England in the early 19th century




The Army—Number of men—Dress—Hair-powder—Militia—Commissions easily obtained—Price of substitutes—The Volunteers—Dress of the Honourable and Ancient Artillery Company—Bloomsbury Volunteers, and Rifle Volunteers—Review at Hatfield—Grand rising of Volunteers in 1803.

IN THE year 1800, our Army consisted of between 80,000 and 90,000 men, besides the foreign legions, such as the Bavarians, in our pay. In 1810, there were 105,000, foreigners not included.

The British soldier of that day was, outwardly, largely compounded of a tight coat and gaiters, many buttons and straps, finished off with hog's lard and flour; and an excellent representation of him, in the midst of the decade, is taken from a memorial picture of the death of Nelson, and also from his funeral; but these latter may have been volunteers, as they were much utilized on that occasion. Be they what they may, both had one thing in common—the pig-tail—which was duly soaped, or larded and floured, until flour became so scarce that its use was first modified, and then discontinued, about 1808. Otherwise the variety of uniforms was infinite, as now.

Of the threatened Invasion I have already treated. Of the glorious campaigns abroad I have nothing to say, except that all did their duty, or more, with very few blunders, if we except the Expedition to the Scheldt. From the highest to the lowest, there was a wish to be with the colours. Fain would the Prince of Wales have joined any regiment of which he was colonel, on active service, and, in fact, he made application to be allowed to do so, but met with a refusal, at which he chafed greatly. Should any one be curious to read the “Correspondence between His Majesty, The Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and Mr. Addington, respecting the Offer of Military Service made by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,” it can be found in the appendix to the chronicle of the Annual Register  for 1803, pp. 564, &c.

The Army was fighting our battles abroad, so that for the purposes of this book, we are left only to deal with the Militia and Volunteers. The Militia were in a state of almost permanent embodiment, except during the lull about 1802. March, 1803, saw them once more under arms; the Yeomanry had not been disembodied. Commissions in the Militia seem to have been easily procurable. Morning Post, December 3, 1800: “Militia Ensigncy. A young Gentleman of respectability can be introduced to an Ensigncy in the Militia, direct,” &c. Times, July 2, 1803: “An Adjutancy of English Militia to be sold,” &c. Substitutes could be bought, but at fluctuating prices, according to the chance of active service being required. When first called out in 1803, one could be got for £10; but the Times, September 15, 1803, in its Brighton news, says: “The price of substitutes now is as high as forty guineas, and this tempting boon, added to the stimulus of patriotism, has changed the occupation of many a Sussex swain.” The Annual Register, October 15, 1803, says: “Sixty pounds was last week paid at Plymouth for a substitute for the Militia. One man went, on condition of receiving 1s. per day during the war, and another sold himself for 7s. 3d. per lb.”







The Volunteer movement has been glanced at when treating of the threatened Invasion of 1803. There had, in the previous century, been a grand Volunteer force called into existence, but nothing like the magnificent general uprising that took place in 1803. Their uniforms, and accoutrements, nearly approached the regulars, as ours do now; but there was much more scope for individual fancy. The Honourable and Ancient Artillery Company wore a blue uniform, with scarlet and gold facings, pipe-clayed belts, and black gaiters. The Bloomsbury, and Inns of Court Volunteers dressed in scarlet, with yellow facings, white waistcoat and breeches, and black gaiters, whilst the Rifles were wholly clad in dark green.

The whole of the old Volunteers of 1798 did not disband; some old corps still kept on. On June 18, 1800, the King, accompanied by his family, the Ministers, &c., went to Hatfield, the seat of the Marquis of Salisbury, and there reviewed the Volunteers and Militia, to the number of 1,500, all of whom the Marquis most hospitably dined. Of this dinner I give a contemporary account, as it gives us a good insight into the fare of a public entertainment, especially one given by a nobleman, in honour of his sovereign and country: “80 hams, and as many rounds of beef; 100 joints of veal; 100 legs of lamb; 100 tongues; 100 meat pies; 25 rumps of beef roasted; 100 joints of mutton; 25 briskets; 25 edge bones of beef; 71 dishes of other roast beef; 100 gooseberry pies: besides very sumptuous covers at the tables of the King, the Cabinet Ministers, &c. For the country people, there were killed at the Salisbury Arms, 3 bullocks, 16 sheep, and 25 lambs. The expense is estimated at £3,000.”

There was a grand Volunteer Review on July 22, 1801, of nearly 5,000 men, by the Prince of Wales, supported by his two brothers, the Dukes of York and Kent, some 30,000 people being present.

But the moment invasion was threatened, there sprang, from the ground, armed men. A new levy of 50,000 regulars was raised, and the Volunteers responded to thecall for men in larger numbers than they did in 1859-60. In 1804, the “List of such Yeomanry and Volunteer Corps as have been accepted and placed on the Establishment in Great Britain,” gives a total of 379,943 officers and men (effective rank and file 341,687), whilst Ireland furnished, besides 82,241 officers and men, a grand total of 462,184, against which we can but show some 214,000, less about 5,000 non-efficients, with a much larger population.

Music—Composers of the time—Mrs. Billington—Her salaries—Mdlle. Mara—Mrs. Crouch—Incledon—Braham—Chamber music—Musical societies—Commemoration of Dr. Arne—Competition of pipers—Dancing—The Valse.

THESE open-air concerts showed that there was a natural taste for music in the English character, and when we look at the composers who then flourished, and at the singers who expounded their works, we must own that the dawn of the century could fairly hold its own with its latter days. Dr. Arnold, Dr. Callcott (whose glees are still sung in many a home), Shield, Stevens, and Clementi, were among the composers; and, for singers—was there not Mrs. Billington, with her extraordinarily sweet voice, her forcible expression, and flexible execution?

Gillray here has kept an excellent likeness of our prima donna, and, probably, did not much exaggerate her proportions. She was paid remarkably well, as most divas  are, and, if the satirical prints, and newspaper reports of the time, do not belie her, she was as voracious after “Refreshers” as a modern Queen's Counsel, or she could not appear.

Here we see Mrs. Billington utterly prostrate, until revived by golden pills, of which Sheridan is bringing a good supply. We can see what she earned from a newspaper cutting, or two.


Morning Post, June 12, 1800: “Mrs. Billington is engaged for the King's Theatre next season, and she is to have two thousand guineas.”


Morning Post, July 15, 1801: “Mrs. Billington after humming  all the Theatres, has, at last, fixed on the hive  in Covent Garden, where she will, no doubt, make much buzz and honey  next season. Articles were signed between her and Mr. Harris yesterday. This we can state as a positive fact. It is with much pleasure we find she has resolved to return to the English stage; she will revive our Operas, of late fallen into disrepute, and bring music again into fashion. The terms are very liberal, but not more so than we expected so extraordinary, so charming a singer, to obtain. She is to have three thousand guineas, and a free benefit, besides fifty guineas per night at the oratorios; this altogether will amount to upwards of four thousand pounds for the season, and this season is not to extend beyond half a year.”


[Gillray, 15th May, 1801.

Morning Herald, April 2, 1802: “Mrs. Billington will net this single season, by her professional abilities, no less than eleven thousand pounds !”

Mdlle. Mara, too, whose rich, sweet voice was so often heard in oratorio, got her fifty guineas a night at Drury Lane, in the year 1800, so that we see that in those old days “singing women” were well paid. Mrs. Crouch, that sweet songstress, and rival of the Billington, although she had quitted the stage through an unfortunate accident, which injured her voice, died in this decade, on the 2nd of October, 1805. There were many more of respectable calibre, but none with the exception of Storace, to compare with the three named.

Among male voices Incledon, and Braham, were pre-eminent. Incledon had a beautifully rich voice, the successful cultivation of which was doubtless owing to his early training, under the celebrated William Jackson, at Exeter Cathedral.

Many of us now living can remember having heard John Braham sing, although, of course, only in his decadence. His was a wonderfully successful musical career, not only here, but on the Continent; but then he had a most rare voice, and one of such extensive range, that he could sing airs written for Mdlle. Mara.

No other male singers of this period are worthy of note, nor do we find many good, or lasting, names among the instrumentalists. Wesley on the organ, Clementi and Cramer on the pianoforte, F. Cramer on the violin, about exhaust the list. But the people were musical at heart and there is no greater fallacy than to think the English were ever otherwise. Small and select parties would meet of an evening, and perform concerted chamber music. The illustration by Gillray is slightly caricatured, but it gives a very fair view of such a domestic scene.

Or, we might take another drawing-room scene, in which only two are actors, and are executing a duet to a harp accompaniment.

That good, and what we term severe, music was then appreciated, we have evidence in the existence of the “Academy of Ancient Music,” which was held at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, Covent Garden—an institution which began in Queen Anne's reign, under the conduct of the celebrated musician, Dr. John Christopher Pepsuch; and, till 1737, no ladies were admitted in the audience. In another twenty years it assumed more of the form of a public concert; and, in 1786, the society migrated to Freemason's Hall, where, in 1788, it was resolved to admit ladies as subscribers. The subscription, which, at its commencement, was only half a guinea, rose, by degrees, to five guineas, and then settled down to four, which covered a season of six, or eight, concerts.


There was a split in the musical camp, and a branch of the parent society seceded, and established themselves at the Opera House, in the Haymarket, under the title of “The Concert of Ancient Music,” or “King's Concerts.” They afterwards moved to the Hanover Square Rooms. The concerts commenced in February, and continued till the end of May. Six directors, chosen from the nobility, selected, in turn, the pieces for each concert—at which all modern music was utterly excluded, and nothing could be played unless twenty-five years old. So strictly was this carried out, that if the director for the night introduced anything more modern, he was (and it was done more than once) fined in a very considerable sum. There were also popular concerts held at the Hanover Square rooms, during the season, to which the admission was generally half a guinea.

And yet, with all this reverence for old music, it was found impossible to make a success of a “Commemoration of Dr. Arne,” which took place at Ranelagh on June 10, 1802; the expenses being £100, and the actual receipts for the night only £26! Well may the newspaper editor end the paragraph with “Poor Thomas Arne!”

In contradistinction to this, a Competition of Pipers, which was annual, seems to have been a great success. The Highland Society of London gave the prizes, three in number: 1st, a handsome set of pipes with a silver plate, and forty merks Scots; 2nd and 3rd, thirty merks, and it was decided at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, before an enthusiastic audience.

The principal dance of this period was the country dance; but the valse had already been introduced, and rapidly came into favour, although it was held to be fast, and rather indecent, and was danced in a somewhat different style to what it is nowadays.


LA VALSE—1810.

Amateur driving—“The Whip Club”—Their dress—“The Four in Hand Club”—Their dress—Other driving clubs—“Tommy Onslow”—Rotten Row.

CERTAIN of the jeunesse dorée  took to driving, probably arising from the fact of riding outside the stage coaches, and being occasionally indulged with “handling the ribbons” and “tooling” the horses for a short distance—of course for a consideration, by means of which “the jarvey”[39] made no mean addition to his income, which, by the by, was not a bad one, as every traveller gave him something, and all his refreshment at the various inns at which the coach stopped was furnished free. These young men started a “Whip Club,” and the following is a description of a “meet”:

“The Whip Club  met on Monday morning in Park Lane, and proceeded from thence to dine at Harrow-on-the-Hill. There were fifteen barouche landaus with four horses to each; the drivers were all men of known skill in the science of charioteering. Lord Hawke, Mr. Buxton, and the Hon. Lincoln Stanhope were among the leaders.

“The following was the style of the set out: Yellow-bodied carriages, with whip springs and dickey boxes; cattle of a bright bay colour, with plain silver ornaments on the harness, and rosettes to the ears. Costume of the drivers: A light drab colour cloth coat made full, single breast, with three tiers of pockets, the skirts reaching to the ankles; a mother of pearl button of the size of a crown piece. Waistcoat, blue and yellow stripe, each stripe an inch in depth. Small cloths corded with silk plush, made to button over the calf of the leg, with sixteen strings and rosettes to each knee. The boots very short, and finished with very broad straps, which hung over the tops and down to the ankle. A hat three inches and a half deep in the crown only, and the same depth in the brim exactly. Each wore a large bouquet at the breast, thus resembling the coachmen of our nobility, who, on the natal day of our beloved sovereign, appear, in that respect, so peculiarly distinguished. The party moved along the road at a smart trot; the first whip gave some specimens of superiority at the outset by ‘cutting a fly off a leader's ear.'”[40]


“Two varying races are in Briton born,
One courts a nation's praises, one her scorn;
Those pant her sons o'er tented fields to guide,
Or steer her thunders thro' the foaming tide;
Whilst these, disgraceful born in luckless hour,
Burn but to guide with skill a coach and four.
To guess their sires each a sure clue affords,
These are the coachmen's sons, and those my Lord's.
Both follow Fame, pursuing different courses;
Those, Britain, scourge thy foes—and these thy horses;
Give them their due, nor let occasion slip;
On those thy laurels lay—on these thy whip!”[41]

According to the Morning Post, April 3, 1809, the title of the “Whip Club” was changed then to the “Four in Hand Club,” and their first meet is announced for the 28th of April. “So fine a cavalcade has not been witnessed in this country, at any period, as these gentlemen will exhibit on that day, in respect to elegantly tasteful new carriages and beautiful horses; the latter will be all high bred cattle, and their estimated value will exceed three hundred guineas each. All superfluous ornaments will be omitted on the harness; gilt, instead of plated furniture.”

The meet took place, as advised, in Cavendish Square, the costume of the drivers being as follows: A blue (single breast) coat, with a long waist, and brass buttons, on which were engraved the words “Four in Hand Club”; waistcoat of Kerseymere, ornamented with alternate stripes of blue and yellow; small clothes of white corduroy, made moderately high, and very long over the knee, buttoning in front over the shin bone. Boots very short, with long tops, only one outside strap to each, and one to the back; the latter were employed to keep the breeches in their proper longitudinal shape. Hat with a conical crown, and the Allen  brim (whatever that was); box, or driving coat, of white drab cloth, with fifteen capes, two tiers of pockets, and an inside one for the Belcher handkerchief; cravat of white muslin spotted with black. Bouquets of myrtle, pink, and yellow geraniums were worn. In May of the same year, the club button had already gone out of fashion, and “Lord Hawke sported yesterday, as buttons, Queene Anne's shillings; Mr. Ashurst displayed crown pieces.”

Fancy driving was not confined to one club; besides the “Four in Hand,” there were “The Barouche Club,” “The Defiance Club,” and “The Tandem Club.”

One of the most showy of these charioteers was a gentleman, who was irreverently termed “Tommy Onslow” (afterwards Lord Cranley), whose portrait is given here. So far did he imitate the regular Jehu  that he had his legs swathed in hay-bands. Of him was written, under the picture of which the accompanying is only a portion—

“What can little T. O. do?
Why, drive a Phaeton and Two!!
Can little T. O. do no more?
Yes, drive a Phaeton and Four!!!!”


One of his driving feats may be chronicled (Morning Herald, June 26, 1802): “A curious bet was made last week, that Lord Cranley could drive a phaeton and four into a certain specified narrow passage, turn about, and return out of it, without accident to man, horse, or carriage. Whether it was Cranbourn, or Sidney's Alley, or Russell Court, or the Ride of a Livery Stable, we cannot tell; but, without being able to state the particulars, we understand that the phaetonic feat was performed with dexterity and success, and that his Lordship was completely triumphant.”

In London, of course, the Park was the place for showing off both beautiful horses, and men's riding, and the accompanying illustration portrays Lord Dillon, an accomplished rider, showing people


The costume here is specially noteworthy, as it shows a very advanced type of dandy.

That this was not the ordinary costume for riding in “the Row,” is shown in the accompanying illustration, where it is far more business-like, and fitted for the purpose.


As we see, from every contemporary print and painting, the horses were of a good serviceable type, as dissimilar as possible from our racer, but closely resembling a well-bred hunter. They had plenty of bottom, which was needful, for they were often called upon to perform what now would be considered as miracles of endurance. Take the following from the Annual Register, March 24, 1802, and bearing in mind the sea passage, without steam, and in a little tub of a boat, and it is marvellous: “Mr. Hunter performed his journey from Paris to London in twenty-two hours, the shortest space of time that journey has ever been made in.”

[39]The generic name for coachman.

[40]Morning Post, June 9, 1808.

[41]Annual Register, vol. lix. p. 883.

Great fires in London—Number of Insurance Companies—Rates of insurance—Fire-engines and firemen—Scarcity of water—Supply of water to London—The streets—Their traffic—Shops—Watering the roads.

THE transition from Matches to Fires is natural, and easy, and, during the time of which I have treated in this book, there were several bad ones. In 1800 on the 11th of February, three West India Warehouses, near the Custom House, were burnt down, with an estimated loss of £300,000; and on the 6th of October of the same year, thirty houses were destroyed by fire. On September 27, 1802, an immense amount of property was destroyed in Store Street, Tottenham Court Road. The great tower over the choir in Westminster Abbey perished by flames July 9, 1803. The Theatres seem absolutely to have courted cremation. Astley's, which had been burnt down on September 17, 1794, was again made a ruin on September 1, 1803, and forty houses shared its fate at the same time. Then followed the Surrey, on August 12, 1805; Covent Garden on September 20, 1808; and Drury Lane on February 24, 1809. These were only the principal conflagrations during the decade; there were, of course, as many minor ones as ever. Take one instance—the list of fires within the Bills of Mortality for 1807. In the twelve months there were 375 fires and 356 chimney alarms.

None could complain of want of Insurance Companies, for, in 1810, there existed sixteen Fire Insurance Companies, viz., The Sun, Phœnix, Royal Exchange, Hand in Hand, Westminster, London, Union, British, Imperial, Globe, County, Hope, Atlas, Pelican, Albion, and Eagle. The rates at which they assured were low, looking at the duty they paid to Government—the Sun so paying, in 1806, no less a sum than £95,269 8s. 8d. Common Insurances were charged a premium of 2s. per cent., Hazardous Insurances 3s. per cent., and Doubly Hazardous 5s. per cent., or very much the present rate. And we must remember that money was dearer, many buildings were of timber, and nearly all were faultily constructed, there being no District Surveyor in these days—added to which, the engines were but poor manuals; steam, of course, being unknown.


Each Fire Insurance Company had its badge, or cognizance, which was stamped out in sheet lead, painted and gilt, and then nailed on to the house insured—probably as an advertisement of the Company. There was no Fire Brigade, properly so called—that did not come till 1832; but each Company kept a staff of firemen and engines. We have seen that these men acted as constables when Sir Francis Burdett was released from prison. Although the dress was of somewhat similar pattern, its colour, &c., wasleft to the individual fancy of each Company—the illustration I have given, being the uniform of the Sun Fire Insurance Company. The coat, waistcoat, and breeches, were of dark blue cloth with brass buttons, whilst a brass badge adorned both his left arm, and his helmet. This latter was made of horse hide, strengthened by cross bars of metal; its inside was of leather, quilted and stuffed with wool, to protect the head from falling bricks or spars. The engines were manuals, and carried with them spare men to relieve those pumping, when they were tired. The most powerful engine of that time could only throw a ton of water per minute through a ½ inch branch, or nozzle, and, as we see, the fire-plug was simply pulled up, and the water very wastefully supplied.


Water, by the by, was somewhat scarce, and certainly not good. Drinking water was mainly supplied from pumps, both public and private, and when we see the arrangement of pumps, in the country, nowadays, how, in order to be near the house, they are, generally, thoughtlessly placed in close approximation to the cesspool—we can imagine, in some degree, what the supply of drinking water must have been like in crowded London, with its defective drainage, and its festering graveyards. There was a supply, to certain districts, of New River water. Some yet flowed from the heights of Hampstead, and there were also the Water Works at London Bridge, which were inaugurated by the “Dutchman,” Peter Moritz, in 1582, and which continued to pump up the muddy, sewaged water, until the new bridge was built. They are thus described in a contemporary work (1802): “The Water Works, on the north-west side of the Bridge, supply a considerable part of London  with water for domestic purposes, in the same manner as is effected by the New River. But as London Bridge  lies very low, the water requires to be forced up to a bason on the top of a tower, 120 feet in height. From this bason, it again descends into the main pipes, and is conveyed in all directions through the town. The water is raised by the action of four great wheels, which are turned by the stream, and every turn of the four wheels causes 114 strokes of the piston rods—by this means 40 to 50,000 hogsheads of water are raised every 24 hours.”

There was yet another water supply, which was obtained from pumps and springs, and which afforded a livelihood to many hard-working, and industrious, men. Perhaps, one of the last places in the vicinity of London thus supplied, was Hampstead—a neighbourhood noted for springs, where the water used to be thus fetched from the “Conduit Meads” and other places, and retailed at 1d. or 2d. per bucket, according to distance. This only ceased when the Midland Railway ran a tunnel underneath the spring, and destroyed it.


The water supply from the Thames, and New River, it must be remembered, was only turned on three times a week.

The Streets of London in 1804 are thus contemporaneously described: “It may well excite our admiration to go from Charing Cross to the Exchange, and pass a double row of carriages, one coming, another going, with scarcely an intermission. Yet, when we recollect the numerous causes that put so many things, and persons, in motion, we may admire, but must own it was to be expected. Not only are the streets filled with carriages, but with foot passengers; so that the great thoroughfares of London appear like a moving multitude, or a daily fair. To this deception the endless shops lend their aid; it is, indeed, the remark of strangers in general, that London is a continual fair. The display made by the traders, the numerous wares they have to sell, and the continual crowd that is passing and re-passing, forcibly contribute to the delusion.”

Yet the streets were narrow, or at least we think them so, for we have always to widen them for the perpetually increasing traffic; and the shops could in no ways at all compare with ours. Small panes of glass, and small windows were not calculated to show off the traders' wares to advantage. Even the contemporary guide-books, can give no shops of particular excellence—except those which sold keramic ware. In this, that particular portion of the century was pre-eminent, and one longs to have had a stroll, looking in first at Wedgwood's warehouse in St. James's Square, then at the Worcester China Warehouse, Coventry Street; from thence to the show rooms of Derby china, in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden; and finishing up with Spode's exposition of Staffordshire ware, in Portugal Street.

The streets were not over well scavenged, and, as I have before said, sewers did not obtain much more than in the main thoroughfares. These, too, were watered in the summer, by means of a wooden tank hung below the axle-tree of a pair of wheels, delivering the water from a perforated wooden box at its back. “The Watering Cart is usually drawn by one horse, but on some roads two horses are applied, when the leader is rode by a boy, and the driver sits on the seat upon the cart. In districts contiguous to ponds, the carts are driven into the water, and are filled very expeditiously; but where they have not this convenience, they are obliged to supply them with water from the pump, which is hard labour for two men.”

Ladies' dress—French costume—Madame Recamier—The classical style—“Progress of the toilet”—False hair—Hair-dresser's advertisement—The Royal Family and dress—Curiosities of costume.

IN LADIES' dress more allowance must be made for the caprices of fashion; it always has been their prescriptive right to exercise their ingenuity, and fancy, in adorning their persons; and, save that the head-dress is somewhat caricatured, the next illustration gives a very good idea of the style of dress adopted by ladies at the commencement of 1800, some phases of which we are familiar with, owing to their recent reproduction—such as the décolletée  dress, and clinging, and diaphonous skirt, as well as the long gloves.


However, the eccentricities of English costume, at this period, were as nothing compared with their French sisters. The Countess of Brownlow,[48] speaking, as an eye-witness, says: “The Peace of 1802 brought, I suppose, many French to England; but I only remember one, the celebrated Madame Recamier, who created a sensation, partly by her beauty, but still more by her dress, which was vastly unlike the unsophisticated style, and poke  bonnets, of the English women. She appeared in Kensington Gardens, à l'antique, a muslin dress clinging to her form like the folds of the drapery on a statue; her hair in a plait at the back, and falling in small ringlets round her face, and greasy with huile antique ; a large veil thrown over the head, completed her attire, that not unnaturally caused her to be followed and stared at.”


The French Revolution and early Consulate were eminently classical, as regards ladies' dress; and, as a matter of course, the mode was followed in England, but never to the extent that it was in France. No one can doubt the beauty of this style of dress; but it was one totally unfitted for out-door use, and even for evening dress. It was very slight, and then only fitted for the young and graceful, certainly not for the middle-aged and rotund.




There was a ladies' magazine, which began in 1806, called La belle Assemblée ; and a very good magazine it is. In it, of course, are numerous fashion plates; but I take it that they were then, much as now, intended to be looked at as indications of the fashion, more than the fashion itself. Certainly, in the contemporaneous prints, I have never met with any costume like them, and I much prefer for accuracy of detail, to go to the pictorial satirist, who, if he did somewhat exaggerate, did so on a given basis, an actual costume; and, moreover, threw some life and expression into his groups, which render them better worth looking at, than the meaningless lay-figures, which serve as pegs, on which to hang the clothes of the fashion-monger.

The next three illustrations, which, although designed by an amateur, are etched by Gillray, give us a glimpse of the mysteries of the toilet such as might be sought for in vain elsewhere; they are particularly valuable, as they are in no way exaggerated, and supply details otherwise unprocurable.



After these revelations, no one will be surprised to find that ladies wore false hair. It has been done in all ages: when done, it is no secret, even from casual observers. It was thoroughly understood that it was worn, for was there not always standing witness in the windows of Ross in Bishopsgate Street, and especially in the two bow windows of Cryer, 68, Cornhill—one of which had twenty blocks of gentleman's, and the other twenty-one of lady's perukes. One West-end coiffeur  thus advertises—Morning Post, March 18, 1800:

Correct Imitations of Nature.
“To Ladies of Rank and Fashion.

“T. Bowman's House and Shop being now repaired, is re-opened with every conveniency and accommodation. His new Stock consists of:


“I. Full Dress Head-dresses , made of long hair, judiciously matched, and made to correspond with Nature in every part; the colours genuine; they will dress in any style the best head of hair is capable of; and, in beauty, are far superior. Price 4, 5, 6½, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 20 guineas.

“II. Real Natural Curl Head-dresses. These cannot be described; they must be seen. Price 5 guineas.

“III. Forced Natural Curl Head-dresses  are made of such of the Natural Curled Hairs, as have not a sufficient curl; therefore it is assisted by Art: with fine points, of a soft and silky texture, very beautiful. Price 4 guineas.

“IV. Plain Curled Head-dresses  are made of Hair, originally straight, but curled by baking, boiled, &c. Price 3 guineas.

“V. The Tresse à la Grecque , when put over the short head-dress, is a complete full dress. Price half-a-guinea, 1, 1½, 2, 3, 4, and 5 guineas.

“In order to account for the apparent high prices of the above, it is necessary to observe, that there are as many qualities of Hair as of Silk, Fur, or Wool (the guinea, and the guinea and a half Wigs, as they are called, can only be made of the refuse, or of Hair procured in this Country); all that Bowman uses is collected at Fairs, from the French Peasants, on the Continent, which (from the present [49] convulsed state) is now very dear; as, notwithstanding the artful and false insinuations of interested persons, the importation of last year is not more than one-fifth of former years, and no part of it Men's Hair.

“☞One thing T. B. intreats Ladies to observe, that he does not expose, or dress his best articles on Heads, Poupées, or Dolls, for Show, the common trick at the Cheap Shops, to hide Defects, as many Ladies know to their cost. His Head-dresses are, until they are sold, the same as a Head of Hair that wants cutting; they are then cut and trimmed to suit the Countenance, or fancy, of the wearer. No article is sold that is not in every respect perfect in fitting; and the most disinterested advice given as to what is fashionable, proper, and becoming. Ladies' Hair dressed at 3s. 6d., 5s., and 7s. 6d.—No. 102, New Bond Street.”

A few days later on, the same paper (March 21, 1800) relates a fearful story. “Yesterday a bald-pated lady lost her wig on Westminster Bridge; and, to complete her mortification, a near-sighted gentleman, who was passing at the time, addressed the back of her head, in mistake for her face, with a speech of condolence.”

In June of the same year, the same paper takes the ladies to task for their décolletée dresses. “The ladies continue to uncover their necks behind, and well they may; for, since they are covering them before, they cannot be so much afraid of back-biting.”

The Queen and the Princesses set practical lessons in social economy to the ladies of England. The latter were not ashamed to embroider their own dresses for a drawing-room, and the Queen, in order to encourage home manufactures, used Spitalfields silk, or stuffs made in this country; and “stuff balls,” like our “calico” ditto, were not uncommon.

At the end of the first decade of the century costumes became even more bizarre; although, of course, Les Invisibles  is an exaggeration. The ordinary out-door dress of ladies of this year is shown in the two following illustrations.

[48]“Slight Reminiscences of a Septuagenarian,” by Emma Sophia, Countess of Brownlow, p. 2. London, 1867.

[49]Sic in orig.

“The three Mr. Wiggins's”—The “Crops”—Hair-powdering—The powdering closet—Cost of clothes—Economy in hats—Taxing hats—Eye-glasses—“The Green Man” at Brighton—Eccentricities in dress.

“THE THREE Mr. Wiggins's” are real  “Bond Street Loungers,” and are portraits of Lord Llandaff and his brothers, the Hon. Montagu, and George, Matthews. They were dandies of the purest water, with their white waistcoats and white satin knee-ribbons. The title is taken from a farce by Allingham, called “Mrs. Wiggins,” played at the Haymarket, May 27, 1803. It is very laughable, and turns upon the adventures of an old man named Wiggins, and three Mrs. Wiggins's. It was very popular, and gave the title to another caricature of Gillray's.


As will be seen, they wore powder, but this curious fashion was on its last legs—the Crops, or advanced Whigs, having given it its death blow; still, it struggled on for some years yet. There is a little story told in the Morning Herald  of the 20th of June, 1804, which will bear reproduction: “The following conversation occurred on Monday last, in the Gallery of the House of Commons. A gentleman, very much powdered, happened to sit before another who did not wear any. During the course of the debatethe son of powder  in front, frequently annoyed, by his nodding, or rather his noddle, his neighbour in the rear, for which he apologized, as often as any notice was taken of it. At last, the influence of Morpheus became so powerful, that the rear rank man found his arm perfectly painted with powder, in such a manner as to produce some ignition  in his temper, and repel his annoyer with a little more spunk [47] than he showed on any of the former occasions. This being resented, the other presented his arm, and said, ‘Sir, you should not be angry; for, if I wished for such an ornament as this, I should, this morning, have left that office to my hair-dresser. I am a man of such independence that I would not, willingly, be indebted to you for a single meal, and here you have forced on me a bushel. If I had been your greatest enemy, you could do nothing more severe, than to pulverize  me; and, as I have given you no intentional offence, I must beg of you, in future, not to dust my jacket.' This sally had all the effect for which it was intended, and, instead of exchanging cards, the affair ended, like some senatorial speeches, in a laugh.”

As all the members of the family, including the domestics had to be powdered, most houses of any pretension had a small room set apart for the performance, called “the powdering room,” or closet, where the person to be operated upon went behind two curtains, and, by putting the head between the two, the body was screened from the powder, and the head received its due quantity, without injury to the clothes.

Still, all the world was not rich, and, therefore, with some, economy in clothing was a necessity. As is usual, when a want appears, it is met; and in this case it certainly was, in a (to us) novel manner—Morning Post  January 12, 1805: “Interesting  to the Public. W Welsford, Tailor, No. 142, Bishopsgate Street, respectfully informs the Public, that he continues to pursue the plan, originally adopted by him, six years since, of SUPPLYING CLOTHES , on the following terms:—

Four Suits of Superfine Clothes, the old Suits to be returned, in one year £16 0 0
Five Suits 18 18 0
Six Suits 21 10 0

“Those Gentlemen who should not prefer the above Contract, may be supplied at the undermentioned reduced price:

A Coat of the best Superfine Cloth, complete £2 12 0
A Fine Fancy Waistcoat 0 14 0
Superfine double-milled Cassimere Breeches 1 4 0
Superfine Pantaloons 1 0 0 .”

Nor was this the only practical economy in dress in that age. Hats, which were then, as a rule, made of Beaver, were somewhat expensive articles; and, in looking diligently over the newspapers of the times, I found that here, again, a want arose, and was met. These Beaver hats got shabby, and could be repaired; a firm advertising that “after several years' practice they have brought the Art of Rebeavering Old Hats to greater perfection than it is possible to conceive; indeed, they are the only persons that have brought it to perfection; for, by their method, they can make a gentleman's old hat (apparently not worth a shilling) as good as it was when new.... Gentlemen who prefer Silk hats, may have them silked, and made waterproof.”

Hats were rendered dearer than they would, otherwise, have been, by their having to pay a tax—the only portion of personal clothing which did so. This tax, of course, was evaded; so we find, in the Morning Post, May 20, 1810, the following “Caution to Hatters. A Custom prevailing among hatters, of pasting the stamp upon the lining, by which the same stamp may frequently be sold with different hats successively, they are required by the Commissioners of the Stamp Duties, to conform, in selling hats, to the provisions of the Act of the 36th of George III., cap. 125, secs. 3, 4, 7, 9, which directs that the lining, or inside covering of every hat shall, itself, be stamped; and it is the intention of the Commissioners to prosecute for the penalties of that Act, inflicted on all persons guilty of violating its regulations. Persons purchasing hats are requested to be careful in seeing that they are duly stamped upon the lining itself, and not by a separate piece of linen affixed to it; and reminded that the Act above-mentioned (sec. 10) inflicts a penalty of £10 upon persons buying, or wearing, hats not legally stamped.”


We have seen it recommended to the Bond Street Lounger that it was absolutely necessary for him to have an eye-glass suspended from his button-hole; and the same fashion is mentioned in the Morning Post, August 28, 1806: “The town has been long amused with the quizzing glasses  of our modern fops, happily ridiculed by a door-key in O'Keefe's whimsical farce of The Farmer. A Buck has lately made his appearance in Bond Street, daily, between two and four o'clock, with a Telescope, which he occasionally applies to his eye, as he has a glimpse of some object passing on the other side of the street, worth peeping  at. At the present season, we cannot but recommend this practice to our fashionable readers, who remain in the Metropolis. It indicates friendship, as it shows a disposition to regard  those who are at a distance.”


There have been, in all ages of fashion, some who outvied the common herd in eccentricity of costume; and the early nineteenth century was no exception to the rule. It is true that it had not, in the time of which I write, arisen to the dignity of a “pea-green Haines;” but still, it could show its “Green Man.” “Brighton , September 25, 1806. Among the personages attracting, here, public notice, is an original, or would-be  original, generally known by the appellation of ‘the Green Man.' He is dressed in green pantaloons, green waistcoat, green frock, green cravat; and his ears, whiskers, eyebrows, and chin, are better powdered than his head, which is, however, covered with flour. He eats nothing but green fruits and vegetables; has his rooms painted green, and furnished with a green sofa, green chairs, green tables, green bed, and green curtains. His gig, his livery, his portmanteau, his gloves, and his whip, are all green. With a green silk handkerchief in his hand and a large watch chain, with green seals fastened to the green buttons of his green waistcoat, he parades every day on the Steyne, and in the libraries, erect like a statue, walking, or, rather, moving to music, smiling and singing, as well contented with his own dear self, as well as all those round him, who are not few.” That he had money was evident, for his green food, including, as it did, choice fruit, would sometimes cost him a guinea a day; besides which, he was seen at every place of amusement, and spent his money lavishly. Eventually, he turned out to be a lunatic, and, after throwing himself out of windows, and off a cliff, he was taken care of.

The two preceding illustrations are manifest exaggerations of costume; but the germ of truth which supplies the satire is there; and, with them, the men's dress of this period is closed.

[47]This word has two meanings, which are here played upon. One is spirit  or pluck ; the other is the name indifferently for match splints, or dry, rotten wood.

“The Silent Highway”—Watermen—Their fares—Margate hoys—A religious hoy—The bridges over the Thames—The Pool—Water pageants—Necessity for Docks, and their building—Tunnel at Gravesend—Steamboat on the Thames—Canals.

THERE was, however, another highway, well called “the silent.” The river Thames was then really used for traffic, and numerous boats plied for hire from every “stair,” as the steps leading down to the river were called. The watermen were licensed by their Company, and had not yet left off wearing the coat and badge, now alas! obsolete—even the so-called “Doggett's coat and badge” being now commuted for a money payment. These watermen were not overpaid, and had to work hard for their living. By their code of honour they ought to take a fare in strict rotation, as is done in our present cab ranks—but they were rather a rough lot, and sometimes used to squabble for a fare. Rowlandson gives us such a scene and places it at Wapping Old Stairs.

In 1803 they had, for their better regulation, to wear badges in their hats, and, according to the Times  of July the 7th, the Lord Mayor fined several the full penalty of 40s. for disobeying this order, “but promised, if they brought him a certificate of wearing the badge, and other good behaviour, for one month, he would remit the fine.”

Their fares were not exorbitant, and they were generally given a little more—they could be hired, too, by the day, or half day, but this was a matter of agreement, generally from 7s. to 10s. 6d. per diem; and, in case of misbehaviour the number of his boat could be taken, and punishment fell swiftly upon the offender. Taking London Bridge as a centre, the longest journey up  the river was to Windsor, and the fare was 14s. for the whole boat, or 2s. each person. Down  the river Gravesend was the farthest, the fare for the whole boat being 6s. or 1s. each. These were afterwards increased to 21s. and 15s. respectively. Just to cross the water was cheap enough—1d. below, and 2d. above the bridge, for each person. It would seem, however, as if some did not altogether abide by the legal fares, for “A Citizen” rushed into print in the Morning Post, September 6, 1810, with the following pitiful tale: “The other night, about nine o'clook, I took a boat (sculls [42]) at Westminster Bridge to Vauxhall, and offered the waterman, on landing, two shillings  (four times his fare ) in consideration of having three friends with me; he not only refused to take my money, but, with the greatest insolence, insisted upon having three shillings, to which extortion I was obliged to yield before he would suffer us to leave the shore, and he was aided in his robbery, by his fellows, who came mobbing round us.”

Gravesend was, as a rule, the “Ultima Thule” of the Cockney, although Margate was sometimes reached; but Margate and Ramsgate, to say nothing of Brighton, were considered too aristocratic for tradespeople to frequent, although some did go to Margate. For these long and venturesome voyages, boats called “Hoys” were used—one-masted boats, sometimes with a boom to the mainsail, and sometimes without; rigged very much like a cutter. They are said to have taken their name from being hailed (“Ahoy ”) to stop to take in passengers.


Entering upon any of the Bridges of London, or any of the passages leading to the Thames, being assailed by a group of Watermen, holding up their hands, and bawling out, “Sculls, Sculls! Oars, Oars!”

People, evidently, thought a voyage on one of these “hoys” a desperate undertaking; for we read in a little tract, of the fearsomeness of the adventure. The gentleman who braves this voyage, is a clergyman, and is bound for Ramsgate. “Many of us who went on board, had left our dearer comforts behind us. ‘Ah!' said I, ‘so must it be, my soul, when the “Master comes and calleth for thee.” My tender wife! my tender babes! my cordial friends!'.... Our vessel, though it set sail with a fair wind, and gently fell down the river towards her destined port, yet once, or twice, was nearly striking against other vessels in the river.” And he winds up with, “About ten o'clock on Friday night we were brought safely into the harbour of Margate.... How great are the advantages of navigation! By the skill and care of three men and a boy, a number of persons were in safety conveyed from one part, to another, of the kingdom!”

Sydney Smith in an article (1808) in the Edinburgh Review  on “Methodism” quotes a letter in the Evangelical Magazine. “A Religious Hoy sets off every week for Margate. Religious passengers accommodated. To the Editor. Sir,—It afforded me considerable pleasure to see upon the Cover of your Magazine for the present month, an advertisement announcing the establishment of a packet, to sail weekly between London and Margate, during the season; which appears to have been set on foot for the accommodation of religious characters; and in which ‘no profane conversation is to be allowed.' ... Totally unconnected with the concern, and, personally, a stranger to the worthy owner, I take the liberty of recommending this vessel to the notice of my fellow Christians; persuaded that they will think themselves bound to patronize and encourage an undertaking that has the honour of our dear Redeemer for its professed object.”

There were but three bridges over the Thames—London, Blackfriars, and Westminster. London Bridge was doomed to come down. It was out of repair, and shaky; a good many arches blocked up, and those which were open had such a fall, as to be dangerous to shoot. Most of us can remember Blackfriars Bridge, and a good many Old Westminster Bridge, which was described in a London guidebook of 1802, as one of the most beautiful in the world. The same book says, “The banks of the Thames, contiguous to the bridges, and for a considerable extent, are lined with manufactories and warehouses; such as iron founders, dyers, soap and oil-makers, glass-makers, shot-makers, boat builders, &c. &c. To explore these will repay curiosity: in a variety of them, that powerful agent steam  performs the work, and steam engines are daily erecting in others. They may be viewed by applying a day or two previous to the resident proprietors, and a small fee will satisfy the man who shows the works.”

The “Pool,” as that portion of the river Thames below London Bridge was called, was a forest of masts. Docks were few, and most of the ships had to anchor in the stream. Loading, and unloading, was performed in a quiet, and leisurely manner, quite foreign to the rush, and hurry of steam. Consequently, the ships lay longer at anchor, and, discharging in mid stream, necessitated a fleet of lighters and barges, which materially added to the crowded state of the river. Add to this the numerous rowing boats employed, either for business, or pleasure, and the river must have presented a far more animated appearance than it does now, with its few mercantile, and pleasure, steamers, and its steam tugs, and launches. Gay, too, were the water pageants, the City Companies barges, for the Lord Mayor's Show, the Swan Upping, the Conservation of the Thames, and Civic junkettings generally; and then there were the Government barges, both belonging to the Admiralty, and Trinity House, as brave as gold and colour could make them; the latter making its annual pilgrimage to visit the Trinity almshouses at Deptford Strond—all the Brethren in uniform, with magnificent bouquets, and each thoughtfully provided with a huge bag of fancy cakes and biscuits, which they gave away to the rising generation. I can well remember being honoured with a cake, and a kindly pat on the head, from the great Duke of Wellington.

The pressure of the shipping was so great, extending as it did, in unbroken sequence, from London Bridge to Greenwich, that more dock accommodation was needed: the small ones, such as Hermitage and Shadwell Docks, being far too small to relieve the congested state of the river. In 1799 several plans were put forward for new Docks, and some were actually put in progress. The Bill for the West India Docks was passed in 1799. The first stone was laid on the 12th of July, 1800, and the docks were partly opened in the summer of 1802. The first stone of the London Docks was laid on the 26th of June, 1802, and the docks opened on the 30th of January, 1805; and, on the 4th of March of the same year, the foundation of the East India Docks was laid, and they were opened in 1806.

Early in 1801, a shaft was sunk at Gravesend, to tunnel under the Thames, which, although it ultimately came to nothing, showed the nascent power of civil engineering—then just budding—which has in later times borne such fruit as to make it the marvel of the century, in the great works undertaken and accomplished. Even in 1801, there was a steamboat on the Thames (Annual Register, July 1st): “An experiment took place on the river Thames, for the purpose of working a barge, or any other heavy craft, against tide, by means of a steam engine on a very simple construction. The moment the engine was set to work the barge was brought about, answering her helm quickly, and she made way against a strong current, at the rate of two miles and a half an hour.”

Commerce was developing, and the roads, with the heavy and cumbrous waggons, were insufficient for the growing trade. Railways, of course, were not yet, so their precursors, and present rivals, the canals, were made, in order to afford a cheap, and expeditious, means of intercommunication. In July, 1800, the Grand Junction Canal was opened from the Thames at Brentford, to Fenny Stratford in Buckinghamshire. A year afterwards, on the 10th of July, 1801, the Paddington Canal was opened for trade, with a grand aquatic procession, and some idea may be formed of the capital employed on these undertakings, when we find that even in January, 1804, the Grand Junction Canal had a paid-up capital of £1,350,000, and this, too, with land selling at a cheaper proportional rate than now.

[42]Sculls, as being lighter, were always cheaper than the heavy oars.

“The Pic-nic Club”—Its supporters—Its entertainment—Its short life—Automata and wool pictures—Almack's—Pidcock's Menagerie—“The Invisible Girl”—Vauxhall—Sir Roger de Coverley—Price of admission, &c.—Ranelagh Gardens.

THE THEATRE, although the main source of amusement, was not the only one. There were masquerades at the Pantheon, and a private theatrical club, called the “Pic-nic Club,” of which a Captain Caulfield was the manager. Lady Buckinghamshire—foremost in this, as in gaming—was one of its chief supporters; and it took its name from every one drawing lots, as to what should be his, or her, share of the entertainment. This club consisted of the leaders of fashion—the Prince of Wales, Lords Cholmondeley, Valletort, Carlisle, Spooner, Kirkcudbright, and Derby; and, of course, “old Q,” the Duke of Queensberry. Sir Lumley Skeffington, also, was an ornament to the society; whilst the lady members besides Lady Albina Buckinghamshire, numbered in their ranks, Lady Salisbury, Lady Jersey, and Mrs. Fitzherbert. It was crême de la crême, and I find them chronicled in the Morning Herald  of March 16, 1802, thus: “The Pic-nic  Club met last night for the first time, in the Tottenham Street Rooms.[63] The Entertainment commenced with a Prologue by Colonel Greville, which was followed by a French Proverb. An Act of the Bedlamites, a piece translated from the French, for the occasion, was then performed. A French Proverb, and an Epilogue, succeeded; and the whole succeeded with a Pic-nic  Supper, provided from a tavern.[64] The company was not numerous, though 300 cards of invitation were issued. Madame Parisot,[65] disapproving of the dilettanti  project, refused to take any part in the performance. It being apprehended that the public peace might be disturbed by this irregular assemblage, the Bow Street officers held themselves in readiness to act, during the whole of the evening, but happily there was no occasion for their services.”

The society afterwards moved to the Argyle Rooms, then most highly proper, and fashionable. There were several caricatures of this society from Gillray's pencil, one of which (the next illustration) I reproduce.

Here Gillray has given, as a contrast, Lord Valletort “the neatest of little beaux,” and the smallest man in the Club, and Lord Cholmondeley, who was very tall and stout. Lady Buckinghamshire, whose embonpoint  Gillray never spared, plays the piano, and Lady Salisbury, who from her love of hunting, was frequently satirized under the name of Diana, performs on a hunting horn. The fashionable papers of the day were, during the season, seldom without a paragraph of this society, but it did not last long, and its death is recorded in the Times, February 28, 1803: “The Pic-nic Society is at an end. Many of its members, at a late meeting, wished to continue the Theatrical amusements, but no person would undertake the management of them.”


In 1801, there were to be seen in Spring Gardens, Maillardet's Automata, where a wooden lady performed on the piano; also Miss Linwood's Exhibition of Needlework, first at the Hanover Square Rooms, and afterwards at Saville House, Leicester Square, where were exhibited marvels of crewel work. There are one or two of her pictures in the South Kensington Museum; but her “Salvator Mundi,” after Carlo Dolci, for which she refused 3,000 guineas, she bequeathed to the Queen. She had a rival, whose name, however, has not been so well perpetuated—vide  the Morning Post, June 4, 1800: “The wool pictures, so much talked of among the connoisseurs, are certainly executed with very great taste. Miss Thompson has brought her art to very great perfection,” &c. These were shown in Old Bond Street.

Then, for the extremely select, during the season, was Almack's [66] which, then, was not quite so exclusive as afterwards. Morning Herald, April 27, 1802: “Almack's, King Street, St. James' Square. James and William Willis most respectfully inform the Nobility and Gentry, the first Subscription Ball  will be on Thursday, the 29th instant, under the patronage of her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire, the Marchioness of Townshend, and the Countess of Westmoreland. Tickets One Guinea each.” The same newspaper has also an advertisement of a new Panorama of Paris. This was by a M. de Maria; and there was also another, “Barker's Panorama,” in Leicester Square.

Those who liked such exhibitions could see the Phantasmagoria, at the Lyceum Theatre, where the Magic Lantern was exhibited with novel effects, such as moving eyes and limbs, but they had not yet attained the height of “dissolving views.” Pidcock's Menagerie [67] was the only substitute they then had for our “Zoo,” and was situate in Exeter ‘Change. It is thus described in a guide to London, 1802: “A collection of divers beasts and birds, only exceeded in rarity by those of the Royal Menagerie, in the Tower.”

The “Invisible Girl” was exhibited in Leicester Square, and was “a globe of glass suspended by a ribbon, under which four tubes are adapted, but they do not communicate therewith, and are likewise insulated; by these, conversation is carried on with an invisible lady, who answers every question, breathes on you, and tells every visitor whatever they hold in their hands, in an instant. This exhibition is open from ten o'clock until six. Price of admittance, two shillings and sixpence.”

There were two famous out-door places of amusement, now no more, namely, Vauxhall, and Ranelagh. Vauxhall, was formerly called Foxhall, or Spring Garden, and is thus described in No. 383 of the Spectator : “We were now arrived at Spring Garden, which is excellently pleasant at this time of the year. When I considered the fragrancy of the walks and bowers, with the choir of birds that sung upon the trees, and the loose tribe of people that walked under their shades, I could not but look upon the place as a kind of Mahometan paradise. Sir Roger told me it put him in mind of a little coppice by his house in the country, which his chaplain used to call an aviary of nightingales. ‘You must understand,' says the knight, ‘that there is nothing in the world that pleases a man in love, so much as your nightingale. Ah, Mr. Spectator, the many moonlight nights that I have walked by myself, and thought on the widow by the music of the nightingale!' He, here, fetched a deep sigh, and was falling into a fit of musing, when a mask, who came behind him, gave him a gentle tap upon the shoulder, and asked him if he would drink a bottle of mead with her? But the knight being startled at so unexpected a familiarity, and displeased to be interrupted in his thoughts of the widow, told her, ‘she was a wanton baggage;' and bid her go about her business.”


These gardens opened about the middle of May, and closed about the end of August; they were only open three days a week—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and the price of admission was 3s. 6d., the concert commencing at eight, the attendance averaging from 5,000 to 15,000. At the end of the first part of the concert, about 10 p.m., a curtain was drawn up, and disclosed “a view of a bridge, a water mill, and a cascade; while coaches, waggons, soldiers, and other figures were exhibited as crossing that bridge.” The orchestra, which I reproduce, was a blaze of light, and, altogether, in the gardens, at that time, were 37,000 lamps. Occasionally, a display of fireworks took place; whilst, to add to the attractions of the gardens, there were recesses, and alcoves, provided, where suppers, and refreshment, could be procured.

Ranelagh Gardens were in Chelsea, about where the Barracks now stand. The amusements provided were almost identical with Vauxhall, but, although considered a place of summer resort, its season commenced in February, and closed at the end of May, or the middle of June. The general price of admission was half a crown; but, on a masquerade night, it rose to 10s. 6d. or £1 1s., but that included supper and wine. There were particular fête nights, notably of the Pic-nic Society, when the price of admission varied from 5s. to 7s. 6d.

[63]Used also for the concerts of Ancient Music.

[64]This marks, as much as anything, the manners of the times. Fancy the upper ten, nowadays, ordering their supper from a tavern!

[65]The famous ballet-dancer of that time.

[66]Otherwise Willis's Rooms.

[67]This Collection was sold in March, 1810—vide  Morning Post, March 22, 1810: “The sale at Pidcock's, Exeter 'Change, has been well attended. The skeleton of the famous elephant was put up at 20 guineas, and knocked down at 55. The skeleton of the spermaceti whale, sixty-six feet long, which formerly appeared in Rackstraw's Museum, sold for nine guineas. Many scarce and beautiful birds sold at low prices, and the whole collection, consisting of 205 lots, produced about £140.”

Smuggling—An exciting smuggling adventure—The Brighton fishermen and the Excise—“Body-snatching”—“Benefit of Clergy”—Tyburn tickets—Death the penalty for many crimes—“Last dying Speech”—The “condemned pew” at Newgate—Horrible execution at Jersey—The new drop—An impenitent criminal.

THE OFFENCE of Smuggling, now all but died out, was common enough, and people in very good positions in life thought it no harm to, at least, indirectly participate in it. The feats of smugglers were of such every-day occurrence, that they were seldom recorded in the papers, unless there were some peculiar circumstances about them, such as shooting an excise man, or the like. In one paper, however, the Morning Post, September 3, 1801, there are two cases, one only of which I shall transcribe. “A singular circumstance occurred on Tuesday last, at King Harry Passage, Cornwall. A smuggler, with two ankers of brandy on the horse under him, was discovered by an exciseman, also on horseback, on the road leading to the Passage. The smuggler immediately rode off at full speed, pursued by the officer, who pressed so close upon him, that, after rushing down the steep hill to the Passage, with the greatest rapidity, he plunged his horse into the water, and attempted to gain the opposite shore. The horse had not swam half way over, before, exhausted with fatigue, and the load on his back, he was on the point of sinking, when the intrepid rider slid from his back, and, with his knife, cut the slings of the ankers, and swam alongside his horse, exerting himself to keep his head above water, but all to no purpose; the horse was drowned, and the man, with difficulty, reached the shore. The less mettlesome exciseman had halted on the shore, where he surveyed the ineffectual struggle, and, afterwards, with the help of the ferryman, got possession of the ankers.”

Sometimes it was done wholesale, see the Morning Herald, February 17, 1802: “Last Thursday morning, the Brighton fishermen picked up at sea, and brought to shore, at that place, upwards of five hundred casks of Contraband spirits, of which the Revenue officers soon got scent, and proceeded, very actively, to unburden the fishermen. This landing and seizing continued, with little intermission, from six to ten, to the great amusement of upwards of two thousand people, who had became spectators of the scene. When the officers had loaded themselves with as many tubs as they could carry, the fishermen, in spite of their assiduity, found means to convey away as many more, and by that means seemed to make a pretty equal division. The above spirits, it appeared, had been thrown overboard by the crew of a smuggling vessel, when closely chased by a Revenue Cutter.”

We may claim that one detestable offence, then rife, is now extinct. I allude to “Body-snatching.” It is true that anatomists had, legally, no way of procuring subjects to practise on, other than those criminals who had been executed, and their bodies not claimed by their friends; but, although the instances on record are, unfortunately numerous, I have already written of them in another book, and once is quite sufficient.

Of one or two legal curiosities now extinct, I may mention “Benefit of Clergy,” an institution established in our early history, in order to screen a clerk, or learned man,from the consequences of his crime. In case of felony, one had but to plead ability to read, and prove it, and the sentence was commuted to branding the hand with a hot iron. It was a privilege much abused, but it lingered on until 1827, when it was abolished by the Act, 7 and 8 Geo. IV. cap. 28.

Another curious custom, now also done away with, we meet with, in an advertisement in the Morning Herald, March 17, 1802: “Wanted , one or two Tyburn Tickets, for the Parish of St. George's, Hanover Square. Any person or persons having the same to dispose of, may hear of a purchaser,” &c. These tickets were granted to a prosecutor who succeeded in getting a felon convicted, and they carried with them the privilege of immunity from serving all parochial offices. They were transferable by sale (but only once), and the purchaser enjoyed its privileges. They were abolished in 1818. They had a considerable pecuniary value, and in the year of their abolition, one was sold for £280!

“Tyburn” reminds us of the fearful numbers sentenced to death at that time. The law sadly wanted reformation in this respect; besides murder, coining, forgery, &c., many minor offences were punishable with death, although all convicted and sentenced were not executed; some being reprieved, and punished with transportation. George III. had a great dislike to capital punishment, and remitted the sentence to as many as he could. Take as an example of the awful severity of the law, only one sessions at the Old Bailey, ending September 24, 1801: “Sentence of death was then passed upon Thomas Fitzroy, alias Peter Fitzwater, for breaking and entering the dwelling-house of James Harris, in the daytime, and stealing a cotton counterpane. Wm. Cooper  for stealing a linen cloth, the property of George Singleton, in his dwelling-house. J. Davies  for a burglary. Richard Emms  for breaking into the dwelling-house of Mary Humphreys, in the daytime, and stealing a pair of stockings. Richard Forster  for a burglary. Magnus Kerner  for a burglary, and stealing six silver spoons. Robert Pearce for returning from transportation. Richard Alcorn  for stealing a horse. John Nowland and Rd. Freke  for burglary and stealing four tea spoons, a gold snuff-box, &c. John Goldfried  for stealing a blue coat. Joseph Huff, for stealing a lamb, and John Pass  for stealing two lambs.”


In fact, the “Tyburn tree” was kept well employed, and yet, apparently, the punishment of death hardly acted as a deterrent. A sad, very sad street cry, yet one I have often heard, was of these poor wretches; true, it had been made specially to order, in Catnach's factory for these articles, in Monmouth Court, Seven Dials; but still it was the announcement of another fellow-creature having been done to death.

The executions which would arise from the batch of sentences I have just recorded, would take place at Newgate. The last person hanged at Tyburn, having suffered, November 7, 1783, and the above illustration shows in a peculiarly graphic manner, the condemned sermon, which was preached to those about to die on the morrow. To make the service thoroughly intelligible to them, and to impress them with the reality of their impending fate, a coffin was set in the midst of the “condemned pew.”


Crowds witnessed the executions, which took place in the front of Newgate, and on one occasion, on the 23rd of February, 1807, an accident occurred, by the breaking of the axle of a cart, whereon many people were standing; they were not only hurt, but the crowd surged over them, and it ended in the death of twenty-eight people, besides injuries to many more.

We have seen, in February, 1885, a murderer reprieved, because the drop would not act; but in the following instance, the criminal did suffer, at all events, actual pain. It happened at Jersey, on the 11th of May, 1807, and is thus chronicled in the Annual Register  for that year: “After hanging for about a minute and a half, the executioner suspended himself to his body; by whose additional weight the rope extended in such a manner that the feet of the criminal touched the ground. The executioner then pulled him sideways, in order to strangle him; and being unable to effect this, got upon his shoulders; when, to the no small surprise of the spectators, the criminal rose straight upon his feet, with the hangman upon his shoulders, and loosened the rope from his throat with his fingers. The Sheriff ordered another rope to be prepared; but the spectators interfered, and, at length, it was agreed to defer the execution till the will of the magistrates should be known. It was subsequently determined that the whole case should be transmitted to His Majesty, and the execution of the sentence was deferred till His Majesty's pleasure should be known.”

A platform which suddenly disappeared from under the criminal seems to have been invented in 1807, for we read under 27th of July of that year, that John Robinson was executed at York “on the new drop,” but something of the same kind had certainly been used in 1805.

As a rule, the poor creatures died creditably; but there is one case to the contrary, which is mentioned in the European Magazine, vol. xlvii. pp. 232-40. A man named Hayward was to be hanged for cutting and maiming another. The scene at the execution is thus described: “When the time for quitting the courtyard arrived, Hayward was called to a friend to deliver him a bundle, out of which he took an old jacket, and a pair of old shoes, and put them on. ‘Thus,' said he, ‘will I defeat the prophecies of my enemies; they have often said I should die in my coat  and shoes, and I am determined to die in neither.' Being told it was time to be conducted to the scaffold, he cheerfully attended the summons, having first ate some bread and cheese, and drank a quantity of coffee. Before he departed, however, he called out, in a loud voice, to the prisoners who were looking through the upper windows at him, ‘Farewell, my lads, I am just a going off; God bless you!' ‘We are sorry for you,' replied the prisoners. ‘I want no more of your pity,' rejoined Hayward; ‘keep your snivelling till it be your own turn.' Immediately on his arrival upon the scaffold, he gave the mob three cheers, introducing each with a ‘Hip, ho!' While the cord was preparing he continued hallooing to the mob.

“It was found necessary, before the usual time, to put the cap over his eyes, besides a silk handkerchief, by way of bandage, that his attention might be entirely abstracted from the spectators.... He then gave another halloa, and kicked off his shoes among the spectators, many of whom were deeply affected at the obduracy of his conduct.”

The Clarke Scandal—Biography of Mrs. Clarke—Her levées—Her scale of prices for preferments—Commission of the House of Commons—Exculpation of the Duke of York—His resignation—Open sale of places—Caution thereon—Duels—That between Colonel Montgomery and Captain Macnamara.

IT WOULD be utterly impossible, whilst writing of things military, of this part of the century, to ignore the Clarke Scandal—it is a portion of the history of the times.

Mrs. Mary Ann Clarke was of humble parentage, of a lively and sprightly temperament, and of decidedly lax morality. She had married a stonemason named Clarke, who became bankrupt; she, however, cleaved to him and his altered fortunes, until his scandalous mode of living induced her to separate from him, and seek a livelihood as best she might. Her personal attractions, and lively disposition, soon attracted men's notice, and after some time she went upon the stage, where she essayed the rôle  of Portia. There must have been some fascination about her, for each of her various lovers rose higher in the social scale, until, at last, she became the mistress of the Duke of York, and was installed in a mansion in Gloucester Place. Here the establishment consisted of upwards of twenty servants. The furniture is described as having been most magnificent. The pier glasses cost from 400 to 500 pounds each, andher wine glasses, which cost upwards of two guineas apiece, sold afterwards, by public auction, for a guinea each.


She kept two carriages, and from eight to ten horses, and had an elegant mansion at Weybridge, the dimensions of which may be guessed, by the fact that the oil cloth for the hall cost fifty pounds. The furniture of the kitchen at Gloucester Place cost upwards of two thousand pounds.


These things swallowed up a great deal of money, and, although the Duke had a fine income, yet he had the capacity for spending it; nor only so—could contract debts with great facility, so that the money which he nominally allowed Mrs. Clarke (for it was not always paid), was insufficient to provide for such extravagance, and other means had to be found. This was done by her using the influence she possessed over the Duke, and getting him to grant commissions in the army, for which the recipients paid Mrs. Clarke a lower price than the regulation scale. The satirical prints relating to her are most numerous. I only reproduce two. Her levée was supposed not only to be attended by military men, but by the clergy; and it was alleged that applications had been made through her both for a bishopric, and a deanery, and that she had procured for Dr. O'Meara, the privilege of preaching before Royalty. But it was chiefly in the sale of army commissions that she dealt, thus causing young officers to be promoted “over the heads” of veterans. Certainly her scale of prices, compared with those of the regulation, were very tempting, resulting in a great saving to the recipient of the commission.

Mrs. Clarke's Price.Regulation Price.
A Majority £900 £2,600
A Captaincy 700 1,500
A Lieutenancy 400 550
An Ensigncy 200 400


I have no wish to go into the minute details of this scandal, but on January 27, 1809, G. Lloyd Wardell,[78] Esq., M.P. for Oakhampton, began his indictment of the Duke of York, in this matter, before the House of Commons; and he showed that every sale effected through Mrs. Clarke's means, was a robbery of the Half Pay Fund, and he asked for a Parliamentary Committee to investigate the affair; this was granted, and Mrs. Clarke, and very numerous witnesses were examined. The lady was perfectly self-possessed, and able to take care of herself; and the evidence, all through, was most damaging to the Duke. Mrs. Clarke is thus described in the Morning Post  of Friday, February 3, 1809: “Mrs. Clarke, when she appeared before the House of Commons, on Wednesday, was dressed as if she had been going to an evening party, in a light blue silk gown and coat, edged with white fur, and a white muff. On her head she wore a white cap, or veil, which at no time was let down over her face. In size she is rather small, and does not seem to be particularly well made. She has a fair, smooth skin, and lively blue eyes, but her features are not handsome. Her nose is rather short and turning up, and her teeth are very indifferent; yet she has the appearance of great vivacity of manners, but is said not to be a well-bred or accomplished woman. She appears to be about thirty-five years of age.”


The Duke took the extraordinary course of writing a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, whilst the matter was sub judice, in which he asserted his innocence; and, foreseeing what was to follow, gave out that for the future he meant to be a very good boy, and that he would retrench in his expenditure, in order to attempt to liquidate his debts.

The House eventually found that there was nothing in the evidence to prove personal corruption, or criminal connivance on the part of His Royal Highness; but, although thus partially whitewashed, the public opinion against him was too strong, and he placed his resignation, as Commander in Chief, in the King's hands.

Places were openly bought and sold, although it was known to be illegal, such advertisements as the following being common—Morning Post, June 14, 1800:

Public Offices.

A Young Man  of good Connections, well educated in writing and accounts, and can find security, wishes for a Clerkship in any of the Public Offices. Any Lady or Gentleman having interest to procure such a situation, will be presented with the full value of the place. The greatest secrecy and honour will be observed.”

So common were they, that it was found necessary to issue notices on the subject. Here is one:

Custom House, London, December 7, 1802.

Whereas  Advertisements have, at different times, appeared in the Newspapers, offering Sums of Money for the procuring of Places, or Situations, in the Customs, inserted either by persons not aware of the serious consequences which attach upon transactions of this nature, or by persons of a different description, with a view to delude the ignorant, and unwary: The Commissioners of His Majesty's Customs think it necessary to have it generally made known that, in addition to the punishment which the Common Law would inflict upon the offence of bribing, or attempting to bribe, any person entrusted with the disposal of any Office, the Statute passed in the fifth and sixth year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth, inflicts the penalty of incapacity to hold such office in the person purchasing, and the forfeiture of office in the person selling; and that in case any such place or situation, either shall have been, or shall hereafter be procured, or obtained, by such Corrupt means, they are determined to enforce the penalties of the Law, and to prosecute the offenders with the utmost severity. And they do hereby promise a Reward of One Hundred Pounds, to any person or persons who will give information and satisfactory proof, of any place or situation in the Customs being so obtained, so that the parties concerned therein may be proceeded against accordingly.”

Duels were most frequent, so much so, as not to excite any interest in the student of history of that time, for it is difficult to pick up a newspaper and not find one recorded. The reasons are not always given, but it did not take much to get up a duel; any excuse would serve. As an example, let us take the duel between Colonel Montgomery, and Captain Macnamara, at Chalk Farm (April, 1803) in which the former was killed, and the latter wounded. Lord Burghersh, in giving evidence before the coroner's jury, said: “On coming out of St. James's Park on Wednesday afternoon, he saw a number of horsemen, and Colonel Montgomery among them; he rode up to him; at that time, he was about twenty yards from the railing next to Hyde Park Gate. On one side of Colonel Montgomery was a gentleman on horseback, whom he believed was Captain Macnamara. The first words he heard were uttered by Colonel Montgomery, who said: ‘Well, Sir, and I will repeat what I said, if your dog attacks mine, I will knock him down.' To this, Captain Macnamara replied, ‘Well, Sir, but I conceive the language you hold is arrogant, and not to be pardoned.' Colonel Montgomery said: ‘This is not a proper place to argue the matter; if you feel yourself injured, and wish for satisfaction, you know where to find me.'” And so these two poor fools met, and one was killed—all because two dogs fought, and their masters could not keep their temper!

[77]Mrs. Clarke is saying:

“Ye Captains and ye Colonels, ye parsons wanting place,
Advice I'll give you gratis, and think upon your case,
If there's any possibility, for you I'll raise the dust,
But then you must excuse me, if I serve myself the first.”

[78]Commonly known as Colonel Wardell, or Wardle. His real military rank was Major, in which capacity he served in Sir W. W. Wynne's regiment during the rebellion in Ireland.

The Press—Morning Post  and Times —Duty on newspapers—Rise in price—The publication of circulation to procure advertisements—Paper warfare between the Times  and the Morning Post —The British Museum—Its collection, and bad arrangement—Obstacles to visitors—Rules relaxed—The Lever Museum—Its sale by lottery—Anatomical Museums of the two Hunters.

OF THE London Daily papers that were then existing, but two are now alive—the Morning Post  (the Doyen  of the daily press) and the Times. They were heavily taxed, in 1800, with a 3d. stamp per copy. In July, 1804, this was made 3½d.; pamphlets, half-sheet, ½d.; whole sheet, 1d.; an Almanac had to have a shilling stamp; and a perpetual Calendar, one of 10s. And this oppressive stamp, with a comparatively limited circulation, meant death to a newspaper. In 1809, the Morning Post, and other papers, boldly went in for a halfpenny rise, and gave its reasons—May 20: “Since the settlement with Government took place, which fixed the price at sixpence, every article necessary for the composition of a Newspaper, has increased in price to an unprecedented extent. Paper has risen upwards of fifty per cent.; Types upwards of eighty per cent.; Printing Ink thirty-five per cent.; Journeymen's wages ten per cent., and everything else in the same proportion. It is therefore unnecessary for us to observe, that the advance of One Halfpenny per Paper will go but a short way towards placing the Proprietors in the same situation, in respect to profits allowed, in which they were left by the settlement of 1797; and, under all these considerations, the Public, we trust, will not deem us unreasonable in availing ourselves of the parliamentary provision that has just been made in favour of all Newspapers. The Bill will receive the Royal Assent this day, and on Monday, the Price of the Morning Post ,in common with that of other Newspapers, will be Sixpence Halfpenny.”

Then, as now, the backbone of a Newspaper was its advertisements, and then also, did each Newspaper laud itself as being the best advertising medium, owing to its superior circulation. We, who are accustomed to see huge posters setting forth sworn affidavits that the daily circulation of some London newspapers amounts to some quarter of a million if not more, will feel some surprise when we learn that the Morning Post, of June 10, 1800, the then leading paper, published a sworn return (and exulted over their number and success) of 10,807 newspapers printed in the week June 2-7, or a daily average of 1,800 copies.

The World, at one time a rival, had published its circulation when it reached 1,500 daily, and thus laid claim to be considered a good advertising medium; and this was when newspapers were selling at 3d. each. In 1800 they were 6d. each, and the extra tax had diminished the circulation of the Morning Post  during the previous summer by one-third, which fall they claim to have recovered, and to have raised their circulation in five years from 400 to 1,800 daily. In June, 1796, the Times  published its number; and again in 1798, when it confessed to a fall of 1,400 in its daily sale.

In 1806 there was a very pretty little war as to the circulation of rival newspapers.

The Times  opened the ball on the 15th of November by inserting a paragraph, “Under the Clock”: “We are under the necessity of requesting our Correspondents and Advertisers not to be late in their communications, if intended for the next day's publication; as the extraordinary Sale of THE TIMES, which is decidedly superior to that of every other Morning Paper, compels us to go to press at a very early hour.

The Morning Post, November 17th (which number is unfortunately missing in the British Museum file), challenged the statement—to which the Times  replied on the 18th: “This declaration of our Sale, a Morning Paper of yesterday has thought proper to contradict, and boldly claims the superiority. We have only to say on the subject, that, if the Paper will give an attested account of its daily Sale for the last two Months, we will willingly publish it.

And now the strife was waxing hot, for the Morning Post  on the 21st of November wrote: “We admit the sale of his Paper may, for the present, be many hundreds beyond any other, except the Morning Post , the decided superiority of which, we trust, he will no longer affect to dispute.... We pledge ourselves to Prove  that the regular sale of the Morning Post  is little short of a thousand per day superior to that of his paper.”

Of course the Times, of the 22nd of November, calls this a preposterous boast, and wishes statistics for the last two months.

Thus goaded, the Morning Post, of the 24th of November, issued affidavits from its printers and publisher, that its circulation, even at that dead season, was upwards of 4,000 daily, and that during the sitting of Parliament it reached, and exceeded 5,000, the editor remarking: “What is meant by regular Sale, is the Number which is daily served to Subscribers.... If those who, by the Low Expedient of selling their Papers by the noisy nuisance of Horn Boys, take into their accounts the extra Papers so sold, it is not for us to follow so unworthy an example; to such means the Morning Post  never has recourse.”

The Times, November 25th, has the last of this wordy warfare, declaring that its circulation sometimes reached 7,000 or 8,000 a day: and I should not have introduced this episode, had it not have given such a perfect insight into the working of the press of that date, which would have been unobtainable but for this quarrel.

The British Museum then stood where now it does, only Montague House, in which its treasures were then enshrined, was totally unfitted for their reception—for instance, a collection of Egyptian antiquities were kept in two sheds in the courtyard. The whole of the antiquities, and rarities, were in sad want of arrangement, and classification, and as many impediments, as possible, were placed in the way of visitors.

Take what it was like in 1802: “Persons who are desirous of seeing the Museum, must enter their name and address, and the time at which they wish to see it, in a book kept by the porter, and, upon calling again on a future day, they will be supplied with printed tickets, free of expense, as all fees are positively prohibited. The tickets only serve for the particular day and hour specified; and, if not called for the day before, are forfeited.

“The Museum is kept open every day in the week, except Saturday, and the weeks which follow Christmas day, Easter, and Whitsunday. The hours are from nine till three, except on Monday and Friday, during the months of May, June, July, and August, when the hours are only from four till eight in the afternoon.

“The spectators are allowed three hours for viewing the whole—that is, an hour for each of the three departments. One hour for the Manuscripts and Medals; one for the natural and artificial productions, and one for the printed books. Catalogues are deposited in each room, but no book must be taken down except by the officer attending, who will also restore it to its place. Children are not admitted.

“Literary characters, or any person who wishes to make use of the Museum for purposes of study and reference, may obtain permission, by applying to the trustees, or the standing committee. A room is appointed for their accommodation, in which, during the regular hours, they may have the use of any manuscript or printed book, subject to certain regulations.”

On the 8th of June, 1804, the Trustees somewhat modified the arrangements, and instead of visitors having to call twice about their tickets, before their visit, they might be admitted the day of application (Monday, Wednesday, or Friday only) subject to the following rule:

“Five Companies, of not more than 15 persons each, may be admitted in the course of the day; namely, one at each of the hours of 10, 11, 12, 1, and 2. At each of these hours the directing officer in waiting shall examine the entries in the book; and if none of the persons inscribed be exceptionable, he shall consign them to the attendant, whose turn it will be to conduct the companies through the House.

“Should more than fifteen persons inscribe their names, for a given hour, the supernumeraries will be desired to wait, or return at the next hour, when they will be admitted preferably to other applicants.”

The Museum Gardens were a great attraction, and were much visited. So much, indeed, were they thought of, that, in an advertisement of a house to let, it is stated, as a great recommendation that it commands “a view of the Museum Gardens, and a part of Hampstead Heath.”

There were other museums, notably the Leverian Museum, the collection of Sir Ashton Lever, of Alkington, near Manchester, a virtuoso  of the first water. He spent very large sums on this collection, which consisted mainly of specimens of natural history (over 5,000 stuffed birds), fossils, shells, corals, a few antiquities, and the usual country museums' quota of South Sea Island weapons, and dresses. There was much rubbish, as we should term it—according to the Gentleman's Magazine  of May, 1773 (p. 200), like a double-headed calf, a pig with eight legs, two tails, one backbone, and one head. Some pictures of birds in straw very natural, a basket of paper flowers, a head of his present Majesty, cut in Cannel Coal; a drawing of Indian ink of a head of a late Duke of Bridgwater, &c., &c.

The collection had, of course, much increased, when in 1785, Sir Ashton Lever, shortly before his death, disposed of it by lottery. The winner, Mr. Parkinson, built “a very elegant and well-disposed structure for its reception, about a hundred yards from the foot of Blackfriars Bridge, on the Surrey side.”[68] The admission was one shilling. Presumably it did not pay, for it was sold by auction in 1806. The sale lasted sixty-five days. The number of lots being 7,879, and the catalogue occupying 410 octavo pages. Then there were the museums of the two Hunters—that of Dr. William Hunter, F.S.A., &c. In the period of which I treat, his anatomical specimens, coins, &c., were exhibited at the Theatre of Anatomy, in Great Windmill Street, whence, according to his will, they were after a certain time transferred to the University of Glasgow, where they now are. His brother John, who was also a F.R.S., had a grand collection of anatomical preparations, which was purchased by the Government for £15,000, and deposited, pro bono publico, in the College of Surgeons.

[68]Afterwards known as “The Rotunda.”

Men's dress—the “Jean de Bry” coat—Short coats fashionable at watering-places—“All Bond Street trembled as he strode”—Rules for the behaviour of a “Bond Street Lounger.”

OF DRESS, either of men, or women, there is little to chronicle during this ten years. The mutations during a similar period, at the close of the previous century, had been so numerous, and radical, as to be sufficient to satisfy any ordinary being; so that, with the exception of the ordinary changes of fashion, which tailors, and milliners will impose upon their victims, there is little to record.

At the commencement of the year 1800, men wore what were then called “Jean de Bry” coats, so named from a French statesman, who was somewhat prominent during the French Revolution—born 1760, died 1834. The accompanying illustration is somewhat exaggerated, not so much as regards the padding on the shoulders, as to the Hessian boots, which latter might, almost, have passed a critical examination, had it not have been that they are furnished with bells, instead of tassels. The coat was padded at the shoulders, to give breadth, and buttoned tight to show the slimness of the waist; yet, as this, under ordinary circumstances, would have hidden the waistcoat—the coat had to be made short-waisted.


Then, the same year, only towards its close, came a craze for short coats, or jackets, resembling the Spencers, but they did not last long, being only fashionable at Brighton, Cheltenham, &c. There seems to have been very little change until 1802, when a modification of the Jean de Bry coat was worn, with the collar increasing very much in height, and boots were discarded in walking.

The portrait of Colonel Duff, afterwards Lord Fyfe, on the next page, is only introduced as an exemplar of costume, and not as a “Bond Street Lounger,” of whom we hear so much, and, as not only may many of my readers like to know something about him, but his character is so amusingly sketched by a contemporary, and the account gives such a vivid picture of the manners of the times, that I transcribe it. It is from the Morning Post  of the 6th of February, 1800; and, after premising that the Lounger is comfortably settled at an hotel, the following instructions are given him, as being necessary to establish his character as a young man of fashion. “In short, find fault with every single  article, without exception, d—— n the waiter  at almost regular intervals, and never let him stand one moment still, but ‘keep him eternally  moving;' having it in remembrance that he is only an unfortunate, and wretched  subordinate, of course, a stranger  to feelings which are an ornament to Human Nature; with this recollection on your part that the more illiberal the abuse he has from you, the greater will be his admiration of your superior  abilities, and Gentleman -like qualifications.


Confirm him in the opinion he has so justly imbibed, by swearing  the fish  is not warm  through; the poultry is old, and ‘tough as your Grandmother '; the pastry is made with butter, rank Irish ; the cheese, which they call Stilton, is nothing but pale Suffolk ; the malt liquor damnable, a mere infusion of malttobacco, and cocculus Indicus ; the port musty ; the sherry sour ; and the whole of the dinner and dessert were ‘infernally infamous,' and, of course, not fit for the entertainment of a Gentleman ; conclude the lecture with an oblique hint, that without better  accommodations, and more ready attention, you shall be under the necessity of leaving the house for a more comfortable situation. This spirited  declaration at starting  will answer a variety of purposes, but none so essential as an anticipated objection to the payment of your bill whenever it may be presented. With no small degree of personal ostentation, give the waiter your name ‘because you have ordered your letters there, and, as they will be of importance, beg they may be taken care of, particularly those written in a female hand, of which description, many may be expected.

“Having thus introduced you to, and fixed you, recruit-like, in good quarters, I consider it almost unnecessary to say, however bad  you may imagine  the wine, I doubt not your own prudence  will point out the characteristic necessity for drinking enough, not only to afford you the credit of reeling to bed by the aid of the banister, but the collateral comfort of calling yourself ‘damned queer' in the morning, owing entirely to the villainous adulteration of the wine, for, when mild  and genuine, you can take off three  bottles ‘without winking or blinking.' When rousing from your last somniferous reverie in the morning, ring the bell with no small degree of energy, which will serve to convince the whole family you are awake; upon the entrance of either chamberlain  or chambermaid, vociferate half a dozen questions in succession, without waiting for a single reply. As, What morning is it? does it hail, rain, or shine? Is it a frost? Is my breakfast ready? Has anybody enquired for me? Is my groom here? &c., &c. And here it becomes directly in point to observe, that a groom  is become so evidently necessary to the ton  of the present day (particularly in the neighbourhood of Bond Street) that a great number of Gentlemen keep a groom, who cannot (except upon credit ) keep a horse ; but then, they are always upon ‘the look out for horses;' and, till they are obtained, the employment of the groom  is the embellishment of both ends  of his master, by first dressing his head, and then polishing his boots and shoes.

“The trifling ceremonies of the morning gone through, you will sally forth in search of adventures, taking that great Mart of every  virtue, ‘Bond Street ,' in your way. Here it will be impossible for you (between the hours of twelve  and four ) to remain, even a few minutes, without falling in with various ‘feathers of your wing,' so true it is, in the language of Rowe, ‘you herd together,' that you cannot fear being long alone. So soon as three of you are met, adopt a Knight of the Bath's motto, and become literally ‘Tria juncta in uno,' or, in other words, link your arms so as to engross the whole breadth of the pavement; the fun  of driving fine women, and old dons, into the gutter, is exquisite, and, of course, constitutes a laugh  of the most humane  sensibility. Never make these excursions without spurs, it will afford not only presumptive  proof of your really  keeping a horse, but the lucky opportunity of hooking  a fine girl by the gown, apron, or petticoat; and, while she is under the distressing mortification of disentangling herself, you and your companions can add to her dilemma by some indelicate innuendo, and, in the moment of extrication, walk off with an exulting exclamation of having ‘cracked the muslin.' Let it be a fixed rule never to be seen in the Lounge  without a stick, or cane ; this, dangling in a string, may accidentally get between the feet of any female in passing; if she falls, in consequence, that can be no fault of yours, but the effect of her indiscretion.

“By way of relief to the sameness of the scene, throw yourself loungingly into a chair at Owen's,[45] cut up a pine  with the greatest sang froid, amuse yourself with a jelly or two, and, after viewing with a happy indifference  whatever may present itself, throw down a guinea  (without condescending to ask a question) and walk off; this will not only be politically inculcating an idea of your seeming  liberality upon the present; but paving the way to credit  upon a future  occasion. I had hitherto omitted to mention the necessity for previously providing yourself with a glass  (suspended from your button-hole by a string) the want of which will inevitably brand you with vulgarity, if not with indigence; for the true (and, formerly, ‘unsophisticated') breed of Old John Bull  is so very much altered by bad crosses, and a deficiency in constitutional stamina, equally affecting the optic nerves, that there are very few men of fashion can see clear beyond the tip  of the nose.

“At the breaking up of the parade, stroll, as it were, accidentally into the Prince of Wales's Coffee house, in Conduit Street, walk up with the greatest ease, and consummate confidence to every box, in rotation; look at everybody with an inexplicable hauteur, bordering upon contempt; for, although it is most likely you will know little  or nothing  of them, the great object is, that they should have a perfect knowledge  of you. Having repeatedly, and vociferously, called the waiter when he is most engaged, and, at each time asked him various questions equally frivolous and insignificant, seem to skim the surface of the Morning Post  (if disengaged), humming the March  in Blue Beard,[46] to show the versatility  of your genius; when, finding you have made yourself sufficiently conspicuous, and an object of general attention (or rather attraction), suddenly leave the room, but not without such an emphatical  mode of shutting  the door, as may afford to the various companies, and individuals, a most striking proof of your departure.”

[45]This probably was the shop of Owen and Bradley  whose names first appear in the London Directory  of 1812, as fruiterers, 77, New Bond Street.—J.A.

[46]“The grand Dramatic Romance of Blue Beard; or, Female Curiosity.” The Words by George Colman the younger—the Music composed and selected by M. K. (Michael Kelly). London, 1798.

Betty's imitators—Miss Mudie, “The Young Roscia”—Her first appearance in London—Reception by the audience—Her fate—Ireland's forgery of “Vortigern and Rowena”—Fires among the theatres—Destruction of Covent Garden and Drury Lane.

BETTY'S success raised up, of necessity, some imitators—there were other Roscii, who soon disappeared; and, as ladies deny the sterner sex the sole enjoyment of all the good things of this world, a Roscia sprang into existence—a Miss Mudie, who entered on her theatrical career, even earlier than Master Betty. Morning Post, July 29, 1805: “The Young Roscia of the Dublin Stage (only seven years old), who is called the Phenomenon, closed her engagement there on Monday last, in the part of Peggy, in the Country Girl, which she is stated to have pourtrayed with ‘wonderful archness, vivacity, and discrimination.'”

Children, such as this, however precocious, are, of course simply ridiculous, and we are not astonished to find fun being made of them. Says the Morning Post, October 21, 1805: “A young Lady was the other day presented by her nurse and mamma to one of our managers for an engagement. She came recommended by the testimony of an amateur, that she was a capital representative of the Widow Belmour. The manager, after looking at her from head to foot, exclaimed, ‘But how old is Miss?' ‘Seven years old, sir, next Lammas,' answered the nurse, ‘bless her pretty face.' ‘Oh! Mrs. Nurse,' replies the manager, gravely, ‘too old, too old ; nothing above five years  will now do for Widow Belmour.'”

Old playgoers had not quite lost all their wits, although they had been somewhat crazy on the subject of young Roscius; but he was then fourteen, whilst this baby was only seven. However, the Phenomenon  appeared, and duly collapsed, the story of which I should spoil did I not give it in the original. Here it is, as a warning to ambitious débutantes Morning Post, November 25, 1805:

Covent Garden. The play of the Country Girl  was announced at this house, on Saturday evening, for the purpose of introducing to a London audience, a very young lady, a Miss Mudie , in the character of Miss Peggy. Miss Mudie has played, as it has been reported, but we doubt the truth of the report, with great success at Dublin, Liverpool, Birmingham, &c., where she has been applauded and followed nearly as much as Master Betty. The people of London seem to have been aware that these reports were unfounded, for no great degree of curiosity prevailed to see her on Saturday.

“The audience received this child very favourably on her entrance. She is said to be ten years of age, but in size she does not look to be more than five. She is extremely diminutive, and has not the plump, comely countenance of an infant: her nose is very short; her eyes not well placed; she either wants several teeth, or is, perhaps, shedding them; and she speaks very inarticulately. It was difficult to understand what she said. When she attempts expression of countenance, her features contract about the nose, and eyes, in a way that gives reason to suppose she is older than her person denotes. She seems to have a young body with an old head.

“In the first passages of her part, she appeared to give some satisfaction, and was loudly applauded; an indulgent audience wishing, no doubt, to encourage her to display her full powers; but when she was talked of as a wife, as a mistress, and an object of love, the scene became so ridiculous that hissing and horse laughing ensued. She made her début  before Miss Brunton , a tall, elegant, beautiful woman, and looked in size just as if Miss Brunton's  fan had been walking in before her; Miss Mudie  the married woman, and Miss Brunton  the maiden! When she was with her husband, Mr. Murray , no very tall man, she did not reach higher than his knee, and he was obliged to stoop even to lay his hand upon her head, and bend himself down double to kiss her; when she had to lay hold of his neckcloth to coax him, and pat his cheeck, he was obliged to stoop down all fours that she might reach him! The whole effect was so out of nature, so ludicrous, that the audience very soon decided against Miss Mudie. At first they did not hiss when she was on the stage, from delicacy; but, in her absence, hissed the performance, to stop the play, if possible. But as she persevered confidently they hissed her, and at last called vehemently, Off! off! Miss Mudie was not, however, without a strong party to support her; but the noise increased to that degree in the latter scenes that not a word could be heard, on which Miss Mudie walked to the front of the stage with great confidence and composure, not without some signs of indignation, and said:

“‘Ladies and Gentlemen ,

“‘I know nothing I have done to offend you, and has set (sic ) those who are sent here to hiss me; I will be very much obliged to you to turn them out.'

“This speech, which, no doubt had been very imprudently put into the infant's mouth, astonished the audience; some roared out with laughter, some hissed, others called Off! off! and many applauded. Miss Mudie did not appear to be in the slightest degree chagrined or embarrassed, and she went through the scene with as much glee as if she had been completely successful. At the end of it the uproar was considerable, and a loud cry arising of Manager! Manager! Mr. Kemble  came forward. In substance he said:

“‘Ladies and Gentlemen ,

“‘Miss Mudie having performed at various provincial theatres with great success, her friends thought themselves authorised in presenting her before you. It is the duty, and the wish, of the proprietors of this House to please you; and to fulfil both, was their aim in bringing forward Miss Mudie. ‘The Drama's laws, the Drama's patrons give'—Miss Mudie intends to withdraw herself from the stage; but I entreat you to hear her through the remainder of her part.'”

She came on the stage again, but the audience would not listen to her, and Miss Searle had to finish her part. What became of this self-possessed child I know not; according to the Morning Post, April 5, 1806, she joined a children's troupe in Leicester Place, where, “though deservedly discountenanced at a great theatre, she will, no doubt, prove an acquisition to the infant establishment.”

Late in the last century, the literary and theatrical world had been thrown into a state of high excitement, by the announcement of the discovery of an original play by Shakespeare, called “Vortigern and Rowena,” which was acted at Drury Lane, and condemned, as spurious, the first night; but belief in it lasted for some time, and the question was of such importance, that the Morning Post, in 1802, took the suffrages of the fashionable world, as to its authenticity. The question was set at rest in 1805 by the forger himself, one William Henry Ireland, who had the audacity to publish a book [56]in which he unblushingly details all his forgeries, and his method of doing them. It is an amusing volume, and has recently been utilized by a novelist.[57] The absolute forgeries are still in existence, including the pseudo-lock of Shakespeare's hair; and they changed owners some few years since, when they were sold by auction at very low prices.

There was a great fatality among theatres; there were but few of them, and they were continually being burnt down. The Opera House in 1789; The Pantheon 1792; Astley's Amphitheatre, September 17, 1794. This theatre was unlucky. It again fell a victim to the flames, September 1, 1803; and Astley, on this occasion, seems to have met with an accident—Times, September 7, 1803: “Fortunately for Mr. Astley, almost the whole of his plate was at Lower Esher, from which place he reached the Amphitheatre in one hour and a quarter. It was not till he came to Vauxhall that his horse fell; the same presentiment which foreran the former conflagration of his property, the moment he heard the gate bell ring, he exclaimed to Mrs. Astley, ‘They come to tell me that the Theatre is on fire.'”

The Surrey Theatre, or, as it was then called, the Royal Circus, was destroyed by fire August 12, 1805; and Covent Garden was burnt down September 20, 1808—the fire being supposed to have been caused by a piece of wadding from a gun fired during the performance of Pizarro. It was, of course, a tremendous conflagration, and unfortunately resulted in loss of life, besides the loss of many original scores of Handel, Arne, and other eminent composers, together with Handel's organ.

Plans for a new theatre were soon got out, and Mr. Smirke (afterwards Sir Robert, to whom we owe the beautiful British Museum, and the General Post Office) was the architect. The first stone was laid, with much Masonic pomp, on the 31st of December, 1808, by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Sussex, and a distinguished circle of guests, being present. The weather was unpropitious, but immense crowds of people were present; and it is curious to learn, as showing the defective police of the time, that “The Horse Guards patrolled the streets, and several of the Volunteer Corps did duty on the occasion.”

Within two months from the above date, Drury Lane Theatre was totally destroyed by fire. On the 24th of February, about 11 p.m., it was discovered, and it did not take long before the whole was in a blaze; not for want of precautions, for it seems they had adopted the best accepted preventitives of a great theatrical conflagration known to modern architects, viz., an iron curtain, and a huge reservoir of water on the top of the building—the latter being described as “a mere bucket full to the volume of fire on which it fell, and had no visible effect in damping it,” which may be comforting for modern playgoers to remember. Nor was it long in burning; by 5 a.m. “the flames were completely subdued”—that is, there was nothing left to burn. Very little was saved, only a bureau and some looking-glasses, from Mrs. Jordan's dressing-room, and the “Treasury” books and some papers. Sheridan took his loss, outwardly, with great sang froid, one anecdote affirming that, on a remark being made to him that it was a wonder he could bear to witness the destruction of his property, he replied, “Why! where can a man warm himself better than at his own fire-side?” However, by his energy, he soon found temporary premises for his company, and, having obtained a special license from the Lord Chamberlain, he took the Lyceum and opened it on the 25th of September, or, within a week of the fire.

[56]“The Confessions of William Henry Ireland, containing the Particulars of his Fabrication of the Shakespeare Manuscripts.” London, 1805.

[57]“Talk of the Town,” by James Payn.

The roads—Modern traffic compared with old—The stage coach—Stage waggons—Their speed—Price of posting—The hackney coach—Sedan chairs—Horse riding—Improvement in carriages.

PERHAPS as good a test as any, of the civilization of a nation, is its roads. From the mere foot-tracks of the savage, to the broader paths necessarily used when he had brought the horse into subjugation, mark a distinct advance. When the wheeled carriage was invented, a causeway, artificially strengthened, must be made, or the wheels would sink into the soft earth, and make ruts, which would need extra power in order to extricate the vehicle; besides the great chance there was of that vehicle coming to utter grief. Settlers in Africa and Australia can yet tell tales of the inconveniences of a land without roads.


To the Romans, as for much else of our civilization, we are indebted for our knowledge of road making—nay, even for some of our roads still existing—but these latter were the main arteries of the kingdom, the veins had yet to be developed. That roads mean civilization is apparent, because without them there could be little or no intercommunication between communities, and no opportunity for traffic and barter with each other. We, in our day, have been spoilt, by, almost suddenly, having had a road traffic thrown open to us, which renders every village in our Isles, of comparatively easy access, so that we are apt to look with disfavour on the old times. Seated, or lying, in the luxurious ease of a Pullman car—going at sixty miles an hour—it is hard to realize a tedious journey by waggon, or even an outside journey by the swifter, yet slow, mail or stage coach, with its many stoppages, and its not altogether pleasant adventures. For, considering the relative numbers of persons travelling, there were far more accidents, and of a serious kind, than in these days of railways. It was all very well, on the introduction of steam to say, “If you are upset off a coach, why there you are! but if you are in a railway accident, where are you?” The coach might break down, as it often did, a wheel come off, or an axle, or a pole break—or the coach might be, as it ofttimes was, overloaded, and then in a rut—why, over all went. The horses, too, were apt to cast shoes, slip down, get their legs over the traces, or take to kicking, besides which the harness would snap, either the traces, or the breeching, or the reins,and these terrors were amplified by the probability of encountering highwaymen, who were naturally attracted to attack the stage coaches, not only on account of the money and valuables which the passengers carried with them, but because parcels of great price were entrusted to the coachman, such as gold, or notes and securities, for country banks, remittances between commercial firms, &c.


In the illustration showing a stage coach, it will be seen that there is a supplementary portion attached, made of wicker-work, and called “the basket.” This was for the reception of parcels. The mail coaches, which took long, direct routes, will be spoken of under the heading of Post Office.

Inconvenient to a degree, as were these stage coaches, with exposure to all changes of weather, if outside—or else cooped up in a very stuffy inside, with possibly disagreeable, or invalid, companions—they were the only means of communication between those places unvisited by the mail coach, and also for those which required a more frequent service. They were very numerous, so much so that, although I began to count them, I gave up the task, as not being “worth the candle.”

But it was not every one who could afford to travel by stage coach, and for them was the stage waggon, or caravan, huge and cumbrous machines, with immensely broad wheels, so as to take a good grip of the road, and make light of the ruts. These machines, and the few canals then in existence, did the inland goods carriage of the whole of England. Slow and laborious was their work, but they poked a few passengers among the goods, and carried them very cheaply. They were a remnant of the previous century, and, in the pages of Smollett, and other writers, we hear a great deal of these waggons.

To give some idea of them, their route, and the time they used to take on their journey, I must make one example suffice, taken haphazard from a quantity. (1802.)

Tunbridge Wells, and Tunbridge Original Waggon. To the Queen's Head Inn, Borough.

“By J. Hunt.

“Late Chesseman and Morphew. Under an establishment of more than sixty years. Sets out from the New Inn, Tunbridge Wells, every Monday and Thursday morning, and arrives at the above Inn, every Tuesday and Friday morning, from whence it returns the same days at noon, and arrives at Tunbridge Wells every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, and from September 1st to December 25th a Waggon sets out from Tunbridge Wells every Wednesday and Saturday morning, and arrives at the above Inn every Monday and Thursday morning, from whence it returns the same days at noon, and arrives at Tunbridge Wells every Tuesday and Friday afternoon, carrying goods and parcels to and from—

Tunbridge Wells.Mayfield.
Langton.Mark Cross.
Rotherfield.Southboro, &c.

“No Money, Plate, Jewels, Writings, Watches, Rings, Lace, Glass, nor any Parcel above Five Pounds Value, will be accounted for, unless properly entered, and paid for as such.

“Waggons or Carts from Tunbridge Wells to Brighton, Eastbourne, &c., occasionally.”

Now Tunbridge is only thirty-six miles from London, and yet it took over twenty-four hours to reach.

Of course, those who had carriages of their own, or hired them, could go “post,”i.e., have fresh horses at certain recognized stations, leaving the tired ones behind them. This was of course travelling luxuriously, and people had to pay for it. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, there had been, well, not a famine, but a great scarcity of corn, and oats naturally rose, so much so that the postmasters had to raise their price, generally to 1s. 2d. per horse per mile, a price which seems to have obtained until the latter part of 1801, when among the advertisements of the Morning Post, September 23rd, I find, “Four Swans, Waltham Cross. Dean Wostenholme begs leave most respectfully to return thanks to the Noblemen and Gentlemen who have done him the honour to use his house, and to inform them that he has lowered the price of Posting to One Shilling per mile,” &c.

And there was, of course, the convenient hackney coach, which was generally the cast-off and used up carriage of some gentleman, whose arms, even, adorned the panels, a practice (the bearing of arms) which still obtains in our cabs. The fares were not extravagant, except in view of the different values of money. Every distance not exceeding one mile 1s., not exceeding one mile and a half, 1s. 6d., not exceeding two miles 2s., and so on. There were many other clauses, as to payment, waiting, radius, &c., but they are uninteresting.

A little book [37] says: “The hackney coaches in London were formerly limited to 1,000; but, by an Act of Parliament, the number is increased. Hackney coachmen are, in general, depraved characters, and several of them have been convicted as receivers of stolen goods,” and it goes on to suggest their being licensed.

The old sedan chair was not obsolete, but was extensively used to take ladies to evening parties; and, as perhaps we may never again meet with a table of the chairmen's charges, I had better take it:


For the first hour, if paid by an hour 1 6
For every hour afterwards 0 6
For any distance not exceeding one mile 1 0
For one mile to one mile and a half 1 6
For every half mile afterwards 0 6

In fact, their fares were almost identical with those of the hackney coachmen, and offending chairmen were subject to the same penalties.

The roads were kept up by means of turnpikes, exemption from payment of which was very rare; royalty, the mails, military officers, &c., on duty, and a few more, were all.

The main roads were good, and well kept; the bye, and occupation roads were bad. But on the main roads there was plenty of traffic to pay for repairs. It was essentially a horsey age—by which I do not mean to infer that our grand and great-grandfathers, copied their grooms either in their dress or manners, as the youth of this generation aspire to do; but the only means of locomotion for any distance was necessarily on horseback, or by means of horse-flesh. Every man could ride, and all wore boots and breeches when out of doors, a style of equine dress unsurpassed to this day.

The carriages were improving in build; no longer being low, and suspended by leather straps, they went to the other extreme, and were perched a-top of high C springs. The Times, January 17, 1803, says: “Many alterations have lately taken place in the building of carriages. The roofs are not so round, nor are the bodies hung so low, as they have been for the last two years. The circular springs have given place to whip springs; the reason is, the first are much more expensive, and are not so light in weight as the others. No boots are now used, but plain coach boxes, with open fore ends. Barouche boxes are now the ton. During the last summer ladies were much oftener seen travelling seated on the box than in the carriage. Hammer-cloths, except on state occasions, are quite out of date, and the dickey box is following their example. To show the difference between the carriages of the present day, and those built ten years ago, it is only necessary to add that in the year 1793 the weight of a fashionable carriage was about 1,900 pounds; a modern one weighs from 1,400 to 1,500.”

[37]“A View of London; or, The Stranger's Guide, 1803-4.”

[38]“The Picture of London for 1802.”

Condition of the streets of London—Old oil lamps—Improvement in lamps—Gas—Its introduction by Murdoch—Its adoption in London by Winsor—Opposition to it—Lyceum and other places lit with it—Its gradual adoption—The old tinder box—Improvements thereon.


LONDON was considered the best paved city in the world, and most likely it was; but it would hardly commend itself to our fastidious tastes. The main thoroughfares were flagged, and had kerbs; sewers under them, and gratings for the water to run from the gutters into them—but turn aside into a side street, and then you would find a narrow trottoir  of “kidney” stones on end, provocative of corns, and ruinous to boots; no sewers to carry off the rain, which swelled the surcharged kennels until it met in one sheet of water across the road. Cellar flaps of wood, closed, or unclosed, and, if closed, often rotten, made pitfalls for all except the excessively wary. Insufficient scavenging and watering, and narrow, and often tortuous, streets, did not improve matters, and when once smallpox, or fever, got hold in these back streets, death held high carnival. Wretchedly lit, too, at night, by poor, miserable, twinkling oil lamps, flickering with every gust, and going out altogether with anything like a wind, always wanting the wicks trimming, and fresh oil, as is shown in the following graphic illustration.


In this, we see a lamp of a most primitive description, and that, too, used at a time when gas was a recognized source of light although not publicly employed. Of course there were improved oil lamps—notably those with the burners of the celebrated M. Argand—and science had already added the reflector, by means of which the amount of light could be increased, or concentrated. In the Times  of May 23, 1803, is a description of a new street lamp: “A satisfactory experiment was first made on Friday evening last at the upper end of New Bond Street, to dissipate the great darkness which has too long prevailed in the streets of this metropolis. It consisted in the adaptation of twelve newly invented lamps with reflectors, in place of more than double that number of common ones; and notwithstanding the wetness of the evening, and other unfavourable circumstances, we were both pleased, and surprised to find that part of the street illuminated with at least twice the quantity of light usually seen, and that light uniformly spread, not merely on the footways, but even to the middle of the street, so that the faces of persons walking, the carriages passing, &c., could be distinctly seen; while the lamps and reflectors themselves, presented no disagreeable glare to the eye on looking at them, a fault which has been complained of in lamps furnished with refracting lenses.”

Here, then, we have a perfectly independent testimony of the inefficiency of the then method of lighting; and, when once complaint begins, the remedy soon follows.

Gas was known, and was steadily fighting its way. Murdoch, who was a metal founder at Redruth, had been experimenting upon gas made from different materials, and in 1792 he lit up with it, his house and offices. Nay, more, he nearly earned the fame, and consequent punishment, of being a wizard; for he not only had a steam carriage, but in this uncanny conveyance he would take bladders of this new inflammable air, and actually burn a light without a wick. From a scientific curiosity, he naturally wished to develop it into a commercial undertaking, by which he might reap a substantial reward for his ingenuity; and in 1795 he proposed to James Watt to take out a patent for gas, instead of oil, as an illuminating medium. In 1797 he lit up Watt's new foundry at Old Cumnock in Ayrshire; and in 1798 Boulton and Watt's premises at Soho, Birmingham, were lit with this new light; and they, on the peace of Amiens, in 1802, gave the townsfolk of Birmingham something to stare at, and talk about, for they illuminated the whole front of their house with gas. Murdoch, in 1806, received the gold (Rumford) medal of the Royal Society for a communication detailing how he had successfully applied gas to illuminate the house and factory of Messrs. Phillips and Lee at Manchester.

In London we are chiefly indebted to a German, named Frederic Albert Winzer (or, as he afterwards Anglicised his name, Winsor) for introducing gas, and we have to thank his indomitable perseverance for its ultimate adoption. In 1804, he took out a patent for the manufacture of both gas and coke, and attempted to start a society called “The National Light and Heat Company.” He wrote several works not much larger than pamphlets, notably one on “The superiority of the new Patent Coke over the use of coals” (1804); and “To be sanctioned by an Act of Parliament. A National Light and Heat Company, for providing our streets and houses with light and heat, where is proved that the destruction of smoke would open unto the Empire of Great Britain new sources of inexhaustible wealth.”


Of course it met with ridicule everywhere. People would be asphyxiated. The place would be blown up. Even scientific men were not agreed as to its value, and Sir Humphrey Davy openly laughed at it. But Winsor, in 1803 and 1804, demonstrated the possibility of lighting houses, &c., by means of the new light at the Lyceum Theatre, which was not then used for dramatic purposes, but more for lectures; and as there could be no possibility of confuting his facts, he necessarily gained proselytes, and money was forthcoming in support of his schemes. The first experiment in street lighting was in August, 1807, when Golden Lane Brewery, and a portion of Beech, and Whitecross Streets were lit. This is shown in the illustration, and, by its means, we see the shape and arrangement, of the first street gas lamps. That the gas then in use was very impure, and offensive to the smell, there can be no doubt; but that it ever produced the effects so comically, and graphically depicted, cannot be believed.

It is generally thought that Ackerman's Fine Art Repository, in the Strand, was the first shop in London lit with gas, in 1810; but there is an earlier notice of its being so used (Morning Post, June 15, 1805): “The shop of Lardner and Co., the corner of the Albany, Piccadilly, is illuminated every evening with the Carbonated Hydrogen Gas, obtained from the decomposition of Coals. It produces a much more brilliant light than either oil or tallow, and proves, in a striking manner, the advantages to be derived from so valuable an application.” There is a story, for which I cannot find any authority, that at Ackerman's a titled lady was so pleased with the light, that she wanted to take it home with her in the carriage.

The Light and Heat Company died a natural death, but the indefatigable Winsor started the Gaslight and Coke Company, and attempted, in 1809, to obtain a Charter for the same; but it was refused by Parliament, which gave rise to the following jeu d'esprit : “Gaslight Company. The shareholders in this most promising  concern are somewhat disconcerted at the decision of the House of Commons. Some think that it will prove ‘a bottle of smoke ', while others are of opinion that it will at last ‘end in air.'”

The Gaslight and Coke Company had offices in Pall Mall, and in the street, in front, lamps for public use were once more exhibited, this time for the benefit of the West-end loungers. In the engraving a gentleman explains to his fair companion thus: “The coals being steamed, produces tar or paint for the outside of houses, the smoke passing thro' water is depriv'd of substance, and burns, as you see.” On hearing this peculiarly elementary scientific explanation, an Irishman exclaimed, “Arrah, honey, if this man brings fire thro' water, we shall soon have the Thames and the Liffey burnt down, and all the pretty little herrings and whales burnt to cinders.”


In 1810 the Gaslight and Coke Company got their Charter, and thenceforward the use of gas sprang into life, and although it may be on its last legs, as an illuminating power, there is plenty of vitality in it yet.

Winsor was buried at Kensal Green, and on his tombstone was cut the text from the Gospel of St. John, chap. i. ver. 9: “That  was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

To light this gas or, indeed, to initiate any illuminating or heating power, recourse was only to be had to the old, original tinder-box and matches; now things utterly of the past, possibly to be found in museums, as in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, labelled “Method of procuring light in the Nineteenth Century.” This primitive arrangement consisted of a flat round box of iron or brass, resembling closely a pocket tobacco-box, which contained tinder. This tinder was made of charred rag, i.e., linen or cotton rags burnt, but smothered so as not to smoulder out in “the parson and clerk” of our childhood, and the means of obtaining light therefrom was as follows:

The lid of the tinder-box being taken off, a piece of flint or agate, and another of hard steel, were forcibly struck together, so as to produce sparks. When one of these fell upon the tinder, it had to be carefully tended, and blown, until it became a patch of incandescence, sufficient to light a thin splint of wood some six inches long, having either end pointed, and tipped with sulphur. You might be successful at first trial, or, if the tinder was not well burnt, your temper might be considerably tried. This was the ordinary mode, but there was another—made with a pistol lock, having, in lieu of the priming-pan, a reservoir of tinder. These two were combined with a small candlestick which bore a wax-taper, and are frequently to be met with in bric-à-brac  shops. Sometimes, also, in lieu of tinder, amadou  or German tinder, made from a fungus, was used, or else thick and bibulous paper was soaked in a strong solution of nitrate of potash, and both were ignited by a spark from the flint and steel.

The first attempt to improve upon this machine, which was nearly as primitive as an aboriginal “fire stick,” came from France, where, in 1805, M. Chancel invented a very pretty apparatus for producing light. It consisted of a bottle containing asbestos, which was saturated with strong sulphuric acid, and flame was produced by bringing this into contact with matches of the ordinary type as to shape or very slightly modified, coated at the ends with sulphur, and tipped with a mixture of chlorate of potash and sugar. The phosphorous match, too, was just beginning to be known. The following advertisement probably refers to M. Chancel's invention or some cognate method of producing fire—Morning Post, December 27, 1808: “The success of the Instantaneous Light and Fire Machines daily increases, and the Manufactory in Frith Street, Soho, has become now the daily resort of persons of the first fashion and consequence in town, who express themselves highly gratified with the utility and ingenuity of these philosophical curiosities.”

Police—Dr. Colquhoun's book—The old Watchmen—Their inadequacy admitted—Description of them—Constables—“First new mode of robbing in 1800”—Robbery in the House of Lords—Whipping—Severe sentence—The Stocks—The Pillory—Severe punishment—Another instance.

THE POLICE authorities very seldom attempted to interfere with these duels; indeed, practically there was no police. There were some men attached to the different police courts, and there were the parochial constables with their watchmen; but, according to our ideas, they were the merest apology for a police. Indeed, our grandfathers thought so themselves, and Dr. Colquhoun wrote a book upon the inefficiency of the police, which made a great stir. It was felt that some better protection was needed, as may be seen from two contemporary accounts: “Two things in London that fill the mind of the intelligent observer with the most delight, are the slight restraints of the police, and the general good order. A few old men armed with a staff, a rattle, and a lantern, called watchmen, are the only guard throughout the night against depredation; and a few magistrates and police officers the only persons whose employment it is to detect and punish depredators; yet we venture to assert that no city, in proportion to its trade, luxury, and population, is so free from danger, or from depredations, open or concealed, on property.”


“The streets of London are better paved, and better lighted than those of any metropolis in Europe; we have fewer street robberies, and scarcely ever a midnight assassination. Yet it is singular, where the police is so ably regulated, that the watchmen, our guardians of the night, are, generally, old decrepit men, who have scarcely strength to use the alarum which is their signal of distress in cases of emergency.”


Thus we see that even contemporaries were not enthusiastic over their protectors; and a glance at the two accompanying illustrations fully justify their opinion. “The Microcosm of London,” from which they are taken, says: “The watch is a parochial establishment supported by a parochial rate, and subject to the jurisdiction of the magistrates: it is necessary to the peace and security of the Metropolis, and is of considerable utility: but that it might be rendered much more useful, cannot be denied. That the watch should consist of able-bodied men, is, we presume, essential to the complete design of its institution, as it forms a part of its legal description: but that the watchmen are persons of this character, experience will not vouch; and why they are so frequently chosen from among the aged, and incapable, must be answered by those who make the choice. In the early part of the last century, an halbert was their weapon; it was then changed into a long staff; but the great coat and the lantern are now accompanied with more advantageous implements of duty—a bludgeon, and a rattle. It is almost superfluous to add, that the watch-house is a place where the appointed watchmen assemble to be accoutred for their nocturnal rounds, under the direction of a Constable, whose duty, being taken by rotation, enjoys the title of Constable of the night. It is also the receptacle for such unfortunate persons as are apprehended by the watch, and where they remain in custody till they can be conducted to the tribunal of a police office, for the examination of the magistrate.


The following little anecdote further illustrates the inefficiency of these guardians of the peace—Morning Herald, October 30, 1802: “It is said that a man who presented himself for the office of watchman to a parish at the West-end of the town, very much infested by depredators, was lately turned away from the vestry with this reprimand: ‘I am astonished at the impudence of such a great,sturdystrong  fellow as you, being so idle  as to apply for a Watchman's  situation, when you are capable of labour!'”

Part of their duty was to go their rounds once every hour, calling out the time, and the state of the weather, and this was done to insure their watchfulness, but it must also have given warning to thieves. This duty done, they retired to a somewhat roomy sentry box, where, should they fall asleep, it was a favourite trick of the mad wags of the town to overturn them face downwards. Being old and infirm, they naturally became the butts and prey of the bucks, and bloods, in their nocturnal rambles; but such injuries as they received, either to their dignity, or persons were generally compounded for by a pecuniary recompense.

The Constable, was a superior being, he was the Dogberry, and was armed with a long staff.

Crime then was very much what it is now; there is very little new under the sun in wickedness—still, the Morning Post  of February 3, 1800, has the

First new mode of Robbing

in 1800.

“A few days past, a man entered a little public-house, near Kingston, called for a pint of ale, drank it, and, whilst his host was away, put the pot in his pocket, and, without even paying for the beer, withdrew. The landlord, returning, two other men, who were in the room, asked him whether he knew the person who had just left the house? ‘No,' he replied. ‘Did he pay for the ale?' said they. ‘No,' answered the other. ‘Why, d—n him,' cried one of the guests, ‘he put the pot in his pocket.' ‘The devil, he did!' exclaimed the host, ‘I will soon be after him.'

“Saying this, he ran to the door, and the two men with him. ‘There, there, he's going round the corner now!' said one, pointing. Upon which the landlord immediately set off, and, cutting across a field, quickly came up to him. ‘Holloa! my friend,' said he, ‘you forgot to pay for your beer.' ‘Yes,' replied the other, ‘I know that!' ‘And, perhaps you know, too,' added the host, ‘that you took away the pot? Come, come, I must have that back again, at any rate.' ‘Well, well,' said the man, and put his hand into his pocket, as if about to return the pot; but, instead of that, he produced a pistol, and robbed the ale-house keeper of his watch and money.

“This might seem calamity enough for the poor man; but, to fill up his cup of misfortune to the brim, he found, on reaching his home, that the two he had left behind, had, during his absence, plundered his till, stolen his silver spoons, and decamped.”

One of the most audacious robberies of those ten years, was one which took place on September 21, 1801, when the House of Lords was robbed of all the gold lace, and the ornaments of the throne, the King's arms excepted, were stripped, and carried away. Nor was the thief ever found.

For minor offences the punishments were, Whipping, the Stocks, and the Pillory; for graver ones, Imprisonment, Transportation, and Death.

As a specimen of the offence for which Whipping was prescribed, and the whipping itself, take the following—Morning Post, November 4, 1800: “This day, being hay-market day at Whitechapel, John Butler, pursuant to his sentence at the last General Quarter Sessions, held at Clerkenwell, is to be publicly whipped from Whitechapel Bars, to the further end of Mile End, Town, the distance of two miles, for having received several trusses of hay, knowing them to have been stolen, and for which he gave an inferior price.”

The Stocks were only for pitiful rogues and vagabonds, and for very minor offences; but the Pillory, when the criminals were well known, and the crime an heinous one, must have been a very severe punishment; for, setting aside the acute sense of shame which such publicity must have awoke in any heart not absolutely callous, the physical pain, if the mob was ill-tempered, must have been great. As a proof, I will give two instances.

The first is from the Morning Herald, January 28, 1804: “The enormity of Thomas Scott's offence, in endeavouring to accuse Capt. Kennah, a respectable officer, together with his servant, of robbery, having attracted much public notice, his conviction, that followed the attempt, could not but be gratifying to all lovers of justice. Yesterday, the culprit underwent a part of his punishment; he was placed in the pillory, at Charing Cross, for one hour. On his first appearance, he was greeted by a large mob, with a discharge of small shot, such as rotten eggsfilth, and dirt  from the streets, which was followed up by dead cats, rats, &c., which had been collected in the vicinity of the Metropolis by the boys in the morning. When he was taken away to Cold Bath Fields, to which place he is sentenced for twelve months, the mob broke the windows of the coach, and would have proceeded to violence [79] had the Police Officers not been at hand.”


The other is taken from the Annual Register, September 27, 1810: “Cooke, the publican of the Swan, in Vere Street, Clare Market, and five others of the eleven miscreants convicted of detestable practices, stood in the pillory in the Haymarket, opposite to Panton Street. Such was the degree of popular indignation excited against these wretches, and such the general eagerness to witness their punishment that by ten in the morning, all the windows and even the roofs of the houses were crowded with persons of both sexes; and every coach, waggon, hay-cart, dray, and other vehicle which blocked up great part of the streets, were crowded with spectators.


“The Sheriffs, attended by the two City marshals, with an immense number of constables, accompanied the procession of the prisoners from Newgate, whence they set out in the transport caravan, and proceeded through Fleet Street and the Strand; and the prisoners were hooted and pelted the whole way by the populace. At one o'clock, four of the culprits were fixed in the pillory, erected for, and accommodated to, the occasion, with two additional wings, one being allotted to each criminal. Immediately a new torrent of popular vengeance poured upon them from all sides; blood, garbage, and ordure from the slaughter houses, diversified with dead cats, turnips, potatoes, addled eggs, and other missiles to the last moment.

“Two wings of the pillory were then taken off to place Cooke and Amos in, who, although they came in only for the second course, had no reason to complain of short allowance. The vengeance of the crowd pursued them back to Newgate, and the caravan was filled with mud and ordure.

“No interference from the Sheriffs and police officers could restrain the popular rage; but, notwithstanding the immensity of the multitude, no accident of any note occurred.”

[79]The italics are mine.—J. A.

The Royal Society and the Royal Institution—Scientific men of the time—Society of Arts—Other learned Societies—Ballooning—Steam—Steamboats—Locomotives—Fourdrinier and the paper-making machine—Coals—Their price—Committee of the House of Commons on coal—Price of coals.

THE ROYAL Institution had just been founded (incorporated 13th January, 1800), and the Gresham lectures were held. The Royal Institution was patronized by its big elder brother, the Royal Society, for in the minutes of the proceedings of the latter, on the 15th of April, 1802, is the following:

“Resolved, that ... the Royal Society be requested to direct their Secretaries to communicate from time to time to the Editor of the Journals of the Royal Institution, such information respecting the Papers read at the Meetings of the Society, as it may be thought proper to allow to be published in these Journals.”

In the first ten years of this century, no great scientific discoveries were made; the most prominent being the researches of that marvellous scientist and Egyptologist, Dr. Thomas Young,[69] in connection with physical optics, which led to his theory of undulatory light.[70] Yet there were good men coming forward, the pioneers of this present age, to whose labours we are much indebted; and any decade might be proud of such names as Faraday, Banks, Rennie, Dr. Wollaston, Count Rumford, Humphrey Davy, and Henry Cavendish, whose discovery of the gaseous composition of water laid the foundation of the modern school of chemistry.

The Society of Arts, too, was doing good work, and the Society of Antiquaries, and the Linnæan Society, were also in existence; but the Horticultural, and Geological Societies, alone, were born during this ten years.

Ballooning was in the same position as now, i.e., bags of gas could, as is only natural, rise in the air, and be carried whither the wind listed; and, especially in the year 1802, ærostatics formed one of the chief topics of conversation, as Garnerin and Barrett were causing excitement by their ærial flights.

Man had enslaved steam, but had hardly begun to utilize it, and knew but very little of the capabilities of its energetic servant. Then it was but a poor hard-working drudge, who could but turn a wheel, or pump water. Certainly a steamboat had been tried on the Thames, and Fulton's steamboat Clermont  was tried on the Seine in 1803, at New York in 1806, and ran on the Hudson in 1807; but the locomotive was being hatched. The use of iron rails to ease the draft was well known, and several patents were granted for different patterns of rail, but they were mainly used in mines, to save horse power. Under the date of 24th March, 1802, is a “Specification of the Patents granted to Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian, of the Parish of Camborne, in the County of Cornwall. Engineers and Miners, for Methods for improving the construction of Steam Engines, and the Application thereof for driving Carriages, and for other purposes.” Here, then, we have the germ of the locomotive, which has been one of the most powerful agents of civilization the world ever saw. But it was not till 1811 that the locomotive was used, and then only on a railway connected with a colliery.

It was not a mechanical age, or rather, applied mechanics was as a young child, and babbled sillily. The only thing I regret, in writing this book, is the time I have wasted in looking over Patent Specifications, to find something worthy to illustrate the mechanical genius of the time. The most useful invention I have found, is the paper-making machine. This was originally the conception of a Frenchman, Louis Robert, who sold his invention to Didot, the great printer, who, bringing it to England, got Fourdrinier to join with him in perfecting it. It did not, Minerva-like, spring ready armed from its parent's brain; but was the subject of several patents; but the one which approaches nearest to, and is identical in all essential points with, the present paper-making machine, is his “Specification, enrolled pursuant to Act of Parliament of the 47th of George the Third, of the Invention of Henry Fourdrinier and Sealy Fourdrinier, of Sherborne Lane, London, and John Gamble, of Saint Neots, in the County of Huntingdon, Paper Manufacturers; for making Paper by means of Machines, for which several Letters Patent have been obtained at different periods. Term extended to 15 years from 14th August, 1807.” This extension had been obtained by means of an Act of Parliament passed the previous session, and the machine was capable of making the endless web of paper now in vogue.

The primitive state of our manufactures at this date may be, perhaps, best understood by a typical illustration or two, taken by Pyne, a most conscientious draughtsman, who drew all his studies from nature. The first, on the next page, is an Iron Foundry, casting shot.

Coals were very dear, and that was owing to two things. First, that only the Sunderland district coals were used in London, because they only could, in any quantity, be shipped to London; the vast Staffordshire, and other inland basins, being out of the question, owing to lack of carriage, except where a canal was handy; and the other reason for their high price was that there being no steam vessels, a contrary wind would keep the coal-ships out of port, and, consequently, denude the market.


The inland coals were cheap enough in their own localities—vide  the Morning Post, August 6, 1800: “At Oldham, in Lancashire, the best coals are only 6s. 9d. equal to a London chaldron.[71] At Barnsley, in Yorkshire, the best coals are sold at the pit's mouth for only 1½d. per cwt. Surely, permission ought to be granted for coals to be brought to London, if they can be conveyed by water. This might be done, as the canals from Lancashire are now cut so as a barge with twenty-five tons of coals would arrive in London in fourteen days. They cost at the pit only 8s. 4d. per ton.”

But not only were they unattainable, but many of the coal-fields from which we now draw our supplies were absolutely unknown. Here is an instance—Morning Post, July 25, 1805: “A very fine stratum  of coal, 15 feet deep, has been lately discovered on the Earl of Moira's estate at Donnington, and by which the Leicestershire Canal Shares have been doubled in their value.”


In looking at the following list of prices of coals, it must be borne in mind that these are the market prices for coals ex ship ; and it was reckoned that 12s. per ton was a fair price to allow for metage, carriage, and profit. Add this, and remember that a sovereign at the commencement of the century had the purchasing power of, and, consequently, worth, about 30s.; it will then be seen that coals were excessively dear—such as would now practically extinguish every manufacture.

Even in 1800, when coals were only about 48s. or 48s. 6d., the price was considered so excessive, that a Committee of the House of Commons sat upon the subject, and issued a report, imputing it to the following causes:

“1. The agreement among the Coal Owners in the North, called ‘The Limitation of Vends,' by which each colliery on the Tyne is limited, so as not to exceed a certain quantity in each year. Those Coal Owners who are found to have shipped more than their stipulated quantities, being bound to make a certain allowance at the end of each year, to those who have shipped less, and to conform to certain other regulations adopted by the Coal Owners on the river Wear.

“2. The detention of the ships at Newcastle, waiting for the best coals, sometimes a month or six weeks.

“3. The want of a market in London which would admit of a competition, perfectly free, in the purchase of coals.

“4. The circumstance of the coal-buyer being, in many instances, owners both of ship and cargo; which (as appears by the evidence) leads to considerable abuse.

“5. The want of a sufficient number of Meters, and of craft, for unloading the ships on their arrival in the river, and the occasional delays in procuring ballast on their return voyage.

“6. The practice of mixing the best coals with those of an inferior quality, and selling the whole so mixed as of the best kind; and

“7. To frauds in the measurement, carriage, and delivery of coals.”

That there were great profits made by coals, there can be no doubt. Mr. Walter, the proprietor of the Times, had been a coal-factor, and had failed in business, before he started his newspaper—in which, in its early days, he keenly scanned the state of the Coal Market for the benefit of the public.

Here is a paragraph advertisement from the Morning Herald, June 2, 1802, which shows that our grandfathers could advertise in as catching a style as the present generation: “On Saturday, the following conversation occurred between two sailors opposite Somerset House: ‘Ah! Sam, how are you?' ‘Why, Jack, when I saw you, a few days ago, I was near a Gentleman ; but now, through my folly, am a complete beggar !' ‘Cheer up, Sam, for you are near  a Gentleman now. I have just received all my prize money and wages; we have been partners in many a hard battle; we will be partners now. I am going to the London Sea Coal Company, in Southampton Street, Holborn, to buy a score of coals; and, by retailing of which, I'll prove to you, there's a devilish deal more satisfaction and pleasure than in throwing the gold dust away on bad women or public-houses.'” This company were in September, 1804, selling their coals at 58s. per chaldron.

October 8, 1804: “Pool [72] price of coals: Wallsend, 54s. 6d.; Hebburn and Percy, 52s. 6d.; Wellington, 52s. 3d.; Temples, 51s. 8d.; Eighton, 48s. 3d. Eight ships at market, and all sold. The addition of 12s. to the above will give the price at which the coals should be delivered in town.”

That was in face of approaching winter. In summer time the price was naturally lower—July 1, 1805: “Coals. Monday, 24 June, 20 cargoes sold from 39s. 3d. to 49s. 6d. per chaldron. Wednesday, 26 do.; 10 ditto 42s. 9d. to 49s. Friday, 28: 15 ditto 43s. 9d. to 49s. 6d. in the Pool.”

In February, 1808, the retail price of coals was 64s.; and this did not include metage and shooting. In October, 1809, they rose to 74s., and in November of the same year they reached 84s.

[69]He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society—the “guinea stamp” of a scientific man, at the age of  21.

[70]See “A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanic Arts” by Dr. Thomas Young. 2 vols. 1807.

[71]Thirty-six bushels, similar to the sealed measure kept at the Guildhall, heaped up; average weight, 28½ cwt. The Newcastle chaldron weighed 53 cwt.

[72]That part of the Thames from the east side of London Bridge is called “The Pool.”

The Postman—His dress—The Post Office—Changes of site—Sir Robert Vyner—Rates of postage and deliveries—Mail coaches—Places of starting and routes—Number of houses in London—Description of them—Their furniture.

ONE PARTICULAR feature of the Streets, was, and still is, one of our most trusted servants, the Postman. In those days he was a somebody, who held personal relations with his clients. None of your rat-tats, and “Look in the letter box”; he generally had something to collect, for there were no postage stamps in those days, and that being the fact, people very often left the postage to be collected at the other end. The officials mounted a hat with a cockade, scarlet coat (the Royal livery), blue breeches, and, of course, white stockings. They used, as in my young days, to collect the letters, nay, in many country districts they do it now.


The location of the Post Office has been changed many times. We are apt to associate it with St. Martin's-le-Grand, but it was not always so. It was originally in Cloak Lane, near Dowgate, whence it was removed to the Black Swan, in Bishopsgate Street; and, at the time of which we write, it occupied the site of Sir Robert Vyner's mansion, in Lombard Street: that Sir Robert Vyner, who is historical, if only for his treatment of his king, Charles II.—a story which is well told in No. 462 of the Spectator : “Sir Robert was a very loyal man, and, if you will allow me the expression, very fond of his sovereign; out, what with the joy he felt at heart for the honour done him by his prince, and through the warmth he was in with the continual toasting healths to the Royal Family, his lordship grew a little fond of His Majesty, and entered into a familiarity not altogether so graceful in a public place. The King understood very well how to extricate himself in all kinds of difficulties, and, with a hint to the company to avoid ceremony, stole off and made towards his coach, which stood ready for him in Guildhall Yard. But the Mayor liked his company so well, and was grown so intimate, that he pursued him hastily, and, catching him fast by the hand, cried out with a vehement oath and accent, ‘Sir, you shall stay and take t'other bottle.' The airy monarch looked kindly at him over his shoulder, and, with a smile, and graceful air, for I saw him at the time, and do now, repeated this line of the old song:

He that's drunk is as great as a king,'

and immediately returned back, and complied with his landlord.”

Then, as now, the Lombard Street Post Office was wasted. “It is a national reproach when edifices of this kind, which, from our great mercantile concerns, afford occasion for a display of public architecture, and ornament to the Metropolis, are lost to those purposes.” This was the comment of a contemporary, and the site of the present Post Office in St. Martin's-le-Grand was not fixed upon or, rather, the first stone was not laid, till May, 1824. As now, the Post Office was always changing its rules and rates—to meet emergencies and keep abreast of the times—so that it would expand this notice to too great a length, were I to chronicle all its changes. Perhaps a short relation of its doings in 1804—which would be the mean of the decade—will give as good an idea as any other.

“Houses, or boxes, for receiving letters before four o'clock, at the West end of the town, and five o'clock in the City, are open in every part of the Metropolis; after that hour bell-men collect the letters during another hour, receiving a fee of one penny  for each letter; but, at the General Post Office, in Lombard Street, letters are received till seven o'clock; after that, till half an hour after seven, a fee of sixpence  must be paid; and from half after seven till a quarter before eight, the postage must be paid, as well as the fee of sixpence. Persons, till lately, were, if well known, permitted to have back any letter put in, if required; but, by an order of June, 1802, the masters of receiving houses are not allowed to return letters on any pretence whatever.

“Letters from (? for) the East Indies must be delivered at the India House, where a letter-box is provided for their reception.

“Those for the coast of Africa, or at single settlements in particular parts of the world, may be sent either through the ship letter office, or by the bags which await the sailing of ships, and which are kept at the respective coffee houses near the Royal Exchange.”

We should consider these arrangements somewhat primitive; but then, telegrams and frequent mails have spoilt us. The twopenny post was mainly local, there being six deliveries and collections of letters in town daily, and many country places had two deliveries and collections.

The letters were distributed throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of Mail Coaches, which carried passengers at an average rate of sixpence per mile. This system was inaugurated, and organized, at the latter end of the Eighteenth Century, by a Mr. John Palmer, of Bath, who not only suggested the routes, but to prevent robbery, which, previously, was rife, had every coach accompanied by a well-armed guard, and these coaches accomplished their journeys at a uniform rate, including stoppages, of eight miles an hour. They did not start from the Post Office, but from various inns, and the following is a list of the coaches, and places of starting:

}Angel, St. Clements.
Swan with Two Necks, Lad Lane.
Poole Bell and Crown, Holborn.
Chester and Holyhead
}Golden Cross, Charing Cross.
Gloucester {Golden Cross, Charing Cross; and the
Angel, St. Clements, Strand.
York and Edinburgh
Bull and Mouth, Bull and Mouth Street
Harwich Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street.

The letters were first of all sorted; then they were weighed, and their proper amount of postage marked on them; they were counted, packed in boxes for the different towns, and an account kept of their number; they were then put in bags, which were sealed, and given in charge of the mail guard. Postage was heavy in those days. Take the charges for 1810:

From any Post Office in England or Wales to any place not exceeding 15 miles from such Office 4
For any distance above 15 miles,and not exceeding 30 miles 5
30 50 6
50 80 7
80 120 8
120 170 9
170 230 10
230 300 11
300 400 12
And so on in proportion, 1 d. for every additional 100 miles.

London, at this time, was not beautiful. Apart from the public buildings, its 160,000 houses (the number estimated in 1804) were not lovely to look upon. Utilitarian they were, to a degree—long rows of brick-built tenements, with oblong holes for windows. There was no attempt at architecture: that had gone out with the first George; and, during the first half of this century, domestic architecture in this country was at its lowest possible ebb. Just fancy! in the first decade, Baker Street was considered “perhaps the handsomest street in London.” Can condemnation go further? All the houses were the same pattern, varied only by the height of the rooms, and the number of stories, which were mostly three, and very rarely exceeded four. There was the front parlour, and the back parlour, a wretched narrow passage, or hall, with a flight of stairs leading to the drawing-rooms. In the basement were the kitchen and scullery.


The inside, even, was not redeemed by beautiful furniture. The rich, of course, furnished sumptuously, after their lights—which, at that time, represented anything of classical Greek, or Roman, shape—no matter whether suitable to the purpose for which it was employed, or not. Of course, as now, those lower in the social scale, aped, as far as they could, the tastes of the upper classes; and, as they could not afford the sumptuous gilding, and carving, of the rich, the ordinary furniture of that time was heavy, dull, and dispiriting. Take, for example, the accompanying picture, where, from the style of dress of the ladies, we can but draw one inference—that they were in a good social position. The furniture is dull, and heavy; stiff, high-backed chairs; a table, which would now only be allowed in the nursery; but one candle, and that with a cotton wick, needing snuffing! A tall, narrow, and tasteless mantelpiece frames a poor, starved stove of semi-circular shape, with flat front; the fire-irons stand against the mantelpiece, and a bowed fender, of perforated sheet brass, enclosed the hearth; a small hearth-rug with a fringe, and a bell cord with a plain brass ring, complete the furniture of the room, as far as Gillray depicted it. Not quite our idea of luxurious comfort, yet it was comfort then; tastes were simpler, huge fortunes had not yet been made in manufactures, railway contracting, speculations on the Stock Exchange, or promoting companies—people were more localized (in fact, they could not move), and the intercourse with abroad was very little; and, if it had existed, the hatred of anything foreign, or, especially, French, would have, at once, condemned any innovation.

Medical—The Doctor of the old School—The rising lights—Dr. Jenner—His discovery of vaccination for smallpox—Opposition thereto—Perkins's Metallic Tractors—The “Perkinean Institution”—His cures—Electricity and Galvanism—Galvanizing a dead criminal—Lunatic Asylums—Treatment of the insane—The Hospitals.

A PROPOS  of Doctors—the medical and surgical branches of the profession were emerging from empiricism, and science was beginning to assert herself, and laying the foundation of the English School of Medicine, the finest the world has yet seen. The doctor of the old school (as given in the next page) was still extant, with his look of portentous sagacity, his Burghley-like shake of the head, his bag with instruments and medicaments, and the cane—always the gold-headed cane—which came in so useful, and gave such a look of sapience when applied to the side of the nose, affording time for consideration before giving an opinion on a doubtful case—a relic of the time when, in its gold top, was carried a febrifuge, such as aromatic vinegar, or the such like. Similar types are also given in a political caricature by Isaac Cruikshank.


But these old quacks were disappearing, and the progenitors of the present hard-working, energetic, and scientific men, our medical advisers, were arising, and I append a list, imperfect as it may be, which contains names of world-wide reputation, and thoroughly well known to every fairly educated Englishman. They are taken in no sequence, chronological or otherwise. Sir Anthony Carlisle, F.R.S., President of the Royal College of Surgeons; Sir Charles Mansfield Clarke, so famous for his treatment of the Diseases of Women and Children; Sir Astley Paston Cooper; Sir Henry Halford; that rough old bear John Abernethy; Dr. Matthews Baillie the brother of Joanna Baillie; Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie—then a young man; Dr. Edward Jenner, of whom more anon; Wm. Lawrence, F.R.S., Surgeon Extraordinary to the Queen; Sir Charles Bell, another famous Surgeon, whose “System of Anatomy,” is still a text book; Geo. James Guthrie, and many others; but a sufficient number of well-known names have been given to warrant the assertion that it was an exceptionally brilliant time of English medicine and surgery.

Perhaps the medical man of this era, to whom the whole world is most indebted, is Dr. Jenner, who thoroughly investigated the wonderfully prophylactic powers of the cow pock. He had noticed that milkers of cows could not, as a rule, be inoculated with the smallpox virus—a means of prevention then believed in, as the patient generally suffered but slightly from the inoculation, and it was then a creed, long since exploded, that smallpox could not be taken twice. This fact of their resistance to variolous inoculation set him thinking, and he came to the conclusion that they had absorbed into their systems, a counter poison in the shape of some infection taken from the cows. He made many experiments, and found that this came from a disease called the cow pock, and that the vaccine lymph could not only be taken direct from the cow, but also by transmission from the patients who had been inoculated with that lymph, and whence the present system of so-called vaccination—the greatest blessing of modern times.

Jenner, of course, was opposed; fools do not even believe in vaccination now, and great was the battle for, and against, in the medical profession, and many were the books written pro  and con. “Vaccination Vindicated,” Ed. Jones; “A Reply to the Anti-Vaccinists,” Jas. Moore; “The Vaccine Contest,” Wm. Blair; “Cow Pock Vaccination,” Rowland Hill; “Birch against Vaccination,” “Willan on Vaccination,” &c., &c.

Gillray could not, of course, leave such a promising subject alone, and he perpetrated the accompanying illustration. Here Dr. Jenner (a very good likeness) is attending to his patients—vaccinating, rather too vigorously, one lady—the lymph, in unlimited quantity, being borne by a workhouse boy, and receiving his patients who are exhibiting the different phases of their vaccination. As a rule, they seem to have “taken” too well.


(Vide the publications of y e  Anti-Vaccine Society.)

A quack, who flourished early in the century, far better deserved the caricaturists' pencil than Jenner, and he got it. The illustration on this page represents an American quack, named Perkins, who pretended to cure various diseases by means of his metallic tractors—operating on John Bull. The paper on the table is the True Briton, and it reads thus: “Theatre—dead alive—Grand Exhibition in Leicester Square. Just arrived from America the Rod of Æsculapius. Perkinism in all its glory, being a certain cure for all Disorders, Red Noses, Gouty Toes, Windy Bowels, Broken Legs, Hump backs. Just discovered, Grand secret of the Philosopher's Stone, with the true way of turning all metals into Gold.”


The truth is, that, at the end of the eighteenth century, Galvani and Volta, Sir Joseph Banks, in connection with the Royal Society, and all the scientific men of the day, were deeply interested in solving the mysteries of electricity; and, as nobody, as yet, knew much about it, the public were liable to be gulled by any empiric, and Benjamin Douglas Perkins was the very man to do it. He, and others, wrote several pamphlets on “The Influence of Metallic Tractors on the Human Body, in removing various Inflammatory Diseases,” and such like, and opened a Perkinean Institution  in London. He must have been fairly successful, for his advertisements lasted some years. His published cures were miraculous: “A Lady was afflicted with an Erysipelas in her face.... In a few minutes she cheerfully acknowledged that she was quite well.” “A man aged 37 had, for several years, been subject to the Gout. I found him in bed, and very much distressed with the disease in one of his feet. After I had operated upon it with the Tractors he said the pain was entirely gone.” “A Lady burned her hand. I, happily, called at the house immediately after the accident, and applied the Tractors. In about ten minutes, the inflammation disappeared, the vesication was prevented, and she said the pain was gone.” The price of these “blessings to men” was five guineas a set; and he explains them in the specification of the patent granted him on the 10th March, 1798, where, speaking of Galvanism, he says, “Among the metals that may be thus characterised, I have found none more eminently efficacious in removing diseases than the combinations of copper, zinc, and a small proportion of gold: a precise quantity of each is not necessary: also iron united to a very small proportion of silver and platina; an exact proportion of these also not necessary. These are constructed with points, and of such dimensions as convenience shall dictate. They may be formed with one point, or pointed at each end, or with two or more points. The point of the instrument thus formed I apply to those parts of the body which are affected with diseases, and draw them off on the skin, to a distance from the complaint, and usually towards the extremities.”

Electricity was then a new toy, of which no one, as yet, knew the use, and they amused themselves with it in various ways, one of which must serve as an example.Times, January 22, 1803: “The body of Forster, who was executed on Monday last for murder, was conveyed to a house not far distant, where it was subjected to the Galvanic process  by Professor Aldini , under the inspection of Mr. Keate , Mr. Carpue , and several other professional gentlemen. M. Aldini , who is the nephew of the discoverer of this most interesting science, showed the eminent and superior powers of Galvanism  to be far beyond any other stimulant in nature. On the first application of the process to the face, the jaw of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process, the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs set in motion. It appeared to the uninformed part of the bystanders as if the wretched man was on the eve of being restored to life. This, however, was impossible, as several of his friends who were under the scaffold had violently pulled his legs, in order to put a more speedy termination to his sufferings. The experiment, in fact, was of a better use, and tendency. Its object was to show the excitability of the human frame, when this animal electricity is duly applied. In cases of drowning or suffocation, it promises to be of the utmost use, by reviving the action of the lungs, and, thereby, rekindling the expiring spark of vitality. In cases of apoplexy, or disorders of the head, it offers, also, most encouraging prospects for the benefit of mankind. The professor, we understand, has made use of Galvanism, also, in several cases of insanity, and with complete success.”

This latter part—the cure of the insane by means of electricity—has not been verified by practice. Their treatment was very inefficient, although, even then, whips and chains were disappearing—especially in the public madhouses, which were at that time Bethlehem, and St. Luke's Hospitals. Bethlehem Hospital was then situated inMoorfields, and the major part of it had been built in 1675. Over the entrance gates were two sculptured representations of Raving and Melancholy madness, by Cibber; these are now in the hall of the present hospital. Patients remained until they were cured, or for twelve months if not cured. In the latter case if it was thought that a further sojourn might be of use, they were re-admitted, and they also were permanently kept, were they hopelessly incurable, and dangerous to society. There were then about 260 patients who might be visited by their friends every Monday and Wednesday, from 10 to 12 a.m. Visitors were only admitted by an order from a governor—a vast improvement on the old plan, when a visitor could always obtain admission by payment of a small fee. In fact, in Queen Anne's reign, and later, it formed, with the lions at the Tower, and the wax figures at Westminster Abbey, one of the chief sights in London, thus causing a scandal to the institution, and, without doubt, injuring the patients.


St. Luke's Hospital for the insane was in Old Street, City Road, and was built because Bethlehem was inadequate to the relief of all indigent lunatics ; and their treatment was fairly rational, even those who were obliged to wear straight jackets having their meals together, so as to afford some little break in the monotony of their miserable lives. Each patient had a separate sleeping apartment, and there were two large gardens, one for men, the other for women, where pleasant recreation could be taken in fine weather.

The other medical hospitals were—Bartholomew's, St. Thomas's, Guy's, St. George's, the London, Middlesex, the Westminster Infirmary, and the Lock Hospital, in Grosvenor Place. The majority of these had regular medical schools, as now, but there were, also, many private lecturers and demonstrators of anatomy, as also professors of natural and experimental philosophy, and chemistry.

Hunting then, and now—Hunting near the Metropolis—The Epping Hunt—Fishing—Shooting then, and now—Guns—Methods of proving gun barrels—Big charges—Introduction of the Percussion Cap—Size of bags—Colonel Thornton's bet.

OF COURSE there was Hunting, both Fox and Stag, but it was not carried out on the same principles then as now. A man, then, kept a pack of hounds for his own amusement, that of his friends, and the neighbourhood generally. A meet, then, was a great social gathering of neighbours, at which, for the time, all were on a courteous equality, engendered by similarity of taste, and cemented by means of the Master, who, at some great expense, kept the pack for others' use. Now, “the old order changes, yielding place to new;” the probability is that it is a subscription pack—with the subscriptions not too well paid, and the Master frequently changing, owing to his quarrels with his masters, the subscribers, who carp at his doings, and try to dictate their own views. The railway brings down the “London Contingent”—sporting stockbrokers, solicitors, tailors, and publicans—in fact, all who can scrape together the necessary money to hire the “hunter,” and pay its fare to the nearest station to the meet. These people have no sympathy with the farmers, no relations with the county, spend no money, because they return to London at night, care nought for the damage they do, which, probably, is done in ignorance; and it is no wonder that, nowadays, hunting is not so popular among tenant farmers as it might be—and it is pretty safe to prophesy, that in many districts, before many more years, it will be reckoned as a thing of the past.


Then, however, there was never heard a whisper of the scarcity of foxes. A fox found poisoned, or shot, would have been considered as an indelible disgrace to the district. The word vulpecide  was not coined, because the crime had not been committed. No farmer ever sent in a claim to the Hunt, and only old women, cottagers, ever wanted compensation for the gander, or the two or three hens that they had lost; as to warning off land, it had never been dreamt of, much less practised.

In other ways, too, hunting was different—both horses, and hounds were heavier, and slower then; it was not the pace of the run that was discussed at night, but its length, and the behaviour of both hounds, and horses. Fox hunting began much earlier in the morning than it does now; and a good solid meal of cold meat, washed down with a tankard of home brewed, was vastly superior to a modern “lawn meet” breakfast, with its wines and liqueurs, to “steady the nerves,” to say nothing of the flask of “jumping powder.” Sport, too, was found much nearer the Metropolis then than now.Morning Post, August 14, 1805: “To Sportsmen  and others.—A Deputation to be granted of the very extensive Manors of Hornsey  and Finchley, in the County of Middlesex, with the liberty of Hunting and Shooting over, and upon, the said Manors, abounding with game,” &c.


The Epping Hunt, too, where the citizens [54] annually met on Easter Monday, to vindicate their right to hunt in the Forest, was not the farce it afterwards became. Most men, then, were accustomed to horseback, and could manage to stick on somehow.

Fishing and shooting were, of course, as popular as now. Of the former we have had little to learn since Isaac Walton's time, and the illustration shows us that the“Contemplative Man,” in the early part of this century, knew how to combine his “Recreation” with the charms of female society.


Shooting, like hunting, was a totally different thing, in the first ten years of the century, to what it is now. There were no battues, no hot, and elaborate, luncheons, no being posted in “warm corners,” no army of beaters, no breech-loaders, and two attendants to load for you, and, at the end of a day's sport, no waggon-loads of slain to be sent off to market to help pay, in some part, the expenses of breeding, and keeping, such a head of game. Then, a man went out, preferably with a friend or two, soon after an early breakfast, accompanied by Don and Ponto, who were his constant companions in his walks, and whose education he had personally superintended; to watch their intelligent movements was in itself one of the pleasures of the day. When a covey rose, not a shot was wasted, if possible, for, by the time the gun was reloaded, the birds would be far off. A bit of bread and cheese, as luncheon, at the nearest farmhouse, or the village pub.; if the former, a brace of birds, or a hare left, with a kindly message. Enough game to carry home, without being tired, plenty for the larder, and some for friends; then dinner, some punch—and Betty would come with the chamber candle and warming-pan, to find the party asleep and quite ready for bed.

The Guns, with which our grandfathers shot, were vastly inferior to our modern breechloader; the workmanship was good, but the flint-lock, with its tardy firing, and the very weak powder then in use, did not render the “birding gun” a very efficient weapon.


Thornhill, who wrote the Shooting Directory  in 1804, is as great an authority on the subject of guns as any of his contemporaries; and he had quite sense enough to see that the old-fashioned long barrel of four feet, or more, carried no further than one of three feet, and he counselled the musket length of two feet ten inches, as the standard length for fowling-piece barrels, and preferred one that carried its shot close, to one that scattered. The method of proving “that a barrel will not burst, was to get a ball to fit the exact bore, and put the exact weight of the ball in powder, with which load, and fire it off by a train; if it does not burst, you need be under no apprehension. This is called Tower-proof ; or put in double the quantity of powder and shot.”

He recommends as a proper charge for a fowling-piece of ordinary calibre, a drachm and a quarter, or a drachm and a half, of good powder, and an ounce, or an ounce and a quarter, of shot; and, when treating on the subject of recoil, he gives one or two anecdotes of overloading. “The overloading of the piece is the reason of the recoil; respecting sportsmen who are in the habit of overloading with shot, such are properly ridiculed in a treatise published some time since, entitled, ‘Cautions to Young Sportsmen,' in which we find an advertisement levelled at some persons who were going to a Pigeon Shooting Match at Ballingbear-Warren House. It was as follows: ‘Take notice, that no person will be allowed to load with more than four ounces of shot.' A gamekeeper to whom this author mentioned the story, told him he thought it a pretty fair allowance, and, on being told what charge and weight of shot he generally used, replied, he divided a pound into five charges.... A friend of the gentleman who relates this story, seeing his keeper equipped for a pigeon match, had the curiosity to examine his charge, and, after trying it with his rammer, expressed his surprise at finding it rather less than usual. ‘Oh, sir,' replied the keeper, ‘I have only put in the powder yet;' and, on putting in the shot, the charge, altogether, was eleven  fingers. The reason he assigned was ‘that he always liked to give his piece a belly full.'”

The Percussion Cap, which was destined to make such a revolution in small arms, was patented April 11, 1807, by the inventor, the Rev. A. J. Forsyth, of Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire. It soon came into use, for we find an advertisement in the Morning Post, December 23, 1808: “To Sportsmen. The Patent Gun-lock  invented by Mr. Forsyth is to be had at No. 10, Piccadilly, near the Haymarket. Those who may be unacquainted with the excellence of this Invention are informed that the inflammation is produced without the assistance of flint, and is much more rapid than in the common way. The Lock is so constructed as to render it completely impervious to water, or damp of any kind, and may, in fact, be fired under water.”

Grouse, partridge, and other shooting, commenced on the same dates as now, and game certificates were as necessary then, as at the present time. Heavy bags were not the rule. Thornhill supplies us with his ideal of a luxurious sportsman of his time, with every appliance for slaughter, and game ad libitum. Compare his butcher's bill with that of a modern battue. “A man of fortune, surrounded with gamekeepers (let us suppose the scene for the present in Norfolk), pointers, setters, &c., without number,Manton [55] Guns, and all in compleat retinue, going out at, perhaps, twelve o'clock (the hour of indolent, and feather bed  gunners), into the highest preserved covers in that County, where the game is so very tame, that twenty birds may be killed in a few hours; their servants with clean guns ready, and, if necessary, loaded by them; and probably, if the dog of one of these elegant  sportsmen is admired, or gains credit, if his master is asked his name, he makes for answer ‘he really cannot tell you, but will ask his gamekeeper.'”

A large bag is spoken of by Daniel, in his Field Sports, where he says that in 1796, on Mr. Colquhoun's manor at Wretham, in Norfolk, the Duke of Bedford, and six other gentlemen, killed eighty cock pheasants, and forty hares, besides some partridges, in one day.

Mr. Coke, of Holkham, kept up a wonderful head of game, so that his performances ought not to be looked upon in the light of phenomenal sportsmanship, because his victims were so plentifully to hand. As an instance, on October 7, 1797, upon his manor at Warham, and within a mile's circumference, he bagged forty brace of partridges, in eight hours, at ninety-three shots; and, on the previous day, over the same ground, he killed twenty-two brace and a half, in three hours. In 1801, he killed, in five days, seven hundred and twenty-six partridges.

In January, 1803, Mr. Coke, Sir John Shelley, and Tom Sheridan went to Lord Cholmondeley's place at Houghton, in Norfolk, and killed there, in one day, to their three guns only, fourteen and a half brace of hares, sixteen couples of rabbits, twenty-four brace of pheasants, thirteen brace of partridges, and sixteen couples of woodcock.

In the Morning Post  of the 21st of January, 1801, we find: “Col. Thornton some time ago made a bet that he would kill 400 head of game at 400 shots, the result was, that, in the year 1800, he bagged 417 head of game (consisting of partridges, pheasants, hares, snipe, and woodcock) at 411 shots. Enumerated amongst these are a black wild duck, and a white pheasant cock, and at the last point he killed a brace of cock pheasants, one with each barrel; on the leg of the one last killed (an amazing fine bird) was found a ring, proving that he had been taken by Colonel Thornton when hawking, and turned out again in the year 1792.”

[54]There is a story told of a Lord Mayor in times long past, who went a-hunting in Epping Forest. Some one riding past him saluted him with, “My Lord! the Hare comes this way.” His lordship bravely drew his trusty sword, and, flourishing it, exclaimed, “Let him come! let him come! I thank my God, I fear him not.”

[55]Joseph Manton was at that time the  great gun maker.

Parliamentary Committee on the high price of provisions—Bounty on imported corn, and on rice from India and America—The “Brown Bread Bill”—Prosecution of bakers for light weight—Punishment of a butcher for having bad meat—Price of beef, mutton, and poultry—Cattle shows—Supply of food from France—Great fall in prices here—Hotels, &c.—A clerical dessert.

PARLIAMENT bestirred itself in the matter of food supply, not only in appointing “a Committee to consider the high price of provisions,” who made their first report on the 24th of November, 1800; but Mr. Dudley Ryder (afterwards Earl of Harrowby) moved, on the 12th of November, in the same year, the following resolutions, which were agreed to:—

“1. That the average price at which foreign corn shall be sold in London, should be ascertained, and published, in the London Gazette.

“2. That there be given on every quarter of wheat, weighing 424 lbs., which shall be imported into the port of London, or into any of the principal ports of each district of Great Britain, before the 1st of October, 1801, a bounty equal to the sum by which the said average price in London, published in the Gazette, in the third week after the importation of such wheat, shall be less than 100s. per quarter.

“3. That there shall be given on every quarter of barley, weighing 352 lbs., which shall be imported into the port of London, or any of the principal ports of each district of Great Britain before the 1st of October, 1801, a bounty equal to the sum by which the said average price in London, published in the Gazette  in the third week after the importation of such barley, shall be less than 45s. per quarter.

“4. That there be given on every quarter of rye, weighing 408 lbs., which shall be imported into the port of London, or into any of the principal ports of each district of Great Britain, before the 1st of October, 1801, a bounty equal to the sum by which the said average price in London, published in the Gazette  of the third week after the importation of such rye, shall be less than 65s. per quarter.

“5. That there be given on every quarter of oats, weighing 280 lbs., which shall be imported into the port of London, or into any of the principal ports of each district of Great Britain, before the 1st of October, 1801, a bounty equal to the sum by which the average price in London, published in the Gazette  in the third week after the importation of such oats, shall be less than 30s. per quarter.

“6. That there be given on every barrel of superfine wheaten flour, of 196 lbs. weight, which shall be imported into such ports before the 1st of October, 1801, and sold by public sale by auction, within two months after importation, a bounty equal to the sum by which the actual price of each barrel of such flour so sold, shall be less than 70s.

“7. That there be given on every barrel of fine wheaten flour, of 196 lbs. weight, which shall be imported into such ports before the 1st of October, 1801, and sold by public sale, by auction, within two months after importation, a bounty equal to the sum by which the actual price of each barrel of such flour so sold shall be less than 68s.

“8. That there be given on every cwt. of rice which shall be imported into such ports in any ship which shall have cleared out from any port in the East Indies before the 1st of September, 1801, and which shall be sold by public sale, a bounty equal to the sum by which the actual price of each cwt. of rice so sold shall be less than 32s.

“9. That there be given on every cwt. of rice, from America, which shall be imported into such ports, before the 1st of October, 1801, and sold by public sale by auction, within two months after importation, a bounty equal to the sum by which the actual price of each cwt. of such rice so sold, shall be less than 35s.”

Thus we see that the paternal government of that day did all they could to find food for the hungry; and it is somewhat curious to note the commencement of a trade for food, with two countries like India and the United States of America. Still more did the Government attempt to alleviate the distress by passing an Act (41 Geo. III. c. 16), forbidding the manufacture of fine bread, and enacting that all bread should contain the whole meal—i.e., all the bran, &c.—and be what we term “brown bread.” Indeed the Act was called, popularly, “The Brown Bread Bill.” It came into force on the 16th of January, 1801, a date which was afterwards extended to the 31st of January, but did not last long; its repeal receiving the Royal Assent on the 26th of February of the same year.

So also the authorities did good service in prosecuting bakers for light weight; and the law punished them heavily. I will only make one quotation—Morning Post, February 5, 1801. “Public Office, Bow Street. Light Bread. Several complaints having been made against a baker in the neighbourhood of Bloomsbury, for selling bread short of weight, he was, yesterday, summoned on two informations; the one for selling a quartern loaf deficient of its proper weight eight ounces, and the other for a quartern loaf wanting four ounces. A warrant was also issued to weigh all the bread in his shop, when 29 quartern loaves were seized, which wanted, together, 58 ounces, of their proper weight; the light bread was brought to the office, and the defendant appeared to answer the charges. The parties were sworn as to the purchase of the first two loaves, which being proved, and the loaves being weighed in the presence of the Magistrates, the defendant was convicted in the full penalty of five shillings per ounce for the twelve ounces they were deficient; and, Mr. Ford observing that as the parties complaining were entitled to one moiety of the penalty, he could not with justice remit any part of it.

“Respecting the other 29 loaves, as it was the report of the officers who executed the warrant, that there were a considerable number more found in his shop that were of full weight, it was the opinion of him, and the other Magistrates then present, that the fine should be mitigated to 2s. per ounce, amounting to £5 16s., which the defendant was, accordingly, obliged to pay, and the 29 loaves, which, of course, were forfeited, Mr. Ford ordered to be distributed to the poor.

“A search warrant was also executed at the shop of a baker near Drury Lane, against whom an information had also been laid for selling light bread; but, it being near three o'clock in the afternoon when the officers went to the shop, very little bread remained, out of which, however, they found eight quarterns, three half quarterns, and four twopenny loaves, short of weight 28 ounces, and on which the baker was adjudged to pay 2s. per ounce, and the bread was disposed of in the same manner as the other.”

As we have seen, the price of bread in London was regulated by the civic authorities, according to the price of flour—and it is gratifying to find that they fearlessly exercised their functions. September 1, 1801: “A number of Bakers were summoned to produce their bills of parcels of flour purchased by them during the last two weeks, according to the returns. Many of them were very irregular which they said was owing to the mealmen not giving in their bills of parcels with the price at the time of delivering the flour. They were ordered to attend on a future day, when the mealmen will be summoned to answer that complaint.”

Nor were the bakers, alone, subject to this vigilance, the butchers were well looked after, and, if evil doers, were punished in a way worthy of the times of the “Liber Albus.” Vide  the Morning Post, April 16, 1800: “Yesterday, the carcase of a calf which was condemned by the Lord Mayor, as being unwholesome, was burnt before the butcher's door, in Whitechapel. His Lordship commended the Inquest of Portsoken Ward very much for their exertions in this business, and hoped it would be an example to others, that when warm weather comes on they may have an eye to stalls covered with meat almost putrified, and very injurious to the health of their fellow citizens.”

Just at that time meat was extraordinarily high in price—in May, only a few weeks after the above quotation, beef was 1s. 6d. and mutton 1s. 3d. per lb., whilst fowls were 6s. 6d. each, and every other article of food at proportionally high rates. Yet, as was only natural, every means were taken to increase the food supply. Cattle shows were inaugurated, and great interest was taken in them by the neighbouring gentry. As an example we will take one held in September, 1801, where Mr. Tatton Sykes was judge, and there were such well-known county gentlemen present as Mr. Denison, Major Osbaldeston, Major Topham, &c., &c. The prizes were not high; but, then, as now, in agricultural contests, honour went before the money value of the prize.

Best shearling tup from any part of England 10 10 0
Best  do bred in the East Riding 10 10 0
Best year old bull do 8 8 0
Second best do do 6 6 0
Third best do do 5 5 0
Fourth best do do 4 4 0
Fifth best do do 2 2 0
Best two year old heifer bred in the East Riding 3 3 0
Second best do do 3 3 0
Third best do do 2 2 0
Best boar do 3 3 0

But, with the treaty of peace with France came comparative plenty. The French were keen enough to, at once, take advantage of the resumption of friendly relations; and, knowing that an era of cheaper food was to be inaugurated, prices fell rapidly here. For instance, no sooner did the news of peace reach Ireland, than the price of pork fell, in some markets from 63s. to 30s. per cwt.; and beef dropped to 33s. 6d. or 30s. 6d. per cwt. Butter, and other farm produce had proportionable reductions. In London, one shopkeeper somewhat whimsically notified the change. At the time of illumination for the peace, he displayed a transparency, on one side of which was a quartern loaf, under which were the words, “I am coming down,” and by its side appeared a pot of porter, which rejoined, “So am I.”

When the pioneer boat, loaded with provisions from France, arrived at Portsmouth, the authorities were at a loss as to what to do with her; so she was detained until an order could be received permitting her to trade and depart within 24 hours. Her cargo was sold out at once, and no wonder, for she sold pigs at 16s. each, turkeys 2s. 6d. each, and fowls 2s. a couple, whilst eggs were going at 1s. 6d. a score.

Whilst on this subject, mention may be made of the kind of provision made for the men's feeding, otherwise than at home. The Hotel proper, as we know it, was but in its infancy; and, as far as I can gather, there were but some fifteen hotels in London. This does not, of course, include the large coaching inns, which made up beds, because they catered for a fleeting population; nor does it take cognizance of the coffee houses, many of which made up beds, especially for visitors from various counties, where they might possibly meet with friends, or hear the last news about them, and see the county newspaper; whilst all, without exception, and most of the taverns, supplied their customers with dinners, and other food—in fact, they acted as victuallers, and not as the keepers of drinkeries, as now. There were, besides, many of the cheaper class of eating houses, called cook shops, scattered over every part of the town, at which a plentiful dinner might be obtained at, from a shilling, to eighteenpence. In addition, there were very many à la mode  beef houses, and soup shops, so that every taste, and purse, was consulted.

Before closing these notes on feeding, early in the century, I must chronicle a “little dinner.” Morning Post, July 26, 1800: “At a village in Cheshire, last year, three clergymen, after dinner, ate fourteen quarts of nuts, and, during their sitting, drank six bottles of port wine, and NO  other liquor!”

A Cockney's account of the First of September—Pigeon shooting—Out-door games—Cricket—High stakes—Lord's cricket ground—Trap and ball—Billiards—Life of Andrews the billiard player.

PASSING from recounting the feats of legitimate sportsmen, let us unbend, and indulge in a contemporary account of his cockney congener—Times, September 2, 1803:

A Cockney's Account of Yesterday,
The First of September.

“Having sat up all night to be ready and fresh in the morning, four of us met at the Obelisk, in St. George's Fields, from whence we proceeded with our dogs, arms, and ammunition, to Lambeth Marsh, where we expected to have great sport, but found nothing except a cat, which we all fired at; but being only four in number, and a cat having nine lives, we missed killing her, though, as we believe, she was severely wounded. In this discharge we broke a bell glass in a gardener's ground, so, fearing that we might, on that account, be taken up for poachers, we made the best of our way to Tothill Fields; here we reloaded our pieces, and gave our dogs a piece of bread each, but the fox dog would not eat his. We then proceeded to look about for sport, when two Westminster boys claimed the place as their manor, and drove us out of it. We now beat all about Jenny's Whim, and seeing something swimming across the water, which a waterman's boy told us was a dab-chick, we all fired, but without success, but the terrier caught it, as it ran up the bank and it proved to be the largest rat we had ever seen.

“As we passed through the five Fields, Chelsea, we saw several pigeons, but they flew so fast that none of us could take aim.

“On the other side of Battersea Bridge, met two men driving geese. Offered them eighteenpence, which they accepted, for a shot at the flock, at twenty yards. Drew lots who should fire first; it fell to Billy Candlewick's  chance, who, from his father belonging many years ago to one of the regiments of City Militia, knew something of taking aim.

“The goose driver stepped the ground, and Billy took aim for above ten minutes, when, shutting both his eyes lest the pan might flash in his sight, he snapped, and missed fire. He took aim a second time, snapped and missed again. Borrowed Bob Tape's  scissars, and hammered the flint—snapped, and missed fire a third time—thought the Devil had got hold of the gun, examined her, found she was neither loaded nor primed. The goose driver refused to let Billy try again, so we gave him another sixpence, and he sold us a lame gander, which we placed at about six yards, and, taking a shot apiece at him, killed him, and put him in Ned Thimble's  cabbage net.

“Passed over Clapham Common, where we saw several parties, but would not interfere with their sport.

“In our way to Stockwell, Ned Simple  fired at a pigeon, which was perched on the top of a tree, and shot a man's hat and wig off, who stood underneath it. As we thought he might be killed, we set off as hard as we could run, but were pursued and overtaken by two gardeners, who insisted upon being paid two shillings for destroying a scarecrow. We paid the money very readily, and kept our counsel.

“When we came in sight of the Swan, at Stockwell, we all ran as hard as we could to see who should get in first as we had settled to breakfast there. Unfortunately, our gun being cock'd, I made a stumble, and the trigger being touched by something, off went the piece, and lodged the contents in the body of a sucking pig  that was crossing the road. The squeaking of the poor little animal roused the maternal affections of the sow, and set the fox dog, the terrier, the Newfoundland bitch, and the mastiff, a barking. The noise of the sow, the pig, and the dog, with the report of the gun, brought the people of the house, and, indeed, of the neighbourhood; and, being threatened by one, and laughed at by another, we thought it best to buy the pig at four shillings, which we did, and put it into Bob Tape's  game bag, which, by the bye, was nothing but half a bolster tick.

“We now beat every bush with the muzzle of our guns, set the dogs on the pigs, and found but one chaffinch, which was rather wild, not letting us come within eight yards, so that we could not make sure of our bird. We hunted him from spray to spray for above an hour, without being able to get in a parallel line, so as to take sure aim when, at last, he was killed by a little boy, who knocked him down with a stone. Bought him, and put him into the net with the goose.

“Hunted a weazle for above an hour, and lost him. The terrier was remarkably staunch.

“Crossing a field near Camberwell, we thought we saw a covey of partridges at the side of a ditch; so we all made up to them with our guns cock'd, tying the dogs to our legs, that they might not run in, and spring the game.

“What we thought to be a covey of partridges, proved to be a gang of gypsies, who were squatted under the hedge, peeling turnips and paring potatoes for dinner. It was the mercy of God we did not fire on them, as all our pieces were up to our shoulders, and we had but one eye open, apiece, when that, which we took to be the old cock, rose up, and said in a loud voice, ‘What the devil are ye about?'

“After much difficulties, and but little sport, got, by the direction of the gypsies, into the Greenwich road, where, being rather fatigued, we stopped at the Halfway house, until a coach came by, when, mounting the roof, and the box, we were conveyed near Blackheath, to our unspeakable joy.

“Never saw the Heath before—amazed at the number of furze bushes, and the wide extent there is for game. Had an excellent chase after a jackass, when the mastiff tore his leg. Kept close together for fear of losing each other.

“Got down near a large round house, shot at a flock of sparrows, and killed one, which we think is a cock, his head being rather black.

“Saw several brother sportsmen out, who had killed nothing but a hedge hog and a tame jack daw, which belonged to the public house at New Cross Turnpike.

“Got up to the main road, fired at a yellow hammer, and frightened the horses in the Dover stage. The guard threatened to shoot us, and we took to our heels.

“Saw some black game flying very high. They looked for all the world like crows.

“The terrier came to a point at a thick bunch of fern. We were now sure this must be a covey of partridges, and we prepared accordingly. The mastiff ran in, and brought out one of the young ones. It proved to be a nest of grass mice: took every one, and put them into the bolster. Grass mice were better than nothing.

“Much fatigued, and agreed to shoot all the way home, fired off our guns at the foot of Greenwich Hill, and were laughed at by the inhabitants—loaded them again, and fired at a sheet of paper for half an hour without putting a grain in it.

“We went into a cow-house, near Bermondsey Spa, to get some milk for the dogs, and, laying down upon a heap of straw, we all fell fast asleep. We were awakened by the entrance of a cow and her calf, when we found we had been robbed of our dogs and our guns.

“We went into a public house to console ourselves for our loss, where we stayed till it was dark, that we might not be seen returning in such an unsportsmanlike manner.

“Agreed on the way what stories we should tell about the day's amusement and success: parted at the Monument, and went to our respective homes.”

There was evidently the same tender-hearted sentiment then, as now, with regard to the “tournament of doves”—see the Morning Post, November 19, 1810: “The expert marksmen in pidgeon killing matches  are very properly denominated slaughtermen ; four of these humane  gentlemen shot no less than thirty-six, for mere amusement, the other day on Finchley Common.”

Perhaps the principal out-door game (for football, as a game, was not yet organized, and hockey and golf had but local fame and habitations) was Cricket; and even this friendly sport, and generous rivalry, as we know it, was then contaminated by being played for money. Two or three examples, in one year, will be sufficient to show the motive of the game.

Morning Herald, July 1, 1802: “Cricket. Tuesday was played a grand match of Cricket on Hampstead Heath, between eleven Gentlemen of the Mary le bone Club, and nine Gentlemen of Hampstead and Highgate, with two men given, for 500 guineas, which was won by the latter, by 112 runs.”

Ibid., July 15, 1802: “Cricket. Tuesday was played a grand match of Cricket, at Chigwell, Essex, between eleven Gentlemen of Chigwell and eleven Gentlemen of the Mile End Club, for 500 guineas, which was won by the latter by 23 runs. Even betting at starting.

“Yesterday a grand match of Cricket was played at Camberwell, between eleven Gentlemen of Camberwell and Peckham, and eleven Gentlemen of Clapham, for 500 guineas, which was won by the former by three wickets.”

Ibid., September 3, 1802: “Cricket. Monday last, and two following days, was played a grand match of Cricket, on Ripley Green, Surrey, between eleven Gentlemen of All England, and twenty-two Gentlemen of Surrey, for 1,000 guineas, which was won by the former in one in (? innings), and twenty-five runs.”

Lord, whose Cricket-ground was afterwards bought by the M.C.C., and which still goes by his name, then had the ground now covered by Harewood and Dorset Squares: the date of removal thence to the present ground is noted in an advertisement in the Morning Post, April 21, 1809: “Cricket GroundLord  begs to inform the Noblemen and Gentlemen, lovers of Cricket, that he has enclosed and levelled a large piece of Ground, at the top of Lisson Grove, a short distance from his old Ground, which, for size and beauty of situation cannot be excelled, which will be ready for playing on by the beginning of May, to be known by the name of Lord's Saint John's Wood Cricket Ground.”

Then also was played a game, now practically defunct in this country, but vigorous enough in America, where it is known as Base-ball. Morning Herald, September 22, 1802: “On Monday last was finished, at Haverstock Hill, near Hampstead, a grand Match of Trap  and Ball, between twenty-five Gentlemen of the Law, and five of the Gospel, which was won by the former.”

Billiards was an old indoor game, which had somewhat fallen into abeyance, but was reviving, for we read, in the Morning Post, September 28, 1809: “Billiards are becoming very fashionable; it is an amusement of a gentlemanly cast—giving at once activity to the limbs, and grace to the person. A match was played yesterday at Kidman's.”

From this illustration, which is taken from a little book entitled, “New Instructions for Playing in all its Varieties, the Game of Billiards,” &c., 1801, there seems to have been but little difference either in the play, or in the furniture of the room, between the past and the present times. They must have played a somewhat heavy, and dead game, though, for neither india-rubber cushions, nor slate tables, were known. The rules for the game are similar to our own.

This little book gives a curious biography, which I am tempted, as it is short, to copy.


Account of Mr. Andrews , the celebrated Billiard Player.

“Mr. Andrews was born to an easy independent fortune, but, commencing life at a time that he was incapable of judging of the world, or of himself, was led away by a single passion; for he was not actuated by any other. He devoted himself entirely to the blind goddess, and worshipped her incessantly, under the form of two ivory balls. He was remarkably thin, not very tall, though above the middle size: his face was a perfect vacuum with respect to every possible idea except Billiards. So infatuated was he in pursuing this game, to attain the summit of excellence at it, that he sacrificed days, nights, weeks, months, and years to it.

“At length he arrived at such a degree of perfection, as well in the theoretical, as in the practical part of the game, that there was no player in Europe could equal him, except one, who was the celebrated Abraham Carter, who kept the tables at the corner of the Piazzas, Russel Street, Covent Garden. Mr. Andrews was the most devoted adept of this game that ever nature produced; he seemed but to vegetate in a Billiard Room, and, indeed, he did little more in any other place. He was a perfect Billiard Valetudinarian, in the most rigid significance of the expression. He ate, drank, slept, walked, nay, talked but to promote the system of the balls. His regimen was tea, and toast and butter, for breakfast, for dinner, and for supper.

“It might reasonably be imagined, that so regular a professor would obtain all the advantages that could result from the science. He won considerable sums, but knew not the value of money; and when playing for only five or ten pounds, he took no pains, but seemed perfectly indifferent about winning or losing. There was a latent finesse in this, but it did not operate to his advantage: he was laying by for bets, but as they were seldom offered, the strength of his play being very well known, he often lost by repeated small sums, very considerable ones.

“It is generally believed, however, that he has played for more money at billiards than any other person ever did. The following is a remarkable circumstance: he, one night, won of Col. W—— e upwards of £1,000, and the Colonel appointed to meet him the next day to go with him to the City, to transfer Stock to him for the amount of the sum lost. Being in a hackney coach, they tossed up who should pay for it. Andrews lost, and upon this small beginning he was excited to continue, till he had lost the whole sum he had won the night before at billiards. When the coachman stopped to get down, he was ordered to get up again, and drive them back, as they had no occasion to get out.

“By these pursuits he lost very large sums which he had won at billiards; and, in a few years, hazard, and other games of chance, stripped him of every shilling he could command. He had still left a small annuity which he endeavoured to dispose of, but it was so securely settled upon himself that he could not sell it; otherwise it is probable that it would soon have been transferred at the gaming table. He very lately lived in a retired manner in Kent, where he declared to an intimate old acquaintance that he never knew contentment when he was rolling in money; but, since he was obliged to live upon a scanty pittance, he thought himself one of the happiest men in the universe.”

Execution for treason—Burying a suicide at the junction of a cross-road—Supposed last such burial in London—The Prisons—List, and description of them—Bow Street Police Office—Expense of the Police and Magistracy—Number of watchmen, &c., in 1804—The poor, and provision for them—Educational establishments.

BUT OF ALL brutal sentences, that for the crime of high treason, was the worst. When Colonel Despard was sentenced to death for conspiracy, on the 9th of February, 1802, the words used by the Judge, were as follow:—

“The only thing now remaining for me, is the painful task of pronouncing against you, and each of you, the awful sentence which the law denounces against your crime, which is, that you, and each of you (here his lordship named the prisoners severally), be taken to the place from whence you came, and from thence you are to be drawn on hurdles to the place of Execution, where you are to be hanged by the neck, but not until you are dead; for while you are still living, your bodies are to be taken down, your bowels torn out, and burnt before your faces! your heads are to be then cut off, and your bodies divided each into four quarters, and your heads and quarters to be then at the King's disposal; and may the Almighty God have mercy on your Souls.”

In this case the disembowelling and dismemberment were remitted, but they were dragged to the place of execution on a hurdle, which, in this instance, was the body of a small cart, on which two trusses of clean straw were laid. They were hanged, and after hanging for about twenty-five minutes, “till they were quite dead,” they were cut down. “Colonel [80] Despard was first cut down, his body placed upon saw dust, and his head on a block. After his coat had been taken off, his head was severed from his body. The executioner then took the head by the hair, and carrying it to the edge of the parapet on the right hand, held it up to the view of the populace, and exclaimed, “This is the head of a traitor—Edward Marcus Despard !... The bodies were then put into their different shells, and are to be delivered to their friends for interment.”

Another relic of barbarism was the driving a stake through the body of a suicide, and burying him at the junction of a cross road—Morning Post, April 27, 1810: “The Officers appointed to execute the ceremony of driving a stake through the dead body of James Cowling, a deserter from the London Militia, who deprived himself of existence, by cutting his throat, at a public-house in Gilbert Street, Clare Market, in consequence of which, the Coroner's Jury found a verdict of Self-murder, very properly delayed the business until twelve o'clock on Wednesday night, when the deceased was buried in the cross roads at the end of Blackmoor Street, Clare Market.”

The motive for this practice was, that by fastening the body to the ground, by means of a stake, it rendered it “of the earth, earthy,” and thus prevented its perturbed spirit from wandering about. It is believed that the last burial of a suicide in London, at a cross road, was in June, 1823, when a man, named Griffiths, was buried about half-past one a.m., at the junction of Eaton Street, Grosvenor Place, and the King's Road, but no stake was driven through the body.

The Prisons in London were fairly numerous, but several of them were for debtors, whose case was very evil. There they languished, many in the most abject poverty, for years, trusting to the charity of individuals, or to funds either bequeathed, or set aside, for bettering their condition. In 1804, an Act was passed (44 Geo. III. cap. 108, afterwards repealed by the Stat. Law. Rev. Act, 1872) for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors, and they were not slow in taking advantage of it. Not only had they poverty, and loss of liberty, to contend with, but gaol fever, which carried them off at times, and cleared the prisons. So contagious was it, that in February, 1805, almost all the cadets at Woolwich suffered from it, and several died. It was imported into the school, by one of the cadets, who had been to visit some prison.

The prisons were as follow, in 1805:—

1. King's Bench Prison, for debtors on process or execution, and for persons under sentence for misdemeanour, &c. This was in St. George's Fields, Southwark, and was considered more wholesome than the London prisons. There were districts surrounding the prison both here, and at the Fleet, where prisoners could dwell, without going inside, by payment of fees. The prisoners inside the King's Bench, could but obtain leave to go out once every term, or four times a year. There were 300 rooms in the prison, but it was always full, and decent accommodation was even more expensive to obtain, than at the Fleet.

2. The Fleet Prison was one belonging to the Courts of Common Pleas, and Chancery, to which debtors might remove themselves from any other prison, at the expense of six or seven pounds. A contemporary account says:

“It contains 125 rooms, besides a common kitchen, coffee and tap rooms, but the number of prisoners is generally so great, that two, or even three, persons are obliged to submit to the shocking inconvenience of living in one small room!! Those who can afford it, pay their companion to chum  off, and thus have a room to themselves. Each person so paid off, receives four shillings a week. The prisoner pays one shilling and threepence a week for his room without furniture, and an additional sevenpence for furniture. Matters are sometimes so managed, that a room costs the needy and distressed prisoner from ten to thirteen shillings a week.


“Those who have trades that can be carried on in a room, generally work, and some gain more than they would out of doors, after they become acquainted with the ways of the place. During the quarterly terms,[81] when the court sits, prisoners, on paying five shillings a day, and on giving security, are allowed to go out when they please, and there is a certain space round the prison, called the rules, in which prisoners may live, on furnishing two good securities to the warden for their debt, and on paying about 3 per cent. on the amount of their debts to the warden. The rules extend only from Fleet Market to the London Coffee House, and from Ludgate Hill to Fleet Lane, so that lodgings are bad, and very dear. Within the walls there is a yard for walking in, and a good racquet ground.”

3. Ludgate Prison, or Giltspur Street Compter, for debtors who were freemen of the City of London.

4. Poultry Compter—a dark, small, ill-aired dungeon—used as a House of Detention.

5. Newgate—which was the gaol both for Criminals, and Debtors, for the County of Middlesex. On the debtors' side, the overcrowding was something terrible. The felons', or State side, as it was called, was far more comfortable, and the criminals better accommodated. The prison might, then, be visited on payment of two or three shillings to the turnkeys, and giving away a few more to the most distressed debtors.

6. The New Prison, Clerkenwell, was also a gaol for the County of Middlesex, and was built in 1775. The fare here was very meagre—only a pound of bread a day.

7. Prison for the liberty of the Tower of London, Wellclose Square.

8. Whitechapel Prison, for debtors in actions in the Five Pounds Courts, or the Court of the Manor of Stepney.

9. The Savoy Prison, used as a Military prison, principally for deserters.

10. Horsemonger Lane Gaol, the County prison for Surrey.

11. The Clink, a small debtors prison in Southwark.

12. The Marshalsea Gaol, in Southwark, for pirates.

13. The House of Correction, Cold Bath Fields, which was built according to a plan of Howard, the philanthropist, on the basis of solitary confinement. At this time it was dreaded as a place of punishment, and went by the name of the Bastille. (Its slang name now is the Steel.)


The prisoners were not too well fed. A pound of bread, and twopenny worth of meat a day, and a very fair amount of work to do—was not calculated to make it popular among the criminal classes.

It was the only prison in which the inmates wore uniform. That of the men was blue jacket and trousers, with yellow stockings, whilst the women had a blue jacketand blue petticoat. They had clean linen every week; so that, probably, it was a healthy prison. One good thing about it was, that a portion of the prisoners' earnings was reserved, and given to them when they quitted prison.

14. City Bridewell, Blackfriars, was a house of Correction for the City.

15. Tothill Fields, Bridewell, was a similar institution for Westminster.

16. New Bridewell, Southwark, for Surrey.

Besides these public prisons, were several private establishments used as provisional prisons—kept by the Sheriffs Officers, called lock-up, or, sponging houses, where for twelve, or fourteen shillings a day, a debtor might remain, either until he found the means to repay the debt, or it was necessary to go to a public prison, when the writ against him became returnable. They were nests of extortion and robbery.

The Police Offices in London were:

The Mansion House.Lambeth Street, Whitechapel.
Guildhall.High Street, Shadwell.
Bow Street.Union Street, Southwark.
Hatton Garden.Queen's Square, Westminster.
Worship Street.Great Marlborough Street.

Wapping New Stairs, for offences committed on the Thames. Of those extra  the City, Bow Street was the chief, and the head magistrate there, was called the Chief Magistrate, and received a stipend of £1,000 per annum; a large sum in those days. He was assisted by two others, at a salary of £500 each.

Dr. Patrick Colquhoun called so much attention to the inefficiency of the police, that a Committee of the House of Commons, in the session of 1798, sifted the matter, and from the report of this Committee, only, can we gather the criminal statistics of the kingdom (at least with regard to its expense).


The amount of the general expense of the criminal police of the kingdom, is stated by the Committee as follows:

1st.The annual average of the total expense of the seven public offices in the Metropolis from their institution in 1792, to the end of the year 1797 £18,281 18 6
2nd.Total expenses of the office in Bow Street in the year 1797, including remuneration to the magistrates in lieu of fees, perquisites, &c., and the expense of a patrol of sixty-eight persons 7,901 7 7
Total for the Metropolis £26,183 6 1
The other expenses for the prosecution and conviction of felons, the maintenance, clothing, employment, and transportation of convicts, to which may be added the farther sums annually charged on the county rates, amounted in 1797 to £215,869 13 10½

In 1804, it was estimated that there were 2,044 beadles and watchmen, and 38 patrols, on nightly duty in, and around the Metropolis. Of these, the City proper, with its 25 wards, contributed 765 watchmen, and 38 patrols.

The poor were pretty well taken care of. Besides the parochial workhouses, there were 107 endowed almshouses, and many other like institutions; the City Companies, it was computed, giving upwards of £75,000, yearly, away in charity. There were very many institutions for charitable, and humane purposes—mostly founded during the previous century—for the relief of widows and orphans, deaf and dumb persons, lunatics, relief of small debtors, the blind, the industrious poor, &c. And there were 1,600 Friendly Societies in the Metropolis, and its vicinity, enrolled under the Act, 33 George III. cap. 54. These had 80,000 members, and their average payments were £1 each per annum.

For education in London, there were:

16 Inns of Court and Chancery, for education in the law.
5 Colleges, viz., Zion College, Gresham, Physicians, Doctors Commons, and Herald's College.
62 Schools or public Seminaries, such as Westminster, the Blue Coat, St. Paul's, Merchant Taylors, Charterhouse, &c., educating some 5,000 children.
237 Schools, belonging to the different parishes, educating some 9000.
3,730 Private Schools.
4,050 Total Seminaries of Education.

This does not include nearly twenty educational establishments such as the Orphan Working School, the Marine Society, Freemasons School, &c.

And there were about the same number of Religious and Moral Societies, such as the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, Religious Tract Society, Missionary Societies, &c.; besides a number of Sunday Schools—so that we see education, and philanthropy, were hard at work in the Dawn of the Nineteenth Century.

[80]The Times, February 22, 1805.

[81]These days amounted to 80 or 90 in the year.

The Theatre—Number of theatres in London—Famous actors and actresses—Disturbances at a theatre—Master Betty, “The Infant Roscius”—His country experience—Puffs preliminary—His first appearance in London—Crowds to see him—Presented to the King and the Prince of Wales—Acts at Drury Lane—His subsequent career.

IN THE Dawn of the Nineteenth Century, the theatre was a favourite amusement for the good folks, probably because there were no other public forms of amusement, if we except an occasional concert or masquerade. The stage supplied this want, and the people took due advantage of it. The audience, through much frequenting, were critically educated, and demanded good acting. This, as a rule, they obtained, partially, as I think, because there were fewer actors, and, consequently, not so many mediocre performers as now, and partly owing to the constant change of performance—there being no “long runs,” as we know them, where an actor mechanically goes through the same part for hundreds of nights, until, like Sothern, he absolutely, and unconsciously, adopts his own mannerisms, and spoils himself for a fresh part.

The richer, and titled classes, were not content with witnessing professional skill, but strove to emulate and surpass the performers at their own amateur entertainments, and the most notable of these private societies was the Pic Nic Society.

There were eight Theatres in London, i.e., when one or other was not burnt down—namely, The King's, Haymarket; Covent Garden; Drury Lane; Theatre Royal, Haymarket; The Royalty, in Goodman's Fields; Sadlers Wells; Astley's; and the Royal Circus, now the Surrey, on the other side the river.

Of course, as would be only natural, the best actors were at the West-end Theatres, and to show their calibre, one has only to mention such names as John Philip Kemble, Munden, Bannister, Dowton, Elliston, Liston, Mrs. Siddons, Fawcett, Mrs. Jordan, Kelly, Johnstone, Young, Cooke, &c. No wonder, that with such actors, the stage was popular. Their names are still a tradition of excellence to the profession, and the performances, with one notable exception, in the O. P. Riots, were listened to with great decorum, and there was a vast improvement upon the rougher manners of the previous century.

I can only find the mention of one fracas  in the whole ten years, and the report of that, in the Annual Register, December 26, 1801, shows how very far the audience were from sympathizing with the offender. “At Covent Garden Theatre the holiday folks were inclined to be mischievous. As soon as the curtain drew up to commence the play of ‘Richard the Third,' a wine glass was thrown on the stage by way of prologue, but without exciting much observation; a few minutes after, determined to attract notice, a quart bottle was thrown from the two-shilling gallery on the stage; it grazed the hat of Mr. Betterton, who was playing Tressel to Murray's Henry VI., knocked out some of the jewels, and, falling on the stage, rolled down to the lamps unbroken. The audience were thunderstruck, the play stood still, and, for a few seconds, every one gazed with amazement. Satisfied of what had been done, a general burst of indignation broke out over the house, and ‘throw him over!' ‘turn him out!' were vociferated from all quarters. The villain was pointed out by his neighbours, sitting in the front row of the two-shilling gallery. He was seized, the people in the pit, and the boxes, rising up, and considerable agitation prevailed. The fellow, who was drunk, held by the iron railing, and refused to retire. This provoked the resentment against him still more, and the cries of vengeance were loud and general. Three or four laid hold of him, and seemed as if they would drag rail and all away; at last, they succeeded in taking him out of the theatre.”

In this decade appeared a theatrical phenomenon—the like of which has never been seen since; in the shape of a boy, who was endowed with a truly marvellous gift of acting—one Master William Henry West Betty, surnamed “The Infant Roscius,” who was born at Shrewsbury, September 13, 1791. His parents were extremely respectable, and in easy circumstances—so that it was not from need, but from pure inclination, that he adopted the stage as a profession. Whilst yet a child, he was fond of declamation with action, and, before he was twelve, he acted the part of Osman in Voltaire's tragedy of Zara, at the Theatre, Belfast. He was, at that time, residing in Ireland, and the theatres, having been closed for some time previously, owing to the disturbed state of the country, were glad of any attraction when they did open—so Betty took an engagement at the above theatre, for four nights, on the understanding that he was to share the house, after deducting twelve pounds, for the expenses of the house. His first performance was on the 19th of August, 1803, when he was not yet twelve years old. Next day he was the talk of Belfast, and on the other three nights he played Norval, Rolla, and Romeo.

Then he went to Dublin, Cork, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Birmingham, at which latter place he was heard by Mr. Justice Graham, one of the Board of Management of Drury Lane Theatre. He reported about the infant genius, and proposals were made, which were too low to be acceptable. He was afterwards engaged to play at Covent Garden, and, owing to an informality in the agreement, Drury Lane got hold of him on the intervening nights, at the same salary.


Whoever was his entrepreneur, he did his work well, and the puff preliminary was very delicately administered. The first notice of this kind that I can find, is in the Morning Herald, August 6, 1804. “A very extraordinary phenomenon has lately burst upon the theatrical  world. A boy of the name of Beatie, not exceeding twelve years of age, reads and enacts all the principal of Shakespeare's characters, in a stile of superiority that astonishes the most experienced Actors. He has performed in Ireland, and is now exciting general astonishment at Edinburgh. Off the stage his manners are puerile, as he is often seen playing at marbles in a morning, and Richard the Third in the evening. He is rather short of his age, slight made, but has great expression of countenance. The moment he begins to converse upon stage business, he appears an inspired being. He has a pleasant turn for repartee, which makes his company much sought for. The Edinburgh Manager expressed his fears, at first rehearsal, that his voice would not fill the house. ‘My dear Sir,' replied the little hero of the buskin, ‘I beg you will be under no apprehensions upon that score, for, if my voice does not fill your house, probably my playing will!'”

Here is an anecdote of him, probably got up to suit the public. Morning Herald, November 16, 1804: “The Young Roscius, who is in all respects play ful, lately hesitated in going on the stage when he was to perform Richard. Young, the chief Liverpool actor, told him the stage was waiting, and urged him to appear. The boy declared, that, unless Young would bend his back, that he might have one jump at leap-frog, he would not appear. After some demur at this whimsical request, and some useless remonstrance, Young was obliged to submit; and the little fellow then went upon the stage, and performed his part with admirable spirit.”

Kept always before the public, in this manner, no wonder curiosity was stimulated to the highest pitch, and that when he did appear, he received an ovation. The mildest contemporary account of his début  in London, is in the Morning Herald, of the 3rd of December, 1804, and I extract a portion. “On Saturday evening (December 1st) this prodigy of early excellence, whose merits have been as much extolled in the provinces, as they have been sceptically regarded in the Metropolis, met the fiery ordeal  of a London audience. There has not been, within our recollection, any manifestation of public anxiety which can be quoted, as equalling that displayed on this occasion. At one o'clock the doors of the Pit and Gallery were besieged with expectants. At five, the outer doors of the box passages were forced open, and the boxes were occupied by an immense crowd, who forcibly ejected the persons stationed to keep places. The numbers still poured in with such rapidity, and pressure, that some hundreds leaped from the Boxes into the Pit, which was so crowded by this accession, that numbers must have perished, but for the humane attentions of some Ladies in the Boxes, who assisted in raising them, and passing them to the lobbies. The number outside the House and in the passages still continued to increase, though every effort was made to assure them that their exertions must be unavailing. We have not heard of any fatal accident, but the faintings, bruises, and minor contingencies are beyond all enumeration.”

The play was “Barbarossa” (by Dr. Browne), and Master Betty took the part of Selim. In the second scene—“Where he sounds the feelings of Othman, he showed exquisite judgment and sensibility. In the close of the scene when he says:

‘Oh! thou hast rous'd a thought on which revenge
Mounts with redoubled fire!'

his fine blue eyes lighted up a countenance full of expression—his attitudes were graceful and appropriate, and the strong emotion seemed to pervade every fibre of his frame. The applauses which greeted his entrée were redoubled, and loud huzzas  and bravos  resounded through the Theatre. In the third act, with his mother, his pathos  and his judgment were both transcendent. When to the caution of Othman  he replies, ... the energy of his delivery was such as to leave all description at a distance: but the closing soliloquy was the very climax of excellence....

“In passing from particulars to generals, we feel ourselves at a loss how to proceed. We cannot try him as a boy, who comes forward with such superior pretensions. We cannot rate him as a man, when so many means of future excellence are as yet unripened and undisclosed. When we mention that his step is firm and manly—his gesticulation free and unembarrassed—and his delivery and emphasis in general most correct, we speak of things which might, possibly, through tuition be acquired. But the intelligence of manner—the eloquence of the eye when speech was denied—the rapid yet judicious transitions from prostrate affliction to dignified resentment—are qualities which a Garrick  might display, but which he never could transfuse. We do not mean to hold forth this youth as a model of perfection, but that, at his age, and with so few opportunities, he should approach so nearly to perfection, is the wonder which it is our province to record.”


The great John Kemble  was said to have been much put out at the amount of attention this child received, and Rowlandson caricatured the young Roscius leaping over “Black Jack's” head.

The crowding to see him still continued, and there is an amusing caricature by Ansell of the difficulties to be encountered, in order to obtain a glimpse of the precocious boy. The scene is vividly depicted. “Has any lady lost a flannel dickey?” “Who owns a shoe?” “That Dickey belongs to me, young man,” exclaims a lady whose dress bears palpable tokens of the fray. A plaintive voice is heard bewailing, “I'm a bran new hat out of pocket;” whilst a cripple inquires, “Has any of the good people found a Crutch?”


All sorts of ruses  were attempted, in order to see Master Betty without inconvenience. Here is one of them—Morning Herald, December 14, 1804: “A curioustrick was last night discovered at Drury Lane Theatre. Some of the Performers in the Orchestra had been induced to yield their places to as many sprigs  of fashion, who entered with their violins under their arms, and with greased bows, that they might not interrupt the harmony to which they could not contribute. The fraud was discovered in time, and the falsetto  fashionables were civilly ushered back to the outer door !”

He was presented to the Prince of Wales at Carlton House; and, on the 5th of December, 1804, when he was acting at Covent Garden, the King and the Royal Family went to Drury Lane to see the “School for Scandal,” and the King having expressed a wish to see the marvellous boy, Sheridan had him fetched, and hence the illustration of “The Introduction,” by J. B. Sheridan introduces him to the King as “The Wonder of the Theatrical World—A Diamond amongst Pebbles—A Snowdrop in a Mud-pool—The Golden Fleece of the Morning Chronicle ! The Idol of the Sun ! The Mirror of the Times ! The Glory of the Morning Post ! The Pride of the Herald ! and the finest Cordial of the Publican's Advertiser.” The young Roscius thus presented, makes his bow to the Royal Couple, saying, “Never till this hour stood I in such a presence, yet there is something in my breast which makes me bold to say that Norval ne'er will shame thy favour.”

He also visited the Duke of Clarence, and Charles James Fox; and, when he had an illness, probably induced by over excitement, and petting, so numerous were the inquiries after his precious health, that bulletins had to be issued.

At Drury Lane his first appearance was as enthusiastically received, as at Covent Garden; and, if possible, more riotously, for the mob broke all the windows within their reach, on the Vinegar Yard side of the Theatre, and, when the passages were thrown open, the balustrades, on both sides of the staircase which led to the boxes, were entirely demolished.


From 1805 to 1808, he principally played at the provincial theatres, and in the latter year, being seventeen years of age, he was entered as a gentleman Commoner of Christ's College, Cambridge, and also was gazetted as Cornet in the North Shropshire Yeomanry Cavalry. His father died in 1811, and he then left Cambridge, residing on an estate his father had purchased, near Shrewsbury. Here he stayed till he was twenty years old, when his passion for the stage revived; and he acted, with occasional intermissions, until he was thirty-two years old, when he retired from the stage, and lived a quiet life until his death, which took place on the 24th of August, 1874.

Volunteer Regulations—The Brunswick Rifle—“Brown Bess”—Volunteer shooting—Amount subscribed to Patriotic Fund—Mr. Miller's patriotic offer.

THE VOLUNTEERS were a useful body. They served as police, and were duly drummed to church on the National Fast and Thanksgiving days, to represent the national party; and, as I do not know whether the terms under which they were called into being, are generally known, I venture to transcribe them, even though they be at some length. Times, September 30, 1803:


for the

Establishments, Allowances , &c.


Corps  and Companies  of Volunteer Infantry ,

accepted subsequently to August 3, 1803.

War Office, September 3, 1803.

“A Regiment to consist of not more than 12 Companies, nor less than 8 Companies.

“A Battallion to consist of not more than 7 Companies, nor less than 4 Companies.

“A Corps to consist of not less than 3 Companies.

“Companies to consist of not less than 60, nor more than 120 Privates.

“To each Company 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Second Lieutenant or Ensign.

It is, however, to be understood that where the establishment of any Companies has already been fixed at a lower number by Government, it is to remain unaltered by the Regulation.

“Companies of 90 Privates and upwards to have 2 Lieutenants and 1 Second Lieutenant or Ensign; or 3 Lieutenants, if a Grenadier or Light Infantry Company.

“Regiments consisting of 1,000 Privates to have 1 Lieut.-Col. Commandant, 2 Lieut.-Colonels, and 2 Majors.

“No higher rank than that of Lieut.-Col. Commandant to be given, unless where persons have, already, borne high rank in His Majesty's forces.

“Regiments of not less than 800 Privates, to have 1 Lieut.-Col. Commandant, 1 Lieut.-Colonel, and 2 Majors.

“Regiments of not more than 480 Privates to have 1 Lieut.-Col. Commandant, 1 Lieut.-Colonel, and 1 Major.

“Battalions of less than 480 Privates to have 1 Lieut.-Colonel, and 1 Major.

“Corps consisting of 3 Companies, to have 1 Major Commandant, and no other Field Officer.

“Every Regiment of 8 Companies, or more, may have 1 Company of Grenadiers, and 1 Company of Light Infantry, each of which to have 2 Lieutenants instead of 1 Lieutenant, and 1 Second Lieutenant or Ensign.

“Every Battalion of 7 Companies, and not less than 4, may have 1 Company of Grenadiers, or 1 Company of Light Infantry, which Company may have 2 Lieutenants instead of 1, and 1 Second Lieutenant or Ensign.

“One Serjeant and 1 Corporal to every 20 Privates.

“One Drummer to every Company, when not called out into actual service.

“Two Drummers when called out.


“An Adjutant, Surgeon, Quarter-Master, and Serjeant-Major, may be allowed on the establishment of Corps of sufficient strength, as directed by the Militia Laws; but neither the said Staff Officers, nor any other Commissioned Officer, will have any pay or allowance whatever, except in the following cases, viz.:

“If a Corps, or any part thereof, shall be called upon to act in cases of riot or disturbance, the charge of constant pay may be made for such services, for all the effective Officers and Men employed on such duty, at the following rates, the same being supported by a Certificate from His Majesty's Lieutenant, or the Sheriff of the County; but, if called out in case of actual invasion, the corps is to be paid and disciplined in all respects, as the regular Infantry; the Artillery Companies excepted, which are then to be paid as the Royal Artillery.

Per diem.s.d.
Field Officer or Captain of a Company 9 5
Lieutenant 5 8
Second Lieutenant or Ensign 4 8
Adjutant 8 0
Quarter-Master 5 8
Surgeon 10 0
Serjeant-Major, and 2s. 6d. per week in addition 1 6
Serjeant 1 6
Corporal 1 2
Drummer 1 0
Private 1 0

“The only instances in which pay will be allowed, by Government, for any individual of the Corps when not so called out, are those of an Adjutant and Serjeant-Major, for whom pay will be granted at the rates following: Adjutant 6s. a day, Serjeant-Major 1s. 6d. per diem, and 2s. 6d. per week—in addition, if authorized by His Majesty's Secretary of State, in consequence of a particular application from the Lord Lieutenant of the County, founded upon the necessity of the case; but this indulgence cannot be allowed under any circumstances unless the Corps to which the Adjutant may belong, shall consist of not less than 500 effective rank and file, and he shall have served at least five years as a Commissioned Officer in the Regulars, embodied Militia, Fencibles, or East India Company's Service; and, unless the Corps to which the Serjeant-Major may belong, shall consist of not less than 200 effective rank and file, and he shall have served at least three years in some of His Majesty's forces.

“Drill Serjeants of Companies are to be paid by the Parishes to which their respective Companies belong, as is provided in the 43rd Geo. III. cap. 120. sec. 11, and no charge to be made for them in the accounts to be transmitted to the War Office.

“Pay at the rate of one shilling per man per day for twenty days' exercise within the year to the effective Non-commissioned Officers—(not being Drill Serjeants paid by the Parish) Drummers and Privates of the Corps, agreeably to their terms of service. No pay can be allowed for any man who shall not have attended for the complete period of twenty days.

“When a charge of constant pay is made for an Adjutant, or Serjeant-Major, his former services must be particularly stated in the pay list wherein the first charge is made.

“The allowance for clothing is twenty shillings per man, once in three years, to the effective non-commissioned officers, drummers, and privates of the Corps.

“The necessary pay lists will be sent from the War Office, addressed to the several Commandants, who will take care that the Certificates be regularly signed whenever the twenty days' exercise shall have been completed, and the clothing actually furnished to the man. The allowance for the twenty days' exercise may be drawn for immediately, and that for clothing, in one month from the receipt of such pay lists at the War Office, by bills, signed by the several Commandants, at thirty days' sight, upon the general agent: unless any objection to the latter charges shall be signified officially to the said Commandant in the meantime.

“The whole to be clothed in red, with the exception of the Corps of Artillery, which may have blue clothing, and Rifle Corps, which may have green, with black belts.

“Serjeant-Major receiving constant pay and Drill Serjeants paid by the parish, to be attested, and to be subject to military law, as under 43 Geo. III. cap. 121.

“All applications for arms and accoutrements should be made through the Lord Lieutenant of the County, directly to the Board of Ordnance, and all applications for ammunition, for exercise, or practice, should be made through the inspecting Field Officers of Yeomanry and Volunteers to the Board of Ordnance annually. Ammunition for service should be drawn through the medium of the inspecting Field Officer, from the depôt under the orders of the General Officer of the District.

“The arms furnished by the Board of Ordnance to Corps of Volunteer Infantry are as follows: Musquets, complete with accoutrements; drummer's swords; drums with sticks; spears for serjeants.

“The articles furnished to Volunteer Artillery by the Board of Ordnance, are pikes, drummer's swords, and drums with sticks.

“Spears are allowed for Serjeants, and pikes to any extent for accepted men not otherwise armed.

“The following allowances, in lieu of accoutrements, &c., when required, may be obtained on application by the Commandant of the Corps to the Board of Ordnance: 10s. 6d. per set in lieu of accoutrements; 3s. each drummer's sword belt; 2s. each drum carriage.

“Such Corps as have offered to serve free of expense, and have been accepted on those terms, can claim no allowance under these heads of service.

“Every Officer, Non-commissioned Officer, Corporal, Drummer, and Private Man, to take the oath of allegiance and fidelity to His Majesty, his heirs and successors.

“If the Commandant of a Corps should at any time desire an augmentation in the establishment thereof, or alteration in the title of the Corps, or the names, or dates of commissions of the officers, the same must be transmitted through the Lord Lieutenant of the County, in order to the amendment being submitted to His Majesty.

“All effective Members of Volunteer Corps and Companies accepted by His Majesty, are entitled to the exemptions from ballot allowed by 42 Geo. III. cap. 66, and Geo. III. cap. 121, provided that such persons are regularly returned in the muster rolls to be sent in to the Lord Lieutenant, or Clerk of the General Meetings of his County, at the timesin the manner, and certified upon honour by the Commandant, in the form prescribed by those Acts, and schedules thereto annexed.

“The Monthly Returns should be transmitted to the Inspecting Field Officer appointed to superintend the District in which the Corps is situated, and to the Secretary of State for the Home Department.”

Thus, we see that the regulations for the Volunteers were very similar to what they are now.

Of course the arms served out to them were, to our modern ideas, beneath contempt. There were a few Rifle Corps, who were armed with what was then called the Brunswick Rifle. It was short, because the barrel was very thick and heavy. The rifling was poly-grooved, the bullet spherical, and somewhat larger than the bore, so that when wrapped in a greased linen patch (carried in a box, or trap, in the butt of the gun) it required a mallet applied to the ramrod—to drive the bullet home—and fill up the grooves of the rifling. Of course it was a far superior weapon to the musket, or “Brown Bess”[75]—which was not calculated even to “hit a haystack” at thirty yards. The Morning Post, July 24, 1810, thus speaks of the shooting of a Corps: “The Hampstead Volunteers fired at a target yesterday on the Heath. Many excellent shots were fired, and some nearly entered ‘the Bull's eye.'”

They were always holding Volunteer reviews, and having Volunteer dinners, and Volunteers, generally, were raised to the rank, at least, of demigods—they were the saviours of their country. Never was there such bravery as that of these fire-eaters: and, if Boney  dared show his nose on English soil—why—every British Volunteer would, individually, capture him! Volunteering even made them moral, and religious—teste the Times, September 3, 1803: “Since the formation of Volunteer Corps, the very manners of many have taken a more moral turn: public-houses are deserted for the drill, our churches are better frequented, profane swearing is banished, every man looks to his character, respects the Corps in which he is enrolled, and is cautious in all he says or does, lest he should disgrace the name of a British Volunteer.”

There was a large Patriotic Fund got up, which on December 31, 1803, amounted in Consols  to £21,000, and in Money, to £153,982 5s. 7d., and it must be remembered that the taxes were very heavy. But there is an individual case of patriotism I cannot help chronicling, it is so typical of the predominant feeling of that time, that a man, and his goods, belonged to his country, and should be at his country's disposal. Times, September 6, 1803: “A Mr. Miller,[76] of Dalswinton, in Scotland, has written a letter to the Deputy Lieutenants of the County wherein he resides, in which he says: ‘I wish to insure my property, my share in the British Constitution, my family, myself, and my religion, against the French Invasion. As a premium, I offer to clothe and arm with pikes one hundred Volunteers, to be raised in this, or any of the neighbouring parishes, and to furnish them with three light field pieces ready for service. This way of arming, I consider superior with infantry, whether for attack or defence, to that now in use; but as to this, Government must determine. I am too old and infirm to march with these men, but I desire my eldest son to do so. He was ten years a soldier in the Foot and Horse service. In case of an invasion, I will be ready to furnish, when requested, 20 horses, 16 carts, and 16 drivers; and Government may command all my crops of hay, straw, and grain, which I estimate at 16,700 stones of hay, 14 lbs. to the stone, 14,000 bushels of pease, 5,000 bushels of oats, 3,080 bushels of barley.'”

[75]So called from the brown barrel. At one time all gun barrels were not only bright, but burnished—the date of the abolition of which, is fixed by the following—Morning Post, October 3, 1808: “The system of cropping the hair of the soldiers is on the point of being followed up by the adoption of a plan which will, no doubt, give equal satisfaction to the whole army: we mean the abolition of that absurd practice of polishing the arms, which, in some regiments, has been carried to such an excess as materially to injure the piece, and render it totally unfit for use in half the time estimated for fair wear in usual service. Fire-locks upon a new principle, with brown locks and barrels, have been already issued to the light companies of several regiments, and the Board of Ordnance have received orders to complete the issue to the remainder of the army, with all the expedition possible; in consequence of which, a requisition has been made of the gunsmiths in the several regiments to repair, without loss of time, to the Royal Manufactory of Arms at Lewisham.”

[76]Dalswinton is in county Dumfries, and the estate was about 5,000 acres, formerly belonging to the Comyns, but it came into the possession of Patrick Miller, Esq., who built a fine mansion on the site of the old castle. He was a man well up to his time, for here, in 1788, he launched, on a lake, the first steamboat ever attempted.

Food—Statistics as to quantity of meat consumed—Scarcity of fish and game—Supply of latter to London—Venison—A brewer's dinner—Beer—Quantity brewed—Wine—Its price—Supply of vegetables—Sardines and Harvey's Sauce—Scarcity of wheat—Forestalling—Rice from India—Bounties given for its shipment.

PEOPLE, then, were conservative with regard to food. For the ordinary Englishman was no appetizing plat, no refinement of cookery—anything out of the usual ruck would be promptly denounced, and fiercely spurned, as French kickshaws. Plain roast and boiled meats were universal, from the highest to the lowest; the quantity of animal food consumed throughout the country was enormous; and, what was more, it was all of home production. No frozen meat, no tinned provisions; the only known way of preserving then, was the time-honoured one of salting. In London alone, according to the very meagre statistics of the day, the number of bullocks slaughtered yearly was 110,000; of sheep and lambs 776,000; calves 210,000; hogs 210,000; sucking pigs, 60,000; besides an unknown quantity of animals of other kinds. This may be an approximate estimate of the number, based, probably, on the quantity sold at the various markets to the butchers, but can give us no idea of the weight, and consequent average consumption per head.

Fish was scarce, and dear; the war, naturally, prevented the fishermen from going far from the coast, and their numbers, moreover, were thinned by impressment. No railways to bring this very perishable commodity quickly to market, no ice to preserve it on its journey; the smack must go to port to unload her cargo, and, being entirely dependent on her sails, was at the mercy of the winds.

Inland, they never knew the taste of salt-water fish, unless some kind friend sent a cod, or turbot, packed in straw, in a basket, as a present by the mail, or stage, coach. Nor could the Londoner, then, get the abundant supply of our salmon rivers, which he now, in common with the whole of England, enjoys.

Game was very scarce, and dear. A country gentleman would not have dared to brave the public opinion of his county, by selling his game, and battues were unknown. The poachers did, undoubtedly, a good trade; and about Christmas time the mail, and stage, coaches came up, loaded with hares, &c.—a fact amusingly chronicled in the Morning Post  of the 26th of December, 1807: “The first of the Norwich and Yarmouth coaches arrived at a late hour on Thursday, when, strange to relate, every one of the passengers, inside and outside, were found dead ! Not less than four hundred brace of dead game  being unloaded from it, for the banqueting of the living Londoners  at this luxurious season.” If, however, a story told in the Times  of the 20th of January, 1803, is true, it was not always safe to buy game from the coaches: “Saturday night last, an epicure from Fish Street Hill, anxiously watched for the arrival of a Kentish coach, at the King's Head, in the Borough, in order to purchase a Hare  from the coachman, for his Sunday's dinner; an outside passenger, having learned his errand, brought him under the gateway, and sold him a very large one, as he thought, for nine shillings, which, however, upon his return home, proved to be a badger.”

Poultry was seldom seen except at the tables of the very well to do. The supply was deficient, and they had not the resources we have of railway carriage, and especially of the Continental markets; consequently prices were exorbitant. Venison was considered the  dish for an epicure, and was sold—chiefly by pastry cooks—at a reasonable rate: in fact, there were coffee houses where a venison dinner could be obtained for 2s. 6d. Probably the following advertisement indicates a somewhat better style of entertainment—Morning Herald, July 18, 1804: “Venison  in perfection. At the Worcester Coffee House, corner of Swallow Street, Oxford Street, Gentlemen may depend on having prime Venison. A Haunch and Neck dressed every day, ready precisely at five o'clock, at the reasonable charge for dinner of 3s. 6d. Wines and Liquors of the finest flavour; best old Port 4s. 6d. per bottle. Venison ready dressed, and pasties sent out. N.B. Fifty brace of good Bucks wanted.”

It was an age of eating and drinking—i.e., men ate and drank in larger quantities than now; but we must not take the following as a typical feast of the time; it was simply a brewer's dinner, cooked after a brewer's fashion—yet it was also typical, for then the cult of beefsteak and porter was at its culminating point, and people bowed down, and reverenced them exceedingly. The Morning Post, May 30, 1806: “Alderman Combe's Annual Dinner. Yesterday, Mr. Combe gave his annual dinner at his brewery, near Long Acre. The party consisted of the Prince of Wales, Duke of Norfolk, Lord Chancellor, Earl of Lauderdale, Lord Robert Spencer, Lord Howick, Sir Gilbert Heathcote, Lord John Townshend, Mr. R. B. Sheridan, Mr. Tierney, Mr. Harvey Combe, and Mr. Alderman Combe. At half an hour past six, the company sat down to dinner. The entertainment consisted of beefsteaks and porter. It was served up in the same style as it was last year. An oaken table, of an oblong form, was set out in the long room of the brewhouse. This table was covered with a large hempen sack, and covers, consisting of wooden trenchers, were laid for each of the guests. The other paraphernalia of the table, namely, the spoons, salt-cellars, salad bowls, &c., were composed of the same material as the plates. The Steaks were cooked by the Stoker, a man so called from his being always employed to keep the fires. This Stoker dressed the Steaks upon a large plate of iron, which was placed in the Copper-hole. When done, the Cook took them out with a pair of tongs, conveyed them into a wooden dish, and, in that style, they were served up. At the expiration of half an hour, the Prince, and the company, retired to Mr. Combe's house, in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, where they partook of a second course, consisting of every delicacy of the season, together with a dessert of fruits, the most rare and abundant we have ever seen. The Madeira, Port, and Claret were the objects of every one's panegyric.”

Beer was the national beverage, and it was brewed from good malt and hops; not out of sugar, and chemical bedevilments, as at present: and the quantity drunk in London, alone, seems to be enormous. Vide  the Annual Register  for 1810:

“The Quantity of strong beer brewed by the first twelve houses in the London Porter Brewery, from the 5th of July, 1809, to the 5th of July, 1810.

Barclay, Perkins and Co.235,053
Meux, Read and Co.211,009
Truman, Hanbury and Co.144,990
Felix, Calvert and Co.133,491
Whitbread and Co.110,939
Henry Meux and Co.93,660
Combe and Co.85,150
Brown and Parry 84,475
Goodwin, Skinner and Co.74,223
Elliott and Co.57,251
Taylor 44,510
Clowes and Co.41,594

Wines, of course, were drunk by the higher classes, but French wines were comparatively dear, owing to the closing of the trade with France; still there was a very fair quantity captured in the prizes taken at sea, and there was a great deal more smuggled.

Frontignac in 1800 might be bought for 19s. 6d. per doz., and Muscatel at 24s. In 1804, the following are the prices from a respectable wine merchant's list.

Superior Old Port 38s.per dozen.
Prime Old Sherry 42s.
Madeira 63s.
Bucellas 40s.
Mountain, Lisbon, and Calcavella 38s.
Superior Claret 70s.
Cognac Brandy 20s.per gallon.
Old Jamaica Rum 15s.
Holland's Geneva 10s.

In 1806, Vin de Grave was 66s. per dozen.

For the supply of vegetables, and fruit, large tracts of land were utilized for the supply of London alone. It was reckoned that this city swallowed the produce of 10,000 acres of vegetables, and about 4,000 acres of fruit trees. The market gardens have been gradually disappearing, but they used to be situated principally at Camberwell, Deptford, Fulham, Battersea, Mortlake, Barnes, and Chiswick. This produce found its way to Covent Garden, where the market days were the same as now—Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

During the latter part of the first decade of the century, provisions were not so dear:

Beef averaged from 6d. to 9½d.per lb.
Mutton 6d. to 10d.
Pork 6d. to 1s.
Lamb at first coming in 10d. to 1s. 2d.
Mid Season 6½d. to 8d.
Sugar was about 5d. to 5½d.
Salt 20s. per bushel.
Store Candles about 1s. 3d. per lb.

Whilst on the subject of food, I cannot help chronicling the first notices I have ever met with, of two articles familiar to us—Sardines, and Harvey's Sauce. The first occurs in an advertisement in the Morning Post, August 10, 1801: “Sardinias , a Fish cured in a peculiar manner, are highly esteemed as a Sandwich, and deemed of superior flavour to the Anchovy. Sold,” &c. The second is in the Morning Herald, February 9, 1804: “Harvey's  Sauce for Fish, &c. Black Dog, Bedford. Mr. Harvey respectfully informs the Nobility and Gentry, he has appointed Mrs. Elizabeth Lazenby to prepare and sell the above sauce, at her Oil Warehouse, No. 6, Edward's Street, Portman Square, and that she, alone, is in possession of the original receipt—signed Peter Harvey.”

If, however, the times were somewhat gross feeding, yet, early in the century, they also knew the pinch, if not of absolute hunger, yet of that which comes nigh akin to it—scarcity. As we have seen in the History of the decade, bread stuffs were, through bad harvests, very dear; and the strictest attention to economy in their use, even when mixed with inferior substitutes, practised. The unreasoning public laid the whole of the rise in price on the shoulders of the middle-men, or factors; and they were branded with the then opprobrious, but now obsolete, term of “Forestallers and Regraters.” Take one plaintive wail, which appeared in the Morning Post  of March 7, 1800: “We are told that one cause of the high price of Corn is, the consequence of the practice of selling by sample, instead of the Corn being fairly brought to market. The middle-man buys the Corn, but desires the farmer to keep it for him, until he wants it; or, in other words, until he finds the price suits his expectations.” This rage against “forestalling” was, of course, very senseless; but it had the advantage of being applied indiscriminately, and to every description of food. Two women at Bristol were imprisoned for “forestalling” a cart load of mackerel; whilst the trial of Waddington for “forestalling” hops  is almost a cause célèbre. Now, hops could hardly be construed into food; and, after having carefully read his trial, I can but come to the conclusion that he was a very hardly-used man, and was imprisoned for nothing at all.[43] I merely mention his case as a proof of the senseless irritation which the price of food caused upon the unreasoning public.

Food had to be looked for anywhere. The Continent was no field for speculation; a bad harvest had been universal; and, besides, we were at war. Then, for the first time, was India drawn upon for our food supply, and the East India Company—that greatest marvel of all trade—offered every facility towards the export of rice. Their instructions were as follow: “That every ship, which takes on board three quarters of her registered tonnage in rice, shall have liberty to fill up with such goods as have been usually imported by country ships. That ships embarking in this adventure shall be allowed to carry out exports from this country. That they shall be excused the payment of the Company's duty of 3 per cent., on the rice so imported. That, after the ship shall have been approved by the Company's surveyors, the risk of the rice which she brings, shall be on account of Government, which will save the owners the expense of insurance. That, in case the price of rice shall, on the ships' arrival, be under from 32s. to 29s. the hundredweight, the difference between what it may sell for, and the above rates shall be made good to the owners, on the following conditions—That the ship which departs from her port of lading, within one month from the promulgation of these orders, shall be guaranteed 32s. the hundredweight; if in two months, 31s.; if in three months, 30s.; and if in four months, 29s. But, that dependence may be safely placed on the rice being of superior quality, that is, equal, at least, to the best cargo of rice, it shall be purchased by an agent appointed by Government. Coppered ships to be preferred, and, although Convoy [44] will, if possible, be obtained for them, they must not be detained for Convoy.”

[43]Par parenthèse. This Mr. Waddington, whilst in the King's Bench Prison, gave away a ton of potatoes a day, about Christmas time. They were first of all sold at one halfpenny a pound, and the produce in money was put in the poor's box, for the benefit of the poor prisoners.

[44]Owing to the war, it was found safer for many merchant vessels to sail in company, and these fleets usually had two or three men-of-war in attendance to act as guards, and to protect them; they were called “the Convoy.”

Diversions of people of fashion—Daily life of the King—Children—Education—Girls' education—Matrimonial advertisements—Gretna Green marriages—Story of a wedding ring—Wife selling—“A woman to let.”

THE ESSAYISTS of Anne's time did good work, and left precious material for Social History behind them, when they good-humouredly made fun of the little follies of the day; and two satirical prints of Rowlandson's follow so well in their footprints that I must needs transcribe them. “May 1, 1802. A Man of Fashion's Journal. ‘Queer dreams, owing to Sir Richard's claret, always drink too much of it—rose at one—dressed by half-past three—took an hour's ride—a good horse, my last purchase, remember to sell him again—nothing like variety—dined at six with Sir Richard—said several good things—forgot ‘em all—in high spirits—quizzed a parson—drank three bottles, and loung'd to the theatre—not quite clear about the play—comedy or tragedy—forget which—saw the last act—Kemble toll loll—not quite certain whether it was Kemble or not—Mrs. Siddons monstrous fine—got into a hack—set down in St. James's Street—dipp'd a little with the boys at hazards—confounded bad luck—lost all my money.'”

“May 1, 1802. A Woman of Fashion's Journal. ‘Dreamt of the Captain—certainly a fine man—counted my card money—lost considerably—never play again with the Dowager—breakfasted at two, ... dined at seven at Lady Rackett's—the Captain there—more than usually agreeable—went to the Opera—the Captain in the party—house prodigiously crowded—my ci devant  husband in the opposite box—rather mal à propos —but no matter—telles choses sont —looked into Lady Squander's roût —positively a mob—sat down to cards—in great luck—won a cool hundred of my Lord Lackwit, and fifty of the Baron—returned home at five in the morning—indulged in half an hour's reflection—resolved on reformation, and erased my name from the Picn-ic Society.'”

This style of life was taken more from the Prince of Wales than the King, whose way of living was very simple; and, although this book is intended more to show the daily life of the middle classes, than that of Royalty, still a sketch of the third George's private daily life cannot be otherwise than interesting. It was this quiet, unassuming daily life of the King, together with his affliction, which won him the hearts of his people.

Morning Post, November 7, 1806: “When the King rises, which is generally about half-past seven o'clock, he proceeds immediately to the Queen's saloon, where His Majesty is met by one of the Princesses; generally either Augusta, Sophia, or Amelia; for each, in turn, attend their revered Parents. From thence the Sovereign and his Daughter, attended by the Lady in Waiting, proceed to the Chapel, in the Castle, wherein Divine Service is performed by the Dean, or Sub-Dean: the ceremony occupies about an hour. Thus the time passes until nine o'clock, when the King, instead of proceeding to his own apartment, and breakfasting alone, now takes that meal with the Queen, and the five Princesses. The table is always set out in the Queen's noble breakfasting-room, which has been recently decorated with very excellent modern hangings, and, since the late improvements by Mr. Wyatt, commandsa most delightful and extensive prospect of the Little Park. The breakfast does not occupy more than half an hour. The King and Queen sit at the head of the table, according to seniority. Etiquette, in every other respect is strictly adhered to. On entering the room the usual forms are observed, according to rank. After breakfast, the King generally rides out on horseback, attended by his Equerries; three of the Princesses, namely, Augusta, Sophia, and Amelia, are usually of the party. Instead of only walking his horse, His Majesty now proceeds at a good round trot. When the weather is unfavourable, the King retires to his favourite sitting-room, and sends for Generals Fitzroy, or Manners, to play at chess with him. His Majesty, who knows the game well, is highly pleased when he beats the former—that gentleman being an excellent player. The King dines regularly at two o'clock; the Queen and Princesses at four. His Majesty visits, and takes a glass of wine with them, at five. After this period, public business is frequently transacted by the King in his own study, wherein he is attended by his Private Secretary, Colonel Taylor. The evening is, as usual, passed at cards, in the Queen's Drawing-room, where three tables are set out. To these parties many of the principal nobility, &c., residing in the neighbourhood, are invited. When the Castle clock strikes ten, the visitors retire. The supper is then set out, but that is merely a matter of form, and of which none of the Family partake. These illustrious personages retire at eleven o'clock to rest for the night, and sleep in undisturbed repose until they rise in the morning. The journal of one day is the history of the whole year.”


Children were, in those days, “seen and not heard;” and were very different to the precocious little prigs of the present time. The nursery was their place, and not the unlimited society of, and association with, their elders, as now. When the time for school came, the boys were taught a principally classical education, which was considered, as now, an absolute necessity for a gentleman. Modern languages, with the exception of French and Italian, were not taught. German and the Northern languages were unknown, and Spanish only came to be known during, and after, the Peninsular War. There was no necessity for learning them. As a rule, people did not travel, and, if they did, their courier  did all the conversation for them; and there was no foreign literature to speak of which would induce a man to take the trouble to learn languages. The physical sciences were in their infancy, and chemistry, with its wonderful outcome of electricity, was in its veriest babyhood: so that boys were not cumbered with too much learning.

As to young ladies' education, they had, as they must devoutly have blessed, had they the gift of prescience, no Girton, nor Newnham, nor St. Margaret's, nor Somerville Halls. Their brains were not addled by exams, or Oxford degrees. Here is their curriculum of study, with its value, in the year 1800. “Terms:—The Young Ladies are boarded, and taught the English and French languages, with grammatical purity and correctness, history and needle-works, for twenty-five guineas per annum, washing included; parlour boarders, forty guineas a year; day boarders, three guineas per quarter; day scholars, a guinea and a half. No entrance money expected, either from boarders or day scholars. Writing, arithmetic, music, dancing, Italian, geography, the use of the globes, and astronomy, taught by professors of eminence and established merit.—Wanted a young lady of a docile disposition, and genteel address, as an apprentice, or half-boarder; she will enjoy many advantages which are not to be met with in the generality of schools. Terms thirty guineas for two years.”


A few years of school, and then, how to get a husband—the same then, as it is now, and ever will be. Matrimonial advertisements were very common, and bear the stamp of authenticity; but the following beats all I have yet seen: “Matrimony —To Noblemen, Ladies, or Gentlemen. Any Nobleman, Lady, or Gentleman, having a female friend who has been unfortunate, whom they would like to see comfortably settled, and treated with delicacy and kindness, and that might, notwithstanding errors, have an opportunity of moving in superior life, by an Union with a Gentleman holding rank in His Majesty's service, who has been long in possession of a regular and handsome establishment, and whose age, manners, and person, are such (as well as Connections) as, it is to be presumed, will not be objected to, may, by addressing a few lines, post paid, to B. Price, Esqre., to be left at the Bar of the Cambridge Coffee House, Newman Street, form a most desirable Matrimonial union for their friend. The Advertiser is serious, and therefore hopes no one will answer this from idle motives, as much care has been taken to prevent persons from gaining any information, to gratify idle curiosity. The most inviolable honour and secrecy may be relied on, and is expected to be observed throughout the treaty. If the Lady is not naturally vicious, and candour is resorted to, the Gentleman will study, by every means in his power, to promote domestic felicity.”

Marriage at Gretna Green  was then in full force, and many were the Couples who went post on that Northern road, and were married by the blacksmith—as we see inRowlandson's picture. These Marriages, which were, according to the law of Scotland, perfectly legal and binding, provided the contracting parties avowed themselves to be man and wife before witnesses, were only made illegal by Act of Parliament in 1856, and now it is necessary for one of the parties married, to have resided in Scotland for twenty-one days.


A curious story about a wedding ring is told in the Morning Post  of the 3rd of December, 1800, under the heading “Clerkenwell Sessions”:

“The Prosecutor, a young man, lately out of his apprenticeship, and in very confined circumstances, applied, about a month ago, to the Parish of Shoreditch, and stated, that, it having been his wish to marry a young woman in the same street where he worked, but not having money sufficient to buy the wedding ring, and, his intended spouse being as poor as himself, he hoped their Worships would advance him a small sum to accomplish the purchase; and then added, that they had already been three times asked in Church, and the morrow (Sunday) was the day appointed for the ceremony.

“The Vestry taking into consideration the good character of the applicant, ordered five shillings to be paid him, and the defendant, who is overseer of that parish, was requested to furnish him with a ring, which he did, the same night about ten o'clock, and charged for it 7s. 6d. Before leaving the shop the purchaser said he hoped it was worth the money, when the overseer replied it was good gold, and added, you may pledge it at any pawnbroker's in the town for 7s. The witness was then satisfied and departed.

“On the Monday following, the affairs of the newly married couple not having assumed the most flourishing aspect, the bridegroom was necessitated to resort to a neighbouring pawnbroker's shop, when, to the surprise of the party, the ring was declared to be worth nothing, it being a metal composition gilt. Upon this discovery he made application to a Magistrate; the affair went before the Grand Jury, who found a true bill against the jeweller, and the matter was yesterday brought into Court, but in consequence of the absence of material witnesses, the further investigation of this business stands over to a future day.” I regret to say there is no further record of this case.

On this class, the marriage tie lay lightly, and a rough, and summary, method was sometimes used to dissolve it. In a book of mine [50] I have already mentioned the practice of wife-selling, as being in vogue at this time. What I then said, can be further confirmed by examples which come within the range of this book.

Morning Herald, March 11, 1802: “On the 11th of last month, a person sold, at the market cross, in Chapel en le Frith, a wife, a child, and as much furniture as would set up a beggar, for eleven shillings!”

Morning Herald, April 16, 1802: “A Butcher sold his wife by auction the last market day at Hereford. The lot brought £1 4s. and a bowl of punch.”

Annual Register, February 14, 1806: “A man named John Gorsthorpe exposed his wife for sale in the market, at Hull, about one o'clock; but, owing to the crowd which such an extraordinary occurrence had gathered together, he was obliged to defer the sale, and take her away. About four o'clock, however, he again brought her out, and she was sold for 20 guineas, and delivered, in a halter, to a person named Houseman, who had lodged with them four or five years.”

Morning Post, October 10, 1807: “One of those disgraceful scenes, which have, of late, become too common, took place on Friday se'nnight at Knaresborough. Owing to some jealousy, or other family difference, a man brought his wife, equipped in the usual style, and sold her at the market cross for 6d. and a quid of tobacco!”

In the Doncaster Gazette  of March 25, 1803, a sale is thus described: “A fellow sold his wife, as a cow, in Sheffield market-place a few days ago. The lady was put into the hands of a butcher, who held her by a halter fastened round her waist. ‘What do you ask for your cow?' said a bystander. ‘A guinea,' replied the husband. ‘Done!' cried the other, and immediately led away his bargain. We understand that the purchaser and his ‘cow' live very happily together.”

Enough examples have been given to show that the French idea of wives being sold in Smithfield, and elsewhere, is founded on fact; indeed, there is no reason to disbelieve the writer of “Six mois à Londres in 1816,” when he describes a wife sale he saw at Smithfield—at which the lady was offered at the price of 15s., and, at that price, was eventually purchased, after due examination, “Comme il avait examiné quelques instans auparavant, une jument que je l'avais vu marchander.”

We must not throw stones at our grandfathers because this custom was in their midst. I could quote numerous instances of it, from time to time, down to our own days. Vide  the South Wales Daily News, May 2, 1882, where, at Alfreton, a woman was sold by her husband, in a public-house for a glass of ale; and, again, in the Pall Mall Gazette, October 20, 1882, where it is recorded, that, at Belfast, a certain George Drennan sold his wife to one O'Neill, for one penny and a dinner.

But, before dismissing the social status of women of this class, at that time, I cannot help chronicling a singular custom, which, however, appears to be peculiarly local.

Annual Register, March 22, 1806: “A Woman to Let! There is a custom, which, most likely, is peculiar to a small district in the western part of Cumberland. A few days ago, a gentleman from the neighbourhood of Whitehaven, calling upon a person, at his house in Ulpha, was informed that he was not at home; he was gone to church; there was ‘a woman to let !' On enquiry as to the meaning of this singular expression, it was thus explained:—When any single woman, belonging to the parish, had the misfortune to prove with child, a meeting of the parishioners is called, for the purpose of providing her a maintenance in some family, at so much a week, from that time to a limited time after delivery; and, this meeting (to give it the greater sanction), is uniformly holden in the church, where the lowest  bidder has the bargain ! And on such occasions, previous notice is given, that on such a day, there will be a ‘woman to let.'”

[50]“Old Times.” London: Nimmo, 1885.

Painting—“The Royal Academy of Art”—The principal private Picture Galleries—Benjamin West—James Barry—Fuseli—Opie—Minor artists—Turner—Sir Thomas Laurence—Morland—Sale of his pictures—Sculptors—Engravers—Boydell—“The Exhibition of Paintings in Water Colours”—Its members-”The Associated Artists in Water Colours”—Literature—List of literary persons of the decade—Five-volume novels—Decyphering papyri—Major Ouseley's Oriental Library—The Pope and the Lord's Prayer—The Alfred Club.

PAINTING was not at its highest at this time, and yet there were many buyers, even for the pictures then painted. The Royal Academy of Art (founded in 1765, when it received its Charter, on the 26th of January, as the Incorporated Society of British Artists, a name afterwards changed in 1768) was then located at Somerset House, where life classes were held, and instruction given, as shown in the illustration on the next page.

But, as yet, there was no National Gallery of Paintings, that was reserved till a latter period, when Government bought the collection of John Julius Angerstein, Esq., in 1824. This formed the nucleus of our magnificent collection. His gallery, at his house in Pall Mall, had long held high rank among the private picture collectors, he having two Murillos, for which he paid 3,500 guineas. The Duke of Bridgewater's, the Marquis of Lansdowne's, the two, or rather three, Hopes', Lord Radstock's, the Duke of Northumberland's, the Duke of Devonshire's, and the Miniatures at Strawberry Hill, were all magnificent collections; whilst Mr. Charles Townley, at his residence in Park Lane, had the finest collection of antique statues and busts, &c., in the world. These are now in the British Museum.


The principal painters of this decade, although numerous, do not represent a school likely to be perpetuated, although, as we read them, they are well known; many are respectable, two or three are famous. First must come Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy, who then lived in Newman Street: and, indeed, if we look at the addresses of these old painters, we find them very humble compared with the palatial habitations of some of our modern painters. As a Master, West will never live, he was a respectable painter, but even in his own time, was not over belauded.

There was James Barry, who was once professor of painting to the Academy, but was deposed, en plein cours, because he could, or would, not confine his lectures to their proper subjects, besides being coarse and libellous. This made him hypochondriac, and he, besides, became poor—a position somewhat alleviated by an annuity which was subscribed for him. He died in 1806. His dwelling was in Castle Street, Oxford Street.

Henry Fuseli lived in Queen Anne Street, East. His pictures were noted for the extravagance of their conception, and their anatomy; he delighted in painting the horrible, and supernatural, and was, perhaps, seen at his best in his Milton Gallery, which was opened in 1798, and closed July 19, 1800.

John Opie made a name, which still lives among collectors, but he never will rank as an Art Master. He owed much of his celebrity to Dr. Wolcott (Peter Pindar), who, an artist himself, tried to bring his protégé into notoriety. He lived in Berner's Street, Oxford Street, and died in 1807.

De Loutherbourg and his imitator, Sir Francis Bourgeois, are hardly worthy of a notice. The latter, certainly, left a collection of pictures to Dulwich Gallery, with £10,000 to keep them in preservation; £2,000 for the repair of the gallery, and a complimentary bequest of £1,000 to the Masters and Fellows of Dulwich College.

The genius of the age was, undoubtedly, Joseph Mallord William Turner, who ranks as one of our greatest landscape painters. Like all other artists, he had his periods of excellence; but, when at his best, he was unapproachable. Thoroughly appreciated in this decade, he died not so long ago, December 19, 1851.

From Turner to James Northcote is a long step, but they were on the same footing as Royal Academicians. He tried to be, as some of our modern R.A.'s do, an universal genius; but the verdict of posterity has not endorsed his pretensions. He lived then in Argyll Street, and did not die until July 13, 1831.

Another Academician, Thomas Stothard, deserves notice, and will be most remembered for his “Canterbury Pilgrims;” but his style was mannered, and did he paint now, he, probably, would not get a living.

Sir Thomas Lawrence did not then occupy the position he afterwards filled, of President of the Royal Academy; but he had the rare honour of being made a “Supplemental Associate;” a rank conferred, because his youth would not entitle him to ask for the ordinary Associateship. He was then living modestly in Greek Street, Soho, and did not charge much for his pictures. In 1802 he only got thirty guineas for a three-quarter size, and sixty guineas for a half-length portrait. In 1806, he obtained fifty guineas for three-quarter, and whole length, two hundred guineas. 1808 saw his prices still go higher, similar sizes eighty and three hundred guineas; and in 1810, he charged one hundred guineas for a head, and four hundred guineas for a full length. Handsome prices, yet poor pay compared to what our pet artists now get.

Robert Smirke, R.A., then living in Charlotte Street, was a painter of English genre pictures, and was very fond of painting scenes from Don Quixote. Sir David Wilkie, however, painted genre  subjects inimitably, and stood pre-eminent in this branch of art, at the period of which I write.

Sir William Beechey was a respectable portrait painter, and filled that office to Her Majesty Queen Charlotte, but he was not a Sir Joshua. He then lived at Great George Street, Hanover Square; but he died at Hampstead, in 1839, at a good old age of over eighty. John Hoppner, R.A., was another portrait painter of the time, as was also Sir Martin Archer Shee, President R.A., then living in Cavendish Square.

Westall, as being an Academician, deserves a passing notice, and Reinagle, too; but neither have made a name that will live. One minor painter deserves to be mentioned, Henry Bone, the enamel painter, whose collection of his own works (valued at £10,000) was offered to the nation for £4,000, refused, and sold under the hammer for £2,000. John Singleton Copley was still alive, as was also Angelica Kauffman, nor must the name of Sir George Howland Beaumont be omitted; but he was more of an amateur than professional artist.


That erratic genius, George Morland, died in 1806, at the early age of forty-two. Fecund in producing pictures as he was, he never could have painted a tithe part of the genuine Morlands that have been before the public, and the secret of these forgeries probably lies in the fact, that his pictures, painted from such familiar models, as sheep and pigs, were so easily imitated. After his death a collection of his pictures was exhibited, and Gillray gave a very graphic sketch of it. The connoisseurs were well known. The old gentleman in the foreground looking through his reversed spectacles is Captain Baillie. Behind him, and using a spy glass, is Caleb Whiteford, a friend of Garrick. The tall stout man, nearest the wall, is said to be a Mr. Mitchell, a banker; but although I have carefully examined the ten years' lists of bankers, I cannot find his name mentioned as a partner in any firm. And, I believe, the figure without a hat, is generally considered to be Christie the Auctioneer.

The foregoing is a tolerably correct list of the most eminent artists of the commencement of the century, many names of minor note, being of necessity, left out.

In sculptors, this decade was rich. The veteran Nollekens still worked, and continued to work, till his eighty-second year, and was then living in Mortimer Street. In Newman Street lived Thomas Banks, R.A., whose colossal statue of Achilles bewailing the loss of Briseis, is now in the hall of the British Institution. Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A., was then a young, and rising, sculptor, as yet but little known. John Flaxman, R.A., was then in his zenith, being made professor of sculpture to the Royal Academy in 1810. His successor, Sir Richard Westmacott, was made A.R.A., in 1805; and these names alone form an era of glyptic art unparalleled in English history.

Engravers, too, furnish a list of well-known names, among whom, for delicacy of work, Francis Bartolozzi probably stands pre-eminent, his engravings challenging competition at the present day. There were also Thomas Holloway, and William Sharp; but, perhaps, the most popular names—none of whom will ever rank as first-class engravers—are Gillray, Rowlandson, and Isaac and George Cruikshank. Their names were on every lip, and their works the theme of every tongue. Nor must we forget John Boydell, who was Alderman and Lord Mayor of the City of London. Not only an engraver by profession, he encouraged art, by commissioning the first artists of the day to paint pictures, which he afterwards had engraved, notably his magnificent Shakespeare, than which there is no more sumptuous English edition. On this he spent no less than £350,000, and by this expenditure of capital, and bad trade, owing to the war with France, and the stoppage of commercial relations with the Continent, he fell into debt, and was obliged to get an Act of Parliament passed to enable him to get rid of the original pictures and plates, of his Shakespeare Gallery, by a lottery, which was drawn in 1804.

Besides the Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, and Alderman Boydell's Gallery in Cheapside, there were several dealers' collections—the chief of which was “The European Museum,” Charles Street, St. James's Square. Here pictures, some of them good, were on sale on commission, and, to prevent its being merely a lounge, a shilling was charged for admission.

Not to be forgotten are the two Water Colour Societies—“The Exhibition of Paintings in Water Colours,” established in 1804, and located in 1808 in Bond Street. Reinagle was treasurer, and its members were Messrs. G. Barrett, J. J. Chalon, J. Christall, W. S. Gilpin, W. Havell, T. Heaphy, J. Holworthy, F. Nicholson, N. Pocock, W. H. Pyne, S. Rigaud, S. Shelley, J. Smith, J. Varley, C. Varley, and W. F. Wells. The associate members were Miss Byrne, and Messrs. J. A. Atkinson, W. Delamotte, P. S. Munn, A. Pugin, F. Stevens, and W. Turner.

The other society was started in 1808 or 1809, under the title of “The Associated Artists in Water Colours,” and their first exhibition was held at 20, Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, where a picture gallery already existed.

It is a thankless task to attempt to give a list of names of literary note, of this epoch, because, as in the case of foregoing lists, it is impossible to avoid giving some critic occasion to slay—an omitted name, being a heinous sin, outweighing all the patient hard work of research and reading, necessary for the writing of a book like this. Still an attempt thereat is bound to be made:

Austen, Jane.Keats, John.
Baillie, Joanna.Lewis, M. G. (Monk).
Barbauld, Mrs.Lingard, John.
Beckford, Peter.Lamb, Charles.
Beckford, William.Landor, W. S.
Bentham, Jeremy.London, John.
Bloomfield, Robert.Lysons, Daniel.
Brougham, Henry.Maturin, Charles Robert.
Byron, Lord.Montgomery, James.
Campbell, Thomas.Malthus, Rev. T. R.
Canning, George.Mill, James.
Chapone, Mrs.Moore, Thomas.
Coleridge, S. T.More, Hannah.
Crabbe, George.Morgan, Lady.
Cobbett, William.Opie, Mrs.
Cumberland, Richard.Porter Miss A. M.
Cunningham, Allan.Porter, Miss Jane.
D'Israeli, Isaac.Rogers, Samuel.
De Quincey, Thomas.Roscoe, W.
Dibdin, T. F., D.D.Shelley, P. B.
Edgeworth, Miss.Scott, Sir W.
Godwin, William.Southey, Robert.
Hazlitt, William.Smith, Sydney.
Heber, Bishop.Tooke, John Horne.
Hemans, Mrs.Trimmer, Mrs.
Hogg, James.Turner, Sharon.
Hook, Theodore.Wilberforce, W.
Holcroft, Thomas.Wollstonecroft, Mary.
Inchbald, Mrs.Wordsworth, W.

This was an age of dear books, and not of literature for the million. We are apt to think that three volumes for a novel is rather too much—when it can be, and is, afterwards, published comfortably in one; but, in those days, novels ran to four or five volumes, as may be seen by only taking one advertisement. Morning Post, July 18, 1805: “Family Annals; a Domestic Tale, in 5 Vols. 25s. by Mrs. Hunter of Norwich. The Demon of Sicily; a Romance. 4 Vols., 20s. Friar Hildargo; a Romance. 5 Vols., 25s.”

Mudie's Library was not, but Hookham's, and Colburn's were in existence, and Ebers' started in 1809.

It was a great age for the collection of first editions, unique copies, and large paper books; and, thanks to the industry, and good taste of this era, priceless treasures have been preserved to us, which might otherwise have been lost. It was a peculiarly classical age, the excavations at Pompeii, and Herculaneum, and the systematic spoliation of Etruscan tombs then going on, whetted men's appetites, and even the Prince of Wales helped to contribute towards the stock of classical lore: “The business of unrolling the Herculaneum MSS. at Portici, under the direction of M. Hayter, and at the expense of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, proceeds with success and rapidity. One hundred and thirty MSS. have already been opened, or are unfolding, and M. Hayter hopes to be able to decypher the six hundred, which still remains in the museum. Eleven young persons are constantly employed in unrolling the MSS., and two more, in copying or drawing them. M. Hayter expects to find a Menander entire, an Ennius, and a Polybius,” &c. I give this extract merely to show the classical taste of the time.

Attention was also being aroused to Oriental literature, and the two Ouseley's gave a great impetus to its study. Major Ouseley brought over from Bengal, in 1805, 15,000 volumes of Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit MSS., besides a vast museum of Oriental curiosities. The Major had peculiar facilities, and opportunities, for forming his collection, as he was for some time aide de camp  to the Nawab of Oude. His brother, Sir William, also possessed a choice library of some 800 Arabic, Persian, and Turkish MSS.

Not only here, but on the Continent, philology was looking up, for we find that the Pope, whilst in Paris, at the Coronation of Napoleon, visited the National PrintingOffice, and, as he passed along the galleries, 150 presses furnished him with a sheet each, upon which was printed the Lord's Prayer in a different language or dialect. Asia furnished 46; Europe, 75; Africa, 12; America, 17.

In fact, literature was beginning to be aggressive, and, actually, to ask for a club of its own; and in 1808 the Alfred Club  took premises in Albemarle Street, and continued its existence till 1855, when it was merged in the Oriental. It was extremely dull, and was christened by the wicked wits, the Half read ; and Lord Alvanley was a member until the seventeenth Bishop saw proposed, and then he gave up.

Cock-fighting—Its illegality—Public recognition of it—Description of company at a cock-fight—High stakes—Bull-baiting—Debate thereon in the House of Commons—Prize-fighting—Famous pugilists—George IV. as a patron of the Ring—Attempts to put down prize-fighting—Female physical education—Cudgel-playing, and other sports.

COCK-FIGHTING was another way of gambling—a barbarous pastime, yet of great antiquity, and, changing the name of the combatants to quails, or partridges, extending all over the world, especially in the East. The Greeks had their Cock-fights, the Romans fought both cocks and quails. Of its introduction into England there is no certain date, but Fitz-Stephen, who died in 1191, mentions schoolboys as fighting their cocks on Shrove Tuesday. Edward III., Henry VIII., Elizabeth, and Cromwell, all prohibited Cock-fighting; yet, so popular was it, that no prohibition was of any avail, and the Royal fulminations passed unheeded, and fell into desuetude almost as soon as uttered.

In the time of which I write, Cocking was a recognized sport, publicly advertised.Morning Post, January 5, 1805: “Cocking, to be Fought on Monday, January 7, 1805, and continue all the week, at the Cock Pit Royal, South side of St. James's Park, the Gentlemen of Suffolk, and the Gentlemen of Hampshire's Main of Cocks , for FiveGuineas the battle, and One Hundred Guineas the odd. To begin fighting each day precisely at Half-past Five o'clock.” Indeed, “Cock-fighting, Shooting, and Military Carriages” were advertised.

The Cock Pit Royal was in Bird Cage Walk, St. James's Park, and was a great institution, until the expiration of its lease in 1816, when the landlord refused to renew. Of a sketch of its interior (by Rowlandson, and Pugin, in their “Microcosm of London”) the following description is given, which will better help to illustrate the sport  than any words of mine, as the account is contemporary:

“This print may, without undue partiality, be acknowledged to excel that of Hogarth, upon the same subject. It is different in one particular: here the satire is general, not personal; a collection of peers and pickpockets, grooms and gentlemen,bons-vivants  and bullies; in short, a scene which produces a medley of characters, from the highest to the lowest, has seldom been painted with an adherence to nature so strict and so interesting. The principal figure in the front row seems to anticipate the loss of the battle; his neighbour to the right appears to have some eggs in the same basket ; whilst a stupid sort of despair in the countenance of the next figure proclaims that all hope is lost; the smiling gentleman on his left seems to be the winner. The clenched fists and earnest features of the personage in the same row, between two sedate contemplaters of the fight, make one feel that sort of interest which arises from a belief that victory depends upon only a little assistance being given at that particular moment to the bird upon whose side he has betted. In the centre, and on the highest row behind, are two figures, apparently intended as hurling defiance to the whole company; they are certainly offering odds, which no one is disposed to take. A little to the left, and just above the smart officer with a cocked hat, is a group inimitably portrayed. A parcel of knowing ones, who have betted pretty high, finding themselves in the wrong box, appear very desirous of edging off, and are attacking all together a personage who has been too much for them; his attitude is expressive, and, with his fingers thrust into his ears, seems to indicate that he will take no more bets; whilst the two figures (one in a cocked hat) to the left appear to enjoy the humorous expedient.... On the right we discover a pugilistic exhibition, and at a little distance horsewhips and sticks brandished in the air; all these are the natural accompaniments of the scene. Upon the whole, this picture has great merit, and conveys a more perfect idea of the confusion and bustle of a Cockpit than any description.” This was written in 1808-9.

Sometimes very large sums depended upon these combats—vide  Morning Post, April 28, 1800: “A main of cocks  is to be fought this week at Newmarket, as interesting to the sporting world as that, last summer, at York. The match is ostensibly made between Mr. Cussans, and Mr. Germain; but Sir Harry Vane Tempest, and others we could name, are supposed to be the real principals. It is for 1,000 guineas a side, and forty guineas each battle. Great sums are depending, and much money will be sported.”

The last Act against Cock-fighting was 12 and 13 Vic., cap. 92 (August 1, 1849); but if any one imagines that, therefore, this amusement  is extinct, he is very much mistaken.

Another cruel, yet intensely national sport, was Bull-baiting. Hardly a country town of note but had its “Bull-ring”; and, although the bull had but a circumscribed range, being tied by a rope to a stake, yet the dogs did not always get the best of the combat, and many a tyke met his death, or went a limping cripple for the remainder of his days. I have already noted one bull-baiting in the account of the Jubilee  rejoicings at Windsor in October, 1709, and that must suffice.

A few years previously it had been made the subject of a debate in the House of Commons, where much special pleading in its favour was exhibited. On May 24, 1802,[53] Mr. John Dent, M.P. for Lancaster, moved that the Bill to prevent Bull-baiting and Bull-running be read a second time. Sir Richard Hill pleaded the cause of the poor bulls, not very eloquently, but as earnestly as he could. He pointed out that an Act had been passed for the abolition of Bull-baiting in Ireland, and he called upon the Irish members to support this Bill.

Then up rose the Right Hon. W. Windham, M.P. for Norwich, and he contended that the cruelty was no greater than that comprised in the sports of hunting, shooting, and fishing. “If the effects of one were to be viewed through the medium of a microscope, why were not the consequences of the other to be scrutinized with equal severity?” In the course of a long speech he warmed to his view of the subject, until, at last, in the fervour of his eloquence, he burst into the following: “He believed that the bull felt a satisfaction in the contest, not less so than the hound did when he heard the sound of the horn which summoned him to the chase. True it was, that young bulls, or those that were never baited before, showed reluctance to be tied to the stake; but those bulls, which, according to the language of the sport, were called game  bulls, who were used to baiting, approached the stake and stood there, while preparing for the contest, with the utmost composure. If the bull felt no pleasure, and was cruelly dealt with, surely the dogs had also some claim to compassion; but the fact was, that both seemed equally arduous in the conflict; and the bull, like every other animal, while it had the better side, did not appear to feel unpleasantly; it would be ridiculous to say he felt no pain; yet, when on such occasions he exhibited no sign of terror, it was a demonstrable proof that he felt some pleasure.”

Mr. Courtenay rose to a much greater height. Said he: “What a glorious sight to see a dog attack a bull! It animates a British heart—

‘To see him growl, and snap, and snarl, and bite,
Pin the bull's nose, and prove instinctive might.'

Besides, if bull-baiting was given up, the characteristic of our British dogs, so classically celebrated in the Augustan age of literature, would be totally lost. Claudian says: ‘Magnaque taurorum fracturæ colla Britannæ.' Symmachus mentions seven Irish bull-dogs: ‘Septem Scottici canes,' as then first produced in the circus at Rome, to the great admiration of the people.'”

General Gascoyne considered it an amusement which the lower orders were entitled to; and it was “with regret he observed a disposition in many of the members to deprive the poor of their recreations, and force them to pass their time in chaunting at conventicles.”

Then the gentle William Wilberforce rose, and rebuked the former speakers, telling them that he thought the subject had been treated with too much levity. “The evidence against the practice was derived from respectable magistrates. From such evidence he had derived a variety of facts, which were too horrid to detail to the House. A bull—that honest, harmless, useful animal—was forcibly tied to a stake, and a number of bull-dogs set upon him. If he was not sufficiently roused by the pain of their attacks, the most barbarous expedients were hit upon to awake in him that fury which was necessary to the amusement of the inhuman spectators. One instance of the latter kind he would state. A bull had been bought for the sole purpose of being baited; but, upon being fixed to the stake, he was found of so mild a nature that all the attacks of the dogs were insufficient to excite him to the requisite degree of fury; upon which those who bought him refused to pay the price to the original owner, unless he could bemade to serve their purposes: the owner, after numberless expedients, at last sawed off his horns, and poured into them a poignant sort of liquid, that quickly excited the animal to the wished-for degree of fury. When bulls were bought merely for the purpose of being baited, the people who bought them wished to have as much diversion (if diversion, such cruelty could be called) as possible, for their money. The consequence was that every art, even fire, had been employed to rouse the exhausted animal to fresh exertions, and there were instances where he had expired in protracted agonies amidst the flames. It had been said, that it would be wrong to deprive the lower orders of their amusements, of the only cordial drop of life which supported them under their complicated burthens. Wretched, indeed, must be the condition of the common people of England, if their whole happiness consisted in the practice of such barbarity!”

Sheridan joined Wilberforce; but the Bill was thrown out by 64 to 51; and the practice of Bull-baiting was only declared illegal in 1835, when it was included in the Act against Cruelty to Animals, 5th and 6th William IV., cap. 59.

There was yet another brutal sport, not wholly unconnected with money and betting, which was then at its apogee, and that was Prize-fighting. This decade was at its Augustan period, when the ruffians, who mauled each other for lucre's sake, were petted and fêted as much as ever were the gladiators in the time of Rome's decline—the names of the pugilists then living being those of the greatest renown in the history of the prize ring. Even people who are not tainted with a love of the “Noble Art of Self-defence” must have heard of Jem Belcher, John Gully, page to George IV., and M.P. for Pontefract; Dutch Sam, Tom Crib, and his black adversary Thomas Molineaux; these names are as familiar to every schoolboy as those of the Homeric heroes. It was an age of muscle, not of brains; and the use of the fists was encouraged as the arbiter in disputes which nothing but a little blood-letting could appease, in preference to the duels, or to that utter abhorrence of all Englishmen—the knife.

Doubtless, boxing is commendable in many ways, and should form part of every man's physical education, not only to the great advantage of his muscular system, and consequent good health, but, should occasion ever require the use of his fists, he is armed at once with weapons in whose use he is well trained; but that is very different from two men, possibly very good friends, spending long months in getting themselves in the best possible physical condition for pounding each other into a mass of bruised jelly, in order to put some money in their pockets, and afford sport and amusement to a parcel of debased brutes, whatever their social position might be.

The Prince of Wales in his younger days was, to a small extent, a “Patron of the Ring,” i.e., he once went to a meeting which took place at Smitham Bottom, near Croydon, on June 9, 1788, where he saw three fights, one between the celebrated John Jackson—whose beautiful tomb is in Brompton Cemetery—and Fewterel, of Birmingham; and, on Jackson's winning, he sent him, by the hand of his friend, Colonel Hanger, a bank-note. The next fight was between Stephen Oliver, nicknamed “Death,” with a Jew, named Elisha Crabbe, which ended in “Death's” defeat; and the third encounter was between two outsiders.

Again he was present at three fights which took place on the Brighton race-course, on August 6, 1788. In the third—which was between Tom Tyne, “the Tailor,” and Earl—Tyne hit his opponent a sharp, left-handed blow on the side of the head, which drove him against the rail of the stage. He fell insensible, and expired very shortly afterwards. The Prince of Wales openly expressed his determination to never again witness a prize-fight—and this he kept—also to settle an annuity on Earl's widow and children; but history is silent as to whether this was ever carried out.

Of course, then as now, the better-thinking portion of the nation discountenanced these blackguard exhibitions, which were mainly supported by the “fast” set of that day—the Jerry Hawthorns  and Corinthian Toms  of the next decade. It is refreshing to read such paragraphs as the following:

Morning Post, January 11, 1808: “Prize Fighting. We are happy to hear that there is some prospect of this most disgraceful and mischievous practice being put an end to by the interference of the Legislature. The consequences resulting from it become every day more and more serious, and, without a vigorous effort to terminate the evil, we may shortly expect to find numerous families reduced to the extremes of poverty and wretchedness, in consequence of those who have hitherto supported them by their industry having given themselves up to idleness and blackguardism, by entering the foul ranks, and becoming the constant associates of prize-fighting vagabonds.”

Ibid.: “The magistrates are beginning  to do their duty; they, last week, dissolved a meeting of Boxers who were sparring for money. His Majesty's Navy wants able-bodied men, and those lovers of fighting could hardly complain, if they were compelled to box with French  instead of English  men.”

Morning Post, February 3, 1808: “Prize Fighting. We are rejoiced to find that we have not in vain called attention to the growing evil of this disgraceful, mischievous, and baleful practice. Mr. Justice Grose , in his Charge to the Grand Jury, yesterday, particularly noticed its pernicious effects, and forcibly urged the necessity of a speedy remedy; and we may, therefore, hope, ere long, to see the progress of this species of blackguardism and vice effectually arrested. We shall take an early opportunity of offering some further reflections upon the subject.”

But nothing came of it. It is now illegal, but we know well enough, that fights frequently take place. The police are half-hearted over it, knowing it to be a thankless task even to effect a capture; for no magistrate ever inflicts more than a very nominal punishment, either on principals or accessories.


That the physical education of the fair sex was attended to, long before these days of female gymnastic exercises, is evidenced by the following advertisement in the Morning Post, February 20, 1810: “Patent grand Exercise Frames  particularly intended for Young Ladies, the use of which will not only remove deformities, but will infallibly produce health, strength, symmetry, beauty, and superior elegance of deportment,” &c.

The lower classes in the Metropolis were naturally debarred from manly sports, by want of room; so that almost their sole muscular exercise was Skittles. But, in the country, a wholesome rivalry was engendered among the rustic youth, by means of foot-racing, wrestling, and Cudgel-playing. The latter still survives in Berkshire, where many a crown has been cracked at the Scouring of the White Horse (of late years fallen into desuetude), and many an old “gamester” still lingers, who can tell long yarns of the hats he has won. At fairs, too, and holidays, the young lasses used to race for smocks, and many sports were in vogue that are now never practised, save when resuscitated at some Harvest Home, or some country school feast.

[53]“Parliamentary History,” vol. xxxvi.

Daily life of the streets—The Chimney Sweep—Mrs. Montagu—Instances of the hard life of a “climbing boy”—The Milkmaid—Supply of milk to the Metropolis—“Hot loaves”—“Water cresses”—whence they came—Other cries.

LET US GO to authentic sources, and, in our imaginations, people the streets as they then were, following the example which Gay has so worthily given in his “Trivia.” Leaving aside the roysterers, and nightly bad characters, together with the watchmen, the first industrial perambulator, would probably be the Sweep. In the frontispiece to this volume, the “climbing boy,” as he was called, is faithfully depicted, drinking his early cup of saloop, the utensils of his trade, his brush, shovel, and scraper, lying by his side; in his cap is a brass plate containing his master's name and address. Poor little fellows! their lives were harsh! With hard taskmasters, badly constructed chimneys, and flues to sweep, and laborious work, climbing with back and knees; with a foul atmosphere, and lungs choked with soot, their young days must  have been joyless. Of course we cannot blame the people then living, because they had not sufficient mechanical knowledge to abolish the climbing boy's raison d'être. It is pleasing to register within the decade I write of, one good and kind friend of these little fellows—a Mrs. Montagu, who died in March, 1800. She was a lady of good family, and an authoress (founder of the Blue Stocking Club), who even attempted so high a flight as an “Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespeare.” In her practical benevolence, her heart felt for these little pariahs, and she annually regaled them on May-day, with roast beef and plum pudding. This conduct was so contrary to the general spirit of the age—which could see nothing more in a “climbing boy,” than a boy being utilized for his own good, and for that of the community, that her conduct was scarcely understood—so much so, that a web of romance had to be woven around her, in order to account for it. It was rumoured, and credibly believed, that she had lost a son, and found him again as a “climbing boy”; and, to mark her sense of gratitude for his restoration, she feasted all the boys in London on the sweep's holiday—May-day. Of course, there is not an atom of foundation for such a story, but practical philanthropy was then so unusual, that a reason had to be found for its observance. After her death the following verses were written:

“And is all pity for the poor sweeps fled
Since Montagu is numbered with the dead?
She who did once the many sorrows weep,
That met the wanderings of the woe-worn sweep!
Who, once a year, bade all his griefs depart,
On May's sweet morn would doubly cheer his heart!
Washed was his little form, his shirt was clean,
On that one  day, his real face was seen.
His shoeless feet, now  boasted pumps, and new.
The brush, and shovel, gaily held to view!
The table spread, his every sense was charmed,
And every savoury smell his bosom warmed;
His light heart joyed to see such goodly cheer.
And much he longed to taste the mantling beer:
His hunger o'er—the scene was little heaven—
If riches thus can bless, what blessings might be given
But she is gone! none left to soothe their grief,
Or, once a year, bestow their meed of beef!”

One instance, only, of the hard life of these little ones, will I give, and then pass on to pleasanter themes.

Morning Herald, October 1, 1802: “Great Marlborough Street. Wednesday, an interesting examination took place at this office, relative to a male child, about eight years old, charged to have been kidnapped by the foreman of Mrs. Bridges, a chimney-sweeper, in Swallow Street. It was stated by Mrs. Wilson, of No. 5 in the same street, that, on Saturday last, she was dreadfully alarmed by the cry of murder, and the screams of the child at Mrs. B.'s, which induced her to run into the house, where she found the child stripped, and the prisoner unmercifully beating him with two switches, or small sticks. She remonstrated with him, and demanded by what authority he so cruelly treated the child, as it was well known it had been inveigled from the street, and unlawfully detained by them. The prisoner threatened to strike the witness, who, nevertheless, persisted in taking away the child, and did actually take it to the workhouse, informing the committee there of the particulars, and the prisoner, in consequence, was indicted.


“The child, itself, told a very artless and moving tale of its own sufferings. The prisoner, it appears, used to strip him naked, and flog him in the dust cellar, to make him go up the chimney, to which, it seems, he had an utter aversion. When in the chimney, he was urged to proceed by the prisoner having a stick, at the top of which was fastened a pin, with which he goaded the poor infant; at other times he would make the poor child descend into vaults, and used other cruelties too shocking for recital. On inquiry at the workhouse, the child discovered that his father is a smith by trade, a poor man, with six children, living near Sloane Street. Its parents had used every means to discover their child, and, at length found him in the workhouse. The prisoner was committed to Tothill Fields Bridewell; and we suppose that Mrs. Bridges, as soon as she can safely leave her bed, will also be brought up to answer this charge.”

In 1803, if not before, there was in existence an “Association for Improving the Situation of Infant Chimney Sweepers,” of which John Julius Angerstein, Esq. (whose collection of pictures founded the National Gallery), was the chairman.

May-day was also sacred to another class of early morning workers—the Milkmaids. Curiously enough, the carriage and delivery of milk—by no means a light task, whether looked at from the distance walked, or the load carried—was entirely in the hands of women, strapping country wenches, principally recruited from Wales. The cows were kept in hovels in, and near, London, and a “milkmaid's” daily life began at from 4 to 6 a.m. when the cows had to be milked; they then delivered the milk at the various houses until near ten. Then there were the dairy vessels to wash, and at noon, the cows again to be milked.


The delivery of milk again occupied them till nearly 6 p.m., when they had to wash up all cans, &c., for the morning. In 1808 it was reckoned that about 8,500 cows were kept in London and its vicinity; one cowkeeper at Islington owning between 800 and 900 cows. It is sad to read, however, in 1804, that “Milk is sold at fourpence per quart, or fivepence for a better sort; yet the advance of price does not insure its purity, for it is generally mixed in a great proportion with water, by the retailers before they leave the milk houses. The adulteration of the milk, added to the wholesale cost, leaves an average profit of cent. per cent., to the vendors of this useful article. Few retail trades are exercised with equal gains.”


Following the milkwoman, would come the early Baker calling out “Hot loaves!” and ringing a bell: he would appear on the scene between 8 and 9 a.m., selling his rolls at one, or two, a penny—in winter he added, or substituted, muffins and crumpets.

Then, too, for breakfast, would be heard, either from male, or female, lips, the cry of “Water cresses!” which were sold in small bunches a penny each, or three for twopence. In those days, they were to be found growing wild in the ditches near London, and many a weary tramp of seven or eight miles, before breakfast, of a morning, did the sellers have, in order to get them fresh. There was generally a supply at Covent Garden Market—grown for sale; but these were considered inferior in flavour to the wild ones.


From breakfast time, the cries of the miscellaneous dealers in small wares became general, and hardly any can claim pre-eminence, unless it be on a Good Friday—when the old pagan crossed cakes were vended, and evidently as much relished by the young folks as now. “Baking, or boiling apples” were sold by women, a charcoal stove accompanying their barrow, so that their customers might have them hot, and luscious. Then, too, might be seen a man with band-boxes, carried on either end of a pole, which rested on his shoulder. From 6d. to 3s. was their price; whilst boxes of slight deal, with a lock and key, might be purchased from 3s. 6d. to 6s. 6d. These boxes were of home manufacture, and gave employment to many industrious families.

Brickdust was carried about on donkey back, in small sacks, and retailed at the price of one penny per quart. A contemporary remarks, “As brickdust is scarcely used in London for any other purpose than that of knife cleaning, the criers are not numerous; but they are remarkable for their fondness, and their training, of bull dogs. This predilection they have in common with the lamplighters of the Metropolis.”

The accompanying sketch of a Rat-trap Dealer is graphic and good; and it shows one glimpse of the past, in the old cobbler (?) at his hutch, or low open door. This, or a cellar, always went as an accompaniment to this branch of the shoe-making trade.

To future antiquarians, it may be useful to know that, at the commencement of this century, our domestic animals had their “purveyors of food;” that cat's, and dog's meat, consisting of horse flesh, bullock's livers, and tripe cuttings, were distributed by means of men, or preferably, women, all over London. The horse flesh, and bullock's liver, was sold by weight at 2d. per lb.; the tripe, in bundles, at 1d. each.

“Baskets” were hawked about—not as we know them (rarer and rarer, year by year) in the gipsy caravans, but slung around the sellers—of good handy size, and durable make. One article of domestic economy has all but died out—the Bellows—and old  specimens are almost worth their weight in silver; but the cry of “Bellows to mend!” was then heard commonly. The mender carried his tools in a bag on his back, and, like the chair-mender, plied his calling in front of his patron's house, or at any convenient street corner.

“Chairs to mend!” might be met with anywhere. Nursery and common chairs, if not having seats of wood, were of rushes, cane being a later introduction. These rushes were, and are now, cut in our rivers, preferably in the early autumn, before they begin to rot, and sold by a peculiar measure—a bolt —which is as much as a man can clasp of rushes, when dried, within his arms. The repairs were executed before the house, and the charge for reseating a chair was very moderate—from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d.

“Door mats” were hawked about, as they are sometimes now, but Prisons and Industrial Schools had not then interfered in this trade, so that a poor man had a chance of getting rid of his handiwork, and the price for rush, and rope, mats, varied from 6d. to 4s. each.

If we can believe a contemporary account, the Dustmen of those days were the very pink of propriety. “Dust carts ply the streets through the morning in every part of the metropolis; two men go with each cart, ringing a large bell, and calling Dust O!These men, daily, if necessary, empty the dust bins of all the refuse that is thrown into them. They receive no gratuity from the inhabitants of the houses, the owner of the cart pays them, like other labourers, weekly wages; and the dust is carried to yards in the outskirts of the town, where a number of women and girls are employed in sifting it, and separating the cinders and bones from the ashes, and other refuse.” I much fear that this picture is as couleur de rose  as the engraving which accompanies it, wherein the model dustman, with very clean face, is attired in a yellow jacket, green waistcoat, crimson knee-breeches, blue ribbed stockings, and brown gaiters.

The sale of “Turnery” was also a street occupation, and brooms, brushes, sieves, bowls, clothes horses and lines were thus vended. Some, the Aristos of their trade, had a cart; but the perambulating sellers could get a good living, as their wares yielded a good profit.

The Knife-grinder, immortalized by Canning, plied his trade in the sight of the people, and his charges for grinding, and setting, scissors, were a penny or twopence each; penknives, a penny a blade; table knives, 1s. 6d. or 2s. per dozen, according to the polish supplied.

“Lavender” was a cry redolent of the country, yet grown near London, at Mitcham. This was generally used in linen-presses, to counteract the abominably rank smell of the soap of those days. It was a favourite scent; as Isaac Walton says, “I'll now lead you to an honest ale house, where we shall find a cleanly room, lavender in the windows, and twenty ballads stuck against the wall.”

Among the street cries, was that of “Mackerel”; and the sellers thereof might even expose them for sale, and cry them, on Sundays—a proud privilege which no other fish possessed. There never was a glut of them in the market, because they could only be brought to Billingsgate by smacks, so that they were never sold at the very cheap rates they now are, but were, as we should think, extremely dear. At first coming in they were sold for 1s. 6d. each, and they gradually dropped to 10d., 8d., 6d. each, or, if there was a great haul, three might be sold for a shilling.


might probably bring to remembrance the quotation “Caveat emptor,” but these two purchasers seem quite able to take care of themselves.

It was but a month, or six weeks since, that I saw a sight I had not seen for some years—a man selling Rabbits slung on a pole, which he carried on his shoulder; yet this used to be the usual method of exposing them for sale, and these small dealers were called higglers. The price of Rabbits, thus sold, at the time of which I write, were “from ninepence to eighteenpence each, which is cheaper than they can be bought in the poulterers' shops.”


shows the universal yearning of the dwellers in town, to make as good a rus in urbe  of their surroundings, as possible. The atmosphere of London was then, undoubtedly purer than now, and flowers might then be grown in the open air, where, now, it would be an impossibility.

As an “Old Clothes” man the Jew was then paramount, the Irishman not having, as yet, entered into competition with him. Rosemary Lane  (only sweet smelling in its name) was a thoroughfare now called Royal Mint Street  leading from Tower Hill; and here was held a Mart, not only in shops, but all over the pavement and road, of old clothes, boots, &c., and it fully merited its name of Rag Fair. A market was built for the buyers and sellers, in which to transact their business; but old habits proved too strong, they would not  use it, and “nothing less than military force constantly exercised would prevail over the obstinacy of habit.” The “high” market was from twelve to three.

It was a curious custom then, of course not in good houses, but in those of poor men, such as might be on the outskirts, and in the suburbs of the Metropolis, to strew the floor, say of the kitchen, and sometimes of the parlour, with silver sand. This kept the soles of dirty boots from actual contact with the newly scrubbed boards—and saved the housewife much exercise of temper. Sand, too, was plentifully used in scouring kitchen utensils, and it was sold, the red sand, at 2½d., and the white at 1¼d., per peck.

Fruit, in its season, was cried; and at night, among other employments, by which to earn an honest penny, there were the playbill sellers, and the link boys. The former were almost invariably women, who also sold oranges; and, if a purchaser could be found to go to the extent of buying six, a “Bill of the play” was given. Awful things were those playbills—none of your dainty, lace-edged, Rimmel-scented ones—but long strips of flimsy tissue paper, yet wet from the printers, smearing the hands with ink from the large capital letters employed. No time had they to dry them; there was usually a fresh play every night, and the playbills had to be fresh also.

Gambling—Downfall of Lady Archer, &c.—Card playing in the Royal Circle—Card money—High play—Play at the Clubs—Lotteries—The method of drawing them—Horse racing—Turf and horses better than now—Curious names of race horses—Ladies Lade and Thornton—Lady Thornton's races—Tattersall and Aldridge.

ONE VICE the women of that age had, in common with the men, and that was Gambling—which, perhaps, was not so bad among the former, as during the last years of the preceding century, when Ladies Archer, and Buckinghamshire, and Mrs. Concannon were pilloried, and scourged metaphorically by the Satirists, as they were promised to be treated, physically, by Lord Kenyon. Their race was run—as expressed in the Morning Post, January 15, 1800: “Society has reason to rejoice in the complete downfall of the Faro Dames, who were so long the disgrace of human nature. Their die  is cast, and their odd tricks  avail no longer. The game  is up, and very few of them have cut  with honours.”

Mrs. Concannon still kept on, but not in London, as is seen by the following paragraph. Morning Herald, December 18, 1802: “The visitors to Mrs. Concannon's petits soupers, at Paris, are not attracted by billets  previously circulated, but by cards, afterwards dealt out, in an elegant and scientific manner; not to mince the matter, they are the rendezvous of deep play : and the only questionable point about the matter is, whether the Irish, or the French, will prove victors at the close of so desperate a winter's campaign.”

Still, we find even in the Royal circle, where the utmost gravity of demeanour, and purity of manner, were to be found, the card table was the  evening's amusement. “The evening is, as usual, passed at cards, in the Queen's Drawing Room, where three tables are set out.” And cards were still the staple entertainment both for men and women, at night. Naturally, the latter did not play for such high stakes as the men did; but they contrived to make, or lose, a sufficient sum, either to elate, or to depress them, and experience, as far as in them lay, all the fierce feelings of the gambler. Nay, some made a pitiful profit out of their friends—in the shape of “card money”—which meant that the players put so much, every game, into a pool (generally the snuffer tray) to pay for the cards, and something for the servants.

It was a practice in its death throes, having been mortally wounded, by public opinion, at the end of the last century; but the little meanness still obtained—vide  the Morning Herald, December 15, 1802: “In a pleasant village near the Metropolis, noted for its constant ‘tea and turn out parties,' the extortion of Card Money  had, lately, risen to such a pitch, that it was no unusual thing for the Lady  of the House, upon the breaking up of a table, to immediately examine the sub-cargo of the candlestick, and, previous to the departure of her guests, proclaim aloud the lamentable defalcation of a pitiful shilling, which they might, perchance, have forgot to contribute. We are happy to find that some of the most respectable people in the place have resolved to discountenance and abolish this shabby genteel  custom, which has too long prevailed; a shameful degradation of everything like English hospitality.”

But they sometimes played as high as did the opposite sex—the climax, perhaps, coming in the following, from the Morning Post, April 5, 1805: “The sum lately lost at play by a Lady of high rank is variously stated. Some say it does not amount to more than £200,000, while others assert that it is little short of £700,000. Her Lord is very unhappy on the occasion, and is still undecided with respect to the best mode to be adopted in the unfortunate predicament.”

The men lost and gained large sums of a night; and, for that age, gaming had reached its climax. Little birds whisper [51] that it is not much better now; but, at all events, it is not so open. From the highest to the lowest—from the Heir Apparent, and the two great leaders of party, Fox and Pitt, down to the man who could only afford to punt his shilling, or half-crown, at a “silver hell”—all were bitten, more or less, by this mania of gaming. The magistrates lashed the petty rogues when they were caught, but winked discreetly at the West-end Clubs, and ordered no raids upon them. There they might win or lose their thousands, secure that the law would not stretch out its arm to molest them. There the nobility, legislators, country gentlemen, and officers of the army, met together on a common footing, to worship the Demon of Play.

There were three principal Clubs—White's, Brookes', and Boodles'. White's was originally a “Chocolate House” in William the Third's time, but became a private club early in the eighteenth century, and was used by the Tories. It was a club always noted for high play and betting, and very curious some of their bets were, the old wager book being still preserved. Brookes' was the Whig Club, and was then conducted by that

“liberal Brookes, whose speculative skill
Is hasty credit and a distant bill;
Who, nurs'd in Clubs, disdains a vulgar trade,
Exults to trust, and blushes to be paid.”

Among the members of this club were the Prince of Wales, and, of course, his fidus Achates, Sheridan, besides the great Charles James Fox, who here played deeply, and whose name is oft recorded in the wager book, which, however, is of older date, and was kept when the club was held at Almack's.

“Lord Northington bets Mr. C. Fox, June 4, 1774, that he (Mr. C. F.) is not called to the bar before this day four years.”

“March 11, 1775. Lord Bolinbroke gives a guinea to Mr. Charles Fox and is to receive a thousand from him whenever the debt of this country amounts to 171 millions. Mr. Fox is not to pay the £1,000 till he is one of His Majesty's Cabinet.”

“April 7, 1792. Mr. Sheridan bets Lord Lauderdale and Lord Thanet, twenty-five guineas each, that Parliament will not consent to any more lotteries after the present one voted to be drawn in February next.”


At all the clubs, gaming was practised more or less. Morning Herald, June 16, 1804: “A noble Lord, lately high in office, and who manifests a strong inclination to be reinstated in his political power, lost at the Union , a night or two back 4,000 guineas before twelve o'clock; but, continuing to play, his luck took a turn, and he rose a winner of a thousand before five the next morning.”

Again, to show the large sums then won and lost at gambling, take the following newspaper cuttings.

Morning Post, June 30, 1806: “The Marquis of H—— d is said to have been so successful at play this season, as to have cleared £60,000. The Earl of B—— e has won upwards of £50,000, clear of all deductions. A Right Reverend is stated to be amongst those who are minus  on this occasion.”

Morning Post, July 8, 1806: “A certain noble Marquis, who has been so very fortunate this season in his gaming speculations, had a run of ill luck last week. At one sitting, his lordship was minus  no less a sum than thirteen thousand pounds !”

Morning Post, July 15, 1806: “The noble Marquis, who has been so great a gainer, this season, at hazard, never plays with any one, from a Prince , to a Commoner, without having the stakes first  laid on the table. His lordship was always considered as a sure card, but now his fame is established, from the circumstance of his having cleared £35,000, after deducting all his losses for the last six months.”

But, although the magistrates shut their eyes to the sins of the great, and punished the small, when brought before them, the Government systematically demoralized the people by means of lotteries. True, it was a great temptation, for it yielded a revenue to the State of about £350,000, besides the licenses of the brokers, £50 each. Very jealous was the Government to protect its children from the pernicious effects of private lotteries; they were anathema, and, besides, they would absorb some of the profit, which otherwise would have gone into the pockets of a paternal rule. In this decade, there were but two private lotteries, and, for both of them, a special act of Parliament was required, viz., that of the Pigot diamond in 1800, and Boydell's pictures in 1805.

This illustration is by Pyne, and, like all his drawing, is extremely graphic. It represents the Life Guards, who then had to perform many of the duties of our police, conveying the Lottery wheels, from Somerset House (or Somerset Place, as it was then called) to Cooper's Hall, in Basinghall Street, where the Lottery was then drawn. There were four sledges employed for the purpose, two carrying the wheels containing the tickets, with their blanks, or prizes, and the other two bore the cases for the wheels. They were drawn by three horses each.


For many years the Lottery had been drawn at Guildhall, but it was afterwards removed to Cooper's Hall. At both places the tickets were drawn out of the wheels by two scholars of Christ's Hospital, or Bluecoat boys—who were thus selected for this office because their youth, and supposed integrity,[52] rendered them less liable thanother boys, to be tampered with. The accompanying illustration gives a very life-like presentment of the scene.

The last public Lottery, in England, was drawn in October, 1826.


Needless to say that Gambling, either in the form of card playing, dicing, or lotteries, was not the only way that fools and rogues could throw away their money. Still there were two resources left—the Turf, and Cock-fighting. The Turf was undoubtedly purer then than now, when it has reached such a pitch of refinement in blackguardism, and scoundrelism, that it must soon either be swept away, or violently reformed. Racing then was more for encouraging a breed of horses, swift, yet of such staying powers as to be able to run a four-mile heat without breaking down: not like our “exaggerated greyhounds,” who can barely stagger over a course of six furlongs, or three quarters of a mile.

The stakes were not so high, and although there was much betting on a race, yet it was among the upper class, or men who could afford to lose to each other, and in the society of their equals; and not as at present, when a lord is on familiar terms with a ruffian, so long as he will give the odds required, and may possibly be able to pay if he loses; nor, then, did shop boys make books on races, or talk learnedly of double events, &c., and such scenes as can now be witnessed any race day in Fleet Street, were utterly unknown, and undreamt of. A King's plate of £100 was then considered worth running for, and noblemen, and gentlemen, matched their horses one against the other, in a proper spirit of emulation.

There was a fair amount of racing literature—“Baily's Racing Register,” “Pick's Racing Calendar,” “The Turf Register,” “The Racing Calendar,” and “The Sporting Magazine,” and I know, and care not, whether this is an exhaustive list. From some of them we get some curious names of race horses, for their owners then, seem to have run riot in the nomenclature of their animals. What should we say nowadays to such names as “Kiss in a Corner,” “Jack, come tickle me,” “Jenny, come tye me,” “I am little, pity my condition,” “Jack's my favourite,” “Britons, strike home,” “Why do you slight me?” “Turn about, Tommy,” “Sweeter when clothed,” “Watch them and Catch them,” “First time of Asking,” “Fear not, Victorious,” “Hop, step, and jump,” &c., &c.

As a curious incident of manners in the early century, I may mention that two ladies, Lady Lade and Mrs. Thornton (wife of Col. Thornton), both rode matches in public. Mrs. Thornton's brother-in-law, Mr. Flint, was stopping at the Colonel's seat of Thornville, and riding with the lady in its grounds. They had a gallop, and Mrs. Thornton's old horse, aided by her good riding, beat her antagonist, which so nettled him, that he challenged her to a further trial, which took place publicly, on the last day of the York August Meeting, 1804. Mrs. Thornton's horse broke down, and she lost; but she did not omit to wail publicly over the matter, asserting that otherwise shewould have won, and that her opponent took unfair advantage of her.

This exhibition of herself seems to have fired her ambition, for we read in the Morning Post, August 20, 1805:

“Mrs. Thornton is to ride 9 st. against Mr. Bromford, who is to ride 13 st., over the York Course, four miles; to run the last race on Saturday in the next August meeting, for four hogsheads of Coti Roti p.p. and 2,000 guineas h. ft.; and Mrs. T. bets Mr. B. 700 gs. to 600 gs. p.p.; the 2,000 gs. h. ft. provided it is declared to the Stewards four days before starting. Mrs. T. to have her choice of four horses.

“Mr. B. to ride Allegro, sister to Allegranti.

“N.B. Colonel T., or any gentleman he may name, to be permitted to follow the lady over the course, to assist her in case of any accident.”

When it came to the pinch, Mr. Bromford declined the race, paid his forfeit, and the lady walked over. Later in the day, however, she raced Buckle, a jockey, mounted on Allegro—carrying 13 st. 6 lb., whilst Mrs. Thornton scaled 9 st. 6 lb.—and she beat the professional by half a neck. This match does not seem to have been for any money, but merely for the honour of the thing.

Before quitting the subject of horses, I cannot help mentioning that both Tattersall, and Aldridge, were in existence, as equine auctioneers, a position which, their thorough integrity has consolidated, and preserved to the present day.

[51]From the Globe, January 26, 1885:



Sir ,—Can it be true—as rumour has it—that in an old-established gambling club, not 100 miles from St. James's Street, enormous sums are nightly staked, and that fortunes rapidly change hands? I hear that three men sat down a few nights ago to play écarté in this said club, and that one of their number was at a certain period of the evening a loser of the enormous sum of £100,000. That when this very impossible figure was reduced to limits within which the winners considered the loser could pay, play ceased and the party broke up. The next day—so runs the story—one of the winners called with bills to the amount of £26,000, drawn on stamped paper, for the loser to accept. This gentleman, however, though he freely admits having played, states that, having dined not wisely but too well, he has no sort of recollection of losing any specific sum, but merely a hazy idea that fabulously large amounts were recklessly staked all round, and no accounts kept. In other words, he repudiates, and finally, after a lengthened discussion, has consented to place himself in the hands of a friend to decide what he is to pay. If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, I can only stigmatize the whole affair as a public scandal, and the police should promptly interfere and shut up a club where such disgraceful things occur. When Jenks's baccarat ‘hell' was closed, and Mr. J. Campbell Wilkinson and his six associates were each fined £500 (hence the very excellent bon mot  which appeared in the Sporting Times  that ‘Jenks' babies' had become ‘Jenks' monkeys'), the public were justified in believing that, at last, there was not to be one law for the rich and another for the poor, and that in future men who broke the law by gambling for thousands, would have the same justice meted out to them as those who did so by tossing for coppers. However, it appears such hopes were premature, and before this happy state of things is arrived at, further attention must be drawn to the matter, hence this letter, for which I sincerely trust you will be able to find space.—I am, Sir, yours, &c.,

A Hater of Professional Gamblers.

“January 24th.”

[52]In May, 1775, a Bluecoat boy confessed that he had been tampered with, and had concealed a ticket, which was afterwards drawn. A man was arrested as the accomplice, but was discharged; but the Lottery Committee, in order to prevent a similar fraud, moved the following resolution (December 12, 1775), which was afterwards always adhered to: “That it be requested of the Treasurer of Christ's Hospital, not to make known who are the twelve boys nominated for drawing the lottery till the morning the drawing begins; which said boys are all to attend every day, and the two who are to go on duty at the wheels, are to be taken promiscuously from amongst the whole number, by either of the Secretaries, without observing any regular course, or order; so that no boy shall know when it will be his turn to go to either wheel.”

The Navy—Sailor's carelessness—“The Sailor's Journal”—The sailor and “a dilly”—Dress of the sailors—Rough life both for officers and men—Number of ships in Commission—Pressing—A man killed by a press-gang—Mutinies—That of the Danäe —Mutiny on board the Hermione, and cold-blooded slaughter of the officers—Mutiny in Bantry Bay—Pay of the officers—French prisoners of war.

IT WAS the fashion then, as it is now, to portray a sailor, as a harum-scarum, jovial, rollicking, care-for-nought; and doubtless, in the main, he was, at that time, as unlike as possible to the blue-riband, savings-bank Jack that he very frequently is now. Prize money was pretty plentiful; such things as a temperance captain and ship, were unknown; and the constant active service in which they were engaged, with its concomitant insecurity to life and limb, must have made them somewhat reckless, and inclined to enjoy life, after their fashion, whilst they still possessed that life. Rowlandson—May 30, 1802—drew two of them in a caricature, called “The Sailor's Journal.” They are dividing a bowl of punch, one is smoking, the other gives his mate some extracts from his Journal: “Entered the port of London. Steered to Nan's lodgings, and unshipped my Cargo; Nan admired the shiners—so did the landlord—gave ‘em a handful apiece; emptied a bottle of the right sort with the landlord to thehealth of his honour Lord Nelson. All three set sail for the play; got a berth in a cabin on the larboard side—wanted to smoke a pipe, but the boatswain wouldn't let me; remember to rig out Nan like the fine folks in the cabin right ahead. Saw Tom Junk aloft in the corner of the upper deck—hailed him; the signal returned. Some of the land-lubbers in the cockpit began to laugh—tipped them a little foremast lingo till they sheered off. Emptied the grog bottle; fell fast asleep—dreamt of the battle of Camperdown. My landlord told me the play was over—glad of it. Crowded sail for a hackney coach. Squally weather—rather inclined to be sea-sick. Gave the pilot a two pound-note, and told him not to mind the change. In the morning, looked over my Rhino—a great deal of it, to be sure; but I hope, with the help of a few friends, to spend every shilling in a little time, to the honour and glory of old England.”

This was the ideal, and typical, sailor; the reality was sometimes as foolish.Morning Herald, June 12, 1805: “One day last week a sailor belonging to a man-of-war at Plymouth had leave to go on shore; but, having staid much longer than the allowed time, he received a sharp reprimand on his return. Jack's reply was that he was very sorry, but that he had taken a dilly  (a kind of chaise used about Plymouth) for the purpose of making the utmost haste, but the coachman could not give him change for half a guinea, and he, therefore, was obliged to keep him driving fore  and aft  between Plymouth and the Dock, till he had drove  the half-guinea out! Unfortunately for poor Jack, it so happened, that when the half-guinea was drove out, he was set down at the spot whence he started, and had just as far to walk, as though he had not been drove at all.”

When in full uniform, a sailor in the Royal Navy was a sight to see—with his pig-tail properly clubbed and tied with black silk. We have already seen them in the picture of Nelson's funeral car, and the accompanying illustration is of the same epoch, and shows a British sailor weeping over Lord Nelson's death.

It was a rough school, both for officers and men. We may judge somewhat of what the life of the former was like by Captain Marryat's novels; but, lest they should be highly coloured, let us take a few lines from the first page of the “Memoir of Admiral Sir Edward Codrington”:[73]


“He spent nine years at sea as a midshipman; and I have repeatedly heard him say, that during those nine years (so important for the formation of character) he never was invited to open a book, nor received a word of advice or instruction, except professional, from any one. More than that, he was thrown among a set in the gun-room mess, older than himself, whose amusement it was—a too customary amusement in those days—to teach the lad to drink, and to lead him into their own habitual practice in that respect.”

If this was the case with the officers, how did the men fare? Volunteer recruits did not come from the pick of the labouring class, and the pressed men soon fell into the ways of those surrounding them. No doubt they were better off in the Royal Navy than in the Mercantile Marine; but the ship's stores of that day consisted but of salt pork, and beef, the latter being indifferently called junk  or old horse. The biscuits, too, were nothing like those now supplied on board Her Majesty's ships. Wheat was very dear, and these sailors did not get the best of that. Inferior corn, bad package, and old age soon generated weevils, and the biscuit, when these were knocked out, was often but an empty shell. Bullied by their officers, and brutally flogged and punished for trifling faults, Jack's life could not have been a pleasant one; and we can hardly wonder that he often deserted, and sometimes mutinied. Yet, whenever a fight was imminent, or did actually occur, all bad treatment was banished from his mind, and he fought like a Briton.

And there were many ships to man. Not only were all our dockyards hard at work building and repairing, but prizes were continually coming in; and the French men-of-war were better designed than ours—in fact, it may be said that we learned, at that time, our Naval Architecture from the prizes we took. In October, 1804, there were in commission 103 ships of the line, 24 fifty-gun vessels, 135 frigates, and 398 sloops—total 660. In March, 1806, there were 721 ships in commission, of which 128 were of the line. On January 1, 1808, there were 795 in commission, 144 being ships of the line. Many of these were taken from the French, as the following exultant paragraph from the Annual Register, August 19, 1808, will show:

“It must be proudly gratifying to the minds of Britons, as it must be degradingly mortifying to the spirit of Bonaparte, to know that we have, at this moment, in the British Navy, 68 sail of the line, prizes taken from the enemies of this country at different periods, besides 21 ships carrying from 40 to 50 guns each, 62 ships from 30 to 40 guns each, 15 carrying from 20 to 30 guns each, and 66 from 10 to 20 guns each; making a total of 232 ships.”

To man these ships, &c., some 100,000 men were needful, and as they would not come of their own will, they must be taken vi et armis. Impressing men for the King's Naval Service had always been in use since the fourteenth century, so that it was no novelty; but it must have been hard indeed for a sailor coming from a long voyage (and they had long voyages in those days—no rushing three times round the world in a twelvemonth, and time to spare), full of hope to find his wife and children well, to be bodily seized, without even so much as landing, and sent on board a King's ship, to serve for an indefinite period. A few extracts from the newspapers will show what a press was like.

Morning Post, January 21, 1801: “The press for seamen on the river and on shore is warmer than was ever known in any former war.”

Times, March 11, 1803: “The impress service, particularly in the Metropolis, has proved uncommonly productive in the number of excellent seamen. The returns at the Admiralty of the seamen impressed on Tuesday night amounted to 1,080, of whom no less than two-thirds are considered prime hands. At Portsmouth, Portsea, Gosport, and Cowes, a general press took place the same night. Every merchant ship in the harbours and at Spithead, was stripped of its hands, and all the watermen deemed fit for His Majesty's service were carried off. Upwards of six hundred seamen were collected in consequence of the promptitude of the measures adopted.... Government, we understand, relies upon increasing our naval force with ten thousand seamen, either volunteers, or impressed men, in less than a fortnight, in consequence of the exertions which are making in all the principal ports. Those collected on the river, and in London, will be instantly conveyed to Chatham, Sheerness, and Portsmouth. Several frigates and gun brigs have sailed for the islands of Jersey and Guernsey with impress warrants.”

Times, May 9, 1803: “On Sunday afternoon two gallies, each having an officer and press-gang in it, in endeavouring to impress some persons at Hungerford Stairs, were resisted by a party of coal-heavers belonging to a wharf adjoining, who assailed them with coals and glass-bottles; several of the gang were cut in a most shocking manner, on their heads and legs, and a woman who happened to be in a wherry, was wounded in so dreadful a manner, that it is feared she will not survive.... The impress on Saturday, both above and below Bridge, was the hottest that has been for some time; the boats belonging to the ships at Deptford were particularly active, and it is supposed they obtained upwards of two hundred men, who were regulated (sic ) on board the Enterprize  till late at night, and sent in the different tenders to the Nore, to be put on board such ships whose crews are not completed.... The impressed men, for whom there was not room on board the Enterprize, on Saturday were put into the Tower, and the gates shut, to prevent any of them effecting their escape.”

Morning Herald, December 11, 1804: “A very smart press took place yesterday morning upon the river, and the west part of the town. A great many useful hands were picked up.”

Morning Post, May 8, 1805: “The embargo to which we alluded in our Paper of Monday has taken place. At two o'clock yesterday afternoon, orders for that purpose were issued at the Custom House, and upwards of a thousand able seamen are said to have been already procured for the Navy, from on board the ships in the river.”

Morning Post, April 11, 1808: “On Saturday the hottest press ever known took place on the Thames, when an unprecedented number of able seamen were procured for His Majesty's service. A flotilla of small smacks was surrounded by one of the gangs, and the whole of the hands, amounting to upwards of a hundred, were carried off.”

These raids on seamen were not always conducted on “rose-water” principles, and the slightest resistance met with a cracked crown, or worse. Witness a case tried at the Kingston Assizes, March 22, 1800, where John Salmon, a midshipman in His Majesty's navy, was indicted for the wilful murder of William Jones. The facts of the case were as follow. The prisoner was an officer on board His Majesty's ship Dromedary, lying in the Thames off Deptford. He and his lieutenant, William Wright (who was charged with being present, and assisting), went on shore on the night of the 19th of February, with nine of the crew, on the impress service; Wright had a pistol, Salmon a dirk, one of the sailors a hanger, and the rest were unarmed. After waiting some time in search of prey, the deceased, and one Brown, accompanied by two women, passed by; they were instantly seized upon, and carried to a public-house, from whence they endeavoured to effect their escape; a scuffle ensued, in the course of which the deceased called out he had been pricked. At this time three men had hold of him—a sufficient proof that he was overpowered—and whoever wounded him, most probably did so with malice prepense. The poor fellow was taken, in this state, to a boat, and thence on board a ship, where, for a considerable time, he received no medical assistance. The women, who were with him, accompanied him to the boat, and he told them that the midshipman had wounded him, and that he was bleeding to death; that every time he fetched his breath, he felt the air rushing in at the wound. He was afterwards taken to the hospital, and there, in the face of death, declared he had been murdered by the midshipman. The case was thoroughly proved as to the facts, but the prisoner was acquitted of the capital charge of murder, and I do not know whether he was ever prosecuted for manslaughter.

Men thus obtained, could scarcely be expected to be contented with their lot, and, therefore, we are not surprised to hear of more than one mutiny—the marvel is there were so few. Of course, they are not pleasant episodes in history, but they have to be written about.

The first in this decade (for the famous mutiny at the Nore occurred in the previous century), was that on board the Danäe, 20 guns, Captain Lord Proby. It is difficult to accurately ascertain the date, for it is variously given in different accounts, as March 16th, 17th, and 27th, 1800; but, at all events, in that month the Danäe  was cruising off the coast of France, with some thirty of her crew, and officers, absent in prizes, and having on board some Frenchmen who had been captured on board the privateer Bordelais, and had subsequently entered the English service. On board was one Jackson (who had been secretary to Parker, the ringleader of the Nore Mutiny in 1798), who had been tried for participation in that mutiny and acquitted, since when, he had borne a good character, refusing the rank of petty officer which had been offered to him, giving as a reason, that being an impressed man, he held himself at liberty to make his escape whenever he had a chance, whereas, if he took rank, he should consider himself a volunteer.

With him as a ringleader, and a crew probably containing some fellow sufferers, and the Frenchmen, who would certainly join, on board, things were ripe for what followed. The ship was suddenly seized, and the officers overpowered, Lord Proby and the master being seriously wounded. The mutineers then set all sail, and steered for Brest Harbour, and on reaching Camaret Bay, they were boarded by a lieutenant of La Colombe, who asked Lord Proby to whom he surrendered. He replied, to the French nation, but not to the mutineers. La Colombe  and the Danäe  then sailed for Brest, being chased by the Anson  and Boadicæa, and would, in all probability, have been captured, had not false signals been made by the Danäe  that she was in chase. Lord Proby had previously thrown the private code of signals out of his cabin window. They were all confined in Dinan prison.

The Hermione, also, was carried over to the enemy by a mutinous crew; but in October, 1800, was cut out of Porto Cavello, after a gallant resistance, by the boat's crew of the Surprise, Captain Hamilton, and brought in triumph to Port Royal, Jamaica. On this occasion justice overtook two of the mutineers, who were hanged on the 14th of August—one in Portsmouth Harbour, the other at Spithead. Another of the mutineers, one David Forester, was afterwards caught and executed, and, before he died, he confessed (Annual Register, April 19, 1802), “That he went into the cabin, and forced Captain Pigot overboard, through the port, while he was alive. He then got on the quarter deck, and found the first lieutenant begging for his life, saying he had a wife and three children depending on him for support; he took hold of him, and assisted in heaving him overboard alive, and declared he did not think he would have taken his life had he not first took hold of him. A cry was then heard through the ship that Lieutenant Douglas could not be found: he took a lantern and candle, and went into the gun-room, and found the Lieutenant under the marine officer's cabin. He called in the rest of the people, when they dragged him on deck, and threw him overboard. He next caught hold of Mr. Smith, a midshipman; a scuffle ensued, and, finding him likely to get away, he struck him with his tomahawk, and threw him overboard. The next cry was for putting all the officers to death, that they might not appear as evidence against them, and he seized on the Captain's Clerk, who was immediately put to death.”

I have to chronicle yet one more mutiny, happily not so tragical as the last, but ending in fearful punishment to the mutineers. It occurred principally on board the Temeraire  then in Bantry Bay, but pervaded the squadron; and the culprits were tried early in January, 1802, by a court martial at Portsmouth, for “using mutinous and seditious words, and taking an active part in mutinous and seditious assemblies.” Nineteen were found guilty, twelve sentenced to death, and ten, certainly, hanged.

There seems to have been no grumble about their pay, or food, or accommodation—a sea life was looked upon as a hard one, and accepted as such. The officers, at all events, did not get paid too well, for we read in the Morning Post, October 19, 1801: “We understand the Post Captains in the Navy are to have eight shillings a day instead of six. And it is supposed that Lieutenants will be advanced to four shillings instead of three.” They occasionally got a haul in prize money—like the Lively, which in August, 1805, was awarded the sum of £200,000 for the capture of some Spanish frigates.[74]

Spite of everything, the naval power of England reached the highest point it has ever attained, and no matter whatever grievances they may have been suffering from, the sailors, from the admiral to the powder monkey, behaved nobly in action, and, between the Navy and Army, we had rather more prisoners of war to take care of than was agreeable. Speaking of an exchange of prisoners, the Morning Post, October 15, 1810, says: “There are in France, of all kinds of prisoners and detained persons, about 12,000; in England there are about 50,000 prisoners,” and the disproportion was so great that terms could not be come to.

[73]Edited by his daughter, Lady Bourchier. London, 1872.

[74]Lord St. Vincent had a lawsuit which was decided in March, 1801, for an eighth share of two Spanish ships captured in 1799. Its value was £9,674, and he won his case.

The O. P. Riots—Causes of—Madame Catalani—Kemble's refutation of charges—Opening of the theatre, and commencement of the riots—O. P. medals, &c.—“The house that Jack built”—A committee of examination—Their report—A reconciliation dinner—Acceptation of a compromise—“We are satisfied”—Theatre re-opens—Re-commencement of riots—The proprietors yield, and the riots end.

WE NOW come to the celebrated O. P. Riots, which find no parallel in our theatrical history, and which would require at least two thick volumes to exhaust. Never was there anything so senseless; never could people have been more persistently foolish; they would listen to no reason; they denied, or pooh-poohed, every fact.

O. P. represents “Old Prices,” and, as the management of the new theatre had raised the price of their entertainment, as they had a perfect right to do, these people demanded that only the old prices should be charged for admission. It was in vain that it was pointed out that very early notice was given of the intended rise, as indeed it was, directly after the destruction of the fire—vide  Morning Post, September 24, 1808: “The Managers, we understand, intend to raise the price of admission, when they open at the Opera to 7s. for the boxes, and to 4s. for the pit. The admission for the galleries to remain as before. Much clamour has already been excited against this innovation, but we think unjustly.”


Had this been the only grumble, probably no more would have been heard of it, but all sorts of rumours got about—That the proprietors, of whom Kemble was one (and, except on the stage, he was not popular), would make a handsome profit out of the insurance, and sale of old materials; that the increased number of private boxes, with their ante-rooms, were built for the special purpose of serving as places of assignation for a debauched aristocracy; and, therefore, a virtuous public ought to rise in its wrath against them. And last, but not least, they tried to enlist patriotic feelings into the question, and appealed to the passions of the mob—(remember we were at war with the French, and the ignorant public could not discriminate much between the nationality of foreigners) as to whether it was fair to pay such enormous nightly sums to a foreigner—which sums were partly the cause of the rise in price—when native talent was going unappreciated.

This foreigner was Madame Angelica Catalani, a lady who was born at Sinigaglia, in 1779. At the early age of twelve, when at the convent of St. Lucia, at Gubbio, her beautiful voice was remarkable, and when she left the convent, at the age of fifteen, she was compelled to get a living on the stage, owing to her father's ruin.

At sixteen, she made her début  at Venice, in an opera by Nasolini; and she afterwards sang at Florence, at La Scala in Milan, at Trieste, Rome, and Naples. Her fame got her an engagement at Lisbon, where she married M. Valabrègue, a French officer attached to the Portuguese Embassy; but she still kept to her name of Catalani—at all events, on the stage. From Lisbon she went to Madrid, thence to Paris, where she only sang at concerts; and, finally, in October, 1806, she came to London, where she speedily became the rage. According to one biographer (Fétis), she gained immense sums here; but I much doubt his accuracy. He says: “In a single theatrical season which did not last more than four months, she gained about 180,000 francs (£7,200), which included her benefit. Besides that, she gained, in the same time, about 60,000 francs (£2,400) by soirées  and private concerts. They gave her as much as 200 guineas for singing at Drury Lane, or Covent Garden—‘God save the King,' and ‘Rule, Britannia,' and £2,000 sterling were paid her for a single musical fête.”


This, according to the scale paid her at Covent Garden, said by her opponents to be £75 per night, must be excessive; but the mob had neither sense, nor reason, in the matter; she was a foreigner, and native talent was neglected. Her name suggested a subject to the caricaturist, of which he speedily availed himself.

These were the principal indictments against Kemble (for he, as manager, had to bear the brunt of the riot) and the proprietors replied to them categorically—vide Morning Post, September 18, 1809:

“It is stated that the old materials of the Theatre were estimated at £25,000.For £25,000, read £1,000. The bricks were of so little value, that not one old brick was used in the building, and the greater part now lie buried near Hart Street.
It is stated that instead of twelve private boxes, they have now thirty-four, being an addition of twenty-two private boxes.For 22 read 12 additional private boxes. In fact, the Proprietors contend that they have no private boxes, as all of them are let annually to the Public. They are taken by the higher classes of society, and, by that means, the first and second circles of boxes are left free for the public at large. What the Proprietors gain by them annually, they lose nightly.
It is stated that £50,000 was received from the Insurance of the Theatre.For £50,000, read £42,000. 'Tis true that £3 or 4,000 was received from the insurance of houses, now included in the Theatre; but it was forgotten that the Proprietors paid near £28,000 for those houses, to insulate the Theatre, and render the avenues safe and commodious. The increased ground rent of which will be a heavy and lasting incumbrance on the Theatre.
It is asserted that Madame Catalani is the cause of the advance on the prices.The Proprietors have already given their reasons to the Public, which existed long before Madame Catalani's engagement. As well might it be said that the increased prices were caused by Mrs. Siddons, whose engagement is fifty guineas a night and a clear benefit; or by the other eminent English Performers of the Theatre, whose salaries amount to £32,000.”

There was good sound sense in this refutation, yet something is wanting to explain more fully the riot which was to come, and which, at all events, was popularly supposed to relate to the structure of the building, and to the rise in prices. The following is much condensed from a contemporary account of the theatre:

“The Pit of this Theatre is very spacious.... The two Galleries are comparatively small, there not being accommodation in the upper, for more than 150 or 200 persons ! The Upper Gallery is divided into five compartments, and may thus be considered a tier of five boxes, with a separate door at the back of each. These doors open into a spacious lobby, one side of which is the back of the gallery, and the other the exterior wall of the Theatre, with the windows into the street. The lobby to the middle gallery beneath is similarly situated. Under the gallery is a row of private boxes, constituting the whole third tier! They consist of 26 in number, with a private room behind each. The Carpeting was laid down in these boxes on Saturday last; but the furniture of each, and also of the adjoining room, will be according to the taste of the several occupants, among whom are some of the Royal Dukes.”

And now I have to chronicle one of the most senseless phases of public opinion that ever made a page, or a paragraph, of history. The Theatre opened on September 18, 1809, with “Macbeth” and “The Quaker,” but not one word that was delivered on the stage could be heard by the audience.

When the curtain drew up, Kemble delivered an address, which was extremely classical—all about Æschylus, Thespis, and Sophocles, of which the people present knew nothing, until they saw the next morning's papers. Instead of listening, they sang “God save the King” with all the power of their lungs, and in good order; but that once over, then, with one consent, they began to yell “No Kembles —no theatrical tyrants—no domineering Napoleons!—What! will you fight, will you faint, will you die, for a Shilling?—No imposition!—no extortion!—English charity.—Charity begins at home.—No foreigners—No Catalanis.”

Somebody in the boxes addressed the frantic mob, but nothing was heard of his speech, and a magistrate named Read, attended by several Bow Street officers, came on the stage, and produced the Riot Act; it was no good—he could not be heard, and yet, among the audience, were many men of position, and even some of the Royal Dukes.

The second night the row was as bad, and it now was becoming organized. People brought placards, which began mildly with “The Old Prices,” and afterwards developed into all sorts of curious things. One was displayed in the first circle of the boxes, and “Townsend ,[58] heading a posse of constables, rushed into the pit to seize this standard of sedition, together with the standard bearers. A contest ensued of the hottest kind, staffs and sticks were brandished in all directions; and, after repeated onsets and retreats, Townsend bore away a few of the standards, but failed in capturing the standard bearers. He retired with these imperfect trophies. But, as the oppositionists kept the field of battle, they claimed the victory, which they announced to the boxes and galleries with three cheers. The standard bearers in the boxes were not equally successful. They were but few in number, and not formed into a compact body, and had, besides, their rear and flanks open to the attack of the enemy. Some of them we saw seized from behind, and dragged most rudely out of the boxes, and treated, in every respect, with a rigour certainly beyond  the law. One of them, who had all the appearance of a gentleman, was accompanied by a lady, who screamed at seeing the rudeness he suffered, and then flew out of the box to follow him. This vigorous activity on the part of the constables made the placards disappear for a time; but they were soon after hoisted again in the pit, and hailed with acclamations every time they were observed.”

On the third night the uproar was as great, many of the lights had been blown out, and the place was a perfect pandemonium ; when Kemble, in dress suit of black, and chapeau bras, appeared, and obtained a momentary hearing. “Ladies and gentlemen,” said he, “permit me to assure you that the proprietors are most desirous to consult your wishes (loud and continued applause). I stand here, to know what you want.” If the noise and uproar could have been greater than before, it was after this brusque, and unfortunate, speech. “You know what we want—the question is insulting—Off! off! off!” For five minutes did the great man face his foes, and then he retired. Then some one in the boxes addressed the audience in a speech calculated to inflame, and augment, the riot; and Kemble once more came forward with a most sensible exposition as to the sum spent on the theatre, its appointments, and company. He might as well have spoken to the wind.

Night after night this scene of riot continued, varied only by the different noises—of bugle and tin horns, rattles, clubs, yelling, &c.—and the manifold placards, which differed each night, and were now not disturbed. There were O. P. medals struck—how many I know not—but there are three of them in the British Museum. One, which is struck both in white metal and bronze, has obv. John Bull riding an Ass (Kemble), and flogging him with two whips—Old and New Prices. Leg. FROM N  TO O  JACK YOU MUST GO; in exergue

john bull's advice to you, is go.
'tis but a step from N to O.

Rev. a P  within an O, surrounded by laurel, and musical emblems. Leg. GOD SAVE THE KING; in exergueMay our rights and privileges remain unchanged. Another has obv. Kemble's head with asses' ears; and the third, which was struck when Mr. Clifford was being prosecuted for riot, has obv. Kemble's head with a fool's cap on;leg. OH! MY HEAD AITCHES in exergueOBSTINACY.

Then, too, the Caricaturists took up the tale and worked their wicked will upon the theme. I only reproduce one—by Isaac Cruikshank (father to George) which was published 28th September, 1809.

This is the house that Jack [59] built.

These are the Boxes  painted so neat, with snug room and sofa all complete,
Where assignations are made by the Great  that visit the House that Jack built.

These are the Pigeon Holes over the Boxes, painted so neat, &c.

This is the Cat  engaged to squall, to the poor in the Pigeon Holes, &c.

This is John Bull with his Bugle Horn  Who hissed the Cat  engaged to squall, &c.

This is the Thieftaker [60]shaven and shorn That took up John Bull with his Bugle Horn, &c.

This is the Manager, full of scorn, who Raised the Price  to the People forlorn. And directed the Thieftaker shaven and shorn to take up John Bull, &c.

On the 22nd of September Kemble came forward and said, inter alia, that the proprietors, anxious that their conduct should be fully looked into, were desirous of submitting their books, and their accounts, to a committee of gentlemen of unimpeachable integrity and honour, by whose decision they would abide. Meanwhile the theatre would be closed, and Madame Catalani, cancelling her engagement, went to Ireland.


“When Grimalkin [61] the Spy, took a peep at the house,
And saw such confusion and strife,

He stole to the Green-room as soft as a Mouse,
And thus he address'd his dear wife:

Mon Dieu! don't sit purring, as if all was right,
Our measure of meanness is full,

We cannot stay here to be bark'd at all night,
I'd rather be toss'd by a Bull.'”

The committee of gentlemen (of whom the well-known John Julius Angerstein was one), published their report, and balance sheet, which was publicly advertised on the 4th of October, and they agreed that the profit to the shareholders on the capital, employed during the six years, was 6⅜ per cent. per annum, and that during that time they had paid £307,912. This, of course, would not satisfy the mob, and on the re-opening of the theatre on the 4th of October there was the same riot with its concomitant din of cat calls, rattles, horns, trumpets, bells, &c. For a few days the riot was not so bad, although it still continued; but, on the 9th of October, it broke out again, and the proprietors were compelled to take proceedings at Bow Street against some of the worst offenders. This had the effect, for a time, of stopping the horns, rattles, bells, bugles, &c., but the rioters only exchanged one noise for another, for now they imitated all the savage howlings of wild beasts, and it seemed as if Pidcock's Menagerie had been turned into the theatre.

This soon got too tame, and on the 20th of October they began fighting among themselves, and stripping the baize off the seats. On the 24th, the proprietors issued a very proper address to the people, showing that they were not getting exorbitant profits, and, consequently, the prices were not too high; but it had no effect until the Grand Jury found true bills against some of the rioters, when there was a lull for a time, which might have been permanent, had not Brandon, the boxkeeper, charged a Mr. Clifford with having created a commotion in the pit. After examination, however, at Bow Street, he was released—and then the mob had another grievance. Brandon must be dismissed; nor only so—on the 5th of November a mob went to Bloomsbury Square, and broke the windows in Kemble's house, after which, there was another lull; then on the 25th the turbulent spirits broke out again, because it was the fiftieth night, or jubilee, of the riots. A few of them were charged at Bow Street, but that did not stop the riot till nearly the middle of December, when there was another lull in the storm.

Both sides were getting weary of the strife; and, on the 14th of December, a dinner was held at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, Covent Garden, at which Kemble met the Opposition, and a compromise was entered into, and agreed upon, that the boxes were to remain the same price—7s.—the pit was to revert to the old price of 3s. 6d.; and the galleries to remain as they were; the private boxes, at the end of the season, were to be again restored, and appropriated to the accommodation of the public. The rioters wanted Brandon to be discharged, and at night, when he had to appear before his sweet masters, they saluted him with volleys of oranges, and walking-sticks; and, the next night, it was announced that Brandon had been sacrificed to public opinion, and had been dismissed.[62] One or two more apologies for small lâches, and King Mob produced a placard, “WE ARE SATISFIED.”

But they were not; they wanted the boxes reduced to 6s.; and, having so long had license, the ferment was not subdued at once. Take the 19th of December, for instance; Kemble was hissed, on his appearance on the stage, and when he spoke the lines—

“The times are out of joint—Oh, cursed spite!
That ever I was born to set them right !”—

there was an universal shout of derision.

For the remainder of that season there was peace; but, when the new season opened, on September 10, 1810, with “The Beggar's Opera,” and “Raising the Wind,” it was found that part of the treaty had not been carried out; as, although the centre portion of the first tier, had been converted into public boxes; yet, on either side, were still the objectionable private boxes, which, last year, had so excited the prudishly virtuous indignation of a howling mob. “No foreign sofas! No Italian private boxes.” In vain did Kemble point out that, since the conclusion of the treaty, an Act of Parliament had been passed for the rebuilding of Drury Lane Theatre, which allowed the proprietors to have as many private boxes as they might find convenient; and, consequently, would place Covent Garden at a decided disadvantage; therefore, his proprietary had hoped the public would condone the fact of their still retaining a few private boxes. Oh, no! The O. P. dance and the O. P. song, were immediately revived in all their glory, and the remainder of the evening was spent in the old manner, minus the accompaniment of horns, rattles, or placards; but a quart bottle was thrown from the gallery into the pit, and the management offered a reward of fifty guineas for the conviction of the offender.

Next night there were two placards exposed: “O. P. We have been imposed on!” “O. P. The Treaty is broken; open War!” The night after, the row got worse. On the 14th of September it was as bad as last year—watchmen's rattles were freely used, and mewing, barking, groaning, braying, and whistling, made a hideous chorus. The O. P. dance was changed to the “Contract” dance, but still was danced to the tune of the O. P. hornpipe.

The proprietors, after their bitter experience of the previous year, felt that, however right they might be, they could not contend against the force majeure  of the mob; and, on the 16th of September, they pledged themselves “that next season (when they will again have returned into their possession) the eight annual boxes shall be given up, and let to the public, at large, as nightly boxes.” It was no use; that night the row was as bad as ever; and, after that performance, the theatre was closed to make the alterations in the boxes, which were thrown open to the public. The theatre was re-opened on the 24th of September, and the performances passed off without interruption. And so ended the eventful O. P. Riots.

[58]A famous Bow Street Runner, and one in great favour with, and attendance on, Royalty.

[59]John  Kemble.

[60]Townsend—a very good likeness.

[61]Supposed to be Madame Catalani's husband. She died at Paris, of cholera, 12th of June, 1849.

[62]He was afterwards reinstated.