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Full text of "Once Upon a Time"

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3 3433 08165229 3 



Lerox Library 




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Ci^ux-^/^ / n ni^ -> 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



c^K 



BT THE SAME AUTHOR. 

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: A View of the Productive Forces 
of Modern Society, and the Results of Labour, Capital, and 
Skill. 2nd Edition, with additional Woodcuts. Post 8yo., Is. Sd. 

n. 
THE OLD PRINTER k THE MODERN PRESS. Fcap. 8vo., 5«. 



LOKDON : FSINTBD BY WXLLIAIC CLOWKS AKD SOKS, STAXFORD StBBET. 



/^ 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



BY CHABLBS KNIGHT. 



' like old bee* die, the young poeae M iMr hive." 

SHAureHC: Luertot. 



SECOND EOmON. 



iLiiLirsTSATraD with iruMEBOua wooBccrard. 



LONDON: 

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET. 

1859. 



iThe right qf Translatio/t it raervecL] 



TO 

HENRY, LORD BROUGHAM, 

THE UNWEARIED ADVOCATE OF PR0QRES8. 

THESE SKETCHES 



OF SOME OP THE ffTAOBS OF T RANSITI ON FROM THE PAST 
TO THE PRESENT 



ARE RBSPBOTFULLT INSCRIBED. 



■rI7( 






Some of the pieces in this volume have been printed 
before, chiefly in periodical works. Many are new. 
The articles in this edition entitled ' The Chapel,' and 
* The Beginnings of Popular Literature,' — are portions 
of my volume entitled *The Old Printer and the 
Modem Press.' The various papers are here presented, 
as far as the nature of the subjects will admit, in a 
chronological successioa This arrangement has in- 
volved many alterations in some of the republished 
articles. 

It is scarcely necessary to indicate the several publi- 
cations in which a portion of these slight things have 
previously appeared, except to say that some of the 
shorter pieces have had the advantage of the popularity 
of Mr. Dickens' * Household Words.' 

The Title, * Once upon a Time,' which, as the com- 
mencement of ' Old Wives' Tales,' lingers in our 
childish memories, may suggest something of the im- 



Vlll 

pretending nature of these Sketches. I think they are 
not untrue representations of other states of society ; 
but they have no pretensions to the completeness which 
History, even domestic History, demands. They are 
Glimpses of the Past. Yet as such they may have 
some value beyond that of amusing a vacant hour. 
The Past is a solemn word : — 

•ThePaat, 
Big with deep warnings of the proper tenure 
By which thon hast the earth : the Present for thee 
Shall have distinct and trembling beantj, seen 
Beside that Past's own shade.' 

Bbownino, Paracelsus. 



CONTENTS. 



TAQE 

The Chapel 1 

The PA8T0NB 10 

The DnoovERER of Madkiba 49 

The Silent Highway 60 

The Younoer Son 84 

Hang out tour Lights 90 

SvilMat-Dat 103 

:k)UNTRT Wayfarers 110 

Philip Sidney and Fulke Grev^iLE 129 ' 

)Hakspere'8 First Ride to London .135" 

^AT-MoRNiNG: ITS Poetry AND ITS Prose 142 

Amateurs and Actors 147 

Sen Jonson's Mother 154 

Enqubh Posts in Scotland 160 

EioBERT Burton's Poetical Coicmonwsalth 175 ^ 

Milton, the Londoner 184 

Lucy Hutchinson 209 

Astrological Almanacs 216 

May-fair . . . / 223 

Fohn Aubrey, and his Eminent Men 234 

The Beginnings of Popular Literature — Section I. ... 250 

» „ n SBcnoN II. . . . 262 

„ „ „ Section III. . . . 278 

The First Newspaper Stamp 293 

Privia 297 

lORACE WaLPOLE'S WoRLD OF FASHION 322 

loiucE Walpole's World of Letters 347 



X CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Fanny Bubnet at Court 370 

The Fabmer'b Kitchen 382 

windbor, as it was sss 

Crabbe's Modern Antiques 403 

The Leading Profession 425 

Dear and Cheap 434 

Suburban Milestones 455 

An Episode of Vathek 463 

The Eton Montem 471 

Items of the Obsolete 478 

The First Step into the World 50$= 

Saint John's Gate 514 

The Tail-Piece 53(' 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PAOE 

Indent Press 2 

larkofWynkyndeWorde 9 

'«Uter Castle 10 

f ode of Folding and Sealing a Letter 11 

'emale Gostome in the time of Hemy VI 13 

[ale Costume in the time of Henry VI 42 

ramlingham Castle 48 

rater Quintain 63 

An Taylor, the Water-Poet 72 

he old Stage and Balcony 74 

he Watch, with ' cressets ' and * heaoons.' — Grouped iran Hollar . . 94 

dne/sTree 134 

lakspere 135 

en Jonson 154' 

:ilton 184 

Jomus' 191 

iiancelofSt. GileSyCripplegate 208 

iUy 218 

»hn Gadbury 219 

•aaoB Moore, 1657. — From an anonymous print 222 

id Watering-house, Knightsbridge, as it appeared in 1841 .... 224 

mx, the C<Hijuror . . . . ' 232 

anton 267 

»iiBozi 269 

£kingtoD 283 

"he foot grows black that was with dirt embrown'd ' . . .297 

eapeide 300 

£kney Coachman, 1680 306 

mple Bar.—Hogarth 308 

e Palace Gate, St. James's 309 



Xll 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PAOI 

London Street-lights, 1760 311 

The Liveried Torch-bearer 31S 

Link-boy 315 

The Enraged Musician 317 

Horn-men. — * Great News T 3b 

Muffin-man, 1841 31^ 

The Library, Strawberry Hill 32: 

The Gallery, Strawberry Hill ^ 3.':- 

PallMall, about 1740 ' 32? 

Garrick as Macbeth 32v 

Vnuxhall in 1751 33^ 

A Fleet Marriage-Party. — From a print of the time 343 

Horace Walpole 347 

Johnson. — From a portrait by Sir J. Reynolds 35< 

Dmrin 356 

BoiweU ^ 37v 

George m ' 37^ 

Queen Chariotte 374 

Sir John Dinely 38; 

* Fair Lemons and Oranges I* 434 

Onnges.— 1841 43> 

Islington : One mile fixnn the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood . 45<' 

Bear-ward.-^Hogarth 4^> 

A Ball.— From the Frontispiece to Thompson's Coantry Dances, 1778 4ifi( 

St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell, 1841 514 

Cave 51i^ 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



THE CHAPEL. 



It was evensong time when, after a day of listlessness, the 
printers in the Almonry at Westminster prepared to olose 
the doors of their workshop. This was a tolerably spacious 
room, with a carved oaken roof. The setting sun shone 
brightly into the chamber, and lighted up such furniture 
as no other room in London could then exhibit. Between 
the columns which supported the roof stood two presses 
—^ponderous machines. A form of types lay unread upon 
the tMe of one of these presses ; the other was empty. 
There were cases ranged between the opposite columns; 
but there was no copy suspended ready for the compositors 
to proceed with in the morning. No heap of wet paper was 
piled upon the floor. The haJih^ removed from the presses, 
were rotting in a comer. The ink-hhcks were dusty, and 
a thin film had formed over the oily pigment. He wbo 
had set these machines in motion, and filled the whole 
space with the activity of mind, was dead. His daily 
work was ended. 

Three grave-looking men, decently clothed in black, 
were girding on their swords. Their caps were in their 
hands. The door opened, and the chief of the workmen 
came in. It was Wynkyn de Worde. With short speech, 
but with looks of deep significance, he called a chipel — the 
printer's parliament — a conclave as solemn and as omni- 
potent as the Saxons' W^itenagemot. Wynkyn was the 
Father of the Chapel. 

B 



2 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



The four drew their high stools round the imposingstora 
— those stools on which they had sat through many a day 
of quiet labour, steadily working to the distant end of soino 
ponderous folio, without hurry or anxiety. Upon the stoue 




Ancient Presa. 

lay two uncorrected folio pages — a portion of the * Lives of 
tlie Fathers.' The proof was not returned. He that thoy 
had followed a few days before to his grave in St. Margaret'^ 
church had lifted it once back to his failing eyes, — and 
then they closed in night. 

•Companions/ said Wynkyn — (surely that word ^ cor.- 
panions ' tells of the antiquity of printing, and of the oLl 
love and fellowship that subsisted amongst its craft)— 
* companions, the good work will not stop.* 

' Wynkyn,* said Eichard Pynson, ' who is to carry on the 
work ?' 



THE CHAPEL. 8 

* I am ready,' answered Wynkyn. 

A faint expression of joy rose to the lips of these honest 
men, but it was damped by the remembrance of him they 
had lost. 

* He died,' said Wynkyn, ' as he lived. The Lives of 
the Holy Fathers is finished, as far as the translator's 
labour. There is the rest of the copy. Bead the words of 
the last page, which I have written : — 

* Thus endeth the most virtuous history of the devout 
and right-renowned lives of holy fathers living in desert, 
worthy of remembrance to all well-disposed persons, which 
hath been translated out of French into English by William 
Caxton, of Westminster, late dead, and finished at the last 
day of his life.'* 

The tears were in all their eyes ; and • God rest his 
soul !' was whispered around, 

' Companion,' said William Maohlinia, ' is not this a 
hazardous enterprise T 

* I have encouragement,' replied Wynkyn ; * the Lady 
]VIargaret, his Highness' mother, gives me aid. So droop 
not, fear not. We will carry on the work briskly in our 
good master's house. — So fill the case.'f 

A shout almost mounted to the roof. 

' But why should we fear ? You, Machlinia, you, Lettou; 
and you, dear Bichard Pynson, if you choose not to abide 
with your old companion here, there is work for you all 
in these good towns of Westminister, London, and South- 
warfc. You have money ; you know where to buy types. 
Printing must go forward.' 

* Always full of heart,' said Pynson. * But you forget 
the statute of King Bichard ; we cannot say " God rest his 
soul," for our old master scarcely ever forgave him putting 
Lord Bivers to death. You forget the statute. We ought 
to know it, for we printed it. I can turn to the file in a 

* These are the words with which this hook closes, 
t * Wynkyn de Worde this hath set in print, 
In William Cazton's house : — so fill the case.* 

8tanza$ to • Scala Perfection^,* 1494. 
B 2 



I 



4 ONCE UPON A TIME, 

moment. It is the Act touching the merchants of lialv, 
which forbids them selling their wares in this realm. Here 
itifl : — ** Provided always that this Act, or any part thereot 
in nowise extend or be prejudicial of any let, hurt, or im- 
pediment to any artificer or merchant stranger, of 'wha: 
nation or country he be or shall be of, for bringing into 
this realm, or selling by retail or otherwise, of any manner 
of books written or imprinted." Can we stand up against 
that, if we have more presses than the old press of the 
Abbey of Westminster 7 

*Ay, truly, we can, good friend,' briskly answered 
Wynkyn. ' Have we any books in our stores ? Could we 
ever print books fast enough? Are there not readenj 
rising up on all sides ? Do we depend upon the court • 
The mercers and the drapers, the grocers and the spicers of 
the city, crowd here for our books. The rude uplandisl: 
men even take our books ; they that our good master rather 
vilipended. The tapsters and tavemers have our books. The 
whole country-side cries out for our ballads and our Robin 
Hood stories ; and, to say the truth, the citizen's wife is a5 
much taken with our King Arthurs and King Blanchardines 
as the most noble knight that Master Caxton ever desirec 
to look upon in his green days of jousts in Burgundy. Sc 
fill the case.'* 

*But if foreigners bring books into England,* said 
cautious William Machlinia, * there will be more books 
than readers.' 

• Books make readers,' rejoined Wynkyn. • Do you re- 
member how timidly even our bold master went on before 
he was safe in his sell ? Do you forget how ho asked thi< 
lord to take a copy, and that knight to give him something 
in fee ; and how he bargained for his summer venison and 
his winter venison, as an encouragement in his ventures' 
But he found a larger market than he ever counted upon, 
find so shall we all. Go ye forth, my brave fellows. Stay 

• To ** fill the case " is to put fresh types in the case, ready to arrange ir 
new pages. The bibliographers scarcely understood the technical expression o:' 
honest Wynkyn. 



THE CHAPEL. 6 

not to work for me, if you can work better for yourselves. 
I fear no rivals/ 

•Why, Wynkyn/ interposed Pynson, 'you talk as if 
printing were as necessary as air ; books as food, or cloth- 
ing, or fire/ 

' And so they will be some day. AVhat is to stop the 
want of books ? Will one man have the command of books, 
and another desire them not ? The time may come when 
every man shall require books/ 

* Perhaps,' said Lettou, who had an eye to printing the 
Statutes, • the time may come when every man shall want 
to read an Act of Parliament, instead of the few lawyers 
who buy our Acts now/ 

* Hardly so,' grunted Wynkyn. 

* Or perchance you think that, when our sovereign liego 
meets his Peers and Commons in Parliament, it were well 
to print a book some month or two after, to tell what the 
said Parliament said, as well as ordained ?' 

* Nay, nay, you run me hard,* said W^ynkyn. 

* And if within a month, why not within a day ? Why 
shouldn't we print the words as fast as they are spoken ? 
We only want fairy fingers to pick up our types, and 
presses that Doctor Faustus and his devils may some day 
make, to tell all London to-morrow morning what is done 
this morning in the palace at Westminster/ 

* Prithee, be serious,' ejaculated Wynkyn. • Why do 
you talk such gallymaufiy? I was speaking of possible 
things ; and I really think the day may come when one 
person in a thousand may read books and buy books, and 
we shall have a trade almost as good as that of armourers 
and fietchers/ 

* The Bible !' exclaimed Pynson ; • that we might 
print the Bible ! I know of a copy of Wickliflfe's Bible. 
That were indeed a book to print !* 

* I have no doubt, Richai-d,* replied Wynkyn, ' that the 
happy time may come when a Bible shall be chained in 
every church, for every Christian man to look upon. You 
remember when our brother Hunte showed us the chained 



6 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

books in the library at Oxford. So a century or two hem 
a Bible may be found in every parish. Twelve thousand 
parishes in England ! We should want more paper in ih:. 
good day, Master Bichard.' 

' You had better fancy at once,' said Lettou, * that every 
housekeeper will want a Bible ! Heaven save the mark 
how some men's imaginations run away with tkem !' 

* I cannot see,' interposed Machlinia, * how we can ventim 
upon more pr^isses in London. Here are two. They hav; 
been worked well since the day when they were shipped s' 
Cologne. Here are five good founts of type, as much £• 
a thousand weight — Great Primer, Double Pica, Pica — a large 
and a small face, and Long Primer. They have well 
worked ; they are pretty nigh worn out. What man woxi^ 
risk such an adventure, after our good old master? He 
was a favourite at court and in cloister. He was weE 
patronized. Who is to patronize us ?' 

* The people, I tell you,' exclaimed Wynkyn. * TL 
babe in the cradle wants an Absey-book ; the maid at h 
distaff wants a ballad ; the priest wants his Pie ; the youn: 
lover wants a romance of chivalry to read to his mistrese' 
the lawyer wants his Statutes ; the scholar wants his Viirr 
and Cicero. They will all want more the more they ar: 
supplied. How many in England have a book at all 
think you ? Let us make books cheaper by printing moiv 
of them at once. The churchwardens of St. Margaret': 
asked me six-and-eightpence yesterday for the volume th&: 
our master left the parish ;* for not a copy can I get, if ia't 
should want to piint again. Six-and-eightpence ? Tha: 
was exactly what he charged his customers for the volume. 
Print five hundred instead of two hundred, and we eoulu 
sell it for three-and fourpence.' 

* And ruin ourselves,' said Machlinia. * Master Wynkru 
I shall fear to work for you if you go on so madly. Wha; 
has turned your head ? 

* There is a record in the parish books of St. Margaret's of the churrt- 
wardens selling for 6s, Sd, one of the books bequeathed to the church l< 
WOIiam Caxton. 



THE CHAPEL. 7 

* Hearken,' said Wynkyn. • The day our good master 
was buried I had no stomach for my home. I could not 
eat. I could scarcely look on the sunshine. There was a 
chill at my heart. I took the key of our office, for you all 
were absent, and I came here in the deep twilight. I sat 
down in Master Caxton's chair. I sat till I fancied I saw 
him moving about, as he was wont to move, in his furred 
gown, explaining this copy to one of us, and shaking his 
head at that proof to the other. I fell asleep. Then I 
dreanied a dream, a wild dream, but one that seems to have 
given me hope and courage. There I sat, in the old desk 
at the head of this room, straining my eyes at the old 
proofs. The room gradually expanded. The four frames 
went on multiplying, till they became innumerable. I 
saw case piled upon aase ; and form side by side with form. 
All was bustle, and yet quiet, in that room. Headers passed 
to and fro ; there was a glare of many lights ; all seemed 
employed in producing one folio, an enormous folio. In 
an instant the room had changed. I heard a noise as of 
many wheels. I saw sheets of paper covered with ink as 
quickly as I pick up this type. Sheet upon sheet, hundreds 
of sheets, thousands of sheets, caSie from forth the wheels 
— ^flowing in unstained, like com from the hopper, and 
coming out printed, like flour to the sack. They flew 
abroad as if carried over the earth by the winds. Again 
the scene changed. In a cottage, an artificer's cottage, 
though it had many things in it which belong to prince^' 
palaces, I saw a man lay down his basket of tools and take 
up one of these sheets. He read it ; he laughed, he looked 
angry ; tears rose to his eyes ; and then he read aloud to 
his wife and children. I asked him to show me the sheet. 
It was wet ; it contained as many types as our '• Mirror of 
the World." But it bore the date of 1844. I looked 
around, and I saw shelves of books against that cottage 
wall — ^large volumeilB and small volumes ; and a boy opened 
one of the large volumes and showed me numberless block- 
cuts; and the artificer and his wife, and his children 
gathered round me, all looking with glee towards their 



8 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

books, and the good man pointed to an inscription on b i 
bookshelves, and I read these words, 

My Library a Dukedom. 

I woke in haste ; and, whether awake or dreaming I know 
not, iay master stood beside me, and smilingly exclaimeJ. 
" This is my fruit." I have encouragement in this dream.' 

* Friend Wynkyn,' said Pynson, * these are distemperti 
visions. The press may go forward ; I think it will p 
forward. But I am of Ihe belief that the press will neTti 
work but for the great and the learned, to any purpose i- 
profit to the printer. How can we ever hope to send our 
wares abroad ? We may hawk our ballads and our merry jes^ 
through London ; but the citizens are too busy to heed them, 
and the apprentices and serving men are too poor to buy thea 
To the country we cannot send them. Good lack, imagine 
the poor pedler tramping with a pack of books to Bri^tl 
or Winchester ! Before he could reach either city througii 
our wild roads, he would have his throat cut or be starved. 
Master Wynkyn, we shall always have a narrow marke: 
till the king mends his highways, and that will never be.' 

' I am rather for trying, Master Wynkyn,' said Letton. 
^ some good cutting jest against our friends in the Abbej. 
such as Dan Chaucer expounded touching the friars. Tha: 
would sell in these precincts.' 

* Hush !* exclaimed W'ynkyn : ' the good fathers arc on: 
friends ; and though some murmur against them, wo migLt 
have worse masters.' 

* I wish they would let us print the Bible, though,' ejacu- 
lated Pynson. 

' The time will come, and that right soon,' exclaimihl 
the hopeful Wynkyn. 

* So be it,' said they one and all. 

' But what fair sheet of paper is that in your hand, gooJ 
Wynkyn?' said Pynson. 

* Master Richard, we are all moving onward. This i* 
English-made paper. Is it not better than the brown thick 
paper we have had from over the sea? How Ite would 



THE CHAPEL. 



9 



ave rejoiced in this accomplLshment of John Tate*s long- 
Qg trials I Ay, Master Richard, this fair sheet was made 
a the new mill at Hertford ; and well am I minded to use 
b in our Bartholomaeus, which I shall straightly put in 
land, when the Formschneider is ready. I have thought 
nent it ; I have resolved on it ; and I have indited some 
Tide verses touching the matter, simple person as I am : — 

* For in this world to reckon every thing 

IMeasure to man, there is none com|4inibIe 
As is to read and understanding 

In books of wisdom — they boi so delectable, 

Which sound to virtue, and ben profitable ; 
And eld tliat love such virtue ben full glad 
Books to renew, and cause them to be made. 

* And also of your charity call to remembrance 

The soul of William Caxton, first printer of this book 
In I^tin tongue at Cologne, himself to advance, 
That every well-dispcwed man may* thereon look : 
And John Tate the younger joy mote [may] he brook. 
Which hath late in England made this paper thin. 
That now in our English this book is printed in/ 

* Fairly rhymed, Wynkyn,' said Lettou. *But John 
^ate the younger is a bold fellow. Of a surety England 
an never support a Paper-mill of its own.' 

* Come, to business,' said William of Mechlin. 




Mark of Wynkyn de Worde.* 



* He always in these marks, associated the device of Caxton with his own ; 
lorying, as he well might, in succeeding to the business of his honoured master, 
id continuing for so many yevs the good work which he had b^un. 



10 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 




Caister Castle. 



THE PASTONS. 

I HAVE a great afiTection for the Pastons. They are ti 
only people of the old time who have allowed me to knp< 
them thoroughly. I am intimate with all their domesiJ 
concerns — their wooings, their marriages, their househoi 
economies. I see them, as I see the people of my own dij 
fighting a never-ending battle for shillings and pence 
spending lavishly at one time, and pinched painfully « 
another. I see them, too, carrying on their public relatici 
after a fashion that is not wholly obsolete ; — intriguing < 
elections, bribing and feasting. I see them, as becou^ 
constitutional Englishmen, ever quarrelling by action ai 
writ ; and, what is not quite so common in these less ai 
venturous times, employing * the holy law of pike and gui 
to support the other law, or to resist. I see them, in thi^ 
pride of fiemiily, despising trade and yet resting upon i 
assistance. I see the ladies leading a somewhat unqni* 
and constrained life till they have become comfortable i 
the matter of marriage; and I see the young gentlcme 
taking a strict inventory of the amount of ready cash tin 
is to be paid down with a bride, and deciding upon elig 



THE PA8TON8. 



11 



ility by this simple rule of the scales. This is all Terj 
difying ; and I am trnly obliged to this gracious family, 
rho, four hundred years ago, communicated with each other 
nd with their friends, in the most frank manner, upon 
very subject of their varied lives. 

The Fasten Letters* carry 
hrough throe generations who lived 
.wring the turbulent period of the 
Vars of the Roses. The first gene- 
ation makes us acquainted with 
»ir William Fasten, a judge of the 
'ommon Pleas, and his wife Agnes, 
^is is a wonderful woman. We 
ee her, at the very opening of the 
orrespondence, scheming for the 
larriage of her sons, and holding 
er daughters in terrible durance, 
'he judge passes on to that assize 
•here no more '/wr sit on the bench 
nd latro stand at the bar.' But then 
omes on the scene, John Fasten, his 
Ider son ; and he, for a quarter of 

century, dwelling now in the 
nner Temple and now in Norwich, 
i carrying on a fight about disputed 
itles to broad lands in Norfolk and 
uffolk, whilst his wife Margaret is 
mting him little tender remem- 
•rances of her affection, or warning 
im against his enemies, or opening 
3 the worldly man in London quiet 
limpses of boys wanting new 
lothes, and girls growing up to be troublesome in the 
mcy that a little love is necessary to their existence. The 
Id grandmother Agnes is still busy amongst them. Then 

* Original Letters written during the Reigns of Henry VI., £dward IV„ and 
ichm-d III. ; with Notes, by John Fenn, Esq. A new edition, by A. Ramsay, 
vols., 1840. 




12 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



John Paston of the Inner Temple passes away, and h 
gallant son, Sir John Fasten, comes upon the stage. He i 
of a gay and fearless nature, winning ladye's love at tonnu 
ment or dance, but a very restless spirit who has sosj 
secret affection which interferes with his certain advaacr 
ment if he would be prudent and marry after the con^ 
fashion. He has need of friends, but Sir John throws thei 
away very recklessly ; and so the great enemy of the Hon?) 
of Paston, the Duke of Norfolk, gets the upper hand, ari 
beleaguers their castle of Caister with a thousand men, d 
takes hold of the fortress and its lands in a summary v^r^ 
well known to the old barons and knights as • disseism 
and which the petty modern ages imperfectly copied wba 
the landlord unroofed a cottage to eject his refractory tenas: 
This latter story of the Pastons is a great romance. 

Margaret Paston, the mother, is the heroine of 'tial 
strange eventful history,' after she became a widow i 
1466. She is a person of prodigious energy, and she bJ 
need of it to cope with the difficulties by which she is ^ 
rounded. She is troubled by the course of politics as vd 
as by that of law. Sir John, the gay soldier, howev^ 
ready to better his fortime in the sunshine of court favoc 
is not very particular whether it be the 'sun of York'^ 
of Lancaster. Her second son, also John, who is calls 
John of Gelston, a curious specimen of the gallant of tlioe 
days, who wears his new hat and looks out for a new lo^ 
with equal indifference, cannot keep out of trouble wk 
swords are flashing all around him. The story of ti 
daughter Margery is a rare exception to the ordinary ]>3 
sages of gentle damsels in those times. It is a tale of tn 
love. There is a younger son at Eton ; and through hi 
we learn a little of the school-life of the fifteenth centun 
and another at Oxford, who is destined for the church, b 
dies young. But whether we see the lady mother and h 
sons in the Norwich of friars and worsted-spinners, vr: 
now and then a noble or even a king glittering among 
the citizens — or at their castle of Caister, a moated fortrn 
some two miles from Yarmouth, where there is a ri^ 



THE PA8T0NS. 



13 



ixrison ever looking out — we always see them under some 
pect of danger and difficulty, and yet putting a brave 
ce upon their perils, and keeping a great calm amidst 
loir hopes. These poor Fastons had an unquiet time of 
; and ,thi8 gives a more than common interest to their 
inals — for their Letters are Annals — as trustworthy and as 
iteresting as any records that have aspired to the dignity 
r History. 
When Dame Margaret Fasten was a fair young maiden, 
id John Fasten came a-wooing, * she made him gentle 
leer in gentle wise.' To the grave Sir William Fasten, 
idge of the Common Fleas, his wife Agnes writes thus of 
le * gentlewoman ' whom John made * treaty * with, being 
i good-humour at the coming alliance : — * The parson of 
fcockton told me if ye would buy her a gown, her mother 
ould give thereto a goodly fur ; the gown needeth for to 
3 had, and of colour it would be a goodly blue, or else a 
right sanguine.' Silk gowns were not come at so cheaply 
L those days as now; and the judge of the Common 




Female Coetume in the time of Henry V^ 

leas might have taken time' to pause before he committed 



14 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

himself to the Howell and James of Cheapside for fiftft 
yards of damask at seven shillings a-yaid. But sim^ 
Margaret Mauteby got her silk gown. It was, we have i 
donbt, the * bright sanguine.' In 1443 she is a wife aa 
mother; and her husband has been sick in the Ibih 
Temple while she is in the conntiy : and her heart is ov<e 
flowing with tenderness ; and she has sent four nobles \ 
the four orders of friars at Norwich to pray for him ; at 
she has vowed to go on pilgrimage to VValsingham : si 
she would rather have him at home ' than a new go^. 
though it were of scarlet.' Dear young Margaret ! B' 
Margaret, when a wife of twelve years, has a loving requr 
to prefer to her husband : * I pray you that ye will do to? 
cost on me against Whitsuntide, that I may have somethii, 
for my neck. When the Queen was here I borrowed ^ 
cousin Elizabeth Clere's device, fop I durst not for shau 
go with my beads amongst so many fresh gentlewomen \ 
here were at that time.' Margaret of Anjou was at Korvid 
in 1462, saying gracious things to the gentry — for Richard" 
York was in arms, — and she sent for Elizabeth Clere, as 
' made right much of her and desired her to have an husbaDil 
Yet Margaret Fasten thinks of more substantial matters tb 
neck-devices : — ' Right w^orshipful husband, — 1 commends 
to you ; I pray you that ye will buy two dozen trenchers I 
I can none get in this town ' (Norwich). Yet with all k 
care the anxious wife cannot wholly please her absent lit? 
band, and she writes, ' I recommend me to you, beseechii 
you that ye be not displeased with me, though my simplent^ 
caused you to be displeased with me.' A few years o: 
ward Margaret is imbued with the unquiet spirit of ^ 
times; and though she begs her husband to buy her 
pound of sugar and a pound of almonds, and ' some friei 
to make of your children's gowns,' she also desires he won 
get some cross-bows and windlasses and quarrels, * for yos 
houses here be so low that there may none man shoot (^ 
with no long-bow, though we had never so much nee^ 
At one time Margaret held the Manor-house of Heylesde 
against my Lord of Suffolk, with guns and ordnance. H 



THE PASTOXS. 15 

3fore that bold march upon London which gave the thxx)no 
» Edward, and sent Henry to the Tower^ there is a letter 
om Margaret Fasten to her husband, ' Written in haste, 
Le second Sunday in Lent, by candlelight at even ;' and she 
ams him to be ' more wary of your guiding for your 
arson's safeguard, and also that ye be not too hasty to 
»me into this country till ye hear the world is more sure.' 
' liat a world to live in ! The poor ^ Bezonian ' had to 
ipeak or die ' for a weak Henry or a profligate Edward. 
!e had to fight for a doubtful inheritance, with cross-bow 
id quarrel ; to make forcible entries, or hold possession 
f writ and sword. His agent writes to him about a 
mse that ' hath been called on as diligently and hastily 
lis term as it might be, and alway days given them by 
lo court to answer ; and then they took small exceptions 
id trifled forth the courts; and alway excused them 
3cause the bill is long, and his counsel had no leisure to 
e it ; and then prayed hearing of the testament of my 
aster and your father, and thereof made another matter, 
id argued it to put them from it because they had em- 
irled to it before ; and then Hillingworth, to drive it over 
is term, alleged variance betwixt the bill and the testa- 
ent, that John Damme was named in the testament Joh 
amme.* This was written in 14C1, and we are even now, 
ree hundred and ninety-seven years later, only upon the 
ireshold of law-reform. What millions have been spent 
J the people of England in paying, not for justice, but to 
Irive it over this term,' since the variance between * John * 
id ' Joh ' was found out by the cunning lawyers in April, 
t61. What jargon has been talked, from that day to this, 
)out tenures, remainders, perpetuities, fines and recoveries, 
ttlements, wills, uses, trusts, leases, mortgages, possession, 
id all the infinite subtleties that have been given to us, 
an especial blessing of Providence, to make the owners 
property miserable, and to reserve something like an 
[uality between the rich and the poor ! 
And so, what with writs of trespass, and suits of eject- 
ent, John Fasten became impoverished, and died suspected 



16 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

and heart-broken, after confinement in the Fleet, in Ma; 
1466. The aspects of the family in the third jear^ 
Margaret's widowhood may be shown in a slight Imagioi' 
Scene, founded upon the letters. 



It is the Wednesday before the feast of Easter, in theva 
1469, in which year the great festival of the Church fell': 
the 2]ld of April. In the dark twilight that preceded tit 
rising of the paschal moon, a small cavalcade of ^^ 
riders pass the little church of Caister Holy Trinity, 
which tiiere is nothing now remaining but a mined tovc 
They had left Norwich at an early hour of the mornk 
but although the distance they had to travel was lees tb 
twenty miles, the highway was then so rotten from a 
rains of the season, that the progress of these riders ^ 
painfully slow. Indeed the two footmen who walk by ^ 
side of the horse which bears their mistress, and carefiii^ 
attend upon her bridle-rein, scarcely make so much exeitii 
to maintain their speed as the weary beasts who constactj 
stumble amongst the deep ruts. The lady is sdmevk 
more than of the middle age ; yet she rides with a ti 
seat, holds herself erect, and complains not of wearmeai 
though she had tasted no food save a small manchet sin 
she had partaken of the lenten white-herring at the hn^ 
fast time of seven. Behind the lady follows the somevb 
impatient steed of a reverend priest, who, with submisski 
be it said, does not endure the long iast quite so patiec'u 
as she of the weaker frame ; and whose restlessness cos 
munioates itself to his horse through the pricking of ti 
spur and the snatching of the bit, which occasional 
manifests that he who governs the quadruped require' 
small portion of self-government to endure the evils of ti 
laborious wayfaring. The lady is the worshipful Mistrt 
Margaret Fasten, widow ; the priest is her chaplain, 3 
James Gloys. Behind them come two led sumpter-mufe 
laden with panniers and other gear, but not having | 
stumble under a very heavy load. The hinds who drive xM 



THE PASTONS. 17 

re themselveB driTen by an upper servant of the lady's 
ouse. The destination of the party is the fair castle of 
aister. It is now a desolate place, whose halls have 
ecome ruinous farm-buildings, and whose moat is a miry 
ond. The weary travellers look up briskly when they 
3e the great tower standing out in sharp relief in the 
vilight, rising high over the hill behind its turrets. The 
orses, who have pleasant recollections of stall and crib, 
rcss into a trot as they pass the church ; and making a 
[lort turn, go cheerily along, till horse and foot halt at 
16 gate of the avenue which led to the drawbridge of the 
western moat. 

The gate is quickly opened by the footmen, who shout 
istily, 'Nicholas, Nicholas^ down with bridge, our lady 
I come/ But no Nicholas is at Iiand to answer; and 
ideed the shouting is somewhat unnecessary, for the 
ridge is already lowered, and the mother of the lord of 
aister rides without challenge into the outer court of the 
3odly castle. No warder from its tower has given signal 
r her approach ; no porter, armed to the teeth, is there 
i make a show of vigilance, if the reality were wanting, 
he dame is angered beyond measure ; but she is silent, 
gain the footmen shout, ' Nicholas I' as they thunder with 
leir staves against the ponderous western porch which led 
irough a corridor to the inner court. Not a light is to be 
sen through window or loophole ; but as the rising moon 
irows a glimmer upon the castle walls, a faint wreath is 
bserved creeping up from the precincts of the kitchen, 
rhich tells that the place is not wholly deserted. The 
neckings are again repeated by the impatient grooms, 
rhoj despite' the presence of the lady and the prie8t, are 
ot sparing of oaths, which, although peculiar to the period, 
tid as such of grave interest to resolute antiquaries, are 
3arcely needfal to be set down by us, who aim at no pro- 
mdity in our archsdological gleanings. At length a lamp 
Limmers through a side slit in the great tower ; and the 
eoman of the buttery, who has charge of the sumpter- 
iules, advances, and with a double oath demands admission. 



18 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



The owner of the voice "within gives no mask to a possili 
enemy without ; but shouts securely below the loopb' 
•Mant come in, bor.* For an instant Mistress Marg^' 
Fasten feels the discomfort, and almost shame, of this r; 
elusion from the shelter of her son's castle — the posse&^ 
which the Fastens were ready to defend to the extres:- 
issue against those who denied their right to its quiet k^i 
ing. She even thinks for a moment that Caister had l^t^. 
forcibly wrested from their hands ; that their enemies i 
within its walls. But a second thought assures her tl 
this could not have happened; for in that case a ber 
watch would have been kept. Her own knaves had tri 
faithless to their tinist. Advancing, with the spirit tii 
becomes her station, beneath the tower — the priest, t.« 
ever, wisely remaining with the grooms in the appreheibii 
of some foe in ambush — the Fasten cries out, with a vto 
of authority, * Who are you, varlet, that deny your mim^ 
entrance ? Come down and unbar the door, or you ^U 
keep your Easter in a lower chamber than you now Li 
in.' Again the voice shouts, • Mant come in, bor.* T( 
lady is incensed ; the priest is cold and hungry ; the y^ 
man of the buttery and the footmen are furious, for ty 
had an undoubting trust that there was supper in :< 
larder, and a fervent hope that there was wine in tJ 
cellar. The point is to find an entrance. They forthv^ 
begin to shout for Feryn Sale, John Chapman, and Bob 
Jackson, men-at-arms that they thought were within t. 
walls ; but no answer comes. Nor is the cry more for 
nate for Eobert Jackson, John Chapman, and Feryn S* 
In whatever way the demand is varied there comes the c 
answer from the one voice, 'Mant come in, bor.' T 
lady chafes and mutters, * Oh, that Daubeney was heit 
have a rule !' She suddenly bethinks her of William PeDE 
a soldier of Calais, lately sent to the keeping of Caister 
whom her son. Sir John Fasten, had written a remarka^ 
eulogy, purporting that he was bald, and as good a man 
goeth upon the earth, saving a little — which little was ti 
he was apt to get a little drunk. So 'William Fennv 



THE PASTOXS. 19 

brthwith shouted, and the courts of Caister echo * William 
i'enny.' It is all in Tain. Some one thinks of John 
Phresher, to call upon in their need ; and at length a 
roice is heard within — 'Up, James Hallman — stand to 
rour tackling — they are over the moat ; up, you drunken 
rarlet ; up, Eawlings ; bills, bills, lights, lights !* The 
houtings within the portal are answered by another faint 
houting from an inner chamber; and now a Babel of 
iounds is rising in The distance, and the voice of the chief 
n command, William Penny the soldier of Calais, might 
)e heard above the general uproar — •Harrow, harrow! 
oselly gadlings ! — bacinets, halberts !' And then this great 
eader, nibbing his eyes, solemnly says — * Here's lachesse. 
Cnow ye not that it is written in the Ordinances for War, 
hat every man be obeysant to his captain, to keep his 
v^atch and ward, and to do all that longeth a soldier to do ? 
luster ! mountee I havock !* Fearful as these * escries ' 
re, the garrison seem not inclined for a sortie ; nor, in- 
eed, would sjiy such inclination have availed them much, 
3r the gates of Caister are all locked upon them. Yet 
[lose without are not wholly free from peril ; and several 
raw close under the dark shade of a buttress, for a quarrel 
:om a loophole might have closed a weary journey with 
nnecessary awkwardness for some one. A sudden relief 
ightfi upon them in the form of Nicholas the porter, who, 
11 unconscious of the presence in which he is about to 
tand, comes singing up to the drawbridge, with a basket 
n his shoulder and a keg slung to his side. The yeoman 
f the buttery, his old and faithftil friend, advances to meet 
iim, as he stands irresolutely on the bridge, seeing unex- 
ected company. *0h, Nicholas, Nicholas!' ejaculates the 
iBflictcd yeoman, • what could lead you to desert your 
ost?' 

* Hunger,' stoutly answers Nicholas. * Hunger, what has 
lade many a bold man run afore now.' 

'Hunger!' interposes Dame Margaret; *who presumes 
5 talk of hunger in Sir John Paston's castle of Caister ? 
richolas, Nicholas, if you had not been porter of old to Sir. 

c 2 



20 



OX.CE UPON A TIME. 



John Fastolf, of blessed memory (* Whom God assoill'aii 
the priest), I would discharge you on the spot. Let no oa 
talk of hunger in this fair castle, as an excuse for tlii 
neglect of duty. No parley here, varlet, but given 
entrGmce.' 

* No parley here, varlet,' echoes the priest. 

The unhappy porter lays down his load, and selects ill 
largest of the keys from the bimch at his girdle. The f^ 
door creaks on its hinges ; and as it gives admission totii 
angry visitors of the inhospitable castle, half a dozen m 
who had slept on in spite of the tumult, start up from tli^ 
nap on the benches of the corridor, and ^ith one void 
exclaim, * Nicholas, have you got the herrings ?' 

Hunger, cold, weariness, offended dignity — all these «« 
forgotten by the mother of the Fastens till she has provi^ 
for the security of their stronghold. During this tedio* 
waiting she has refused to dismount from her horse ; 
now, riding even within the porch, she shouts with a voii 
of captainship for the c^elinquent leader of the men-at-ard 
* William Penny, come forth.' The spirit of soldiery drin 
out the spirit of drink ; and in a moment William Pei^ 
snatches a partisan, and, lowering the point in gracK^ 
salutation, awaits the lady's commands. * William Pem! 
gather your men, and up with the drawbridge.' The cd 
rades have the word from their corpoml and the feat 
done. Again the point of lance is lowered, and again ^ 
lady commands — * William Penny, muster your men in tl 
Great Hall.' The tramp of heavy shoon proclaims that tin 
are finding their way from the portal across the inner co^ 
The lady now dismounts from her steed ; the porter * 
the cook have taken charge of the panniers ; a torch is be 
by the trembling urchin who had shouted ' Mant come i 
bor,* and who now keeps muttering, * M* uncle bod la 
With the dignity of a queen, Mistress Margaret sloti 
paces into the hall, where William Penny and his jb^ 
with pike and cross-bow stand in serried file in the hrijsl 
moonlight which gleams through the traceried winded 
Sir James Oloys follows in amaze, not clearly seeing tl 



THE PAS10N8. 21 

Dfioiirces for supper ; and still more amazed is be when 
be lady passes through the hall to the great stairoase. say- 
ig, ' Gentlemen-at-arms, to your quarters ; Sir James, give 
ou good night.' 

The visits which Mistress Margaret Fasten made to her 
3n*s castle of Caister were not frequent ; and to her they 
rere not pleasant visits. The fair inheritance which the 
'astons had obtained, under the will of Sir John Fastolf, 
roA a doubtful blessing. Its tenure was exceedingly pre* 
arious. Claimants to this great property — ^ a rich jewel 
t need for all the country in time of war' — were there 
)ore than one ; and they were each ready to take by the 
ower of the strong arm what the law forbade them to take 
y any other power than the parchment missiles of the 
Durts. The castle had within it few domestics ; but their 
bsence did not render the place lonely ; for whenever a 
>ldier, English or foreign, who was ready to fight for any 
rase, could be hired. Sir John Paston gave him an intro- 
action to the spacious courts of Caister. Small inquiry 
as there as to the moral qualities of these hirelings, 
here were few moveables left in Caister to excite their 
ipidity ; there was scarcely anything to guard but the 
ire walk. Sometimes John Fasten, the brother of Sir 
3hn (whom we shall call, to avoid confusion, by his fami- 
ar name of John of Gelston), would take the government 
: these ill-disciplined forces ; and as he was a bold and 
cilful soldier, well informed in the warlike science of his 
^y, John of Gelston ruled these knaves with a steady 
gind. Sometimes John Daubeney, a trusty friend of the 
OTise, held the rule ; and then also some order was pre* 
trved* In the absence of these authorities, Mistress 
Margaret Paston occasionally took upon her the very diffi- 
lit task of governing this irregular household. She was a 
ise and a high-minded matron in many things ; but this 
nty was something beyond her capacity, even in her own 
>inion ; and she frankly confessed, * I cannot well guide 
3r rule soldiers ; and also they set not by a woman as they 
lould set by a man/ But, whoever was the commander 



22 



OXCE VVOa A TIME. 



'1 



at Oaister, there ^as one thing atseiitial to tlie 
amall comuitinity, which is equally essential 
gOTerament of tho largest couununitiee, — tliat 
shonld b© fell. Now it niifurtunately happci 
day which wo havo recoixled, tin whicli Dame 
her chaplain took their way fram her comforl 
house at Nonvich to her eon'H eomewhat cheerl 
Oabter, for the piiq^ose of diatrihiiHDg JHan 
following morning to the poor and afllictiid^ m 
lady of a great liouae — tliit* day was marked a 
the absence of even * a lentfsn entertainment/ T 
houaea of that titne^ and, Indeed ^ to a later i>6r 
hauses of earls who lived in almost kinglj alattt 
tics were accnetomed to what were called Sc:ai 
of Lent, which Bishop Percy has interpretc' 
when no regnlar meale were provided^ hut 
*«hiftt*d and wcramhlod for himself as well at 
But in the Caister honsehold, imdcr the nile of 
the acambling days were not conlined to i 
Beason, bnt prevailed with little inteiTuption 
the year. This aiTangcment wafi not the re 
philosophical theory, such as might he deri 
logical induction that aii fasting wa^ nndoul^ti 
OGO aeauon, it might lie eqnally guod at all i 
fiom certain necessities which pressed heai 
family that, in times when private as %vell as | 
were greatly disordered, had more lands tha 
desiring numy things in exchange, had not m 
at hand for conducling ihe exchange upon pr 
could alone satisfy the traders of Yarmouth ai 
upon whose etures the household at Caister had 
precarious dependence. It happened that at tl 
Lent, in the ninth year of King Edward 1^ 
Paaton had reckoned somewhat too strongl 
powers of ahstincnce which were possessed hy 
at Caister ; and thus it also fell out that on tl 
the godd Miati'osfi Margaret amved at the fail 
t nailed castle of hor aou, there was a mutiny in 




THE PAST0N8. 23 

iiich could scarcely be considered an offence, for in truth 
e meal was exhausted, and so was the stock-fish ; mutton 
IB there none in the fold, nor beef in the salting-tub. 
16 beer-barrel, however, was not quite empty ; and to 
at and to sleep had the honest guardians of Caister 
dressed themselves with the utmost eagerness at the time 

evensong, to find some compensation for their morning, 
)on, and afternoon privations. They were angry; they 
ere rebellious. But they had the military virtue even in 
eir sufferings — they would not leave the post they were 
red to defend. Thus it was that when good old Nicholas 
e porter, having shared his last loaf with the men-at-arms, 
id given over expecting his mistress as the night drew on 
le did not reckon upon the unusually bad roads), he started 
f for the village of East Caister, where he trusted some 
nd Christian might succour him with a few loaves and a 
g of herrings. In making this sally he turned key upon 
H companions ; for the beer, although not of the strongest, 
d deranged their brains, weak from inanition. And so 
e drawbridge was down, and the portal shut, when 
istress Margaret Pastou came to the castle. 
The feelings of the widow of John Fasten, first inheritor 

Caister, under this unlucky combination of circum- 
inces, were intensely painful. She seemed degraded in 
e eyes of her own proper household, who lived in compa* 
tive comfort in her dower-house in Norwich. Her esta« 
ishment there was simple and orderly. She had no band 

military retainers to govern ; she had no apprehensions 

violence by day or stratagem by night. Caister was to 
tr a perpetual anxiety. For seven years her unhappy 
isband had struggled to maintain his claims against the 
ost x>owerful noble of the day, and even against the 
pidity of the crown itself. His wife had been left in the 
smantled chambers of the fair castle, whilst he was pur- 
ing the court of Edward lY . with his petitions ; and the 
urt an^^wered by throwing him into prison as a suspected 
siitor. He died, veithout a friend to close his eyes, in a 



24 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



London inn. His family impoTerislied tiiemselves sC 
more, to bestow on the first heir of Caister a most sais: 
tuons funeral. Three years had John Paston slept soimi 
nnder the floor of Broomholm Priory, but the posBession t 
his castle was not one jot more secure to his son, althon^ 
he had been honoured by the king, and could say yni 
Faloonbridge — 

* Well, now can I make any Joan a lady.' 

Mistress Margaret felt d^raded as she entered the cart 
without provender for its defenders. She remembered tl- 
days, happier days for her, when old Fastolf dwelt in i 
splendour and liberal hospitality in this, the oastellats 
house which he had built at enormous expensa She b 
feasted in the Great Hall, in the bright summer sea&c 
when the gold flagons, and ohargers, and standing cups, as 
salt-cellars, glistened in the sunny rays that came into t}u 
spacious room, through the windows rich with heralu 
crimson and purple^, where the columbine flower and t^ 
antelope, the badges of the house of Lancaster, shea 
amidst the or and azure of the Fastolf quarterings. Ss 
had sat, in the days of quiet domestic occupation, in t: 
Winter Hall, when the bright wood fire blazed amidst t^ 
andirons, and the cloth of arras with which the walls vs 
htmg, representing all the gambols of the morris-dafio 
brought the thoughts of May into the gloom of DecemU 
She had knelt in the chapel, where golden candlesticks a: 
chalices, and images of St. Michael and our Lad j, sois 
times appeared to have more associations with worla 
pride than heavenly humility. She had slept in the Ore 
Chamber, and the White Chamber, and the Stranger 
Chamber, all made luxurious with feather beds, and pilloi 
of down, and coverings of arras, and cushions of silk. ) 
those days the buttery was slored with its 'great and hv^ 
bottles,' its tankards\and its quartlets, its napery and ^ 
trencher knives ; and the kitchen was abundantly provide! 
with its brass pots, its pike-pans, its ladles and skimmer 



THE PA8TON3. 25 

ts spits, its dropping-pans, and its frying-pans. 'Now 
y^istress Margaret Paston looked upon bare walls, whether 
n hall or chamber, in chapel or kitchen. The plate was 
^ne, the tapestry was gone ; the feather beds and the 
billows had given place to hai-d straw mattresses; the 
citchen conld boast only a («uldron, a frying-pan, and a 
(pit ; the buttery had no flagons of silver, though it main- 
tained a show of conviviality in the display of six black 
jacks ; the cellars were empty, save that a cask or two of 
liard and sour ale was absolutely necessary to prevent the 
men-at-arms altogether deserting their dreary post. Mis- 
tress Margaret knew something of all this ; but she had 
lot been to Caister for several months, and she little 
expected that the allies which Sir John had sent down«— 
the gentlemanly comfortable fellows/ who had arrived 
XI the preceding November— would have made such havoc 
nrith the white herring and the baconed herring, the salted 
chines and the Dutch cheeses. 

Mistress Paston represses her anger, for she justly con- 
liders that honest Nicholas, who had kept the gate in the 
>ld days of abundance, when he hsd ale and beef without 
ksking, to his heart's content, had scant blame for seeking 
n his own extremity, and to satisfy the clamour of his 
loisy fellow-sufferers, a supply of something to keep life 
md soul together in these long-continued scambling days. 
Eler 801T0W, however, she could not suppress. To conceal 
t from those around her, she retires to the small and some- 
nrhat bare chamber which she reserved to her own use 
vhen sojourning at Caister. But before she seeks to bury 
ler anxieties in sleep, she sends for her yeoman of the but- 
;ery, he who had attended on the sumpter-mules from 
Si orwich, and, like a discreet lady as she is, affects to regret 
he somewhat too earnest piety of Sir John Paston, in com- 
>elliz^ his merry men to keep such sn over-strict Lent. 
That should be at once amended. What did the panniers 
contain that he had brought from Norwich for the morrow's 
Idaundy? The careful man set forth that, humbly pre- 
mming her ladyship's age to be forty-six, he had brought 



29 



OKCE OPOX A TIUE. 



r 



forty-six manclieta of the finest bread far the t 
morrow, and in the same vrsij he had browgh 
salted meat to oit into forty-i^ix portions, each 
receiving the same upon a tj*een pktter, Th 
cl&ima that it is well ; but it has^ occniTml to '. 
tliii* was her son's household, and not her ovra, 
more fitting if the al mesne were I'eguluted by he 
and not by hers ; and so she direotjs that twenty 
platters, with twenty-eight portions of bread 
should be distributed on the morrow, instead c 
eix winch liad been provided* * And so,* saj 
with a meiTy voice, ''let Sir James Gloyt* bless 
ing meat and mauchets for this evening**) snpp 
Nicholas keep his heiTings for the morrow 'i 
And, good William, ask NichoWs wife to con 
be my chamberer» and lot her bring me a slice < 
for I am somewhat vvearj% with a cup of red wii 
yon brought a pitcher or two for Sir James** 

Mistress Margaret Pas ton descends from 1 
chamber, witli a heavy heart, on the Maundj 
whose eve saw her sun*8 retainers wanting a si 
lucky device not suggested it&elf to her invei 
She comes into the Winter Hall, the somewhai 
which, opening into the inner court, is shelten 
keen east winds that blow frora the neighbonrinj 
morning is raw and comf irtless. She looku npi 
walls, and thinks^ of tbc eloth of arras of the n 
with which they were wont to be lined. She 
tipon the hard bench, and the i^emembrance o 
fringed chairs that once combined all the reqnis 
and eonifoJt are present to her memory. She 
tile wide chimiicVi and recollects the polishe 
richly ornamented (it may be) with 

• Two winkiag Cupisls 
DfulvoT, e&yc^h on i>ne foot stnruliag;* 

and she sighs when sho sees, as she had often b 
that they uro BupplanUsd by two coai'se upright 



THE PASTOXS, 27 

ited and nisty iron. These are small matters, but they 
11 a tale. The real present evil is, that there is no fire on 
le hearth, and no attendant appears to procure one. She 
ts down and muses. Early rising is not a custom now in 
le household of Caister ; for it has been found by experi- 
ice that sleep is an abater of those cravings of the inner 
lan which are most imperative in exercise and action. 
.t length the wife of Nicholas appears ; and as fuel is not 

> scarce as salt beef, humbly suggests that her ladyship 
'ould be the better of a fire. Her ladyship assents. In 
ue time her own yeoman of the buttery presents himself 
"ith two of the portions of meat and manchet which he has 
38cued from the eighteen that had been somewhat hastily 
edicated to secular uses. A napery is laid over the rough 
ik table, and Sir James Gloys is duly informed that break- 
kst is ready. A leathern bottle, or black jack, of sour ale 
races one end of the board ; fortunate is it that something 
)mains of a pitcher of red wine, which stands invitingly 
b the other. 

Sir James Gloys, after a short matins, sits down to his 
ugal meal in a state of great abstraction. We are not 
cacti y sure that his meditations are heavenward ; for, in 
nth, he has been considerably discomposed by the events 
r the preceding evening, and by the prospects which he 
ies before him of little difference between the fasts of 
ent and the feasts of Easter while he remains at Caister. 

After an expressive silence, which in some degree reveals 
to struggle of pride which is passing in the breast of one, 
ad of half-blighted hopes in that of the other. Sir James 
t length finds relief in the observation that the court is 
kst filling witb the poor people who are come, according 

> annual custom, to claim the Maundy. Nicholas, the 
drter, knows by experience that the drawbridge should be 
)wered on thi6 occasion ; that there would be almsgiving 
I the hall and prayers in the chapel. He has seen, too, 
le chaplains of his old master assist him in washing the 
tet of the poor in all humility ; and so, being the chief in 
>mmand of the household, he reverently enters to inquire 



28 



ONCE tSrON A TIME. 



whether hb miBtree^, as tbe season was Tei^ 
not prefer that the water with which the cer 
be performed, fihonld be temperateljr hoatet 
refers the ques^tion to tlie priest, 

* With all reverence, worshipful lady/ saye 
* I humbly svibmit that this obsolete portion 
moniftl may be diepeiised with altogether/ 

* Obsioleto, Sir Jamea? How can you caJ 
when kmgi^ and queens are even at thia hour 
imitate the humility of our Divine Maater, wit 
and bifehops to assist thom T replies the ladj, 

* And for that especial reaeon I hold it rigl 
less degree, ehonld in all humility not presn: 
to imitate t!ie example of those whom the Loi 
high/ r 68 ponds the priest, 

^ We have little to give these poor people/ 
lady, 'except the kindness and Christian 1 
manifested in this act, which acknowledges 
God*H image to bo our fellows.* 

* The nuire uecessityi I opine^ for omittinj 
the day*H business which has no substantial 
Tliere will he scant thunka for courte*)iea Kt\ 
when the hand is sent empty away/ conclude 

The reverend chaplain is one of those persoi 
the worhl has been always filled, who hold th 
charity but in almsgiving, and who, indeed, 
the word charity has no other significati( 
Margaret knows that there is an authority w 
exactly support the opinions of the pnest :— 
all my goodi* into merits of poor men, and 1 hai 
it profiteth to me nothing. Charity is ] 
benign/* If the huHs of Caister had bee 
abtindance to feed a multitude, and if the 
ohaphn'n had heaped up the baskets of over 
there ended, something would have been sti 
have given happiness to those who wei*e asftt 
great court on thia Maundy Thursday. "] 

* Wiclif*« Tit^tiilftlion of the Kew T*fstaim*Ji 



THE PA8TON8. 29 

>t abundance, but she has a spirit of love in her bosom, 
»metimea smothered, but the more ready to come forth 
>w at a time when she is not happy, and feels more 
imbly than is her wont ; and so she says that if the poor 
> unfed from the household, they should not go unblessed. 
16 proceeds to the court, and thus addresses them in a 
•ne of real kindness. 

' Friends and neighbours ! — I am come amongst you uni- 
rovided with the usual means of discharging one portion of 
le Christian duty which has been common in this house 
i this day. Before Sir John Fastolf died, at the reverend 
^e of eighty, he distributed his Maundy to an increasing 
imber with his increasing years. When my husband 
me into possession of this house, we each distributed 
aundy according to our several ages, so that the poor 
sre not worse off than before. When he died, you were 
duced to the widow's mite, for my son left me here to be 
3 housekeeper. I am no longer equal to that duty. I 
rell not among you. According to the custom of ancient 
ae, the Maundy must be as the years of the age of the 
-d of the household. I grieve that some of you will 
urn to your homes disappointed. But let us not part 
if there was wrong to be remembered. Let us meet 
;eiher, and 'offer up our prayers together, that God will 
ias and preserve all his children, and give them accord- 
; to their several necessities. Sir James, we follow you 
the chapel.' 

rhere is disappointment, but it is only for a moment ; for 
len did the words of sincerity and kindness ever fail, if 
tressed to an assembled multitude not stirred by passion 
rendered sullen by real or fancied contempt? Men, 
men, and children follow the lady and her chaplain to 
sacred ^place ; and there prayer and thanksgiving are 
jred ; and there, with many a passing word of considerate 
ixiry, of comfort to those who are afflicted, of sym|)athy 
li those who bear their lot in cheerfulness, does the 
;ron kneel at the feet of the old and the youz^, and 
charge her office patiently and gracefully, so as to draw 



OXCE UP05f A TOJE. 



liown many a te^r and many a blessing. J 

raaidenw pcrforaietl the duty alone, tlie fon 
iiitJH5ine88 might have been iiresont ; but %vhi 
bi'cn the spirit that unites the gieat and th 
reverent love before Him who knows no diKl 



Thus* then, is this caetle of Caister a vej 
poBsesEiion to the widow and her sons. It is 
this eame year 1469, tmd Margaret ^Tito 
' Your brgther and his fellowship stand in 
at Cu^ister, and hick vietimls, and Danbetiey 
dead, and divers others greatly hurtf 
gunpowder and arrows, and the place is eoi 
guns of the other party/ j4nd she ealls up 
give them hasty help* But what can Sir Jul 
is nothing to be accomplished withoul 
gunpowder; and the knight has his ow 
« Mother, 1 heseedi yon send me some moi 
truth I have hut ten shillings ; I wot not ^ 
more ; and moreover I have been ten times 
worse, within this ten weeks,' What uan thi 
do in these straits ? * Item, as for money I 
ten pounds upon pledges, and that is ape 
matters here, for paying of your men that w 
and other things ; and I wot nut where to ge 
for surety nor for pledges ; and bb for mine t 
t am so simply paid thereof that I fear me I 
borrow for myself, ur else to break up house 
Yet the good Margaret keeps a great heai 
troubles j and counsels her sou most rigli 
viiiiteth you a« it pleases Him in t^uudry wi 
ye i^hould know I Jim and ser^'o Him bcttei 
done before this time, and then He will e 
graeo to do w^ell in all other things ; and 
remember it right wclh and take it patii^n 
God of his visitation ; and if auytliing have 1 
otherwise than it ought to have been before 
pride or in lavish expensei*, or in any other ' 



THE PASTONS. 81 

fended God, amend it, and pray Him of His grace and 
Blp, and intend well to God and to your neighbours/ Is 
)t this a noble woman? It is in adversity that such 
itures are matured. 8he has had a hard life-struggle since 
d Sir William gave her that silk gown tliirty yean ago ; 
it there is no weeping and wringing of hands with her. 
16 has her work to do, — and she does it, though seme- 
mes in a stem way, with slight pity for human infirmities, 
vidently her belief is that ' to be weak is miserable, 
ling or suffering.' Let us look upon her under another 
poet — the severe^ mother, exhibiting the harshness of the 
»me8tic relations between parent and child, yet in her 
cret heart most loving. This is a Shadow of a Reality. 

Young Margery Paston is sitting in the accustomed 
litude of the Brown Chamber in her mother's dowry-house 

Norwich. The chaplain. Sir James Qloys, has inter- 
pted a letter addressed to Margery. The young lady is 
3, object of constant anxiety and suspicion — ^watched — 
rsecuted. Up to the age of twelve or fourteen she had 
m little of her parents, but had been a welcome inmate 
the family of Sir John Fastolf, at Caister ; who, in his 
esses of the fair girl, indulged the strong afiection which 
. men generally feel towards a playful and endearing 
Id. He had no children of his own, and little Margery 
B therefore a real solace to the ancient warrior. There 
3 another child, a few years older than Margery, who was 
aitted to play, and to learn out of the same book, with 

daughter of the Fastens. This was Eichard Calle, the 
y sou of an honest and painstaking man, who' acted in 

capacity of a steward for Sir John Fastolf, and conducted 
ny of the complicated affairs with which the old knight 
ased himself in the evening of a busy life — his friends 
^plaining of ' the yearly great damage he beareth in dis- 
•sing his money about shipping and boats, keeping a 
[se Tip at Yarmouth to his great harm, and receiveth but 
fifer and ware for his corns and his wools, and then must 
ie a long day to make money.' 



32 



OHCE UPON A TIMK. 




liiahfti^ Calle lia« now grDwn mto raai 
reputed to have received a goodly inlioritj 
Mlieft which ho has inereaised by provident 
trade p \Mien tli^ Fastona \vaut4?d moGey^ 
alwaj's to be applied to. But he haa premii 
his playfellow Mai^cry with tbo language of 
though Bir John Paston liad once said that 
Richard Calle iwight have his doworle&s eietei 
for he had always been a warm friend of tl 
mother ih indignant that a trader sliould pr* 
of iiiaTr>dng into a gentle family ; and John * 
second son, in an hour when the fortnnes 
seemed in tbo ascendant, has Towed that 
* Bhonhl never have my good- will for to raak 
sell candles and mtistard at Framlingham.* 

Mai^ery Fasten sits in the Brown Chain 
bright-bine eyea dimmed with tears* She ie 
to forget her own soitows by reading a tale 
griefs, which for four hundred years has m 
with a teaiiesB eye* She is at that pty^sage c 
Tale ' of Chaucer, where Grisildis has her ir 
taken from her, under pretence that it is 
death : — 

* Bai, at the lust, to Bp<^en sHp ^pin, 
And mwkdy &h<^ to the flerjftant pray "J 
{So m III? wu a worth? gvtitleniAn) 
Thnt the migfal kiss her child en thut H dciil [ 
^ji^l in her harrm [Iftpj thw little t:hild who IMd 
With f(iIL sul fncv, nnd *^i the child to blisA, 
AnA lulled It* nnd nftt^f 'giui it kij^s/ 

The door of the ehamher is hastily open 
servant stands before Margeiy with a face oi 
in that household love the gentle maiden ; s 
man, seeing the tear in her eye, bids her be 
for though hiB worshipful mistfese is now i 
impatient humour, and demands her instant 
the Oaken Parlour, she is a good lady at hes 
»oon forgive any slight cauj^e of offence. 



THE PASrrONS. 33 

Dame Paston has called in two allies to oonstitnte, with 
rself, the tribunal that is about to sit in judgment on 
irgery Piston. Dame Agnes Paston, the aged mother of 
» late heir of Caister, sits at the table with her daughter- 
law and the priest. 

Hargery enters ; and, in a moment, is kneeling at the 
t of her mother, with the accustomed reverence of child 
parent * Oh, minion,' says the mother, ' rise, I beseech 
z ; it is not for such as you to kneel to a poor forlorn 
low, left with few woridly goods. Mistress Calle has 
nteousness all around her, and has nothing to ask of 

worid*8 gear. She has her good house at Framling- 
a, and her full store at Norwich. Mistress, know you 

price of salted hams at this present? Are pickled 
rings plenteous ? We have some wool in loft, which 

should not be unwilling to exchange for worsteds, 
w say you Mistress Dry-goods ; will you deal, will you 
ffer?' 

fily mother, what mean you ? 

3b, minion, you know full well my meaning. You are 
Eilien from your family. You are betrothed to a low 
er, with no gentle blood in his veins.' 
Fhe good Sir William Paston, Knight, and whilom 
^e of his Majesty's Court of the Common Pleas, would 
from his grave to save a granddaughter of his from in- 
arrying with mustard and candle,' quoth the ancient 

•Faugh! a factor!' 
Lnd one whom I shrewdly suspect to be a heretic,' 

the priest, looking earnestly at Mistress Margaret 
on. 

^h, my mother, why am I thus persecuted T 
Persecuted, forsooth I' responds the elder dame ; • I took 
r rule with my daughters; and well do I remember 
when Elizabeth Clere, my niece, tried to intercede 

xne for her wilful cousin Mary, forasmuch as she had 

'•beaten once in the week or twice, and sometimes 
» in a day, and had her head broke in several places," 
3. her that it was for warning and ensample to all 



34 



ONCE tJPOSf A TIME. 



i 



forward maidens wlia dared to think of loi 

without their parents' guidance. And with 1 
worthy lord, the good Sir WUliam Pa&ton, 
Judge of His Majesty *s Court of thts C'onim 
l^Iajostj rieniy the Sixth gave him two 
hundred marks yearly ; and may God Inm 
\m throne -^ 

Tlie priest and Mistress Mai^ret drowia 
lady's isomewhat disloyal gratitude (seeing 
of York is in the ascendant) by judicious cl 
voice, as they prepare t^j read the inter© 
Hichard Calle, with sundry glo&ees. 

'Minion/ says the mother, * know you t] 
tion ?' 

* It ia a letter from my own Bichard/ crie 
girl J ' will you give it me T 

* Assuredly not. Tt convicte you of bein^ 
01" it lie« itiielf* Did you not, with the 
custody, and bread and water, and may be 
stripes, before you]' eyes, affirm that there 'w 
between the dry-goodsmau and yourself?' 

*" Mother, I own my sin ; I did affirm it^ bi 
and I am penitent/ 

* Vile brethol !' exclaims the mother* 

* She mentioned it not, oveu under the sea 
adds tho priest. 

' Yos, once in the week or twice, and son 
day, and she niado an excellent wife, bj 
frequent beatings, and brought up her chih 
fiidiloquises the old lady. 

' Daughter, I conjure you to hear what tl 
t'alle sa}'eth to yon. Tell me, that it is fale 
he is a bold liar, when he affirmcth that you 
and you shall at once have all freedom 
pleasure ; hut if not * 

* Mother, I listen/ 

*llear, then, what this abominable bil 
James^ pleaa^ to read,* 



THE PAST0N8. 35 

* •* To Mistress Margery Faston : 

* " Mine own lady and mistress, and before God very true 
ife, I, with heart fall, very sorrowfully recommend me 
ito you, as he that cannot be merry, nor nought shall be, 
1 it be otherwise with us than it is yet ; for this life that 
B lead now is neither pleasure td God nor to the world» 
nsidering the great band of matrimony that is made 
twixt us, and also the great love that hath been, and as I 
ist yet is, betwixt us, and as on my part never greater, 
herefore I beseech Almighty God comfort us as soon as 
pleaseth Him ; for us that ought of very right to be most 
^ether, are most asunder. Meseemeth it is a thousand 

ars ago that I spake with you " * 

Margery here bursts into a passion of tears; and her 
►ther, sJmost weeping too, ejaculates, • My poor child !' 
e priest looks at the lady somewhat spitefully, and 
>ceeds : — 

*' I had liever than all the good in the world I might 
^th you. Alas ! alas ! good lady, full little remember 
y what they do that keep us thus asunder. Four 

tes in the year are they accursed that let matrimony " 

Accursed, are they I* exclaims the priest. * Ban and 
rthema against us, my worshipful lady ! But there are 
ers, I wot, that the Church holds accursed; and this 
e mechanical be one of them, if I mistake not. Did I 

once hear him say — for the varlet ever had privilege to 
ak in this house, when his betters held their peace — did 
Dt hear him once say that his father had told him that 
liad seen the heretic priest, John Waddon, burnt at 
mlingham, and that he (shame that such an unbeliever 
lit presume to speak upon matters of the Church!) 
ight that the knowledge of the truth was not advanced 
Buch terrors, and that those who lit the fires for the 
Lards had no sanction in the Gospel of Christ ? For . 
e own part, I well believe that he has seduced our 
e^liter from her obedience by his false and damnable 
lions. -Mistress Margery, did he never open in your 
;ence the book of that arch-heretic, John Wicklif, which 

d2 



80 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



la called «* The Book of the Now Law '^— i 
in the Constitution of Archbishop Anrndel 
to he read, under pain of the greater ©xct»ni 

The maiden answers not. The prieet» 1c 
at Mistress Margaret Pas ton, a ska her if si 
that there wm a poseibilitj of such a dev 
hfiiTing gone forward ; and Mi stress Mrirg 
colouring a deep red, and then having ai 
speaks no more for good or evil to her dang 
before the priest- He has her secret. The: 
volume in that house, which has teen care 
for half a century, to be looked upon in 
when prj4ng eyes are Bleeping, and in the 
tion, when careful eyeii ai'e waking. Witl 
Mistress Margaret had often spoken of this 
even to possess it was to risk a charge of "^ LoJ 
its penalties. The priest sees his triumph ; 
make an end of as much of the letter as he ch 

' ** 1 nndc^rntand, lady, ye have liad as n 
me iiH any gentlewoman hath had in ihe 
God all that soitow that ye have bad, had 3 
and that ye had been discharged of it ; for ] 
to me a death to boar tlaat ye bo entreated 
ye ought to be ; this is a painful life that we 
live tlius without it be a great displeasure h 

* He thought not of God's displea^iiure wb 
to speak of love to a daughter of the Tai 
priest. * A gi-anddanghter of Sir William Pi 
Majesty's Justices/ mutters the ancient la 
continues to read the missive ; — 

* ** I snipposo they doom w© be not ensure 
if they do so I marvel* for then they are ni 
retnembenng the plainness that I brake to 
the beginning, and I 8Up|K>se by yon, Iwth ; 
ye ought to do of very right ; and if yc 
contrary, as I have been infonned ye ha% 
neither eonsciencely, nor to the pleasni'e c 
yo did it for fear, and for the time, to pleae 



THE PASTONS. 37 

t that time about yon ; and if ye did it ibr this cause, it 
aa a reasonable cause, considering the great and import- 
Die calling upon ye that ye had ; and many an untrue tale 
as made to you of me, which, Ood know it, I was never 
ailtyof."* 

' And now, pretty Mistress Margery,* says Sir James, 
mil you affirm that this man sayeth untruly, when he 
yeth that you are ensured together? You have before 
id that you are not so ensured. Will you oast off your 
other and your brothers to be the wife of a low factor, 
id a companion for idle queans and the wives of fat bur- 
(sses, instead of wedding some noble knight, who will give 
>u a castle to dwell in, with all worship and authority ? 
3ny the contract ; there is guilt in affirming it, even if it 
d been made in a moment of imprudence.' 
' Sir James Gloys, and you, my honoured mother,' answers 
3 maiden, * Richard Calle says truly, that I did not con- 
encely, nor to the pleasure of Qod, when I concealed our 
itract for fear, and for the time. We are betrothed ; and I 
oice in tlie handfasting. No pain, no fear, shall ever again 
d me to deny it. He is my true husband, and may I ever 
to him a reverent and loving wife. For who can I love 
I have loved, and do love, Richard Calle, — the com- 
lion of my childhood, the instructor of my girlhood ; a true 
n, as brave as if he were the sturdiest of belted knights 
us wise as if he were the clerkliest of learned scholars ? 

has abundance ; he is generous. When did a Fasten 

Bichard Calle for aid that his hand was not open ? We 
y not want his help just now ; but if the time arrive, and 
jredly it may be not far off, that hand would be again 
etched out for succour. Come Richard Calle of gentle or 
pie, I heed not ; he ia my own true man, and to him is 

faith plighted, for ever and aye.' 

Twice in a day, and had her head broke in several 

3es,' grumbles the ancient dame. 

This and the preceding passages are given literally from Calle's letter in 
;>a8ton Collection. 



'38 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

'Mistress Margery,' responds ihe priest, 'yon di- 
take your own course. But this is not now a matter 
daughter and mother to settle between them. It r\ 
before the Lord Bishop. In the name of Holy Churcl 
prohibit all intercourse by message or letter betwe 
Bichard Calle and yourself. You must be in strict dun: 
for a short season ; and then a higher than us shall ded>. 
contract or no contract. Heaven forfend that I, or a: 
servant of the altar, should let matrimony.' 

*' My child, go to your chamber/ whispeiB the subd: 
mother. 

The Michaelmas of 1 469 is nearly come. Margeiy Tsa 
16 still in durance at her mother's house. Every art : 
been tried to make her deny the betrothal. The pries: ^ 
worked upon the fears of the mother— the daughter I 
been studiously kept from her presence. But this stat 
things cannot abide^ Dame Margaret thus writes to Six tl 
Fasten : ' I greet you well, and send you God's blesd 
and mine ; letting you weet that on Thursday last wa&i 
mother and I were with my Lord of Norwich, and d< 
him that he would no more do in the matter touching y 
sister till that ye, and my brother, and others, that « 
executors to your father, might be here together, for i 
had the rule of her as well as I ; and he said plainly 1 
he had been required so often to examine her, that he v^- 
not, nor would, no longer delay it ; and charged me, in ] 
of cursing, that she should not be deferred, but that 
should appear before him the next day. And I said pk 
that I would neither bring her nor send her. And.1^< 
said that he would send for her himself, and charged < 
she should be at her liberty to come when he sent for b 

On the next day —it is a Friday — Margery Past^Ti 
brought into the Bishop's Court. There, surrounded * 
the panoply of the Church, sits old Walter Lyhart- 
that built the roof of the nave, and the screen, of Kor' 
Cathedral. The maiden trembles, but her spirit lec^ 



THE PASTONS. 39 

ibroken. The buhop puts ker in remembrance how she 

ks bom, — what kin and friends she has — ' And ye shall 

,ve more, young lady, if ye will be ruled and guided after 

em. Bat if ye will not, what rebuke, and loss, and shame 

11 be yoors ! They will evermore forsake you, for any 

od, or help, or comfort that ye shall have of them. Be 

)11 advised. I have heard say that ye love one that 

ur friends are not well pleased that ye should love. Be 

vised — be right well advised.' 

'I am the betrothed wife of Richard Calle. I must 

^ve to him for better for worse.* 

* Hehearse to me what you said to him. Let me under- 

ind if it makes matrimony.' 

' We have plighted our troth — we are handfasted. How 

a I repeat the words ? Bichard said Oh, my lord ! 

ire me. I am bound in my conscience, whatsoever the 

•rds were. If the very words make not sure, make it, I 

seech you, surer ere I go hence.' 

^d then the bishop dismisses the maiden with many 

wns. 

[iichard Calle is summoned. He briefly tells the time 

1 place where the vows were exchanged. The bishop is 

vildered. He scarcely dare hesitate to confiim the 

rriage. But the subtle priest is at his side, and he 

ispers the fearful word of ^Lollardie.' Then the 

hop hastily breaks up the court, and says, * That he 

(posed there should be found other things against him 

t might cause the letting the marriage ; and therefore he 

tild not be too hasty to give sentence.' 

largery Paston stands again upon her mother's threshold. 

3 aged servant is weeping as he opens the door : ' Oh, 

dear young mistress ! I am commanded to shut this gate 

inst you.' The figure of Sir James Gloys looms darkly 

he hall. * Begone, mistress !' he exclaims. * I will go 

ny grandmother,' sobs out the poor girL * Your grand- 

iher banishes you for ever from her presence,' retorts the 

rlisli priest. 

t is night. The pride and purity of the unhappy 



^ ONCE Uiiov i ^ 

' j« hnt^ ■ . ^^^^i W lu. ' *»d tills -^r^ • -Kathii 



THE PAST0N8. 41 

b game is up. It is pleasant to learn that this rash 
ston escapes veiy easily ; for in a fortnight after the final 
'uggle, * Sir Thomas Wingfield sent for me, and let me 
ow that the king had signed my bill of pardon/ Out of 
3 battle-field these Yorkists and Lancastrians were not a 
nguinary race. When their passions were high, and their 
mess on, they fought without flinching — a very brave 
biless race. They did their work efiectually ; but that 
ne, and a head or two upon London bridge, the lords 
mt quietly back to their castles and the tenants to their 
^ughs. The world would go on in its own way, though 
arwick the king-maker had fought his last fight. And so 
hn Fasten, even amidst his tribulation, writes about his 
wks and his horses ; and in another year is very busy 
out elections at Norwich. Sir John would be a knight 

the shire ; but my Lord of Suffolk and my Lord of 
)rfolk willed it otherwise ; and John of Gelston was fain 
dismiss his brother's friends, though he had paid nine 
tilings and three half-pence for their entertainment. But 
r Lady of Norfolk is a firm ally of Sir John ; and her 
3nt writes to the bailiff of Maldon, * certifying you, that 
' said lady for her part and for such as be of her council, 

n&ost agreeable that both ye and all such as be her 
mors, and tenants, and weU-willers, should give your 
[ce to a worshipful knight, and one of my lady's council, 
• John Fasten.' It is very pleasant to know that, even 
ir hundred years ago, farmers and tenants were canvassed 
ist courteously by great duchesses ; and that, although 
' Lords of Suffolk and Norfolk were agreed who should 
knights of the shire, the burgesses of Maldon required 
Little coaxing even from the castle of Framlingham. 
aly polite ia the great lady^ There is no intimidation ; 
threatening to dispossess tenants, or to take away custom 
m cheesemongers. The truth is, that the greatest in the 
id depended very much upon the good wUl of the culti- 
;oTs and the traders ; and though they sometimes racked. 
MXi by purveyance afld other devices, they had to deal 
tb a sturdy race who knew that * the toe of the peasant ' 



42 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

had oome ' near the heel of the courtier.' With all . 
fighting that was going on up and down, the commoii! 
were prospering ; and thus the great lady's agent, altii i: 
he just hints that he is coming for rents, asks the sir; 
voices of the lieges in the humblest gaise, praying ' tki 
fail not to speed my lady's intention in this matter, sa 
intend to do her as great a pleasure as if ye gave k: 
hundred pounds.' 

John of Gelston is * on with a new love ;' albeit we i 
not told how he was • off with the old.' Mistress Al] 
Boleyn and Mistress Katharine Dudley exeunt, Ir 
Mistress Elizabeth Eberton. His ' fantazy ' inclines to z 
lady, even 'if Eberton would not give so much ^ 
Mistress Elizabeth his daughter as I might have witli : 
other.' The other ! John Paston, with his * tawny f:^ 
furred with black, and his doublet of purple satin, i^ 
doublet of black satin,' may throw his handkerchief firs 




Male Costnme in the time of Henry VI. 

one and then at the other in a very Turk-like and im^ 
tible ^fashion. John is not so nice now as when he vc^^ 
his sister should not wed * for to sell candle and mo^^' 



THE PASTOXS. 43 

Framlingham.' He requests Sir John, 'ere that ye 
>art out of London to speak with Harry Eberton's wife, 
.per, and to inform her that I am proffered a marriage 
London which is worth six hundred marks, and better, 
th whom I prayed you to commune, inasmuch as I 
gbt not tany in London myself ; always resenring that 
BO bo that Mrs. Eberton will deal with me, that you 
mid not conclude in the other place.' Good plain words 
ise. We do these matters pretty much in the same 
rit, but our hypocrisy will not permit us to talk of a 
[y-mother dealing with us. Sir John Fasten has no 
ecure with this mati-imonial diplomacy. He is not only 
commune with the draper's wife, but he is desired to 
>mmune with John Lee and his wife, and to understand 
w the matter' at the Black Friars doth ; and that ye will 
) and speak with the thing herself, and with her father and 
ither.' He means no harm when he calls the young lady a 
ling ' — it is a pretty, endearing phrase which shows his 
e for six himdred marks. We presume that the * thing ' is 
I riTal to the draper's daughter. But th^re is a widow in 
i wind. * Also that it like you to speak to your apothe- 
y, which was sometime the Earl of Warwick's apothe- 
y, and to weet of him what the widow of the Black 
iars is worth, and what her husband's name was — he can 
L all for he is executor to the widow's husband.' John 
i marked the widow down, though he does not even 
ow her name. A few months before, he was unlucky 
th a widow, for his brother writes to him, * I have done 
' devoir to know my lady Walgrave's stomach, which, as 
d help me, and to be plain to you, I find in her no matter 
r cause that I might take comfort of. She will in no 
se receive nor keep your ring.* But there is comfort in 
)8pect. Nothing discouraged, John now writes to his 
)ther, * I understand that Mistress Fitzwalter hath a 
ter, a maid, to marry ; I trow an ye entreated him, she 
ght come into Christian man's hands ; I pray you speak 
th Master Fitzwalter of that matter.' She does not come 
;o the hands of that disinterested Christian, John Paston ; 



44 ONCE UPOX A TIME. 

for Sir John says, • You make you sm'er tlian I deem ' 
be, for I deem that her friends will not be conteDt «i 
Bedingfield's surety nor yours.' They made hard acd) 
bargains, these dealers in wares matrimonial. For:: 
however, is at length propitious. Dame Elizabeth fo 
hath a daughter Margery ; and the dame looks favc^m^ 
upon John, who is Margery's cousin. Sir Thomas Bi^ 
will give a hundred pounds, and her grandfather t 
marks ; and the good mother writes, * an we accord I « 
give you a great treasure, that is a witty gentiewoman. * 
if I say it, both good and virtuous; for if I should i 
money for her I would not give her icfr a thousand pona 
This, at last., is a pretty wooing, with, some heart 3 
on one side at least. The lady-mother writes to J^ 
• Upon Friday is Saint Valentine's day, and every -2 
chooseth him a mate ; and if it like you to come on Tzi 
day at night, and so purvey you that you may abide ti 
till Monday, I trust to God that ye shall so speak to ei 
husband; and I shall pray that we bring the matter* 
conclusion.' The young lady soon came to a concl^ 
herself after that Valentine's day. Here is as pretty a J 
letter as ever sprang from womanly tendemess, abo^ 
doubt or disguise : * Right Reverend and ^^*OT8hipflll. • 
my right well-beloved Valentine, I recommend me « 
you, full heartily desiring to hear of your welfare, ^ 
I beseech Almighty God long for to preserve unti' 
pleasure and your heart's desire. And if it please tc^ 
hear of my welfare, I am not in good health of body nc 
heart, nor shall be till I hear from you. And my ladv 
mother hath laboured the matter to my father full diligeci 
but she can no more get than ye know of, for the ^^ 
God knoweth I am full sorry. But if that ye love me 
I trust verily ye do, ye will not leave me therefore ; fc 
that ye had not half the livelihood that ye have, for to 
the greatest labour that any woman alive might, I W' • 
not forsake you.' Charming Mai^ery Brews! ^^• 
a disgrace to manhood is it that cold John Paston went^ 
chaffering for months about the ready penny ; whilst J 



THE PA8T0NS. 45 

>msLB Brews wotild in no wise depart from the final pro- 
il — two hundred marks, and board for three years if the 
Tied people chose to accept it. In a year they are 
Tied ; and the ' Bight well-beloved Valentine ' is ad- 
3sed by Margery as * Right reverend and worshipful 
band.' But the old trouble of the house is still hang- 
over them. John Fasten writes in 1479, ' It is told 
that Nicholas Barley, the squire, hath taken an action 
iebt against me this term. I pray you let Wheatly or 
lebody speak with him, and let him weet that if he sue me 
;ly this term, that he shall be paid ere the next term be 
in end. It is about six pounds, and in faith he should 
'e had it ere this, time, an our threshers of Swainsthorp 
L not died.' There was a grievous sickness in the land, 
in has com in his bams. The threshers die ; and Squire 
rley must be asked to sue John softly till the wheat can 
turned into cash. The great landed proprietors of that 
3enth century had some troubles of which their descend- 
8 of the nineteenth are happily ignorant, sorely as they 
'6 been complaining from that day to this, of their 
iuli&r burdens and' injuries. The Fastens, brave souls, 
ght against fortune, but they made slight moaning. 
iVhilst John Fasten had been wooing and marrying, 
star has been recovered by the ejected family. The 
ke of Norfolk dies, and Sir John Fasten walks in. He 
surrounded by troubles. A lawsuit starts up with 
ncle Clement ;' and there is an old suit with the Duke 
Suffolk ; and poor Sir John, with his castle of Caister, 
1 his manors here and there, is in pitiful straits ; and 
>d ancient Margaret, the mother, is the depositary of his 
efs, his friend and best counsellor. He has taken his 
wn of velvet and other gear out of pledge, at the cost of 
e marks : he had hoped to have borrowed of Townsend, 
t Townsend is ill. If he has not ten pounds, he can do 
tie good, and wots not how to come home. * This gear 
th troubled me so that it hath made me more than half- 
ik, as God help me.' Foor solitary Sir John, within a 
inighty is dead in London, and buried in the White Friars. 



46 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Old Agnes, the grandmother, dies about the same ir 
John, the second brother, is now Lord of Caister: : 
he seems to ha-ve prospered better than his brother c? 
fiather; for he is high-sheriff of Norfolk, and a kuk' 
banneret before he is gathered to his ancestora in 1- 
He and his Margery dwell in Caister. On the 24ti 
December, 1484, the loving and careful wife vr 
' Bight worshipful husband, I recommend me nnto y 
please it you to weet that I sencf your eldest son tj i 
Lady Morley, to have knowledge what sports were tsri 
her house in Christmas next following after the deceav 
my lord her husband ; and she said that there were i - 
disguisings, nor harping, nor luting, nor singing, nor s 
loud disports ; but playing at the tables, and chess, .: 
cards ; such disports she gave her folks leave, to plaj. ' 
none other,' 

Who is sorrowed for, so that the harp and the lute ^ 
the voice of song are hushed this Christmas at Cai^" 
Margaret Paston, who wore her * bright sanguine ' weddia 
gown in 1440, is gone to sleep beside her husbani' 
Broomholm Priory. 

These Paston Letters were written in the days before 
Post. Carriers there were, and pack-horses, and tn^ 
who went from Norwich to London at Bartholomew H 
and these might convey a letter safely. The great pecf 
could afford to send a letter by a special messenger, ^ 
• Bide, ride, ride for your life.' But the Pastons avai 
themselves of less costly modes of communication. 

The Paston Letters were written in the days bei^ 
Newspapers. They tell of public events as fully a5 
private. Their news is a little old in its date — ^but ^ 
matters that ? The light of a star may be centuries com^ 
to us, as the astronomers hold ; but it is not less a lisJ 
when it has come. Sir John Paston writes, in a letter 
his mother in the spring of 1475, to tell the news of ^ 
battle of Morat, which was fought in the autumn of 1^' 
•Our own Correspondent' would have despatched ti 



THE PASTOKS. 47 

ings somewhat more quickly ; but perhaps not quite so 
apendiously : * After this conquest of Lorraine, the 
ke of Burgundy took great courage to go upon the land 
the Swiss to conquer them ; but they bearded him at an 
set place, and hath distressed him, and hath slain the 
>st part of his vanwaid, and won all his ordnance and 
illery, and moreover all stuff that he had in his host, 
26pt men and horse that fled not; but they rode that 
;ht twenty miles; and so the rich salets, helmets, 
rters, nowches, gelt, and all is gone, with tents, payilions 
d all, and so men deem his pride is abated.' Look at 
•mines, and you will find that Sir John had got to the 
>t of the matter. 

The Fasten Letters were written in the days before 
jxks. This distressed family seem luckily to have kept 
t of the hands of the Jews ; but if it had been thought 
nest in those days to take interest, the perpetual labour 
i humiliation to scrape together a few pounds might 
ve been avoided. But what could bankers have done for 
3m in anticipation of rents, when there was little 
change of commodities, in a country where producers and 
nsumers were widely separated ? 

The Fasten Letters were written in the days before 
>weT-looms ; so that a new coat and a new gown were 
itters to be very earnest about, even with a knight- 
nneret and a lady of the manor. 

The Fasten Letters were written in the days before the 
dnting-Fress ; and so, some may marvel that they are so 
3arly expressed, and have so many just thoughts, and are 
r the most part earnest and to the purpose. The very 
sence of any character derived from a current literature is, 
^htly considered, a charm of this correspondence. Ko- 
Eoices, indeed, the ladies had to read, of Arthur, and Guy, 
id Kichard Coeur de Lion: and they had many an old 
kllad, now preserved or lost ; and they had legends of the 
tints. Sir John Faston had a library of which an inven- 
ry is left, consisting altogether of thirty-four volumes. 
f these one was • in print.' Anne Faston (of whom we 



48 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



bear little) had a book, * Tbe Siege of Tbebes.' Batce 
gentleman nor lady bad mucb opportunity for litera ^ 
even tbougb one of tbe greatest of poets bad long b: 
opened bis • well of Englisb undefiled.' Tbere is ncc J 
allusion to Cbaucer in all tbis correspondence of fifty yc. 
Tbe Paston Letters were written in tbe days beforv : 
Reformation, altbougb tbe morning sky sbowed stre&I 
tbat day-spring; and so we bave glimpses of friare- 
pilgrims ; and Sir Jobn Paston tells a tale of *• a visiod ^ 
about tbe walls of Boulogne, as it bad been a wonum ^' 
a marvellous ligbt ; men deeming tbat Our Lady there ^ 
show herself a lover of tbat town.' Let us not laugh a: ' 
undoubting mind of Sir Jobn Paston. With toucbt^ 
what we call superstition, tbere was, amongst these pec; 
a deep abiding sense of God over all — a pai-t of the revere! 
tbat was a great characteristic of our nation — of chiic 
for parents, of servants for masters, of wives for husbasi' 
of tbe laity for tbe church — Once upon a Time. 



f 




Framlingham Castle. 



{ 49 > 



THE DISCOVERER OF MADEIRA. 

is the beginning of June : the year 1419. Two small 
isels are leaving the port of Lisbon. The Infant Dom 
nry waves his hand from the quay, as the commander o 
» little expedition bows profotindly from the deck of the 
ding ship. That commander is Gonzalves Zarco. 
Wliere is Oonzalves sailing when he trusts his ships to 
) broad bosom of the Atlantic? Where, without the 
ides of modem navigation? Charts he has none. He 
i heard that Marco Polo brought from China to Europe 

> knowledge of an instrument that invariably pointed to 

> North — but he doubts. He will hug the land as long 
he can. The meridian sun and the Polar star must 

ect him in his need. His business is to find the Isles of 
3 West, of which ancient tradition imperfectly whispers. 

14 18, Oonzalves was engaged in exploring the coasts of 
rica. He was shipwrecked on a little island, which he 
11 now endeavour again to reach. 

The seas are calm ; the days are bright and long. If the 
ghts are dark, Gonzalves anchors. He is pretiy certain 

the course. In due time he reaches the small island of 
)rto Santo, in which, last year, he left two or three of his 

5W. 

What is this strange relation which soon meets the ear of 
>nzalve8 — a relation which is to give new ardour to his 
gacious courage, but which has terrors for his superstitious 
amen ? On the north-east of the isle there appears, at a 
Qg distance, a thick darkness^—a motionless cloud — which 
kugs over the sea, and reaches to the sky. That region of 
irkness— is it not the abyss ? There, is the boundary of 
is earth; and beyond, is the entrance to the Shades. 
)metime8 a distant murmur, as of troubled waters, comes 

£ 





60 OXCE UrOX A TIME. 

across the sea. It is the rush of the moumfol mr 
Acheron. Some say, that when the Christians fled fri:: 
oppression of the Moors and Saracens, they found an ii'J 
of refnge in this ocean ; and that from that time a d 
riouu cloud covered that island, so that no enemy c 
come near to harm them. Who shall dare to pien>: 
cloud, and solve these mysteries ? 

Gonzalves sits on the beach of Porto Santo, and : 
again and again in the direction of that cloud. AMien 
morning sun shines bright in the east, the cloud is t: 
When the moon climbs the sky, the cloudy distance is < 
visible. It never changes its place ; its form is ali^-ar^ 
same. Gonzalves will take counsel of Juan de Moralcv 
pilot. 

Juan is many years younger than Gonzalves ; ye: 
forehead is wrinkled with cares that scarcely belong t : 
young. He has passed his boyhood in captivity in JMco o 
He has done servile offices up to the period of manl 
He has been chained to the oar, and rowed his taskma^ 
through many a perilous surf. There is something stp-: 
and mysterious about him. His messmates shun hm^ 
they say he is a Castilian, and an enemy to Portugal. ' 
has the Castilian steadiness, with more than Casd 
reserve. Misfortune has not abased him : he carries hii:* 
as loftily as the proudest of his countrymen ; and 3'et I-- 
of a fairer complexion than those countrymen, and hesp 
their language with a singular mixture of other dialects; 
even of other tongues. But that may come of his 1 
captivity amongst Christian slaves of all lands, tlvi^ 
not popular : but Gonzalves has unbounded confideoo: 
his pilot. 

' * Juan,* says Gonzalves, ' we will wait no longer. I: 
you still your opinion ?* 

* My belief is over the same. That dark mass, so dem 
and unchanging, is a mountainous land, seen throui^ 
constant mist.' 

* You have the confidence of knowledge, rather than 
conjecture. Did you ever hear speak of such a mountain 



THE DISCOVERER OF MADEIRA. 51 

d ? In that quarter, leagues off, must lie the African 
ferts.' 

I bare no knowledge — except my dreams be knowledge. 
Iream of mountains, rising from the sea, covered with 
28 to the very summits ; of ravines, where rivers come 
hing down out of the mountain mists, and rush brightly 
tlie ocean ; of a narrow beach under the mountains, 
ere the waves break wildly, and yet how beautifully !' 

Juan ! you must have seen such a land !' 

Oh no ! it is a dream — a dream of the poor ship-boy's 
leliness.' 

• We will sail to-morrow, Juan.' 
' Good.' 

' Say nothing ; but steer us right to the cloud.' 
The anchors are weighed in the dawn of a summer 
»ming. A brisk breeze soon carries them away from 
rto Santo. There is 'a man of importance on board, 
atncis Alcaforado, a squire of Dom Henry's chamber. He 
keeping a diary of that voyage — a busy inquisitive man. 
' Captain, where are you steering ?' 
To look for the Isles of the West.' 
But you are sailing towards the darkness I' 
' I ihink they lie beyond the darkness.' 
' You are tempting Heaven. See, we are in the bosom of 
nist. There is no sun in the sky. Change your course, 
)Dzalves.' 

* Sir, I must obey my commission.' 

' Look ! there is something darker still in the distance.' 

' I have seen it before — it is land.' 

Juan is at the helm. He steers boldly through the mist. 

is land. The sun is behind that mass of mountains, 
lan must be cautious; there are rocks in that sea. 
^nzalves orders out the boats. There is a loud murmuring 

surf upon a shore not very distant. The sun is mount- 
5 out of the exhalation. The mist is rolling off. There 
9 trees on the hills. The boats may near the shore, 
lory to Saint Lawrence ! That eastern cape first seen, 
id now doubled, shall be the Cape San Lourenfo ! All 

e2 



62 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

are joyfdl but Juan de Morales. It is not the land of : 

1 dreams. The crew gather round the pilot — and greet : 

|| well. But he is silent 

^ There is a streamlet gushing down to the sea. Gon^^ 

commands the crew to disembark. A priest goes with ti* 
The water is blessed. The shore is blessed. The r 
mander of the expedition proclaims that the mjste^ 
cloud-land is a veritable possession of the King of Porr: 
And now they coast carefully along in their boat& T: 
peer into the dark ravines, covered with everlasting fc^ 
Again and again they land. Are there any inhabits: 
Not a trace of human dwelling, not a footprint, not a t* 
that man has ever abided here. Birds of bright plum; 
fly fearlessly about them. They come to a point vt- 
four rivers join in their course to the sea. They fill li 
flasks to carry that sparkling water to the banks c^' 
, yellow Tagus. They bring provisions on shore, sd* 

I down in a green valley where gentle waterfalls are spark : 

around. They penetrate a wood; the rough gales \i 
torn up somo trees. They elevate one tree, and fc:^ 
cross; they kneel, and the priest gives his benedifti 
This point is Santa Cruz. They coast on ; a tongue of- 
stretches far out— a shady covert. Suddenly a fligl' 
jays darkens the air. This shall be Punta dos Gralbo> 
point of jays. Further on, another tongue of tot 

♦ covered with cedars, and this, with the Punta dos Gm^ 

J forms a wooded bay. It shall be the . bay of ceci 

Another valley is reached, and here Gonzalves make^ 

attempt to ascend the high ground: he sees enoug: 

I il satisfy him that what he has discovered is an island. A; 

I ^ Gonzalves leads the way in his boat, and reaches an r; 

' space, where the land is not encumbered with the dc 

»i growth of timber that has everywhere else met their v> 

^ \ The sea-beach to the foot of the mountains is covered ^ 

fennel, ihefuncho of the Portuguese, lliis beach shali 
called Fundhd, 
■il ' What has happened to Juan de Morales ? He stirs n • 

HI he speaks not. He looks upon the sea— he looks up- 



THE DISCOVEREB OF HADEIRA* 63 

nne. Then he mahes to gaze upon the islets which the 
ers of that valley have formed in their perennial ooursee : 
smiles, he weeps ; he sees something very like the land 
his dreams. 

The ships have followed the course of the boats ; but at 
vide berth from the land. They now come into the bay 
Funchal, and anchor in the river : here will the crew 
xt day take in wood and water. They cannot have a 
3asanter harbour. They will sleep in security. The sea 
smooth; the air is balmy. The watch is set ; and Juan, 
Dugh his duty is ended, is amongst the watchers. The 
)ple of the river seems a familiar sound. He listens, as if 
expected some human voice to mingle with that murmur 
waters. The moon rises. The wooded ravine lies 
fore him in deep shadow ; but here and there is a breadth 
silvery light. Is that the figure of a man moving on the 
[ght greensward? The sea-breeze stirs the topmost 
inches of the cedars, and their shadows, Juan, make up 
) semblance of humanity. 

On the morrow the island is again explored. No sign of 
Itivation — ^no trace of man. In the heart of the mountains 
are are mighty chasms, into which the torrents rush, and 
*m gentle rivers. Cedars and chestnut-trees rise into the 
rgy summits of the highest peaks. Myrtles clothe the 
ecipitous declivities. Deep caverns have been dug into 
e sides of the rocks'by the imtiring sea. Hush ! there is 
noise as of the tread of men. A multitude of seals rush 
it from that hollow, with a sudden cty, and plunge into 
e waves. That point shall be Camara dos Lobos, the 
ve of seals. The navigation becomes more difficult. The 
irf is more dangerous on that rocky coast. Gonzalves 
ill return to his ships in the bay of Funchal. He is 
ger to be once more in the Tagas : he has brave tidings 
r Dom Henry. One such discovery is enough for a sum- 
er. But what shall he call this noble island ? He takes 
unsel of the squire Alcaforado, who has been busy with 
s tablets incessantly. He will write a narrative of this 
osperous voyage, which shall be deposited in the archives 



64 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

of Portngal.* The island shall be called Madeiro — the 
island of Wood. 

It is the summer of 1421, and Qonzalvea Zarco is again 
embarking in the port of Lisbon. 

The preparations for this voyage are very different from 
those of the expedition of 1419. One ship, of considerable 
tonnage, is now employed. Large stores of provisions are 
taken into the hold— raisins and olives, and casks of wine 
from Xeres and Oporto. There are live animals too in 
considerable numbers— sheep and goats, and a few mules. 
Cuttings of the choicest vines, and small plants from the 
orange groves, are carefully stowed and duly watered. 
There are implements of husbandry, and artificers' tools- 
spades and axes, anvils and hammers. Tents are there for 
shelter ; spears and bows for defence. There are the netb 
of the fisl^erman and of the fowler. But, in greater^ abun- 
dance than all, packages of clothing. A colony is to be 
founded. 

Gonzalves comes on board with his two sons. They 
carefully inspect a little cabin, that is fitted up with 
unusual luxury. They are satisfied — they go on shore. 
Presently a litter appears, borne by four of the crew, who 
tread briskly under their load. Gonzalves walks before 
them. ^ The* litter is set down on the deck, and a delicate 
girl is lifted out by the sons of Gonzalves, and carried to 
the decorated cabin. She scarcely speaks — she is ill and 
exhausted. The ship is under weigh. Juan de Morales is 
again at the helm. 

The heat of the day is over. The ship has dropped do^rs 
the Ti^is, and passed the bar. The distant vesper-bell u 
sounding into the quiet evening. AnnaZarco is refreshed, 
and begs to be brought upon deck. A couch is made up a: 

* In 1672, was published, at Paris, * Relation Historique de la De'coaTeart' 
de risle de Madferc/ which professes to be a translation fi-om a Portug^ite* 
book, of which the manoacript then edsted. An abstract of this French wM 
which is the narrative of Francis Alcafonido, has been given in a new * BiogT«i}ii^ 
Universelle,' 1852. The French work is stated to be a book of the iik«- 
extreme rarity, and no copy, it appears, is known to exist of the Ponugut^ 
original. 



THE DISCOVERER OF MADEIRA. 55 

the stem. The sick girl speaks cheerfully to her father, as 
she watches the stars coining softly out of the blue sky. 
There is a light in the fort of St Julian, which grows 
fainter and fainter as they sail on. Anna has fixed her 
lustrous eyes on that light It is the last object that * 
marks her native land. It is gone. It mingles with the 
stars. She looks in her father's face. A thought comes 
across him which forces a tear or two. Will Anna ever 
again see her birth-place ? Will she reach her new home ? 

The ship's course is now direct to Madeiro. Every 
evening the feeble girl is brought upon the deck, and lies 
peacefully there, with her thin hand resting in the large 
rough palm'of her father's. She listens with interest as the 
commander talks to his pilot. They talk of the beautiful 
island to which they are sailing, of its pleasant climate, its 
green woods, its sparkling streams. They will land at 
Fimchal. They will run up their houses on that sheltered 
beach; their sheep and goats shaU pasture in the green 
valley between the mountains. They will find clear sunny 
spots on the hill-sides to plant their vines ; they will have 
an orange-grove sheltered from the north, and will water 
their plants by channels from the river, whose streams will 
never fail. ' Quintas ' of olive and maize shall flourish in 
that genial soil. They will have everything for comfort 
soon around them. Gonzalves has the command of the 
island — he will be a kind viceroy over few but happy 
subjects. 

We see the shadow of Oonzalves, after he has landed, 
without storm or pirate to harm him during his passage. 
He has dwelt with his sons and his daughter for a short 
while in tents ; but a house strong enough to stand against 
the Atlantic gales is soon built ; it has abundance of con- 
veniences; other houses are growing up around them. 
Friends have come with Oonzalves to settle with him. An 
ecclesiastic is here to teach and to console. Before the 
equinox, the good ship is to return to Lisbon vdth a dimi- 
nished crew, — and a freight of native curiosities for Dom 
Henry, their patron. 



66 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Let us look at the shadow of Juan de Morales in i^^ 
interval of his sea-life. He comes on shore daily to aesif: 
his captain; he works at the buildings; he cuts timber; 
he dries the reeds and rushes of the watercourses for a readj 
thatch. Juan is handy, and seems to have an almost 12^ 
stinctive knowledge of the sweetest pastures for the sheer 
and the best soil for the com and olives. But Joan has a 
gentler task to perform. Anna Zarco is growing sUxs^ 
enough to take exercise. Juan daily leads her mule np intj 
the shady hills, or along the margin of tiie sea. Sometimes 
when there is not a cloud in the sky, and there is a gentk 
ripple in the bay, Juan strews sweet rushes in his boat, cs 
which Anna placidly lies, breathing the soft air with a sense 
of delight that is the hemld of renovated health. Juaa 
then, tells her the seamen's stories of storm and wreck ; d 
pirates who lie in wait for the defenceless merchant-ship- 
the enemies of all nations ; of Moors, who, in their hatrec 
of Christian people, fiercely attack eveiy vessel that com& 
near their inhospitable coasts, and carry their crews to * 
life-long slaveiy. Juan tells her, too, of distant lands, fisr 
in his own captivity he has gathered much knowledge from 
other captives — of England, especially, and its great Kiog 
Edward, and his wars in France. Of England, Jnan de- 
lights to talk ; and when Anna asks him of his own life, 
before he was in slavery at Fez, he has a confosed storr, 
with something English in his recollections, whioh makes 
her think he is not a Castilian, as the sailors say he i& 
Gonzalves is happy that his daughter is gaining such health 
i^ this daily life, and willingly doc^s he spare his pilot to he 
her guide and companion ; for in a few weeks Juan will 
return to Lisbon, and then, when the house is finished, and 
the quinta planted, he will lead her mule himself, and him- 
self will row her, in bright autumn days, under the shade of 
the mountains. There is a place about three miles oS, 
where Anna's mule is often led by the pilot. He conducts 
her through a narrow defile, when suddenly they are in « 
valley — a mere chasm between the loftiest mountains->s 
solemn place, but one also of rare loveliness — for the 



, THE DISCOVERER OF MADEIRA. 57 

basaltic rocks are clothed with evei^reens, and the oarrow, 
lovel plain has a smiling river ranning through its entire 
length. Jnan delights to bring his tender charge to this 
secluded spot; but here he is ever more than usually 
silent. 

One day, Auna looks in Juan's face, and sees that he has 
been weeping. There is one spot in that yalley which he 
often stops at — a spot marked by a pile of stones. On this 
day, Juan suddenly fiills on his knees at this spot, and prays 
for a minute. Anna is scarcely surprised, for Juan is a 
mysterious man— quite unlike other seamen. She questions 
him. 

' Juan, my kind nurse, for you haye been as a nui-se 
to me in my feebleness, why did you kneel, and why have 
you been weeping ?* 

'Senors! forgive me. I must not tell you. The know- 
ledge that makes me weep is now little more than a vain 
memory. It has nothing in common with my present for* 
tune. I fihall sail again to Lisbon — perhaps never to come 
back. Do not ask me.' 

' But, Juan, I look on you as a brother. I am getting 
well under your c€kre. Will you not confide in your sister ?' 
'Nay, lady! Yet I must speak. You will keep my 
secret. I believe that I knelt at my mother's grave I' 

• Your mother's grave ? How, Juan, could your mother 
ever come to this island, where never ships touched before 
my father's ship ?' 

' It is a wild story, an almost improbable story. But you 
shall hear it. My earliest memories, I once thought, were 
of my task-masters in Morocco, of whom I have before told 
you. I became a slave when I was four or five years old, 
as near as I may guess. There was a companion in my 
fate, who was kind to me — an English sailor. He taught 
me his language : he said he would one day tell me my own 
history. All that I knew was, that the ship in which he 
and I were sailing was captured by a corsair, and carried 
into Fez. I was in captivity twelve years ; but I then 
escaped, and got to Spain. The infidels had made me a 



58 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

skilful seaman, and I bad good knowledge of their coasts. 
After some time I went to Lisbon. I became your &ib^s 
pilot. The Englishman and I had been soon separated; 
but he had told me something about an island in the west: 
and I gladly went with your father in quest of those westein 
islands. When we came here two years ago, it seemed to 
me as if everything were familiar; but yet confused. I 
was in a dream. In the spring of this year an English vessel 
came into the Tagus. I talked with some of the crew. I 
spoke of our discovery of Madeiro, and of the prize it 
might be to the Grown of Portugal. An old sailor said, 
that the Portuguese were not the first discoverers. I grew 
angry ; but the Englishman was confident. I will repeat 
what he said : — *" 

' *' The discoverer of that island was Bobert Machin, mj 
countxyman. Bobert Machin, a bold adventurer, won iht 
love of Anne Arfet, the daughter of a Bristol merchant. 
His suit was rejected by the father ; but Bobert mazried 
her, and carried her off in his ship. They were bound for 
the Mediterranean, but missed their course. Their vessel 
foundered in the Atlantic ; Machin and his wife were saved. 
They reached the wooded island, which you Portuguese 
have named Madeiro. They abode there three or four 
years ; in utter solitude, but contented and happy. The 
wife then sickened and died, lliey had a little boy ; bn: 
Bobert could not endure that loneliness, and he dreaded 
now that he might die, and that the boy should perish. 
He resolved to leave the island as he had come to it. He 
stowed his boat with chestnuts, and with fish dried in the 
sun — the food on which he and his wife had always sub- 
sisted. It was a calm season, and he made good way. OS 
the coast of Morocco an English ship picked him up. 1 
was the mate of that ship. Poor fellow ! his toil and his 
grief had been too much for him. He died in a few weeks 
— his boy was my charge. I was little use to him, for we 
were soon taken by a rover, and carried into Fez. I wish 
I could meet with that orphan boy. But that will never 
her' 



THE DISCOVERER OP MADEIRA. 59 

Anna Zarco bluBhee and trembleB : — ' I know the rest. 
You were that little boy ; and this island is your inheritance, 
and not my father's discovery.' 

* Keep my secret, Anna. I love your &ther, and would 
not rob him of an atom of his honour.' 

Anna Zarco does not keep the secret from her father, 
who is a just man, and not unmindful of his daughter's 
happiness. 

Juan de Morales does not return to Lisbon. 

In a few years there is a pretty cottage, and a vineyard 
in the ' corral,' where, not far from the tomb of stones, 
dvpell other Machins, John and Anne, whose shadows are 
pleasant to look on. 



60 ONCE UPON A TtBO:. 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 

One of the most remarkable pictures of ancient mannen 
ivhich has been transmitted to us is that in which the poe: 
Gower describes the circumstances under which he was 

commanded by King Bichard IL 

■ 

* To make a book after his best.' 

The good old rhymer, — 'The moral Gower,* as Chaucer 
calls him, — who probably resided in Southwark, where his 
monument may yet be seen in the church of St. Marr 
Overies, had taken boat ; and upon the broad river he met 
the king in his stately barge. It was an accidental meeting, 
he tells us. The monarch, who had come most probably 
from his palace of Westminster, where thousands ministered, 
it is said, to his luxurious tastes, espied the familiar iace d 
the minstrel, and stopped him upon that great highway of 
London, which was an open road for the meanest as for the 
highest He called him on board his own Tessel, and de- 
sired him to book * some new thing.' This was the origin 
of the >* Confessio Amantis.* But the poet shall record the 
story in his own simple words : — 

* As it befel npon a tide, 
As thing which should then betide. 
Under the town^ of New Troy, 
Which took of Brute bis firste' joy ; 
In Thames, when it was flowing, 
As I by boat^ came rowing, 
So as fortune her time set,. 
My liege lord perchance I met, 
And so befel, as I come nigh. 
Out of my boat, when he nic sygh (saw) 
He bnde mefCome into his barge : 
And when I was with him at large. 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. Gl 

Among other things said 
He hath this charge upon me laid, 
And bade me do my basineM, 
That to his high worthiness 
Some new thinge' I should boolc» 
That he himself it might look. 
After the form of my writing. 
And thns upon his commanding, 
Mine hearte is well the more glad 
To writf^ M) as he me bede/ 

Nothing oan be more picturesque than this desoription, and 
nothing can more forcibly cany us into the Tory heart of 
the past With the exception of some of the oldest portions 
of the Tower of London, there is scarcely a brick or a stone 
left standing that may present to us a memorial of ' the king's 
chamber'* of four hundred and fifty years ago. There, in- 
deed, is the river still flowing and still ebbing, — the most 
ancient thing we can look upon,— which made London what 
it was and what it is. Nearly all that then adorned its banks 
has perished ; and many of iiie stirring histories of the busy 
life that moved upon its waters have become to us as obscure 
as the legend i>f * New Troy.' 

The ' Prologue ' of Gower, in the true spirit of the ro- 
mantic times, tells us of the town which was founded by 
the Trojan Brute. Here was the fetble which the middle- 
age minstrels rejoiced in, and which History has borrowed 
from Poetry without any compromise of her propriety. 
The origin of nations must be fabulous ; and if we would 
penetrate into the dark past, we must be satisfled with the 
torch-light which feeble presents to us. We commend, 
therefore, the belief of the good citizens of London, who, in 
the time of Henry YI., sent the king a copy of an ancient 
tract, which says of London, * According to the credit of 
chronicles it is considerably older than Bome ; and that it 
was by the same Trojan author, built by Brute, after the 
likeness of great Troy, before that built by Romulus and 
Hemus. Whence to this day it useth and enjoyeth the 

* Camera Regia; which title, immediately after the Norman Conquest, 
London began to have. — Camden. 



62 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

ancient oily Troy's liberties, rights, and customs.'* Thi- 
is dealing with a l^end in a business-like manner, woith;. 
of grave aldermen and sheriffs. Between Brate azi^ 
Hichard II. there is a long interval ; and the chroniclers 
have filled it up with many pleasant stories, and the anti- 
quarians have embellished it with many ingenious theorie^. 
We must leap over all these. , One ancient writer, howeve. 
who speaks from his own knowledge, — Williaoi Fin 
Stephen, who died in 1191, — has left us a record in his 
* Description of London,' which will take us back a fev 
hundred years further. The original is in Latin. * The wall 
of the city is high and great, continued with seven gate^. 
which are made double, and on the north distingoishec 
with turrets by spaces : likewise on the south, Londcn 
hath been enclosed with walls and towers, but the laigiF 
river of Thames, well stored with fish, and in which the tidf 
ebbs and flows, by continuance of time hath washed, woin 
away, and cast down those walls.' Here, then, six hun- 
dred and fifty years ago, we find the river-bank of LondcB 
in the same state as described by Sir Thomas More in his 
imaginary capital of Amaurote : — ' The city is compassei 
about with a high and thick stone wall, full of turrets and 
bulwarks. A dry ditch, but deep and broad, and over- 
grown with bushes, briers, and thorns, goeth about thret 
sides or quarters of the city. To the fourth side, the river 
itself serveth as a ditch.'f The Saxon Chronicle tolls us that 
in the year 1052, Earl Godwin, with his navy, passed along 
the southern side of the river, and so assailed the walls. A 
hundred and fifty years after, in the time of Fitz-Stephea 
the walls were gone. About the same period arose the 
stone bridge of London ; but that has perished before the 
eyes of our own generation. 

Jliere is another passage in Fitz-Stephen which takes us. 
as do most of his descriptions, into the every-day life of tht 
ancient Londoners — their schools, their feasting, and their 
sports : — 

*In Easter holydays they fight battles on the water. 

• stow, book i. t Utopia, b. ii. c. ii. 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 



03 



A shield is hanged on a pole, fixed in the midst of the 
stream ; a boat is prepared without oars, to be carried by 
violence of the water, and in the fore-part thereof standeth a 
yoTing man, ready to give charge upon the shield with his 
lance. If so be he break his lance against the shield and 
doth not fall, he is thought to have performed a worthy 
deed. If so be, without breaking his lance, he runneth 




Water Quintain, of a Uter time. 

strongly against the shield, down he falleth into the water, 
for the boat is violently forced with the tide ; but on each 
side of the shield ride two boats, furnished with two young 
men, which recover him that falleth as soon as they may. 
Upon the bridge, wharfs, and houses by the riverside, stand 
great numbers to see and laugh thereat.' Four centuries 
afterwards, Stow saw a somewhat similar game : — * I have 
seen also in the summer season, u^wn the river of Thames, 



64 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

some rowed in wherries, with staves in their hands, flat a* 
the fore-end, running one against another, and, for the mce^- 
part, one or both of them were overthrown and well ducked.' 
Howell says, * There was in former times a sport used upo^ 
the Thames, which is now discontinued: it was for tvi 
wherries to row, and run one against the other, with staTe^ 
in their hands, flat at the fore-end ; which kind of recrea- 
tion is much practised among the gondolas of Venice.** 

From the time of Fitz-Stephen to that of Gower, vre maj 
readily conceive that the water-communication between odc 
part of London and another, and between London aiK 
Westminster, was constantly increasing. A portion of 
London Bridge was moveable, which enabled vessels c: 
burden to pass up the river to unload at Queenhithe aB>i 
other wharfs. Stairs (called bridges) and Water-gates 
studded the shores of both cities. Palaces arose, snch as 
the Savoy, where the powerful nobles kept almost regsi 
state. The Courts of Law were fixed at Westminster ; a&i 
thither the citizens and strangers from the country dailj 
resorted, preferring the easy highway of the Thames to tbt 
almost impassable road that led from Westminster to the 
village of Charing, and onward to London. John Lydgate, 
who wrote in the time of Henry V., has left us a verr 
curious poem, entitled * London Lyckpeny.' He gives 125 
a picture of his coming to London to obtain legal redress cf 
some grievance, but without money to pursue bis suit 
Upon quitting Westminster Hall, he says, 

* Then to Westminster Oate I presently went.* 

This is undoubtedly the Water-gate ; and, without describ- 
ing anything beyond the cooks, whom he found busy with 
their bread and beef at the gate, * when the sun was at 
high prime,' he adds, 

* Then nnio London I did me hie.' 

By water he no doubt went, for through Charing he woulc 

have made a day's journey. Wanting money, ho has ej 

* Londinopolis: 1657. 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 66 

choice but to return to the country; and having to go 
into Kent/ he applies to the watermen at Billings* 
rate:— 

* Then hied I me to BiUingsgate, 
And one cried hoo — go we hence : 
1 pntj'd a bargeman, for God's sake. 
That he would spare me my expense. 
Thou scap'it not here, quoth he, under two pence.' 

We have a corroboration of the accuracy of this picture in 
Lambarde's ' Perambulation of Kent.' The old topogra- 
pher informs us that in the time of Eichard II. the inhabit- 
L),nt8 of Milton and Gravesend agreed to carry in their boats, 
from London to Gravesend, a passenger, with his truss or 
Tarthell, for twopence. 

The poor Kentish suitor, without twopence in his pocket 
to pay the Gravesend bargeman, takes his solitary way on 
foot homeward. The gate where he was welcomed with the 
cry of hoo — ho, ahoy — was the great landing-place of the 
coasting-vessels ; and the king hei-e anciently took his toll 
upon imports and exports. The Kentishmau comes to 
Billingsgate from Comhill ; but it was not an uncommon 
thing for boats, even in those times, to accomph'sh the feat 
of passing through the fall occasioned by the narrowness of 
the arches of London Bridge ; and the loss of life in these ad- 
ventures was not an unfrequent occurrence. Gifford, in a 
note upon a passage in Ben Jonson's ' Staple of News,' says 
somewhat pettishly of the old bridge, * Had an alderman or 
a turtle been lost there, the nuisance would have been long 
since removed.' A greater man than an alderman — John 
Mowbray, the second Duke of Norfolk — nearly perished 
there in 1428. But there were landing-places in abun- 
dance between Westminster and London Bridge, so that 
a danger such as this was not necessary to be incurred. 
When the unfortunate Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of 
Gloucester, was condemned to do penance in London in 
three open places, on three several days, she was brought 
by water from Westminster ; and on the 13th November, 
1440, was put on shore at the Temple bridge ; on the 15th, 
at the Old Swan ; and, on the 17th, at Queenhithe. Here, 

F 



66 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

eacftctly four centuries ago, we have the same stairs d- 
oribed by the same names as we find at the present da- 
Tho Old Swan (close to London Bridge) was the Old Swi; 
in the time of Henry VI., as it continued to be in the tk 
of Elizabeth. If we turn to the earliest maps of Lonix 
wc find, in the same way, Broken AVharf, and Paul's Whar. 
and ^sex Stairs, the Whitehall Stairs. The abiding-pk^r> 
of \hi\ watermen appear to have been as unchanging as tl^' 
thoioughfare — the same river ever gliding, and the saa- 
inltjt.^ from that broad and cheerful highway to the narr." 
and gloomy streets. 

live watermen of London, like eveiy other class of 6 
pei;>pb, were once musical; and their ' oars kept time''- 
many a harmony, which, if not so poetical as the soni: ' 
llio gondoliers, was full of the heart of merry EngW 
The old city chronicler, Pabyan, teUsus that John Nomai 
Mayor of London (he held this dignity in 1454), was *tL' 
0rfit of all mayors who brake that ancient and old-continue. 
custom of riding to Westminster upon the morrow of Sima 
and -Tude*s day. John Norman * vxis rowed thither by tccr - 
for the which the waterman made of him a roundel, or sob: 
to hi a great praise, the which began — 

" Row the boat, Norman, row to Ihy leman." * 

The watermen's ancient chorus, as we coUoot from ou 
ballads, was 

* Heave and how, rumbelow ;* 

and their burden was still the same in the time of Hem 
VTLI., not forgetting, 'Row the boat, Norman.** \St 
might the first mayor who carried the pomp of the city t 
the great Thames, and made 

* The barge he sat in, like a burnish *d throne, 
Bum on the ^ater,* 

deserve the praises of watermen in all time ! We coukl 
willingly spare many more intrinsically valuable thin^ 
than the city water-pageant ; for it takes us even now inti 



Skelton. 



L 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 67 

the old forms of life ; and if it shows us more than all other 
pageants something of the perishahleness of power and 
dignity, it has a fine antique grandeur about it, and tells us 
that London, and what belongs to London, are not of 
yesterday. 

We every now and then turn up in the old Chronicles, 
and Memoirs, and Letters that have been rescued from mice 
and mildew, soujie graphic description of the use of the 
river as the common highway of London. These old 
writers were noble hands at scene-painting. 'What a pic- 
ture Hall gives us of the populousness of the Thames I-i~ 
the perfect contrast to Wordsworth's 

* The river glideth at his own sweet will ' — 

in the story which he tells us of the Archbishop of York, 
after leaving the widow of Edward IV. in the sanctuary of 
Westminster, sitting * alone below on the rushes, all deso- 
late and dismayed,* returning home to York Place in the 
dawning of the day ; ' and when he opened his windows 
and looked on the Thames, he might see the river full of 
boats of the Duke of Gloucester his servants, watching that 
no person should go to sanctuary, nor none should pass 
unsearched!.' Cavendish, in his *Life of Wolsey,* fur- 
nishes as graphic a description of the great Cardinal hurry- 
ing to and fro on the highway of the Thames, between his 
imperious master and the injured Katharine, when Henry 
had become impatient of the tedious conferences of the 
Court at Blackfriars sitting on the question of his divorce, 
and desired to throw down with the strong hand the bar- 
riers that kept him from the Lady Anne : — * Thus this 
court passed from session to session, and day to day, in so 
much that a certain day the king sent for my lord at the 
breaking up one day of the court to come to him into 
Bridewell. And to accomplish his commandment he went 
unto him, and being there with him in communication' in 
his grace's privy chamber from eleven until twelve of the 
clock and past at noon, my lord came out and departed 
from the king, and took his barge at the Black Friars, and 

F 2 



08 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

SO went to his boTise at Westminster. The Bifihop i 
Carlisle, being with him in his bai'ge, said unto him (wipiiL* 
tln3 Kweat from his face), *' Sir," quoth he, " it is a very h : 
da>\" "Yea," quoth my Lord Cardinal, "if ye had beer 
as well chafed as I have been within this hour, ye wonl»i 
say it were very hot."' Between Westminster and tb 
Tower, and the Tower and Greenwich, the Thames wa? 
especially the royal road. When Henry VII. willed ttr 
coronation of his Queen Elizabeth, she came from GntL- 
wich attended by * barges freshly furnished with banntn 
and streamers of silk.' When Henry VIII. avowed hif 
lufiiiiage with Anne Bole^m, she was brought by ' all tfc^ 
crafts of London ' from Greenwich to the Tower, ' tnunper> 
ehawms, and other divers instruments, all the way playin: 
and making great melody.' The river was not only tb 
festival highway, but the more convenient one, for kiic^ 
BH well as subjects. Hall tells us, *This year (1536), ir 
December, was the Thames of London all frozen over. 
wherefore the king's majesty, with his beautiful spon*- 
Queen Jane, rode throughout the city of London to Greei 
wich/ The interesting volume of the * Privj'^ Fuiv: 
Expenses of Henry VIII.' contains item upon item of srani 
paid to watermen for waiting with barge and boat. Tb 
barge was evidently always in attendance upon the kicg 
and the great boat was ever busy, moving household stuf 
and servants from Westminster to Greenwich or to RicL- 
niojid. In 1631 we have a curious evidence of the kin: 
being deep in his polemical studies, in a record of paymeE' 
* to John, the king's bargeman, for coming twice froni 
Greenwich to York Place with a gieat boat with books t" r 
the king.' We see the * great Eliza * on the Thames, in all 
her pomp, as Raleigh saw her out of his prison- window in 
the Tower, in 1592, as described in a letter from Arthur 
Gorges to Cecil : — * Upon a report of her majesty's being at 
Sir George Carew's, Sir W. Raleigh having gazed ani 
siji^hcd a long time at Ms study- window, from whence ht 
might discern the barges and boats about the Blackfriar; 
stairs, suddenly he brake out into a great distemper, aiiii 



THE SILEXT HIGHWAY. 69 

fiware that his enemies had on purpose brought her majesty 
thither to break his gall in sunder with Tantalus' torment, 
that -when she went away he might see death before his 
eyes ; with many such-like conceits. And, as a man trans- 
ported with passion, he swore to Sir George Carew that 
he would disguise himself, and get into a pair of oars to 
ease his mind with but a sight of the queen.' In the time 
of Elizabeth and the first James, and onward to very 
recent days, the north bank of the Thames was studded 
with the palaces of the nobles ; and each palace had its 
landing-place and its private retinue of barges and wherries ; 
and many a freight of the brave and beautiful has been 
borne, amidst song and merriment, from house to house, to 
join the masque and the dance ; and many a wily statesman, 
muffled in his cloak, has glided along unseen in his boat 
to some dark conference with his ambitious neighbour. 
Nothing could then have been more picturesque than the 
Strand, with its broad gardens, and lofty trees, and em- 
battled tuiTcts and pinnacles. Upon the river itself, busy 
as it was, fleets of swans were ever sailing ; and they ven- 
tured unmolested into that channel which is now narrowed 
by vessels from every region. Faulus Jovius, who died in 
1552, describing the Thames, says, ' This river abounds in 
swans, swimming in flocks ; the sight of whom and their 
noise are vastly agreeable to the fleets that meet them in 
their course.' Shakspere must have seen thi9 sight, when 
he made York compare the struggle of his followers at the 
battle of Wakefield to a swan encountering a tidal stream : — 

* As I have seen a swan, 
With bootless labour swim against the tide, 

And spend her strength with over-matching waves.' * 

But there were those, during three centuries, to whom 
the beauties of the silent highway could have offered no 
pleasure. The Thames was the road by which the victim 
of despotism came from the Tower to Westminster Hall, in 
most cases to return to his barge with the edge of the axe 

♦ Henrjr VI., part III. 



70 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

towards his face. One example is enough to sn^Gst mar; 
painful recollections. When the Duke of Buckingham vj.^ 
conducted from his trial to the barge, • Sir Thomas Lc»t-. 
desired him to sit on the cushions and carpet ordained f : 
him. He said, * Nay ; for when I went to Westminster 1 
.was Duke of Buckingham ; now I am hut Edward Bobir. 
the most caitiff of the world.'* But these exhibiticE:' 
frequent as they were, occupied little of the thoughts : 
those who were moving upon the Thames, in hundred^ f 
boats, intent upon business or amusement. In the begir- 
ning of the seyenteenth century the river was at the held' 
of its gloiy as the great thoroughfaj^ of London. Howt^ 
maintains that the river of Thames hath not her fellow, ' : 
regard be had to those forests of masts which are perpet- 
ally upon her; the variety of smaller wooden bottom 
playing up and down; the stately palaces that are h£' 
upon both sides of her banks so thick ; which made direr^ 
foreign ambassadors affirm that the most glorious sight z 
the world, take water and land together, was to come up-: 
a high tide from Gravesend, and shoot the bridge* to We?' 
minster.' f Of the * smaller wooden bottoms,' Stow ecc- 
putes that there were in his time as many as two thonsai^ 
and he makes the very extraordinary statement, that ther 
were^ forty thousand watermen upon the rolls of the cvm- 
pany, and that they could furnish twenty thousand men ft: 
the fleet. The private watermen of the court and of ti 
nobility were doubtless included in this large number. 1 
is evident, from the representations of a royal processit: 
in the early times of James I., that, even on common occr 
sions, the sovereign moved upon the Thames with r^- 
pomp, surrounded with many boats of guards and mv^v 
cians. 

The Inns of Court, too, filled as they were not only witl 
the great practitioners of the law, but with thousands i: 
wealthy students, gave ample employment to the wate- 
men. Upon the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth to ih 

* Hfdl. t Londinopolis, p. 403. 



THB SILENT HIGHWAY. 71 

^alatine, in 1613, the gentlemen of the Inner Temple and 
Cray's Inn presented a snmptuoufi masque at oonrt. * These 
aaskers, with their whole train in all triumphant manner 
md good order, took barge at Winchester Stairs, about 
leven of the clock that night, and rowed to Whitehall 
igainst the tide: the chief maskers went in the king's 
>arge, royally adorned, and plenteously furnished with a 
preat number of great wax lights, that they alone made a 
glorious show : other gentlemen went in the prince's barge, 
ind certain other went in other fair barges, and were led 
>y two admirals: besides all these, they had four lusty 
warlike galleys to oonyoy and attend them; each barge 
knd galley, being replenished with store of torch-lights, 
nade so rare and brave a show upon the water, as the like 
^as never seen upon the Thames.' * When Charles was 
sreated Prince of Wales, in 1616, he came from Bam . 
iClms to AVhitehall in great aquatio state. In 1625, when 
Elenrietta Maria arrived in London (June 16), *the king 
md queen in the royal barge, with many other barges of 
lonour and thousands of boats, passed through London 
Bridge to Whitehall; infinite numbers, besides these, in 
evherries, standing in houses, ships, lighters, western barges, 
3knd on each side of the shore.' f What a contrast does this 
splendour and rejoicing present to the scene which a few 
years disclosed ! — * The barge-windows,* (says Mr. Mead, 
the writer of the letter,) * notwithstanding the vehement 
shower, were open: and all the people shouting amain. 
She put out her hand, and shaked it unto them.' The 
Whitehall, to which the daughter of Henri Quatre wiua 
thus conveyed, had another tale to tell in some twenty- 
three years ; and the long tragedy of the fated race of the 
Stuarts almost reaches its catastrophe, when, in a cold 
winter night of 1688 the wife of James 11. takes a common 
boat at Whitehall to fly with her child to some place of 
safety ; and when in a few weeks later the fated king steps 
into a barge, surrounded by Dutch guards, amidst the 

* Howes' Continuation of Stew's Annals, p. 1007. 
t Ellis's Letters, toI. iii. p. 196. 



72 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

triumph of his enemies, and the pity even of those gro' 
men who blamed his obstinacy and rashness : * I saw hz. 
take barge,' says Eveljm, — * a sad sight.* But let us tnn 
from political changes to those more enduring revolutics: 
which changes of manners produce. 

We have before us a goodly folio volume of some sii c 
seven hundred pages, closely printed, and containing ab:c 
seventy thousand lines, for the most part of heroic veise, 
entitled * All the Works of John Taylor, the Water-Poet 
being sixty and three in number, collected into one volrasi 
by the Author.' John Taylor, who made this collectioii - 




John Taylor, the Water-Poet' 

his tracts in 1630, was literally a Thames waterman, 
working daily for his bread. The waterman's verses ar 
not so ambitious as those of the Venetian gondolier. An ton i 
Bianchi, who wrote an epic poem in twelve cantos; bn' 
they possess a great deal of rough vigour, and altogether 
open to us very curious views of London manners in tb: 
early part of the seventeenth century. Taylor is neve: 
ashamed of his trade ; ^d he cannot endure it to be suy- 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 73 

posed that his waterman's vocation is incompatible with 
the sturdiest assertion of his rights to the poetical dignity. 
In one of his controversies — for he generally had some stiff 
quarrel on hand with witlings who looked down upon him 
— he says, addressing William Fennor, ' the king's rhym- 
ing poet,' 

* Thou say'st that Poetry descended Is 
From Poverty : thou tak'st thy mark amisa. 
In spite of weal or woe, or want of pelf. 
It is a kingdom of content itself,' 

Such a spirit would go far to make a writer whose works 
would be worth looking at two centuries after the praise or 
abuse of his contemporaries was forgotten ; and so homely 
John Taylor, amongst the race of satirists and manner- 
painters, is not to be despised. ' The gentleman-like 
sculler at th^ Hope on the Bankside ' (as he makes Fennor 
call him) lived in a poetical atmosphere. He probably had 
the good fortune to. ferry Shakspere from Whitehall to 
Paris Grarden ; he boasts of his acquaintance with Ben 
Jonson : and the cause of his great quarrel with Fennor is 
thus set forth : * Be it known unto all men, that I, John 
Taylor, wal^jerman, did agiee with William Fennor (who 
arrogantly and falsely entitles himself the King's Majesty's 
Rhyming Poet) to answer me at a trial of wit, on the 
7th of October last, 1614, at the Hope Stage on the Bank- 
side; .... and when the day came that the play 
should have been performed, the house being filled with a 
^reat audience who had spent their money extraordinarily, 
then this companion for an ass ran away and left me for a 
fool, amongst thousands of critical censurers.' Taylor had 
taken his waterman's position in a spot where there was a 
'.thriving trade. The Bankside was the landing-place to 
which the inhabitants of Westminster, and of the Strand, 
and of London west of Paul's, would daily throng in the 
days of the Drama's glory ; when the Globe could boast of 
the highest of the land amongst its visitors ; when Essex 
and Southampton, ojut of favour at court, repaired thither 
to listen, unsatiated, to the lessons of the great master of 



74 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



philosophy; when crowds of earnest people, not into: 
only upon amusement, went there to study their oonntiy^ 
history, or learn the * humanities * in a school vrhere tk 
poet could dare to proclaim universal truths in an age • : 
individual dissimulation ; and when even the idle profligate 
might for a moment forget his habits of self-indolgenctf. 
and be aroused into sympathy with his fellows, by the ar 
which ^then triumphed, and still triumphs, over all com- 
petition. Other places of amusement were on the BcaikRid-. 
— the Paris Garden, the Eose, and the Hope playhouses: 




J T T l«|tfplKl 



'f -n wmi 



W- 



View of the old Stage and Balcony. 

and in earlier times, and even when the drama had reacheJ 
its highest point of popular attraction, on the same sp t 
were the * Bear-houses ' — places of resort not only for th^ 
rude multitude, but to which Elizabeth carried the FrencL 
ambassador to exhibit the courage of English bull-dogs. 
Imagine Southwark the peculiar ground of summer theatre? 
and circi, with no bridge but that of London, and we may 
easily understand that John Taylor sang the praises of tJk 
river with his whole heart : — 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 75 

* Bat noble Thames, whilst I can bold a pen, 
I will divulge thy glory unto men : 

Thou, in the momiag when my coin is scant, 
Before the evening doth supply my want.' ♦ 

But the empire of the watermen was destined to be in- 
vaded; and its enemies approached to its conquest, after 
the Tartarian fashion, with mighty chariots crowded with 
multitudes. Taylor was not slow to complain of this change. 
In his * Thief,' published in 1622, he tells us that, 

* Wheq Queen Elizabeth came to the crown, 

A coach in England then was Bcarcf>ly known ;' 

and he adds, * *tis not fit ' that 

* Fulsome madams, and new scurvy squires. 
Should jolt the streets at pomp, at their desires, 
Like great triumphant Tamburhiines, each day, 
Drawn with the pamper'd jades of Belgia, 
That almost all the streets are chok'd outright, 
Where men can hardly pass, from niom till night. 
Whilst watermen want work/ 

In a prose tract, published in the following year, Taylor 
goes forth to the attack upon * coaches ' with great vehe- 
mence, but with a conviction that his warfare will not bo 
successful : * I do not inveigh against any coaches that 
belong to persons of worth or quality, but only against the 
caterpillar swarm of hirelings. They have undone my poor 
trade^ whereof I am a member ; and though I look for no 
reformation, yet I expect the benefit of an old proverb, 
*'Give the losers leave to speak." 'f He maintains that 
'this infernal swarm of trade-spillers (coaches) have so 
overrun the land that we can get no living upon the water ; 
for I dare truly affirm that every day in any term, especially 
if the court be at Whitehall, they do rob us of our livings, 
and cany five hundred sixty fares daily from us.' This 
is a very exact computation, formed perhaps upon personal 
enumeration of the number of hired coaches passing to 

* Praise of Hemp-seed. 

t The World runs on Wheels. 



76 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Westminster. He naturally enough contrasts the quiet >: 
his own highway with the turmoil of the land-thoroughfaK 
• I pray you look into the streets, and the chambeis a 
lodgings in Fleet Street or the Strand, how they are pestere. 
with them (coaches), especially after a mask or a play a 
the court, where even the very earth quakes and tremblei 
the casements shatter, tatter, and clatter, and sucli a co:^ 
fused noise is made, so that a man can neither sleep, speak, 
hear, write, or eat his dinner or supper quiet for then. 
The irruption of coaches must have been as fearful i. 
calamity to John Taylor and his fraternity in those days,&» 
the establishment of railroads has been to postmasters asc 
postboys in our own. These transitions diminish somethis: 
of the pleasure with which we must ever contemplate j 
state of progress; but the evil is temporary imd tlie gui»- 
is permanent, and when we look back upon the past wi 
learn to estimate the evil and the good upon broad prii 
ciples. Half a century hence, a London without railroadi 
that inns and stages might be maintained, would appear &.» 
ludicrous a notion as that of a London without carriagiei 
that John Taylor might row his wherry in prosperitj, 
gladdened every day by the smiles of ladies, *whajr 
ancient lodgings were near St. Katherine's, the Bankside. 
Lambeth Marsh, Westminster, Whitefryars, Coleharbor, ur 
any other place near the Thames, who were wont to take a 
boat and air themselves upon the water.' 

Of the elder vehicles that preceded coaches, whether 
rejoicing in the name of chare, car, chariot, caroeh, or 
whirlicote, we have little here to say. Their dignitj^ wsl- 
not much elevated above that of ihe waggon ; and they weit 
scarcely calculated to move about the streets of LondoL. 
which are described in a Paving Act of 1539 as * very foiiL 
and full of pits and sloughs, very perilous and noyous, a* 
well for the king s subjects on horseback as on foot, ana 
with carriages.' There appears little doubt that the coacb 
first appeared about 1564; although the question was siil>- 
sequently raised * whether the devil brought tobacco ins 
England in a coach, or else brought a coach in a fog or mi^: 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 77 

of tobacco/* Stow thus deficribos the mtrodnction of 
this novelty, which was to change the face of English 
society : 

* In the year 1564, Gnilliam Boonen, a Dutchman, became 
tho queen's coachman ; and was the first that brought the 
use of coaches into England. After a while, divers great 
ladies, with as great jealousy of the queen's displeasure, 
made them coaches, and rid up and down the countries in 
them, to the great admiration of all the beholders; but 
then by little and little they grew usual among the nobility 
and others of sort, and within twenty years became a great 
trade of coach-making.' 

In little more than thirty years a bill was brought into 
Parliament ' to restrain the excessive use of coaches.' 

One of the most signal examples we can find of the grow- 
ing importance of the middle classes is exhibited in their 
rapid appropriation to their own use of the new luxury 
which the highest in the land ventured at first to indulge 
in, timidly, and with * jealousy ' of the queen's displeasure. 
It was in vain that Parliament legislated against their 
' excessive use ;' it was equally in vain that the citizens 
and citizens' wives who aspired to ride in them were 
ridiculed by the wits and hooted by the mob. As in the 
diffusion of every other convenience or luxury introduced 
by the rich, the distinction of riding in a coach soon ceased 
to be a distinction. The proud Duke of Buckingham, 
seeing that coaches with two horses were used by all, and 
that the nobility had only the exclusive honour of four 
horses, set up a coach with six horses ; and then * the stout 
Earl of Northumberland' established one with eight 
horses.f Massinger, in * The City Madam,' exhibits Anne 
Frugal demanding of her courtly admirer— 

*My caroch 
Drawn by six Flanders mares, my coachman, groom. 
Postillion, and footman.' 

The high-bom and the wealthy soon found that those who 
♦ Taylor. t See ^^iUon's Memoirs. 



78 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

had been long accustomed to trudge through the i&iiy 
streets, or on rare occasions to bestride an ambling mi 
would make a ready way with money to appropriate tt*^ 
new luxury to themselves. Coaches soon came to be hinHi 
They were to be found in the suburban districts and is 
inns within the town. Taylor (he writes in 1623) says, I 
have heard of a gentlewoman who sent her man to SmiiV 
field from Charing Cross, to hire a coach to carry her !• 
Whitehall ; another did the like from Ludgate-hill, to b- 
carried to see a play at the Blackfriars.' He impates thi' 
anxiety for the accommodation of a coach to the pride i 
the good people, and he was probably right. He gives u? 
a ludicrous example of the extent of this passion in the ca^ 
of ' two leash of oyster- wives,' who * hired a coach to carr 
them to the green-goose fair at Stratford-the-Bow ; and i< 
they were hurried betwixt Aldgate and Mile-end, tlsj 
were so be-madam'd, be-mistress'd, and ladyfied by \h 
beggars, that the foolish women began to swell -with j 
proud supposition or imaginary greatness, and gave ail 
their money to the mendicanting canters.** The rid 
visitors who came to London from the country were gita: 
employers of coaches ; and Taylor tells us that the * Prc- 
olamation concerning the retiring of the gentry out of th: 
city into their countries ' someWhat * cleared the streets d 
these way-stopping whirligigs ; for a man now might wau 
without bidding Stand up, ho! by a fellow that can scarcelj 
either go or stand himself.' f It is easy to conceive tiu' 
in those days of ill-paved and narrow streets the ooael^ 
must have been a great impediment to the goings-on c 
London business. Our Water-Poet is alive to all these it 
conveniences : * Butchers cannot pass with their cattle fo: 
them ; market folks, which bring provision of victuals t 
the city, are stopped, stayed, and hindered ; carts or vwi& 
with their necessary wares, are debarred and letted ; th- 
milkmaid's ware is often spilt in the dirt;' and then V 
describes how the proud mistresses, sitting in their * hel}- 
cart ' (Evelyn tells us this was the Londoner's name for 

* World runs on Wheels, p. 239. f Id. 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 79 

coach long after), ride grinning and deriding at the people 
' crowded and shrouded up against stalls and shops.* 
D'Avenant, some forty or fifty years later, notices the 
popular feeling : ^ Master Londoner, be not so hot against 
coaches/ But the coaches flourished, in spite of the 
populace. The carman might drive up against them, and 
the coachman, ' with six nobles sitting together,* might be 
compelled to * stop, and give place to as many barrels of 
beer.'* They flourished, too, in spite of the roads. * It is 
a most uneasy kind of passage in coaches on the paved 
streets of London, wherein men and women are so tost, 
tumbled, jumbled, rumbled, and crossing of kennels, dung- 
hills, and uneven ways.'f It is affirmed in a pamphlet 
quoted by Markland, entitled ' Coach and Sedan,' that in 
1636 the coaches ' in London, the suburbs, and within four 
miles compass without, are reckoned to the number of six 
thousand and odd.' 

It was two years before the date of this calculation that 
the first hackney-coach stand was established in London. 
Gan-ard thus describes it in a letter to Strafford: *I 
cannot omit to mention any new thing that comes up 
amongst us though never so trivial : here is one Captain 
Baily, he hath been a sea-captain, but now lives on the 
land, about this city, where he tries experiments. He hath 
erected, according to his ability, some four hackney-coaches, 
put his men in livery, and appointed them to stand at the 
May-pole in the Strand, giving them instructions at what 
rates to carry men into several parts of the town, where all 
day they may be had. Other hackney-men seeing this 
way, they flocked to the same place, and perform their 
journeys at the same rate. So that sometimes there is 
twenty of them together, which disperse up and down, that 
they and others are to be had everywhere, as watermen are 
to be had by the water-side. Everybody is much pleased 
with it. For, whereas before coaches could not be had but 
at great rates, now a mail may have one much cheaper.'^ 

• D'Avenant. t Taylor. 

J Strafford's Letters, toI. i. p. 227. 



80 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Writing two months after, the same retailer of ne^^ 
says, ' Here is a proclamation coming forth about the n- 
formation of hackney-coaches, and ordering of otk: 
coaches about London. One thousand nine hundred ^i: 
the number of hackney-coaches of London, base lean jadc^ 
unworthy to be seen in so brave a city, or to stand about i 
king's court.' In 1635 he writes, *Here is a proclamatioi 
coming forth, to prohibit all hackney-coaches to pass up aii 
down in London streets ; out of town they may go a 
pleasure as heretofore.* It is perfectly clear that ihe kii-. 
might proclaim, and that his subjects would not hearken t. 
him, as long as they found hackney-coaches essential : 
their business or pleasure. We have an amusing exampli 
of the inefficiency of such meddling, twenty-five years after 
Pepys, in his Diaiy of 1660, writes, * NotwithstandiL; 
this is the first day of the king's proclamation agaic^' 
hackney-coaches coming into the streets to stand to \r- 
hired, yet I got one to scarry me home.' We think we ha: 
his cunning chuckle as he hires the coach, and laughs i' 
the law-makers. 

When Prince Charles, afterwards Charles T., retnnie: 
from his faithless wooing of the daughter of Philip IV., b 
brought with him, three sedan-chairs of curious workmai. 
ship. Such a mode of conveyance was unknown to lb- 
English. They had seen the fair and the feeble carried ii 
a box, supported by a horse before and a horse behind; 
and they felt, therefore, something like what we have fel 
at the sight of an election rabble harnessed to the wheels J 
a popular candidate — they felt that men were degrade-*! 
when the fevourite of James and Charles, Buckingham, ^t> 
moved into the streets of London, borne in his sedan oi 
men's shoulders. * Baby Charles' had presented ' Steenir 
with two of these luxuries of foreign growth. Wilsc* 
says, * When Buckingham came to be carried in a chair 
upon men's shoulders, the clamoui- and noise of it -was > 
extravagant, that the people would rail on him in thf 
streets, loathing that men should be brought to as servile * 
condition as horses.' The very year of the expedition 



THE SILENT HIGHWAY. 81 

Charles and Btickingbam to Spain, 1623, was Massinger^s 
Bondman ' produced. Charles and the fevourite returned 
London early in October ; the play was first acted on 
he 3rd of December. It contains these lines : — 

* Tit a stroDg-lhnb'd knave : 
My fiktfaer booght him for my sister's litter. — 
O pride of women t Coaches are too comrooQ; 
They surfeit in the happiness of peace, 
And ladies think they keep not state enough 
If, for their pomp and eaae, they are not borne 
In triomph on men's ahouiden,' 

rilchrist and Gifford think that this was an allusion to 
Buckingham. If so, and there can be little doubt of the 
latter, the vain favourite must have paraded with his new 
iixury, * degrading Englishmen into slaves and beasts of 
inrden ' (as a writer of that day expresses himself), upon 
be instant of his return. 

But the popular clamour was as ineffectual against the 
hairs as i^inst the coaches. In 1634, Garrard, writing 
Lord Strafford, says, / Here is also another project for 
arrying people up and down in close chairs, for the sole 
loing whereof Sir Sander Buncombe, a traveller, now a 
pensioner, hath obtained a patent from the king, and hath 
brty or fifty making ready for use.' The coachmen and 
he chairmen soon got up a pretty quarrel ; and in 1636 we 
ind published the amusing tract, entitled * Coach and 
>edan, pleasantly disputing for place and precedence.' 
The title exhibits to us the form of the sedan, with its 
>earers touting for custom — and we have a description of 
he conveyance and its men, which, with the engraving 
v^hich accompanies it, clearly enough shows that the 
hainnen no longer bore the * litter ' on their shoulders, 
jalanquin-feshion, but that they quickly adopted the mode 
f carrying which lasted for two hundred years. 

The revolutions of half a century made wonderful 
hanges in the aspect of the Thames. The Restoration 
Dund the famous old theatres swept away, and the ancient 

o 



82 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

mansions towards the east invaded by the traders. Whar£i 
took the place of trim gardens ; and if the nobleman still 
kept his state boat, the dirty coal-barge was anchored by 
its side. D'Avenant has given a description of this state of 
things, which he puts into the mouth of a Frenchman : — 

* You would think me a malicious traveller if I should 
still gaze on your mis-shapen streets and take no notice of 
the beauty of your river ; therefore J will pass the impor- 
tunate noise of your watermen (who snatch at fares as if 
they were to catch prisoners, plying the gentry so uncivilly, 
as if they never had rowed any other passengers but bear- 
wards), and now step into one of your peascod-boats, "who&e 
tilts are not so sumptuous^ as the roofs of gondolas^ nor, 
when you are within, are you at the ease of chaise a bras. 
The commodity and trade of your river belongs to your- 
selves ; but give a stranger leave to share in the pleasure 
of it, which will hardly be in the prospect or freedom of 
air ; unless prospect, consisting of variety, be made up with 
here a palace, there a wood-yard, here a garden, there a 
brewhouse ; here dwells a lord, there a dyer, and between 
both duomo comune. If freedom of air be inferred in the 
liberty of the subject, where every private man hath 
authority, for his own profit, to smoke up a magistrate, 
then the air of your Thames is open enough, because 'tis 
equally free.** 

It is easy to perceive that during the progress of these 
changes — all indicating the advance of the middle clas.ses, 
and the general extension of public accommodation and 
individual comfort— the river was every day becoming less 
and less a general highway for passengers. The streets 
from Westminster to St. PauVs were paved after a fashion ; 
the foot-passenger could make his way, though with some 
danger and difficulty; and the coach, though sometimes 
stuck in a hole, and sometimes rudely jostled by the 
brewer's cart, did progress through the Strand and Holbom. 
The time was approaching when the great capital veould 
find out that one bridge was somewhat insufficient, and 

* Eatertainment at Rutland House, D'Aveiiant's Works, 1673, p. 352. 



THE SaENT HIGHWAY. 83 

that femes and wherrie9 were uncertain and inoonvenient 
modes of passage from one shore to another. 

Howell, amongst his enumeration of the attractions of the 
city, says, 'What variety of bowling-alleys there are!' 
And when the idler was tired of this sport, and would turn 
his back even upon shuffle-board and cock-fighting, he had 
nothing to do but to step down to Queenhithe or the 
Temple, and have an afternoon of such recreation as can 
now only be found at a distance of five miles from London 
Bridge. * Go to the river,' continues Howell ; ' what a 
|)leaj8ure it is to go thereon in the summer-time, in boat or 
barge ! or to go a floundering among the fishermen !' 
Conceive an angler, stuek under one of the piers of 
AV'aterloo Bridge, patiently expecting to be rewarded with 
a salmon, or at least a barbel. Yet such things were a 
century ago. There are minute regulations of the * Company 
of Free Fishermen ' to be observed in the western parts of 
the Thames, which clearly show that the preservation of 
the fish, even in the highway between London and 
Westminster, was a matter of importance; and very 
stringent, therefore, are the restrictions against using eel- 
spears, and wheels, and 'angle-rods with more than two 
hooks.'* There is a distinct provision that fishermen were 
not to come nearer London Bridge than the Old Swan on 
the north bank, and* St. Mary Overies on the south. 
Especially was enactment made that no person should 
* bend over any net, during the time of flood, whereby both 
salmons^ and other kind of fish, may be hindered from 
swimming upwards.' Woe for the anglers ! The salmons 
and the swans have both quitted the bills of mortality ; and 
they are gone where there "are clear runnels, and pebbly 
bottoms, and quiet nooks under shadowing oziers, and 
where the water-lily spreads its broad leaf and its snowy 
flower, and the sewer empties not itself to pollute every 
tide, and the never-ceasing din of human life is heard not, 
and the paddle of the steam-boat dashes no wave upon the 
shore. 

♦ Stow's London, book v. 

02 



84 ONCE UPON A TOfE. 



THE TOUNGEE SON. 

The Lyffe of Sir Peter Carewe, late of Mohones Otrey, in 
the countie of Devon, Enyghte, whoe dyed at Rosse, in 
Irelande, the 27th of November, 1675, was read to the 
Society of Antiquaries of London, November 29th, 1838. 
At that reading, the yawning must have been terrific — the 
sleep profound. This * Lyffe ' — * collected by John Vowell, 
al's Hoker, of the Cetie of Excester, Gent., partly upon the 
credyble reporte of others, and partly which he sawe and 
knewe hyme selffe * — occupies fifty-eight quarto pages of 
the twenty-eighth volume of the * Archaeologia.' The 
world might have remained profoundly ignorant of the 
doings of Sir Peter Carewe, but for the exhumation of this 
MS. of John Vowell ; and in truth this * Lyffe * might have 
shared the common fate of antiquarian discoveries — a 
digging-up, and a re*interment — had there not been some 
lasting and general interest in the narrative. The early 
history of Peter Carewe is a remarkable example of ancient 
educational discipline. His story comes unbidden before 
us, when we think that * Wisdom doth live with children 
round her knees' — loving, and beloved. What was the 
daily life of a child in the days of Henry the Eighth? 
Shadow of Peter Carewe, instruct us I 



About the year 1526, there is stir in the household of 
Thomas Hunte, draper, and Alderman of Exeter. Peter, a 
son of the worshipful Sir William Carewe, is expected to 
arrive, in charge of a faithful servant of the house, from 
Mohones Otrey. He is to lodge with Thomas Hunte, and 
daily to attend the grammar-school of the city. * Wife,' 
says the alderman, ' this is a heavy charge ; the boy, I am 



THE TOUNOER SON. 85 

given to know» is pert and forward. He is the youngest 
son, and his &ther looks to his learning to bring him to 
some advancement. Sir William is a hard man. This is a 
heavy charge.' 

The boy comes on horseback, the servant having a 
leading rein, greatly to Peter's annoyance. They stop at 
the draper's threshold. It is a mean wooden honse ; bat 
well stocked with West of England stufis. 'Welcome, 
young sir,' quoth the draper's wife. * I am commanded by 
Sir William,' says the servant, * to require you to keep a 
close eye upon my young master. You are to stand in the 
place of his father. Master Hunte. He must have no rude 
companions : he must go straight from your house to the 
school, and from the school to your house. If he be 
truant, flog him!' With this solace was Peter Carewe 
confided to the alderman. 

We see the shadow of poor Peter in the grammar-schooL 
One Freer is master ; he is counted to be a very hard and 
a cruel master. Daily is that unhappy boy lacerated ; no 
stripes can move him to learn. He sits doggedly with the 
open pages of ' Syntazis ' before him ; but he will make no 
agreement between the nominative case and the verb. The 
noontide meal of Thomas Hunte is by him ne^ected ; he 
is off to the pleasant fields that lie around the city. He 
hath a book of ballads in his vest, which tells of the 'actee 
and faits' of chivalry — of the knight's prowess, and the 
lady's love. Hunte in vain lectures— Freer in vain flogs. 
At last *he would never keep his school, but is daily 
truant, and always ranging.' On a certain day good 
Thomas Hunte is seriously alarmed — ^the boy has been 
missing through a summer's morning, noon, and eve. The 
alderman hath sent abroad to seek him, and, as t^light 
approaches, goes forth himself. Behind a buttress of the 
city wall is Peter hiding. * Oh, varlet !' cries the furious 
draper, *have I caught you?' * Not yet,' replies the 
truant. The boy climbs the wall — he looks out firom the 
top of the highest turret : ' Let me be ! Keep down. If 
you press upon me, I will surely cast myself headlong over 



86 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

the wall, and then I shall break my neck ; and thou shali 
be hanged, because thou makest me to leap down/ 

In a few days after, there is a strange sight in the streets 
of Exeter. Sir William Carewe has once more sat in the 
draper's best room. The boy stands trembling before him. 
No word is spoken between father and son ; a servant is in 
the background, with a chain and a collar. ' Bind him.' 
is the one brief command. Through the streets of Exeter 
is the rebellions boy carried about, as one of his father s 
hounds ; * and they lead him home to Mohones Otxey like 
a dog/ The degradation does not end when the boy 
enters the house of his ancestors in this bestial gnise. 
Does the pitying mother intercede for her youngest child r 
If she does — and we see a dim shadow of a lady kneeling 
before a silent husband — that intercession is bootless. 
Peter Carewe abides in a filthy outhouse, coupled to a 
hound. 

Violent remedies must necessarily be brief. Peter 
Carewe and the hound part company. Another proof <A 
the rebellious boy is to be made. He sits upon a form in 
St, Paul's School, but he is still ' more desirous of liberty 
than of learning ;' and ' do the schoolmaster what he "would, 
he in no wise can frame the young Peter to smell to a 
book, or to like of any schooling.' The father again comes 
to town. The sensible schoolmaster persuades him to put 
his son to some active employ. In Paul's Walk is Sir 
William musing ; the boy standing in awe behind him. 
Sir William there meets with an old friend, then serving 
in the Fl'ench court. This friend offers to take the boy for 
a page, and use him like a gentleman, and do as much for 
him as if he were his own child. The offer is accepted. 
The father is rid of his troublesome son — the son is £roed 
from the terror of his father. 

Peter Carewe is for some time caressed by his new 
friend. He has gay clothes— feeds well— -partakes of 
courtly exercises. And yet Peter is ill at ease. He ii^ 
little suited for routine duties. He sinks, gradually from 

\ 



THE YOUXOER SON. 87 

the hall to the stable. His fine apparel is worn and spent. 
His master will provide him no more. He becomes 'a 
millet, to attend his master's mules, and so in the order of 
a mulet did attend and serve his master. Hovrbeit, the 
young boy, having by these means some liberty, is con- 
tented with his estate.' Oh, Peter ! we see thy shadow; 
as thou art roystering with thy brother mulets — learning 
their uncourtly language, treasuring up their low experi- 
ences, but at length doing something useful. Thou hast 
work to do, and thou dost it. Thy real education is begin- 
ning. Thou hast hours of leisure, and then thou leamest 
many a virelay, and art merry in the dance; and thou 
readest for delight, and not at another's command — thou 
readest Froissart and Comines ; — gradually thou lookest 
back with shame on thy past obduracy. We see thy 
shadow weeping, for thou art thinking of thy mother. 

There is a gentleman come with letters of commendation 
from Henry VIII. to Francis I., and he is received of the 
French king, and has a chaige of horse given him. It is 
John Carewe, of Haccombe, a kinsman to Sir William 
Carewe. He is riding to the court, and, coming before the 
court-gate, where there aie sundry lackeys and horse-boys 
playing together, he hears a boy call out, * Carewe Angloys ! 
Carewe Angloys !* — * Which is Carewe Angloys ? says John 
Carewe, of Haccombe. Come forth, our Peter ! Thou ai-t 
evil apparelled, thy clothes are all to-ragged and very 
simple, the stains of the stable are upon thee. Who art 
thou ? * I am the youngest son of Sir William Carewe, of 
Devon, Knight. My name is Peter. I offended my father, 
who sent me here to be a page. My master was not pleased 
with me, and I am now a poor muleter.'— / Thou injured • 
boy, I will be to thee as a father.* 

Peter Carewe is now a willing scholar. Kindness, which 
opened his heart, has fashioned his intellect. His kinsman 
and the bold boy have no break in their affections. They 
inarch together in the amiy which Francis I. senSs against 
Charles V. On the march, John Carewe dies ; but Peter is 
not desolate. He has made friends. The Marquis of 



88 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Siduces takes him into his company. At the siege of Fam 
Francis I. is taken prisoner, the marquis is slain, the French 
army is scattered. In his rough career, Peter has attaioe-I 
that practical ^visdom which the school of Exeter migb: 
have failed to teach him. He has learnt to act for himseK 
He goes boldly to the emperor's camp ; and becomes i 
favourite with the Prince of Orange. The boy that vas 
coupled with a hound is grown into a young man, ' so hoiie>i 
in his conditions, so courteous in his behaviour, so forwari 
in all honest exercises, and especially in all prowess as*! 
virtue, that he has stolen the hearts and gained the love c^ 
all persons unto him, and especially of the princess.' 

A few years pass on, and Peter Carewe is in England. 
He has come with letters from the Princess of Orange to 
the court of Henry VIII. He is taken at once into favour. 
for 3'oung Carewe ' has not only the'French tongue, wliidi 
is as natural to him as his own English tongue, but he is 
. very witty, and full of life.' And so, he is — first a henchman, 
and then one of the Privy Chamber. But Peter has natu- 
ral longings, which hard usage has not extinguished. Be 
asks permission to make a journey ; and he sets forth ^tb 
a goodly company of attendants. 

Sir William ^and Lady Carewe are sitting alone in a jar- 
lour of their manor-house of Mohones Otrey. There is ^ 
trampling of horse without. In a few minutes the door i> 
opened, and a gentleman, dressed in all the costly luxuiycf 
the period, and surrounded with the gayest of followers, falls 
upon his knees. * My father, my mother, your blessiogf 
He holds out a letter. Sir William is dumb with surprise; 
he with difficulty whispers to his wife, * It is Peter Carewe!' 
— * No — no^my poor Peter is dead and forlorn.' * Mother, 
father, it is indeed your Peter !' 

Thus leave we the shadow of Peter Carewe. Of bis 
after worth and greatness let the record of Master Vowell 
suffice. He did creditable things on land and at sea. The 
latter chivalry produced many such heroes. His shadow 
never comes before us in its panoply of loyalty and valour. 
But we have seen him, in an idle hour, as he is described 



THE TOUNQER SON. 89 

by his biographer: — *The king himself being much de- 
lighted to sing, and Sir Peter Carewe having a pleasant 
voice, the king would very often iiae him to sing with him 
certain songs they call fremen * songs, as namely, '* By the 
bank as I lay," and " As I walked the wood so wild.*' ' 

• Qusre— Mrffmm ? The ' threc-man-song ' of * Tlie Wioter*! Tale.' 



90 ONCE UPON A TIME. 



HANG OUT YOUR LIGHTS. 

It was on ihe vigil of St. Jolin the Baptist, in' the yen: 
1510, that two young men wearing tlie dress of the King*< 
Qnard — the rich and picturesque uniform which has sur- 
vived the changes of three centuries, to linger ahont the 
court of England, and preserve its gorgeous dignity, how- 
ever vulgarised into associations with beef-eaters and show- 
men — that two handsome and soldierly-looking youngs men 
came ix> the water-gate at Westminster, and, in ans'wcr to 
the * Eastward-ho ' of the watermen, jumped into a common 
wherry. There were not many boats at the stairs, and 
those which were still unhired were very diflferent in their 
appearance and their comforts from the royal barges vrhic:i 
were moored at some little distance. The companion? 
looked at each other with a peculiar expression befoTB they 
sat down on the uncushioned and dirty bench of the 
wherry ; but the boisterous laugh which burst forth finom 
one of them appeared to remove all scruples, and the boa: 
was soon adrift in the ebbing tide. 

The evening was veiy lovely. The last sunbeam was 
dancing on the waters, and the golden light upon the spir(>^ 
of the city was fast fading away. Suddenly, however, & 
redder light came up out of the depths of the street, and 
'wreaths of gray smoke mingled with the glare. The 
Thames was crowded with boats, and voices of merriment 
were heard amidst the distant sounds of drum and trumpet. 
The common stairs or bridges were thronged with people 
lauding. The wherry in which sat the two guardsmen 
ran in to a private stair at Bridewell ; and, with the same 
hearty laugh, they stepped into a spacious garden. 
'Charles,' said the more boisterous of the companions 
' this will bQ a snug nest for the right witty Almontri 



HANG OUT YOUR LIGHTS. 91 

^hen Empson's head is off.' In a few minutes a noble- 
looking person, dressed in a sober but costly suit, like a 
wealthy citizen, joined them, making a profound reverence. 
' No ceremony,* exclaimed he of the loud voice ; and then, 
making an effort to speak low, * His Highness is safe in the 
palace, and we are two of his feithful guards who would 
see the Midsummer-watch set. Have you a dagger under 
your russet-coat, my good Almoner ? for the watch, they 
Kay, does not fear the rogues any more than the gallows.* 
It was Wolsey, then upon the lower rounds of the ladder of 
preferment, who answered Henry in the gay tone of his 
master. Brandon, who, in spite of his generous nature, did 
not quite like the accommodating churchman, was scarcely 
so familiar with him. The three, however, all gaily enough 
passed onward through the spacious gardens of Empson's 
deserted palace, which covered the ground now known as 
Dorset Street and Salisbury Square ; and, with a master- 
key, with which the prosperous Almoner was already pro- 
vided, they sallied forth into the public street, and, crossing 
Fleet Bridge, pursued their way towards West Cheap.* 

Ludgate was not closed. In the open space under the 
city wall was an enormous bonfire, which was reflected 
from the magnificent steeple of PauVs. Looking up the 
hill there was another bonfire in the open space before the 
cathedral, which threw its deep light upon every pinnacle 
uf the vast edifice, and gleamed in its many windows as if 
a thousand tapers were blazing within its choir and tran- 
septs. The street was full of light. Over the doorways of 
the houses were ' lamps of glass, with oil burning in them 
all the night;' and 'some hung out branches of iron, 
curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps lighted 

* * On Midsammer-Ere, at night, King Henry came privily into West 
Cheap, of London, being clothed in one of the coats of his guard.' — (Stow's 
* Annals,' under date 1510.) It is not likely that Henry, though bold enough, 
would so far yield to tlie impulses which belong to a youth of nineteen as to go 
alone. Brandon had been his companion from childhood ; Wolsey had already 
learned to minister to his pleasures as one mode of governing him. The patent 
by which the great churchman obtained Empson's house is dated 1510. 



92 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

at once.' * Before the houses were tables set out, on -whicli 
were placed ponderous cakes and flagons of ale and wise. 
* unexercised by lungs ;' and the sturdy apprentices, who 
by day were wont to cry ' What lack ye T threw open ther 
blue cloaks, disclosing their white hose, with a knowing 
look of independence, as they courteously invited tit 
passer-by to partake of their dainties. Over the doors hnng 
the delicate branches of the graceful birch, with wreaths u: 
lilies and St. John's-wort ; and there were suspended pos 
of the green orpine, in the bending of whose leaves the 
maiden could read her fate in love. Wending their mj 
through the throng, the three men of the west felt, the tm> 
younger especially, something of that pleasure which hnnua 
beings can scarcely avoid feeling at the sight of happiness 
in others. Henry whispered to Wolsey, * This is a menr 
land ;' and the courtier answered, ' You have made it so.* 

The three visitors of the city moved slowly alon^ with 
the dense crowd towards the Cross in West Cheap. They 
there stationed themselves. The liveries which two d 
them wore would have secured them respect, if their loftr 
bearing had not appeared to command it. The galleries i^ 
the houses and the windows were filled with ladies. Be- 
tween the high gabled roofs stood venturous boys and ser- 
vants. Tapestry floated from the walls. Within was evtfr 
and anon heard the cadence of many voices singing in hsr- 
mony. Then came a loud sound of trumpets ; and a greater 
light than that of the flickering bonfires was seen in the 
distance, and the windows became more crowded, and the 
songs ceased within the dwellings. 

The procession which was approaching was magnificenr 
enough to afford the highest gratification to one at least d 
the three spectators that we have described. It suggested 
however, the consideration that it did not belong to himself, 
and threw no particular glory round his throne and person. 
But, nevertheless, his curiosity was greatly stimulated: 
and that love of pomp which he had already begun to in- 
dulge, in recessions, and jousts, and toumays, could no: 

• Stow's Survey. 



HANG OUT YOUR LIGHTS. 93 

fail of receiving some delight from the renuakable scene 
that was before him. He was, as Cavendish has described 
him, *■ a yonng, lusty, and courageous prince, entering into 
the flower of pleasant youth.' His amusements were manly 
and intellectual, 'exercising himself daily in shooting, 
singing, dancing, wrestling, casting of the bar, playing at 
the recorders, flute, virginals, and in setting of songs and 
making of ballads.'* The future sensual tyrant is not 
readily seen in this description. But here, on Midsummer- 
Eve, in 1510, was Henry standing beside the cross in 
West Cheap, and mixing unknown amongst his subjects, 
like the Haroon el-Rasheed of the * Thousand and One 
Kightfi.' Onward came the Marching Watch, winding into 
Cheap from the little conduit by PauFs Gate. Here, 
literally, 

* The front of Heaven was fnll of fiery shapes, 
Of burning creacets.' 

The pitchy ropes borne aloft in iron frames sent up their 
tongues of Are and wreaths of smoke in volumes which 
showed, afar off, like the light of a burning city. Stow 
tells us that for the * furniture ' of the Marching Watch 
there were appointed seven hundred cressets; besides 
which every constable, amounting to two hundred and 
forty, had his cresset Each cresset had a man to bear it 
and another to serve it, so that the cresset-train amounted 
in number to almost two thousand men. This was, indeed, 
civic pomp upon a qplendid scale. A poet of the next 
century, whose name is ahnost unknown in the ordinary 
catalogues of English poetry, but who has written with 
more elegance and taste than half of those we call classics 
— Kichard Niccols, in a performance called 'London's 
Artillery,' has the following very beautiful lines descriptive 
of the bonfires and cresset-lights of the great festival of 
the Summer Solstice : — 



Hall. 



94 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 

♦ The wakeful shephei-d by his flock in field, 
With wonder at that time far off beheld 
The wanton shine of thy triumphant fires 
Playing ujwn the tope of thy tail spires. 



'*\V.. 







The Watch, with • cressets * and ' beacons.'— Grouped from Uollar. 

Mingled with the cresset-bearers came on two thousai^i 
men of the Marching Watch, some mounted and some on 
foot There were * demi-lances ' on great horses ; gunnei^ 
with their harquebuses and wheel -locks ; archers in white 



HANG OUT YOUR LIGHTS. 95 

coats, vith bows bent and aheafe of arrows by their sides ; 
pike-men in bright corslets ; and bill-men with aprons of 
mail. Following these came the constables of the Watch, 
each in bright harness gleaming from beneath his scarlet 
jomet* and his golden chain, with his henchman following 
him, and his minstrel before him, and his cresset-light by 
his side ; and then came the waits of the city, and morris- 
dancers footing it to their merry notes ; and then, in due 
order, the mayor himself on horseback, and his sword- 
bearer, his henchmen, his harnessed footmen, his gplants, 
and his pageants. 'The Sheriflfs' Watches,' says Stow, 
' came one after the other in like order, but not so large in 
number as the Mayor's.' Niccols, still apostrophising Lon- 
don, thus describes this part of the solemnity : — 

* Thy goodly buildings, that till then did hide 
Their rich array, open'd their windows wide, 
Where kings, great peers, and nuiny a noble dame, 
'Whose bright, pearl-glittering robes did mock the flame 
Of the night's burning lights, did sit to see 
How every senator, in his degree, 
Adom'd with shining gold and purple weeds, 
And stately mounted on rich-trapped steeds. 
Their guard attending, through the streets did ride 
Before their foot-bands, grac'd with glittering pride 
Of rich gilt arms.' 

Onward swept the mighty cavalcade past the Cross at 
Cheap, along Comhill, and by Leadenhall to Aldgate. It 
was to return by Fenchurch Street and Gracious Street, 
and again into Comhill and through Cheapside. The 
multitude thronged after it, but the three strangers re- 
mained almost alone. ' This costs gold,' said Wolsey. 
* And it is worth the cost,' replied the king, * Would they 
fight,' said Brandon, * these demi-lances and archers ?' * In- 
deed they would,' said Wolsey : and turning round to the 
king, ' such men have fought with your Highness's grand- 
sires ; and the ciy of Clubs of the blue-cloaks is as fearful 
a rallying-cry as that of St, George.'' ' Come,' said the king, 
' we must homeward. Are the streets watched, or shall we 

• Probably scarf. 



96 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

have to knock a knave or two on the pate T The streets 
were watched. They again passed Ludgate ; and as thej 
descended Fleet Hill they fonnd the lamps still bnmiBg 
before the doors, but the hospitable tables were almost 
deserted. At due intervals stood a constable in brigk 
harness, surrounded by his footmen and his cresset-bearer ; 
and as they went onward through Fleet Street, and looked 
to the right and left, up the narrow lanes, there was still 
the cresset gleaming on the armour. ' We are safe to-night, 
said the king. * This is a glorious affair, and I shall bring 
her Highness to see it on St. Peter's Eve. How looks tk 
city, my grave Almoner, on other than festival nights:' 
« It is a melancholy place, your Highness. After curfew 
not a light to be seen : the one cresset in a street makes it 
more gloomy ; and masterless men cut purses in the dark, 
while the light-bearer tells the rogues whei-e there is no 
watch.' 'Ha!' exclaimed the king. * This should be 
remedied,' added the statesman. * The cost of one Mid- 
summer-Eve would double the watch for the rest of the 
year.' * Ho,' said Harry, ' hang up the thieves, and let tk 
true men keep in their houses.' ' They break into the houses,' 
said Wolsey. • We will tell our justices to spare none u 
them,' replied the king. They were by this time at Temple 
Bar. There were three led-horses waiting, and a dozen 
foot-men with lighted torches. Slowly they rode, for the 
way was rough, past St. Clement's, and through the Strand, 
and by Charing Cross to the palace-gates. Here and there 
was seen a solitary bonfire, but there was no rush of popa- 
lation as in the city. The large palatial houses were dark 
and silent. The river, which ever and anon lay spread 
before them as they looked upon it through the broad open 
spaces of its bank, was red with the reflection of the city 
fires. The courtier-priest was at his master's stirrup as he 
alighted ; and Henry whispered, * Come to me to-morrow. 
Our people want Empson's head, and the sooner you get 
his house the better.' With a loud laugh his Highness and 
Brandon vanished into an inner court of the palace, and the 
Almoner rode thoughtfully to his lodgings. 



HANG OUT YOUR LIGHTS. 97 

During the reign of Heniy YIII., as Harrison tells ur, he 
lung up, of great thieves, of petty thieves, and rogues, 
;hreo score and twelve thousand. This was a wholesale 
node of dispensing with a preventive police, though we 
ioubt whether the prison and the gallows were cheaper 
than lighting and watching. The same graphic pen, writing 
in 1586, adds: — *He seemed for awhile greatly to have 
terrified the rest ; but since his death the number of them is 
so increased, that, except some better order be taken, or the 
law already made be better executed, such as dwell in up- 
landish towns and little villages shall live but in small 
safety and rest.'* London, we have no doubt, had a pretty 
cqusj share of discomfort and danger. The time was passed 
when it could be enjoined, as by the statute of Edward I., 
* that none be so hardy as to be fonnd going or wandering 
about the streets of the city after curfew tolled at St. 
Martin'S'le-Grand with sword or buckler or other arms for 
doing mischief, or whereof evil suspicion might aiise, nor 
in any other manner, unless he be a great man or other 
lawful person of good repute, or their certain messengers, 
having their warrants to go from one to another, with lant- 
hom in hand.' The progress of industry had rendered it 
necessary that others besides great men and their accredited 
messengers should go about at night, and not be considered 
as malefactors. Thirty years after the Midsummer-Eve of 
1510, Henry VIII. put down the Marching Watch, 'con- 
sidering the great charges of the citizens :' but the good 
old lovers of pageantry would not so readily part with it, 
and it was several times attempted to be revived, till, in 
1 569, it was altogether abandoned ; and it was determined 
' in the room thereof to have a substantial standing watch 
for the safety and preservation of the city.'f* It is curious, 
in these our own days of police and gaslights, to look back 
to the means by which the safety and preservation of the 
city wore secured. The watchman had gradually been 
transformed from a sturdy constable in harness into a 

* Description of England, book ii. chap. 11. f Stow's Survey. 

H 



98 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

vener ble personage bearing balbeTd and lanthom. He 
bad to deal witb deaf listeners, and he therefore proclaiin«d 
with a voice of command, ' Lanthom !' Bnt a lanthora 
alone was a body without a soul, and he therefore demandt^i 
' a ichoU candle.' To this the vital spark was to be giTe^. 
and he continued to exclaim, ' light.' To render the mai- 
date less individually oppressive, he went on to oiy, * HaD£ 
out your lights !' And that even the sleepers might sleet- 
no more, he ended with * Hear !' 

' Lanthorn, and a whole candle light I 
Hang out your lights I Hear !' 

We are told by the chroniclers that, as early as 1416. tfi^ 
Mayor, Sir Henry Barton, ordered lanthoms and lights t> 
be hanged out on the winter evenings betwixt Allhallo^ 
and Candlemas. For three centuries this practice subsisted. 
constantly evaded, no doubt, through the avarice and povem 
of individuals, sometimes probably disused altogether, be. 
still the custom of London up to the time of Queen Anne. 
The cry of the watchman, ' Hang out your lights,' was vi 
exhortation to the negligent, which probably they axiswenc 
only by snores ; equally indifferent to their own safety and 
the public preservation. A worthy mayor in the time d 
Queen Mary provided the watchman with a bell, with whkt 
instrument he accompanied the music of his voice down t* 
the days of the Commonwealth. The 'Statutes of thv 
Streets,' in the tim^ of Elizabeth, were careful enough for 
the preservation of silence in some things. They prescribed 
that * no man shall blow any horn in the night, or whistW 
ailor the hour ot nine of the clock in the night, under pais 
of imprisonment ;' and what was a harder thing to keefv 
they iJso forbade a man to make any *■ sudden outciy in lb* 
still of the night, as making any affray, or beating his wife. 
Yet a privileged man was to go about knocking at door« 
and ringing his alarum — an intolerable nuisance if he df<i 
what he was ordered to do. But the watchmen were, n- 
doubt, wise in their generation. With honest Dogbem 
they could not * see how sleeping should offend ;' and aft' r 



HANG OTJT YOUB LIGHTS. 09 

the watch was set, they probably agreed to ' go sit upon 
the chnrch-bench till two, and ^en all to-bed.' Dekker, 
however, describes the bellman as a person of some aotiyity 
— * the child of darkness ; a common night-walker ; a man 
that had no man to wait npon him, but only a dog ; one 
that was a disordered person, and at midnight would beat 
at men's doors, bidding them (in mere mockery) to look to 
their candles when they themselves were in their dead 
sleeps.' Stow says that in Queen Mary's day one of each 
ward ' began to go all night with a bell, and at every lane's 
end, and at the ward's end, gave warning of fire and candle, 
and to help the poor, and pray for the dead.' This is the 
more poetical bellman of Milton's * U Fenseroso :'^- 

* Some still removed place will At, 
Where glowing embers through the room 
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom ; 
Far from all resort of mirth. 
Save the cricket on the hearth ; 
Or the bellman's drowsy charm, 
To bless the doors from nightly harm.' 

Herrick, also, has given us the verses of the bellman of 
poetry, in one of the charming morsels of his * Hespe- 

rides :* — 

* From noise of scare-fires rest ye free, 
From murders, Benedidte ; 
From all mischances that may fright 
Your pleasing slumbers in the night, 
Mercy secure ye all, and keep 
The gobUns from ye while ye sleep. 
Past one o'clock, and almost two ; 
My masters all, ** Good day to you !" ' 

But, with or without a bell, the real prosaic watchman 
continued to make the same demand as his predecessors 
for lights, through a long series of years ; and his demand 
tells us plainly that London was a city without lamps. 
But though he was a prosaic person, he had his own verses, 
no addressed himself to the ' maids.' He exhorted them 
to make their lanthoms ' clear and bright' He told them 
how long their candles were expected to bum. And finally, 

h2 



100 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

like a considerate lawgiver, he gave a reason for his edict. 
In a print, wliich is of the time of James I., we have * 
watchman represented, with the following lines nnderwrit- 
ten: — 

* A light here, maids I hang out your light. 
And see your horns he dear and bright. 
That so your candle clear may shine, 
Continuing from six till nine ; ' 

That honest men that walk along 
May see to pass safe without wrong.' 

The making of lanthoms was a great trade in tlie eaiij 
times. We clung to King Alfred's invention for tk 
preservation of light with as reverend a love, during maoT 
centuries, as we bestowed upon his civil institutions. Tbt 
horn of tiie favoured utensil was a very dense medium fi : 
illumination, but science had substituted nothing better; 
and even when progressing people carried about a neat gW* 
instrument with a brilliant reflector, the watchman held t. 
his ponderous and murky relic of the past, making * nigb 
hideous ' with his voice, while he made 'darkness visible 
with his lanthom. But, as we see, in the early dayi? c: 
lanthoms, when the cresset was being superseded h 
* Hang out your lights,' there was a wonderful demand for 
these commodities, and upon the maids and their mis- 
tresses, who were nightly appealed to for the provision ot 
the external light that was to protect the ward from thieve^ 
and murderers, must have rested a veiy serious responsi- 
bility of keeping * horns clear and bright,' and securir^ 
the candle against * chinks,' either made by ' time ' or bad 
manufacturers. 

Paris was in the same condition as London for a Ions: 
period. The nightly passengers through the streets ^walk&i 
about with lanthoms ; and it was only in times of alana 
and imminent danger that ordinances were issued, command' 
ing each occupier of a house to place a light in the window 
of his first floor. La Heinie, the first lieutenant-general c: 
police, introduced public lanthoms in 1667. This was 
hailed as a great event, for a medal was stmck upon tk 



HANG OUT YOUR LIGHTS. 101 

occasion, bearing the legend Urhis securitas et nUor. One 
lanthom, lighted with candles, in the middle of each street, 
and one at each end, constituted the amount of the security 
and splendour which Louis XIV. and his minister of police 
bestowed upon the Parisians. We cannot exactly say 
whether Boileau had composed his sixteenth Satire before 
this event, but about this period he describes the darkest 
wood as &r less dangerous than the streets of Paris, in 
which the * lated traveller ' would encounter four bandits 
iks he turned a comer : — 

* Le bois le plus flineste et le moins fr^quente 
Est au prix de Paris un lieu de siirete, 
Malheur dooc i oelui qa'une afiaire iropreVue 
Engage un peu trop tard au detour d'une rue : 
Bientot quatre bandits, lui serrant les c&tc», 
La bourse * 

London was perhaps better off, with its general system of 
private lights, however imperfect that system might be. In 
1694, a licence was granted by the corporation to certain 
persons 'concerned and interested in glass-lights, com- 
monly called or known by the name of convex-lights,' for 
the sole supply of the public lights in all public places in 
the 6ity, for twenty-one years. Here, one would have 
thought, would have been the prosperous commencement 
of a system which would really have insured safety to the 
inhabitants of London. But when the lease was expired, 
we hear no more of the glass-lights or convex-lights ; and 
every housekeeper whose house fronts any street or lane, 
and is of the rent of ten pounds, and every person having 
the chaige of a public building, are each required and 
obliged, in every dark night, from the twenty-ninth of 
September until the twenty-fifth- day of March, to hang out 
one or more lanthom or lanthoms, with sufScient cotton- 
>vick candles lighted therein, and to continue the same 
burning in every such dark night, from the hour of six 
until the hour of eleven of the same night. The act of 
Common Council which makes these provisions, tells us they 
are * for securing the houses against robbers and thieves, 



102 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

for the prevention of murder, and the convenience of 
passengers.' Glorious provisions, indeed, were thej f(s 
acoomplishing those ends ! When there were clouds over 
the moon, — and whole streets and portions of streets wei^ 
without light, because the inhabitants were not rated at tea 
pounds — and there was no light at all after eleven o'clock, 
we must admire the sagacity of the civic aQthoritk& 
who thus proposed to put down robbery and murder. 
Defoe, who, in many things, was a century before his ag^. 
published a pamphlet in 1729, wherein he suggested a pbs 
*by which our streets will be so strongly guarded^ and go 
gloriously illuminated^ that any part of London will be as saS* 
and pleasant at midnight as at noonday, and buigkiy 
totally impracticable.' London continued to be strm&. 
guarded by its ' ancient and most quiet watchmen ' for 
another hundred years ; and the authorities began to tiiink 
of rendering the streets Uluminated * with a. convenient asd 
sufficient number of glass-lamps/ not until they had gow 
up in terror to George II., to implore * a speedy, rigoroiLN 
and exemplary execution of the laws upon the persons of 
o£fenders.' There was small difference in social arTaDge- 
ments between the old days of ' Hang out your lights/ asd 
those semi-modem days when society, pretending to be in 
the most civilised condition, was really going backwards in 
many of the essential matters that constitute the * salt d 
life.' 



( 103 ) 



EVIL MAY-DAY. 

There was fear and trouble in London on the eve of May- 
day, in the ninth year of King Henry the Eighth. 

The snn was setting as John Best, the Mayor, hnrried 
into the Guildhall, where the Aldermen, and the Becorder, 
and the Sheriffs had been suddenly assembled. He spake 
to them with a tremulous yoice, saying that he had just 
x>me from the great Cardinal, at York House, who had told 
fiim, of his own sure knowledge, that it was the intention 
:>£ the young and riotous people to rise and distress the 
strangers ; and that the Cardinal had bid him go home, and 
(visely foresee that matter. 

Then uprose a worshipful man, and said, that the 
pievanoes of the citizens were Tery great, and that the 
blood of the apprentices might be stirred to avenge their 
tnasters. * For,' said he, * did I not hear Dr. Bell preach, 
9n Easter Tuesday, and set forth how the aliens and 
strangers eat the bread from the poor fatherless children^ 
and take the living from all the artificers, and the inter- 
course from all the merchants?' And then another wor- 
Bhipful man arose, and declared how he had heard John 
Lincoln, the broker, hold forth to a great crowd at the 
Porch of St. Mary, Spital, that the English merchants could 
have no utterance ; for the merchant strangers bring in all 
iilks, cloth of gold, wine, iron, and such other merchandise 
kliat no man, almost, buys of an Englishman ; and cany 
outward so much English tin, wool, and lead, that English- 
men that adventure outward can have no living. And 
then the worshipful assembly, with one or two exceptions, 
joined in the outcry against the merchant strangers, and 
3specially against those who dealt in foreign nails, locks, 
baskets, cupboards, stools, tables, chests, and girdles ; which. 



104 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

if they wore wrought here, Englishmen might have some 
work and living. 

Thus the guardians of the king^s peace hegan to murmir. 
and clamour as bitterly as Dr. Bell or John Linooln ; as-i 
some were for doing nothing, and some were for calling o^: 
the watch, if the riot should take place, and the alie& 
should be slain. 

But amidst these heats stood up the Under-Sheriff Master 
Thomas More ; and there was instant silence. 

* Good, my masters,' said he, * our business is to pK- 
vent a riot, not redress a grievance : and, moreover, i 
think the grievance, such as it be, is not to be redies^ 
either by noise or staflf-striking. If the stranger exchange 
his wine and oil for our wool and tin, he gives us wht 
we want in return for what he wants ; and God*8 gifts ar^ 
not hidden in a comer. If the alien sells baskets, anc 
girdles, and painted cloths, why is it that you can't eelltt^ 
same work of your own hands ? Because your worknui^' 
ship is less skilful. We must amend ourselves before vc 
blame the stranger for our poverty. My counsel is, ila; 
you all go to your own homes ; lock up your apprentict^ 
till to-morrow's ma^in-beir; exhort them to peacefulness 
and we will bring in the May with our old jollity, and tb 
shaft of St. Andrew shall be set up to the old song c% 
*• Mighty Flora, goddess of fresh flowers." * 

The council was broken up : and in all haste each aldei- 
man sent round his ward, ^t no man should stir out i^ 
his house after nine of the clock, and every one should ket: 
his doors shut, and his servants within till seven of tb* 
morning. But the command was a fruitless one. Tfaer 
was in Chepe, as w|U9 the wont on May Even, a company • 
yotmg men playing at bucklers — ^the good old English gaiBr 
which we now call single-stick. The moon was stroggliic 
with light clouds ; but the yoting men went on with the/ 
play, for there was a bonfire in the street, and they wen 
heedless or ignorant of the alderman's command. Panl; 
clock struck nine, and they were still at play. Then ruKbe< 
into the midst of them the Worshipful Sir John Mondej 



EVIL MAY-DAY. 105 

Alderman of Chepe; and he cried with a mighty voice, 
•Stop!' 

But the young men did not stop. And louder called the 
alderman ; and faster and more furious was the play. And 
then the Serjeants of the ward rushed in upon the young men 
to take them to the Counter. Then uprose the cry which 
the Blue-cloaks had so often raised to the terror of tlieir 
niasters, and* Clubs! Clubs I' was echoed through Chepe 
and Comhill ; and in a short space the streets were filled. 
The buckler-play ceased; the alderman had fled. The 
materials of mischief were at hand. The spark burst into 
a flame when the cry went forth — * Down with the Lom- 
bards!' 

It was long after midnight when the riot had ceased. At 
a house caUed Greengate, near Leadenhall, dwelt a calender 
of worsted, a native of Picardy, whose home was a great 
resort of foreigners ; and the furious people rifled his house 
and destroyed his workshops. In Blanchechapelton, in 
Aldgate, dwelt stranger cordwainers ; the people threw the 
boots and shoes into the streets, but they could not find 
the workmen, for they had fled for their lives. In Newgate 
there were imprisoned some artificers for molesting the 
strangers ; the gaol was broken and the prisoneris released. 
The demon of mischief was at last satisfied. 

The first beam of the May morning was lighting the 
cross of the great spire of Paul's, and yet a crowd lingered 
in the gray dawn. They gathered, as they had gathered 
under happier auspices, before the church of St. Andrew 
Undershaffc. There, in an open space, near where now 
stands the India , House, lay a mighty shaft, from which 
the church derived its name. It was • the Great Shaft of 
Comhill,' famous under that name in the days of Chaucer 
— the wondrous May-pole, which, being set up with all 
revelry of song and morris-dance on May morning, stood 
higher than the church-steeple. The wearied and excited 
crowd rushed to their less dangerous work with renewed 
strength. The shaft was reared, and then went up a shout, 
which would have awakened the heaviest sleeper in Aldgate 



106 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

— if any were asleep on that morning, when the rites cf 
May were done with such evil observance. There was net 
only the shout of riot, but the boom of war. The Liieuteiumt 
of the Tower discharged his ordnance against the city, and 
the civic power had been raised, and men in hamesB cask; 
in great force against the rioters, who had dwindled doum 
to some three hundred apprentices. The great shaft cf 
St. Andrew soon looked down upon Comhill in solitude 
and silence ; the apprentices were hurried to the Tower. 

There stood in the shade of the adjoining shambleg 
two men observing this scene. As the watch stopped and 
questioned them, one of the two gave a countersign^, and the 
watch passed on. The street was at length perfectly tranquil 

* Sebastian,' said the man of authority, ^ I came in a Inckj 
hour to your rescue.' 

The other replied in English, but with a foreign accent 
' Master More, I am grateful. It is hard that I should he 
molested in my secret chamber, poring over my charts at 
midnight, and planning how I could carry your nation's 
ships by the shortest cut to the New World. Yes, Master 
More, it is hard ; you have saved my life, but my papen 
are destroyed.' 

* And yet these people,' said the sheriff, * are to be pitied 
even in their fury. I could have stopped them, if that dull 
alderman had not come in with his watch and ward. I 
said to them, '* Ye are breaking the laws; some of ye will 
be hanged, others banished. Silly apprenticeSt when ye 
are cast upon a strange land with nothing but your craft to 
give ye bread, how would ye like the foreigner to maltreat 
you, aa ye would maltreat these aliens ?" An Engliahman, 
Master Sebastian Cabot, is fierce as his countiy's mastiff: 
the kind voice may subdue him, when the rough hand is 
lifted in vain. But come ; this gear is mended, and I must 
bestow you in my lodgings.' 

As the two friends quietly walked from Comhill to the 
Temple, they discoursed much, in spite of the late fear and 
flEitigue. 

'Sebastian,' said More, 'methinks it is some twenly 



EVIL MAY-DAY. 107 

yeanst as you have often told me, eince you first saw the 
American continent from the prow of your fiEither's ship. 
You saw that continent a year hefore Columbus/ 

* In the same year of 1497,' replied Cabot, * Vasco di Qama 
sailed £rom the Tagus on his fi^ voyage to India/ 

* Mighty events/ said More, ' that will change the face of 
tlie world. And here — with the wealth of these countries 
at the command of enterprise and labour — ^we are fighting 
ixi our streets because a few aliens bear away the poor pay* 
xaents for skill and industry. Master Cabot, I think I see 
OcmI's hand in these revelations of distant empires, of which 
th.e wisest of antiquity never dreamed.' 

^ I am a blunt sailor. Master More,' said Cabot, ' tossed 
on the rough Adriatic, a boy before the mast — a Bristol 
mariner when my fitther adopted England for his country. 
I love that country, though its people be sometimes rude 
and jealous. You have let the Spaniard seize upon the 
empire of the Pacific. Be it yours to command the shores 
of the Atlantic. It shall go hard if I do not find you the 
North-West passage.' 

' Sebastian,' said More, * a man like you is worth a legion 
of conquerors. The world will be civilised by commerce, 
and not by arms.' 

*' The trinkets/ said Cabot, ' that we exchanged twenty 
years ago with the savages of Prima Vista,* have given 
them new desires which are the spurs to new industry.' 

'Will the time ever arrive,' interrupted More, 'when 
those regions, now the hunting-grounds of a few starving 
tribes, shall be peopled by Europeans ? You tell me of a 
country of forests and lakes. Will there be ships on those 
waters, and towns in those woods ? Shall our seamen go 
fearlessly across the ocean which divides us, and give the 
handiworks of our looms for the native products of the New 
Land ? That time is a long way off.' 

* But it will come,' replied Cabot, * if Governments do 
not retard it. Henry the Seventh bargained with my 

* The name by which the Cabots designated the first spot they saw of the 
North American continent. 



108 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

father that, out of the profits of every voyage, he, the king, 
should receive a fifth in merchandise or money. The 
practice is not likely to grow rusty.' 

* Well, well, my friend,' said More, * we will talk further 
of these things. But now the sun is up, so a merry May- 
moming to you. Come in.' 

Four days after the Shaft of St. Andrew had been set up. 
there was a fearful tragedy enacted in London. There 
Game into the city the Duke of Norfolk, with fourteec 
hundred men in harness; and they stood in the street^;, 
and spake opprobrious words to the citizens ; and, acconi- 
ing to the chronicler, ' Proclamations were made that nk) 
women should come together to babble and talk, but tlu: 
all men should keep their wives in their houses,' — so re- 
morseless is military discipline. And the duke kept the- 
* oyer and determiner.' The buckler-play on May Even 
cost the lives of fifteen unhappy wretches, of whom the mot 
were apprentices. AVhat was done with the rest, the oM 
chronicler. Hall, shall relate : — 

'Thursday, the twenty-second day of May, the king 
came into Westminster Hall, for whom, at the upper end, 
was set a cloth of estate, and the place hanged with arras: 
with him was the Cardinal, the Dukes of Norfolk and 
Suffolk, the Earls of Shrewsbury, of Essex, of Wiltshire, 
and of Surrey, with many lords and others of the king'8 
council. The Mayor and Aldermen, and all the chief of 
the city, were there, in their best livery (according as the 
Cardinal had them appointed), by nine of the clock. Then 
the king commanded that all the prisoners should be 
brought forth. Then came in the poor youngliugs and old 
false knaves, bounden in ropes, all along, one after another, 
in their shirts, and every one a halter about his neck, to 
the number of four hundred men and eleven women. And 
when all were come before the king's presence, the Cardinal 
sore laid to the Mayor and Commonalty their negligence, 
and to the prisoners he declared that they had deserved 
death for their offence. Then all the prisoners together 



. EVIL MAY-DAY. 109 

cried, "Mercy, gracious lord — mercy!" Then the lords 
altogether besonght his Grace of mercy ; at whose request 
the king. pardoned them all. And theii the Cardinal gave 
unto them a good exhortation, to the great gladness of the 
hearers ; and when the general pardon was pronounced, all 
the prisoners shouted at once, and altogether cast up their 
halters into the hall-roof, so that the king might perceive 
they were none of the discreetest sort.' 

And so the first of May, in the year 1517, was ever after 
called Evil May-Day. 

The apprentices' tragedy long threw a gloom over the 
May-games of London. No king and queen, with lords 
and ladies, rode a-maying to Greenwich; no company of 
tall yeomen, clothed all in green, bade welcome to the 
woods ; no Bobin Hood and his followers escorted the court 
to arbours made of boughs, decked with flowers, and 
furnished with the more substantial attractions of wine and 
venison; no citizens in every parish had their several 
mayings, and fetched in May-poles with pastime all the day 
long. Honest old Stow almost weeps over this falling off. 
The punishment of Evil May-day lasted through several 
generations. The great Shaft of St. Andrew was ignobly 
laid along under the pentices of Shaft Alley ; and there it 
rotted on iron hooks for two-and-thirty years. Even that 
inglorious repose was at last denied to it. The Eeformation 
came; and one Sir Stephen, curate of St. Katharine's, 
preaching &om an elm-tree in St. Patd's churchyard, 
denounced the unhappy shaft as an idol ; and away went 
his hearers that very Sunday, and 'after they had well 
dined, to make themselves strong,' as Stow gravely records, 
raised the shaft from the hooks, sawed it in pieces, and 
divided the logs amongst them. 



110 ONCE UPON A TIME. 



COXTNTEY WAYFAREES. 

Those who are not tolerably fitmiliar with the Memcni 
Literature of the edxteenth and seventeenth centuries, wiL 
have some difficulty to comprehend how our ancestois 
moved about from place to place, and carried on the bu8mes%> 
of communication with distant inland parts. The mode d 
conveyance was so universal, and so established, that it 
rarely offers itself to any especial notice. Till the begin- 
ning of the eighteenth century we were almost "wholly an 
EQUESTRIAN pcoplc. Harrisou describes 'the excellent 
paces ' of our saddle-horses as peculiar to those of our soil; 
and says, that ' our countrymen, seeking their ease in eveiy 
comer where it is to be had, delight very much in this 
quality.' All the records of early pageantry tell us of tbe 
magnificence of horsemen. Froissart saw the coronatioD 
of Henry IV., and he thus describes the progress of the 
triumphant BoHngbroke through the oily. * After dinner 
the duke departed from the Tower to Westminster, and rode 
all the way bareheaded ; and about his neck the livery of 
France. He was accompanied with the prince his son, and 
six dukes, six earls, and eighteen barons, and in all, knights 
and squires, nine hundred horse. Then the king had on a 
short coat of cloth of gold, after the manner of Almarne. 
and he was mounted on a white courser, and the garter on 
his left leg. Thus the duke rode through London with a 
great number of lords, every lord's servant in their master's 
livery; all the burgesses and Lombard merchants in London, 
and every craft with their livery and device. Thus he was 
conveyed to Westminster. He was in number six thousand 
hone.^ The old English chroniclers revel in these descrip- 
tions. They paint for us, in the most vivid colours, the 
entry into London of the conqueror of Agincourt ; they are 



COUNTRY WAYFARERS. 1 1 1 

most droamstantial in their relations of the welcome of bis 
unhappy son, after the hoy had been crowned at Paris, with 
the king riding amidst flowing conduits, and artificial trees 
and flowers, and virgins making * heavenly melody,' and 
bishops ' in pontificalibns ;' and having made his oblations 
at the cathedral, ' he took again his steed at the west door 
of Panrs and so rode forth to Westminster.' By the ancient 
' order of crowning the kings and queens of, England,' it is 
prescribed that, * the day before the coronation, the king 
should come from the Tower of London to his palace at 
Westminster, through the midst of the city, mounted on a 
horse, handsomely habited, and bare-headed, in the sight of 
all the people.' llie citizens were 'familiar with these 
splendid equestrian processions, from the earliest times to 
the era of coaches; and they hung their wooden houses 
with gay tapestry, and their wives and daughters sat in 
their most costly dresses in the balconies, and shouts i^nt 
the air, and they forgot for a short time that there was 
little security for life or property against the despot of the 
hour. They played at these pageants, as they still play, 
upon a smaller scale, themselves ; and the Lord Mayor's 
horse and henchmen were seen on all solemn occasions of 
marching-watches and Bartholomew fisdrs. The city digni- 
taries seldom ride now ; although each new sheriff has a 
horse-block presented to him at his inauguration, that he 
may climb into the saddle as beseems his gravity, llie 
courtiers kept to their riding processions, down almost to 
the days of the great civil war ; perhaps as a sort of faint 
shadow of the chivalry that was gone. Garrard tells us, 
in 1635^ how the Duke of Northumberland rode to his 
installation as a knight of the garter at Windsor, with earls, 
and marquises, and almost all the young nobility, and many 
barons, ani a competent number of the gentry, near a 
hundred horse in all. The era of coaches and chairs was 
then arrived; but the Duke of Northumberland did not 
hold that they belonged to knighthood. Fifty years earlier 
coaches were shunned as * effeminate.' Aubrey, in his short 
memoir of Sir Philip Sidney, describes the feeling about 



112 . ONCE UPON A TIME. 

coaches in the days of Elizabeth : * I have heard Dr. Pell 
say that he has been told by ancient gentlemen of those 
days of Sir Philip, so famous for men-at-arms, that 't^sr^^ 
then held as great a disgrace for a young gentleman to be 
seen riding in the streets in a coach, as it would now i-jr 
such a one to be seen in the sti^teets in a petticoat and waist- 
coat; so much is the fashion of the times now^ alteTvd' 
Eoger North has left us a curious record of the equestrian 
ambition of a Lord Chancellor — Shaftesbury — in 1672: 

' His lordship had an early fancy, or rather freak, the 
first day of the term (when all the officers of the law, 
king's counsel, and judges, used to wait upon the gnat 
seal to Westminster Hall), to make this procession <n 
horseback, as in old time the way was, when coaches weiv 
not so rife. And accordingly, the judges, etc., were spoken 
to, to get horses, as they and all the rest did, by borrowic^ 
and hiring, and so equipped themselves with black fooi- 
cloths in the best manner they could ; and divers of tk 
nobility, as usual, in compliment and honour to a newloni- 
chancellor, attended also in their equipments. Upon notice 
in town of this cavalcade, all the show-company took thei: 
places at windows and balconies, with the foot-^ax^ in 
the street, to partake of the fine sight; and being once^ 
well settled for the march, it moved, as the design was:, 
statelily along. But, when they came to straights and inter- 
ruptions, for want of gravity in the beasts, and too much in 
the riders, there happened some curvetting, which mad»' 
no small disorder. Judge Twisden, to his great aflfright 
and the consternation of his grave brethren, was laid along 
in the dirt. But all at length arrived safe, without loss of 
life or limb in the service. This accident was enough to 
divert the like frolic for the future, and the very next 
term after, they fell to their coaches as before.' • 

Nor was the use of saddle-horses confined to men in 
the early days. Chaucer thus describes his * Wife of 
Bath :'— 

♦ Examen, p. 57. 



COUNTRY WAYFARERS. 1 1 3 

* Upon an ambler easily she sat, 
Y wimpled well, and on her heod a luit, 
As broad as is a backler or a targe, 
A foot-mantle about her hipp<& large, 
And on her feet a pair of spurrefis sharp.' 

When Katharine of Spain came over in 1501 to maiTy 
Prince Arthur, a horse was provided for her conveyance 
from the Tower to St. PauFs, upon which she was to ride 
* with the pillion behind a lord to be named by the king ;' 
but it was also ordered that * eleven palfreys in one suit be 
ordained for such ladies attending upon the said princess 
as shall follow next unto the said pillion.' The great ladies 
long after this rode on horseback on ordinary occasions. 
Elizabeth commissioned Sir Thomas Gresham to purchase 
a horse at Antwerp; and the merchant-prince writes to 
Cecil in 15G0 : — * The Queen's Majesty's Turkey horse doth 
begin to mend in his feet and body; which doubtless is 
one of the readiest horses that is in all Christendom, and 
the best.' Of poor Mary of Scotland, the Earl of Shrews- 
bury, after conveying her to Buxton, writes to Cecil in 
lt580 :— * She had a hard beginning of her journey ; for 
when she should have taken her horso, he started aside, 
and therewith she fell, and hurt her back, which she still 
complains of, notwithstanding she applies the bath once or 
twice a-day.' The * horse-litter ' appears to have formed a 
connecting link between the saddle and the coach. 

Luxury had its appliances ready for the almost exclusive 
mode of equestrian travel. ' A lover of bis country,' who, 
in 1673, saw that coaches would be the ruin of the kingdom, 
says, ' Before these coaches were set up, travellers rode on 
horseback; and men had boots, spurs, saddles, bridles, 
saddle-cloths, and good riding suits Most gentle- 
men, before they travelled in their coaches, used to ride 
with swords, belts, pistols, holsters, portmanteaus, and 
hat-cases : for when they rode on horseback they rode in 
one suit, and carried another to wear when they came to 
their journey's end, or lay by the way. . . . And if they 
were women that travelled, they needed to have safeguards 

I 



114 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

and hoods, side-saddleB, and pillions, wiih strappings, 
saddle or pillion-clotbs, which, for the most part, wsr 
either laced or embroidered.' The saving of namch of tbk 
expenditure, by travelling in coaches, the writer holds, s 
the ruin of trade. ' For, formerly, every man that hd 
occasion to travel many journeys yearly, or to lide up nd 
down, kept horses for himself and his servants, and aeld@ 
rid without one or two men.' In 1526, the Earl of CumW 
land rode from Skipton to London, with thirty-three sa- 
vants.* In 1582, the Earl of Shrewsbury writes to a de- 
pendant : ' I think my company will be twenty genHems 
and twenty yeomen, besides their men and my hoist- 
keepers. I think to set forwards about the 11th of Sef 
tember, from Wingfield to Leicester, to my bed, and v 
make but four days' journey to London.'f In 1640, tbe 
wife of the last Earl of Cumberland rode from Ijondoa'^ 
Londesborough, having thirty-two horses in her tiain ; as: 
the journey occupied eleven days. These slow progresses 
were the relics of the old times of sumpter-horses, whci 
princes and nobles travelled with vast cavalcades, like s: 
oriental caravan. We must not imagine that all eqnestiiai 
travelling was at this slow rate. 'Bide for yonr life- 
haste, haste, post-haste !' — ^were the commands of ambition 
peers and crafty ministers in the days of Elizabeth, to tk 
unhappy courier who was to post from London to Edin- 
bu:i^h. Onward he went, through miry ways and over 
trackless commons, — sometimes dashing up to his saddle 
bows through a ford swollen by mountain rains — some- 
times bewildered in the mists of the trackless moorlands. 
As he approaches the borders new terrors await him, lit 
rides in the dim morning twilight, with his ears alive tc 
every sound. He fancies that the tread of horses and cf 
cattle is at hand. He dares not hide himself, for he -woul-i 
be mistaken for a spy. He rides boldly on into the txtH?r 
of marchers who are returning from their foray ; and, t*. 
his surprise, is permitted to escape, after he has been 

* Whitaker's Craven. f Lodge's Illostnitioiis. 



COUNTRY WAYFASEBS. 116 

saluted with a few words of opprobrium, and a snatch of 
;he ballad of Johnnie Annstrong. At last he reaches 
Edina, Scotia's darling seat/ after a perilous journey of 
ive days. His despatches are brought forth from their 
liding-place ; — the great men meet and deliberate ;— and 
kfter a tarrying of a day or two, the express has to fikoe 
igain the same rough road. 

James I. of England was nearly five weeks on his padded 
laddle, in his royal progress from Edinburgh to London ; 
but Sir Bobert Carey, determining to be the first to tell 
Fames that he was King of England, stole out of Bichmond 
Palace, at three o'clock of the morning of Thursday, the 
24th of March, and reached Edinburgh on the night of 
Saturday, the 26th, the king having gone to bed by the 
^ime he had knocked at the gate. This ride of four hundred 
niles, in seventy hours, gives one an elevated notion of 
:he travelling accommodations of two centuries and a half 
igo. But it must be borne in mind that such instances 
were the exceptions to the rule of slow travelling. Al- 
though ihe Post was not established by law, there were 
postmasters^ at the end of the sixteenth century, on all 
the great lines of roads ; and, for a sufficient consideration, 
they would furnish such a traveller as Sir Bobert Carey 
with abundant horses, that he might ride till they dropped, 
— ^as, indeed, he records one of his horses to have done. 
Then, again, although the roads were bad, the equestrian 
had many a mile of the smooth turf of an unenclosed country 
to gallop over. Let it not be forgotten, that if Sir Bobert 
Carey rode from London to Edinburgh at the rate of six 
miles an hour, keeping on night and day, with relays of 
horses, the general communication of the country was so 
slow, that although Elizabeth died at two o'clock of the 
morning of Thursday, the 24th of March, and James was 
proclaimed king, at London, on the same morning, * yet 
:ho news of it reached not the city of York until Sunday, 
^arch the 27th.'* 

* Continuation of Stow's Annals. 

I2 



1 1 6 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

The days before the Post were days when those vk 
left their houses, for distant parts of England, were m-Tt 
separated from their friends than the North- Ameriot 
emigrant of our own times. The transmission of n- 
telligence across the Atlantic is now an easier thing tkt 
the old conveyance of a letter two hundred miles, xipon » 
cross-road. The historian of Craven, speaking of 16'>. 
says, ^ At this time the conmiunication between the 2^o:d 
of England and the universities was kept up hy cairien 
who pursued their tedious but uniform route with wbok 
trains of pack-horses. To their care were conBigned nn 
only the packages, but frequently the persons, of yooK 
scholars. It was through their medium, also, that ep 
tolary correspondence was managed ; and as they alwar^ 
visited London, a letter could scarcely be exchanged tr 
tween Yorkshire and Oxford in less time than a monti 
Charles I. seems, in 1635, to have resolved to remedy tli> 
evil by the establishment of the home post-office. In l> 
proclamation of that year, he says that there had beeB r. 
certain intercourse between England and Scotland ; and b. 
therefore commands a running post to be established be- 
tween London and Edinburgh, to go thither and cont 
back again in six days; and for other roads there a: 
promised the same advantages. In 1660 the General Poc - 
office was established by Act of Parliament ; and all Ictte.-^ 
were to be sent through this office, * except such letters fr 
shall be sent by coaches, common known earners of goods r 
carts, waggons, and pack-horses, and shall be carried aloi.* 
"with their carts, waggons, and pack-horses respectivelv. 
The Postmaster-general and his deputies, under this statute 
and no other person or persons, ' shall provide and prepa:>. 
horses and furniture to let to hire unto all thorough post* 
and persons riding in post, by commission or without, :• 
and from all and every the places of England, ScotJani 
and Ireland, where any post-roads are.' We find, t" 
various clauses of this Act, that the postmaster was aU 
to furnish a guide with a horn to such as ride post, — tha* 
he was to furnish horses within half an hour after demand 



COUNTRY WAYFARERS. 117 

—and that if he could not aocompliah this, peraons miglit 
hire a horse where they could, and sue the postmaster for 
a penalty. The country postmaster was an ancient func- 
tionary, who had long been in the habit of attending to 
the wants of those who bore letters inscribed, 'Haste, 
haste, post haste.' He was generally an innkeeper. Taylor, 
the Water-Poet, in his ' Penniless Pilgrimage ' from London 
to Scotland, in 1618, has described one that might rival 
any Boniface on record ; ' From Stamford, the next day, we 
rode to Huntingdon, where we lodged at the postmaster's 
house, at the sign of the Crown ; his name is Higgs. He 
was informed who I was, and wherefore I undertook this 
my penniless progress; wherefore be came up to our 
chamber, and supped with us, and very bountifully called 
for three quarts of wine and sugar, and four jugs of beer. 
He did drink and begin healths like a horse-leech, and 
swallowed down his cups without feeling, as if he had had 
the dropsy, or nine pound of spunge in his nmw. In a 
word, as he is a post, he drank post, striving and calling 
by all means to make the reckoning great, or to make us men 
of great reckoning. But in his payment he was tired like a 
jade, leaving the gentleman that was with me to discharge 
the terrible shot, or else one of my horses must have lain in 
pawn for his superfluous calling and unmannerly intrusion.' 
The CARRIERS of England have always been a progressive 
body, in more than one sense of the word. They were 
amongst the first in our days to see what railways would 
accomplish for the transit of goods and passengers. They 
were the first, more than two centuries ago, to change the 
mode of passenger-conveyance from the riding-horse to the 
waggon. They brought the Oxford scholars, as we have 
seen, out of the North with their pack-horses. The most 
famous of all the old carriers was he of Cambridge, of whom 
Milton wrote, 

* Here lies old Hobson ; death hath broke his girt, 
AncI here, alas ! hath laid him in the dirt.' 

He it was that gave rise to the saying of * Hobson 's choice ;' 



118 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

for be obliged bis cuBtomers for backney-borses to take tk 
one tbat stood next tbe stable-door. His trade of boise 
letting was a refinement upon tbe old trade of the p:it- 
master : be intrusted a borse to tbe Cambridge scholaik 
a pleasure ride, and be sent no guide to feed tbe boTseic^ 
bring it back. He was a pack-horse carrier. It ms ^^ 
tiU after his palmy days tbat the innoTation of waggp^ 
came in, in which passengers were carried from citytochy' 
But long did the passenger-waggon and the pack-hois 
continue to travel in good fellowship. Roderick Bandiz 
tried both conveyances : ' There is no such convenience tf 
a wa^on in this country (Scotland), and my finances ve:t 
too weak to support the expense of hiring a horse, l^ 
termined, therefore, to set out with tbe carriers, who tnst 
port goods from one place to another on horseback; d 
this scheme I accordingly put in execution on the Ist ^y 
of November, 1739, sitting upon a pack-saddle hetwtti 
two baskets, one of which contained my goods in a kin? 
sack. But by the time we arrived at Newcastle-upon-Tyi!' 
I was so fatigued with the tediousness of the carriage, as^ 
benumbed with the coldness of tbe weather, that I resold 
to travel the rest of my journey on foot, rather than pn:- 
ceed in such a disagreeable manner.' We of this age cos- 
plain that the penny-a-mile passengers in covered railvaj- 
carriages, which only go some fifteen miles an hour, & 
hardly used. Let us contrast this case with that of tk 
pack-horse traveller. Seated in the throne which Boderki 
Bandom occupied, he sallied forth at *four by the daj, 
when the horses were * packed;' forgetting, for a^littl^ 
while, the uneasiness of his seat, by the remembrance ho« 
be had been * stung like a tench.' He is stuck in tlx 
midst of a file of fifty horses, a lai^ companionship ^ 
safely. For a littde while he is on the king's bighiraj 
and tbe bells go cheerily as he crosses some pleassD 
common. Perchance, as he ascends the wide moorland' 
the clouds darken around him, the mist fiills heavily, tb 
carriers can see no track ; but by an unerring instinct lli 
oautiouBlyHstepping horses keep their file, and ask no bette 



L 



COUNTRY WAYFARERS. 119 

^ido than the sonnd of their sagaciotis leadet's bells. He , 

7ill not lead them into boggy places ; he will keep steady, I 

iven when nuin has ceased to direct him. If the way is | 

Lnofiually rough, the old and feeble horses lag behind ; bnt 
hey never break the order of their march, and they 
iltimately push on, even if they should die in their perse- 
'eranoe. In Bewick's * History of Quadmpeds ' is an 
nteresting anecdote of a pack-horse, thus exerting himself 
o maintain his place, dropping down dead when he 
'Cached the inn-yard. The inexperienced passenger must 
lave needed some courage in these passages across the 
lemi-deserts of uncultivated England. But soon he is in a 
ane some four feet wide, — sometimes floundering in the 
and — at other times slipping upon a paved causeway, with 
k thick sludge on either side of the narrow track« In the 
alls of Derbyshire have we ridden the sure-footed pony of 
he country down these winding roads, shut out from the 
nde prospect around us by overhanging hedges— a privsr 
ion which the pack-horse traveller little cared for. But 
lot only in Derbyshire, in the days before men sought 
he picturesque, were such roads travelled over, but in 
he very thickest of our metropolitan suburb. Hagbush* 
iane, which was described by William Hone about thirty • 

(rears ago, but which has now vanished, was the ancient 
bridle or pack-horse road from London to 4he North, and 
extended by the Holloway back road, as far as the City- 
road, near Old-street. ' Some parts of Hagbush-lane,' says 
Hone, ' are much lower than the meadows on either side.* 
A.t one time a terraced ridge, at another a deep rut, the 
pack-horse road must have been to the unaccustomed 
Taveller a somewhat perilous pass. Happy would he be 
when the house which promised ' good entertainment for 
nan and horse,' and wUch, in the early days of English 
irt, hung out a representation of the animal he bestrode, 
vhich might be mistaken for a dromedary, — happy would 
le be when the 'watering-time' arrived. Well-earned 
70iild be the rest Again would the cavalcade be in move- 
lent ' till dewy eve,' — again would come the rasher and 



120 . ONCE UPON A TIME. 



eggs for supper, with the black jack of home-brewed ak 
again the sound sleep, in spite of night plagues ; and agiii 
the early morning journey. A fortnight between Yuik 
and London would be a quick passage. Well, there migL' 
be worse arrangements for a contemplative traveller ; br 
for ourselves, being somewhat fearlesd of innovations, ^r 
must avow a preference for the Express-train. 

Our antiquarian annalist, Stow, records that, in IfA'. 
LONQ WA6Q0NS for passcngers and commodities travelled ^. 
London from Canterbury and other large towns. Accox 
ing to this authority, they were known as early as 15^^ 
* The lover of his country,' whom we have already quote-i 
has no violent objection to these 'long waggon-coacbe'. 
as he calls them. They plead some antiquity; * they wc* 
first set up.* Moreover, they are not guilty of the sin- 
expedition. Compared with the objects of his bati^, t^ 
stAge-coaches, they are innocent things : * They travel p 
such long journeys, go not out so early in the moniii^ 
neither come, in so late at night; but stay by the w 
travel easily, without jolting men s bodies, or hnnyi:: 
them along, as the running coaches do.' These oonvenk::^ 
creeping things had a safe existence for a century or t^ 
and bore up bravely against the sneers of the 'flyir^ 
coaches,' that went four miles an hour. Boderick Randi^ 
as we have said, tried both the pack-horse and the waggvc 
This waggon was * the long waggon ' of Stow ; the ' hs^ 
waggon-coach ' of * the lover of his country.' Not muc. 
more than a hundred years ago, there was a vehicle moviR 
on the Great North Boad, in which passengers, who assmii^ 
to be gentlefolks, were travelling from York to London. ^ 
the fare of a shilling a-day, — not being more than a for 
night in the transit. The description which Smollett givr 
of his ride to London is known to have been derived fn^ 
his own experience. He and his faithful friend, Strar 
having observed 'the waggon a quarter of a mile befor 
them, speedily overtook it ; and ascending the conveniens 
by a ladder, tumbled into the straw, under the darkness 
the tilt, amidst four passengers, two gentlemen, and ttri 



COUNTRY WAYFARERS. 121 

very genteel specimens of the fair sex. When they arrived 
at the inn where they were to lodge for the night, Captain 
Weazel and his lady desired a room for themselves, and a 
separate supper ; hut the impartial innkeeper replied, that 
^ he had prepared victnals for the passengers in the waggon, 
without respect of persons.* Boderick agrees to give ten 
shillings for his passt^e to London, provided Strap, who 
was to trudge hy the side, should change places vnth him 
when he was disposed to walk. The mistakes, the quarrels, 
and the mirth of the passengers, are told hy the novelist 
with a vivacity which would be admirable without its 
coarseness. They got tolerably reconciled to each other 
after the first five days' rumbling in the straw. ' Nothing 
remarkable happened during the remaining part of our 
journey, which continued six or seven days longer. At 
length we entered the great city, and lodged all night at 
the inn where the waggon put up.' 

Let not the ' long stage-wa^^n,' which thus kept alive 
i monthly communication between Yorkshire and London, 
ind carried, according to Smollett, no less dignified persons 
fchan a medical student, an ensign in a marching regiment, 
and a City money-lender, be confounded with the broad- 
wheeled waggon that, after being half drowned by the 
waters of the canal, has now been swept from the surfitce 
of the earth by the fire of the railroad. Have we not our- 
selves heard the merry bells of the team, breasting their 
way right in the centre of the broad Bath rbad, unyielding 
to coach or curricle ? Have we not seen the bright eye 
glancing from the opening of the tilt behind,^ as the pon- 
derous wain is moving beside the villi^e-green, and the 
stalwart driver tells the anxious maiden that it is only one 
more mile to the turnpike where she is to meet ' the young 
man F' Have we not sat beneath the branching elm which 
fronts some little inn where wagons congregate, and heard 
tnuch goodly talk about the deamess of horses, and the 
5raft of Lunnun? They are gone, — ^these once-familiar 
scenes : 

' They lire no longer in the fiiith of reason ;* 



122 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

bnt they will live for ever in sucli picttires as that am 
friend Oreswick has painted of ' The London Boad a hundred 
years ago.' 

We have abundant evidence that staoe-ooaches were in 
use soon after the middle of the seventeenth century, b 
1663, Mr. Edward Parker, writing to his father, who livtd 
near Preston, says : * I got to London on Saturday k< 
My journey was noways pleasant, being forced to ride ii 
the boot all the way. The company that came up with oe 
were persons of great quality, as Imights and ladies. Mj 
journey's expense was thirty shillings. This travel hathsp 
indisposed me, that I am resolved never to ride np agiis 
in the coach.'* Let us turn aside for a moment, to expks 
what ' the boot' was. There were two boots to these oU 
coaches — uncovered projections from each side of tk 
carriage. Taylor, the Water-Poet, thus describes thee 
' It [the coach] wears two boots, and no spurs, sometime 
having two pair of legs in one boot ; and oftentimes, Bgean^- 
nature, moet preposterously, it makes fair ladies wear tb 
boot. Moreover, it makes people imitate sea-crabs, in beicf 
drawn sideways, as they are when they sit in the boot i 
the coach.' In this boot, then, travelled unhappy Edwaid 
Parker. He does not tell us the rate at which he travelled 
We will supply that information from other sources. 

From the Diaiy of Sir William Dugdale, it appears ihc 
in 1659 he set forward to London in the Coventry coacL 
on the 2nd of May, and arrived on the 4th of May — Qav 
days. The Diary of a Yorkshire clergyman f shows tb^ 
in the winter of 1682, a journey from Nottingham t 
London in a stage-coach occupied four whole days. I: 
Antony k Wood's Diary, we are told, that in 1667 h 
travelled from Oxford to London in the coach, and was tm 
days in accomplishing the passage. A few years after, tb- 
feat was performed in thirteen hours; but in 1692 it 
again found necessary to give two days to the journey, fros 
Michaelmas to Lady-day. ^ The lover of his country,' ho« 

** Arcbftolt^ia, vol. xx. t Quoted in Arcbsologia, vol. xx. 



COUNTRT WAYFARERS. 123 

ver, has fdmislied ns the most complete piotnre of coach 
ravellingy in 1673. The long journeys were from London 
3 Exeter, Chester, or York. On these roads the Cue was 
^rty shillings in snmmer, and forty-five shillings in winter, 
ach way. The coachman was changed four times, and 
be passenger was expected to give each ooaohman a shil- 
ing at the end of the stage, besides a total of three shillings 
3r drink to the coachmen at their halting-places. In 
ummer, the time occupied in riding was four days — in 
nnter, six days. But these were long days. The com- 
Gaining writer says : ' What advantage is it to men's health 
3 be called out of their beds into these coaches an hour 
efore day in the morning, to be hurrM in them from place 
3 place, till one hour, two, or three, within night; inso- 
luch that, after sitting all day — in the snmmer time stifled 
dth heat and choked with dust, or in the winter time 
tarving and freezing with cold or choked with filthy fog^ 
-they are often brought into their inns by torch-light, 
rhen it is too late to sit up to get a supper; and next 
Loming they are forced into the coach so early that they 
an get no breakfast?' Added to these troubles, the fSekult- 
nder alleges the grievances of crying children, and crowds 
f boxes and bundles. He gives us some notion of the 
oads and the safety of the carriages : * Is it for a man's 
lealth to travel widi tired jades, to be laid fast in the foul 
irays, and forced to wade up to the knees in mire ; after- 
wards sit in the cold till teams of horses can be sent to pull 
he coach out ? Is it for their health to travel in rotten 
oaches, and to have their tackle, or perch, or axletree 
»roken, and then to wait three or four hours, sometimes 
laJf a day, to have them mended, and then to travel all 
ight to make good their stage ?' This is a queer state of 
[lings, a little exaggerated, perhaps, but in the main true. 
t is remarkable how long the roads and the coaches con- 
niied to be execrable. 

The express train of the Oreat Western Bailway goes to 
Ixeter, a hundred and ninety-three miles, in four hou|« 
id a half. In 1725, the stage-coach journey from London 



124 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

to Exeter occupied four summer days. The pa«Dger? 
were aroused every morning at two o'clock, left their ies 
at three, dined at ten o'clock, and finished their day's laki: 
at three in the afternoon.'* In 1739, Mr. Andrew TlwaB:- 
son, of Glasgow, with a friend, left Gla^ow to ride r 
London. There was no turnpike-road till they came i 
Grantham, within a hundred and ten miles of the metT'^ 
polls. Up to that point they travelled on a narrow ca,^^ 
way, with an unmade soft road on each side. As striii^ 
of pack-horses met them from time to time, iliey ve 
obliged to plunge into the side road, and had often difiBcn> 
in scrambling again upon the causeway, f As late as ITf- 
there was only a coach once a month from Edinbui^t 
London, which was twelve or fourteen days on the vd- 
In the south of England we made more rapid stride ^ 
perfection. We have before us a very curious bill of ^^ 

* Alton and Famham Machine,' dated 1750, which is hea» 
with an engraving, furnishing the best representation' 
the coach of a centuty ago that we have seen. The clmL- 
vehicle carries no passengers on the roof; but it bv' 
large basket— literally a basket — swung behind, for b^- 
price passengers. The coachman has four horses in hi- 
and a postillion rides a pair of loaders. This is tinl^' 
magnificent equipage, and it accomplished its joumev it 
mai'vellously short time, starting at six in the morniri 
and arriving duly the same night. This journey of foi^ 
seven miles in one day was a feat ; and well might t:{ 
vehicle which accomplished it be dignified by the name ■ 

* Machine.* The name became common ; and hence staj- 
coach horses were called * Machiners.' 

Of the travelling by private carriages in those days 
tho most villainous cross-roads we have abundant evidectt 
The Duke of Somerset, who died in 1748, was always (xe 
pelled by the badness of the roads to sleep at Guildford, 
his way from Petworth to London. A letter of one of ti 
duke's servants to another servant, announces his master 

• Mrs. Manlejr's Journey. f Clelond's Glasgow* 



COUNTRY WAYFARERS. 125 

(itention to arrive at Fetworth, from Londoo; and adds 
irections, that * the keepers and otherB who knew the hole^i 
nd sloughs, must oome to meet his Grace, with )aiithc*nia 
nd long poles, to help him on his way.' The giandfiitLer 
f the present Dnke of Buckingham had an inn built f</r 
is special accommodation at Winslow, as the joumer Iran 
Itowe to London could not he accomplished in one daj. 
Tanbrugh, in the * Provoked Htcshandy' has giren us an 
musing, and, we have litUe doubt, faithful account of the 
progress of a Yorkshire family to town in their own equipage. 
Lcoording to the honest record of John Moodv, their senr* 
ng man, there was ' Nothing but mischief! tSome devil*s 
rick or other pieced us, aw th' day long! Crack goes 

ae thing ; Bawnce ! goes another. Woa, says Roger 

^hen souse ! we are all set fast in a slough, \\liaw ! cries 
[iss ! — scream go the maids ! and bawl ! just as thof they 
rere stuck ! And so, mercy on us ! this was the trade from 
loming to night.' 

From the days of the first turnpike a whole century 
ppears to have passed before any very great improvements 
^ere effected in the roads, or in the vehicles travelling 
pon them. Mr. M*Cu11och says, * It was not till after the 
eace of Paris, in 1763, that turnpike-roads began to be 
xtcnded to all parts of the kingdom ; and that the means 
f internal communication began, in consequence, to be 
ignally improved.'* Mr. Porter, in an article contributed 

' The Companion to the Almanac,' 1837, speaks of the 
ondition of a road only thirty-six miles from London, 
bout the same period; — 'A gentleman now living at 
lorsham, in Sussex, has stated, on the authority of a person 
/hose father carried on the business of a butcher in that 
>wn, that in his time the only means of J'eaching London 
raa either by going on foot or on horseback, the latter 
letbod not being practicable at all periods of the year, nor 

1 every state of the weather; and that the roads were 
ever at that time in such a condition as to admit of sheep 

* Acooont of the Biitisfa Empirp. 



126 ONCE UPOK A TDfE. 

or cattle being driven upon them to the London maikt^i: 
for whioh reason the fiumers were prevented Bendkg 
thither the produce of their Lmds, the immediate neid* 
bourhood being, in fact, their only market. Under ikic 
circumuBtances the quarter of a &t ox was oommo^j kM 
for about fifteen shillings, and the price of mutton was uk 
penny farthing per pound.' Mr. Porter, in his * Progres 
of the Nation,' also informs us, that *• when it wbb in ccc- 
templation to extend turnpike-roads from the metropoli'^ ^ 
more distant points than those to which they had hefo:^ 
been carried, the farmers in the metropolitan comilia 
petitioned Parliament against the plan, fearing lest tbi: 
market being invaded by so many competitors, who wog1>! 
sell their produce more cheaply, they should be ruinei 
Two centuries before these wise farmers, William Hairk' 
— in many things a shrewd observer — thought it would \f 
good *if it were enacted that each one should keep b 
next market with his grain, and not to run six, eight, tsL 
fourteen, or twenty miles from home to sell his com, wte 
he doth jBnd the highest price.' Harrison saw deaib 
enough that communication equalised prices ; although h 
would have kept down prices, and therefore kept down C 
profitable employment, by narrowing the market of tk 
producers. Dr. Johnson appears to have had someurk 
similar notions of public advantage. In 1784 he vish»i 
Mr. Windham, who made a note of his oonversaticsL^ 
amongst which we find the-following : ' Opinion about d 
efiect of turnpike-roads. Every place communicating wJ: 
each other. Before, there were cheap places and dear 
places. Now, all refuges are destroyed for el^ant 
genteel poverty. Disunion of families, by furnishing 
market to each man's ability, and destroying the dep« 
dence of one man upon another.' To have * cheap pla4 
and dear places ' — ^to maintain ' the dependence of one id 
upon another' — ^has been the struggle of class interests I 
to this hour. Beads and railroads and steamboats hd 
annihilated the one remnant of feudality, local cheapn4 
purchased by general deamess; and the penny^a-ml 



OOUNTRY WAYFARERS. 127 

xains would extinguish all that ia unhealtliy in * the de- 
)endenoe of one man upon another/ if the other remnant 
>f feudality, the law of pariah settlement, were broken up. 

The extension of turnpike-roads through the country at 
ast brought about the ultimate perfection of coach-trayel- 
ing, — THE MAIL. More than sixty years ago was this great 
mgine of our civilization first set in motion. Before Mr. 
Palmer suggested his improvements to the Oovemment, 
alters sent by the post, which left Bath on Monday night, 
vere not delivered in London till Wednesday afternoon. 
Phe London post of Monday night did not reach Worcester, 
Birmingham, or Norwich, till Wednesday morning, and 
ilxeter on the Thursday morning. A letter from London to 
xlasgow, before 1788, was five days on the road. The 
etter-bags were carried by boys on horseback ; and the 
obbery of the mail was, of course, so common an occur- 
ence, that no safety whatever could be secured in the 
ransmission of money. The highwayman was the great 
lero of the travelling of that day. But on the 2nd of 
August, 1784, the first mail-coach left London for Bristol ; 
nd from that evening, till the general establishment of the 
ail way system, the mail was one of the wonders and glories 
)f our country. 

The stage-coaches followed the mails in the course of 
mprovemenl We remember them when they were not 
^ery particular about the pace; and four hours from 
Windsor to London was pretty well. To be sure, there 
•vas a quarter of an hour for breakfast at Longford, and an- 
>ther quarter of an hour for luncheon at Tumham-green ; 
>ut it was a pleasant ride in days when men were not in a 
lurry. The pace of our now surviving stage-coaches is, 
or the first half-hour after the railway, a sort of imper- 
iuence. You feel you are crawling when you have mounted 
he ten-mile-an-hour tortoise that is to take you across the 
ountry from the station ; but yet the driver presumes to 
ilk of his cattle. Look at him. He has a load of respon- 
ibility put upon him which he is little able to bear. He 
,ust keep time. He dares not have a snack at the halfway- 



128 ONCE UPON A TIME. • 

house ; lie has no messages to deliver ; he sticks gloomily 
upon the box, while the horses are hurriedly chaBged: bt 
sleeps not at nights without dreaming of the whistle ; k ^ 
dependent upon an absolute will; he has a cadaTero^ 
melancholy face, as if Time were beating him prematurd;. 
Contrast him with Washington Irving's English coachi!^ 
of 1820 : — ' He has commonly a broad full face, cnrionsiT 
mottled with red, as if the blood had been forced by bar: 
feeding into every vessel of the skin; he is swelled m: 
jolly dimensions by frequent potations of malt Uquors, xsi 
his bulk is still further increased by a multiplicity of co^ 
in which he is buried like a cauliflower, the upper ciir 
reaching to his heels. He wears a broad-brimmed L^^- 
crowned h^t ; a huge roll of coloured handkerchief ab::: 
his neck, knowingly knotted and tucked in at the bos:^ 
and has in summer-time a large bouquet of flowers in h 
button-hole,— the present, most probably, of some etr 
moured country lass. His waistcoat is commonly of gose 
bright colour, striped ; and his small-clothes extend U: 
below the knees, to meet a pair of jockey-boots which reac- 
about half-way up his legs.' The portrait belongs to tb 
archsBology of England. A sedan, a hackney-coach, andi 
stnifed stage-coachman of the fat times, should be dei«^ 
sited in the rooms of the Antiquarian Society, while ■ 
specimen can be preserved in relic, or made out from I- 
scription. 



( 129 ) 



PHILIP SIDNEY AND FULKE GREVILLE. 

EiKRE has been high revelry in Shrewsbnry in 1569. 8ir 
enry Sidney, Lord President of the Council of the Marches, 
L8 made his annual visit, during an interval in his govern- 
ent of Ireland, in which he had returned to his favourite 
udlow Castle. Philip Sidney, his son, is a boy of fifteen, 

the Free Grammar School of Shrewsbury. In the same 
rm — of the same age — is his devotedfriend,Fulke Greville. 
be ceremonies are over. Sir Henry has sat in the 
icient hall of the Council House, to hear complaints and 

dispense justice. He has gone in solemn procession to 
. Chad's Church, with bailifi's, and aldermen, and wardens 

companies. He has banqueted with the masters of the 
hool in the great library. He has been present at a 
ige-play in the Guildhall — the Mayor's play. But more 
elcome than all the pomp of office is a quiet hour with 
a boy Philip, as they sit in the cool of a May morning on 
le lierrace of the Council House, and look over the bright 
3vern towards Haughmond Hill, and muse in silence, as 
ley gaze upon one of those unrivalled combinations of 
itural beauty and careful cultivation, which have been the 
[ory of England during many ages of comparative freedom 
id security. It is the last of Philip's school years. He 

to proceed to Oxford. His friend Greville afterwards 
rote of him : — * 1 lived with him and knew him fron^ a 
did, yet I never knew him other than a man, with such 
aidness of mind, lovely and familiar gravity, as carried 
ace and reverence above greater years.' Proud is the 
kher of his noble son. He is ' the light of his family.' 
[ley talk as friend to friend. The father-r-a statesman and 
Idier — ^is not displeased to see that, beneath the gravity 

K 



130 ONCE UPON A TIMIC. 

of the precociotiB boy, are fiery glances of feeling almobt 
approaching to rashness. They become one who in after 
years exclaimed, *I am a Dudley in blood — ^the dnke's 
daughter's son.' 

The Lord President has departed. There is holiday at 
the school; and Sidney and Greville walk forth to tbe 
fields in that spring-time. Shrewsbury is a place in whick 
the young Sidney lives in the memories of the past. Few 
of the public buildings and private houses of the town ai? 
of the more recent Tudor architecture. The Market Squan 
and Pride Hill are rich in the black oaken timbers, asri 
gabled roofs, and panelled carvings of the fifteenth centnrr. 
The deserted abbey is not yet in ruins. The castle has » 
character of crumbling strength. The High Cross is per- 
fect. There, were beheaded the last of the British Princt-^ 
of Wales ; and there, suffered some who had the misfortnc^ 
not to fall with Hotspur in the battle of Hateley Field. At 
the Augustine Friars, and the Grey Friars, are still ^€£ 
the graves of many who had perished in that fight. TIk- 
Welsh Bridge, with its ' great gate to enter into by tk 
town, and at the other end, towards Wales, a mighty stroDz 
tower, to prohibit enemies to enter into the bridge * (as de- 
scribed by old Leland), has its associations of border 
hostilities. Sidney's mind is formed to luxuriate in tb*- 
poetry of history. 

The young men take their course into the country by the 
Castle Foregate. They are in earnest talk. 

*What a monster these players make of Richard th* 
Third,' says Sidney. * Maugre my loyal reverence for her 
Highness's grandfather, I have a liking for the venomous 
little Yorkist. Even the players couldn't show him as -a 
coward.' 

* Not when they make him whimper about revenge, 
suns, moons, and planets ; silly lambs and croaking ravens 
— all crying for revenge upon him? Heavens I what 
stuffi' 

*Raro stuff! How is it that these play-writers canntt 



PHILIP SIDNEY AND FULKE GRKVILLE. 131 

mako their people talk like Englishmen and Christians? 
When the board is up — ** Bosworth Field "—and two armies 
fi^' in, represented by four swords and bucklers — and the 
usurper dashes about, despite his wounds, — hear how ho 
wastes his precious time. Do you remember ?' 

* Yes, yes — 

* ** Hy, my lord, and Siive your litb." * 

* I have it — 

* " Kly, villiuu '. look I as though I would tly ? 
* No, first shall this dull and s*>D»eless ball of eartli 

Receive my body cold and void of sense. 

Yon watery heavens scowl on my gloomy day, ^ 

And darksome clouds close up my cheerful sound. — 
I>own is thy sun, Richard, never to shine a<;aiu. — 
The bird whose feathers should adorn my htiid 
Hovei-8 aloft and never comes iu sight," 

There's a Richard for you.' 

* Bravo, Philip ! You should join a fellowship of players. 
You would beat the varlet with the hump that mouthed it 
on Tuesday. But why so hard upon the rhetoric of the 
vagabonds? Your favourite Gorboduc is full of such 
trash r 

' Y'es, and faulty even as this True tragedy of Kichard 
the Third, in time and place. In two hours of the 
Mayor's play, we had Shore's wife in Cheapside, and poor 
dead Richard about to be drawn through Leicester on a 
collier's horse.' 

* Suppose there were painted scenes, as some of the 
playhouses have, instead of the door painted in groat letters 
— couldn't the imagination go from Cheapside to Leicester 
ill spite of Aristotle ? and can't it, even with the help of 
the painted board ? But here we are at Battlefield.' 

* I never walk over these meadows,' exclaimed Sidney, 
^ without deep emotion. I was reading Hall just before my 
father camo. How graphic these chroniclers are, compared 
with the ranting players.' 



132 ONCK UPON A TIME. 

* Wliat you read, I read, Philip.' 

' As we walked through the Eastgate, I could not k: 
think of that day when Henry came with his host ict: 
Shrewsbury, and being advertised that the earls were a: 
hand with banners displayed and battles ranged, maidit'i 
suddenly out by the Eastgate, and ther^ encamped.' 

* An evening of parley and defiance, followed by a bloc^; 
morning.* 

* The next day, in the morning early, which was thevip 
of Mary Magdalene, the king set his battle in good order- 
and so his enemies. There, on that gentle rise, Greville. 
must the rebel hosts have been arrayed. Then suddeulj 
the trumpets blew. The cry of St. George went tip on tk 
King's part — and that cry was answered by Esperancd Peitr 
By Heaven, the tale moves me like the old song of Percy 
and Douglas !' 

* Here is a theme for the players. Write the tragedy t^ 
Hotspur, Philip.' 

* Nonsense. What could I do with it, even if I were* 
maker ? The story begins with the deposition of Bichani 
It is an epic, and not a ti*agedy. And yet, Fulke, when I 
see the efifect these acted historiesproduce upon the people- 
I am tempted, in spite of Aristotle, to wish that gome t^ 
poet would take in hand our country's annals. The teack 
ing of our day is taking that form. The Players are tk 
successor of the Bards.' 

* What a character is that young Harry of Monmouth- 
the profligate and the hero ! Something might be madeo- 
these contending elements.' 

* Yes, the players would do it bravely. How they wouW 
make him swagger and bully — strike the chief justice ^ 
slaughter the Welshmen. Harry of Monmouth was 
gentleman, and the players could not touch him.' 

* If the stage is to teach the people, surely right teacbei? 
will arise. Look at our preachers. They stir the duIi 
clowns and the sleepy burgesses with passionate eloqueDC< 
and yet they preach as scholars. They never lower thew 



PHILIP SIDNEY AND FULKE GREVILLE. 133 

elves to their audiences. And why should the stage be 
he low thing which we see, when it addresses ike same 
classes ?' 

' There may be a change some day ; but not through any 
heorick about it. England may have her JEschylus — 
vhen the man comes ; perchance in our age — more likely 
vhen all the dust and cobwebs of our semi-barbarism arc 
$wept away — for we are barbarians yet, Greville.' 

' Come, come — ^your fine Italian reading has spoiled you 
for our brave old English. We have poetry in us if we 
would trust to nature. There is the ancient blind crowdor 
that sits at our school-gate, with his ballads of love and 
fvar, which you like as much as I do. Has he no }X)etry to 
tell of? As good, I think, as the sonnets of Master Francis 
Petrarch/ 

' Don't be a heretic, OrevilTe. But see ; the sun is 
sinking behind that bosky hill, from which Hotspur, 
uoking to the east, saw it rise for the last time. We must 
be homeward.' 

* And here, where the chapel-bell is tolling a few priests 
to evensong, forty thousand men were fighting, a century 
and a half ago — for what?' 

' And for the same doubtful cause went on fighting for 
three-quarters of a century. What a sturdy heart must our 
England have to bear these things and yet live !' 

' Times are changed, Philip I Shall we have any civil 
strife in our day ?' 

* Papist and Puritan would like to be at it. But the rule 
of the law is too strong for them. Yet my father says that 
the fighting days will come over again — not for questions 
of sovereign lineage, but of vulgar opinion. The reforms 
of religion have produced sturdy thinkers. There is a 
beast with many" heads called the Commonalty, growing 
stronger every day ; and it is difficult to chain him or pare 
his claws.* 

* Well, well, Philip, we are young politicians, and need 
not trouble our heads yet about such matters. You are 



134 



ONCE UPON A TniE. 



going to Oxford. What will the good mother make of tlc 
— a statesman, a soldier, or a scholar?' 

* Must the characters be separable ? AVhatever I m. 
dear Fulke, I will not shame my ancestry.* 

' And I, dear Philip, will never abate my love for yon. 
and that will keep me honest.' 




^cia-^-i*^^ 






Sidney's Tree. 



( 135 ) 




SHAKSPERE'S FIRST RIDE TO LONDON. 



Two young men, Bichard Burbage and William Shakspei-e, 
* both of one county, and, indeed, almost of one town,' 
may be assumed, without any improbability, to have taken 
their way together towards London, on the occasion when 
one of them went forth for the first time from his native 
home, depressed at parting, but looking hopefully towards 
the issue of his adventure. There would be little said till 
long after the friends had crossed the great bridge at 
Stratford. The eyes of one would be frequently turned 
back to look upon the old spire. Thoughts which un- 
questionably have grown out of some such separation as 
this would involuntarily possess his soul : — 

* How heavy do 1 journey on the way, 
When what I seek — my weary travers end — 
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say, 
** Thus fiir the miles are measured from thy fneud !" 



136 ONCE UPOX A TIME. 

The beast that bears me, tired with my woe. 
Plods dully on to bear that weight in me, 
As if by some instinct the wretch did know 
His rider lov'd not speed, being made from thee/* 

The first stages of this journey would offer little inter^t 
to the travellers. Having passed Long Compton, ane 
climbed the steep range of hills that divide Warwickshii*^ 
from Oxfordshire, weary stretches of barren downs wtmld 
present a novel contrast to the fertility of Shakspere's owi 
county. But after a few miles the scene would change: a 
noble park would stretch out as far as the eye could reach- 
rich with venerable oaks and beeches, planted in tlie reign 
of Henry I. — the famous park of Woodstock. The poet 
would be familiar with all the interesting associations d 
this place. Here was Kosamond Clifford secluded from the 
e3'es of the world by her bold and accomplished royal lover. 
Here dwelt Edward III. Here, more ' interesting thio 
either fact, Chaucer wrote some of his early poems — 

* Within a lodge out of the way, 
Beside a well in a fore6t.*t 

And here, when he retired from active life, he composed his 
immortal 'Canterbury Tales.' Here was the Ladv 
Elizabeth a prisoner, almost dreading death, only a year ci 
two before she ascended the throne. Here, * hearing npoo 
a time out of her garden a certain milkmaid aingisg 
pleasantly, she wished herself to be a milkmaid as she w»»: 
saying that her case was better, and life more merrier, than 
was hers in that state as she was.'J The travellers aesui^dly 
visited the palace which a few years after Hentznerdeagribeii 
as abounding in magnificence; and near a spring of the 
brightest water they would have viewed all that was left of 
the tomb of Rosamond, with her rhyming epitaph, the pixH 
duction, probably, of a later age : — 

* Hie jacet in tombA Rosaraundi non Rosamundh, 
Non redolet sed olet, qua redolere solet.' 

♦ Sonnet 50. f Chaucer's * Dream.' % Holinahed. 



shakspere's FiRsrr ride to London. 137 

The earliest light of the next morning would Bee the 
companiona on their way to Oxford ; and an hour's riding 
would lodge them in the famous hostelry of the Corn- 
Market, the Crown. Aubrey tells us that ' Mr. William 
Shakespeare was wont to go into Warwickshire once a year, 
and did commonly in his journey lie at this house in Oxon, 
where he was exceedingly respected.** The poet's first 
journey may have determined his subsequent habit of 
resting at this house. It is no longer an inn. But one 
who possessed a true enthusiasm, Thomas Warton, described 
it in the last century, in the belief * that Shakspeare's old 
hostelry at Oxford deserves no less respect than Chaucer's 
Tabard at Southwark.' He says, ' As to the Crown Inn, it 
still remains an inn, and is an old decayed house, but 
probably was once a principal inn in Oxford. It is directly 
in the road from Stratford to London. In a large upper 
room, which seems to have been a sort of hall for enter- 
taining a large company, or for accommodating (as was the 
custom) different parties at once, there was a bow window, 
with three pieces of excellent painted glass.* We have 
ample materials for ascertaining what aspect Oxford 
presented for the first time to the eye of Shakspere. The 
ancient castle, according to Hentzner, was in ruins ; but 
the elegance of its private buildings, and the magnificence 
of its public ones, filled this traveller with admiration. So 
uoble a place, raised up entirely for the encouragement of 
learning, would excite in the young poet feelings that were 
strange and new. He had wept over the ruins of religious 
houses ; but here was something left to give the assurance 
that there was a real barrier against the desolations of force 
and ignorance. A deep regret might pass through his 
mind that he had not availed himself of the opening which 
waa presented to the humblest in the land, here to mako 
himself a ripe and good scholar. Oxford was the patrimony 
of the people ; and he, one of the people, had not claimed 
his birthright. He was set out upon a doubtful adventure ; 

♦ Life of D'Avenant. 



138 OXCE UPON A TlilE. 

the persons with whom he was to be associa^d had no mk 
in society, — they were to a certain extent despised ; iheT 
were the servants of a luxurious court, and, what was soik- 
times worse, of a tasteless public. But, on the other band, 
as he paused before Balliol College, he must have recollecte*: 
what a fearful tragedy was there acted some thirty yea.'s 
before. AVas he sure that the day of persecution fcr 
opinions was altogether past? Men were still dispntiiii 
everywhere around him ; and the slighter the difference 
between them, the more violent their zeal. They wwf 
furious for or against certain ceremonial observances; sc 
that they appeared to forget that the object of all devotiou! 
forms was to make the soul approach nearer to the Fonsr 
tain of wisdom and goodness, and that He could not K 
approached without love and charity. The spirit of lovc 
dwelt in the inmost heart of this young man. It was k 
after times to diffuse itself over writings which enteiBd th 
minds of the loftiest and the humblest, as an auxiliary tv 
that higher teaching which is too often foi^otten in the 
turmoil of the world. His intellect would at any rate Ik 
free in the course which was before him. Much of tbc 
knowledge that he had acquired up to this period was self- 
taught ; but it was not the less full and accurate. He h»i 
ranged at his will over a multitude of books,^^idIe reading, 
no doubt, to the systematic and professional student ; but, 
if weeds, weeds out of which he could extract honey. Tht 
subtile disputations of the schools, as they were then con- 
ducted, were more calculated, as he had heard, to call fortL 
a talent for sophistry than a love of truth. Falaehool 
might rest upon logic, for the perfect soundness of the con* 
chision might hide the rottenness of the premises. He 
entered the beautiful Divinity Schools, and there too be 
found that the understanding was more trained to dispute 
than the whole intellectual being of man to reverence. He 
would pursue his own course with a cheerful spirit, nothing 
doubting that, whilst he worked out his own happiness, k 
might still become an instrument of good to his fellow men. 
And 3'et did the young man reverence Oxford, because he 



shakspere's first ride to LONDOX. 139 

everenced letters as opposed to illiteracy. He gave his 
estimony to the worth of Oxford at a distant day, when 
ie lield that the great glory of Wolsey was to have founded 
Jhristchurch ; — 

' He was n scholar, and a ripe and good one : 
Exceeding wise, fair spoken, and persuading; — 
].ofty and sour to them that loved him not ; 
Bnt, to thoae men that sought him, sweet as summer. 
And though he were unsatisHed in getting, 
(Which was a sin), yet, in bestowing, madam, 
He was most princely. Ever witness for him 
Those twins of learning that he rais'd in you, 
Ipswich and Oxford; one of which fell with him. 
Unwilling to outlire the good he did it ; 
The other, though unfinished, yet so fimiouH, 
So excellent in art, and still so rising. 
That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue.'* 

The journey from Oxford to London must have occupied 

two days, in that age of had roads and long miles. 

Harrison, in his * Chapter on Thoroughfares' (1586), gives 

us the distances from town to town : Oxford to Whatleie, 

4 miles ; Whatleie to Thetisford, (5 ; Thetisford to Stock- 

ingchurch, 5 ; Stookingchurch to East Wickham, 5 ; East 

Wickham to Baccansfielcl, 5 ; Baccansfield to XJxhridge, 7 

Uxbridge to London, 15. Total, 47 miles. Our modem 

admeasurements give 54. Over this road, then, in many 

parts a picturesque one, would the two friends from 

Stratford take their course. They would fare well and 

cheaply on the road. Harrison tells us, ' Each comer is 

sure to lie in clean sheets, wherein no man hath been 

lodged since they came from the laundress, or out of the 

water wherein they were last washed. If the traveller 

have a horse his bed doth cost him nothing, but if he go on 

foot he is sure to pay a penny for the same. But whether 

he be horseman or footman, if his chamber be once appointed 

he may caiTy the key with him, as of his own house, so 

long as he lodgeth there. If he lose aught whilst he 

• Henry Vm. Act i., Scene 1. 



140 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

abidetli in the inn, the host is bound by a general cnst^'tii 
to restore the damage, so that there is no greater secnn:} 
anywhere for travellers than in the greatest inns r. 
England.' 

On the evening of the fourth day after their departriTt 
from home would the young wayfarers, accustomed i 
fatigue, reach London. They would see only fields a*.: 
hedge-rows, leading to the hills of Hampstead and Highpi : 
on the north of the road, and to Westminster on the st»u'L 
They would be wholly in the country, with a long line :* 
road before them, without a house, at the spot which no«". 
although bearing the name of a lane — ^Park Lane — is one t 
the chosen seats of fashion. Here Burbage would point or- 
to his companion the distant roofs of the Abbey and tl- 
Hall of Westminster ; and nearer would stand St. Jame^*- 
Palace, —a solitary and somewhat gloomy building. TIk j 
would ride on through fields till they came very near ti-^ 
village of St. Giles's. Here, turning from* their eastef.' 
direction to the south, they would pass through meado^v 
with the herd quietly grazing under the evening sun ii 
one enclosure, and the laundress collecting her bleaehe: 
linen in another. They are now in St. Martin's Lase ; 
and the hum of population begins to be hqard. The inn b 
the Strand receives their horses, and they take boat ^' 
Somerset Place. Then bursts upon the young stranger ^ 
full conception of the wealth and greatness of that city cf 
which he has heard so much, and imagined so much mon- 
Hundreds of boats are upon the river. Here and there a 
stately barge is rowed along, gay with streamers and rich 
liveries ; and the sound of music is heard from its deck«, 
and the sound is repeated from many a beauteous gaidei 
that skirts the water's edge. He looks back upon the 
cluster of noble buildings that form the Palace of 
Westminster. York Place and the spacious Savoy briog 
their historical recollections to his mind. He loob 
eastward, and there is the famous Temple, and the Palace 
of Bridewell, and Baynard's Castle. Above all these rises 
up the majestic spire of Paul's. London Bridge, that 



SH^KSP£B£*S FIRST RIDE TO LONDOX. 141 

I'onder of the world, now showiB its picturesque turrets and 
tiultitudinons arches ; and in the distance is seen the 
[*ower of London, fu]l of grand and solemn associations. 
The boat rests at the Blackfri^rs. In a few minutes they 
re threading the narrow streets of the precinct; and a 
omfortable house affords the weary youths a cheerful 
velcome. 



1 42 ONCE UPON A TIME. 



MAY-MORNING : ITS POETRY AND 
ITS PROSF. 

Once upon a Time — it is a quarter of a century ago— I ns^] 
' to have raptures about May-day. I ti-anslated Buchanati'< 
Ode to May ; I read Herrick under the hawthem-trees h 
Windsor Park. On one year, tempted by as "bright a ^ 
and as balmy an air as ever inspired the votaries of sprin: 
in this variable climate, I silently gave myself up to tli 
fascinations of the beauteous budding-time and its ol: 
recollections. I believed in all our ancestors' rapture* 
about May-day, convinced that it was with no effort agaiiL< 
blights and chills that they went out, as old Stow tells ^^. 
on that memorable morning, ^ into the sweet meadows asi 
green woods, there to rejoice their spirits with the beann 
and savour of sweet flowers, and with the harmony of hirl^ 
praising God in their kind.' I then understood, while tl^* 
blue vault was scarcely speckled with a cloud, and tbe 
foliage of the trees put forth its freshest green, and th^ 
hawthorn was budding to prove that the old seasons hd 
not forsaken us, and the thnish was singing over his sittiic 
mate— I then understood the enthusiasm of one of our oM 
rural poets :— 

* Get up, pet up, for slmme ! the blooming Morn 
Upon her wings preaentA the god unshorn ; 

i^ee how Aurom throws her fair 

Fre»h-<iuilt«d coloura through the air. 

Get up, sweet shig-A-l)ed ! and see 

The dew bespangling hei'b and tree ; 
Kacli flower has wept, and bow'd townrd^t the csist 
Above an hour since, yet you not drest ; 

Nay, not bo much as out of bed, 

When all the birds have matins said. 



MAY-MORNING: ITS POETRY AND ITS PROSE. 143 

And sung their thankful hymns; — 'Us iiin, 

Nay, profanation, to keep in ; 
Wheu as a thousand virgins on this day 
Spring sooner than the lark to fetch in May.' 

It was in that happy season that I rubbed up, for tho 
first time, some of the antiquarianism of May-day. The 
formal Mr. Bourne, who coquetted with old customs by 
diligently recording them with a pious abuse of their 
heathenish vanities, says^-* On the cdends, or the first day 
of May, commonly called May-day, the juvenile part of 
both sexes were wont to rise a little after midnight, and 
walk to some neighbouring wood, accompanied with music 
and the blowing of horns ; where they break down branches 
from the trees, and adorn them with nosegays and crowns 
of flowers, \Vhen this is done they return with their 
booty homewards, about the rising of the sun, and make 
their doors and windows to triumph in the flowery spoil. 
The after-part of the day is chiefly spent in dancing round 
a tall pole, which is called a May-pole ; which, being placed 
in a convenient part of the village, stands there, as it were, 
consecrated to the goddess of flowers, without the least 
violation offered it in the whole circle of the year. And 
this is not the custom of the British common people only, 
but it is the custom of the generality of other nations; 
jmrticularly of the Italians, where Polydore Vergil tells us 
the youth of both sexes were accustomed to go into the flelds 
on tho calends of May, and bring thence tho bmnches of 
trees, singing all the way as they came, and so place them 
on the doors of tlieir houses. — This is the relic of an ancient 
custom among the heathen, who observed the four last days 
of April, and the first of May, in honour of the goddess 
Flora, who was imagined the deity presiding over the fruit 
and flowers.' 

The solemnities of the May-pole are thus described by 
Browne in his Britannia's PastOials : — 

* As I have seen the Lady of the ^fay 
Set in an arbour — 

Built by tlie May-pole, where the jocund swains 
Dance with the maidens to the bagi>ipe*s strains— 



144 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

When envioiu Nii^ht commands them to be gone. 

Call for the roeiTV youngsters one hj one, 

And for their well perfomifuice soon disposes. 

To this, a garbnd interwore with roses ; 

To that, a carved hook, or weU-wrooght scrip ; 

Gracing another with a cherry lip : 

To one her garter ; to another then 

A handkerchief cast o'er and o'er agen ; 

And none retameth empty that hath spent 

His pains to fill their rural merriment.' 

The Puritaiifl waged war with the May-poles, and mdee«t 
with all those indications of a full-hearted simplicity whicl 
were the echo of the universal harmony of Nature. Tbt 
May-poles never held up their heads after the civil wars. 
The * strait-laced * exulted in their fall, but we believe th? 
people were neither wiser nor happier for their removal :— 

* Happy the age, and hamile^ were the days. 
For then true love and amity were found, 
VVlien every tillage did a May-pole mise, 
And Whitsun aJes and May-games did abound ; 
And all the lusty younkers in a rout, « 

With merry lasses danced the rod about ; 
Then Friendship to the banquet bid the guests. 
And poor men tared the better for their feasts. 
Alas, poor May-poles ! what should be the caa<« 
That you were almost benish'd from the earth. 
Who never were rebellious to the laws? 

Vonr greatest crime was honest, harmless mii-th.' 

But the sports of May were not confined to the villages. 
Even the goi^eous pomp of the old Courts did not disdain to 
boiTOW a fragrance and refshness from the joys of the people. 
Hall, the historian, gives us an account of * Henry the Eij^hth's 
riding a-Maying from Greenwich to the high ground of 
Shooter's-hill, with Queen Katharine his wife, accompanied 
with many lords and ladies.' The good people of London in 
those days were not ashamed to let in a little of the light of 
creation upon their mercantile pursuits. Stow teUs us, * In 
the month of May, the citizens of London (of all estates), 
lightly in every parish, or sometimes two or three parishes 
joining together, had their several Mayings, and did fetch 



MAY-MORNIKG : ITS POETRY AND ITS PROSE. 145 

n May-poles with divers warlike shows, with good archers, 
aorrioe-dancers, and other djevices for pastime all the day 
on^ ; and towards the evening they had stage-plaies, and 
jone-fires in the streets.' — * The gi'atulation of the spring- 
cason ' has no more a place amongst us ; the leaves and 
he flowers come without a • Hail !' from the court, the city, 
)r the village. 

There came another season — a cold wet time — and I was 
>ut of humour with May. I wrote disparagingly of the 
>f ten-echoed tones of that innocent flock who frisk about in 
tlie sunshine of our north-east blights, and resolve to be 
Arcadian with a temperature of 60°. I will do penance 
for my heresies by showing how inconsistent one may be 
under ' skyey influences :' — 

In despite of our friends Shakspere and Fletcher, and of 
him who did more than all of them to make May poetical, 
ITerrick, I am constrained to assert, that never yet was 
May -day celebrated in such a pure spirit of pastoral inno- 
cence as might be advantageously revived in these degene- 
rate times. I fear that during the last three hundred years 
it was never the good fortune of any gallant to go a-Maying 
before daybreak with-any young ladies of very scrupulous 
virtue ;— and I am not quite sure that Jack in the Green 
was ever enacted by any higher description of persons than 
the ragged boys of the village, whose enthusiasm for an 
eleemosynary penny was somewhat greater than their love 
of ' green fields ' and * blue skies.' I am afraid there has 
never been any great deal of practical poetry in England ; 
—and I grieve to think that May-day was not often dis- 
tinguished by a more refined spirit than the promiscuous 
gaiety of Greenwich fair ; and that the homage to nature 
which the lads and lasses of ancient times got up for the 
occasion was not quite so amusing to the world at large, 
and certainly not more edifying, than that of the chimney- 
sweepers. 

To carry my prosaic belief no farther back than the 
romantic days of the Sidneys and R^leighs, let me picture 



146 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

a dance round the May-pole, at which Elizabeth was ipres&r^ 
The scene Windsor. Het most gracious Majesty is bosiij 
employed in brushing up her Latin and her Castle at tk 
same time — doing Hoi-ace's * Art of Poetry ' into execrabl: 
rhymes, and building private staircases for the Esii i 
Leicester. Her employment and the season make h: 
aspire to be poetical. She resolves to see the May-dij 
sports ; and, sallying forth from the Castle, takes a ^^ 
cut, with few attendants, through the lawn which lay befj? 
the South Gate, to the fields near the entrance of Wind*- 
town. The May-pole stands close by the spot vrhere s:3? 
commences the Long Walk. The crowd make obeequir.* 
way for their glorious Queen, and the sports, at her er^- 
mand, go uninterruptedly forward. The group is indeed, 
most motley one. The luxuries of a white cotton go^* 
were then unknown, and even her Majesty's experience >: 
knitted hose was very limited. The girls frisk aw 
therefore, in their gray kirtles of linsey-woolsey, and tbti* 
yellow stockings of coarse broadcloth ; the lads are soxbi- 
what fuddled and rather greasy, and a whole garment is i 
considerable distinction. The Queen of the May is co:i- 
manded to approach. She has a tolerable garland of viole^ 
and primroses, but a most unprepossessing visage, pimp]^*: 
with exercise or ale. * And so, my dainty maiden,' sap 
her Majesty, * you are in love with Zephyr, and hawthor 
bushes, and morning devr, and wendest to the fields er 
Phoebus gilds the drifted clouds.' * Please your Majestr. 
says the innocent, ' I*m in love with Tom Larkin, the banc 
some fieshmonger, and a pretty dressing my mother ^11 gir 
me for ganging a-Maying in the gray of the momicz 
There's queer work for lasses amongst these rakehellie^ 
please your Majesty.' Elizabeth suddenly turns with i 
frown to her lord in waiting, and hurries back as if she b^i 
pricked her finger with a May-bush. 



( H7 ) 



AMATEURS AND ACTORS. 

It the close of the year 1587, and the opening, according 
o our new style, of 1588, *the Qiieen*s Majesty being at 
xreenwich, there were showed, presented, and enacted 
)efore her Highness, betwixt Christmas and Shrovetide, 
even plays, besides feats of activity and other shows, by 
he children of Paul's, her Majesty's own servants, and the 
gentlemen of Gray's Inn, on whom was employed divers 
emnants of cloth of gold and other stuff out of the store.' 
such is the record of the accounts of the revels at court. 
)f the seven plays performed by the children of Paul's and 
he Queen's servaixts there is no memorial ; but we learn 
rem the title of a book of uncommon rarity of what nature 
wore the 'Certaine Devises and Shewes presented Her 
Majestic by the Gentlemen of Grayes Inne, at her Highnesse 
Court in Greenwich, the twenty-eighth day of Februarie, 
in the thirtieth year of her Majestie's most happy raigne.' * 
The * Misfortunes of Arthur, Uther Pendi-agon's son,' was 
the theme of these devices and shows. It was * reduced 
into tragical notes by Thomas Hughes, one of the society of 
Gray's Inn.' It was 'set down as it passed from under his 
hands, and as it was presented, excepting certain words 
Mnd lines, where some of the actors either helped their 
memories by brief omissions, or fitted their acting by 
alteration.' , 

Thomas Hughes also tells ns that he has put * a note at 
the end of such speeches as were penned by others, in lieu 
of these hereafter following.' It is pleasant to imagine the 
gentlemen of Gray's Inn sitting over their sack during the 
Christmas of 1587, listening to Thomas Hughes i-eciting 

* A oop7 in the Garrick Collection, in the British Museum. 

l2 



148 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

his doleful tragedy, cutting out a speech here, adding scs^ 
thing wondrously telling there ; the most glib of tocgs- 
modestly declining to accept the part of Arthur the bss. 
and expressing his content with Mordred the usurper; i 
beardless student cheerfully agreeing to wear tlie robes i 
Guenevra the queen, and a gray-headed elder undertakiv 
the ghost of the Duke of Cornwall. A perfect play it is. - 
every accessory of a play can render it perfect ; for ever 
act has an argument, and every argument a duuib<sk>v 
and every dumb-show a chorus. Here is indeed an ampl- 
field for ambitious members of the honourable socierrt 
contribute their devices; and satisfactory it is that tfc 
names of some of his fellow-labourers in this elaborate vot^ 
have been preserved to us by the honour-giving Thoa* 
Hughes. ' The dumb-shows and additional speeches wer* 
partly devised by William Fulbeck, Francis Flows 
Christopher Yelverton, Francis Bacon, John Lancaster, ai- 
others, who with Master Penroodock and Lancaster directv 
these proceedings at Court.' Precious is this record. T:- 
salt that preserves it is the one name of Francis Bac\>- 
Bacon, in 1588, was Keader of Gray's Inn. To the deric-r 
and shows of Hughes's tragedy — accompaniments thi: 
might lessen the tediousness of its harangues, and scatier - 
little beauty and repose amongst its scenes of crime ^^ 
murder — Bacon would bring something of that hid: 
poetical spirit which gleams out at every page of his PIil- 
sophy. Nicholas Trotte, gentleman, penned the introdm 
tion, ' which was pronounced in manner following, namelj. 
three Muses came upon the stage apparelled accordingly 
bringing five genllemen-students attired in their usr- 
garments, whom one of the Muses presented to her Majesr 
as captives.' But the dresses, the music, the dancing t 
song, were probably directed by the tasteful mind vb 
subsequently wrote, * These things are but toj's ; but TtJ. 
since princes will have such things, it is better that tk.^ 
should be graced with elegancy than daubed with cost.'' 

* Of Masques and Triumphs. — Essay 37. 



AMATEURS AND ACTORS. 149 

Tnder the roof, then, of the old palace at Greenwich — the 
>alace which Humphrey of Gloucester is said to have built, 
lid where Elizabeth was bom— are assembled the gentle- 
uen of Gray's Inn and the Queen's players. The two 
aaster-spirits of their time — amongst Uie very greatest of 
kU time — are there. Francis Bacon, the lawyer, and 
kVilliam Shakspere, the actor, are unconscious each of the 
^eatness of the other. The difference of their rank 
;)robably prevents that communication which might have 
;old each something of the other's power. Master Penroo- 
lock and Master Lancaster may perhaps solicit a little of the 
professional advice of Burbage and his men ; and the other 
gentlemen who penned the dumb-shows may have assisted 
it the conference. A flash of wit from William Shakspere 
may have won a smile from the Header of Gray's Inn ; 
stnd he ma J have dropped a scrap of that philosophy which 
is akin to poetry, so as to make the young actor reverence 
him more highly than as the son of Elizabeth's former 
honest Lord Keeper. But the signs of that freemasonry by 
which great minds know each other could scarcely be ex- 
changed.^ They would go their several ways, the one to 
tempt the perils and the degradation of ambition, and to 
find at last a refuge in philosophy ; the other to be content 
with a well-earned c6mpetence, and gathering amidst petty 
strifes and jealousies, if such could disturb him, something 
more than happiness in the culture of that wondrous imagi- 
nation which had its richest fruits in his own unequalled 
cheerful wisdom. 

Elizabeth, the Queen, is now in her fifty- fifth year. She 
is ten years younger than when Paul Hentzner described 
her, as he saw her surrounded with her state in this same 
palace. The wrinkles of her face, oblong and fair, were 
perhaps not yet very marked. Her small black eyes, ac- 
cording to the same authority, were pleasant even in her 
age. The hooked nose, the narrow lips, and the discoloured 
teeth, were perhaps less noticeable when Shakspere looked 
upon her in his early days. The red hair was probably not 
false, as it afterwards was. The small hand and the white 



150 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

fingers were remarkable enough of themselves, but, spaik- 
ling with rings and jewels, the eye rested upon them. Ttr 
3'oung poet, who has been lately sworn her servant, Ibj 
stood in the backward ranks of the presenoe-chamber, u 
see his dread mistress pass to chapel. The room is throngtc 
with counsellors and courtiers. The inner doois sr: 
thrown open, and the gentlemen -pensioners, bearing thfcr 
gilt battle-ases, appear in long file, llie great officers f 
the household and ministers of state are marsfaalkd b 
advance. The procession moves. When the Queen append. 
sudden and frequent are the genuflexions : ' Whenever ^J* 
turned her face as she was going along, every body fel 
down upon their knees.' But she is gracious, accoidiic 
to the same authority : ' Whoever speaks to her it is kn«i- 
ing; now and then she raises some with her hand.* A.- 
she moves into the ante-chapel loud are theshonts of' Loit: 
live Queen Elizabeth !' The service is soon ended, aii 
then to dinner. While reverence has been paid to * tb 
only Buler of Princes,' forms as reverent in their ontwird 
appearance have been offered even to the very place where 
the creature-comforts of our every-day life are to be sene*! 
up to majesty. Those who cover the table with the doth 
kneel three times with the utmost veneration ; so do tbc 
bearers of the salt-cellar, of the plate, and of the breac. 
A countess, dressed in white silk, prosti'ates herself with 
the same reverence before the plate, which she rubs with 
bread and salt. The yeomen of the guard enter, bearing 
the dishes, and the lady in white silk, with her tasting- 
knife, presents a portion of each dish to the lips of th^ 
yeomen, not in courtesy but in suspicion of poison. The 
bray of trumpets and the clang of kettle-drums nng through 
the hall. The Queen is in her inner-chamber ; and (he 
dishes are borne in by ladies of honour with silent solemnitr. 
When the Queen has eaten the ladies eat. Brief is the 
meal on this twenty-eighth of February, for the hall mns: 
be cleared for the play. 

The platform in the hall at Greenwich, which was to 
resound with the laments of Arthur, was constructed by a 



AMATEURS AKD ACTORS. 151 

limning workman, so as to be speedily erected and taken 
lown. It was not so substantial an affair as the * great 
stage, containing the breadth of the church from the one side 
ro the other/ that was built in the noble chapel of King's 
'oUege, Cambridge, in 1564, for the representation before 
the Queen of a play of Plautus. Probably in one particular 
the same arrangement was pursued at Greenwich as at 
( 'ainbridge on that occasion : * A multitude of the guard 
had every man in his hand a torch-staff; and the guard 
stood upon the ground by the stage-side holding their 
lights.' But there would be some space between the stage 
and the courtly audience. Kaised above the rushes would 
the Queen sit upon her chair of state. Around her would 
stand her honourable maids. Behind, the eager courtiers 
-with the ready smile when majesty vouchsafed to be 
pleased. Amongst them is the handsome captain of the 
^ard, the tall and bold Ealeigh, — he of the high forehead, 
long face, and small piercing eye.* His head is ever and 
anon inclined to the chair of Elizabeth. He is * as good as 
a chonis,' and he can tell more of the story than the induc- 
tion * penned by Nicholas Trotte, gentleman.' He has need, 
however, to tell little as the play proceeds. The plot does 
not unravel itself; the incidents arise not clearly and 
naturally ; but some worthy person amongst the characters' 
every now and then infoims the audience, with extreme 
politeness, and with the most praiseworthy completeness 
of detail, eveiything that has happened, and a good deal of 
what will happen ;. and thus the unities of time and place 
are preserved according to the ipost approved rules, and Mr. 
Thomas Hughes eschews the offences which were denounced 
by the lamented Sir Philip Sidney, of having 'Asia of the 
one side, and Africa of the other, and so many other king- 
doms that the player when he comes in must ever begin with 
telling where he is, or else the tale will not be conceived.'f 
The author of the ' Misfortunes of Arthur ' avoids this by 

* * He had a most remarkable aspect, an exceeding high forehead, long- 
faced, and soar eye-Udded — a kind of pig-eye.' — Aubrey. 
t Defenoe of Poesy. 



152 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

the somewhat drowsy method of substituting the epic i^- 
rative for the dramatic action. The Queen whispen u 
Baleigh that the regular players are more amusing. 

A day or two passes on, and her Majesty again wvct^ 
diversion. She bends her mind manfully to public a^i^. 
and it is a high and stirring time ; but, if it only betoshcv 
her calmness to her people, she will not forego her ac- 
customed revels. Her own players are sent for ; and tk 
summons is hasty and peremptory for some fitting novelty. 
Will the comedy which young Shakspere has written for tL? 
Blackfriars, and which has been already in rehearsal, k 
suited for the court ? The cautious sagacity of old BorUgt 
is willing to jonfide in it. Without attempting too cIom: 
an imitation of court manners, its phrases he oonceiTtt: 
are refined, its lines are smooth. There are some sliglt 
touches of satire, at which it bethinks him the Queen will 
laugh ; but there is nothing personal, for Don Armado is t 
Spaniard. The verse, he holds, sounds according to. tli" 
right stately fashion in the opening of the play : — 

* Let fame, thnt all hunt after in their lives, 
Live ietji»ter'd upoa our brazen tombs.' 

The young poet is a little licentious, however, in tbt 
management of his vei*se as he proceeds; he has not 
Marlowe's lofty cadences, which roll out so nobly from the 
full mouth. But the lad will mend. Truly he has a comic 
vein. If Kempe takes care to utter what is put down for 
him in Costard, her Majesty will forget poor Tarleton. 
And then the compliments to the ladies : — 

* They are the books, the arts, the academes. 
That show, contain, and nourish all the world.' 

Elizabeth will take the compliments to herself. The yomigi 
man's play shall be * preferred.' 

It is a bright sparkling morning — ' the first mild day of 
March' — as the Queen's barge waits for Burbage and his 
fellows at the Blackfriars Stairs. They are soon floating 
down the tide. Familiar as that scene now is to him» 
William Shakspere cannot look upon it without wonder 



AMATEURS AND ACTORS. 153 

Lud elation of heart. The venerable Bridge, with ita 
lundred legends and traditions ; the Tower, where scenes 
lave been acted that haunt his mind, and must be embodied 
lome day for the people's instruction. And now, verses, 
ionie of which he has written in the quiet of his beloved 
Stratford, characters that he has drawn from the stores of 
liis youthful olj^rvation, are to be presented for the amuse - 
xxent of the Queen. But, with a most modest estimate of 
[lis own powers, he is sure that he has heard some very in- 
iiflferent poetry, which nevertheless has won the Queen's 
approbation, with many jokes, at which the Queen has 
laughed, that scarcely have seemed to him fitting for 
royal ears. If his own verges are not listened to, perhaps 
tbe liveliness of his little Moth may command a smile. At 
any rate there will be some show in his pageant of the 
Nine Worthies. He will meet the issue courageously. 

The Queen's players have now possession of the platform 
in the hall. Burbage has ample command of tailors, and 
of stuff out of the store. Pasteboard and buckram are at 
his service in abundance. The branches are garnished, the 
arras is hung. The Queen and her court are seated, 
liut the experiment of the new play soon ceases to be a 
doubtful one. Those who can judge, and the Queen is 
amongst the number, listen with eagerness to something 
different to the feebleness of the pastoral and mythological 
stories to which they have been accustomed. ' The 
summer's nightingale '* himself owns that a real poet has 
arisen, where poetry was scarcely looked for. The Queen 
commands that rewards, in some eyes more precious than 
the accustomed gloves, should be bestowed upon her 
players. , Assuredly tjie delightful comedy of ' Love's 
Labour's Lost,' containing as it does in every line the 
evidence of being a youthful work, was very early one of 

those 

' Flights upon the banks of Thames 
That so did take Eliza.' 



* lUleigh is so called by Sjpcnser, 



154 ONCE UPON A TIME. 




Ben Jonson. 



BEN JONSON'S MOTHER. 

In Hartshorn Lane, near Charing Cross, about the ve^r 
1580, dwells Mr. Thomas Fowler, a master bricklayer. Be 
had married, in 1575, Mrs. Margaret Jonson, a widow > aoJ 
had become the protector of her little boy, Benjamin, tten 
about a year and a half old. 

Benjamin is now in his sixth year. He duly attends the 
parish school in St. Martin's Church ; for his father was *« 
grave minister of the gospel,' and his mother is anxiou? 
that her only child, poor although he must be, shall lack no 
advantages of education. We see the sturdy boy daily 
pacing to school through the rough and miry way of ^a- 
half-rural district. In his play-hours he ia soon in the 
fields, picking blackberries in Hedge Lane, or flying hi* 
kite by the Windmill in Saint Giles's. His father-in-law is 
a plain, industrious, trusty man,— not rich enough to under 
take any of the large works which the luxurious wants of 



BEN JOXSON's mother^ 155 

le town present ; and ofttimes interfered with, in the due 
>ui'8e of his labour, by royal proclamations against the 
Lcrease of houses, which are rigidly enforced when a 
iimble man desires to build a cot^ge. But young Ben has 
>\irLcl friends. To the parish school sometimes comes 
Taster Camden ; and he observes the bold boy, always at 
ne Head of his class, and not unfrequently having his * clear 
ncl fair skin ' disfigured by combats with his dirty com- 
panions, who litter about the alleys of Saint Martin's 
^ane. The boy has won good Master Camden's heart ; and 
o, in due time, he proposes to remove him to Westminster 
jchool. 

Let us look at the Shadow of his Mother, as she debates 
his question with her husband, at their frugal supper. 
The boy must earn his living,' says the bricklayer. * He 
s stTong enough to be of help to me. He can mix the 
nortar ; he will soon be able to carry the hod. Learning ! 
itufif ! he has had learning enow, for all the good it will do 
him.' — * Thomas Fowler,' renponds the mother, ' if I wear 
my fingers to the bone, my boy shall never carry the hod. 
Master Camden, a good man, and learned, will pay for his 
schooling. Shall we not give him his poor meals and his 
pallet-bed ? Master Camden says he will make his way. 
I owe it to the memory of him who is gone, that Benjamin 
shall be a scholar and perhaps a minister.' — * Yes ; and be 
persecuted for his opinions, as his father was. These are 
ticklish times, Margaret — the lowest are the safest. Ben 
is passionate, and obstinate, and will quarrel for a straw. 
Make him a scholar, and he becomes Papist or Puritan — 
the quiet way is not for the like of him. He shall be ap- 
prenticed to me, wife, and earn his daily bread safely and 
honestly.' Night after night is the debate renewed. But 
the mother triumphs. Ben does go to Westminster School. 
He has hard fare at home ; he has to endure many a taunt 
as he sits apart in the Abbey cloisters, intent upon his task. 
But Camden is his instructor and his friend. The brick- 
layer's boy fights his way to distinction. 
Look again at the Shadow of that proud Mother as, after 



156 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

three or four anrious years, she hears of his advanceme&t. 
He has an exhihition. He is to remove to Cambiidge. 
Her Benjamin must be a bishop. Thomas Fowler is in- 
credulous —and he is not generous: *Wlien Benjamii 
leaves this roof he must shift for himself, wife.' Tk 
mother drops one tear when her boy departs ; — the leatheni 
purse which holds her painful savings is in Benjamins 
pocket. 

It is a summer night of 1590, when Benjamin Jonsoc 
M'alks into the poor house of Hartshorn Lane. He i» 
travel- stained and weary. Ilis jerkin is half hidden be- 
neath a dirty cloak. That jerkin, which looked so smart 
in a mother*s eyes when last they parted, is strangelT 
shrunk — or, rather, has not the spare boy grown into * 
burly youth, although the boy's jerkin must still do service "' 
The bricklayer demands his business ; — the wife falls upon 
his neck. And well may the bricklayer know him not 
His face is ' pimpled ;' hard work and irregular living havtf 
left their marks upon him. The exhibition ^has been in- 
sufficient for his maintenance. His spirit has been sorely 
wounded. The scholar of sixteen thinks he should prefer 
the daily bread which is to be won by the labour of his 
hands, to the hunger for which pride has no present solace. 
Benjamin Jonson becomes a bricklayer. 

And now, for two years, has the mother — her hop6£ 
wholly gone, her love only the same — to bear up under the 
burden of conflicting duties. The young man duly works 
at the most menial tasks of his business. He has won his 
way to handle a trowel ; — but he is not comfortable in all 
things. ' Wife,' says Thomas Fowler, ' that son of yours 
will never prosper. Cannot he work, — and cannot he eat 
his meals, — without a Greek book in his vest ? This veir 
noon must he seat himself, at dinner-hour, in the shade of 
the wall in Chancery Lane, on which he had been labouring : 
and then comes a reverend Bencher and begins discourse 
with him ; and Ben shows him his book— and they talk as 
if they wei*e equal. Margaret, he is too gi-and for me ; he 



BEX JOXSON*S MOTHER, 1 57 

is above his trade.' — ' Shame on ye, hushand ! Docs he not 
^vo^k, honestly and deftly ? and will you grudge him his 
books ?' — * He haunts the playhouses ; he sits in the pit — 
and cracks nuts — and hisses or claps hands, in a way quite 
unbeseeming a bricklayer's apprentice. Margaret, I fear 
lie will come to no good.' One night there is a fearful 
quarrel. It is late when Benjamin returns home. In 
silence and darkness, the son and mother meet. She is 
resolved. * Benjamin, my son, my dear son, we will endure 
this life no longer. There is a sword ; — it was j'our grand- 
father's. A gentleman wore it; a gentleman shall still 
wear it. Go to the Low Countries. Volunteers are called 
for. There is an expedition to Ostend. Take with you 
tbese few crowns, and God prosper you,' 

Another year, and Benjamin's campaign is ended. At 
the hearth in Hartshorn Lane sits Margaret Fowler — in 
solitude. There will be no more strife about her son. 
Death has settled the- controversy. Margaret is very poor. 
Her trade is unprosperous ; for the widow is defrauded by 
her servants. ' Mother, there is my grandfather's sword 
— it has done service ; and, now, 1 will work for you.' — 
' How, my son ?' — ' I will be a bricklayer again.' We see 
the Shadow of the Mother, as she strives to make her son 
content. He has no longer * the lime and mortar ' hands 
with which it was his after-fate to be reproached ; but he 
bestows the master's eye upon his mother's workmen. Yet 
he has houra of leisure. There is a chamber in the old 
house now filled with learned books. He reads, and he 
writes, as his own pleasure dictates. ' Mother,' he one day 
Hays, * I wish to marry.' — * Do so, my son ; bring your wife 
home ; we will dwell together.' So a few years roll on. He 
and his wife weep 

* Mary, the daughter of tlieir youth.* 

But there is an event approaching which sets aside sorrow. 
* Daughter,' says the ancient lady, ' we must to the Rose 
Playhouse to-night. There is a new play to be acted, and 



168 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

tliat play is Benjamin^s.' — * Yes, mother, lie has had diref^ 
moneys already. Not much, I wot, seeing the labour be 
has given to this " Comedy of Humours " — five*8hilling6,ai^ 
ten shillings, and, once,a pound.' — ' No matter, daughter, k^ 
will be famous : I always knew he would be famous.' A 
calamity clouds that fame. The play-writer has quarrels 
on every side. In the autumn of 1528, Philip Henslowe, 
the manager of • The Lord Admiral's men,' writes thus fi 
his son-in-law, AUeyn : — * Since you were with me, I ha^ 
lost one of my company, which hurteth me greatly — th*: 
is, Gabriel ; for he is slain in Hogsden Fields, by the haihl» 
of Benjamin Jonson, bricklayer.' Twenty years after, ih 
great dramatist, the laureate thus relates the story t- 
Dnimmond : ' Being appealed to the fields, he had killed 
his adversary, which had him hurt in the arm, and whose 
sword was ten inches longer than his ; for the which he wa> 
imprisoned, and almost at the gallows.' There is the 
proud Shadow of a Roman Matron hovering about his cell 
in those hours when the gallows loomed darkly in the 
future. 

The scholar and the poet has won his fame. Bricklayer 
no longer, Ben is the companion of the illustrious. Shak- 
spere hath ' wit-combats ' with him ; Camden and Selden 
try his metal in learned controversies ; Haleigh, and Beau- 
mont, and Donne, and Fletcher, exchange with him * words 
of subtle flame' at 'The Mermaid.' But a new trouble 
arises — James is come to the throne. Hear Jonson's ac- 
count of a remarkable transaction : — * He was delated bv 
Sir James Murray to the king, for writing sometluBg 
against the Scots, in a play, '' Eastward Ho," and volun- 
tarily imprisoned himself, with Chapman and Marstou. 
who had written it amongst them. The report was, that 
they should then have had their ears cut, and noses.' Ther 
are at length released. We see the shadow of a banquet, 
which the poet gave to his friends in commemoration of hij? 
deliverance. There is a joyous company of immortals at 
that feast. There, too, is that loving and faithful Mother. 
The wine-cups are flowing ; there are song and jest, elo- 



BEX JONSON's MOTHEK. 159 

|uence, and the passionate earnestness with whioh such 
friends speak when the heart is opened. But there is one, 
whose Shadow we now see, more passionate and more 
[tamest than any of that company. She rises, with a fiill 
goblet in her hand : — * Son, I drink to thee. Benjamin, my 
beloved son, thrice I drink to thee. See 'ye this paper ; 
L>ne grain of the subtle drvg which it holds is death. Even 
^is we now pledge each other in rich canary, would I have 
pledged thee in lusty strong poison, had thy sentence taken 
execution. Thy shame would have been my shame, and 
neither of us should have lived after it.* 
' She was no churl,* says Benjamin. 



160 ONCE UPON A TIME. 



ENGLISH POETS IN SCOTLAND. 

I HAVE not hesitated to express a belief that Shaksf*^ 
-visited Scotland in 1601, as one of the company of Engt^t 
players who performed at Aberdeen that year, under tL 
management of Lawrence Fletcher. The question cant* 
be satisfactorily settled ; but in Ihe following paper I Ka^^ 
taken a rapid view of the supposed journey, as an illustri- 
tion of the aspects which Scotland would preset to a^ 
Englishman a little while before the accession of James.* 
In the summer of 1618, Ben Jonson undertook ti? 
extraordinary^ task of travelling to Edinburgh on fc-'* 
Bacon said to him, with reference to his project, * He Iot?-: 
not to see poesy go on other foot than poetical DacnlT-** 
and Spondeeus.'t Jonson seems to have been proud of bis 
exploit ; for in his * News from the New World diseoven'*! 
in the Moon,' a masque, presented at Court in 1620, be 
makes a printer say, * One of our greatest poets (I Vnoxv nvt 
how good a one) went to Edinburgh on foot, and caitt 
back.' According to Drummond he was * to write his f<X'' 
pilgrimage hither, and call it a discovery.' We have b' 
traces of Jonson in this journey, except what we deri^^e 
from the * Conversations with Drummond,* and the notice 
of honest John Taylor, in his ' Pennilesse Pilgrimage :'- 
* I went to Leith, where I found my long-approved ain^ 
assured good friend, Master Benjamin Jonson, at v^ 
Master John Stuart's house.' Jonson remained long enougt 
in Scotland to become familiar with its hospitable people 
and its noble scenery. He wrote a poem, in which he 
called Edinburgh 

* The heart of ScotlaQd, Britain's other eye.* 



* This, and two preceding papers, p. 135 and p. 147, formed chapters in th' 
original edition of * William JShakspere, a Biography;' but were omitt^il f'; 
me in the succeeding editions. f Conversations with Dminmond. 



ENGLISH POETS IN SCOTLAND. 161 

He hath intention,' saith Dmromond, ' to write a fitsher or 
kcistoral play, and set the stage of it in the Lomond Lake/ 
^f ter his return to London he earnestly solicits Drummond, 
>y letter, to send him ' some things concerning the Loch of 
^omond.* We find nothing in Jonson's poetry that gives 
18 an impression that he had caught any inspiration from 
lie country of mountains and lakes. We have no internal 
evidence at all that he had been in Scotland. We have no 
X)ken of the impress of its mountain scenery upon his mind 
3ipproaching to the distinctness of a famous passage in 
Sliakspere— a solitary passage in a poet who rarely indeed 
lebvribes any scenery, but one which could scarcely have 
been writtei^without accurate knowledge of the realities to 
which ' black Vesper's pageants ' have resemblance :— 

' Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish ; 
A vapoar, aometime, like a bear or Lion, 
A tower'd citadel, a pendant rock, 
A forked mountain, pr blue promontory 
With trees upon 't that nod^unto the world 
And mock our eyes with air.'* 

John Taylor, homely as he is, may better enable us to 
trace Shakspere's probable course, assuming that tbe 
journey was undertaken. Taylor, travelling on foot, was 
a week in reaching Lichfield, passing through Coventry. 
He was another week, filling up some time with over-much 
carousing, before he got out of Manchester. Preston 
detained him three days with its jollity ; and it was 
another week before, passing over the hills of Westmoreland, 
he reached Carlisle. Shakspere, setting out on horseback 
from Stratford, would reach Carlisle by easy stages in six 
days. Taylor stops not to describe the merry city. It was 
more to his purpose to enjoy the * good entertainment ' of 
which he there * found store,' than to survey its castle and 
its cathedral; or to look from its elevated points upon 
fertile meadows watered by the Eden or the broad Frith, 
or the distant summits of CrossfeU and Skiddaw. Would 

* Antony and Cleopatra, one of Shakspere's later plays. 

at 



162 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

he had preserved for us some of the ballads that be mis: 
have heard in his revelries, that told of the wondroBs i&if 
of the bold outlaws who lived in the greenwood around 

* Carlisle, in the north counti-ee.' 

Assuredly Shakspere had heard of Adam Bell, tke fea^r 
archer of Inglewood : * He that hits me, let him he clapf^ei 
on the shoulder and called Adam.** It is pleasant t 
believe that some snatches of old minstrelsy might hare 
recreated his solitary journey as he rode near the border- 
land. 

Sir Walter Scott, in the delightful Introduction to hif 
* Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,' says, * The acocssicc 
of James to the English crown converted the extremity iut^ 
the centre of his kingdom.* The Scottish poet would ««£ 
to have borrowed the idea from a very humble Engli^ 
brother of the craft : — 

* For now those crowns are hoth in one combin'd. 
Those former borders that each one confin'd 
Appears to me (as I do understand) 
To be almost the centre of the land : 
This was a blessed heaven-expounded riddle 
To thrust great kingdoms' skirts into the middle.'f 

John Taylor trudges from Carlisle into Annandale, wadiuf 
through the Esk, and wondering that he saw so little differ 
cnce between the two countries, seeing that Scotland ba^ 
its Sim and sky, its sheep, and com, and good ale. But h 
tells us that in former times this border-land 

* Was the curs'd dimate of rebellious crimes.' 

According to him, and he was not far wrong, pell-mell fiiry 
and hurly-burly, spoiling and wasting, sharking, diifting. 
cutting throats, and thieving, constituted the practice botfi 
of Annandale and Cumberland. When Taylor made bb 
pilgrimage, the existing generation would have a very fresh 
recollection of these outrages of former times. If Shakspei^ 

♦ Much Ado About Nothing. f Taylor's * Pennilesse Pilgrimage' 



ENGLISH POETS IX SCOTLAXD. 163 

ravelled over this ground he would be more familiar with 
lie passionate hatreds of the borderers, and would hear 
nany a song which celebrated their deadly feuds, and kept 
ilive the spirit of rapine and vengeance. As recently as 
L596, the famous Raid of Carlisle had taken place, when 
:lio Lordof Buccleuch, then Warden of Liddesdale, surprised 
the Castle of Carlisle, and carried off a daring Scotch free- 
booter, Kinmont Willie, who had been illegally seized by 
tlie Warden of the West Marches of England, Lord Scrope. 
The old ballad which, fifty years ago, was preserved by 
tradition on the western borders of Scotland, was perhaps 
sung by many a sturdy clansman at the beginning of the 
seventeenth century : — 

* Wi* coulters, and wi' forehammers, 
We garrM the ban bang merrilie. 
Until we came to the inner prison, 

Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie. 
And when we came to the lower prison, 
X Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie — 

" sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,* 
Upon the mom that thou 's to die ?'"t 

But the feuds of the Scotch and English borderers were not 
the only causes of insecurity on the western frontier. If 
the great dramatic poet, who has painted so vividly the 
desolation of civil war in his own country, had passed 
through Annandale in 1601, he would have seen the traces 
of a petty civil war which was then raging between the 
clans of Maxwell and Johnstone, who a few years before 
had met in deadly conflict on the very ground over which 
he would pass. The lord of Maxwell, with* a vast band of 
followers, had been slain without quarter. This was 
something different from the quiet security of England— a 
state of comparative blessedness that Shakspere subse- 

* The snatch of melody in Lear, in all likelihood part of an English song, 
will occur to the reader : — 



' Steepest or wakest thou, jolly shepherd ?' 
t MinstrelRy of the Scottish Border, vol. ii. p. 58. 



M 2 



164 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

quently described in Cranmer'a prophecy of the glories of 
Elizabeth:— 

* In her days every man shall eat in safety, 
Under his own vine, what he plants ; and sing 
The merry aongs of peace to all his neighboun.** 

The penniless pilgrim travelled over this ground when tbc 
security of England had been extended to Scotland ; dsd 
he found no greater dangers than wading through the Et^ 
and the Annan, and no severer evils than sleeping in a poor 
hut upon the hard ground, with dirty pigeons roostiiig 
around him.']' ^ 

Place the poet safely in Edinburgh, after he has made 
his solitary journey of three hundred miles, through ub- 
accustomed scenery, partly amongst foreign people aibi 
strange manners. A new world has been opened to hbsL 
He has left behind him his old fertile midland counties 
their woods, their com- fields now ripe for tiie harvest, tr* 
pass over wild moor-lands with solemn mountains shutting 
in the distance, now following the course of a brawling 
stream through a fertile valley cultivated and populous, 
and then again climbing the summit of some gloomy fell, 
from which he looks around, and may dream he is in a las^i 
where man has never disturbed the wild deer and the eagle. 
He looks at one time upon 

* Turfy mountains, where live nibbling sheep. 
And flat meads thatch'd with stover ;' 

and he may say with the Water-Poet, * I thought myself in 
England still.' He is presently in the gorge of the moun- 
tains, and there are fancies awakening in him which are to 
shape themselves not into description, but into the delinea- 
tions of high passions which are to be created out of lofty 
moods of the mind. In Edinburgh he meets his fellows. 

* Henry VIII., Act v. 

t Taylor tells several portions of his adventures in plain pn»e ; and ir? 
know of no better picture of the country and its manners than his siznpk 
descriptions furnish. 



ENGLISH POETS D? SCOTLAND. 165 

lie probability is that the Court is not there, for it is the 
unting aeaflon. Holyrood is a winter palace ; and £din- 
urgh ijB not then a city particularly attractive to the 
•cottish king, who has not forgotten the perils and in- 
ignities he has endured through the influence of the stem 
nd uncompromising ministers of religion, who would have 
aade the temporal power wholly submissive to the spiritual. 
rhe timid man has conquered, but all his actions are there 
riewed with jealousy and malevolence ; and the English 
)layer8 may afford him safer pleasures in other places than 
vbere their * unruliness and immodest behaviour ' are un- 
charitably denounced daily from the pulpit. Shakspere 
nay rest at Edinburgh a day or two ; and the impressions 
)f that city will not easily be forgotten : — a town in which 
the character of the architecture would seem to vie with the 
bold scenery in which it is placed, full of historical associa- 
tions, the seat of Scottish learning and authority, built for 
strength and defence as much as for magnificence and com- 
fort, whose mk^nsions are fastnesses that would resist an 
assault from a rival chief or a lawless mob. He looks for a 
short space upon the halla where she, who fell before the 
arbitrary power of his own Queen, lived in her days of 
beauty and youthfulness, surrounded by false friends and 
desperate enemies, weak and miserable.* He sees the 
pulpits from which Knox .thundered, the University which 
James had founded, and the castle for whose possession 
Scotch and English had fought with equal bravery, but 
varying success. He has gained materials for future 
reflection. 

The country palaces of the Scottish kings inhabited at 
that period were Linlithgow, Stirling, and Falkland. The 
gentle lake, the verdant park of Linlithgow were suited 
for a summer palace. It was the favourite residence of 
Mary of Guise, queen of James V. * Gude Schir David 
Lindsay,' Lion King at Arms under James V., here pre- 
sented to the Court and people his * Satyre of the Three 
Bstaitis ;' and, whatever be his defects, no one can doubt 
that he possessed a strong vein of humour, and had th^^ 



166 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

courage to speak out boldly of public vice and private im- 
morality, as a poet ought to speak. The conclusion of &t 
drama offers a pleasant sample of the freedom with wWl 
these old writers could address even a courtly audience:- 

* Now, let ilk man his way avance, 
Let sum ga driak, and sum ga dance : 
Menstrell, blaw up ane brawll of France, 

Let se quha hobbik best : 
For I will rin, incontinent, 
To the tarem, br ever I stent : 
And pray to God, omnipotent, 

To send you all gude rest.' 

If the halls of Linlithgow had witnessed the performance 
of one of Shakspere's comedies by the company of Lawrenw 
Fletcher, no changes in taste during half a centurr codd 
be more striking than such a contrast of the new diama of 
England with the old drama of Scotland. But we apprt 
hend that Lawrence Fletcher went in another direction 

The English comedians, servants to James VI., mictt 
have contributed to the solace and recreation of the Kins 
m the noble castle where he wa« born. Seven years befort^ 
Stiriing had been the scene of rare festivities, on the occa- 
sion of the baptism of Prince Henry. It was a place fit for 
A monarch's residence. From these walls he could look at 
, once upon the fertility and the grandeur of his dominioni 
^its finest river, its boldest mountains, the vale of thf 
IV)rth and the summits of Ben Lomond. He could here 
ehensh the proudest recoUections of his countiVs indepeD- 
f n^Lf t • t!''^.'"^'^* ^^^^ ^^^ d^^^ to James as the JS- 

Phaps, be pr^urlerof^^^^ ^^^^^^ 

than of its 4toricIl L^.'"^ ""'? '^ '^^ ?^^ "^^ 
irreater dehVht nn .1, '"""^'^^^'^i'' ^^ "^^"^^ ^«>ot with 
seen Lln^^^^^^^ ^""'^ *" ^^'^^ valley where he had one 
cl^hJ^ .t''''^'^^''^^ ^^n Jpon the battle-fiolds of 
S forT. ' '"' >-ockbu4^. ^""^''^ -«« ^tt 
than t£ '^'^^onial displa3<^ of the Scottish Court 

than the quiet residence of a ml march like James \l 



ENGLISH POETS IN SCOTLAND. 167 

Ve have seen no record of such displays in the autumn 
>f IGOl. 

Dunfermline, called *The Queen's House,' was in the 
>os8e88ion of Anne of Denmark, and her son Charles was 
lere bom in November, 1600. It was a quiet occasional 
-etreat from the turmoil of Edinburgh. But the favourite 
residence of James in the * latter summer ' and autumn was 
Falkland. The account published, by authority, of the 
[xowrio conspiracy, opens with a distinct picture of the 
King's habits : * His Majesty having his residence at Falk- 
land, and being daily at the buck-hunting (as his use is in 
that season), upon the fifth day of August, being Tuesday, 
ho rode out to the park, between six and seven of the 
clock in the morning, the weather being wonderful plea- 
want and seasonable.' A record in Melville's Diary,* within 
three weeks of this period, gives us another picture of the 
King and the Court : * At that time, being in Falkland, I 
saw a fuscambulus Frenchman play strong and incredible 
praticks upon stented [stretched] tackle in the palace- 
close before the King, Queen, and whole Coui-t. This was 
politicly done to mitigate the Queen and people for 
Cowrie's slaughter ; even then was Henderson tried before 
us, and Gowrie's pedagogue who had been buted [booted, 
tortured].' In the great ball of the palace of Falkland, 
of which enough remains to show its extent and magnifi- 
cence, we think it probable that Lawrence Fletcher and 
his fellows exhibited very different performances in the 
following autumn. They would have abundant novelties 
to present to the Scottish Court, for all would be new. 
At the second Christmas after James had ascehded the 
English throne, the early plays of Shakspere were as much 
in request at the Court as those which belong to a later 
l)eriod. The Merry Wives of "Windsor, The Comedy of 
Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, Henry V., The Merchant of 
Venice, all being the prodliictions of the previous century, 
were produced at Court, and the King commanded The 

* Quoted in Pitcairn's * Trials,' vol. ii. p. 238. 



168 ONCE UPON A TIME. ' 

Merchant of Venice a^second time. The constant peifon&* 
ance of Shakspere^s plays, as shown by the accoimtB of tke 
Hevels, at this early period after James's acceesioiL, would 
seem to indicate something like a previous acqaaintaEce 
with them ; and this acquaintance we may jnstly assmsx. 
took place upon the visit of Lawrence Fletcher aod hi* 
company to Scotland in the autumn of 1601. 

From Falkland to Abei*deen would be a consideiahi^ 
journey in those days of neglected roads, when rivers hii 
to be forded, and mountains crossed by somewhat perik^? 
paths. It is not improbable that the company halted &* 
Perth, which was within a morning's ride of Falkland. 
The Presbytery of that town were more favourably disposed 
some twelve years before to theatrical performances than 
the ministers of religion at Edinburgh; they tolerated 
them under wise restrictions. The King, in 1601, wa* 
anxious to stand well with the people of Perth, and be 
became a buigessof the city, and banqueted with the dtizeos. 
It * was politicly done,' as Melville says of the French rope^ 
dancer. He might venture in that city to send his servanti 
the players to amuse the people ; for those who had supported 
his leanings towards Episcopalian Church government were 
strong there, and would gladly embrace any occasion to 
cultivate amusements that were disagreeable to their ascetic 
opponents. The same feelings would prevail still more 
strongly at Aberdeen. The young citizens of Bon Accord, 
as it was called, clung to the amusements of the older times, 
the Bobin Hoods and Queens of May, in spite of the pro- 
hibitions of their magistrates. The Kirk Session prohibited 
maskers and dancers, but the people still danced ; and upon 
the solemn occasion when the popish Earls of Huntley and 
Brrol were received into the bosom of the Kirk, upon 
renouncing their eiTors, there was musio and masking 
around the Cross, and universal jollity was mingled with 
the more solemn ceremonials. The people of Aberdeen 
were a loyal people, and we are not surprised that they 
welcomed the King's players with rewards and honours. 

There is preserved, in the Library of Advocates, a veiy 



ENGLISH POETS IN SCOTLAND. IGD 

urionfl description of Aberdeen in the middle of the 
eventeenth century, written originally in Latin by Jamea 
iordon, parson of Rothemay, with a contemporary transla- 
ion. The latter has been printed by the Spalding Clnb. 
[?he changes during half a century would not be very con- 
iderable ; and the English players would therefore have 
lojonmed in a city which, according to this authority, 
exceeds not only the rest of the towns in the north of 
Scotland, but likewise any city whatsoever of that same 
atitude, for greatness, beauty, and frequency of trading/ 
Tordon's description is accompanied by a large and well- 
executed plan, which has also been published ; and certainly 
:he new and old towns of Aberdeen, as they existed in 
those days, were spacious, and judiciously laid out, with 
liandsome public buildings and well-arranged streets, 
backed by wooded gardens,— a pleasant place to look upon, 
with fruitful fields immediately around it, though 'any- 
where you pass a mile without the town the country is 
barren-like, the hiUs scraggy, the plains full of marshes 
and mosses.' The parson of Rothemay, with a filial love 
for his native place, says, * The air is temperate and 
healthful about it, and it may be that the citizens owe, the 
acuteness of their wits thereunto, and their civil inclina- 
tions/ This, indeed, was a community fitted to appreciate 
the treasures which Lawrence Fletcherand his fellows would 
display before them ; and it is to the honour of Aberdeen 
that, in an i^ of strong prejudices, they welcomed the 
I'^nglish players in a way which vindicated their own 
character for * wisdom, learning, gallantry, breeding, and 
civil conversation/ It is not to those who so welcomed 
them that we must chiefly lay the charge of the witch 
persecutions of that time. In almost every case these 
atrocities were committed under the sanction of the Kirk 
Session; and in the same way, when a stem religious 
asceticism became the dominant principle in England, the 
feeling of religious earnestness, lofty as it was in many 
essentials, too often was allied with superstitious enthusiasm, 
which blinded the reason and blunted the feelings as 



170 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

fearfully as the worst errors of the ancient Chnrcli. Us 
tolerant Sliakspere would haTe listened to the stories of 
these persecutions with the same feelings with which k 
regarded the ruins of the Dominican convent at Aberdeta. 
which was razed to the ground in 1560. A right principfc 
was in each case wrongly directed : * There is some soul d 
goodness in things evil.' 

We have thus, there being ample documentary evideE« 
that Shakspere*s Company was at Aberdeen in Octob«. 
1601, assumed that Shakspere would naturally be of i^ 
number. His tragedy of Macbeth exhibits traces of local 
knowledge which might have been readily collected k 
him in the exact path of such a journey. We have 
attempted very slightly to sketch the associations wii 
which he might have been surrounded during this pTOgre?s. 
putting these matters, of course, hypothetically, as matemlj' 
for the reader to embody in his own imagination. We nuy 
conclude the subject by very briefly tracing his i^ 
homeward. 

Honest John Taylor, who seems to have been ready f »r 
every kindness that fortune could bestow upon him, left 
Edinburgh in better guise than he, came thither: * Withia 
the port, or gate, called the Netherbow, I discharged mr 
pockets of all the money I had : and as I came penniless 
within the walls of that city at my first coming thither, k 
now, at my departing from thence, I came moneyless out u. 
it again.' But he soon found a worthy man ready to help 
him in his straits : * Master James Acmootye, coming ^ 
England, said, that if I would ride with him, that neither | 
nor my horse should want betwixt that place and London. 
If we take Taylor as our guide, we may see how Shaksper? 
journeyed with his fellows, upon the great high roa^ 
betweeu Edinburgh and the city of their own Blackfriai>. 
On the first day they would ride to Dunbar ; on the secoihi 
day they would reach Berwick. They might lodge at ar- 
inn, but the exuberance of the ancient Scotch hospitality 
would probably afford them all welcome in the stronghold 
of some wealthy laird. Taylor thus describes the hospitality 



ENGLISH POETS IX SCOTLAND. 171 

his hoets at Coberepath [Cockburnspfttb], between Diinbar 
d Berwid:: •Suppose ten, fifteen, or twenty men and 
a^es came to lodge at their houae, the men shall have 
jsh, tame and wild fowl, fish, with all variety of good 
leer, good lodging, and welcome ; and the horses shall 
ant neither hay nor provender : and at the morning at 
leir departure the reckoning is jnst nothing. This is this 
orthy gentleman's nse, his chief delight being only to 
ive strangers enteiiainment gratis.' His description of 
le hospitality * in Scotland beyond Edinburgh ' is more 
3markable : * I have been at houses like castles for build- 
ig ; the master of the house his beaver being his blue 
onnet, one that will wear no other shirts but of the flax 
aat grows on his own ground, and of his wife's, daughters', 
r servants' spinning ; that hath his stockings, hose, and 
3rkin of the wool of his own sheep's backs ; that never (by 
is pride of apparel) caused mercer, draper, silk-man, 
mbroiderer, or haberdasher to break and turn bankrupt: 
.nd yet this plain homespun fellow keeps and maintains 
hirty, forty, fifty servants, or perhaps more, every day 
elieving three or four score poor people at his gate ; and, 
Kisides all this, can give noble entertainment, for four or 
five days together, to five or six Earls and Lords, besides 
Knights, Gentlemen, and their followers, if they be three 
or four hundred men and horse of them, where they shall 
not only feed but feast, and not feast but banquet ; this is a 
man that desires to know nothing so much as his duty to 
God and his King, whose greatest cares are to practise the 
works of piety, charity, and hospitality ; he never studies 
the consuming art of fashionless fashions, he never tries his 
strength to hear four or five hundred acres on his back at 
once; his legs are always at Uberty— not being fettered 
with golden garters, and manacled with artificial roses, 
whose weight (sometime) is the relics of some decayed 
lordship. Many of these worthy housekeepers there are m 
Scotland : amongst some of them T was entertained ; tro 
whence I did truly gather these aforesaid ^^f f" , ^""^^^d 
The Water-Poet passes through Berwick without a 



172 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

The poet of Henry IV. would associate it witib vivid it- 
collections of his own Hotspur : 

* He had byn a march-man all hys dayes. 
And kepte Barwyke-upon-Twede.'* 

He was now in the land of old heroic memories, which b^ 
I'eaohed the ease of his boyhood in his own peaceful Stratford, 
through the voice of the wandering harper; and whid 
Froissart had recorded ;Ln a narrative as spirited a£ tb 
fancies of * the old song of Percy and Douglas.' The dait- 
blue Cheviots lifted their summits around him, and faeoead 
them were the plains which the Douglas wasted, who 

* Boldely brente Northomberlande, 
And haryed many a towyn/ 

He was in the land which had so often been the battle-fieU 
of Scotch and English in the chivalrous days, when *« 
appeared to be carried on as much for sport as for policj. 
atid a fight and a hunting were associated in ihe sas* 
song. The great battle of Otterboume, in 1388, *was» 
valiantly foughten as could be devised,' says Froissart, *5^r 
Englishmen on the one party, and Scots on the other partt. 
are good men of war : for when they meet there is a hari 
fight without sparring ; there is no love between them a* 
long as spears, axes, or daggers will endure, but lay u2 
each upon other ; and when thoy be well beaten, and tbt 
the one part hath obtained the victory, they then glorify sj 
in their deeds of arms and are so joyful, that such as \x 
taken they shall be ransomed or they go out of the field, ^' 
that shortly each of them is so content with other, that n 
their departing courteously they will say, God thank yon ; 
but in fighting one with another there is no play nor 
sparring.' The spirit that moved the Percy and Douglas at 
Otterboume animated the Percy and another Douglas ai 
Ilolmedon in 1402. 

* On Holy-i-ood day, the gallant Hotspur there. 
Young Harry Percy, and brave Archibald, 

, * The Battie of Otterboume. 



ENGLISH POETS IN SCOTLAND. 173 

That ever valiant and approred Scot, 

At Holmedon met, 

Where they did spend a sad and bloody hour.'* 

lie scene of this conflict was not many milee fix>m 
»erwick. A knowledge of these localities was not necessary 
>r Sbakspere to produce his magnificent creation of 
lotspur. Bnt in a journey through Northumberland the 
QcoUections of Hotspur would be all around him. At 
Llnwick, he would ride by the gate which Hotspur built, 
nd look upon the castle in which the Percies dwelt. Two 
enturies had passed since Hotspur fell at Shrewsbury ; but 
is memory lived in the ballads of his land, and the 
ramatic poet had bestowed upon it a more lasting glory, 
lie play of Henry IV. was written before the union of 
'England and Scotland under one crown, and when the two 
ountries had constant feuds which might easily have broken 
ut into actual war. But Shakspere, at the very time 
irhen the angry passions of England were excited by the 
laid of Carlisle, thus made his favourite hero teach the 
ilnglish to think honourably of their gallant neighbours : 

* P. Henry, The noble Scot, Lord Douglas, when he saw 
The fortune of the day quite turn'd from him, 
The noble Percy slain, and all hU men 
Upon the foot of fear, fled with the rest ; 
And, fidling from a hill, he was so bruis'd 
That the pursuers took him. At my tent 
The Douglas is ; and I beseech your grace 
I may dispose of him. 

K. Henry, With all my heart. 

P. Henry. Then, brother John of Lancastei*, to you 
This honourable bounty shall belong : 
Go to the Douglas, and deliver him 
Up to his pleasure, ransomless, and free : 
His yalonr, shown upon our crests to-day. 
Hath taught us how to cherish such high deeds, 
Even in the bosom of our adver8aries.'t 



* Henry IV., Part I. Act i. Scene 1. 
t Ibid., Act V. Scene 5. 



174 ONCE U1»0N A XrME. 

John Taylor contrived to be eighteen days on the R«i 
riding from Edinburgh to London : he was fifteen dap a 
his progress fi.x)m Berwick to Islington. Lawrence Fletcb t 
and his fellows would make greater speed, and linger not h< 
recklessly over the good cheer of the inns and wamy'^ 
that opened their gates to them. * The vroy from Benr:^ 
to York and so to London * is laid down very precisely ^ 
Harrison's * Description of England ;' and tibe se^t'^. 
stages present a total of 260 miles. The route thus gi^*^- 
makes a circuit of several miles at Tadcaster ; and yet it i? 
82 miles shorter than the present distance from Berwick r 
London. Taylor says, ' The Scots do allow almost as to 
measure of their miles as they do of their drink.' ^ •' 
would appear they did also in England in the dap- 
Shakspere. 



ROBERT burton's POETICAL COMMONWEALTH. 175 



ROBERT BURTON'S POETICAL 
C0M3I0NVVEALTH. 

?HE only book that took Samuel Johnson out of his bed two 
loiirs before he wished to rise, will scarcely do for a busy 
nan to touch before breakfast. There is no leaving it, 
xcept by an effort. I have just taken it up to look for a 
[notation, as many better scholars than myself have done, 
nd I cannot be satisfied to read on — with ' The Times ' of 
he day, borrowed for an hour, lying unread — but I must 
Leeds write a paper suggested by this same treasured 
Anatomy of Melancholy.' I might do worse. 

In the Introduction, ' Bemocritus to the Reader,' I am 
brcibly struck with the mode in which a student of 
^hristchurch deals with many of the great social questions 
hat are still under discussion after the lapse of two 
lenturies and a quarter. How he satirizes, and how he 
would reform. Statesmen might hav^ learned something 
from this ' severe student, devourer of authors, melancholy 
and humourous,'* Robert Burton, — as statesmen do contrive, 
unwilling as they may be, to pick up something of the great 
general wisdom of humanity from scholars and poets, — if 
they had looked into a few pages of this * Introduction,' 
and not stopped too readily at this sentence : — * Boccalinus 
tnay cite Commonwealths to come before Apollo, and seek 
to reform the world itself by Commissioners ; but there is 
ao remedy.' The governors and the governed are opening 
their eyes ; so some may perhaps hear what * Democritus 
Junior' has to say when he proposes an imaginary con- 
iition of improvement :—* I will, to satisfy and please 
myself, make an Utopia of my own, a new Atlantis, a 

* Anthony h Wood. 



176 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

poetical Commonwealth of my own, in which I will frreif 
domineer, build cities, make laws, statutes, as I list mrseK' 
What sort of cities would he build ? He would have tha*. 
for the most part, situate * upon navigable rivers or bkeft» 
creeks or havens.' That is, he would have them ^it1att 
where there are facilities for communication. How i» 
perfectly the use of a river as a cheap highway was kauw 
in the days when canals and railroads were not, nay '« 
seen in a curious tract of our old friend John Taylor.* Hf 
tells the people of Salisbury that their city is so much cva- 
charged with poor, as having in three parishes near tiM 
thousand ; that their river is not navigable to Christchuitii: 
that it might be made as passable as the Thames tioa 
Brentford to Windsor ; and that by means of such naTi^ 
tion the loiterers might be turned into labourers, aii 
penury into plenty. Burton, writing exactly at the «*£* 
time, bitterly attacks the ignorance and neglect ont-^ 
which comes poverty : — * Amongst our towns, there is (^^ 
one, London, that bears the face of a city, Epiiome Britaii>^^^ 
a famous Emporium, second to none beyond seas, a oi'^' 
mart ; and yet in my slender judgment defective in 10*^ 
things. The rest, some few excepted (York, Bristc». 
Norwich, Worcester), are in mean estate, ruinous most pa^* 
poor and full of beggars, by reason of their decayed tnwit\ 
neglected and bad policy, idleness of their inhabitsB^ 
riot, which had rather beg or loiter, and be ready to fit»n-.| 
than work.' And so Democritus would build other citi^j 
and encourage other sorts of people. * I will have fair aii 
broad streets.' How long did we persevere in making ^^ 
streets ugly and narrow ! * I will have convenient church^- 1 
Good. ' I will have convenient churches, and separate pl«^^ 
to bury the dead in ; not churchyards.' And so an Oxf' -j 
scholar, in the year 1621, is telling the people of Engla^'" 
what her rulers only found out in the middle of the nic^ 
teenth century, and have at last given us a * Burial Ac-j 
He would have, too, * opportune market-places of all soi"^ 

♦ A Discovery by Soa from London to Salisbury, 1623. I 



ROBEBT burton's POKTICAL COMMONWEALTH. 177 

Loom, meat, cattle.' Was Smithfield, the garden of 
ghtfor civic wUdom, • opportune ' — locally convenient ? 
D would send * trades, noisomQ or fulsome for bad smells, 
eh as butchers* slaughter-houses, chandlers, curriers, to 
mote places/ In the city of London, in our time, the 
ftughter-houses and the book- warehouses were in pleasant 
location. He would have ' commodious Courts of Justice.' 
e was not thinking of such Courts as Sir John Shane's at 
'estminster. He would have ' public walks, and spacious 
3lds allotted for all gymnics, sports, and honest recreations.' 
arks for the people are an invention of the last twenty 
3ars. * I will have conduits of sweet and good water, aptly 
sposed in each town.' London has hardly ceased to be 
>i.soned by the filth of Water-companies. * I will have 
>llege8 of mathematicians, musicians and actors, physicians, 
.'tiHts, and philosophers, that all arts and sciences may 
>oner be perfected and better learned.' What has any 
Inglish Government done for arts and sciences from that 
our to this ? * I will provide public schools of all kinds, 
nging, dancihg, fencing, and especially of grammar and 
mgnages, not to be taught by those tedious precepts ordi- 
arily used, but by use, example, conversation.' Com])ared 
dth our population, are we doing much more in the way of 
Niblic Schools of all kinds than in the days of Edward VI., 
vhen a few grammar-schools were wrung out of the 
poils of the Reformation? In the Kegistrar-General's 
{eport of Marriages, in 1851, it is shown that one man in 
hree, and one woman in two, could not write. 

Of property in land Burton has something to say. He 
vould regulate * what for lords, what for tenants. And 
because they (the tenants) shall be better encouraged to 
mprove such lands they hold — manure, plant trees, drain, 
ence— they shall have long leases, a known rent, and 
nown fine, to free them from those intolerable exactions 
f tyrannyzing landlords.' Are these the niles of landlord 
nd tenant at this day? But Democritus is no hater of 
bo great — no leveller. 'Plato's community in many 
liings is impious, absurd, and ridiculous ; it takes away 



178 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

all splendour and magnificence. I will have several 
orders, degrees of nobility, and those hereditaiy. Bnt as 
some dignities shall be hereditary, so some again by elec- 
tion or by gift, besides free offices, pensions, annuities, 
which, like the golden apple, shall be given to the worthiest 
and best deserving, both in war and peace.' Let any man 
who is not a younger son of aspatrician house — not the 
relative of one who keeps the Canvassing Book of a cor- 
ruptible Borough — let any one who has simply done the 
State service in a way the Stat© never recognises, the im- 
provement of his age — let him ask for the smallest paring 
of the golden apple, and see what answer he will get from 
the Secretary of the Treasury, who has only six letters for 
the code of his office — ^b a r t e r. 

* My form of government shall be monarchical. Few 
laws, but those severely kept, plainly put down, and in the 
mother tongue, that every man may understand.' L^i»Ia- 
tion has been hard at work, for two centuries, ui multiply- 
ing statutes that could not be administered, and heaping 
up enactments that could not be understood. It has been 
doing a little, too, with Commerce and Taxation, in a way 
that the plain-thinking John Burton does not recommend : 
* Of such wares as are transported or brought in, if they bo 
necessar}", commodious, and such as nearly cotxcem man s 
life, as com, wood, coal, and such provision as we cannot 
want, I will have little or no custom paid, no taxes/ 
England's com and meat taxes expired only in the Lu^t 
Parliament ; and London's coal taxes yet oppress ihree or 
four millions, that there may be high festival amongst those 
who, of all men and all bodies of men, are ' fruges con- 
sumere nati.' Democritus would regulate the Church, too. 
' No impropriations, no lay patrons of church livings, or 
one private man ; but common societies, corporations, &c.. 
and those rectors of benefices to be chosen out of the Uni- 
versities, examined and approved as the literati in China/ 
Look at * The Clergy List,* for the current year. In somt- 
things, however, our author is unreasonable. He says, * If 
it were possible, I would have such priests as would imitate 



ROBERT BURTON S POETICAL COMMONWEALTH. 179 

Christ.' He would have, too, * charitable lawyers that 
should love their neighbours as themselves.' Neverthe- 
less, he docs take a practical view or so of legal affairs. 
' Judges and other officers shall be aptly disposed in each 
province, villages, cities, as common arbitrators to hear 
causes, and end all controversies.' We have now County 
Courts; but how were controversies ended twenty years 
ago ? How are they ended now in the Court of the subtlest 
learning and the best paid wisdom — the High Court of 
Chancery — to "which Burton could not allude when he held, 
* No controversy to depend above a 3' ear, but without all 
delays, and further appeals, to be speedily dispatched, and 
finally concluded in tiiat time allotted?' 

Amongst the other paradoxes of Democritus he holds, 
' First scholars to take place, then soldiers t for I am of 
Vegetius his opinion, a scholar deserves better than a 
soldier, because *' Unius SBtatis sunt ques fortiter fiunt, quae 
vero pro utilitate reipublicsa scribuntur, »tema." ' ♦ The 
honour-givers of our time know that all such assertions of 
the rights of litemture corner from literary men — partial 
judges of their own case. * Cedant arma togee ' is a foolish 
maxim. Let the fighters get peerages and ribbons — always 
provided that they bewaie the pen. There cannot be a 
greater proof of the superiority of our age to such preju- 
dices as Burton propagated, when he put foi-th a claim to 
public reward for the man * that invents anything for 
public good in any art or science, or writes a Treatise.' 

What a singular notion has Burton of the recreations of 
the people ! * As all conditions shall be tied to their task, 
so none shall be over tired, but have their set times of re- 
creation and holidays — feasts and merry meetings, even to 
the meanest artificer, or basest servant, once a week to sing 
or dance, or do whatsoever he shall please. If any be 
drunk, he shall drink no more wine or strong drink in a 
twelvemonth after.' Our rule is, that the meanest artificer 
or basest servant may have a holiday * once a week.' But 

* Those who fight bravely are for an age : those who write for the good 
of the commonwealth, for all time. 

N 2 



180 ONCE UPON A TDIK 

no recreations ; no commnning with Heaven in the fields ; 
no going forth to look at mountains and lakes in cheap 
boats; no familiarity with rare animals and plants in 
choice gardens; no gazing upon great works of art-, in 
which God speaks as in any other creation, in noble 
galleries. Nothing but strong drink, in dirty hovels 
where no sober man comes — drink in abundance once 
a week,, always provided real happiness is not sought 
after. 

* I will have weights and measures the same throughout.' 
How long have we had this uniformity ? * For defensive 
wars, I will have forces ready at a small warning, by land 
and sea.' The theory is questioned. 'I will have no 
multiplicity of offices, of supplying by deputies.' It is not 
centuries ago since ' the king's turnspit was a member of 
Parliament.' * It is not twenty years since the Six Clerks 
and the Sixty Clerks were abolished, with pensions enough 
to furnish endowments for the education of all the couples 
that in 1851 made their marks in the Parish Registers. 

The poetical Commonwealth of Democritus junior is 
based upon his previous estimate of the madness of his 
generation. We have given a few sentences of his about 
legal improvements. He is rabid about law^'ers — * gowned 
vultures,* as he calls them. But how truly he describes 
some evils that still exist amongst us, and which we still 
bear patiently! 'Our forefathers, as a worthy Cho- 
rogi'apher of ours observes,"]' had wont, with a few golden 
crosses, and lines in verso, make all conveyances, as- 
surances. And such was the candour and integrity of 
succeeding ages, that a deed, as I have oft seen, to convoy 
a whole manor, was implicite contained in some twenty 
lines, or thereabouts. But now many skins of parchment 
must scarce serve turn. He that buys and sells a house 
laust^have a house fiill of writings.* And then come 
* contention and confusion ;' and men go to law ; and ' 1 
know not how many years before the cause is heaixl, and 

* Burke's speech on Economical Reform. f Cimdcn. 



ROBERT burton's POETICAL COMMONWEALTH. 181 

when 'tis judged and determined, by reaaon of some tricks 
and errors it is as fresh to begin, sSter twice seven years, 
sometimes, as it was at first/ Who shall say that this is 
obsolete ? 

He is not very tolerant, either, towards his own pro- 
fession. * So many professed Christians, yet so few imi- 
tators of Christ — so many preachers, so little practice; 
snch variety of sects, such have and hold of all sides — 
tsuch absurd and ridiculous traditions and ceremonies. 

* * * On the adverse side, nice and curious schismatics, 
in another extreme, abhorring all ceremonies.' Others, 

* Formalists, out of fear and base flattery, like so many 
weathercocks turn round, a rout of temporise rs, ready to 
embrace and maintain all that is or shall be proposed, in 
hope of preferment.* 

He is no flatterer, either, of those who sit in high places : 

* A poor sheep-stealor is hanged for stealing of victuals, 
compelled perad venture by necessity of that intolerable 
cold, hunger, and thirst, to save himself from starving : 
but a great man in office may securely rob whole provinces, 
undo thousands, pill and poll, oppress ad libitunij flea, grind, 
tyrannise, enrich himself by spoils of the Commons, be un- 
controllable in his actions, and, after all, be recompensed 
with turgent titles, honoured for his good service, and no 
man dare find fault or mutter at it.'^ 

The philosophers and scholars — * men above men, minions 
of the Muses '—fare little better. * They that teach wisdom, 
patience, meekness, are the veriest dizzards, hairbrains, 
and most discontent.* * A good orator is a mere voice ; 
bis tongue is set to sale.' ' Poets are mad ; a company of 
bitter satirists, detractors, or else parasitical applauders.' 

* Your supercilious critics, grammatical tariflers, note-makers, 
curious antiquaries, find out all the ruiis of wit, ineptiarum 
deliciaSf amgngst the rubbish of old wiiters ; make books 
dear, themselves ridiculous, and do noioody good •, y^ if 
any man dare oppose or contradict, thex^, ^ad, up in 
arms on a sudden — how many sheets arf^ ^^n in defence, 
how bitter invectives, what apologies i '^i could almost 



182 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

fancy the old satirist was pointing at Shakspere com- 
mentators. 

Burton lived before newspapers, and yet he had a Teir 
competent knowledge of what was going on in the world. 
I will conclude with a curious passage, which might, with 
few exceptions, have been written by one of our age of 
electric telegraphs : * Though I still live a collegiate stu- 
dent, as Democritus in his garden, and lead a monastic life, 
secluded from those tumults and troubles of the world, in 
some high place above you all, as he said, — 1 hear and see 
what is done abroad, — how others run, ride, turmoil, and 
macerate themselves in court and country, — a mere spec- 
• tator of other men's fortunes and adventures, and how they 
act their parts, which methinks are diversely presented to 
me, as from a common theatre or scene. I hear new news 
every day, and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, 
fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, 
comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions ; — of towns taken, 
cities besieged, daily, musters and preparations, and such 
like, which these tempestuous times afford : battles fought, 
so many slain, monomachies, shipwrecks, piracies and sea- 
fights, peace, leagues, stratagems, and fresh alarums. A 
vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, 
law-suit«, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, grievances, 
are daily brought to our ears. New books every day, 
pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes 
of all sorts, new paradoxes, opinions, schisms, heresies, 
controversies in philosophy, religion, &c. Now come 
tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertain- 
ments, jubilees, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, 
triumphs, revels, sports, plays. Then again, as in a new 
shifted scene, treasons, cheating tricks, robberies, enormous 
yillainies in all kinds, funerals, burials, death of princes, 
n^w discoveries, expeditions ; now comical, then tragical 

* conteni. To-day we hear of new lords and offices created. 

^now not how lome great men deposed, and then again of 

. conferred; one is let loose, another im- 

* Burke's sjk purchaseth, another breaketh ; he thrives, 



ROBERT burton's POETICAL COMMONWEALTH. 183 

Ills neighbour turns bankrupt; now plenty, then again 
<learth and famine ; one runs, another ridea, "wrangleg, 
laughs, weeps, &c. Thus I daily hear, and such like, both 
2>rivate and public news, amidst the gallantry and miser}' 
of the world ; jollity, pride, perplexities and cares, sim- 
plicity and villainy, subtlety, knavery, candour, and in- 
tegrity, mutually mixed and offering themselves.' 

Who, at first sight, would imagine that this was written 
— Once upon a Time — in the seventeenth century ? 

* The world pursues the very track 

Which it pursued at its creation ; 
And mortals shriok in horror bock 

From any hint of innovation : 
From year to year the children do 

Exactly what their sires have done ; 
Time is ! Time was ! there 's nothing new, 

'ITiere 's nothing new beneath the sun.* * 



♦ \V. M. I»raed : Brazen HeaJ. 



184 



0!TCE UPON A TIME. 




MILTON, THE LONDONER. 

Tkk best successor of Milton has described the character of 
the great poet's mind in one celebrated line :-— 

* Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart.' 

It might at first seem, looking at the accuracy of this 
forcible image, that the name of Milton could not be 
properly associated with the state of society during the 
times in which he flourished. It is true that in the writings 
of Milton we have very few glimpses of the familiar life of 
his day; no set descriptions of scenes and characters: 
nothing that approaches in the slightest degree to the 
nature of anecdote; no playfulness, no humour. Words- 
worth continues his apostrophe : — 

* Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like U»e sea.* 



MILTON, TllE LONDONER. 185 

The sprightlier dramatists have the voices of 

* ShiiUow rivers, by whose fiilU 
Melodioiu birds nog madrigals/ 

It is pleasant to sit in the sunshine and listen to the bub- 
bling of the runnel over its pebbly bottom : but the times 
of Milton were for the most part dark and stormy, and 
with them the voice of the sea was in harmony. \Ve can 
learn, while listening to that voice, when there was calni 
and when there was tempest. But Milton was not only 
the great literary name of his period — he was a publio man, 
living in the heart of the mightiest struggle betwixt two 
adverse principles that England ever encountered. Add to 
this he was essentially a Londoner. He was bom in Bread 
Street; he died in Cripplegate. During a long life we 
may trace him, from St. Paul's School, through a successio'i 
of London residences which, taking their names with their 
ordinary associations, soimd as little poetical as can well 
be inu^ined — St. Bride's Churchyard, Aldersgate Street, 
Barbican, Holbom, Petty France, Bartholomew Close, 
Jewin Stre.et, Bunhill Fields. The houses which he in- 
habited have been swept away ; their pleasant gardens are 
built over. But the name of Milton is inseparably con- 
nected with these prosaic realities. That name belongs 
especially to London. 

The Milton of nineteen has himself left us a picture of his 
mind at this period. His first Latin elegy, addressed to 
Charles Deodati, is supposed by Warton to have been written 
about 1627. The writer was bom in 1608. AVe shall tran- 
scribe a few passages from Cowper's translation of this 

°^ ' * I well content, where Thames with influent tido 
My native city laves, meantime reside : 
Nor zeal nor duty now my steps impel 
To reedy Cam, and my forbidden cell ; 
Nor aught of pleasure in those fields l^ve I, 
That, to the musing bard, all shade deny. 
'T is time that I a p«dant's threats disdain. 
And fly from wrongs my soul will ne'er sustain. 
If peaceiul days in lettered leisure spent. 
Beneath my father's i*oof, be banishmet.t, 



186 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Then call me banish 'd ; 1 will ne'er refuse 
A name exprej»ire of the lot I choose. 
I would that, exiled to the Pontic shore, 
Home's haples^s bard had suffei'ed nothing more ; 
He then had cquall'd even Homer's lays, 
And, Virgil I thou hadst won but second praise. 
For here I woo the Muse, with no control ; 
For here my booics — ^my life — absorb me whole.' 

His father's roof was in Bread Street, in the parish of All- 
hallows. The sign of the Spread Eagle, which hung over 
his father's door, was the armorial bearing of his family ; 
but the sign indicated that the house was one of business, 
and the business of Milton's father was that of a scrivener. 
Here, in some retired back room, looking most probably 
into a pleasant little garden, was the youthful poet sur- 
rounded by his books, perfectly indifferent lo the more 
profitable writing of bonds and agreements that was going 
forward in his father's office. It was Milton's happiness to 
possess a father who imderstood the genius of his son, and 
whose tastes were in unison with his own. In the young 
poet's beautiful verses, Ad Patrem^ also translated by Cowper, 
he says, — 

* thou never bod'st me tread 

The beaten path, and broad, that leads right on 
To opulence, nor didst condemn thy sou 
To the insipid clamours of the bar. 
The laws Toluminous, and ill obsenr'd.' ' 

Of Milton's father, Aubrey says, *He was an ingenious 
man, delighted in music, and composed many songs now in 
piint, especially that of Oriana.' The poet thus addresses 
his father in reference to the same accomplishment : — 



■ thvself 



Art skilful to associate verse with airs 

Haimonious, and to give the human voice 

A thousand modulations, heir by right 

Indisputable of Arion's fiune. 

Now say, what wonder is it, if a son 

Of thine delight in verse ; if, so conjoin'd 

In close affinity, we sympathise 

In social arts and kindred studies sweet ?' 



MILTON, THK LONDONER. 187 

There was poetry then, and poetical associations, within 
Milton's home in the dose city. Nor were poetical influ- 
ences wanting without. The early writings of Milton teem 
with the romantic associations of his youth, and they have 
the character of the age sensibly impressed upon them. In 
the epistle to Deodati we have an ample description of that 
love of the drama, whether comedy or tragedy, which he 
subsequently connected with the pursuits of his mirthful 
and his contemplative man. To the student of nineteen, 

* The grave or gny colloquial scene recruits 
>f y Bpiritfl spent in learning's long pursuits.* 

I lis desciiptions of the comic charactei-s in which he delights 
appear rather to be drawn from Terence than from Jonson 
or Fletcher. But in tragedy he pretty clearly points at 
Shakspere's * Romeo * and at • Hamlet.' * L' Allegro * and 
' II Penseroso ' were probably written some four or five 
years after this epistle, when Milton's father had retired to 
Tforton, and his son's visits to London were occasional. 
But * the well-trod stage ' is still present to his thoughts. 
There is a remarkable peculiarity in all Milton's early 
poetry which is an example of the impressibility of his 
imagination under local circumstances. He is the poet, at 
one and the same time, of the city and of the country. In 
the epistle to Deodati he displays this mixed affection for 
the poetical of art and of nature :— 

* Nor always city-pent, or pent at home, 

1 dwell; but, when spring calls me forth to ixnm, 
Expatiate in our proud suburban shades 
Of branching elm, that never sun pervades/ 

But London is thus addressed : — 

* Oh city, founded by Dardanian hands, 

WTioae towering front the circling realms command:}, 
Too blest abode I no loveliness we see 
In all the earth, but it abounds in thee.' 

Every reader is familiar with the exquisite rural pictures 
of 'L' Allegro;' but the scenery, without the slightest 



188 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

diflSculty, may be placed in the immediate * suburban 
shades ' which he has described in the epistle. It is 
scarcely necessary to remove them even as far as the 
valley of the Colne. The transition is immediate from the 
hedge-row elms, the russet lawns; the upland hamlets, an<l 
the nut-brown ale, to 

* Tower'd cities please us then, 
And the bu«y hum of men. 

Where throngs of knight« and barons bold 
In weeds of peace high tiiumphs hold, 
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes 
Kain iuHuence, and judge the prize 
Of wit, or arms, while both contend 
To win her grace, whom all commend. 
There let Hymen oft appear 
In saffron robe, with taj)er clear. 
And pomp and feast and revelry, 
With mask and antique pageantiy, — 
Such sights as youthful poets dream 
On summer-evos by haunted stream. 
Then to the well-trod stage aiion,' &e. 

So, in ' II Penseroso,' there is a similar transition from the 
evensong of the nightingale, and the sullen roar of the far- 
off curfew, to 

* The bellman's drowsy charm 

To bless the doors from nightly harm.' 

And there, in like manner, we turn from 



* Arched walks of twilight groves 
And shadows brown,' 



to 



* the high embowed i-oof 

With antic pillars massy proof, 
And stoned windows richly dight. 
Casting a dim religious light.' 

* No man,' says Thomas Warton, * was ever so disqualifieil 
to turn Puritan as Milton.* In these his early poems, ac- 
cording to this elegant critic, his expressed love of choral 
church music, of Gothic cloisters, of the painted windows 



MILTOX, THE LOXDOXER. 189 

^rtlct vaulteff' sxAet* of a venerable cathedral, of tilta and 
tournaments, of masques and pageantries, is wholly re- 
pugnant to the anti-poetical principles which he afterwards 
adopted. We doubt exceedingly whether Milton can be 
held to have turned Puritlui to the extent in which Wai-ton 
accepts the term. Milton was a republican in politics, 
and an asserter of liberty of conscience, independent of 
Church government, in religion. But the constitution of 
his mind was utterly opposed to the reception of such ex- 
treme notions of formal fitness as determined the character 
of a Puritan. There has been something of exaggeration 
and mistake in this matter. For example : Warton, in a 
note on that passage in the epistle to Deodati in which 
3Iilton is supposed to allude to Shakspere's tragedies, says, 

♦ His warmest poetical predilections were at last totally 
obliterated by civil and religious enthusiasm. Seduced by 
the gentle eloquence of fanaticism, he listened no longer to 
the ** wild and native wood-notes of Fancy's sweetest child." 
In his *' Iconoclastes'* he censures King Charles for study- ' 
ing '* one, whom we well know was the closet-companion 
of his solitudes, William Shakspeare." This remonstrance, 
which not only resulted from his abhorrence of a king, but 
from his disapprobation of plays, would have come with 
propriety from Prynne or Hugh Peters. Nor did he now 
perceive that what was here spoken in contempt conferred 
the highest compliment on the elegance of Charles's private 
character.' Mr. Waldron had the merit of pointing out, 
some fifty years ago, that the passage in the ' Iconoclastes ' 
to which Warton alludes gives not the slightest evidence of 
Milton's listening no longer to * Fancy's sweetest child,' 
nor of reproaching Charles for having made Shakspere the 

* closet-companion of his solitudes.' Milton is arguing — 
with the want of charity ceitainly which belongs to an 
advocate— that • the deepest policy of a tyrant hath been 
ever to counterfeit religious;' and, applying this to the 
devotion of the ' Icon Basilike,' he thus proceeds : — * The 
poets also, and some English, have been in this point so 
mindful of decorum as to put never more pious words in 



190 ONCE UPON A TIMK. 

the mouth of any person than of a t}rant. I shall liw 
instance an abstruse author, wherein the King may be less 
conversant, but one whom we well know was the closet- 
companion of his solitudes, AVilliam Shakespeare, who intro- 
duces the person of Eichard III. sf eaking in as high a strain 
of piety and mortification as is uttered in any passage in 
this book * (the ' Icon Basilike '). lie then quotes a speech 
of Shakspere's Richard III., and adds, ' The poet used not 
much licence in departing from the tnith of history.' If 
Milton had meant to reproach Charles with being familiar 
with Shakspere, the reproach would have recoiled upon 
himself, in evidencing the same familiarity. There was, 
in truth, scarcely a gieater disparity between the clustering 
locks of Milton and the cropped hair of the Roundheads, 
than between his abiding love of poetry and music and the 
frantic denunciations of both by such as Prynne. Prynne, 
for example, devotes a whole chapter of the ' Histrio- 
mastix ' to a declamation against ' effeminate, delicate, 
lust-provoking music,' in Which the mildest thing he quotes 
from the Fathers is, ' Let the singer be thrust out of thy 
house as noxious ; expel out of thy doors all fiddlers, sing- 
ing-women, with all this choir of the devil, as the deadly 
songs of syrens.* Compare this with Milton's sonnet, pub- 
lished in 1648, *To my Friend, Mr. Henry Lawes,* — the 
royalist Henry Lawes : — 

* Harry, whose tuneful and well-mensurM 9ong 
First taught our Enji^Ugh music how to span 
Words with just note and accent, not to scan 
With Midas' ears, committing short, and long ; 
Thy worth and skill exempt thee from the throng, 
With praise enough for envy to look wan ; 
To after age thou shalt be writ the man 
That with smooth air couldst humour best our tongue.* 

Doubtless since ' Comus ' was presented at Ludlow 
Castle in 1634, and Lawes composed and sung some of its 
lyrics, up to the period when Milton wrote the • Icono- 
clastes,' the elegancies, the splendours, the high triumphs, 
the antique pageantries, which so captivated the youthful 



MILTON, THE LONDONER. 



191 



poet, bad given place to 
sterner things. In his own 
mind, especially, that process 
of deep reflection was going 
forward which finally made 
him a zealous partisan and 
a bitter controversialist; but 
which was blended with purer 
and- loftier aspirations than 
usually belong to politics or 
polemics. But his was an age 
of deep thinkers and resolute 
actors. The leaders and the 
followers then of either party \ \A 
were sincere in their thoughts \ / i 
and earnest in their deeds. \j 
They were not a compromis- Ha 
ing and evasive generation. / M 
There was no miistaking their 
friendships or their enmities. 
Milton early chose his part in 
the great contention of his 
times. Amidst the classical ^ 
imagery of Lycidas we have ■ 
his bitter denunciations 
against the hirelings of the 
Church, who — 

* Creep, and intrude, and climb into 
the fold.* 

He would not enter the service 
of that Church himself lest 
he should be called upon to 
'subscribe slave.' To that 
vocation, however, he says, 
* I was destined of a child ( 
and in mine own resolutions.' 
That he was impatient of 
what he considered the ty- 




192 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

ranny which interfered between a service so suited to his 
character was to be expected from the ardour of his nature ; 
but we can scarcely think that in those lines of Lycidas, 
written in 1637 — 

* But that two-handed engine at the door 
Stands leady to smite once, and smite no more ' — 

he anticipates, as some have maintained, the execution of 
Archbishop Laud. Matters were scarcely then come to 
that pass. But yet Laud in 1637 had some unpleasant de- 
monstrations of the temper of the times. In that year 
Bastwick, Burton, and Prynne were sentenced by the Star 
Chamber, ' That each of the defendants should be fined five 
thousand pounds ; that Bastwick and Burton should stand 
in the pillory at Westminster, and there lose their eare ; 
and that Prynne. having lost his ears before by sentence of 
this court, should have the remainder of his ears cut off* 
and should be branded on both cheeks with the letters 
S. L., to signify a seditious libeller.' The execution to 
the tittle of this barbarous sentence maddened and disgusted 
those who looked upon the spectacle. Laud's Diary< for 
two months after this revolting exhibition, contains some 
very significant entries, recording the libels which it pro- 
duced. A short libel pasted on the cross in Cheapside de- 
scribed him as the arch- wolf of Canterbur}'^ ; another, on 
the south gate of St. Paul's, informed the people that the 
devil had let that house to the Arclibishop ; another, fastened 
to the north gate, averred that the government of the Church 
of England is a candle in the snuff goitog out in a stencb. 
These were warnings ; but power is apt to look upon its 
own pomp, and forget that the day of humiliation and weak- 
ness may arise. Howell, in one of his lettere wi-itten in 
the year of Laud's execution, says, * Who would hare dreamt 
ten years since, when Archbishop Laud did ride in state 
through London streets, accompanying my Lord of Lon- 
don, to be sworn Lord High Treasurer of England, that 
the mitre should have now come to such a scorn, to such 
a national kind of hatred?' In those eventful days such 



MILTON, THE LONDONER. 193 

contrasts were not nnfrequent ; and they Bometimes followed 
each other much more closely than the triumphal procession 
of Laud, and his execution. On the 25th of November, 
1641, the city of London welcomed Charles from Scotland 
with an entertainment of unusual magnificence ; and the 
historian of the city, after revelling in his description of 
aldermen and liverymen, to the number of five hundred, 
mounted on horseback, with all the array of velvet and 
scarlet and golden chains, — of conduits running with claret, 
— of benquetings and loyal anthems, says, ' The whole day 
seemed to be spent in a kind of emulation, with reverence 
be it spoken, between their Majesties and the City ; the 
citizens blessing and praying for their Majesties and their 
princely issue, and their Majesties returning the same bless- 
ings upon the heads of the citizens.' In 1642, not quite a 
year after these pleasant gratulations, Milton wrote the 
following noble sonnet : — 

*WHEN THE ASSAULT WAS INTENDED TO THE CITY. 

' Captain, or Colonel, or Knight in ai-ms. 
Whose chance on these defencel^s doors may seizo. 
If deed of honour did thee ever please, 
Guard them, and him within protect from harm.'^. 
He can requite thee, for he knows the charms 
That call fame on such gentle acts as these. 
And he can spread thy name o'er lands and seiui. 
Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms. 
Lift not thy spear against the Muses' boVr : 
The great Emathian conqueror bid spare 
The house of Pindarus, when temple and tow'r 
Went to the ground : and the repeated air 
Of sad Electra's poet had the pow'r 
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.' 

On the 25th of August, 1642, the King erected his 
standard on Nottingham Castle. Essex, as Generalissimo 
of the Parliament forces, had already marched upon 
Northampton. The King's army was advancing towards 
the capital ; and London, with its vast suburbs, required to 
be put in a state of defence. It was on this occasion that 





194 ONCE UPOX A TIMK. 

the dogged resolution, the nnflinching courage of the 
citizens of all ranks and all ages, manifested themselves in 
their willing labours to give London in some degree the 
character of a fortified city. The royalists ridiculed the 
citizens in their song of * Boundheaded cuckolds, come dig/ 
The battle of Edgehill was fought on the 23rd of October: 
and on the 7th of November Essex returned to LondoD. 
While the Parliament was negotiating, the sound of Prince 
Hupert's cannon was heard in the immediate neighbouiiiood 
of the capital ; and the citizens marched out to battle. But 
the bloody contest of Edgehill was not to be renewed at 
Brentford and Tumham Green. The King's forces retired : 
and the trained-bands refreshed themselves and made men}' 
with the good things whieh their careful wives had not 
forgotten to send after them in this hour of danger and 
alarm. It was upon this occasion that the sonnet which we 
have just transcribed was written. We might infer firom 
the tone of this sonnet that Milton had little confidence 
that the arms of the citizens would be a sufficient protection 
for his ' defenceless doors.* He was living then in Alders- 
gate Street ; in that sort of house which was common in 
Old London, and which Milton always chose — a garden- 
house. This house might unquestionably be called 'the 
Muses' bower ;* for here he was not only carrying on the 
education of his nephews and of the sons of -a few intimate 
friends, but, as we learn from 'The Beason of Church 
Government,* he was preparing for some high work which 
should be of power ' to inbreed and cherish in a great 
people the seeds of virtue and public civility ; to allay the 
peilnrbation of the mind, and set the affections in right 
tune — .* * * * a work not to be raised from the heat of 
youth or the vapours of wine, like that which flows at waste 
from the pen of some vulgar amourist, or the trencher iuiy 
of a rhyming parasite ; nor to be obtained by the invocation 
of dame Memory and her syren daughters ; but, by devout 
prayer to that eternal Spirit who can enrich with all 
utterance and knowledge, and sends out his seraphim with 
the hallowed fire of his altar to touch and purify the lips of 



MILTON, THE LONDONER. 195 

whom he pleases/ Cherishinghigh thoughts such as these, 
Milton called upon the assaulting soldier, 

* Lift not thj spear agaiiist the Muses' bow'r.' 

Since his return from Italy, in 1639, his priuciples had 
been too openly proclaimed for him to appeal to 

* Captain, or Colonel, or Knight in arms,' 

to spare the house of Milton the polemic. It was Milton 
the poet who left unwillingly ' a calm and pleasing solitari- 
ness, fed with cheerful and confident thoughts, to embark in 
a troubled sea of noises and hoarse disputes,* that thus asked 
that the Muses' bower should be protected, as the house of 
Pindar and the city of Euripides had been spared. But 
London was saved from the assault ; and a few months after 
the Common Council and the Parliament raised up much 
more formidable defences than invocations founded upon 
classical lore. All the passages and ways leading to the 
city were shut up, except those entering at Charing Cross, 
St. Giles's in the Fields, St. John Street, Shoreditch, and 
Whitechapel. The ends of these streets were fortified with 
breastworks and tui-npikes, musket proof; the city wall 
was repaired and mounted with artillery ; finally an earthen 
rampart, with bastions, and redoubts, and all the other 
systematic defences of a beleaguered city, was carried 
entirely round London, Westminster, and Southwark. 

In 1643 Milton married. Aubrey's account of this 
marriage and the subsequent separation is given with his 
characteristic quaintness : — *His first wife (Mrs. Powell, 
a Eoyalist) was brought up and lived where there was a 
great deal of company and merriment, dancing, &c. : and 
when she came to live with her husband at Mr. Bussel's, 
in St. Bride's Churchyard, she found it very solitary ; no 
company came to her, oftentimes heard his nephews beaten 
and cry. This life was irksome to her, so she went to her 
parents at Forest Hill. He sent for her (after some time), 
and I think his servant was evilly entreated ; but as for 
-wronging his bed, I never heard the least suspicion, nor 

02 



196 OSCE UPOX A TIME. 

had he of that jealousy.' In another place he says, * She 
was a zealous Royalist, and went without her hushand's 
consent to her mother in the King's quarters near Oxford : 
two opinions do not well on the same bolster.' Philips. 
Milton's relation, gives pretty much the same account of 
the matter. That such cases were not uncommon in an 
age distracted by controversial opinions in religion and 
politics may readily be imagined. The general argument 
of Milton's elaborate treatises on divorce is, that disagree- 
ments in temper and disposition,, which tend to produce in- 
difference or dislike, are sufficient to set aside the bond of 
mari'iage. The company and merriment, dancing, «Ifec., in 
the midst of which Milton's wife was brought up, were in- 
consistent with his notions of pleasure and propriety. 
Aubrej' tells us, * he was of a very cheerful humour. He 
would be cheerful even in his gout-fits, and sing.' In his 
sonnet to Lawrence, written most probably when he was 
fift}', the same cheerfulness prevails : — 

* What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice, \ 
Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise 

To hear the lute well toiich'd, or artful voice 
Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?' 

Again, in his sonnet to Cyriack Skinner : 

* To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench 
In miitii, that after no repenting draws.* 

He adds, mild Heaven 

• disapproves that care, though wise in show. 



That with superfluous burden loads the day. 
And when God sends a cheerfid hour refrains/ 

This was not Puritanism ; but neither was it the tumul- 
tuous merriment nor the secret licentiousness of the Cava- 
liers. The example of Milton may instruct us that the 
society of London was not to be wholly divided into these 
extreme dlasses. His plan of an academy, which Johnson 
calls impracticable, was founded, we have little doubt, upon 
a careful consideration of the desires and capacities of the 



MILTOX, THE LONDONER. 197 

intellectual class amongst whom he lived. There were 
other Englishmen in those days than fanatics and repro- 
bates. He has eloquently described, in *The Liberty of 
unlicensed Printing/ the thirst for knowledge, the ardent 
desire for trtith, which prevailed in London even amidst the 
disorders of contending factions, the din of warfare, and the 
going forth of its sons and husbands to battle in a great 
cause : — ' Behold now this vast city, a city of refuge, the 
mansion-house of liberty, encompassed and surroimded 
with his (God's) protections. The shop of war hath not 
there more anvils and hammers waking to^ fashion out the 
plates and instruments of armed justice in defence of be- 
leaguered truth, than there be pens and heads there sitting 
by their studious lamps, musing, searching, revolving new 
notions and ideas wherewith to present, as with their 
homage and their fealty, the approaching reformation : 
others as fast reading, trying all things, assenting to the 
force of reason and convincement. VVhat could a man 
require more from a nation so pliant and so prone to seek 
after knowledge ?* Yet in the same wonderful composition 
he tells us plainly enough, and without any severity of 
rebuke, that London had its recreations and its lighter 
thoughts, amidst this * diligent alacrity in the pursuance of 
truth ;* and that there were temptations which were only 
innocuous upon his principle, that * he that can apprehend 
and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, 
and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that 
which is truly better, he is the true waifaring Christian.* 
The following graphic description of some of the social 
aspects of London is a remarkable exception to Milton's 
usual style of writing ; and it almost tempts us to withdraw 
the remarks v^th which we introduced this paper, in which 
we spoke too slightingly of Milton's power as a painter of 
manners: — 'K we think to regulate printing, thereby to 
rectify manners, we muet regulate all recreations and 
pastimes, all that is delightful to man. No music must be 
heard, no song be set or sung, but what is grave and Doric. 
There must be licensing dancers, that no gesture, motion, 



198 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

or deportment be taught our youth, but what by their 
allowance shall be thought honest; for such Plato was 
provided of. It will ask more than the work of twenty 
licensers to examine all the lutes, the violins, and the 
guitars in every house ; they must not be suffered to prattle 
as they do, but must be licensed what to say. And who 
shall silence all the airs and madrigals that whisper soft- 
ness in chambers ? The windows also, and balconies, most 
be thought on ; there are shrewd books, with dangeruns 
frontispieces, set to sale ; who shall prohibit them ? — shall 
twenty licensers? The villages also must have their 
visitors, to inquire what lectures the bagpipe and the rebeck 
reads, ev6n to the ballatry and the gammut of every muni- 
cipal fiddler ; for these are the coimtryman's Arcadias, and 
his Monte Mayors. Next, what more national corruption, 
for which England hears ill abroad, than household gluttony'^ 
who shall be the rector of our daily rioting ? and what shall 
be done to inhibit the multitudes that frequent those houi*i> 
where drunkenness is sold and harboured ? Our garments 
also should be referred to the licensing of some sober work- 
masters, to see them cut into a less wanton garb. AVho 
shall regulate all the mixed conversation of our youth, 
male and female together, as is the fashion of this country? 
Who shall still appoint what shall be discoursed, what 
presumed, and no farther? Lastly, who shall forbid and 
separate all idle resort, all evil company ? These things 
will be, and must be ; but how they shall be least hurtful, 
how least enticeing, herein consists the grave and govern- 
ing wisdom of a state. To sequester out of the world into 
Atlantis and Utopian politics, which never can be drawn 
into use, will not mend our condition ; but to ordain wisely 
as in this world of evil, in the midst whereof God hath 
placed us unavoidably.' 

Milton's reconciliation with his wife took place, it is 
recorded, in the house of a relation in St. Martin's-le-Grand. 
Committed as he was by his opinions on the general subject 
of divorce, he perhaps considered it fortunate that circum- 
stances had prevented him acting upon them. He probably, 



MILTON, THE LONDONER. 199 

had this trial been reserved to him, would have been an 
evidence of the hoUowness of his own arguments. As it 
was, we hear no subsequent complaints; and bis house 
afforded his wife's family a shelter when the advocates 
of the Royalist cause were exposed to persecution. It 
Mras in Barbican that Milton Hved after his wife returned 
to him. 

May I be pardoned for inserting a little poem which 
belongs to this domestic history : — 

ELLEN AND MARY. 

The streetpdoor is ajar, and Ellen enters. 

She paoaes in the empty hall, for sounds 

Come, from the right, of music— soft, low sounds 

Of one preluding on the organ, rapt 

Into an ecstacy at his own touch. 

She pauses still ; for, on the left, she hears 

A querulous voice, and then a long-drawn sigh : 

She opens the left-hand door — Mary sits weeping. 

* Yes, EUen, I am wretched — I, the hride 
Two little months agone, am very wretched. 
I am a lonely woman : in the morning 
He drudges with his boys ; then comes the dinner — 
A short, sad meal ; and then — ^hear yon that organ ? — 
I hate those notes he calls '* a winding bout 
Of linked sweetness." Then, at eventide, 
He reads aloud some dismal tragedy, 
Or puritanic sermon. Tm weary on't.' 

' Mary, I grieve for you ; but not because 
Of what you think your loneliness. Believe me, 
There 's something heavier than a weary hour — 
Heavier to bear in this new life of yours. 
Forgive me, if I say the fault is one 
That oft besets our sex — we seek delights 
When noan asks only sympathy. Knew you not 
What manner of mind was his? — what earnestness? 
eep contemplation — proud and resolute will — 
A poet's tenderness, but yet withal 
The heroic heart, to do and suffer all things 
For duty ? Mary, you must mould your spirit 
To his more lofty nature. Did he win you 
By common blandishments — ^by bows and smiles? — 
Talk'd he as Charles's cavaliers would talk. 
When they danc'd at Forest-hill V 



200 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

* I thought him beautiful — 
I knew him wise ; he held my soul subdued 
To his most absolute power. I loved and trembled — 
And yet I loved. I was a giddy girl, 
Brought up in country pleasures. My heart yearns 
For the old revelries. And, then, I di^ead 
To listen to his talk, of kings disci*own'd 
For their misdoings, and of mitred bisliops 
Thrust from the altar. He is very stem. 
Would I ha<l never left my father's house !' 

* Your father's house was a sti-ange house for him 
To find a wife in — so short a courtship, too ! 

But now your Husband's party must be yours, 
And not your father's. 'T is an evil time — 
Friend gainst friend, and brother against brother.' 

* My brothers are with the king ; they draw the swords 
Of loyal subjects. My Husband does not fight. 

Save with the pen ; but he writes bitter words — 

Foul, rebel words, they say. 1 cannot read them : 

I will not listen when he eagerly paces 

The garden up and down, declaiming loud 

His eloquent sentences, of Liberty, 

And private Judgment — and I know not what. 

Would I had never left my father's house !* 

A year has gone since Mary was a bride. 
She sits at her father's heai'th. The autumn flowers 
Have perish 'd at Forest-hill, and now the earliest 
Are blooming there. Mary has gather'd both — 
Fled from her Hus^band. A false cheerfulness 
Flickers about her face ; there is no radiance 
Of inwanl peace now beaming fi*om her eyes. 
Ofttimes is gaiety within that house : 
Lovelocks are floating in Ihe midnight dance ; 
Cups are there drain'd, with tipsy shouts of joy 
At rumours of success, and threats of vengeance 
Ponr'd forth with curses, as some news is heard 
Of rebel daring. The king's quarters are nigh. 
Some five miles off, at Oxford. Volunteers, 
And plumed ensigns, i-eckless, fiery spirits. 
Hover round Mary. There are sometimes sneers 
Whisper'd, not very low, at widow'd wives ; 
And some would think that freedoms might be safe. 
But Mary keeps her innoceno.^ : the mind 
Undisciplin'd and weak, is gathering strength. 
At first she never usra her Husband's name: 



MILTOX, THE LOXDONER. 201 

She in plain Mary. Now and then she heara 

Men speak that name in hatred ; but they Kpeak 

With tear, too, of hi« might. There comes one thither 

Who loved him once; they parted in deep anger; 

Milton and Cleveland went their several ways. 

Bat Cleveland speaks no bitter word to Mary 

Of that old College friend. He has within him 

The poet's yearnings ; and the noblen«M 

With which a poet bows before the genius 

Even of a rival and an enemy. 

ThoQgh wassail, and the license of the camp. 

Made him a scomer and a ballad-monger. 

He scom*d not him who wrote that lofty book 

The * Areopagitica/ Mary hears 

From him some gentle memories of the man 

Whose soul had awed her. Then remorse ci'eeps in ; 

And she daily weeps to think what cold replies 

Her. stubbonmess had given his mild requests, 

And then his brief commands, for her return. 

The summer comes. Fear is within that house 
Where late was revelry — galliards and country-roimds. 
And moonlit madrigals on dewy lawns. 
Fear now abides there, for the news has reached 
Of Naseby field. Ruin is drawing near. 
The sequestrators come ; and Mary's father 
Hurries to London. 

Ellen is sitting in her father's house — 
A gm-den-housc, in the City. She is reading. 
A grave and learned book is on her knee — 

* The Doctrine and the Discipline of Divorce.' 

* Down, idle fancies ! Perish, wicked thoughts I 
Thou gi-eat logician, thou hast steep'd thy argument 
In the deep dye of thy hopes. I could hope, too ; 
But T will strive against temptation. Lord, 
Forgive my erring and tumultuous thoughts I 

It cannot be — it is not true — that difference 
Of temper — incompatibility — make 
A cause of final separation. Yet 

How hard it is ! 

It is not just ; for what a crowd would rush, 
Upon that plea, to sevci* household ties. 

Play fialse with oaths * 

Mary is on the threshold. 
Another minute, and she bathes the cheek 
Of Ellen with hot tears. 



202 . OXCE UPON A TIME. 

* I knew him not — 
Knew not his gi*eatne»i— nor his gentleness. 
I wrong'd him, Ellen ; yet he hath redeem 'd 
My father fi'ora deep ruin. Will he spurn me ? - 
Yes, he will spurn me. Ellen, 1 would ask 
Forgiveness, and then die/ 

The book is shut. 
Another mom, and Mary's Husband comes 
At Ellen's bidding. There is mystery. 
A sob — and then a silence — then a nish. 
Mary is kneeling at her Husband's ieetf 
And Ellen joins their hands. 

In 1647 Milton had again moved to a small house in 
Holbom, which opened behind into Lincoln's Inn Fields. 
He here continued to work in the education of a few 
scholars : — 

* So didst thou travel on life's common way 
In cheerful godliness ; and yet thy heart 
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.' 

But within two years Milton was called to higher occupa- 
tion. In the Councilrbooks at the State Paper OflSoe, some 
extracts from which were first published in the preface to 
Dr. Sumner's translation of Milton's * De Doctrina Chris- 
tiana,' there is this entry, under date of November 1 2, 1649 : 
' Ordered that Sir John Hippesley is spoken to that 
Mr. Milton may be accommodated with the lodgings that 
he hath at Whitehall.' And on the following 19ih of 
November : — * That Mr. Milton shall have the lodgings that 
were in the hands of Sir John Hippesley in WhitehaH, for 
his accommodation, as being secretary to the Council for 
Foreign Languages.' Here, then, was Milton, after having 
"written the ' Tenure of Kings and Magistrates,' and the 
* Iconoolastes,' fixed upon the very spot where, according 
to his own accoimt, a * most potent King, after he had 
trampled upon the laws of the nation, was finally, by the 
supreme council of the kingdom, condemned to die, and 
beheaded before the very gate of the royal palace ;' * but 
where, according to those who took a different view of the 

* Dcfeusio pro Populo Anglicano. 



MILTOX, THE LOXDONKR, 203 

matter, a ' black tragedy was acted, which filled most hearts 
among us with consternation and horror.'* After the 
sword was drawn and the scabbard thrown away, the 
Whitehall which Milton must have had in his mind when 
he wrote of 

' Throngs of knights and barons bold 
In weeds of peace/ 

was deserted ; its courts were solitary, its ohambers were 
vacant ; their hangings rotted on the walls ; their noble 
pictures were covered with dust and cobweb. Howell tells 
a remarkable story about the desolation of the favourite 
palace of James and Charles : — ' I send you these following 
prophetic verses of Whitehall, which were made above 
twenty years ago to my knowledge, upon a book called 
*' Balaam's Ash," that consisted of some invectives against 
King Jaraes'and the court in statu quo tunc. It was composed 
by one Mr. Williams, a counsellor of the Temple, but a 
Eoman Catholic, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered at 
Charing Cross for it ; and I believe there be hundreds that 
have copies of these verses ever since that time about the 
town yet living. They were these : — 

" Some seven years since Christ rid to couH, 

And there he left his a.ss, 
The coartiers kick'd him out of doors, 

Because they had no grass : 
The ass went mourning up and down. 

And thus I heard him bmy, — 
If that they could not give me gijiss, 

They might have given me hay : 
But sixteen hundred forty-thi-ee, 

Whosoe'er shall see that day, 
Will nothing Hnd within that court 

But only grass and hay." 

Which was found to happen true in Whitehall, till the 
soldiers coming to quarter there trampled it down.' 

Milton was settled in Whitehall little more than two 
years. Within six months of his establishment there he 
received from the Council a warrant to the trustees and 
* Howell's Letters. 



20:4 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

contractors for the sale of the King's goods, to deliver to 
him 811 ch hangings as should be sufficient for the furnishing 
of his lodgings. In 1651 the Council and the Committee of 
Parliament for Whitehall were at issue with r^ard to 
Milton's remaining in these lodgings; and the Conncil 
appointed a Committee to endeavour with the Committee of 
Parliament, * that the said Mr. Milton may be continued 
where he is, in regard of the employment he is in to the 
Council, which necessitates him to reside near the ConnciU 
But he left these lodgings. From 1652, till within a few 
weeks of the restoration of Charles II. in 1660, he resided 
in Petty France, Westminster, in the house ' next door to 
the Lord Scudamore's, and opening into St. James's Park,' 
He held the office of Foreign Secretary till 1655. In April 
the 17th of that year the following entiy is found in the 
Council-books : — * Ordered that the former yearly salary' of 
Mr. John Milton, of two hundred and eighty-eight poundv<:, 
&c., formerly charged on the (Council's contingencies, he 
reduced to one hundred and fifty pounds per annum, and 
paid to him during his life out of his Highness's Exchequer.* 
This reduced payment was no doubt a retiring pension to 
Milton ; and the reasons for that retirement are sufficiently 
pointed out in his second sonnet to -Skinner, written in 
1655: — 

* Cyriack, this three yeara day these eyes, though clear, 

To outward A*iew, of blemish or of spot, 

Beretl of light, their seeing hare forgot ; 

Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear 

Of sun, or moon, or stai- throughout the year, 

Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not 

Against HeaT'n's hand or will, nor bate a jot 

Of heart or hope ; but still bear up and steer 

Right ouwaixl. What supports me, dost thou asic ? 

The conscience, friend, to have lost them ovei-plied 

In liberty's defence, my noble task. 

Of which aU Europe rings from side to side. 

This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask, 

Content, though blind, had I no better guide.' 

The European fame of the author of the 'Defensio pro 
Populo Anglicano' was not overstated by the poet. 



MILTOJT, THE LONDONER. 205 

Aubrey says* * He waa mightily importuned to go into 
France and Italy; foreigners came much to see him and 
much admired him, and offered to him great preferments to 
come over to them ; and the only inducement of several 
foreigners that caode over into England was chiefly to see 
O. Protector and Mr. J. Milton ; and would see the house 
and chamber where he was bom. lie was much more 
admired abroad than at home.' Milton must indeed have 
felt that, during the four or five years in which he com- 
municated to foreign nations, in his own powerful and 
majestic style, the wishes and opinions of a strong and 
resolved government, ho was filling a part which, however 
obnoxious might be his principles, could not forbear to 
command the respect of the highest-minded men of all 
countries. As Milton continued to reside in Westminster 
for several years after he had been compelled by blindness 
to resign his ofiice, there is little doubt that his intimacy 
was close and confidential, not only with his own immediate 
friends, Marvell, and Skinner, and Harrington, who accord- 
ing to Anthony Wood belonged with him to the political 
club which met at the Turk's Head in Palace Yard — but 
with the more powerful leaders in the Commonwealth, and 
with ' Cromwell, our chief of men.' The celebrity of the 
Eota Club gave rise probably to the assertion that * Milton 
and some other creatures of the Commonwealth had 
instituted the Calves ' Head Club,'* which met on the 30th 
of January to revile the memory of Charles I. by profane 
ribaldry and mock solemnities. Milton, however stem a 
controversialist, was of too lofty a nature to stoop to such 
things. Pepys, in his Diary of January 1660, gives us a 
pretty adequate notion of the nature of the proceedings at 
this political club, the Hota, of which Harrington was the 
founder : — * I went to the Coffee Club, and heard very good 
discourse ; it was in answer to Mr. Harrington's answer, 
who said that the statcof the Roman government was not a 
settled government, and so it was no ^vender that the 
balance of prosperity was in one hand, and the command in 
♦ Secret History of the Calves' Head Club. Harleian Miscellany. 



206 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

another, it being therefore always in a posture of war: but 
it was carried by ballot that it was a steady government, 
though it is true by the voices it had been carried before 
that it was an unsteady government ; so to-morrow it is to 
be proved by the opponents that the balance lay in one 
hand and the government in another.' All this, after the 
real business of the Long Parliament, looks like boys' 
play ; but it was one mode by which the heat of political 
theorists quietly smouldered away without explosion. 
Wood says, * The discourses of the members about govner 
ment and ordering a commonwealth were the most in- 
genious and smart that ever were heard ; for the arguments 
in the Parliament House were but flat to them.' Yet these 
smart and ingenious things told for little when the genius 
of Cromwell was no more. While Harrington was de- 
claiming, Monk was bringing in Charles II. The Eump 
Parliament, which had overthrown the feeble government 
of Richard CromweU, was very shortly after cast down by 
the force of popular opinion. In three months after Charles 
was on the throne ; and Milton was proscribed. Up to the 
last moment he had lifted up his voice against what he 
called *the general defection of a misguided and abuficd 
multitude.' In the • Heady and Easy Way to establish a 
Free Commonwealth* we have almost his last words of 
solemn exhortation in connection with public affairs:— 
* What I have spoken is the language of that which is not 
called amiss, the good old cause : if it seem strange to any, 
it will not seem more strange, I hope, than convincing to 
backsliders : thus much I should perhaps have said, though 
I were sure I should have spoken only to trees and stones, 
and had none to cry to but with the prophet, ** O earth, 
earth, earth!" to tell the very soil itself what her perverse 
inhabitants are deaf to. Nay, though what I have spoke 
should happen (which Thou suffer not who didst create 
mankind free ! nor Thou next who didst redeem us from 
being servants of men I) to be the last tcoi^s of our expirinij 
liberty.' This was prophetic. For thirty years no such 
words were again heard ; and in * Paradise Lost * there is 



MILTON, THE LONDONER. 207 

but one solitary allusion to his position, with reforenco to 
public affairs and public manners :— 

« More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchangM 
To hoArte or inut«, though tall'n on evil days, 
On evU day» though lall'n, and evil tongues; 
In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round, 
And solitude ; yet not alone, while thou 
Viait'st my slambers nightly, or when mom 
Purples the east : still govern thou my song, 
Urania, and fit audience find, though few. 
Bat drive fiir off the barbarous dissonance 
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race 
Of that wild rout that tore the Thni«:ian baid 
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears 
To rapture, till the savage clamour drown'd 
Both harp and. voice ; nor could the muse defend 
Her son.' 

Milton, upon the Restoration, was in hiding, it is said, at 
a friend's house in Bartholomew Close. He was well 
concealed ; for the proclamation for his apprehension, and 
that of Goodwin, says, ' The said John Milton and John 
Goodwin are so fled, or so obscure themselves, that no 
endeavours used for their apprehension can take effect, 
whereby tbey may be brought to legal trial, and deservedly 
receive condign punishment for their treasons and offences/ 
Johnson thinks that the escape of Milton was favoured. 
Unquestionably his judicial murder would have been the 
mofirt; disgraceful act of the restored government. It is said 
that in 1650 Milton saved the royalist D'Avenant, and that 
in 1660 P'Avenant saved the republican Milton. Milton's 
^ Iconoclastes' a»d ' Defensio ' were burnt by the common 
haagman; but he was rendered safe by the Act of In- 

^^^^'Sve thus vexy hastily and imperfectly traced Milton 
throoigb biB Public l^fe-I^^«/«^aining fourteen years 
Le wl ^^^^ ^PP^"" *^"° '^ the confident and cheerfS 
^ ^t^of bis active existence; He was thpH , ,™ 

*^S axxd dwelt apart; He was wholly Z^^^^^ ^ 



208 



OXCE UPON A TIME. 



shadowed forth in his youth. He clung to London with an 
abiding love, and from 1660 to 1665 he lived in Holbom 
and Jewin Street. During this period ho completed 
* Paradise Lost.' When the great plague broke out he 
found a retreat at Chalfont. From this period his abode, 
up to the time of his death in 1674, was in Artillery" Walk, 
Bunhill Fields. It was here that Dr3den visited him. 
Aubrey records this visjt ; and amongst *his familiar 
learned acquaintance ' mentions ' Jo. Drj-den, Esq., Poet 
Laureat, who very much admired him, and went to hini to 
have leave to put his ^^ Paradise Lost " into a drama in rhyme. 
Mr. Milton received him civilly, and told him he would 
give him leave to tag his verses J 




Chancel of St. Giles, Cripplegaie. 



( 209 . ) 



LUCY HUTCHINSON. 

The 'Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson* is a book to be 
loved. In many passages it is tedious— a record of petty 
strategies of partisan warfare— and, more dreary still, of 
factious jealousies and polemical hatreds. Tlie absolute 
truth of the book is fatal, in one direction, to our hero- 
worship. The leadera of the Great Kebellion, in such 
minute details, appear as mere schemers, as rival agents at 
a borough election ; and the most fervent in professions of 
religious zeal are as bitter in their revenges as the heroes 
of a hundred scalps. But there arises out of the book, and 
is evermore associated with it, the calm quiet shadow of a 
woman of exquisite purity, of wondrous constancy, of 
untiring affection, — Lucy Hutchinson, its writer. 

John Hutchinson is at Richmond, lodging at the house 
of his music-master. He is twenty-two years of age. The 
village is full of * good company,' for the young Princes are 
being educated in the palace, and many * ingenious persons 
entertained themselves at that place.' The music-master's 
honse is the resort of the king's musicians ; ' and divers of 
the gentlemen and ladies that were affected with music 
came thither to hear.' There was a little girl * tabled* in 
the same house with John Hutchinson, who was taking 
lessons of the lutanist — a charming child, full of vivacity 
and intelligence. She told John she had an elder sister — 
a studious and retiring person — ^who was gone with her 
mother, Lady Apsley, into Wiltshire — and Lucy was going 
to be married, she thought. The little girl ever talked of 
Ijucy — and the gentleman talked of Lucy — and one day a 
song was sung which Lucy had written — and John and 

p 



210 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

the vivacious child walked, another day, to Lady Apsley's 
house, and there, in a closet, were Lucy's Latin boob. 
Mr. Hutchinson grew in love with Lucy's image ; and when 
the talk was more rife that she was about to be married— 
and some said that she was indeed married^he became un- 
happy — and * began to believe there was some magic in the 
place, which enchanted men out of t]ieir right senses ; bat 
the sick heart could not be chid nor advised into health.' 
At length Lucy and her mother came home ; and Lucy ms 
not married. Then John and Lucy wandered by the 
pleasant banks of the Thames, in that spring-time of 16^6, 
and a ' mutual friendship * grew up between them. Lvcj 
now talked to him of her early life ; how she had been bom 
in the Tower of London, of which her late fiither, Sir John 
Apsley, was the governor ; how her mother was the bene- 
factress of the prisoners, and delighted to mitigate the bard 
fortune of the noble and learned, and especially Sir Waltef 
Baleigh, by every needful help to his studies and amuse- 
ments ; how she herself grew serious amongst these scenes, 
and delighted in nothing but reading, and would never 
practise her lute or harpsichords, and absolutely hated her 
needle. John was of a like serious temper. Their fate 
was determined. 

The spring is far advanced into summer. On a certain 
day, the Mends on both sides meet to conclude the terms cf 
the marriage. Lucy is not to be seen. She has taken the 
small-pox. She is very near death. At length John u 
permitted to speak to his betrothed. Tremblingly and 
mournfully she comes into hie presence. She is ' the most 
deformed person that could be seen.' Who could tell the 
result in words so touching as Lucy's own? *He waa 
nothing troubled at it, but married her as soon as she was 
able to quit the chamber, when the priest and all that sav 
her were affrighted to look on her. But God reoompenaed 
his justice and constancy by restoring her ; though she wa** 
longer than ordinary before she recovered to be as well as 
before.' 

They were married on the 3rd of July, 1638, 



LUCY HUTCHINSON. 211 

In the autumn of 1641, John and Lucy Hutctinson are 
living in their own house of Owthorpe, in Nottinghamshire, 
They haTe two sons. They are 'peaceful and happy.' 
John has dedicated two years since his marriage to the 
stTidy of * school divinity/ He has convinced himself of 
' the great point of predestination.' This faith has not, as 
his wife records, produced a * carelessness of life in him,* 
but * a more strict and holy walking.' He applies himself, 
in his house at Owthorpe, * to understand the things then 
in dispute' between the King and Parliament. He is 
satisfied of the righteousness of the Parliament's cause ; but 
he then • contents himself with praying for peace.' In 
another year the King has set up his standard at Notting- 
ham ; the battle of Edgehill has been fought ; all hope of 
peaoe is at an end.. John Hutchinson is forced out of his 
quiet habitation by the suspicions of his royalist neigh- 
bours. He is marked as a Roundhead. Lucy does not 
like the name. * It was very ill applied to Mr. Hutchinson, 
who, having naturally a very fine thickset head of hair, 
kept it clean and handsome, so that it wa% a great ornament 
to him; although the godly of those days, when he 
embraced their part)% would not allow him to be religious 
because his hair is not in their cut.' The divinity student 
now becomes a lieutenant-colonel. He raises a company 
of * very honest godly men.' The Earl of Chesterfield is 
plundering the houses of the Puritans in the Vale of 
Belvoir, near Owthorpe ; and the young colonel has appre- 
hensions for the safety of his family. In the depth of 
winter a troop of horse arrive one night at the lonely 
house where Lucy and her children abide. They are 
hastily summoned to prepare for an instant journey. They 
are to ride to Nottingham before sunrise, for the soldiers 
are not strong enough to march in the day. Lucy is 
henceforth to be the companion of her husband in his 
perilous oflice— his friend, his comforter — a ministering 
angel amongst the fierce and dangerous spirits, whom he 
sways by a remarkable union of courage and gentleness. 

Let us look at the shadow of Lucy Hutchinson. She 

p 2 



212 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

tranquilly sits in one of the npper chambers of the old and 
ruinous castle of which her husband is appointed governor. 
It is a summer evening of 1643. In that tower, built upon 
the top of the rock, tradition says that Queen Isabel 
received her paramour Mortimer ; and at the base of the 
rock are still shown Mortimer's Well, and Mortimer's Hole, 
as Lucy Hutchinson saw them two centuries ago. She 
looks out of the narrow windows by which her chamber is 
lighted. There is the Trent, peacefully flowing on one 
side, amidst flat jiieadows. On the other is the town of 
Nottingham. The governor has made the ruinous castle a 
strong fortress, with which he can defy the Cavaliers should 
they occupy the town beneath. Opposite the towers is the 
old church of St. Nicholas, whose steeple commands the 
platform of the castle. The governor has sent away hi* 
horse, and many of his foot, to gtiard the roads by which 
the enemy could approach Nottingham. There is no 
appearance of danger. The reveille is beat. Those who 
have been watching all night lounge into the town. It is 
in the possession of the Cavaliers. The scene is changed. 
The din of ordnance rouses Lucy from her calm gaze upon 
the windings of the Trent. For five days and nights there 
is firing without intermission. Within the walls of the 
castle there are not more than eighty men. The miisqiae- 
teers on St. Nicholas' steeple pick off the cannoneers at 
their guns. 

Now and then, as the assailants are beaten from the walls, 
they leave a wounded man behind, and he is draped into 
the castle. On the sixth day, after that terrible period cf 
watchfulness, relief arrives. The Cavaliers are driven 
from the town with much slaughter, and the castle is filled 
with prisoners. Lucy has not been idle during these m 
days of peril. There is a task to be performed, — a fitting 
one for woman's tenderness. Within the castle was & 
dungeon called the Lions' Den, into which the prisonei^ 
were cast ; and as they were brought up from the toTvii. 
two of the fanatical ministers of the garrison reviled anJ 
maltreated them. Lucy reads the commands of her Master 



LUCY HUlXmiNSON. 213 

after another fashion. Aa the prisoners are carried bleeding 
to the Lions' Den, she implores that they should be brought 
in to her,*and she binds np and dresses their wounds. And 
now the two ministers mutter — and their souls abhor to 
see this favour done to the enemies of God— and they 
teach the soldiers to mutter. But Lucy says, * I have done 
nothing but my duty. These are our enemies, but they are 
our fellow-creatures. Am I to be upbraided for these poor 
humanities ?' And then she breathes a thanksgiving to 
Heaven that her mother had taught her this humble surgery. 
There is a tear in John's eye as he gazes on this scene. 
That night the Cavalier officers sup with him, rather as 
guests than as prisoners. 

In the Vale of Belvoir, about seven miles from Belvoir 
Castle, is the little village of Owthorpe. When Colonel 
Hutchinson returned to the house of his fathers, after the 
war was ended, he found it plundered of all its moveables 
— a mere ruin. In a few years it is a fit dwelling for Lucy 
to enjoy a life-long rest, after the terrible storms of her 
early married days. There w no accusing spirit to disturb 
their repose. John looks back upon that solemn moment 
when he signed the warrant for the great tragedy enacted 
before Whitehall without remorse. He had prayed for 
• an enlightened conscience,' (and he had carried out his 
most serious convictions. He took no part in the despotio 
acts that followed the destruction of the monarchy. He 
liad no affection for the fanatics who held religion to be 
incompatible with innocent pleasures and tasteful pursuits. 
At Owthorpe, then, he lived the true life of an English 
gentleman. He built — he planted — he adorned his house 
with works of art — he was the just magistrate — the bene- 
factor of the poor. The earnest man who daily expounded 
the Scriptures to his household was no ascetic. There was 
hospitality within those walls — with music and revelry. 
The Puritans looked gloomily and suspiciously upon the 
dwellers at Owthorpe. The Cavaliers could not forgive 



2 1 4 ONCE UFON A TIME. 

the soldier who had held Nottingham Castle against all 
assaults* 

The Restoration comes. The royalist consiexions of Lucy 
Hutchinson have a long struggle to save her husband's life ; 
but he is finally included in the Act of Oblivion. He is 
once more at Owthorpe, without the compromise of his 
principles. He has done with political strife for ever. 

On the 31st of October, 1663, there is a coach waiting 
before the hall of Owthorpe. That hall is filled with 
tenants and labourers. Their benefactor cheerfully bide 
ihem farewell; but his wife and .children are weeping 
bitterly. That coach is soon on its way to London with 
the husband and wife, and their eldest son and daughter. 
At the end of the fourth day's journey, at the gates of that 
fortress within which she had been born, Lucy Hutchinson 
is parted from him whose good and evil fortunes she has 
shared for a quarter of a century. 

About a mile from Deal stands Satidown Castle. In 
1664, Colonel Hutchinson is a prisoner within its walls. 
It was a ruinous place, not weatherproof. The tide washed 
the dilapidated fortress ; the windows were unglazed ; cold, 
and damp, and dreary was the room where the proud heart 
bore up against physical evils. For even here there was 
happiness. Lucy is not permitted to share his prison ; but 
she may visit him daily. In the town of Deal abides that 
faithful wife. She is with him at the first hour of the 
morning ; she remains till the latest of night. In sunshine 
or in storm, she is pacing along that rugged beach, to con- 
sole and be consoled. 

Eleven months have thus been passed, when Lucy is 
persuaded by her husband to go to Owthorpe to see her 
children. 

* When the time of her departure came, she left with a 
very sad and ill-presaging heart.' In a few weeks John 
Hutchinson is laid in the family vault in that Yale of 
Belvoir. 

Lucy Hutchinson sits in holy resignation in the old sacred 



LUCY HUTCHINSON. 215 

home. She has a task to work out. She has to tell her 
husband's histoiy for the instnictioii of her children : — * I 
that am under a command not to grieve at the common rate 
of desolate women, while I am studying which way to 
modeiBte my woe, and if it were possible, to augment my 
love, can, for the present, find out none more just to your 
dear father, nor consolatory to myself, than the preserva- 
tion of his memory/ 



216 ONCE UPON A TIME, 



ASTROLOGICAL ALMANACS. 

The stormy period from the rupture of Charles L with 
his Parliament to the Eevolution, was the golden age d 
astrology in England. James I., *the wisest fool in 
Christendom/ did little more for ' the art ' than to gract 
the monopoly of promulgating its absurdities in almanacs 
to the Universities and the Stationers' Company. As a 
matter of state craft, this was a politic measure. Almanacs 
have always had a considerable influence upon the opinion? 
of the common people ; and it was, therefore, prudent to 
secure the compliance of a powerful body of men with the 
wishes of the ruling authority. The French government, 
half a century earlier, had forbidden the almanac-makeR 
to prophesy at all: but it was a more subtle device to 
render the liberty of prophesying profitable to those who 
would take especial care that their * old men should dream 
dreams' after that holy and legitimate fashion which 
should give * the right divine of kings * the last and bctt 
varnish of superstition, wherewith it might shine and look 
lovely in the eyes of the ignorant multitude. The Univer- 
sities, to their honour be it spoken, grew ashamed of their 
participation in this pious work ; but they were not ashamed 
of the lucre which their share of the monopoly produced. 
They sold their right to the Stationers' Company ; and that 
company earned their title to this and other privileges sn 
fully, that in the next century they had the honour of 
being called * the literar)" constables to the Star Chamber, 
to suppress all the science and information to which ire 
owe our freedom.' 

But Charles I. did even more than his sapient father. 
He not only encouraged astrology, but he afflicted to believe 
in it. He raised up Lilly and Gadbury from the low con- 



ASTROLOGICAL ALMANACS. 217 

dition in which they were bom, to publish the * Boyal 
Horoscope,' and to threaten disobedient subjects with ma- 
lignant aspects of the stars. But Charles could not secure 
even the loyalty of the astrologers. The Stationers' Com- 
pany always had especial reasen for being on the side of 
the ruling power. They could always see clearly, 'by 
the help of excellent glasses,' who would be lord of the 
ascendant. They prophesied for Cromwell as they had 
prophesied for Charles; they sang *Te Deum' for the 
Eestoration, as they had done for the Protectorate; and 
although they dated their little books from the year * of our 
deliverance by King William from popery and arbitrary 
government,' they had not forgotten to invoke the blessings 
of the planets upon the last of the Stuarts ; and to prognos- 
ticate all the evils of comets and eclipses upon those who 
resisted his paternal sway. 

Lilly was unquestionably the prince of the powers of the 
air in those glorious days of horoscopes and witch -burnings. 
He was originally a domestic servant; but he wcus not 
satisfied to tell fortunes to the wenches of the kitchen, or 
to predict the recovery of a stolen spoon. In 1633 he 
boldly published the horoscope of Charles 1., at the period 
when that unfortunate prince was crowned king of Scotland. 
Charles had either too much weakness or too much cunning 
to put the impostor in the pillory, as one might have ex- 
pected from the friend of Strafford and ttie patron of Eubens. 
The astrologer was for years in the habit of giving counsel 
to the monarch. Whether he predicted evil or good in 
their private moments we are not informed ; but the pre- 
sumption is that astrologers could flatter as well as lords of 
the bedchamber. It is doubtful whether Charles found as 
much truth in the predictions of Lilly, as when he con- 
sulted the Sartes VirgHiance, with Falkland, at Oxford. The 
old impostor, however, was not content to be cabinet coun- 
sellor of the king. In 1644 he began to prophesy for the 
ear of the whole worid; and he went onward through 
good report and evil report till he acquired a considerable 
fortune, bought an estate ^t Hersham, near Walton-upon- 



218 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



Thames, and died there in 1681. In his old age be^)eciine 
oautious in his prophecies ; said was feaifal, according to 
his own words, * of launching out too far into the deep, test 




Ully. 



he should give offence/ There is no doubt, however, of 
his semi-belief in his art. He deluded others till he wa:^ 
himself deluded. 

Gadbury, who was originally the pupil of Lilly, became 
eventually his arch-rival and enemy ; and when the one 
published his *Merlinus Anglicus,' the other had his 
* Anti-Merlinus/ Lilly, some three or four years before 
he was removed to learn the value of all attempts to pene- 
trate into futurity, from the lessons of * the great teacher 
Death,' thought fit to contradict * all flying reports' of his 
decease, * spread abroad for some years past.' The astrolo- 



ASTJIOLOGICAL ALMANACS. 219 

gers of that day bad a wicked trick of vilifying each other, 
by anticipating the summons of the Fates ; and thus Lilly 
himself, when he could not write down Gadbury, an- 



J<^n Qadbury. 

nounoed to the world that his disciple, whom he proscribed 
as a monster of ingratitude, bad perished in the passage to 
Barbadoes. But Gadbury outlived his master ten years, 
very much to his own satisfaction. He had a narrow 
escape in the days of Titus Oates, for he was a staunch 
Catholic, and had no belief in the ' horrid, popish, Jacobite 
plot,' from the epoch of which Partridge dated to our own 
day. Partridge hated Gadbury as much as Gadbury hated 
Lilly; and when Gadbury died, Partridge published the 
history of what he called * his Black Life.' But though 
Gadbury was dead, the Stationers, according to their most 
indubitable privilege in all such cases, continued to publish 
his almanacs, till another Gadbury (Job) succeeded to the 
honours and emoluments of his worthy relative, and pro- 
phesied through another generation of most credulous 



220 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Swift has conferred an immortality upon John Partridge, 
whom he killed as an almanao-maJcer in 1709. The old 
man, at the time when this wicked wit assailed him, had 
been nearly forty years labouring in his vocation* He 
appears, originally, to have been a harmless, and, for an 
almanac-maker, somewhat sensible person. When Swift 
assailed him he had passed his grand climacteric; and 
though the almanac perished in this memorable affray, the 
man lived for six years after Bickerstaff had killed him. 
But when Partridge refused any longer to predict, the 
Stationers' Company did not choose to be laughed out of 
the profit of his reputation for prediction. They accordingly, 
in 1710, printed a Partridge's almanac, with Partridge's 
portrait, which Partridge never wrote. During the three 
succeeding years the publication was discontinued ; bvt in 
1 714, the year before the mortal part of the astrologer died. 
Partridge's ' Merlinus Liberatus * again made its appearance ; 
and went dragging on a decrepit existence, with the sina of 
a century and a half upon its head. 

Swift's account of Partridge's death is one of the most 
pungent pieces of solemn humour which the genius of that 
most terrific of controversialists ever produced. No wonder 
that it killed the almanac for a season, though the man 
escaped. The confession of the astrologer is admirable : — 
* *' I am a poor ignorant fellow, bred to a mean trade, yet 1 
have sense enough to know, that all pretences of foretelling 
by astrology are deceits, for this manifest reason — because 
the wise and learned, who can only judge whether there 
be any truth in this science, do all tmanimously agree to 
laugh at and despise it ; and none but the poor ignorant 
vulgar give it any credit, and that only upon the word of 
such silly wretches as' I and my fellows, who can hardly 
write or read." I then asked him, why he had not 
calculated his own nativity, to see wliether it agreed with 
Bickerstaff's prediction. At which he shook his he^, and 
said, ** Oh ! sir, this is no time for jesting, but for repenting 
these fooleries, as I do now from the very bottom of my 
heart!" "By what I can gather from you," said I, *'the 



ASTROLOGICAL ALMANACS. 221 

obeervations and predictions you printed with your alma- 
tiacs were mere impositions on the people P" He replied, 
** If it were otherwise, I should have the less to answer for. 
VTe have a common form for all these things ; as to foretell- 
ing the weather, we never meddle with that, but leave it to 
the printer, who takes it out of any old almanac, as he 
thinks fit."' 

It is a hundred and forty years* since this attack, which 
one would have thought irresistible, was levelled against 
the prophecy-makers of the Stationers' Company; but 
these fooleries still exist amongst us. At the time of Swift, 
the greater part of the astrologers of the civil wars had 
long been dead ; but the almanacs, which were issued from 
this great patent store-house of imposture, bore the names 
of their original authors. • Poor Bobin, Dove, Wing, and 
several others do yearly publish their almanacs, though 
several of them have been dead since before the Revolu- 
tion.' The individual men were gone ; but the spirit of 
delusion, which they had originally breathed into their 
works, was not extinguished by their death, for the corpora- 
turn of the Stationers' Company could never die. 

Francis Moore, * Physician,' began his career of imposture 
in 1698 ; and, by the condensation within himself of all the 
evil qualities of his contemporaries, he gradually contrived ^ 
to extinguish the lives, and then, with a true vampire- 
spirit, to j)rey upon the carcases, even up to thp present 
hour, of Lilly, Gadbury, Lord, Andrews, Woodhouse, 
Dade, Pond, Bucknall, Pearce, Coelson, Perkins, and 
Parker, — the illustrious and the obscure cheats of the seven- 
teenth century. One hundred and fifty-five years is a pretty 
long career of imposture. Poor Robin, the hoaiy jester of 
the fraternity, gave up the ghost a quarter of a century 
ago, after a life of iniquity longer than that of Old Parr 
or Henry Jenkins. Heaven avert the omen from Francis 
Moore! 

As the old astrologers died in the body, and their spirits, 

* This, and other dates of the same character, are the same as in the first 
edition of this Tolume, 1854. 



222 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



after lingering awliile near * Paul's,' reposed also, the 
Stationers' Company raised np new candidates for the 
emoluments and honours of their trade of 'using subtil 
craft to deceive and impose on his Majesty's subjects.' At 
the beginning of the reign of George III., Andrews, and 
Parker, and Pearce, and Partridge, and Moore, were still 




Fronds Moore, 1657. Frum an aiionymons Print. 



flourishing, of the old set; but the more glorious names 
were gone to enjoy the celestial converse of Albumazar and 
Raymond LuUy. Their places were filled (how ignoble !) 
by Saunders and Seasoii, and Tycho Wing. Even these 
are gone. Moore alone remains upon this wicked earth, 
where common-sense walks abroad and laughs at him as 
the forlorn mummer of a bygone generation. He now 
belongs to * Once upon a Time.' 



( 223 ) 



MAY-FAIE. 

This region of fashion waa, at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, a large field, extending from Park 
Lane almost to Devonshire House, in the West ; and com- 
prising the space to the North vrhere the famous Lord 
Chesterfield, in the middle of that century, built his 
magnificent mansion, and looked with pride upon his 
spaeious garden from the windows of [his noble library. 
The brook of Tyburn ran through this district, so that 
the place was idso called Brook Field, which name is 
still preserved in Brook Street. In this Brook Field 
was held an Annual Fair, commencing on the 1st of May, 
which, without going back into more remote antiquity, 
had been not only a market for all commodities, but a 
place of fashionable resort, in the early years of the Besto- 
ration. Mr. Pepys was a visitor there in 1660. 

The general character of May-Fair may be gathered 
from an advertisement of the 27th of April, 1700: — *In 
Brook Field Market-place, at the East Comer of Hyde 
Park, is a Fair to be kept for the space of sixteen days, 
beginning with the 1st of May: the first three days for 
live cattle and leather; with the same entertainments 
as at Bartholomew Fair : where there are shops to be let, 
ready built, for all manner of tradesmen that annually 
keep fairs ; and so to continue yearly at the same place.' 

The surprise that we may feel in thus learning that the 
business of buying and selling ' cattle and leather ' was to 
continue for three days, at the extreme West of our Me- 
tropolis, may be diminished by considering that the dis- 
trict was essentially a suburb, very thinly peopled ; that 
to the North there were no streets ; that where Apsley 
House now stands was a low inn, called the 'Hercules 



224 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



Pillars ;' and a little farther West a roadside watenng- 
place, known as the * Triumphant Chariot;' ^«^ .^'^ 
villagers of Kensington and Chelsea seldom penetrated mto 
London proper; that the Fair of Brook Field was, there- 







^tiL whit: HAftT . w-^ 

3lD C*»»No« TAP/'* 
^ ■> CDdjiPiqt 

rir-. .vmit; HAtiT.] 




-M' 



(r^nr*(A 



w^.THffinri. .sT: 



Old Wateilng-house, Kiilghlsbrldge, aa it appeared iu 1B41. 

fore, a matter of as much convenience as the great Fair of 
Bury, or any other of the country marts to which dealers 
brought their commodities. That it was something more 
than a market for cattle and leather, and a collection of 
stalls for the sale of gingerbread and beer, we learn from 



MAY-FAIR. 225 

the announcement Unai * there are shops ready built for all 
manner of tradesmen.' 

The observance of May was one of those ancient pecu- 
liarities of our national character which required an es- 
sential change of manners to eradicate. Enactments could 
not put down May-poles and morris-dancers. A Parlia- 
mentary Ordinance, in 1644, directed all and singular May- 
poles, that are or shall be erected, to be taken down and 
removed by the constables of the parishes. The May-pole 
in the Strand bowed its head to this ruthless command."^ 
There, in 1634, had the first stand of hackney-coaches been 
established — four coaches with men in livery, with fares 
arranged according to distances. But the May-pole did 
not fall unhonoured. There was a lament for the May- 
pole, * which no city, town, nor street can parallel f and 
the Cavalier-poet sighs over the 'happy age,' and the 
* harmless days,' ♦ when every village did a May-pole 
raise :' * times and men are changed,' he says. It was true. 
The May-pole in the Strand, and the hackney-coaches, 
were somewhat incongruous companions. After twenty 
years of strife and blood came the Bestoration ; and the 
Cavaliers believed that * times and men ' were not changed. 
A new May-pole was to be raised, in 1661 — a * stately 
cedar' of enormous height, which landsmen were unable 
to raise ; and so the Duke of York commanded seamen * to 
officiate the business ;' and the May-pole was hoisted up, in 
four hours, to the sound of drum and trumpet; and a 
morris-dance was danced, to pipe and tabor, as blithely as 
in the days of Elizabeth; and 'little children did much 
rejoice, and ancient people did clap their hands, saying, 
"Golden days begin to appear."' In 1672 the mighty 
May-pole — * the most prodigious one for height that per- 
haps was ever ^ seen,' says old Aubrey — was broken by a 
high vrind. The Eevolution came, and then the contests 
of faction, and a foreign war, gave the people graver 
subjects to think of than ' Whitsun ales and May games.' 
The broken May-pole of the Strand gradually decayed and 
became a nuisance ; but it had a higher destiny — typical 



226 ONCE UPOX A TIME. 

of the changes of * times and men.' In 1717 it was cwteJ 
away to Wanstead, under the direction of Newton, and 
there set up to support the largest telesoope in the world, 
which had been presented to the Boyal Society by a 
French Member, M. Huyon. The age of mornB-danocn 
was about to be superseded by the age of Science ; and in 
duo time would come the age of the Mechanical ArtB. A 
century ago Hume said, ' We cannot reasonably expect that 
a piece of woollen cloth will be brought to perfection in a 
nation that is ignorant of astronomy.' The power-loom 
is the natural descendant of the telescope in Wanatead 
Park. 

On May morning, in 1701, it is not unlikely that a fe^ 
of the busy London population were dancing round the 
broken May-pole in the Strand. The chimney-sweepen 
had not yet taken exclusiye possession of this festiirad ; but 
the milk-maids, with their garlands, might be there as the 
representatives of rural innocence. The great bulk of the 
holiday-makers would abandon the May-pole for the keener 
excitement of May-Fair. For there (according to the eti- 
dence of a letter from Mr. Brian Fairfax, of 1 701) would bi 
attraction for all classes. ' I wish you had been at Mar- 
-Fair, where the rope-dancing would have recompensed 
your labour.' There, according to the ' Tatler,' was }Ir. 
Penkethman, with his tame elephant ; and there were woot 
to be * many other curiosities of- nature.' There ^^^ 
theatres with ' gentlemen and ladies, who were the oisft' 
ments of the town, and used to shine in plumes fd 
diamonds.' There, was ' Mrs. Saraband, bo famous forber 
ingenious puppet-show,' — the proprietress of *that rake- 
heU, Punch, whose lewd life and conversation had given 
so much scandal.' There, was the oonjnror, and tbt 
mountebank, and the fire-eater. But, more attract!^ 
than all, there, was ' Lady Mary,' the dancing lass-* 
very jewel, according to Brian Faiiilax. * All the nobility 
in town were there. Pray ask my Lord Fair&x after hefe 
who, though not the only lord by twenty, was every ni^, 
an admirer of her, while the fair lasted.' But there wei " 






MAT-FAIR, 22T 

j^reat rarities of Art to bo seen— specimons of ingenuity 
that might rival 1851. * There was the city of Amster- 
dam, well worth yonr seeing ; every street, every indi- 
vidual honse, was carved in wood, in exact proportion, one 
to another ; the Stadthouse was as big as your hand/ The 
city of Amsterdam might attract discreet observers, who 
kept out of the way of the bull-bait and the ducking-pond 
—polite sports to which Young England, in the last 
century, was somewhat addicted. Last of all, there was 
the sober business of the fair — the real work transacted in 
the • shops ' that were * let, ready built, for all manner of 
tradesmen.' 

Of the commodities exposed for sale in these temporary 
shops would, first of all, be clothing. Of woollen fabrics 
there would be abundance. The great work of legislation 
was to keep all the wool at home, and to make ihe people 
wear nothing but woollen garments. A writer of 1698 
says :— * Men are very careful to preserve their rents ; but, 
above all, gentlemen are in the greatest disquiet for their 
wool. Both the living and the dead must be wrapt in 
wool ; nor is any law wanting to complete the business, 
but only one, — that our perukes should be made of wool.* 
The great problem of legislation was how to encourage the 
growth of wool, and the manufacture of wool; and a 
perpetual controversy was going on between the manu- 
facturers and the agriculturists. The agriculturists were 
then the free-traders, — they wanted a foreign market for 
their wool : the manufacturers would have kept it all at 
home. But they both agreed that nothing which inter- 
fered with wool should be worn in England. Siljc buttons 
were an article of dress : the silk was bought in foreign 
parts in exchange for our woollen manufacture ; but the 
making of silk buttons, says the Act of J 698, was dis- 
couraged by Braking buttons out of the shreds of cloth, — 
and thousands of men, women, and children, who made 
silk buttons with the needle, were impoverished ; and so a 
penalty of forty shillings was to be paid by any unhappy 
tailor who used his shreds to make buttons. But this 

Q 2 



228 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

mioroscopio legislation was always working in the dark. 
In 1697 the importation of foreign lace and needlework 
was absolutely prohibited, because the importation was 'to 
the great discouragement of the manufactures in this 
kingdom.' In 1699 the Act of 1697 was repealed, on 
account of the decay of the woollen manufactures, becaufi* 
the prohibition of foreign lace and needlework ' )ias been 
one great cause thereof, by being the occasion that our 
woollen manufactures are prohibited to be imported into 
inlanders/ At May-Fair, in 1701, there must have been a 
keen competition amongst the feshionable ladies for the 
last chance of a purchase in the fair of Indian silks and 
calicoes ; for after the 29th of September the wearing of all 
wrought silks of the manufacture of Persia, China, or 
India, and all coloured calicoes, was absolutely prohibited. 
The whole principle of our commercial legislation wm 
protection, — to have no real exchange with other eouniries, 
and no free industry in our own commodities. The inte- 
rest of the consumer was never regarded. The perpetual 
cry was the duty of employing the poor, — in r^ulating 
which employment the poor were starved. There was hut 
one man of those days who had discovered the broad 
truths of commerce, which he promulgated in these 
words : — * The whole world, as to trade, is but one 
nation or people, and therein nations are as persons, 
• * ♦ There can be no trade unprofitable to the people, 
for if any prove so, men leave it off. * * * No laws 
can set prices on trade. * * * All favour to one trade 
or interest is an abuse, and cuts off so much profit from 
the public' It is a hundred and sixty years i^o since 
the great merchant. Sir Dudley North, proclaimed these 
principles, — the highest application of which belongs to 
our day. 

But, with all the defects of the class-legislation that 
prevailed in the first year of the eighteenth centuryi 
England was advancing in commercial prosperity. In fite 
years after the peace of Eyswick the exports were more 
than doubled, and the mercantile marine more than quad- 



MAY-FAIR. 229 

nipled. The exports in 1701 were about six millions, of 
which aboTtt four millions consisted of our own ^produce 
and manufactures, — one-eighteenth part of our present ex- 
ports. In 1701 the mercantile navy carried about three 
hundred thousand tons, — about one-fifteenth part of our 
present tonnage. The navigation laws, which it has i-e- 
quired the slow growth of political philosophy to abolish, 
bit by bit, during two centuries, were held to be the foun- 
dation of our marine superiority. And yet, whilst an 
exclusive protection was given to English-built vessels, 
worked by English seamen, we utterly lost the old Green- 
land whale-fishery for want of skilled crews. At the 
Revolution the agriculture of the country required a stimu- 
lus, so the bounty system was commenced. Foreign com 
could not be brought in except when scarcity prevailed at 
home, and the exporters of English wheat received a 
bounty of five shillings a quarter, when the home price 
did not exceed forty shillings. The Dutch stored the 
wheat, which the bounty to the grower enabled them to 
buy at a cheaper rate tiian the average European price, 
and sold it us again, in dear seasons, at a large profit. 
All commerce was a system of restriction, evasion, and 
compromise, resting upon the belief that one nation's gain 
was another's loss — and that commercial advantage was 
only to be measured by the balance of money received for 
commodities, and not by the exchange of the useful pro- 
ducts of industry, varying with the peculiar soil, climate, 
and manners of the exchangers. 

At this period England was not, in any large sense of 
the term, a manufacturing country. With the exception 
of our woollen cloths — which amounted to nearly half our 
exports — some articles of raw produce were our chief ship- 
ments to foreign countries. The principal products of our 
mines were lead and tin, both of ^yhich we exported. Tin 
was in great demand, both at home and abroad, on account 
of the extension of luxurious habits, which required p-wter 
plates instead of wooden trenchers. We raised and smelted 
• no copper, but imported it unwrought. The greater part 



230 ONCE tPON A l-EME. 

of our iron was also imported. No beds of rock-salt had 
been worked,— edible salt was imported, — for the wretched 
produce of our brine-pits was nauseous and injurious. And 
yet salt was of prime necessity at a period when the rota- 
tion of crops was unknown, and winter-food for sheep aad 
cattle not being raised, the greater number were killed and 
salted at Martinmas. The coal-mines were limited in their 
produce, — partly by the want of machinery, and paitly by 
the difficulty of communication. The greater part of the 
coal consumed in the kingdom was sea-borne — hence called 
sea-coal j but occasionally pack-horses travelled with coal 
inland, for the supply of blacksmiths' forges. Factories', 
in the modem sense, did not exist. Even the great wool 
manufacture was, in most of its processes, domestic. ^^ ca- 
vers left their shuttles idle in their cottages, when hanefet 
work demanded their labour in the fields ; and this, not os 
a matter of choice, but xmder legal compulsion. 

The Norwich and the Yorkshire looms were the subjects 
of minute regulation, as to wages and material. We im- 
ported spun silk for our Spitalfields looms. John Lomk 
built his Derby silk-mill in 1717. An ingenious adven- 
turer, who made the attempt in 1702, was ruined. 0^ 
linen fabrics were imported from France, Germany, and 
Holland, and so were our threads. We manufactured hat« 
and glass only after the accession of William the Third* 
when the war with France drove us to employ our capital 
and skill in their production. It was the same with paper. 
Before the Revolution there was little made in England, 
except brown paper. We imported our writing and print- 
ing papers from France and Holland. We imported our 
crockery-ware, which retained the name of Delft, eveB 
when our Potteries had begun to work. Sheffield produced 
its old ' whittle ' — the common knife for all uses ; but tlie 
finer cutlery was imported from France. We obtaine^i 
most of our printing- type from Holland — not that Enghui^ 
wanted letter-foimders, but that their charaoters were ifi 
rude, that our neighbours . supplied us, till an ingenio1l^ 
artist, William Caslon, established his London foundry iii 



MAY-FAIR. 231 

1720. There wa« a demand then for types, for the age of 
newspapers was come. AVhen England was restricted to 
twenty master-printers— as it was before the Revolution — 
there was little need of skilful type-founders. 

In the May-Fair of 1701 the news-venders would be 
busy. There would be half-a-dozen papers bearing the 
name of * Intelligence,' or * Intelligencer ;' there would be 
sixailar varieties of the family of ' Flying Post,* and * Mer- 
cury,' and ' Observator ;' there would be * Dawks's News 
Letter, done upon good writing-paper, and blank space 
loft, that any gentleman may write his own private busi- 
ness.' Each of these would hold less matter than a modem 
column. The writers upon Dawks's * good writing-paper,' 
or any other paper, were not very numerous in a population 
of five miUiona. The Postage revenue was about sixty 
thousand pounds, whioh, averaging the rate of letters at 
threepence each (single sheets, carried under eighty miles, 
were twopence), would give us about a letter annually for 
each of the population ; about two-thirds of the letters now 
delivered in one week ; which show ^bont eighteen letters 
annually for each of the population. Th« newspapers in 
May-Fair each had two or three advertisements — some of 
books, some of luxuries, which are now necessaries of life 
— such as tea at twenty-four shillings a pound, loaf sugar 
at eleven shillings, coffee at six bbilliAgs, AU had adver- 
tisements of lotteries. Every description of retail traffic 
was then carried on by gambling. At the 'Eagle and 
Child,' on Ludgate Hill, all soiis of fine silks and goods 
were to be had at seven pounds ten shillings a ticket; 
Mrs. Ogle's plate, value twenty pounds, was at sixpence 
a ticket; Mr. William Morris, *the iiedrest of dealers,' 
draws his lottery out of two wheels by two parish-boys, 
giving one hundred pounds for half-a-crown. There were 
lotteries drawing in May-Fair, and the thimble-rig was not 
xinknown. 

The May morning of 1701 sees the busy concourse in 
Brook Field of sellers and buyers. There is the Jew from 
Houndsditch and the grazier from Finchley. From the 



232 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



distant Bermondsey comeB the tanner, with his peltiy and 
his white leather for harness. Beer is freely drunk. To- 
bacco perfumes the air from one sunrise to another. It is 
almost difficult to believe that eleven million pounda of 




Faux, the Coi^Jurer. 

tobacco were then annually consumed by a population of 
five millions ; but so say the records. The graziers ami 
the drovers were hungry : they indulged themselves with 
the seldom-tasted wheaten bread of the luxurious Lon- 
doners. They had waded through roads scarcely pra^* 



MAT-FAIR. 233 

ticable for boxBemen. PedestriaiVB, who kept the crowii of 
the catisewaj, on whose sides were perilous sloughs and 
fool ditches, travelled in company, for fear of the frequent 
highvrajmaxi and footpad. Happy were they when the sun 
lighted the highway from Tottenham or Tyburn ; for not 
a lantern was to be seen, and the flickering link made the 
morning fog seem denser than its reality. That May-day 
morning has little cheerfrilness in its aspect. 

The afternoon comes. Then the beasts and the leather 
are sold — and the revelry begins. It lasts through the 
night. We need not describe the brutality of the prize- 
fighting, nor record the licentiousness of the Merry Andrew. 
All the poetical character of the old May sports was gone. 
It -was a scene of drunkenness and quarrel. May-Fair 
became a nuisance. The Grand Jury presented it seven 
years after ; and the puppets, and the rope-dancers, and 
the gambling-booths, the bruisers, and the thieves, had to 
seek another locality. When Fashion obtained possession 
of the site, the form of profligacy was changed. The 
thimble-riggers were gone; but Dr. Keith married all 
comers to his chapel, ' with no questions asked, for a gui- 
nea, any time after midnight till four in the afternoon.' 



234 ONCE UPON A TIME. 



JOHN AUBREY, AND. HIS EMINENT MEN. 

There are few books that I take up more willinglj in a 
vacant half-hour, than the scrajm of biography which 
Aubrey, the antiquary, addressed to Anthony k Wood ; and 
which were published from the original manuscripts in the 
Ashmolean Museum, in 1813. These little fragments are 
so quaint and characteristic of the writer^ so sensible in 
some passages and so absurd in others — so full of what may 
be called the Prose of Biography, with reference to the 
objects of historical or literary reverence, — and so encomi- 
astio with regard to others whose memories have wholly 
perished in the popular view — that I shall endeavour to 
look at them a little consecutively, as singular examples 
of what a clever man thought of his contemporaries and of 
others who were famous in his day, whether their opinions 
accord with, or are opposed to, our present estimates. 

And first of John Aubrey himself. 

Our common notion of the man used to be that he was a 
dreaming, credulous old gossip, with some literary pxeten- 
sions, and nothing more. He believed in astrolc^y, in 
omens, dreams, apparitions, voices, knockings. Is he 
without followers, even at this hour ? Anthony k Wood, 
who was under many obligations to his correspondence, 
calls him * a shiftless person, roving and maggoty-headed.* 
* Eoving,' indeed he was ; for he wandered up and down 
the land when travelling was not quite so easy as now ; 
and, according to the testimony of Qough, an antiquary 
after the sober fashion of the race, * first brought us ac- 
quainted with the earliest monuments on the face of the 
country — the remains of Druidism, and of Eoman, Saxon, 



V 



JOHN AUBREY, AND HIS EMINENT MEN. 235 

and Danish fortifications.' ^Shiftless,' too, he might be 
called. He poMsessed an estate in Kent, which was de- 
stroyed by an irruption of the sea ; ' he became involved in 
law-snits ; he made an unhappy marriage ; in a word, to 
use his own astrological solution of his misfortunes, he was i 
' bom in an evil hour, Saturn directly opposing my ascenn 
dant.' But he was not * shiftless,' in the sense of one who 
had no proper business in life. He wanted little for his 
support, and as he had rich friends his dependence was 
not very burthensome to them. He lived about in country 
houses with kind squires, with whom he * took his diet 
and sweet otiums.' What could the n^an do when his 
estates were gone, but to enjoy what he called * a happy 
deiitescency ' — the obscurity of one who was never idle 
in noting down what he saw around him, for the use of 
others, or the benefit qf those who were to come after him ? 
He had no constructive power to make a great original 
book. His age was not an age of periodicals, when his 
gossiping propensities might have shaped themselves into 
articles fit for the literaiy market. It is true that he might 
have become an almanao^maker like some of his friends ; — 
but perhaps there was a glut of the commodity. He had 
nothing for it but to lounge about in coffee-houses; and 
go to meetings of the Royal Society; and gossip with 
Mr. Evelyn and Mr. Isaac Walton; and venture to ask 
Mr. D'Avenant something about Shakspere ; and speak of 
Milton to Mr. Dryden when they met at Will's ; and cor- 
respond with Mr. Tanner, and Mr. k Wood, the famous 
antiquaries ; and study a horoscope with Mr. Dee, or Mr. 
Vincent Wing, the astrologers. If he had concentrated 
his power of picking up anecdotes, and recording sayings, 
upon more of the really eminent of his time, as he has done 
upon Hobbes and Milton, he might have left Boswell with- 
out the merit of being the first, as well as the greatest, in 
his line. Wood, according to Hecune, used to say of him — 
' Look ! yonder goes sttch a one, who can tell such and 
such stories ; and I'll warrant Mr. Aubrey will break his 
neck down stairs rather than miss him.' My venerable 




ONCE UPON A TIME. 

friend Mr. Brition, in his 'Memoir of John Aubrer,'* 
teims the notice of him hy D'Israeli, in the ' Qnairels d 
Authors/ « hasty,' for D'Israeli calls him * the little Boswdl 
of his day.' We would desire no higher compliment for 
our ' curious and talkative inquirer/ D'Israeli cerUialT 
does not mean to lower Aubrey ; for in the very XHisaige 
which suggests the • little Boswell,' Aubrey has been giving 
an account how Hobbes composed his * Leviathan/ and 
then D'Israeli terms this passage ' very curious for literary 
students/ ■ 

Aubrey was born in 1626. He lived seventy-two jean 
in the greatest period of transition in our English history. 
The despotic Buckingham ruled England when Aubrey wis 
first opening his inquisitive eyes ; — the Whig Somers wis 
Chancellor when he closed them. He lived throngh the 
Civil War, the Commonwealth, the Bestoration, the Be- 
volution. When he first heard of literature, men were 
talking of Shakspere, and Jonson, and Beaumont, and 
Fletcher; — when he prattled about his septuagenarian 
memories, Milton and Cowley were getting obsolete. The 
opinions and manners of the people were wholly changed. 
Aubrey gives a remarkable instance of this change. When 
the civil wars broke out, Hollar, the famous engraver, went 
into the Low Countries, where he stayed till about 1649. 
*I remember he told me, that when he first came into 
England, which was a serene time of peace, the people, 
both poor and rich, did look cheerfully ; but at his retom, 
he found the countenances of the people all changed — 
melancholy, spiteful as if bewitched.'f In another plaoe^ 
Aubrey writes, with that half-poetry of his nature whidi 
made him superstitious, * Before printing. Old Wives* 
Tales were ingenious ; and since printing came in fashion, 
till a little before the Civil Wars, the ordinaiy sort of 
people were not taught to read. Now-a-days, hooka axe 

♦ Mr. Britton's Memoir is a haDdsomc 4to volume, published by the Will- 
shire Topographical Society; it contains a great deal of curious matter, collect^ 
with much care. 

t Lives, p. 402, % Anecdotes and Traditions, edited by J. Thorn ; p, 102. 



JOHN AUBREY, AND HIS EMINENT MEN. 237 

oommon, and most of the poor people understand letters ; 
and the many good books, and variety of turns of affairs, 
baye pnt all the old fables out of doors. And the divine 
art of printing, and gnnpowder, have frighted away Bobin 
Good-fellow and the Fairies.' Bishop Corbet thought that 
the &irie8 went out when Protestantism came in. Accord- 
ing to Aubrey they lingered till the people became readers. 
* The variety of turns of affairs ' made them readers. The 
change was beginning when Aubrey was in his swaddling- 
clothes. One almost of the latest masques of Jonson which 
was presented before James I., * Time Vindicated,' whispers 
an echo of that turmoil whose hoarse sounds were still dis- 
tant. Two ' ragged rascals ' are thus described in the ante* 
masque: — 

' One is his printer in dis^^ise, and kee^ 
His pren in a hollow tree, where, to conceal him, 
He works bj glow-worm light, the moon's too open. 
The other zealous rag is the compositor, 
Who, in an angle where the ants inhabit, 
(The emblems of his laboun,) will sit curl'd 
Whole days and nights, and work his eyes out for him.' 

This was the age of libels — ' straws,' as Selden has it, 
•thrown up to show which way the wind blows.' The 
* press in a hollow tree ' was no mere poetical exaggeration. 
That terrible machine did its work in silence and darkness. 
It laboured like a mole. If it was sought for in the garret, 
it was in the cellar ; if it was hunted to the hovel, it found 
a hiding-place in the palace. The minds of men were in a 
state of preternatural activity. Prerogative had tampered 
with opinion, and opinion was too strong for it. The 
public mind, for the first time in England, began to want 
neics — coarse provender for opinion to chew and ruminate. 
Jonson wrote his * Staple of News,' in which we have an 
ofBce with a principal and clerks busily employed in col- 
lecting and recording news, to be circulated by letter. The 
countrywoman at the office would have 

' A groatworth of any news, I care not what. 
To carry down this Saturday to our vioar.' 



238 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

There was then, in reality, a vreekly pamphlet of news 
published under the high-sounding editorial name of Mer- 
curius Britannicus. Jonson had a right notion of "what gave 
authority to such a publication : — 

• 5?€e divers men's opinions ! unto some 
The very printing of 'em makes them news. 
That have not the heart to believe anything 
But what they see in print»' 

Jouson called the newspaper 'a weekly cheat to dnw 
money ;' and he sets about ridiculing the desire for news, 
as if it were an ephemeral taste easily put down, and people 
had a diseased appetite for news, ' made all at home, and 
no syllable of truth in them.' The people were thirsting 
for pamphlets of news because therein they found glimpses 
of truth. The age was indeed credulous : but credulity 
and curiosity are nearly allied ; and curiosity goes before 
comparison, and comparison goes before discontent, and 
discontent goes before revolt ; and so in less than twenty 
years after Jonson's * Staple of News * the country was 
plunged in civil war. 

Anthony k Wood asked Aubrey to write these * Lives,' 
seeing that he ' was fit for it, by reason of his general ac- 
quaintance ;' and, in 1680, Aubrey sends the Oxford anti- 
quary • Minutes,' which * may easily be reduced into order.' 
He says, that he undertook the task, • having now not only 
lived above half a century of years in the world, but have 
been also much tumbled up and down in it, which hath 
made me so well known. Besides the modem advanti^ 
of coffee-houses in this great city — before which men knew 
not how to be acquainted, but with their own relations or 
societies — I might add ths(t I come of a longsevous race, by 
which means I have wiped some feathers off the wings of 
time for several generations.' These lives, as we have said, 
were first printed from the Ashmolean Manuscripts in 1813. 
They had been previously examined and used by Warton ; 
and by Malone, who made a transcript of them. He also 
made some arrangement of the scattered papers. In the 
volumes of 1 8 1 3 they are given alphabetically . Our notices 



JOHN AUBREY, AND HIS EMIKENT MEN. 239 

will pretend to no system ; but will be held together by 
some slight thread of association. 

The first name that presents itself in this alphabetical 
order is that of * Sir Bobert Aifon, Knight/* How many 
have looked upon his * monumental bust,' in the south side 
of the choir of Westminster Abbey, without knowing what 
Aubrey tells us, that ' Sir Bobert was one of the best poets 
of his time.' How many would have believed Aubrey, 
before our old poetry began to be appreciated, when he 
farther records that *Mr. Jo. Dryden says he has seen 
verses of his, some of the best of that age, printed with 
some other verses ?' Look in the * Biographia Britannica/ 
and you will find no Bobert Alton. Look in any collection 
of English poetry, and you will find no Bobert Aiton. 
lliis Scot, a courtier of James I., was indeed known as the 
friend of Jonson, who told Dmmmond ' Sir Bobert Ayton 
loved him dearly^' Bums found one of Ayton's poems in 
James Watson's ' Collection of Scots Poems,' and thought 
he * improved the simplicity of the sentiments by giving 
them a Scots dress.'f It is not easy for one poet of genius 
to make an adaptation of the work of another poet. Let us 
hear forgotten Bobert Ayton : — 

* 1 do confess thou'rt smooth aad fair, 

And I might have gone near to love thee, 
Had 1 not found the slightest prayer 
That lips could speak had power to move thee. 
But i can let thee now alone, 
As worthy to be loved by none. 

' I do confess thon'rt sweet, yet find 
Thee soch an nnthrift of thy sweets, 
Thy favours are but like the wind, 
Which kisseth every thing it meets ; 

And since thon can'st love more than one 
Thou'rt worthy to be kissed by none/ 



♦ The name is more properly spelt * Ayton.' 

t See Bums' song, beginning — 

* I do onnfess then art sae fair, 

I wad been o er the lugs in love. 
Had 1 not found the sligbtesl prayer 
That lip« could speak, thy beart oonld mure.* 



240 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

But there is another poem by Buidr, whose tmlib and 
tenderness has made many a heart thrill. He said himself 
that he ' took it down from an old man's singing.' But ' all 
his editors,' says Allan Cunningham, ' have considered it to 
have been written, either wholly or partially, by Bnms.' 
Robert Ayton, whose memory might have died ont, even 
though Dryden had praised his verses, if it had not been 
for the care of * the Bannatyne Club,' and the accidental 
discovery of a MS. Collection of his Poems,'* was the writer 
of these lines : — 

* Should old aoqaaintEDce be forgot, 
And never thought upon. 
The flames of love extinguished, 

And freely post and gone ? 
Is thy kind heart now grown so cold 

In that loving breast of thine. 
That thou can'st never onoe reflect 
On old langsyne?' 

What is fame, when such verses as these we have given 
were wrapt up in mummy-cloth for two centuries ? How 
truly does Aubrey say, • What uncertainty do we find in 
printed histories ! They either treading too near ou tbe 
heels of truth that they dare not speak plain ; or else for 
want of intelligence, things being antiquated, become to- 
obscure and dark.' 

Who was Ayton, amongst Aubrey's * Eminent Men :* 
The ' obscure and dark ' has been made clear in his cafe. 
Who was Gregorie ? Our antiquary tells us he was * tht 
famous peruque-maker,' and, moreover, that he * was buriel 
at St. Clements-Danes church door.' Famous indeed hr 
was, according to this authority, for Baron Gregory, Baron 
of the Exchequer, wrote his epitaph in rhyme ; and in Cot- 
grave's French Dictionary peruques are called Gregorian? 
Who can now tell us of the fashion of Gregory's peruques 

'Printed histories* are silent. Who was Goodwj-n" 

* He was a general scholar and had a delicate wit ; vas a 
great historian and an excellent poet. He wrote, amon^ 

♦ The Poems of Sir Robert Ayton, edited hj Chailes Roger, 1844. 



JOHN AUBRST, AND HIS EMINENT MEN. 241 

r tkmgBy a Pastoral, aoted at Ludlow, about 1637, an 
daite piece.' Alas, for Goodwyn ! In 1680, Aubrey 
writes, ^ he was as fine a gentleman as any in England, 
gb now forgot^ How capricious is fame ! There voas a 
oral — a Mask, I will call it — aoted at Ludlow in 1634, 
)h. will neTor be forgot. The author of that poem had 
ie &me, too, in his life-time.* But no foreigners, I 
would see the house* and chamber where Goodwyn was 
t. Aubrey himself is somewhat a niggard of his praise 
I another truly ' fine gentleman.' Richard Lovelace, he 
us, wrote a poem called * Lucasta ;' but no word of 
gy for Lovelace. ^ He was an extraordinary handsome 
, but proud • • *. George Petty, haberdasher, in 
«>n;!miH^ Street, carried twenty shillings to him every Monday 

'"' '"'tiing ttom Sir Many, and Charles Cotton, but was 

•••^iiitt^r repaid.' Poor Lovelace ! * He died in a cellar, in 
Q^, *ig Acre,' says Aubrey. Even in a cellar, he that wrote 
chese lines must have had consolations which his persecutors 
could not feel : — 

' Stone walls do not a prison make, 

Nor iron bars a cage ; 
Minds innocent and quiet take 

That for an hermitage. 
If I have freedom in my love. 

And in my soul am free, 
Angels alone, that soar above, 

Enjoy such lil)erty.' 

The cavalier, Lovelace, sings, 

* When thirsty grief in wine we steep, 
When healths and draughts go free. 
Fishes that tipple in the deep 
Know no such liberty.* 

The republican friend of Milton, Andrew Marv'ell, according 
to Aubrey, * would never drink hard in company, and was 
wont to say, that he would not play the good-fellow in any 
man's company in whose hands he would not trust his life/ 
In the early days of the Restoration, Marvell saved Milton 

* See page 205. 



242 ONCE UPON A TIME, 

from the wrath of the Eo jalists ; but with his longing for 
a constitittionsd government he knew there was danger in 
that profligate court of ' the merry monarch,' and he clung 
for safety to the ' allaying Thames,' at least in social lile. 
But the coifee-house gossip of Aubrey, and his ' longevous' 
remembrances, are very minute about the *• follies cxf ihe 
wise,' and their secret indulgences, of which * Histx^iy ' 
very properly doubteth. Thus, he tells us that Marvell 
' kept bottles of wine at his lodging, and many times he 
would drink liberally by himself to refresh his spirits and 
exalt his muse.' The domestic tipplings which Aubrey 
records of the < eminent ' are very various, and somewhat 
amusing. Marvell drank wine to exalt his muse. Not so 
Bacon. * His Lordship would often drink a good draught 
of strong beer (March beer) to bedwards, to lay his working 
fancy asleep, which otherwise would keep him from Bleeping 
the great part of the night.' Aubrey has a * small-beo' ' 
anecdote, too, of Bacon, which I should blush to reooid if 
I had the slightest belief in it : * In his Lordship's prosperity. 
Sir Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, was his great fnend and 
acquaintance ; but when he was in disgrace and vranu he 
was so unworthy as to forbid his butler to let him have anr 
more small-beer, which he had often sent for, his stomach 
being nice, and the small-beer of Qray's Inn not liking hi{: 
palate.' Where could Aubrey have picked up this bit far 
his scandalous chronicle ? Bacon died the year Aubret 
was bom ; and Greville two years after. I dare say Aubrer 
and Drummond were both somewhat nearer the tratb, ir. 
the matter of * Canary,' when their subject was Ben Jonson. 
•He would many times exceed in drink,' says Anbrej. 
' Drink was one of the elements in which he lived,* rsyv 
Drummond. Aubrey, however, is circumstantial about thf 
influence of the element : * Canary was his beloved liquor: 
then he would tumble home to bed, and when he hiui 
thoroughly perspired, then to study.' I should have thought 
that the roystering cavalier-poet, John Cleveland, "woula 
have furnished Aubrey with some bibulous anecdotes ; bni 
he simply says, • He and Sam Butler, <fec., of Gray's Inc. 



JOHN AUBREY, AND HIS EMINENT MEN. 243 

did hold a clnb every night/ No private tosfi-potting for 
them. AVho were the et-cseteras ? Surely Kobert Herrick 
was of the number. Of him Aubrey has no record. But 
he • that kept a pet pig which he taught to drink out of a 
tankard,'* must surely have been a true clubbable man 
during the thirteen years when he was wandering in London, 
away from his dull vicarage of Dean Prior, from which he 
had been ejected. How he revels and luxuriates in his 

* Welcome to Sack !' How rapturously he invokes the great 

* Ben' to 

• Meet at these lyrick feaeta 

Made at the Sun, 

The Dog, the Triple Tun, 
Where we such clusters had 
As made us nobly wild, not mad/ 

These poets have left a Bacchanalian odour behind them. 
But there is a smack of tipsy jollity in every grade of 
society, as if in defiance of the Puritans. If Denham, who, 
according to Aubrey, ' was generally temperate in drink- 
ing,' was betrayed on one occasion, after being * merry at 
ike tavern,' into the fancy * to get a plasterer's brush and a 
pot of ink, and blot out all the signs between Temple Bar 
and Charing Cross,'-^what shall we say of Dr. Butler, a 
famous physician, who, our veritable record tells, * would 
many times go to the tavern, but drink by himself : about 
nine or ten at night old Nell comes for him with a candle 
and lanthom, and says, *< Come home, you drunken beast?" ' 
We wonder at Nell ; for drunkenness in the days of James I. 
-WBB the rule of good society. It was an awfdl time when 
Sir John Harrington writes, ' The ladies abandon their 
sobriety, and are seen to roll about in intoxication,' — and 
fsincerely laments ' that the Gunpowder fright is got out of 
all our heads, and we are going on, hereabouts, as if the 
devil was contriving every man should blow up himself by 
^wild riot, excess, and devastation of time and temperance.' 
It is no wonder that in that century, Aubrey, and every 
gossiping writer, has something to tell of good-fellowship 

♦ See Quarterly Review, vol. iy. p. 172. 

r2 



2«i4 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

that went beyond the limits of reason, — and of that degra- 
dation of the learned, the witty, and the high-born, which 
we now associate with ignorance, stupidity, and menial 
condition. A great change for the better has taken plaoe in 
our own day amongst all ranks. 

But whilst we flatter ourselves that we are marveUously 
improved with regard to the grosser vices, let us be quite 
sure that we have retained the elevation of charaoter IJbat 
in those days made men fast friends and generous enemies. 
Aubrey has plenty of anecdotes which show that in a time 
of fleiy politics and common danger Ihere were high 
qualities evolved out of the strifes of the time, and that if 
* men fell out they knew not why,' they could lay aside 
dirty revenges and life-long hatreds. George Withers got 
Denham's estate from the Parliament. Afker the Restoration 
Withers is in danger, for he had written bitter things against 
the Boyalists. ' Sir John Denham went to the King, and 
desired his Majesty not to hang him, for that whilst George 
W^ithers lived, he. Sir John, should not be the worst poet 
in England.' The kind heart is as admirable as the ready 
wit. D'Avenant held a command under the Marquis of 
Newcastle in the Civil Wars, when he had the custody of 
two aldermen of York, who were contumacious in tlie 
matter of ransom. He treated the aldermen kindly, and at 
last suiFered them to escape. When D'Avenant was in 
danger of his life from the Parliament, the aldermen made 
a journey to London, and succeeded in accomplishing his 
safety. Harrington, the republican, was a friend of 
Charles I, : * The King loved his company, only he would 
not endure to hear of a Commonwealth ; and Mr. Harrington 
passionately loved his Majesty. Mr. Harrington and the 
King often disputed about government.' Sir James Long 
was colonel of horse in a Eoyalist brigade. 'Oliver, 
Protector, hawking at Hotmslow Heath, disooursing with 
him, fell in love with his company, and commanded him to 
wear his sword, and to meet him a hawking, which made 
the strict Cavaliers look on him with an evil eye.' The 
chivalric spirit was not quite extinct. 



JOHN AUBKETy AND HIS EMINENT MEN. 245 

If the Boswell of the first coffee-houses gives ns glimpses 
of the romance of biography, he more frequently lets down 
the heroic into the common ways of common men. I shall 
continue to gaze upon the richest side of the shield, in spite 
of Aubrey. When I think of Falkland, I shall see him as 
Clarendon has painted him. Let me look at the Secretary 
of Charles as he presents himself to my view, on the night 
before the battle of Newbury. The watch-fires of two 
armies are lighted. The King has marched into Newbury 
that afternoon. The Earl of Essex has advanced from 
Hungerford, and has found the royal forces in possession) 
the town, and of the low meadows immediately adjoining. 
He takes up his position on a little hill about a mile distant. 
It is midnight. Charles is sleeping. The fiery Kupert 
dreams of exterminating the rebel trained-bands. Falkland 
can take no rest. He walks by the side of the river 
amongst the outposts. He comes before me, shaping his 
melancholy thoughts into language: — * Yes, John Hampden, 
my once friend, my beloved enemy, would I could follow 
thee to-morrow ! Three months ago thou didst ride blithely 
on a sunny morning into the field of Chalgrave, and shortly 
thou didst ride out of the field with thy head hanging duwn 
and thy hands upon the neck of thy horse. A week of 
agony, John, and then to the grave of thy fathers. When 
-we stood together, in our wordy war against exorbitances, 
we little thought it would come to this. Oh, Peace! 
Peace!' 

Shall I give up this shadow of Falkland — shall I doubt 
Clarendon, who says that he rushed into danger, ' that all 
might see that his impatiency for peace proceeded not from 
pusillanimity, or fear to adventure his own person ?* Aubrey 
calls those who took the heroic view of Falkland's death 
* superfine discoursing politicians,' and says, * I have been 
well informed, by those that best knew him, and knew 
intrigues behind the curtain, as they say, that it was the 
grief of the death of Mistress Moray, a handsome lady at 
court, who was his mistress, and whom he loved above all 
creatures, was the true cause of his being so madly guilty 



246 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

of his own death.' It may be. The private grief and tiie 
public were not incompatible. But I will not believe 
Anbrey when he depreciates those whom history lofves. I 
will not believe that Falkland * in his youth was very wild, 
and also mischievous, as being apt to stab.' I will not 
believe the story of Greville denying Bacon small-beer. I 
can believe that Ealeigh ' was damnable proud.' * I cannot 
believe of Sir Henry Saville, Provost of Eton, that be said 
' when a young scholar was recommended to him for a good 
wit — "Out upon him, 1*11 have nothing to do with him; 
give me the plodding student. If I would look to wits I 
would go to Newgate : there be the wits !" ' Some day or 
other I maybe brought to believe what Aubrey says of Mr. 
William Shakspere, — *his father was a butcher; and I 
have been told heretofore by some of the neighbours, that 
when he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but^boi 
he killed a calf he would do it in a high style, and make a 
speech.' But I will not believe that the great Harvey, 
who discovered the circulation of the blood by patient in- 
duction, said of Bacon, ' he writes philosophy like a Lord 
Chancellor.' 

Some of the modes in which Aubrey deals with the habits 
and opinions of men are very characteristic, not only of the 
writer, but of his age. Newspapers were more feared than 
admired. Sir John Birkenhead, who was the editor of one 
of the earliest newspapers, * Mercurius Aulicus,' ' ^would 
lie damnably.' A very singular editorial quality that! 
Admiral Blake, when at Oxford, * would steal swans.* We 
may think less harshly, now, of Shakspere's alleged deer- 
stealing. Of Butler, he writes, 'Satirical wits disoblige 
whom they converse with ;' and yet Butler, according to 
his estimate, was ' a good fellow.' The habits and tempers 
of the race are not altered. He tells some stories of Bishop 
Corbet — not very clerical, but funny : * After he was Doctor 
of Divinity he sang ballads at the cross at Abingdon, on a 
market-day. He and some of his camerades were at tb« 
tavern by the cross ; the ballad-singer complained be had 
no custom— he could not put oflf his ballads. The jolly 



JOHN AUBBET, AND HIS EMINENT MECf. 247 

Doctor puts off his gown and puts on the ballad-singer's 
leathern jacket, and being a handsome man, and had a rare 
fall voice, he presently vended a great many, and had a 
great audience.' We can believe this of the author of 
*The Fairies' Farewell.' There is real music in these 
lines : — 

* When Tom came home from labour, 
Or Ciss to milking rose. 
Then merrily went their tabour, 
And nimbly went their toes.' 

Aubrey has a story of Sir Miles Fleetwood, Becorder of 
London, which sounds a little apocryphal : • He was a very 
severe hai^er of highwaymen, so that the fraternity were 
resolved to make an example of his worship, which they 
executed in this manner : — They lay in wait for him not 
far from Tyburn, as he was to come from his house in 
Bucks ; had a hal^r in readiness ; brought him under the 
gallows, fastened the rope about his neck, his hands tied 
behind him and servants bound, and then left him to the 
mercy of his horse, which he called Ball. So he cried, 
** Ho, Ball! Ho. Ball!" and it pleased God that his horse 
stood still till somebody came along, which was half a 
quarter of .an hour or more.' Was the eminent example of 
the highwaymen of London known to the Porteous mob of 
Edinburgh in the next century ? Lord Chief Justice Pop- 
liam, according to Aubrey, deserved well to have been upon 
Ball instead of the active Eecorder— Ball would have been 
wiser than to have stood still with Popham. For the Chief 
Justice obtained a park and a manor to save an honourable 
murderer's life, * He for several years addicted himself but 
little to the study of the laws, but profligate company, and 
was wont to take a purse with them. His wife considered her 
and his condition, and at last -prevailed upon him to lead 
another life, and to stick to the study of the law, which, upon 
her importunity, he did, being then about thirty years old. 
He spie to his wife to provide a very good entertainment 
for his camerades to take leave of them.' Memorandum 



248 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

for a pair of historical pictures by Mr. Ward or Mr. E^ : 
The barrister at his rogues' feast ; the judge charging the 
jury for the murderer. 

Some of Aubrey's Oxford recollections-are amusing illus- 
trations of University manners. Doctor Kettle is prea<dung 
at St. Mary's. The learned fellows are bound to hear Doctor 
Kettle, but not so their lackeys, and so the Divine concludes 
a sermon thus : — ' But now I see it is time for me to shut 
up my book, for I see the Doctors' men come in wiping 
their beards, from the ale-house.' A good specimen, this, 
of a funeral-sermon, on a gentleman commoner, who died 
of the small-pox : — ' He was the finest, sweetest young 
gentleman ; it did do my heart good to see him walk along 
the quadrangle. We have an old proverb, that hungry 
dogs vTill eat dirty puddings ; but I must needs say for this 
young gentleman, that he always loved sweet things/ A 
great geometry professor was Doctor Kettle. 'As they 
were reading and circumscribing figures, said he, '* I will 
show you how to inscribe a triangle in a quadrangle. Bring 
a pig into the quadrangle, and I will set the college dc^ at 
him, and he will take the pig by the ear ; then come 1 and 
take the dog by the tail, and the hog by the tail, and so you 
have a triangle in a quadrangle."' It was unkind in 
Aubrey to tell posterity these stories of the Principal of his 
own College, for the sagacious Doctor * observed that, the 
houses that had the smallest beer had the most drunkards, 
for it forced them to go into the town to comfort their 
stomachs ; wherefore Dr. Kettle always had in his college 
excellent beer, not better to be had in Oxon.* , 

I have lingered about good old Aubrey somewhat too 
long, rather picking out some of his less familiar scraps 
than those which have been accepted in serious Biography. 
What he collected about Milton was really valuable ; and 
so of Hobbes, vrith whom he was intimate. Aubrey and 
all writers of his class, however trivial be their stories and 
quaint their remarks, have a value beyond that of the 
solemn annalists of the public deeds of past generations, who 



JOHN AUBBET, AND HIS EMINENT MEN. 249 

put down very little from their own knowledge. * We can 
retbd anywhere of the battle*field and the oonncil-chamber — 
show ns, if you can, the domoBtie interior. We are sated 
with (State apartments ; let us have a peep into the kitchen 
or the housekeeper's room.'* 

* Quarterly Review, toI. zciii. p, 403. 



260 ONCE UPON A TIME. 



THE BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR 
LITERATURE. 

SECTION L 

Thk history of Cheap Popular Literature is a long and 
instructive, chapter of the history of the condition of the 
People, Before the invention of printing there was little 
literature that could he called popular, and none that conld 
he called cheap. But in the very earliest stages of the 
press, all hooks would he comparatively cheap, and all 
literature to a certain extent popular. Our first printer, 
as we regard his works, had a most especial eye to the 
largest numher of readers. We have no record of the 
price of his hooks heyond the fact that one of them was 
sold for 6s, 8d, a price equal to that of a quarter of wheat 
But the subjects of his hooks, for the most part, show that 
he thought it his especial husiness to simplify knowledge, 
and to furnish reading for amusement. We can scarcely 
call any of his hooks learned. What there is of science in 
them was of a popular sort, and illustrated by diagrams. 
The histories were those of our old legendary chronicles, 
as attractive even as the romances of chivalry which ac-^ 
companied them. His poetry was chiefly that of one of 
the great minds whose essential attribute is that of 
universality. Caxton went to the largest number of 
readers that his age presented to him. 

It is a remarkable characteristic of the first centniy of 
printing, not only in this country, but wherever a press 
was erected, that the highest and most constant efforts 
of the new art were addressed to the diffusion of the old 
stores of knowledge, rather than to an enlaxgement of the 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE, 251 

stores. The early professors of the art on the continent, 
in Germany, Italy, and France, were scholars who knew 
the importance of securing the world's inheritance of the 
knowledge of Greece and Borne from any further destruc- 
tion, such as the scattered manuscripts of the ancient 
poets, orators, and historians had experienced, through 
neglect and ignorance. The press would put them fairly 
beyond the reach of any new waste. But after the first 
half- century of printing, when these manuscripts had been 
copied in type, and the public libraries and the princes 
and nobles of Europe had been supplied, a fresh want 
arose out of the satisfaction of the former want. Men of 
letters, who did not belong to the class of the rich, 
anxiously demanded copies , of the ancient classics ; and 
their demands were not made in vain. The Alduses, and 
Stephenses, and Flantins, did not hold it good to keep 
books dear for the advancement of letters ; they anxiously 
desired to make them cheap, and they produced, therefore, 
not expensive folios only, as their predecessors had done, 
but neat and compactly printed octavos and duodecimos, 
for the general market. The instant that they did this, 
the foundations of literature were widened and deepened. 
They probably &t first over-rated the demand ; indeed, we 
know they did so, and they suffered in consequence. But 
the time was sure to come when their labours would be 
rewarded; and, at any rate, they were at once placed 
beyond a servile dependence upon patrons. When they 
had their customers in every great city and university, 
they did not wait for the approving nod of a pope or a 
cardinal before they began to print. 

A new demand very soon followed upon the first demand 
for cheap copies of the ancient classics, and this was even 
more completely the demand of the people. The doctrines 
of the Beformation had proclaimed the Bible as the best 
spiritual guide and teacher, and the people would have 
Bibles. The first English Bible was bought up and burnt; 
those who bought the Bibles contributed capital for making 
new Bibles, and those who burnt the Bibles advertised 



262 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

them. The first printers of the Bible were, however, 
cautious ; thej did not see the number of readers upon 
which they were to rely for a sale. In 1540, Grafton 
printed but 500 copies of his complete edition of 1^ 
Scriptures; and yet, so great was the rush to this new 
supply of the most important knowledge, that we have 
existing 326 editions of the English Bible, or parts of the 
Bible, printed between 1526 and 1600. 

The early English printers did not attempt what thd 
continental ones were doing for the ancient classics. Down 
to 1540 no Greek book had appeared from an English 
press. Oxford had only printed a part of Cicero's 
Epistles; Cambridge, no ancient writer whatever: only 
three or four old Koman writers had been reprinted, at 
that period, throughout England. But a great deal was 
done for public instruction by the course which our eaiiy 
printers took ; for, as one of them says, * Divers fsanoiifi 
clerks and Jeamed men translated and made many noble 
works into our English tongue, whereby there was much 
more plenty and abundance of English used than there 
was in times past.' The English nobility were, probably, 
for more than the first half-century of English printing, 
the great encouragers of our press : they required tiunsla- 
tions and abridgements of the classics, versions of French 
and Italian romances, old chronicles, and helps to devout 
exercises. Caxton and his successors abundantly supplied 
these wants ; and the impulse to most of their exertions 
was given by the growing demand for literary amusement 
on the part of the great. Caxton, speaking of his ' Boke of 
Eneydos,' says, ' This present book is not for a rude up- 
landish man to labour therein, nor read it.' But a great 
change was working in Europe ; the * rude uplandish man/ 
if he gave promise of talent, was sent to school. The 
priests strove with the laity for the education of the people ; 
and not only in Protestant but in Catholic countries, wen* 
schools and universities everywhere founded. Hero, again, 
was a new source of employment for the press — A, B, C*s, 
or Abseys, Primers, Catechisms, Grammars, Dictionaries, 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 253 

were multiplied in every directioB. Books became, also, 
during this period, the tools of professional men. There 
were not many works of medicine, bnt a great many of law ; 
and even the people required instruction in the ordinances 
they were called upon to obey, which they received in the 
form of proclamations. 

The course of the early printers was based upon the 
principle that they could produce books cheaper by the 
press than by the scribe. This point once established, the 
next fact would be also clear — that the more impressions 
they printed the cheaper the book could be afforded* 
Beyond this great £Eict there was a difficulty. There 
would arise in their minds the same doubt which has 
puzzled all printers and booksellers from the time of 
Caxton to our times; which is at the bottom of all con* 
troversies about dear books and low-priced books at the 
present hour; and which will continue to perplex the 
producers of books, even should the entire population 
beyond infancy become readers, and have the means of 
pui'chasing books in some form or other. That question is 
simply a commercial one, and is perfectly independent of 
any schemes of public or private generosity for the en- 
lightenment of the people ; it is— Given the subject of. a 
book, its mode of treatment, the celebrity or otherwise of 
its author, its amount of matter — what is the natural limit 
of its first sale, and the necessary ratio of its published 
price ? If the probable demand be under-rated, there will 
be a high price, which will restrict the natural demand ; 
and if over-rated, there will be a low price, which will 
curtail the natural profit. This is scarcely a question for 
enthusiasts for cheapness to decide, upon the broad asser- 
tion that a large sale of low-priced books will be more 
profitable than a small sale of high-priced books. 

In 1825, Archibald Constable, then the great publisher, 
propounded to the then * Great Unknown,' his plan for 
revolutionizing *the art and traffic of bookselling.' He 
exhibited the annual schedule of assessed taxes, having 
reckoned the number of persons who paid for each separate 



254 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

article of luxttry; and from that document he oalenlated 
that, if he produced every year ' twelve vohmies so good 
that millionB must wish to have them, and so cheap that 
every butcher's callant may have them, if he please to let 
me lax him sixpence a week,' he should sell them, * not br 
thousands or tens of thousands, but by hundredB of thoQ* 
sands — ay, by millions.' It is recorded that a worthy 
divine, instructing his bookseller to publish a sermon of 
his composition, decided that at least twelve -diouflsod 
should be the number printed, he having calculated that 
one copy would be required in each parish by the clei^- 
man alone, to say nothing of chance customers. Tliese 
statistics were ingenious, but they were not safe ^ides. 
The callants did not consent to be taxed sixpence a week ; 
and the rectors and curates did not rush to St. PauFe 
Churchyard to buy up the limited impression of the sermon. 
But the Edinbui^h publisher, and the rural divine, 
were nevertheless right in their endeavour to find some 
principle upon which they could determine the probaHe 
demand for a literary work* Constable proposed to himseif 
the union of goodness and cheapness, to create a demand 
that (still using his own words) would have made him 
*• richer than the possession of all the copyrights of all the 
quartos that ever were, or will be, hot-pressed.' The good- 
ness without the cheapness might have produced little 
change in the market ; the cheapness without the goodness 
might have been more influential. But, with the tmest 
combination of these qualities, there is nothing so easy or 
so common as to over-rate a demand in the commerce of 
books. The price of a book . aspiring to the greatest 
popularity can only be settled by an estimate of the 
probable number of readers at any one time in the com- 
munity, and by a still more difficult estimate of the sort of 
reading which is likely to interest the greatest number. 
The same difficulty arises with regard to every new book. 
and has always arisen. The amount of the ^reading 
public,' with its almost endless subdivisions, arising out of 
station, or age, or average intelligence, or prevailing taste. 



BEGINNIXOS OF POPULAK LITERATURE. 255 

i& very diifficult to be estimated in our own day ; and there 
are not many authentic detaib ready to our hand upon 
which we can make an estimate for any past period. We 
will endeavour, out of theee scanty landmarks, to collect 
some fikcts relating to the former state and progressive ez« 
tension of the realms of print. 

It is no modem discovery that a book cheap enough for 
the many amongst reading people to buy, and at the same 
time a book which the many would have a strong desire to 
bay, would be more advantageous to the manufacturer of 
books than a dear book which the few only could buy, and 
which the few only would desire to buy. There is pre- 
served, in the handwriting of Christopher Barker, in 1582, 
'A Note of the offices and other special licences for 
printing granted by her Majesty, with a conjecture of 
their valuation.'* This worthy printer to the Queen 
probably a little under-rated his own gains, when he says 
that the wbole Bible requires so great a cost, that his 
predecessors kept the realm twelve years without ventur- 
ing a single edition, but that he had desperately ad- 
ventured to print four in a year and a half, expending 
about 80007., to the certain ruin of his wife and family if 
he had died in the time. Of these four editions, three 
were in folio, and one in quarto. The sale of the folios 
would necessarily be limited by the cost, in the way that 
the same unhappy patentee complains of as to his Book of 
Common Prayer, ' which few or none do buy except the 
minister.' But how stands the sale of smaller and less 
expensive books ? Mr. Daye prints the Psalms in metre, 
which book, * being ocoupied of all sorts of men, women, 
and cbildren, and requiring no great stock for the furnish- 
ing thereof is therefore gainful.' The small Catechism 
is ' also a profitable copy, for that it is general.' Mr. Seres 
prints the Morning and Evening Prayer, with the Collects 
and the Litany; and where poor Mr. Barker sells one 
Book of Common Prayer, ' he (Seres) fumisheth the whole 
parishes throughout the realm, which are commonly a 

* Archaologia, vol. xxv. page 100, &c. 



256 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

hnndred to one.' But with all his laments and jealotntes. 
Queen Elizabeth's printer, in those anti-commercial dajs. 
had hit the sound principle that is at the root of the 
commerce of books. There is one of the printers, he sap. 
whose patent contains all dictionaries in all tongues, all 
chronicles and histories whatsoever; and his position is 
thus described : — ' If he print competent numbers of each 
to maintain his charges, all England, Scotland, and much 
more, were not able to utter them ; and if he should print 
but a few of each volume, the prices would -be exceedingk 
great, and he in more danger to be undone than likely to 
gain.' Here are the Scylla and Charybdis of the book- 
trade. Let 'all good books on their first appearance 
appeal to the needy multitude,' says one adviser. Mr. 
Barker answers, ' All England, Scotland, and much more, 
were not able to utter them.' ' Let the rich and luxurious 
be first addressed,' say the old traditional believers that 
deamess and excellence are synonymous. Mr. Barker 
answers, — ' Print but a few of each volume, at exceedingly 
high prices, and there is more danger of ruin than gain.' 

The Note of Christopher Barker to Lord Burghley is an 
answer to a complaint that had been made in 1 582, that 
the privileges granted to members of the Stationers' Com- 
pany * will be the overthrow of the printers and stationer: 
within this city, being in number one hundred and seventy- j 
five, and thereby the excessive prices of books prejudiciaW* 
to the state of the whole realm.' In the absence of 9iif 
knowledge of the numbers printed of a book, and of iti 
consequent price, at the time of this complaint against \l$ 
monopolists of chai^ng * excessive prices,' it may enaW* 
us to form some estimate of the character of the book^ 
issued in 1582, and thence of the quality of the readeJ 
of books, if we glance at two other sources of information 
— Ames and Herbert's •Typographical Antiquities,' aci 
Mr. Collier's * Extracts from the Begisters of the Stationer'^ 
Company.* The latter is especially valuable, as showinc' 
what was doing in the most popular literature — the litem* 
ture of ballads and broadsides, of marvellous ' adveatv^ 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 257 

and merry tales — which matters Ames and Herbert rejected 
in a great degree. 

lu the twenty-fifth year of Queen Elizabeth then, wo 
learn that the printers of London had a good deal of work 
to do, in the production of Bibles, Testaments, and Prayer- 
books — of A B C's, Primers, and Catechisms ; of divinity, 
chiefly controversial; of almanacs and prognostications; 
of Latin books for grammarnschools; of grammars and 
dictionaries; of statutes and law-books. This was tho 
staple work of the press, which had been going on from 
the beginning of the century, and constantly increasing. 
We learn from the ' Privy-purse Accounts of Elizabeth of 
York,' that, in 1605, twenty pence were paid for a Primer 
and a Psalter. This sum was equal to a week's wages of u 
labourer in husbandry. The Primer and the Psalter were 
scarcely for the labourer. In 1516 * Fitzherbert's Grand 
Abridgment,' then first published, cost the lawyei- forty 
shillings — a price equal to the expense o^ a week's commons 
for all the students of Fitzherbert's inn. No doubt a 
century of printing in England had greatly lowered tho 
price of all books that were essential instruments in the 
learned professions, or for the conduct of school education. 
But in the reign of Elizabeth the class of general readers 
]^ arisen; a class far more extensive than that of the 
clerks and noble gentlemen to whom our first printers 
addressed their translations of the classics, their Frencli 
and Italian romances, their *Gesta Bomanorum,' their 
old chronicles, and their early poetiy. It was a time of 
travel and adventure. In this year, 1582, we find printed 
' Discovery and Conquest of the East Indies,' ' Discovery 
md Conquest of the Provinces of Peru, and also of the rich 
nines of Potosi,' * Divers Voyages touching the Discovery 
)f America ' (Hakluyt), * Acts and Gests of the Spaniards 
n the West Indies/ * State of Flanders and Portugal* * A 
Discourse in commendation of Sir Francis Drake ' had 
appeared in 1581. Frobisher had received his poetical 
Welcome Home,' by Churchyard, in 1 579. Of historical 
works, we have none printed in 1582, with the exceptiou 

8 



258 ONCK UPON A TIME. 

of ' The Life, Acts, and Death of the most noble, -vipit, 
and renowned Prince Arthur,' which the readers ^^^ 
classes would receive with undoubting mind as ail au- 
thentic record. But solid books of history had ven* 
recently been produced. Holinshed had published bi« 
* Chronicles ;' Guiociardini had been translated by Jefiiej 
Fenton, and Herodotus by B. R. 

The rude historical drama was then just ari^ng tu 
familiarise the people with their country's annals. In ten 
more years the press would teem with play-books ; for \h 
triumphant era was approaching of those whom, in 1579, 
Stephen Oosson denounced to uttermost perdition in his 
' Pleasant invective against poets, pipers, jesters, and sncb- 
like caterpillars of a commonwealth.' That species uf 
popular literature is almost absent from the Begisters d 
1582 ; but the materials upon which much of the romantui 
di'ama is founded were familiar to the readers of thi» 
period. Who were the readers, we may judge from tk 
titles of some of these novels. One will indicate a duGS :- 
' The Wonderful Adventures of Simonides, gathered as 
well for the instruction of our noble young gentlemen u 
our honourable courtly ladies.' The translators and writei^ 
of these romances seem to have had no notion of a class u 
readers beyond the circle of the rich and the high-bom 
Sidney's * Arcadia ' is called * The Countess of Pembroke's 
Arcadia ;' and in his Dedication to ' My dear Lady anc 
Sister,' he says, * It is done only for you, and to you ; * * * 
for indeed for severer eyes it is not, being but a trifle, atti 
that triflingly handled.' A few years after came Bobei^ 
Greene, and other writers of imagination, who wereequallj 
starved in writing plays for the stage-managers and storia 
for the stationers. Greene's • Pandosto,* afterwards called 
' Dorastus and Fawnia,' is a small quarto of fifty-six pagi'i 
in which Shakspere found the story of ' The Winter's Talf. 
The author describes this novelet as * pleasant for age w 
avoid dreary thoughts; profitable for youth to eache* 
other wanton pastimes; and bringing to both a deajre^ 
content' He dedicates it * To the Gentlemen Besdei& 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 269 

Health ;' and to these * Gentlemen ' he says, * If any con- 
demn my rashness for troubling your ears with so many 
vnleamed pamphlets, I will straight shroud myself under 
the shadow of your courtesies.' The scholar was address- 
ing the ' gentlemen ' of the Inns of Court and of the Uni- 
versities. He was looking to a ruder class of readers 
when, in 1591, he published *A Notable Discovery of 
Cosenage,' having himself, as he confesses, kept villainous 
company. This tract he addresses * To the young Gentle- 
men, Merchants, Apprentices, Farmers, and plain Country- 
men.' Here is a great extension of the reading public : 
but we have some doubts if Greene's tract ever reached 
•Farmers and plain Countrymen.' The question arises, 
how were books to be circulated in the provinces? It 
was more than a centurj' later before some of the largest 
towns, such as Birmingham, had their booksellers, llie 
pedleni who kept the fairs and markets were the book- 
Bellers of the early days of the press. The last new 
pamphlet travelled into the country in the same pack with 
the last new ruff ; it travelled many miles, and found few 
buyers. And yet for some popular books the demand was 
not contemptible. Sir Thomas Challoner translated ' The 
Praise of Folly,' of Erasmus, which was published in 1677 ; 
sind the Stationers' Company stipulated with the publisher 
that he should print ' not above 1 500 of any impression,^ 
md that '«ny of the Company may lay on with him, 
reasonably, at every impression.' Mr. Collier, who gives 
his curious extract from ' the Stationers' Registers,' thinks 
hat this meant ' sharing the profits.' It meant that whilst 
he sheets were at press any member of the Company 
night print off a reasonable number for his own sale. To 
lay on ' is still a technical term in printing. Challoner's 
Erasmus was an amusing book for the scholar, and had, 
io doubt, a special sale amongst teachers and students, 
fillip Stubbes, in his ' Anatomy of Abuses,' first published 
n 1 583, bitterly complains that ' pamphlets of toys and 
)abblerie8 corrupt men's minds and pervert good wits;*' 
md he especially laments that such books, being ' better 

s2 



260 ONCE UrON A TIMB. 

esteemed and more vendible than the godliest and 
books that be,' have caused * that worthy Book of Mawjrs, 
made by that famous father and excellent instnunest in 
God his Church, Master John Foxe, so little to be accepted.' 
We might have concluded that, even in those dap uf 
limited bookselling, the great popular book of the ' Act^ 
and Monuments ' would have had an universal sale, ^^ 
its wonderful woodcuts and its deep interest for the bulk of 
the people. But when its excitement was simply historical, 
two centuries afterwards, the same book would be found 
in many a peasant's cottage, for the sole reason tliat it 
might be purchased in small portions by a periodical out- 
lay. Whilst the wares of worthy John Fox were deepiug 
in the bookseller's warehouse, the people Were buying 
their ' Almanacs and Prognostications,' which Christopher 
Barker, speaking of their patentee, calls ' a pretty cc>ib- 
modity towards an honest man's living.' They were buy- 
ing, in this year of 1582, ' The Dial of Destiny,' an astro- 
logical treatise ; ' The Examination and Confession t^ 
Witches;' *The Execution of Edmund Campion, tiit 
Jesuit ;' * The Interpretation of Dreams ;' * A Treatise ^i 
the rare and strange Wonders seen in the Air.' Tber 
were buying ' A Ballad of the Lamentation of a modeit 
Maiden being deceitfully forsaken;' 'A Ballad entitle! 
* Now we go, or the l?api8ts' new overthrow ;' * Tl* 
picture of two pernicious Varlets, called Prig; Picktliani 
and Clem Clawback ;' * A Ballad entitled a doleful Diny. 
declaring the unfortunate hap of two faithful friends, tL% 
one went out of her wits and the other for sorrow died 
They were buying story-books in prose and rhyme.- 
accounts of murders and treasons, of fires and e&nb* 
quakes, — and songs, * old and plain.' The Court had it* 
*• Euphucs, very pleasant for all gentlemen to read ;' &t^ 
the City its mirror of Court manners, entitled *How . 
young gentleman may behave himself in all companies,* 

If we look very broadly at the character of the popnli-' 
literature of the middle period of the reign of Elizabeti 
and compare it with the popular literature of our vv: 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 261 

day, we shall find that the differences are more in 
degree than in kind. We have purposely selected the 
period before the uprising of onr great dramatic litera- 
ture, which must hare had a prodigious effect upon 
the intellectual condition of the people. There was a 
great deal of training going forward in the gi-amraar- 
fichools for the sons of tradesmen, and of the more opulent 
cultivators; but the rudiments of knowledge were not 
accessible to the labourers in rural districts, and the in- 
ferior handicraftsmen. There was, probably, no great 
distinction in the acquirements of the gentry and the 
burgesses. Some read with a real desire for information ; 
some for mere amusement. Newspapers were not as yet. 
In the country-house, where reading was an occupation, 
there was HaU*s * Chronicle,' and Stow's * Chronicle/ and, 
may be, his rival, Grafton's ; there was Painter's * Palace of 
Pleasure,* Tusser's 'Five Hundred Points of good Hus- 
bandry,' and, though Philip Stubbes denies its popularity, 
Fox's • Book of Martyrs.' Chaucer and Gower had become 
obsolete in the courtly circles ; but Surrey, and Sackville, 
and Gascoigne were dozed over after the noontide dinner. 
The peers and commoners who came to Court and Parlia** 
ment bought the new Travels and Discoveries, and carried 
them into the country, for the solace of many a long winter 
evening's curiosity about *antres vast and deserts idle.' 
The Greek and Boman classics were becoming somewhat 
popularly known through translations. But it is tolerably 
clear that much of the light reading, and most of the 
cheapest books, were rubbish spun over and over again 
out of the novels of Bandello, and Boccaccio, and Boisteau, 
and losing their original elegance in hasty and imperfect 
translations. The taste for such reading received its best 
counteraction when the stage became a noble instrument 
of popular instruction ; and when those who did not 
frequent the theatres had a wondrous store of exciting 
fiction opened to them by a few plays of Shakspere and 
many more of his contemporaries. It was in vain that 
puritanism, such as that of Prynne, denounced * the ordi- 



£62 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

nary reading of Comedies, Tragedies, Arcadias, AmoTOiB 
Histories, Poets,' as unlawful. They held their empire 
till civil war came to put an end to most home-stadies, 
except that of party and polemical pamphlets. But even 
in the tempestuous times that preceded the great ont 
break, Sir Henry Wotton, quoting the saying of a French 
man, laments that ' his country was much the worse hr old 
men studying the venom of policy, and young men reading 
the dregs of fancy.' 



SECTION II. 

In a condition of society which may be characterised as 
that of a very imperfect civilisation — when communicatii-o 
is difficult, and in some cases impossible ; when the inflc 
ence of the capital upon the provinces is very partial and 
uncertain ; when knowledge is for the most part confiueu 
to the learned professions — we must regard the rich njii>er 
classes precisely in the same relation to popular literatim 
as we now regard the poor lower classes. We must \k^ 
them as essentially uncritical and unrefined, swallowiiii 
the coarsest intellectual food with greediness, looking 
chiefly to excitement and amusement in books, and not 
very willingly elevating themselves to mental improTe- 
raent as a great duty. When Ben Jonson speaks of the 

* prerogative the vulgar have to lose their judgments, aii«i 
like that which is naught '—when he derides the taste rt 

* the beast the multitude * — he also takes care to tell us tbt 
his description of those who • think rude things greater than 
polished,' not only applied to * the sordid multitude, but t' 
the neater sort of our gallants : for all are the multitude ; onl} 
they differ in clothes, not* in judgment or understanding/* 
About the time when Jonson wrote thus — more calmU 
than when he denounced ' the loathed stage, and the morp 
loathsome age' — Burton was exhibiting the intellectual 
condition of the gentry in his * Anatomy of Melancholj :' 

• DiscoTerie?. 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 263 

— * I am not ignorant how barbarously and basely for tb<' i 

most part onr ruder gentry esteem of libraries and books ; 
how tbe^ negleotand contemn so great a treasure, so inesti- 
mable a benefit, as JEsop's cock did the jewel he found in 
the dunghill ; and all through error, ignorance, and want 
of education/ Again, he says, * If they read a book at any 
time, 'tis an English chronicle, St. Huon of Bordeaux, 
Amadis de (3aul, &c., a play-book, or some pamphlet of 
news ; and that at such seasons only when they cannot ^ 
stir abroad.' The * pamphlet of news ' was a prodigious 
ingredient in the queer cauldron of popular literature for 
the next half -century. Every one has heard of the thirty 
thousand tracts in the British Museum, forming two 
thousand yolumes, all published between 1640 and 1660. 
The impression of many of these was probably very small ; 
for Eushwortli, to whom they became authorities, tells us 
that King Charles 1. gave ten pounds for the liberty to 
read one at the owner's house in St Paul's Churchyard. 
This was the twenty years' work of Milton's * pens and 
heads, sitting by their studious lamps, musing, searching, 
revolving new notions and ideas.' Others were, * as fast 
reading, trying all things.' Milton asks, * What could a 
man require more from a nation so pliant and so prone to 
seek after knowledge?' He truly answers: *Wise and 
faithful labourers, to make a knowiug people, a nation of 
prophets, sages, and worthies.'* The ' wise and &ithful 
labourers ' were scarcely to be foimd in the civil and eccle- 
siastical violence of these partisan writers. But they were 
the pioneens of constitutional liberty ; and till that fabric 
was built up, literature, properly so called, would offer few 
things great or enduring. The demand for books in that 
stormy period was, doubtless, very limited. The belief that 
the Euca»v Ba^iXcjc^ was written by Charles I. would natu- 
rally account for the sale of fifty editions in one yean 
But from 1623 to 1664 only two editions of Shakspere 
wore sold ; and when the Bestoration came, an act of 

* Areopagitica. 



264 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Parliament was passed that only twenty printers should 
practise their art in the kingdom. The fact, as recorded 
by Evelyn, that at the fire of London, in 1666, the book- 
sellers who carried on their business in the neighbouihood 
of St. Paul's lost as many books, in quires, as were woitli 
200,000/., is rather a proof of a slow demand than of the 
enormous extent of bookselling. In the vaults of Saint 
Faith's were rotting many a copy of what the world h« 
agreed to call * heavy ' books ; books in advance of their 
time ; books that no price would have made largely saleable 
— the books for the few. 

The terrible quarter of a century that had pi-eceded the 
Restoration, and the new tastes which the return of the 
Stuarts brought to England, wotild seem to have swep 
away even the remembrances of the popular literature of 
Elizabeth and James. Edward Phillips, the nephew cf 
Milton, has a remarkable passive with reference to the 
poets : ' As for the antiquated and fallen into obscurity from 
their former credit and reputation, they are for the most 
part those who have written beyond the verge of the 
present age ; for let us look back as far as about thirty o: 
forty years, and we shall find a profound silence of the 
poets beyond that time, except of some few dramatics, of 
whose real worth the interest of the now flourishing stage 
cannot but be sensible.'* This was written in 1674. 
What had the people to read who had forgotten Spenser, 
and Daniel, and Drayton, and Herbert ; who knew little oi 
Shakspere, except in the translations of D'Avenant and 
Dryden ; and who, unquestionably, had small relish for th^ 
popular prose of another age, such as Bacon's *EBsavair' 
They had rhyming tragedies ; they had obscene comedies . 
they had their Sedleys and Eochesters. It is not wonder 
fnl that the popular taste soon grew corrupted. Pep}? 
says (1666), * To Deptford by water, reading Othelk 
Moor of Venice, which I ever heretofore esteemed a tnighn 
good play; but having so lately read The Adventures c: 

• Thestmm Poetanira, Preface, 



BEGINKINOS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 265 

Five Hours, it seems a mean thing.* Their * light reading * 
was a marvel — ^that romance literature which at one time 
was as popular in its degree 4m the shilling novel of our 
own day. We have before us Mr. Samuel Speed's 
Catalogue of Books, printed for him in 1670. The first is 
* Pharamond, the famed Romance, written by the author of 
those other two eminent volumes, Cassandra and Cleopatra.' 
These famed and eminent volumes are large folios, trans* 
lated from the French of M. de la Calprenede. If Calpre- 
nede was the Dumas, Madeleine Scudery was the Eugene 
Sue of those days. No popularity that these modems have 
obtained by their feuiUetons could have exceeded the ex- 
citement produced here, as well as in France, by the 
wonderful folios of their predecessors. ' Artamenes ' and 
'Clelia,' to say nothing of ^Almahide' and *The Illus- 
trious Bassa,' were in every mansion of the ladies of 
quality. The matron and her daughters sat at their 
embroidery while the companion read aloud^ night after 
night, a page or two of these interminable adventures, in 
which Greeks and Romans talked the language of the 
Grand Monarque ; and the intrigues of the court, and the 
characters of its personages, were mysteriously shadowed 
forth in what were called ' Portraits^ What signified that 
they were stupid ? They were as level to the compre- 
hension of their high-bom readers as the penny novels of 
the present day are to the intelligence of the factory-girl. 
They had a long popularity, and were reprinted again and 
again, in their eight or ten volumes, when the age of 
duodecimos had arrived. They had been fftshionable, and 
that was enough. Character they had none, and very little 
of human passions. They were constructed upon the ad- 
mirable recipe of Moliere in the * Pr^oieuses Ridicules ' — a 
lover without feeling ; a mistress without preference ; 
mutual insensibility ; sedulous attention to forms ; a decla- 
ration in a garden ; the banishment of the lover by the 
coquetting fair ; perseverance ; timid confessions ; rivals ; 
persecutions of fathers; jealousies conceived under false 
appefurances ; laments ; despairs ; abductions ; and all 



266 ONXE UPON A TIME. 

that Mammas thought the j were wisely instmcting their 
daughters, when thej permitted Mademoiselle Scadery to 
teach them ' des regies dont, en bonne galanterie, on ne 
sanrait se dispenser.' In Tain Moliere, and Boileao, and 
Scarron laughed at the great heroio romances. They held 
their own till Le Sage in France, and Defoe and Fielding 
in England, spoke the language of real life. They show 
us how long the great and little Tolgar will feed npon 
hnsks, till some real fruit is offered to them. But it is 
remarkable how^ in the same age, works of real genius and 
works of intense dulness will run side by side. .. It maj 
be a question how far ' Don Quixote ' drove out the 
romances of chivalry. * Tartufe/ and * Le Malade Ima- 
ginaire ' were of the same era as that of the wonderM 
productions in which Gyrus was talking gdlanterk to 
Mandane through a thousand folio pages. When Pepjs 
thought 'Othello' a mean thing compared with 'The 
Adventures of Five Hours,' he also bought *Hndibni&, 
both parts, the book now in greatest fashion for droUeiy ;' 
but he tells us, his honest mind when he says, ' I cannot, 1 
confess, see enough where 'the wit lies.' Voltaire had a 
different standard of taste when he wrote, *I never met 
with so much wit in one single book as in this.* The 
politics of * Hudibras * made it ^ in greatest fashion ;' the 
wit shot over the heads of the idle, dissipated, slavish, 
and corrupt courtiers who gave it their patronage^ but 
eventually left its author to starve. Butler became popular 
in another generation; and so did Milton. The first 
edition of 'Paradise Lost' sufficed for a circulation of 
seven years. - 

The earliest Catalogue of Books published in this 
country contains a list pf ' all the books printed in England 
since the dreadful fire, 1666, to the end of Trinity term, 
1680.' The statistical results of this catalogue of the pro- 
ductions of the press for fourteen years have been ascer- 
tained by us. The whole number of books printed wa5 
3660; of which 947 were divinity, 420 law, and 153 
physio; 397 were school-books, and 253 on subjects of 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 



267 



geography and naTigation, including maps. About onei> 
half of these books were single sermons and tracts. 
Deducting the reprints, pamphlets, single sermons, and 
maps, we have estimated that, upon an average, 100 new 
books were produced in each year. 

About the time when this catalogue was published, John 
Dunton, one of the most eccentric, and perhaps therefore 
amusing, of the publishing race, went into business with 
half a shop. He can tell us something of the manufacture 
of some of these books of the London catalogue. He says, 




1 nntoti. 



* Printing was now uppermost in my thoughts ; and 
hackney authors began to ply me with specimens as 
earnestly, and with as much passion and concern, as the 
watermen do passengers with oars and scullers.* He adds, 

* As for their honesty, 'tis very remarkable. They'll either 
persuade you to go upon another man*8 copy, to steal his 
thonght, or to abridge his books which should have got 
him bread for his lifetime.'* There were varieties of this 

* Duntoo'i « Life and Enron,' ed. 1705, p. 70. 



268 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

class : — * Mr. Bradshaw was the best accomplislied hackney 
author I have met with ; his genins was qnit« above tbe 
conimon size, and his style was incomparably fine.' Dim- 
ton had a suspicion that Bradshaw wrote ' The Turkish 
Spy/ which might justify somewhat of his eulogimn. 
Roger North says that *the demi-booksellers,' who deal 
in ' the fresh scum of the press,' are such as ' crack their 
brains to find out selling subjects, and keep hirelings in 
garrets, at hard meat, to write and correct by tlie great ; 
and so puff up an octavo to a sufficient thickness, and there 
is six shillings current for an hour and a half's reading, 
and perhaps never to be read or looked upon after/ The 
people get these wares cheaper now. The publishers of 
that day, and long afterwards, were not very nice as to the 
uniform excellence of the books they issued. Duntcm 
informs us that Mr. William Rogers, who was the publidier 
of Sherlock and Tillotson, was concerned in publishing 
* some Dying Speeches.* They had books for all tastes. 
and carried their goods to many markets. They were 
equally at home in Cheapside or at Stourbridge fair ; anti 
the great Bernard Lintot exhibited his 'rubric posts' in 
his shop, and kept a booth on the Thames when it yn% 
frozen over. Some, according to Dunton, were 'pirates 
and cormorants / others, who had ' the intimate acquaint- 
ance of several excellent pens, could never want copies.* 
Some were good at * projection ' — the devisers of * selling 
subjects ; ' and the talent of some * lies at collection.' 
which Dunton exemplifies by Mr. Crouch, who • melted 
down the best of our English histories into twelvepenny 
books, which are filled with wonders, rarities, and curio- 
sities.' One, who * printed The Flying Post, did often fill 
it with stolen copies/ whilst Jacob Tonson, who paid 
Dry den like a safe tradesman as he was, and made him 
presents of melons and sherry, is very indignant that thr 
great poet charged him fifty guineas for fourteen hundre^i 
and forty-six lines, when he expected to have had fifteen 
hundred and eighteen lines for forty guineas. Peace t*"* 
their manes ! They were all doing something towaids tht 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 



269 



supply of that great want which was beg^ning to assert 
itself somewhat extensive!}' in their day. They were, for 
the most part, rugged dealers in wares intellectual. They 
had many modes of turning a penny beyond the profits 
which they derived, as publishers, from * the great genius,' 
or * the eminent hand,' which each patronised. They had 
some difficulties in their way as manufacturers ; although 
the more cautious and lucky did make fortunes. The 
more limited the public, the more uncertain the demand* 
They were pretty safe with their tracts, and their abridg- 




Tonwm. 

ments, and their new comedies; but when they had to 
deal with works of learning, which were necessaiily costly, 
they and their authors — for the authors had often to 
sustain the charges of printing — encountered serious 
losses. We sliall see how, as the commerce of books 
extended, new measures were adopted to lessen, if not to 
remove, the risk. 



270 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Amongst the 'Calamities of Authors' there are manr 
touching records of 

* Solitude, pain of heait, distress, and poverty,' 

produced by printing books that met with no ready sale. 
Purchaa was ruined by his * Pilgrimes ;' Castell by his 
'Lexicon Heptaglotton ;' Ockley by his 'History of the 
Saracens ;' Rush worth by his * Historical Collectionfl.* 
Bishop Kennett gave away his ' Register and C?hrcniicle/ 
saying, 'The volume, too large, brings me no profit' 
The remedy was to be found in publishing by subscrip 
tion. This plan, like most other human things, was 
subject to abuse ; but it was founded upon a true estimate 
of the peculiar risks of publishing. It is manifest that, if 
a certain number of persons unite in agreement to purchase 
a book which is about to be printed, the author may be at 
ease with regard to the issue of the enterprise, and the 
subscribers ought to receive what they want at a lower 
cost than when risk enters into price. For more than half 
a century nearly all the great books were published hv 
subscription ; and the highest in literature felt no degrada- 
tion in canvassing themselves with their 'subscription 
receipts.* It is easy to perceive, by the subscription 
prices, when the work was set on foot by an author, or 
his friends, simply as a more convenient mode of obtaining 
or bestowing money than begging or borrowing; and 
when there was a real market value given for t^e com- 
modity offered. The scheme of levying contributions upon 
subscribers was as old as the days of Taylor, the Water- 
Poet. He published his *Pennilesse Pilgrimage' in thb 
fashion : and it seems that he sometimes gave his books to 
those who were unwilling to return his honorarium. He 
consoles himself by a lampoon against his false sub- 
scribers : — 

* They took a book worth twelvepence, and were bound 
To give a crowD, an angel, or a pound ; 
A noble, piece, or half-piece, what they list, — 
They past their words, or freely set their fist/ 



BEGINNINQS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 271 

Honest John had sixteen hundred and fifty such sub- 
scribers ; but of these, seven hundred and fifty were ' bad 
debtors.'* In the next century, Myles Davies has the 
same story to tell of the degradation of the literary beg- 
ging-letter writer. He leaves his books at the great man*s 
door ; he writes letter upon letter, * with fresh odes upon 
his graceship, and an account where I lived, and what 
noblemen had accepted of my present.' He walks before 
the ' parlour- window,' and * advances to address his grace 
to remember the poor author.' At last his parcel of books 
is returned to him unopened, ' vrith half-a-guinea upon top 
of the cargo,' and 'with desire to receive no more.' 
Heaven, in its mercy, has relieved the tribe from these 
heartbreaking disgraces. There may be *the fear that 
kilJs/ but there is no longer the patron who starves. 
Goldsmith has described the devices and the abasement of 
the little man in the coffee-house, who ' drew out a bundle 
of proposals, begging me to subscribe to a new edition he 
was going to give the world of Fropertius, with notes.' 
His plans were more ingenious and diversified than those 
of Myles Davies : * I first besiege their hearts vnth flattery, 
and then pour in my proposals at the breach. If they 
subscribe readily the first time, I renew my request to beg 
a dedication fee. If they let me have that, I smite them 
once more for engraving their coat-of-arms at the top.' 
Forty years after Myles Davies, Samuel Johnson was 
enduring the anxieties attendant upon the subscription 
plan, although friends stood between the author and the 
customer. He writes to Bumey in 1758^ * I have likewise 
enclosed twelve receipts (for Shakspere) ; not that I mean 
to impose upon you the trouble of pushing them with more 
importunity thim may seem proper,' &c. Long was the 
subscribed Shakspere delayed; and the proud struggHng 
man had to bear Churchill's malignity, as well as the re- 
proaches of his own sense of honour : — 

* He for subscribers baits bis hook. 
And takes your cash ; but where's the book ?* 

♦ ' A Kicksey Winsey.' 



272 ONCE UPON A Tmifi. 

Well might Johnson write, in more prosperous times, *He 
that asks subscription soon finds that he has enemies. All 
who do not encourage him, defame him.' Johnson and his 
publishers set no price upon their books, as a gratuity to 
the author, beyond their common market -value. But 
great men had gone before them, who regulated their sub- 
scription-prices by a higher estimate of the value of their 
works. Steele had received a guinea an octavo volume for 
the republication of *• The Tatler ;' Pope had siz guineas 
for his six quarto volumes of * The Iliad ;' — * a sum,* feays 
Johnson, 'according to the value of money at that time, 
by no means inconsiderable.'. The subscription to Pope's 
' Shakspeare ' was also six guineas for six volumes. John- 
son's projected translation of Paul Seorpi's ' History of the 
Council of Trent' was only to be charged twopence a 
sheet. That seems to have been the ordinary price of sub- 
scription books during the first half of tlie eighteenth 
century. Du Halde's 'China,' which appears to have 
required a great deal of what ' the trade ' call * pushing/ 
was advertised by Cave at three-halfpence a sheet ; besides 
the attraction of a complicated, lottery-scheme, with mar- 
vellous prizes. When the subscribers to a new book were 
served, the remaining copies were sold, generally at supe- 
rior rates. Sometimes, in the case of high-priced works, 
the unsold copies lay quiet through the mildew of a quarter 
of a century in the bookseller's warehouse. At Tonson's 
sale, in 1767, Pope's six-guinea Shakspeare had fallen to 
sixteen shillings for the hundred and forty copies then sold 
as a ' remainder.' * Many of the subscription books were 
remarkably profitable. The gains of Pope upon his *• Iliad ' 
are minutely recorded in his Life by Johnson. Lintot 
paid the expense of the subscription copies, and gave ihe 
poet two hundred pounds a volume in addition. Lintot 
looked for his remuneration to an edition in folio. The 
project was knocked on the head by a reprint in Holland, 
in duodecimo ; which edition was clandestinely imported, 

* * Gentleman's Magazine/ vol. Ivii., quoted in Nicholls* * Literwr Au-c- 
dotes/ vol. V. p. 597. 



BEG1NKIN08 OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 273 

as in the recent days of French editions of Byron and 
Scott. Lintot took a wise oourse. He went at once to 
the general public with editions in dnodecimo, at half-a- 
crown a volume, of which he very soon sold seven thousand 
five hundred copies. But it may well be doubted if Pope 
would have made five thousand three hundred pounds, if 
he had originally gone, without the quarto subscription 
process, to the buyers of duodecimos. Perhaps even the 
duodecimos would not have sold extensively without the 
reputation of the quartos. There was no great reading 
public to make a fortune for the poet out of small profits 
upon large sales. Some may think that Pope would have 
been as illustrious without the ease which this fortune 
gave him. It may be so. But of one thing we are clear — 
that in every age the higher rewards of authorship, reaped 
by one eminent individual, are benefits to the great body 
of authors ; and thus that the villa at Twickenham had a 
certain influence in making what the world called * Grub- 
street' less despicable and more thriving. It dissociated 
authorship from garrets. Yet it is marvellous, even now, 
how some of the race of attorneys and stockbrokers turn 
up their eyes when they hear of a successful writer keep- 
ing a brougham, and lament, over their claret, that such 
men will be improvident. 

In those days of subscription books there were great con- 
trasts of success and loss ; of steady support and capricious 
neglect. Conyers Middleton made a little fortune by his 
* Life of Cicero,' in two volumes quarto, published in 1741. 
His suspected heterodoxy was no bar to his success. Carte, 
in 1747, printed three thousand copies of the first volume 
of his * General History of England,* for which he had ade- 
quate support. In that unlucky volume his Jacobitism 
peeped out, in a relation of an astonishing cure for the 
king*s-evil, produced by the touch of the first Pretender, 
who, he says, 'had not at that time been crowned or 
anointed.' Away went the * remainder ' of the three thou- 
sand volumes to the trunk-maker, and of the subsequent 
volumes only seven hundred and fifty were printed. 

T 



274 ONCE UPON A TIME, 

Whether by subscription, or by the mode of fixing a pub- 
lished pnce for a general sale, — which, in the second half 
of the century, was superseding the attempt to ascertain the 
number of purchasers before publication, — there was always 
a great amount of caprice, or prejudice, in the unripe public 
judgment of a book, which rendered its fate very hazardous 
and uncertain. Hume, in 1754, published the firat Tolximc 
of his * History of England.* He says, * Mr. Millar told me 
that in a twelvemonth he sold only forty-five copies of it.* 
Gibbon published the first volume of his * Decline and Fall 
of the lioman Empire * in 1 776 ; ' I am at a loss,' he modestlj 
tells us, * how to describe the success of the work without 
betraying the vanity of the writer. The first impression 
was exhausted in a few days ; a second and third edition 
were scarcely adequate to the demand ; and the booksellers 
property was twice invaded by the pirates of Dublin/ 
Thomson's * Seasons ' was lying as waste paper in tlie pnb- 
lisher's shop, when one Mr. Whatley purchased a copj; 
and his authority in the coffee-houses brought it into notice. 
Collins was not so fortunjite. His * Odes ' would not selL 
He repaid the bookseller the price he had received for the 
copyright, settled for the printing, and burnt the greater 
part of the impression. 

We have put together some of these scattei-ed iBcts, to 
show how difficult was the publication of books before a 
great general public had been raised up to read and pur- 
chase, and how the risk of expensive works vras sought to 
be lessened by taking hostages against evil fortune. The 
subdivision of Urge books into weekly or monthly numbex^ 
was one of the expedients that was early resorted to for 
attracting purchasers. Some curious relations of the first 
days of number-publishing are given in a rare pamphlet by 
the Eev, Tliomas Stackhouse, the author of the well-known 
• History of the Bible.' In 1732 two booksellers, Mr. Gil- 
ford and Mr. Edlin, ' when the success of some certain things 
published weekly set every little bookseller's wits to v^ork,' 
proposed to this poor curate of Finchley *to write some- 
thing which might be published weekly, but what it was 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 275 

they knew not' At the Castle Tavern» in Paternoster Row, 
the trio deliberated npon the ' something * that was to have 
a run. Edlin was for a ' Boman History, brushing up OzelVa 
dull style, when the old thing would still do in a weekly 
manner.' Wilford was for * Family Directors.' Stackhouse 
proposed the * New History of the Bible.' Wilford backed 
out ; Edlin and Stackhouse quarrelled. The divine wanted 
many works of commentators and critics. The bookseller 
maintained ' that the chief of his subscribers lived in South- 
wark, Wapping, and Batcliif Highway ; that they had no 
notion of critics and commentators ; that the work would 
be adapted to their capacity, and therefore the less learning ^ 
in it the better.' Stackhouse got out of the hands of this 
encourager of letters, found another publisher, and pros- 
pered, as well as he could, upon the subscriptions to his 
* four sheets of original matter for sixpence.'* 'Many of the 
number-books were published under fictitious names of 
authors; and some actual authors, clerical and lay, lent 
their names to works of which they never saw a line. One 
of the most accomplished of the number-book writers was 
Dr. Kobert Sanders, a self-created LL.D. He produced 
Histories of England, in folio and quarto, under various 
names. He was the writer of the Notes to the edition 
of the Bible, published in 1773, under the honoured name 
of Dr. Henry Southwell. The ingenious note-writer has 
told thfe story without reservation : — ' As I was not a 
clergyman, my name could not be prefixed to it. Appli- 
cation was made to several clergymen for the use of their 
names; and at last Henry Southwell, LL.D., granted 
his.' In a year or two the inde&tigable Sanders was ready 
with a scheme for a larger commentary. He found a Doctor 
who would lend his name for a hundred pounds ; but such 
a sum was out of the question. A mere A.M. was pur- 
chased for twenty pounds ; but the affair broke down. The 
commentator relates that he was told by the proprietors 
* they had no farther occasion for my services, and even 

• See NichoU*' « Literary Anecdotes,' vol. ii. p. 394. 

t2 



276 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

denied me my week's wages.' We hope the laborioixB 
Sanders was less scurvily treated by the publishers of that 
immortal work of his, which has been the glory of the 
number-trade even up to this hour, namely, ' llie Kewgale 
Calendar, or Malefactor's Bloody Eegister.' How many 
fortunes have been made out of this great storehouse of 
popular knowledge is of little consequence to society. It 
may be of importance to consider how many imps of fsane 
have here studied the path to glory. Sanders had a rival — 
the Eev. Mr. Villette, ordinary of Newgate — who published 
the * Annals of Newgate, or Malefactor's Eegister,' &c., ' in- 
tended as a beacon to warn the rising generation against 
the temptations, the allurements, and the dangers of bad 
company.* In this title-page 'the celebrated John Shep- 
pard,' and * the equally celebrated Margaret Caroline Budd,' 
are leading attractions. The author of the ' Annals,' no 
doubt, prospered better than he of the * Calendar.' 

Poor wretched Sanders, during the period when he wa;$ 
correcting Lord Lyttleton's * History of Henry II.,' had *» 
weekly subsistence ;' but in 1 768 he writes, * During these 
six weeks I have not tasted one whole meal of victuals at a 
time.'* The original race of number-pubHshers had no 
very exalted notion of the value of literary labour. Their 
successors had no will to bestow any payment upon litera- 
ture at all, while they had the old stores to produce and 
reproduce. They have now been forced into some few 
attempts at originality. But the employment of new au- 
thorship is a rare exception to their ordinary course. When 
the necessity does arise, there is always perturbation of 
mind. In a moment of despair, when his press was stand- 
ing still for some of that manuscript which, in an unlucky 
hour, he had bargained for with a living writer, one of thi 
fraternity exclaimed, * Give me dead authors, they never 
keep you waiting for copy !' Many good books have, how- 
ever, been produced by the early number-publishers. We 
may mention Chambers' * Cyclopeedia,' Smollett's * History 

• Nicholk' * Literary Anecdotes/ vol. ii. p. 730, and vol. iii. p. 760. 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 277 

of England/ and Scott's * Bible/ Some well-printed books 
are still bein^ produced, but the compilers help themselves 
freely to what others have dearly paid for. Taken as a 
whole, they are the least improved, and certainly they are 
the dearest books, in the whole range of popular literature. 
The system upon which they are sold is essentially that of 
forcing a sale ; and the necessary cost of this forcing, called 
* canvassing,' is sought to be saved in the quantity of the 
article 'canvassed/ or in the less obvious degradation of 
ite quality. The * canvasser' is an universal genius, and he 
must be paid as men of genius ought to be paid. He has 
to force off the commonest of wares by the most ingenious 
of devices. It is not the intrinsic merit of a book that is to 
command a sale, but the exterior accomplishments of the 
salesman. He adapts himself to every condition of person 
with whom he is thrown into contact. As in Birmingham 
and other great towns there is a beggars' register, which 
describes the susceptibilities of the families at whose gates 
beggars call, even to the particular theological opinions of 
the occupants, so the canvasser has a pretty accurate account 
of the households within his beat. He knows where there 
is the customer in the kitchen, and the customer in the 
parlour. He sometimes has a timid ooljoquy with the cook 
in the passage ; sometimes takes a glass of ale in the ser- 
vants* hall ; and, when he can rely upon the charms of his 
address, sends his card boldly into the dra'wing-room. No 
refusal can prevent him in the end leaving his number for 
inspection. The system is most rife in North and Midland 
England; it is not so common in the agricultural South, 
although it might be an instrument of diffusing sound 
knowledge amongst a scattered population. If an effort 
were honestly made to publish works really cheap, because 
intrinsically good, upon *the canvassing system,' that system, 
which has many real advantages, might be redeemed from 
the disgrace which now too often attaches to it, in the 
hands of the quacks who are most flourishing in that line. 

The number-trade was a necessary oflfehoot of that 
periodical literature which sprang up into importance at 



278 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

the beginning of the eighteenth century, and which, in all 
its ramificationB, has had a more powerful influence than 
that of all other literature upon the intelligence of the grtrat 
body of the people. 



SECTION III. 

02i the 8th of February, 1696, our friend John Dunton 
completed the nineteenth Tolume of ' The Athenian Mer- 
cuiy, resoWing all the most nice and curious questions 
proposed by the ingenious.' This penny tract, published 
twice a week, consisted of a single leaf. ' The ingenious ' 
ceased to question, and ' The Athenian Society ,' as the 
bookseller called his scribes, ceased to answer, after six 
years of this oracular labour. There came an ir^ption of 
the barbarians, in the shape of *nine newspapers eveiy 
week/ John proposed to resume his task * as soon as the 
glut of news is a little over.' The countryman waiting 
for the river to roll by was not more mistaken. In 1709 
there was one daily paper in London ; twelve, three times 
a week ; and three, twice a week. Amongst those of three 
times a week was * The Tatler,' which commenced April 
12, 1709. The early Tatlers had their regular foreign in- 
telligence. They were aa much newspapers as * The Flj- 
ing Post ' and * The Postboy.' But Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., 
very soon discontinued the information which he derived 
from letters from the Hague and advices from Berlin. He 
had something of a more original character to offer im 
readers. The state of popular enlightenment at this period 
has been described by Johnson in his Life of Addison ; — 
' That general knowledge which now circulates in common 
talk was in his time rarely to be found. Men not profess- 
ing learning were not ashamed of ignorance ; and in the 
female world any acquaintance with books was distin- 
guished only to be censured.' Steele and Addison bad to 
form the taste of the new generation that they were ad- 
dressing. They knew that there was a large claas craving 



BEGINNINaS OF POPULAB LITERATURE. 279 

amusement, who might at the same time be refined and 
instructed without the pretenBions of ^ the budge doctors 
of the stoic fur.* They meddled little with politics. 
They left the furious discussions about Chnrch and 
State to papers with an- earnest political purpose, of 
which Charles Leslie, a violent Tory, thus spoke in his 
* Rehearsals :' — 'The greatest part of the people do not 
read books ; most of them cannot read at all : but they will 
gather together about one that can read, and listen to an 
Obserrator or Review, as I have seen them, in the streets.' 
The Tatler has been described as a great success ; but we 
may measure that success by that of the more popular 
Spectator. In No. 665 of that work Steele says, — * The 
tax on each half-sheet has brought into the Stamp-Office, 
one week with another, above 201. a week, arising from 
the single paper, notwithstanding it at first reduced it to 
less than half the number that was usually printed before 
the tax was laid.' The tax being a penny, this would 
only show a daily circulation of 1600, and of about 3000 
when it was unstamped. But the sale in volumes, accord- 
ing to the same statement, was as high as 9000 of each 
volume. This fact gives us a higher notion of the popu- 
larity of these charming papers, and of the consequent 
extent of general reading, than any other circumstance in 
the literary history of that period. But even the com- 
paratively small daily sale was of importance, as showing 
that the great middle class was beginning to seek some- 
thing better than could be found in the coarse and meagre 
news-sheets. The annals of * llie Gentlemen's Society at 
Spalding' record that in April, 1709, some residents there 
heard of the Tatlers, and ordered them to be sent to the 
coffee-house in the Abbey-yard : — • They were accordingly 
had, and read there every post-day, generally aloud to the 
company, who could sit and talk over the subject after- 
wards.' The narrative goes on to say that 'in March, 
1711, the Spectator came out, which was received and 
read here as the Tatler had been.' Such are the beginnings 
of popular knowledge. What the Tatler and Spectator 



280 ONCE UPON A TIMI. 

were to the gentlemen of Spalding, the Penny Magazine 
and Chambers' Journal were to many a mechanic a hun- 
dred and twenty years after. One of this class has re- 
corded the influence of such works, which addressed a far 
larger number than could be addressed at the beginning 
of the eighteenth century : — * The Penny Magazine was 
published. I borrowed the first volume, and determined to 
make an effort to possess myself with the second. Accord- 
ingly, with January, 1833, I determined to discontinue the 
use of sugar in my tea, hoping that my family would not then 
feel the sacrifice necessary to buy the book. ... I looked 
as anxiously for the issue of the monthly part as I did for 
the means of getting a living.** It is this spirit in the 
great mechanical class of this country that, in spite of some 
popular reading that is corrupting, and much that is 
frivolous, will ultimately raise and purify even the 
meanest sheet of our cheap literature, and compel thocse 
who have the responsibility of addressing large masses of 
the people to understand that an influential portion do 
feel that the acquirement of knowledge is worth some 
sacrifice. 

The ' Complete Catalogue of Modem Books, pnbliahfid 
from the Jbeginning of the century to 1756,' contains 5280 
new works. In this Catalc^e ' all pamphlets and other 
tracts ' are excluded. We can scarcely, therefore, compare 
this period, as to the number of books published, with 
that of 1680. The average number of the first fifty-sevoi 
years of the eighteenth century was ninety-three new works 
each year. At the beginning of the century, the price of 
a' folio or quarto volume ranged from 10s. to 12^. ; an oc- 
tavo from 5». to 6s. ; and a duodecimo from 2a. 6d. to 3*. 
We have the 'original ' Tatler ' before us, with its curious 
advertisements of books, sales by the candle, cordial 
elixirs, lotteries, and bohea tea at 24«. a pound. White- 
locke's * Memorials,' folio, is advertised at 12s.; Bowe's 
edition of Shakspeare, 8vo., is 6s. per volume ; * The Peer- 
age of England,' 8vo., 6s.; Shakspeare's Poems, 12bio., 

* ' Atitobiography of an Artifltn.' By Christopher Thomson. 1S47. 



BEGINKIXGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 281 

Is. 6J. ; *Th6 Monthly Amusement,' each nnmber con- 
taining a complete novel, is Is, ; Sermons ftre 2d, each. 
We learn, from other sources, that the first edition of ' The 
Dnnciad ' was a sixpenny pamphlet ; whilst * The Oovemor^ 
of Cyprus, a Novel,' and * The Wanton Fryar, a Novel,' 
were each 125. The number printed of an edition was, 
no doubt, very moderate, except chiefly of books that 
were associated with some great popular excitement. 
Sacheverell's Trial is said to have sold 30,000 ; as, in a 
later period, 30,000 were sold of Burke's ' Beflections on 
the Revolution in France.* The old booksellers were 
cautious about works of imagination when they were ex- 
pected to pay handsomely for copyright. The manuscript 
of * Robinson Crusoe ' was pronounced dangerous by the 
whole tribe of publishers, till one ventured upon an edition. 
The demand was such that the copies could only be sup- 
plied by dividing the work amongst several printers. One 
of Defoe's numerous assailants, in attempting to ridicule 
him, gives the best evidence of his popularity : * There 
is not an old woman that can go to the |!rice of it but buys 
" The Life and Adventures," and leaves it as a legacy 
with the "Pilgrim's Progress."' Richardson's * Pamela,' 
published in 1741, Bold five editions in one year. There 
are fabulous accounts of Millar, the publisher, clearing 
18,0002. by *Tom Jones.' In those times the Dublin 
pirates were as assiduous in their plunder of English . 
copyrights as the American publishers have been in 
plundering the English, and the English the American, 
in our days. Richardson was driven wild by the publica- 
tion of half * Sir Charles Grandison ' in Ireland, in a cheap 
form, before a single volume was issued in England. 
There was a regular system of bribery in the English 
printing-offices, through which the Dublin booksellers 
organised their robberies. They sold their books surrep- 
titiously in England and Scotland ; and from their greater 
cheapness they had the command of their own market. 
This system lasted till the Union. 

The prices of books do not appear to have much in- 



282 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

creased at the beginning of the reign of George III. In 
some cases their moderation is remarkable. We hare 
seen how small was the demand for the first volnme of 
Hume's * History • in 1764. We have a nnmberof *The 
Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser' at hand. May 9, 
1764^ and there we learn, from an advertisement, what a 
change ten years had produced. A new edition of the 
third and fourth volimies, in quarto, is advertised at 
1/. 5s. ; but ' the proprietor, at the desire of many who 
wish to be possessed of this valuable and esteemed histor}', 
is induced to a monthly publication, which will not ex- 
ceed eight volumes.' These volumes were 5s. each. It 
is manifest that the bookseller had found a new class 
to address when he issued the monthly volumes. Hume 
says, * Notwithstanding the variety of winds and seasons 
to which my writings had been exposed, they had still 
been making such advances that the copy-money given 
me by the booksellers much exceeded anything formerly 
known in England.' He had complained of the neglect 
of the * considerable for rank or letters.' His publisher 
saw that a history with such charms of style — so freed 
from tedious quotations from state papers and statutes— s«) 
unlike the great folios of Carte and Bapin — was a book for 
a new race of readers. Coleridge humorously enough sa^-s 
— * Poets and philosophers, rendered diffident by their 
veiy number, addressed themselves to *' learned readers ;** 
then, aimed to conciliate the graces of *' the candid reader;" 
till, the critic still rising as the author sank, the amateurs 
of literature collectively were erected into a municipality 
of judges, and addressed as '* the Town." And now, finally, 
all men being supposed to read, and all readers able to 
judge, the multitudinous '* Public," shaped into personal 
unity by the magic of abstraction, sits nominal despot on 
the throne of criticism.'* There is a great truth beneath 
the sarcasm. The enduring patronage of the public was 
beginning when Andrew Millar was bold enough to publish 

♦ • Biographtat Literaria/ vol. i. p. 60, ed. 1817 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 283 

Hume's History in monthly five-shilling volumes. But 
there are still many evidences that the commerce of books 
at that period, and subsequently, did not contemplate the 
existence of a large class of buyers, beyond those who 
were at ease in their fortunes. In that farrago of sense 
and absurdity, ' The Life of James Lackington, the present 




Lockington. 

Bookseller, Finsbury-square, London, written by himself 
(1791), there is a remarkable disclosure of the mode in 
which books were prevented being sold cheaply, after the 
original demand had been satisfied : — * When first invited 
to these trade-sales, I was very much surprised to learn 
that it was common for such as purchased remainders to 
destroy one-half or three-fourths of such books, and to 
charge the full publication price, or nearly that, for such 
as they kept on hand. And there was a kind of standing 
order amongst the trade that, in case any one was known 
to sell articles under the publication price, such a person 
was to be excluded from trade-sales — so blind were copy- 



284 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

light holders to their own interest.' In the same maimer, 
it is within the memory of many living persons that there 
was an invariable high price for fish in London, because 
the wholesale dealers at BiUingsgate always destroyed a 
portion of what came to market, if the supply were above 
the average. The dealers in fish had not recognised the 
existence of a class who would buy for their suppers what 
the rich had not taken for their dinners; and knew not 
that the stalls of Tottenham Court Road had as many 
customers ready for a low price as the shops of Channg 
Cross for a high price. The fishmongers had not dis- 
covered that the price charged to the evening ctustomere 
had no effect of lowering that of the morning. Nor had 
the booksellers discovered that there were essentially two, 
if not more, classes of customers for books — those who 
would have the dearest and the newest, and those who 
were content to wait till the gloss of ^ovelty had passed 
off, and good works became accessible to them, either in 
cheaper reprints, or * remainders * reduced in price. But 
books and fish have one material difference. Good books 
are not impaired in value when they are cheapesied. 
Their character, which has been established by the first 
demand, creates a second and a larger demand. Lacking- 
ton destroyed no books that were worth saving, but sold 
them as he best could. \Ve have no quarrel with his self- 
commendation when he says, 'I could almost be vain 
enough to assert that I have thereby been highly instru- 
mental in diffusing that general desire for reading now so 
prevalent among the inferior orders of society.' 

What Lackington thought * a general desire for reading * 
was, nevertheless, a very limited desire. *The inferior 
orders of society ' who had the desire did not comprehend 
many of the mechanics, and none of the husbandry labourers. 
It may be doubted whether the Magazine Literature that 
the eighteenth century called forth ever* went beyond ihe 
gentry and the superior traders. Eippis says of the ma^R- 
zincs, ' they have been the means of diffusing a genenl 
habit of reading through the nation.' There appears to 



BEGINNINGB OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 285 

» 
have been a sort of tacit agreement amongst all who spoke 
of public enlightenment in the days of George III. to put 
out of view the great body of ' the nation ' who paid for 
their bread by their weekly wages. The magazines were 
certainly never addressed to this class. But for the general 
book-buyers of the time, Cave's project of 'The Gentle- 
man's Magasine ' was a great step in popular literature. 
The booksellers would not join him in what they held to 
be a risk. When he had succeeded, and sold 10,000, 
then they set up the rival ' London Magazine.' Cave threw 
all his energy into the magazine, and was rewarded. * He 
scarcely ever looked out of the window, but with a view to 
its improvement,' said Johnson. ' The Gentleman's Maga- 
zine' commenced in 1731. Then came, year after year, 
magazines 'as plenty as blackberries:' — 'The London,' 
' The Universal,' ' The Literary,' ' The Royal,' « The Com- 
plete,' 'The Town and Country,' 'The Ladies',' 'The 
Westminster,' ' The European,' ' The Monthly.' The first 
popular review, • The Monthly,' was published in 1749, and 
* The Critical ' in 1766. The public were now firmly esta- 
blished as the real patrons of letters. There was an end of 
poor authors knocking at great men's doors Y^ith a bundle 
of books. There was an end to paid Dedications and gratu- 
latory Odes. Johnson could aiFord to launch his Dictionary 
without the help of the Earl of Chesterfield. Hume became 
'not only independent but opulent' through the 'copy- 
money ' of the booksellers. 

The publication of Collections of the Poets was another 
proof of the extension of the reading public. The man 
who first projected* such a Collection went for cheapness. 
In 1777 John Bell announced an edition of 'The Poets of 
Great Britain ; complete from Chaucer to Churchill.' The 
liondon booksellers, to the number of forty, held a meeting, 
to resist what they considered an invasion of their literary 
property — some works within the time of the statute of Anne 
being legally theirs — others their copyright by courtesy. 
They resolved to combine their various interests; and they 
produced that edition of the Poets, in sixty-eight volumes, 



286 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

which is called Johnson's, though, according to Malone, he 
never saw a line of the text. The * Lives,* which Johnson 
wrote for two htmdred guineas, will endure as a great classic 
work, however deformed by hasty or prejudiced judgment 
Many of the Poets given in the senes have no pretensEionto 
be looked upon again, except as a part of literary history, 
which may show how the most feeble may attain repntatiGn 
in an age of mediocrity. The booksellers spoke contemptu- 
ously of Bell's edition, which they called * trifling.' They 
boasted their superior printing ; but they gave no place in 
their Collection to Chaucer, Spenser, or Donne, as Bell had 
done. They did not care to direct the public taste ; — ^they 
printed what they thought would sell. ITie demand for 
such Collections has always been one of the pn>ofe of a 
healthy condition of public intelligence ; but the want has 
not often been supplied with any judgment beyond that of 
the rude commercial estimate of the prevailing fashion in 
poetry. It is extremely difficult to deal with such matters. 
All literary students have a proper horror of abridgraentf 
and analyses. They want all of an author, or iSone. You 
can neither make Chaucer extremely popular by an entire 
reprint, nor command a large sale by partial extract. But 
John Bell was right, in 1777, to risk the printing of three 
great early poets, whilst the booksellers began with Waller. 
Here were poets that can never be wholly obsolete. But 
the rubbish called poetry that found its way, by trade pre- 
ferences, into Johnson's edition — the inanities of the dri- 
vellers between Pope and Gray — let not these be reproduced 
in our time, when such Collections are coming again into 
fashion, and showing, as they showed before, an extension 
of readers. 

The Circulating Library— what a revolution wa« that in 
popular literature! How this new plant appeared above 
the earth, where it first budded, where it bore its early 
fruit — how it grew into a great tree, like that in the old 
title to Lilly's Grammar, where the apples of knowledge are 
being gathered by little climbing-boys — would be diffionlt 
to trace and to recoi-d. There it was — this great eoonomiser 



BEGIMNINOS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 287 

of individual outlay for books — in most market-towns at 
the beginning of tbe century. The universal adoption of 
the name is tbe best proof of tbe common recognition of tbe 
idea. It cbanged tbe habits of tbe old country booksellers. 
It found them other occupation than keeping a stall in tbe 
market-place, as did their worthy forefathers. They dealt 
no longer in tracts and single sermons. It sent tbe chap- 
books into tbe villages. It made tbe * Seven Champions of 
Christendom ' and ' The Wise Masters of Greece ' vulgar. 
It created a new literature of fiction. It banished * Hobin- 
son Crusoe* to the kitchen, and *The Arabian Nights' to 
the nursery. It built up great printing-houses in Leaden- 
hall-street ; and held out high rewards for rapid composition, 
at the rate of five pounds per volume, to decayed governesses 
who had seen the world, and bank-clerks of an imaginative 
turn of mind. These could produce a wilderness of Italian 
bandits, with unlimited wealth and beauty, who had won 
the hearts of credulous countesses, and only surrendered 
to the hangman when whole armies came out to take them. 
These could unveil all the mysterious luxuries of great 
mansions in Grosvenor-square, or of sumptuous hotels in 
Bond-street. There was ever and anon a ' bright particular 
star ' in the Milky Way of popular fiction. But the circu- 
lating library went on its own courfee, whether the empyrean 
of romance were dim or brilliant. * What have you got 
new ?' was the universal question put to the guardian of the 
treasures of this recently-discovered world of letters. 
^\'ben the bower-maid of tbe luxurious fair one, who lolled 
upon tbe eofa through a long summer*s day, as Gray did 
when he was deep in Cr^billon, came to * change * tbe book, 
great sometimes was tbe perplexity. It was not a difficult 
task to * change,' but the newness was puzzling. ITie lady 
and the neat-handed PbilHs pursued their studies simul- 
taneously. They did not like * poetry ;' they did not like 
* letters.' ' Sir Charles Grandison * was as old and as tire- 
some as * Pamela.' '* Tom Jones,' and ' Peregrine Pickle ;' 
they wondered why they were allowed to remain in the 
catalogue. They had read * Coelebs in search of a Wife '- 



288 OKCE UPON A TIME. 

the charming book — ^but they did not want it again. Per- 
haps, suggested the bookseUer's apprentice, *The Monk' 
might do once more. And 80 the circulating library went 
on, slow and struggling, till, about 1814, the unlucky deore 
for ^something new' brought down to the little greasy 
collection, whose delusive numbers of volumes ranged from 
1 to 3250, a new novel, with the somewhat unpronusing 
title of ' Waverley, or *tis Sixty Years since.' At first, the 
lady upon the so&, and the counsellor of her studies, could 
not endure it, for it was full of horrid Scotch. It was often 
' at home,' as the phrase went, for six months of its proba- 
tion ; when, somehow, it was discovered that a new book 
of wonderful talent had come out of the North. Another 
and another came, and in a few years the old circulating 
library was ruined. The Bumeys, and Edgeworths, and 
Badclifies, and Godwins, and Holcrofts, who had mixed 
with much lower company upon the librarian's shelves, 
still held a place. But the Winters in London and Winters 
in Bath, the Midnight Bells, the Nuns, and the Watck- 
Towers, retired from business. There was then a new epodi 
in the circulating-library life. The literature of travels and 
memoirs timidly claimed a place by the side of the fieishion- 
able novel, which asserted its dignity by raising its price 
to a guinea and a half. The old legitimate stupidity, wbcch 
did very well before the trade was disturbed, would no 
longer ' circulate.' But the names of the producers of the 
higher fiction were not ' Legion.' ' Something new ' must 
still be had. To meet the market, every variety of west- 
end authorship was experimented upon. The number to 
be printed could be calculated with tolerable exactness, 
according to the reputation of the writer,— and this calcu- 
lation regulated the payment of copyright, from fifty pounds, 
and five hundred printed, to the man without a name, up 
to fifteen hundred pounds, and an impression of three thou* 
sand, to * the glass of fashion.' But in this department of 
the commerce of literature, — as it wUl be in the. end with 
every branch upon which the gi-owth of popular intelligena- 
is operating, — the nibbish is perishable, has perished; the 
good endureth. 



BEGINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 289 

The circulating library is now, in many instances, a real 
infitrament of popular enlightenment. Yet in %ome of the 
smaller towns, and in watering-places where raffles have 
their charm, and a musical performance is patronised in 
the 'Fancy Repository,' by * audience fit though few' — 
there the circulating library may be studied in its ancient 
brilliancy. There, are still preserved, with a paper number 
on their brown leather backs, and a well-worn bill of the 
terms of subscription on their sides, those volumes, now 
fading into oblivion, whence the writers of many a penny 
journal of fiction are drawing and will still draw their in- 
spiration. Many of these relics of a past age will live over 
^in in shilling volumes with new titles. The heroes and 
heroines will change their names; the furniture of the 
apartments in which they utter their vows of love will be 
modernised ; every sentence which in the slightest degree 
approaches the vulgar will be softened down or obliterated. 
There is a great dea3 yet to be done in this way ; and the 
metamorpbosis will go on and prosper. In the meanwhile 
the circulating libraries, both in London and the provinces, 
are supporting a higher literature of fiction than those of 
the past generation ; and they find also that there are other 
volumes alniiost as attractive as the last new novel. They 
are doing the same work as the book-clubs. Both these 
modes of co-operation have had the efiect of making the 
demand for a book that is at once solid and attractive more 
certain than the old demand by indivXlual purchasers. 
The certainty of the demand necessarily produces a gradual 
reduction of price. An average demand is <5l-eated, result- 
ing from an average of taste in those who belong to book- 
societies and subscribe to circulating libraries. But these 
channels for the sale of new books are not materially in- 
fluenced by lowness of price. Cheapness is greatly influen- 
tial with the private purchaser ; but very many are content 
with the reading of a new book, through the club or the 
library, who would never buy it for their own household. 
This first demand is one of the means by which good books 
may be cheapened for a subsequent large issue for the per* 

V 



290 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

manent home library. In ' The Life of LackiD^on ' diere 
is the foUo^viing passage : — ' I have been informed that^ when 
circulating libraries were first opened, the booksellexv were 
much alarmed ; and their rapid increase added to their feazs, 
and led them to think that the sale of books would be much 
diminished by such libraries. But experience has proved 
that the sale of books,, so far from being diminished by 
them, has been greatly promoted ; as from these repositories 
many thousand families have been cheaply supplied with 
books, by which the taste of reading has become much more 
general, and thousands of books are purchased every year 
by such as have first borrowed them at those libraries, and, 
after reading, approving of them, have become purchasers.* 
One of the first attempts, and it was a successful one, to 
establish a cheap Book-Club was made by Robert Bums. 
He had foimded a Society at Tarbolton, called the Bachelors' 
Club, which met montlily for the purposes of discvasioB 
and conversation. But this was a club without books ; for 
the fines levied upon the members were spent in con- 
viviality. Having changed his residence to Manchline, a 
similar club was established there, but with one important 
alteration : — the fines were set apart for the purohase of 
books, and the first work bought was ' The Mirror/ by 
Henry Mackenzie. Dr. Currie, the biographer of Burns, ia 
recording this fact, says, * With deference to the Conversa- 
tion Society of Mauchline, it may be doubted whether the 
books which thef purchased were of a kind best adapted to 
promote the interest and happiness of persons in this sitoa- 
tion of life.' .The objection of Dr. Currie was founded upon 
his belief that works which cultivated * delicacy of taste * 
were unfitted for those who pursued manual occupataoDS. 
He qualifies his objection, however, by the remark, that 
* Every human being is a proper judge of his own happiness, 
and within the path of innocence ought to be permitted to 
pursue it. Since it is the taste of the Scottish peasantry to 
give a preference to works of taste and of &ncy, it may be 
presumed they find a superior gratification in the perusal 
of such work^.' This truth, timidly put by Dr. Currie, 



BEQINNINGS OF POPULAR LITERATURE. 291 

OTight to be tlie foundation of every attempt to provide 
books for all readers. We are learning to correct the fa]se 
opinions which, for a century or two, have been degrading 
the national character by lowering the general taste. Those 
who maintained that taste was the exclusive property of the 
rich and the luxurious, could not take away from the 
humble the beauty of the rose or the fragrance of the violet ; 
they could not make the nightingale sing a vulgar note to 
the * swink'd hedger at his supper ;' nor, speaking purely to a 
question of taste, did they venture to lower the noble trans- 
lation of the Bible, which they put into the hands of the 
poor man, to something which, according to the insolent 
formula of those days, was * adapted to the meanest capacity.* 
A great deal of this has passed away. It has been dis- 
covered that music is a fitting thing to be cultivated by the 
people; the doors of galleries are thrown open for the 
people to gaze upon Baffaelies and Correggios; even cot- 
tages are built so as to satisfy a feeling of proportion, and 
to make their inmates aspire to something like decoration. 
All this is progress in the right direction. 

In the year 1825, Lord Brougham (then Mr. Brougham), 
in his ' Practical Observations upon the Education of the 
People,' explained a plan which has yet been only partially 
acted upon. ' Book-Clubs or Beading Societies may be esta- 
blished by very small numbers of contributors, and require 
an inconsiderable fund. If the associates live near one 
another, arrangements may be easily made for circulating 
the books, so that they may be in use every moment that 
any one can spare from his work. Hqre, too, the rich have 
an opportunity presented to them of promoting instruction 
without constant interference : the gift of a few books, as a 
beginning, will generally prove a sufficient encouragement 
to carry on the plan by weekly or monthly contributions : 
and, with the gift, a scheme maybe communicated to assist 
the contributors in arranging the plan of their association.* 
Simple in its working as such a plan would appear to be, 
the instances of these voluntary associations are really 
few. In Scotland, Lendiilg Libraries and Itinerating 

V 2 

\ 

/ 



292 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Libraries have, in some distriots, been established sacoess- 
fully ; but in England, Lending Libraries are scarcely to 
be fonnd, except in connexion with schools, or under the 
immediate direction of the minister of a parish or of a dis- 
senting congregation. In these cases, we fear, comes too 
frequently into action the desire, laudable no doubt, to 
promote 'the interest and happiness of pensons in this 
situation of life.' They are not permitted to choose for 
themselres. The best books of amusement are kept out of 
their sight ; and they contrive to get hold of the worst. 
The timidity which insists upon supplying these libraries 
with pattern books renders the libraries disagreeable, and 
therefore useless. 



( 293 ) 



THE FmST NEWSPAPER STAMP. 

It is the evening of Monday, the 28th of July, in the year 
of 1712. Two middle-aged men oome ont of Will's Coffee- 
Honse, and slowly walk through the olose lanes that lead 
to the heart of the City. The one has a brisk and alert 
step, with an air of frank hilarity in his face, which is 
somewhat lighted up in the evening sun by the magnum 
of generous claret which he has been shiuring with his 
Mend. The other moves a little imsteadily, with a hesitat- 
ing step, which is not improved by the wine he has taken ; 
but a placid smile plays on his features, and, in connection 
with the dignified repose of his whole manner, gives as- 
surance of the gentleman. As they pass along they en- 
counter a bevy of newsvendera, known as hawkers or 
Mercuries, who are bawling at the top of their lungs, * Here 
you have the last number of the Observator — ^the last number 
— ^no other number will ever be published, on account of 
the stamp.' * Here you have the Fli/ing Post, which will 
go on in spite of the stamp.' ' Here you have the Spectator^ 
this day's Spectator ^ all writ by the greatest wits of ^e age.' 
The more hilarious of the two friends twitches his com- 
panion's arm, and whispers, ^ That's at any rate a comfort, 
Addison.' ' True fame, Steele,' is the reply. Their onward 
course is to a small printing-office in Little Britain. They 
climb the narrow staircase, and are in a close and dingy 
room, with two printing-presses and working spaces for 
four compositors. A grave man is reading at a desk, and 
he bows reverently to the gallants in lace and ruffles, who 
thus honour him by a visit to his dark den of letters. 

* Why, Mr. Buckley,' says Steele, ' your narrow passages 
and close rooms remind me of the printer of Ben Jonson, 



294 ONCE UPON A TOiB. 

who kept his press in a hollow tree. We are come to talk 
with you about this infernal Stamp : a red Stamp, they tell 
me, 'tis to be, not black, like its father. Lillie is obstiiiata, 
and says our penny Spectator must be raised to twopence ; 
and if so, where are our customers to come from ? 
*' I was for stopping,' interposes Addison. 

* Not so, sir ; not so, I pray,' ejaculates the fright^ied 
printer ; ' there isn't such a paper in Town, sir. Goes into 
the houses of the first of the quality ; not a ooffee-bouse 
without it. Not like your Post-ioys and Posts, which are 
read by shopkeepers and handicrafts.' 

* I should like to be read by shopkeepers and handioTsfts,* 
says Steele. 

* Oh dear, no, sir ; quite impossible, sir. They must 
have coarse food ; ghosts and murders. Delicate wit like 
Mr. Addison's, fine morality like Mr. Steele's, are for the 
Town, sir, not the populace.' 

' A nice distinction, truly,' cries Addison ; * Audience fit, 
though few.' 

'Few, sir? why, we print three thousand; aad we 
shall print as many when the stamp doubles our price. Our 
customers will never stand upon a shilling a week. And, 
besides, those who support the government will rejoice in 
the opportunity of paying the tax. I shouldn't wonder if 
the stamp doubled our sale.' 

* Very sanguine, Mr. Buckley.' 

* Sanguine, sir ? Who wouldn't be sanguine, when rare 
wits like you condescend to write for the Town. There is 
Doctor Swift, too, I hear, has been writing penny paper 
after penny paper. A fine hand, gentlemen ! Are we to 
go back to our old ignorant days because of a red stamp ? 
We must go on improving. Look at my printing-office, 
and see if we are not improved. Why, Sir Boger L'EstxBiige, 
when he set up the InteUigencer fifty years ago, gave notice 
that he would publish his one book a week, *' to be pub- 
lished every Thursday, and finished upon the Tuesday night, 
leaving Wednesday entire for the printing it off." And 
now I, gentlemen— -Heaven forbid I should boast, — can 



THE FIRST NEWenPAPER STAMP. 295 

print your Sp^tatcr off every day, and not even want the 
oopy more than three days before the publication. Think 
of Uiat, gentlemen, a half-sheet every day ! A hundred years 
hence nobody will believe it.' ' 

* You are a wonderful^ man, Mr. Buckley, and we are all 
very gratefol to you,' says the laughing-eyed Essayist. * But, 
talking of a hun^dred years hence, who can say that our 
moral atid mechanical improvements are to stop here ? I 
can imi^ine a time when every handicraft in the country 
shall read; when the footman behind the carriage shall 
read ; when the Irish chairman shall read ; and when your 
Jnteliigeruxr shall hear of a great battle on the Wednesday 
morning, and have a full account of it published on the 
Thursday.' 

* That, sir, with all submission, is actually impossible ; 
and surely you are joking when you talk of the vulgar 
learning to read, and taking delight in reading. Beading 
will never go lower than our shopkeepers, I think.' 

* I wonder,* interposes Addison, * what the people would 
read a hundred years hence, if they had the ability ? They 
must have books especially suited to their capacities.' 

' They would read your ** Vision of Mirza," and know 
something about your " Sir Boger de Coverloy." ' 

' Come, come, Diccon, don't be sarcastic. I thought I 
was pitching my key low enough to suit our fops, and our 
courtiers, and our coffee-house loungers ; — but to 1)e relished 
by the rabble ! A pinch of snuff, if you please.' 

* If I could see the day,' replies Steele, ' when we had a 
nation of readers, and books could circulate rapidly through 
the whole country, I would leave tlie Town to mend its 
follies as it best might, and set up for a teacher of the 
People. We would make your press do ten times its present 
work then, Mr. Buckley.* 

* Ah, sir, great men like you always have their dreams. 
I once knew a*very clever man who fancied the mail would 
some time or other go to York in three days. Poor man, 
he was very nearly mad.' 

Addison whispers to his friend that the printer would 



296 ONCE UFOK A TOIE. 

namber him amongst the Bedlam candidates if he pro- 
pounded any more of his speculations ; and then, drawing 
himself up with greater dignity, rejoices the honest printer's 
heart by a memorable declaration : — ' Gome what may, we 
shall go on in spite of the Stam|^ There, Mr. Buckley, 
is the copy for No. 445, Thursday, July 31, which an- 
nounces our resolve. We will not be cashiered by Act of 
Parliament' 



( 297 ) 




, iif u • I 



•The foot grows black that waa wiih dirt eiubrownd.' 

TRIVIA. 

In one of the many courts on the north side of Fleet 
Street, might be seen, somewhere about the year 1820, 
the last of the ancient shoe-blacks. One would think that he 
deemed himself dedicated to his profession by Nature, for 
he was a Negro. At the earliest dawn he crept forth from 
his neighbouring lodging, and, planted his tripod on the 
quiet pavement, where he patiently stood till noon was 
past. He was a short, large-headed, son of Africa, subject, 
as it would appear, to considerable variations of spirits, 
alternating between depression and excitement, as the 
gains of the day presented to him the chance of having a 
few pence to recreate himself, beyond what he should 
carry home to his wife and children. For he had a wife 
and children, this last representative of a falling trade ; 
and two or three little woolly-headed decrotteurs nestled 
around him when he was idle, or assisted in taking off the 
roughest of the dirt when he had more than one client. 



298 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

He watched, with a melancholy eye, the gradual improve- 
ment of the streets ; for during some twenty or thirty year^ 
he had beheld all the world combining to min him. He 
saw the foot-payements widening; the large flag-stones 
carefully laid down; the loose and broken piece, which 
discharged a slushy shower on the imwary foot, instantly 
removed : he saw the kennels diligently cleansed, and the 
drains widened : he saw experiment upon experiment made 
in the repair of the carriage-way, and the holes which 
were to him as the * old &miliar faces ' which he loved, 
filled up with a haste that appeared quite unneceBsary, if 
not insulting. One solitary country shopkeeper, who had 
come to London once a year during a long life, clung to 
our sable friend ; for he was the only one of the fraternity 
that he could find remaining, in his walk froiii Charing 
Cross to Cheapside. The summer's morning when thai 
good man planted his foot on the three-legged stool, and 
desired him carefully to turn back his brown gaitere, and 
asked him how trade went with him, and shook hia head 
when he learned that it was very bad, and they both 
agreed that new-fangled ways were the min of the country 
— that was a joyful occasion to him, for he felt that he was 
not quite deserted. He did not continue long to struggle 
with the capricious world : — 

* One morn we miss'd him on th' accustomed stand.' 

He retired into the workhouse; and his boys, having a 
keener eye than theii* father to the wants of the com- 
munity, took up the trade which he most hated, and 
applied themselves to the diligent removal of the mud in 
an earlier stage of its accumulation — they swept crossings, 
instead of cleaning shoes. 

The last of the ancient Shoe-blacks belongs to history. 
He was one of the living monuments of old London ; he 
was a link between three or four generations. The stand 
which he purchased in Bolt Court (in the wonderful resem- 
blance of external appearance between all these Fleet- 
Street courts, we cannot be sure that it was Bolt Court ") 



TRIVU, 299 

had been handed down from one sucoessor to another, with 
as absolute a line of customers as Child's Banking-house. 
He belonged to a trade which has its literary memorials. 
In 1754, the polite Chesterfield, and the witty Walpole, 
felt it no d^radation to the work over which they presided 
that it should be jocose about his fraternity, and hold that 
his profession was more dignified than that of the author : 

' Far be it from me, or any of my brother authors, to 
inland lowering the dignity of the gentlemen trading in 
black ball, by naming them with ourselves: we are ex- 
tremely sensible of the great distance there is between us : 
and it is with envy that we look up to the occupation of 
Bhoe>cleaning, while we lament the severity of our fortunct 
in being sentenced to the drudgery of a less respectable 
employment. But while we are unhappily excluded from 
the stool and brush, it is surely a very hard case that the 
contempt of the world should pursue us,^only because we 
are unfortunate.** 

Gay makes • the black youth '—his mythological descent 
from the goddess of mud, and his importance in a muddy 
city — the subject of the longest episode in his amusing 
Trivia. The shoe-boy's mother thus addresses him : — 

* Go thrive : at some firequeDted corner stand ; 
This brush 1 give thee, grasp it in thy hand ; 
Temper tiie foot within this vase of oil, 
And let the little tripod aid ihj toU ; 
On this methinks I see the walking crew. 
At ihj request, support the miry shoe ; 
The foot grows black that was with dirt embrown 'd, 
And in thj pocket gingling halfpence sound. 
The goddess plunges swift beneath the flood. 
And dashes all around her showers of mud : 
The youth straight chose his post ; the labour plj'd 
Where branching streets from Charing Cross divide ; 
His treble voice resounds along the Mews, 
And WhitehaU echoes— <* Clean your Honour's shoes I" ' 

But the shoe-blacks have revived. What was an absolute 
necessity in the old times is now a luxury. On a fine day 

• The World, No. 57. 



300 



ONCB UPON A TIME. 



the trayeller, who has walked through miiy ways to his 
railroad-statioDy arriyes in London, and sees the boots of 
those who are fresh from their suburban villas brighter by^ 
contrast He no longer is propitiated by ^ Clean your 
honour's shoes/ but he hears ' Clean your boots.' Practical 
benevolence has found out its ragged boys; has clothed 
them in a decent scarlet livery; and established them in 
public thorough&reSy with the foot-rest and the brush. 
And, indeed, the vast accumulation of public vehicles %!t^ 




Cheapside. 



made the shoe-black sometimes as necessary to the pas- 
senger who has hurried across the busy road, careless c^ 
mud so that he save his limbs, as the old neglect. The 
great thoroughfares cannot now be adequately swept ; and 
even a sunny day has its dirt, through the inde&tigable 
water-cart. * The black youth ' again thrives. 

He who would see London well must be a pedestrian. 
Gay who has left us the most exact as well as the most 
lively picture of the external London of a hundred and 



TRIVIA. 301 

twenty years ago, is enthusiaBtio in his preference for 
walking: — 

' Let others in the jolting coach confide, 
Or in the leaky boat the Thamee diride, 
Or, box'd within the chair, contemn the street. 
And trust their safety to another's feet : 
StiU let me walk.' 

Bnt what a walk has he described ! He sets out — as what 
aensible man wonld not? — ^with his feet protected with 
' firm, well-hammer'd soles ;' but if the shoe be too big, 

' Each stone will wrench th' unwary step aside.' 

This, we see, is a London withont trottoirs. The middle of 
a paved street was generally occupied with the channel ; 
and the sides of the carriage-way were full of absolute 
holes, where the rickety coach was often stuck as in a 
quagmire. Some of the leading streets, even to the time 
of George IL, were almost as impassable as the avenues of 
a new American town. The only road to the Houses of 
Parliament before 1750 was through King Street and 
Union Street, 'which were in so miserable a state, that 
fagots were thrown into the ruts on the days on which the 
King went to Parliament, to render the passage of the state- 
coach more easy.'* The present Saint Margaret's Street 
was formed out of a thoroughfare known as Saint Mar- 
garet's Lane, which was so narrow that ' pales were obliged 
to be placed, four feet high, between the foot-path and the 
coach-road, to preserve the passengers from injury, and 
from being covered with the mud which was splashed on 
all sides in abundance.'f The pales here preserved the 
passengers more effectually than the posts of other thoroughr 
fares. These posts, in the principal avenues, constituted 
the only distinction between the foot-way and candage- 
way ; for the space within the posts was as uneven as the 
space without. This inner space was sometimes so narrow, 
that only one person could pass at a time; and hence those 
oontests for the wall that filled the streets with the vocife- 

^ Smith's Westminster, p. 261. f Id. p. 262. 



302 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

rations of anger, and the din of assaulting sticks, and Bome- 
times the clash of naked steel. Dr. Johnson describes bow* 
those quarrels were common when he first came to London ; 
and how at length things were better ordered. But the 
change must in great part be imputed to the gradual im- 
provement of the streets. In Gay's time there was no 
safety but within the posts. 

* Though expedition bids, yet never stray- 
Where no ranged posts defend the rugged way : 
Here laden carts with thundering waggons meet, , 

Wheeb dash with wheels, and bar the narrow street.' 

In wet and gusty weather the unhappy walker heard the 
crazy signs swinging over his head, as Gulliver describes 
the Red Lion of Brentford. The spouts of every house 
were streaming at his feet, or drenching his laced hat and 
his powdered wig with unpitying torrents. At every step 
some bulk or shop-projection narrowed the narrow road, 
and drove him against the coach- wheels. The chairmen, 
if there was room to pass, occupied all the space between 
the wall and the posts. The * hooded maid ' came some- 
times gingerly along, with pattens and umbrella (then 
exclusively used by women), and of courtesy he must yiM 
the wall. The small-coal man, and the swe^p, and the 
barber, took the wall, in assertion of their clothes-soiling 
prerogative; and the bully thrust him, or was himeelf 
thrust, ' to the muddy kennePs side.' The great rule ioat 
the pedestrian was, — 

* Ever he watchful to maintain the wall.' 

The dignity of the wall, and its inconveniences, were as 
old as the time of James and Charles. Donne, in his first 
satire, describes the difficulties of one who took the wall : — 

' Now we are in the street ; he first of all^ 
Improvident! y proud, creeps to the wall. 
And so, imprisoned and hemmed in by me, 
Sells for a little state his liberty.' 

The streets, in the good old times, often presented ob- 
structions to the pedestrian which appear to us like the 



TRIVU. 308 

wcmders of some unknown region. In the more recent 
unhappy days of public executions the wayfarer passed up 
Ludgate Hill with an eye averted from the Old Bailey; 
for there, as Monday morning came, duly hung 8ome4hree, 
and it may be six, unhappy victims of a merciless code, 
judicially murdered according to our better notions. Then 
was the rush to see the horrid sight, and the dense crowd 
pouring away from it; and the pickpocket active under 
the gallows; and the business of life interrupted for a 
quarter of an hour, with little emotion even amongst the 
bieady walkers who heeded not the spectacle: it was a 
thing of course. And so was the pillory in earlier times. 
Gay says nothing of the feelings of the passer-on ; he hdd 
only to take care of his clothes : — 

' Where, elevated o'er the gaping crowd, 
Clasp'd in the board the perjur'd bead is bow*d, 
Betimes retreat ; here, thick as hailstones pour, 
Turnips and half-batchM eggs, a mingled shower, 
Among the rabble rain : some random throw 
May with the trickling yolk thy cheek o*erflow.' 

People used to talk of these things as coolly as Garrard 
wrote to Lord Straflford of them : * No mercy showed to 
Prynne ; he stood in the pillory, and lost his first ear in a 
pillory in the palace at Westminster in full term ; his other 
in Cheapside, where, while he stood, his volumes were 
burnt under his nose, which had almost suffocated him.'* 
The cruelty is not mitigated by the subsequent account of 
Grarrard, that Mr. Prynne 'hath got his ears sewed on 
that they grow again, as before, to his head.'t If the 
mob round the pillory was safely passed, there was another 
mob often to be encountered. Rushing along Cheapside 
or Covent Garden, or by the Maypole in the Strand, came 
the foot-ball playera. It is scarcely conceivable, when 
London had settled into civilization, little more than a cen- 
tury ago — when we had our famed Augustan age of Addi- 
Bons and Popes, — when laced coats, and flowing wigs, and 

♦ Straffoid's Letters, vol. 1. p. 261. f W- P- 266. 



304 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

silver buckles, ventured into the streets, and the beau 
prided himself on 

* The nloe condact of a clouded cane, — * 

that the great thoroughfares through which men now 
move, * intent on high designs/ should be a field for foot- 
ball:— 

' The prentice qxiits his shop to join the crew ; 
Increasing crowds the fijring game pursue.** 

This is no poetical fiction. It was the same immediately 
after the Eestoration. D'Avenant's Frenchman thus com- 
plains of the streets of London : — 

' I would now make a safe retreat, but that methinks I 
am stopped by one of your heroic games, called foot-ball ; 
which I conceive (under your favour) not very conveniently 
civil in the streets; especially in such irregular and 
narrow roads as Crooked-lane. Yet it argues your courage, 
much like your military pastime of throwing at cocks. 
But your mettle would be more magnified (since you have 
long allowed those two valiant exercises in the streets) to 
draw your archers from Finsbury, and, during high market 
let them shoot at butts in Cheapside.'t 

It was the same in the days of Elizabeth. To this game 
went the sturdy apprentices, with all the tiain of idlen in 
a motley population ; and when their blood was up, as it 
generally was in this exercise, which Stul^s callfi 'a 
bloody and murthering practice, rather than a fellowlj 
sport or pastime,' they had little heed to the passengers is 
the streets, whether tiiere was passing by 

< a velvet justice with a long 
Great train of hlue-coats, twelve or fourteen strong;'! 

or a gentle lady on her palfrey, wearing her • visor xn|ideof 
velvet.'§ The courtier, described in Hall, had an awful 
chance to save his *periwinke' in such an encounter: 

* Trivia, t Entertainment at Rutland House. I Donne, § Stnblw. 



, TRIVIA. 305 

when, with his * bonnet vail'd/ according to the ' courtosieft ' 
; of his time, 

* Tntrelling along in London way/ 

he has \o recover his * auburn locks ' from the ' ditcli * that 
crosses the thoroughfare. 

The days we are noticing were not those of pedesti'ians. 
The * red-heel'd shoes ' of the time of Anne were as little 
suited for walking as the * pantofles * of Elizabeth, * whcrt'of 
some be of white leather, some of black, and some of red ; 
some of black velvet, some of white, some of red, some of 
green, rayed, carved, cut, and stitched all over with silk, 
and laid on with gold, silver, and such like.* So Stubbes 
describes the * corked shoes ' of his day ; and he adds, what 
seems very apparent, *to go abroad in them as they 
are now used altogether, is rather a let or hindrance to a 
man than otherwise/* These fine shoes belonged to the 
transition state between the horse and the coach ; when 
men were becoming * effeminate * in the use of the new 
vehicles, which we have seen the Water-Poet denounced ; 
and the highways of London were not quite suited to the 
walker. Shoes such as those are ridiculed by Stubbes as 
* nnea.sy to go in ;' and he adds, ' they exaggerate a moun- 
tain of mire, and gather a heap of clay and baggage to- 
gethei*.* 

When the coach and the chair were fairly launched into 
the streets of London, they held joint possession for more 
than a century and a half. We have no doubt that the 
chair was a most flourishing invention. The state of the 
pavement till the middle of the last century must have 
rendered carriage conveyance anything rather than safe 
and pleasant. Dulaure tells us that before the time of 
Louis XIV. the streets of Paris were so narrow, particu- 
larly in the heart of the town, that carriages could not | 
penetrate into them.^ D'Avenant's picture of London, j 
before the fire, is not much more satisfactory : * Sure your : 
ancestors contrived your narrow streets in the days of 

• Anatomy of Abuaes. f Histoiie de Paris, tome ix., p. 482. I 

X 



306 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 



wheelbarrows, before those greater engines, carts, were 
invented. Is yonr climate so hot that as you walk m 
need umbrellas of tiles to intercept the sun ; or are youi 
shambles so empty that you are afraid to take in fresh air, 
lest it should sharpen your stomachs? Oh, the godly 
landskip of Old Fish Street ! which, had it not had the ill 
luck to be crooked, was narrow enough to have been your 
ftiunder's perspective : and where the garrets (perhaps not 
for want of architecture, but through abundance of amity], 
are so made, that opposite neighbours may shake haud^ 
without stirring from home.' 

The (chair had a better chance than the coach in sucl 
a state of affairs. In the pictures of coaches of the tint 
of Elizabeth, the driver sits on a bar, or narrow chair 
very low behind the horses. In those of Charles I. b' 
sometimes drives in this way, 
and sometimes rides as a pose- 
lion. But the hackney-coachimE 
after the Restoration is a pemi 
age with a short whip and spun 
he has been compelled to nivci 
one of his horses, that he id.» 




\ 



more 



manage 



b 



effectually 
progress through the narr:^ 
streets. His coach, too, is ' 
small affair. D' Avenant descril^ 
the coaches as 'uneasily hm; 
and so narrow , that I took tbc- 
fop sedans on wheels.' As tl- 
streets were widened, after i: 
fire, the coachman was restore- 
to the dignity of a seat on - 
carriage ; for, in the time* 
William III. and Anne, we invariably find him sitting •- 
a box. This was a thing for use and not for finery. Be- 
or in a leather pouch appended to it, the careful it- 
carried a hammer, pincers, nails, ropes, and other apF- 
ances in case of n6ed ; and the hammei^-cloih vas devisjc- 
/■' ' 



Hackney CoMcbxnan, leso. 



TRIVIA. ' 307 

conceal these necessary but unsightly remedies for broken 
wheels and shivered panels. The skill of this worthy 
artist in the way of reparation would not rust for want of 
use. Gay has left us two vivid pictures of the common 
accidents of the days of Anne. The carman was the 
terror of coaches from the first hour of their use ; and 
whether he was the regular city carman, or bore the 
honour of the dustman, brewer's man, or coal-heaver, he 
was ever the same vociferous and reckless enemy of the 
more aristocratic coachman. 

' IVe seen a beau, in some ill-fnted hour, 
When o'er the stones chok*d kennels swell the shower. 
In gilded chariot loll ; he with disdain 
Views spatter'd passengers all drench'd in rain. 
With mad filled high, the rumbling cart draws near ; — 
Now rule thy prancing steeds, lac'd charioteer : 
The dustman lashes on with spiteful rage. 
His ponderous spokes thy painted wheel engage ; 
Crush'd is thy pride, down falb the shrieking beau, 
The slabby pavement crystal fragments strew ; 
Black floods of mire th* embroider'd coat disgi-ace. 
And mud enwraps the honours of his face.' 

The dangers of opened vaults, and of mightj' holes in the 
paving* fenced round with no protecting rail, and illumi- 
nated only by a glimmering rushlight in a dark street, 
seem to belong altogether to some barbaric region which 
never could have been London : — 

* Where a dim gleam the paly lantern throws 
O'er the mid pavement, heapy rubbish grows. 
Or arched vaults their gaping jaws extend. 
Or the dark caves to common-shores descend ; 
Oft by the winds extinct the signal lies, 
Or smother'd in the glimmering socket dies 
Ere Night has half roUM round her ebon throne ; 
In the wide gulf the shatter'd coach o'erthrown 
Sinks with the snorting steeds ; the reins are broke. 
And from the crackling axle flies the spoke.' 

But long after Gay's time the carmen and the pave- 

, 'xaftut made havoc with coaches. If we open Hogarth, the 

gi'eat painter of manners shows us the vehicular dangers of 

X 2 



308 ONCE. UPON A TIME. 

his age. Bonfires in the streets on rejoicing nights, with 
the ' Flying coach/ that went five miles an honr, over- 
turned in the flames ;* the fonr lawyers getting out of a 
hackney-coach that has come in collision with a carman, 
while the brewer's man rides npon his shaft in somniferous 
majesty ;t the dustman's bell, the little boy's drum, the 
^knife-grinder's wheel, all in the middle of the street, to 
the terror of horses ;{ these representations exhibit the 
perils that assailed the man who ventured into a coach. 
The chair was no doubt safer, but it had its inconveniences. 
Swift describes the unhappy condition of a fop during a 
• City Shower :'— 

* Box'd in a chair the bean impatient site. 
While spoutA run clattering o*er the roof by fits ; 
And ever and anon with frightful din 
The leather sounds ; — ^he trembles from within !' 

The chairmen were very absolute fellows. They crowded 
round the tavern-doors, waiting for shilling customers: 
but they did not hesitate to set down their box when s 
convenient occasion offered for the recreation of a foaming 
mug.§ They were for the most part sturdy Milesians, 
revelling, if they belonged to the aristocracy, in all the 
finery of embroidered coats and epaulettes, and cocked bats 
and feathers. If they were hackney-chairmen they asserted 
their power of the strong arm, and were often daring enough 
as a body to influence the fate of Westminster and Middle- 
sex elections, in the terror which they produced with fist 
and bludgeon. They, and the whole race of bullying and 
fighting ministers of transit, belonged to what Fielding 
termed * The Fourth Estate.' That dignity is now assigned 
to the Press. Civilization has been too strong for Bar- 
barism. 

An ingenious Frenchman thus describes the populace of 
England : — * The people of the inferior classes are distin- 
guished by a brutishness of which one can scarcely form an 

♦ Night. t Second Stage of Cruelty. % Enraged Musician. 
§ Hogarth'a Beer Street. 



TRIVU. 



309 



idea. Abandoned from their infancy to all the excesRes of 
drunkenness, they display in their whole conduct a spirit 
of rudeness, of bluntness, and of quarrelsomeness, which 
engenders those pugilistic encounters of which we have 
heard so much. Almost all have acquired a deadly aptness 




The PAluce Gate, St. James's. 

in this bloody exercise : rarely does a holiday pass away 
without a fatal encounter. Noblemen themselves (for 
England, in its respect for the Golden Calf, has preserved 
its great barons, the source of all its riches), and even Peers 
of Parliament, take part sometimes in these street-fights 
and these porters' quarrels.' 
There is an English writer who is equally severe upon 



810 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

the * brutifihness ' of the ' fourth eetate.' He Ls speakbg 
most seriously when he oomplains that *the mob' attack 
well-dressed river passengers ' with all kinds of scorriloiu, 
abusive, and indecent terms ;' — ^that they insult foot passen- 
gers by day, and knock them down by night; — that no 
coach can pass along the streets without the utmost diffi- 
culty and danger, because the carmen draw their wagons 
across the road, while they laugh at the sufferers from tbo 
alehouse window ; — and finally, that they insult ladies of 
fashion, and drive them from the Park of a Sunday evening. 

But these two descriptions of great masses of the people 
are not contemporaneous. The Frenchman writes in a work 
still in course of publication — ' Encyclop<$die Catholique ; 
K^pertoire Universel ' — which in 1848 had reached eighteen 
quarto volumes. The Englishman is Henry Fielding, who, 
if we may judge from concurrent testimony, takes no exag- 
gerated view of the lower London Life of the year 1752.* 
We trust the Frenchman is a little behind the present time. 

Let us turn again to Hogarth's print of '^'ight' — the 
scene. Charing Cross. It is a bonfire night. The fagot 
blazes in the centre of the narrow street; the dozen far- 
thing candles illuminafe the barber's window; the light 
gleams from the watchman's lanthom, as he leads homt* 
the drunken freemason : but there is not a lamp to make 
* darkness visible ' when the rioting is over. London wa:$ 
then utterly without a Police. The scene in the night-cellar 
of * Industry and Idleness,' where a murdered man is cast 
into a vault without any attempt at secresy, was the repre- 
sentation of a common occurrence in 1746; for in *Ilie 
Blood Bowl House,* near Water Lane, Fleet Street, of which 
this is a representation, Uhere seldom passed a month 
without the commission of a murder.'f Fielding tells us 
that in 1753, in the month of August, he *was almost 
fatigued to death with several long examinations, relating 
to five different murders, all committed within the space of 
a week, by different gangs of street-robbers.* 

* Coveot Garden Journal, No. 49. f Biographical Anecdotes of Uogartb. 



TRIVIA. 



311 



The establisbment of the watch in cities by Henry III. 
was the Erst step towards a preveniivQ police. But it is 
not easy to comprehend how, nearly five hundred years 
afterwards (in 1744), London should have been in such a 
state that the Lord Mayor and Aldermen went up with an 
address to the King, representing * that divers confederacies 
of great numbers of evil-disposed persons, armed with bhid- 




Tx)nd<»ii Stret't-Ughts, 1760. 

p:eons, pistols, cutlasses, and other dangerous weapons, in- 
fect not only the private lanes and passages, but likewise 
the public streets and places of usual concourse, and commit 
most daring outrages upon the persons of your Majesty's 
good subjects, whose affairs oblige them to pass through the 
streets, by terrifying, robbing, and wounding them ; and 
these facts are frequently perpetrated at such times as were 



312 OXCE UPON A TIME. 

heretofore deemed hours of security.' If in the ' hours of 
security ' armed gangs thus destroyed the safety of ordinary 
life, what must they have been in the hours of darkness, 
when a feeble light was hung out here and there from six 
to eleven o'clock, and after that the city was surrendered 
to gloom and rapine? In the first fifty years of the 
eighteenth century we should assuredly have thought that 
society had settled into order and security. These atro- 
cities could not have existed without a most lamentablf 
veakiiess in the government. Everything was left to tbe 
narrow-minded local authorities. There was no central 
power. The government (what a misnomer !) had nothing 
to do but to make war, and to hang. The Lord Mayor ami 
Aldermen cried, ' Hang, hang!' 'Permit us, sir, to express 
our ho[)e8 that a speedy, rigorous, and exemplary execution 
of tbe laws upon the persons of offenders, as they shall fall 
into the hands of justice, may, under your Majesty's princely 
wisdom, conduce greatly to the suppressing these enormities, 
by stnking teiTor into the wicked, and preventing otheiv 
from entering into such evil coulees.' And the King pri"'- 
mised he would bang : * Nothing shall be wdnting on my 
part to put the laws in execution, to support the magistrates 
rigorously to punish such heinous offenders. ' Some person:^, 
wbosi' good deeds, like those of many others, have fallen 
into oblivion, suggested a wiser course; and Maitland, the 
historian of the city, from whose works we collect these n- 
markable facts, tells us, • thui year was enacted another Act 
of Parliament for making more effectual provision for en- 
lightening the streets of this city.' A mental illumination 
had been required before this desirable event. 

Dr. Johnson has given us a picture of the dangers of 
Night in London, about this period of partial illumination: 

• Prepare for death if here at night you roam. 
And sign your will before you sup from home. 
Some fiery fop, with new commission vain. 
Who sleeps on brambles till he kUls his man. — 
Some frolic drunkard, reeling from a feast, 
Provokes a broil, and stabs you for a jest. 



TRIVIA. 



313 



Yet even these heroes, mischievously gay, 
Lords of the street and terrors of the way, 
Flush'd as they are with folly, youth, and wine, 
Their prudent insults to the poor confine: 
Afar they mark the flambeau's bright approach. 
And shun the shining train and golden coach/ 

This, then, was the age of flambeaux and link-boys. 
Liondon had only still its lanthoms here and there, and its 
few glass lamps. Westminster was perhaps worse provided. 
But the coach rolled from the theatre and the ball with its 




liveried torch-bearers; and even the present century lias 
seen flambeaux in London. The intelligent antiquary — not 
he who discovers nothing of antiquity but what is buried 
in the earth or described in the classics — may behold a relic 



314 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

of the manners of a hundred years ago in some of our exist- 
ing squares and streets, that have stood up against the ca- 
prices of fashion. On each side the door-way, and generally 
attached to th& posts that carry an arching lamp-rail, are 
two instruments that look like the old tin horn of the ciier 
of 'great news.' They are the flambeaux extinguishers: 
and when the gilded coach was dragged heavily along at 
midnight to the mansion (people of fiEtshion once went to 
bed at midnight), and the principal door was closed upon 
the lords and ladies of the great house, the footmen thrust 
their torches into these horn-like cavities, and, as the horse* 
moved oif by instinct to their stables, the same footmen 
crept down the area in utter darkness. There was perhap^ 
a solitary link-boy at the comer of the square, especially if 
an open cesspool, or a little lake of mud, promised a locality 
where gentlemen without his aid might byeak their necks 
or soil their stockings. But he generally hovered about the 
theatres and taverns. Gay describes * the officious link-boy V 
smoky light;' but he has also given the fraternity a bad 
character : — 

* Though thou art tempted by the link-man's call. 
Yet trust him not along the lonely wall ; 
In the mid-way he '11 quench the flaming brand, 
And share the booty with the pilfering band. 
Still keep the public iitreets, where oily rays, 
Shot from the crystal lamp, o'erspread thy ways.' 

Oily rays, and crystal lamps ! The very existence of the 
' link-men,' and ' the pilfering band * tells us to what extent 
the illumination reached, and what were dignified by the 
name of * public streets.' 

But the age of lamps was really approaching. The city 
became vigorous in lighting, when it was found that seve- 
rity did little against the thieves; and the AVestminster 
Paving and Lighting Act was passed in 1762. Then came 
the glories of the old lamp-lighters ; — the progress through 
each district to trim the wicks in a morning — and the 
tenible skurry, with ladders driven against your breast, 
and oil showered upon your head, as twilight approached. 



TRIVU. 



315 



What a twinkling then was there through all the streets ! 
But we were proud of our lamps ; and Beckmann, in his 
* History of Inventions,* has described them as something 
like a wonder of the world. Bepeath the faint lamp slept 
the watchman; or, if he 
walked, he still walked 
with his lanthom; and 
the link-boy, yet a need- 
ful auxiliary to the lamp 
and the lanthom, guided 
the reeling gentleman 
from his tavern to his 
lodging. 

'The Silent Woman,' 
one of the most popular 
of Ben Jonson's comedies, 
presents to us a more 
vivid picture than can 
elsewhere be found of the 
characteristic noises of the 
streets of London more 
than two centuries ago. It 
is easy to form to ourselves a general idea of the hum and 
buzz of the bees and drones of this mighty hive, under a 
state of manners essentially different from our own ; but it 
is not so easy to attain a lively conception of the particular 
sounds that once went to make up this great discord, and 
so to compare them in their resemblances and their differ- 
ences with the roar which the great Babel now * sends through 
all her gates.' 

The principal character of Jonson's ' Silent Woman ' is 
founded upon a sketch by a Greek writer of the fourth cen- 
tury, Libanius. Jonson designates this character by the 
name of * Morose ;' and his peculiarity is that he can bear 
no kind of noise, even that of ordinary talk. The plot turns 
upon this affectation ; for, having been entrapped into a 
marriage with the Silent W^oman, she and her friends assail 
him with tongues the most obstreperous, and clamours the 




Link-boy. 



316 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

most uproarions, until, to be relieved of this nuisance, be 
comes to terms with his nephew for a portion of his fortune, 
and is relieved of the silent woman, who is in reality a boy 
in disguise. We extract the dialogue which will form a 
text to our paper ; the speakers being Truewit, Clerimont, 
and a Page : — 

* True. I met that stiff piece of formality, his uncle, yes- 
terday, with a huge txirban of night-caps on his head, 
buckled over his ears. 

* Clet\ O ! that's his custom when he walks abroad. He 
can endure no noise, man. 

* True, So I have heard. But is the disease so ridiculous 
in him as it is made ? They say he has been upon divcre 
treaties with the fish- wives and orange-women ; and articlei? 
propounded between them : marry, the chimney-sweepers 
will not be drawn in. 

* Cler, No, nor the broom-men ; they stand out stiflSy. 
He cannot endure a costard-monger ; he swoons if he hears 
one. 

* Tnie. Me thinks a smith should be ominous. 

* Cler. Or any hammer-man. A brasier is not suffered 
to dwell in the parish, nor an armourer. He would 
have hang*d a pewterer's 'prentice once upon a Shrove- 
Tuesday's riot, for being of that trade, when the i*e8t were 
quit. 

* True, A trumpet should fright him terribly, or tbe 
hautboys. 

* Cler. Out of his senses. The waits of the city have a 
pension of him not to come near that ward. This youtb 
practised on him one night like the bellman, and never 
left till he had brought him down to the door with a long 
sword ; and there left him flourishing witiii the air. 

' Page. Why, sir, he hath chosen a street to lie in, so 
narrow at both ends that it will receive no coaches, nor 
carts, nor any of these common noises : and therefore we 
that love him devise to bring him in such as we may, now 
and then, for his exercise, to breathe him. He would grow 
resty else in his cage ; his virtue would rust without action. 



TRIVIA. 317 

I entreated a bearward, one day, to come down with the 
dogs of some four parishes that way, and I thank him he 
did ; and cried his games under Master Morose*s window ; 
till he was sent crying away, with his head made a most 
bleeding spectacle to the multitude. And, another time, a 
fencer marching to his prize ^had his drum most tragically 
run through, for taking that street in his way at my 
request. 

' True, A good wag ! How does he for the bells ? 

* Cler. 1 in the queen's time he was wont to go out of 
town every Saturday at ten o'clock, or on holyday eves. 
But now, by reason of the sickness, the perpetuity of ring- 
ing has made him devise a room with double walls and 
treble ceilings ; the windows close shut and caulk'd ; and 
there he lives by candlelight.' 

Was Hogarth familiar with the old noise-hater when he 
conceived his own * Enraged Musician ?' In this extraor- 
dinary gathering together of the producers of the most 
discordant sounds we have a representation which may 
fairly match the dramatist's description of street noises. 
Here we have the milkmaid's scream, the mackerel-seller's 
shout, the sweep upon the house-top, — to match the fish- 
wives and orange-women, the broom-men and costard- 
mongers. The smith, who was ' ominous,* had no longer 
his forge in the busy streets of Hogarth's time ; the ar- 
mourer was obsolete : but Hogarth can rival their noises 
with the paviour's hammer, the sow-gelder's horn, and the 
knife-grinder's wheel. The waits of the city had a pension 
not to come near Morose's ward ; but it was out of the power 
of the ' Enraged Musician ' to avert the terrible discord of 
the blind hautboy-player. The bellman, who frightened 
the sleepers at midnight, was extinct ; but modem London 
had acquired the dustman's bell. The bear-ward no longer 
came down the street with the dogs of four parishes, nor 
did the fencer march with a drum to his prize ; but there 
was the ballad-singer, with her squalling child, roaring 
worse than bear or dog ; and the drum of the little boy 
playing at soldiers was a more abiding nuisance than the 



318 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

fencer. Morose and the * Enraged Musician' had each the 
church-bells to fill up the measure of discord. 

But London has lost most of its individual noises. In our 
own days there has been legislation for the benefit of tender 
ears ; and there are now penalties, with police constables 
to enforce them, against all persons blowing any horn or 
using any other noisy instrument, for the purpose of i»ll- 




Uorn-men.— 'Great News!' 

ing persons together, or of announcing any show or enter- 
tainment, or for the purpose of hawking, selling, distribut- 
ing, or collecting any article, or of obtaining money or 
alms. These enactments are stringent enough to hare 
banished from our streets aU those uncommon noises which 
did something to relieve the monotony of the one endless 
roar of the tread of feet and the rush of wheels. The street 
noise now is deafening when we are in the midst of it: 
but in some secluded place, such as Lincoln's Inn Gardens, 
it is the ever-present sullen sound of angry waves dashing 
upon the shingles. The horn that proclaimed extraordinaiy 



TRIVIA. 



319 



Dew8, running to and fro among peaceful squares and se- 
cluded courts, was sometimes a relief. The bell of the 
dustman was not altogether unpleasant. In the twilight 
hour, when the shutters were not yet closed, and the candles 
were not yet burning, the tinkle of the muflBn-man had 
something in it very sooth- 
ing. It is gone. But the 
legislators have still left us 
our street-music. There was 
talk of its abolition ; but they 
have satisfied themselves with 
enacting that musicians, on 
being warned to depart from 
the neighbourhood of the 
house of any householder by 
the occupier or his servant, 
or by a police-constable, incur 
a penalty of forty shillings 
by refusal. De la Serre, who 
came to England with Mary 
de Medici, when she visited 
the Queen of Charles I., is 
enthusiastic in his praises of the street-music of London : 
— -' In all public places, violins, hautboys, and other kinds 
of instruments are so common, for the gratification of 
individuals, that in every hour of the day our ears may be 
charmed with their sweet melody/ England was then a 
musical nation ; but from that time nearly to our own her 
street-music became a thing to be legislated against. 

In the days of Elizabeth, and of James and Charles, the 
people were surrounded with music, and imbued with 
musical associations. The cittern was heard in every 
barber's shop; and even up to the publication of the 
' Tatler ' it was the same : • Go into a barber's anywhere, no 
matter in what district, and it is ten to one you will hear 
the sounds either of a fiddle or guitar, or see the instruments 
hanging up somewhere.' The barbers or their apprentices 
were the performers : • If idle, they pass their time in life- 




Mufl^-maD, lij4l. 



320 ONCE UPON A' TIME. 

delighting music' Thus writes a pamphleteer of 1597. 
Doctor King, about the beginning of the last century, ibimd 
the barbers degenerating in their accomplishments, and he 
assigns the cause : ' Turning themselves to periwig-making, 
they have forgot their cittern and their music' The cittom 
twanged then in the barbers' shops in the fresh tnon&af^ 
especially; and then came forth the carman to bear his 
loads through the naiTow thoroughfares. He also was 
musical. We all know how Falstaff describes Justice 
Shallow : * He came ever in the rear- ward of the fiisfalon, 
and sung those tunes to the over-scutched housewives that 
he heard the carmen whistle.' He had a large stock of 
tunes. In Ben Jonson's * Bartholomew Fair,' one of the 
characters exclaims, * If he meet but a carman in the street 
and I find him not loth to keep him off of him, he will 
whistle him and all his tunes over at night in his rieep.' 
Half a century later even, * barbers, cobblers, and plovrmesn.* 
were enumerated as * the heirs of music' Who doee not 
perceive that when Isaac Walton's milkmaid sings, — 

* Come live with me and be my love,* 

she is doing nothing remarkable ? These charming words 
were the common possession of all. The people were the 
heirs of poetry as well as of music They had their own 
delicious madrigals to sing, in which music was ' mttrried 
to immortal verso,'-— ^and they could sing them. Moriey. 
writing in 1597, says, * Supper being ended, and vmsic- 
books, according to custom, being brought to the taUe, the 
mistress of the house presented me with a party eamestlr 
requesting me to sing; but when, after many excuses, I 
protested unfeignedly that I could not, every one began to 
wonder — yea, some whispered to others, demanding how I 
was brought up.' In a condition of society like this, the 
street music must have been worth listening to. * A noLv 
of musicians,' as a little band was called, was to be found 
everywhere ; and they attended upon the guests in tavenu: 
and ordinaries, and at ' good men's feasts ' in private houses. 
In ' The Silent Woman,' it is said, ' The smell of the venison. 






TRIVIA. 321 

going tikrongh the streets, will invite one noise of fiddlers 
or other ;' and again, ' They have intelligence of all feasts ; 
there's good correspondence betwixt them and the London 
cooks.' Feasts were then not mere occasions for gluttony 
and drtinkenness, as they became in the next generation. 
Ah the drunkenness went on increasing, the taste for music 
went on diminishing. In the next century, the ' Tatler ' 
writes, *• In Italy nothing is more frequent than to hear a 
cobbler working to an opera tune ; but, on the contrary, 
our honest countrymen have so little an inclination to music, 
that they seldom begin to sing till they are drunk.' Thus 
we went on till the beginning of the present century, and 
indeed later. The street-music was an indication of the 
popular tdste. Hearth's blind hautboy-player, and his 
shrieking ballad-singer, are no caricatures. The execrable 
sounds which the lame and the blind produced were the 
mere arts of mendicancy. The principle of extorting money 
by hideous sounds was carried as far as it could go by a 
fellow of the name of Keeling, called Blind Jack, who 
performed on the flageolet with his nose. Every description 
of street exbibition was accompanied with these terrible 
noises. The vaulter, and the dancing lass, and the tumbler 
creeping through a hoop, and the puppet-showman, and the 
dancing dogs, and the bear and monkey, had each their 
own peculiar din, whether of drum, fiddle, horn, or bag- 
pipes, compared with which the music of Morose's bear- 
ward and fencer would have been ad the harmony of the 
spheres. 




■-*'^'' i- 



The Library, Strawberry klU. 

WALPOLE^S WORLD OF FASflilOX* 



' When I was very young, and in the height of the opposi- 
tion to my father, my mother wanted a large parcel of 
bugles ; for what use I forget. As they were then out oi 
fafi^ion, she coiild get none. At last she was told of » 
quantity in a little shop in an otscure alley in the Citv. 
We drove thither ; found a great stock ; she bought it, and 
bade the proprietor send it home. He said, " Wliithert" 
'* To Sir Robert Walpole's." He asked, coolly, «' Who is .^ 
Bobert Walpde?*''* 

* WTiot was Strawberry Hill ?' might be a similar question 
With many persons, werfe we not living in a somewtat 
different age from that oi Sif Robert Walpole. Horace 
Walpole*s Strawberry Hill is gone. lis plade is teihg 
(Occupied with trim villas, inhabited by a class of whi)se 
^iistence WMlfydfe would hal^(5 beeii as ignOrailt aft {hfe Vi\y 

* Hflriioc Walpole tb the Miia Berryi, Mtrtsh 5, 1701; 



WALPOLE S WORLD OF FASHION. 323 

shopkeeper was of the great Sir Robert, llie maker of 
Strawberry Hill— the builder-up of its galleries, and tri- 
bunes, and Holbein-chambers — the arranger of its ^ painted 
glass and gloom ' — the collector of its pictures, and books, 
aud bijouterie, sa^'^s of himself, ' I am writing, I am build- 
ing — both works that will outlast the memory of battles 
aud heroes ! Truly, I believe, the one will as much as 
t'other. My buildings aie paper, like my writings, and 
hijth will be blown away in ten years after I am dead : 
if they had not the substantial use of amusing me while I 
live, they would be worth little indeed.** Horace Wal- 
pole himself prevented the I'calisatiun of his own prophecy. 
It was said of him, even during his lifetime, ' that he had 
outlived three s*cts of his own battlements ;' but he never- 
theless contrived, by tying up his toy- warehouse and its 
moveables with entails and jointures through several gene- 
rations, to keep the thing tolerably entire for nearly half a 
century after he had left that state of being where ' moth 
and dust do corrupt.' And though the paper portion of 
his * works ' — his ' Boyal and Noble Authors,' his ' Anec- 
dotes of Painting,* his * Historic Doubts,' <fec. — are fontied 
of materials not much* more durable than his battlements, 
he was during a long life scattenng about the world an 
abundance of other paper fragments, that ^ have not only 
lasted ten, twenty, thirty, forty, lifty years after he 
vraA dead, but which aftertimes will not willingly let 
die. It was in Strawberry Hill that the every-day 
thoughts and experiences for the most pai-t centred that 
have made the letters of Horace Walpole the best record 
of the manners of the upper ranks during half a century, 
when very great social changes were working all around. 
Sti-awberry Hill and Horace Walpole are inseparably 
associated in our minds. The house in Arlington Street, 
from which he sometimes dates, is like most other West- 
end houses, a thing distinguished only by its number ; 
and which has no more abiding associations than the 

* Honoe Walpole (o Conway, August 5, 1761. 

Y 2 



324 OKCE UPON A TIME. 

chariot which rolled on from its first drawing-Toom 
through the uecessary decay of cracked varnish and split 
panels, until its steps displayed the nakedness of their 
oiiginal iron, and the dirty rag that was once a carpet was 
finally succeeded by the luxuiy of clean straw once a week. 
We cannot couceive Horace W alpole in a house with thvM 
windows upon a floor, in a foimal row of ugly brick 
brethren. It is in Strawberry Hill, in the ' little parlour 
hung with a stone colour Gothic paper, and TjiAjWIII'd 
Venetian prints' — or in the 'charming closet hm^.^Si 
green paper, and water-colour pictures '—or in • ibti ifMVi 
where we always live, hung with a blue and whtl# praft 
in stripes, adorned with festoons' — that we fBnfftf &i 
writing to Montc^u, Mann, Chute, and Conway, itt Ike 
days when * we pique ourselves upon nothing but sivpfr- 
city,' and Lady Townshend exclaimed of the hom^ *I^i* 
just such a house as a parson's, where the childtas Bcf lit 
the foot of the bed.' In a few years the owner had t^MMs 
of galleries, and round towers, and cloisters, and dbtifffm'^ 
and then the house became filled with kingly a imottfe MW 
rare pictures, and cabinets of miniatures by OHfi|i|i|i|d 
Petitot, and Baffaelle china. Then, when StrawbenjSpi 
came to the height of it« glory, the owner kept * iW^lii 
the sign the Gothic Castle,' and his whole timtf'Vib 
passed in giving tickets for seeing it, and hiding lihisiilf 
while it was seen.* Lastly came the time when the dd 
man was laid up for weeks with the gout, and the build- 
ing and curiosity-buying' was at an end ; and after tile 
Duchess of York had come to see his hoiise in 179S» ythim 
he put a carpet on the step of his gate, and matted his 
court, and presented chocolate upon a salver, he says, bere 
* will end my connexions with courts, beginning widi 
George the First, great-great- great-grand&ther to the 
Duchess of York ! It sounds as if there could not have 
been above three gelierations more before Adam.' There 
never was a^^^ce so associated with the memory of one 
man 9^,^^ yy Hill is with Horace Walpole. 

^ice Walpole to \foatagii, Sept. 8, 1763. 

i 



WALTX>LE S WORLD OF FASHION. 



325 



The letters of Horace Walpole cannot at all be regarded 
as « picture of society in general. He has no distinct 
notiou whatever of the habits of the middle classes. So- 
ciety with him is divided into two gi-eat sections— the 
aristocracy and the mob. He was made by his times; 
mud this is one of the remarkable features of his times. 




The Oalleiy, Strawljerrj- HJII. 



With all his sympathy for literature, he has a decided 
hatred for authors that are out of the pale of fashion. 
Fielding, Johnson, Sterne, Goldsmith, the greatest names 
of his day, are with him ridiculous and contemptible. 
He cannot be regarded, therefore, as a representative of the 
literary classes of his times. As the son of a great minister 
he was petted and flattered till his father fell from his 
power; be says himself he had then enough of flattery. 
When he mixed among his equals in the political intrigues 
of the time, he displayed no talent for business or oratory. 
His feeble constitution compelled him to seek amusement 



326 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

iiiBtead of dissipation ; and his great amusement ww to 
look upon the follies of his associates and to laugh at them: 
He was not at bottom an ill-natured man, or one without 
feeling. He affected that insensibility which is tlie ex-^ 
elusive privilege of high .life— and long may it continne bo. 
When Lord Mountford shot himself, and another Lord re^ 
joiced that his friend's death would allow him to hire the 
best cook in England, the selfish indifference was probably 
more affected than real. Walpole himself takes off his 
own mask on one occasion. When he heard of Gray's 
death, in writing to Chute he apologises for the concern 
he feels, and adds, ' I thought that what I had seen of 
the world had hardened my heart; but I find that it 
had formed my language, not extinguished ray tendeniees.* 
When he speaks of individuals we may occasionally think 
that the world had formed his language ; he is too often 
spiteful and malicious : but when he describes a class he is 
not likely much to exaggerate. The esprit de corps would 
render him somewhat charitable : if he did not * extenuate * 
he would not set down * in malice,* when he was holding 
up a mirror of hinjself and of the very people with whom 
he was corresponding. 

In the early part of the last century London saw less of 
the wealth and splendour of the aristocracy than previous 
to the Revolution. The great political divisions of the 
kingdom kept many families away from the Court; and 
the habits of the first Elector of Hanover who walked into 
the ownership of St. James's, and of his son and successor, 
were not very likely to attract the proud and the discon- 
tented frem the scenes of their own proper greatne^. 
W^alpole, writing from Newmarket in 1743, says, 'How 
dismal, how solitary, how scrub does this town look : and 
yet it has actually a street of houses better than Parma or 
Modena ! Nay, the houses cf the people of fashion, who 
come hither for the races, are palaces to what houses in 
London itself were fifteen years ago. People do begin to 
live again now ; and I suppose in a term we shall revert 
to York Houses, Clarendon Houses, &c. But from that 



walpole's world of fashion. 327. 

grandeur all the nobility had contracted themselves to live 
in coops of a dining-room, a dark back room, with one eye 
in a comer, and a closet. Think what London would be if 
the chief honses were in it, as. in the cities in other 
conntries, and not dispersed like great rarity-plums in a 
vaat pndding of country.' It was some time before the 
large houses of the nobility once more made London the 
magnificent capital which it subsequently became. In 
the meantime the ^ord)y tenants of thjO * coops ' above de- 
scribed spent a vast deal of their ti^e in places of public 
resort. Let ns cast a rapid glance at ihe fashionable 
amusements of the second half of the last century. 

The year 1741 presents to us a curious spectacle of the 
aristocracy and the people at issue, and almost in mortal 
conflict, not upon a question of com or taxes, but whether 
the Italian school of n^usic should prevail, or the Anglo- 
German. *The opera is to be on the French system of 
dancers, scenes, and dresses. The directors have already 
laid out great sums. They talk of a mob to silence the 
operas, as they did the French players; but it will be 
more difficult, for here half the young noblemen in tpwn 
are engaged, and they will not be so easily persuaded 1;o 
humour the taste of the mobility : in short, they have 
already retained several eminent lawyers from the Bear 
Garden to plead their defence.** The fight had been 
going on for nearly twenty years. Everybody knows 
»Swift's epigram, 

* Ontlie Feuds about Handel and Bon oncijip, 

* Strange all this difference shonld be 
Twixt Tweedle-Dom and Tweedle-Dee..' 

Walpole naturally belonged to the party of his 'order.' 
Handel had produced his great work, tiie 'Messiah,' in 
1741, at Covent Garden. Fashion was against him, though 
he was supported by the court, the mob, and the poet ofi 

• Horace Walpole to Mann, Oct. 8, 1741. 



328 ONCR UPON A TIME. 

common sense. He went to Ireland ; and the triumph of 
the Italian fiAction was thus immortalised by Pope : — 

< Cara I Cara I silence all that train : 
Joy to great Chaos I let Diyision reign : 
Chromatic tortures soon shall drive them hiaice. 
Break all their neires, and fritter all their sense : 
One tiill shall harmonise jof » grief, and rage, 
"" Wake the dull Church, and lull the ranting Stage : 

To the same notes thy sons shall hum, or snore, 
And all thy yawning daughters cry encore. 
Another Phcehus, thy own Phoebus reigns, 
Joys in my jigs, and dances in my chains. 
But soon, ah soon. Rebellion will commence. 
If Music meanly berrows aid from Sense : 
Strong in new arras, lo ! giant Handel stands. 
Like bold Briareus, with a hundred hands ; 
To stir, to rouse, to shake the soul he comes, 
And Jove's own thunders follow Mars's drums. 
An'est him, empress, or you sleep no more — 
She heard, and drove him to th' Hibernian shore.** 

Handel came back to London in 1742, and the tide then 
turned in his favour. Horace Walpole shows as how 
fashion tried to sneer him down ; he is himself the oracle 
of the divinity. * Handel has set up an oratorio against 
the operas, and succeeds. He has hired all the goddesses 
from farces, and the singers of Roast Beef from between 
the acts at both theatres, with a man with one note in h\^ 
voice, and a girl without ever a one ; and so they sing, an^ 
make brave hallelujahs; and the good company encore 
the recitative, if it happens to have any cadence like what 
ihey call a tune.'f The Italian Opera Hou^ in the Hay- 
market itself went out of fashion in a few years, and the 
nobility had their farourite house in Lincoln*s Inn Fields. 
What the Court then patronised the aristocracy rejected. 
' The late royalties went to the Haymarket, when it wan 
the fashion to frequent the other opera in Lincoln's Idb 
Fields. Lord Chesterfield one night came into the latter, 
and was asked if he had been at the other house ? '' Yes," 

* Dundad, Book IV. f Horace Walpole to Haim, Feb. 24, 1743. 



I; ;!•: il--:?AKY 



n L 



WALPOLE 8 WORLD OF FASHION. 



329 



Raid he, '* but there was nobody but the king and queen ; 
and U9 I thought they might be talking buainess, 1 came 
away." '* However, amidst all these feuds the Italian 
Opera became firmly established in London ; and through 
that interchange of taste which fortunately neither the 
prejudices of exclusiveness nor ignorance can long prevent, 
the people began gradually to appreciate the opera, and the 
nobility became enthusiastic admirers of the oratorio. 

In the days of Walpole the Theatre was fashionable ; and 
in their love of theatrical amusemonts the nobility did not 




Garrick as Macbeth. 

affect to be exclusive. In not liking Garrick when he first 
came out, Walpole and his friend Gray indulged probably 
in the fastidiousness of individual taste, instead of repre- 
senting the opinions of the fashionable or literary classes. 
Gray writes, * Did I tell you about Mr. Garrick, that the 

♦ Horace Walpole to Conway, Sept. 25, 17G1. 



830 ONCE UPOX A TIME. 

town are horn-mad after ? There are a dozen dnkes of » 
night at Goodman's Fields sometimes ; and yet I sm e^ 
in the opposition.' Walpole, in Maj, 1742, six mouths albr 
Garrick's first appearance, sajs, ' All the ran ia now after 
Garriok, a wine-merchant^ who is tamed player, at Good- 
man's Fields. He plays all parts, and is a vciy good 
mimic. His acting I have seen, and may say to yon, who 
will not tell it again here, I see nothing wonderfiil ia il: 
but it is heresy to say so : the Ihike of Ai^le says he 
is superior to Betterton.** From some canse or oilier, 
Walpole hated and vilified Garrick all his life. Bis 
pride was perhaps wounded when he was compelled to 
jostle against the actor in the best society. In the instance 
of Garrick, Pope's strong sense was again opposed to 
Walpole's super-refinement. The great poet of BnaimecB 
said to Lord Orrery on witnessing Garrick's Bichard III.. 
* That young man never bad his equal as an actor, and 
will never have a rival.' As a manager Garrick did net 
scruple to resent an injustice, however offensive to the 
leaders of the ton. * There has been a new comedy, called 
"The Foundling," far from good, but it took. Lord 
Hobart and some more young men made a party to damn 
it, merely foi* the love of damnation. The Templam 
espoused the play, and went armed with syringes charged 
with stinking* oil and with sticking plasters ; but it did 
not come to action. Garrick was impertinent^ and the 
pretty men gave over their plot the moment they grow to 
be in the right.'f The Templars with their syringes and 
stinking oil, and Lord Hobart with his ready ' damnation.' 
give one a notion of the mob legislation of the theatres at 
that period, for boxes, pit, and gallery constitnted one 
mob. There was a calm awhile, but in 1755 Walpcde 
writes : * England seems returning : for those "^o are not 
in Parliament there are nightly riots at Drury Lane, where 
there is an Anti-Gallican party against some French 
dancers. The young men of quality have protected them 

• Horace Walpole to Maiui. f Id., Manih H, 1748. 



WALP0LE*8 WORLD OP PASHIOJ^. 331 

till last night, when, heing opera-night, the galleries were 
victorious/ Walpole tells us a most amusing story of the 
manner in which these things were managed in his earlier 
clays. • The toMm has heen trying all this winter to heat 
pantomimes off the stage, very hoisteronsly ; for i* is the 
vocu/ here to make evsn an affair of taste and sense a matter of riot 
and arms, Fleetwood, the master of Drury Lane, haa 
omitted nothing to support them, as they supported his 
house. Ahout ten days ago he let into the pit great 
numbers of Bear Garden bruisers (that is the term), to 
knock down everybody that hissed. The pit rallied their 
forces and drove them out. I was sitting very quietly in 
the side-boxes, contemplating all this. On a sudden the 
curt£tin flew up, and discovered the whole stage filled with 
blackguards, armed with bludgeons and clubs, to menace 
the audience. This raised the greatest uproar ; and ampng 
the rest, who flew into a passion but your friend the philo- 
sopher! In short, one of the actors, advancing to the 
front of the stag^ to make an apology for the manager, 

he had scarce began to say, "Mr. Fleetwood "when 

your friend, with a most audible voice and dignity of 
anger, called out, '* He is an impudent rascal ?** The whole 
pit huzzaed, and repeated the words. Only think of my 
being a popular orator! But what was still better, while 
my shadow of a person was dilating to the consistence of a 
hero, one of the chief ringleaders of the riot, coming under 
the box where I sat, and pulling off his hat, said, " Mr. 
Walpole, what would you please to have us do next ?" It 
is impossible to describe to you the confusion intb which 
this apostrophe threw me. I sank down into the box, and 
have never since ventured to set my foot into the play- 
house. The next night the uproar was repeated with 
greater violence, and nothing was heard but voices calling 
out, " Where is Mr. W. ? where is Mr. W. ?" In short, the 
whole town has been entertained with my prowess, and 
Mr. Conway has given me the name of Wat Tyler.'* The 

* Horace Walpole to Mann, November 26, 1744. 



332 OXCE UPON A IIME. 

participation of people of fasbion in theatrical rows is a 
sufficient evidence of Ihe interest which they took in the 
theatre. They c^nied the matter still farther in 1751, bv 
hiring Drury Lane to act a play themselves. * The rage 
was so great to see this performance, that the ifonse <^' 
Commons literaJly adjourned at three o^dock on purpose/^ 

Yauxhall and Banelagh figure in the descriptions of the 
' Spectator ' and the * Citizen of the World,' in the ' Con- 
noisseur ' and in *' Evelina/t But none of those passage^ 
give us an adequate notion of the fashion of YauxhAU and 
Banelagh. Addison, and Goldsmith, and Miss BuraeT. 
looked upon the great crowd of all ranks as they would 
look upon life in general. Walpole saw only his ovm set : 
but how graphically has he described them ! The nierv 
suiface of the shows, the gilding and varnish of the gaietr, 
fills the imagination. At Yauxhall we see Prince Lot- 
kowitz*s footmen, in veiy rich new liveries, beariB^ 
torches, and the prince himself in a new sky-blue xratere<i 
tabby coat, with gold button-holes, and a magnificent gold 
waistcoat; and Madame TAmbassadrice de Yenise in & 
green sack, with a straw hat ; and we hear the Tiolins a£<i 
hautboys, the drums and trumpets, of the Prince if 
Wales*R barges.} Imagine such a sight in our own davb' 
And then, one-and-twenty years later in life, Walpole i-^ 
again going to Yauxhall to a ridotto alfresoOy wiih a tide am: 
torrent of, coaches so prodigious, that he is an hour and i 
half on the road before he gets half way from Arlinglcs 
Street. * lliere is to be a rival mob in the same way at 
Banelagh to-morrow ; for the greater the folly and impoe^'- 
tion, the greater is the crowd. '§ But for a little qniet, 
domestic party at Yauxhall, composed of the highest iii 
rank and fashion, Walpole is the most delightful, and, wt- 
have no doubt, the most veracious of chroniclers. Mtv 
Tibbs and the pawnbroker*s widow of Groldsmith are meit 
pretenders to coarseness by the side of Lady Caroline 

* Horace Walpole to Mann. f London, rol. i. No. 23. 

X Horace Walpole to Conway, June 27, 1748. 
§ Uomce Walpole to Montagu, May 11, 17()9. 



:•. I f<r;vv YORK 






walpole's world op fashion. 833 

Peterbham and Miss Ashe. Walpole receives a card from 
Lady Caroline in 1750 to go with her to the Gardens. 
When he calls, the ladies ' had just finished their last 
layer of red, and looked as handsome as crimson could 
make them.' All the town had been summoned ; and in 
the Mall they picked up dukes and damsels, and two 
young ladies especially, who had been *' trusted by their 
mothers for the first time of their lives to the matronly 
care of Lady Caroline.' They marched to their barge with 
a boat of French horns attending. Upon debarking at 
Yauxhall they * picked up Lord Qranby, arrived very 
drunk from " Jenny's Whim ;" where, instead of going to 
old Strafford's catacombs to make honourable love, he had 
dined with Lady Fanny, and left her and eight other 
women and four other men playing at brag.' * Jenny's 
Whim' was a tavern at Chelsea Bridge. The party as- 
semble in their booth and go to supper, after a process of 
cookery which would rather astonish a Lady Caroline of 
our own day : ' We minced seven chickens into a china 
dish, which Lady Caroline stewed over a lamp with three 
pats of butter and a flagon of water, stirring, and rattling, 
and laughing, and we every minute expecting to have 
the dish fly about our ears. She had brought Betty, the 
fruit-girl, with hampers of strawberries and cherries from 
Rogers's, and made her wait upon us, and then made her 
sup by 118 at a little table. The conversation was no less 
lively than the whole transaction.' Lady Caroline was 
not singular in her tastes. Before the accession of George 
III. it was by no means uncommon for ladies of quality to 
Hup at taverns, and even to invite the gentlemen to be of 
the company. Walpole says that in 1755 a Frenchman, 
who was ignorant of the custom, took some liberties with 
Lady Harrington, through which mistake her house was 
afterwards closed against him. This practice, which to us 
seems so startling, was a relic of the manners of a century 
earlier. The decorum of the court of George III. banished 
the custom from the upper ranks ; but it lingered amongst 
the middle classes : and Dr. Johnson thought it not in the 



334 OsrOE UPON A TDiS. 

slightest degree indecorous to say to two yomtg ladies 
who called upon him, ^ Come, you pretty fools, dine witk 
Maxwell and me at the JVIitre ;' to which the ladiea, who 
wished to consult the philosopher upon the subject ot 
Methodism, very readily assented. In the reign of tLr 
second George, and perhaps a little later, the great ladies. 
whether at taverns or in private houses, carried theL- 
vivacity somewhat farther than we should now think ouii- 
sistent with perfect propriety. Lady Coventry, at a gze&t 
supper at Lord Hertford's * said, in a very vulgar accent, 
if she drank any more she should be muckibusJ How tivz 
Americans of our own day must be shocked at the vnlgaritj 
of our aristocratic predecessors ; for thei^ will not toleiatt 
even the word drutiky and describe the condition whick 
that word conveys by the pretty epithet excUedl We 
are adopting the term ; and it may be exjiected that tk 
refinement in our nomenclature may lead to a revival of & 
little of the old liberty in our practice. Walpole exp]ai]i» 
that mucAt&M was 'Irish for sentimental.' He did noi 
foresee the change in our English. He calls things by theL* 
j-ight names. He tells us that * Lord Comwallis and Loi^ 
Allen came drunk to the Opera ;' and, what is harder t^; 
believe, that the chancellor. Lord Henley, being ckoseoft 
governor of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, ^ a smart gentle- 
man who was sent with a staff carried it in the evenine 
when the Chancellor happened to be drunk.' These exhi- 
bitions were in 1763. 

We might believe, from the well-known lines of PofK. 
that the amusement which was invented for the buIm^ 
of a mad king was the exclusive inheritance of aa «^ 
aristocracy :— 

* See how the world its veterans rewards, 
A youth of folly, an old age of cards.' 

Not 80. The cards were a part of the folly of ymA 
as well as of age. Walpole never appears to have hadtk 
passion of a gambler ; but we learn from his fifty yeais* 
correspondence that he was always well content to dabbb 



WALPOLB WORLD OF FASHION. 335 

with cards and dice, and be records his winnings with a 
very evident satisfaction. The reign of ojnbre, whose 
chances and intrigues interested the great quite as much 
as the accidents and plots of the reign of Anne, was sup- 
planted by the new dynasty of tohist ; and then whist 
yielded to the more gambling excitement of loo; to which 
Jaro succeeded ; and the very cards themselves were at last 
almost kicked out by the ivory cubes, which disposed of 
fortunes by a more summary process. In 1742 whist was 
the mania, though Walpole voted it dull : ' \V hist has 
spread a universal opium over the whole nation.' Again : 

' The kingdom of the Dull is come upon earth The 

only token of this new kingdom is a woman riding on a 
beast, which is the mother of abominations, and the name 
in the forehead is Whist ; and the four-and-twenty elders 
and the woman, and the whole town, do nothing but play 
with this beast.** Whist had a long reign. In 1749 
Walpole writes : * As I passed over the green [Richmond], 
I saw Lord Bath, Lord LoHsdale, and half-a-dozen more 
of the White's club, sauntering at the door of a house 
which they have taken there, and come to every Saturday 
and Sunday to play at whist. You will naturally ask why 
they can't play at whist in London on those days as well as 
on the other five ? Indeed I can't tell you, except that it 
is so established a fashion to go out of town at the end of 
the week, that people do go, though it be only into another 
town.'f Ministers of state, and princes who' had some- 
tiling to do, were ready to relieve the cares of business by 
l^ambling, as Inuch as other people gamed to vary their 
idleness. Lord Sandwich ^ goes once or twice a week to 
hunt with the Duke [Cumberland] ; and as the latter has 
taken a tilm of gaming, Sandwich, to make his court— and 
fortune— carries a box and dice in his pocket ; and so they 
throw A main, i^henever the hounds are at fault, ^^upon 
every gteen hill, and under every green tree." *J Five years 
later, at a magnificent ball and supper at Bedford House, 

■* Horace Walpole to Mann. f Id., June 4, 1749. 

X Id., January 31, 1750. 



336 ONCE UPON A rait. 

the Duke ' was playing at hazard with a great heap of gold 
before him : somebody said he looked like the prodigal soa 
and the fatted calf, both.'* Amongst the royal aod notie 
gamblers, swindlers par exceUerice sometimes found their 
way. There was a Sir William Burdett, whose name had 
the honour of being inscribed in the betting-room it 
White's as the subject of a wager that he would be die 
first baronet that would be hanged. He and a lady, 
* dressed foreign as a princess of the house of Branden- 
burg/ cheated Lord Castledurrow and Captain Bodn^* 
out of a handsome sum at faro. The noble victim met the 
Baronet at Ranelagh, and thus apostrophised him: 'Sir 
William, here is the sum I think I lost last night ; anoe 
that, I have heard that you are a professed pickpock^ 
and therefore desire to have no farther acquaintance with 
you.' The Baronet took the money with a respectful bow, 
and then asked his Lordship the further favour to set him 
down at Buckingham Gate, and without waiting for aa 
answer whipped into the chariot.']' No doubt the Baronet 
prospered and was smiled upon. Walpole tells another stoiv 
of a hanger-on upon the gaming-tables, which has a dasii 
of the tragic in it : ' General Wade was at a low gaming- 
house, and had a very fine snuff-box, which on a sudden 
he missed. Everybody denied having taken it: he in* 
sisted on searching the company. He did : there remained 
only one man, who had stood behind him, but refoaed to 
be searched, unless the General would go into another 
room alone with him. There the man told him that he 
was bom a gentleman, was reduced, and Uved by what 
little bets he could pick up there, and by fragments which 
the waiters sometimes gave him. '* At this moment I hare 
half a fowl in my pocket ; I was afraid of being exposed : 
here it is ! Now, sir, you may search me." Wade was eo 
struck that he gave the man a hundred pounds.']^ The 
geniuij of gambling might be painted, like Garrick, between 

* Horace Walpole to Bentler, 1755. 
t Horace Walpole to Mann,'l748. 
X Id., January 10, 1750. 



WALFOLE 8 WOBLD OP PA8BI0X. 337 

tbo tragic and Uie oomio Muse. We turn orer the page, 
and Comedy again presents herself in an attitude that 
looks very like the hojden step of her half-sister, Faroe : 
Jemmy Lnmley last week had a party of whist at his own 
iionae : the combatants, Lncy Southwell, that cartneys like 
1 bear, Mrs. Prijean, and a Mrs. Mackenzy. They played 
from six in the evening till twelve next day: Jemmy 
never winning one rubber, and rising a loser of two thou- 
sand pounds. How it happened I know not, nor why his 
suspicions arrived so late, bat he fiuicied himself cheated, 
!ind refused to pay. However, the he€w had no share in his 
Qvil surmises : on the contruy, a day or two afterwards, 
he promised a dinner at Hampstead to Lucy and her 
virtuous sister. As he went to the rendezvous his chaise 
was stopped by somebody, who advised him not to proceed. 
Yet, no whit daunted, he advanced. In the garden he 
found the gentle eonqueress, Mrs. Mackenz}\ who ac- 
costed him in the most friendly manner. After a few 
compliments, she asked him if he did not intend to pay 
her. '' No, indeed, I sha'n't, I sha'n*t ; your servant, your 
servant." '^ Shan't you ?*' said the fair virago ; and taking 
a horsewhip from beneath her hoop, she fell upon him with 
as much vehemence as the Empress-Queen would upon the 
King of Prussia, if she could catch him alone in the 
garden at Hampstead.'* 

There was deep philosophy in a saying of George 
Selwyn's, when a waiter at Arthur's Club-house was 
taken np for robbery : ' What a horrid idea he will give 
of us to the people in Newgate!' It may be doubted 
whether the gentlemen-highwaymen who peopled New- 
^te at that era had a much looser code of morals than some 
of the great folks they pillaged. The people of London 
got frightened about an earthquake in 1750, and again in 
1756. There was a slight shock in the first of those years, 
which set the haunters of White's furiously betting whether 
it was an earthquake or the blowing-up of the powder- 

♦ Horace Walpole to Montagu, May 14, 1761. 



338 OXCB UPOX A TIME. 

mills at Hounslow. Bishop Sherlock and Bishop Seeker 

endeavoured to frighten the people into piety: bwt thv 

visitors at Bedford House, who had supped and stayed lattf, 

went about the town knocking at doors, and bawling in 

the watchman's note, ' Past four o'clock and a dreadlnl 

earthquake.' Some of the feishionable set got frightened. 

however, and went out of town ; and three days before the 

exact day on which the great earthquake was prophestc 

to happen, the crowd of coaches passing Hyde Park 

Comer with whole parties removing into the couiitry wa> 

something like the procession already described to Vanx- 

halL * Several women have made earthquake-gownfi— 

that is, warm gowns to sit out of doors all to-night. 

Those are of the more courageous. One woman, still mun' 

heroic, is come to town on purpose; she says all hx 

friends are in London, and she will not survive them 

But what will you think of Lady Catherine Pelbiia. 

Lady Frances Arundel, and Lord and Lady Galway, wfa.» 

go this evening to an inn ten miles out of town, when 

they are to play at brag till five in the morning, and then 

come back — I suppose to look for the bones of thnr 

husbands and families under the rubbish?'* When tlr* 

rulers of the nation on such an occasion^ or any other 

occasion of public terror, took a fit of hypocrisy anc 

ordered a general fast, the gambling-houses need to be 

filled with senators who had a day of leisure npon tiieir 

hands. Indifierence to public opinion, as well as a real 

insensibility, drew a line between the people of faiihioii 

and the middle classes. Walpole tells a story which is 

characteristic enough to be true, though he hints that it 

was invented: — *They have put in the papers a good 

story made on White's : A man dropped down dead at tiie 

door, was carried in; the club immediately made h&t* 

whether he was dead or not ; and when they were going U 

bleed him, the wagerers for his death interposed, and said 

it would affect the fairness of the bet't A great deal of 

• Horace Walpole to Msnn, April 2, 1750. 
t Id. September 1, 1750. 



WALF0LE*8 WORLD OF FASH10X. 339 

this reckless spirit of gambling, wluch lasted thitmgji the 
century, and which probably has only clothed itself more 
decently in our own day, must be attributed to the great 
increase of the wealth of the aristocracy, through the 
natural effects of the great increase of the profitable in- 
dustry of the middle classes. But it cannot be denied 
that much of the increase flowed back to the sources from 
which it was derived, in the form of bills, bonds, port- 
obits, and mortgages. The financial maxim of Charles 
Fox, that a man need never want money if he was willing 
to pay enough for it, tended to keep matters somewhat 
equal. 

The idea from i^hich we cannot escape when we trace 
the histor}' of fashion in the middle of the last century-, is, 
that the prevailing tone indicated something like a general 
moral intoxication. A succession of stimulants appears 
necessary to the upholding of social existence. This must 
be always in some degree the case with the rich and idle, 
whose vocation is chiefly to what they call pleasure. But 
we have few glimpses in the letters and memoirs of that 
period of the disposition to those calm domestic enjoy- 
ments which are principally derived from the cultivation 
of a taste for reading and the arts, and which, in our own 
day, equally characterises the middle and the upper classes. 
Of course, under the loosest state of manners, even in the 
profligate court of Charles II., there must have been many 
families of the upper ranks who despised the low vices 
and unintellectual excitements of their equals in birth; 
and under the most decorous and rational system of life 
there must be a few who would gladly restore a general 
licence, and who occasionally signalise themselves by some 
outbreak. But neither of these constitute a class. In 
the youth and middle age of Walpole the men and women 
of fashion appear to have lived without restraint imposed 
by their own sense of decorum, without apprehension of 
the opinions of their associates, without the slightest con- 
sideration for the good or evil word of the classes below 
them. Mn a regular monarchy the folly of the prince 

z2 



340 ONCB UPON A TIME. 

gives the tone ; in a downright tyranny follv dare* give 
itself no airs ; it is in a wanton overgrown oonuuonw^th 
that tchim and debaucbery intrigue together.'* Every ladv 
. or gentleman of spirit was allowed to have a ichim^ whetLtr 
it inclined to gambling, or intrigue, or dmnjcenne^, or 
ripts in public places. What Walpole said of the Duke of 
Newcastle, that he looked like a dead body hung in chaiib^ 
always wanting to be hung somewhere else, g^ves one a 
notion of the perpetual restlessness of the fashionable daM^. 
The untiring activity of some leaders lasted a good deal 
longer ; and no doubt occasionally displays itself even now 
in a preternatural energy, which makes the cheek pale in 
the season of bloom and freshness. But there is now some 
repose, some intervals for reflection ; the moral intoxica- 
tion does not last through sixteen of the four-and-twentj 
hours. The love of sigfUSy the great characteristic of tin 
vulgar of our own day, was emphatically, the passion of 
the great in the last century. The plague was reported to 
be in a house in the City ; and fashion went to look at xht 
outside of the house in which the plague was enshrined. 
Lady Milton and Lady Temple, on a night in March, pm 
on hats and cloaks, and, sallying out by themselves to t^e 
Lord Macclesfield lie in state, * literally waited on the 
steps of the house in the thick of the mob, while one pos^e 
was admitted and let out again for a second to enter.'* 
The *mob' (b}*^ which Walpole usually means an a.-*- 
semblage of people of any station below the aristocracy 
paid back this curiositj' with interest. The two Mi^ 
Gunnings lighted upon ihe earth of London in 1751, and 
were declared the handsomest women alive. ' They cant 
walk in the Park or go to Vauxhall, but such mobs follow 
that they are generally driven away.' It is difficult to 
understand how a real plebeian mob should know anything 
about the Miss Gunnings, at a time when there were no 
paragraphs of personality in the meagre newspapers. The 
Gunning mob was probably a very courtly one. At any 

♦ Honice Walpole to Mann. 

i Horace Walpole to Lonl Hertford, Majch 27, 176*. 



walpole's world op fashion. 341 

rate the curiosity was in common between the high and 
the low. One of these fair ladies became Duchess of 
Hamilton. * The world is still mad about the Gunnings : 
the Duchess of Hamilton was pi esented on Friday ; the 
crowd was so great that even the noble mob in the drawing- 
room clambered upon chairs and tables to look at her. 
There are mobs at their doors to see them get into their 
chairs ; and people go early to get places at the theatres 
when it is known they will be there.'* Ten years later 
there was another great sight to which all resorted — the 
Cock-lane Ghost. How characteristic of the period is the 
following description of a visit to the den of the ghost ! — 
' We set out from the opera, changed our clothes at 
Northumberland House, the Duke of York, Lady North- 
umberland, Lady Mary Coke, Lord Hertford, and I, all in 
one hackney-coach, and drove to the spot: it rained 
torrents ; yet the lane was full of mob, and the house so 
full we could not get in ; at last they discovered it was the 
Duke of York, and the company squeezed themselves into 
one another's pockets to make room for us. The house, 
which is boiTOwed, and to which the ghost has adjourned, 
is wretchedly small and miserable. W hen we opened the 
chamber, in which were fifty people, with no light but one 
tallow-candle at the end, we tumbled over the bed of the 
child to whom the ghost comes, and whom they are 
murdering by inches in such insuflferable heat and stench. 
At the top of the room are ropes to dry clothes. I asked 
if we were to have rope-dancing between the acts ? We 
had nothing. They told us, as they would at a puppet- 
show, that it would not come that night till seven in the 
morning, that is, when there are only 'prentices and old 
women. We stayed, howevery tUl half an hour after one,^^ 
Imagine a prince of the blood, two noble ladies, a peer, 
and the son of a prime minister, packing in one hackney- 
coach from Northumberland House on a winters night, 
and in a dirty lane near Smithfield watching till half past 

* Horace Walpole to Mann, March 23, 1752. 

t Horace Walpole to Montagu, Febniary 2, 1762. 



342 , • ONCE UPON A TIME. 

one by the light of a tallow-candle, amidst fifty of tiie * un- 
washed/ for the arrival of a ghost ! In those days the 
great patron of executions was the fashionable George 
Selwyn; and this was the way he talked of such di- 
versions : — * Some women were scolding him for goiog tu 
see the execution [of Lord Lovat], and asked him, "hov 
he could be such a barbarian to see the head cut off?" 
" Is ay," says he, ** if that was such a crime, I am sure I 
have made amends, for I went to see it sewed on again/ * 
When M'Lean, the highwayman, was under sentence of 
death in Newgate, he was a great attraction to the fashiun- 
able world. • Lord Mountford, at the head of half White's, 
went the first day. * * * * But the chief personages vhi 
have been to comfort and weep over this Mien hero ait 
Lady Caroline Petersham and Miss Ashe/f These weie 
the heroines of the minced chickens at Vauxhall ; and we 
presume they did not visit the condemned cell to metamor* 
phose the thief into a saint, as is the * whim ' of our oikii 
times. The real robbers were as fashionable in 11 bO is^ 
their trumpery histories were in 1840. 'You can't coe- 
ceive the ridiculous rage there is of going to Newgate: 
and the piints that are published of the malefiactoiB, ac i 
the memoirs of their lives and deaths set forth with a> 
much parade as — as — Marshal Turenne's — wo have C" 
generals worth making a parallel/} The visitors U 
abundant opportunities for the display of their sympathy :- 
* It is shocking to think what a shambles this countiy i& 
grown ! Seventeen icere executed this momingj^ Amidst such 
excitements, who can wonder that a man of talent and 
taste, as Walpole was, should often prefer pasting prints 
into a portfolio, or correcting proofs, at * poor little Stiav 
berry !* 

The reckless and improvident spirit of the period vhen 
Horace Walpole was an active member of the world d 

♦ Horace Walpole to Conway, April 16, 1747. 
t Horace Walpole to Mann, August 2, 1750. 
X Id. October 18, 1750. 
§ Id. March 23, 1752. 



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walpole's world of fashion. 343 

fashion is strikingly shown in the rash, and we may say 

indecent, manner in which persons of rank rushed into 

marriage. The happiness of a life was the stake which the 

^eat too often trusted to something as uncertain as the cast 

of a die or the turn-up of a trump. It seems almost impos* 

sible that in London, eighty or ninety years ago only, such a 

f, being as a Pleet parson could have existed, who performed 

t the marriage ceremonial at any hour of the day or night, 

in a public-house or a low lodging, without public notice 

or public witnesses, requiring no consent of parents, and 

asking only the names of the parties who sought to be 

! united. We might imagine, at any rate, that such irreve- 

rend proceedings were confined to the lowest of the people. 

The Fleet parsons had not a monopoly of their trade. In 

the fashionable locality of May Fair was a chapel in which 

one Keith presided, who advertised in the newspapers, and 

made, according to Walpole, ' a very bishopric of revenue.* 

This worthy was at last excommunicated for * contempt of 

the Holy and Mother Church ;' but the impudent varlet 

retaliated, and excommunicated at his own chapel Bishop 

Oibson, the Judge of the Ecclesiastical Court, and two 

reverend doctors. Keith was sent to prison, where he 

remained many years ; but his shop flourished under the 

management of his shopmen, called Curates; and the 

public were duly apprised of its situation and prices : — 

* To prevent mistakes, the little new chapel in May Fan*, 

near Hyde Park Comer, is in the comer-house opposite to 

tbe City side ef the great chapel, and within ten yards of 

it, and the minister and clerk live in the same comer- 

lionse where the little chapel is; and the licence on a 

crown stamp, minister and clerk's fees, together with the 

certificate, amount to one guinea, as heretofore, at any 

boTir till four in the afternoon. And that it may be the 

better known, there is a porch at the door like a coimtry 

cliiirch porch.'* Keith issued from his prison a manifesto 

a^inst the Act to prevent clandestine marriages, to which 

* Daily Post, July 20, 1744 j quoted in Mr, Bum's valuable work on * The 
Fleet Renters,' 



344 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

we shall presently advert, in whicli he gravelj pots forth 
the following recommendation of his summaiy process 
with reference to the lower classes: — * Another incon- 
veniency which will arise from this Act will be, that the 
expense of being married will be so great that few of tht^ 
lower class of people can afford ; for I have often heard a 
Fleet parson say that many have come to be married when 
they have had but half-a-crown in their pockets, and six- 
pence to buy a pot of beer, and for which they have 
pawned some of their clothes.'* 

But exclusive fieishion did not care to be exclusive in 
these practices. Sometimes a petticoat without a hoop 
was to be led by a bag-wig and sword to the May Fair 
altar, after other solicitations had been tried in vain. Ihe 
virtue of the community was wonderfully supported by 
these easy arrangements, as Walpole tells us, in his bee^t 
style : * Yob murt know, then— but did you know a young 
fellow that was called Handsome Tracy ? He was walk- 
ing in the Park with some of his acquaintance, and over- 
took three girls; one was very pretty: they followed 
them; but the girls ran away, and the company grow 
tired of pursuing them, all but Tracy. He follo^vred to 
Whitehall Gate, where he gave a poi^r a crown to dog 
them : the porter hunted them— he the porter. The girls 
ran all round Westminster, and back to the Haymarket. 
where the porter came up with them. He told the pretty 
one she must go with him, and kept her talking till Tncy 
arrived, quite out of breath, and exceedingly in love. He 
insisted on knowing where she lived, which she refused to 
tell him ; and, after much disputing, went to the house uf 
one of her companions, and Tracy with them. He there 
made her discover her family, a butterwoman in Craven 
Street, and engaged her to meet him the next morning m 
the Park; but before night he wrote ^ler four love- 
letters, and in the last offered two hundred pounds a year 
to her, and a hundred a year to Signora la Madre. Griselda 

* Daily Post, July 20, 1744. 



WALPOLE'S world 0^ FASHION. 345 

made a confidence to a staymaker's wife, who told her that 
the swain was certainly in love enough to many her, if 
she oould determine to he virtuous and refuse his offers. 
*' Ay," says she, '* hut if I should, and should lose him hy it !" 
However, the measiires of the oahinet council were decided 
for virtue ; and when she met Tracy the next morning in 
the Park, she was convoyed by her sister and brother-in- 
law, and stuck close to the letter of her reputation. She 
w^ould do nothing ; she would go nowhere. At last, as an 
instance of prodigious compliance, she told him, that if he 
would accept such a dinner as a biitterwoman's daughter 
could give him, he should be welcome. Away they 
walked to Craven Street : the mother borrowed some silver 
to buy a leg of mutton, and kept the eager lover drinking 
till twelve at night, when a chosen committee waited on 
the £Edthful pair to the minister of May Fair. The doctor 
was in bed, and swore he would not get up to marry the 
king ; but that he had a brother over the way who perhaps 
would, and who did.'* 

But ' the butterwoman*s daughter ' had no lack of high . 
example to teach her how to make a short step into the 
matrimonial * ship of fools.' The Fleet Begisters, and those 
of May Fair, are rich in the names of Honourables and 
even of Peers. For example : ' February 14, 1752, James 
Duke of Hamilton and Elizabeth Gunning.' Walpole has 
a pleasant comment upon this entry. * The event that has 
made most noise since my last, is the extempore wedding 
of the youngest of the two Gunnings, who have made so 
vehement a noise. .... About a fortnight since, at an 
immense assembly at my Lord Chesterfield's, made to 
show the house, which is really most magnificent, Duke 
Hamilton made violent love at one end of the room, while 
he was playing at faro at the other end ; that is, he saw 
neither the bank nor his owli cards, which were of three 

hundred pounds each : he soon lost a thousand Two 

nights afterwards, he found himself so impatient, that he 

* Honoe Walpole to Montagu, Sept. 3, 1748. 



346 ONCE UP03I A TdlE. 

sent for a parson. The dootor refiised to peifonn the 
ceremony without licence or ring: the Duke swore he 
would send for the Archbishop. At last thej were married 
with a ring of the bed-curtain, at half an-hour after twelve 
at night, at May Fair chapel.'* 

The people of rank at last grew frightened at their own 
practices. The Act against Clandestine Marriages canu- 
into operation on the 26th of March, 1764. On the 25t!j 
there were two hundred and seventeen marriages at the 
Fleet entered in one register ; and on the same day sixty- 
one ceremonies of the like agreeable nature took place at 
May Fair. After the Act was passed in 1753 there was 
to be an interval of some months before its enactments^ 
were to be law. Walpole says, * The Duchess of Argvle 
h^oungues against the Marriage Bill not taking place im- 
mediately, and is persuaded that all the girls vrill go iff 
before next Lady Day.'f 

* Horace Walpole to Mann, Feb. 27, 1752. 
t Horace Walpole to Montiigu, July, 17, 1753, 



( 347 ) 




Horace Walpole. 

HORACE WALPOLE'S WOELD OF LETTERS. 

Let us seat ourselves with Horace Walpole in his library 
at Strawberry Hill, and see the relation which the clever 
man of fashion bears to literature, and to the men of letters 
his contemporaries. There he sits, as he was painted by 
the poor artist Muntz, whom he patronised and despised, 
lounging in a luxurious arm-chair, soft and bright in its 
silk and embroidery, the window open, through which he 
occasionally looks on the green meadows and the shining 
river, in which he feels a half-poetical delight. He tuma 



348 OXCE UPOX A TIME. 

to liis elegant room, where ' the books are ranged within 
Gothic arches of pierced work, taken from a Bide door-ca«* 
to the choir in Dugdale's St. Paurs.' The books themselTes» 
are a valuable collection, some for nse and some for show ; 
and it is easy to perceive that for the most part thej havt 
not been brought together as the mere furniture of tht 
bookcases, but have been selected pretty much with in- 
ference to their possessor's tastes and acquirements. He is 
a man, then, of fortune, chiefly derived from sinecuib^ 
bestowed upon him by his father ; of literary acquirements 
far beyond the fashionable people of his day ; with abun- 
dance of wit and shrewd observation ; early in his career 
heartily tired of political intrigue, and giving up him:^>lf 
to a quiet life of learned leisure mi:&ed with a little dissipa- 
tion ; and yet that man, pursuing this life for half a centuiy, 
appears to have come less in contact with the greatest mind:* 
of his day than hundreds of his contemporaries of far ipferior 
genius and reputd,tion. With the exception perhaps vf 
General Conway, Walpole has no correspondence with 
any of the really eminent public men of his time ; and 
the most illustrious of his literary friends, after Gray i> 
gone, are Cole, the dullest of antiquaries, and Hannah More. 
Warburton, in a letter to Hum, terms Walpole ' an insuffer- 
able coxcomb ;' and we have no doubt the bold churchmaii 
was right. Walpole was utterly destitute of sympathy, 
perhaps for the higher things of literature, certainly for the 
higher class of literary men. He had too much talent to 
be satisfied with the dullness and the vices of the people of 
fashion with whom he necessarily herded ; but he had not 
courage enough to meet the more intellectual class upon a 
footing of equality.' For the immediate purpose of ihb 
paper, it is of very little consequence what W^alpole hinu;elf 
individually thinks of literature and men of letters ; but it 
is of importance to show the relation in which the men of 
letters stood to the higher classes, and the lofty tone in which 
one whose passion was evidently the love of literary fame 
spoke of those to whom literature was a profession, and sot 
an affair of emirking amateurship. 



walpMiE's world of letters. 349 

Pope had been dead two or three years when Horace 
Walpole bought Strawberry Hill : they were not therefore 
neighboure. In 1773, Walpole, speaking depreciatingly of 
his contemporaries, says, * Recollect that I have seen Pope, 
and lived with Gray ;' but he writes not a word to any on^ 
of what he had seen of Pope, and the only notice we have 
(except a party account of the quarrel between Pope and 
Bolingbroke) is, in 1742, of Gibber's famous pamphlet 
against Pope, which subsequently raised its author to be 
the hero of the * Dunciad.' Walpole is evidently rubbing 
his hands with exultation when he says, ' It will notably 
vex him.' Pope died in 1744. Of the small captains who 
scrambled for the crowns of the realms of poetry, after the 
death of tMs Alexander, there was one who founded a real 
empire— James Thomson. Walpole says, *I had rather 
have written the most absurd lines in Lee, than Leonidas 
or The Seasons ; as I had rather be put into the round-house 
for a wrong-headed quarrel, than sup quietly at eight 
o'clock with my grandmother. There is another of these 
tame geniuses, a Mr. Akenside, who writes Odes : in one 
he has lately published he says, *' Light the tapers, urge the 
fire." Had not you rather make gods jostle in the dark, 
than light the candles for fear they should break their 
heads ?'* Gray, as every one knows, was Walpole's friend 
from boyhood. The young men quarrelled upon their 
travels, and after three years were reconciled. Walpole, 
no doubt, felt a sort of self-important gratification in the 
fame of Gray as a poet ; yet, while Gray was alive, Walpole 
thus described his conversation : * I agree with you most 
absolutely in your opinion about Gray ; he is the worst 
company in the world. From a melancholy turn, from 
living reclusely, and from a little too much dignity, he 
never converses easily ; all his words are measured and 
chosen, and formed into sentences: his writings are 
admirable ; he himself is not agreeable.'f Yet Walpole 
was furious when Boswell's book came out, and Johnson is 

* Horace Walpole to Mann, March 29, 1745. 

t Horace Walpole to Montagu, Sept. 3, 1748. 



350 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

made to say of Gray, ' Sir, he was dtill in company, dull in 
his closet, dull everywhere : he was dull in a new way, and 
that made many people think him great : he was a me- 
chanical poet.* In 1 79 1 Walpole writes, ' After the Doctor s 
death, Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Boswell sent an 
ambling circular letter to me, begging subscriptions for a 




Juhiison. From a rorirull by Sir J. Reynold*. 

monument for him— the two last, I think, impertinently, 
as they could not but know my opinion, and could not 
suppose I would contribute to a monument for one ^ho 
had endeavoured, poor soul ! to degrade my friend's super- 
lative poetry. I would not deign to write an answer, hut 
sent down word by my footman, as I would have done to 
parish officers with a brief, that I would not subscribe.** 
Walpole, we have little doubt, considered himself as the 
patron of Gray, and Johnson's opinion was an attack upon 

• Horace Walpole to Mifls Berry, May 26, 179U 



walfole's world of LETTEUS- 361 

bis amour-propre. His evident hatred of Johnson probably- 
belonged as much to the order as to the individual. The 
poor man of genius and learning, who, by his stern resolves 
and dogged industry, had made himself independent of 
patronage, was a dangerous example. The immortal letter 
to Chesterfield on the dedication of the Dictionary was an 
offence against a very numerous tribe. 

It is easy to understand from Walpole's letters, how an 
author, however eminent, was looked upon in society, 
except he had some adventitious quality of wealth or birth 
to recommend him. In 1766 Walpole thus writes to Hume : 
* You know, in England, we read their works, but seldom 
c»r never take any notice of authors. We think them suffi- 
ciently paid if their books sell, and, of course, leave them 
to their colleges and obscurity, by which means we are not 
troubled with their vanity and impertinence. In France 
they spoil uh, but that was no business of mine. I, who 
am an author, must own this conduct very sensible ; for, in 
truth, we are a most useless tribe.' It is difficult to under- 
stand whether this passage is meant for insolence to the 
person to whom it is addressed : for what was Hume but an 
author ? * We read their works ' — ?r«, the aristocratic and 
the fashionable — to which class Hume might fancy he be- 
longed, after he had proceeded from his tutorship to a mad 
lord into the rank of a charge (Taffaires, But then * in France 
they spoil m ;' here the aristocrat is co(iuetting with the 
honours of authorship in the face of his brother author. 
Perhaps the whole was meant for skilful flattery. Walpole's 
real estimate of the literary class is found in a' letter to 
Cole, who was too obtuse to take any portion of the aflfront 
to himself: — *Mr. Gough wants to be introduced to me! 
He is so dull, that he would only be troublesome ; and, be- 
sides, you know I shun authors, and would never have been 
one myself, if it obliged me to keep such bad company. 
They are always in earnest, and think their profession 
serious, and dwell upon trifles, and reverence learning. I 
laugh at all those things, and write only to laugh at them 
and divert myself. . . . Mr. Gough is very welcome to 



352 ONCE UPON A TIKE. 

806 Strawberry Hill, or I would Help him to any scraps m 
my possession that would assist his publication ; though he 
is one of those industrious who are only re-burying the 
dead : but I cannot be acquainted with him. It is oontiBTT 

to my system and my humour I have no thirst to 

know the rest of my cotemporaries, from the abeui^ 
bombast of Dr. Johnson, down to the silly Dr. Groldsmith : 
though the latter changeling has had bright gleams cf 
parts, and the former had sense till he changed it for 
words, and sold it for a pension. Don*t think me scorn- 
ful. Recollect that I have seen Pope, and lived witli 
Gray.'* 

Walpole was too acute not to admire Fielding ; yet be 
evidently delights to lower the man, in the gusto with which 
he tells the following anecdote: — *Rigby and Peter 
Bathurst t'other night carried a servant of the latter's, vrho 
had attempted to shoot him, before Fielding ; who, to nB 
his other vocations, has, by the grace of Mr. Lytteltcm. 
added that of Middlesex justice. He sent them word he 
was at supper — that they must come next morning. They 
did not understand that freedom, and ran up, where Ihey 

found him banqueting, with a blind man, a , and 

three Irishmen, on some cold mutton and a bone of ham, 
both in one dish, and the dirtiest cloth. He never stirr^ 
nor asked them to sit. Higby, who had seen him 'so <^o 
come lo beg a guinea of Sir C. Williams, and Bathurst, at 
whose father's he had lived for victuals, understood that 
dignity as little, and pulled themselves chairs, on which he 
civilised.'t Scott, in his life of Fielding, suggests that 
something of this anecdote may belong to the ^ aristocratic 
exaggeration ' of Walpole ; and that the blind man mtgfat'^ 
have been Fielding's brother, who was blind. In the same 
way the three Irishmen might not necessarily have been 
denizens of St. Giles's; and the female, whom Walpole i 
designates by the most opprobrious of names, might have^ 
been somewhat moVe respectable than his own Lady Caiv- • 



• Horace Walpole to Cole, April 27, 1773. 
t HoniM Walpole to Montagu,- Mar 18, 1749. 



i 



WALFOLE^S WORLD OF L]!rrTEB& 353 

line. We are not anre thai« under the worst aspeot, the 
^npper at Fielding's was more discreditable than the ban- 
quet of minced chickens at Vauxhall. Fielding at this 
period, when his crime was a dirty table-cloth, thus writes 
of himself: — 'By composing, instead of inflaming, the 
qoarrels of porters and beggars, and by refusing to take a 
shilling from a man who most undoubtedly would not have 
had another left, I had reduced an income of about five 
hundred a year, of the dirtiest money upon earth, to little 
more than three hundred ; a considerable portion of which 
remained with my clerk.' 

Walpole himself, in the outset of his literary career, ap- 
pears, as was to be expected from his temperament and 
education, miserable under what was then, and is now, 
called criticism. After the publication of the ' Eoyal and 
Noble Authors,' he writes, ' I am sick of the character of 
author ; I am sick of the consequences of it ; I am weary 
of seeing my name in the newspapers; I am tired with 
reading foolish criticisms on me, and as foolish defences of 
me ; and I trust my fHends will be so good as to let the 
last abuse of me pass unanswered.'* If he had lived in 
these times, he might have been less thin-skinned. Those 
were not the days of critical newspapers ; there was only 
an ' Evening Post,' and one or two other starveling journals. 
Those were the days when the old Duchess of Rutland, 
being told of some strange casualty, says, * Lucy, child, step 
into the next room and set that down.' ' Lord, Madam,' 
says Lady Lucy, ^ it can't be true.' ' Oh, no matter, child, 
it will do for news into the country, next post.'t Horace 
Walpole might well have compounded for a little of the 
pert criticism of the reviews of his day, to be exempt from 
the flood of opinion which now floats ^e straws and rushes 
over the things which are stable. Fortunate was it for him 
and for us that he lived before the days of newspapers, or 
half he has told us would have been told in a perishable 
form. A Strawberry Hill man could not have existed in 

* Horace Walpole to the Rev. Heniy Zouch, May 14, 1759. 
t Horace Walpole to Mann, Dec. 23, 1742. 

2 A 



354 ONCE U,PON A TIME* 

the glare of journalising. He would have been a slave in 

the Eepublic of Letters, although he aflfeoted to d^p^^- 

Court slavery. lie must, in the very nature of things, biVt 

been president and member of council of some halMo^vB 

of the thousand and one societies with which London now 

abounds ; and he would have had the safisfactionof wafc 

in the cmversaziom horsemill of hot rooms and cold cofit* 

three times a week during the season, amidst the same runcsJ 

of masks, all smiling, envious, jobbing, puffing, and l:■^ 

puffed.* He was only familiar with one Society, the Aau- 

quarian ; and he thus speaks of it :-— * I dropped my atieLu 

ance there four or five years ago, from being sick of ibeii 

ignorance and stupidity, and have not been three timw 

amongst them since/ The Antiquarian Society then r^ 

sisted of a few harmless and crotchety people, who W^ 

dull books which nobody read but themselves. But :j^ 

dull men in time came to understand the full value v. 

gregariousness ; the name of Society at length becatts 

Legion; and literary and scientific London resolved it*^;' 

into one mighty coterieship, in which the ninety-nine dvaJt* 

are put upon stilts, and the one of reasonable stature c^^- 

sents to move amongst them, and sometimes to pre^nt- 

laws, in the belief that he himself looms larger in tbepr- 

vincial distance. This clever organisation came ai-**' 

Walpole's time. Possibly he might have liked the it 

dividual men of letters better, if the pretenders to liteniioi^ 

appending all sorts of cabalistic characters to their nau»» 

had set him up as their idol. As it was, there was a fras* 

genial intercourse between the best men of his time, wdij^ 

was equally independent of puffing and patronage, y 

club life of the Burkes and Johnsons was precise!}' ti^' 

opposite of the society life of our own days. We of oo^ 

see nothing of the club life in Walpole's writings ; butii'^ 

a thing which has left enduring traces. Walpole was u^^ 

robust enough to live in such an element. 

* This was written twelve years ago. Special Societies, wlMjre mfli «f ^ 
knowledge work harmoniously, have redeemed the niune of Society Ixom ^t 
synonyinoas with ciiqite» 



walpole's world of letters. 355 

In the days when periodical criticism was in its nonage, 
men of letters naturally wrote to each other ahont the merits 
3f new works* There is probably less of this in Walpole 
than in any other letter- writer equally voluminous; yet 
tie sometimes gives us an opinion of a book, which is woiih 
comparing with that more impartial estimate which is 
formed by an after-generation, when novelty and fashion 
bave lost their influence, and prejudice, whether kind or 
bostile, ceases to operate. M^e may learn from the mistakes 
oi clever men, as to the merits of their contemporaries, to 
be a little humble in forming our own opinions. Let us 
hear what Walpole has to say of Sterne : — * At present, no- 
thing is talked of, nothing admired, but what I cannot help 
calling a very insipid and tedious performance : it is a kind 
of novel, called *The Life and Opinions of Tristram 
Shandy ;' the great humour of which consists in the whole 
narration always going backwards. I can conceive a man 
saying that it would be droll to write a book in that manner, 
but have no notion in his persevering in executing it. It 
makes one smile two or three times at the beginning, but in 
recompense makes one yawn for two hours. The characters 
are tolerably kept up, but the humour is for ever attempted 
and missed.'* Gray, who by nature had a keen relish for 
humour, formed a juster opinion of Sterne, though he 
scarcely did him justice : — * There is much good fun in 
** Tristram," and humour sometimes hit, and sometimes 
missed.' Goldsmith, who was probably jealous of the 
Yorkshire wit's sudden reputation, called him * a very dull 
fellow,' which Johnson denied ; but Johnson himself dis- 
paraged Sterne almost as much as Walpole. Were any of 
these eminent men quite right in the matter ? There were 
many reasons why Sterne should offend Johnson — reasons 
which have condemned him in our own day to neglect. But 
for real creative comic power he was never exceeded, but 
by me Englishman of our own day : his humour, as well as 
his pathos, has its roots in a rich poetical soil. Walpole, 

• Horace Walpole to Sir David Dalrymple, April 4, 1760. 

2 a2 



356 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

however, did not always set up nU admircari aa bit motto. 
Thirty years after, Darwin arose ; and he at once mcnnted 
like a balloon into the empyrean of popularity, and there 
collapsed. Walpole thus raves about the * Botanic 
Garden :' — * I send you the most delicious poem upon earth. 
If you don't know what it is all about, or why, at least 
you will find glorious similes about everything in the world, 



-£v^£^t 




Darwin. 

and T defy you to discover three bad verses in the whok 
stack. Dryden was but the prototype of the •* BotanK 
Gkirden " in his charming ** Flower and Leaf ;** and if he W 
less meaning, it is true he had more plan ; and I must ovs< 
that his white velvets and green velvet*, and rubies andeffii" 
raids, were much more virtuous gentlefolks than mostof tbc 
flowers of the creation, who seem to have no fear of Doctop 
Commons before their eyes. This is only the Second Pait 
for, like my king's eldest daughter in the " HieroglypliK 
Tales," the First Part is not bom yet : — no matter. 1 c^ 
read this over and over again for ever ; for, though it is i^ ' 
excellent, it is impossible to remember anything so di« 
jointed, except you consider it as a collection of short en- 
chanting poems — as the Circe at her tremendous devilrif> 
in a church ; the intrigue of the dear nightingale and rt)S?; 



WALPOLE S WORLD OF LETTERS. 357 

and the description of Medea ; the episode of Mr. Howard, 
which ends with the most suhlime of lines — in short, all, 
all, all is the most lovely poetry.'* Darwin has utterly 
perished, and can never he resuscitated : his whole system 
of art was false. Walpole admired him hecause he was 
bred tip in a school of criticii^i which regarded style as the 
one Ihing needful, and considered that the most poetical 
language which was the farthest removed from the language 
of common life : hence in some respects his idolatry of Gray, 
and his contempt of Thomson. Cowper, the only one poet 
of his later years who will live, is never once mentioned 
hy him. The mode in which he addresses himself to 
Jephson, the author of ' Braganza,' and several other 
mouthing tragedies, appears to us now inexpressibly ridi- 
culous : ' You seem to me to have imitated Beaumont and 

Fletcher, though your play is superior to afl theirs 

You are so great a poet, sir, that you have no occasion to 
labour anything but your plots.'t This is the natural result 
of Walpole being brought up in the French school of 
criticism. His correspondence with Voltaire shows the 
process by which he was led to think that such a word- 
spinner as Bobert Jephson^ captain of foot, and a nominee 
of Lord Townshend in the Irish Parliament, imitated Beau- 
monl and Fletcher, and produced a play superior to all 
theirs. In the preface to the second edition of ' The Castle 
of Otronto,' Walpole thus expressed himself in defence of 
his iatxodoction into a serious romance of domestics speak- 
ing in common language : ' That great master of nature, 
Shakspeare, was the model I copied. Let me ask if his 
tragedies of " Hamlet" and ** Julius Caesar " would not lose 
a coxisiderable share of their spirit and wonderful beauties 
if the humour of the grave-diggers, the fooleries of Polonius, 
aud the clumsy jests of the Boman citizens were omitted, 
or vested in heroics ? Is not the eloquence of Antony, the 
nobler and affectedly-unaflfected oration of Brutus, artificially 
exalted by the rude bursts of nature from the mouths of 

* Horace Walpole to the Miss Berrys, April 28, 1789. 

t Horaoe Walpole to Bobert Jephson, Esq., October 17, 1777. 



358 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

their auditors ? These touches remind one of the Gre- 
cian sculptor, who, to convey the idea of a Coloefenis 
within the dimensions of a seal, inserted a little hoy 
measuring his thumh. No, says Yoltaii^, in his edition uf 
Corneille, this mixture of buffoonery and solemnity is 
intolerable. Voltaire is a genius — but not of Shakspeare'? 
magnitude.' Three or four years after this YoltaiTe wT\4e 
a civil letter to Walpole on the subject of his * Historic 
Doubts,' and Walpole, in reply, took occasion to apologia* 
for the remarks he had made on Voltaire in the * prefiMse tc 
a trifling romance.* Voltaire replied, defending his criti- 
cism ; and the vindicator of Shakspeare is then proetiate at 
the feet of the Frenchman : ' One can never, air, be som 
to have been in the wrong, when one's errors ore pointec 
out to one in so obliging and masterly a manner. What- 
ever opinion I may have of Shakspeare, I should think Lis 
to blame if he could have seen the letter you have done mt 
the honour to write to me, and yet not conform to the mk? 
you have there laid down. When he lived, there had not 
been a Voltaire both to give laws to the stage, and to shov 
on what good sense those laws were founded. Tour art. 
sir, goes still further ; for you have supported your argn 
ments without having recourse to the best authority, yuu: 
own works. It was my interest, perhaps, to defend V«r- 
barism and irregularity. A great genius is in the right 
on the contrary, to show that when correctness, nay, wlier 
perfection is demanded, he can still shine, and be himstll 
whatever fetters are imposed on him. But I will say no mon 
on this bead : for I am neither so unpolished as to teU j*^ I 
to your face how much I admire you ; nor, though I hatt 
taken the liberty to vindicate Shakspeare against vnar 
criticism, am I vain enough to think myself an adverean { 
worthy of you. I am much more proud of receiving Isw. 
from you, than of contesting them. It was bold in me u 
dispute with you, even before I had the honour of yonr i 
acquaintance : it would be ungrateful now, when you ban 
not only taken notice of me, but forgiven me. The ad- 
mirable letter you have been so good as to sendmeiia I 



walpole's world of letters. 369 

proof that you are one of those truly great and rare men 
who know at once how to conquer and to- pardon.'* It is 
evident from this letter that it was the merest egotism 
which originally led Walpole to set up for the defender of 
Shakspere. Voltaire, in common with all the then French 
school, held that the language of princes and heroes must 
be sublime and dignified ; or, in other words, they must 
utter a language not formed naturally and fitly eiUier for 
the development of exalted passions or ordinary sentiments. 
Introduce the simple language of common life amongst 
this conventional dialogue, and an essential discord is 
necessarily produced. Voltaire, as all the other French 
dramatists have done, entirely banished the natural lan- 
guage, and fitted the waiting-maid with the same form of 
raving for the white handkerchief as they bestowed upon 
the princess. This was consistent. They fancied Shak- 
spere was inconsistent and barbarous when the comic came 
in contact with the serious, and the elevated was blended 
with the familiar. They did not see the essential difference 
between their heroic and his heroic. He never takes the 
sublime and the terrible out of the natural ; and in the most 
agonising situation we encounter the most common images* 
Neither did Walpole see this essential diRtinction ; and thus 
he has his ready echo of ' barbarism and irregularity.' Had 
he understood Shakspere, he would not have yielded his 
position. 

In his first letter to Voltaire, Walpole says, ' Without 
knowing it, you have been my master; and perhaps the 
sole merit that may be found in my writings is owing to 
my having studied yours.' The adroit Frenchman must 
have laughed a little at this compliment. Walpole was 
thinking of his letters, of which the world had tlien no 
knowledge. If Voltaire had turned to the works of the 
Strawberry Hill press, he would have seen little imitation 
either of his philosophy or of his style. Voltaire, the most 
snbtle of scoffers, was upon occasions an enthusiast. He 

♦ Hoiw» Walpole to Voltaii-e, July 27, 1756. 



360 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

had a heart. Walpole, even to his most intimate frkftdF, 
was a scofTer and a Bcandal-monger ; never moTed to Ukj- 
thing like warmth, except when talking about the ccmli- 
tution (by which he meant the protection of certain pnvi- 
leged persons in the exclusive enjoyment of public weakh 
and honour) ; and only growing earnest in his old age 
when he was frightened into hysterics about the Freneh 
Bevolution, having in his greener years called the deadh 
warrant of Charles I. ' Gharta Major.' He hates anthois, 
as we have seen, becanse * they are always in eanaeat, and 
think their profession serious.' K this be a true deBotipiion 
of the authors of Walpole's time, the world has lost samt- 
thing by a change ; for in our own day a writer who w in 
earnest is apt to be laughed at by those who conceive that 
the end of all literature is to amuse, and that ita hightt*. 
reward is to have, as Sterne had, *• engagements for thiw 
months ' to dine somewhere, always provided that lliere i^ 
a lord's card to glitter in the exact spot of the libi«Ty ttr 
drawing-room where the stranger eye can best read and 
admire. This is feme, and this is happiness. But the 
silent consolation of high and cheerful thoughts, — the ri^t 
of entering at pleasure into a world filled with beauty aod 
variety, — the ability to converse with the loftiest and poreei 
spirits, who will neither ridicule, nor envy, nor betray their 
humble disciple, — the power of going out of the circle of 
distracting cares into a region where there is always cate 
and content, — ^these great blessings of the student's life, 
whether they end or not in adding to the stock of the world's 
knowledge, are not the ends which are most proposed ac- 
cording to the fashion of our day to a writer's ambition. 
The * earnest author ' is too often set down for a fool — ik&t 
seldom for a madman. 

To the class of writers that Walpole shunned Bousseaii 
belonged, with all his faults. Walpole's adventures with 
this remarkable man are characteristic enough of the indi< 
vidual and of the times. His first notice of Boussean is in 
a letter from Paris to Lady Hervey, in 1766 : — *Mr. Hume 
carries this letter and Eousseau to England. I wish thv 



walpole's world of letters. 361 

former may not repent having engaged with the latter, who 
contradicts and quarrels with all mankind in order to obtain 
their admiration. I think both his means and his end below 
snch a genius. If I had talents like his, I should despise 
any suffrage below my own standard, and should blush to 
owe any part of my flEtme to singularities and affectations.' 
Walpole committed a mistake in not seeing that the singu- 
larities and affectations were an essential part of the man, 
and in not treating them therefore with charity and for- 
bearance. After Rousseau had left Paris, Walpole, the hater 
of impostures, the denouncer of Chatterton as a forger and 
liar, wrote a letter, purporting to be from the King of Prussia 
to Bousseau, which had prodigious success in the French 
circles, and of course got into all the journals of Europe. 
This was at a time when the * genius ' was proscribed and 
distressed. Walpole was very proud to his confidential 
friends of the success of this hoax : — ' I enclose a trifle that 
I wrote lately, which got about and has made enormous 
noise in a city where they run and cackle after an event, 
like a parcel of hens after an accidental husk of a grape.'* 
Walp9le had no objection to Bousseau^s principles ; he in- 
sulted him because he was a vain man who affected singu- 
larity, or, what was more probable, could not avoid being 
singular. There was honesty at least in Johnson's denun- 
ciation of him : — ' I think him one of the worst of men ; a 
rascal, who ought to be hunted out of society, as he has 
been. Three or four nations have expelled him, and it is 
a shame that he is protected in this country. Bousseau, 
sir, is a very bad man. I would sooner sign a sentence for 
his transportation than that of any felon who has gone from 
. the Old Bailey these many years. Yes, I should like to 
have him work in the pltmtations.' Johnson would have 
banished Bousseau to the plantations in talk, but assuredly 
would have given him a dinner in Bolt Court, and, if his 
poverty had become extreme, would have admitted him 
amongst his odd pensioners. W^alpole's success in the pre- 

* Horace Walpole to Chute, Januaiy, 1766. 



362 ONCE UPOX A TIME. 

tended letter was complete. He writes to Conway: *A9 
you know, I willingly laugh at mountebanks, political or 

literary, let their talents be ever so great The copies 

have spread like wildfire ; et me void d la mode V BoaBsean, 
in deep affiction, wrote a letter to the editor of the ' London 
Chronicle,' in which the fabrication had been printed, de- 
nouncing it as ^ a dark transaction.' The vanity of Walpole, 
in regard to this letter, which consists of twenty lines is 
decent French, in which there is very little humour and no 
wit, is almost as insane as the vanity of Eoussean. He 
writes to Chute, to Conway, to Cole, to Gray, to aU man- 
kind, to tell of his wonderful peiformance. To Cole be 
says, ' You will very probably see a letter to Koussean, in 
the name of the King of Prussia, writ to laugh at his affec- 
tations. It has made excessive noise here, and I belieTe 
quite ruined the author with many philosophers. When I tell 
you I was the author, it is telling you how cheap I hold 
their anger.'* When Bousseau had quarrelled with Hume, 
six months after, it was one of the unhappy man's snspicioiK 
that Hume was concerned in the letter from the King of 
Prussia ; and then Walpole thus writes to Hume : *■ I cannot 
be precise as to the time of my writing the £ing of Prussia's 
letter; but I do assure you with the utmost truth, that it 
was several days before you left Paris, and before RotisseauVs 
arrival there, of which I can give you a strong proof; for 
I not only suppressed the letter while you staybd there, 
out of delicacy to you, but it was the reason why, out of 
delicacy to myself, I did not go to see him, as you often 
proposed to me, thinking it wrong to go and make a cordial 
visit to a man, with a letter in my pocket to laugh at him/t 
We have a suspicion that Walpole's delicacy was sometimes 
measured by his cowardice. Warburton, writing to Hard, 
took a just view of the whole transaction : ' As to Koussean, 
I entirely agree with you that his long letter to his brother 
philosopher, Hume, shows him to be a frank lunatic. Hi^i 
passion of tears, his suspicion of his friends in the midst of 

• Horace Walpole to Cole, January 18, 1766* 
t Horace Walpole to Hume, July 26, 1766. 



walpole's world of letters. 363 

tlieir services, and his incapacity of being set right, all 
consign him to Monro. Walpole's pleasantry upon him 
had baseness in its very conception. It was written when 
the poor man had determined to seek an asylum in England, 
and is, therefore, justly and generously condemned by 
D'Alembert. This considered, Hume failed both in honour 
and friendship not to show his dislike ; which neglect seems 
to have kindled the first spark of combustion in this mad- 
man's brain. However, the contestation is very amusing, 
and I shall be sorry if it stops, now it is in so good a train. 
I should be well pleased, particularly, to see so seraphic a 
madman attack so insufferable a coxcomb as Walpole ; and 
I think they are only fit for one another.* 

There can be no doubt that Walpole's coxcombity must 
have been 'insufferable' in his own day, except amongst a 
favoured few. It is perfectly clear, from his letters, that 
he had no reverence for anything — but himself. His affec- 
tation was as excessive as that of Rousseau ; but it went in 
another direction. He fancied that he could afford to speak 
contemptuously of all political men; although, whilst 
himself a politician, he was the merest tool of party, and 
never made a single honest attempt to earn one penny of 
the thousands which the nation bestowed upon him. As 
a man of fashion, he was eternally holding up his friends to 
ridicule ; though he went quite as far in their follies as a 
feeble frame would carry him. As a man of letters, he 
affected to despise nearly all other men of letters : what is 
there but affectation 'in thus writing to Hume — *My letter 
hinted, too, my contempt of learned men and their miserable 
conduct. Since I was to appear in print, I should not have 
been sorry that that opinion should have appeared at the 
same time. In truth, there is nothing I hold so cheap as 
the generality of learned men.'* What is the secret of all 
this affectation? He wanted a heart, and he thought it 
very clever to let the world know it ; for he was deeply 
imbued with the low philosophy of his i^e, which thought 

* Horace Walpole to Hume, Kovember 6, 1766. 



364 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

it wisdom to appear to love nothing, io fear notbing, to 
reverence nothing. 

The world in Walpole's own day took up an opinion 
which it will not easily part with — that he behaved hMTt- 
lessly to the unfortunate Chatterton. In March, 17^9, 
when Chatterton was little more than sixteen years old, be 
addressed a letter from Bristol to Horace Walpole, oflSoiiBg 
to supply him with accounts of a succession of painteis who 
had flourished at Bristol, which accounts, he said, had bees 
discovered with some ancient poems in that city, specimeiK 
of which he enclosed. It was about six months before this 
that Chatterton had communicated to Felix Farley's ' Bristol 
Journal' his celebrated 'Description of the Friars fint 
passing over the old bridge, taken from an ancient mami- 
script ;' and very soon after the publication of that remari^- 
able imitation of an ancient document, he produced, from 
time to time, various poems, which he attributed to Boirley, 
a priest of the fifteenth century, and which became the 
subject of the most remarkable literary oontroversy d 
modem times. Walpole replied to Chatterton's first c<Ha- 
munication with ready politeness; but when Chattertoc 
solicited his assistance in quitting a profession which be 
disliked, his application was neglected, and the poor boj 
threw himself upon the world of London without a friend. 
He then demanded his manuscripts, in a letter which wa& 
too manly and independent to receive from Walpole any 
other name than * impertinent.' The manuscripts were i^ 
turned in a blank cover. This was the extent of WalpoleV 
offence ; and, looking at the man's character, it is impossible 
to thii^ he could have acted otherwise. He probably 
doubted the ability of the friendless boy to furnish the in 
formation he required ; he suspected that the papers sent 
to him were fabricated. When Chatterton wrote to him 
as one man of letters has a right to address another, be 
could not brook the assumed equality ; and he revenged 
himself by the pettiness of aristocratic insolence. Had he 
sought out the boy who had given this evidence of his spirit 
as well as of his talent, he would not have been Hora^ 



walpole's world of letters: 365 

Walpole. The xmhappj boy 'perished in his pride' in 
August, 1770. Walpole was assailed for many years for 
his conduct towards Chatterton, and he seems at times to 
have felt the charge very keenly. He thus addresses him- 
self to the editor of Ghatterton's Miscellanies : * Chatterton 
was neither indigent nor distressed at the time of his cor- 
respondence with me ; he was maintained by his mother, 
and lived with a lawyer. His only pleas to my assistance 
were, disgust to his profession, inclination to poetry, and 
communication of some suspicious MSS. His distress was 
the consequence of quitting his master, and coming to 
London, and of his other extravagances. He had depended 
on the impulse of the talents he felt for making impression, 
and lifting him to wealth, honours, and fame. I have 
already said that I should have been blameable to his 
mother and society if I had seduced an apprentice from his 
master to marry him to the nine Muses ; and I should have 
encour^ed a propensity to forgery, which is not the talent 
most wanting culture in the present age.' In 1777, when 
the * Monthly Eeview' had been attacking him on the sub- 
ject of Chatterton, he thus wrote to Cole: *I believe 
M'Pherson's success with «• Ossian " was more the ruin of 
Chatterton than I. Two years passed between my doubting 
the authenticity of Rowley's poems and his death. I never 
knew he had been in London till some time after he had 
undone and poisoned himself there. The poems he sent 
me were transcripts in his own hand, and even in that cir- 
cumstance he told a lie : he said he had them from the very 
person at Bristol to whom he had given them.* In this 
letter he adds, * I think poor Chatterton was an astonishing 
genius.' Walpole does not appear to have seen that he was 
in this dilemma : either the poems which he had received 
from Chatterton were authentic, and, if so, the greatest 
curiosities in our language ; or they were fabricated by an 
' astonishing genius.' Walpole, we believe, did not 'see the 
extraordinary merit of the poems. His taste was not of the 
highest quality. When the world agreed that a great spirit 
had been amongst them, and had perished untimely, WaU 



366 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

pole, in self defence, dwelt upon his * forgery ' and his 'im- 
pofiitions.' He probably forgot that a work had been pnU 
lished in 1765, under the following title — ^'Fhe Castle of 
Otranto, a Story translated by William Marshal, GenL, from 
the original Italian of Ouphrio Mnrnlto, Canon of tiie 
Church of St. Nicholas at Otranto :' and that the pre&oe to 
this ti^anslation from the Italian thus commeiiices — *Tbe 
following work was found in the library of an ancieiit 
Catholic fiunily in the north of England. It was printed 
at Naples, in the black letter, in the year 1529.' \V ho can 
say that, if Chatterton had lived, he would not have avowed 
the Bowley poems to be his own, as Walpole afterwards 
acknowledged the * Castle of Otranto ?* And where, then, 
would have been the forgery any more than in the fabri- 
cation of the * Canon of the Church of St. Nicholas ?' 

Ten years after Chatterton' s death Walpole quieted his 
conscieDce by continuing to call the marvellous cbaiitj* 
boy ' young villain ' and * young rascal ;' but an oecaasan 
rose in which genius might be patronised without in- 
curring the risk of an impertinent letter. Miss Haniiah 
More had found a milk-woman at Bristol who wrote vexises : 
and they were just such verses as IJannah More and 
Horace Walpole would think very wonderful; so a sub- 
scription is to be raised for the milk-woman. Mistress 
Ann Yearsley. * Her ear,' according to a letter of Wal- 
pole to Miss More in 1 784, ' is perfect,' her * taste ' is un- 
exceptionable. W' alpole prescribes her studies : * Give her 
Drj'den's "Cock and Fox," the standard of good sense* 

poetry, nature, and ease Prior's ** Solomon " (for I 

doubt his '* Alma," though far superior, is too learned for 
her limited reading) would be very proper. . . . Read and 
explain to her a charming poetic familiarity called the 
''Blue-stocking Club.'" Imagine that poor Chatterton 
had been more unfortunate than he really was — had been 
patronised by Horace Walpole, permitted a garret to &leef> 
in, advanced to the honours of the butler's table, and 
taught by the profound critic, that Spenser was wretched 
stuflF, and Shakspere's * Midsummer Night's Dream ' ' forty 



WALPOLE'3 world or LBTTERS. 367 

times more nonsensical than the worst translation of any 
Italian opera-books.'* The nulk-woman became restive 
under the pontrol of Hannah More, and she quarrelled 
with her patroness, upon which afflicting occurrence W al- 
pole thus condoles with bis friend : ' You are not only 
benevolence itself, but, with fifly times the genius of a 
Yearsley, you are void of vanity. How strange that vanity 
should expel gratitude I Does not the wretched woman 
owe her fame to you, as well as her affluence? I can 
testify your labours for both. Dame Yearsley remiiids me 
of the Troubadours, those vagrants whom I used to admire 
till I knew their history; and who. used to pour out 
trumpery verses, and flatter or abuse accordingly as they 
were housed and clothed, or dismissed to the next parish. 
Yet you did not set this person in the stocks, after pro- 
curing an annuity for her I'f It is impossible to have a 
clearer notion of what Walpole and such as Walpole meant 
by patronage. The Baron of Otranto would have thought 
it the perfection of benevolence to have housed and clothed 
a troubadour ; but the stocks and the whipping-post would 
have been ready for any treasonable assertion of independ- 
ence. The days of chivalry are gone, and, heaven be praised, 
those of patronage are gone after them 1 

Walpole, like many other very clever men, could not 
perfectly appreciate the highest excellence, and yet could 
see the ridiculoi^ side of the pretenders to wit and poetry. 
He laughs, as Gi£ford laughed, at * Delia Crusca ;' and he 
has told the follies of Batheaston with his characteristic 
liveliness : — 

' Y^'ou must know that near Bath is erected a new Par- 
nassus, composed of three laurels, a myrtle-tree, a weeping- 
willow, and a view of the Avon, which has been new- 
christened Helicon. Ten years ago there lived a Madam 
Biggs, an old rough humourist who passed for a wit ; her 
daughter, who passed for nothing, married to a Captain 
Miller, full of good-natured officiousness. These good 

• Horace Walpole to Bentley, February 23, 1755. 
t Horace Walpole to Hannah More, October 14, 1787. 



368 ONCE T7P0K A TIME. 

folks were inends of Miss Bioli, who carried me to dine 
with them at Batheaston, now Pindus, They caught a 
little of what was then called taste, bnilt and planted, 
and begot children, till the whole caravan were forced to 
go abroad to retrieve. Alas! Mrs. Miller is returned a 
beauty, a genins, a Sappho, a tenth Mase, as romantic sb 
Mademoiselle Scnderi, and as sophisticated as Mrs. Vetey. 
The captain's fingers are loaded with cameos, his tongue 
runs over with virtu, and, that both may contribute to the 
improvement of their own country, they have introduced 
houtS'rimSs *Bs a new discovery. They hold a Pamanos 
fair every Thursday, give out rhymes and themes, and all 
the flux of quality at Bath contend for the prizes* A 
Eoman vase, dressed with pink ribbons and myrtles, re- 
ceives the poetry, which is drawn out every festival ; ax 
judges of these Olympic games retire and select the 
brightest compositions, which ihe respective sacceaefiil 
acknowledge, kneel to Mrs. Calliope Miller, kiss her fiur 
hand, and are crowned by it with myrtle— with — ^I don^t 
know what. You may think this is fiction or exaggera- 
tion. Be dumb unbelievers ! The collection is printed, 
published. Yes, on my faith, there are bouts-rimes on a 
buttered muffin, made by Her Grace the Duchess of 
Northumberland ; receipts to make them, by Coxydon the 
venerable, alias Greorge Pitt; others, very pretty, by 
Lord Palmerston; some by Lord Carlisle; many by Mis. 
Miller herself, that have no &nlt but wanting metre; 
and immortality promised to her without end or measure. 
In short, since folly, which never ripens to madness but in 
this hot climate, ran distracted, there never was anything 
so entertaining or so dull — for you cannot read so long as 
I have been telling.'* When poetry was essentially an 
affair of ' hearts ' and * darts,' it was no wonder that a mob 
of silly fashionable people set up for poets. The whole 
age was wanting in taste : it was not poetical because it 
was superficial. 

• Horace Walpole to Conwoy, Jan. 15, 1775. 



walpole's world of letters, 369 

The intercourse between Hannah More and Horace Wal- 
pole began in 1781. It was an odd intimacy ; but compli- 
ments freely received and bestowed made it agreeable, no 
doubt, to both parties. Here is a pretty note from Horace 
Walpole, written with a crowquill pen upon the sweetest- 
scented paper : * Mr. Walpole thanks Miss More a. thousand 
times, not only for so obligingly complying with his re- 
quests, but for letting him have the satisfaction of possess- 
ing and reading again and again her charming and very 
genteel poem, the '' Bas Bleu." He ought not, in modesty, 
to commend so much a piece in which he himself is flat- 
tered; but truth is more durable than blushing, and 
he must be just, though he may be vain.** Walpole could 
bear flattery better than Dr. Johnson : * Mrs. Thrale then 
t4>ld a story of Hannah More, which, I think, exceeds in 
its severity all the severe things I have yet heard of Dr. 
Johnson's saying. Wlien she was introduced to him, not 
long ago, she began singing his praise in the warmest 
manner, and talking of the pleasure and the instruction 
she had received from his writings, with the highest en- 
comiums. For some time he heard her with that quiet- 
ness which a long use of praise haA given him : she then 
redoubled her strokes, and, as Mr. Seward calls it, peppered 
still more highly, till at length he turned suddenly to her, 
with a stem and angry countenance, and said, *' Madam, 
before you flatter a man so grossly to his face, you should 
consider whether or not your flattery is worth his having." 'f 
As Miss More grew older she, no doubt, grew wiser ; and 
Walpole himself, with a very prevailing inclination to 
ridicule what he called her saintliness, came to respect her 
for her virtues, instead of continuing to bum incense to 
her genius. The last indication of their friendship appears 
in his giving her a Bible, which she wished he would 
read himself. 

* Honoe Walpole to Haimah More, May 6, 1784. 
t Madame d'Arblay's Diary, toL i. p. 103. 

2 B 



370 ONCE UPON A TIME. 




Boswtll. 

FANNY BURNEY AT COURT. 

It is 1779. There is an amusing scene in Mr. Th^ale'^ 
villa at Streatham. The house, as usual, is full of com- 
pany. Mr. Boswell, who has recently arrived in London, 
comes for a morning visit ; and what was then called a 
' collation * is ordered. The sprightly hostess takes her 
seat, with Dr. Johnson on her right. Next him is a 
vacant chair, which Boswell is about to occupy, according 
to his wont, as the umbra of his illustrious friend. Mr. 
Seward interferes with — ' Mr. Boswell, that seat is Mis* 
Bumey's.' Into the chair slides ' the little Bumey ;' and 
the good Doctor rolls about, and glares upon Fanny with 
his large one eye, and caresses her as he would a petted 
child Boswell is mad with jealousy. He will not eat : 
he takes no place at the table; but seizes a chair, and 
plants himself behind the sage and his protegee. There is 
a laugh and a whisper about * Bozzy,' when another wig it 



FANNY BURNEY AT COUKT. 371 

thnist between the Doctor's wig and the lady's powdered 
toupet. Terrible is the reproof : ' What do you do here, sir ? 
Go to the table, sir. One would take you for a Brangton.' 
— ' A Brangton, sir ? What is a Brangton, sir?' — *What 
company have you kept not to know that, sir?' Poor 
Boswell is soon informed. Brangton is the name of a 
vulgar family in ' Evelina ;' and the little lady who has 
dispossessed him of the place of honour is the authoress of 
that novel. 

Four years pass on, and Boswell knows his cue better. 
He calls at Johnson's house, and finds him at tea with ' the 
celebrated Miss Bumey.' He is evidently in the way. 
Johnson, in answer to something about , parliamentary 
speakers, says, * Why do you speak here ? Either to in- 
struct or entertain, which is a benevolent motive ; or for 
distinction, which is a selfish motive.' The canny Scot 
disarms him — he mentions ^ Cecilia ;' and then Johnson, 
with an air of animated satisfaction, as the biographer 
records — * Sir, if you talk of ** Cecilia," talk on.' 

The gentleness to Fanny, and the roughness to Bozzy, 
are all over. Johnson has pressed her hand for the last 
time, and said ^Ah, priez £>ieu pour moi,* 

It is the 16th of December, 1785, and * the celebrated 
Miss Bumey' is on a visit to Mrs. Delany, at Windsor. 
This is the widow of Dr. Delany, the friend and panegy- 
rist of Swift ; so that she formed a link between the times 
of George the Third and the times of Anne. The King 
had given Mrs. Delany the occupation of a small house 
close by the Royal Lodge at Windsor; and he would 
occasionally walk in for a gossip with the ancient lady. 
The Queen, too, would sometimes come. Fanny Burney 
had been in a flutter for many daj'^s about these visits, 
ready to fly oflf if any one knocked at the street door. On 
this wintry afternoon she is in the drawing-room, with 
Mrs. Delany's niece, and a little girl, playing at puss-in- 
the-comer. Without any announcement, the door opens, 
and a large man, in deep mourning, enters, shutting the 
door himself. The niece exclaims, * Aunt, the King, the 

2 B 2 



372 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

King r and the kittens rush to the sides of the loom, a£ if 
they had been mice, and a real grimalkin had appeared 
amongst them. Fanny is planted against the wall, and ^e 
says, that she hoped to glide out of the room ; but Majesty 
asks, ' Is that Miss Bumey ?* And then, Miss Barney— 
standing against the wall, as everybody else stood, with 
the exception of the venerable lady — had, af^er sundry 




Gtorge III. 

royal monologues about James's powder, and whooping- 
cough, and rheumatism, the happiness (for who can doubt 
that it was happiness ?) to hear the King begin to talk about 
* Evelina ;' and how she never told her father about the 
book. Then the King, coming up close, said, ' But what r 
what? how was it?' — 'Sir!' — 'How came you? how 
happened it? what? what?' — *I— I— only wrote, sir, for 
my own amusement, only in some odd idle hours/ — • But 
your publishing, your printing, how was that V — * That 

vFas, sir, only because ' ' AVhat V — ' I thought, sir, it 

would look very well in print.' — 'Hal ha I very fair, 
indeed ! that's being very fitir and honest !' 



FANNY BURNEY AT COURT. 873 

Now comes the Queen — and then the King repeats all 
that he had said, and all that Miss Bnmey had said— and 
coining np to the hewildered maiden again, asks, * Are yon 
musical ?' — * Not a performer, sir.' The King crosses to the 
Queen, and communicates the &ct. But the royal curiosity 
is not quite satisfied. *Are you sure you never play? 
never touch the keys at all ?' — ' Never to acknowledge it, 
sir.* — *0h that's it;' and he imparts to the Queen, *She 
does play, but not to acknowledge it.' There is then a 
great deal of talk in the middle of the room — ^while those 
against the wall answer if spoken to — when the Queen, in 
a low voice, says, * Miss Bumey ;' — ^and upon Miss Bumey 
coming up to her, whispers — " But shall we have no more — 
nothing more ?' and Fanny cannot but understand her, and 
shakes her head. 

We see the shadow of 'little Bumey,' as she writes 
twenty pages of her diary on that eventful evening, smiling 
with inefiable happiness, and, we almost fear, forgetting 
that she had lived with those whose commendation was 
worth — shall we say it? — almost as much as * the excessive 
condescension ' to the authoress standing against the wall 
in Mrs. Delany's drawing-room. 

In July 1786, Miss Bumey has attained, in the view of 
the world, a high promotion. She is of the Queen's house- 
hold. She has a drawing-room and a bed-room in the Lodge 
at Windsor ; a footman, and two hundred a year. Is the 
authoress of * Evelina' a confidential amanuensis, — or 
English reader— or instructress of a Princess ? We see her 
shadow in the unvarying course of her daily life. 

Fanny rises at six o'clock. She dresses in a morning- 
gown and cap, and waits her first summons. What sum- 
mons her ? A bell. ' The celebrated Miss Bumey,' for a 
considerable time, can never hear that bell without a start, 
and a blush of conscious shame at her own strange degra- 
dation. These are her own words. Poor little Bumey! 
Your fskther, we would fain believe, forced you to wear 
these chains of servitude ; or perhaps you thought that to 



374 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

wait upon a * sweet Queen ' as a lady's maid — yes, Fanny, 
a lady's maid, nothing more nor less — was to be a bright 
fairy dressing a bom princess all in silk and diamonds for 
a ball, where the fairy herself might sometimes danoe. It 
is really very prosaic work. Miss Bumey has a helper — 
one Mrs. Thielky ; but there is also a lad}'^ above her in 




;.,^jf*"-" 



Queen Charlotte. 

office, one Mrs. Schwellenberg. Between seven and eight 
o'clock there is the Queen's morning dressing. Mrs. Thielky 
hands * the things,' and Fanny puts them on. At a quarter 
before one begins the dressing for the day. Fanny ought 
to be dressed herself before she enters the royal presence : 
but, we grieve to say, she is often unpunctual and half- 
unpowdered. Perhaps she has been musing over the re- 
membrance of the wisdom of Burke, or the kindness of 
Keynolds, rapt in a dream of the old familiar faces. The 
bell rings, and she must go. Mrs. Schwellenbei^ is there, 
and Mrs. Thielky ; and they help the Queen off vidth her 
gown, and on with her powdering things, and then the 
hair-dresser is admitted ; the Queen reading the newspaper 
during the operation. At three o'clock the ceremony is 
finished ; and * the celebrated authoress ' has actually two 



FANNT BURNEY AT COURT. 375 

hours of freedom. Is she jotting down notes for * Camilla,' 
or does she get a hreezy walk in the Little Park, shaded 
from that July sun by those o'er-arching elms, solemn as a 
cathedral aisle — ^as solemn, but how much more sweet! 
Poor Fanny! she also has had to put on her powdering 
things — the hair-dresser has been with her also a little after 
noon, and she has had no leisure to read the newspaper. 
She must sit still, lest the curls should be deranged, till she 
goes to dine with cross Mrs. Schwellenberg, punctually at 
five. No wonder that she gives way to dejection of spirits, 
and mopes over her diary. For three hours Fanny is tete-a- 
tete with the superior lady of the dressing-room mysteries, 
who propitiates the novice after this fashion : * I tell yon 
once, I shall do for you what I can ; you are to have a gown. 
The Queen will give you a gown ! The Queen says you 
are not rich.' Fanny pouts : ' I have two new gowns, and 
therefore do not require another.' — * Miss Bemar, I tell you 
once, when the Queen will give you a gown, you must be 
humble, thankful.' Poor little Bumey ! At eight o'clock 
the Equerry-in- waiting comes to tea in Mrs. Schwellenberg's 
room, and with him any gentlemen that the King or Queen 
may have invited for the evening. Fanny, for an hour, is 
in good society, as the world terms it ; but it is not quit« 
the society to which she has been accustomed. There is 
General Bud^, with a sneer in his smile that looks sarcastic ; 
but Major Price is kind and good-humoured ; and Colonel 
Goldsworthy, although a man of but little cultivation or 
literature, delights in a species of dry humour. An occasion 
arrives for the ' celebrated authoress ' to form a * grand de- 
sign.' Her superior is left in London, and the presidency 
of the tea-tabl e devolves upon Miss Bumey. She determines 
to cut ihe Equerries, and goes out; she had no ofScial 
commands to make tea for them. The man of little litera- 
ture is angry, and Miss Bumey gets through the affair very 
awkwardly. Fanny ! you are tethered, you had better not 
tug at the chain. The * sweet Queen ' is very condescend- 
ing ; but she rarely lets Mips Bumey forget that she is ther 
tis the servant, and not as the novel-writer. The Queen 



876 ONCB UPON A TBIK. 

has gone out early with the King, and Miss Bnmej thinks 
she may have a long walk : she is too late for the noon-tide 
dressing ; but she rushes into the room where Majesty is 
already imder the hands of the hair-dresser, with no Bumey 
to have disrobed her. * Where have you been. Miss Bumey ? 
It was small compliment to the authoress of ^JSvelina,' 
when the thunder-cloud had passed, to be told to look at 
Lady Frances Howard's gown, and see if it was not ven- 
pretty. Bui the poor thing receives it as kindness, and 
dries her tears. It was kindness. The Queen is really 
kind to her ; but, within that circle, there is an end of fret 
will. The oondition of existence in those dreary walls Ls 
unmitigated slavery. The very highest are the slaves uf 
their own forms ; their attendants, from the Lady of tkt 
Bedchamber to Miss Bumey * the dresser,* — ^from the Loni 
Chamberlain to Colonel Goldsworthy the Equerry — are 
equally, slaves. The man of dry humour thus describes tlie 
life which would have killed Major Price, if he had not 
resigned : * Biding, and walking, and standing, and bowing. 
— what a life it is ! Well ; it's honour ! that's one comfort : 
one has the honour to stand till one has not a fiK>t left ; and 
to ride till one's stiff, and to walk till one's ready to drop ; 
and then one makes one's lowest bow, d'ye see, and klesses 
one's-self with joy for the honour.' Fanny is never invited 
to hear the evening concert ; but Colonel Goldsworthy tells 
her how those who do hear it have to stand in an outer room 
for two hours. To be able to stand for hours without 
dropping, to walk out of a room backwards, and never to 
cough or sneesse — ^these were the qualifications for a court 
life, in the absence of which no talent and no virtue would 
be equivalents. 

We see the shadow of Fanny Bumey, as, on two occasions, 
separated by an interval of less than three months, she 
walks on Windsor Terrace. 

On the 2l8t of May, 1786— five months after the intro- 
duction to royalty at Mrs. Delany's — Doctor Bumey, who 
is desirous to be appointed Master of the King's Band when 
the decease should ensue of the then master, is thus advised : 



FANNY BURNEY AT COURT. 377 

'Take your daughter in your liand, and walk upon the 
terrace ; the King will understand.' The King was well 

experienced in such hints. Was the Bibhop of A * in 

declining health,' — unquestionably the Very Reverend the 

Dean of B would be on Windsor Terrace with his 

daughter. Was * Gold Stick ' confined to his bed — * Silver 
Stick ' would soon be shining on Windsor Terrace. We 
have seen the process in our boyhood, some twenty-five 
years later than the Sunday evening on which Miss Bumey 
stood to attract notice in this 'Vanity Fair.' It was a 
curious scene. About five o'clock, carriage after carriage 
began to roll up the Castle hill. That hill was then a sort 
of street, with house after house, close up to the ugly 
barrack, called the Lodge, which Sir William Chambers 
had erected opposite the great southern gate of the Castle. 
That lodge was the seat of Fanny Bumey's griefs. It was 
separated from the road to the terrace by an enclosed lawn. 
The eastern terrace was the great point of attraction. Here 
the aspirants for royal smiles clustered on benches placed 
under the Castle windows, whilst the commonalty were 
happy to get a seat on the low wall that looked down upon 
what was then a smooth turf, but now a garden. There is 
a sudden hush ; a door is opened, and Majesty is seen de- 
scending the steps. The bands burst out with * God save 
the King V the multitude are uncovered. Fanny has not 
arrived quite in good time ; but she is brought with Lady 
LfOuisa Clayton, and a place is obtained. Up and down 
walk the King and Queen, and the Princesses, and the 
Squerries ; the crowd squeeze themselves into the narrowest 
space as they come, and close in after they have passed. 
Fanny is shy, and draws her hat over her face ; she thinks 
her real errand will be suspected; but her chaperon puts 
her forward. The King has his how d'ye do — and when 
did you come— and how long shall you stay — and when do 
you come again — and — happy little Bumey — *Pray, how 
goes on the Muse ?'— * Not at all, sir.'— « No ! But why ? 
why not ?'— • I— I— I am afraid, sir.'—* And why ? of what V 
— and the King pokes his head under her hat — * Oh ! she's 



378 ONCE UPON A TIME, 

afraid.' Doctor Bumey had no word— and he didn't get 
the place. 

It is the 7th of August of the same year — the birthday of 
the little Princess Amelia. All the royal femily are ' new- 
dressed ;' people of distinction come to the terrace as to a 
drawing-room. Miss Bumey, too — who is now one of the 
Queen's attendants — is new dressed ; and why should c^ 
not go to the terrace ? She does go with Mrs. Delany. The 
King stops to speak to the good old lady — and he once or 
twice addresses her companion. The Queen — ^wfaen her 
attendant catches her eye— expresses, by one look of sur- 
prise, that she ought not to have been there. Fanny, in a 
flutter, kisses the little Princess of three years old — and 
before the people of distinction, too 1 In truth, Miss Bumey. 
you are much too impulsive ; three months have made a 
great diifei^nce in your positioi^ which you rather &il to 
comprehend. A mischievous Quarterly Reviewer — ^who 
found out that you were five-and-twenty, and not seventeen, 
when you wrote * Evelina ' — ^says, with the courtliest of airs, 
that your chief if not sole recommendations to the royal 
favour were your 'literary merits,' and your 'peisonal 
manners !' No doubt, you presumed upon those qualities, 
sometimes — and it was long before you were awoie that 
they were not wanted in your position. 

* Literary merits * have not very often public recognition, 
and when a demonstration comes it is generally embarrass- 
ing. There was a time when Miss Bumey, with the 
Montagues and Thrales about her, would have sat calmly in 
a box at the theatre, and received, vrithout much blushing, 
a tribute to her reputation. She is now in the Equerries' 
box — the balcony box — at one of the great theatres, in the 
front row ; the Koyal Family and their suite immediately 
opposite. The second Lady of the Bobes has been kindly 
permitted a few hours of relaxation. Miss Fanren conies on 
to speak the epilogue to a new play. Fanny leans forward 
with her opera-glass, intent upon the graceful actrees. 
There is a compliment to female writers, and she listens 
with breathless attention. What? Is it herself-— who 



FANKY BURNEY AT COURT. 379 

has been doomed to bear, from rude Mrs. Scbwellenberg, 
that she 'hates all novels* — to whom these two lines 
apply ? 

* Let sweet Cecilia gain your just applause, 
Whose every passion yields to Nature's laws.' 

The King raises his opera-glass to look at her, and 
laughs immoderately ; the Queen looks up too ; the 
Princesses look ; the maids of honour look. Fanny puts up 
her fan, and sits back for the rest of the night. Popular 
applause — and that midnight ' bell ' when she returns to the 
palace! 

We have read the * Diary and Letters of Madame 
D'Arblay,* with a real feeling of pity for her in those Miss 
Bumey days at Windsor, and Kew, and Buckingham Palace. 
Never was a flattered and petted lady — the most successful 
writer of fiction in an age when authoresses were few — 
subjected to such bitter mortifications, as in those two or 
three years of her imprisonment in that waiting-maid life. 
We see her restless shadow as she enters, with the royal 
cortege^ an unbidden guest, into the halls of Nuneham ; no 
servant to show her to her room — no welcome — no offered 
refreshment. Plain Mrs. Scbwellenberg gives her a pre- 
monition when, with her own pretensions as Miss Bumey, 
she tells the German lady that she has been introduced to 
Lord Harcourt at Sir Joshua Reynolds's : — * Oh ! it is the 
same — that is nothing — ^when you go with the Queen, it is 
enough; they might be civil to you for that sake. You 
might go quite without no, what you call, fuss ; you might 
take no gown but what you go in ; that is enough — you 
might have no servant — for what? You might keep on 
your riding-dress. There is no need you might be seen. 
I shall do everything I can to assist you to appear for no- 
body.' Literary merits, and personal manners ! — put them 
up in lavender, Miss Bumey; they will not wear well 
here with the new gown that the Queen gives you. 

It is the 1st of January, 1787, and Fanny Bumey is 
entering a wise resolve in her diary : * I opened the new 
year with what composure I could acquire. I considered 



380 ONCB UPON A TIME. 

it as the first year of my being settled in a pensffla*' 
situation, and made anew the best resolutions I was eqial 
to forming, that I would do what I could to curb all ipiiT- 
of repining, and to content myself calmly, unresistingly i*' 
least, with my destiny.' She has mistaken the real nfttc^ 
of the ' permanent situation.' It is no fault of hen tbi 
she is unfitted for it ; it is no fault of her royal bene&cu^ 
— for they ^wished to be so — that her promotion is d^is^ 
tion. Her destiny is an unnatural one, and she mua repiK 
The habituis of a court have their own exclusive associfltks-^ 
of rank and ambition,- of fashion and parade, to console tha; 
for the inconveniences of the * honour * in which they lir? 
But the literary lady's-maid — what sympathy has due: 
The Queen is condescending, but reserved ; the King ^ 
his what? what? as he has with everyone ; the Prinoesee 
are affable ; the Equerries are polite ; celebrities, thougli*^ 
a somewhat heavy character, come sometimes to the t» 
room — ^Mr. De Luc the geologist, Mr. Bryant the mjtkfr 
legist, and Dr. Hersohel the astronomer. But she meet^ 
Thomas Warton, the poet, in a hasty walk, and she m^ 
turn a deaf ear to his raptures, for she dare not ask him tt 
her room. No man must come there ; no lady, not in tk 
permitted list. Her correspondence with Madame de GenlK 
is forbidden. She is allowed to attend one day at the tzitl 
of Warren Hastings. Edmund Burke — a name that then 
stank in the court nostrils — espies her, and places himself 
by her side. Oh, Fanny, there are eyes iupon you ! Yg^i 
stammer as your old friend — the greatest man of his time- 
looks in your unaccustomed face with a familiar look d 
sincere affection. The tie is broken. He is the same ; bot 
you must wear a mask. 

We see the shadow of Fanny Bumey as iUness graduallj 
steals upon her. It must come. If she does not send that 
letter of resignation so often proposed, there will he a tear 
or two in the Lodge at Windsor for the little woman that 
was so clever and so pleasant, and yet so fidgety and un- 
happy. What could have ailed her ? She had *• two new 
gowns and everything handsome ' about her. The letter 



FANNY BURNEY AT COURT. 381 

vets sent ; and Fanny soon grew well at Norbury park, and 
iivrote * Camilla,' and married a pleasant emigri^ and had a 
3ottage of her own in the lovely valley of the Mole, and 
3ied at near ninety. We hope she was more at home 
in a foreign land than in that ngly Lodge at Windsor, of 
which, most happily, not a brick is left. 



382 OXCE UPON A TIME. 



THE FAEMER'S KITCHEN. 

Does any one now read * The Farmer's Boy,' by Kol*n 
Bloomfield? I have before me the edition of 1803, at which 
time it is recorded that twentj-«ix thousand copies kii 
been sold since the first publication of the poem in 18C"'. 
Byron has left a contemptuous notice of Bloomfield in ttr 
* English Bards.* But * The Farmer's Boy,' for all tkL 
will not be wholly forgotten. It is a truthful poem, foundfi 
upon accurate observation of common things, and describu^ 
the most familiar incidents and feelings with a rare fideliij 
— rare, amidst the conventional generalities of the vei^e 
making of that day. At a very early age I had means ut 
testing the truth of its descriptions. Let me give, from my 
own recollections, a picture of a farmer's household, n^'t 
long after the time when Bloomfield's poem was first pub- 
lished. 

On one of the roads from Windsor to Binfield, in the 
parish of Warfield, stands, or stood, a small farm-house, 
with gabled roof and latticed windows. A rude woodbine- 
covered porch led into a broad passage, which would have 
been dark had not the great oaken door generally stoc-d 
open. To the right of the passage was a large kitchen, 
beyond which loomed a sacred room — the parlour — ^un- 
opened except on rare occasions of festivity. To this grange 
I travelled in a jolting cart, on a spring afternoon, seated 
by the side of the good wife, who had carried her butter 
and eggs and fowls to market, and was now retiuning home, 
proud of her gains, from whose accumulations she boasted 
that she well-nigh paid the rent of the little farm. I was 
in feeble health ; and a summer's run was decreed for me. 
out of the way of school and books. My life for «ix months 
was very like playing at Farmer's Boy. 



THE farmer's kitchen. 383 

That small bed-room where I slept, with its worm-eaten 
floor and undraperied lattices, was, I suspect, not very per- 
fect in its arrangements for ventilation ; but then neither 
door nor window shut close, and the free air, redolent of 
Iieath and furze, found its way in, and did its purifying 
offices after an imperfect fashion. The first morning began 
my new country life — and a very novel life it was. It was 
Sunday. The house was quiet ; and when I crept down 
into the kitchen, I found my friend the farmer's wife pre- 
paring breakfast. On one side of that family room was a 
large oaken table covered with huge basins, and a mighty 
loaf ; over a turf fire hung an enormous skillet, full to the 
brim with simmering milk. One by one three or four 
young men dropped in, jauntily dressed in the cleanest 
smock-frocks — the son of the house had a smart Sunday 
coat, with an expansive nosegay of daffodils and wallflowers. 
They sat quietly down at the oak table, and their portions 
of milk were distributed to each. Now entered the farmer 
— of whom I still think with deep respect — a yeoman of 
simple habits but of large intelligence. He had been in the 
household of the Governor of Pennsylvania before the War 
of Independence ; and could tell me of a wonderful man 
named Franklin, whom he had known ; and of the Torpedo, 
on which he had seen Governor Walsh make experiments ; 
and of lightning drawn from the clouds. The farmer, his 
wife, and the little boy who had come to dwell with them, 
sat down at a round table nearer the fire. Sunday was a 
great day in that household. There was the cheerful walk 
to church ; the anticipations of the coming dinner, not loud 
but earnest ; the promise of the afternoon cricket. Returned 
from church, the kitchen had been somewhat changed in 
appearance since the morning ; the oak table was moved 
into the centre, and covered with a coarse cloth as white as 
the May-blossom ; the turf fire gave out a fierce heat, almost 
unbearable by the urchin who sat on a low stool, turning, 
with no mechanical aid, the spit which rested upon two 
andirons, or dogs, and supported in his labour by the 
grateful fragrance of the steaming beef. To that Sunday 



384 ONCE XSVOS A TIME. 

dinner — -ihe one dinner of fresh meat for the week — all eat 
down ; and a happy meal it was, with no lack even of 
dainties : for there was a flowing bowl of cream to make 
palatable the hard suet pudding, and a large vin^ar-bottle 
with notches in the cork to besprinkle the cabbage, and a 
Dutch cheese — and if I dream not, a taste from a flask 'diat 
immerged mysteriously from a comer cupboard. Then came 
the cricket and trap-ball of Southern England, yawns in the 
twilight, a glimmering candle, the chapter in the Family 
Bible, and an early bed. 

The morning of Monday was a busier scene. I was 
roused at six ; but the common breakfast was over. Hie 
skillet had been boiled at five ; the farmer was off to sell a 
calf; the ploughmen had taken their teams a-field. The 
kitchen was solitary. I should have thought myself alone 
in that world, but for a noisy companionship of chickois 
and ducklings, that came freely in to pick the crumbs off 
the floor. I wandered into the farm-yard, ankle deep in 
muck. In a shed I found my hostess, not disdaining to 
milk her petted cows. Her hand and her eye were every- 
where — from the cow-stall to the dairy, from the hen's nest 
to the fatting-coop. Are there any such wives left amongst 
us? Bloomfield has described the milking-time, pretty 
much as I saw it in those primitive days : — 

* Forth oomes the Maid, and like the morning smile:; ; 
The Mistress, too, and followed dose by Giles. 
A friendly tripod forms their humble seat, 
With paiU bright scour'd and delicately sweet. 
Where shadowing elms obstruct the morning lay — 
Begins their work, begins the simple lay ; 
The full-chargM udder yields its willing streams ; 
While Mary sings some lover's amorous dreams ; 
And crouching Giles beneath a neighbouring tree 
Tugs o'er his pail, and chants with equal glee ; 
Whose hat with tatter'd brim, of nap so bare, 
From the cow's side purloins a coat of hair, 
A mottled easign of his humless trade, 
An unambitious, peaceable cockade. 
As unambitious too that cheerful aid 
The MistTMs yields betide her rosy Maid; 



< 



THE farmer's kitchen. 385 

• 
With joy she views her plenteous reeking store, 
And bears a brimmer to the dairy door ; 
Her cows dismissed, the luscious mead to roam, 
Till eve again recall them loaded home.' 

After fhe milking-time was the breakfast for the good 
wife and for * Mary.' Twice a week there was churning 
to be done ; and as the butter came more quickly in the 
warmth of the kitchen the chum was removed there in 
that chilly spring-time. There was no formal dinner on 
week-days in that house. The loaf stood upon the table, 
with a vast piece of bacon, an abundant supply of which 
rested upon a strong rack below the ceiling. Some of the 
men had taken their dinner to the distant field; another 
or so came carelessly in, and cutting a huge slice of the 
brown bread and the home-cured, pulled out what was 
called a pocket-knife, and despatched the meal with intense 
enjoyment. At three, the ploughmen returned home. That 
was an hour of delight to me, for I was privileged to ride a 
horse to water in a neighbouring pond. The afternoon, as 
far as I remember, was one of idleness. In the gloaming 
(why should we not Anglicise the word ?) the young men 
slid into the kitchen. The farmer sat reading, the wife 
knitting. There was a comer in the enormous chimney, 
where 1 dwelt apart, watching the turf-smoke as it curled 
up the vast chasm. There was no assumption of dignity 
in the master when a song was called for. How well io I 
remember that song of Dibdin — 

* I left my poor plough to go ploughing the deep I* 

That song told of a war-time, and of naval dangers and 
glories ; and the chorus was roared out as if ' the inconstant 
w^ind* was a very jolly thing, and *the carfindo' who 
tempted the ploughman *for to go and leave his love 
behind,' not at all a bad fellow. 

I read * The Farmer's Boy»' after I was familiar with the 
farmer's kitchen. It is worth reading now, if it were only 
for its picture of a past age. Even at that time the Harvest 
Home was becoming ungenteel : — 

2c 



386 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

• 

* Here once a year DistiDction lowers its crest. 
The master, servant, and the merry guest. 
Are equal all; and round the happy ring 
The reaper's eyes exulting glances fling. 
And, warm'd with gratitude, he quits his place. 
With sun^bumt hands and ale-enliven'd face. 
Refills the jug his honour'd host to tend, 
To serre at once the master and the friend ; 
Proud thus to meet his smiles, to share his tale, 
His nuts, his conversation, and his ale. 

Such were the days — of days long past I sing. 
When Pride gave place to Mirth without a sting ; 
Ere tyrant customs strength sofficient bore 
To violate the feelings of the poor ; 
To leave them distanc'd in the madd*ning race, 
Where'er Refinement shows its hated face : 
Nor causeless hated ; — 'tis the peasant's curse. 
That hourly makes his wretched station worse ; 
Destroys life's intercourse ; the social plan 
That rank to rank cements, as man to man : 
Wealth flows around him. Fashion lordly reigns; 
Tet poverty is his, and mental pains. 

• • * * * 

Our annual feast, when Earth her plenty yields. 

When crown'd with boughs the last load quits the fields. 

The aspect still of ancient joys puts on ; 

The as{)ect only, with the substance gone : 

The self-same Horn is still at onr command. 

But serves none now but the plebeian hand ; 

For home-brew'd Ale, neglected and debased. 

Is quite discarded from the realms of taste. 

Where unaflected Freedom charm 'd the soul. 

The separate table and the costly bowl. 

Cool as the blast that checks the budding Spring, 

A mockery of gbidncss round them fling.' 

Were I to see that homestead once more, I have no donb' 
I should find, like the grandsire of Crabbe's poem, tha* 
♦ all is changed.* The scenes which live in my recollectioD 
can never come back; nor is it fitting that they shonld. 
With the primitive simplicity there was also a good deal of 
primitive waste and carelessness. Except in the dairr. 
dirt and litter were the accompaniments of the mde boiuie- 
keeping. The fields were imperfectly oidtivated; the 



THE farmer's kitchen. 387 

headlands were full of weeds ; there was one meadow close 
to the house, called the Pitle (still a Norfolk word), in 
which I assiduously, l^ut vainly, worked with a little hoe 
at defying thistles. I have no doubt that ' all is changed,' 
or the farm would be no longer a farm. The neglect be- 
longed to the times of the dear loaf. The * refinement ' of 
Bloom field really means the progress of improvement. 



2 c 2 



388 



ONCE UPON A TIME. 




Sir John Dinely. 

WINDSOR, AS IT WAS. 

My earliest recollections of Windsor are exceedingly de 
ligbtful. I was bom within a stone's throw of the Castk 
gates ; and my whole boyhood was passed in the mo6t un- 
restrained enjoyment of the venerable and beantifdl objects - 
by which I was surronndcd, as if they had been my owe 
peculiar and proper inheritance. The king and bis famiiv 
lived in a plain barraA-looking lodge at his castle foot, 
^hich, in its external appearance and its interior arrange 



i 



WINDSOR, AS IT WAS. 389 

ments, exactly corresponded with the humhle taste and the 
quiet domestic habits of George III. The whole range of 
the castle, its terrace, and its park, were places dedicated 
to the especial pleasures of a schoolboy. Neither warder, 
nor sentinel, nor gamekeeper interfered with oxir boisterous 
sports. The deserted courts of the upper quadrangle often 
re-echoed, on the moonlight winter evenings, with our 
whoo-whoop ; and delightful hiding-places indeed there were 
amongst the deep buttresses and sharp angles of those old 
towers. The rooks and a few antique dowagers, who had 
each their domicile in some lone turret of that spacious 
square, were the only personages who were disturbed by 
our revelry; — ^and they, kind creatures, never complained 
to the authorities. 

But if the inner courts of Windsor Castle rang with our 
sports, how much more noisy was the joy in the magnificent 
playground of the terrace ! Away we went, fearless as the 
' chamois, along the narrow wall ; and even the awful height 
of the north side, where we looked down upon the tops of 
the highest trees, could not abate the rash courage of follow 
my leader. In the pauses of the sport, how often has my eye 
reposed upon that magnificent landscape which lay at my 
feet, drinking in its deep beauty, without a critical thought 
of the picturesque I Then, indeed, I knew nothing about 

* The stately brow 
Of Windsor's heights/— 

nor could I bid the stranger 

* Th* expanse below 
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey.' 

My thoughts, then, were all fresh and vivid, and I could 
enjoy the scenes amongst which I lived, without those 
artificial and hackneyed associations which make up the 
being of the man. Great, too, was my joy, when laying 
my eye to the edge of the eastern wall, and looking along 
a channel cut in the surface, I saw the dome of St. Paul's 
looming through the smoke at twenty miles' distance. Then, 
Grod be praised, my ear had not been shattered, nor my 



390 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

heart hardened, by dwelling under the ehadow of that 
dome : — and I thought of London, as a place for the wiae 
and the good to be great and happy in — ^and not aft an 
especial den in which 

' All creeping creatures, Tenomoas md low,' 

might crawl over and under each other. 

The Park ! what a glory was that for cricket and kite- 
flying. No one molested us. The beautiful plain imme- 
diately under the eastern terrace was called the Bowliag 
Oreen; — and, truly, it was as level as the smoothest d 
those appendages to suburban inns. We took excellent 
care that the grass should not grow too fast beneath oar 
feet. No one molested us. The king, indeed, wooM 
sometimes stand alone for half an hour to see ihe boys At 
cricket ; — and heartily would he laugh when the wicket d 
some confident urchin went down at the first ball. But m 
did not heed his majesty. He was a quiet good-hnxnouied 
gentleman, in a long blue coat, whose face was as familiar 
to us as that of our writing-master ; and many a time had 
that gracious gentleman bidden us good morning, w^hen ve 
were hunting for mushrooms in the early dew, and had 
crossed his path as he was returning from his dairy to 
his eight-o'clock break&st. Every one knew, that mobX 
respectable and amiable of country squires, called His 
Majesty ; and truly there was no inequality in the matter, 
for his majesty knew eveiy one. 

This circumstance was a natural result of the familiar 
and simple habits of the court. There was as little pazade 
as can well be imagined in all the movements of George III. 
and his family ; and there was infinitely more state at sucb 
places as Stowe and Alnwick, than in the royal lodge at 
Windsor. The good man and his amiable &mily, perhaps, 
as a matter of policy, carried this freedom of manners to a 
little excess ; — and it was from this cause that the constant 
attacks of Peter Pindar, in which the satire is levelled not 
only against the most amiable of weaknesses, but against 
positive virtues, were so popular during the French revo* 



WINDSOB, AS IT WAS. 391 

lutionary war. But, at any rate, the unrestrained inter- 
course of the king with those by ^hom he was surrounded, 
is something which is now very pleasant to look back upon. 
I have now no recollection of having, when a child, seen 
the king with any of the appendages of royalty, except when 
he wont to town, once a week, to hold a levee ; and then ten 
dragoons rode before and ten after his carriage, and the 
tradesmen in the streets through which he passed duly 
stood at their doors, to make the most profound reverences, 
as in duty bound, when their monarch looked * every inch 
a king.' But the bows were less profound, and the wonder- 
ment none at all, when twice a week, as was his wont 
during the summer months, his majesty with all his family, 
luad a considerable bevy of ancient maids of honour and 
half-pay generals, walked through the town, or rode at a 
slow pace in an open carriage, to the Windsor theatre, 
which was then in the High Street. Header, it is impossible 
that you can form an idea of the smallness of that theatre, 
unless you have by chance lived in a country town, when 
the assembly-room of the head inn has been fitted up with 
the aid of brown paper and ochre, for the exhibition of some 
heroes of the spck and buskin, vulgarly called strollers. 
At the old Windsor theatre, her majesty's apothecary in the 
lower boxes might have almost felt her pulse across the 
pit. My knowledge of the dmma commenced at the early 
age of seven years, amidst this royal fellowship in fun ; — 
and most loyally did I laugh when his majesty, leaning 
back in his capacious arm-chair in the stage-box, shook the 
house with his genuine peals of hearty merriment. Well 
do I remember the whole course of these royal play -goings. 
The theatre was of an inconvenient form, with very sharp 
angles at the junctions of the centre with the sides. The 
stage-box and the whole of the left or 0. P. side of the 
lower tier were appropriated to royalty. The house would 
fill at about half-past six. At seven precisely, Mr. Thornton, 
the manager, 'made his entrance backwards, through a little 
door, into the stage-box, with a plated candlestick in each 
hand, bowing with all the grace that his gout would permit. 



392 ONCE UPOK A TIME. 

The SIX fiddles struck up * God save the King ;' the waJja^ 
rose; the king nodded round and took his seat sexttlk 
stage ; the queen curtseyed, and took her arm-chair ak 
The satin bills of their majesties and the piincesKs «ae 
then duly displayed, and the dingy green curtain drew isp. 
The performances were invariably either a comedy m 
farce, or faiore frequently three farces, vdUx a plent^ 
interlarding of comic songs. Quick, Suett, and Mis. y^i- 
tocks were the reigning &vourites ; and, about 1 800, Ellisr. v 
and Fawcett became occasional stara But Quick and S«^ 
were the king's especial delight. When Liovegold, is 
' The Miser,* drawled out • a pin a day 's a groat a y€«i. 
the laugh of the royal circle was somewhat loud ; but wb:: 
Dicky Gossip exhibited in his vocation, and accompaiik*i 
the burden of his song * Dicky Qossip, Dicky Gossip is tfe 
man,* with the blasts of his powder-puff, the cachinnatit 
was loud and long, and the gods prolonged the chorus <■ 
laughter till the echo died away in the royal box. At thf 
end of the third act, coflFee was handed round to the coir, 
circle ; and precisely at eleven the performances finished, - 
and the flambeaux gleamed through the dimly-lightf^ 
streets of Windsor, as the happy family returned to tlK^ 
tranquil home. 

There was occasionally a good deal of merriment goin; 
forward at Windsor in these old days. I have a dm 
recollection of having danced in the little garden whic^ 
was once the moat of the Eound Tower, and whici 
Washington Irving has been pleased to imagine 'existed in 
the time of James I. of Scotland. I have a perfect remeifi 
branoe of a fgte at Frogmore, about the beginning of the 
present century, where there was a Dutch fair, — and 
haymaking very agreeably performed in white kid gloves 
by the belles of the town, — and the buck-basket scene oi 
* The Merry Wives of Windsor,' represented by Fawcett 
and Mrs. Mattocks, and I think Mrs. Gibbe, under thf 
colonnade of the house in the open day — and vari^afed 
lamps — and transparencies — and tea served out in tenfr. 
with a magnijQcent scramble for the bread and butter. 



WINDSOR, AS IT WAS. 393 

There was great good humour and freedom on all these 
occasions ; — and if the grass was damp and the young 
ladies caught cold, and the sandwiches were scarce and the 
gentlemen went home hungry — I am sure these little draw- 
hacks were not to be imputed to the royal entertainers, 
who delighted to see their neighbours and dependants 
happy and joyous. 

A few years passed over my head, and the scene was 

somewhat changed. The king and his family migrated 

from their little lodge into the old and spacious castle. 

This was about 1804. The lath and plaster of Sir William 

Chambers was abandoned to the equerries and chance 

visitors of the court ; and the low rooms and dark passages 

that had scarcely been tenanted since the days of Anne, 

were made tolerably habitable by the aid of diligent 

upholstery. Upon the whole, the change was not one 

which conduced to comfort: and I have heard that the 

princesses wept when they quitted their snug boudoirs in 

the Queen's Lodge. Windsor Castle, as it was, was a sad 

patchwork affair. Elizabeth took great pains to make it a 

royal residence,, according to the notions of her time ; but 

there were many diflBculties in converting the old fortress 

into a fit scene for the gallantries of Leicester and Essex. 

I have seen, in the State Paper Office, a Beport of the 

Surveyors of the Castle to Lord Burleigh, upon the subject 

of certain necessary reparations and additions, wherein, 

amongst divers curious matters illustrative of the manners 

of that age, it was mentioned that the partition separating 

the common passage from the sleeping-room of the queen's 

maids of honour needed to be raised, inasmuch as the pages 

looked over the said partition before the honourable 

damsels had arisen, to the great scandal of her majesty's 

most spotless court, &c. Charles II. caused Yerrio to 

paint his crimson and azure gods and goddesses upon the 

ceilings in the state-rooms of Windsor; and he converted 

the old Gothio windows into hideous ones of the fashion of 

Versailles. Anne lived a good deal at the castle, but 

comfort was little understood even in her day ; and from 



894 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

her time, till that of George IV., Windsor was neglected. 
The castle, as it was previous to the recent complete 
remodelling, was frightfully incommodious. The pa&sages 
were dark, the rooms were small and cold, the ceilings 
were low, and as one high window gave light to two floo», 
the conversation of the lower rooms was distinctly heard in 
the upper. Greorge III. took a femcy to occupy the ae^ 
himself, from finding James Wyatt the solitary inhahitant 
of some magnificent apartments on the north side. The 
architect gave up his spacious studio ; the work of repara- 
tion hegan; and the king, in his declining years, took 
possession of a palace full of splendid associations with the 
ancient records of his country, but in itself a snfficientlj 
dreary and uncomfortable abode. He passed very few 
years of happiness here ; and it subsequently became to 
him a prison under the most painful circumstances which 
can ever attend the loss of liberty. 

The king and his family had lived at Windsor neark 
thirty years, before it occurred to him to inhabit his 
own castle. The period at which he took possession was 
one of extraordinary excitement. It was tlie period of the 
threatened invasion of England by Napoleon, when, as wis 
the case with France upon the manifesto of the Ihike of 
Brunswick, ' the land bristled.' The personal character of 
the king did a great deal towards giving the turn to-pubhe 
opinion. His unconquerable perseverance, which some 
properly enough called obstinacy — his simple habits, so 
flattering to the John Bullism of the day — his straight- 
forward and earnest piety — and the ease with which he 
appeared to put off the fanner, and put on the soldier, — 
each and all of these qualities were exceedingly in accord- 
ance with the temper of the times. The doings at Windsor 
were certainly more than commonly interesting at that 
period ; and I was just of an age to understand something 
of their meaning, and partake the excitement. Sunday 
was especially a glorious day ; and- the descriptiixi of one 
Sunday will furnish an adequate picture of those of two or 
'*"hree years. 



WINDSOR, AS IT WAS. 395 

At nine o'clock the sound of martial mnsic was heard in 
the streets. The Bines and the Stafford Militia then did 
duty at Windsor ; and though the one had seen no service 
since Minden, and most undeservedly bore the stigma of a 
past generation, and the other was composed of men who 
had never faced any danger but the ignition of a coal-pit, 
they were each a remarkably fine body of soldiers, and the 
king did well to countenance them. Of the former regi- 
ment Greorge III. had a troop of his own, and he delighted 
to wear the regimentals of a captain of the Blues ; and well 
did his burly form become the cocked hat and heavy jack- 
l)oot8 which were the fashion of that fine corps in 1805. 
At nine o'clock, as I have said, of a Sunday morning, the 
noise of trumpet and of drum was heard in the streets of 
Windsor; for the regiments paraded in the castle quad- 
rangle. The troops occupied the whole square. At about 
ten the king appeared with his family. He passed round 
the lines while the salute was performed; and many a 
rapid word of inquiry had he to offer to the colonels who 
aocompanied him. Not always did he wait for an answer — 
but that was after the fashion of royalty in general. He 
passed onwards towards St. Geoi^e's Chapel. But the 
military pomp did not end in what is called ther upper 
quadrangle. In the lower ward, at a very humble distance 
from the regular troops, were drawn up a splendid body of 
men, ycleped the Windsor Volunteers ; and most gracious 
were the nods of royalty to the well-known drapers, and 
batters, and booksellers, who had the honour to hold 
commissions ^in that distinguished regiment. The saluta- 
tions, however, were short, and onwards went the cortege, 
for the chapel bell was tolling in, and the king was always 
punctual. 

I account it one of the greatest blessings of my life, and 
a circumstance which gave a tone to my imagination which 
I would not resign for many earthly gifts, that I lived in a 
place where the cathedral service was duly and beautifully 
performed. Many a frosty winter evening have I sat in the 
cold choir of St. George's Chapel, with no congregation but 



396 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

two or three gaping strangers, and an ancient femak err' 
in the stalls, lifted up to heaven by the peals of the swces^ 
of organs, or entranced by the divine melody of the J-i 
DimittiSf or of some solemn anthem of Handel or B^tt 
breathed most exquisitely from the lips of Vanghan. > 
the object of devotion be to make us feel, and to cafiy »vv 
the soul from all low and earthly thoughts, assnredlT tk 
grand chants of our cathedral service are not without ^^ 
use. I admire — ^none can admire more — ^the abstract b» 
of an assembly of reasoning beings, offering up to the AutLr 
of all good their thanksgivings and their petitions in a ]^ 
and intelligible form of words ; but the question will alwtj* 
intrude, does the heart go along with this lip-eervioer- 
and is the mind sufficiently excited by this reasonibk 
worship to forget its accustomed association -with tk 
business, and vanities, and passions of the world ? T^ 
cathedral service does affect the imagination, and thnxi^ 
that channel reaches the heart ; and thus 1 can forgive ^ 
solemnities of Catholicism, (of which our cathedral serrkf 
is a relic,) which act upon ihe mind precisely in the eam 
way. The truth is, we Church of England pcK>ple h»^ 
made religion a cold thing by entirely appealing to the 
understanding ; and then Calvinism comes in to supply tk 
place of high mass, by offering an excitement of an entirdy 
different character. — But where am I wandering ? 

St. George's Chapel is assuredly the most beautiAil ges 
of the later Gothic architecture. It does not impress ih^ 
mind by its vastnessx jr grandeur of proportions, as York— 
or by its remote antiquity, as parts of Ely; but by its 
perfect and symmetrical beauty. The exquisite form of the 
roof— elegant yet perfectly simple, as every rib of each 
column which supports it spreads out upon the ceiling into 
the most goi^ous fan — ^the painted windows — ^the rich 
carving of the stalls of the choir — the waving baanens-^ 
and, in accordance with the whole character of the place, 
its complete preservation and scrupulous neatness — all these, 
and many more characteristics which I cannot describe, 
render it a gem of the architecture of tibe fifteenth centoiy. 



WINDSOR, AS IT WAS. 397 

As a boy I thought the Order of the Garter was a 
glorious thing: and believed, — as what boy has not 
3elieved? — that 

' The goodly golden chain of chivaliy/ 

AS Spenser has it, was let down from heaven to earth. I 
did not then know that even Edward the Black Prince was 
a ferocious and cruel spoiler of other men's lands, and that 
all his boasted meekness and magnanimity was a portion of 
the make-believe of those ages when the people were equally 
trampled upon by the victor and the vanquished. When, 
too, in the daily service of St. George's Chapel I heard the 
words, ' God bless our gracious sovereign, and all the 
knights companions of the most honourable and noble 
Order of the Garter,' — ^though I thought it was a little 
impious to parade the mere titles of miserable humanity 
before the footstool of the Most High, I still considered 
that the honourable and noble persons, so especially prayed 
for, were the choicest portion of humanity — the very ' salt 
of the earth,' — and that heaven would forgive this pride of 
its creatures. I saw the Installation of 1805 ; and I hated 
these words ever after. The old King marched erect ; and 
the Prince of Wales bore himself proudly (he did not look 
60 magnificent as Kemble in Coriolanus) ; but my Lord of 
Salisbury, and my Lord of Chesterfield, and my Lord of 
Winchilsea, and half-a-dozen other lords — what a frightful 
spectacle of fet, limping, leaden supporters of chivalry did 
they exhibit to my astonished eyes ! "Hie vision of * throngs 
of knights and barons bold ' fled for ever ; and I never 
heard the words again without a shudder. 

But I am forgetting my old Sunday at Windsor. Great 
was the crowd to see the king and his family return from 
chapel; for by this time London had poured forth its 
chaises and one, and the astonished inmates of Cheapside 
and St. Mary Axe were elbowing each othef to see how a 
monarch smiled. They saw him well, and often have I 
heard the disappointed exclamation, *Is that the King?* 
They saw a portly man, in a plain suit of regimentals, and 



398 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

no crown upon his head. "What a fearful falliiig-off from 
the king of the story-books ! 

The terrace, however, was the great Sunday attraction : 
— and though Bishop Porteus remonstrated with his Ma- 
jesty for suffering people to crowd together, and bands to play 
on these occasions, I cannot think that the good-tempered 
monarch committed any mortal sin in walking amongst 
his people in their holiday attire. This terrace was a 
motley scene. The barber from Eton and his seven daugh- 
ters elbowed the judge, who rented his back parlour when 
he was in the sixth form. The dowager who presented 
her niece at the last Drawing-room struggled for the front 
rank with the rosy landlady of the Red Lion at Brentfoid. 
The prime minister waited quietly amidst the crash till the 
royal party should descend from their dining-room, — 
smiling at, if not imheeding, the anxious inquiries of the 
stockbroker from Change Alley, who wondered if Mr. Pitt 
would carry a gold stick before the King. The only time 
I saw that minister was under these circumstances. It 
was the year before he died. • He stood firmly and prondhr 
amongst the crowd for some half-hour till the King should 
arrive. The monarch, of course, immediately recognised, 
him : the contrast in the demeanour of the two personage 
made a remarkable impression upon me — and that of the 
minister first showed me an example of the perfect self- 
possession of men of great abilities. 

After a year or two of this sort of excitement the King 
became blind ;-^and painful was the exhibition of the 
led-horse of the good old man, as he took his accustomed 
ride. In a few more years a still heavier calamity fell 
upon him — and from that time Windsor Castle became, 
comparatively, a mournful place. The terrace was shut 
up ; — the ancient pathway through the park, and tinder 
the castle walls, was diverted; — and a somewhat Asiatic 
state and stillness seemed to usurp the reign of the old 
free and familiar intercourse of the sovereign with the 
people. 

I was proud of Windsor; and my great delight was to 



WINDSOR, AS IT WAS. 399 

show the lions to strangers. There were always two 
staple commodities of this nature — the Round Tower and 
the State Apartments of the castle, which were not affected 
by any of the changes of the times. The Round Tower 
has an historical interest of a certain kind about it, from 
having been the prison of the captive Kings of France and 
Scotland in the reign of Edward HI. As we grow older 
this sort of charm becomes very worthless ; — for, after all, 
there is just as much philosophical interest in the wars of 
the Fantees and the Ashantees, as in those of the French 
and the English for the disputed possession to a crown, 
the owner or pretender to which never dreamt that the 
possession or the winning imposed the least obligation to 
provide for the good of the people from whom they claimed 
allegiance. However, I used to feel this sort of interest in 
the place ; — and when they showed me the armour of John 
of France and David of Scotland (as genuine, I dare say, 
as any of thosei which Br. Meyrick has consigned to ple- 
beian shoulders, and much later eras), I felt very proud of 
my country for having so gloriously carried fire and sword 
to the dwellings of peaceful and inoffensive lieges. * The 
Round Tower was a miserably furnished, dreary sort of 
place, and only repaid a visit by the splendid view from 
its top. But it once had a charm which, like many other 
chai-ms of our boyhood, has perished for ever. There was 
a yonng lady, a dweller within * the proud Keep,' to whom 
was intrusted the daily task of expounding to inquiring 
visitants the few wonders of the" place. Amongst the 
choicest of them was some dingy tapestry, which for aught 
I know still adorns the walls, on which were delineated 
various passages of the piteous story of Hero and Leander. 
The fair guide thus discoursed thereon, with the volubility 
of an Abbe Barthelemy, though with a somewhat different 
measure of knowledge : — • Here, ladies and gentlemen, 
is the whole lamentable history of Hero and Leander. 
Hero was a nun. She lived in that old ancient nunnery 
which you see. There yon see the lady abbess chiding 
Hero for her love for Leander. And now, ladies and 



400 ONCE UPON A TME. 

gentlemen, look at Leander Bwimming aciosB St. George's 
Channel, while Hero, from the nnnneiy window, holds out 
a large flambeau. There you see the affectionate meeting 
of the two lovers — and then the cruel parting. Ladies and 
gentlemen, Leander perished as he was swimming hsdc 
His body was picked up by Captain Yanslom, of bit 
Majesty's ship Britannia, and carried into Gibraltar, where 
it was decently buried. And this, ladies and gentlemeD, 
is the true history of Hero and Leander, which j-ou see <m 
that tapestry.' — Alas ! for the march of intellect ; stak 
guides are every day getting more and more scarce ; and 
we shall have nothing for our pains in the propagation d 
knowledge, but to yawn over sober sense for the rest <^ 
our lives. 

The pictures in the State Eooms at Windsor were Blifm 
worth seeing ; but the number exhibited had diminished 
from year to year. I remember the Cartoons there ; and 
also remember that I did not know what to make of them. 
The large men in the little boat, in the Miraculous Draoght 
of Fishes, were somewhat startling; but then again, the 
Paul preaching at Athens, and the Ananias, filled me foil 
of awe and wonder. I have a remembrance of a Murillo 
(a Boy and Puppies), which used to hang at the end of 
Queen Elizabeth^s Gallery; and I was amazingly taken 
with those two ancient pictures, the Battle of Spurs (1 
think) and the Field of the Cloth of Gold, which after- 
wards went to the Society of Antiquaries, and are now 
gone to Hampton Court. I never could thoroughly ad- 
mire King Charles's Beauties. — I dare say they were ex- 
cellent likenesses; for amongst them all, from Ladj 
Denham to the Duchess of Cleveland, there was a bold 
meretricious air — anything but the retiring loreline^ 
which always finds a place in the dreams of youth. The 
Misers is a favourite picture with everybody, for its truth 
of delineation and force of character : and yet there is no 
great skill of the artist in this celebrated work of the 
Blacksmith of Antwerp. It certainly looks very like 
what it is represented to be — the work of a self-taught 



WINDSOR, AS IT WAS. 401 

genius, labouring with irrepressible enthusiasm for a great 
object. I wdnder if he painted as well after he married 
the maiden, whoee hand he is said to have won by this 
proof of his dedication to love as well as to art. 

St. George's Hall, about which so much has been talked, 
-^as sadly out of character with its chivalrous associations. 
Verrio, with the wretched taste of his age, had painted a 
Roman triumph on the walls, in which the principal 
personages were Edward the Black Prince and his royal 
prisoner of France ; and with the same spirit of absurdity, 
and with a more hateful spirit of gross flattery, he had 
scrawled the ceilings of the whole palace with gods and 
goddesses, welcoming Charles II. to their banquets. In 
one respect he was right ; for this most mean and heartless 
profligate was a fit companion for the scoundrels of the 
Mythology— for the tyrant and the sensualist, the betrayer 
and the ^^pander, whether called by the names of Jupiter 
or Bacchus, of Mercury or Mars. And yet this Verrio (in- 
solent puppy!) had written up in this banqueting-room, 
set apart for high and solemn festivals — 

' Antoniiu Verrio, Keapolitanus, 
Kon ignobili stirpe natns, 
Molem hanc Fdicisanta Manu decoiHTit.'* . 

The double conceit of the Italian, — his pride of birth, 
and his pride of skill in his art — was altogether too lu- 
dicrous. 

Next to St. George's Hall there was a Quard Chamber, 
with matchlocks and bandoleers, and such-like curiosities, 
and a rapid sketch of the Battle of Nordlingen, painted for 
a triumphal arch by Bubens, worth all the works of Verrio, 
plastered as they are with real ultramarine. They say it 
was painted in four-and-twenty hours. Certainly genius 
can do great things. The last time I saw this Guard 
Chamber was on a solemn occasion ; but I shall never for- 
get the scene which it presented. In costume, in arrange- 

♦ * Antonio Verrio, a Neapolitan, bom of a not ignoble race, adorned thia 
building with a most happy hand.' 

2 D 



. 402 ONCE UPOX A TIME. 

ment, in every particular, it carried the imagination back 
three centuries. That occasion was when ^rooTge 111. 
closed his long years of suffering, and lay in state preyions 
to interment. This chamber was tenanted by the yeomen 
of the guard. The room was darkened — there was no li^t 
but that of the flickering wood fire which burnt on an 
ancient hearth, with dogs, as they are called, on each side 
of the room ; on the ground lay the beds on which the 
yeomen had slept during the night: they stood in their 
ancient dresses of state, with broad scarves of crape acroa 
their breasts, and crape on their halberds ; and as the red 
, light of the burning brands gleamed on their rou^ &ces, 
and glanced ever and anon amongst the lances, and coats 
of mail, and tattered banners that hung around the Toom, 
all the reality connected with their presence in that place 
vanished from my view, and I felt as if about to be usher^ 
into the stem presence of the last Harry — and my head 
was uneasy. In a few moments I was in the cliamber d 
death, and sJl the rest was black velvet and wax lights. 



( 403 ) 



CEABBE'S MODEEN ANTIQUES. 

It is seventy years ago since George Crabbe published his 
poem of * The Village/ His age was twent}'-nine. He was 
then in orders, and was domestic chaplain to the Duke of 
Kutlaud. But what a life the young man had passed 
through, before he had attained that social position I — 
Bom in what was then a wretched fishing hamlet, Aid- 
borough— roughly brought up— -imperfectly educated — 
apprenticed to a surgeon, without means to complete his 
professional studies — lingering hopelessly about his native 
place, — he at last resolved to cast himself upon the wide 
ocean of London, and tempt the feaiful dangers that be- 
longed to the career of a literary adventurer. Here he 
struggled and starved for a year. During the first three 
months of his London life he sent manuscript poems 
to the booksellers, Dodsley and Becket, which they 
civilly declined. He addressed verses to Lord Chancellor 
Thurlow, who informed him that his avocations did not leave 
him leisure to read verses. He sold his clothes and his 
books, and pawned his watch and his surgical instiniments. 
His one coat was torn, ^nd he mended it himself. He was 
reduced at last to eightpence, but the brave man never 
despaired. He had a strong sense of religion, and he was 
deeply attached to one who became his wife after thirteen 
years of untiring constancy. His faith and his love held 
him up, and kept him out of degradation. At last he wrote 
a letter to Edmund Burke. It contained this passage : ' In 
April last I came to London, with three poimds, and 
flattered myself this would be sufficient to supply me with 
the common necessaries of life till my abilities should pro- 
cure me more ; of these I had the highest opinion, and a 
poetical vanity contributed to my delusion.' Burke saved 
Crabbe from the fete of many a one who perished in those 

2d2 



404 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

days, when patronage was dying out ; and ihe various re- 
sources for the literaiy labourer that belong to the^xten^un 
of reading had scarcely begun to exist. Burke persuaded 
Dodsley to publish * The Library ;' and the Bishop of 
Norwich to ordain its author, vrilhout a degree. His lot 
in life was fixed. Thurlow invited him to dinner, and tdliBg 
him he was ' as like Parson Adams as twelve to a dozen,' 
gave him two small livings. He published • The Village' 
in 1783, and ' The Newspaper' in 1785. From that time 
to 1807, the world had forgotten that a real poet, of veir 
original talents, had appeared, for a short season, and was 
no more heard of. When Crabbe was fifty-three years d 
age, he again published a poem. This was * The Famh 
Register.' * The Borough ' speedily followed. His ' Tales' 
were in the same vein. Their success was trinmphaDt 
The author, whose worldly means were reduced to eigtt- 
pence in 1780, sold the copyright of his poems, in 1817, t*^ 
Mr. Murray for three thousand pounds. 

During these twenty-five years, when Crabbe was liviBg 
in the seclusion of unpretending duty, he was gatheiinf 
materials for works which are among the most valuable 
pictures of English life, as it existed in a generation that is 
recently past. It is the object of this paper to trace some 
of those representations of Classes that may now be termed 
obsolete. Old Aubrey says of Shakspere — * His comedies 
will remain wit as long as the English language is under- 
stood, for that he handles mores hominum.* It is the saiD^ 
with Crabbe. He rarely deals with those individual pecu- 
liarities which the early writers used to term * humours,' 
His satire and his pathos are essentially generic. He painu 
individual characters, and their costume is peculiar ; but 
it is not the mere caprice of the sitter that has settled the 
costume. It tells of past manners and modes of thought. 
It is historical. Sir Roger de Coverley is an individualised 
portrait; — so Parson Adams; — so my Uncle Toby; — but 
they are each great general representatives of human nature 
in their particular age and position. Thus, Crabbe did not 
wear a cassock, or choose a footman for his travelling com- 



crabbe's modern antiques. 405 

panion ; but in his simplicity and knowledge, Thurlow saw 
his resemblance to Parson Adams. Inferior masters paint 
coxcombities that have no relation to universal modes of 
thought or action. Shepherds say, that out of a thousand 
fiheep no one face is like another; but then, no one face 
is so peculiar that it is unlike the face of a sheep. Nature, 
in her individualization, cleaves to the general. So does all 
high art. 

* The Village ' of Crabbe is really his native * Borough * 
of Aldborough, in Suffolk. It was such a ' Borough ' as 
Englaud tolerated within the last quarter of a century. Its 
population, seventy years ago, has been described in lines 
-which forcibly contrast with the Arcadian pictures in 
Goldsmith's • Deserted Village.' 

' Where are the swaiDs, who, daily labour done, 
With mral games play'd down the setting sun ; 
Who struck with matchless force the bounding ball. 
Or made the ponderous quoit obliquely fiUl ; 
While some huge Ajaz, terrible and strong. 
Engaged some artful stripling of the throng. 
And fell beneath him, foil'd, while far around 
Hoarse triumph rose, and rocks returned the sonnd ? 
Where now are these? — Beneath yon cliff they stand. 
To show the freighted pinnace where to land ; 
To load the ready steed with guilty haste. 
To fly in terror o'ei* the pathless waste, 
Or, when detected, in their straggling course, 
To foil their foes by canning or by force ; 
Or, yielding part (which equal knaves demand). 
To gain a lawless passport through the land.' 

Amongst such scenes lived the young Poet; — amongst 

* a bold, artful, surly, sarage race ; 
' Who, only skill'd to take the finny tribe. 
The yearly dinner, or septennial bribe,' 

-watched the tossed vessel from the shore, rejoicing in the 
prospect of a wreck. Smuggler, wrecker, venal elector — 
all are gone from Aldborough. The * Borough * is 'disfran- 
chised ; wise revenue laws have put an end to the smuggler's 



406 ONCE UFOK A TIME. 

Yooation. With the Binuggler Tanished the pedlar ^^^ 
carried ahout contrahaud goods : — 

* Dawkios, a dealer once, on bnrthenM back 
Bore his whole eabstanoe in a pedlar's pack ; 
To dames discreet, the duties yet unpaid, 
His stores of lace and hyson he oonvey'd.' 

They are gone. Will the time never arrive when wise la^^s 
shall consign the poacher to the same oblivion ? 

Crabbe has described the sorrows of the poor, in verses 
which may have done something to lead us to mitigate the 
labourer's lot, by benefits more enduring than what is ms- 
called Chariiy. He has described, too, the Poor-house. 
such as it existed in those days : — 

< Theirs is yon House that holds the parish poor. 
Whose walls of mad scarce bear the broken door ; 
There, where the patrid yaponn, flagging, play. 
And the doll wheel hams doleful throng^ the day, — 
There, children dwell who know no parents' care.' 

That wretched parish workhouse is gone. No walls ^ 
mud — ^no broken door — no naked rafters — no patched paiiw 
— no pestilent vapours in badly-ventilated rooms. The 
parentless children are taught far better than many who '^ 
know the parents' care. Society is doing its duty to step 
the growth of pauperism, and to succour real destitntioO' 
There are two obsolete portraits connected with the For. 
which we may happily contrast with the same official per- 
sons in our own times. 

And -first, the Parish Apothecary, who struts into th^ 
wretched bedroom of the old Workhouse, where 

' The drooping wretch reclines his languid head.' 

The Apothecary comes : — 

< But soon a load and hssty summons calls, 
Shakes the thin roof, and echoes round the wall^ ; 
Anon, a figure enters, quaintly neat, 

AH pride and business, bustle and conceit ; 
With looks unaltered by these scenes of woe. 
With speed that, entering, speaks his haste to go^ 



CRABBE's MODERK ANl'IQUES. 407 

He bicb tlie gasing throng around him Ry, 
And carries fiite and physic in hie eye : 
A potent quack, loi^; versed in human ills. 
Who first insults the victim whom he kills ; 
Whose mnrd'rous hand a drowsy Bench protect, 
And whose most tender mercy is neglect. 
Paid by the parish for attendance here, 
He weara contempt upon his sapient sneer ; 
In haste he seeks the bed where misery lies, 
Impatience mark'd in his averted eyes ; 
And, some habitual queri^ harried o'er. 
Without reply, he rushes on the door ; 
His drooping patient, long inured to pain, 
And long unheeded, knows remonstrance vain ; 
He ceases now the feeble help to crave 
Of man ; and silent sinks into the grave.' 

Jeffrey, writing in the Edinburgh Beview in 1807, sa^'S : 
*The consequential apothecary, who gives an impatient 
attendance in these homes of misery, is admirably de- 
scribed.' If Jeffrey had reviewed Crabbe thirty years later, 
he must have said that such a character was a creature of 
pure imagination. Let any person who knows of the 
labours of the medical officer of a Poor Law Union say if 
there be one now in the charge of an English parish, 

' Who first insults the victim whom he kills ;' 

who is protected by * a drowsy Bench ;* 

' And whose most tender mercy is neglect.' 

In these our days, happier in many respects, the medical 
officer, overworked as too many official and non-official 
people are, can rarely be accused of want of zeal. He rides 
from cottage to cottage ; he is ready at all hours by day or 
by night ; a thousand eyes are upon him. People of all 
ranks know that neglect of the poor is visited upon the 
rich. But his discharge of his duty is the result of what 
has become an esprU de corps. He has deep responsibilities 
which ' bustle and conceit ' will not shuffle off. He must 
know, and he must act. His ministry is one of benevolence ; 
and he must work it out, even in the face of his own danger 



408 OKCE UPON A TIME. 

and Bufferuig. If fever strike down the poor muL, *l3ie 
doctor,' as the poor man calls him, must be at his tide. 
There is' no * drowsy Bench * to tell him to stay away; for 
more vigilant administrators know that if the sick mm die 
there are orphans to be provided for. The whole tcne of 
society has changed in its estimate of the Poor and tk 
duties which we owe to them. No wonder that CrabWs 
Parish Apothecary is as obsolete as the Physician's muff cf 
a century ago. 

I approach, with equal confidence, the obsolete portrsit 
of the Parish Priest — ^he who is summoned to the pauperis 
bed to impart the last consolations : — 

* But ere his death some pioas doabts arise. 
Some simple fears, whidi '* bold bad men " deapiae ; 
Fain would he ask the parish priest to prove 
His title certain to the joys above ; 
For this he sends the murmaring none, who oalla 
The holy stnmger to these dismal walls : 
And doth not he, the pious man appear. 
He, '* passing rich with fortj pounds a year ?** 
Ah I no: a shepherd of a different stock. 
And far nnlike hhn, feeds this little flodc : 
A jovial youth, \fho thinks his Sunday's task 
As much as God or man can fiuriy ask; 
The rest he gives to loves and labours light. 
To fields the morning, and to feasts the night ; 
None better skill*d the noisy pack to guide. 
To urge their chase, to cheer them or to chide ; 
A sportsman keen, he shoots^hrough half the day. 
And, skiird at whist, devotes the night to play : 
Then while such honours bloom around his head. 
Shall he sat sadly by the sick man's bed, 
To raise the hope he feels not, or with zeal 
To combat fears that e'en the pious feel ?' 

That Priest has followed the Parish Apothecaiy to ob- 
livion. But I have seen the man, even in my time. I 
have seen an honourable and revei)Dnd gentleman paciog 
down the main street of a country town, with gun in band. 
and mob at heel, to a pigeon-match. Are there such 
ministers left? I believe not. They are with the Panon 
Trullibers of a century ago. Simple indifference, to say 



CRABB£*8 MODBRN ANTIQUES. 409 

noihmg of more nnseemlj attributes of the clerical cha- 
racter, has passed away. The clergyman's office, by a 
happy appropriation of a true English word, is called his 
* duty.' The modem clergyman knows that * to do duty * 
is to do something more than preach once a week — that 
he is called to be the friend and the civilizer wherever he 
is placed. The meaning of the word 'duty' was very 
much forgotten, by more classes than the clerical, when a 
sentence went forth that, Heaven be praised, need not be 
sculptured upon pedestals of brass — 'England expects 
every man to do his duty.* These memorable words have 
sunk into the national heart. 

But there is another official character, whose business is 
with Parishes and Poor ; and he is also &st becoming ob- 
solete. Crabbe has well described him : — 

* There is a doabtftd Pauper, and we think 
Tis not with ns to give him meat and drink : 
There ii a Child ; and 'tis not mighty dear 
Whether his mother lived with ns a year : 
A road's indicted, and onr seniors doubt 
If in our proper boundary or without : 
But what says our Attorney ? He, our friend, 
Tells us 'tis just and manly to contend. 
** What I to a neighbouring parish yield your cause, 
While yon have money, and the nation laws ? 
What I lose without a trial, that which, tried. 
May — ^nay, it must — ^be given on onr side ? 
All men of spirit would contend ; such men 
Than lose a pound would rather hazard ten. 
What ! be imposed on ? No ! a British soul 
Despises imposition, hates control." ' 

How truly has the Poet recorded the wordy debates, and 
high resolves, that followed in the wake of the ' doubtful 
pauper!' How Churchwarden, Overseer, Justice, Con- 
stable, and Attorney, revelled in the prospect of a Settle- 
ment Appeal ! What post-chaises of witnesses they car- 
ried to the Sessions I How they stopped at the Half-way 
House, for a preliminaiy dinner, to prepare them for the 
coming fatigues I How they spent the evening before the 



410 OyCE UPON A TIME. 

trial-day in going over all the points with the AttoracVi 
Clerk ! How the most learned of the OverseeiB quoted 
Bum's Justice, whilst the impatient Clerk, held hj the 
button, assented and sneered. How they lingered about 
in the county town, nothing loth, for tiiree days of en- 
thusiasm and feasting ! How the awful moment at last 
came on! How the witnesses were catecliised in the 
entrance of the County Hall ! How they blundered and 
broke down; or swore bravely that the ten-pound-a-year 
tenement was a fictitious rental, or that the apprentice ran 
away in the last week of his servitude. It was a glorious 
scene, whoever conquered. One of the set of combatants 
went home with blue ribbons in their hats ; and the rival 
attorneys took a secret bottle togetiier, before they parted, 
to settle how the costs should be managed. And these good 
old times are gone too ; and the Parish Attorney is for the 
most part as obsolete as the law which branded the pauper 
in the shoulder with R. or V. 

Where is the ancient Mayor gone — ^he of the close' Coipo- 
ration of the little Borough ? 

* Him in oar Body-Corporate we choee. 
And onoe among as, he abore us rose ; 
Stepping from post to post, he reach'd the Chair, 
And there he now reposes — that's the Major.' 

Where shall I find the Olympian* Jupiter of my own young 
days ? He is gone for ever. The only possible relic of 
the race is a London Alderman — who is aLso travelling to 
the limbo of all ignorance and corruption. Let me solace 
my memory with the shadow of my Corporator. He was a 
retired shopkeeper, who, finding the struggle to ascend 
into the atmosphere of gentility perfectly hopeless, sat 
himself quietly down to lord it over his former equals for 
the rest of his life. As he took his morning walk to the 
Coffee-room— (that was our only Literary and Scientific 
Institution), I could recognise him at a street's length hr 
the dignity of his gait. His greeting of an old brother of 
the scales was suited to the publicity of the place in which 



crabbe's modern antiques. 411 

they met ; but with the Eeotor or the Captain he was ever 
familiar. Yet he did not spend his time in greetings in the 
market-places. He was a busy man. He was on his legs 
at every Vestry; it was essential that every one should 
know his opinion. He supported the powers that be, from 
the Lord Chancellor to the watchman. He never moved 
without a precedent. Any one who doubted him was a 
Eadical — (that was the word of opprobrium in those days). 
When he saw a chance of serious discussion he rose to 
'Order.' If the malcontents persisted in thinking the 
public business involved some necessity for discussion, he 
appealed to the meeting to support the Chair— and thus 
the Ayes had it. Nevertheless he was an Orator. I have 
heard him at a public dinner, when the Corporation was 
toasted, rise and say : — 

* Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, for myself and my worthy 
colleagues I beg leave to thank you for the honour you 
have done us in drinking our healths, and beg leave, in 
return, to drink all your good healths.' It produced a. 
wonderful impression. 

At an Election his genius luxuriated. He was seen arm- 
in-arm with the ministerial Candidate on his canvass, and 
sat on his right hand at dinner. On the day of Election 
he always seconded the nomination of the * The Honourable 
Eichard Overdo, commonly called Lord Overdo.' Though 
an orator and a literary man — for he delighted to call upon 
the printer of the provincial newspaper to tell him that he 
had put an 6 for a c, or a g for a p — he hated the spread of 
intelligence. He hated National Schools— but he pa* 
tronised the old Fi:ee Schools, which distributed the arts 
of reading and writing like prizes in the lottery. I knew 
him not in the secret councils of the Body Corporate ; but 
I knew that in or out of office he was the great wheel of 
the machine. He and any two were a majority. His sole 
policy was to keep that illustrious Body, and the in- 
habitants of his Borough, perfectly distinct. He delighted 
that the Body should have the start of the Town in an 
address to Eoyalty. He held that the Body was bound to 



412 ONCE UPON A TIMK 

give no account of its proceedingB. To do him jttstice, lie 
tolerated no private miftappropriation of the Corporate 
funds. They were for the solace and dignity of the Body. 
It was an uncorrupt Corporation ; hut it never did sdt- 
thing for the Public good. 

And he, too, is gone — in the Provinces. 

Of the same family as the ancient Corporator was the 
ohsolete Justice of the Peace : — 

* In contest mighty, and of conquest proud. 
Was Justice Bolt, impetuous, warm, and loud ; 
His fame, his prowess, all the country knew. 
And disputants, with one so fierce, were few.' 

The Justice was greatest in his Monthly Club. The Hc^ 
Inn where the Club was held is described by Crabbe ; iti 
ample yards, its ready chaise, and smart driver. Who ci 
my times does not recollect the lordly host, who lookcii 
after the travelling arrangements with his ' first turn-out 
and jhis pompous bow as you drove from the door ? \Mh) 
can forget the lady-hostess, who welcomed the Justice u 
the Club with *your honour,' and left Mr. Smith, "vhfl 
walked in with a carpet-bag, to find his own way to a chair 
and a fire ? The landlord is gone, and eke the landlady. 
Bailroads have ruined the Head Inn. If you enter it nv« 
you find it dilapidated. There is half a fowl and a hsiB* 
bone in the larder. Tou shudder when you order dinner, 
and are told you can have * am/thing.* You wait an hoiai 
for a chop, in a room fifty feet long, with a large cracked 
chimney glass and a dingy chandelier. The carpet U 
faded; the curtains are musty; the tables are rickety. 
Tou ask for Port, and you cannot drink it You ask fcr 
your bill, and you are puzzled by its items and its total. 
In its old days the Justice was proud of the Head Inn, — 

* Where rector, doctor, and attorney pause, 
First on each parish, then each public cause; 
Indicted roads, and rates that still increase. 

The marmiuing poor, who will not fast in peace ; 
Election zeal, and friendship nnce declined, — 
A tax commuted, or a tithe in kind.' 



CRABBERS MODERN ANTIQUES. 413 

The Justice never missed the Club. He was perpetual 
Chairman of the- Club. How he would talk at the Club ! 

' In^priTate bosineM his commands prevail ; 
On public themes his reasoning tarns the scale : 
Assenting Silence soothes his happy ear, 
And, in or out, Aw party triumphs here/ 

His great party, in or out, was the anti-educational party. 
A younger man would sometimes argue with him; but 
he was soon discomfited. Such dialogue is stereotyped, 
as it were, in my memory ; for the time is not very distant 
when its echo was common enough in the land : — 

The wise man talked of that arch-deist, Joseph Lan- 
caster, who set up his schools in the days of George III. 
He asked where our servants were to come from, if all 
learnt to read ? He held that all the reading in the world 
TTOuld not beat out the gin-shop. These opinions were not 
peculiar to the Justice forty years ago. But the schools 
went on; and when the people could read they wanted 
l>ooks ; and a few Mechanics' Institutes were established. 
Then waxed our friend more and more wroth at the Club. 
*• I think there is a general improvement of manners pro- 
duced by education,' says a timid rebel; *you soarcely- 
ever hear an ill word from a mechanic in the streets.' 

* No,' says Justice Bolt, • they are too cunning for that ; 
they have learnt to be sly; they don't give you a good 
rotmd volley of oaths, like their honest fathers ; they can 
blaspheme enough when they get by themselves in then* 
pot-houses, with their cards, and their dice, and their flash 
songs. I know all about that. Do you think I never 
heard of the Dog and Duck, and the Bull in the Poimd, 
and the Blue Cat?' The educator has one more word: — 

* They go now to Literary and Scientific Institutions.' 

* Oh ! Literary and Scientific Institutions I literature and 
science for a working man I Sir, if you come to that I 
have done. Improve their taste did you say ? what have 
the house-painter, and the mason, and the carpenter, and 
the weaver to do vnth taste ? Do their work better, will 



414 ONCK UPON A TIME. 

they ? They won't work at all, sir. I should hsre been 
ruined, sir, if I had known anything about taste. Hold 
your tongue. I did hope we might have been able to save 
ourselves, in spite of reading and writing. But literature, 
and science, and taste I Come, sir, you stop the bottle.* 

Thus talked the Justice. But his tongue is silent nov. 
The enemies of education have passed away. Higher prm- 
ciples, better examples, than belonged to thirty or even 
twenty years ago, have grown up amongst us. The and- 
educators are gone out with the horn-books. I am told 
that Messrs. Longman, the eminent publishers;, have soe- 
ceeded in obtaining a Horn-Book, which they preserve as a 
relic of English literature. How truly did that little in- 
strument, which consisted of the alphabet pasted tipon t 
board, and curiously preserved by a semi-transparent honi. 
represent the state of knowledge ; when even the A, B, C. 
was mistily exhibited, and covered over as a rare thinr. 
There were gingerbread alphabets, too, in those days ; an*! 
they were devoured as the good child's rewards. The 
horn-books and the gingerbread alphabets were for the fev. 
If all the children under instruction learnt now^ in horn- 
books, where should we find cattle enough to produce the 
horn ? In the old time the supply was proportioned to the 
demand. 

The objectors to the education of the Poor were answeretl 
even in their own days ; and Schools went on and prospered 
But the school education for all did not fit all, or any, for 
the understanding of the most simple fundamental principle^ 
upon which their own happiness essentially depended. Th^ 
poor were not taught to go alone. Are they yet adequately 
taught ? The manufacturing classes spend a few millions 
every two or three years in fruitless strikes. Where hav^ 
they been taught to understand the true relation between 
Profits and Wages ? Capitalists, no doubt, are as ignorant 
of many great economical truths as Labourers are. ^\!l]en 
will they both learn that their interests oan never be sepa- 
rated? 

But if the Education of the Poor was scant and wretched 



cradbe's modebn antiques. 415 

in the past days, what was the Education of the Kch ? The 
flogging schoolmaster was becoming a disgrace even in 
Grabbers time : — 

* He was, it seem'd, a tyrant of the sort 
Who make the cries of tortured boys his sport 5 
One of a race, if not extinguish'd, tam'd, 
The flogger now is of the act asham'd j 
But this great mind all mercy's calls withstood. 
This Holofemes was a man of blood. 

** Students," he said, '' like horses on the road, 
Must well be iash'd before they take the load ; 
They may be willing for a time to nin. 
But you must w^ip them ere the work be done." ' 

Yet the schoolmaster clung, unabashed, to his system, 
especially in onr great public schools. Flogging was like 
the capital punishments of the State. It was cherished as 
an instrument of goreming with the greatest amount of 
ease to those having the responsibilities of goTemment. It 
stood in the place of watchfulness and affection. There 
were no proportions observed in the application of this 
paltry and inefficient discipline. Dullness and wickedness, 
theoretically, came under the same stripes ; but, pi-actically, 
dullness made a bad copy of verses, and was infallibly 
punished, while wickedness committed every excess that 
could disgrace the uneducated, and escaped untouched, 
because undiscovered. What did a boy of average intellect 
learn at a Public School five-and-twenty-years ago, besides 
an imperfect acquaintance with the words and phrases of 
antiquity, with little appreciation of its literature? It is 
nothing for Eton to point to its Wellesley and its Canning, 
and Harrow to its Peel and its Byron. Great intellects 
^will always assert themselves, in spite of the circumstances 
irvhich surround them. The question here, as in all other 
questions of education, is, what is the average amount of 
enlightenment in a school, as in a nation ? K a system 
existed under which the greater number of boys might, 
without disgrace, possess not the slightest knowledge of 
mathematics,— escape learning any modem language, — 
have no perception of the distinction between the Tudors 



416 ONCX UPON A TIME. 

and the Stuarts, —fiincy America an island, — and dierKli 
an indistinct notion that there had been a dispute whether 
the earth went round the sun, or the sun round the eartK 
and didn't care how it was settled, — that system, howcTer 
fashionable, was not education. Arnold came, tlie greatest 
of schoolmasters, and the system has been reformed. Some- 
thing still remains to be done. 

The ten precious years that a boy spent at the great 
classical schools were wasted upon hezametexB and penta- 
meters. The same time was then equally wnasted at the 
ordinary boarding-schools, upon text-hand and Bmall-hsnd, 
and holiday pieces, on which the writing-master floniidiei 
swans and angels. Of ladies* education I do not ventvt 
to speak. At the ' seminaries ' for young gentlemen, the 
boy who stayed till sixteen, and was then placed in a house 
of business, found that he had to learn to compose tk 
most ordinary letter; and though he had been ihioiK]i 
every rule in Walkinghame's Arithmetic, he had yet to 
penetrate the mysterieia of practical book-keeping. Yeiy 
few left school with any knowledge of decimals. Bat in bo 
class of schools were young people taught to prepare for 
the public duties wh^ch all Englishmen have to peifons. 
The lad grew into a man, and was put into o£Boe. He dM 
exaotlywhat others had done before him. The surveycnrof th« 
roads knew nothing of road-making, besides carting a load 
of stones to a rutty place, and leaving the rest to &te. The 
overseer, resolved that John Oubbins ^wuld many Jaae 
Humphreys, put up the banns. The churchwarden in- 
sisted that Farmer Williams should turn away his mod 
trusiy and honest ploughman, because he had only tws 
children, and employ the laziest rascal in the parish, who 
was blessed with four. And the squire, who ruled surveyor, 
overseer, and churchwarden, took to ordering parish pay 
at the rate of two shillings a head for every child, and 
doubling the allowance for bread in times of scarcity. 
It is marvellous that we ever got out of this Slough of De- 
spond ; for Ignorance put us there,, and there Ignorance 
held us. 



cbabbk's modbbn antiques. 417 

Crabbe has well described the condition of bis ' Borougb,' 
as to one prevailing ignorance of rich and poor : — 

' Between the roadway and the walls, offence 
Invades all eyes, and strikes on erery sense. 
There lie, obscene, at every open door. 
Heaps from the hearth and sweepings from the floor ; 
And, day by day, the mingled masses grow 
As sinks are disembogued and kennels flow/ 

Tboae matters, whicb we now call Nuisances, disturbed no 

complacency, and suggested no duty, tbirty years ago. 

Wbat an Augaean stable was my native town of Windsor ! 

In tbe playing-fields of tbe town, tbe Bachelors' Acre, was 

a vast open cesspool, fed with drains from every street, and 

constantly encroaching upon tbe cricket-ground. That was 

a bappy spot for healtbfiil recreation I On every road-side 

was wbat was familiarly termed *the black ditch.' In 

every aUey was a lesser black ditch. I could walk nowhere 

without encountering a black ditch. Yet the Court lived 

amongst this filthy reek — and no one heeded. Once or 

twice there was a talk that something must be done — and 

then, Authority was eloquent against innovation. A poor 

man dies of typhus : * Well, Dobson is dead, and the wife 

and six children must go to the house.' The rash apothe- 

oary ventures to say — *' There's a horrible ditch at the back 

of Gkkrden Court — the common drain — poisonous enough to 

breed fever in every family.' Authority looks awful: 

• Ditch, sir I don't talk to me of ditch. We have always 

bad ditches, sir. I never heard before that people died of 

ditches. Dobson's father lived Ibere all his life. Cheaper 

to make sewers, is it ? Who's to pay for the sewers ? 

Everybody knows that Garden Court doesn't smell of roses ; 

but what of that? The people don't mind, — and why 

should we ?' And then Authority chuckles, and whispers to 

brother Aulbority — * Poor Dobson won't get his ten pounds 

at the next election ; look out for a tenant, or a vote will 

be lost.' 

We have done something, since those times, to raise the 
physical condition of the whole population ; and this exei^ 

2e 



418 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

tion, shortcoming as it may be, ought to produce a moral 
elevation. Are we morally improved ? That is a great 
and solemn question. I think we are. There are many 
evils to be corrected — social and private evils. But the 
aggregate character of society i$ improved. Look at 
Hogarth's priht of * The Cockpit.* Hogarth truly painted 
a peer and a chimney-sweep, a doctor and a horse-jockev, 
all busily engaged in the same pursuit. K there be socli 
brutalities now, they are private vices. There may be men 
whom society calls respectable, who have badger-baiting in 
their own gardens ; and entertain their friends with the 
old scenes of the Westminster pit, while liveried {mges take 
away the dead rats, and hand about the champagne : hot 
the exhibitions of such atrocities are at an end, or they an 
secret. Fifty years after Hogarth, Crabbe described a cock- 
fight:— 

* Here bis poor bud th' iDhmnan om^er bringi, 

ArmB his hard heel, and dips his golden wiogs j 

With spicy food th' impi^tient spirit feeds. 

And shouts sod earaes as the battle bleeds. 

Struck through the brain, deprived of both his e^es. 

The vanqoish'd bird must eiombat till he dies ; 

Must fiuntl J peck at his victorious foe, 

And reel and stagger at each feeble blow: 

When &llen, the savage grasps his dabbled plumes. 

His blood-stain'd arms for other deaths assumes ; 

And damns the craven fo^l, thAt lotit his stake. 

And only bled and perish*d for his sake.' 

Well ! The peasant cocker has followed the lordlj 
Cocker to oblivion. Even the colliers of StaffordBhiie. 
once the great seat of cocking, have forsaken the sport. 1 
have blushed, as a youth, to hear the * Wednesbury Cock- 
ing ' — a famous slang song— encored by worshipful men ax 
a ptiblic dinner ; the mildest of its brutalities bein^ that 
* Billy, he whacked his own feyther.' Police reports daily 
familiarise us with more hatefal cruelties, such as onr poet 
has described — 

' the curse, the cries 
Of beaten wife, perverse in her replies.' 

But nobody makes a joke of such things. There are not 



CRABBERS MODERN ANTIQUES. 419 

more of such crimes now than formerly ; but they come into 
the broad daylight of publicity. Let ns ask ourselves what 
would have been the amount of such evils of passion and 
intemperance, had the whole mass of the people remained 
iininstructed and neglected? The publicity that is in- 
evitable now has its useful though painful results, in telling 
us we must go on to destroy the evil at its root. 

Crabbe has described the newspapers of 1784, when there 
were only seventy-nine newspapers in Great Britain and 
Ireland, instead of the hundreds of this time ; and when the 
viUage reader would 

* Stay for tidings till they're three days old.' 

The poet had no love for newspapers : — 

« Here Scandal whets her qxuU, 
And Slander shoots unseen, whene'er she will : 
Here Fraod and Falsehood laboor to deceive, 
And Folly aids them both, impatient to believe.' 

Seventy years ago, the newspaper-press had no high 
character to sustain ; and Crabbe was perhaps right At 
this day there is nothing in the World comparable to the 
general honesty of the British newspapers. The paper 
that would build its sale on 'fraud and falsehood'— as a 
few obscure journals have attempted, till they were hooted 
out of existence— would not be prosecuted now ; it would 
be despised and die. Newspapers may offend in our days, 
but they rarely corrupt. They may be prejudiced in their 
own opinions ; but they give the opinions of others with 
perfect &imess. Public men speak to the public through 
the newspapers ; and thus the saying of Burke, that he who 
read one paper for a year would be of the opinion of the 
writer, has ceased to be a truth. It is remarkable how 
soon a demagogue — ' the obscene bird of night/ — ceases to 
fly in the sunlight of modem newspapers. Strong writers, 
as they used to be called, who united the * venom of the 
shaft * to the * vigour of the bow/ would now write in vain 
against the evidence of silent facts. Wilkes and Junius 
were for other times. 

2 e2 



420 ONCE UPON A HUE. 

Ciabbe has giTen me a text for a few concluding remaHts 
upon popular literature. Let me endeaTour to recollect 
sometliing of my early experience of what was to me popiilar 
literature. 

From the circumstance of my position, I lived amongst 
books, ancient and modem. I had the unrestricted range 
of a large collection of old books. I could help myself U< 
every novel, from ' The Grand Cyrus * to the * Mysteries cl 
Udolpho.' I knew a few great books tolerably well — books 
which belong to all time. In my course of desultoi^' read- 
ing I had sense enough to know that ^ a good book is tbe 
precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and trea- 
sured up on purpose to a life beyond life.'* But I wanted, 
as every young man wants, something especially suited tv' 
my own times, I wanted good elementary books, paitiec^ 
larly of a scientific character. Where was I to find the©" 
I tried to set myself task-work with dry books of the day; 
but, oh, how I wearied f For the union then was ccb 
plete between the useful and the repulsive in knowledge. 
I had nothing to lead me by pleasant paths into the hi^ 
road of information. I had to scramble througb bogs as^ 
thickets before I was in the right way. I had no * Pcdbt 
Magazine,' no * Chambers' Journal,' no * Household Words' 
If I wanted a laugh, I had no ^ Punch.' There was i» 
Jerrold in those days to show how the comic could bW 
with the earnest. There was not a cheap weekly misceUast 
to be had that was not infamous. No wonder that I hsu^ 
gered for fiction. I devoured the old standard dishes agais 
and again. Who could be satiated with ' Hobinson Crusoe, 
and ' Don Quixote,' and * The Arabian Nights ?' I rea^ 
* Gulliver's Travels,' without knowing how crashing m- 
heartless that book was. I read ' Tom Jones ' and ^ Boderick 
Random,' without shrinking from their indelicacy ; for. ii 
truth, I heard coarse things enough spoken aloud in what 
was called decent society. But I wanted something o: 
fiction that should come nearer the manners and thought.^ 
of my own generation. Crabbe shall tell what I got — with 
* Milton: * Areopagitica.* 



crabbe'b modsrn antiques. 421 

a few exceptions, snch as the novelB of Godwin and Hoi- 
croft — out of the circulating library : — 

' When all our childish books were set apart. 
The tirst I read was " Wanderings of the Heart ;" 
It was a story, where was done a deed 
So dreadful, that alone I fear'd to read. 
The next was ** The Confenions of a Nan,"— - 
'Twas quite a ahaoie such eril should be done ; 
Nun of — no matter for the creature's name. 
For there are girls no nunnery can tame : — 
Then was the story of the Haunted Hall, 
Where the huge picture nodded from the wall, 
When the old lord look'd np with trembling dread, 
And I grew pale, and sh udder 'd as 1 read : 
Then came the tales of Winters, Summers, Springs, 
At Bath and Brighton, — they were pretty things ! 
No ghosts or specti^ there were heard or seen. 
But all was lore and flight to Gretna-green.' 

The very titles of these staple productions of *The 
Minerva Press* are quite sufficient to suggest a contrast 
inrith the fiction that is now popular. Some of the novelists 
that have written since those days have taken their place 
amongst the Classics of our language. We have had Edge- 
worth, and Austen, and Scott ; we have Bulwer, and Thack- 
eray, and Dickens. 

Are we improved, tlien, in our Popular Literature — the 
literature that will always be most popular^ that of the 
story-teller ? We have done, I think, with the ghost school 
and the Gretna-green school. The Newgate school is gone 
out, too. We have done with that historical school, which 
-was &r more dull than any real history. We have done 
ivith the men-and-manners school, which painted such men 
as never lived, and such manners as never were shown in 
real life. W^e have done with the silver-fork school, which 
despised everything universal, and pretended to show how 
Lord Booby's house was furnished, and how Lady Grizzle 
talked in the Opera-box. All are gone. I doubt if we shall 
see any of them again. 

One word more of my early reading. 



422 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Of Poetiy my new storeB were not very aUnring. I tried 
Hayley's * Triumphs of Temper,* and I may truly say with 
Byron, * they triumph'd over mine.' There were ' SccBee 
of Infancy,' and * Scenes of Youth,' and * Vills^© Scenes,' but 
I could not live in those * Scenes/ 1 read ' The Fanner « 
Boy,' for I knew its truth. * The Minstrel ' was my school 
prize-hook. But I could not stand Pratt, or Bishop, or 
HoUoway, or Harrop. I suppose nohody now has ever 
heard of these popular authors ; and I trust they will never 
he emhalmed in Johnsonian prefEkces^as some earlier veise- 
makers, equally worthless, have heen consigned to posteritr. 
From such as these, 1 went hack to my Shakepere and ibt 
Pope, my Bums and my Gowper. Kogers and Campbell 
indeed, shone amidst the darkness, each * a hright particular 
star.' ' The Lay of the Last Minstrel ' had scarcely tbes 
come hot-pressed into life; Wordsworth had not euterad 
into the popular mind ; Coleridge was mentioned, by iHtkt 
few who knew his name, as a sleepy mystic ; Southey was 
voted dangerous ; and Moore was hidden under the 8(^ 
cushions. Byron had not arisen to make a poetical revoh- 
tion. Crabbe himself was scarcely resuscitated. Keat? 
was exalted to the heavens by one set of critics, and coc- 
signed to the Bathos by another ; and Shelley was feared 
and neglected. Tennyson and Browning were in tl^ 
womb of time. My range of Poetry, in 1807, and far 
several years after, was narrower thaai yours, my young 
friend. 

In running over the names of the illustrious of modern 
Poetry, and modem Romance, it is of the first importauce 
to recollect that we appreciate what we have gained diir> 
ing this half-century. We have got high poetiy, and vr 
know that we have got it. Wordsworth became popular 
when cheap knowledge was presented to the people. >Ve 
have got Fiction that .is the mirror of reality. Dickens 
spoke to the People when they were beginning to get cheap 
knowledge ; and how they welcomed him I As the a|;:gre- 
gate intelligence of a nation is raised, the dull and the 
mischievous amongst authors soon find their place. Patrt»n- 



ckabbe's modern antiques. 423 

age and faabion can do nothing. The rapid communication, 
too, between one people and another people, alike tends to 
the imiTersal, — ^upon which all enduring Literature must 
be built, whatever be its individual form. It is a fortunate 
circumstance that the most popular things in all literature 
must be essentially based upon the cultivation of the best 
parts of our intellectual nature — ^upon the power of render- 
ing sound knowledge attractive, or of stirring the imaginar 
tion by fictitious narrative or description that is pleasurable 
in proportion to its purity and truth. There is really no 
permanent power in literature but what is universal — and 
there is nothing universal that is tainted with the desire to 
gratify a morbid taste in any class of readers, be they high 
or low. 

I have attempted some delineations of past character. 
The equality of ranks, in the common pursuits of intellect, 
now gives a tone of uniformity to the aspects of ordinary 
life, which destroys some individual characteristics :— ^ 

' Society is smoothed to that excess 
That manners hardly differ more than dress.** 

But the great characteristics of Classes will always prevail. 
The callous Doctor, the sporting Fai-son, the litigious At- 
torney, the pompous Corporator, the bullying Justice, tlva 
flogging Schoolmaster — these who in their power of good or 
evil moulded, in a large degree, the temper of their times — 
these are Modem Antiques. Such varieties of the old anti- 
progressive species are gone. But other varieties will arise, 
and buzz through their little day. Out of the democratic 
3leinent may perhaps come as great nuisances as the exclu- 
sive has bred amongst us. Knowledge has produced 
essential changes in one generation. It is * a Fountain, such 
IS it is not easy to discern where the issues and streams 
.hereof will take and fall.'f But one thing is clear — Know- 
edge can never produce half the amount of evil which 
[gnorance has produced ; and it may reasonably be doubted 
vhether real Knowledge vas ever productive of evil. The 

♦ Byron, f Bacon. 



424 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

wise man. Lord Bacon, who termed Knowledge 'a Foun- 
tain,* oalk upon ns ' to mle and gcdde the course of ^ 
waters, by setting down this position, namely, tiat all 
Knowledge is to be limited bj Beligion, and to be refared 
to use and action.' To limit Knowledge thus is not to 
narrow it ; for its boundaries are the extremest range of 
God's creation, to be reverently discovered, step by step, 
by man's reason. I have no fear of Knowledge. I consid^ 
it my especial happiness to have lived in a progresa^ 
condition of society — progressive as regards the ontvud 
prosperity of the country — progressive in respect of ^ 
intellectual advancement of lie People. There have Iwes, 
and there still are, many evils in the transition state thrDO^ 
which we are passing. We may have lost some of tk 
simplicity of * the antique world.' There are strong contrast? 
of manners, as I have shown in some particulars, betwm 
the beginning and the middle of the half-oentuiy. Tkeie 
is more display — I fear there is more selfishness. * V)m 
living and high thinking ' have to be sought as a distinctisi 
amongst some of the more ambitious classes. But there 
never was a time when the great bulk of the oommunitj- 
in spite of many mistakes and omissions of duty— ^f^ 
more true to their inheritance of ^ titles manifold ' among^ 
the nations : — 

* Sound healthy children of the God of Heaven.'* 



* WoniBWorth, 



( 425 ) 



THE LEADING PROFESSION, 



{[The following paper vras written before we had a Prerentive Police ; before 
Prisons were regulated upon some system, however imperfect ; and when the 
terror of Capital Punishments — always threatened, but capriciously inflicted 
— was the sole principle upon which crime was sought to be repressed. We 
are in many respects wiser than we were thirty years ago ; but a considera- 
tion of what we have amended may lead us to meditate upon what we 
have still to amend.] 

The choice of a profession was at all times an affair of 
difficulty, and it has become peculiarly so at a period when 
the avenues to success, whether in the walks of theology, 
of law, or of medicine, are blocked up by a crowd of eager 
competitors. Nor is the path to wealtii, by the more beaten 
track of commercial pursuits, less impeded by the struggles 
of rivalry, the intrigues of connection, or the overwhelming 
preponderance of enormous capital. For adventurous young 
men, not cursed by nature with a modest or studious turn, 
and who are impatient to take the post of honour by a 
coup-de-mairiy a state of war offers an ample field for the 
profession of arms; but in a time of peace that field is 
narrowed to a very aristocratic circle, and the plebeian 
spirit learns to be tamed in the never-ending rebuffs of the 
Horse Guards and of the Admiralty. All things considered, 
and with a due regard to the necessary education, the 
certain rewards, and the few chances of failure, it appears 
to us that the profession which involves the least individual 
expense in its necessary studies, the aspirants being 
constantly trained at the public cost — which is supported 
by the greatest excitement of popular observation so as to 
satisfy the most insatiate appetite for fame— which presents 



426 ONCE UPON A TUIR 

the most open field for exertion, so as to leave the ad- 
Tentnrer the largest choice of opportunities — and which is 
fenced round from the attacks of private envy or revenge 
bv the most powerful support of individual functionaries — 
that most cherished and honoured profession is that of a 

THIEF I 

And, first, of the education of this profession. 

We will imagine a youth to whom the hononrs of his 
calling are not hereditary. He has been broug^ht up, is 
other youths are, either in absolute ignorance of the world 
which has preceded him, and the world which is before 
him ; or with such an CM)quaintance with the tendencies of 
mankind as they are learned in the book of history, or 
the safer volumes of experience, as will satisfy him that the 
least successful of the sons of men are the most conscien- 
tious. If he be utterly uninstructed in book-learning, and 
yet have a tolerable acquaintance with the things around 
him, he will see (if he open his eyes) that the one thing 
needful is money ; — that cunning has a much surer grasp 
of that summum honum than wisdom ; — and that the contempt 
of society is only reserved for the poor. Hence poverty, 
as Talleyrand said of the execution of the Due d'Enghiea, 
is worse than a crime — it is a blunder. 1£ he derive his 
knowledge from the half-truths, half-fables of his speciesu 
he will discover that fraud and violence have always 
secured to themselves a much larger portion of what are 
called the blessings of life — competency, luxury, high 
station, influence, command — ^than sincerity and modera- 
tion. If he live in the country, he has constantly presented 
to his eyes the condition of a vast many miserable people, 
who are reduced to the utmost extremity of perpetual 
suffering — their honest pride trampled upon, their afieotions 
outraged, their commonest wants unsupplied, — and for no 
personal demerit that he can perceive, but because they are 
laborious, patient, inoffensive, easily satisfied, content to 
do their duty in the station to which they are bom. If he 
abide in a city, he discovers that most direct modes of 
')btaining a living are ill paid— that squalid filth follows 



THE LEADING PROFESSION. 427 

the scanty earnings of the mechanic — that the tradesman 
'who vends an honest commodity cannot compete with the 
quack an4, the puffer — that insolent yiee always thrusts 
modest virtue into the kenneL In either case he perceives 
that mankind, directly or indirectly, spend their lives in 
endeavours to abstract more than they have a right to 
abstract from the property of their neighbours. He com- 
mences, by dint of hard reasoning, a professional career of 
resolving to practise that philosophy which teaches him 
that the institutions of society are chains only for the weak. 
If he be a peasant, he tries his hand at poaching ; if a 
London blackguard, at picking pockets. In either case 
the law soon takes charge of his further education ; and 
he is duly sent to that most instructive Ahna Mater^ — a 
prison. 

The care which is now bestowed upon the nurture of his 
infemt hopes is prodigious. He has abundant leisure for 
the cultivation of his faculties ; he has no ansdety about 
the events of the passing day ; he is introduced to the full 
enjoyment of the^ society of the most careless, enthusiastic, 
and undaunted men in existence, as well as to the ablest 
instructors in his peculiar art. 

All knowledge, but that which is to lead him to excel- 
lence in the profession which he now must choose, is 
despised ; — all views of the social state, but those which 
regard man as a predatory animal, are held to be low and 
unattractive ; — all employments of the talents of the human 
race, but those which present themselves to the lion heart 
in the shape of burglary, and to the cautious understand- 
ing in the not less attractive forms of coining and shop- 
lifting, are pronounced to be mean and ungratifying. 

The facility with which the profession of a thief is 
acquired is a wonderful recommendation of its excellent 
and manifold advantages. In this college, the honours are 
bestowed after an examination for which the previous study 
is very inconsiderable — the * wooden spoon ' feels that his 
rank is by no means settled in the estimation of his 
examiners, but that a successful adventure may place him 



428 ONCE UPON A TIHE. 

in the first degree of the beloved of Bow-street ; — and even 
he that is ' plucked ' for wanting in the reckless qualities 
by which excellence is attained, may hope to prepare him- 
self next session (the 'term' of onr houses of feloniuae 
maintenance) for the most distinguished companionship of 
that fraternity, which, above all others, generonslj delight? 
in imparting its blessings to novices by the most unzemittiBg 
system of proselytism. 

Nor is it any derogation from the i^reeable nature of 
this education (when compared to education in general) to 
say, that the student ofken receives bodily chastisenient in 
the progress of his willing labours. The laws have no 
punishments which touch his mind. If he be remanded to 
his prison, he is only condemned to a further acquaintance 
with the agreeable society to which he was introduced when 
he first entered its walls. He has formed friendsbipe whii^ 
will last for life ; he is secure of patronage when lie comee 
out again upon the stirring world ; he will, in future, hart 
no lack of counsellors and abettors. Admit that he is 
sentenced to be privately whipped ; in this he does not 
diifer an ounce from the highest of the land. The boys d 
the middle classes have been gradually becoming more 
exempt from the terrors of indecent bodily chastisement : 
but inflictions upon the person are still the peculiar pri^> 
lege of the noble students of Westminster and £ton, and 
the not less ambitious denizens of Newgate and Brixton. 
Long may they each enjoy these ancient and politic rights, 
which have such a decided influence upon the destinies both 
of the statesman and of the felon ! 

From the moment that our aspirant leaves his first 
prison, he becomes a public man. His preparation for the 
duties of life is complete. He rushes at once into his 
stimulating career, — and he reaps a full harvest of profit 
and of fame. Less fortunate candidates for distinction may 
waste an existence in obtaining a single puff of the 
newspapers. Thousands of authors die for lack of criticism ; 
painters go off by scores, because no obscure scribbler ever 
echoes tiieir names; the finest of women have been 



THE LEADING PROFESSION. 429 

figurantes at the opera for twenty seasons, without having 
attained to the recorded dignity of a pas seiU at the Surrey ; 
and ostentatious citizens have given dozens of dinners, to 
which some gentlemen of the press were duly invited, and 
yet never once saw their magnificence, under the head of 
' Court and Fashion,' in the * Morning Post/ But the very 
fint adventure of a thief is fame. Is a watch snatched out 
of a window in the Strand? ten daily papers, and two 
hundred and fifty weekly, immediately describe the 
astonishing incident in the most glowing colours; — is 
a pocket picked in the pit entrance of Druiy-lane? the 
embryo hero of the evening sees his fame duly chronicled 
in the morning journals; and, lastly, if by some error 
in judgment he appear before Sir Bichard Bimie, he 
excites the sympathy of all mankind, being * a remarkably 
good-looking and interesting young man, attired' (yes, 
attired is the phrase) * in the highest style of fashion, and 
his hair elegantly arranged.' Who can resist such 
flatteries as these? After such encouragements, what 
candidate for the final honours of the New Drop would 
abandon his stimulating career, and retire (if he could) 
to the prose of common life, 

* CoDtent to dwell in deceucies for ever ?" 

The legislative care which is bestowed upon the common- 
wealth of thieves must be abundantly gratifying to every 
member of the profession. Their calling never cankers by 
neglect ; they must have a perpetual vigilance as to what 
laws are enacted and what are repealed; what is grand 
larceny to-day, and petty larceny to-morrow. The statistics 
of their realm, too, are known and registered with the 
greatest accuracy. The condition of their palaces forms 
the constant object of magisterial and parliamentary 
solicitude ; and societies are specially constituted in aid of 
all this official vigilance, to see that their apartments are 
airy, and their provisions wholesome. The most affec- 
tionate care of their health is duly taken ; and if, at any 
period of their lives, foreign travel is recommended, a 



430 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

coitntiy, which is admitted on all hands to be the finest in 
the world, is specially appropriated for their enjojment. 
All this is highly stimulating. 

But the great encouragement to the adoption of this 
branch of the profession of the Bar consists in the ricb 
endowments which society has provided for its CTiltiTatioiL 
All the property, and with it all the gratifications, of this 
earth, are the patrimony of the judicious thief- For him 
the covetous man gathers his pelf, and the ostentatioTS 
man his plate and jewels. In his case there is no tedious 
waiting for employment; no sighing for years for a 

* maiden brief,' as in the law — ^no starving for life npon a 
Welsh curacy, as in the Church — no wearing a^vaj the 
best years of life in the sickness of * hope deferred/ as with 
a subaltern or a midshipman — no walking the world for a 
day's work, as with the starving Irish labourer. In the 
privileged profession, the supply always keeps pace witi 
the demand. The active world is a comnuinity of bees, 
but the thief gets the honey. His business is * to roTe 
abroad, centum puer artium, to taste of every dish, and Kip of 
every oup.' He has no care for the morrow, because 
he knows that for him the heads and hands of innumerahk 
servants are doing his bidding. He has only to walk forth 
and choose. He lives in a perpetual belief that the world 
was made for him, — and he is as right as Alexander was. 

The times are past when thieves were persecuted. This 
may appeal' a paradox to those who look only npon the 
surface, — who hear of a score of unfortunates perishing 
annually at the Old Bailey, or behold the Recorder of 
London pouring into the ear of sovereignty the tale of their 
sorrow and their crimes. To believe that the admini- 
strators of the laws are in earnest in their endeavour to 
repress the honest labours of the commonwealth of plun- 
derers is a mere delusion — a mental hallucination— a 
prejudice \n liich is cultivated with infinite care, for the sole 
object of rendering the legal possessors of property easy in 
their minds. It is a pleasing and satisfying belief— 

* amabHis insania, et mentis gratiesimus error, ^ The thieves and 



THE LEADING PROFESSION. 431 

the police magistrates know better. The profession is 
most diligently patronised bj the administrators of the 
laws ; not to speak it profanel j« there are regular articles 
of coparceny between the thief and those who are falsely 
imagined to be his pursuers. ' Latro is arraigned and^iir 
3it8 on the bench.* Those who affect to be hunting out the 
oriminal are the dignitaries of the conunonwealth of crime. 
The mistaken people who, in general, are hanged, or 
transported, or immured in solitary cells, or whipped, 
ire not registered in the University of Larceny. They are 
fools who attempt to do business in a small way, without 
regard to the corporate rights of Bow-street and Union 
[fall. They have Hot graduated, and they must pay the 
jenalty. But a prudent adventurer never enters the higher 
nralks of the profession without protection. He incurs 
lo risks ; he surrenders a handsome portion of his profits 

enjoy the remainder in peace ' under his own fig-tree.' 
To such, the police is not an affair of discovery or of 
)revention, but of regulation. There is no affectation of a 
(rant of union in the several callings of the thief and the 
•fficer. They have grown together in happy relationship 
inoe the days of Jonathan Wild. A poet of the last 
entury says, 

* Jdj eveningM all I would ^th sharpers spend, 
And make the thief-catcher mj boflom friend.' 

Lnd indeed they are very pretty companions together over 
leir claret. The dignitary sits with his feet under 
ie same mahogany with the returned convict; or he 

1 Vice to the Eothschild of the fiash-house, who at that 
koment is negotiating with the partners of the Bnstol 
ank, touching the return of twenty thousand pounds' 
orth of abstracted bills, for the honourable consideration 
r fifty per cent, and no prosecution. 

Civilisation was very little advanced when the common- 
ealth of thieves was really persecuted. The present 
Iminifitration of the laws against felony is the keystone 
at binds the arch of depredation. Without magistrates 



432 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

and officers, who do not prevent crime, bat nnne it 
men individTudly would peril their lives against thoce 
who invade their property. But all this possible blooddied 
is now saved. A well-ordered police, the stipendiaries at 
once of the publio and those who ease the public of their 
superfluous possessions, accommodates all difficulties ; and, 
gradually, the rights of thieves are as effectually reoc^nised 
as the rights of any other painstaking class of the com- 
munity. Look at this jarrangement, and see, not only hov 
much it has contributed to the respectability of the pro- 
fession of larceny, but what an insurance of their \rm 
it gives to society, by rendering robbery a quiet gende- 
manly art, in whidi violence is only the argument of 
bunglers, and which is carried to the highest point d 
peifection by that division of labour, upon which all 
excellence, whether mental or mechanical, must be built 
It occasionally happens that the most brilliant example 
of professional success is apprehended, convicted, ami 
hanged. This is part of the contract by which the common- 
wealth of thieves has purchased its charter. The compact 
is — ^for the police, a share of profits, and no trouble ; — f« 
the sons of Mercury, protection in general, and a venr 
sparing selection of needful victims. "When the tiind 
arrives that the career of individual happiness and friend- 
ship is to close, there is no shrinking. The ripened felosi 
is a soldier, under the orders of a commander whom be 
honours ; and it is to him a gratification to look back upt« 
the years of comfort he has secured by this compromi^ 
with power, instead of being perpetually hunted into some 
pitiful occupation, which the world calls honest, by a 
vigilance which should never sleep. At last he di^ 
Well ! in the latest moment he is a privil^ed being. Fame 
hovers around him, from the bar to the gallows. He 
exhibits great composure on his trial ; leaves his defence, 
with a dignified satisfaction, to his counsel ; bows to the 
judge, when he pronounces sentence ; and * is fashionably 
dressed in a complete suit of black.' Then come the con- 
solations of spiritual friends. In the interval between the 



THE LEADING PBOFESSION. 48B 

condenmation and the Eeoorder's report, he .becomes 
perfectly satisfied that he is purified from every stain ; — 
after the fatal mandate arrives, he declares that his only 
anxiety is to die, lest he should fall into his former errors ; 
and he leaves the World with such exultations of pious 
people attending him, as martyrs were wont to monopolize, 
— bowing to the admiring crowd, and * sucking an orange 
till the drop falls !' 



434 



ONCE UPOSr A TIME. 



DEAR AND CHEAP. 

On the 2nd November, 1667, the pleosure-huntiiig Samuel 
Pepys, Esq., goes to the King's Playhouse, where he s»w 
• Henry the Fourth ;' — and there he saw something which 
he deems as worthy of record as Cartwright's acting : * The 
house full of Parliament-men, it being holidaj with them: 
and it was observable how a gentleman of good habit, sitting 
just before us, eating of some fruit in the midst of the plaj, 
did drop down as dead, being choked ; but with much ad^ 
Orange Mall did thrust her finger down hifi throat, an^ 
brought him to life again.' Orange Mall was a person of 
energy and discretion ; and as she sold her oranges to Parlit- 
ment-men in the boxes of the King's Playhouse, which they 
sucked without a compromise of their gentility, she im- 
parted many a piece of scandal, and joined in many as 
aristocratic laugh which vi« 
louder than the voices of the 
players. In another entry d 
his 'Diary,' Pepys says, *Sr 
W. Pen and I had a great deal 
of discourse with Mall, wl» 
tells us that Nell is already 
left by my Lord Buckhuist 
Some sixty years after, Ht^aith 
painted the Orange Malls o^ 
his time, in ' The Laughing 
Audience.' One of these ladiea 
in the boxes is presenting her 
fruit to an admiring beau in • 
bag-wig ; whilst another, reach- 

'Falr LcmoutandOnuigesr ing Up from the pit, is tOUching 




DEAR AND CHEAP. 



435 



his ample sleeve, to call attention to her basket Those 
were the days of dear oranges; when the fruit was an 
exclusive luxury for the rich. They had been cried in 
the streets in the days of Ben Jonson ;* and in the time 
of Orange Mall, London heard the cry of * Fair lemons and 
oranges— oranges and citrons.* It did not follow that they 
were cheap. Hogarth's orange-women carry very small 
baskets. At the end of the last century the orange-seller 
of the streets was a barrow-woman, described by Person in 
his song of ' Pizarro :* — 

* As I walk'd through the Stnmd so cheerful and gay, 

I met a young girl a-wheeling a barrow ; 
•* Fine fruit, sir," says she, ** and a bill of the play." * 

rhe orange-woman of the 
itreets has passed away. The 
hiit is now so univensal that 
ta shops and stalls are to be 
oimd in every quarter. It is 
he fruit of London — the cheap 
oxury that rapid communica- 
Lon has placed within the 
3ach of all ranks. Its pro- 
ress from the Antilles to the 
larkets of Epgland is a sug- 
3stive fact. 

The January sun rises 
rightly over the North 
tlahtic. It will be a busy 
ly in Terceira and Fayal. 



"3^T 




Oraoges.— 1841. 



id Saint Michael. The' orange-trees are bending under 
eir golden produce. The ships are waiting for their 
ling. The gatherers have been busy in the orange-gar- 
ns, and there are piles of the half-ripe fruit heaped up in 
idiness for the packers. Laughing* groups of children 
d men, merry as haymakers in June, are seated amidst 



• See * Trivia,' p. 316, 



2f2 



436 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

these fragrant heaps, surronnded by large cheets, and by 
stacks of the dry sheaths of Indian com. A boy sits amongst 
the calyx-leaves, and, snatching one with a quickness that 
nothing but habit can give, passes it on to another child, 
who hands it to a man who sits by the oranges. In a 
second the, sheath is wrapped round a single orange, and 
handed on to another man, who sits with a chest between 
his legs, in which he places the protected fruit. The ckat 
is filled with inconceivable rapidity — moved away — covered 
over with thin boards — tied with a willow-band, and carried 
to the store by a patient ass, who is burthened with many 
a hundredweight before his day's work is done. 

It is a bitterly cold morning in London at the beginning 
of March. The north-east wind whistles through the narrow 
streets, or drives along a cloud of blinding diist througb 
the more open spaces. The sun vainly stru^les to pene 
trate the fog. It is twelve o'clock. A flock of boys tumUf 
over each other as they rush out of the ragged school of 
Lamb and Flag Alley. One urchin, more heedful than the 
rest, sees a horseman looking for a house. The bridle is 
committed to his care for a few minutes — a pennj' is his 
reward. The treasure is safely clutched in hie hand, for 
his pockets are treacherous. How is it to be spent? H« 
has tempting recollections of slices of pudding in tbe 
window of a little shop — and much does he need some sub- 
stantial food. But at the comer of the next street appear? 
a Jew boy. He has a basket of oranges — irresistible, st 
three a penny. Some of these were in that garden of Saint 
Michael, suddenly ripening under the January sun. Thej 
are damaged; and are separated from their companies 
oranges, who are dignified as 'choice fruit' in Covent- 
garden. The bargain is ratified. The ragged-school boy, 
like too many of us, has preferred a luxury to a nec^sitr. 
But he is not wholly selfish. He recollects his home. 
In a damp and close room a sick woman is slowly recoTer- 
• ing from a low fever. Her eyes are dim, her lips parched. 
The boy thinks his remaining orange would do her gocd. 
She shakes her head; but looks, and looks again, at the 



DEAR AND CHEAP. 437 

treat of happier days. The good son peels it. The fra- 
grance is decisive. Her thin hand lifts the orange to her 
mouth. She is refreshed ; she is better. A child's tender- 
ness is perhaps as reviving as the fruit of the fertile Azores. 

It is midnight of the same bleak day in March. Carriages 
are rolling about the realms of fashion ; lights glance from 
many a window. Music floats from one of those temples 
of gaiety. Out of the crowded ball-room a youth conducts 
his heated partner to the calmer regions of wines and ices. 
But there, too, are the oranges of Saint Michael, looking as 
brilliant in porcelain baskets, nnder the glare of wax-lights, 
as when they peeped forth out of their own green and 
glossy leaves to hail their native January snn. They are 
as welcome to the daughter of a ducal house as to the 
ragged-school boy and his sick mother. 

Our annual importations of oranges exceed four hundred 
thousand chests, which contain three hundred millions of 
the fruit — a wondrous example of the benefits that are daily 
developing in the iinrestricted interchange of the products 
of the world. Communication, freed from prohibitory and 
restrictive laws, necessarily becomes rapid communication. 
Steam has made the orange as completely our own as are the 
apples of Herefordshire, or the cherries of Kent My school- 
boy recollection of the orange was that of a pale and sour 
fruit — a sickly-looking thing that was dangerous to eat and 
not very agreeable. The oranges of those days were packed 
rreen, €Uid gradually acquired some degree of ripeness, or 
•ottenness, during a tedious voyage from Portugal. Steam 
low brings the orange to our doors fresh and ripe as the 
itrawberries of Twickenham. 



"What certainty and rapidity of communication have done 
or the commerce of oranges, and all other perishable com- 
Qodities, it has also done for tea. Commerce has had to 
truggle against oppressive duties ; but Commerce held her 
wn, when she freed herself from monopoly. Taxation has 
rorked hard for two centuries to make tea dear; but Com- 



438 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

merce worked for cheapness in spite of Taxation; — andTaiar 
tion has at last found out that it would be wiser to make a 
partnership with Commerce, than continue to cany on an 
unequal fight. 

About ten years after we have any distinct reoord of the 
public or private use of tea in England — that is, in 1670— 
a tax was imposed upon liquid tea, of eighteen-penoe per 
gallon. In 1660 our invaluable friend Pepys writes, *1 
did send for a cup of tea (a China drink) of which I never 
had drank before.' In 1667 the herb had found its waj 
into his own house : * Home, and there find my wife makiiig 
of tea ; a drink which Mr. Felling, the Fottioary, tells ha 
is good for her cold and defluxions.' 

Mrs. Pepys making her first cup of tea is a subject to be 
painted. How carefnlly she metes out the grains of the 
precious drag, which Mr. Felling, the Fotticary, has sold 
her at a most enonnous price — a crown an ounce at the 
very least She has tasted the liquor once before; bnt 
then there was sugar in the infusion — a beverage only for 
the highest. If tea should become fashionable, it will ooit 
in housekeeping as much as their claret. However, Fepji 
says, the price is coming down ; and he produces the hand- 
bill of Thomas Garway, in Exchange Alley, which the ladj 
peruses with great satisfaction ; for the worthy merchant 
says, that, although ' tea in England hath been sold in th« 
leaf for six pounds, and sometimes for ten pounds, the 
pound weight,' he 'by continued care and industry in 
obtaining the best tea,' now ' sells tea for 16«. to SOi. a 
pound.' Garway not only sells tea in the leaf, but ' many 
noblemen, physicians, merchants, &c., daily resort to his 
house to drink the drink thereof.' The coffee-houses soon 
ran away with the tea-merchant's liquid customers. Thej 
sprang up all over liondon; they became a fashion at the 
Universities. Coffee and tea came into England as twin 
brothers. Like many other foreigners, they received a fall 
share of abuse and persecution from the people and the 
state. Coffee was denounced as ' hell broth,' and tea as 
'poison/ But the ooffee-houses })ecame fashionable at 



ZMBAR AND CHXAP. 439 

once ; and for a centuiy were the exoluBive resorts of wits 
and politicians. * Here,' sajs a pamphleteer of 1673, 
' haberdashers of political small wares meet, and mutually 
abuse each other and the public with bottomless stories and 
headless notions.' Clarendon, in 1666, proposed either to 
suppress them, or to employ spies to note down the conver- 
sation. In 1670 the liquids sold at the ooffee-houses were 
to be taxed. We can scarcely imagine a state of society in 
which the excise officer was superintending the preparation 
of a gallon of tea, and charging his eighteen-pence. The 
exciseman and the spy were probably united in the same 
person. During this period we may be quite certain that 
tea was unknown, as a general article of diet, in the private 
houses even of tiie wealthiest. But it was not taxation 
which then kept it out of use. The drinkers of tea were 
ridiculed by the wits, and frightened by the physicians. 
More than all, a new habit had to be acquired. The praise 
of Boyle was nothing against the ancient influences of ale 
and claret. It was then a help to excess instead of a pre- 
ventive. A writer in 1682, says : — ' I know some that 
celebrate good Thee for preventing drunkenness, taking it 
before they go to the tavern, and use it veiy much also after 
a debauch.' One of the first attractions of * the cup which 
cheers but not inebriates ' was as a minister of evil. 

The tax upon liquid tea would not work ; and then came 
heavy customs duties on dry tea. For more than half a 
century, in which fiscal folly and prohibition were almost 
convertible terms, tea gradually forced its way into domes- 
tic use. In a *Tatler' of 1710 we read, *Iam credibly 
informed, by%n antiquary who has searched the registers 
in which the bills of fare of the court are recorded, that, 
instead of tea and bread and butter, which have prevailed 
of late years, the maids of honour in Queen Elizabeth's 
time were allowed three rumps of beef for their breakfast.' 
Tea for breakfast must have been expensive in 1710. In 
the original edition of the ' Tatler ' we have many advertise- 
ments about tea, one of which we copy : — 



440 ONCE UPON A TTMK. 

JVtwi ihe * Ibtitr* of Odober 10, 1710. 

< Mr. Fart's IGs. Bohee Tea, not much inferior in goodncK to tbe Iwt 
Foreign Bohee Tea, is sold hj himflelf only at the Bell in Graoec)iaxdi Stzc^ 
NotOf— the bert Foreign Bohee is worth 30s. a pound ; so thst what is lold at 
20s. or 21s. must either be faulty Tea, or mixed with a proportiaiiate qusatitr^ 
of damaged Green or Bohee, the wont of which wiU remain Uack after infusas/ 

* Mr. FaiyB 16s. Bohee Tea, not much inferior in good- 
ness to the best Foreign Bohee Tea' was, upon the fiioe of 
it, an indigenous mannfactare. ' The best Foreign Bobee 
is worth 305. a pound.' With saoh Queen Anne refreshed 
herself at Hampton Court : — 

* Here thou, great Anna, whom three realms obey. 
Dost sometimes counsel take, and sometimes tea.' 

When the best tea was at 30s. a pound, the home con- 
sumption of tea was about a hundred and forty thouBini 
pounds per annum. A quarter of a century later, in 4k 
early tea-drinking days of Dr. Johnson, the conBomptiai 
had quadrupled. And yet tea was then so dear, that Gtr- 
rick was cross even with his feivourite actress for using it 
too freely. ' I remember,' says Johnson, ' drinking ta 
with him long ago, when Peg Woffington made it, and be 
grumbled at h^ for making it too strong. He had then be 
gun to feel money in his purse, and did not know when W 
should have enough of it.' In 1745 the consumption m 
only seven hundred and thirty thousand pounds per annmo. 
Yet even at this period tea was forcing itself into commo:: 
use. Duncan Forbes, in his Correspondence, which ranges 
from 1 7 15 to 1748, is bitter against ' the excessive use of ttt: 
which is now become so common that the m Aiest^unilies. 
even of labouring people, particularly in boroughs, uakt 
their morning's meal of it, and thereby wholly disuse the ait 
which heretofore was their accustomed drink ; and the same 
drug supplies all the labouring women with their afteTiiooii> 
entertainments, to the exclusion of the twopenny.' The ex 
cellent President of the Court of Session had his prejudices : 
and he was frightened at the notion that tea was driving out 
beer; and thus, diminishing the use of malt, vtbs to be the 



DSAB ASD CHEAP. 441 

ruin of agriculture. Some one g/Kre the Government of the 
• day wiser counsel than that ol prohibitory duties, which 

he desired. 

In 1746 the consomption of tea was trebled. The duty 
had been redno^ in 1745, from 4s. per lb. to Is. per lb., 
and 25 per cent, on the gross price. For forty years after- 
wards the Legialatare contriTed to keep the consumption 
pretty equal with the increase of the population, putting 
on a little more duty when the demand seemed a little in- 
creasing. These were the palmy days of Dr. Johnson s tea 
triumphs — the days in which he describes himself as * a 
hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has for many 
years diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fas- 
cinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; 
who with tea amuses the eyenings ; with tea solaces the 
midnights; and with tea welcomes the morning.' In 1785 
the GoTemment boldly repealed the •excise duty ; and im- 
posed only a customs' duty of 12^ per cent. The consump- 
tion of tea was doubled in the first year after the change, 
and quadrupled in the third. The system was too good to 
last. The concession of three years in which the public 
might freely use an article of comfort was quite enough for 
official liberality and wisdom. New duties were imposed 
in 1787 ; the consumption was again driven back, and, by 
additional duty upon duty, was kept far behind the increase 
of the population. Yet the habit of tea-drinking had be- 
come so rooted in the people, that no efforts of the Govom- 
ment could destroy it. The washerwoman looked to her 
afternoon ' dish of tea,' as something that might make her 
CK>mfortable after her twelve hours' labour ; and balancing 
her saucer on a tripod of three fingers, breathed a joy be- 
yond utterance as she cooled the draught. The factory 
workman then looked forward to the singing of the kettle, 
fts some compensation for the din of the spindle. Tea had 
found its way even to the hearth of the agricultural labourer, 
tie ' bad lost his rye teeth ' — to use his own expression for 
lis preference of wheaten bread — and he would have his 
)unce of tea as well as the best of his neighbours. Sad 



442 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

stuff the chandler's shop famished him: no oommoditT 
brought hundreds of miles from the interior of Chiitt, 
chiefly by human labour; shipped according to the moet 
expensive arrangements ; sold under a limited competition 
at the dearest rate ; and taxed as highly as its irholeaale 
cost. The small tea-dealers had their mannfimtored tcs. 
But they had also their smuggled tea. The pound of tei 
which sold for eight shillings in England, was selling at 
Hamburg for fourteen pence. It was hard indeed if tk 
artisan did not occasionally obtain a cup of good tea at i 
somewhat lower price than the Ring and John GompasT 
had willed. No dealer could send out nx pounds of tea 
without a permit. Excisemen were issuing permits and 
examining permits all over the kingdom. But six hundred 
per cent, profit was too much for the weakness of hmnaB 
nature and the power of the exciseman. 

Under our recent i^rstem of taxation our comnunption of 
tea was enormous, although the duty, upon an avenge, 
was half of the retail price. With a tax of 25. 2^. a poini 
it is clear that, if tound commercial principlee, improved 
navigation, wholesale competition, and moderate retiil 
profits, had not found their way into the tea-trade, since the 
abolition of the East India Company's monopolj in 18'^^. 
the revenue upon tea would have been stationary, instead 
of having increased a million and a half sterling. All iht 
manifold causes that produce commercial cheapness in 
general — science, careful employment of capital in profitable 
exchange, certainty and rapidity of communication, exten- 
sion of the market-— have been especially working to make 
tea cheap. Tea is more and more becoming a necessaiy d 
life to all classes. Tea was denounced first as a poison, 
and then as an extravagance. Gobbett was furious agaiitft 
it. An Edinburgh Reviewer of 1823 keeps no terms witb 
its use by the poor : * We venture to assert, that when a 
labourer fi^ncies himself refreshed with a mess of this stuff, 
sweetened by the coarsest black sugar, and with aEure-blne 
milk, it is only the warmth of the water that soothes him 
for the moment; imless, perhaps, the sweetness may be 



DSAB AND CHEAP. 443 

palatable alBo/ It is dangerous even for great reviewers 
to ' venture to assert.' In a few years after comes Liebig, 
with his chemical discoveries ; and demonstrates that coffee 
and tea have become necessaries of life to whole nations, 
bj the presence of one and the same substance in both 
vegetables, which has a peculiar effect upon the animal 
system ; that they were both originally met with amongst 
nations whose diet is chiefly vegetable; and, by contri- 
buting to the formation of bile, their peculiar function, 
have become a substitute for animal food to a large class of 
the population whose consumption of meat is very limited, 
and to another large class who are unable to take regular 
exercise. 

Tea and coffee, then, are more especially essential to the 
poor. They supply a void which the pinched labourer 
cannot so readily fill up with weak and sour ale ; they are 
substitutes for the country walk to the factory girl, or the 
seamstress in a garret. They are ministers to temperance ; 
they are home comforts. Mrs. Piozzi making tea for 
Dr. Johnson till four o'clock in the morning, and listening 
contentedly to his wondrous talk, is a pleasant anecdote of 
the first century of tea ; the artisan's wife, lingering over 
the last evening cup, while her husband reads his news- 
paper or his book« is something higher, which belongs to 
oar own times. 

There is a contrast as striking between the coffee-houses 
to which Clarendon sent his spies and those of our own 
day, as between Mrs. Pepys making tea, and Mrs. Ckimp 
preparing the same refection for her interesting friend of 
the sick room. Aubrey tells us of Sir Henry Blount, 
* When coffee first came in he was a great upholder of it, 
and hath ever since been a constant frequenter of coffee- 
houses, especially Mr. Farres', at the Bainbow, by Inner 
Temple-gate.' Does the spirit of Mr. Farres linger about 
the Bainbow, as Goldsmith's Dame Quickly lingered about 
the Boar's Head? At the Bainbow, where there is still 
abundant company, and merry converse, Barclay's stout 
has driven out tea and coffee. Old Sir Henry Blount told 



444 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

his stories, and played his hoaxes, at the Bainbow till be 
was eighty years of age, denonncing strong drinls, and 
eulogising the ' executions at Tybnm, which ^work more 
upon the people than all the oratory in the sermons.' But 
if his spirit be permitted to wander, he would find in 
London that coffee-houses have been exalted and the 
gallows laid low. He was a bold cavalier ; * a shammer/ 
as Aubrey calls him, by which he means ' one who telh 
falsities, not to do anybody an injury, but to impose upoe 
their understanding.' Would he rejoice that there are now 
some two thousand coffee-houses in London, \^here the 
artisan, who has seldom any disposition to be * a shammer,' 
may have his cup of tea or coffee for three-haifpenoe or 
twopence, and read the newspapers and the best peiiodieal 
works? This is, perhaps, something better for human 
happiness than the old palmy days of Tom's and Will's,— cf 
White's and the Grecian. 



In the days of Edward IL, the TiUagers who dweh 
within a few miles of London daily surrounded its w«Ik 
with their poultry and eggs. The poulterers were forbidden 
to become their fiEtctors ; but imquestionably it was for tbe 
interest of both parties that some one should stand between 
the producer and the consumer. Without this, there would 
have been no regular production. Perhaps the productifBi 
was very irregular, the price very fluctuating, the dearth 
often intolerable. This huckstering had to go on for 
centuries before it became comjnerce. It would have been 
difficult, even fifty years ago, to imagine that eggs, a frail 
commodity, and quickly perishable, should become a great 
article of import. Extravagant would have been the 
assertion that a kingdom should be supplied with sea-borne 
eggs, with as much speed, with more r^ularity, and at a 
more equalised price, than a countiy xnarket town of tbe 
days of George III. It has been stated that, before the 
Peace of 1816, Berwick-upon-Tweed shipped annnalljas 
TOBiiy eggs to London as were valued at £30,000. Bdfore 



D£AR AKD CHEAP. 445 

the Peace, there were no steam-vessels ; and it is di£Boult 
to conceive how the cai^oes from Berwick, with a passage 
that often lasted a month, could find their way to the 
London consumer in marketable condition. Perhaps the 
eaters of those e^s, oollected in the Border districts, were 
not so fastidious in their tastes as those who now despise a 
French egg which has been a week travelling from the Pas 
de Calais. But the Berwick eggs were, at any rate, the 
commencement of a real commerce in eggs. 

In 1820, five years after the Peace, thirty -one millions of 
foreign eggs found their way into England. They princi- 
pally came from France, from that coast which had a ready 
communication with Kent and Sussex, and with the 
Thames. These eggs, liable as they were to a duty, came 
to the consumer so much cheaper than the Berwick eggs, 
or the Welsh eggs, or the eggs even that were produced in 
Middlesex or Surrey, that the trade in eggs was slowly but 
surely revolutionised. Lai^ heaps of eggs made their 
appearance in the London marke^, or stood in great boxes 
at the door of the butterman, with tempting labels of * 24 a 
shilling,' or * 20 a shilling.' They were approached with 
great suspicion, and not unjustly so ; for the triumphs of 
steam were yet far from complete. But it was discovorod 
that there was an egg-producing country in close proximity 
to London, in which the production of eggs for tho 
metropolitan market might be stimulated by systomntio 
intercourse, and become a mutual advantage to a popnlaiioti 
of two millions, closely packed in forty square milos of 
street, and a population of six hundred thousand, npt'ond 
over two thousand five hundred square miles of urabloi 
meadow, and forest land, with six or eight largo townM. 
This population of the Pas de Calais is ohiofiy oompoHotl of 
small proprietors. Though the farms are larger there iliaii 
in some other parts of France, some of tho poouliaritioH of 
what is called the small ouHure are there obnorvfibla, 
Poultry, especially, is most abundant. Kvory largo and 
every small farm-house has its troops of fowls and turfcoyn. 
The pullets are carefully fed and housed; tho eggs uro 



4M ONCE UPON A TDfE. 

duly collected ; the good wife carries them to the muints 
of Arras, or Bethnne, or St. Omer, or Aire, or Boolognet 
or Calais : perhaps the egg-<x>llector travenes the distiiet 
with his cart and lus nmners. The ^;g-tnide widi 
England gradnaUy went on increasing. The import of 
foreigpa eggs amonnted, in 1852, to one hundred and eig^t 
millions. 

In 1825, the commercial interconrse between Grat 
Britain and Ireland was pnt upon the same footing as die 
coasting trade of the ports of England. Steam nayigatua 
between the two islands also had received an enoimov 
impulse. The small farmers and cottiera of Ireland wen 
poultry-keepers. Too often the poor oppressed tenanti 
were wont to think — * The hen lays eggs^ they go into tb 
lord's fiying-pan.' Steam navigation gave a nevr impulse 
to Irish industry. Before steam^vessels entered the Cove 
of Cork, an e^, at certain seasons, could scarcely be found 
in the market of that city. England wanted ^gs ; steaiD* 
boats would convey them rapidly to Bristol; the small 
farmers applied themselves to the production of eggs; 
Cork itself then obtained a constant and cheap snp^. 
The Irish exports of eggs to England have become a gnst 
article of commerce. And yet, what a trifling matter as 
^g appears when we talk of large culture and extensiiv 
commerce. Out of such trifles communities have grown 
into industrious and frugal habits and consequent prospe- 
rity. There was a time when the English former's wife 
would keep her household out of the profits of her butter, 
her poultry, and her eggs; when she duly rose at fi^ 
o'clock on the market-day morning, rode with her waicE 
some seven miles in a jolting cart, and stood for six houn 
at a stall till she had turned all her commodity into the 
ready penny. The old thrift and the old simfdicity laid 
the foundations of scientific production. 

Making a reasonable estimate of the number of foreigB 
0SSB> and of Irish and Scotch eggs, that come into the poit 
of London — and putting them together at a hundred and 
fifty millions, every individual of the London population 



DBAR AND CHEAP* 447 

co&sameB sixty eggs, brought to his own door from sources 
of supply which did not exist thirty years ago. JNor will 
such a number appear extravagant when we consider how 
accurately the ^g consumption is regulated by the means 
and the wants of this great community. Bapid as the tran- 
sit of these e^;B has become, there are necessarily various 
stages of freshness in which they reach the London miCrket* 
The retail dealer purchases accordingly of the egg mer- 
chant ; and has a commodity for sale adapted to the pecu- 
liar classes of his customers. The dairyman or poulterer 
in the fashionable districts permits, or affects to permit, no 
cheap sea-borne e^s to come upon his premises. He has 
his eggs of a snowy whiteness, at four or six a shilling, 
' warranted new-laid;' and his eggs from Devonshire, cheap 
at eight a shillings for all purposes of polite cookery. In 
Whitechapel, or Tottenham Court^road, the bacon-seller 
• warrants ' even his twenty-four a shilling. In truth, the 
cheapest egg/^ from France and Ireland are as good, if not 
better, than the eggs which were brox^ht to London in the 
days of bad roads and slow conveyance — the days of road- 
waggons and pack-horses. And a great benefit it is, and a 
real boast of that civilisation which is a consequence of free 
and rapid commercial intercourse. The cheapness of eggs 
through the imported supply has raised up a new class of 
egg consumers. Eggs are no longer a luxury'which the 
working man of London cannot reach. 



It is not only in disturbing the old relations between 
' cheap ' and ' deax,* that commerce exhibits its wondrous 
effects, but in the manner in which it gives an extension 
to the comforts of a nation, and raises up new branches of 
industry of which the existence could never be contem- 
plated. The applications of gutta percha and of caout- 
chouc belong to our own day. And yet how soon they 
created new wants by new supplies — at first expensive 
supplies, and then, when an entire population joined in a 
demand, supplies in which the principle of absolute cheap- 



448 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

ness was one of the most remarkable elements. Take ^ 
example dof caontchouc. 

About a hundred and twenty years ago the artists of 
Europe received a valuable contribution — a vegetable pro- 
duct of South America and India — which would remove 
pencil-marks with neatness and expedition. A few bottki 
of a substance something like leather, — black, polishei 
marked with lines which seemed indented, — constitiited 
this new importation of a useful curiosity. Its fiist use 
determined its name, Jndm-rubber. 

In the year 1735, some scientific Frenchmen, travdlicg 
in South America, ascertained what this substance was, and 
sent an account of its production to the French Acadenr 
of Sciences. It was a substance possessing very pecnlia.^ 
properties,— elastic, and insoluble in water. The natites 
of South America made waterproof boots of it, and rendei«i 
oloth impervious to moisture by applying the gum ia it» 
liquid state. Could European science do nothing with it 
but rub out pencil marks ? For about a century, notbis^ 
else was done — nothing but rubbing ; — and then a sudden 
start was made, and India-rubber, or more properly Caont- 
chouc, became a great material of manufacture. We now 
defy the rain with an India-rubber over-cloak ; we keep 
our feet dry with India-rubber overnshoes ; we obtain as 
easy seat with an India-rubber air-cushion ; we lie upon ii 
India-rubber water-bed more softly than upon down, and 
without a particle of external moisture ; our gloves cUd^ 
round our wrists with an India-rubber band; we move 
freely with India-rubber braces and straps, that hold ow 
clothes tightly about us, and yet yield to every musonltf 
exertion ; we have not shod * a troop of horse with felt,' 
but stables and courtyards are paved with India-rabber. 
and carriage-wheels made noiseless by it ; we stop oar 
bottles with India-rubber, to render them air-tight; we 
hold our papers in order with little stretching bands, ^ 
that official men, as we may hope, will cease to be called 
red-tapists, and under wholesome public opinion will be at 
once as firm and as elastic as their Indiarrubber rings; we 



BEAR AND CHEAP. 449 

>ind the broken limb with iBdiarrubber ligatures ; we give 
»fety to the voyager by India-rubber life-preservers ; the 
loldier's tent is rendered dry as a pent-hoiifie by India-rub- 
ber ; we build boats of India-rubber ; we make hammock* 
lettings of India-rubber ; the buffers of railway-carriages 
^re India-rubber. What, in fact, are the limits to the 
ipplioation of India-rubber? We import annually from 
>00,000 to 700,000 lbs. of India-rubber,-— a small quantity 
n the gross, but very large when we consider how readily 
t enters into combination with other materials, and imparts 
o them its own peculiar character of elasticity and imper- 
riousness to moisture. It seems, indeed, as if it were all* 
>enetrating. Upon the sheet of paper on which we are 
vriting, there are a few of the minutest black spots, and 
o there will be, we fear, on the sheet printed with these 
vords. They are Indiarrubber spots. The substance gets 
nto the Tengn of which paper is made— the dirty coarse rags 
vbich modem chemistry bleaches into purity. No care 
'An wholly remove it. The smallest bit of braid will be 
K>unded to atoms in the paper-mill, but the atoms are in- 
lestructible, for they are incapable of solution. 



I remember (early remembrances are more durable than 
'ecent) an epithet employed by Mary Wollstonecraft, which 
hen seemed as happy as it was original : — * The mm pen of 
rime.' Had the vindicatress of the * Bights of Women * 
ived in these days (fifty years later), when the iron pen is 
he almost universal instrument of writing, she would have 
>e8towed upon Time a less common material for recording 
lis doings. 

Whilst I am remembering, let me look l)ack for a moment 
tpon my earliest school-days — the days of lai^ text and 
ound hand. Twenty urchins sit at a long desk, each inr 
ent upon making his oopt/. A nicely-mended pen has been 
;iven to each. My own labour goes on successfully, till, 
a sohool-boy phrase, the pen begins to splutter. A bold 
ffort must be made. I leave the form, and timidly address 

2 G 



4M ONCE UPON A TOO. 

the writing-mastor with 'Pleaae, air, meed my pea.' A 
slight frown subsidea as he sees that the quiU is very bad 
— too soft or too hard-^^uaed to the stump. He dashes it 
away, and snatching a feather finom a bundle— a poor thin 
feather, such as green geese drop on a common — shapes ir 
into a pen. This mending and making prooess occupies all 
his leisure — occupies, indeed, many of the minutes thit 
ought to be devoted to instruction. He has a perpetosl 
battle to wage with his bad quills. They are the meauefi 
produce of the plucked goose. 

And is this prooess still going on in the many thousazid 
schools of our land, where, with all drawbacks of imperfect 
education, both as to numbers educated and gifts imparted 
there are about two millions and a half of children under 
daily instruction P In remote rural districts, probably; id 
the towns, certainly not. The steam-engine is now the pen- 
maker. Hecatombs of geese are consumed at Michaehstf 
and Christmas ; but not aU the geese in the world wi>aJd 
meet the demand of En^and for pens. The supply cipatn 
defoie gras will be kept up — that of quills, whether known 
as primes^ seconds^ or pmions^ must be wholly inadequate to 
the wants of a writing people. 

The ancient reign of the quill-pen was first seriouslT 
disturbed about thirty years ago. An abortive imitation cf 
the /onn of a pen was produced before that time ; a dumsv. 
inelastic, metal tube £sistened in a bone or ivory handle. disA 
sold for half-a-crown. A man might mitke his mark witi 
one — but as to writing, it was a mere delusion. In d^ 
course came more carefully-finished inventions for tlie 
luxurious, under the tempting names of ruby pen, or dir 
mond pen — with the plain gold pen, and the rhodium pen. 
for those who were sceptical as to the jewellery of the ink- 
stand. The economical use of the quill received abo the 
attention of science. A machine was invented to divide 
the barrel lengthwise into two halves; and, by the came 
mechanical means, these halves were subdivided into snmll 
pieces, cut pen-«hape, slit, and nibbed. But the pres^ire 
upon the quill supply grew more and m<»e intense;. A 



VKAM AXD CHEAP. ^I^) 



new power luid iiKn vp in our worid — a new seed sown — 
the sonnse ai all good, or the dragon • teeth of 0«Kimu$i^ 
In 1818 th«e were only one hnndred and sixtr-five thou- 
sand achobn in the monitorial schools — ^the new ech%M>K 
-which weie being established under the aospicee of the 
National Sodetr, and the British and Foreign i^^hoo) 
Society. Fifteen yean afterwards, in 1833, there were 
three hundred and ninety thousand. Ten years later* the 
numbers exceeded a million. Even a quarter of a eenturr 
ago two-thirds of the male population of England, and one* 
half of the fonale, were learning to write ; for in the Ko^h^ 
of the BegistraF-General, for 1846, we find this i^as^i^ : — 
* Persons when they are married are required to Ki^^n the 
marriage-register ; if they cannot write their namc8, thev 
sign with a mark : the result has hitherto been, that lUHirly 
one man in three, and one woman in two, marritnl, s^i^ 
with marks/ This remark applies to the periinl Wt^%*tH>u 
1839 and 1845. Taking the average age of men at mHiriHg^ 
as twenty-scTen years, and the average age of Ixa-» during 
their education as ten years, the marriage-register is an 
educational test of male instruction for the years 1824 - *i8« 
But, during the last fourteen years, the natural doKiiv to 
learn to write, of that part of the youthful population which 
education can reach, has received a great moral iiupulso by 
a wondrous development of the most useful and plom^unOtlo 
exercise of that power. The uniform penny posta^^ hiis 
been established. In the year 1838, the wholo number 
of letters delivered in the United Kingdom was seventy- 
six millions; in 1852 that annual delivery had rcnohed 
the prodigious number of three hundred and eighty 
millions. In 1838 a Committee of the House of Commons 
thus denounced, amongst the great commercial evils of the 
high rates of postage, their injurious effects upon the groat 
bulk of the people : — * They either act as a grievous tax on 
the poor, causing them to sacrifice their little earnings to 
the pleasure and advantage of corresponding with their 
distant friends, or compel them to forego such intercourse 
altogether ; thus subtracting from the small amount of their 

2 Q 2 



452 OKCe UPON A TIME. 

enjoyments, and obstracting the growth and maintenaQce 
of their best affections.' Honoured be the man who broke 
down these barriers ! Praised be the Government that,/-c 
cmoe^ stepping out of its fiscal tram-way, dared boldly tv 
legislate for the domestic happiness, the edncational pio- 
gress, and the moral elevation of the masses ! The steei 
pen, sold at the rate of a penny a dozen, is the creation. Id 
a considerable degree, of the Penny Postage stamp ; as the 
Penny Postage stamp was a representatiTe, if not a creatiaD, 
of the new educational power. Without the steel pen. it 
may reasonably be doubted whether there were mechanic^ 
means within the reach of the great bulk of the populad^^ 
for writing the three hundred and eighty millions of letter 
that now annually pass through the Post Office. Let me 
add, that I saw the wondrous human machine of tiie Geneni 
Post Office on an evening of November, 1853 ; and that the 
Inspector told me that the labour of sorting the letters ir«i^ 
now comparatively small, from the improvement in tb« 
writing of the whole community. 

Othello*s sword had * the ice-brook's temper ;' but not 
all the real or imaginary virtues of the stream that gave it< 
value to the true Spanish blade could create the elasticity 
of a steel pen. Flexible, indeed, is the Toledo. If thrue: 
against a wall, it will bend into an arc that describes thiee- 
fourths of a circle. The problem to be solved in the sted 
pen, is to convert the iron of Dannemora into a substance 
as thin as the quill of a dove's pinion, bat as strong as the 
proudest feather of an eagle's > wing. The furnaces and 
hammers of the old armourers could never have solved thiit 
problem. The steel pen belongs to our age of mightj 
machinery. It could not have existed in any other age. 
The demand for the instrument, and the means of snpplying 
it, came together. j 

The commercial importance of the steel pen was first 
manifested to my senses a few years i^ at Sheffield. I 
had witnessed all the curious processes of oontwrtm^ inm into 
steel, by saturating it with carbon in' the convertiiig 
furnace ; — of tilting the bars so converted into a hpuder snb- 



. DEAB AKD OHEAF, 453 

stance, wder the thousand hammers that shake the waters 
of the Sheaf and the Don ; of casting the steel thus converted 
and tilted into ingots of higher purity; and, finally, of 
miUingy by which the most perfect development of the 
mateiial is acquired under enormous rollers. About two 
miles from the metropolis of steel, over whose head hangs 
a canopy of smoke through which the broad moors of the 
distance sometimes reveal themselves, there is a solitary 
mill where the tiltilig and rolling processes are carried to 
great perfection. The din of the large tilts is heard half 
a mile off. Our ears tingle, our legs tremble, when we 
utand close to their operation of beating bars of steel into 
the greatest possible density; for the whole building 
vibrates ajs the workmen swing before the tilts in suspended 
baskets, and shift the bar at every movement of these 
hanmiers of the Titans. We pass onward to the more 
quiet rolHng department. The bar that has been tilted into 
the most perfect compactness has now to acquire the utmost 
possible tenuity. A large area is occupied by fumaoes and 
rollera. The bar of steel is dragged out of the furnace at 
almost a white heat There are two men at each roller. 
It is passed through the first pair, and its squareness is 
instantly elongated and widened into flatness; — rapidly 
through a second pair, — and a third, — and a fourth,— and 
a fifth. — The bar is becoming a sheet of steel. Thinner 
and thinner it becomes, until it would seem that the work- 
men can scarcely manage the slight substance. It has 
spread out, like a morsel of gold under the beater's hammer, 
into an enormous leaf. The least attenuated sheet is only 
the hundredth part of an inch in thickness; some sheets 
are made as thin as the two-hundredth part of an inch. 
And for what purpose is this result of the labours of so 
many workmen, of such vast and complicated machinery, 
destined ?— what the final application of a material employ- 
ing so much capital in every step, from the Swedish mine 
to its transport by railroad to some other seat of British 
industry ? The whole is prepared for one Steel-pen Manufactory 
at Birmingham, 



454 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

The perfeotion that may reasonably be demanded in a steel 
pen has yet to be reached. Bnt tiie imprmrement in the 
mannfiEtctare is most decided. Twenty years ago, to one 
who might choose, regardless of expense, between the qnili 
pen and the steel, the best Birmingham and London pro- 
duction waa an abomination. But we can trace the gradual 
acquiescenoe of most men in the writing implement of the 
multitude. Few of us, in an age when the small ecGnomia 
are carefully observed, and even paraded, desire to uie qm^I 
pens at ten or twelve shillings a hundred, as Treasoiy Clerb 
once luxuriated in their use — an hour's work, and then i 
new one. To mend a pen is troublesome to the old asd 
even the middle-aged man who once acquired the art; Ihe 
young, for the most part, have not learnt it. The vixA 
painstaking and penurious author would never dreon cf 
imitating the wondrous man who translated Plinj ^ 
♦ one gray goose quill.' Steel pens are so cheap, that if ciW 
scratches or splutters, it may be thrown away, and another 
may be tried. But when a really good one is found, ^ 
cling to it, as worldly men cling lo their Mends ; we n* 
it till it breaks down, or grows rusty. We can do no mow: 
we handle it as Isaac Walton handled the frog upon hs 
hook, ' as if we loved him.' We could almost fancy Bom 
analogy between the gradual and decided improvemestit of 
the steel pen — one of the new instruments of education'' 
and the effects of education itself upon the mass of the 
people. An instructed nation ought to present the eaiK 
gradually perfecting combination of strengUi with elasticity- 
The favourites of fortune are like the quill, ready made for 
social purposes, with a little scraping and polishing. The 
bulk of the community have to be formed out of mder ari 
tougher materials — to be converted, welded, and tempered 
into pliancy. The manners of the great British family haw 
decidedly improved under culture — * ernotUt meres ;' may the 
sturdy self-respect of the race never be impaired. 



( 456 ) 



SUBURBAN MILESTONES. 

Jedediah Jones (he was called Jedediah in consequence of 
the admiration his father cherished for the character of 
Jedediah Buxton, the great calculator) was a schoolmaster 
at Bamet. His delight in his occupation was hereditary ; 
for the elder Jones had properly impressed his son with a 
fiense of the high responsibilities and privileges of his 
calling, and had shown him how superior a schoolmaster 
^as to any of the other mighty fdnctionaries of the land — 
to a judge, or a minister of state, or even to a bishop* 
Jedediah grew, in time, to be somewhat of an important 
personage, especially as his love of learning branched out 
into sundry matters of abstruse inquiry, by his knowledge 
of which he not only puzzled his wondering pupils, but 
occasionally perplexed the most sagacious of his neighbours. 
He was not a philosopher in the ordinary sense of the word, 
for he did not busy himself with any of the sciences as they 
exist in the present day ; but he contrived to know some- 
thing about the theories of these matters as they were 
received two or three centuries ago, and was always reflect- 
ing and experimenting upon propositions that all mankind 
have agreed to reject as absurd or impracticable. He was 
acquainted with the past existence of many vulgar errors ; 
but he by no means acknowledged the propriiBty of that 
sweeping condemnation of certain opinions which was con- 
tained in the title of Sir Thomas Brown's folio. He had 
considerable fidth that he should some day meet the 
Wandering Jew on the great Holyhead Boad : he turned 
up his nose at the belief that a griffin had not existed, 
for whj should people have them painted on carriages if 
their ancestors had never seen such things ? he was almost 



456 ONCK UPOK A TIME. 

oertain that be had himself heard a mandiake shriek when 
he pulled it up — (on purpose to hear it) : and he was quite 
sure that there were only three Queen Anne's fiuthiuffi 
coined, and that he had got one of them. As the old alchy- 
mists obtained some knowledge of chemistiy in their seaith 
after gold, so our schoolmaster obtained a smattering of 
history and philosophy in his search after those crotchety 
points of learning which history and philosophy have deter- 
mined to throw overboard; and thus, upoti tbe whole, ht 
managed to pass with the world as a very wise man, aad 
his school flourished. 

There were some matters, however, with all his leaniiBg, 
which puzzled Jedediah Jones exceedingly. One of the^e 
dark and important questions was a source of perpetual 
irritation to him. He took long walks on half-holidajs, 
and generally his £GM>e, on these occasions, turned towards 
London ; fo ^e bad a secret conviction that his nltimaite 
vocation was u> be in that mighty metropolis, and that be 
should be summoned thither by a special degree of the 
Royal Society, or the Society of Antiquaries, and be humbly 
requested to solve some great enigma, of which all mankiud, 
except himself, bad missed the solution. In these long 
walks he was constantly reminded by the milestoues that 
there was one point of learning as to which he still remained 
in absolute ignorance. This was grievous. These mile- 
stones had proclaimed to him, from the days of his earliest 
recollections, that it was seven miles, or six miles, or fixt 
nules, or four miles, or three miles and a half, */rom tke ^ 
%johere Hkhs'a Hall formerly stoodJ Now in all his books he 
could find not an iota about Hicks, or Hicks's Hall. For 
ten tedious years had he been labouring at this riddle of 
Hicks's Hall. It was his thought by day, and his dream 
by night. Who was Hicks ? How did Hicks obtain such 
a fame that even the milestones were inscribed to his 
memory ? What was his Christian name ? Was he General 
Hicks, or Admiral Hicks, or Bishop Hicks, or Chief-Justice 
Hicks ? Or was he plain Mr. Hicks ? and if so, was ho 
M J»., or F.R.S., or F.A.S., or M.BJ.A. ? Why did Bick» 




/ ^ 



'c 



I 



STBURBAN MILESTONES* 457 

build a hall ? Was it a hall like * the colleges and halls ' of 
Oxford and Cambridge, or like the Guildhall in King- 
street, Cheapside ? Perhaps it was a hall for public enter- 
tainments; — perhaps Hicks was a member of one of the 
City companies, and built a hall which the company in 
gratitude called after his name. How long ago m as Hicks's 
Hall built? Was it in the Gothic or the Boman style of 
architecture ? Was it of brick or stone ? Had it a carved 
roof? When did Hicks's Hall cease to exist? Was it 
burnt down ? Was it pulled down by the mob ? Was it 
taken down to widen the street ? Was it suffered to go to 
decay and fall down? Was anybody killed when it fell 
down? Are the ruins still to be seen? Has anybody 
written the History of Hicks's Hall ? Has anybody written 
the Life of Hicks? Shall I, Jedediah Jones, write this 
work which the world must be so anxiously looking for ? 

Such were a few of the perplexing and yet inspiriting 
thoughts which had for years passed through Jones's mind, 
as he walked from Bamet, Highgate-ward. His difficulties 
at last became insupportable. He took up his resolution, 
and he was comforted^ A week still remained of the 
Christmas holidays. He would set out for London, and 
not see his house again till he had penetrated the mystery 
of Hicks's Hall. 

With his trusty staff in his right hand, and a small 
bundle containing his wardrobe in a pocket-handkerchief 
under his left arm, Mr. Jones sallied forth from Bamet, 
under the auspices of the New Weather Almanac, on a 
jnoming which promised to be ' fair and frosty,' in Januar}% 
1838. The morning was misty, with rain, which occa- 
Bionally became sleet, driving in his face. He courageously 
marched on through Whetstone, and crossed the dreary 
regions of Finchley Common, — without meeting a highway- 
man, — which was a disappointment, as he had an implicit 
belief in the continued existence of those obsolete contri- 
butors to the public amusement. He at length reached the 
aorthem ascent of Highgate Hill, and his spirits, which 
pvere somewhat flawing, received a new impulse. The 



458 ONCE UPON A TDflE. 

milestone proclaimed that he was only five miles 'from 
the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood.' Onward ht 
went, over Highgate Hill, till he arrived at the atone w)ak 
told him that he was only *• four miles ^ froat Hie shrine to 
which his pilgiimage was dedicated. But here was a new 
attraction — an episode in his jonmey of dmocyvery. He U 
reached Whittington's Stone, — ^ahd there he read that tiiis 
redoubted thrice Lord Mayor of London had passed throng 
these repetitions of glory in Ihe years of onr Lrord 1^7, 
and 1406, and 1419. Here then Whittington had sslr- 
here he had heard Bow Bells— here he had thoaght olhii 
fidthful oat — here he had retamed to cherish his cat om 
more, and to win all the riches of which his cat was tfai 
original purveyor. But then a thought came across him ai 
to which was the greater man, Whittington or Hioks? If 
Whittington had one stone raised to his memory, Hioks haA 
twenty ; Hicks, therefore, must be the greater man. Who 
was Hicks? Where was Hicks's Hall ? He was only four 
miles 'from the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood;' 
the problem would be soon solved. 

He at length reached Islington Green, stopping not lo 
gaze upon the suburban gentility of Holloway, nor going 
out of his way to admire the architectural grandeur d 
Highbury. He was now only * one mile from the spot 
where Hicks's Hall formerly stood.' The stone which pro- 
claimed this great truth reared its proud head, tmencuia* 
bered by houses, at a distinguished distance from the fi^ft- 
pavement and the high road. It deemed, as he approached 
the scene of Hicks's glories, that there was an evident dis* 
position to call attention to the name of the immortal man, 
whoever he might have been. He was persuaded that he 
should now learn all about Hicks ; — ^the passers-by must be 
full of Hicks; — the dwellers must revetence Hicks. Ht 
went into a pastrycook's shop opposite the triumphal stone. 
He bought a penny bun, and he thus addressed the maiden 
at the counter : — * Young woman, you have the happiness 
of living near the spot where Hicki's Hall formerly stood. 
I have walked ten miles to see that place. Which is the 



SUBURBAN MILBSrOSBSw 459 

"oad?* The young woman re]ilied« * Hicks, the green- 
grocer, liTCB OTer the wmy ; there is no other Hicks about 
lere.' This ivaa sadsfiMnoiy. Hicks, the greengrocen 
irast be a descendant of the great Hicks ; so he sought 
Sicks, the greengrocer, and, bowing protbimdlT, he asked 
f be could tell him the waj to the spot where Hicks*s Hall 
brmerly stood? Now Hicks, the greengrocer, was a wag, 
ind lus waggeiy was increased bj living in the kiH^n 
atmosphere of the * Angel ' at Islington, and by picking up 
tomething of the wit that is conveyed from the West to the 
Qast, and from the East to the .West, by the omnibuses that 
irrive every tiiree minutes from the Exchange at one end, 
ind from Paddington at the other. To Jones, therefore, 
Elicks answered by another question, * Does your mother 
mow you are out?* This was a difficult question ibr 
Fedediah to answer. He had not communicated to his 
nether — good old lady — the object of his journey; she 
night have disapproved of that object. How could Mr. 
Flicks know he had a mother? How could he know tlmt 
le had not told his mother all his anxieties about IlicksV 
lall ? He was unable to give a reply to Hicks, the green* 
grocer; so Hicks, the greengrocer, recommended him to 
rot into an omnibus which was standing opposite the door. 
Into the omnibus Jedediah Jones accordingly went, and 
xe desired the gentleman called a conductor, to put him 
town at the spot where Hioks's Hall formerly stood. II10 
rentleman grinned ; and something passed between him 
Old another gentleman, called a cad, which had better be 
rusted to the immortality of thoir unwritten langoago 
;han be here inscribed. On went the omnibus, and af^er a 
odious hour Jedediah Jones found the carriage deserted, 
tnd the conductor bawled out ' Elephant and Castlo, tiir.' 
[hiring his progress our worthy schoolmaster had put 
sundry questions to his fellow-passengers touching Ilioks's 
[lall, but he found them of an ignorant and perverse 
generation; they knew nothing of Hioks^nothing of 

* The faroarite mode of nlutation In th« itroeU in the year 1837* 



460 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Hickfi*s Hall — ^nothing of the spot where Hicks's Hall 
fonnerly stood. The ignorance of the people, he thoagbt, 
was beyond all calculation ; and he determined that not t 
boy of Bamet should not, henceforward, be thorougfalv 
informed of matters upon which mankind were called upon, 
by the very milestones, to be all-knowing. 

At the Elephant and Castle our traveller had lost all 
traces of Hicks's Hall. The milestones had forgotten 
Hicks and his hall. They were full of another glory — * tk 
Standard in CornMU,^ Wluit was the Standard in Comhill? 
Was it the Boyal Standard, or was it the Union Jack: 
Perhaps it might be the new standard of weights acJ 
measures. He was clearly out of the region of Hicks, su 
he would make his way to the Standard in Ck>mhiIL Who 
could tell but he might there find the standard of the 
English language, which he had long been searching for? 
At any rate they would there tell him of the place where 
Hicks 8 Hall formerly stood. 

By the aid of another omnibus our painstaking Jedediah 
was placed in the busiest throng of the London hive. He 
was in Comhill. Jones was somewhat shy, acconling to 
the custom of learned men, — and he, therefore, knew nci: 
how to address any particular individual of the bQ!>v 
passengers, to inquire about the Standard at Comhill. Ht: 
did, however, at last venture upon a very amiable and 
gentlemanly-looking man, — who politely offered to show 
him the desired spot. The* promise was not realised ; in 
a moment his friend slipped from his side, — and JedediaJi 
found that his purse, containing two pounds eeven 
shillings and sixpence, had vanished from his pocket. 
He forgot the Standard in Comhill; and in despair he 
threw himself into a Hampstead stage, resolved not to give 
up his search after Hioks*s Hall although he had only 
a few shillings in his waistcoat pocket. 

In a melancholy reverie Jedediah arrived in the 
Hampstead stage at Camden Town. He knew that h^ 
ought not to go further, unless he was quite prepared 
to abandon the original object of his inquiry. It wu 



SUBURBAN MILESTONES. 461 

k bitter afternoon. The Tain fell in torrents. He Had 
i furious appetite,— be bad lost bis pnrse, — yet still be 
von Id not sleep till be bad found tbe spot wbere Hicks's 
[lall formerly stood. He left tbe Hampstead stage, and 
here was ligbt enougb for bim to ascertain whetber tbe 
nilcstones were ,still faitbful to Hicks. A new difficulty 
;)re8ented itself. Tbe milestone in Camden Town informed 
lira that be was two miles from St Giles's Pounds What was 
3t. Giles's Pound ? Why did a saint require a pound ? If 
t was a pound sterling, was there not a slight anachronism 
between tbe name of tbe current coin and tbe era of 
be saint ? If it were a pound for cattle, was it not a very 
insaintly office for tbe saint to preside oyer the matter of 
strayed heifers? He was puzzled; — so be got into a cab, 
)eing disgusted with tbe ignorance of tbe people in 
>muibuse8, for the opportunity of a quiet colloquy with tbe 
ntelligentrlooking driver.* 

' My worthy friend,* said Jones, • we are only two miles 
from St, Giles's Pound — what sort of a pound is St. Giles's 
r^ound ?' * For tbe matter of that,' said tbe cab-driver, * I 
lave driv here these ten years, and I never yet seed 
5t Giles's Pound, nor Holbom Bars, — no, never, — though 
^e always reckons by them.' ' Wonderful !* replied Mr. 
Tones, — 'then please to drive me to the Standard in 
]JomhilL' * The Standard in Combill, — that's a good one ! 
—I should like to know who ever seed the Standard in 
]!omhill. Ve knows the Swan with Two Necks in Lad 
jane, and tbe Golden Cross, and tbe Vite Horse Cellar in 
'iccadilly, but I never heard of anybody that ever seed 
he Standard in Combill.' * Then, Sir,* said Jones, breatb- 
Bssly, * perhaps you don't know tbe place wbere Hicks's 
Tall formerly stood?' *As for Hicks's Hall,' said tbe 
abman, ' it's hall a bum. There's no such place, — ^no more 
ban tbe Standard in Combill, nor Holbom Bars, nor 
t. Giles's Pound, — and my oppinnun is, there never wor 
neb places, and that they keep their names on the mile- 
tones to bilk tbe poor cabs out of their back carriage.' 

* In 1837 the caWriver and his fare rode lovingly together side by side. 



462 ONCE UPON A TDfE. 

Jedediah Jones was dkoomfited. He did not quite 
nnderetand the cabman's solution; and he bad a yagne 
notion that, if the milestones were placed ^v^ith reference 
to the Post Office, or St. PanVs, or some place which dtd 
exist, the back carriage and other carrii^ of cabmen and 
hackney-ooachmen would be better regulated. He, how- 
ever, made the best of his position. He spent one of bis 
remaining shillings upon a very frugal dinner; tfd 
wending his way back to Islington, he bestcwed the other 
upon the coachman of a Holyhead mail to convey him 
to Bamet without further loss of time or property. 



( 463 ) 



AN EPISODE OF VATHEK. 



[In the year 1822, the world went mad about Fonthill. Salisbury Plain 
became populous, with May Fair and Cheapside travelling to see Mr.' 
Beckford's wonders. No profiwe eyes had ever looked upon his towers and 
pinnacles — ^his domes and galleries. Th«re was mystery, then, to combine 
with what was really worth seeing at Fonthill. Its exhibition and ita 
auction produced as much excitement as a Crystal Palace upon a small scale. 
The towers of Fonthill are in the dust, with its magnificent builder. They 
might have fallen, without a revival of my old recollections, had I not con- 
sidered that the public curiosity to see their works of art was an anticipation 
of the feeling of a better period. The people saw nothing of Art in those 
days, but the dingy Angerstein Gallery in PaU Mall ; and the state-rooms of 
Hampton Court and Windsor, at a shilling a head for the showman. The 
nobility kept their pictures locked up ; and Poets' Comer was inaccessible 
except to sixpences. Other days have come. Fonthill belongs to the Past.] 

The taste for tower-building, and for other architectural 
abeurdities, of which Yathek had Bet the example, became 
infectious in the country about Samarah. This monarch 
was at first indignant that his subjects should presume to 
copy his extravagances ; but his vanity was stronger than 
bis pride, and he left them in the quiet possession of their 
follies. His most ambitious rival was the merchant 
Bekfudi. The riches of this superb person were enormous. 
His caravans every year brought him silks and jewels that 
would have rivalled a princess's dowry, and the slaves that 
cultivated his groves of cinnamon might have formed the 
rear-guard of a sultan's army. He became dizzy with his 
wealth, and fancied that he was descended from the Assyrian 
kings ; — though his grandfather had carried a basket in the 
streets of Bagdad. 

Bekfudi had a handsome palace and extensive groands ; 
the hills and the valleys of a little province were his ; a 



464 ONCB UPON A tTMB. 

broad lake lingered in his groves of citrons and palms : 
and the apricots of his garden almost rivalled thorn which 
Yathek so prized from the isle of Kirmith. The ladies of 
his seraglio were as numerous and as beantifhl as the hsrem 
of the grand vizier, and the other famitore of his pakee 
was equally rare and costly. But Bekfbdi befiriin to be 
satiated with the pleasures and the magnificenoe of ordiittir 
mortals : in an evil hour he pulled down his palace and 
sold his women. He built an impenetrable >rall round te 
extensive gardens, and vowed to raise, upon the higbest 
hill which this barrier enclosed, a palace upon a new 
fashion. Bekfudi had no violent reverence for the leligka 
of his country ; and he therefore considered it a sinless 
profanation to make his dwelling-place like a moeqne^ and 
his tower resembling a minaret, though he inodesthr 
proposed it to be only ten times higher than the minaren 
of Bagdad. It was the extravagance of his amhition whidb 
prompted him to shut out all the world till he shonld ham 
finished his mosque ; and when his tower rose above the 
highest pines of the neighbouring hills, he solaced himntf 
with the hope that the peasants who gazed at an awfnl 
distance would believe that within its waUs dwelt one rf 
the sons of men, as powerful as the Genii, and as mystenovs 
as the Dives. 

Bekfudi possessed abundance of taste. His oonmumd of 
wealth enabled him to engross the rare productions of ait 
which were sometimes too costly even for emirs to acquire : 
and he lavished his gold upon those who could best apply 
their talents to the excitement of his self-admiration. All 
the ornaments of his palace had reference to his ancef^on : 
but though the artists, who recorded in fit emblems the 
mighty deeds of his progenitors, had an especial re^^asd to 
truth, they sedulously avoided all allusion to the basket- 
bearer. In a word, the mosque was a very magnifioe>nt 
place. It was the handsomest monum^it that taste ever 
reared to pride ; and though Bekfudi in his arroganoe had 
tried to make his tower rival the dome of the great, mosque 
at Damascus, and had only been stopped in hia pre 



AN EPISODE OF VATHKK. 4H 

sumpiuottB aspirings by the equally insolent biinicanef 
whioh twice blew it down, — and tbougb in bit» profaneness 
he bad built bia doimitoiies like the cells of the most 
pious santons, and had c<matructed studies aii4 refectories 
after tb^ models of sanctuaries and sbi-ines, — still the 
palace was gorgeous and elegant, and such as no subject 
ever before rai^ in the dominions ^of the Commander of 
the Faithful. 

Bekfudi weiftt on for many moons building and embel- 
lishing his mosque, — heaping stones upon his itower till 
the uncivil blasts gave him hints where to stop, .an4 
hanging up new draperies of Persian silks till the limited 
art of the dyer forbade any iur^er change, The superb 
merchant lived away in a round of selfish enjoyment; his 
slaves lacked their inventi<>9s to prepare him viands of th^ 
most costly materials ; and as Us health would not allow 
him always to drink the red wine of ghiras, be took care, 
under the &tal necessity of cesoiting tp so common ft 
beverage as waier, to render it palatable by sending 
caravans and escorts to bring it froia^ s^ fountain at ,fi 
hundred lefigues' distance. 

The great Mahomet, who had commissioned the Genii io 
mature and then pull down the presumptuous daTJngp ,qf 
the caliph Yathek, also resolved to crush the i^nbiti^n of 
the merchant Bekfudi. But as the pride and power of the 
mosque-builder were bounded by natural limits, it was 
unneoessaiy to work any miracles for his jinstructio)!. He 
lived on in his round of luxuries; and as his carayaiui 
came duly over the desert, and his ships were seldom lo9t 
upon the sea, he thought that the spices land the fruits cf 
his fertile isles would last for ever. But ^ere was ;a 
audden change in the fashions of Samarah. T}ie cooks 
began to make .their comfits w$ithout cinnamon, and the' 
green dates of their native plains came into request, to 
the exdlusion of the dried fruits of our wealthy merchant. 
His spices and his figs lay rotting in his warehouses, and, 
for the first time in his life, he began to think that his 
mine of wealth was not. inexhaustible. 

2 H 



466 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Thirty moons had passed before Bekfiidi ceased to poll 
down and build np the apartmenta of his mosque, or to 
send a hundred leagues for his water. The pastiy-coob 
were inexorable, and his own household even could not 
endure the flavour of cinnamon. He at length discharged 
his masons and his cai-penters, and, as a great effort of eco- 
nomy, abridged his table of one of the fifly-two dishes with 
which it was daily covered. But all these privations were 
unavailing ; Bek^di was in debt, and his creditors would 
not wait for a change in the taste for spices. He resoltcd 
to invite all Samarah to see his mosque, and to purcfasse 
his curiosities* For three moons all Samarah went mtd. 
Away ran the idle and the busy, to scramble np BekfTtdTE 
tower, — ^to wander about his hmg galleries upon carpets 
from Cairo, — to touch his gold censers, or to pore upon Im 
curious pictures. As to his books, Bekfndi caieiiillT 
locked them up. He was a great commentator, and lik 
relish for theological speculations led him to fear that las 
performances might introduce him to too close an ac^ 
quaintance with l^e mufd and the cadi. 

Amongst the mob who had been to see Bekfadi's tow^. 
was a clever little Persian Jew, who had the reputation o^ 
being one of the most discreet dealers in Samaralu Did » 
courtier require a thousand piastres to bribe a judge, car 
little Jew would raise the sum in a moment, upon tk 
pledge of the courtier^s carbuncle ; or did a lady of ^ 
seraglio desire a pound of gold dust to fee an eunucdi, ov 
little Jew would furnish it upon the most modensc: 
interest. His warehouses were full of the moveahk 
treasures of all the great men of the palace, from the grand 
vizier to the principal mute ; and everybody vowed tli»*. 
, he was the honestest Jew in the world, and it was « grest 
pity so useful and so clever a trader should be a dog of as 
infldel. 

Bekf adi had a hatred of all Jews ; but, nevertheless, our 
little £9totor contrived to approach him. ^ He had oojoe t^ 
proffer his services to the great merchant; he kumblj 
proposed to purchase his matchless ouriositiea» and h^ 



AN EPISODE OP VATHEK. 457 

magnifioent famiture,' 'What! he, the giaour from 
Persia? he presume to offer a price for rarities that 
monarchs might covet T • Yes : and moreover, he would 
purchase his books and his paintings, his vessels of gold 

and of silver, his wine, his .' The merchant was in a 

rs^e, and drove the Jew from his presence ; but he quickly* 
recalled him. * Slave,' cried- Bekfudi, *I will hold a 
moment's parley with thee. How much wilt thou give 
for my topaz cup, and my goblet set with emeralds V • I 
will not purchase' these alone,' said the Jew, * but I will 
purchase thy lands, and thy mosque, and thy silken dra- 
peries, and thy woven carpets, and thy golden vessels, and 
thy jewels, and thy books, and thy pictures, and all that 
thy palace contains ; and here, without, I have twenty 
dromedaries laden with four hundred thousand sequins, 
which shall be thine.' Bekfudi was in a rage, but the 
eloquence of the dromedaries prevailed; and that night 
the little Jew locked up the mosque with the ail's of a 
master. 

The mob from Samarah was soon dispersed; and 
Bekfudi prepared with many a sigh to leave a palace 
of which he had so long been the uncontrolled lord. The 
little Jew haunted him from gallery to gallery, and from 
the gloom of the sanctuary to the sunlight of the .'great 
lantern. With the most provoking malice he dwelt upon 
the beautiful proportions of this pavilion, and the mag- 
nificent furniture of that saloon ; and swore that none of 
the monarchs of the world could rival the great merchant 
in taste and splendour. * And what will you do with this 
unequalled palace ?' said Bekfudi. * I have bought it for a 
dealer in sulphur,' replied the Jew. The pride of Bekfadi 
was ground into the dust; but he was curious to see 
the rival of his wealth and the inheritor of his possessions. 
It was agreed that they should meet at dinner. 

The hour came, and Bekfudi appeared in the gran^ 
saloon, attired in a splendid vest; — the aigrette of his 
turban was composed of the lai^est diamonds, and tho 
plume that it bore was from the wing of a bird of paradise^ 

2h2 



406 <mCE UPON A TIME. 

His delicate hands wete -^raiAed with the cfaoicest esBences. 
and the perfdmes of his garments plunged the senses into s 
languor which nothing but the excitements of the moet 
exquisite viands could dissipate. He expected to han 
met, in the dealer In sulphur, a persoiu^e «vhoee ridia 
would have procured for him some of the refinementB "wiikk 
belonged to the dealer in spices;— but bow was be 
humiliated when a miserable old man presented hiandf. 
as ugly as k faquir that had been doing penaoice fat £At 
years, wrapped round with a wi^tohed robe of dirty cotfaa, 
^d his head suimounted with a beastly tniban, that ai 
the waters of Rocnabad could never pwiify ! The iardeii 
of this captivating personage was covered with knots od 
wrinkles, his blear eiyes twinkled in their little franed-vp 
sockets, his enormous month exhibited ihree teeHi of tbe 
most delicious blackness, and his ihenib was 'fteek 
bestowed upon those whom the fttvonir of -his breath & 
not keep at a respectful distance. Bekfudi shrieked ib^ 
shouted for his dwarf; but the obsequious Jew called is a 
loud voice for dimmer, and the unhappy mekx^httnt was eoc- 
strained by his politeness to take his seat «t Hie boui 
The new possessor of the mosque wta equally aii me tl T t 
in his diet ; a ragout of garlie was served up for Itf 
especial pleasure ; and as he dii^)ed his grimy bands iiti 
the golden dish, Bekfudi would have fiiinted at tihe odoc 
of the savoury steams, had not his fiuthful dwarf thrt^in: 
the reviving attar over his forehead, and forced a cop d 
sherbet down his throat. The mouth of the dealer i^ 
sulphur distended into an audible grin, and be pledged ^ 
dainty merchant in execrable brandy. Their oonvemrtK^ 
at length became interesting. The man of solpbnr had & 
most agreeable collection of oaths ; itnd as he swore \f^ 
Solomon and Eblis, by the sacred camel and the dog of tk 
seven sleepers, the man. of spies percerred that he bai 
a high reverence for the mysteries of theology ; — asd i 
wonderful sympathy in this particular grew up betwMc 
them. They embraced and parted; but Bekfiidi nerd 
forgot the garlic. 



Alt BPISODS OF VATHEK. 469 

The little Jew soon applied his master's purchase to good 
loconnt. Within a week the superb merchaat began to 
ndulge a wish for the possession of some of his former 
nost splendid banUes; he bethought him that his free 
labit of expressing his thoughts in the broad margins 
)f his beautiful manuscripts might one day cause some 
iwkward inquiries ; and he was desirous of securing some 
pictures, of which he thought none but himsialf knew the 
peculiar value. He of the dirty hands was as ready to 
iomply with these reasonable wishes, and Bekfudi began 
o think that his turban and his garlic might in time be 
mdurable. The' articles were selected, but the little Jew 
lad yet to name the price. Bekfddi raved and tore his 
lair when a fourth of his four hundred thousand sequins 
wer^ demanded for what had cost even him not a tenth of 
ihe sum. He raved and tore his hair ; but the Jew and 
;he sulphur-merchant were calm. Bekludi bad not yet 
earned to subject his desires to his circumstances; and 
^wo dromedaries marched off with their costly load. 

The Jew and his merchant passed the winter very 
ndustriously. From his warehouses in Samarah, this 
ustive dealer brought all the glittering pledges which the 
uisfortunes of his clients had left unredeemed; and he 
iecorated the mosque, like a grand bazaar, with a great 
ziany new curiosities, and a great many rare commodities 
^th fine names from the east and the west, which the artists 
>f Samarah could manufacture as well as those of Persia 
)r China. The little Jew knew where to find expert limners, 
?vho could imitate the paintings even of the celebrated 
kiani, so as to deceive the most' critical eyes; clever copy- 
sts, that would transcribe the tales and poems of Arabia 
^th a correctness that woxdd enchant the most exquisite 
^nnoisseurs ; and acute chemists, that would give to the se- 
cretly pressed grape-juice of the gardens of Bekfudi himself, 
;he inimitable flavour of the wines of Shiraz or Eismischer 
rhe little Jew had, however, not quite so complete a judg- 
nent as the builder of the mosque, and he therefore com- 
uitted a few mistakes with a very enterprising spirit. 



470 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

AmidHt the solemn and sabdued splendour of the sanctaaryt 
upon which Bekf adi most prided himself, he hung tip an 
enormous mirror which brought all the varied oolouis of 
the neighbouring galleries, and all the garishness of d&T, 
into the heart of its former deep and impressive gloom; 
and in the hall which .the spice-merchant had dedicated to 
the worthies of his country, he stuck up the statue of one 
of the rebellious princes who had presumed to contaid 
against the justice of the great Haroun al Baschid. Bot 
the little Jew was yet a most deserving hdor. All 
Samarah again flocked to the mosque with the gie>t 
minaret ; and all Samarah came this time with mouej is 
their vests, to purchase some relic of the magni£oeot 
Bekfudi. Every one was pleased, except the unhai^T 
builder of the palace, for every one was agreeably relieTe^ 
of his sequins at his own free-will. He alone writhed un^ 
the moitifioations of his pride, and the outrages upon lui 
taste. He stalked one day into the palace of his splenta 
now metamorphosed into one large bazaar, and with a }^^ 
of fury he overthrew the statue of the foe of the ci^^ 
aud shivered into a thousand pieces the mirror wlii(^ 
deformed the sanctuary. He then c^oUy paid the pric* 
which the Jew demanded, and retired to a humble dveliinS 
without a minaret, purposing to pass the remainder of btf 
days in composing treatises on temperance and humility^ 
but ending in building another tower. 



( 471 ) 



THE ETON MONTEM. 

Amongst the ' Memorable Things Lost ' is the Eton Montem. 
Bailroads destroyed it : for they made it vulgar. White- 
ohapel tamed out for the last Montem, as it turns out for 
the Lord 2d!ayor's show— and the aristocratic school would 
no longer indulge the mob with a cheap holiday. Let me 
remember Montem, as I laist saw it in 1820. 

London gave up its Poet of Mayor's Day a century ago. 
Eton retained its Montem iPoet till he went the way of 
other immortals. The Poet was a more prominent person- 
age in the ceremony of Montem than the Head-master of 
the college. But the reader must permit me to throw my 
remembrances into a dialogue between three or four friends, 
who came to look at the triennial show, — to laugh at it, or 
to defend it : — 

* Who is that buffoon that travesties the travesty ? in- 
quired Frazer. ' Who is that old cripple alighted from his 
donkey-cart, who dispenses doggrel and grimaces in all the 
glory of plush and printed cali<^ ?* 

* That, my most noble cynic,' said Gerard, ' is a prodigious 
personage. Shall birthdays and coronations be recorded 
in immortal odes, and Montem not have its minstrel ? He, 
sir, is Herbertus Stockhore ; who first called upon his muse 
in the good old days of Paul Whitehead, — run a race with 
Pye through all the sublimities of lyres and fires, — and is 
now hobbling to his grave, after having sung fourteen 
Montems, the only existing example of a legitimate laureate. 
Ask Paterson about him ; — ^he is writing a quarto on his 
life and genius.' 

'He ascended his heaven of invention,' said Paterson, 
* before tte vulgar arts of reading and writing, which are 
Isanishing all poetry from the world, could clip Jiis wings. 



472 ONCE UPOH A TIMS. 

He was an adventurous soldier in his boyhood ; biit,liaviiig 
addicted himself to matrimony and the muees, settled tt a 
bricklayer's labourer at Windsor. His meditations oa tlie 
hou8e^tx)pB soon grew into form and substance ; and, about 
the year 1780, he aspired, with all the impudenoe of Shad- 
well, and a little of the pride of Petraroh, to the laurel- 
crown of Eton. From that day he has worn his honours on 
his " Cibberian fbrehead " without a rival.' 

* And what is his style of composition ?' said Fiaa^. 

* Vastly naive and original ; — thou^ the charaotor of tfae 
age is sometimes impressed upon hisproduotioiiflL For the 
first three odes, ere the school of Pope was eictinoi, he vk 
a compiler of regular couplets, such 



** Te dames of honour and lords of higli rtoown, 
Wlio oome to r mi itt tt fitoo toWn. " 

During the next nin^ years, when the i^tnembrance d 
Collins and Gray wad working a glorious change in tbe 
popular mind, he ascended to Pindarics, and closed hi^ 
lyrics with some such pious invocation as this : — 

** And now well sing 
God save the King, 

And send him long td reign, 
That he tnay cbma 
To hare some Am 

At Montemottoe again." 

During the first twelve years of the present centuiy tbe 
influence of the Lake School was visible in his pn^ 
ductions. In my great work I shall give ah elabonte 
dissertation on his imitations of the high pimsts of thtt 
worship; but I must now content myself with a siog^ 
illustration : — 

** There's Knaign Rennell, tail and proud, 
Doth stand upon the faiU, 
And waves the flag to all the crowtl. 

Who much admire his skill. 
And here I sit upon my B8», 
Who lops his shaggy ears ; 
Mild thing ! he lets the gentry pass, 
Nor heeds the carriages and peers.** 



TSC ETON MONTBM* 473 

He -was once infeoted (but it wbb a yenial km) by the 
iieresies of tbe Cockney scbool ; and was betrayed, by the 
contagion of evil example, into the following oonoexts : — 

'« B«hoId Admiral Keat« of the terreiitrial crew, 
Who teaches Greek, Latin, and likewise Hebrew ; 
He has taught Captain Dampier, the first in the race, 
Swirling his hat with a feathery grace, 
Cookson tb« Marshal, and Willoaghbj, of sixe, 
Making minor Sergeani*MigorB iB looking^g^ass ejes." 

Bnt be at length returned to his own pure and original 
style ; and, like the dying swan, he sings the sweeter as he 
is approaching the land where the voice of his minstrelsy 
shall no more be heard. There is a calm melancholy in the 
close of his present Ode which is very pathetic, and almost 
3ha.ksperean s-^ 

<< Farewell yon gay and happy throng ! 
Farewell tny Muse I farewell my song ! 
Farewell Salthilll farewell brare Captain I" 

Yet, may it be long before he goes hence and is no more 
seen ! May he limp, like his rhymes» for at least a dozen 
years ; for National Schools have utterly annihilated our 
hopes of a successor !' 

Faterson finished his apostrophe at a lucky juncture; 
for the band struck up, and the procession began to move. 

We have reached the foot of the mount at Salthill,— a 
very respectable barrow, which never dreamt, in its 
Druidical age, of the interest which it now excites, and the 
honours which now await it. Its sides are clothed with 
mechanics in their holiday clothes, and happy dairy-maids 
in their Sunday gear;— at its base sit Peeresses in their 
l3arouches, and Earls in all the honours of four-in-hand. 
The flag is waved; the scarlet coats and the crimson 
plumes of the Etonians float amongst us— < the boys cany 
it away, Hercules and his load too,'— and the whole earth 
seems made for the enjoyment of one universal holiday. 

*And is this aU?' said Fraaer, in a tone of querulous 



474 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

contempt, which became almost poeitavelj moumfTil in hu 
Doric dialect ; — ' is this all that these thousands of alksB' 
ladies and silly clowns are come to gaze upon? Out npon 
such tomfoolery, whose origin is as obscure as its end is 
pointless.' 

Faterson at once took up the cudgels. — ' And I say, oat 
upon your eternal hunting for causes and reasons. I love tlie 
no-meaning of Montem. I love to be asked for ^^ Salt," bjs 
pretty boy in silk stockings and satin doublet, thou^ the 
custom has been called ''something between begging and 
robbing.'* I love the apologetical " Mos pro Lege^^ whidi 
defies the police and the Mendicity Society. I love the 
absurdity of a Captain taking precedence of a Mf>.mlM^1 ; and 
a Marshal bearing a gilt b&ton, at an angle of forty-five de- 
gr^s from his right hip ; and an Ensign flonrishing a ^$% 
with the grace of a tight-rope dancer ; and Sergeants paged 
by fair-skinned Indians and beardless Turks ; and Corporals 
in sashes and gorgets, guarded by innocent Polemen in Uae 
jackets and white trousers. I love the mixture of real and 
mock dignity — the Provost, in his cassock, clearing the wij 
for the Duchess of Leinster to see the Ensign make bis bov; 
or the Head Master gravely dispensing his leave, tiU nine. 
to Counts of the Holy Boman Empire and Grand Signioi& 
I love the crush in the cloisters and the mob on the Mount 
— I love the clatter of carriages and the plunging of horse- 
men — I love the universal gaiety, from the peer ^vho smiles 
and sighs that he is no longer an Eton boy, to the oountry^ 
girl who marvels that such little gentlemen have cocked 
hats and real swords. Give me a Montem with all its tom- 
foolery — I had almost said bd&>re a coronation — and eves 
without the aids of a Ferigord-pie and a bottle of daiet at 
the Windmill.' 

* If there were some association,* replied Fnucer, * vrhich 
could, in the slightest degree, connect the pageant withe the 
objects of a royal school of learning — (I had esqpected at 
least to have heard a Latin oration) — ^I would not so nmch 
reprehend it ; but for a procession in pumps, along a dns^ 
road, to end in the College Exercise of a King's Scholar 



THE ETOX MONTEM. 475 

waving a banner, is too absurd for any fancy to dress up a 
▼indication.' 

^ A vindication of a ceremony that makes twenty thousand 
people happy 1' exclaimed Gerard : * the very scene before 
the window furnishes a ready answer to every objector. 
Here is folly enough in conscience ; but it is the folly of 
an age when folly sits easily and gracefully upon us. Did 
yon ever see an installation? The mantles are not much 
finer than little Sutton's, and the plumes are not much 
more exalted than lofty Piatt's ; and then, for a procession, 
we beat them hollow. Look at the eight beautiful boys 
that attend the Captain — their ages and figures are pretty 
equal, and their eyes beam with a joy which sparkles like 
their spangles — is not this sometiliing more natural and 
pleasing than a train of decrepit Dukes or hobbling Mar- 
quises, where the flowing mantle but ill conceals the 
shrunk calf, and the ostrich-feathers nod over sunken eyes 
and wrinkled cheeks T 

* I think,' quoth William Payne, as they moved to the 
Windmill garden — (he had, till that moment, been a listener 
to the rival opinions) — * I think Montem may be defended 
upon vety reasonable grounds ; M encourages the arts and 
manufactures of the country, improves the revenue, and is 
altogether consonant with Ihe soundest principles of politi- 
cal economy.' 

* A fig for your political economy !' exclaimed Gerard, 
as they entered the garden, — ' bore's a scene I What but 
Montem could have brought together so many divine 
shapes, such beaming eyes ? How gracefully they lounge 
throng the shadowy walks ! how they stud the lawn with 
hues more delicate than the lilacs; how they beat time 
with their eloquent fingers to ** Love among the roses!'* 
how they smile upon the slim lads, who, after the sixth 
^lass, come amongst them to make conquests! It is a 
right English scene; there is the staymaker's wife from 
Thames-street elbowing a Cavendish, and a gentleman* 
commoner of Cambridge playing the agreeable to the 



479 ONCB UPON A TIME. 

fanaer's prettj dftngbter from Gippeahanirgreeii. Fi«ier, 
Frazer, abandon your heresy !' 

'It is* indeed> an EngKek aeeae/ said PateiBon. 'Be- 
neath that elm stands one of our great Etonians ; he is 
evidently pleased. There is a smile of pensive joy play- 
ing about his lips, and his eyea are lijj^ted up with a fioiid 
reooUection of happiness that is past awi^. I daie b» 
sworn that George Canning, the first of living orstora, tl» 
statesman whose genius is piercing its way thxoi]^ tba 
dark donds of Europe's destiny, is even now looking hsek 
with more real pleasare to the triumphs of Ore^iy Gxiffin, 
than to the honours of the most saoces&Ail poUoy ; and it 
feeling, with a true philoaophyi that the swords and pluBkM 
of Montem are worth as much — perhaps much more — tfasa 
the ribbons and stars of a riper age^^** a little louder, bat 
as empty quite."* 

* And there,* said Holyoake, ' stands his fearless and all- 
knowing rival ; — and he, too, is pleased, I see no from 
gathering like a whirlwind about the brows of Heniy 
Brougham. He is ohatting with a happy little bero d 
buckles and silk-stockings, as delighted himself as if be 
were perfectly unconscious of briefe and Brookea's. Mon- 
tem for ever, say I, if it were qdIj that it can make two 
such men forget the caras and passions of their ordinaij 
life, even for a few hours.' 

* Gome,' said Grerard, ' politicians are every-day persons 
on such occasions as thasa.; I can see these ^' foremost mea 
of all the world " for half-«korown, any night between this 
and the prorogation. Look yonder — there is a mother kiss- 
ing her boy who is just arrived to the dignity of the fifth 
form, and the privilege of a Corporal's coat — ^while hi» 
lovely sister gases on him with a speechless admiratioa. 
and wishes that *' heaven bad made her such a man." 
That trio alone redeems Montem from all its folly*' 

'I can behold such a piece of the pathetic any day/ 
said Frazer, 'at an '* establishment " at Islington, or a 
'* seminaxy " at Oamden Town.' 



* abcMit itRfr jojfiitfiisi* <£ M:ei:«B : Wat h> «tt K^xnuu)!^ M ^ 

calls up awviSBxsiicifr of k.f>e and b*|>piiiM«k muu) ni^iiivk 
even the wi^e feeal litiA tbeav a SK\iiiethui|; Wtl^r l)v%^\ X^ ^tr 
dom, and tbe p«at i^it there is siuutclhiiig lu^Ulr^r \\>f^\\ 
gieatneoiL And tken ifae fiu^B that cooi« aWllt nn M i^^^vK 
a time, wi-Ji iLeir tales of old friendshqw txr |tt^M^^^^^HHl 
rivalrieA. I bave seen to-day fifVy fellovrv \\f wtuviu t ^v 
member onlr the aicknames ;— tl^y ar^ m>w \)«>|2,^^iuMi^hs^ 
info scheming HLP/a, or dever lawyom^ or )HMil;\ ^)^>^'l>v^« ; 
— hot at Mooton diej leave the ploddinj;; w\>rU) wt \\^\\\^ 
for one day, and regain the dignitUNi of nivltO^NH^ 
Etonians.* 



478 ONCE UPON A TIME. 



ITEMS OF THE OBSOLETE. 

The changes that are constantly going forward in the ex- 
ternal aspects of society require the lapse of a greneiatkn 
or two to make a due impression upon our senses and oor 
reason. One form of life so imperceptibly slides vats' 
another, that we observe no striking contrasts till ^we look 
back from our age to our youth, or study, with, a puipoee 
of comparison, the pictures which the novelists or dramati£tB 
of one period have painted, and then turn to the same occs- 
sional records of another period, by the same class of true 
historians. Thus we see distinctly that Defoe lived in « 
condition of society very different from that in which 
Fielding lived, and that Smollett was describing eceam 
and characters which could never have offered themsel^v^s 
to the observation ^of Dickens. It is the same with the 
painters. Hogarth's men and women are essentially imlikd 
those of Gillray, and Oillray*s notabilities never to be con- 
founded with those of Doyle or Leech. As a boy, I was 
familiar with Hogarth. But as pictures of a life tbat wu 
patent to me, how could I comprehend the cassocked par- 
son on his lean horse, and his daughter alighted from tb€ 
York Waggon ? * A fine lady beating hemp in Bridewell 
was equally incomprehensible.f I had never seen such a 
smart industrious apprentice working at a hand-loom as 
H(^rth showed me ; nor such an idle one, gambling with 
blackguards upon a tombstone, while sober people were 
going to church. Never beheld I a little boy in a laced 
cocked-hat, { nor saw a bonfire in the middle of the etreete 
on a rejoicing-night.§ Grenadiers wore other cape than I 

* Harlot's Progress, plate 1. f Harlot's Progress, plate 4. 

t Evening. § Night. 



ITE16 OF THE OBSOLETE, 4T\> 

oteerred in * Hie March to Finchlej ;' and in tho »ti^|ii^« 
coach of mj eady dajs there was no literal ba^kot hiuiK 
behind, in which sat an old woman Bmoking a pi}Hn* Ah 
a painter of liTing manners Hogarth was obooK>to ill th«> 
first decade of this century. But how prioeless as a {mintt^r 
of domestic histoiy ! 

I look back npon mj native town as I renioniln^r it hh a 
schoolboj.f How changed is it in its everyday lifo \\\ a 
hundred minute changes that are not peculiar io nty birth- 
place, but which belong to the universal rovtthUitum uf 
fifty years ! How obsolete are many of tlie faiuiliur \\\\\\^ 
that seemed a part of my early being ! A rooit> \\h\ \\i 
them would suggest many thoughts not unprt)tit4iblo \\\ 
those who know that the progress of a gonomtiuu Im U\ W 
read in other memorialists than Hansard. 

Windsor was an ill-built town — a patobwork (own of 
encroachments upon the castle, and of lath and ]>lMi«(«»r 
tenements run up cheaply upon collegiatQ and (H)r)>ointt» 
leaseholds. There was nothing ancient in the town, t^xoopt 
the church, which was swept away some thirty yw^ii* ttg*», 
' Mine host of the Garter ' had no anti(|ue hontt^lrv ; miuI 
* Heme's Oak 'was a very apocryphal roHo. hum thot^ 
were, with historical signs; but tlio * lioyal Oiik ' of 
Charles II., 'The Queen's Head ' of Anne, and * Tbt^ Duko'M 
Head' of the CuUoden executioner, wore only luiticiut) ill 
premature decay. The usual neglect of all country lowim 
clung to Windsor— filthy gutters and unswopt oauHowHyH^ 

My native town was a Corporate Borough, Tho (\)rpt na- 
tion was no abstract authority. It was on all poMHihli* 
occasions visible to the public eye, in solemn proooHNioim 
of red gowns and blue, with the mace«bearer in the fittnt, 

* Country Inn-yard. 

t In 'Windsor, aa it was/ I have attempted a picture of the Court- WiiHtiior 

.the Caetle. The present paper has reference solely to the Borough. Wliulmir, 

as I knew it as a youth, was a singular mixture of the poetical and the piHMiiiu 
—of the poetical in its antiquities and its regalities — of the proMiic in Itii miviii 
modem town and its very narrow society. 

I Of its andent Black Ditches I have spoken elsewhere, p. 417« 



480 ONCE XTPGS A 4rnCE. 

and the beadle in the lear. The Oorpontion varohed te 
church in toged state ; and three times « jear it aatonMiflii 
the chUdren by this array of grandeur, when it procUiffled 
a gingerbread fair at street comers, and oot a hot apioe^ut 
co«ld be sold till the mace>bearer had shouted * Oh ycsf 
I fear all this glory is departed from the landL EkotiTe 
corporatozs now go to church in frock coats; and tk 
charter of Charles II., which bestowed npon the Bonn^ 
three fairs and two market-days, and regalated the bujeis 
and sellers, is held to be as litUe worth preservation as ibt 
edict of Jack Cade that * seven halfpenny loaves should Ik 
sold for a penny.' 

The maiEke1>*bell ! Is that rung now p I fear not. Then 
was something de^ly impressive in that helL It spokt 
loudly of the majesty of the law, which then aspired to r^ 
gulate some domestic as well as all foreign oommenoe. Tht 
Btalls were duly set The butchers had hung np thek 
joints ; the farmer's wife had spread her fowls and kr 
butter upon a white cloth ; onions and apples stood tenpt- 
ingly on the pavement side. But not an atom ooold le 
sold till the mai^ket-bell had rung. 

There were laws then against * forestalling,' ^^ith oognate 
crimes termed * badgering,' ' regrating,' ' engi-osshig.* Be 
in the seventh and eighth years of Queen Victoria sad 
statutes were repealed, as being ' made in hinderaace aoc 
in restraint of trade.' What a solemn thing it appeared u 
my juvenile understanding to be assured that it was nnk«- 
ful even to handle a goose till the bell said, ^ yon ma^^ bar 
gain !' There was a board exhibited, which told of heavy 
penalties, if early housewives were disobedient to tk 
mandates of that bell, and dared to chaffer before other 
housewives were awake. I used to ponder upon the w^ 
dom of our ancestors, that so regulated the common a£G^ii^ 
of life ; and forbade the lieges to buy and sell in the an^r 
market, which was * regrating ;' or to buy wholesale at all. 
which was ' engrossing ;' or to buy before the whole worki 
was awake and ready to buy, which was * forestalling. 
That market-bell is silent for ever, even though Black- 



or THI OBSOLETE. 461 



Atone proclaiaed knr wiae were the laws of which it wwi 
the voice. 

And then there wne the Pie^Powder Court, upon thy 
evening of the fior. In the Town Hall sat the juntiotm tn 
state till niidn]|[^C There was a supper, no doubt ; but 
they sat there for the public good, that offenders \\\\y(i\i \w 
summarily dealt with before the dust of the feet— ;^(W/ f)ituihyt 
— 'Was shaken ofL That was the interpretation wliich (Iim 
learned imparted to me—the official etymoloKy, whlith 
showed what a noble instrument was the law, wluni iimynr 
and aldermen kept out of their beds to make offoium mid 
punishment go together. A truer etymology she »ws thai llitt 
Pie-Powder Gonrt was the oourt to determine diN|)iili*M \m 
tween pedlar and pedlar, the pied puldrtiix^ of H(U)tlaii<l tm 
well as England. The * dustifoot ' himself is ncmrly hmiiu « 
and the court of the ' dustifoot' is gone Imfore hiiu. \ t^i U 
was an inoffensive court. Like Chancery it did llltip i bill 
unlike Chancery it charged little. 

The shops of the Borough were Udt in Ibimii di»,vi> vmi> 
brilliant. The window-panes were smiill ; and (lu< ^limv hi 
the windows not greatly attractive. Thi»m with imi (imii|iI 
ing tickets of « this chaste article only 1 4^. 1 Oi// ( StHliiMiiM » 
w^ent to the shop for what they wanted, and Pinldtitti illii|MtliJil 
the price if they had an account. KvoiyiMMly hud mi m\ 
count; for there was a very queer and iimlU**! iMtiit>tM\v 
A guinea was a rarity ; and so waM a Nhillin|(( wllh »i viAihli> 
King's head. The sij^pences, Mhillin^M, and hMll Kinvvitn 
were thin pieces of metal, not always nilvui', whlili |mMi»d 
rather as counters than* as money. Intrln«limll,v, wlimi 
good, they were worth about half Ihnir iiouiliml unmunl. 
How has my boyish heart rejoiced at tlm iimdoM y,\\) til a 
pretty shilling,— that is, a shilling with a |mrliiol iilivoi»i» 
and reverse ! I would put such a rarity Ui u\y uniiill nlmo uf 
handsome half-crowns of the first and Hccond (Jimhuhh, wliifh 
we used to call < pocket-pieces,' and gir/e at tliom hm wton d 
things, which it would be profanation to oniploy iim »u»im,v. 
It is difficult to look back upon such a Mtate at alVairn and 
comprehend how the business of life wont on. ( 'iiuiioim 

2 I 



482 ONCE uMN A rmA. 

tradesmen wonld rather ' book ' your jmrehases tban iake 
your doubtfiil silver ; and there was a sort of Lynch kv 
amongst some, that when a bad com was tendered, con- 
scionsly or nnoonsciously, the hammer and nail were rsadr 
to pin the offensive thing to the deal counter, as a tenor u 
all evil-doers. Payments of some amount were often mttk 
in copper penny-pieces. A Bank of England one-pomid B<it£ 
was a suspeoted t^ing, for foi^ries were by no saeaDS on- 
comniion, even though periodical hangings of the forgen anc 
utterers were holiday spectacles throughout the ]an4. The 
diHy local notes were the one currency — ^thou^ sametimm 
a bank stopped payment. The country banker would abc 
receive very small sums upon interest — for there were no 
Saving8*-banks ; and then, when a crash oame, ^leat s&d 
wide-spreading was the misery. The idrty one-poand note 
is gone ; and so is the worn-out money. No scliool-bov now 
values a new shilling, except as an exchanger ; and if b^ 
grandmother were to give him ' a pocket-piece,' it would La 
remain long in his pocket. 

My native town, I am a&aid, did not oontain a very 
industrious population. It had no uanufactoree except tha: 
of Ale— Windsor Soap had retired to Staines. Few of the 
community were wealthy, but most of them took life eaalj. 
and enjoyed themselves with a good deal of heartiness in 
their own fashion. There was always some gala to relieve 
the monotony of the provincial existence — a race, a revel 
a review. I think the bells were always ringing. Tfaei^ 
were about twenty royal birthdays in a year — and the belL 
pealed out their * triple bob-majors ' from mom to dewy ev^ 
On all these rejoicing days there were what w^e cbUk. 
illuminations. A ra^ed boy or two would carry aboir 
illumination candlesticks — such a candlestick being a lump 
of clay with a hole in it — and these elegant light-bearers 
were stuck in the windows, and their thin candles flamed 
away for an hour or so, till they guttered out. The illumi- 
nation, however, was useful as well as pleasant, for the few 
public lamps gave small light ; and then on the gala nigkt? 
the maid with a lantern, who ordinarily went before her 



irms OF THE OBSOLRTE. 488 

mistresB to the caid-party, saved her labour. I think these 
clay candlesticks and that lantern are passed away. The 
town-gons, which duly emulated the bells, are gone also, I 
suppose, in this business-like age. I loved the bells, af I 
loved the chimes. It was the dream of youth, perhaps, but 
they had a charm for me which is also amongst the obsolete. 
The daily « toll' of St. George's Chapel, which 'tolled in* 
few wonhippers, was a pleasant sound, which came over 
the ear soothingly. In London, the chimes and the church- 
bells arrest no passer-by. A worthy magnate of PatemoHter 
Row used to say that he never heard Saint Paul's bell, 
though it rang out daily. I have heard it, but I never 
heeded it Not so my native bells : — 

Sia>bath bdls I ye duly chime 

For worthip, over hill and Wi ; 
I think thai once ye peal'd that time 

In tones that went more cheerfully. 
Speak ye not now of formal kneeUngi, 

Cold hearta, dull Toicei, Kmla asleep? 
Monro ye not now for hygone feeling, 

For seal to praiee, for penitence to weop ? 

Matins' hell, how deeply booming 

Thy sammoDs to the pMsing crowd I 
I see the rast cathedral looming, 

Its cross in sun, its dome in cloud : 
Fills not the temple with those feet, 

Those thousand feet, that onward race ?- - 
The choir hath room ; six paupers meet 

'l*he solitary clerks in God's deserted pliut*. 

Holiday hells I ye rarely sing 

Of gladness in the labourer's way, 
And say that man may rent, and flin^ 

His cares behind him for a day. 
I hear not now your call to Maying;, 

Ye shoot not out the Whitaun*time; 
* The merry bells '—'tis an old saying. 
; Belied by your unpractis'd, diiMf)UAat ohimo. 

Sabbath bells, and matins' bell, 

And bell that tolls for earth to earth, 
And holiday bells — I miss your spell, 
. The spell that gave your sounds a worth ; 

2i 2 



484 ONCE UPOX A TIME* ' 

I heard jt spttk of Faith and Love, — 

Of Hope ye spake to hearts in sorrow, — 
Your mirth seem'd echoed fi-om aboTe — 

When will to-day's dall bells ring in a ha.ppier morrow? 

The oat-door amusements of the Borough were not of a 
very Taried character. 'The horses' came sometimt^; 
and with the horses came the shilling lottery, in which 
there were real prizes of cotton gowns and legs of muttun 
— and, more attractive still, 

* Where silyer spoons are won, and rings of gol(L' 

I just remember to have seen a mountebank — a real momire- 
bank, who set tip his bills, 

' That promised cure 
Of ague or the toothache/ 

amidst jokes and compliments, which would go farther t < 
cure some diseases than the gravity of the whole Ck>llege d 
Physicians. Where is the mountebank gone ? We mm: 
now take the physic without the jest. Newspapers have 
annihilated the mountebank. Advertisements usurp the 
office of the Merry Andrew. And thus we flee to * ParrV 
Life Pills; 

The Bull-bait was a ceremony at which I was never per 
mitted to assist ; but I have seen the bull, as Gay saw hiiu. 
— and I have seen his companion, too : 

* With slow and solemn air, 
Led by the nostril, walks the mazzled bear; 
Behind him moves, majestically dull, 
The pride of Hockley-hole, the sorly boll.' 

The bear and the monkey were harmless exhibitions in 1&5 
day. I never asked, as Slender asked, • Why do the dtf- 
bark so ? be there bears in the town ?' But I have heaiu 
the bull-dogs bark. The fashion of cruelty was change«i. 
I should have thought that the bull-bait had gone out at 
the beginning of the century, had I not before me a oont- 
spondence between the Under-Secretary of State and on: 
Mayor, by which it seems that the sport was feishionabte s^ 
late as. 1818. Lord Sidmouth had heard of *an intention 



TTESLS OF THE OBSOLETE. 



485 




Bear- ward.— Hogarth. 



to create a mob at Windsor, on Monday next, under colour 
of a wish to ascertain the life of His Majesty/* and he called 
upon the mayor to quell any disturbance. It was not the 
first plot that Lord Sidmouth had snififed from afar. The 
Mayor had no apprehension of such a mob ; but he writes : 
* It is said that a bull is to be baited on Monday next, in a 
piece of ground adjoining this town— a brutal amusement 
"vvhich has too frequently occurred at this place, which I 
would gladly suppress were I possessed of sufficient 
authority ;' and he adds, ' whenever a bull-bait has taken 
place here, a very large portion of the military have joined 
in the amusement.' Alas I for authority. The law then 
permitted bull-baits. Windham had defended them. But 
if they had been illegal, authority was very weak to en- 
counter them. The municipality had four watchmen and 
three constables to keep the peace. The peace was verj- 
often broken — and so were the lamps. A burgess brought 
home his bride ; and marrow-bones and cleavers rent the 
* George III. was dead to the ezt^nal worlds . 



48B OKGE UPON A TDfS. 

air till midnight came and the watcbman bad a drunken 
delinqnent in the cage. iLcebUer beat his wife, — and the 
clangour of pota and tha jeBa of women frighted the street 
from its propriety — the offender was rongh-mn&icked. An 
informer — a name in those dajra as odious as a tax-gatherer 
— ^was hunted through the aUeja, and tarred aod feathered. 
Bread riots were not vacommon, and ginai, then, was the 
terror of the bakers. The good people, with the most 
benevolent intentions widch nobodj could Name, set about 
augmenting the inflictionB of scarcity in the true old ^shion. 
The moment that hig^ prices of breed aniyed, we were 
accustomed to take to a gratuitous distribution of bretd : 
— we establidxed soup kitchens and rice ooppers, that a fev 
clamorous mouths might be fed, at the expense of a stil. 
higher increase upon prices, to be paid by the many wk* 
were not clamorous. We did upon a small scale what tbe 
government of Paris does upon a large scale. I don't know 
how we managed to live through all these troubles of higii 
prices, and excessive taxes — the exciseman poking his ncKe 
into every shop — and Napoleon at Boulogne, ready to 
harry the ' nation of shopkeepers.' But we did get on, and 
were merry nevettheless ; and ' the tight little island ' wv 
encored at every public dinner; and there were whi»*. 
clubs and assemblies, as if there were no want and no fear 
in the land. About these assemblies, I have a grievance d 
which I must speak fiiUy. 

The Country-Dance is obsolete, as obsolete as the 
dancing costume of the last century. I shall never forget 
the night when the seeds of one of the great revolutions of 
these times were sown in our assembly-room. Thirty 
couples stood up for the accustomed country-dance. Louist 
W. had to call, and I was her delighted partner. Hit 
eager hands were clapped, the discordant strings wen: 
screwing up into tune, and we were debating with tit 
venerable leader of our band the relative merits of • Th- 
Honeymoon* and * Speed the Plough.* With the mcwt 
correct taste, Louisa had decided for 'right and left/ h 
preference to Ma poussette,' — we were ready* At that 



T: 


. c 


\ • 


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rr^MS OF THE OBSOLETE. 487 

instant a liandsome officer of diBgoons — the' coxcomb— 
advanced to Lonisa, and in the most hnmble tone — the 
puppy — ^ventured to recommend a quadrille. Louisa's eyes 
consulted mine, and I boldly consulted th^ leader. I knew 
the range of his acquirements, and I -was, safe ; — we went 
down witli * The Honeymoon ;' but the evil was rooted. 

Within a fortnight there was a special meeting of the 
subscribers to our assembly-room to discuss an important 
question. It was convened at the particular desire of a 
lady of fashion, so called, who had become a temporary 
resident amongst us. I knew there was mischief brooding, 
and, as I was petulant, I stayed away. Poor Kit, the 
roaster of our band, and his faithful followers, were dis- 
missed after thirty years* duteous service ; and four fiddlers, 
from Paine's, I think they said, came from London by the 
coach — fine powdered fellows in silk stockings; but no 
more to compare with Kit's crew for strength and untiring 
execution than a Jew's harp to a hand-organ. But they 
were wonderfully applauded; and Louisa, seeing that I 
would not sanction them, recommended me to take lessons. 
I would as soon have learned to speak High Butch. 

From that time I was left to solitude, when the ball-room 
was lighted up with twenty candles in tin sqonoes. I sat 
at home, and mused mournfully; and thus I mused: 
^ Departed visions of the dear country-danoes of my boy- 
hood, to what foreign land are ye fled ? Are ye gone to 
thrust out waltzes from Germany, or fandangos from Spain 
— are ye departed to unnationalise other feet, as the detest- 
able quadrilles have corrupted ours? Ah, no — ye have not 
the subtlety of your hateful rival — like your unhappy 
countrymen, ye must give place to the oudcoo tribe who 
drive you from your nests. It is only ten years since I 
learned to dance at school, and my knowledge has become 
obsolete. To outlive one's old friends is the most painful 
feeling in earth's pilgrimage — and I have done this long 
before I am grown gray. ** The Jolly Young Waterman," 
and ** Money Musk," and " The Devil among the Tailors," 
and *♦ Drops of Brandy," and *' Off She Goes," and *' Mother 



488 OirCE UPON A TOfE. 

Casey/' and *< Molly put the Kettle on,*' and <* Lady Moat- 
gomery/' are with the things before the flood — and I wiU 
weep for them. But I will never abandon my early hiik 
for " La Poule," or ** L'Bt^," or— Psha ! I hate myself for 
knowing even tljiese execrable names. I will practise, eves 
with my own chairs, '' up the middle and down again, swing 
comers, hands four, and right and left," till the gout over- 
takes me — but I will never prostitute myself to '^ dos-i-dos, 
chassee en avant, balancer, toumer les dames," or "chaiue- 
Anglaise," — no, not if I could secure myself an exemptioa 
from crutches till my eightieth winter. I have too modi 
patriotism in my blood. But I may live to see a reacdoa 
— quadrilles may descend to the kitchen; — and so *'Sir 
Boger de Coverley '' may again find his true place in the 
drawing-room.' 

It may seem a strange transition from Balls to Beggvj^ 
but we never passed into the Town Hall, our fpreat As- 
sembly-room, without looking upon the Stocks, wfaic^ 
seemed a part of the grandeur of that edifice* So, also, 
.stood the Stocks at the east entrance of St. George's Chapel 
and might appear to the pro&ne a part of its ceremonial— 
riore for show than use. I believe the Town Stocks w&n 
.arely employed in my time. The Pillory had hung up vt 
the Market House untouched for half a century. We had, 
on the whole, a mild administration of the laws. Vagrantsi 
if very rude and dirty, were threatened with the Stocks, 
and then passed on. The Stocks were an item of the 
obsolete in my native town. It was not so in other parishea. 
where the Stocks were occasionally useful, as in the time 
of Canning's knife-grinder. 

* Story, God bl«s you, I hare noiw to tell, sir I 
Only last night, a drinking at the Chequers, 
Justice Oldmixon set me in the parish 
Stocks for a vagrant.' 

To this ingenious machine were the labonreni of Ebgland 
once doomed, if they dared to venture out of their own 
parish, even when in their own parish they, the natirek. 
had eaten up all the parish could give tliem. Other 



ITHMS OF THE OBSOLETE. 48^ 

liQinane devices to prevent the desire for wandering, and to 
reconcile them to starvation at home, were derived £rom 
the good old times of branding and whipping. By degrees, 
however, these exertions to prevent the labourers wander- 
ing were in great part superseded by the merciful consider- 
ation of the old poor-law functionaries, who employed a 
great portion of their time, and a larger portion of the 
publio money, in carrying the labourers about from one end 
of the. kingdom to the othen In this gentle manner we — a 
courtly race — dealt with our Bogues and Vagabonds. 
There was perpetually a nice journey for the constable to 
pass a pauper to his settlement, and so the Stocks became 
obsolete. I believe the Stocks of my ancient parish are 
rooted up. I think I missed them lately, when I looked 
upon the changed haunts. * I went to the place of my birth, 
and I said. The friends of my childhood, where are they ?' 

We had a very social place of confinement, -which was 
doubtless more agreeable than the Stocks, called a * Cage.' 
It was not deemed any great disgrace to be put in the 
Cage. The Jail was a serious thing, which looked like 
the law being in earnest. But the Cage was a small 
room with a barred window looking into the street; 
and there the • pleasantest conversation went on between 
the lively people within, and their friends outside. The 
birds of the Cage soon fluttered again in the free air — for 
they were petty delinquents, such as those whom women 
Bwore their lives against. The Jail Was for the higher 
offenders — the starving beggar who stole a penny loaf, or 
the maid-of-all-work whose box was searched for her 
mistress's thimble. For these there was the terror of the 
Quarter Sessions. That, indeed, was a solemn affair 4 
and sometimes there were terrible punishments in store for 
the convicted. A public Whipping at the Cart's Tail was 
the mode in which Justice now and then proclaimed that 
she did not sleep. It was a brutal spectacle. I think it 
generally provoked a great deal of hissing when the jailer 
(for he was the executioner) struck hard, and some mirth 
^w^hen he touched the culprit's back lightly« I suppose the 



490 ONCB UPON A TIME. 

Cart's Tail is gone to x«8t» with «ke Stoeks and the Pilkiy, 
Our system of seoondaiy punishments may be an imptffect 
one; but it is a vast improvement upon the disgusting 
exhibitions which were not unoommon forty years ago. 

My boyish aoquaintance with the oomse of jostioe in our 
Borough gave me a very insufioisnt notion of the. feazfsl 
things that we^e going on then u^ the land, under the 
highest sanotion of the law. I fcseiw that the King, on 
certain days, went to London to receive 'the Becoider'i 
Beportj' but I had a veiy vague notion of what that aesat 
People talked then of hanging as a thing of coimse* and 
absolutely necessary for the good of society. I h««e a dia 
recollection of a man who had been in our psisgn \)&a^ 
hanged at Beading; and of being told that our jailer i 
daughter had been to see the execution, and to teoeiva th» 
b^efit of the dead man's warm hand being passed over hsr 
throat for the cure of a wen* Such stories, tme or not 
came over the childish ear with few terrom. For the child, 
the abstract idea of death has no fears ; and ' sad tales best 
for winter ' are pleasurable around the wann hearth. I 
heard many such tales. I knew of haunted houses. I 
knew where a witch lived; and why the hora^-sboe wm 
nailed over the cottagedoor. But I bad never been Jbce ts 
face with the horrible. I was about ten years old, when s 
servant with a led pony came to fetch m^ from sohooL We 
had to cross Hounslow Heath by thQ Staines Boad. Be 
proposed to show me something I should like^ to see. 
Oiacious Heaven ! Close by a cl\imp of firs was « gibbet, 
on which two bodies hung in chains. The crow parched 
on a skull. The rags fluttered, and the irons rattled, is 
the breeze. My heart sickened- The . first day of mj 
holidays brought no pleasure. It perhaps brought s^nse 
wisdom. My hatred of the atrocious criminal laws of those 
times was fixed for life. Some years later I was present »t 
a trial when a culprit, about to be sentenced, was tokl 
* kneel down, and pray your Clergy.' The solemn mookerr ! 
And these relics of barbarism are gone—The Gibbet, and 
|he Neck- Verse, 



TTElfS OF THE OBSOLETE. 491 

Bnt I miist get away from tbeee pamfiil remembrances, 
to look at mj borough, and its dignitariea, under more 
pleasurable aspects. The mayor's feast. There really 
was nothing vulgarly ostentatious or contemptible in the 
mayor's feast — no gilt ooaoh, no tawdry chariots, no men 
in armour. There was no interruption to the daily business 
of life. The chief magistrate gave a good English dinner 
in his hall, and he asked the best people he could find 
amongst his neighbours. Patriotic toasts were drunk ; and 
old English glees send catches, recommending ' wine, rosy 
wine '—and vowing, * well turn the night into the day,' 
were enthusiastically applauded. These exhortations to 
good feUowship were scarcely necessary ; but they were 
pleasant. With the exception of the two members for the 
borough, who always said the same things from year to year, 
the company were not disturbed by any oratory. They 
went on carousing till midnight ; and no one rose to depart 
except one alderman, who had filled his pocket with peaches, 
and was anxious to present them to his helpmate. The 
mayor^s feast is gone. 

That peach-abstracting alderman, I recollect distinctly, 
kad very large pockets, with great flaps, on the outside of 
his coat. He was not a genteel alderman ; and his costume 
-was unvaiying. Most others, in those "times, had best 
clothes, and everyday clothes. Let me endeavour to jot 
down a few items of the obsolete costumes of my town. 

I have a very obscure remembrance of two cocked-hats. 
Of course I do not include the beadle's cocked-hat— may it 
live a thousand years I Under the cocked-hat tvas neces- 
sarily the wig I The cocked-hat and wig generally came 
etit in the afternoon. In the morning a red cap covered 
the bald pate. Down to comparatively recent times there 
-was a lady — but she was a foreigner — who walked abroad 
-with ber powdered tcupet under her silken caleche. The 
cocked-hat soon passed out of my view, except in one re« 
ZEiarkable instance. 

It was at the beginning of the century that a notable 
personage was to be daily gazed at amongst the sights of 



492 . ONCE UPON A TIME. 

Windflor. One of my earliest reoollectioiis is of ^m 
singular man« I see him now, as he appeared to mj 
childish ouriosity, mysteriously creeping by the first light 
of a winter's morning through the great gate of the lower 
ward of the castle into the narrow back streets of the town. 
He then constantly wore a large cloak, called a roqn^anie, 
beneath which appeared a pair of thih legs encased i& 
dirty silk stockings. If the morning was wet, his eink 
was not his only protection from the weather. He had a 
formidable umbrella; and, what was most wonderfnl, be 
stalked along upon pattens. Often have I watched him 
creeping out of his solitary house in the castle, and most 
carefully locking doors behind him, as he went on hsi 
morning errands. There he lived, in one of the houms o£ 
the Military Knights, then called Poor Knights, to whiok 
body he belonged : it was the house next to the governor's. 
No human being, it was imagined, had for scmie yean 
entered that house except its eccentric possessor. The 
wise man, he held, was his own best assistant; and so be 
dispensed with all domestic service. In the morning, then, 
he duly went forth to make his frugal purchases for tbe 
day— a £aggot, a candle, a small loaf, perhaps a horring. 
All luxuries, whether of meat, or tea, or sugar, or batter, 
were renounced. He had objects to be attained, and for 
whose attainment he laboured for years, which reqniied 
money* His income in money, derived from his offiee^ 
besides his house, was about sixty pounds. Beguiar 
attendance upon the service of St. George's Chapel was 
his duty ; and the long blue mantle which the Poor 
Knights wore covered the fiEided finery beneath, as well as 
the roquelaure which hid the loaf and the farthing candle. 
But when the offices of the morning had been performed, 
and the sun, perchance, shone brightly, out came another 
ci'eature. Wherever crowds were assembled, — ^wherever 
royalty was to be looked upon, and the sounds of militaiy 
music summoned the fair ones of Windsor and Eton 1x> tl^ 
gay parade, — ^there was Sir John Dinely. The roquelaure 
was cast aside, and then were disclosed the treasures which 



ITEMS OF THE OBSOLETE. 493 

it concealed — the embroidered coat, the silk-flowered 

waistcoat, the. nether garments of faded velvet, carefully 

meeting the dirty silk stockings, which terminated in the 

half-polished shoe surmounted by the dingy silver .buckle. 

The old wig, on great occasions, was newly powdered, and 

the best cocked-hat was brought forth with a tarnished 

lace edging* There walked, then, on Windsor Terrace, at 

the beginning of the nineteenth century, one who might 

have sat for the costume of the days of George II. All 

other days were to him as nothing. He had dreams of 

ancient genealogies; and of alliances still subsisting 

.between himself and the first families of the land ; and of 

jnanaions described in Nash's ' History of Worcestershire,' 

with marble halls and * superb gates ;' and of possessions 

that ought to be his own ; which would place him upon an 

equality with the noblest and the wealthiest. A little 

money to be expended in law proceedings was to make 

these dreams realities. That money was to be obtained 

through a wife. To secure for himself a wife was the 

business of his existence; to display himself properly 

where women ' most do congregate ' was the object of his 

savings; to be constantly in the public eye was his glory 

and his hope. The man had not a particle of levity 

in these proceedings. His face had a grave and intellectual 

ofaaracter; his deportment was staid and dignified. He 

bad a wonderful discrimination in avoiding the tittering 

girls with whose feces he was familiar. But perchance 

some buxom matron, or timid maiden who had seen him 

for the. first time, gazed upon the apparition with surprise 

and curiosity : he approached. With the air of one bred 

in courts, he made his most profound bow ; and taking 

a printed paper from his pocket, reverently presented his 

Advertisement * For a Wife/ and then withdrew.* 

Was this man mad ? He had a monomania oortainly i 
but in other matters he was the shrewdofit man 1 rvpr 
knew. He was reserved and sarcastic to most personi?. - 

♦ See Portrait, p. 388. 



404 ONOB TJPOM A TME. 

for too freqnenHy was he insulted ; but to those who ireie 
kind to him he displayed no eommon mind. Mjduldiah 
curiosity about this singular personage became, as I grew 
older, mixed with a respectful and higher intfirest He 
was unfortunate. His misfortunes were inscribed in no 
less terribis a page than that book over which maaj a bqj 
has wept and trembled — the Newgate CalendaE. In one of 
these Tolumes, I had read that, oa the 17th of JaoinsiT, 
1741, a dismal tragedy had occurred at BristoL neR 
were two brothers who had become enemies on aoconnt d 
the entail of property. The elder was Sir John JAadj 
Goodyere, baronet ; the younger, Samuel Dinely Groodyen. 
a captain in the na^y, commanding the ' Baby ' ship of wie. 
The two brothers had long ceased to meet ; but a comniaB 
friend, at the request of the younger, brought them 
together. They dined at his house; ihey eschangsi 
professions of brotherly love. When they separatad, the 
baronet had to pass alone over College Green, at Bnslol. 
He was encountered by six sailors, with the eoptun of the 
' Buby * at their head. He was seieed, gagged, carried to a 
boat, and thence to the ship — and he was ^strangled. Hie 
vengeance of the law was speedy. The vessel was d&> 
tained upon suspicion ; the crime was fully proved ; and 
the inhuman brother and two of his confdderatea wen 
hanged within two months. The Sir John Dinely cf 
Windsor was the son of the murderer. That l^e poor mas 
was perfectly familiar with all the circumstanoee of this 
tragedy, there can be no doubt ; and I have often thon^ 
that, shut up in his lonely house, with the honrihk 
reooUections of the past lingering about him, it wh 
wonderful that he was not altogether mad. The familj 
estates which might have come to Captain Goodyei^ weie 
most probably forfeited to the Crown. The poor advertiser 
for a wife alludes to this circumstance in one of bis bilk: 
— * Pray, my young charmers, give me a fiiir hearing ; do 
not let your avaricious guardians unjustly fright yon viti 
a false account of a forfeiture^ But the estates were not to 
be recovered ; and the penalty for the crime in the second 



rriaiS 6F THE OBSOLETE. 495 

generatk)!! was mitigated, I hope, bj the innocent delusions 
by which the son of the guilty brother was buoyed up, even 
to hi* dying hour. Sir John Dinely was one morning 
missing frotti his due attendance upon the service of 
8i George's €hapel. His door was broken open. His 
house was without furniture except a table and a chair ot 
two. The passage by which it was entered was a receptacle 
for ooals. The sittitig-room was strewed with printing- 
types — for he used to print his own bills after the rudest 
&shion ; in a small room beyond was stretched the poor 
man upon a pallet-bed. He had studied physic ; and he 
had presoribed for hixaself not injudiciously, having a few 
medicines always at hand. He lingered a few days, and 
then— dU the dl^eam was over. 

But ^toB is an episode. Pattens ? Yes, my poor old 
bttronet wore pattens, — but certainly they formed no part 
of othet male costtime. Yet the patten was not an 
obsolete thing then. How often in the gray morning have 
I been awoke by Idie clink of the patten upon the pavement ! 
It told of a wet day ; and I turned again to my pOlow. 
The charwoman going to her work — the milkwoman fresh 
irom the fields — the ^early housewife intent upon marketings 
— oil wore pattens. Young ladies going to school wore 
pattens — and ran races in pattens. 

* The patteu now sapports each frugal dame. 
Which from the blue-eyed Patty takee the name.* 

I doubt Gay's etymology ; but I have no doubt of the 
virtues of the patten. With the riding-hood and the patten 
liow independent was the lady, without dragging about the 
^rreat clumsy umbrella of oilskin that belonged to those 
days ! The patten is gone, and so is the riding-hood. We 
oannot tell the story now of * Little Red Riding-hood ' 
without a glossarial note. What does a child now under- 
stand by * One, two, buckle my shoe ?' The age of shoe- 
bncklea, as everybody knows, |Went out when the French 
Revolution was consummated by the appearance of shoe- 
strings at Versailles. Yet I have seen shoe-buckles. Sue^ 



496 ONCE UPON A TDflS, ' 

pmctioal anachronimns only oocnr in country towoa. The 
queue long survived the oocked-hat and the buckle. * Play 
out the play. I have much to say on behalf of that ' queue. 

Thirty years ago there were only two queuea extant in 
my town. I sighed, then, as I thought how many of mj 
old queue*bearing friends, who used to smile when 1, 
wanton rogue, climbed up their chairs and reverently laid 
their queues upon their powdered shoulders, how manj 
had passed into ^the oblivious grave I Even now, I aome- 
times see their venerable shades in my day-dreams, vitli 
their ample rouleaus of curls around their temples, and 
their neatly twisted queues behind their backa. Ther 
passed away, and were succeeded by a cropped and degie- 
nerate race. 

I just remember the ' decline and fjedl ' of the empire U 
queues. Faithful companions, duteous followers, ye sae- 
cumbed to the tyranny of the greatest of Tories. The fitai 
tax upon hair-powder exterminated you. Slowly and 
sadly did ye decay ; and one by one did ye depart &omtk 
cares of this transitory life ! Frail and innocent beingB, jt 
were untimely plucked, and cut off from your abidii^-place 
and your inheritance ! In a few short years I saw ye 
almost all yield to the avarice of those who should have 
cherished you. They cast you off in the hollownesB of their 
friendBhip ; and they went shorn into the world, bleak. 
honourless, comfortless, qneueless. 

I could never entirely tolerate the volunteer nrn^wi? ^ ; i^ 
it completed the destruction of the persecuted queued 
There was only one officer in our corps, of glorious memorr. 
who had the magnanimity to bear his queue without « 
blush. Methought it gave him the look of those who knev 
* how fields were won.' But there was a corporal who did 
not partake of my reverential feelings. As the veteru 
marched in advance of the battalion, the misohievoa^ 
subaltern (he was a tailor) would perk the queue in iu< 
lieutenant's face. I could have brought the corporal to a 
conrt-martial ; it was flat mutiny, and unparalleled in tih- 
annals of warfare. 



, ITBMS OF THE OBSOLETE. 497 

There were four queues in my native place who survived 
the oppression of the times ; but they owed their existence 
to a rare oombination of favourable oiroumstances. They 
were trimmed and watered by an ancient professor of 
queues, who had commenced his practice not very many 
yeara after the disunion of the two illustrious occupations 
of barbery and surgery. The professor was necessary to 
the wearer of the queues ; and the four queues were a quiet 
and obedient family, that he loved with a complete and 
nnmingled devotion. He was not a vulgar and everyday 
professor. He had saved a small fortune in the happier 
times of curls and toupets, and he despised the ordinary 
clients of the later days of unpowdered pertness. He 
received an annual guinea from each of his queue-bearers ; 
and he resigned himself exclusively to the cultivation of 
this his small estate in tail. The hour of his morning visit 
-was an hour of happiness : it was a full hour. It was his to 
spread the flowing hair over the ample shoulders ; to smooth 
out the broad black ribbon, which he carefully renewed 
ivben its lustre was sullied; to gather up the scattered 
locks into a solid girth of leather ; and then to bind them 
fast roundly and taperingly, till his power should again give 
them a temporary freedom. Poor Fuller ! he sang • Time 
has not thinned,' with an exquisite tremulousness ; and he 
told the scandal of his profession with a sly and solemn air, 
virhich at once bespoke his discretion and his sincerity. He 
loved his queue-bearers alike, and he left to each of them a 
ring. 

Top-boots. I am by no means sure that top-boots are 
obsolete in my native town. Egalit^ Orleans and the 
Prince of Wales are painted in top-boots; and the tops 
lasted till Wellingtons and trousers drove them out. Why 
should I particularise the top-boot wearers? Yet I must 
say that I never saw the Queen*s apothecary in the streets 
— he never rode— without his top-boots and spenser. It 
was a sober costume, and grave burgesses wore them, unless 
they were soberer stOl in long drab gaiters. The top-boots 
of those days were not the smart, white-topped boots that 

2 K 



498 OKGB UPON A TIME. 

one now aeee at tlie linnting 'meet.' They were of a 
leepectoble brown, vaiying from the colour of ochie to that 
of liqoorioe. Before they were extinct they bad a laoe d 
riTaliy to nm with the HeflBians. These indeed were juntr 
things. How bright was their polish ! how splendid wsk 
their tiitmolfl I And then the spur on the heel ! That spur 
had nothing to do with horses. It was, however, a dangeroife 
thing for a stranger civilian to wear that spur at Windsor. 
He stalked into St. George s ChapeL No matter what 
the choristers were chanting — ^in an instant the scpnr ww 
detected ; and the distracted man, as he left the nave, after 
a little gaxing at the painted windows, was snirroanded hr 
a bevy of white sarplices demanding spnr-money. Tbe 
custom was as old as the days of James L : ' Be sore ycm 
silver Bopan clog your heels, and then the boys will swam 
about you like so many white butterflies ; when yon, in tke 
open quire, shall draw forth a perfumed embroidered pone, 
and quoit silver into the boys' hands.** Has the cusIob 
gone out as well as the spurs ? The law, perlu^pa, is iwc 
dead, and may revive when men shall resume diatinefciQBfi 
in dress, and not hide their legs in trews, and their bodiee 
in sacks. I hope they will not revive. The distincdoB* 
were too often false — and it is as well they are gone. 

There was no distinction in those days between froA- 
coats and dress-coats. The morning coat and the eveninc 
were the same. But for the evening party, the nnspeakalae 
gentility of the knee-breeches, and the silk stocking ! Th^ 
varieties, too, of that portion of the dress. The white 
kerseymere, and the white stocking ; the black, and the 
black. Then young men were really dressed, and were to 
for ladies* society. I have said something of AsaemUies. 
They were the great occasions for display of the tight pooif 
and the spotless hose. But they did not come often. That 
were no improvised dances on the carpet in thoee timc& 
There was the genteel tea-party ; when the half-pay ookjoei 
ordered a shilling's worth of biscuits, and a quarter of a 

• Dekker : ' GoU's Hornbook,' c 4. 



ITEMS OF THE OBSOLETE. 499 

pound of sixteen shilling hyson. There was the vnlgar tea 
and supper, at which there was much mirth, and some 
gambling at * speculation ' and * commerce.' At neither was 
there mnsic ; except some unhappy young lady, just come 
out, was asked by Mamma to play * The BatUe of Prague.' 
Oh that • Battle of Prague !' The * cries of the wounded,' 
expressed by the harpsichord; were nothing to the groans 
of the listeners to its discordance. , The singing too, — but 
why should I quarrel with that, when I recollect ' Ye banks 
and braes of bonnie Doon,' which brought tears into my 
eyes, and love into my heart ? 

I remember a good deal of foolery in those days ; with 
much cordiality. We were not made unsocial by pretences 
to wisdom. We might not be very wise. I am sure we 
Tirere not. We had a good deal of old superstition lingering 
about us. We looked rather pale when we saw a winding- 
sheet in the candle. We did not know that a time would 
come when the old candles would be obsolete, and wicks 
-would be made that would weave no winding-sheets. 
When a coal flew out of the fire, we examined whether it 
^were a purse or a cofBn. We made no talk of gas in the 
coal, for we knew nothing about it. We showed each other 
the gifts on our nails ; and it was pretty to look in the tea- 
cup and see by the grounds that a stranger was coming, — 

at which Emily blushed. After supper we broke the 

znerry-thought, and had some sixteenth-century joke — 
softened, of course-^which went vdth the mystioftl bone's 
xiame. I believe I have heard a very sensible matron con- 
-fidingly observe, at a christening dinner, that the dear little 
thing was thriving on its bit of roast pig. All this is gone, 
no doubt. I am not sure that we are wiser or better now. 
I almost believe that the polite ladies who mentioned ^ Old 
Scratch,' or * Old Harry,' without emotion, were not bad 
Christians after all. 

I think the dumb-waiter may be counted amongst our 
obBolete items. It belonged to a time when there were 
fe-wer domestic servants, who now represent the existence 
of many artificial wants. The dumb-waiter was a conve- 

2k2 



500 ONCB UPOK A TIKE. 

nient piece of fdmiture. The bnsbttiid could fxoQi up ike 
wife's glass of ale, and hand the cruets, without anj abate- 
ment of dignity, or any outstretching of the arm. I deare 
enough to the obsolete to believe that our present peipetoal 
* waiting ' is the bane of modem sociability. I want to hetp 
my fair neighbour to wine, and I resent the intnision of 
the footman. And yet I must bear with this mal-adi&ini- 
stration to my dinner wants — for if I should come back tt 
the old times, I should come back to some mattera for whid 
the age is too ' picked.' I should come back — not perhaps 
to the family in the sanded kitchen — ^hut to the parlour ks 
the week-day, and to the drawing-room for Sundays. I 
should not expect wine as a matter of eveiy-day ocoorrenoe. 
I shoidd have the ' one solid dish ' for ' the 'week-daVi 
meal,' and the ' added pudding ' for * the Lord's.' I shooM 
have mince-pies and beef at Chnstmas, as of old ; hut I 
might be compelled to eat fdrmety on Midlent Sunday, ai^ 
my pancakes would be limited to Shrove Tuesday, t& 
be tossed in the pan with ceremonies that are quite as ve£ 
obsolete. It might be better if society had not grown too 
luxurious in some of these matters. But it is no part of mj 
creed to go back : and so we must deal with progreas as«e 
find it. 

. The manners and material things of the dining-room ai^ 
capricious. Let us get into the kitchen. 

Item : The Tinder-box. 

W^hen I was young, the process of obtaining fire, is 
every house in England, with few exceptions, was » 
rude, as laborious, and as uncertain, as the efibrt of tb 
Indian to produce a flame by the friction of two dry sticks 

The night-lamp and the rushlight irere for the oompan- 
tively luxurious. In. the bedrooms of the cottager, tl» 
artisan, and the small tradesman, the infant at its mother's 
side too often awoke, like Milton's Nightingale, *' darkling, 
but that nocturnal note was something difierent fha 
« harmonious numbers.' The mother was soon on her feet . 
the friendly tinder-box was duly sought. Click, dick, 
click ; not a spark tells upon the sullen blackneas. Mon: 



ITEMS OF THE OBSOLETE. &01 

rapidly does the flint ply the sympathetio steel. The room 
is bright with the radiant shower. Bnt the child, familiar 
enough with the operation, is impatient at its tediousness, 
and shouts till the mother is frantic. At length one lucky 
Gfpark does its office — the tinder is alight. Now for the 
natch. It will not bum. A gentle breath is wafted into 
the murky box ; the face that leans over the tinder is in a 
glow. Another match, and another, and another. They 
are 'all damp. The toil-worn father ' swears a prayer or 
two;' the baby is inexorable; and the misery is only 
ended when the good man has gone to the street door, and 
after long shivering, has obtained a light from the watch- 
man. 

The tinder-box and the steel had nothing peculiar. The 
tinman made the one as he made the saucepan, with hammer 
and shears ; the other was forged at the great metal factories 
of Sheffield and Birmingham; and happy was it for the 
purchaser if it were something better than a rude piece of 
iron, very uncomfortable to gprasp. The nearest chalk- 
quarry supplied the flint. The domestic manufacture of 
the tinder was a serious affair. At due seasons, and very 
often if the premises were damp, a stifling smell rose from 
the kitchen, which to those who were not intimate with the 
process, suggested doubts whether the house were not on 
fire. The best linen rag was periodicaUy burnt, and its 
ashes deposited in the tinman's box, pressed down with a 
close-fitting lid, upon which the flint and steel reposed. 
The match was chiefly an article of itinerant traffic. The 
chandler's shop was almost ashamed of it. The mendicant 
-was the universal match-seller. The girl who led the 
blind be^ar had invariably a bundle of matches. In the 
day they were vendors of matches — in the evening manu- 
facturers. On the floor of the hovel sit two or three squalid 
children, splitting deal with a common knife. The matron 
is watching a pipkin upon a slow fire. The fames which 
it gives forth are blinding as the brimstone is liquefying, 
liittle bundles of split deal are ready to be dipped, three or 
four at a time. When the pennyworth of brimstone is used 



502 OKGE UPON A TIMS. 

up, when the capital is exhausted, the night*8 labour is 
over. In the summer, the manufsbcture is snspoided, or 
conducted upon fraudulent principles. Fire is then need- 
less ; so delusive matches must be produced — ^wet splints 
dipped in powdered sulphur. They will never bom, hat 
they will do to sell to the unwary maid-of-all-work. 

About twenty years ago chemistry discovered that the 
tinder-box might be abolished. But chemistry set about 
its fanction with especial reference to the wants and the 
means of the rich few. In the same way the fbnst printed 
books were designed to have a great resemblance to raanii- 
scripts, and those of the wealthy class were alone looked 
to as the purchasers of the skilful imitations. The fint 
chemical light-producer was a complex and omatn^itil 
casket, sold at a guinea. In a year or so there were prettr 
portable cases of a phial and matches, which enthnsiastie 
young housekeepers regarded as the cheapest of all treasures 
at five shillings. By-and-by the light-box was sold as knr 
as a shilling. The fire revolution was slowly approaehiDg. 
The old dynasty of the tinder-box maintained its predomi- 
nance for a short while in kitchen and garret, infann-hoiiae 
and cottage. At length some bold adventurer saw that the 
new chemical discovery might be employed for the produc- 
tion of a large article of trade — ^that matches* in themselvv 
the vehicles of fire without aid of spark and tinder, miglit 
be manufactured upon the feictoxy system — that the hnmblcsi 
in the land might have a new and indispensable comfort ai 
the very lowest rate of cheapness. \\ hen chemislTj sav 
that phosphorus, having an a£Bjiity for oxygen at the 
lowest temperature, would ignite upon slight friction, — and. 
so ignited, would ignite sulphur, which required a muc^ 
higher temperature to become inflammable, thus makiiur 
the phosphorus do the work of the old tinder with £ar 
greater certainty ; or when chemistry found that chlorate 
of potash, by slight friction, might be exploded so as to 
produce combustion — a blessing was bestowed upon soeictr 
that can scarcely be measured by those who have had m 
former knowledge of the miseries and privations of tha 



ITBKS OF THE OBSOLETE. 503 

tinder-box. The penny box of Lnoifera, or Congreves, or 
bj whatever name called, is a real triumph of science, and 
an advance in civilisation. 
Item : the Pewter Plate. 

In Ghop-honses in the City the pewter plate is a luxury. 
In 1512, the Earl and Countess of Northumberland used 
wooden trenchers, except when pewter plates were 'an 
ornamental addition to their table on great holidays.' * I 
remember pewter plates in many kitchens, ranged in 
shining rows. They were a great nuisance in my father's 
kitchen, for a day in each week was devoted to their 
scouring, and they were never used. I think they would 
Lave been scoured out of existence, had not a fire luckily 
taken place, and melted them all. But tiie dinner-service 
of Delft was not then a cheap thing. The yellow-white 
plate had not then been superseded by the well-known 
willow pattern, which is now common in every cottage. 
>Vhat a blessing Wedgwood was to his country I Let any 
housewife now consider what her existence would be 
without her crockery. I will not grieve over the pewter, 
plate. 

Item : the Jack and Weight. 

Did any of the present generation ever see a great 
leaden or iron weight slowly travelling down the outer 
wall of a house— perhaps with a pear-tree blossoming by 
its side? That weight was the power that moved the 
jack, |that moved the chain, that moved the spit, that 
xuoved the sirloin, within. It was always travelling on a 
Sunday. The smoke-jack of aristocratic houses gave no 
outward demonstration of its work. The common jack 
was for the plebeians. But there was dignity in that 
symbol of what was going on in the kitchen. It said that 
the joint had not been ignobly sent to the bakehouse. It 
said something, too, of the great mechanical capabilities of 
a scientific age. The age of turnspits was passed. But lo ! 
xnecbanism now applies itself to the di£fusion of comfort ; 

* ' Northamberland Household Book,' pre&ce, p. xr« 



504 OKCS UPON A TIME. 

and a little instrument, called a bottle-jack, turns tlie great 
unwieldy monster, with its wheels, and its chain, and its 
fly, and its weight travelling down the wall, out of every 
kitchen. 

Item : the Bellows. 

* Gently stir, and blow the fire. 
Lay the mutton down to roAst,' 

What a machine was the bellows ! It was always at woriL 
You heard it in the morning, as you were dressing. You 
heard it when the fire was low, and the dinner-hour was at 
hand. Yon heard it, most especially, in the dim twilight 
hour, when the kettle was on the hob, and Susan had pit 
on her dean apron, and drowsily puffed, and gazed iotc 
the grate, as the coals began to glow beneath the music d 
her bellows. It was not an occasional friend, but it w 
ever a constant companion to the fender <nx which Sosac 
rested her worsted-stockinged feet. What innovatioBs 
have driven out the bellows ? In those days there w» a 
bundle of green sticks called a kindler, which no poirer bet 
that of the bellows could make bum. There were so 
boilers then which yield warm water without any trouble. 
Everything, too, in the days of the bellows, was to be 
forced to the boiling-point in the rude cookery. The notioc 
of cookery excluded any of those foreign devices whic^ 
required a slow heat. But very few higher things were 
then left to nature. No process could be perfect without 
perpetual interference with ordinary physical powers. 
There was no ' Icusaez fairs ' in the cabinet ; and why in tb€ 
kitchen ? The bellows was an emblem of the State, thai 
was always making a great noise to stimulate society to the 
white heat of prosperity. But the State, like the bellows, 
sometimes put out the fire ; and the fire always biimt dullr 
after the stimulus. 

Item : the Sand-box. 

Did Goldsmith see ' the nicely sanded floor ' in England ? 
At the end of the seventeenth century it was not commcoi 
in the midland counties. Henry Teonge, who came froa 



TTCMS OF TEE OTBOLETE. 505 

WarwickBhire, thiu writes in Yum Diajt, about Deal : ' The 
other thing which was stiange to me was, that in all plar>e0 
else wherever I yet was, the chiefeKt care of the neat 
housewife was to keep the rooms clean from all manner of 
dueti bj sweeping, washing, and rabbing tbem. But hc're, 
clean contrary; for having finst swept them cleaa^ they 
then strew them all over with sand, yea, their rery best 
chambers.'* I never saw the sanded floor in our 'bent 
chambers/ — ^for then the carpet luxury had crept in. But 
the delight of the presiding goddess of the kitchen in her 
sanded paradise ! \Vhen the sand first was strewed it wm 
not very agreeable — for the sandman, who dnly trarellrMl 
-with his cart from hoase to house, sr^metimes deliver^'il it 
rather wet. Bnt it tea* strewed — and the bellows-qnick^'ned 
fire soon dried it. Day by day it was sift^^, whf;n the 
cooking toils were over. And then, what lady's bower 
could be so perfect ! The shutters were cl^ jsod ; the 
twinkling candle was lighted ; the pewter and the brans 
glistened; the cat purred; the thr^d -paper was brought 
ont ; and the tidy lass in the stuff gown, who thought 
her wages of six pounds * riches fineless,* was as happy — 1 
hope she was happier — than the modem • professed cook,* 
who stipulates for twenty-five pounds a year and a kitchen- 
maid, and puts on her silk gown when the dessert is 
gone in. 

I think there was not much reading in that * niorly- 
sanded' kitchen, although books were accessible. The 
honest occupant had her own favourite books-^but thoy 
-were few, and not costly. I should like now to have a 
complete collection of such as I remember to have scon ; — 
for Time, which has made them obsolete, has given thom 
a factitious value. They were what we term •( Imp- 
Books.' Susan had a considerable ooUootion of thom 
in her box. There was *The History of Valentine and 
Orson;' — *The Seven Champions of Christendom ;*— and 
* The History of the London 'Prentice.* That London 

♦ Diary of Henry Teonge, p, 10. 



506 ONCE UPON A TIME. ' 

'Prentice, who was called *Atirelius/ went to Turkey, 
destroyed two lions that were prepared to devour him, and 
married the .Emperor's daughter. I see him now, as he is 
represented in the surprising woodont^ thrusting his hscnd 
down one lion's throat, while the other is howling on his 
hack. 'The History of the Lancashire Witches' wss 
there — real witches who rode on winds ; and tliere, too, 
* The History of Mother Shipton.' ' Jack the Giant-KiUer ' 
was undouhtedly in Susan's collection, and so * Fortanatus.' 
But the hook on which my early friend most pored was 
the ' Fortune Book,' which told young men and maids their 
fortune hy drawing cards, and also the signification of 
moles, and the interpretation of dreams. They are gone 
— aU. 

My native town had a very considerahle collection of 
Almshouses. I was fond of talking to some of the old 
women who dwelt in them; for they were cleanly and 
gossiping crones — upon the whole contented with dieir 
lot. One of them had a wonderful cat, which had out- 
lived all other cats, having heen preserved hy the kind- 
ness of a predecessor, who had also an equally kind prede- 
cessor. The cat was endowed hy an old maid with a 
shilling a week, and there was a corporate trustee. Pope's 
line was no mere imagination ; — 

< Die, and endow a college or a cat.' 

To take care of this cat with nine lives was pleasant occu- 
pation. But the greater part of the Alms-women were 
employed at the Spinning-wheel. There was a spinning 
charity in the horough, — a hequest in times before Ark- 
wright ; and it was the duty of an officer of the corpora- 
tion to buy flax, and give out flax to be spun, and pay the 
spinners week by week, and have the flax woven into 
sheets, which were distributed to poor people according 
to their deserts. What records of changes are our old 
charities ! How many obsolete bequests to compaxiies 
and corporations, which time has put aside; and which 
have, in our enlightened metropolis at least, resolved 



riTMS OF THE OBSOLETE. 507 

themnelTes into the husks of * Epiouma' sty I* I aiipiHMH^ 
my old Spmnen are gone. 

K the Spinning-wheel remains, under the pix)tt>otiou K\i 
'vested interests^' the Hour Qlass, by whiuh t)iu M 
spinner used to measure out her little day, i« gone, Tiiuo 
has broken his own emblem. But the moral oil Uio )utitt^\ 
antique hour-meter remains, in spite of eleotrio tttU»gi'«i)\h«, 
One generation succeeds another. DyuAMtioH )Uiluh^ 
Mamiers change. Be the glass turned once in m\ \\\y\\\\ 
or once in a century, the sand is always ninniiig* \\\\\^ 
and always heaping up. To-day is the child uf y untuuUt^N « 



608 OXCE UPON A TIMB. 



THE FIRST STEP INTO THE WORLD. 

In the early Spring of 1812, I stepped for a montli or two 
ont of the little world in which I had been liTin^, to come 
face to face with great public things. I had a friend who 
was the editor of two daily newspapers, a morning and sd 
evening. What a wonderful man I thought him ! I see 
him now, as I often saw him, sitting in his back office, in 
a dingy dressing-gown and imshom beard, dashing off his 
leader for the evening paper. At two o'clock he dressed 
and he kindly took the youth from the country vTith him 
for a walk through the Strand, and along the Mall in tbe 
Park. The Park was a queer unfashioned place then» witii 
a long dirty pond where Charles II. fed his dnoks — ^no 
plantations — ^no gravelled walks — ^no gas-lights. But we 
walked happily enough ; and my kind firiend told fanny 
Irish stories, and notable anecdotes of Mr. Sheridan and 
Mr. Ponsonby, with whom he boasted an intimacy. Yet 
of the real life about him he knew very little, although he 
was the editot of two daily papers. To edit a paper then 
was not very difficult. Many of the thousand complicated 
social and commercial questions, that have grown up 
during our long Peace, were then scarcely known. Pariia- 
mentary Eeform was considered a dream. If the war was 
blamed, no one could uphold Napoleon. The tone of th€ 
paper was settled by the tone of the party. There were 
very rarely expresses from great provincial towns — and 
their local intelligence was mostly left to their own journals. 
Intercourse with foreign States was almost impossible. 
except through the Government messengers; and they 
went and came at the cost of several hundred. pounds a 
ioumey. My good friend's intellect was not greatly 



riBST STEP CSTO THE WORLD. 609 

tasked. When we had taken onr walk, he had a comfort- 
able dinner ; drank a bottle of port, aometimee two ; had a 
nap in his chair nndistnrbed by the haoknej-coachea in 
the Strand; at nine o'dock, strolled down to the llonae to 
know what was going on ; wrote hia morning leader ; and 
went to bed in very decent time. 

I was to have a short training for the still easier life of 
a coimtry editor, by a month or two in ' The Gallery/ 
The first day I went down was a terrible trial of endurance. 
There was a call of the House; and itwaa aba^^lutely 
necessary for the reporters to go in before the gcmcrral 
public. There was no accommodation whatever for tli^ir 
admission, and no facilities for their work. It whm all 
crush. At these calls the Strangers' Oallery wan ItttM^A 
when the Speaker went to prayers, and all further iri^^i* 
was prohibited. At twelve, then, I was in the gali«:ry ^/r 
ite lobby; and I stayed there till four o'cUx;k n#;xt w»//ff». 
ing. It was to me a wonderful scene, and I \n»4i ttt9 tU-Mitt^ 
to leave it. At that call of the House, iXuita wt.rH all 
the great ones of the day — how few have tuA ok/*:y*A « 
higher call!— Abbott, Speaker; Gibb«, Att/>nM?y-^;-»;M?#*| ^ 
Brougham ; Burdett ; Canning ; CMtdlt^rtH^/p ; i,r,^^ ; 
Grattan; Homer; Faknerston; Peel; JV/*>;v J ^ l*.,^ 
sonby; Romilly; Sir W. Scott; hWI'L-n , '!>;#/>;/, 
Whitbread; Wilberforoe. There wer^ iiJ»i*>^#.vv* ^a^-a* 
called in that February, 1812. 1 Ukh 4/^wiu M^.^.^^ ; 
and I look to see the sort of thiri$;»» I \tt^uA <i« V4iV>; >i, i^w 
'Tenth Sesfdon of the fourth V^Whmu^uK 'A ua. i t .^a4 
Kingdom.' How obsolete muub of i^ *j\f\$tyH>* m>«*/J i v*^ ' 
What antiquated states of soci^^ty tli*;y $^ijtt.^',i,'A/\ ' i, >i 
a Parliament of the Begeucy, or a \*'44\\s*ux.*'iA '4 r//u^ «^, 
dated period of * Once up'^n a TiuMj V' 'i *w< nt r j^y .uj^ a. 
or two. 

The nightly wxbch </ Uy^ Misifvi^AU. 'iU't<i U.A i^/.h 
murders in London^ by wLui* twv v^UvU Utu.Li^ ,.^ 
been completely eztenxmuutbd ; ajud Mr. ^AA^n.tiuy y. i^,, 
moved for a oommittee t/> iiKjixha Uity u^ 9>inMA^ ^4 *^ 
nightly watch. Bomiliy a«ki^ wixAfiv wm Ui<w 44Ui/ wgj^ 



610 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

and whether all the precautions of the nighily watch 
would provide a remedy against the daring hi^waj 
robberies committed in the open day ? 

Death Penalties. — Bomilly withdrew his bill for the 
amendment of the criminal laws, with one exception. He 
brought in a bill to repeal the Act of Elizabeth, under 
which soldiers and sailors folmd b^gihg were punishable 
with death. But the legislature restored the balance in 
this session, by hastily passing a bill which made fiame- 
breaking a capital crime, instead of being a transportahlc 
offence. 

Flogging in the Army. — * With respect to the man -who had 
been spoken of, he might have died after reoeiving two 
hundred and twenty-four lashes, but they could not be the 
cause of his death.' 

By way of illustration of tiie condition of society in this 
year 1812, I open *The Annual Begister,' and in *The 
Chronicle* under the date January 1, I find it recorded 
that the body of John Williams, who had comoEiitted oei« 
of the family murders referred to in Parliament, and who 
had died by his own hand in prison, was placed on a 
platform six feet high, having on 'a clean white shirt, 
very neatly frilled.' The mall and chisel with which he 
committed the murders were placed on the side of the 
head. And thus, in solemn procession, with headboroughs 
and constables to the number of three hundred, the car was 
drawn to the house in Batoliff Highway, where one murder 
was committed ; and the body was turned so that the &c« 
of the dead man might be * directiy opposite the scene of 
atrocity/ Again the procession moved, and again it 
stopped for another quarter of an hour before the house 
where another murder had been committed. It finally 
proceeded to the New Hoad, where the body was cast into 
a hole, ' amidst the acclamations of thousands of spectators.* 
Here is a pleasant exhibition to begin the year with, for 
the edification of a London that in every other mode of 
instruction was utterly neglected. Page after pi^ of the 
* Chronicle ' famishes details of robbery and murder, riot 



FIRST STEP LNTO THE WORLD. 61 1 

and Blanghter. The terrors of £uiaticism were added 

to thoee of natnral fear. On the 20th of Febmary a dia- 

senting minister appeared in a boat on the Thames, dressed 

in a white linen robe, with his long hair flowing over his 

shoulders, and proclaimed that the Seven Vials of the Book 

of BeveUtiona were to be poured ont npon the city of 

London. Crime seemed to have loat all dread of the law. 

On the 22nd of March the Judge at the Assize at Beading, 

coming ont of the church in grand procession, was hustled 

and robbed of his gold watch and s^s. The punishments 

of the law were horribly unequal. A fanner near Ashford, 

finding some boys trespassing in |his orchard, strikes one 

of them over the head with a stake. The boy kneels and 

begs for mercy; but the fanner repeats the blow, and 

fractures the skull. It was sworn on the defence *that 

the skull was so remarkably thin that a very slight blow 

would fracture it ;' and so, upon this scientific evidence, 

the farmer was fined a shilling and discharged. Hanging 

was so common that it became a joke amongst the people. 

A police-officer saw two men upon a wall in the Hampstead 

Boad, and shortly after one of the two was hanging to a 

lamp-post The short man had turned 'off the tall man ; 

they having, after an agreeable day of drinking and 

gambling, tossed up which should hang the other. Amidst 

all this lawlessness, the Prince Regent gave the most 

magnificent entertainment on record at (varlton Houne. 

To crown the horrors of the spring of 1812, Mr. Perceval 

^vas assassinated on the 11th of May, in the lobby of the 

House of Commons. I was for two months in London in 

a time that is now fearful to read about. But the world 

went on as usual then ; and looking back upon my own 

limited experience, I do not recollect a merrier season than 

that first year of the Regency. 

That session was one of high political importance :— The 
settlement of the Royal Household ; Orders in ('ouncil ; 
Catliolic Emancipation; the War in Spain. There was 
^eat eloquence in the Commons— the grace of Canning— 
the vehemence of Brougham — Romilly, grave and earnest 



512 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

— Perceval, mild and persuasiTe — ^the Bilver voice of 
Wilberforoe— the manly ardour of Whitbread. Bnt what 
a corps of Beporters ! There was ability enough amongst 
them ; but nobody seemed to feel that he was engaged in a 
grave duty. They were a merry set in the Bxcbeqner 
cofifee-houae. A head peeps in, * Now, Flaherty.' ' Who's 
up V * Creevey.' ' Oh, I know all he can say — no hnrrr. 
You were observing ' — ' Waiter, another bottle of that old 
port.' 

And then the Saturday evening oratory of the same set 
that I had met in the gallery, at the ' Eccentrics,' in May's 
Buildings. There is a great gathering. A charge against 
Mr. Howley has been announced at a previous meeting. 
The charge comes on. Mr. Grant brings the chai^ — that 
Mr. Howley is a poet. Mr. Davis is called as witness. He 
proves that Mr. Howley was an elegiac poet ; that be was 
a lyric poet, — that he wrote an Ode to Winter, beginniog 
*• All hail ;' that he had answered an advertisement to the 
effect that *• any person competent to write ballads of i 
superior description, and in serious style, might hear of 
occupation;' — that he was a descriptive poet, and had 
written a tender piece, commencing with 

* How beaatiful the country doth appear, 
At this time of the year !' 

Then various wits spoke for and against the cluuqge ; and 
Mr. Shell gave an oration upon poetty in general ; con- 
cluding with a peroration touching the magnificent calm of 
the poet while there is war, and want, and tumult, «xA 
sorrow all around him. ' Oh ! there is an earthquake 
under his feet, and the soil heaves with a tremulous 
impatience, and the seas rush from their beds, and the air 
is darkened, and the vulture screams, and the pcdaoes ai^ 
the temples rock with a wide-spreading and all-involving 
fury ; but he stands erect amidst the convulsion, creeps out 
of the ruius, sings his song of gladness in the desert, aihi 
comes once more into the breeze and the sunshine.' And 
then Mr. Quin, the editor of < The Day,' rushes from his 



FIRST.8TEP INTO THE WORLD. 4l3 

seat to embrace Mr. Sbeil, aud says— 'Sir, I honour je. 
Dine with me to-morrow.* 

Then, during that brief intimacy with the renowned and 
the influential, I had the free admissions of the theatres. 
What a privilege was that! Drury was in ashes. But 
there was Oovent Garden, with the two Eembles and 
Young. 0' Neil, and Kean were not as yet. But there 
were Munden, and Fawcett, and Emery. 
' They teU me there ar^ no actors now. Perhaps not. I 
cannot judge. There are some things that look to me ever 
fresh, as of old;— the face of nature, the smile of love, the 
gush of poetry, the wisdom above all wisdom. But for 
meaner things, surely 

* Life's enchaatod cup bot sparkles near the brim.* 

And with this brief experience I went back to my native 
town, to be one of those who bore the honoured name of 
' best public instructor.* My range of pupils was very 
limited. I had little honour in my vocation, and less 
profit. ThQ world in which I lived was a very singular 
one. There was the Court atmosphere ; and the Collegiate 
atmosphere ; and the Coi-porate atmosphere — all very much 
opposed to a free inflation of that air which was called the 
Liberty of the Press. Yet I was resolved to be inde- 
pendent, and I was unaffectedly patriotic. I hated 
Napoleon with a true English fervour. That covered some 
of my sins in not having an undoubting faith in the rulers 
of the day, with their ^exK)fficio informatigns. I had some 
compliments to soothe me. Sir William Herschel came to 
thank me for telling the people that they were blockheads 
for attributing the high floods to him ; — and the vicar once 
quoted my leader in a fast-day sermon. 



2l 



. 514 ONCE UPON A TIME, 



SAINT JOHN'S GATE. 

When Samuel JohiuKm first saw St. Jolm*8 Gate, be * 1)eheld 
it with reverence/ as he subsequently told Boswell. But 
Boswell gives bis own interpretation of tbe cause of \)i\s 
reverence. St. Jobn^s Gate« be says, was tbe place wbei? 
tbe ^ Gentleman's Magazine ' was originally printed : and 
be adds, ' I suppose, indeed, tbat every young autbor bv 
bad tbe same kind of feeling for tbe magazine or periodical 
publication wbicb bas first entertained bim.* He continlI€^ 
witb bappy naivete, * I, myself, recollect suob impressioo 
from tbe ** Scots' Magazine." ' Mr. Croker, in bis valuabk 
notes to BoswelFs * Jobnson,' bas a very rational doubt of 
tbe correctness of tbis explanation : * If, as Mr. Bosvdl 
supposes, Jobnson looked at St. Jobn*s Gate as the printing- 
office of Cave, surely a less empbatical term than rewrt^y 
would bave been more just. Tbe ** Gentleman's Magazine " 
bad been, at tbis time, but six years before tbe public, and 
its contents were, until Jobnson bimself contributed tc* 
improve it, entitled to anytbing ratber tban reverence ; bnt 
it is more probable tbat Jobuson's reverence was excited bt 
tbe recollections connected witb tbe ancient gate itself, tbe 
last relic of tbe once extensive and magnificent priory <^ 
tbe beroio knigbts of tbe Order of St. Jobn of Jemisaleis. 
suppressed at tbe dissolution, and destroyed by successiTc 
dilapidations.' 

More tban a century is passed away since Jobnson, tron 
wbatever motive, bebeld witb reverence tbe old gate of the 
bospital of St. Jobn of Jerusalem. Tbere it still remains. 
in a quarter of tbe town little visited, witb scarcely anotber 
relic of antiquity immediately about it. Extensive iis 
provements are going forward in its neigbbourbood ; and 



r *-.. -w; 




Tl'F N'-'*^* YORK 



* ' ^ " 



ML*^ • 



.. . ,^ ; K-- 



SMNT John's GATE. 515 

it may probably be one day swept away with as ruthless a 
hand as that of the Protector Somerset, who blew up the 
stately buildings of the hospital to procure materials for his 
own palace in the Strand* May it be preserved from the 
most complete of all destroyers — the building speculator! 
It Las, to me» a double interest. It is ihe representative of 
the days of chivalrous enthusiasm on the one hand, and of 
popular improvement on the other. The Order, which 
dates from the days of Godfrey of Bouillon, has perished, 
even in our own time — an anomaly in the age up to which 
it had survived. The general desire for knowledge, which 
gave birth to the * Gentleman's Magazine,' is an increasing 
power, and one which depends upon no splendid endow- 
ments and no stately mansions for its maintenance and or- 
nament. Cave, the printer, was the accidental successor of 
the Prior of the Hospital of St. John. But, representing 
the freedom of public opinion, he was the natural successor 
of the despotic power of a secret society. At any rate, the 
accident invests St. John's Gate with an interest which 
would not otherwise belong to it ; and in its double charac- 
ter we may not be ashamed to behold it * with reverence.' 

It was in 1841 that I first saw St. John's Gate. Tuming 
out of St. John's Street to enter St. John's Lane — a narrow 
street which runs obliquely from that wide thoroughfare — 
the Gate presented itself to view, completely closing the 
road, and leaving a passage into St. John's Square only 
through the archway. The large masses of stone of which 
the gate is composed were then much decayed ; but the 
groined arch had recently been restored. A huge board 
which surmounted the archway informed the few paesers- 
bj that they might here solace themselves with the hospi- 
talities of the ' Jerusalem Tavern ;' and, lest they might 
dread to be subjected to any of the original notions of absti- 
nence which a pilgrim might once have been expected to 
bring within these walls, a window of a house or bulk on 
the eastern side of the gateway displayed all the attractions 
^f bottles with golden labels of * Cordial Gin,' * Pine-apple 
Rum,' and * Real Cognac.' Passing under the arch, I per-r 

2l2 



d\^ QSCB UltoK A TIME. 

oeived that the modem hospitium fan thrdugh Hie eaatem 
side of the gateway, and connected with premises at either 
end. Invited ^ To the Parlour,* I entered. A oomfortahle 
room was that parlour, with its tables chequered with 
many a liquor-stain ; and genius had here its due honoui^ 
for Dr. Johnson^s favourite seat was carefully pointed out 
But the tavern had then higher attractions than its parlour 
fireside with Dr. Johnaon*8 comer : it had a * Orand Hall/ 
where the * Knights of Jerusalem ' still assembled in solemn 
Qonclave every Monday evening. It was long before I 
ventured to ask whether any uninitiated eyes might e£« 
that Grand Hall ; but I did take courage, and most obligingly 
was I conducted to it. I ascended the eastern tuxpet by a 
broad staircase (but certainly not one of the date of tbe 
original building), and was soon in the central room of the 
Gateway. It was a fine lofty room, and if there were few 
remains of ancient magnificence—no elaborate carvings, 
no quaint inscriptions, nor * storied windows,' — ^the spirit 
of the past had been evoked from the ruins of the great 
military order, to confer dignities and splendoars on the 
peaceful burghers who were wont here to congregate. 
Banners, gaudy wiih gold and vermilion, floated upon the 
walls ; and, if the actual * armoury of the invincible knights* 
were wanting, there were two or three cuirasses whick 
looked as grim and awful as any 

* Bruised arms hung up for monuments.' 

Nor were the fine arts absent from the decoration of thiM 
apartment. Sculpture had here given us a coloured effigv 
of some redoubted Hospitaller ; and Painting had lovingly 
united under the same ceiling the stem countenance of 
Prior Dockwra, the builder of the Gate, and the sleek and 
benign likenesses of the worshipful founders of the modern 
order. History records not their exploits, and I shall l>e 
silent as to their names. They were quiet lawgivers, aini 
not rampaging warriors. They had done the wise thiu^ 
which poetry abhors — changed * swords for ledgers.' In- 
stead of secret oaths and terrible ipysteriee, tbey invited 



SAINT JOHN'S GATE. SI? 

all men to eiitef tKeir commnnity at tbe small price of two- 
peoce each night. Instead of vain covenants to drink 
nothing l>ut water, and rejoice in a crust of mouldy bread, 
the visitor might call for anything for which he had the 
means of payment, even to the delicacies of kidneys, tripe, 
and Welch rabbits. The edicts of this happy brotherhood 
were inscribed in letters of gold for all men to read ; and 
the virtuous regard which they displayed for the morals of 
their community presented a striking contrast to the fe-^ 
puted excesses of the military orders. The code had only 
four articles, and one of them was especially directed against 
the singing of improper songs. Here, then, was mirth with- 
out licentiousness, ambition without violence, power with- 
out oppression. When the Grand Master ascended the 
throne which was here erected, as the best eminence to 
which a modem Knight of Jerusalem might aspire, wear- 
ing his robes of state, and surrounded by his great com- 
manders, also in their *• weeds of peace,' no clangour of 
trumpets rent the air; but the mahogany tablies Were 
drummed upon by a hundred ungauntleted hands, and a 
gentle cloud of incense arose from the pipes which sent 
forth their perfumes from every month. Would I had par- 
taken of that, inspiration ! After the third hour the dimen- 
sionb of the ' Grand Hall ' of the Jerusalem Tavern would 
have expanded into the form and proportions of the * Great 
Hall ' of the Priory of St. John. The smoke-coloured ceil- 
ing would have lifted itself up into a groined roof, glorious 
with the heraldry of many a Crusader or Knight of Rhodes. 
The drowsy echoes of * tol de rol ' or * derry down * would 
have melted into solemn strains of impassioned devotion ; 
and the story, three times told, how Jenkins beat his wife 
and was taken to the police-station, would have slided into 
a soft tale of a Tronbadour discovering his ladye-love who 
had followed him through Palestine as a pretty page. 
Slowly, but surely, the green coats and the blue, the 
butcher's frock and the grocer's apron, would have become 
shadowed into as many black robes ; and in the very height 
of my ecstasy the white cross would have grown on every 



;6I8 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

man*8 breast out of its symbolical red field. Then the 
' order, order ' of the chairman would have become a battle- 
pry ; the knock of his hammer would have been the soimd 
of the distant cnlyerin ; the hiccups of the far-gone sipper 
of treble-X ale would have represented the groans of the 
wounded. I should have &llen asleep, and have dreamt i 
much more vivid picture of the ancient glories of the Priorr 
of St John of Jerusalem than can be presented with the aid 
of obscure chronicles and perishing fragments — the things 
which the antiquary digs up, and, ^when he has broogbt 
them to light in his erudite pages, has the satisfaction iv 
be called * one of those industrious who are only re-buiying 
the dead.'* 

I went again to Saint John's Qate in 1863. I tonied 
down the quiet unchanged street — what a contrast to tbe 
associations of modem Smithfield! — and there stood tbe 
Gate, apparently unchanged also. But there was a change. 
The east side of the arch was covered with a mighty oil- 
painting, of canvas large enough to have satisfied poor 
Haydon, or any other enthusiastic professor of 'high art' 
— Ihe subject, l^ights of Saint John going forth to a Tour- 
nament. The old • Parlour * looked invitingly ; and I 
could not resist the temptation of the inviter. There was 
a change, however, in its decorations. On one side of tbe 
room was a great collection of frowning portraits of tht 
Grand Masters of the Order, cut out of one of its famous 
histories ; on the other, a series of some eighty pages of a 
fnodem work on the antiquities of the Gate, framed pagebv 
page. The spirit of Cave had descended upon the present 
landlord of the Tavern — and he had compiled this ' Historv 
of the Priory and Gate of St. John of Jerusalem/ and illus- 
trated it with really beautiful engravings. Honoured be 
the labours of the landlord of St. John's Gate ! There were 
other intellectual attractions in the old Parlour — HogarthV 
• Industry and Idleness ' — portraits of Johnson, and Garrick. 
and Cave — Prior Dockwra's signature in lithograph,- 

* Horace Walpole (of Goagh) in a lettiar to Cole, J773. 



•SAINT JOHN'S GATE. 



519 



notices of ' A Discussion Class.' I again went up to ' the 
Giind Hall/ The portraits of the modem Knights of St. 
John had vanished. I fear they had not maintained the 
fame of their great predecessors, Fulk de Villaret, or Pierre 
d'Aubuason. Other changes had taken place in twelve 
years. The Knights of St. John had given place to a 
Musical Society, whose amateur concerts delighted Clerken- 
well twice a week. I thought much of these changes, and 
went h6me, musing. 

The first star was out in heaven, as I sat that evening 
in my quiet study, and called up the memories that were 
associated with St John's Gate. I possess a silver tankard, 
with St. John's Gate and •£. C engraven on its side. 
Good old Cave, according to Sir John Hawkins, * that he 




Cive. 



might avoid the suspicion of pride in setting up an equipage, 
diBplayed to the world the source of his affluence, by a 
representation of St. John's Gate, instead of his arms, on 



520 ONCE UPON A TBfB. 

the door panels,' and ' oauAing it to be engraYcn on all liis 
plate.' The old-&ahioned cup was filled for me that summer 
evening. The * twilight interim' gradually slid into dark- 
ness — and my mnsings grew dream-like. 

I sat in the ohair of the Discussion Class in ihe pailoiir 
of the Jerusalem Tavern. We are bold in dreams. 1 bad 
no fear that I might offend the honourable company \fy my 
presumption. Prior Dockwra was there ; but he seemed to 
me somewhat edged out of the places of honour by rather 
obscure personages. There was Mr. Moses Browpe, *in a 
cloud of tobacco-smoke,' who obtained Cave's great fiftj- 
pound prize for a poem in the ' Gentleman's Magazine ;' and 
who subsequently wrote * Sunday Thoughts,' upon which 
Johnson observed 'he had a great mind to write and 
publish ** Monday Thoughts." ' There was Mr. John Dnick, 
who not only used his pen afi one of Cave's poets, but was 
a 'pen-cutter' in Clerkenwel}. Mr. Webb, from Mr. AVat- 
kins's Academy in 6pital Square, tendered a new enigioa 
to 'a man of large stature, not only tall but bulky.* 
Another large man ' in a loose horseman's coat, and a great 
bushy uncombed wig,' said * Pooh ' to the enigma. I rathei 
trembled before that lai^ man, whom I well knew. But 
a jaunty little man, with a Comical &ce, said, ' I^et him 
earn his half-crown — he was call-boy when I played the 
''Mock Doctor** up-stairs/ And so 1 .was president of a 
club at which the Prior of St. John's, Edward Cave, 
Samuel Johnson, and David Garrick were the choice spirits 
I must be the Boswell of the party. 

Hie Prior. — Hush 1 I hear the lutes and dtlloimers pre- 
luding for even-song. 

Johnson. — Your reverence mistakes. How dard you laugh. 
Davy! I have Icamt something of music since I asked 
Bumey, when I had the dropsy in my legs, to teach me xh: 
gamut. I know those mechanics up-stairs are playing & 
Sonata of Beethoven. 

Garrick. — We have all learnt something since then. 1 
now know that I didn't act Shakspere, when I made ttc 
fiide-boxos weep ; and that Mr. Phelps does play Shakspert: 



tADTT JOHN'0 OATl. Wl 

. to die apprantioes at Sadler^a Welln. Rut I am afl aul t^t 
thia leTelliB^ What have artiHans to do with lifHMhov< n ? 
and why do they want Shakspere'a l^oar ? Tato* lux^n^iht 
down the pit; and you boasted that *('ordoliA« U\Mn tW 
time of Tate, always retired with victory and f^lioity/ 

JohnMM. — Sir, I talked some nonsotwo thc»n, and wMt<k 
some too. Why do you talk nonsense now whc^n yon kium 
better ? It is in an age when there is fp*oat Ki^noiul igno* 
ranoe, and partial refinement, that botchors likrt Tato %U\^ 
to meddle with such as 6hakspere. ll&oso viiJIn* that w^n 
hear np-stairs tell us that taste is spreaiUng, and knowlc^t^i^i^ 
too. 

Cave. — We sold fifteen thousand of tlie Mlnntlonmn'a 
3Iagaadne' when you, Sir, wrote the DeUtoH. Tho ntimtn^r 
is not so large now. 

/oAnswi.— Ko, Sir, how should it be? Yonr Maipisin^ 
was then to the public what newspai>ors have beoiinu^ wiuiHi 
— but how wretchedly we supplied the want I 

Cave. — Ah, Mr. Johnson — I beg pardon, Doctor— thry 
have never anything in their newspapers oc^ual to yuur 
Debates, 'for felicities of expression, for the stnioturo of 
sentences, happy at once for point, dignity, and ologanoct.* 
My worthy successor in the Magazine truly doNorilHul ynsr 
Debates. 

Johnson, — Don't make me wretched, Hr. Cave. I was 
penitent, even in the body, for imposing on tho world, in 
making arguments and conjuring up answers for Kpeakoin 
in Parliament. There was no truth in them, Sir. Dut 
now — ^Prior, may I trouble you for * ITie Times.' Look 
here, Mr. Cave. There are twenty columns that would fill 
two of your Magazines, and not a word there printed was 
Bpoken at this time yesterday; and the reporters hiivo 
invented no lies, as we invented. 

Garrkk. — But they polish a bit — and put in what looks io 
nie very like the prompter's work. And after all, thoro is 
not much eloquence. 

Johnson. — Sir, a great, earnest, busy people have no i\u\\> 
for eloquence. They want &ct8. Sir, facts. The re{)oi1urs 



522 ONCE UPON A TIME. 

may properly polLsh. There is an efiseEilial difference 
between speaking and writing. There are redundancies to 
prune away — connecting words to snpply. They do their 
work well, those reporters. 

Cave. — Don't you think, Sir, that Parliament -was right 
to prevent us publishing the debates ? 

Johnson. — Wise, as the Stuarts were ; but not wise for 
the time when you kept the press going over the wet. 
The days of public opinion were coming quickly ; and to 
imagine five hundred gentlemen sitting at Westminster to 
legislate in secret, when a whole nation was beginning to 
read, is to imagine a ship becalihed in a North-wester. 
The safety-valves of opinion have been opened — never again 
to be closed* 

Cave. — But the Magasdne, Sir. It lives yet. It ougbt 
to sell thousands, where I sold hundreds. 

Johnson. — That is, that caviare should sell better than 
potatoes. The people want good things^ but they w^t 
cheap things. They want things of universal applicatioo. 
They don't want your pretty verses to Pastora— your 
chanides, your rebuses, your tombstone learning, your 
dissertations on a Boman urn, by Dr. Pegge. They want 
what they can understand and take an interest in. Sir, if 1 
had the power to act in this world, I would set up a netr 
halfpenny magazine, and you should print it, — and we 
would sell millions, Sir, millions. 

Caw.— You ^ould not lower yourself to the multitude? 

Johnson. — Lower myself? I would try to elevate myseE 
Do you think that if I had known my trade, we should 
have sold only five hundred of the ' Bambler ?* I was speak- 
ing to the multitude then. But I could not speak to xbt 
middle and working classes as writers speak now. 1 
talked grand, Sir; and the few readers said, * great 
moralist,' and went to sleep. 

Garrick. — Would you write a novel, now? 

Johnson. — ^Yes, Sir. Do you think that I couldn^t have 
written a novel if I had chosen to descend from whaVl 
thought my dignity; when you, and I, and Savage, knew 



SArar JOHN'S GATE. 623 

the town and all its queer ways as well as Defoe, and better 
than Smollett? Goldy wrote a novel. It is the most 
popular book in the language. And chiefly because Goldy 
wrote that book, for which I got him a hundred pounds, 
his peach-blossom coat is immortal. His Life — 

Garrick, — I don't observe that any one has written my 
Life since Tom Davies. I cannot help feeling — 

Johnson, — * As much feeling as P