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Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb

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Title: The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb
       Miscellaneous Prose

Author: Charles Lamb
        Mary Lamb

Editor: E.V. Lucas

Release Date: October 8, 2012 [EBook #40988]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at





The Pocket Edition of the Works of Charles Lamb: I. Miscellaneous Prose; II. Elia; III. Children's Books; IV. Poems and Plays; V. and VI. Letters.

Charles Lamb (aged 30)
In the dress of a Venetian Senator,
From a painting by William Hazlitt.








First Published in this form (Fcap. 8vo) in 1912

This Work was first Published in Seven Volumes (Demy 8vo) in 1903-5


This edition is the same as that in seven large volumes published between 1903 and 1905, except that it has been revised and amended and arranged in more companionable shape. Some new matter is included; some doubtful matter has been removed; and the notes, although occasionally enriched, have been reduced in number and often condensed. For completer annotation as well as for portraits and accessory illustrations the old edition must be consulted.

The present volume contains all Lamb's prose, with the exception of his work for children, his full notes in the Dramatic Specimens and Garrick Extracts, his prose plays and the Elia essays. The contents have been arranged in their order of publication, the earliest dating from 1798, when Lamb was twenty-three, and the latest belonging to 1834, the year of his death—thus covering the whole of his literary life.

In Mr. Bedford's design for the cover of this edition certain Elian symbolism will be found. The upper coat of arms is that of Christ's Hospital, where Lamb was at school; the lower is that of the Inner Temple, where he was born and spent many years. The figures at the bells are those which once stood out from the façade of St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street, and are now in Lord Londesborough's garden in Regent's Park. Lamb shed tears when they were removed. The tricksy sprite and the candles (brought by Betty) need no explanatory words of mine.

E. V. L.

[Pg vii]


Rosamund Gray1438
Curious fragments, extracted from a commonplace-book which belonged to Robert Burton, the famous Author of The Anatomy of Melancholy35440
Early Journalism41442
I.G. F. Cooke in "Richard the Third"41442
II.Grand State Bed44442
III.Fable for Twelfth Day44444
IV.The Londoner46444
Characters of Dramatic Writers, Contemporary with Shakspeare48445
On the Inconveniences Resulting from Being Hanged65445
On the Danger of Confounding Moral with Personal Deformity: with a Hint to those who have the Framing of Advertisements for Apprehending Offenders74448
On the Ambiguities Arising from Proper Names80448
On the Genius and Character of Hogarth; with some Remarks on a Passage in the Writings of the Late Mr. Barry81448
On the Custom of Hissing at the Theatres, with some Account of a Club of Damned Authors101449
On Burial Societies; and the Character of an Undertaker107451
On the Tragedies of Shakspeare, Considered with Reference to their Fitness for Stage Representation112451
Specimens from the Writings of Fuller, the Church Historian130453
Edax on Appetite138454
Hospita on the Immoderate Indulgence of the Pleasures of the Palate145454
The Good Clerk, a Character; with some Account of "The Complete English Tradesman"148455
Memoir of Robert Lloyd153455
Confessions of a Drunkard154456
Recollections of Christ's Hospital162460
Table-Talk in The Examiner174464
I.Reynolds and Leonardo Da Vinci174464
II.The New Acting176465
III.Books with one Idea in them178466
IV.A Sylvan Surprise179467
V.Street Conversation179467
VI.A Town Residence180467
VII.Gray's Bard181468
VIII.An American War for Helen182468
IX.Dryden and Collier183468
X.Play-house Memoranda184468
Review of The Excursion187469
On the Melancholy of Tailors200473
On Needle-work204477
On the Poetical Works of George Wither210477
Five Dramatic Criticisms215484
I.Mrs. Gould (Miss Burrell) in "Don Giovanni"215484
II.Miss Kelly at Bath217485
III.Richard Brome's "Jovial Crew"219486
IV.Isaac Bickerstaff's "Hypocrite"221489
V.New Pieces at the Lyceum222490
Four Reviews225491
I.Falstaff's Letters225491
II.Charles Lloyd's Poems229493
III.Barron Field's Poems232493
IV.Keats' "Lamia"235494
Sir Thomas More239495
The Confessions of H. F. V. H. Delamore, Esq.246496
The Gentle Giantess248497
Letter to an Old Gentleman whose Education has been Neglected251497
Ritson versus John Scott the Quaker257498
Letter of Elia to Robert Southey265498
Guy Faux278509
Nugæ Criticæ: On a Passage in "The Tempest"285511
Original Letter of James Thomson288512
Biographical Memoir of Mr. Liston292512
A Vision of Horns299513
The Illustrious Defunct304514
Unitarian Protests310514
Autobiography of Mr. Munden314515
The "Lepus" Papers317515
I.Many Friends317516
II.Readers against the Grain319516
III.Mortifications of an Author322516
IV.Tom Pry324516
V.Tom Pry's Wife326517
VI.A Character327517
Reflections in the Pillory329518
The Last Peach333519
"Odes and Addresses to Great People"335519
The Religion of Actors337521
A Popular Fallacy340523
Reminiscences of Juke Judkins, Esq., of Birmingham342523
Contributions to Hone's Every-Day Book and Table Book349523
I.Remarkable Correspondent349527
II.Captain Starkey351528
III.Twelfth of August354528
IV.The Ass356529
V.In re Squirrels359530
VI.An Appearance of the Season360531
VII.The Months361531
VIII.Reminiscence of Sir Jeffery Dunstan366532
IX.Mrs. Gilpin Riding to Edmonton368533
X.The Defeat of Time369534
An Autobiographical Sketch375535
Shakspeare's Improvers376535
Saturday Night379537
Estimate of De Foe's Secondary Novels381537
Clarence Songs383539
Recollections of a Late Royal Academician385540
The Latin Poems of Vincent Bourne391544
The Death of Munden397545
Thoughts on Presents of Game, &c.398546
Table-Talk by the Late Elia400547
The Death of Coleridge406549
Cupid's Revenge407550


Essays and Notes Not Certain To Be Lamb's, But Probably His

Scraps of Criticism425551
The Miscellany427552
Review of Dibdin's Comic Tales429552
Dog Days430553
The Progress of Cant431554
Mr. Ephraim Wagstaff432554
Review of Moxon's Sonnets435554



Charles Lamb (aged 30) in the Dress of a Venetian Senator
From A Painting By William Hazlitt Now in the National Portrait Gallery

[Pg 1]


(Written 1797-1798. First Edition 1798. Text of 1818)


It was noontide. The sun was very hot. An old gentlewoman sat spinning in a little arbour at the door of her cottage. She was blind; and her grandaughter was reading the Bible to her. The old lady had just left her work, to attend to the story of Ruth.

"Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her." It was a passage she could not let pass without a comment. The moral she drew from it was not very new, to be sure. The girl had heard it a hundred times before—and a hundred times more she could have heard it, without suspecting it to be tedious. Rosamund loved her grandmother.

The old lady loved Rosamund too; and she had reason for so doing. Rosamund was to her at once a child and a servant. She had only her left in the world. They two lived together.

They had once known better days. The story of Rosamund's parents, their failure, their folly, and distresses, may be told another time. Our tale hath grief enough in it.

It was now about a year and a half since old Margaret Gray had sold off all her effects, to pay the debts of Rosamund's father—just after the mother had died of a broken heart; for her husband had fled his country to hide his shame in a foreign land. At that period the old lady retired to a small cottage, in the village of Widford, in Hertfordshire.

Rosamund, in her thirteenth year, was left destitute, without fortune or friends: she went with her grandmother. In all this time she had served her faithfully and lovingly.

[Pg 2]

Old Margaret Gray, when she first came into these parts, had eyes, and could see. The neighbours said, they had been dimmed by weeping: be that as it may, she was latterly grown quite blind. "God is very good to us, child; I can feel you yet." This she would sometimes say; and we need not wonder to hear, that Rosamund clave unto her grandmother.

Margaret retained a spirit unbroken by calamity. There was a principle within, which it seemed as if no outward circumstances could reach. It was a religious principle, and she had taught it to Rosamund; for the girl had mostly resided with her grandmother from her earliest years. Indeed she had taught her all that she knew herself; and the old lady's knowledge did not extend a vast way.

Margaret had drawn her maxims from observation; and a pretty long experience in life had contributed to make her, at times, a little positive: but Rosamund never argued with her grandmother.

Their library consisted chiefly in a large family Bible, with notes and expositions by various learned expositors from Bishop Jewell downwards.

This might never be suffered to lie about like other books—but was kept constantly wrapt up in a handsome case of green velvet, with gold tassels—the only relick of departed grandeur they had brought with them to the cottage—every thing else of value had been sold off for the purpose above mentioned.

This Bible Rosamund, when a child, had never dared to open without permission; and even yet, from habit, continued the custom. Margaret had parted with none of her authority; indeed it was never exerted with much harshness; and happy was Rosamund, though a girl grown, when she could obtain leave to read her Bible. It was a treasure too valuable for an indiscriminate use; and Margaret still pointed out to her grandaughter where to read.

Besides this, they had the "Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man's Recreation," with cuts—"Pilgrim's Progress," the first part—a Cookery Book, with a few dry sprigs of rosemary and lavender stuck here and there between the leaves, (I suppose, to point to some of the old lady's most favorite receipts,) and there was "Wither's Emblems," an old book, and quaint. The old fashioned pictures in this last book were among the first exciters of the infant Rosamund's curi[Pg 3]osity. Her contemplation had fed upon them in rather older years.

Rosamund had not read many books besides these; or if any, they had been only occasional companions: these were to Rosamund as old friends, that she had long known. I know not whether the peculiar cast of her mind might not be traced, in part, to a tincture she had received, early in life, from Walton, and Wither, from John Bunyan, and her Bible.

Rosamund's mind was pensive and reflective, rather than what passes usually for clever or acute. From a child she was remarkably shy and thoughtful—this was taken for stupidity and want of feeling; and the child has been sometimes whipt for being a stubborn thing, when her little heart was almost bursting with affection.

Even now her grandmother would often reprove her, when she found her too grave or melancholy; give her sprightly lectures about good humour and rational mirth; and not unfrequently fall a crying herself, to the great discredit of her lecture. Those tears endeared her the more to Rosamund.

Margaret would say, "Child, I love you to cry, when I think you are only remembering your poor dear father and mother—I would have you think about them sometimes—it would be strange if you did not—but I fear, Rosamund; I fear, girl, you sometimes think too deeply about your own situation and poor prospects in life. When you do so, you do wrong—remember the naughty rich man in the parable. He never had any good thoughts about God, and his religion: and that might have been your case."

Rosamund, at these times, could not reply to her; she was not in the habit of arguing with her grandmother; so she was quite silent on these occasions—or else the girl knew well enough herself, that she had only been sad to think of the desolate condition of her best friend, to see her, in her old age, so infirm and blind. But she had never been used to make excuses, when the old lady said she was doing wrong.

The neighbours were all very kind to them. The veriest rustics never passed them without a bow, or a pulling off of the hat—some shew of courtesy, aukward indeed, but affectionate—with a "good morrow, madam," or "young madam," as it might happen.

Rude and savage natures, who seem born with a propensity[Pg 4] to express contempt for any thing that looks like prosperity, yet felt respect for its declining lustre.

The farmers, and better sort of people, (as they are called,) all promised to provide for Rosamund, when her grandmother should die. Margaret trusted in God, and believed them.

She used to say, "I have lived many years in the world, and have never known people, good people, to be left without some friend; a relation, a benefactor, a something. God knows our wants—that it is not good for man or woman to be alone; and he always sends us a helpmate, a leaning-place, a somewhat." Upon this sure ground of experience, did Margaret build her trust in Providence.


Rosamund had just made an end of her story, (as I was about to relate,) and was listening to the application of the moral, (which said application she was old enough to have made herself, but her grandmother still continued to treat her, in many respects, as a child, and Rosamund was in no haste to lay claim to the title of womanhood,) when a young gentleman made his appearance, and interrupted them.

It was young Allan Clare, who had brought a present of peaches, and some roses, for Rosamund.

He laid his little basket down on a seat of the arbour; and in a respectful tone of voice, as though he were addressing a parent, enquired of Margaret "how she did."

The old lady seemed pleased with his attentions—answered his enquiries by saying, that "her cough was less troublesome a-nights, but she had not yet got rid of it, and probably she never might; but she did not like to teaze young people with an account of her infirmities."

A few kind words passed on either side, when young Clare, glancing a tender look at the girl, who had all this time been silent, took leave of them with saying "I shall bring Elinor to see you in the evening."

When he was gone, the old lady began to prattle.

"That is a sweet dispositioned youth, and I do love him dearly, I must say it—there is such a modesty in all he says or does—he should not come here so often, to be sure, but I don't know how to help it; there is so much goodness in him, I can't find in my heart to forbid him. But, Rosamund, girl,[Pg 5] I must tell you beforehand; when you grow older, Mr. Clare must be no companion for you—while you were both so young, it was all very well—but the time is coming, when folks will think harm of it, if a rich young gentleman, like Mr. Clare, comes so often to our poor cottage.—Dost hear, girl? why don't you answer? come, I did not mean to say any thing to hurt you—speak to me, Rosamund—nay, I must not have you be sullen—I don't love people that are sullen."

And in this manner was this poor soul running on, unheard and unheeded, when it occurred to her, that possibly the girl might not be within hearing.

And true it was, that Rosamund had slunk away at the first mention of Mr. Clare's good qualities: and when she returned, which was not till a few minutes after Margaret had made an end of her fine harangue, it is certain her cheeks did look very rosy. That might have been from the heat of the day or from exercise, for she had been walking in the garden.

Margaret, we know, was blind; and, in this case, it was lucky for Rosamund that she was so, or she might have made some not unlikely surmises.

I must not have my reader infer from this, that I at all think it likely, a young maid of fourteen would fall in love without asking her grandmother's leave—the thing itself is not to be conceived.

To obviate all suspicions, I am disposed to communicate a little anecdote of Rosamund.

A month or two back her grandmother had been giving her the strictest prohibitions, in her walks, not to go near a certain spot, which was dangerous from the circumstance of a huge overgrown oak tree spreading its prodigious arms across a deep chalk-pit, which they partly concealed.

To this fatal place Rosamund came one day—female curiosity, we know, is older than the flood—let us not think hardly of the girl, if she partook of the sexual failing.

Rosamund ventured further and further—climbed along one of the branches—approached the forbidden chasm—her foot slipped—she was not killed—but it was by a mercy she escaped—other branches intercepted her fall—and with a palpitating heart she made her way back to the cottage.

It happened that evening, that her grandmother was in one of her best humours, caressed Rosamund, talked of old times,[Pg 6] and what a blessing it was they two found a shelter in their little cottage, and in conclusion told Rosamund, "she was a good girl, and God would one day reward her for her kindness to her old blind grandmother."

This was more than Rosamund could bear. Her morning's disobedience came fresh into her mind, she felt she did not deserve all this from Margaret, and at last burst into a fit of crying, and made confession of her fault. The old gentlewoman kissed and forgave her.

Rosamund never went near that naughty chasm again.

Margaret would never have heard of this, if Rosamund had not told of it herself. But this young maid had a delicate moral sense, which would not suffer her to take advantage of her grandmother, to deceive her, or conceal any thing from her, though Margaret was old, and blind, and easy to be imposed upon.

Another virtuous trait I recollect of Rosamund, and, now I am in the vein, will tell it.

Some, I know, will think these things trifles—and they are so—but if these minutiæ make my reader better acquainted with Rosamund, I am content to abide the imputation.

These promises of character, hints, and early indications of a sweet nature, are to me more dear, and choice in the selection, than any of those pretty wild flowers, which this young maid, this virtuous Rosamund, has ever gathered in a fine May morning, to make a posy to place in the bosom of her old blind friend.

Rosamund had a very just notion of drawing, and would often employ her talent in making sketches of the surrounding scenery.

On a landscape, a larger piece than she had ever yet attempted, she had now been working for three or four months. She had taken great pains with it, given much time to it, and it was nearly finished. For whose particular inspection it was designed, I will not venture to conjecture. We know it could not have been for her grandmother's.

One day she went out on a short errand, and left her landscape on the table. When she returned she found it gone.

Rosamund from the first suspected some mischief, but held her tongue. At length she made the fatal discovery. Margaret, in her absence, had laid violent hands on it; not knowing what it was, but taking it for some waste paper, had[Pg 7] torn it in half, and with one half of this elaborate composition had twisted herself up—a thread-paper!

Rosamund spread out her hands at sight of the disaster, gave her grandmother a roguish smile, but said not a word. She knew the poor soul would only fret, if she told her of it,—and when once Margaret was set a fretting for other people's misfortunes, the fit held her pretty long.

So Rosamund that very afternoon began another piece of the same size and subject; and Margaret, to her dying day, never dreamed of the mischief she had unconsciously done.


Rosamund Gray was the most beautiful young creature that eyes ever beheld. Her face had the sweetest expression in it—a gentleness—a modesty—a timidity—a certain charm—a grace without a name.

There was a sort of melancholy mingled in her smile. It was not the thoughtless levity of a girl—it was not the restrained simper of premature womanhood—it was something which the poet Young might have remembered, when he composed that perfect line,

"Soft, modest, melancholy, female, fair."

She was a mild-eyed maid, and every body loved her. Young Allan Clare, when but a boy, sighed for her.

Her yellow hair fell in bright and curling clusters, like

"those hanging locks
Of young Apollo."

Her voice was trembling and musical. A graceful diffidence pleaded for her whenever she spake—and, if she said but little, that little found its way to the heart.

Young, and artless, and innocent, meaning no harm, and thinking none; affectionate as a smiling infant—playful, yet inobtrusive, as a weaned lamb—every body loved her. Young Allan Clare, when but a boy, sighed for her.

The moon is shining in so brightly at my window, where I write, that I feel it a crime not to suspend my employment awhile to gaze at her.

[Pg 8]

See how she glideth, in maiden honor, through the clouds, who divide on either side to do her homage.

Beautiful vision!—as I contemplate thee, an internal harmony is communicated to my mind, a moral brightness, a tacit analogy of mental purity; a calm like that we ascribe in fancy to the favored inhabitants of thy fairy regions, "argent fields."

I marvel not, O moon, that heathen people, in the "olden times," did worship thy deity—Cynthia, Diana, Hecate. Christian Europe invokes thee not by these names now—her idolatry is of a blacker stain: Belial is her God—she worships Mammon.

False things are told concerning thee, fair planet—for I will ne'er believe, that thou canst take a perverse pleasure in distorting the brains of us poor mortals. Lunatics! moonstruck! Calumny invented, and folly took up, these names. I would hope better things from thy mild aspect and benign influences.

Lady of Heaven, thou lendest thy pure lamp to light the way to the virgin mourner, when she goes to seek the tomb where her warrior lover lies.

Friend of the distressed, thou speakest only peace to the lonely sufferer, who walks forth in the placid evening, beneath thy gentle light, to chide at fortune, or to complain of changed friends, or unhappy loves.

Do I dream, or doth not even now a heavenly calm descend from thee into my bosom, as I meditate on the chaste loves of Rosamund and her Clare?


Allan Clare was just two years elder than Rosamund. He was a boy of fourteen, when he first became acquainted with her—it was soon after she had come to reside with her grandmother at Widford.

He met her by chance one day, carrying a pitcher in her hand, which she had been filling from a neighbouring well—the pitcher was heavy, and she seemed to be bending with its weight.

Allan insisted on carrying it for her—for he thought it a sin, that a delicate young maid, like her, should be so employed, and he stand idle by.

Allan had a propensity to do little kind offices for every body—but at the sight of Rosamund Gray his first fire was[Pg 9] kindled—his young mind seemed to have found an object, and his enthusiasm was from that time forth awakened. His visits, from that day, were pretty frequent at the cottage.

He was never happier than when he could get Rosamund to walk out with him. He would make her admire the scenes he admired—fancy the wild flowers he fancied—watch the clouds he was watching—and not unfrequently repeat to her poetry, which he loved, and make her love it.

On their return, the old lady, who considered them yet as but children, would bid Rosamund fetch Mr. Clare a glass of her currant wine, a bowl of new milk, or some cheap dainty, which was more welcome to Allan than the costliest delicacies of a prince's court.

The boy and girl, for they were no more at that age, grew fond of each other—more fond than either of them suspected.

"They would sit, and sigh,
And look upon each other, and conceive
Not what they ail'd; yet something they did ail,
And yet were well—and yet they were not well;
And what was their disease, they could not tell.

And thus,

In this first garden of their simpleness
They spent their childhood."

A circumstance had lately happened, which in some sort altered the nature of their attachment.

Rosamund was one day reading the tale of "Julia de Roubigné"—a book which young Clare had lent her.

Allan was standing by, looking over her, with one hand thrown round her neck, and a finger of the other pointing to a passage in Julia's third letter.

"Maria! in my hours of visionary indulgence, I have sometimes painted to myself a husband—no matter whom—comforting me amidst the distresses, which fortune had laid upon us. I have smiled upon him through my tears; tears, not of anguish, but of tenderness;—our children were playing around us, unconscious of misfortune; we had taught them to be humble, and to be happy; our little shed was reserved to us, and their smiles to cheer it.—I have imagined the luxury of such a scene, and affliction became a part of my dream of happiness."

The girl blushed as she read, and trembled—she had a[Pg 10] sort of confused sensation, that Allan was noticing her—yet she durst not lift her eyes from the book, but continued reading, scarce knowing what she read.

Allan guessed the cause of her confusion. Allan trembled too—his colour came and went—his feeling became impetuous—and, flinging both arms round her neck, he kissed his young favourite.

Rosamund was vexed and pleased, soothed and frightened, all in a moment—a fit of tears came to her relief.

Allan had indulged before in these little freedoms, and Rosamund had thought no harm of them—but from this time the girl grew timid and reserved—distant in her manner, and careful of her behaviour, in Allan's presence—not seeking his society as before, but rather shunning it—delighting more to feed upon his idea in absence.

Allan too, from this day, seemed changed: his manner became, though not less tender, yet more respectful and diffident—his bosom felt a throb it had till now not known, in the society of Rosamund—and, if he was less familiar with her than in former times, that charm of delicacy had superadded a grace to Rosamund, which, while he feared, he loved.

There is a mysterious character, heightened indeed by fancy and passion, but not without foundation in reality and observation, which true lovers have ever imputed to the object of their affections. This character Rosamund had now acquired with Allan—something angelic, perfect, exceeding nature.

Young Clare dwelt very near to the cottage. He had lost his parents, who were rather wealthy, early in life; and was left to the care of a sister, some ten years older than himself.

Elinor Clare was an excellent young lady—discreet, intelligent, and affectionate. Allan revered her as a parent, while he loved her as his own familiar friend. He told all the little secrets of his heart to her—but there was one, which he had hitherto unaccountably concealed from her—namely, the extent of his regard for Rosamund.

Elinor knew of his visits to the cottage, and was no stranger to the persons of Margaret and her grandaughter. She had several times met them, when she had been walking with her brother—a civility usually passed on either side—but Elinor avoided troubling her brother with any unseasonable questions.

Allan's heart often beat, and he has been going to tell his[Pg 11] sister all—but something like shame (false or true, I shall not stay to enquire) had hitherto kept him back—still the secret, unrevealed, hung upon his conscience like a crime—for his temper had a sweet and noble frankness in it, which bespake him yet a virgin from the world.

There was a fine openness in his countenance—the character of it somewhat resembled Rosamund's—except that more fire and enthusiasm were discernible in Allan's—his eyes were of a darker blue than Rosamund's—his hair was of a chesnut colour—his cheeks ruddy, and tinged with brown. There was a cordial sweetness in Allan's smile, the like to which I never saw in any other face.

Elinor had hitherto connived at her brother's attachment to Rosamund. Elinor, I believe, was something of a physiognomist, and thought she could trace in the countenance and manner of Rosamund qualities, which no brother of her's need be ashamed to love.

The time was now come, when Elinor was desirous of knowing her brother's favorite more intimately—an opportunity offered of breaking the matter to Allan.

The morning of the day, in which he carried his present of fruit and flowers to Rosamund, his sister had observed him more than usually busy in the garden, culling fruit with a nicety of choice not common to him.

She came up to him, unobserved, and, taking him by the arm, enquired, with a questioning smile—"What are you doing, Allan? and who are those peaches designed for?"

"For Rosamund Gray"—he replied—and his heart seemed relieved of a burthen, which had long oppressed it.

"I have a mind to become acquainted with your handsome friend—will you introduce me, Allan? I think I should like to go and see her this afternoon."

"Do go, do go, Elinor—you don't know what a good creature she is—and old blind Margaret, you will like her very much."

His sister promised to accompany him after dinner; and they parted. Allan gathered no more peaches, but hastily cropping a few roses to fling into his basket, went away with it half filled, being impatient to announce to Rosamund the coming of her promised visitor.

[Pg 12]


When Allan returned home, he found an invitation had been left for him, in his absence, to spend that evening with a young friend, who had just quitted a public school in London, and was come to pass one night in his father's house at Widford, previous to his departure the next morning for Edinburgh University.

It was Allan's bosom friend—they had not met for some months—and it was probable, a much longer time must intervene, before they should meet again.

Yet Allan could not help looking a little blank, when he first heard of the invitation. This was to have been an important evening. But Elinor soon relieved her brother, by expressing her readiness to go alone to the cottage.

"I will not lose the pleasure I promised myself, whatever you may determine upon, Allan—I will go by myself rather than be disappointed."

"Will you, will you, Elinor?"

Elinor promised to go—and I believe, Allan, on a second thought, was not very sorry to be spared the aukwardness of introducing two persons to each other, both so dear to him, but either of whom might happen not much to fancy the other.

At times, indeed, he was confident that Elinor must love Rosamund, and Rosamund must love Elinor—but there were also times in which he felt misgivings—it was an event he could scarce hope for very joy!

Allan's real presence that evening was more at the cottage than at the house, where his bodily semblance was visiting—his friend could not help complaining of a certain absence of mind, a coldness he called it.

It might have been expected, and in the course of things predicted, that Allan would have asked his friend some questions of what had happened since their last meeting, what his feelings were on leaving school, the probable time when they should meet again, and a hundred natural questions which friendship is most lavish of at such times; but nothing of all this ever occurred to Allan—they did not even settle the method of their future correspondence.

The consequence was, as might have been expected, Allan's friend thought him much altered, and, after his departure, sat down to compose a doleful sonnet about a "faithless friend."[Pg 13]—I do not find that he ever finished it—indignation, or a dearth of rhymes, causing him to break off in the middle.


In my catalogue of the little library at the cottage, I forgot to mention a book of Common Prayer. My reader's fancy might easily have supplied the omission—old ladies of Margaret's stamp (God bless them) may as well be without their spectacles, or their elbow chair, as their prayer book—I love them for it.

Margaret's was a handsome octavo, printed by Baskerville, the binding red, and fortified with silver at the edges. Out of this book it was their custom every afternoon to read the proper psalms appointed for the day.

The way they managed was this: they took verse by verse—Rosamund read her little portion, and Margaret repeated hers, in turn, from memory—for Margaret could say all the Psalter by heart, and a good part of the Bible besides. She would not unfrequently put the girl right when she stumbled or skipped. This Margaret imputed to giddiness—a quality which Rosamund was by no means remarkable for—but old ladies, like Margaret, are not in all instances alike discriminative.

They had been employed in this manner just before Miss Clare arrived at the cottage. The psalm they had been reading was the hundred and fourth—Margaret was naturally led by it into a discussion of the works of creation.

There had been thunder in the course of the day—an occasion of instruction which the old lady never let pass—she began—

"Thunder has a very awful sound—some say, God Almighty is angry whenever it thunders—that it is the voice of God speaking to us—for my part, I am not afraid of it"—

And in this manner the old lady was going on to particularise, as usual, its beneficial effects, in clearing the air, destroying of vermin, &c. when the entrance of Miss Clare put an end to her discourse.

Rosamund received her with respectful tenderness—and, taking her grandmother by the hand, said, with great sweetness, "Miss Clare is come to see you, grandmother."

"I beg pardon, lady—I cannot see you—but you are[Pg 14] heartily welcome—is your brother with you, Miss Clare? I don't hear him."—

"He could not come, madam, but he sends his love by me."

"You have an excellent brother, Miss Clare—but pray do us the honor to take some refreshment—Rosamund"——

And the old lady was going to give directions for a bottle of her currant wine—when Elinor, smiling, said "she was come to take a cup of tea with her, and expected to find no ceremony."

"After tea, I promise myself a walk with you, Rosamund, if your grandmother can spare you."—Rosamund looked at her grandmother.

"O, for that matter, I should be sorry to debar the girl from any pleasure—I am sure it's lonesome enough for her to be with me always—and if Miss Clare will take you out, child, I shall do very well by myself till you return—it will not be the first time, you know, that I have been left here alone—some of the neighbours will be dropping in bye and bye—or, if not, I shall take no harm."

Rosamund had all the simple manners of a child—she kissed her grandmother, and looked happy.

All tea-time the old lady's discourse was little more than a panegyric on young Clare's good qualities. Elinor looked at her young friend, and smiled. Rosamund was beginning to look grave—but there was a cordial sunshine in the face of Elinor, before which any clouds of reserve, that had been gathering on Rosamund's soon brake away.

"Does your grandmother ever go out, Rosamund?"

Margaret prevented the girl's reply, by saying—"my dear young lady, I am an old woman, and very infirm—Rosamund takes me a few paces beyond the door sometimes—but I walk very badly—I love best to sit in our little arbour, when the sun shines—I can yet feel it warm and cheerful—and, if I lose the beauties of the season, I shall be very happy if you and Rosamund can take delight in this fine summer evening."

"I shall want to rob you of Rosamund's company now and then, if we like one another. I had hoped to have seen you, madam, at our house. I don't know whether we could not make room for you to come and live with us—what say you to it?—Allan would be proud to tend you, I am sure; and Rosamund and I should be nice company."

[Pg 15]

Margaret was all unused to such kindnesses, and wept—Margaret had a great spirit—yet she was not above accepting an obligation from a worthy person—there was a delicacy in Miss Clare's manner—she could have no interest, but pure goodness, to induce her to make the offer—at length the old lady spake from a full heart.

"Miss Clare, this little cottage received us in our distress—it gave us shelter when we had no home—we have praised God in it—and, while life remains, I think I shall never part from it—Rosamund does every thing for me—"

"And will do, grandmother, as long as I live;"—and then Rosamund fell a crying.

"You are a good girl, Rosamund, and if you do but find friends when I am dead and gone, I shall want no better accommodation while I live—but, God bless you, lady, a thousand times, for your kind offer."

Elinor was moved to tears, and, affecting a sprightliness, bade Rosamund prepare for her walk. The girl put on her white silk bonnet; and Elinor thought she had never beheld so lovely a creature.

They took leave of Margaret, and walked out together—they rambled over all Rosamund's favourite haunts—through many a sunny field—by secret glade or woodwalk, where the girl had wandered so often with her beloved Clare.

Who now so happy as Rosamund? She had oft-times heard Allan speak with great tenderness of his sister—she was now rambling, arm in arm, with that very sister, the "vaunted sister" of her friend, her beloved Clare.

Not a tree, not a bush, scarce a wild flower in their path, but revived in Rosamund some tender recollection, a conversation perhaps, or some chaste endearment. Life, and a new scene of things, were now opening before her—she was got into a fairy land of uncertain existence.

Rosamund was too happy to talk much—but Elinor was delighted with her when she did talk:—the girl's remarks were suggested, most of them, by the passing scene—and they betrayed, all of them, the liveliness of present impulse:—her conversation did not consist in a comparison of vapid feeling, an interchange of sentiment lip-deep—it had all the freshness of young sensation in it.

Sometimes they talked of Allan.

"Allan is very good," said Rosamund, "very good indeed[Pg 16] to my grandmother—he will sit with her, and hear her stories, and read to her, and try to divert her a hundred ways. I wonder sometimes he is not tired. She talks him to death!"

"Then you confess, Rosamund, that the old lady does tire you sometimes."

"Oh no, I did not mean that—it's very different—I am used to all her ways, and I can humour her, and please her, and I ought to do it, for she is the only friend I ever had in the world."

The new friends did not conclude their walk till it was late, and Rosamund began to be apprehensive about the old lady, who had been all this time alone.

On their return to the cottage, they found that Margaret had been somewhat impatient—old ladies, good old ladies, will be so at times—age is timorous and suspicious of danger, where no danger is.

Besides, it was Margaret's bed-time, for she kept very good hours—indeed, in the distribution of her meals, and sundry other particulars, she resembled the livers in the antique world, more than might well beseem a creature of this.

So the new friends parted for that night—Elinor having made Margaret promise to give Rosamund leave to come and see her the next day.


Miss Clare, we may be sure, made her brother very happy, when she told him of the engagement she had made for the morrow, and how delighted she had been with his handsome friend.

Allan, I believe, got little sleep that night. I know not, whether joy be not a more troublesome bed-fellow than grief—hope keeps a body very wakeful, I know.

Elinor Clare was the best good creature—the least selfish human being I ever knew—always at work for other people's good, planning other people's happiness—continually forgetful to consult for her own personal gratifications, except indirectly, in the welfare of another—while her parents lived, the most attentive of daughters—since they died, the kindest of sisters—I never knew but one like her.

It happens that I have some of this young lady's letters in my possession—I shall present my reader with one of them.[Pg 17] It was written a short time after the death of her mother, and addressed to a cousin, a dear friend of Elinor's, who was then on the point of being married to Mr. Beaumont, of Staffordshire, and had invited Elinor to assist at her nuptials. I will transcribe it with minute fidelity.

Elinor Clare to Maria Leslie

Widford, July the —, 17—.

Health, Innocence, and Beauty, shall be thy bridemaids, my sweet cousin. I have no heart to undertake the office. Alas! what have I to do in the house of feasting?

Maria! I fear lest my griefs should prove obtrusive. Yet bear with me a little—I have recovered already a share of my former spirits.

I fear more for Allan than myself. The loss of two such parents, with so short an interval, bears very heavy on him. The boy hangs about me from morning till night. He is perpetually forcing a smile into his poor pale cheeks—you know the sweetness of his smile, Maria.

To-day, after dinner, when he took his glass of wine in his hand, he burst into tears, and would not, or could not then, tell me the reason—afterwards he told me—"he had been used to drink Mamma's health after dinner, and that came in his head and made him cry." I feel the claims the boy has upon me—I perceive that I am living to some end—and the thought supports me.

Already I have attained to a state of complacent feelings—my mother's lessons were not thrown away upon her Elinor.

In the visions of last night her spirit seemed to stand at my bed-side—a light, as of noon day, shone upon the room—she opened my curtains—she smiled upon me with the same placid smile as in her life-time. I felt no fear. "Elinor," she said, "for my sake take care of young Allan,"—and I awoke with calm feelings.

Maria! shall not the meeting of blessed spirits, think you, be something like this?—I think, I could even now behold my mother without dread—I would ask pardon of her for all my past omissions of duty, for all the little asperities in my tem[Pg 18]per, which have so often grieved her gentle spirit when living. Maria! I think she would not turn away from me.

Oftentimes a feeling, more vivid than memory, brings her before me—I see her sit in her old elbow chair—her arms folded upon her lap—a tear upon her cheek, that seems to upbraid her unkind daughter for some inattention—I wipe it away and kiss her honored lips.

Maria! when I have been fancying all this, Allan will come in, with his poor eyes red with weeping, and taking me by the hand, destroy the vision in a moment.

I am prating to you, my sweet cousin, but it is the prattle of the heart, which Maria loves. Besides, whom have I to talk to of these things but you—you have been my counsellor in times past, my companion, and sweet familiar friend. Bear with me a little—I mourn the "cherishers of my infancy."

I sometimes count it a blessing, that my father did not prove the survivor. You know something of his story. You know there was a foul tale current—it was the busy malice of that bad man, S——, which helped to spread it abroad—you will recollect the active good nature of our friends W—— and T——; what pains they took to undeceive people—with the better sort their kind labours prevailed; but there was still a party who shut their ears. You know the issue of it. My father's great spirit bore up against it for some time—my father never was a bad man—but that spirit was broken at the last—and the greatly-injured man was forced to leave his old paternal dwelling in Staffordshire—for the neighbours had begun to point at him.—Maria! I have seen them point at him, and have been ready to drop.

In this part of the country, where the slander had not reached, he sought a retreat—and he found a still more grateful asylum in the daily solicitudes of the best of wives.

"An enemy hath done this," I have heard him say—and at such times my mother would speak to him so soothingly of forgiveness, and long-suffering, and the bearing of injuries with patience; would heal all his wounds with so gentle a touch;—I have seen the old man weep like a child.

The gloom that beset his mind, at times betrayed him into scepticism—he has doubted if there be a Providence! I have heard him say, "God has built a brave world, but methinks he has left his creatures to bustle in it how they may."

At such times he could not endure to hear my mother talk[Pg 19] in a religious strain. He would say, "Woman, have done—you confound, you perplex me, when you talk of these matters, and for one day at least unfit me for the business of life."

I have seen her look at him—O God, Maria! such a look! it plainly spake that she was willing to have shared her precious hope with the partner of her earthly cares—but she found a repulse—

Deprived of such a wife, think you, the old man could have long endured his existence? or what consolation would his wretched daughter have had to offer him, but silent and imbecile tears?

My sweet cousin, you will think me tedious—and I am so—but it does me good to talk these matters over. And do not you be alarmed for me—my sorrows are subsiding into a deep and sweet resignation. I shall soon be sufficiently composed, I know it, to participate in my friend's happiness.

Let me call her, while yet I may, my own Maria Leslie! Methinks, I shall not like you by any other name. Beaumont! Maria Beaumont! it hath a strange sound with it—I shall never be reconciled to this name—but do not you fear—Maria Leslie shall plead with me for Maria Beaumont.

And now, my sweet Friend,
God love you, and your
Elinor Clare.

I find in my collection several letters, written soon after the date of the preceding, and addressed all of them to Maria Beaumont.—I am tempted to make some short extracts from these—my tale will suffer interruption by them—but I was willing to preserve whatever memorials I could of Elinor Clare.

From Elinor Clare to Maria Beaumont


——"I have been strolling out for half an hour in the fields; and my mind has been occupied by thoughts, which Maria has a right to participate. I have been bringing my mother to my recollection. My heart ached with the remem[Pg 20]brance of infirmities, that made her closing years of life so sore a trial to her.

I was concerned to think, that our family differences have been one source of disquiet to her. I am sensible that this last we are apt to exaggerate after a person's death—and surely, in the main, there was considerable harmony among the members of our little family—still I was concerned to think, that we ever gave her gentle spirit disquiet.

I thought on years back—on all my parents' friends—the H——s, the F——s, on D—— S——, and on many a merry evening, in the fire-side circle, in that comfortable back parlour—it is never used now.—

O ye Matravises[1] of the age, ye know not what ye lose, in despising these petty topics of endeared remembrance, associated circumstances of past times;—ye know not the throbbings of the heart, tender yet affectionately familiar, which accompany the dear and honored names of father or of mother.

Maria! I thought on all these things; my heart ached at the review of them—it yet aches, while I write this—but I am never so satisfied with my train of thoughts, as when they run upon these subjects—the tears, they draw from us, meliorate and soften the heart, and keep fresh within us that memory of dear friends dead, which alone can fit us for a re-admission to their society hereafter."

[1] This name will be explained presently.

(From another Letter)

——"I had a bad dream this morning—that Allan was dead—and who, of all persons in the world, do you think, put on mourning for him? Why, Matravis.—This alone might cure me of superstitious thoughts, if I were inclined to them; for why should Matravis mourn for us, or our family?—Still it was pleasant to awake, and find it but a dream.—Methinks something like an awaking from an ill dream shall the Resurrection from the Dead be.—Materially different from our accustomed scenes, and ways of life, the World to come may possibly not be—still it is represented to us under the notion of a Rest, a Sabbath, a state of bliss."

[Pg 21]

(From another Letter)

——"Methinks, you and I should have been born under the same roof, sucked the same milk, conned the same hornbook, thumbed the same Testament, together:—for we have been more than sisters, Maria!

Something will still be whispering to me, that I shall one day be inmate of the same dwelling with my cousin, partaker with her in all the delights, which spring from mutual good offices, kind words, attentions in sickness and in health,—conversation, sometimes innocently trivial, and at others profitably serious;—books read and commented on, together; meals ate, and walks taken, together,—and conferences, how we may best do good to this poor person or that, and wean our spirits from the world's cares, without divesting ourselves of its charities. What a picture I have drawn, Maria!—and none of all these things may ever come to pass."

(From another Letter)

——"Continue to write to me, my sweet cousin. Many good thoughts, resolutions, and proper views of things, pass through the mind in the course of the day, but are lost for want of committing them to paper. Seize them, Maria, as they pass, these Birds of Paradise, that show themselves and are gone,—and make a grateful present of the precious fugitives to your friend.

To use a homely illustration, just rising in my fancy,—shall the good housewife take such pains in pickling and preserving her worthless fruits, her walnuts, her apricots, and quinces—and is there not much spiritual housewifery in treasuring up our mind's best fruits,—our heart's meditations in its most favored moments?

This said simile is much in the fashion of the old Moralizers, such as I conceive honest Baxter to have been, such as Quarles and Wither were, with their curious, serio-comic, quaint emblems. But they sometimes reach the heart, when a more elegant simile rests in the fancy.

Not low and mean, like these, but beautifully familiarized to our conceptions, and condescending to human thoughts and notions, are all the discourses of our Lord—conveyed in parable, or similitude, what easy access do they win to the heart,[Pg 22] through the medium of the delighted imagination! speaking of heavenly things in fable, or in simile, drawn from earth, from objects common, accustomed.

Life's business, with such delicious little interruptions as our correspondence affords, how pleasant it is!—why can we not paint on the dull paper our whole feelings, exquisite as they rise up?"

(From another Letter)

——"I had meant to have left off at this place; but, looking back, I am sorry to find too gloomy a cast tincturing my last page—a representation of life false and unthankful. Life is not all vanity and disappointment—it hath much of evil in it, no doubt; but to those who do not misuse it, it affords comfort, temporary comfort, much—much that endears us to it, and dignifies it—many true and good feelings, I trust, of which we need not be ashamed—hours of tranquillity and hope.—But the morning was dull and overcast, and my spirits were under a cloud. I feel my error.

Is it no blessing, that we two love one another so dearly—that Allan is left me—that you are settled in life—that worldly affairs go smooth with us both—above all, that our lot hath fallen to us in a Christian country? Maria! these things are not little. I will consider life as a long feast, and not forget to say grace."

(From another Letter)

——"Allan has written to me—you know, he is on a visit at his old tutor's in Gloucestershire—he is to return home on Thursday—Allan is a dear boy—he concludes his letter, which is very affectionate throughout, in this manner—

'Elinor, I charge you to learn the following stanza by heart—

The monarch may forget his crown,
That on his head an hour hath been;
The bridegroom may forget his bride
Was made his wedded wife yestreen;
The mother may forget her child,
That smiles so sweetly on her knee:
But I'll remember thee, Glencairn,
And all that thou hast done for me.
[Pg 23]

'The lines are in Burns—you know, we read him for the first time together at Margate—and I have been used to refer them to you, and to call you, in my mind, Glencairn—for you were always very, very good to me. I had a thousand failings, but you would love me in spite of them all. I am going to drink your health.'"

I shall detain my reader no longer from the narrative.


They had but four rooms in the cottage. Margaret slept in the biggest room up stairs, and her grandaughter in a kind of closet adjoining, where she could be within hearing, if her grandmother should call her in the night.

The girl was often disturbed in that manner—two or three times in a night she has been forced to leave her bed, to fetch her grandmother's cordials, or do some little service for her—but she knew that Margaret's ailings were real and pressing, and Rosamund never complained—never suspected, that her grandmother's requisitions had any thing unreasonable in them.

The night she parted with Miss Clare, she had helped Margaret to bed, as usual—and, after saying her prayers, as the custom was, kneeling by the old lady's bed-side, kissed her grandmother, and wished her a good night—Margaret blessed her, and charged her to go to bed directly. It was her customary injunction, and Rosamund had never dreamed of disobeying.

So she retired to her little room. The night was warm and clear—the moon very bright—her window commanded a view of scenes she had been tracing in the day-time with Miss Clare.

All the events of the day past, the occurrences of their walk, arose in her mind. She fancied she should like to retrace those scenes—but it was now nine o'clock, a late hour in the village.

Still she fancied it would be very charming—and then her grandmother's injunction came powerfully to her recollection—she sighed, and turned from the window—and walked up and down her little room.

Ever, when she looked at the window, the wish returned.[Pg 24] It was not so very late. The neighbours were yet about, passing under the window to their homes—she thought, and thought again, till her sensations became vivid, even to painfulness—her bosom was aching to give them vent.

The village clock struck ten!—the neighbours ceased to pass under the window. Rosamund, stealing down stairs, fastened the latch behind her, and left the cottage.

One, that knew her, met her, and observed her with some surprize. Another recollects having wished her a good night. Rosamund never returned to the cottage!

An old man, that lay sick in a small house adjoining to Margaret's, testified the next morning, that he had plainly heard the old creature calling for her grandaughter. All the night long she made her moan, and ceased not to call upon the name of Rosamund. But no Rosamund was there—the voice died away, but not till near day-break.

When the neighbours came to search in the morning, Margaret was missing! She had straggled out of bed, and made her way into Rosamund's room—worn out with fatigue and fright, when she found the girl not there, she had laid herself down to die—and, it is thought, she died praying—for she was discovered in a kneeling posture, her arms and face extended on the pillow, where Rosamund had slept the night before—a smile was on her face in death.


Fain would I draw a veil over the transactions of that night—but I cannot—grief, and burning shame, forbid me to be silent—black deeds are about to be made public, which reflect a stain upon our common nature.

Rosamund, enthusiastic and improvident, wandered unprotected to a distance from her guardian doors—through lonely glens, and wood walks, where she had rambled many a day in safety—till she arrived at a shady copse, out of the hearing of any human habitation.

Matravis met her.—"Flown with insolence and wine," returning home late at night, he passed that way!

Matravis was a very ugly man. Sallow-complexioned! and, if hearts can wear that colour, his heart was sallow-complexioned also.

A young man with gray deliberation! cold and systematic[Pg 25] in all his plans; and all his plans were evil. His very lust was systematic.

He would brood over his bad purposes for such a dreary length of time, that it might have been expected, some solitary check of conscience must have intervened to save him from commission. But that Light from Heaven was extinct in his dark bosom.

Nothing that is great, nothing that is amiable, existed for this unhappy man. He feared, he envied, he suspected; but he never loved. The sublime and beautiful in nature, the excellent and becoming in morals, were things placed beyond the capacity of his sensations. He loved not poetry—nor ever took a lonely walk to meditate—never beheld virtue, which he did not try to disbelieve, or female beauty and innocence, which he did not lust to contaminate.

A sneer was perpetually upon his face, and malice grinning at his heart. He would say the most ill-natured things, with the least remorse, of any man I ever knew. This gained him the reputation of a wit—other traits got him the reputation of a villain.

And this man formerly paid his court to Elinor Clare!—with what success I leave my readers to determine.—It was not in Elinor's nature to despise any living thing—but in the estimation of this man, to be rejected was to be despised—and Matravis never forgave.

He had long turned his eyes upon Rosamund Gray. To steal from the bosom of her friends the jewel they prized so much, the little ewe lamb they held so dear, was a scheme of delicate revenge, and Matravis had a two-fold motive for accomplishing this young maid's ruin.

Often had he met her in her favorite solitudes, but found her ever cold and inaccessible. Of late the girl had avoided straying far from her own home, in the fear of meeting him—but she had never told her fears to Allan.

Matravis had, till now, been content to be a villain within the limits of the law—but, on the present occasion, hot fumes of wine, co-operating with his deep desire of revenge, and the insolence of an unhoped for meeting, overcame his customary prudence, and Matravis rose, at once, to an audacity of glorious mischief.

Late at night he met her, a lonely, unprotected virgin—no friend at hand—no place near of refuge.

[Pg 26]

Rosamund Gray, my soul is exceeding sorrowful for thee—I loath to tell the hateful circumstances of thy wrongs. Night and silence were the only witnesses of this young maid's disgrace—Matravis fled.

Rosamund, polluted and disgraced, wandered, an abandoned thing, about the fields and meadows till day-break. Not caring to return to the cottage, she sat herself down before the gate of Miss Clare's house—in a stupor of grief.

Elinor was just rising, and had opened the windows of her chamber, when she perceived her desolate young friend.—She ran to embrace her—she brought her into the house—she took her to her bosom—she kissed her—she spake to her; but Rosamund could not speak.

Tidings came from the cottage. Margaret's death was an event, which could not be kept concealed from Rosamund. When the sweet maid heard of it, she languished, and fell sick—she never held up her head after that time.

If Rosamund had been a sister, she could not have been kindlier treated, than by her two friends.

Allan had prospects in life—might, in time, have married into any of the first families in Hertfordshire—but Rosamund Gray, humbled though she was, and put to shame, had yet a charm for him—and he would have been content to share his fortunes with her yet, if Rosamund would have lived to be his companion.

But this was not to be—and the girl soon after died. She expired in the arms of Elinor—quiet, gentle, as she lived—thankful, that she died not among strangers—and expressing by signs, rather than words, a gratitude for the most trifling services, the common offices of humanity. She died uncomplaining; and this young maid, this untaught Rosamund, might have given a lesson to the grave philosopher in death.


I was but a boy when these events took place. All the village remember the story, and tell of Rosamund Gray, and old blind Margaret.

I parted from Allan Clare on that disastrous night, and set out for Edinburgh the next morning, before the facts were commonly known—I heard not of them—and it was four months before I received a letter from Allan.

[Pg 27]

"His heart" he told me "was gone from him—for his sister had died of a phrensy fever!"—not a word of Rosamund in the letter—I was left to collect her story from sources which may one day be explained.

I soon after quitted Scotland, on the death of my father, and returned to my native village. Allan had left the place, and I could gain no information, whether he were dead or living.

I passed the cottage. I did not dare to look that way, or to enquire who lived there.—A little dog, that had been Rosamund's, was yelping in my path. I laughed aloud like one mad, whose mind had suddenly gone from him—I stared vacantly around me, like one alienated from common perceptions.

But I was young at that time, and the impression became gradually weakened, as I mingled in the business of life. It is now ten years since these events took place, and I sometimes think of them as unreal. Allan Clare was a dear friend to me—but there are times, when Allan and his sister, Margaret and her grandaughter, appear like personages of a dream—an idle dream.


Strange things have happened unto me—I seem scarce awake—but I will recollect my thoughts, and try to give an account of what has befallen me in the few last weeks.

Since my father's death our family have resided in London. I am in practice as a surgeon there. My mother died two years after we left Widford.

A month or two ago I had been busying myself in drawing up the above narrative, intending to make it public. The employment had forced my mind to dwell upon facts, which had begun to fade from it—the memory of old times became vivid, and more vivid—I felt a strong desire to revisit the scenes of my native village—of the young loves of Rosamund and her Clare.

A kind of dread had hitherto kept me back; but I was restless now, till I had accomplished my wish. I set out one morning to walk—I reached Widford about eleven in the forenoon—after a slight breakfast at my inn—where I was mortified to perceive, the old landlord did not know me again[Pg 28]—(old Thomas Billet—he has often made angle rods for me when a child)—I rambled over all my accustomed haunts.

Our old house was vacant, and to be sold. I entered, unmolested, into the room that had been my bed-chamber. I kneeled down on the spot where my little bed had stood—I felt like a child—I prayed like one—it seemed as though old times were to return again—I looked round involuntarily, expecting to see some face I knew—but all was naked and mute. The bed was gone. My little pane of painted window, through which I loved to look at the sun, when I awoke in a fine summer's morning, was taken out, and had been replaced by one of common glass.

I visited, by turns, every chamber—they were all desolate and unfurnished, one excepted, in which the owner had left a harpsichord, probably to be sold—I touched the keys—I played some old Scottish tunes, which had delighted me when a child. Past associations revived with the music-blended with a sense of unreality, which at last became too powerful—I rushed out of the room to give vent to my feelings.

I wandered, scarce knowing where, into an old wood, that stands at the back of the house—we called it the Wilderness. A well-known form was missing, that used to meet me in this place—it was thine, Ben Moxam—the kindest, gentlest, politest, of human beings, yet was he nothing higher than a gardener in the family. Honest creature, thou didst never pass me in my childish rambles, without a soft speech, and a smile. I remember thy good-natured face. But there is one thing, for which I can never forgive thee, Ben Moxam—that thou didst join with an old maiden aunt of mine in a cruel plot, to lop away the hanging branches of the old fir trees.—I remember them sweeping to the ground.

I have often left my childish sports to ramble in this place—its glooms and its solitude had a mysterious charm for my young mind, nurturing within me that love of quietness and lonely thinking, which have accompanied me to maturer years.

In this Wilderness I found myself after a ten years' absence. Its stately fir trees were yet standing, with all their luxuriant company of underwood—the squirrel was there, and the melancholy cooings of the wood-pigeon—all was as I had left it—my heart softened at the sight—it seemed, as though my character had been suffering a change, since I forsook these shades.

[Pg 29]

My parents were both dead—I had no counsellor left, no experience of age to direct me, no sweet voice of reproof. The Lord had taken away my friends, and I knew not where he had laid them. I paced round the wilderness, seeking a comforter. I prayed, that I might be restored to that state of innocence, in which I had wandered in those shades.

Methought, my request was heard—for it seemed as though the stains of manhood were passing from me, and I were relapsing into the purity and simplicity of childhood. I was content to have been moulded into a perfect child. I stood still, as in a trance. I dreamed that I was enjoying a personal intercourse with my heavenly Father—and, extravagantly, put off the shoes from my feet—for the place where I stood, I thought, was holy ground.

This state of mind could not last long—and I returned, with languid feelings to my Inn. I ordered my dinner—green peas and a sweetbread—it had been a favorite dish with me in my childhood—I was allowed to have it on my birth days. I was impatient to see it come upon table—but, when it came, I could scarce eat a mouthful—my tears choaked me. I called for wine—I drank a pint and a half of red wine—and not till then had I dared to visit the church-yard, where my parents were interred.

The cottage lay in my way—Margaret had chosen it for that very reason, to be near the church—for the old lady was regular in her attendance on public worship—I passed on—and in a moment found myself among the tombs.

I had been present at my father's burial, and knew the spot again—my mother's funeral I was prevented by illness from attending—a plain stone was placed over the grave, with their initials carved upon it—for they both occupied one grave.

I prostrated myself before the spot—I kissed the earth that covered them—I contemplated, with gloomy delight, the time when I should mingle my dust with their's—and kneeled, with my arms incumbent on the grave-stone, in a kind of mental prayer—for I could not speak.

Having performed these duties, I arose with quieter feelings, and felt leisure to attend to indifferent objects.—Still I continued in the church-yard, reading the various inscriptions, and moralizing on them with that kind of levity, which will not unfrequently spring up in the mind, in the midst of deep melancholy.

[Pg 30]

I read of nothing but careful parents, loving husbands, and dutiful children. I said jestingly, where be all the bad people buried? Bad parents, bad husbands, bad children—what cemeteries are appointed for these? do they not sleep in consecrated ground? or is it but a pious fiction, a generous oversight, in the survivors, which thus tricks out men's epitaphs when dead, who, in their life-time, discharged the offices of life, perhaps, but lamely?—Their failings, with their reproaches, now sleep with them in the grave. Man wars not with the dead. It is a trait of human nature, for which I love it.

I had not observed, till now, a little group assembled at the other end of the church-yard; it was a company of children, who were gathered round a young man, dressed in black, sitting on a grave-stone.

He seemed to be asking them questions—probably, about their learning—and one little dirty ragged-headed fellow was clambering up his knees to kiss him.—The children had been eating black cherries—for some of the stones were scattered about, and their mouths were smeared with them.

As I drew near them, I thought I discerned in the stranger a mild benignity of countenance, which I had somewhere seen before—I gazed at him more attentively—

It was Allan Clare! sitting on the grave of his sister.

I threw my arms about his neck. I exclaimed "Allan"—he turned his eyes upon me—he knew me—we both wept aloud—it seemed, as though the interval, since we parted, had been as nothing—I cried out, "come, and tell me about these things."

I drew him away from his little friends—he parted with a show of reluctance from the church-yard—Margaret and her grandaughter lay buried there, as well as his sister—I took him to my Inn—secured a room, where we might be private—ordered fresh wine—scarce knowing what I did, I danced for joy.

Allan was quite overcome, and taking me by the hand he said, "this repays me for all."

It was a proud day for me—I had found the friend I thought dead—earth seemed to me no longer valuable, than as it contained him; and existence a blessing no longer than while I should live to be his comforter.

I began, at leisure, to survey him with more attention.[Pg 31] Time and grief had left few traces of that fine enthusiasm, which once burned in his countenance—his eyes had lost their original fire, but they retained an uncommon sweetness and, whenever they were turned upon me, their smile pierced to my heart.

"Allan, I fear you have been a sufferer." He replied not, and I could not press him further. I could not call the dead to life again.

So we drank, and told old stories—and repeated old poetry—and sang old songs—as if nothing had happened.—We sat till very late—I forgot that I had purposed returning to town that evening—to Allan all places were alike—I grew noisy, he grew cheerful—Allan's old manners, old enthusiasm, were returning upon him—we laughed, we wept, we mingled our tears, and talked extravagantly.

Allan was my chamber-fellow that night—and lay awake, planning schemes of living together under the same roof, entering upon similar pursuits;—and praising God, that we had met.

I was obliged to return to town the next morning, and Allan proposed to accompany me.—"Since the death of his sister," he told me, "he had been a wanderer."

In the course of our walk he unbosomed himself without reserve—told me many particulars of his way of life for the last nine or ten years, which I do not feel myself at liberty to divulge.

Once, on my attempting to cheer him, when I perceived him over thoughtful, he replied to me in these words:—

"Do not regard me as unhappy, when you catch me in these moods. I am never more happy than at times, when, by the cast of my countenance, men judge me most miserable.

"My friend, the events, which have left this sadness behind them, are of no recent date. The melancholy, which comes over me with the recollection of them, is not hurtful, but only tends to soften and tranquillize my mind, to detach me from the restlessness of human pursuits.

"The stronger I feel this detachment, the more I find myself drawn heavenward to the contemplation of spiritual objects.

"I love to keep old friendships alive and warm within me, because I expect a renewal of them in the World of Spirits.

"I am a wandering and unconnected thing on the earth. I have made no new friendships, that can compensate me for[Pg 32] the loss of the old—and the more I know mankind, the more does it become necessary for me to supply their loss by little images, recollections, and circumstances, of past pleasures.

"I am sensible that I am surrounded by a multitude of very worthy people, plain-hearted souls, sincere, and kind.—But they have hitherto eluded my pursuit, and will continue to bless the little circle of their families and friends, while I must remain a stranger to them.

"Kept at a distance by mankind, I have not ceased to love them—and could I find the cruel persecutor, the malignant instrument of God's judgments on me and mine, I think I would forgive, and try to love him too.

"I have been a quiet sufferer. From the beginning of my calamities it was given to me, not to see the hand of man in them. I perceived a mighty arm, which none but myself could see, extended over me. I gave my heart to the Purifier, and my will to the Sovereign Will of the Universe. The irresistible wheels of destiny passed on in their everlasting rotation,—and I suffered myself to be carried along with them without complaining."


Allan told me, that for some years past, feeling himself disengaged from every personal tye, but not alienated from human sympathies, it had been his taste, his humour he called it, to spend a great portion of his time in hospitals and lazar houses.

He had found a wayward pleasure, he refused to name it a virtue, in tending a description of people, who had long ceased to expect kindness or friendliness from mankind, but were content to accept the reluctant services, which the often-times unfeeling instruments and servants of these well-meant institutions deal out to the poor sick people under their care.

It is not medicine, it is not broths and coarse meats, served up at a stated hour with all the hard formalities of a prison,—it is not the scanty dole of a bed to die on—which dying man requires from his species.

Looks, attentions, consolations,—in a word, sympathies, are what a man most needs in this awful close of mortal sufferings. A kind look, a smile, a drop of cold water to[Pg 33] the parched lip—for these things a man shall bless you in death.

And these better things than cordials did Allan love to administer—to stay by a bed-side the whole day, when something disgusting in a patient's distemper has kept the very nurses at a distance—to sit by, while the poor wretch got a little sleep—and be there to smile upon him when he awoke—to slip a guinea, now and then, into the hands of a nurse or attendant—these things have been to Allan as privileges, for which he was content to live, choice marks, and circumstances, of his Maker's goodness to him.

And I do not know whether occupations of this kind be not a spring of purer and nobler delight (certainly instances of a more disinterested virtue) than arises from what are called Friendships of Sentiment.

Between two persons of liberal education, like opinions, and common feelings, oftentimes subsists a Vanity of Sentiment, which disposes each to look upon the other as the only being in the universe worthy of friendship, or capable of understanding it,—themselves they consider as the solitary receptacles of all that is delicate in feeling, or stable in attachment:—when the odds are, that under every green hill, and in every crowded street, people of equal worth are to be found, who do more good in their generation, and make less noise in the doing of it.

It was in consequence of these benevolent propensities, I have been describing, that Allan oftentimes discovered considerable inclinations in favor of my way of life, which I have before mentioned as being that of a surgeon. He would frequently attend me on my visits to patients; and I began to think, that he had serious intentions of making my profession his study.

He was present with me at a scene—a death-bed scene—I shudder when I do but think of it.


I was sent for the other morning to the assistance of a gentleman, who had been wounded in a duel,—and his wounds by unskilful treatment had been brought to a dangerous crisis.

The uncommonness of the name, which was Matravis[Pg 34] suggested to me, that this might possibly be no other than Allan's old enemy. Under this apprehension, I did what I could to dissuade Allan from accompanying me—but he seemed bent upon going, and even pleased himself with the notion, that it might lie within his ability to do the unhappy man some service. So he went with me.

When we came to the house, which was in Soho-Square, we discovered that it was indeed the man—the identical Matravis, who had done all that mischief in times past—but not in a condition to excite any other sensation than pity in a heart more hard than Allan's.

Intense pain had brought on a delirium—we perceived this on first entering the room—for the wretched man was raving to himself—talking idly in mad unconnected sentences,—that yet seemed, at times, to have a reference to past facts.

One while he told us his dream. "He had lost his way on a great heath, to which there seemed no end—it was cold, cold, cold—and dark, very dark—an old woman in leading-strings, blind, was groping about for a guide"—and then he frightened me,—for he seemed disposed to be jocular, and sang a song about "an old woman clothed in grey," and said "he did not believe in a devil."

Presently he bid us "not tell Allan Clare"—Allan was hanging over him at that very moment, sobbing.—I could not resist the impulse, but cried out, "this is Allan Clare—Allan Clare is come to see you, my dear Sir."—The wretched man did not hear me, I believe, for he turned his head away, and began talking of charnel houses, and dead men, and "whether they knew anything that passed in their coffins."

Matravis died that night.

[Pg 35]


Extracted from a common-place book, which belonged to Robert Burton, the famous Author of The Anatomy of Melancholy

(1800. First Published 1802. Text of 1818)


I Democritus Junior have put my finishing pen to a tractate De Melancholia, this day December 5, 1620. First, I blesse the Trinity, which hath given me health to prosecute my worthlesse studies thus far, and make supplication, with a Laus Deo, if in any case these my poor labours may be found instrumental to weede out black melancholy, carking cares, harte-grief, from the mind of man. Sed hoc magis volo quam expecto.

I turn now to my book, i nunc liber, goe forth, my brave Anatomy, child of my brain-sweat, and yee, candidi lectores, lo! here I give him up to you, even do with him what you please, my masters. Some, I suppose will applaud, commend, cry him up (these are my friends) hee is a flos rarus, forsooth, a none-such, a Phœnix, (concerning whom see Plinius and Mandeuille, though Fienus de monstris doubteth at large of such a bird, whom Montaltus confuting argueth to have been a man malæ scrupulositatis, of a weak and cowardlie faith: Christopherus a Vega is with him in this.) Others again will blame, hiss, reprehende in many things, cry down altogether, my collections, for crude, inept, putid, post cœnam scripta, Coryate could write better upon a full meal, verbose, inerudite, and not sufficiently abounding in authorities, dogmata, sentences of learneder writers which have been before me, when as that first named sort clean otherwise judge of my labours to bee nothing else but a messe of opinions, a vortex attracting indiscriminate, gold, pearls, hay, straw, wood, excrement, an exchange, tavern, marte, for foreigners to congregate, Danes, Swedes, Hollanders, Lombards, so many strange faces, dresses, salutations, languages, all which Wolfius behelde with great content upon the Venetian Rialto, as he describes diffusedly in his book the world's Epitome, which Sannazar[Pg 36] so bepraiseth, e contra our Polydore can see nothing in it; they call me singular, a pedant, fantastic, words of reproach in this age, which is all too neoteric and light for my humour.

One cometh to me sighing, complaining. He expected universal remedies in my Anatomy; so many cures as there are distemperatures among men. I have not put his affection in my cases. Hear you his case. My fine Sir is a lover, an inamorato, Pyramus, a Romeo; he walks seven years disconsolate, moping, because he cannot enjoy his miss, insanus amor is his melancholy, the man is mad; delirat, he dotes; all this while his Glycera is rude, spiteful, not to be entreated, churlish, spits at him, yet exceeding fair, gentle eyes, (which is a beauty,) hair lustrous and smiling, the trope is none of mine, Æneas Sylvius hath crines ridentes—in conclusion she is wedded to his rival, a boore, a Corydon, a rustic, omnino ignarus, he can scarce construe Corderius, yet haughty, fantastic, opiniatre. The lover travels, goes into foreign parts, peregrinates, amoris ergo, sees manners, customs, not English, converses with pilgrims, lying travellers, monks, hermits, those cattle, pedlars, travelling gentry, Egyptians, natural wonders, unicorns (though Aldobrandus will have them to be figments) satyrs, semi-viri, apes, monkeys, baboons, curiosities artificial, pyramides, Virgilius his tombe, relicks, bones, which are nothing but ivory as Melancthon judges, though Cornutus leaneth to think them bones of dogs, cats, (why not men?) which subtill priests vouch to have been saints, martyrs, heu Pietas! By that time he has ended his course, fugit hora, seven other years are expired, gone by, time is he should return, he taketh ship for Britaine, much desired of his friends, favebant venti, Neptune is curteis, after some weekes at sea he landeth, rides post to town, greets his family, kinsmen, compotores, those jokers his friends that were wont to tipple with him at alehouses; these wonder now to see the change, quantum mutatus, the man is quite another thing, he is disenthralled, manumitted, he wonders what so bewitched him, he can now both see, hear, smell, handle, converse with his mistress, single by reason of the death of his rival, a widow having children, grown willing, prompt, amorous, shewing no such great dislike to second nuptials, he might have her for asking, no such thing, his mind is changed, he loathes his former meat, had liever eat ratsbane, aconite, his humour is to die a bachelour; marke the conclusion. In this[Pg 37] humour of celibate seven other years are consumed in idleness, sloth, world's pleasures, which fatigate, satiate, induce wearinesse, vapours, tædium vitæ: When upon a day, behold a wonder, redit Amor, the man is as sick as ever, he is commenced lover upon the old stock, walks with his hand thrust in his bosom for negligence, moping he leans his head, face yellow, beard flowing and incomposite, eyes sunken, anhelus, breath wheezy and asthmatical, by reason of overmuch sighing: society he abhors, solitude is but a hell, what shall he doe? all this while his mistresse is forward, coming, amantissima, ready to jump at once into his mouth, her he hateth, feels disgust when she is but mentioned, thinks her ugly, old, a painted Jesabeel, Alecto, Megara, and Tisiphone all at once, a Corinthian Lais, a strumpet, only not handsome; that which he affecteth so much, that which drives him mad, distracted, phrenetic, beside himself, is no beauty which lives, nothing in rerum naturâ, (so he might entertain a hope of a cure) but something which is not, can never be, a certain fantastic opinion or notional image of his mistresse, that which she was, and that which hee thought her to be, in former times, how beautiful! torments him, frets him, follows him, makes him that he wishes to die.

This Caprichio, Sir Humourous, hee cometh to me to be cured. I counsel marriage with his mistresse, according to Hippocrates his method, together with milk diet, herbs, aloes, and wild parsley, good in such cases, though Avicenna preferreth some sorts of wild fowl, teals, widgeons, becca ficos, which men in Sussex eat. He flies out in a passion, ho! ho; and falls to calling me names, dizzard, ass, lunatic, moper, Bedlamite, Pseudo-Democritus. I smile in his face, bidding him be patient, tranquil, to no purpose, he still rages, I think this man must fetch his remedies from Utopia, Fairy Land, Islands in the Moone, &c.


* * * * * Much disputacyons of fierce wits amongst themselves, in logomachies, subtile controversies, many dry blows given on either side, contentions of learned men, or such as would be so thought, as Bodinus de Periodis saith of such an one, arrident amici ridet mundus, in English, this man his cronies they cocker him up, they flatter him, he would fayne[Pg 38] appear somebody, meanwile the world thinks him no better than a dizzard, a ninny, a sophist. * * * * * Philosophy running mad, madness philosophizing, much idle-learned enquiries, what truth is? and no issue, fruit, of all these noises, only huge books are written, and who is the wiser? * * * * * Men sitting in the Doctor's chair, we marvel how they got there, being homines intellectûs pulverulenti, as Trincauellius notes; they care not so they may raise a dust to smother the eyes of their oppugners; homines parvulissimi as Lemnius, whom Alcuin herein taxeth of a crude Latinism; dwarfs, minims, the least little men, these spend their time, and it is odds but they lose their time and wits too into the bargain, chacing of nimble and retiring Truth: Her they prosecute, her still they worship, libant, they make libations, spilling the wine, as those old Romans in their sacrificials, Cerealia, May-games: Truth is the game all these hunt after, to the extreme perturbacyon and drying up of the moistures, humidum radicale exsiccant, as Galen, in his counsels to one of these wear-wits, brain-moppers, spunges, saith. * * * * and for all this nunquam metam attingunt, and how should they? they bowle awry, shooting beside the marke; whereas it should appear, that Truth absolute on this planet of ours is scarcely to be found, but in her stede Queene Opinion predominates, governs, whose shifting and ever mutable Lampas, me seemeth, is man's destinie to follow, she præcurseth, she guideth him, before his uncapable eyes she frisketh her tender lights, which entertayne the child-man, untill what time his sight be strong to endure the vision of Very Truth, which is in the heavens, the vision beatifical, as Anianus expounds in his argument against certain mad wits which helde God to be corporeous; these were dizzards, fools, gothamites. * * * * but and if Very Truth be extant indeede on earth, as some hold she it is which actuates men's deeds, purposes, ye may in vaine look for her in the learned universities, halls, colleges. Truth is no Doctoresse, she takes no degrees at Paris or Oxford, amongst great clerks, disputants, subtile Aristotles, men nodosi ingenii, able to take Lully by the chin, but oftentimes to such an one as myself, an Idiota or common person, no great things, melancholizing in woods where waters are, quiet places by rivers, fountains, whereas the silly man expecting no such matter, thinketh only how best to delectate and refresh his mynde continually with Natura her pleasaunt scenes,[Pg 39] woods, water-falls, or Art her statelie gardens, parks, terraces, Belvideres, on a sudden the goddesse herself Truth has appeared, with a shyning lyghte, and a sparklyng countenance, so as yee may not be able lightly to resist her. * * * * *


This morning, May 2, 1662, having first broken my fast upon eggs and cooling salades, mellows, water-cresses, those herbes, according to Villanovus his prescription, who disallows the use of meat in a morning as gross, fat, hebetant, feral, altogether fitter for wild beasts than men, e contra commendeth this herb-diete for gentle, humane, active, conducing to contemplation in most men, I betook myselfe to the nearest fields. (Being in London I commonly dwell in the suburbes, as airiest, quietest, loci musis propriores, free from noises of caroches, waggons, mechanick, and base workes, workshoppes, also sights, pageants, spectacles of outlandlish birds, fishes, crocodiles, Indians, mermaids, adde quarrels, fightings, wranglings of the common sort, plebs, the rabble, duelloes with fists, proper to this island, at which the stiletto'd and secrete Italian laughs.) Withdrawing myselfe from these buzzing and illiterate vanities, with a bezo las manos to the city, I begin to inhale, draw in, snuff up, as horses dilatis naribus snort the fresh aires, with exceeding great delight, when suddenly there crosses me a procession sad, heavy, dolourous, tristfull, melancholick, able to change mirth into dolour, and overcast a clearer atmosphere than possibly the neighbourhoods of so great a citty can afford. An old man, a poore man, deceased, is borne on men's shoulders to a poore buriall, without solemnities of hearse, mourners, plumes, mutæ personæ, those personate actors that will weep if yee skew them a piece of silver; none of those customed civilities of children, kinsfolk, dependants, following the coffin; he died a poore man, his friends assessores opum, those cronies of his that stuck by him so long as he had a penny, now leave him, forsake him, shun him, desert him; they think it much to follow his putrid and stinking carcase to the grave; his children, if he had any, for commonly the case stands thus, this poore man his son dies before him, he survives, poore, indigent, base, dejected, miserable, &c. or if he have any which survive him, sua negotia agunt,[Pg 40] they mind their own business, forsooth, cannot, will not, find time, leisure, inclination, extremum munus perficere, to follow to the pit their old indulgent father, which loved them, stroked them, caressed them, cockering them up, quantum potuit, as farre as his means extended, while they were babes, chits, minims, hee may rot in his grave, lie stinking in the sun for them, have no buriall at all, they care not. O nefas! Chiefly I noted the coffin to have been without a pall, nothing but a few planks, of cheapest wood that could be had, naked, having none of the ordinary symptomata of a funerall, those locularii which bare the body having on diversely coloured coats, and none black: (one of these reported the deceased to have been an almsman seven yeares, a pauper, harboured and fed in the workhouse of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, to whose proper burying-ground he was now going for interment). All which when I behelde, hardly I refrained from weeping, and incontinently I fell to musing: "If this man had been rich, a Crœsus, a Crassus, or as rich as Whittington, what pompe, charge, lavish cost, expenditure, of rich buriall, ceremoniall-obsequies, obsequious ceremonies, had been thought too good for such an one; what store of panegyricks, elogies, funeral orations, &c. some beggarly poetaster, worthy to be beaten for his ill rimes, crying him up, hee was rich, generous, bountiful, polite, learned, a Mæcenas, while as in very deede he was nothing lesse: what weeping, sighing, sorrowing, honing, complaining, kinsmen, friends, relatives, fortieth cousins, poor relatives, lamenting for the deceased; hypocriticall heirs, sobbing, striking their breasts, (they care not if he had died a year ago); so many clients, dependants, flatterers, parasites, cunning Gnathoes, tramping on foot after the hearse, all their care is, who shall stand fairest with the successour; he mean time (like enough) spurns them from him, spits at them, treads them under his foot, will have nought to do with any such cattle. I think him in the right: Hæc sunt majora gravitate Heracliti. The follies are enough to give crying Heraclitus a fit of the spleene.

[Pg 41]




Some few of us remember to have seen, and all of us have heard our fathers tell of Quin, and Garrick, and Barry, and some faint traditional notices are left us of their manner in particular scenes, and their stile of delivering certain emphatic sentences. Hence our curiosity is excited, when a new Hamlet or a new Richard makes his appearance, in the first place, to inquire, how he acted in the Closet scene, in the Tent scene; how he looked, and how he started, when the Ghost came on, and how he cried

Off with his head. So much for Buckingham.

We do not reprehend this minute spirit of comparison. On the contrary, we consider it as a delightful artifice, by which we connect the recreations of the past with those of the present generation, what pleased our fathers with what pleases us. We love to witness the obstinate attachments, the unconquerable prejudices (as they seem to us), of the old men, our seniors, the whimsical gratification they appear to derive from the very refusal to be gratified; to hear them talk of the good old actors, whose race is for ever extinct.

With these impressions, we attended the first appearance of Mr. Cooke, in the character of Richard the Third, last winter. We thought that he "bustled" through the scenes with at least as much spirit and effect as any of his predecessors whom we remember in the part, and was not deficient in the delivery of any of those rememberable speeches and exclamations, which old prescription hath set up as criteria of comparison. Now that the grace of freshness is worn off, and Mr. Cooke is no longer a novitiate candidate for public favour, we propose to enter into the question—whether that popular actor is right or wrong in his conception of the great outlines of the character; those strong essential differences which separate Richard from all the other creations of Shakespeare. We say of Shakespeare; for though the Play, which passes for his upon the Stage, materially differs[Pg 42] from that which he wrote under the same title, being in fact little better than a compilation or a cento of passages extracted from other of his Plays, and applied with gross violations of propriety (as we are ready at any time to point out), besides some miserable additions, which he never could have written; all together producing an inevitable inconsistency of character, sufficient to puzzle and confound the best Actor; yet, in this chaos and perplexity, we are of opinion, that it becomes an Actor to shew his taste, by adhering, as much as possible, to the spirit and intention of the original Author, and to consult his safety in steering by the Light, which Shakespeare holds out to him, as by a great Leading Star. Upon these principles, we presume to censure Mr. Cooke, while we are ready to acknowledge, that this Actor presents us with a very original and very forcible portrait (if not of the man Richard, whom Shakespeare drew, yet) of the monster Richard, as he exists in the popular idea, in his own exaggerated and witty self-abuse, in the overstrained representations of the parties who were sufferers by his ambition; and, above all, in the impertinent and wretched scenes, so absurdly foisted in by some, who have thought themselves capable of adding to what Shakespeare wrote.

But of Mr. Cooke's Richard:

1st. His predominant and masterly simulation.

He has a tongue can wheedle with the Devil.

It has been the policy of that antient and grey simulator, in all ages, to hide his horns and claws. The Richard of Mr. Cooke perpetually obtrudes his. We see the effect of his deceit uniformly successful, but we do not comprehend how it succeeds. We can put ourselves, by a very common fiction, into the place of the individuals upon whom it acts, and say, that, in the like case, we should not have been alike credulous. The hypocrisy is too glaring and visible. It resembles more the shallow cunning of a mind which is its own dupe, than the profound and practised art of so powerful an intellect as Richard's. It is too obstreperous and loud, breaking out into triumphs and plaudits at its own success, like an unexercised noviciate in tricks. It has none of the silent confidence, and steady self-command of the experienced politician; it possesses none of that fine[Pg 43] address, which was necessary to have betrayed the heart of Lady Anne, or even to have imposed upon the duller wits of the Lord Mayor and Citizens.

2dly. His habitual jocularity, the effect of buoyant spirits, and an elastic mind, rejoicing in its own powers, and in the success of its machinations. This quality of unstrained mirth accompanies Richard, and is a prime feature in his character. It never leaves him; in plots, in stratagems, and in the midst of his bloody devices, it is perpetually driving him upon wit, and jests, and personal satire, fanciful allusions, and quaint felicities of phrase. It is one of the chief artifices by which the consummate master of dramatic effect has contrived to soften the horrors of the scene, and to make us contemplate a bloody and vicious character with delight. No where, in any of his plays, is to be found so much of sprightly colloquial dialogue, and soliloquies of genuine humour, as in Richard. This character of unlaboured mirth Mr. Cooke seems entirely to pass over, and substitutes in its stead the coarse, taunting humour, and clumsy merriment, of a low-minded assassin.

3dly. His personal deformity.—When the Richard of Mr. Cooke makes allusions to his own form, they seem accompanied with unmixed distaste and pain, like some obtrusive and haunting idea—But surely the Richard of Shakespeare mingles in these allusions a perpetual reference to his own powers and capacities, by which he is enabled to surmount these petty objections; and the joy of a defect conquered, or turned into an advantage, is one cause of these very allusions, and of the satisfaction, with which his mind recurs to them. These allusions themselves are made in an ironical and good humoured spirit of exaggeration—the most bitter of them are to be found in his self-congratulating soliloquy spoken in the very moment and crisis of joyful exultation on the success of his unheard of courtship.—No partial excellence can satisfy for this absence of a just general conception—otherwise we are inclined to admit, that, in the delivery of single sentences, in a new and often felicitous light thrown upon old and hitherto misconstrued passages, no actor that we have seen has gone beyond Mr. Cooke. He is always alive to the scene before him; and by the fire and novelty of his manner, he seems likely to infuse some warm blood into the frozen[Pg 44] declamatory stile, into which our theatres have for some time past been degenerating.


Ever since an account of the Marquis of Exeter's Grand State Bed appeared in the fashionable world, grandeur in this article of furniture has become quite the rage. Among others the Lord Mayor feeling for the dignity of the city of London, has petitioned the Corporation for one of great splendour to be placed in the Mansion-house, at the City's expence.

We have been favoured with a description of this magnificent state bed, the choice of his Lordship. The body is formed by the callipee, or under shell of a large turtle, carved in mahogany, and sufficiently capacious to receive two well-fed people. The callipash, or upper shell, forms the canopy. The posts are four gigantic figures richly gilt: two of them accurate copies of Gog and Magog; the other two represent Sir William Walworth and the last man in armour. Cupids with custards are the supporters. The curtains are of mazarine purple, and curiously wrought with the series of the idle and industrious apprentice from Hogarth, in gold embroidery: but the vallens exceed description; there, the various incidents in the life of Whittington are painted. The mice in one of the compartments are done so much to the life, that his Lordship's cat, who is an accurate judge of mice, was deceived. The quilt is of fashionable patchwork figures, the description of which we shall not anticipate, as, we understand, Mr. Birch has obtained a sketch of it for his large Twelfth Cake. The whole is worthy of the taste of the first Magistrate of the first City in the world.


Once upon a high and solemn occasion all the great fasts and festivals in the year presented themselves before the throne of Apollo, God of Days.—Each brought an offering in his hand, as is the custom all over the East, that no man shall appear before the presence of the King empty-handed. Shrove-Tuesday was there with his pan-cakes, and Ash-Wednesday with his oblation of fish. Good-Friday brought[Pg 45] the mystical bun. Christmas-Day came bending underneath an intolerable load of turkeys and mince-pies, his snow-white temples shaded with holly and the sacred misletoe, and singing a carol as he advanced. Next came the Thirtieth of January, bearing a calf's-head in a charger; but Apollo no sooner understood the emblematical meaning of the offering, than the stomach of the God turned sick, and with visible indignation and abhorrence he ordered the unfortunate Day out of his presence—the contrite Day returned in a little time, bearing in his hands a Whig (a sort of cake well-tempered and delicious)—the God with smiles accepted the atonement, and the happy Day understood that his peace was made, he promising never to bring such a dish into the presence of a God again. Then came the august Fourth of June, crowned with such a crown as British Monarchs commonly wear, leading into the presence the venerable Nineteenth of MayApollo welcomed the royal pair, and placed them nearest to himself, and welcomed their noble progeny, their eldest-born and heir, the accomplished Twelfth of August, with all his brave brothers and handsome sisters. Only the merry First of April who is retained in the Court of Apollo as King's Jester, made some mirth by his reverent inquiries after the health of the Eighteenth of January, who, being a kept mistress, had not been deemed a proper personage to be introduced into such an assembly. Apollo, laughing, rebuked the petulance of his wit; so all was mirth and good humour in the palace—only the sorrowful Epiphany stood silent and abashed—he was poor, and had come before the King without an oblation. The God of Days perceived his confusion, and turning to the Muses (who are nine), and to the Graces, his hand-maids (who are three in number), he beckoned to them, and gave to them in charge to prepare a Cake of the richest and preciousest ingredients: they obeyed, tempering with their fine and delicate fingers the spices of the East, the bread-flour of the West, with the fruits of the South, pouring over all the Ices of the North. The God himself crowned the whole with talismanic figures, which contained this wondrous virtue—that whosoever ate of the Cake should forthwith become Kings and Queens. Lastly, by his heralds, he invested the trembling and thankful Epiphany with the privilege of presenting this Cake before the King upon an annual festival for ever. Now this Cake[Pg 46] is called Twelfth Cake upon earth, after the number of the virgins who fashioned the same, being nine and three.


(1802. TEXT OF 1818)

To the Editor of the Reflector

Mr. Reflector,—I was born under the shadow of St. Dunstan's steeple, just where the conflux of the eastern and western inhabitants of this twofold city meet and justle in friendly opposition at Temple-bar. The same day which gave me to the world, saw London happy in the celebration of her great annual feast. This I cannot help looking upon as a lively omen of the future great good will which I was destined to bear toward the city, resembling in kind that solicitude which every Chief Magistrate is supposed to feel for whatever concerns her interests and well being. Indeed I consider myself in some sort a speculative Lord Mayor of London: for though circumstances unhappily preclude me from the hope of ever arriving at the dignity of a gold chain and Spital Sermon, yet thus much will I say of myself in truth, that Whittington with his Cat (just emblem of vigilance and a furred gown) never went beyond me in affection, which I bear to the citizens.

I was born, as you have heard, in a crowd. This has begot in me an entire affection for that way of life, amounting to an almost insurmountable aversion from solitude and rural scenes. This aversion was never interrupted or suspended, except for a few years in the younger part of my life, during a period in which I had set my affections upon a charming young woman. Every man while the passion is upon him, is for a time at least addicted to groves and meadows and purling streams. During this short period of my existence, I contracted just familiarity enough with rural objects to understand tolerably well ever after the poets, when they declaim in such passionate terms in favor of a country life.

For my own part, now the fit is past, I have no hesitation in declaring, that a mob of happy faces crowding up at the pit door of Drury-lane Theatre, just at the hour of six, gives me ten thousand sincerer pleasures, than I could ever receive[Pg 47] from all the flocks of silly sheep that ever whitened the plains of Arcadia or Epsom Downs.

This passion for crowds is no where feasted so full as in London. The man must have a rare recipe for melancholy, who can be dull in Fleet-street. I am naturally inclined to hypochondria, but in London it vanishes, like all other ills. Often, when I have felt a weariness or distaste at home, have I rushed out into her crowded Strand, and fed my humour, till tears have wetted my cheek for unutterable sympathies with the multitudinous moving picture, which she never fails to present at all hours, like the scenes of a shifting pantomime.

The very deformities of London, which give distaste to others, from habit do not displease me. The endless succession of shops where Fancy miscalled Folly is supplied with perpetual gauds and toys, excite in me no puritanical aversion. I gladly behold every appetite supplied with its proper food. The obliging customer, and the obliged tradesman—things which live by bowing, and things which exist but for homage—do not affect me with disgust; from habit I perceive nothing but urbanity, where other men, more refined, discover meaness: I love the very smoke of London, because it has been the medium most familiar to my vision. I see grand principles of honor at work in the dirty ring which encompasses two combatants with fists, and principles of no less eternal justice in the detection of a pickpocket. The salutary astonishment with which an execution is surveyed, convinces me more forcibly than a hundred volumes of abstract polity, that the universal instinct of man in all ages has leaned to order and good government.

Thus an art of extracting morality from the commonest incidents of a town life, is attained by the same well-natured alchymy, with which the Foresters of Arden, in a beautiful country,

Found tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

Where has spleen her food but in London? Humour, Interest, Curiosity, suck at her measureless breasts without a possibility of being satiated. Nursed amid her noise, her crowds, her beloved smoke, what have I been doing all my life, if I have not lent out my heart with usury to such scenes!

I am, Sir, your faithful servant,
A Londoner.

[Pg 48]


(1808. Text of 1818)

When I selected for publication, in 1808, Specimens of English Dramatic Poets who lived about the time of Shakspeare, the kind of extracts which I was anxious to give were, not so much passages of wit and humour, though the old plays are rich in such, as scenes of passion, sometimes of the deepest quality, interesting situations, serious descriptions, that which is more nearly allied to poetry than to wit, and to tragic rather than to comic poetry. The plays which I made choice of were, with few exceptions, such as treat of human life and manners, rather than masques and Arcadian pastorals, with their train of abstractions, unimpassioned deities, passionate mortals—Claius, and Medorus, and Amintas, and Amarillis. My leading design was, to illustrate what may be called the moral sense of our ancestors. To shew in what manner they felt, when they placed themselves by the power of imagination in trying circumstances, in the conflicts of duty and passion, or the strife of contending duties; what sort of loves and enmities theirs were; how their griefs were tempered, and their full-swoln joys abated: how much of Shakspeare shines in the great men his contemporaries, and how far in his divine mind and manners he surpassed them and all mankind. I was also desirous to bring together some of the most admired scenes of Fletcher and Massinger, in the estimation of the world the only dramatic poets of that age entitled to be considered after Shakspeare, and, by exhibiting them in the same volume with the more impressive scenes of old Marlowe, Heywood, Tourneur, Webster, Ford, and others, to shew what we had slighted, while beyond all proportion we had been crying up one or two favourite names. From the desultory criticisms which accompanied that publication, I have selected a few which I thought would best stand by themselves, as requiring least immediate reference to the play or passage by which they were suggested.

Christopher Marlowe

Lust's Dominion, or the Lascivious Queen.—This tragedy is in King Cambyses' vein; rape, and murder, and super[Pg 49]latives; "huffing braggart puft lines," such as the play-writers anterior to Shakspeare are full of, and Pistol but coldly imitates.

Tamburlaine the Great, or the Scythian Shepherd.—The lunes of Tamburlaine are perfect midsummer madness. Nebuchadnazar's are mere modest pretensions compared with the thundering vaunts of this Scythian Shepherd. He comes in, drawn by conquered kings, and reproaches these pampered jades of Asia that they can draw but twenty miles a day. Till I saw this passage with my own eyes, I never believed that it was any thing more than a pleasant burlesque of mine ancient's. But I can assure my readers that it is soberly set down in a play, which their ancestors took to be serious.

Edward the Second.—In a very different style from mighty Tamburlaine is the tragedy of Edward the Second. The reluctant pangs of abdicating royalty in Edward furnished hints, which Shakspeare scarcely improved in his Richard the Second; and the death-scene of Marlowe's king moves pity and terror beyond any scene antient or modern with which I am acquainted.

The Rich Jew of Malta.—Marlowe's Jew does not approach so near to Shakspeare's, as his Edward the Second does to Richard the Second. Barabas is a mere monster brought in with a large painted nose to please the rabble. He kills in sport, poisons whole nunneries, invents infernal machines. He is just such an exhibition as a century or two earlier might have been played before the Londoners "by the royal command," when a general pillage and massacre of the Hebrews had been previously resolved on in the cabinet. It is curious to see a superstition wearing out. The idea of a Jew, which our pious ancestors contemplated with so much horror, has nothing in it now revolting. We have tamed the claws of the beast, and pared its nails, and now we take it to our arms, fondle it, write plays to flatter it; it is visited by princes, affects a taste, patronizes the arts, and is the only liberal and gentlemanlike thing in Christendom.

Doctor Faustus.—The growing horrors of Faustus's last scene are awfully marked by the hours and half hours as they expire, and bring him nearer and nearer to the exactment of his dire compact. It is indeed an agony and a fearful colluctation. Marlowe is said to have been tainted with atheistical positions, to have denied God and the Trinity.[Pg 50] To such a genius the history of Faustus must have been delectable food: to wander in fields where curiosity is forbidden to go, to approach the dark gulf near enough to look in, to be busied in speculations which are the rottenest part of the core of the fruit that fell from the tree of knowledge.[2] Barabas the Jew, and Faustus the conjurer, are offsprings of a mind which at least delighted to dally with interdicted subjects. They both talk a language which a believer would have been tender of putting into the mouth of a character though but in fiction. But the holiest minds have sometimes not thought it reprehensible to counterfeit impiety in the person of another, to bring Vice upon the stage speaking her own dialect; and, themselves being armed with an unction of self-confident impunity, have not scrupled to handle and touch that familiarly, which would be death to others. Milton in the person of Satan has started speculations hardier than any which the feeble armoury of the atheist ever furnished; and the precise, strait-laced Richardson has strengthened Vice, from the mouth of Lovelace, with entangling sophistries and abstruse pleas against her adversary Virtue, which Sedley, Villiers, and Rochester, wanted depth of libertinism enough to have invented.

[2] Error, entering into the world with Sin among us poor Adamites may be said to spring from the tree of knowledge itself, and from the rotten kernels of that fatal apple.—Howell's Letters.

Thomas Decker

Old Fortunatus.—The humour of a frantic lover, in the scene where Orleans to his friend Galloway defends the passion with which himself, being a prisoner in the English king's court, is enamoured to frenzy of the king's daughter Agripyna, is done to the life. Orleans is as passionate an inamorato as any which Shakspeare ever drew. He is just such another adept in Love's reasons. The sober people of the world are with him

——A swarm of fools
Crowding together to be counted wise.

He talks "pure Biron and Romeo," he is almost as poetical as they, quite as philosophical, only a little madder. After all, Love's sectaries are a reason unto themselves. We have gone retrograde to the noble heresy, since the days when[Pg 51] Sidney proselyted our nation to this mixed health and disease; the kindliest symptom, yet the most alarming crisis in the ticklish state of youth; the nourisher and the destroyer of hopeful wits; the mother of twin births, wisdom and folly, valour and weakness; the servitude above freedom; the gentle mind's religion; the liberal superstition.

The Honest Whore.—There is in the second part of this play, where Bellafront, a reclaimed harlot, recounts some of the miseries of her profession, a simple picture of honour and shame, contrasted without violence, and expressed without immodesty, which is worth all the strong lines against the harlot's profession, with which both parts of this play are offensively crowded. A satirist is always to be suspected, who, to make vice odious, dwells upon all its acts and minutest circumstances with a sort of relish and retrospective fondness. But so near are the boundaries of panegyric and invective, that a worn-out sinner is sometimes found to make the best declaimer against sin. The same high-seasoned descriptions, which in his unregenerate state served but to inflame his appetites, in his new province of a moralist will serve him, a little turned, to expose the enormity of those appetites in other men. When Cervantes with such proficiency of fondness dwells upon the Don's library, who sees not that he has been a great reader of books of knight-errantry—perhaps was at some time of his life in danger of falling into those very extravagancies which he ridiculed so happily in his hero?

John Marston

Antonio and Mellida.—The situation of Andrugio and Lucio, in the first part of this tragedy, where Andrugio Duke of Genoa banished his country, with the loss of a son supposed drowned, is cast upon the territory of his mortal enemy the Duke of Venice, with no attendants but Lucio an old nobleman, and a page—resembles that of Lear and Kent in that king's distresses. Andrugio, like Lear, manifests a kinglike impatience, a turbulent greatness, an affected resignation. The enemies which he enters lists to combat, "Despair and mighty Grief and sharp Impatience," and the forces which he brings to vanquish them, "cornets of horse," &c. are in the boldest style of allegory. They are such a "race of mourners" as the "infection of sorrows loud" in the intellect might beget[Pg 52] on some "pregnant cloud" in the imagination. The prologue to the second part, for its passionate earnestness, and for the tragic note of preparation which it sounds, might have preceded one of those old tales of Thebes or Pelops' line, which Milton has so highly commended, as free from the common error of the poets in his day, of "intermixing comic stuff with tragic sadness and gravity, brought in without discretion corruptly to gratify the people." It is as solemn a preparative as the "warning voice which he who saw the Apocalypse heard cry."

What you Will.—O I shall ne'er forget how he went cloath'd. Act I. Scene 1.—To judge of the liberality of these notions of dress, we must advert to the days of Gresham, and the consternation which a phenomenon habited like the merchant here described would have excited among the flat round caps and cloth stockings upon 'Change, when those "original arguments or tokens of a citizen's vocation were in fashion, not more for thrift and usefulness than for distinction and grace." The blank uniformity to which all professional distinctions in apparel have been long hastening, is one instance of the decay of symbols among us, which, whether it has contributed or not to make us a more intellectual, has certainly made us a less imaginative people. Shakspeare knew the force of signs: a "malignant and a turban'd Turk." This "meal-cap miller," says the author of God's Revenge against Murder, to express his indignation at an atrocious outrage committed by the miller Pierot upon the person of the fair Marieta.

Author Unknown

The Merry Devil of Edmonton.—The scene in this delightful comedy, in which Jerningham, "with the true feeling of a zealous friend," touches the griefs of Mounchensey, seems written to make the reader happy. Few of our dramatists or novelists have attended enough to this. They torture and wound us abundantly. They are economists only in delight. Nothing can be finer, more gentlemanlike, and nobler, than the conversation and compliments of these young men. How delicious is Raymond Mounchensey's forgetting, in his fears, that Jerningham has a "Saint in Essex;" and how sweetly his friend reminds him! I wish it could be ascertained, which there is some grounds for believing, that Michael[Pg 53] Drayton was the author of this piece. It would add a worthy appendage to the renown of that Panegyrist of my native Earth; who has gone over her soil, in his Polyolbion, with the fidelity of a herald, and the painful love of a son; who has not left a rivulet, so narrow that it may be stept over, without honorable mention; and has animated hills and streams with life and passion beyond the dreams of old mythology.

Thomas Heywood

A Woman Killed with Kindness.—Heywood is a sort of prose Shakspeare. His scenes are to the full as natural and affecting. But we miss the poet, that which in Shakspeare always appears out and above the surface of the nature. Heywood's characters in this play, for instance, his country gentlemen, &c. are exactly what we see, but of the best kind of what we see, in life. Shakspeare makes us believe, while we are among his lovely creations, that they are nothing but what we are familiar with, as in dreams new things seem old; but we awake, and sigh for the difference.

The English Traveller.—Heywood's preface to this play is interesting, as it shews the heroic indifference about the opinion of posterity, which some of these great writers seem to have felt. There is magnanimity in authorship as in every thing else. His ambition seems to have been confined to the pleasure of hearing the players speak his lines while he lived. It does not appear that he ever contemplated the possibility of being read by after ages. What a slender pittance of fame was motive sufficient to the production of such plays as the English Traveller, the Challenge for Beauty, and the Woman Killed with Kindness! Posterity is bound to take care that a writer loses nothing by such a noble modesty.

Thomas Middleton and William Rowley

A Fair Quarrel.—The insipid levelling morality to which the modern stage is tied down, would not admit of such admirable passions as these scenes are filled with. A puritanical obtuseness of sentiment, a stupid infantile goodness, is creeping among us, instead of the vigorous passions, and virtues clad in flesh and blood, with which the old dramatists present us. Those noble and liberal casuists could discern in the differ[Pg 54]ences, the quarrels, the animosities of men, a beauty and truth of moral feeling, no less than in the everlastingly inculcated duties of forgiveness and atonement. With us, all is hypocritical meekness. A reconciliation-scene, be the occasion never so absurd, never fails of applause. Our audiences come to the theatre to be complimented on their goodness. They compare notes with the amiable characters in the play, and find a wonderful sympathy of disposition between them. We have a common stock of dramatic morality, out of which a writer may be supplied without the trouble of copying it from originals within his own breast. To know the boundaries of honour, to be judiciously valiant, to have a temperance which shall beget a smoothness in the angry swellings of youth, to esteem life as nothing when the sacred reputation of a parent is to be defended, yet to shake and tremble under a pious cowardice when that ark of an honest confidence is found to be frail and tottering, to feel the true blows of a real disgrace blunting that sword which the imaginary strokes of a supposed false imputation had put so keen an edge upon but lately: to do, or to imagine this done in a feigned story, asks something more of a moral sense, somewhat a greater delicacy of perception in questions of right and wrong, than goes to the writing of two or three hackneyed sentences about the laws of honour as opposed to the laws of the land, or a common-place against duelling. Yet such things would stand a writer now-a-days in far better stead than Captain Agar and his conscientious honour; and he would be considered as a far better teacher of morality than old Rowley or Middleton, if they were living.

William Rowley

A New Wonder; a Woman Never Vext.—The old play-writers are distinguished by an honest boldness of exhibition, they shew every thing without being ashamed. If a reverse in fortune is to be exhibited, they fairly bring us to the prison-grate and the almsbasket. A poor man on our stage is always a gentleman, he may be known by a peculiar neatness of apparel, and by wearing black. Our delicacy in fact forbids the dramatizing of distress at all. It is never shewn in its essential properties; it appears but as the adjunct of some virtue, as something which is to be relieved, from the approbation of which relief the spectators are to derive a certain soothing of[Pg 55] self-referred satisfaction. We turn away from the real essences of things to hunt after their relative shadows, moral duties; whereas, if the truth of things were fairly represented, the relative duties might be safely trusted to themselves, and moral philosophy lose the name of a science.

Thomas Middleton

The Witch.—Though some resemblance may be traced between the charms in Macbeth, and the incantations in this play, which is supposed to have preceded it, this coincidence will not detract much from the originality of Shakspeare. His witches are distinguished from the witches of Middleton by essential differences. These are creatures to whom man or woman, plotting some dire mischief, might resort for occasional consultation. Those originate deeds of blood, and begin bad impulses to men. From the moment that their eyes first meet with Macbeth's, he is spell-bound. That meeting sways his destiny. He can never break the fascination. These witches can hurt the body, those have power over the soul. Hecate in Middleton has a son, a low buffoon: the hags of Shakspeare have neither child of their own, nor seem to be descended from any parent. They are foul anomalies, of whom we know not whence they are sprung, nor whether they have beginning or ending. As they are without human passions, so they seem to be without human relations. They come with thunder and lightning, and vanish to airy music. This is all we know of them. Except Hecate, they have no names; which heightens their mysteriousness. The names, and some of the properties, which the other author has given to his hags, excite smiles. The Weird Sisters are serious things. Their presence cannot co-exist with mirth. But, in a lesser degree, the witches of Middleton are fine creations. Their power too is, in some measure, over the mind. They raise jars, jealousies, strifes, "like a thick scurf" over life.

William Rowley,—Thomas Decker,—John Ford, &c.

The Witch of Edmonton.—Mother Sawyer, in this wild play, differs from the hags of both Middleton and Shakspeare. She is the plain traditional old woman witch of our ancestors; poor, deformed, and ignorant; the terror of villages, herself amenable to a justice. That should be a hardy sheriff, with[Pg 56] the power of the county at his heels, that would lay hands upon the Weird Sisters. They are of another jurisdiction. But upon the common and received opinion, the author (or authors) have engrafted strong fancy. There is something frightfully earnest in her invocations to the Familiar.

Cyril Tourneur

The Revenger's Tragedy.—The reality and life of the dialogue, in which Vindici and Hippolito first tempt their mother, and then threaten her with death for consenting to the dishonour of their sister, passes any scenical illusion I ever felt. I never read it but my ears tingle, and I feel a hot blush overspread my cheeks, as if I were presently about to proclaim such malefactions of myself as the brothers here rebuke in their unnatural parent, in words more keen and dagger-like than those which Hamlet speaks to his mother. Such power has the passion of shame truly personated, not only to strike guilty creatures unto the soul, but to "appal" even those that are "free."

John Webster

The Duchess of Malfy.—All the several parts of the dreadful apparatus with which the death of the Duchess is ushered in, the waxen images which counterfeit death, the wild masque of madmen, the tomb-maker, the bellman, the living person's dirge, the mortification by degrees,—are not more remote from the conceptions of ordinary vengeance, than the strange character of suffering which they seem to bring upon their victim is out of the imagination of ordinary poets. As they are not like inflictions of this life, so her language seems not of this world. She has lived among horrors till she is become "native and endowed [indued] unto that element." She speaks the dialect of despair; her tongue has a smatch of Tartarus and the souls in bale. To move a horror skilfully, to touch a soul to the quick, to lay upon fear as much as it can bear, to wean and weary a life till it is ready to drop, and then step in with mortal instruments to take its last forfeit: this only a Webster can do. Inferior geniuses may "upon horror's head horrors accumulate," but they cannot do this. They mistake quantity for quality; they terrify babes with painted devils; but they know not how a soul is to be[Pg 57] moved. Their terrors want dignity, their affrightments are without decorum.

The White Devil, or Vittoria Corombona.—This White Devil of Italy sets off a bad cause so speciously, and pleads with such an innocence-resembling boldness, that we seem to see that matchless beauty of her face which inspires such gay confidence into her, and are ready to expect, when she has done her pleadings, that her very judges, her accusers, the grave ambassadors who sit as spectators, and all the court, will rise and make proffer to defend her in spite of the utmost conviction of her guilt; as the Shepherds in Don Quixote make proffer to follow the beautiful Shepherdess Marcela, "without making any profit of her manifest resolution made there in their hearing."

So sweet and lovely does she make the shame,
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
Does spot the beauty of her budding name!

I never saw any thing like the funeral dirge in this play, for the death of Marcello, except the ditty which reminds Ferdinand of his drowned father in the Tempest. As that is of the water, watery; so this is of the earth, earthy. Both have that intenseness of feeling, which seems to resolve itself into the element which it contemplates.

In a note on the Spanish Tragedy in the Specimens, I have said that there is nothing in the undoubted plays of Jonson which would authorize us to suppose that he could have supplied the additions to Hieronymo. I suspected the agency of some more potent spirit. I thought that Webster might have furnished them. They seemed full of that wild, solemn, preternatural cast of grief which bewilders us in the Duchess of Malfy. On second consideration, I think this a hasty criticism. They are more like the overflowing griefs and talking distraction of Titus Andronicus. The sorrows of the Duchess set inward; if she talks, it is little more than soliloquy imitating conversation in a kind of bravery.

John Ford

The Broken Heart.—I do not know where to find, in any play, a catastrophe so grand, so solemn, and so surprising as in this. This is indeed, according to Milton, to describe high passions and high actions. The fortitude of the Spartan[Pg 58] boy, who let a beast gnaw out his bowels till he died without expressing a groan, is a faint bodily image of this dilaceration of the spirit, and exenteration of the inmost mind, which Calantha, with a holy violence against her nature, keeps closely covered, till the last duties of a wife and a queen are fulfilled. Stories of martyrdom are but of chains and the stake; a little bodily suffering. These torments

On the purest spirits prey,
As on entrails, joints, and limbs,
With answerable pains, but more intense.

What a noble thing is the soul in its strengths and in its weaknesses! Who would be less weak than Calantha? Who can be so strong? The expression of this transcendent scene almost bears us in imagination to Calvary and the Cross; and we seem to perceive some analogy between the scenical sufferings which we are here contemplating, and the real agonies of that final completion to which we dare no more than hint a reference. Ford was of the first order of poets. He sought for sublimity, not by parcels, in metaphors or visible images, but directly where she has her full residence in the heart of man; in the actions and sufferings of the greatest minds. There is a grandeur of the soul above mountains, seas, and the elements. Even in the poor perverted reason of Giovanni and Annabella, in the play[3] which stands at the head of the modern collection of the works of this author, we discern traces of that fiery particle, which, in the irregular starting from out the road of beaten action, discovers something of a right line even in obliquity, and shews hints of an improveable greatness in the lowest descents and degradations of our nature.

[3] 'Tis Pity she is a Whore.

Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke

Alaham, Mustapha.—The two tragedies of Lord Brooke, printed among his poems, might with more propriety have been termed political treatises than plays. Their author has strangely contrived to make passion, character, and interest, of the highest order, subservient to the expression of state dogmas and mysteries. He is nine parts Machiavel and Tacitus, for one part Sophocles or Seneca. In this writer's estimate of the powers of the mind, the understanding must[Pg 59] have held a most tyrannical pre-eminence. Whether we look into his plays, or his most passionate love-poems, we shall find all frozen and made rigid with intellect. The finest movements of the human heart, the utmost grandeur of which the soul is capable, are essentially comprised in the actions and speeches of Cælica and Camena. Shakspeare, who seems to have had a peculiar delight in contemplating womanly perfection, whom for his many sweet images of female excellence all women are in an especial manner bound to love, has not raised the ideal of the female character higher than Lord Brooke, in these two women, has done. But it requires a study equivalent to the learning of a new language to understand their meaning when they speak. It is indeed hard to hit:

Much like thy riddle, Samson, in one day
Or seven though one should musing sit.

It is as if a being of pure intellect should take upon him to express the emotions of our sensitive natures. There would be all knowledge, but sympathetic expressions would be wanting.

Ben Jonson

The Case is Altered.—The passion for wealth has worn out much of its grossness in tract of time. Our ancestors certainly conceived of money as able to confer a distinct gratification in itself, not considered simply as a symbol of wealth. The old poets, when they introduce a miser, make him address his gold as his mistress; as something to be seen, felt, and hugged; as capable of satisfying two of the senses at least. The substitution of a thin, unsatisfying medium in the place of the good old tangible metal, has made avarice quite a Platonic affection in comparison with the seeing, touching, and handling-pleasures of the old Chrysophilites. A bank-note can no more satisfy the touch of a true sensualist in this passion, than Creusa could return her husband's embrace in the shades. See the Cave of Mammon in Spenser; Barabas's contemplation of his wealth in the Rich Jew of Malta; Luke's raptures in the City Madam; the idolatry and absolute gold-worship of the miser Jaques in this early comic production of Ben Jonson's. Above all hear Guzman, in that excellent old translation of the Spanish[Pg 60] Rogue, expatiate on the "ruddy cheeks of your golden ruddocks, your Spanish pistolets, your plump and full-faced Portuguese, and your clear-skinned pieces of eight of Castile," which he and his fellows the beggars kept secret to themselves, and did privately enjoy in a plentiful manner. "For to have them, to pay them away, is not to enjoy them; to enjoy them, is to have them lying by us; having no other need of them than to use them for the clearing of the eye-sight, and the comforting of our senses. These we did carry about with us, sewing them in some patches of our doublets near unto the heart, and as close to the skin as we could handsomely quilt them in, holding them to be restorative."

Poetaster.—This Roman play seems written to confute those enemies of Ben in his own days and ours, who have said that he made a pedantical use of his learning. He has here revived the whole Court of Augustus, by a learned spell. We are admitted to the society of the illustrious dead. Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Tibullus, converse in our own tongue more finely and poetically than they were used to express themselves in their native Latin. Nothing can be imagined more elegant, refined, and court-like, than the scenes between this Louis the Fourteenth of antiquity and his literati. The whole essence and secret of that kind of intercourse is contained therein. The economical liberality by which greatness, seeming to waive some part of its prerogative, takes care to lose none of the essentials; the prudential liberties of an inferior, which flatter by commanded boldness and soothe with complimentary sincerity. These, and a thousand beautiful passages from his New Inn, his Cynthia's Revels, and from those numerous court-masques and entertainments which he was in the daily habit of furnishing, might be adduced to shew the poetical fancy and elegance of mind of the supposed rugged old bard.

Alchemist.—The judgment is perfectly overwhelmed by the torrent of images, words, and book-knowledge, with which Epicure Mammon (Act 2, Scene 2) confounds and stuns his incredulous hearer. They come pouring out like the successive falls of Nilus. They "doubly redouble strokes upon the foe." Description outstrides proof. We are made to believe effects before we have testimony for their causes. If there is no one image which attains the height of the[Pg 61] sublime, yet the confluence and assemblage of them all produces a result equal to the grandest poetry. The huge Zerxean army countervails against single Achilles. Epicure Mammon is the most determined offspring of its author. It has the whole "matter and copy of the father—eye, nose, lip, the trick of his frown." It is just such a swaggerer as contemporaries have described old Ben to be. Meercraft, Bobadil, the Host of the New Inn, have all his image and superscription. But Mammon is arrogant pretension personified. Sir Samson Legend, in Love for Love, is such another lying, overbearing character, but he does not come up to Epicure Mammon. What a "towering bravery" there is in his sensuality! he affects no pleasure under a Sultan. It is as if "Egypt with Assyria strove in luxury."

George Chapman

Bussy D'Ambois, Byron's Conspiracy, Byron's Tragedy, &c. &c.—Webster has happily characterised the "full and heightened style" of Chapman, who, of all the English play-writers, perhaps approaches nearest to Shakspeare in the descriptive and didactic, in passages which are less purely dramatic. He could not go out of himself, as Shakspeare could shift at pleasure, to inform and animate other existences, but in himself he had an eye to perceive and a soul to embrace all forms and modes of being. He would have made a great epic poet, if indeed he has not abundantly shewn himself to be one; for his Homer is not so properly a translation as the stories of Achilles and Ulysses re-written. The earnestness and passion which he has put into every part of these poems, would be incredible to a reader of mere modern translations. His almost Greek zeal for the glory of his heroes can only be paralleled by that fierce spirit of Hebrew bigotry, with which Milton, as if personating one of the zealots of the old law, clothed himself when he sat down to paint the acts of Samson against the uncircumcised. The great obstacle to Chapman's translations being read, is their unconquerable quaintness. He pours out in the same breath the most just and natural, and the most violent and crude expressions. He seems to grasp at whatever words come first to hand while the enthusiasm is upon him, as if all other must be inadequate to the divine meaning. But[Pg 62] passion (the all in all in poetry) is every where present, raising the low, dignifying the mean, and putting sense into the absurd. He makes his readers glow, weep, tremble, take any affection which he pleases, be moved by words, or in spite of them, be disgusted and overcome their disgust.

Francis Beaumont.—John Fletcher

Maid's Tragedy.-One characteristic of the excellent old poets is, their being able to bestow grace upon subjects which naturally do not seem susceptible of any. I will mention two instances. Zelmane in the Arcadia of Sidney, and Helena in the All's Well that Ends Well of Shakspeare. What can be more unpromising at first sight, than the idea of a young man disguising himself in woman's attire, and passing himself off for a woman among women; and that for a long space of time? Yet Sir Philip has preserved so matchless a decorum, that neither does Pryocles' manhood suffer any stain for the effeminacy of Zelmane, nor is the respect due to the princesses at all diminished when the deception comes to be known. In the sweetly constituted mind of Sir Philip Sidney, it seems as if no ugly thought or unhandsome meditation could find a harbour. He turned all that he touched into images of honour and virtue. Helena in Shakspeare is a young woman seeking a man in marriage. The ordinary rules of courtship are reversed, the habitual feelings are crossed. Yet with such exquisite address this dangerous subject is handled, that Helena's forwardness loses her no honour; delicacy dispenses with its laws in her favour, and nature, in her single case, seems content to suffer a sweet violation. Aspatia, in the Maid's Tragedy, is a character equally difficult, with Helena, of being managed with grace. She too is a slighted woman, refused by the man who had once engaged to marry her. Yet it is artfully contrived, that while we pity we respect her, and she descends without degradation. Such wonders true poetry and passion can do, to confer dignity upon subjects which do not seem capable of it. But Aspatia must not be compared at all points with Helena; she does not so absolutely predominate over her situation but she suffers some diminution, some abatement of the full lustre of the female character, which Helena never does. Her character has many degrees of sweetness, some of delicacy; but it has[Pg 63] weakness, which, if we do not despise, we are sorry for. After all, Beaumont and Fletcher were but an inferior sort of Shakspeares and Sidneys.

Philaster.—The character of Bellario must have been extremely popular in its day. For many years after the date of Philaster's first exhibition on the stage, scarce a play can be found without one of these women pages in it, following in the train of some pre-engaged lover, calling on the gods to bless her happy rival (his mistress), whom no doubt she secretly curses in her heart, giving rise to many pretty equivoques by the way on the confusion of sex, and either made happy at last by some surprising turn of fate, or dismissed with the joint pity of the lovers and the audience. Donne has a copy of verses to his mistress, dissuading her from a resolution which she seems to have taken up from some of these scenical representations, of following him abroad as a page. It is so earnest, so weighty, so rich in poetry, in sense, in wit, and pathos, that it deserves to be read as a solemn close in future to all such sickly fancies as he there deprecates.

John Fletcher

Thierry and Theodoret.—The scene where Ordella offers her life a sacrifice, that the king of France may not be childless, I have always considered as the finest in all Fletcher, and Ordella to be the most perfect notion of the female heroic character, next to Calantha in the Broken Heart. She is a piece of sainted nature. Yet noble as the whole passage is, it must be confessed that the manner of it, compared with Shakspeare's finest scenes, is faint and languid. Its motion is circular, not progressive. Each line revolves on itself in a sort of separate orbid. They do not join into one another like a running-hand. Fletcher's ideas moved slow; his versification, though sweet, is tedious, it stops at every turn; he lays line upon line, making up one after the other, adding image to image so deliberately, that we see their junctures. Shakspeare mingles every thing, runs line into line, embarrasses sentences and metaphors; before one idea has burst its shell, another is hatched and clamorous for disclosure. Another striking difference between Fletcher and Shakspeare, is the fondness of the former for unnatural and violent situations. He seems to have thought that nothing great could be pro[Pg 64]duced in an ordinary way. The chief incidents in some of his most admired tragedies shew this.[4] Shakspeare had nothing of this contortion in his mind, none of that craving after violent situations, and flights of strained and improbable virtue, which I think always betrays an imperfect moral sensibility. The wit of Fletcher is excellent[5] like his serious scenes, but there is something strained and far-fetched in both. He is too mistrustful of Nature, he always goes a little on one side of her. Shakspeare chose her without a reserve: and had riches, power, understanding, and length of days, with her, for a dowry.

[4] Wife for a Month, Cupid's Revenge, Double Marriage, &c.

[5] Wit without Money, and his comedies generally.

Faithful Shepherdess.—If all the parts of this delightful pastoral had been in unison with its many innocent scenes and sweet lyric intermixtures, it had been a poem fit to vie with Comus or the Arcadia, to have been put into the hands of boys and virgins, to have made matter for young dreams, like the loves of Hermia and Lysander. But a spot is on the face of this Diana. Nothing short of infatuation could have driven Fletcher upon mixing with this "blessedness" such an ugly deformity as Cloe, the wanton shepherdess! If Cloe was meant to set off Clorin by contrast, Fletcher should have known that such weeds by juxta-position do not set off, but kill sweet flowers.

Philip Massinger.—Thomas Decker

The Virgin Martyr.—This play has some beauties of so very high an order, that with all my respect for Massinger, I do not think he had poetical enthusiasm capable of rising up to them. His associate Decker, who wrote Old Fortunatus, had poetry enough for any thing. The very impurities which obtrude themselves among the sweet pieties of this play, like Satan among the Sons of Heaven, have a strength of contrast, a raciness, and a glow, in them, which are beyond Massinger. They are to the religion of the rest what Caliban is to Miranda.

Philip Massinger.—Thomas Middleton.—William Rowley

Old Law.—There is an exquisiteness of moral sensibility, making one's eyes to gush out tears of delight, and a poetical[Pg 65] strangeness in the circumstances of this sweet tragi-comedy, which are unlike any thing in the dramas which Massinger wrote alone. The pathos is of a subtler edge. Middleton and Rowley, who assisted in it, had both of them finer geniuses than their associate.

James Shirley

Claims a place amongst the worthies of this period, not so much for any transcendant talent in himself, as that he was the last of a great race, all of whom spoke nearly the same language, and had a set of moral feelings and notions in common. A new language, and quite a new turn of tragic and comic interest, came in with the Restoration.


(1810. Text of 1818)

To the Editor of the Reflector

Sir,—I am one of those unhappy persons whose misfortunes, it seems, do not entitle them to the benefit of pure pity. All that is bestowed upon me of that kindest alleviator of human miseries, comes dashed with a double portion of contempt. My griefs have nothing in them that is felt as sacred by the bystanders. Yet is my affliction in truth of the deepest grain. The heaviest task that was ever given to mortal patience to sustain. Time, that wears out all other sorrows, can never modify or soften mine. Here they must continue to gnaw, as long as that fatal mark——

Why was I ever born? Why was innocence in my person suffered to be branded with a stain which was appointed only for the blackest guilt? What had I done, or my parents, that a disgrace of mine should involve a whole posterity in infamy? I am almost tempted to believe, that, in some pre-existent state, crimes to which this sublunary life of mine hath been as much a stranger as the babe that is newly[Pg 66] born into it, have drawn down upon me this vengeance, so disproportionate to my actions on this globe.

My brain sickens, and my bosom labours to be delivered of the weight that presses upon it, yet my conscious pen shrinks from the avowal. But out it must——

O, Mr. Reflector! guess at the wretch's misery who now writes this to you, when, with tears and burning blushes, he is obliged to confess, that he has been————————HANGED——

Methinks I hear an involuntary exclamation burst from you, as your imagination presents to you fearful images of your correspondent unknown,—hanged!

Fear not, Mr. Editor. No disembodied spirit has the honour of addressing you. I am flesh and blood, an unfortunate system of bones, muscles, sinews, arteries, like yourself.

Then, I presume, you mean to be pleasant—That expression of yours, Mr. Correspondent, must be taken somehow in a metaphorical sense——

In the plainest sense, without trope or figure—Yes, Mr. Editor! this neck of mine has felt the fatal noose,—these hands have tremblingly held up the corroborative prayer-book,—these lips have sucked the moisture of the last consolatory orange,—this tongue has chaunted the doleful cantata which no performer was ever called upon to repeat,—this face has had the veiling nightcap drawn over it———

But for no crime of mine.—Far be it from me to arraign the justice of my country, which, though tardy, did at length recognise my innocence. It is not for me to reflect upon judge or jury, now that eleven years have elapsed since the erroneous sentence was pronounced. Men will always be fallible, and perhaps circumstances did appear at the time a little strong——

Suffice it to say, that after hanging four minutes, (as the spectators were pleased to compute it,—a man that is being strangled, I know from experience, has altogether a different measure of time from his friends who are breathing leisurely about him,—I suppose the minutes lengthen as time approaches eternity, in the same manner as the miles get longer as you travel northward—), after hanging four minutes, according to the best calculation of the bystanders, a reprieve came, and I was cut DOWN——

Really I am ashamed of deforming your pages with these[Pg 67] technical phrases—if I knew how to express my meaning shorter——

But to proceed.—My first care after I had been brought to myself by the usual methods, (those methods that are so interesting to the operator and his assistants, who are pretty numerous on such occasions,—but which no patient was ever desirous of undergoing a second time for the benefit of science), my first care was to provide myself with an enormous stock or cravat to hide the place—you understand me;—my next care was to procure a residence as distant as possible from that part of the country where I had suffered. For that reason I chose the metropolis, as the place where wounded honour (I had been told) could lurk with the least danger of exciting enquiry, and stigmatised innocence had the best chance of hiding her disgrace in a crowd. I sought out a new circle of acquaintance, and my circumstances happily enabling me to pursue my fancy in that respect, I endeavoured, by mingling in all the pleasures which the town affords, to efface the memory of what I had undergone.

But alas! such is the portentous and all-pervading chain of connection which links together the head and members of this great community, my scheme of lying perdu was defeated almost at the outset. A countryman of mine, whom a foolish law-suit had brought to town, by chance met me, and the secret was soon blazoned about.

In a short time, I found myself deserted by most of those who had been my intimate friends. Not that any guilt was supposed to attach to my character. My officious countryman, to do him justice, had been candid enough to explain my perfect innocence. But, somehow or other, there is a want of strong virtue in mankind. We have plenty of the softer instincts, but the heroic character is gone. How else can I account for it, that of all my numerous acquaintance, among whom I had the honour of ranking sundry persons of education, talents, and worth, scarcely here and there one or two could be found, who had the courage to associate with a man that had been hanged.

Those few who did not desert me altogether, were persons of strong but coarse minds; and from the absence of all delicacy in them I suffered almost as much as from the superabundance of a false species of it in the others. Those who stuck by me were the jokers, who thought themselves[Pg 68] entitled by the fidelity which they had shewn towards me to use me with what familiarity they pleased. Many and unfeeling are the jests that I have suffered from these rude (because faithful) Achateses. As they past me in the streets, one would nod significantly to his companion and say, pointing to me, smoke his cravat, and ask me if I had got a wen, that I was so solicitous to cover my neck. Another would enquire, What news from * * * Assizes? (which you may guess, Mr. Editor, was the scene of my shame), and whether the sessions was like to prove a maiden one? A third would offer to ensure me from drowning. A fourth would teaze me with enquiries how I felt when I was swinging, whether I had not something like a blue flame dancing before my eyes? A fifth took a fancy never to call me anything but Lazarus. And an eminent bookseller and publisher,—who, in his zeal to present the public with new facts, had he lived in those days, I am confident, would not have scrupled waiting upon the person himself last mentioned, at the most critical period of his existence, to solicit a few facts relative to resuscitation,—had the modesty to offer me —— guineas per sheet, if I would write, in his Magazine, a physiological account of my feelings upon coming to myself.

But these were evils which a moderate fortitude might have enabled me to struggle with. Alas! Mr. Editor, the women,—whose good graces I had always most assiduously cultivated, from whose softer minds I had hoped a more delicate and generous sympathy than I found in the men,—the women begun to shun me—this was the unkindest blow of all.

But is it to be wondered at? How couldst thou imagine, wretchedest of beings, that that tender creature Seraphina would fling her pretty arms about that neck which previous circumstances had rendered infamous? That she would put up with the refuse of the rope, the leavings of the cord? Or that any analogy could subsist between the knot which binds true lovers, and the knot which ties malefactors?

I can forgive that pert baggage Flirtilla, who, when I complimented her one day on the execution which her eyes had done, replied, that, to be sure, Mr. * * was a judge of those things. But from thy more exalted mind, Celestina, I expected a more unprejudiced decision.

The person whose true name I conceal under this appella[Pg 69]tion, of all the women that I was ever acquainted with, had the most manly turn of mind, which she had improved by reading and the best conversation. Her understanding was not more masculine than her manners and whole disposition were delicately and truly feminine. She was the daughter of an officer who had fallen in the service of his country, leaving his widow and Celestina, an only child, with a fortune sufficient to set them above want, but not to enable them to live in splendour. I had the mother's permission to pay my addresses to the young lady, and Celestina seemed to approve of my suit.

Often and often have I poured out my overcharged soul in the presence of Celestina, complaining of the hard and unfeeling prejudices of the world, and the sweet maid has again and again declared, that no irrational prejudice should hinder her from esteeming every man according to his intrinsic worth. Often has she repeated the consolatory assurance, that she could never consider as essentially ignominious an accident, which was indeed to be deprecated, but which might have happened to the most innocent of mankind. Then would she set forth some illustrious example, which her reading easily furnished, of a Phocion or a Socrates unjustly condemned; of a Raleigh or a Sir Thomas More, to whom late posterity had done justice; and by soothing my fancy with some such agreeable parallel, she would make me almost to triumph in my disgrace, and convert my shame into glory.

In such entertaining and instructive conversations the time passed on, till I importunately urged the mistress of my affections to name a day for our union. To this she obligingly consented, and I thought myself the happiest of mankind. But how was I surprised one morning on the receipt of the following billet from my charmer:—

Sir,—You must not impute it to levity, or to a worse failing, ingratitude, if, with anguish of heart, I feel myself compelled by irresistible arguments to recall a vow which I fear I made with too little consideration. I never can be yours. The reasons of my decision, which is final, are in my own breast, and you must everlastingly remain a stranger to them. Assure yourself that I can never cease to esteem you as I ought.


[Pg 70]

At the sight of this paper, I ran in frantic haste to Celestina's lodgings, where I learned, to my infinite mortification, that the mother and daughter were set off on a journey to a distant part of the country, to visit a relation, and were not expected to return in less than four months.

Stunned by this blow, which left me without the courage to solicit an explanation by letter, even if I had known where they were, (for the particular address was industriously concealed from me), I waited with impatience the termination of the period, in the vain hope that I might be permitted to have a chance of softening the harsh decision by a personal interview with Celestina after her return. But before three months were at an end, I learned from the newspapers, that my beloved had—given her hand to another!

Heart-broken as I was, I was totally at a loss to account for the strange step which she had taken; and it was not till some years after that I learned the true reason from a female relation of hers, to whom it seems Celestina had confessed in confidence, that it was no demerit of mine that had caused her to break off the match so abruptly, nor any preference which she might feel for any other person, for she preferred me (she was pleased to say) to all mankind; but when she came to lay the matter closer to her heart, she found that she never should be able to bear the sight (I give you her very words as they were detailed to me by her relation) the sight of a man in a nightcap, who had appeared on a public platform, it would lead to such a disagreeable association of ideas! And to this punctilio I was sacrificed.

To pass over an infinite series of minor mortifications, to which this last and heaviest might well render me callous, behold me here, Mr. Editor! in the thirty-seventh year of my existence, (the twelfth, reckoning from my re-animation), cut off from all respectable connections, rejected by the fairer half of the community,—who in my case alone seem to have laid aside the characteristic pity of their sex; punished because I was once punished unjustly; suffering for no other reason than because I once had the misfortune to suffer without any cause at all. In no other country, I think, but this, could a man have been subject to such a life-long persecution, when once his innocence had been clearly established.

Had I crawled forth a rescued victim from the rack in the[Pg 71] horrible dungeons of the Inquisition,—had I heaved myself up from a half bastinado in China, or been torn from the just-entering, ghastly impaling stake in Barbary,—had I dropt alive from the knout in Russia, or come off with a gashed neck from the half-mortal, scarce-in-time-retracted scymeter of an executioneering slave in Turkey,—I might have borne about the remnant of this frame (the mangled trophy of reprieved innocence) with credit to myself, in any of those barbarous countries. No scorn, at least, would have mingled with the pity (small as it might be) with which what was left of me would have been surveyed.

The singularity of my case has often led me to enquire into the reasons of the general levity with which the subject of hanging is treated as a topic in this country. I say as a topic: for let the very persons who speak so lightly of the thing at a distance be brought to view the real scene,—let the platform be bona fide exhibited, and the trembling culprit brought forth,—the case is changed; but as a topic of conversation, I appeal to the vulgar jokes which pass current in every street. But why mention them, when the politest authors have agreed in making use of this subject as a source of the ridiculous? Swift, and Pope, and Prior, are fond of recurring to it. Gay has built an entire drama upon this single foundation. The whole interest of the Beggar's Opera may be said to hang upon it. To such writers as Fielding and Smollet it is a perfect bon[ne]bouche.—Hear the facetious Tom Brown, in his Comical View of London and Westminster, describe the Order of the Show at one of the Tyburn Executions in his time:—"Mr. Ordinary visits his melancholy flock in Newgate by eight. Doleful procession up Holborn-hill about eleven. Men handsome and proper that were never thought so before, which is some comfort however. Arrive at the fatal place by twelve. Burnt brandy, women, and sabbath-breaking, repented of. Some few penitential drops fall under the gallows. Sheriffs men, parson, pickpockets, criminals, all very busy. The last concluding peremptory psalm struck up. Show over by one."—In this sportive strain does this misguided wit think proper to play with a subject so serious, which yet he would hardly have done, if he had not known that there existed a predisposition in the habits of his unaccountable countrymen to consider the subject as a jest. But what shall we[Pg 72] say to Shakspeare, who, (not to mention the solution which the Gravedigger in Hamlet gives of his fellow workman's problem), in that scene in Measure for Measure, where the Clown calls upon Master Barnardine to get up and be hanged, which he declines on the score of being sleepy, has actually gone out of his way to gratify this amiable propensity in his countrymen; for it is plain, from the use that was to be made of his head, and from Abhorson's asking, "is the axe upon the block, sirrah?" that beheading, and not hanging, was the punishment to which Barnardine was destined. But Shakspeare knew that the axe and block were pregnant with no ludicrous images, and therefore falsified the historic truth of his own drama (if I may so speak) rather than he would leave out such excellent matter for a jest as the suspending of a fellow-creature in mid air has been ever esteemed to be by Englishmen.

One reason why the ludicrous never fails to intrude itself into our contemplations upon this mode of death, I suppose to be, the absurd posture into which a man is thrown who is condemned to dance, as the vulgar delight to express it, upon nothing. To see him whisking and wavering in the air,

As the wind you know will wave a man;[6]

[6] Hieronimo in the Spanish tragedy.

to behold the vacant carcase, from which the life is newly dislodged, shifting between earth and heaven, the sport of every gust; like a weather-cock, serving to shew from which point the wind blows; like a maukin, fit only to scare away birds; like a nest left to swing upon a bough when the bird is flown: these are uses to which we cannot without a mixture of spleen and contempt behold the human carcase reduced. We string up dogs, foxes, bats, moles, weasels. Man surely deserves a steadier death.

Another reason why the ludicrous associates more forcibly with this than with any other mode of punishment, I cannot help thinking to be, the senseless costume with which old prescription has thought fit to clothe the exit of malefactors in this country. Let a man do what he will to abstract from his imagination all idea of the whimsical, something of it will come across him when he contemplates the figure of a fellow-creature in the day-time (in however distressing a situation) in a night cap. Whether it be that this nocturnal addition[Pg 73] has something discordant with day-light, or that it is the dress which we are seen in at those times when we are "seen," as the Angel in Milton expresses it, "least wise;" this I am afraid will always be the case; unless indeed, as in my instance, some strong personal feeling overpower the ludicrous altogether. To me, when I reflect upon the train of misfortunes which have pursued me through life, owing to that accursed drapery, the cap presents as purely frightful an object as the sleeveless yellow coat and devil-painted mitre of the San Benitos.—An ancestor of mine, who suffered for his loyalty in the time of the civil wars, was so sensible of the truth of what I am here advancing, that on the morning of execution, no intreaties could prevail upon him to submit to the odious dishabille, as he called it, but he insisted upon wearing, and actually suffered in, the identical flowing periwig which he is painted in, in the gallery belonging to my uncle's seat in ——shire.

Suffer me, Mr. Editor, before I quit the subject, to say a word or two respecting the minister of justice in this country; in plain words, I mean the hangman. It has always appeared to me that, in the mode of inflicting capital punishments with us, there is too much of the ministry of the human hand. The guillotine, as performing its functions more of itself and sparing human agency, though a cruel and disgusting exhibition, in my mind, has many ways the advantage over our way. In beheading, indeed, as it was formerly practised in England, and in whipping to death, as is sometimes practised now, the hand of man is no doubt sufficiently busy; but there is something less repugnant in these downright blows than in the officious barber-like ministerings of the other. To have a fellow with his hangman's hands fumbling about your collar, adjusting the thing as your valet would regulate your cravat, valuing himself on his menial dexterity——

I never shall forget meeting my rascal,—I mean the fellow who officiated for me,—in London last winter. I think I see him now,—in a waistcoat that had been mine,—smirking along as if he knew me——

In some parts of Germany, that fellow's office is by law declared infamous, and his posterity incapable of being ennobled. They have hereditary hangmen, or had at least, in the same manner as they had hereditary other great officers of state; and the hangmen's families of two adjoining parishes[Pg 74] intermarried with each other, to keep the breed entire. I wish something of the same kind were established in England.

But it is time to quit a subject which teems with disagreeable images—

Permit me to subscribe myself, Mr. Editor,

Your unfortunate friend,



(1810. Text of 1818)

To the Editor of the Reflector

Mr. Reflector,—There is no science in their pretensions to which mankind are more apt to commit grievous mistakes, than in the supposed very obvious one of physiognomy. I quarrel not with the principles of this science, as they are laid down by learned professors; much less am I disposed, with some people, to deny its existence altogether as any inlet of knowledge that can be depended upon. I believe that there is, or may be, an art to "read the mind's construction in the face." But, then, in every species of reading, so much depends upon the eyes of the reader; if they are blear, or apt to dazzle, or inattentive, or strained with too much attention, the optic power will infallibly bring home false reports of what it reads. How often do we say, upon a cursory glance at a stranger, what a fine open countenance he has, who, upon second inspection, proves to have the exact features of a knave. Nay, in much more intimate acquaintances, how a delusion of this kind shall continue for months, years, and then break up all at once.

Ask the married man, who has been so but for a short space[Pg 75] of time, if those blue eyes where, during so many years of anxious courtship, truth, sweetness, serenity, seemed to be written in characters which could not be misunderstood—ask him if the characters which they now convey be exactly the same?—if for truth he does not read a dull virtue (the mimic of constancy) which changes not, only because it wants the judgment to make a preference?—if for sweetness he does not read a stupid habit of looking pleased at every thing;—if for serenity he does not read animal tranquillity, the dead pool of the heart, which no breeze of passion can stir into health? Alas! what is this book of the countenance good for, which when we have read so long, and thought that we understood its contents, there comes a countless list of heart-breaking errata at the end!

But these are the pitiable mistakes to which love alone is subject. I have inadvertently wandered from my purpose, which was to expose quite an opposite blunder, into which we are no less apt to fall, through hate. How ugly a person looks upon whose reputation some awkward aspersion hangs, and how suddenly his countenance clears up with his character. I remember being persuaded of a man whom I had conceived an ill opinion of, that he had a very bad set of teeth; which, since I have had better opportunities of being acquainted with his face and facts, I find to have been the very reverse of the truth. That crooked old woman, I once said, speaking of an ancient gentlewoman, whose actions did not square altogether with my notions of the rule of right. The unanimous surprise of the company before whom I uttered these words, soon convinced me that I had confounded mental with bodily obliquity, and that there was nothing tortuous about the old lady but her deeds.

This humour of mankind to deny personal comeliness to those with whose moral attributes they are dissatisfied, is very strongly shewn in those advertisements, which stare us in the face from the walls of every street, and, with the tempting bait which they hang forth, stimulate at once cupidity and an abstract love of justice in the breast of every passing peruser; I mean, the advertisements offering rewards for the apprehension of absconded culprits, strayed apprentices, bankrupts who have conveyed away their effects, debtors that have run away from their bail. I observe, that in exact proportion to the indignity with which the prosecutor, who is commonly the framer[Pg 76] of the advertisement, conceives he has been treated, the personal pretensions of the fugitive are denied, and his defects exaggerated.

A fellow, whose misdeeds have been directed against the public in general, and in whose delinquency no individual shall feel himself particularly interested, generally meets with fair usage. A coiner or a smuggler shall get off tolerably well. His beauty, if he has any, is not much underrated, his deformities are not much magnified. A run-away apprentice, who excites perhaps the next least degree of spleen in his prosecutor, generally escapes with a pair of bandy legs; if he has taken any thing with him in his flight, a hitch in his gait is generally superadded. A bankrupt, who has been guilty of withdrawing his effects, if his case be not very atrocious, commonly meets with mild usage. But a debtor who has left his bail in jeopardy, is sure to be described in characters of unmingled deformity. Here the personal feelings of the bail, which may be allowed to be somewhat poignant, are admitted to interfere; and, as wrath and revenge commonly strike in the dark, the colours are laid on with a grossness which I am convinced must often defeat its own purpose. The fish that casts an inky cloud about him that his enemies may not find him, cannot more obscure himself by that device than the blackening representations of these angry advertisers must inevitably serve to cloak and screen the persons of those who have injured them from detection. I have before me at this moment one of these bills, which runs thus:—


"Run away from his bail, John Tomkins, formerly resident in Princes-street, Soho, but lately of Clerkenwell. Whoever shall apprehend, or cause to be apprehended and lodged in one of his Majesty's jails, the said John Tomkins, shall receive the above reward. He is a thickset, sturdy man, about five foot six inches high, halts in his left leg, with a stoop in his gait, with coarse red hair, nose short and cocked up, with little grey eyes, one of them bears the effect of a blow which he has lately received, with a pot belly, speaks with a thick and disagreeable voice, goes shabbily drest, had on when he went away a greasy shag great coat with rusty yellow buttons."

Now, although it is not out of the compass of possibility that John Tomkins aforesaid may comprehend in his agree[Pg 77]able person all the above-mentioned aggregate of charms; yet, from my observation of the manner in which these advertisements are usually drawn up, though I have not the pleasure of knowing the gentleman, yet would I lay a wager, that an advertisement to the following effect would have a much better chance of apprehending and laying by the heels this John Tomkins than the above description, although penned by one who, from the good services which he appears to have done for him, has not improbably been blessed with some years of previous intercourse with the said John. Taking, then, the above advertisement to be true, or nearly so, down to the words "left leg" inclusive (though I have some doubt if the blemish there implied amount to a positive lameness, or be perceivable by any but the nearest friends of John) I would proceed thus:—

—"Leans a little forward in his walk, his hair thick and inclining to auburn, his nose of the middle size, a little turned up at the end, lively hazel eyes (the contusion, as its effects are probably gone off by this time, I judge better omitted) inclines to be corpulent, his voice thick but pleasing, especially when he sings, had on a decent shag great coat with yellow buttons."

Now, I would stake a considerable wager (though by no means a positive man) that some such mitigated description would lead the beagles of the law into a much surer track for finding this ungracious varlet, than to set them upon a false scent after fictitious ugliness and fictitious shabbiness; though, to do those gentlemen justice, I have no doubt their experience has taught them in all such cases to abate a great deal of the deformity which they are instructed to expect; and has discovered to them, that the Devil's agents upon this earth, like their master, are far less ugly in reality than they are painted.

I am afraid, Mr. Reflector, that I shall be thought to have gone wide of my subject, which was to detect the practical errors of physiognomy, properly so called; whereas I have introduced physical defects, such as lameness, the effects of accidents upon a man's person, his wearing apparel, &c. as circumstances on which the eye of dislike, looking ascance, may report erroneous conclusions to the understanding. But if we are liable, through a kind, or an unkind passion, to mistake so grossly concerning things so exterior and palpable,[Pg 78] how much more are we likely to err respecting those nicer and less perceptible hints of character in a face, whose detection constitutes the triumph of the physiognomist.

To revert to those bestowers of unmerited deformity, the framers of advertisements for the apprehension of delinquents, a sincere desire of promoting the ends of public justice induces me to address a word to them on the best means of attaining those ends. I will endeavour to lay down a few practical, or rather negative, rules for their use, for my ambition extends no further than to arm them with cautions against the self-defeating of their own purposes:—

1. Imprimis, then, Mr. Advertiser! If the culprit whom you are willing to recover be one to whom in times past you have shewn kindness, and been disposed to think kindly of him yourself, but he has deceived your trust, and has run away, and left you with a load of debt to answer for him,—sit down calmly, and endeavour to behold him through the spectacles of memory rather than of present conceit. Image to yourself, before you pen a tittle of his description, the same plausible, good-looking man who took you in; and try to put away from your mind every intrusion of that deceitful spectre which perpetually obtrudes itself in the room of your former friend's known visage. It will do you more credit to have been deceived by such a one; and depend upon it, the traitor will convey to the eyes of the world in general much more of that first idea which you formed (perhaps in part erroneous) of his physiognomy, than of that frightful substitute which you have suffered to creep in upon your mind and usurp upon it; a creature which has no archetype except in your own brain.

2. If you be a master that have to advertise a runaway apprentice, though the young dog's faults are known only to you, and no doubt his conduct has been aggravating enough, do not presently set him down as having crooked ancles. He may have a good pair of legs, and run away notwithstanding. Indeed, the latter does rather seem to imply the former.

3. If the unhappy person against whom your laudable vengeance is directed be a thief, think that a thief may have a good nose, good eyes, good ears. It is indispensable to his profession that he be possessed of sagacity, foresight, vigilance; it is more than probable, then, that he is endued[Pg 79] with the bodily types or instruments of these qualities to some tolerable degree of perfectness.

4. If petty larceny be his offence, I exhort you, do not confound meanness of crime with diminutiveness of stature. These things have no connection. I have known a tall man stoop to the basest action, a short man aspire to the height of crime, a fair man be guilty of the foulest actions, &c.

5. Perhaps the offender has been guilty of some atrocious and aggravated murder. Here is the most difficult case of all. It is above all requisite, that such a daring violator of the peace and safety of society should meet with his reward, a violent and ignominious death. But how shall we get at him? Who is there among us, that has known him before he committed the offence, that shall take upon him to say he can sit down coolly and pen a dispassionate description of a murderer? The tales of our nursery,—the reading of our youth,—the ill-looking man that was hired by the Uncle to dispatch the Children in the Wood,—the grim ruffians who smothered the babes in the Tower,—the black and beetle-browed assassin of Mrs. Ratcliffe,—the shag-haired villain of Mr. Monk Lewis,—the Tarquin tread, and mill-stone dropping eyes, of Murder in Shakspeare,—the exaggerations of picture and of poetry,—what we have read and what we have dreamed of,—rise up and crowd in upon us such eye-scaring portraits of the man of blood, that our pen is absolutely forestalled; we commence poets when we should play the part of strictest historians, and the very blackness of horror which the deed calls up, serves as a cloud to screen the doer. The fiction is blameless, it is accordant with those wise prejudices with which nature has guarded our innocence, as with impassable barriers, against the commission of such appalling crimes; but meantime, the criminal escapes; or if,—owing to that wise abatement in their expectation of deformity, which, as I hinted at before, the officers of pursuit never fail to make, and no doubt in cases of this sort they make a more than ordinary allowance,—if, owing to this or any accident, the offender is caught and brought to his trial, who that has been led out of curiosity to witness such a scene, has not with astonishment reflected on the difference between a real committer of a murder, and the idea of one which he has been collecting and heightening all his life out of books, dreams, &c. The[Pg 80] fellow, perhaps, is a sleek, smug-looking man, with light hair and eye-brows,—the latter by no means jutting out or like a crag,—and with none of those marks which our fancy had pre-bestowed upon him.

I find I am getting unawares too serious; the best way on such occasions is, to leave off, which I shall do by generally recommending to all prosecuting advertisers not to confound crimes with ugliness; or rather, to distinguish between that physiognomical deformity, which I am willing to grant always accompanies crime, and mere physical ugliness,—which signifies nothing, is the exponent of nothing, and may exist in a good or bad person indifferently.




Mr. Reflector,—How oddly it happens that the same sound shall suggest to the minds of two persons hearing it ideas the most opposite! I was conversing a few years since with a young friend upon the subject of poetry, and particularly that species of it which is known by the name of the Epithalamium. I ventured to assert, that the most perfect specimen of it in our language was the Epithalamium of Spenser upon his own marriage.

My young gentleman, who has a smattering of taste, and would not willingly be thought ignorant of any thing remotely connected with the belles lettres, expressed a degree of surprise, mixed with mortification, that he should never have heard of this poem, Spenser being an author with whose writings he thought himself peculiarly conversant.

I offered to show him the poem in the fine folio copy of the poet's works, which I have at home. He seemed pleased with the offer, though the mention of the folio seemed again to puzzle him. But presently after, assuming a grave look, he compassionately muttered to himself "poor Spencer."

[Pg 81]

There was something in the tone with which he spoke these words that struck me not a little. It was more like the accent with which a man bemoans some recent calamity that has happened to a friend, than that tone of sober grief with which we lament the sorrows of a person, however excellent, and however grievous his afflictions may have been, who has been dead more than two centuries. I had the curiosity to enquire into the reasons of so uncommon an ejaculation. My young gentleman, with a more solemn tone of pathos than before, repeated "poor Spencer," and added, "he has lost his wife."

My astonishment at this assertion rose to such a height, that I began to think the brain of my young friend must be cracked, or some unaccountable reverie had gotten possession of it. But upon further explanation it appeared that the word "Spenser,"—which to you or me, Reader, in a conversation upon poetry too, would naturally have called up the idea of an old poet in a ruff, one Edmund Spenser, that flourished in the days of Queen Elizabeth, and wrote a poem called the Fairy Queen, with the Shepherd's Calender, and many more verses besides,—did in the mind of my young friend excite a very different and quite modern idea, namely, that of the Honourable William Spencer, one of the living ornaments, if I am not misinformed, of this present poetical era, A.D. 1811.

X. Y. Z.


(1811. Text of 1818)

One of the earliest and noblest enjoyments I had when a boy was in the contemplation of those capital prints by Hogarth, the Harlot's and Rake's Progresses, which, along with some others, hung upon the walls of a great hall in an old[Pg 82]-fashioned house in ——shire, and seemed the solitary tenants (with myself) of that antiquated and life-deserted apartment.

Recollection of the manner in which those prints used to affect me, has often made me wonder, when I have heard Hogarth described as a mere comic painter, as one whose chief ambition was to raise a laugh. To deny that there are throughout the prints which I have mentioned circumstances introduced of a laughable tendency, would be to run counter to the common notions of mankind; but to suppose that in their ruling character they appeal chiefly to the risible faculty, and not first and foremost to the very heart of man, its best and most serious feelings, would be to mistake no less grossly their aim and purpose. A set of severer Satires (for they are not so much Comedies, which they have been likened to, as they are strong and masculine Satires) less mingled with any thing of mere fun, were never written upon paper, or graven upon copper. They resemble Juvenal, or the satiric touches in Timon of Athens.

I was pleased with the reply of a gentleman, who being asked which book he esteemed most in his library, answered,—"Shakspeare:" being asked which he esteemed next best, replied,—"Hogarth." His graphic representations are indeed books: they have the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Other pictures we look at,—his prints we read.

In pursuance of this parallel, I have sometimes entertained myself with comparing the Timon of Athens of Shakspeare (which I have just mentioned) and Hogarth's Rake's Progress together. The story, the moral, in both is nearly the same. The wild course of riot and extravagance, ending in the one with driving the Prodigal from the society of men into the solitude of the deserts, and in the other with conducting the Rake through his several stages of dissipation into the still more complete desolations of the mad-house, in the play and in the picture are described with almost equal force and nature. The levee of the Rake, which forms the subject of the second plate in the series, is almost a transcript of Timon's levee in the opening scene of that play. We find a dedicating poet, and other similar characters, in both.

The concluding scene in the Rake's Progress is perhaps superior to the last scenes of Timon. If we seek for something of kindred excellence in poetry, it must be in the scenes[Pg 83] of Lear's beginning madness, where the King and the Fool and the Tom-o'-Bedlam conspire to produce such a medley of mirth checked by misery, and misery rebuked by mirth; where the society of those "strange bed-fellows" which misfortunes have brought Lear acquainted with, so finely sets forth the destitute state of the monarch, while the lunatic bans of the one, and the disjointed sayings and wild but pregnant allusions of the other, so wonderfully sympathize with that confusion, which they seem to assist in the production of, in the senses of that "child-changed father."

In the scene in Bedlam, which terminates the Rake's Progress, we find the same assortment of the ludicrous with the terrible. Here is desperate madness, the overturning of originally strong thinking faculties, at which we shudder, as we contemplate the duration and pressure of affliction which it must have asked to destroy such a building;—and here is the gradual hurtless lapse into idiocy, of faculties, which at their best of times never having been strong, we look upon the consummation of their decay with no more of pity than is consistent with a smile. The mad taylor, the poor driveller that has gone out of his wits (and truly he appears to have had no great journey to go to get past their confines) for the love of Charming Betty Careless,—these half-laughable, scarce-pitiable objects take off from the horror which the principal figure would of itself raise, at the same time that they assist the feeling of the scene by contributing to the general notion of its subject:—

Madness, thou chaos of the brain,
What art, that pleasure giv'st, and pain?
Tyranny of Fancy's reign!
Mechanic Fancy, that can build
Vast labyrinths and mazes wild,
With rule disjointed, shapeless measure,
Fill'd with horror, fill'd with pleasure!
Shapes of horror, that would even
Cast doubts of mercy upon heaven.
Shapes of pleasure, that, but seen,
Would split the shaking sides of spleen.[7]

[7] Lines inscribed under the plate.

Is it carrying the spirit of comparison to excess to remark, that in the poor kneeling weeping female, who accompanies her seducer in his sad decay, there is something analogous[Pg 84] to Kent, or Caius, as he delights rather to be called, in Lear,—the noblest pattern of virtue which even Shakspeare has conceived,—who follows his royal master in banishment, that had pronounced his banishment, and forgetful at once of his wrongs and dignities, taking on himself the disguise of a menial, retains his fidelity to the figure, his loyalty to the carcass, the shadow, the shell and empty husk of Lear?

In the perusal of a book, or of a picture, much of the impression which we receive depends upon the habit of mind which we bring with us to such perusal. The same circumstance may make one person laugh, which shall render another very serious; or in the same person the first impression may be corrected by after-thought. The misemployed incongruous characters at the Harlot's Funeral, on a superficial inspection, provoke to laughter; but when we have sacrificed the first emotion to levity, a very different frame of mind succeeds, or the painter has lost half his purpose. I never look at that wonderful assemblage of depraved beings, who, without a grain of reverence or pity in their perverted minds, are performing the sacred exteriors of duty to the relics of their departed partner in folly, but I am as much moved to sympathy from the very want of it in them, as I should be by the finest representation of a virtuous death-bed surrounded by real mourners, pious children, weeping friends,—perhaps more by the very contrast. What reflexions does it not awake, of the dreadful heartless state in which the creature (a female too) must have lived, who in death wants the accompaniment of one genuine tear. That wretch who is removing the lid of the coffin to gaze upon the corpse with a face which indicates a perfect negation of all goodness or womanhood—the hypocrite parson and his demure partner—all the fiendish group—to a thoughtful mind present a moral emblem more affecting than if the poor friendless carcass had been depicted as thrown out to the woods, where wolves had assisted at its obsequies, itself furnishing forth its own funeral banquet.

It is easy to laugh at such incongruities as are met together in this picture,—incongruous objects being of the very essence of laughter,—but surely the laugh is far different in its kind from that thoughtless species to which we are moved by mere farce and grotesque. We laugh when Ferdinand Count Fathom, at the first sight of the white cliffs of Britain, feels his[Pg 85] heart yearn with filial fondness towards the land of his progenitors, which he is coming to fleece and plunder,—we smile at the exquisite irony of the passage,—but if we are not led on by such passages to some more salutary feeling than laughter, we are very negligent perusers of them in book or picture.

It is the fashion with those who cry up the great Historical School in this country, at the head of which Sir Joshua Reynolds is placed, to exclude Hogarth from that school, as an artist of an inferior and vulgar class. Those persons seem to me to confound the painting of subjects in common or vulgar life with the being a vulgar artist. The quantity of thought which Hogarth crowds into every picture, would alone unvulgarize every subject which he might choose. Let us take the lowest of his subjects, the print called Gin Lane. Here is plenty of poverty and low stuff to disgust upon a superficial view; and accordingly, a cold spectator feels himself immediately disgusted and repelled. I have seen many turn away from it, not being able to bear it. The same persons would perhaps have looked with great complacency upon Poussin's celebrated picture of the Plague of Athens.[8] Disease and Death and bewildering Terror in Athenian garments are endurable, and come, as the delicate critics express it, within the "limits of pleasurable sensation." But the scenes of their own St. Giles's, delineated by their own countryman, are too shocking to think of. Yet if we could abstract our minds from the fascinating colours of the picture, and forget the coarse execution (in some respects) of the print, intended as it was to be a cheap plate, accessible to the poorer sort of people, for whose instruction it was done, I think we could have no hesitation in conferring the palm of superior genius upon Hogarth, comparing this work of his with Poussin's picture. There is more of imagination in it—that power which draws all things to one,—which makes things animate and inanimate, beings with their attributes, subjects and their accessories, take one colour, and serve to one effect. Every thing in the print, to use a vulgar expression, tells. Every part is full of "strange images of death." It is perfectly amazing and astounding to look at. Not only the two prominent figures, the woman and the half-dead[Pg 86] man, which are as terrible as any thing which Michael Angelo ever drew, but every thing else in the print contributes to bewilder and stupefy,—the very houses, as I heard a friend of mine express it, tumbling all about in various directions, seem drunk—seem absolutely reeling from the effect of that diabolical spirit of phrenzy which goes forth over the whole composition.—To shew the poetical and almost prophetical conception in the artist, one little circumstance may serve. Not content with the dying and dead figures, which he has strewed in profusion over the proper scene of the action, he shews you what (of a kindred nature) is passing beyond it. Close by the shell, in which, by direction of the parish beadle, a man is depositing his wife, is an old wall, which, partaking of the universal decay around it, is tumbling to pieces. Through a gap in this wall are seen three figures, which appear to make a part in some funeral procession which is passing by on the other side of the wall, out of the sphere of the composition. This extending of the interest beyond the bounds of the subject could only have been conceived by a great genius. Shakspeare, in his description of the painting of the Trojan War, in his Tarquin and Lucrece, has introduced a similar device, where the painter made a part stand for the whole:—

For much imaginary work was there,
Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,
That for Achilles' image stood his spear,
Grip'd in an armed hand; himself behind
Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind;
A hand, a foot, a face, a leg, a head,
Stood for the whole to be imagined.

[8] At the late Mr. Hope's, in Cavendish-square.

This he well calls imaginary work, where the spectator must meet the artist in his conceptions half way; and it is peculiar to the confidence of high genius alone to trust so much to spectators or readers. Lesser artists shew every thing distinct and full, as they require an object to be made out to themselves before they can comprehend it.

When I think of the power displayed in this (I will not hesitate to say) sublime print, it seems to me the extreme narrowness of system alone, and of that rage for classification, by which, in matters of taste at least, we are perpetually perplexing instead of arranging our ideas, that would make us concede to the work of Poussin above-mentioned, and deny to this of Hogarth, the name of a grand serious composition.

[Pg 87]

We are for ever deceiving ourselves with names and theories. We call one man a great historical painter, because he has taken for his subjects kings or great men, or transactions over which time has thrown a grandeur. We term another the painter of common life, and set him down in our minds for an artist of an inferior class, without reflecting whether the quantity of thought shewn by the latter may not much more than level the distinction which their mere choice of subjects may seem to place between them; or whether, in fact, from that very common life a great artist may not extract as deep an interest as another man from that which we are pleased to call history.

I entertain the highest respect for the talents and virtues of Reynolds, but I do not like that his reputation should overshadow and stifle the merits of such a man as Hogarth, nor that to mere names and classifications we should be content to sacrifice one of the greatest ornaments of England.

I would ask the most enthusiastic admirer of Reynolds, whether in the countenances of his Staring and Grinning Despair, which he has given us for the faces of Ugolino and dying Beaufort, there be any thing comparable to the expression which Hogarth has put into the face of his broken-down rake in the last plate but one of the Rake's Progress,[9] where a letter from the manager is brought to him to say that his play "will not do?" Here all is easy, natural, undistorted, but withal what a mass of woe is here accumulated!—the long history of a mis-spent life is compressed into the countenance as plainly as the series of plates before had told it; here is no attempt at Gorgonian looks which are to freeze the beholder, no grinning at the antique bedposts, no face-making, or consciousness of the presence of spectators in or out of the picture, but grief kept to a man's self, a face retiring from notice with the shame which great anguish sometimes brings with it,—a final leave taken of hope,—the coming on of vacancy and stupefaction,—a beginning alienation of mind looking like tranquillity. Here is matter for the mind of the beholder to feed on for the hour together,—matter to feed and fertilize the mind. It is too real to admit one thought[Pg 88] about the power of the artist who did it.—When we compare the expression in subjects which so fairly admit of comparison, and find the superiority so clearly to remain with Hogarth, shall the mere contemptible difference of the scene of it being laid in the one case in our Fleet or King's Bench Prison, and in the other in the State Prison of Pisa, or the bed-room of a cardinal,—or that the subject of the one has never been authenticated, and the other is matter of history,—so weigh down the real points of the comparison, as to induce us to rank the artist who has chosen the one scene or subject (though confessedly inferior in that which constitutes the soul of his art) in a class from which we exclude the better genius (who has happened to make choice of the other) with something like disgrace?[10]

[9] The first perhaps in all Hogarth for serious expression. That which comes next to it, I think, is the jaded morning countenance of the debauchee in the second plate of the Marriage Alamode, which lectures on the vanity of pleasure as audibly as any thing in Ecclesiastes.

[10] Sir Joshua Reynolds, somewhere in his lectures, speaks of the presumption of Hogarth in attempting the grand style in painting, by which he means his choice of certain Scripture subjects. Hogarth's excursions into Holy Land were not very numerous, but what he has left us in this kind have at least this merit, that they have expression of some sort or other in them,—the Child Moses before Pharaoh's Daughter, for instance: which is more than can be said of Sir Joshua Reynolds's Repose in Egypt, painted for Macklin's Bible, where for a Madona he has substituted a sleepy, insensible, unmotherly girl, one so little worthy to have been selected as the Mother of the Saviour, that she seems to have neither heart nor feeling to entitle her to become a mother at all. But indeed the race of Virgin Mary painters seems to have been cut up, root and branch, at the Reformation. Our artists are too good Protestants to give life to that admirable commixture of maternal tenderness with reverential awe and wonder approaching to worship, with which the Virgin Mothers of L. da Vinci and Raphael (themselves by their divine countenances inviting men to worship) contemplate the union of the two natures in the person of their Heaven-born Infant.

The Boys under Demoniacal Possession of Raphael and Dominichino, by what law of classification are we bound to assign them to belong to the great style in painting, and to degrade into an inferior class the Rake of Hogarth when he is the Madman in the Bedlam scene? I am sure he is far more impressive than either. It is a face which no one that has seen can easily forget. There is the stretch of human suffering to the utmost endurance, severe bodily pain brought on by strong mental agony, the frightful obstinate laugh of madness,—yet all so unforced and natural, that those who never were witness to madness in real life, think they see nothing but what is familiar to them in this face. Here are no tricks of distortion, nothing but the natural face of agony.[Pg 89] This is high tragic painting, and we might as well deny to Shakspeare the honours of a great tragedian, because he has interwoven scenes of mirth with the serious business of his plays, as refuse to Hogarth the same praise for the two concluding scenes of the Rake's Progress, because of the Comic Lunatics[11] which he has thrown into the one, or the Alchymist that he has introduced in the other, who is paddling in the coals of his furnace, keeping alive the flames of vain hope within the very walls of the prison to which the vanity has conducted him, which have taught the darker lesson of extinguished hope to the desponding figure who is the principal person of the scene.


There are of madmen, as there are of tame,
All humour'd not alike. We have here some
So apish and fantastic, play with a feather;
And though 'twould grieve a soul to see God's image
So blemish'd and defac'd, yet do they act
Such antick and such pretty lunacies,
That, spite of sorrow, they will make you smile.
Others again we have, like angry lions,
Fierce as wild bulls, untameable as flies.
"Honest Whore."

It is the force of these kindly admixtures, which assimilates the scenes of Hogarth and of Shakspeare to the drama of real life, where no such thing as pure tragedy is to be found; but merriment and infelicity, ponderous crime and feather-light vanity, like twiformed births, disagreeing complexions of one intertexture, perpetually unite to shew forth motley spectacles to the world. Then it is that the poet or painter shews his art, when in the selection of these comic adjuncts he chooses such circumstances as shall relieve, contrast with, or fall into, without forming a violent opposition to, his principal object. Who sees not that the Grave-digger in Hamlet, the Fool in Lear, have a kind of correspondency to, and fall in with, the subjects which they seem to interrupt, while the comic stuff in Venice Preserved, and the doggrel nonsense of the Cook and his poisoning associates in the Rollo of Beaumont and Fletcher, are pure, irrelevant, impertinent discords,—as bad as the quarrelling dog and cat under the table of the Lord and the Disciples at Emmaus of Titian?

Not to tire the reader with perpetual reference to prints which he may not be fortunate enough to possess, it may be sufficient to remark, that the same tragic cast of expression[Pg 90] and incident, blended in some instances with a greater alloy of comedy, characterizes his other great work, the Marriage Alamode, as well as those less elaborate exertions of his genius, the prints called Industry and Idleness, the Distrest Poet, &c. forming, with the Harlot's and Rake's Progresses, the most considerable if not the largest class of his productions,—enough surely to rescue Hogarth from the imputation of being a mere buffoon, or one whose general aim was only to shake the sides.

There remains a very numerous class of his performances, the object of which must be confessed to be principally comic. But in all of them will be found something to distinguish them from the droll productions of Bunbury and others. They have this difference, that we do not merely laugh at, we are led into long trains of reflection by them. In this respect they resemble the characters of Chaucer's Pilgrims, which have strokes of humour in them enough to designate them for the most part as comic, but our strongest feeling still is wonder at the comprehensiveness of genius which could crowd, as poet and painter have done, into one small canvas so many diverse yet co-operating materials.

The faces of Hogarth have not a mere momentary interest, as in caricatures, or those grotesque physiognomies which we sometimes catch a glance of in the street, and, struck with their whimsicality, wish for a pencil and the power to sketch them down; and forget them again as rapidly,—but they are permanent abiding ideas. Not the sports of nature, but her necessary eternal classes. We feel that we cannot part with any of them, lest a link should be broken.

It is worthy of observation, that he has seldom drawn a mean or insignificant countenance.[12] Hogarth's mind was eminently reflective; and, as it has been well observed of Shakspeare, that he has transfused his own poetical character into the persons of his drama (they are all more or less poets) Hogarth has impressed a thinking character upon the persons of his canvas. This remark must not be taken univer[Pg 91]sally. The exquisite idiotism of the little gentleman in the bag and sword beating his drum in the print of the Enraged Musician, would of itself rise up against so sweeping an assertion. But I think it will be found to be true of the generality of his countenances. The knife-grinder and Jew flute-player in the plate just mentioned may serve as instances instead of a thousand. They have intense thinking faces, though the purpose to which they are subservient by no means required it; but indeed it seems as if it was painful to Hogarth to contemplate mere vacancy or insignificance.

[12] If there are any of that description, they are in his Strolling Players, a print which has been cried up by Lord Orford as the richest of his productions, and it may be, for what I know, in the mere lumber, the properties, and dead furniture of the scene, but in living character and expression it is (for Hogarth) lamentably poor and wanting; it is perhaps the only one of his performances at which we have a right to feel disgusted.

This reflection of the artist's own intellect from the faces of his characters, is one reason why the works of Hogarth, so much more than those of any other artist are objects of meditation. Our intellectual natures love the mirror which gives them back their own likenesses. The mental eye will not bend long with delight upon vacancy.

Another line of eternal separation between Hogarth and the common painters of droll or burlesque subjects, with whom he is often confounded, is the sense of beauty, which in the most unpromising subjects seems never wholly to have deserted him. "Hogarth himself," says Mr. Coleridge,[13] from whom I have borrowed this observation, speaking of a scene which took place at Ratzeburg, "never drew a more ludicrous distortion, both of attitude and physiognomy, than this effect occasioned: nor was there wanting beside it one of those beautiful female faces which the same Hogarth, in whom the satirist never extinguished that love of beauty which belonged to him as a poet, so often and so gladly introduces as the central figure in a crowd of humorous deformities, which figure (such is the power of true genius) neither acts nor is meant to act as a contrast; but diffuses through all, and over each of the group, a spirit of reconciliation and human kindness; and even when the attention is no longer consciously directed to the cause of this feeling, still blends its tenderness with our laughter: and thus prevents the instructive merriment at the whims of nature, or the foibles or humours of our fellow-men, from degenerating into the heart-poison of contempt or hatred." To the beautiful females in Hogarth, which Mr. C. has pointed out, might be added, the frequent introduction of children (which Hogarth[Pg 92] seems to have taken a particular delight in) into his pieces. They have a singular effect in giving tranquillity and a portion of their own innocence to the subject. The baby riding in its mother's lap in the March to Finchley, (its careless innocent face placed directly behind the intriguing time-furrowed countenance of the treason-plotting French priest) perfectly sobers the whole of that tumultuous scene. The boy mourner winding up his top with so much unpretended insensibility in the plate of the Harlot's Funeral, (the only thing in that assembly that is not a hypocrite) quiets and soothes the mind that has been disturbed at the sight of so much depraved man and woman kind.

[13] The Friend, No. XVI.

I had written thus far, when I met with a passage in the writings of the late Mr. Barry, which, as it falls in with the vulgar notion respecting Hogarth, which this Essay has been employed in combating, I shall take the liberty to transcribe, with such remarks as may suggest themselves to me in the transcription; referring the reader for a full answer to that which has gone before.

"Notwithstanding Hogarth's merit does undoubtedly entitle him to an honourable place amongst the artists, and that his little compositions considered as so many dramatic representations, abounding with humour, character, and extensive observations on the various incidents of low, faulty, and vicious life, are very ingeniously brought together, and frequently tell their own story with more facility than is often found in many of the elevated and more noble inventions of Raffael, and other great men; yet it must be honestly confessed, that in what is called knowledge of the figure, foreigners have justly observed, that Hogarth is often so raw, and uninformed, as hardly to deserve the name of an artist. But this capital defect is not often perceivable, as examples of the naked and of elevated nature but rarely occur in his subjects, which are for the most part filled with characters, that in their nature tend to deformity; besides, his figures are small, and the junctures, and other difficulties of drawing that might occur in their limbs, are artfully concealed with their cloaths, rags, &c. But what would atone for all his defects, even if they were twice told, is his admirable fund of invention, ever inexhaustible in its resources; and his satire, which is always sharp and pertinent, and often highly moral, was (except in a few instances, where he weakly and meanly suffered his integrity[Pg 93] to give way to his envy) seldom or never employed in a dishonest or unmanly way.

Hogarth has been often imitated in his satirical vein, sometimes in his humorous; but very few have attempted to rival him in his moral walk. The line of art pursued by my very ingenious predecessor and brother academician, Mr. Penny, is quite distinct from that of Hogarth, and is of a much more delicate and superior relish; he attempts the heart, and reaches it, whilst Hogarth's general aim is only to shake the sides: in other respects no comparison can be thought of, as Mr. Penny has all that knowledge of the figure and academical skill which the other wanted. As to Mr. Bunbury, who had so happily succeeded in the vein of humour and caricatura, he has for some time past altogether relinquished it, for the more amiable pursuit of beautiful nature: this indeed is not to be wondered at, when we recollect that he has, in Mrs. Bunbury, so admirable an exemplar of the most finished grace and beauty, continually at his elbow. But (to say all that occurs to me on this subject) perhaps it may be reasonably doubted, whether the being much conversant with Hogarth's method of exposing meanness, deformity, and vice, in many of his works, is not rather a dangerous, or, at least, a worthless pursuit; which, if it does not find a false relish, and a love of, and search after satire and buffoonery in the spectator, is at least not unlikely to give him one. Life is short, and the little leisure of it is much better laid out upon that species of art, which is employed upon the amiable and the admirable, as it is more likely to be attended with better and nobler consequences to ourselves. These two pursuits in art, may be compared with two sets of people with whom we might associate; if we give ourselves up to the Footes, the Kenricks, &c. we shall be continually busied, and paddling in whatever is ridiculous, faulty, and vicious in life; whereas there are those to be found, with whom we should be in the constant pursuit and study of all that gives a value and a dignity to human nature." [Account of a Series of Pictures in the Great Room of the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, at the Adelphi, by James Barry, R.A., Professor of Painting to the Royal Academy; reprinted in the last quarto edition of his works.]

"——it must be honestly confessed, that in what is called knowledge of the figure, foreigners have justly observed," [Pg 94]&c.

It is a secret well known to the professors of the art and mystery of criticism, to insist upon what they do not find in a man's works, and to pass over in silence what they do. That Hogarth did not draw the naked figure so well as Michael Angelo might be allowed, especially as "examples of the naked," as Mr. Barry acknowledges, "rarely (he might almost have said never) occur in his subjects;" and that his figures under their draperies do not discover all the fine graces of an Antinous or an Apollo, may be conceded likewise; perhaps it was more suitable to his purpose to represent the average forms of mankind in the mediocrity (as Mr. Burke expresses it) of the age in which he lived: but that his figures in general, and in his best subjects, are so glaringly incorrect as is here insinuated, I dare trust my own eye so far as positively to deny the fact. And there is one part of the figure in which Hogarth is allowed to have excelled, which these foreigners seem to have overlooked, or perhaps calculating from its proportion to the whole (a seventh or an eighth, I forget which) deemed it of trifling importance; I mean the human face; a small part, reckoning by geographical inches, in the map of man's body, but here it is that the painter of expression must condense the wonders of his skill, even at the expense of neglecting the "jonctures and other difficulties of drawing in the limbs," which it must be a cold eye that in the interest so strongly demanded by Hogarth's countenances has leisure to survey and censure.

"The line of art pursued by my very ingenious predecessor and brother academician, Mr. Penny."

The first impression caused in me by reading this passage, was an eager desire to know who this Mr. Penny was. This great surpasser of Hogarth in the "delicacy of his relish," and the "line which he pursued," where is he, what are his works, what has he to shew? In vain I tried to recollect, till by happily putting the question to a friend who is more conversant in the works of the illustrious obscure than myself, I learned that he was the painter of a Death of Wolfe which missed the prize the year that the celebrated picture of West on the same subject obtained it; that he also made a picture of the Marquis of Granby relieving a Sick Soldier; moreover, that he was the inventor of two pictures of Suspended and Restored Animation, which I now remember to have seen in the Exhibition some years since, and the prints[Pg 95] from which are still extant in good men's houses. This then I suppose is the line of subjects in which Mr. Penny was so much superior to Hogarth. I confess I am not of that opinion. The relieving of poverty by the purse, and the restoring a young man to his parents by using the methods prescribed by the Humane Society, are doubtless very amiable subjects, pretty things to teach the first rudiments of humanity; they amount to about as much instruction as the stories of good boys that give away their custards to poor beggar-boys in children's books. But, good God! is this milk for babes to be set up in opposition to Hogarth's moral scenes, his strong meat for men? As well might we prefer the fulsome verses upon their own goodness, to which the gentlemen of the Literary Fund annually sit still with such shameless patience to listen, to the satires of Juvenal and Persius; because the former are full of tender images of Worth relieved by Charity, and Charity stretching out her hand to rescue sinking Genius, and the theme of the latter is men's crimes and follies with their black consequences—forgetful meanwhile of those strains of moral pathos, those sublime heart-touches, which these poets (in them chiefly shewing themselves poets) are perpetually darting across the otherwise appalling gloom of their subject—consolatory remembrancers, when their pictures of guilty mankind have made us even to despair for our species, that there is such a thing as virtue and moral dignity in the world, that her unquenchable spark is not utterly out—refreshing admonitions, to which we turn for shelter from the too great heat and asperity of the general satire.

And is there nothing analogous to this in Hogarth? nothing which "attempts and reaches the heart?"—no aim beyond that of "shaking the sides?"—if the kneeling ministering female in the last scene of the Rake's Progress, the Bedlam scene, of which I have spoken before, and have dared almost to parallel it with the most absolute idea of Virtue which Shakspeare has left us, be not enough to disprove the assertion; if the sad endings of the Harlot and the Rake, the passionate heart-bleeding entreaties for forgiveness which the adulterous wife is pouring forth to her assassinated and dying lord in the last scene but one of the Marriage Alamode,—if these be not things to touch the heart, and dispose the mind to a meditative tenderness: is there nothing sweetly conciliatory[Pg 96] in the mild, patient face and gesture with which the wife seems to allay and ventilate the feverish irritated feelings of her poor poverty-distracted mate (the true copy of the genus irritabile) in the print of the Distrest Poet? or if an image of maternal love be required, where shall we find a sublimer view of it than in that aged woman in Industry and Idleness (plate v.) who is clinging with the fondness of hope not quite extinguished to her brutal vice-hardened child, whom she is accompanying to the ship which is to bear him away from his native soil, of which he has been adjudged unworthy: in whose shocking face every trace of the human countenance seems obliterated, and a brute beast's to be left instead, shocking and repulsive to all but her who watched over it in its cradle before it was so sadly altered, and feels it must belong to her while a pulse by the vindictive laws of his country shall be suffered to continue to beat in it. Compared with such things, what is Mr. Penny's "knowledge of the figure and academical skill which Hogarth wanted?"

With respect to what follows concerning another gentleman, with the congratulations to him on his escape out of the regions of "humour and caricatura," in which it appears he was in danger of travelling side by side with Hogarth, I can only congratulate my country, that Mrs. Hogarth knew her province better than by disturbing her husband at his pallet to divert him from that universality of subject, which has stamped him perhaps, next to Shakspeare, the most inventive genius which this island has produced, into the "amiable pursuit of beautiful nature," i.e. copying ad infinitum the individual charms and graces of Mrs. H——.

"Hogarth's method of exposing meanness, deformity, and vice, paddling in whatever is ridiculous, faulty, and vicious."

A person unacquainted with the works thus stigmatised, would be apt to imagine, that in Hogarth there was nothing else to be found but subjects of the coarsest and most repulsive nature. That his imagination was naturally unsweet, and that he delighted in raking into every species of moral filth. That he preyed upon sore places only, and took a pleasure in exposing the unsound and rotten parts of human nature;—whereas, with the exception of some of the plates of the Harlot's Progress, which are harder in their character than any of the rest of his productions, (the Stages of Cruelty I omit as mere worthless caricaturas,[Pg 97] foreign to his general habits, the offspring of his fancy in some wayward humour), there is scarce one of his pieces where vice is most strongly satirised, in which some figure is not introduced upon which the moral eye may rest satisfied; a face that indicates goodness, or perhaps mere good humouredness and carelessness of mind (negation of evil) only, yet enough to give a relaxation to the frowning brow of satire, and keep the general air from tainting. Take the mild, supplicating posture of patient Poverty in the poor woman that is persuading the pawnbroker to accept her clothes in pledge, in the plate of Gin Lane, for an instance. A little does it, a little of the good nature overpowers a world of bad. One cordial honest laugh of a Tom Jones absolutely clears the atmosphere that was reeking with the black putrifying breathings of a hypocrite Blifil. One homely expostulating shrug from Strap, warms the whole air which the suggestions of a gentlemanly ingratitude from his friend Random had begun to freeze. One "Lord bless us!" of Parson Adams upon the wickedness of the times, exorcises and purges off the mass of iniquity which the world-knowledge of even a Fielding could cull out and rake together. But of the severer class of Hogarth's performances, enough, I trust, has been said to shew that they do not merely shock and repulse; that there is in them the "scorn of vice" and the "pity" too; something to touch the heart, and keep alive the sense of moral beauty; the "lacrymæ rerum," and the sorrowing by which the heart is made better. If they be bad things, then is satire and tragedy a bad thing; let us proclaim at once an age of gold, and sink the existence of vice and misery in our speculations; let us

——wink, and shut our apprehensions up
From common sense of what men were and are:

let us make believe with the children that every body is good and happy; and, with Dr. Swift, write panegyrics upon the world.

But that larger half of Hogarth's works which were painted more for entertainment than instruction (though such was the suggestiveness of his mind, that there is always something to be learnt from them) his humourous scenes,—are they such as merely to disgust and set us against our species?

The confident assertions of such a man as I consider the[Pg 98] late Mr. Barry to have been, have that weight of authority in them which staggers, at first hearing, even a long preconceived opinion. When I read his pathetic admonition concerning the shortness of life, and how much better the little leisure of it were laid out upon "that species of art which is employed about the amiable and the admirable;" and Hogarth's "method" proscribed as a "dangerous or worthless pursuit," I began to think there was something in it; that I might have been indulging all my life a passion for the works of this artist, to the utter prejudice of my taste and moral sense; but my first convictions gradually returned, a world of good-natured English faces came up one by one to my recollection, and a glance at the matchless Election Entertainment, which I have the happiness to have hanging up in my parlour, subverted Mr. Barry's whole theory in an instant.

In that inimitable print, (which in my judgment as far exceeds the more known and celebrated March to Finchley, as the best comedy exceeds the best farce that ever was written,) let a person look till he be saturated, and when he has done wondering at the inventiveness of genius which could bring so many characters (more than thirty distinct classes of face) into a room, and set them down at table together, or otherwise dispose them about, in so natural a manner, engage them in so many easy sets and occupations, yet all partaking of the spirit of the occasion which brought them together, so that we feel that nothing but an election time could have assembled them; having no central figure or principal group, (for the hero of the piece, the Candidate, is properly set aside in the levelling indistinction of the day, one must look for him to find him) nothing to detain the eye from passing from part to part, where every part is alike instinct with life,—for here are no furniture-faces, no figures brought in to fill up the scene like stage choruses, but all dramatis personæ: when he shall have done wondering at all these faces so strongly charactered, yet finished with the accuracy of the finest miniature; when he shall have done admiring the numberless appendages of the scene, those gratuitous doles which rich genius flings into the heap when it has already done enough, the over-measure which it delights in giving, as if its stores were exhaustless; the dumb rhetoric of the scenery—for tables, and chairs, and[Pg 99] joint-stools in Hogarth, are living and significant things; the witticisms that are expressed by words, (all artists but Hogarth have failed when they have endeavoured to combine two mediums of expression, and have introduced words into their pictures), and the unwritten numberless little allusive pleasantries that are scattered about; the work that is going on in the scene, and beyond it, as is made visible to the "eye of mind," by the mob which choaks up the door-way, and the sword that has forced an entrance before its master: when he shall have sufficiently admired this wealth of genius, let him fairly say what is the result left on his mind. Is it an impression of the vileness and worthlessness of his species? or is not the general feeling which remains, after the individual faces have ceased to act sensibly on his mind, a kindly one in favour of his species? was not the general air of the whole scene wholesome? did it do the heart hurt to be among it? Something of a riotous spirit to be sure is there, some worldly-mindedness in some of the faces, a Doddingtonian smoothness which does not promise any superfluous degree of sincerity in the fine gentleman who has been the occasion of calling so much good company together: but is not the general cast of expression in the faces, of the good sort? do they not seem cut out of the good old rock, substantial English honesty? would one fear treachery among characters of their expression? or shall we call their honest mirth and seldom-returning relaxation by the hard names of vice and profligacy? That poor country fellow, that is grasping his staff (which, from that difficulty of feeling themselves at home which poor men experience at a feast, he has never parted with since he came into the room), and is enjoying with a relish that seems to fit all the capacities of his soul the slender joke, which that facetious wag his neighbour is practising upon the gouty gentleman, whose eyes the effort to suppress pain has made as round as rings—does it shock the "dignity of human nature" to look at that man, and to sympathise with him in the seldom-heard joke which has unbent his care-worn hard-working visage, and drawn iron smiles from it? or with that full-hearted cobbler who is honouring with the grasp of an honest fist the unused palm of that annoyed patrician, whom the license of the time has seated next him?

[Pg 100]

I can see nothing "dangerous" in the contemplation of such scenes as this, or the Enraged Musician, or the Southwark Fair, or twenty other pleasant prints which come crowding in upon my recollection, in which the restless activities, the diversified bents and humours, the blameless peculiarities of men, as they deserve to be called, rather than their "vices and follies," are held up in a laughable point of view. All laughter is not of a dangerous or soul-hardening tendency. There is the petrifying sneer of a demon which excludes and kills Love, and there is the cordial laughter of a man which implies and cherishes it. What heart was ever made the worse by joining in a hearty laugh at the simplicities of Sir Hugh Evans or Parson Adams, where a sense of the ridiculous mutually kindles and is kindled by a perception of the amiable? That tumultuous harmony of singers that are roaring out the words, "The world shall bow to the Assyrian throne," from the opera of Judith, in the third plate of the series, called the Four Groups of Heads; which the quick eye of Hogarth must have struck off in the very infancy of the rage for sacred oratorios in this country, while "Music yet was young;" when we have done smiling at the deafening distortions, which these tearers of devotion to rags and tatters, these takers of Heaven by storm, in their boisterous mimicry of the occupation of angels, are making,—what unkindly impression is left behind, or what more of harsh or contemptuous feeling, than when we quietly leave Uncle Toby and Mr. Shandy riding their hobby-horses about the room? The conceited, long-backed Sign-painter, that with all the self-applause of a Raphael or Correggio (the twist of body which his conceit has thrown him into has something of the Correggiesque in it) is contemplating the picture of a bottle which he is drawing from an actual bottle that hangs beside him, in the print of Beer Street,—while we smile at the enormity of the self delusion, can we help loving the good humour and self-complacency of the fellow? would we willingly wake him from his dream?

I say not that all the ridiculous subjects of Hogarth have necessarily something in them to make us like them; some are indifferent to us, some in their natures repulsive, and only made interesting by the wonderful skill and truth to nature in the painter; but I contend that there is in most of them that sprinkling of the better nature, which, like holy[Pg 101] water, chases away and disperses the contagion of the bad. They have this in them besides, that they bring us acquainted with the every-day human face,—they give us skill to detect those gradations of sense and virtue (which escape the careless or fastidious observer) in the countenances of the world about us; and prevent that disgust at common life, that tædium quotidianarum formarum, which an unrestricted passion for ideal forms and beauties is in danger of producing. In this, as in many other things, they are analogous to the best novels of Smollett or Fielding.



Mr. Reflector, I am one of those persons whom the world has thought proper to designate by the title of Damned Authors. In that memorable season of dramatic failures, 1806-7, in which no fewer, I think, than two tragedies, four comedies, one opera, and three farces, suffered at Drury-lane theatre, I was found guilty of constructing an afterpiece, and was damned.

Against the decision of the public in such instances there can be no appeal. The Clerk of Chatham might as well have protested against the decision of Cade and his followers, who were then the public. Like him I was condemned, because I could write.

Not but it did appear to some of us, that the measures of the popular tribunal at that period savoured a little of harshness and of the summum jus. The public mouth was early in the season fleshed upon the Vindictive Man, and some pieces of that nature, and it retained through the remainder of it a relish of blood. As Dr. Johnson would have said; sir, there was a habit of sibilation in the house.

Still less am I disposed to inquire into the reason of the comparative lenity, on the other hand, with which some pieces were treated, which, to indifferent judges, seemed at least as[Pg 102] much deserving of condemnation as some of those which met with it. I am willing to put a favourable construction upon the votes that were given against us; I believe that there was no bribery or designed partiality in the case;—only "our nonsense did not happen to suit their nonsense;" that was all.

But against the manner in which the public on these occasions think fit to deliver their disapprobation, I must and ever will protest.

Sir, imagine——but you have been present at the damning of a piece——those who never had that felicity, I beg them to imagine—a vast theatre, like that which Drury-lane was, before it was a heap of dust and ashes (I insult not over its fallen greatness, let it recover itself when it can for me, let it lift up its towering head once more, and take in poor authors to write for it, hic cœstus artemque repono)—a theatre like that, filled with all sorts of disgusting sounds,—shrieks, groans, hisses, but chiefly the last, like the noise of many waters, or that which Don Quixote heard from the fulling mills, or that wilder combination of devilish sounds which St. Anthony listened to in the wilderness.

O, Mr. Reflector, is it not a pity, that the sweet human voice, which was given man to speak with, to sing with, to whisper tones of love in, to express compliance, to convey a favour, or to grant a suit—that voice, which in a Siddons, or a Braham, rouses us, in a Syren Catalani charms and captivates us,—that the musical, expressive human voice should be converted into a rival of the noises of silly geese, and irrational venomous snakes!

I shall never forget the sounds on my night; I never before that time fully felt the reception which the Author of All Ill in the Paradise Lost meets with from the critics in the pit, at the final close of his Tragedy upon the Human Race—though that, alas! met with too much success—

——from innumerable tongues,
A dismal universal hiss, the sound
Of public scorn.—Dreadful was the din
Of hissing through the hall, thick swarming now
With complicated monsters, head and tail,
Scorpion and asp, and Amphisbœna dire,
Cerastes horn'd, Hydrus, and Elops drear,
And Dipsas.

For hall substitute theatre, and you have the very image of what takes place at what is called the damnation of a piece,[Pg 103]—and properly so called; for here you see its origin plainly, whence the custom was derived, and what the first piece was that so suffered. After this none can doubt the propriety of the appellation.

But, sir, as to the justice of bestowing such appalling, heart-withering denunciations of the popular obloquy, upon the venial mistake of a poor author, who thought to please us in the act of filling his pockets,—for the sum of his demerits amounts to no more than that,—it does, I own, seem to me a species of retributive justice, far too severe for the offence. A culprit in the pillory (bate the eggs) meets with no severer exprobation.

Indeed, I have often wondered that some modest critic has not proposed, that there should be a wooden machine to that effect erected in some convenient part of the proscenium, which an unsuccessful author should be required to mount, and stand his hour, exposed to the apples and oranges of the pit;—this amende honorable would well suit with the meanness of some authors, who in their prologues fairly prostrate their sculls to the Audience, and seem to invite a pelting.

Or why should they not have their pens publicly broke over their heads, as the swords of recreant knights in old times were, and an oath administered to them that they should never write again.

Seriously, Messieurs the Public, this outrageous way which you have got of expressing your displeasures, is too much for the occasion. When I was deafening under the effects of it, I could not help asking, what crime of great moral turpitude I had committed: for every man about me seemed to feel the offence as personal to himself, as something which public interest and private feelings alike called upon him in the strongest possible manner to stigmatise with infamy.

The Romans, it is well known to you, Mr. Reflector, took a gentler method of marking their disapprobation of an author's work. They were a humane and equitable nation.—They left the furca and the patibulum, the axe and the rods, to great offenders: for these minor, and (if I may so term them) extra-moral offences, the bent thumb was considered as a sufficient sign of disapprobation, vertere pollicem; as the pressed thumb, premere pollicem, was a mark of approving.

And really there seems to have been a sort of fitness in this method, a correspondency of sign in the punishment to[Pg 104] the offence; for as the action of writing is performed by bending the thumb forward, the retroversion, or bending back of that joint, did not unaptly point to the opposite of that action, implying, that it was the will of the audience that the author should write no more. A much more significant, as well as more humane, way of expressing that desire, than our custom of hissing, which is altogether senseless and indefensible. Nor do we find that the Roman audiences deprived themselves, by this lenity, of any tittle of that supremacy which audiences in all ages have thought themselves bound to maintain over such as have been candidates for their applause. On the contrary, by this method they seem to have had the author, as we should express it, completely under finger and thumb.

The provocations to which a dramatic genius is exposed from the public are so much the more vexatious, as they are removed from any possibility of retaliation, the hope of which sweetens most other injuries:—for the public never writes itself.—Not but something very like it took place at the time of the O.P. differences. The placards which were nightly exhibited, were, properly speaking, the composition of the public.—The public wrote them, the public applauded them, and precious morceaus of wit and eloquence they were; except some few, of a better quality, which it is well known were furnished by professed dramatic writers. After this specimen of what the public can do for itself, it should be a little slow in condemning what others do for it.

As the degrees of malignancy vary in people according as they have more or less of the Old Serpent (the father of hisses) in their composition, I have sometimes amused myself with analyzing this many-headed hydra, which calls itself the public, into the component parts of which it is "complicated, head and tail," and seeing how many varieties of the snake kind it can afford.

First, there is the Common English Snake.—This is that part of the auditory who are always the majority at damnations, but who, having no critical venom in themselves to sting them on, stay till they hear others hiss, and then join in for company.

The Blind Worm is a species very nearly allied to the foregoing. Some naturalists have doubted whether they are not the same.

The Rattle Snake.—These are your obstreperous talking critics,—the impertinent guides of the pit,—who will not give[Pg 105] a plain man leave to enjoy an evening's entertainment, but with their frothy jargon, and incessant finding of faults, either drown his pleasure quite, or force him in his own defence to join in their clamorous censure. The hiss always originates with these. When this creature springs his rattle, you would think, from the noise it makes, there was something in it; but you have only to examine the instrument from which the noise proceeds, and you will find it typical of a critic's tongue,—a shallow membrane, empty, voluble, and seated in the most contemptible part of the creature's body.

The Whip Snake.—This is he that lashes the poor author the next day in the newspapers.

The Deaf Adder, or Surda Echidna of Linnæus.—Under this head may be classed all that portion of the spectators (for audience they properly are not) who not finding the first act of a piece answer to their preconceived notions of what a first act should be, like Obstinate in John Bunyan, positively thrust their fingers in their ears, that they may not hear a word of what is coming, though perhaps the very next act may be composed in a style as different as possible, and be written quite to their own tastes. These Adders refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, because the tuning of his instrument gave them offence.

I should weary you and myself too, if I were to go through all the classes of the serpent kind. Two qualities are common to them all. They are creatures of remarkably cold digestions, and chiefly haunt pits and low grounds.

I proceed with more pleasure to give you an account of a Club to which I have the honour to belong. There are fourteen of us, who are all authors that have been once in our lives what is called damned. We meet on the anniversaries of our respective nights, and make ourselves merry at the expence of the public. The chief tenets which distinguish our society, and which every man among us is bound to hold for gospel, are,—

That the public, or mob, in all ages, have been a set of blind, deaf, obstinate, senseless, illiterate savages. That no man of genius in his senses would be ambitious of pleasing such a capricious, ungrateful rabble. That the only legitimate end of writing for them is to pick their pockets, and, that failing, we are at full liberty to vilify and abuse them as much as ever we think fit.

[Pg 106]

That authors, by their affected pretences to humility, which they make use of as a cloak to insinuate their writings into the callous senses of the multitude, obtuse to every thing but the grossest flattery, have by degrees made that great beast their master; as we may act submission to children till we are obliged to practise it in earnest. That authors are and ought to be considered the masters and preceptors of the public, and not vice versa. That it was so in the days of Orpheus, Linus, and Musæus, and would be so again, if it were not that writers prove traitors to themselves. That in particular, in the days of the first of those three great authors just mentioned, audiences appear to have been perfect models of what audiences should be; for though along with the trees and the rocks and the wild creatures, which he drew after him to listen to his strains, some serpents doubtless came to hear his music, it does not appear that any one among them ever lifted up a dissentient voice. They knew what was due to authors in those days. Now every stock and stone turns into a serpent, and has a voice.

That the terms "Courteous Reader" and "Candid Auditors," as having given rise to a false notion in those to whom they were applied, as if they conferred upon them some right, which they cannot have, of exercising their judgments, ought to be utterly banished and exploded.

These are our distinguishing tenets. To keep up the memory of the cause in which we suffered, as the ancients sacrificed a goat, a supposed unhealthy animal, to Æsculapius, on our feast-nights we cut up a goose, an animal typical of the popular voice, to the deities of Candour and Patient Hearing. A zealous member of the society once proposed that we should revive the obsolete luxury of viper-broth; but the stomachs of some of the company rising at the proposition, we lost the benefit of that highly salutary and antidotal dish.

The privilege of admission to our club is strictly limited to such as have been fairly damned. A piece that has met with ever so little applause, that has but languished its night or two, and then gone out, will never entitle its author to a seat among us. An exception to our usual readiness in conferring this privilege is, in the case of a writer, who having been once condemned, writes again, and becomes candidate for a second martyrdom. Simple damnation we hold[Pg 107] to be a merit, but to be twice-damned we adjudge infamous. Such a one we utterly reject, and black-ball without a hearing:—

The common damn'd shun his society.

Hoping that your publication of our Regulations may be a means of inviting some more members into our society, I conclude this long letter. I am, Sir, yours,



(1811. Text of 1818)

To the Editor of the Reflector

Mr. Reflector,—I was amused the other day with having the following notice thrust into my hand by a man who gives out bills at the corner of Fleet-market. Whether he saw any prognostics about me, that made him judge such notice seasonable, I cannot say; I might perhaps carry in a countenance (naturally not very florid) traces of a fever which had not long left me. Those fellows have a good instinctive way of guessing at the sort of people that are likeliest to pay attention to their papers.

"Burial Society

"A favourable opportunity now offers to any person, of either sex, who would wish to be buried in a genteel manner, by paying one shilling entrance, and two-pence per week for the benefit of the stock. Members to be free in six months. The money to be paid at Mr. Middleton's, at the sign of the First and the Last, Stonecutter's street, Fleet-market. The deceased to be furnished as follows:—A strong elm coffin, covered with superfine black, and finished with two rows, all round, close drove, best japanned nails, and adorned with ornamental drops, a handsome plate of inscription, Angel[Pg 108] above, and Flower beneath, and four pair of handsome handles, with wrought grips; the coffin to be well pitched, lined, and ruffled with fine crape; a handsome crape shroud, cap, and pillow. For use, a handsome velvet pall, three gentlemen's cloaks, three crape hatbands, three hoods and scarfs, and six pair of gloves; two porters equipped to attend the funeral, a man to attend the same with band and gloves; also, the burial fees paid, if not exceeding one guinea."

"Man," says Sir Thomas Browne, "is a noble animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave." Whoever drew up this little advertisement, certainly understood this appetite in the species, and has made abundant provision for it. It really almost induces a tædium vitæ upon one to read it. Methinks I could be willing to die, in death to be so attended. The two rows all round close-drove best black japanned nails,—how feelingly do they invite and almost irresistibly persuade us to come and be fastened down! what aching head can resist the temptation to repose, which the crape shroud, the cap, and the pillow present; what sting is there in death, which the handles with wrought gripes are not calculated to pluck away? what victory in the grave, which the drops and the velvet pall do not render at least extremely disputable; but above all, the pretty emblematic plate with the Angel above and the Flower beneath, takes me mightily.

The notice goes on to inform us, that though the society has been established but a very few years, upwards of eleven hundred persons have put down their names. It is really an affecting consideration to think of so many poor people, of the industrious and hard working class (for none but such would be possessed of such a generous forethought) clubbing their twopences to save the reproach of a parish funeral. Many a poor fellow, I dare swear, has that Angel and Flower kept from the Angel and Punchbowl, while, to provide himself a bier, he has curtailed himself of beer. Many a savory morsel has the living body been deprived of, that the lifeless one might be served up in a richer state to the worms. And sure, if the body could understand the actions of the soul, and entertain generous notions of things, it would thank its provident partner, that she had been more solicitous to defend it from dishonours at its dissolution, than careful to pamper it with good things in the time of its union. If Cæsar[Pg 109] were chiefly anxious at his death how he might die most decently, every Burial Society may be considered as a Club of Cæsars.

Nothing tends to keep up, in the imaginations of the poorer sort of people, a generous horror of the workhouse more than the manner in which pauper funerals are conducted in this metropolis. The coffin nothing but a few naked planks, coarsely put together,—the want of a pall (that decent and well-imagined veil, which, hiding the coffin that hides the body, keeps that which would shock us at two removes from us), the coloured coats of the men that are hired, at cheap rates, to carry the body,—altogether, give the notion of the deceased having been some person of an ill-life and conversation, some one who may not claim the entire rites of Christian burial,—one by whom some parts of the sacred ceremony would be desecrated if they should be bestowed upon him. I meet these meagre processions sometimes in the street. They are sure to make me out of humour and melancholy all the day after. They have a harsh and ominous aspect.

If there is anything in the prospectus issued from Mr. Middleton's, Stonecutter's-street, which pleases me less than the rest, it is to find, that the six pair of gloves are to be returned, that they are only lent, or, as the bill expresses it, for use, on the occasion. The hood, scarfs, and hatbands, may properly enough be given up after the solemnity: the cloaks no gentleman would think of keeping; but a pair of gloves, once fitted on, ought not in courtesy to be re-demanded. The wearer should certainly have the fee-simple of them. The cost would be but trifling, and they would be a proper memorial of the day. This part of the Proposal wants reconsidering. It is not conceived in the same liberal way of thinking as the rest. I am also a little doubtful whether the limit, within which the burial-fee is made payable, should not be extended to thirty shillings.

Some provision too ought undoubtedly to be made in favour of those well-intentioned persons and well-wishers to the fund, who, having all along paid their subscriptions regularly, are so unfortunate as to die before the six months, which would entitle them to their freedom, are quite completed. One can hardly imagine a more distressing case than that of a poor fellow lingering on in a consumption till the period of his freedom is almost in sight, and then finding himself going[Pg 110] with a velocity which makes it doubtful whether he shall be entitled to his funeral honours: his quota to which he nevertheless squeezes out, to the diminution of the comforts which sickness demands. I think, in such cases, some of the contribution-money ought to revert. With some such modifications, which might easily be introduced, I see nothing in these Proposals of Mr. Middleton which is not strictly fair and genteel; and heartily recommend them to all persons of moderate incomes, in either sex, who are willing that this perishable part of them should quit the scene of its mortal activities, with as handsome circumstances as possible.

Before I quit the subject, I must guard my readers against a scandal, which they may be apt to take at the place whence these Proposals purport to be issued. From the sign of the First and the Last, they may conclude that Mr. Middleton is some publican, who, in assembling a club of this description at his house, may have a sinister end of his own, altogether foreign to the solemn purpose for which the club is pretended to be instituted. I must set them right by informing them that the issuer of these Proposals is no publican, though he hangs out a sign, but an honest superintendent of funerals, who, by the device of a Cradle and a Coffin, connecting both ends of human existence together, has most ingeniously contrived to insinuate, that the framers of these first and last receptacles of mankind divide this our life betwixt them, and that all that passes from the midwife to the undertaker may, in strict propriety, go for nothing: an awful and instructive lesson to human vanity.

Looking over some papers lately that fell into my hands by chance, and appear to have been written about the beginning of the last century, I stumbled, among the rest, upon the following short Essay, which the writer calls "The character of an Undertaker." It is written with some stiffness and peculiarities of style, but some parts of it, I think, not unaptly characterise the profession to which Mr. Middleton has the honour to belong. The writer doubtless had in his mind the entertaining character of Sable, in Steele's excellent comedy of the Funeral.

Character of an Undertaker

"He is master of the ceremonies at burials and mourning assemblies, grand marshal at funeral processions, the only[Pg 111] true yeoman of the body, over which he exercises a dictatorial authority from the moment that the breath has taken leave to that of its final commitment to the earth. His ministry begins where the physician's, the lawyer's, and the divine's, end. Or if some part of the functions of the latter run parallel with his, it is only in ordine ad spiritualia. His temporalities remain unquestioned. He is arbitrator of all questions of honour which may concern the defunct; and upon slight inspection will pronounce how long he may remain in this upper world with credit to himself, and when it will be prudent for his reputation that he should retire. His determination in these points is peremptory and without appeal. Yet, with a modesty peculiar to his profession, he meddles not out of his own sphere. With the good or bad actions of the deceased in his life-time he has nothing to do. He leaves the friends of the dead man to form their own conjectures as to the place to which the departed spirit is gone. His care is only about the exuviæ. He concerns not himself even about the body, as it is a structure of parts internal, and a wonderful microcosm. He leaves such curious speculations to the anatomy professor. Or, if any thing, he is averse to such wanton enquiries, as delighting rather that the parts which he has care of should be returned to their kindred dust in as handsome and unmutilated condition as possible; that the grave should have its full and unimpaired tribute,—a complete and just carcass. Nor is he only careful to provide for the body's entireness, but for its accommodation and ornament. He orders the fashion of its clothes, and designs the symmetry of its dwelling. Its vanity has an innocent survival in him. He is bed-maker to the dead. The pillows which he lays never rumple. The day of interment is the theatre in which he displays the mysteries of his art. It is hard to describe what he is, or rather to tell what he is not, on that day: for, being neither kinsman, servant, nor friend, he is all in turns; a transcendent, running through all those relations. His office is to supply the place of self-agency in the family, who are presumed incapable of it through grief. He is eyes, and ears, and hands, to the whole household. A draught of wine cannot go round to the mourners, but he must minister it. A chair may hardly be restored to its place by a less solemn hand than his. He takes upon himself all functions, and is a sort of ephemeral major-domo![Pg 112] He distributes his attentions among the company assembled according to the degree of affliction, which he calculates from the degree of kin to the deceased; and marshals them accordingly in the procession. He himself is of a sad and tristful countenance; yet such as (if well examined) is not without some show of patience and resignation at bottom: prefiguring, as it were, to the friends of the deceased, what their grief shall be when the hand of Time shall have softened and taken down the bitterness of their first anguish; so handsomely can he fore-shape and anticipate the work of Time. Lastly, with his wand, as with another divining rod, he calculates the depth of earth at which the bones of the dead man may rest, which he ordinarily contrives may be at such a distance from the surface of this earth, as may frustrate the profane attempts of such as would violate his repose, yet sufficiently on this side the centre to give his friends hopes of an easy and practicable resurrection. And here we leave him, casting in dust to dust, which is the last friendly office that he undertakes to do."

Begging your pardon for detaining you so long among "graves, and worms, and epitaphs,"

I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,


(1811. Text of 1818)

Taking a turn the other day in the Abbey, I was struck with the affected attitude of a figure, which I do not remember to have seen before, and which upon examination proved to be a whole-length of the celebrated Mr. Garrick. Though I would not go so far with some good catholics abroad as to shut players altogether out of consecrated[Pg 113] ground, yet I own I was not a little scandalized at the introduction of theatrical airs and gestures into a place set apart to remind us of the saddest realities. Going nearer, I found inscribed under this harlequin figure the following lines:—

To paint fair Nature, by divine command,
Her magic pencil in his glowing hand,
A Shakspeare rose: then to expand his fame
Wide o'er this breathing world, a Garrick came.
Though sunk in death the forms the Poet drew,
The Actor's genius bade them breathe anew;
Though, like the bard himself, in night they lay,
Immortal Garrick call'd them back to day:
And till Eternity with power sublime,
Shall mark the mortal hour of hoary Time,
Shakspeare and Garrick like twin stars shall shine,
And earth irradiate with a beam divine.

It would be an insult to my readers' understandings to attempt any thing like a criticism on this farrago of false thoughts and nonsense. But the reflection it led me into was a kind of wonder, how, from the days of the actor here celebrated to our own, it should have been the fashion to compliment every performer in his turn, that has had the luck to please the town in any of the great characters of Shakspeare, with the notion of possessing a mind congenial with the poet's: how people should come thus unaccountably to confound the power of originating poetical images and conceptions with the faculty of being able to read or recite the same when put into words;[14] or what connection that absolute mastery over the heart and soul of man, which a great dramatic poet possesses, has with those low tricks upon the eye and ear, which a player by observing a few general effects, which some common passion, as grief, anger, &c. usually has upon the gestures and exterior, can so easily compass. To know the internal workings and movements of a great mind, of an Othello or a Hamlet for instance, the when and the why and the how far they should be moved;[Pg 114] to what pitch a passion is becoming; to give the reins and to pull in the curb exactly at the moment when the drawing in or the slackening is most graceful; seems to demand a reach of intellect of a vastly different extent from that which is employed upon the bare imitation of the signs of these passions in the countenance or gesture, which signs are usually observed to be most lively and emphatic in the weaker sort of minds, and which signs can after all but indicate some passion, as I said before, anger, or grief, generally; but of the motives and grounds of the passion, wherein it differs from the same passion in low and vulgar natures, of these the actor can give no more idea by his face or gesture than the eye (without a metaphor) can speak, or the muscles utter intelligible sounds. But such is the instantaneous nature of the impressions which we take in at the eye and ear at a playhouse, compared with the slow apprehension oftentimes of the understanding in reading, that we are apt not only to sink the play-writer in the consideration which we pay to the actor, but even to identify in our minds in a perverse manner, the actor with the character which he represents. It is difficult for a frequent playgoer to disembarrass the idea of Hamlet from the person and voice of Mr. K. We speak of Lady Macbeth, while we are in reality thinking of Mrs. S. Nor is this confusion incidental alone to unlettered persons, who, not possessing the advantage of reading, are necessarily dependent upon the stage-player for all the pleasure which they can receive from the drama, and to whom the very idea of what an author is cannot be made comprehensible without some pain and perplexity of mind: the error is one from which persons otherwise not meanly lettered, find it almost impossible to extricate themselves.

[14] It is observable that we fall into this confusion only in dramatic recitations. We never dream that the gentleman who reads Lucretius in public with great applause, is therefore a great poet and philosopher; nor do we find that Tom Davies, the bookseller, who is recorded to have recited the Paradise Lost better than any man in England in his day (though I cannot help thinking there must be some mistake in this tradition) was therefore, by his intimate friends, set upon a level with Milton.

Never let me be so ungrateful as to forget the very high degree of satisfaction which I received some years back from seeing for the first time a tragedy of Shakspeare performed, in which these two great performers sustained the principal parts. It seemed to embody and realize conceptions which had hitherto assumed no distinct shape. But dearly do we pay all our life after for this juvenile pleasure, this sense of distinctness. When the novelty is past, we find to our cost that instead of realizing an idea, we have only materialized and brought down a fine vision to the[Pg 115] standard of flesh and blood. We have let go a dream, in quest of an unattainable substance.

How cruelly this operates upon the mind, to have its free conceptions thus crampt and pressed down to the measure of a strait-lacing actuality, may be judged from that delightful sensation of freshness, with which we turn to those plays of Shakspeare which have escaped being performed, and to those passages in the acting plays of the same writer which have happily been left out in performance. How far the very custom of hearing any thing spouted, withers and blows upon a fine passage, may be seen in those speeches from Henry the Fifth, &c. which are current in the mouths of school-boys from their being to be found in Enfield Speakers, and such kind of books. I confess myself utterly unable to appreciate that celebrated soliloquy in Hamlet, beginning "To be or not to be," or to tell whether it be good, bad, or indifferent, it has been so handled and pawed about by declamatory boys and men, and torn so inhumanly from its living place and principle of continuity in the play, till it is become to me a perfect dead member.

It may seem a paradox, but I cannot help being of opinion that the plays of Shakspeare are less calculated for performance on a stage, than those of almost any other dramatist whatever. Their distinguished excellence is a reason that they should be so. There is so much in them, which comes not under the province of acting, with which eye, and tone, and gesture, have nothing to do.

The glory of the scenic art is to personate passion, and the turns of passion; and the more coarse and palpable the passion is, the more hold upon the eyes and ears of the spectators the performer obviously possesses. For this reason, scolding scenes, scenes where two persons talk themselves into a fit of fury, and then in a surprising manner talk themselves out of it again, have always been the most popular upon our stage. And the reason is plain, because the spectators are here most palpably appealed to, they are the proper judges in this war of words, they are the legitimate ring that should be formed round such "intellectual prize-fighters." Talking is the direct object of the imitation here. But in all the best dramas, and in Shakspeare above all, how obvious it is, that the form of speaking, whether it be in soliloquy or dialogue, is only a medium, and often a highly artificial one, for putting the[Pg 116] reader or spectator into possession of that knowledge of the inner structure and workings of mind in a character, which he could otherwise never have arrived at in that form of composition by any gift short of intuition. We do here as we do with novels written in the epistolary form. How many improprieties, perfect solecisms in letter-writing, do we put up with in Clarissa and other books, for the sake of the delight which that form upon the whole gives us.

But the practice of stage representation reduces every thing to a controversy of elocution. Every character, from the boisterous blasphemings of Bajazet to the shrinking timidity of womanhood, must play the orator. The love-dialogues of Romeo and Juliet, those silver-sweet sounds of lovers' tongues by night; the more intimate and sacred sweetness of nuptial colloquy between an Othello or a Posthumus with their married wives, all those delicacies which are so delightful in the reading, as when we read of those youthful dalliances in Paradise—

As beseem'd
Fair couple link'd in happy nuptial league,

by the inherent fault of stage representation, how are these things sullied and turned from their very nature by being exposed to a large assembly; when such speeches as Imogen addresses to her lord, come drawling out of the mouth of a hired actress, whose courtship, though nominally addressed to the personated Posthumus, is manifestly aimed at the spectators, who are to judge of her endearments and her returns of love.

The character of Hamlet is perhaps that by which, since the days of Betterton, a succession of popular performers have had the greatest ambition to distinguish themselves. The length of the part may be one of their reasons. But for the character itself, we find it in a play, and therefore we judge it a fit subject of dramatic representation. The play itself abounds in maxims and reflexions beyond any other, and therefore we consider it as a proper vehicle for conveying moral instruction. But Hamlet himself—what does he suffer meanwhile by being dragged forth as a public schoolmaster, to give lectures to the crowd! Why, nine parts in ten of what Hamlet does, are transactions between himself and his moral sense, they are the effusions of his solitary musings,[Pg 117] which he retires to holes and corners and the most sequestered parts of the palace to pour forth; or rather, they are the silent meditations with which his bosom is bursting, reduced to words for the sake of the reader, who must else remain ignorant of what is passing there. These profound sorrows, these light-and-noise-abhorring ruminations, which the tongue scarce dares utter to deaf walls and chambers, how can they be represented by a gesticulating actor, who comes and mouths them out before an audience, making four hundred people his confidants at once? I say not that it is the fault of the actors so to do; he must pronounce them ore rotundo, he must accompany them with his eye, he must insinuate them into his auditory by some trick of eye, tone, or gesture, or he fails. He must be thinking all the while of his appearance, because he knows that all the while the spectators are judging of it. And this is the way to represent the shy, negligent, retiring Hamlet.

It is true that there is no other mode of conveying a vast quantity of thought and feeling to a great portion of the audience, who otherwise would never earn it for themselves by reading, and the intellectual acquisition gained this way may, for aught I know, be inestimable; but I am not arguing that Hamlet should not be acted, but how much Hamlet is made another thing by being acted. I have heard much of the wonders which Garrick performed in this part; but as I never saw him, I must have leave to doubt whether the representation of such a character came within the province of his art. Those who tell me of him, speak of his eye, of the magic of his eye, and of his commanding voice: physical properties, vastly desirable in an actor, and without which he can never insinuate meaning into an auditory,—but what have they to do with Hamlet? what have they to do with intellect? In fact, the things aimed at in theatrical representation, are to arrest the spectator's eye upon the form and the gesture, and so to gain a more favourable hearing to what is spoken: it is not what the character is, but how he looks; not what he says, but how he speaks it. I see no reason to think that if the play of Hamlet were written over again by some such writer as Banks or Lillo, retaining the process of the story, but totally omitting all the poetry of it, all the divine features of Shakspeare, his stupendous intellect; and only taking care to give us enough of passionate dialogue, which Banks or[Pg 118] Lillo were never at a loss to furnish; I see not how the effect could be much different upon an audience, nor how the actor has it in his power to represent Shakspeare to us differently from his representation of Banks or Lillo. Hamlet would still be a youthful accomplished prince, and must be gracefully personated; he might be puzzled in his mind, wavering in his conduct, seemingly-cruel to Ophelia, he might see a ghost, and start at it, and address it kindly when he found it to be his father; all this in the poorest and most homely language of the servilest creeper after nature that ever consulted the palate of an audience; without troubling Shakspeare for the matter: and I see not but there would be room for all the power which an actor has, to display itself. All the passions and changes of passion might remain: for those are much less difficult to write or act than is thought, it is a trick easy to be attained, it is but rising or falling a note or two in the voice, a whisper with a significant foreboding look to announce its approach, and so contagious the counterfeit appearance of any emotion is, that let the words be what they will, the look and tone shall carry it off and make it pass for deep skill in the passions.

It is common for people to talk of Shakspeare's plays being so natural; that every body can understand him. They are natural indeed, they are grounded deep in nature, so deep that the depth of them lies out of the reach of most of us. You shall hear the same persons say that George Barnwell is very natural, and Othello is very natural, that they are both very deep; and to them they are the same kind of thing. At the one they sit and shed tears, because a good sort of young man is tempted by a naughty woman to commit a trifling peccadillo, the murder of an uncle or so,[15] that is all, and so comes[Pg 119] to an untimely end, which is so moving; and at the other, because a blackamoor in a fit of jealousy kills his innocent white wife: and the odds are that ninety-nine out of a hundred would willingly behold the same catastrophe happen to both the heroes, and have thought the rope more due to Othello than to Barnwell. For of the texture of Othello's mind, the inward construction marvellously laid open with all its strengths and weaknesses, its heroic confidences and its human misgivings, its agonies of hate springing from the depths of love, they see no more than the spectators at a cheaper rate, who pay their pennies a-piece to look through the man's telescope in Leicester-fields, see into the inward plot and topography of the moon. Some dim thing or other they see, they see an actor personating a passion, of grief, or anger, for instance, and they recognize it as a copy of the usual external effects of such passions; or at least as being true to that symbol of the emotion which passes current at the theatre for it, for it is often no more than that: but of the grounds of the passion, its correspondence to a great or heroic nature, which is the only worthy object of tragedy,—that common auditors know any thing of this, or can have any such notions dinned into them by the mere strength of an actor's lungs,—that apprehensions foreign to them should be thus infused into them by storm, I can neither believe, nor understand how it can be possible.

[15] If this note could hope to meet the eye of any of the Managers, I would entreat and beg of them, in the name of both the Galleries, that this insult upon the morality of the common people of London should cease to be eternally repeated in the holiday weeks. Why are the 'Prentices of this famous and well-governed city, instead of an amusement, to be treated over and over again with the nauseous sermon of George Barnwell? Why at the end of their vistoes [vistas] are we to place the gallows? Were I an uncle, I should not much like a nephew of mine to have such an example placed before his eyes. It is really making uncle-murder too trivial to exhibit it as done upon such slight motives;—it is attributing too much to such characters as Millwood;—it is putting things into the heads of good young men, which they would never otherwise have dreamed of. Uncles that think any thing of their lives, should fairly petition the Chamberlain against it.

We talk of Shakspeare's admirable observation of life, when we should feel, that not from a petty inquisition into those cheap and every-day characters which surrounded him, as they surround us, but from his own mind, which was, to borrow a phrase of Ben Jonson's, the very "sphere of humanity," he fetched those images of virtue and of knowledge, of which every one of us recognizing a part, think we comprehend in our natures the whole; and oftentimes mistake the powers which he positively creates in us, for nothing more than indigenous faculties of our own minds, which only waited the application of corresponding virtues in him to return a full and clear echo of the same.

To return to Hamlet.—Among the distinguishing features of that wonderful character, one of the most interesting (yet painful) is that soreness of mind which makes him treat the intrusions of Polonius with harshness, and that asperity which he puts on in his interviews with Ophelia. These[Pg 120] tokens of an unhinged mind (if they be not mixed in the latter case with a profound artifice of love, to alienate Ophelia by affected discourtesies, so to prepare her mind for the breaking off of that loving intercourse, which can no longer find a place amidst business so serious as that which he has to do) are parts of his character, which to reconcile with our admiration of Hamlet, the most patient consideration of his situation is no more than necessary; they are what we forgive afterwards, and explain by the whole of his character, but at the time they are harsh and unpleasant. Yet such is the actor's necessity of giving strong blows to the audience, that I have never seen a player in this character, who did not exaggerate and strain to the utmost these ambiguous features,—these temporary deformities in the character. They make him express a vulgar scorn at Polonius which utterly degrades his gentility, and which no explanation can render palateable; they make him shew contempt, and curl up the nose at Ophelia's father,—contempt in its very grossest and most hateful form; but they get applause by it: it is natural, people say; that is, the words are scornful, and the actor expresses scorn, and that they can judge of: but why so much scorn, and of that sort, they never think of asking.

So to Ophelia.—All the Hamlets that I have ever seen, rant and rave at her as if she had committed some great crime, and the audience are highly pleased, because the words of the part are satirical, and they are enforced by the strongest expression of satirical indignation of which the face and voice are capable. But then, whether Hamlet is likely to have put on such brutal appearances to a lady whom he loved so dearly, is never thought on. The truth is, that in all such deep affections as had subsisted between Hamlet and Ophelia, there is a stock of supererogatory love, (if I may venture to use the expression) which in any great grief of heart, especially where that which preys upon the mind cannot be communicated, confers a kind of indulgence upon the grieved party to express itself, even to its heart's dearest object, in the language of a temporary alienation; but it is not alienation, it is a distraction purely, and so it always makes itself to be felt by that object: it is not anger, but grief assuming the appearance of anger,—love awkwardly counterfeiting hate, as sweet countenances when they try to frown: but[Pg 121] such sternness and fierce disgust as Hamlet is made to shew, is no counterfeit, but the real face of absolute aversion,—of irreconcileable alienation. It may be said he puts on the madman; but then he should only so far put on this counterfeit lunacy as his own real distraction will give him leave; that is, incompletely, imperfectly; not in that confirmed, practised way, like a master of his art, or, as Dame Quickly would say, "like one of those harlotry players."

I mean no disrespect to any actor, but the sort of pleasure which Shakspeare's plays give in the acting seems to me not at all to differ from that which the audience receive from those of other writers; and, they being in themselves essentially so different from all others, I must conclude that there is something in the nature of acting which levels all distinctions. And in fact, who does not speak indifferently of the Gamester and of Macbeth as fine stage performances, and praise the Mrs. Beverley in the same way as the Lady Macbeth of Mrs. S.? Belvidera, and Calista, and Isabella, and Euphrasia, are they less liked than Imogen, or than Juliet, or than Desdemona? Are they not spoken of and remembered in the same way? Is not the female performer as great (as they call it) in one as in the other? Did not Garrick shine, and was he not ambitious of shining in every drawling tragedy that his wretched day produced,—the productions of the Hills and the Murphys and the Browns,—and shall he have that honour to dwell in our minds for ever as an inseparable concomitant with Shakspeare? A kindred mind! O who can read that affecting sonnet of Shakspeare which alludes to his profession as a player:—

Oh for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public custom [manners] breeds—
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand;
And almost thence my nature is subdued
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand—

Or that other confession:—

Alas! 'tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made myself a motly to thy view,
Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear—

Who can read these instances of jealous self-watchfulness in our sweet Shakspeare, and dream of any congeniality between[Pg 122] him and one that, by every tradition of him, appears to have been as mere a player as ever existed; to have had his mind tainted with the lowest players' vices,—envy and jealousy, and miserable cravings after applause; one who in the exercise of his profession was jealous even of the women-performers that stood in his way; a manager full of managerial tricks and stratagems and finesse: that any resemblance should be dreamed of between him and Shakspeare,—Shakspeare who, in the plenitude and consciousness of his own powers, could with that noble modesty, which we can neither imitate nor appreciate, express himself thus of his own sense of his own defects:—

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possest;
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope.

I am almost disposed to deny to Garrick the merit of being an admirer of Shakspeare. A true lover of his excellencies he certainly was not; for would any true lover of them have admitted into his matchless scenes such ribald trash as Tate and Cibber, and the rest of them, that

With their darkness durst affront his light,

have foisted into the acting plays of Shakspeare? I believe it impossible that he could have had a proper reverence for Shakspeare, and have condescended to go through that interpolated scene in Richard the Third, in which Richard tries to break his wife's heart by telling her he loves another woman, and says, "if she survives this she is immortal." Yet I doubt not he delivered this vulgar stuff with as much anxiety of emphasis as any of the genuine parts; and for acting, it is as well calculated as any. But we have seen the part of Richard lately produce great fame to an actor by his manner of playing it, and it lets us into the secret of acting, and of popular judgments of Shakspeare derived from acting. Not one of the spectators who have witnessed Mr. C.'s exertions in that part, but has come away with a proper conviction that Richard is a very wicked man, and kills little children in their beds, with something like the pleasure which the giants and ogres in children's books are represented to have taken in that practice; moreover, that he is very close and shrewd and devilish cunning, for you could see that by his eye.

But is in fact this the impression we have in reading the[Pg 123] Richard of Shakspeare? Do we feel any thing like disgust, as we do at that butcher-like representation of him that passes for him on the stage? A horror at his crimes blends with the effect which we feel, but how is it qualified, how is it carried off, by the rich intellect which he displays, his resources, his wit, his buoyant spirits, his vast knowledge and insight into characters, the poetry of his part,—not an atom of all which is made perceivable in Mr. C.'s way of acting it. Nothing but his crimes, his actions, is visible; they are prominent and staring; the murderer stands out, but where is the lofty genius, the man of vast capacity,—the profound, the witty, accomplished Richard?

The truth is, the Characters of Shakspeare are so much the objects of meditation rather than of interest or curiosity as to their actions, that while we are reading any of his great criminal characters,—Macbeth, Richard, even Iago,—we think not so much of the crimes which they commit, as of the ambition, the aspiring spirit, the intellectual activity, which prompts them to overleap those moral fences. Barnwell is a wretched murderer; there is a certain fitness between his neck and the rope; he is the legitimate heir to the gallows; nobody who thinks at all can think of any alleviating circumstances in his case to make him a fit object of mercy. Or to take an instance from the higher tragedy, what else but a mere assassin is Glenalvon! Do we think of any thing but of the crime which he commits, and the rack which he deserves? That is all which we really think about him. Whereas in corresponding characters in Shakspeare so little do the actions comparatively affect us, that while the impulses, the inner mind in all its perverted greatness, solely seems real and is exclusively attended to, the crime is comparatively nothing. But when we see these things represented, the acts which they do are comparatively every thing, their impulses nothing. The state of sublime emotion into which we are elevated by those images of night and horror which Macbeth is made to utter, that solemn prelude with which he entertains the time till the bell shall strike which is to call him to murder Duncan,—when we no longer read it in a book, when we have given up that vantage-ground of abstraction which reading possesses over seeing, and come to see a man in his bodily shape before our eyes actually preparing to commit a murder, if the acting be true and impressive, as I[Pg 124] have witnessed it in Mr. K.'s performance of that part, the painful anxiety about the act, the natural longing to prevent it while it yet seems unperpetrated, the too close pressing semblance of reality, give a pain and an uneasiness which totally destroy all the delight which the words in the book convey, where the deed doing never presses upon us with the painful sense of presence: it rather seems to belong to history,—to something past and inevitable, if it has any thing to do with time at all. The sublime images, the poetry alone, is that which is present to our minds in the reading.

So to see Lear acted,—to see an old man tottering about the stage with a walking-stick, turned out of doors by his daughters in a rainy night, has nothing in it but what is painful and disgusting. We want to take him into shelter and relieve him. That is all the feeling which the acting of Lear ever produced in me. But the Lear of Shakspeare cannot be acted. The contemptible machinery by which they mimic the storm which he goes out in, is not more inadequate to represent the horrors of the real elements, than any actor can be to represent Lear: they might more easily propose to personate the Satan of Milton upon a stage, or one of Michael Angelo's terrible figures. The greatness of Lear is not in corporal dimension, but in intellectual: the explosions of his passion are terrible as a volcano: they are storms turning up and disclosing to the bottom that sea, his mind, with all its vast riches. It is his mind which is laid bare. This case of flesh and blood seems too insignificant to be thought on; even as he himself neglects it. On the stage we see nothing but corporal infirmities and weakness, the impotence of rage; while we read it, we see not Lear, but we are Lear,—we are in his mind, we are sustained by a grandeur which baffles the malice of daughters and storms; in the aberrations of his reason, we discover a mighty irregular power of reasoning, immethodized from the ordinary purposes of life, but exerting its powers, as the wind blows where it listeth, at will upon the corruptions and abuses of mankind. What have looks, or tones, to do with that sublime identification of his age with that of the heavens themselves, when in his reproaches to them for conniving at the injustice of his children, he reminds them that "they themselves are old." What gesture shall we appropriate to this? What has the voice or the eye to do with such things? But the play is beyond all art, as the[Pg 125] tamperings with it shew: it is too hard and stony; it must have love-scenes, and a happy ending. It is not enough that Cordelia is a daughter, she must shine as a lover too. Tate has put his hook in the nostrils of this Leviathan, for Garrick and his followers, the showmen of the scene, to draw the mighty beast about more easily. A happy ending!—as if the living martyrdom that Lear had gone through,—the flaying of his feelings alive, did not make a fair dismissal from the stage of life the only decorous thing for him. If he is to live and be happy after, if he could sustain this world's burden after, why all this pudder and preparation,—why torment us with all this unnecessary sympathy? As if the childish pleasure of getting his gilt robes and sceptre again could tempt him to act over again his misused station,—as if at his years, and with his experience, any thing was left but to die.

Lear is essentially impossible to be represented on a stage. But how many dramatic personages are there in Shakspeare, which though more tractable and feasible (if I may so speak) than Lear, yet from some circumstance, some adjunct to their character, are improper to be shewn to our bodily eye. Othello for instance. Nothing can be more soothing, more flattering to the nobler parts of our natures, than to read of a young Venetian lady of highest extraction, through the force of love and from a sense of merit in him whom she loved, laying aside every consideration of kindred, and country, and colour, and wedding with a coal-black Moor—(for such he is represented, in the imperfect state of knowledge respecting foreign countries in those days, compared with our own, or in compliance with popular notions, though the Moors are now well enough known to be by many shades less unworthy of a white woman's fancy)—it is the perfect triumph of virtue over accidents, of the imagination over the senses. She sees Othello's colour in his mind. But upon the stage, when the imagination is no longer the ruling faculty, but we are left to our poor unassisted senses, I appeal to every one that has seen Othello played, whether he did not, on the contrary, sink Othello's mind in his colour; whether he did not find something extremely revolting in the courtship and wedded caresses of Othello and Desdemona; and whether the actual sight of the thing did not over-weigh all that beautiful compromise which we make in reading;—and the reason[Pg 126] it should do so is obvious, because there is just so much reality presented to our senses as to give a perception of disagreement, with not enough of belief in the internal motives,—all that which is unseen,—to overpower and reconcile the first and obvious prejudices.[16] What we see upon a stage is body and bodily action; what we are conscious of in reading is almost exclusively the mind, and its movements: and this I think may sufficiently account for the very different sort of delight with which the same play so often affects us in the reading and the seeing.

[16] The error of supposing that because Othello's colour does not offend us in the reading, it should also not offend us in the seeing, is just such a fallacy as supposing that an Adam and Eve in a picture shall affect us just as they do in the poem. But in the poem we for a while have Paradisaical senses given us, which vanish when we see a man and his wife without clothes in the picture. The painters themselves feel this, as is apparent by the aukward shifts they have recourse to, to make them look not quite naked; by a sort of prophetic anachronism, antedating the invention of fig-leaves. So in the reading of the play, we see with Desdemona's eyes; in the seeing of it, we are forced to look with our own.

It requires little reflection to perceive, that if those characters in Shakspeare which are within the precincts of nature, have yet something in them which appeals too exclusively to the imagination, to admit of their being made objects to the senses without suffering a change and a diminution,—that still stronger the objection must lie against representing another line of characters, which Shakspeare has introduced to give a wildness and a supernatural elevation to his scenes, as if to remove them still farther from that assimilation to common life in which their excellence is vulgarly supposed to consist. When we read the incantations of those terrible beings the Witches in Macbeth, though some of the ingredients of their hellish composition savour of the grotesque, yet is the effect upon us other than the most serious and appalling that can be imagined? Do we not feel spell-bound as Macbeth was? Can any mirth accompany a sense of their presence? We might as well laugh under a consciousness of the principle of Evil himself being truly and really present with us. But attempt to bring these beings on to a stage, and you turn them instantly into so many old women, that men and children are to laugh at. Contrary to the old saying, that "seeing is believing," the sight actually destroys the faith; and the mirth in which we indulge at[Pg 127] their expense, when we see these creatures upon a stage, seems to be a sort of indemnification which we make to ourselves for the terror which they put us in when reading made them an object of belief,—when we surrendered up our reason to the poet, as children to their nurses and their elders; and we laugh at our fears, as children who thought they saw something in the dark, triumph when the bringing in of a candle discovers the vanity of their fears. For this exposure of supernatural agents upon a stage is truly bringing in a candle to expose their own delusiveness. It is the solitary taper and the book that generates a faith in these terrors: a ghost by chandelier light, and in good company, deceives no spectators,—a ghost that can be measured by the eye, and his human dimensions made out at leisure. The sight of a well-lighted house, and a well-dressed audience, shall arm the most nervous child against any apprehensions: as Tom Brown says of the impenetrable skin of Achilles with his impenetrable armour over it, "Bully Dawson would have fought the devil with such advantages."

Much has been said, and deservedly, in reprobation of the vile mixture which Dryden has thrown into the Tempest: doubtless without some such vicious alloy, the impure ears of that age would never have sate out to hear so much innocence of love as is contained in the sweet courtship of Ferdinand and Miranda. But is the Tempest of Shakspeare at all a subject for stage representation? It is one thing to read of an enchanter, and to believe the wondrous tale while we are reading it; but to have a conjuror brought before us in his conjuring-gown, with his spirits about him, which none but himself and some hundred of favoured spectators before the curtain are supposed to see, involves such a quantity of the hateful incredible, that all our reverence for the author cannot hinder us from perceiving such gross attempts upon the senses to be in the highest degree childish and inefficient. Spirits and fairies cannot be represented, they cannot even be painted,—they can only be believed. But the elaborate and anxious provision of scenery, which the luxury of the age demands, in these cases works a quite contrary effect to what is intended. That which in comedy, or plays of familiar life, adds so much to the life of the imitation, in plays which appeal to the higher faculties, positively destroys the illusion which it is introduced to aid. A parlour or a[Pg 128] drawing-room,—a library opening into a garden,—a garden with an alcove in it,—a street, or the piazza of Covent-garden, does well enough in a scene; we are content to give as much credit to it as it demands; or rather, we think little about it,—it is little more than reading at the top of a page, "Scene, a Garden;" we do not imagine ourselves there, but we readily admit the imitation of familiar objects. But to think by the help of painted trees and caverns, which we know to be painted, to transport our minds to Prospero, and his island and his lonely cell[17]; or by the aid of a fiddle dexterously thrown in, in an interval of speaking, to make us believe that we hear those supernatural noises of which the isle was full:—the Orrery Lecturer at the Haymarket might as well hope, by his musical glasses cleverly stationed out of sight behind his apparatus, to make us believe that we do indeed hear the chrystal spheres ring out that chime, which if it were to inwrap our fancy long, Milton thinks,

Time would run back and fetch the age of gold,
And speckled vanity
Would sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin would melt from earthly mould;
Yea Hell itself would pass away,
And leave its dolorous mansions to the peering day.

[17] It will be said these things are done in pictures. But pictures and scenes are very different things. Painting is a world of itself, but in scene-painting there is the attempt to deceive; and there is the discordancy, never to be got over, between painted scenes and real people.

The Garden of Eden, with our first parents in it, is not more impossible to be shewn on a stage, than the Enchanted Isle, with its no less interesting and innocent first settlers.

The subject of Scenery is closely connected with that of the Dresses, which are so anxiously attended to on our stage. I remember the last time I saw Macbeth played, the discrepancy I felt at the changes of garment which he varied,—the shiftings and re-shiftings, like a Romish priest at mass. The luxury of stage-improvements, and the importunity of the public eye, require this. The coronation robe of the Scottish monarch was fairly a counterpart to that which our King wears when he goes to the Parliament-house,—just so full and cumbersome, and set out with ermine and pearls. And if things must be represented, I see not what to find fault with in this. But in reading, what robe are we con[Pg 129]scious of? Some dim images of royalty—a crown and sceptre, may float before our eyes, but who shall describe the fashion of it? Do we see in our mind's eye that Webb or any other robe-maker could pattern? This is the inevitable consequence of imitating every thing, to make all things natural. Whereas the reading of a tragedy is a fine abstraction. It presents to the fancy just so much of external appearances as to make us feel that we are among flesh and blood, while by far the greater and better part of our imagination is employed upon the thoughts and internal machinery of the character. But in acting, scenery, dress, the most contemptible things, call upon us to judge of their naturalness.

Perhaps it would be no bad similitude, to liken the pleasure which we take in seeing one of these fine plays acted, compared with that quiet delight which we find in the reading of it, to the different feelings with which a reviewer, and a man that is not a reviewer, reads a fine poem. The accursed critical habit,—the being called upon to judge and pronounce, must make it quite a different thing to the former. In seeing these plays acted, we are affected just as judges. When Hamlet compares the two pictures of Gertrude's first and second husband, who wants to see the pictures? But in the acting, a miniature must be lugged out; which we know not to be the picture, but only to shew how finely a miniature may be represented. This shewing of every thing, levels all things: it makes tricks, bows, and curtesies, of importance. Mrs. S. never got more fame by any thing than by the manner in which she dismisses the guests in the banquet-scene in Macbeth: it is as much remembered as any of her thrilling tones or impressive looks. But does such a trifle as this enter into the imaginations of the readers of that wild and wonderful scene? Does not the mind dismiss the feasters as rapidly as it can? Does it care about the gracefulness of the doing it? But by acting, and judging of acting, all these non-essentials are raised into an importance, injurious to the main interest of the play.

I have confined my observations to the tragic parts of Shakspeare. It would be no very difficult task to extend the enquiry to his comedies; and to shew why Falstaff, Shallow, Sir Hugh Evans, and the rest, are equally incompatible with stage representation. The length to which this[Pg 130] Essay has run, will make it, I am afraid, sufficiently distasteful to the Amateurs of the Theatre, without going any deeper into the subject at present.


(1811. Text of 1818)

The writings of Fuller are usually designated by the title of quaint, and with sufficient reason; for such was his natural bias to conceits, that I doubt not upon most occasions it would have been going out of his way to have expressed himself out of them. But his wit is not always a lumen siccum, a dry faculty of surprising; on the contrary, his conceits are oftentimes deeply steeped in human feeling and passion. Above all, his way of telling a story, for its eager liveliness, and the perpetual running commentary of the narrator happily blended with the narration, is perhaps unequalled.

As his works are now scarcely perused but by antiquaries, I thought it might not be unacceptable to my readers to present them with some specimens of his manner, in single thoughts and phrases; and in some few passages of greater length, chiefly of a narrative description. I shall arrange them as I casually find them in my book of extracts, without being solicitous to specify the particular work from which they are taken.

Pyramids.—"The Pyramids themselves, doting with age, have forgotten the names of their founders."

Virtue in a short person.—"His soul had but a short diocese to visit, and therefore might the better attend the effectual informing thereof."

Intellect in a very tall one.—"Oft times such who are built four stories high, are observed to have little in their cock-loft."

Naturals.—"Their heads sometimes so little, that there is no room for wit; sometimes so long, that there is no wit for so much room."

[Pg 131]

Negroes.—"The image of God cut in ebony."

School-divinity.—"At the first it will be as welcome to thee as a prison, and their very solutions will seem knots unto thee."

Mr. Perkins, the Divine.—"He had a capacious head, with angles winding and roomy enough to lodge all controversial intricacies."

The same.—"He would pronounce the word Damn with such an emphasis as left a doleful echo in his auditors' ears a good while after."

Judges in capital cases.—"O let him take heed how he strikes, that hath a dead hand."

Memory.—"Philosophers place it in the rear of the head, and it seems the mine of memory lies there, because there men naturally dig for it, scratching it when they are at a loss."

Fancy.—"It is the most boundless and restless faculty of the soul; for while the Understanding and the Will are kept, as it were, in libera custodia to their objects of verum et bonum, the Fancy is free from all engagements: it digs without spade, sails without ship, flies without wings, builds without charges, fights without bloodshed; in a moment striding from the centre to the circumference of the world; by a kind of omnipotency creating and annihilating things in an instant; and things divorced in Nature are married in Fancy as in a lawless place."

Infants.—"Some, admiring what motives to mirth infants meet with in their silent and solitary smiles, have resolved, how truly I know not, that then they converse with angels; as indeed such cannot among mortals find any fitter companions."

Music.—"Such is the sociableness of music, it conforms itself to all companies both in mirth and mourning; complying to improve that passion with which it finds the auditors most affected. In a word, it is an invention which might have beseemed a son of Seth to have been the father thereof: though better it was that Cain's great grandchild should have the credit first to find it, than the world the unhappiness longer to have wanted it."

St. Monica.—"Drawing near her death, she sent most pious thoughts as harbingers to heaven, and her soul saw a glimpse of happiness through the chinks of her sickness-broken body."[18]


The soul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd,
Lets in new lights through chinks which time has made.—Waller.

[Pg 132]

Mortality.—"To smell to a turf of fresh earth is wholesome for the body, no less are thoughts of mortality cordial to the soul."

Virgin.—"No lordling husband shall at the same time command her presence and distance; to be always near in constant attendance, and always to stand aloof in awful observance."

Elder Brother.—"Is one who made haste to come into the world to bring his parents the first news of male posterity, and is well rewarded for his tidings."

Bishop Fletcher.—"His pride was rather on him than in him, as only gait and gesture deep, not sinking to his heart, though causelessly condemned for a proud man, as who was a good hypocrite, and far more humble than he appeared."

Masters of Colleges.—"A little alloy of dulness in a Master of a College makes him fitter to manage secular affairs."

The Good Yeoman.—"Is a gentleman in ore, whom the next age may see refined."

Good Parent.—"For his love, therein, like a well drawn picture, he eyes all his children alike."

Deformity in Children.—"This partiality is tyranny, when parents despise those that are deformed; enough to break those whom God had bowed before."

Good Master.—"In correcting his servant he becomes not a slave to his own passion. Not cruelly making new indentures of the flesh of his apprentice. He is tender of his servant in sickness and age. If crippled in his service, his house is his hospital. Yet how many throw away those dry bones, out of the which themselves have sucked the marrow!"

Good Widow.—"If she can speak but little good of him [her dead husband] she speaks but little of him. So handsomely folding up her discourse, that his virtues are shewn outwards, and his vices wrapped up in silence; as counting it barbarism to throw dirt on his memory who hath moulds cast on his body."

Horses.—"These are men's wings, wherewith they make such speed. A generous creature a horse is, sensible in some sort of honour; and made most handsome by that which deforms men most—pride."

Martyrdom.—"Heart of oak hath sometime warped a little in the scorching heat of persecution. Their want of[Pg 133] true courage herein cannot be excused. Yet many censure them for surrendering up their forts after a long siege, who would have yielded up their own at the first summons. Oh! there is more required to make one valiant, than to call Cranmer or Jewel coward; as if the fire in Smithfield had been no hotter than what is painted in the Book of Martyrs."

Text of St. Paul.—"St. Paul saith, let not the sun go down on your wrath, to carry news to the antipodes in another world of thy revengeful nature. Yet let us take the Apostle's meaning rather than his words, with all possible speed to depose our passion; not understanding him so literally, that we may take leave to be angry till sunset: then might our wrath lengthen with the days; and men in Greenland, where the day lasts above a quarter of a year, have plentiful scope for revenge."[19]

[19] This whimsical prevention of a consequence which no one would have thought of deducing,—setting up an absurdum on purpose to hunt it down,—placing guards as it were at the very outposts of possibility,—gravely giving out laws to insanity and prescribing moral fences to distempered intellects, could never have entered into a head less entertainingly constructed than that of Fuller, or Sir Thomas Browne, the very air of whose style the conclusion of this passage most aptly imitates.

Bishop Brownrig.—"He carried learning enough in numerato about him in his pockets for any discourse, and had much more at home in his chests for any serious dispute."

Modest Want.—"Those that with diligence fight against poverty, though neither conquer till death makes it a drawn battle; expect not but prevent their craving of thee: for God forbid the heavens should never rain, till the earth first opens her mouth; seeing some grounds will sooner burn than chap."

Death-bed Temptations.—"The devil is most busy on the last day of his term; and a tenant to be outed cares not what mischief he doth."

Conversation.—"Seeing we are civilized Englishmen, let us not be naked savages in our talk."

Wounded Soldier.—"Halting is the stateliest march of a soldier; and 'tis a brave sight to see the flesh of an ancient as torn as his colours."

Wat Tyler.—"A misogrammatist; if a good Greek word may be given to so barbarous a rebel."

Heralds.—"Heralds new mould men's names,—taking[Pg 134] from them, adding to them, melting out all the liquid letters, torturing mutes to make them speak, and making vowels dumb,—to bring it to a fallacious homonomy at the last, that their names may be the same with those noble houses they pretend to."

Antiquarian Diligence.—"It is most worthy observation, with what diligence he [Camden] enquired after ancient places, making hue and cry after many a city which was run away, and by certain marks and tokens pursuing to find it; as by the situation on the Roman highways, by just distance from other ancient cities, by some affinity of name, by tradition of the inhabitants, by Roman coins digged up, and by some appearance of ruins. A broken urn is a whole evidence; or an old gate still surviving, out of which the city is run out. Besides, commonly some new spruce town not far off is grown out of the ashes thereof, which yet hath so much natural affection as dutifully to own those reverend ruins for her mother."

Henry de Essex.—"He is too well known in our English Chronicles, being Baron of Raleigh, in Essex, and Hereditary Standard Bearer of England. It happened in the reign of this king [Henry II.] there was a fierce battle fought in Flintshire, at Coleshall, between the English and Welsh, wherein this Henry de Essex animum et signum simul abjecit, betwixt traitor and coward, cast away both his courage and banner together, occasioning a great overthrow of English. But he that had the baseness to do, had the boldness to deny the doing of so foul a fact; until he was challenged in combat by Robert de Momford, a knight, eye-witness thereof, and by him overcome in a duel. Whereupon his large inheritance was confiscated to the king, and he himself, partly thrust, partly going into a convent, hid his head in a cowl, under which, betwixt shame and sanctity, he blushed out the remainder of his life."[20]Worthies. Article, Bedfordshire.

[20] The fine imagination of Fuller has done what might have been pronounced impossible: it has given an interest, and a holy character, to coward infamy. Nothing can be more beautiful than the concluding account of the last days, and expiatory retirement, of poor Henry de Essex. The address with which the whole of this little story is told is most consummate: the charm of it seems to consist in a perpetual balance of antitheses not too violently opposed, and the consequent activity of mind in which the reader is kept:—"Betwixt traitor and coward"—"baseness to do, boldness to deny"—"partly thrust, partly going, into a convent"—"betwixt shame and sanctity." The reader by this artifice is taken into a kind of partnership with the writer,—his judgment is exercised in settling the preponderance,—he feels as if he were consulted as to the issue. But the modern historian flings at once the dead weight of his own judgment into the scale, and settles the matter.

[Pg 135]

Sir Edward Harwood, Knt.—"I have read of a bird, which hath a face like, and yet will prey upon, a man; who coming to the water to drink, and finding there by reflection, that he had killed one like himself, pineth away by degrees, and never afterwards enjoyeth itself.[21] Such is in some sort the condition of Sir Edward. This accident, that he had killed one in a private quarrel, put a period to his carnal mirth, and was a covering to his eyes all the days of his life. No possible provocations could afterwards tempt him to a duel; and no wonder that one's conscience loathed that whereof he had surfeited. He refused all challenges with more honour than others accepted them; it being well known, that he would set his foot as far in the face of his enemy as any man alive."—Worthies. Art. Lincolnshire.

[21] I do not know where Fuller read of this bird; but a more awful and affecting story, and moralizing of a story, in Natural History, or rather in that Fabulous Natural History, where poets and mythologists found the Phœnix and the Unicorn, and "other strange fowl," is no where extant. It is a fable which Sir Thomas Browne, if he had heard of it, would have exploded among his Vulgar Errors; but the delight which he would have taken in the discussing of its probabilities, would have shewn that the truth of the fact, though the avowed object of his search, was not so much the motive which put him upon the investigation, as those hidden affinities and poetical analogies,—those essential verities in the application of strange fable, which made him linger with such reluctant delay among the last fading lights of popular tradition; and not seldom to conjure up a superstition, that had been long extinct, from its dusty grave, to inter it himself with greater ceremonies and solemnities of burial.

Decayed Gentry.—"It happened in the reign of King James, when Henry Earl of Huntingdon was Lieutenant of Leicestershire, that a labourer's son in that county was pressed into the wars; as I take it, to go over with Count Mansfield. The old man at Leicester requested his son might be discharged, as being the only staff of his age, who by his industry maintained him and his mother. The Earl demanded his name, which the man for a long time was loth to tell (as suspecting it a fault for so poor a man to confess the truth), at last he told his name was Hastings. 'Cousin Hastings,' said the Earl, 'we cannot all be top branches of the tree, though we all spring from the same root; your son, my kinsman, shall[Pg 136] not be pressed.' So good was the meeting of modesty in a poor, with courtesy in an honourable person, and gentry I believe in both. And I have reason to believe, that some who justly own the surnames and blood of Bohuns, Mortimers, and Plantagenets (though ignorant of their own extractions), are hid in the heap of common people, where they find that under a thatched cottage, which some of their ancestors could not enjoy in a leaded castle,—contentment, with quiet and security."—Worthies. Art. Of Shire-Reeves or Shiriffes.

Tenderness of Conscience in a Tradesman.—"Thomas Curson, born in Allhallows, Lombard-street, armourer, dwelt without Bishopsgate. It happened that a stage-player borrowed a rusty musket, which had lain long leger in his shop: now though his part were comical, he therewith acted an unexpected tragedy, killing one of the standers by, the gun casually going off on the stage, which he suspected not to be charged. O the difference of divers men in the tenderness of their consciences; some are scarce touched with a wound, whilst others are wounded with a touch therein. This poor armourer was highly afflicted therewith, though done against his will, yea without his knowledge, in his absence, by another, out of mere chance. Hereupon he resolved to give all his estate to pious uses: no sooner had he gotten a round sum, but presently he posted with it in his apron to the Court of Aldermen, and was in pain till by their direction he had settled it for the relief of poor in his own and other parishes, and disposed of some hundreds of pounds accordingly, as I am credibly informed by the then churchwardens of the said parish. Thus as he conceived himself casually (though at a great distance) to have occasioned the death of one, he was the immediate and direct cause of giving a comfortable living to many."

Burning of Wickliffe's Body by Order of the Council of Constance.—"Hitherto [A.D. 1428] the corpse of John Wickliffe had quietly slept in his grave about forty-one years after his death, till his body was reduced to bones, and his bones almost to dust. For though the earth in the chancel of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where he was interred, hath not so quick a digestion with the earth of Aceldama, to consume flesh in twenty-four hours, yet such the appetite thereof, and all other English graves, to leave small reversions of a body after so many years. But now such the spleen of the[Pg 137] Council of Constance, as they not only cursed his memory as dying an obstinate heretic, but ordered that his bones (with this charitable caution,—if it may be discerned from the bodies of other faithful people) to be taken out of the ground, and thrown far off from any Christian burial. In obedience hereunto, Rich. Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln, Diocesan of Lutterworth, sent his officers (vultures with a quick sight, scent, at a dead carcase) to ungrave him. Accordingly to Lutterworth they come, Sumner, Commissary, Official, Chancellor, Proctors, Doctors, and their servants (so that the remnant of the body would not hold out a bone amongst so many hands), take what was left out of the grave, and burnt them to ashes, and cast them into Swift, a neighbouring brook, running hard by. Thus this brook has conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean; and thus the ashes of Wickliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over."[22]—Church History.

[22] The concluding period of this most lively narrative I will not call a conceit: it is one of the grandest conceptions I ever met with. One feels the ashes of Wickliffe gliding away out of the reach of the Sumners, Commissaries, Officials, Proctors, Doctors, and all the puddering rout of executioners of the impotent rage of the baffled Council: from Swift into Avon, from Avon into Severn, from Severn into the narrow seas, from the narrow seas into the main ocean, where they become the emblem of his doctrine, "dispersed all the world over." Hamlet's tracing the body of Cæsar to the clay that stops a beer-barrel, is a no less curious pursuit of "ruined mortality;" but it is in an inverse ratio to this: it degrades and saddens us, for one part of our nature at least; but this expands the whole of our nature, and gives to the body a sort of ubiquity,—a diffusion, as far as the actions of its partner can have reach or influence.

I have seen this passage smiled at, and set down as a quaint conceit of old Fuller. But what is not a conceit to those who read it in a temper different from that in which the writer composed it? The most pathetic parts of poetry to cold tempers seem and are nonsense, as divinity was to the Greeks foolishness. When Richard II., meditating on his own utter annihilation as to royalty, cries out,

"O that I were a mockery king of snow,
To melt before the sun of Bolingbroke,"

if we have been going on pace for pace with the passion before, this sudden conversion of a strong-felt metaphor into something to be actually realized in nature, like that of Jeremiah, "Oh! that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears," is strictly and strikingly natural; but come unprepared upon it, and it is a conceit; and so is a "head" turned into "waters."

[Pg 138]


(1811. Text of 1818)

To the Editor of the Reflector

Mr. Reflector,—I am going to lay before you a case of the most iniquitous persecution that ever poor devil suffered.

You must know, then, that I have been visited with a calamity ever since my birth. How shall I mention it without offending delicacy? Yet out it must. My sufferings then have all arisen from a most inordinate appetite——

Not for wealth, not for vast possessions,—then might I have hoped to find a cure in some of those precepts of philosophers or poets,—those verba et voces which Horace speaks of:

"quibus hunc lenire dolorem
Possis, et magnam morbi deponere partem;"

not for glory, not for fame, not for applause,—for against this disease, too, he tells us there are certain piacula, or, as Pope has chosen to render it,

"rhymes, which fresh and fresh applied,
Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride;"

nor yet for pleasure, properly so called: the strict and virtuous lessons which I received in early life from the best of parents,—a pious clergyman of the Church of England, now no more,—I trust have rendered me sufficiently secure on that side:——

No, Sir, for none of these things; but an appetite, in its coarsest and least metaphorical sense,—an appetite for food.

The exorbitances of my arrow-root and pap-dish days I cannot go back far enough to remember, only I have been told, that my mother's constitution not admitting of my being nursed at home, the woman who had the care of me for that purpose used to make most extravagant demands for my pretended excesses in that kind; which my parents, rather than believe any thing unpleasant of me, chose to impute to the known covetousness and mercenary disposition of that sort of people. This blindness continued on their part after[Pg 139] I was sent for home, up to the period when it was thought proper, on account of my advanced age, that I should mix with other boys more unreservedly than I had hitherto done. I was accordingly sent to boarding-school.

Here the melancholy truth became too apparent to be disguised. The prying republic of which a great school consists, soon found me out: there was no shifting the blame any longer upon other people's shoulders,—no good-natured maid to take upon herself the enormities of which I stood accused in the article of bread and butter, besides the crying sin of stolen ends of puddings, and cold pies strangely missing. The truth was but too manifest in my looks,—in the evident signs of inanition which I exhibited after the fullest meals, in spite of the double allowance which my master was privately instructed by my kind parents to give me. The sense of the ridiculous, which is but too much alive in grown persons, is tenfold more active and alert in boys. Once detected, I was the constant butt of their arrows,—the mark against which every puny leveller directed his little shaft of scorn. The very Graduses and Thesauruses were raked for phrases to pelt me with by the tiny pedants. Ventri natus,—Ventri deditus,—Vesana gula,—Escarum gurges,—Dapibus indulgens,—Non dans frœna gulæ,—Sectans lautæ fercula mensæ, resounded wheresoever I past. I lead a weary life, suffering the penalties of guilt for that which was no crime, but only following the blameless dictates of nature. The remembrance of those childish reproaches haunts me yet oftentimes in my dreams. My school-days come again, and the horror I used to feel, when in some silent corner retired from the notice of my unfeeling playfellows, I have sat to mumble the solitary slice of gingerbread allotted me by the bounty of considerate friends, and have ached at heart because I could not spare a portion of it, as I saw other boys do, to some favourite boy;—for if I know my own heart, I was never selfish,—never possessed a luxury which I did not hasten to communicate to others; but my food, alas! was none; it was an indispensable necessary; I could as soon have spared the blood in my veins, as have parted that with my companions.

Well, no one stage of suffering lasts for ever: we should grow reconciled to it at length, I suppose, if it did. The miseries of my school-days had their end; I was once more restored to the paternal dwelling. The affectionate solicitude[Pg 140] of my parents was directed to the good-natured purpose of concealing even from myself the infirmity which haunted me. I was continually told that I was growing, and the appetite I displayed was humanely represented as being nothing more than a symptom and an effect of that. I used even to be complimented upon it. But this temporary fiction could not endure above a year or two. I ceased to grow, but alas! I did not cease my demands for alimentary sustenance.

Those times are long since past, and with them have ceased to exist the fond concealment,—the indulgent blindness,—the delicate over-looking,—the compassionate fiction. I and my infirmity are left exposed and bare to the broad, unwinking eye of the world, which nothing can elude. My meals are scanned, my mouthfuls weighed in a balance: that which appetite demands, is set down to the account of gluttony,—a sin which my whole soul abhors, nay, which Nature herself has put it out of my power to commit. I am constitutionally disenabled from that vice; for how can he be guilty of excess, who never can get enough? Let them cease, then, to watch my plate; and leave off their ungracious comparisons of it to the seven baskets of fragments, and the supernaturally-replenished cup of old Baucis; and be thankful that their more phlegmatic stomachs, not their virtue, have saved them from the like reproaches. I do not see that any of them desist from eating till the holy rage of hunger, as some one calls it, is supplied. Alas! I am doomed to stop short of that continence.

What am I to do? I am by disposition inclined to conviviality, and the social meal. I am no gourmand: I require no dainties: I should despise the board of Heliogabalus, except for its long sitting. Those vivacious, long-continued meals of the latter Romans, indeed I justly envy; but the kind of fare which the Curii and Dentati put up with, I could be content with. Dentatus I have been called, among other unsavory jests. Double-meal is another name which my acquaintance have palmed upon me, for an innocent piece of policy which I put in practice for some time without being found out; which was,—going the round of my friends, beginning with the most primitive feeders among them, who take their dinner about one o'clock, and so successively dropping in upon the next and the next, till by the time I got among my more fashionable intimates, whose hour was[Pg 141] six or seven, I have nearly made up the body of a just and complete meal (as I reckon it), without taking more than one dinner (as they account of dinners) at one person's house. Since I have been found out, I endeavour to make up by a damper, as I call it, at home, before I go out. But alas! with me, increase of appetite truly grows by what it feeds on. What is peculiarly offensive to me at those dinner-parties is, the senseless custom of cheese, and the dessert afterwards. I have a rational antipathy to the former; and for fruit, and those other vain vegetable substitutes for meat (meat, the only legitimate aliment for human creatures since the flood, as I take it to be deduced from that permission, or ordinance rather, given to Noah and his descendants), I hold them in perfect contempt. Hay for horses. I remember a pretty apologue, which Mandeville tells very much to this purpose in his Fable of the Bees:—He brings in a Lion arguing with a Merchant, who had ventured to expostulate with this king of beasts upon his violent methods of feeding. The Lion thus retorts:—"Savage I am, but no Creature can be called Cruel but what either by Malice or Insensibility extinguishes his natural Pity: The Lion was born without Compassion; we follow the instinct of our Nature; the Gods have appointed us to live upon the waste and spoil of other Animals, and as long as we can meet with dead ones, we never hunt after the Living. 'Tis only Man, mischievous Man, that can make Death a sport. Nature taught your stomach to crave nothing but Vegetables."—(Under favour of the Lion, if he meant to assert this universally of mankind, it is not true. However, what he says presently is very sensible.)—"Your violent fondness to change, and greater eagerness after Novelties, have prompted you to the destruction of Animals without Justice or Necessity.... The Lion has a ferment within him, that consumes the toughest Skin and hardest Bones, as well as the Flesh of all Animals without exception: Your squeamish Stomach, in which the Digestive Heat is weak and inconsiderable, won't so much as admit of the most tender Parts of them, unless above half the Concoction has been performed by artificial Fire beforehand; and yet what Animal have you spared, to satisfy the Caprices of a languid Appetite? Languid I say; for what is Man's Hunger if compared to the Lion's? Yours, when it is at the worst, makes you[Pg 142] Faint; mine makes me Mad: Oft have I tried with Roots and Herbs to allay the violence of it, but in vain; nothing but large quantities of Flesh can any ways appease it."—Allowing for the Lion not having a prophetic instinct to take in every lusus naturæ that was possible of the human appetite, he was, generally speaking, in the right; and the Merchant was so impressed with his argument that, we are told, he replied not, but fainted away. O, Mr. Reflector, that I were not obliged to add, that the creature who thus argues was but a type of me! Miserable man! I am that Lion. "Oft have I tried with roots and herbs to allay that violence, but in vain; nothing but——."

Those tales which are renewed as often as the editors of papers want to fill up a space in their unfeeling columns, of great eaters,—people that devour whole geese and legs of mutton for wagers, are sometimes attempted to be drawn to a parallel with my case. This wilful confounding of motives and circumstances, which make all the difference of moral or immoral in actions, just suits the sort of talent which some of my acquaintance pride themselves upon. Wagers!—I thank heaven, I was never mercenary, nor could consent to prostitute a gift (though but a left-handed one) of nature, to the enlarging of my worldly substance; prudent as the necessities, which that fatal gift have involved me in, might have made such a prostitution to appear in the eyes of an indelicate world.

Rather let me say, that to the satisfaction of that talent which was given me, I have been content to sacrifice no common expectations; for such I had from an old lady, a near relation of our family, in whose good graces I had the fortune to stand, till one fatal evening——. You have seen, Mr. Reflector, if you have ever passed your time much in country towns, the kind of suppers which elderly ladies in those places have lying in petto in an adjoining parlour, next to that where they are entertaining their periodically-invited coevals with cards and muffins. The cloth is usually spread some half-hour before the final rubber is decided, whence they adjourn to sup upon what may emphatically be called nothing. A sliver of ham, purposely contrived to be transparent to shew the china-dish through it, neighbouring a slip of invisible brawn, which abuts upon something they call a tartlet, as that is bravely supported by an atom[Pg 143] of marmalade, flanked in its turn by a grain of potted beef, with a power of such dishlings, minims of hospitality, spread in defiance of human nature, or rather with an utter ignorance of what it demands. Being engaged at one of these card-parties, I was obliged to go a little before supper-time (as they facetiously call the point of time in which they are taking these shadowy refections), and the old lady, with a sort of fear shining through the smile of courteous hospitality that beamed in her countenance, begged me to step into the next room and take something before I went out in the cold,—a proposal which lay not in my nature to deny. Indignant at the airy prospect I saw before me, I set to, and in a trice dispatched the whole meal intended for eleven persons,—fish, flesh, fowl, pastry,—to the sprigs of garnishing parsley, and the last fearful custard that quaked upon the board. I need not describe the consternation, when in due time the dowagers adjourned from their cards. Where was the supper?—and the servants' answer, Mr. —— had eat it all.—That freak, however, jested me out of a good three hundred pounds a year, which I afterwards was informed for a certainty the old lady meant to leave me. I mention it not in illustration of the unhappy faculty which I am possessed of; for any unlucky wag of a school-boy, with a tolerable appetite, could have done as much without feeling any hurt after it,—only that you may judge whether I am a man likely to set my talent to sale, or to require the pitiful stimulus of a wager.

I have read in Pliny, or in some author of that stamp, of a reptile in Africa, whose venom is of that hot, destructive quality, that wheresoever it fastens its tooth, the whole substance of the animal that has been bitten in a few seconds is reduced to dust, crumbles away, and absolutely disappears: it is called from this quality, the Annihilator. Why am I forced to seek, in all the most prodigious and portentous facts of Natural History, for creatures typical of myself? I am that Snake, that Annihilator: "wherever I fasten, in a few seconds——."

O happy sick men, that are groaning under the want of that very thing, the excess of which is my torment! O fortunate, too fortunate, if you knew your happiness, invalids! What would I not give to exchange this fierce concoctive and digestive heat,—this rabid fury which vexes me, which tears and torments me,—for your quiet, mortified, hermit-like,[Pg 144] subdued, and sanctified stomachs,—your cool, chastened inclinations, and coy desires for food!

To what unhappy figuration of the parts intestine I owe this unnatural craving, I must leave to the anatomists and the physicians to determine: they, like the rest of the world, have doubtless their eye upon me; and as I have been cut up alive by the sarcasms of my friends, so I shudder when I contemplate the probability that this animal frame, when its restless appetites shall have ceased their importunity, may be cut up also (horrible suggestion!) to determine in what system of solids or fluids this original sin of my constitution lay lurking. What work will they make with their acids and alkalines, their serums and coagulums, effervescences, viscous matter, bile, chyle, and acrimonious juices, to explain that cause which Nature, who willed the effect to punish me for my sins, may no less have determined to keep in the dark from them, to punish them for their presumption.

You may ask, Mr. Reflector, to what purpose is my appeal to you: what can you do for me? Alas! I know too well that my case is out of the reach of advice,—out of the reach of consolation. But it is some relief to the wounded heart to impart its tale of misery; and some of my acquaintance, who may read my case in your pages under a borrowed name, may be induced to give it a more humane consideration than I could ever yet obtain from them under my own. Make them, if possible, to reflect, that an original peculiarity of constitution is no crime; that not that which goes into the mouth desecrates a man, but that which comes out of it,—such as sarcasm, bitter jests, mocks and taunts, and ill-natured observations; and let them consider, if there be such things (which we have all heard of) as Pious Treachery, Innocent Adultery, &c. whether there may not be also such a thing as Innocent Gluttony.

I shall only subscribe myself,
Your afflicted servant,

[Pg 145]


(1811. Text of 1818)

To the Editor of the Reflector

Mr. Reflector,—My husband and I are fond of company, and being in easy circumstances, we are seldom without a party to dinner two or three days in a week. The utmost cordiality has hitherto prevailed at our meetings; but there is a young gentleman, a near relation of my husband's, that has lately come among us, whose preposterous behaviour bids fair, if not timely checked, to disturb our tranquillity. He is too great a favourite with my husband in other respects, for me to remonstrate with him in any other than this distant way. A letter printed in your publication may catch his eye; for he is a great reader, and makes a point of seeing all the new things that come out. Indeed, he is by no means deficient in understanding. My husband says that he has a good deal of wit; but for my part I cannot say I am any judge of that, having seldom observed him open his mouth except for purposes very foreign to conversation. In short, Sir, this young gentleman's failing is, an immoderate indulgence of his palate. The first time he dined with us, he thought it necessary to extenuate the length of time he kept the dinner on the table, by declaring that he had taken a very long walk in the morning, and came in fasting; but as that excuse could not serve above once or twice at most, he has latterly dropped the mask altogether, and chosen to appear in his own proper colours without reserve or apology.

You cannot imagine how unpleasant his conduct has become. His way of staring at the dishes as they are brought in, has absolutely something immodest in it: it is like the stare of an impudent man of fashion at a fine woman, when she first comes into a room. I am positively in pain for the dishes, and cannot help thinking they have consciousness, and will be put out of countenance, he treats them so like what they are not.

[Pg 146]

Then again he makes no scruple of keeping a joint of meat on the table, after the cheese and fruit are brought in, till he has what he calls done with it. Now how awkward this looks, where there are ladies, you may judge, Mr. Reflector,—how it disturbs the order and comfort of a meal. And yet I always make a point of helping him first, contrary to all good manners,—before any of my female friends are helped,—that he may avoid this very error. I wish he would eat before he comes out.

What makes his proceedings more particularly offensive at our house is, that my husband, though out of common politeness he is obliged to set dishes of animal food before his visitors, yet himself and his whole family (myself included) feed entirely on vegetables. We have a theory, that animal food is neither wholesome nor natural to man; and even vegetables we refuse to eat until they have undergone the operation of fire, in consideration of those numberless little living creatures which the glass helps us to detect in every fibre of the plant or root before it be dressed. On the same theory we boil our water, which is our only drink, before we suffer it to come to table. Our children are perfect little Pythagoreans: it would do you good to see them in their nursery, stuffing their dried fruits, figs, raisins, and milk, which is the only approach to animal food which is allowed. They have no notion how the substance of a creature that ever had life can become food for another creature. A beef-steak is an absurdity to them; a mutton-chop, a solecism in terms; a cutlet, a word absolutely without any meaning; a butcher is nonsense, except so far as it is taken for a man who delights in blood, or a hero. In this happy state of innocence we have kept their minds, not allowing them to go into the kitchen, or to hear of any preparations for the dressing of animal food, or even to know that such things are practised. But as a state of ignorance is incompatible with a certain age; and as my eldest girl, who is ten years old next Midsummer, must shortly be introduced into the world and sit at table with us, where she will see some things which will shock all her received notions, I have been endeavouring by little and little to break her mind, and prepare it for the disagreeable impressions which must be forced upon it. The first hint I gave her upon the subject, I could see her recoil from it with the same horror with which we[Pg 147] listen to a tale of Anthropophagism; but she has gradually grown more reconciled to it in some measure, from my telling her that it was the custom of the world,—to which, however senseless, we must submit so far as we could do it with innocence, not to give offence; and she has shewn so much strength of mind on other occasions, which I have no doubt is owing to the calmness and serenity superinduced by her diet, that I am in good hopes, when the proper season for her debut arrives, she may be brought to endure the sight of a roasted chicken or a dish of sweatbreads, for the first time, without fainting. Such being the nature of our little household, you may guess what inroads into the economy of it,—what revolutions and turnings of things upside down, the example of such a feeder as Mr. —— is calculated to produce.

I wonder at a time like the present, when the scarcity of every kind of food is so painfully acknowledged, that shame has no effect upon him. Can he have read Mr. Malthus's Thoughts on the Ratio of Food to Population? Can he think it reasonable that one man should consume the sustenance of many?

The young gentleman has an agreeable air and person, such as are not unlikely to recommend him on the score of matrimony. But his fortune is not over large; and what prudent young woman would think of embarking hers with a man who would bring three or four mouths (or what is equivalent to them) into a family? She might as reasonably choose a widower in the same circumstances with three or four children.

I cannot think who he takes after. His father and mother, by all accounts, were very moderate eaters; only I have heard that the latter swallowed her victuals very fast, and the former had a tedious custom of sitting long at his meals. Perhaps he takes after both.

I wish you would turn this in your thoughts, Mr. Reflector, and give us your ideas on the subject of excessive eating; and, particularly, of animal food.


[Pg 148]



The Good Clerk.—He writeth a fair and swift hand, and is competently versed in the Four First Rules of Arithmetic, in the Rule of Three (which is sometimes called the Golden Rule) and in Practice. We mention these things, that we may leave no room for cavillers to say, that any thing essential hath been omitted in our definition; else, to speak the truth, these are but ordinary accomplishments, and such as every understrapper at a desk is commonly furnished with. The character we treat of soareth higher.

He is clean and neat in his person; not from a vain-glorious desire of setting himself forth to advantage in the eyes of the other sex (with which vanity too many of our young Sparks now-a-days are infected) but to do credit (as we say) to the office. For this reason he evermore taketh care that his desk or his books receive no soil; the which things he is commonly as solicitous to have fair and unblemished, as the owner of a fine horse is to have him appear in good keep.

He riseth early in the morning; not because early rising conduceth to health (though he doth not altogether despise that consideration) but chiefly to the intent that he may be first at the desk. There is his post, there he delighteth to be, unless when his meals, or necessity, calleth him away; which time he alway esteemeth as lost, and maketh as short as possible.

He is temperate in eating and drinking, that he may preserve a clear head and steady hand for his master's service. He is also partly induced to this observation of the rules of temperance by his respect for religion and the laws of his country; which things (it may once for all be noted) do add special assistances to his actions, but do not and cannot furnish the main spring or motive thereto. His first ambition (as appeareth all along) is to be a good Clerk, his next a good Christian, a good Patriot, [Pg 149]&c.

Correspondent to this, he keepeth himself honest, not for fear of the laws, but because he hath observed how unseemly an article it maketh in the Day Book, or Ledger, when a sum is set down lost or missing; it being his pride to make these books to agree, and to tally, the one side with the other, with a sort of architectural symmetry and correspondence.

He marrieth, or marrieth not, as best suiteth with his employer's views. Some merchants do the rather desire to have married men in their Counting Houses, because they think the married state a pledge for their servants' integrity, and an incitement to them to be industrious; and it was an observation of a late Lord Mayor of London, that the sons of Clerks do generally prove Clerks themselves, and that Merchants encouraging persons in their employ to marry, and to have families, was the best method of securing a breed of sober industrious young men attached to the mercantile interest. Be this as it may, such a character as we have been describing, will wait till the pleasure of his employer is known on this point; and regulateth his desires by the custom of the house or firm to which he belongeth.

He avoideth profane oaths and jesting, as so much time lost from his employ; what spare time he hath for conversation, which in a Counting House such as we have been supposing can be but small, he spendeth in putting seasonable questions to such of his fellows (and sometimes respectfully to the master himself) who can give him information respecting the price and quality of goods, the state of exchange, or the latest improvements in book-keeping; thus making the motion of his lips, as well as of his fingers, subservient to his master's interest. Not that he refuseth a brisk saying, or a cheerful sally of wit, when it comes unforced, is free of offence, and hath a convenient brevity. For this reason he hath commonly some such phrase as this in his mouth:—

It's a slovenly look
To blot your book.


Red ink for ornament, black for use,
The best of things are open to abuse.

So upon the eve of any great holyday, of which he keepeth one or two at least every year, he will merrily say in the hearing of a confidential friend, but to none other:[Pg 150]

All work and no play
Makes Jack a dull boy.


A bow always bent must crack at last.

But then this must always be understood to be spoken confidentially, and, as we say, under the rose.

Lastly, his dress is plain without singularity; with no other ornament than the quill, which is the badge of his function, stuck under the dexter ear, and this rather for convenience of having it at hand, when he hath been called away from his desk, and expecteth to resume his seat there again shortly, than from any delight which he taketh in foppery or ostentation. The colour of his clothes is generally noted to be black rather than brown, brown rather than blue or green. His whole deportment is staid, modest, and civil. His motto is Regularity.——

This Character was sketched, in an interval of business, to divert some of the melancholy hours of a Counting House. It is so little a creature of fancy, that it is scarce any thing more than a recollection of some of those frugal and economical maxims which, about the beginning of the last century, (England's meanest period), were endeavoured to be inculcated and instilled into the breasts of the London Apprentices,[23] by a class of instructors who might not inaptly be termed The Masters of mean Morals. The astonishing narrowness and illiberality of the lessons contained in some of those books is inconceivable by those whose studies have not led them that way, and would almost induce one to subscribe to the hard censure which Drayton has passed upon the mercantile spirit:—

The gripple merchant, born to be the curse
Of this brave Isle.

[23] This term designated a larger class of young men than that to which it is now confined; it took in the articled Clerks of Merchants and Bankers, the George Barnwells of the day.

I have now lying before me that curious book by Daniel Defoe, "The Complete English Tradesman." The pompous detail, the studied analysis of every little mean art, every sneaking address, every trick and subterfuge (short of larceny) that is necessary to the tradesman's occupation, with the hundreds of anecdotes, dialogues (in Defoe's liveliest manner) inter[Pg 151]spersed, all tending to the same amiable purpose, namely, the sacrificing of every honest emotion of the soul to what he calls the main chance,—if you read it in an ironical sense, and as a piece of covered satire, make it one of the most amusing books which Defoe ever writ, as much so as any of his best novels. It is difficult to say what his intention was in writing it. It is almost impossible to suppose him in earnest. Yet such is the bent of the book to narrow and to degrade the heart, that if such maxims were as catching and infectious as those of a licentious cast, which happily is not the case, had I been living at that time, I certainly should have recommended to the Grand Jury of Middlesex, who presented the Fable of the Bees, to have presented this book of Defoe's in preference, as of a far more vile and debasing tendency. I will give one specimen of his advice to the young Tradesman on the Government of his Temper. "The retail tradesman in especial, and even every tradesman in his station, must furnish himself with a competent stock of patience; I mean that sort of patience which is needful to bear with all sorts of impertinence, and the most provoking curiosity that it is impossible to imagine the buyers, even the worst of them, are or can be guilty of. A tradesman behind his counter must have no flesh and blood about him, no passions, no resentment; he must never be angry, no not so much as seem to be so, if a customer tumbles him five hundred pounds worth of goods, and scarce bids money for any thing; nay, though they really come to his shop with no intent to buy, as many do, only to see what is to be sold, and though he knows they cannot be better pleased, than they are, at some other shop where they intend to buy, 'tis all one, the tradesman must take it, he must place it to the account of his calling, that 'tis his business to be ill used and resent nothing; and so must answer as obligingly to those that give him an hour or two's trouble and buy nothing, as he does to those who in half the time lay out ten or twenty pounds. The case is plain, and if some do give him trouble and do not buy, others make amends and do buy; and as for the trouble, 'tis the business of the shop." Here follows a most admirable story of a mercer who, by his indefatigable meanness and more than Socratic patience under affronts, overcame and reconciled a lady, who upon the report of another lady that he had behaved saucily to some third lady, had determined to shun his[Pg 152] shop, but by the over-persuasions of a fourth lady was induced to go to it; which she does, declaring before hand that she will buy nothing, but give him all the trouble she can. Her attack and his defence, her insolence and his persevering patience, are described in colours worthy of a Mandeville; but it is too long to recite. "The short inference from this long discourse (says he) is this, that here you see, and I could give you many examples like this, how and in what manner a shop-keeper is to behave himself in the way of his business; what impertinences, what taunts, flouts, and ridiculous things, he must bear in his trade, and must not shew the least return, or the least signal of disgust: he must have no passions, no fire in his temper; he must be all soft and smooth; nay, if his real temper be naturally fiery and hot, he must shew none of it in his shop; he must be a perfect complete hypocrite if he will be a complete tradesman.[24] It is true, natural tempers are not to be always counterfeited; the man cannot easily be a lamb in his shop, and a lion in himself; but let it be easy or hard, it must be done, and is done: there are men who have by custom and usage brought themselves to it, that nothing could be meeker and milder than they, when behind the counter, and yet nothing be more furious and raging in every other part of life; nay the provocations they have met with in their shops have so irritated their rage, that they would go up stairs from their shop, and fall into frenzies, and a kind of madness, and beat their heads against the wall, and perhaps mischief themselves, if not prevented, till the violence of it had gotten vent, and the passions abate and cool. I heard once of a shop-keeper that behaved himself thus to such an extreme, that when he was provoked by the impertinence of the customers, beyond what his temper could bear, he would go up stairs and beat his wife, kick his children about like dogs, and be as furious for two or three minutes, as a man chained down in Bedlam; and again, when that heat was over, would sit down and cry faster than the children he had abused; and after the fit, he would go down into the shop again, and be as humble, courteous, and as calm as any man whatever; so absolute a government of his passions had he in the shop and so little out of it: in the shop, a soul-less[Pg 153] animal that would resent nothing; and in the family a madman: in the shop, meek like a lamb; but in the family, outrageous like a Libyan lion. The sum of the matter is, it is necessary for a tradesman to subject himself by all the ways possible to his business; his customers are to be his idols: so far as he may worship idols by allowance, he is to bow down to them, and worship them; at least he is not in any way to displease them, or shew any disgust or distaste whatsoever they may say or do; the bottom of all is, that he is intending to get money by them, and it is not for him that gets money to offer the least inconvenience to them by whom he gets it; he is to consider that, as Solomon says, the borrower is servant to the lender, so the seller is servant to the buyer."—What he says on the head of Pleasures and Recreations is not less amusing:—"The tradesman's pleasure should be in his business, his companions should be his books, (he means his Ledger, Waste-book, &c.) and if he has a family, he makes his excursions up stairs and no further:—none of my cautions aim at restraining a tradesman from diverting himself, as we call it, with his fireside, or keeping company with his wife and children."—Liberal allowance; nay, almost licentious and criminal indulgence!—but it is time to dismiss this Philosopher of Meanness. More of this stuff would illiberalize the pages of the Reflector. Was the man in earnest, when he could bring such powers of description, and all the charms of natural eloquence, in commendation of the meanest, vilest, wretchedest degradations of the human character?—Or did he not rather laugh in his sleeve at the doctrines which he inculcated, and retorting upon the grave Citizens of London their own arts, palm upon them a sample of disguised Satire under the name of wholesome Instruction?

L. B.

[24] As no qualification accompanies this maxim, it must be understood as the genuine sentiment of the Author!



——Also, in October, in his 33d year, Mr. Robert Lloyd, third son of Charles Lloyd. To dilate in many words upon his character, would be to violate the modest[Pg 154] regard due to his memory, who in his lifetime shrunk so anxiously from every species of notice. His constitutional misfortune was an excess of nervous sensibility, which in the purest of hearts produced rather too great a spirit of self-abasement, a perpetual apprehension of not doing what was right. Yet, beyond this tenderness, he seemed absolutely to have no self-regards at all. His eye was single, and ever fixed upon that form of goodness, which he venerated wherever he found it, except in himself. What he was to his parents, and in his family, the newness of their sorrow may make it unseasonable to touch at; his loss, alas! was but one in a complication of domestic afflictions which have fallen so heavy of late upon a very worthy house. But as a friend, the writer of this memorial can witness, that what he once esteemed and loved, it was an unalterable law of his mind to continue to esteem and love. Absences of years, the discontinuance of correspondence, from whatever cause, for ever so great a length of time, made no difference. It seemed as if the affectionate part of his nature could suffer no abatement. The display of what the world calls shining talents, would have been incompatible with a character like his; but he oftentimes let fall, in his familiar talk, and in his letters, bright and original illustrations of feeling, which might have been mistaken for genius, if his own watchful modest spirit had not constantly interposed to recall and substitute for them some of the ordinary forms of observation, which lay less out of that circle of common sympathy, within which his kind nature delighted to move.


(1813. Text of 1822)

Dehortations from the use of strong liquors have been the favourite topic of sober declaimers in all ages, and have been received with abundance of applause by water-drinking critics. But with the patient himself, the man that is to be cured, unfortunately their sound has seldom pre[Pg 155]vailed. Yet the evil is acknowledged, the remedy simple. Abstain. No force can oblige a man to raise the glass to his head against his will. 'Tis as easy as not to steal, not to tell lies.

Alas! the hand to pilfer, and the tongue to bear false witness, have no constitutional tendency. These are actions indifferent to them. At the first instance of the reformed will, they can be brought off without a murmur. The itching finger is but a figure in speech, and the tongue of the liar can with the same natural delight give forth useful truths, with which it has been accustomed to scatter their pernicious contraries. But when a man has commenced sot——

O pause, thou sturdy moralist, thou person of stout nerves and a strong head, whose liver is happily untouched, and ere thy gorge riseth at the name which I have written, first learn what the thing is; how much of compassion, how much of human allowance, thou may'st virtuously mingle with thy disapprobation. Trample not on the ruins of a man. Exact not, under so terrible a penalty as infamy, a resuscitation from a state of death almost as real as that from which Lazarus rose not but by a miracle.

Begin a reformation, and custom will make it easy. But what if the beginning be dreadful, the first steps not like climbing a mountain but going through fire? what if the whole system must undergo a change violent as that which we conceive of the mutation of form in some insects? what if a process comparable to flaying alive be to be gone through? is the weakness that sinks under such struggles to be confounded with the pertinacity which clings to other vices, which have induced no constitutional necessity, no engagement of the whole victim, body and soul?

I have known one in that state, when he has tried to abstain but for one evening,—though the poisonous potion had long ceased to bring back its first enchantments, though he was sure it would rather deepen his gloom than brighten it,—in the violence of the struggle, and the necessity he has felt of getting rid of the present sensation at any rate, I have known him to scream out, to cry aloud, for the anguish and pain of the strife within him.

Why should I hesitate to declare, that the man of whom I speak is myself? I have no puling apology to make to mankind. I see them all in one way or another deviating from[Pg 156] the pure reason. It is to my own nature alone I am accountable for the woe that I have brought upon it.

I believe that there are constitutions, robust heads and iron insides, whom scarce any excesses can hurt; whom brandy (I have seen them drink it like wine), at all events whom wine, taken in ever so plentiful measure, can do no worse injury to than just to muddle their faculties, perhaps never very pellucid. On them this discourse is wasted. They would but laugh at a weak brother, who, trying his strength with them, and coming off foiled from the contest, would fain persuade them that such agonistic exercises are dangerous. It is to a very different description of persons I speak. It is to the weak, the nervous; to those who feel the want of some artificial aid to raise their spirits in society to what is no more than the ordinary pitch of all around them without it. This is the secret of our drinking. Such must fly the convivial board in the first instance, if they do not mean to sell themselves for term of life.

Twelve years ago I had completed my six and twentieth year. I had lived from the period of leaving school to that time pretty much in solitude. My companions were chiefly books, or at most one or two living ones of my own book-loving and sober stamp. I rose early, went to bed betimes, and the faculties which God had given me, I have reason to think, did not rust in me unused.

About that time I fell in with some companions of a different order. They were men of boisterous spirits, sitters up a-nights, disputants, drunken; yet seemed to have something noble about them. We dealt about the wit, or what passes for it after midnight, jovially. Of the quality called fancy I certainly possessed a larger share than my companions. Encouraged by their applause, I set up for a profest joker! I, who of all men am least fitted for such an occupation, having, in addition to the greatest difficulty which I experience at all times of finding words to express my meaning, a natural nervous impediment in my speech!

Reader, if you are gifted with nerves like mine, aspire to any character but that of a wit. When you find a tickling relish upon your tongue disposing you to that sort of conversation, especially if you find a preternatural flow of ideas setting in upon you at the sight of a bottle and fresh glasses, avoid giving way to it as you would fly your greatest de[Pg 157]struction. If you cannot crush the power of fancy, or that within you which you mistake for such, divert it, give it some other play. Write an essay, pen a character or description,—but not as I do now, with tears trickling down your cheeks.

To be an object of compassion to friends, of derision to foes; to be suspected by strangers, stared at by fools; to be esteemed dull when you cannot be witty, to be applauded for witty when you know that you have been dull; to be called upon for the extemporaneous exercise of that faculty which no premeditation can give; to be spurred on to efforts which end in contempt; to be set on to provoke mirth which procures the procurer hatred; to give pleasure and be paid with squinting malice; to swallow draughts of life-destroying wine which are to be distilled into airy breath to tickle vain auditors; to mortgage miserable morrows for nights of madness; to waste whole seas of time upon those who pay it back in little inconsiderable drops of grudging applause,—are the wages of buffoonery and death.

Time, which has a sure stroke at dissolving all connexions which have no solider fastening than this liquid cement, more kind to me than my own taste or penetration, at length opened my eyes to the supposed qualities of my first friends. No trace of them is left but in the vices which they introduced, and the habits they infixed. In them my friends survive still, and exercise ample retribution for any supposed infidelity that I may have been guilty of towards them.

My next more immediate companions were and are persons of such intrinsic and felt worth, that though accidentally their acquaintance has proved pernicious to me, I do not know that if the thing were to do over again, I should have the courage to eschew the mischief at the price of forfeiting the benefit. I came to them reeking from the steams of my late over-heated notions of companionship; and the slightest fuel which they unconsciously afforded, was sufficient to feed my old fires into a propensity.

They were no drinkers, but, one from professional habits, and another from a custom derived from his father, smoked tobacco. The devil could not have devised a more subtle trap to re-take a backsliding penitent. The transition, from gulping down draughts of liquid fire to puffing out innocuous blasts of dry smoke, was so like cheating him. But he is[Pg 158] too hard for us when we hope to commute. He beats us at barter; and when we think to set off a new failing against an old infirmity, 'tis odds but he puts the trick upon us of two for one. That (comparatively) white devil of tobacco brought with him in the end seven worse than himself.

It were impertinent to carry the reader through all the processes by which, from smoking at first with malt liquor, I took my degrees through thin wines, through stronger wine and water, through small punch, to those juggling compositions, which, under the name of mixed liquors, slur a great deal of brandy or other poison under less and less water continually, until they come next to none, and so to none at all. But it is hateful to disclose the secrets of my Tartarus.

I should repel my readers, from a mere incapacity of believing me, were I to tell them what tobacco has been to me, the drudging service which I have paid, the slavery which I have vowed to it. How, when I have resolved to quit it, a feeling as of ingratitude has started up; how it has put on personal claims and made the demands of a friend upon me. How the reading of it casually in a book, as where Adams takes his whiff in the chimney-corner of some inn in Joseph Andrews, or Piscator in the Complete Angler breaks his fast upon a morning pipe in that delicate room Piscatoribus Sacrum, has in a moment broken down the resistance of weeks. How a pipe was ever in my midnight path before me, till the vision forced me to realize it,—how then its ascending vapours curled, its fragrance lulled, and the thousand delicious ministerings conversant about it, employing every faculty, extracted the sense of pain. How from illuminating it came to darken, from a quick solace it turned to a negative relief, thence to a restlessness and dissatisfaction, thence to a positive misery. How, even now, when the whole secret stands confessed in all its dreadful truth before me, I feel myself linked to it beyond the power of revocation. Bone of my bone——

Persons not accustomed to examine the motives of their actions, to reckon up the countless nails that rivet the chains of habit, or perhaps being bound by none so obdurate as those I have confessed to, may recoil from this as from an overcharged picture. But what short of such a bondage is it, which in spite of protesting friends, a weeping wife,[Pg 159] and a reprobating world, chains down many a poor fellow, of no original indisposition to goodness, to his pipe and his pot?

I have seen a print after Correggio, in which three female figures are ministering to a man who sits fast bound at the root of a tree. Sensuality is soothing him, Evil Habit is nailing him to a branch, and Repugnance at the same instant of time is applying a snake to his side. In his face is feeble delight, the recollection of past rather than perception of present pleasures, languid enjoyment of evil with utter imbecility to good, a Sybaritic effeminacy, a submission to bondage, the springs of the will gone down like a broken clock, the sin and the suffering co-instantaneous, or the latter forerunning the former, remorse preceding action—all this represented in one point of time.—When I saw this, I admired the wonderful skill of the painter. But when I went away, I wept, because I thought of my own condition.

Of that there is no hope that it should ever change. The waters have gone over me. But out of the black depths, could I be heard, I would cry out to all those who have but set a foot in the perilous flood. Could the youth, to whom the flavor of his first wine is delicious as the opening scenes of life, or the entering upon some newly discovered paradise, look into my desolation, and be made to understand what a dreary thing it is when a man shall feel himself going down a precipice with open eyes and a passive will,—to see his destruction, and have no power to stop it, and yet to feel it all the way emanating from himself; to perceive all goodness emptied out of him, and yet not to be able to forget a time when it was otherwise; to bear about the piteous spectacle of his own self-ruins:—could he see my fevered eye, feverish with last night's drinking, and feverishly looking for this night's repetition of the folly; could he feel the body of the death out of which I cry hourly with feebler and feebler outcry to be delivered,—it were enough to make him dash the sparkling beverage to the earth in all the pride of its mantling temptation; to make him clasp his teeth,

and not undo 'em
To suffer WET DAMNATION to run through 'em.

Yea, but (methinks I hear somebody object) if sobriety be[Pg 160] that fine thing you would have us to understand, if the comforts of a cool brain are to be perferred to that state of heated excitement which you describe and deplore, what hinders in your own instance that you do not return to those habits from which you would induce others never to swerve? if the blessing be worth preserving, is it not worth recovering?

Recovering!—O if a wish could transport me back to those days of youth, when a draught from the next clear spring could slake any heats which summer suns and youthful exercise had power to stir up in the blood, how gladly would I return to thee, pure element, the drink of children, and of child-like holy hermit. In my dreams I can sometimes fancy thy cool refreshment purling over my burning tongue. But my waking stomach rejects it. That which refreshes innocence, only makes me sick and faint.

But is there no middle way betwixt total abstinence and the excess which kills you?—For your sake, reader, and that you may never attain to my experience, with pain I must utter the dreadful truth, that there is none, none that I can find. In my stage of habit (I speak not of habits less confirmed—for some of them I believe the advice to be most prudential) in the stage which I have reached, to stop short of that measure which is sufficient to draw on torpor and sleep, the benumbing apoplectic sleep of the drunkard, is to have taken none at all. The pain of the self-denial is all one. And what that is, I had rather the reader should believe on my credit, than know from his own trial. He will come to know it, whenever he shall arrive at that state, in which, paradoxical as it may appear, reason shall only visit him through intoxication: for it is a fearful truth, that the intellectual faculties by repeated acts of intemperance may be driven from their orderly sphere of action, their clear day-light ministeries, until they shall be brought at last to depend, for the faint manifestation of their departing energies, upon the returning periods of the fatal madness to which they owe their devastation. The drinking man is never less himself than during his sober intervals. Evil is so far his good.[25]

[25] When poor M—— painted his last picture, with a pencil in one trembling hand, and a glass of brandy and water in the other, his fingers owed the comparative steadiness, with which they were enabled to go through their task in an imperfect manner, to a temporary firmness derived from a repetition of practices, the general effect of which had shaken both them and him so terribly.

[Pg 161]

Behold me then, in the robust period of life, reduced to imbecility and decay. Hear me count my gains, and the profits which I have derived from the midnight cup.

Twelve years ago I was possessed of a healthy frame of mind and body. I was never strong, but I think my constitution (for a weak one) was as happily exempt from the tendency to any malady as it was possible to be. I scarce knew what it was to ail any thing. Now, except when I am losing myself in a sea of drink, I am never free from those uneasy sensations in head and stomach, which are so much worse to bear than any definite pains or aches.

At that time I was seldom in bed after six in the morning, summer and winter. I awoke refreshed, and seldom without some merry thoughts in my head, or some piece of a song to welcome the new-born day. Now, the first feeling which besets me, after stretching out the hours of recumbence to their last possible extent, is a forecast of the wearisome day that lies before me, with a secret wish that I could have lain on still, or never awaked.

Life itself, my waking life, has much of the confusion, the trouble, and obscure perplexity, of an ill dream. In the daytime I stumble upon dark mountains.

Business, which, though never particularly adapted to my nature, yet as something of necessity to be gone through, and therefore best undertaken with cheerfulness, I used to enter upon with some degree of alacrity, now wearies, affrights, perplexes me. I fancy all sorts of discouragements, and am ready to give up an occupation which gives me bread, from a harassing conceit of incapacity. The slightest commission given me by a friend, or any small duty which I have to perform for myself, as giving orders to a tradesman, &c. haunts me as a labour impossible to be got through. So much the springs of action are broken.

The same cowardice attends me in all my intercourse with mankind. I dare not promise that a friend's honour, or his cause, would be safe in my keeping, if I were put to the expense of any manly resolution in defending it. So much the springs of moral action are deadened within me.

My favourite occupations in times past, now cease to enter[Pg 162]tain. I can do nothing readily. Application for ever so short a time kills me. This poor abstract of my condition was penned at long intervals, with scarcely any attempt at connexion of thought, which is now difficult to me.

The noble passages which formerly delighted me in history or poetic fiction, now only draw a few weak tears, allied to dotage. My broken and dispirited nature seems to sink before any thing great and admirable.

I perpetually catch myself in tears, for any cause, or none. It is inexpressible how much this infirmity adds to a sense of shame, and a general feeling of deterioration.

These are some of the instances, concerning which I can say with truth, that it was not always so with me.

Shall I lift up the veil of my weakness any further? or is this disclosure sufficient?

I am a poor nameless egotist, who have no vanity to consult by these Confessions. I know not whether I shall be laughed at, or heard seriously. Such as they are, I commend them to the reader's attention, if he finds his own case any way touched. I have told him what I am come to. Let him stop in time.



(1813. Text of 1818)

To comfort the desponding parent with the thought that, without diminishing the stock which is imperiously demanded to furnish the more pressing and homely wants of our nature, he has disposed of one or more perhaps out of a numerous offspring, under the shelter of a care scarce less tender than the paternal, where not only their bodily cravings shall be supplied, but that mental pabulum is also dispensed, which He hath declared to be no less necessary to our sustenance, who said, that "not by bread alone man can live;" for this Christ's Hospital unfolds her bounty. Here neither, on the one hand, are the youth lifted up above their family, which[Pg 163] we must suppose liberal though reduced; nor, on the other hand, are they liable to be depressed below its level by the mean habits and sentiments which a common charity-school generates. It is, in a word, an Institution to keep those who have yet held up their heads in the world from sinking; to keep alive the spirit of a decent household, when poverty was in danger of crushing it; to assist those who are the most willing, but not always the most able, to assist themselves; to separate a child from his family for a season, in order to render him back hereafter, with feelings and habits more congenial to it, than he could even have attained by remaining at home in the bosom of it. It is a preserving and renovating principle, an antidote for the res angusta domi, when it presses, as it always does, most heavily upon the most ingenuous natures.

This is Christ's Hospital; and whether its character would be improved by confining its advantages to the very lowest of the people, let those judge who have witnessed the looks, the gestures, the behaviour, the manner of their play with one another, their deportment towards strangers, the whole aspect and physiognomy of that vast assemblage of boys on the London foundation, who freshen and make alive again with their sports the else mouldering cloisters of the old Grey Friars—which strangers who have never witnessed, if they pass through Newgate-street, or by Smithfield, would do well to go a little out of their way to see.

For the Christ's Hospital boy feels that he is no charity-boy; he feels it in the antiquity and regality of the foundation to which he belongs; in the usage which he meets with at school, and the treatment he is accustomed to out of its bounds; in the respect, and even kindness, which his well known garb never fails to procure him in the streets of the metropolis; he feels it in his education, in that measure of classical attainments, which every individual at that school, though not destined to a learned profession, has it in his power to procure, attainments which it would be worse than folly to put it in the reach of the labouring classes to acquire: he feels it in the numberless comforts, and even magnificences, which surround him; in his old and awful cloisters, with their traditions; in his spacious school-rooms, and in the well-ordered, airy, and lofty rooms where he sleeps; in his stately dining-hall, hung round with pictures by Verrio, Lely, and[Pg 164] others, one of them surpassing in size and grandeur almost any other in the kingdom;[26] above all, in the very extent and magnitude of the body to which he belongs, and the consequent spirit, the intelligence, and public conscience, which is the result of so many various yet wonderfully combining members. Compared with this last-named advantage, what is the stock of information, (I do not here speak of book-learning, but of that knowledge which boy receives from boy,) the mass of collected opinions, the intelligence in common, among the few and narrow members of an ordinary boarding-school?

[26] By Verrio, representing James the Second on his throne, surrounded by his courtiers, (all curious portraits,) receiving the mathematical pupils at their annual presentation, a custom still kept up on New-year's-day at Court.

The Christ's Hospital or Blue-coat boy, has a distinctive character of his own, as far removed from the abject qualities of a common charity-boy as it is from the disgusting forwardness of a lad brought up at some other of the public schools. There is pride in it, accumulated from the circumstances which I have described as differencing him from the former; and there is a restraining modesty, from a sense of obligation and dependence, which must ever keep his deportment from assimilating to that of the latter. His very garb, as it is antique and venerable, feeds his self-respect; as it is a badge of dependence, it restrains the natural petulance of that age from breaking out into overt-acts of insolence. This produces silence and a reserve before strangers, yet not that cowardly shyness which boys mewed up at home will feel; he will speak up when spoken to, but the stranger must begin the conversation with him. Within his bounds he is all fire and play; but in the streets he steals along with all the self-concentration of a young monk. He is never known to mix with other boys, they are a sort of laity to him. All this proceeds, I have no doubt, from the continual consciousness which he carries about him of the difference of his dress from that of the rest of the world; with a modest jealousy over himself, lest, by over-hastily mixing with common and secular playfellows, he should commit the dignity of his cloth. Nor let any one laugh at this; for, considering the propensity of the multitude, and especially of the small multitude, to ridicule any thing unusual in dress—above all, where such peculiarity may be construed by malice into a[Pg 165] mark of disparagement—this reserve will appear to be nothing more than a wise instinct in the Blue-coat boy. That it is neither pride nor rusticity, at least that it has none of the offensive qualities of either, a stranger may soon satisfy himself by putting a question to any of these boys: he may be sure of an answer couched in terms of plain civility, neither loquacious nor embarrassed. Let him put the same question to a parish-boy, or to one of the trencher-caps in the —— cloisters, and the impudent reply of the one shall not fail to exasperate any more than the certain servility, and mercenary eye to reward, which he will meet with in the other, can fail to depress and sadden him.

The Christ's Hospital boy is a religious character. His school is eminently a religious foundation; it has its peculiar prayers, its services at set times, its graces, hymns, and anthems, following each other in an almost monastic closeness of succession. This religious character in him is not always untinged with superstition. That is not wonderful, when we consider the thousand tales and traditions which must circulate, with undisturbed credulity, amongst so many boys, that have so few checks to their belief from any intercourse with the world at large; upon whom their equals in age must work so much, their elders so little. With this leaning towards an over-belief in matters of religion, which will soon correct itself when he comes out into society, may be classed a turn for romance above most other boys. This is to be traced in the same manner to their excess of society with each other, and defect of mingling with the world. Hence the peculiar avidity with which such books as the Arabian Nights Entertainments, and others of a still wilder cast, are, or at least were in my time, sought for by the boys. I remember when some half-dozen of them set off from school, without map, card, or compass, on a serious expedition to find out Philip Quarll's Island.

The Christ's Hospital boy's sense of right and wrong is peculiarly tender and apprehensive. It is even apt to run out into ceremonial observances, and to impose a yoke upon itself beyond the strict obligations of the moral law. Those who were contemporaries with me at that School thirty years ago, will remember with what more than Judaic rigour the eating of the fat of certain boiled meats[27] was interdicted.[Pg 166] A boy would have blushed, as at the exposure of some heinous immorality, to have been detected eating that forbidden portion of his allowance of animal food, the whole of which, while he was in health, was little more than sufficient to allay his hunger. The same, or even greater, refinement was shewn in the rejection of certain kinds of sweet-cake. What gave rise to these supererogatory penances, these self-denying ordinances, I could never learn;[28] they certainly argue no defect of the conscientious principle. A little excess in that article is not undesirable in youth, to make allowance for the inevitable waste which comes in maturer years. But in the less ambiguous line of duty, in those directions of the moral feelings which cannot be mistaken or depreciated, I will relate what took place in the year 1785, when Mr. Perry, the steward, died. I must be pardoned for taking my instances from my own times. Indeed, the vividness of my recollections, while I am upon this subject, almost brings back those times; they are present to me still. But I believe that in the years which have elapsed since the period which I speak of, the character of the Christ's Hospital boy is very little changed. Their situation in point of many comforts is improved; but that which I ventured before to term the public conscience of the school, the pervading moral sense, of which every mind partakes, and to which so many individual minds contribute, remains, I believe, pretty much the same as when I left it. I have seen within this twelvemonth almost the change which has been produced upon a boy of eight or nine years of age, upon being admitted into that school; how, from a pert young coxcomb, who thought that all knowledge was comprehended within his shallow brains, because a smattering of two or three languages and one or two sciences were stuffed into him by injudicious treatment at home, by a mixture with the wholesome society of so[Pg 167] many schoolfellows, in less time than I have spoken of, he has sunk to his own level, and is contented to be carried on in the quiet orb of modest self-knowledge in which the common mass of that unpresumptuous assemblage of boys seem to move: from being a little unfeeling mortal, he has got to feel and reflect. Nor would it be a difficult matter to shew how, at a school like this, where the boy is neither entirely separated from home, nor yet exclusively under its influence, the best feelings, the filial for instance, are brought to a maturity which they could not have attained under a completely domestic education; how the relation of parent is rendered less tender by unremitted association, and the very awfulness of age is best apprehended by some sojourning amidst the comparative levity of youth; how absence, not drawn out by too great extension into alienation or forgetfulness, puts an edge upon the relish of occasional intercourse, and the boy is made the better child by that which keeps the force of that relation from being felt as perpetually pressing on him; how the substituted paternity, into the care of which he is adopted, while in everything substantial it makes up for the natural, in the necessary omission of individual fondnesses and partialities, directs the mind only the more strongly to appreciate that natural and first tie, in which such weaknesses are the bond of strength, and the appetite which craves after them betrays no perverse palate. But these speculations rather belong to the question of the comparative advantages of a public over a private education in general. I must get back to my favourite school; and to that which took place when our old and good steward died.

[27] Under the denomination of gags.

[28] I am told that the late steward,[A] who evinced on many occasions a most praiseworthy anxiety to promote the comfort of the boys, had occasion for all his address and perseverance to eradicate the first of these unfortunate prejudices, in which he at length happily succeeded, and thereby restored to one-half of the animal nutrition of the school those honors which painful superstition and blind zeal had so long conspired to withhold from it.

[A] Mr. Hathaway.

And I will say, that when I think of the frequent instances which I have met with in children, of a hard-heartedness, a callousness, and insensibility to the loss of relations, even of those who have begot and nourished them, I cannot but consider it as a proof of something in the peculiar conformation of that school, favourable to the expansion of the best feelings of our nature, that, at the period which I am noticing, out of five hundred boys there was not a dry eye to be found among them, nor a heart that did not beat with genuine emotion. Every impulse to play, until the funeral day was past, seemed suspended throughout the school; and the boys, lately so mirthful and sprightly, were seen pacing their cloisters[Pg 168] alone, or in sad groupes standing about, few of them without some token, such as their slender means could provide, a black ribband, or something to denote respect and a sense of their loss. The time itself was a time of anarchy, a time in which all authority (out of school-hours) was abandoned. The ordinary restraints were for those days superseded; and the gates, which at other times kept us in, were left without watchers. Yet, with the exception of one or two graceless boys at most, who took advantage of that suspension of authority to skulk out, as it was called, the whole body of that great school kept rigorously within their bounds, by a voluntary self-imprisonment; and they who broke bounds, though they escaped punishment from any master, fell into a general disrepute among us, and, for that which at any other time would have been applauded and admired as a mark of spirit, were consigned to infamy and reprobation: so much natural government have gratitude and the principles of reverence and love, and so much did a respect to their dead friend prevail with these Christ's Hospital boys above any fear which his presence among them when living could ever produce. And if the impressions which were made on my mind so long ago are to be trusted, very richly did their steward deserve this tribute. It is a pleasure to me even now to call to mind his portly form, the regal awe which he always contrived to inspire, in spite of a tenderness and even weakness of nature that would have enfeebled the reins of discipline in any other master; a yearning of tenderness towards those under his protection, which could make five hundred boys at once feel towards him each as to their individual father. He had faults, with which we had nothing to do; but, with all his faults, indeed, Mr. Perry was a most extraordinary creature. Contemporary with him, and still living, though he has long since resigned his occupation, will it be impertinent to mention the name of our excellent upper grammar-master, the Rev. James Boyer? He was a disciplinarian, indeed, of a different stamp from him whom I have just described; but, now the terrors of the rod, and of a temper a little too hasty to leave the more nervous of us quite at our ease to do justice to his merits in those days, are long since over, ungrateful were we if we should refuse our testimony to that unwearied assiduity with which he attended to the particular improvement of each of us. Had we been the offspring of the first gentry in the land,[Pg 169] he could not have been instigated by the strongest views of recompense and reward to have made himself a greater slave to the most laborious of all occupations than he did for us sons of charity, from whom, or from our parents, he could expect nothing. He has had his reward in the satisfaction of having discharged his duty, in the pleasurable consciousness of having advanced the respectability of that institution to which, both man and boy, he was attached; in the honours to which so many of his pupils have successfully aspired at both our Universities; and in the staff with which the Governors of the Hospital at the close of his hard labours, with the highest expressions of the obligations the school lay under to him unanimously voted to present him.

I have often considered it among the felicities of the constitution of this school, that the offices of steward and schoolmaster are kept distinct; the strict business of education alone devolving upon the latter, while the former has the charge of all things out of school, the controul of the provisions, the regulation of meals, of dress, of play, and the ordinary intercourse of the boys. By this division of management, a superior respectability must attach to the teacher while his office is unmixed with any of these lower concerns. A still greater advantage over the construction of common boarding-schools is to be found in the settled salaries of the masters, rendering them totally free of obligation to any individual pupil or his parents. This never fails to have its effect at schools where each boy can reckon up to a hair what profit the master derives from him, where he views him every day in the light of a caterer, a provider for the family, who is to get so much by him in each of his meals. Boys will see and consider these things; and how much must the sacred character of preceptor suffer in their minds by these degrading associations! The very bill which the pupil carries home with him at Christmas, eked out, perhaps, with elaborate though necessary minuteness, instructs him that his teachers have other ends than the mere love to learning in the lessons which they give him; and though they put into his hands the fine sayings of Seneca or Epictetus, yet they themselves are none of those disinterested pedagogues to teach philosophy gratis. The master, too, is sensible that he is seen in this light; and how much this must lessen that affectionate regard to the learners which alone can sweeten the bitter labour of[Pg 170] instruction, and convert the whole business into unwelcome and uninteresting taskwork, many preceptors that I have conversed with on the subject are ready, with a sad heart, to acknowledge. From this inconvenience the settled salaries of the masters of this school in great measure exempt them; while the happy custom of chusing masters (indeed every officer of the establishment) from those who have received their education there, gives them an interest in advancing the character of the school, and binds them to observe a tenderness and a respect to the children, in which a stranger, feeling that independence which I have spoken of, might well be expected to fail.

In affectionate recollections of the place where he was bred up, in hearty recognitions of old school-fellows met with again after the lapse of years, or in foreign countries, the Christ's Hospital boy yields to none; I might almost say, he goes beyond most other boys. The very compass and magnitude of the school, its thousand bearings, the space it takes up in the imagination beyond the ordinary schools, impresses a remembrance, accompanied with an elevation of mind, that attends him through life. It is too big, too affecting an object, to pass away quickly from his mind. The Christ's Hospital boy's friends at school are commonly his intimates through life. For me, I do not know whether a constitutional imbecility does not incline me too obstinately to cling to the remembrances of childhood; in an inverted ratio to the usual sentiments of mankind, nothing that I have been engaged in since seems of any value or importance, compared to the colours which imagination gave to everything then. I belong to no body corporate such as I then made a part of.—And here, before I close, taking leave of the general reader, and addressing myself solely to my old school fellows, that were contemporaries with me from the year 1782 to 1789, let me have leave to remember some of those circumstances of our school, which they will not be unwilling to have brought back to their minds.

And first, let us remember, as first in importance in our childish eyes, the young men (as they almost were) who, under the denomination of Grecians, were waiting the expiration of the period when they should be sent, at the charges of the Hospital, to one or other of our Universities, but more frequently to Cambridge. These youths, from their superior[Pg 171] acquirements, their superior age and stature, and the fewness of their numbers, (for seldom above two or three at a time were inaugurated into that high order,) drew the eyes of all, and especially of the younger boys, into a reverent observance and admiration. How tall they used to seem to us!—how stately would they pace along the cloisters!—while the play of the lesser boys was absolutely suspended, or its boisterousness at least allayed, at their presence! Not that they ever beat or struck the boys—that would have been to have demeaned themselves—the dignity of their persons alone insured them all respect. The task of blows, of corporal chastisement, they left to the common monitors, or heads of wards, who, it must be confessed, in our time had rather too much licence allowed them to oppress and misuse their inferiors; and the interference of the Grecian, who may be considered as the spiritual power, was not unfrequently called for, to mitigate by its mediation the heavy unrelenting arm of this temporal power, or monitor. In fine, the Grecians were the solemn Muftis of the school. Æras were computed from their time;—it used to be said, such or such a thing was done when S—— or T—— was Grecian.

As I ventured to call the Grecians the Muftis of the school, the king's boys,[29] as their character then was, may well pass for the Janisaries. They were the terror of all the other boys; bred up under that hardy sailor, as well as excellent mathematician, and co-navigator with Captain Cook, William Wales. All his systems were adapted to fit them for the rough element which they were destined to encounter. Frequent and severe punishments, which were expected to be borne with more than Spartan fortitude, came to be considered less as inflictions of disgrace than as trials of obstinate endurance. To make his boys hardy, and to give them early sailor-habits, seemed to be his only aim; to this every thing was subordinate. Moral obliquities, indeed, were sure of receiving their full recompense, for no occasion of laying on the lash was ever let slip; but the effects expected to be produced from it were something very different from contrition or mortification. There was in William Wales a perpetual fund of humour, a constant glee about him, which,[Pg 172] heightened by an inveterate provincialism of North country-dialect, absolutely took away the sting from his severities. His punishments were a game at patience, in which the master was not always worst contented when he found himself at times overcome by his pupil. What success this discipline had, or how the effects of it operated upon the after-lives of these king's boys, I cannot say: but I am sure that, for the time, they were absolute nuisances to the rest of the school. Hardy, brutal, and often wicked, they were the most graceless lump in the whole mass; older and bigger than the other boys, (for, by the system of their education they were kept longer at school by two or three years than any of the rest, except the Grecians,) they were a constant terror to the younger part of the school; and some who may read this, I doubt not, will remember the consternation into which the juvenile fry of us were thrown, when the cry was raised in the cloisters, that the First Order was coming—for so they termed the first form or class of those boys. Still these sea-boys answered some good purposes in the school. They were the military class among the boys, foremost in athletic exercises, who extended the fame of the prowess of the school far and near; and the apprentices in the vicinage, and sometimes the butchers' boys in the neighbouring market, had sad occasion to attest their valour.

[29] The mathematical pupils, bred up to the sea, on the foundation of Charles the Second.

The time would fail me if I were to attempt to enumerate all those circumstances, some pleasant, some attended with some pain, which, seen through the mist of distance, come sweetly softened to the memory. But I must crave leave to remember our transcending superiority in those invigorating sports, leap-frog, and basting the bear; our delightful excursions in the summer holidays to the New River, near Newington, where, like otters, we would live the long day in the water, never caring for dressing ourselves when we had once stripped; our savoury meals afterwards, when we came home almost famished with staying out all day without our dinners; our visits at other times to the Tower, where, by antient privilege, we had free access to all the curiosities; our solemn processions through the City at Easter, with the Lord Mayor's largess of buns, wine, and a shilling, with the festive questions and civic pleasantries of the dispensing Aldermen, which were more to us than all the rest of the banquet; our stately suppings in public,[Pg 173] where the well-lighted hall, and the confluence of well-dressed company who came to see us, made the whole look more like a concert or assembly, than a scene of a plain bread and cheese collation; the annual orations upon St. Matthew's day, in which the senior scholar, before he had done, seldom failed to reckon up, among those who had done honour to our school by being educated in it, the names of those accomplished critics and Greek scholars, Joshua Barnes and Jeremiah Markland (I marvel they left out Camden while they were about it). Let me have leave to remember our hymns and anthems, and well-toned organ; the doleful tune of the burial anthem chanted in the solemn cloisters, upon the seldom-occurring funeral of some school-fellow; the festivities at Christmas, when the richest of us would club our stock to have a gaudy day, sitting round the fire, replenished to the height with logs, and the penniless, and he that could contribute nothing, partook in all the mirth, and in some of the substantialities of the feasting; the carol sung by night at that time of the year, which, when a young boy, I have so often lain awake to hear from seven (the hour of going to bed) till ten, when it was sung by the older boys and monitors, and have listened to it, in their rude chanting, till I have been transported in fancy to the fields of Bethlehem, and the song which was sung at that season by angels' voices to the shepherds.

Nor would I willingly forget any of those things which administered to our vanity. The hem-stitched bands, and town-made shirts, which some of the most fashionable among us wore; the town-girdles, with buckles of silver, or shining stone; the badges of the sea-boys; the cots, or superior shoe-strings of the monitors; the medals of the markers, (those who were appointed to hear the Bible read in the wards on Sunday morning and evening,) which bore on their obverse in silver, as certain parts of our garments carried in meaner metal, the countenance of our Founder, that godly and royal child, King Edward the Sixth, the flower of the Tudor name—the young flower that was untimely cropt as it began to fill our land with its early odours—the boy patron of boys—the serious and holy child who walked with Cranmer and Ridley—fit associate, in those tender years, for the bishops and future martyrs of our Church, to receive, or (as occasion sometimes proved,) to give instruction.

[Pg 174]

"But, ah! what means the silent tear?
Why, e'en mid joy, my bosom heave?
Ye long-lost scenes, enchantments dear!
Lo! now I linger o'er your grave.
——Fly, then, ye hours of rosy hue,
And bear away the bloom of years!
And quick succeed, ye sickly crew
Of doubts and sorrows, pains and fears!
Still will I ponder Fate's unalter'd plan,
Nor, tracing back the child, forget that I am man."[30]

[30] Lines meditated in the cloisters of Christ's Hospital, in the "Poetics" of Mr. George Dyer.




The Reynolds Gallery has upon the whole disappointed me. Some of the portraits are interesting. They are faces of characters whom we (middle-aged gentlemen) were born a little too late to remember, but about whom we have heard our fathers tell stories, till we almost fancy to have seen them. There is a charm in the portrait of a Rodney, or a Keppel, which even a picture of Nelson must want for me. I should turn away after a slight inspection from the best likeness that could be made of Mrs. Anne Clark; but Kitty Fisher is a considerable personage. Then the dresses of some of the women so exactly remind us of modes which we can just recall; of the forms under which the venerable relationships of aunt or mother first presented themselves to our young eyes; the aprons, the coifs, the lappets, the hoods. Mercy on us, what a load of head-ornaments seem to have conspired to bury a pretty face in the picture of Mrs. Long, yet could not! Beauty must have some "charmed life" to have been able to surmount the conspiracy of fashion in those days to destroy it. The portraits which least pleased me were those of boys as infant Bacchuses, Jupiters, &c. But[Pg 175] the Artist is not to be blamed for the disguise. No doubt the parents wished to see their children deified in their life-time. It was but putting a thunderbolt (instead of a squib) into young master's hands, and a whey-faced chit was transformed into the infant Ruler of Olympus, him who was afterwards to shake heaven and earth with his black brow. Another good boy pleased his grandmama with saying his prayers so well, and the blameless dotage of the good old woman imagined in him an adequate representative of the infancy of the awful prophet Samuel. But the great historical compositions, where the Artist was at liberty to paint from his own idea—the Beaufort and the Ugolino;—why then, I must confess, pleading the liberty of Table-Talk for my presumption, that they have not left any very elevating impressions upon my mind. Pardon a ludicrous comparison. I know, Madam, you admire them both; but placed opposite to each other as they are at the Gallery, as if to set the one work in competition with the other, they did remind me of the famous contention for the prize of deformity, mentioned in the 173d number of the Spectator. The one stares and the other grins; but is their common dignity in their countenances? Does any thing of the history of their life gone by peep through the ruins of the mind in the face, like the unconquerable grandeur that surmounts the distortions of the Laocoon?—The figures which stand by the bed of Beaufort are indeed happy representations of the plain unmannered old Nobility of the English Historical Plays of Shakspeare; but for any thing else,—give me leave to recommend these Macaroons.

After leaving the Reynolds Gallery, where, upon the whole, I received a good deal of pleasure, not feeling that I had quite had my fill of paintings, I stumbled upon a picture in Piccadilly (No. 22, I think), which purports to be a portrait of Francis the First by Leonardo da Vinci. Heavens, what a difference! It is but a portrait as most of those I had been seeing; but placed by them it would kill them, swallow them up as Moses's rod the other rods. Where did those old painters get their models? I see no such figures, not in my dreams, as this Francis, in the character, or rather with the attributes of John the Baptist. A more than mortal majesty in the brow and upon the eyelid—an arm muscular, beautifully formed—the long graceful massy fingers com[Pg 176]pressing, yet so as not to hurt, a lamb more lovely, more sweetly shrinking, than we can conceive that milk-white one which followed Una. The picture altogether looking as if it were eternal—combining the truth of flesh with a promise of permanence like marble.

Leonardo, from the one or two specimens we have of him in England, must have been a stupendous genius. I scarce can think he has had his full fame—he who could paint that wonderful personification of the Logos or third person of the Trinity, grasping a globe, late in the possession of Mr. Troward of Pall-Mall, where the hand was by the boldest licence twice as big as the truth of drawing warranted, yet the effect to every one that saw it, by some magic of genius, was confessed to be not monstrous, but miraculous and silencing. It could not be gainsaid.



The difference of the present race of actors from those I remember, seems to be, that less study is found necessary for the profession than was formerly judged to be requisite. Parsons and Dodd must have thought a good deal before they could have matured such exhibitions as their Foresight and Aguecheek. We do not want capable actors, but their end is answered with less pains. The way is to get a kind of familiarity with the audience, to strike up a kind of personal friendship, to be "hail fellow, well met," with them: those excellent comedians, Bannister and Dowton, who had least need of these arts, have not disdained to use them. You see a reciprocity of greeting and goodwill between them and the house at first entrance. It is amazing how much carelessness of acting slips in by this intercourse. After all, it is a good-natured fault, and a great many kindly feelings are generated in the galleries by this process, feelings which are better than criticism.—Russell's Jerry Sneak appears to me to be a piece of the richest colouring we have on the present stage in the comic line, if, indeed, it be entirely comic, for its effect on me, in some passages, is even pathetic. The innocent, good-natured tones with which Sneak makes his ineffectual appeals to the sympathy of the hard-hearted and[Pg 177] contemptuous betrayer of his honour, the Major; the slight dash of idiotism which the Actor contrives to throw into the part, (which Foote, I will venture to say, never dreamt of), but yet which has the happiest effect in turning what would be contempt, an ill-natured and heart-injuring passion, into pity and compassion; are some of the nicest effects of observation, and tend to unvulgarize the part, if I may be allowed the expression.—For a piece of pure drollery, Liston's Lord Grizzle has no competitor. Comedy it is not, nor farce. It is neither nature, nor exaggerated nature. It is a creation of the actor's own. Grizzle seems a being of another world, such an one as Nicolaus Klimius might have seen at the fantastic courts of his World under the Ground. It is an abstract idea of court qualities,—an apotheosis of apathy. Ben Jonson's abstractions of courtiers in his Cynthia's Revels and Every Man out of his Humour, what a treat it would be to see them on the stage done in the same manner!—What I most despair of is, seeing again a succession of such actresses as Mrs. Mattocks, Miss Pope, and Mrs. Jordan. This coquetting between the performer and the public is carried to a shocking excess by some of the Ladies who play the first characters in what is called genteel comedy. Instead of playing their pretty airs upon their lover on the stage, as Mrs. Abingdon or Mrs. Cibber were [was] content to do, or Mrs. Oldfield before them, their whole artillery of charms is now directed to ensnare—whom?—why, the whole audience—a thousand gentlemen, perhaps—for this many-headed beast they furl and unfurl their fan, and teach their lips to curl in smiles, and their bosoms exhibit such pretty instructive heavings. These personal applications, which used to be a sort of sauce-piquant for the pert epilogue, now give the standing relish to the whole play. I am afraid an actress who should omit them would not find her account in it. I am sure that the very absence of this fault in Miss Kelly, and her judicious attention to her part, with little or no reference to the spectators, is one cause why her varied excellencies, though they are beginning to be perceived, have yet found their way more slowly to the approbation of the public, than they have deserved. Two or three more such instances would reform the stage, and drive off the Glovers, the Johnstons, and the St. Legers. O! when shall we see a female part acted in the quiet, unappealing manner of[Pg 178] Miss Pope's Miss Candour? When shall we get rid of the Dalilahs of the stage?



Dull poetry is to me far more oppressive than the same quantity of dullness in prose. The act of attending to the metre is perfectly painful where there is nothing to repay one in the thought. Of heavy prose I can swallow a good dose. I do not know that I was ever deterred from reading through a book which I had begun, supposing the subject to be to my mind, except Patrick's Pilgrim. The freezing, appalling, petrifying dullness of that book is quite astounding. Yet is there one lively image in the preface, which an author in the present day might comfort himself by applying to his reviewers: "If the writer of these pages shall chance to meet with any that shall only study to cavil and pick a quarrel with him, he is prepared beforehand to take no notice of it, nor to be more troubled at their incivility, than a devout hermit is at the ugly faces which the creatures who something resemble men make at him as he is walking through the deserts." An amusing catalogue might be made of books which contain but one good passage. They would be a sort of single-speech Hamiltons; if Balaam's palfry might not be thought a more apt counterpart to them. Killigrew's play of the Parson's Wedding, which in length of massy dullness exceeds many books, is remarkable for one little spark of liveliness. The languishing fine lady of the piece exclaims most characteristically, upon coming in tired with walking: "I am glad I am come home, for I am e'en as weary with this walking. For God's sake, whereabouts does the pleasure of walking lie? I swear I have often sought it till I was weary, and yet I could ne'er find it."—Charron on Wisdom, a cumbrous piece of formality, which Pope's eulogium lately betrayed me into the perusal of, has one splendid passage; page 138, (I think) English translation. It contrasts the open honours with which we invest the sword, as the means of putting man out of the world, with the concealing and retiring circumstances that accompany his introduction into it. It is a piece of gorgeous and happy eloquence.—What could Pope mean by that line,[Pg 179]—"sage Montaigne, or more sage Charron?" Montaigne is an immense treasure-house of observation, anticipating all the discoveries of succeeding essayists. You cannot dip in him without being struck with the aphorism, that there is nothing new under the sun. All the writers on common life since him have done nothing but echo him. You cannot open him without detecting a Spectator, or starting a Rambler; besides that his own character pervades the whole, and binds it sweetly together. Charron is a mere piece of formality, scholastic dry bones, without sinew or living flesh.



Time and place give every thing its propriety. Strolling one day in the Twickenham meadows, I was struck with the appearance of something dusky upon the grass, which my eye could not immediately reduce into a shape. Going nearer, I discovered the cause of the phenomenon. In the midst of the most rural scene in the world, the day glorious over head, the wave of Father Thames rippling deliciously by him, lay outstretched at his ease upon Nature's verdant carpet—a chimney-sweeper—

——a spot like which
Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb
Through his glaz'd optic tube yet never saw.

There is no reason in nature why a chimney-sweeper should not indulge a taste for rural objects, but somehow the ideas were discordant. It struck upon me like an inartificial discord in music. It was a combination of urbs in rure, which my experience had not prepared me to anticipate.



It should seem almost impossible for a person to have arrived at the age of manhood, and never once to have heard or suspected that there have been people born before our times. Yet this fact I am obliged to conclude from the fragment of a conversation which I overheard between two of the[Pg 180] lower order of Irish, who passed me in Holborn the other day. One of them, it seems, had appealed in defence of his argument to the opinions or practice of their forefathers, for I heard the other exclaim "the ancients! who were they?"—"What!" retorted his companion, with an air of insolent superiority, "did you never hear of the ancients? did you never read of them?" They had got too far from me to hear the conclusion of their extraordinary discourse; but I have often thought that it would be amusing to register the sentences, and scraps of sentences, which one catches up in a day's walk about the town; I mean in the way of fair and honest listening, without way-laying one's neighbour for more than he would be willing to communicate. From these flying words, with the help of a little imagination, one might often piece out a long conversation foregone.



Where would a man of taste chuse his town residence, setting convenience out of the question? Palace-yard,—for its contiguity to the Abbey, the Courts of Justice, the Sittings of Parliament, Whitehall, the Parks, &c.,—I hold of all places in these two great cities of London and Westminster to be the most classical and eligible. Next in classicality, I should name the four Inns of Court: they breathe a learned and collegiate air; and of them chiefly,

——those bricky towers
The which on Thames' broad aged back doth ride,
Where now the studious Lawyers have their bowers;
There whilom wont the Templar Knights to bide,
Till they decay'd through pride—

as Spenser describes evidently with a relish. I think he had Garden Court in his eye. The noble hall which stands there must have been built about that time. Next to the Inns of Court, Covent-Garden, for its rus in urbe, its wholesome scents of early fruits and vegetables, its tasteful church and arcades,—above all, the neighbouring theatres, cannot but be approved of. I do not know a fourth station comparable to or worthy to be named after these. To an antiquarian, every spot in London, or even Southwark, teems with his[Pg 181]torical associations, local interest. He could not chuse amiss. But to me, who have no such qualifying knowledge, the Surrey side of the water is peculiarly distasteful. It is impossible to connect any thing interesting with it. I never knew a man of taste to live, what they term, over the bridge. Observe, in this place I speak solely of chosen and voluntary residence.



The beard of Gray's Bard, "streaming like a meteor," had always struck me as an injudicious imitation of the Satanic ensign in the Paradise Lost, which

——full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind:

till the other day I met with a passage in Heywood's old play, The Four Prentices of London, which it is difficult to imagine not to be the origin of the similitude in both poets. The line in Italics Gray has almost verbatim adopted—

In Sion towers hangs his victorious flag.
Blowing defiance this way; and its shews
Like a red meteor in the troubled air,
Or like a blazing comet that foretells
The fall of princes.

All here is noble, and as it should be. The comparison enlarges the thing compared without stretching it upon a violent rack, till it bursts with ridiculous explosion. The application of such gorgeous imagery to an old man's beard is of a piece with the Bardolfian bombast: "see you these meteors, these exhalations?" or the raptures of an Oriental lover, who should compare his mistress's nose to a watchtower or a steeple. The presageful nature of the meteor, which makes so fine an adjunct of the simile in Heywood, Milton has judiciously omitted, as less proper to his purpose; but he seems not to have overlooked the beauty of it, by his introducing the superstition in a succeeding book—

——like a comet burn'd,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
In th' artic sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes pestilence and war.
[Pg 182]



I have in my possession a curious volume of Latin verses, which I believe to be unique. It is entitled Alexandri Fultoni Scoti Epigrammatorum libri quinque. It purports to be printed at Perth, and bears date 1679. By the appellation which the author gives himself in the preface, hypodidasculus, I suppose him to have been usher at some school. It is no uncommon thing now a days for persons concerned in academies to affect a literary reputation in the way of their trade. The "master of a seminary for a limited number of pupils at Islington," lately put forth an edition of that scarce tract, the Elegy in a Country Churchyard (to use his own words), with notes and head-lines!—But to our author. These epigrams of Alexander Fulton, Scotchman, have little remarkable in them besides extreme dulness and insipidity; but there is one, which, by its being marshalled in the front of the volume, seems to have been the darling of its parent, and for its exquisite flatness, and the surprising stroke of anachronism with which it is pointed, deserves to be rescued from oblivion. It is addressed, like many of the others, to a fair one:—

Ad Mariulam suam Autor

Moverunt bella olim Helenæ decor atque venustas
Europen inter frugiferamque Asiam.
Tam bona, quam tu, tam prudens, sin illa fuisset,
Ad lites issent Africa et America!

Which, in humble imitation of mine author's peculiar poverty of stile, I have ventured thus to render into English:—

The Author to his Moggy

For love's illustrious cause, and Helen's charms,
All Europe and all Asia rush'd to arms.
Had she with these thy polish'd sense combin'd,
All Afric and America had join'd!

The happy idea of an American war undertaken in the cause of beauty ought certainly to recommend the author's memory to the countrymen of Madison and Jefferson; and the bold anticipation of the discovery of that Continent in the time of the Trojan War is a flight beyond the Sibyll's books.

[Pg 183]



The different way in which the same story may be told by different persons was never more strikingly illustrated than by the manner in which the celebrated Jeremy Collier has described the effects of Timotheus's music upon Alexander, in the Second Part of his Essays. We all know how Dryden has treated the subject. Let us now hear his great contemporary and antagonist:—"Timotheus, a Grecian," says Collier, "was so great a Master, that he could make a Man storm and swagger like a Tempest. And then, by altering the Notes and the Time, he would take him down again, and sweeten his Humour in a trice. One Time, when Alexander was at Dinner, this Man play'd him a Phrygian Air: The Prince immediately rises, snatches up his Lance, and puts himself into a Posture of Fighting. And the Retreat was no sooner sounded by the Change of the Harmony, but his Arms were grounded, and his Fire extinct; and he sat down as orderly as if he had come from one of Aristotle's Lectures. I warrant you Demosthenes would have been flourishing about such a Business a long Hour, and may be not have done it neither. But Timotheus had a nearer Cut to the Soul: He could neck a Passion at a Stroke, and lay it Asleep. Pythagoras once met with a Parcel of drunken Fellows, who were likely to be troublesome enough. He presently orders the Musick to play Grave, and chop into a Dorian: Upon this, they all threw away their Garlands, and were as sober and as shame-faced as one would wish."—It is evident that Dryden, in his inspired Ode, and Collier in all this pudder of prose, meant the same thing. But what a work does the latter make with his "necking a passion at his stroke," "making a man storm and swagger like a tempest," and then "taking him down and sweetening his humour in a trice." What in Dryden is "Softly sweet in Lydian measures," Collier calls "chopping into a Dorian."—This Collier was the same who, in his Biographical Dictionary, says of Shakespeare, that "though his genius generally was jocular, and inclining to festivity, yet he could when he pleased be as serious as any body."

[Pg 184]



I once sat in the Pit of Drury-lane Theatre next to a blind man, who, I afterwards learned, was a street musician, well known about London. The play was Richard the Third, and it was curious to observe the interest which he took in every successive scene, so far more lively than could be perceived in any of the company around him. At those pathetic interviews between the Queen and Duchess of York, after the murder of the children, his eyes (or rather the places where eyes should have been) gushed out tears in torrents, and he sat intranced in attention, while every one about him was tittering, partly at him, and partly at the grotesque figures and wretched action of the women, who had been selected by managerial taste to personate those royal mourners. Having no drawback of sight to impair his sensibilities, he simply attended to the scene, and received its unsophisticated impression. So much the rather her celestial light shone inward. I was pleased with an observation which he made, when I asked him how he liked Kemble, who played Richard. I should have thought (said he) that that man had been reading something out of a book, if I had not known that I was in a play-house.

I was once amused in a different way by a knot of country people who had come to see a play at that same Theatre. They seemed perfectly inattentive to all the best performers for the first act or two, though the piece was admirably played, but kept poring in the play-bill, and were evidently watching for the appearance of one, who was to be the source of supreme delight to them that night. At length the expected actor arrived, who happened to be in possession of a very insignificant part, not much above a mule [? mute]. I saw their faint attempt at raising a clap on his appearance, and their disappointment at not being seconded by the audience in general. I saw them try to admire and to find out something very wonderful in him, and wondering all the while at the moderate sensation he produced. I saw their pleasure and their interest subside at last into flat mortification, when the riddle was at once unfolded by my recollecting that this performer bore the same name with an[Pg 185] actor, then in the acme of his celebrity, at Covent-Garden, but who lately finished his theatrical and mortal career on the other side the Atlantic. They had come to see Mr. C——, but had come to the wrong house.

Is it a stale remark to say, that I have constantly found the interest excited at a play-house to bear an exact inverse proportion to the price paid for admission. Formerly, when my sight and hearing were more perfect, and my purse a little less so, I was a frequenter of the upper gallery in the old Theatres. The eager attention, the breathless listening, the anxiety not to lose a word, the quick anticipation of the significance of the scene (every sense kept as it were upon a sharp look out), which are exhibited by the occupiers of those higher and now almost out-of-sight regions (who, going seldom to a play, cannot afford to lose any thing by inattention), suffer some little diminution, as you descend to the lower or two-shilling ranks; but still the joy is lively and unallayed, save [that] by some little incursion of manners, the expression of it is expected to abate somewhat of its natural liveliness. The oaken plaudits of the trunkmaker would here be considered as going a little beyond the line.—In the pit first begins that accursed critical faculty, which, making a man the judge of his own pleasures, too often constitutes him the executioner of his own and others! You may see the jealousy of being unduly pleased, the suspicion of being taken in to admire; in short, the vile critical spirit, creeping and diffusing itself, and spreading from the wrinkled brows and cloudy eyes of the front row sages and newspaper reporters (its proper residence), till it infects and clouds over the thoughtless, vacant countenance, of John Bull tradesmen, and clerks of counting-houses, who, but for that approximation, would have been contented to have grinned without rule, and to have been pleased without asking why. The sitting next a critic is contagious. Still now and then, a genuine spectator is to be found among them, a shopkeeper and his family, whose honest titillations of mirth, and generous chucklings of applause, cannot wait or be at leisure to take the cue from the sour judging faces about them. Haply they never dreamed that there were such animals in nature as critics or reviewers; even the idea of an author may be a speculation they never entered into; but they take the mirth they find as a pure effusion of the actor-folks, set there on purpose to make them fun. I love the un[Pg 186]enquiring gratitude of such spectators. As for the Boxes, I never can understand what brings the people there. I see such frigid indifference, such unconcerned spectatorship, such impenetrability to pleasure or its contrary, such being in the house and yet not of it, certainly they come far nearer the nature of the Gods, upon the system of Lucretius at least, than those honest, hearty, well-pleased, unindifferent mortals above, who, from time immemorial, have had that name, upon no other ground than situation, assigned them.

Take the play-house altogether, there is a less sum of enjoyment than used to be. Formerly you might see something like the effect of a novelty upon a citizen, his wife and daughters, in the Pit; their curiosity upon every new face that entered upon the stage. The talk of how they got in at the door, and how they were crowded upon some former occasion, made a topic till the curtain drew up. People go too often now-a-days to make their ingress or egress of consequence. Children of seven years of age will talk as familiarly of the performers, aye and as knowingly (according to the received opinion) as grown persons; more than the grown persons in my time. Oh when shall I forget first seeing a play, at the age of five or six? It was Artaxerxes. Who played, or who sang in it, I know not. Such low ideas as actors' names, or actors' merits, never entered my head. The mystery of delight was not cut open and dissipated for me by those who took me there. It was Artaxerxes and Arbaces and Mandane that I saw, not Mr. Beard, or Mr. Leoni, or Mrs. Kennedy. It was all enchantment and a dream. No such pleasure has since visited me but in dreams. I was in Persia for the time, and the burning idol of their devotion in the Temple almost converted me into a worshipper. I was awe-struck, and believed those significations to be something more than elemental fires. I was, with Uriel, in the body of the sun.—What should I have gained by knowing (as I should have done, had I been born thirty years later) that that solar representation was a mere painted scene, that had neither fire nor light in itself, and that the royal phantoms, which passed in review before me, were but such common mortals as I could see every day out of my father's window? We crush the faculty of delight and wonder in children, by explaining every thing. We take them to the source of the Nile, and shew them the scanty runnings, instead of letting the begin[Pg 187]nings of that seven fold stream remain in impenetrable darkness, a mysterious question of wonderment and delight to ages.


By WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. London. 4to. pp. 447


The volume before us, as we learn from the Preface, is "a detached portion of an unfinished poem, containing views of man, nature, and society;" to be called the Recluse, as having for its principal subject the "sensations and opinions of a poet living in retirement;" and to be preceded by a "record in verse of the origin and progress of the author's own powers, with reference to the fitness which they may be supposed to have conferred for the task." To the completion of this plan we look forward with a confidence which the execution of the finished part is well calculated to inspire.—Meanwhile, in what is before us there is ample matter for entertainment: for the "Excursion" is not a branch (as might have been suspected) prematurely plucked from the parent tree to gratify an overhasty appetite for applause; but is, in itself, a complete and legitimate production.

It opens with the meeting of the poet with an aged man whom he had known from his school days; in plain words, a Scottish pedlar; a man who, though of low origin, had received good learning and impressions of the strictest piety from his stepfather, a minister and village schoolmaster. Among the hills of Athol, the child is described to have become familiar with the appearances of nature in his occupation as a feeder of sheep; and from her silent influences to have derived a character, meditative, tender, and poetical. With an imagination and feelings thus nourished—his intellect not unaided by books, but those, few, and chiefly of a religious cast—the necessity of seeking a maintenance in riper years, had induced him to make choice of a profession, the appellation for which has been gradually declining into contempt, but[Pg 188] which formerly designated a class of men, who, journeying in country places, when roads presented less facilities for travelling, and the intercourse between towns and villages was unfrequent and hazardous, became a sort of link of neighbourhood to distant habitations; resembling, in some small measure, in the effects of their periodical returns, the caravan which Thomson so feelingly describes as blessing the cheerless Siberian in its annual visitation, with "news of human kind."

In the solitude incident to this rambling life, power had been given him to keep alive that devotedness to nature which he had imbibed in his childhood, together with the opportunity of gaining such notices of persons and things from his intercourse with society, as qualified him to become a "teacher of moral wisdom." With this man, then, in a hale old age, released from the burthen of his occupation, yet retaining much of its active habits, the poet meets, and is by him introduced to a second character—a sceptic—one who had been partially roused from an overwhelming desolation, brought upon him by the loss of wife and children, by the powerful incitement of hope which the French Revolution in its commencement put forth, but who, disgusted with the failure of all its promises, had fallen back into a laxity of faith and conduct which induced at length a total despondence as to the dignity and final destination of his species. In the language of the poet, he

——broke faith with those whom he had laid
In earth's dark chambers,

Yet he describes himself as subject to compunctious visitations from that silent quarter.

——Feebly must They have felt,
Who, in old time, attired with snakes and whips
The vengeful Furies. Beautiful regards
Were turned on me—the face of her I loved;
The Wife and Mother; pitifully fixing
Tender reproaches, insupportable!—p. 133.

The conversations with this person, in which the Wanderer asserts the consolatory side of the question against the darker views of human life maintained by his friend, and finally calls to his assistance the experience of a village priest, the third, or rather fourth interlocutor, (for the poet himself is one,) form the groundwork of the "Excursion."

[Pg 189]

It will be seen by this sketch that the poem is of a didactic nature, and not a fable or story; yet it is not wanting in stories of the most interesting kind,—such as the lovers of Cowper and Goldsmith will recognise as something familiar and congenial to them. We might instance the Ruined Cottage, and the Solitary's own story, in the first half of the work; and the second half, as being almost a continued cluster of narration. But the prevailing charm of the poem is, perhaps, that, conversational as it is in its plan, the dialogue throughout is carried on in the very heart of the most romantic scenery which the poet's native hills could supply; and which, by the perpetual references made to it either in the way of illustration or for variety and pleasurable description's sake, is brought before us as we read. We breathe in the fresh air, as we do while reading Walton's Complete Angler; only the country about us is as much bolder than Walton's, as the thoughts and speculations, which form the matter of the poem, exceed the trifling pastime and low-pitched conversation of his humble fishermen. We give the description of the "two huge peaks," which from some other vale peered into that in which the Solitary is entertaining the poet and companion. "Those," says their host,

——if here you dwelt, would be
Your prized Companions.—Many are the notes
Which in his tuneful course the wind draws forth
From rocks, woods, caverns, heaths, and dashing shores;
And well those lofty Brethren bear their part
In the wild concert—chiefly when the storm
Rides high; then all the upper air they fill
With roaring sound, that ceases not to flow,
Like smoke, along the level of the blast
In mighty current; theirs, too, is the song
Of stream and headlong flood that seldom fails;
And in the grim and breathless hour of noon,
Methinks that I have heard them echo back
The thunder's greeting:—nor have Nature's laws
Left them ungifted with a power to yield
Music of finer frame; a harmony,
So do I call it, though it be the hand
Of silence, though there be no voice;—the clouds,
The mist, the shadows, light of golden suns,
Motions of moonlight, all come thither—touch,
And have an answer—thither come, and shape
A language not unwelcome to sick hearts
And idle spirits:—there the sun himself
At the calm close of summer's longest day
[Pg 190] Rests his substantial Orb;—between those heights
And on the top of either pinnacle,
More keenly than elsewhere in night's blue vault,
Sparkle the Stars as of their station proud.
Thoughts are not busier in the mind of man
Than the mute agent stirring there:—alone
Here do I sit and watch.—p. 84.

To a mind constituted like that of Mr. Wordsworth, the stream, the torrent, and the stirring leaf—seem not merely to suggest associations of deity, but to be a kind of speaking communication with it. He walks through every forest, as through some Dodona; and every bird that flits among the leaves, like that miraculous one[31] in Tasso, but in language more intelligent, reveals to him far higher lovelays. In his poetry nothing in Nature is dead. Motion is synonymous with life. "Beside yon spring," says the Wanderer, speaking of a deserted well, from which, in former times, a poor woman, who died heart-broken, had been used to dispense refreshment to the thirsty traveller,

——beside yon Spring I stood,
And eyed its waters till we seem'd to feel
One sadness, they and I. For them a bond
Of brotherhood is broken: time has been
When, every day, the touch of human hand
Dislodged the natural sleep that binds them up
In mortal stillness;—p. 27.


With partie coloured plumes and purple bill,
A woondrous bird among the rest there flew,
That in plaine speech sung love laies loud and shrill,
Her leden was like humaine language trew,
So much she talkt, and with such wit and skill,
That strange it seemed how much good she knew.
Fairefax's Translation [Book 16, Stanza 13].

To such a mind, we say—call it strength or weakness—if weakness, assuredly a fortunate one—the visible and audible things of creation present, not dim symbols, or curious emblems, which they have done at all times to those who have been gifted with the poetical faculty; but revelations and quick insights into the life within us, the pledge of immortality:—

——the whispering Air
Sends inspiration from the shadowy heights,
And blind recesses of the caverned rocks;
The little Rills, and Waters numberless,
Inaudible by day-light,
[Pg 191]

"I have seen," the poet says, and the illustration is an happy one:

——I have seen
A curious Child [who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground], applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipp'd Shell;
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely, and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for murmurings from within
Were heard,—sonorous cadences! whereby,
To his belief, the Monitor expressed
Mysterious union with its native Sea.
Even such a Shell the Universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith; and [there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it] doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things;
Of ebb and flow, and ever during power;
And central peace subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation.—p. 191.

Sometimes this harmony is imaged to us by an echo; and in one instance, it is with such transcendant beauty set forth by a shadow and its corresponding substance, that it would be a sin to cheat our readers at once of so happy an illustration of the poet's system, and so fair a proof of his descriptive powers.

Thus having reached a bridge, that overarched
The hasty rivulet where it lay becalmed
In a deep pool, by happy chance we saw
A two-fold Image; on a grassy bank
A snow-white Ram, and in the crystal flood
Another and the same! Most beautiful,
On the green turf, with his imperial front
Shaggy and bold, and wreathed horns superb,
The breathing Creature stood; as beautiful,
Beneath him, shewed his shadowy Counterpart.
Each had his glowing mountains, each his sky,
And each seemed centre of his own fair world:
Antipodes unconscious of each other,
Yet, in partition, with their several spheres,
Blended in perfect stillness, to our sight!—p. 407.

Combinations, it is confessed, "like those reflected in that quiet pool," cannot be lasting: it is enough for the purpose of the poet, if they are felt.—They are at least his system; and his readers, if they reject them for their creed, may receive them merely as poetry. In him, faith, in friendly alliance and conjunction with the religion of his country,[Pg 192] appears to have grown up, fostered by meditation and lonely communions with Nature—an internal principle of lofty consciousness, which stamps upon his opinions and sentiments (we were almost going to say) the character of an expanded and generous Quakerism.

From such a creed we should expect unusual results; and, when applied to the purposes of consolation, more touching considerations than from the mouth of common teachers. The finest speculation of this sort perhaps in the poem before us, is the notion of the thoughts which may sustain the spirit, while they crush the frame of the sufferer, who from loss of objects of love by death, is commonly supposed to pine away under a broken heart.

——If there be whose tender frames have drooped
Even to the dust; apparently, through weight
Of anguish unrelieved, and lack of power
An agonizing spirit to transmute,
Infer not hence a hope from those withheld
When wanted most; a confidence impaired
So pitiably, that, having ceased to see
With bodily eyes, they are borne down by love
Of what is lost, and perish through regret.
Oh! no, full oft the innocent Sufferer sees
Too clearly; feels too vividly; and longs
To realize the Vision with intense
And overconstant yearning—there—there lies
The excess, by which the balance is destroyed.
Too, too contracted are these walls of flesh,
This vital warmth too cold, these visual orbs,
Though inconceivably endowed, too dim
For any passion of the soul that leads
To extacy; and, all the crooked paths
Of time and change disdaining, takes its course
Along the line of limitless desires.—p. 148.

With the same modifying and incorporating power, he tells us,—

Within the soul a Faculty abides,
That with interpositions, which would hide
And darken, so can deal, that they become
Contingencies of pomp; and serve to exalt
Her native brightness. As the ample Moon,
In the deep stillness of a summer even
Rising behind a thick and lofty Grove,
Burns like an unconsuming fire of light,
In the green tree; and, kindling on all sides
Their leafy umbrage, turns the dusky veil
[Pg 193] Into a substance glorious as her own,
Yea with her own incorporated, by power
Capacious and serene. Like power abides
In Man's celestial Spirit; Virtue thus
Sets forth and magnifies herself; thus feeds
A calm, a beautiful, and silent fire,
From the incumbrances of mortal life,
From error, disappointment,—nay from guilt;
And sometimes, so relenting Justice wills,
From palpable oppressions of Despair.—p. 188.

This is high poetry; though (as we have ventured to lay the basis of the author's sentiments in a sort of liberal Quakerism) from some parts of it, others may, with more plausibility, object to the appearance of a kind of Natural Methodism: we could have wished therefore that the tale of Margaret had been postponed, till the reader had been strengthened by some previous acquaintance with the author's theory, and not placed in the front of the poem, with a kind of ominous aspect, beautifully tender as it is. It is a tale of a cottage, and its female tenant, gradually decaying together, while she expected the return of one whom poverty and not unkindness had driven from her arms. We trust ourselves only with the conclusion—

Nine tedious years;
From their first separation, nine long years,
She lingered in unquiet widowhood,
A Wife and Widow. [Needs must it have been
A sore heart-wasting!] I have heard, my Friend,
That in yon arbour oftentimes she sate
Alone, through half the vacant Sabbath-day;
And if a dog passed by she still would quit
The shade, and look abroad. On this old Bench
For hours she sate; and evermore her eye
Was busy in the distance, shaping things
That made her heart beat quick. You see that path,
[Now faint,—the grass has crept o'er its grey line;]
There, to and fro, she paced through many a day
Of the warm summer, from a belt of hemp
That girt her waist, spinning the long drawn thread
With backward steps. Yet ever as there pass'd
A man whose garments shew'd the Soldier's[32] red,
[Or crippled Mendicant in Sailor's garb],
The little Child who sate to turn the wheel
Ceas'd from his task; and she with faultering voice
Made many a fond enquiry; and when they,
Whose presence gave no comfort, were gone by,
Her heart was still more sad. And by yon gate,
[Pg 194] That bars the Traveller's road, she often stood,
And when a stranger Horseman came the latch
Would lift, and in his face look wistfully;
Most happy, if, from aught discovered there
Of tender feeling, she might dare repeat
The same sad question. Meanwhile her poor hut
Sank to decay: for he was gone—whose hand,
At the first nipping of October frost,
Closed up each chink, and with fresh bands of straw
Checquered the green-grown thatch. And so she lived
Through the long winter, reckless and alone;
Until her house by frost, and thaw, and rain,
Was sapped; and while she slept the nightly damps
Did chill her breast; and in the stormy day
Her tattered clothes were ruffled by the wind;
Even at the side of her own fire. Yet still
She loved this wretched spot, nor would for worlds
Have parted hence: and still that length of road,
And this rude bench, one torturing hope endeared,
Fast rooted at her heart: and here, my Friend,
In sickness she remains; and here she died,
Last human Tenant of these ruined Walls.—p. 44.

[32] Her husband had enlisted for a soldier.

The fourth book, entitled "Despondency Corrected," we consider as the most valuable portion of the poem. For moral grandeur; for wide scope of thought and a long train of lofty imagery; for tender personal appeals; and a versification which we feel we ought to notice, but feel it also so involved in the poetry, that we can hardly mention it as a distinct excellence; it stands without competition among our didactic and descriptive verse. The general tendency of the argument (which we might almost affirm to be the leading moral of the poem) is to abate the pride of the calculating understanding, and to reinstate the imagination and the affections in those seats from which modern philosophy has laboured but too successfully to expel them.

"Life's autumn past," says the grey-haired Wanderer,

——I stand on Winter's verge,
And daily lose what I desire to keep:
Yet rather would I instantly decline
To the traditionary sympathies
Of a most rustic ignorance, and take
A fearful apprehension from the owl
Or death-watch,—and as readily rejoice,
If two auspicious magpies crossed my way;
This rather would I do than see and hear
The repetitions wearisome of sense,
Where soul is dead, and feeling hath no place;—p. 168.
[Pg 195]

In the same spirit, those illusions of the imaginative faculty to which the peasantry in solitary districts are peculiarly subject, are represented as the kindly ministers of conscience:

——with whose service charged
They come and go, appear and disappear;
Diverting evil purposes, remorse
Awakening, chastening an intemperate grief,
Or pride of heart abating:

Reverting to more distant ages of the world, the operation of that same faculty in producing the several fictions of Chaldean, Persian, and Grecian idolatry, is described with such seductive power, that the Solitary, in good earnest, seems alarmed at the tendency of his own argument.—Notwithstanding his fears, however, there is one thought so uncommonly fine, relative to the spirituality which lay hid beneath the gross material forms of Greek worship, in metal or stone, that we cannot resist the allurement of transcribing it—

——triumphant o'er this pompous show
Of Art, this palpable array of Sense,
On every side encountered; in despite
Of the gross fictions, chaunted in the streets
By wandering Rhapsodists; and in contempt
Of doubt and bold denials hourly urged
Amid the wrangling Schools—a SPIRIT hung,
Beautiful Region! o'er thy Towns and Farms,
Statues and Temples, and memorial Tombs;
And emanations were perceived; and acts
Of immortality, in Nature's course,
Exemplified by mysteries, that were felt
As bonds, on grave Philosopher imposed
And armed Warrior; and in every grove
A gay or pensive tenderness prevailed
When piety more awful had relaxed.
"Take, running River, take these Locks of mine"—
Thus would the Votary say—"this severed hair,
My Vow fulfilling, do I here present,
Thankful for my beloved Child's return.
Thy banks, Cephissus, he again hath trod,
Thy murmurs heard; and drunk the chrystal lymph
With which thou dost refresh the thirsty lip,
And moisten all day long these flowery fields."
And doubtless, sometimes, when the hair was shed
Upon the flowing stream, a thought arose
Of Life continuous, Being unimpaired;
[Pg 196] That hath been, is, and where it was and is
There shall be,—seen, and heard, and felt, and known,
And recognized,—existence unexposed
To the blind walk of mortal accident;
From diminution safe and weakening age;
While Man grows old, and dwindles, and decays;
And countless generations of Mankind
Depart; and leave no vestige where they trod.—p. 173.

In discourse like this the first day passes away.—The second (for this almost dramatic poem takes up the action of two summer days) is varied by the introduction of the village priest; to whom the Wanderer resigns the office of chief speaker, which had been yielded to his age and experience on the first. The conference is begun at the gate of the church-yard; and after some natural speculations concerning death and immortality—and the custom of funereal and sepulchral observances, as deduced from a feeling of immortality—certain doubts are proposed respecting the quantity of moral worth existing in the world, and in that mountainous district in particular. In the resolution of these doubts, the priest enters upon a most affecting and singular strain of narration, derived from the graves around him. Pointing to hillock after hillock, he gives short histories of their tenants, disclosing their humble virtues, and touching with tender hand upon their frailties.

Nothing can be conceived finer than the manner of introducing these tales. With heaven above his head, and the mouldering turf at his feet—standing betwixt life and death—he seems to maintain that spiritual relation which he bore to his living flock, in its undiminished strength, even with their ashes; and to be in his proper cure, or diocese, among the dead.

We might extract powerful instances of pathos from these tales—the story of Ellen in particular—but their force is in combination, and in the circumstances under which they are introduced. The traditionary anecdote of the Jacobite and Hanoverian, as less liable to suffer by transplanting, and as affording an instance of that finer species of humour, that thoughtful playfulness in which the author more nearly perhaps than in any other quality resembles Cowper, we shall lay (at least a part of it) before our readers. It is the story of a whig who, having wasted a large estate in election contests, retired "beneath a borrowed name" to a small town among these northern mountains, where a Caledonian laird,[Pg 197] a follower of the house of Stuart, who had fled his country after the overthrow at Culloden, returning with the return of lenient times, had also fixed his residence.

——Here, then, they met,
Two doughty Champions; flaming Jacobite
And sullen Hanoverian! you might think
That losses and vexations, less severe
Than those which they had severally sustained,
Would have inclined each to abate his zeal
For his ungrateful cause; no,—I have heard
My reverend Father tell that, mid the calm
Of that small Town encountering thus, they filled
Daily its Bowling-green with harmless strife;
Plagued with uncharitable thoughts the Church;
And vexed the Market-place. But in the breasts
Of these Opponents gradually was wrought,
With little change of general sentiment,
Such change towards each other, that their days
By choice were spent in constant fellowship;
And if, at times, they fretted with the yoke,
Those very bickerings made them love it more.
A favourite boundary to their lengthened walks
This Church-yard was. And, whether they had come
Treading their path in sympathy and linked
In social converse, or by some short space
Discreetly parted to preserve the peace,
One Spirit seldom failed to extend its sway
Over both minds, when they awhile had marked
The visible quiet of this holy ground
And breathed its soothing air;——
[Seven lines omitted].
—There live who yet remember to have seen
Their courtly Figures,—seated on a stump
Of an old Yew, their favourite resting-place.
But, as the Remnant of the long-lived Tree
Was disappearing by a swift decay,
They, with joint care, determined to erect,
Upon its site, a Dial, which should stand
For public use; and also might survive
As their own private monument; for this
Was the particular spot, in which they wished
(And Heaven was pleased to accomplish their desire)
That, undivided their Remains should lie.
So, where the mouldered Tree had stood, was raised
Yon Structure, framing, with the ascent of steps
That to the decorated Pillar lead,
A work of art, more sumptuous, as might seem,
Than suits this Place; yet built in no proud scorn
[Pg 198] Of rustic homeliness; they only aimed
To ensure for it respectful guardianship.
Around the margin of the Plate, whereon
The Shadow falls, to note the stealthy hours,
Winds an inscriptive Legend,——At these words
Thither we turned; and gathered, as we read,
The appropriate sense, in Latin numbers couched.
"Time flies; it is his melancholy task
To bring, and bear away, delusive hopes,
And re-produce the troubles he destroys.
But, while his blindness thus is occupied.
Discerning Mortal! do thou serve the will
Of Time's eternal Master, and that peace,
Which the World wants, shall be for Thee confirmed."—pp. 270-3.

The causes which have prevented the poetry of Mr. Wordsworth from attaining its full share of popularity are to be found in the boldness and originality of his genius. The times are past when a poet could securely follow the direction of his own mind into whatever tracts it might lead. A writer, who would be popular, must timidly coast the shore of prescribed sentiment and sympathy. He must have just as much more of the imaginative faculty than his readers, as will serve to keep their apprehensions from stagnating, but not so much as to alarm their jealousy. He must not think or feel too deeply.

If he has had the fortune to be bred in the midst of the most magnificent objects of creation, he must not have given away his heart to them; or if he have, he must conceal his love, or not carry his expressions of it beyond that point of rapture, which the occasional tourist thinks it not overstepping decorum to betray, or the limit which that gentlemanly spy upon Nature, the picturesque traveller, has vouchsafed to countenance. He must do this, or be content to be thought an enthusiast.

If from living among simple mountaineers, from a daily intercourse with them, not upon the footing of a patron, but in the character of an equal, he has detected, or imagines that he has detected, through the cloudy medium of their unlettered discourse, thoughts and apprehensions not vulgar; traits of patience and constancy, love unwearied, and heroic endurance, not unfit (as he may judge) to be made the subject of verse, he will be deemed a man of perverted genius by the philanthropist who, conceiving of the peasantry of his country only as objects of a pecuniary sympathy, starts at finding them elevated to a level of humanity with himself,[Pg 199] having their own loves, enmities, cravings, aspirations, &c., as much beyond his faculty to believe, as his beneficence to supply.

If from a familiar observation of the ways of children, and much more from a retrospect of his own mind when a child, he has gathered more reverential notions of that state than fall to the lot of ordinary observers, and, escaping from the dissonant wranglings of men, has tuned his lyre, though but for occasional harmonies, to the milder utterance of that soft age,—his verses shall be censured as infantile by critics who confound poetry "having children for its subject" with poetry that is "childish," and who, having themselves perhaps never been children, never having possessed the tenderness and docility of that age, know not what the soul of a child is—how apprehensive! how imaginative! how religious!

We have touched upon some of the causes which we conceive to have been unfriendly to the author's former poems. We think they do not apply in the same force to the one before us. There is in it more of uniform elevation, a wider scope of subject, less of manner, and it contains none of those starts and imperfect shapings which in some of this author's smaller pieces offended the weak, and gave scandal to the perverse. It must indeed be approached with seriousness. It has in it much of that quality which "draws the devout, deterring the profane." Those who hate the Paradise Lost will not love this poem. The steps of the great master are discernible in it; not in direct imitation or injurious parody, but in the following of the spirit, in free homage and generous subjection.

One objection it is impossible not to foresee. It will be asked, why put such eloquent discourse in the mouth of a pedlar? It might be answered that Mr. Wordsworth's plan required a character in humble life to be the organ of his philosophy. It was in harmony with the system and scenery of his poem. We read Piers Plowman's Creed, and the lowness of the teacher seems to add a simple dignity to the doctrine. Besides, the poet has bestowed an unusual share of education upon him. Is it too much to suppose that the author, at some early period of his life, may himself have known such a person, a man endowed with sentiments above his situation, another Burns; and that the dignified strains which he has attributed to the Wanderer may be no more than[Pg 200] recollections of his conversation, heightened only by the amplification natural to poetry, or the lustre which imagination flings back upon the objects and companions of our youth? After all, if there should be found readers willing to admire the poem, who yet feel scandalized at a name, we would advise them, wherever it occurs, to substitute silently the word Palmer, or Pilgrim, or any less offensive designation, which shall connect the notion of sobriety in heart and manners with the experience and privileges which a wayfaring life confers.


(1814. Text of 1818)

Sedet, æternumque sedebit,
Infelix Theseus.————Virgil.

That there is a professional melancholy, if I may so express myself, incident to the occupation of a tailor, is a fact which I think very few will venture to dispute. I may safely appeal to my readers, whether they ever knew one of that faculty that was not of a temperament, to say the least, far removed from mercurial or jovial.

Observe the suspicious gravity of their gait. The peacock is not more tender, from a consciousness of his peculiar infirmity, than a gentleman of this profession is of being known by the same infallible testimonies of his occupation. "Walk, that I may know thee."

Do you ever see him go whistling along the foot-path like a carman, or brush through a crowd like a baker, or go smiling to himself like a lover? Is he forward to thrust into mobs, or to make one at the ballad-singer's audiences? Does he not rather slink by assemblies and meetings of the people, as one that wisely declines popular observation?

How extremely rare is a noisy tailor! a mirthful and obstreperous tailor!

"At my nativity," says Sir Thomas Browne, "my ascendant was the earthly sign of Scorpius; I was born in the planetary hour of Saturn, and I think I have a piece of that[Pg 201] leaden planet in me." One would think that he were anatomizing a tailor! save that to the latter's occupation, methinks, a woollen planet would seem more consonant, and that he should be born when the sun was in Aries.—He goes on. "I am no way facetious, nor disposed for the mirth and galliardize of company." How true a type of the whole trade! Eminently economical of his words, you shall seldom hear a jest come from one of them. He sometimes furnishes subject for a repartee, but rarely (I think) contributes one ore proprio.

Drink itself does not seem to elevate him, or at least to call out of him any of the external indications of vanity. I cannot say that it never causes his pride to swell, but it never breaks out. I am even fearful that it may swell and rankle to an alarming degree inwardly. For pride is near of kin to melancholy;—a hurtful obstruction from the ordinary outlets of vanity being shut. It is this stoppage which engenders proud humours. Therefore a tailor may be proud. I think he is never vain. The display of his gaudy patterns in that book of his which emulates the rainbow, never raises any inflations of that emotion in him, corresponding to what the wigmaker (for instance) evinces, when he expatiates on a curl or a bit of hair. He spreads them forth with a sullen incapacity for pleasure, a real or affected indifference to grandeur. Cloth of gold neither seems to elate, nor cloth of frize to depress him—according to the beautiful motto which formed the modest impresse of the shield worn by Charles Brandon at his marriage with the King's sister. Nay, I doubt whether he would discover any vain-glorious complacence in his colours, though "Iris" herself "dipt the woof."

In further corroboration of this argument—who ever saw the wedding of a tailor announced in the newspapers, or the birth of his eldest son?

When was a tailor known to give a dance, or to be himself a good dancer, or to perform exquisitely on the tight rope, or to shine in any such light and airy pastimes? to sing, or play on the violin?

Do they much care for public rejoicings, lightings up, ringing of bells, firing of cannons, &c.?

Valiant I know they can be; but I appeal to those who were witnesses to the exploits of Eliot's famous troop, whether in their fiercest charges they betrayed any thing of that thoughtless oblivion of death with which a Frenchman jigs[Pg 202] into battle, or whether they did not shew more of the melancholy valour of the Spaniard, upon whom they charged; that deliberate courage which contemplation and sedentary habits breathe?

Are they often great newsmongers?—I have known some few among them arrive at the dignity of speculative politicians; but that light and cheerful every-day interest in the affairs and goings-on of the world, which makes the barber[33] such delightful company, I think is rarely observable in them.

[33] Having incidentally mentioned the barber, in a comparison of professional temperaments, I hope no other trade will take offence, or look upon it as an incivility done to them, if I say, that in courtesy, humanity, and all the conversational and social graces which "gladden life," I esteem no profession comparable to his. Indeed so great is the goodwill which I bear to this useful and agreeable body of men, that, residing in one of the Inns of Court (where the best specimens of them are to be found, except perhaps at the universities) there are seven of them to whom I am personally known, and who never pass me without the compliment of the hat on either side. My truly polite and urbane friend, Mr. A——m, of Flower-de-luce-court, in Fleet-street, will forgive my mention of him in particular. I can truly say, that I never spent a quarter of an hour under his hands without deriving some profit from the agreeable discussions, which are always going on there.

This characteristic pensiveness in them being so notorious, I wonder none of those writers, who have expressly treated of melancholy, should have mentioned it. Burton, whose book is an excellent abstract of all the authors in that kind who preceded him, and who treats of every species of this malady, from the hypochondriacal or windy to the heroical or love melancholy, has strangely omitted it. Shakspeare himself has overlooked it. "I have neither the scholar's melancholy (saith Jaques) which is emulation; nor the courtier's, which is proud; nor the soldier's, which is politick; nor the lover's, which is all these:"—and then, when you might expect him to have brought in, "nor the tailor's, which is so and so"—he comes to an end of his enumeration, and falls to a defining of his own melancholy.

Milton likewise has omitted it, where he had so fair an opportunity of bringing it in, in his Penseroso.

But the partial omissions of historians proving nothing against the existence of any well-attested fact, I shall proceed and endeavour to ascertain the causes why this pensive turn should be so predominant in people of this profession above all others.

[Pg 203]

And first, may it not be, that the custom of wearing apparel being derived to us from the fall, and one of the most mortifying products of that unhappy event, a certain seriousness (to say no more of it) may in the order of things have been intended to be impressed upon the minds of that race of men to whom in all ages the care of contriving the human apparel has been entrusted,—to keep up the memory of the first institution of clothes, and serve as a standing remonstrance against those vanities, which the absurd conversion of a memorial of our shame into an ornament of our persons was destined to produce? Correspondent in some sort to this, it may be remarked, that the tailor sitting over a cave or hollow place, in the cabbalistic language of his order, is said to have certain melancholy regions always open under his feet.—But waving further enquiry into final causes, where the best of us can only wander in the dark, let us try to discover the efficient causes of this melancholy.

I think, then, that they may be reduced to two, omitting some subordinate ones, viz.,

The sedentary habits of the tailor.—
Something peculiar in his diet.—

First, his sedentary habits.—In Dr. Norris's famous narrative of the frenzy of Mr. John Dennis, the patient, being questioned as to the occasion of the swelling in his legs, replies that it came "by criticism;" to which the learned doctor seeming to demur, as to a distemper which he had never read of, Dennis (who appears not to have been mad upon all subjects) rejoins with some warmth, that it was no distemper, but a noble art! that he had sat fourteen hours a day at it: and that the other was a pretty doctor not to know that there was a communication between the brain and the legs.

When we consider that this sitting for fourteen hours continuously, which the critic probably practised only while he was writing his "remarks," is no more than what the tailor, in the ordinary pursuance of his art, submits to daily (Sundays excepted) throughout the year, shall we wonder to find the brain affected, and in a manner over-clouded, from that indissoluble sympathy between the noble and less noble parts of the body, which Dennis hints at? The unnatural and painful manner of his sitting must also greatly aggravate the evil, insomuch that I have sometimes ventured to liken tailors[Pg 204] at their boards to so many envious Junos, sitting cross-legged to hinder the birth of their own felicity. The legs transversed thus X cross-wise, or decussated, was among the ancients the posture of malediction. The Turks, who practise it at this day, are noted to be a melancholy people.

Secondly, his diet.—To which purpose I find a most remarkable passage in Burton, in his chapter entitled "Bad diet a cause of melancholy." "Amongst herbs to be eaten (he says) I find gourds, cucumbers, melons, disallowed; but especially CABBAGE. It causeth troublesome dreams, and sends up black vapours to the brain. Galen, loc. affect. lib. 3, cap. 6, of all herbs condemns CABBAGE. And Isaack, lib. 2, cap. 1, animæ gravitatem facit, it brings heaviness to the soul." I could not omit so flattering a testimony from an author, who, having no theory of his own to serve, has so unconsciously contributed to the confirmation of mine. It is well known that this last-named vegetable has, from the earliest periods which we can discover, constituted almost the sole food of this extraordinary race of people.

Burton, Junior.




To the Editor of The British Lady's Magazine

MR. EDITOR,—In early life I passed eleven years in the exercise of my needle for a livelihood. Will you allow me to address your readers, among whom might perhaps be found some of the kind patronesses of my former humble labours, on a subject widely connected with female life—the state of needlework in this country.

To lighten the heavy burthen which many ladies impose upon themselves is one object which I have in view: but, I[Pg 205] confess, my strongest motive is to excite attention towards the industrious sisterhood to which I once belonged.

From books I have been informed of the fact, upon which "The British Lady's Magazine" chiefly founds its pretensions, namely, that women have of late been rapidly advancing in intellectual improvement. Much may have been gained in this way, indirectly, for that class of females for whom I wish to plead. Needlework and intellectual improvement are naturally in a state of warfare. But I am afraid the root of the evil has not as yet been struck at. Workwomen of every description were never in so much distress for want of employment.

Among the present circle of my acquaintance I am proud to rank many that may truly be called respectable; nor do the female part of them, in their mental attainments, at all disprove the prevailing opinion of that intellectual progression which you have taken as the basis of your work; yet I affirm that I know not a single family where there is not some essential drawback to its comfort which may be traced to needle-work done at home, as the phrase is for all needle-work performed in a family by some of its own members, and for which no remuneration in money is received or expected.

In money alone, did I say? I would appeal to all the fair votaries of voluntary housewifery, whether, in the matter of conscience, any one of them ever thought she had done as much needle-work as she ought to have done. Even fancy work, the fairest of the tribe!—how delightful the arrangement of her materials! the fixing upon her happiest pattern, how pleasing an anxiety! how cheerful the commencement of the labour she enjoins! But that lady must be a true lover of the art, and so industrious a pursuer of a predetermined purpose, that it were pity her energy should not have been directed to some wiser end, who can affirm she neither feels weariness during the execution of a fancy piece, nor takes more time than she had calculated for the performance.

Is it too bold an attempt to persuade your readers that it would prove an incalculable addition to general happiness, and the domestic comfort of both sexes, if needle-work were never practised but for a remuneration in money? As nearly, however, as this desirable thing can be effected, so much more nearly will women be upon an equality with men, as far as respects the mere enjoyment of life. As far[Pg 206] as that goes, I believe it is every woman's opinion that the condition of men is far superior to her own.

"They can do what they like," we say. Do not these words generally mean, they have time to seek out whatever amusements suit their tastes? We dare not tell them we have no time to do this; for, if they should ask in what manner we dispose of our time, we should blush to enter upon a detail of the minutiæ which compose the sum of a woman's daily employment. Nay, many a lady who allows not herself one quarter of an hour's positive leisure during her waking hours, considers her own husband as the most industrious of men, if he steadily pursue his occupation till the hour of dinner, and will be perpetually lamenting her own idleness.

Real business and real leisure make up the portions of men's time—two sources of happiness which we certainly partake of in a very inferior degree. To the execution of employment, in which the faculties of the body or mind are called into busy action, there must be a consoling importance attached, which feminine duties (that generic term for all our business) cannot aspire to.

In the most meritorious discharges of those duties, the highest praise we can aim at is to be accounted the helpmates of man; who, in return for all he does for us, expects, and justly expects, us to do all in our power to soften and sweeten life.

In how many ways is a good woman employed, in thought or action, through the day, in order that her good man may be enabled to feel his leisure hours real substantial holyday, and perfect respite from the cares of business! Not the least part to be done to accomplish this end is to fit herself self to become a conversational companion; that is to say, she has to study and understand the subjects on which he loves to talk. This part of our duty, if strictly performed, will be found by far our hardest part. The disadvantages we labour under from an education differing from a manly one make the hours in which we sit and do nothing in men's company too often any thing but a relaxation; although, as to pleasure and instruction, time so passed may be esteemed more or less delightful.

To make a man's home so desirable a place as to preclude his having a wish to pass his leisure hours at any fireside in[Pg 207] preference to his own, I should humbly take to be the sum and substance of woman's domestic ambition. I would appeal to our British ladies, who are generally allowed to be the most zealous and successful of all women in the pursuit of this object,—I would appeal to them who have been most successful in the performance of this laudable service, in behalf of father, son, husband, or brother, whether an anxious desire to perform this duty well is not attended with enough of mental exertion, at least, to incline them to the opinion that women may be more properly ranked among the contributors to, than the partakers of, the undisturbed relaxation of man.

If a family be so well ordered that the master is never called in to its direction, and yet he perceives comfort and economy well attended to, the mistress of that family (especially if children form a part of it) has, I apprehend, as large a share of womanly employment as ought to satisfy her own sense of duty; even though the needle-book and thread-case were quite laid aside, and she cheerfully contributed her part to the slender gains of the corset-maker, the milliner, the dress-maker, the plain-worker, the embroidress, and all the numerous classifications of females supporting themselves by needle-work, that great staple commodity which is alone appropriated to the self-supporting part of our sex.

Much has been said and written on the subject of men engrossing to themselves every occupation and calling. After many years of observation and reflection, I am obliged to acquiesce in the notion that it cannot well be ordered otherwise.

If at the birth of girls it were possible to foresee in what cases it would be their fortune to pass a single life, we should soon find trades wrested from their present occupiers, and transferred to the exclusive possession of our sex. The whole mechanical business of copying writings in the law department, for instance, might very soon be transferred with advantage to the poorer sort of women, who with very little teaching would soon beat their rivals of the other sex in facility and neatness. The parents of female children, who were known to be destined from their birth to maintain themselves through, the whole course of their lives with like certainty as their sons are, would feel it a duty incumbent[Pg 208] on themselves to strengthen the minds, and even the bodily constitutions, of their girls, so circumstanced, by an education which, without affronting the preconceived habits of society, might enable them to follow some occupation now considered above the capacity or too robust for the constitution of our sex. Plenty of resources would then lie open for single women to obtain an independent livelihood, when every parent would be upon the alert to encroach upon some employment, now engrossed by men, for such of their daughters as would then be exactly in the same predicament as their sons now are. Who, for instance, would lay by money to set up his sons in trade; give premiums, and in part maintain them through a long apprenticeship; or, which men of moderate incomes frequently do, strain every nerve in order to bring them up to a learned profession; if it were in a very high degree probable that, by the time they were twenty years of age, they would be taken from this trade or profession, and maintained during the remainder of their lives by the person whom they should marry. Yet this is precisely the situation in which every parent, whose income does not very much exceed the moderate, is placed with respect to his daughters.

Even where boys have gone through a laborious education, superinducing habits of steady attention, accompanied with the entire conviction that the business which they learn is to be the source of their future distinction, may it not be affirmed that the persevering industry required to accomplish this desirable end causes many a hard struggle in the minds of young men, even of the most hopeful disposition? What then must be the disadvantages under which a very young woman is placed who is required to learn a trade, from which she can never expect to reap any profit, but at the expence of losing that place in society, to the possession of which she may reasonably look forward, inasmuch as it is by far the most common lot, namely, the condition of a happy English wife?

As I desire to offer nothing to the consideration of your readers but what, at least as far as my own observation goes, I consider as truths confirmed by experience, I will only say that, were I to follow the bent of my own speculative opinion, I should be inclined to persuade every female over whom I hoped to have any influence to contribute all the assistance[Pg 209] in her power to those of her own sex who may need it, in the employments they at present occupy, rather than to force them into situations now filled wholly by men. With the mere exception of the profits which they have a right to derive from their needle, I would take nothing from the industry of man which he already possesses.

"A penny saved is a penny earned," is a maxim not true, unless the penny be saved in the same time in which it might have been earned. I, who have known what it is to work for money earned, have since had much experience in working for money saved; and I consider, from the closest calculation I can make, that a penny saved in that way bears about a true proportion to a farthing earned. I am no advocate for women, who do not depend on themselves for a subsistence, proposing to themselves to earn money. My reasons for thinking it not advisable are too numerous to state—reasons deduced from authentic facts, and strict observations on domestic life in its various shades of comfort. But, if the females of a family, nominally supported by the other sex, find it necessary to add something to the common stock, why not endeavour to do something by which they may produce money in its true shape?

It would be an excellent plan, attended with very little trouble, to calculate every evening how much money has been saved by needle-work done in the family, and compare the result with the daily portion of the yearly income. Nor would it be amiss to make a memorandum of the time passed in this way, adding also a guess as to what share it has taken up in the thoughts and conversation. This would be an easy mode of forming a true notion, and getting at the exact worth of this species of home industry, and perhaps might place it in a different light from any in which it has hitherto been the fashion to consider it.

Needle-work, taken up as an amusement, may not be altogether unamusing. We are all pretty good judges of what entertains ourselves, but it is not so easy to pronounce upon what may contribute to the entertainment of others. At all events, let us not confuse the motives of economy with those of simple pastime. If saving be no object, and long habit have rendered needle-work so delightful an avocation that we cannot think of relinquishing it, there are the good old contrivances in which our grand-dames were used[Pg 210] to beguile and lose their time—knitting, knotting, netting, carpet working, and the like ingenious pursuits—those so-often-praised but tedious works, which are so long in the operation, that purchasing the labour has seldom been thought good economy, yet, by a certain fascination, they have been found to chain down the great to a self-imposed slavery, from which they considerately, or haughtily, excuse the needy. These may be esteemed lawful and lady-like amusements. But, if those works, more usually denominated useful, yield greater satisfaction, it might be a laudable scruple of conscience, and no bad test to herself of her own motive, if a lady, who had no absolute need, were to give the money so saved to poor needle-women belonging to those branches of employment from which she has borrowed these shares of pleasurable labour.



(? 1815. Text of 1818)

The poems of G. Wither are distinguished by a hearty homeliness of manner, and a plain moral speaking. He seems to have passed his life in one continued act of an innocent self-pleasing. That which he calls his Motto is a continued self-eulogy of two thousand lines, yet we read it to the end without any feeling of distaste, almost without a consciousness that we have been listening all the while to a man praising himself. There are none of the cold particles in it, the hardness and self-ends which render vanity and egotism hateful. He seems to be praising another person, under the mask of self; or rather we feel that it was indifferent to him where he found the virtue which he celebrates; whether another's bosom, or his own, were its chosen receptacle. His poems are full, and this in particular is one downright confession, of a generous self-seeking. But by[Pg 211] self he sometimes means a great deal,—his friends, his principles, his country, the human race.

Whoever expects to find in the satirical pieces of this writer any of those peculiarities which pleased him in the satires of Dryden or Pope, will be grievously disappointed. Here are no high-finished characters, no nice traits of individual nature, few or no personalities. The game run down is coarse general vice, or folly as it appears in classes. A liar, a drunkard, a coxcomb, is stript and whipt; no Shaftesbury, no Villiers, or Wharton, is curiously anatomized, and read upon. But to a well-natured mind there is a charm of moral sensibility running through them which amply compensates the want of those luxuries. Wither seems every where bursting with a love of goodness and a hatred of all low and base actions.—At this day it is hard to discover what parts in the poem here particularly alluded to, Abuses Stript and Whipt, could have occasioned the imprisonment of the author. Was Vice in High Places more suspicious than now? had she more power; or more leisure to listen after ill reports? That a man should be convicted of a libel when he named no names but Hate, and Envy, and Lust, and Avarice, is like one of the indictments in the Pilgrim's Progress, where Faithful is arraigned for having "railed on our noble Prince Beelzebub, and spoken contemptibly of his honourable friends, the Lord Old Man, the Lord Carnal Delight, and the Lord Luxurious." What unlucky jealousy could have tempted the great men of those days to appropriate such innocent abstractions to themselves!

Wither seems to have contemplated to a degree of idolatry his own possible virtue. He is for ever anticipating persecution and martyrdom; fingering, as it were, the flames, to try how he can bear them. Perhaps his premature defiance sometimes made him obnoxious to censures, which he would otherwise have slipped by.

The homely versification of these Satires is not likely to attract in the present day. It is certainly not such as we should expect from a poet "soaring in the high region of his fancies with his garland and his singing robes about him;"[34] nor is it such as he has shown in his Philarete, and in some parts in his Shepherds Hunting. He seems to have adopted this dress with voluntary humility, as fittest for a moral teacher,[Pg 212] as our divines chuse sober grey or black; but in their humility consists their sweetness. The deepest tone of moral feeling in them, (though all throughout is weighty, earnest and passionate) is in those pathetic injunctions against shedding of blood in quarrels, in the chapter entitled Revenge. The story of his own forbearance, which follows, is highly interesting. While the Christian sings his own victory over Anger, the Man of Courage cannot help peeping out to let you know, that it was some higher principle than fear which counselled his forbearance.

[34] Milton.

Whether encaged, or roaming at liberty, Wither never seems to have abated a jot of that free spirit, which sets its mark upon his writings, as much as a predominant feature of independence impresses every page of our late glorious Burns; but the elder poet wraps his proof-armour closer about him, the other wears his too much outwards; he is thinking too much of annoying the foe, to be quite easy within; the spiritual defences of Wither are a perpetual source of inward sunshine, the magnanimity of the modern is not without its alloy of soreness, and a sense of injustice, which seems perpetually to gall and irritate. Wither was better skilled in the "sweet uses of adversity," he knew how to extract the "precious jewel" from the head of the "toad," without drawing any of the "ugly venom" along with it.—The prison notes of Wither are finer than the wood notes of most of his poetical brethren. The description in the Fourth Eglogue of his Shepherds Hunting (which was composed during his imprisonment in the Marshalsea) of the power of the Muse to extract pleasure from common objects, has been oftener quoted, and is more known, than any part of his writings. Indeed the whole Eglogue is in a strain so much above not only what himself, but almost what any other poet has written, that he himself could not help noticing it; he remarks, that his spirits had been raised higher than they were wont "through the love of poesy."—The praises of Poetry have been often sung in ancient and in modern times; strange powers have been ascribed to it of influence over animate and inanimate auditors; its force over fascinated crowds has been acknowledged; but, before Wither, no one ever celebrated its power at home, the wealth and the strength which this divine gift confers upon its possessor. Fame, and that too after death, was all which hitherto the poets had prom[Pg 213]ised themselves from their art. It seems to have been left to Wither to discover, that poetry was a present possession, as well as a rich reversion; and that the Muse had promise of both lives, of this, and of that which was to come.

The Mistress of Philarete is in substance a panegyric protracted through several thousand lines in the mouth of a single speaker, but diversified, so as to produce an almost dramatic effect, by the artful introduction of some ladies, who are rather auditors than interlocutors in the scene; and of a boy, whose singing furnishes pretence for an occasional change of metre: though the seven syllable line, in which the main part of it is written, is that in which Wither has shown himself so great a master, that I do not know that I am always thankful to him for the exchange.

Wither has chosen to bestow upon the lady whom he commends, the name of Arete, or Virtue; and, assuming to himself the character of Philarete, or Lover of Virtue, there is a sort of propriety in that heaped measure of perfections, which he attributes to this partly real, partly allegorical, personage. Drayton before him had shadowed his mistress under the name of Idea, or Perfect Pattern, and some of the old Italian love-strains are couched in such religious terms as to make it doubtful, whether it be a mistress, or Divine Grace, which the poet is addressing.

In this poem (full of beauties) there are two passages of pre-eminent merit. The first is where the lover, after a flight of rapturous commendation, expresses his wonder why all men that are about his mistress, even to her very servants, do not view her with the same eyes that he does.

Sometime I do admire,
All men burn not with desire;
Nay I muse her servants are not
Pleading love; but O! they dare not.
And I therefore wonder, why
They do not grow sick and die.
Sure they would do so, but that,
By the ordinance of fate,
There is some concealed thing
So each gazer limiting,
He can see no more of merit
Than beseems his worth and spirit,
For in her a grace there shines,
That o'er-daring thoughts confines;
Making worthless men despair
To be lov'd of one so fair.
Yea the destinies agree,
Some good judgments blind should be,
And not gain the power of knowing
Those rare beauties in her growing.
Reason doth as much imply:
For if every judging eye,
Which beholdeth her, should there
Find what excellencies are;
All, o'ercome by those perfections,
Would be captive to affections.
So in happiness unblest,
She for lovers should not rest.
[Pg 214]

The other is, where he has been comparing her beauties to gold, and stars, and the most excellent things in nature; and, fearing to be accused of hyperbole, the common charge against poets, vindicates himself by boldly taking upon him, that these comparisons are no hyperboles; but that the best things in nature do, in a lover's eye, fall short of those excellencies which he adores in her.

What pearls, what rubies can
Seem so lovely fair to man,
As her lips whom he doth love,
When in sweet discourse they move,
Or her lovelier teeth, the while
She doth bless him with a smile?
Stars indeed fair creatures be;
Yet amongst us where is he
Joys not more the whilst he lies
Sunning in his mistress' eyes.
Than in all the glimmering light
Of a starry winter's night?
Note the beauty of an eye—
And if aught you praise it by
Leave such passion in your mind,
Let my reason's eye be blind.
Mark if ever red or white
Any where gave such delight,
As when they have taken place
In a worthy woman's face.

I must praise her as I may,
Which I do mine own rude way;
Sometime setting forth her glories
By unheard of allegories—&c.

To the measure in which these lines are written, the wits of Queen Anne's days contemptuously gave the name of Namby Pamby, in ridicule of Ambrose Philips, who has used it in some instances, as in the lines on Cuzzoni, to my feeling at least, very deliciously; but Wither, whose darling measure it seems to have been, may shew, that in skilful hands it is capable of expressing the subtilest movements of passion. So true it is, which Drayton seems to have felt, that it is the poet who modifies the metre, not the metre the poet; in his own words, that

It's possible to climb;
To kindle, or to slake;
Altho' in Skelton's rhime.[35]

[35] "A long line is a line we are long repeating. In the Shepherds Hunting take the following—

"If thy verse doth bravely tower,
As she makes wing, she gets power;
Yet the higher she doth soar,
She's affronted still the more,
'Till she to the high'st hath past,
Then she rests with fame at last.

what longer measure can go beyond the majesty of this! what Alexandrine is half so long in pronouncing or expresses labor slowly but strongly surmounting difficulty with the life with which it is done in the second of these lines? or what metre could go beyond these, from Philarete

"Her true beauty leaves behind
Apprehensions in my mind
Of more sweetness, than all art
Or inventions can impart.
Thoughts too deep to be express'd,
And too strong to be suppress'd."
[Pg 215]



Olympic Theatre


This Theatre, fitted up with new and tasteful decorations, opened on Monday with a burletta founded upon a pleasant extravagance recorded of Wilmot the "mad Lord" of Rochester. The house, in its renovated condition, is just what play-houses should be, and once were, from its size admirably adapted for seeing and hearing, and only perhaps rather too well lit up. Light is a good thing, but to preserve the eyes is still better. Elliston and Mrs. Edwin personated a reigning wit and beauty of the Court of Charles the Second to the life. But the charm of the evening to us, we confess, was the acting of Mrs. T. Gould (late Miss Burrell) in the burlesque Don Giovanni which followed. This admirable piece of foolery takes up our hero just where the legitimate drama leaves him, on the "burning marl." We are presented with a fair map of Tartarus, the triple-headed cur, the Furies, the Tormentors, and the Don, prostrate, thunder-smitten. But there is an elasticity in the original make of this strange man, as Richardson would have called him. He is not one of those who change with the change of climate. He brings with him to his new habitation ardours as glowing and constant as any which he finds there. No sooner is he recovered from his first surprise, than he falls to his old trade, is caught "ogling Proserpine," and coquets with two she devils at once, till he makes the house too hot to hold him; and Pluto (in whom a wise jealousy seems to produce the effects of kindness) turns him neck[Pg 216] and heels out of his dominions,—much to the satisfaction of Giovanni, who stealing a boat from Charon, and a pair of light heels from Mercury, or (as he familiarly terms him) Murky, sets off with flying colours, conveying to the world above the souls of three damsels, just eloped from Styx, to comfort his tender and new-born spiritualities on the journey. Arrived upon earth (with a new body, we are to suppose, but his old habits) he lights a-propos upon a tavern in London, at the door of which three merry weavers, widowers, are trouling a catch in triumph over their deceased spouses—

They lie in yonder church-yard
At rest—and so are we.

Their departed partners prove to be the identical lady ghosts who have accompanied the Don in his flight, whom he now delivers up in perfect health and good plight, not a jot the worse for their journey, to the infinite surprise, and consternation ill-dissembled, of their ill-fated, twice-yoked mates. The gallantries of the Don in his second state of probation, his meeting with Leporello, with Donna Anna, and a countless host of injured virgins besides, doing penance in the humble occupation of apple-women, fishwives and sausage-fryers, in the purlieus of Billinsgate and Covent-garden, down to the period of his complete reformation, and being made an honest man of, by marrying into a sober English citizen's family, although infinitely pleasant in the exhibition, would be somewhat tedious in the recital: but something must be said of his representative.

We have seen Mrs. Jordan in male characters, and more ladies beside than we would wish to recollect—but never any that so completely answered the purpose for which they were so transmuted, as the Lady who enacts the mock Giovanni. This part, as it is played at the Great House in the Haymarket (Shade of Mozart, and ye living admirers of Ambrogetti, pardon the barbarity) had always something repulsive and distasteful to us.—We cannot sympathize with Leporello's brutal display of the list, and were shocked (no strait-laced moralists either) with the applauses, with the endurance we ought rather to say, which fashion and beauty bestowed upon that disgustful insult to feminine unhappiness. The Leporello of the Olympic Theatre is not one of the most refined order, but we can bear with an English blackguard better than with the hard[Pg 217] Italian. But Giovanni—free, fine, frank-spirited, single-hearted creature, turning all the mischief into fun as harmless as toys, or children's make-believe, what praise can we repay to you, adequate to the pleasure which you have given us? We had better be silent, for you have no name, and our mention will but be thought fantastical. You have taken out the sting from the evil thing, by what magic we know not, for there are actresses of greater mark and attribute than you. With you and your Giovanni our spirits will hold communion, whenever sorrow or suffering shall be our lot. We have seen you triumph over the infernal powers; and pain, and Erebus, and the powers of darkness, are henceforth "shapes of a dream."



Dear G.—— I was thinking yesterday of our old play-going days, of your and my partiality to Mrs. Jordan; of our disputes as to the relative merits of Dodd and Parsons; and whether Smith or Jack Palmer, were the most of a Gentleman. The occasion of my falling into this train of thinking was my learning from the newspapers that Miss Kelly is paying the Bath Theatre a visit. (Your own Theatre, I am sorry to find, is shut up, either from parsimonious feelings, or through the influence of —— principles.[36]) This lady has long ranked among the most considerable of our London performers. If there are one or two of greater name, I must impute it to the circumstance, that she has never burst upon the town at once in the maturity of her power; which is a great advantage to debutantes, who have passed their probationary years in Provincial Theatres. We do not hear them tuning their instruments. But she has been winning her patient way from the humblest gradations to the eminence which she has now attained, on the self same boards which supported her first in the slender pretensions of chorus-singer. I very much wish that you would go and see her. You will not see Mrs. Jordan, but something else; something on the whole very little, if at all, inferior to that lady, in her best days. I cannot hope that[Pg 218] you will think so; I do not even wish that you should. Our longest remembrances are the most sacred; and I shall revere the prejudice, that shall prevent you from thinking quite so favorably of her as I do.—I do not well know how to draw a parallel between their distinct manners of acting. I seem to recognize the same pleasantness and nature in both: but Mrs. Jordan's was the carelessness of a child; her child-like spirit shook off the load of years from her spectators; she seemed one whom care could not come near; a privileged being, sent to teach mankind what it most wants, joyousness. Hence, if we had more unmixed pleasure from her performances, we had, perhaps, less sympathy with them than with those of her successor. This latter lady's is the joy of a freed spirit, escaping from care, as a bird that had been limed; her smiles, if I may use the expression, seemed saved out of the fire, relics which a good and innocent heart had snatched up as most portable; her contents are visitors, not inmates: she can lay them by altogether; and when she does so, I am not sure that she is not greatest. She is, in truth, no ordinary tragedian. Her Yarico is the most intense piece of acting which I ever witnessed, the most heart-rending spectacle. To see her leaning upon that wretched reed, her lover—the very exhibition of whose character would be a moral offence, but for her clinging and noble credulity—to see her lean upon that flint, and by the strong workings of passion imagine it a god—is one of the most afflicting lessons of the yearnings of the human heart and its sad mistakes, that ever was read upon a stage. The whole performance is every where African, fervid, glowing. Nor is this any thing more than the wonderful force of imagination in this performer; for turn but the scene, and you shall have her come forward in some kindly home-drawn character of an English rustic, a Phœbe, or a Dinah Cropley, where you would swear that her thoughts had never strayed beyond the precincts of the dairy, or the farm; or her mind known less tranquil passions than she might have learned among the flock, her out-of-door companions. See her again in parts of pure fun, such as the House-maid in the Merry Mourners, where the suspension of the broom in her hand, which she had been delightfully twirling, on unexpectedly encountering her sweetheart in the character of a fellow-servant, is quite equal to Mrs. Jordan's cordial inebriation in Nell.—I do not know whether I am not speaking it to her[Pg 219] honor, that she does not succeed in what are called fine lady parts. Our friend C. once observed, that no man of genius ever figured as a gentleman. Neither did any woman, gifted with Mrs. Jordan's or Miss Kelly's sensibilities, ever take upon herself to shine as a fine lady, the very essence of this character consisting in the entire repression of all genius and all feeling. To sustain a part of this kind to the life, a performer must be haunted by a perpetual self-reference: she must be always thinking of herself, and how she looks, and how she deports herself in the eyes of the spectators; whereas the delight of actresses of true feeling, and their chief power, is to elude the personal notice of an audience, to escape into their parts, and hide themselves under the hood of their assumed character. Their most graceful self-possession is in fact a self-forgetfulness; an oblivion alike of self and of spectators. For this reason your most approved epilogue-speakers have been always ladies who have possessed least of this self-forgetting quality; and I think I have seen the amiable actress in question suffering some embarrassment, when she has had an address of this sort to deliver; when she found the modest veil of personation, which had half hid her from the audience, suddenly withdrawn, and herself brought without any such qualifying intervention before the public.

[36] The word here omitted by the Bristol Editor, we suppose, is methodistical (Leigh Hunt in The Examiner).

I should apologise for the length of this letter, if I did not remember the lively interest you used to take in theatrical performances.—I am, &c. &c.,

* * * *.



The Jovial Crew or the Merry Beggars has been revived here [the English Opera] after an interval, as the bills tell us, of seven years. Can it be so long (it seems but yesterday) since we saw poor Lovegrove in Justice Clack? his childish treble still pipes in our ears: "Whip 'em, whip 'em, whip 'em." Dowton was the representative of the Justice the other night, and shook our ribs most incontinently. He was in "excellent foolery," and our lungs crowed chanticleer. Yet it appears to us, that there was a still higher strain of fatuity in his predecessor—that his eyes distilled a richer[Pg 220] dotage. Perhaps after all it was an error of the memory. Defunct merit comes out upon us strangely.

Easy natural Wrench was the Springlove; too comfortable a personage perhaps to personify Springlove, in whom the voice of the bird awakens a restless instinct of roaming that had slept during the winter. Miss Stevenson certainly leaves us nothing to regret for the absence of the Lady, however agreeable, who formerly performed the part of Meriel. Miss Stevenson is a fine open-countenanced lass, with glorious girlish manners. But the Princess of Mumpers, and Lady Paramount, of beggarly counterfeit accents, was she that played Rachel. Her gabbling lachrymose petitions; her tones, such as we have heard by the side of old woods, when an irresistible face has come peeping on one on a sudden; with her full black locks, and a voice—how shall we describe it?—a voice that was by nature meant to convey nothing but truth and goodness, but warped by circumstance into an assurance that she is telling us a lie—that catching twitch of the thievish irreproveable finger—those ballad-singers' notes, so vulgar, yet so unvulgar—that assurance, so like impudence, and yet so many countless leagues removed from it—her jeers, which we had rather stand, than be caressed with other ladies' compliments, a summer's day long—her face, with a wild out-of-door's grace upon it—

Altogether, a brace of more romantic she-beggars it was never our fortune to meet in this supplicatory world. The youngest might have sate for "pretty Bessy," whose father was an Earl, and whose legend still adorns the front of mine Hostess's doors at Bethnal-Green; and the other could be no less than the "Beggar Maid" whom "King Cophetua wooed." "What a lass that were," said a stranger who sate beside us, speaking of Miss Kelly in Rachel, "to go a gipseying through the world with." We confess we longed to drop a tester in her lap, she begged so masterly.

By the way, this is the true Beggar's Opera. The other should have been called the Mirror for Highwaymen. We wonder the Societies for the Suppression of Mendicity (and other good things) do not club for the putting down of this infamous protest in favour of air, and clear liberty, and honest license, and blameless assertion of man's original blest charter of blue skies, and vagrancy, and nothing-to-do.

* * * *.

[Pg 221]



By one of those strange perversities which actuate poor mortals in the place of motives (to persuade us into the notion that we are free agents, we presume), we had never till the other evening seen Dowton in Doctor Cantwell. By a pious fraud of Mr. Arnold's, who, by a process as simple as some of those by which Mathews metamorphoses his person, has converted the play into an opera,—a conversion, by the way, for which we are highly indebted to him,—we have been favoured with this rich novelty at our favourite theatre. It seems a little unreasonable to come lagging in with a posthumous testimony to the merits of a performance of which the town has long rung, but we cannot help remarking in Mr. Dowton's acting, the subtil gradations of the hypocrisy; the length to which it runs in proportion as the recipient is capable of taking it in; the gross palpable way in which he adminsters the dose in wholesale to old Lady Lambert, that rich fanatic; the somewhat more guarded manner in which he retails it out, only so much at a time as he can bear, to the somewhat less bitten fool her son; and the almost absence of it, before the younger members of the family, when nobody else is by: how the cloven foot peeps out a little and a little more, till the diabolical nature is stung out at last into full manifestation of its horrid self. What a grand insolence in the tone which he assumes, when he commands Sir John to quit his house! and then the tortures and agonies when he is finally baffled! It is in these last perhaps that he is greatest, and we should be doing injustice not to compare this part of the performance with, and in some respects to give it the preference above, the acting of Mr. Kean in a situation nearly analogous, at the conclusion of the City Madam. Cantwell reveals his pangs with quite as much force, and without the assistance of those contortions which transform the detected Luke into the similitude of a mad tiger, or a foaming demon. Dowton plays it neither like beast nor demon, but simply as it should be, a bold bad man pushed to extremity. Humanity is never once overstepped. Has it ever been noticed, the exquisite modulation with which he drawls out the word Charles, when he calls his secretary,[Pg 222] so humble, so seraphic, so resigned. The most diabolical of her sex that we ever knew accented all her honey devil words in just such a hymn-like smoothness. The spirit of Whitfield seems hovering in the air, to suck in the blessed tones, so much like his own upon earth: Lady Huntingdon claps her neat white wings, and gives it out again in heaven to the sainted ones, in approbation.

Miss Kelly is not quite at home in Charlotte; she is too good for such parts. Her cue is to be natural; she cannot put on the modes of artificial life, and play the coquet as it is expected to be played. There is a frankness in her tones which defeats her purposes: we could not help wondering why her lover (Mr. Pearman) looked so rueful; we forgot that she was acting airs and graces, as she seemed to forget it herself, turning them into a playfulness which could breed no doubt for a moment which way her inclinations ran. She is in truth not framed to tease or torment even in jest, but to utter a hearty Yes or No; to yield or refuse assent with a noble sincerity. We have not the pleasure of being acquainted with her, but we have been told that she carries the same cordial manners into private life. We have heard, too, of some virtues which she is in the practice of; but they are of a description which repay themselves, and with them neither we nor the public have any thing to do.

One word about Wrench, who played the Colonel:—Was this man never unhappy? It seems as if care never came near him, as if the black ox could never tread upon his foot; we want something calamitous to befal him, to bring him down to us. It is a shame he should be suffered to go about with his well-looking happy face and tones, insulting us thin race of irritable and irritable-making critics.

* * * *.



A plot has broke out at this theatre. Some quarrel has been breeding between the male and female performers, and the women have determined to set up for themselves. Seven of them, Belles without Beaux they call themselves, have undertaken to get up a piece without any assistance from the[Pg 223] men, and in our opinion have established their point most successfully. There is Miss Carew with her silvery tones, and Miss Stevenson with her delicious mixture of the school-girl and the waiting-maid, and Miss Kelly sure to be first in any mischief, and Mrs. Chatterly with some of the best acting we have ever witnessed, and Miss Love, worthy of the name, and Mrs. Grove that rhymes to her, and Mrs. Richardson who might in charity have been allowed somewhat a larger portion of the dialogue. The effect was enchanting. We mean, for once. We do not want to encourage these Amazonian vanities. Once or twice we longed to have Wrench bustling among them. A lady who sate near us was observed to gape for want of variety. To us it was delicate quintessence, an apple-pye made all of quinces. We remember poor Holcroft's last Comedy, which positively died from the opposite excess; it was choked up with men, and perished from a redundancy of male population. It had nine principal men characters in it, and but one woman, and she of no very ambiguous character. Mrs. Harlow, to do the part justice, chose to play it in scarlet.

We did not know Mrs. Chatterly's merits before; she plays, with downright sterling good acting, a prude who is to be convinced out of her prudery by Miss Kelly's (we did not catch her stage-name) assumption of the dress and character of a brother of seventeen, who makes the prettiest unalarming Platonic approaches; and in the shyest mask of moral battery, no one step of which you can detect, or say this is decidedly going too far, vanquishes at last the ice of her scruples, brings her into an infinite scrape, and then with her own infinite good humour sets all to right, and brings her safe out of it again with an explanation. Mrs. Chatterly's embarrassments were masterly. Miss Stevenson her maid's start, at surprising a youth in her mistress's closet at midnight, was quite as good. Miss Kelly we do not care to say any thing about, because we have been accused of flattering her. The truth is, this lady puts so much intelligence and good sense into every part which she plays, that there is no expressing an honest sense of her merits, without incurring a suspicion of that sort. But what have we to gain by praising Miss Kelly?

Altogether this little feminine republic, this provoking experiment, went off most smoothly. What a nice world it[Pg 224] would be, we sometimes think, all women! but then we are afraid we slip in a fallacy unawares into the hypothesis; we somehow edge in the idea of ourselves as spectators or something among them.

We saw Wilkinson after it in Walk for a Wager. What a picture of Forlorn Hope! of abject orphan destitution! he seems to have no friends in the world but his legs, and he plies them accordingly. He goes walking on like a perpetual motion. His continual ambulatory presence performs the part of a Greek chorus. He is the walking Gentleman of the piece; a Peripatetic that would make a Stoic laugh. He made us cry. His Muffincap in Amateurs and Actors is just such another piece of acting. We have seen charity boys, both of St. Clement's and Farringdon without, looking just as old, ground down out of all semblance of youth, by abject and hopeless neglect—you cannot guess their age between fifteen and fifty. If Mr. Peak is the author of these pieces, he has no reason to be piqued at their reception.

We must apologize for an oversight in our last week's article. The allusion made to Mr. Kean's acting of Luke in the City Madam was totally inapplicable to the part and to the play. We were thinking of his performance of the concluding scenes of the New Way to Pay Old Debts. We confounded one of Massinger's strange heroes with the other. It was Sir Giles Overreach we meant; nor are we sure that our remark was just, even with this explanation. When we consider the intense tone, in which Mr. Kean thinks it proper (and he is quite as likely to be in the right as his blundering critic) to pitch the temperament of that monstrous character from the beginning, it follows but logically and naturally, that where the wild uncontrollable man comes to be baffled of his purpose, his passions should assume a frenzied manner, which it was altogether absurd to expect should be the same with the manner of the cautious and self-restraining Cantwell, even when he breaks loose from all bonds in the agony of his final exposure. We never felt more strongly the good sense of the saying,—Comparisons are odious. They betray us not seldom into bitter errors of judgment; and sometimes, as in the present instance, into absolute matter of fact blunders. But we have recanted.

* * * *.

[Pg 225]





Original Letters, &c., of Sir John Falstaff and his Friends; now first made public by a Gentleman, a descendant of Dame Quickly, from genuine MSS. which have been in the possession of the Quickly Family near four hundred years. London: Robinsons, 1796

A copy of this work sold at the Roxburgh sale for five guineas. We have both before and since that time picked it up at stalls for eighteen pence. Reader, if you shall ever light upon a copy in the same way, we counsel you to buy it. We are deceived if there be not in it much of the true Shakspearian stuff. We present you with a few of the Letters, which may speak for themselves:—

Falstaff to the Prince

"I pr'ythee, Hal, lend me thy 'kerchief. An thy unkindness have not started more salt gouts down my poor old cheek, than my good rapier hath of blood from foemen's gashes in five and thirty years' service, then am I a very senseless mummy. I squander away in drinkings monies belonging to the soldiery! I do deny it—they have had part—the surplus is gone in charity—accuse the parish officers—make them restore—the whoreson wardens do now put on the cloak of supplication at the church doors, intercepting gentlemen for charity, forsooth!—'Tis a robbery, a villainous robbery! to come upon a gentleman reeking with piety, God's book in his hand, brimfull of the sacrament! Thou knowest, Hal, as I am but man, I dare in some sort leer at the plate and pass, but as I have the body and blood of Christ within me, could I do it? An I did not make an oblation of a matter of ten pound after the battle of Shrewsbury, in humble gratitude for thy safety, Hal, then am I the[Pg 226] veriest transgressor denounced in God's code. But I'll see them damned ere I'll be charitable again. Let 'em coin the plate—let them coin the holy chalice...."

The Same to the Same

"Ha! ha! ha! And dost thou think I would not offer up ten pound for thee? yea, a hundred—more—but take heed of displeasing in thy sacrifice. Cain did bring a kid, yea, a firstling upon the altar, and the blaze ascended not. Abel did gather simple herbs, penny-royal, Hal, and mustard, a fourpenny matter, and the odour was grateful. I had ten pound for the holy offertory—mine ancient Pistol doth know it—but the angel did arrest my hand. Could I go beyond the word?—the angel which did stretch forth his finger, lest the good patriarch should slay his son.—That Ned Poins hath more colours than a jay, more abuse than a taught pie, and for wit—the cuckow's dam may be Fool of the Court to him. I lie down at Shrewsbury out of base fear! I melt into roods, and acres, and poles! I tell thee what, Hal, there's not a subject in the land hath half my temperance of valour.—Did I not see thee combating the man-queller, Hotspur; yea, in peril of subduement? Was it for me to lose my sweet Hal without a thrust, having my rapier, my habergion, my good self about me? I did lie down in the hope of sherking him in the rib—four drummers and a fifer did help me to the ground:—didst thou not mark how I did leer upon thee from beneath my buckler? That Poins hath more scurrility than is in a whole flock of disquieted geese.

"For the rebels I did conceal, thou should'st give me laud. I did think thou wert already encompassed with more enemies than the resources of men could prevent overwhelming thee: yea, that thou wert the dove on the waters of Ararat, and didst lack a resting-place. Was it for me to heap to thy manifold disquiets? Was it for me to fret thee with the advice of more enemies than thou didst already know of? I could not take their lives, and therefore did I take their monies. I did fine them, lest they should scape, Hal, thou dost understand me, without chastisement; yea, I fined them for a punishment. They did make oath on the point of my sword to be true men:[Pg 227]—an the rogues forswore themselves, and joined the Welchman, let them look to it—'tis no 'peachment of my virtue...."


"Oh! I am setting on a nest of the most unfledged cuckows that ever brooded under the wing of hawk. Thou must know, Hal, I had note of a good hale recruit or two in this neighbourhood. In other shape came I not; look to it, Master Shallow, that in other shape I depart not. But I know thou art ever all desire to be admitted a Fellow Commoner in a jest. Robert Shallow, Esq. judgeth the hamlet of Cotswold. Doth not the name of judge horribly chill thee? With Aaron's rod in his hand, he hath the white beard of Moses on his chin. In good sooth his perpetual countenance is not unlike what thou wouldst conceit of the momentary one of the lunatic Jew, when he tumbled God's tables from the mount. He hath a quick busy gait—more of this upright Judge (perpendicular as a pikeman's weapon, Hal,) anon. I would dispatch with these Bardolph; but the knave's hands—(I cry thee mercy) his mouth is full in preventing desertion among my recruits. An every liver among them haven't stood me in three and forty shilling, then am I a naughty escheator.—I tell thee what, Hal, I'd fight against my conscience for never a Prince in Christendom but thee.—Oh! this is a most damnable cause, and the rogues know it—they'll drink nothing but sack of three and twopence a gallon; and I enlist me none but tall puissant fellows that would quaff me up Fleet-ditch, were it filled with sack—picked men, Hal—such as will shake my Lord of York's mitre. I pray thee, sweet lad, make speed—thou shalt see glorious deeds."

How say you, reader, do not these inventions smack of Eastcheap? Are they not nimble, forgetive, evasive? Is not the humour of them elaborate, cogitabund, fanciful? Carry they not the true image and superscription of the father which begat them? Are they not steeped all over in character—subtle, profound, unctuous? Is not here the very effigies of the Knight? Could a counterfeit Jack Falstaff come by these conceits? Or are you, reader, one who[Pg 228] delights to drench his mirth in tears? You are, or, peradventure, have been a lover; a "dismissed bachelor," perchance, one that is "lass-lorn." Come, then, and weep over the dying bed of such a one as thyself. Weep with us the death of poor Abraham Slender.

Davy to Shallow

"Master Abram is dead, gone, your Worship, dead! Master Abram! Oh! good, your Worship, a's gone. A' never throve, since a' came from Windsor—'twas his death. I called him rebel, your Worship—but a' was all subject—a' was subject to any babe, as much as a king—a' turned, like as it were the latter end of a lover's lute—a' was all peace and resignment—a' took delight in nothing but his Book of Songs and Sonnets—a' would go to the Stroud side under the large beech tree, and sing, 'till 'twas quite pity of our lives to mark him; for his chin grew as long as a muscle.—Oh! a' sung his soul and body quite away—a' was lank as any greyhound, and had such a scent! I hid his love-songs among your Worship's law-books; for I thought, if a' could not get at them, it might be to his quiet; but a' snuffed them out in a moment. Good, your Worship, have the wise woman of Brentford secured—Master Abram may have been conjured—Peter Simple says, a' never looked up after a' sent for the wise woman.—Marry, a' was always given to look down afore his elders; a' might do it, a' was given to it—your Worship knows it; but then 'twas peak and pert with him, marry, in the turn of his heel.—A' died, your Worship, just about one, at the crow of the cock.—I thought how it was with him; for a' talked as quick, ay, marry, as glib as your Worship; and a' smiled, and looked at his own nose, and called 'Sweet Ann Page.' I asked him if a' would eat—so a' bad us commend him to his cousin Robert (a' never called your Worship so before) and bad us get hot meat, for a' would not say 'nay' to Ann again.[37] But a' never lived to touch it—a' began all in a moment to sing 'Lovers all, a Madrigall.' 'Twas the only song Master Abram ever learnt out of book, and clean by heart, your Worship—and so a' sung, and smiled, and looked askew at his own nose, and sung, and sung on, till his breath waxed shorter, and shorter,[Pg 229] and shorter, and a' fell into a struggle and died. Alice Shortcake craves, she may make his shroud...."

[37] Vide, Merry Wives of Windsor, latter part of 1st scene, 1st act.

Should these specimens fail to rouse your curiosity to see the whole, it may be to your loss, gentle reader, but it will give small pain to the spirit of him that wrote this little book; my fine-tempered friend, J. W.—for not in authorship, or the spirit of authorship, but from the fullness of a young soul, newly kindling at the Shakspearian flame, and bursting to be delivered of a rich exuberance of conceits,—I had almost said kindred with those of the full Shakspearian genius itself,—were these letters dictated. We remember when the inspiration came upon him; when the plays of Henry the Fourth were first put into his hands. We think at our recommendation he read them, rather late in life, though still he was but a youth. He may have forgotten, but we cannot, the pleasant evenings which ensued at the Boar's Head (as we called our tavern, though in reality the sign was not that, nor the street Eastcheap, for that honoured place of resort has long since passed away) when over our pottle of Sherris he would talk you nothing but pure Falstaff the long evenings through. Like his, the wit of J. W. was deep, recondite, imaginative, full of goodly figures and fancies. Those evenings have long since passed away, and nothing comparable to them has come in their stead, or can come. "We have heard the chimes at midnight."

* * * *.



Nugæ Canoræ. Poems by Charles Lloyd

The reader who shall take up these poems in the mere expectation of deriving amusement for an idle hour, will have been grievously misled by the title. Nugæ they certainly are not, but full of weight; earnest, passionate communings of the spirit with itself. He that reads them must come to them in a serious mood; he should be one that has descended into his own bosom; that has probed his own[Pg 230] nature even to shivering; that has indulged the deepest yearnings of affection, and has had them strangely flung back upon him; that has built to himself a fortress out of conscious weakness; that has cleaved to the rock of his early religion, and through hope in it hath walked upon the uneasy waters.

We should be sorry to convey a false notion. Mr. Lloyd's religion has little of pretence or sanctimoniousness about it; it is worn as an armour of self-defence, not as a weapon of outward annoyance: the believing may be drawn by it, and the unbelieving need not be deterred. The Religionist of Nature may find some things to venerate in its mild Christianity, when he shall discover in a volume, generally hostile to new experiments in philosophy and morals, some of its tenderest pages dedicated to the virtues of Mary Wolstonecraft Godwin.

Mr. Lloyd's poetry has not much in it that is narrative or dramatic. It is richer in natural description; but the imagery is for the most part embodied with, and made subservient to, the sentiment, as in many of the sonnets, &c. His genius is metaphysical and profound; his verses are made up of deep feeling, accompanied with the perpetual running commentary of his own deeper self-reflection. His affections seem to run kindliest in domestic channels; and there some strains, commemorative of a dead relative, which, while they do honour to the heart of the writer, are of too sacred a nature, we think, almost to have been committed to print at all; much less would they bear exposal among the miscellaneous matter indispensable to a public journal. We prefer therefore giving an extract from the fine blank verse poem, entitled Christmas. It is richly embued with the meditative, introspective cast of mind, so peculiar to this author:—

There is a time
When first sensation paints the burning cheek,
Fills the moist eye, and quickens the keen pulse,
That mystic meanings half conceiv'd invest
The simplest forms, and all doth speak, all lives
To the eager heart! At such a time to me
Thou cam'st, dear holiday! Thy twilight glooms
Mysterious thoughts awaken'd, and I mus'd
As if possest, yea felt as I had known
The dawn of inspiration. Then the days
Were sanctified by feeling, all around
[Pg 231] Of an indwelling presence darkly spake.
Silence had borrow'd sounds to cheat the soul!
And, to the toys of life, the teeming brain,
Impregning them with its own character,
Gave preternatural import; the dull face
Was eloquent, and e'en the idle air
Most potent shapes, varying and yet the same,
Substantially express'd.
But soon my heart,
Unsatisfied with blissful shadows, felt
Achings of vacancy, and own'd the throb
Of undefin'd desire, while lays of love
Firstling and wild stole to my trem'lous tongue.
To me thy rites were mock'ry then, thy glee
Of little worth. More pleas'd I trod the waste
Sear'd with the sleety wind, and drank its blast;
Deeming thy dreary shapes most strangely sweet,
Mist-shrouded winter! in mute loneliness
I wore away the day which others hail'd
So cheerily, still usher'd in with chaunt
Of carol, and the merry ringers' peal,
Most musical to the good man that wakes
And praises God in gladness.
But soon fled
The dreams of love fantastic! Still the Friend,
The Friend, the wild roam o'er the drifted snows
Remain unsung! then when the wintry view
Objectless, mist-hidden, or in uncouth forms
Prank'd by the arrowy flake might aptly yield
New stores to shaping fantasy, I rov'd
With him my lov'd companion! Oh, 'twas sweet;
Ye who have known the swell that heaves the breast
Pregnant with loftiest poesy, declare
Is aught more soothing to the charmed soul
Than friendship's glow, the independent dream
Gathering when all the frivolous shews are fled
Of artificial life; when the wild step
Boundeth on wide existence, unbeheld,
Uncheck'd, and the heart fashioneth its hope
In Nature's school, while Nature bursts around,
Nor Man her spoiler meddles in the scene!
Farewell, dear day, much hath it sooth'd my heart
To chaunt thy frail memorial.
Now advance
The darkening years, and I do sojourn, home!
From thee afar. Where the broad-bosom'd hills,
Swept by perpetual clouds, of Scotland, rise,
Me fate compels to tarry.
Ditty quaint or custom'd carol, there my vacant ear
[Pg 232] Ne'er blest! I thought of home and happier days!
And as I thought, my vexed spirit blam'd
That austere race, who, mindless of the glee
Of good old festival, coldly forbade
Th' observance which of mortal life relieves
The languid sameness, seeming too to bring
Sanction from hoar antiquity and years
Long past!

* * * *.



"First Fruits of Australian Poetry"

Sydney, New South Wales. Printed for Private Distribution

I first adventure; follow me who list;
And be the second Austral Harmonist.

Whoever thou art that hast transplanted the British wood-notes to the far-off forest which the Kangaroo haunts—whether thou art some involuntary exile that solaces his sad estrangement with recurrence to his native notes, with more wisdom than those captive Hebrews of old refused to sing their Sion songs in a strange land—or whether, as we rather suspect, thou art that valued friend of ours, who, in thy young time of life, together with thy faithful bride, thy newly "wedded flower," didst, in obedience to the stern voice of duty, quit thy friends, thy family, thy pleasing avocations, the Muses with which thou wert as deeply smitten as any, we believe, in our age and country, to go and administer tedious justice in inauspicious unliterary Thiefland[38]—we reclaim thee for our own, and gladly would transport thee back to thy native "fields," and studies congenial to thy habits.

[38] An elegant periphrasis for the Bay. Mr. Coleridge led us the way—"Cloudland, gorgeous land."

We know a merry Captain, and co-navigator with Cook, who prides himself upon having planted the first pun in Otaheite. It was in their own language, and the islanders first looked at him, then stared at one another, and all at once burst out into a genial laugh. It was a stranger, and as a stranger they gave it welcome. Many a quibble of[Pg 233] their own growth, we doubt not, has since sprung from that well-timed exotic. Where puns flourish, there must be no inconsiderable advance in civilization. The same good results we are willing to augur from this dawn of refinement at Sydney. They were beginning to have something like a theatrical establishment there, which we are sorry to hear has been suppressed; for we are of opinion with those who think that a taste for such kind of entertainments is one remove at least from profligacy, and that Shakspeare and Gay may be as safe teachers of morality as the ordinary treatises which assume to instil that science. We have seen one of their play bills (while the thing was permitted to last) and were affected by it in no ordinary degree; particularly in the omission of the titles of honour, which in this country are condescendingly conceded to the players. In their Dramatis Personæ Jobson was played by Smith; Lady Loverule, Jones; Nell, Wilkinson: Gentlemen and Lady Performers alike curtailed of their fair proportions. With a little patronage, we prophesy, that in a very few years the histrionic establishment of Sydney would have risen in respectability; and the humble performers would, by tacit leave, or open permission, have been allowed to use the same encouraging affixes to their names, which dignify their prouder brethren and sisters in the mother country. What a moral advancement, what a lift in the scale, to a Braham or a Stephens of New South Wales, to write themselves Mr. and Miss! The King here has it not in his power to do so much for a Commoner, no, not though he dub him a Duke.

"The First Fruits" consist of two poems. The first celebrates the plant epacris grandiflora; but we are no botanists, and perhaps there is too much matter mixed up in it from the Midsummer Night's Dream, to please some readers. The thefts are indeed so open and palpable, that we almost recur to our first surmise, that the author must be some unfortunate wight, sent on his travels for plagiarisms of a more serious complexion. But the old matter and the new blend kindly together; and must, we hope, have proved right acceptable to more than one

——Among the Fair
Of that young land of Shakspeare's tongue.
[Pg 234]

We select for our readers the second poem; and are mistaken, if it does not relish of the graceful hyperboles of our elder writers. We can conceive it to have been written by Andrew Marvel, supposing him to have been banished to Botany Bay, as he did, we believe, once meditate a voluntary exile to Bermuda. See his fine poem, "Where the remote Bermudas ride."

* * * *.

"The Kangaroo"

"——mixtumque genus, prolesque biformis."—Virg., Æn., vi.

Kangaroo, Kangaroo!
Thou spirit of Australia,
That redeems from utter failure,
From perfect desolation,
And warrants the creation
Of this fifth part of the earth,
Which would seem an after-birth,
Not conceiv'd in the beginning
(For God bless'd his work at first,
And saw that it was good),
But emerg'd at the first sinning,
When the ground was therefore curst;—
And hence this barren wood!
Kangaroo, Kangaroo!
Tho' at first sight we should say,
In thy nature that there may
Contradiction be involv'd,
Yet, like discord well resolv'd,
It is quickly harmoniz'd.
Sphynx or mermaid realiz'd,
Or centaur unfabulous,
Would scarce be more prodigious,
[Or labyrinthine minotaur
With which great Theseus did war,]
Or Pegasus poetical,
Or hippogriff—chimeras all!
But, what Nature would compile,
Nature knows to reconcile;
And Wisdom, ever at her side,
Of all her children's justified.
She had made the squirrel fragile;
She had made the bounding hart;
But a third so strong and agile
Was beyond ev'n Nature's art.
So she join'd the former two
In thee, Kangaroo!
[Pg 235]
To describe thee, it is hard:
Converse of the camélopard,
Which beginneth camel-wise,
But endeth of the panther size,
Thy fore half, it would appear,
Had belong'd to "some small deer,"
Such as liveth in a tree;
By thy hinder, thou should'st be
A large animal of chase,
Bounding o'er the forest's space;—
Join'd by some divine mistake,
None but Nature's hand can make—
Nature, in her wisdom's play,
On Creation's holiday.
For howso'er anomalous,
Thou yet art not incongruous,
Repugnant or preposterous.
Better-proportion'd animal,
More graceful or ethereal,
Was never follow'd by the hound,
With fifty steps to thy one bound.
Thou canst not be amended: no;
Be as thou art; thou best art so.
When sooty swans are once more rare,
And duck-moles[39] the museum's care,
Be still the glory of this land,
Happiest work of finest hand!

[39] The cygnus niger of Juvenal is no rara avis in Australia; and time has here given ample proof of the ornithorynchus paradoxus. [Barron Field's note.]



Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of Saint Agnes, and Other Poems. By John Keats. Author of Endymion

A casement high and triple-arch'd there was,
All garlanded with carven imag'ries
Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,
And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
As are the tiger-moth's deep damask'd wings;
And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
[Pg 236] A shield'd scutcheon blush'd with blood of Queens and Kings.
Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,
As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon;
Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,
And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
She seem'd a splendid angel, newly drest,
Save wings, for heaven [:—Porphyro grew faint,
She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint
Anon his heart revives:] her vespers done,
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:
Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed,
Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
In fancy, fair Saint Agnes in her bed,
But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.
Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex'd she lay,
Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress'd
Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away;
Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day;
Blissfully haven'd both from joy and pain;
Clasp'd like a missal where swart Paynims pray;
Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again.

Such is the description which Mr. Keats has given us, with a delicacy worthy of Christabel, of a high-born damsel, in one of the apartments of a baronial castle, laying herself down devoutly to dream, on the charmed Eve of St. Agnes; and like the radiance, which comes from those old windows upon the limbs and garments of the damsel, is the almost Chaucer-like painting, with which this poet illumes every subject he touches. We have scarcely any thing like it in modern description. It brings us back to ancient days, and

Beauty making-beautiful old rhymes.

The finest thing in the volume is the paraphrase of Boccaccio's story of the Pot of Basil. Two Florentines, merchants, discovering that their sister Isabella has placed her affections upon Lorenzo, a young factor in their employ, when they had hopes of procuring for her a noble match, decoy Lorenzo, under pretence of a ride, into a wood, where they suddenly stab and bury him. The anticipation of the[Pg 237] assassination is wonderfully conceived in one epithet, in the narration of the ride—

So the two brothers, and their murder'd man,
Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream

Returning to their sister, they delude her with a story of their having sent Lorenzo abroad to look after their merchandises; but the spirit of her lover appears to Isabella in a dream, and discovers how and where he was stabbed, and the spot where they have buried him. To ascertain the truth of the vision, she sets out to the place, accompanied by her old nurse, ignorant as yet of her wild purpose. Her arrival at it, and digging for the body, is described in the following stanzas, than which there is nothing more awfully simple in diction, more nakedly grand and moving in sentiment, in Dante, in Chaucer, or in Spenser:—

She gaz'd into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
One glance did fully all its secrets tell;
Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow
Like to a native lily of the dell:
Then with her knife, all sudden, she began
To dig more fervently than misers can.
Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon
Her silk had play'd in purple fantasies,
She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,
And put it in her bosom, where it dries
And freezes utterly unto the bone
Those dainties made to still an infant's cries:
Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care,
But to throw back at times her veiling hair.
That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
Until her heart felt pity to the core
At sight of such a dismal labouring,
And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:
Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

To pursue the story in prose:—They find the body, and with their joint strengths sever from it the head, which Isabella takes home, and wrapping it in a silken scarf, entombs it in a[Pg 238] garden-pot, covers it with mould, and over it she plants sweet basil, which, watered with her tears, thrives so that no other basil tufts in all Florence throve like her basil. How her brothers, suspecting something mysterious in this herb, which she watched day and night, at length discover the head, and secretly convey the basil from her; and how from the day that she loses her basil she pines away, and at last dies [—for this], we must refer our readers to the poem, or to the divine germ of it in Boccaccio. It is a great while ago since we read the original; and in this affecting revival of it we do but

Weep again a long-forgotten woe.

More exuberantly rich in imagery and painting is the story of the Lamia. It is of as gorgeous stuff as ever romance was composed of. Her first appearance in serpentine form—

——a beauteous wreath with melancholy eyes—

her dialogue with Hermes, the Star of Lethe, as he is called by one of these prodigal phrases which Mr. Keats abounds in, which are each a poem in a word, and which in this instance lays open to us at once, like a picture, all the dim regions and their inhabitants, and the sudden coming of a celestial among them; the charming of her into woman's shape again by the God; her marriage with the beautiful Lycius; her magic palace, which those who knew the street, and remembered it complete from childhood, never remembered to have seen before; the few Persian mutes, her attendants,

——who that same year
Were seen about the markets: none knew where
They could inhabit;——

the high-wrought splendours of the nuptial bower, with the fading of the whole pageantry, Lamia, and all, away, before the glance of Apollonius,—are all that fairy land can do for us. They are for younger impressibilities. To us an ounce of feeling is worth a pound of fancy; and therefore we recur again, with a warmer gratitude, to the story of Isabella and the pot of basil, and those never-cloying stanzas which we have cited, and which we think should disarm criticism, if it be not in its nature cruel; if it would not deny to honey its sweetness, nor to roses redness, nor light to the stars in Heaven; if it would not bay the moon out of the skies, rather than acknowledge she is fair.

[Pg 239]



Of the writings of this distinguished character little is remembered at present beyond his Utopia, and some Epigrams. But there is extant a massive folio of his Theological Works in English, partly Practical Divinity, but for the greater part Polemic, against the grand Lutheran Heresy, just then beginning to flower. From these I many years ago made some extracts, rejecting only the antiquated orthography, (they being intended only for my own amusement) except in some instances of proper names, &c. I send them you as I find them, thinking that some of your readers may consider them as curious. The first is from a Tract against Tyndale, called the Confutation of Tyndale's Answer.[40] The author of Religio Medici somewhere says, "his conscience would give him the lye, if she should say that he absolutely detested or hated any essence but the Devil." Whether Browne was not out in his metaphysics, when he supposed himself capable of hating, that is, entertaining a personal aversion to, a being so abstracted, or such a Concrete of all irreconcileable abstractions rather, as usually passes for the meaning of that name, I contend not; but that the same hatred in kind, which he professed against our great spiritual enemy, was in downright earnest cultivated and defended by More against that portentous phenomenon in those times, a Heretic, from his speeches against Luther and Tyndale cannot for a moment be doubted. His account of poor Hytton which follows (a reformado priest of the day) is penned with a wit and malice hyper-satanic. It is infinitely diverting in the midst of its diabolism, if it be not rather, what Coleridge calls,

Too wicked for a smile, too foolish for a tear.

[40] To some foregone Tract of More's, of which I have lost the title.

——"now to the intent that ye may somewhat see what good Christian faith Sir Thomas Hytton was of, this new saint of Tindale's canonization, in whose burning Tindale so gaily glorieth, and which hath his holiday so now appointed to him, that St. Polycarpus must give him place in the[Pg 240] Calendar, I shall somewhat show you what wholesome heresies this holy martyr held. First ye shall understand, that he was a priest, and falling to Luther's sect, and after that to the sect of Friar Huskin and Zwinglius, cast off matins and mass, and all divine service, and so became an apostle, sent to and fro, between our English heretics beyond the sea, and such as were here at home. Now happed it so, that after he had visited here his holy congregations in divers corners and luskes lanes, and comforted them in the Lord to stand stiff with the devil in their errors and heresies, as he was going back again at Gravesend, God considering the great labour that he had taken already, and determining to bring his business to his well-deserved end, gave him suddenly such a favour and so great a grace in the visage, that every man that beheld him took him for a thief. For whereas there had been certain linen clothes pilfered away that were hanging on an hedge, and Sir Thomas Hytton was walking not far off suspiciously in the meditation of his heresies: the people doubting that the beggarly knave had stolen the clouts, fell in question with him and searched him, and so found they certain letters secretly conveyed in his coat, written from evangelical brethren here unto the evangelical heretics beyond the sea. And upon those letters founden, he was with his letters brought before the most Rev. Father in God the Archbishop of Canterbury, and afterward as well by his Lordship as by the Rev. Father the Bishop of Rochester examined, and after for his abominable heresies delivered to the secular hands and burned."

What follows (from the same Tract) is mildened a little by the introduction of the name of Erasmus, More's intimate friend; though by the sting in the rear of it, it is easy to see, that it was to a little temporising only, and to some thin politic partitions from these Reformers, that Erasmus owed his exemption from the bitter anathemas More had in store for them. The love almost make the hate more shocking by the contrast!

——"Then he (Tyndale) asketh me why I have not contended with Erasmus, whom he calleth my darling, of all this long while, for translating of this word ecclesia into this word congregatio. And then he cometh forth with his feat[Pg 241] proper taunt, that I favour him of likelihood for making of his Book of MORIA in my house. There had he hit me, lo! save for lack of a little salt. I have not contended with Erasmus my darling, because I found no such malicious intent with Erasmus my darling, as I find with Tyndale. For had I found with Erasmus my darling the shrewd intent and purpose, that I find in Tyndale, Erasmus my darling should be no more my darling. But I find in Erasmus my darling, that he detesteth and abhorreth the errors and heresies, that Tyndale plainly teacheth and abideth by, and therefore Erasmus my darling shall be my dear darling still. And surely if Tyndale had either never taught them, or yet had the grace to revoke them, then should Tyndale be my dear darling too. But while he holdeth such heresies still, I cannot take for my darling him that the devil taketh for his darling."

The next extract is from a "Dialogue concerning Heresies," and has always struck me as a master-piece of eloquent logic, and something in the manner of Burke, when he is stripping a sophism sophistically; as he treats Paine, and others passim.

——"And not to be of the foolish mind that Luther is, which wished in a sermon of his, that he had in his hand all the pieces of the holy cross, and saith that, if he so had, he would throw them there as never sun should shine on them. And for what worshipful reason would the wretch do such villainy to the cross of Christ? because, as he saith, that there is so much gold now bestowed about the garnishing of the pieces of the cross, that there is none left for poor folk. Is not this an high reason? as though all the gold, that is now bestowed about the pieces of the holy cross, would not have failed to have been given to poor men, if they had not been bestowed about the garnishing of the cross. And as though there were nothing lost, but that is bestowed about Christ's cross. Take all the gold, that is spent about all the pieces of Christ's cross through Christendom (albeit many a good Christen prince, and other goodly people, hath honourably garnished many pieces thereof), yet, if all the gold were gathered together, it would appear a poor portion, in comparison of the gold that is bestowed upon cups. What speak[Pg 242] we of cups? in which the gold, albeit that it be not given to poor men, yet is it saved, and may be given in alms when men will, which they never will; how small a portion, ween we, were the gold about all the pieces of Christ's cross, if it were compared with the gold that is quite cast away about the gilting of knives, swords, spurs, arras, and painted clothes: and (as though these things could not consume gold fast enough) the gilting of posts, and whole roofs, not only in palaces of princes and great prelates, but also many right mean men's houses. And yet, among all these things, could Luther spy no gold that grievously glittered in his bleared eyes, but only about the cross of Christ.—For that gold, if it were thence, the wise man weeneth, it would be straight given to poor men, and that where he daily see'th, that such as have their purse full of gold, give to the poor not one piece thereof; but, if they give ought, they ransack the bottom among all the gold, to seek out here an halfpenny, or in his country a brass penny whereof four make a farthing: such goodly causes find they, that pretend holiness for the colour of their cloaked heresies." [Book I., Chapter 2.]

I subjoin from the same "Dialogue" More's cunning defence of Miracles done at Saints' shrines, on Pilgrimages, &c. all which he defends, as he was bound by holy church to do, most stoutly. The manner of it is arch and surprising, and the narration infinitely naive; the matter is the old fallacy of confounding miracles (things happening out of nature) with natural things, the grounds of which we cannot explain. In this sense every thing is a miracle, and nothing is.

——"And first if men should tell you, that they saw before an image of the crucifix a dead man raised to life, ye would much marvel thereof, and so might ye well; yet could I tell you somewhat that I have seen myself, that methinketh as great marvel, but I have no lust to tell you, because that ye be so circumspect and ware in belief of any miracles, that ye would not believe it for me, but mistrust me for it.

"Nay, Sir (quod he), in good faith, if a thing seemed to me never so far unlikely, yet if ye would earnestly say that yourself have seen it, I neither would nor could mistrust it.

"Well (quod I), then ye may make me the bolder to tell ye. And yet will I tell you nothing, but that I would, if need were, find you good witness to prove it.

[Pg 243]

"It shall not need, Sir (quod he), but I beseech you let me hear it.

"Forsooth (quod I), because we speak of a man raised from death to life. There was in the parish of St. Stephen's in Walbrook, in London, where I dwelled before I come to Chelsith, a man and a woman, which are yet quick and quething, and young were they both. The eldest I am sure passeth not twenty-four. It happed them, as doth among folk, the one to cast the mind to the other. And after many lets, for the maiden's mother was much against it, at last they came together, and were married in St. Stephen's church, which is not greatly famous for any miracles, but yet yearly on St. Stephen's day it is somewhat sought unto and visited with folk's devotion. But now short tale to make, this young woman (as manner is in brides ye wot well) was at night brought to bed with honest women. And then after that went the bridegroom to bed, and every body went their ways, and left them twain there alone. And the same night, yet abide let me not lie, now in faith to say the truth I am not very sure of the time, but surely as it appeared afterward, it was of likelihood the same night, or some other time soon after, except it happened a little before.

"No force for the time (quod he).

"Truth (quod I), and as for the matter, all the parish will testify for truth, the woman was known for so honest. But for the conclusion, the seed of them twain turned in the woman's body, first into blood, and after into shape of man-child. And then waxed quick, and she great therewith. And was within the year delivered of a fair boy, and forsooth it was not then (for I saw it myself) passing the length of a foot. And I am sure he has grown now an inch longer than I.

"How long is it ago? (quod he).

"By my faith (quod I) about twenty-one years.

"Tush! (quod he), this is a worthy miracle!

"In good faith (quod I), never wist I that any man could tell that he had any other beginning. And methinketh that this is as great a miracle as the raising of a dead man." [Book I., Chapter 10.]

Diabolical Possession was a rag of the old abomination, which this Contunder of Heresies thought himself obliged no[Pg 244] less to wrap tightly about the loins of his faith, than any of the splendiores panni of the old red Harlot. But (read with allowance for the belief of the times) the narrative will be found affecting, particularly in what relates to the parents of the damsel, "rich, and sore abashed."

——"Amongst which (true miracles) I durst boldly tell you for one, the wonderful work of God, that was within these few years wrought, in the house of a right worshipful knight, Sir Roger Wentworth, upon divers of his children, and specially one of his daughters, a very fair young gentlewoman of twelve years of age, in marvellous manner vexed and tormented by our ghostly enemy the devil, her mind alienated and raving with despising and blasphemy of God, and hatred of all hallowed things, with knowledge and perceiving of the hallowed from the unhallowed, all were she nothing warned thereof. And after that moved in her own mind, and monished by the will of God, to go to our Lady of Ippiswitche. In the way of which pilgrimage, she prophesied and told many things done and said at the same time in other places, which were proved true, and many things said, lying in her trance, of such wisdom and learning, that right cunning men highly marvelled to hear of so young an unlearned maiden, when herself wist not what she said, such things uttered and spoken, as well learned men might have missed with a long study, and finally being brought and laid before the Image of our Blessed Lady, was there in the sight of many worshipful people so grievously tormented, and in face, eyen, look and countenance, so griesly changed, and her mouth drawn aside, and her eyen laid out upon her cheeks, that it was a terrible sight to behold. And after many marvellous things at the same time shewed upon divers persons by the devil through God's sufferance, as well all the remnant as the maiden herself, in the presence of all the company, restored to their good state perfectly cured and suddenly. And in this matter no pretext of begging, no suspicion of feigning? no possibility of counterfeiting, no simpleness in the seers, her father and mother right honourable and rich, sore abashed to see such chances in their children, the witnesses great number, and many of great worship, wisdom and good experience, the maid herself too young to feign [and the fashion itself too strange for any man[Pg 245] to feign], and the end of the matter virtuous, the virgin so moved in her mind with the miracle, that she forthwith for aught her father could do, forsook the world, and professed religion in a very good and godly company at the Mynoresse, where she hath lived well and graciously ever since." [Book I., Chapter 16.]

I shall trouble you with one Excerpt more, from a "Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation;" because the style of it is solemn and weighty; and because it was written by More in his last imprisonment in the Tower, preparatory to his sentence. After witnessing his treatment of Sir John Hytton, and his brethren, we shall be inclined to mitigate some of our remorse, that More should have suffered death himself for conscience sake. The reader will not do this passage justice, if he do not read it as part of a sermon; and as putting himself into the feelings of an auditory of More's Creed and Times.

——"But some men now when this calling of God [any tribulation] causeth them to be sad, they be loth to leave their sinful lusts that hang in their hearts, and specially if they have any such kind of living, as they must needs leave off, or fall deeper in sin: or if they have done so many great wrongs, that they have many 'mends to make, that must (if they follow God) 'minish much their money, then are these folks (alas) woefully bewrapped, for God pricketh upon them of his great goodness still, and the grief of this great pang pincheth them at the heart, and of wickedness they wry away, and fro this tribulation they turn to their flesh for help, and labour to shake off this thought, and then they mend their pillow, and lay their head softer, and assay to sleep; and when that will not be, then they find a talk awhile with them that lie by them. If that cannot be neither, then they lie and long for day, and then get them forth about their worldly wretchedness, the matter of their prosperity, the self-same sinful things with which they displease God most, and at length with many times using this manner, God utterly casteth them off. And then they set nought neither by God nor Devil. * * * But alas! when death cometh, then cometh again their sorrow, then will no soft bed serve, nor no company make him merry, then must he[Pg 246] leave his outward worship and comfort of his glory, and lie panting in his bed as if he were on a pine-bank, then cometh his fear of his evil life and his dreadful death. Then cometh the torment, his cumbered conscience and fear of his heavy judgment. Then the devil draweth him to despair with imagination of hell, and suffereth him not then to take it for a fable. And yet if he do, then findeth it the wretch no fable. * * * Some have I seen even in their last sickness set up in their death-bed underpropped with pillows take their play-fellows to them, and comfort themselves with cards, and this they said did ease them well to put fantasies out of their heads; and what fantasies trow you? such as I told you right now of, their own lewd life and peril of their soul, of heaven and of hell that irked them to think of, and therefore cast it out with cards' play as long as ever thy might, till the pure pangs of death pulled their heart fro their play, and put them in the case they could not reckon their game. And then left them their gameners, and slily slunk away, and long was it not ere they galped up the ghost. And what game they came then to, that God knoweth and not I. I pray God it were good, but I fear it very sore."

* * * *.



Sackville-street, 25th March, 1821.

Mr. Editor,—A correspondent in your last number,[41] blesses his stars, that he was never yet in the pillory; and, with a confidence which the uncertainty of mortal accidents but weakly justifies, goes on to predict that he never shall be. Twelve years ago, had a Sibyl prophesied to me, that I should live to be set in a worse place, I should have[Pg 247] struck her for a lying beldam. There are degradations below that which he speaks of.

[41] Elia:—Chapter on Ears.

I come of a good stock, Mr. Editor. The Delamores are a race singularly tenacious of their honour; men who, in the language of Edmund Burke, feel a stain like a wound. My grand uncle died of a fit of the sullens for the disgrace of a public whipping at Westminster. He had not then attained his fourteenth year. Would I had died young!

For more than five centuries, the current of our blood hath flowed unimpeachably. And must it stagnate now?

Can a family be tainted backwards?—can posterity purchase disgrace for their progenitors?—or doth it derogate from the great Walter of our name, who received the sword of knighthood in Cressy field, that one of his descendants once sate * *  * * *  * * * * * *?

Can an honour, fairly achieved in quinto Edwardi Tertii, be reversed by a slip in quinquagesimo Georgii Tertii?—how stands the law?—what dictum doth the college deliver?—O Clarencieux! O Norroy!

Can a reputation, gained by hard watchings on the cold ground, in a suit of mail, be impeached by hard watchings on the cold ground in other circumstances—was the endurance equal?—why is the guerdon so disproportionate?

A priest mediated the ransom of the too valorous Reginald, of our house, captived in Lord Talbot's battles. It was a clergyman, who by his intercession abridged the period of my durance.

Have you touched at my wrongs yet, Mr. Editor?—or must I be explicit as to my grievance?

Hush, my heedless tongue.

Something bids me—"Delamore, be ingenuous."

Once then, and only once——

Star of my nativity, hide beneath a cloud, while I reveal it!

Ancestors of Delamore, lie low in your wormy beds, that no posthumous hearing catch a sound!

Let no eye look over thee, while thou shalt peruse it, reader!


these legs, with Kent in the play, though for far less ennobling considerations, did wear "cruel garters."

Yet I protest it was but for a thing of nought—a fault of[Pg 248] youth, and warmer blood—a calendary inadvertence I may call it—or rather a temporary obliviousness of the day of the week—timing my Saturnalia amiss.——

Streets of Barnet, infamous for civil broils, ye saw my shame!—did not your Red Rose rise again to dye my burning cheek?

It was but for a pair of minutes, or so—yet I feel, I feel, that the gentry of the Delamores is extinguished for ever.——

Try to forget it, reader.——

(Signed) Henry Francis Vere Harrington



The widow Blacket, of Oxford, is the largest female I ever had the pleasure of beholding. There may be her parallel upon the earth, but surely I never saw it. I take her to be lineally descended from the maid's aunt of Brainford, who caused Master Ford such uneasiness. She hath Atlantean shoulders; and, as she stoopeth in her gait—with as few offences to answer for in her own particular as any of Eve's daughters—her back seems broad enough to bear the blame of all the peccadillos that have been committed since Adam. She girdeth her waist—or what she is pleased to esteem as such—nearly up to her shoulders, from beneath which, that huge dorsal expanse, in mountainous declivity, emergeth. Respect for her alone preventeth the idle boys, who follow her about in shoals, whenever she cometh abroad, from getting up and riding.—But her presence infallibly commands a reverence. She is indeed, as the Americans would express it, something awful. Her person is a burthen to herself, no less than to the ground which bears her. To her mighty bone, she hath a pinguitude withal, which makes the depth of winter to her the most desirable season. Her distress in the warmer solstice is[Pg 249] pitiable. During the months of July and August, she usually renteth a cool cellar, where ices are kept, whereinto she descendeth when Sirius rageth. She dates from a hot Thursday—some twenty-five years ago. Her apartment in summer is pervious to the four winds. Two doors, in north and south direction, and two windows, fronting the rising and the setting sun, never closed, from every cardinal point, catch the contributory breezes. She loves to enjoy what she calls a quadruple draught. That must be a shrewd zephyr, that can escape her. I owe a painful face-ach, which oppresses me at this moment, to a cold caught, sitting by her, one day in last July, at this receipt of coolness. Her fan in ordinary resembleth a banner spread, which she keepeth continually on the alert to detect the least breeze. She possesseth an active and gadding mind, totally incommensurate with her person. No one delighteth more than herself in country exercises and pastimes. I have passed many an agreeable holiday with her in her favourite park at Woodstock. She performs her part in these delightful ambulatory excursions by the aid of a portable garden chair. She setteth out with you at a fair foot gallop, which she keepeth up till you are both well breathed, and then she reposeth for a few seconds. Then she is up again, for a hundred paces or so, and again resteth—her movement, on these sprightly occasions, being something between walking and flying. Her great weight seemeth to propel her forward, ostrich-fashion. In this kind of relieved marching I have traversed with her many scores of acres on these well-wooded and well-watered domains. Her delight at Oxford is in the public walks and gardens, where, when the weather is not too oppressive, she passeth much of her valuable time. There is a bench at Maudlin, or rather, situated between the frontiers of that and * * * * * *'s college—some litigation latterly, about repairs, has vested the property of it finally in * * * * * *'s—where at the hour of noon she is ordinarily to be found sitting—so she calls it by courtesy—but in fact, pressing and breaking of it down with her enormous settlement; as both those Foundations, who, however, are good-natured enough to wink at it, have found, I believe, to their cost. Here she taketh the fresh air, principally at vacation times, when the walks are freest from interruption of the younger fry of students. Here she[Pg 250] passeth her idle hours, not idly, but generally accompanied with a book—blest if she can but intercept some resident Fellow (as usually there are some of that brood left behind at these periods); or stray Master of Arts (to most of them she is better known than their dinner bell); with whom she may confer upon any curious topic of literature. I have seen these shy gownsmen, who truly set but a very slight value upon female conversation, cast a hawk's eye upon her from the length of Maudlin grove, and warily glide off into another walk—true monks as they are, and ungently neglecting the delicacies of her polished converse, for their own perverse and uncommunicating solitariness! Within doors her principal diversion is music, vocal and instrumental, in both which she is no mean professor. Her voice is wonderfully fine; but till I got used to it, I confess it staggered me. It is for all the world like that of a piping bulfinch, while from her size and stature you would expect notes to drown the deep organ. The shake, which most fine singers reserve for the close or cadence, by some unaccountable flexibility, or tremulousness of pipe, she carrieth quite through the composition; so that her time, to a common air or ballad, keeps double motion, like the earth—running the primary circuit of the tune, and still revolving upon its own axis. The effect, as I said before, when you are used to it, is as agreeable as it is altogether new and surprising. The spacious apartment of her outward frame lodgeth a soul in all respects disproportionate. Of more than mortal make, she evinceth withal a trembling sensibility, a yielding infirmity of purpose, a quick susceptibility to reproach, and all the train of diffident and blushing virtues, which for their habitation usually seek out a feeble frame, an attenuated and meagre constitution. With more than man's bulk, her humours and occupations are eminently feminine. She sighs—being six foot high. She languisheth—being two feet wide. She worketh slender sprigs upon the delicate muslin—her fingers being capable of moulding a Colossus. She sippeth her wine out of her glass daintily—her capacity being that of a tun of Heidelburg. She goeth mincingly with those feet of hers—whose solidity need not fear the black ox's pressure. Softest, and largest of thy sex, adieu! by what parting attribute may I salute thee—last and best of the Titanesses—Ogress, fed with milk instead of blood—not least, or least[Pg 251] handsome, among Oxford's stately structures—Oxford, who, in its deadest time of vacation, can never properly be said to be empty, having thee to fill it.



To the Editor of the London Magazine


Dear Sir,—I send you a bantering Epistle to an Old Gentleman whose Education is supposed to have been Neglected. Of course, it was suggested by some Letters of your admirable Opium-Eater; the discontinuance of which has caused so much regret to myself in common with most of your readers. You will do me injustice by supposing, that in the remotest degree it was my intention to ridicule those Papers. The fact is, the most serious things may give rise to an innocent burlesque; and the more serious they are, the fitter they become for that purpose. It is not to be supposed, that Charles Cotton did not entertain a very high regard for Virgil, notwithstanding he travestied that Poet. Yourself can testify the deep respect I have always held for the profound learning and penetrating genius of our friend. Nothing upon earth would give me greater pleasure than to find that he has not lost sight of his entertaining and instructive purpose.

I am, dear Sir, yours and his sincerely,

My dear Sir,—The question which you have done me the honour to propose to me, through the medium of our common friend Mr. Grierson, I shall endeavour to answer with as much exactness as a limited observation and experience can warrant.

[Pg 252]

You ask—or rather, Mr. Grierson in his own interesting language asks for you—"Whether a person at the age of sixty-three, with no more proficiency than a tolerable knowledge of most of the characters of the English alphabet at first sight amounts to, by dint of persevering application, and good masters,—a docile and ingenuous disposition on the part of the pupil always pre-supposed—may hope to arrive, within a presumable number of years, at that degree of attainments, which shall entitle the possessor to the character, which you are on so many accounts justly desirous of acquiring, of a learned man."

This is fairly and candidly stated,—only I could wish that on one point you had been a little more explicit. In the mean time, I will take it for granted, that by a "knowledge of the alphabetic characters," you confine your meaning to the single powers only, as you are silent on the subject of the diphthongs, and harder combinations.

Why truly, Sir, when I consider the vast circle of sciences—it is not here worth while to trouble you with the distinction between learning and science—which a man must be understood to have made the tour of in these days, before the world will be willing to concede to him the title which you aspire to, I am almost disposed to reply to your inquiry by a direct answer in the negative.

However, where all cannot be compassed, a great deal that is truly valuable may be accomplished. I am unwilling to throw out any remarks that should have a tendency to damp a hopeful genius; but I must not in fairness conceal from you, that you have much to do. The consciousness of difficulty is sometimes a spur to exertion. Rome—or rather, my dear Sir, to borrow an illustration from a place, as yet more familiar to you—Rumford—Rumford—was not built in a day.

Your mind as yet, give me leave to tell you, is in the state of a sheet of white paper. We must not blot or blur it over too hastily. Or, to use an opposite simile, it is like a piece of parchment all be-scrawled and be-scribbled over with characters of no sense or import, which we must carefully erase and remove, before we can make way for the authentic characters or impresses, which are to be substituted in their stead by the corrective hand of science.

Your mind, my dear Sir, again resembles that same parchment, which we will suppose a little hardened by time and[Pg 253] disuse. We may apply the characters, but are we sure that the ink will sink?

You are in the condition of a traveller, that has all his journey to begin. And again, you are worse off than the traveller which I have supposed—for you have already lost your way.

You have much to learn, which you have never been taught; and more, I fear, to unlearn, which you have been taught erroneously. You have hitherto, I dare say, imagined, that the sun moves round the earth. When you shall have mastered the true solar system, you will have quite a different theory upon that point, I assure you. I mention but this instance. Your own experience, as knowledge advances, will furnish you with many parallels.

I can scarcely approve of the intention, which Mr. Grierson informs me you had contemplated, of entering yourself at a common seminary, and working your way up from the lower to the higher forms with the children. I see more to admire in the modesty, than in the expediency, of such a resolution. I own I cannot reconcile myself to the spectacle of a gentleman at your time of life seated, as must be your case at first, below a Tyro of four or five—for at that early age the rudiments of education usually commence in this country. I doubt whether more might not be lost in the point of fitness, than would be gained in the advantages which you propose to yourself by this scheme.

You say, you stand in need of emulation; that this incitement is no where to be had but at a public school; that you should be more sensible of your progress by comparing it with the daily progress of those around you. But have you considered the nature of emulation; and how it is sustained at those tender years, which you would have to come in competition with? I am afraid you are dreaming of academic prizes and distinctions. Alas! in the university, for which you are preparing, the highest medal would be a silver penny, and you must graduate in nuts and oranges.

I know that Peter, the Great Czar—or Emperor—of Muscovy, submitted himself to the discipline of a dock-yard at Deptford, that he might learn, and convey to his countrymen, the noble art of shipbuilding. You are old enough to remember him, or at least to talk about him. I call to mind also other great princes, who, to instruct themselves in the[Pg 254] theory and practice of war, and set an example of subordination to their subjects, have condescended to enrol themselves as private soldiers; and, passing through the successive ranks of corporal, quarter-master, and the rest, have served their way up to the station, at which most princes are willing enough to set out—of General and Commander-in-Chief over their own forces. But—besides that there is oftentimes great sham and pretence in their show of mock humility—the competition which they stooped to was with their co-evals, however inferior to them in birth. Between ages so very disparate, as those which you contemplate, I fear there can no salutary emulation subsist.

Again, in the other alternative, could you submit to the ordinary reproofs and discipline of a day-school? Could you bear to be corrected for your faults? Or how would it look to see you put to stand, as must be the case sometimes, in a corner?

I am afraid the idea of a public school in your circumstances must be given up.

But is it impossible, by dear Sir, to find some person of your own age—if of the other sex, the more agreeable perhaps—whose information, like your own, has rather lagged behind their years, who should be willing to set out from the same point with yourself, to undergo the same tasks—thus at once inciting and sweetening each other's labours in a sort of friendly rivalry. Such a one, I think, it would not be difficult to find in some of the western parts of this island—about Dartmoor for instance.

Or what if, from your own estate—that estate which, unexpectedly acquired so late in life, has inspired into you this generous thirst after knowledge, you were to select some elderly peasant, that might best be spared from the land; to come and begin his education with you, that you might till, as it were, your minds together—one, whose heavier progress might invite, without a fear of discouraging, your emulation? We might then see—starting from an equal post—the difference of the clownish and the gentle blood.

A private education then, or such a one as I have been describing, being determined on, we must in the next place look out for a preceptor:—for it will be some time before either of you, left to yourselves, will be able to assist the other to any great purpose in his studies.

[Pg 255]

And now, my dear Sir, if in describing such a tutor as I have imagined for you, I use a style a little above the familiar one in which I have hitherto chosen to address you, the nature of the subject must be my apology. Difficile est de scientiis inscienter loqui, which is as much as to say that "in treating of scientific matters it is difficult to avoid the use of scientific terms." But I shall endeavour to be as plain as possible. I am not going to present you with the ideal of a pedagogue, as it may exist in my fancy, or has possibly been realized in the persons of Buchanan and Busby. Something less than perfection will serve our turn. The scheme which I propose in this first or introductory letter has reference to the first four or five years of your education only; and in enumerating the qualifications of him that should undertake the direction of your studies, I shall rather point out the minimum, or least, that I shall require of him, than trouble you in the search of attainments neither common nor necessary to our immediate purpose.

He should be a man of deep and extensive knowledge. So much at least is indispensable. Something older than yourself, I could wish him, because years add reverence.

To his age and great learning, he should be blest with a temper and a patience, willing to accommodate itself to the imperfections of the slowest and meanest capacities. Such a one in former days Mr. Hartlib appears to have been, and such in our days I take Mr. Grierson to be; but our friend, you know, unhappily has other engagements. I do not demand a consummate grammarian; but he must be a thorough master of vernacular orthography, with an insight into the accentualities and punctualities of modern Saxon, or English. He must be competently instructed (or how shall he instruct you?) in the tetralogy, or first four rules, upon which not only arithmetic, but geometry, and the pure mathematics themselves, are grounded. I do not require that he should have measured the globe with Cook, or Ortelius, but it is desirable that he should have a general knowledge (I do not mean a very nice or pedantic one) of the great division of the earth into four parts, so as to teach you readily to name the quarters. He must have a genius capable in some degree of soaring to the upper element, to deduce from thence the not much dissimilar computation of the cardinal points, or hinges, upon which those invisible phenomena, which naturalists agree to[Pg 256] term winds, do perpetually shift and turn. He must instruct you, in imitation of the old Orphic fragments (the mention of which has possibly escaped you), in numeric and harmonious responses, to deliver the number of solar revolutions, within which each of the twelve periods, into which the Annus Vulgaris, or common year, is divided, doth usually complete and terminate itself. The intercalaries, and other subtle problems, he will do well to omit, till riper years, and course of study, shall have rendered you more capable thereof. He must be capable of embracing all history, so as from the countless myriads of individual men, who have peopled this globe of earth—for it is a globe—by comparison of their respective births, lives, deaths, fortunes, conduct, prowess, &c. to pronounce, and teach you to pronounce, dogmatically and catechetically, who was the richest, who was the strongest, who was the wisest, who was the meekest man, that ever lived; to the facilitation of which solution, you will readily conceive, a smattering of biography would in no inconsiderable degree conduce. Leaving the dialects of men (in one of which I shall take leave to suppose you by this time at least superficially instituted), you will learn to ascend with him to the contemplation of that unarticulated language, which was before the written tongue; and, with the aid of the elder Phrygian or Æsopic key, to interpret the sounds by which the animal tribes communicate their minds—evolving moral instruction with delight from the dialogue of cocks, dogs, and foxes. Or marrying theology with verse, from whose mixture a beautiful and healthy offspring may be expected, in your own native accents (but purified) you will keep time together to the profound harpings of the more modern or Wattsian hymnics.

Thus far I have ventured to conduct you to a "hill-side, whence you may discern the right path of a virtuous and noble education; laborious indeed at the first ascent, but else so smooth, so green, so full of goodly prospects and melodious sounds on every side, that the harp of Orpheus was not more charming."[42]

With my best respects to Mr. Grierson, when you see him,

I remain, dear Sir, your obedient servant,
April 1, 1823.

[42] Milton's Tractate on Education, addressed to Mr. Hartlib.

[Pg 257]



Critics I read on other men,
And Hypers upon them again.—Prior.

I have in my possession Scott's "Critical Essays on some of the Poems of several English Poets,"—a handsome octavo, bought at the sale of Ritson's books; and enriched (or deformed, as some would think it) with MS. annotations in the handwriting of that redoubted Censor. I shall transcribe a few, which seem most characteristic of both the writers—Scott, feeble, but amiable—Ritson, coarse, caustic, clever; and, I am to suppose, not amiable. But they have proved some amusement to me; and, I hope, will produce some to the reader, this rainy season, which really damps a gentleman's wings for any original flight, and obliges him to ransack his shelves, and miscellaneous reading, to furnish an occasional or make-shift paper. If the sky clears up, and the sun dances this Easter (as they say he is wont to do), the town may be troubled with something more in his own way the ensuing month from its poor servant to command.



——The pilgrim oft
At dead of night 'mid his oraison hears
Aghast the voice of time disparting towers,
Tumbling all precipitate down-dashed,
Rattling around, loud-thund'ring to the moon;
While murmurs sooth each awful interval
Of ever-falling waters.


There is a very bold transposition in this passage. A superficial reader, not attending to the sense of the epithet ever, might be ready to suppose that the intervals intended were those between the falling of the waters, instead of those between the falling of the towers.

[Pg 258]


A beauty, as in Thomson's Winter—

——Cheerless towns, far distant, never blest,
Save when its annual course the caravan
Bends to the golden coast of rich Cathay,
With news of human kind.[43]
——Where the broad-bosom'd hills,
Swept with perpetual clouds, of Scotland rise,
Me fate compels to tarry.

A superficial person—Mr. Scott, for instance, would be apt to connect the last clause in this period with the line foregoing—"bends to the coast of Cathay with news," &c. But has a reader nothing to do but to sit passive, while the connexion is to glide into his ears like oil?

[43] May I have leave to notice an instance of the same agreeable discontinuity in my friend Lloyd's admirable poem on Christmas?


The stream is so transparent, pure, and clear,
That, had the self-enamour'd youth gaz'd here,
So fatally deceived he had not been,
While he the bottom, not his face had seen.


The last two lines have more music than Denham's can possibly boast.


May I have leave to conjecture, that in the very last line of all, the word "the" has erroneously crept in? I am persuaded that the poet wrote "his." To my mind, at least, this reading, in a surprising degree, heightens the idea of the extreme clearness and transparency of the stream, where a man might see more than his face (as it were) in it.



The second of these little pieces, called Hassan, or the Camel Driver, is of superior character. This poem contradicts history in one principal instance; the merchants of the east travel in numerous caravans, but Hassan is introduced[Pg 259] travelling alone in the desart. But this circumstance detracts little from our author's merit; adherence to historical fact is seldom required in poetry.


It is always, where the poet unnecessarily transports you to the ends of the world. If he must plague you with exotic scenery, you have a right to exact strict local imagery and costume. Why must I learn Arabic, to read nothing after all but Gay's Fables in another language?


Abra is introduced in a grove, wreathing a flowery chaplet for her hair. Shakspeare himself could not have devised a more natural and pleasing incident, than that of the monarch's attention being attracted by her song:

Great Abbas chanced that fated morn to stray,
By love conducted from the chace away.
Among the vocal vales he heard her song——



O stay thee, Agib, for my feet deny,
No longer friendly to my life, to fly——


From the pen of Cowley, such an observation as Secander's, "that his feet were no longer friendly to his life," might have been expected; but Collins rarely committed such violations of simplicity.


Pen of Cowley! impudent goose-quill, how darest thou guess what Cowley would have written?


Save where the beetle wheels——


The beetle was introduced in poetry by Shakspeare * * *. Shakspeare has made the most of his description; indeed, far too much, considering the occasion:

[Pg 260]

——to black Hecate's summons
The shard-born beetle with his drowsy hum
Hath rung night's yawning peal.——

The imagination must be indeed fertile, which could produce this ill-placed exuberance of imagery. The poet, when composing this passage, must have had in his mind all the remote ideas of Hecate, a heathen Goddess, of a beetle, of night, of a peal of bells, and of that action of the muscles, commonly called a gape or yawn.


Numbscull! that would limit an infinite head by the square contents of thy own numbscull.


The great merit of a poet is not, like Cowley, Donne, and Denham, to say what no man but himself has thought, but what every man besides himself has thought; but no man expressed, or, at least, expressed so well.


In other words, all that is poetry, which Mr. Scott has thought, as well as the poet; but that cannot be poetry, which was not obvious to Mr. Scott, as well as to Cowley, Donne, and Denham.


Mr. Mason observes of the language in this part [the Epitaph], that it has a Doric delicacy. It has, indeed, what I should rather term a happy rusticity.


Come, see
Rural felicity.


No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread,
But all the bloomy flush of life is fled—
All but yon widow'd solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring;
She, wretched matron, forced, in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
[Pg 261]


Our author's language, in this place, is very defective in correctness. After mentioning the general privation of the "bloomy flush of life," the exceptionary "all but" includes, as part of that "bloomy flush," an aged decrepit matron; that is to say, in plain prose, "the bloomy flush of life is all fled but one old woman."


Yet Milton could write:

Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,
Or the bell-man's drowsy charm—

and I dare say he was right. O never let a quaker, or a woman, try their hand at being witty, any more than a Tom Brown affect to speak by the spirit!


——Aaron Hill, who, although, in general, a bombastic writer, produced some pieces of merit, particularly the Caveat, an allegorical satire on Pope.


Say rather his verses on John Dennis, beginning "Adieu, unsocial excellence!" which are implicitly a finer satire on Pope than twenty Caveats. All that Pope could or did say against Dennis, is there condensed; and what he should have said, and did not, for him, is there too.[44]



Adieu, unsocial excellence! at last
Thy foes are vanquish'd, and thy fears are past:
Want, the grim recompense of truth like thine,
Shall now no longer dim thy destined shrine.
The impatient envy, the disdainful air,
The front malignant, and the captious stare,
The furious petulance, the jealous start,
The mist of frailties that obscured thy heart—
Veil'd in thy grave shall unremember'd lie;
For these were parts of Dennis born to die.
But there's a nobler deity behind;
His reason dies not, and has friends to find:

[Pg 262]


Address to the Angler to spare the young fish

If yet too young, and easily deceived,
A worthless prey scarce bends your pliant rod,
Him, piteous of his youth, and the short space
He has enjoy'd the vital light of heaven,
Soft disengage, and back into the stream
The speckled infant throw.——


The praise bestowed on a preceding passage, cannot be justly given to this. There is in it an attempt at dignity above the occasion. Pathos seems to have been intended, but affectation only is produced.


It is not affectation, but it is the mock heroic of pathos, introduced purposely and wisely to attract the reader to a proposal, which from the unimportance of the subject—a poor little fish—might else have escaped his attention—as children learn, or may learn, humanity to animals from the mock romantic "Perambulations of a Mouse."


——Infant hands
Trail the long rake; or, with the fragrant load
O'er-charged, amid the kind oppression roll.


"Kind oppression" is a phrase of that sort, which one scarcely knows whether to blame or praise: it consists of two words, directly opposite in their signification; and yet, perhaps, no phrase whatever could have better conveyed the idea of an easy uninjurious weight—


—and yet he does not know whether to blame or praise it!

Though here revenge and pride withheld his praise,
No wrongs shall reach him through his future days;
The rising ages shall redeem his name,
[Pg 263] And nations read him into lasting fame.
In his defects untaught, his labour'd page
Shall the slow gratitude of Time engage.
Perhaps some story of his pitied woe,
Mix'd in faint shades, may with his memory go,
To touch fraternity with generous shame,
And backward cast an unavailing blame
On times too cold to taste his strength of art,
Yet warm contemners of too weak a heart.
Rest in thy dust, contented with thy lot,
Thy good remember'd, and thy bad forgot.


——By many a dog

The clamour much of men, and boys, and dogs——


The mention of dogs twice was superfluous; it might have been easily avoided.


Very true—by mentioning them only once.


Nature is rich in a variety of minute but striking circumstances; some of which engage the attention of one observer, and some that of another.


This lover of truth never uttered a truer speech. Give me a lie wth a spirit in it.

Air, earth, and ocean, smile immense.——


The bombastic "immense smile of air, &c.," better omitted.


Qute Miltonic—"enormous bliss"—and both, I presume, alike caviare to the Quaker.

[Pg 264]

He comes! he comes! in every breeze the power
Of philosophic melancholy comes!
His near approach, the sudden-starting tear,
The glowing cheek, the mild dejected air,
The soften'd feature, and the beating heart,
Pierced deep with many a virtuous pang, declare.


This fine picture is greatly injured by a few words. The power should have been said to come "upon the breeze;" not "in every breeze;" an expression which indicates a multiplicity of approaches. If he came "in every breeze," he must have been always coming—


—and so he was.

——The branching Oronoque
Rolls a brown deluge, and the native drives
To dwell aloft on life-sufficing trees,
At once his dome, his robe, his food, and arms.
Swell'd by a thousand streams, impetuous hurl'd
From all the roaring Andes, huge descends
The mighty Orellana. Scarce the Muse
Dares stretch her wing o'er this enormous mass
Of rushing water: scarce she dares attempt
The sea-like Plata; to whose dread expanse,
Continuous depth, and wond'rous length of course,
Our floods are rills. With unabated force
In silent dignity they sweep along,
And traverse realms unknown, and blooming wilds,
And fruitful desarts, worlds of solitude,
Where the sun smiles, and seasons teem, in vain,
Unseen and unenjoy'd. Forsaking these,
O'er peopled plains they fair-diffusive flow,
And many a nation feed, and circle safe
In their fair bosom many a happy isle,
The seat of blameless Pan, yet undisturb'd
By Christian crimes, and Europe's cruel sons.
Thus pouring on, they proudly seek the deep,
Whose vanquish'd tide, recoiling from the shock,
Yields to this liquid weight of half the globe,
And Ocean trembles for his green domain.


Poets not unfrequently aim at aggrandising their subject, by avowing their inability to describe it. This is a puerile and[Pg 265] inadequate expedient. Thomson has here, perhaps inadvertently, descended to this feeble art of exaggeration.


A magnificent passage, in spite of Duns Scotus! The poet says not a word about his "inability to describe," nor seems to be thinking about his readers at all. He is confessing his own feelings, awe-struck with the contemplation of such o'erwhelming objects; in the same spirit with which he designates the den of the "green serpent" in another place—

—Which ev'n imagination fears to tread——

——A dazzling deluge reigns, and all
From pole to pole is undistinguish'd blaze.——


From pole to pole, strictly speaking, is improper. The poet meant, "from one part of the horizon to the other."


From his pole to thy pole was a more downward declension than "from the centre thrice," &c.

Ohe! jam satis.



Sir,—You have done me an unfriendly office, without perhaps much considering what you were doing. You have given an ill name to my poor Lucubrations. In a recent Paper on Infidelity, you usher in a conditional commendation of them with an exception; which, preceding the encomium, and taking up nearly the same space with it, must impress your readers with the notion, that the objectionable parts in them are at least equal in quantity to the pardonable. The censure is in fact the criticism; the praise—a concession merely.[Pg 266] Exceptions usually follow, to qualify praise or blame. But there stands your reproof, in the very front of your notice, in ugly characters, like some bugbear, to frighten all good Christians from purchasing. Through you I am become an object of suspicion to preceptors of youth, and fathers of families. "A book, which wants only a sounder religious feeling to be as delightful as it is original." With no further explanation, what must your readers conjecture, but that my little volume is some vehicle for heresy or infidelity? The quotation, which you honour me by subjoining, oddly enough, is of a character, which bespeaks a temperament in the writer the very reverse of that your reproof goes to insinuate. Had you been taxing me with superstition, the passage would have been pertinent to the censure. Was it worth your while to go so far out of your way to affront the feelings of an old friend, and commit yourself by an irrelevant quotation, for the pleasure of reflecting upon a poor child, an exile at Genoa?

I am at a loss what particular Essay you had in view (if my poor ramblings amount to that appellation) when you were in such a hurry to thrust in your objection, like bad news, foremost.—Perhaps the Paper on "Saying Graces" was the obnoxious feature. I have endeavoured there to rescue a voluntary duty—good in place, but never, as I remember, literally commanded—from the charge of an undecent formality. Rightly taken, Sir, that Paper was not against Graces, but Want of Grace; not against the ceremony, but the carelessness and slovenliness so often observed in the performance of it.

Or was it that on the "New Year"—in which I have described the feelings of the merely natural man, on a consideration of the amazing change, which is supposable to take place on our removal from this fleshly scene?—If men would honestly confess their misgivings (which few men will) there are times when the strongest Christians of us, I believe, have reeled under questionings of such staggering obscurity. I do not accuse you of this weakness. There are some who tremblingly reach out shaking hands to the guidance of Faith—Others who stoutly venture into the dark (their Human Confidence their leader, whom they mistake for Faith); and, investing themselves beforehand with Cherubic wings, as they fancy, find their new robes as familiar, and fitting to their supposed growth and stature in godliness, as the coat they[Pg 267] left off yesterday—Some whose hope totters upon crutches—Others who stalk into futurity upon stilts.

The contemplation of a Spiritual World,—which, without the addition of a misgiving conscience, is enough to shake some natures to their foundation—is smoothly got over by others, who shall float over the black billows, in their little boat of No-Distrust, as unconcernedly as over a summer sea. The difference is chiefly constitutional.

One man shall love his friends and his friends' faces; and, under the uncertainty of conversing with them again, in the same manner and familiar circumstances of sight, speech, &c., as upon earth—in a moment of no irreverent weakness—for a dream-while—no more—would be almost content, for a reward of a life of virtue (if he could ascribe such acceptance to his lame performances), to take up his portion with those he loved, and was made to love, in this good world, which he knows—which was created so lovely, beyond his deservings. Another, embracing a more exalted vision—so that he might receive indefinite additaments of power, knowledge, beauty, glory, &c.—is ready to forego the recognition of humbler individualities of earth, and the old familiar faces. The shapings of our heavens are the modifications of our constitution; and Mr. Feeble Mind, or Mr. Great Heart, is born in every one of us.

Some (and such have been accounted the safest divines) have shrunk from pronouncing upon the final state of any man; nor dare they pronounce the case of Judas to be desperate. Others (with stronger optics), as plainly as with the eye of flesh, shall behold a given king in bliss, and a given chamberlain in torment; even to the eternising of a cast of the eye in the latter, his own self-mocked and good-humouredly-borne deformity on earth, but supposed to aggravate the uncouth and hideous expression of his pangs in the other place. That one man can presume so far, and that another would with shuddering disclaim such confidences, is, I believe, an effect of the nerves purely.

If in either of these Papers, or elsewhere, I have been betrayed into some levities—not affronting the sanctuary, but glancing perhaps at some of the out-skirts and extreme edges, the debateable land between the holy and the profane regions—(for the admixture of man's inventions, twisting themselves with the name of religion itself, has artfully made it difficult[Pg 268] to touch even the alloy, without, in some men's estimation, soiling the fine gold)—If I have sported within the purlieus of serious matter—it was, I dare say, a humour—be not startled, Sir—which I have unwittingly derived from yourself. You have all your life been making a jest of the Devil. Not of the scriptural meaning of that dark essence—personal or allegorical; for the nature is no where plainly delivered. I acquit you of intentional irreverence. But indeed you have made wonderfully free with, and been mighty pleasant upon, the popular idea and attributes of him. A noble Lord, your brother Visionary, has scarcely taken greater liberties with the material keys, and merely Catholic notion of St. Peter.—You have flattered him in prose: you have chanted him in goodly odes. You have been his Jester; Volunteer Laureat, and self-elected Court Poet to Beëlzebub.

You have never ridiculed, I believe, what you thought to be religion, but you are always girding at what some pious, but perhaps mistaken folks, think to be so. For this reason I am sorry to hear, that you are engaged upon a life of George Fox. I know you will fall into the error of intermixing some comic stuff with your seriousness. The Quakers tremble at the subject in your hands. The Methodists are shy of you, upon account of their founder. But, above all, our Popish brethren are most in your debt. The errors of that church have proved a fruitful source to your scoffing vein. Their Legend has been a Golden one to you. And here, your friends, Sir, have noticed a notable inconsistency. To the imposing rites, the solemn penances, devout austerities of that communion; the affecting though erring piety of their hermits; the silence and solitude of the Chartreux—their crossings, their holy waters—their Virgin, and their saints—to these, they say, you have been indebted for the best feelings, and the richest imagery, of your Epic poetry. You have drawn copious drafts upon Loretto. We thought at one time you were going post to Rome—but that in the facetious commentaries, which it is your custom to append so plentifully, and (some say) injudiciously, to your loftiest performances in this kind, you spurn the uplifted toe, which you but just now seemed to court; leave his holiness in the lurch; and show him a fair pair of Protestant heels under your Romish vestment. When we think you already at the wicket, suddenly a violent cross wind blows you transverse[Pg 269]

ten thousand leagues awry.
Then might we see
Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tost
And flutter'd into rags; then reliques, beads,
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds.

You pick up pence by showing the hallowed bones, shrine, and crucifix; and you take money a second time by exposing the trick of them afterwards. You carry your verse to Castle Angelo for sale in a morning; and, swifter than a pedlar can transmute his pack, you are at Canterbury with your prose ware before night.

Sir, is it that I dislike you in this merry vein? The very reverse. No countenance becomes an intelligent jest better than your own. It is your grave aspect, when you look awful upon your poor friends, which I would deprecate.

In more than one place, if I mistake not, you have been pleased to compliment me at the expence of my companions. I cannot accept your compliment at such a price. The upbraiding a man's poverty naturally makes him look about him, to see whether he be so poor indeed as he is presumed to be. You have put me upon counting my riches. Really, Sir, I did not know I was so wealthy in the article of friendships. There is——, and——, whom you never heard of, but exemplary characters both, and excellent church-goers; and N., mine and my father's friend for nearly half a century; and the enthusiast for Wordsworth's poetry, T. N. T., a little tainted with Socinianism, it is to be feared, but constant in his attachments, and a capital critic; and——, a sturdy old Athanasian, so that sets all to rights again; and W., the light, and warm-as-light hearted, Janus of the London; and the translator of Dante, still a curate, modest and amiable C.; and Allan C., the large-hearted Scot; and P——r, candid and affectionate as his own poetry; and A——p, Coleridge's friend; and G——n, his more than friend; and Coleridge himself, the same to me still, as in those old evenings, when we used to sit and speculate (do you remember them, Sir?) at our old Salutation tavern, upon Pantisocracy and golden days to come on earth; and W——th, (why, Sir, I might drop my rent-roll here; such goodly farms and manors have I reckoned up already. In what possessions has not this last name alone estated me[Pg 270]!—but I will go on)—and M., the noble-minded kinsman, by wedlock, of W——th; and H. C. R., unwearied in the offices of a friend; and Clarkson, almost above the narrowness of that relation, yet condescending not seldom heretofore from the labours of his world-embracing charity to bless my humble roof; and the gall-less and single-minded Dyer; and the high-minded associate of Cook, the veteran Colonel, with his lusty heart still sending cartels of defiance to old Time; and, not least, W. A., the last and steadiest left to me of that little knot of whist-players, that used to assemble weekly, for so many years, at the Queen's Gate (you remember them, Sir?) and called Admiral Burney friend.

I will come to the point at once. I believe you will not make many exceptions to my associates so far. But I have purposely omitted some intimacies, which I do not yet repent of having contracted, with two gentlemen, diametrically opposed to yourself in principles. You will understand me to allude to the authors of Rimini and of the Table Talk. And first, of the former.——

It is an error more particularly incident to persons of the correctest principles and habits, to seclude themselves from the rest of mankind, as from another species; and form into knots and clubs. The best people, herding thus exclusively, are in danger of contracting a narrowness. Heat and cold, dryness and moisture, in the natural world, do not fly asunder, to split the globe into sectarian parts and separations; but mingling, as they best may, correct the malignity of any single predominance. The analogy holds, I suppose, in the moral world. If all the good people were to ship themselves off to Terra Incognitas, what, in humanity's name, is to become of the refuse? If the persons, whom I have chiefly in view, have not pushed matters to this extremity yet, they carry them as far as they can go. Instead of mixing with the infidel and the freethinker—in the room of opening a negociation, to try at least to find out at which gate the error entered—they huddle close together, in a weak fear of infection, like that pusillanimous underling in Spenser—

This is the wandering wood, this Error's den;
A monster vile, whom God and man does hate:
Therefore, I reed, beware. Fly, fly, quoth then
The fearful Dwarf,

and, if they be writers in orthodox journals—addressing them[Pg 271]selves only to the irritable passions of the unbeliever—they proceed in a safe system of strengthening the strong hands, and confirming the valiant knees; of converting the already converted, and proselyting their own party. I am the more convinced of this from a passage in the very Treatise which occasioned this letter. It is where, having recommended to the doubter the writings of Michaelis and Lardner, you ride triumphant over the necks of all infidels, sceptics, and dissenters, from this time to the world's end, upon the wheels of two unanswerable deductions. I do not hold it meet to set down, in a Miscellaneous Compilation like this, such religious words as you have thought fit to introduce into the pages of a petulant Literary Journal. I therefore beg leave to substitute numerals, and refer to the Quarterly Review (for July) for filling of them up. "Here," say you, "as in the history of 7, if these books are authentic, the events which they relate must be true; if they were written by 8, 9 is 10 and 11." Your first deduction, if it means honestly, rests upon two identical propositions; though I suspect an unfairness in one of the terms, which this would not be quite the proper place for explicating. At all events you have no cause to triumph; you have not been proving the premises, but refer for satisfaction therein to very long and laborious works, which may well employ the sceptic a twelvemonth or two to digest, before he can possibly be ripe for your conclusion. When he has satisfied himself about the premises, he will concede to you the inference, I dare say, most readily.—But your latter deduction, viz. that because 8 has written a book concerning 9, therefore 10 and 11 was certainly his meaning, is one of the most extraordinary conclusions per saltum that I have had the good fortune to meet with. As far as 10 is verbally asserted in the writings, all sects must agree with you; but you cannot be ignorant of the many various ways in which the doctrine of the * * * * * * * * * has been understood, from a low figurative expression (with the Unitarians) up to the most mysterious actuality; in which highest sense alone you and your church take it. And for 11, that there is no other possible conclusion—to hazard this in the face of so many thousands of Arians and Socinians, &c., who have drawn so opposite a one, is such a piece of theological hardihood, as, I think, warrants me in concluding that, when you sit down to pen theology, you do not at all consider your[Pg 272] opponents; but have in your eye, merely and exclusively, readers of the same way of thinking with yourself, and therefore have no occasion to trouble yourself with the quality of the logic, to which you treat them.

Neither can I think, if you had had the welfare of the poor child—over whose hopeless condition you whine so lamentably and (I must think) unseasonably—seriously at heart, that you could have taken the step of sticking him up by name—T. H. is as good as naming him—to perpetuate an outrage upon the parental feelings, as long as the Quarterly Review shall last.—Was it necessary to specify an individual case, and give to Christian compassion the appearance of personal attack? Is this the way to conciliate unbelievers, or not rather to widen the breach irreparably?

I own I could never think so considerably of myself as to decline the society of an agreeable or worthy man upon difference of opinion only. The impediments and the facilitations to a sound belief are various and inscrutable as the heart of man. Some believe upon weak principles. Others cannot feel the efficacy of the strongest. One of the most candid, most upright, and single-meaning men, I ever knew, was the late Thomas Holcroft. I believe he never said one thing and meant another, in his life; and, as near as I can guess, he never acted otherwise than with the most scrupulous attention to conscience. Ought we to wish the character false, for the sake of a hollow compliment to Christianity?

Accident introduced me to the acquaintance of Mr. L. H.—and the experience of his many friendly qualities confirmed a friendship between us. You, who have been misrepresented yourself, I should hope, have not lent an idle ear to the calumnies which have been spread abroad respecting this gentleman. I was admitted to his household for some years, and do most solemnly aver that I believe him to be in his domestic relations as correct as any man. He chose an ill-judged subject for a poem; the peccant humours of which have been visited on him tenfold by the artful use, which his adversaries have made, of an equivocal term. The subject itself was started by Dante, but better because brieflier treated of. But the crime of the Lovers, in the Italian and the English poet, with its aggravated enormity of circumstance, is not of a kind (as the critics of the latter well knew) with those conjunctions, for which Nature herself has provided no excuse, because no[Pg 273] temptation.—It has nothing in common with the black horrors, sung by Ford and Massinger. The familiarising of it in tale or fable may be for that reason incidentally more contagious. In spite of Rimini, I must look upon its author as a man of taste, and a poet. He is better than so, he is one of the most cordial-minded men I ever knew, and matchless as a fire-side companion. I mean not to affront or wound your feelings when I say that, in his more genial moods, he has often reminded me of you. There is the same air of mild dogmatism—the same condescending to a boyish sportiveness—in both your conversations. His hand-writing is so much the same with your own, that I have opened more than one letter of his, hoping, nay, not doubting, but it was from you, and have been disappointed (he will bear with my saying so) at the discovery of my error. L. H. is unfortunate in holding some loose and not very definite speculations (for at times I think he hardly knows whither his premises would carry him) on marriage—the tenets, I conceive, of the Political Justice, carried a little further. For any thing I could discover in his practice, they have reference, like those, to some future possible condition of society, and not to the present times. But neither for these obliquities of thinking (upon which my own conclusions are as distant as the poles asunder)—nor for his political asperities and petulancies, which are wearing out with the heats and vanities of youth—did I select him for a friend; but for qualities which fitted him for that relation. I do not know whether I flatter myself with being the occasion, but certain it is, that, touched with some misgivings for sundry harsh things which he had written aforetime against our friend C.,—before he left this country he sought a reconciliation with that gentleman (himself being his own introducer), and found it.

L. H. is now in Italy; on his departure to which land with much regret I took my leave of him and of his little family—seven of them, Sir, with their mother—and as kind a set of little people (T. H. and all), as affectionate children, as ever blessed a parent. Had you seen them, Sir, I think you could not have looked upon them as so many little Jonases—but rather as pledges of the vessel's safety, that was to bear such a freight of love.

I wish you would read Mr. H.'s lines to that same T. H., "six years old, during a sickness:"

[Pg 274]

Sleep breaks [breathes] at last from out thee,
My little patient boy—

(they are to be found on the 47th page of "Foliage")—and ask yourself how far they are out of the spirit of Christianity. I have a letter from Italy, received but the other day, into which L. H. has put as much heart, and as many friendly yearnings after old associates, and native country, as, I think, paper can well hold. It would do you no hurt to give that the perusal also.

From the other gentleman I neither expect nor desire (as he is well assured) any such concessions as L. H. made to C. What hath soured him, and made him to suspect his friends of infidelity towards him, when there was no such matter, I know not. I stood well with him for fifteen years (the proudest of my life), and have ever spoke my full mind of him to some, to whom his panegyric must naturally be least tasteful. I never in thought swerved from him, I never betrayed him, I never slackened in my admiration of him, I was the same to him (neither better nor worse) though he could not see it, as in the days when he thought fit to trust me. At this instant, he may be preparing for me some compliment, above my deserts, as he has sprinkled many such among his admirable books, for which I rest his debtor; or, for any thing I know, or can guess to the contrary, he may be about to read a lecture on my weaknesses. He is welcome to them (as he was to my humble hearth), if they can divert a spleen, or ventilate a fit of sullenness. I wish he would not quarrel with the world at the rate he does; but the reconciliation must be effected by himself, and I despair of living to see that day. But, protesting against much that he has written, and some things which he chooses to do; judging him by his conversation, which I enjoyed so long, and relished so deeply; or by his books, in those places where no clouding passion intervenes—I should belie my own conscience, if I said less, than that I think W. H. to be, in his natural and healthy state, one of the wisest and finest spirits breathing. So far from being ashamed of that intimacy, which was betwixt us, it is my boast that I was able for so many years to have preserved it entire; and I think I shall go to my grave without finding, or expecting to find, such another companion. But I forget my manners—you will pardon me, Sir—I return to the correspondence.—[Pg 275]

Sir, you were pleased (you know where) to invite me to a compliance with the wholesome forms and doctrines of the Church of England. I take your advice with as much kindness, as it was meant. But I must think the invitation rather more kind than seasonable. I am a Dissenter. The last sect, with which you can remember me to have made common profession, were the Unitarians. You would think it not very pertinent, if (fearing that all was not well with you), I were gravely to invite you (for a remedy) to attend with me a course of Mr. Belsham's Lectures at Hackney. Perhaps I have scruples to some of your forms and doctrines. But if I come, am I secure of civil treatment?—The last time I was in any of your places of worship was on Easter Sunday last. I had the satisfaction of listening to a very sensible sermon of an argumentative turn, delivered with great propriety, by one of your bishops. The place was Westminster Abbey. As such religion, as I have, has always acted on me more by way of sentiment than argumentative process, I was not unwilling, after sermon ended, by no unbecoming transition, to pass over to some serious feelings, impossible to be disconnected from the sight of those old tombs, &c. But, by whose order I know not, I was debarred that privilege even for so short a space as a few minutes; and turned, like a dog or some profane person, out into the common street; with feelings, which I could not help, but not very genial to the day or the discourse. I do not know that I shall ever venture myself again into one of your Churches.

You had your education at Westminster; and doubtless among those dim aisles and cloisters, you must have gathered much of that devotional feeling in those young years, on which your purest mind feeds still—and may it feed! The antiquarian spirit, strong in you, and gracefully blending ever with the religious, may have been sown in you among those wrecks of splendid mortality. You owe it to the place of your education; you owe it to your learned fondness for the architecture of your ancestors; you owe it to the venerableness of your ecclesiastical establishment, which is daily lessened and called in question through these practices—to speak aloud your sense of them; never to desist [from] raising your voice against them, till they be totally done away with and abolished; till the doors of Westminster Abbey be no longer closed against the decent, though low-in-purse, enthusiast, or blameless de[Pg 276]votee, who must commit an injury against his family economy, if he would be indulged with a bare admission within its walls. You owe it to the decencies, which you wish to see maintained in its impressive services, that our Cathedral be no longer an object of inspection to the poor at those times only, in which they must rob from their attendance on the worship every minute which they can bestow upon the fabrick. In vain the public prints have taken up this subject, in vain such poor nameless writers as myself express their indignation. A word from you, Sir—a hint in your Journal—would be sufficient to fling open the doors of the Beautiful Temple again, as we can remember them when we were boys. At that time of life, what would the imaginative faculty (such as it is) in both of us, have suffered, if the entrance to so much reflection had been obstructed by the demand of so much silver!—If we had scraped it up to gain an occasional admission (as we certainly should have done) would the sight of those old tombs have been as impressive to us (while we had been weighing anxiously prudence against sentiment) as when the gates stood open, as those of the adjacent Park; when we could walk in at any time, as the mood brought us, for a shorter or longer time, as that lasted? Is the being shown over a place the same as silently for ourselves detecting the genius of it? In no part of our beloved Abbey now can a person find entrance (out of service time) under the sum of two shillings. The rich and the great will smile at the anticlimax, presumed to lie in these two short words. But you can tell them, Sir, how much quiet worth, how much capacity for enlarged feeling, how much taste and genius, may coexist, especially in youth, with a purse incompetent to this demand.—A respected friend of ours, during his late visit to the metropolis, presented himself for admission to Saint Paul's. At the same time a decently clothed man, with as decent a wife, and child, were bargaining for the same indulgence. The price was only two-pence each person. The poor but decent man hesitated, desirous to go in; but there were three of them, and he turned away reluctantly. Perhaps he wished to have seen the tomb of Nelson. Perhaps the Interior of the Cathedral was his object. But in the state of his finances, even sixpence might reasonably seem too much. Tell the Aristocracy of the country (no man can do it more impressively); instruct them of what value these insignificant pieces of money, these minims to their sight, may[Pg 277] be to their humbler brethren. Shame these Sellers out of the Temple. Show the poor, that you can sometimes think of them in some other light than as mutineers and mal-contents. Conciliate them by such kind methods to their superiors, civil and ecclesiastical. Stop the mouths of the railers; and suffer your old friends, upon the old terms, again to honour and admire you. Stifle not the suggestions of your better nature with the stale evasion, that an indiscriminate admission would expose the Tombs to violation. Remember your boy-days. Did you ever see, or hear, of a mob in the Abbey, while it was free to all? Did the rabble come there, or trouble their heads about such speculations? It is all that you can do to drive them into your churches; they do not voluntarily offer themselves. They have, alas! no passion for antiquities; for tomb of king or prelate, sage or poet. If they had, they would be no longer the rabble.

For forty years that I have known the Fabrick, the only well-attested charge of violation adduced, has been—a ridiculous dismemberment committed upon the effigy of that amiable spy Major André. And is it for this—the wanton mischief of some school-boy, fired perhaps with raw notions of Transatlantic Freedom—or the remote possibility of such a mischief occurring again, so easily to be prevented by stationing a constable within the walls, if the vergers are incompetent to the duty—is it upon such wretched pretences, that the people of England are made to pay a new Peter's Pence, so long abrogated; or must content themselves with contemplating the ragged Exterior of their Cathedral? The mischief was done about the time that you were a scholar there. Do you know any thing about the unfortunate relic?—can you help us in this emergency to find the nose?—or can you give Chantry a notion (from memory) of its pristine life and vigour? I am willing for peace' sake to subscribe my guinea towards a restoration of the lamented feature.

I am, Sir,

Your humble servant,


[Pg 278]


(1811 and 1823)

A very ingenious and subtle writer, whom there is good reason for suspecting to be an Ex-Jesuit, not unknown at Douay some five-and-twenty years since (he will not obtrude himself at M——th again in a hurry), about a twelvemonth back, set himself to prove the character of the Powder Plot conspirators to have been that of heroic self-devotedness and true Christian martyrdom. Under the mask of Protestant candour, he actually gained admission for his treatise into a London weekly paper, not particularly distinguished for its zeal towards either religion. But, admitting Catholic principles, his arguments are shrewd and incontrovertible. He says—

Guy Faux was a fanatic, but he was no hypocrite. He ranks among good haters. He was cruel, bloody-minded, reckless of all considerations but those of an infuriated and bigoted faith; but he was a true son of the Catholic Church, a martyr and a confessor, for all that. He who can prevail upon himself to devote his life for a cause, however we may condemn his opinions or abhor his actions, vouches at least for the honesty of his principles and the disinterestedness of his motives. He may be guilty of the worst practices, but he is capable of the greatest. He is no longer a slave, but free. The contempt of death is the beginning of virtue. The hero of the Gunpowder-Plot was, if you will, a fool, a madman, an assassin; call him what names you please: still he was neither knave nor coward. He did not propose to blow up the Parliament and come off scot-free, himself; he showed that he valued his own life no more than theirs in such a cause—where the integrity of the Catholic faith and the salvation of perhaps millions of souls was at stake. He did not call it a murder, but a sacrifice which he was about to achieve: he was armed with the Holy Spirit and with fire: he was the Church's chosen servant and her blessed martyr. He comforted himself as "the best of cut-throats." How many wretches are there who would have undertaken to do what he intended for a sum of money, if they could have got off with impunity! How few are there who would have put themselves in Guy Faux's situation to save the universe! Yet in the latter case we affect to be thrown into greater consternation than at the most unredeemed acts of villany, as if the absolute disinterestedness of the motive doubled the horror of the deed! The cowardice and selfishness of mankind are in fact shocked at the consequences to themselves (if such examples are held up for imitation,) and they make a fearful outcry against the violation of every principle of morality, lest they too should be called on for any such tremendous sacrifices—lest they in their turn should have to go on the forlorn hope of extra-official duty. Charity begins at home, is a maxim that prevails[Pg 279] as well in the courts of conscience as in those of prudence. We would be thought to shudder at the consequences of crime to others, while we tremble for them to ourselves. We talk of the dark and cowardly assassin; and this is well, when an individual shrinks from the face of an enemy, and purchases his own safety by striking a blow in the dark: but how the charge of cowardly can be applied to the public assassin, who, in the very act of destroying another, lays down his life as the pledge and forfeit of his sincerity and boldness, I am at a loss to devise. There may be barbarous prejudice, rooted hatred, unprincipled treachery, in such an act; but he who resolves to take all the danger and odium upon himself, can no more be branded with cowardice, than Regulus devoting himself for his country, or Codrus leaping into the fiery gulf. A wily Father Inquisitor, coolly and with plenary authority condemning hundreds of helpless, unoffending victims, to the flames or to the horrors of a living tomb, while he himself would not suffer a hair of his head to be hurt, is to me a character without any qualifying trait in it. Again; the Spanish conqueror and hero, the favourite of his monarch, who enticed thirty thousand poor Mexicans into a large open building, under promise of strict faith and cordial good-will, and then set fire to it, making sport of the cries and agonies of these deluded creatures, is an instance of uniting the most hardened cruelty with the most heartless selfishness. His plea was keeping no faith with heretics: this was Guy Faux's too; but I am sure at least that the latter kept faith with himself: he was in earnest in his professions. His was not gay, wanton, unfeeling depravity; he did not murder in sport; it was serious work that he had taken in hand. To see this arch-bigot, this heart-whole traitor, this pale miner in the infernal regions, skulking in his retreat with his cloak and dark lanthorn, moving cautiously about among his barrels of gunpowder loaded with death, but not yet ripe for destruction, regardless of the lives of others, and more than indifferent to his own, presents a picture of the strange infatuation of the human understanding, but not of the depravity of the human will, without an equal. There were thousands of pious Papists privy to and ready to applaud the deed when done:—there was no one but our old fifth-of-November friend, who still flutters in rags and straw on the occasion, that had the courage to attempt it. In him stern duty and unshaken faith prevailed over natural frailty.

It is impossible, upon Catholic principles, not to admit the force of this reasoning; we can only not help smiling (with the writer) at the simplicity of the gulled editor, swallowing the dregs of Loyola for the very quintessence of sublimated reason in England at the commencement of the nineteenth century. We will just, as a contrast, show what we Protestants (who are a party concerned) thought upon the same subject, at a period rather nearer to the heroic project in question.

The Gunpowder Treason was the subject which called forth the earliest specimen which is left us of the pulpit eloquence of Jeremy Taylor. When he preached the Sermon[Pg 280] on that anniversary, which is printed at the end of the folio edition of his Sermons, he was a young man just commencing his ministry, under the auspices of Archbishop Laud. From the learning, and maturest oratory, which it manifests, one should rather have conjectured it to have proceeded from the same person after he was ripened by time into a Bishop and Father of the Church.—"And, really, these Romano-barbari could never pretend to any precedent for an act so barbarous as theirs. Adramelech, indeed, killed a king, but he spared the people; Haman would have killed the people, but spared the king; but that both king and people, princes and judges, branch and rush and root, should die at once (as if Caligula's wish were actuated, and all England upon one head), was never known till now, that all the malice of the world met in this as in a centre. The Sicilian even-song, the matins of St. Bartholomew, known for the pitiless and damned massacres, were but [Greek: kapnou skias onar], the dream of the shadow of smoke, if compared with this great fire. In tam occupato sæculo fabulas vulgares nequitia non invenit. This was a busy age; Herostratus must have invented a more sublimed malice than the burning of one temple, or not have been so much as spoke of since the discovery of the powder treason. But I must make more haste, I shall not else climb the sublimity of this impiety. Nero was sometimes the populare odium, was popularly hated, and deserved it too, for he slew his master, and his wife, and all his family, once or twice over,—opened his mother's womb,—fired the city, laughed at it, slandered the Christians for it; but yet all these were but principia malorum, the very first rudiments of evil. Add, then, to these, Herod's master-piece at Ramah, as it was deciphered by the tears and sad threnes of the matrons in an universal mourning for the loss of their pretty infants; yet this of Herod will prove but an infant wickedness, and that of Nero the evil but of one city. I would willingly have found out an example, but see I cannot; should I put into the scale the extract of all the old tyrants famous in antique stories,—

Bistonii stabulum regis, Busiridis aras,
Antiphatæ mensas, et Taurica regna Thoantis;—

should I take for true story the highest cruelty as it was fancied by the most hieroglyphical Egyptian, this alone would[Pg 281] weigh them down, as if the Alps were put in a scale against the dust of a balance. For had this accursed treason prospered, we should have had the whole kingdom mourn for the inestimable loss of its chiefest glory, its life, its present joy, and all its very hopes for the future. For such was their destined malice, that they would not only have inflicted so cruel a blow, but have made it incurable, by cutting off our supplies of joy, the whole succession of the Line Royal. Not only the vine itself, but all the gemmulæ, and the tender olive branches, should either have been bent to their intentions, and made to grow crooked, or else been broken.

"And now, after such a sublimity of malice, I will not instance in the sacrilegious ruin of the neighbouring temples, which needs must have perished in the flame,—nor in the disturbing the ashes of our intombed kings, devouring their dead ruins like sepulchral dogs,—these are but minutes, in respect of the ruin prepared for the living temples:—

Stragem sed istam non tulit
Christus cadentum Principum
Impune, ne forsan sui
Patris periret fabrica.
Ergo quæ poterit lingua retexere
Laudes, Christe, tuas, qui domitum struis
Infidum populum cum Duce perfido!"

In such strains of eloquent indignation did Jeremy Taylor's young oratory inveigh against that stupendous attempt, which he truly says had no parallel in ancient or modern times. A century and a half of European crimes has elapsed since he made the assertion, and his position remains in its strength. He wrote near the time in which the nefarious project had like to have been completed. Men's minds still were shuddering from the recentness of the escape. It must have been within his memory, or have been sounded in his ears so young by his parents, that he would seem, in his maturer years, to have remembered it. No wonder then that he describes it in words that burn. But to us, to whom the tradition has come slowly down, and has had time to cool, the story of Guido Vaux sounds rather like a tale, a fable, and an invention, than true history. It supposes such gigantic audacity of daring, combined with such more than infantile stupidity in the motive,—such a combination of the fiend and the monkey,—that credulity is almost swallowed up in contemplating the singu[Pg 282]larity of the attempt. It has accordingly, in some degree, shared the fate of fiction. It is familiarized to us in a kind of serio-ludicrous way, like the story of Guy of Warwick, or Valentine and Orson. The way which we take to perpetuate the memory of this deliverance is well adapted to keep up this fabular notion. Boys go about the streets annually with a beggarly scarecrow dressed up, which is to be burnt, indeed, at night, with holy zeal; but, meantime, they beg a penny for poor Guy: this periodical petition, which we have heard from our infancy,—combined with the dress and appearance of the effigy, so well calculated to move compassion,—has the effect of quite removing from our fancy the horrid circumstances of the story which is thus commemorated; and in poor Guy vainly should we try to recognize any of the features of that tremendous madman in iniquity, Guido Vaux, with his horrid crew of accomplices, that sought to emulate earthquakes and bursting volcanoes in their more than mortal mischief.

Indeed, the whole ceremony of burning Guy Faux, or the Pope, as he is indifferently called, is a sort of Treason Travestie, and admirably adapted to lower our feelings upon this memorable subject. The printers of the little duodecimo Prayer Book, printed by T. Baskett,[45] in 1749, which has the effigy of his sacred Majesty George II. piously prefixed, have illustrated the service (a very fine one in itself) which is appointed for the Anniversary of this Day, with a print, which it is not very easy to describe, but the contents appear to be these:—The scene is a room, I conjecture, in the king's palace. Two persons,—one of whom I take to be James himself, from his wearing his hat while the other stands bareheaded,—are intently surveying a sort of speculum, or magic mirror, which stands upon a pedestal in the midst of the room, in which a little figure of Guy Faux with his dark lantern approaching the door of the Parliament House is made discernible by the light proceeding from a great eye which shines in from the topmost corner of the apartment, by which eye the pious artist no doubt meant to designate Providence. On the other side of the mirror, is a figure doing something, which puzzled me[Pg 283] when a child, and continues to puzzle me now. The best I can make of it is, that it is a conspirator busy laying the train,—but then, why is he represented in the king's chamber?—Conjecture upon so fantastical a design is vain, and I only notice the print as being one of the earliest graphic representations which woke my childhood into wonder, and doubtless combined with the mummery before-mentioned, to take off the edge of that horror which the naked historical mention of Guido's conspiracy could not have failed of exciting.

[45] The same, I presume, upon whom the clergyman in the song of the Vicar and Moses, not without judgment, passes this memorable censure—

Here, Moses, the King:—
'Tis a scandalous thing
That this Baskett should print for the Crown.

Now that so many years are past since that abominable machination was happily frustrated, it will not, I hope, be considered a profane sporting with the subject, if we take no very serious survey of the consequences that would have flowed from this plot if it had had a successful issue. The first thing that strikes us, in a selfish point of view, is the material change which it must have produced in the course of the nobility. All the ancient peerage being extinguished, as it was intended, at one blow, the Red-Book must have been closed for ever, or a new race of peers must have been created to supply the deficiency; as the first part of this dilemma is a deal too shocking to think of, what a fund of mouth-watering reflections does this give rise to in the breast of us plebeians of A.D. 1823. Why you or I, reader, might have been Duke of —— or Earl of ——: I particularize no titles, to avoid the least suspicion of intention to usurp the dignities of the two noblemen whom I have in my eye:—but a feeling more dignified than envy sometimes excites a sigh, when I think how the posterity of Guido's Legion of Honour (among whom you or I might have been) might have rolled down "dulcified," as Burke expresses it, "by an exposure to the influence of heaven in a long flow of generations, from the hard, acidulous, metallic tincture of the spring."[46] What new orders of merit, think you, this English Napoleon would have chosen? Knights of the Barrel, or Lords of the Tub, Grand Almoners of the Cellar, or Ministers of Explosion. We should have given the Train couchant, and the Fire rampant in our arms; we should have quartered the dozen white matches in our coats;—the Shallows would have been nothing to us.

[46] Letter to a Noble Lord.

Turning away from these mortifying reflections, let us[Pg 284] contemplate its effects upon the other house, for they were all to have gone together,—King, Lords, Commons.——

To assist our imagination, let us take leave to suppose,—and we do it in the harmless wantonness of fancy,—to suppose that the tremendous explosion had taken place in our days;—we better know what a House of Commons is in our days, and can better estimate our loss;—let us imagine, then, to ourselves, the United Members sitting in full conclave above—Faux just ready with his train and matches below; in his hand a "reed tipt with fire"—he applies the fatal engine——

To assist our notions still further, let us suppose some lucky dog of a reporter, who had escaped by miracle upon some plank of St. Stephen's benches, and came plump upon the roof of the adjacent Abbey, from whence descending, at some neighbouring coffee-house, first wiping his clothes and calling for a glass of lemonade, he sits down and reports what he had heard and seen (quorum pars magna fuit) for the Morning Post or the Courier,—we can scarcely imagine him describing the event in any other words but some such as these:—

"A Motion was put and carried, That this House do adjourn: That the Speaker do quit the Chair. The House ROSE amid clamours for Order."

In some such way the event might most technically have been conveyed to the public. But a poetical mind, not content with this dry method of narration, cannot help pursuing the effects of this tremendous blowing up, this adjournment in the air sine die. It sees the benches mount,—the Chair first, and then the benches, and first the Treasury Bench, hurried up in this nitrous explosion; the Members, as it were, pairing off; Whigs and Tories taking their friendly apotheosis together, (as they did their sandwiches below in Bellamy's room). Fancy, in her flight, keeps pace with the aspiring legislators, she sees the awful seat of order mounting till it becomes finally fixed a constellation, next to Cassiopeia's chair,—the wig of him that sat in it taking its place near Berenice's curls. St. Peter, at Heaven's wicket,—no, not St. Peter,—St. Stephen, with open arms, receives his own.——

While Fancy beholds these celestial appropriations, Reason, no less pleased, discerns the mighty benefit which so complete a renovation must produce below. Let the most determined foe to corruption, the most thorough-paced re[Pg 285]dresser of abuses, try to conceive a more absolute purification of the House than this was calculated to produce;—why, Pride's Purge was nothing to it;—the whole borough-mongering system would have been got rid of, fairly exploded;—with it, the senseless distinctions of party must have disappeared; faction must have vanished; corruption have expired in air. From Hundred, Tything, and Wapentake, some new Alfred would have convened, in all its purity, the primitive Wittenagemot,—fixed upon a basis of property or population, permanent as the poles——

From this dream of universal restitution, Reason and Fancy with difficulty awake to view the real state of things. But, blessed be Heaven, St. Stephen's walls are yet standing, all her seats firmly secured; nay, some have doubted (since the Septennial Act) whether gunpowder itself, or any thing short of a Committee above stairs, would be able to shake any one member from his seat;—that great and final improvement to the Abbey, which is all that seems wanting,—the removing Westminster-hall and its appendages, and letting in the view of the Thames,—must not be expected in our days. Dismissing, therefore, all such speculations as mere tales of a tub, it is the duty of every honest Englishman to endeavour, by means less wholesale than Guido's, to ameliorate, without extinguishing, Parliaments; to hold the lantern to the dark places of corruption; to apply the match to the rotten parts of the system only; and to wrap himself up, not in the muffling mantle of conspiracy, but in the warm, honest cloak of integrity and patriotic intention.



On a Passage in "The Tempest"


As long as I can remember the play of the Tempest, one passage in it has always set me upon wondering. It has puzzled me beyond measure. In vain I strove to find the[Pg 286] meaning of it. I seemed doomed to cherish infinite hopeless curiosity.

It is where Prospero, relating the banishment of Sycorax from Argier, adds—

—For one thing that she did
They would not take her life—

how have I pondered over this, when a boy! how have I longed for some authentic memoir of the witch to clear up the obscurity!—Was the story extant in the Chronicles of Algiers? Could I get at it by some fortunate introduction to the Algerine ambassador? Was a voyage thither practicable? The Spectator (I knew) went to Grand Cairo, only to measure a pyramid. Was not the object of my quest of at least as much importance?—The blue-eyed hag—could she have done any thing good or meritorious? might that Succubus relent? then might there be hope for the devil. I have often admired since, that none of the commentators have boggled at this passage—how they could swallow this camel—such a tantalising piece of obscurity, such an abortion of an anecdote.

At length I think I have lighted upon a clue, which may lead to show what was passing in the mind of Shakspeare when he dropped this imperfect rumour. In the "accurate description of Africa, by John Ogilby (Folio), 1670," page 230, I find written, as follows. The marginal title to the narrative is—

Charles the Fifth besieges Algier

In the last place, we will briefly give an Account of the Emperour Charles the Fifth, when he besieg'd this City; and of the great Loss he suffer'd therein.

This Prince in the Year One thousand five hundred forty one, having Embarqued upon the Sea an Army of Twenty two thousand Men aboard Eighteen Gallies, and an hundred tall Ships, not counting the Barques and Shallops, and other small Boats, in which he had engaged the principal of the Spanish and Italian Nobility, with a good number of the Knights of Maltha; he was to Land on the Coast of Barbary, at a Cape call'd Matifou. From this place unto the City of Algier a flat Shore or Strand extends it self for about four Leagues, the which is exceeding favourable to Gallies. There he put ashore with his Army, and in a few days caused a Fortress to be built, which unto this day is call'd The Castle of the Emperor.

In the meantime the City of Algier took the Alarm, having in it at that time but Eight hundred Turks, and Six thousand Moors, poor[Pg 287]spirited men, and unexercised in Martial affairs; besides it was at that time Fortifi'd onely with Walls, and had no Out-works: Insomuch that by reason of its weakness, and the great Forces of the Emperour, it could not in appearance escape taking. In fine, it was Attaqued with such Order, that the Army came up to the very Gates, where the Chevalier de Sauignac, a Frenchman by Nation, made himself remarkable above all the rest, by the miracles of his Valour. For having repulsed the Turks, who having made a Sally at the Gate call'd Babason, and there desiring to enter along with them, when he saw that they shut the Gate upon him, he ran his Ponyard into the same, and left it sticking deep therein. They next fell to Battering the City by the Force of Cannon; which the Assailants so weakened, that in that great extremity the Defendants lost their Courage, and resolved to surrender.

But as they were thus intending, there was a Witch of the Town, whom the History doth not name, which went to seek out Assam Aga, that Commanded within, and pray'd him to make it good yet nine Days longer, with assurance, that within that time he should infallibly see Algier delivered from that Siege, and the whole Army of the Enemy dispersed, so that Christians should be as cheap as Birds. In a word, the thing did happen in the manner as foretold; for upon the Twenty first day of October in the same Year, there fell a continual Rain upon the Land, and so furious a Storm at Sea, that one might have seen Ships hoisted into the Clouds, and in one instant again precipitated into the bottom of the Water: insomuch that that same dreadful Tempest was followed with the loss of fifteen Gallies, and above an hundred other Vessels; which was the cause why the Emperour, seeing his Army wasted by the bad Weather, pursued by Famine, occasioned by wrack of his Ships, in which was the greatest part of his Victuals and Ammunition, he was constrain'd to raise the Siege, and set Sail for Sicily, whither he Retreated with the miserable Reliques of his Fleet.

In the mean time that Witch being acknowledged the Deliverer of Algier, was richly remunerated, and the Credit of her Charms authorized. So that ever since Witchcraft hath been very freely tolerated; of which the Chief of the Town, and even those who are esteem'd to be of greatest Sanctity among them, such as are the Marabou's, a Religious Order of their Sect, do for the most part make Profession of it, under a goodly Pretext of certain Revelations which they say they have had from their Prophet Mahomet.

And hereupon those of Algier, to palliate the shame and the reproaches that are thrown upon them for making use of a Witch in the danger of this Siege, do say, that the loss of the Forces of Charles V., was caused by a Prayer of one of their Marabou's, named Cidy Utica, which was at that time in great Credit, not under the notion of a Magitian, but for a person of a holy life. Afterwards in remembrance of their success, they have erected unto him a small mosque without the Babason Gate, where he is buried, and in which they keep sundry Lamps burning in honour of him: nay they sometimes repair thither to make their Sala, for a testimony of greater Veneration.

Can it be doubted for a moment, that the dramatist had come fresh from reading some older narrative of this deliverance of Algier by a witch, and transferred the merit of[Pg 288] the deed to his Sycorax, exchanging only the "rich remuneration," which did not suit his purpose, to the simple pardon of her life? Ogilby wrote in 1670; but the authorities to which he refers for his Account of Barbary are—Johannes de Leo, or Africanus—Louis Marmol—Diego de Haedo—Johannes Gramaye—Bræves—Cel. Curio—and Diego de Torres—names totally unknown to me—and to which I beg leave to refer the curious reader for his fuller satisfaction.




The following very interesting letter has been recovered from oblivion, or at least from neglect, by our friend Elia, and the public will no doubt thank him for the deed. It is without date or superscription in the manuscript, which (as our contributor declares) was in so "fragmentitious" a state as to perplex his transcribing faculties in the extreme. The poet's love of nature is quite evident from one part of it; and the "poetical posture of his affairs" from another. Whether regarded as elucidating the former or the latter, it is a document not a little calculated to excite the attention of the curious as well as the critical. We could ourselves write an essayful of conjectures from the grounds it affords both with respect to the author's poems and his pride. But we must take another opportunity, or leave it to his next biographer.

Dear Sir,

I would chide you for the slackness of your correspondence; but having blamed you wrongeously[47] last time, I shall say nothing till I hear from you, which I hope will be soon.

[47] Sic in MS.

There's a little business I would communicate to you before I come to the more entertaining part of our correspondence.

[Pg 289]

I'm going (hard task) to complain, and beg your assistance. When I came up here I brought very little money along with me; expecting some more upon the selling of Widehope, which was to have been sold that day my mother was buried. Now it is unsold yet, but will be disposed of as soon as can be conveniently done; though indeed it is perplexed with some difficulties. I was a long time living here at my own charges, and you know how expensive that is; this, together with the furnishing of myself with clothes, linen, one thing and another, to fit me for any business of this nature here, necessarily obliged me to contract some debts. Being a stranger, it is a wonder how I got any credit; but I cannot expect it will be long sustained, unless I immediately clear it. Even now, I believe it is at a crisis—my friends have no money to send me, till the land is sold; and my creditors will not wait till then. You know what the consequence would be. Now the assistance I would beg of you, and which I know, if in your power, you will not refuse me, is a letter of credit on some merchant, banker, or such like person in London, for the matter of twelve pounds; till I get money upon the selling of the land, which I am at last certain of, if you could either give it me yourself, or procure it: though you owe it not to my merit, yet you owe it to your own nature, which I know so well as to say no more upon the subject: only allow me to add, that when I first fell upon such a project, (the only thing I have for it in my present circumstances,) knowing the selfish inhumane temper of the generality of the world, you were the first person that offered to my thoughts, as one to whom I had the confidence to make such an address.

Now I imagine you are seized with a fine romantic kind of melancholy on the fading of the year—now I figure you wandering, philosophical and pensive, amidst brown withered groves; whilst the leaves rustle under your feet, the sun gives a farewell parting gleam, and the birds—

Stir the faint note, and but attempt to sing.

Then again, when the heavens wear a more gloomy aspect, the winds whistle and the waters spout, I see you in the well-known cleugh, beneath the solemn arch of tall, thick, em[Pg 290]bowering trees, listening to the amusing lull of the many steep, moss-grown cascades; while deep, divine contemplation, the genius of the place, prompts each swelling, awful thought. I am sure you would not resign your place in that scene at an easy rate:—None ever enjoyed it to the height you do, and you are worthy of it. There I walk in spirit, and disport in its beloved gloom. This country I am in is not very entertaining; no variety but that of woods, and them we have in abundance. But where is the living stream? the airy mountain? or the hanging rock? with twenty other things that elegantly please the lover of Nature. Nature delights me in every form. I am just now painting her in her most luxurious dress; for my own amusement, describing winter as it presents itself. After my first proposal of the subject—

I sing of winter, and his gelid reign;
Nor let a ryming insect of the spring
Deem it a barren theme, to me 'tis full
Of manly charms: to me, who court the shade,
Whom the gay seasons suit not, and who shun
The glare of summer. Welcome, kindred glooms!
Drear awful wintry horrors, welcome all! &c.

After this introduction, I say, which insists for a few lines further, I prosecute the purport of the following ones:—

Nor can I, O departing Summer! choose
But consecrate one pitying line to you:
Sing your last temper'd days and sunny balms,
That cheer the spirits and serene the soul.

Then terrible floods, and high winds, that usually happen about this time of the year, and have already happened here (I wish you have not felt them too dreadfully); the first produced the enclosed lines; the last are not completed. Mr. Rickleton's poem on Winter, which I still have, first put the design into my head—in it are some masterly strokes that awakened me—being only a present amusement, it is ten to one but I drop it whenever another fancy comes across. I believe it had been much more for your entertainment, if in this letter I had cited other people instead of myself; but I must refer that till another time. If you have not seen it already, I have just now in my hands an original of Sir Alexander Brands (the crazed Scots knight of the woeful counten[Pg 291]ance), you would relish. I believe it might make Mis[48] John catch hold of his knees, which I take in him to be a degree of mirth, only inferior, to fall back again with an elastic spring. It is very [here a word is waggishly obliterated] printed in the Evening Post: so, perhaps you have seen these panegyrics of our declining bard; one on the Princess's birth-day; the other on his Majesty's, in [obliterated] cantos, they are written in the spirit of a complicated craziness. I was lately in London a night, and in the old play-house saw a comedy acted, called Love makes a Man, or the Fop's Fortune, where I beheld Miller and Cibber shine to my infinite entertainment. In and about London this month of September, near a hundred people have died by accident and suicide. There was one blacksmith tired of the hammer, who hung himself, and left written behind him this concise epitaph:—

I, Joe Pope,
Lived without hope
And died by a rope.

Or else some epigrammatic Muse has belied him.

Mr. Muir has ample fund for politics in the present posture of affairs, as you will find by the public news. I should be glad to know that great minister's frame just now. Keep it to yourself—you may whisper it too in Mis John's ear. Far otherwise is his lately mysterious brother, Mr. Tait, employed. Started a superannuated fortune, and just now upon the full scent. It is comical enough to see him amongst the rubbish of his controversial divinity and politics, furbishing up his antient rusty gallantry.

Yours, sincerely, J. T.

Remember me to all friends, Mr. Rickle, Mis John, Br. John, &c.

[48] Mas?

[Pg 292]



The subject of our Memoir is lineally descended from Johan De L'Estonne (see Doomesday Book, where he is so written) who came in with the Conqueror, and had lands awarded him at Lupton Magna, in Kent. His particular merits or services, Fabian, whose authority I chiefly follow, has forgotten, or perhaps thought it immaterial, to specify. Fuller thinks that he was standard-bearer to Hugo De Agmondesham, a powerful Norman Baron, who was slain by the hand of Harold himself at the fatal battle of Hastings. Be this as it may, we find a family of that name flourishing some centuries later in that county. John Delliston, Knight, was high sheriff for Kent, according to Fabian, quinto Henrici Sexti; and we trace the lineal branch flourishing downwards—the orthography varying, according to the unsettled usage of the times, from Delleston to Leston, or Liston, between which it seems to have alternated, till, in the latter end of the reign of James I, it finally settled into the determinate and pleasing dissyllabic arrangement which it still retains. Aminadab Liston, the eldest male representative of the family of that day, was of the strictest order of Puritans. Mr. Foss, of Pall Mall, has obligingly communicated to me an undoubted tract of his, which bears the initials only, A. L. and is entitled, "the Grinning Glass: or Actor's Mirrour, wherein the vituperative Visnomy of vicious Players for the Scene is as virtuously reflected back upon their mimetic Monstrosities as it has viciously (hitherto) vitiated with its vile Vanities her Votarists." A strange title, but bearing the impress of those absurdities with which the title pages of that pamphlet-spawning age abounded. The work bears date 1617. It preceded the Histriomastix by fifteen years; and as it went before it in time, so it comes not far short of it in virulence. It is amusing to find an ancestor of Liston's thus bespattering the players at the commencement of the seventeenth century. "Thinketh He (the actor), with his costive countenances, to wry a sorrowing soul out of her anguish, or by defacing the divine denotement of destinate dignity (daignely described in the[Pg 293] face humane and no other) to reinstamp the Paradice-plotted similitude with a novel and naughty approximation (not in the first intention) to those abhorred and ugly God-forbidden correspondences, with flouting Apes' jeering gibberings, and Babion babbling-like, to hoot out of countenance all modest measure, as if our sins were not sufficing to stoop our backs without He wresting and crooking his members to mistimed mirth (rather malice) in deformed fashion, leering when he should learn, prating for praying, goggling his eyes (better upturned for grace), whereas in Paradice (if we can go thus high for His profession) that devilish Serpent appeareth his undoubted Predecessor, first induing a mask like some roguish roistering Roscius (I spit at them all) to beguile with Stage shows the gaping Woman, whose Sex hath still chiefly upheld these Mysteries, and are voiced to be the chief Stage-haunters, where, as I am told, the custom is commonly to mumble (between acts) apples, not ambiguously derived from that pernicious Pippin (worse in effect than the Apples of Discord) whereas sometimes the hissing sounds of displeasure, as I hear, do lively reintonate that snake-taking-leave, and diabolical goings off, in Paradice."

The puritanic effervescence of the early Presbyterians appears to have abated with time, and the opinions of the more immediate ancestors of our subject to have subsided at length into a strain of moderate Calvinism. Still a tincture of the old leaven was to be expected among the posterity of A. L.

Our hero was an only son of Habakuk Liston, settled as an Anabaptist minister upon the patrimonial soil of his ancestors. A regular certificate appears, thus entered in the church book at Lupton Magna. "Johannes, filius Habakuk et Rebeccæ Liston, Dissentientium, natus quinto Decembri, 1780, baptizatus sexto Februarii sequentis; Sponsoribus J. et W. Woollaston, unâ cum Maria Merryweather." The singularity of an Anabaptist minister conforming to the child rites of the church, would have tempted me to doubt the authenticity of this entry, had I not been obliged with the actual sight of it, by the favour of Mr. Minns, the intelligent and worthy parish clerk of Lupton. Possibly some expectation in point of worldly advantages from some of the sponsors, might have induced this unseemly deviation, as it must have appeared, from the practice and principles of that generally rigid sect. The term Dissentientium was possibly intended by the orthodox[Pg 294] clergyman as a slur upon the supposed inconsistency. What, or of what nature, the expectations we have hinted at, may have been, we have now no means of ascertaining. Of the Wollastons no trace is now discoverable in the village. The name of Merryweather occurs over the front of a grocer's shop at the western extremity of Lupton.

Of the infant Liston we find no events recorded before his fourth year, in which a severe attack of the measles bid fair to have robbed the rising generation of a fund of innocent entertainment. He had it of the confluent kind, as it is called, and the child's life was for a week or two despaired of. His recovery he always attributes (under Heaven) to the humane interference of one Doctor Wilhelm Richter, a German empiric, who, in this extremity, prescribed a copious diet of Saur Kraut, which the child was observed to reach at with avidity, when other food repelled him; and from this change of diet his restoration was rapid and complete. We have often heard him name the circumstance with gratitude; and it is not altogether surprising, that a relish for this kind of aliment, so abhorrent and harsh to common English palates, has accompanied him through life. When any of Mr. Liston's intimates invite him to supper, he never fails of finding, nearest to his knife and fork, a dish of Saur Kraut.

At the age of nine we find our subject under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Goodenough (his father's health not permitting him probably to instruct him himself), by whom he was inducted into a competent portion of Latin and Greek, with some mathematics, till the death of Mr. Goodenough, in his own seventieth, and Master Liston's eleventh year, put a stop for the present to his classical progress.

We have heard our hero with emotions, which do his heart honour, describe the awful circumstances attending the decease of this worthy old gentleman. It seems they had been walking out together, master and pupil, in a fine sunset, to the distance of three quarters of a mile west of Lupton, when a sudden curiosity took Mr. Goodenough to look down upon a chasm, where a shaft had been lately sunk in a mining speculation (then projecting, but abandoned soon after, as not answering the promised success, by Sir Ralph Shepperton, Knight, and member for the county). The old clergyman leaning over, either with incaution, or sudden giddiness (probably a mixture of both), suddenly lost his footing, and, to[Pg 295] use Mr. Liston's phrase, disappeared; and was doubtless broken into a thousand pieces. The sound of his head, &c. dashing successively upon the projecting masses of the chasm, had such an effect upon the child, that a serious sickness ensued, and even for many years after his recovery he was not once seen so much as to smile.

The joint death[s] of both his parents, which happened not many months after this disastrous accident, and were probably (one or both of them) accelerated by it, threw our youth upon the protection of his maternal great aunt, Mrs. Sittingbourn. Of this aunt we have never heard him speak but with expressions amounting almost to reverence. To the influence of her early counsels and manners, he has always attributed the firmness with which, in maturer years, thrown upon a way of life, commonly not the best adapted to gravity and self-retirement, he has been able to maintain a serious character, untinctured with the levities incident to his profession. Ann Sittingbourn (we have seen her portrait by Hudson) was stately, stiff, tall, with a cast of features strikingly resembling the subject of this memoir. Her estate in Kent was spacious and well-wooded; the house, one of those venerable old mansions which are so impressive in childhood, and so hardly forgotten in succeeding years. In the venerable solitudes of Charnwood, among thick shades of the oak and beech (this last his favourite tree), the young Liston cultivated those contemplative habits which have never entirely deserted him in after years. Here he was commonly in the summer months to be met with, with a book in his hand—not a play-book—meditating. Boyle's Reflections was at one time the darling volume, which in its turn was superseded by Young's Night Thoughts, which has continued its hold upon him through life. He carries it always about him; and it is no uncommon thing for him to be seen, in the refreshing intervals of his occupation, leaning against a side scene, in a sort of Herbert of Cherbury posture, turning over a pocket edition of his favourite author.

But the solitudes of Charnwood were not destined always to obscure the path of our young hero. The premature death of Mrs. Sittingbourn, at the age of 70, occasioned by incautious burning of a pot of charcoal in her sleeping chamber, left him in his 19th year nearly without resources. That the stage at all should have presented itself as an eligible scope[Pg 296] for his talents, and, in particular, that he should have chosen a line so foreign to what appears to have been his turn of mind, may require some explanation.

At Charnwood then we behold him thoughtful, grave, ascetic. From his cradle averse to flesh meats, and strong drink; abstemious even beyond the genius of the place; and almost in spite of the remonstrances of his great aunt, who, though strict, was not rigid; water was his habitual drink, and his food little beyond the mast, and beech nuts, of his favourite groves. It is a medical fact, that this kind of diet, however favourable to the contemplative powers of the primitive hermits, &c., is but ill adapted to the less robust minds and bodies of a later generation. Hypochondria almost constantly ensues. It was so in the case of the young Liston. He was subject to sights, and had visions. Those arid beech nuts, distilled by a complexion naturally adust, mounted into an occiput, already prepared to kindle by long seclusion, and the fervour of strict Calvinistic notions. In the glooms of Charnwood he was assailed by illusions, similar in kind to those which are related of the famous Anthony of Padua. Wild antic faces would ever and anon protrude themselves upon his sensorium. Whether he shut his eyes, or kept them open, the same illusions operated. The darker and more profound were his cogitations, the droller and more whimsical became the apparitions. They buzzed about him thick as flies, flapping at him, flouting him, hooting in his ear, yet with such comic appendages, that what at first was his bane, became at length his solace; and he desired no better society than that of his merry phantasmata. We shall presently find in what way this remarkable phenomenon influenced his future destiny.

On the death of Mrs. Sittingbourn, we find him received into the family of Mr. Willoughby, an eminent Turkey merchant, resident in Birchin-lane, London. We lose a little while here the chain of his history; by what inducements this gentleman was determined to make him an inmate of his house. Probably he had had some personal kindness for Mrs. Sittingbourn formerly; but however it was, the young man was here treated more like a son than a clerk, though he was nominally but the latter. Different avocations, the change of scene, with that alternation of business and recreation, which in its greatest perfection is to be had only in[Pg 297] London, appear to have weaned him in a short time from the hypochondriacal affections which had beset him at Charnwood. In the three years which followed his removal to Birchin-lane, we find him making more than one voyage to the Levant, as chief factor for Mr. Willoughby, at the Porte. We could easily fill our biography with the pleasant passages which we have heard him relate as having happened to him at Constantinople, such as his having been taken up on suspicion of a design of penetrating the seraglio, &c.; but, with the deepest convincement of this gentleman's own veracity, we think that some of the stories are of that whimsical, and others of that romantic nature, which, however diverting, would be out of place in a narrative of this kind, which aims not only at strict truth, but at avoiding the very appearance of the contrary.

We will now bring him over the seas again, and suppose him in the counting-house in Birchin-lane, his protector satisfied with the returns of his factorage, and all going on so smoothly that we may expect to find Mr. Liston at last an opulent merchant upon 'Change, as it is called. But see the turns of destiny! Upon a summer's excursion into Norfolk, in the year 1801, the accidental sight of pretty Sally Parker, as she was called (then in the Norwich company), diverted his inclinations at once from commerce; and he became, in the language of common-place biography, stage-struck. Happy for the lovers of mirth was it, that our hero took this turn; he might else have been to this hour that unentertaining character, a plodding London merchant.

We accordingly find him shortly after making his debut, as it is called, upon the Norwich boards, in the season of that year, being then in the 22d year of his age. Having a natural bent to tragedy, he chose the part of Pyrrhus in the Distressed Mother, to Sally Parker's Hermione. We find him afterwards as Barnwell, Altamont, Chamont, &c.; but, as if nature had destined him to the sock, an unavoidable infirmity absolutely discapacitated him for tragedy. His person at this latter period, of which I have been speaking, was graceful, and even commanding; his countenance set to gravity; he had the power of arresting the attention of an audience at first sight almost beyond any other tragic actor. But he could not hold it. To understand this obstacle we must go back a few years to those appalling reveries at Charnwood. Those illusions,[Pg 298] which had vanished before the dissipation of a less recluse life, and more free society, now in his solitary tragic studies, and amid the intense calls upon feeling incident to tragic acting, came back upon him with tenfold vividness. In the midst of some most pathetic passage, the parting of Jaffier with his dying friend, for instance, he would suddenly be surprised with a fit of violent horse laughter. While the spectators were all sobbing before him with emotion, suddenly one of those grotesque faces would peep out upon him, and he could not resist the impulse. A timely excuse once or twice served his purpose, but no audiences could be expected to bear repeatedly this violation of the continuity of feeling. He describes them (the illusions) as so many demons haunting him, and paralysing every effect. Even now, I am told, he cannot recite the famous soliloquy in Hamlet, even in private, without immoderate bursts of laughter. However, what he had not force of reason sufficient to overcome, he had good sense enough to turn into emolument, and determined to make a commodity of his distemper. He prudently exchanged the buskin for the sock, and the illusions instantly ceased; or, if they occurred for a short season, by their very co-operation added a zest to his comic vein; some of his most catching faces being (as he expresses it) little more than transcripts and copies of those extraordinary phantasmata.

We have now drawn out our hero's existence to the period when he was about to meet for the first time the sympathies of a London audience. The particulars of his success since have been too much before our eyes to render a circumstantial detail of them expedient. I shall only mention that Mr. Willoughby, his resentments having had time to subside, is at present one of the fastest friends of his old renegado factor; and that Mr. Liston's hopes of Miss Parker vanishing along with his unsuccessful suit to Melpomene, in the autumn of 1811 he married his present lady, by whom he has been blest with one son, Philip; and two daughters, Ann, and Angustina [ ? Augustina].

[Pg 299]



My thoughts had been engaged last evening in solving the problem, why in all times and places the horn has been agreed upon as the symbol, or honourable badge, of married men. Moses' horn, the horn of Ammon, of Amalthea, and a cornucopia of legends besides, came to my recollection, but afforded no satisfactory solution, or rather involved the question in deeper obscurity. Tired with the fruitless chase of inexplicant analogies, I fell asleep, and dreamed in this fashion.

Methought certain scales or films fell from my eyes, which had hitherto hindered these little tokens from being visible. I was somewhere in the Cornhill (as it might be termed) of some Utopia. Busy citizens jostled each other, as they may do in our streets, with care (the care of making a penny) written upon their foreheads; and something else, which is rather imagined, than distinctly imaged, upon the brows of my own friends and fellow-townsmen.

In my first surprise I supposed myself gotten into some forest—Arden, to be sure, or Sherwood; but the dresses and deportment, all civic, forbade me to continue in that delusion. Then a scriptural thought crossed me (especially as there were nearly as many Jews as Christians among them), whether it might not be the children of Israel going up to besiege Jericho. I was undeceived of both errors by the sight of many faces which were familiar to me. I found myself strangely (as it will happen in dreams) at one and the same time in an unknown country, with known companions. I met old friends, not with new faces, but with their old faces oddly adorned in front, with each man a certain corneous excrescence. Dick Mitis, the little cheesemonger in St. * * * *'s Passage, was the first that saluted me, with his hat off—you know Dick's way to a customer—and, I not being aware of him, he thrust a strange beam into my left eye, which pained and grieved me exceedingly; but, instead of apology, he only grinned and fleered in my face, as much as to say, "it is the custom of the country," and passed on.

I had scarce time to send a civil message to his lady,[Pg 300] whom I have always admired as a pattern of a wife,—and do indeed take Dick and her to be a model of conjugal agreement and harmony,—when I felt an ugly smart in my neck, as if something had gored it behind, and turning round, it was my old friend and neighbour, Dulcet, the confectioner, who, meaning to be pleasant, had thrust his protuberance right into my nape, and seemed proud of his power of offending.

Now I was assailed right and left, till in my own defence I was obliged to walk sideling and wary, and look about me, as you guard your eyes in London streets; for the horns thickened, and came at me like the ends of umbrellas poking in one's face.

I soon found that these towns-folk were the civillest best-mannered people in the world, and that if they had offended at all, it was entirely owing to their blindness. They do not know what dangerous weapons they protrude in front, and will stick their best friends in the eye with provoking complacency. Yet the best of it is, they can see the beams on their neighbours' foreheads, if they are as small as motes, but their own beams they can in no wise discern.

There was little Mitis, that I told you I just encountered—he has simply (I speak of him at home in his own shop) the smoothest forehead in his own conceit—he will stand you a quarter of an hour together contemplating the serenity of it in the glass, before he begins to shave himself in a morning—yet you saw what a desperate gash he gave me.

Desiring to be better informed of the ways of this extraordinary people, I applied myself to a fellow of some assurance, who (it appeared) acted as a sort of interpreter to strangers—he was dressed in a military uniform, and strongly resembled Colonel——, of the guards;—and "pray, Sir," said I, "have all the inhabitants of your city these troublesome excrescences? I beg pardon, I see you have none. You perhaps are single." "Truly, Sir," he replied with a smile, "for the most part we have, but not all alike. There are some, like Dick, that sport but one tumescence. Their ladies have been tolerably faithful—have confined themselves to a single aberration or so—these we call Unicorns. Dick, you must know, is my Unicorn. [He spoke this with an air of invincible assurance.] Then we have Bicorns, Tricorns, and so on up to Millecorns. [Here me-[Pg 301]thought I crossed and blessed myself in my dream.] Some again we have—there goes one—you see how happy the rogue looks—how he walks smiling, and perking up his face, as if he thought himself the only man. He is not married yet, but on Monday next he leads to the altar the accomplished widow Dacres, relict of our late sheriff."

"I see, Sir," said I, "and observe that he is happily free from the national goitre (let me call it), which distinguishes most of your countrymen."

"Look a little more narrowly," said my conductor.

I put on my spectacles, and observing the man a little more diligently, above his forehead I could mark a thousand little twinkling shadows dancing the horn-pipe, little hornlets and rudiments of horn, of a soft and pappy consistence (for I handled some of them), but which, like coral out of water, my guide informed me would infallibly stiffen and grow rigid within a week or two from the expiration of his bachelorhood.

Then I saw some horns strangely growing out behind, and my interpreter explained these to be married men, whose wives had conducted themselves with infinite propriety since the period of their marriage, but were thought to have antedated their good men's titles, by certain liberties they had indulged themselves in, prior to the ceremony. This kind of gentry wore their horns backwards, as has been said, in the fashion of the old pig-tails; and as there was nothing obtrusive or ostentatious in them, nobody took any notice of it.

Some had pretty little budding antlers, like the first essays of a young faun. These, he told me, had wives, whose affairs were in a hopeful way, but not quite brought to a conclusion.

Others had nothing to show, only by certain red angry marks and swellings in the foreheads, which itched the more they kept rubbing and chafing them; it was to be hoped that something was brewing.

I took notice that every one jeered at the rest, only none took notice of the sea-captains; yet these were as well provided with their tokens as the best among them. This kind of people, it seems, taking their wives upon so contingent tenures, their lot was considered as nothing but natural,—so they wore their marks without impeachment, as they might[Pg 302] carry their cockades, and nobody respected them a whit the less for it.

I observed, that the more sprouts grew out of a man's head, the less weight they seemed to carry with them; whereas, a single token would now and then appear to give the wearer some uneasiness. This shows that use is a great thing.

Some had their adornings gilt, which needs no explanation; while others, like musicians, went sounding theirs before them—a sort of music which I thought might very well have been spared.

It was pleasant to see some of the citizens encounter between themselves; how they smiled in their sleeves at the shock they received from their neighbour, and none seemed conscious of the shock which their neighbour experienced in return.

Some had great corneous stumps, seemingly torn off and bleeding. These, the interpreter warned me, were husbands who had retaliated upon their wives, and the badge was in equity divided between them.

While I stood discerning these things, a slight tweak on my cheek unawares, which brought tears into my eyes, introduced to me my friend Placid, between whose lady and a certain male cousin, some idle flirtations I remember to have heard talked of; but that was all. He saw he had somehow hurt me, and asked my pardon with that round unconscious face of his, and looked so tristful and contrite for his no-offence, that I was ashamed for the man's penitence. Yet I protest it was but a scratch. It was the least little hornet of a horn that could be framed. "Shame on the man," I secretly exclaimed, "who could thrust so much as the value of a hair into a brow so unsuspecting and inoffensive. What then must they have to answer for, who plant great, monstrous, timber-like, projecting antlers upon the heads of those whom they call their friends, when a puncture of this atomical tenuity made my eyes to water at this rate. All the pincers at Surgeons' Hall cannot pull out for Placid that little hair."

I was curious to know what became of these frontal excrescences, when the husbands died; and my guide informed me that the chemists in their country made a considerable profit by them, extracting from them certain subtle essences:—and then I remembered, that nothing was so efficacious in[Pg 303] my own for restoring swooning matrons, and wives troubled with the vapours, as a strong sniff or two at the composition, appropriately called hartshorn—far beyond sal volatile.

Then also I began to understand, why a man, who is the jest of the company, is said to be the butt—as much as to say, such a one butteth with the horn.

I inquired if by no operation these wens were ever extracted; and was told, that there was indeed an order of dentists, whom they call canonists in their language, who undertook to restore the forehead to its pristine smoothness; but that ordinarily it was not done without much cost and trouble; and when they succeeded in plucking out the offending part, it left a painful void, which could not be filled up; and that many patients who had submitted to the excision, were eager to marry again, to supply with a good second antler the baldness and deformed gap left by the extraction of the former, as men losing their natural hair substitute for it a less becoming periwig.

Some horns I observed beautifully taper, smooth, and (as it were) flowering. These I understand were the portions brought by handsome women to their spouses; and I pitied the rough, homely, unsightly deformities on the brows of others, who had been deceived by plain and ordinary partners. Yet the latter I observed to be by far the most common—the solution of which I leave to the natural philosopher.

One tribute of married men I particularly admired at, who, instead of horns, wore, engrafted on their forehead, a sort of hornbook. "This," quoth my guide, "is the greatest mystery in our country, and well worth an explanation. You must know that all infidelity is not of the senses. We have as well intellectual, as material, wittols. These, whom you see decorated with the Order of the Book—are triflers, who encourage about their wives' presence the society of your men of genius (their good friends, as they call them)—literary disputants, who ten to one out-talk the poor husband, and commit upon the understanding of the woman a violence and estrangement in the end, little less painful than the coarser sort of alienation. Whip me these knaves—[my conductor here expressed himself with a becoming warmth]—whip me them, I say, who with no excuse from the passions, in cold blood seduce the minds, rather than the persons, of their friends' wives; who, for the tickling pleasure of hearing themselves prate, dehon[Pg 304]estate the intellects of married women, dishonouring the husband in what should be his most sensible part. If I must be —— [here he used a plain word] let it be by some honest sinner like myself, and not by one of these gad-flies, these debauchers of the understanding, these flattery-buzzers." He was going on in this manner, and I was getting insensibly pleased with my friend's manner (I had been a little shy of him at first), when the dream suddenly left me, vanishing—as Virgil speaks—through the gate of Horn.




Nought but a blank remains, a dead void space,
A step of life that promised such a race.—Dryden.

Napoleon has now sent us back from the grave sufficient echoes of his living renown: the twilight of posthumous fame has lingered long enough over the spot where the sun of his glory set, and his name must at length repose in the silence, if not in the darkness of night. In this busy and evanescent scene, other spirits of the age are rapidly snatched away, claiming our undivided sympathies and regrets, until in turn they yield to some newer and more absorbing grief. Another name is now added to the list of the mighty departed, a name whose influence upon the hopes and fears, the fates and fortunes of our countrymen, has rivalled, and perhaps eclipsed that of the defunct "child and champion of Jacobinism," while it is associated with all the sanctions of legitimate government, all the sacred authorities of social order and our most holy religion. We speak of one,[Pg 305] indeed, under whose warrant heavy and incessant contributions were imposed upon our fellow-citizens, but who exacted nothing without the signet and the sign manual of most devout Chancellors of the Exchequer. Not to dally longer with the sympathies of our readers, we think it right to premonish them that we are composing an epicedium upon no less distinguished a personage than the Lottery, whose last breath, after many penultimate puffs, has been sobbed forth by sorrowing contractors, as if the world itself were about to be converted into a blank. There is a fashion of eulogy, as well as of vituperation; and though the Lottery stood for some time in the latter predicament, we hesitate not to assert that "multis ille bonis flebilis occidit." Never have we joined in the senseless clamour which condemned the only tax whereto we became voluntary contributors, the only resource which gave the stimulus without the danger or infatuation of gambling, the only alembic which in these plodding days sublimised our imaginations, and filled them with more delicious dreams than ever flitted athwart the sensorium of Alnaschar.

[49] Since writing this article, we have been informed that the object of our funeral-oration is not definitively dead, but only moribund. So much the better; we shall have an opportunity of granting the request made to Walter by one of the children in the wood, and "kill him two times." The Abbé de Vertot having a siege to write, and not receiving the materials in time, composed the whole from his invention: shortly after its completion, the expected documents arrived, when he threw them aside, exclaiming—"You are of no use to me now; I have carried the town."

Never can the writer forget when, as a child, he was hoisted upon a servant's shoulder in Guildhall, and looked down upon the installed and solemn pomp of the then drawing Lottery. The two awful cabinets of iron, upon whose massy and mysterious portals, the royal initials were gorgeously emblazoned, as if after having deposited the unfulfilled prophecies within, the King himself had turned the lock and still retained the key in his pocket;—the blue-coat boy, with his naked arm, first converting the invisible wheel, and then diving into the dark recess for a ticket;—the grave and reverend faces of the commissioners eyeing the announced number;—the scribes below calmly committing it to their huge books;—the anxious countenances of the surrounding populace, while the giant figures of Gog and Magog, like presiding deities, looked down with a grim silence upon the whole proceeding,—constituted altogether a scene, which combined with the sudden wealth supposed to be lavished from those inscrutable wheels, was well calculated to impress the imagination of a boy with reverence and amazement. Jupiter, seated between the two fatal urns of good and evil, the blind Goddess with her cornucopia, the Parcæ wielding the distaff, the thread of life, and the abhorred shears, seemed but dim and shadowy[Pg 306] abstractions of mythology, when I had gazed upon an assemblage exercising, as I dreamt, a not less eventful power, and all presented to me in palpable and living operation. Reason and experience, ever at their old spiteful work of catching and destroying the bubbles which youth delighted to follow, have indeed dissipated much of this illusion, but my mind so far retained the influence of that early impression, that I have ever since continued to deposit my humble offerings at its shrine whenever the ministers of the Lottery went forth with type and trumpet to announce its periodical dispensations; and though nothing has been doled out to me from its undiscerning coffers but blanks, or those more vexatious tantalizers of the spirit, denominated small prizes, yet do I hold myself largely indebted to this most generous diffuser of universal happiness. Ingrates that we are! are we to be thankful for no benefits that are not palpable to sense, to recognise no favours that are not of marketable value, to acknowledge no wealth unless it can be counted with the five fingers? If we admit the mind to be the sole depositary of genuine joy, where is the bosom that has not been elevated into a temporary elysium by the magic of the Lottery? Which of us has not converted his ticket, or even his sixteenth share of one, into a nest-egg of Hope, upon which he has sate brooding in the secret roosting-places of his heart, and hatched it into a thousand fantastical apparitions?

What a startling revelation of the passions if all the aspirations engendered by the Lottery could be made manifest! Many an impecuniary epicure has gloated over his locked-up warrant for future wealth, as a means of realising the dream of his namesake in the Alchemist,—

"My meat shall all come in in Indian shells,
Dishes of agate set in gold, and studded
With emeralds, sapphires, hyacinths and rubies;
The tongues of carps, dormice, and camels' heels
Boil'd i' the spirit of Sol, and dissolved in pearl,
(Apicius' diet 'gainst the epilepsy;)
And I will eat these broths with spoons of amber,
Headed with diamant and carbuncle.——
My footboy shall eat pheasants, calvered salmons,
Knots, godwits, lampreys; I myself will have
The beards of barbels served:—instead of salads
Oil'd mushrooms, and the swelling unctuous paps
Of a fat pregnant sow, newly cut off,
Dress'd with an exquisite and poignant sauce,
For which I'll say unto my cook-'There's gold,
Go forth, and be a knight!'"
[Pg 307]

Many a doating lover has kissed the scrap of paper whose promissory shower of gold was to give up to him his otherwise unattainable Danaë: Nimrods have transformed the same narrow symbol into a saddle, by which they have been enabled to bestride the backs of peerless hunters; while nymphs have metamorphosed its Protean form into

"Rings, gaudes, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats,"

and all the braveries of dress, to say nothing of the obsequious husband, the two-footman'd carriage, and the opera-box. By the simple charm of this numbered and printed rag, gamesters have, for a time at least, recovered their losses, spendthrifts have cleared off mortgages from their estates, the imprisoned debtor has leapt over his lofty boundary of circumscription and restraint, and revelled in all the joys of liberty and fortune; the cottage-walls have swelled out into more goodly proportion than those of Baucis and Philemon; poverty has tasted the luxuries of competence, labour has lolled at ease in a perpetual arm-chair of idleness, sickness has been bribed into banishment, life has been invested with new charms, and death deprived of its former terrors. Nor have the affections been less gratified than the wants, appetites, and ambitions of mankind. By the conjurations of the same potent spell, kindred have lavished anticipated benefits upon one another, and charity upon all. Let it be termed a delusion; a fool's paradise is better than the wise man's Tartarus: be it branded as an Ignis fatuus, it was at least a benevolent one, which instead of beguiling its followers into swamps, caverns, and pitfalls, allured them on with all the blandishments of enchantment to a garden of Eden, an ever-blooming elysium of delight. True, the pleasures it bestowed were evanescent, but which of our joys are permanent? and who so inexperienced as not to know that anticipation is always of higher relish than reality, which strikes a balance both in our sufferings and enjoyments. "The fear of ill exceeds the ill we fear," and fruition, in the same proportion, invariably falls short of hope. "Men are but children of a larger growth," who may amuse themselves for a long time in gazing at the reflection of the moon in the water, but, if they jump in to grasp it, they may grope for ever, and only get the farther from their object. He is the wisest who keeps feeding upon the future, and refrains as long[Pg 308] as possible from undeceiving himself, by converting his pleasant speculations into disagreeable certainties.

The true mental epicure always purchased his ticket early, and postponed enquiry into its fate to the last possible moment, during the whole of which intervening period he had an imaginary twenty thousand locked up in his desk,—and was not this well worth all the money? Who would scruple to give twenty pounds interest for even the ideal enjoyment of as many thousands during two or three months? "Crede quod habes, et habes," and the usufruct of such a capital is surely not dear at such a price. Some years ago, a gentleman in passing along Cheapside saw the figures 1069, of which number he was the sole proprietor, flaming on the window of a lottery-office as a capital prize. Somewhat flurried by this discovery, not less welcome than unexpected, he resolved to walk round St. Paul's that he might consider in what way to communicate the happy tidings to his wife and family; but upon repassing the shop, he observed that the number was altered to 10,069, and upon enquiry, had the mortification to learn that his ticket was a blank, and had only been stuck up in the window by a mistake of the clerk. This effectually calmed his agitation, but he always speaks of himself as having once possessed twenty thousand pounds, and maintains that his ten minutes' walk round St. Paul's was worth ten times the purchase-money of the ticket. A prize thus obtained has moreover this special advantage;—it is beyond the reach of fate, it cannot be squandered, bankruptcy cannot lay siege to it, friends cannot pull it down, nor enemies blow it up; it bears a charmed life, and none of woman born can break its integrity, even by the dissipation of a single fraction. Show me the property in these perilous times that is equally compact and impregnable. We can no longer become enriched for a quarter of an hour; we can no longer succeed in such splendid failures; all our chances of making such a miss have vanished with the last of the Lotteries.

Life will now become a flat, prosaic routine of matter-of-fact, and sleep itself, erst so prolific of numerical configurations and mysterious stimulants to lottery adventure, will be disfurnished of its figures and figments. People will cease to harp upon the one lucky number suggested in a dream, and which forms the exception, while they are scrupulously silent upon the ten thousand falsified dreams which constitute the rule. Morpheus[Pg 309] will stifle Cocker with a handful of poppies, and our pillows will be no longer haunted by the book of numbers.

And who, too, shall maintain the art and mystery of puffing in all its pristine glory when the lottery professors shall have abandoned its cultivation? They were the first, as they will assuredly be the last, who fully developed the resources of that ingenious art; who cajoled and decoyed the most suspicious and wary reader into a perusal of their advertisements by devices of endless variety and cunning: who baited their lurking schemes with midnight murders, ghost stories, crim-cons, bon-mots, balloons, dreadful catastrophes, and every diversity of joy and sorrow to catch newspaper-gudgeons. Ought not such talents to be encouraged? Verily the abolitionists have much to answer for!

And now, having established the felicity of all those who gained imaginary prizes, let us proceed to show that the equally numerous class who were presented with real blanks, have not less reason to consider themselves happy. Most of us have cause to be thankful for that which is bestowed, but we have all, probably, reason to be still more grateful for that which is withheld, and more especially for our being denied the sudden possession of riches. In the Litany indeed, we call upon the Lord to deliver us "in all time of our wealth;" but how few of us are sincere in deprecating such a calamity! Massinger's Luke, and Ben Jonson's Sir Epicure Mammon, and Pope's Sir Balaam, and our own daily observation, might convince us that the devil "now tempts by making rich, not making poor." We may read in the Guardian a circumstantial account of a man who was utterly ruined by gaining a capital prize:—we may recollect what Dr. Johnson said to Garrick, when the latter was making a display of his wealth at Hampton Court,—"Ah, David! David! these are the things that make a death-bed terrible;"—we may recall the Scripture declaration, as to the difficulty a rich man finds in entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, and combining all these denunciations against opulence, let us heartily congratulate one another upon our lucky escape from the calamity of a twenty or thirty thousand pound prize! The fox in the fable, who accused the unattainable grapes of sourness, was more of a philosopher than we are generally willing to allow. He was an adept in that species of moral alchemy, which turns every thing to gold, and converts dis[Pg 310]appointment itself into a ground of resignation and content. Such we have shown to be the great lesson inculcated by the Lottery when rightly contemplated; and if we might parody M. de Chateaubriand's jingling expression,—"le Roi est mort, vive le Roi," we should be tempted to exclaim, "The Lottery is no more—long live the Lottery!"


In a Letter to a Friend of that Persuasion Newly Married


Dear M——, Though none of your acquaintance can with greater sincerity congratulate you upon this happy conjuncture than myself, one of the oldest of them, it was with pain I found you, after the ceremony, depositing in the vestry-room what is called a Protest. I thought you superior to this little sophistry. What, after submitting to the service of the Church of England—after consenting to receive a boon from her, in the person of your amiable consort—was it consistent with sense, or common good manners, to turn round upon her, and flatly taunt her with false worship? This language is a little of the strongest in your books and from your pulpits, though there it may well enough be excused from religious zeal and the native warmth of nonconformity. But at the altar—the Church of England altar—adopting her forms and complying with her requisitions to the letter—to be consistent, together with the practice, I fear, you must drop the language of dissent. You are no longer sturdy Non Cons; you are there Occasional Conformists. You submit to accept the privileges communicated by a form of words, exceptionable, and perhaps justly, in your view; but, so submitting, you have no right to quarrel with the ritual which you have just condescended to owe an obligation to. They do not force you into their churches. You come voluntarily, knowing the terms. You marry in the name of the Trinity. There is no evading this by pretending that you[Pg 311] take the formula with your own interpretation, (and so long as you can do this, where is the necessity of Protesting?): for the meaning of a vow is to be settled by the sense of the imposer, not by any forced construction of the taker: else might all vows, and oaths too, be eluded with impunity. You marry then essentially as Trinitarians; and the altar no sooner satisfied than, hey presto, with the celerity of a juggler, you shift habits, and proceed pure Unitarians again in the vestry. You cheat the Church out of a wife, and go home smiling in your sleeves that you have so cunningly despoiled the Egyptians. In plain English, the Church has married you in the name of so and so, assuming that you took the words in her sense, but you outwitted her; you assented to them in your sense only, and took from her what, upon a right understanding, she would have declined to give you.

This is the fair construction to be put upon all Unitarian marriages as at present contracted; and as long as you Unitarians could salve your consciences with the equivoque, I do not see why the Established Church should have troubled herself at all about the matter. But the Protesters necessarily see further. They have some glimmerings of the deception; they apprehend a flaw somewhere; they would fain be honest, and yet they must marry notwithstanding; for honesty's sake, they are fain to dishonestate themselves a little. Let me try the very words of your own Protest, to see what confessions we can pick out of them.

"As Unitarians therefore we (you and your newly espoused bride) most solemnly protest against the service (which yourselves have just demanded) because we are thereby called upon, not only tacitly to acquiesce, but to profess a belief in a doctrine which is a dogma, as we believe, totally unfounded." But do you profess that belief during the ceremony; or are you only called upon for the profession but do not make it? If the latter, then you fall in with the rest of your more consistent brethren, who waive the Protest; if the former, then, I fear, your Protest cannot save you.

Hard and grievous it is, that in any case an institution so broad and general as the union of man and wife should be so cramped and straitened by the hands of an imposing hierarchy, that to plight troth to a lovely woman a man must be necessitated to compromise his truth and faith to Heaven; but so it[Pg 312] must be, so long as you chuse to marry by the forms of the Church over which that hierarchy presides.

Therefore, say you, we Protest. O poor and much fallen word Protest! It was not so that the first heroic reformers protested. They departed out of Babylon once for good and all; they came not back for an occasional contact with her altars; a dallying, and then a protesting against dalliance; they stood not shuffling in the porch, with a Popish foot within, and its lame Lutheran fellow without, halting betwixt. These were the true Protestants. You are—Protesters.

Besides the inconsistency of this proceeding, I must think it a piece of impertinence—unseasonable at least, and out of place, to obtrude these papers upon the officiating clergyman—to offer to a public functionary an instrument which by the tenor of his function he is not obliged to accept, but, rather, he is called upon to reject. Is it done in his clerical capacity? he has no power of redressing the grievance. It is to take the benefit of his ministry and then insult him. If in his capacity of fellow Christian only, what are your scruples to him, so long as you yourselves are able to get over them, and do get over them by the very fact of coming to require his services? The thing you call a Protest might with just as good a reason be presented to the churchwarden for the time being, to the parish clerk, or the pew opener.

The Parliament alone can redress your grievance, if any. Yet I see not how with any grace your people can petition for relief, so long as, by the very fact of your coming to Church to be married, they do bonâ fide and strictly relieve themselves. The Upper House, in particular, is not unused to these same things called Protests, among themselves. But how would this honorable body stare to find a noble Lord conceding a measure, and in the next breath, by a solemn Protest disowning it. A Protest there is a reason given for non-compliance, not a subterfuge for an equivocal occasional compliance. It was reasonable in the primitive Christians to avert from their persons, by whatever lawful means, the compulsory eating of meats which had been offered unto idols. I dare say the Roman Prefects and Exarchats had plenty of petitioning in their days. But what would a Festus, or Agrippa, have replied to a petition to that effect, presented to him by some evasive Laodicean, with the very meat between his teeth, which he had been chewing voluntarily rather than abide the[Pg 313] penalty? Relief for tender consciences means nothing, where the conscience has previously relieved itself; that is, has complied with the injunctions which it seeks preposterously to be rid of. Relief for conscience there is properly none, but what by better information makes an act appear innocent and lawful, with which the previous conscience was not satisfied to comply. All else is but relief from penalties, from scandal incurred by a complying practice, where the conscience itself is not fully satisfied.

But, say you, we have hard measure; the Quakers are indulged with the liberty denied to us. They have [? are]; and dearly they have earned it. You have come in (as a sect at least) in the cool of the evening; at the eleventh hour. The Quaker character was hardened in the fires of persecution in the seventeenth century; not quite to the stake and faggot, but little short of that; they grew up and thrived against noisome prisons, cruel beatings, whippings, stockings. They have since endured a century or two of scoffs, contempts; they have been a bye-word, and a nay-word; they have stood unmoved: and the consequence of long conscientious resistance on one part is invariably, in the end, remission on the other. The legislature, that denied you the tolerance, which I do not know that at that time you even asked, gave them the liberty which, without granting, they would have assumed. No penalties could have driven them into the Churches. This is the consequence of entire measures. Had the early Quakers consented to take oaths, leaving a Protest with the clerk of the court against them in the same breath with which they had taken them, do you in your conscience think that they would have been indulged at this day in their exclusive privilege of Affirming? Let your people go on for a century or so, marrying in your own fashion, and I will warrant them before the end of it the legislature will be willing to concede to them more than they at present demand.

Either the institution of marriage depends not for its validity upon hypocritical compliances with the ritual of an alien Church; and then I do not see why you cannot marry among yourselves, as the Quakers, without their indulgence, would have been doing to this day; or it does depend upon such ritual compliance, and then in your Protests you offend against a divine ordinance. I have read in the Essex-street Liturgy a form for the celebration of marriage. Why is this[Pg 314] become a dead letter? O! it has never been legalised; that is to say, in the law's eye it is no marriage. But do you take upon you to say, in the view of the gospel it would be none? Would your own people at least look upon a couple so paired, to be none? But the case of dowries, alimonies, inheritances, &c. which depend for their validity upon the ceremonial of the Church by law established—are these nothing? That our children are not legally Filii Nullius—is this nothing? I answer, nothing; to the preservation of a good conscience, nothing; to a consistent Christianity, less than nothing. Sad worldly thorns they are indeed, and stumbling blocks, well worthy to be set out of the way by a legislature calling itself Christian; but not likely to be removed in a hurry by any shrewd legislators, who perceive that the petitioning complainants have not so much as bruised a shin in the resistance; but, prudently declining the briars and the prickles, nestle quietly down in the smooth two-sided velvet of a Protesting Occasional Conformity.—I am, dear sir,

With much respect, yours, &c.



In a letter to the Editor


Hark'ee, Mr. Editor. A word in your ear. They tell me you are going to put me in print—in print, Sir. To publish my life. What is my life to you, Sir? What is it to you whether I ever lived at all? My life is a very good life, Sir. I am insured at the Pelican, Sir. I am threescore years and six—six; mark me, Sir: but I can play Polonius, which, I believe, few of your corre—correspondents can do, Sir. I suspect tricks, Sir: I smell a rat; I do, I do. You would cog the die upon us; you would, you would, Sir. But I will forestall you, Sir. You would be deriving me from William the Conqueror, with a murrain to you. It is no[Pg 315] such thing, Sir. The town shall know better, Sir. They begin to smoke your flams, Sir. Mr. Liston may be born where he pleases, Sir; but I will not be born at Lup—Lupton Magna, for any body's pleasure, Sir. My son and I have looked over the great map of Kent together, and we can find no such place as you would palm upon us, Sir; palm upon us, I say. Neither Magna nor Parva, as my son says, and he knows Latin, Sir; Latin. If you write my life true, Sir, you must set down, that I, Joseph Munden, comedian, came into the world upon Allhallows' day, Anno Domini, 1759—1759; no sooner nor later, Sir: and I saw the first light—the first light, remember, Sir, at Stoke Pogis—Stoke Pogis, comitatu Bucks, and not at Lup—Lup[ton] Magna, which I believe to be no better than moonshine—moonshine; do you mark me, Sir? I wonder you can put such flim flams upon us, Sir; I do, I do. It does not become you, Sir; I say it—I say it. And my father was an honest tradesman, Sir: he dealt in malt and hops, Sir, and was a Corporation man, Sir, and of the Church of England, Sir, and no Presbyterian; nor Ana—Anabaptist, Sir, however you may be disposed to make honest people believe to the contrary, Sir. Your bams are found out, Sir. The town will be your stale puts no longer, Sir; and you must not send us jolly fellows, Sir—we that are comedians, Sir,—you must not send us into groves and Char—Charnwoods, a moping, Sir. Neither Charns, nor charnel houses, Sir. It is not our constitutions, Sir. I tell it you—I tell it you. I was a droll dog from my cradle. I came into the world tittering, and the midwife tittered, and the gossips spilt their caudle with tittering. And when I was brought to the font, the parson could not christen me for tittering. So I was never more than half baptized. And when I was little Joey, I made 'em all titter; there was not a melancholy face to be seen in Pogis. Pure nature, Sir. I was born a comedian. Old Screwup, the undertaker, could tell you, Sir, if he were living. Why, I was obliged to be locked up every time there was to be a funeral at Pogis. I was—I was, Sir. I used to grimace, at the mutes, as he called it, and put 'em out with my mops and my mows, till they couldn't stand at a door for me. And when I was locked up, with nothing but a cat in my company, I followed my bent with trying to make her laugh, and sometimes she would, and sometimes she would[Pg 316] not. And my schoolmaster could make nothing of me: I had only to thrust my tongue in my cheek—in my cheek, Sir—and the rod dropped from his finger: and so my education was limited, Sir. And I grew up a young fellow, and it was thought convenient to enter me upon some course of life that should make me serious; but it wouldn't do, Sir. And I was articled to a drysalter. My father gave forty pounds premium with me, Sir. I can show the indent—dent—dentures, Sir. But I was born to be a comedian, Sir: so I ran away, and listed with the players, Sir; and I topt my parts at Amersham and Gerrard's Cross, and played my own father to his face, in his own town of Pogis, in the part of Gripe, when I was not full seventeen years of age, and he did not know me again, but he knew me afterwards; and then he laughed, and I laughed, and, what is better, the drysalter laughed, and gave me up my articles for the joke's sake: so that I came into court afterwards with clean hands—with clean hands—do you see, Sir?

[Here the manuscript becomes illegible for two or three sheets onwards, which we presume to be occasioned by the absence of Mr. Munden, jun. who clearly transcribed it for the press thus far. The rest (with the exception of the concluding paragraph, which seemingly is resumed in the first hand writing) appears to contain a confused account of some lawsuit, in which the elder Munden was engaged; with a circumstantial history of the proceedings on a case of Breach of Promise of Marriage, made to or by (we cannot pick out which) Jemima Munden, spinster, probably the comedian's cousin, for it does not appear he had any sister; with a few dates, rather better preserved, of this great actor's engagements—as "Cheltenham (spelt Cheltnam) 1776;" "Bath, 1779;" "London, 1789;" together with stage anecdotes of Messrs. Edwin, Wilson, Lee Lewis, &c. over which we have strained our eyes to no purpose, in the hope of presenting something amusing to the public. Towards the end the manuscript brightens up a little, as we have said, and concludes in the following manner.]

——stood before them for six and thirty years, [we suspect that Mr. Munden is here speaking of his final leave-taking of the stage] and to be dismissed at last. But I was heart-whole, heart-whole to the last, Sir. What though a few drops did course themselves down the old veteran's cheeks; who could[Pg 317] help it, Sir? I was a giant that night, Sir; and could have played fifty parts, each as arduous as Dozy. My faculties were never better, Sir. But I was to be laid upon the shelf. It did not suit the public to laugh with their old servant any longer, Sir. [Here some moisture has blotted a sentence or two.] But I can play Polonius still, Sir; I can, I can.

Your servant, Sir,
Joseph Munden.




Unfortunate is the lot of that man, who can look round about the wide world, and exclaim with truth, I have no friend! Do you know any such lonely sufferer? For mercy sake send him to me. I can afford him plenty. He shall have them good, cheap. I have enough and to spare. Truly society is the balm of human life. But you may take a surfeit from sweetest odours administered to satiety. Hear my case, dear Variorum, and pity me. I am an elderly gentleman—not old—a sort of middle-aged-gentleman-and-a-half—with a tolerable larder, cellar, &c.; and a most unfortunately easy temper for the callous front of impertinence to try conclusions on. My day times are entirely engrossed by the business of a public office, where I am any thing but alone from nine till five. I have forty fellow-clerks about me during those hours; and, though the human face be divine, I protest that so many human faces seen every day do very much diminish the homage I am willing to pay to that divinity. It fares with these divine resemblances as with a Polytheism. Multiply the object and you infallibly enfeeble the adoration. "What a piece of work is Man! how excellent in faculty," &c. But a great many men together—a hot huddle of rational creatures—Hamlet himself would have lowered his contemplation a peg or two in my situation. Tædet me harum quotidianarum formarum. I go home every day to[Pg 318] my late dinner, absolutely famished and face-sick. I am sometimes fortunate enough to go off unaccompanied. The relief is restorative like sleep; but far oftener, alas! some one of my fellows, who lives my way (as they call it) does me the sociality of walking with me. He sees me to the door; and now I figure to myself a snug fire-side—comfortable meal—a respiration from the burthen of society—and the blessedness of a single knife and fork. I sit down to my solitary mutton, happy as Adam when a bachelor. I have not swallowed a mouthful, before a startling ring announces the visit of a friend. O! for an everlasting muffle upon that appalling instrument of torture! A knock makes me nervous; but a ring is a positive fillip to all the sour passions of my nature:—and yet such is my effeminacy of temperament, I neither tie up the one nor dumbfound the other. But these accursed friends, or fiends, that torture me thus! They come in with a full consciousness of their being unwelcome—with a sort of grin of triumph over your weakness. My soul sickens within when they enter. I can scarcely articulate a "how d'ye." My digestive powers fail. I have enough to do to maintain them in any healthiness when alone. Eating is a solitary function; you may drink in company. Accordingly the bottle soon succeeds; and such is my infirmity, that the reluctance soon subsides before it. The visitor becomes agreeable. I find a great deal that is good in him; wonder I should have felt such aversion on his first entrance; we get chatty, conversible; insensibly comes midnight; and I am dismissed to the cold bed of celibacy (the only place, alas! where I am suffered to be alone) with the reflection that another day has gone over my head without the possibility of enjoying my own free thoughts in solitude even for a solitary moment. O for a Lodge in some vast wilderness! the den of those Seven Sleepers (conditionally the other six were away)—a Crusoe solitude!

What most disturbs me is, that my chief annoyers are mostly young men. Young men, let them think as they please, are no company singly for a gentleman of my years. They do mighty well in a mixed society, and where there are females to take them off, as it were. But to have the load of one of them to one's own self for successive hours conversation is unendurable.

There was my old friend Captain Beacham—he died some[Pg 319] six years since, bequeathing to my friendship three stout young men, his sons, and seven girls, the tallest in the land. Pleasant, excellent young women they were, and for their sakes I did, and could endure much. But they were too tall. I am superstitious in that respect, and think that to a just friendship, something like proportion in stature as well as mind is desirable. Now I am five feet and a trifle more. Each of these young women rose to six, and one exceeded by two inches. The brothers are proportionably taller. I have sometimes taken the altitude of this friendship; and on a modest computation I may be said to have known at one time a whole furlong of Beachams. But the young women are married off, and dispersed among the provinces. The brothers are left. Nothing is more distasteful than these relics and parings of past friendships—unmeaning records of agreeable hours flown. There are three of them. If they hunted in triples, or even couples, it were something; but by a refinement of persecution, they contrive to come singly; and so spread themselves out into three evenings molestation in a week. Nothing is so distasteful as the sight of their long legs, couched for continuance upon my fender. They have been mates of Indiamen; and one of them in particular has a story of a shark swallowing a boy in the bay of Calcutta. I wish the shark had swallowed him. Nothing can be more useless than their conversation to me, unless it is mine to them. We have no ideas (save of eating and drinking) in common. The shark story has been told till it cannot elicit a spark of attention; but it goes on just as usual. When I try to introduce a point of literature, or common life, the mates gape at me. When I fill a glass, they fill one too. Here is sympathy. And for this poor correspondency of having a gift of swallowing and retaining liquor in common with my fellow-creatures, I am to be tied up to an ungenial intimacy, abhorrent from every sentiment, and every sympathy besides. But I cannot break the bond. They are sons of my old friend.



No one can pass through the streets, alleys, and blindest thoroughfares of this Metropolis, without surprise at the[Pg 320] number of shops opened everywhere for the sale of cheap publications—not blasphemy and sedition—nor altogether flimsy periodicals, though the latter abound to a surfeit—but I mean fair re-prints of good old books. Fielding, Smollett, the Poets, Historians, are daily becoming accessible to the purses of poor people. I cannot behold this result from the enlargement of the reading public without congratulations to my country. But as every blessing has its wrong side, it is with aversion I behold springing up with this phenomenon a race of Readers against the grain. Young men who thirty years ago would have been play-goers, punch-drinkers, cricketers, &c. with one accord are now—Readers!—a change in some respects, perhaps, salutary; but I liked the old way best. Then people read because they liked reading. He must have been indigent indeed, and, as times went then, probably unable to enjoy a book, who from one little circulating library or another (those slandered benefactions to the public) could not pick out an odd volume to satisfy the intervals of the workshop and the desk. Then if a man told you that he "loved reading mightily, but had no books," you might be sure that in the first assertion at least he was mistaken. Neither had he, perhaps, the materials that should enliven a punch-bowl in his own cellar; but if the rogue loved his liquor, he would quickly find out where the arrack, the lemons, and the sugar dwelt—he would speedily find out the circulating shop for them. I will illustrate this from my own observation. It may detract a little from the gentility of your columns when I tell your Readers that I am—what I hinted at in my last—a Bank Clerk. Three and thirty years ago, when I took my first station at the desk, out of as many fellows in office one or two there were that had read a little. One could give a pretty good account of the Spectator. A second knew Tom Jones. A third recommended Telemachus. One went so far as to quote Hudibras, and was looked on as a phenomenon. But the far greater number neither cared for books, nor affected to care. They were, as I said, in their leisure hours, cricketers, punch-drinkers, play-goers, and the rest. Times are altered now. We are all readers; our young men are split up into so many book-clubs, knots of literati; we criticise; we read the Quarterly and Edinburgh, I assure you; and instead of the old, honest, unpretending illiterature so be[Pg 321]coming to our profession—we read and judge of every thing. I have something to do in these book-clubs, and know the trick and mystery of it. Every new publication that is likely to make a noise, must be had at any rate. By some they are devoured with avidity. These would have been readers in the old time I speak of. The only loss is, that for the good old reading of Addison or Fielding's days is substituted that never-ending flow of thin novelties which are kept up like a ball, leaving no possible time for better things, and threatening in the issue to bury or sweep away from the earth the memory of their nobler predecessors. We read to say that we have read. No reading can keep pace with the writing of this age, but we pant and toil after it as fast as we can. I smile to see an honest lad, who ought to be at trap-ball, laboring up hill against this giant load, taking his toil for a pleasure, and with that utter incapacity for reading which betrays itself by a certain silent movement of the lips when the reader reads to himself, undertaking the infinite contents of fugitive poetry, or travels, what not—to see them with their snail pace undertaking so vast a journey as might make faint a giant's speed; keeping a volume, which a real reader would get through in an hour, three, four, five, six days, and returning it with the last leaf but one folded down. These are your readers against the grain, who yet must read or be thought nothing of—who, crawling through a book with tortoise-pace, go creeping to the next Review to learn what they shall say of it. Upon my soul, I pity the honest fellows mightily. The self-denials of virtue are nothing to the patience of these self tormentors. If I hate one day before another, it is the accursed first day of the month, when a load of periodicals is ushered in and distributed to feed the reluctant monster. How it gapes and takes in its prescribed diet, as little savoury as that which Daniel ministered to that Apocryphal dragon, and not more wholesome! Is there no stopping the eternal wheels of the Press for a half century or two, till the nation recover its senses? Must we magazine it and review [it] at this sickening rate for ever? Shall we never again read to be amused? but to judge, to criticise, to talk about it and about it? Farewel, old honest delight taken in books not quite contemporary, before this plague-token of modern endless novelties broke out upon us—farewel to reading for its own sake!

[Pg 322]

Rather than follow in the train of this insatiable monster of modern reading, I would forswear my spectacles, play at put, mend pens, kill fleas, stand on one leg, shell peas, or do whatsoever ignoble diversion you shall put me to. Alas! I am hurried on in the vortex. I die of new books, or the everlasting talk about them. I faint of Longman's. I sicken of the Constables. Blackwood and Cadell have me by the throat.

I will go and relieve myself with a page of honest John Bunyan, or Tom Brown. Tom anybody will do, so long as they are not of this whiffling century.

Your Old-fashioned Correspondent,



If you have a son or daughter inclinable to the folly of Authorship, pray warn them by my example of the mortifications which are the constant attendants upon it. I do not advert to the trite instances of unfair and malignant reviewing, though that is not nothing—but to the mortifications they may expect from their friends and common acquaintance. I have been a dabler this way, and cannot resist flinging out my thoughts occasionally in periodical publications. I was the chief support of the * * * * * * * * * Magazine while it lasted, under the signature of Olindo. All my friends guessed, or rather knew, who Olindo was; but I never knew one who did not take a pleasure in affecting to be ignorant of it. One would ask me, whether I had read that clever article in the * * * * * * * * * Magazine of this month (and here I began to prick up my ears) signed "Zekiel Homespun."—(Then my ears would flap down again.)—Another would praise the verses of "X. Y. Z.;" a third stood up for the "Gipsy Stranger;" a long rambling tale in prose, with all the lengthiness, and none of the fine-heartedness and gush of soul of A——n C——m to recommend it. But never in a single instance was Olindo ever hinted at. I have sifted, I have pumped them (as the vulgar phrase is) till my heart ached, to extort a pittance of acknowledgment. I have descended to arts below any animal but an Author, who is veritably the meanest of Heaven's creatures, and my vanity has returned upon myself ungratified, to choke me. When I[Pg 323] could bear their silence no longer and have ventured to ask them how they liked "such a Paper;" a cold, "O! was that yours?" is the utmost I ever obtained from them. A fellow sits at my desk this morning, spelling The New Times over from head to tail, and I know that he will purposely skip over this article, because he suspects me to be Lepus. So confident am I of this, and of his deliberate purpose to torment me, that I have a great mind to give you his character—knowing that he will not read it—but I forbear him at present. They have two ways of doing it. "The * * * * * * * * * Magazine is very sprightly this month, Anticlericus has some good hits, the Old Baker is capital," and so forth. Or the same Magazine is "unusually dull this month," especially when Olindo happens to have an article better or longer than usual. I publish a book now and then. In the very nick of its novelty, the honey moon, as it were—when with pride I have placed my bantling on my own shelves in company with its betters, a friend will drop in, and ask me if I have anything new; then, carefully eluding mine, he will take down The Angel of the World, or Barry Cornwall, and beg me to lend it him. "He is particularly careful of new books." But he never borrows me. To one Lady I lent a little Novel of mine, a thing of about two hours' reading at most, and she returned it after five weeks' keeping, with an apology that she had "so small time for reading." I found it doubled down at the last leaf but one—just at the crisis of what I conceived to be a very affecting catastrophe. O if you write, dear Reader, keep the secret inviolable from your most familiar friends. Do not let your own father, brother, or your uncle, know it: not even your wife. I know a Lady who prides herself upon "not reading any of her husband's publications," though she swallows all the trash she can pick up besides; and yet her husband in the world's eye is a very respectable author, and has written some Novels in particular that are in high estimation. Write—and all your friends will hate you—all will suspect you. Are you happy in drawing a character? Shew it not for yours. Not one of your acquaintance but will surmise that you meant him or her—no matter how discordant from their own. Let it be diametrically different, their fancy will extract from it some lines of a likeness. I lost a friend—a most valuable one, by shewing him a whimsical draught of a miser. He himself is remarkable for generosity, even to carelessness in[Pg 324] money matters; but there was an expression in it, out of Juvenal, about an attic—a place where pigeons are fed; and my friend kept pigeons. All the waters in the Danube cannot wash it out of his pate to this day, but that in my miser I was making reflections upon him. To conclude, no creature is so craving after applause, and so starved and famished for it, as an author: none so pitiful, and so little pitied. He sets himself up prima facie as something different from his brethren, and they never forgive him. 'Tis the fable of the little birds hooting at the bird of Pallas.



My friend Tom Pry is a kind, warm-hearted fellow, with no one failing in the world but an excess of the passion of Curiosity. He knows every body's name, face, and domestic affairs. He scents out a match three months before the parties themselves are quite agreed about it. Like the man in the play, homo est and no human interest escapes him. I have sometime wondered how he gets all his information. Mere inquisitiveness would not do his business. Certainly the bodily make has much to do with the character. The auricular organs in my friend Tom do not lie flapping against his head as with common mortals, but they perk up like those of a hare at form. The lowest sound cannot elude him. Every parlour and drawing-room is to him a whispering gallery. His own name, pronounced in the utmost compression of susurration, they say, he catches at a quarter furlong interval. I suspect sometimes that the faculty of hearing with him is analogous to the scent in some animals. He seems hung round with ears, like the pagan emblem of Fame, and to imbibe sounds at every pore. You cannot take a walk of business or pleasure, but you are taxed with it by him next morning, with some shrewd guess at the purpose of it. You dread him as you would an inquisitor, or the ubiquitarian power of the old Secret Tribunal. He is the bird of the air, who sees the matter. He has lodgings at a corner house, which looks out four ways; and though you go a round about way to evade his investigation, you are somehow seen notwithstanding. He sees at multiplied angles. He is a sort of second memory to all his friends, an excellent refresher to a[Pg 325] dull or obvious conscience; for he can repeat to you at any given time all that ever you have done in your life. He should have been a death-bed confessor. His appetite for information is omnivorous. To get at the name only of a stranger whom he passes in the street, he counts a God-send; what further he can pick up is a luxury. His friends joke with him about his innocent propensity, but the bent of nature is too deeply burned in to be removed with such forks. Usque recurrit. I myself in particular had been rallying him pretty sharply one day upon the foible, and it seemed to impress him a little. He asked no more questions that morning. But walking with him in St. James's Park in the evening, we met an old Gentleman unknown to him, who bowed to me. I could see that Tom kept his passion within with great struggles. Silence was observed for ten minutes, and I was congratulating myself on my friend's mastery over this inordinate appetite of knowing every thing, when we had not past the Queen's gate a pace or two, but the fire burnt within him, and he said, as if with indifference, "By the way, who was that friend of yours who bowed to you just now?" He has a place in the Post-office, which I think he chose for the pleasure of reading superscriptions. He is too honorable a man, I am sure, to get clandestinely at the contents of a letter not addressed to him, but the outside he cannot resist. It tickles him. He plays about the flame, as it were; contents himself with a superficial caress, when he can get at nothing more substantial. He has a handsome seal, which he keeps to proffer to such of his friends as have not one in readiness, when they would fold up an epistle; nay, he will seal it for you, and pays himself by discovering the direction. As I have no directionary secrets, I generally humour him with pretending to have left my seal at home (though I carry a rich gold one, which was my grandfather's, always about me), to gratify his harmless inclination. He is the cleverest of sealing a letter of any man I ever knew, and turns out the cleanest impressions. It is a neat but slow operation with him—he has so much more time to drink in the direction. With all this curiosity, he is the finest tempered fellow in the world. You may banter him from morning to night, but never ruffle his temper. We sometimes raise reports to mislead him, as that such a one is going to be married next month, &c.; but he has an instinct, as I called it before, which prevents his yielding to the imposition. He[Pg 326] distinguishes at hearing between giddy rumour and steady report. He listens with dignity, and his prying is without credulity.



You say you were diverted with my description of the "Curious Man." Tom is in some respects an amusing character enough, but then it is by no means uncommon. But what power of words can paint Tom's wife? My pencil faulters while I attempt it. But I am ambitious that the portraits should hang side by side: they may set off one another. Tom's passion for knowledge in the pursuit is intense and restless, but when satisfied it sits down and seeks no further. He must know all about every thing, but his desires terminate in mere science. Now as far as the pure mathematics, as they are called, transcend the practical, so far does Tom's curiosity, to my mind, in elegance and disinterestedness, soar above the craving, gnawing, mercenary (if I may so call it) inquisitiveness of his wife.

Mrs. Priscilla Pry must not only know all about your private concerns, but be as deeply concerned herself for them: she will pluck at the very heart of your mystery. She must anatomise and skin you, absolutely lay your feelings bare. Her passions are reducible to two, but those are stronger in her than in any human creature—pity and envy. I will try to illustrate it. She has intimacy with two families—the Grimstones and the Gubbins's. The former are sadly pinched to live, the latter are in splendid circumstances: the former tenant an obscure third floor in Devereux Court, the latter occupy a stately mansion in May-fair. I have accompanied her to both these domiciles. She will burst into the incommodious lodging of poor Grimstone and his wife at some unseasonable hour, when they are at their meagre dinner, with a "Bless me! what a dark passage you have! I could hardly find my way up stairs! Isn't there a drain somewhere? Well, I like to see you at your little bit of mutton!" But her treat is to catch them at a meal of solitary potatoes. Then does her sympathy burgeon, and bud out into a thousand flowers of rhetorical pity and wonder; and it is trumpeted out afterwards to all her acquaintance, that the poor Grimstones were "making[Pg 327] a dinner without flesh yesterday." The word poor is her favorite; the word (on my conscience) is endeared to her beyond any monosyllable in the language. Poverty, in the tone of her compassion, is somehow doubled; it is emphatically what a dramatist, with some licence, has called poor poverty. It is stark-naked indigence, and never in her mind connected with any mitigating circumstances of self-respect and independence in the owner, which give to poverty a dignity. It is an object of pure pity, and nothing else. This is her first way. Change we the scene to May-fair and the Gubbins's. Suppose it a morning call:—

"Bless me!—(for she equally blesses herself against want and abundance)—what a style you do live in! what elegant curtains! You must have a great income to afford all these things. I wonder you can ever visit such poor folks as we!"—with more to the same purpose, which I must cut short, not to be tedious. She pumps all her friends to know the exact income of all her friends. Such a one must have a great salary. Do you think he has as much as eight hundred a year—seven hundred and fifty perhaps? A wag once told her I had fourteen hundred—(Heaven knows we Bank Clerks, though with no reason to complain, in few cases realise that luxury)—and the fury of her wonder, till I undeceived her, nearly worked her spirits to a fever. Now Pry is equally glad to get at his friends' circumstances; but his curiosity is disinterested, as I said, and passionless. No emotions are consequent upon the satisfaction of it. He is a philosopher who loves knowledge for its own sake; she is not content with a lumen siccum (dry knowledge, says Bacon, is best); the success of her researches is nothing, but as it feeds the two main springs between which her soul is kept in perpetual conflict—Pity, and Envy.



A desk at the Bank of England is prima facie not the point in the world that seems best adapted for an insight into the characters of men; yet something may be gleaned from the barrenest soil. There is Egomet, for instance. By the way, how pleasant it is to string up one's acquaintance thus, in the grumbler's corner of some newspaper, and for them to[Pg 328] know nothing at all about it; nay, for them to read their own characters and suspect nothing of the matter. Blessings on the writer who first made use of Roman names. It is only calling Tomkins—Caius; and Jenkins—Titus; or whipping Hopkins upon the back of Scævola, and you have the pleasure of executing sentence with no pain to the offender. This hanging in effigy is delightful; it evaporates the spleen without souring the blood, and is altogether the most gentlemanly piece of Jack-Ketchery imaginable.

Egomet, then, has been my desk-fellow for thirty years. He is a remarkable species of selfishness. I do not mean that he is attentive to his own gain; I acquit him of that common-place manifestation of the foible. I shoot no such small deer. But his sin is a total absorption of mind in things relating to himself—his house—his horse—his stable—his gardener, &c. Nothing that concerns himself can he imagine to be indifferent to you.—He does my sympathy too much honour. The worst is, he takes no sort of interest whatever in your horse, house, stable, gardener, &c. If you begin a discourse about your own household economy and small matters, he treats it with the most mortifying indifference. He has discarded all pronouns for the first-personal. His inattention, or rather aversion, to hear, is no more than what is a proper return to a self-important babbler of his own little concerns; but then, if he will not give, why should he expect to receive, a hearing? "There is no reciprocity in this."

There is an egotism of vanity; but his is not that species either. He is not vain of any talent, or indeed properly of any thing he possesses; but his doings and sayings, his little pieces of good or ill luck, the sickness of his maid, the health of his pony, the question whether he shall ride or walk home to-day to Clapham, the shape of his hat or make of his boot; his poultry, and how many eggs they lay daily—are the never-*ending topics of his talk. Your goose might lay golden eggs without exciting in him a single curiosity to hear about it.

He is alike throughout; his large desk, which abuts on mine—nimium vicini, alas! is a vast lumber chest composed of every scrap of most insignificant paper, even to dinner invitation cards, every fragment that has been addressed to him, or in any way has concerned himself. My elbow aches with being perpetually in the way of his sudden jerking it up, which he does incessantly to hunt for some worth[Pg 329]less scrap of the least possible self-reference; this he does without notice, and without ceremony. I should like to make a bonfire of the ungainful mass—but I should not like it either; with it would fall down at once all the structure of his pride—his fane of Diana, his treasure, his calling, the business he came into the world to do.

I said before, he is not avaricious—not egotistical in the vain sense of the word either; herefore the term selfishness, or egotism, is improperly applied to his distemper; it is the sin of self-fullness. Neither is himself, properly speaking, an object of his contemplation at all; it is the things, which belong or refer to himself. His conversation is one entire soliloquy; or it may be said to resemble Robinson Crusoe's self-colloquies in his island: you are the parrot sitting by. Begin a story, however modest, of your own concerns (something of real interest perhaps), and the little fellow contracts and curls up into his little self immediately, and, with shut ears, sits unmoved, self-centred, as remote from your joys or sorrows as a Pagod or a Lucretian Jupiter.




[About the year 18—, one R——d, a respectable London merchant (since dead), stood in the pillory for some alleged fraud upon the Revenue. Among his papers were found the following "Reflections," which we have obtained by favour of our friend Elia, who knew him well, and had heard him describe the train of his feelings upon that trying occasion almost in the words of the MS. Elia speaks of him as a man (with the exception of the peccadillo aforesaid) of singular integrity in all his private dealings, possessing great suavity of manner, with a certain turn for humour. As our object is to present human nature under every possible circumstance, we do not think that we shall sully our pages by inserting it.—Editor.]

[Pg 330]

Scene, opposite the Royal Exchange

Time, Twelve to One, Noon

Ketch, my good fellow, you have a neat hand. Prithee, adjust this new collar to my neck, gingerly. I am not used to these wooden cravats. There, softly, softly. That seems the exact point between ornament and strangulation. A thought looser on this side. Now it will do. And have a care in turning me, that I present my aspect due vertically. I now face the orient. In a quarter of an hour I shift southward—do you mind?—and so on till I face the east again, travelling with the sun. No half-points, I beseech you; N.N. by W. or any such elaborate niceties. They become the shipman's card, but not this mystery. Now leave me a little to my own reflections.

Bless us, what a company is assembled in honour of me! How grand I stand here! I never felt so sensibly before the effect of solitude in a crowd. I muse in solemn silence upon that vast miscellaneous rabble in the pit there. From my private box I contemplate with mingled pity and wonder the gaping curiosity of those underlings. There are my Whitechapel supporters. Rosemary Lane has emptied herself of the very flower of her citizens to grace my show. Duke's place sits desolate. What is there in my face, that strangers should come so far from the east to gaze upon it? [Here an egg narrowly misses him.] That offering was well meant, but not so cleanly executed. By the tricklings, it should not be either myrrh or frankincence. Spare your presents, my friends; I am no-ways mercenary. I desire no missive tokens of your approbation. I am past those valentines. Bestow these coffins of untimely chickens upon mouths that water for them. Comfort your addle spouses with them at home, and stop the mouths of your brawling brats with such Olla Podridas; they have need of them. [A brick is let fly.] Discase not, I pray you, nor dismantle your rent and ragged tenements, to furnish me with architectural decorations, which I can excuse. This fragment might have stopped a flaw against snow comes. [A coal flies.] Cinders are dear, gentlemen. This nubbling might have helped the pot boil, when your dirty cuttings from the shambles at three ha'-pence a pound shall stand at a cold simmer. Now, south about, Ketch. I would enjoy australian popularity.

[Pg 331]

What my friends from over the water! Old benchers—flies of a day—ephemeral Romans—welcome! Doth the sight of me draw souls from limbo? Can it dispeople purgatory—ha!

What am I, or what was my father's house, that I should thus be set up a spectacle to gentlemen and others? Why are all faces, like Persians at the sun-rise, bent singly on mine alone? It was wont to be esteemed an ordinary visnomy, a quotidian merely. Doubtless, these assembled myriads discern some traits of nobleness, gentility, breeding, which hitherto have escaped the common observation—some intimations, as it were, of wisdom, valour, piety, and so forth. My sight dazzles; and, if I am not deceived by the too familiar pressure of this strange neckcloth that envelopes it, my countenance gives out lambent glories. For some painter now to take me in the lucky point of expression!—the posture so convenient—the head never shifting, but standing quiescent in a sort of natural frame. But these artizans require a westerly aspect. Ketch, turn me.

Something of St. James's air in these my new friends. How my prospects shift, and brighten! Now if Sir Thomas Lawrence be any where in that group, his fortune is made for ever. I think I see some one taking out a crayon. I will compose my whole face to a smile, which yet shall not so predominate, but that gravity and gaiety shall contend as it were—you understand me? I will work up my thoughts to some mild rapture—a gentle enthusiasmus—which the artist may transfer in a manner warm to the canvass. I will inwardly apostrophize my tabernacle.

Delectable mansion, hail! House, not made of every wood! Lodging, that pays no rent; airy and commodious; which, owing no window tax, art yet all casement, out of which men have such pleasure in peering and overlooking, that they will sometimes stand an hour together to enjoy thy prospects! Cell, recluse from the vulgar! Quiet retirement from the great Babel, yet affording sufficient glimpses into it! Pulpit, that instructs without note or sermon-book, into which the preacher is inducted without tenth or first fruit! Throne, unshared and single, that disdainest a Brentford competitor! Honour without co-rival! Or hearest thou rather, magnificent theatre in which the spectator comes to see and to be seen? From thy giddy heights I look down[Pg 332] upon the common herd, who stand with eyes upturned as if a winged messenger hovered over them; and mouths open, as if they expected manna. I feel, I feel, the true Episcopal yearnings. Behold in me, my flock, your true overseer! What though I cannot lay hands, because my own are laid, yet I can mutter benedictions. True otium cum dignitate! Proud Pisgah eminence! Pinnacle sublime! O Pillory, 'tis thee I sing! Thou younger brother to the gallows, without his rough and Esau palms; that with ineffable contempt surveyest beneath thee the grovelling stocks, which claims presumptuously to be of thy great race. Let that low wood know, that thou art far higher born! Let that domicile for groundling rogues and base earth-kissing varlets envy thy preferment, not seldom fated to be the wanton baiting-house, the temporary retreat, of poet and of patriot. Shades of Bastwick and of Prynne hover over thee—Defoe is there, and more greatly daring Shebbeare—from their (little more elevated) stations they look down with recognitions. Ketch, turn me.

I now veer to the north. Open your widest gates, thou proud Exchange of London, that I may look in as proudly! Gresham's wonder, hail! I stand upon a level with all your kings. They, and I, from equal heights, with equal superciliousness, o'er-look the plodding, money-hunting tribe below; who, busied in their sordid speculations, scarce elevate their eyes to notice your ancient, or my recent, grandeur. The second Charles smiles on me from three pedestals?[50] He closed the Exchequer: I cheated the Excise. Equal our darings, equal be our lot.

[50] A statue of Charles II. by the elder Cibber, adorns the front of the Exchange. He stands also on high, in the train of his crowned ancestors, in his proper order, within that building. But the merchants of London, in a superfœtation of loyalty, have, within a few years, caused to be erected another effigy of him on the ground in the centre of the interior. We do not hear that a fourth is in contemplation.—Editor.

Are those the quarters? 'tis their fatal chime. That the ever-winged hours would but stand still! but I must descend, descend from this dream of greatness. Stay, stay, a little while, importunate hour hand! A moment or two, and I shall walk on foot with the undistinguished many. The clock speaks one. I return to common life. Ketch, let me out.

[Pg 333]



I am the miserablest man living. Give me counsel, dear Editor. I was bred up in the strictest principles of honesty, and have passed my life in punctual adherence to them. Integrity might be said to be ingrained in our family. Yet I live in constant fear of one day coming to the gallows.

Till the latter end of last autumn I never experienced these feelings of self-mistrust which ever since have embittered my existence. From the apprehension of that unfortunate man whose story began to make so great an impression upon the public about that time, I date my horrors. I never can get it out of my head that I shall some time or other commit a forgery, or do some equally vile thing. To make matters worse I am in a banking-house. I sit surrounded with a cluster of bank-notes. These were formerly no more to me than meat to a butcher's dog. They are now as toads and aspics. I feel all day like one situated amidst gins and pit-falls. Sovereigns, which I once took such pleasure in counting out, and scraping up with my little thin tin shovel (at which I was the most expert in the banking-house), now scald my hands. When I go to sign my name I set down that of another person, or write my own in a counterfeit character. I am beset with temptations without motive. I want no more wealth than I possess. A more contented being than myself, as to money matters, exists not. What should I fear?

When a child I was once let loose, by favour of a Nobleman's gardener, into his Lordship's magnificent fruit garden, with free leave to pull the currants and the gooseberries; only I was interdicted from touching the wall fruit. Indeed, at that season (it was the end of Autumn) there was little left. Only on the South wall (can I forget the hot feel of the brickwork?) lingered the one last peach. Now peaches are a fruit I always had, and still have, an almost utter aversion to. There is something to my palate singularly harsh and repulsive in the flavour of them. I know not by what demon of contradiction inspired, but I was haunted by an irresistible desire to pluck it. Tear myself as often as I would from the spot, I found myself still recurring to it, till, maddening with desire[Pg 334] (desire I cannot call it), with wilfulness rather—without appetite—against appetite, I may call it—in an evil hour I reached out my hand, and plucked it. Some few rain drops just then fell; the sky (from a bright day) became overcast; and I was a type of our first parents, after the eating of that fatal fruit. I felt myself naked and ashamed; stripped of my virtue, spiritless. The downy fruit, whose sight rather than savour had tempted me, dropt from my hand, never to be tasted. All the commentators in the world cannot persuade me but that the Hebrew word in the second chapter of Genesis, translated apple, should be rendered peach. Only this way can I reconcile that mysterious story.

Just such a child at thirty am I among the cash and valuables, longing to pluck, without an idea of enjoyment further. I cannot reason myself out of these fears: I dare not laugh at them. I was tenderly and lovingly brought up. What then? Who that in life's entrance had seen the babe F——, from the lap stretching out his little fond mouth to catch the maternal kiss, could have predicted, or as much as imagined, that life's very different exit? The sight of my own fingers torments me; they seem so admirably constructed for —— pilfering. Then that jugular vein, which I have in common——; in an emphatic sense may I say with David, I am "fearfully made." All my mirth is poisoned by these unhappy suggestions. If, to dissipate reflection, I hum a tune, it changes to the "Lamentations of a Sinner." My very dreams are tainted. I awake with a shocking feeling of my hand in some pocket.

Advise with me, dear Editor, on this painful heart-malady. Tell me, do you feel any thing allied to it in yourself? do you never feel an itching, as it were—a dactylomania—or am I alone? You have my honest confession. My next may appear from Bow-street.


[Pg 335]



The Odes and Addresses are Thirteen in number. The metre is happily varied from the familiar epistolary verse to the Eton College stanza, and loftier parodies of Gray, &c. Among the Great People addressed are—Graham the Aeronaut, Mr. McAdam, Mrs. Fry, Martin of Galway, R. W. Elliston, Esq., &c. &c. from which the reader may gather that the Addresses are not mere unqualified or fulsome dedications. They have, in fact, a fund of fun. They remind us of Peter Pindar, and sometimes of Colman; they have almost as much humour, and they have rather more wit. A too great aim at brilliancy is their excess. We do not think that in any work there can be too much brilliancy of the same kind. We are not of opinion with those critics who condemn Cowley for excess of wit. We could have borne with a double portion of it, and have never cried "Hold." What we allude to is a mixture of incompatible kinds; the perpetual recurrence of puns in these little effusions of humour; puns uncalled for, and perfectly gratuitous, a sort of make-weight; puns, which, if missed, leave the sense and the drollery full and perfect without them. You may read any one of the addresses, and not catch a quibble in it, and it shall be just as good, nay better; for the addition of said quibble only serves to puzzle with an unnecessary double meaning. A pun is good when it can rely on its single self; but, called in as an accessory, it weakens—unless it makes the humour, it enfeebles it. All this critical prosing is not quite a fair introduction to the pleasant specimen we subjoin, from the pleasantest morceau in the volume, which we throw upon the taste of our pantomime-going readers, with a hearty confidence in their sympathies. The subject is no less a one than their and our Joe—the immortal Grimaldi.

Joseph! they say thou'st left the stage.
To toddle down the hill of life,
And taste the flannell'd ease of age,
Apart from pantomimic strife—
[Pg 336]
Ah, where is now thy rolling head!
Thy winking, reeling, drunken eyes,
(As old Catullus would have said,)
Thy oven-mouth, that swallow'd pies—
Enormous hunger—monstrous drowth!—
Thy pockets greedy as thy mouth!
Ah, where thy ears, so often cuff'd!—
Thy funny, flapping, filching hands!—
Thy partridge body, always stuff'd
With waifs, and strays, and contrabands!—
Thy foot—like Berkeley's Foote—for why?
'Twas often made to wipe an eye! X
Ah, where thy legs—that witty pair!
For "great wits jump"—and so did they!
Lord! how they leap'd in lamp-light air!
Caper'd—and bounc'd—and strode away!—
That years should tame the legs—alack!
I've seen spring thro' an Almanack!
But bounds will have their bound X—the shocks
Of Time will cramp the nimblest toes:
And those that frisk'd in silken clocks
May look to limp in fleecy hose—

And gout, that owns no odds between
The toe of Czar and toe of Clown,
Will visit—but I did not mean
To moralize, though I am grown
Thus sad.—Thy going seem'd to beat
A muffled drum for Fun's retreat!

Oh, how will thy departure cloud
The lamp-light of the little breast!
The Christmas child will grieve aloud
To miss his broadest friend and best,—

For who like thee could ever stride!
Some dozen paces to the mile!—
The motley, medley coach provide—
Or like Joe Frankenstein compile
The vegetable man complete!—
A proper Covent Garden feat!
Or, who like thee could ever drink,
Or eat,—swill, swallow—bolt—and choke!
Nod, weep, and hiccup—sneeze and wink?—
Thy very yawn was quite a joke!
Tho' Joseph, Junior, acts not ill,
"There's no Fool like the old Fool" still!
[Pg 337]

All that is descriptive here is excellent. It seems to us next in merit to some of Cibber's dramatic comic portraitures, Joe, the absolute Joe, lives again in every line. We have just set our mark X against two puns to exemplify our foregoing remarks. The first of them is a positive stop to the current of our joyous feelings. What possible analogy, or contrast even, can there be between a comic gesture of Grimaldi, and the serious misfortunes of the lady, except in verbal sound purely? The sound is good, because the humour lies in the pun, and moreover has reference to Milton's

——at one bound
High over leaps all bounds.

A pun is a humble companion to wit, but disdains to be a train-bearer merely. But these poems are rich in fancies, which, in truth, needed not such aid.



The world has hitherto so little troubled its head with the points of doctrine held by a community, which contributes in other ways so largely to its amusement, that, before the late mischance of a celebrated tragic actor, it scarce condescended to look into the practice of any individual player, much less to inquire into the hidden and abscondite springs of his actions. Indeed it is with some violence to the imagination that we conceive of an actor as belonging to the relations of private life, so closely do we identify these persons in our mind with the characters which they assume upon the stage. How oddly does it sound, when we are told that the late Miss Pope, for instance—that is to say, in our notion of her, Mrs. Candour—was a good daughter, an affectionate sister, and exemplary in all the parts of domestic life! With still greater difficulty can we carry our notions to church, and conceive of Liston, kneeling upon a hassock; or Munden uttering a pious ejaculation, "making mouths at the invisible event." But the times are fast improving; and, if the process of sanctity begun under[Pg 338] the happy auspices of the present licenser go on to its completion, it will be as necessary for a comedian to give an account of his faith, as of his conduct. Fawcett must study the five points; and Dicky Suett, if he were alive, would have to rub up his catechism. Already the effects of it begin to appear. A celebrated performer has thought fit to oblige the world with a confession of his faith; or, Br——'s RELIGIO DRAMATICI. This gentleman, in his laudable attempt to shift from his person the obloquy of Judaism, with the forwardness of a new convert, in trying to prove too much, has, in the opinion of many, proved too little. A simple declaration of his Christianity was sufficient; but, strange to say, his apology has not a word about it. We are left to gather it from some expressions which imply that he is a Protestant; but we did not wish to inquire into the niceties of his orthodoxy. To his friends of the old persuasion the distinction was impertinent; for what cares Rabbi Ben Kimchi for the differences which have split our novelty? To the great body of Christians that hold the Pope's supremacy—that is to say, to the major part of the Christian world—his religion will appear as much to seek as ever. But perhaps he conceived that all Christians are Protestants, as children and the common people call all that are not animals, Christians. The mistake was not very considerable in so young a proselyte; or he might think the general (as logicians speak) involved in the particular. All Protestants are Christians; but I am a Protestant; ergo, &c. as if a marmoset, contending to be a man, overleaping that term as too generic and vulgar, should at once roundly proclaim himself to be a gentleman. The argument would be, as we say, ex abundanti. From whichever cause this excessus in terminis proceeded, we can do no less than congratulate the general state of Christendom upon the accession of so extraordinary a convert. Who was the happy instrument of the conversion, we are yet to learn: it comes nearest to the attempt of the late pious Doctor Watts to christianize the Psalms of the Old Testament. Something of the old Hebrew raciness is lost in the transfusion; but much of its asperity is softened and pared down in the adaptation. The appearance of so singular a treatise at this conjuncture has set us upon an inquiry into the present state of religion upon the stage generally. By the favour of the churchwardens of Saint Martin's in the Fields, and Saint Paul's Covent-Garden, who have very[Pg 339] readily, and with great kindness, assisted our pursuit, we are enabled to lay before the public the following particulars.—Strictly speaking, neither of the two great bodies is collectively a religious institution. We had expected to have found a chaplain among them, as at Saint Stephen's, and other court establishments; and were the more surprised at the omission, as the last [? late] Mr. Bengough, at the one house, and Mr. Powell at the other, from a gravity of speech and demeanour, and the habit of wearing black at their first appearances in the beginning of fifth, or the conclusion of fourth acts, so eminently pointed out their qualifications for such office. These corporations then being not properly congregational, we must seek the solution of our question in the tastes, attainments, accidental breeding, and education of the individual members of them. As we were prepared to expect, a majority at both houses adhere to the religion of the church established, only that at one of them a pretty strong leaven of Catholicism is suspected: which, considering the notorious education of the manager at a foreign seminary, is not so much to be wondered at. Some have gone so far as to report that Mr. T——y, in particular, belongs to an order lately restored on the Continent. We can contradict this: that gentleman is a member of the Kirk of Scotland; and his name is to be found, much to his honour, in the list of Seceders from the congregation of Mr. Fletcher. While the generality, as we have said, are content to jog on in the safe trammels of national orthodoxy, symptoms of a sectarian spirit have broken out in quarters where we should least have looked for it. Some of the ladies at both houses are deep in controverted points. Miss F——e, we are credibly informed, is a sub, and Madame V—— a supra-lapsarian.

Mr. Pope is the last of the exploded sect of the Ranters. Mr. Sinclair has joined the Shakers. Mr. Grimaldi, Senior, after being long a Jumper, has lately fallen into some whimsical theories respecting the Fall of Man; which he understands, not of an allegorical, but a real tumble, by which the whole body of humanity became, as it were, lame to the performance of good works. Pride he will have to be—nothing but a stiff-neck; irresolution—the nerves shaken; an inclination to sinister paths—crookedness of the joints; spiritual deadness—a paralysis; want of charity—a contraction in the fingers; despising of government—a broken head;[Pg 340] the plaister—a sermon; the lint to bind it up—the text; the probers—the preachers; a pair of crutches—the old and new law; a bandage—religious obligation: a fanciful mode of illustration derived from the accidents and habits of his past calling spiritualised, rather than from any accurate acquaintance with the Hebrew text, in which report speaks him but a raw scholar.—Mr. Elliston, from all that we can learn, has his religion yet to choose; though some think him a Mu[g]gletonian.



That a deformed person is a lord.—After a careful perusal of the most approved works that treat of nobility, and of its origin, in these realms in particular, we are left very much in the dark as to the original patent, in which this branch of it is recognised. Neither Camden in his "Etymologie and Original of Barons," nor Dugdale in his "Baronage of England," nor Selden (a more exact and laborious enquirer than either) in his "Titles of Honour," afford[s] a glimpse of satisfaction upon the subject. There is an heraldic term, indeed, which seems to imply gentility, and the right to coat armour, (but nothing further) in persons thus qualified. But the sinister bend is more probably interpreted, by the best writers on this science, of some irregularity of birth, than of bodily conformation. Nobility is either hereditary, or by creation, commonly called patent. Of the former kind, the title in question cannot be, seeing that the notion of it is limited to a personal distinction, which does not necessarily follow in the blood. Honours of this nature, as Mr. Anstey very well observes, descend moreover in a right line. It must be by patent then, if any thing. But who can show it? How comes it to be dormant? Under what king's reign is it pretended? Among the grounds of nobility cited by the learned Mr. Ashmole, after "Services in the Field or in the Council Chamber," he judiciously sets down "Honours conferred by the sovereign out of mere benevolence, or as[Pg 341] favouring one subject rather than another, for some likeness or conformity observed (or but supposed) in him to the royal nature;" and instances the graces showered upon Charles Brandon, who "in his goodly person being thought not a little to favour the port and bearing of the king's own majesty, was by that sovereign, King Henry the Eighth, for some or one of these respects, highly promoted and preferred." Here, if any where, we thought we had discovered a clue to our researches. But after a painful investigation of the rolls and records under the reign of Richard the Third, or Richard Crouchback, as he is more usually designated in the chronicles, from a traditionary stoop, or gibbosity in that part,—we do not find that that monarch conferred any such lordships, as are here pretended, upon any subject, or subjects, on a simple plea of "conformity" in that respect to the "royal nature." The posture of affairs in those tumultuous times, preceding the battle of Bosworth, possibly left him at no leisure to attend to such niceties. Further than his reign we have not extended our enquiries; the kings of England who preceded, or followed him, being generally described by historians to have been of straight and clean limbs, the "natural derivative (says Daniel[51]) of high blood, if not its primitive recommendation to such ennoblement, as denoting strength and martial prowess—the qualities set most by in that fighting age." Another motive, which inclines us to scruple the validity of this claim, is the remarkable fact, that none of the persons, in whom the right is supposed to be vested, do ever insist upon it themselves. There is no instance of any of them "sueing his patent," as the law-books call it; much less of his having actually stepped up into his proper seat, as, so qualified, we might expect that some of them would have had the spirit to do, in the House of Lords. On the contrary, it seems to be a distinction thrust upon them. "Their title of Lord (says one of their own body, speaking of the common people) I never much valued, and now I entirely despise: and yet they will force it upon me as an honour which they have a right to bestow, and which I have none to refuse."[52] Upon a dispassionate review of the subject, we are disposed to believe that there is no right to the peerage incident[Pg 342] to mere bodily configuration; that the title in dispute is merely honorary, and depending upon the breath of the common people; which in these realms is so far from the power of conferring nobility, that the ablest constitutionalists have agreed in nothing more unanimously, than in the maxim that the King is the sole fountain of honour.

[51] History of England, "Temporibus Edwardi Primi et sequentibus."

[52] Hay on Deformity.



I am the only son of a considerable brazier in Birmingham, who dying in 1803, left me successor to the business, with no other incumbrance than a sort of rent-charge, which I am enjoined to pay out of it, ninety-three pounds sterling per annum to his widow, my mother; and which the improving state of the concern, I bless God, has hitherto enabled me to discharge with punctuality. (I say, I am enjoined to pay the said sum, but not strictly obligated; that is to say, as the will is worded, I believe the law would relieve me from the payment of it; but the wishes of a dying parent should in some sort have the effect of law.) So that though the annual profits of my business, on an average of the last three or four years, would appear to an indifferent observer, who should inspect my shop-books, to amount to the sum of one thousand three hundred and three pounds, odd shillings, the real proceeds in that time have fallen short of that sum to the amount of the aforesaid payment of ninety-three pounds sterling annually.

I was always my father's favourite. He took a delight to the very last in recounting the little sagacious tricks, and innocent artifices, of my childhood. One manifestation thereof I never heard him repeat without tears of joy trickling down his cheeks. It seems that when I quitted the parental roof (August 27th, 1788,) being then six years and not quite a month old, to proceed to the Free School at Warwick, where my father was a sort of trustee, my mother—as mothers are usually[Pg 343] provident on these occasions—had stuffed the pockets of the coach, which was to convey me and six more children of my own growth, that were going to be entered along with me at the same seminary, with a prodigious quantity of gingerbread, which I remember my father said was more than was needed; and so indeed it was, for if I had been to eat it all myself, it would have got stale and mouldy before it had been half spent. The consideration whereof set me upon my contrivances how I might secure to myself as much of the gingerbread as would keep good for the next two or three days, and yet none of the rest in a manner be wasted. I had a little pair of pocket compasses which I usually carried about me for the purpose of making draughts and measurements, at which I was always very ingenious, of the various engines and mechanical inventions, in which such a town as Birmingham abounded. By the means of these, and a small penknife, which my father had given me, I cut out the one half of the cake, calculating that the remainder would reasonably serve my turn, and subdividing it into many little slices, which were curious to see for the neatness and niceness of their proportion, I sold it out in so many pennyworths to my young companions, as served us all the way to Warwick, which is a distance of some twenty miles from this town; and very merry, I assure you, we made ourselves with it, feasting all the way. By this honest stratagem I put double the prime cost of the gingerbread into my purse, and secured as much as I thought would keep good and moist for my next two or three days eating. When I told this to my parents on their first visit to me at Warwick, my father (good man) patted me on the cheek, and stroked my head, and seemed as if he could never make enough of me; but my mother unaccountably burst into tears, and said "it was a very niggardly action," or some such expression, and that "she would rather it would please God to take me,"—meaning, God help me, that I should die—"than that she should live to see me grow up a mean man"—which shows the difference of parent from parent, and how some mothers are more harsh and intolerant to their children than some fathers; when we might expect quite the contrary. My father, however, loaded me with presents from that time, which made me the envy of my schoolfellows. As I felt this growing disposition in them, I naturally sought to avert it by all the means in my power; and from that time I used to eat my[Pg 344] little packages of fruit, and other nice things, in a corner so privately, that I was never found out. Once, I remember, I had a huge apple sent me, of that sort which they call cats' heads. I concealed this all day under my pillow; and at night, but not before I had ascertained that my bedfellow was sound asleep, which I did by pinching him rather smartly two or three times, which he seemed to perceive no more than a dead person, though once or twice he made a motion as if he would turn, which frightened me—I say, when I had made all sure, I fell to work upon my apple; and though it was as big as an ordinary man's two fists, I made shift to get through it before it was time to get up; and a more delicious feast I never made,—thinking all night what a good parent I had (I mean my father) to send me so many nice things, when the poor lad that lay by me had no parent or friend in the world to send him any thing nice; and thinking of his desolate condition, I munched and munched as silently as I could, that I might not set him a longing if he overheard me: and yet for all this considerateness, and attention to other people's feelings, I was never much a favourite with my school-fellows, which I have often wondered at, seeing that I never defrauded any one of them of the value of a halfpenny, or told stories of them to their master, as some little lying boys would do, but was ready to do any of them all the services in my power, that were consistent with my own well doing. I think nobody can be expected to go further than that. But I am detaining my reader too long in the recording of my juvenile days. It is time that I should go forward to a season when it became natural that I should have some thoughts of marrying, and, as they say, settling in the world. Nevertheless my reflections on what I may call the boyish period of my life may have their use to some readers. It is pleasant to trace the man in the boy; to observe shoots of generosity in those young years, and to watch the progress of liberal sentiments, and what I may call a genteel way of thinking, which is discernible in some children at a very early age, and usually lays the foundation of all that is praiseworthy in the manly character afterwards.

With the warmest inclinations towards that way of life, and a serious conviction of its superior advantages over a single one, it has been the strange infelicity of my lot, never to have entered into the respectable estate of matrimony.[Pg 345] Yet I was once very near it. I courted a young woman in my twenty-seventh year—for so early I began to feel symptoms of the tender passion! She was well to do in the world, as they call it; but yet not such a fortune as, all things considered, perhaps I might have pretended to. It was not my own choice altogether; but my mother very strongly pressed me to it. She was always putting it to me, that "I had comings in sufficient, that I need not stand upon a portion." Though the young woman, to do her justice, had considerable expectations, which yet did not quite come up to my mark, as I told you before. She had this saying always in her mouth, that "I had money enough, that it was time I enlarged my housekeeping, and to show a spirit befitting my circumstances." In short, what with her importunities, and my own desires in part co-operating—for, as I said, I was not yet quite twenty-seven—a time when the youthful feelings may be pardoned, if they show a little impetuosity—I resolved, I say, upon all these considerations, to set about the business of courting in right earnest. I was a young man then; and having a spice of romance in my character (as the reader has doubtless observed long ago), such as that sex is apt to be taken with, I had reason in no long time to think my addresses were any thing but disagreeable.

Certainly the happiest part of a young man's life is the time when he is going a courting. All the generous impulses are then awake, and he feels a double existence in participating his hopes and wishes with another being. Return yet again for a brief moment, ye visionary views—transient enchantments! ye moonlight rambles with Cleora in the Silent Walk at Vauxhall—(N.B. about a mile from Birmingham, and resembling the gardens of that name near London, only that the price of admission is lower)—when the nightingale has suspended her notes in June to listen to our loving discourses, while the moon was overhead (for we generally used to take our tea at Cleora's mother's before we set out, not so much to save expenses, as to avoid the publicity of a repast in the gardens, coming in much about the time of half-price, as they call it)—ye soft intercommunions of soul, when exchanging mutual vows we prattled of coming felicities! The loving disputes we have had under those trees, when this house (planning our future settlement) was rejected, because though cheap it was dull; and the other house was given up,[Pg 346] because though agreeably situated it was too high-rented—one was too much in the heart of the town, another was too far from business. These minutiæ will seem impertinent to the aged and the prudent. I write them only to the young. Young lovers, and passionate as being young (such were Cleora and I then) alone can understand me. After some weeks wasted, as I may now call it, in this sort of amorous colloquy, we at length fixed upon the house in the High-street, No. 203, just vacated by the death of Mr. Hutton of this town, for our future residence. I had till that time lived in lodgings (only renting a shop for business) to be near to my mother; near I say, not in the same house with her, for that would have been to introduce confusion into our housekeepings, which it was desirable to keep separate. O, the loving wrangles, the endearing differences, I had with Cleora, before we could quite make up our minds to the house that was to receive us—I pretending for argument sake that the rent was too high, and she insisting that the taxes were moderate in proportion; and love at last reconciling us in the same choice. I think at that time, moderately speaking, she might have had any thing out of me for asking. I do not, nor shall ever regret that my character at that time was marked with a tinge of prodigality. Age comes fast enough upon us, and in its good time will prune away all that is inconvenient in these excesses. Perhaps it is right that it should do so. Matters, as I said, were ripening to a conclusion between us, only the house was yet not absolutely taken—some necessary arrangements, which the ardour of my youthful impetuosity could hardly brook at that time (love and youth will be precipitate)—some preliminary arrangements, I say, with the landlord respecting fixtures—very necessary things to be considered in a young man about to settle in the world, though not very accordant with the impatient state of my then passions—some obstacles about the valuation of the fixtures, had hitherto precluded (and I shall always think providentially) my final closes with his offer, when one of those accidents, which, unimportant in themselves, often arise to give a turn to the most serious intentions of our life, intervened, and put an end at once to my projects of wiving and of housekeeping. I was never much given to theatrical entertainments; that is, at no time of my life was I ever what they call a regular play-goer; but on[Pg 347] some occasion of a benefit-night, which was expected to be very productive, and indeed turned out so, Cleora expressing a desire to be present, I could do no less than offer, as I did very willingly, to 'squire her and her mother to the pit. At that time it was not customary in our town for tradesfolk, except some of the very topping ones, to sit as they now do in the boxes. At the time appointed I waited upon the ladies, who had brought with them a young man, a distant relation, whom it seems they had invited to be of the party. This a little disconcerted me, as I had about me barely silver enough to pay for our three selves at the door, and did not at first know that their relation had proposed paying for himself. However, to do the young man justice, he not only paid for himself, but for the old lady besides, leaving me only to pay for two, as it were. In our passage to the theatre, the notice of Cleora was attracted to some orange wenches that stood about the doors vending their commodities. She was leaning on my arm, and I could feel her every now and then giving me a nudge, as it is called, which I afterwards discovered were hints that I should buy some oranges. It seems it is a custom at Birmingham, and perhaps in other places, when a gentleman treats ladies to the play,—especially when a full night is expected, and that the house will be inconveniently warm, to provide them with this kind of fruit, oranges being esteemed for their cooling property. But how could I guess at that, never having treated ladies to a play before, and being, as I said, quite a novice at these kind of entertainments? At last she spoke plain out, and begged that I would buy some of "those oranges," pointing to a particular barrow. But when I came to examine the fruit, I did not think that the quality of it was answerable to the price. In this way I handled several baskets of them, but something in them all displeased me. Some had thin rinds, and some were plainly over ripe, which is as great a fault as not being ripe enough, and I could not (what they call) make a bargain. While I stood haggling with the women, secretly determining to put off my purchase till I should get within the theatre, where I expected we should have better choice, the young man, the cousin, who it seems had left us without my missing him, came running to us with his pockets stuffed out with oranges, inside and out, as they say. It seems, not liking the look of the barrow[Pg 348] fruit, any more than myself, he had slipped away to an eminent fruiterer's about three doors distant, which I never had the sense to think of, and had laid out a matter of two shillings in some of the best St. Michael's, I think, I ever tasted. What a little hinge, as I said before, the most important affairs in life may turn upon! The mere inadvertence to the fact that there was an eminent fruiterer's within three doors of us, though we had just passed it without the thought once occurring to me, which he had taken advantage of, lost me the affections of my Cleora. From that time she visibly cooled towards me, and her partiality was as visibly transferred to this cousin. I was long unable to account for this change in her behaviour, when one day accidentally discoursing of oranges to my mother alone, she let drop a sort of reproach to me, as if I had offended Cleora by my nearness, as she called it, that evening. Even now, when Cleora has been wedded some years to that same officious relation, as I may call him, I can hardly be persuaded that such a trifle could have been the motive to her inconstancy; for could she suppose that I would sacrifice my dearest hopes in her to the paltry sum of two shillings, when I was going to treat her to the play, and her mother too (an expense of more than four times that amount), if the young man had not interfered to pay for the latter, as I mentioned? But the caprices of the sex are past finding out; and I begin to think my mother was in the right; for doubtless women know women better than we can pretend to know them.


[Pg 349]





To the Editor of the Every-Day Book

Sir,—I am the youngest of Three hundred and sixty-six brethren—there are no fewer of us—who have the honour, in the words of the good old Song, to call the Sun our Dad. You have done the rest of our family the favour of bestowing an especial compliment upon each member of it individually—I mean, as far as you have gone; for it will take you some time before you can make your bow all round—and I have no reason to think that it is your intention to neglect any of us but poor Me. Some you have hung round with flowers; others you have made fine with martyrs' palms and saintly garlands. The most insignificant of us you have sent away pleased with some fitting apologue, or pertinent story. What have I done, that you dismiss me without mark or attribute? What though I make my public appearance seldomer than the rest of my brethren? I thought that angels' visits had been accounted the more precious for their very rarity. Reserve was always looked upon as dignified. I am seen but once, for four times that my brethren obtrude themselves; making their presence cheap and contemptible, in comparison with the state which I keep.

Am I not a Day (when I do come) to all purposes as much as any of them. Decompose me, anatomise me; you will find that I am constituted like the rest. Divide me into twenty-four, and you shall find that I cut up into as many goodly hours (or main limbs) as the rest. I too have my arteries and pulses, which are the minutes and the seconds.

It is hard to be dis-familied thus, like Cinderella in her rags and ashes, while her sisters flaunted it about in cherry-coloured ribbons and favors. My brethren forsooth are to be[Pg 350] dubbed; one, Saint Day; another, Pope Day; a third, Bishop Day; the least of them is Squire Day, or Mr. Day, while I am—plain Day. Our house, Sir, is a very ancient one, and the least of us is too proud to put up with an indignity. What though I am but a younger brother in some sense—for the youngest of my brethren is by some thousand years my senior—yet I bid fair to inherit as long as any of them, while I have the Calendar to show; which, you must understand, is our Title Deeds.

Not content with slurring me over with a bare and naked acknowledgement of my occasional visitation in prose, you have done your best to deprive me of my verse-honours. In column 310 of your Book, you quote an antique scroll, leaving out the last couplet, as if on purpose to affront me. "Thirty days hath September"—so you transcribe very faithfully for four lines, and most invidiously suppress the exceptive clause:—

Except in Leap Year, that's the time
When February's days hath twenty and—

I need not set down the rhyme which should follow; I dare say you know it very well, though you were pleased to leave it out. These indignities demand reparation. While you have time, it will be well for you to make the amende honorable. Ransack your stores, learned Sir, I pray of you, for some attribute, biographical, anecdotical, or floral, to invest me with. Did nobody die, or nobody flourish—was nobody born—upon any of my periodical visits to this globe? does the world stand still as often as I vouchsafe to appear? Am I a blank in the Almanac? alms for oblivion? If you do not find a flower at least to grace me with (a Forget Me Not would cheer me in my present obscurity), I shall prove the worst Day to you you ever saw in your life; and your Work, instead of the Title it now vaunts, must be content (every fourth year at least) to go by the lame appellation of

The Every-Day—but—one—Book.

Yours, as you treat me,

Twenty Ninth of February.

[Pg 351]



To the Editor of the Every-Day Book

Dear Sir,

I read your account of this unfortunate Being, and his forlorn piece of self-history, with that smile of half-interest which the Annals of Insignificance excite, till I came to where he says "I was bound apprentice to Mr. William Bird, an eminent writer and Teacher of languages and Mathematics," &c.—when I started as one does on the recognition of an old acquaintance in a supposed stranger. This then was that Starkey of whom I have heard my Sister relate so many pleasant anecdotes; and whom, never having seen, I yet seem almost to remember. For nearly fifty years she had lost all sight of him—and behold the gentle Usher of her youth, grown into an aged Beggar, dubbed with an opprobrious title, to which he had no pretensions; an object, and a May game! To what base purposes may we not return! What may not have been the meek creature's sufferings—what his wanderings—before he finally settled down in the comparative comfort of an old Hospitaller of the Almonry of Newcastle? And is poor Starkey dead?——

I was a scholar of that "eminent writer" that he speaks of; but Starkey had quitted the school about a year before I came to it. Still the odour of his merits had left a fragrancy upon the recollection of the elder pupils. The school-room stands where it did, looking into a discoloured dingy garden in the passage leading from Fetter Lane into Bartlett's Buildings. It is still a School, though the main prop, alas! has fallen so ingloriously; and bears a Latin inscription over the entrance in the Lane, which was unknown in our humbler times. Heaven knows what "languages" were taught in it then; I am sure that neither my Sister nor myself brought any out of it, but a little of our native English. By "mathematics," reader, must be understood "cyphering." It was in fact a humble day-school, at which reading and writing were taught to us boys in the morning, and the same slender erudition was communicated to the girls, our sisters, &c. in the evening. Now Starkey presided, under Bird, over both[Pg 352] establishments. In my time, Mr. Cook, now or lately a respectable Singer and Performer at Drury-lane Theatre, and Nephew to Mr. Bird, had succeeded to him. I well remember Bird. He was a squat, corpulent, middle-sized man, with something of the gentleman about him, and that peculiar mild tone—especially while he was inflicting punishment—which is so much more terrible to children, than the angriest looks and gestures. Whippings were not frequent; but when they took place, the correction was performed in a private room adjoining, whence we could only hear the plaints, but saw nothing. This heightened the decorum and the solemnity. But the ordinary public chastisement was the bastinado, a stroke or two on the palm with that almost obsolete weapon now—the ferule. A ferule was a sort of flat ruler, widened at the inflicting end into a shape resembling a pear,—but nothing like so sweet—with a delectable hole in the middle, to raise blisters, like a cupping-glass. I have an intense recollection of that disused instrument of torture—and the malignancy, in proportion to the apparent mildness, with which its strokes were applied. The idea of a rod is accompanied with something ludicrous; but by no process can I look back upon this blister-raiser with any thing but unmingled horror.—To make him look more formidable—if a pedagogue had need of these heightenings—Bird wore one of those flowered Indian gowns, formerly in use with schoolmasters; the strange figures upon which we used to interpret into hieroglyphics of pain and suffering. But boyish fears apart—Bird I believe was in the main a humane and judicious master.

O, how I remember our legs wedged in to those uncomfortable sloping desks, where we sat elbowing each other—and the injunctions to attain a free hand, unattainable in that position; the first copy I wrote after, with its moral lesson "Art improves Nature;" the still earlier pothooks and the hangers some traces of which I fear may yet be apparent in this manuscript; the truant looks side-long to the garden, which seemed a mockery of our imprisonment; the prize for best spelling, which had almost turned my head, and which to this day I cannot reflect upon without a vanity, which I ought to be ashamed of—our little leaden inkstands, not separately subsisting, but sunk into the desks; the bright, punctually-washed morning fingers, darkening gradually[Pg 353] with another and another ink-spot: what a world of little associated circumstances, pains and pleasures mingling their quotas of pleasure, arise at the reading of those few simple words—"Mr. William Bird, an eminent Writer and Teacher of languages and mathematics in Fetter Lane, Holborn!"

Poor Starkey, when young, had that peculiar stamp of old-fashionedness in his face, which makes it impossible for a beholder to predicate any particular age in the object. You can scarce make a guess between seventeen and seven and thirty. This antique cast always seems to promise ill-luck and penury. Yet it seems, he was not always the abject thing he came to. My Sister, who well remembers him, can hardly forgive Mr. Thomas Ranson for making an etching so unlike her idea of him, when he was a youthful teacher at Mr. Bird's school. Old age and poverty—a life-long poverty she thinks, could at no time have so effaced the marks of native gentility, which were once so visible in a face, otherwise strikingly ugly, thin, and care-worn. From her recollections of him, she thinks that he would have wanted bread, before he would have begged or borrowed a halfpenny. If any of the girls (she says) who were my school-fellows should be reading, through their aged spectacles, tidings from the dead of their youthful friend Starkey, they will feel a pang, as I do, at ever having teased his gentle spirit. They were big girls, it seems, too old to attend his instructions with the silence necessary; and however old age, and a long state of beggary, seem to have reduced his writing faculties to a state of imbecility, in those days, his language occasionally rose to the bold and figurative, for when he was in despair to stop their chattering, his ordinary phrase was, "Ladies, if you will not hold your peace, not all the powers in heaven can make you." Once he was missing for a day or two; he had run away. A little old unhappy-looking man brought him back—it was his father—and he did no business in the school that day, but sate moping in a corner, with his hands before his face; and the girls, his tormentors, in pity for his case, for the rest of that day forbore to annoy him. I had been there but a few months (adds she) when Starkey, who was the chief instructor of us girls, communicated to us as a profound secret, that the tragedy of "Cato" was shortly to be acted by the elder boys, and that we were to be invited to the representation. That[Pg 354] Starkey lent a helping hand in fashioning the actors, she remembers; and but for his unfortunate person, he might have had some distinguished part in the scene to enact; as it was, he had the arduous task of prompter assigned to him, and his feeble voice was heard clear and distinct, repeating the text during the whole performance. She describes her recollection of the cast of characters even now with a relish. Martia, by the handsome Edgar Hickman, who afterwards went to Africa, and of whom she never afterwards heard tidings,—Lucia, by Master Walker, whose sister was her particular friend; Cato, by John Hunter, a masterly declaimer, but a plain boy, and shorter by the head than his two sons in the scene, &c. In conclusion, Starkey appears to have been one of those mild spirits, which, not originally deficient in understanding, are crushed by penury into dejection and feebleness. He might have proved a useful adjunct, if not an ornament to Society, if Fortune had taken him into a very little fostering, but wanting that, he became a Captain—a by-word—and lived, and died, a broken bulrush.

C. L.



To the Editor of the Every-Day Book

The Humble Petition of an Unfortunate Day


I am a wronged Day. I appeal to you as the general patron of the family of the Days. The candour with which you attended to the expostulations of a poor relative of ours—a sort of cousin thrice removed[53]—encourages me to hope that you will listen to the complaint of a Day of rather more consequence. I am the Day, Sir, upon which it pleased the course of nature that your gracious Sovereign should be born. As such, before his Accession, I was always observed and honoured. But since that happy event, in which naturally none had a greater interest than myself, a flaw has been dis[Pg 355]covered in my title. My lustre has been eclipsed, and—to use the words of one of your own poets,—

I fade into the light of common day.

[53] Twenty-ninth day of February [see page 349].

It seems, that about that time, an Impostor crept into Court, who has the effrontery to usurp my honours, and to style herself the King's-birth-Day, upon some shallow pretence that, being St. George's-Day, she must needs be King-George's-Day also. All-Saints-Day we have heard of, and All-Souls-Day we are willing to admit; but does it follow that this foolish Twenty-third of April must be All-George's-Day, and enjoy a monopoly of the whole name from George of Cappadocia to George of Leyden, and from George-a-Green down to George Dyer?

It looks a little oddly that I was discarded not long after the dismission of a set of men and measures, with whom I have nothing in common. I hope no whisperer has insinuated into the ears of Royalty, as if I were any thing Whiggishly inclined, when, in my heart, I abhor all these kind of Revolutions, by which I am sure to be the greatest sufferer.

I wonder my shameless Rival can have the face to let the Tower and Park Guns proclaim so many big thundering fibs as they do, upon her Anniversary—making your Sovereign too to be older than he is, by an hundred and odd days, which is no great compliment one would think. Consider if this precedent for ante-dating of Births should become general, what confusion it must make in Parish Registers; what crowds of young heirs we should have coming of age before they are one-and-twenty, with numberless similar grievances. If these chops and changes are suffered, we shall have Lord-Mayor's-Day eating her custard unauthentically in May, and Guy Faux preposterously blazing twice over in the Dog-days.

I humbly submit, that it is not within the prerogatives of Royalty itself, to be born twice over. We have read of the supposititious births of Princes, but where are the evidences of this first Birth? why are not the nurses in attendance, the midwife, &c. produced?—the silly story has not so much as a Warming Pan to support it.

My legal advisers, to comfort me, tell me that I have the right on my side; that I am the true Birth-Day, and the other Day is only kept. But what consolation is this to me, as long[Pg 356] as this naughty-kept creature keeps me out of my dues and privileges?

Pray take my unfortunate case into your consideration, and see that I am restored to my lawful Rejoicings, Firings, Bon-Firings, Illuminations, &c.

And your Petitioner shall ever pray,

Twelfth Day of August.



For Hone's Every-Day Book

Mr. Collier, in his "Poetical Decameron" (Third Conversation) notices a Tract, printed in 1595, with the author's initials only, A. B., entitled "The Noblenesse of the Asse: a work rare, learned, and excellent." He has selected the following pretty passage from it. "He (the Ass) refuseth no burthen, he goes whither he is sent without any contradiction. He lifts not his foote against any one; he bytes not; he is no fugitive, nor malicious affected. He doth all things in good sort, and to his liking that hath cause to employ him. If strokes be given him, he cares not for them; and, as our modern poet singeth,

'Thou wouldst (perhaps) he should become thy foe,
And to that end dost beat him many times;
He cares not for himselfe, much lesse thy blow.'"[54]

[54] Who this modern poet was, says Mr. C., is a secret worth discovering.—The wood-cut on the title of the Pamphlet is—an Ass with a wreath of laurel round his neck.

Certainly Nature, foreseeing the cruel usage which this useful servant to man should receive at man's hand, did prudently in furnishing him with a tegument impervious to ordinary stripes. The malice of a child, or a weak hand, can make feeble impressions on him. His back offers no mark to a puny foeman. To a common whip or switch his hide presents an absolute insensibility. You might as well pretend to scourge a school-boy with a tough pair of leather breeches on. His jerkin is well fortified. And therefore the Costermongers "between the years 1790 and 1800" did more politicly than piously in lifting up a part of his upper garment.[Pg 357] I well remember that beastly and bloody custom. I have often longed to see one of those refiners in discipline himself at the cart's tail, with just such a convenient spot laid bare to the tender mercies of the whipster. But since Nature has resumed her rights, it is to be hoped, that this patient creature does not suffer to extremities; and that to the savages who still belabour his poor carcase with their blows (considering the sort of anvil they are laid upon) he might in some sort, if he could speak, exclaim with the philosopher, "Lay on: you beat but upon the case of Anaxarchus."

Contemplating this natural safeguard, this fortified exterior, it is with pain I view the sleek, foppish, combed and curried, person of this animal, as he is transmuted and disnaturalized at Watering Places, &c. where they affect to make a palfrey of him. Fie on all such sophistications!—It will never do, Master Groom. Something of his honest shaggy exterior will still peep up in spite of you—his good, rough, native, pineapple coating. You cannot "refine a scorpion into a fish, though you rince it and scour it with ever so cleanly cookery."[55]

[55] Milton: from memory.

The modern poet, quoted by A. B., proceeds to celebrate a virtue, for which no one to this day had been aware that the Ass was remarkable.

One other gift this beast hath as his owne,
Wherewith the rest could not be furnished;
On man himselfe the same was not bestowne,
To wit—on him is ne'er engendered
The hatefull vermine that doth teare the skin
And to the bode [body] doth make his passage in.

And truly when one thinks on the suit of impenetrable armour with which Nature (like Vulcan to another Achilles) has provided him, these subtle enemies to our repose, would have shown some dexterity in getting into his quarters. As the bogs of Ireland by tradition expel toads and reptiles, he may well defy these small deer in his fastnesses. It seems the latter had not arrived at the exquisite policy adopted by the human vermin "between 1790 and 1800."

But the most singular and delightful gift of the Ass, according to the writer of this pamphlet, is his voice; the "goodly, sweet, and continual brayings" of which, "whereof they forme a melodious and proportionable kinde of musicke," seem to have affected him with no ordinary pleasure. "Nor[Pg 358] thinke I," he adds, "that any of our immoderne musitians can deny, but that their song is full of exceeding pleasure to be heard; because therein is to be discerned both concord, discord, singing in the meane, the beginning to sing in large compasse, then following on to rise and fall, the halfe note, whole note, musicke of five voices, firme singing by four voices, three together or one voice and a halfe. Then their variable contrarieties amongst them, when one delivers forth a long tenor, or a short, the pausing for time, breathing in measure, breaking the minim or very least moment of time. Last of all to heare the musicke of five or six voices chaunged to so many of Asses, is amongst them to heare a song of world without end."

There is no accounting for ears; or for that laudable enthusiasm with which an Author is tempted to invest a favourite subject with the most incompatible perfections. I should otherwise, for my own taste, have been inclined rather to have given a place to these extraordinary musicians at that banquet of nothing-less-than-sweet-sounds, imagined by old Jeremy Collier (Essays, 1698; Part. 2.—On Music.) where, after describing the inspirating effects of martial music in a battle, he hazards an ingenious conjecture, whether a sort of Anti-music might not be invented, which should have quite the contrary effect of "sinking the spirits, shaking the nerves, curdling the blood, and inspiring despair, and cowardice and consternation." "Tis probable" he says, "the roaring of lions, the warbling of cats and screech-owls, together with a mixture of the howling of dogs, judiciously imitated and compounded, might go a great way in this invention." The dose, we confess, is pretty potent, and skilfully enough prepared. But what shall we say to the Ass of Silenus (quoted by Tims), who, if we may trust to classic lore, by his own proper sounds, without thanks to cat or screech-owl, dismaid and put to rout a whole army of giants? Here was Anti-music with a vengeance; a whole Pan-Dis-Harmonicon in a single lungs of leather!

But I keep you trifling too long on this Asinine subject. I have already past the Pons Asinorum, and will desist, remembering the old pedantic pun of Jem Boyer, my schoolmaster:—

Ass in præsenti seldom makes a WISE MAN in futuro.

C. L.

[Pg 359]



For the Every-Day Book

What is gone with the Cages with the climbing Squirrel and bells to them, which were formerly the indispensable appendage to the outside of a Tinman's shop, and were in fact the only Live Signs? One, we believe, still hangs out on Holborn; but they are fast vanishing with the good old modes of our ancestors. They seem to have been superseded by that still more ingenious refinement of modern humanity—the Tread-mill; in which human Squirrels still perform a similar round of ceaseless, improgressive clambering; which must be nuts to them.

We almost doubt the fact of the teeth of this creature being so purely orange-coloured, as Mr. Urban's correspondent gives out. One of our old poets—and they were pretty sharp observers of nature—describes them as brown. But perhaps the naturalist referred to meant "of the colour of the Maltese orange,"[56] which is rather more obfuscated than your fruit of Seville, or Saint Michael's; and may help to reconcile the difference. We cannot speak from observation, but we remember at school getting our fingers into the orangery of one of these little gentry (not having a due caution of the traps set there), and the result proved sourer than lemons. The Author of the Task somewhere speaks of their anger as being "insignificantly fierce," but we found the demonstration of it on this occasion quite as significant as we desired; and have not been disposed since to look any of these "gift horses" in the mouth. Maiden aunts keep these "small deer" as they do parrots, to bite people's fingers, on purpose to give them good advice "not to venture so near the cage another time." As for their "six quavers divided into three quavers and a dotted crotchet," I suppose, they may go into Jeremy Bentham's next budget of Fallacies, along with the "melodious[Pg 360] and proportionable kinde of musicke," recorded in your last number of another highly gifted animal [see page 358].

C. L.

[56] Fletcher in the "Faithful Shepherdess."—The Satyr offers to Clorin,

—grapes whose lusty blood
Is the learned Poet's good,
Sweeter yet did never crown
The head of Bacchus; nuts more brown
Than the squirrels' teeth that crack them.——



Apology will scarcely be required for introducing a character, who at this season of the year comes forth in renovated honours, and may aptly be termed one of its ever-blues—not a peculiar of either Farringdons, nor him of Cripplegate, or St. Giles in the Fields, or of any ward or precinct within the bills: not this or that "good man"—but the universal parish beadle. "How Christmas and consolatory he looks! how redolent of good cheer is he! He is a cornucopia—an abundance. What pudding sleeves!—what a collar, red, and like a beef steak, is his! He is a walking refreshment! He looks like a whole parish, full, important—but untaxed. The children of charity gaze at him with a modest smile. The straggling boys look on him with confidence. They do not pocket their marbles. They do not fly from their familiar gutter. This is a red letter day; and the cane is reserved for to-morrow."

For the pleasant verbal description we are indebted to an agreeable writer in the "London Magazine;"[57] his corporal lineaments are "borrowed" (with permission) from a new caricature,[58] if it may be given so low a name, wherein this figure stands out, the very gem and jewel, in a grouping of characters of all sorts and denominations assembled with "infinite fancy" and "fun," to illustrate the designer's views of the age. It is a graphic satire of character rather than caricatura; mostly of class-characters, not persons; wherein the ridicule bears heavily, but is broad and comprehensive enough to shift from one neighbour to another.

[57] For Dec., 1822.

[58] The Progress of Cant; designed and etched by one of the authors of "Odes and Addresses to Great People;" and published by T. Maclean, Haymarket, L. Relfe, Cornhill; and Dickenson, New Bond-Street.

[Pg 361]



For the Every-Day Book

Rummaging over the contents of an old stall at a half book, half old iron shop, in an alley leading from Wardour-street to Soho-square yesterday, I lit upon a ragged duodecimo, which had been the strange delight of my infancy, and which I had lost sight of for more than forty years:—the "Queen-like Closet, or Rich Cabinet:" written by Hannah Woolly, and printed for R. C. & T. S. 1681; being an abstract of receipts in cookery, confectionary, cosmetics, needlework, morality, and all such branches of what were then considered as female accomplishments. The price demanded was sixpence, which the owner (a little squab duodecimo of a character himself) enforced with the assurance that his "own mother should not have it for a farthing less." On my demurring at this extraordinary assertion, the dirty little vendor reinforced his assertion with a sort of oath, which seemed more than the occasion demanded: "and now (said he) I have put my soul to it." Pressed by so solemn an asseveration, I could no longer resist a demand which seemed to set me, however unworthy, upon a level with his dearest relations; and depositing a tester, I bore away the tattered prize in triumph. I remembered a gorgeous description of the twelve months of the year, which I thought would be a fine substitute for those poetical descriptions of them which your Every-Day Book had nearly exhausted out of Spenser. This will be a treat, thought I, for friend Hone. To memory they seemed no less fantastic and splendid than the other. But, what are the mistakes of childhood!—on reviewing them, they turned out to be only a set of common-place receipts for working the seasons, months, heathen gods and goddesses, &c. in samplars! Yet as an instance of the homely occupations of our great-grandmothers, they may be amusing to some readers: "I have seen," says the notable Hannah Woolly, "such Ridiculous things done in work, as it is an abomination to any Artist to behold. As for Example: You may find in some Pieces, Abraham and Sarah, and many other Persons of Old time, Cloathed, as they go now[Pg 362] a-daies, and truly sometimes worse; for they most resemble the Pictures on Ballads. Let all Ingenious Women have regard, that when they work any Image, to represent it aright. First, let it be Drawn well, and then observe the Directions which are given by Knowing Men. I do assure you, I never durst work any Scripture-Story without informing my self from the Ground of it: nor any other Story, or single Person, without informing my self both of the Visage and Habit; As followeth.

"If you work Jupiter, the Imperial feigned god, He must have long Black-Curled-hair, a Purple Garment trimmed with Gold, and sitting upon a Golden Throne, with bright yellow Clouds about him."

The Twelve Months of the Year


Is drawn in Tawny, with a fierce aspect, a Helmet upon his head, and leaning on a Spade, and a Basket of Garden Seeds in his Left hand, and in his Right hand the Sign of Aries; And Winged.


A Young Man in Green, with a Garland of Mirtle, and Hawthorn-Buds; Winged; in one hand Primroses and Violets, in the other the Sign Taurus.


With a sweet and lovely Countenance, clad in a Robe of White and Green, embroidered with several Flowers, upon his Head a garland of all manner of Roses; on the one hand a Nightingale, in the other a Lute. His Sign must be Gemini.


In a Mantle of dark Grass-green, upon his Head a garland of Bents, Kings-Cups, and Maiden-hair; in his Left hand an Angle, with a box of Cantharides, in his Right, the Sign Cancer, and upon his arms a Basket of seasonable Fruits.

[Pg 363]


In a Jacket of light Yellow, eating Cherries; with his Face and Bosom Sun-burnt; on his Head a wreath of Centaury and wild Tyme; a Seith on his shoulder, and a Bottle at his girdle: carrying the Sign Leo.


A Young Man of fierce and Cholerick aspect, in a Flame-coloured Garment; upon his Head a garland of Wheat and Rye, upon his Arm a Basket of all manner of ripe Fruits, at his Belt a Sickle. His Sign Virgo.


A merry and cheerful Countenance, in a Purple Robe, upon his Head a Wreath of red and white Grapes, in his Left hand a handful of Oats, withal carrying a Horn of Plenty, full of all manner of ripe-Fruits, in his Right hand the Sign Libra.


In a Garment of Yellow and Carnation, upon his head a garland of Oak-leaves with Akorns, in his Right hand the Sign Scorpio, in his Left hand a Basket of Medlars, Services, and Chesnuts; and any other Fruits then in Season.


In a Garment of Changeable Green and Black upon his Head, a garland of Olives with the Fruit in his Left hand, Bunches of Parsnips and Turnips in his Right. His Sign Sagittarius.


A horrid and fearful aspect, clad in Irish-Rags, or coarse Freez girt unto him, upon his Head three or four Night-Caps, and over them a Turkish Turbant; his Nose red, his Mouth and Beard clog'd with Isicles, at his back a bundle of Holly, Ivy or Misletoe, holding in fur'd Mittens the Sign of Capricornus.


Clad all in White, as the Earth looks with the Snow, blowing his Nails; in his Left Arm a Billet, the Sign Aquarius standing by his side.

[Pg 364]


Cloathed in a dark Skie-colour, carrying in his Right hand the Sign Pisces.

The following receipt, "To dress up a Chimney very fine for the Summer time, as I have done many, and they have been liked very well" may not be unprofitable to the house-wives of this century.

"First, take a pack-thred, and fasten it even to the inner part of the Chimney, so high as that you can see no higher as you walk up and down the House; you must drive in several Nails to hold up all your work; then get good store of old green Moss from Trees, and melt an equal proportion of Bees-wax and Rosin together, and while it is hot, dip the wrong ends of the Moss in it, and presently clap it upon your pack-thred, and press it down hard with your hand; you must make hast, else it will cool before you can fasten it, and then it will fall down; do so all round where the pack-thred goes, and the next row you must joyn to that so that it may seem all in one; thus do till you have finished it down to the bottom: then take some other kind of Moss, of a whitish-colour and stiff, and of several sorts or kinds, and place that upon the other, here and there carelessly, and in some places put a good deal, and some a little; then any kind of fine Snail-shells, in which the Snails are dead, and little Toad stools, which are very old, and look like Velvet, or any other thing that is old and pretty; place it here and there as your fancy serves, and fasten all with Wax and Rosin. Then for the Hearth of your Chimney, you may lay some Orpan-Sprigs in order all over, and it will grow as it lies; and according to the Season, get what flowers you can, and stick in as if they grew, and a few sprigs of Sweet-Bryer: the Flowers you must renew every Week; but the Moss will last all the Summer, till it will be time to make a fire; and the Orpan will last near two Months. A Chimney thus done doth grace a Room exceedingly."

One phrase in the above should particularly recommend it to such of your female readers, as, in the nice language of the day, have done growing some time: "little toad stools, &c. and any thing that is old and pretty." Was ever antiquity so smoothed over? The culinary recipes have nothing remarkable in them, besides the costliness of them. Every[Pg 365] thing (to the meanest meats) is sopped in claret, steeped in claret, basted with claret, as if claret were as cheap as ditch water. I remember Bacon recommends opening a turf or two in your garden-walks, and pouring into each a bottle of claret, to recreate the sense of smelling, being no less grateful than beneficial. We hope the chancellor of the exchequer will attend to this in his next reduction of French wines, that we may once more water our gardens with right Bordeaux. The medical recipes are as whimsical as they are cruel. Our ancestors were not at all effeminate on this head. Modern sentimentalists would shrink at a cock plucked and bruised in a mortar alive, to make a cullis; or a live mole baked in an oven (be sure it be alive) to make a powder for consumption.—But the whimsicalest of all are the directions to servants—(for this little book is a compendium of all duties,)—the footman is seriously admonished not to stand lolling against his master's chair, while he waits at table; for "to lean on a Chair when they wait, is a particular favour shown to any superior Servant, as the Chief Gentleman, or the Waiting Woman when she rises from the Table." Also he must not "hold the Plates before his mouth to be defiled with his Breath, nor touch them on the right (inner) side." Surely Swift must have seen this little treatise.

C. L.

Hannah concludes with the following address, by which the self-estimate which she formed of her usefulness, may be calculated:—

Ladies, I hope you're pleas'd, and so shall I,
If what I've Writ, you may be gainers by:
If not; it is your fault, it is not mine,
Your benefit in this I do design.
Much labour and much time it hath me cost,
Therefore I beg, let none of it be lost.
The Mony you shall pay for this my Book,
You'l not repent of, when in it you look.
No more at present to you I shall say,
But wish you all the happiness I may.

H. W.

[Pg 366]



To the Editor of the Every-Day Book

To your account of sir Jeffery Dunstan in columns 829-30 (where, by an unfortunate Erratum the effigies of two Sir Jefferys appear, when the uppermost figure is clearly meant for sir Harry Dimsdale) you may add, that the writer of this has frequently met him in his latter days, about 1790 or 1791, returning in an evening, after his long day's itinerancy, to his domicile—a wretched shed in the most beggarly purlieu of Bethnal Green, a little on this side the Mile-end Turnpike. The lower figure in that leaf most correctly describes his then appearance, except that no graphic art can convey an idea of the general squalor of it, and of his bag (his constant concomitant) in particular. Whether it contained "old wigs" at that time I know not, but it seemed a fitter repository for bones snatched out of kennels, than for any part of a Gentleman's dress even at second hand.

The Ex-member for Garrat was a melancholy instance of a great man whose popularity is worn out. He still carried his sack, but it seemed a part of his identity rather than an implement of his profession; a badge of past grandeur; could any thing have divested him of that, he would have shown a "poor forked animal" indeed. My life upon it, it contained no curls at the time I speak of. The most decayed and spiritless remnants of what was once a peruke would have scorned the filthy case; would absolutely have "burst its cearments." No, it was empty, or brought home bones, or a few cinders possibly. A strong odour of burnt bones, I remember, blended with the scent of horse-flesh seething into dog's meat, and only relieved a little by the breathings of a few brick kilns, made up the atmosphere of the delicate suburban spot, which this great man had chosen for the last scene of his earthly vanities. The cry of "old wigs" had ceased with the possession of any such fripperies; his sack might have contained not unaptly a little mould to scatter upon that grave, to which he was now advancing; but it told[Pg 367] of vacancy and desolation. His quips were silent too, and his brain was empty as his sack; he slank along, and seemed to decline popular observation. If a few boys followed him, it seemed rather from habit, than any expectation of fun.

Alas! how changed from him,
The life of humour, and the soul of whim,
Gallant and gay on Garrat's hustings proud.

But it is thus that the world rewards its favourites in decay. What faults he had, I know not. I have heard something of a peccadillo or so. But some little deviation from the precise line of rectitude, might have been winked at in so tortuous and stigmatic a frame. Poor Sir Jeffery! it were well if some M.P.'s in earnest had passed their parliamentary existence with no more offences against integrity, than could be laid to thy charge! A fair dismissal was thy due, not so unkind a degradation; some little snug retreat, with a bit of green before thine eyes, and not a burial alive in the fetid beggaries of Bethnal. Thou wouldst have ended thy days in a manner more appropriate to thy pristine dignity, installed in munificent mockery (as in mock honours you had lived)—a Poor Knight of Windsor!

Every distinct place of public speaking demands an oratory peculiar to itself. The forensic fails within the walls of St. Stephen. Sir Jeffery was a living instance of this, for in the flower of his popularity an attempt was made to bring him out upon the stage (at which of the winter theatres I forget, but I well remember the anecdote) in the part of Doctor Last. The announcement drew a crowded house; but notwithstanding infinite tutoring—by Foote, or Garrick, I forget which—when the curtain drew up, the heart of Sir Jeffery failed, and he faultered on, and made nothing of his part, till the hisses of the house at last in very kindness dismissed him from the boards. Great as his parliamentary eloquence had shown itself; brilliantly as his off-hand sallies had sparkled on a hustings; they here totally failed him. Perhaps he had an aversion to borrowed wit; and, like my Lord Foppington, disdained to entertain himself (or others) with the forced products of another man's brain. Your man of quality is more diverted with the natural sprouts of his own.

C. L.

[Pg 368]



Then Mrs. Gilpin sweetly said
Unto her children three,
"I'll clamber o'er this style so high,
And you climb after me."
But having climb'd unto the top,
She could no further go,
But sate, to every passer by
A spectacle and show.
Who said "Your spouse and you this day
Both show your horsemanship,
And if you stay till he comes back,
Your horse will need no whip."

The sketch, here engraved, (probably from the poet's friend Romney,) was found with the above three stanzas in the hand-writing of Cowper, among the papers of the late Mrs. Unwin. It is to be regretted that no more was found of this little[Pg 369] Episode, as it evidently was intended to be, to the "Diverting History of Johnny Gilpin." It is to be supposed that Mrs. Gilpin, in the interval between dinner and tea, finding the time to hang upon her hands, during her husband's involuntary excursion, rambled out with the children into the fields at the back of the Bell, (as what could be more natural?) and at one of those high aukward styles, for which Edmonton is so proverbially famed, the embarrassment represented, so mortifying to a substantial City Madam, might have happened; a predicament, which leaves her in a state, which is the very Antipodes to that of her too loco-motive husband; in fact she rides a restive horse.—Now I talk of Edmonton styles, I must speak a little about those of Enfield, its next neighbour, which are so ingeniously contrived—every rising bar to the top becoming more protuberant than the one under it—that it is impossible for any Christian climber to get over, without bruising his (or her) shins as many times as there are bars. These inhospitable invitations to a flayed skin, are planted so thickly too, and are so troublesomely importunate at every little paddock here, that this, with more propriety than Thebes of old, might be entitled Hecatompolis: the Town of the Hundred Gates, or styles.

A Sojourner at Enfield.

July 16, 1827.


or, A Tale of the Fairies


Titania, and her moonlight Elves, were assembled under the canopy of a huge oak, that served to shelter them from the moon's radiance, which, being now at her full noon, shot forth intolerable rays—intolerable, I mean, to the subtil texture of their little shadowy bodies—but dispensing an agreeable coolness to us grosser mortals. An air of discomfort sate upon the Queen, and upon her Courtiers. Their tiny friskings and gambols were forgot; and even Robin Goodfellow, for the first time in his little airy life, looked grave. For the Queen had had melancholy forebodings of late, founded upon an ancient Prophecy, laid up in the records of Fairy Land, that the date[Pg 370] of Fairy existence should be then extinct, when men should cease to believe in them. And she knew how that the race of the Nymphs, which were her predecessors, and had been the Guardians of the sacred floods, and of the silver fountains, and of the consecrated hills and woods, had utterly disappeared before the chilling touch of man's incredulity; and she sighed bitterly at the approaching fate of herself and of her subjects, which was dependent upon so fickle a lease, as the capricious and ever mutable faith of man. When, as if to realise her fears, a melancholy shape came gliding in, and that was—Time, who with his intolerable scythe mows down Kings and Kingdoms; at whose dread approach the Fays huddled together, as a flock of timorous sheep, and the most courageous among them crept into acorn cups, not enduring the sight of that ancientest of Monarchs. Titania's first impulse was to wish the presence of her false Lord, King Oberon, who was far away, in the pursuit of a strange Beauty, a Fay of Indian Land—that with his good lance and sword, like a faithful knight and husband, he might defend her against Time. But she soon checked that thought as vain, for what could the prowess of the mighty Oberon himself, albeit the stoutest Champion in Fairy Land, have availed against so huge a Giant, whose bald top touched the skies. So in the mildest tone she besought the Spectre, that in his mercy he would overlook, and pass by, her small subjects, as too diminutive and powerless to add any worthy trophy to his renown. As she besought him to employ his resistless strength against the ambitious Children of Men, and to lay waste their aspiring works, to tumble down their towers and turrets, and the Babels of their pride, fit objects of his devouring Scythe, but to spare her and her harmless race, who had no existence beyond a dream; frail objects of a creed; that lived but in the faith of the believer. And with her little arms, as well as she could, she grasped the stern knees of TIME, and waxing speechless with fear, she beckoned to her chief attendants, and Maids of Honour, to come forth from their hiding places, and to plead the Plea of the Fairies. And one of those small delicate creatures came forth at her bidding, clad all in white like a Chorister, and in a low melodious tone, not louder than the hum of a pretty bee—when it seems to be demurring whether it shall settle upon this sweet flower or that, before it settles—set forth her humble Petition. "We Fairies," she said, "are the most inoffensive race that[Pg 371] live, and least deserving to perish. It is we that have the care of all sweet melodies, that no discords may offend the Sun, who is the great Soul of Music. We rouse the lark at morn; and the pretty Echos, which respond to all the twittering quire, are of our making. Wherefore, great King of Years, as ever you have loved the music which is raining from a morning cloud, sent from the messenger of day, the Lark, as he mounts to Heaven's gate, beyond the ken of mortals; or if ever you have listened with a charmed ear to the Night Bird, that

in the flowery spring,
Amidst the leaves set, makes the thickets ring
Of her sour sorrows, sweeten'd with her song:

spare our tender tribes; and we will muffle up the sheep-bell for thee, that thy pleasure take no interruption, whenever thou shall listen unto Philomel."

And Time answered, that "he had heard that song too long; and he was even wearied with that ancient strain, that recorded the wrongs of Tereus. But if she would know in what music Time delighted, it was, when sleep and darkness lay upon crowded cities, to hark to the midnight chime, which is tolling from a hundred clocks, like the last knell over the soul of a dead world; or to the crush of the fall of some age-worn edifice, which is as the voice of himself when he disparteth kingdoms."

A second female Fay took up the Plea, and said, "We be the handmaids of the Spring, and tend upon the birth of all sweet buds; and the pastoral cowslips are our friends, and the pansies; and the violets, like nuns; and the quaking hare-bell is in our wardship; and the Hyacinth, once a fair youth, and dear to Phœbus."

Then TIME made answer, in his wrath striking the harmless ground with his hurtful scythe, that "they must not think that he was one that cared for flowers, except to see them wither, and to take her beauty from the rose."

And a third Fairy took up the Plea, and said, "We are kindly Things; and it is we that sit at evening, and shake rich odours from sweet bowers upon discoursing lovers, that seem to each other to be their own sighs; and we keep off the bat, and the owl, from their privacy, and the ill-boding whistler; and we flit in sweet dreams across the brains of infancy, and conjure up a smile upon its soft lips to beguile[Pg 372] the careful mother, while its little soul is fled for a brief minute or two to sport with our youngest Fairies."

Then Saturn (which is Time) made answer, that "they should not think that he delighted in tender Babes, that had devoured his own, till foolish Rhea cheated him with a Stone, which he swallowed, thinking it to be the infant Jupiter." And thereat in token he disclosed to view his enormous tooth, in which appeared monstrous dints, left by that unnatural meal; and his great throat, that seemed capable of devouring up the earth and all its inhabitants at one meal. "And for Lovers," he continued, "my delight is, with a hurrying hand to snatch them away from their love-meetings by stealth at nights, and to ravish away hours from them like minutes whilst they are together, and in absence to stand like a motionless statue, or their leaden Planet of mishap (whence I had my name), till I make their minutes seem ages."

Next stood up a male fairy, clad all in green, like a forester, or one of Robin Hood's mates, and doffing his tiny cap, said, "We are small foresters, that live in woods, training the young boughs in graceful intricacies, with blue snatches of the sky between; we frame all shady roofs and arches rude; and sometimes, when we are plying our tender hatches, men say, that the tapping wood-pecker is nigh: and it is we that scoop the hollow cell of the squirrel; and carve quaint letters upon the rinds of trees, which in sylvan solitudes sweetly recall to the mind of the heat-oppressed swain, ere he lies down to slumber, the name of his Fair One, Dainty Aminta, Gentle Rosalind, or Chastest Laura, as it may happen."

Saturn, nothing moved with this courteous address, bade him be gone, or "if he would be a woodman, to go forth, and fell oak for the Fairies' coffins, which would forthwith be wanting. For himself, he took no delight in haunting the woods, till their golden plumage (the yellow leaves) were beginning to fall, and leave the brown black limbs bare, like Nature in her skeleton dress."

Then stood up one of those gentle Fairies, that are good to Man, and blushed red as any rose, while he told a modest story of one of his own good deeds. "It chanced upon a time," he said, "that while we were looking cowslips in the meads, while yet the dew was hanging on the buds, like beads, we found a babe left in its swathing clothes—a little[Pg 373] sorrowful deserted Thing; begot of Love, but begetting no love in others; guiltless of shame, but doomed to shame for its parents' offence in bringing it by indirect courses into the world. It was pity to see the abandoned little orphan, left to the world's care by an unnatural mother, how the cold dew kept wetting its childish coats; and its little hair, how it was bedabbled, that was like gossamer. Its pouting mouth, unknowing how to speak, lay half opened like a rose-lipt shell, and its cheek was softer than any peach, upon which the tears, for very roundness, could not long dwell, but fell off, in clearness like pearls, some on the grass, and some on his little hand, and some haply wandered to the little dimpled well under his mouth, which Love himself seemed to have planned out, but less for tears than for smilings. Pity it was, too, to see how the burning sun scorched its helpless limbs, for it lay without shade, or shelter, or mother's breast, for foul weather or fair. So having compassion on its sad plight, my fellows and I turned ourselves into grasshoppers, and swarmed about the babe, making such shrill cries, as that pretty little chirping creature makes in its mirth, till with our noise we attracted the attention of a passing rustic, a tender-hearted hind, who wondering at our small but loud concert, strayed aside curiously, and found the babe, where it lay on the remote grass, and taking it up, lapt it in his russet coat, and bore it to his cottage, where his wife kindly nurtured it, till it grew up a goodly personage. How this Babe prospered afterwards, let proud London tell. This was that famous Sir Thomas Gresham, who was the chiefest of her Merchants, the richest, the wisest. Witness his many goodly vessels on the Thames, freighted with costly merchandise, jewels from Ind, and pearls for courtly dames, and silks of Samarcand. And witness more than all, that stately Bourse (or Exchange) which he caused to be built, a mart for merchants from East and West, whose graceful summit still bears, in token of the Fairies' favours, his chosen crest, the Grasshopper. And, like the Grasshopper, may it please you, great King, to suffer us also to live, partakers of the green earth!"

The Fairy had scarce ended his Plea, when a shrill cry, not unlike the Grasshopper's, was heard. Poor Puck—or Robin Goodfellow, as he is sometimes called—had recovered a little from his first fright, and in one of his mad freaks had[Pg 374] perched upon the beard of old Time, which was flowing, ample, and majestic, and was amusing himself with plucking at a hair, which was indeed so massy, that it seemed to him that he was removing some huge beam of timber rather than a hair; which Time by some ill chance perceiving, snatched up the Impish Mischief with his great hand, and asked "What it was?"

"Alas!" quoth Puck, "A little random Elf am I, born in one of Nature's sports, a very weed, created for the simple sweet enjoyment of myself, but for no other purpose, worth, or need, that ever I could learn. 'Tis I, that bob the Angler's idle cork, till the patient man is ready to breathe a curse. I steal the morsel from the Gossip's fork, or stop the sneezing Chanter in mid Psalm; and when an infant has been born with hard or homely features, mothers say, that I changed the child at nurse; but to fulfil any graver purpose I have not wit enough, and hardly the will. I am a pinch of lively dust to frisk upon the wind, a tear would make a puddle of me, and so I tickle myself with the lightest straw, and shun all griefs that might make me stagnant. This is my small philosophy."

Then Time, dropping him on the ground, as a thing too inconsiderable for his vengeance, grasped fast his mighty Scythe; and now not Puck alone, but the whole State of Fairies had gone to inevitable wreck and destruction, had not a timely Apparition interposed, at whose boldness Time was astounded, for he came not with the habit, or the forces, of a Deity, who alone might cope with Time, but as a simple Mortal, clad as you might see a Forester, that hunts after wild coneys by the cold moonshine; or a Stalker of stray deer, stealthy and bold. But by the golden lustre in his eye, and the passionate wanness in his cheek, and by the fair and ample space of his forehood [forehead], which seemed a palace framed for the habitation of all glorious thoughts, he knew that this was his great Rival, who had power given him to rescue whatsoever victims Time should clutch, and to cause them to live for ever in his immortal verse. And muttering the name of Shakspeare, Time spread his Roc-like wings, and fled the controuling presence. And the liberated Court of the Fairies, with Titania at their head, flocked around the gentle Ghost, giving him thanks, nodding to him, and doing him curtesies, who had crowned them[Pg 375] henceforth with a permanent existence, to live in the minds of men, while verse shall have power to charm, or Midsummer moons shall brighten.

What particular endearments passed between the Fairies and their Poet, passes my pencil to delineate; but if you are curious to be informed, I must refer you, gentle reader, to the "Plea of the [Midsummer] Fairies," a most agreeable Poem, lately put forth by my friend, Thomas Hood: of the first half of which the above is nothing but a meagre, and a harsh, prose-abstract. Farewell.


The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo.



Charles Lamb born in the Inner Temple 10 Feb. 1775 educated in Christ's Hospital afterwards a clerk in the Accountants office East India House pensioned off from that service 1825 after 33 years service, is now a Gentleman at large, can remember few specialities in his life worth noting except that he once caught a swallow flying (teste suâ manu); below the middle stature, cast of face slightly Jewish, with no Judaic tinge in his complexional religion; stammers abominably and is therefore more apt to discharge his occasional conversation in a quaint aphorism or a poor quibble than in set and edifying speeches; has consequently been libelled as a person always aiming at wit, which, as he told a dull fellow that charged him with it, is at least as good as aiming at dulness; a small eater but not drinker; confesses a partiality for the production of the juniper berry, was a fierce smoker of Tobacco, but may be resembled to a volcano burnt out, emitting only now and then a casual puff. Has been guilty of obtruding upon the Public a Tale in Prose, called Rosamund Gray, a Dramatic Sketch named John[Pg 376] Woodvil, a Farewell Ode to Tobacco, with sundry other Poems and light prose matter, collected in Two slight crown Octavos and pompously christened his Works, tho' in fact they were his Recreations and his true works may be found on the shelves of Leadenhall Street, filling some hundred Folios. He is also the true Elia whose Essays are extant in a little volume published a year or two since; and rather better known from that name without a meaning, than from anything he has done or can hope to do in his own. He also was the first to draw the Public attention to the old English Dramatists in a work called "Specimens of English Dramatic Writers who lived about the time of Shakspeare," published about 15 years since. In short all his merits and demerits to set forth would take to the end of Mr. Upcott's book and then not be told truly. He died[59]

18—— much lamented.

Witness his hand, Charles Lamb.

10th Apr 1827.

[59] To any Body—Please to fill up these blanks.



To the Editor of The Spectator

Sir,—Partaking in your indignation at the sickly stuff interpolated by Tate in the genuine play of King Lear, I beg to lay before you certain kindred enormities that you may be less aware of, which that co-dilutor of Sternhold and Hopkins,[60] with his compeers, were suffered—nay, encouraged—by an English public of a century and a half ago, to perpetrate upon the dramas of Shakspeare. I speak from imperfect recollection of one of these new versions which I have seen, namely, Coriolanus—by the same hand which touched up King Lear; in which he, the said Nahum, not deeming his author's catastrophe enough striking, makes[Pg 377] Aufidius (if my memory fail me not) violate the person of the wife, and mangle the body of the little son, of his Roman rival! Shadwell, another improver, in his version of Timon of Athens, a copy of which (167-7/8) is lying before me, omits the character of Flavius, the kind-hearted Steward—that fine exception to the air of general perfidy in the play, which would else be too oppressive to reader or spectator; and substitutes for it a kind female, who is supposed to be attached to Timon to the last: thus making the moral of the piece to consist in showing—not the hollowness of friendships conciliated by a mere undistinguishing prodigality, but—the superiority of woman's love to the friendships of men. Evandra too has a rival in the affections of the noble Athenian. So impossible did these blockheads imagine it to be, to interest the feelings of an audience without an intrigue, that the misanthrope Timon must whine, and the daughterly Cordelia must whimper, their love affections, before they could hope to touch the gentle hearts in the boxes! Had one of these gentry taken in hand to improve the fine Scriptural story of Joseph and his Brethren, we should have had a love passion introduced, to make the mere fraternal interest of the piece go down—an episode of the amours of Reuben, or Issachar, with the fair Mizraim of Egypt.—Thus Evandra closes the eyes of Shadwell's dying Timon; who, it seems, has poisoned himself.

[60] New Version of the Singing Psalms, by Nahum Tate, and Nicholas Brady.

Evan. Oh my dear Lord! why do you stoop and bend
Like flowers o'ercharged with dew, whose yielding stalks
Cannot support them?
Timon. So now my weary pilgrimage on earth
Is almost finish'd! Now, my best Evandra,
I charge thee by our loves, our mutual loves,
Live, and live happy after me; and if
A thought of Timon comes into thy mind,
And brings a tear from thee—
(What then? why then)
—let some diversion
Banish it.—

And so, after some more drivel of the same stamp, the noble Timon dies. And was not this a dainty dish to set before an audience of the Duke's Theatre in the year 167-7/8? Yet Betterton then acted Timon, and his wife Evandra.

I now come to the London acting edition of Macbeth of the same date, 1678 (played, if I remember, by the same[Pg 378] players, at the same house); from which I made a few rough extracts, when I visited the British Museum for the sake of selecting from the "Garrick Plays." As I can scarcely expect to be believed upon my own word, as to what our ancestors at that time were willing to accept for Shakspeare, I refer the reader to that collection to verify my report. Who the improver was in this instance, we are left to guess, for the title-page leaves us to conjecture. Possibly the players, each one separately, contributed his new reading, which was silently adopted. Flesh and blood could not at this time of day submit to a thorough perusal of the thing; but, from a glance or two of casual inspection, I am enabled to lay before the reader a few flowers. In one of the lyric parts, Hecate is made to say—

——on a corner of the moon
A drop my spectacles have found.
I'll catch it.

Hecate, the solemn president of classic enchantments, thence adopted into the romantic—the tri-form Hecate—wearing spectacles to assist old sight!—(No. 4 or No. 5, as the opticians class them, is not said)—one may as well fancy Cerberus in a bran new collar, or the "dreaded name of Demogorgon" in jack-boots. Among the "ingredients of the caldron," is enumerated, not a tiger's, but—what reader?—

——a Dutchman's chawdron!

We were about that time engaged in a war with Holland.—Again, Macduff being about to journey across the heath—the "blasted heath"—answers his lady, who courteously demands of him, "Are you a-foot?"—

Knowing the way to be both short and easy,
And that the chariot did attend me here,
I have adventured——

From which we may infer, that the Thane of Fife lived as a nobleman ought to do, and—kept a carriage. Again, the same nobleman, on the morning after Duncan's murder, says:—"Rising this morning early, I went to look out of my window. I could scarce see further than my breath." And indeed the original author informs us, that it had been a "rough night;" so that the improver does not wander far from his text. The exquisite familiarity of this prose patch was doubtlessly intended by the improver to break the tire[Pg 379]some monotony of Shakspeare's blank verse. In conclusion, Lady Macbeth is brought in repentant, and counselling her husband to give up the crown for conscience sake!—Item, she sees a ghost, which is all the time invisible to him. Such was the Macbeth which Betterton acted, and a contemporary audience took on trust for Shakspeare's.

C. L.



There is a Saturday Night—I speak not to the admirers of Burns—erotically or theologically considered; HIS of the "Cotter's" may be a very charming picture, granting it to be but half true. Nor speak I now of the Saturday Night at Sea, which Dibdin hath dressed up with a gusto more poignant to the mere nautical palate of un-Calvanized South Britons. Nor that it is marketing night with the pretty tripping Servant-maids all over London, who, with judicious and economic eye, select the white and well-blown fillet, that the blue-aproned contunder of the calf can safely recommend as "prime veal," and which they are to be sure not to over-brown on the morrow. Nor speak I of the hard-handed Artisan, who on this night receives the pittance which is to furnish the neat Sabbatical dinner—not always reserved with Judaical rigor for that laudable purpose, but broken in upon, perchance, by inviting pot of ale, satisfactory to the present orifice. These are alleviatory, care-consoling. But the Hebdomadal Finale which I contemplate hath neither comfort nor alleviation in it; I pronounce it, from memory, altogether punitive, and to be abhorred. It is—Saturday Night to the School-boy!

Cleanliness, saith some sage man, is next to Godliness. It may be; but how it came to sit so very near, is the marvel. Methinks some of the more human virtues might have put in for a place before it. Justice—Humanity—Temperance—are positive qualities; the courtesies and little civil offices of life, had I been Master of the Ceremonies to that Court,[Pg 380] should have sate above the salt in preference to a mere negation. I confess there is something wonderfully refreshing, in warm countries, in the act of ablution. Those Mahometan washings—how cool to the imagination! but in all these superstitions, the action itself, if not the duty, is voluntary. But to be washed perforce; to have a detestable flannel rag soaked in hot water, and redolent of the very coarsest coarse soap, ingrained with hard beads for torment, thrust into your mouth, eyes, nostrils—positively Burking you, under pretence of cleansing—substituting soap for dirt, the worst dirt of the two—making your poor red eyes smart all night, that they might look out brighter on the Sabbath morn, for their clearness was the effect of pain more than cleanliness.—Could this be true religion?

The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. I am always disposed to add, so are those of Grandmothers. Mine—the Print has made her look rather too young—had never-failing pretexts of tormenting children for their good. I was a chit then; and I well remember when a fly had got into a corner of my eye, and I was complaining of it to her, the old Lady deliberately pounded two ounces or more of the finest loaf sugar that could be got, and making me hold open the eye as wide as I could—all innocent of her purpose—she blew from delicate white paper, with a full breath, the whole saccharine contents into the part afflicted, saying, "There, now the fly is out." 'Twas most true—a legion of blue-bottles, with the prince of flies at their head, must have dislodged with the torrent and deluge of tears which followed. I kept my own counsel, and my fly in my eye when I had got one, in future, without troubling her dulcet applications for the remedy. Then her medicine-case was a perfect magazine of tortures for infants. She seemed to have no notion of the comparatively tender drenches which young internals require—her potions were any thing but milk for babes. Then her sewing up of a cut finger—pricking a whitloe before it was ripe, because she could not see well,—with the aggravation of the pitying tone she did it in.

But of all her nostrums—rest her soul—nothing came up to the Saturday Night's flannel—that rude fragment of a Witney blanket—Wales spins none so coarse—thrust into the corners of a weak child's eye with soap that might have absterged an Ethiop, whitened the hands of Duncan's She-[Pg 381]murderer, and scowered away Original Sin itself. A faint image of my penance you see in the Print—but the Artist has sunk the flannel—the Age, I suppose, is too nice to bear it: and he has faintly shadowed the expostulatory suspension of the razor-strap in the hand of my Grandfather, when my pains and clamours had waxed intolerable. Peace to the Shades of them both! and if their well-meaning souls had need of cleansing when they quitted earth, may the process of it have been milder than that of my old Purgatorial Saturday Night's path to the Sabbatical rest of the morrow!




It has happened not seldom that one work of some author has so transcendantly surpassed in execution the rest of his compositions, that the world has agreed to pass a sentence of dismissal upon the latter, and to consign them to total neglect and oblivion. It has done wisely in this, not to suffer the contemplation of excellencies of a lower standard to abate, or stand in the way of the pleasure it has agreed to receive from the master-piece.

Again it has happened, that from no inferior merit of execution in the rest, but from superior good fortune in the choice of its subject, some single work shall have been suffered to eclipse, and cast into shade the deserts of its less fortunate brethren. This has been done with more or less injustice in the case of the popular allegory of Bunyan, in which the beautiful and scriptural image of a pilgrim or wayfarer (we are all such upon earth), addressing itself intelligibly and feelingly to the bosoms of all, has silenced, and made almost to be forgotten, the more awful and scarcely less tender beauties of the "Holy War made by Shaddai upon Diabolus," of the same author; a romance less happy in its subject, but surely well worthy of a secondary immortality. But in no instance has this excluding partiality been exerted with more[Pg 382] unfairness than against what may be termed the secondary novels or romances of De Foe.

While all ages and descriptions of people hang delighted over the "Adventures of Robinson Crusoe," and shall continue to do so we trust while the world lasts, how few comparatively will bear to be told, that there exist other fictitious narratives by the same writer—four of them at least of no inferior interest, except what results from a less felicitous choice of situation. Roxana—Singleton—Moll Flanders—Colonel Jack—are all genuine offspring of the same father. They bear the veritable impress of De Foe. An unpractised midwife that would not swear to the nose, lip, forehead, and eye, of every one of them! They are in their way as full of incident, and some of them every bit as romantic; only they want the uninhabited Island, and the charm that has bewitched the world, of the striking solitary situation.

But are there no solitudes out of the cave and the desert? or cannot the heart in the midst of crowds feel frightfully alone? Singleton, on the world of waters, prowling about with pirates less merciful than the creatures of any howling wilderness; is he not alone, with the faces of men about him, but without a guide that can conduct him through the mists of educational and habitual ignorance; or a fellow-heart that can interpret to him the new-born yearnings and aspirations of unpractised penitence? Or when the boy Colonel Jack, in the loneliness of the heart (the worst solitude), goes to hide his ill-purchased treasure in the hollow tree by night, and miraculously loses, and miraculously finds it again—whom hath he there to sympathise with him? or of what sort are his associates?

The narrative manner of De Foe has a naturalness about it, beyond that of any other novel or romance writer. His fictions have all the air of true stories. It is impossible to believe, while you are reading them, that a real person is not narrating to you every where nothing but what really happened to himself. To this, the extreme homeliness of their style mainly contributes. We use the word in its best and heartiest sense—that which comes home to the reader. The narrators everywhere are chosen from low life, or have had their origin in it; therefore they tell their own tales, (Mr. Coleridge has anticipated us in this remark,) as persons in their degree are observed to do, with infinite repetition, and an overacted[Pg 383] exactness, lest the hearer should not have minded, or have forgotten, some things that had been told before. Hence the emphatic sentences marked in the good old (but deserted) Italic type; and hence, too, the frequent interposition of the reminding old colloquial parenthesis, "I say"—"mind"—and the like, when the story-teller repeats what, to a practised reader, might appear to have been sufficiently insisted upon before: which made an ingenious critic observe, that his works, in this kind, were excellent reading for the kitchen. And, in truth, the heroes and heroines of De Foe, can never again hope to be popular with a much higher class of readers, than that of the servant-maid or the sailor. Crusoe keeps its rank only by tough prescription; Singleton, the pirate—Colonel Jack, the thief—Moll Flanders, both thief and harlot—Roxana, harlot and something worse—would be startling ingredients in the bill of fare of modern literary delicacies. But, then, what pirates, what thieves, and what harlots is the thief, the harlot, and the pirate of De Foe? We would not hesitate to say, that in no other book of fiction, where the lives of such characters are described, is guilt and delinquency made less seductive, or the suffering made more closely to follow the commission, or the penitence more earnest or more bleeding, or the intervening flashes of religious visitation, upon the rude and uninstructed soul, more meltingly and fearfully painted. They, in this, come near to the tenderness of Bunyan; while the livelier pictures and incidents in them, as in Hogarth or in Fielding, tend to diminish that "fastidiousness to the concerns and pursuits of common life, which an unrestrained passion for the ideal and the sentimental is in danger of producing."



To the Editor of The Spectator

Sir,—You have a question in your paper, what songs, and whether any of any value, were written upon Prince William, our present Sovereign. Can it have escaped you,[Pg 384] that the very popular song and tune of "Sweet lass of Richmond Hill" had reference to a supposed partiality of that Prince for a lass of Richmond? I have heard who she was, but now forget. I think it was a damsel of quality. I remember, when I was a schoolboy at Christ's Hospital, about eight-and-forty years since, having had my hearing stunned with the burthen (which alone I retain) of some ballad in praise and augury of the Princely Midshipman:—

"He's royal, he's noble, he's chosen by me,[61]
Britain's Isle to protect, and reign Lord of the Sea!"

and my old ears yet ring with it.

[61] It is Neptune who predicts this.

Allusions to the same personage were at that time rife in innumerable ballads, under the notion of a sweet William; but the ballads are obliterated. The song of "Sweet William Taylor, walking with his lady gay"—from the identity of names, I suppose—usually followed the Neptunian song. The late Tom Sheridan bears away the credit of this. But was it possible he could have been the author of it in 1782 or 1783? Perhaps he made it his own by communicating a deeper tinge of vulgarity to it, exchanging "William" for "Billy." I think the rogue snugged it in as his own, hoping it was a forgotten ditty.

C. L.


Sir,—A friend has just reminded me of a ballad made on occasion of some shipboard scrape into which our Royal Midshipman had fallen; in which, with a romantic licence, the rank of the young sailor is supposed to have been unknown, and a corporal infliction about to have been put into execution. This is all he can recover of it. He was

——"order'd to undress, Sir!
But very soon they did espy
The star upon his breast, Sir:
And on their knees they soon did fall,
And all for mercy soon did call."

The burden was "Long live Duke William," or something to that effect. So you see, his Majesty has enjoyed his laureats by anticipation.

C. L.

[Pg 385]

I know the town swarmed with these Clarence songs in the heyday of his young popularity. Where are they?



What Apelles was to the Grecian Alexander, the same to the Russian was the late G—— D——. None but Apelles might attempt the lineaments of the world's conqueror; none but our Academician could have done justice to the lines of the Czar, and his Courtiers. There they hang, the labour of ten plodding years, in an endless gallery, erected for the nonce, in the heart of Imperial Petersburgh—eternal monuments of barbarian taste submitting to half-civilized cunning—four hundred fierce Half-Lengths, all male, and all military; like the pit in a French theatre, or the characters in Timon as it was last acted, with never a woman among them. Chaste sitters to Vandyke, models of grace and womanhood; and thou Dame Venetia Digby, fairest among thy fair compeers at Windsor, hide your pure pale cheeks, and cool English beauties, before this suffocating horde of Scythian riflers, this male chaos! Your cold oaken frames shall wane before the gorgeous buildings,

With Tartar faces thronged, and horrent uniforms.

One emperor contended for the monopoly of the ancient; two were competitors at once for the pencil of the modern Apelles. The Russian carried it against the Haytian by a single length. And if fate, as it was at one time nearly arranged, had wafted D. to the shores of Hayti—with the same complacency in his art, with which he persisted in daubing in, day after day, his frozen Muscovites, he would have sate down for life to smutch in upon canvass the faces of blubber-lipped sultanas, or the whole male retinue of the dingy court of Christophe. For in truth a choice of subjects was the least of D.'s care. A Goddess from Cnidus, or from the Caffre[Pg 386] coast, was equal to him; Lot, or Lot's wife; the charming widow H., or her late husband.

My acquaintance with D. was in the outset of his art, when the graving tools, rather than the pencil, administered to his humble wants. Those implements, as is well known, are not the most favourable to the cultivation of that virtue, which is esteemed next to godliness. He might "wash his hands in innocency," and so metaphorically "approach an altar;" but his material puds were any thing but fit to be carried to church. By an ingrained economy in soap—if it was not for pictorial effect rather—he would wash (on Sundays) the inner oval, or portrait, as it may be termed, of his countenance, leaving the unwashed temples to form a natural black frame round a picture, in which a dead white was the predominant colour. This, with the addition of green spectacles, made necessary by the impairment, which his graving labours by day and night (for he was ordinarily at them for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four) had brought upon his visual faculties, gave him a singular appearance, when he took the air abroad; in so much, that I have seen a crowd of young men and boys following him along Oxford-street with admiration, not without shouts; even as the Youth of Rome, we read in Vasari, followed the steps of Raphael with acclamations for his genius, and for his beauty, when he proceeded from his work-shop to chat with Cardinals and Popes at the Vatican.

The family of D. were not at this time in affluent circumstances. His father, a clever artist, had outlived the style of art, in which he excelled most of his contemporaries. He, with the father of the celebrated Morland, worked for the shop of Carrington and Bowles, which exists still for the poorer sort of caricatures, on the North side of St. Paul's Church Yard. They did clever things in colours. At an inn in Reading a screen is still preserved, full of their labours; but the separate portions of either artist are now undistinguishable. I remember a Mother teaching her Child to read (B. Barton has a copy of it); a Laundress washing; a young Quaker, a beautiful subject. But the flower of their forgotten productions hangs still at a public house on the left hand, as thou arrivest, Reader, from the now Highgate archway, at the foot of the descent where Crouch End begins, on thy road to green Hornsey. Turn in, and look at it, for the sight is well worth a cup of excusatory cyder. In the parlour to the right you[Pg 387] will find it—an antiquated subject—a Damsel sitting at her breakfast table in a gown of the flowered chintz of our grandmothers, with a tea-service before her of the same pattern. The effect is most delicate. Why have these harmonies—these agrémens—no place in the works of modern art?

With such niceties in his calling D. did not much trouble his head, but, after an ineffectual experiment to reconcile his eye-sight with his occupation, boldly quitted it, and dashed into the beaten road of common-place portraiture in oil. The Hopners, and the Lawrences, were his Vandykes, and his Velasquezes; and if he could make any thing like them, he insured himself immortality. With such guides he struggled on through laborious nights and days, till he reached the eminence he aimed at—of mediocrity. Having gained that summit, he sate down contented. If the features were but cognoscible, no matter whether the flesh resembled flesh, or oilskin. For the thousand tints—the grains—which in life diversify the nose, the chin, the cheek—which a Reynolds can but coarsely counterfeit—he cared nothing at all about them. He left such scrupulosities to opticians and anatomists. If the features were but there, the character of course could not be far off. A lucky hit which he made in painting the dress of a very dressy lady—Mrs. W—e—, whose handsome countenance also, and tall elegance of shape, were too palpable entirely to escape under any masque of oil, with which even D. could overlay them—brought to him at once, an influx of sitters, which almost rivalled the importunate calls upon Sir Thomas. A portrait, he did soon after, of the Princess Charlotte, clenched his fame. He proceeded Academician. At that memorable conjuncture of time it pleased the Allied Sovereigns to visit England.

I called upon D. to congratulate him upon a crisis so doubly eventful. His pleasant housekeeper seemed embarrassed; owned that her master was alone. But could he be spoken with? With some importunity I prevailed upon her to usher me up into his painting-room. It was in Newman-street. At his easel stood D., with an immense spread of canvas before him, and by his side a—live Goose. I enquired into this extraordinary combination. Under the rose he informed me, that he had undertaken to paint a transparency for Vauxhall, against an expected visit of the Allied Sovereigns to that place. I smiled at an engagement[Pg 388] so derogatory to his new-born honours; but a contempt of small gains was never one of D.'s foibles. My eyes beheld crude forms of warriors, kings, rising under his brush upon this interminable stretch of cloth. The Wolga, the Don, and the Nieper, were there, or their representative River Gods; and Father Thames clubbed urns with the Vistula. Glory with her dazzling Eagle was not absent, nor Fame, nor Victory. The shade of Rubens might have evoked the mighty allegories. But what was the Goose? He was evidently sitting for a something.

D. at last informed me, that having fixed upon a group of rivers, he could not introduce the Royal Thames without his swans. That he had enquired the price of a live swan, and it being more than he was prepared to give for it, he had bargained with the poulterer for the next thing to it; adding significantly, that it would do to roast, after it had served its turn to paint swans by. Reader, this is a true story.

So entirely devoid of imagination, or any feeling for his high art, was this Painter, that for the few historical pictures he attempted, any sitter might sit for any character. He took once for a subject The Infant Hercules. Did he chuse for a model some robust antique? No. He did not even pilfer from Sir Joshua, who was nearer to his own size. But from a show he hired to sit to him a child in years indeed, (though no Infant,) but in fact a precocious Man, or human portent, that was disgustingly exhibiting at that period; a thing to be strangled. From this he formed his Infant Hercules. In a scriptural flight he next attempted a Sampson in the lap of Dalilah. A Dalilah of some sort was procureable for love or money, but who should stand for the Jewish Hercules? He hired a tolerably stout porter, with a thickish head of hair, curling in yellowish locks, but lithe—much like a wig. And these were the robust strengths of Sampson.

I once was a witness to a family scene in his painting closet, which I had entered rather abruptly, and but for his encouragement, should as hastily have retreated. He stood with displeased looks eyeing a female relative—whom I had known under happier auspices—that was kneeling at his feet with a baby in her arms, with her eyes uplifted and suppliant. Though I could have previously sworn to the virtue of Miss ——, yet casual slips have been known. There are such things as families disgraced, where least you would have[Pg 389] expected it. The child might be ——; I had heard of no wedding—I was the last person to pry into family secrets—when D. relieved my uneasy cogitations by explaining, that the innocent, good-humoured creature before me (such as she ever was, and is now that she is married) with a baby borrowed from the public house, was acting Andromache to his Ulysses, for the purpose of transferring upon canvas a tender situation from the Troades of Seneca.

On a subsequent occasion I knocked at D.'s door. I had chanced to have been in a dreamy humour previously. I am not one that often poetises, but I had been musing—coxcombically enough in the heart of Newman-street, Oxford Road—upon Pindus, and the Aonian Maids. The Lover of Daphne was in my mind—when, answering to my summons, the door opened, and there stood before me, laurel-crowned, the God himself, unshorn Apollo. I was beginning to mutter apologies to the Celestial Presence—when on the thumb of the right hand of the Delian (his left held the harp) I spied a pallet, such as painters carry, which immediately reconciled me to the whimsical transformation of my old acquaintance—with his own face, certainly any other than Grecianesque—into a temporary image of the oracle-giver of Delphos. To have impersonated the Ithacan was little; he had been just sitting for a God.—It would be no incurious enquiry to ascertain what the minimum of the faculty of imagination, ever supposed essential to painters along with poets, is, that, in these days of complaints of want of patronage towards the fine arts, suffices to dub a man a R——l A——n.

Not only had D. no imagination to guide him in the treatment of such subjects, but he had no relish for high art in the productions of the great masters. He turned away from them as from something foreign and irrelative to him, and his calling. He knew he had neither part nor portion in them. Cozen him into the Stafford or the Angerst