We saw him take leave of the public, a man of 226 sixty-five, looking not more than half the age, in the character of the Copper Captain; and heard him say, in a voice broken by emotion, that "for the space of thirty years, he had not once incurred their displeasure."

Next door but one to the Freemasons' Tavern (westward), for many years lived another celebrated comic performer, Miss Pope, one of a very different sort, and looking as heavy and insipid as her taste was otherwise. She was an actress of the highest order for dry humour; one of those who convey the most laughable things with a grave face. Churchill, in the Rosciad, when she must have been very young, mentions her as an actress of great vivacity, advancing in a "jig," and performing the parts of Cherry and Polly Honeycomb. There was certainly nothing of the Cherry and Honeycomb about her when older; but she was an admirable Mrs. Malaprop.


Queen Street continued to be a place of fashionable resort for a considerable period after the Revolution. As we have been speaking of the advancement of actors in social rank, we will take occasion of the birth of Martin Folkes in this street, the celebrated scholar and antiquary, to mention that he was one of the earliest persons among the gentry to marry an actress. His wife was Lucretia Bradshaw. It may be thought worth observing by the romantic, that the ladies who were first selected to give this rise to the profession, had all something peculiar in their Christian names. Lord Peterborough married Anastasia Robinson, and the Duke of Bolton, Lavinia Fenton. 227

Sir Godfrey Kneller, and Radcliffe the physician, lived in this street. We mention them together because they were neighbours, and there is a pleasant anecdote of them in conjunction. The author of a book lately published, describes their neighbourhood as being in Bow Street; but Horace Walpole, the authority for the story, places it in the street before us; adding, in a note, that Kneller "first lived in Durham Yard (in the Strand), then twenty-one years in Covent Garden (we suppose in Bow Street), and lastly in Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields." "Kneller," says Walpole, "was fond of flowers, and had a fine collection. As there was great intimacy between him and the physician, he permitted the latter to have a door into his garden; but Radcliffe's servants gathering and destroying the flowers, Kneller sent him word he must shut up the door. Radcliffe replied peevishly, 'Tell him he may do anything with it but paint it.' 'And I,' answered Sir Godfrey, 'can take anything from him but physic.'"[215]

Kneller, besides being an admired painter (and it is supposed from one of his performances, the portrait of a Chinese, that he could have been admired by posterity, if he chose), was a man of wit; but so vain, that he is described as being the butt of all the wits of his acquaintances. They played upon him undoubtedly, and at a great rate; but it has been suggested by a shrewd observer, that while he consented to have his vanity tickled at any price, he humoured the joke himself, and was quite aware of what they were at. Nor is this inconsistent with the vanity, which would always make large allowances for the matter of fact. The extravagance it would limit where it pleased; the truth remained; and Sir Godfrey, as Pope said, had a large appetite. With this probability a new interest is thrown upon the anecdotes related of his vanity, with the best of which the reader is accordingly presented. Kneller was a German, born at Lubec, so that his English is to be read with a foreign accent.

The younger Richardson tells us, that Gay read Sir Godfrey a copy of verses, in which he had pushed his flattery so far, that he was all the while in dread lest the knight should detect him. When Kneller had heard this through, he said, in his foreign style and accent, "Ay, Mr. Gay, all what you have said is very fine, and very true; but you have forgot one thing, my good friend; by G—, I should have been a 228 general of an army; for when I was at Venice, there was a girandole, and all the place of St. Mark was in a smoke of gunpowder, and I did like the smell, Mr. Gay; should have been a great general, Mr. Gay!"

Perhaps it was this real or apparent obtuseness which induced Gay to add "engineering" to his other talents, in the verses describing Pope's welcome from Greece:—

"Kneller amid the triumph bears his part,

Who could (were mankind lost) a new create:

What can the extent of his vast soul confine?

A painter, critic, engineer, divine."

The following is related on the authority of Pope:—

"Old Jacob Tonson got a great many fine pictures, and two of himself, from him, by this means. Sir Godfrey was very covetous, but then he was very vain, and a great glutton; so he played these passions against the others; besides telling him that he was the greatest master that ever was, sending him, every now and then, a haunch of venison, and dozens of excellent claret. 'O, my G—, man,' said he once to Vander Gucht, 'this old Jacob loves me; he is a very good man; you see he loves me, he sends me good things; the venison was fat.' Old Geekie, the surgeon, got several fine pictures of him too, and an excellent one of himself; but then he had them cheaper, for he gave nothing but praises; but then his praises were as fat as Jacob's venison; neither could be too fat for Sir Godfrey."

Pope related the following to Spence:—

"As I was sitting by Sir Godfrey Kneller one day, whilst he was drawing a picture, he stopt, and said, 'I can't do as well as I should do, unless you flatter me a little, Mr. Pope! You know I love to be flattered.' I was for once willing," continues Pope, "to try how far this vanity would carry him; and after considering a picture which he had just finished, for a good while very attentively, I said to him in French (for he had been talking for some time before in that language), 'On lit dans les Ecritures Saintes, que le bon Dieu faisoit l'homme après son image: mais, je crois, que s'il voudroit faire un autre à présent, qu'il le feroit après l'image que voilà.' Sir Godfrey turned round, and said very gravely, 'Vous avez raison, Monsieur Pope; par Dieu, je le crois aussi.'"

It must not be omitted that Kneller was a kind-hearted man. At Whitton, where he had a seat, he was justice of the peace, and,

"Was so much more swayed," says Walpole, "by equity than law, that his judgments, accompanied with humour, are said to have occasioned those lines by Pope:—

"I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit,

Who sent the thief (that stole the cash) away,

And punish'd him that put it in his way."

"This alluded to his dismissing a soldier who had stolen a joint of 229 meat, and accused the butcher of having tempted him by it. Whenever Sir Godfrey was applied to, to determine what parish a poor man belonged to, he always inquired which parish was the richer, and settled the poor man there; nor would he ever sign a warrant to distrain the goods of a poor man who could not pay a tax."[216]

Poor Radcliffe, after reigning as a physician so despotically, that Arbuthnot, in his projected map of diseases, was for putting him up at the corner of it disputing the empire of the world, became a less happy man than Sir Godfrey, by reason of his falling in love in his old age. He set up a coach, adorned with mythological paintings,—at least, Steele says so; but soon had to put it in mourning for the death of his flame, who was a Miss Tempest, one of the maids of honour. Radcliffe was the Tory physician, and Steele, in the "Tatler," with a party spirit that was much oftener aggrieved than provoked in that good-natured writer, was induced, by some circumstance or other, perhaps Radcliffe's insolence, to make a ludicrous description of him, "as the mourning Esculapius, the languishing, hopeless lover of the divine Hebe." Steele accuses him of avarice. Others have said he was generous. He was the founder of the Radcliffe Library at Oxford, and made other magnificent bequests; which prove nothing either way. But it is not favourable to a reputation for generosity, to own (as he did), that he was fond of spunging, and to avoid the paying of bills. However, when he lost 5,000l. in a speculation, he said "he had nothing to do but to go up so many pair of stairs to make himself whole again." He was undoubtedly a very clever physician, though he made little use of books. Like many men who go upon their own grounds in this way, he had an abrupt and clownish manner, which he probably thought of use. According to Richardson, he one day said to Dr. Mead, "Mead, I love you; now I will tell you a sure secret to make your fortune. Use all mankind ill." It is worth observing, that Mead acted on the reverse principle, and made double the fortune of his adviser. Radcliffe is said have attended the lady of Judge Holt, in a bad illness, with unusual assiduity, "out of pique to her husband;" a very new kind of satire. He used to send huffing messages to Queen Anne, telling her that he would not come, and that she only had the vapours; and when King William consulted him on his swollen ankles and thin body, Radcliffe said he "would not have his Majesty's 230 two legs for his three kingdoms;" a speech which it was not in the nature of royalty to forgive. His death is said to have been hastened by his refusal to attend on Queen Anne in her last illness; which so exasperated the populace that he was afraid to leave his country house at Carshalton, where he died. He lived in Bow Street when he first came to London; and afterwards in Bloomsbury Square.

But the most remarkable inhabitant of Queen Street was Lord Herbert of Cherbury, one of those extraordinary individuals who, with a touch of madness on the irascible side, and subject to the greatest blindness of self-love, possess a profound judgment on every other point. Such persons are supposed to be victims of imagination; but they are rather mechanical enthusiasts (though of a high order), and, for want of an acquaintance with the imaginative, become at the mercy of the first notion which takes their will by surprise. Lord Herbert, who in the intellectual part was intended for a statist and a man of science, was unfortunately one of the hottest of Welchmen in the physical. Becoming a Knight of the Bath, he took himself for a knight-errant, and fancied he was bound to fight everybody he met with, and to lie under trees in the fields of Holland. He thought Revelation a doubtful matter, and so he had recourse to the Deity for a revelation in his particular favour to disprove it. We have related an anecdote of him at Northumberland House, and shall have more to tell; but the account of his having recourse to Heaven for the satisfaction of his doubts of its interference, must not be omitted here. Perhaps it took place in this very street. His Lordship was the first Deist in England that has left an account of his opinions. Speaking of the work he wrote on this subject, he says:—

"My book 'De Veritate prout distinguitur à Revelatione verisimili, possibili, et à falso,' having been begun by me in England, and formed there in all its principal parts, was about this time finished; all the spare hours which I could get from my visits and negotiations being employed to perfect this work; which was no sooner done, but that I communicated it to Hugo Grotius—that great scholar, who, having escaped his prison in the Low Countries, came into France, and was much welcomed by me and Monsieur Tieleners, also one of the greatest scholars of his time; who, after they had perused it, and given it more commendations than is fit for me to repeat, exhorted me earnestly to print and publish it; howbeit, as the frame of my whole work was so different from anything which had been written heretofore, I found I must either renounce the authority of all that I had written formerly, concerning the method of finding out truth, and consequently 231 insist upon my own way, or hazard myself to a general censure concerning the whole argument of my book; I must confess it did not a little animate me, that the two great persons above-mentioned did so highly value it; yet, as I knew it would meet with much opposition, I did consider whether it was not better for me for a while to suppress it.

"Being thus doubtful in my chamber one fair day in the summer, my casement being open towards the south, the sun shining clear, and no wind stirring, I took my book, 'De Veritate,' in my hand, and kneeling on my knees, devoutly said these words:—

"'Oh, thou eternal God, author of the light which now shines upon me, and giver of all inward illuminations, I do beseech thee of thy infinite goodness to pardon a greater request than a sinner ought to make; I am not satisfied enough whether I shall publish this book 'De Veritate;' if it be for thy glory, I beseech thee give me some sign from heaven; if not, I shall suppress it.'

"I had no sooner spoken these words, but a loud though gentle noise came from the heavens (for it was like nothing on earth) which did so comfort and cheer me, that I took my petition as granted, and that I had the sign I demanded; whereupon also I resolved to print my book. This (how strange soever it may seem) I protest, before the eternal God, is true; neither am I any way superstitiously deceived herein; since I did not only hear the noise, but, in the serenest sky that ever I saw, being without all cloud, did to my thinking see the place from whence it came."[217]

"How could a man," justly observes Walpole on this passage, "who doubted of partial, believe individual revelation! What vanity to think his book of such importance to the cause of truth, that it could extort a declaration of the Divine will, when the interest of half mankind could not!" Yet the same writer is full of admiration of him in other respects. It is well observed by the editor of the Autobiography (in reply to the doubts thrown on his lordship's veracity respecting his chivalrous propensities, the consequences of which always fell short of duels), that much of the secret might be owing "to his commanding aspect and acknowledged reputation; and a little more to a certain perception of the Quixote in his character, with which it might be deemed futile to contend. His surprising defence of himself against the attack of Sir John Ayres, forcibly exhibits his personal strength and mastery; and his spirited treatment of the French Minister, Luynes, and the general esteem of his contemporaries, sufficiently 232 attest his quick feeling of national and personal dignity, and general gallantry of bearing." There is no doubt, in short, that Lord Herbert of Cherbury was a brave, an honest, and an able man, though with some weaknesses, both of heat and vanity, sufficient to console the most common-place.

With all this elegance of neighbourhood, Lincoln's Inn Fields, in the time of Charles II., had one eyesore of an enormous description, in a place behind Holborn row, entitled Whetstone Park. It is now a decent passage between Great and Little Turnstiles.

"It is scarcely necessary," says Mr. Malcolm, "to remind the reader of a well-known fact, that all sublunary things are subject to change:—he who passes through the Little Turnstile, Holborn, at present, will observe on the left hand, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, a narrow street, composed of small buildings, on the corner of which is inscribed Whetstone Park. The repose and quiet of the place seem to proclaim strong pretensions to regular and moral life in the inhabitants; and well would it have been for the happiness of many a family, had the site always exhibited the same appearance. On the contrary, Whetstone Park contributed to increase the dissoluteness of manners which distinguished the period between 1660 and 1700. Being a place of low entertainment, numerous disturbances occurred there, and rendered it subject to the satire and reprehension even of 'Poor Robin's Intelligencer,' a paper almost infamous enough for the production of a keeper of this theatre of vice. The publication alluded to says, in 1676, 'Notwithstanding the discourses that have been to the contrary, the boarding-school is still continued here, where a set of women may be readily untaught all the studies of modesty or chastity; to which purpose they are provided with a two-handed volume of impudence, loosely bound up in greasy vellum, which is tied by the leg to a wicker chair (as you find authors chained in a library), and is always ready to give you plain instructions and directions in all matters relating to immorality or irreligion.' * *

"Incomprehensible as it certainly is," continues our author, "the brutal acts of a mob are sometimes the result of a just sense of the ill consequences attending vice; and, although almost every individual composing it is capable of performing deeds which deserve punishment from the police, they cannot collectively view long and deliberate offences against the laws of propriety, without assuming the right of reforming them. 'The Loyal and Impartial Mercury' of Sept. 1, 1682, has this paragraph:—'On Saturday last, about 500 apprentices, and such like, being got together in Smithfield, went into Lincoln's Inn Fields, where they drew up, and marching into Whetstone Park, fell upon the lewd houses there, where, having broken open the doors, they entered, and made great spoil of the goods; of which the constables and watchmen having notice, and not finding themselves strong enough to quell the tumult, procured a party of the King's guards who dispersed them, and took eleven, who were committed to New Prison; yet on Sunday night they came again, and made worse 233 havoc than before, breaking down all the doors and windows, and cutting the featherbeds and goods in pieces.' Another newspaper explains the origin of the riot by saying, 'that a countryman who had been decoyed into one of the houses alluded to, and robbed, lodged a formal and public complaint against them to those he found willing to listen to him in Smithfield, and thus raised the ferment.'"[218]

In the "State Poems" is a doggrel set of verses on a tragical circumstance occasioned by a frolic of three of Charles's natural sons in this place. It is entitled "On the three Dukes killing the Beadle on Sunday morning, Feb. the 26th, 1671." A great sensation was made by this circumstance, which was naturally enough regarded as a signal instance of the consequences of Charles's mode of life. Our Grub Street writer selected his title well—the "Dukes," the "Beadle," and the "Sunday." His first four lines might have been put into Martinus Scriblerus, as a specimen of the Newgate style.

"Near Holborn lies a park of great renown,

The place, I do suppose, is not unknown:

For brevity's sake the name I shall not tell,

Because most genteel readers know it well."

The three Dukes pick a quarrel with one poor damsel, and "murder" was cried.

"In came the watch, disturbed with sleep and ale,

By noises shrill, but they could not prevail

T' appease their Graces. Strait rose mortal jars,

Betwixt the night blackguard and silver stars;

Then fell the beadle by a ducal hand,

For daring to pronounce the saucy stand.

See what mishaps dare e'en invade Whitehall,

This silly fellow's death puts off the ball,

And disappoints the Queen, poor little chuck;

I warrant t'would have danced it like a duck.

The fiddlers, voices, entries, all the sport,

And the gay show put off, where the brisk court

Anticipates, in rich subsidy coats,

All that is got by necessary votes.

Yet shall Whitehall, the innocent, the good,

See these men dance, all daubed with lace and blood."[219]

The "subsidy coats" allude to Charles's raising money for his profligate expenditure under pretence of the public service. The last couplet would have done credit to a better satire.


As we are upon the subject of a neighbourhood to which they apply, we shall proceed to give a few more extracts from Mr. Malcolm, highly characteristic of the lower orders of desperadoes in Charles's reign.

"The various deceivers," he tells us, "who preyed upon the public at this time were exposed in a little filthy work called the 'Canting Academy,' which went through more than one edition (the second is dated 1674). I shall select from it enough to show the variety of villany practised under their various names. The Ruffler was a wretch who assumed the character of a maimed soldier, and begged from the claims of Naseby, Edgehill, Newbury, and Marston Moor. Those who were stationed in the city of London were generally found in Lincoln's Inn Fields and Covent Garden; and their prey was people of fashion, whose coaches were attacked boldly; and if denied, their owners were told, ''Tis a sad thing that an old crippled cavalier should be suffered to beg for a maintenance, and a young cavalier that had never heard the whistle of a bullet should ride in his coach.'

"There were people called Anglers, from the nature of their method of depredating, which was thus.—They had a rod or stick, with an iron hook affixed: this they introduced through a window, or any other aperture, where plunder might be procured, and helped themselves at pleasure; the day was occupied by them in the character of beggars, when they made their observations for the angling of the night.

"Wild Rogues were the offspring of thieves and beggars, who received the rudiments of the art even before they left their mothers' backs: "To go into churches and great crowds, and to nim golden buttons off men's cloaks; and being very little are shown how to creep into cellar windows, or other small entrances, and in the night to convey out thereat whatever they can find to the thievish receivers, who wait without for that purpose; and sometimes do open the door to let in such who have designed to rob the house; if taken, the tenderness of their age makes an apology or an excuse for their fault, and so are let alone to be hanged at riper years.'

"Palliards or Clapperdogeons, were those women who sat and reclined in the streets, with their own borrowed or stolen children hanging about them, crying through cold, pinching, or real disease, who begged relief as widows, and, in the name of their fatherless children, gaining by this artifice, 'a great deal of money, whilst her comrogue lies begging in the fields, with climes or artificial sores.' The way they commonly take to make them is by sperewort or arsenic, which will draw blisters; or they take unslacked lime and soap, mingled with the rust of old iron: these being well tempered together, and spread thick upon two pieces of leather, they apply to the leg, binding it thereunto very hard, which in a very little time would fret the skin so that the flesh would appear all raw, &c. &c.

"Fraters were impostors who went through the country with forged patents for briefs, and thus diverted charity from its proper direction.

"Abram men were fellows whose occupations seem to have been forgotten. They are described in the 'Canting Academy' in these words:—'Abram men are otherwise called Tom of Bedlams; they 235 are very strangely and antickly garbed, with several coloured ribands or tape in their hats, it may be instead of a feather, a fox tail hanging down, a long stick with ribands streaming, and the like; yet for all their seeming madness they have wit enough to steal as they go.'[220]

"The Whip-Jacks have left us a specimen of their fraternity. They were counterfeit mariners, whose conversations were plentifully embellished with sea-terms, and falsehoods of their danger in the exercise of their profession. Instead of securing their arms and legs close to their bodies, and wrapping them in bandages (as the modern whip-jack is in the habit of doing, to excite compassion for the loss of limbs and severe wounds), the ancients merely pretended they had lost their all by shipwreck, and were reduced to beg their way to a sea-port, if in the country; or to some remote one, if in London.

"Mumpers.—The persons thus termed are described as being of both sexes: they were not solicitors for food, but money and cloathes. 'The male mumper, in the times of the late usurpation, was clothed in an old torn cassock, begirt with a girdle, with a black cap, and a white one peeping out underneath.' With a formal and studied countenance he stole up to a gentleman, and whispered him softly in the ear, that he was a poor sequestered parson, with a wife and many children. At other times, they would assume the habit of a decayed gentleman, and beg as if they had been ruined by their attachment to the royal cause. Sometimes the mumper appeared with an apron before him, and a cap on his head, and begs in the nature of a broken tradesman, who, having been a long time sick, hath spent all his remaining stock, and so weak he cannot work! The females of this class of miscreants generally attacked the ladies, and in a manner suited to make an impression on their finer feelings.

"Domerars are such as counterfeit themselves dumb, and have a notable art to roll their tongues up into the roof of their mouth, that you would verily believe their tongues were cut out; and, to make you have a stronger belief thereof, they will gape and show you where it was done, clapping in a sharp stick, and, touching the tongue, make it bleed—and then the ignorant dispute it no further.'

"Patricos are the strolling priests: every hedge is their parish, and every wandering rogue their parishioner. The service, he saith, is the marrying of couples, without the Gospel, or Book of Common Prayer, the solemnity whereof is thus: the parties to be married find out a dead horse, or any other beast, and standing the one on the one side and the other on the other, the patrico bids them to live together till death them part; and, so shaking hands, the wedding is ended.'"[221]


On the southern side of Lincoln's Inn Fields, at the back of Portugal Row, is Portugal Street, formerly containing a theatre, as celebrated as Covent Garden or Drury Lane is now. This was the Duke's Theatre, so called from the Duke of York, afterwards James II., who, at the Restoration, patronised one of the principal companies of players, as his brother Charles did the other. The latter was the Drury Lane company. Readers of theatrical history are generally 236 led to conclude that there was only one theatre in the Lincoln's Inn quarter; but this is a mistake. There were at least two successive houses in two different places, though usually confounded under the title of "the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields." The first was in Gibbon's tennis-court, in Vere Street, Clare Market, where the actors who had played at the Red Bull opened their performances in the year of the Restoration, under the direction of Killigrew, and with the title of King's Company. These in 1663 removed to Drury Lane. The Duke's, or Sir William Davenant's company, removed in 1662 from Salisbury Court (see Fleet Street) to a new theatre "in Portugal Row," says Malone, "near Lincoln's Inn Fields."[222] Malone is a correct inquirer: so that he makes us doubt whether the name of Portugal Row did not formerly belong to Portugal Street. The latter is certainly meant, or he would describe it as in and not near the Fields. Davenant's company performed here till 1671, when they quitted it to return to the renovated theatre in Salisbury Court, under the management of his son, Charles Davenant (the father being dead), and the famous Betterton, who had been Sir William's first actor. The two companies afterwards came together at Drury Lane, but again fell apart; and in 1695 the Duke's company (if its altered composition could still warrant the name), with Betterton remaining at its head, and Congreve 237 for a partner, again opened "the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields," which was rebuilt for the purpose, and is described as being in "the Tennis-court." Was this the tennis-court theatre in Vere Street? or were there two tennis-courts, one in Vere Street, and one in Lincoln's Inn Fields? We confess ourselves, after a diligent examination, unable to determine. At all events, the latest theatre of which we hear in Lincoln's Inn Fields, was not in Vere Street. It stood in Portugal Street, on the east end of the present burial ground, just at the back of Surgeons' College, and was subsequently the china warehouse of Messrs. Spode and Copeland.[223] This theatre, which was built of red brick, and had a front facing the market, is the one generally meant by the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields. It finally became celebrated for the harlequinades of Rich; but, on his removal to Covent Garden, was deserted, and, after a short re-opening by Gifford from Goodman's Fields, finally ceased to be a theatre about the year 1737. Since that period Covent Garden and Drury Lane playhouses have had this part of the town to themselves.

It is conjectured, that the first appearance of an actress on the English stage, to the scandal of the Puritans, and with many apologies for the "indecorum" of giving up the performances of female characters by boys, took place in the theatre in Vere Street, on Saturday, Dec. 8, 1660. The part first performed was certainly that of Desdemona; a very fit one to introduce the claims of the sex.[224]

Mr. Malone has given us the prologue written for this occasion by Thomas Jordan; which, as it shows the "sensation" that was made, sets us in a lively manner in the situation of the spectators, and gives a curious account of some of the male actors of gentle womanhood, we shall here repeat. It is entitled "A Prologue, to introduce the first Woman that came to act on the Stage, in the Tragedy called the Moor of Venice:"

"I came unknown to any of the rest,

To tell the news; I saw the lady drest:

The woman plays to-day; mistake me not,

No man in gown, or page in petticoat:

A woman to my knowledge, yet I can't,

If I should die, make affidavit on't.

Do you not twitter, gentlemen? I know

You will be censuring: do it fairly, though;


'Tis possible a virtuous woman may

Abhor all sorts of looseness, and yet play;

Play on the stage—where all eyes are upon her:

Shall we count that a crime France counts an honour?

In other kingdoms husbands safely trust 'em;

The difference lies only in the custom.

And let it be our custom, I advise;

I'm sure this custom's better than th' excise,

And may procure us custom: hearts of flint

Will melt in passion, when a woman's in't.

But, gentlemen, you that as judges sit

In the Star-chamber of the house—the pit,

Have modest thoughts of her; pray, do not run

To give her visits when the play is done,

With 'damn me, your most humble servant, lady;'

She knows these things as well as you, it may be;

Not a bit there, dear gallants, she doth know

Her own deserts,—and your temptations too.

But to the point:—in this reforming age

We have intents to civilize the stage.

Our women are defective, and so sized,

You'd think they were some of the guard disguised;

For to speak truth, men act, that are between

Forty and fifty, wenches of fifteen;

With bone so large, and nerve so incompliant,

When you call Desdemona, enter giant.

We shall purge everything that is unclean,

Lascivious, scurrilous, impious, or obscene;

And when we've put all things in this fair way,

Barebones himself may come to see a play."[225]

The epilogue, "which consists of but twelve lines, is in the same strain of apology."

"And how do you like her; Come, what is't ye drive at?

She's the same thing in public as in private,

As far from being what you call a whore,

As Desdemona injured by the Moor;

Then he that censures her in such a case,

Hath a soul blacker than Othello's face.

But, ladies, what think you? for if you tax

Her freedom with dishonour to your sex,

She means to act no more, and this shall be

No other play, but her own tragedy.

She will submit to none but your commands,

And take commission only from your hands."[226]

From the nature of this epilogue, and the permission accorded by the ladies, the women actors appear to have met with all the success they could wish; yet a prologue to the second part of Davenant's "Siege of Rhodes," acted in April, 1662, 239 shows us that the matter was still considered a delicate one upwards of a year afterwards.

"Hope little from our poet's withered wit,

From infant players scarce grown puppets yet;

Hope from our women less, whose bashful fear

Wondered to see me dare to enter here:

Each took her leave, and wished my danger past,

And though I came back safe and undisgraced,

Yet when they spy the wits here, then I doubt

No amazon can make them venture out,

Though I advised them not to fear you much,

For I presume not half of you are such."[227]

It was in the Theatre at Vere Street that Pepys first saw a woman on the stage.[228] One of the earliest female performers mentioned by him was an actress whose name is not ascertained, but who attained an unfortunate celebrity in the part of Roxana in the "Siege of Rhodes." She was seduced by Aubery de Vere, the last Earl of Oxford of that name, under the guise of a private marriage—a species of villany which made a great figure in works of fiction up to a late period. The story is "got up" in detail by Madame Dunois, in her "History of the Court of Charles II.;"[229] but it is told with more brevity in Grammont; and as the latter, though apocryphal enough, pretends to say nothing on the subject in which he is not borne out by other writers, his lively account may be laid before the reader.

"The Earl of Oxford," says one of his heroines, "fell in love with a handsome, graceful actress, belonging to the Duke's theatre, who performed to perfection, particularly the part of Roxana in a very fashionable new play; insomuch that she ever after retained that name. This creature being both very virtuous and very modest, or, if you please, wonderfully obstinate, proudly rejected the presents and addresses of the Earl of Oxford. The resistance inflamed his passion; he had recourse to invectives and even spells; but all in vain. This disappointment had such an effect upon him, that he could neither eat nor drink; this did not signify to him; but his passion at length became so violent, that he could neither play nor smoke. In this extremity, Love had recourse to Hymen; the Earl of Oxford, one of the first peers of the realm, is, you know, a very handsome man: he is of the order of the Garter, which greatly adds to an air naturally noble. In short, from his outward appearance, you would suppose he was really possessed of some sense; but as soon as ever you hear him speak, you are perfectly convinced to the contrary. This passionate lover presented her with a promise of marriage, in due form, signed with his own hand; she would not, however, rely 240 upon this; but the next day she thought there could be no danger, when the Earl himself came to her lodgings attended by a clergyman, and another man for a witness; the marriage was accordingly solemnized with all due ceremonies, in the presence of one of her fellow-players, who attended as a witness on her part. You will suppose, perhaps, that the new countess had nothing to do but to appear at court according to her rank, and to display the earl's arms upon her carriage. This was far from being the case. When examination was made concerning the marriage, it was found to be a mere deception: it appeared that the pretended priest was one of my lord's trumpeters, and the witness his kettle-drummer. The parson and his companion never appeared after the ceremony was over; and as for the other witness, he endeavoured to persuade her that the Sultana Roxana might have supposed, in some part or other of a play, that she was really married. It was all to no purpose that the poor creature claimed the protection of the laws of God and man; both which were violated and abused, as well as herself, by this infamous imposition: in vain did she throw herself at the king's feet to demand justice; she had only to rise up again without redress; and happy might she think herself to receive an annuity of one thousand crowns, and to resume the name of Roxana, instead of Countess of Oxford."[230]

This scoundrel Earl (whose alleged want of sense is extremely probable, and was his best excuse, as well as the worst thing to say for the lady), died full of years and honours, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

In 1664, Mr. Pepys witnessed a scene in the theatre in Portugal Street, which shows the extremity to which the speculation of managers and the curiosity of the British public can go. This was no other than the appearance of an imposter, called the German Princess, in the part of her own character, after having been tried for it at the Old Bailey. She was tried for bigamy, and acquitted; but she had inveigled a young citizen into marriage under pretence of being a German Princess, the citizen pretending at the same time to be a nobleman. The impudence of the thing was completed by the badness of her performance. Granger, however, who appears to have read a vindication of her, which she published, thinks she had great natural abilities.

The following is curious:—4th (Feb. 1666-7).

"Soon as dined," says Pepys, "my wife and I out to the Duke's playhouse, and there saw Heraclius, an excellent play, to my extraordinary content; and the more from the house being very full, and great company; among others Mrs. Stuart,[231] very fine, with her locks done up in puffes, as my wife calls them: and several other 241 great ladies had their hair so, though I do not like it, but my wife do mightily; but it is only because she sees it is the fashion. Here I saw my Lord Rochester[232] and his lady, Mrs. Mallet, who hath after all this ado married him; and, as I hear some say in the pit, it is a great act of charity, for he hath no estate. But it was pleasant to see how everybody rose up when my Lord John Butler, the Duke of Ormond's son, came into the pit, towards the end of the play, who was a servant to Mrs. Mallett, and now smiled upon her, and she on him."[233]

One little thinks, now-a-days, in turning into Portugal Street, that all the fashionable world, with the wits and poets, once thronged into that poor-looking thoroughfare, with its bailiffs at one end, and its butchers at the other. The difference, however, between beaux and butchers was not so great at that time as it became afterwards; though none arrogated the praise of high breeding more than the fine gentlemen of Charles II. Next year Pepys speaks of a fray at this house between Harry Killigrew and the Duke of Buckingham, in which the latter beat him, and took away his sword. Another time, according to his account, Rochester beat Tom Killigrew, at the Dutch Ambassador's, and in the King's presence. Blows from people of rank do not appear to have been resented as they would be now.

In the following passage we have an author's first night before us, and that author the gallant Etherege, with dukes and wits about him in the pit. He makes, however, a very different figure in our eyes from what we commonly conceive of him, for he is unsuccessful and complaining.

"My wife," says Pepys, "being gone before (6th Feb. 1667-8), I to the Duke of York's playhouse, where a new play of Etheridge's, called 'She would if she could;' and, though I was there by two o'clock, there was one thousand people put back that could not have room in the pit; and I at last, because my wife was there, made shift to get into the 18d. box, and there saw. But Lord! how full was the house, and how silly the play, there being nothing in the world good in it, and few people pleased in it. The King was there; but I sat mightily behind, and could see but little, and hear not at all. The play being done, I into the pit to look for my wife, it being dark and raining; but could not find her, and so staid, going between the two doors and through the pit, an hour and a half, I think, after the play was done, the people staying there till the rain was over, and to talk one with another. And among the rest here was the Duke of Buckingham to-day openly sat in the pit; and there I found him with my Lord Buckhurst, and Sedley, and Etheridge the poet; the last of whom I did hear mightily find fault with the actors, that they were 242 out of humour and had not their parts perfect, and that Harris did do nothing, nor could so much as sing a catch in it; and so was mightily concerned; while all the rest did through the whole pit blame the play as a silly, dull thing, though there was something very roguish and witty; but the design of the play and end mighty insipid. At last I did find my wife."

The ensuing is a specimen of the manners of one of the fine ladies:-

"5th (May, 1668), Creed and I to the Duke of York's playhouse; and there, coming late, up to the balcony-box, where we find my Lady Castlemaine (the King's mistress) and several great ladies; and there we sat with them, and I saw the 'Impertinents' once more than yesterday! and I for that reason like it, I find, the better too. By Sir Positive At-all I understand is meant Sir Robert Howard. My lady pretty well pleased with it; but here I sat close to her fine woman, Wilson, who indeed is very handsome, but they say with child by the King. I asked, and she told me this was the first time her lady had seen it, I having a mind to say something to her. One thing of familiarity I observed in my Lady Castlemaine; she called to one of her women, another that sat by this, for a little patch off of her face, and put it into her mouth and wetted it, and so clapped it upon her own by the the side of her mouth; I suppose she feeling a pimple rising there."[234]

More manners of this gallant reign. Pepys says he went to see a woman with a great bushy beard, "which pleased him mightily."

"Thence to the Duke's playhouse, and saw 'Macbeth.' The King and Court there; and we sat just under them and my Lady Castlemaine, and close to a woman that comes into the pit, a kind of a loose gossip, that pretends to be like her, and is so something. And my wife, by my troth, appeared, I think, as pretty as any of them; I never thought so much before; and so did Talbot and W. Hewer, as they said, I heard, to one another. The King and Duke of York minded me, and smiled upon me, at the handsome woman near me; but it vexed me to see Moll Davies, in the box over the King and my Lady Castlemaine, look down upon the King and he up to her; and so did my Lady Castlemaine once to see who it was; but when she saw Moll Davies, she looked like fire; which troubled me."[235]

Modes of thinking. Mr. Pepys is of opinion that the "Tempest," which he saw at this house, is an "innocent" play; "no great wit, but yet good above ordinary plays." This appears to have been his general opinion of Shakspeare. That year he says,

"After dinner to the Duke of York's playhouse, and there saw 'Sir Martin Mar-all,' which I have seen so often, and yet am mightily pleased with it, and think it mighty witty, and the fullest of proper matter for mirth that was ever writ; and I do clearly see that they do improve in their acting of it. Here a mighty company of citizens, 'prentices, and others; and it makes me observe, that 243 when I began first to be able to bestow a play on myself, I do not remember that I saw so many by half of the ordinary 'prentices and mean people in the pit, at 2s. 6d. a piece, as now; I going for several years no higher than the 12d. and then the 18d. places, though I strained hard to go in them when I did: so much the vanity and prodigality of the age is to be observed in this particular."[236]

What he calls the vanity of the age, was one of the best signs of its advancement. Plays, at the time above mentioned, began as early as they did before the civil wars; and when they were over, people rode out in their coaches to take the air. Our author, when the King visited the theatre, speaks of being there by one o'clock to get a seat. Kynaston, a favourite actor at this house, used to be taken out airing by the ladies, in the dress which he wore as a female. Cibber mentions this particular among others in an entertaining account of Kynaston, whom the ladies do not appear to have spoiled:—

"Though women," he says, "were not admitted to the stage till the return of King Charles, yet it could not be so suddenly supplied with them, but that there was still a necessity, for some time, to put the handsomest young men into petticoats, which Kynaston was then said to have worn with success; particularly in the part of Evadne, in the 'Maid's Tragedy,' which I have heard him speak of; and which calls to my mind a ridiculous distress that arose from these sort of shifts, which the stage was then put to. The King, coming a little before his usual time to a tragedy, found the actors not ready to begin, when his Majesty, not choosing to have as much patience as his good subjects, sent to them to know the meaning of it; upon which the master of the company came to the box, and rightly judging that the best excuse for their default would be the true one, fairly told his Majesty that the queen was not shaved yet: the King, whose good humour loved to laugh at a jest as well as to make one, accepted the excuse, which served to divert him till the male queen could be effeminated. In a word, Kynaston, at that time, was so beautiful a youth, that the ladies of quality prided themselves in taking him with them in their coaches to Hyde Park in his theatrical habit, after the play; which in those days they might have sufficient time to do, because plays then were used to begin at four o'clock: the hour that people of the same rank are now going to dinner. Of this truth I had the curiosity to inquire, and had it confirmed from his own mouth, in his advanced age: and, indeed, to the last of him, his handsomeness was very little abated; even at past sixty his teeth were sound, white and even, as one would wish to see in a reigning toast of twenty. He had something of a formal gravity in his mien, which was attributed to the stately step he had been so early confined to, in a female decency. But even that, in characters of superiority, had its proper graces; it misbecame him not in the part of Leon, in 244 Fletcher's 'Rule a Wife,' &c., which he executed with a determined manliness, and honest authority, well worth the best actor's imitation. He had a piercing eye, and, in characters of heroic life, a quick imperious vivacity in his tone of voice, that painted the tyrant truly terrible. There were two plays of Dryden in which he shone with uncommon lustre; in 'Aurengzebe' he played Morat, and in 'Don Sebastian,' Muley Moloch; in both these parts he had a fierce, lion-like majesty in his port and utterance, that gave the spectator a kind of trembling admiration."[237]

Pepys does not speak much of Betterton, the chief performer at the Portugal-street playhouse. The reason must be, either that Betterton played chiefly in tragedy, or that his comic talent (which is probable) was not equal to his tragic. He was the great actor of his time, as Garrick was of the last century, and Mr. Kean lately. His most admired character appears to have been that of Hamlet; though Steele, in a paper to his memory in the 'Tatler,' seems to have been most impressed by his performance of Othello. If an actor's Othello is really fine, perhaps it must be his best part, as in Mr. Kean's instance, owing to the nature of the character. Hamlet speaks to the reflecting part of us; Othello to the sensitive. We will not present the reader with extracts from Cibber which contain little respecting this actor that might not be said of others; only it may be observed, that in the better parts of the performances of the old players we have something perhaps handed down to us of the manner of these ancient ornaments of the stage. The liveliest idea remaining of the genius of Betterton is furnished by an anecdote of Booth, who, when he first performed the Ghost to Betterton's Hamlet, is said to have been so astonished at the other's look of surprise, that for some moments he was unable to speak. Betterton died old and poor, rather, it should seem, from misfortune than imprudence. The actors in those times, though much admired, were not rewarded as they have been since; nor received anything like the modern salaries. His death is said to have been hastened by tampering with the gout, in order to perform on his benefit night. His person was rather manly than graceful. He was a good-natured man; and, like Molière, would perform when he was ill, rather than hinder the profits of his brother actors.[238] At Caen Wood, Hampstead, the seat of Lord Mansfield, there is a portrait of him by Pope, who was an amateur in painting. They became acquainted when the latter was young, and the 245 actor old; and took such a liking to one another, that Pope is supposed to have had a hand in a volume of pieces from 'Chaucer,' purporting to have been modernised by Betterton.

Another celebrated actor in Portugal Street during the reign of Charles II. was Nokes, who appears, from Cibber's account of him to have been something between Liston and Munden. By a line in one of Dryden's Epistles, the town seem to have thought a comedy deficient in which he did not make his appearance. The poet says to Southern on his play of the 'Wives' Excuse'—

"The hearers may for want of Nokes repine,

But rest secure, the readers will be thine."

Nokes was one of those actors who create a roar the moment they are seen, and make people ache with laughter.

These were among the older performers in Portugal Street. When Congreve took a share in the theatre, some others had joined it, and become celebrated, two of whom, Mr. Mountford and Mrs. Bracegirdle, we have already described. Another two, whose names remain familiar with posterity, are Mrs. Mountford and Mrs. Barry. Mrs. Mountford was a capital stage coquette; besides being able to act male coxcombs and country dowdies. Mrs. Barry was a fine tragedian, both of the heroic and tender cast. Dryden pronounced her the best actress he had seen. It is said she was a mistress of Lord Rochester's when young; that it was to her his love-letters were addressed; and that she owed her celebrity to his instructions. She was not handsome, and her mouth was a little awry, but her countenance was very expressive. This is the actress, who, in the delirium of her last moments, is said to have alluded in an extempore blank verse to a manœuvre played by Queen Anne's ministry some time before:—

"Ha! ha! and so they make us lords by dozens!"

Cibber's sketch of Mrs. Mountford, in the character of Melantha is the masterpiece of his book, and presents a portrait sufficiently distinct to be extracted.

"Melantha," says our lively critic (himself a coxcomb of the first water), "is as finished an impertinent as ever fluttered in a drawing-room, and seems to contain the most complete system of female foppery that could possibly be crowded into the tortured form of a fine lady. Her language, dress, motion, manners, soul and body, are in a continual hurry to do something more than is necessary or commendable. And though I doubt it will be a vain labour to offer you 246 a just likeness of Mrs. Mountford's action, yet the fantastic impression is still so strong in my memory, that I cannot help saying something, though fantastically, about it. The first ridiculous airs that break from her are upon a gallant, never seen before, who delivers her a letter from her father, recommending him to her good graces, as an honourable lover. Here now, one would think, she might naturally show a little of the sex's decent reserve, though never so slightly covered. No, sir, not a tittle of it; modesty is the virtue of a poor-souled country gentlewoman; she is too much a court lady to be under so vulgar a confusion; she reads the letter, therefore, with a careless dropping lip, and an erected brow, humming it hastily over, as if she were impatient to outgo her father's commands, by making a complete conquest of him at once; and that the letter might not embarrass her attack, crack! she scrambles it at once into her palm, and pours upon him her whole artillery of airs, eyes, and motion; down goes her dainty diving body to the ground, as if she were sinking under the conscious load of her own attractions; then launches into a flood of fine language and compliment, still playing her chest forward in fifty falls and risings, like a swan upon waving water; and to complete her impertinence, she is so rapidly fond of her own wit, that she will not give her lover leave to praise it: silent assenting bows, and vain endeavours to speak, are all the share of the conversation he is admitted to, which, at last, he is relieved from, by her engagements to half-a-score visits, which she swims from him to make, with a promise to return in a twinkling."[239]

Three of Congreve's plays, 'Love for Love,' the 'Mourning Bride,' and the 'Way of the World,' came out at the theatre in Portugal Street. In the first paper of the 'Tatler,' Steele gives a criticism on the performance of 'Love for Love,' which contains one or two curious points of information respecting the customs of play-goers in the reign of Anne. The "article" begins like that of a modern newspaper.

"On Thursday last was acted, for the benefit of Mr. Betterton, the celebrated comedy called 'Love for Love.' Those excellent players, Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Bracegirdle, and Mr. Dogget, though not at present concerned in the house, acted on that occasion. There has not been known so great a concourse of persons of distinction as at that time: the stage itself was covered with gentlemen and ladies; and when the curtain was drawn, it discovered even there a very splendid audience. This unusual encouragement, which was given to a play for the advantage of so great an actor, gives an undeniable instance that the true relish for manly entertainments and rational pleasures is not wholly lost. All the parts were acted to perfection: the actors were careful of their carriage, and no one was guilty of the affectation to insert witticism of his own; but a due respect was had to the audience for encouraging this accomplished player. It is not now doubted but plays will revive, and take their usual course in the opinion of persons of wit and merit, notwithstanding their late apostacy in favour of dress and sound. The place is very much altered since Mr. Dryden 247 frequented it; where you used to see songs, epigrams, and satires, in the hands of every man you met, you have now only a pack of cards; and instead of the cavils about the turn of the expression, the elegance of the style, and the like, the learned now dispute only about the truth of the game."

The last proprietor of this theatre was Rich, the famous harlequin, who, having a poor company, unable to compete with Drury Lane, introduced that love of show and spectacle which has ever since been willing to forego the regular drama, however reproached by the critics. Pope has hitched him into the 'Dunciad,' (book iii.), as one of the ministers of Dulness.

"Immortal Rich! how calm he sits at ease,

'Midst snows of paper, and fierce hail of pease;

And proud his mistress' order to perform,

Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm."

He had the merit, however, of producing the 'Beggar's Opera,' which was acted scores of nights together all over England, and finally rendered its heroine a duchess, and is said to have made "Gay Rich, and Rich Gay." Rich had no education. He was in the habit, when conversing, of saying mister, instead of sir.

One of Rich's actors was Quin, of whom more by and by. Garrick was never at this theatre. It closed a little before his time, and was never reopened. The vulgar attributed its desertion to a supernumerary devil, who made his appearance in the pantomine of 'Harlequin and Dr. Faustus,' and took his exit through the roof instead of the door; which so frightened the manager that he had not the courage to open the theatre again. The only memorial now remaining in Portugal Street of theatres and play-goers, and all their lively generation, is a table set up in the burial-ground to the memory of the famous Joe Miller, author of so many posthumous good things. He was an actor in Congreve's time, and has the reputation of having been an honest, as well as a pleasant fellow. The jest-book, which passes for his publication, was collected by a companion of his, who is thought to have owed to him nothing but his name. It is but reasonable to conclude, however, that many of the jests were of the comedian's relating.

In Carey Street, when she was first married, lived Mrs. Chapone. She afterwards resided in Arundel Street. When we have no greater names to mention, we think it our duty to avail ourselves of those of any intelligent and amiable 248 persons who are really worth mention, though they may not be of the first order. They will be welcome to the inhabitants of the street, and perhaps serve to throw a grace over neighbourhoods that want it. It is better to think of Mrs. Chapone in going along Carey Street, than of bailiffs and lock-up houses—unless, indeed the latter should make us zealous to reform the debtor and creditor laws; and even then we might be glad of the refreshment. Mrs. Chapone was one of the disciples of Richardson, and is well known for her 'Letters on the Improvement of the Mind.' Ten months after her marriage she lost her husband, to whom she was greatly attached, and then she left Carey Street; so that the pleasantest part of her life was probably spent there.

Clare Market stands on a spot formerly called Clement's Inn Fields, the property of the Earls of Clare, one of whom built the market about the year 1657. He is said to have lived close by, in a style of magnificence. The names of the family, Denzel, Holles, &c., are retained in some of the neighbouring streets.

Clare Market became notorious in the time of Pope, for the extravagance of Orator Henley, a clever, but irregular-minded man, who overrated himself, and became, it may be said, mad with impudence. Some describe his Oratory as being in the Market, others in Duke Street, which is the street going out of the western side of Lincoln's Inn Square through the archway. Another writer says it was the old theatre of Sir William Davenant, in Gibbon's Tennis Court, of which we have just spoken, and which is said to have been in Vere Street. Most likely all these accounts are to be reconciled. A tenement is often described as existing in a certain street, when the street presents nothing but a passage to it; and we take Henley's Oratory to have been the old theatre, with a passage to it from the market, from Vere Street, and from Duke Street. Having settled this magnificent point, we proceed with the no less magnificent orator.

He was a native of Melton Mowbray, in the county of Leicester, the son of a clergyman, and after going to St. John's College, Cambridge, returned to his native place, and became master of the school there.

"Feeling, or fancying," says the author of the 'Lounger's Common-Place Book,' "that a genius like his ought not to be buried in so obscure a situation, having been long convinced that many gross errors and impostures prevailed in the various institutions and establishments of mankind; being also ambitious of restoring ancient 249 eloquence, but as his enemies asserted, to avoid the scandalous embarrassments of illicit love, he repaired to the metropolis, and for a short time performed clerical functions at St. John's Chapel, near Bedford Row, with the prospect of succeeding to the lectureship of an adjoining parish (Bloomsbury), which soon became vacant.

"Several candidates offering for this situation, a warm contest ensued; probation sermons were preached; and Henley's predominating vanity made him expect an easy victory.

"We may guess at his disappointment, when this disciple of Demosthenes and Cicero was informed that the congregation had no objection to his language or his doctrine, but that he threw himself about too much in the pulpit, and that another person was chosen.

"Losing his temper as well as his election, he rushed into a room where the principal parishioners were assembled, and thus addressed them, in all the vehemence of outrageous passion:—

"'Blockheads! are you qualified to judge of the degree of action necessary for a preacher of God's word? Were you able to read, or had you sufficient sense, you sorry knaves, to understand the renowned orator of antiquity, he would tell you, almost the only requisite of a public speaker was action, action, action.

"'But I despise and defy you; provoco ad populum; the public shall decide between us.' He then hastily retired, and, to vindicate his injured fame, published the probationary discourse he had delivered.

"Thus disappointed in the regular routine of his profession, he became a quack divine; for this character he was eminently qualified, possessing a strong voice, fluent language, an imposing magisterial air, and a countenance, which no violation of propriety, reproach, or self-correction, was ever known to embarrass or discompose.

"He immediately advertised that he should hold forth publicly, two days in the week, and hired for this purpose, a large room in or near Newport Market, which he called the Oratory; but previous to the commencement of his 'academical discourses,' he chose to consult Mr. Whiston, a learned clergyman of considerable mathematical and astronomical research, but who had rendered himself remarkable by eccentric simplicity of heart, and the whimsical heterodoxy of his creed.

"In a letter to this gentleman he desired to be informed, whether he should incur any legal penalties by officiating as a separatist from the Church of England. Mr. Whiston did not encourage Henley's project, and a correspondence took place, which, ending in virulence and ill-language, produced, a few years after, the following letter:—

"'To Mr. William Whiston,

'Take notice, that I give you warning not to enter my room in Newport Market, at your peril.

'John Henley.'"[240]

Henley succeeded in his speculation, by lecturing, in the most important manner, on all sorts of subjects, from the origin of evil down to a shoe. He also published a variety of pamphlets, and a periodical farrago called the 'Hyp Doctor,' for which he is said to have had pay from Sir 250 Robert Walpole; and as his popularity rapidly increased in consequence of his addressing himself to uneducated understandings, he removed from his Oratory in Newport Market to the more capacious room in Clare Market; for he seems to have had a natural propensity to the society of butchers, and they were fond of his trenchant style. He sometimes threatened his enemies with them. Pope, in answering the assertions of those who charged him with depriving people of their bread, asks whether Colley Cibber had not "still his lord," and Henley his butchers.

"And has not Colley still his lord——

His butchers Henley, his freemasons Moore."

Pope had been attacked by him. The poet speaks of him again, several times, in the 'Dunciad:'

"Imbrown'd with native bronze, lo! Henley stands,

Tuning his voice, and balancing his hands.

How fluent nonsense trickles from his tongue!

How sweet the periods, neither said nor sung!

Still break the benches, Henley! with thy strain,

While Sherlock, Hare, and Gibson preach in vain.

O great restorer of the good old stage,

Preacher at once and zany of the age!

O worthy thou of Egypt's wise abodes,

A decent priest where monkeys were the gods."

Book iii., v. 199.

Pope says he had a "gilt tub," and insinuates that he sometimes got drunk. Among the sleeping worthies in the 'Dunciad,'

"—— Henley lay inspired beside a sink,

And to mere mortals seemed a priest in drink."

A contemporary journalist, who says that the fame of Henley induced him to be present at one of the lectures in Newport Market, describes him as entering like a harlequin by a door behind the pulpit, and "at one large leap jumping into it, and falling to work." "His notions," he says, "the orator beat into the audience with hands, arms, legs, and head, as if people's understandings were to be courted and knocked down with blows." The price of admission was a shilling. The following are samples of Henley's extraordinary advertisements:—

"At the Oratory in Newport Market, to-morrow, at half-an-hour after ten, the sermon will be on the Witch of Endor. At half-an-hour after five, the theological lecture will be on the conversion and original of the Scottish nation, and of the Picts and Caledonians; St. Andrew's relics and panegyric, and the character and mission of the Apostles. 251

"On Wednesday, at six, or near the matter, take your chance, will be a medley oration on the history, merits, and praise of confusion, and of confounders, in the road and out of the way.

"On Friday, will be that on Dr. Faustus and Fortunatus, and conjuration; after each, the Chimes of the Times, No. 23 and 24. N.B. Whenever the prices of the seats are occasionally raised in the week days, notice will be given of it in the prints. An account of the performances of the Oratory from the 1st of August is published, with the Discourse on Nonsense; and if any bishop, clergyman, or other subject of his Majesty, or the subject of any foreign prince or state, can at my years, and in my circumstances and opportunities, without the least assistance or any patron in the world, parallel the study, choice, variety, and discharge of the said performances of the Oratory by his own or any others, I will engage forthwith to quit the said Oratory.

"J. Henley."[241]

In the bill of fare issued for Sunday, September 28, 1729, the most extraordinary theological speculations are followed by a list of the fashions in dress.

"At the Oratory, the corner of Lincoln's Inn Fields, near Clare Market, to-morrow, at half-an-hour after ten: 1. The postil will be on the turning of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt. 2. The sermon will be on the necessary power and attractive force which religion gives the spirit of a man with God and good spirits.

"II. At five: 1. The postil will be on this point: in what language our Saviour will speak the last sentence on mankind. 2. The lecture will be on Jesus Christ's sitting at the right hand of God; where that is; the honours and lustre of his inauguration; the learning, criticism, and piety of that glorious article.

"The Monday's orations will shortly be resumed. On Wednesday, the oration will be on the skits of the fashions, or a live gallery of family pictures in all ages; ruffs, muffs, puffs manifold; shoes, wedding-shoes, two-shoes, slip-shoes, heels, clocks, pantofles, buskins, pantaloons, garters, shoulder-knots, periwigs, head-dresses, modesties, tuckers, farthingales, corkins, minikins, slammakins, ruffles, round robins, tollets, fans, patches; dame, forsooth, madam, my lady, the wit and beauty of my grannum; Winnifred, Joan, Bridget, compared with our Winny, Jenny, and Biddy; fine ladies, and pretty gentlewomen; being a general view of the beau monde, from before Noah's flood to the year 29. On Friday will be something better than last Tuesday. After each, a bob at the times."[242]

Henley must have lectured a long while; for one of his "bobs at the times" was occasioned by the dismissal of Dr. Cobden, a chaplain to George II. in the year 1748, for preaching from the following text: "Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness." The wicked, we believe, meant the king's 252 mistresses. Next Saturday, Henley's advertisement appeared with an epigram on this text for a motto:—

"Away with the wicked before the king,

And away with the wicked behind him;

His throne it will bless

With righteousness,

And we shall know where to find him."

This must be what the reviewers call a "favourable specimen."

"Sometimes," says the 'Lounger's Common-Place Book,' "one of his old Bloomsbury friends caught the speaker's eye; on these occasions, he could not resist the temptation to gratify his vanity and resentment; after a short pause he would address the unfortunate interloper in words to the following effect: 'You see, sir, all mankind are not exactly of your opinion; there are, you perceive, a few sensible people in the world, who consider me as not wholly unqualified for the office I have undertaken.'

"His abashed and confounded adversaries, thus attacked in a public company, a most awkward species of distress, were glad to retire precipitately, and sometimes were pushed out of the room by Henley's partizans."[243]

It is probable that Henley's partizans were sometimes necessary to secure him from the results of his imprudence, though his boldness appears to have been on a par with it. He once attracted an audience of shoemakers by announcing that he could teach them a method of making shoes with wonderful celerity. The secret consisted in cutting off the tops of old boots. His motto to the advertisement (omne majus continet in se minus, the greater includes the less) had a pleasantry in it, which makes the disappointment of the poor shoemakers doubly ludicrous.

Henley, on one occasion, was for several days in the custody of the King's messenger, having incurred the displeasure of the House of Lords. "Lord Chesterfield, at that time secretary of state," says the 'Lounger,' "amused himself and his associates in office by sporting with the hopes and fears of our restorer of ancient eloquence; during his examination before the privy council, he requested permission to sit, on account of a real, or, as it was supposed, pretended rheumatism. Occasioning considerable merriment by his eccentric answers, and sometimes by the oddity of his questions, he was observed to join heartily and loudly in the laugh he had himself created.


"The Earl having expostulated with him on the impropriety of ridiculing the exertions of his native country, at the moment rebellion raged in the heart of the kingdom, Henley replied, 'I thought there was no harm, my Lord, in cracking a joke on a red-herring:' alluding to the worthy primate of that name, who proposed, and, I believe, had actually commenced, arming and arraying the clergy.

"Many disrespectful and unwarrantable expressions he had applied to persons high in office, being mentioned to him, he answered, without embarrassment, 'My Lords, I must live.'

"'I see no kind of reason for that,' said Lord Chesterfield, 'but many against it.' The council were pleased, and laughed at the retort; the prisoner, somewhat irritated, observed, 'That is a good thing, but it has been said before.'

"A few days after, being reprimanded for his improper conduct, and cautioned against repeating it, he was dismissed, as an impudent, but entertaining fellow."[244]

To complete the history of this man, he struck medals for his tickets, with a star rising to the meridian; over it the motto, Ad summa (to the height), and below, Inveniam viam aut faciam (I will find a way or make one). As might be expected, he found no way at last, but that of falling into contempt. He appears to have been too imprudent to make money by his vagaries; and his manners, probably in consequence, became gross and ferocious. He died in 1756. His person makes a principal figure in two humorous plates, attributed to Hogarth.

Duke Street and Little Wild Street have had an inhabitant, as illustrious afterwards as he was then obscure, in the person of Benjamin Franklin, who, when he was first in England, worked in the printing office of Mr. Watts, in the latter street, and lodged in the former. When he came to England afterwards, as the agent of Massachusetts, he went into this office, "and going up," says his biography, "to a particular press [now in America], thus addressed the two workmen: 'Come, my friends, we will drink together: it is now forty years since I worked like you at this press, as a journeyman printer.'" The same publication gives an account of him during this period, which, besides containing more than one curious local particular, is highly worth the attention of those who confound stimulus with vigour.

"After the completion," says the writer, "of twelve months at Palmer's" (in Bartholomew Close), "Franklin removed to the printing-office of Mr. Watts, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he continued during the whole of his subsequent stay in the British metropolis. He found a contiguous lodging with a widow lady in 254 Duke Street, opposite the Catholic chapel, for which he paid at his old rate of three and sixpence weekly, and received no new impressions in favour of Christians from his occasional notices of the Romish superstitions in this family and neighbourhood. His landlady was a clergyman's daughter, who, marrying a Catholic, had abjured Protestantism, and became acquainted with several distinguished families of that persuasion. She and Franklin found mutual pleasure in each other's society. He kept good hours, and she was too lame generally to leave her room; frugality was the habit of both; half an anchovy, a small slice of bread and butter each, with half a pint of ale between them, furnished commonly their supper. So well pleased was the widow with her inmate, that when Franklin talked of removing to another house, where he could obtain the same accommodation as with her for two shillings per week, she became generous in his favour, and abated her charge for his room to that sum. He never paid her more during the rest of his stay with her, which was the whole time he continued in London. In the attic, was a maiden Catholic lady, by choice and habit a nun. She had been sent early in life to the Continent to take the veil; but the climate disagreeing with her health, she returned home; devoted her small estate to charitable purposes, with the exception of about 12l. a-year; practised confession daily; and lived entirely on water gruel. Her presence was thought a blessing to the house, and several of its tenants in succession had charged her no rent. Her room contained a mattress, table, crucifix, and stool, as its only furniture. She admitted the occasional visits of Franklin and her landlady; was cheerful, he says, and healthful: and while her superstition moved his compassion, he felt confirmed in his frugality by her example, and exhibits it in his journal as another proof of the possibility of supporting life, health, and cheerfulness on very small means.

"During the first weeks of his engagement with Mr. Watts, he worked as a pressman, drinking only water, while his companions had their five pints of porter each, per day; and his strength was superior to theirs. He ridiculed the verbal logic of strong beer being necessary for strong work; contending that the strength yielded by malt liquor could only be in proportion to the quantity of flour or actual grain dissolved in the liquor, and that a pennyworth of bread must have more of this than a pot of porter. The Water-American, as he was called, had some converts to his system; his example, in this case, being clearly better than his philosophy.[245] 255

"Franklin was born to be a revolutionist, in many good senses of the word. He now proposed and carried several alterations in the so-called chapel-laws of the printing office; resisted what he thought the impositions, while he conciliated the respect of his fellow-workmen; and always had cash and credit in the neighbourhood at command, to which the sottish part of his brethren were occasionally, and sometimes largely indebted. He thus depicts this part of his prosperous life:—'On my entrance, I worked at first as a pressman, conceiving that I had need of bodily exercise, to which I had been accustomed in America, where the printers work alternately, as compositors and at the press. I drank nothing but water. The other workmen, to the number of about fifty, were great drinkers of beer. I carried occasionally a large form of letters in each hand, up and down stairs, while the rest employed both hands to carry one. They were surprised to see by this and many other examples, that the American aquatic, as they used to call me, was stronger than those that drank porter. The beer-boy had sufficient employment during the whole day in serving that house alone. My fellow-pressman drank every day a pint of beer before breakfast, a pint with bread and cheese for breakfast, one between breakfast and dinner, one at dinner, one again about six o'clock in the afternoon, and another after he had finished his day's work. This custom appeared to me abominable; but he had need, he said, of all this beer, in order to acquire strength to work.

"'I endeavoured to convince him, that the bodily strength furnished by the beer could only be in proportion to the solid part of the barley dissolved in the water of which the beer was composed; that there was a larger portion of flour in a penny-loaf, and that, consequently, if he ate this loaf, and drank a pint of water, he would derive more strength from it than from a pint of beer. This reasoning, however, did not prevent him from drinking his accustomed quantity of beer, and paying every Saturday night a score of four or five shillings a-week for this cursed beverage; an expense from which I was wholly exempt. Thus do these poor devils continue all their lives in a state of voluntary wretchedness and poverty.

"'My example prevailed with several of them to renounce their abominable practice of bread and cheese with beer; and they procured, like me, from a neighbouring house, a good basin of warm gruel, in which was a small slice of butter, with toasted bread and nutmeg. This was a much better breakfast, which did not cost more than a pint of beer, namely, three halfpence, and at the same time 256 preserved the head clearer. Those who continued to gorge themselves with beer, often lost their credit with the publican, from neglecting to pay their score. They had then recourse to me to become security for them, their light, as they used to call it, being out. I attended at the table every Saturday evening to take up the little sums which I had made myself answerable for, and which sometimes amounted to near thirty shillings a-week.

"'This circumstance, added to the reputation of my being a tolerable good gabber, or, in other words, skilful in the art of burlesque, kept up my importance in the chapel. I had, besides, recommended myself to the esteem of my master by my assiduous application to business, never observing Saint Monday. My extraordinary quickness in composing always procured me such work as was most urgent, and which is commonly best paid; and thus my time passed away in a very pleasant manner.'"[246]




Craven House—Donne and his vision—Lord Craven and the Queen of Bohemia—Nell Gwynn—Drury Lane Theatre—Its antiquity, different eras, and rebuildings—The principal theatre of Dryden, Wycherley, Farquhar, Steele, Garrick, and Sheridan—Old Drury in the time of Charles II.—A visit to it—Pepys and his theatrical gossip, with notes—Hart and Mohun—Goodman—Nell Gwynn—Dramatic taste of that age—Booth—Artificial tragedy—Wilks and Cibber—Bullock and Penkethman—A Colonel enamoured of Cibber's wig—Mrs. Oldfield—Her singular position in society—Not the Flavia of the Tatler—Pope's account of her last words probably not true—Declamatory acting—Lively account of Garrick and Quin by Mr. Cumberland—Improvement of stage costume—King—Mrs. Pritchard—Mrs. Clive—Mrs. Woffington—Covent Garden—Barry—Contradictory characters of him by Davies and Churchill—Macklin—Woodward—Pantomime—English taste in music—Cooke—Rise of actors and actresses in social rank—Improvement of the audience—Dr. Johnston at the theatre—Churchill a great pit critic—His Rosciad—His picture of Mossop—Mrs. Jordan and Mr. Suett—Early recollections of a play-goer.


Drury Lane takes its name from "the habitation of the great family of the Druries," built, "I believe," says Pennant, "by Sir William Drury, knight of the garter, a most able commander in the Irish wars, who unfortunately fell in a duel with Sir John Burroughs, in a foolish quarrel about precedency. Sir Robert, his son, was a great patron of Dr. Donne, and assigned to him apartments in his house. I cannot, learn into whose hands it passed afterwards. During the time of the fatal discontents of the favourite, Essex, it was the place where his imprudent advisers resolved on such counsels as terminated in the destruction of him and his adherents."[247]

Drury House stood at the corner of Drury Lane and Wych Street, upon the ground now included in Craven Buildings in the one thoroughfare, and the Olympic Pavilion in the other.

Pennant proceeds to say, that it was occupied in the next century by "the heroic William Lord Craven, afterwards 258 Earl Craven," who rebuilt it in the form standing in his time. He describes it as "a large brick pile,"—a public-house with the sign of the Queen of Bohemia,—a head which still mystifies people in some parts of the country. The remains were taken down in 1809, and the Olympic Pavilion built on part of the site. But the public-house was only a portion of it.


Who would suppose, in going by the place now, that it was once the habitation of wit and elegance, of a lord and a queen, and of more than one "romance of real life?" Yet the passenger acquainted with the facts can never fail to be impressed by them, especially by the romantic history of Donne. This master of profound fancies (whom Dryden pronounced "the greatest wit, though not the best poet," of our nation) had in his youth led a gay imprudent life, which left him poor. He became secretary to Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, and fell in love with his lordship's niece, then residing in the house, daughter to a Sir George Moor or More, who, though Donne was of an ancient family, was very angry, and took the young lady away into the country. The step, however, was too late; for, the passion being mutual, a private marriage had taken place. The upshot was, that Sir George would have nothing to say to the young couple, and that they fell into great distress. After a time, Sir Robert Drury, a man of large fortune, who possessed the mansion above described, invited Donne and his wife to live with him, and this too in a spirit that enabled all parties to be the better for 259 it. But for this, and the curious story connected with it, we shall have recourse to the pages of our angling friend Walton, who was a good fellow enough when he was not "handling a worm as if he loved him."

"Sir Robert Drury," says Walton, "a gentleman of a very noble estate, and a more liberal mind, assigned him and his wife an useful apartment in his own large house in Drury Lane, and not only rent free, but was also a cherisher of his studies, and such a friend as sympathised with him and his, in all their joy and sorrows.

"At this time of Mr. Donne's and his wife's living in Sir Robert's house, the Lord Hay was, by King James, sent upon a glorious embassy to the then French King, Henry IV., and Sir Robert put on a sudden resolution to accompany him to the French Court, and to be present at his audience there. And Sir Robert put on a sudden resolution to solicit Mr. Donne to be his companion in that journey. And this desire was suddenly made known to his wife, who was then with child, and otherwise under so dangerous a habit of body as to her health, that she professed an unwillingness to allow him any absence from her; saying, 'her divining soul boded her some ill in his absence,' and, therefore, desired him not to leave her. This made Mr. Donne lay aside all thoughts of his journey, and really to resolve against it. But Sir Robert became restless in his persuasions for it, and Mr. Donne was so generous as to think he had sold his liberty when he received so many charitable kindnesses from him, and told his wife so; who did, therefore, with an unwilling-willingness, give a faint consent to the journey, which was proposed to be but for two months; for about that time they determined their return. Within a few days after this resolve, the ambassador, Sir Robert, and Mr. Donne, left London; and were the twelfth day got all safe to Paris. Two days after their arrival there, Mr. Donne was left alone in that room, in which Sir Robert, and he, and some other friends had dined together. To this place Sir Robert returned within half an hour; and as he left, so he found Mr. Donne alone; but in such an ecstacy and so altered in his looks, as amazed Sir Robert to behold him; insomuch that he earnestly desired Mr. Donne to declare what had befallen him in the short time of his absence. To which Mr. Donne was not able to make a present answer; but, after a long and perplexed pause, did at last say, 'I have seen a dreadful vision since I saw you: I have seen my dear wife pass twice by me in this room, with her hair hanging about her shoulders, and a dead child in her arms: this I have seen since I saw you.' To which Sir Robert replied, 'Sure, sir, you have slept since I saw you; and this is the result of some melancholy dream, which I desire you to forget, for you are now awake.' To which Mr. Donne's reply was, 'I cannot be surer that I now live, than that I have not slept since I saw you; and am as sure, that at her second appearing she stopped and looked me in the face, and vanished.' Rest and sleep had not altered Mr. Donne's opinion the next day; for he then affirmed this vision with a more deliberate, and so confirmed a confidence, that he inclined Sir Robert to a faint belief that the vision was true. It is truly said, that desire and doubt have no rest; and it proved so with Sir Robert; for he immediately sent a servant to Drewry House, with a charge to 260 hasten back, and bring him word, whether Mrs. Donne were alive; and, if alive, in what condition she was in as to her health. The twelfth day the messenger returned with this account:—That he found and left Mrs. Donne very sad, and sick in her bed; and that, after a long and dangerous labour, she had been delivered of a dead child. And, upon examination, the abortion proved to be the same day, and about the very hour, that Mr. Donne affirmed he saw her pass by him in his chamber.

"This is a relation," continues Walton, "that will beget some wonder, and it well may; for most of our world are at present possessed with an opinion, that visions and miracles are ceased. And, though it is most certain, that two lutes being both strung and tuned to an equal pitch, and then one played upon, the other that is not touched, being laid upon a table at a fit distance will—like an echo to a trumpet—warble a faint audible harmony in answer to the same tune; yet many will not believe that there is any such thing as the sympathy of souls; and I am well pleased that every reader do enjoy his own opinion. But if the unbelieving will not allow the believing reader of this story a liberty to believe that it may be true, then I wish him to consider, that many wise men have believed that the ghost of Julius Cæsar did appear to Brutus, and that both St. Austin, and Monica his mother, had visions in order to his conversion. And though these, and many others—too many to name—have but the authority of human story, yet the incredible reader may find in the sacred story, that Samuel, &c."[248]

We may here break off with the observation of Mr. Chalmers, that "the whole may be safely left to the judgment of the reader."[249] Walton says he had not this story from Donne himself, but from a "Person of Honour," who "knew more of the secrets of his heart than any person then living," and who related it "with such circumstance and asseveration," that not to say anything of his hearer's belief, Walton did "verily believe," that the gentleman "himself believed it."

The biographer then presents us with some verses which "were given by Mr. Donne to his wife at the time he then parted from her," and which he "begs leave to tell us" that he has heard some critics, learned both in languages and poetry, say, that "none of the Greek or Latin poets did ever equal."

These lines are full of the wit that Dryden speaks of, horribly misused to obscure the most beautiful feelings. Some of them are among the passages quoted in Dr. Johnson to illustrate the faults of the metaphysical school. Mr. Chalmers and others have thought it probable, that it was upon 261 this occasion Donne wrote a set of verses, which he addressed to his wife, on her proposing to accompany him abroad as a page; but as the writer speaks of going to Italy, which appears to have been out of the question in this two months' visit to Paris, they most probably belong to some other journey or intended journey, the period of which is unknown. The numbers of these verses are sometimes rugged, but they are full of as much nature and real feeling, as sincerity ever put into a true passion. There is an awfulness in the commencing adjuration:—

"By our first strange and fatal interview,

By all desires which thereof did ensue;

By our long striving hopes; by that remorse

Which my words' masculine persuasive force

Begot in thee, and by the memory

Of hurts which spies and rivals threaten me,

I calmly beg: but by thy father's wrath,

By all pains which want and divorcement hath,

I conjure thee, and all the oaths which I

And thou have sworn to seal joint constancy,

I here unswear, and overswear them thus:

Thou shalt not love by means so dangerous.

Temper, O fair Love! love's impetuous rage;

Be my true mistress, not my feigned page.

I'll go; and by thy kind leave, leave behind

Thee, only worthy to nurse in my mind

Thirst to come back. O! if thou die before,

My soul from other lands to thee shall soar:

Thy (else almighty) beauty cannot move

Rage from the seas, nor thy love teach them love,

Nor tame wild Boreas' harshness: thou hast read

How roughly he in pieces shiverèd

Fair Orithea, whom he swore he loved.

Fall ill or good, 'tis madness to have proved

Dangers unurged: feed on this flattery,

That absent lovers one in the other be;

Dissemble nothing, not a boy, nor change

Thy body's habit, nor mind; be not strange

To thyself only: all will spy in thy face

A blushing womanly discovering grace.

When I am gone dream me some happiness,

Nor let thy looks our long-hid love confess;

Nor praise nor dispraise me, nor bless nor curse

Openly love's force; nor in bed fright thy nurse

With midnight's startings, crying out, Oh! oh!

Nurse! oh, my love is slain! I saw him go

O'er the white Alps alone; I saw him, I,

Assailed, taken, fight, stabbed, bleed, fall, and die.

Augur me better chance; except dread Jove

Think it enough for me to have had thy love."


Drury House, when rebuilt by Lord Craven, took the name of Craven House. To this abode, at the restoration of Charles II., his lordship brought his royal mistress, the Queen of Bohemia, to whose interest he had devoted his fortunes, and to whom he is supposed to have been secretly wedded. She was daughter to James I., and, with the reluctant consent of her parents (particularly of her mother, who used to twit her with the title of Goody Palsgrave), was married to Frederick, the Elector Palatine, for whom the Protestant interest in Germany erected Bohemia into a kingdom, in the vain hope, with the assistance of his father-in-law, of competing with the Catholic Emperor. Frederic lost everything, and his widow became a dependent on the bounty of this Lord Craven, a nobleman of wealthy commercial stock, who had fought in her husband's cause, and helped to bring up her children. It is through her that the family of Brunswick succeeded to the throne of this kingdom, as the next Protestant heirs of James I. James's daughter, being a woman of lively manners, a queen, and a Protestant leader, excited great interest in her time, and received more than the usual portion of flattery from the romantic. Donne wrote an epithalamium on her marriage, in which are those preposterous lines beginning—

"Here lies a she sun, and a he moon there."

Sir Henry Wotton had permission to call her his "royal mistress," which he was as proud of as if he had been a knight of old. And when she lost her Bohemian kingdom, it was said that she retained a better one, for that she was still the "Queen of Hearts." Sir Henry wrote upon her his elegant verses beginning—

"You meaner beauties of the night,"

in which he gives a new turn to the commonplaces of stars and roses, and calls her

"Th'eclipse and glory of her kind."

It is doubtful, nevertheless, whether she was ever handsome. None of the Stuarts appear to have been so, with the exception of Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans, who resembled, perhaps, her mother. Pepys, who saw the Queen of Bohemia at the Restoration, "thought her a very debonaire, but plain lady." This, it is true, was near her death; but Pepys was given to admire, and royalty did not diminish the inclination. Had her charms ever been as great as reported, 263 he would have discovered the remains of them. It has been beautifully said by Drayton, that

"Even in the aged'st face, where beauty once did dwell,

And nature, in the least, but seemèd to excel,

Time cannot make such waste, but something will appear

To show some little tract of delicacy there."

Pepys saw the queen afterwards two or three times at the play, and does not record any alteration of his opinion. Her Majesty did not survive the Restoration many months. She quitted Craven House for Leicester House (afterwards Norfolk House, in the Strand,) seemingly for no other purpose than to die there; which she did in February 1661-2. Whether Lord Craven attended her at this period does not appear; but she left him her books, pictures, and papers. Sometimes he accompanied her to the play. She and her husband, King Frederick, appear to have been lively, good-humoured persons, a little vain of the royalty which proved such a misfortune to them. The queen had the better sense, though it seems to have been almost as much over-rated as her beauty. But all the Stuarts were more or less clever, with the exception of James II.

The author of a History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven in Yorkshire, gives it as a tradition, that Lord Craven's father, a lord-mayor, was born of such poor parents that they sent him when a boy by a common carrier to London, where he became a mercer or draper. His son was a distinguished officer under Gustavus Adolphus, was ennobled, attached himself to the King and Queen of Bohemia, and is supposed, as we have seen, to have married the king's widow. He was her junior by twelve years. He long resided in Craven House, became Colonel of the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, and was famed for his bustling activity. He so constantly made his appearance at a fire, that his horse is said to have "smelt one as soon as it happened." Pepys, during a riot against houses of ill-fame (probably the houses in Whetstone Park, as well as in Moorfields, for he talks of going to Lincoln's Inn Fields to see the 'prentices,) describes his lordship as riding up and down the fields, "like a madman," giving orders to the soldiery. It was probably in allusion to this military vivacity that Lord Dorset says, in his ballad on a mistress,—

"The people's hearts leap, wherever she comes,

And beat day and night, like my Lord Craven's drums."


When there was a talk in his old age of giving his regiment to somebody else, Craven said, that "if they took away his regiment they had as good take away his life, since he had nothing else to divert himself with." The next king, however, William III., gave it to General Talmash; yet the old lord is said to have gone on, busy to the last. He died in 1697, aged nearly 89 years. He was intimate with Evelyn, Ray, and other naturalists, and delighted in gardening. The garden of Craven House ran in the direction of the present Drury Lane; so that where there is now a bustle of a very different sort, we may fancy the old soldier busying himself with his flower-beds, and Mr. Evelyn discoursing upon the blessings of peace and privacy.[250]

The only other personage of celebrity whom we know of as living in Drury Lane, is one of another sort; to wit, Nell Gwynn. The ubiquitous Pepys speaks of his seeing her there on a May-morning.

"May 1st, 1667. To Westminster, in the way meeting many milk-maids with garlands upon their pails, dancing with a fiddler before them; and saw pretty Nelly standing at her lodging's door in Drury Lane in her smock sleeves and boddice, looking upon one. She seemed a mighty pretty creature."

Lodgings in this quarter, though Nell lived there, must have been of more decent reputation than they became afterwards. It is curious that the old English word Drury, or Druerie, should be applicable to the fame we allude to. It has more or less deserved it for a long period, though we believe the purlieus rather warrant it now, than the lane itself. Pope and Gay speak of it. Pope describes the lane also as a place of residence for poor authors:—

"'Keep your piece nine years.'

'Nine years!' cries he, who high in Drury Lane,

Lull'd by soft zephyrs through the broken pane,

Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before term ends,

Obliged by hunger and request of friends."

The existence of a theatre in Drury Lane is as old as the time of Shakspeare. It was then called the Phœnix; was "a private," or more select house, like that of Blackfriars; and had been a cock-pit, by which name it was also designated. 265 Phœnix generally implies that a place has been destroyed by fire, a common fate with theatres; but the first occasion on which we hear of the present one is the destruction of it by a Puritan mob. This took place in the year 1617, in the time of James; and was doubtless caused by the same motives that led to the demolition of certain other houses, which it was thought to resemble in fame. In Howe's Continuation of Stowe, it was called a "new play-house;" so that it had lately been either built or rebuilt. This theatre stood opposite the Castle tavern. There is still in existence a passage, called Cockpit Alley, into Great Wild Street; and there is a Phœnix Alley, leading from Long Acre into Hart Street.

The Phœnix was soon rebuilt: and the performances continued till 1648, when they were again stopped by the Puritans who then swayed England, and who put an end to playhouses for some time. In the interval, some of the most admired of our old dramas were produced there, such as Marlowe's Jew of Malta; Heywood's Woman killed with Kindness; The Witch of Edmonton, by Rowley, Decker, and Ford; Webster's White Devil, or Vittoria Colombona, Massinger's New Way to Pay Old Debts, and indeed many others.[251] It does not appear that Shakspeare or his immediate friends had any pieces performed there. He was a performer in other theatres; and the pressure of court, as well as city, lay almost exclusively in their direction, till the growth of the western part of the metropolis divided it. The Phœnix known in his time was probably nearly as select a house as the Blackfriars. The company had the title of Queen's Servants (James's Queen), and the servants of the Lady Elizabeth (Queen of Bohemia).

A few years before the Restoration, Davenant, supported by some of the less scrupulous authorities, ventured to smuggle back something like the old entertainments, under the pretence of accompanying them with music; a trick understood in our times where a license is to be encroached upon. In 1656, he removed with them from Aldersgate Street to this house; and, after the fluctuation of different companies hither and thither, the Cockpit finally resumed its rank as a royal theatre, under the direction of the famous Killigrew, whose set of players were called the King's company, as those under Sir William Davenant had the title of the Duke's. 266 Killigrew, dissatisfied with the old theatre at the Cockpit, built a new one nearly on the site of the present, and opened it in 1663. This may be called the parent of Drury Lane theatre as it now stands. It was burnt in 1671-2, rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, and opened in 1674, with a prologue, from the pen of Dryden, from which time it stood till the year 1741. There had been some alterations in the structure of this theatre, which are said to have hurt the effect contemplated by Sir Christopher Wren, and perhaps assisted its destruction; for seventy years is no great age for a public building. Yet old Drury, as it was called, was said to have died of a "gradual decline." It was rebuilt, and became Old Drury the second; underwent the usual fate of theatres in the year 1809; and was succeeded by the one now standing.


It is customary to divide the eras of theatres according to their management; but, as managers become of little consequence to posterity, we shall confine ourselves in this as in other respects to names, with which posterity is familiar. In Shakspeare's time, Drury Lane appears to have been celebrated for the best productions of the second-rate order of dramatists, a set of men who would have been first in any other age. We have little to say of the particulars of Drury 267 Lane at this period, no memorandums having come down to us as they did afterwards. All we can imagine is, that, the Phœnix being much out of the way, with fields and country roads in the interval between court and city, and the performances taking place in the day time, the company probably consisted of the richer orders, the poorer being occupied in their labours. The court and the rich citizens went on horseback; the Duke of Buckingham in his newly-invented sedan. In the time of the Puritans we may fancy the visitors stealing in, as they would into a gambling-house.

The era of the Restoration, or second era of the Stuarts, is that of the popularity of Ben Jonson's and Beaumont and Fletcher's plays, compared with Shakspeare's, though Davenant tried hard to revive him; of the plays of Dryden, Lee, and Otway; and finally of the rise of comedy, strictly so called, in those of Wycherly, Congreve, Farquhar, and Vanbrugh. All these writers had to do with Drury Lane Theatre, some of them almost exclusively. Nineteen out of Dryden's twenty-seven plays were produced there; seven out of Lee's eleven; all the good ones of Wycherly (that is to say, all except the 'Gentleman Dancing-Master'); two of Congreve's (the 'Old Bachelor' and 'Double Dealer'), and all Farquhar's, except the 'Beaux' Stratagem.' Otway's best pieces came out at the Duke's Theatre; and Vanbrugh's in the Haymarket.[252] This may be called the second era of Drury Lane, or rather the second and third; the former, which is Dryden's and Lee's, having for its principal performers Hart, Mohun, Lacy, Goodman, Nell Gwynn, and others; the latter, which was that of Congreve and Farquhar, presenting us with Cibber, Wilks, Booth, Mrs. Barry, and Mrs. Bracegirdle. The two, taken together, began with the Restoration and ended with George II.

Sir Richard Steele and the sentimental comedy came in at the close of the third era, and may be said to constitute the fourth; which, in his person, did not last long. Steele, admirable as an essayist, and occasionally as humorous as any dramatist in a scene or two, was hampered in his plays by the new moral ambition now coming up, which induced him to show, not so much what people are, as his notions of what they ought to be. This has never been held a legitimate business of the stage, which, in fact, is nothing else than what its favourite metaphor declares it, a glass of men and 268 manners, in which they are to see themselves as they actually exist. It is the essence of the wit and dialogue of society brought into a focus. Steele was manager of Drury Lane Theatre, and made as bad a one as improvidence and animal spirits could produce.

The sentimental comedy continued into the next or fifth Drury Lane era, which was that of Garrick, famous for his great reputation as an actor, and for his triumphant revival of Shakspeare's plays, which have increased in popularity ever since. Not that he revived them in the strictest sense of the word; for the attempt was making when he came to town; but he hastened and exalted the success of it.

The last era before the present one was that of Sheridan, who, though he began with Covent Garden, produced four out of his seven pieces at this theatre; where he showed himself a far better dramatist, and a still worse manager than Steele.

We shall now endeavour to possess our readers with such a sense of these different periods, as may enable them to "live o'er each scene," not indeed of the plays, but of the general epochs of Old Drury; to go into the green-room with Hart and Nell Gwyn; to see Mrs. Oldfield swim on the stage as Lady Betty Modish; to revive the electrical shock of Garrick's leap upon it, as the lively Lothario;—in short, to be his grandfather and great-grandfather before him, and make one of the successive generations of play-goers, now in his peruke à la Charles II., and now in his Ramillie wig, or the bobs of Hogarth. Did we introduce him to all this ourselves, we should speak with less confidence; but we have a succession of play-goers for his acquaintance, who shall make him doubt whether he really is or is not his own ancestor, so surely shall they place him beside them in the pit.

And first, for the immortal and most play-going Pepys. To the society of this jolliest of government officers, we shall consign our reader and ourselves during the reign of Charles II.; and if we are not all three equally intimate with old Drury at that time, there is no faith in good company. By old Drury, we understand both the theatres; the Cockpit or Phœnix and the new one built by Killigrew, which took the title of "King's Theatre." There was a cockpit at Whitehall, or court theatre, to which Pepys occasionally alludes; but after trying in vain to draw a line between such of his 269 memorandums as might be retained and omitted, we here give up the task as undesirable, the whole harmonizing in one mass of theatrical gossip, and making us acquainted collaterally, even with what he is not speaking of. We have not, indeed, retained everything, but we have almost.

We now, therefore, pass Drury House, proceed up the lane by my Lord Craven's garden, and turn into Russell Street amongst a throng of cavaliers in flowing locks, and ladies with curls à la Valliere. Some of them are in masks, but others have not put theirs on. We shall see them masquing as the house grows full. It is early in the afternoon. There press a crowd of gallants, who have already got enough wine. Here, as fast as the lumbering coaches of that period can do it, dashes up to the door my lord Duke of Buckingham, bringing with him Buckhurst and Sedley. There comes a greater, though at that time a humbler man, to wit, John Dryden, in a coat of plain drugget, which by and by his fame converted into black velvet. He is somewhat short and stout, with a roundish dimpled face and a sparkling eye; and, if scandal says true, by his side is "Madam" Reeves, a beautiful actress; for the ladies of the stage were so entitled at that time. Horses and coaches throng the place, with here and there a sedan; and, by the pulling off of hats, we find that the king and his brother James have arrived. The former nods to his people as if he anticipated their mutual enjoyment of the play; the latter affects a graciousness to match, but does not do it very well. As soon as the king passes in, there is a squeeze and a scuffle; and some blood is drawn, and more oaths uttered, from which we hasten to escape. Another scuffle is silenced on the king's entrance, which also makes the gods quiet; otherwise, at no period were they so loud. The house is not very large, nor very well appointed. Most of the ladies masque themselves in the pit and boxes, and all parties prepare for a play that shall render it proper for the remainder to do so. The king applauds a new French tune played by the musicians. Gallants, not very sober, are bowing on all sides of us to ladies not very nice; or talking to the orange girls, who are ranged in front of the pit with their backs to the stage. We hear criticisms on the last new piece, on the latest panegyric, libel, or new mode. Our friend Pepys listens and looks everywhere, tells all who is who, or asks it; and his neighbours think him a most agreeable fat little gentleman. The 270 curtain rises: enter Mistress Marshall, a pretty woman, and speaks a prologue which makes all the ladies hurry on their masks, and convulses the house with laughter. Mr. Pepys "do own" that he cannot help laughing too, and calls the actress "a merry jade;" "but, lord!" he says, "to see the difference of the times, and but two years gone." And then he utters something between a sigh and a chuckle, at the recollection of his Presbyterian breeding, compared with the jollity of his expectations.

But let us hear our friend's memorandums:—

"29th (September 1662). To the King's Theatre, where we saw 'Midsummer's Night's Dream,' which I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid, ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life. [The gods certainly had not made Pepys poetical, except on the substantial side of things.]

"5th (January 1662-3). To the Cockpit, where we saw 'Claracilla,' a poor play, done by the King's house; but neither the king nor queen were there, but only the duke and duchess.

"23d (February, 1662-3). We took coach and to court, and there we saw 'The Wilde Gallant,' performed by the King's house, but it was ill acted. The king did not seem pleased at all, the whole play, nor anybody else. My Lady Castlemaine was all worth seeing to-night, and little Stewart. [This is Miss, or as the designation then was, Mrs. Stewart, afterwards Duchess of Richmond. 'The Wild Gallant' was Dryden's first play, and was patronised by Lady Castlemaine, afterwards not less notorious as Duchess of Cleveland. Miss Stewart and she were rival beauties.]

"1st (February, 1663-4). To the King's Theatre, and there saw the 'Indian Queen' (by Sir Robert Howard and Dryden); which indeed is a most pleasant show, and beyond my expectation the play good, but spoiled with the rhyme, which breaks the sense. But above my expectation most, the eldest Marshall did do her part most excellently well as I have heard a woman in my life; but her voice is not so sweet as Ianthe's: but, however, we come home mightily contented.

"1st (January, 1664). To the King's house, and saw 'The Silent Woman' (Ben Jonson's); but methought not so well done or so good a play as I formerly thought it to be. Before the play was done, it fell such a storm of hayle, that we in the middle of the pit were fain to rise, and all the house in a disorder.

"2nd (August, 1664). To the King's playhouse, and there saw 'Bartholomew Fayre' (Ben Jonson's), which do still please me; and is, as it is acted, the best comedy in the world, I believe. I chanced to sit by Tom Killigrew, who tells me that he is setting up a nursery; that is, is going to build a house in Moorfields, wherein we will have common plays acted. But four operas it shall have in the year, to act six weeks at a time: where we shall have the best scenes and machines, the best musique, and everything as magnificent as in Christendome, and to that end hath sent for voices and painters, and other persons from Italy.

"4th (August, 1664). To play at the King's house, 'The Rivall 271 Ladies' (Dryden's), a very innocent and most pretty witty play. I was much pleased with it, and it being given me, I look upon it as no breach of my oath. [Pepys means that he had made a vow not to spend money on theatres, but that he was now treated to a play.] Here we hear that Clun, one of their best actors, was, the last night, going out of town after he had acted the Alchymist (wherein was one of his best parts that he acts), to his country house, set upon and murdered; one of the rogues taken, an Irish fellow. It seems most cruelly butchered and bound. The house will have a great miss of him. [Clun's body was found at Kentish Town in a ditch. Pepys went to see the place.]

"11th (October, 1664). Luellin tells me what an obscene loose play this 'Parson's Wedding' is (by Tom Killigrew), that is acted by nothing but women at the King's house.

"14th (January, 1664-5). To the King's house, there to see 'Vulpone,' a most excellent play (Ben Jonson's); the best, I think, I ever saw, and well acted.

"19th (March, 1666). After dinner we walked to the King's playhouse, all in dirt, they being altering of the stage to make it wider. But God knows when they will begin to act again; but my business here was to see the inside of the stage, and all the tiring-rooms and machines; and, indeed, it was a sight worthy seeing. But to see their clothes, and the various sorts, and what a mixture of things there was; here a wooden leg, there a ruff, here a hobby-horse, there a crown, would make a man split himself to see with laughing; and particularly Lacy's wardrobe and Shotrell's. But then again to think how fine they show on the stage by candlelight, and how poor things they are to look at too near hand, is not pleasant at all. The machines are fine, and the paintings very pretty.

"7th (December, 1666). To the King's playhouse, where two acts were almost done when I came in; and there I sat with my cloak about my face, and saw the remainder of 'The Mayd's Tragedy;' a good play, and well acted, especially by the younger Marshall, who is become a pretty good actor; and is the first play I have seen in either of the houses, since before the great plague, they having acted now about fourteen days publickly. But I was in mighty pain, lest I should be seen by anybody to be at the play. [The plague seems to have made it an indecorum to resume visits to the theatre very speedily. Pepys had been educated among the Commonwealth-men, for whom he never seems to have got rid of a respect. The contrast aggravated his festivity.]

"8th (December, 1666). To the King's playhouse, and there did see a good part of 'The English Monsieur' (by James Howard), which is a mighty pretty play, very witty and pleasant. And the women do very well; but above all, little Nelly. [Nell Gwynn, not long entered upon the stage.]

"27th (December, 1666). By coach to the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The Scornful Lady' (Beaumont and Fletcher's), well acted; Doll Common doing Abigail most excellently, and Knipp the widow very well (and will be an excellent actor, I think). In other parts the play not so well done as need be by the old actors.

"3rd (January, 1666-7). Alone to the King's house, and there saw 'The Custome of the Country' (Beaumont and Fletcher's), the second time of its being acted, wherein Knipp does the widow well; but of 272 all the plays that ever I did see, the worst, having neither plot, language nor anything on the earth that is acceptable; only Knipp sings a song admirably. [Mistress Knipp was a particular acquaintance of our friend's.]

"23rd (January, 1666-7). To the King's house, and there saw the 'Humourous Lieutenant' (Beaumont and Fletcher's), a silly play, I think; only the spirit in it that grows very tall, and then sinks again to nothing, having two heads breeding upon one, and then Knipp's singing did please us. Here in a box above we spied Mrs. Pierse; and going out they called us; and so we staid for them; and Knipp took us all in and brought us to Nelly (Nell Gwynn), a most pretty woman, who acted the great part of Cœlia to-day very fine, and did it pretty well: I kissed her, and so did my wife; and a mighty pretty soul she is. We also saw Mrs. Ball, which is my little Roman-nose black girl, that is mighty pretty; she is usually called Betty. Knipp made us stay in the box, and see the dancing preparatory to to-morrow for the 'Goblins,' a play of Suckling's, not acted these twenty years; which was pretty.

"5th (February, 1666-7). To the King's house to see 'The Chances' (Beaumont and Fletcher's). A good play I find it, and the actors most good in it. And pretty to hear Knipp sing in the play very properly, 'All night I weepe;' and sung it admirably. The whole play pleases me well: and most of all, the sight of many fine ladies; among others, my lady Castlemaine and Mrs. Middleton: the latter of the two hath also a very excellent face and body, I think. And so home in the dark over the ruins with a link. [The ruins are those of the city, occasioned by the fire. Mr. Pepys lived in Creed Lane, where the Navy Office then was, in which he had an appointment.]

"18th (February, 1666-7). To the King's house, to 'The Mayd's Tragedy' (Beaumont and Fletcher's); but vexed all the while with two talking ladies and Sir Charles Sedley; yet pleased to hear the discourse, he being a stranger. And one of the ladies would and did sit with her mask on all the play, and being exceedingly witty as ever I heard a woman, did talk most pleasantly with him; but was, I believe, a virtuous woman and of quality. He would fain know who she was, but she would not tell; yet did give him many pleasant hints of her knowledge of him, by that means setting his brains at work to find out who she was, and did give him leave to use all means to find out who she was, but pulling off her mask. He was mighty witty, and she also making sport with him mighty inoffensively, that more pleasant rencontre I never heard. But by that means lost the pleasure of the play wholly, to which now and then Sir Charles Sedley's exceptions against both words and pronouncing were very pretty. [This is the famous wit and man of pleasure. We have him before us, as if we were present, together with a curious specimen of the manners of these times. The pit, though subject to violent scuffles, greatly occasioned by the wearing of swords, seems to have contained as good company as the opera pit does now.]

"2nd (March, 1666-7). After dinner with my wife to the King's house, to see 'The Mayden Queen,' a new play of Dryden's, mighty commended for the regularity of it, and the strain and wit: and the truth is, there is a comical part, played by Nell, which is Florimell, that I never can hope to see the like done again by man or woman. The King and Duke of York were at the play. But so great performance 273 of a comical part was never, I believe, in the world before as Nell do this, both as a mad girl, then most and best of all when she comes in like a young gallante; and hath the motions and carriage of a spark the most that ever I saw any man have. It makes me, I confess, admire her.

"25th (March, 1666-7). To the King's playhouse, and by and by comes Mr. Lowther and his wife and mine, and into a box, forsooth, neither of them being dressed, which I was almost ashamed of. Sir W. Pen and I in the pit, and here saw the 'Mayden Queen' again; which, indeed, the more I see the more I like, and is an excellent play, and so done by Nell her merry part, as cannot be better done in nature.

"9th (April, 1667). To the King's house, and there saw the 'Taming of the Shrew,' which hath some very good pieces in it, but generally is but a mean play; and the best part 'Sawny,' done by Lacy; and hath not half its life, by reason of the words, I suppose, not being understood, at least by me. [This was one of the rifacimentos of Shakspeare, by which he was to be rendered palatable.]

"15th (April, 1667). To the King's house, by chance, where a new play: so full as I never saw it; I forced to stand all the while close to the very door till I took cold, and many people went away for want of room. The King and Queene and Duke of York and Duchesse there, and all the court, and Sir W. Coventry. The play called 'The Change of Crownes;' a play of Ned Howard's, the best that I ever saw at that house, being a great play and serious; only Lacy did act the country gentleman come up to court with all the imaginable wit and plainness about the selling of places, and doing everything for money. The play took very much.

"16th (April, 1667). Knipp tells me the King was so angry at the liberty taken by Lacy's part to abuse him to his face, that he commanded they should act no more, till Moone (Mohun) went and got leave for them to act again, but not in this play. The King mighty angry; and it was bitter indeed, but very fine and witty. I never was more taken with a play than I am with this 'Silent Woman' (Ben Johnson's) as old as it is, and as often as I have seen it. [Ned Howard, the author of 'The Change of Crownes,' was one of the sons of the Earl of Berkshire, and though of a family who helped to bring in the King, was probably connected with the Presbyterians, and disgusted, like many of the royalists on that side, by the disappointments they had experienced in church and state. Dryden, who married one of his sisters, was of a Presbyterian stock. Ned, however, who afterwards became the butt of the wits, was not very nice, and might have 'committed himself,' as the modern phrase is, in his mode of conducting his satire].

"20th (April, 1667). Met Mr. Rolt, who tells me the reason of no play to-day at the King's house—that Lacy had been committed to the porter's lodge, for his acting his part in the late new play; and being thence released to come to the King's house, he there met with Ned Howard, the poet of the play, who congratulated his release; upon which Lacy cursed him, as that it was the fault of his nonsensical play that was the cause of his ill-usage. Mr. Howard did give him some reply, to which Lacy answered him that he was more a fool than a poet; upon which Howard did give him a blow on the 274 face with his glove; on which Lacy, having a cane in his hand, did give him a blow over the pate. Here Rolt and others, that discoursed of it in the pit, did wonder that Howard did not run him through, he being too mean a fellow to fight with. But Howard did not do anything but complain to the King; so the whole house is silenced: and the gentry seem to rejoice much at it, the house being become too insolent.

"1st (May, 1667). Thence away to the King's playhouse, and saw 'Love in a Maze:' but a sorry play; only Lacy's clown's part, which he did most admirably indeed; and I am glad to find the rogue at liberty again. Here was but little, and that ordinary company. We sat at the upper bench, next the boxes; and I find it do pretty well, and have the advantage of seeing and hearing the great people, which may be pleasant when there is good store.

"15th (August, 1667). And so we went to the King's house, and there saw 'The Merry Wives of Windsor;' which did not please me at all, in no part of it.

"17th (August, 1667). To the King's playhouse, where the house extraordinary full; and there the King and Duke of York to see the new play, 'Queene Elizabeth's Troubles, and the History of Eighty-eight.' I confess I have sucked in so much of the sad story of Queene Elizabeth from my cradle, that I was ready to weep for her sometimes; but the play is the most ridiculous that sure ever came upon stage, and, indeed, is merely a show, only shows the true garb of the Queene in those days, just as we see Queene Mary and Queene Elizabeth painted; but the play is merely a puppet play, acted by living puppets. Neither the design nor language better; and one stands by and tells us the meaning of things: only I was pleased to see Knipp dance among the milkmaids, and to hear her sing a song to Queene Elizabeth, and to see her come out in her nighte-gown with no lockes on, but her bare face, and hair only tied up in a knot behind; which is the comeliest dress that ever I saw her in to her advantage.

"22nd (August, 1667). With my lord Brouncker and his mistress to the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The Indian Emperour;' where I find Nell come again, which I am glad of; but was most infinitely displeased with her being put to act the Emperour's daughter, which is a great and serious part, which she does most basely.

"14th (September, 1667). To the King's playhouse, to see 'The Northerne Castle, (quære Lasse, by Richard Brome?) which I think I never did see before. Knipp acted in it, and did her part very extraordinary well; but the play is but a mean sorry play.

"——, my wife, and Mercer, and I, away to the King's playhouse, to see 'The Scornful Lady' (Beaumont and Fletcher's), but it being now three o'clock, there was not one soul in the pit; whereupon, for shame, we could not go in; but against our wills, went all to see 'Tu Quoque' again (by John Cooke), where there was pretty store of company. Here we saw Madame Morland, who is grown mighty fat, but is very comely. Thence to the King's house, upon a wager of mine with my wife, that there would be no acting there to-day, there being no company: so I went in and found a pretty good company there, and saw their dance at the end of the play. [There is a confusion in the memorandum under this date.] 275

"20th (September, 1667). By coach to the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The Mad Couple' (by Richard Brome), my wife having been at the same play with Jane in the 18d. seat.

"25th (September, 1667). I to the King's playhouse, my eyes being so bad since last night's straining of them, that I am hardly able to see, besides the pain that I have in them. The play was a new play; and infinitely full; the King and all the court almost there. It is 'The Storme,' a play of Fletcher's; which is but so-so, methinks; only there is a most admirable dance at the end, of the ladies, in a military manner, which indeed did please me mightily.

"5th (October 1667.) To the King's house; and there going in met with Knipp, and she took us up into the tireing-rooms; and to the women's shift, where Nell was dressing herself, and was all unready, and is very pretty, prettier than I thought. And into the scene-room, and there sat down, and she gave us fruit; and here I read the questions to Knipp, while she answered me, through all her part of 'Flora's Figarys,' which was acted to-day. But, lord! to see how they were both painted, would make a man mad, and did make me loath them, and what base company of men comes among them, and how lewdly they talk. And how poor the men are in clothes, and yet what a show they make on the stage by candle-light, is very observable. But to see how Nell cursed, for having so few people in the pit, was strange; the other house carrying away all the people at the new play, and is said now-a-days to have generally most company, as having better players. By and by into the pit, and there saw the play, which is pretty good.

"19th (October 1667). Full of my desire of seeing my Lord Orrery's new play this afternoon at the King's house, 'The Black Prince,' the first time it is acted; where, though we came by two o'clock, yet there was no room in the pit, but were forced to go into one of the upper boxes at 4s. a piece, which is the first time I ever sat in a box in my life. And in the same box came by and by, behind me, my Lord Barkely and his lady; but I did not turn my face to them to be known, so that I was excused from giving them my seat. And this pleasure I had, that from this place the scenes do appear very fine indeed, and much better than in the pit. The house infinite full, and the King and Duke of York there. The whole house was mightily pleased all along till the reading of a letter, which was so long and so unnecessary, that they frequently began to laugh, and to hiss twenty times, that had it not been for the King's being there, they had certainly hissed it off the stage.

"23d (October 1667). To the King's playhouse, and saw 'The Black Prince;' which is now mightily bettered by that long letter being printed, and so delivered to everybody at their going in, and some short reference made to it in the play. [This is in the style of what Buckingham called "insinuating the plot into the boxes."]

"1st (November 1667). To the King's playhouse, and there saw a silly play and an old one, 'The Taming of the Shrew.'

"2d (November 1667). To the King's playhouse, and there saw 'Henry the Fourth;' and, contrary to expectation, was pleased in nothing more than in Cartwright's speaking of Falstaffe's speech about 'What is honour?' The house full of parliament-men, it being holyday with them: and it was observable how a gentleman of good habit sitting just before us, eating of some fruit in the midst of 276 play, did drop down as dead, being choked; but with much ado Orange Moll did thrust her finger down his throat, and brought him to life again.

"26th (December 1667). With my wife to the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The Surprizall' by Sir Robert Howard, brother of Ned; which did not please me to-day, the actors not pleasing me; and especially Nell's acting of a serious part which she spoils.

"28th (December 1667). To the King's house, and there saw 'The Mad Couple,' which is but an ordinary play; but only Nell's and Hart's mad parts are most excellent done, but especially hers: which makes it a miracle to me to think how ill she do any serious part, as, the other day, just like a fool or changeling; and, in a mad part, do beyond all imitation almost. It pleased us mightily to see the natural affection of a poor woman, the mother of one of the children brought on the stage; the child crying, she by force got upon the stage, and took up her child, and carried it away off the stage from Hart. Many fine faces here to-day.

"7th (January 1667-8). To the Nursery [qy. in Barbican, for children performers?], but the house did not act to-day; and so I to the other two playhouses, into the pit to gaze up and down, and there did, by this means, for nothing, see an act in 'The Schoole of Compliments' at the Duke of York's house, and 'Henry the Fourth' at the King's house; but not liking either of the plays, I took my coach again, and home. [It would here seem, that a man who did not choose to pay for a seat, might witness a play for nothing.]

"11th (January 1667-8). To the King's house, to see 'The Wild-Goose Chase' (Beaumont and Fletcher's). In this play I met with nothing extraordinary at all, but very dull inventions and designs. Knipp came and sat by us, and her talk pleased me a little, she telling me how Miss Davies is for certain going away from the Duke's house, the King being in love with her; and a house is taken for her, and furnishing; and she hath a ring given her already worth 600l.: that the King did send several times for Nelly, and she was with him; and I am sorry for it, and can hope for no good to the state from having a prince so devoted to his pleasure. She told me also of a play shortly coming upon the stage, of Sir Charles Sedley's, which, she thinks, will be called 'The Wandering Lady's,' a comedy that she thinks will be most pleasant; and also another play called 'The Duke of Lorane;' besides 'Cataline,' which she thinks, for want of the clothes which the King promised them, will not be acted for a good while.

"20th (February 1667-8). Dined, and by one o'clock to the King's house; a new play, 'The Duke of Lerma,' of Sir Robert Howard's, where the King and court was; and Knipp and Nell spoke the prologue most excellently, especially Knipp, who spoke beyond any creature I ever heard. The play designed to reproach our King with his mistresses, that I was troubled for it, and expected it should be interrupted; but it ended all well; which salved me.

"27th (February 1667-8.) With my wife to the King's house, to see 'The Virgin Martyr' by (Massinger), the first time it hath been acted a great while: and it is mighty pleasant; not that the play is worth much, but it is finely acted by Beck Marshall. But that which did please me beyond anything in the world, was the wind-musique when the angel comes down; which is so sweet that it ravished me, 277 and, indeed, in a word, did wrap up my soul so that it made me really sick, just as I have formerly been when in love with my wife; that neither then, nor all the evening going home, and at home, I was able to think of anything, but remained all night transported, so as I could not believe that ever any musique hath that real command over the soul of a man, as this did upon me; and makes me resolve to practise wind-musique, and to make my wife do the like. [Pepys's use of the word "sick," and his resolution to make his wife practise the hautboy, are very ludicrous. His love of music, however, is genuine. He was an amateur composer. On the 23d Feb. 1666, he has the following memorandum: "Comes Mrs. Knipp to see my wife, and I spent all the night talking with this baggage, and teaching her my song of 'Beauty retire,' which she sings and makes go most rarely, and a very fine song it seems to be."]

"6th (March 1667-8.) After dinner to the King's house, and there saw part of the 'Discontented Colonell' (Sir John Suckling's 'Brennoralt').

"7th (April 1668). To the King's house, and there saw 'The English Monsieur,' (sitting for privacy sake in an upper box): the play hath much mirth in it, as to that particular humour. After the play done, I down to Knipp, and did stay her undressing herself; and there saw the several players, men and women, go by; and pretty to see how strange they are all, one to another, after the play is done. Here I hear Sir W. Davenant is just now dead, and so, who will succeed him in the mastership of the house is not yet known. The eldest Davenport is, it seems, gone from this house to be kept by somebody; which I am glad of, she being a very bad actor. Mrs. Knipp tells me that my Lady Castlemaine is mighty in love with Hart of their house, and he is much with her in private, and she goes to him and do give him many presents; and that the thing is most certain, and Beck Marshall only privy to it, and the means of bringing them together: which is a very odd thing; and by this means she is even with the King's love to Mrs. Davies.

"28th (April 1668). To the King's house, and there did see 'Love in a Maze,' (the author is not mentioned in Baker); wherein very good mirth of Lacy the clown, and Wintershell, the country-knight, his master.

"1st (May 1668). To the King's playhouse, and there saw the 'Surprizall;' and a disorder in the pit by its raining in from the cupola at top.

"7th (May 1668). To the King's house; where going in for Knipp, the play being done, I did see Beck Marshall come dressed off of the stage, and look mighty fine, and pretty and noble; and also Nell in her boy's clothes mighty pretty. But lord! their confidence, and how many men do hover about them as soon as they come off the stage, and how confident they are in their talk. Here was also Haynes, the incomparable dancer of the King's house.

"16th (May 1668). To the King's playhouse, and there saw the best part of 'The Sea Voyage' (Beaumont and Fletcher), where Knipp did her part of sorrow very well.

"18th (May 1668). It being almost twelve o'clock, or little more, to the King's playhouse, where the doors were not then open; but presently they did open, and we in, and find many people already come in by private ways into the pit, it being the first day of Sir 278 Charles Sedley's new play so long expected 'The Mulberry Garden,' of whom, being so reputed a wit, all the world do expect great matters. I having sat here a while and eat nothing to-day, did slip out, getting a boy to keep my place; and to the Rose Tavern (Will's, in Russell Street), and there got half a breast of mutton off the spit, and dined all alone. And so to the playhouse again, where the King and Queene by and by come, and all the court, and the house infinitely full. But the play, when it come, though there was here and there a pretty saying, and that not very many neither, yet the whole of the play had nothing extraordinary in it at all, neither of language nor design; insomuch that the King I did not see laugh nor pleased from the beginning to the end, nor the company; insomuch that I have not been less pleased at a new play in my life, I think.

"30th (May 1668). To the King's playhouse, and there saw 'Philaster;' where it is pretty to see how I could remember almost all along, ever since I was a boy, Arethusa, the part which I was to have acted at Sir Robert Cooke's; and it was very pleasant to me, but more to think what a ridiculous thing it would have been for me to have acted a beautiful woman.

"22nd (June 1668). To the King's playhouse, and saw an act or two of the new play, 'Evening Love' again (Dryden's) but like it not.

"11th (July 1668). To the King's playhouse, to see an old play of Shirley's, called 'Hyde Parke,' the first day acted; where horses are brought upon the stage; but it is but a very moderate play, only an excellent epilogue spoken by Beck Marshall.

"31st (July 1668). To the King's house, to see the first day of Lacy's 'Monsieur Ragou,' now new acted. The King and court all there, and mighty merry: a farce.

"15th (September 1668). To the King's playhouse to see a new play, acted but yesterday, a translation out of French by Dryden, called 'The Ladys à la Mode' [probably the Precieuses, but not translated by Dryden]: so mean a thing as when they came to say it would be acted again to-morrow, both he that said it (Beeston) and the pit fell a-laughing.

"19th (September 1668). To the King's playhouse, and there saw the 'Silent Woman;' the best comedy, I think, that ever was wrote: and sitting by Shadwell the poet, he was big with admiration of it. Here was my Lord Brouncker and W. Pen and their ladies in the box, being grown mighty kind of a sudden; but, God knows, it will last but a little while, I dare swear. Knipp did her part mighty well.

"28th (September 1668). To the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The City Match' (by Jasper Maine), not acted these thirty years, and but a silly play; the King and court there; the house, for the women's sake, mighty full.

"14th (October 1668). To the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The Faithful Shepherdess' (Fletcher's), that I might hear the French eunuch sing; which I did to my great content; though I do admire his actions as much as his acting, being both beyond all I ever saw or heard.

"2nd (December 1678). So she (Mrs. Pepys) and I to the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The Usurper;' a pretty good play in all but what is designed to resemble Cromwell and Hugh Peters, which is 279 mighty silly. [The Usurper was by Ned Howard, who seems to have wished to show how impartial he could be.]

"19th (December 1678). My wife and I by hackney to the King's playhouse, and there, the pit being full, sat in the box above, and saw 'Cataline's Conspiracy' (Ben Jonson's), yesterday being the first day: a play of much good sense and words to read, but that do appear the worst upon the stage, I mean the least diverting, that ever I saw any, though most fine in clothes; and a fine scene of the senate and of a fight as ever I saw in my life. We sat next to Betty Hall, that did belong to this house, and was Sir Philip Howard's mistress; a mighty pretty wench.

"7th (January 1668-9). My wife and I to the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The Island Princesse' (Beaumont and Fletcher's), the first time I ever saw it; and it is a pretty good play, many good things being in it, and a good scene of a town on fire. We sat in an upper box, and the merry Jade Nell came in and sat in the next box; a bold slut, who lay laughing there upon people, and with a comrade of hers, of the Duke's house, that came to see the play.

"11th (January 1668-9). Abroad with my wife to the King's playhouse, and there saw 'The Joviall Crew' (by Richard Brome), ill acted to what it was in Clun's time, and when Lacy could dance.

"19th (January 1668-9). To the King's house to see 'Horace' (translated from Corneille by Charles Cotton); this is the third day of its acting; a silly tragedy; but Lacy hath made a farce of several dances—between each act one; but his words are but silly, and invention not extraordinary as to the dances. [Pepys adds, with seeming approbation, an instance of satire on the Dutch, too gross to extract, and highly disgraceful to that age of "fine ladies and gentlemen."]

"2nd (February 1668-9). To dinner at noon, where I find Mr. Sheres; and there made a short dinner, and carried him with us to the King's playhouse, where 'The Heyresse,' notwithstanding Kynaston's being beaten, is acted; and they say the King is very angry with Sir Charles Sedley for his being beaten, but he do deny it. But his part is done by Beeston, who is fain to read it out of a book all the while, and thereby spoils the part, and almost the play, it being one of the best parts in it: and though the design is, in the first conception of it, pretty good, yet it is but an indifferent play; wrote, they say, by my Lord Newcastle. But it was pleasant to see Beeston come in with others, supposing it to be dark, and yet forced to read his part by the light of the candles; and this I observing to a gentleman, that sat by me, he was mightily pleased therewith and spread it up and down. But that that pleased me most in the play, is the first song that Knipp sings (she sings three or four); and indeed it was very finely sung, so as to make the whole house clap her.

"6th (February 1668-9). To the King's playhouse, and there in an upper box (where come in Colonel Poynton and Doll Stacey, who is very fine, and by her wedding-ring I suppose he hath married her at last), did see the 'Moor of Venice:' but ill acted in most parts. Moon (which did a little surprise me) not acting Iago's part by much so well as Clun used to do: nor another Hart's, which was Cassio's; nor indeed Burt doing the Moor's so well as I once thought he did.

"9th (February 1668-9). To the King's playhouse, and there saw the 'Island Princesse,' which I like mighty well as an excellent play; 280 and here we find Kynaston to be well enough to act again; which he do very well, after his beating by Sir Charles Sedley's appointment. [Kynaston is generally supposed to have been taken for Sedley, and beaten for some offence of the baronet's. He affected to be Sedley's double.]

"26th (February 1668-9). To the King's playhouse, and saw the 'Faithful Shepherdesse.' But, lord! what an empty house, there not being, as I could see the people, so many as to make up above 10l. in the whole house! But I plainly discern the musick is the better, by how much the house the emptier." [The same thing was said by the great Handel, to console himself once, when he found a spare audience.]

Of the performers mentioned in this curious theatrical gossip, one of them, Hart, had been a captain in the civil wars; another, Mohun, a major; and there was a third a quarter-master; all on the royal side. Hart and Mohun were old actors, when Betterton was young; and they lived to see him reckoned superior to either. The two were accustomed to act together, Hart generally in the superior character, as Brutus to the other's Cassius; and both, like Betterton, acted in comedy as well as tragedy. They performed, for instance, Manly and Horner in 'The Country Wife,' and there appears to have been less distinction in their styles of acting than is customary. If Hart shone in the Dorimant of 'Sir Fopling Flutter,' Mohun was highly applauded in Davenant's Valentine, in 'Wit without Money.' Mohun, however, appears to have excelled in the more ferocious parts of tragedy, as Catiline; and Hart in the mixture of gaity with boldness, as in Hotspur and Alexander. His Alexander was particularly famous. Upon the whole, we should conclude, Mohun's to have the more artificial acting of the two, more like "the actor," in Partridge's sense of the word, but very fine nevertheless, otherwise Rochester would hardly have admired him, as he is said to have done; unless, indeed, it was out of spite to some other actor; for he was much influenced by feelings of that kind. Perhaps, however, it was out of some chance predilection, The Duke of Buckingham is said to have preferred Ben Jonson to Shakspeare, for no other reason than his having been introduced to him when a boy. The best compliment ever known to have been paid to Hart, is an anecdote recorded of Betterton. Betterton acted Alexander after Hart's time; and "being at a loss," says Davies, "to recover a particular emphasis of that performer, which gave a force to some interesting situation of the part, he applied for information to the players who stood near him. At last, 281 one of the lowest of the company repeated the line exactly in Hart's key. Betterton thanked him heartily, and put a piece of money into his hand, as a reward for so acceptable a service."[253] Hart had the reputation of being the first lover of Nell Gwyn, and one of the hundreds of the Duchess of Cleveland.

Goodman was another of the favoured many. He was one of the Alexanders of his time, but does not appear to have been a great actor. He was a dashing impudent fellow, who boasted of his having taken "an airing" on the road to recruit his purse. He was expelled from Cambridge for cutting and defacing the portrait of the Duke of Monmouth, Chancellor of the University, but not loyal enough to his father to please Goodman. James II. pardoned the loyal highwayman, which Goodman (in Cibber's hearing) said "was doing him so particular an honour, that no man could wonder if his acknowledgement had carried him a little further than ordinary into the interest of that prince. But as he had lately been out of luck in backing his old master, he had now no way to get home the life he was out, upon his account, but by being under the same obligations to King William."[254] The meaning of this is understood to be, that Goodman offered to assassinate William, in consequence of his having had a pardon from James; but the plot not succeeding, he turned king's evidence against James, in order to secure a pardon from William. This "pretty fellow" was latterly so easy in his circumstances, owing, it is supposed, to the delicate Cleveland, that he used to say he would never act Alexander the Great, but when he was certain that "his duchess" would be in the boxes to see him.

The stage in that day was certainly not behind-hand with the court; and as it had less conventional respectability in the eyes of the world, its private character was never so low. But we must do justice and not confound even the disreputable. Poor Nell Gwynn, in a quarrel with one of the Marshalls, who reproached her with being the mistress of Lord Buckhurst, said she was mistress but of one man at a time, though she had been brought up in a bad house "to fill strong waters to the gentlemen;" whereas her rebuker, 282 though a clergyman's daughter, was the mistress of three. This celebrated actress, who was as excellent in certain giddy parts of comedy as she was inferior in tragedy, was small of person, but very pretty, with a good-humoured face, and eyes that winked when she laughed. She is the ancestress of the ducal family of St. Albans, who are thought to have retained more of the look and complexion of Charles II. than any other of his descendants. Beauclerc, Johnson's friend, was like him; and the black complexion is still in vigour. The King recommended her to his brother with his last breath, begging him "not to let poor Nelly starve." Burnet says she was introduced to the King by Buckingham, to supplant the Duchess of Cleveland; but others tell us, he first noticed her in consequence of a hat of the circumference of a coach-wheel, in which Dryden made her deliver a prologue, as a set-off to an enormous hat of Pistol's at the other house, and which convulsed the spectators with laughter. If Nelly retained a habit of swearing, which was probably taught her when a child (and it is clear enough from Pepys that she did), the poets did not discourage her. One of her epilogues by Dryden began in the following startling manner. It is entitled "An Epilogue spoken by Mrs. Ellen, when she was to be carried off dead by the Bearers."

"Hold, are you mad, you damn'd confounded dog?

I am to rise and speak the epilogue."

The poet makes her say of herself, in the course of the lines, that she was "a harmless little devil," and that she was slatternly in her dress. Lely painted her with a lamb under her arm. Mr. Pegge discovered that Charles made her a lady of the chamber to his queen. Pennant seems to think this was only a title; but it is plain from Evelyn's Memoirs that she had apartments in Whitehall.[255] She died a few years after the King, at her house in Pall Mall. Nell was much libelled in her time, and among others by Sir George 283 Etherege;[256] very likely out of some personal pique or rejection, for such revenges were quite compatible with the "loves" of that age.[257] But she was a general favourite, nevertheless, owing to a natural good-heartedness which no course of life could overcome. Burnet's character of her is well known. "Guin," says he, "the indiscreetest and wildest creature that ever was in a court, continued, to the end of that king's life, in great favour and was maintained at a vast expense. The Duke of Buckingham told me that when she was first brought to the King, she asked only five hundred pounds a year; and the King refused it. But when he told me this, about four years after, he said, she had got of the King above sixty thousand pounds. She acted all persons in so lively a manner, and was such a constant diversion to the King, that even a new mistress could not drive her away. But after all he never treated her with the decencies of a mistress."[258] Nell Gwynn is said to have suggested to her royal lover the building of Chelsea Hospital, and to have made him a present of the ground for it.

Upon the whole the dramatic taste during the greater part of Charles's reign was false and artificial, particularly in tragedy. Etherege produced one good comedy, the precursor of Wycherly and Congreve; but Dryden, the reigning favourite, was not as great in dramatic as he was in other writing; his heroic plays, and Lee's "Alexander," were admired, not so much for the beauties mixed with their absurdity, as for the improbable air they gave to a serious passion; and the favourite plays of deceased authors were those of the most equivocal writers of the time of James, not the pure and profound nature of Shakspeare and his fellows. Otway flourished, but was not thought so great as he is now; and even in Otway there is a hot bullying smack of the tavern, very different from the voluptuousness in Shakspeare. Towards the close of this reign comedy came to its height with Wycherly, who, almost as profligate in point of dialogue as any of his contemporaries, nevertheless hit the right vein of satire. Wycherly lived at the other end of Russell Street, in Bow Street, where we shall see him shortly.


We are now come to the time of Congreve, Mrs. Bracegirdle, and others; Betterton remaining. Of these individually we have spoken before; and therefore shall only observe that by the more serious examples of James II. and King William, the manners of the day were reforming, and those of the stage with them. We now find ourselves among audiences more composed, and witness plays less coarse, though with an abundance of double meaning and exuberantly witty. Coquetry and fashion are now the reigning stage goddesses, as mere wantonness was that of the age preceding.

Farquhar and Vanbrugh succeeded, together with Cibber, Wilkes, Booth, and latterly Steele and Mrs. Oldfield. Vanbrugh does not belong to Drury Lane, but Farquhar does, with the rest; and a lively place he made of it. He is Captain Farquhar, has a plume in his hat, and prodigious animal spirits, with invention at will, and great good nature. Captains abounded among the wits and adventurers of those days down to Captains Macheath and Gibbet. Vanbrugh was a captain; Steele at one time was Captain Steele; and Mrs. Oldfield's father, though the son of a vinter, became Captain Oldfield, and genteelly ran out an estate. This is still the age of genuine comedy, and the stage is worthy of it. The tragedy was proportionably bad. Booth, indeed, was a good tragic actor, but he suited the age in being declamatory. He was the hero of Addison's Cato, once the favourite tragedy of the critics, now of nobody.

Rowe was another artificial writer of tragedy, but not without a vein of feeling. It seems to have been thought in those times, as we may see by these authors, and by the tragedies of Banks and Lillo, that to be natural, an author was to be prosaical; while, if he had any pretensions to be poetical, it was his business to—

"—— wake the soul by tender strokes of art."

The gradual approach, also, of this period to our own times, which are more critical in costume, and the pictures left to us of favourite performers in Hamlet and Hermione, dressed in wigs and hoop petticoats, render those outrages upon propriety still stranger to one's imagination. They set tragedy in a mock-heroical light. Cato wore a long peruke; Alexander the Great a wig and jack-boots; and it was customary, down to Garrick's time, to dress Macbeth and other tragic general-officers 285 in a suit of brick-dust. "Booth enters," says Pope:—

—— "Hark, the universal peal!

But has he spoken? Not a syllable.

What shook the stage and made the people stare?

Cato's long wig, flowered gown, and lackered chair."

The stare was not that of ridicule, but of admiration. All this makes the comedy of that period shine out the more as the only truth extant. Cherry, and Archer, and Sir Harry Wildair, and Sir John Brute, and my Lady Betty Modish, were like the age, and like the performers.

To return to these. Wilks was the fine gentleman of that period. He was a friend of Farquhar's, and came to London with him from Dublin. Cibber, though he wrote a good comedy, would appear, by some accounts of him, to have been little more on the stage than a mimic of past actors. Steele, however, has a criticism on him and Wilks, in which he speaks of them both as perfect actors in their kinds.

"Wilks," he tells us, "has a singular talent in representing the graces of nature; Cibber the deformity in the affectation of them. Were I a writer of plays, I should never employ either of them in parts which had not their bents this way. This is seen in the inimitable strain and run of good humour which is kept up in the character of Wildair, and in the nice and delicate abuse of understanding in that of Sir Novelty. Cibber, in another light, hits exquisitely the flat civility of an affected gentleman usher, and Wilks the easy frankness of a gentleman.... To beseech gracefully, to approach respectfully, to pity, to mourn, to love, are the places wherein Wilks may be made to shine with the utmost beauty. To rally pleasantly, to scorn artfully, to flatter, to ridicule, and to neglect, are what Cibber would perform with no less excellence."[259]

This criticism produced a letter to Steele from two inferior actors of that time, Bullock and Penkethman, who, rather than not be noticed at all, were willing to be bantered. They knew it would be done good-naturedly. Accordingly the "Tatler" says,

"For the information of posterity I shall comply with this letter, and set these two great men in such a light as Sallust has placed his Cato and Cæsar. Mr. William Bullock and Mr. William Penkethman are of the same age, profession, and sex. They both distinguish themselves in a very particular manner under the discipline of the crab tree, with this only difference, that Mr. Bullock has the more agreeable squall, and Mr. Penkethman the more graceful shrug. Penkethman devours cold chick with great applause; Bullock's talent lies chiefly in asparagus. Penkethman is very dexterous at conveying himself 286 under a table; Bullock is no less active at jumping over a stick. Mr. Penkethman has a great deal of money; but Mr. Bullock is the taller man."[260]

Off the stage, and behind the scenes, Cibber performed the part of a coxcomb of the first order. We shall not be properly acquainted with Drury Lane at this period if we do not repeat his story of the wig.

This was a peruke of his, famous in the part of Sir Fopling Flutter. It was so much admired, that Cibber used to have it brought upon the stage in a sedan, and put it on publicly, to the great content of the beholders. A set of curls so applauded was the next thing to a toast; and accordingly Colonel, then Mr. Brett, whom the toasts admired, could not rest till he had taken possession of it.

"The first view," says Colley, "that fires the head of a young gentleman of this modish ambition, just broke loose from business, is to cut a figure (as they call it) in a side box at the play, from whence their next step is to the green-room behind the scenes, sometimes their non ultra. Hither at last, then, in this hopeful quest of his fortune, came this gentleman-errant, not doubting but the fickle dame, while he was thus qualified to receive her, might be tempted to fall into his lap. And though, possibly, the charms of our theatrical nymphs might have their share in drawing him thither; yet, in my observation, the most visible cause of his first coming was a more sincere passion he had conceived for a fair full-bottomed periwig, which I then wore in my first play of the 'Fool in Fashion,' in the year 1695. For it is to be noted that the beaux of those days were of a quite different cast to the modern stamp, and had more of the stateliness of the peacock in their mien, than (which now seems to be their highest emulation) the pert of a lapwing. Now, whatever contempt philosophers may have for a fine periwig, my friend, who was not to despise the world, but to live in it, knew very well, that so material an article of dress upon the head of a man of sense, if it became him, could never fail of drawing to him a more partial regard and benevolence than could possibly be hoped for in an ill-made one. This, perhaps, may soften the grave censure which so youthful a purchase might otherwise have laid upon him. In a word, he made his attack upon this periwig, as your young fellows generally do for a lady of pleasure; first, by a few familiar praises of her person, and then a civil inquiry into the price of it. But on his observing me a little surprised at the levity of his question about a fop's periwig, he began to rally himself with so much wit and humour upon the folly of his fondness for it, that he struck me with an equal desire of granting anything in my power to oblige so facetious a customer. This singular beginning of our conversation, and the mutual laughs that ensued upon it, ended in an agreement to finish our bargain that night over a bottle."[261]


Colonel Brett, being a man of "bonnes fortunes," married Savage's mother!

Mrs. Oldfield made such an impression in her day, and has been noticed by so many writers, that she must have a passage to herself. She was the daughter of Captain Oldfield above-mentioned, and went to live with her aunt, who kept the Mitre tavern in St. James's Market. Here, we are told, Captain Farquhar, overhearing Miss Nancy read a play behind the bar, was so struck "with the proper emphasis and agreeable turn she gave to each character, that he swore the girl was cut out for the stage." As she had always expressed an inclination for that way of life, and a desire of trying her fortune in it, her mother, on this encouragement, the next time she saw Captain Vanbrugh (afterwards Sir John), who had a great respect for the family, acquainted him with Captain Farquhar's opinion, on which he desired to know whether her bent was most tragedy or comedy. Miss, being called in, informed him that her principal inclination was to the latter, having at that time gone through all Beaumont and Fletcher's comedies; and the play she was reading when Captain Farquhar dined there having been 'The Scornful Lady.' Captain Vanbrugh, shortly after, recommended her to Mr. Christopher Rich, who took her into the house at the allowance of fifteen shillings per week. However, her agreeable figure and sweetness of voice soon gave her the preference, in the opinion of the whole town, to all the young actresses of that time; and the Duke of Bedford, in particular, being pleased to speak to Mr. Rich in her favour, he instantly raised her to twenty shillings per week. After which her fame and salary gradually increased, till at length they both attained that height which her merit entitled her to.[262]

The new actress had a silver voice, a beautiful face and person, great good-nature, sprightliness, and grace, and became the fine lady of the stage in the most agreeable sense of the word. She also acted heroines of the sentimental order, and had an original part in every play of Steele. But she was particularly famous in the part of Lady Betty Modish, in "The Careless Husband." The name explains the character. Cibber tells us that he drew many of the strokes in it from her lively manner.


"Had her birth," he says, "placed her in a higher rank of life, she had certainly appeared in reality what in this play she only excellently acted, an agreeable gay woman of quality, a little too conscious of her natural attractions. I have often seen her in private societies, where women of the best rank might have borrowed some part of their behaviour, without the least diminution of their sense or dignity. And this very morning, where I am now writing, at the Bath, November 11th, 1738, the same words were said of her by a lady of condition, whose better judgment of her personal merit in that light has emboldened me to repeat them. After her success in this character of higher life, all that nature had given her of the actress seemed to have risen to its full perfection: but the variety of her power could not be known till she was seen in a variety of characters, which, as fast as they fell to her, she equally excelled in. Authors had much more from her performance than they had reason to hope for, from what they had written for her; and none had less than another, but as their genius, in the parts they allotted her, was more or less elevated.

"In the wearing of her person she was particularly fortunate; her figure was always improving to her thirty-sixth year; but her excellence in acting was never at a stand; and the last new character she shone in (Lady Townly) was a proof that she was still able to do more, if more could have been done for her. She had one mark of good sense, rarely known in any actor of either sex but herself. I have observed several, with promising dispositions, very desirous of instruction at their first setting out; but no sooner had they found their best account in it, than they were as desirous of being left to their own capacity, which they then thought would be disgraced by their seeming to want any farther assistance. But this was not Mrs. Oldfield's way of thinking; for to the last year of her life she never undertook any part she liked, without being importunately desirous of having all the helps in it that another could possibly give her. By knowing so much herself, she found how much more there was of nature yet needful to be known.

"Yet it was a hard matter to give her any hint, that she was not able to take or improve. With all this merit, she was tractable, and less presuming in her station than several that had not half her pretensions to be troublesome. But she lost nothing by her easy conduct; she had everything she asked, which she took care should be always reasonable, because she hated as much to be grudged as denied a civility. Upon her extraordinary action in the 'Provoked Husband,' the managers made her a present of fifty guineas more than her agreement, which never was more than a verbal one; for they knew she was above deserting them to engage upon any other stage, and she was conscious they would never think it their interest to give her cause of complaint. In the last two months of her illness, when she was no longer able to assist them, she declined receiving her salary, though by her agreement she was entitled to it. Upon the whole she was, to the last scene she acted, the delight of her spectators."[263]

This charming actress (Mrs. Oldfield) is said to have been the Flavia of "The Tatler" (No. 212). The catch-penny 289 writer of her memoirs equivocally speaks of it as her "vera effigies," and on his authority the assertion has been repeated. But as a Flavia mentioned in the same work (No. 239) turns out to be Miss Osborne, afterwards the wife of Bishop Atterbury (upon whom he wrote the lines on a fan there inserted, beginning

"Flavia the least and slightest toy

Can with resistless art employ,")

and as the first Flavia is praised for her quality and the extreme simplicity of her manners (which, according to Cibber, was not exactly one of the charms of Mrs. Oldfield,) the supposition, we think, falls to the ground. We need have less hesitation in admitting that Steele, who knew her well, alludes to her in another paper under her favourite title of Lady Betty Modish. Speaking of the effects of love upon a generous temper, in refining the manners, he says, "There is Colonel Ranter, who never spoke without an oath until he saw the Lady Betty Modish, now never gives his man an order, but it is, 'Pray, Tom, do it.' The drawers where he drinks live in perfect happiness. He asked Will at the George the other day, how he did? Where he used to say, 'Damn it, it is so;' he now 'believes there is some mistake; he must confess, he is of another opinion; but, however, he will not insist.'"[264] This Colonel Ranter is supposed by the commentators to have been Brigadier-General Churchill, one of the Marlborough family, who lived with Mrs. Oldfield after the death of Mr. Maynwaring. Steele elsewhere speaks of a "General" (supposed to be the same) "weeping for her, in the character of Indiana in his 'Conscious Lovers;'" upon which he said Mr. Wilks observed (for he had made all the fine gentlemen tender) that the General "would fight ne'er the worse for that."

Mrs. Oldfield's position in life was singular. With all her beauty and attraction, and the license of stage manners, she is understood to have attached herself but to two persons successively, and on the footing of a wife. The first was Mr. Maynwaring, a celebrated Whig writer, to whom one of the volumes of "The Spectator" is dedicated, and by whom she had a son; and, after his death, she lived with General Churchill, by whom she had a son also. "She left," says 'The General Biography,' "the bulk of her substance to her son Maynwaring, from whose father she had received it; 290 without neglecting, however, her other son Churchill, and her own relations."

During the period of these two connections, Mrs. Oldfield appears to have been received into the first circles, where she is described as being a pattern of good behaviour; and yet the feeling of Mr. Maynwaring's friends against the connection was so strong, that she herself, though she is understood to have had a sincere affection for him, is said to have often remonstrated with him against it as injurious to his interest. Marriage with an actress, though the example had been set by a duke, appears in neither case to have been thought of. The feeling of society seems to have been this:—"Here is a woman bred up to the stage, and passing her life upon it. It is therefore impossible she should marry a gentleman of family; and yet, as her behaviour would otherwise deserve it, and the examples of actresses are of no authority for any one but themselves, some license may be allowed to a woman who diverts us so agreeably, who attracts the society of the wits, and is so capital a dresser. We will treat her profession with contempt, but herself with consideration." Upon these curious grounds Mrs. Oldfield lived in every respect like a woman of fashion, and as she became rich (which was, perhaps, not the least of her recommendations), she was admitted into the best society, and went to court. The pretence among her visitors during both her connections probably was, that she was privately married; but she was too sincere to warrant the deception. The Princess of Wales (afterwards queen of George II.) asked her one day at a levee if her marriage with General Churchill was true. "So it is said, may it please your highness, but we have not owned it yet."—"It may appear singular," says Mr. Chalmers, who tells us this story, "to quote the late pious Sir James Stonhouse for anecdotes of Mrs. Oldfield; yet in one of his letters we are informed, that she always went to the house in the same dress she had worn at dinner in her visits to the houses of great people; for she was much caressed on account of her professional merit and her connection with Mr. Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough's brother; that she used to go to the playhouse in a chair, attended by two footmen; that she seldom spoke to any one of the actors; and was allowed a sum of money to buy her own clothes."[265] Mrs. Oldfield's 291 generosity was much admired in giving a pension to Savage, which he received regularly as long as she lived. This is what has given posterity a liking for her. When she died she lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamber, and her funeral in Westminster Abbey was attended by several noblemen, among others, as pall-bearers. Mr. Chalmers has repeated, with other biographers, that, "at her own desire," she was elegantly dressed in her coffin; on which account, it is added, Pope introduced her in the character of Narcissa:

"Odious! in wollen! 'twould a saint provoke,

(Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke);

No, let a charming chintz and Brussels lace

Wrap my cold limbs and shade my lifeless face:

One would not sure be frightful when one's dead—

And, Betty, give this cheek a little red."

But it does not appear that there is any authority for this speech, except the poet's. A letter written to her first biographer by an attendant during her last illness says, that "although she had no priest," she "prayed without ceasing," which does not look like an attention to dress; but the biographer adds, that "as the nicety of dress was her delight when living, she was as nicely dressed after her decease; being, by Mrs. Saunders' direction, thus laid in her coffin." The nicety here mentioned was, to be sure, "mortal fine."—"She had on," says the writer, "a very fine Brussels lace-head, a Holland shift with tucker, and double ruffles of the same lace; a pair of new kid gloves, and her body wrapt up in a winding sheet."[266] Yet we are of Montaigne's opinion, and know not why death should be rendered more melancholy than it is. When a tomb was opened in Greece, supposed to be that of Aspasia, there was found in it a sprig of myrtle in gold.

The next batch of players, with Garrick at their head, are Quin, Macklin, Barry, King, Woodward, Gentleman Smith, and others; with Mrs. Clive, Pritchard, Cibber, and Woffington. Garrick's later contemporaries are Parsons, Dodd, Quick, the Palmers, Miss Pope, Mrs. Abingdon, and others, who bring us down to Mrs. Siddons, Miss Farren, &c., the commencers of our own time. Of Steele and the sentimental comedy we need say no more. Goldsmith belongs to Covent Garden; Foote to the Haymarket; and Cumberland, though an elegant writer, does not call for any particular mention in an abstract like this.


When Garrick first appeared, a declamatory grandeur prevailed in tragedy, which we conceive to have arisen in the time of Charles II. It was probably handed down by Booth; and imitated, with the usual deterioration, from Betterton, who, though a true genius and a universal one, may not have been uncorrupted by the taste of the times; not to mention that it is doubtful, till Garrick appeared, whether the art of acting was not identified with something too much of an art, and the delicacy of verses expected to partake more of recitation and musical accompaniment than we now look for. Our suspicion to this effect arises from the traditional habits of the stage, one generation handing down the manner of another, and Betterton himself having been educated in the school of those who were bred up in the recollection of Burbage and Condell. Shakspeare himself, from custom, or even from some subtlety of reason, might have approved of something of this kind; though, on the other hand, in the celebrated directions of Hamlet to the players, there appears to be a secret dissatisfaction with the most applauded actors of that time, as not being exactly what was desirable. If this notion is just, and the great poet of nature was as much advanced beyond his time in this as in other respects, he might indeed have hailed such an actor as Garrick, however hyperbolically they have been sometimes put together. The best performers whom Garrick found in possession of public applause, though some of them are described as excelling in all the varieties of passion (as Mrs. Cibber, for instance, notwithstanding the different impression given of her in the following quotation), appear to have been more or less of the old declamatory school. Quin in particular, then at the head of the profession, was an avowed declaimer, having the same notions of tragedy in the delivery which his friend Thomson had in the composition. Posterity respects Quin as the friend of Thomson, and laughs with him as an epicure and a wit. Garrick and he ultimately became friends. Of the first reception of the new style introduced by Garrick, its electrical effects upon some, and the natural hesitation of others to give up their old favourites, a lively picture has been left us by Cumberland.

Speaking of himself, who was then at Westminster school, he says,—

"I was once or twice allowed to go, under proper convoy, to the play, where, for the first time in my life, I was treated by the sight 293 of Garrick in the character of Lothario. Quin played Horatio; Ryan, Altamont; Mrs. Cibber, Calista; and Mrs. Pritchard condescended to the humble part of Lavinia. I enjoyed a good view of the stage from the front row of the gallery, and my attention was rivetted to the scene. I have the spectacle even now, as it were, before my eyes. Quin presented himself, upon the rising of the curtain, in a green velvet coat, embroidered down the seams, an enormous full-bottomed periwig, rolled stockings, and high-heeled, square-toed shoes. With very little variation of cadence, and in a deep, full tone, accompanied by a sawing kind of action, which had more of the senate than of the stage in it, he rolled out his heroics with an air of dignified indifference, that seemed to disdain the plaudits that were bestowed upon him. Mrs. Cibber, in a key high pitched, but sweet withal, sung, or rather recitatived, Rowe's harmonious strain, something in the manner of the improvisatore's; it was so extremely wanting in contrast, that, though it did not wound the ear, it wearied it; when she had once recited two or three speeches, I could anticipate the manner of every succeeding one; it was like a long, old, legendary ballad of innumerable stanzas, every one of which is sung to the same tune, eternally chiming in the ear without variation or relief. Mrs. Pritchard was an actress of a different cast, had more nature, and, of course, more change of tone, and variety both of action and expression: in my opinion the comparison was decidedly in her favour; but when, after long and eager expectation, I first beheld little Garrick, then young and light and alive in every muscle and in every feature, come bounding on the stage, and pointing at the wittol Altamont and heavy-paced Horatio—heavens, what a transition!—it seemed as if a whole century had been swept over in the transition of a single scene; old things were done away and a new order at once brought forward, bright and luminous, and clearly destined to dispel the barbarisms and bigotry of a tasteless age, too long attached to the prejudices of custom, and superstitiously devoted to the illusions of imposing declamation. This heaven-born actor was then struggling to emancipate his audience from the slavery they were resigned to; and though, at times, he succeeded in throwing in some gleams of newborn light upon them, yet, in general they seemed to love darkness better than light, and, in the dialogue of altercation between Horatio and Lothario, bestowed far the greater show of hands upon the master of the old school than upon the founder of the new. I thank my stars, my feelings in those moments led me right; they were those of nature, and therefore could not err."[267]


It is needless to add that Garrick excelled in comedy as well as tragedy, and in the lowest comedy too—in Abel Drugger as well as Hamlet. He was first at Goodman's Fields; then appeared both at Covent Garden and Drury Lane; but in a short time settled for life at Drury Lane as actor, manager, and author. He was a sprightly dramatist, a man of wit, and no doubt a generous man, though the endless matters of business in which he was concerned, and the refusals of all kinds which he must have been often forced into, got him, with many, a character for the reverse. Johnson, who did not spare him, pronounced him generous. Fine as his tragedy must have been, we suspect his comedy must have been finer; because his own nature was one of greater sprightliness than sentiment. We hear nothing serious of him throughout his life; and his face, with a great deal of acuteness, has nothing in it profound or romantic.

Garrick has the reputation of improving the stage costume: but it was Macklin that did it. The late Mr. West, who was the first (in his picture of the "Death of Wolfe") to omit the absurdity of putting a piece of armour instead of a waistcoat upon a general officer, told us, that he himself once asked Garrick why he did not reform the stage in that particular. Garrick said the spectators would not allow it; "they would throw a bottle at his head." Macklin, however, persevered, and the thing was done. The other, with all his nature, seems to have had a hankering after the old dresses. He had first triumphed in them, and they suited his propensity to the airy and popular. Garrick had a particular dislike to appearing in the Roman costume. Probably in this there was a consciousness of his small person. There are many engravings of him extant, in which his tragic characters are seen in coats and toupees. His appearance as Hotspur, in a laced frock and Ramillie wig, was objected to, not as being unsuitable to the time, but as "too insignificant for the character."[268]

Of Barry, the most celebrated antagonist of Garrick, we shall speak at Covent Garden. King, according to Churchill, by the force of natural impudence as well as genius, excelled in "Brass;" and Churchill's opinions are worth attending to, 295 though he expresses them with vehemence, and by wholesale. Gentleman Smith explains his character by his title. We should entertain a very high opinion of Mrs. Pritchard, even had she left us nothing but the face in her portraits. She seems to have been a really great genius, equally capable of the highest and lowest parts. The fault objected to her was, that her figure was not genteel; and we can imagine this well enough in an actress who could pass from Lady Macbeth to Doll Common. She seems to have thrown herself into the arms of sincerity and passion, not, perhaps, the most refined, but as tragic and comic as need be. As Churchill says,

"Before such merits all objections fly,

Pritchard's genteel, and Garrick six feet high."

Clive was an admirable comic actress, of the wilful and fantastic order, and a wit and virago in private life. She became the neighbour and intimate of Horace Walpole, and always seems to us to have been the man of the two. Mrs. Woffington was an actress of all work, but of greater talents than the phrase generally implies. Davies says she was the handsomest woman that ever appeared on the stage, and that Garrick was at one time in doubt whether he should not marry her. She was famous for performing in male attire, and openly preferred the conversation of men to women—the latter she said, talking of "nothing but silks and scandal." She was the only woman admitted into one of the beef-steak clubs, and is said to have been president of it. These humours, perhaps, though Davies praises her for feminine manners, as contrasted with her antagonist Mrs. Clive, frightened Garrick out of his matrimony.

We now pass at once to Covent Garden Theatre, which lies close by. Many old play-goers who are in the habit of associating the two theatres in their fancy, like twins, will be surprised to hear that the Covent Garden establishment is very young, compared with her sister, being little more than a hundred years old. It was first built by Rich, the harlequin, and opened in 1733 under the patent granted to the Duke's company. The Covent Garden company may therefore be considered as the representatives of the old companies of Davenant and Betterton; while those at Drury Lane are the successors of Killigrew, and more emphatically the King's actors. Indeed, they exclusively designate themselves as "his Majesty's servants;" and, we believe, claim some privileges on that account. Covent Garden theatre was partly rebuilt 296 in 1772, and wholly so in 1809, having undergone the usual death by conflagration. The new edifice was a structure in classical taste, by Mr. Smirke, the portico being a copy from the Parthenon of Athens.[269]

Actors have seldom been confined to any one house; and those whom we are about to mention performed at Drury Lane as well as Covent Garden; but as they were rivals or opponents of Garrick, and may be supposed to have made the greatest efforts when they acted on a different stage, we shall speak of them apart under the present head. The first of them is Barry, who at one time almost divided the favour of of the town with Garrick, and in some characters is said to have excelled him, especially in love parts. How far this was owing to superiority of figure, and to a reputation for gallantry, it is impossible to say; and never were judgments more discordant than those which have been left us on the subject of Barry's merits. For instance, his character is thus summed up by Davies:—

"Of all the tragic actors who have trod the English stage for these last fifty years, Mr. Barry was unquestionably the most pleasing. Since Booth and Wilks, no actor had shown the public a just idea of the hero or the lover; Barry gave dignity to the one and passion to the other: in his person he was tall without awkwardness; in his countenance, handsome without effeminacy; in his uttering of passion, the language of nature alone was communicated to the feelings of an audience."

Davies proceeds to tell us, that Barry could not perform such characters as Richard and Macbeth, though he made a capital Alexander. "He charmed the ladies by the soft melody of his love-complaints, and the noble ardour of his courtship. There was no passion of the tender kind so truly pathetic and forcible in any actor as in Barry, except in Mrs. Cibber, who, indeed, excelled, in the expression of love, grief, tenderness, and jealous rage, all I ever knew. Happy it was for the frequenters of the theatre, when these two genuine children of nature united their efforts to charm an attentive audience. Mrs. Cibber, indeed, might be styled the daughter or sister of Mr. Garrick, but could be only the mistress or wife of Barry."[270] Our author afterwards calls him the 297 "Mark Antony of the stage," whether his amorous disposition was considered, or his love of expense. He delighted in giving magnificent entertainments, and treated Mr. Pelham, who once invited himself to sup with him, in a style so princely, that the Minister rebuked him for it; which was not very civil. An actor has surely as much right to do absurd things as a statesman.

Now, as a contrast to this romantic portrait by Davies, take the following from the severer but masterly hand of Churchill:—

"In person taller than the common size,

Behold where Barry draws admiring eyes;

When lab'ring passions in his bosom pent,

Convulsive rage, and struggling heave for vent,

Spectators, with imagined terrors warm,

Anxious expect the bursting of the storm:

But, all unfit in such a pile to dwell,

His voice comes forth like Echo from her cell;

To swell the tempest needful aid denies,

And all a-down the stage in feeble murmur dies.

What man, like Barry, with such pains, can err

In elocution, action, character?

What man could give, if Barry was not here,

Such well-applauded tenderness to Lear?

Who else can speak so very, very fine,

That sense may kindly end with every line?

Some dozen lines, before the ghost is there,

Behold him for the solemn scene prepare.

See how he frames his eyes, poises each limb,

Puts the whole body into proper trim,—

From whence we learn, with no great stretch of art,

Five lines hence comes a ghost, and lo! a start.

When he appears most perfect, still we find

Something which jars upon and hurts the mind.

Whatever lights upon a part are thrown,

We see too plainly they are not his own:

No flame from nature ever yet he caught,

Nor knew a feeling which he was not taught;

He raised his trophies on the base of art,

And conn'd his passions, as he conn'd his part."[271]

The probability, we fear, is that Barry was one of the old artificial school, who made his way more by person than by genius. Davies, who was a better gossip than critic, though he affected literature, was an actor himself of the mouthing order, if we are to believe Churchill; and his criticisms show him enough inclined to lean favourably to that side.

We have spoken of Quin, who acted much at this house in opposition to Garrick. It was here that he delivered the prologue 298 to the memory of his friend Thomson; and affected the audience by shedding real tears.[272]

Macklin was celebrated in Shylock; and in some other sarcastic parts, particularly that of Sir Archy, in his comedy of "Love-à-la-Mode." We take him to have been one of those actors whose performances are confined to the reflection of their own personal peculiarities. The merits of Shuter, Edwin, Quick, and others who succeeded one another as buffoons, were perhaps a good deal of this sort; but pleasant humours are rare and acceptable. Macklin was a clever satirist in his writing, and embroiled himself, not so cleverly, with a variety of his acquaintances. He foolishly attempted to run down Garrick; and once, in a sudden quarrel, poked out a man's eye with his stick and killed him; for which he narrowly escaped hanging. However, he was sorry for it; and he is spoken of, by the stage historians, as kind in his private relations, and liberal of his purse. A curious specimen of his latter moments we reserve for our mention of the house where he died.

Woodward seems to have been a caricature anticipation of Lewis, and was a capital harlequin. But nobody in harlequins beat Rich, the manager of this theatre. His pantomimes and spectacles produced a re-action against Garrick, when nothing else could; and Covent Garden ever since has been reckoned the superior house in that kind of merit,—"the wit," as Mr. Ludlow Holt called it, "of goods and chattels." However, a considerable degree of fancy and observation may be developed in pantomime: it is the triumph of animal spirits at Christmas, for the little children; and for the men there is occasionally some excellent satire on the times, reminding one, in its spirit, of what we read of the comic buffoonery of the ancients. Grimaldi, in his broad and fugitive sketches, often showed himself a shrewder observer than many a comic actor who can repeat only what is set down for him. Covent Garden has, perhaps, been superior also in music, at least since 299 the existence of the two houses together: for Purcell was before its time. Many of Arne's pieces came out here; and the famous Beard, a singer as manly as his name, the delight both of public and private life, was one of the managers.

Among the Covent Garden actors must not be forgotten Cooke, who came out there in Richard III. For some time he was the greatest performer of this and a few other characters. He was a new kind of Macklin, and like him, excelled in Shylock and Sir Archy M'Sarcasm; a confined actor, and a wayward man, but highly impressive in what he could do. His artful villains have been found fault with for looking too artful and villanous; but men of that stamp are apt to look so. The art of hiding is a considerable one; but habit will betray it after all, and stand foremost in the countenance. They who think otherwise are only too dull to see it. Besides, Cooke had generally to represent bold-faced, aspiring art; and to hug himself in its triumph. This he did with such a gloating countenance, as if villany was pure luxury in him, and with such a soft inward retreating of his voice—a wrapping up of himself, as it were, in velvet—so different from his ordinary rough way, that sometimes one could almost have wished to abuse him.

John Kemble, who, like the whole respectable family of that name, contributed much to maintain the rising character of the profession, may be considered the last popular actor of the declamatory school. His sister was a far greater performer, a true theatrical genius, especially for the stately and dominant; and had a great effect in raising the character of the profession. The growth of liberal opinion is nowhere more visible than in the different estimation in which actors and actresses are now held, compared with what it was. Individuals, it is true, always made their way into society by dint of the interest they excited; but still they were upon sufferance. Anybody could insult an actor, could even beat him, without its being dreamt that he had a right to retaliate; and the most amiable and lady-like actresses were thought unfit for wives, as we have seen in the case of Mrs. Oldfield. Things are now upon a different footing. Talent is allowed its just pretensions, whether coming from author or performer, and actresses have taken such a step, in ascension, that nobility almost seems to look out for a wife among them, as in a school that will inevitably furnish it with some kind of grace and intellect. The famous Lord Peterborough, who was the first nobleman that married an actress, kept the 300 union concealed as long as he could, and only owned it just before his death. The Duke of Bolton, who married Miss Fenton, the Polly of Gay's opera, had first had several children by her as his mistress; so that this is hardly a case in point; and the marriage of Beard, the singer, with a lady of the Waldegrave family, though he was one of the most excellent of men, was looked upon as such a degradation, that they have contrived to omit the circumstance in the peerage-books to this day! Martin Folkes's marriage with Mrs. Bradshaw probably made the world consider the case a little more rationally, as he was a clever man; but Lord Derby's marriage with Miss Farren, who was eminently the gentlewoman, as well as of spotless character, seems to have been the first that rendered such unions compatible with public opinion. Lord Craven's with Miss Brunton followed, though at a considerable interval; and since that time, the town are so far from being surprised at the marriages of actresses with people of rank or fashion, that they seem to look for them. Lord Thurlow, not long afterwards, married Miss Bolton; another noble lord was lately the husband of an eminent singer; and several other favourites of the town, Miss Tree, Miss O'Neill, &c., have become the wives of men of fortune. We remember even a dancer, Miss Searle (but she was of great elegance, and had an air of delicate self-possession), who married into a family of rank.

The whole entertainment of a theatre has been rising in point of accommodation and propriety for the last fifty years. The scenery is better, the music better—we mean the orchestra—and last, not least, the audiences are better. They are better behaved. Garrick put an end to one great nuisance—the occupation, by the audience, of part of the stage. Till his time, people often sat about a stage as at the sides of a room, and the actor had to make his way among them, sometimes with the chance of being insulted; and scuffles took place among themselves. Dr. Johnson, at Lichfield, is said to have pushed a man into the orchestra who had taken possession of his chair. The pit, also, from about Garrick's time, seems to have left to the galleries the vulgarity attributed to it by Pope. There still remains, says he—

—— "to mortify a wit,

The many-headed monster of the pit,

A senseless, worthless, and unhonoured crowd,

Who, to disturb their betters mighty proud,

Clattering their sticks before ten lines are spoke,

Call for the farce, the bear, or the black-joke."


This would now be hardly a fair description of the galleries; and yet modern audiences are not reckoned to be of quite so high a cast as they used, in point of rank and wealth; so that this is another evidence of the general improvement of manners. Boswell, in an ebullition of vivacity, while sitting one night in the pit by his friend Dr. Blair, gave an extempore imitation of a cow! The house applauded, and he ventured upon some attempts of the same kind which did not succeed. Blair advised him in future to "stick to the cow." No gentleman now-a-days would think of a freak like this. There is one thing, however, in which the pit have much to amend. Their destitution of gallantry is extraordinary, especially for a body so ready to accept the clap-traps of the stage, in praise of their "manly hearts," and their "guardianship of the fair." Nothing is more common than to see women standing at the sides of the pit benches, while no one thinks of offering them a seat. Room even is not made, though it often might be. Nay, we have heard women rebuked for coming without securing a seat, while the reprover complimented himself on his better wisdom, and the hearers laughed. On the other hand, a considerate gentleman one night, who went out to stretch his legs, told a lady in our hearing that she might occupy his seat "till he returned!"

A friend of ours knew a lady who remembered Dr. Johnson in the pit taking snuff out of his waistcoat pocket. He used to go into the green-room to his friend Garrick, till he honestly confessed that the actresses excited too much of his admiration. Garrick did not much like to be seen by him when playing any buffoonery. It is said that the actor once complained to his friend that he talked too loud in the stage box, and interrupted his feelings: upon which the doctor said, "Feelings! Punch has no feelings." It was Johnson's opinion (speaking of a common cant of critics), that an actor who really "took himself" for Richard III., deserved to be hanged; and it is easy enough to agree with him; except that an actor who did so would be out of his senses. Too great a sensibility seems almost as hurtful to acting as too little. It would soon wear out the performer. There must be a quickness of conception, sufficient to seize the truth of the character, with a coolness of judgment to take all advantages; but as the actor is to represent as well as conceive, and to be the character in his own person, he could not with impunity give way to his emotions in any degree equal to what the spectators suppose. At least, if he did, he would 302 fall into fits, or run his head against the wall. As to the amount of talent requisite to make a great actor, we must not enter upon a discussion which would lead us too far from our main object; but we shall merely express our opinion, that there is a great deal more of it among the community than they are aware.

Goldsmith was a frequenter of the theatre: Fielding and Smollett, Sterne, but particularly Churchill. "His observatory," says Davies, "was generally the first row of the pit, next the orchestra." His "Rosciad," a criticism on the most known performers of the day, made a great sensation among a body of persons who, as they are in the habit of receiving applause to their faces, and in the most victorious manner, may be allowed a greater stock of self-love than most people—a circumstance which renders an unexacting member of their profession doubly delightful. "The writer," says Davies, "very warmly, as well as justly, celebrated the various and peculiar excellencies of Mrs. Pritchard, Mrs. Cibber, and Clive; but no one has, except Garrick, escaped his satirical lash." Poor Davies is glad to say this, because of the well-known passage in which he himself is mentioned:—

"With him came mighty Davies! On my life

That Davies hath a very pretty wife."

We will make one more quotation from this poem, because it describes a class of actors, who are now extinct, and who carried the artificial school to its height:—

"Mossop, attached to military plan,

Still kept his eye fixed on his right-hand man.

Whilst the mouth measures words with seeming skill,

The right hand labours, and the left lies still;

For he resolved on scripture grounds to go,

What the right doth, the left hand shall not know.

With studied impropriety of speech,

He soars beyond the hackney critic's reach;

To epithets allots emphatic state,

Whilst principals, ungraced, like lackeys, wait;

In ways first trodden by himself excels,

And stands alone in indeclinables;

Conjunction, preposition, adverb join,

To stamp new vigour on the nervous line:

In monosyllables his thunders roll;

He, she, it, and we, ye, they, fright the soul."

Mr. Barrymore (of whom we have no unpleasing recollection) had something of this manner with him; but the extremity of the style is now quite gone out.

The only capital performers we remember, that are now dead and gone, with the exception of two or three already 303 mentioned, were Mrs. Jordan, a charming cordial actress, on the homely side of the agreeable, with a delightful voice; and Suett, who was the very personification of weak whimsicality, with a laugh like a peal of giggles. Mathews gives him to the life.

We shall conclude this chapter with some delightful play-going recollections of the best theatrical critic now living[273]—the best, indeed, as far as we know, that this country ever saw. He is one who does not respect criticism a jot too much, nor any of the feelings connected with humanity, or the imitation of it, too little. We here have him giving us an account of the impression made upon him by the first sight of a play, and concluding with a good hint to those older children, who, because they have cut their drums open, think nothing remains in life to be pleased with. A child may like a theatre, because he is not thoroughly acquainted with it; but if he become a wise man, he will find reason to like it, because he is.

Life always flows with a certain freshness in these quarters; nor, with all their drawbacks, have we more agreeable impressions from any neighbourhood in London, than what we receive from the district containing the great theatres. It is one of the most social and the least sordid.

"At the north end of Cross Court," says Mr. Lamb, "there yet stands a portal, of some architectural pretensions, though reduced to humble use, serving at present for an entrance to a printing-office. This old door-way, if you are young, reader, you may not know was the identical pit entrance to old Drury—Garrick's Drury—all of it that is left. I never pass it without shaking some forty years from off my shoulders, recurring to the evening when I passed through it to see my first play. The afternoon had been wet, and the condition of our going (the elder folks and myself) was, that the rain should cease. With what a beating heart did I watch from the window the puddles, from the stillness of which I was taught to prognosticate the desired cessation. I seem to remember the last spurt, and the glee with which I ran to announce it.

"In those days were pit orders. Beshrew the uncomfortable manager who abolished them!—with one of these we went. I remember the waiting at the door—not that which is left—but between that and an inner door, in shelter. Oh, when shall I be such an expectant again!—with the cry of nonpareils, an indispensable playhouse accompaniment in those days. As near as I can recollect, the fashionable pronunciation of the theatrical fruiteresses was, 'chase some oranges, chase some nonpareils, chase a bill of the play:' chase pro chuse. But when we got in and I beheld the green 304 curtain that veiled a heaven to my imagination, which was soon to be disclosed—the breathless anticipations I endured! I had seen something like it in the plate prefixed to 'Troilus and Cressida,' in Rowe's 'Shakspeare,'—the tent scene with Diomede; and a sight of that plate can always bring back, in a measure, the feeling of that evening. The boxes at that time full of well-dressed women of quality, projected over the pit; and the pilasters, reaching down, were adorned with a glittering substance (I know not what) under glass (as it seemed), resembling—a homely fancy—but I judged it to be sugar-candy—yet, to my raised imagination, divested of its homelier qualities, it appeared a glorified candy! The orchestra lights at length arose, those 'fair Auroras!' Once the bell sounded. It was to ring out yet once again; and, incapable of the anticipation, I reposed my shut eyes in a sort of resignation upon the maternal lap. It rang the second time. The curtain drew up—I was not past six years old—and the play was 'Artaxerxes!'

"I had dabbled a little in the 'Universal History'-the ancient part of it—and here was the court of Persia. It was being admitted to a sight of the past. I took no proper interest in the action going on, for I understood not its import; but I heard the word Darius, and I was in the midst of Daniel. All feeling was absorbed in vision. Gorgeous vests, gardens, palaces, princes, passed before me—I knew not players. I was in Persepolis for the time, and the burning idol of their devotion almost converted me into a worshipper. I was awe-struck, and believed those significations to be something more than elemental fires. It was all enchantment and a dream. No such pleasure has ever since visited me but in dreams. Harlequin's invasion followed; where, I remember, the transformation of the magistrates into reverend beldames seemed to me a piece of grave historic justice, and the tailor carrying his own head to be as sober a verity as the legend of St. Denys.

"The next play to which I was taken, was the 'Lady of the Manor,' of which, with the exception of some scenery, very faint traces are left in my memory. It was followed by a pantomime called 'Lun's Ghost'—a satiric touch, I apprehend, upon Rich, not long since dead—but to my apprehension (too sincere for satire) Lun was as remote a piece of antiquity as Lud—the father of a line of harlequins—transmitting his dagger of lath (the wooden sceptre) through countless ages. I saw the primeval Motley come from his silent tomb in a ghastly vest of white patch-work, like the apparition of a dead rainbow. So harlequins (thought I) look when they are dead.

"My third play followed in quick succession. It was 'The Way of the World.' I think I must have sat at it as grave as a judge; for, I remember, the hysteric affectations of good Lady Wishfort affected me like some solemn tragic passion. 'Robinson Crusoe' followed, in which Crusoe, Man Friday, and the Parrot were as good and authentic as in the story. The clownery and pantaloonery of these pantomimes have clean passed out of my head. I believe I no more laughed at them, than at the same age I should have been disposed to laugh at the grotesque gothic heads (seeming to me then replete with devout meaning) that gape and grin, in stone, around the inside of the old round church (my church) of the Templars.

"I saw these plays in the season of 1781-2, when I was from six to seven years old. After the intervention of six or seven years (for at school all play-going was inhibited) I again entered the doors of a 305 theatre. That old Artaxerxes' evening had never done ringing in my fancy. I expected the same feelings to come again with the same occasion. But we differ from ourselves less at sixty and sixteen, than the latter does from six. In that interval what had I not lost! At the first period I knew nothing, understood nothing, discriminated nothing. I felt all, loved all, wondered all—

'Was nourished I could not tell how.'

I had left the temple a devotee, and was returned a rationalist. The same things were there materially; but the emblem, the reverence was gone! The green curtain was no longer a veil drawn between two worlds, the unfolding of which was to bring back past ages, to present a 'royal ghost,' but a certain quantity of green baize, which was to separate the audience for a given time from certain of their fellow-men who were to come forward and pretend those parts. The lights—the orchestra lights—came up, a clumsy machinery. The first ring, and the second ring, was now but a trick of the prompter's bell, which had been like the note of the cuckoo, a phantom of a voice, no hand seen or guessed at, which ministered to its warning. The actors were men and women painted. I thought the fault was in them; but it was in myself, and the alteration which those many centuries—of six short twelvemonths—had wrought in me. Perhaps it was fortunate for me that the play of the evening was but an indifferent comedy, as it gave me time to crop some unreasonable expectations, which might have interfered with the genuine emotions with which I was soon after enabled to enter upon the first appearance, to me, of Mrs. Siddons in Isabella. Comparison and retrospection soon yielded to the present attraction of the scene; and the theatre became to me, upon a new stock, the most delightful of recreations."—Elia, p. 221.




Bow Street once the Bond Street of London—Fashions at that time—Infamous frolic of Sir Charles Sedley and others—Wycherly and the Countess of Drogheda—Tonson the Bookseller—Fielding—Russell Street—Dryden beaten by hired ruffians in Rose Street—His Presidency at Will's Coffee-House—Character of that Place—Addison and Button's Coffee-House—Pope, Philips, and Garth—Armstrong—Boswell's introduction to Johnson—The Hummums—Ghost Story there—Covent Garden—The Church—Car, Earl of Somerset—Butler, Southern, Eastcourt, Sir Robert Strange—Macklin—Curious Dialogue with him when past a century—Dr. Walcot—Covent Garden Market—Story of Lord Sandwich, Hackman, and Miss Ray—Henrietta Street—Mrs. Clive—James Street—Partridge, the almanack-maker—Mysterious lady—King Street—Arne and his Father—The four Indian Kings—Southampton Row—Maiden Lane—Voltaire—Long Acre and its Mug-Houses—Prior's resort there—Newport Street—St. Martin's Lane, and Leicester Square—Sir Joshua Reynolds—Hogarth—Sir Isaac Newton.


Bow Street was once the Bond Street of London. Mrs. Bracegirdle began an epilogue of Dryden's with saying—

"I've had to-day a dozen billet-doux

From fops, and wits, and cits, and Bow-street beaux;

Some from Whitehall, but from the Temple more:

A Covent-garden porter brought me four."

Sir Walter Scott says, in a note on the passage, "With a slight alteration in spelling, a modern poet would have written Bond Street beaux. A billet-doux from Bow Street would now be more alarming than flattering."[274]

Mrs. Bracegirdle spoke this epilogue at Drury Lane. There was no Covent Garden theatre then. People of fashion occupied the houses in Bow Street, and mantuas floated up and down the pavement. This was towards the end of the Stuart's reign, and the beginning of the next century—the times of Dryden, Wycherly, and the Spectator. The beau of Charles's time is well-known. He wore, when in full flower, a peruke to imitate the flowing locks of youth, a Spanish hat, clothes of slashed silk or velvet, the slashes tied with ribands, 307 a coat resembling a vest rather than the modern coat, and silk stockings, with roses in his shoes. The Spanish was afterwards changed for the cocked hat, the flowing peruke for one more compact; the coat began to stiffen into the modern shape, and when in full dress, the beau wore his hat under his arm. His grimaces have been described by Dryden—

"His various modes from various fathers follow;

One taught the toss, and one the new French wallow;

His sword-knot this, his cravat that designed;

And this the yard-long snake that twirls behind.

From one the sacred periwig he gained,

Which wind ne'er blew, nor touch of hat profaned.

Another's diving bow he did adore,

Which with a shog casts all the hair before,

Till he, with full decorum, brings it back,

And rises with a water-spaniel shake."[275]

One of these perukes would sometimes cost forty or fifty pounds. The fair sex at this time waxed and waned through all the varieties of dishabilles, hoop-petticoats, and stomachers. We must not enter upon this boundless sphere, especially as we have to treat upon it from time to time. We shall content ourselves with describing a set of lady's clothes, advertised as stolen in the year 1709, and which would appear to have belonged to a belle resolved to strike even Bow Street with astonishment. They consisted of "a black silk petticoat, with a red-and-white calico border; cherry-coloured stays, trimmed with blue and silver; a red and dove-coloured damask gown, flowered with large trees; a yellow satin apron, trimmed with white Persian; muslin head-cloths, with crowfoot edging; double ruffles with fine edging; a black silk furbelowed scarf, and a spotted hood!"[276] It is probable, however, the lady did not wear all these colours at once.

A tavern in Bow Street, the Cock, became notorious for a frolic of Sir Charles Sedley, Lord Buckhurst, and others, frequently mentioned in the biographies, but too disgusting to be told. There was an account of it in Pepys' manuscript, but it was obliged to be omitted in the printing. Anthony à Wood found it out, and first gave it to the public. It was not commonly dissolute, there was a filthiness in it, which would have been incredible if told of any other period than that of 308 the fine gentlemen of the court of Charles. What can be repeated has been told by Johnson in his life of Sackville, Lord Dorset.

"Sackville, who was then Lord Buckhurst, with Sir Charles Sedley, and Sir Thomas Ogle, got drunk at the Cock, in Bow Street, by Covent Garden, and going into the balcony, exposed themselves to the company in very indecent postures. At last, as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth naked, and harangued the populace in such profane language, that the public indignation was awakened; the crowd attempted to force the door, and being repulsed, drove in the performers with stones, and broke the windows of the house. For this misdemeanour they were indicted, and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds; what was the sentence of the others is not known. Sedley employed Killegrew and another to procure a remission of the King, but (mark the friendship of the dissolute!) they begged the fine for themselves, and exacted it to the last groat."

Opposite this tavern lived Wycherly, with his wife, the Countess of Drogheda. Charles paid him a visit there, before Wycherly knew the lady; and showed him a kindness which his marriage is said to have interrupted. The story begins and ends with Bow Street, and, as far as concerns the lady, is curious.

"Mr. Wycherly," says the biographer, "happened to be ill of a fever at his lodgings in Bow Street, Covent Garden: during his sickness, the King did him the honour of a visit: when, finding his fever indeed abated, but his body extremely weakened, and his spirits miserably shattered, he commanded him to take a journey to the south of France, believing that nothing could contribute more to the restoring his former state of health than the gentle air of Montpelier during the winter season: at the same time, the King assured him, that as soon as he was able to undertake the journey, he would order five hundred pounds to be paid him to defray the expenses of it.

"Mr. Wycherly accordingly went to France, and returned to England the latter end of the spring following, with his health entirely restored. The King received him with the utmost marks of esteem, and shortly after told him he had a son, who he resolved should be educated like the son of a king, and that he could make choice of no man so proper to be his governor as Mr. Wycherly; and that, for this service, he should have fifteen hundred pounds a-year allotted to him; the King also added, that when the time came that his office should cease, he would take care to make such a provision for him as should set him above the malice of the world and fortune. These were golden prospects for Mr. Wycherly, but they were soon by a cross accident dashed to pieces.

"Soon after this promise of his Majesty's, Mr. Dennis tells us that Mr. Wycherly went down to Tunbridge, to take either the benefit of the waters or the diversions of the place, when, walking one day upon the Wells-walk with his friend, Mr. Fairbeard, of Gray's Inn, just as he came up to the bookseller's, the Countess of Drogheda, a young widow, rich, noble, and beautiful, came up to the bookseller 309 and inquired for the 'Plain Dealer.' 'Madam,' says Mr. Fairbeard, 'since you are for the "Plain Dealer," there he is for you,' pushing Mr. Wycherly towards her. 'Yes,' says Mr. Wycherly, 'this lady can bear plain-dealing, for she appears to be so accomplished, that what would be a compliment to others, when said to her would be plain-dealing.' 'No, truly, sir,' said the lady, 'I am not without my faults more than the rest of my sex: and yet, notwithstanding all my faults, I love plain-dealing, and am never more fond of it than when it tells me of a fault.' 'Then, Madam,' says Mr. Fairbeard, 'you and the plain dealer seem designed by heaven for each other.' In short, Mr. Wycherly accompanied her upon the walks, waited upon her home, visited her daily at her lodgings whilst she stayed at Tunbridge; and after she went to London, at her lodgings in Hatton Garden: where, in a little time, he obtained her consent to marry her. This he did, by his father's command, without acquainting the King; for it was reasonably supposed, that the lady's having a great independent estate, and noble and powerful relations, the acquainting the King with the intended match would be the likeliest way to prevent it. As soon as the news was known at court, it was looked upon as an affront to the King, and a contempt of his Majesty's orders; and Mr. Wycherly's conduct after marrying made the resentment fall heavier upon him: for being conscious he had given offence, and seldom going near the court, his absence was construed into ingratitude.

"The Countess, though a splendid wife, was not formed to make a husband happy; she was in her nature extremely jealous; and indulged in it to such a degree, that she could not endure her husband should be one moment out of her sight. Their lodgings were in Bow Street, Covent Garden, over against the Cock Tavern, whither, if Mr. Wycherly at any time went, he was obliged to leave the windows open, that his lady might see there was no woman in the company."[277]

"The Countess," says another writer, "made him some amends by dying in a reasonable time." His title to her fortune, however, was disputed, and his circumstances, though he had property, were always constrained. He was rich enough however to marry a young woman a few days before he died, in order to disappoint a troublesome heir. In his old age he became acquainted with Pope, then a youth, who vexed him by taking him at his word, when asked to correct his poetry. Wycherly showed a candid horror at growing old, natural enough to a man who had been one of the gayest of the gay, very handsome, and a "Captain." He was captain in the regiment of which Buckingham was colonel. We have mentioned the Duchess of Cleveland's visits to him when a student in the Temple. Wycherly is the greatest of all our comic dramatists for truth of detection in what is ill, as Congreve is the greatest painter of artificial life, and Farquhar and 310 Hoadley the best discoverers of what is pleasant and good-humoured. When the profligacy of writers like Wycherly is spoken of, we should not forget that much of it is not only confined to certain characters, but that the detection of these characters leaves an impression on the mind highly favourable to genuine morals. A modern critic, as excellent in his remarks on the drama as the one quoted at the conclusion of our last chapter is upon the stage, says on this point, speaking of the comedy of the "Plain Dealer,"—"The character of Manly is violent, repulsive, and uncouth, which is a fault, though one that seems to have been intended for the sake of contrast; for the portrait of consummate, artful hypocrisy in Olivia, is, perhaps, rendered more striking by it. The indignation excited against this odious and pernicious quality by the masterly exposure to which it is here subjected, is 'a discipline of humanity.' No one can read this play attentively without being the better for it as long as he lives. It penetrates to the core; it shows the immorality and hateful effects of duplicity, by showing it fixing its harpy fangs in the heart of an honest and worthy man. It is worth ten volumes of sermons. The scenes between Manly, after his return, Olivia, Plausible, and Norel, are instructive examples of unblushing impudence, of shallow pretensions to principle, and of the most mortifying reflections on his own situation, and bitter sense of female injustice and ingratitude on the part of Manly. The devil of hypocrisy and hardened assurance seems worked up to the highest pitch of conceivable effrontery in Olivia, when, after confiding to her cousin the story of her infamy, she, in a moment, turns round upon her for some sudden purpose, and affecting not to know the meaning of the other's allusions to what she had just told her, reproaches her with forging insinuations to the prejudice of her character, and in violation of their friendship. 'Go! you're a censorious woman.' This is more trying to the patience than anything in the Tartuffe."

Tonson, the great bookseller of his time, had a private house in Bow Street. Rowe, in an amusing parody of Horace's dialogue with Lydia, has left an account of old Jacob's visitors here, and of his style of language.

Tonson got rich, but he was penurious; and his want of generosity towards Dryden (to say the least of it) has done him no honour with posterity. It may be said that he cared little for posterity or for anything else, provided he got his 311 money; but a man who cares for money (unless he is a pure miser) only cares for power and consideration in another shape; and no man chooses to be disliked by his fellow-creatures, living, or to come. In the correspondence between Tonson and Dryden, we see the usual painful picture (when the bookseller is of this description) of the tradesman taking all the advantages, and the author made to suffer for being a gentleman and a man of delicacy. This is the common, and, perhaps, the natural order of things, till society see better throughout; though there have been, and still are, some handsome exceptions, as in the instances of Dodsley, the late Mr. Johnson, and others. The bookseller generally behaves well, in proportion to his intelligence; nothing being so eager to catch all petty advantages as the consciousness of having no other ground to go upon. It may be answered that Dryden's patience with Tonson sometimes got exhausted, and he became "captious and irritable:" and it is always to be remembered that the bookseller need not pretend to be anything more than a tradesman seeking his allowed profits; but he should not on every occasion retreat into the strongholds of trade, and yet claim the merit of acting otherwise; and Tonson, who undertook to be the familiar friend of Rowe and Congreve, ought not to have been able to insult the man whom they both respected, because he was not so well off as they. The following passage of mingled amusement and painfulness is out of Sir Walter Scott:—

"Dryden," says Sir Walter, in his life of the poet, "seems to have been particularly affronted at a presumptuous plan of that publisher (a keen whig, and Secretary to the Kit-Cat Club) to drive him into inscribing the translation of 'Virgil' to King William. With this view Tonson had an especial care to make the engraver aggravate the nose of Eneas in the plates into a sufficient resemblance of the hooked promontory of the Deliverer's countenance, and foreseeing Dryden's repugnance to his favourite plan, he had recourse, it would seem, to more unjustifiable means to further it; for the poet expresses himself as convinced that, through Tonson's means, his correspondence with his sons, then at Rome, was intercepted. I suppose Jacob, having fairly laid siege to his author's conscience, had no scruple to intercept all foreign supplies, which might have confirmed him in his pertinacity. But Dryden, although thus closely beleagured, held fast his integrity; and no prospect of personal advantage, or importunity on the part of Tonson, could induce him to take a step inconsistent with his religious and political sentiments. It was probably during the course of these bickerings with his publisher, that Dryden, incensed at some refusal of accommodation on the part of Tonson, 312 sent him three well-known coarse and forcible satirical lines descriptive of his personal appearance:—

'With leering looks, bull-faced, and freckled fair,

With two left legs, and Judas-coloured hair,

And frouzy pores, that taint the ambient air.'

"'Tell the dog,' said the poet to the messenger, 'that he who wrote these can write more.' But Tonson, perfectly satisfied with this single triplet, hastened to comply with the author's request, without requiring any further specimen of his poetical powers. It would seem, on the other hand, that when Dryden neglected his stipulated labour, Tonson possessed powers of animadversion, which, though exercised in plain prose, were not a little dreaded by the poet. Lord Bolingbroke, already a votary of the Muses, and admitted to visit their high-priest, was wont to relate, that one day he heard another person enter the house. 'This,' said Dryden, 'is Tonson; you will take care not to depart before he goes away, for I have not completed the sheet which I promised him; and if you leave me unprotected, I shall suffer all the rudeness to which his resentment can prompt his tongue.'"[278]

Fielding lived some time in Bow Street, probably during his magistracy.

We turn out of Bow Street into Russell Street, so called from the noble family of that name, who possess great property in this quarter. It is pleasant to think that the name is accordant with the reputation of the place, for we are more than ever in the thick of wits and men of letters, especially of a race which was long peculiar to this country, literary politicians. At the north-east corner of the two streets was the famous Will's coffee-house, formerly the Rose, where Dryden presided over the literature of the town; and on the other side of the way, on a part of the site of the present Hummums, stood Button's coffee-house, no less 313 celebrated as the resort of the wits and poets of the time of Queen Anne.

Dryden is identified with the neighbourhood of Covent Garden. He presided in the chair at Russell Street; his plays came out in the theatre at the other end of it; he lived in Gerrard Street, which is not far off; and, alas! for the anti-climax! he was beaten by hired bravos in Rose Street, now called Rose Alley. Great men come down to posterity with their proper aspects of calmness and dignity; and we do not easily fancy that they received anything from their contemporaries but the grateful homage which is paid them by ourselves. "But the life of a wit," says Steele, "is a warfare upon earth." Sir Walter Scott, speaking of the beautiful description given by Dryden of the Attic nights he enjoyed with Sir Charles Sedley and others, observes, "He had not yet experienced the disadvantages attendant on such society, or learned how soon literary eminence becomes the object of detraction, of envy, of injury, even from those who can best feel its merit, if they are discouraged by dissipated habits from emulating its flight, or hardened by perverted feeling against loving its possessors."[279]

The outrage perpetrated upon the sacred shoulders of the poet was the work of Lord Rochester, and originated in a mistake not creditable to that would-be great man and dastardly debauchee. The following is Sir Walter's account of the matter.

"The 'Essay on Satire' (by Lord Mulgrave, afterwards Duke of Buckinghamshire), though written, as appears from the title-page of the last edition, in 1675, was not made public until 1679, with this observation:—I have sent you herewith a libel, in which my own share is not the least. The king having perused it, is no way dissatisfied with his. The author is apparently Mr. Dr[yden], his patron Lord M[ulgrave], having a panegyric in the midst. From hence it is evident that Dryden obtained the reputation of being the author; in consequence of which, Rochester meditated the base and cowardly revenge which he afterwards executed; and he thus coolly expressed his intention in another of his letters:—'You write me word that I am out of favour with a certain poet, whom I have admired for the disproportion of him and his attributes. He is a rarity which I cannot but be fond of, as one would be of a hog that could fiddle, or a singing owl. If he falls on me at the blunt, which is his very good weapon in wit, I will forgive him if you please, and leave the repartee to black Will with a cudgel.'

"In pursuance of this infamous resolution, upon the night of the 18th December, 1679, Dryden was waylaid by hired ruffians, and 314 severely beaten, as he passed through Rose Street, Covent Garden, returning from Will's coffee-house to his own house in Gerrard Street. A reward of fifty pounds was in vain offered in the 'London Gazette' and other newspapers, for the discoverers of the perpetrators of this outrage. The town was, however, at no loss to pitch upon Rochester as the employer of the bravos, with whom the public suspicion joined the Duchess of Portsmouth, equally concerned in the supposed affront thus avenged. In our time, were a nobleman to have recourse to hired bravos to avenge his personal quarrels against any one, more especially a person holding the rank of a gentleman, he might lay his account with being hunted out of society. But in the age of Charles, the ancient high and chivalrous sense of honour was esteemed Quixotic, and the civil war had left traces of ferocity in the manners and sentiments of the people. Encounters, where the assailants took all advantages of number and weapons, were as frequent, and held as honourable, as regular duels. Some of these approached closely to assassination; as in the famous case of Sir John Coventry, who was waylaid and had his nose slit by some young men of rank, for a reflection upon the King's theatrical amours. This occasioned the famous statute against maiming and wounding, called the Coventry Act, an Act highly necessary, for so far did our ancestors' ideas of manly forbearance differ from ours, that Killegrew introduces the hero of one of his comedies, a cavalier, and the fine gentleman of the piece, lying in wait for, and slashing the face of a poor courtezan, who had cheated him.

"It will certainly be admitted, that a man, surprised in the dark, and beaten by ruffians, loses no honour by such a misfortune. But if Dryden had received the same discipline from Rochester's own hand, without resenting it, his drubbing could not have been more frequently made a matter of reproach to him: a sign, surely, of the penury of subjects for satire in his life and character, since an accident, which might have happened to the greatest hero that ever lived, was resorted to as an imputation on his honour. The Rose Alley ambuscade became almost proverbial; and even Mulgrave, the real author of the satire, and upon whose shoulders the blows ought in justice to have descended, mentions the circumstance in his 'Art of Poetry,' with a cold and self-sufficient sneer:—

'Though praised and punished for another's rhymes,

His own deserve as great applause sometimes.'

To which is added in a note, 'A libel for which he was both applauded and wounded, though entirely ignorant of the whole matter.' This flat and conceited couplet, and note, the noble author judged it proper to omit in the corrected edition of his poem. Otway alone, no longer the friend of Rochester, and, perhaps, no longer the enemy of Dryden, has spoken of the author of this dastardly outrage with the contempt it deserved:—

'Poets in honour of the truth should write,

With the same spirit brave men for it fight;

And though against him causeless hatreds rise,

And daily where he goes of late, he spies

The scowls of sudden and revengeful eyes;

'Tis what he knows with much contempt to bear.

And serves a cause too good to let him fear,


He fears no poison from incensed drab,

No ruffian's five-foot sword, nor rascal's stab;

Nor any other snares of mischief laid,

Not a Rose-alley cudgel ambuscade;

From any private cause where malice reigns,

Or general pique all blockheads have to brains.'"[280]

We dismiss this specimen of the times, that we may enjoy the look of Dryden as posterity sees it,—that is to say, as that of the first poet of his class, presiding over the tastes and aspirations of the town. Milton sat in his suburban bower, equally removed from outrage and compliment, and contemplating a still greater futurity. In the following passage from the 'Country and City Mouse,' by Prior and Montagu, Dryden, it is true, is spoken of with hostility, but his acknowledged predominance shines through it. Prior's instinct misgave him in writing against his natural master.

"Then on they jogg'd; and since an hour of talk

Might cut a banter on the tedious walk,

As I remember, said the sober mouse,

I've heard much talk of the Wits' Coffee-house;

Thither, says Brindle, thou shalt go and see

Priests supping coffee, sparks and poets tea;

Here rugged frieze, there quality well drest,

These baffling the grand Senior, those the Test,

And there shrewd guesses made, and reasons given,

That human laws were never made in heaven;

But, above all, what shall oblige thy sight,

And fill thy eye-balls with a vast delight,

Is the poetic judge of sacred wit,

Who does i' th' darkness of his glory sit;

And as the moon who first receives the light,

With which she makes these nether regions bright,

So does he shine, reflecting from afar

The rays he borrowed from a better star;

For rules, which from Corneille and Rapin flow,

Admired by all the scribbling herd below,

From French tradition while he does dispense

Unerring truths, 'tis schism, a damned offence,

To question his, or trust your private sense."[281]

Will's Coffee-house was at the western corner of Bow Street. It first had the title of the Red Cow, then of the Rose; and we believe is the same house alluded to in the pleasant story in the second number of the 'Tatler:'—

"Supper and friends expect we at the Rose."

The Rose, however, was a common sign for houses of public entertainment. The company, of which our poet was 316 the arbiter, sat up-stairs in what was then called the dining, but now the drawing-room; and there was a balcony, to which his chair was removed in summer from its prescriptive corner by the fire-side in winter. "The appeal," says Malcolm, "was made to him upon every literary dispute. The company did not sit in boxes, as at present, but at various tables which were dispersed through the room. Smoking was permitted in the public room: it was then so much in vogue that it does not seem to have been considered a nuisance. Here, as in other similar places of meeting, the visitors divided themselves into parties; and we are told by Ward, that the young beaux and wits, who seldom approached the principal table, thought it a great honour to have a pinch out of Dryden's snuff-box."[282]

A lively specimen of a scene with Dryden in this coffee-house has been afforded us by Dean Lockier. "I was about seventeen when I first came up to town," says the Dean, "an odd-looking boy, with short rough hair, and that sort of awkwardness which one always brings up at first out of the country with one. However, in spite of my bashfulness and appearance, I used, now and then, to thrust myself into Will's, to have the pleasure of seeing the most celebrated wits of that time, who then resorted thither. The second time that ever I was there, Mr. Dryden was speaking of his own things, as he frequently did, especially of such as had been lately published. 'If anything of mine is good,' says he, ''tis "Mac-Flecno;" and I value myself the more upon it, because it is the first piece of ridicule written in heroics.' On hearing this I plucked up my spirit so far as to say, in a voice but just loud enough to be heard, 'that "Mac-Flecno" was a very fine poem, but that I had not imagined it to be the first that was ever writ that way.' On this, Dryden turned short upon me, as surprised at my interposing; asked me how long 'I had been a dealer in poetry; and added, with a smile, 'Pray, sir, what is it that you did imagine to have been writ so before?'—I named Boileau's 'Lutrin,' and Tassoni's 'Secchia Rapita,' which I had read, and knew Dryden had borrowed some strokes from each. ''Tis true,' said Dryden, 'I had forgot them.' A little after, Dryden went out, and in going, spoke to me again, and desired me to come and see him the next day. I was highly delighted with the invitation; 317 went to see him accordingly; and was well acquainted with him after, as long as he lived."[283]

Dryden's mixture of simplicity, good-nature, and good opinion of himself, is here seen in a very agreeable manner. It must not be omitted, that it was to this house Pope was taken when a boy, by his own desire, on purpose to get a sight of the great man; which he did. According to Pope, he was plump, with a fresh colour and a down look, and not very conversable. It appears, however, that what he did say was much to the purpose; and a contemporary mentions his conversation on that account as one of the few things for which the town was desirable. He was a temperate man; though, for the last ten years of his life, Davies informs us that he drank with Addison a great deal more than he used to do, "probably so far as to hasten his end."

It is curious, considering his peculiar sort of reputation with posterity, that Addison's name should be found so connected in his own time with this species of irregularity. The same cause is supposed to have hastened his own end; and it is related by Pope, that he was obliged to avoid the Russell Street Coffee-house, and the bad hours of Addison, otherwise they might have hastened his.

Will's Coffee-house was the great emporium of libels and scandal. The channels that have since abounded for the dregs of literature had scarcely then begun to exist; and, instead of purveying for periodical publications, the retailers of obloquy attended among the minor wits of this place, and distributed the last new lampoon in manuscript. There was a drunken fellow of that time, named Julian, who acquired an infamous celebrity in this way. Sir Walter Scott, in his edition of Dryden, has given the following account of him and his vocation.

"The extremity of license in manners necessarily leads to equal license in personal satire, and there never was an age in which both were carried to such excess as in that of Charles II. These personal and scandalous libels acquired the name of lampoons, from the established burden formerly sung to them:—

'Lampone lampone, camerada lampone,'

"Dryden suffered under these violent and invisible assaults, as much as any of his age; to which his own words in several places of his writing, and also the existence of many of the pasquils themselves in the Luttrel Collection, bear ample witness. In many of his prologues and epilogues, he alludes to this rage for personal satire, and 318 to the employment which it found for the half and three-quarter wits and courtiers of the time!

'Yet these are pearls to your lampooning rhymes;

Ye abuse yourselves more dully than the times;

Scandal, the glory of the English nation,

Is worn to rags, and scribbled out of fashion:

Such harmless thrusts, as if, like fencers wise,

They had agreed their play before their prize.

Faith, they may hang their harp upon the willows;

'Tis just like children when they box their pillows.'

"Upon the general practice of writing lampoons, and the necessity of finding some mode of dispersing them, which should diffuse the scandal widely while the authors remained concealed, was founded the self-erected office of Julian, Secretary, as he calls himself, to the Muses. This person attended Will's, the Wits' Coffee-house, as it was called; and dispersed among the crowds who frequented that place of gay resort copies of the lampoons which had been privately communicated to him by their authors. 'He is described,' says Mr. Malone, 'as a very drunken fellow, and at one time was confined for a libel.' Several satires were written, in the form of addresses to him as well as the following. There is one among the 'State Poems,' beginning—

'Julian, in verse, to ease thy wants I write,

Not moved by envy, malice or by spite,

Or pleased with the empty names of wit and sense,

But merely to supply thy want of pence:

This did inspire my muse, when out at heel, She saw her needy secretary reel;

Grieved that a man, so useful to the age,

Should foot it in so mean an equipage;

A crying scandal that the fees of sense

Should not be able to support the expense

Of a poor scribe, who never thought of wants,

When able to procure a cup of Nantz.'

"Another, called a 'Consoling Epistle to Julian,' is said to have been written by the Duke of Buckingham.

"From a passage in one of the letters from the 'Dead to the Living,' we learn, that after Julian's death, and the madness of his successor, called Summerton, lampoon felt a sensible decay; and there was no more that 'brisk spirit of verse, that used to watch the follies and vices of the men and women of figure, that they could not start new ones faster than lampoons exposed them."[284]

These "brisk spirits" have still their descendants, and always will have till their betters cease to set the example of railing, or to encourage it. There is a difference, indeed, between the lampoons of such men and those of Dryden, or the literary personalities to which some ingenious minds will give way, before they well know what they are about, out of mere emulation, perhaps, of the names of Pope and Boileau. But it is not to be expected that the others will 319 stop where they do, or refine with the progress of their years and knowledge. The most generous sometimes find it difficult to leave off saying ill-natured things of one another, out of shame of yielding, or the habit of indulging their irritability. They endeavour to reconcile themselves to it by trying to think that the abuse has a utility; but when they come to this point, the doubt is a proof that they ought to forego it, and help to teach the world better. Honest contention, however, is one thing, and scandal is another. The dealer in the latter has always a petty mind and inferior understanding, most likely accompanied with conscious unworthiness; the great secret of the love of scandal lying in the wish to level others with the calumniators.

"Will's continued to be the resort of the wits at least till 1710," says Mr. Malcolm. "Probably Addison established his servant [Button] in a new house about 1712, and his fame after the production of 'Cato,' drew many of the Whigs thither."[285]

"Addison," says Pope, "passed each day alike; and much in the manner that Dryden did. Dryden employed his mornings in writing, dined en famille, and then went to Will's: only he came home earlier a'nights." And again: "Addison usually studied all the morning; then met his party at Button's; dined, and staid there five or six hours; and sometimes far into the night. I was of the company for about a year, but found it too much for me: it hurt my health, and so I quitted it."[286]

Button had been a servant of the Countess of Warwick, whom Addison married. It is said that when the latter was dissatisfied with the Countess (we believe during the period of his courtship), he used to withdraw the company from her servant's coffee-house. Unfortunately it is as easy to believe a petty story of Addison as a careless one of Steele. Addison, intellectually a great man, was complexionally a little one. He was timid, bashful, and reserved, and instinctively sought success by private channels and disingenous measures.

Under the influence of these eminent persons, Button's became the head-quarters of the Whig literati, as Will's had been that of the Tory. Steele, however, dated his poetical papers in the 'Tatler' from Will's, as the old haunt of the town muse. Perhaps the Whiggery of Button's was one of the reasons why Pope left off going there, as he did not wish to identify himself with either party. Ambrose Philips is said to have hung up a rod at that coffee-house, as an intimation of what Pope should receive at his hands, in case the 320 satirist chose to hazard it. A similar threat is related of Cibber. The behaviour of both has been cried out against as unhandsome, considering the little person and bodily infirmities of the illustrious offender: but as the threateners were so much his inferiors in wit, and he exercised his great powers at their expense, it might not be difficult to show that their conduct was as good as his. Why attack a man, if he is to be allowed no equality of retaliation? The truth is, that personal satire is itself an unhandsome thing, and a childish one, and there will be no end to childish retorts, till the more grown understandings reform. Pope accused Philips of pilfering his pastorals, and of "turning a Persian tale for half-a-crown;" the one an offence not very likely, unless, indeed, all common-places may be said to be stolen; the other no offence at all, though it might have been a misfortune. These littlenesses in great men are a part of the childhood of society. They show us how young it still is, and what a parcel of wrangling schoolboys (in that respect) a future period may consider us.

One of the most agreeable memories connected with Button's is that of Garth, a man whom, for the sprightliness and generosity of his nature, it is a pleasure to name. He was one of the most amiable and intelligent of a most amiable and intelligent class of men—the physicians.

Armstrong, another poet and physician and not unworthy of either class, for genius and goodness of heart, though he had the weakness of affecting a bluntness of manners, and of swearing, drew his last breath in this street. He is well known as the author of the most elegant didactic poem in the language,—the 'Art of Preserving Health.' The affectations of men of genius are sometimes in direct contradiction to their best qualities, and assumed to avoid a show of pretending what they feel. Armstrong, who had bad health, and was afraid perhaps of being thought effeminate, affected the bully in his prose writings; and he was such a swearer, that the late Mr. Fuseli's indulgence in that infirmity has been attributed to his keeping company with the Doctor when a youth. We never met with a habitual swearer in whom the habit could not be traced to some feeling of conscious weakness. Fuseli swore as he painted, in the hope of making up for the defects of his genius by the violence of his style.

At No. 8, Russell Street, Boswell was introduced to his formidable friend of whom he became the biographer. The 321 house then belonged to Davies the bookseller. The account given us of his first interview is highly characteristic of both parties. Boswell had a thorough specimen of his future acquaintance at once, and Johnson evidently saw completely through Boswell.

"Mr. Thomas Davies, the actor," saith the particular Boswell, "who then kept a bookseller's shop in Russell Street, Covent Garden, told me that Johnson was very much his friend, and came frequently to his house, where he more than once invited me to meet him; but by some unlucky accident or other he was prevented from coming to us.

"Mr. Thomas Davies was a man of good understanding and talents, with the advantage of a liberal education. Though somewhat pompous, he was an entertaining companion; and his literary performances have no inconsiderable share of merit. He was a friendly and very hospitable man. Both he and his wife (who had been celebrated for her beauty), though upon the stage for many years, maintained an uniform decency of character, and Johnson esteemed them, and lived in as easy an intimacy with them as any family which he used to visit. Mr. Davies recollected several of Johnson's remarkable sayings, and was one of the best of the many imitators of his voice and manner, while relating them. He increased my impatience more and more to see the extraordinary man whose works I highly valued, and whose conversation was reported to be so peculiarly excellent.

"At last," continues Mr. Boswell, "on the 16th of May, when I was sitting in Mr. Davies's back parlour, after having drank tea with him and Mrs. Davies, Johnson unexpectedly came into the shop, and Mr. Davies having perceived him through the glass-door in the room in which we were sitting, advancing towards us—he announced his awful approach somewhat as an actor in the part of Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on the appearance of his father's ghost, 'Look, my lord, it comes.' I found that I had a very perfect idea of Johnson's figure, from the portrait of him painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds soon after he had published his 'Dictionary,' in the attitude of sitting in his easy chair in deep meditation; which was the first picture his friend did for him, which Sir Joshua very kindly presented to me, and from which an engraving has been made for this work. Mr. Davies mentioned my name, and respectfully introduced me to him; I was much agitated, and recollecting his prejudice against the Scotch, of which I had heard much, I said to Davies, 'Don't tell where I come from.'—'From Scotland,' cried Davies, roguishly. 'Mr. Johnson,' said I, 'I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.' I am willing to flatter myself that I meant this as light pleasantry to soothe and conciliate him, and not as a humiliating abasement at the expense of my country. But however that might be, this speech was somewhat unlucky; for with that quickness of wit for which he was so remarkable, he seized the expression 'come from Scotland!' which I used in the sense of being of that country; and, as if I had come away from it, or left it, retorted, 'That, sir, I find, is what a great many of your countrymen cannot help.' This stroke stunned me a good deal; and when we had sat down, I felt myself not a little embarrassed, and apprehensive of what might come next. He then addressed himself 322 to Davies: 'What do you think of Garrick? he has refused me an order for the play for Miss Williams, because he knows the house will be full, and that an order will be worth three shillings.' Eager to take any opening to get into conversation with him, I ventured to say, 'O, sir, I cannot think Mr. Garrick would grudge such a trifle to you.' 'Sir (said he, with a stern look,) I have known David Garrick longer than you have done; and I know no right you have to talk to me on the subject.' Perhaps I deserved this check; for it was rather presumptuous in me, an entire stranger, to express any doubt of the justice of his animadversion upon his old acquaintance and pupil. I now felt myself much mortified, and began to think that the hope I had long indulged of obtaining his acquaintance was blasted. And, in truth, had not my ardour been uncommonly strong, and my resolution uncommonly persevering, so rough a reception might have deterred me for ever from making any further attempts. Fortunately, however, I remained upon the field, not wholly discomfited." * * * "I was highly pleased with the extraordinary vigour of his conversation, and regretted that I was drawn away from it by an engagement at another place. I had, for a part of the evening, been left alone with him, and had ventured to make an observation now and then, which he received very civilly; so that I was satisfied that, though there was a roughness in his manner, there was no ill-nature in his disposition. Davies followed me to the door, and when I complained to him a little of the hard blows which the great man had given me, he kindly took upon him to console me by saying, 'Don't be uneasy. I can see he likes you very well.'"[287]

The Hummums Hotel and Coffee-house which occupies the south-west corner of this street, and stretches round into Covent Garden market, is so called from an eastern word signifying baths. It was one of the earliest houses set up in England of that kind, and thence called bagnios; and one of the few that retained their respectability. The generality were so much the reverse, that the word bagnio came to mean a brothel. It appears from a story we are about to relate, that people went to the Hummums not only to bathe, but to get themselves cupped. Bathing is too much neglected in this country; but the consequences of our sedentary habits have forced upon us a greater degree of attention to it, and the imitation of the Turkish system of cleanliness has been carried further in vapour baths and the startling luxury of shampooing, which makes people discover that they have in general two or three skins too many. Englishmen, in the pride of their greater freedom, often wonder how Eastern nations can endure their servitude. This is one of the secrets by which they endure it. A free man in a dirty skin is not in so fit a state to endure existence as a slave with a clean one; because nature insists, that a due attention to the clay which 323 our souls inhabit, shall be the first requisite to the comfort of the inhabitant. Let us not get rid of our freedom; let us teach it rather to those that want it; but let such of us as have them, by all means get rid of our dirty skins. There is now a moral and intellectual commerce among mankind, as well as an interchange of inferior goods; we should send freedom to Turkey as well as clocks and watches, and import not only figs, but a fine state of the pores.

Of the Hummums there is a ghost-story in Boswell, a thing we should as little dream of in this centre of the metropolis, as look for a ghost at noonday. The reader will see how much credit is to be given it, by the style of the narrator, who, with all his good-will towards superstition (and it is no less a person that speaks than Dr. Johnson), had an inveterate love of truth, which led him to defeat his own object.

"Amongst the numerous prints," says Boswell, "pasted on the walls of the dining-room at Streatham, was 'Hogarth's Modern Midnight Conversation.' I asked him what he knew of Parson Ford, who makes a conspicuous figure in the riotous group. Johnson. 'Sir, he was my acquaintance and relation,—my mother's nephew. He had purchased a living in the country, but not simoniacally. I never saw him but in the country. I have been told that he was a man of great parts, very profligate, but I never heard he was impious.' Boswell. 'Was there not a story of his ghost having appeared?' Johnson. 'Sir, it was believed. A waiter at the Hummums, in which house Ford died, had been absent some time, and returned, not knowing that Ford was dead. Going down to the cellar, according to the story, he met him; going down again he met him a second time. When he came up, he asked some people of the house what Ford could be doing there. They told him Ford was dead. The waiter took a fever, in which he lay for some time. When he recovered he said he had a message to deliver to some women from Ford; but he was not to tell what, or to whom. He walked out; he was followed; but somewhere about St. Paul's they lost him. He came back, and said he had delivered the message, and the women exclaimed, 'Then we are all undone!' Dr. Pellett, who was not a credulous man, inquired into the truth of this story, and he said, the evidence was irresistible. My wife went to the Hummums (it is a place where people get themselves cupped). I believe she went with intention to hear about this story of Ford. At first they were unwilling to tell her; but after they had talked to her, she came away satisfied that it was true. To be sure the man had a fever; and this vision may have been the beginning of it. But if the message to the women, and their behaviour upon it, were true as related, there was something supernatural. That rests upon his word: and there it remains.'"[288]

At the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth, Covent Garden (or, as it would be more properly spelt, Convent Garden[289]) 324 extended from Drury Lane to St. Martin's Lane, and was surrounded by a brick wall. It had lately belonged to the abbots of Westminster, whom it supplied, doubtless, with fruit and vegetables, as it has since done the metropolis, and hence its appellation. The reader will see it in the old print of London by Aggas. There was a break into it on the south-west, made by the garden of Bedford House, which stood facing the Strand between the present Bedford and Southampton Streets. On the dissolution of the monasteries, Covent Garden was given to the Duke of Somerset, and on his fall, to John, Earl of Bedford, whose family converted it into a pasture ground, including Long Acre, then part of the fields leading to St. Giles's. His descendant Francis, about seventy years afterwards, let the whole pasture on a building lease, and built the old church for the intended inhabitants. The architect was Inigo Jones. To the same hand we are indebted for the portico of the north-eastern quarter, which still remains. There was a continuation of it on the south-east, which was burnt down. It was to have been carried all round the square, and the absence of it might be regretted on the score of beauty; but porticoes are not fit for this climate, unless where the object is to furnish a walk during the rain. Covered walks devoted to that purpose, and conveniently distributed, might be temptations to out-of-door exercise in bad weather. If they succeeded, they would effect a very desirable end. But covered walks, however beautiful, which are not used in that way, are rather to be deprecated in this cold and humid climate. In Italy, where the summer sun at noon-day burns like a cauldron, they are much to the purpose; but the more sun we can get in England the better. Luckily, there is a convenience in this portico, as far as the theatre is concerned; otherwise the circuit would be more agreeable without it, and the coffee-houses of the place more light and cheerful.

Of the style of building observed in the church there is a well-known story. "The Earl is said to have told Inigo Jones he wished to have as plain and convenient a structure as possible, and but little better than a barn; to which the architect replied, he would build a barn, but that it should be the handsomest in England."[290]


Inigo Jones's church was burnt down in the year 1795, owing to the carelessness of some plumbers who were mending the roof. "When the flames were at their height," says Malcolm, "the portico and massy pillars made a grand scene, projected before a back-ground of liquid fire, which raged with so much uncontrolled fury, that not a fragment of wood, in or near the walls, escaped destruction."[291]


The barn-like taste, or in other words the Grecian (for usefulness and simplicity are the secrets of it, and the Temple of Theseus and a common barn have the same principles of structure), was copied in the new edifice. By a passage quoted in the Londinium Redivivum from the Weekly Journal of April 22, 1727, it appears that the portico of the old church had been altered by the inhabitants, and restored by the Earl of Burlington, "out of regard to the memory of the celebrated Inigo Jones, and to prevent our countrymen being exposed for their ignorance." The spirit of this portico has been retained, and the church of St. Paul's Covent garden is one of the most pleasing structures in the metropolis.

A great many actors have been buried in this spot; among them, Eastcourt the famous mimic, Edwin, Macklin, and King. We shall speak of one or two of them presently, but it is desirable, especially in a work of this kind, to observe a chronological order. The mere observance itself conveys information. 326 Among the variety of persons buried here may be mentioned, first:

Car, Earl of Somerset, in the old church. His burial in Covent Garden was, doubtless, owing to his connection with the family of Russell, his daughter having married William, afterwards Earl and Duke of Bedford, father of the famous patriot. It is said that his lady was bred up in such ignorance of the dishonour of her parents, that having met by accident with a book giving an account of it, she fainted away, and was found in that condition by her domestics. Her lover's family were very averse to the match, but wisely allowed it upon due trial, and had no reason to repent their generosity. To read the history of the foolish and unprincipled Countess of Somerset, who would suppose that her daughter was to give birth to the conscientious martyr for liberty? But the blood which folly makes wicked, a good education may render noble.

Butler in the church-yard. The popular notion that he was starved is unfounded; but he was very ill-treated by a court whom his wit materially served. It is said that Charles, once and away, gave him a hundred pounds. This is possible; but it is at least as possible that he gave him nothing, though he would willingly have done it, perhaps, had his debaucheries left him the means. Charles, in his way, was as poor as Butler, though not as honourably so, for it does not appear that the poet was unwilling to labour for his subsistence. There is a mystery, however, in Butler's private affairs. He once appears to have had some office in the family of the Countess of Kent. Perhaps he was not a very good man of business, though the learning exhibited in 'Hudibras' showed how he could work on a favourite subject. When men succeed to this extent in what nature evidently designs them for, great allowance is to be made for their disinclination to other tasks; and Butler had no children to render the neglect of his fortune criminal. The Duke of Buckingham, who once undertook to "do something for him," and had a meeting for the purpose at a coffee-house, saw a pander of his go by the window with a "brace of ladies," and going after him, we hear no more of his Grace. Luckily, to prevent him from starvation, Butler found a friend in the excellent Mr. Longueville of the Temple, a scholar and a real gentleman, who did not confine his generosity to an admiration of him in books. The poet is understood to have been indebted 327 to him for support during the latter part of his life; and it was he who buried him in this church-yard. It is to Mr. Longueville that we are indebted for the publication of Butler's "Remains," which are quite worthy of the wit of "Hudibras," and deserve to be more generally known. Butler was the greatest wit that ever wrote in verse; perhaps the greatest that ever wrote at all, meaning by wit the union of remote ideas. He was undoubtedly the most learned. His political poem is out of date; and much of the humour that delighted the cavaliers must, of necessity, be lost to us; but passages of it will always be repeated; and it is difficult to hear his name mentioned, without quoting some of his rhymes. He was the first man that gave rhyme itself an air of wit. His couplets are not only witty themselves, but seem to add a new idea to their imagery in the very sounds at the end of them. His startling turns of thought are accompanied by as surprising a turn in the cadence, as if the echo itself could not help laughing. Thus his doctor's shop is

"—— stored with deletery medicines,

Which whosoever took is dead since:"

his sour religionists

"Compound for sins they are inclined to,

By damning those they have no mind to:"

and again,

"Synods are mystical bear-gardens,

Where elders, deputies, church-wardens,

And other members of the court,

Manage the Babylonish sport;

For prolocutor, scribe, and bear-ward,

Do differ only in a mere word:

Both are but several synagogues

Of carnal men, and bears, and dogs:

Both antichristian assemblies

To mischief bent, as far's in them lies."

His most quoted rhyme, when

"—— Pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,

Was beat with fist instead of a stick,

is, singularly enough, no rhyme at all; but the surprise of the echo, and the truth conveyed in it, affect us as if it were perfect. Here are one or two more of the wilful order, very ludicrous:—

"—— The captive knight

And pensive squire, both bruised in body

And conjured into safe custody.


—— in all the fabrick

You could not see one stone or a brick.

Who deals in destiny's dark counsels,

And sage opinions of the moon sells.

Those wholesale critics that in coffee-

Houses cry down all philosophy."

Mrs. Pilkington tells us that Swift took down a "Hudibras" one day, and ordered her to examine him in the book, when, to her great surprise, she found he remembered "every line, from beginning to end of it."[292] Mrs. Pilkington is a lady whose word is to be taken cum multis granis; nor is it very likely she should ever have heard the Dean repeat a whole volume through; but if Swift knew any author entire, Butler is likely to have been the man. Butler had the same politics, the same love of learning, the same wit, the same apparent contempt of mankind, the same charity underneath it, and the same impatient wish to see them wiser. His style of writing is evidently the origin of Swift's. If the reader is not yet acquainted with his 'Remains,' the following sample or two will give him a desire to be so:—

"The truest characters of ignorance

Are vanity, and pride, and arrogance;

As blind men use to bear their noses higher,

Than those who have their eyes and sight intire."

"There needs no other charm, nor conjuror,

To raise infernal spirits up, but fear;

That makes men pull their horns in like a snail,

That's both a prisoner to itself, and jail;

Draws more fantastic shapes than in the grains

Of knotted wood, in some men's crazy brains,

When all the cocks they think they see, and bulls,

Are only in the inside of their skulls."

Sir Peter Lely, the painter of the meretricious beauties of the court of Charles II.—Pope's couplet on him is well known:—

"Lely on animated canvass stole

The sleepy eye that spoke the melting soul."

The canvass is more sleepy than animated, and the ladies more like what they were in inclination than in features. However, there is a great likeness on that very account. They are all of a sisterhood;—qualem non decet esse sororum. A master of pictorial criticism has said of the collection of them at Windsor Castle, that "they look just like what they 329 were, a set of kept-mistresses, painted, tawdry, showing off their theatrical or meretricious airs and graces, without one trace of real elegance or refinement, or one spark of sentiment to touch the heart. Lady Grammont is the handsomest of them; and though the most voluptuous in her attire and attitude, the most decent. The Duchess of Portsmouth (Cleveland), in her helmet and plumes, looks quite like a heroine of romance, or modern Amazon; but for an air of easy assurance, inviting admiration, and alarmed at nothing but being thought coy, commend us to my Lady —— above, in the sky-blue drapery, thrown carelessly over her shoulders. As paintings, these celebrated portraits cannot rank very high. They have an affected ease, but a real hardness of manner and execution; and they have that contortion of attitude and setness of features, which we afterwards find carried to so disgusting and insipid an excess in Kneller's portraits. Sir Peter Lely was, however, a better painter than Sir Godfrey Kneller—that is the highest praise that can be accorded to him. He had more spirit, more originality, and was the livelier coxcomb of the two! Both these painters possessed considerable mechanical dexterity, but it is not of a refined kind. Neither of them could be ranked among great painters, yet they were thought by their contemporaries and themselves superior to every one. At the distance of a hundred years we see the thing plainly enough."[293] Sir Peter was a Westphalian, of a family named Vander Vaas. His father was an officer in the army, who, having been born in a perfumer's house which had a lily for its sign, got the name of Captain Du Lys, or Lely, and the cognomen was retained by his son. He aimed at magnificence in his style of living, probably in imitation of his predecessor at the English court, Vandyke; but there was a certain coarseness about him which showed the inferiority of his taste in that particular, as well as in the rest.

Wycherly in the Church. See Bow Street.

Southern, one of those dramatic writers who, without much genius, succeed in obtaining a considerable name, and justly, by dint of genuine feeling for common nature. He began in Dryden's time, who knew and respected his talents, was known and respected by Pope, and lived to enjoy a similar regard from Gray. "I remember," says Oldys, "this venerable old gentleman, when he lived in Covent Garden, and used to 330 frequent the evening prayers in the church there. He was always neat and decently dressed, commonly in black, with his silver sword, and silver locks." Gray, in a letter to Walpole, dated Burnham, in Buckinghamshire, 1737, says, "We have old Mr. Southern at a gentleman's house, a little way off, who often comes to see us; he is now seventy-seven years old, and has almost wholly lost his memory; but is as agreeable an old man as can be; at least I persuade myself so when I look at him, and think of Isabella and Oroonoko." Southern died about nine years after this period, aged about eighty-five. With all the respect he obtained, probably a great deal more by the decency and civility of his habits than by his genius, Southern, it appears, was not above making application to the nobility and others to buy tickets for his plays.

Joe Haines, the comedian. See Drury Lane.

Eastcourt, the comedian—or mimic, rather—for, like most players who devote themselves to mimicry, which is a kind of caricature portrait-painting, his comedy or general humour was inferior to it. He was, however, a man of wit as well as a mimic; and, in spite of a talent which seldom renders men favourites in private, was so much regarded, that, when the Beef-steak Club was set up (which a late author says must not be confounded with the Beef-steak Club held in Covent Garden Theatre and the Lyceum), Eastcourt was appointed provveditore or caterer, and presented as a badge of distinction with a small gridiron of gold, which he wore about his neck fastened to a green ribbon. He is said at one time to have been a tavern-keeper, in which quality (unless it was in the other) Parnell speaks of him in the beginning of one of his poems:—

Gay Bacchus liking Estcourt's wine

A noble meal bespoke us,

And for the guests that were to dine

Brought Comus, Love, and Jocus.[294]


But his greatest honour is the following remarkable testimony borne to his merits by Sir Richard Steele, whose own fineness of nature was never more beautifully evinced in any part of his writings:—

"Poor Eastcourt! the last time I saw him we were plotting to show the town his great capacity for acting in his full light, by introducing 332 him as dictating to a set of young players, in what manner to speak this sentence and utter t'other passion. He had so exquisite a discerning of what was defective in any object before him, that in an instant he could shew you the ridiculous side of what would pass for beautiful and just, even to men of no ill judgment, before he had pointed at the failure. He was no less skilful in the knowledge of beauty; and, I dare say, there is no one who knew him well, but can repeat more well-turned compliments, as well as smart repartees of Mr. Eastcourt's, than of any other man in England. This was easily to be observed in his inimitable faculty of telling a story, in which he would throw in natural and unexpected incidents to make his court to one part, and rally the other part of the company. Then he would vary the usage he gave them, according as he saw them bear kind or sharp language. He had the knack to raise up a pensive temper and mortify an impertinently gay one, as he saw them bear kind or sharp language.

"It is an insolence natural to the wealthy, to affix, as much as in them lies, the character of a man to his circumstances. Thus it is ordinary with them to praise faintly the good qualities of those below them, and say, it is very extraordinary in such a man as he is, or the like, when they are forced to acknowledge the value of him whose lowness upbraids their exaltation. It is to this humour only that it is to be ascribed, that a quick wit in conversation, a nice judgment upon any emergency that could arise, and a most blameless inoffensive behaviour, could not raise this man above being received only upon the foot of contributing to mirth and diversion. But he was as easy under that condition as a man of so excellent talents was capable; and since they would have it that to divert was his business, he did it with all the seeming alacrity imaginable, though it stung him to the heart that it was his business. Men of sense, who could taste his excellencies, were well satisfied to let him lead the way in conversation, and play after his own manner; but fools, who provoked him to mimicry, found he had the indignation to let it be at their expense who called for it; and he would show the form of conceited heavy fellows as jests to the company at their own request, in revenge for interrupting him from being a companion, to put on the character of a jester.

"What was peculiarly excellent in this memorable companion was, that in the accounts he gave of persons and sentiments, he did not only hit the figure of their faces, and manner of their gestures, but he would in his narration fall into their very way of thinking, and this when he recounted passages wherein men of the best wit were concerned, as well as such wherein were represented men of the lowest rank of understanding. It is certainly as great an instance of self-love to a weakness, to be impatient of being mimicked, as any can be imagined. There were none but the vain, the formal, the proud, or those who were incapable of mending their faults, that dreaded him; to others he was in the highest degree pleasing, and I do not know any satisfaction of any indifferent kind I ever tasted so much as having got over an impatience of seeing myself in the air he could put me when I have displeased him. It is indeed to his exquisite talent this way, more than any philosophy I could read on the subject, that my person is very little of my care; and it is indifferent to me what is said of my shape, my air, my manner, my speech, or my address. It is to poor Eastcourt I chiefly owe that I am arrived at the happiness of thinking nothing a diminution to me, but what argues a depravity of my will.


"I have been present with him among men of the most delicate taste a whole night, and have known him (for he saw it was desired) keep the discourse to himself the most part of it, and maintain his good humour with a countenance and in a language so delightful, without offence to any person or thing upon earth, still preserving the distance his circumstances obliged him to; I say, I have seen him do all this in such a charming manner, that I am sure none of those I hint at will read this without giving him some sorrow for their abundant mirth, and one gush of tears for so many bursts of laughter I wish it were any honour to the pleasant creature's memory that my eyes are too much suffused to let me go on."[295]

Closterman in the church-yard. He was an indifferent, but once popular artist, whom we mention on account of his painful domestic end. He had a mistress, whom he thought devoted to him. She robbed him of everything she could lay her hands on, money, plate, jewels, and moveables, and fled out of the kingdom. He pined away with an impaired understanding, and was soon brought to the grave. Closterman was once set in competition with Sir Godfrey Kneller. He painted the family of the Duke of Marlborough, and had so many disputes about the picture with the Duchess, that Marlborough said to him, "It has given me more trouble to reconcile my wife and you, than to fight a battle."

Arne, the celebrated musician, in the church-yard. See King Street.

Sir Robert Strange, the greatest engraver, perhaps, this country has seen; that is to say, supposing the merits of an engraver to be in proportion to his relish for and imitation of his originals. Other men may have drawn a finer mechanical line, but none have surpassed Strange in giving the proper diversity of surfaces, or equalled him in transferring to hard copper the roundness and delicacy of flesh. His engravings from Titian almost convey something of the colours of that great painter. Like all true masters, Strange took pains with whatever he did, and bestowed attention on every part of it; so much indeed, that his love for his art appears to have been an exhausting one, and he was anxious to keep the burin out of the hands of his children. He had seen a great deal of the world, and was a very amiable as well as intelligent man. When young he was a great Jacobite, and fought sword-in-hand for the Pretender; though it is said that a main cause of his ardour was the hope of attaining the hand of a fair friend, 334 equally devoted to the cause. It is pleasant to add, that he did attain it, and that she made him a good wife. Sir Robert was a Scotchman of a good family; but his knighthood came from George the Third, a few years before the artist's death.

Macklin, the comedian, in the church-yard, at the age of one hundred and seven, and upwards. We have spoken of him before in his stage character. His long age in the midst of cities and theatres is very remarkable. It seems to have been owing to the inheritance of a robust constitution—the great cause of longevity next to temperance, perhaps the greatest, unless contradicted by the reverse. Most persons who have been long-lived have had long-lived progenitors; but somebody must begin. The foundation is always temperance. Macklin must have been very lucky in his physical advantages, for he did not keep any very strict rein over his temper; nor does he appear to have followed any regimen, till latterly, and then he consulted the immediate ease of his stomach, and not the quality of what he took. However, his habits, whatever they were, were most likely regular. "It had been his constant rule," says his biographer, "for a period of thirty years and upwards, to visit a public-house called the Antelope, in White Hart Yard, Covent Garden, where his usual beverage was a pint of beer called stout, which was made hot and sweetened with moist sugar, almost to a syrup. This, he said, balmed his stomach, and kept him from having any inward pains."[296] The same writer, in a report of a conversation he had with Mr. Macklin, has left us an affecting but not unpleasing picture of the decay of faculties, remarkable to the very last for their shrewdness and vivacity. It is the liveliest picture of old mortality we ever met with.

Question. "Well, Mr. Macklin, how do you do to-day?"

Answer. "Why, I hardly know, sir; I think I am a little better than I was in the morning."

Q. "Why, sir, did you feel any pain in the morning?"

A. "Yes, sir, a good deal."

Q. "In what part?"

A. "Why, I feel a sort of a—a—a—" (shaking his head), "I forget everything; I forget the word: I felt a kind of pain here" (putting his hand upon his left breast),—"but it is gone away, and I am better now."

Q. "How do you sleep, sir?"

A. "Not so well as I could wish; I am becoming more wakeful 335 than usual; I awoke last night two or three times: I got up twice, walked about my room here, and then went to bed again."

Q. "Do you always get up when you awake, sir?"

A. "No, sir, not always; but I get up and walk about as soon as I feel myself—there, now, it is all gone" (putting his hand upon his forehead).

Q. "You get up, sir, I suppose, as soon as you feel yourself uneasy in bed?"

A. "Yes, sir, when I begin to be troublesome to myself."

Q. "Do not you, sir, find it unpleasant to walk about here alone, and to have nobody to converse with?"

A. "Not at all, sir, I get up when I am tired abed, and I walk about till I am tired, and then I go to bed again; and so forth."

Q. "But does it not afford you great pleasure when any person comes to see you?"

A. "Why, not so much as one would expect, sir."

Q. "Are you not pleased when your friends come and converse with you?"

A. "I am always very happy to see my friends, and I should be very happy to hold a—a—a, see there now...."

Q. "A conversation you mean, sir?"

A. "Ay, a conversation. Alas! sir, you see the wretched state of my memory—see there now, I could not recollect that common word—but I cannot converse. I used to go to a house very near this where my friends assemble ... it was a—a—a [a company] no, that's not the word, a—a—club, I mean. I was the father of it, but I could not hear all; and what I did hear, I did not—a—a—under—under—understand; they were all very attentive to me, but I could not be one of them. I always feel an uneasiness, when I don't know what the people are talking about. Indeed, I found, sir, that I was not fit to keep company—so I stay away."

Q. "Have you been reading this morning, sir?"

A. "Yes, sir."

Q. "What book?"

A. "I forget:—here, look at it;"—handing the book.

Q. "I see, it is Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'"

[He then took the book out of my hand and said:—"I have only read this much" (about four pages) "these two days—but what I read yesterday, I have forgot to-day." He next read a few lines of the beginning inimitably well, and laying down the book, said] "I understand all that, but if I read any farther, I forget that passage which I understood before."

Q. "But I perceive with satisfaction, sir, that your sight is very good."

A. "Oh, sir, my sight, like everything else, begins to fail too; about two days ago I felt—a—a—there now ... I have lost it—a pain just above my left eye, and heard something give a crack, and ever since, this eye (pointing to the left) has been painful."

Q. "I think, sir, it would be advisable for you to refrain from reading a little time."

A. "I believe you are in the right, sir."

Q. "I think you appear at present free from pain?"

A. "Yes, sir, I am pretty comfortable now: but I find my—my—my strength is all gone. I feel myself going gradually." 336

Q. "But you are not afraid to die?"

A. "Not in the least, sir—I never did any person any serious mischief in my life:—even when I gambled, I never cheated:—I know that a—a—a—see, now—death, I mean, must come, and I am ready to give it up" (meaning the ghost).

Q. "I understand you were at Drury Lane theatre last night?"

A. "Yes, sir, I was there."

Q. "Yes, sir, the newspapers of this morning take notice of it."

A. "Do they?"

Y. "Yes, sir;—the paragraph runs thus:—'Among the numerous visitors at Drury Lane Theatre last night, we observed the Duke of Queensbury and the veteran Macklin, whose ages together amount to one hundred and ninety-six."

Mr. Macklin. "The Duke of who?"

A. "The Duke of Queensbury, sir."

Mr. Macklin. "I don't know that man. The Duke of Queensbury! The Duke of Queensbury! Oh! ay, I remember him now very well:—The Duke of Queensbury old! Why, sir, I might be his father! ha! ha! ha!"

Q. "Well, sir, I understand that you went to the Haymarket Theatre to see the 'Merchant of Venice?'"

A. "I did, sir."

Q. "What is your opinion of Mr. Palmer's Shylock?"

[This question was answered by a shake of the head. Being desirous of hearing his opinion I asked him the second time.]

Mr. Macklin.—"Why, sir, my opinion is, that Mr. Palmer played the character of Shylock in one style. In this scene there was a sameness, in that scene a sameness, and in every scene a sameness: it was all same! same! same!—no variation. He did not look the character, nor laugh the character, nor speak the character of Shakspeare's Jew. In the trial scene, where he comes to cut the pound of flesh, he was no Jew. Indeed, sir, he did not hit the part, nor the part did not hit him."[297]

This conversation took place in September 1796: in July 1797 he died.

Dr. Walcot, better known by the name of Peter Pindar. He was a coarse and virulent satirist, and content to write so many common-places, that they will stifle his works with posterity, with the exception of a few pieces. His humour, however, was genuine of its kind. His caricatures are striking likenesses; and the innocent simplicity which he is fond of affecting makes a ludicrous contrast with his impudence. Dr. Walcot's largest poems are worth little, and his serious worth nothing. What we think likely to last in the collections, are his "Bozzy and Piozzi," his 'Royal visit to Whitbread's Brewhouse,' one or two more of that stamp, some of his "Odes to Academicians," and the immortal 337 "Pilgrims and the Peas," the hero of which is assuredly hobbling to this day, and will never arrive. Dr. Walcot was a man of taste in the fine arts, and produced some landscapes, which we believe do credit to his pencil. We have never seen them. His critical good taste is not to be disputed, though the Academicians, at one time, would have given a great deal to find it wanting. He was latterly blind, but maintained his spirits to the last. He had a fine skull, which he was not displeased to be called upon to exhibit, taking his wig off, and saying "There," with a lusty voice; which formed a singular contrast with the pathos attached to the look of blind eyes.

Covent Garden market has always been the most agreeable in the metropolis, because it is devoted exclusively to fruit, flowers, and vegetables. A few crockery-ware shops make no exceptions to this "bloodless" character. The seasons here regularly present themselves in their most gifted looks,—with evergreens in winter, the fresh verdure of spring, all the hues of summer, and whole loads of desserts in autumn. The country girls who bring the things to market at early dawn are a sight themselves worthy of the apples and roses; the good-natured Irish women who attend to carry baskets for purchasers are not to be despised, with the half-humorous, half pathetic tone of their petitions to be employed; and the ladies who come to purchase, crown all. No walk in London, on a fine summer's day, is more agreeable than the passage through the flowers here at noon, when the roses and green leaves are newly watered, and blooming faces come to look at them in those cool and shady avenues, while the hot sun is basking in the streets. On these occasions we were very well satisfied with the market in its old state. The old sheds, and irregular avenues, when dry, assorted well with the presence of leaves and fruits. They had a careless picturesque look, as if a bit of an old suburban garden had survived from ancient times.

Nothing, however, but approbation can be bestowed on the convenient and elegant state into which the market has been raised by the magnificence of the noble proprietor, whose arms we are glad to see on the side next James Street. They are a real grace to the building and to the owner, for they are a stamp of liberality. In time we hope to see the roofs of the new market covered with shrubs and flowers, nodding over the balustrades, and fruits and red berries sparkling in 338 the sun.[298] As an ornament, nothing is more beautiful in combination than the fluctuating grace of foliage and the stability of architecture. And, as a utility, the more air and sun the better. There is never too much sun in this country, and every occasion should be seized to take advantage of it.

The space between the church and the market is the scene of Hogarth's picture of the 'Frosty Morning.' Here in general take place the elections for Westminster. Sheridan has poured forth his good things in this spot, and Charles Fox won the hearts of multitudes. It would be an endless task to trace the recollections connected with the coffee-houses under the portico. Perhaps there is not a name of celebrity in the annals of wit or the stage, between the reigns of Charles II. and the present sovereign, which might not be found concerned in the clubs or other meetings which they have witnessed, particularly those of Garrick, Hogarth, and their contemporaries. Sir Roger de Coverley has been there, a person more real to us than nine-tenths of them. When in town he lodged in Bow Street.

Opposite the Bedford Coffee-house a tragical scene took place, the particulars of which are interesting. The Earl of Sandwich, grandson of Charles II.'s Earl of Sandwich, and first Lord of the Admiralty during the North administration, had for his mistress a Miss Ray, whom he had rendered as accomplished as she was handsome. Some say that she was the daughter of a labourer at Elstree, others of a stay-maker in Covent Garden. Her father is said to have had a shop in that way of business in Holywell Street in the Strand. Miss Ray was apprenticed at an early age to a mantua-maker in Clerkenwell Close, with whom she served her time out and obtained a character that did her honour. A year or two after the expiration of this period she was taken notice of by Lord Sandwich, who gave her a liberal education; rendered her a proficient in his favourite arts of music and singing; and made her his mistress. He was old enough to be her father.

Lord Sandwich was in the habit of having plays and music at his house, particularly the latter. At Christmas the musical performance was an oratorio, for, "to speak seriously," says Mr. Cradock, "no man was more careful than Lord Sandwich not to trespass on public decorum." This gentleman, in his 339 Memoirs, has furnished us with accounts which will give a livelier idea of the situation of Miss Ray in his Lordship's house than any formal abstract of them.

"Plays at Hinchinbrook had ceased before I had ever been in company with Lord Sandwich, and oratorios for a week at Christmas had been substituted. Miss Ray, who was the first attraction, was instructed in music both by Mr. Bates and Signor Giardini. Norris and Champness regularly attended the meetings, and there were many excellent amateur performers; the Duke of Manchester's military band assisted, and his Lordship himself took the kettle-drums to animate the whole. 'Non nobis, Domine,' was sung after dinner, and then catches and glees succeeded; all was well conducted, for whatever his Lordship undertook he generally accomplished, and seemed to have adopted the emphatic advice of Longinus, 'always to excel.' Miss Ray, in her situation, was a pattern of discretion; for when a lady of rank, between one of the acts of the oratorio, advanced to converse with her, she expressed her embarrassment; and Lord Sandwich, turning privately to a friend, said, 'As you are well acquainted with that lady, I wish you would give her a hint, that there is a boundary line in my family I do not wish to see exceeded; such a trespass might occasion the overthrow of all our music meetings.'

"From what I have collected, Miss Ray was born in Hertfordshire, in 1742, and that his lordship first saw her in a shop in Tavistock Street where he was purchasing some neckcloths. This was all that Mr. Bates seemed to have ascertained, for both his lordship and the lady were equally cautious of communicating anything on the subject. From that time her education was particularly attended to, and she proved worthy of all the pains that were taken with her. Her voice was powerful and pleasing, and she has never been excelled in that fine air of Jephtha, 'Brighter scenes I seek above;' nor was she less admired when she executed an Italian bravura of the most difficult description."[299]

Again:—"I did not know his lordship in early life; but this I can attest, and call any contemporary to ratify who might have been present, that we never heard an oath, or the least profligate conversation at his lordship's table in our lives. Miss Ray's behaviour was particularly circumspect. Dr. Green, Bishop of Lincoln, always said, 'I never knew so cautious a man as Lord Sandwich.' The Bishop came too soon once to an oratorio; we went to receive him in the dining-room, but he said, 'No; the drawing-room is full of company, and I will go up and take tea there.' Lord Sandwich was embarrassed, as he had previously objected to Lady Blake speaking to Miss Ray between the acts; and as the Bishop would go up, a consequence ensued just as I expected. Some severe verses were sent, which Mr. Bates intercepted.

"The elegant Mrs. Hinchcliffe, lady of the Bishop, attended one night with a party. She had never seen Miss Ray before, and she feelingly remarked afterwards, 'I was really hurt to sit directly opposite to her, and mark her discreet conduct, and yet to find it improper to notice her. She was so assiduous to please, was so very 340 excellent, yet so unassuming, I was quite charmed with her; yet a seeming cruelty to her took off the pleasure of my evening.'"[300]

While Miss Ray was thus situated, his lordship, through the medium of a neighbour, Major Reynolds, became acquainted with a brother officer of the major's, a Captain Hackman, and invited him to his house. The Captain fell in love with Miss Ray, and Miss Ray is understood not to have been insensible to his passion. He was her junior by several years, though the disparity was nothing like the reverse one on the part of Lord Sandwich. Sir Herbert Croft, who wrote a history of their intimacy and correspondence, under the title of "Love and Madness," represents the attachment as mutual. According to his statement, Hackman urged her to marry him, and Miss Ray was desirous of doing so, but fearful of hurting the feelings of the man who had educated her, and who is represented as a sort of Old Robin Gray. In this sentiment, Hackman with all his passion is represented as partaking. Sir Herbert's book, though founded on fact, and probably containing more truth than can now be ascertained, is considered apocryphal; and Mr. Cradock, who is as cautious in his way as his noble acquaintance, doubts whether any man was really acquainted with the particulars. All that he could call to mind relative to either party was, that for three weeks after the Captain's introduction, till his military pursuits led him to Ireland, he was observed to bow to Miss Ray whenever she went out; and that Miss Ray, during the latter part of her time at the Admiralty, did not continue to speak of her situation as before. "She complained," he says, "of being greatly alarmed by ballads that had been sung, or cries that had been made, directly under the windows that looked into the park; and that such was the fury of the mob, that she did not think either herself or Lord Sandwich was safe whenever they went out; and I must own that I heard some strange insults offered; and that I with some of the servants once suddenly rushed out, but the offenders instantly ran away and escaped. One evening afterwards, when sitting with Miss Ray in the great room above stairs, she appeared to be much agitated, and at last said, 'she had a particular favour to ask of me; that, as her situation was very precarious, and no settlement had been made upon her, she wished I would hint something of the kind to Lord Sandwich.' I 341 need not express my surprise, but I instantly assured her, 'that no one but herself could make such a proposal, as I knew Lord Sandwich never gave any one an opportunity of interfering with him on so delicate a subject.' She urged that her wish was merely to relieve Lord Sandwich as to great expense about her; for as her voice was then at the best, and Italian music was particularly her forte, she was given to understand she might succeed at the Opera-house, and as Mr. Giardini then led, and I was intimate with Mrs. Brooke and Mrs. Yates, she was certain of a most advantageous engagement. I then instantly conjectured who one of the advisers must have been; and afterwards found that three thousand pounds and a free benefit had been absolutely held out to her, though not by the two ladies who managed the stage department. Whether any proposals of marriage at that time or afterwards were made by Mr. Hackman, I know not."[301] Be this as it may, Hackman's passion was undoubted. He was originally an apprentice to a merchant at Gosport; was impatient of serving at the counter; entered the army at nineteen, but during his acquaintance with Miss Ray, exchanged the army for the church, "as a readier road to independence;" and was presented to the living of Wyverton in Norfolk.

Whatever was the nature of the intimacy between these unfortunate persons, a sudden stop appears to have been put to Hackman's final expectations, and he became desperate. By what we can gather from the accounts, Lord Sandwich, either to preserve her from her lover or herself, thought proper to put Miss Ray under the charge of a duenna. Hackman grew jealous either of him or of some other person; he was induced to believe that Miss Ray had no longer a regard for him, and he resolved to put himself to death. In this resolution a sudden impulse of frenzy included the unfortunate object of his passion.

On the evening of the fatal day, Miss Ray went with her female attendant to Covent Garden Theatre to see "Love in a Village." Mr. Cradock thinks she had declined to inform Hackman how she was engaged that evening. Hackman, who appears to have suspected her intentions, watched her, and saw the carriage pass by the Cannon Coffee-house (Cockspur Street, Charing Cross), in which he had posted 342 himself. Singularly enough, Mr. Cradock happened to be in the same coffee-house, and says that he wondered to see the carriage go by without Lord Sandwich. This looks as if there was more in Hackman's suspicion than can now be shown. Hackman followed them.

"The ladies sat in a front box," says Mr. Cradock; "and three gentlemen, all connected with the Admiralty, occasionally paid their compliments to them; Mr. Hackman was sometimes in the lobby, sometimes in an upper side box, and more than once at the Bedford coffee-house to take brandy and water, but still seemed unable to gain any information; and I can add, as a slight circumstance, that in the afternoon I had myself been at the coffee-house (Cockspur Street, Charing Cross), and, observing the carriage pass by, had remarked to my friend that I wondered at seeing the ladies on their way to the theatre without Lord Sandwich; that I meant to have dined at the Admiralty, but had been prevented; so that it appears now that most of the circumstances must have been accidental. The dreadful consummation, however, was, that at the door of the theatre, directly opposite the Bedford coffee-house, Mr. Hackman suddenly rushed out, and as a gentleman was handing Miss Ray into the carriage, with a pistol he first destroyed this most unfortunate victim, and, though not at the time, fell a most dreadful sacrifice himself."[302]

"Miss Ray," says the Introduction to 'Love and Madness,' "was coming out of Covent Garden Theatre in order to take her coach, accompanied by two friends, a gentleman and a lady, between whom she walked in the piazza. Mr. Hackman stepped up to her without the smallest previous menace or address, put a pistol to her head, and shot her instantly dead. He then fired another at himself, which, however, did not prove equally effectual. The ball grazed upon the upper part of the head, but did not penetrate sufficiently to produce any fatal effect; he fell, however, and so firmly was he bent on the entire completion of the destruction he had meditated, that he was found beating his head with the utmost violence with the butt-end of the pistol, by Mr. Mahon, apothecary, of Covent Garden, who wrenched the pistol from his hand. He was carried to the Shakspeare, where his wound was dressed. In his pocket were found two letters; the one a copy of a letter which he had written to Miss Ray, and the other to Frederic Booth, Esq., Craven Street, Strand. When he had so far recovered his faculties as to be capable of speech, he inquired with great anxiety concerning Miss Ray; and being told she was dead, he desired her poor remains might not be exposed to the observation of the curious multitude. About five o'clock in the morning, Sir John Fielding came to the Shakspeare, and not finding his wounds of a dangerous nature, ordered him to Tothill Fields Bridewell.

"The body of the unhappy lady was carried into the Shakspeare Tavern for the inspection of the coroner."[303]


The whole of the circumstances connected with this catastrophe are painfully dramatic.

"The next morning," says Mr. Cradock, "I made several efforts before I had resolution enough to see any one of the Admiralty; at last old James, the black, overwhelmed with grief, came down to me, and endeavoured to inform me, that when he had mentioned what had occurred, Lord Sandwich hastily replied, 'You know that I forbad you to plague me any more about those ballads: let them sing or say whatever they please about me!' 'Indeed, my lord,' I said, 'I am not speaking of any ballads; it is all too true.' Others then came in, and all was a scene of the utmost horror and distress. His lordship for a while stood, as it were, petrified, till, suddenly seizing a candle, he ran up-stairs and threw himself on the bed; and in an agony exclaimed, 'Leave me for a while to myself—I could have borne anything but this!' The attendants remained for a considerable time at the top of the staircase, till his lordship rang the bell and ordered that they should all go to bed. They assured me that at that time they believed fewer particulars were known at the Admiralty than over half the town besides; indeed all was confusion and astonishment; and even now I am doubtful whether Lord Sandwich was ever aware that there was any connection between Mr. Hackman and Miss Ray. His lordship continued for a day or two at the Admiralty, till, at the earnest request of those about him, he at last retired for a short time to a friend's house in the neighbourhood of Richmond."[304]

Hackman was executed at Tyburn. He confessed at the bar that he had intended to kill himself, but he protested that but for a momentary frenzy he should not have destroyed her, "who was more dear to him than life." It appears, however, that he was furnished with two pistols; which told against him on that point.

"On Friday," says Boswell, "I had been present at the trial of the unfortunate Mr. Hackman, who, in a fit of frantic jealous love, had shot Miss Ray, the favourite of a nobleman. Johnson, in whose company I dined to-day, with some other friends, was much interested by my account of what passed, and particularly with his prayer for mercy of heaven. He said in a solemn, fervent tone, 'I hope he shall find mercy.' In talking of Hackman, Johnson argued as Judge Blackstone had done, that his being furnished with two pistols was a proof that he meant to shoot two persons. Mr. Beauclerk said, 'No; for that every wise man who intended to shoot himself, took two pistols, that he might be sure of doing it at once. Lord ——'s cook shot himself with one pistol, and lived ten days in great agony. Mr. ——, who loved buttered muffins, but durst not eat them because they disagreed with his stomach, resolved to shoot himself, and then he ate three buttered muffins for breakfast before shooting himself, knowing that he should not be troubled with indigestion; he had two charged pistols: one was found lying charged upon the table by him, after he had shot himself with the other.' 'Well (said Johnson with 344 an air of triumph), you see here one pistol was sufficient.' Beauclerk replied smartly, 'Because it happened to kill him.'"[305]

It is impossible to settle this point. The general impression will be against Hackman; but, perhaps, the second pistol, though not designed for himself, might have been for Miss Ray. His victim was buried at Elstree, where she had been a lowly and happy child, running about with her blooming face, and little thinking what trouble it was to cost her.

In Mr. Cradock's book we hear again of Lord Sandwich on whom this story has thrown an interest. On his return from Richmond, Mr. Cradock went to see him, and was admitted into the study where the portrait of Miss Ray, an exact resemblance, still hung over the chimney-piece. "I fear," says Mr. Cradock, "I rather started on seeing it, which Lord Sandwich perceiving, he instantly endeavoured to speak of some unconnected subject; but he looked so ill, and I felt so much embarrassed, that as soon as I possibly could, I most respectfully took my leave."

"His lordship rarely dined out anywhere; but after a great length of time he was persuaded by our open-hearted friend, Lord Walsingham, to meet a select party at his house. All passed off exceedingly well for a while, and his lordship appeared more cheerful than could have been expected; but after coffee, as Mr. and Mrs. Bates were present, something was mentioned about music, and one of the company requested that Mrs. Bates would favour them with, 'Shepherds, I have lost my love.' This was, unfortunately, the very air that had been introduced by Miss Ray at Hinchinbrook, and had been always called for by Lord Sandwich. Mr. Bates immediately endeavoured to prevent its being sung, and by his anxiety increased the distress, but it was too late to pause. Lord Sandwich for a while struggled to overcome his feelings, but they were so apparent that at last he went up Mrs. Walsingham, and in a very confused manner said, he hoped she would excuse his not staying longer at that time; but that he had just recollected some pressing business, which required his return to the Admiralty, and bowing to all the company, rather hastily left the room. Some other endeavours to amuse him afterwards did not prove much more successful."[306]

His lordship afterwards lived in retirement, and died in 1792.

It does not appear that Lord Sandwich's disinclination to be amused arose from excessive sensibility. Mr. Cradock represents him in his political character as bearing "daily insults and misrepresentations as a stoic rather than an injured and feeling man," and he describes his calmness of 345 mind in retirement, and his enjoyment of solitude. The same writer who calls him "a steady friend," speaks highly of his classical attainments, and his accomplishments as a modern linguist and an amateur, to which he added great caution (as the Bishop said), a love of "badgering," and an incompetency for the personal graces. When he played his part in the oratorios, it was on the kettle-drum. He related the following anecdote of himself.

"When I was in Paris, I had a dancing-master; the man was very civil, and on taking leave of him, I offered him any service in London. 'Then,' said the man, bowing, 'I should take it as a particular favour, if your lordship would never tell any one of whom you have learned to dance.'"

"Hurd once said to me," adds Mr. Cradock, "there is a line in the Heroic Epistle that I do not at all comprehend the meaning of; but you can, perhaps, acquaint me. It alludes to Lord Sandwich, I suppose; but one word, shambles, I cannot guess at,—

'See Jemmy Twitcher shambles—stop, stop, thief.'

'That, sir,' said I, 'alludes to his lordship's shambling gait.'"[307]

Upon the whole we have no doubt that he was a cold and superficial person, and that Miss Ray would not have been sorry had Hackman succeeded in retaining her heart; for, as to Hackman, the great cause of his mischance, according to the passage in Boswell, appears to have been the violence of his temper,—the common secret of most of these outrageous love stories. He was not a bad-hearted man, merely selfish and passionate, otherwise he would have meditated no mischief against himself.

"He that beats or knocks out brains,

The devil's in him, if he feigns,"

says the poet. But he was weak, wilful, and, by his readiness to become a clergyman from a Captain, perhaps not very principled. The truest love is the truest benevolence; it acquires an infinite patience out of the very excess of its suffering, and is content to merge its egotism in the idea of the beloved object. He that does not know this, does not know what love is, whatever he may know of passion.

In Henrietta Street Mrs. Clive once resided. She was the favourite Nell of the stage in the "Devil to Pay," and similar characters; and, according to Garrick, there was something of the Devil to Pay in all her stage life. She might have been Macklin's sister for humour, judgment, and a sturdiness of purpose amounting to violence, not unmixed with generosity. 346 The latter part of her life she spent in retirement at Strawberry Hill, where she was a neighbour and friend to Horace Walpole, whose effeminacy she helped to keep on the alert. It always seems to us, as if she had been the man of the two, and he the woman.

Henrietta Street was most probably named after the queen of Charles I., and James Street after her father-in-law. In both these streets lived the egregious almanack-maker, and quack doctor, the butt of the wits of his time. He died in Salisbury Street, Strand, which is the scene of his posthumous behaviour,—his pretending to be alive, when Bickerstaff had declared him dead. Partridge had foretold the death of the French king. Swift, under the name of Bickerstaff, foretold Partridge's, and, when the time came, insisted he was dead. Partridge gravely insisted that he was alive. The wits, the friends of Swift, maintained the contrary, wondering at the dead man's impudence and the whole affair was hawked about the streets, to the ludicrous distress of poor Partridge, who not only highly resented it, and repeatedly advertised his existence, but was fairly obliged to give up almanack-making. "He persisted, indeed, sturdily in his refusal to be buried till 1715: but he actually died as an almanack-maker in 1709, his almanack for that year being the last, and the only one he wrote after this odd misfortune befell him."[308]

The following are specimens of the way in which Partridge resisted his death and burial. In the almanack for 1709, he says,

"You may remember there was a paper published predicting my death on the 29th of March at night, 1708, and after that day was passed the same villain told the world I was dead, and how I died, and that he was with me at the time of my death. I thank God, by whose mercy I have my being, that I am still alive, and, excepting my age, as well as ever I was in my life, as I was on that 29th of March. And that paper was said to be done by one Bickerstaff, Esq., but that was a sham name, it was done by an impudent lying fellow. But his prediction did not prove true. What will he say to excuse that? for the fool had considered the star of my nativity, as he said. Why, the truth is, he will be hard put to it to find a salvo for his honour. It was a bold touch, and he did not know but it might prove true.

"Feb. 1709. Much lying news dispersed about this time, and also scandalous pamphlets; perhaps we may have some knavish scribbler, 347 a second Bickerstaff, or a rascal under that name for that villain, &c. It is a cheat, and he a knave that did it, &c.

"Whereas, it has been industriously given out by Bickerstaff, Esq., and others, to prevent the sale of this year's almanack, that John Partridge is dead; this may inform all his loving countrymen, that, blessed be God, he is still living in health, and they are knaves who reported otherwise. 'Merlinus Liberatus, with an almanack [printed by allowance for 1710]. By John Partridge, student in Physic and Astrology.'"

In James Street, towards the beginning of the last century, lived a mysterious lady, who will remind the reader of the Catholic lady in the "Fortunes of Nigel."

"In the month of March 1720," says Mr. Malcolm, "an unknown lady died at her lodgings in James Street, Covent Garden. She is represented to have been a middle-sized person, with dark-brown hair, and very beautiful features, and mistress of every accomplishment peculiar to ladies of the first fashion and respectability. Her age appeared to be between thirty and forty. Her circumstances were affluent, and she possessed the richest trinkets of her sex, generally set with diamonds. A John Ward, Esq., of Hackney, published many particulars relating to her in the papers; and amongst others, that a servant had been directed by her to deliver him a letter after her death; but as no servant appeared, he felt himself required to notice those circumstances, in order to acquaint her relations of her decease, which occurred suddenly after a masquerade, where she declared she had conversed with the King, and it was remembered that she had been seen in the private apartments of Queen Anne; though after the Queen's demise she had lived in obscurity. This unknown arrived in London from Mansfield, in 1714, drawn by six horses. She frequently said that her father was a nobleman, but that, her elder brother dying unmarried, the title was extinct; adding, that she had an uncle then living, whose title was his least recommendation.

"It was conjectured that she might be the daughter of a Roman Catholic, who had consigned her to a convent, whence a brother had released her and supported her in privacy. She was buried at St. Paul's, Covent Garden."[309]

Perhaps she had some connection with Queen Anne's brother, the Pretender.

In King Street lived the father of Arne and Mrs. Cibber. He was an upholsterer, and is said to have been the original of the Quid-nunc in the Tatler, and the hero of Murphy's farce of the Upholsterer, or, What News? His name is connected also with that of the four "Indian Kings," as they were called, who came into this country in Queen Anne's time, to ask her assistance against the French in Canada.


"They were clothed and entertained," says a note in the 'Tatler', "at the public expense, being lodged, while they continued in London, in an handsome apartment," perhaps in the house of Mr. Arne, as may be inferred from 'Tatler,' 155, and note. Certainly their landlord was an upholsterer in Covent Garden, in a new street, which seems at that time to have received the name of King Street, which it retains to this day, in common with many other streets so called, in honour of Charles II. The figures of these four Indian kings or chiefs are still preserved in the British Museum. The names and titles of their Majesties are recorded there and in the 'Annals of Queen Anne,' but with the following differences from the account of them in this paper: Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Prow, and Sa Ga Yean Qua Prah Ion, of the Maquas;—Elow Oh Kaom, and Oh Nee Yeath Ion No Prow, of the river Sachem, and the Ganajoh-hore Sachem. On the 18th of April 1710, according to Salmon, on the 19th according to Boyer, these four illustrious personages were conveyed in two of the Queen's coaches to St. James's, by Sir Charles Cotterel, master of the ceremonies, and introduced to their public audience by the Duke of Shrewsbury, then Lord Chamberlain. They made a speech by an interpreter, which Major Pidgeon, an officer who came over with them from America, read in English to her Majesty. "They had (they said) with one consent hung up the kettle and taken up the hatchet, in token of their friendship to their great queen and her children, and had been, on the other side of the great water, a strong wall of security to their great queen's children, even to the loss of their best men. For the truth of what they affirmed, and their written proposals, they referred to Colonel Scuyder and Colonel Nicholson, whom they called, in their language, Brother Queder, and Anadgargaux, and, speaking of Colonel Vetch, they named him Anadiasia. They said they always considered the French as men of falsehood, and rejoiced in the prospect of the reduction of Canada; after which they should have free hunting, and a great trade with their great queen's children, and as a token of the sincerity of the six nations, in the name of all, they presented their great queen with the belts of wampum. They concluded their speech with recommending their very hard case to their great queen's gracious consideration, expressing their hopes of her favour, and requesting the mission of more of her children to reinforce and to instruct, for they had got, as they said, since their alliance with her children, some knowledge of the Saviour of the world. The curious may see this speech at full length in the 'Annals of Queen Anne,' year 9th, p. 191, et seq., 8vo. On the same day, according to Boyer, a royal messenger of the Emperor of Morocco, Elhadge Guzman, was likewise introduced by the Duke of Shrewsbury to a private audience, and delivered letters to the Queen from Mula Ishmael, his master; the same emperor, probably, who sent an ambassador to our court in 1706, mentioned in the 'Tatler,' No. 130, and note, vol. iii., p. 44. The Indian Kings continued about a fortnight longer in London, during which time they were hospitably entertained by some of the lords commissioners of the Admiralty, by the Duke of Ormond, and several persons of distinction. They were carried to see Dr. Flamstead's house and the mathematical instruments in Greenwich Park, and entertained with the sight of the principal curiosities in and about the metropolis; then conveyed to Portsmouth through Hampton Court and Windsor, and embarked 349 with Colonel Frances Nicholson, commander-in-chief of the forces appointed to the American service, on board the Dragon, Captain Martin, Commodore, who, with about eighteen sail under his convoy, sailed from Spithead on the 18th of May, and landed their Majesties safe at Boston, in New England, July 15th, 1710."[310]

Their names are like a set of yawns and sneezes.

Young Arne, who was born in King Street, was a musician against his father's will, and practised in the garret, on a muffled spinnet, when the family had gone to bed. He was sent to Eton, which was probably of use to him in confirming his natural refinement, but nothing could hinder his devoting himself to the art. It is said the old man had no suspicion of his advancement in it, till, going to a concert one evening, he was astonished to see his son exalted, bow in hand, as the leader. Seeing the praises bestowed on him, he suffered him to become what nature designed him for. Arne was the most flowing, Italian-like musician of any we have had in England; not capable of the grandeur and profound style of Purcell, but more sustained, continuous, and seductive. His "Water parted" is a stream of sweetness; his song, "When Daisies pied" is truly Shaksperian, full of archness and originality. Like many of his profession, who feel much more than they reflect, he became, in some measure, the victim of his sense of beauty, being excessively addicted to women. His sister, Mrs. Cibber, whose charming performances on the stage we have before noticed, did not escape without the reputation of a like tendency; but she had a bad husband (the notorious Theophilus Cibber); and on the occasion that gave rise to it, is understood to have been the victim of his mercenary designs.

Southampton Street we have noticed in speaking of the Strand. Godfrey's, the chemist's, in this street, is an establishment of old standing, as may be seen by the inscription over the door. A hundred years ago, Mr. Ambrose Godfrey, who lived here, proposed to extinguish fire by a new method of "explosion and suffocation;" that is to say, a mixture of water and gunpowder. Tavistock Street (where Lord Sandwich first saw Miss Ray) was once the great emporium of millinery and mantua-making. Macklin died there. He lived many years in Wyld Street. In Maiden Lane, Voltaire lodged, when in England, at the sign of the White Peruke, probably the house of a fashionable French peruquier. In 350 "Swift's Works" (vol. xx. of the duodecimo edition, p. 294), there is a letter to him, in English, by Voltaire, and dated from this house. The English seems a little too perfect. There is another following it which looks more authentic. But there is no doubt that Voltaire, while in England, made himself such a master of the language, as to be able to write in it with singular correctness for a foreigner. He was then young. He had been imprisoned in the Bastile for a libel; came over here, on his release; procured many subscriptions for the "Henriade;" published in English "An Essay on Epic Poetry," and remained some years, during which he became acquainted with the principal men of letters—Pope, Congreve, and Young. He is said to have talked so indecently at Pope's table (probably no more than was thought decent by the belles in France), that the good old lady, the poet's mother, was obliged to retire. Objecting, at Lord Chesterfield's table, to the allegories of Milton, Young is said to have accosted him in the well-known couplet:—

Thou art so witty, profligate, and thin,

Thou seem'st a Milton, with his Death and Sin.

But this story has been doubted. Young, though not so thin, was as witty and profligate in his way as Voltaire: for, even when affecting a hermit-like sense of religion, he was a servile flatterer and preferment-hunter. The secret of the gloomy tone in his "Night-Thoughts" was his not having too much, and his missing a bishopric. This is the reason why the "Night-Thoughts" are overdone, and have not stood their ground. Voltaire left England with such a mass of subscriptions for his "Henriade" as laid the foundation of his fortunes, and with great admiration of English talent and genius, particularly that of Newton and Locke, which, with all his insinuations against our poetry, he took warm pains to extend, and never gave up. He was fond to the last of showing he had not forgotten his English. Somebody telling him that Johnson had spoken well of his talents, he said, in English, "He is a clever fellow;" but the gentleman observing that the doctor did not think well of his religion, he added, "a superstitious dog."

During his residence in Maiden Lane, there is a story of Voltaire's having been beset, in one of his walks, by the people, who ridiculed him as a Frenchman. He got upon the steps of a door-way and harangued them in their own language in praise of English liberty and the nation; upon which, the 351 story adds, they hailed him as a fine fellow, and carried him to his lodgings on their shoulders. The treatment of foreigners at this time in the streets of London (and every foreigner was a Frenchman) was very much the reverse of what the inhabitants took it for. Thanks to the progress of knowledge, nations have learnt to understand one another's common cause better, and to suspect that the most ridiculous thing they could do is to forget it.

Long Acre is a portion of the seven acres before mentioned. The great plague of London began there in some goods brought over from Holland; but as that calamity made its principal ravages in the city, we shall speak of it under another head. During the battles of the Whigs and Tories, Long Acre was famous for its Mug-houses, where beer-drinking clubs were held, and politics "sung or said." Cheapside was another place of celebrity for these meetings. There is a description of them in a Journey through England in 1724, quoted by Mr. Malcolm in his "Manners and Customs of London during the Eighteenth Century." "Gentlemen, lawyers, and tradesmen," says the account, "used to meet in a great room, seldom under a hundred."

"They had a president, who sat in an arm-chair some steps higher than the rest of the company, to keep the whole room in order. A harp played all the time at the lower end of the room, and every now and then one or other of the company rose and entertained the rest with a song, and (by the by) some were good masters. Here was nothing drank but ale, and every gentleman had his separate mug, which he chalked on the table where he sat as it was brought in; and every one retired when he pleased, as from a coffee-house.

"The rooms were always so diverted with songs, and drinking from one table to another one another's healths, that there was no room for anything that could sour conversation.

"One was obliged to be there by seven to get room, and after ten the company were for the most part gone.

"This was a winter's amusement, agreeable enough to a stranger for once or twice, and he was well diverted with the different humours when the mugs overflow.

"On King George's accession to the throne, the Tories had so much the better of the friends to the Protestant succession, that they gained the mobs on all public days to their side. This induced this set of gentlemen to establish mug-houses in all the corners of this great city, for well-affected tradesmen to meet and keep up the spirit of loyalty to the Protestant succession, and to be ready upon all tumults to join their forces for the suppression of the Tory mobs. Many an encounter they had, and many were the riots, till at last the Parliament was obliged by law to put an end to this city strife, which had this good effect, that, on pulling down the mug-houses in Salisbury Court, for 352 which some boys were hanged on this Act, the city has not been troubled with them since."[311]

One of the mistresses whom Prior celebrates, under the name of Chloe, and compares to Venus and Diana, lived in Long Acre, and was the wife, some say, of a common soldier, others of a cobbler, others of the keeper of an ale-house. Perhaps she was all these, or there were three mistresses whose alliances were confounded. Spence says that the ale-house keeper was the first husband, and the cobbler the second. "Everybody knows," says Pope, "what a wretch she was." And again:—"Prior was not a right good man. He used to bury himself, for whole days and nights together, with a poor mean creature, and often drank hard. He turned from a strong Whig (which he had been when most with Lord Halifax) to a violent Tory; and did not care to converse with any Whigs after, any more than Rowe did with Tories."[312] "I have been assured," says Pope's friend, Richardson, the painter, "that Prior, after having spent the evening with Oxford, Bolingbroke, Pope, and Swift, would go and smoke a pipe, and drink a bottle of ale, with a common soldier and his wife, in Long Acre, before he went to bed."[313] After the poet's death, Arbuthnot says something to the same effect; but we forget what.

None of the wits of that time seem to have known much about love as a sentiment. There is no end of the misconceptions of what is called love. Prior would probably have retorted upon Pope, that his own taste was not very delicate; and upon Arbuthnot, that the doctor was a sensualist in his way, and of a lower order.[314] He would have quoted Propertius, Raphael, and others, for the impartiality of his taste; and the woman, though in low life, might have had wit and beauty. The secret of these inequalities has been explained by Fielding.[315]

Sir Joshua Reynolds lived successively in St. Martin's Lane, and on the north side of Great Newport Street, before 353 he settled finally in Leicester Square. In Newport Street was born the celebrated Horne Tooke, the son of a poulterer in the adjoining market; which made him say, that his father was a "Turkey merchant." He was, perhaps, the hardest-headed man that ever figured in the union of literature and politics; meaning, by that epithet, the power to discuss, and impenetrability to objection. He died at his house at Wimbledon, and was buried at Ealing. His history trenches too closely on the politics of our own day, to allow us to expatiate upon it in a work expressly devoted to the past.

St. Martin's Lane (see Charing Cross, for a notice of the church,) was once as famous for artists as Newman Street has been since. In Salisbury Court and in St. Martin's Lane the Royal Academy may be said to have originated, for in those places successively its original members first came together as a society established by themselves. Perhaps there was not a single artist, contemporary with Sir Joshua, who was unconnected with St. Martin's Lane, either as a lodger, student, or visitor. Old Slaughter's coffee-house, in the same lane, became celebrated on the same account, and as a resort of the contemporary wits, especially Hogarth, who may be said to have amalgamated in his works the wit and the painter. St. Martin's Lane and Leicester Square are the head-quarters of the memory of English art. In the annals of the former we meet with the names of Wilson and Gainsborough: in the latter flourished and died Hogarth and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Sir Joshua's house in Leicester Square was on the eastern side, four doors from Sydney's Alley.[316] It was there he kept a handsome table, and was visited by Johnson and Goldsmith, and had the whole round of the fashionable world fluttering before him, and steadying itself to become immortal in his pictures: if, indeed, immortal they are to be, in the ordinary meaning of that word; for, out of certain misgivings, which perhaps argued a want of perfect claim to that destiny, he dabbled in experiments upon colours which have failed; and his pictures, though but of yesterday, already look old and worn out, while Titian's are as blooming as Apollo.

Hogarth, the greatest name in English art, lived in one of the two houses which now form Sabloniere's hotel. It was the one to the north. He was a little bustling man, with a face more lively than refined, a sort of knowing jockey look; 354 and was irritable and egotistical, but not ungenerous. As a painter, he did what no man ever did before or since—brought out the absurdities of artificial life,

"Showed vice her own features, scorn her own image,"

and fairly painted even goods and chattels with a meaning! His intentions were less profound than his impulses; that is to say, he sometimes had an avowed common-place in view, as in the instance of the Industrious and Idle Apprentice, while the execution of it was full of much higher things and profounder humanities. As to the rest, if ever there was a wit on canvass, it was he. To take one instance alone, his spider's web over the poor's box is a union of remote ideas, coalescing but too perfectly.[317]

Leicester Square, formerly Leicester Fields, was not built upon till towards the restoration of Charles II. It took its name from a family mansion of the Sydneys, Earls of Leicester, which stood on the north side, on the site of the present houses and of Leicester Place.


"It was for a short time," says Pennant, "the residence of Elizabeth, daughter of James I., the titular Queen of Bohemia, who, on February 13th, 1661, here ended her unfortunate life. It has been tenanted for 355 a great number of years. It was successively the pounting-place of princes. The late King [George II.], when Prince of Wales, after he had quarrelled with his father, lived here several years. His son Frederic followed his example, succeeded him in his house, and in it finished his days."

"Behind Leicester House," the same author informs us, "stood, in 1658, the Military-yard, founded by Henry Prince of Wales, the spirited son of our peaceful James. M. Faubert afterwards kept here his academy for riding and other gentlemanlike exercises, in the reign of Charles II., which, in later years, was removed to Swallow Street, opposite the end of Conduit Street. Part is retained for the purpose of a riding-house; the rest is converted into a workhouse for the parish of St. James's."[318]

But the glory of the neighbourhood of Leicester Fields is in St. Martin's Street, where the house is still remaining which was occupied by the great Newton.


Old Charing Cross, and New St. Martin's Church—Statue of Charles I.—Execution of Regicides—Ben Jonson—Wallingford House, now the Admiralty—Villiers, Duke of Buckingham; Sir Walter Scott's Account of him—Misrepresentation of Pope respecting his Death—Charles's Horse a Satirist—Locket's Ordinary—Sir George Etherege.—Prior and his Uncle's Tavern—Thomson—Spring Gardens—Mrs. Centlivre—Dorset Place, and Whitcombe Street, &c., formerly Hedge Lane—The Wits and the Bailiffs—Suffolk Street—Swift and Miss Vanhomrigh—Calves' Head Club, and the Riot it occasioned—Scotland Yard—Pleasant Advertisement—Beau Fielding, and his Eccentricities—Vanbrugh—Desperate Adventure of Lord Herbert of Cherbury.


In the reign of Edward I., on the country road from London to Westminster, stood the hamlet of Charing; a rustic spot, containing a few houses, and the last cross set up by that Prince in honour of the resting-places of his wife's body on its way to interment in the Abbey. The Cross was originally of wood, but afterwards of stone. The reader may see it in the old map of London by Aggas. He will there observe, that towards the beginning of Elizabeth's reign Charing Cross was united with London on the Strand side, and at little intervals with Whitehall; but Spring Gardens 356 was then and long after what its name implies; and, in the reign of Charles II., Hedge Lane (now Whitcomb Street) and the Haymarket were still real lanes and passages into the fields. In Elizabeth's time, you might set out from the site of the present Pall-mall, and, leaving St. Giles in the Fields on the right hand, walk all the way to Hampstead without encountering perhaps a dwelling-place. Lovers plucked flowers in Cranbourne Alley, and took moonlight walks in St. James's market.


On this spot, in Dr. Johnson's opinion, is to be found the fullest "tide of human existence" in the metropolis. We know not how that may be at present when the tide is so full everywhere; but Charing Cross has long been something the reverse of a rural village, and is now exhibiting one of the newest and grandest evidences of an improving metropolis. By way of north front, the Mews (formerly the mews of the King's falcons) has given way to a sorry palace for the Fine Arts; on the west is a handsome edifice including the new college of Physicians; on the east St. Martin's church has obtained its long desired opening: and in the midst of these buildings and of the Strand-end is a new square, named after the greatest of our naval victories, adorned with a column surmounted by their hero, and disgraced by a couple of shabby 357 fountains. Here also is an equestrian statue of George the Fourth. What for?

"In the reign of Henry VIII.," says Pennant, speaking of St Martin's, "a small church was built here at the King's expense, by reason of the poverty of the parishioners, who possibly were at that period very poor. In 1607 it was enlarged because of the increase of buildings. In 1721 it was found necessary to take the whole down, and in five years from that time this magnificent temple was completed at the expense of near thirty-seven thousand pounds. This is the best performance of Gibbs, the architect of the Radcliffe Library. The steeple is far the most elegant of any of that style which I named the pepper-box; and with which (I beg pardon of the good people of Glasgow) I marked their boasted steeple of St. Andrew."[319]

Our lively biographer seems chiefly to admire the steeple of this church. The Corinthian portico, we believe, is the usual object of praise. Both of them may deserve praise separately; nor, indeed, will their size and situation allow them to be regarded with indifference in conjunction; but the elevation of the steeple on the neck of the church, or without any apparent or proper base to rest upon, is a fault not to be denied; and Mr. Pennant perhaps would not have been in the wrong, had he found an ill name for steeples in general, as well as for the species which he "peppered." Steeples, however noble, and porticoes, however Greek, can never truly coalesce. The finest steeple with a portico to it is but an excrescence and an anomaly, a horn growing out of the church's neck. The Italians felt this absurdity so much, that they have often made a separate building of the steeple, converting it into a beautiful tower aloof from the church, as in the instances of the famous Hanging Tower in Pisa, and the Campanile in Florence. Suppose a shaft like the Monument, in a space near St. Martin's church, and the church itself a proper building with a portico, like St. Paul's Covent Garden, and you have an improvement in the Italian style. The best thing to say for

—— sharpèd steeples high shot up in air

(as Spenser calls them) is, that they seem to be pointing to heaven, or running up into space like an intimation of interminability. An idea of this kind is supposed to have given rise to them. But they always have a meagre, incongruous look, considered in their union with the body to which they are attached. Their best appearance is at a distance, and when they are numerous, as in the view of a great city; but 358 even then, how inferior are they to the massive dignity of such towers as those of Westminster Abbey, or to a dome like that of St. Paul's!

The origin of the word Charing is unknown. The cross was destroyed during the Reformation. The spot where it stood is occupied by the statue of Charles I. originally the property of the Earl of Arundel, for whom it was cast by Le Sœur in 1633. It was not placed in its present situation till the decline of the reign of Charles II. The pedestal is the work of Grinling Gibbons. The statue had been condemned by Parliament to be sold and broken in pieces; "but John River, the brazier, who purchased it," says Pennant, "having more taste or more loyalty than his masters, buried it unmutilated and showed to them some broken pieces of brass in token of his obedience. M. D'Archenholz gives a diverting anecdote of this brazier, and says that he cast a vast number of handles of knives and forks in brass, which he sold as made of the broken statue. They were bought with great eagerness by the royalists, from affection to their monarch; by the rebels as a mark of triumph over the murdered sovereign."[320] The sovereign now faces Whitehall as if in triumph: yet behind the Banquetting house lurks a statue of another of this unfortunate race, who lost his throne for attempting to renew the dictatorial spirit which cost his ancestor his head. The omission of the horse's girth in this statue has been thought a singular instance of forgetfulness in the artist. But it is hardly possible he could have forgotten it. Most likely he took a poetical license, and rejected what might have hurt the symmetry of his outline.

Charles's memory, like his life, was destined to be connected with tragedies. On this spot, before the statue was erected, a number of the regicides were executed with tortures; and, till of late years, it was a place for the pillory. Harrison died there, Scrope, Colonel Jones, Hugh Peters, and others of those extraordinary men, who, in welcoming a bloody death, gave the last undoubted proofs that they were real patriots as well as bigots. The spirit in which they died (bold and invincible, though in the very glow and loquacity evincing that lingering love of life which is so affecting to one's own mortality,) had such an effect on the public, that the king was advised not to have any more such executions near the court, 359 and the scaffold was accordingly removed to Tyburn. A ghastly story is related of Harrison;—that after he was cut down alive (according to his sentence), and had his bowels removed and burnt before his face by the executioner, he rose up and gave the man a box on the ear. He had behaved with great patience before this half-death; so that there appears to have been something of delirium in this action,—the action, perhaps, of a being feeling himself to be no longer under the ordinary condition of his species.

The particular sort of religious enthusiasm evinced by these men is now as obsolete as some of the absurdities which they fought against, and as others which they would have upheld; but there are passages of lasting interest in the account of their last moments, which the reader will perhaps expect to see.

As Harrison was going to suffer, "one in derision called to him and said, 'Where is your Good Old Cause?' He with a cheerful smile clapt his hand on his breast, and said 'Here it is, and I am going to seal it with my blood?' And when he came to the sight of the gallows, he was transported with joy, and his servant asked him how he did; he answered 'Never better in my life.' His servant told him, 'Sir, there is a crown of glory ready prepared for you.' 'O yes,' said he, 'I see.' When he was taken off the sledge, the hangman desired him to forgive him. 'I do forgive thee,' said he, 'with all my heart, as it is a sin against me;' and told him he wished him all happiness. And further said, 'Alas, poor man, thou dost it ignorantly; the Lord grant that this sin may not be laid to thy charge!' And putting his hand into his pocket gave him all the money he had, and so parting with his servant, hugging of him in his arms, he went up the ladder with an undaunted countenance.

"The people observing him to tremble in his hands and legs, he, taking notice of it, said:—

"'Gentlemen, by reason of some scoffing that I do hear, I judge that some do think I am afraid to die, by the shaking I have in my hands and knees; I tell you no, but it is by reason of much blood I have lost in the wars, and many wounds I have received in my body, which caused this shaking and weakness in my nerves; I have had it this twelve years: I speak this to the praise and glory of God; he hath carried me above the fear of death; and I value not my life, because I go to my Father, and am assured I shall take it again.

"'Gentlemen, take notice, that for being instrumental in that cause and interest of the Son of God, which hath been pleaded amongst us, and which God hath witnessed to my appeals and wonderful 360 victories I am brought to this place to suffer death this day, and if I had ten thousand lives, I could freely and cheerfully lay them down all, to witness to this matter.'"[321]

The time of Colonel Jones's departure being come "this aged gentleman," says the account, "was drawn in one sledge with his aged companion Scroope, whose grave and graceful countenances, accompanied with courage and cheerfulness, caused great admiration and compassion in the spectators, as they passed along the streets to Charing Cross, the place of their execution; and, after the executioner had done his part upon three others that day he was so drunk with blood, that, like one surfeited, he grew sick at stomach; and not being able himself, he set his boy to finish the tragedy upon Col. Jones." The night before he died he "told a friend he had no other temptation but this, lest he should be too much transported, and carried out to neglect and slight his life, so greatly was he satisfied to die in that cause."

"The day he suffered, he grasped a friend in his arms, and said to him with some expressions of endearment, 'Farewell: I could wish thee in the same condition with myself, that thou mightest share with me in my joys.'"[322]

The famous Hugh Peters, the commonwealth preacher, whom Burnet speaks of as an "enthusiastical buffoon," and a very "vicious man," is thought by a greater loyalist (Burke) to have had "hard measures dealt him at the Restoration." He calls him a "poor good man." Peters was afraid at first he should not behave himself with the proper courage, but rallied his spirits afterwards, and, according to the account published by his friends (and all the accounts, it should be observed, emanate from that side), no man appears to have behaved better. Burnet says otherwise, and that he was observed all the while to be drinking cordials to keep him from fainting, and Burnet's testimony is not to be slighted, though he seems too readily to have taken upon trust some evil reports of Peters' life and manners, which the "poor man," expressly contradicted in prison. Be this as it may, "Being carried," says the account, "upon the sledge to execution, and made to sit thereon within the rails at Charing Cross to behold the execution of Mr. Cook, one comes to him and upbraided him with the death of the King, 361 bidding him (with opprobrious language) to repent; he replied, 'Friend, you do not well to trample upon a dying man; you are greatly mistaken, I had nothing to do in the death of the King.'"

"When Mr. Cook was cut down and brought to be quartered, one they called Colonel Turner called to the Sheriff's men to bring Mr. Peters near that he might see him; and by and by the hangman came to him all besmeared in blood, and rubbing his bloody hands together, he tauntingly asked, 'Come, how do you like this, how do you like this work?' To whom he replied, 'I am not, I thank God, terrified at it; you may do your worst.'

"When he was going to his execution, he looked about and espied a man, to whom he gave a piece of gold (having bowed it first), and desired him to go to the place where his daughter lodged, and to carry that to her as a token from him, and to let her know that his heart was as full of comfort as it could be, and that before that piece should come into her hands he should be with God in glory.

"Being upon the ladder, he spake to the Sheriff, saying, 'Sir, you have here slain one of the servants of God before mine eyes, and have made me to behold it on purpose to terrify and discourage me; but God hath made it an ordinance to me for my strengthening and encouragement.'

"When he was going to die, he said, 'What! flesh, art thou unwilling to go to God through the fire and jaws of death? Oh' (said he), 'this is a good day; he is come that I have long looked for, and I shall be with him in glory;' and so smiled when he went away.

"What Mr. Peters said farther at his execution, either in his speech or prayer, it could not be taken, in regard his voice was low at that time, and the people uncivil."[323]

Ben Jonson is supposed to have been born in Hartshorn Lane, Charing Cross, where he lived when a little child. "Though I cannot," says Fuller, "with all my industrious inquiry, find him in his cradle, I can fetch him from his long coats. When a little child he lived in Hartshorn Lane, Charing Cross, when his mother married a bricklayer for her second husband. He was first bred in a private school in St. Martin's Court; then in Westminster school." But we shall have other occasions of speaking of him.

The famous reprobate Duke of Buckingham, Villiers, the second of that name, was born in Wallingford House, which stood on the site of the present Admiralty. "The Admiralty Office," says Pennant "stood originally in Duke Street, Westminster: but in the reign of King William was removed to the present spot, to the house then called Wallingford, I believe, from its having been inhabited by the Knollys, Viscounts Wallingford. From the roof the pious Usher, 362 Archbishop of Armagh, then living here with the Countess of Peterborough, was prevailed on to take the last sight of his beloved master Charles I., when brought on the scaffold before Whitehall. He sank at the horror of the sight, and was carried in a swoon to his apartment." Wallingford House was often used by Cromwell and others in their consultations.

"The present Admiralty Office," continues Pennant, "was rebuilt in the late reign, by Ripley; it is a clumsy pile, but properly veiled from the street by Mr. Adam's handsome screen." Where the poor Archbishop sank in horror at the sight of the misguided Charles, telegraphs have since plied their dumb and far-seen discourses, like spirit in the guise of mechanism, telling news of the spread of liberty and knowledge all over the world. Of the Villierses, Dukes of Buckingham, who have not heard? The first one was a favourite not unworthy of his fortune, open, generous, and magnificent; the second, perhaps because he lost his father so soon, a spoiled child from his cradle, wilful, debauched, unprincipled, but witty and entertaining. Here, and at York House in the Strand, he turned night into day, and pursued his intrigues, his concerts, his dabblings in chemistry and the philosopher's stone, and his designs on the Crown: for Charles's character, and the devices of Buckingham's fellow quacks and astrologers, persuaded him that he had a chance of being king. When a youth, he compounded with Cromwell, and married Fairfax's daughter;—he was afterwards all for the king, when he was not "all for rhyming" or ousting him;—when an old man, or near it (for these prodigious possessors of animal spirits have a trick of lasting a long while), he was still a youth in improvidence and dissipation, and his whole life was a dream of uneasy pleasure. He is now best known from Dryden's masterly portrait of him in the "Absalom and Achitophel."

"A man so various, that he seemed to be,

Not one, but all mankind's epitome;

Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,

Was everything by starts, and nothing long;

But in the course of one revolving moon,

Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon;

Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,

Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.

Blest madman! who could every hour employ

With something new to wish or to enjoy.

Railing and praising were his usual themes;

And both, to show his judgment, in extremes,


So very violent, or over civil,

That every man with him was God or devil.

In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;

Nothing went unrewarded but desert.

Beggar'd by fools, whom still he found too late,

He had his jest, and they had his estate.

He laugh'd himself from court; then sought relief

By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief;

For spite of him, the weight of business fell

On Absalom, or wise Achitophel;

Thus wicked but in will, of means bereft,

He left not faction, but of that was left."

"This inimitable description," observes Sir Walter Scott, in a note on the subject, "refers, as is well known, to the famous George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, son of the favourite of Charles I., who was murdered by Felton. The Restoration put into the hands of the most lively, mercurial, ambitious, and licentious genius who ever lived, an estate of 20,000l. a year, to be squandered in every wild scheme which the lust of power, of pleasure, of license, or of whim, could dictate to an unrestrained imagination. Being refused the situation of President of the North, he was suspected of having favoured the disaffected in that part of England, and was disgraced accordingly. But in 1666 he regained the favour of the King, and became a member of the famous Administration called the Cabal, which first led Charles into unpopular and arbitrary measures, and laid the foundation for the troubles of his future reign. Buckingham changed sides about 1675, and becoming attached to the country party, made a most active figure in all proceedings which had relation to the Popish plot; intrigued deeply with Shaftesbury, and distinguished himself as a promoter of the bill of exclusion. Hence, he stood an eminent mark for Dryden's satire; which we may believe was not the less poignant, that the poet had sustained a personal affront, from being depicted by his grace under the character of Bayes in the "Rehearsal." As Dryden owed the Duke no favour, he has shown him none. Yet even here the ridiculous rather than the infamous part of his character is touched upon; and the unprincipled libertine, who slew the Earl of Shrewsbury while his adulterous countess held his horse in the disguise of a page, and who boasted of caressing her before he changed the bloody clothes in which he had murdered her husband, is not exposed to hatred, whilst the spendthrift and castle builder are held up to contempt. So just, however, is the picture drawn by Dryden, that it differs little from the following sober historical account.

"'The Duke of Buckingham was a man of great parts, and an infinite deal of wit and humour; but wanted judgment, and had no virtue, or principle of any kind. These essential defects made his whole life one train of inconsistencies. He was ambitious beyond measure, and implacable in his resentments; these qualities were the effects or different faces of his pride; which, whenever he pleased to lay aside, no man living could be more entertaining in conversation. He had a wonderful talent in turning all things into ridicule; but, by his own conduct, made a more ridiculous figure in the world than any which he could, with all his vivacity of wit and turn of imagination, 364 draw of others. Frolic and pleasure took up the greatest part of his life: and in these he had neither any taste nor set himself any bounds: running into the wildest extravagances and pushing his debaucheries to a height, which even a libertine age could not help censuring as downright madness. He inherited the best estate which any subject had at that time in England; yet his profuseness made him always necessitous, as that necessity made him grasp at every thing that would help to support his expenses. He was lavish without generosity, and proud without magnanimity; and though he did not want some bright talents, yet no good one ever made part of his composition; for there was nothing so mean that he would not stoop to, nor anything so flagrantly impious but he was capable of undertaking.'"

"Buckingham's death," concludes the commentator, "was as awful a beacon as his life. He had dissipated a princely fortune, and lost both the means of procuring and the power of enjoying the pleasures to which he was devoted. He had fallen from the highest pinnacle of ambition into the last degree of contempt and disregard." His dying scene, in a paltry inn, in Yorkshire, has been immortalized by Pope's beautiful lines:—

"In the worst inn's worst room, with mat half hung;

The floors of plaister and the walls of dung;

On once a flock bed, but repaired with straw,

With tape-tied curtains never meant to draw,

The George and Garter, dangling from that bed,

Where tawdry yellow strove with dirty red,

Great Villiers lies! Alas! how changed from him!

That life of pleasure and that soul of whim;

Gallant and gay in Cliefden's proud alcove,

The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love;

Or just as gay at council, in a ring

Of mimicked statesmen and a merry king;

No wit to flatter left of all his store,

No fool to laugh at, which he valued more;

There victor of his health, of fortune, friends,

And fame, this lord of useless thousands ends!"[324]

"The worst inn's worst room," however, is a poetical fiction. Buckingham died at the house of one of his tenants at Kirby Mallory, where he was overtaken with illness. He had wasted his fortune to a comparative nothing; but was not reduced to such necessity as the poet would imply.[325]

Andrew Marvel makes the statue of Charing Cross the speaker in one of his witty libels on Charles and his brother. There was an equestrian statue of Charles II. at Woolchurch, the horse of which is made to hold a dialogue with this other. The poet fancies that the riders, "weary of sitting all day," 365 stole off one evening, and the two horses came together. The readers at Will's must have been a little astonished at the boldness of such passages as the following:—

"Quoth the marble horse, It would make a stone speak,

To see a Lord Mayor and a Lombard Street beak,

Thy founder and mine, to cheat one another,

When both knaves agreed to be each other's brother.

Here Charing broke forth, and thus he went on—

My brass is provoked as much as thy stone

To see church and state bow down to a ——

And the King's chief ministers holding the door,

The money of widows and orphans employed,

And the bankers quite broke to maintain the ——'s pride.

Woolchurch. To see Dei Gratia writ on the throne.

And the King's wicked life says God there is none.

Charing. That he should be styled Defender of the Faith,

Who believes not a word what the Word of God saith.

Woolchurch. That the Duke should turn Papist, and that church defy,

For which his own father a Martyr did die.

Charing. Tho' he changed his religion, I hope he's so civil,

Not to think his own father has gone to the Devil.

Charing. Pause, brother, awhile, and calmly consider

What thou hast to say against my royal rider.

Woolchurch. Thy priest-ridden King turned desperate fighter

For the surplice, lawn-sleeves, the cross, and the mitre;

Till at last on the scaffold he was left in the lurch,

By knaves, who cried themselves up for the church,

Archbishops and bishops, archdeacons and deans.

Charing. Thy King will ne'er fight unless for his Queens.

Woolchurch. He that dys for ceremonys, dys like a fool.

Charing. The King on thy back is a lamentable tool.

Woolchurch. the Goat and the Lion I Equally Hate,

And Freemen alike value life and estate:

Tho' the father and son be different rods,

Between the two scourgers we find little odds;

Both infamous stand in three kingdoms' votes,

This for picking our pockets, that for cutting our throats.

What is thy opinion of James Duke of York?

Charing. The same that the frogs had of Jupiter's stork.

With the Turk in his head, and the Pope in his heart,

Father Patrick's disciples will make England smart.

If e'er he be king, I know Britain's doom,

We must all to a stake, or be converts to Rome.

Ah! Tudor, ah! Tudor, of Stuarts enough;

None ever reigned like old Bess in the ruff.

Woolchurch. But canst thou devise when things will be mended?

Charing. When the reign of the line of the Stuarts is ended."

And these very lampoons had a hand in ending them. 366

In the days of Buckingham there was a famous house of entertainment in Charing Cross, called Locket's Ordinary. Where it exactly stood seems to be no longer known: we suspect by the great Northumberland Coffee-house. "It is often mentioned," says a manuscript in Birch's collection, "in the plays of Cibber, Vanbrugh, &c., where the scene sometimes is laid." It was much frequented by Sir George Etherege, as appears from the following anecdotes, picked up at the British Museum. Sir George Etherege and his company, "provoked by something amiss in the entertainment or attendance, got into a violent passion and abused the waiters. This brought in Mrs. Locket: 'We are so provoked,' said Sir George, 'that even I could find in my heart to pull the nose-gay out of your bosom, and throw the flowers in your face.' This turned all their anger into jest."

"Sir G. Etherege discontinued Locket's Ordinary, having run up a score which he could not conveniently discharge. Mrs. Locket sent one to dun him, and to threaten him with a prosecution. He bid the messenger tell her that he would kiss her if she stirred a step in it. When this answer was brought back, she called for her hood and scarf, and told her husband, who interposed, that 'she'd see if there was any fellow alive who had the impudence.' 'Pr'ythee, my dear, don't be so rash,' said her husband, 'you don't know what a man may do in his passion.'"[326]

The site of the tavern is now also unknown, where Prior was found, when a boy, reading Horace. It was called the Rummer. Mr. Nichols has found that, in the year 1685, it was kept by "Samuel Prior," and that the "annual feasts of the nobility and gentry living in the parish of St. Martin" were held there, October 14, in that year. "Prior," says Johnson, "is supposed to have fallen, by his father's death, into the hands of his uncle, a vintner near Charing Cross, who sent him for some time to Dr. Busby, at Westminster; but, not intending to give him any education beyond that of the school, took him, when he was well educated in literature, to his own house, where the Earl of Dorset, celebrated for patronage of genius, found him by chance, as Burnet relates, reading Horace, and was so well pleased with his proficiency, that he undertook the care and cost of his academical education."[327]


It is doubtful, however, from one of Prior's epistles to Fleetwood Shepherd, whether the poet was more indebted to the Lord Dorset or to that gentleman for his first advancement in life, though the Earl finally became his great patron. He says to Shepherd,—

"Now, as you took me up when little

Gave me my learning and my vittle,

Asked for me, from my lord, things fitting

Kind, as I 'ad been your own begetting,

Confirm what formerly you've given,

Nor leave me now at six and seven,

As Sunderland has left Mun Stephen."

And again:—

"My uncle, rest his soul! when living,

Might have contrived me ways of thriving;

Taught me with cider to replenish

My vats, or ebbing tide of Rhenish;

So, when for hock I drew pricked white-wine,

Swear 't had the flavour, and was right-wine;

Or sent me with ten pounds to Furni-

Val's Inn, to some good rogue attorney;

Where now, by forging deeds and cheating,

I 'ad found some handsome ways of getting.

All this you made me quit to follow

That sneaking, whey-fac'd god Apollo;

Sent me among a fiddling crew

Of folks, I 'ad never seen nor knew,

Calliope, and God knows who.

I add no more invectives to it,

You spoiled the youth to make a poet."

Johnson says "A survey of the life and writings of Prior may exemplify a sentence which he doubtless understood well when he read Horace at his uncle's; 'the vessel long retains the scent which it first receives.' In his private relaxation he revived the tavern, and in his amorous pedantry he exhibited the college. But on higher occasions and nobler subjects, when habit was overpowered by the necessity of reflection, he wanted not wisdom as a statesman, or elegance as a poet." It is doubtful whether the general colour of everybody's life and character might not be found in that of his childhood; but there is no more reason to think that Prior's tavern propensities were owing to early habit than those of his patrician companions. No man was fonder of his bottle than Lord Dorset, and of low company than many a lord has been. According to Burke, who was a king's man, kings are naturally fond of low company. Yet they are no nephews of 368 tavern-keepers. Nor does it appear that Prior did anything in his uncle's house but pass the time and read.

Thomson wrote part of his "Seasons" in the room over the shop of Mr. Egerton, bookseller, where he resided when he first came to London. He was at that time a raw Scotchman, gaping about town, getting his pocket picked, and obliged to wait upon great men with his poem of "Winter." Luckily his admiration of freedom did not hinder him from acquiring the highest patronage. He obtained an easy place, which required no compromise with his principles, and passed the latter part of his life in a dwelling of his own at Richmond, writing in his garden, and listening to nightingales. He was of an indolent constitution, and has been seen in his garden eating peaches off the trees, with his hands in his waistcoat pockets. But his indolence did not hinder him from writing. He had the luck to have the occupation he was fond of; and no man perhaps in his native country, with the exception of Shakspeare, has acquired a greater or more unenvied fame. His friends loved him, and his readers love his memory.

In Spring Gardens, originally a place of public entertainment, died Mrs. Centlivre, the sprightly authoress of the "Wonder," the "Busy Body," and the "Bold Stroke for a Wife." She was buried at St. Martin's. She is said to have been a beauty, an accomplished linguist, and a good-natured friendly woman. Pope put her in his "Dunciad," for having written, it is said, a ballad against his "Homer" when she was a child! But the probability is that she was too intimate with Steele and other friends of Addison while the irritable poet was at variance with them. It is not impossible, also, that some raillery of hers might have been applied to him, not very pleasant from a beautiful woman against a man of his personal infirmities, who was naturally jealous of not being well with the sex. Mrs. Centlivre is said to have been seduced when young by Anthony Hammond, father of the author of the "Love Elegies," who took her to Cambridge with him in boy's clothes. This did not hinder her from marrying a nephew of Sir Stephen Fox, who died a year thereafter; nor from having two husbands afterwards. Her second was an officer in the army, of the name of Carrol, who, to her great sorrow, was killed in a duel. Her third husband, Mr. Centlivre, who had the formidable title of Yeoman of the Mouth, being principal cook to Queen Anne, fell in love with her when she was performing the part of 369 Alexander the Great, at Windsor; for she appears at one time to have been an actress, though she never performed in London. Mrs. Centlivre's dramas are not in the taste of Mrs. Hannah More's, but the public still have a regard for them. All the plays above-mentioned are stock pieces. The reason is, that, careless as they are in dialogue, and not very scrupulous in manners, they are full of action and good-humour.

Hedge Lane retained its name till lately, when, ceasing to be a heap of squalidity, it was new christened and received the appellation of Dorset Place. Part of it is merged in Pall Mall East. It is now the handsomest end of the thoroughfare which runs up into Oxford Road, and takes the successive names of Whitcomb, Princes, and Wardour Streets. Not long ago the whole thoroughfare appears to have been called Hedge Lane. It is related of Steele, Budgel, and Philips, that, issuing from a tavern one day in Gerrard Street, they were about to turn into Hedge Lane, when they were told that some suspicious-looking persons were standing there as if in wait. "Thank ye," said the wits, and hurried three different ways.

It is not pleasant to have old places altered which are connected with interesting recollections, even if the place or recollection be none of the pleasantest. When the houses in Suffolk Street were pulled down, we could not help regretting that the abode was among them in which poor Miss Vanhomrigh lived, who died for love of Swift. She resided there with her mother, the widow of a Dutch merchant, and had a small fortune. Swift while in England, upon the affairs of the Irish Church, was introduced to them, and became so intimate as to leave his best gown and cassock there for convenience. He found the coffee also very pleasant, and gradually became too much interested in the romantic spirit and flattering attentions of the young lady, whose studies he condescended to direct, and who, in short, fell in love with him at an age when he was old enough to be her father. Unluckily he was married; and most unluckily he did not say a word about the matter. It is curious to observe in the letters which he sent over to Stella (his wife), with what an affected indifference he speaks of the Vanhomrighs and his visits to them, evidently thinking it necessary all the while to account for their frequency. When he left England, Miss Vanhomrigh, after the death of her mother, followed him, and proposed that he should either marry or refuse her. He would do neither. 370

At length both the ladies, the married and unmarried, discovered their mutual secret: a discovery which is supposed ultimately to have hastened the death of both. Miss Vanhomrigh's survival of it was short—not many weeks. For what may remain to be said on this painful subject the reader will allow us to quote a passage from one of the magazines.

"There was a vanity, perhaps, on both sides, though it may be wrong to attribute a passion wholly to that infirmity, where the object of it is not only a person celebrated, but one full of wit and entertainment. The vanity was certainly not the less on his side. Many conjectures have been made respecting the nature of this connection of Swift's, as well as another more mysterious. The whole truth, in the former instance, appears obvious enough. Swift, partly from vanity, and partly from a more excusable craving after some recreation of his natural melancholy, had suffered himself to take a pleasure, and exhibit an interest, in the conversation of an intelligent young woman, beyond what he ought to have done. An attachment on her part ensued, not greater, perhaps, than he contemplated with a culpable satisfaction as long as it threatened no very great disturbance of his peace, but which must have given him great remorse in after-times, when he reflected upon his encouragement of it. On the occasion of its disclosure his self-love inspired him with one of his most poetical fancies:—

'Cadenus many things had writ;

Vanessa much esteemed his wit,

And called for his poetic works:

Meanwhile the boy in secret lurks,

And while the book was in her hand

The urchin from his private stand,

Took aim, and shot with all his strength

A dart of such prodigious length,

It pierced the feeble volume through,

And deep transfixed her bosom too.

Some lines more moving than the rest,

Stuck to the point that pierced her breast,

And borne directly to the heart,

With pains unknown increased her smart.

Vanessa, not in years a score,

Dreams of a gown of forty-four,

Imaginary charms can find

In eyes with reading almost blind:

Cadenus now no more appears

Declined in health, advanced in years,

She fancies music in his tongue,

Nor farther looks, but thinks him young.'

"A reflection ensues which it is a pity he had not made before:—

'What mariner is not afraid

To venture in a ship decayed?

What planter will attempt to yoke

A sapling with a fallen oak?


As years increase she brighter shines,

Cadenus with each day declines;

And he must fall a prey to time

While she continues in her prime.'

"If he had thought of this when he used to go to her mother's house in order to change his wig and gown and drink coffee, he would have avoided those encouragements of Miss Vanhomrigh's sympathy and admiration, which must have given rise to very bitter reflections when she read such passages as the lines that follow:—

'Cadenus, common forms apart,

In every scene had kept his heart;

Had sighed and languished, vowed and writ,

For pastime, or to show his wit.'

"It was sport to him, but death to her. His allegations of not being conscious of anything on her part, are not to be trusted. There are few men whose self-love is not very sharp-sighted on such occasions,—men of wit in particular; nor was Swift, notwithstanding the superiority he assumed over fopperies of all sorts, and the great powers which gave a passport to the assumption, exempt, perhaps, from any species of vanity. The more airs he gives himself on that point, the less we are to believe him. He was fond of lords and great ladies, and levees, and canonicals, and of having the verger to walk before him. He saw very well, we may be assured, the impression which he made on the young lady; but he hoped, as others have hoped, that it would accommodate itself to circumstances in cases of necessity; or he pretended to himself that he was too modest to believe it a great one; or sacrificing her ultimate good to her present pleasure and to his own, he put off the disagreeable day of alteration and self-denial till it was too late. There are many reasons why Swift should have acted otherwise, and why no man, at any time of life, should hazard the peace of another by involvements which he cannot handsomely follow up. If he does, he is bound to do what he can for it to the last."[328]

The famous Calves' Head Club (in ridicule of the memory of Charles I.) was held at a tavern in Suffolk Street; at least the assembly of it was held there which made so much noise in the last century, and produced a riot. At this meeting it was said that a bleeding calf's head had been thrown out of the window, wrapt up in a napkin, and that the members drank damnation to the race of the Stuarts. This was believed till the other day, and has often been lamented as a disgusting instance of party spirit. To say the truth, the very name of the club was disgusting, and a dishonour to the men who invented it. It was more befitting their own heads. But the particulars above mentioned are untrue. The letter has been set right by the publication of "Spence's Anecdotes," at the end of which are some letters to Mr. Spence, including one from Lord Middlesex, giving the real account of the 372 affair. By the style of the letter the reader may judge what sort of heads the members had, and what was reckoned the polite way of speaking to a waiter in those days:—

Whitehall, Feb. ye 9th, 1735.

"Dear Spanco,

"I don't in the least doubt but long before this time the noise of the riot on the 30 of Jan. has reached you at Oxford, and though there has been as many lies and false reports raised upon the occasion in this good city as any reasonable man could expect, yet I fancy even those may be improved or increased before they come to you. Now, that you may be able to defend your friends (as I don't in the least doubt you have an inclination to do), I'll send you the matter of fact literally and truly as it happened, upon my honour. Eight of us happened to meet together the 30th of January, it might have been the 10th of June, or any other day in the year, but the mixture of the company has convinced most reasonable people by this time that it was not a designed or premeditated affair. We met, then, as I told you before, by chance upon this day, and after dinner, having drunk very plentifully, especially some of the company, some of us going to the window unluckily saw a little nasty fire made by some boys in the street, of straw I think it was, and immediately cried out, 'Damn it, why should not we have a fire as well as anybody else?' Up comes the drawer, 'Damn you, you rascal, get us a bonfire.' Upon which the imprudent puppy runs down, and without making any difficulty (which he might have done by a thousand excuses, and which if he had, in all probability, some of us would have come more to our senses), sends for the faggots, and in an instant behold a large fire blazing before the door. Upon which some of us, wiser, or rather soberer, than the rest, bethinking themselves then, for the first time, what day it was, and fearing the consequences a bonfire on that day might have, proposed drinking loyal and popular healths to the mob (out of the window), which by this time was very great, in order to convince them we did not intend it as a ridicule upon that day. The healths that were drank out of the window were these, and these only: The King, Queen, and Royal Family, the Protestant Succession, Liberty and Property, the present Administration. Upon which the first stone was flung, and then began our siege: which, for the time it lasted, was at least as furious as that of Philipsbourgh; it was more than an hour before we got any assistance; the more sober part of us, doing this, had a fine time of it, fighting to prevent fighting; in danger of being knocked on the head by the stones that came in at the windows; in danger of being run through by our mad friends, who, sword in hand, swore they would go out, though they first made their way through us. At length the justice, attended by a strong body of guards, came and dispersed the populace. The person who first stirred up the mob is known; he first gave them money, and then harangued them in a most violent manner; I don't know if he did not fling the first stone himself. He is an Irishman and a priest, and belonging to Imberti, the Venetian Envoy. This is the whole story from which so many calves' heads, bloody napkins, and the Lord knows what has been made; it has been the talk of the town and the country, and small beer and bread and cheese to my friends the Garretters 373 in Grub Street, for these few days past. I, as well as your friends, hope to see you soon in town. After so much prose, I can't help ending with a few verses:—

O had I lived in merry Charles's days,

When dull the wise were called, and wit had praise;

When deepest politics could never pass

For aught, but surer tokens of an ass;

When not the frolicks of one drunken night

Could touch your honour, make your fame less bright,

Tho' mob-form'd scandal rag'd, and Papal spight.


The author of a "Secret History of the Calves' Head Club, or the Republicans Unmasked" (supposed to be Ned Ward, of ale-house memory), attributes the origin to Milton and some other friends of the Commonwealth, in opposition to Bishop Juxon, Dr. Sanderson, and others, who met privately every 30th of January, and had compiled a private form of service for the day, not very different from that now in use.

"After the Restoration," says the writer, "the eyes of the Government being upon the whole party, they were obliged to meet with a great deal of precaution; but in the reign of King William they met almost in a public manner, apprehending no danger." The writer farther tells us, he was informed that it was kept in no fixed house, but that they moved as they thought convenient. The place where they met when his informant was with them was in a blind alley near Moorfields, where an axe hung up in the club-room, and was reverenced as a principal symbol in this diabolical sacrament. Their bill of fare was a large dish of calves' heads, dressed several ways, by which they represented the king and his friends who had suffered in his cause; a large pike, with a small one in his mouth, as an emblem of tyranny; a large cod's head by which they intended to represent the person of the king singly; a boar's head with an apple in its mouth, to represent the king by this as bestial, as by their other hieroglyphics they had done foolish and tyrannical. After the repast was over, one of their elders presented an Icon Basilike, which was with great solemnity burnt upon the table, whilst the other anthems were singing. After this, another produced Milton's Defensio Populi Anglicani, upon which all laid their hands, and made a protestation in form of an oath for ever to stand by and maintain the same. The company only consisted of Independents and Anabaptists; and the famous Jeremy White, formerly chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, who no doubt came to sanctify with his pious exhortations the ribaldry of the day, said grace. After the table-cloth was removed, the anniversary anthem, as they impiously called it, was sung, and a calf's skull filled with wine, or other liquor; and then a brimmer went about to the pious memory of those worthy patriots who had killed the tyrant and relieved their country from his arbitrary sway: and, lastly, a collection was made for the mercenary scribbler, to which every man contributed according to his zeal for the cause and ability of his purse."

"Although no great reliance," says Mr. Wilson, from whose life of De Foe this passage is extracted, "is to be placed upon the faithfulness 374 of Ward's narrative, yet, in the frighted mind of a high-flying churchman, which was continually haunted by such scenes, the caricature would easily pass for a likeness." "It is probable," adds the honest biographer of De Foe, "that the persons thus collected together to commemorate the triumph of their principles, although in a manner dictated by bad taste, and outrageous to humanity, would have confined themselves to the ordinary methods of eating and drinking, if it had not been for the ridiculous farce so generally acted by the royalists upon the same day. The trash that issued from the pulpit in this reign, upon the 30th of January, was such as to excite the worst passions in the hearers. Nothing can exceed the grossness of language employed upon these occasions. Forgetful even of common decorum, the speakers ransacked the vocabulary of the vulgar for terms of vituperation, and hurled their anathemas with wrath and fury against the objects of their hatred. The terms rebel and fanatic were so often upon their lips, that they became the reproach of honest men, who preferred the scandal to the slavery they attempted to establish. Those who could profane the pulpit with so much rancour in the support of senseless theories, and deal it out to the people for religion, had little reason to complain of a few absurd men who mixed politics and calves' heads at a tavern; and s