History of London

The Commission of Inquiry.

In the year 1834 a commission was appointed "to inquire into the existing state of the municipal corporations, and to collect information respecting their defects." These commissioners applied themselves to the discharge of their somewhat invidious duties with both earnestness and impartiality, and in their Report, published in 1837, acknowledged the superior excellence of the London Corporation as compared with other corporate bodies. They readily admitted that the Common Council possessed the necessary powers to effect whatever reforms might have become necessary through the lapse of time. They also bore witness that the Corporation had already of itself corrected much that was amiss in its constitution, and that its history furnished "honourable testimonials to the vigilance, good sense, and justice of its legislative body." On these grounds the Imperial Legislature expressly exempted the City of London from the action of the Municipal Corporations Act, and left it in the undisputed enjoyment of its ancient franchises—which, moreover, are declared by 2 William & Mary not to be liable to confiscation. A period of twenty years then passed away without any cause of complaint having occurred to justify the interference of Government, until some disputes arose on the subject of the City markets, and the conservancy of the Thames. Sir George Grey at once availed himself of this pretext to appoint a commission to investigate "the existing state of the Corporation of the City of London, and to collect information respecting its constitution, order, and government." These commissioners, unlike their predecessors, exhibited from the commencement of their proceedings a strong bias and feeling of hostility against the Corporation. The witnesses they called before them were, with scarcely an exception, the avowed enemies of the existing state of things, and prepared to convert trifling blemishes into radical and monstrous defects. And yet even these did not agree among themselves, or assign any sound reasons to render compulsory innovations expedient or justifiable. The general tenor of their evidence, indeed, was actually in favour of the Corporation, when due allowance is made for the spirit by which they were actuated. Nevertheless, it was upon the report of this one-sided and unconstitutional commission that the late ministry founded their Bill for "the better Regulation of the Corporation of the City of London." They had arrived at a foregone conclusion, and asked for only the shadow of an excuse to mask their preconcerted designs against the chief and last stronghold of self-government. The fate of the Corporation was clearly doomed from the hour the House of Commons sanctioned the appointment of a prejudiced and illegal tribunal.

Aldermen and Common-Councilmen.

The contemplated reduction of the governing body of the City is based upon a specious theory, which will soon be found to be utterly untenable. It is pretended that if the Courts of Aldermen and of Common Council were rendered more exclusive, it would be considered a greater distinction to belong to them, and that consequently a more wealthy and influential class of individuals would seek to be elected. In the first place, the exclusiveness sought to be established in the Corporation of London is the very blot which the Municipal Act was intended to remove from other corporate bodies. What was in them a blemish, is to be engrafted as a beauty into the City of London. But granting that a certain degree of exclusiveness may be not only unobjectionable, but even desirable, is it so very certain that opulent bankers and men of high standing in the commercial world will be thereby induced to offer themselves as candidates for civic offices? Have they themselves offered any suggestion to this effect, or asked for any such motive to do their duty as free-born citizens? Nothing of the kind. It is pure assumption to assert that when the honour is more difficult of attainment it will become an object of ambition to the mighty men on 'Change. The witnesses who gave evidence on this head before the commissioners were unanimous as to the cause that keeps our princely merchants aloof from the civic arena: it is want of time. One and all declared that they could not spare the time from their own pursuits and engagements. Private interests have more weight with them than those of a public nature; they wish no harm to their fellow-citizens, but will not sacrifice their own comfort or profits to toil for their benefit. Indeed, it is by no means manifest that bankers and merchants are the fittest persons to administer the affairs of the City. As a rule, their homes are as remote as possible from the scene of their daily labours. They know nothing whatever of their neighbours, and care no more for one ward than for another, all being equally indifferent to them. They are bound together by no common ties, nor have they any local or traditional sympathies. It is, therefore, very doubtful that their presence among the aldermen, or in the Court of Common Council, would prove at all beneficial to the City, or likely to enhance their own personal reputation. And if, as they themselves allege, they have hitherto been deterred from undertaking civic duties by the pressure of private affairs, there is no ground for the hypothesis that they will henceforth have more leisure to devote themselves to promoting the welfare of their neighbours. In truth, the office of alderman is no sinecure. He is not merely a very stout gentleman, wearing a blue gown, and guzzling enormous quantities of turtle-soup. That caricature is of a piece with the old fable of the lean Frenchman, starving upon frogs, and capable only of dancing and grimacing. An alderman of the City of London has most onerous duties to discharge, for which he expects no other remuneration than the approval of his own conscience and the respect of his fellow-citizens.

It is matter of public notoriety, that in the year 1834 the Corporation cheerfully complied with the requisitions of the Government with regard to the business of the Central Criminal Court. The number of sessions and of courts was increased, prison accommodation considerably enlarged, and other arrangements made with the utmost liberality in order to facilitate the administration of justice. By the Act passed in that year, it was specially provided that the aldermen of London should be members of the commission, which should be presided over by the Lord Mayor. The local knowledge possessed by these magistrates has enabled them on very many occasions to render important service to the judges in apportioning the punishment due to offenders. At the same time they acquired, on their part, a practical knowledge of the administration of law. The result of this training displayed itself in the soundness of their magisterial decisions, and the correctness of their application of criminal law. Six aldermen are placed on the rota for each month, and compelled to attend at the Old Bailey, unless they can furnish a sufficient excuse for their absence. If the number of aldermen be reduced to sixteen, it is not easy to perceive how this important branch of their duties is to be adequately discharged. In addition to their compulsory attendance at the Central Criminal Court, the aldermen are called upon to exercise various other magisterial functions, including the inspection and management of prisons. They have likewise to attend at the London Quarter Sessions; the special sessions for hearing appeals; the special sessions for licenses; the petty sessions; the special sessions; the Southwark Quarter Sessions, and the annual meetings and adjournments. Even this enumeration of duties, however, is no equivalent indication of the work to be gone through, the whole of which is done gratuitously and without expectation of reward. It is proposed, indeed, that the Court of Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London in the Inner Chamber shall retain the power of appointing the Recorder and certain other officers, and of exercising a supervision over the internal discipline of prisons, and in relation to charities and other trusts, but in most other respects their privileges and jurisdiction are to terminate.

On some points the Common Council are to be exalted at the expense of the Court of Aldermen. They are to administer the money and funds of the City, subject to the audit of three persons annually elected, an abstract of whose statement is to be laid before Parliament. The Corporation are therefore deemed unworthy or incompetent to manage their own finances. Men of business are told that their ignorance is so crass, or their honesty so doubtful, that the Legislature is compelled to keep a watchful eye on their expenditure. The proposition is as absurd as it is insulting and uncalled for. The Corporation are further to have no power to sell, mortgage, or lease their own estates. It may, perchance, be true, that in former times less regard was paid to the discovery of secure and profitable investments than suits the more grasping spirit of the present times. It may also be that greater extravagance was occasionally exhibited than would now be either justifiable or tolerable. But on neither of these grounds was it fitting to affix such a stigma, to pass such a vote of censure, on the existing governing body. Many economical reforms have of late years been spontaneously introduced, and an unmistakable tendency shown to make such further retrenchments as might be consistent with the efficiency of the public service. No doubt the expenses attendant on the collection of the City's income are susceptible of reduction, nor would it be amiss if the heavy outlay connected with the civic government were lightened of some of its items. Still, these are mere questions of detail, and might fairly be left to the good taste, judgment, and discretion of the municipal magistrates. The steps already taken by the Common Council clearly evince their desire to keep pace with the liberalism of the age. Since the year 1835, the sum of at least 100,000 pounds has been offered on the altar of public opinion by the gradual abolition of the fines and fees which restricted the freedom of the City. In the same spirit they sacrificed the street tolls, which annually produced upwards of 5,000 pounds, as soon as they had redeemed the mortgage which enabled them to lay out the new street running north from Farringdon Street. They have also courted publicity, by admitting to their deliberations the reporters of the public press, and by publishing minutes of their proceedings and detailed statements of the receipt and expenditure of public moneys. In these and many similar ways they have manifested their anxiety to act in strict good faith towards their constituents, and to do the utmost in their power to promote the welfare of the City of London. No allegations, indeed, have been made against their scrupulously honourable administration of the funds intrusted to their stewardship. Their integrity has never been impugned by their bitterest enemies—the charges that have been brought forward reflect only upon their judgment. They are accused of lavishing untold sums upon idle pageantry and luxurious entertainments, while they have neglected to improve the great thoroughfares, to cleanse the river, and generally to embellish the metropolis and ameliorate the sanitary condition of its inhabitants. It is worth while to consider how much of truth lies in these accusations.

The New Wards.

The first clause of the proposed Bill directs a new division of the City, and recommends that it be redistributed into sixteen wards, instead of twenty-five as heretofore. No reason is assigned for this innovation, beyond an allusion to the fact that no other city—not even Liverpool—possesses more than that number of divisions or departments. The object of the Government was evidently to abase and humiliate the City of London, and to reduce it to the level of the provincial municipalities. It is alleged, that while the metropolis has extended far and wide in every direction, the boundaries of the City have remained unchanged, so that they now inclose barely 1/108th part of the entire metropolitan area. The population also does not embrace 1/20th part of the inhabitants of the aggregate of villages and boroughs collectively known as London. An undue importance, therefore, has been ascribed to that small portion which constitutes the City proper, to the prejudice of the more populous districts, which inclose it on every side. This overrated influence is now to be diminished in good earnest, and henceforth the sole criterion of importance is to be the number of men, women, and children existing within a certain area. Intelligence, wealth, enterprise, industry, commercial reputation, and ancient rights are to be regarded as of little value when compared with the register of births and marriages. So, the City of London is to be divided into sixteen wards, that it may learn not to lift up its head above other corporations. The division is, of course, to be effected by the inevitable barrister of seven years' standing—the modern type of all that is wise, good, intelligent, and incorruptible. It matters not that these gentlemen may and must be totally unacquainted with local peculiarities and requirements. There may be ward charities, and ward bequests, which will create confusion and perplexity under any new arrangement. The inhabitants, too, of one ward may have strong personal objections to be transferred to another. They may dislike the disrupture of old family ties and connections, and cling fondly to the traditions and associations of their youth. Such considerations as these, however, have no weight with red-tapists, who believe in the infallibility of precedents, and apply one measure and one standard to all things.

The only plausible objection that can be urged against the existing distribution of the wards is their inequality as to extent and population; but even if like portions of territory were set apart for each ward, the number of the inhabitants and their influence will vary according to circumstances far beyond the control of any barrister, be he of twice seven years' standing. Besides, though unequal as to area and inmates, the wards are fairly enough represented; for, while the Lime Street Ward returns only four members to the Common Council, Bishopsgate sends fourteen, and Farringdon Without sixteen. This, after all, is surely the point most worthy of attention. The object is not so much to obtain an equality of districts as an equality of representation. It is of no consequence that Cornhill be twice as populous as Bassishaw, if it return twice the number of representatives, for in that case the disparity at once ceases to exist. Sir George Grey, however, is partial to arithmetical equality. There must be sixteen wards and ninety-six Common-Councilmen, or six to each ward. Not that there is anything novel or original in this suggestion. Sir George merely purposes to revert to the arrangements which prevailed in the reign of Richard II.—a period few students of history would select as an illustration of the happiest and most constitutional balance of power throughout all departments of the commonwealth. No proof is adduced that this parcelment of the City was attended with the best possible results, to justify its restoration in the present century, after so long an interval and such elemental changes of the social and commercial system. It is quite possible, and not at all unlikely, that in the time of the second Richard ninety-six Common-Councilmen may have been amply sufficient to discharge all the duties that devolved upon them. But it does not thence follow that that same number will now suffice. If it is proposed by Sir George Grey to establish the civic administration on the broadest, safest, and least assailable foundation, it is scarcely consistent to begin by narrowing that basis. It is generally believed that it is more difficult to corrupt or influence a large number of persons than a small one. In the multitude of counsellors there is strength of will, integrity of purpose, and variety of knowledge. There is less opportunity for jobbing among two hundred than among one hundred individuals, The smaller number is certainly more likely to come to a mutual understanding among themselves, and to apportion to each member his share of the loaves and fishes. On this head no better evidence need be adduced than the report of the commissioners of 1855, by no means too favourably disposed towards the Corporation. It is in the following terms that they speak of the City, and of the advantages incidental to a large representation:-"The antiquity, extent, and importance of its privileges, the long series of its charters, the large amount of its revenues, its metropolitan position, and its historical associations, combine to give it a character different from that of any other municipal borough. It may be added, that the continued predominance of the popular element in the formation of its governing body furnished a reason in 1835 for excepting it from the Municipal Corporations Act; seeing that one of the principal defects which that Act was intended to remedy was the practical exclusion of the principle of popular election from the government of the borough, and the accumulation of power in the hands of a small body of persons. The commissioners state, in their general report of 1835:—'The most common and most striking defect in the constitution of the municipal corporations of England and Wales is, that the corporate bodies exist independently of the communities among which they are found. The corporations look upon themselves, and are considered by the inhabitants, as separate and exclusive bodies; they have powers and privileges within towns and cities from which they are named, but in most places all identity of interest between the corporation and the inhabitants has disappeared.' From the defect described in this passage, the Corporation of London has for many years been exempt. The manner in which the Common Council is elected has produced, to a great extent, an identity of interests between the governing municipal body and the existing municipal community, and has secured to the latter a council representing their general opinions and feelings. The Municipal Commissioners particularly advert to the Common Council of London, as distinguishing that corporation from the close corporations which then prevailed throughout the country."

It is difficult to imagine a better reason for upholding the existing order of things than this very report of the commissioners. They admit that there is an identity of interests between the governing and the governed, between the representatives and their constituents, between the stewards and those for whom they act. No higher commendation can be desired. The system is described as giving satisfaction to all concerned in its operation, and as being free from the great defect which vitiated the municipal arrangements of other cities. The administrative power is not accumulated in the hands of a few, but is freely intrusted to an ample number of representatives chosen by popular election, and liable to removal at the expiration of a year. The fact that the votes of the citizens are usually given to their representatives of many years' standing, is an indisputable proof that the latter do not neglect their duty, or overlook the identity of interests that exists between the governing body and the municipal community. And yet, in the teeth of this report, and in defiance of this good accord, the very defect is to be introduced which was reprobated in other corporations. The administrative power is to be vested in the hands of a comparatively small governing body, and an opportunity afforded for those practices which were considered so objectionable elsewhere.

It is perhaps hardly worthy of remark that the selection of the persons to be appointed to set out the new wards should rest with the Secretary of State. Were it not for the constant augmentation of patronage afforded by each innovation, very little would ever be heard about reform of any kind. But every change, every act of abolition, affords am irresistible opportunity for providing for poor relations and importunate constituents. The Secretary of State, therefore, reserves to himself the choice of the "fit person or persons," which might more decently have been left to the citizens themselves. It is true the latter have not been altogether forgotten, and will not be altogether passed over. To them is to be assigned the privilege of paying five guineas a day to each of these "fit persons," as a recompense for their exertions in introducing confusion and perplexity where order and contentment now prevail.

The Pageant of the Streets

Nothing helps us to realise the condition of ancient London, its growth and expansion, like a careful study of its street-names. It shows that in the Middle Ages London was very different from that great, overcrowded, noisy, and far-extending metropolis which we see to-day. It is difficult for us in these days to realise the small extent of ancient London, when Charing was a village situated between the cities of Westminster and London; or, indeed, to go back in imagination even a century or two ago, when the citizens could go a-nutting on Notting Hill, and when it was possible to see Temple Bar from Leicester Square, then called Leicester Fields, and with a telescope observe the heads of the Scotchrebels which adorned the spikes of the old gateway. In the early coaching days, on account of the impassable roads, it required three hours to journey from Paddington to the city. Kensington, Islington, Brompton, and Paddington were simply country villages, separated by fields and pastures from London; and the names of such districts as Spitalfields, Bethnal Green, Smithfield, Moorfields, and many others, now crowded with houses, indicate the once rural character of the neighbourhood.

The area enclosed by the city walls was not larger than Hyde Park. Their course has been already traced, but we can follow them on the map of London by means of the names of the streets. Thus, beginning at the Tower, we pass on to Aldgate, and then to Bishopsgate. Outside was a protecting moat, which survives in the name Houndsditch, wherein doubtless dead dogs found a resting place. Then we pass on to London Wall, a street which sufficiently tells its derivation. Outside this part of the wall there was a fen, or bog, or moor, which survives in Moorfields, Moorgate Street, and possibly Finsbury; and Artillery Street shows where the makers of bows and arrows had their shops, near the artillery ground, where the users of these weapons practised at the butts. The name of the Barbican tells of a tower that guarded Aldersgate, and some remains of the wall can still be seen in Castle Street and in the churchyard of St. Giles', Cripplegate, the derivation of which has at length been satisfactorily determined by Mr. Loftie in our first chapter, and has nothing to do with the multitude of cripples which Stow imagined congregated there. Thence we go to Newgate and the Old Bailey, names that tell of walls and fortifications. Everyone knows the name of the Bailey court of a castle, which intervened between the keep or stronger portion of the defences and the outer walls or gate. The court of the Old Bailey suggests to modern prisoners other less pleasing ideas. Now the wall turns southward, in the direction of Ludgate, where it was protected by a stream called the Fleet, whence the name Fleet Street is derived. Canon Isaac Taylor suggests that Fleet Street is really Flood Street, from which Ludgate or Floodgate takes its name. We prefer the derivation given by Mr. Loftie. On the south of Ludgate, and on the bank of the Thames, stood a mighty strong castle, called Baynard Castle, constructed by William the Conqueror to aid him, with the Tower of London, to keep the citizens in order. It has entirely disappeared, but if you look closely at the map you will find a wharf which records its memory, and a ward of the city also is named after the long vanished stronghold. Now the course of the wall follows the north bank of the river Thames, and the names Dowgate and Billingsgate record its memory and of the city gates, which allowed peaceable citizens to enter, but were strong to resist foes and rebels.

Within these walls craftsmen and traders had their own particular localities, the members of each trade working together side by side in their own street or district; and although now some of the trades have disappeared, and traders are no longer confined to one district, the street-names record the ancient home of their industries. The two great markets were the Eastcheap and Westcheap, now Cheapside. The former, in the days of Lydgate, was the abode of the butchers. Martin Lyckpenny sings:

"Then I hyed me into Est-chepe One cryes ribbes of befe and many a pye."

And near the butchers naturally were the cooks, who flourished in Cooks' Row, along Thames Street. Candlewick Street took its name from the chandlers. Cornhill marks the site of the ancient corn market. Haymarket, where the theatre is so well known, was the site of a market for hay, but that is comparatively modern. The citizens did not go so far out of the city to buy and sell hay. Stow says: "Then higher in Grasse Street is that parish church of St. Bennet, called Grasse Church, of the herb market there kept"; and though he thinks Fenchurch Street may be derived from a fenny or moorish ground, "others be of opinion that it took that name of Fænum, that is, hay sold there, as Grasse Street took the name of grass, or herbs, there sold." Wool was sold near the church of St. Mary Woolchurch, which stood on the site of the present Mansion House, and in the churchyard was a beam for the weighing of wool. The name survives in that of St. Mary Woolnoth, with which parish the other was united when St. Mary Woolchurch was destroyed by the Great Fire. Lombard Street marks the settlement of the great Lombardi merchants, the Italian financiers, bankers, and pawnbrokers, who found a convenient centre for their transactions midway between the two great markets, Eastcheap and Cheapside. Sometimes the name of the street has been altered in course of time, so that it is difficult to determine the original meaning. Thus Sermon Lane has nothing to do with parsons, but is a corruption of Sheremoniers' Lane, who "cut and rounded the plates to be coined and stamped into sterling pence," as Stow says. Near this lane was the Old Exchange, where money was coined. Later on, this coining was done at a place still called the mint, in Bermondsey. Stow thought that Lothbury was so called because it was a loathsome place, on account of the noise made by the founders; but it is really a corruption of Lattenbury, the place where these founders "cast candlesticks, chafing-dishes, spice mortars, and such like copper or laton works." Of course, people sold their fowls in the Poultry; fish and milk and bread shops were to be found in the streets bearing these names; and leather in Leather Lane and, perhaps, Leadenhall Market, said to be a corruption of Leatherhall, though Stow does not give any hint of this. Sopers' Lane was the abode of the soapmakers; Smithfield of the smiths. Coleman Street derives its name from the man who first built and owned it, says Stow; but later authorities place there the coalmen or charcoal-burners. As was usual in mediæval towns, the Jews had a district for themselves, and resided in Old Jewry and Jewin Street.

The favourite haunt of booksellers and publishers, Paternoster Row, derives its name, according to Stow, "from the stationers or text-writers that dwelled there, who wrote and sold all sorts of books then in use, namely, A. B. C. or Absies, with the Paternoster, Ave, Creed, Graces, etc. There dwelled also turners of beads, and they are called Paternoster-makers. At the end of Paternoster Row is Ave Mary Lane, so called upon the like occasion of text-writers and bead-makers then dwelling there." Creed Lane and Amen Corner make up the names of these streets where the worshippers in Old St. Paul's found their helps to devotion.

Old London was a city of palaces as well as of trade. All the great nobles of England had their town houses, or inns, as they were called. They had vast retinues of armed men, and required no small lodging. The Dukes of Exeter and Somerset, the Earl of Northumberland, and many others, had their town houses, every vestige of which has passed away, though their names are preserved by the streets and sites on which they stood. The Strand, for example, is full of the memories of these old mansions, which began to be erected along the river bank when the Wars of the Roses had ceased, and greater security was felt by the people of England, who then began to perceive that it might be possible to live in safety outside the walls of the city. Northumberland Avenue tells of the house of the Earls of Northumberland, which stood so late as 1875; Burleigh Street and Essex Street recall the famous Sir William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, whose son was created Earl of Essex. Arundel House, the mansion of the Howards, is marked by Arundel Street, Surrey Street, Howard Street, Norfolk Street, these being the titles borne by scions of this famous family. The readers of the chapter on the Royal Palaces need not be told of the traditions preserved by the names Somerset House and the Savoy. Cecil Street and Salisbury Street recall the memory of Salisbury House, built by Sir Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, brother of the Earl of Essex mentioned above. Then we have Bedford Street, with Russell Street, Southampton Street, Tavistock Street, around Covent Garden. These names unfold historical truths. Covent Garden is an abbreviated form of Convent Garden, the garden of the monks of Westminster. It was granted to the Russell family at the dissolution of monasteries, and the Russells, Earls of Bedford, erected a mansion here, which has long disappeared, but has left traces behind in the streets named after the various titles to which members of the Russell family attained. In another part of London we find traces of the same family. After leaving Covent Garden they migrated to Bloomsbury, and there we find Bedford Square, Southampton Street, Russell Square, Tavistock Square, and Chenies Street, this latter being named after their seat in Buckinghamshire. Craven buildings, near Drury Lane, tells of the home of Lord Craven, the devoted admirer of the "Queen of Hearts," the beautiful Queen of Bohemia. Clare House, the mansion of the Earls of Clare, survives in Clare Market; and Leicester Square points to the residence of the favourite of Queen Elizabeth, and Villiers Street and Buckingham Street to that of another court favourite, the Duke of Buckingham. The bishops also had their town houses, and their sites are recorded by such names as Ely Place, Salisbury Square, Bangor Court, and Durham Street.

We might wander westward, and trace the progress of building and of fashion, and mark the streets that bear witness to the memories of great names in English history; but that would take us far beyond our limits. Going back citywards, we should find many other suggestive names of streets—those named after churches; those that record the memories of religious houses, such as Blackfriars, Austin Friars, Crutched Friars; those that mark the course of many streams and brooks that now find their way underground to the great river. All these names recall glimpses of Old London, and must be cherished as priceless memorials of ancient days.

The Heart of the City

In the centre of London, at the eastern end of Cheapside, stand the Royal Exchange, the Mansion House, and Bank of England, all of which merit attention. The official residence of the Lord Mayor—associated with the magnificent hospitality of the city, with the memory of many distinguished men who have held the office of Chief Magistrate, and with the innumerable charitable schemes which have been initiated there—was built by Dance, and completed in 1753. It is in the Italian style, and resembles a Palladian Palace. Its conspicuous front, with Corinthian columns supporting a pediment, in the centre of which is a group of allegorical sculpture, is well known to all frequenters of the city. Formerly it had an open court, but this has been roofed over and converted into a grand banquetting hall, known as the Egyptian Hall. There are other dining rooms, a ball room, and drawing room, all superbly decorated, and the Mansion House is a worthy home for the Lord Mayor of London.

The Bank of England commenced its career in 1691; founded by William Paterson, a Scotsman, and incorporated by William III. The greatest monetary establishment in the world at first managed to contain its wealth in a single chest, not much larger than a seaman's box. Its first governor was Sir John Houblon, who appears largely in the recent interesting volume on the records of the Houblon family, and whose house and garden were on part of the site of the present bank. The halls of the mercers and grocers provided a home for the officials in their early dealings. The site of the bank was occupied by a church, St. Christopher-le-Stocks, three taverns, and several houses. These have all been removed to make room for the extensions which from time to time were found necessary. The back of the Threadneedle Street front is the earliest portion—built in 1734, to which Sir Robert Taylor added two wings; and then Sir John Soane was appointed architect, and constructed the remainder of the present buildings in the Corinthian style, after the model of the Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli. There have been several subsequent additions, including the heightening of the Cornhill front by an attic in 1850. There have been many exciting scenes without those sombre-looking walls. It has been attacked by rioters. Panics have created "runs" on the bank; in 1745 the managers just saved themselves by telling their agents to demand payment for large sums in sixpences, which took a long time to count, the agents then paying in the sixpences, which had to be again counted, and thus preventing bonâ-fide  holders of notes presenting them. At one time the corporation had a very insignificant amount of money in the bank, and just saved themselves by issuing one pound notes. The history of forgeries on the bank would make an interesting chapter, and the story of its defence in the riots of 1780, when old inkstands were used as bullets by the gallant defenders, fills a page of old-world romance.

The Royal Exchange.

Engraved by Hollar, 1644.

But interesting as these buildings are, their stories pale before that of the Royal Exchange. The presentbuilding was finished in 1844, and opened by her late Majesty Queen Victoria with a splendid state and civic function. Its architecture is something after the style of the Pantheon at Rome. Why the architects of that and earlier periods always chose Italian models for their structures is one of the mysteries of human error; but, as we have seen, all these three main buildings in the heart of the city are copied from Italian structures. William Tite was the architect, and he achieved no mean success. The great size of the portico, the vastness of the columns, the frieze and sculptured tympanum, and striking figures, all combine to make it an imposing building. Upon the pedestal of the figure of "Commerce" is the inscription: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." The interior has been enriched by a series of mural paintings, representing scenes from the municipal life of London, the work of eminent artists.

This exchange is the third which has stood upon this site. The first was built by Sir Thomas Gresham, one of the famous family of merchants to whom London owes many benefits. It was a "goodly Burse," of Flemish design, having been built by a Flemish architect and Flemish workmen, and closely resembled the great Burse of Antwerp. The illustration, taken from an old engraving by Hollar, 1644, shows the building with its large court, with an arcade, a corridor or "pawn" of stalls above, and, in the high-pitched roof, chambers with dormer windows. Above the roofs a high bell-tower is seen, from which, at twelve o'clock at noon and at six in the evening, a bell sounded forth that proclaimed the call to 'Change. The merchants are shown walking or sitting on the benches transacting their business. Each nationality or trade had its own "walk." Thus there were the "Scotch walk," "Hanbro'," "Irish," "East country," "Swedish," "Norway," "American," "Jamaica," "Spanish," "Portugal," "French," "Greek," and "Dutch and Jewellers'" walks. When Queen Elizabeth came to open the Exchange, the tradesmen began to use the hundred shops in the corridor, and "milliners or haberdashers sold mouse-traps, bird-cages, shoeing-horns, Jews' trumps, etc.; armourers, that sold both old and new armour; apothecaries, booksellers, goldsmiths, and glass-sellers." The Queen declared that this beautiful building should be no longer called the Burse, but gave it the name "The Royal Exchange." In the illustration some naughty boys have trespassed upon the seclusion of the busy merchants, and the beadle is endeavouring to drive them out of the quadrangle.

This fine building was destroyed by the Great Fire, when all the statues fell down save that of the founder, Sir Thomas Gresham. His trustees, now known as the Gresham Committee, set to work to rebuild it, and employed Edward German as their architect, though Wren gave advice concerning the project. As usual, the citizens were not very long in accomplishing their task, and three years after the fire the second Exchange was opened, and resembled in plan its predecessor. Many views of it appear in the Crace collection in the British Museum. In 1838 it was entirely destroyed by fire. In the clock-tower there was a set of chimes, and the last tune they played, appropriately, was, "There's nae luck about the house." As we have seen, in a few years the present Royal Exchange arose, which we trust will be more fortunate than its predecessors, and never fall a victim to the flames.


There is much else that we should like to see in Old London, and record in these Memorials. We should like to visit the old fairs, especially Bartholomew Fair, Smithfield, either in the days of the monks or with my Lady Castlemaine, who came in her coach, and mightily enjoyed a puppet show; and the wild beasts, dwarfs, operas, tight-rope dancing, sarabands, dogs dancing the Morrice, hare beating a tabor, a tiger pulling the feathers from live fowls, the humours of Punchinello, and drolls of every degree. Pages might be written of the celebrities of the fair, of the puppet shows, where you could see such incomparable dramas as Whittington and his CatDr. FaustusFriar BaconRobin Hood and Little JohnMother Shipton, together with "the tuneful warbling pig of Italian race." But our pageant is passing, and little space remains. We should like to visit the old prisons. A friend of the writer, Mr. Milliken, has allowed himself to be locked in all the ancient gaols which have remained to our time, and taken sketches of all the cells wherein famous prisoners have been confined; of gates, and bars, and bolts and doors, which have once restrained nefarious gaol-birds. Terrible places they were, these prisons, wherein prisoners were fleeced and robbed by governors and turnkeys, and, if they had no money, were kicked and buffeted in the most merciless manner. Old Newgate, which has just disappeared, has perhaps the most interesting history. It began its career as a prison in the form of a tower or part of the city gate. Thus it continued until the Great Fire, after which it was restored by Wren. In our illustration of the old gatehouse, it will be seen that it had a windmill at the top. This was an early attempt at ventilation, in order to overcome the dread malady called "gaol distemper," which destroyed many prisoners. Many notable names appear on the list of those who suffered here, including several literary victims, whose writings caused them grievous sufferings. The prison so lately destroyed was designed by George Dance in 1770. A recent work on architecture describes it as almost perfect of its kind. Before it was completed it was attacked by the Gordon rioters, who released the prisoners and set it on fire. It was repaired and finished in 1782. Outwardly so imposing, inwardly it was, for a long period, one of the worst prisons in London, full of vice and villainy, unchecked, unreformed; while outside frequently gathered tumultuous crowds to see the condemned prisoners hanged. We might have visited also the debtors' prisons with Mr. Pickwick and other notables, if our minds were not surfeited with prison fare; and even followed the hangman's cart to Tyburn, to see the last of some notorious criminals. Where the Ludgate Railway Station now stands was the famous Fleet prison, which had peculiar privileges, the Liberty of the Fleet allowing prisoners to go on bail and lodge in the neighbourhood of the prison. The district extended from the entrance to St. Paul's churchyard, Old Bailey, Ludgate Hill, to the Thames. Everyone has heard of the Fleet marriages that took place in this curious neighbourhood. On the other side of New Bridge Street there was a wild district called Alsatia, extending from Fleet Street to the Thames, wherein, until 1697, cheats and scoundrels found a safe sanctuary, and could not be disturbed.

Again, we should like to visit the old public gardens, Vauxhall and Ranelagh, in company with Horace Walpole, or with Miss Burney's Evelina  or Fielding's Amelia, and note "the extreme beauty and elegance of the place, with its 1,000 lamps"; "and happy is it for me," the young lady remarks, "since to give an adequate idea of it would exceed my power of description."

But the pageant must at length pass on, and we must wake from the dreams of the past to find ourselves in our ever growing, ever changing, modern London. It is sufficient for us to reflect sometimes on the past life of the great city, to see again the scenes which took place in the streets and lanes we know so well, to form some ideas of the characters and manners of our forefathers, and to gather together some memorials of the greatest and most important city in the world.

SOME CELEBRATED COCKNEYS

You cannot stir the ground of London anywhere but straightway it flowers into romance. Read the inscriptions on the crumbling tombs of our early merchant princes and adventurers in some of the old City churches, and it glimmers upon you that if ever the history of London's commercial rise and progress gets adequately written it will read like a series of stories out of the Arabian Nights. Think what dashing and magnificent figures, what tales of dark plottings, fierce warfare, and glorious heroisms must brighten and darken the pages of any political history of London; and even more glamorous, more intensely and humanly alive, would be a social history of London, beginning perhaps in those days of the fourteenth century when Langland was living in Cornhill and writing his Vision of Piers Plowman, or farther back still, in Richard the First's time, when that fine spirit, the first of English demagogues, William Fitzosbert, was haranguing the folkmoot in St. Paul's Churchyard, urging them to resist the tyrannic taxations of the Lord Mayor and his Court of wealthy Aldermen—a passion for justice that brought him into such danger that he and certain of his friends had to seek sanctuary, and barricaded themselves in Bow Church. The church was fired by order of a bishop who had no sympathy with reformers, and Fitzosbert and his friends, breaking out through the flames, were stabbed and struck down in Cheapside, hustled to the Tower, hastily tried and sentenced, dragged out by the heels through the streets, and hanged at Smithfield. I have always thought this would make a good, live starting-point, and had I but world enough and time I would sooner write that history than anything else.

No need to hunt after topics when you are writing about London; they come to you. The air is full of them. The very names of the streets are cabalistic words. Once you know London, myriads of great spirits may be called from the vasty deep by sight or sound of such names as Fleet Street, Strand, Whitehall, Drury Lane, The Temple, Newgate Street, Aldersgate, Lombard Street, Cloth Fair, Paternoster Row, Holborn, Bishopsgate, and a hundred others. You have only to walk into Whitefriars Street and see “Hanging-sword Alley” inscribed on the wall of a court at the top of a narrow flight of steps, and all Alsatia rises again around you, as Ilion rose like a mist to the music of Apollo's playing. Loiter along Cornhill in the right mood and Thomas Archer's house shall rebuild itself for you at the corner of Pope's Head Alley, where he started the first English newspaper in 1603, and you will wonder why nobody writes a full history of London journalism.

As for literary London—every other street you traverse is haunted with memories of poets, novelists, and men of letters, and it is some of the obscurest of these associations that are the most curiously fascinating. I have a vivid, youthful remembrance of a tumble-down, red-tiled shop near the end of Leathersellers' Buildings which I satisfied myself was the identical place in which Robert Bloomfield worked as a shoemaker's assistant; Devereux Court still retains something of the Grecian Coffee-house that used to be frequented by Addison and Steele, but I knew the Court first, and am still drawn to it most, as the site of that vanished Tom's Coffee-house where Akenside often spent his winter evenings; and if I had my choice of bringing visibly back out of nothingness one of the old Charing Cross houses, it would be the butcher's shop that was kept by the uncle who adopted Prior in his boyhood.

Plenty of unpleasant things have been said about London, but never by her own children, or such children of her adoption as Johnson and Dickens. Says Hobbes, who was born at Malmesbury, “London has a great belly, but no palate,” and Bishop Stubbs (a native of Knaresborough) more recently described it as “always the purse, seldom the head, and never the heart of England.” Later still an eminent speaker, quoting this fantastic dictum of Stubbs's, went a step further and informed his audience that “not many men eminent in literature have been born in London”; a statement so demonstrably inaccurate that one may safely undertake to show that at least as many men eminent in literature, to say nothing of art and science, have been born in London as in any other half-dozen towns of the kingdom put together.

To begin with, the morning star of our literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, was born in Thames Street, not far from the wharf where, after he was married and had leased a home for himself in Aldgate, he held office as a Comptroller of Customs, and the pen that was presently to write the Canterbury Tales  “moved over bills of lading.” The “poets' poet,” Spenser, was born in East Smithfield, by the Tower, and in his Prothalamion speaks of his birthplace affectionately as—

“Merry London, my most kindly nurse,
That to me gave this life's first native source,
Though from another place I take my name.”

Ben Jonson was born in Hartshorn Lane, Charing Cross; four of his contemporary dramatists, Fletcher, Webster, Shirley and Middleton, were also Londoners by birth; Sir Thomas Browne, author of the Religio Medici, was born in the parish of St. Michael-le-Quern, in the very heart of the city; and Bread Street, Cheapside, is hallowed by the fact that Milton had his birth there.

Dr. Donne, the son of a London merchant, was also born within a stone's throw of Cheapside; and his disciple, Cowley, came into the world in Fleet Street, at the corner of Chancery Lane. But Cowley was a renegade; he acquired an unnatural preference for the country, and not only held that “God the first garden made, and the first city Cain,” but ended a poem in praise of nature and a quiet life with—

“Methinks I see
The monster London laugh at me;
I should at thee too, foolish city,
If it were fit to laugh at misery;
But thy estate I pity.
Let but thy wicked men from out thee go,
And all the fools that crowd thee so,
Even thou, who dost thy millions boast,
A village less than Islington wilt grow,
A solitude almost.”

 

JOHN MILTON

 

The daintiest of our lyrists, Herrick, was born over his father's shop in Cheapside, and you may take it he was only playing with poetical fancies when, in some lines to his friend Endymion Porter, he praised the country with its “nut-brown mirth and russet wit,” and again when, in a set of verses on “The Country Life,” he assured his brother he was “thrice and above blest,” because he could—

“Leave the city, for exchange, to see
The country's sweet simplicity.”

If you want to find him in earnest, turn to that enraptured outburst of his on “His Return to London”—

“Ravished in spirit I come, nay more I fly
To thee, blessed place of my nativity!...
O place! O people! manners framed to please
All nations, customs, kindreds, languages!
I am a free-born Roman; suffer then
That I amongst you live a citizen.
London my home is, though by hard fate sent
Into a long and irksome banishment;
Yet since called back, henceforward let me be,
O native country! repossessed by thee;
For rather than I'll to the West return,
I'll beg of thee first here to have mine urn.”

There speaks the true Cockney; he would sooner be dead in London than alive in the West of England. Even Lamb's love of London was scarcely greater than that.

 

THE GATEWAY. MIDDLE TEMPLE.

 

It was fitting that Pope, essentially a town poet, should be born in Lombard Street. In the next thoroughfare, Cornhill, Gray was born; and, son of a butcher, Defoe began life in the parish of St. Giles's, Cripplegate. Shakespeare was an alien, but Bacon was born at York House, in the Strand; which, to my thinking, is the strongest argument in favour of the theory that he wrote the plays. Churchill was born at Vine Street, Westminster; Keats in Moorfields; and, staunchest and one of the most incorrigible Londoners of them all, Charles Lamb in Crown Office Row, Temple. He refers, in one of his essays, to Hare Court, in the Temple, and says: “It was a gloomy, churchyard-like court, with three trees and a pump in it. I was born near it, and used to drink at that pump when I was a Rechabite of six years old.” The pump is no longer there, only one half of Hare Court remains as it was in Lamb's day, and Crown Office Row has been rebuilt. His homes in Mitre Court Buildings and Inner Temple Lane have vanished also; but the Temple is still rich in reminiscences of him. Paper Buildings, King's Bench Walk, Harcourt Buildings, the fountain near Garden Court, the old Elizabethan Hall, in which tradition says Shakespeare read one of his plays to Queen Elizabeth—these and the church, the gardens, the winding lanes and quaint byways of the Temple, made up, as he said, his earliest recollections. “I repeat to this day,” he writes, “no verses to myself more frequently, or with kindlier emotion, than those of Spenser, where he speaks of this spot—

‘There when they came whereas those bricky towers
The which on Themmes broad aged back doth ride,
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,
There whylome wont the Templar knights to bide,
Till they decayed through pride.'”

And, “indeed,” he adds, “it is the most elegant spot in the metropolis.”

 

CHAUCER'S TOMB. WESTMINSTER ABBEY.

 

But his letters and essays are full of his love of London. “I don't care much,” he wrote to Wordsworth, “if I never see a mountain. I have passed all my days in London, until I have formed as many and intense local attachments as any of your mountaineers can have done with dead Nature.... I often shed tears in the motley Strand from fulness of joy in so much life.” Again, “Fleet Street and the Strand,” he writes to Manning, “are better places to live in for good and all than amidst Skiddaw.” After he had removed to Edmonton, on account of his sister's health, it was to Wordsworth he wrote, saying how he pined to be back again in London: “In dreams I am in Fleet Market, but I wake and cry to sleep again.... Oh, never let the lying poets be believed who 'tice men from the cheerful haunts of streets.... A garden was the primitive prison, till man, with Promethean felicity and boldness, luckily sinned himself out of it. Thence followed Babylon, Nineveh, Venice, London.... I would live in London shirtless, bookless.”

But to get back to our catalogue of birthplaces—Blake was born in Broad Street, near Golden Square; Byron in Holles Street; Hood in the Poultry, within sight of the Mansion House; Dante and Christina Rossetti were Londoners born; so were Swinburne, Browning, Philip Bourke Marston, John Stuart Mill, Ruskin, Turner, Holman Hunt, Sir Arthur Sullivan—but if we go outside literary Londoners this chapter will end only with the book. Moreover, my purpose is not so much to talk of authors and artists who were born in London, as to give some record of the still surviving houses in which many of them lived; whether they had their birth here or not, the majority of them came here to live and work, for, so far as England is concerned, there is more than a grain of truth in Lamb's enthusiastic boast that “London is the only fostering soil of genius.”

WHERE POPE STAYED AT BATTERSEA

Coming from Chelsea by way of Battersea Bridge, you go a few yards along the Battersea Bridge Road, then turn aside into Church Road, and presently you pass a narrow, mean street of small houses, which is Bolingbroke Road, and serves to remind you that the Bolingbrokes were once lords of the manor of Battersea and proprietors of the ferry that crossed the river hereabouts before the first Battersea Bridge was built. A little further down Church Road, past squat and grimy houses on the one hand and gaunt walls and yawning gateways of mills, distilleries, and miscellaneous “works” on the other, and you come to a gloomy gateway that has “To Bolingbroke House” painted up on one of its side-walls. Through this opening you see a busy, littered yard; straw and scraps of paper and odds and ends of waste blow about on its stones; stacks of packing-cases and wooden boxes rise up against a drab background of brick buildings, and deep in the yard, with a space before it in which men are at work and a waggon is loading, you find the forlorn left wing—all that survives—of what was once the family seat of Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, whose chief title to remembrance now is that he was the friend of Alexander Pope.

Worn and dingy with age, its stone porch stained and crumbling, and some of its windows broken, the place has a strange, neglected look, though it is still used for business purposes, and you have glimpses of clerks writing at their desks in the rooms from which Pope used to gaze out on very different surroundings.

It is difficult, indeed, to associate such a house and such a neighbourhood as this has now become with so fastidious, finicking, and modish a poet as Pope. All the adjacent streets are squalid, poverty-stricken, noisy; along the main road, almost within hearing, trams and motor-buses shuttle continually to and fro: except for a quaint, dirty, weary-looking cottage that still stands dreaming here and there among its ugly, mid-Victorian neighbours, and for the river that laps below the fence at the end of the yard, there is scarcely anything left of the quiet, green, rural Battersea village with which he was familiar; even the church whose steeple rises near by above the mills, and in which Bolingbroke was buried, was rebuilt a few years after his death.

Nevertheless, this weatherbeaten, time-wasted old house down the yard is the same house that, when it stood with Bolingbroke's lawn before it and his pleasant gardens sloping to the Thames, was the occasional home of Pope, and numbered Swift, Thomson, and other of the great men of letters of Queen Anne's reign among its visitors. One of the rooms overlooking the river, a room lined with cedar, beautifully inlaid, is still known as “Mr. Pope's parlour”; it is said to have been used by Pope as his study, and that he wrote his Essay on Man  in it.

It is therefore the more fitting that Pope should have dedicated An Essay on Man  to Bolingbroke, whom he addresses in the opening lines with that exhortation:—

“Awake, my St. John, leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings!”

He dedicated also one of his Imitations of Horace to—

“St. John, whose love indulged my labours past,
Matures my present, and shall bound my last.”

A man of brilliant gifts, both as writer and statesman, Bolingbroke became involved in the political intriguings of his day, and in 1715 had to flee to Calais to escape arrest for high treason. Eight years later he was allowed to return, and his forfeited estates were given back to him. On the death of his father he took up his residence at Battersea, and it was there that he died of cancer in 1751. “Pope used to speak of him,” writes Warton, “as a being of a superior order that had condescended to visit this lower world;” and he, in his turn, said of Pope, “I never in my life knew a man that had so tender a heart for his particular friends, or more general friendship for mankind.”

 

POPE'S HOUSE. BATTERSEA.

 

And on the whole one feels that this character of Pope was truer than Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's presentation of him as “the wicked asp of Twickenham”; for if he was viciously cruel to Colley Cibber and the poor Grub Street scribblers whom he satirises in The Dunciad, he was kindness itself to Akenside and other of his younger rivals in reading their manuscripts and recommending them to his publishers; and if he retorted bitterly upon Addison after he had fallen out with him, he kept unbroken to the last his close friendship with Swift, Gay, Garth, Atterbury, Bolingbroke, and with Arbuthnot, for whose services in helping him through “this long disease, my life” he expressed a touchingly affectionate gratitude. If he had been the heartless little monster his enemies painted him he could not have felt so tireless and beautiful a love for his father and mother and, despite his own feebleness and shattered health, have devoted himself so assiduously to the care of his mother in her declining years. “O friend,” he writes to Arbuthnot, in the Prologue to the Satires:—

“O friend, may each domestic bliss be thine!
Be no unpleasing melancholy mine:
Me let the tender office long engage
To rock the cradle of reposing age,
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death,
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,
And keep a while one parent from the sky.”

All his life, Pope dwelt in London or on the skirts of it. He was twenty-eight when, soon after the death of his father in 1715, he leased the famous villa at Twickenham and took his mother to live with him there, and it was from there when she died, a very old lady of ninety-three, that on the 10th June 1783, he wrote to an artist friend the letter that enshrines his sorrow:—

“As I know you and I naturally desire to see one another, I hoped that this day our wishes would have met and brought you hither. And this for the very reason which possibly might hinder your coming, that my poor mother is dead. I thank God her death was easy, as her life was innocent, and as it cost her not a groan or even a sigh, there is yet upon her countenance such an expression of tranquillity, nay, almost of pleasure, that, far from horrid, it is even amiable to behold it. It would form the finest image of a saint expired that ever painter drew, and it would be the greatest obligation art could ever bestow on a friend if you could come and sketch it for me. I am sure if there be no prevalent obstacle you will leave every common business to do this; and I hope to see you this evening as late as you will, or to-morrow morning as early, before this winter flower is faded. I will defer her interment till to-morrow night. I know you love me or I would not have written this—I could not (at this time) have written at all. Adieu. May you die as happily.”

From Twickenham Pope made frequent visits to London, where he stayed in lodgings, or at the houses of friends; and in the last four or five years of his life, after Bolingbroke had settled down at Battersea, he put up as often as not at Bolingbroke House. Of his personal appearance at this date there are a good many records. One of his numerous lampooners, unkindly enough but very graphically, pictures him as—

“Meagre and wan, and steeple crowned,
His visage long, his shoulders round;
His crippled corse two spindle pegs
Support, instead of human legs;
His shrivelled skin's of dusty grain,
A cricket's voice, and monkey's brain.”

His old enemy, John Dennis, sneering at his hunched and drooping figure, described him as “a young, short, squab gentleman, the very bow of the god of love.” He had to be laced up tightly in bodices made of stiff canvas, so that he might hold himself erect, and, says Dr. Johnson, “his stature was so low, that to bring him to a level with a common table it was necessary to raise his seat. But his face was not displeasing, and his eyes were animated and vivid.” And here is Sir Joshua Reynolds's word-picture of him: “He was about four feet six inches high, very hump-backed and deformed. He wore a black coat, and, according to the fashion of that time, had on a little sword. He had a large and very fine eye, and a long, handsome nose; his mouth had those peculiar marks which are always found in the mouths of crooked persons, and the muscles which run across the cheek were so strongly marked that they seemed like small cords.”

 

ALEXANDER POPE

 

This is the queer, misshapen, pathetic little shape that haunts that old-world house in the yard at Battersea, and you may gather something of the life he lived there, and of the writing with which he busied himself in the cedar parlour, from these extracts out of two of his letters, both of which were written to Warburton:—

January 12, 1743-4.

“Of the public I can tell you nothing worthy of the reflection of a reasonable man; and of myself only an account that would give you pain; for my asthma has increased every week since you last heard from me to the degree of confining me totally to the fireside; so that I have hardly seen any of my friends but two (Lord and Lady Bolingbroke), who happen to be divided from the world as much as myself, and are constantly retired at Battersea. There I have passed much of my time, and often wished you of the company, as the best I know to make me not regret the loss of others, and to prepare me for a nobler scene than any mortal greatness can open to us. I fear by the account you gave me of the time you design to come this way, one of them (Lord B.) whom I much wish you had a glimpse of (as a being paullo minus ab angelio ), will be gone again, unless you pass some weeks in London before Mr. Allen arrives there in March. My present indisposition takes up almost all my hours to render a very few of them supportable; yet I go on softly to prepare the great edition of my things with your notes, and as fast as I receive any from you, I add others in order (determining to finish the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot and two or three of the best of Horace, particularly that of Augustus, first), which will fall into the same volume with the Essay on Man. I determined to publish a small number of the Essay, and of the other on Criticism, ere now, as a sample of the rest, but Bowyer advised delay, though I now see I was not in the wrong.”

 

“February 21, 1743-4.

“I own that the late encroachments on my constitution make me willing to see the end of all further care about me or my works. I would rest from the one in a full resignation of my being to be disposed of by the Father of all mercy, and for the other (though indeed a trifle, yet a trifle may be some example) I would commit them to the candour of a sensible and reflecting judge, rather than to the malice of every short-sighted and malevolent critic or inadvertent and censorious reader. And no hand can set them in so good a light, or so well turn them best side to the day, as your own. This obliges me to confess I have for some months thought myself going, and that not slowly, down the hill—the rather as every attempt of the physicians, and still the last medicines more forcible in their nature, have utterly failed to serve me. I was at last, about seven days ago, taken with so violent a fit at Battersea, that my friends, Lord Bolingbroke and Lord Marchmont, sent for present help to the surgeon, whose bleeding me, I am persuaded, saved my life by the instantaneous effect it had, and which has continued so much to amend me that I have passed five days without oppression, and recovered, what I have three days wanted, some degree of expectoration and some hours together of sleep. I can now go to Twickenham, to try if the air will not take some part in reviving me, if I can avoid colds, and between that place and Battersea, with my Lord Bolingbroke, I will pass what I have of life while he stays, which I can tell you, to my great satisfaction, will be this fortnight or three weeks yet.”

In the year after writing this Pope came to the end of all further care about himself and his works; he died at Twickenham, and lies buried under the middle aisle of Twickenham Church.

The City Churches

In the pageant of London no objects are more numerous and conspicuous than the churches which greet us at every step. In spite of the large number which have disappeared, there are very many left. There they stand in the centre of important thoroughfares, in obscure courts and alleys—here surrounded by high towering warehouses; there maintaining proud positions, defying the attacks of worldly business and affairs. A whole volume would be required to do justice to the city churches, and we can only glance at some of the most striking examples.

The Great Fire played havoc with the ancient structures, and involved in its relentless course many a beautiful and historic church. But some few of them are left to us. We have already seen St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield, and glanced at the church of St. Helen, Bishopsgate, and old St Paul's. Wren's St. Paul's Cathedral has so often been described that it is not necessary to tell again the story of its building.[1] "Destroyed by the Great Fire, rebuilt by Wren," is the story of most of the city churches; but there were some few which escaped. At the east end of Great Tower Street stands All Hallows Barking, so called from having belonged to the abbey of Barking, Essex. This narrowly escaped the fire, which burned the dial, and porch, and vicarage house. Its style is mainly Perpendicular, with a Decorated east window, and has some good brasses. St. Andrew's Undershaft, Leadenhall Street, opposite to which the May-pole was annually raised until "Evil May-day" put an end to the merry-makings, was rebuilt in 1520-32, and contains some mural paintings, much stained glass, and many brasses and monuments, including that of John Stow, the famous London antiquary. St. Catherine Cree, in the same street, was rebuilt in 1629, and consecrated by Laud. St. Dunstan's-in-the-East was nearly destroyed, and restored by Wren, the present nave being rebuilt in 1817. St. Dunstan's, Stepney, preserves its fifteenth century fabric, and St. Ethelburga's, Bishopsgate, retains some of its Early English masonry, and St. Ethelreda's, Ely Place, is the only surviving portion of the ancient palace of the Bishops of Ely. St. Giles', Cripplegate, stands near the site of a Saxon church built in 1090 by Alfun, the first hospitaller of the Priory of St. Bartholomew. Suffering from a grievous fire in 1545, it was partially rebuilt, and in 1682 the tower was raised fifteen feet. Many illustrious men were buried here, including John Fox, John Speed, the historian, John Milton and his father, several actors of the Fortune Theatre, and Sir Martin Frobisher. In 1861 the church was restored in memory of Milton, and a monument raised to him. This church saw the nuptials of Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth Bowchier in 1620. All Hallows Staining, Mark Lane, escaped the fire, and its tower and west end are ancient. St. James', Aldgate, was built in 1622, and escaped the fire, which might have spared more important edifices; and St. Olave's, Hart Street, a building which shows Norman, Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular work, was happily preserved. This is sometimes called Pepys's church, since he often mentions it in his diary, and lies buried here. There are other interesting monuments, and in the churchyard lie some of the victims of the Great Plague. St. Sepulchre's, near Newgate, was damaged by the fire, and refitted by Wren, but the main building is fifteenth century work. Several churches escaped the Great Fire, but were subsequently pulled down and rebuilt. Amongst these are St. Alphege, London Wall; St. Botolph-without, Aldersgate; St. Botolph's, St. Martin's Outwich. St. Mary Woolnoth was also damaged by the fire, and repaired by Wren. It stands on the site of an early church, which was rebuilt in the fifteenth century; but the greater part of the present church was built by Hawksmoor in 1716.

A strange, weird, desolate city met the eyes of the people of London when the Great Fire had died away. No words can describe that scene of appalling ruin and desolation. But, with the energy for which Englishmen are remarkable, they at once set to work to restore their loss, and a master-mind was discovered who could grapple with the difficulty and bring order out of chaos. This wonderful genius was Sir Christopher Wren. He devised a grand scheme for the rebuilding of the city. Evelyn planned another. But property owners were tenacious of their rights, and clung to their own parcels of ground; so these great schemes came to nothing. However, to Wren fell the task of rebuilding the fallen churches, and no less than fifty-two were entrusted to his care. He had no one to guide him; no school of artists or craftsmen to help him in the detail of his buildings; no great principles of architecture to direct him. Gothic architecture was dead, if we except the afterglow that shone in Oxford. He might have followed his great predecessor, Inigo Jones, and produced works after an Italian model. But he was no copyist. Taking the classic orders as his basis, he devised a style of his own, suitable for the requirements of the time and climate, and for the form of worship and religious usages of the Anglican Church. "It is enough for Romanists to hear the murmur of the mass, and see the elevation of the Host; but our churches are to be fitted for auditories," he once said.

Of the churches built by Wren, eighteen beautiful buildings have already been destroyed. St. Christopher-le-Stocks is swallowed up by the Bank of England; St. Michael, Crooked Lane, disappeared in 1841, when approaches were made to New London Bridge; St. Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange made way for the Sun Fire Office; and St. Benet Fink was pulled down because of its nearness to the Royal Exchange. Since the passing of the Union of City Benefices Act in 1860, fourteen churches designed by Wren have succumbed, and attacks on others have been with difficulty warded off.[2]

The characteristics of Wren's genius were his versatility, imagination, and originality. We will notice some of the results of these qualities of mind. The tower hardly ever enters into the architectural treatment of the interior. It is used as an entrance lobby or vestry. His simplest plan was a plain oblong, without columns or recesses, such as St. Mildred's, Bread Street, or St. Nicholas', Cole Abbey. St. Margaret, Lothbury, St. Vedast, St. Clement, Eastcheap, have this simple form, with the addition of an aisle or a recess. His next plan consists of the central nave and two aisles, with or without clerestory windows; of this St. Andrew Wardrobe and St. Magnus the Martyr furnish good examples. The third plan is the domed church, such as St. Swithun and St. Mary Abchurch. The merits and architectural beauties of Wren's churches have been recently described in an able lecture delivered by Mr. Arthur Keen before the Architectural Association, a lecture which we should like to see expanded to the size of a book, and enriched with copious drawings. It would be of immense service in directing the minds of the citizens of London to the architectural treasures of which they are the heirs.

The churches are remarkable for their beautifully carved woodwork, often executed or designed by Grinling Gibbons or his pupils. Pews, pulpits, with elaborate sounding boards, organ cases, altar pieces, were all elaborately carved, and a gallery usually was placed at the west end. Paintings by Sir James Thornhill and other artists adorn his churches, and the art of Strong the master mason, Jennings the carpenter, and Tijou the metal worker, all combined to beautify his structures.

Within the limits of our space it is only possible to glance at the interiors of a few of these churches, and note some of the treasures therein contained. St. Andrew's, Holborn, has its original fifteenth century tower, recarved in 1704. It is known as the "Poet's Church," on account of the singers connected with it, including a contemporary of Shakespeare, John Webster, Robert Savage, Chatterton, and Henry Neele, and can boast of such illustrious rectors as Bishops Hacket and Stillingfleet, and Dr. Sacheverel. The spire of Christ Church, Spitalfields, built by Hawksmoor, is the loftiest in London, and has a fine peal of bells. In the church there is an early work of Flaxman—the monument of Sir Robert Ladbrooke, Lord Mayor. The name of St. Clement Danes reminds us of the connection of the sea-rovers with London. Strype says that the church was so named "because Harold, a Danish King, and other Danes, were buried there, and in that churchyard." He tells how this Harold, an illegitimate son of Canute, reigned three years, and was buried at Westminster; but, afterwards, Hardicanute, the lawful son of Canute, in revenge for the injury done to his mother and brother, ordered the body to be dug up and thrown into the Thames, where it was found by a fisherman and buried in this churchyard. There seems to be no doubt that there was a colony of peaceful Danes in this neighbourhood, as testified by the Danish word "Wych" given to a street hard by, and preserved in the modern Aldwych. It was the oldest suburb of London, the village of Ældwic, and called Aldewych. Oldwych close was in existence in the time of the Stuarts. These people were allowed to reside between the Isle of Thorney, or Westminster, and Ludgate, and, having become Christians, they built a church for themselves, which was called Ecclesia Clementis Danorum.

There is a wild story of the massacre of the Danes in this church in the days of Ethelred, as recorded in Strype's Continuation of Stow, and in the Jomsvikinga Saga. As Mr. Loftie has not found space in Saxon London  to mention this colony of Danes and their doings, I venture to quote a passage from Mr. Lethaby's Pre-Conquest London, which contains some interesting allusions to these people:

"We are told that Sweyn made warfare in the land of King Ethelred, and drove him out of the land; he put Thingumannalid  in two places. The one in Lundunaborg (London) was ruled by Eilif Thorgilsson, who had sixty ships in the Temps (Thames); the other was north in Sleswik. The Thingamen made a law that no one should stay away a whole night. They gathered at the Bura Church every night when a large bell was rung, but without weapons. He who had command in the town (London) was Ædric Streona. Ulfkel Snilling ruled over the northern part of England (East Anglia). The power of the Thingamen was great. There was a fair there (in London) twice every twelve month, one about midsummer and the other about midwinter. The English thought it would be the easiest to slay the Thingamen while Cnut was young (he was ten winters old) and Sweyn dead. About Yule, waggons went into the town to the market, and they were all tented over by the treacherous advice of Ulfkel Snelling and Ethelred's sons. Thord, a man of the Thingumannalid, went out of the town to the house of his mistress, who asked him to stay, because the death was planned of all the Thingamen by Englishmen concealed in the waggons, when the Danes would go unarmed to the church. Thord went into the town and told it to Eilif. They heard the bell ringing, and when they came to the churchyard there was a great crowd who attacked them. Eilif escaped with three ships and went to Denmark. Some time after, Edmund was made King. After three winters, Cnut, Thorkel and Eric went with eight hundred ships to England. Thorkel had thirty ships, and slew Ulfkel Snilling, and married Ulfhild, his wife, daughter of King Ethelred. With Ulfkel was slain every man on sixty ships, and Cnut took Lundunaborg."

Matthew, of Westminster, also records this massacre of the Danes, and other authorities consider that the account in the Saga  is founded on fact. However that may be, the Danes undoubtedly had a colony here of their traders, merchants, and seamen, and dedicated their church to their favourite saint, St. Clement, the patron of mariners, whose constant emblem is an anchor. Nor was this the only location of the Northmen. Southwark was their fortified trading place, where they had a church dedicated to St. Olaf, the patron saint of Norway. His name remains in Tooley Street, not a very evident but certainly true derivative of St. Olaf's Street. There are three churches dedicated to St. Olave, who was none other than St. Olaf. St. Magnus, too, tells of the Northmen, who was one of their favourite saints. Going back to the church of St. Clement Danes, we notice that it was rebuilt in 1682 under the advice of Wren, the tower and steeple being added forty years later. Dr. Johnson used to attend here, and a pillar near his seat bears the inscription:

"In this pew and beside this pillar, for many years attended Divine Service, the celebrated Dr. Johnson, the philosopher, the poet, the great lexicographer, the profound moralist, and chief writer of his time. Born 1709, died 1794. In remembrance and honour of noble faculties, nobly employed, some inhabitants of the parish of St. Clement Danes have placed this slight memorial, a.d. 1851."

One of the most important city churches is St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. It is one of Wren's finest works; but the old church, destroyed by the Great Fire, had a notable history, being one of the earliest Norman buildings in the country. Stow says it was named St. Mary de Arcubus  from its being built on arches of stone, these arches forming a crypt, which still exists. The tower was a place of sanctuary, but not a very effectual one, as Longbeard, a ringleader of a riot, was forced out of his refuge by fire in 1190, and Ducket, a goldsmith, was murdered. The Bow bells are famous, and one of them was rung nightly for the closing of shops. Everyone knows the protesting rhyme of the 'prentices of the Cheap when the clerk rang the bell late, and the reassuring reply of that officer, who probably feared the blows of their staves. Lanterns hung in the arches of the spire as beacons for travellers. The bells of Bow are said to have recalled Dick Whittington, and those who have always lived in the district where their sound can be heard are deemed very ignorant folk by their country cousins. Whittington's church was St. Michael's Paternoster Royal, Thames Street, which he rebuilt, and wherein he was buried, though his body has been twice disturbed. The church was destroyed by the Great Fire, and rebuilt by Wren.

It is impossible for us to visit all the churches, each of which possesses some feature of interest, some historical association. They impart much beauty to every view of the city, and not one of them can be spared. Sometimes, in this utilitarian age, wise men tell us that we should pull down many of these ancient buildings, sell the valuable sites, and build other churches in the suburbs, where they would be more useful. Eighteen of Wren's churches have been thus destroyed, besides several of later date. The city merchants of old built their churches, and made great sacrifices in doing so, for the honour of God and the good of their fellow-men, and it is not for their descendants to pull them down. If suburban people want churches, they should imitate the example of their forefathers, and make sacrifices in order to build them. Streets, old palaces, interesting houses, are fast vanishing; the churches—at least, some of them—remain to tell the story of the ancient civic life, to point the way to higher things amid the bustling scenes of mercantile activity and commercial unrest. The readers of these Memorials will wish "strength i' th' arme" to the City Churches Preservation Society to do battle for these historic landmarks of ancient London.

[1]Cf. Cathedral Churches of Great Britain. (Dent & Co.)

[2]Cf. Mr. Philip Norman's notes on a recent lecture by Mr. Arthur Keen. Architect, December 27th, 1907.

DICKENS

Thackeray's London was practically bounded on the east by the Temple, or perhaps by the Fleet Prison, which lay a little beyond the Punch  office; it took in the Strand, Pall Mall, Piccadilly, and stretched out westward round Belgravia, Mayfair, Chiswick, and such selecter quarters of the town. But Dickens made the whole of London his province; you cannot go into any part of it but he has been there before you; if he did not at one time live there himself, some of his characters did. Go north through Somers Town and Camden Town: the homes of his boyhood were there in Bayham Street, in Little College Street, in the house that still stands at 13 Johnson Street, from which he walked daily to school at the Wellington House Academy in Hampstead Road. He lived in Cleveland Street, Fitzroy Square, and in Fitzroy Street, and whilst his father was a prisoner in the Marshalsea for debt and he himself was labelling bottles at the blacking factory in Hungerford Market, he had lodgings south of London Bridge in Lant Street, which were the originals of the lodgings he gave to Bob Sawyer in later years when he came to write Pickwick. When he was turned twenty, and working as a Parliamentary reporter in the House of Commons, and beginning to contribute his Sketches by Boz  to the Monthly Magazine, he lived at 18 Bentinck Street, Cavendish Square. For a time he had lodgings in Buckingham Street, Strand, and afterwards lodged David Copperfield in the same rooms; he put up for a short time at Fulham before his marriage at St. Luke's Church, Chelsea, in April 1836, and after a brief honeymoon returned with his wife to the chambers in Furnival's Inn that he had rented since the previous year. He had three other London houses during his more prosperous days; then he quitted the town and went to live at Gad's Hill Place, where he died in 1870. But even after he was thus settled in Kent, he was continually up and down to the office of Household Words, in Wellington Street, Strand, and for some part of almost every year he occupied a succession of furnished houses round about Hyde Park.

 

DICKENS. JOHNSON STREET. CAMDEN TOWN.

 

A few months before his marriage he had started to write Pickwick, the first monthly part of which appeared in March 1836. Before the end of next month, Seymour, the artist who was illustrating that serial, having committed suicide, Thackeray went up to the Furnival's Inn chambers with specimens of his drawings in the hope of becoming his successor, but Dickens rejected him in favour of Hablot K. Browne (“Phiz”), who also illustrated most of his subsequent books. He had published the Sketches by Boz  in two volumes, illustrated by Cruikshank, had written two dramatic pieces that were very successfully produced at the St. James's Theatre, had begun to edit Bentley's Miscellany, and was writing Oliver Twist  for it, before he left Furnival's Inn and established his small household of his wife and their first son and his wife's sister, Mary Hogarth, at 48 Doughty Street, Mecklenburgh Square.

In later years Sala, who became one of Dickens's principal contributors to Household Words, used to live in Mecklenburgh Square, and at different times Sidney Smith, Shirley Brooks, and Edmund Yates all lived in Doughty Street (Shirley Brooks was born there, at No. 52), but Doughty Street's chief glory is that for the greater part of three years Dickens was the tenant of No. 48. George Henry Lewes called to see him there, and was perturbed to find that he had nothing on his bookshelves but three-volume novels and presentation copies of books of travel; clearly he was not much of a reader, and had never been a haunter of old bookstalls. But presently Dickens came in, says Lewes, “and his sunny presence quickly dispelled all misgivings. He was then, as to the last, a delightful companion, full of sagacity as well as animal spirits; but I came away more impressed with the fulness of life and energy than with any sense of distinction.”

Mrs. Cowden Clarke, who saw him in his Doughty Street days, speaks of him as “genial, bright, lively-spirited, pleasant-toned,” and says he “entered into conversation with a grace and charm that made it feel perfectly natural to be chatting and laughing as if we had known each other from childhood.” His eyes she describes as “large, dark blue, exquisitely shaped, fringed with magnificently long and thick lashes—they now swam in liquid, limpid suffusion, when tears started into them from a sense of humour or a sense of pathos, and now darted quick flashes of fire when some generous indignation at injustice, or some high-wrought feeling of admiration at magnanimity, or some sudden emotion of interest and excitement touched him. Swift-glancing, appreciative, rapidly observant, truly superb orbits they were, worthy of the other features in his manly, handsome face. The mouth was singularly mobile, full-lipped, well-shaped, and expressive; sensitive, nay restless, in its susceptibility to impressions that swayed him, or sentiment that moved him.” Which tallies sufficiently with Carlyle's well-known description of him a few months later: “A fine little fellow, Boz, I think. Clear, blue, intelligent eyes, eyebrows that he arches amazingly; large, protrusive, rather loose mouth, a face of most extreme mobility which he shuttles about—eyebrows, eyes, mouth and all—in a very singular manner while speaking. Surmount this with a loose coil of common-coloured hair, and set it on a small, compact figure, very small, and dressed â la  D'Orsay rather than well—this is Pickwick. For the rest, a quiet, shrewd-looking little fellow, who seems to guess pretty well what he is and what others are.” Forster sketches his face at this same period with “the quickness, keenness, and practical power, the eager, restless, energetic outlook on each several feature, that seemed to tell so little of a student and writer of books, and so much of a man of action and business in the world. Light and motion flashed from every part of it.” “It was as if made of steel,” said Mrs. Carlyle; and “What a face is his to meet in a drawing-room,” wrote Leigh Hunt. “It has the life and soul in it of fifty human beings.”

Dickens's weakness, then and all his life through, was for something too dazzling and ornate in the way of personal adornment. We hear of a green overcoat with red cuffs. “His dress was florid,” says one who met him: “a satin cravat of the deepest blue relieved by embroideries, a green waistcoat with gold flowers, a dress coat with a velvet collar and satin facings, opulence of white cuff, rings in excess, made up a rather striking whole.” And there is a story of how, when an artist friend of both was presented by somebody with a too gaudy length of material, Wilkie Collins advised him to “Give it to Dickens—he'll make a waistcoat out of it!”

 

DICKENS' HOUSE. DOUGHTY STREET.

 

That jest belongs to a later year, but here you have a sufficiently vivid presentment of the man as he was when he could be seen passing in and out of the house in Doughty Street. He may have been dandified in appearance, but in all his other habits he was a hard and severely methodical worker. “His hours and days were spent by rule,” we are told. “He rose at a certain time, he retired at another, and though no precisian, it was not often that his arrangements varied. His hours of writing were between breakfast and luncheon, and when there was any work to be done no temptation was sufficiently strong to cause it to be neglected. This order and regularity followed him through the day. His mind was essentially methodical, and in his long walks, in his recreations, in his labour, he was governed by rules laid down by himself, rules well studied beforehand and rarely departed from.”

 

CHARLES DICKENS

 

His rise out of poverty and obscurity into affluence and fame makes a more wonderful story than that of how Byron woke one morning and found himself famous. For Dickens had everything against him. He was indifferently educated, had no social advantages, and no influential friends behind him. In 1835 he was an unknown young author, writing miscellaneous stories and sketches for the papers; by the end of 1836 everybody was reading and raving of and laughing over Pickwick, and he was the most talked-of novelist of the hour. “It sprang into a popularity that each part carried higher and higher,” says Forster, “until people at this time talked of nothing else, tradesmen recommended their goods by using its name, and its sale, outstripping at a bound that of all the most famous books of the century, had reached an almost fabulous number.” Judges, street boys, old and young in every class of life, devoured each month's number directly it appeared, and looked forward impatiently to the next one. Carlyle told Forster that “an archdeacon, with his own venerable lips, repeated to me the other night a strange, profane story of a solemn clergyman who had been administering ghostly consolation to a sick person; having finished, satisfactorily as he thought, and got out of the room, he heard the sick person ejaculate: ‘Well, thank God, Pickwick  will be out in ten days, any way!'”

Dickens's favourite recreation in those early years was riding, and frequently he would set out with Forster “at eleven in the morning for ‘a fifteen mile ride out, ditto in, and lunch on the road,' with a wind-up of six o'clock dinner in Doughty Street.” Other times he would send a note round to Forster, who lived at 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields, and if he could be persuaded to come, as generally he could, they would set out for a brisk walk to Hampstead and over the Heath, and have “a red-hot chop for dinner and a glass of good wine” at Jack Straw's Castle.

His daughter Mamie was born in Doughty Street, and there the first great grief of his life completely overwhelmed him for a time, when his wife's young sister, Mary Hogarth, died at the age of seventeen. There are several letters from that address in 1838 concerning his progress with Oliver Twist. In one, when he could not work, he says he is “sitting patiently at home waiting for Oliver Twist, who has not yet arrived.” In another he writes, “I worked pretty well last night—very well indeed; but although I did eleven close slips before half-past twelve I have four to write to close the chapter; and as I foolishly left them till this morning, have the steam to get up afresh.” “Hard at work still,” he writes to Forster in August 1838. “Nancy is no more. I showed what I had done to Kate last night, who is in an unspeakable ‘state '; from which and my own impression I augur well. When I have sent Sykes to the devil I must have yours.” And “No, no,” he wrote again to Forster next month, “don't, don't let us ride till to-morrow, not having yet disposed of the Jew, who is such an out-and-outer that I don't know what to make of him.” Then one evening Forster went to Doughty Street and sat in Dickens's study and talked over the last chapter of Oliver Twist  with him, and remained reading there whilst he wrote it.

From Doughty Street Dickens and “Phiz” set out together on that journey into Yorkshire to see the notorious school that was to become famous as Squeers's, and in due course there are letters from that street telling of the progress of Nicholas Nickleby. Early in 1839 the letters tell of how he is house-hunting, and in the intervals working “at racehorse speed” on Barnaby Rudge, and near the end of the year he moved to 1 Devonshire Terrace, at the corner of Marylebone Road.

The Doughty Street house remains as he left it, but 1 Devonshire Terrace has been rather considerably altered. The new residence was such a much more imposing one than the other that absurd rumours got about that he was lapsing into extravagance and living beyond his income, and “I perfectly remember,” writes Sala, “when he moved from his modest residence in Doughty Street to a much grander but still not very palatial house in Devonshire Terrace, an old gentleman calling one day upon my mother and telling her, with a grave countenance, that Dickens had pawned his plate, and had been waited upon for the last fortnight by bailiffs in livery.” It was about this time, too, that the Quarterly  made its famous prediction that in the case of work such as Dickens was doing “an ephemeral popularity will be followed by an early oblivion.” But there was no ground for any of these fears. His life was a triumphal procession; he went forward from victory to victory. At Devonshire Terrace he wrote most of Barnaby Rudge : and the prototype of Grip, Barnaby's raven, the special playmate of Dickens's children, died there; from here he went on his first visit to America, and on his return, with intervals of holiday at Broadstairs, in Cornwall, and in Italy, wrote the American NotesMartin ChuzzlewitThe ChimesThe Cricket on the HearthPictures from Italy,Dombey and Son, and commenced the writing of David Copperfield. Whilst he was here, too, he was for a brief space the first editor of the Daily News, and in March 1850 opened his Wellington Street office and started Household Words. Incidentally, he was taking an active share in a dozen or more public movements; acting as chairman at meetings and dinners, managing and playing in private theatricals, writing miscellaneous articles for his new magazine, and attending closely to its business organisation. Never was a more strenuous literary worker, or one who brought more enthusiasm to whatever he undertook.

In the autumn of 1851, in the flowing and rising tide of his prosperity, he removed to the now vanished Tavistock House, in Tavistock Square, and in the next six years, before his removal to Gad's Hill, wrote Bleak HouseHard Times, and Little Dorrit, to say nothing of the numerous short stories and articles he contributed to Household Words, and began to give those public readings from his books that were in his last decade to occupy so much of his time, add so enormously to his income and his personal popularity, and play so sinister a part in the breaking down of his health and the shortening of his career.

Writing immediately after Dickens's death, Sala said that twenty years ago the face and form of Sir Robert Peel were familiar to almost everybody who passed him in the street, and “there were as few last week who would have been unable to point out the famous novelist, with his thought-lined face, his grizzled beard, his wondrous searching eyes, his bluff presence and swinging gait as, head aloft, he strode, now through crowded streets, looking seemingly neither to the right nor the left, but of a surety looking at and into everything—now at the myriad aspects of London life, the ever-changing raree-show, the endless roundabout, the infinite kaleidoscope of wealth and pauperism, of happiness and misery, of good and evil in this Babylon—now over the pleasant meads and breezy downs which stretched round his modest Kentish demesne hard by the hoary tower of Rochester.... Who had not heard him read, and who had not seen his photographs in the shop windows? The omnibus conductors knew him, the street boys knew him; and perhaps the locality where his recognition would have been least frequent—for all that he was a member of the Athenæum Club—was Pall Mall. Elsewhere he would make his appearance in the oddest places, and in the most inclement weather: in Ratcliff Highway, on Haverstock Hill, on Camberwell Green, in Gray's Inn Lane, in the Wandsworth Road, at Hammersmith Broadway, in Norton Folgate, and at Kensal New Town.... His carriage was remarkably upright, his mien almost aggressive in its confidence—a bronzed, weatherworn, hardy man, with somewhat of a seaman's air about him.” London folks would draw aside, he continues, “as the great writer—who seemed always to be walking a match against Thought—strode on, and, looking after him, say, ‘There goes Charles Dickens!' The towering stature, the snowy locks, the glistening spectacles, the listless, slouching port, as that of a tired giant, of William Makepeace Thackeray were familiar enough likewise but, comparatively speaking, only to a select few. He belonged to Clubland, and was only to be seen sauntering there or in West End squares, or on his road to his beloved Kensington.... Thackeray in Houndsditch, Thackeray in Bethnal Green or at Camden Town, would have appeared anomalous ... but Charles Dickens, when in town, was ubiquitous.”

There are statues in London of many smaller men, of many who mean little or nothing in particular to London, but there is none to Dickens, and perhaps he needs none. Little critics may decry him, but it makes no difference, it takes nothing from his immortality. “It is fatuous,” as Trollope said of his work, “to condemn that as deficient in art which has been so full of art as to captivate all men.” And to the thousands of us who know the people and the world that he created he is still ubiquitous in London here, even though he has his place for ever, as Swinburne says, among the stars and suns that we behold not:

“Where stars and suns that we behold not burn,
Higher even than here, though highest was here thy place,
Love sees thy spirit laugh and speak and shine
With Shakespeare and the soft bright soul of Sterne,
And Fielding's kindliest might and Goldsmith's grace;
Scarce one more loved or worthier love than thine.”

When I was writing of what remains to us of the London of Shakespeare, I might have mentioned the four-century-old gateway of Lincoln's Inn, in Chancery Lane, that Ben Jonson helped to build, and close by which, at 24 Old Buildings, Cromwell's secretary, John Thurloe, lived in 1654; and although in my first chapter I gave a fairly lengthy list of famous authors and artists who were Cockneys by birth, I by no means made it so long as I could have done. Hablot K. Browne, otherwise “Phiz,” the chief of Dickens's artists, was born in Kennington, and lived for eight years, towards the close of his career, at 99 Ladbroke Grove Road; Lord Lytton, whom Tennyson unkindly described as “the padded man that wears the stays,” and who was for a time a more popular novelist than either Dickens or Thackeray, was born at 31 Baker Street, and lived in after years at 12 Grosvenor Square, and at 36 Hertford Street; Gibbon was born at Putney, and lived for some years at 7 Bentinck Street, which he said was “the best house in the world”; John Leech was born over his father's coffee-shop in Ludgate Hill, and lived when he had risen to fame at 32 Brunswick Square, and passed the last years of his life at 6 The Terrace, Kensington; and one who I confess interests me at least as much as any of these, Douglas Jerrold, was born in Greek Street, Soho, lived as a boy at Broad Court, in the same neighbourhood, and afterwards shifted about into half-a-dozen different parts of London, and died in 1857 at Kilburn Priory, on the skirts of St. John's Wood. West Lodge, his house at Lower Putney Common, still stands much as it was when he occupied it, with his mulberry tree still growing in that garden round which, one memorable summer afternoon, he and Dickens, Forster, Maclise, and Macready gave each other “backs,” and played a joyously undignified game of leapfrog. I don't know whether anybody reads Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures  now, but everybody read them and laughed over them when they were new, and Jerrold's best jokes and witticisms are much too well known to leave me an excuse for repeating any of them here. For all his bitter tongue, he was kind, generous, sensitive, afire with a fine scorn of wrong, injustice, and every variety of social humbug and snobbery. “A small delicately-formed, bent man,” is Edmund Yates's recollection of him, “with long grey hair combed back from his forehead, with grey eyes deep-set under penthouse brows, and a way, just as the inspiration seized him, of dangling a double-eyeglass which hung round his neck by a broad black ribbon.”

 

THURLOE'S LODGINGS. 24 OLD SQUARE. LINCOLN'S INN.

 

Browning, who was born at Hanover Cottage, Southampton Street, Camberwell, in 1812, lived at De Vere Gardens, and at 19 Warwick Crescent. Removing from 74 Gloucester Place in 1842, Elizabeth Barrett and her autocratic father went to 50 Wimpole Street, and calling there with a friend in 1845, Robert Browning was introduced to her. It was from and to this house that so many of those wonderful love-letters of theirs were written, and little more than a year after their first meeting, her father stubbornly refusing his consent to their union, she stole out by this sedate and sombre door one autumn morning to join her waiting lover, and they were quietly and clandestinely married at the old church round the corner in Marylebone Road—the same church in which, in the same year, Dickens, then living at Devonshire House and within sight of it, married Mr. Dombey, with Captain Cuttle looking on at the ceremony from the gallery.

At 82 Wimpole Street Wilkie Collins died; and at 67, lived Henry Hallam, the historian, and his son Arthur, the friend of Tennyson, who often visited him there, and has enshrined his memory for ever in his In Memoriam ; where, too, he pictures this house and this street:

“Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand.

A hand that can be clasped no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.”

Theodore Hook, another Cockney, was born in Charlotte Street, Bedford Square; Captain Marryat, another, in Great George Street, Westminster, and whilst he was writing the most famous of his books he lived at 8 Duke Street, St. James's, and at Sussex Lodge, in the Fulham Road. Ruskin, who, like Browning, is included in my earlier list of Cockneys, was born at 54 Hunter Street, and made his home for many years at 163 Denmark Hill, both of which houses still survive him.

 

CAPTAIN MARRYAT. DUKE STREET. ST. JAMES.

 

Benjamin Franklin lived at 7 Craven Street, Strand; before he rented a house in London after Johnson's death, Boswell had lodgings, on his annual visits to town, in Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, in Conduit Street, Regent Street, and in Old Bond Street; where Sterne dwelt before him and Gibbon after him, and at 27A, Harrison Ainsworth, later than them all; but Ainsworth's more notable residence, where he lived when he was in the full glory of his enormous popularity, is Kensal House, out in the no-longer-rural district of Kensal Green.

 

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S HOUSE. CRAVEN STREET.

 

At 19 Albert Gate, Sloane Street, lived Charles Reade, who was nearly all his life quarrelling with his critics and fighting against legal injustices with an almost ungovernable fury, and yet David Christie Murray said he was one of the four men he had met who were “distinguished by that splendid urbanity of manner which was once thought to express the acme of high breeding.... A beautiful, stately cordiality commonly marked his social manner, but he could be moved to a towering rage by an act of meanness, treachery, or oppression; and in his public correspondence he was sometimes downright vitriolic.” Anthony Trollope died at 34 Welbeck Street; and Lord Macaulay at Holly Lodge on Campden Hill. George Cruikshank lived in the queer, dull-looking little house that still remains at 263 Hampstead Road, and from that address put forth his groundless claims to being the originator of Ainsworth's novels, Jack Sheppard  and The Miser's Daughter, and Dickens's Oliver Twist. Ainsworth was still living, and strenuously denied his assertions; Dickens was dead, but there existed a letter of his about the illustrations to his book that sufficiently proved that the story was not written round Cruickshank's drawings, as the aged artist seemed to have persuaded himself it was. A greater artist than Cruickshank (and another Cockney, by the way) was born in Cumberland Market, near Regent's Park, and died in a sponging-house in Eyre Street Hill, Clerkenwell Road, in 1804. That was George Morland. Two years before his death he went with his wife and put up at the Bull Inn, at Highgate, which was kept by a former acquaintance of his. He is supposed to have utilised as a studio the large room with three bay windows that runs above the bar the full width of the building. He entertained Gainsborough and Romney and other contemporary artists there, but within a few months had had a fierce quarrel with the landlord and returned to lodge with his brother in Dean Street, Soho. He was by then showing the effects of his reckless dissipations, and looked “besotted and squalid and cadaverous; hanging cheeks and pinched nose, contracted nostrils, bleared and bloodshot eyes, swelled legs, a palsied hand, and tremulous voice bespeaking the ruin of what had once been the soundest of frames.” Drunk or sober, he worked rapidly and with unfailing mastery, but he was generally cheated by those around him of the due reward of his labours. Going on a short holiday to Brighton, he wrote giving his brother this list of what he had drunk in a single day: “Hollands gin, rum and milk—before breakfast. Coffee—for breakfast. Hollands, porter, shrub, ale, Hollands, port wine and ginger, bottled ale—these before dinner. Port wine at dinner. Porter, bottled porter, punch, porter, ale, opium and water. Port wine at supper. Gin, shrub, and rum on going to bed.” At the bottom of the list he sketched a tombstone bearing a skull and crossbones, and by way of epitaph: “Here lies a drunken dog.” And debts and duns and death in the sponging-house were the inevitable end of it.

 

CRUIKSHANK. 263 HAMPSTEAD ROAD.

 

Lady Blessington held her brilliant salon at 8 Seamore Place, Mayfair, before in 1836 she removed to the more noted Gore House, Kensington, and welcomed to her splendid drawing-rooms Byron, Lytton, Disraeli, Landor, Marryat, Dickens, Thackeray, Sydney Smith, Maclise, Hook, and all the greatest men of the day in literature, art, politics, and society, till in 1849 she was overwhelmed with financial embarrassments and fled to Paris, where she died the year after. Gore House has vanished from its place long since, and the Albert Hall more than covers the site of it. But Holland House, which was equally or more celebrated for its magnificent social gatherings in the first half of last century and earlier, still holds its ground. Addison lived there after his marriage to the Countess of Warwick in 1716, and from his bedroom there, in his last hours, sent for his dissipated stepson in order that he might see “how a Christian can die.”

 

ROBERT BROWNING

 

GEORGE MORLAND. THE “BULL INN” HIGHGATE.

 

Perhaps more interesting than either of these, from a literary standpoint, is the house of Samuel Rogers, 22 St. James's Place, overlooking the Green Park. You can scarcely open the memoirs of any man of letters of his time, but you may read some account of a breakfast or a dinner at Rogers's. “What a delightful house it is!” says Macaulay. “It looks out on the Green Park just at the most pleasant point. The furniture has been selected with a delicacy of taste quite unique.... In the drawing-room the chimney-pieces are carved by Flaxman into the most beautiful Grecian forms. The bookcase is painted by Stothard, in his very best manner, with groups from Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Boccaccio. The pictures are not numerous, but every one is excellent. The most remarkable objects in the dining-room are, I think, a cast of Pope, taken after death by Roubiliac; a noble model in terra-cotta by Michael Angelo, from which he afterwards made one of his finest statues, that of Lorenzo de Medici; and, lastly, a mahogany table on which stands an antique vase. When Chantrey dined with Rogers some time ago he took particular notice of the vase and the table on which it stands, and asked Rogers who made the table. ‘A common carpenter,' said Rogers. ‘Do you remember the making of it?' said Chantrey. ‘Certainly,' said Rogers, in some surprise; ‘I was in the room while it was finished with the chisel, and gave the workman directions about placing it.' ‘Yes,' said Chantrey, ‘I was the carpenter.'” Byron, who was a guest at Holland House and at Lady Blessington's, was a frequent guest at Rogers's table also. It was Rogers who introduced him to Miss Milbanke, the unfortunate lady who was to become his wife; and Byron seems by turns to have admired him, disliked him, and looked upon him with a sort of laughing contempt. “When Sheridan was on his deathbed,” he writes, “Rogers aided him with purse and person: this was particularly kind in Rogers, who always spoke ill of Sheridan (to me, at least); but indeed he does that of everybody. Rogers is the reverse of the line ‘The best good man with the worst-natured Muse,' being ‘The worst good man with the best-natured Muse.' His Muse being all sentiment and sago, while he himself is a venomous talker. I say ‘worst good man,' because he is (perhaps) a good man—at least he does good now and then, as well he may, to purchase himself a shilling's worth of Salvation for his Slanders. They are so little, too—small talk, and old womanny; and he is malignant too, and envious.”

 

ROGERS. ST. JAMES'S PLACE. FROM GREEN PARK.

 

Rogers had a fine head, a distinguished manner, a bland, silky way of saying the most cutting and cynical things. He was not so much a poet as a banker of a poetical temperament. His poetry will presently be forgotten, but his breakfasts and his dinners will be remembered because he lived to be well over ninety, was a very wealthy man of taste, and had the will and the means to play the generous host to some three generations of the wisest, wittiest, greatest men of his era, and several of them said brighter and better things in his dining and drawing-rooms than he ever wrote in his books. He covered such a long span of time that he could entertain Sheridan, who was born in 1751, and Dickens, who died in 1870. Many of the same glorious company had a meeting-place also until a more recent day at Bath House, Mayfair, where Lady Ashburton, the great friend of the Carlyles, held famous receptions, of which Carlyle himself and the Brookfields have left us reminiscences. And the invaluable Allingham has one or two notes about her in his Diary ; one dated 5th November 1875, in which he says Carlyle passed his house “about four to-day. I overtook him in the Fulham Road, and walked with him to Lady Ashburton's door at Knightsbridge. He said, ‘Browning in his young days wore a turn-down shirt collar with a ribbon for a necktie, and a green coat. I first met him one evening at Leigh Hunt's, a modest youth, with a good strong face and a head of dark hair. He said little, but what he said was good.'” Possibly the talk fell upon him because Browning was among the guests he was to meet that day at Lady Ashburton's.

 

BORROW'S HOUSE. HEREFORD SQUARE.

 

William Morris and Burne Jones lived and worked together at 17 Red Lion Square; Steele used to live in Bloomsbury Square, where later Disraeli and his father lived, at No. 5. George Borrow lived at 23 Hereford Square, South Kensington. Berkeley Square has a peculiar attraction for me, less because Horace Walpole had his home at 42, than because Colley Cibber dwelt as a very old man at No. 20. In the same way I am not so much drawn to Gower Street by the fact that in a greatly altered house there Darwin used to live, as I am to that shabby Percy Street, Tottenham Court Road, where Albert Smith had a house at which Sala once visited him. Walpole and Darwin are, of course, incomparably greater men than Cibber and Albert Smith, but these last two have a curious fascination for me. I read Smith's Christopher Tadpole  and The Scattergood Family  when I was a boy, and his figure flits elusively in the background of Dickens's reputation, wrapped in a very characteristic mid-Victorian bohemianism, and, without precisely knowing why, I have taken a sort of liking to him. Sala says he was a kind, cheery little man, who when he was atwork at home wore a blue blouse. “I recall him,” he says, “as a sturdy-looking, broad-shouldered, short-necked man, with grey eyes and flowing locks of light brown, and large side-whiskers; later in life he wore a beard. His voice was a high treble.” His study in Percy Street was littered always with French novels, dolls, pipes, cheap jewellery, cakes of soap made in the image of fruit, minature Swiss châlets, fancy costumes, and such a miscellany of odds and ends that it had the appearance of an old curiosity shop. As for Cibber, I began by feeling contempt for him, because of the scorn Pope pours on him in The Dunciad, and the character for dulness that was imposed upon him by that savage satirist and his host of imitators. But when I read some of Cibber's comedies (such as The Careless Husband, and Love Makes a Man ) I found them amusing and clever in their fashion, certainly not dull, and when I dropped one day into the National Portrait Gallery and saw that coloured bust of him under a glass case and leering through the glass eyes that have been fitted into his head—I succumbed, and acquired a sneaking regard for the gay old coxcomb that is not yet beginning to cool. You cannot read his plays and his delightful Apology  for his Life without getting interested in him; and then if you go and look at that bust you will feel that you know the sly, witty, shrewd, ruddy-visaged, not over clean, furtive, leery old rascal as intimately as if you had been acquainted with him in the flesh.

But if one set out to write of the homes and haunts of these minor celebrities this book would be endless; moreover, many amongst them that have some peculiar attraction for me might have no interest for any one else; and many that for special reasons mean a great deal to you might mean nothing at all to me. So, as the wiser course, I have, in the main, limited my survey to the houses of men and women who are considerable enough to be known, more or less, by every one who has even a nodding acquaintance with literature, and to that extent my chronicle is at an end.

ROUND ABOUT SOHO AGAIN

As a general thing the literary man is not to be found living in the aristocratic quarters of the town until after he has done his best work and has begun to make money out of his inferior books. I don't think any man of letters has ever rented a house in Park Lane, except Disraeli, and he went there as a successful politician; such glorious thoroughfares are reserved to more respectable stock-brokers and company-promoters, whilst those whom the gods love are driven to seek refuge in the cheap and shabby houses of meaner streets. Half the squalid squares and byways of Soho are in reality vestibules and aisles of the Temple of Fame. Blake, as we have seen in a former chapter, lived in Poland Street; and in the same street lived Flaxman, and, later, Shelley. Dryden lived in Gerrard Street, a century before Burke made his home there; Hazlitt died in Frith Street; Mulready the painter had his studio in Broad Street; and the sculptor, James Northcote, resided for over thirty years in Argyll Place. When Madame de Stael was in England she stayed at 30 (now 29) Argyll Street, and Byron speaks of visiting her there. I have already referred to Sir James Thornhill's house in Dean Street; near by, in Soho Square, lived the actor, Kemble; and this square has pathetic memories of De Quincey, who lodged for a time, under strange circumstances, at the Greek Street corner of it.

Left an orphan to the care of guardians who seem to have treated him with some harshness, De Quincey ran away from the Manchester Grammar School in 1802, when he was only seventeen, and after wandering through Wales made his way to London. Here for two months he was houseless, and seldom slept under a roof, and for upwards of sixteen weeks suffered “the physical anguish of hunger in various degrees of intensity.” He tells you in his Confessions  how he used to pace “the never-ending terraces” of Oxford Street, and at night sleep on some doorstep, and dream, “and wake to the captivity of hunger.” In Oxford Street he fell in with that most innocent and tender-hearted of street-walkers, Ann, whose surname he never knew, and to whose compassion and charity he always felt that he owed his life: “For many weeks I had walked at nights with this poor friendless girl up and down Oxford Street, or had rested with her on steps and under the shelter of porticoes. She could not be so old as myself; she told me, indeed, that she had not completed her sixteenth year.... One night when we were pacing slowly along Oxford Street, and after a day when I had felt more than usually ill and faint, I requested her to turn off with me into Soho Square. Thither we went, and we sat down on the steps of a house which to this hour I never pass without a pang of grief and an inner act of homage to the spirit of that unhappy girl, in memory of the noble action which she there performed. Suddenly, as we sate, I grew much worse. I had been leaning my head against her bosom, and all at once I sank from her arms and fell backwards on the steps.” He was so utterly exhausted that he felt he must have died, but with a cry of terror she ran off into Oxford Street and returned with port wine and spices which she had paid for out of her own pocket, at a time when “she had scarcely the wherewithal to purchase the bare necessaries of life;” and this timely stimulant served to restore him.

By-and-by, meeting a friend who lent him ten pounds, he travelled down to Windsor to see if he could get a certain friend of his family there to assist him; but before going he paid Ann something of his debt to her, and arranged that three nights from then, and every night after until they should meet, she would be at the corner of Titchfield Street, Soho. On his return to London he was at the appointed place night after night, but Ann never appeared, and though he inquired everywhere and searched the neighbourhood for her he was never able to see or hear of her again.

Earlier than this, however, and before he had succeeded in borrowing that ten pounds, the coming on of a bitterly inclement winter drove him to seek a wretched lodging at 61 (then 38) Greek Street, Soho Square. The house was a dirty, neglected, cheerless place, tenanted by a disreputable attorney named Brunell-Brown, who had a curious clerk named Pyment, and only came and went to and from his office by stealth because he was deep in debts and continually dodging the bailiffs. A few weeks of lodging miserably here nearly exhausted the little cash De Quincey had brought to London with him, and he had to give up his room. But he explained his position frankly to Brunell-Brown, and this kindly, reckless rascal, who had a genuine knowledge and love of literature, and was interested in the young lodger who could talk to him intelligently on such matters, readily gave him permission to come to the house nightly and sleep gratis in one of its empty rooms, and allowed him, moreover, to eat the scraps from his breakfast-table.

The house had an unoccupied look, especially of nights, when the lawyer himself was usually absent. “There was no household or establishment in it; nor any furniture, indeed, except a table and a few chairs. But I found, on taking possession of my new quarters, that the house already contained one single inmate, a poor friendless child, apparently ten years old; but she seemed hunger-bitten, and sufferings of that sort often make children look older than they are. From this forlorn child I learned that she had lived and slept there for some time before I came; and great joy the poor creature expressed when she found that I was in future to be her companion through the hours of darkness. The house was large, and from the want of furniture the noise of the rats made a prodigious echoing on the spacious staircase and hall; and amidst the real fleshly ills of cold and, I fear, hunger, the forsaken child had found leisure to suffer still more (it appeared) from the self-created one of ghosts. I promised her protection against all ghosts whatsoever, but, alas! I could offer her no other assistance. We lay upon the floor, with a bundle of cursed law papers for a pillow, but no other covering than a sort of large horseman's cloak; afterwards, however, we discovered in a garret an old sofa-cover, a small piece of rug, and some fragments of other articles, which added a little to our warmth. The poor child crept close to me for warmth and for security against her ghostly enemies. When I was not more than usually ill I took her into my arms, so that in general she was tolerably warm, and often slept when I could not....

 

DE QUINCEY'S HOUSE. SOHO.

 

“Meantime, the master of the house sometimes came in upon us suddenly, and very early; sometimes not till ten o'clock; sometimes not at all. He was in constant fear of bailiffs. Improving on the plan of Cromwell, every night he slept in a different quarter of London; and I observed that he never failed to examine through a private window the appearance of those who knocked at the door before he would allow it to be opened. He breakfasted alone; indeed, his tea equipage would hardly have admitted of his hazarding an invitation to a second person, any more than the quantity of esculent matériel, which for the most part was little more than a roll or a few biscuits which he had bought on his road from the place where he had slept. During his breakfast I generally contrived a reason for lounging in, and with an air of as much indifference as I could assume, took up such fragments as he had left; sometimes, indeed, there were none at all.... As to the poor child, she was never admitted into his study (if I may give that name to his chief depository of parchments, law writings, &c.); that room was to her the Bluebeard room of the house, being regularly locked on his departure to dinner, about six o'clock, which usually was his final departure for the night. Whether the child were an illegitimate daughter of Mr. Brunell-Brown, or only a servant, I could not ascertain; she did not herself know; but certainly she was treated altogether as a menial servant. No sooner did Mr. Brunell-Brown make his appearance than she went below stairs, brushed his shoes, coat, &c.; and, except when she was summoned to run an errand, she never emerged from the dismal Tartarus of the kitchen, &c. to the upper air until my welcome knock at night called up her little trembling footsteps to the front door. Of her life during the daytime, however, I knew little but what I gathered from her own account at night, for as soon as the hours of business commenced I saw that my absence would be acceptable, and in general, therefore, I went off and sate in the parks or elsewhere until nightfall.”

 

SHELLEY'S HOUSE. POLAND STREET W.

 

I have always thought that in all this there is something oddly reminiscent of Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness; the poor, half-starved little household drudge fits her part almost exactly, but De Quincey makes but a depressed and dismal Dick Swiveller; and Mr. Brunell-Brown seems to have been a lower type of the rascally lawyer than Sampson Brass was; but rascal as he was, one warms to him because of his kindness to his forlorn guest. “I must forget everything but that towards me,” says De Quincey, “he was obliging and, to the extent of his power, generous.” He goes on to say that in after years, whenever he was in London, he never failed to visit that house in Greek Street, and “about ten o'clock this very night, August 15, 1821—being my birthday—I turned aside from my evening walk down Oxford Street, purposely to take a glance at it; it is now occupied by a respectable family, and by the lights in the front drawing-room I observed a domestic party assembled, perhaps at tea, and apparently cheerful and gay. Marvellous contrast, in my eyes, to the darkness, cold, silence and desolation of that same house eighteen years ago, when its nightly occupants were one famishing scholar and a neglected child. Her, by-the-by, in after years I vainly endeavoured to trace. Apart from her situation, she was not what would be called an interesting child; she was neither pretty nor quick in understanding, nor remarkably pleasing in manners.”

 

THOMAS DE QUINCEY

 

His London privations ended with a reconciliation between himself and his guardians, and he was sent to Oxford—his quarrel with them being that they would not allow him to go there.

De Quincey quitted Soho to go to Oxford, and Shelley, when he was expelled from Oxford in 1811, came to Soho. He travelled up to London on the coach with his friend Hogg. His cousin and sometime schoolfellow, Medwin, relates how before dawn on a March morning Shelley and Hogg knocked at his door in Garden Court, Temple, and he heard Shelley's cracked voice cry, in his well-known pipe, “Medwin, let me in. I am expelled,” and after a loud sort of half-hysterical laugh repeat, “I am expelled,” and add “for atheism.” After breakfast they went out to look for lodgings, and, says Hogg, “never was a young beauty so capricious, so hard to please” as Shelley; but the name of Poland Street attracted him because it suggested recollections of Thaddeus of Warsaw and freedom, and he declared “we must lodge here, should we sleep on the step of a door.” A bill advertising lodgings to let hung in the window of No. 15, so they knocked and entered and inspected them—“a quiet sitting-room, its walls papered with trellised vine-leaves and clustering grapes,” with a similarly decorated bedroom opening out of it, and Shelley whispered, “We must stay here for ever.”

“For ever” dwindled to something less than a year; but here for that time Shelley lived and resumed his interrupted studies, as far as might be, and was secretly supported by his sisters, who sent their pocket-money round to him by the hand of their schoolfellow, Harriett Westbrook, daughter of the retired tavern-keeper, John Westbrook, who was living near Park Lane, at 23 Chapel Street (now Aldford Street).

In April 1811 Shelley's father wrote insisting that he should break off all relations with Hogg and place himself under a tutor of his father's selection, and Shelley replied, from his Poland Street lodgings:—

My dear Father ,—As you do me the honour of requesting to hear the determination of my mind, as the basis of your future actions, I feel it my duty, although it gives me pain to wound ‘the sense of duty to your own character, to that of your family, and feelings as a Christian,' decidedly to refuse my assent to both the proposals in your letter, and to affirm that similar refusals will always be the fate of similar requests. With many thanks for your great kindness,—I remain your affectionate, dutiful son,

Percy B. Shelley.”

His father presently relented so far as to make him an allowance of two hundred pounds a year. One evening in August, having arranged a hasty elopement with Harriett Westbrook, Shelley walked from Poland Street to a small coffee-house in Mount Street, and as Dr. Dowden sets forth in his Life of the poet, dispatched a letter thence to Harriett, her father's house in Aldford Street being close handy, telling her at what hour he would have a hackney coach waiting for her at the door of the coffee-house. At the appointed time the coach was there in readiness, and a little behind time “Harriett was seen tripping round the corner from Chapel Street, and the coach wheels rattled towards the City inn from which the northern mails departed.”

 

SHELLEY. MARCHMONT STREET.

 

They travelled post-haste to the North, and were married in Edinburgh; and in another three years the deserted Harriett had ended her life in the Serpentine, and Shelley had gone off with Mary Godwin. Meanwhile, however, returning to London after his marriage to Harriett, Shelley stayed for a few days at the house of his father-in-law, and then at Cooke's Hotel, in Albemarle Street. On another occasion he lodged for a short time at a house still standing in Marchmont Street (No. 26), a drab and dingy thoroughfare in the neighbourhood of Russell Square.

Hazlitt was a Soho resident for no longer than about six months. In 1830 he came from his lodgings in Bouverie Street to occupy rooms at No. 6 Frith Street. He was then already failing in health, separated from his wife, harassed financially through the failure of his publishers, altogether broken and dispirited. Much disappointment, the thwarting of many of his highest personal ambitions, had soured and embittered him. Haydon calls him a “singular mixture of friend and fiend, radical and critic, metaphysician, poet and painter, on whose word no one could rely, on whose heart no one could calculate.” A critic of genius, a brilliant essayist; with not so great a heart as Lamb's but a finer intellect; he has never to this day received his full meed of recognition. He moves in spirit among the immortals as apart and unsociable as he moved among them in the body. “We are told,” wrote P. G. Patmore, “that on the summit of one of those columns which form the magnificent ruins of Hadrian's Temple, in the plain of Athens, there used to dwell a hermit who scarcely ever descended from this strangely-chosen abode, owing his scanty food and support to the mingled admiration and curiosity of the peasants who inhabited the plain below. Something like this was the position of William Hazlitt. Self-banished from the social world, no less by the violence of his own passions than by those petty regards of custom and society which could not or would not tolerate the trifling aberrations from external form and usage engendered by a mind like his, ... he became, as regarded himself, personally heedless of all things but the immediate gratification of his momentary wishes, careless of personal character, indifferent to literary fame, forgetful of the past, reckless of the future, and yet so exquisitely alive to the claims and the virtues of all these that the abandonment of his birthright in every one of them opened a separate canker in his heart, and made his life a living emblem of the early death which it foretokened.”

Patmore, too, has given a good sketch of his personal appearance. “The forehead,” he says, “was magnificent; the nose precisely that which physiognomists have assigned as evidence of a fine and highly cultivated taste; though there was a peculiar character about the nostrils like that observable in those of a fiery and unruly horse. His eyes were not good. They were never brilliant, and there was a furtive and at times a sinister look about them as they glanced suspiciously from under their overhanging brows.” Other contemporaries have described him as a grave man, diffident, almost awkward in manner, of middle size, and with eager, expressive eyes. S. C. Hall considered him mean-looking and unprepossessing; but though Talfourd speaks of him as slouching, awkward, and neglectful in his dress, he credits him with “a handsome, eager countenance, worn by sickness and thought.”

 

HAZLITT'S HOUSE. FRITH STREET.

 

But he was nearing the end of it all when he came to Frith Street. In August he was attacked with a violent sort of cholera, and never rallied from it. What was probably his last essay, one on “The Sick Chamber,” appeared that same month in the New Monthly, picturing his own invalid condition and touching gratefully on the consolation and enjoyment he could still derive from books. Nearing the close, he begged that his mother might be sent for, but she was an old lady of eighty-four living in Devonshire and was unable to go to him. “He died so quietly,” in the words of his grandson, “that his son, who was sitting by his bedside, did not know that he was gone till the vital breath had been extinct a moment or two. His last words were, ‘Well, I've had a happy life.'” The same authority adds that he found the following memorandum, in the handwriting of his grandmother: “Saturday, 18th September 1830, at about half-past four in the afternoon, died at his lodgings, No. 6 Frith Street, Soho, William Hazlitt, aged fifty-two years five months and eight days. Mr. Lamb, Mr. White, Mr. Hersey, and his own son were with him at the time.”

He was buried within a minute's walk of his house, in the churchyard of St. Anne's, Soho, and his tombstone removed from its first position, stands back against the wall of the church: the stone originally bore a curious, somewhat militant inscription, but this has recently been obliterated, and replaced by one that offers nothing but his name and a record of the dates of his birth and death.

THACKERAY

No other literary Londoner has taken root as Carlyle did in Cheyne Row and remained for nearly half a century without once changing his address. Thackeray shifted about from place to place nearly as much as most of them. He went to school at the Charterhouse, and for a year or two had lodgings over a shop in Wilderness Row, Clerkenwell; in the first years after his marriage he lived in Albion Street; he had chambers in the Temple, at Hare Court, in Crown Office Row, and at Brick Court. The Paris Sketch Book was written whilst he was living at 13 Great Coram Street, in 1840, and it was there that his wife began to suffer from the sad mental disorder that was presently to take her from him for the rest of his days. In August 1846 he gave up his lodgings in St. James's Chambers, and drew his broken home life together again at 16 Young Street, Kensington. “I am beginning to count the days now till you come,” he wrote to his mother, with whom his two little daughters were staying in Paris; “and I have got the rooms all ready in the rough, all but a couple of bedsteads, and a few etceteras, which fall into their place in a day or two. As usual, I am full of business and racket, working every day, and yet not advancing somehow.” He was industriously turning out drawings and jokes and articles and verses for Punch  and Fraser's Magazine, and hard at work on the great novel that was to make him famous—Vanity Fair.

 

THE CHARTERHOUSE. FROM THE SQUARE.

 

“It was not till late in the autumn that we came to live with my father in Kensington,” writes Lady Ritchie, in one of her delightful prefaces to the Centenary Edition of Thackeray's works. “We had been at Paris with our grandparents—while he was at work in London. It was a dark, wintry evening. The fires were lighted, the servants were engaged, Eliza—what family would be complete without its Eliza?—was in waiting to show us our rooms. He was away; he had not expected us so early. We saw the drawing-room, the empty study; there was the feeling of London—London smelt of tobacco, we thought; we stared out through the uncurtained windows at the dark garden behind; and then, climbing the stairs, we looked in at his bedroom door, and came to our own rooms above it.... Once more, after his first happy married years, my father had a home and a family—if a house, two young children, three servants, and a little black cat can be called a family. My grandmother, who had brought us over to England, returned to her husband in Paris; but her mother, an old lady wrapped in Indian shawls, presently came to live with us, and divided her time between Kensington and the Champs Elysees until 1848, when she died at Paris.”

Thackeray's first name for Vanity Fair  was Pencil Sketches of English Society. He offered the opening chapters of it under that title to Colburn for his New Monthly Magazine. Thereafter he seems to have reshaped the novel and renamed it, and even then had difficulty to find a publisher. At length, Messrs. Bradbury & Evans accepted it, and it was arranged that it should be published after the manner that Dickens had already rendered popular—in monthly parts; and the first part duly appeared on the 1st January 1847, in the familiar yellow wrappers that served to distinguish Thackeray's serials from the green-covered serials of Dickens. But the sales of the first half-dozen numbers were by no means satisfactory.

“I still remember,” writes Lady Ritchie, “going along Kensington Gardens with my sister and our nursemaid, carrying a parcel of yellow numbers which had been given us to take to some friend who lived across the Park; and as we walked along, somewhere near the gates of the gardens we met my father, who asked us what we were carrying. Then somehow he seemed vexed and troubled, told us not to go on, and to take the parcel home. Then he changed his mind, saying that if his grandmother wished it, the books had best be conveyed; but we guessed, as children do, that something was seriously amiss. The sale of Vanity Fair  was so small that it was a question at the time whether its publication should not be discontinued altogether.”

 

THACKERAY'S HOUSE. KENSINGTON.

 

At that critical juncture he published Mrs. Perkins's Ball, which caught on at once, and this and a favourable review in the Edinburgh  are supposed to have sent the public after the novel, for the sales of Vanity Fair rapidly increased, and the monthly numbers were soon selling briskly enough to satisfy even the publishers, and so in his thirty-seventh year Thackeray found himself famous. James Hannay first saw him when the book was still unfinished but its success assured. He says that Thackeray pointed out to him the house in Russell Square “where the imaginary Sedleys lived,” and that when he congratulated him on that scene in Vanity Fair  in which Becky Sharp cannot help feeling proud of her husband whilst he is giving Lord Steyne the thrashing that must ruin all her own chances, Thackeray answered frankly, “Well, when I wrote that sentence I slapped my fist on the table and said, ‘That is a touch of genius!'” Which reminds one of the story told by Ticknor Fields of how, when he was making a pilgrimage around London with Thackeray in later years, and they paused outside 16 Young Street, which was no longer his home, the novelist cried with a melodramatic gesture, “Go down on your knees, you rogue, for here Vanity Fair  was penned, and I will go down with you, for I have a high opinion of that little production myself!”

His letters of 1847 and the early half of 1848 are full of references to the strenuous toil with which he is writing his monthly instalments of Vanity Fair, and in one of them, to Edward Fitzgerald, he mentions that he is giving a party: “Mrs. Dickens and Miss Hogarth made me give it, and I am in a great fright.” Perhaps that was the famous party to which Charlotte Brontë, Carlyle and his wife, and other of his great contemporaries came, and things went wrong, and he became so uncomfortable that he fairly bolted from his guests, and went to spend the rest of the evening at the Garrick Club.

Pendennis  was written at the Young Street house, and Thackeray put a good deal of himself into that hero of his. Pen had chambers at Lamb Building, in the Temple, and there is some likeness between his early journalistic experiences and Thackeray's own. The opening chapters of Pendennis, though, were written at Spa. Thackeray had wanted to get away to some seaside place where he could set to work on his new book, and had asked his mother, who was going to Brighton, if she could not get a house for £60 that would have three spare rooms in it for him. “As for the dignity, I don't believe it matters a pinch of snuff. Tom Carlyle lives in perfect dignity in a little £40 house at Chelsea, with a snuffy Scotch maid to open the door, and the best company in England ringing at it. It is only the second or third chop great folks who care about show.”

In Pendennis  there is an allusion to Catherine Hayes, the dreadful heroine of Thackeray's Catherine, that had been published a few years before, and a hot-tempered young Irishman, believing the reference was to Miss Catherine Hayes, the Irish vocalist, chivalrously came over to England, took lodgings opposite Thackeray's house in Young Street, and sent him a warning letter that he was on the watch for him to come out of doors, and intended to administer public chastisement by way of avenging Miss Hayes's injured honour. After getting through his morning's work, Thackeray felt the position was intolerable, so he walked straightway out across the road, knocked at the opposite door, and boldly bearded the lion in his den. The young Irishman was disposed to bluster and be obstinate, but Thackeray explained matters, calmed him, convinced him that he had made a mistake, parted from him amicably, and had the satisfaction of seeing the young fire-eater come forth on his way back home that evening.

 

W. M. THACKERAY

 

Writing of Pendennis, Lady Ritchie says, “I can remember the morning Helen died. My father was in his study in Young Street, sitting at the table at which he wrote. It stood in the middle of the room, and he used to sit facing the door. I was going into the room, but he motioned me away. An hour afterwards he came into our schoolroom, half laughing and half ashamed, and said to us, ‘I do not know what James can have thought of me when he came in with the tax-gatherer just after you left and found me blubbering over Helen Pendennis's death.'”

At Young Street, Thackeray wrote also his Lectures on the English Humorists, and having delivered them with gratifying success at Willis's Rooms, he journeyed to America in 1852, and was even more successful with them there. Meanwhile, he had written Esmond, and it was published in three volumes just before he left England. “Thackeray I saw for ten minutes,” Fitzgerald wrote to Frederick Tennyson concerning a flying visit he had paid to London; “he was just in the agony of finishing a novel, which has arisen out of the reading necessary for his lectures, and relates to those times—of Queen Anne, I mean. He will get £1000 for his novel; he was wanting to finish it and rush off to the Continent to shake off the fumes of it.” His two daughters, both now in their teens, were sent out to join their grandparents before he sailed for the States, and in a letter to Anne (Lady Ritchie) he explains his motive in crossing the Atlantic: “I must and will go to America, not because I want to, but because it is right I should secure some money against my death for your poor mother and you two girls.”

There are several drawings made by Thackeray in those Young Street days of his daughters and himself, and one of his study at breakfast time, and here is a word-picture of the study given by Lady Ritchie in her preface to Esmond : “The vine shaded the two windows, which looked out upon the bit of garden and the medlar-tree, and the Spanish jasmines, of which the yellow flowers scented our old brick walls. I can remember the tortoise belonging to the boys next door crawling along the top of the wall where they had set it, and making its way between the jasmine sprigs.... Our garden was not tidy (though on one grand occasion a man came to mow the grass), but it was full of sweet things.... Lady Duff Gordon came to stay with us once (it was on that occasion that the grass was mowed), and she afterwards sent us some doves, which used to hang high up in a wicker cage from the windows of the schoolroom. The schoolroom was over my father's bedroom, and his bedroom was over the study where he used to write, and they all looked to the garden and the sunsets.”

On his return from the American lecturing, in 1853, when he had already made a beginning of The Newcomes, he gave up the Young Street house and moved to 36 Onslow Square, South Kensington (or Brompton, as it was called at that period); and during the seven years of his residence there he finished The Newcomes, wrote The Four GeorgesThe Virginians, many of the Roundabout Papers, began the writing of Philip, and founded and entered upon his duties as editor of the Cornhill Magazine. The front room on the second floor was his study.

 

LAMB BUILDING. TEMPLE. FROM THE CLOISTERS.

 

It was whilst Thackeray was living here that the quarrel occurred between him and Edmund Yates, who had contributed a smart personal article to Town Talk, on the 12th June 1858, in the course of which he wrote: “Mr. Thackeray is forty-six years old, though from the silvery whiteness of his hair he appears somewhat older. He is very tall, standing upwards of six feet two inches; and as he walks erect his height makes him conspicuous in every assembly. His face is bloodless, and not particularly expressive, but remarkable for the fracture of the bridge of the nose, the result of an accident in youth. He wears a small grey whisker, but otherwise is clean shaven. No one meeting him could fail to recognise in him a gentleman; his bearing is cold and uninviting, his style of conversation either openly cynical, or affectedly good-natured and benevolent; his bonhomie  is forced, his wit biting, his pride easily touched—but his appearance is invariably that of the cool, suave, well-bred gentleman who, whatever may be rankling within, suffers no surface display of his emotion.” He went on to discuss Thackeray's work, and said unjustly of his lectures that in this country he flattered the aristocracy and in America he attacked it, the attacks being contained in The Four Georges, which “have been dead failures in England, though as literary compositions they are most excellent. Our own opinion is that his success is on the wane; his writings never were understood or appreciated even by the middle classes; the aristocracy have been alienated by his American onslaught on their body, and the educated and refined are not sufficiently numerous to constitute an audience; moreover, there is a want of heart in all he writes which is not to be balanced by the most brilliant sarcasm.”

The description of Thackeray's personal appearance here is perhaps rather impertinently frank, but it is clever and pictorially good; for the rest—we who know now what a generous, kindly, almost too sentimentally tender heart throbbed within that husk of cynicism and sarcasm in which he protectively enfolded it, know that Yates was writing of what he did not understand. Unfortunately, however, Thackeray took him seriously, and wrote a letter of dignified but angry protest to him, especially against the imputation of insincerity when he spoke good-naturedly in private. “Had your remarks been written by a person unknown to me, I should have noticed them no more than other calumnies; but as we have shaken hands more than once and met hitherto on friendly terms, I am obliged to take notice of articles which I consider to be not offensive and unfriendly merely, but slanderous and untrue. We meet at a club where, before you were born, I believe, I and other gentlemen have been in the habit of talking without any idea that our conversation would supply paragraphs for professional vendors of ‘Literary Talk'; and I don't remember that out of the club I have ever exchanged six words with you.”

Yates replied, and “rather than have further correspondence with a writer of that character,” Thackeray put the letters before the committee of the Garrick Club, asking them to decide whether the publication of such an article as Yates had written was not intolerable in a society of gentlemen and fatal to the comfort of the club. The committee resolved that Yates must either apologise or resign his membership. Then Dickens, thinking the committee were exceeding their powers, intervened on Yates's behalf; wrote to Thackeray in a conciliatory strain, and asked if any conference could be held between himself, as representing Yates, and some friend who should represent Thackeray, with a view to arriving at a friendly settlement of the unpleasantness. This apparently well-intentioned interference annoyed Thackeray; he curtly replied that he preferred to leave his interests in the hands of the club committee, and as a result he and Dickens were bitterly estranged. That the friendship between two such men should have been broken by such a petty incident was deplorable enough, but happily, only a few days before Thackeray's death, they chanced to meet in the lobby of the Athenæum, and by a mutual impulse each offered his hand to the other, and the breach was healed.

In 1862 Thackeray made his last change of address, and went to No. 2 Palace Green, Kensington, a large and handsome house that he had built for himself. Some of his friends thought that in building it he had spent his money recklessly, but he did it in pursuance of the desire, that crops up so frequently in his correspondence, to make some provision for the future of his children; and when, after his death, it was sold for £2000 more than it had cost him, he was sufficiently justified. It was in this house that he finished Philip, and, having retired from the editing of the Cornhill, began to write Denis Duval, but died on Christmas Eve 1863, leaving it little more than well begun. When he was writing Pendennis  he had been near death's door, and ever since he had suffered from attacks of sickness almost every month. He was not well when his valet left him at eleven on the night of the 23rd December; about midnight his mother, whose bedroom was immediately over his, heard him walking about his room; at nine next morning, when his valet went in with his coffee, he saw him “lying on his back quite still, with his arms spread over the coverlet, but he took no notice, as he was accustomed to see his master thus after one of his attacks.” Returning later, and finding the coffee untouched on the table beside the bed, he felt a sudden apprehension, and was horrified to discover that Thackeray was dead.

Yates has told how the rumour of his death ran through the clubs and was soon all about the town, and of how, wherever it went, it left a cloud over everything that Christmas Eve; and I have just turned up one of my old Cornhill  volumes to read again what Dickens and Trollope wrote of him in the number for February 1864. “I saw him first,” says Dickens, “nearly twenty-eight years ago, when he proposed to be the illustrator of my earliest book. I saw him last, shortly before Christmas, at the Athenæum Club, when he told me that he had been in bed three days—that after these attacks he was troubled with cold shiverings, ‘which quite took the power of work out of him'—and that he had it in his mind to try a new remedy, which he laughingly described. He was very cheerful, and looked very bright. In the night of that day week, he died.”Dickens goes on to give little instances of his kindness, of his great and good nature; and then describes how he was found lying dead. “He was only in his fifty-third year; so young a man that the mother who blessed him in his first sleep blessed him in his last.” And says Trollope, no one is thinking just then of the greatness of his work—“The fine grey head, the dear face with its gentle smile, the sweet, manly voice which we knew so well, with its few words of kindest greeting; the gait and manner, the personal presence of him whom it so delighted us to encounter in our casual comings and goings about the town—it is of these things, and of these things lost for ever, that we are now thinking. We think of them as treasures which are not only lost, but which can never be replaced. He who knew Thackeray will have a vacancy in his heart's inmost casket which must remain vacant till he dies. One loved him almost as one loves a woman, tenderly and with thoughtfulness—thinking of him when away from him as a source of joy which cannot be analysed, but is full of comfort. One who loved him, loved him thus because his heart was tender, as is the heart of a woman.”

HOGARTH

Before he took up residence at the Twickenham villa, Pope lived for some time with his father in one of the houses of Mawson's Buildings (now Mawson Row), Chiswick. So far it has been impossible to decide which of these five red-brick houses is the one that was theirs, for the only evidence of their tenancy consists of certain letters preserved at the British Museum, which are addressed to “Alexr. Pope, Esquire, Mawson's Buildings, in Chiswick,” and on the backs of these are written portions of the original drafts of Pope's translation of the Iliad. James Ralph, the unfortunate poetaster whom Pope satirised in his Dunciad, was also a native of Chiswick, and lies buried in the parish churchyard. One other link Pope has with Chiswick—he wrote a rather poor epigram on Thomas Wood, who resided there, and who seems to have been connected with the Church, for according to the poet—

“Tom Wood of Chiswick, deep divine,
To painter Kent gave all his coin;
'Tis the first coin, I'm bold to say,
That ever churchman gave away.”

This Kent, I take it, was the man of the same name who likewise lived at Chiswick in Pope's day, and wasmore notable as a landscape gardener than as a painter.

 

POPE. MAWSON'S ROW CHISWICK.

 

But, to say nothing of William Morris's more recent association with the district, the most interesting house in Chiswick is Hogarth's. It is a red-brick villa of the Queen Anne style, with a quaint, overhanging bay window, and stands in a large, walled garden, not far from the parish church. For many years this was Hogarth's summer residence—his “villakin,” as he called it. His workshop, or studio, that used to be at the foot of the garden, has been demolished; otherwise the house remains very much as it was when he occupied it.

Hogarth was essentially a town man; he was almost, if not quite, as good a Londoner as Lamb. He was born in Bartholomew Close, West Smithfield, that storied place where Milton had lived before, and Washington Irving went to live after, him; and he spent nearly all his life in the neighbourhood of Leicester Square. He was rarely absent from London at all, and never for long; even when he was supposed to be passing his summers at his Chiswick villa, he made frequent excursions into town, and would put up for a few days at his house in Leicester Square—or Leicester Fields, as it then was.

In 1712 Hogarth went to serve a six years' apprenticeship to Ellis Gamble, a silver-plate engraver, in Cranbourne Alley (now Cranbourne Street), and, on the death of his father in 1718, he started business for himself as an engraver in what had been his father's house in Long Lane, West Smithfield, and later removed to the corner of Cranbourne Alley, leaving his mother with his two sisters, who had opened shop as mercers, at the old Long Lane address. He engraved for them a shop card, duly setting forth that “Mary and Ann Hogarth, from the old Frock Shop, the corner of the Long Wall, facing the Cloysters, Removed to ye King's Arms joining to ye Little Britain Gate, near Long Walk, Sells ye best and most Fashionable Ready Made Frocks, Sutes of Fustian, Ticken, and Holland, Stript Dimity and Flanel Waistcoats, blue and canvas Frocks, and bluecoat Boys' Dra rs., Likewise Fustians, Tickens, Hollands, white stript Dimitys, white and stript Flanels in ye piece, by Wholesale or Retale at Reasonable Rates.”

Hogarth was very self-satisfied and rather illiterate; his spelling and his grammar—as in this shop-card—were continually going wrong. But he was kindly, good-hearted, high-minded, and had imagination and an original genius that could laugh at the nice, mechanical accomplishments of the schoolmaster. It was Nollekens, the sculptor, who said that he frequently saw Hogarth sauntering round Leicester Square, playing the nurse, “with his master's sickly child hanging its head over his shoulder.” That was in the early days, when he was still serving his time to Gamble, and not even dreaming, I suppose, that he would one day own the big house at the south-east corner of the Square, would enjoy some of his highest triumphs and sharpest humiliations in it, and die in it at last, leaving behind him work that would give him a place among the very first of English painters.

Even before so fastidious a critic as Whistler had declared that Hogarth was “the greatest English artist who ever lived,” Hazlitt had said much the same thing, and paid a glowing tribute to the vitality and dramatic life of his pictures; but perhaps no critic has written a finer, more incisive criticism on him than Lamb did in his essay on “The Genius and Character of Hogarth.” Lamb had been familiar with two of Hogarth's series of prints—“The Harlot's Progress,” and “The Rake's Progress”—since his boyhood; and though he was keenly alive to the humour of them, he denied that their chief appeal was to the risible faculties. It was their profound seriousness, their stern satire, the wonderful creative force that underlay them, that most impressed him. “I was pleased,” he says, “with the reply of a gentleman who, being asked which book he most esteemed in his library, answered ‘Shakespeare'; being asked which he esteemed next best, replied ‘Hogarth.' His graphic representations are indeed books; they have the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Other pictures we look at; his prints we read.” He protests against confounding “the painting of subjects in common or vulgar life with the being a vulgar artist. The quantity of thought which Hogarth crowds into every picture would alone unvulgarise every subject he might choose. Let us take the lowest of his subjects, the print called ‘Gin Lane.' Here is plenty of poverty and low stuff to disgust upon a superficial view; and accordingly a cold spectator feels himself immediately disgusted and repelled. I have seen many turn away from it, not being able to bear it. The same persons would, perhaps, have looked with great complacency upon Poussin's celebrated picture of the ‘Plague of Athens.' Disease and death and bewildering terror in Athenian garments are endurable, and come, as the delicate critics express it, within the ‘limits of pleasurable sensation.' But the scenes of their own St. Giles's, delineated by their own countryman, are too shocking to think of.... We are for ever deceiving ourselves with names and theories. We call one man a great historical painter because he has taken for his subjects kings or great men, or transactions over which time has thrown a grandeur. We term another the painter of common life, and set him down in our minds for an artist of an inferior class, without reflecting whether the quantity of thought shown by the latter may not much more than level the distinction which their mere choice of subjects may seem to place between them; or whether, in fact, from that very common life a great artist may not extract as deep an interest as another man from that which we are pleased to call history.” He found that, though many of the pictures had much in them that is ugly and repellent, “there is in most of them that sprinkling of the better nature which, like holy water, chases away and disperses the contagion of the bad. They have this in them besides, that they bring us acquainted with the everyday human face.” And because of this, of their truth to contemporary life, and the vigorous realism of the stories they tell, he ranked the work of Hogarth not only high among that of the world's great painters, but with the best novels of such men as Smollett and Fielding.

According to a note in his fragmentary autobiography, Hogarth conceived an early admiration for the paintings of Sir James Thornhill, and, somewhere about 1727, he joined the painting school that Sir James established in the Piazza, at the corner of James Street, Covent Garden. And Sir James soon seems to have taken a particular interest in his pupil, and had him as a frequent visitor to his house at 75 Dean Street, Soho; and on March 23rd, 1729, he eloped with his teacher's daughter, and they were married at old Paddington Church. There are paintings and decorations still to be seen on the walls of the Dean Street house, in some of which Hogarth is believed to have had a hand.

After his marriage, Hogarth lived for a while at Lambeth; but it was not long before he was reconciled to his father-in-law. In 1730 he was engaged with Sir James Thornhill on their famous picture of “The House of Commons”; and a year later, when he was engraving his series of prints “The Harlot's Progress,” he and his wife had apparently taken up quarters with Sir James in the Piazza.

 

SIR JAMES THORNHILL. 75 DEAN STREET.

 

“The Harlot's Progress,” and the issue of “The Rake's Progress” shortly afterwards, lifted Hogarth into fame. He began to move in better society, and was to be met with at the fashionable as well as at the Bohemian clubs of the day. He and Thornhill founded the Arts Club at the Turk's Head, in Gerrard Street; and, after the latter's death, he took over Thornhill's art school, and transferred it to Peter's Court, St. Martin's Lane. Occasionally he visited Richardson, the novelist, in Salisbury Court; and it was here he first made the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson. He struck up a friendship with Garrick, too, and painted several portraits of him, for one of which he received two hundred pounds; and with Fielding, of whom he has given us the only portrait we possess.

By 1733 Hogarth was prosperous enough to take the house in Leicester Square that was pulled down, in 1870, to furnish a site for the Archbishop Tenison School that has replaced it; and in 1749, “having sacrificed enough to his fame and fortune,” he purchased the villa at Chiswick as a summer holiday home, and became a familiar figure about the Chiswick lanes from time to time—“a blue-eyed, intelligent little man, with a scar over his right eye, and wearing a fur cap.” Allan Cunningham furnishes a more vivid description of his personal appearance in his Lives of the Painters, where he says he was “rather below the middle height; his eye was peculiarly bright and piercing; his look shrewd, sarcastic, and intelligent; the forehead high and round. He was active in person, bustling in manner, and fond of affecting a little state and importance. He was of a temper cheerful, joyous, and companionable, fond of mirth and good-fellowship.” Benjamin West called him a strutting, consequential little man; and, one way and another, we know that he was sturdy, obstinate, pugnacious, and that once he thrashed a ruffian whom he found maltreating the beautiful drummeress that he sketched in his picture of Southwark Fair. Possibly that scar over his right eye was a record of this chivalrous deed.

There are very few records of his home life, and these are of the homeliest, most ordinary sort. He was fond of smoking, and the arm-chair, in which he was wont to sit with his pipe, is still preserved at Chiswick. He had a favourite dog, a pet cat, and a bullfinch, which he buried in his Chiswick garden, commemorating them with tablets that have now vanished from the wall, the bird's epitaph being “Alas, poor Dick!” and the dog's, “Life to the last enjoyed, here Pompey lies”—which parodies a line in the Candidate, by that dissipated, brilliant satirist, Charles Churchill: “Life to the last enjoyed, here Churchill lies.”

 

HOGARTH'S HOUSE. CHISWICK.

 

The Candidate  was published at the beginning of 1764, and on the 25th October of that year Hogarth died. Churchill had been a warm friend of his, but before the end had become one of his bitterest enemies—that enmity arising in this wise. In 1762 Hogarth published a political print called the Times, in which he supported the policy of Lord Bute, and ridiculed Pitt, Temple, and Wilkes. By way of retaliation, Wilkes wrote a scathing attack upon Hogarth in his paper, the North Briton, in which he made a sneering reference to Mrs. Hogarth. This stirred Hogarth to anger; and when Wilkes was presently arrested on a charge of high treason, he sat in court and sketched the prisoner, immortalising his villainous squint, and accentuating all the worst qualities in his features. On this print making its appearance, Churchill, a staunch friend and partisan of Wilkes, took up the cudgels, and scarified Hogarth without mercy in An Epistle to William Hogarth  (1763), praising his art, but pouring contempt upon his envy and self-esteem, and affecting to believe that he was in his dotage. He can laud the genius, he says, but not the man.

“Freely let him wear
The wreath which Genius wove and planted there:
Foe as I am, should envy tear it down,
Myself would labour to replace the crown....
Hogarth unrivalled stands, and shall engage
Unrivalled praise to the most distant age.”

But for the man—

“Hogarth, stand forth—I dare thee to be tried
In that great Court where Conscience must preside;
At that most solemn bar hold up thy hand;
Think before whom, on what account you stand;
Speak, but consider well;—from first to last
Review thy life, weigh every action past.
Canst thou remember from thy earliest youth,
And as thy God must judge thee, speak the truth,
A single instance where, self laid aside,
And Justice taking place of Fear and Pride,
Thou with an equal eye didst Genius view,
And give to Merit what was Merit's due?
Genius and Merit are a sure offence,
And thy soul sickens at the name of sense.
Is any one so foolish to succeed?
On Envy's altar he is doomed to bleed;
Hogarth, a guilty pleasure in his eyes,
The place of executioner supplies;
See how he gloats, enjoys the sacred feast,
And proves himself by cruelty a priest....
Oft have I known thee, Hogarth, weak and vain,
Thyself the idol of thy awkward strain,
Through the dull measure of a summer's day,
In phrase most vile, prate long, long hours away,
Whilst friends with friends all gaping sit, and gaze,
To hear a Hogarth babble Hogarth's praise....
With all the symptoms of assured decay,
With age and sickness pinched and worn away,
Pale quivering lips, lank cheeks, and faltering tongue,
The spirits out of tune, the nerves unstrung,
The body shrivelled up, the dim eyes sunk
Within their sockets deep, thy weak hams shrunk,
The body's weight unable to sustain,
The stream of life scarce trembling through the vein,
More than half killed by honest truths which fell,
Through thy own fault, from men who wished thee well—
Canst thou, e'en thus, thy thoughts to vengeance give
And, dead to all things else, to malice live?
Hence, dotard, to thy closet; shut thee in;
By deep repentance wash away thy sin;
From haunts of men to shame and sorrow fly,
And, on the verge of death, learn how to die!”

Hurt and deeply mortified, a month later Hogarth satirised Churchill's former connection with the Church and present loose living in a caricature which represented him as a bear wearing torn clerical bands, with ruffles on his paws, in one hand a pot of porter, and in the other a bundle of lies and copies of the North Briton. Garrick had heard that Churchill was making ready to issue that vitriolic satire of his, and hastened to beg him, “by the regard you profess to me, that you don't tilt at my friend Hogarth before you see me. He is a great and original genius. I love him as a man, and reverence him as an artist. I would not for all the politics and politicians in the universe that you two should have the least cause of ill-will to each other. I am sure you will not publish against him if you think twice.” One could honour Garrick if it were for nothing else but that letter; but it was written in vain, and the exasperation and humiliation that Hogarth suffered under Churchill's lash are said to have hastened his death. He had been broken in health and ailing all through the summer of 1764, but took several plates down to his Chiswick villa with him for retouching, and—possibly with some foreboding of his own approaching dissolution—drew for a new volume of his prints a tailpiece depicting “the end of all things.”

 

THE BAY WINDOW. HOGARTH'S HOUSE.

 

But he could not be satisfied to keep away from London, and on 25th October was conveyed from Chiswick to his house in Leicester Square, “very weak,” says Nichols, “but remarkably cheerful, and, receiving an agreeable letter from Dr. Franklin” (Benjamin Franklin was, by the way, dwelling at this time in Bartholomew Close; he did not remove to 7 Craven Street, Strand, until three years later), “he drew up a rough draft of an answer to it; but, going to bed, was seized with a vomiting, upon which he rang the bell with such violence that he broke it, and expired about two hours afterwards in the arms of Mrs. Mary Lewis, who was called up on his being suddenly taken ill.”

He was buried in Chiswick Churchyard; and in 1771 his friends erected a monument over him, the epitaph on which was written by Garrick:—

“Farewell, great Painter of Mankind,
Who reached the noblest point of Art,
Whose pictured morals charm the Mind,
And through the eye correct the Heart.

If Genius fire thee, Reader, stay;
If Nature touch thee, drop a tear;
If neither move thee, turn away,
For Hogarth's honoured dust lies here.”

Garrick sent his verses to Dr. Johnson, who frankly criticised them, and offered him a revised version, the first lines of which were a distinct improvement:—

“The hand of Art here torpid lies
That traced the essential form of Grace;
Here Death has closed the curious eyes
That saw the manners in the face.”...

Garrick preferred his own composition, slightly altered, as it now appears; but Johnson's was certainly the better effort of the two.

Mrs. Hogarth retained possession of the Leicester Square house until her death in 1789, but she resided principally at Chiswick. Sir Richard Phillips saw her there, when he was a boy, and had vivid recollections of her as a stately old lady, wheeled to the parish church on Sundays in a bath-chair, and sailing in up the nave with her raised head-dress, silk sacque, black calash, and crutched cane, accompanied by a relative (the Mary Lewis who was with Hogarth when he died), and preceded by her grey-haired man-servant, Samuel, who carried her prayer-books, and, after she was seated, shut the pew door on her.

From 1824 to 1826 the Hogarth villa was inhabited by the Rev. H. F. Cary, the translator of Dante, who was one of Charles Lamb's many friends, and wrote the feeble epitaph that is on his tomb at Edmonton.

SHAKESPEARE IN LONDON

The London that Shakespeare knew has vanished like a dream. The Great Fire swept most of it out of existence in a few days of 1666, and the two and a half centuries of time since then have made away with nearly all the rest of it. The Tower still remains; there are parts of the Temple; a stray relic or so, such as the London Stone in Cannon Street, by which Shakespeare lays one of the Jack Cade scenes of his Henry VI.There are the stately water-gates along the Embankment, too; here and there an old house or so, such as that above the Inner Temple gateway, those of Staple Inn, those in Cloth Fair, and over in the Borough High Street; a few ancient Inns, like the Mitre off Ely Place, the Dick Whittington in Cloth Fair, the George in Southwark; some dozen of churches, including Westminster Abbey (in whose Jerusalem Chamber the translators of the Bible held their meetings), St. Saviour's, Southwark, St. Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield, St. Andrew Undershaft, St. Ethelburga's and St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, in which latter parish it seems probable that Shakespeare was for a while a householder; otherwise Elizabethan London has dwindled to little but remembered sites of once-famous buildings and streets that have changed in everything but their names.

 

JERUSALEM CHAMBER. WESTMINSTER ABBEY.

 

Until quite recently none of us knew of any address in London that had ever been Shakespeare's; we knew of no house, of no street even, which had once numbered him among its tenants, though we know that he passed at least twenty of the busiest and most momentous years of his life in the metropolis. There is a plausible but vague tradition that during some part of that period he had lodgings in Southwark near the Globe Theatre, in which he acted, for which he wrote plays, and of which he was one of the proprietors. There used to be an inscription: “Here lived William Shakespeare,” on the face of an old gabled house in Aldersgate Street, but there was never a rag of evidence to support the statement. We have no letters of Shakespeare, but we have one or two that refer to him, and one written to him by Richard Quiney, and I think we may infer from this latter that Shakespeare occasionally visited Quiney, who was a vintner, dwelling at the sign of the Bell in Carter Lane. Otherwise, except for a handful of small-beer chronicles about him that were picked up in theatrical circles two or three generations after his death, we had no record of any incident in his London life that brought us into actual personal touch with him until little more than two years ago. Then an American professor, Mr. Charles William Wallace, came over and did what our English students do not appear to have had the energy or enterprise to do for themselves—he toiled carefully through the dusty piles of documents preserved in the Record Office, and succeeded in unearthing one of the most interesting Shakespearean discoveries that have ever been made—a discovery that gives us vividly intimate glimpses of Shakespeare's life in London, and establishes beyond question his place of residence here in the years when he was writing some of the greatest of his dramas.

In 1587 the company of the “Queen's Players” made their first appearance in Stratford-on-Avon, and it was about this date, so far as can be traced, that Shakespeare ran away from home; so you may reasonably play with a fancy that he joined this company in some very minor capacity and travelled with them to London. At this time, Burbage, who was by profession an actor and by trade a carpenter and joiner, was owner and manager of “The Theatre,” which stood in Shoreditch near the site of the present Standard Theatre, and close by was a rival house, “The Curtain” (commemorated nowadays by Curtain Road); and according to the legend, which has developed into a legend of exact detail, yet rests on nothing but the airiest rumour, it was outside one or both of these theatres Shakespeare picked up a living on his arrival in London by minding horses whilst their owners were inside witnessing a performance.

By 1593 Shakespeare had become known as an actor and as a dramatist. He had revised and tinkered at various plays for Burbage's company, and as a consequence had been charged with plagiarism by poor Greene, whose Groatsworth of Wit  (published after he had died miserably in Dowgate) pours scorn on the “upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers heart wrapt in a players hide  supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blank verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a countrie.” For his acting, Shakespeare appears for the first time in the Lord Chamberlain's accounts of 1594 as having taken equal shares with William Kemp and Richard Burbage in a sum of twenty pounds “for two severall Comedies or Interludes shewed by them” before Queen Elizabeth at Christmas 1593.

After the Theatre of Shoreditch was pulled down in 1598, Burbage built the Globe Theatre on Bankside, Southwark, on the ground of which part of Barclay & Perkins's brewery now stands; and Shakespeare, “being a deserveing man,” was taken as one of the partners and received a “chief-actor's share” of the profits. And it is to this prosperous period of his London career that Professor Wallace's recent discoveries belong.

In 1598 there lived in a shop at the corner of Silver Street and Monkwell Street a certain Christopher Mountjoy, a maker of wigs and fashionable headdresses. He was a Frenchman, born at Cressy, and probably a refugee Huguenot. His household consisted of a wife and daughter, an apprentice named Stephen Bellott, and one lodger, and this lodger was William Shakespeare. Being out of his apprenticeship in 1604, Stephen had six pounds from his master and, with this and his own savings, went travelling into Spain, but returned towards the end of the year and resumed work again at Mountjoy's shop. In his 'prentice days Stephen seems to have formed some shy attachment to his master's daughter, Mary, but because of his lack of means and prospects, or because he was naturally reticent, he had made no attempt to press his suit, and Madame Mountjoy, seeing how the young people were affected to each other, followed the fashion of the time and persuaded Shakespeare, who had then been living under the same roof with them for six years, to act as match-maker between her and the hesitating lover. She one day laid the case before Shakespeare and asked his good offices, as Professor Wallace has it; she told him that “if he could bring the young man to make a proposal of marriage, a dower fitting to their station should be settled upon them at marriage. This was the sum of fifty pounds in money of that time, or approximately four hundred pounds in money of to-day.” Shakespeare consented to undertake this delicate duty; he spoke with young Bellott, and the outcome of his negotiations was that Stephen and Mary were married, as the entry in the church register shows, at St. Olave, Silver Street, on the 19th November 1604.

On the death of Madame Mountjoy in 1606, Stephen and his wife went back to live with the father and help him in his business, but they soon fell out with him, and became on such bad terms that some six months later they left him and took lodgings with George Wilkins, a victualler, who kept an inn in the parish of St. Sepulchre's. The quarrel between them culminated in Stephen Bellott bringing an action in the Court of Requests in 1612, to recover from his father-in-law a promised dower of sixty pounds and to ensure that Mountjoy carried out an alleged arrangement to bequeath a sum of two hundred pounds to him by his will. At the Record Office Professor Wallace found all the legal documents relating to these proceedings, and amongst them are the depositions of Shakespeare setting forth to the best of his recollection his own share in the arranging of the marriage. From these depositions, and from those of other witnesses who make reference to him, one gets the first clear and authentic revelation of Shakespeare's home life in London.

He lived with the Mountjoys over that shop at the corner of Monkwell Street for at least six years, down to the date of the wedding, and there is little doubt that he stayed on with them after that. It is more than likely, indeed, that he was still boarding there when he appeared as a witness in the 1612 lawsuit and stated that he had been intimate with the family some “ten years, more or less.” Throughout the later of those years he was absent on occasional visits to Stratford, and hitherto it has been generally assumed (on the negative evidence that no trace of him could be found after this date) that he returned and settled down in Stratford permanently about 1609.

Taking only the six years we are certain of, however, he wrote between 1598 and 1604 Henry V.The Merry Wives of WindsorMuch Ado About NothingAs You Like ItTwelfth NightAll's Well that Ends WellJulius CæsarHamletMeasure for Measure, and Othello. In the two years following, whilst it is pretty sure he was still dwelling with the Mountjoys, he wrote Macbeth  and King Lear, and the fact that he had his home here during the period in which he was writing ten of his plays—three of them amongst the greatest he or any man ever wrote—makes this corner of Monkwell Street the most glorious literary landmark in the world.

 

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

 

The house in which he lodged was destroyed by the Great Fire, and the site is occupied now by an old tavern, “The Cooper's Arms.” Almost facing it, just the other side of Silver Street, is a fragment of the churchyard of St. Olave's. The church, in which the apprentice Stephen was married to Mary Mountjoy, vanished also in the Great Fire and was not rebuilt, and this weedy remnant of the churchyard with its three or four crumbling tombs is all that survives of the street as Shakespeare knew it; his glance must have rested on that forlorn garden of the dead as often as he looked from the windows opposite or came out at Mountjoy's door.

 

ST. OLAVE'S CHURCHYARD. SILVER STREET.

 

Turning to the right when he came out at that door, half a minute's walk up Falcon Street would have brought him into Aldersgate Street, so the announcement on one of the shops there that he had lived in it may have been nothing worse than a perfectly honest mistake; it was known as a fact that he lived thereabouts, and tradition settled on the wrong house instead of on the right one, that was a hundred yards or so away from it. But when Shakespeare issued from Mountjoy's shop you may depend that his feet more frequently trod the ground in the opposite direction; he would go to the left, along Silver Street, into Wood Street, and down the length of that to Cheapside, where, almost fronting the end of Wood Street, stood the Mermaid Tavern, and he must needs pass to the right or left of it, by way of Friday Street, or Bread Street, across Cannon Street and then down Huggin Lane or Little Bread Street Hill to Thames Street, whence, from Queenhithe, Puddle Wharf, or Paul's Wharf, he could take boat over the Thames to the Globe Theatre on Bankside.

There has been no theatre on Bankside these many years; there is nothing there or in that vicinity now that belongs to Shakespeare's age except some scattered, ancient, inglorious houses that he may or may not have known and the stately cathedral of St. Saviour. This holds still the span of ground that has belonged to it since before Chaucer's day. You may enter and see there the quaint effigy of Chaucer's contemporary, Gower, sleeping on his five-century-old tomb; and here and there about the aisles and in the nave are memorials of remembered or forgotten men and women who died while Shakespeare was living, and somewhere in it were buried men, too, who were intimate with him, though no evidence of their burial there remains except in the parish register. In the “monthly accounts” of St. Saviour's you come upon these entries concerning two of his contemporary dramatists:—

“1625. August  29th, John Fletcher, a poet, in the church.”

“1638. March  18th, Philip Massinger, stranger, in the church.”

the inference being that Fletcher had resided in the parish, and Massinger, the “stranger,” had not. But earlier than either of these, it is on record that on the 31st December 1607, Shakespeare's youngest brother, Edmund, “a player,” was buried here, and a fee of twenty shillings was paid by some one for “a forenoon knell of the great bell.”

St. Saviour's, then, the sites of the Globe Theatre and the Mermaid, and that corner of Monkwell Street are London's chief Shakespearean shrines. The discovery of the Monkwell Street residence emphasises that before Ben Jonson founded his Apollo Club at the Devil Tavern by Temple Bar, Cheapside and not Fleet Street was the heart of literary London. Whilst Shakespeare made his home with the Mountjoys, Ben Jonson and Dekker were living near him in Cripplegate, in which district also resided Johnson the actor, Anthony Munday, and other of Shakespeare's intimates; nearer still, in Aldermanbury, lived Heminges and Condell, his brother actors, who first collected and published his plays after his death: and George Wilkins, at whose inn near St. Sepulchre's Stephen Bellott and his wife lodged after their quarrel with Mountjoy, was a minor dramatist who, besides collaborating with Rowley, collaborated with Shakespeare himself in the writing of Pericles. Coryat, the eccentric author of the Crudities, lived in Bow Lane; Donne, who was born in Wood Street, wrote his early poems there in the house of the good merchant, his father, and was a frequenter of the Mermaid.

In 1608 Milton was born in Bread Street (Shakespeare must have passed his door many a time in his goings to and fro), and grew up to live and work within the City walls in Aldersgate Street, and in Bartholomew Close, and just without them in Bunhill Row, and was brought back within them to be buried in Cripplegate Church. These, and its earlier and many later literary associations, help to halo Cheapside and its environs, and, in spite of the sordid commercial aspect and history that have overtaken it, to make it for ever a street in the kingdom of romance.

And the chief glory of Cheapside itself is, of course, the Mermaid. One of these days a fitting sign will be placed above the spot where it stood, and set forth in letters of gold the great names that are inseparable from its story, and first among these will be the names of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Selden, Donne, Carew, Fuller, Sir Walter Raleigh.

The Mermaid rose on Cheapside with a side entrance in Friday Street, and of evenings when no business took him to the theatre, or towards midnight when he was on his way home from it, Shakespeare often turned aside into this famous meeting-place of the immortals of his generation. Everybody is familiar with those rapturous lines in Beaumont's letter to Ben Jonson, “written before he and Master Fletcher came to London with two of the precedent comedies, then not finished, which deferred their merry meetings at the Mermaid;” but one cannot talk of the Mermaid without remembering them and quoting from them once again:—

“In this warm shine
I lie and dream of your full Mermaid wine....
Methinks the little wit I had is lost
Since I saw you: for wit is like a rest
Held up at tennis, which men do the best
With the best gamesters! What things have we seen
Done at the Mermaid! heard words that have been
So nimble and so full of subtile flame
As if that every one from whence they came
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest,
And had resolved to live a fool the rest
Of his dull life; then when there hath been thrown
Wit able enough to justify the town
For three days past, wit that might warrant be
For the whole city to talk foolishly
Till that were cancelled; and when that was gone,
We left an air behind us which alone
Was able to make the next two companies
Right witty; though but downright fools, mere wise.”

 

BARTHOLOMEW CLOSE. SMITHFIELD.

 

Well might Keats ask in a much later day (probably whilst he was tenanting the Cheapside rooms over Bird-in-Hand Court in which he wrote the sonnet on Chapman's Homer):

“Souls of poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy field or mossy cavern
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?”

And in our own time, in Christmas at the Mermaid, Watts-Dunton has recreated that glamorous hostelry and brought together again the fine spirits who used to frequent it—brought them together in an imaginary winter's night shortly after Shakespeare had departed from them and gone back to Stratford for good. Jonson is of that visionary company, and Raleigh, Lodge, Dekker, Chapman, Drayton and Heywood, and it is Heywood who breaks in, after the tale-telling and reminiscent talk, with—

“More than all the pictures, Ben,
Winter weaves by wood or stream,
Christmas loves our London, when
Rise thy clouds of wassail-steam:
Clouds like these that, curling, take
Forms of faces gone, and wake
Many a lay from lips we loved, and make
London like a dream.”

It is because of the memories that sleep within it, like music in a lute until a hand that knows touches it, because of all it has been, and because it is never more wonderful than when you can so make it like a dream, that I give thanks for the fog that comes down upon London at intervals, in the grey months, and with silent wizardries conjures it out of sight. Look at this same Cheapside on a clear day, and it is simply a plain, prosperous, common-place street, but when a fog steals quietly through it and spiritualises it to something of the vagueness and grandeur and mystery of poetry it is no longer a mere earthly thoroughfare under the control of the Corporation; it becomes a dream-street in some mist-built city of the clouds, and you feel that at any moment the pavements might thin out and shred away and let you through into starry, illimitable spaces. Where the brown fog warms to a misty, golden glow you know there are shop windows. As you advance the street-lamps twinkle in the thick air, as if they were kindled magically at your coming and flickered out again directly you were past. The coiling darkness is loud with noises of life, but you walk among them with a sense of aloofness and solitude, for you can see nothing but flitting shadows all about you and know that you are yourself only a shadow to them.

For me, three of the loveliest and most strangely touching sights of London are the stars shining very high in the blue and very quietly when you look up at them from the roaring depths of a crowded, naphtha-flaring, poverty-stricken market street; a sunrise brightening over the Thames below London Bridge, while the barges are still asleep with the gleam of their lamps showing pale in the dawn; and the blurred lights and ghostly buildings of a long city road that is clothed in mystery and transfigured by a brooding, dream-haunted fog. Perhaps this is only because of the dim feeling one has that the stars and the sunrise are of the things that the wasting centuries have not changed; and the fog that blots out to-day makes it easier to realise that yesterday and the life of yesterday are close about us still, and that we might see them with our waking eyes, even as we see them in our dreams, if the darkness would but lift.

 

THE LAST BULK SHOP. CLARE MARKET.

A PHILOSOPHER, TWO POETS, AND A NOVELIST

Everybody has heard of Sandford and Merton, and hardly anybody nowadays has read it. I confess with shame that I am one who has not. But I have come across so many parodies of it and so many references to it in various books and articles that I am finding it more and more difficult to believe that I have not actually read the story itself. Mr. Barlow, the boy's tutor, lives in my mind as a large and solemn bore, but he was a bore of real knowledge; he was heavy with learning; and the boys themselves were dreadful little prigs, but underneath their priggishness they were manly boys, and there was something fine in their ideals of honour. No doubt they were largely modelled on their author, Thomas Day, who when he was a schoolboy started a fight with another boy on quite justifiable grounds, and soon finding that he completely outmatched his opponent, stopped the fight, and insisted on shaking hands with the other and making peace.

That incident, and the queer originality of his whole outlook on life, has made me more interested in Day himself than in his one famous book, and has made me number 36 Wellclose Square, the house where he was born, among the London literary shrines that must not be overlooked.

Wellclose Square is in Shadwell, on the skirts of Whitechapel, and is one of those melancholy places that have obviously seen better days. Dreary and drab and squalid as you see it now, when Day was born there on the 22nd June 1748 it must have been a fairly select and superior residential quarter. Day's father was a collector of Customs who died a year after his son's birth, leaving him a very comfortable fortune of twelve hundred a year. The boy was educated at Charterhouse and at Oxford, and one way and another acquired lofty Stoic principles and a somewhat original philosophy that he lived up to obstinately all his life through, in spite of many rebuffs and a good deal of ridicule. He dressed carelessly, was indifferent to appearances, and scorned the “admiration of splendour which dazzles and enslaves mankind.” He preferred the society of his inferiors because they were more unconventional, less artificial than the ladies and gentlemen of his own rank; he was awkward in the company of women, and regarded the sex with doubt as well as with diffidence. As you would expect of the man who wrote Sandford and Merton, he had no sense of humour; and his smallpox-pitted face and unattractive air and manner told so much against him that he was rejected emphatically by the first one or two women he proposed to. Withal, as was also fitting in the author of that fearsomely moral schoolboy-book, he was, in the words of his friend Edgeworth, “the most virtuous human being I have ever known.”

 

THOMAS DAY. 36 WELLCLOSE SQUARE.

 

I suppose he was a pioneer of the “simple life” theory; anyhow, he persistently advocated simplicity in dress and living, and was determined to find a wife who shared these tastes, who should, moreover, be fond of literature and moral philosophy, “simple as a mountain girl in her dress, diet, and manners, and fearless and intrepid as the Spartan wives and Roman heroines.” He was careful to state these requirements to the lady before proposing to her, and this seems to have spoilt his chances. The difficulty of discovering his ideal wife led to his making an odd experiment. He adopted two young girls, one from the Foundling Hospital, the other from the Shrewsbury Orphanage, and in deference to the proprieties formally bound them apprentice to his friend Edgeworth, and gave guarantees to the authorities that within one year he would make a decision between the two and pay a premium of a hundred pounds to apprentice one to a suitable trade, and send the other to be properly educated with the ultimate object of marrying her. The girls were about twelve years old. In order that they should not be influenced with wrong ideas by the people about them, he took them into France, where, as they only understood English, they could talk with nobody but himself; and there he proceeded to teach them reading and writing, and by ridicule, explanation, and reasoning sought “to imbue them with a deep hatred for dress, for luxury, for fine people, for fashion and titles, all of which inspired his own mind with such an unconquerable horror.” In a letter which he wrote home about them he says, “I am not disappointed in one respect. I am more attached to and more convinced of the truth of my principles than ever. I have made them, in respect of temper, two such girls as, I may perhaps say without vanity, you have never seen at the same age. They have never given me a moment's trouble throughout the voyage, are always contented, and think nothing so agreeable as waiting upon me (no moderate convenience for a lazy man).” Nevertheless, in France, the girls proved very quarrelsome; he had to nurse them through a severe attack of smallpox, and once when they were out boating they both fell into the Rhone, and he risked his life to save them.

Within the year, he brought them back to England and had made his choice. He apprenticed one, who was “invincibly stupid,” to a milliner; and the other, Sabrina Sidney, he carried with him to a house he had taken near Lichfield and there “resumed his preparations for implanting in her young mind the characteristic virtues of Arria, Portia and Cornelia.” But she disappointed him; he endeavoured in vain to steel her against shrinking from pain and the fear of danger. “When he dropped melting sealing-wax on her arms she did not endure it heroically; nor when he fired pistols at her petticoats which she believed to be charged with balls could she help starting aside or suppress her screams.” She was not fond of science, and was unable to keep a secret satisfactorily; so after a year's trial Day sent her away to a boarding-school, and proceeded to pay his addresses to a young lady living in the neighbourhood, who first put him on a period of probation, and then, after he had made himself ridiculous in trying to dress and behave as she wished, rejected him.

 

LORD BYRON

 

Whereupon his thoughts turned again to Sabrina, who had a real affection for him; but her failure to obey him in certain small details of dress again displeased him, and finally deciding against her, he in the long run married a Miss Milnes. His one objection to this lady was that she possessed a considerable fortune, and would therefore probably refuse to live the simple life; but when he had categorically put his requirements to her, and she had consented to dispense with all luxuries, to cut herself off from social gaieties, and reside in the country with him, restricted in every way to the bare necessaries of existence, working and spending for the behoof of the poor and needy, he ventured to make her Mrs. Day, and never had occasion to regret it. Sabrina eventually married a barrister, but refused to do so until she had Day's consent; and when, after writing divers political, economic, and philosophical works that nobody hears of now, and Sandford and Merton, which nobody reads any longer, Day died of a fall from an unmanageable horse which he insisted could be controlled by kindness, his wife was inconsolable, and died soon after him of a broken heart.

So he must have been a man worth knowing, and, in spite of his peculiarities and his oppressive earnestness, more likeable than most of us, when you knew him. Anyhow, he thought for himself, and had opinions of his own, and was not afraid to act upon them. And such men are so uncommonly rare that I think the County Council should put a tablet on the face of his birthplace at once, for the encouragement of all men who are something more than cheap copies of their neighbours.

Across the other side of London, at 24 (then 16) Holles Street, Cavendish Square, Lord Byron was born, on 22nd January 1788—a very different man, but also unconventional, though in more conventional ways. But the house here has been considerably altered to suit the requirements of the big drapery establishment that at present occupies it, and of Byron's various residences in London I believe the only one that survives in its original condition is that at No. 4 Bennet Street, St. James's. Here he had rooms on the first floor in 1813 and the early months of 1814, and it was in those rooms that he wrote The GiaourThe Bride of Abydos, and The Corsair. Writing to Moore from here on the 28th July 1813, he says, “I am training to dine with Sheridan and Rogers this evening”; and in the Diary he was keeping at this time he notes, on 16th November 1813, “Read Burns to-day. What would he have been, if a patrician? We should have had more polish—less force—just as much verse but no immortality—a divorce and duel or two, the which had he survived, as his potations must have been less spirituous, he might have lived as long as Sheridan, and outlived as much as poor Brinsley.”

From Bennet Street Byron carried on a correspondence with the lady he was destined to marry, Miss Anna Isabella Milbanke. “I look upon myself,” he tells her in one of his letters, “as a very facetious personage, and may appeal to most of my acquaintance in proof of my assertion. Nobody laughs more, and though your friend Joanna Baillie says somewhere that ‘Laughter is the child of misery,' I do not believe her (unless indeed a hysteric), though I think it is sometimes the parent.” In another of the same September 1813, evidently replying to one of hers, he protests: “‘Gay' but not ‘content'—very true.... You have detected a laughter ‘false to the heart'—allowed—yet I have been tolerably sincere with you, and I fear sometimes troublesome.” In November he writes to her, “I perceive by part of your last letter that you are still inclined to believe me a gloomy personage. Those who pass so much of their time entirely alone can't be always in very high spirits; yet I don't know—though I certainly do enjoy society to a certain extent, I never passed two hours in mixed company without wishing myself out of it again. Still, I look upon myself as a facetious companion, well reputed by all the wits at whose jests I readily laugh, and whose repartees I take care never to incur by any kind of contest—for which I feel as little qualified as I do for the more solid pursuits of demonstration.”

 

BYRON. 4 BENNET STREET. ST. JAMES'S.

 

As for his gloom or gaiety, Sir Walter Scott, who lunched with him and Charles Mathews at Long's Hotel, in Old Bond Street, in 1815, said, “I never saw Byron so full of fun, frolic, wit, and whim: he was as playful as a kitten.” Again, writing in his Journal, after Byron's death, Sir Walter observes, “What I liked about Byron, besides his boundless genius, was his generosity of spirit as well as purse, and his utter contempt of all affectations of literature, from the school-magisterial style to the lackadaisical”; and he relates an anecdote in illustration of Byron's extreme sensitiveness: “Like Rousseau, he was apt to be very suspicious, and a plain, downright steadiness of manner was the true mode to maintain his good opinion. Will Rose told me that once, while sitting with Byron, he fixed insensibly his eyes on his feet, one of which, it must be remembered, was deformed. Looking up suddenly, he saw Byron regarding him with a look of concentrated and deep displeasure, which wore off when he observed no consciousness or embarrassment in the countenance of Rose. Murray afterwards explained this by telling Rose that Lord Byron was very jealous of having this personal imperfection noticed or attended to.” He goes on to say that Byron was a mischief-maker; he would tell one man the unpleasant things that had been privately said of him by another; and he loved to mystify people, “to be thought awful, mysterious and gloomy, and sometimes hinted at strange causes.”

So that if he had no literary affectations he clearly cultivated a pose of mysterious misery both in his life and his poetry, and this it was that exasperated Carlyle into calling him “the teeth-grinding, glass-eyed, lone Caloyer.” And the pose was helped out by his handsome and romantic appearance. “Byron's countenance is a thing to dream of,” Scott told Lockhart. “A certain fair lady whose name has been too often mentioned in connection with his told a friend of mine that when she first saw Byron it was in a crowded room, and she did not know who it was, but her eyes were instantly nailed, and she said to herself, ‘That pale face is my fate.' And, poor soul, if a god-like face and god-like powers could have made excuse for devilry, to be sure she had one.” He said on the same occasion, “As for poets, I have seen, I believe, all the best of our own time and country—and, though Burns had the most glorious eyes imaginable, I never thought any of them would come up to an artist's notion of the character except Byron.” Mrs. Opie said, “His voice was such a voice as the devil tempted Eve with”; and Charles Mathews once remarked that “he was the only man I ever contemplated to whom I felt disposed to apply the word beautiful.”

Nevertheless, for a while Miss Milbanke was proof against his fascinations. In November 1813, about the date of that last letter of his to her from which I have quoted, he offered her his hand and was rejected. He proposed to another lady in the following September, and was rejected again, and almost immediately afterwards he called on Miss Milbanke at her father's house, 29 Portland Place, and in the library there passionately renewed his suit, and this time was successful. They were married in January 1815, and went to live at 13 Piccadilly, and in January of the next year, after twelve months of little happiness and much wretchedness, separated for good, a month after the birth of their child.

This Piccadilly house has been pulled down. The Albany to which Byron removed in 1814, and which he left on his marriage, still remains; and so, too, does No. 8 St. James's Street, where he lived in 1809, when his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers  took the town by storm, but it has undergone so much alteration that it no longer seems so intimately reminiscent of Byron as Bennet Street does.

Whilst Byron was residing in St. James's Street, publishing the English Bards  and writing the first canto of Childe Harold, Coleridge was living in a house at Portland Place, Hammersmith, that is now known as No. 7 Addison Bridge Place. Somehow, one does not readily connect Coleridge with London, even though he had lodged for many years at Highgate before he died there. But one time and another he spent quite a large part of his life in the metropolis. He was at school with Lamb, of course, at Christ's Hospital; and are not Lamb's letters strewn with yearning remembrances of the glorious evenings he and Coleridge and Hazlitt and others passed, in later years, in the smoky parlour of “The Salutation and Cat,” in Newgate Street? At various dates, he lived at Buckingham Street, and at Norfolk Street, Strand, in Pall Mall, and in King Street, Covent Garden, when he was working on the staff of the Morning Post ; to say nothing of visits to London when he put up at one or another of Lamb's many homes in the City; and there is still in one of the courts of Fetter Lane that Newton Hall where he delivered a series of lectures in 1818.

By 1810, when he came to London and settled for a period at 7 Addison Bridge Place, Coleridge had done all his great work as a poet, and under stress of financial difficulties was turning more and more from poetry to lecturing and journalism as sources of income. There is a letter of Lamb's to Hazlitt, dated 28th November 1810, when Hazlitt was holidaying and working at Winterslow, in which he mentions towards the close—“Coleridge is in town, or at least at Hammersmith. He is writing or going to write in the Courier against Cobbett and in favour of paper money.” Byron wrote to a friend in the succeeding year, “Coleridge is lecturing. ‘Many an old fool,' said Hannibal to some such lecturer, ‘but such as this, never'”; and to the same friend two days later, “Coleridge has been lecturing against Campbell. Rogers was present, and from him I derive the information. We are going to make a party to hear this Manichean of poesy”; and on the same day to another friend, “Coleridge has attacked the Pleasures of Hope, and all other pleasures whatsoever. Mr. Rogers was present, and heard himself indirectly rowed  by the lecturer”; and next week, “To-morrow I dine with Rogers, and am to hear Coleridge, who is a kind of rage at present.”

 

COLERIDGE. ADDISON BRIDGE PLACE.

 

Coleridge was then only thirty-eight, and had another twenty-four years of life before him. He was already, and had for long past, been struggling in the toils of the opium habit, and his poetical inspiration was leaving him, for though Christabel  and Kubla Khan  were not published until 1816 they were written nearly ten years before. There are a number of minor poems bearing later dates; several in 1809, many long after that, but only one dated 1810, which may be supposed to have been written in that Hammersmith house, and this is nothing but a respectable translation of a passage in Ottfried's metrical paraphrase of the Gospels. But his lectures were a wonder and a delight, Byron's disapproval notwithstanding. He was always an eloquent preacher, and became a chief among lecturers as he did among poets. “Have you ever heard me preach?” he asked Lamb, and Lamb replied with his whimsical stammer, “I never heard you do anything else!” But you remember that fine essay of Hazlitt's in which he recounts his first acquaintance with Coleridge?—how he rose before daylight and walked ten miles in the mud to hear him preach. “When I got there, the organ was playing the hundredth psalm, and when it was done Mr. Coleridge rose and gave out his text, ‘And he went up into the mountain to pray, Himself, alone.' As he gave out his text his voice ‘rose like a steam of rich distilled perfumes,' and when he came to the two last words, which he pronounced loud, deep, and distinct, it seemed to me, who was then young, as if the sounds had echoed from the bottom of the human heart, and as if that prayer might have floated in solemn silence through the universe.” He describes the sermon, and goes on, “I could not have been more delighted if I had heard the music of the spheres. Poetry and Philosophy had met together.... I returned home well satisfied.” Then Coleridge called to see his father, a dissenting minister in the neighbourhood, and for two hours he talked and Hazlitt listened spellbound, and when he went, Hazlitt walked with him six miles on the road. “It was a fine morning,” he says, “in the middle of winter, and he talked the whole way.” And with what a fine generosity he acknowledges what that meeting and this talk of Coleridge's had meant to him. “I was stunned, startled with it as from a deep sleep.... I was at that time dumb, inarticulate, helpless, like a worm by the wayside, crushed, bleeding, lifeless; but now, bursting the deadly bands that bound them—

‘With Styx nine times round them,'

my ideas float on winged words, and as they expand their plumes catch the golden light of other years. My soul has indeed remained in its original bondage, dark, obscure, with longings infinite and unsatisfied; my heart, shut up in the prison-house of this rude clay, has never found nor will it ever find a heart to speak to; but that my understanding also did not remain dumb and brutish, or at length found a language to express itself, I owe to Coleridge.” That was when Coleridge was twenty-six and Hazlitt twenty. These twelve years after that, when Coleridge was lecturing in London, his fancy and imagination were as dazzling and as powerful as ever, and his voice and language had lost none of their magic. But his thoughts were perhaps tending towards that transcendental obscurity that reached its worst when he was established in his closing days at Highgate, with his little group of worshipping disciples around him, and when Carlyle went to hear and to ridicule him. Anyhow, here is an account Rogers gives of a visit he paid to him when he had transferred himself from Hammersmith to Pall Mall:—

“Coleridge was a marvellous talker. One morning when Hookham Frere also breakfasted with me, Coleridge talked for three hours without intermission, about poetry, and so admirably that I wish every word he uttered had been written down. But sometimes his harangues were quite unintelligible, not only to myself, but to others. Wordsworth and I called upon him one afternoon, when he was in a lodging off Pall Mall. He talked uninterruptedly for about two hours, during which Wordsworth listened to him with profound attention, every now and then nodding his head, as if in assent. On quitting the lodgings I said to Wordsworth, ‘Well, for my part, I could not make head or tail of Coleridge's oration; pray did you understand it?' ‘Not one syllable of it,' was Wordsworth's reply.”

He talked like one inspired, but his looks, except whilst he was talking, belied him. “My face,” he said justly of himself, “unless when animated by immediate eloquence, expresses great sloth and great, indeed almost idiotic, good nature. 'Tis a mere carcase of a face, flat, flabby, and expressive chiefly of unexpression. Yet I am told that my eye, eyebrows, and forehead are physiognomically good.” De Quincey says there was a peculiar haze or dimness mixed with the light of his eyes; and when he was roused to animation Lamb thought he looked like “an archangel a little damaged.” But whether that haze of his eyes got into his talk, whether his thoughts were obscurely uttered, or whether it was they were too high and great for his auditors to take in so easily as a listener expects to grasp what is said to him is, at least, an open question. It may well be that Shelley hit the truth in the Letter to Maria Gisborne  that he wrote from Leghorn, in 1820:—

“You will see Coleridge; he who sits obscure
In the exceeding lustre and the pure
Intense irradiation of a mind
Which, with its own internal lightnings blind,
Flags wearily through darkness and despair—
A cloud-encircled meteor of the air,
A hooded eagle among blinking owls.”

ST. JOHN'S WOOD AND WIMBLEDON

Mary Lamb passed the later years of her life in a sort of nursing home at St. John's Wood, and in her happier intervals kept up a pleasant acquaintance with some of the notable circle of friends who had gathered about her and her brother aforetime; among others, with the Hoods, who were then living in the same locality. Crabb Robinson mentions in his Diary how he made a call on Mary Lamb, and finding her well over one of her periodical attacks, “quite in possession of her faculties and recollecting nearly everything,” he accompanied her on a visit to the Hoods, who were lodging at 17 Elm Tree Road.

Perhaps one of the most graphic pictures we have of Hood's home life, and incidentally of Hood himself and his wife and of Charles and Mary Lamb, is contained in the account that has been left by Miss Mary Balmanno of an evening she spent with the Hoods when they were making their home in Robert Street, Adelphi: “Bound in the closest ties of friendship with the Hoods, with whom we also were in the habit of continually associating, we had the pleasure of meeting Charles Lamb at their house one evening, together with his sister, and several other friends.... In outward appearance Hood conveyed the idea of a clergyman. His figure slight, and invariably dressed in black; his face pallid; the complexion delicate, and features regular: his countenance bespeaking sympathy by its sweet expression of melancholy and suffering.

“Lamb was of a different mould and aspect. Of middle height, with brown and rather ruddy complexion, grey eyes expressive of sense and shrewdness, but neither large nor brilliant; his head and features well shaped, and the general expression of his countenance quiet, kind, and observant, undergoing rapid changes in conversation, as did his manner, variable as an April day, particularly to his sister, whose saint-like good humour and patience were as remarkable as his strange and whimsical modes of trying them. But the brother and sister perfectly understood each other, and ‘Charles,' as she always called him, would not have been the Charles of her loving heart without the pranks and oddities which he was continually playing off upon her, and which were only outnumbered by the instances of affection and evidences of ever-watchful solicitude with which he surrounded her.

“Miss Lamb, although many years older than her brother, by no means looked so, but presented the pleasant appearance of a mild, rather stout and comely lady of middle age. Dressed with Quaker-like simplicity in dove-coloured silk, with a transparent kerchief of snow-white muslin folded across her bosom, she at once prepossessed the beholder in her favour by an aspect of serenity and peace. Her manners were very quiet and gentle, and her voice low. She smiled frequently, and seldom laughed, partaking of the courtesies and hospitalities of her merry host and hostess with all the cheerfulness and grace of a most mild and kindly nature. Her behaviour to her brother was like that of an admiring disciple; her eyes seldom absent from his face. And when apparently engrossed in conversation with others, she would, by supplying some word for which he was at a loss, even when talking in a distant part of the room, show how closely her mind waited upon his. Mr. Lamb was in high spirits, sauntering about the room with his hands crossed behind his back, conversing by fits and starts with those most familiarly known to him....”

She goes on to describe how Miss Kelly, the actress, amused them by impersonating a character she was taking in a new play, and “Mrs. Hood's eyes sparkled with joy, as she saw the effect it had produced upon her husband, whose pale face, like an illuminated comic mask, shone with fun and good humour. Never was a happier couple than the Hoods; ‘mutual reliance and fond faith' seemed to be their motto. Mrs. Hood was a most amiable woman—of excellent manners, and full of sincerity and goodness. She perfectly adored her husband, tending him like a child, whilst he, with unbounded affection, seemed to delight to yield himself to her guidance. Nevertheless, true to his humorous nature, he loved to tease her with jokes and whimsical accusations, which were only responded to by, ‘Hood, Hood, how can you run on so?'

“The evening was concluded by a supper, one of those elegant social repasts which Flemish artists delight to paint.... Mr. Lamb oddly walked round the table, looking closely at any dish that struck his fancy before he would decide where to sit, telling Mrs. Hood that he should by that means know how to select some dish that was difficult to carve and take the trouble off her hands; accordingly, having jested in this manner, he placed himself with great deliberation before a lobster salad, observing that  was the thing.

“Mr. Hood, with inexpressible gravity in the upper part of his face and his mouth twitching with smiles, sang his own comic song of ‘If you go to France be sure you learn the lingo'; his pensive manner and feeble voice making it doubly ludicrous. Mr. Lamb, on being pressed to sing, excused himself in his own peculiar manner, but offered to pronounce a Latin eulogium instead. This was accepted, and he accordingly stammered forth a long stream of Latin words; among which, as the name of Mrs. Hood frequently occurred, we ladies thought it in praise of her. The delivery of this speech occupied about five minutes. On inquiring of a gentleman who sat next me whether Mr. Lamb was praising Mrs. Hood, he informed me that was by no means the case, the eulogium being on the lobster salad! Thus, in the gayest of moods, progressed and concluded a truly merry little social supper, worthy in all respects of the author of Whims and Oddities.”

But all this, when the Hoods came to St. John's Wood, lay thirteen years behind them, and Lamb had been eight years dead. Quitting the Adelphi in 1829, Hood went to Winchmore Hill, then to Wanstead; then, after some five years of residence in Germany and Belgium, he returned to England, and made his home for a short time at Camberwell, and thence in 1842 removed to St. John's Wood—at first to rooms at 17 Elm Tree Road, and in 1844 to a house of his own, “Devonshire Lodge,” in the Finchley Road—a house that the guide-books all tell us was demolished, but since I started to write this chapter the London County Council has identified as “Devonshire Lodge” the house that still stands in Finchley Road, immediately adjoining the Marlborough Road station of the Metropolitan Railway; and here it was that Hood died on the 3rd of May 1845.

 

TOM HOOD'S HOUSE. ST JOHN'S WOOD.

 

The room in which he worked at 17 Elm Tree Road gave him a view of Lord's Cricket Ground, and he complained that this was a drawback, because “when he was at work he could often see others at play.” He caricatured the landlady of the house, who had “a large and personal love of flowers,” and made her the heroine of his Mrs. Gardiner, A Horticultural Romance. From Elm Tree Road he went to attend the dinner at Greenwich that was given to Dickens on his second return from America; and describing this dissipation in a letter to a friend he says, “You will be pleased to hear that, in spite of my warnings and forebodings, I got better and betterer, till by dining, as the physicians did, on turtle soup, white-bait, and champagne, I seemed quite well.” He was to have been chairman at the dinner, but excused himself on the score of ill-health, and Captain Marryat took his place. The diners included, in addition to Dickens himself, Moncton Milnes, Forster, Clarkson Stanfield, Ainsworth, Landseer (another St. John's Wood resident), Cruikshank, Cattermole, “Ingoldsby” Barham, and Barry Cornwall. Being called upon for a speech, Hood said he supposed they drank his health because he was a notorious invalid, but assured the company that the trembling of his hand was neither from palsy nor ague, but that their wishes had already so improved his circulation and filled him with genial warmth that his hand had a natural inclination to shake itself with every one present. Whereupon everybody within reach, and some who were not, insisted upon shaking hands with him. “Very  gratifying, wasn't it?” he finishes his letter. “Though I cannot go quite so far as Jane, who wants me to have that hand chopped off, bottled, and preserved in spirits. She was sitting up for me, very anxiously, as usual when I go out, because I am so domestic and steady, and was down at the door before I could ring at the gate, to which Boz kindly sent me in his own carriage. Poor girl! what would  she do if she had a wild husband instead of a tame one.”

Dickens, at that date, lived at 1 Devonshire Terrace, Marylebone Road; they had probably driven up together from Greenwich, and the carriage had come the mile or so further on with Hood after leaving Dickens at his own door. Dickens was one of the many visitors who have helped to make Hood's St. John's Wood residence memorable; there is a record of his being there, with his wife and sister and Daniel Maclise, in December 1842. At Elm Tree Road, for all his broken health, Hood worked hard at editing and writing for the New Monthly Magazine, and, after resigning from that, for Hood's Monthly Magazine. One letter of his, dated from 17 Elm Tree Road, on the 18th July 1843, is headed “From my bed”; for he was frequently bedridden for days and weeks at a stretch, but sat propped up with pillows, writing and sketching with unabated industry. He was contributing also in these days to Punch, and to Douglas Jerrold's Illuminated Magazine. In November 1843 he wrote here, for Punch, his grim Drop of Gin :

“Gin! Gin! a drop of Gin!
What magnified monsters circle therein!
Ragged, and stained with filth and mud,
Some plague-spotted, and some with blood!
Shapes of misery, shame, and sin!
Figures that make us loathe and tremble,
Creatures scarce human, that more resemble
Broods of diabolical kin,
Ghost and vampyre, demon and Jin!...”

But a far greater poem than this, The Song of the Shirt, was also written at Elm Tree Road. “Now mind, Hood, mark my words,” said Mrs. Hood, when he was putting up the manuscript for the post, “this will tell wonderfully. It is one of the best things you ever did.” And the results justified her. The verses appeared in the Christmas Number of Punch  for 1843, and not only trebled the circulation of that paper, but within a very short time had at least doubled Hood's reputation, though Eugene AramThe Plea of the Midsummer Fairies, and Lycus the Centaur, had long preceded it. Probably no poem ever stirred the national conscience more deeply or created a profounder sensation. Shortly after its appearance Cowden Clarke met Hood, and has left a vivid description of his personal appearance in those last months of his life. His worn, pallid look, he says, “strangely belied the effect of jocularity and high spirits conveyed by his writings. He punned incessantly, but languidly, almost as if unable to think in any other way than in play upon words. His smile was attractively sweet; it bespoke the affectionate-natured man which his serious verses—those especially addressed to his wife or his children—show him to be, and it also revealed the depth of pathos in his soul that inspired his Bridge of SighsSong of the Shirt, and Eugene Aram.”

 

THOMAS HOOD

 

There are many interesting points of resemblance between Hood and Lamb. Both were inveterate punsters; each had known poverty, and had come through hard experiences that had left their marks upon them, yet had never soured them or warped their sympathies. You may use the same epithets for both: they were homely, kindly, gentle, given to freakish moods and whimsical jesting; the one was as unselfishly devoted to his sister as the other was to his wife and children; and in descriptions of Hood, as of Lamb, stress is laid on the peculiar wistfulness and sweetness of his smile. But after the East India Company had handsomely pensioned him off, Lamb had no further financial anxieties; whilst Hood had to suppress his finer gifts, and to the end of his days turn his hand to all manner of inferior but more popular work, that would enable him to keep the family pot boiling. And he was all the while fighting against disease as well as poverty. He could not afford to go into exile, like Stevenson, and lengthen his days and foster his wasting strength in a healthfuller climate. He was never rich enough to have any choice but to die in the place where he had to earn his living, and no man ever worked more manfully, or died at his post bravelier or with a more cheery philosophy.

Read the humorous preface he wrote for the volume of Hood's Own, whilst he lay ill abed there in his St. John's Wood house: it is the sort of humour that makes your heart ache, for you cannot forget that he was racked with pain and slowly dying whilst he wrote it. He jests about the aristocratic, ghastly slenderness of his fingers; his body, he says, may cry craven, but luckily his mind has no mind to give in. “‘Things may take a turn,' as the pig said on the spit.... As to health? it's the weather of the body—it rains, it hails, it blows, it snows at present, but it may clear up by-and-by”; and in conclusion he mentions that the doctor tells him, “anatomically my heart is lower hung than usual, but what of that? The more need to keep it up!” Raised up in bed, with an improvised desk across his knees, he was hard at work, writing prose and verse and knocking off grotesque little drawings, and remained, as he said, “a lively Hood to get a livelihood,” almost to his last hour. When, towards the end, his wife was trying to relieve his sufferings by putting a poultice on his emaciated body, he laughed up at her quizzically, and asked if she didn't think “it seemed a deal of mustard for such a little meat.” He had moved into Devonshire Lodge, and was within sixteen months of his death when he wrote The Haunted House, and The Bridge of Sighs. “I fear that so far as I myself am concerned,” he writes to Thackeray in August 1844, “King Death will claim me ere many months elapse. However, there's a good time coming, if not in this world, most assuredly in the next.” When he was invited next month to attend a soirée at the Manchester Athenæum, he had to decline, and added, “For me all long journeys are over save one”; but a couple of months later he had written the Lay of the Labourer, for his magazine, and writing to Lord Lytton remarked that though the doctor had ordered him not to work he was compelled to do so, and “so it will be to the end. I must die in harness, like a hero—or a horse.”

 

CHARLES DIBDIN. 34 ARLINGTON ROAD.

 

His dying hours were made easy by the pension of a hundred pounds that Sir Robert Peel kindly and tactfully settled on Mrs. Hood, and one of the last things he wrote on his lingering deathbed was avalediction that breathed all of resignation and hope:

“Farewell, Life! My senses swim
And the world is growing dim;
Thronging shadows cloud the light,
Like the advent of the night,—
Colder, colder, colder still
Upwards steals a vapour chill—
Strong the earthy odour grows—
I smell the Mould above the Rose!

Welcome, Life! The Spirit strives!
Strength returns, and hope revives;
Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn
Fly like shadows at the morn,—
O'er the earth there comes a bloom—
Sunny light for sullen gloom,
Warm perfume for vapour cold—
I smell the Rose above the Mould!”

Herbert Spencer lived in St. John's Wood for many years, at 7 Marlborough Gardens, 13 Loudon Road, and 64 Avenue Road successively. Within an easy walk of Avenue Road, at 34 Arlington Road, Camden Town, Charles Dibdin, whose memory survives in Tom Bowling, passed the last years of his life. And, back in St. John's Wood, at the Priory, 21 North Bank, in one of the numerous houses that were swept away when the Great Central Railway came to Marylebone, George Eliot lived from 1864 until 1880, when she removed to Chelsea. Before that, from 1860 till 1863, lived in a house in Blandford Square, which has also been demolished; but for nearly two years before going there she resided at Holly Lodge, which still survives, in the Wimbledon Park Road.

There is an entry in her Diary dated 6th February 1859: “Yesterday we went to take possession of Holly Lodge, which is to be our dwelling, we expect, for years to come. It was a deliciously fresh, bright day. I will accept the omen. A letter came from Blackwood telling me the result of the subscription to Adam Bede, which was published on the 1st: 730 copies, Mudie having taken 500 on the publisher's terms—10 per cent. off the sale price. At first he had stood out for a larger reduction, and would only take 50, but at last he came round. In this letter Blackwood tells me the first ab extra  opinion of the book, which happened to be precisely what I most desired. A cabinetmaker (brother to Blackwood's managing clerk) had read the sheets, and declared the writer must have been brought up to the business, or at least had listened to the workmen in their workshop.” She wrote that month to Miss Sara Hennell, “We are tolerably settled now, except that we have only a temporary servant; and I shall not be quite at ease until I have a trustworthy woman who will manage without incessant dogging. Our home is very comfortable, with far more vulgar indulgences in it than I ever expected to have again; but you must not imagine it a snug place, just peeping above the holly bushes. Imagine it rather as a tall cake, with a low garnish of holly and laurel. As it is, we are very well off, with glorious breezy walks, and wide horizons, well-ventilated rooms, and abundant water. If I allowed myself to have any longings beyond what is given, they would be for a nook quite in the country, far away from palaces—Crystal or otherwise—with an orchard behind me full of old trees, and rough grass and hedgerow paths among the endless fields where you meet nobody. We talk of such things sometimes, along with old age and dim faculties, and a small independence to save us from writing drivel for dishonest money.”

 

GEORGE ELIOT. WIMBLEDON PARK.

 

The “we” in these entries means, of course, herself and George Henry Lewes; they formed an irregular union in 1854, and lived as husband and wife until his death in 1878. In George Eliot's Journal and letters are a good many other references to her life at Holly Lodge, of which the most interesting are perhaps the following:

April 29th, 1859  (from the Journal): “Finished a story, The Lifted Veil, which I began one morning at Richmond as a resource when my head was too stupid for more important work. Resumed my new novel” (this was The Mill on the Floss ), “of which I am going to rewrite the two first chapters. I shall call it provisionally The Tullivers, or perhaps St. Ogg's on the Floss.”

May 6th  (from a letter to Major Blackwood): “Yes I am  assured now that Adam Bede  was worth writing—worth living through long years to write. But now it seems impossible to me that I shall ever write anything so good and true again. I have arrived at faith in the past but not faith in the future.”

May 19th  (from Journal): “A letter from Blackwood, in which he proposes to give me another £400 at the end of the year, making in all £1200, as an acknowledgment of Adam Bede's  success.”

June 8th  (from a letter to Mrs. Congreve): “I want to get rid of this house—cut cable and drift about. I dislike Wandsworth, and should think with unmitigated regret of our coming here if it were not for you.”

July 21st  (from the Journal, on returning after a holiday in Switzerland): “Found a charming letter from Dickens, and pleasant letters from Blackwood—nothing to annoy us.”

November 10th  (from the Journal): “Dickens dined with us to-day for the first time.”

December 15th  (from the Journal): “Blackwood proposes to give me for The Mill on the Floss, £2000 for 4000 copies of an edition at 31s. 6d., and afterwards the same rate for any more copies printed at the same price; £150 for 1000 at 12s.; and £60 for 1000 at 6s. I have accepted.”

January 3rd, 1860  (from a letter to John Blackwood): “We are demurring about the title. Mr. Lewes is beginning to prefer The House of Tulliver, or Life on the Floss, to our old notion of Sister MaggieThe Tullivers, or Life on the Floss  has the advantage of slipping easily off the lazy English tongue, but it is after too common a fashion (The NewcomesThe Bertrams, &c., &c.). Then there is The Tulliver Family, or Life on the Floss. Pray meditate and give us your opinion.”

January 16th, 1860  (from the Journal): “Finished my second volume this morning, and am going to send off the MS. of the first volume to-morrow. We have decided that the title shall be The Mill on the Floss.”

February 23rd  (from a letter to John Blackwood): “Sir Edward Lytton called on us yesterday. The conversation lapsed chiefly into monologue, from the difficulty I found in making him hear, but under all disadvantages I had an agreeable impression of his kindness and sincerity. He thinks the two defects of Adam Bede  are the dialect and Adam's marriage with Dinah, but of course I would have my teeth drawn rather than give up either.”

 

GEORGE ELIOT'S HOUSE. CHELSEA.

 

July 1st  (from a letter to Madame Bodichon, on returning to Holly Lodge after a two months' holiday in Italy): “We are preparing to renounce the delights of roving, and to settle down quietly, as old folks should do.... We have let our present house.”

One interesting memorial of the life at Holly Lodge is the MS. of The Mill on the Floss, on which is inscribed in George Eliot's handwriting: “To my beloved husband, George Henry Lewes, I give this MS. of my third book, written in the sixth year of our life together, at Holly Lodge, South Field, Wandsworth, and finished 21st March 1860.”

The publication of The Mill on the Floss, and, in the three succeeding years, of Silas Marner  and Romola, carried George Eliot to the height of her fame, and by the time she was living in North Bank, St. John's Wood, she had her little circle of adoring worshippers, who, like George Henry Lewes, took her very seriously indeed. That sort of hero-worship was customary in those days, unless the worshipped one had too strong a sense of humour to put up with it. There is a passage in the Autobiography of Mr. Alfred Austin giving a brief account of a visit he paid to George Eliot. “We took the first opportunity,” he says, “of going to call on her at her request in St. John's Wood. But there I found pervading her house an attitude of adoration, not to say an atmosphere almost of awe, thoroughly alien to my idea that persons of genius, save in their works, should resemble other people as much as possible, and not allow any special fuss to be made about them. I do not say the fault lay with her.” But you find the same circumstance spoken to elsewhere, and the general notion you gather is that George Eliot rather enjoyed this being pedestalled, and accepted the incense of her reverent little circle with a good deal of complacency.

In 1878 Lewes died, and in March 1880 George Eliot was married to John Cross. They left St. John's Wood on the 3rd of the following December and went to 4 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where George Eliot died on the 22nd of the same month.

The Old London Bridges

By J. Tavenor-Perry

"London Bridge is broken down,Dance o'er my Lady Lee.London Bridge is broken down With a gay Ladee."

t the beginning of the last century only three bridges spanned the Thames in its course through London, and of these two were scarcely fifty years old; but before the century closed there were no less than thirteen bridges across the river between Battersea and the Pool. The three old bridges have been rebuilt, and even some of the later ones have been reconstructed, whilst one has been removed bodily, and now spans the gorge of the Avon at Bristol. Of all these bridges unfortunately only two are constructed wholly of stone, and can lay claim to any architectural merit; and even one of these two has recently had the happy effect of its graceful arches destroyed by the addition of overhanging pathways. Of the rest, some are frankly utilitarian—mere iron girder railway bridges, with no attempt at decoration beyond gilding the rivets—whilst the others have their iron arches and construction disguised with coarse and meaningless ornaments. One only of the iron bridges is in anyway worthy of its position; in its perfect simplicity and the bold spans of its three arches, Southwark Bridge bears comparison with the best in Europe, but the gradients and approaches are so inconvenient that it is even now threatened with reconstruction.

Sir John Evelyn's Plan for Rebuilding London after the Great Fire.

Exactly when the first bridge was built across the Thames at London we can only surmise, for even tradition is silent on the subject, and we only know of the existence of one at an early date by very casual references, which, however, do not help us to realise the character of the work. Though no evidence remains of a Roman bridge, it seems unlikely, having regard to the importance of London, and to the fact that the great roads from the south coast converged on a point opposite to it, on the other side of the river, that they should have been left to end there without a bridge to carry them over. The difficulties of building across a great tidal river had not prevented the Romans from bridging the Medway at Rochester, as remains actually discovered have proved; and if no evidences of Roman work were actually met with in the rebuilding of London Bridge or the removal of the old one, this may be due to the fact that each successive bridge—and there have been at least three within historical times—was built some distance further up the stream than its predecessor.

We know, however, with certainty that a bridge was standing in the reign of King Ethelred from the references made to it, and we may fairly assume that this must have been the Roman bridge, at least so far as its main construction was concerned; and, like other Roman bridges standing at that time in Gaul and in other parts of England, it would have consisted merely of piers of masonry, with a wooden roadway passing from one to the other. It was still standing, of sufficient strength for resistance, when the Danes under Canute sailed up the river, who, being unable to force a passage, tradition says—and antiquaries have imagined they could discover traces of it—cut a ship canal through the Surrey marshes from Bermondsey to Battersea, and passed their fleet through that way.

Fig. 1—The Undercroft of St. Thomas of Canterbury on the Bridge.

The history of the bridge only opens with the beginning of the twelfth century. According to tradition,the convent of St. Mary Overie, Southwark, had been originally endowed with the profits of a ferry across the river, and had in consequence undertaken the duty of maintaining the bridge in a proper state of repair when a bridge was built. This convent was refounded in 1106 as a priory of Austin Canons; and it is not a little remarkable, having regard to the duties it had undertaken, that of its founders, who were two Norman Knights, one was William de Pont de l'Arche. At the Norman town, where stood his castle and from which he took his name, was a bridge of twenty-two openings, erected, it was said, by Charles the Bald, but most likely a Roman work, across the Seine at the highest point reached by the tide. It is a further curious coincidence that this same William appears as a witness to a deed executed by Henry I., excusing the manor of Alciston, in Sussex, from paying any dues for the repairs of London Bridge.

It is recorded that in 1136 the bridge was burnt, which may perhaps merely mean that the deck was destroyed, whilst the piers remained sufficiently uninjured to allow of the structure being repaired; but in 1163 it had become so dangerous that Peter of Colechurch undertook the erection of a new bridge, which he constructed of elm timber. This sudden emergence of Peter from obscurity to carry out so important an engineering work is as dramatic as is that of St. Bénezet, who founded the confraternity of Hospitaliers pontifices, which undertook the building of bridges and the establishment of ferries. According to legend, this saint, although then only a young shepherd, essayed to bridge the Rhone at Avignon, and the ruined arches of his great work are still among the sights of that city. Peter may have possessed many more qualifications for building than a shepherd could have acquired, as large ecclesiastical works were in progress in London throughout his life, which he must have observed and perhaps profited by; but this is only surmise, as of his history, except in connection with his great work, we know no more than the fact that he was the chaplain of St. Mary Colechurch. His contemporary, Randulphus de Decito, Dean of London, says that he was a native of the city, so that it is scarcely likely that he had acquired his skill abroad; but we are told that he traversed the country to collect the moneys for his undertaking, and he may thus have obtained some knowledge of the many Roman bridges which still survived, or even have seen the great bridge which Bishop Flambard had recently erected across the Wear at Durham. His selection as the architect of the earlier bridge of 1163 may perhaps not be due in any way to his especial engineering skill, but rather to some intimate connection with the priory of St. Mary Overie, whose canons were primarily responsible for the bridge repairs; indeed, since he is merely described as the chaplain of his church, he may himself have been one of the canons. But be the cause what it may—and it was not his success in erecting this first bridge, for it soon became dilapidated—thirteen years after its erection he started afresh, on a site further up the river, to erect a bridge of stone. In 1176, two years before St. Bénezet began his great bridge at Avignon, he commenced his work, and thirty-three years passed before its completion. Whether the delay was due to lack of funds or the incapacity of the architect we do not know, though probably to both, for before Peter's death King John, who had manifested considerable interest in the new bridge, had urged Peter's dismissal, and, under the advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury, suggested the appointment of Isembert of Saintes to complete the work. This Isembert was credited with the erection of the great bridge across the Charante at Saintes, although that bridge was undoubtedly a Roman one, and all he appears to have done was to turn arches between the original piers, and make it a stone bridge throughout. The same master was said to have built another bridge at La Rochelle, and had evidently gained much experience in such engineering work; and it is perhaps a misfortune that the King's advice was neglected, as a skilled architect, which Peter certainly was not, might have saved the city of London much eventual loss and trouble. Peter was, however, suffered to continue the bridge until his death in 1205, when a commission of three city merchants completed the work in four years.

The bridge which these many years of labour had produced was in every way unsuitable to its position, and mean as compared to similar buildings erected elsewhere. Lacking the skill to form proper foundations, Peter had spread them out into wide piers, which formed an almost continuous dam, through the openings in which the water rushed like a mill-race. The result was that the scour soon affected the stability of the piers, which had to be protected round by masses of masonry and chalk in the form of sterlings, which still further contracted the narrow waterways. The passage of the bridge by boat—"shooting the bridge," it was called—was always a dangerous operation; and a writer of the last century speaks of "the noise of the falling waters, the clamours of the water-men, and the frequent shrieks of drowning wretches," in describing it. So imperfectly built was the bridge that within four years of its completion King John again interfered, and called upon the Corporation properly to repair it; and from this time, or perhaps from Peter's death, when the three merchants were elected to complete the work, the Corporation appears to have taken over the responsibility of the bridge; and for this purpose they were endowed with certain properties, which became the nucleus of the present "Bridge House Estates." The increasing dilapidation of the bridge, the debris of fallen arches, and the rubbish and waste material which was suffered to accumulate, still further impeded the natural flow of the water, and little effort at improvement was ever made. Of the three widest arches of the bridge, which were called the navigable locks, the most important had been the one nearest to the city end, which became known as the "Rock Lock," and it acquired that name on account of a popular delusion that in its fairway was a growing and vegetating rock, which was nothing more than an accumulation of fallen ruins, which caught and held the floating refuse carried to and fro by the tides. And thus year after year the river dam became more solid, and the waterfall increased in height until it was said by one who knew them both that it was almost as safe to attempt the Falls of Niagara as to shoot London Bridge.

As years went by, not only did the waterways become congested, but the roadway above began to be encroached on by houses and other buildings, for which a bridge was most unfitted. Two edifices, however, from the first formed necessary, or at least customary, adjuncts to such a building—the bridge gate and the bridge chapel. It was a Roman custom to erect gates at one end, or in the centre of their bridges—not triumphal arches, but twin gates, such as they built to their walled towns, and such as stood at the end of the bridge at Saintes, when it was altered by Isembert. Such gates as survived in mediæval times were generally fortified, and formed the model for imitation by mediæval builders; and such a gate was erected at the Southwark end of London, which, under its name of Bridge Gate, became one of the principal gates of the city. It was erected directly on one of the main piers, and was therefore of a substantial character, but suffered much in the various attacks made upon London from the Kentish side. In 1436 it collapsed, together with the Southwark end of the bridge, but was rebuilt at the cost of the citizens, chief among whom was Sir John Crosby, the builder of Crosby House; and although the gate was again in great part destroyed by the attack on London made in 1471 by Fauconbridge, one of the towers of Crosby's gate survived until the eighteenth century. In 1577 the tower which stood at the north end of the bridge, and on which were usually displayed the heads of traitors, became so dilapidated that it was taken down, and the heads then on it were transferred to the Bridge Gate, henceforward known as "Traitors' Gate." It was upon the earlier gate that the head of Sir Thomas More was affixed, when heads were so common that even his, as we know from its adventures until buried in the Roper vault at Canterbury, was thrown into the river to make room for a crowd of successors.

Fig. 2—The Surrey End of London Bridge.

Of the chapel, which the founder of the bridge is said to have erected, no account survives; and although it was believed at the time of the destruction of the bridge that his remains were discovered, no satisfactory evidence of their identity was forthcoming. The first chapel must have perished in one of the early misfortunes which befel the fabric, as no trace of any detail which could be referred to the thirteenth century was discovered when the pier on which the chapel stood was removed. The drawings made by Vertue before the last remains were cleared away show a structure which may be assigned to a date but little later than the Chapel Royal of St. Stephen at Westminster, to which, in many particulars, it must have borne a considerable resemblance. It consisted of two storeys, both apparently vaulted, measuring some sixty by twenty feet, with an apsidal termination. The undercroft was nearly twenty feet high, and our illustration (fig. 1 ) of a restoration of it, prepared from Vertue's drawings and dimensions, will give some idea of its beauty. The upper chapel seems to have been similar, but much more lofty, and had an arcade running round the walls under the windows. The buttresses of the exterior were crowned with crocketted pinnacles, and the effect of the whole, standing high above the surging waters of the river, must have been as striking as it was beautiful. The chapel was built on the centre pier of the bridge, on the east side, and the chapels were entered from the roadway, the lower one by a newel staircase, on which was found the holy-water stoup when the bridge was destroyed in the last century. At the Reformation the church was converted into a warehouse, but, thanks to the solidity of its construction, it remained almost intact till it was swept away with the houses in 1756.

Of the other buildings on the bridge there is little to say, for, although they made up a picturesque composition, they were of a most flimsy character, and wanting at the last in any architectural merit. Our illustration (fig. 2 ), taken from an oil painting by Scott, belonging to the Fishmongers' Company, gives the principal group on the Surrey side, and in the sixth plate of Hogarth's Marriage a la Mode  we get a view through the open window of another part in the last stage of dilapidation. There was, however, one exception to the commonplace among them, in a timber house, made in Holland, which was known as "Nonsuch House." It was erected, it was said, without nails, and placed athwart the roadway, hanging at the ends far over the river, with towers and spires at the angles, and over the great gate the arms of Queen Elizabeth. The top of the main front was surmounted, at a later date, with a pair of sundials, which bore the, for once, appropriate motto—"Time and Tide wait for no man."

Had old London Bridge survived to this day, its waterfalls would doubtless have been utilized to generate electricity, and the idea of setting the Thames on fire realized in lighting the streets of London by its means; but the value of the force of the falling water was not overlooked by our ancestors. As early as 1582 one Peter Corbis, a Dutchman, erected an engine, worked by the stream, which lifted the water to a reservoir, whence it was distributed by means of leaden pipes through the city. With many alterations and improvements, these water works continued in use until the last century, and it was stated before the House of Commons, in 1820, that more than 26 millions of hogsheads of the pellucid waters of the river were thus daily delivered to the city householders for their domestic use.

Such, shortly, is the history of the fabric, which, after enduring for more than six hundred years, was swept away to make room for the present structure. For any accounts of the many stirring events which occurred on it, or about it, we have no space here. Are they not written in the chronicles of England?

In the Fishmongers' Hall is preserved a valuable memorial of the ancient structure, of which we give an illustration (fig. 3 ) by permission of the Worshipful Company. It consists of a chair with a seat of Purbeck marble, reminiscent in its arrangements of the coronation chair, on which is engraved this inscription:—

"I am the first stone that was put down for the foundation of old London Bridge in June 1176 by a priest named Peter who was vicar of Colechurch in London and I remained there undisturbed safe on the same oak piles this chair is made from till the Rev d.William John Jollife curate of Colmer Hampshire took me up in July 1832 when clearing away the old bridge after new London Bridge was completed."

The framework of the chair gives a pictorial chronicle of the city bridges; the top rail of the back shows old London Bridge after the removal of the houses, below which are new London Bridge, Southwark and old Blackfriars Bridges. The arms of the city are carved at the top, whilst the monogram of Peter of Colechurch and the device of the Bridge House Estates complete the decoration. This device, which appears to have been also the old badge of Southwark, was sometimes displayed upon a shield, thus:—Az., an annulet ensigned with a cross patée, Or; interlaced with a saltire enjoined in base, of the second. We give an illustration of this in figure 5 .

Fig. 3—The Foundation Stone Chair.

At the Fishmongers' Hall.

Westminster Bridge seems a very recent structure as compared to that of London, but it is the next in point of date. The growing importance of Westminster as the seat of the Court and Parliament had made the necessity for an approach to the south side of the Thames, independent of the circuitous and narrow ways of London, long apparent. In the reign of Charles II. the question was seriously considered, to the alarm of the Mayor and Corporation of the city, who feared that their vested interests were endangered, and "that London would be destroyed if carts were allowed to cross the Thames elsewhere"; but, knowing their man, they devoted some of their ample funds to secure that monarch's successful opposition to the scheme. In the middle of the eighteenth century, however, when there was no Stuart to buy off, the idea was revived, and in 1739, one Monsieur Labelye, a Swiss engineer—English engineers having, apparently, not sufficient experience—commenced a new stone bridge. His mode of putting in his foundations may have been scientific, but was certainly simple. The bridge piers were partly built in floating barges moored above the place where they were to be permanently erected. The barges were then sunk, their sides knocked out, and the piers completed. It is needless to say that the result was not satisfactory, and for years before the old bridge was pulled down many of its arches were filled up with a picturesque, but inconvenient, mass of shoring. Whether Henry, Earl of Pembroke, who laid the foundation stone, and of whom it was said no nobleman had a purer taste in architecture, was in any way responsible for the design, we cannot tell; but a French traveller of discrimination, who criticised the work after its completion, came to the conclusion that the peculiarly lofty parapets with which the bridge was adorned were so designed that they might check an Englishman's natural propensity to suicide by giving him time for reflection while surmounting such anobstacle. It will be noticed in our illustration (fig. 4 ), which is also taken from a painting by Scott, that the piers are crowned by alcoves, which provided a shelter from the blasts which blew over the river and from the mud scattered from the roadway. These were, doubtless, a survival of the spaces left above the cutwaters of mediæval bridges as refuges for pedestrians from vehicles when the roadways were very narrow, and those who remember the old wooden bridges of Battersea and Putney can appreciate their value.

The city Corporation, which had so strenuously opposed the erection of a bridge at Westminster as unnecessary, set to work, as soon as that became an accomplished fact, to improve their own communications across the river. First, as we have seen, they cleared away the houses and other obstructions on old London Bridge, and next they started to build themselves a new bridge at Blackfriars. The land on both sides of the river at the point selected was very low and most unsuitable for the approaches, that on the north side being close to the mouth of the Fleet ditch, which there formed a creek large enough, in 1307, to form a haven for ships. The new bridge was begun in 1760, from the designs of Robert Mylne, a Scotch architect, who made an unsuccessful attempt to give an architectural effect to the structure by facing the piers with pairs of Ionic columns, standing on the cutwaters. The steep gradients of the bridge, necessitated by the lowness of the banks, made such a decoration peculiarly unsuitable, as each pair of columns had to be differently proportioned in height, although the cornice over them remained of the same depth throughout. But, in spite of its appearance of lightness, the structure was too heavy for its foundations, and for years this bridge rivalled that of Westminster in the picturesqueness of its dilapidation. The piers had been built on platforms of timber, so that when London Bridge was rebuilt, and the river flowed in an unchecked course, these became exposed to the scour and were soon washed out.

Fig. 4—Old Westminster Bridge.

Waterloo Bridge was completed in 1817, and still remains unaltered and as sound as when its builders left it. It is fortunate that the approach on the north side was an easy one, as but a short interval occurred between the Strand, at almost its highest point, and the river bank, which it was easy to fill up, with the result that the bridge passes across the river at a perfect level. The foundations of the piers were properly constructed by means of coffer-dams, and no sign of failure has ever shown itself in its superstructure. The architect repeated the use of the orders, as at Blackfriars, but with a more fortunate result, as, the work being straight throughout, no variations in the proportions were required, and he was wise enough to select the Doric order as more suitable to his purpose, and as suggesting more solidity.

Londoners profess to be somewhat proud of Waterloo Bridge, and it is a tradition among them that Canova, when he saw it, said that it was worth a journey across Europe to see. It, therefore, seems the more incredible that the grandchildren of those who could build such a bridge and appreciate such a man, could have erected, and even affect to admire, such a monstrosity as the Tower Bridge.

The last of the older bridges to be built was that of Southwark, which was the speculation of a private company, who hoped to profit by the continuously congested state of London Bridge; but the steepness of the gradients and the inconvenience of the approaches from the city made it from the first a failure. It was the first bridge in London to be constructed in iron; its model being the great single-span bridge across the Wear at Sunderland. It is in three great arches, the centre one being 240 feet across, or four feet more than that at Sunderland, and the mass of metal is such that an ordinary change of temperature will raise the arches an inch, and summer sunshine much more.

Of the more recent bridges there is nothing to say worth the saying. The Thames, which was the busy and silent highway of our forefathers, is still silent, but busy no longer, and the appearance of its bridges is now no one's concern, since no one sees them. So long as they will safely carry the tramcar or the motor 'bus from side to side, they may become uglier even than they now are, if only that make them a little more cheap.

Fig. 5—Badge of Bridge House Estates.

BLAKE AND FLAXMAN

Ten years before Boswell went to live at 56 Great Queen Street, William Blake was serving an apprenticeship to James Basire, the well-known engraver, whose house was close by at No. 31 in the same street. Basire's residence has gone the way of all bricks and mortar; but happily Soho still preserves the corner house at No. 28 Broad Street, in which Blake was born. He was born there on the 28th November 1857, over his father's hosiery shop, and it was there that the first of his strange visions came to him; for he used to say that when he was only four years old he one day saw the face of God at the window looking in upon him, and the sight set him a-screaming. When he was four or five years older, you hear of him taking long rambles into the country; and it was on Peckham Rye that other visions came to him. Once he saw a tree there “filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars”; and once, on a summer morning, he saw “the haymakers at work, and amid them angelic figures walking.” In his matter-of-fact fashion he recounted the first of these two visions on his return home, and his mother had to intervene to prevent the honest hosier and conscientious Nonconformist, his father, from thrashing him for telling a lie.

At the age of ten Blake was journeying to and from the house in Broad Street to Mr. Paris's academy in the Strand, taking drawing lessons. He was already writing poetry, too, and before he was fourteen had written one of the most beautiful and glitteringly imaginative of his lyrics:—

“How sweet I roamed from field to field,
And tasted all the summer's pride,
Till I the Prince of Love beheld
Who in the sunny beams did glide.

He showed me lilies for my hair,
And blushing roses for my brow;
He led me through his gardens fair
Where all his golden pleasures grow.

With sweet May-dews my wings were wet,
And Phoebus fired my vocal rage;
He caught me in his silken net,
And shut me in his golden cage.

He loves to sit and hear me sing,
Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;
Then stretches out my golden wing,
And mocks my loss of liberty.”

In a preface to his first published volume, the Poetical Sketches, which contains this lyric, his Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter verses, “My Silks and fine Array,” and other lovely songs, he says that all the contents were “commenced in his twelfth, and occasionally resumed by the author till his twentieth year.” From fourteen till he was twenty-one Blake was living away from home with his master, Basire, the engraver; then he went back to his father's, and commenced to study at the recently formed Royal Academy, and in 1780 exhibited his first picture there, “The Death of Earl Godwin.” Marrying in 1782, he set up housekeeping for himself at 23 Green Street, Leicester Square, and began to move abroad in literary society. Flaxman, already his friend, introduced him to Mrs. Mathew, a lady of blue-stocking tendencies, who held a sort of salon at 27 Rathbone Place; and here, in 1784, “Rainy Day” Smith made his acquaintance. “At Mrs. Mathew's most agreeable conversaziones,” he says, “I first met the late William Blake, to whom she and Mr. Flaxman had been truly kind. There I have often heard him read and sing several of his poems. He was listened to by the company with profound silence, and allowed by most of his listeners to possess original and extraordinary merit.” He knew nothing of musical technique, but sang some of his verses to airs that Smith describes as “singularly beautiful.” His republican opinions and general unorthodoxy and daring outspokenness, however, did not make for social amenity, and it was not long before he dropped out of these elegant circles, and withdrew to his mystic dreamings and the production of paintings and poetry that the majority could not understand. A strangely beautiful and wonderful Bird of Paradise to break from the nest over that hosier's shop at the corner of Broad Street, Soho!

 

BLAKE'S HOUSE. SOHO.

 

When his father died, in 1784, Blake's brother James took over and continued the business; and in the same year Blake himself opened the shop next door (No. 27) as an engraver and printseller, in partnership with James Parker, who had been one of his fellow-apprentices under Basire. Here he had his younger brother, Robert, with him as a pupil; and he used to say that when Robert died, in 1787, he saw his soul ascend through the ceiling, “clapping its hands for joy.” Falling out with Parker, Blake removed, in this year of his brother's death, to 28 Poland Street, near by, where he said Robert's spirit remained in communion with him, and directed him, “in a nocturnal vision, how to proceed in bringing out poems and designs in conjunction”; and the Songs of Innocence, published in 1789, was the result of this inspiration. The method, as Alexander Gilchrist has it, “consisted in a species of engraving in relief both words and designs. The verse was written, and the designs and marginal embellishments outlined on the copper with an impervious liquid. Then all the white parts, or lights (the remainder of the plate, that is), were eaten away with aquafortis or other acid, so that the outline of letter and design was left prominent, as in stereotype. From these plates he printed off in any tint required to be the prevailing (or ground) colour in his facsimiles; red he used for the letterpress. The page was then coloured up by hand in imitation of the original drawing, with more or less variety of detail in the local hues.” A process of mixing his colours with diluted glue was revealed to him by St. Joseph. Mrs. Blake often helped him in tinting the designs, and it was her work to bind the books in boards. In the same year (1789) he put forth the finest of his long mystical poems, The Book of Thel.

Leaving Poland Street in 1793, Blake moved across London to Lambeth, and made himself a new home at 13 Hercules Buildings. Gilchrist, one of his earliest biographers, made a mistake in his identification of this house, and until a year or two ago it was believed that Blake's residence in that place had been pulled down. On a recent investigation of the Lambeth rate-books by the County Council authorities, however, it became clear that, instead of being on the west side of the street, as Gilchrist supposed, No. 13 was on the east side, next door but one to Hercules Hall Yard. Somewhere between 1830 and 1842 the whole road was renumbered, and Blake's house had become No. 63, and was in 1890 renumbered again, and became, and is still, No. 23 Hercules Road. Whilst he was living here, Mr. Thomas Butts, of Fitzroy Square, became his most liberal and most constant patron; and on calling at Hercules Buildings one day, Mr. Butts says he found Blake and his wife sitting naked in their summer-house. “Come in!” Blake greeted him. “It's only Adam and Eve, you know.” But Mr. Butts never took this as evidence of Blake's madness: he and his wife had simply been reciting passages of Paradise Lost  in character.

 

BLAKE. 23 HERCULES ROAD.

 

At Hercules Buildings Blake did a large number of paintings and engravings, including the 537 coloured drawings for Young's Night Thoughts, and some of the greatest of his designs, such as the “Job” and “Ezekiel” prints; and here, too, he completed certain of his Prophetic Books, with their incomprehensible imagery and allegory, and what Swinburne has called their “sunless and sonorous gulfs.” From Hercules Buildings also came “Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in the forests of the night,” and the rest of the Songs of Experience. Then, in 1800, Hayley, the poet of the dull and unreadable Triumphs of Temper, persuaded him to move into the country and settle down in a cottage at Felpham; from which, because he said “the visions were angry with me at Felpham,” he returned to London early in 1804, and took lodgings on the first floor of 17 South Moulton Street, Oxford Street.

 

BLAKE'S HOUSE. SOUTH MOULTON ST.

 

Nevertheless, at Felpham he must have been working on his Jerusalem, and on Milton, A Poem in Two Books, for these were issued shortly after his arrival in South Moulton Street. He writes of Jerusalem  in one of his letters: “I have written this poem from immediate dictation, twelve, or sometimes twenty or thirty, lines at a time, without premeditation, and even against my will”; and in a later letter, speaking of it as “the grandest poem that this world contains,” he excuses himself by remarking, “I may praise it, since I dare not pretend to be any other than the secretary—the authors are in eternity.” Much of Jerusalem  is turgid, obscure, chaotic, and so impossible to understand that Mr. Chesterton declares that when Blake said “that its authors were in eternity, one can only say that nobody is likely to go there to get any more of their work.” But it is in this poem that Blake introduces those verses “To the Jews,” setting forth that Jerusalem once stood in—

“The fields from Islington to Marybone,
To Primrose Hill and Saint John's Wood,”

and that then—

“The Divine Vision still was seen,
Still was the human form divine;
Weeping in weak and mortal clay,
O Jesus! still the form was Thine.

And Thine the human face; and Thine
The human hands, and feet, and breath,
Entering through the gates of birth,
And passing through the gates of death”;

and in Jerusalem  you have his lines “To the Deists,” the first version of his ballad of the Grey Monk, with its great ending:—

“For a tear is an intellectual thing,
And a sigh is the sword of an Angel King,
And the bitter groan of a martyr's woe
Is an arrow from the Almighty's bow.”

For my part, I wish it were possible for some of our living poets to go again to those authors in eternity and get some more of such stuff as this, even if we had to have it embedded in drearier lumps of nonsense than you find in Jerusalem.

Blake's wife, daughter of a market-gardener, a woman so uneducated that she had to sign the marriage register with her mark, was not only an excellent housekeeper and domestic drudge, but was in perfect sympathy with him in his work, and had the greatest faith in his visions. Moses, Julius Cæsar, the Builder of the Pyramids, David, Uriah, Bathsheba, Solomon, Mahomet, Joseph, and Mary—these were among Blake's spiritual visitants at South Moulton Street. They came and sat to him, and he worked at their portraits, “looking up from time to time as though he had a real sitter before him.” Sometimes he would leave off abruptly, and observe in matter-of-fact tones, “I can't go on. It is gone; I must wait till it returns”; or, “It has moved; the mouth is gone”; or, “He frowns. He is displeased with my portrait of him.” If any one criticised and objected to the likeness he would reply calmly, “It must  be right. I saw it so.” In all probability he meant no more than that he conjured up these sitters to his mind's eye; but his friends took him literally, and he acquiesced in their doing so, and has been dubbed a madman in consequence.

Many times his wife would get up in the nights “when he was under his very fierce inspirations, which were as if they would tear him asunder, while he was yielding himself to the Muse, or whatever else it could be called, sketching and writing. And so terrible a task did this seem to be that she had to sit motionless and silent, only to stay him mentally, without moving hand or foot; this for hours, and night after night.” It is not easy to realise that this burning, fiery spirit did once live in these South Moulton Street rooms, surrounded by his vivid and terrific imaginings, and then could pass out of it and leave it looking so dull and decorous, so ordinary, so entirely commonplace. But here he indubitably lived, so discouraged by neglect and hampered by poverty that he could not afford to issue any more large books like the Jerusalem, and in 1809 made a desperate attempt to appeal to the public by holding an exhibition of his frescoes and drawings on the first floor of his brother's hosiery shop in Broad Street. Very few visitors attended; but among the few was Lamb's friend, Crabb Robinson, and when he went he had the room to himself. He paid for admission, recognised that these pictures were the work of no ordinary artist, and bought four of the catalogues, one of which he sent to Lamb; and when, on leaving, he asked the custodian whether he might come again free, James Blake, delighted at having a visitor, and one, moreover, who had bought something, cried, “Oh yes—free as long as you live!” But the exhibition was a failure. The popular painters of Blake's day were Reynolds, Gainsborough, and men of their schools. Blake was born out of his time, and contemporary society had nothing in common with him—no comprehension of his aim or his outlook—and dismissed him as an astonishing lunatic. When some drawings of his were shown to George III., his Majesty could only gaze at them helplessly and ejaculate a testy “Take them away! take them away!” The noble designs for Blair's Grave, and the frescoes of The Canterbury Pilgrimage, were among the important works done at South Moulton Street, which Blake quitted in 1821, making his last change of residence to 3 Fountain Court, Strand—a house kept by his brother-in-law, Baines. Here he occupied a room on the first floor for some six years, and when he was nearing his seventieth year, died, after a short illness, on Sunday, the 12th August 1827. He lay dying in his plain back room, serene and cheerful, singing songs to melodies that were the inspiration of the moment; towards evening he fell silent, and passed quietly away, a poor woman, a neighbour who had come in to sit with his wife, saying afterwards, “I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed angel.”

You have only to look at the portraits of Blake, at the broad forehead—the forehead of a revolutionary, as he himself said—the sensitive mouth, the large, intent, vision-haunted eyes, to know that his outward appearance fairly adequately revealed the manner of man that he really was. He was under five feet six in height and thick-set, but so well proportioned that he did not strike people as short. “He had an upright carriage,” says Gilchrist, “and a good presence; he bore himself with dignity, as not unconscious of his natural claims. The head and face were strongly stamped with the power and character of the man. There was a great volume of brain in that square, massive head, that piled-up brow, very full and rounded at the temples, where, according to phrenologists, ideality or imagination resides. His eyes were fine (‘wonderful eyes,' some one calls them), prominently set, but bright, spiritual, visionary—not restless or wild, but with a look of clear, heavenly exaltation. The eyes of some of the old men in his Job  recall his own to surviving friends. His nose was insignificant as to size, but had that peculiarity which gives to a face an expression of fiery energy, as of a high-mettled steed—a little clenched  nostril, a nostril that opened as far as it could, but was tied down at one end. His mouth was wide, the lips not full, but tremulous, and expressive of the great sensibility which characterised him. He was short-sighted, as the prominence of his eyes indicated—a prominence in keeping with the faculty for languages, according to phrenologists again. He wore glasses only occasionally.” His poverty forced him to study economy in the matter of dress. Indoors he was not slovenly, but generally wore a threadbare old suit, the grey trousers of which had been rubbed black and shiny in front like a mechanic's. When he walked abroad he was more careful, and dressed plainly but well, something in the style of an old-fashioned tradesman, in black knee-breeches and buckles, black worsted stockings, shoes that tied, and a broad-brimmed hat.

But for a memorable description of Blake in his habit as he lived, you must read this letter that was written to Gilchrist by Samuel Palmer, who knew him intimately in his latter years:—

“Blake, once known, could never be forgotten.... In him you saw at once the maker, the inventor; one of the few in any age; a fitting companion for Dante. He was a man ‘without a mask'; his aim single, his path straightforwards, and his wants few; so he was free, noble, and happy. His voice and manner were quiet, yet all awake with intellect. Above the tricks of littleness, or the least taint of affectation, with a natural dignity which few would have dared to affront, he was gentle and affectionate, loving to be with little children and talk about them. ‘That is heaven,' he said to a friend, leading him to a window and pointing to a group of them at play.

“Declining, like Socrates, whom in many respects he resembled, the common objects of ambition, and pitying the scuffle to obtain them, he thought no one could be truly great who had not humbled himself ‘even as a little child.' This was a subject he loved to dwell upon and to illustrate. His eye was the finest I ever saw; brilliant, but not roving, clear and intent, yet susceptible; it flashed with genius, or melted in tenderness. It could also be terrible.... Nor was the mouth less expressive, the lips flexible and quivering with feeling. I can yet recall it when, on one occasion, dwelling upon the exquisite beauty of the parable of the Prodigal, he began to repeat a part of it; but at the words, ‘When he was yet a great way off his father saw him,' he could go no further; his voice faltered, and he was in tears.

“He was one of the few to be met with in our passage through life who are not in some way or other double-minded and inconsistent with themselves; one of the very few who cannot be depressed by neglect, and to whose name rank and station could add no lustre. Moving apart, in a sphere above the attraction of worldly honours, he did not accept greatness, but conferred it. He ennobled poverty, and, by his conversation and the influence of his genius, made two small rooms in Fountain Court more attractive than the threshold of princes.”

One of Blake's warmest friends for many years was the great sculptor, John Flaxman. With none of Blake's lawless, glowing imagination, Flaxman's drawings in his illustrations to Homer, and his designs on some of the Wedgwood pottery, have a classical correctness—a cold, exquisite beauty of outline—that are more suggestive of the chisel than of the pencil or the brush; and it is in the splendid sculptures with which he has beautified Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, and many other of our cathedrals and churches that his genius found its highest expression. In his work as an artist Blake was largely influenced by Flaxman. They and Stothard used to meet at Mrs. Mathew's; but there came a day when the friendship between these three was broken. Blake thought Flaxman had appropriated one of his designs, and there seems no doubt that Stothard did so, on the prompting of an unscrupulous picture-dealer; and you have Blake lampooning them both, as well as Hayley, with whom he had also fallen out, in epigrams that were not always just, and probably represented nothing worse than a passing mood, as thus:—

“My title as a genius thus is proved:
Not praised by Hayley, nor by Flaxman loved.”

“I found them blind, I taught them how to see,
And now they know neither themselves nor me.”

To Flaxman.
“You call me mad; 'tis folly to do so,—
To seek to turn a madman to a foe.
If you think as you speak, you are an ass;
If you do not, you are but what you was.”

To the same.
“I mock thee not, though I by thee am mocked;
Thou call'st me madman, but I call thee blockhead.”

Flaxman was not, like Blake, a born Londoner, but his family came from York, and settled down in London when he was six months old. His father had a shop in New Street, Covent Garden, where he made and sold plaster casts. Flaxman emerged from a sickly childhood, and developed into a sufficiently wiry and energetic man, though he remained feeble in appearance, so high-shouldered as to seem almost deformed, with a head too large for his body, and a queer sidelong gait in walking. He married in 1782, and, after living for five years in a very small house at 27 Wardour Street, Soho—where he was elected collector of the watch-rate for the parish—he and his wife went to Italy, and spent seven years in Rome. Whilst he was there he fulfilled a commission for Romney, and collected and sent over to England a selection of casts from the antique, that Romney required for the use of students in his Hampstead painting-room.

Returning from Italy in 1794, Flaxman took up residence at 17 Buckingham Street, Euston Road, and lived here through all his most famous years, till he died in 1826. Blake visited him here, and Haydon, and other of his artistic circle; for though he went little into society, he was unpretentiously hospitable, fond of entertaining his chosen friends, greatly esteemed and beloved by his pupils, models, and servants, and the poor of the neighbourhood, especially the children. He went about among the latter habitually, filling his sketch-book with drawings of them, and invariably carrying a pocketful of coppers to drop into the small grubby hands that were ready to receive them.

The district hereabouts has degenerated since Flaxman's day. His house was dull, insignificant, rather mean-looking, and now it looks more so than ever, amid its grimy surroundings—a pinched, old, dreary little house, that is yet transfigured when you remember the glorious visitors who have crossed its threshold, and that it was at this same dead door the postman knocked one day near the end of September 1800 and delivered this letter from Blake, who was then newly gone out of London and had not had time to begin to grow tired of his cottage at Felpham:—

Dear Sculptor of Eternity ,—We are safe arrived at our cottage, which is more beautiful than I thought it, and more convenient.... Mr. Hayley received us with his usual brotherly affection. I have begun to work. Felpham is a sweet place for study, because it is more spiritual than London. Heaven opens here on all sides her golden gates; her windows are not obstructed by vapours; voices of celestial inhabitants are more distinctly heard, and their forms more distinctly seen; and my cottage is also a shadow of their houses. My wife and sister are both well, courting Neptune for an embrace....

 

FLAXMAN'S HOUSE. BUCKINGHAM STREET. EUSTON ROAD.

 

“And now begins a new life, because another covering of earth is shaken off. I am more famed in heaven for my works than I could well conceive. In my brain are studies and chambers filled with books and pictures of old, which I wrote and painted in ages of eternity before my mortal life; and these works are the delight and study of archangels. Why then should I be anxious about the riches and fame of mortality? The Lord our Father will do for us and with us according to His divine will, for our good.

“You, O dear Flaxman, are a sublime archangel—my friend and companion from eternity. In the divine bosom is our dwelling-place. I look back into the regions of reminiscence, and behold our ancient days, before this earth appeared in its vegetable mortality to my mortal vegetated eyes. I see our houses of eternity, which can never be separated, though our mortal vehicles should stand at the remotest corners of heaven from each other.

“Farewell, my best friend. Remember me and my wife in love and friendship to our dear Mrs. Flaxman, whom we ardently desire to entertain beneath our thatched roof of rusted gold.”

Later, when they quarrelled, Flaxman was not an archangel, but a blockhead and an ass; but that quarrel is not to be taken too seriously. Their houses of eternity were not separated, though their mortal vehicles were estranged; and it was on hearing Flaxman was dead that Blake said finely, “I can never think of death but as a going out of one room into another.”

The Clubs of London

By Sir Edward Brabrook, C.B., F.S.A.

hese are of many kinds. We suppose they are all more or less the lineal descendants of the taverns and coffee-houses that we associate with the memory of Ben Jonson, Dryden, Addison, and Samuel Johnson.

"Souls of poets dead and gone,What elysium have ye known,Happy field or mossy cavern,Choicer than the Mermaid tavern?"

The wits' coffee-house, where Claud Halcro carried a parcel for Master Thimblethwaite in order to get a sight of glorious John Dryden. Button's coffee-house, where the "Guardian" set up his Lion's Head. The Cock and the Cheshire Cheese, which resound with Johnson's sonorous echoes. If, indeed, the tavern has developed into the club, that palace of luxury, one can only say, as in the famous transmutation of alphana to equus, "C'est diablement changé sur la route."

Intermediate is the host of clubs meeting occasionally, as the Breakfast Club, and the numerous dining clubs, one of which, the Royal Naval Club, established in 1765, is said to be a renewal of an earlier one dating from 1674. "The Club," which comes down from the time of Johnson and Reynolds, and still uses a notification to a new member drawn up by Gibbon; the Royal Society Club; the X Club, which consisted of ten members of the Athenæum; the Society of Noviomagus, and the Cocked Hat Club,consisting of members of the Society of Antiquaries; the Cosmos Club of the Royal Geographical Society; the Colquhoun Club of the Royal Society of Literature; and a host of others in connection with learned societies, most of which are content to add the word "club" to the name of the society. Of another, but cognate, kind is the famous "Sublime Society of Beef Steaks," which was founded in 1735, and died (of inanition) in 1867. The members were not to exceed twenty-four in number. Beef steaks were to be the only meat for dinner. The broiling began at 2.0, and the tablecloth was removed at 3.30. In 1785 the Prince of Wales, in 1790 the Duke of York, in 1808 the Duke of Sussex, became members. It had a laureate bard in the person of Charles Morris, elected a member in 1785, who died in 1838 at the age of 93 years. In early times the members appeared in the uniform of a blue coat and buff waistcoat, with brass buttons bearing a gridiron and the motto "Beef and Liberty." The hour of meeting became later gradually, till in 1866 it was fixed at 8 o'clock; then the club quickly died out. Founded by John Rich, harlequin and machinist at Covent Garden, it had counted among its members William Hogarth, David Garrick, John Wilkes, John Kemble, William Linley, Henry Brougham (Lord Chancellor), and many other distinguished men. The Ettrick Shepherd gave an account, in 1833, of a visit he paid to this club:—

"They dine solely on beefsteaks—but what glorious beefsteaks! They do not come up all at once—no, nor half-a-dozen times; but up they come at long intervals, thick, tender, and as hot as fire. And during these intervals the members sit drinking their port, and breaking their wicked wit on each other, so that every time a new service of steaks came up, we fell to them with much the same zest as at the beginning. The dinner was a perfect treat—a feast without alloy."

Another somewhat similar club, though on a more modest scale, deserves a cursory notice, inasmuch as it had to do with a state of things that has passed away beyond hope of recovery. About 1870 the August Society of the Wanderers was established with the motto, "Pransuri vagamur." It selected all the remaining old inns at which a dinner could be obtained, and dined at each in succession. It also had a bard, Dr. Joseph Samuel Lavies, and, like the Beefsteaks, has left a poetic record of its convivialities. Of all such records, however, the salt quickly evaporates, and it is as well to leave them unquoted.

Our main object in this chapter is to state a few incidents in the history of some of the great London clubs. The oldest existing club appears to be White's, founded in 1697. Boodle's, Brooks's, the Cocoa Tree, and Arthur's date from 1762 to 1765. Most of the others belong to the nineteenth century. The Guards' Club, which was the first of the service clubs, dates from 1813, but that is confined to officers of the Brigade of Guards. It was soon, however, followed by the establishment of a club for officers of other branches of military service.

We have it on good authority that before that club was founded officers who came to London had no places of call but the old hotels and coffee-houses. On May 31st, 1815, General Lord Lynedoch, Viscount Hill, and others united in the establishment of a General Military Club. On the 24th January, 1816, it was extended to the Navy, and on the 16th February in the same year it adopted the name of the United Service Club. On the 1st March, 1817, the foundation stone of its house in Charles Street was laid. In November, 1828, it entered into occupation of its present house in Pall Mall, and handed over the Charles Street house to the Junior United Service Club. Its premises in Pall Mall were largely extended in 1858-59, and have recently been greatly improved at a cost of £20,000. The Club holds a lease from the Crown to 4th January, 1964. It has a fine collection of eighty-two pictures and busts, many of them of great merit as works of art, others of interest as the only portraits of the originals. The library contains several splendid portraits of Royal personages. The King is the patron of the Club, and, as Prince of Wales, was a member of it. The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Connaught, and Prince Christian, are now members. Ten high officers of state and persons of distinction are honorary members. Twelve kings and thirty princes are foreign honorary members. The number of ordinary members is 1,600, but officers below the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy, or Major in the Army, are not eligible. The entrance fee is £30, and the annual subscription £10. Members have the privilege of introducing guests. Games of hazard are not allowed to be played, or dice to be used. Play is not to exceed 2s. 6d. points at whist, or 10s. per hundred at bridge.

As we have seen, this club shortly became full, and a Junior United Service Club was formed in April, 1827, on the same lines, under the patronage of the Duke of Wellington, but admitted officers of junior rank, and in 1828 entered into occupation of the premises in Charles Street, vacated by the Senior, on payment of £15,000. It erected its new house in 1856 at a cost of £81,000. The entrance fee is £40, and annual subscription eight guineas. It was not many years after its establishment that the list of candidates for membership of the Junior Club became so long that the necessity for the establishment of a third service club was felt. Sir E. Barnes and a few officers, just returned from India, joined in the movement, and in 1838 the Army and Navy Club was opened at the corner of King Street and St. James's Square—the house memorable as the scene of the party given by Mrs. Boehm on the night the news of the Battle of Waterloo arrived. Sir E. Barnes, who was its first president, died the same year. In 1851 the club moved to its present stately building, the site of which includes that of a house granted by Charles II. on the 1st of April, in the seventeenth year of his reign, to Nell Gwynne, where Evelyn saw him in familiar discourse with her. The club possesses a mirror that belonged to her, and a portrait by Sir Peter Lely, which was supposed to be of her, until it was discovered to be one of Louise de Querouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth, and is also rich in pictures, statuary, and other works of art—among them, two fine mantelpieces carved by Canova, and a miniature of Lady Hamilton found in Lord Nelson's cabin after his death; it has also autograph letters of Nelson and Wellington. It derives its popular name of the "Rag and Famish" from a tradition that Captain Duff came late one night asking for supper, and being discontented with the bill of fare, called it a rag and famish affair. In memory of the event he designed a button which used to be worn by many members, and bore the device of a ragged man devouring a bone. Napoleon III. was an honorary member of the club, and frequently used it. He presented it with a fine piece of Gobelin tapestry in 1849. The regular number of members is 2,400. The club has a scheme for granting annuities or pensions to its servants.

Of the group of social clubs bearing names derived from the original proprietors of the club-houses—as White's, Boodle's, Brooks's, and Arthur's—Brooks's may be taken as a specimen. A roll of its members from the date of its foundation in 1764 to 1900 has recently been published under the title Memorials of Brooks's, and contains much interesting information. The editors, Messrs. V. A. Williamson, S. Lyttelton and S. Simeon, state that the first London Clubs were instituted with the object of providing the world of fashion with a central office for making wagers, and a registry for recording them. In their early days gambling was unlimited. Brooks's was not political in its origin. The twenty-seven original members included the Dukes of Roxburgh, Portland, and Gordon. In the 136 years 3,465 members have been admitted.

The original house was on or near the site of the present Marlborough Club, and Almack was the first manager or master. About 1774 he was succeeded by Brooks, from whom the club derives its name. He died in 1782, and was succeeded by one Griffin. In 1795 the system was altered, and six managers were appointed. The present house in St. James' Street was constructed in 1889-90, when 2, Park Place, was incorporated with it. The entrance fee in 1791 was five guineas, and was raised successively in 1815, 1881, 1892, and 1901, to nine, fifteen, twenty-five and thirty guineas. The subscription was at first four guineas, raised in 1779 to eight guineas, and in 1791 to ten guineas.

An offshoot of Brooks's is the Fox Club, a dining club, probably a continuation of an earlier Whig Club. Up to 1843 it met at the Clarendon Hotel, and since then at Brooks's. It is said to have been constituted for the purpose of paying Fox's debts, for which his friends, in 1793, raised £70,000. Sir Augustus Keppel Stephenson was the secretary of this club from 1867 until his death in 1904. He was the son of a distinguished member of Brooks's, who had joined that club in 1818, the Fox Club in 1829, was secretary of the Sublime Society of Beef Steaks, and the last man to wear Hessian boots.

The Travellers' Club dates from 1819, the Union from 1821, and the United University from 1822.

The Union Club is composed of noblemen, members of Parliament, and gentlemen of the first distinction and character who are British subjects, and has 1,250 members. Election is by open voting in the committee. Foreign and Colonial persons of distinction may be made temporary honorary members. The entrance fee is twenty-one guineas; the annual subscription ten guineas.

The United University Club has 1,000 members, of whom 500 belong to Oxford and 500 to Cambridge. The King is a member. Cabinet ministers, bishops, judges, etc., may be admitted without ballot. All members of either University are qualified to be candidates, but only graduates, persons who have resided in college or hall for two years, holders of honorary degrees, and students in civil law of above three years' standing, are qualified to be members. The club has recently rebuilt its house at the corner of Suffolk Street and Pall Mall East.

The Athenæum was originated by Mr. John Wilson Croker, after consultation with Sir Humphry Davy, president of the Royal Society, and was founded in 1824 for the association of individuals known for their scientific or literary attainments, artists of eminence in any class of the fine arts, and noblemen and gentlemen distinguished as liberal patrons of science, literature, or the arts. It is essential to the maintenance of the Athenæum, in conformity with the principles upon which it was originally founded, that the annual introduction of a certain number of persons of distinguished eminence in science, literature, or the arts, or for public services, should be secured. Accordingly, nine persons of such qualifications are elected by the committee each year. The club entrusts this privilege to the committee, in the entire confidence that they will only elect persons who shall have attained to distinguished eminence in science, literature, or the arts, or for public services. The General Committee may also elect princes of the blood Royal, cabinet ministers, bishops, speakers of the House of Commons, judges, and foreign ambassadors, or ministers plenipotentiary of not less than three years' residence at the Court of St. James's, to be extraordinary members; and may invite, as honorary members during temporary residence in England, the heads of foreign missions, foreign members of the Royal Society, and not more than fifteen other foreigners or colonists of distinction. The ordinary members of the club are 1,200 in number. The entrance fee is thirty guineas, and the annual subscription eight guineas. The presidents for the time being of the Royal Society, of the Society of Antiquaries, and of the Royal Academy of Arts, if members, are ex-officio members of the General Committee. An Executive Committee of nine is selected from the General Committee to manage the domestic and other ordinary affairs of the club. No elected member can remain on the General Committee more than three consecutive years, unless he is a member of the Executive Committee, in which case he may be re-elected for a second term of three years. No higher stake than half-a-guinea points shall be played for. No game of mere chance shall be played in the house for money. No member shall make use of the club as an address in any advertisement.

The history of the club has been told by the Rev. J. G. Waugh in an interesting book printed for private circulation in 1900. Its first house was 12, Waterloo Place, where it remained until 1827, when it obtained its present site. Its success was so great that within four months of the preliminary meeting in 1824 it had a list of 506 members, including the then Prime Minister and seven persons who afterwards became Prime Ministers. By 1827 it was full, and had a list of 270 candidates waiting for election. The present house was planned by Decimus Burton, and an attic storey was added to it in 1899-1900. It is a successful building, striking attention by the statue of Minerva over the porch, the frieze, and the noble hall and grand staircase. The hall was re-decorated in 1891 under the direction of Sir L. Alma Tadema. Originally, a soirée was held every Wednesday, to which ladies were admitted. That has long been discontinued, and, as a satirical member observed, "Minerva is kept out in the cold, while her owls are gorging within." Among the members of the club have been the following great actors: Macready, Mathews, Kemble, Terry, Kean, Young, and Irving.

The Oriental Club was also established in 1824, at a meeting held eight days after that at which the Athenæum had been established. Sir John Malcolm presided. The club was intended for the benefit ofpersons who had been long resident abroad in the service of the Crown, or of the East India Company. By May, 1826, it had 928 members, and in that year it took possession of the site of 18, Hanover Square, and employed Mr. B. D. Wyatt as the architect of its house. Its history has been written by Mr. Alexander F. Baillie, in a book published in 1901. Mr. Wyatt provided a grand staircase, but no smoking-room, and only one billiard-room. At that time and until 1842 the club provided its members gratuitously with snuff at a cost of £25 per year. In 1874 the present smoking-room was opened; and now the handsome drawing-room is a place where those can retire who desire solitude, and the smoking-room and billiard-rooms are overcrowded. The club has a fine library. It claims among its members the prototype of Colonel Newcome. The members have a custom of securing a table for dinner by inverting a plate upon it.

In 1855 the Oriental Club agreed to take over, without entrance fee, the members of the Alfred Club, which had been established in 1808, and was then being dissolved. Nearly 400 members availed themselves of the offer. The history of that club has some points of interest. It was largely intended for literary men, but it is said that Canning, vexed at overhearing a member asking who he was, gave it the nickname of the "Half-read" Club, which stuck to it. Its early career was prosperous, and by 1811 it had 354 candidates and only six vacancies; but its popularity waned. The real cause of its dissolution was the firm conservatism of the committee. They would not recognise the growing demand of accommodation for smokers. The clubhouse, No. 23, Albemarle Street, had been built and arranged in the days when no such accommodation had been considered necessary, and the committee resolutely refused to make any concession to the members who desired to smoke.

The Garrick Club was founded in 1831. It was instituted for the general patronage of the drama; for the purpose of combining the use of a club on economical principles with the advantage of a literary society; for bringing together the supporters of the drama; and for the foundation of a national library, with works on costume. The number of members is limited to 650, who pay an entrance fee of twenty guineas, and an annual subscription of ten guineas. The club is more than usually hospitable, as it allows a member to invite three visitors to dinner, and admits the public to see its magnificent collection of dramatic pictures daily from 10 to 1.

The Carlton Club was established in 1832. It is famous as the rallying ground for the Conservative party, the temple of Toryism. From it, and its resources, candidates in that interest derive much encouragement and support, and it may not unreasonably be inferred that some of that encouragement and support is material as well as moral.

The Reform Club was established in 1837, and then held the same position towards the Liberal party. It was instituted for the purpose of promoting the social intercourse of the Reformers of the United Kingdom. All candidates are to declare themselves to be reformers, but no definition of a "reformer" is given. If, however, a member is believed not to be a reformer, fifty members may call a general meeting for his expulsion. Members of Parliament and peers may be admitted by general ballot, with priority of election. The committee elect each year two gentlemen of distinguished eminence for public service, or in science, literature, or arts. The Political Committee of fifty members elect each year two persons who have proved their attachment to the Liberal cause by marked and obvious services. Other members are elected by general ballot, one black ball in ten excluding. The club has 1,400 members. It has a fine library. It has liberal regulations as to the admission of guests, and ladies may be admitted to view the club from 11.0 a.m. to 5.0 p.m. Members may inspect the books and accounts and take extracts from them. The admission fee is £40, and the annual subscription ten guineas.

The Conservative Club was established in 1840, and the National Club in 1845. The object of the National Club is to promote Protestant principles, and to encourage united action among Protestants in political and social questions by establishing a central organisation to obtain and spread information on such questions, by affording facilities for conference thereon, and by providing in the metropolis a central place of meeting to devise the fittest means for promoting the object in view. Its members must hold the doctrines and principles of the reformed faith, as revealed in Holy Scripture, asserted at the Reformation, and generally embodied in the Articles of the Church of England. It has a general committee, house committee, library committee, prayer and religious committee, wine committee, finance committee, and Parliamentary committee. The General Committee has power to elect as honorary members of the club not more than twenty persons distinguished by their zeal and exertions on behalf of the Protestant cause; these are mostly clergymen. All meetings of committees are to be opened with prayer. The household are to attend the reading of the Word of God and prayers morning and evening in the committee room. The Parliamentary committee are to watch all proceedings in Parliament and elsewhere affecting the Protestant principles of the club. Its fundamental principles are declared to be:

(1) The maintenance of the Protestant constitution, succession, and faith.

(2) The recognition of Holy Scripture in national education.

(3) The improvement of the moral and social condition of the people.

The club is singular in having these definite religious purposes, and no doubt has in its time done much for the Protestant cause; but there is a little incongruity between the earnestness of its purpose and the self-indulgence which club life almost necessarily implies; and religious opinion, which claims to be the most stable of all things, is really one of the most fluid. Most men, who think at all, pass through many phases of it in their lives. It would not be surprising if this early earnestness had somewhat cooled down.

Another group of clubs consists of those the members of which are bound together by a common interest in some athletic sport or pursuit—as the Marylebone Cricket Club, which dates from 1787; the Alpine Club, which was founded in 1857; the Hurlingham Club, in 1868; and to these may perhaps be added, as approximating to the same class, the Bath Club, 1894.

The gradual filling up of old clubs, which we observed in the case of the service clubs, and the congested state of their lists of candidates, leading to long delay before an intending member had the chance of election, has led to the establishment of junior clubs; thus, in 1864, the Junior Athenæum and the Junior Carlton were founded.

A further development has been the establishment of clubs for women. The Albemarle Club, founded in 1874, admits both men and women, and adjusts its lists of candidates so as to provide for the election of nearly equal numbers of both.

The Marlborough Club should also be mentioned specially, as it was founded by the King, and no person can be admitted a member except upon His Majesty's special approval.

The Authors' Club was established in 1891 by the late Sir Walter Besant, and is especially noted for its house dinners, at which some person of distinction is invited to be the guest of the club.

Altogether, the clubs of London are very numerous, and we have only been able to draw attention to the peculiarities of a few of them. Like every other human institution, they are subject to continual change, and there are pessimists who go about saying that they are decaying and losing their popularity and their usefulness. The long lists of candidates on the books of the principal clubs do not lend much colour to this suggestion. Social habits alter with every generation of men, and it is possible that many men do not use their clubs in the same way that the founders did, but the fact remains that they do use them, and that clubs still form centres of pleasure and convenience to many.

One particular in which the change of social habits is especially noticeable is with respect to gaming. This, as we have seen, was almost the raison d'être  of some of the early clubs, and there are numerous tales of the recklessness with which it was pursued, and the fortunes lost and won at the gaming table. We have quoted from one or two clubs the regulations which now prevail, and similar regulations are adopted in most of the other clubs. Games of chance are wholly prohibited; and limits are provided to the amount that may be staked on games of cards. Each club has also a billiard room.

With respect to smoking, the habitués of clubs have experienced a great change. Formerly the smoking room, if any, was small and far away; now the luxury of the club is concentrated in it, and the question is rather in what rooms smoking is not to be allowed. Very few clubs retain the old tradition that smoking is a thing to be discouraged and kept out of sight.

Other signs of change are the increase in the cost of membership and the later hours for dining. It need hardly be said that the clubs pay great attention to their kitchens. We have it on the authority of Major A. Griffiths (Fortnightly Review, April, 1907) that the salary of the chef is between £200 and £300 a year.

The customs of the clubs with regard to the admission of visitors vary. At one end of the scale is the Athenæum, which will not allow its members to give a stranger even a cup of cold water, and allows of conversation with strangers only in the open hall or in a small room by the side of the doorway. At the other end are clubs which provide special rooms for the entertainment of visitors, and encourage their members to treat their friends hospitably, and to show them what the club is able to do in the matter of cooking and wines.

The social ethics of clubs vary in like manner. In some clubs, notably those of the Bohemian type, but including several which would claim not to belong to that group, mere membership of the club is a sufficient introduction to justify a member in addressing another, and conversation in the common rooms of the club becomes general. This is delightful—within limits: it is not always possible to create by the atmosphere of the club a sentiment that will restrain all its members from sometimes overstepping those bounds of mutual courtesy and consideration which alone can make such general conversation altogether pleasant. The greater clubs go to the opposite extreme, and members of them may meet day after day for many years in perfect unconsciousness of the existence of each other; yet, even in these, the association of those who know each other outside the club, but without its opportunities would rarely meet, though they have similar interests and pursuits, is a very desirable and useful thing. Many an excellent measure, originating in the mind of one member, has been matured by conversation with others, to the general good. So may the Clubs of London continue to prosper and flourish.

The Old London Coffee-Houses

By G. L. Apperson, I.S.O.

or something like a century and a half the coffee-houses formed a distinctive feature of London life. The first is said to have been established by a man named Bowman, servant to a Turkey merchant, who opened a coffee-house in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, in 1652. The honour of being the second has been claimed for the "Rainbow" in Fleet Street, by the Inner Temple Gate, opposite Chancery Lane. Aubrey, speaking of Sir Henry Blount, a beau in the time of Charles II., says: "When coffee first came in, he was a great upholder of it, and had ever since been a constant frequenter of coffee-houses, especially Mr. Farre's, at the 'Rainbow,' by Inner Temple Gate." But according to The Daily Post  of May 15th, 1728, "Old Man's" Coffee-house, at Charing Cross, "was the Second that was set up in the Cities of London and Westminster." The question of priority, however, is of no importance. It is quite certain that in a surprisingly short space of time coffee-houses became very numerous. A manuscript of 1659, quoted in The Gentleman's Magazine  for 1852 (Part I., pp. 477-9), says that at that date there was

"a Turkish drink to be sould almost in eury street, called Coffee, and another kind of drink called Tee, and also a drink called Chocolate, which was a very harty drink."

Tea made its way slowly; but coffee took the town by storm.

The coffee-houses, as resorts for men of different classes and occupations, survived till the early years of the nineteenth century; but their palmy days were over some time before the end of the eighteenth century. They were at the height of their fame and usefulness from the Restoration till the earlier years of George III.'s reign.

From the description given in The Spectator  and other contemporary writings—such as "facetious" Tom Brown's Trip through London  of 1728, and the like—it is easy to reconstruct in imagination the interior of one of these resorts as they appeared in the time of Queen Anne. Occasionally the coffee-room, as at the famous "Will's" in Russell Street, Covent Garden, was on the first floor. Tables were disposed about the sanded floor—the erection of boxes did not come in until a later date—while on the walls were numerous flaming advertisements of quack medicines, pills and tinctures, salves and electuaries, which were as abundant then as now, and of other wares which might be bought at the bar. The bar was at the entrance to the temple of coffee and gossip, and was presided over by the predecessors of the modern barmaids—grumbled at in The Spectator  as "idols," who there received homage from their admirers, and who paid more attention to customers who flirted with them than to more sober-minded visitors; and described by Tom Brown as "a charming Phillis or two, who invite you by their amorous glances into their smoaky territories."

At the bar messages were left and letters taken in for regular customers. In the early days of Swift's friendship with Addison, Stella was instructed to address her letters to the former under cover to Addison at the "St. James's" Coffee-house, in St. James's Street; but as the friendship between the two men cooled the cover was dispensed with, and the letters were addressed to Swift himself at the coffee-house, where they were placed, doubtless with many others, in the glass frame behind the bar. Stella's handwriting was very like that of her famous correspondent, and one day Harley, afterwards Earl of Oxford, seeing one of Stella's letters in the glass frame and thinking the writing was Swift's, asked the latter, when he met him shortly afterwards, how long he had learned the trick of writing to himself. Swift says he could hardly persuade him that he was mistaken in the writing.

The coffee-houses were the haunts of clubs and coteries almost from the date of their first establishment. Steele, in the familiar introduction to The Tatler, tells us how accounts of gallantry, pleasure and entertainment were to come from "White's" Chocolate-house; poetry from "Will's" Coffee-house; learning from the "Grecian"; and foreign and domestic news from the "St. James's." Nearly fifty years later, Bonnell Thornton, in the first number of The Connoisseur, January 31st, 1754, similarly enumerates some of the leading houses. "White's" was still the fashionable resort; "Garraway's" was for stock-jobbers; "Batson's" for doctors; the "Bedford" for "wits" and men of parts; the "Chapter" for book-sellers; and "St. Paul's" for the clergy. Mackay, in his Journey through England, published in 1724, says that

"about twelve the beau-monde  assembles in several chocolate and coffee-houses, the best of which are the Cocoa Tree and White's Chocolate-houses, St. James's, the Smyrna, and the British Coffee-houses; and all these so near one another that in less than an hour you see the company of them all.... I must not forget to tell you that the parties have their different places, where, however, a stranger is always well received; but a Whig will no more go to the Cocoa Tree or Ozinda's than a Tory will be seen at the coffee-house of St. James's. The Scots go generally to the British, and a mixture of all sorts to the Smyrna. There are other little coffee-houses much frequented in this neighbourhood—Young Man's for officers, Old Man's for stock-jobbers, paymasters, and courtiers, and Little Man's for sharpers."

It was only natural that people of similar occupations or tastes should gravitate in their hours of leisure to common social centres, and no one classification, such as that just quoted, can exhaust the subject.

The devotees of whist had their own houses. The game began to be popular about 1730, and some of those who first played scientific whist—possibly including Hoyle himself—were accustomed to meet at the "Crown" Coffee-house in Bedford Row. Other groups soon met at other houses. A pirated edition of Hoyle's Whist, printed at Dublin in 1743, contains an advertisement of "A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist, as play'd at Court, White's, and George's Chocolate-houses, at Slaughter's, and the Crown Coffee-houses, etc., etc." At "Rawthmell's" Coffee-house in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, the Society of Arts was founded in 1754. "Old Slaughter's" in St. Martin's Lane was a great resort in the second half of the eighteenth century of artists. Here Roubillac the sculptor, Hogarth, Bourguignon or Gravelot the book illustrator, Moser the keeper of the St. Martin's Lane Academy, Luke Sullivan the engraver, and many others of the fraternity were wont to foregather. Near by was "Young Slaughter's," a meeting-place for scientific and literary men.

R. L. Edgeworth, in his Memoirs  (p. 118, Ed. 1844), says:—

"I was introduced by Mr. Keir into a society of literary and scientific men, who used formerly to meet once a week at Jack's Coffee-house [i.e., circa 1780 ] in London, and afterwards at Young Slaughter's Coffee-house. Without any formal name, this meeting continued for years to be frequented by men of real science and of distinguished merit. John Hunter was our chairman. Sir Joseph Banks, Solander, Sir A. Blagden, Dr. George Fordyce, Milne, Maskelyne, Captain Cook, Sir G. Shuckburgh, Lord Mulgrave, Smeaton and Ramsden, were among our members. Many other gentlemen of talents belonged to this club, but I mention those only with whom I was individually acquainted."

A favourite resort of men of letters during the middle and later years of the eighteenth century was the "Bedford" Coffee-house, under the Piazza, in Covent Garden. This house, it may be said, inherited the tradition from Button's, which that famous coffee-house had taken over from Will's. To the "Bedford" came Fielding, Foote, Garrick, Churchill, Sheridan, Hogarth, and many another man of note. Another haunt of literary men, as well as of book-sellers, was the "Chapter" Coffee-house in Paternoster Row. Chatterton wrote to his mother in May, 1770: "I am quite familiar at the 'Chapter' Coffee-house, and know all the geniuses there." Goldsmith was one of its frequenters. It was here that he came to sup one night as the invited guest of Churchill's friend, Charles Lloyd. The supper was served and enjoyed, whereupon Lloyd, without a penny in his pocket to pay for the meal he had ordered, coolly walked off and left Goldsmith to discharge the reckoning. It was at the same house that Foote, one day when a distressed player passed his hat round the coffee-room circle with an appeal for help, made the malicious remark: "If Garrick hear of this he will certainly send in his hat."

Close by was the "St. Paul's" Coffee-house, where, according to Bonnell Thornton, "tattered crapes," or poor parsons, were wont to ply "for an occasional burial or sermon, with the same regularity as the happier drudges who salute us with the cry of 'Coach, sir,' or 'Chair, your honour.'" The same writer relates how a party of bucks, by a hoaxing proffer of a curacy, "drew all the poor parsons to 'St. Paul's' Coffee-house, where the bucks themselves sat in another box to smoke their rusty wigs and brown cassocks."

Business men gathered at "Jonathan's" and "Garraway's," both in Exchange Alley, where the sale and purchase of stocks and bonds and merchandise of every kind formed the staple talk. The former house was a centre of operations for both bubblers and bubbled in the mania year of 1720. "Lloyd's" Coffee-house was for very many years a famous auction mart.

"Then to Lloyd's coffee-house he never fails,To read the letters, and attend the sales,"

says the author of The Wealthy Shopkeeper, published in 1700. Addison, in No. 46 of The Spectator, tells how he was accustomed to make notes or "minutes" of anything likely to be useful for future papers, and of how one day he accidentally dropped one of these papers at "Lloyd's Coffee-house, where the auctions are usually kept." It was picked up and passed from hand to hand, to the great amusement of all who saw it. Finally, the "boy of the coffee-house," having in vain asked for the owner of the paper, was made "to get up into the auction pulpit and read it to the whole room." The "Jerusalem" Coffee-house, in Exchange Alley, was for generations the resort of merchants and traders interested in the East.

The doctors met at "Batson's" or "Child's." The pseudonymous author of Don Manoel Gonzales'Voyage to Great Britain, 1745, speaking of the London physicians, says: "You find them at Batson's or Child's Coffee-house usually in the morning, and they visit their patients in the afternoon." The Jacobites had two well-known houses of call—"Bromefield's" Coffee-house in Spring Gardens, and, later, the "Smyrna" in Pall Mall. Mr. J. H. MacMichael, in his valuable book on Charing Cross, 1906, quotes an order "given at their Majesties' Board of Green Cloth at Hampton Court" in 1689, to Sir Christopher Wren, Surveyor of Their Majesties' Works, to have "bricked or otherwise so closed up as you shall judge most fit for the security of their Majesties' Palace of Whitehall" a certain door which led out of Buckingham Court into Spring Garden, because Bromefield's Coffee-house in that court was resorted to by "a great and numerous concourse of Papists and other persons disaffected to the Government." Mr. MacMichael suggests that probably "Bromefield's" was identical with the coffee-house known as "Young Man's." "The Smyrna," in Pall Mall, was the Jacobite resort in Georgian days. It was also a house of many literary associations. Thomson, the poet, there received subscriptions for his Seasons ; Swift and Prior and Arbuthnot frequented it. In 1703 Lord Peterborough wrote to Arbuthnot from Spain:—"I would faine save Italy and yett drink tea with you at the Smirna this Winter." But it is impossible to catalogue fully all the different coffee-house centres. The "Grecian" in Devereux Court, Strand, was devoted to learning; barristers frequented "Serle's," at the corner of Serle and Portugal Streets, Lincoln's Inn Fields; the Templars went to "Dick's," and later to the "Grecian"; and so the list might be prolonged.

In the earlier days of the coffee-houses the coterie or club of regular frequenters foregathered by the fire, or in some particular part of the general room, or in an inner room. At "Will's" in Russell Street, Covent Garden, where Mr. Pepys used to drop in to hear the talk, Dryden, the centre of the literary circle which there assembled, had his big arm-chair in winter by the fireside, and in summer on the balcony. Around him gathered many men of letters, including Addison, Wycherley, Congreve, and the juvenile Pope, and all who aspired to be known as "wits." On the outskirts of the charmed circle hovered the more humble and modest frequenters of the coffee-room, who were proud to obtain the honour even of a pinch of snuff from the poet's box. Across the road at "Button's," a trifle later, Addison became the centre of a similar circle, though here the tone was political quite as much as literary. Whig men of letters discussed politics as well as books. Steele, Tickell, Budgell, Rowe, and Ambrose Phillips were among the leading figures in this coterie. Pope was of it for a time, but withdrew after his quarrel with Addison.

Whig politicians met at the "St. James's"; and Addison, in a Spectator  of 1712, pictures the scene. A rumour of the death of Louis XIV. had set the tongues going of all the gossips and quidnuncs in town; and the essayist relates how he made a tour of the town to hear how the news was received, and to catch the drift of popular opinion on so momentous an event. In the course of his peregrinations the silent gentleman visited the "St. James's," where he found the whole outer room in a buzz of politics. The quality of the talk improved as he advanced from the door to the upper end of the room; but the most thorough-going politicians were to be found "in the inner room, with the steam of the coffee-pot," and in this sanctum, says the humorist, "I heard the whole Spanish monarchy disposed of, and all the line of Bourbon provided for, in less than a quarter of an hour."

In later days coffee-house clubs became more exclusive. The members of a club or coterie were allotted a room of their own, to which admission ceased to be free and open, and thus was marked the beginning of the transition from the coffee-house of the old style to the club-house of the new. In The Gentleman's Magazine  for 1841 (Part II., pp. 265-9) is printed a paper of proposals, dated January 23rd, 1768, for enlarging the accommodation for the club accustomed to meet at Tom's Coffee-house, Great Russell Street, Covent Garden, by taking into the coffee-room the first floor of the adjoining house. Admission to this club was obtained by ballot.

Coffee-houses were frequented for various purposes besides coffee, conversation, and business—professional or otherwise. The refreshments supplied were by no means confined to such innocuous beverages as tea and coffee and chocolate. Wines and spirits were freely consumed—"laced" coffee, or coffee dashed with brandy, being decidedly popular. Swift relates how on the occasion of his christening the child of Elliot, the proprietor of the "St. James's," he sat at the coffee-house among some "scurvy companions" over a bowl of punch so late that when he came home he had no time to write to Stella. The prolonged sittings and too copious libations of the company at Button's Coffee-house gave the feeble and delicate Pope many a headache; and Addison, who was notoriously a hard drinker, did not, we may feel sure, confine himself during those prolonged sittings to coffee.

The coffee-houses were also public reading-rooms. There could be read the newspapers and other periodical publications of the day. When Sir Roger de Coverley entered "Squire's," near Gray's Inn Gate, he "called for a clean pipe, a paper of tobacco, a dish of coffee, a wax candle, and The Supplement."

Mackay, in his Journey through England, already quoted, says that "in all the Coffee-houses you have not only the foreign prints, but several English ones with the Foreign Occurrences, besides papers of morality and party disputes." Swift, writing to Stella, November 18th, 1711, says, "Do you read the Spectators ? I never do; they never come in my way; I go to no coffee-houses"; and when The Tatler had disappeared, a little earlier, Gay wrote that "the coffee-houses began to be sensible that the Esquire's lucubrations alone had brought them more customers than all their other newspapers put together." Periodical publications were filed for reference; and at all the better houses The London Gazette, and, during the session, the Parliamentary Votes could be seen. At least one house possessed a library. This was the "Chapter," in Paternoster Row, already referred to as a literary haunt. Dr. Thomas Campbell, the author of a Diary of a Visit to England in 1775, which was published at Sydney in 1854, says that he had heard that the "Chapter" was remarkable for a large collection of books and a reading society.

The coffee-houses served as writing-rooms as well as reading-rooms. Many of Steele's numerous love-letters to "dear Prue," the lady who became his wife, the lovely Mary Scurlock, written both before and after his marriage, are dated from the "St. James's," the "Tennis Court," "Button's," or other coffee-house. But a popular coffee-room could hardly have been an ideal place for either reading or writing. A poet of 1690 says that

"The murmuring buzz which thro' the room was sent,Did bee-hives' noise exactly represent,And like a bee-hive, too, 'twas filled, and thick,All tasting of the Honey Politick Called 'News,' which they all greedily sucked in."

And many years later, Gilly Williams, in a letter to George Selwyn, dated November 1st, 1764, says: "I write this in a full coffee-house, and with such materials, that you have good luck if you can read two lines of it."

A curious proof of the close and intimate way in which the coffee-houses were linked with social life is to be seen in the occasional references, both in dramatic and prose literature, to some of the well-known servants of the coffee-houses. Steele, in the first number of The Tatler, refers familiarly to Humphrey Kidney, the waiter and keeper of book debts at the "St. James's"—he "has the ear of the greatest politicians that come hither"—and when Kidney resigned, it was advertised that he had been "succeeded by John Sowton, to whose place of caterer of messages and first coffee-grinder William Bird is promoted, and Samuel Bardock comes as shoe-cleaner in the room of the said Bird." "Robin, the Porter who waits at Will's Coffee-house," plays a prominent part in a little romance narrated in No. 398 of The Spectator. He is described as "the best man in the town for carrying a billet; the fellow has a thin body, swift step, demure looks, sufficient sense, and knows the town." A waiter of the same name at Locket's, in Spring Gardens, is alluded to in Congreve's The Way of the World, where the fashionable Lady Wishfort, when she threatens to marry a "drawer" (or waiter), says, "I'll send for Robin from Locket's immediately."

The coffee-houses were employed as agencies for the sale of many things other than their own refreshments. Most of them sold the quack medicines that were staringly advertised on their walls. Some sold specific proprietary articles. A newspaper advertisement of 1711 says that the water of Epsom Old Well was "pumped out almost every night, that you may have the new mineral every morning," and that "the water is sold at Sam's Coffee-house in Ludgate Street, Hargrave's at the Temple Gate, Holtford's at the lower end of Queen's Street near Thames Street, and nowhere else in London." A "Ticket of the seal of the Wells" was affixed, so that purchasers "might not be cheated in their waters." The "Royal" Coffee-house at Charing Cross, which flourished in the time of Charles II., sold "Anderson's Pills"—a compound of cloves, jalap, and oil of aniseed. At the same house were to be had tickets for the various county feasts, then popular, which were an anticipation of the annual dinners of county associations so common nowadays.

Razor-strops of a certain make were to be bought in 1705 at John's Coffee-house, Exchange Alley. In 1742 it was advertised that "silver tickets" (season tickets) for Ranelagh Gardens were to be had at any hour of the day at Forrest's Coffee-house, near Charing Cross. "All Sorts of the newest fashion'd Tye Perukes, made of fresh string, Humane Hair, far exceeding any Country Work," were advertised in 1725 as to be bought at Brown's Coffee-house in Spring Gardens.

House agents, professional men, and other folk of more questionable kind, were all wont to advertise that they could be seen by clients at this or that coffee-house. The famous and impudent Mrs. Mapp, "the bone-setter," drove into town daily from Epsom in her own carriage, and was to be seen (and heard) at the "Grecian." Most of the houses were willing to receive letters in answer to advertisements, and from the nature of the latter must often, it is pretty certain, have been assisting parties to fraud and chicanery of various kind. At some houses, besides those like Lloyd's specially devoted to auction business, sales were held. A black boy was advertised to be sold at Denis's Coffee-house in Finch Lane in 1708. In the middle of the eighteenth century sales were often held at the "Apollo" Coffee-house, just within Temple Bar, and facing Temple Gate. Picture sales were usually held at coffee-houses. The catalogue of one such sale, held at the "Barbadoes" Coffee-house in February, 1689/90, contains a glowing address on the art of painting by Millington, the Auctioneer, written in the style made famous later by George Robins. Says the eloquent Millington:

"This incomparable art at the same time informs the Judgment, pleases the Fancy, recreates the Eye, and touches the Soul, entertains the Curious with silent Instruction, by expressing our most noble Passions, and never fails of rewarding its admirers with the greatest Pleasures, so Innocent and Ravishing, that the severest Moralists, the Morosest Stoicks  cannot be offended therewith,"

and so on and so on.

Many of the early book sales, too, were held at coffee-houses. The third book auction in England, that of the library of the Rev. William Greenhill, was held on February 18th, 1677/78, "in the House of Ferdinand Stable, Coffee-Seller, at the Sign of the 'Turk's Head,'" in Bread Street. When sales were held elsewhere, catalogues could usually be had at some of the leading coffee-houses.

Besides serving as reading, writing and sale rooms, they seem sometimes to have been used as lecture rooms. William Whiston, in his Memoirs  written by himself (1749), says:

"Mr. Addison, with his friend Sir Richard Steele, brought me upon my banishment from Cambridge, to have many astronomical lectures at Mr. Button's coffee-house, near Covent Garden, to the agreeable entertainment of a great number of persons, and the procuring me and my family some comfortable support under my banishment."

Some of the houses, as an additional attraction to visitors, offered exhibitions of collections of curiosities. The most famous collection of this kind was that to be seen for many years at Don Saltero's Coffee-house at Chelsea. Don Saltero, by the way, was simply plain James Salter disguised. Some of his exhibits were supplied by his former master, Sir Hans Sloane, and by other scientific friends and patrons. But mixed with things of genuine interest were to be seen all sorts of rubbish. Steele made fun of the collection in The Tatler. But people came to see the "piece of nun's skin tanned," "Job's tears, which grow on a tree, and of which anodyne necklaces are made," a "waistcoat to prevent sweating," and the many other strange articles which were shown side by side with the wooden shoe (of doubtful authenticity, one would think) which was placed under Mr. Speaker's chair in the time of James II., the King of Morocco's tobacco pipe, Oliver Cromwell's sword, and the like "historical" curiosities; and Mr. Salter had no reason to be dissatisfied with the results of his ingenuity. The most interesting association of this coffee-house, perhaps, is Pennant's story of how it was frequented by Richard Cromwell, the quondam Lord Protector, described in his peaceful age as "a little and very neat old man, with a most placid countenance, the effect of his innocent and unambitious life."

Not far from Don Saltero's was the old Chelsea Bun-house, which also contained a museum. The last relics of this collection were sold in April, 1839, and included a few pictures, plaster casts, a model of the bun-house, another, in cut paper, of St. Mary Redcliff Church, and other things of a still more trumpery character.

Richard Thoresby tells us that when he was in London, in the summer of 1714, he met his "old friend Dr. Sloane at the coffee-house of Mr. Miers, who hath a handsome collection of curiosities in the room where the virtuosi meet." As the name of the proprietor only is given, it is not easy to identify this house, but possibly it was the "Grecian" in Devereux Court, which was a favourite resort of the learned. It was at the "Grecian," by the way, that Goldsmith, in the latter years of his life, was often the life and soul of the Templars who were wont to meet there. In their company he sometimes amused himself with the flute, or with whist—"neither of which he played very well." When he took what he called a "Shoemaker's holiday," Goldsmith, after his day's excursion, "concluded by supping at the 'Grecian' or 'Temple-Exchange' Coffee-house, or at the 'Globe' in Fleet Street."

A word must be said as to the manners of the frequenters of coffee-houses. The author of A Trip through London, 1728, tells of fops who stare you out of countenance, and describes one man as standing with his back to the fire "in a great coffee-house near the Temple," and there spouting poetry—a remarkable specimen, indeed, of the bore; but on the whole the evidence goes to show that bad manners were usually resented by the rest of the company, and that good humour and good manners were marked characteristics of coffee-house life. There were exceptional incidents, of course. A fatal duel once resulted from a heated argument at the "Grecian" about a Greek accent. One day, soon after the first appearance of The Tatler, two or three well-dressed men walked into the coffee-room of the "St. James's," and began in a loud, truculent manner to abuse Steele as the author of that paper. One of them at last swore that he would cut Steele's throat or teach him better manners. Among the company present was Lord Forbes, with two friends, officers of high rank in the army. When the cut-throat had uttered his threat, Lord Forbes said significantly, "In this country you will find it easier to cut a purse than to cut a throat," and with the aid of the military gentlemen the bullies were ignominiously turned out of the house. Many years later, in 1776, the "St. James's" was the scene of a singular act of senseless violence. It is tersely described in a letter from Lord Carlisle to George Selwyn. He writes:

"The Baron de Lingsivy ran a French officer through the body on Thursday for laughing in the St. James's Coffee-house. I find he did not pretend that he himself was laughed at, but at that moment he chose that the world should be grave. The man won't die, and the baron will not be hanged."

Incidents of this kind, however, were of rare occurrence.

But it is impossible to attempt to exhaust the subject of the Old London Coffee-houses in one brief chapter. For a hundred years they focussed the life of the town. Within their hospitable walls men of all classes and occupations, independently, or in clubs and coteries, met not only for refreshment, but for social intercourse—to read and hear the news, to discuss the topics of the day, to entertain and be entertained. This was the chief end they served. Incidentally, as we have seen, they served a number of other subsidiary and more of less useful purposes. They died slowly. Gradually the better-class houses became more exclusive, and were merged in clubs of the modern kind. The inferior houses were driven from public favour by the taverns and public-houses, or, degenerating from their former condition, lingered on as coffee-houses still, but of the lower type, which is not yet quite extinct.

A HAMPSTEAD GROUP

Out at Hampstead you may still visit what was once that studio of Romney's to which Flaxman sent his collection of plaster casts from Italy. It had been a favourite idea of Romney's, his son tells us, “to form a complete Gallery of Casts, and to open it to any youths of respectability,” and in his closing years, after he had removed to Hampstead, he carried out his wish, to some extent, with Flaxman's aid, and had three pupils working in his studio there, copying the casts and studying under him. The house he occupied from 1796 to 1799 is now the Holly Bush Inn; he bought a piece of land at the back of it, and on this built himself a studio and gallery, which now form part of the Hampstead Constitutional Club. “It was to Hampstead that Hayley's friend Romney, the painter, retired in the decline of his life,” writes J. T. Smith, in Nollekens and his Times, “when he built a dining-room close to his kitchen, with a buttery hatch opening into it, so that he and his friends might enjoy beef-steaks, hot and hot, upon the same plan as the members of the Beef-steak Club are supplied at their room in the Lyceum.”

 

ROMNEY'S HOUSE. HAMPSTEAD.

 

Though Romney was then in the decline of his life, he was at the height of his fame. He had married at the age of nineteen, and six years later set out for London, leaving his wife behind at Kendal. He had no intention of deserting her, but in London his genius soon won recognition, he began to move in good society, and partly because Sir Joshua Reynolds had once said that “marriage spoilt an artist,” partly because he became infatuated with Nelson's enchantress, Lady Hamilton, he neither brought his wife to London, nor visited her, nor ever saw her again until he was dying. On April 28, 1799, Hayley called on him for the last time at Hampstead, and thought that “increasing weakness of body and mind afforded only a gloomy prospect for the residue of his life.” Then in July Flaxman saw him, and says in one of his letters, “I and my father dined at Mr. Romney's at Hampstead last Sunday, by particular invitation, and were received in the most cordial manner; but, alas! I was grieved to see so noble a collection in a state so confused, so mangled, and prepared, I fear, for worse, and not better.” Very soon after this Romney left London for ever, and returned to Kendal and the wife he had neglected since the days of his obscure youth, and early in 1801, by his directions, “the collection of castes from the antique, a very fine skeleton, and other artistic properties of George Romney, at his late residence, Hollybush Hill, Hampstead,” were sold by Messrs. Christie.

Meanwhile, his wife had pardoned him and was caring for him. “Old, nearly mad, and quite desolate,” writes Fitzgerald, “he went back to her, and she received him and nursed him till he died. This quiet act of hers is worth all Romney's pictures!—even as a matter of art, I am sure.” It is this beautiful devotion of hers that gave Tennyson a subject for one of his later poems, Romney's Remorse ; in which the dying painter, rousing out of delirium, says:—

“There—you spill
The drops upon my forehead. Your hand shakes.
I am ashamed. I am a trouble to you,
Could kneel for your forgiveness. Are they tears?
For me—they do me too much grace—for me?...
My curse upon the Master's apothegm,
That wife and children drag an artist down!
This seemed my lodestar in the Heaven of Art,
And lured me from the household fire on earth....
This Art, that harlot-like,
Seduced me from you, leaves me harlot-like,
Who love her still, and whimper, impotent
To win her back before I die—and then—
Then in the loud world's bastard judgment day
One truth will damn me with the mindless mob,
Who feel no touch of my temptation, more
Than all the myriad lies that blacken round
The corpse of every man that gains a name:
‘This model husband, this fine artist!' Fool,
What matters! Six feet deep of burial mould
Will dull their comments! Ay, but when the shout
Of His descending peals from Heaven, and throbs
Thro' earth and all her graves, if He  should ask
‘Why left you wife and children? for My sake,
According to My word?' and I replied,
‘Nay, Lord, for Art,' why, that would sound so mean
That all the dead who wait the doom of Hell
For bolder sins than mine, adulteries,
Wife-murders—nay, the ruthless Mussulman
Who flings his bowstrung Harem in the sea,
Would turn and glare at me, and point and jeer
And gibber at the worm who, living, made
The wife of wives a widow-bride, and lost
Salvation for a sketch....
O let me lean my head upon your breast.
‘Beat, little heart,' on this fool brain of mine.
I once had friends—and many—none like you.
I love you more than when we married. Hope!
O yes, I hope, or fancy that, perhaps,
Human forgiveness touches heaven, and thence—
For you forgive me, you are sure of that—
Reflected, sends a light on the forgiven.”

Another famous artist who is closely associated with Hampstead was John Constable. In 1820, writing to his friend, the Rev. John Fisher (afterwards Archdeacon Fisher), he says, “I have settled my wife and children comfortably at Hampstead”; and a little later he writes, again to Fisher, “My picture is getting on, and the frame will be here in three weeks or a fortnight.... I now fear (for my family's sake) I shall never make a popular artist, a gentleman and ladies painter. But I am spared making a fool of myself, and your hand stretched forth teaches me to value what I possess (if I may say so), and this is of more consequence than gentlemen and ladies can well imagine.” He was then living at No. 2 Lower Terrace, a small house of two storeys, and writes from that address, again to Fisher, on the 4th August 1821, “I am as much here as possible with my family. My placid and contented companion and her three infants are well. I have got a room at a glazier's where is my large picture, and at this little place I have many small works going on, for which purpose I have cleared a shed in the garden, which held sand, coals, mops and brooms, and have made it a workshop. I have done a good deal here.” Lower Terrace is within a few minutes' walk of the Heath, the scenery of which appears in so many of Constable's paintings. He removed presently to Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square; one of his pictures exhibited in the Louvre made him famous in France, and his fame was spreading in England when he went back to Hampstead in 1826, and after staying for a while at 25 Downshire Hill (which has since been rebuilt) was “at length fixed,” as he wrote to Fisher, “in a comfortable little house at Well Walk, Hampstead.... So hateful is moving about to me that I could gladly exclaim, ‘Here let me take my everlasting rest.' This house is to my wife's heart's content; it is situated on an eminence at the back of the spot in which you saw us, and our little drawing-room commands a view unsurpassed in Europe from Westminster Abbey to Gravesend. The dome of St. Paul's in the air seems to realise Michael Angelo's words on seeing the Pantheon—‘I will build such a thing in the sky.'” In Constable's time the house was not numbered, but it has been identified as the present No. 40, and after his wife's death he kept it as an occasional residence until he died in 1837. He is buried not far from it, in the Hampstead Churchyard.

 

JOHN KEATS

 

CONSTABLE. CHARLOTTE STREET.

 

In the same churchyard is buried Joanna Baillie, who spent the last forty-five years of her life at Bolton House, Windmill Hill, opposite the Hollybush Inn, and here Wordsworth, Rogers, and Scott were among her visitors. Other famous Hampstead residents buried in this churchyard are Mrs. Barbauld, who lived in Church Row, then near the foot of Rosslyn Hill, and died in John Street; Sir Walter Besant, who died at Frognal End, near the top of Frognal Gardens; and George du Maurier, who lived for twenty-five years in Church Row and at New Grove House, by Whitestone Pond, and dying in 1896, a year after he left Hampstead, was brought back here to be buried.

 

JOANNA BAILLIE. WINDMILL HILL. HAMPSTEAD.

 

In the house at the corner of Prince Arthur Road and the High Street, that is now occupied by the Hampstead Subscription Library, Clarkson Stanfield made his home for many years. He did notable work as a landscape and sea painter and became a Royal Academician, but was best known and most successful as a scenic artist for the theatre, and brought the art of scene-painting to a higher level than it had ever reached before. His more ambitious pictures are in private collections, however, his stage scenery has had its day, and I suppose most of us remember him better as one of Dickens's most familiar friends. He painted the scenery for Wilkie Collins's play, The Lighthouse, when Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Mark Lemon, and others of their circle produced it at Tavistock House, and for other of the plays that Dickens staged there in his “smallest theatre in the world”; and Dickens's letters are sown with references to him. Writing to an American friend describing the Christmas sports he had been holding at his house, Dickens says he has purchased the entire stock-in-trade of a conjuror, and that “in those tricks which require a confederate I am assisted (by reason of his imperturbable good humour) by Stanfield, who always does his part exactly the wrong way, to the unspeakable delight of all beholders. We come out on a small scale to-night” (31st December 1842) “at Forster's, where we see the old year out and the new one in.” On the 16th January 1844 (putting Martin Chuzzlewit  aside) he is writing to Forster, “I had written you a line pleading Jonas and Mrs. Gamp, but this frosty day tempts me sorely. I am distractingly late; but I look at the sky, think of Hampstead, and feel hideously tempted. Don't come with Mac and fetch me. I couldn't resist if you did”; and a month later, on the 18th February, “Stanfield and Mac have come in, and we are going to Hampstead to dinner. I leave Betsy Prig as you know, so don't you make a scruple about leaving Mrs. Harris. We shall stroll leisurely up to give you time to join us, and dinner will be on the table at Jack Straw's at four”; and in less than a month, on the 5th March, “Sir, I will—he—he—he—he—he—he—I will not  eat with you, either at your own house or the club. But the morning looks bright, and a walk to Hampstead would suit me marvellously. If you should present yourself at my gate (bringing the R.A.'s along with you) I shall not be sapparised. So no more at this writing from poor Mr. Dickens.” In June of the same year he sent Forster the proof of a preface he had written to a book by a poor carpenter named Overs, saying, “I wish you would read this, and give it me again when we meet at Stanfield's to-day”; and, still in the same year, “Stanny” is one of the friends he wishes Forster to invite to his chambers in Lincoln's Inn Fields to hear a reading of The Chimes  before it is published.

No part of London is richer in literary and artistic associations than Hampstead. At the “Upper Flask” tavern, now known as the “Upper Heath,” Pope, Addison, Steele, Congreve, Hogarth and the other members of the Kit-Kat club used to meet in the eighteenth century, and Hogarth and Addison and his friends frequently resorted to the “Bull and Bush” at North End. Akenside lived for a while in Hampstead, and after he had left it went to stay occasionally with his friend Mr. Dyson at Golder's Hill, and was staying there in 1758 when he wrote his Ode on recovering from a fit of sickness in the Country, beginning:—

“Thy verdant scenes, O Goulder's Hill,
Once more I seek, a languid guest.”

Gay often went to Hampstead to drink the waters, at the Pump Room, in Well Walk; Dr. Arbuthnot lived in Hampstead, where Swift and Pope were among his visitors; Fuseli lodged in Church Row; Dr. Johnson's wife spent some of her summer holidays at a cottage near the entrance to the Priory, and the Doctor would tear himself away from his loved Fleet Street to pass an occasional day or two there with her; and of recent years Robert Louis Stevenson stayed with Sidney Colvin at Abernethy House, Mount Vernon, and at that time Stevenson, who was then twenty-four, so far conformed to the proprieties as to go about in “a frock coat and tall hat, which he had once worn at a wedding.”

 

STANFIELD'S HOUSE. HAMPSTEAD.

 

Tennyson's mother had a house in Flask Walk; when Edward Fitzgerald was in London, Tennyson introduced him to Dickens, and these three, taking Thackeray with them, drove out together to Hampstead Heath. Relics of Dick Turpin are preserved at the Spaniards Inn, a quaint, old-world hostelry that has in different generations entertained Goldsmith, Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Garrick and Constable, as well as Dickens and many of his familiars.

 

THE UPPER FLASK. FROM THE BOWLING GREEN.

 

But more intimately than with any other of the immortals Hampstead has come to be associated with Keats and Leigh Hunt—with Keats in particular. He was born, a good Cockney, in Moorfields, over his father's livery stables, and in 1816 went to live with his brother Tom at No. 1 Well Walk, next door to the “Green Man,” which has been succeeded by the Wells Tavern, and in his room here, on the 18th November 1816, when he was one-and-twenty, wrote a sonnet To My Brothers :—

“Small, busy flames play through the fresh-laid coals,
And their faint cracklings o'er our silence creep
Like whispers of the household gods that keep
A gentle empire o'er fraternal souls.
And while for rhymes I search around the poles,
Your eyes are fixed, as in poetic sleep,
Upon the lore so voluble and deep
That aye at fall of night our care condoles.

This is your birthday, Tom, and I rejoice
That thus it passes smoothly, quietly:
Many such eves of gently whispering noise
May we together pass, and calmly try
What are this world's true joys—ere the great Voice
From its fair face shall bid our spirits fly.”

In 1818 Keats moved to another part of Hampstead, and lodged with his friend, Charles Armitage Brown, a retired merchant, at Wentworth Place, now known as Lawn Bank, in John Street, which was the other day, for no sufficient reason, renamed Keats Grove. At that date Wentworth Place was divided into two houses, Brown renting one, and Wentworth Dilke occupying the other; and when the Dilkes were away from home they left their house in the possession of Mrs. Brawne, her son, and two daughters, the elder of these daughters being the Fanny Brawne of Keats's piteous love romance. Though he finished the writing of it, and wrote the preface to it, on a holiday at Teignmouth, Endymion  was published, and most of it had been written, whilst he was at Wentworth Place, and under this roof also he wrote his Eve of St. AgnesIsabella,Hyperion, and the Ode to a Nightingale. As every one knows, the publication of Endymion  brought him little but ridicule and abuse from the reviewers; but, much as this must have wounded and mortified his sensitive nature, it was so far from being the cause of his death, as some sentimentalists said it was, that, as you may gather from his correspondence, it did not even discourage him. The Quarterly  snubbed him as a copyist of Leigh Hunt, professed to find Endymion  so tedious as to be almost unreadable, and saw nothing in it but “calm, settled, imperturbable, drivelling idiocy”; Blackwood's Magazine, referring to his having qualified as a surgeon, sneered “Back to the shop, Mr. John, stick to plasters, pills, ointment-boxes;” and the majority of critics were equally unappreciative. Byron dubbed him “a tadpole of the Lakes,” and in divers letters to John Murray says, “There is such a trash of Keats and the like upon my tables that I am ashamed to look at them. No more Keats, I entreat.... Of the praises of the little dirty blackguard Keats in the Edinburgh I shall observe, as Johnson did when Sheridan the actor got a pension, ‘What, has he  got a pension? Then it is time that I should give up mine.' At present, all the men they have ever praised are degraded by that insane article. Why don't they review and praise Solomon's Guide to Health ? It is better sense and as much poetry as Johnny Keats.” After Keats was dead, Byron changed his opinions somewhat, and was anxious that his disparagements of him should be suppressed. “You know very well,” he writes to Murray, “that I did not approve of Keats's poetry, or principles of poetry, or of his abuse of Pope; but as he is dead, omit all that it said about him in any MSS. of mine, or publication. His Hyperion  is a fine monument, and will keep his name”; and he added later, “His fragment of Hyperion  seems actually inspired by the Titans, and is as sublime as Æschylus. He is a loss to our literature.”

Keats was too fully occupied with the writing of other poems, with the glowing raptures and black despairs of his passion for Fanny Brawne, and the anxieties attendant upon the illness that was already wearing him down, to give overmuch of his thoughts to the attacks of his critics; moreover, he found consolation in the society and friendship of such men as Cowden Clarke, Wentworth Dilke (who founded the Athenæum ), John Hamilton Reynolds, Haydon the painter, and Leigh Hunt, whom he frequently visited at that cottage of his in the Vale of Health, which ought never to have been demolished. For it was the meeting-place, too, of Keats and Shelley, and within it on one occasion, according to Cowden Clarke, Leigh Hunt challenged Keats, “then, and there, and to time,” to write in competition with him a sonnet on The Grasshopper and the Cricket, and Keats finished his first. Passing a night there when he could not sleep, Keats wrote his Sleep and Poetry ; and the cottage was rich, too, in rumours of such guests as Lamb, Hazlitt, and Coleridge.

 

KEATS' HOUSE. HAMPSTEAD.

 

Keats was introduced to Coleridge by Leigh Hunt. In 1816, when he was trying to cure himself of the opium habit, Coleridge went to live with Mr. Gilman, a surgeon, in a house that still stands in The Grove, Highgate, and walking with Hunt one day in Millfield Lane, which runs on the Highgate side of the Heath, he chanced to meet Keats, and this is his own account of the meeting: “A loose, slack, and not well-dressed youth met me in a lane near Highgate. It was Keats. He was introduced to me, and stayed a minute or so. After he had left us a little way, he ran back and said, ‘Let me carry away the memory, Coleridge, of having pressed your hand.' ‘There is death in that hand,' I said when Keats was gone; yet this was, I believe, before the consumption showed itself distinctly.” But another four years were not past when Hone, the author of The Table Book, saw “poor Keats, the poet of The Pot of Basil, sitting and sobbing his dying breath into a handkerchief,” on a bench at the end of Well Walk, overlooking the Heath, “glancing parting looks towards the quiet landscape he had delighted in so much.”

Perhaps the best descriptions of Keats in the last four years of his life are those given by Haydon, the painter, in his Memoirs, and by Leigh Hunt in his Autobiography. “He was below the middle size,” according to Haydon, “with a low forehead and an eye that had an inward look perfectly divine, like a Delphian priestess who saw visions.... Unable to bear the sneers of ignorance or the attacks of envy, not having strength of mind enough to buckle himself together like a porcupine, and present nothing but his prickles to his enemies, he began to despond, flew to dissipation as a relief which, after a temporary elevation of spirits, plunged him into deeper despondency than ever. For six weeks he was scarcely sober, and to show what a man does to gratify his habits, when once they get the better of him, he once covered his tongue and throat as far as he could reach with cayenne pepper, in order to appreciate the ‘delicious coldness of claret in all its glory'—his own expression.” Leigh Hunt writes, “He was under the middle height; and his lower limbs were small in comparison with the upper, but neat and well turned. His shoulders were very broad for his size: he had a face in which energy and sensibility were remarkably mixed up; an eager power, checked and made patient by ill health. Every feature was at once strongly cut and delicately alive. If there was any faulty expression, it was in the mouth, which was not without something of a character of pugnacity. His face was rather long than otherwise; the upper lip projected a little over the under; the chin was bold, the cheeks sunken; the eyes mellow and glowing, large, dark, and sensitive. At the recital of a noble action, or a beautiful thought, they would suffuse with tears and his mouth trembled. In this there was ill health as well as imagination, for he did not like these betrayals of emotion; and he had great personal as well as moral courage. He once chastised a butcher, who had been insolent, by a regular stand-up fight.” (Tradition says this fight took place in one of the narrow courts out of the High Street, Hampstead.) “His hair, of a brown colour, was fine, and hung in natural ringlets. The head was a puzzle for the phrenologists, being remarkably small in the skull; a singularity he had in common with Byron and Shelley, whose hats I could not get on.” Add to these a description given by one who knew him to Lord Houghton: “His eyes were large and blue, his hair auburn; he wore it divided down the centre, and it fell in rich masses each side of his face; his mouth was full, and less intellectual than his other features. His countenance lives in my mind as one of singular beauty and brightness; it had the expression as if it had been looking on some glorious sight.”

The last two years of his life at Hampstead, with their quiet happiness, fierce unrests, passionate hopes and despairs, are all wonderfully reflected in his letters of this period. He writes from Wentworth Place to John Taylor, the publisher, in 1818, setting forth his poetical creed and saying, with a clear perception of its defects, “If Endymion  serves me as a pioneer, perhaps I ought to be content.... I have, I am sure, many friends who, if I fail, will attribute any change in my life and temper to humbleness rather than pride—to a cowering under the wings of great poets, rather than to a bitterness that I am not appreciated. I am anxious to get Endymion  printed that I may forget it and proceed.” There is a long letter to his sister in 1819, telling her of the books he has been reading, and describing his every-day life, beginning, “The candles are burnt down and I am using the wax taper, which has a long snuff on it—the fire is at its last click—I am sitting with my back to it, with one foot rather askew upon the rug and the other with the heel a little elevated from the carpet. I am writing this on The Maid's Tragedy, which I have read since tea with great pleasure. Besides this volume of Beaumont and Fletcher, there are on the table two volumes of Chaucer and a new work of Tom Moore's called Tom Cribb's Memorial to Congress —nothing in it.” Reading this minute little sketch of himself, it is easy to picture him sitting late that night in his quiet room in Keats Grove; but it is the letters to Fanny Brawne that give this house, which was then two houses, its deepest and most living interest.

 

CONSTABLE'S HOUSE. HAMPSTEAD.

 

In 1819 he writes to her, whilst he is away holidaying in the Isle of Wight and she at Wentworth Place, “I have never known any unalloyed happiness for many days together; the death or sickness of some one has always spoilt my hours—and now, when none such troubles oppress me, it is, you must confess, very hard that another sort of pain should haunt me. Ask yourself, my love, whether you are not very cruel to have so entrammelled me, so destroyed my freedom.” And again, “Your letter gave me more delight than anything in the world but yourself could do.... I never knew before what such love as you have made me feel was; I did not believe in it; my fancy was afraid of it, lest it should burn me up.” And again, “I have been in so irritable a state of health these two or three last days, that I did not think I should be able to write this week.... I have been, I cannot tell why, in capital spirits this last hour. What reason? When I have to take my candle and retire to a lonely room, without the thought, as I fall asleep, of seeing you to-morrow morning? or the next day, or the next—it takes on the appearance of impossibility and eternity. I will say a month—I will say I will see you in a month at most, though no one but yourself should see me; if it be but for an hour. I should not like to be so near you as London without being continually with you; after having once more kissed you, Sweet, I would rather be here alone at my task than in the bustle and hateful literary chitchat. Meantime you must write to me—as I will every week—for your letters keep me alive.”

Back in London, making a short stay with Leigh Hunt, then living at College Street, Kentish Town, Keats sends to Wentworth Place a letter to Fanny Brawne, in the course of which he tells her, “My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again—my Life seems to stop there—I see no further. You have absorbed me.... My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you.” Even when he is home again, in his own part of the Wentworth Place house, he is writing in February 1820, “They say I must remain confined to this room for some time. The consciousness that you love me will make a pleasant prison of the house next to yours. You must come and see me frequently: this evening without fail”; and again, in the same month, “You will have a pleasant walk to-day. I shall see you pass. I shall follow you with my eyes over the Heath. Will you come towards evening instead of before dinner? When you are gone, 'tis past—if you do not come till the evening I have something to look forward to all day. Come round to my window for a moment when you have read this.”

In September of that year he set out on that voyage to Italy from which he was never to return, and whilst the ship was delayed off the Isle of Wight, he wrote to his friend, Charles Armitage Brown, at the old Hampstead address, “The very thing which I want to live most for will be a great occasion of my death. I cannot help it. Who can help it?... I daresay you will be able to guess on what subject I am harping—you know what was my greatest pain during the first part of my illness at your house. I wish for death every day and night to deliver me from these pains, and then I wish death away, for death would destroy even those pains which are better than nothing.... I think, without my mentioning it, for my sake, you would be a friend to Miss Brawne when I am dead. You think she has many faults—but, for my sake, think she has not one. If there is anything you can do for her by word or deed I know you will do it.... The thought of leaving Miss Brawne is beyond everything horrible—the sense of darkness coming over me—I eternally see her figure eternally vanishing. Some of the phrases she was in the habit of using during my last nursing at Wentworth Place ring in my ears. Is there another life? Shall I awake and find all this a dream? There must be; we cannot be created for this sort of suffering.”

 

GEORGE DUMAURIER'S GRAVE. HAMPSTEAD.

 

Because of all this, and of the reiterated longings and the heartaches that Keats poured out in other letters that he wrote from Italy, and that were delivered here to Armitage Brown, I always feel that Wentworth Place is the saddest and most sacred of London's literary shrines.

The Learned Societies of London

By Sir Edward Brabrook, C.B., F.S.A.

n a sense some of the City Guilds are entitled to be called "learned societies"—as the Apothecaries, the Parish Clerks, the Stationers, and the Surgeons—but they are dealt with under their proper head. By the learned societies of London, we mean here those voluntary bodies existing with or without royal patronage, but relying wholly for support on the contributions of their members, which have taken upon themselves the promotion of knowledge in one or more of its branches. The earliest which we have been able to trace is that Society of Antiquaries which was founded in 1572, the fourteenth year of Queen Elizabeth, at the house of Sir Robert Cotton, under the presidency of Archbishop Parker. It counted among its members Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, William Camden, Sir William Dethicke, Garter, William Lambarde, James Ley, Earl of Marlborough, John Stow, Mr. Justice Whitelock, and other antiquaries of distinction. It is said that James I. became alarmed for the arcana of his Government and, as some thought, for the established Church, and accordingly put an end to the existence of the society in 1604.

His grandson, Charles II., founded the Royal Society of London for improving natural knowledge in the year 1660, and thus gave effect to a project which had been in the minds of many learned men for some time, is expounded by Bacon in his scheme of Solomon's house, and is perhaps best embodied in a letter which was addressed by John Evelyn to the Hon. Robert Boyle on September 1, 1659. The first meeting recorded in the journals of the society was held on November 28, 1660, and Evelyn was elected a member on December 26 of that year. Sir R. Moray was the first president. Graunt aptly called the society "The King's Privy Council for Philosophy." Statutes were duly framed by the society, and received the King's approval in January, 1662-3. For many years it held its meetings at Gresham College, with an interval of about four years (1669-1673), when it occupied Chelsea College. Its charters (dated 1662, 1663, and 1669) gave it many privileges, among others that of using a mace, and it was formerly said that the one used by the society was the identical mace or "bauble" of the Long Parliament, but that is an error. The society began in 1663 the excellent practice, which has continued to the present day, of celebrating the anniversary by dining together on St. Andrew's Day (November 30). It began on February 21, 1665-6, the formation of its museum, a catalogue of which was published in 1681. Many of its meetings were devoted to practical experiment; thus, on November 14, 1666, the operation of the transfusion of blood from one dog to another was performed in the presence of the members. In 1671 Isaac Newton sent his reflecting telescope to the society, and on January 11, 1671-2, he was elected a fellow. On April 28, 1686, the manuscript of his Principia  was presented to the society, and it was published by the society in the following year. Many great men have been presidents of the society. Among them may be mentioned Sir Christopher Wren, elected president January 12, 1680-1; Samuel Pepys, 1684; Lord Somers, Chancellor of England, 1698; Isaac Newton, 1703; Sir Hans Sloane, on the death of Newton, 1726-7; Martin Folkes, who was also a well-remembered President of the Society of Antiquaries, 1741; the Earl of Macclesfield, 1753; succeeded on his death by the Earl of Morton, 1764; James West, 1768; James Barrow, and shortly afterwards, Sir John Pringle, 1772; Sir Joseph Banks, 1777; Wollaston, 1820; Davies Gilbert, 1826. In 1830, a contested election took place between the Duke of Sussex and Herschel the astronomer, when His Royal Highness was elected by 119 votes to 111.

The Government have frequently availed themselves of the existence of the Royal Society to entrust it with important public duties. On December 12, 1710, the fellows of the society were appointed visitors of the Royal Observatory. On February 7, 1712/3, the King requested the society to supply enquiries for his ambassadors. In 1742, and afterwards, it assisted in the determination of the standards. In 1780 its public services were recognised by the grant of apartments in Somerset House. In 1784 it undertook a geodetical survey. Recently it has been entrusted by Parliament with a sum of £4,000 a year, which it allots towards encouraging scientific research. It has promoted many public movements, such as Arctic expeditions, magnetic observations, and the like. Originally its members were drawn from two classes—the working-men of science and the patrons of science; and the idea is even now maintained by certain privileges in respect of election given to privy councillors and peers; but the recent tendency has been to restrict its fellowship to persons eminent in physical science. The Royal Society Club was founded in 1743, and still flourishes.

After the summary proceedings of James I., in 1604, the antiquaries seem to have allowed the whole of the seventeenth century to pass without any further attempt at organisation, though we learn from Mr. Ashmole that on July 2, 1659, an antiquaries' feast was held, and many renowned antiquaries, such as Dugdale, Spelman, Selden, and Anthony à Wood flourished at that time. On November 5, 1707, three antiquaries met at the "Bear" Tavern in the Strand, and agreed to hold a weekly meeting at the same place on Fridays at 6 o'clock, "and sit till ten at farthest." Other antiquaries joined them, and they removed next year to the "Young Devil" Tavern in Fleet Street, where Le Neve became their president.

THE
ROYAL SOCIETY'S
LETTER.

I have (by Order of the Royal Society) seen and examined the Method used by Mr JOHN MARSHALL, for grinding Glasses; and find that he performs the said Work with greater Ease and Certainty than hitherto has been practised; by means of an Invention which I take to be his own, and New; and whereby he is enabled to make a great number of Optick-Glasses at one time, and all exactly alike; which having reported to the Royal Society, they were pleased to approve thereof, as an Invention of great use; and highly to deserve Encouragement.

Lond. Jan. 18. 
1693, 4.

By the Command of the
Royal Society.
EDM. HALLEY.

Note, There are several Persons who pretend to have the Approbation of the ROYAL SOCIETY; but none has, or ever had it, but my self; as my Letter can testifie.

Marshall s True SPECTACLES.

An Early Letter of the Royal Society, dated January 18th, 1693-4.

In 1717 they resolved to form themselves into a society, which is the Society of Antiquaries now existing. Its minutes have been regularly kept since January 1, 1718. The first volume bears the motto:

"Nec veniam antiquis, sed honorem et præmia posci.

"Stukeley, secr., 1726";

and the whole of the volume appears to be in Stukeley's autograph.

In a quaint preliminary memorandum, he enumerates the "antient monuments" the society was to study, as:

"Old Citys, Stations, Camps, public Buildings, Roads, Temples, Abbys, Churches, Statues, Tombs, Busts, Inscriptions, Castles, Ruins, Altars, Ornaments, Utensils, Habits, Seals, Armour, Pourtraits, Medals, Urns, Pavements, Mapps, Charts, Manuscripts, Genealogy, Historys, Observations, Emendations of Books, already published, and whatever may properly belong to the History of Bryttish Antiquitys."

The earlier publications of the society consisted of a series of fine prints engraved by George Vertue. In 1747 it began the issue of Vetusta Monumenta, and in 1770 the first edition of the first volume of Archæologia, or Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Antiquity, appeared. The Society's resources were modest. In the year 1736 its income was only £61, but its expenditure was not more than £11, and its accumulated funds amounted to £134. In 1752 it obtained from George II., who declared himself to be the founder and patron of the society, a Royal Charter of Incorporation, reciting that:

"the study of Antiquity and the History of former times, has ever been esteemed highly commendable and usefull, not only to improve the minds of men, but also to incite them to virtuous and noble actions, and such as may hereafter render them famous and worthy examples to late posterity."

The qualifications of a fellow are thus defined in the charter:—

"By how much any persons shall be more excelling in the knowledge of the Antiquities and History of this and other nations; by how much the more they are desirous to promote the Honour, Business, and Emoluments of this Society; and by how much the more eminent they shall be for Piety, Virtue, Integrity, and Loyalty: by so much the more fit and worthy shall such person be judged of being elected and admitted into the said Society."

Like the Royal Society, the Society of Antiquaries was to have and employ a sergeant-at-mace, and apartments were allotted to it in Somerset House. From this close neighbourhood grew an intimate association between the two societies. Many persons belonged to both, and although the paths of the two societies have since diverged, that is still so in the case of about twenty fellows. A practice grew up of attending each other's meetings. For more than forty years that agreeable form of interchange has ceased, and the societies contemplate each other from opposite corners of the quadrangle of Burlington House. The Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries dined together for many years on St. George's Day, April 23, the day prescribed for their anniversary by the charter; but after a while the custom fell into disuse, and it has only been revived of late years.

In 1753 the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, now called the Royal Society of Arts, was established. It held its first public meeting in March, 1754. It was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1847, and has for its objects:—

"the encouragement of the arts, manufactures, and commerce of the country, by bestowing rewards for such productions, inventions, or improvements as tend to the employment of the poor, to the increase of trade, and to the riches and honour of the kingdom; and for meritorious works in the various departments of the fine arts; for discoveries, inventions and improvements in agriculture, chemistry, mechanics, manufactures, and other useful arts; for the application of such natural and artificial products, whether of home, colonial, or foreign growth and manufacture, as may appear likely to afford fresh objects of industry, and to increase the trade of the realm by extending the sphere of British commerce; and generally to assist in the advancement, development, and practical application of every department of science in connection with the arts, manufactures, and commerce of this country."

Between 1754 and 1783 it distributed £28,434 by way of premiums for inventions. For more than a century and a half the society has devoted itself with unabated zeal to the promotion of its objects—by meetings, examinations, exhibitions, and in many other ways.

On January 13, 1800, the Royal Institution was founded. In the words of one of its most distinguished professors, it has been a fertile source of the popularity of science. By means of its lectures, its laboratories, its libraries, and its rewards for research, it greatly stimulated public interest in scientific pursuits when there were few other bodies in existence capable of doing so. It continues to perform the same useful function, notwithstanding the great increase in the number of specialist societies since it was established. A feature of its lectures is the annual course "adapted to a juvenile auditory." It has appointed as its professors some of the most illustrious scientific men, such as Sir Humphry Davy (up to 1812), Brande (1813 to 1852, and afterwards as honorary professor), Faraday (1852), and Tyndall (1853). The late Prince Consort (Albert the Good) took great interest in its work, and frequently presided at its weekly meetings. It has a Board of Managers, and also a Committee of Visitors, annually elected, and the visitors make an annual report on the state of the institution. After some early pecuniary difficulties it entered on a career of steady prosperity.

In 1807 the Geological Society was founded. The science of geology was very much opposed to popular notions derived from a literal interpretation of the Hebrew cosmogony, and was accordingly unpopular among those who held those notions; but the society steadily pursued its object, and can now look back upon the hundred years of its existence with pride and satisfaction. In one of his presidential addresses Sir Charles Lyell quoted the observation of Hutton, that "We can see neither the beginning nor the end of that vast series of phenomena which it is our business as geologists to investigate." Leonard Horner, another distinguished president, claimed that the society had been a "powerful instrument for the advancement of geological science, a centre of good fellowship, and a band of independent scientific men, who steadily and fearlessly promote the cause of truth." The society grants an annual medal, founded in memory of Wollaston, which has been frequently awarded to foreign geologists of distinction; and it also administers a fund bequeathed by him to promote useful researches in geology.

In November, 1820, Dr. Burgess, the Bishop of St. David's, obtained an audience of King George IV., and laid before him a plan for the establishment of a Royal Society of Literature. The King took so warm an interest in the project as to assign out of his privy purse an annual sum of 1,100 guineas, out of which pensions of 100 guineas each were awarded to ten royal associates of the society, and two medals annually granted to distinguished literary men. Among the royal associates were Samuel Taylor Coleridge, T. R. Malthus, William Roscoe, and Sharon Turner. Among the medallists were Dugald Stewart, Walter Scott, Robert Southey, Washington Irving, and Henry Hallam. Upon September 15, 1825, the society received its Charter of Incorporation, in which its object is defined to be:—

"the advancement of literature by the publication of inedited remains of ancient literature, and of such works as may be of great intrinsic value, but not of that popular character which usually claims the attention of publishers; by the promotion of discoveries in literature; by endeavouring to fix the standard, as far as is practicable, and to preserve the purity of the English language; by the critical improvement of English lexicography; by the reading at public meetings of interesting papers on history, philosophy, poetry, philology, and the arts, and the publication of such of those papers as shall be approved of; by the assigning of honorary rewards to works of great literary merit, and to important discoveries in literature; and by establishing a correspondence with learned men in foreign countries for the purpose of literary enquiry and information."

The first method, the publication of inedited and other works, has been greatly promoted by a bequest to the society of £1,692 from the Rev. Dr. Richards. Out of the income of this fund the Orations of Hyperides, edited by the Rev. Churchill Babington; the Discourses of Philoxenus, by Dr. E. A. Wallis Budge; the Chronicle of Adam of Usk, by Sir E. Maunde Thompson; Coleridge's Christabel, by E. H. Coleridge; and other valuable works have been provided. The Transactions  of the society also contain many important papers. On the death of George IV. the annual gift of 100 guineas to each of the ten royal associates was withdrawn. The society now acknowledges literary merit by the award of the diploma of Honorary Fellow. In this capacity many distinguished authors, both in this country and abroad, have been and are associated with the society.

In its early years the society was hotly attacked by Macaulay, who held that its claim to be an appreciator of excellence in literature involved a claim to condemn literature of which it disapproved, and was equivalent to the establishment of a literary star-chamber. He illustrated this by a rather feeble apologue, and nothing in the subsequent history of the society has shown that his apprehensions had any foundation. It has been very modest in the exercise of the functions conferred upon it by its charter, which included the foundation of a college and the appointment of professors. At one time it did appoint a professor of English archæology and history, and it called upon every royal associate on his admission to select some branch of literature on which it should be his duty, once a year at least, to communicate some disquisition or essay. The subject chosen by Coleridge was a characteristic one:—

"The relations of opposition and conjunction, in which the poetry (the Homeric and tragic), the religion, and the mysteries of ancient Greece stood each to the other; with the differences between the sacerdotal and popular religion; and the influences of theology and scholastic logic on the language and literature of Christendom from the 11th century."

In pursuance of this undertaking he communicated a disquisition on the "Prometheus" of Æschylus.

In 1827 the Royal Asiatic Society was founded. As its title implies, it devotes itself to the study of the languages, the literature, the history, and the traditions of the peoples of Asia, especially of those inhabiting our Indian dependency. It has enrolled in its ranks many, if not all, the great Indian administrators and the most distinguished Asiatic scholars. Daughter societies have been established in the three Presidencies, and have contributed to the collection of materials for its work. Its transactions are of acknowledged value and authority. In its rooms at Albemarle Street a library and museum have been collected. Its latest publication is a collection of Baluchi poems by Mr. Longworth Dames, which has also been issued to the members of the Folk-lore Society.

On September 26, 1831, the British Association for the Advancement of Science held its first meeting at York. It originated in a letter addressed by Sir David Brewster to Professor Phillips, as secretary to the York Philosophical Society. The statement of its objects appended to its rules, as drawn up by the Rev. William Vernon Harcourt, is as follows:—

"The Association contemplates no interference with the ground occupied by other institutions. Its objects are:—To give a stronger impulse and a more systematic direction to scientific inquiry—to promote the intercourse of those, who cultivate science in different parts of the British Empire, with one another and with foreign philosophers—to obtain a more general attention to the objects of science, and a removal of any disadvantages of a public kind which impede its progress."

The association was well described by the late Mr. Spottiswoode as "general in its comprehensiveness; special in its sectional arrangement." The general business of its meetings consists (1) in receiving and discussing communications upon scientific subjects at the various sections into which it is divided; (2) in distributing, under the advice of a Committee of Recommendations, the funds arising from the subscriptions of members and associates; and (3) in electing a council upon whom devolves the conduct of affairs until the next meeting. Although the meetings are held in all parts of the United Kingdom, and have been held in Canada and South Africa, the British Association may be correctly described as a London learned society, as its headquarters are in London, where the council meets and directs its continuous activities. One principal feature of its work, that of the Research Committees, which, either with or without a grant of money, pursue special enquiries with the view of reporting to the next annual meeting, continues throughout the year. The original designation of what are now the sections was "Committees of Sciences," and these were—(1) mathematics and general physics, (2) chemistry and mineralogy, (3) geology and geography, (4) zoology and botany, (5) anatomy and physiology, (6) statistics. The sectional arrangement was begun in 1835, and the sections are now constituted as follows—(a ) mathematical and physical science, (b ) chemistry, (c ) geology, (d ) zoology, (e ) geography, (f ) economic science and statistics, (g ) engineering, (h ) anthropology, (i ) physiology, (k ) botany, (l ) educational science. At each annual meeting, which lasts a week, the president of the next meeting is chosen, but the previous president remains in office until the first day (Wednesday) of that meeting, when he introduces his successor, who delivers an address. Many memorable addresses have been delivered by the distinguished men who have held that office. Each section has also a president, chosen for the year, and he delivers an address at the opening of the proceedings of his section. These addresses usually relate to the progress during the year, or during recent years, of the science dealt with by the section, or to some interesting matter developed by the personal researches of the president himself. Men of eminence in the various sciences are generally selected for and willingly accept the office of Sectional President. The meetings of the British Association have been called a "Parliament of Science," and its influence in promoting scientific movements and rendering science popular has been very great.

In 1833 the Royal Geographical Society was founded. It may fairly be called the most popular of all the special societies, having about 4,000 members. It is also one of the most wealthy, having an income of about £10,000 a year. It has accumulated a fine series of maps, and a large library of geographical literature. Its quarterly journal is a store-house of the most recent information relating to geographical exploration. By medals and other rewards to explorers, by prizes awarded in schools and training colleges, by the loan of instruments to travellers, by the preparation of codes of instruction for their use, and in many other ways, it applies its resources to the extension of geographical knowledge. It has taken an active part in the promotion of Arctic and Antarctic exploration. As geographical researches are matters of great public interest, its meetings are sometimes important social functions, as on a recent occasion, when a foreign prince was the lecturer, and our King attended and spoke.

On March 15, 1834, the Statistical Society (now Royal Statistical) was founded. It was one of the first fruits of the activity of the British Association, which established a Statistical Committee at the Cambridge meeting in 1833, with Babbage as president. Their report recommended the formation of a society for the careful collection, arrangement, discussion, and publication of facts bearing on or illustrating the complex relations of modern society in its social, economical, and political aspects, especially facts which can be stated numerically and arranged in tables. The first president was the Marquis of Lansdowne, and among his successors have been many statesmen, such as Lord John Russell, Mr. Gladstone, and Lord Goschen; authorities on finance, as Lord Overstone, Mr. Newmarch, and Lord Avebury; and eminent writers on statistics, as Dr. Farr, Sir Robert Giffen, and the Right Hon. Charles Booth. As becomes the orderly mind of a statistician, the society has been very regular in its publications, having for seventy years issued a yearly volume in quarterly parts, which form a veritable mine of statistical information.

The society presents a Guy medal (in memory of Dr. W. A. Guy) to the authors of valuable papers or to others who have promoted its work, and a Howard medal (in memory of the great philanthropist) to the author of the best essay on a prescribed subject, generally having relation to the public health. It has accumulated a fine library of about 40,000 volumes of a special character, containing the statistical publications of all civilised countries. It has conducted some special enquiries—as into medical charities, the production and consumption of meat and milk, and the farm school system of the Continent—upon which it has published reports.

Among recent developments of statistical method in which the society has taken part may be mentioned the use of index-numbers for affording a standard of comparison between statistics of different years, and a means of correction of errors that would otherwise arise; and the increasing use of the higher mathematical analysis in determining the probabilities of error and defining the curves of frequency in statistical observations. Professor Edgeworth, Messrs. Bowley, Yule, Hooker, and others, have made contributions to the Journal  of the society on these matters.

In 1844 an Ethnological Society was established, under the presidency of Sir Charles Malcolm. Dr. Richard King, the founder, became its secretary. In 1846 Dr. J. C. Prichard became president, and he and Dr. King fulfilled respectively the same functions in an ethnological sub-section of the section of zoology of the British Association, which then met for the first time. In Prichard's first anniversary address to the society, he defines ethnology as "the history of human races or of the various tribes of men who constitute the population of the world. It comprehends all that can be learned as to their origin and relations to each other." Prichard died in 1848, and Sir C. Malcolm resumed the presidency, which he held until his death on November 12, 1851. In that year ethnology was transferred from the zoological to the geographical section of the British Association. Sir B. C. Brodie became the next president of the society. He retired in 1854, and was succeeded by Sir James Clark. The fourth and last volume of the first series of the society's Journal  was published in 1856, and a series of Transactions begun in 1861. At that time Mr. John Crawfurd was president of the society, and he retained the office until his death in 1868, when he was succeeded by Professor Huxley.

In 1862 Dr. James Hunt, the Honorary Foreign Secretary of the Ethnological Society, withdrew from it, and founded the Anthropological Society of London, which held its first meeting on February 24, 1863, under his presidency. In his inaugural address, he defined anthropology as the science of the whole nature of man, and ethnology as the history or science of nations or races. The new society was active and aggressive. It published translations of works of such writers as Broca, Pouchet, Vogt, and Waitz, and of the famous treatise of Blumenbach. Some of the papers read before it attracted much attention, and were thought to have a political bias. Many men whose names were well known in the scientific world adhered to the Ethnological Society, and that society, under Mr. Crawfurd, entered upon a more active career. The rivalry between the two societies was prosecuted with great vigour until January, 1871, when Professor Huxley effected an amalgamation between them.

The title of the combined societies was agreed upon as the "Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland," to which, in 1907, has been added by the King's command the prefix "Royal." In 1871 the department of ethnology in the section of biology in the British Association became the department of anthropology, and in 1884 anthropology became a section of itself. This was the final recognition by the Parliament of Science that Hunt had fought for twenty years before. In the interval, the claim of anthropology to this recognition had been established by many great works, such as Huxley's Man's Place in Nature, Darwin's Descent of Man, Tylor's Early History of Mankind, and Lubbock's Prehistoric Times. Besides its annual Journal, the Anthropological Institute publishes a monthly periodical entitled Man, and it has issued several separate monographs. In 1878 the branch of anthropology, aptly termed "Folk-lore" by the late Mr. W. J. Thoms, became so popular as to call for the establishment of a separate society, which publishes a quarterly journal entitled Folk-lore, and has annually issued one or more volumes of collections of folk-lore.

In 1844 a new departure was taken by the establishment of the British Archæological Association, a body which was intended to take the same place with regard to archæology that the British Association occupied with regard to science, holding meetings in various parts of the country where there existed objects of specially archæological interest. It held its first meeting at Canterbury, under the presidency of Lord Albert Conyngham (afterwards Lord Londesborough), and arranged its work in four sections—primæval, mediæval, architectural, and historical. Before a second meeting could be held, violent dissensions arose, and the association split into two. In the result honours were divided between the two bodies, those who retained the leadership of Lord Albert retaining also the title of British Archæological Association; while those who had for their president the Marquis of Northampton retained the control of the Archæological Journal, and adopted the title of "Archæological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland," to which has since been prefixed the word "Royal." Both bodies still exist, though the causes of controversy have long died out.

Shortly afterwards, County Archæological Societies in London and greater London began to be formed. In 1846 the Sussex Society, in 1853 the Essex Society, in 1854 the Surrey Society, in 1855 the London and Middlesex Society, and in 1857 the Kent Society were established. Each of these societies has published transactions and other works of solid value. In each the annual or more frequent excursion to places of archæological interest within the county is an essential feature, tending to the dissemination of knowledge and to the preservation of antiquities, and affording the advantages of social intercourse. Societies have also been established for the like purposes within more restricted areas, as in Hampstead, Battersea, Balham, Lewisham, Whitechapel, and elsewhere.

Of merely publishing societies, the Percy, the Camden, the Shakespeare, and the Arundel have run their course; but many others, as the Roxburgh, the Harleian, the New Palæographic, and the Palæontological still exist to delight their subscribers with the reproduction of rare works.

In this summary account of the principal Learned Societies of London it has not been possible to include many societies of great importance, such as the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, the numerous societies connected with other professional pursuits, the Linnæan, Zoological, Botanical, and other societies devoted to natural history; the Royal Astronomical Society, which has important public functions; the Royal Academy, and other institutions devoted to art. The roll of Learned Societies is being constantly increased. Among recent additions may be mentioned the British Academy for Historical Studies, and the Sociological Society.

London under the Romans—Gilds—Burghs—Charter of William the
Conqueror—Reflections—Subsequent Charters—City divided into
Wards—Civic Hospitality—The Quo Warranto Case—Restoration of the
Charter.

The first historical notice of the City of London occurs in that portion of the Annals of Tacitus which treats of the insurrection of Boadicea. At that time it was a place much frequented by merchants, attracted partly by the natural advantages of the site, and partly by the vicinity of the Roman camp at Islington. It is stated that 70,000 persons, of both sexes and of all ages, were massacred by that fierce heroine in London and at St. Albans; but it must not be supposed that the ordinary population of those two towns could have formed so large an aggregate. It is far more probable that numbers of old men, women, and children flocked thither from the neighbourhood, in the hope of escaping from the violence and rapine of the patriot army. Their expectations, however, were disappointed, as the Roman general deemed it more prudent to evacuate an untenable post, than to risk the dominion of the entire island on the event of a battle fought under adverse circumstances. At the same time the slaughter of the inhabitants justifies the inference that they were foreigners rather than natives, some being traders from Gaul, but the majority either Roman colonists or the followers and hangers-on of the stationary camp. Indeed, it may be gathered from the description of Tacitus, that these traders were chiefly commissariat contractors and brokers or money-changers. The Romans do not appear to have evinced a high order of commercial instinct, nor to have looked upon the development of trade as one of the chief objects of government. Their mission was to overrun other nations, and to prevent them from indulging in internecine warfare. To them mankind are therefore indebted for the preservation of whatever civilization was then extant, and for stopping the retrogressive course of the human race. This was particularly observable in their conquest of Greece and the kingdoms of Asia Minor, where incessant quarrels between rival cities and principalities had checked the progress of the arts, sciences, and literature. Content to conquer in battle, and, as the just reward of their superior prowess, to impose tribute and a governor, they seldom interfered with local customs and usages. Perhaps one great secret of their marvellous success was this systematic abstinence from intermeddling with the local administrations. The principle of self-government was never more fully appreciated than by this remarkable people, who, sending forth consuls, vice-consuls, and prefects, yet left to the conquered the management of their own affairs and the guardianship of their own interests. Not even in the most corrupt days of the empire was it attempted to absorb the patronage of every department and province for the benefit of a few, under the pretext of imparting greater vigour to the administration of public affairs by centralization. It was not deemed wise or necessary to constitute central boards for the direction of matters with which not a single member might, possibly, be acquainted. They did not aim at an ideal perfection, but were satisfied with doing what was practicable, and with a large average of general prosperity. To each civitas—corresponding to our phrase of "city and county"—was assigned the regulation of its own domestic policy, by means of annual magistrates, a chosen senate, and the general assembly of the free inhabitants. Through this wise policy of non-interference, the City of London rapidly acquired wealth and importance, and before the evacuation of the island by the Romans, had attained a position of considerable grandeur. The civic institutions of the Saxons were, indeed, admirably suited for the adaptation of the municipal customs bequeathed to them by their predecessors, and which became developed to their full proportions through the greater amount of individual liberty that prevailed among the Germanic races.

Of the purely Teutonic institutions, one of the most characteristic was that of Gilds. Originally, a gild was nothing more than an association of ten families, for purposes of mutual protection and security. By the custom of "frankpledge," every freeman at the age of fourteen was called upon to give securities for his good behaviour. Gilds were therefore formed, binding themselves to produce the offender if any breach of the peace was committed by one of their members, or to give redress to the injured party. To carry out these objects a small fund was raised, to which every one contributed; and thence was derived the name of the association: "gildan," in Saxon, signifying to pay. With a view to becoming better acquainted with one another, and to draw more closely the bands of friendship, convivial meetings were held at fixed periods, when a vast quantity of beer was quaffed in honour of the living, and to the memory of the dead. In after-times this truly Saxon institution assumed greater proportions, and embraced both ecclesiastical and secular gilds. Of the former it is unnecessary to make further mention, but the latter formed the germ of the present livery companies. The earlier secular or mercantile gilds were associations of members of a particular trade or craft, for the purpose of maintaining and advancing the privileges of their peculiar calling. The term was also applied to a district or "soke," possessed of independent franchises, as in the case of the Portsoken Ward, which was anciently known as the Cnighten Gild. A "soke," or soca, it may be incidentally observed, was the territory in which was exercised the soca, or the privilege of hearing causes and disputes, levying fines, and administering justice within certain limits. The practice of gildating or embodying the aggregate free population of a town was of considerably later date. In France and in Flanders, corporations and communes, or commonalties, appear to have existed in the middle of the eleventh century, but the earliest mention of the Corporation of London occurs in the second year of the reign of Richard I. Availing himself of the king's absence in the Holy Land, his brother John, Earl of Moreton, anxious to acquire the co-operation of the city of London in his traitorous designs upon the crown, convened a general assembly of the citizens, and confirmed their ancient rights and privileges by a formal deed or charter. It was then, for the first time, that the commonalty of the city was regularly and officially recognized as a corporate body. The distinctive rights of a town corporation were the election of a council presided over by a mayor or bailiff, a common seal, a bell to convoke the citizens, and local jurisdiction.

But although it was not before the reign of Richard I. that the citizens of London were formed into a body corporate, they had enjoyed, as the inhabitants of a free burgh, the immunities and many essential privileges of a corporation, from the time of Edward the Confessor, if not of Alfred. Without stopping to discuss the etymology of the word "burgh," it may suffice to observe that at the period of the Conquest by far the greater part of the cities and towns of England were the private property of the king, or of some spiritual or secular lord, on whom they had been conferred by royal grant. These burghs, as they were called, were said to be held in demesne, and paid to their superior certain tolls, duties, and customs, levied on goods exposed for sale at markets and fairs. The inhabitants were actually little better than villeins or serfs, and were entirely at the mercy of their feudal lord. Immense, therefore, were the advantages possessed by the free burghs, such as London, which governed themselves, and compounded for all dues by the payment of a fixed annual sum. These annual contributions were styled the "farm," and, when perpetual, the burghs so compounding were said to be held at fee-farm of the king in capite, as was the case with London. One of the chief privileges implied by this tenure was that of exercising an independent jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, administered by magistrates chosen by the burgesses. It is supposed that criminal law was originally dispensed in the free gilds into which the city was divided, under the presidency of an alderman. These divisions were afterwards called wards, and were analogous to the corresponding division of the shire into hundreds. In each ward was held a court-leet, or ward-mote, dating from the time of Alfred, though the actual institution of wards by that name is no later than the reign of Edward I. Civil causes, in London at least, were tried before a peculiar tribunal, the president of which was probably the portreve, or, in minor causes, an alderman.

The Norman Conquest naturally suspended for a time all these privileges, and reduced all free towns to the level of burghs in demesne. Desirous, however, to secure the good will of the citizens, William hastened to assure them of his protection, and to confirm their prescriptive rights and immunities. Thus ran the gracious expression of the royal pleasure:—"William the king greets William the bishop, and Godfrey the portreve, and all the burghers within London, French and English, friendly. And I make known to you that I will that ye be law-worthy, as ye were in the days of King Edward. And I will, that each child be his father's heir after his father's days. And I will not suffer that any man command you any wrong. God keep you."

The import of this charter was to make the citizens "free tenants," reserving to the king the seigniory, or proprietary title. The epithet "law-worthy" is equivalent to a declaration that they were freemen, for in the feudal ages none other were entitled to the forms of law; while the right of heirship apparently exempted them from the rule of primogeniture which prevailed among the Norman conquerors;—it is probable, however, that this exemption did not long hold good. In other respects the citizens of London continued to be governed by their own laws and usages, administered by their own magistrates after the ancient and established forms. A nucleus of liberty was thus preserved amidst the tyrannical usurpations of the Norman barons, and the bold burgesses many a time stoutly resisted the encroachments that were attempted to be made on their hereditary rights. At all periods of English history, indeed, have the citizens of London stepped forward as the champions of freedom, and shown themselves the incorruptible guardians of the public interests. Never at any time, however, was there greater necessity for a sturdy bulwark against the growing power of the oligarchy than at the present moment. Little by little—or, rather, by rapid strides—does the Government seek to get within its grasp the control of every department of the commonwealth. To-day, the East-India Company is abolished, for the sake of the "better government of India;" to-morrow, the Corporation is to be "reformed," for the "better government" of the City; the day after, some other long-established institution will be swept away. There is nothing so repugnant to a ministry as whatever savours of self-government; for how. in that case can the "Dowbs" be provided for? So long as the citizens manage their own affairs, there is no patronage at the disposal of ministers to bestow on a faithful or a wavering partisan. Young "honourables" and other needy scions of the governing classes have little ambition to undertake civic duties, while they are only onerous and expensive. Let the wedge be first applied. Let "reform" worm its way into the constitution of the Corporation, and then by degrees the whole edifice may gradually be subverted. Stipendiary magistracies and paid offices of any kind, if not too laborious, are always acceptable for sons, nephews, cousins, and influential supporters. The danger from this quarter is in truth greater than when Norman William had the island prostrate at his feet, and when the liberties of the City hung upon his word. That word went forth to save and to preserve. The stern warrior respected the rights of the industrious burgesses, and by his wisdom paved the way for the future greatness of the metropolis. But theoretical and doctrinaire statesmen are willing to risk all for the sake of consistency to certain arbitrary first principles, which do not apply to the spirit of the British people.

The charter of William the Conqueror, the reader will have remarked, alludes in a very general manner to the liberties and privileges enjoyed by the City. The first detailed and specific notice of their character occurs in the charter of Henry I. In the early part of his reign, being anxious to fix himself securely in his seat, the usurper conveyed, or confirmed, a grant to the citizens to hold Middlesex to farm for the yearly rental of 300 pounds; to appoint their own sheriff and their own justiciar; to be exempt from various burdensome and vexatious taxes in force in other parts of the kingdom; to be free from all denominations of tolls, customs, passage, and lestage, throughout the kingdom and along the seaboard; and to possess many other equally important privileges. This valuable charter was renewed by King Stephen, during whose stormy and troubled reign the metropolis enjoyed a degree of prosperity unknown to the rest of the kingdom. The comparative peace and security which distinguished the happy lot of the citizens of London, have been justly attributed to the maintenance of their ancient institutions, which may be said to have grown out of the habits, requirements, thoughts, and feelings characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race. Nor were the Londoners unconscious of their power, or ungrateful to their benefactor. It was chiefly through their influence and exertions that the empress was finally driven out of the kingdom, and Stephen established on the throne. Henry II. confirmed the purport of preceding charters, and added some further immunities, concluding with the declaration that their ancient customs and liberties were to be held as of inheritance from the king and his heirs. They became, therefore, the property of the citizens, and were bequeathed from father to son, as a cherished heirloom. It is true that under Richard I. they were exposed to some extortion, for which they received ample amends during the reign of his weak and inglorious successor. Not only did they obtain five different charters confirmatory of their ancient privileges, together with the restoration of the sheriffwick, usurped by the last three monarchs, but also the first formal recognition of the mayoralty. These favours, however, did not render them untrue to the general interests of the nation, or betray them into a corrupt acquiescence with the absolute tendencies of the Crown. At that time, as at all others, while duly reverencing the royal prerogatives, they resolutely opposed themselves to the undue aggrandizement of the kingly power at the expense of the other estates of the realm. It was within the precincts of the City, at the metropolitan church of St. Paul's, that the articles of Magma Charta were first proposed and accepted by acclamation, the citizens binding themselves by oath to defend and enforce them with their lives. Nor was it for themselves alone that they were prepared to shed their blood. Their solicitude extended to all other cities and towns throughout the kingdom, for the preservation of whose free customs and immunities they expressly stipulated. During the long feeble reign of Henry III., no fewer than ten charters were granted to the citizens of London. In the thirty-first year of that monarch, the mayor and commonalty of the City of London are mentioned for the first time as a corporate body, possessing a common seal.

The reign of Edward I. was rendered memorable for the convocation of the first parliament of the freely-elected representatives of the people, for the purpose of voting the supplies necessary for the conduct of public affairs. Previously to this, grants of money were usually obtained through the personal influence of the barons over the cities and towns held in demesne. The burgesses, however, did not sit with the knights of shires, but apart by themselves, and, through loyalty or obsequiousness, assessed themselves in a contribution nearly one third greater than that granted by the barons and knights. The convenient precedent was not overlooked, and it became henceforth customary to expect the like liberality from subsequent parliaments. At this period, also, the principal divisions of the city were first denominated wards; these wards were presided over by an alderman, assisted by a council chosen by the inhabitants of each division. In the twelfth year of his reign, Edward, incensed by what he considered the disrespectful conduct of the civic magistrates, disfranchised the city, and governed it for twelve years through means of a custos. The experiment, however, did not answer, and the king was glad to restore the liberties of the City on payment of a heavy fine. At a later period, the mayor and sheriffs successfully resisted a second attempt to infringe on the privileges of the citizens. Under the second Edward, London continued to maintain its ascendancy over all the other cities in the kingdom, and it was now for the first time authentically ordained, that no person should be held to enjoy civic freedom unless he were a member of some trade or "mystery," or admitted by full assent of the commonalty assembled.

Two remarkable incidents marked the reign of Edward III. in connection with the City of London; the Lord Mayor was now constituted, by royal charter, one of the judges of oyer and terminer and gaol-delivery at Newgate. The ancient trading gilds also became developed into the present livery companies, so called, because a peculiar uniform was chosen by each. They were then likewise denominated crafts or mysteries, their president being styled a warden; the title of alderman being now reserved for the chief magistrates of wards. It may, too, be worthy of note that, in the 28th year of this reign the city serjeants received permission, when engaged in their official duties, and on great ceremonial occasions, to bear maces of gold or silver, with the royal or other arms thereon. We are told that this was considered a most flattering distinction, and that the mace-bearer, by virtue of his office, was deemed an esquire.

So gladly did our valiant and victorious kings of the olden times avail themselves of every opportunity to do honour to the liberality, courage, and fidelity of the wealthy and intelligent burgesses of London.

After various unsuccessful attempts to establish a representative form of government, it was at length decided, in the seventh year of Richard II., at a special convocation of the whole community of citizens, that there should be both a deliberative and an elective assembly. The latter, of course, consisted of the aggregate body of citizens, anciently designated immensa communitas, or folkmote, who were annually to elect four persons at the wardmote for each ward to represent the commonalty on all occasions of a deliberative nature. During the early part of this reign the City of London had no reason to complain of any lack of royal favour. Afterwards, however, Richard was guilty of many attempts at extortion, and even seized upon the franchises of the City, on the pretext of a riot, notwithstanding that the first charter of his grandfather, Edward III., had debarred such forfeiture as the consequence of individual misconduct. These acts of oppression very naturally and justly alienated the attachment of the Londoners, and prepared them to give a hearty welcome to Bolingbroke. This good-feeling was maintained throughout the reign of Henry IV., who testified his gratitude by the grant of several valuable privileges. A like cordial understanding between the citizens and their sovereign existed under Henry V., and the City, in consequence, increased in opulence, population, and influence. Guildhall was built, and the streets were lighted at night by public lanterns. The halcyon days, however, of the City of London must be referred to the reign of the fourth Edward. The citizens never wavered in their attachment to his fortunes, nor did that gay and gallant monarch ever exhibit any coldness of feeling—at least, towards their fair dames. Of Richard III. it is unnecessary to speak, and even of Henry VII there is little to be said, save that he never omitted an opportunity of fleecing the citizens and replenishing his exchequer.

Under Henry VIII. the City of London earned the honourable distinction of being the only body of men in the realm who dared to resist the king's systematic abuse of the royal power. Henry had revived the unconstitutional practice of imposing taxes without the consent of the Commons; but the citizens opposed his illegal demands with such resolution that he was compelled to desist for the time and to proceed with greater caution for the future. Another distinguishing feature of this reign was the profuse extravagance of the citizens on ceremonial occasions. The chronicles of the period teem with marvellous descriptions of the pomp and pageantry displayed whenever a royal or illustrious personage honoured the City with a visit. In modern times this semi-barbarous love of ostentation has been superseded by a genial and dignified hospitality, that has tended in no slight degree to increase the fame and influence of that important quarter of the metropolis. Each successive sovereign of this great empire has accepted with grateful pride the magnificent demonstrations of loyalty tendered by the faithful burgesses. Foreign potentates and ambassadors have equally deemed it an honour to receive the congratulations of these princely traders at their sumptuous banquets, celebrated throughout the world. The ministers of the day feel their position to be insecure until it has been ratified by the acclamations of the citizens, and the hospitable attentions of the civic magistrates. Statesmen and warriors, poets and historians, men of thought and men of action, are all stimulated to exertion by the honourable hope of being distinguished by the burgesses of London, and enrolled in the lists of freemen. On such occasions the city magnates hold high festival, and by their graceful hospitality inspire every breast with generous sympathy. Formal and priggish persons are said to exist who object to the cost of such entertainments, and, in the spirit of Judas, ask why, instead of purchasing these dainty cates, the money is not distributed among the poor. Is it possible that they do not perceive that every farthing spent on these stately banquets finds its way into general circulation, benefiting almost every branch of trade, and giving employment to thousands of artisans? To hear them speak, one would suppose that the cook and the butler alone profited by such occasions, whereas it is strictly and literally true that not a single gala takes place in the City without the circulating medium percolating through every warehouse, magazine, shop, and stall within the Bills of Mortality. Independently of this consideration, these civic feasts are symbols of those great old Saxon institutions which have made England the home and guardian of liberty. Our hearty and large-souled ancestors never dreamed of weighing every miserable coin, or of stinting the measure of their generous wines or foaming ale. They gave not less to the poor because they delighted to honour the brave and good, or to greet one another in the loving cup. Unlike the coldly intellectual reformers and theorists of the present day, they did not consider the gaol and the workhouse as the only asylums for poverty. They were men of feeling and kindly impulse, not of abstract principles. They gave their cheerful alms to the mendicants, and spread a bounteous board for their neighbours. Fools that they were! How is it that they did not recognize the mendicant to be an impostor and a drone, or bethink them that the money with which they feasted their neighbour might have purchased a field? It was because they were warm-hearted, warm-blooded men, and not mere calculating machines. They were glorious creatures, with thews and sinews, and they made their country great and powerful among the nations of the world; but they never paused to denounce the cost of a dinner, or to grudge a flowing bowl to their kinsfolk and neighbours. Besides, our Pharisees of reform conveniently forget that the copious banquets at which they turn up their envious eyes are mostly defrayed from private funds. The sheriffs, for instance, derive no aid from public moneys; their own fortunes provide the means for handsomely entertaining friends and strangers, and for dispensing open-handed charity. The Lord Mayor himself almost invariably draws upon his own resources to a large amount, in order to maintain the ancient reputation and actual present influence of the City of London. Demolish Gog and Magog, put down the civic banquets, break up and melt down the weighty and many-linked chains of solid gold round the neck of my lord mayor and the sheriffs, strip off the aldermen's gowns, make a bonfire of the gilded carriages, wring, if you will, the necks of both swans and cygnets. It is all vanity and vexation. Man is an intellectual animal: he wants none of these gewgaws. Alas! Wisdom may cry aloud in the streets, but no one will heed her words if she speaks beyond his comprehension. In theory, these Pecksniffs of retrenchment might possibly be correct if mankind had attained the same degree of marble indifference with themselves. In the mean time, while we are honest and true, it is good to be merry and wise.

Passing lightly over the intervening reigns, we now arrive at that of James I., who granted three very valuable charters to the Corporation of London. The first alludes to the immemorial right of the mayor and commonalty to the conservancy of the Thames, and to the metage of all coals, grain, salt, fruit, vegetables, and other merchandise sold by measure, delivered at the port of London. Of the exact nature of these privileges and of their beneficial operation, so far as public interests are concerned, we shall have occasion to speak hereafter, merely premising in this place that they have been enjoyed "from time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary." The second charter, after confirming former liberties, enlarges the limits of the civic jurisdiction and ordains that the mayor, recorder, and two aldermen, shall be justices of oyer and terminer. The third one is simply an amplification of the preceding two, and clears up various doubts as to the weighing and measuring of coals: both offices are granted or confirmed.

The tyrannical and oppressive treatment of the citizens of London by Charles I. is too well known to need more than a passing allusion. Not only did he imprison the aldermen for refusing to act dishonourably towards their fellow-citizens; not only did he make illegal demands and impose arbitrary fines, but he even deprived them of the right of petition and remonstrance. Such despotic conduct could not do otherwise than alienate the affection of those who had previously displayed many proofs of their loyalty to the Crown and attachment to the royal person. The City consequently made common cause with the Parliament, freely expending both blood and treasure in defence of the national freedom. Who has mot read with kindling cheeks how the bold 'prentices, armed only with spears, withstood a furious charge of the fiery Rupert at the head of his gallant cavaliers? But though prepared to resist the abuse of the royal prerogative, the citizens were not disposed to transfer their allegiance to a usurper, who, in the name of liberty, trampled liberty under foot. Accordingly we find them consistently opposed to the military absolutism of Cromwell, and among the first to co-operate with Monk in effecting the restoration to the throne of the royal line of Stuart.

The Stuarts, however, like the Bourbons, were incapable of benefiting by the lessons of adversity. It was not long before "the merry monarch" was involved in most unmirthful disputes with the citizens, whom he endeavoured to deprive of their ancient right to elect their own sheriffs. For the moment he partially succeeded, and, encouraged by this success, formed the design of seizing the charters of every corporate borough in the kingdom. The chief difficulty rested with London: if that could be overcome, the smaller cities would fall an easy prey. The law officers of the Crown were accordingly instructed to make out a case to sanction the forfeiture of the city charters. A double pretext was soon invented. It was stated that nine years before, the Common Council had levied a new scale of tolls on the public markets rebuilt after the great fire, and at a more recent period had printed a libellous petition impugning the king's justice. On these slender pleas a writ of quo warranto was taken out against the City, and the judges, under the undoubted influence of the Court, pronounced sentence of forfeiture, although a charter of the 7th Richard II. expressly provides against any forfeiture of the City's liberties notwithstanding any abuse of them whatsoever. This exhibition of violence so terrified the other corporations of the kingdom, that most of them at once tendered the surrender of their franchises, with the ignominious hope of obtaining better terms for themselves. James II. walked in the steps of his brother, and showed even greater determination to destroy the liberties of the nation. The disaffection of his subjects and the landing of the Prince of Orange warned him, when too late, that he had gone too far. Anxious to make friends in his hour of extremest peril, he despatched the infamous Jefferies to Guildhall to announce the restoration of the ancient privileges of the City. But the citizens were not thus to be cajoled. No sooner had the king set out to join his forces, than the Court of Aldermen declared themselves in favour of the Prince of Orange, as the champion of civil and religious freedom. The Lord Mayor, the aldermen, and fifty common councillors, had a seat and voice in the convention which pronounced the deposition of James, and the elevation to the throne of William and Mary. The first act of the nation was to establish and perpetuate a constitutional form of government, and this was accomplished by passing the famous statute known as the Bill of Rights. Experience had proved the vital importance of placing the privileges of the City of London beyond the caprice of the sovereign and the possibility of a coup d'etat. It was therefore declared by Parliament that the judgment passed on the quo warranto of Charles II. was unjust and illegal, and that all the proceedings in the case were informal and void. It was further enacted, "that the mayor, commonalty, and citizens, should for ever thereafter remain a body corporate and politic, without any seizure or forejudger, or being thereof excluded or ousted, upon any pretence of forfeiture or misdemeanour whatsoever, theretofore or thereafter to be done, committed, or suffered." The constitution of the corporation was nevertheless subsequently violated by the statute of 11 Geo. I., which conferred on the livery the elective franchises exercised in common hall. By a still more recent act, 12 & 13 Victoria, the right of voting in the election of aldermen and common councilmen has been further extended and enlarged. It was then enacted that that privilege should belong to every freeman of the City rated at 10 pounds per annum to the police or any other rate, and registered among the voters for the city of London at elections of members to serve in Parliament. Still greater innovations are now in contemplation, in violation of law and usage, and in defiance of prescriptive right, royal charters, and parliamentary statutes.

Audax omnia perpeti, Gens humana ruit per vetitum nefas.*

* The materials for this slight sketch have been gathered from
Norton's "History and Franchises of the City of London;" Dr. Brady's
learned dissertation on Boroughs; and Herbert's "History of the Twelve
Livery Companies."

Literary Shrines of Old London

By Elsie M. Lang

From the Borough to St. James's

eigh Hunt was of opinion that "one of the best secrets of enjoyment is the art of cultivating pleasant associations," and, with his example before us, we will endeavour to recall some of those that are to be met with on a walk from the Borough to St. James's, from one of the poorest parts of our city to one of the richest. The Borough, dusty, noisy, toil-worn as it is, is yet, he tells us, "the most classical ground in the metropolis." From the "Tabard" inn—now only a memory, though its contemporary, the "George," hard by, gives us some idea of its look in mediæval times—there rode forth, one bright spring morning, "Sir Jeffrey Chaucer" and "nyne and twenty" pilgrims "in a companye ... to wenden on (a) pilgrimage to Caunterbury with ful devout courage." A fellow-poet of Chaucer's, John Gower, lies buried close at hand in Southwark Cathedral, "under a tomb of stone, with his image of stone also over him." He was one of the earliest benefactors of this church, then known as St. Mary Overy, and founded therein a chantry, where masses should be said for the benefit of his soul. Stones in the pavement of the choir likewise commemorate John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, and Edmund Shakespeare, who lie in unmarked graves somewhere within the precincts of the cathedral.

Not a stone's throw from the Borough is the Bankside, extending from Blackfriars Bridge out beyond Southwark, a mean and dirty thoroughfare, with the grey Thames on one side, and on the other dull houses, grimy warehouses, and gloomy offices. How changed from the semi-rural resort of Elizabethan days, when swans floated on the river, and magnificent barges, laden with gaily dressed nobles and their attendants, were continually passing by! Great must have been the pleasure traffic then, for according to Taylor, "the Water Poet," who plied his trade as waterman and wrote his verses on the Bankside in the early days of Elizabeth's successor, "the number of watermen and those that live and are maintained by them, and by the labour of the oar and scull, between the bridge of Windsor and Gravesend, cannot be fewer than forty thousand; the cause of the greater half of which multitude hath been the players playing on the Bankside." Besides the players, the brilliant band of dramatists who shed lustre on the reign of the maiden Queen frequented it, not only on account of the pleasantness of its situation, but because of the near proximity of the theatres, for the Globe, the Rose, and the Hope all stood on the site now occupied by the brewery of Messrs. Barclay and Perkins, while the Swan was not far off. It is a well-authenticated fact that both Shakespeare and Ben Jonson played at the Globe, and patronised the "Falcon" tavern, the name of which still lingers in Falcon Dock and Falcon Wharf, Nos. 79 and 80, Bankside; and while in the meantime they were producing their masterpieces, Chapman, Dekker, and Middleton were at the height of their fame, Beaumont and Fletcher about to begin their career, and Philip Massinger was newly arrived in town. Some of these Bankside dramatists were well born and rich—such as Francis Beaumont, whose father was a Knight and a Justice of the Common Pleas; and John Fletcher, who was a son of the Bishop of London. Others were of obscure birth and penniless—like Ben Jonson, who had been forced to follow the trade of a bricklayer, and Dekker and Marston, whom he twitted "with their defective doublet and ravelled satin sleeves," and Philip Massinger, who in early days went about begging urgently for the loan of £5. But whatever they had or lacked, certain it is that their common art levelled all barriers between them, for though the chief of all the friendships on the Bankside was that of Beaumont and Fletcher—between whom was "a wonderful consimilarity of fancy ... which caused the dearnesse of friendship between them so that they lived together on the Bankside ... (and had) the same cloaths and cloaks between them"—yet Massinger collaborated with Fletcher in at least thirteen plays, with Dekker in one, and with Ford in two, while Dekker was occasionally associated with Middleton, and Middleton with Webster and Drayton. But the Elizabethan dramatists did not confine themselves to the Bankside; on certain nights they repaired to the "Mermaid" tavern, which used to stand on the south side of Cheapside, between Bread and Friday Streets, to attend the meetings of the famous Mermaid Club, said to have been founded by Sir Walter Raleigh. Here were to be found Shakespeare, Spenser, Beaumont, Fletcher, Ben Jonson, Carew, Donne, and many others, in eager witty converse. Beaumont well described the brilliancy of these gatherings in his poem to Ben Jonson:—

"What things have we seen Done at the Mermaid! Heard words that have been So nimble, and so full of subtle flame,As if that everyone from whence they came Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest And had resolved to live a fool the rest Of his dull life."

Another favourite haunt of theirs was the "Boar's Head," which stood on the spot now marked by the statue of William IV., at the junction of Eastcheap and Gracechurch Street. At this tavern Falstaff and Prince Hal concocted many of their wildest pranks. In later days the Elizabethan poets and dramatists, led by Ben Jonson, went even further afield—to the "Devil" tavern, which stood at No. 1, Fleet Street, where they held their meetings in a room called the "Apollo," the chief adornments of which, a bust of Apollo and a board with an inscription, "Welcome to the oracle of Apollo," are still to be seen in an upper room of Messrs. Child's Bank, which now occupies the site. Ben Jonson tells us that "the first speech in my 'Catiline,' spoken to Scylla's Ghost, was writ after I had parted with my friends at the 'Devil' tavern; I had drank well that night, and had brave notions."

We have records of the deaths of two at least of these dramatists on the Bankside—viz., that of Philip Massinger, who died "in his own house, near the play-house on the Bankside," in 1639; and Fletcher, "who dyed of the plague on the 19th of August, 1625." "The parish clerk," says Aubrey, "told me that he was his (Fletcher's) Taylor, and that Mr. Fletcher staying for a suit of cloathes before he retired into the country, Death stopped his journey and laid him low there."

Cheapside, so named from the Chepe, or old London market, along the south side of the site of which it runs, has been a place of barter ever since the reign of Henry VI., when a market was held there daily for the sale of every known commodity. It is easy to see where the vendors of some of the articles had their stands by the names of the surrounding streets—Bread Street, Fish Street, Milk Street, etc. Later on the stalls were transformed into permanent shops, with a dwelling-place for their owners above, and a fair-sized garden at the back. Despite the commercial spirit that has always pervaded this region, it has given birth to two famous poets—the sweet songster Herrick, who sings in one of his poems of

"The golden Cheapside where the earth Of Julia Herrick gave to me my birth,"

golden, perhaps, having reference to his father, who was a goldsmith; and greater still, John Milton, who first saw the light in Bread Street, at the sign of the "Spread Eagle," in a house which was afterwards destroyed in the Great Fire. It must have been a house of comfortable dimensions, for it covered the site now occupied by Nos. 58 to 63, the business premises of a firm who exhibit a bust of Milton, with an inscription, in a room on their top floor. Milton's father, moreover, had grown rich in his profession, which was that of a scrivener, had been made a Judge, and knighted five years before the birth of his son, so it is evident the poet began life in easy circumstances. He was baptised in All Hallows, a church in Bread Street destroyed in 1897. In Bow Church there is a tablet in memory of Milton, which was taken from All Hallows. When he was ten years of age he began to go to Paul's School, which stood in those days on the east side of St. Paul's Churchyard, between Watling Street and Cheapside. Aubrey records that "when he went to schoole, when he was very young, he studied very hard, and sat up very late, commonly till twelve or one o'clock at night, and his father ordered the mayde to sitt up for him, and at these years (ten) he composed many copies of verses which might well have become a riper age." He continued at this school, the old site of which is marked by a tablet on a warehouse, until he was sixteen. Some twenty years later Samuel Pepys was a pupil at Paul's School, and later on in life witnessed its destruction in the Great Fire. Milton would seem to have always cherished a great affection for the city, for after his return from his travels he seldom lived beyond the sound of Bow Bells, once only venturing as far as Westminster; and when he died he was buried in St. Giles's, Cripplegate, in the same grave as his father. Indeed, the city proper was the birthplace of several poets, for was not Pope born in Lombard Street, Gray in Cornhill, and Edmund Spenser in East Smithfield, while Lord Macaulay spent his earlier years in Birchin Lane?

Cheapside, with the Cross, as they appeared in 1660.

In the narrow confines of Paternoster Row, where the tall fronts of the houses are so close together that only a thin strip of sky is visible between them, Charlotte Brontë and her sister Anne, fresh from the rugged solitudes of their bleak Yorkshire moors, awoke on the morning of their first visit to the great capital of which they had so often dreamed, and, looking out of the dim windows of the Chapter Coffee-house, saw "the risen sun struggling through the fog, and overhead above the house-tops, co-elevate almost with the clouds ... a solemn orbed mass dark blue and dim the dome" (of St. Paul's).

Fleet Street has always been the haunt of the "knights of the pen," and even in these modern days the names of newspapers stare at the passer-by on every side, while at every step he jostles an ink-stained satellite of some great journal. But although these ink-stained ones are to be met with in Fleet Street at every hour of the day and night, they do not live there like the writers of old time—Michael Drayton, for instance, who "lived at ye baye-windowe house next the east end of St. Dunstan's Church"; and Izaak Walton, who kept a linen-draper's shop "in a house two doors west of the end of Chancery Lane," and on his infrequent holidays went a-fishing in the River Lea at Tottenham High Cross. Abraham Cowley, again, was born over his father's grocer's shop, which "abutted on Sargeants' Inn," and here, as a little child, he devoured the Faerie Queen, and was made "irrecoverably a poet." James Shirley lived near the Inner Temple Lane; John Locke in Dorset Court. In Salisbury Square, formerly Salisbury Court, Thomas Sackville, first Earl of Dorset, the precursor of Spenser, John Dryden, and Samuel Richardson, all had a residence at one time or another. Richardson built a large printing establishment on the site now occupied by Lloyd's newspaper offices, where he continued to carry on business many years after he had removed his private residence to the West End. He was buried, moreover, in St. Bride's Church in 1761, a large stone in the nave between pews 12 and 13 recording the fact. But greatest and most constant of Fleet Street habitués was Dr. Johnson. For ten years he lived at 17, Gough Square, busy in an upper room upon his great Dictionary. Here he lost his "beloved Tetty," to whose memory he ever remained faithful. "All his affection had been concentrated on her. He had neither brother nor sister, neither son nor daughter." Although twenty years his senior, with a complexion reddened and coarsened by the too liberal use of both paint and strong cordials, yet "to him she was beautiful as the Gunnings, and witty as Lady Mary." On leaving Gough Square he lived for a few years in the Temple, where he received his first visit from Boswell, and made the acquaintance of Oliver Goldsmith. The latter was then living at 6, Wine Office Court, Fleet Street, where Johnson, visiting him one morning in response to an urgent message, found that "his landlady had arrested him for his rent." He showed Johnson his MS. of the just-completed Vicar of Wakefield, which he looked into, and instantly comprehending its merit, went out and sold it to a bookseller for sixty pounds. In 1765 Johnson returned to Fleet Street, and lived for eleven years at 7, Johnson's Court. Here Boswell dined with him for the first time on Easter Day, 1773, and found to his surprise "everything in very good order." Walking up the Court one day in company with Topham Beauclerk, Boswell confessed to him that he "had a veneration" for it, because the great doctor lived there, and was much gratified to learn that Beauclerk felt the same "reverential enthusiasm." In later years Dickens stole up this Court one dark December evening, and, with beating heart, dropped his first original MS. into the letter-box of The Monthly Magazine, the office of which stood on the site now occupied by Mr. Henry Sell's premises. No. 8, Bolt Court, was the next and last residence of Dr. Johnson; here, on December 13th, 1784, he met the inevitable crisis, for which he had always felt an indescribable terror and loathing, and passed peacefully and happily away. Johnson had always had a great predilection for club or tavern life, partly because it enabled him to escape for a while from the hypochondria which always dogged his footsteps. He loved nothing so much as to gather kindred spirits around him and spend long evenings in congenial conversation. He would sit, "the Jupiter of a little circle, sometimes indeed nodding approbation, but always prompt on the slightest contradiction to launch the thunders of rebuke and sarcasm." There was not much expense attached to these gatherings, for it is recorded of one of the clubs he founded that the outlay was not to exceed sixpence per person an evening, with a fine of twopence for those who did not attend. Among the Fleet Street haunts thus frequently resorted to by Dr. Johnson and his friends were the "Cocke," patronised in former years by Pepys, and in later years by Thackeray, Dickens, and Tennyson; the "Cheshire Cheese," the only house of the kind which remains as it was in Dr. Johnson's day; the "Mitre," also formerly patronised by Pepys; and the "Devil," where the poets laureate had been wont to repair and read their birthday odes. St. Clement Danes, too, is connected with Johnson, for, in spite of his love of festivity, he was devout, and regularly attended this church, occupying pew No. 18 in the north gallery, now marked by a brass plate. Boswell records that "he carried me with him to the church of St. Clement Danes, where he had his seat, and his behaviour was, as I had imagined to myself, solemnly devout."

One more memory of Fleet Street before we leave it, in connection with Dick's Coffee-house, which used to stand at Nos. 7 and 8. In December, 1763, the poet Cowper, then a student in the Inner Temple, was appointed Clerk of the Journals of the House of Lords. Delicate, shy, intensely sensitive, and with a strong predisposition to insanity, the dread of these onerous public duties disturbed the balance of his morbid brain. His madness broke out one morning at Dick's, as he himself afterwards narrated. He said:

"At breakfast I read the newspaper, and in it a letter, which the further I perused it the more closely engaged my attention. I cannot now recollect the purport of it; but before I had finished it, it appeared demonstratively true to me that it was a libel or satire upon me. The author appeared to be acquainted with my purpose of self-destruction, and to have written that letter on purpose to secure and hasten the execution of it. My mind probably at this time began to be disordered; however it was, I was certainly given to a strong delusion. I said within myself, 'Your cruelty shall be gratified, you shall have your revenge,' and flinging down the paper in a fit of strong passion, I rushed hastily out of the room, directing my way towards the fields, where I intended to find some lane to die in, or if not, determined to poison myself in a ditch, when I could meet with one sufficiently retired."

This paroxysm ended in Cowper trying to hang himself, but, the rope breaking, he went down to the Thames to the Custom House Quay and threatened to drown himself. This attempt, however, also failed, and friends interfering, he was removed to an asylum, where he remained eighteen months.

From Fleet Street it is but a step to the Temple, with its grey quiet corners full of echoing memories, stretching back even to the days of Shakespeare, whose Twelfth Night  was performed before an audience of his contemporaries in the self-same Middle Temple Hall that still confronts us. The names of Henry Fielding, Edmund Burke, John Gower, Thomas Shadwell, William Wycherley, Nicholas Rowe, Francis Beaumont, William Congreve, John Horne Tooke, Thomas Day, Tom Moore, Sheridan, George Colman, jun., Marston, and Ford, are all upon the Temple rolls and each must in his day have been a familiar figure among the ancient buildings. But Charles Lamb is the presiding genius of the place.

"I was born and passed the first seven years of my life in the Temple," he tells us. "Its church, its halls, its garden, its fountains, its river ... these are my oldest recollections. Indeed it is the most elegant spot in the metropolis. What a transition for a countryman visiting London for the first time, the passing from the crowded Strand or Fleet Street, by unexpected avenues into its magnificent ample squares, its classic green recesses. What a cheerful liberal look hath that portion of it, which from three sides, overlooks the greater gardens, that goodly pile ... confronting with massy contrast, the lighter, older, more fantastically shrouded one, named of Harcourt, with the cheerful Crown Office Row (place of my kindly engendure) right opposite the stately stream, which washes the garden foot.... A man would give something to have been born in such a place."

When Lamb was twenty-five years of age he went back to live in the Temple, at 16, Mitre Court Buildings, in an "attic storey for the air." His bed faced the river, and by "perking on my haunches and supporting my carcase with my elbows, without much wrying my neck I can see," he wrote to a friend, "the white sails glide by the bottom of King's Bench Walk as I lie in my bed." Here he passed nine happy years, and then, after a short stay in Southampton Buildings, he returned to the Temple for the second time, to 4, Inner Temple Lane, fully intending to pass the remainder of his life within its precincts. His new set of chambers "looked out upon a gloomy churchyard-like court, called Hare Court, with three trees and a pump in it." But fate intervened, and he and his sister soon after left the Temple, never to return. It was no easy parting, however, for he wrote in after years, "I thought we never could have been torn up from the Temple. Indeed it was an ugly wrench.... We never can strike root so deep in any other ground."

It was when Dr. Johnson had a set of chambers on the first floor of No. 1, Inner Temple Lane, that Boswell first went to see him. Boswell wrote:

"He received me very courteously, but it must be confessed that his apartment, furniture, and morning dress were sufficiently uncouth. His brown suit of clothes looked very rusty, he had on a little old shrivelled unpowdered wig which was too small for his head, his shirt-neck and knees of his breeches were loose, his black worsted stockings ill drawn up, and he had a pair of unbuckled shoes by way of slippers. But all these slovenly peculiarities were forgotten the moment that he began to talk."

Boswell, indeed, conceived so violent an admiration for him that he took rooms in Farrar's Buildings in order to be near him. Oliver Goldsmith seems to have followed his example, for he went to lodge first in 2, Garden Court, and afterwards in 2, Brick Court, on the right-hand side, looking out over the Temple Garden. Thackeray, who, years afterwards, lodged in the same set of rooms, wrote:

"I have been many a time in the Chambers in the Temple which were his, and passed up the staircase, which Johnson and Burke and Reynolds trod to see their friend, their poet, their kind Goldsmith—the stair on which the poor women sat weeping bitterly when they heard that the greatest and most generous of men was dead within the black oak door."

A stone slab with the inscription, "Here lies Oliver Goldsmith," was placed on the north side of Temple Church, as near as possible to the spot where he is supposed to have been buried.

No. 2, Fountain Court, was the last house of William Blake, the poet-painter, the seer of visions, who had a set of rooms on the first floor, from whence a glimpse of the river was to be obtained. It was very poorly furnished, though always clean and orderly, and decorated only with his own pictures, but to the eager young disciples who flocked around him it was "the house of the Interpreter." When he lay there upon his death-bed, at the close of a blazing August day in 1827, beautiful songs in praise of his Creator fell from his lips, and as his wife, his faithful companion of forty-five years of struggle and stress, drew near to catch them more distinctly, he told her with a smile, "My beloved! they are not mine! no, they are not mine!"

Passing out into the Strand, we are confronted by the Law Courts. In former days this site was occupied by a network of streets, one of which was Shire Lane, where the members of the Kit Cat Club first held their gatherings, and toasted Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, when, as a child of seven, enthroned on her proud father's knee, she spent "the happiest hour of her life," overwhelmed with caresses, compliments, and sweetmeats. The famous "Grecian" stood in Devereux Court, and the "Fountain" where Johnson, on his first arrival in London, read his tragedy Irene  to his fellow-traveller Garrick, on the site since occupied by Simpson's for several generations. The Strand "Turk's Head" was at No. 142, and patronised by Johnson, because "the mistress of it is a good civil woman and has not much business"; and the "Coal Hole," immortalised by Thackeray as the "Cave of Harmony" in The Newcomes, where Terry's Theatre now uprears its front. But the chief literary association of the Strand is that of Congreve, who spent his last years in Surrey Street, "almost blind with cataracts," and "never rid of the gout," but looking, as Swift wrote to Stella, "young and fresh and cheerful as ever." He had always been a favourite with society, and Surrey Street was thronged by his visitors, among whom were four of the most beautiful women of the day—Mrs. Bracegirdle, Mrs. Oldfield, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and Henrietta Duchess of Marlborough. Voltaire, too, who greatly admired his work, sought him out when staying at the "White Peruke," Covent Garden, and was much disgusted by the affectation with which Congreve begged to be regarded as a man of fashion, who produced airy trifles for the amusement of his idle hours. "If you had been so unfortunate as to have been a mere gentleman," said Voltaire, "I should never have taken the trouble of coming to see you." In spite of the looseness of his life, Congreve had early acquired habits of frugality, and continuing to practise them when the need for economy had disappeared, he contrived to amass a fortune of £10,000, which, on his death in 1789, he bequeathed to the Duchess of Marlborough, his latest infatuation. This sum, which would have restored the fallen fortunes of his nearest relatives, was a mere nothing to the wealthy beauty, who expended it in the purchase of a magnificent diamond necklace, which she continually wore in memory of the dead dramatist.

The whole of Covent Garden is classic ground, from its association with the wits of Dryden's time, when Bow Street and Tavistock Street were in turn regarded as the Bond Street of the fashionable world. Edmund Waller, William Wycherley, and Henry Fielding, each lived in Bow Street. In Russell Street stood the three great coffee-houses of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—Wills', Button's, and Tom's. Wills' stood at No. 21, at the corner of Russell Street and Bow Street; here Pepys stopped one February evening on his way to fetch his wife, and heard much "witty and pleasant discourse"; here Dryden had his special arm-chair, in winter by the fire, and in summer on the balcony, and was always ready to arbitrate in any literary dispute. It is said that Pope, before he was twelve years old, persuaded his friends to bring him here, so that he might gaze upon the aged Dryden, the hero of his childish imagination. Dr. Johnson, Addison, Steele, and Smollett were all regular visitors. Button's, which stood on the south side of Russell Street, and Tom's at No. 17, were equally popular, and the Bedford Coffee-house "under the piazza in Covent Garden" was another favourite resort.

It was in Russell Street, in the bookshop of Thomas Davies, the actor, that Boswell had his eagerly desired first meeting with Dr. Johnson, which he describes as follows:—

"At last, on Monday, the 16th of May, when I was sitting in Mr. Davies' back parlour, after having drunk tea with him and Mrs. Davies, Johnson came unexpectedly into the shop, and Mr. Davies having perceived him through the glass door in the room in which we were sitting advancing towards us, he announced his awful approach to me somewhat in the manner of an actor in the part of Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on the appearance of his father's ghost: 'Look, my lord, he comes.'"

In St. Paul's, Covent Garden, were buried Samuel Butler, author of Hudibras, Mrs. Centlivre, Thomas Southerne, John Wolcot, and Wycherley, but when the church was burned down in 1786 all trace of their graves disappeared.

One other literary memory before we leave the Strand; it is connected with what was once No. 30, Hungerford Stairs (now part of Villiers Street), where stood Warren's blacking factory, in which the child Dickens passed days of miserable drudgery, labelling pots of blacking for a few shillings a week. He describes it in David Copperfield, under the name of "Murdstone and Grimsby's warehouse, down in Blackfriars." It was "a crazy old house, with a wharf of its own, abutting on the water when the tide was in, and on the mud when the tide was out, and literally overrun with rats."

Pall Mall, the centre of club-land, in the eighteenth century was the "ordinary residence of all strangers," probably on account of its proximity to the fashionable chocolate and coffee-houses (the forerunners of the clubs), which, as Defoe wrote, "were all so close together that in an hour you could see the company at them all." In Pall Mall itself were the "Smyrna," the "King's Arms," and the "Star and Garter." At the "King's Arms" the Kit Cat Club met when it had quitted its quarters in Shire Lane, and at the "Star and Garter" the "Brothers" were presided over by Swift. The "Tully's Head," a bookshop kept by the wonderful Robert Dodsley, footman, poet, dramatist, and publisher, was another favourite lounging place of the times.

In Charing Cross were the "Rummer," at No. 45, kept by the uncle of Matthew Prior; Lockett's, two doors off; the "Turk's Head," next door to No. 17; and the British Coffee-house, which stood on the site now occupied by the offices of the London County Council.

In St. James's Street the great coffee and chocolate-houses positively elbowed each other up and down, just as the clubs which succeeded them do in the present day. The "Thatched House," where the Literary Club, founded by Dr. Johnson, held its meetings under the presidency of Swift and his contemporaries; the "St. James's," where Addison "appeared on Sunday nights," and "Swift was a notable figure," for "those who frequented the place had been astonished day after day, by the entry of a clergyman, unknown to any there, who laid his hat on the table, and strode up and down the room with rapid steps, heeding no one, and absorbed in his own thoughts. His strange manner earned him, unknown as he was to all, the name of the "mad parson""; White's, to which Colley Cibber was the only English actor ever admitted; and the "Cocoa Tree," nicknamed the "Wits' Coffee-house," which, in Gibbon's time, afforded "every evening a sight truly English. Twenty or thirty, perhaps, of the finest men in the kingdom, in point of fashion and fortune, supping at little tables covered with a napkin, in the middle of a coffee-room, upon a bit of cold meat or a sandwich and drinking a glass of punch."

Lord Byron was the most romantic literary figure connected with St. James's Street. His first home in London, after his youthful days, was at No. 8, where he went to live after the publication of his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. From this house the proud and gloomy young man set forth to take his seat in the House of Lords as a peer of the realm. Moore wrote:

"In a state more alone and unfriended, perhaps, than any youth of his high station had ever before been reduced to on such an occasion—not having a single individual of his own class, either to take him by the hand as friend, or acknowledge him as an acquaintance."

But this state of affairs was not to endure. On February 29th, 1812, Childe Harold  appeared.

"The effect was electric; his fame had not to wait for any of the ordinary gradations, but seemed to spring up like the palace of a fairy tale—in a night.... From morning till night flattering testimonies of his success reached him; the highest in the land besieged his door, and he who had been so friendless found himself the idol of London society."

Perhaps we cannot do better than end these literary associations of club-land with a few words about a man who in his time was one of its most brilliant figures—Theodore Hook. When he was released from the King's Bench prison, with his debt to the Crown still hanging over him,

"he took a large and handsome house in Cleveland Row. Here he gave dinners on an extensive scale, and became a member of all the best clubs, particularly frequenting those where high play was the rule. His visiting book included all that was loftiest and gayest and in every sense most distinguished in London society. The editor of John Bull, the fashionable novelist, the wittiest and most vivid talker of the time, his presence was not only everywhere welcome but everywhere coveted and clamoured for. But the whirl of extravagant dissipation emptied his pocket, fevered his brain, and shortened the precious hours in which alone his subsistence could be gained."

In the height of his social triumphs there always hung inexorably over him the Damocles sword of debt. When at last he gave way under the strain, and went into comparative retirement at Fulham, the number of dinners at the Athenæum Club, where he had always had a particular table kept for him near the door (nicknamed Temperance Corner), fell off by upwards of three hundred per annum.


These are a few out of the many literary memories that we may encounter in an afternoon's stroll from the Borough to St. James's, along one of the great city's busiest highways; others, indeed, there are, meeting us at every corner, but space forbids our dwelling upon them, and regretfully we must pass them by.

GOLDSMITH, REYNOLDS, AND SOME OF THEIR CIRCLE

One of Sir James Thornhill's illustrious sitters was Sir Isaac Newton, who lived within a stone's throw of Hogarth's London house, just round the corner out of Leicester Square, at No. 35 St. Martin's Street. Here Sir Isaac made his home from 1720 to 1725. The red brick walls have been stuccoed over; and the observatory that the philosopher built for himself on the roof, after being turned into a Sunday-school, was removed about forty years ago, and helped to supply pews for the Orange Street Chapel that stands next door.

The greatest of Newton's work was done before he set up in St. Martin's Street, but he told a friend that the happiest years of his life had been spent in the observatory there. Though he kept his carriage, lived in some style, had half-a-dozen male and female servants, and was always hospitable, he was not fond of society, and talked but little in it. Johnson once remarked to Sir William Jones that if Newton had flourished in ancient Greece, he would have been worshipped as a divinity, but there was nothing godlike in his appearance. “He was a man of no very promising aspect,” says Herne; and Humphrey Newton describes his famous relative as of a carriage “meek, sedate, and humble; never seeming angry, of profound thought, his countenance mild, pleasant, and comely. He always kept close to his studies.... I never knew him to take any recreation or pastime, thinking all hours lost that were not spent in his studies.” There are a good many stories told of his eccentricities and absent-mindedness. He would ride through London in his coach with one arm out of the window on one side and one out on the other; he would sometimes start to get up of a morning and sit down on his bed, absorbed in thought, and so remain for hours without dressing himself; and, when his dinner was laid, he would walk about the room, forgetting to eat it, and carelessly eat it standing when his attention was called to it. On one occasion, when he was leading his horse up a hill, he found, when he went to remount on reaching the top, that the animal had slipped its bridle and stayed behind without his perceiving it, and he had nothing in his hand but some of the harness. “When he had friends to entertain,” according to Dr. Stukeley, “if he went into his study to fetch a bottle of wine, there was danger of his forgetting them,” and not coming back again. And it is told of this same Dr. Stukeley that he called one day to see Newton, and was shown into the dining-room, where Sir Isaac's dinner was in readiness. After a long wait, feeling hungry as well as impatient, Stukeley ate the cold chicken intended for his host, and left nothing but the bones. By-and-by Sir Isaac entered, made his greetings and apologies, and, whilst they were talking, drew a chair to the table, took off the dish-cover, and at sight of the bones merely observed placidly, “How absent we philosophers are! I had forgotten that I had dined!”

 

SIR ISAAC NEWTON'S HOUSE. ST. MARTIN'S STREET. W.C.

 

Later, this same house in St. Martin's Street was occupied by Dr. Burney and his daughter Fanny, who wrote Evelina  here.

Near by, in Leicester Square again, on the opposite side, and almost exactly facing Hogarth's residence, was the house of Sir Joshua Reynolds. From 1753 to 1761 Sir Joshua lived at 5 Great Newport Street, which was built in Charles II.'s days, and is still standing. It is now and has for a century past been occupied by a firm of art dealers; so that it happens from time to time that a picture of Reynolds's is here put up for sale, “on the very spot where it was painted.” But in the crowning years of his career—from 1761 till his death, in 1792—Sir Joshua dwelt at 42 Leicester Square, and what was formerly his studio there has been transformed into one of Messrs. Puttick and Simpson's auction rooms. Here is Allan Cunningham's description of it, and of the painter's method of work: “His study was octagonal, some twenty feet long by sixteen broad, and about fifteen feet high. The window was small and square, and the sill nine feet from the floor. His sitters' chair moved on castors, and stood above the floor about a foot and a half. He held his palette by the handle, and the sticks of his brushes were eighteen inches long. He wrought standing, and with great celerity. He rose early, breakfasted at nine, entered his study at ten, examined designs or touched unfinished portraits, till eleven brought him a sitter; painted till four, then dressed, and gave the evenings to company.”

 

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS' HOUSE. GREAT NEWPORT STREET.

 

THE STAIRCASE. 41 LEICESTER SQUARE.

 

And to the best of good company too. By day, the chariot of a duke or a marchioness might drive to his door, and return later to wait for his lordship or her ladyship, who was occupying the sitter's chair, while Sir Joshua was busy at his easel; but of an evening he would have such men as Dr. Johnson, Boswell, Goldsmith, Garrick, Burke (who was living close at hand, in Gerrard Street) gathered about his dinner-table; for in spite of his deafness he was the very soul of sociability. He never got out of his naturally careless, Bohemian habits. He was the favourite portrait-painter of the fashionable world, but mixed with the aristocracy without apeing any of their etiquette. “There was something singular in the style and economy of Sir Joshua's table that contributed to pleasantry and good-humour; a coarse, inelegant plenty, without any regard to order and arrangement,” according to Courtenay. “A table prepared for seven or eight was often compelled to contain fifteen or sixteen. When this pressing difficulty was got over, a deficiency of knives, plates, forks, and glasses succeeded. The attendance was in the same style; and it was absolutely necessary to call instantly for beer, bread, or wine, that you might be supplied with them before the first course was over. He was once prevailed on to furnish the table with decanters and glasses at dinner, to save time and prevent the tardy manœuvres of two or three occasional, undisciplined domestics. As these accelerating utensils were demolished in the course of service, Sir Joshua would never be persuaded to replace them. But these trifling embarrassments only served to enhance the hilarity and singular pleasure of the entertainment. The wines, cookery, and dishes were but little attended to; nor was the fish or venison ever talked of or recommended. Amidst this convivial, animated bustle among his guests, our host sat perfectly composed; always attentive to what was said, never minding what was ate or drunk, but left every one at perfect liberty to scramble for himself. Temporal and spiritual peers, physicians, lawyers, actors, and musicians composed the motley group, and played their parts without dissonance or discord.”

 

SIR BENJAMIN WEST'S HOUSE. NEWMAN STREET.

 

He was so imperturbable and easy-natured that Dr. Johnson said if he ever quarrelled with him he would find it most difficult to know how to abuse him; and even the sharp-tongued Mrs. Thrale praised his peaceful temper, and considered that of him “all good should be said, and no harm.” He shared Hogarth's contempt for the old masters; but, unlike Hogarth, he was not loud and aggressive in his objections to them.

“When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios, and stuff,
He shifted his trumpet, and only took snuff.”

It was on Reynolds's suggestion that he and Johnson founded, in 1763, what later became celebrated as the Literary Club. They held their first meetings at the Turk's Head (where Hogarth and Thornhill had previously established their Art Club), and among the original members were Burke, Langton, Beauclerk, Goldsmith, and Sir John Hawkins. The latter, an arrant snob, objected to Goldsmith's election on the ground that he was “a mere literary drudge,” but his protest carried no weight with the rest. Five years later, when, under the patronage of the king, Reynolds inaugurated the Royal Academy, Johnson was appointed its first Professor of Ancient Literature, and Goldsmith its first Professor of History, Reynolds himself being its first President—in which office, on his death in 1792, he was succeeded by Benjamin West. West was an American, and had won a considerable reputation in his own country before he came over and settled down in England. He was introduced to Johnson and Reynolds, and was for some time a neighbour of Sir Joshua's, in Castle Street, Leicester Square. But he is more closely associated with the house that still stands at 14 Newman Street, Oxford Street, in which he lived and worked for forty-five years, and in which he died.

A far greater contemporary painter, who moved on the fringes of Sir Joshua's circle, was Gainsborough. That he did not come familiarly into the circle, and sometimes make one of the memorable company that gathered round Reynolds's dinner-table, was owing to some lack of geniality in himself, that kept him from responding to Sir Joshua's friendly advances. He came from Bath to London in 1774, when he was forty-seven years of age, took a studio at Schonberg House, Pall Mall, and it was not long before celebrities and leaders of fashion were flocking to it to sit for their portraits, and he was recognised as a successful rival of Reynolds. Reynolds was so far from feeling jealousy or resentment that he promptly paid his popular rival a visit; but Gainsborough did not trouble himself to return the call. No doubt it was to some extent owing to Reynolds, too, that in the year of his appearance in London he was elected to the council of management of the Royal Academy; but he ignored the honour, did not attend any meetings, and sent nothing to the exhibition. Reynolds was frankly outspoken in his admiration of Gainsborough's work, and was even anxious to have his own portrait painted by him. After some delay appointments were fixed, and Sir Joshua duly went to Schonberg House, and the painting was commenced. But after the first sitting he was taken ill; and when, on his recovery, he wrote to tell Gainsborough that he was ready to come again, he received no reply, and the portrait had to remain an unfinished sketch.

His coldness to Reynolds is inexplicable, for he was a kindly-disposed man, and sociable. He kept almost open house in Pall Mall, and such jovial spirits as the Sheridans, Colman, and Garrick were among the constant guests at his table.

 

GAINSBOROUGH'S HOUSE. PALL MALL.

 

The year after Gainsborough's coming to London, Sheridan's Rivals  was produced at the Covent Garden Theatre, to be followed two years after by The School for Scandal. Before he was out of his twenties Sheridan had finished his career as a dramatist, turned to politics, and was one of the most brilliant of Parliamentary orators, still remaining principal proprietor of Drury Lane Theatre. All his life he was living beyond his income, borrowing, getting into debt, and dodging duns and bailiffs with the gayest imperturbability. Everybody liked him, and was susceptible to his charm. Wherever the wits foregathered, he was the best drinker, the best talker, and the wittiest among them. Byron writes of him in his Diary : “What a wreck that man is! and all from bad pilotage; for no one had ever better gales, though now and then a little too squally. Poor dear Sherry! I shall never forget the day he and Rogers and Moore and I passed together; when he talked and we listened, without one yawn, from six till one in the morning.” In a letter to Moore, Byron records a dinner at which Sheridan, Colman, and a large party were present, and at the finish, when they were all the worse for drink, “Kinnaird and I had to conduct Sheridan down a damned corkscrew staircase, which had certainly been constructed before the discovery of fermented liquors, and to which no legs, however crooked, could possibly accommodate themselves. We deposited him safe at home, where his man, evidently used to the business, waited to receive him in the hall.”

This was in October 1815, and 14 Savile Row is the house at which Sheridan was thus deposited by his noble friend. He was then an old man of sixty-four, and a year later he died there, five thousand pounds in debt, and only saved, by the emphatic intervention of the doctor who was attending him, from being arrested by bailiffs as he lay dying, and carried off to a sponging-house in his blankets.

The year that brought Gainsborough to London (1774) was also the year of Goldsmith's death; and I want to get back to Goldsmith for a little, in this chapter, and to say something of Richardson. For it is curiously interesting to note how the lives of all these famous men, though there was little enough in common between some of them, met at certain points and established certain connecting links between them; so that it is possible, as Leigh Hunt has said somewhere, to trace a sort of genealogy of such acquaintanceships, such notable meetings and touchings of “beamy hands,” coming down in an unbroken line from Shakespeare to our own day.

Thus, Hogarth first met Johnson in Richardson's parlour at Salisbury Court; and, in 1757, Goldsmith was employed by Richardson, and worked on his printing premises, in the same court, as reader and corrector to the press; and these, and most of the other immortals named in this chapter—including Sheridan, though he was then so young a man that he outlived them all, and counts among the friends of Lord Byron—have a common link in Dr. Johnson, who was so great a Londoner that he must needs have a chapter presently to himself, or one that he shall share with none but the inevitable Boswell.

Whilst Goldsmith was working as one of his employees, Richardson was not only a prosperous printer, he was already the most popular novelist of his day. PamelaClarissa Harlowe, and Sir Charles Grandison  had carried his fame throughout the kingdom and beyond it, and were drawing rapturous admiration and tears of sentiment from countless admirers in France as well as in England; and, as befitted a man of his means and eminence, he had supplemented his house off Fleet Street with a country residence at Parson's Green, where he died in 1761. Down to 1754, however, his country house was The Grange, at North End, Fulham, then a pretty, old-world spot,—“the pleasantest village within ten miles of London.” And it was here that all his novels were written; for he took The Grange in 1738, and Pamela  appeared in 1740, and Sir Charles Grandison  in 1753. Here, too, he used to give large literary parties, to which Johnson occasionally went with Boswell. But whatever other authors were there, you may safely depend that Fielding was never among the guests; for with all his high morality Richardson was intolerably self-complacent and vain, and never forgave Fielding for burlesquing Pamela as “Shamela,” and parodying her impossible virtues in Joseph Andrews.

 

SHERIDAN'S HOUSE. SAVILE ROW.

 

Boswell gives two good anecdotes illustrative of Richardson's fretful vanity and the limits of his conversational powers. “Richardson had little conversation,” he says Johnson once remarked to him, “except about his own works, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds said he was always willing to talk, and glad to have them introduced. Johnson, when he carried Mr. Langton to see him, professed that he could bring him out in conversation, and used this illusive expression: ‘Sir, I can make him rear.' But he failed; for in that interview Richardson said little else than that there lay in the room a translation of his Clarissa  into German.” And in a footnote to this Boswell adds: “A literary lady has favoured me with a characteristic anecdote of Richardson. One day at his country house at North End, where a large company was assembled at dinner, a gentleman who was just returned from Paris, willing to please Mr. Richardson, mentioned to him a very flattering circumstance—that he had seen his Clarissa  lying on the king's brother's table. Richardson, observing that part of the company were engaged in talking to each other, affected not to attend to it. But by-and-by, when there was a general silence, and he thought that the flattery might be fully heard, he addressed himself to the gentleman, ‘I think, sir, you were saying something about—' pausing in a high flutter of expectation. The gentleman, provoked at his inordinate vanity, resolved not to indulge it, and with an exquisitely sly air of indifference remarked, ‘A mere trifle, sir, not worth repeating.' The mortification of Richardson was visible, and he did not speak ten words more the whole day. Dr. Johnson was present, and appeared to enjoy it much.”

 

PUMP COURT. TEMPLE.

 

While Fielding was roystering in the wild haunts of Bohemian London, gambling at his club, reeling home to his chambers in Pump Court, and writing his novels in odds and ends of soberer time, Richardson was methodically composing his books at Fulham, getting up early of summer mornings, working at hismanuscript in the little summer-house that he had built in his garden, then reading over breakfast to the worshipping members of his family the results of his morning's labour. Wherever he went, groups of adoring ladies were sure to gather about him, to chatter fervently of their delight in his interminable stories; and he snuffed up their incense with a solemn and self-satisfied joy, for he took himself as seriously as he was taken by them, and never felt that he was ridiculous, even when he looked it. Not infrequently he would sit in his drawing-room at The Grange, or in the summer-house, surrounded by a rapt audience of feminine believers, who wept as he read aloud to them of the sufferings and heroic virtue of Pamela, or the persecutions of the gentle Clarissa. You cannot think of it without imagining there, in one of the rooms, the comfortable, obese, touchy, rather pompous, double-chinned little gentleman, in his fair wig and dark coat, an ink-horn set in the arm of his chair with a quill sticking out of it, one hand thrust into the front of his waistcoat, the book or manuscript in his hand, reading gravely and deliberately his long, minute dissections of character, his elaborate descriptions of events and incidents, his formal dialogues, pleased when his stilted sentiment or simple sentimentality brought tears to the eyes of his listeners, and not ashamed to shed one or two with them.

He drew a word-portrait of himself for Lady Bradshaigh, which is fairly well known but is worth repeating, and, judging by the portraits we have of him, is a fairly true one. He paints himself as “short, rather plump, about five feet five inches, fair wig, one hand generally in his bosom, the other a cane in it, which he leans upon under the skirts of his coat that it may imperceptibly serve him as a support when attacked by sudden tremors or dizziness, which too frequently attack him, but, thank God! not so often as formerly; looking directly forthright, as passers-by would imagine, but observing all that stirs on either hand of him without moving his short neck; hardly ever turning back; of a light-brown complexion, teeth not yet failing him; smooth faced, and ruddy cheeked; at some times looking to be about sixty-five, at other times much younger; a regular, even pace, stealing away the ground rather than seeming to rid it; a grey eye, too often overclouded by mistiness from the head; by chance lively—very lively it will be, if he have hope of seeing a lady whom he loves and honours.”

 

RICHARDSON'S HOUSE. NORTH END FULHAM.

 

Richardson's summer-house is long since gone from the garden, and long ago now The Grange was divided in two, and in the half that has been stucco-fronted Burne-Jones went to live in 1867, dying there in 1898.

Five years after Goldsmith had given up proofreading for Richardson, you find him still drudging amid the squalor of Grub Street, still living from hand to mouth, writing reviews and prefaces, revising and preparing new editions of dull books on dull subjects, for a sum of twenty-one pounds compiling a two-volume History of England  in the form of a series of letters, and generally subduing his heart and mind to the doing of the wretched hack-work to which the impecunious literary man in all ages has usually been condemned.

His new taskmaster was Mr. Newbery the publisher, and he was living, in those days of 1762, in Wine Office Court, Fleet Street; but the publisher was not altogether ungenerous, and made arrangements that enabled his poor hack to leave town at intervals and work in the fresh air and rural environment of Islington. Newbery had chambers of his own there in Canonbury Tower, and Goldsmith used to put up at a cottage near by that was kept by an elderly Mrs. Fleming, a friend or relative of Newbery's, his bills for board and lodging being periodically settled by his employer, who deducted the amount of them from whatever fell due to Goldsmith from time to time for work done. Fortunately Mrs. Fleming's accounts have been preserved, and we get an idea of Goldsmith's wardrobe from her washing-lists, and learn from the items she carefully details that she now and then lent him small sums in cash—tenpence one day, and one and twopence another; that occasionally, when he had a friend to dinner, though she duly noted it, she ostentatiously made no charge; but when four gentlemen came to take tea with him, she debited him with eighteenpence.

 

GOLDSMITH'S HOUSE. CANONBURY.

 

Probably one of those friends who had a free dinner was Hogarth, for he travelled out to Islington occasionally on a visit to Goldsmith; and there is a painting of his which is known as “Goldsmith's Hostess,” and is believed to be none other than Mrs. Fleming's portrait.

You remember Boswell's story of how The Vicar of Wakefield  saved Goldsmith from imprisonment for debt. “I received one morning a letter from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress,” Johnson told him, “and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork in the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit. I told the landlady I should soon return; and, having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill.” Everything points to Mrs. Fleming as that harsh landlady, and the lodging in her cottage at Islington as the scene of that famous interlude. The presumption is that Goldsmith had incurred a much heavier liability to her than was covered by what was accruing to him for his services to Newbery, as a result of his giving time to the writing of The Vicar of Wakefield  that should have been devoted to his usual drudgery; and the cautious Newbery declined to make further advances, and advised his relative, the landlady, to adopt summary methods for the recovery of her debt. Goldsmith never lodged with Mrs. Fleming after that date; but later, when Newbery took a lease of Canonbury Tower, he was from time to time a guest there, and occupied a room in the turret. During one of these visits he wrote The Traveller ; and in later years Charles Lamb often walked across from his Islington home to the Tower to watch the sunset from the summit, and to be entertained by the tenant of it in the panelled chamber where Goldsmith's poem was written.

It was with the publication of The Traveller  that Goldsmith began to emerge from Grub Street. Its success was considerable enough to lead to the publisher's looking out the manuscript of The Vicar of Wakefield, and issuing that also; and in 1768, having made five hundred pounds by the production and publishing of The Good-natured Man, he removed from an attic in the Staircase, Inner Temple, and purchased a lease of three rooms on the second floor of 2 Brick Court, Temple. Blackstone, the lawyer, then working on his Commentaries, had chambers immediately below him, and complained angrily of the distracting noises—the singing, dancing, and playing blind-man's-buff—that went on over his head when Goldsmith was entertaining his friends.

 

OLIVER GOLDSMITH

 

Pale, round-faced, plain-featured, with a bulging forehead and an ugly, long upper lip, there was more of kindness and geniality than of dignity or intellect in Goldsmith's appearance. “His person was short,” says Boswell, who was jealous of his friendship with Johnson, and never realised how great he was, “his countenance was coarse and vulgar, his deportment that of a scholar awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman. Those who were in any way distinguished excited envy in him to so ridiculous an excess that the instances of it are hardly credible.” But Boswell misjudged him because, conceited and petty himself, he easily read those qualities into the behaviour of the other, and so misunderstood him. Goldsmith may have had some harmless vanity in the matter of dress, when he could afford to indulge it; but as for vanity of his achievements, that speaking of poetry as

“My shame in crowds, my solitary pride,”

is the spontaneous confession of a naturally shy and diffident spirit. When a man has been buffeted as he had been, has had to slave so hard and wait so long for his reward as he had slaved and waited, he accepts the fame that comes to him merely as wages well earned, and is not likely to grow swollen-headed concerning it. And for his envious character—here is what Boswell gives as a specimen of it. Johnson had come from an unexpected interview with the king, and a party of friends at Sir Joshua Reynolds's house in Leicester Square were gathered about him pressing for a full account of what had taken place. During all the time that Johnson was employed in this narration, remarks Boswell, “Dr. Goldsmith remained unmoved upon a sofa at some distance, affecting not to join in the least in the eager curiosity of the company. He assigned as a reason for his gloom and seeming inattention that he apprehended Johnson had relinquished his purpose of furnishing him with a prologue to his play, with the hopes of which he had been flattered; but it was strongly suspected that he was fretting with chagrin and envy at the singular honour Dr. Johnson had lately enjoyed. At length, the frankness and simplicity of his natural character prevailed. He sprung from the sofa, advanced to Johnson, and in a kind of flutter from imagining himself in the situation which he had just been hearing described, exclaimed, ‘Well, you acquitted yourself in this conversation better than I should have done; for I should have bowed and stammered through the whole of it.'” Naturally this talk with the king would not seem such a breathlessly overwhelming honour to such a man as Goldsmith as to such a snob as Boswell. It was in keeping with Goldsmith's nature that he should sit quietly listening and imagining the whole thing as he heard about it, instead of fussing round open-mouthed to pester the narrator with trivial questions; but Boswell was incapable of realising this.

 

2 BRICK COURT. THE TEMPLE.

 

When Boswell, in his toadying spirit, was saying that in any conversation Johnson was entitled to the honour of unquestionable superiority, and Goldsmith, with a truer conception of the art and pleasure of social intercourse, replied, “Sir, you are for making a monarchy of what should be a republic,” Boswell took it as another proof of Goldsmith's envy, and of his “incessant desire of being conspicuous in company.” He goes on to say: “He was still more mortified when, talking in a company with fluent vivacity and, as he flattered himself, to the admiration of all who were present, a German who sat next to him, and perceived Johnson rolling himself as if about to speak, suddenly stopped him, saying, ‘Stay, stay! Toctor Shonson is going to say something!' This was no doubt very provoking, especially to one so irritable as Goldsmith, who frequently mentioned it with strong expressions of indignation.” A vain man would not have mentioned it frequently, but a man with Goldsmith's sense of fun would be tickled by it, and rejoice to tell it as a joke against himself, simulating indignation to heighten the jest. When he heard that jape at Sir Joshua's table of taking peas to Hammersmith because that was the way to Turn'am Green, and afterwards retelling it muddled the phrase and made nonsense of it, Boswell offers it as further evidence that he was a blundering fool. But it is more likely that he blundered on purpose, merely to raise a laugh, that being his queer, freakish fashion of humour. But the Laird of Auchinleck and some of the others were too staid and heavy to follow his nimble wits in their grotesque and airy dancings.

 

STAIRS UP TO SECOND FLOOR. 2 BRICK COURT.

 

Why, even the egregious Boswell has to admit that “Goldsmith, however, was often very fortunate in his witty contests, even when he entered the lists with Johnson himself.” And once, when Johnson observed, “It is amazing how little Goldsmith knows; he seldom comes where he is not more ignorant than any one else,” Reynolds put in quietly, “Yet there is no man whose company is more liked”; and the Doctor promptly admitted that, saying, “When people find a man of the most distinguished abilities as a writer their inferior while he is with them, it must be highly gratifying to them.” But that did not fully explain why he was liked, of course; and what Johnson added as to “what Goldsmith comically says of himself” shows that Goldie knew his own weaknesses, and was amused by them. Lamb would have understood him and laughed with him, for he loved to frivol and play the fool in the same vein. When he was dead, Johnson said he was “a very great man”; and don't you think there is some touch of remorse in that later remark of his, that the partiality of Goldsmith's friends was always against him, and “it was with difficulty we could give him a hearing”?

 

GOLDSMITH'S GRAVE.

 

When he lay dead in his chambers at 2 Brick Court, as Forster relates, the staircase was filled with mourners the reverse of domestic—“women without a home, without domesticity of any kind, with no friend but him they had come to weep for; outcasts of that great, solitary, wicked city, to whom he had never forgotten to be kind and charitable. And he had domestic mourners, too. His coffin was reopened at the request of Miss Horneck and her sister (such was the regard he was known to have for them), that a lock might be cut from his hair. It was in Mrs. Gwyn's possession when she died, after nearly seventy years.” When Burke was told that Goldsmith was dead, he burst into tears; and when the news reached Reynolds in his Leicester Square painting-room, he laid his brush aside—a thing he had not been known to do even in times of great family distress—left his study, and entered it no more that day. A vain and envious fool is not mourned in that fashion.

“I have been many a time in the chambers in the Temple which were his,” writes Thackeray, “and passed up the staircase which Johnson and Burke and Reynolds trod to see their friend, their poet, their kind Goldsmith—the stair on which the poor women sat weeping bitterly when they heard that the greatest and most generous of all men was dead within the black oak door.”

No. 2 Brick Court would be memorable enough if it held no other memory; but in 1839 Mackworth Praed died in the same house, and for a short time in 1855 Thackeray too had chambers in it.

HOMES AND HAUNTS OF JOHNSON AND BOSWELL

If we were not quite such a business people, and had not so fully satisfied ourselves that the making of money is the chief end of existence, we should put up a statue to Dr. Johnson in Fleet Street, even if we had to knock down a house or two to find room for it. The statue by Mr. Percy Fitzgerald that has been erected in St. Clement Danes Churchyard, in the Strand, is better than nothing, but it is too insignificant in appearance, and stands in the wrong place. Johnson is still so far removed from death that he is more alive to-day than when he was living, and Fleet Street, and the courts and alleys opening out of Fleet Street, are his proper kingdom. Other great spirits haunt the same ground, but he overshadows them all.

At one time or another during the later forty-seven years of his life Johnson had sixteen different addresses in London, and six of them were in Fleet Street byways. On his first visit to town, in 1737, he had lodgings at Exeter Street, Strand, and made some short stay at Greenwich, whence he wrote to Cave, the publisher, offering to contribute to his Gentleman's Magazine. Next year he and his wife finally removed from Lichfield, and lodged first in Woodstock Street, Hanover Square, and then in Castle Street, Cavendish Square. Presently he flitted to the Strand; to Bow Street; to Holborn; to Fetter Lane; to Holborn again; then to Gough Square, at the top of Wine Office Court, where he lived for ten years; then to Staple Inn; to Gray's Inn; to No. 1 Inner Temple Lane; to No. 7 Johnson's Court (so named before his time, as Boswell Court was before Boswell's); and thence to Bolt Court, where, in 1784, he died.

Of all these homes of Johnson's, only two are now surviving—that in Staple Inn, which cannot be identified (we know only that it was one of the houses in the square); and that in Gough Square, which, next to the Bolt Court house, was the most interesting of his sixteen residences—and one is grateful that, mainly owing to the good offices of Mr. Cecil Harmsworth, it has been saved from demolition, and is now opened as a Johnson museum.

Johnson was still a bookseller's hack and a comparatively unknown man when, in 1747, at the age of thirty-eight, he started work on his Dictionary. He was then living in Holborn; but next year he moved into Gough Square, and it was here that most of this colossal work was done. And to-day, when you visit that house, you find that all the teeming life of the last hundred and sixty years has drained out of it completely, and nothing remains in the old rooms but memories of Johnson and his friends. He works there for ever now in the study that used to be his, poring short-sightedly over books and papers; and in the queer, sloping-ceilinged garret above are his six assistants, copying, hunting out references for the Dictionary, and busy with all the mechanical part of the undertaking. You have only to stand there and think of it, and, if you have read Boswell and Hawkins, the life of the household as it was in those ten years long past refashions itself around you in the magic, old-world atmosphere of the place.

 

ENTRANCE TO STAPLE INN.

 

Five publishers joined in commissioning Johnson to compile the Dictionary, and arranged to pay him a sum of £1575, out of which he had to engage his assistants. “For the mechanical part,” writes Boswell, “he employed six amanuenses; and let it be remembered by the natives of North Britain, to whom he is supposed to have been so hostile, that five of them were of that country. There were two Messieurs Macbean; Mr. Shiels; Mr. Stewart, son of Mr. George Stewart, bookseller at Edinburgh; and a Mr. Maitland. The sixth of these humble assistants was Mr. Peyton, who, I believe, taught French, and published some elementary tracts.” That upper room in Gough Square was fitted up like a counting-house, and each of the six workers in it was allotted his separate task. Boswell goes on to describe Johnson's method: “The words, partly taken from other dictionaries and partly supplied by himself, having been first written down with spaces left between them, he delivered in writing their etymologies, definitions, and various significations. The authorities were copied from the books themselves, in which he had marked the passages with a black-lead pencil, the traces of which could easily be effaced. I have seen several of them in which that trouble had not been taken, so that they were just as when used by the copyists. It is remarkable that he was so attentive in the choice of the passages in which words were authorised that one may read page after page of his Dictionary  with improvement and pleasure; and it should not pass unobserved that he has quoted no author whose writings had a tendency to hurt sound religion and morality.... He is now to be considered as ‘tugging at his oar,' as engaged in a steady, continued course of occupation, sufficient to employ all his time for some years, and which was the best preventive of that constitutional melancholy which was ever lurking about him, ready to trouble his quiet.”

In after years, with his natural, large kindness of disposition, Johnson retained a sympathetic interest in those six assistants of his. The elder of the two Macbeans fell at length into great poverty, and Johnson helped him by writing a preface to his System of Ancient Geography, and afterwards influenced Lord Thurlow in getting him admitted as a Poor Brother of the Charterhouse. He had Shiel, who was dying of consumption, to help him with his Lives of the Poets ; and when Peyton died almost destitute, it was Johnson who paid his funeral expenses.

Whilst he was “tugging at his oar” and making steady headway with the Dictionary, Johnson sought recreation in founding one of his many literary clubs—an informal little club that met of evenings in Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row, and numbered among its members Hawkesworth, who succeeded Johnson as compiler of Parliamentary debates for the Gentleman's Magazine, and later edited and wrote most of a bi-weekly, The Adventurer ; Dr. Bathurst, who with Johnson and Warton contributed to that Adventurer ; and Hawkins, who in due course became one of Johnson's executors and biographers. He had published his satire, London, eleven years before this; but it was whilst he was living in Gough Square, with the Dictionary  in full progress, that he wrote and published his only other great satire, The Vanity of Human Wishes, with its references to the hope deferred, the hardships of his own life, and the obscurity and poverty from which he was but now gradually beginning to emerge:—

“When first the college rolls receive his name,
The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame;
Resistless burns the fever of renown,
Caught from the strong contagion of the gown:
O'er Bodley's dome his future labours spread,
And Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head.
Are these thy views? proceed, illustrious youth,
And virtue guard thee to the throne of truth!
Yet should thy soul indulge the generous heat,
Till captive science yields her last retreat;
Should reason guide thee with her brightest ray
And pour on misty doubt resistless day;
Should no false kindness lure to loose delight,
Nor praise relax, nor difficulty fright;
Should tempting novelty thy cell refrain,
And sloth effuse her opiate fumes in vain;
Should beauty blunt on fops her fatal dart,
Nor claim the triumph of a lettered heart;
Should no disease thy torpid veins invade
Nor melancholy's phantom haunt thy shade;
Yet hope not life from grief or danger free,
Nor think the doom of man reversed for thee:
Deign on the passing world to turn thine eyes,
And pause awhile from learning to be wise:
There mark what ills the scholar's life assail,
Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.
See nations slowly wise, and meanly just,
To buried merit raise the tardy bust.
If dreams yet flatter, yet again attend,
Hear Lydiat's life, and Galileo's end.”

Had the Gough Square house been memorable only as the birthplace of the Dictionary, it would have been enough to have given it immortality; for, as Carlyle says (and Carlyle once went reverently over these rooms, and wrote a record of his visit), “Had Johnson left nothing but his Dictionary, one might have traced there a great intellect, a genuine man. Looking to its clearness of definition, its general solidity, honesty, insight, and successful method, it may be called the best of all dictionaries. There is in it a kind of architectural nobleness; it stands there like a great, solid, square-built edifice, finished, symmetrically complete; you judge that a true builder did it.” But, still while the Dictionary  was going on, shortly after the publication of The Vanity of Human Wishes, which yielded him £15, Garrick produced his tragedy of Irene at Drury Lane. It was a failure on the stage; the audience shrieked “Murder! murder!” when the bowstring was placed round the heroine's neck; but Johnson, feeling that a dramatic author should be more gaily dressed than it was his wont to appear, sat in a box on the first night in a scarlet waistcoat, with rich gold lace, and a gold-laced hat, and accepted his failure with unruffled calmness; and Dodsley paid him £100 for the right to publish the play as a book.

Still while he was in the thick of the Dictionary, he set himself, in 1750, to start The Rambler, and you may take it that he was sitting in his Gough Square study one night when he wrote that prayer before publishing his first number:—

“Almighty God, the giver of all good things, without whose help all labour is ineffectual, and without whose grace all wisdom is folly; grant, I beseech Thee, that in this undertaking Thy Holy Spirit may not be withheld from me, but that I may promote Thy glory, and the salvation of myself and others. Grant this, O Lord, for the sake of Thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.”

 

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS

 

His first number was printed on the 20th March 1750, and he issued it every Saturday and Tuesday afterwards for two years. “This,” as Boswell has it, “is a strong confirmation of the truth of a remark of his, that ‘a man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it'; for, notwithstanding his constitutional indolence, his depression of spirits, and his labour in carrying on his Dictionary, he answered the stated calls of the press twice a week, from the stores of his mind, during all that time; having received no assistance, except four billets in No. 10, by Miss Mulso, now Mrs. Chapone; No. 30, by Miss Catherine Talbot; No. 97, by Mr. Samuel Richardson; and Nos. 44 and 100, by Mrs. Elizabeth Carter.” He was so pressed for time that he wrote a good many of the essays in such haste that he had no opportunity even to read them through again before they were printed. One thing that particularly gratified Johnson in connection with the Rambler  was that his wife said to him, after she had read a few numbers, “I thought very well of you before, but I did not imagine you could have written anything equal to this.”

Gough Square is hallowed, too, with sadder memories of Johnson's wife, for she died here in March 1752; and to the end of his days he never forgot her or ceased to sorrow for her. She was a plain-featured woman some years older than himself, but he always spoke of her with a wonderful tenderness and love, and as of one who had been beautiful to look upon. How deeply he felt her loss is evident not merely from some of his sayings, but from his letters, and from those Prayers and Meditations, in which he set down his most intimate thoughts and feelings. After his death, this written prayer was found among his papers, dated in the month after her passing:—

April 26th, 1752, being after 12 at night of the 25th.

“O Lord! Governor of heaven and earth, in whose hands are embodied and departed spirits, if Thou hast ordained the souls of the dead to minister to the living, and appointed my departed wife to have care of me, grant that I may enjoy the good effects of her attention and ministration, whether exercised by appearance, impulses, dreams, or in any other manner agreeable to Thy government. Forgive my presumption, enlighten my ignorance, and however meaner agents are employed, grant me the blessed influences of Thy Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 

DR. JOHNSON'S HOUSE. GOUGH SQUARE.

 

You may stand in the Square to-night, after twelve at night, when all the windows of all the other houses are dark, as they were in that night of 1752, and look up at the window in which the solitary light burned then, whilst, within, the grief-stricken Johnson sat alone in his study writing down that humble, mournful aspiration, and as you look the same light kindles there and glimmers desolately again for all who have eyes to see it. Nor was this the only record of his sorrow that was written in that room, for you find these notes in his journal a year later:—

March 28, 1753. I kept this day as the anniversary of my Tetty's death, with prayers and tears in the morning. In the evening I prayed for her conditionally, if it were lawful.”

April 23, 1753. I know not whether I do not too much indulge the vain longings of affection; but I hope they intenerate my heart, and that when I die like my Tetty, this affection will be acknowledged in a happy interview, and that in the meantime I am incited by it to piety. I will, however, not deviate too much from common and received methods of devotion.”

Boswell tells us that he preserved her wedding-ring reverently as long as he lived, keeping it in “a little round wooden box, in the inside of which he pasted a slip of paper, thus inscribed by him in fair characters, as follows:—

‘Eheu!
Eliz. Johnson,
Nupta Jul. 9º, 1736,
Mortua, eheu!
Mart. 17º, 1752.'”

Some thought of her, indeed, rises again and again thereafter in those Prayers and Meditations  of his, and so makes this house peculiarly reminiscent of her. Before Mrs. Johnson's death, Mrs. Anna Williams had become a constant visitor at the house here. She was a poetess in a small way, daughter of a Welsh physician, and was in London having both her eyes treated for cataract. After his wife's death, Johnson gave Mrs. Williams accommodation in Gough Square whilst her eyes were operated upon; and, the operation failing and complete blindness following it, with his usual big-hearted humanity he allowed her an apartment in this and each of his subsequent homes; and you remember Boswell's complaint of how his fastidious susceptibilities were outraged by the way in which she felt round the edges of the cups to see if they were full, when she presided over the tea-table. In the same spirit, Johnson gave house-room here also, and elsewhere, to that simplest and most kindly of medical practitioners, Dr. Robert Levett, on whose death, several years later, he wrote the best of his shorter poems.

You get a good idea of his general manner of life in Gough Square from the note that Boswell obtained from Francis Barber, Johnson's black servant, who wrote that on his wife's death Johnson was “in great affliction. Mrs. Williams was then living in his house, which was in Gough Square. He was busy with the Dictionary. Mr. Shiels and some others of the gentlemen who had formerly written for him used to come about the house. He had then little for himself, but frequently sent money to Mr. Shiels when in distress. The friends who visited him at that time were chiefly Dr. Bathurst, and Mr. Diamond, an apothecary in Cork Street, Burlington Gardens, with whom he and Mrs. Williams generally dined every Sunday. There were also Mr. Cave; Dr. Hawkesworth; Mr. Rydal, merchant on Tower Hill; Mrs. Masters, the poetess, who lived with Mr. Cave; Mrs. Carter; and sometimes Mrs. Macaulay; also Mrs. Gardiner, wife of a tallow-chandler on Snow Hill, not in the learned way, but a worthy good woman; Mr. (now Sir Joshua) Reynolds; Mr. Miller; Mr. Dodsley; Mr. Bouquet; Mr. Payne, of Paternoster Row, bookseller; Mr. Strachan the printer; the Earl of Orrery; Lord Southwell; Mr. Garrick.”

 

JAMES BOSWELL

 

It was shortly after the conclusion of The Rambler  that Johnson first made the acquaintance of Bennet Langton. He had taken lodgings in a house that was frequently visited by Dr. Levett; and, with Johnson's permission, Levett one day brought Langton to Gough Square, and, says Boswell:—

“Mr. Langton was exceedingly surprised when the sage first appeared. He had not received the smallest intimation of his figure, dress, or manner. From perusing his writings, he fancied he should see a decent, well-dressed—in short, a remarkably decorous philosopher. Instead of which, down from his bed-chamber, about noon, came, as newly risen, a huge uncouth figure, with a little dark wig which scarcely covered his head, and his clothes hanging loose about him. But his conversation was so rich, so animated, and so forcible, and his religious and political notions so congenial with those in which Langton had been educated, that he conceived for him that veneration and attachment which he ever preserved.”

In 1753 Johnson “relieved the drudgery of his Dictionary ” by writing essays for Hawkesworth's Adventurer, and in this and the next two years did a lot of reviewing and varied hack-work for the magazines and miscellanies of his time; and in February 1775 he wrote that nobly scathing and touching letter to Lord Chesterfield, that is too well known to need reprinting, but must needs be reprinted here, because it was written from Gough Square, and would make any house from which it was written an honoured and sacred place to all who value the dignity of literature and glory in the emancipation of the literary man from the condescending benevolence of the private patron:—

My Lord ,—I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of The World, that two papers in which my Dictionary  is recommended to the public were written by your lordship. To be so distinguished is an honour which, being very little accustomed to favours from the great, I know not well how to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.

“When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your lordship, I was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself Le vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre —that I might obtain that regard for which I saw the whole world contending; but I found my attendance so little encouraged that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your lordship in public, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.

“Seven years, my lord, have now passed since I waited in your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing on with my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it, at last, to the verge of publication, without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron before.

“The shepherd in Virgil  grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks.

“Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a patron which Providence has enabled me to do for myself.

“Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I shall conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long wakened from that dream of hope, in which I once boasted myself with so much exultation,

“My lord, your lordship's most humble,
“Most obedient servant,
Sam. Johnson.”

A few months after this the Dictionary  was finished. There had been many delays; it was long behind the stipulated time, and the patience of the publishers was exhausted; but at last Johnson sent the last sheets of the great work to Mr. Miller, the Strand bookseller, who was chiefly concerned in the venture, and when the messenger returned from Miller's shop Johnson asked him, “Well, what did he say?” “Sir,” answered the messenger, “he said, ‘Thank God I have done with him.'” “I am glad,” replied Johnson, with a smile, “that he thanks God for anything.”

The publication of the Dictionary  made him at once the most famous man of letters in London; but he had already spent the money that was paid for his labour, and had still to work hard with his pen to make “provision for the day that was passing over him.” In 1757 he took up again a scheme for an elaborate edition of Shakespeare with notes, and issued proposals and invited subscriptions for it; but it was another nine years before his Shakespeare made its appearance. Among his many visitors in 1758, Dr. Charles Burney, the father of Fanny Burney, called and “had an interview with him in Gough Square, where he dined and drank tea with him, and was introduced to the acquaintance of Mrs. Williams. After dinner, Mr. Johnson proposed to Mr. Burney to go up with him into his garret, which, being accepted, he there found about five or six Greek folios, a deal writing-desk, and a chair and a half. Johnson, giving his guest the entire seat, tottered himself on one with only three legs and one arm. Here he gave Mr. Burney Mrs. Williams's history, and showed him some volumes of Shakespeare already printed, to prove that he was in earnest.” They proceeded to criticise Shakespeare's commentators up there, and to discuss the controversy then raging between the friends of Pope and Bolingbroke in connection with an unauthorised publication of certain of Bolingbroke's letters to Pope, who was recently dead. And in the April of this same year Johnson began to write his essays for The Idler.

 

JOHNSON'S CORNER. THE CHESHIRE CHEESE.

 

Here, then, you have a varied and intimate series of pictures, a sort of panoramic view of the life that Johnson lived in his Gough Square house, and amid his old surroundings are able to recreate him for yourself in all his varying circumstances and changing moods—working there at his Dictionary  and hismultifarious writings; sorrowing for his wife; entertaining his friends; sallying forth morning and evening to walk along Fleet Street to the church of St. Clement Danes, in the Strand, assuming that he kept the resolution to do so that is entered at this date in his journal; and, almost every Sunday afternoon, coming staidly down the steps with Mrs. Williams, and setting out to dine with Mr. Diamond, the apothecary of Cork Street; on many evenings strolling along Wine Office Court, to forgather with friends in the parlour of the “Cheshire Cheese,” where the seat traditionally occupied by him and Goldsmith is still to be seen; or going farther to a meeting of his club in Ivy Lane. There is a capital story told by Hawkins of how one night at that club a suggestion was made that they should celebrate the publication of Mrs. Lennox's first novel,The Life of Harriet Stuart, with a supper at the Devil Tavern, in Fleet Street. Johnson threw himself heart and soul into the proposal, and declared that they would honour the event by spending the whole night in festivity. On the evening fixed, at about eight o'clock, Mrs. Lennox and her husband, and some twenty friends and members of the club, gathered at the Devil Tavern, Temple Bar, and, by Johnson's orders, a magnificent hot apple-pie adorned with bay leaves formed a principal item of the menu. He himself crowned Mrs. Lennox with laurel; and, true to his resolve, he kept the feast going right through the night. “At 5 a.m.,” says Hawkins, “Johnson's face shone with meridian splendour, though his drink had been only lemonade.” The day was beginning to dawn when they all partook of a “second refreshment of coffee,” and it was broad daylight and eight o'clock before the party broke up, and Johnson made his way back up Fleet Street, round into Gough Square, and to the prosaic resumption of work on the Dictionary.

Soon after starting The Idler, Johnson left Gough Square and took rooms in Staple Inn, where he presently wrote Rasselas  in the evenings of one week, and so raised £100, that “he might defray the expenses of his mother's funeral, and pay some little debts which she had left.”

All these things had happened, and Johnson had risen into fame and become “the great Cham of letters,” before Boswell had made his acquaintance. The historic meeting between these two did not come about until 1763, and then it took place at No. 8 Russell Street, Covent Garden—another famous house that is fortunately still in existence. It was then occupied by Thomas Davies, the actor, who had retired from the stage and opened a bookseller's shop there. He knew Johnson, who frequently visited him, and on his invitation Boswell was there several times in hopes of meeting the great man; again and again it happened that on the days when he was in waiting Johnson failed to appear, but in the end his patience was rewarded, and this is his own account of the interview, taken from notes he made of it on the very day of its occurrence:—

“At last, on Monday, the 16th of May, when I was sitting in Mr. Davies's back parlour, after having drunk tea with him and Mrs. Davies, Johnson unexpectedly came into the shop; and Mr. Davies, having perceived him through the glass door in the room in which we were sitting, advancing towards us, he announced his awful approach to me, somewhat in the manner of an actor in the part of Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on the appearance of his father's ghost: ‘Look, my lord, it comes!' I found that I had a very perfect idea of Johnson's figure, from the portrait of him painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds soon after he had published his Dictionary, in the attitude of sitting in his easy-chair in deep meditation. Mr. Davies mentioned my name, and respectfully introduced me to him. I was much agitated; and recollecting his prejudice against the Scotch, of which I had heard much, I said to Davies, ‘Don't tell where I come from.' ‘From Scotland,' cried Davies roguishly. ‘Mr. Johnson,' said I, ‘I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.' He retorted, ‘That, sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help.' This stroke stunned me a good deal; and when we had sat down, I felt myself not a little embarrassed and apprehensive of what might come next. He then addressed himself to Davies: ‘What do you think of Garrick? He has refused me an order for the play for Miss Williams, because he knows the house will be full, and that an order would be worth three shillings.' Eager to take any opening to get into conversation with him, I ventured to say, ‘O sir, I cannot think Mr. Garrick would grudge such a trifle to you.' ‘Sir,' said he, with a stern look, ‘I have known David Garrick longer than you have done, and I know no right you have to talk to me on the subject.' Perhaps I deserved this check; for it was rather presumptuous in me, an entire stranger, to express any doubt of thejustice of his animadversion upon his old acquaintance and pupil. I now felt myself much mortified, and began to think that the hope which I had long indulged of obtaining his acquaintance was blasted.” But he sat on resolutely, and was rewarded by hearing some of Johnson's conversation, of which he kept notes, that are duly reproduced in the Life.

 

WHERE BOSWELL FIRST MET JOHNSON.

 

“I was highly pleased with the extraordinary vigour of his conversation,” he concludes his account of the meeting, “and regretted that I was drawn away from it by an engagement at another place. I had for a part of the evening been left alone with him, and had ventured to make an observation now and then, which he received very civilly; so I was satisfied that, though there was a roughness in his manner, there was no ill-nature in his disposition. Davies followed me to the door; and when I complained to him a little of the hard blows which the great man had given me, he kindly took upon him to console me by saying, ‘Don't be uneasy; I can see he likes you very well.'”

Davies's shop is kept nowadays by a Covent Garden salesman. Instead of being lined with books, it is filled with baskets of fruit and sacks of potatoes, and the parlour wall and that glass-panelled parlour door are thrown down, and parlour and shop are all one. But the upper part of the house remains practically unaltered, and with a little imagining you can restore the lower to what it was when these walls held the gruff rumbling of the Doctor's voice, and looked down on the humiliation of Boswell under the roguish eyes of Davies and his pretty wife.

Another house that has glamorous associations with Johnson is No. 5 Adelphi Terrace, where Garrick lived, and where he died, in a back room on the first floor, in 1779. Two years later Johnson was one of a party that dined there with Mrs. Garrick, and one cannot do better than repeat the indispensable Boswell's report of the event:—

“On Friday, April 20, I spent with him one of the happiest days that I remember to have enjoyed in the whole course of my life. Mrs. Garrick, whose grief for the loss of her husband was, I believe, as sincere as wounded affection and admiration could produce, had this day, for the first time since his death, a select party of his friends to dine with her. The company was: Mrs. Hannah More, who lived with her, and whom she called her chaplain; Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Burney, Dr. Johnson, and myself. We found ourselves very elegantly entertained at her house in the Adelphi, where I have passed many a pleasing hour with him ‘who gladdened life.' She looked well, talked of her husband with complacency, and while she cast her eyes on his portrait, which hung over the chimney-piece, said that ‘death was now the most agreeable object to her.'... We were all in fine spirits; and I whispered to Mrs. Boscawen, ‘I believe this is as much as can be made of life.'” After recording the conversation of Johnson and divers of the others, Boswell goes on: “He and I walked away together. We stopped a little by the rails of the Adelphi, looking on the Thames, and I said to him, with some emotion, that I was now thinking of two friends we had lost who once lived in the buildings behind us, Beauclerk and Garrick. ‘Ay, sir,' said he tenderly, ‘and two such friends as cannot be supplied.'”

 

BOSWELL'S HOUSE. GREAT QUEEN STREET.

 

In the summer of 1784 Boswell was in London as usual, and saw Johnson, then an old man of seventy-five, for the last time. On the 30th June, he and Johnson dined with Sir Joshua Reynolds in Leicester Square, and when Johnson went home Boswell accompanied him in Sir Joshua's coach to the entry of Bolt Court, in Fleet Street, and was so affected at parting that he would not accompany him to the house, and they bade each other an affectionate adieu in the carriage. Johnson stepped out on to the pavement, and, walking briskly, vanished into the yawn of Bolt Court, and, for Boswell, into the jaws of death, for he never saw him again. He went home to the north two days after, and in December Johnson died.

On his annual visits to London Boswell lived in various lodgings; but in or about 1786 he rented the house, still standing, at 56 Great Queen Street, and brought his wife to town with him. They occupied this place for some two years; and it is evident from his letters to Bishop Percy and the Rev. T. W. Temple that, whilst residing there, he wrote most of the last seven years of his Life of Johnson. Boswell died in London, in 1795, at No. 122 (formerly 47) Great Portland Street.

CHARLES LAMB

At one of those free-and-easy sociable gatherings in Lamb's rooms, in the Temple, which Hazlitt has so happily immortalised, Lamb provoked some discussion by asking which of all the English literary men of the past one would most wish to have seen and known. Ayrton, who was of the company, said he would choose the two greatest names in English literature—Sir Isaac Newton and John Locke. “Every one burst out laughing,” writes Hazlitt, “at the expression of Lamb's face, in which impatience was restrained by courtesy. ‘Yes, the greatest names,' he stammered out hastily, ‘but they were not persons—not persons.... There is nothing personally interesting in the men.'” It is Lamb's glory that he is both a great name and a great and interesting personality; and if his question were put again to-day in any company of book-lovers I should not be alone in saying at once that the writer of the past I would soonest have seen and known is Charles Lamb.

It is difficult to write of him without letting your enthusiasm run away with you. Except for a few reviewers of his own day (and the reviewers of one's own day count for little or nothing the day after), nobody who knew Lamb in his life or has come to know him through his books and the books that tell of him has been able to write of him except with warmest admiration and affection. Even so testy and difficult a man as Landor, who only saw Lamb once, could not touch on his memory without profound emotion, and says in some memorial verses:—

“Of all that ever wore man's form, 'tis thee
I first would spring to at the gates of heaven.”

And you remember Wordsworth's—

“O, he was good, if e'er a good man lived!”

There is, too, that well-known anecdote of how Thackeray lifted a volume of Elia  and held it against his forehead and murmured “St. Charles!” All which, and many other utterances of love and reverence for his personal character, particularly Wordsworth's reference to him as “Lamb, the frolic and the gentle,” would have exasperated Lamb himself and moved him to angry protest. “I have had the Anthology,” he wrote to Coleridge in 1800, “and like only one thing in it, ‘Lewti'; but of that the last stanza is detestable, the rest most exquisite: the epithet ‘enviable' would dash the finest poem. For God's sake (I never was more serious) don't make me ridiculous any more by terming me gentle-hearted in print, or do it in better verses. It did well enough five years ago when I came to see you, and was moral coxcomb enough at the time you wrote the lines to feed upon such epithets; but besides that the meaning of ‘gentle' is equivocal at best, and almost always means poor-spirited, the very quality of gentleness is abhorrent to such vile trumpetings. My sentiment has long since vanished. I hope my virtues have done sucking. I can scarce think but you meant it in joke. I hope you did, for I should be ashamed to believe that you could think to gratify me by such praise, fit only to be a cordial to some green-sick sonneteer.” The epithet so rankled in his recollection that a week later he returned to the topic. “In the next edition of the Anthology  (which Phœbus avert, and those nine other wandering maids also!) please to blot out ‘gentle-hearted,' and substitute ‘drunken dog, ragged head, seld-shaven, odd-eyed, stuttering,' or any other epithet which truly and properly belongs to the gentleman in question. And for Charles read Tom, or Bob, or Richard for mere delicacy.”

Gentle Lamb certainly was, but the word is not large enough or robustly human enough to cover all his character. He wins your regard by his faults as well as by his virtues. If he drank a little too much at times, and sometimes talked and wrote foolishly and too flippantly to please the serious-minded, he far more often talked and wrote wisely, wittily, exquisitely, and for thirty-eight years of his life he readily sacrificed himself to his sister's well-being, giving up all thought of marriage that he might be her constant guardian and attendant, watching dreadfully for signs of her recurring fits of insanity, and when they were coming upon her going with her to the melancholy gate of the asylum, and directly her mind was cleared, returning eagerly to fetch her home again.

He was never in the habit of laying himself out to create a good impression on strangers; if they were unsympathetic, or he did not take to them, in his freakish fashion he would deliberately say and do things to shock and antagonise them, and so it came about that those who did not know him or could not appreciate him frequently set him down as “something between an imbecile, a brute, and a buffoon.” Carlyle formed that sort of impression of him; and one can believe there was scarcely any point of contact between Carlyle's sombre, deadly earnest, man-with-a-message outlook and the tricksy, elvish, quaintly humorous spirit of Lamb, who wrote with a delicate fancy and tenderness that are more lasting than Carlyle's solid preachings are likely to prove, and who “stuttered his quaintness in snatches,” says Haydon, “like the fool in Lear, and with equal beauty.”

That is a fine and wonderful glimpse of one side of Lamb given by Leigh Hunt when he says he could have imagined him “cracking a joke in the teeth of a ghost, and then melting into thin air himself out of sympathy with the awful.” In describing him, most of his friends emphasise “the bland, sweet smile, with a touch of sadness in it.” “A light frame, so fragile that it seemed as if a breath would overthrow it,” is Talfourd's picture of him, “clad in clerk-like black, and surmounted by a head of form and expression the most noble and sweet. His black hair curled crisply about an expanded forehead; his eyes, softly brown, twinkled with varying expression, though the prevalent feeling was sad; and the nose slightly curved, and delicately carved at the nostril, with the lower outline of the face regularly oval, completed a head which was finely placed on the shoulders, and gave importance and even dignity to a diminutive and shadowy stem. Who shall describe his countenance, catch its quivering sweetness, and fix it for ever in words? There are none, alas, to answer the vain desire of friendship. Deep thought, striving with humour; the lines of suffering wreathed into cordial mirth; and a smile of painful sweetness, present an image to the mind it can as little describe as lose. His personal appearance and manner are not unfitly characterised by what he himself says in one of his letters to Manning of Braham—‘a compound of the Jew, the gentleman, and the angel.'” Add to this the sketch that Patmore has left of him: “In point of intellectual character and expression, a finer face was never seen, nor one more fully, however vaguely, corresponding with the mind whose features it interpreted. There was the gravity usually engendered by a life passed in book-learning, without the slightest tinge of that assumption and affectation which almost always attend the gravity so engendered; the intensity and elevation of general expression that mark high genius, without any of its pretension and its oddity; the sadness waiting on fruitless thoughts and baffled aspirations, but no evidence of that spirit of scorning and contempt which these are apt to engender. Above all, there was a pervading sweetness and gentleness which went straight to the heart of every one who looked on it; and not the less so, perhaps, that it bore about it an air, a something, seeming to tell that it was not put on —for nothing could be more unjust than to tax Lamb with assuming anything, even a virtue, which he did not possess—but preserved and persevered in, spite of opposing and contradictory feelings within that struggled in vain for mastery. It was a thing to remind you of that painful smile which bodily disease and agony will sometimes put on, to conceal their sufferings from the observation of those they love.”

It was a look—this look of patient endurance, of smiling resignation, of painful cheerfulness—that you could not understand unless you were aware of the appalling tragedy that lay in the background of his life, and of the haunting dread, the anxious, daily anticipation of disaster, and the need of concealing this anxiety from her, that were involved in the matter-of-course self-sacrifice with which he devoted himself to the care and guardianship of his sister, Mary.

It was in 1796, when Lamb was living with his father and mother and sister in lodgings in Little Queen Street, that the tragedy happened which was to overshadow all his after years. The father was drifting into second childhood, the mother an invalid. Mary Lamb had to attend upon them both, with the help of a small servant and, in addition, took in plain sewing; Charles was a junior clerk at the India House. Only a little while before Lamb had himself suffered a mental breakdown and had been placed under temporary restraint (“the six weeks that finished last year,” he writes to Coleridge, in May 1796, “your very humble servant spent very agreeably in a madhouse, at Hoxton. I am got somewhat rational now, and don't bite any one. But mad I was”); then, in September 1796, his sister suddenly went out of her mind, stabbed her mother to the heart, and in her frenzy threw knives at others in the room, and wounded her father before Lamb could seize her and get her under control. There are no letters more terrible or more pathetic than those he wrote toColeridge, when the horror and heartbreak of this event was fresh upon him.

“My dearest Friend,” he writes on the 27th September 1796, “White, or some of my friends, or the public papers, by this time have informed you of the terrible calamities that have fallen on our family. I will only give you the outlines. My poor dear, dearest sister, in a fit of insanity, has been the death of her own mother. I was at hand only time enough to snatch the knife out of her grasp. She is at present in a madhouse, from whence I fear she must be moved to an hospital. God has preserved to me my senses: I eat, and drink, and sleep, and have my judgment, I believe, very sound. My poor father was slightly wounded, and I am left to take care of him and my aunt. Mr. Norris, of the Bluecoat School, has been very kind to us, and we have no other friend; but thank God I am very calm and composed, and able to do the best that remains to do. Write as religious a letter as possible, but no mention of what is gone and done with. With me ‘the former things are passed away,' and I have something more to do than to feel. God Almighty have us all in His keeping!

C. Lamb.

“Mention nothing of poetry. I have destroyed every vestige of past vanities of that kind. Do as you please, but if you publish, publish mine (I give free leave) without name or initial, and never send me a book, I charge you.

“Your own judgment will convince you not to take any notice of this yet to your dear wife. You look after your family; I have my reason and strength left to take care of mine. I charge you, don't think of coming to see me. Write. I will not see you if you come. God Almighty love you and all of us!

C. Lamb.

The book he mentions is one that he and Coleridge and Lloyd were arranging to publish together. In October there is another letter, replying to one from Coleridge, and saying his sister is restored to her senses—a long letter from which I shall quote only one or two memorable passages: “God be praised, Coleridge! wonderful as it is to tell, I have never once been otherwise than collected and calm; even on that dreadful day, and in the midst of the terrible scene, I preserved a tranquillity which bystanders may have construed into indifference—a tranquillity not of despair. Is it folly or sin in me to say that it was a religious principle that most  supported me? I allow much to other favourable circumstances. I felt that I had something else to do than to regret. On that first evening my aunt was lying insensible—to all appearance like one dying; my father, with his poor forehead plaistered over from a wound he had received from a daughter, dearly loved by him, and who loved him no less dearly; my mother a dead and murdered corpse in the next room; yet was I wonderfully supported. I closed not my eyes in sleep that night, but lay without terrors and without despair. I have lost no sleep since.... One little incident may serve to make you understand my way of managing my mind. Within a day or two after the fatal one, we dressed for dinner a tongue, which we had had salted for some weeks in the house. As I sat down, a feeling like remorse struck me: this tongue poor Mary got for me; and can I partake of it now, when she is far away? A thought occurred and relieved me: if I give in to this way of feeling, there is not a chair, a room, an object in our rooms, that will not awaken the keenest griefs. I must rise above such weaknesses. I hope this was not want of true feeling. I did not let this carry me, though, too far. On the very second day (I date from the day of horrors), as is usual in such cases, there were a matter of twenty people, I do think, supping in our room: they prevailed on me to eat with them (for to eat I never refused). They were all making merry in the room! Some had come from friendship, some from busy curiosity, and some from interest. I was going to partake with them, when my recollection came that my poor dead mother was lying in the next room—the very next room—a mother who, through life, wished nothing but her children's welfare. Indignation, the rage of grief, something like remorse, rushed upon my mind. In an agony of emotion I found my way mechanically to the adjoining room, and fell on my knees by the side of her coffin, asking forgiveness of Heaven, and sometimes of her, for forgetting her so soon. Tranquillity returned, and it was the only violent emotion that mastered me. I think it did me good.”

Through all his subsequent letters from time to time there are touching little references to his sister's illnesses: she is away, again and again, in the asylum, or in charge of nurses, and he is alone and miserable, but looking forward to her recovering presently and returning home. Once when they are away from London on a visit, she is suddenly taken with one of these frenzies, and on the way back to town he has to borrow a waistcoat to restrain her violence in the coach. But his love and loyalty were proof against it all; nothing would induce him to separate from her or let her go out of his charge, except during those intervals when she was so deranged as to be a danger to others and to herself.

About the end of 1799 Lamb moved into the Temple and, first at Mitre Court Buildings, then in Middle Temple Lane, he resided there, near the house of his birth, for some seventeen years in all. In these two places he and his sister kept open house every Wednesday evening, and Hazlitt and Talfourd, Barry Cornwall, Holcroft, Godwin, and, when they were in town, Wordsworth and Coleridge were among their guests. Hazlitt and Talfourd and others have told us something of those joyous evenings in the small, dingy rooms, comfortable with books and old prints, where cold beef and porter stood ready on the sideboard for the visitors to help themselves, and whilst whoever chose sat and played at whist the rest fleeted the golden hours in jest and conversation.

 

WILL'S COFFEE HOUSE. RUSSELL STREET.

 

Towards the end of 1817 the Lambs took lodgings at 20 Russell Street, Covent Garden, a house which was formerly part of Will's famous Coffee House, which Dryden used to frequent, having his summer seat by the fireside and his winter seat in the balcony, as chief of the wits and men of letters who made it their place of resort. In a letter to Dorothy Wordsworth, Mary Lamb reports their change of address: “We have left the Temple. I think you will be sorry to hear this. I know I have never been so well satisfied with thinking of you at Rydal Mount as when I could connect the idea of you with your own Grasmere Cottage. Our rooms were dirty and out of repair, and the inconvenience of living in chambers became every year more irksome, and so, at last, we mustered up resolution enough to leave the good old place that so long had sheltered us, and here we are living at a brazier's shop, No. 20 Russell Street, Covent Garden, a place all alive with noise and bustle; Drury Lane Theatre in sight from our front, and Covent Garden from our back windows. The hubbub of the carriages returning from the play does not annoy me in the least; strange that it does not, for it is quite tremendous. I quite enjoy looking out of the window, and listening to the calling up of the carriages, and the squabbles of the coachmen and linkboys. It is the oddest scene to look down upon; I am sure you would be amused with it. It is well I am in a cheerful place, or I should have many misgivings about leaving the Temple.” And on the 21st November 1817, Lamb also writes to Dorothy Wordsworth: “Here we are, transplanted from our native soil. I thought we never could be torn up from the Temple. Indeed it was an ugly wrench, but like a tooth, now 'tis out, and I am easy. We never can strike root so deep in any other ground. This, where we are, is a light bit of gardener's mould, and if they take us up from it, it will cost no blood and groans, like mandrakes pulled up. We are in the individual spot I like best in all this great city. The theatres, with all their noises. Covent Garden, dearer to me than any gardens of Alcinous, where we are morally sure of the earliest peas and 'sparagus. Bow Street, where the thieves are examined, within a few yards of us. Mary had not been here four-and-twenty hours before she saw a thief. She sits at the window working; and casually throwing out her eyes, she sees a concourse of people coming this way, with a constable to conduct the solemnity. These little incidents agreeably diversify a female life.”

During his residence in Russell Street, from 1817 till 1823, Lamb published in two volumes a collection of his miscellaneous writings, and contributed the Essays of Elia  to the London Magazine, which makes this Russell Street house, in a sense, the most notable of his various London homes. Here he continued his social gatherings, but had no regular evening for them, sending forth announcements periodically, such as that he sent to Ayrton in 1823: “Cards and cold mutton in Russell Street on Friday at 8 & 9. Gin and jokes from ½ past that time to 12. Pass this on to Mr. Payne, and apprize Martin thereof”—Martin being Martin Burney.

 

LAMB. COLEBROOKE ROW.

 

By the autumn of this year he has flitted from Covent Garden, and on the 2nd September writes to Bernard Barton: “When you come London-ward you will find me no longer in Covent Garden. I have a cottage in Colebrooke Row, Islington. A cottage, for it is detached; a white house, with six good rooms, the New River (rather elderly by this time) runs (if a moderate walking pace can be so termed) close to the foot of the house; and behind is a spacious garden, with vines (I assure you), pears, strawberries, parsnips, leeks, carrots, cabbages, to delight the heart of old Alcinous. You enter without passage into a cheerful dining-room, all studded over and rough with old books, and above is a lightsome drawing-room, three windows, full of choice prints. I feel like a great lord, never having had a house before”; and writing at the end of that week to invite Allsop to dinner on Sunday he supplies him with these directions: “Colebrook Cottage, left hand side, end of Colebrook Row, on the western brink of the New River, a detached whitish house.” To Barton, when he has been nearly three weeks at Islington, he says, “I continue to estimate my own roof-comforts highly. How could I remain all my life a lodger! My garden thrives (I am told), though I have yet reaped nothing but some tiny salad and withered carrots. But a garden's a garden anywhere, and twice a garden in London.”

Here, in November of that year, happened the accident to George Dyer that supplied Lamb with the subject of his whimsical Elian essay, Amicus Redivivus. Dyer was an odd, eccentric, very absent-minded old bookworm who lived in Clifford's Inn; Lamb delighted in his absurdities, and loved him, and loved to make merry over his quaint sayings and doings. “You have seen our house,” he writes to Mrs. Hazlitt, in the week after Dyer's adventure. “What I now tell you is literally true. Yesterday week George Dyer called upon us at one o'clock (bright noonday ) on his way to dine with Mrs. Barbauld at Newington. He sat with Mary about half-an-hour, and took leave. The maid saw him go out, from her kitchen window, but suddenly losing sight of him, ran up in a fright to Mary. G. D., instead of keeping the slip that leads to the gate, had deliberately, staff in hand, in broad open day, marched into the New River. He had not his spectacles on, and you know his absence. Who helped him out they can hardly tell, but between 'em they got him out, drenched through and through. A mob collected by that time, and accompanied him in. ‘Send for the Doctor,' they said: and a one-eyed fellow, dirty and drunk, was fetched from the public-house at the end, where it seems he lurks for the sake of picking up water practice; having formerly had a medal from the Humane Society for some rescue. By his advice the patient was put between blankets; and when I came home at four to dinner, I found G. D. abed and raving, light-headed with the brandy and water which the doctor had administered. He sang, laughed, whimpered, screamed, babbled of guardian angels, would get up and go home; but we kept him there by force; and by next morning he departed sober, and seems to have received no injury.”

Before he left Islington the India Company bestowed upon Lamb the pension that at last emancipated him from his “dry drudgery at the desk's dead wood,” and he communicates the great news exultantly to Wordsworth in a letter dated “Colebrook Cottage,” 6th April 1825: “Here I am, then, after thirty-three years' slavery, sitting in my own room at eleven o'clock this finest of all April mornings, a freed man, with £441 a year for the remainder of my life, live I as long as John Dennis, who outlived his annuity and starved at ninety: £441, i.e. £450, with a deduction of £9 for a provision secured to my sister, she being survivor, the pension guaranteed by Act Georgii Tertii, &c. I came home for ever  on Tuesday in last week. The incomprehensibleness of my condition overwhelmed me. It was like passing from life into eternity. Every year to be as long as three, i.e. to have three times as much real time (time that is my own) in it! I wandered about thinking I was happy, but feeling I was not. But the tumultuousness is passing off, and I begin to understand the nature of the gift. Holydays, even the annual month, were always uneasy joys; their conscious fugitiveness; the craving after making the most of them. Now, when all is holyday, there are no holydays. I can sit at home in rain or shine without a restless impulse for walkings. I am daily steadying, and shall soon find it as natural to me to be my own master as it has been irksome to have had a master. Mary wakes every morning with an obscure feeling that some good has happened to us.”

He made use of these experiences in one of the best of his essays, that on The Superannuated Man, in which also you find echoes of a letter he wrote to Bernard Barton just after he had written to Wordsworth:

“I am free, B. B.—free as air.

‘The little bird that wings the sky
Knows no such liberty!'

“I was set free on Tuesday in last week at four o'clock.

‘I came home for ever!'

“I have been describing my feelings as well as I can to Wordsworth in a long letter and don't care to repeat. Take it briefly that for a few days I was painfully oppressed by so mighty a change, but it is becoming daily more natural to me. I went and sat among 'em all at my old thirty-three years' desk yester morning; and deuce take me if I had not yearnings at leaving all my old pen-and-ink fellows, merry, sociable lads, at leaving them in the lurch, fag, fag, fag! The comparison of my own superior felicity gave me anything but pleasure. B. B. I would not serve another seven years for seven hundred thousand pounds.”

From Islington Lamb journeyed over to Highgate every now and then to visit Coleridge at Mr. Gilman's; and a-visiting him at Colebrooke Cottage came Coleridge, Southey, William Hone, and among many another, Hood, to whom he took an especial liking. Coleridge thought he was the author of certain Odes that were then appearing in the London Magazine, but writing in reply Lamb assured him he was mistaken: “The Odes are four-fifths done by Hood, a silentish young man you met at Islington one day, an invalid. The rest are Reynolds's, whose sister H. has recently married.”

During the two years or more after his release from the India House, Lamb and his sister spent two or three short holidays lodging with a Mrs. Leishman at The Chase, Enfield; in 1827 they rented the house of her, and Lamb wrote from that address on the 18th September to Hood, who was then living at 2 Robert Street, Adelphi: “Give our kind loves to all at Highgate, and tell them we have finally torn ourselves outright away from Colebrooke, where I had no  health, and are about to domicilate for good at Enfield, where I have experienced good.

‘Lord, what good hours do we keep!
How quietly we sleep!'...

We have got our books into our new house. I am a dray-horse if I was not ashamed of the undigested dirty lumber, as I toppled 'em out of the cart, and blest Becky that came with 'em for her having an unstuffed brain with such rubbish.... 'Twas with some pain we were evulsed from Colebrook. You may find some of our flesh sticking to the doorposts. To change habitations is to die to them; and in my time I have died seven deaths. But I don't know whether every such change does not bring with it a rejuvenescence. 'Tis an enterprise; and shoves back the sense of death's approximating which, though not terrible to me, is at all times particularly distasteful. My house-deaths have generally been periodical, recurring after seven years; but this last is premature by half that time. Cut off in the flower of Colebrook!” He mentions that the rent is 10s. less than he paid at Islington; that he pays, in fact, £35 a year, exclusive of moderate taxes, and thinks himself lucky.

But the worry of moving brought on one of Mary Lamb's “sad, long illnesses”; and whilst she was absent, Lamb fled from the loneliness of his country home to spend ten days in town. “But Town,” he writes to Barton, “with all my native hankering after it, is not what it was. The streets, the shops are left, but all old friends are gone. And in London I was frightfully convinced of this as I past houses and places—empty caskets now. I have ceased to care almost about anybody. The bodies I cared for are in graves or dispersed. My old Clubs, that lived so long and flourished so steadily, are crumbled away. When I took leave of our adopted young friend at Charing Cross, 'twas heavy unfeeling rain and I had nowhere to go. Home have I none—and not a sympathising house to turn to in the great city. Never did the waters of the heaven pour down on a forlorner head. Yet I tried ten days at a sort of friend's house, but it was large and straggling—one of the individuals of my long knot of friends, card-players, pleasant companions—that have tumbled to pieces into dust and other things—and I got home on Thursday convinced that I was better to get home to my hole at Enfield, and hide like a sick cat in my corner. Less than a month, I hope, will bring home Mary. She is at Fulham, looking better in her health than ever, but sadly rambling, and scarce showing any pleasure in seeing me, or curiosity when I should come again. But the old feelings will come back again, and we shall drown old sorrows over a game of Picquet again. But 'tis a tedious cut out of a life of sixty-four, to lose twelve or thirteen weeks every year or two.”

 

CHARLES LAMB

 

The cares of housekeeping, however, sat too heavily on them, and in October 1829 they abandoned those responsibilities, gave up their cottage on Chase Side, and went to lodge and board with their next-door neighbours, an old Mr. and Mrs. Westwood, and in this easier way of living their spirits and their health revived. Nevertheless, by January 1830 Lamb had lost all his contentment with rural life, and was yearning desperately for the remembered joys of London. “And is it a year since we parted from you at the steps of Edmonton stage?” he writes to Wordsworth. “There are not now the years that there used to be.” He frets, he says, like a lion in a net, and then goes on to utter that yearning to be back in London that I have quoted already in my opening chapter. “Back-looking ambition,” he continues, “tells me I might still be a Londoner! Well, if we ever do move, we have incumbrances the less to impede us; all our furniture has faded under the auctioneer's hammer, going for nothing, like the tarnished frippery of the prodigal, and we have only a spoon or two left to bless us. Clothed we came into Enfield, and naked we must go out of it. I would live in London shirtless, bookless.” And to Bernard Barton he says, “With fire and candle-light I can dream myself in Holborn.... Give me old London at Fire and Plague times, rather than these tepid gales, healthy country air, and purposeless exercise.”

Early in 1833 he removed from Enfield, and his reasons for doing so he explains in a letter to Mrs. Hazlitt, on the 31st May of that year: “I am driven from house to house by Mary's illness. I took a sudden resolution to take my sister to Edmonton, where she was under medical treatment last time, and have arranged to board and lodge with the people. Thank God I have repudiated Enfield. I have got out of hell, despair of heaven, and must sit down contented in a half-way purgatory. Thus ends this strange eventful history. But I am nearer to town, and will get up to you somehow before long.” About the same date he wrote to Wordsworth: “Mary is ill again. Her illnesses encroach yearly. The last was three months, followed by two of depression most dreadful. I look back upon her earlier attacks with longing—nice little durations of six weeks or so, followed by complete restoration—shocking as they were to me then. In short, half her life she is dead to me, and the other half is made anxious with fears and lookings forward to the next shock. With such prospects it seemed to me necessary that she should no longer live with me, and be fluttered with continual removals; so I am come to live with her, at a Mr. Walden's, and his wife, who take in patients, and have arranged to lodge and board us only. They have had the care of her before. I see little of her: alas! I too often hear her. Sunt lachrymæ rerum! and you and I must bear it.... I am about to lose my old and only walk-companion, whose mirthful spirits were the ‘youth of our house,' Emma Isola. I have her here now for a little while, but she is too nervous properly to be under such a roof, so she will make short visits—be no more an inmate. With my perfect approval and more than concurrence she is to be wedded to Moxon at the end of August—so ‘perish the roses and the flowers'—how is it? Now to the brighter side. I am emancipated from the Westwoods, and I am with attentive people and younger. I am three or four miles nearer the great city; coaches half-price less and going always, of which I will avail myself. I have few friends left there; one or two though, most beloved. But London streets and faces cheer me inexpressibly, though not one known of the latter were remaining.”

Emma Isola is “the adopted young friend” referred to by Lamb in a letter quoted a few pages back. She was the granddaughter of an Italian refugee; her mother was dead; her father was an “Esquire Bedell” of Cambridge, and the Lambs met her at the house of a friend when they were visiting that town in 1823. She was a charming, brown-faced little girl, and they were so taken with her that she was invited to visit them in London during her holidays, and they ended by adopting her and calling her their niece. She brought a great deal of happiness into their lives; Lamb gives whimsical accounts in some of his letters of how he is teaching her Latin, and his sister is prompting her in her French lessons. When she was old enough she became governess in the family of a Mr. and Mrs. Williams at Bury; fell ill and was kindly nursed there; and Lamb tells in one of his most delightful letters how he went to fetch her home to Enfield, when she was convalescent, and it is good to glimpse how sympathetically amused he is at Emma's covert admonitions and anxiety lest he should drink too much, at dinner with the Williamses, and so bring disgrace upon himself and her.

His beautiful affection for their young ward shines through all the drollery of his several notes to Edward Moxon (the publisher) in which he speaks of their engagement; and it has always seemed to me it is this same underlying affection for her and wistfulness to see her happy that help to make the following letter, written just after the wedding, one of the finest and most pathetic things in literature:—

August 1833.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Moxon,—Time very short. I wrote to Miss Fryer, and had the sweetest letter about you, Emma, that ever friendship dictated. ‘I am full of good wishes, I am crying with good wishes,' she says; but you shall see it.

“Dear Moxon, I take your writing most kindly, and shall most kindly your writing from Paris. I want to crowd another letter to Miss Fryer into the little time after dinner, before post time. So with twenty thousand congratulations,—Yours,

C. L.

“I am calm, sober, happy. Turn over for the reason. I got home from Dover Street, by Evans, half as sober as a judge. I am turning over a new leaf, as I hope you will now.”

 

LAMB'S COTTAGE. EDMONTON.

 

[The turn of the leaf presents the following :—]

My dear Emma and Edward Moxon,—Accept my sincere congratulations, and imagine more good wishes than my weak nerves will let me put into good set words. The dreary blank of unanswered questions  which I ventured to ask in vain was cleared up on the wedding day by Mrs. W. taking a glass of wine and, with a total change of countenance, begging leave to drink Mr. and Mrs. Moxon's health. It restored me from that moment, as if by an electrical stroke, to the entire possession of my senses. I never felt so calm and quiet after a similar illness as I do now. I feel as if all tears were wiped from my eyes, and all care from my heart.

Mary Lamb.

 

Wednesday.

Dears again,—Your letter interrupted a seventh game at picquet which we  were having, after walking to Wright's and purchasing shoes. We pass our time in cards, walks, and reading. We attack Tasso soon.

“C. L.

“Never was such a calm, or such a recovery. 'Tis her own words undictated.”

And it was in this plain, commonplace little cottage in Church Street, Edmonton, that Mary Lamb was thus suddenly awakened out of her derangement; that Charles Lamb and she wrote, by turns, that letter to the Moxons; that the Lambs sat contentedly playing picquet when the letter of the bride and bridegroom came to them from Paris. These are the very rooms in which these things happened; the stage remains, but the actors are departed. Within a stone's throw of the house, in Edmonton Churchyard, Lamb and his sister lie buried. His death was the result of an accident. He had gone on his accustomed walk along the London Road, one day in December, when he stumbled and fell over a stone, slightly injuring his face. So trivial did the wound seem that writing to George Dyer's wife on the 22nd December 1834, about a book he had lost when he was in London—“it was the book I went to fetch from Miss Buffham's while the tripe was frying”—he says nothing of anything being the matter with him. But erysipelas supervened, and he grew rapidly worse, and died on the 27th. His sister, who had lapsed into one of her illnesses and was unconscious, at the time, of her loss, outlived him by nearly thirteen years, and reached the great age of eighty-two.

The Inns of Old London

By Philip Norman, LL.D.

o write a detailed account of London inns and houses of entertainment generally would require not a few pages, but several volumes. The inns, first established to supply the modest wants of an unsophisticated age, came by degrees to fulfil the functions of our modern hotels, railway stations, and parcel offices; they were places of meeting for business and social entertainment—in short, they formed a necessary part of the life of all Londoners, and of all who resorted to London, except the highest and the lowest. The taverns, successors of mediæval cook-shops, were frequented by most of the leading spirits of each generation from Elizabethan times to the early part of the nineteenth century, and their place has now been taken by clubs and restaurants. About these a mass of information is available, also on coffee-houses, a development of the taverns, in which, for the most part, they were gradually merged. As to the various forms of public-house, their whimsical signs alone have amused literary men, and perhaps their readers, from the time of The Spectator  until now. In this chapter I propose to confine my remarks to the inns "for receipt of travellers," so often referred to by John Stow in his Survey of London, which, largely established in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, continued on the same sites, mostly until years after the advent of railways had caused a social revolution. These inns, with rare exceptions, had a galleried courtyard, a plan of building also common on the Continent, which came perhaps originally from the East. In such courtyards, as we shall see, during Tudor times theatrical performances often took place, and in form they probably gave a hint to the later theatres.

Before the fifteenth century it was usual for travellers to seek the hospitality of religious houses, the great people being lodged in rooms set apart for them, while the poorer sort found shelter in the guest-house. But as time went on this proved inadequate, and inns on a commercial basis came into existence, being frequented by those who could hardly demand special consideration from the religious houses, and were not fitting recipients of charity. Naturally enough, these inns, when once their usefulness became recognised, were soon to be found in the main thoroughfares leading out of the metropolis, and they were particularly plentiful in Southwark on each side of what we now call the Borough High Street, extending for a quarter of a mile or more from London Bridge along the main road to the south-eastern counties and the Continent. The first thus established, and one of the earliest in this country, had to some extent a religious origin—namely, the

"Gentle hostelrye That hight the Tabard, fasté by the Belle,"

about which and about the Southwark inns generally I propose now to say a few words, for although well known, they are of such extreme interest that they demand a foremost place in an account of this kind. From the literary point of view the "Tabard" is immortalized, owing to the fact that Chaucer has selected it as the starting-point of his pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales. Historically, it may be mentioned that as early as the year 1304 the Abbot and Convent of Hyde, near Winchester, purchased in Southwark two tenements, on the sites of which he built for himself a town dwelling, and at the same time, it is believed, a hostelry for the convenience of travellers. In 1307 he obtained license to build a chapel at or by the inn, and in a later deed we are told that "the abbott's lodginge was wyninge to the backside of the Tabarde and had a garden attached." From that time onwards frequent allusions can be found to this house, the sign of which (a sleeveless coat, such as that worn by heralds) got somehow corrupted into the Talbot, a species of dog, by which it was known for a couple of centuries or more, almost to the time of its final destruction. Although the contrary has been asserted, the inn was undoubtedly burnt in the Great Southwark Fire of 1676, but was rebuilt soon afterwards in the old fashion, and continued to be a picturesque example of architecture until 1875, when the whole was swept away, hop merchants' offices and a modern "old Tabard" now occupying the site.

Equal in interest to the last-named inn was the "White Hart." At the one Chaucer gave life and reality to a fancied scene; at the other occurred an historical event, the bald facts of which Shakespeare has lighted up with a halo of romance. The White Hart appears to have dated from the latter part of the fourteenth century, the sign being a badge of Richard II., derived from his mother, Joan of Kent. In the summer of 1450 it was Jack Cade's headquarters while he was striving to gain possession of London. Hall, in his Chronicle, records this, and adds that he prohibited "murder, rape and robbery by which colour he allured to him the hartes of the common people." It was here, nevertheless, that "one Hawaydyne of sent Martyns was beheaded," and here, during the outbreak, a servant of Sir John Fastolf, who had property in the neighbourhood, was with difficulty saved from assassination. His chattels were pillaged, his wife left with "no more gode but her kyrtyll and her smook," and he thrust into the forefront of a fight then raging on London Bridge, where he was "woundyd and hurt nere hand to death." Cade's success was of short duration; his followers wavered, he said, or might have said, in the words attributed to him by Shakespeare (2 Henry VI., act iv., scene 8), "Hath my sword therefore broken through London gate that you should leave me at the White Hart in Southwark?" The rebellion collapsed, and our inn is not heard of for some generations. Want of space prevents our recording the various vicissitudes through which it passed, and the historic names connected with it, until the time of the Southwark Fire of 1676, when, like the "Tabard," it was burnt down, but rebuilt on the old foundations. In 1720 Strype describes it as large and of considerable trade, and it so continued until the time when Dickens, who was intimately acquainted with the neighbourhood, gave his graphic description of Sam Weller at the White Hart in the tenth chapter of Pickwick. In 1865-66 the south side of the building was replaced by a modern tavern, but the old galleries on the north and east sides remained until 1889, being latterly let out in tenements.

There were several other galleried inns in Southwark, dating at least from the time of Queen Elizabeth, which survived until the nineteenth century, but we only have space briefly to allude to three. The "King's Head" and the "Queen's Head" was each famous in its way. The former had been originally the "Pope's Head," the sign being changed at the Reformation. In 1534 the Abbot of Waverley, whose town house was not far off, writes, apparently on business, that he will be at the "Pope's Head" in Southwark—eight years afterwards it appears as the "King's Head." In a deed belonging to Mr. G. Eliot Hodgkin, F.S.A., the two names are given. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the house belonged to various noteworthy people; among the rest, to Thomas Cure, a local benefactor, and to Humble, Lord Ward. It was burnt in the Great Southwark Fire, and the last fragment of the galleried building, erected immediately afterwards, was pulled down in January, 1885.

The "Queen's Head" was the only one of the Southwark houses we are describing that escaped the Fire of 1676, perhaps owing to the fact that, by way of precaution, a tenement was blown up at the gateway. It stood on the site of a house called the "Crowned or Cross Keys," which in 1529 was an armoury or store-place for the King's harness. In 1558 it had a brew-house attached to it, and had lately been rebuilt. In 1634 the house had become the "Queen's Head," and the owner was John Harvard, of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, who afterwards migrated to America, and gave his name to Harvard University, Massachusetts. About this time it was frequented by carriers, as we learn from John Taylor, "the water-poet." The main building, destroyed in 1895, was found to be of half-timbered construction, dating perhaps from the sixteenth century. A galleried portion, also of considerable age, survived until the year 1900.

Of another Southwark inn, the "George," we can fortunately speak in the present tense. It seems to have come into existence in the early part of the sixteenth century, and is mentioned with the sign of "St. George" in 1554:—

"St. George that swindg'd the Dragon, and e'er since Sits on his horseback at mine hostess' door."

The owner in 1558 was Humfrey Colet, or Collet, who had been Member of Parliament for Southwark. Soon after the middle of the seventeenth century, in a book called Musarum Deliciæ, or the Muses' Recreation, compiled by Sir John Mennes (Admiral and Chief Comptroller of the Navy) and Dr. James Smith, appeared some lines, "upon a surfeit caught by drinking bad sack at 'the George' in Southwark." Perhaps the landlord mended his ways; in any case, the rent was shortly afterwards £150 a year—a large sum for those days. The "George" was a great coaching and carriers' inn. Only a fragment of it, but a picturesque one, now exists; it is still galleried, and dates from shortly after the Southwark Fire of 1676. The rest of the building was pulled down in 1889-90. All the inns to which allusion has been made were clustered together on the east side of the Borough High Street, the gateways of those most distant from each other being only about 140 yards apart.

Another leading thoroughfare from London to the east was the road through Aldgate to Whitechapel. Here, though the houses of entertainment were historically far less interesting than those of Southwark, they flourished for many years. Where a modern hotel with the same sign now stands, next to the Metropolitan railway station on the north side of Aldgate High Street, there was once a well-known inn, the "Three Nuns," so called, perhaps, from the contiguity of the nuns of St. Clare, or sorores minores, who gave a name to the Minories. The "Three Nuns" inn is mentioned by Defoe in his Journal of the Plague, which, though it describes events that happened when he was little more than an infant, has an air of authenticity suggesting personal experience. We are told by him that near this inn was the "dreadful gulf—for such it was rather than a pit"—in which, during the Plague of 1665, not less than 1,114 bodies were buried in a fortnight, from the 6th to the 20th of September. Throughout the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth centuries this house was much frequented by coaches and carriers. The late Mr. Edwin Edwards, who etched it in 1871, was told by the landlord that a four-horse coach was then running from there to Southend during the summer months. A painting of the holy nuns still appeared on the sign-board. The house was rebuilt soon after the formation of the Metropolitan Railway. A short distance west of the "Three Nuns," at 31, Aldgate High Street, the premises of Messrs. Adkin and Sons, wholesale tobacconists, occupy the site of the old "Blue Boar" coaching inn, which they replaced in 1861. The sculptured sign of the "Blue Boar," let into the wall in front, was put up at the time of the rebuilding. The former inn, described on a drawing in the Crace collection as the oldest in London, is held by some to be the same as that referred to in an order of the Privy Council to the Lord Mayor, dated from St. James's, September 5th, 1557, wherein he is told to "apprehende and to comitt to safe warde" certain actors who are about to perform in "a lewde Playe called a Sacke full of Newse" at the "Boar's Head" without Aldgate.

A few years ago, at No. 25, the entrance might still be seen of another famous inn called the "Bull," formerly the "Black Bull." Above the gateway was a fine piece of ironwork, and the old painted sign was against the wall of the passage. This house flourished greatly a little before the advent of railways, when Mrs. Anne Nelson, coach proprietor, was the landlady, and could make up nearly two hundred beds there. Most of her business was to Essex and Suffolk, but she also owned the Exeter coach. She must have been landlady on the memorable occasion when Mr. Pickwick arrived in a cab after "two mile o' danger at eightpence," and it was through this very gateway that he and his companions were driven by the elder Weller when they started on their adventurous journey to Ipswich. The house is now wholly destroyed and the yard built over.

A common sign in former days was the "Saracen's Head." We shall have occasion to refer to several in London. One of them stood by Aldgate, just within the limits of the city. Here a block of old buildings is in existence on the south side, which once formed the front of a well-known coaching inn, with this sign. The spacious inn yard remains, the house on the east side of its entrance having fine pilasters. From the "Saracen's Head," Aldgate, coaches plied to Norwich as long ago as 1681, and here there is, or was quite recently, a carrier's booking office.

Another thoroughfare which, within the memory of some who hardly admit that they are past middle age, contained several famous inns, was that leading to the north, and known in its various parts as Gracechurch Street and Bishopsgate Street Within and Without. One of the best known was the "Cross Keys" in Bishopsgate Street, mentioned in the preface to Dodsley's Old Plays  as a house at which theatrical performances took place. It was here that, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, Bankes exhibited the extraordinary feats of his horse Marocco. One of them, if we may believe an old jest-book, was to select and draw forth Tarlton with its mouth as "the veriest fool in the company." In more modern times, until the advent of railways, the "Cross Keys" was a noted coaching and carriers' establishment. Destroyed in the Great Fire, and again burnt down in 1734, but rebuilt in the old style, it was still standing on the west side of the street, immediately south of Bell Yard, when Larwood and Hotten published their History of Signboards  in 1866. Another inn with this sign stood appropriately near the site of St. Peter's Church in Wood Street, Cheapside, and was pulled down probably about the same time as the more famous house in Gracechurch Street.

Of equal note was the "Spread Eagle," the site of which has mostly been absorbed by the extension of Leadenhall Market. Like the "Cross Keys," it was burnt in the Great Fire, but rebuilt in the old style with an ample galleried yard. In the basement some mediæval arches still remained. At the "Spread Eagle" that original writer George Borrow had been staying with his future wife, Mrs. Mary Clarke, and various friends, when they were married at St. Peter's Church, Cornhill, on April 23rd, 1840, her daughter, Henrietta, signing the register. Before its destruction in 1865 it had been for some time a receiving office of Messrs. Chaplin and Horne. The site, of about 1,200 square feet, was sold for no less a sum than £95,000. Another Gracechurch inn, the "Tabard," which long ago disappeared, had, like the immortal hostelry in Southwark, become the "Talbot," and its site is marked by Talbot Court.

In Bishopsgate Street Within three galleried inns lingered long enough to have been often seen by the writer. These were the "Bull," the "Green Dragon," and the "Four Swans," each with something of a history, and to them might be added the picturesque, though less important, "Vine" and the "Flower Pot," from which last house a seventeenth century trade token was issued. The "Bull," the most southern of these inns, all of which were on the west side of the highway, was at least as old as the latter part of the fifteenth century, for in one of the chronicles of London lately edited by Mr. C. L. Kingsford, I find it, under the date 1498, associated with a painful incident—namely, the execution of the son of a cordwainer, "dwellyng at the Bulle in Bisshoppesgate Strete," for calling himself the Earl of Warwick. Hall gives his name as Ralph Wilford. Anthony Bacon, elder brother of Francis, during the year 1594 hired a lodging in Bishopsgate Street, but the fact of its being near the "Bull," where plays and interludes were performed, so troubled his mother that for her sake he removed to Chelsea. Shortly afterwards, as may be learnt from Tarlton's Jests, the old drama called "The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth" was here played, "wherein the judge was to take a boxe on the eare, and because he was absent that should take the blow, Tarlton himselfe, ever forward to please, tooke upon him to play the judge, besides his own part of the clown." The "Bull" was the house of call of old Hobson, the carrier, to whose rigid rule about the letting of his saddle horses we are supposed to owe the phrase, "Hobson's Choice." Milton wrote his epitaph in the well-known lines beginning:—

"Here lies old Hobson; Death hath broke his girt,And here, alas! hath laid him in the dirt."

In his second edition of Milton's Poems, p. 319, Wharton alludes to Hobson's "portrait in fresco" as having then lately been in existence at the inn, and it is mentioned in The Spectator, No. 509. There is a print of it representing a bearded old man in hat and cloak with a money bag, which in the original painting had the inscription, "The fruitful mother of an hundred more." He bequeathed property for a conduit to supply Cambridge with water; the conduit head still exists, though not in its original position. In 1649, by a Council of War, six Puritan troopers were condemned to death for a mutiny at the "Bull." The house remained till 1866.

Further north, at No. 86, was the "Green Dragon," the last of the galleried inns that survived in Bishopsgate Street. It is mentioned in De Laune's Present State of London, 1681, as a place of resort for coachmen and carriers, and I have before me an advertisement sheet of the early nineteenth century, showing that coaches were then plying from here to Norwich, Yarmouth, Cambridge, Colchester, Ware, Hertford, Brighton, and many other places. There is a capital etching of the house by Edwin Edwards. It was closed in 1877, its site being soon afterwards built over. At the sale of the effects eleven bottles of port wine fetched 37s. 6d. each. The "Four Swans," immediately to the north of the inn last named, although it did not survive so long, remained to the end a more complete specimen of its class, having three tiers of galleries perfect on each side, and two tiers at the west end. The "water-poet" tells us that in 1637 "a waggon or coach" came here once a week from Hertford. Other references to it might be quoted from books of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but the story told on an advertisement sheet issued by a former landlord about a fight here between Roundheads, led by Ireton, and a troop of Royalists, is apocryphal.

Not far off, in Bishopsgate Street Without, there was until lately a "Two Swan" inn yard, and a "OneSwan" with a large yard—an old place of call for carriers and waggons. These lingered on until the general clearance by the Great Eastern Railway Company a few years ago, when the remains of Sir Paul Pindar's mansion, latterly a tavern, were also removed; the finely-carved timber front and a stuccoed ceiling finding their way into the Victoria and Albert Museum. Another old Bishopsgate house was the "White Hart," near St. Botolph's Church, a picturesque building with projecting storeys, and in front the date 1480, but the actual structure was probably much less ancient. It was drawn by J. T. Smith and others early in the nineteenth century, and did not long survive. The site is still marked by White Hart Court. On the opposite side of the way was an inn, the "Dolphin," which, as Stow tells us, was given in 1513 by Margaret Ricroft, widow, with a charge in favour of the Grey Friars. It disappeared in the first half of the eighteenth century. The old "Catherine Wheel," a galleried inn hard by, mentioned by De Laune in 1681, was not entirely destroyed till 1894.

Another road out of London richly furnished with inns was that from Newgate westward. The first one came to was the "Saracen's Head" on Snow Hill, an important house, to which the late Mr. Heckethorn assigned a very early origin. Whether or not it existed in the fourteenth century, as he asserts, it was certainly flourishing when Stow in his Survey  described it as "a fair and large inn for receipt of travellers." It continued for centuries to be largely used, and here Nicholas Nickleby and his uncle waited on Squeers, the Yorkshire schoolmaster, whom Dickens must have modelled from various real personages. In a Times  advertisement for January 3rd, 1801, I read that "at Mr. Simpson's Academy, Wodencroft Lodge, near Greta Bridge, Yorkshire, young gentlemen are boarded and accurately instructed in the English, Latin, and Greek languages, writing, arithmetic, merchants' accounts, and the most useful branches of the mathematics, at 16 guineas per annum, if under nine years of age, and above that age 17 guineas; French taught by a native of France at 1 guinea extra. Mr. Simpson is now in town, and may be treated with from eleven till two o'clock every day at the 'Saracen's Head,' Snow Hill." In the early part of last century the landlady was Sarah Ann Mountain, coach proprietor, and worthy rival of Mrs. Nelson, of the "Bull" Inn, Aldgate. The "Saracen's Head" disappeared in the early part of 1868, when this neighbourhood was entirely changed by the formation of the Holborn Viaduct. Another Snow Hill inn was the "George," or "George and Dragon," mentioned by Strype as very large and of considerable trade. A sculptured sign from there is in the Guildhall Museum.

In Holborn there were once nine or ten galleried inns. We will only allude to those still in existence within the memory of the writer. The most famous of them, perhaps, was the "George and Blue Boar," originally the "Blue Boar," the site of which is covered by the Inns of Court Hotel. The house is named in the burial register of St. Andrew's, Holborn, as early as 1616, but it is chiefly known from a story related by the Rev. Thomas Morrice, in his Memoir of Roger Earl of Orrery  (1742), that Cromwell and Ireton, in the disguise of troopers, here intercepted a letter sewn in the flap of a saddle from Charles I. to his Queen, in which he wrote that he was being courted by the Scotch Presbyterians and the army, and that he thought of closing with the former. Cromwell is supposed to have said, "From that time forward we resolved on his ruin." The writer ventured to ask that excellent historian, Dr. Samuel Gardiner, what he thought of the statement. In August, 1890, he most kindly replied by letter as follows:—"The tale has generally been repudiated without enquiry, and I am rather inclined to believe, at least, in its substantial accuracy. The curious thing is, that there are two lines of tradition about intercepted letters, as it seems to me quite distinct." We may, therefore, without being over credulous, cherish the belief that the picturesque incident referred to was one that actually occurred. There is an advertisement of December 27th, 1779, offering the lease of the "George and Blue Boar," which helps us to realize the value and capacity of an important inn of that period. We are told that it contains forty bedrooms, stabling for fifty-two horses, seven coach-houses, and a dry ride sixty yards long; also that it returns about £2,000 a year. In George Colman the younger's "Heir at Law," act i., scene 2, this house is said by one of the characters to be "in tumble downish kind of a condition," but it survived until 1864, when it made way for the Inns of Court Hotel.

A group of inns which remained more recently were Ridler's "Bell and Crown," the old "Bell," and the "Black Bull," all on the north side of Holborn. Of these, the most picturesque was the "Bell," about which I have been able to ascertain some curious facts. The earliest notice of it that has come to light was on the 14th of March, 1538, when William Barde sold a messuage with garden called the "Bell," in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn, to Richard Hunt, citizen and girdler. The latter, who died in 1569, gave thirty sacks of charcoal yearly for ever, as a charge on the property, to be distributed to thirty poor persons of the parish. After various changes of ownership, in 1679-80 it passed into the hands of Ralph Gregge, and his grandson sold it in 1722 to Christ's Hospital. In the deed of sale three houses are mentioned and described as "formerly one great mansion-house or inn known as the Bell or Blue Bell." About two years before, the front of the premises facing Holborn had been rebuilt, when the sculptured arms of Gregge were let into the wall in front; these arms are now at the Guildhall Museum. The "Bell" became a coaching house of considerable reputation, that part of the business being about the year 1836 in the hands of Messrs. B. W. and H. Horne, who, as coach proprietors, were second only to William Chaplin. For many years, until finally closed in September, 1897, the house was managed by the Bunyer family. It was the last galleried inn on the Middlesex side of the water, the galleries being perhaps as old as the reign of Charles II. A still older portion was a cellar built of stone immediately to the left of the entrance, which might almost have been mediæval. The rest of the building seems to have dated from the early part of the eighteenth century. There is a sympathetic reference to the old "Bell" by William Black in his Strange Adventures of a Phæton. Another noteworthy "Bell" Inn was that in Carter Lane, whence Richard Quyney wrote in 1598 to his "loveing good ffrend and contreyman Mr. Willm Shackespere," the only letter addressed to our greatest poet which is known to exist. There is still a Bell yard connecting Carter Lane with Knightrider Street. The first scene of the Harlot's Progress, by Hogarth, is laid in front of an inn, with the sign of the "Bell" in Wood Street. Above the door are chequers.

A short distance west of the Holborn house was the "Crown" Inn, latterly Ridler's "Bell and Crown," destroyed about 1899. It had been a coaching centre, but years ago the yard was built over, and it flourished to the end as a quiet family hotel. Next to the "Bell" on the east side was the "Black Bull," the front of which, with the carved sign of a bull in a violent state of excitement, remained after the rest of the inn had disappeared, outliving its neighbour for a brief period. It was in existence for a couple of hundred years or more, but future generations will probably only remember it as the house where Mr. Lewson was taken ill, and placed under the tender mercies of Betsy Prig and Mrs. Gamp; whence also, when convalescent, he was assisted into a coach, Mould the undertaker eyeing him with regret as he felt himself baulked of a piece of legitimate business.

A few short years ago if, on leaving this group of Holborn inns, we had turned down Fetter Lane in the direction of Fleet Street, after passing two or three gabled buildings still standing on the right hand side, we should have come to another old hostelry called the "White Horse," of which there is a well-known coloured print from a drawing made by Pollard in 1814, with a coach in front called the Cambridge Telegraph. It gradually fell into decay, became partly a "pub" and partly a common lodging-house, and with its roomy stabling at the back was swept away in 1897-98. Most of the structure was of the eighteenth century, but there were remains of an earlier wooden building. Its northern boundary touched the precinct of Barnard's Inn, an inn of chancery, now disestablished and adapted for the purposes of the Mercers' School.

Continuing our course southward, a short walk would formerly have taken us to the "Bolt-in-Tun," I think the only coaching establishment in Fleet Street, which possessed so many taverns and coffee-houses. The inn was of ancient origin, the White Friars having had a grant of the "Hospitium vocatum Le Bolt en ton" as early as the year 1443. The sign is the well-known rebus on the name of Bolton, the bird-bolt through a tun or barrel, which was the device of a prior of St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield, and may still be seen in the church there, and at Canonbury, where the priors had a country house. The City Press  for September 12th, 1882, announces the then impending destruction of the "Bolt-in-Tun," and in the following year we are told that although a remnant of it in Fleet Street exists as a booking office for parcels, by far the larger portion, represented chiefly by the Sussex Hotel, Bouverie Street, which bore on it the date 1692, has just disappeared.

Further east, on Ludgate Hill, La Belle Sauvage Yard, where Messrs. Cassell & Co. carry on their important business, marks the site of an historic house, and perpetuates an error of nomenclature. Its original title, as proved by a document of the year 1452, was "Savage's" Inn, otherwise called the "Bell on the Hoop," but in the seventeenth century a trade token was issued from here, having on it an Indian woman holding a bow and arrow, and in 1676 "Bell Sauvage" Inn, on Ludgate Hill, consisting of about forty rooms, with good cellarage and stabling for about one hundred horses, was to be let. The mistake is repeated in The Spectator, No. 28, where we are told of a beautiful girl who was found in the wilderness, and whose fame was perpetuated in a French romance. As we learn from Howe, in his continuation of Stow's Annals, on a seat outside this inn Sir Thomas Wyat rested, after failing in an attempt to enter the city during his ill-advised rebellion in the reign of Mary Tudor. From Lambarde we gather that this was one of the houses where plays were performed before the time of Shakespeare. Writing in 1576, he says, "Those who go to Paris Garden, the Bell Savage, or the Theatre to behold bear-baiting, interludes, or fence play, must not account of any pleasant spectacle unless first they pay one pennie at the gate, another at the entrie of the scaffold, and a third for quiet standing." Here, as at the "Cross Keys," Gracechurch Street, Bankes exhibited his horse, and here, in 1683, "a very strange beast called a Rhynoceros—the first that ever was in England," could be seen daily. Stow affirms the inn to have been given to the Cutlers' Company by Isabella Savage; but, in fact, the donor was John Craythorne, who conveyed the reversion of it to them in 1568. The sculptured elephant and castle representing their crest is still on a wall in La Belle Sauvage Yard. The inn, which has left its mark in the annals of coaching, was taken down in 1873.

A thoroughfare, formerly containing several fine mansions and various inns for travellers, was Aldersgate Street, the continuation of St. Martin's-le-Grand. There are allusions in print to the "Bell," the "George" (previously the "White Hart"), and to the "Cock" Inn, where, after years of wandering, Fynes Moryson arrived one Sunday morning in 1595; but these all passed away long ago. The last to linger in the neighbourhood was the "Bull and Mouth," St Martin's-le-Grand, finally called the "Queen's" Hotel, absorbed by the General Post Office in 1886. The name is generally supposed to be a corruption of Boulogne Mouth, the entrance to Boulogne Harbour, that town having been taken by Henry VIII. George Steevens, the Shakespearean commentator, seems to have suggested this, and his idea has been generally accepted; but it is more likely that our inn was identical with the house called in 1657 "the Mouth near Aldersgate in London, then the usual meeting-place for Quakers," to which the Body of John Lilburne was conveyed in August of that year. We learn from Ellwood's Autobiography that five years afterwards he was arrested at the "Bull and Mouth," Aldersgate. The house was at its zenith as a coaching centre in the early years of the nineteenth century, when Edward Sherman had become landlord. He rebuilt the old galleried house in 1830. When coaching for business purposes ceased to be, the gateway from St. Martin's-le-Grand was partially blocked up and converted into the main entrance, the inn continuing under its changed name for many years. The sculptured signs were not removed until the destruction of the building. One, which was over the main entrance, is a statuette of a Bull within a gigantic open Mouth; below are bunches of grapes; above, a bust of Edward VI. and the arms of Christ's Hospital, to which institution the ground belonged. Beneath is a tablet inscribed with the following doggerel rhyme:—

"Milo the Cretonian an ox slew with his fist,And ate it up at one meal, ye Gods what a glorious twist."

Another version of the sign, the Mouth appearing below the Bull, was over what had been a back entrance to the yard in Angel Street. These signs are now both in the Guildhall Museum. I had almost overlooked one house, the "Castle and Falcon," Aldersgate, closed within the last few months, and now destroyed. The structure was uninteresting, but it stood on an old site—that of John Day's printing-house in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. At the present inn on April 12th, 1799, was founded the Church Missionary Society; here also its centenary was celebrated.

Besides being plentiful in the main thoroughfares, important inns, like the churches, were often crammed away in narrow and inconvenient lanes. This was the case with the "Oxford Arms" and the "Bell," both in Warwick Lane. The former was approached by a passage, being bounded on the west by the line of the old city wall, or by a later wall a few feet to the east of it, and touching Amen Corner on the south. It was a fine example of its kind. As was said by a writer in The Athenæum  of May 20th, 1876, just before it was destroyed:

"Despite the confusion, the dirt and the decay, he who stands in the yard of this ancient inn may get an excellent idea of what it was like in the days of its prosperity, when not only travellers in coach or saddle rode into or out of the yard, but poor players and mountebanks set up their stage for the entertainment of spectators, who hung over the galleries or looked on from their rooms—a name by which the boxes of a theatre were first known."

The house must have been rebuilt after the Great Fire, which raged over this area. That it existed before is proved by the following odd advertisement of March, 1672-73:

"These are to give notice that Edward Bartlet, Oxford Carrier, hath removed his inn in London from the Swan at Holborn Bridge to the Oxford Arms in Warwick Lane, where he did Inn before the Fire. His coaches and waggons going forth on their usual days, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He hath also a hearse and all things convenient to carry a Corps to any part of England."

The "Bell" Inn, also galleried, was on the east side of Warwick Lane. There Archbishop Leighton died in 1684. As Burnet tells us, he had often said that "if he were to choose a place to die in it should be an Inn; it looked like a pilgrim's going home, to whom this world was all as an Inn, and who was weary of the noise and confusion in it." Thus his desire was fulfilled. There is a view of the old house in Chambers' Book of Days, vol. i., p. 278. It was demolished in 1865, when the value of the unclaimed parcels, some of which had been there many years, is said to have been considerable. According to one statement, the jewellery was worth £700 or £800.

The few remaining inns to which reference will be made may best perhaps be taken in alphabetical order. The old "Angel" Inn, at the end of Wych Street, Strand, already existed in February, 1503, when a letter was directed to Sir Richard Plumpton "at the Angell behind St. Clement's Kirk." From this inn Bishop Hooper was taken to Gloucester in 1554 to be burnt at the stake. A trade token was issued there in 1657. Finally, the business, largely dependent on coaches, faded away; the building was rased to the ground in 1853, and the set of offices called Danes Inn built on the site. These in their turn have now succumbed. The "Axe" in Aldermanbury was a famous carriers' inn. It is mentioned in drunken Barnabee's Journal, and from there the first line of stage waggons from London to Liverpool was established about the middle of the seventeenth century. It took many days to perform the journey.

In Laurence Lane, near the Guildhall, was a noteworthy house called "Blossoms" Inn, which, according to Stow, had "to sign St. Laurence the Deacon in a border of blossoms of flowers." In 1522, when the Emperor Charles V. came to visit Henry VIII. in London, certain inns were set apart for the reception of his retinue, among them "St. Laurence, otherwise called Bosoms Yn, was to have ready XX beddes and a stable for LX horses." In Ben Jonson's Masque of Christmas, presented at Court in 1616, "Tom of Bosomes Inn," apparently a real person, is introduced as representing Mis-rule. That the house was early frequented by carriers is shown in the epistle dedicatory to Have at you at Saffron Walden, 1596:—"Yet have I naturally cherisht and hugt it in my bosome, even as a carrier at Bosome's Inne doth a cheese under his arm." A satirical tract about Bankes and his horse Marocco gives the name of the authors as "John Dande the wiredrawer of Hadley, and Harrie Hunt head ostler of Bosomes inn." There is a view of this famous hostelry in the Crace collection, date 1855; the yard is now a depôt for railway goods.

In 1852 London suffered a sad loss architecturally by the removal of the fine groined crypt of Gerard's Hall, Basing Lane, which dated perhaps from the end of the thirteenth century, and had formed part of the mansion of a famous family of citizens, by name Gysors. In Stow's time it was "a common hostrey for receipt of travellers." He gives a long account of it, mixing fact with fiction. The house and hall were destroyed in the Great Fire, but the crypt escaped, and on it an inn was built with, in front, a carved wooden effigy of that mythical personage, Gerard the Giant, which is now in the Guildhall Museum. On the removal of the crypt the stones were numbered and presented to the Crystal Palace Company, with a view to its erection in their building or grounds. It is said, however, that after a time the stones were used for mending roads.

A rather unimportant-looking inn was the "Nag's Head," on the east side of Whitcomb Street, formerly Hedge Lane, but it is worthy of mention for one or two reasons. We learn from a manuscript note-book, which was in the possession of the late Mr. F. Locker Lampson, that Hogarth in his later days, when he set up a coach and horses, kept them at the "Nag's Head." He was then living on the east side of Leicester Square. According to a pencil note on an old drawing, which belongs to the writer, "this inn did the posting exclusively for the Royal family from George I. to William IV." It was latterly used as a livery stable, but retained its picturesque galleries until, the lease having come to an end, it was closed in 1890. The space remained vacant for some years, and is now covered by the fine publishing office of Messrs. Macmillan & Co.

Two "Saracen's Head" inns have already been described, and though one feels how imperfect this account must of necessity be, and that some houses of note are altogether omitted, I am tempted to mention a third—the house with that sign in Friday Street. It came into the hands of the Merchant Taylors' Company as early as the year 1400, and after several rebuildings was finally swept away in 1844. The adjoining house, said by tradition to have been occupied by Sir Christopher Wren, was destroyed at the same time.

It was in the early thirties of last century that coaching reached its zenith, and perhaps the greatest coaching centre in London was the "Swan with Two Necks," Lad Lane. It was an old inn, mentioned by Machyn as early as 1556. In 1637 carriers from Manchester and other places used to lodge there, but it will be best remembered as it appears in a well-known print during the heyday of its prosperity, the courtyard crowded with life and movement. The gateway was so narrow that it required some horsemanship to drive a fast team out of the said courtyard, and some care on the part of the guard that his horn or bugle basket was not jammed against the gate-post. The proprietor of this establishment was Mr. William Chaplin who, originally a coachman, became perhaps the greatest coach proprietor that ever lived. About 1835 he occupied the yards of no fewer than five famous and important inns in London, to all of which allusion has been made—the "Spread Eagle" and "Cross Keys" in Gracechurch Street, the "Swan with Two Necks," the "White Horse," Fetter Lane, and the "Angel" behind St. Clement's. He had 1,300 horses at work on various roads, and about that time horsed fourteen out of the twenty-seven coaches leaving London every night. When the railways came he bowed to the inevitable, and, in partnership with Mr. Horne, established the great carrying business, which still flourishes on the site of the old "Swan with Two Necks." In 1845 Lad Lane was absorbed by Gresham Street. The origin of the sign has been often discussed, but it is perhaps well to conclude this chapter by adding a few words about it. The swans on the upper reaches of the Thames are owned respectively by the Crown and the Dyers and the Vintners' Company, and, according to ancient custom, the representatives of these several owners make an excursion each year up the river to mark the cygnets. The visitors' mark used to consist of the chevron or letter V and two nicks on the beak. The word nicks has been corrupted into necks, and as the Vintners were often tavern-keepers, the "Swan with Two Necks" became a common sign.

CHELSEA MEMORIES

Coming to close quarters with it, I am not sure that, after all, Chelsea has not more to offer the literary pilgrim than even Hampstead has. Addison, Locke, Smollett, Horace Walpole, are among the illustrious names whose local habitations were once there but are no longer to be seen. Charles and Henry Kingsley spent their boyhood at their father's rectory in Sidney Street; Daniel Maclise lived for ten years at 4 Cheyne Walk, where George Eliot died; and “Queen's House,” No. 16 Cheyne Walk, is the house that, in 1862, Rossetti, Swinburne, William Michael Rossetti, and Meredith took as joint-tenants. Meredith soon paid a quarter's rent in lieu of notice and withdrew from the arrangement, but Swinburne and Rossetti lived on there together for some years, and did much of their greatest work there. Swinburne was next to go, and he presently set up house with Mr. Watts-Dunton at “The Pines,” near the foot of Putney Hill, where he lived till his death in 1909. In the early seventies Mr. W. M. Rossetti married and removed elsewhere, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti stayed on in the Chelsea house alone.

Later, in the gloomy days before he went away to Birchington to die, Rossetti suffered terribly from insomnia, was ill and depressed, and a prey to morbid imaginings, but in the earlier years of his tenancy of 16 Cheyne Walk he was absorbed in his art, his house was lively with many visitors, and in his lazy, sociable fashion he seems to have been almost as happy as a man of his sensitive temperament could be. “Here,” writes Mr. Joseph Knight, “were held those meetings, prolonged often until the early hours of the morning, which to those privileged to be present were veritable nights and feasts of gods. Here in the dimly-lighted studio, around the blazing fire, used to assemble the men of distinction or promise in literature and art whom the magnetism of Rossetti's individuality collected around him. Here Rossetti himself used, though rarely, to read aloud, with his voice of indescribable power and clearness, and with a bell-like utterance that still dwells in the mind, passages from the poems he admired; and here, more frequently, some young poet, encouraged by his sympathy, which to all earnest effort in art was overflowing and inexhaustible, would recite his latest sonnet.” He crowded his rooms with quaintly-carved oak furniture, and beautiful ornaments; he had a wonderful collection of blue china that he sometimes put on the table and recklessly used at his dinner-parties. In his garden he had “a motley collection of animals, peacocks, armadilloes, the wombat, woodchuck, or Canadian marmot, and other outlandish creatures, including the famous zebu.” This zebu was kept fastened to a tree, and Rossetti loved to exhibit it and point out its beauties with his maulstick. Mr. Knight goes on to repeat the story that was told concerning this animal by Whistler, who was at that time living at what is now 101 Cheyne Walk, and was then 7 Lindsey Row. According to Whistler, one day when he and Rossetti were alone in the garden, “and Rossetti was contemplating once more the admired possession, and pointing out with the objectionable stick the points of special beauty, resentment blazed into indignation. By a super-bovine exertion the zebu tore up the roots of the tree to which it was attached, and chased its tormentor round the garden, which was extensive enough to admit of an exciting chase round the trees.” The zebu was fortunately hampered by the uprooted tree, and Rossetti made good his escape, but he would harbour the animal no longer, and as nobody would buy it he gave it away.

 

QUEEN'S HOUSE. CHEYNE WALK.

 

You get an illuminating glimpse of Rossetti's home life in these days from that useful literary chronicle, Allingham's Diary (Monday, June 27, 1864): “Got down to Chelsea by half-past eight to D. G. R.'s. Breakfasted in a small, lofty room on first floor with window looking on the garden. Fanny in white. Then we went into the garden, and lay on the grass, eating strawberries and looking at the peacock. F. went to look at the ‘chicking,' her plural of chicken. Then Swinburne came in and soon began to recite—a parody on Browning was one thing; and after him Whistler, who talked about his own pictures—Royal Academy—the Chinese painter girl, Millais, &c.”

Rossetti's wife had died shortly before he went to Cheyne Walk, and it was during his residence here that her grave in Highgate Cemetery was opened, that the manuscript volume of poems he had buried with her might be recovered, and most of its contents included in his first published book of original work.

One time and another Whistler occupied four different houses in Cheyne Walk, and No. 101 was the first of these. He had been living in lodgings, or with his brother-in-law, since he came over from America, but in 1863 he took the Cheyne Walk house, and his mother went to live there with him. It is a three-storey house, and the back room on the first floor was his studio; the river lies before it, just across the road, and he could see from his front windows old Battersea Bridge, Battersea Church on the other side of the Thames, and at night the twinkling lights of boats and barges at anchor and the flare and many-coloured glitter of Cremorne Gardens in the distance. At the end of Cheyne Walk lived the boatbuilder Greaves. “He had worked in Chelsea for years,” write Mr. and Mrs. Pennell, in their Life of Whistler. “He had rowed Turner about on the river, and his two sons were to row Whistler. One of the sons, Mr. Walter Greaves, has told us that Mrs. Booth, a big, hard, coarse Scotchwoman, was always with Turner when he came for a boat. Turner would ask Greaves what kind of a day it was going to be, and if Greaves answered ‘Fine,' he would get Greaves to row them across to Battersea Church, or to the fields, now Battersea Park. If Greaves was doubtful, Turner would say, ‘Well, Mrs. Booth, we won't go far'; and afterwards for the sons—boys at the time—Turner in their memory was overshadowed by her.” Whistler and the Greaves boys were up and down the river at all hours of the day and night and in all weathers, painting and sketching, they under his tuition, or gathering impressions and studying effects of light and shadow. He was frequently in at the Rossettis' house, and they and their friends were as frequently visiting him.

In 1867 Whistler moved to what is now 96 Cheyne Walk, and had a housewarming on the 5th of February at which the two Rossettis were present. Describing the decoration of the walls here, Mr. and Mrs. Pennell say its beauty was its simplicity. “Rossetti's house was a museum, an antiquity shop, in comparison. The simplicity seemed the more bewildering because it was the growth, not of weeks but of years. The drawing-room was not painted till the day of Whistler's first dinner-party. In the morning he sent for the brothers Greaves to help him. ‘It will never be dry in time,' they feared. ‘What matter?' said Whistler; ‘it will be beautiful!'... and by evening the walls were flushed with flesh-colour, pale yellow and white spread over doors and woodwork, and we have heard that gowns and coats too were touched with flesh-colour and yellow before the evening was at an end. One Sunday morning Whistler, after he had taken his mother to Chelsea Church, as he always did, again sent for his pupils and painted a great ship with spreading sails in each of the two panels at the end of the hall; the ships are said to be still on the wall, covered up. His mother was not so pleased when, on her return, she saw the blue and white harmony, for she would have had him put away his brushes on Sunday as once she put away his toys.”

Solitude was irksome to him, and he welcomed the motley crowd of artists and students who came in at all hours to chat with him whilst he worked. The Pennells tell a capital story of a man named Barthe, of whom Whistler had bought tapestries, and who, not being able to get his account settled, called one evening for the money. He was told that Whistler was not in; but there was a cab waiting at the door, and he could hear his debtor's voice, so he pushed past the maid and, as he afterwards related, “Upstairs I find him, before a little picture, painting, and behind him ze bruzzers Greaves holding candles. And Vistlaire he say, ‘You ze very man I vant: hold a candle!' And I hold a candle. And Vistlaire he paint, and he paint, and zen he take ze picture, and he go downstairs, and he get in ze cab, and he drive off, and we hold ze candle, and I see him no more. Mon Dieu, il est terrible, ce Vistlaire!”

His studio here was a back room on the second floor, and up to that studio, on many days of 1873, Carlyle climbed to give sittings for the portrait which ranks now with the greatest of Whistler's works. The portrait of his mother had already been painted in that same small room, and hung on the wall there whilst Carlyle was coming to life on the canvas. Carlyle was not a patient sitter. Directly he sat down he urged Whistler to “fire away,” and was evidently anxious to get through with his part of the business as quickly as possible. “One day,” says Whistler, “he told me of others who had painted his portrait. There was Mr. Watts, a mon of note. And I went to his studio, and there was much meestification, and screens were drawn, and I was not allowed to see anything. And then, at last, the screens were put aside and there I was. And I looked. And Mr. Watts, a great mon, he said to me, ‘How do you like it?' And then I turned to Mr. Watts, and I said, ‘Mon, I would have ye know I am in the hobit of wurin' clean lunen!'” There is a note in Allingham's Diary, dated July 29, 1873: “Carlyle tells me he is ‘sitting' to Whistler. If C. makes signs of changing his position W. screams out in an agonised tone, ‘For God's sake, don't move!' C. afterwards said that all W.'s anxiety seemed to be to get the coat  painted to ideal perfection; the face went for little. He had begun by asking two or three sittings, but managed to get a great many. At last C. flatly rebelled. He used to define W. as the most absurd creature on the face of the earth.”

 

WHISTLER. 96 CHEYNE WALK.

 

Whilst he was at 96 Cheyne Walk, Whistler brought his famous libel action against Ruskin, won it, but was awarded only a farthing damages, and had to pay his own costs. During the progress of the suit he was having the White House built for him in Tite Street, Chelsea, but the payment of his law costs so crippled him that he had to sell it before it was ready for occupation, and to sell off also the furniture and effects of his Cheyne Walk home.

None of these things seem, however, to have affected Whistler with worse than a temporary irritation. He wrote jestingly over his door: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. E. W. Godwin, F.S.A., built this one;” turned his back upon the scenes of his recent disasters, and went to Venice. After rather more than a year of absence, he returned to London in the winter of 1880, stayed with his brother in Wimpole Street, put up at divers lodgings, had an exhibition in Bond Street, and in May 1881 took a studio at 13 Tite Street, Chelsea, and began to be the most talked-of man of the day. “He filled the papers with letters,” write Mr. and Mrs. Pennell. “London echoed with his laugh. His white lock stood up defiantly above his curls; his cane lengthened; a series of collars sprang from his long overcoat; his hat had a curlier brim, a lower tilt over his eyes; he invented amazing costumes.... He was known to pay calls with the long bamboo stick in his hand and pink bows on his shoes. He allowed no break in the gossip. The carriages brought crowds, but not sitters. Few would sit to him before the trial; after it there were fewer. In the seventies it needed courage to be painted by Whistler; now it was to risk notoriety and ridicule.” When Mr. Pennell first saw him at 13 Tite Street, in July 1884, “he was all in white, his waistcoat had long sleeves, and every minute it seemed as if he must begin to juggle with glasses. For, to be honest, my first impression was of a bar-keeper strayed from a Philadelphia saloon into a Chelsea studio. Never had I seen such thick, black, curling hair. But in the midst was the white lock, and keen, brilliant eyes flashed at me from under the thick, bushy eyebrows.”

From Tite Street, Whistler presently removed to 454 Fulham Road; thence to The Vale, Chelsea, a pleasant quarter which was a year or two ago wiped off the face of the earth; and in 1890 he was back again in Cheyne Walk, at No. 21. “I remember a striking remark of Whistler's at a garden-party in his Chelsea house,” says M. Gerard Harry, who was one of Whistler's guests at No. 21. “As he caught me observing some incompletely furnished rooms and questioning within myself whether he had occupied the house more than a fortnight or so: ‘You see,' he said, with his short laugh, ‘I do not care for definitely settling down anywhere. Where there is no more space for improvement, or dreaming about improvement, where mystery is in perfect shape, it is finis —the end—death. There is no hope nor outlook left.' I do not vouch for the words, but that was certainly the sense of a remark which struck me as offering a key to much of Whistler's philosophy, and to one aspect of his original art.”

By 1892, in spite of himself and his fantastic and silly posings and posturings, the world had learned to take his art seriously instead of taking him so, and when he went away that year to live in Paris his greatness as a painter had become pretty generally recognised. In 1894 he came back to London with his wife, who was dying of cancer, and after her death in 1896 he lived with friends or in lodgings, and had no settled home, until in 1902 he once again took a house in Cheyne Walk, this time No. 74, a house which stands below the street level; its front windows overlook the Thames, and it had a large studio at the back. Here Mrs. and Miss Birnie Philip went to share house with him, for his health was breaking, and he was in need of companionship and attention. But there were good intervals, when he was able to work with all his old eagerness and energy. “We knew on seeing him when he was not so well,” say Mr. and Mrs. Pennell, “for his costume of invalid remained original. He clung to a fur-lined overcoat worn into shabbiness. In his younger years he had objected to a dressing-gown as an unmanly concession; apparently he had not outgrown the objection, and on his bad days this shabby, worn-out overcoat was its substitute. Nor did the studio seem the most comfortable place for a man so ill as he was. It was bare, with little furniture, as his studios always were, and he had not used it enough to give it the air of a workshop. The whole house showed that illness was reigning there.” Trays and odds and ends of the sickroom lay about the hall; papers, books, and miscellaneous litter made the drawing-room and dining-room look disorderly. “When we saw Whistler in his big, shabby overcoat shuffling about the huge studio, he struck us as so old, so feeble and fragile, that we could imagine no sadder or more tragic figure. It was the more tragic because he had always been such a dandy, a word he would have been the first to use in reference to himself.... No one would have suspected the dandy in this forlorn little old man, wrapped in a worn overcoat, hardly able to walk.”

He lingered thus for about a year; then the end came suddenly. On the 14th July 1903, Mrs. Pennell found him dressed and in his studio. “He seemed better, though his face was sunken, and in his eyes was that terrible vagueness. Now he talked, and a touch of gallantry was in his greeting, ‘I wish I felt as well as you look.' He asked about Henley, the news of whose death had come a day or two before.... There was a return of vigour in his voice when Miss Birnie Philip brought him a cup of chicken broth, and he cried, ‘Take the damned thing away,' and his old charm was in the apology that followed, but, he said, if he ate every half-hour or so, as the doctor wanted, how could he be expected to have an appetite for dinner? He dozed a little, but woke up quickly with a show of interest in everything.” But on the evening of the 17th, he suddenly collapsed, and was dead before the doctor could be fetched to him.

 

TURNER'S HOUSE. CHEYNE WALK.

 

Turner's last days in this same Cheyne Walk were almost as sad, almost as piteous as Whistler's, but there is a haze of mystery about them, as there is about some of his paintings, and he had no butterfly past of dandyism to contrast painfully with the squalor of his ending. Born over the barber's shop kept by his father in Maiden Lane, Strand, he mounted to the seats of the immortals without acquiring by the way any taste for personal adornment, or for the elegancies or little prettinesses so beloved by little artists in his home surroundings. His soul was like a star, and could not make its heaven among the dainty chairs and tables and nice wall and mantelpiece ornaments of the drawing-room. On Stothard's advice (Stothard being one of the customers at the shaving shop) Turner's father made him an artist; he studied under Sir Joshua Reynolds, and later, Blake was one of his pupils. Growing in reputation, he lived by turns in Harley Street, at Hammersmith, at Twickenham, and is described in middle age as bluff and rough-mannered, and looking “the very moral of a master carpenter, with lobster-red face, twinkling staring grey eyes, white tie, blue coat with brass buttons, crab-shell turned-up boots, large fluffy hat, and enormous umbrella.” From about 1815 onwards, he had a house that is no longer standing at 47 Queen Anne Street, Harley Street, and here, in 1843, when Turner was sixty-eight, a Mr. Hammersley called on him and has described (I quote from Mr. Lewis Hind's Turner's Golden Visions ) how he “heard the shambling, slippered footstep coming down the stairs, the cold, cheerless room, the gallery, even less tidy and more forlorn, all confusion, mouldiness, and wretched litter; most of the pictures covered with uncleanly sheets, and the man! his loose dress, his ragged hair, his indifferent quiet—all, indeed, that went to make his physique and some of his mind; but above all I saw, felt (and feel still) his penetrating grey eye.”

Somewhere between 1847 and 1848 Turner strangely disappeared from his customary haunts; his Queen Anne Street house was closed, the door kept locked, and his old housekeeper, Hannah Danby, could only assure anybody who came that he was not there, and that she simply did not know where he had gone. For the next four years or so, until he was dying, no one succeeded in discovering his hiding-place. Now and then, in the meantime, he would appear in a friend's studio, or would be met with at one of the Galleries, but he offered no explanation of his curious behaviour, and allowed no one to obtain any clue to his whereabouts. He went in 1850 to a dinner given by David Roberts, and was in good spirits, and bubbling over with laborious jokes. “Turner afterwards, in Roberts's absence, took the chair, and, at Stanfield's request, proposed Roberts's health, which he did, speaking hurriedly, but soon ran short of words and breath, and dropped down on his chair with a hearty laugh, starting up again and finishing with a ‘Hip, hip, hurrah!'... Turner was the last who left, and Roberts accompanied him along the street to hail a cab. When the cab drove up, he assisted Turner to his seat, shut the door, and asked where he should tell cabby to take him; but Turner was not to be caught, and, with a knowing wink, replied, ‘Tell him to drive to Oxford Street, and then I'll direct him where to go.'”

The fact is he was living at Cremorne Cottage, 119 Cheyne Walk. He was living there anonymously; a Mrs. Booth, whom he had known many years before when he stayed at her Margate boarding-house, was keeping house for him, and he was known in the neighbourhood as Admiral Booth, a rumour having got about that he was a retired naval officer fallen on evil days. This was the time of which the father of the Greaves boys had spoken to Whistler—the days when Mrs. Booth used to come with Turner to the waterside and he would row them over to Battersea. Though all his greatest work was finished, Turner painted several pictures here; he frequently rose at daybreak, and, wrapped in a blanket or a dressing-gown, stood out on the roof, leaning over the railing to watch the sunrise and the play of light on the river opposite. He used the room on the second floor as his studio, and in that room, on the 19th December 1851, he died. Some months before his death, he was seen at the Royal Academy's private view; then, tardily responding to a letter of friendly reproach that David Roberts had addressed to him at Queen Anne Street, he came to Roberts's studio in Fitzroy Square. He was “broken and ailing,” and had been touched by Roberts's appeal, but as for disclosing his residence—“You must not ask me,” he said; “but whenever I come to town I will always come to see you.” When Roberts tried to cheer him, he laid his hand on his heart and murmured, “No, no! There is something here that is all wrong.”

His illness increasing on him, he wrote to Margate for Dr. Price, an old acquaintance of his and Mrs. Booth's, and Price, coming up, examined him and told him there was no hope of his recovery. “Godownstairs,” he urged the doctor, “take a glass of sherry, and then look at me again.” But a second examination only confirmed Dr. Price in his opinion.

It must have been at this juncture that Turner's hiding-place was discovered. His Queen Anne Street housekeeper, Hannah Danby, found a letter left in the pocket of one of his old coats, and this gave the Chelsea address. She went with another woman and made inquiries round about Cheyne Walk till it was clear enough to her that the Mr. Booth to whom that letter was directed was none other than Turner, and acting on her information Mr. Harpur, Turner's executor, journeyed at once to Chelsea, and arrived at 119 Cheyne Walk to find Turner sinking fast. Towards sunset, on that wintry day of his dying, he asked Mrs. Booth to wheel him to the window, and so gazing out on the wonder of the darkening sky he passed quietly away with his head on her shoulder.

A certain John Pye, a Chelsea engraver, afterwards interviewed the owner of No. 119, and learned from him that Turner and Mrs. Booth had, some four or five years before, called and taken the house of him, paying their rent in advance because they objected to giving any names or references. Pye also saw Mrs. Booth, and says she was a woman of fifty, illiterate, but “good-looking and kindly-mannered.” Turner had used to call her “old 'un,” she said, and she called him “dear”; and she explained that she had first got acquainted with him when, more than twenty years ago, “he became her lodger near the Custom House at Margate.” So small was the shabby little house in Cheyne Walk that the undertakers were unable to carry the coffin up the narrow staircase, and had to carry the body down to it. Nowadays, the house has been enlarged; it and the house next door have been thrown into one, otherwise it has undergone little change since Turner knew it.

Whilst Turner was thus passing out of life in Cheyne Walk, Carlyle was dwelling near by at No. 24 (then No. 5) Cheyne Row, and had been resident there for seventeen years. On first coming to London in 1830, he and his wife lodged at 33 Ampton Street, Gray's Inn Road. They spent, he says, “an interesting, cheery, and, in spite of poor arrangements, really pleasant winter” there; they had a “clean and decent pair of rooms,” and their landlord's family consisted of “quiet, decent people.” He wrote his essay on Dr. Johnson whilst he was here, and was making a fruitless search for a publisher who would accept Sartor Resartus, which he had recently completed. Jeffrey called there several times to pass an afternoon with him, and John Stuart Mill was one other of the many visitors who found their way to the drab, unlovely, rather shabby street to chat with the dour, middle-aged Scotch philosopher, who was only just beginning to be heard of.

He fixed on the Cheyne Row house in 1834, and, except for occasional holidays, never left it until his death forty-seven years afterwards. As soon as he was settled here Carlyle wrote to Sir William Hamilton, giving him his new address: “Our upholsterers, with all their rubbish and clippings, are at length swept handsomely out of doors. I have got my little book-press set up, my table fixed firm in its place, and sit here awaiting what Time and I, in our questionable wrestle, shall make out between us.” In another letter of about the same date he writes of it: “The street is flag-paved, sunk-storied, iron-railed, all old-fashioned and tightly done up, looks out on a rank of sturdy old pollarded (that is, beheaded) lime trees standing there like giants in tawtie wigs (for the new boughs are still young); beyond this a high brick wall; backwards a garden, the size of our back one at Comely Bank, with trees, &c., in bad culture; beyond this green hayfields and tree avenues, once a bishop's pleasure grounds, an unpicturesque but rather cheerful outlook. The house itself is eminent, antique, wainscoted to the very ceiling, and has been all new painted and repaired; broadish stair, with massive balustrade (in the old style), corniced and as thick as one's thigh; floors thick as rock, wood of them here and there worm-eaten, yet capable of cleanliness, and still with thrice the strength of a modern floor. Chelsea is a singular heterogeneous kind of spot, very dirty and confused in some places, quite beautiful in others, abounding in antiquities and the traces of great men—Sir Thomas More, Steele, Smollett, &c. Our Row, which for the last three doors or so is a street and none of the noblest, runs out upon a Parade (perhaps they call it) running along the shore of the river, a broad highway with huge shady trees, boats lying moored, and a smell of shipping and tar.”

A note in Allingham's Diary (1860) offers you a very clear little picture of Carlyle's garden here, as he saw it: “In Carlyle's garden, some twenty yards by six; ivy at the end. Three or four lilac bushes; an ash stands on your left; a little copper beech on your right gives just an umbrella to sit under when the sun is hot; a vine or two on one wall, neighboured by a jasmine—one pear tree.”

 

CARLYLE. AMPTON STREET.

 

In this Cheyne Row house Carlyle wrote all his books, except Sartor  and some of the miscellaneous essays; here he entertained, not always very willingly or very graciously, most of the great men of his day; quarrelled with his neighbours furiously over the crowing of their cocks; was pestered by uninvited, admiring callers from all over the world; and had his room on the top floor furnished with double-windows that were supposed to render it sound-proof, but did not. Charles Boner, visiting 24 Cheyne Row in 1862, disturbed Carlyle as he sat in his dressing-gown and slippers correcting the proofs of his Frederick the Great, whilst Mrs. Carlyle remained in attendance, seated on a sofa by the fire.

In 1866 Mrs. Carlyle died suddenly of heart failure, and left him burdened with remorse that he had not been kinder to her and made her life happier; and after two years of lonely living without her, he writes: “I am very idle here, very solitary, which I find to be oftenest less miserable to me than the common society that offers. Except Froude almost alone, whom I see once a week, there is hardly anybody whose talk, always polite, clear, sharp, and sincere, does me any considerable good.... I am too weak, too languid, too sad of heart, too unfit for any work, in fact, to care sufficiently for any object left me in the world to think of grappling round it and coercing it by work. A most sorry dog-kennel it oftenest all seems to me, and wise words, if one ever had them, to be only thrown away on it. Basta-basta, I for most part say of it, and look with longings towards the still country where at last we and our loved ones shall be together again.”

You will get no better or more intimate glimpses into Carlyle's home life than Allingham gives in his Diary. Sometimes they are merely casual and scrappy notes, at others fairly full records of his walks and talks with him, such as this: “1873, April 28.—At Carlyle's house about three. He spent about fifteen minutes in trying to clear the stem of a long clay pipe with a brass wire, and in the end did not succeed. The pipe was new, but somehow obstructed. At last he sent for another one and smoked, and we got out at last. (I never saw him smoke in public.) He said Emerson had called on him on Sunday, and he meant to visit E. to-day at his lodging in Down Street. We walked to Hyde Park by Queen's Gate, and westward along the broad walk, next to the ride, with the Serpentine a field distant on the left hand. This was a favourite route of his. I was well content to have the expectation of seeing Emerson again, and, moreover, Emerson and Carlyle together. We spoke of Masson's Life of Milton, a volume of which was on C.'s table. He said Masson's praise of Milton was exaggerated. ‘Milton had a gift in poetry—of a particular kind. Paradise Lost  is absurd; I never could take to it all—though now and again clouds of splendour rolled in upon the scene.'... At Hyde Park Corner, C. stopped and looked at the clock. ‘You are going to Down Street, sir?' ‘No, it's too late.' ‘The place is close at hand.' ‘No, no, it's half-past five.' So he headed for Knightsbridge, and soon after I helped him into a Chelsea omnibus, banning internally the clay pipe (value a halfpenny farthing) through which this chance (perhaps the last, for Emerson is going away soon) was lost.”

 

THOMAS CARLYLE

 

There are numerous entries in the Diary of visits and conversations of this sort. On October 18, 1879, Allingham called at Cheyne Row with his little son, and they met Carlyle coming out of the door to his carriage. On December 4, of the same year: “Helen and I to Cheyne Row. Carlyle's eighty-fourth birthday. Mrs. Lecky there. Browning and Ruskin are gone. C. on his sofa by the window, warm and quiet, wearing a new purple and gold cap. Gifts of flowers on the table....” Some of the swift little word-sketches of Carlyle at this date, when he was very old, very feeble, and apt to be oppressed with gloom, are piteous and pathetic enough. On his eighty-fifth birthday (December 4, 1880) Allingham found him easier and more himself; but on Friday, December 24, you read: “To Carlyle's at two. He was lying on the sofa in the drawing-room. When I spoke to him he held out his hand and shook hands with me, but said nothing. I was not sure that he knew me. A stout Scotch servant girl and I lifted him to his feet to go to the carriage. In the hall his heavy sealskin coat was put on with difficulty, and he was got into the carriage. Alick and I with him. We drove twice round Hyde Park. The old man dozed much.”

Earlier that year, the two sons of Alexander Munro called at Cheyne Row, and in a letter home the elder of them gave a wonderfully poignant and living account of their visit. Munro, who was dead, had been one of Carlyle's old friends, and the two boys were now at school at the Charterhouse. They were conductedupstairs, says the letter, to a well-lighted, cheerful apartment, and here “the maid went forward and said something to Carlyle, and left the room. He was sitting before a fire in an arm-chair, propped up with pillows, with his feet on a stool, and looked much older than I had expected. The lower part of his face was covered with a rather shaggy beard, almost quite white. His eyes were bright blue, but looked filmy from age. He had on a sort of coloured nightcap, and a long gown reaching to his ankles, and slippers on his feet. A rest attached to the arm of his chair supported a book before him. I could not quite see the name, but I think it was Channing's works. Leaning against the fireplace was a long clay pipe, and there was a slight smell of tobacco in the room. We advanced and shook hands, and he invited us to sit down, and began, I think, by asking where we were living. He talked of our father affectionately, speaking in a low tone as if to himself, and stopping now and then for a moment and sighing.... He went on, ‘I am near the end of my course, and the sooner the better is my own feeling.' He said he still reads a little, but has not many books he cares to read now, and is ‘continually disturbed by foolish interruptions from people who do not know the value of an old man's leisure.' His hands were very thin and wasted; he showed us how they shook and trembled unless he rested them on something, and said they were failing him from weakness.” And, at length, closing the interview, “‘Well, I'll just bid you good-bye.' We shook hands. He asked our names. He could not quite hear Henry's at first. ‘I am a little deaf, but I can hear well enough talking,' or words to that effect. ‘I wish you God's blessing; good-bye.' We shook hands once more and went away. I was not at all shy. He seemed such a venerable old man, and so worn and old-looking, that I was very much affected. Our visit was on Tuesday, May 18, 1880, at about 2 p.m.

 

CARLYLE'S HOUSE. CHEYNE ROW.

 

He died in the following February; after lying motionless and seemingly unconscious for hours, he passed quietly soon after eight on the morning of February 5, 1881. His bed, says Allingham, had been brought down to the drawing-room (the front room on the first floor), and he rarely spoke in the last two or three weeks, not so much because he could not as because he did not seem to wish to say anything. Newspaper reporters were so continually ringing at the door, day and night, that bulletins had to be posted outside to prevent this. Now and then he appeared to wander in his mind, and when the Scotch maid, Mary, was attending upon him he would sometimes murmur, “Poor little woman,” as if he mistook her for his long-dead Jenny; and once, says Allingham, “he supposed the female hands that tended him, lifting his head, perhaps, to be those of his good old mother—‘Ah, mother, is it you?' he murmured, or some such words. I think it was on the day before the last day that Mary heard him saying to himself, ‘So this is Death: well——'”

But the Cheyne Row house has many happy memories too, and I always think one of the happiest is that of how Leigh Hunt called once after a long absence, and brought with him word of some unexpected good news that so delighted Mrs. Carlyle that she impulsively ran to him and kissed him, and he went away to write that charming little rondeau that bids fair to outlive all his more ambitious poetry:

“Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old—but add,
Jenny kissed me.”

Leigh Hunt was turned fifty then, and was Carlyle's neighbour, living at No. 10 (then No. 4) Upper Cheyne Row. I have seen it said that Leigh Hunt went there in order to be near Carlyle, but his occupancy of that house dates from 1833—the year before Carlyle established himself in Chelsea—and he remained there until 1840, seven years of poverty and worry, when it was literal truth that he was weary and sad, in indifferent health, harassed for want of money, and growing old, yet you find him never losing hope, and always ready on the smallest excuse to rejoice and make light of his troubles. I am afraid Dickens's caricature of Hunt as Harold Skimpole, and Byron's contemptuous references to his vanity and vulgarity and the squalor of his easy-going home life (his children, said Byron, “are dirtier and more mischievous than Yahoos,” and writing of their arrival in Italy as Shelley's guests he observes, “Poor Hunt, with his six little blackguards, are coming slowly up; as usual he turned back once—was there ever such a kraal out of the Hottentot country?”)—I am rather afraid these things have tended to wrong Hunt in our imagination of him, for you learn on other evidence that there is just enough truth in those representations of him to make them seem quite true, and they linger in your mind, and affect your regard and admiration of the man in spite of yourself. But Dickens, with his keen sense of the absurd, had a habit of exaggeration; there was no ill-nature in his laughter—he merely seized on certain of Hunt's weaknesses and gave them to a character who has none of Hunt's finer qualities, and it is ridiculous in us and unfair to both men to take that caricature as a portrait. As for Byron—he could not justly appraise Hunt, for he had no means of understanding him. His own way of life was made too easy for him from the first; he was not born to Hunt's difficulties and disadvantages; his experiences of the world, and therefore his sympathies, were too limited. There is no merit in living elegantly and playing the gentleman when you simply inherit, as the fruits of an ancestor's abilities, all the conveniences and the money that enable you to do so. On the whole, if you compare their lives, you will realise that Leigh Hunt was by far the greater man of the two, even if Byron was the greater poet, and I am more than a little inclined to agree with Charles Lamb that even as a poet Byron was “great in so little a way. To be a poet is to be the man, not a petty portion of occasional low passion worked up in a permanent form of humanity. Shakespeare has thrust such rubbishy feelings into a corner—the dark, dusty heart of Don John, in the Much Ado about Nothing.”

Shelley never speaks of Leigh Hunt but in the kindliest terms. He was “gentle, honourable, innocent, and brave,” writes Shelley; “one of more exalted toleration for all who do and think evil, and yet himself more free from evil; one of simpler and, in the highest sense of the word, purer life and manners, I never knew.” He is, he says in the Letter to Maria Gisborne :

“One of those happy souls
Which are the salt of the earth, and without whom
This earth would smell like what it is—a tomb.”

Hunt tells in his Autobiography  how he came to Chelsea, and gives a glowing description of his house there. He left St. John's Wood, and then his home in the New Road (now Marylebone Road), because he found the clay soil of the one and the lack of quiet around the other affected his health, or “perhaps it was only the melancholy state of our fortune” that was answerable for that result; anyhow, from the noise and dust of the New Road he removed to Upper Cheyne Row—“to a corner in Chelsea,” as he says, “where the air of the neighbouring river was so refreshing and the quiet of the ‘no-thoroughfare' so full of repose, that although our fortunes were at their worst, and my health almost at a piece with them, I felt for some weeks as if I could sit still for ever, embalmed in silence. I got to like the very cries in the street, for making me the more aware of it by the contrast. I fancied they were unlike the cries in other quarters of the suburbs, and that they retained something of the old quaintness and melodiousness which procured them the reputation of having been composed by Purcell and others.... There was an old seller of fish, in particular, whose cry of ‘Shrimps as large as prawns' was such a regular, long-drawn, and truly pleasing melody that, in spite of his hoarse and, I am afraid, drunken voice, I used to wish for it of an evening, and hail it when it came....

 

LEIGH HUNT'S HOUSE. CHELSEA.

 

“I know not whether the corner I speak of remains as quiet as it was. I am afraid not; for steamboats have carried vicissitude into Chelsea, and Belgravia threatens it with her mighty advent. But to complete my sense of repose and distance, the house was of that old-fashioned sort which I have always loved best, familiar to the eyes of my parents, and associated with childhood. It had seats in the windows, a small third room on the first floor, of which I made a sanctum, into which no perturbation was to enter, except to calm itself with religious and cheerful thoughts; and there were a few limes in front which, in their due season, diffused a fragrance. In this house we remained seven years; in the course of which, besides contributing some articles to the Edinburgh  and Westminster Reviews, and producing a good deal of the book since called The Town, I set up (in 1834) the London Journal, endeavoured to continue the Monthly Repository, and wrote the poem entitled Captain Sword and Captain Pen, the Legend of Florence, and three other plays. Here also I became acquainted with Thomas Carlyle, one of the kindest and best, as well as most eloquent of men.... I believe that what Mr. Carlyle loves better than his fault-finding, with all its eloquence, is the face of any human creature that looks suffering, and loving, and sincere; and I believe further that if the fellow-creature were suffering only, and neither loving nor sincere, but had come to a pass of agony in this life which put him at the mercies of some good man for some last help and consolation towards his grave, even at the risk of loss to repute and a sure amount of pain and vexation, that man, if the groan reached him in its forlornness, would be Thomas Carlyle.”

He wrote that from his personal experience of Carlyle, for whilst they were neighbours at Chelsea they frequently visited each other; and Carlyle, on his part, saw the worst as well as the best of him, from the inside, and was too large-minded and too big a man to judge him by his faults and follies only. He saw how Hunt worked, all the while haunted by pecuniary distresses; unpaid tradesmen knocking at his door and worrying for their debts; once an execution in the house; now and then faced with the humiliation of having to ask for loans of a few shillings to buy the family dinner; his children almost in rags, and himself, as he said bitterly, slighted and neglected by editors and the public, and “carelessly, over-familiarly, or even superciliously treated, pitied or patronised by his inferiors.” Carlyle had known poverty and neglect himself; he was fitted to judge Hunt understandingly, and he judged him justly. “Leigh Hunt was a fine kind of man,” he told Allingham in 1868. “Some used to talk of him as a frivolous fellow, but when I saw him I found he had a face as serious as death.” In his Diary he noted, “Hunt is always ready to go and walk with me, or sit and talk with me to all lengths if I want him. He comes in once a week (when invited, for he is very modest), takes a cup of tea, and sits discoursing in his brisk, fanciful way till supper time, and then cheerfully eats a cup of porridge (to sugar only), which he praises to the skies, and vows he will make his supper of it at home.”

It was Mrs. Carlyle who was severe about the Hunts' untidy and uncleanly household, and complained of the domestic utensils they borrowed and failed to return, but Carlyle took the position in a more genial spirit, and saw the pity of it and the humour of it also. “Hunt's house,” he wrote after one of his visits to No. 10 Upper Cheyne Row, “excels all you have ever read of—a poetical Tinkerdom without parallel even in literature. In his family room, where are a sickly, large wife and a whole school of well-conditioned wild children, you will find half-a-dozen old rickety chairs gathered from half-a-dozen different hucksters, and all seemingly engaged, and just pausing, in a violent hornpipe. On these and around them and over the dusty table and ragged carpet lie all kinds of litter—books, papers, egg-shells, scissors, and last night when I was there the torn heart of a quartern loaf. His own room above stairs, into which alone I strive to enter, he keeps cleaner. It has only two chairs, a bookcase, and a writing-table; yet the noble Hunt receives you in his Tinkerdom in the spirit of a king, apologises for nothing, places you in the best seat, takes a window-sill himself if there is no other, and then folding closer his loose-flowing ‘muslin cloud' of a printed nightgown in which he always writes, commences the liveliest dialogue on philosophy and the prospects of man (who is to be beyond measure ‘happy' yet); which again he will courteously terminate the moment you are bound to go. A most interesting, pitiable, lovable man, to be used kindly, but with discretion.”

Hunt departed from Chelsea, with all his anxieties, in 1840, and took up residence at 32 Edwardes Square, Kensington, where he got through with a great deal of work, and one way and another was secured at last above his financial embarrassments. Dickens, Jerrold, Forster and some other friends raised £900 for him by a benefit performance of Every Man in his Humour ; the Government granted him two sums of £200, and then a Civil List Pension of £200 a year, to the obtaining of which Carlyle readily lent all his influence. Moreover, the Shelley family settled an annuity of £120 upon him. But, with all these material advantages, came the death of his wife and one of his sons. “She was as uncomplaining during the worst storms of our adversity,” Hunt wrote of his wife, reminiscently, “as she was during those at sea in our Italian voyage.”

He was an old and rather solitary man when he moved from Kensington in 1853 and went to 7 Cornwall Road, now known as 16 Rowan Road, Hammersmith Road, but he had an ample and sure income, and was no longer haunted by duns, if he could not indulge in much in the way of luxury. When Nathaniel Hawthorne was in England he went to see him at Hammersmith, and found the house in Rowan Road plain, small, shabby, Hunt's little study cheaply papered, sparely carpeted, and furnished meanly, and Hunt himself “a beautiful and venerable old man, buttoned to the chin in a black dress coat, tall and slender, with a countenance quietly alive all over, and the gentlest and most naturally courteous manner.” At Rowan Road he wrote most of his Old Court Suburb, in the preface to a recent edition of which Mr. Austin Dobson says of the Leigh Hunt of those closing days, “He was still the old sensitive, luminous-eyed Leigh Hunt of the wide collar and floating printed nightgown, delighted with a flower or a bird or a butterfly; but Time had snowed upon his pericranium, and to his breezy robe de chambre  he had added, or was about to add, a protective cape, more or less ample, of faded black silk, which gave him the air (says John Forster) of an old French Abbé.” He died away from home in 1859, whilst he was on a short visit to a relative at Putney.

 

LEIGH HUNT. 16 ROWAN ROAD. HAMMERSMITH.

Elizabethan London

By T. Fairman Ordish, F.S.A.

he leading feature of Elizabethan London was that it was a great port. William Camden, writing in his Britannia, remarked that the Thames, by its safe and deep channel, was able to entertain the greatest ships in existence, daily bringing in so great riches from all parts "that it striveth at this day with the Mart-townes of Christendome for the second prise, and affoordeth a most sure and beautiful Roade for shipping" (Holland's translation). Below the great bridge, one of the wonders of Europe, we see this shipping crowding the river in the maps and views of London belonging to the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The Tower and the bridge were the city's defences against attack by water. Near the Tower was the Custom House, where peaceful commerce paid its dues; and between the Custom House and the bridge was the great wharf of Billingsgate, where goods were landed for distribution. Near the centre of the bridge was a drawbridge, which admitted vessels to another great wharf, Queenhithe, at a point midway between London Bridge and Blackfriars. Between the bridge and Queenhithe was the Steelyard, the domain of the merchants of the Hanseatic League. Along the river front were numerous other wharves, where barges and lighters unloaded goods which they brought from the ships in the road, or from the upper reaches of the Thames. For the river was the great highway of London. It answered the needs of commerce, and it furnished the chief means of transit. The passenger traffic of Elizabethan London was carried on principally by means of rowing-boats. A passenger landed at the point nearest to his destination, and then walked; or a servant waited for him with a saddle-horse. The streets were too narrow for coaches, except in two or three main arteries.

The characteristic of present-day London, at which all foreigners most marvel, is the amount of traffic in the streets. In Elizabethan London this characteristic existed in the chief highway—the Thames. The passenger-boats were generally described as "wherries," and they were likened by Elizabethan travellers to the gondolas of Venice; for instance, by Coryat, in his Crudities, who thought the playhouses of Venice very beggarly compared with those of London, but admired the gondoliers, because they were "altogether as swift as our rowers about London." The maps of the period reveal the extraordinary number of "stairs" for landing passengers along both banks of the river, besides the numerous wharves for goods. John Stow, the author of the Survey of London, published first in 1598, and again in a second edition in 1603, describes the traffic on the river. "By the Thames," he says, "all kinds of merchandise be easily conveyed to London, the principal storehouse and staple of all commodities within this realm. So that, omitting to speak of great ships and other vessels of burthen, there pertaineth to the cities of London, Westminster, and borough of Southwark, above the number, as is supposed, of 2,000 wherries and other small boats, whereby 3,000 poor men at the least be set on work and maintained." Many of these watermen were old sailors, who had sailed and fought under Drake. The Armada deliverance was recalled by Drake's ship, which lay in the river below the bridge. The voyage of the Earl of Essex to Spain, the expeditions to Ireland and to the Low Countries, formed the staple of the gossip of these old sailors who found employment in the chief means of locomotion in Elizabethan London.

There was only the single bridge, but there were several ferries. The principal ferry was from Blackfriars and the Fleet river to a point opposite on the Surrey side, called Paris Garden stairs—nearly in a line with the present Blackfriars Bridge. At Westminster was another, from the Horseferry Road to a point a little west of Lambeth Palace—almost in the line of the present Lambeth Bridge. The river was fordable at low tide at this point; horses crossed here—whence the name Horseferry—and possibly other cattle, when the tide was unusually low.

The sea is the home of piety. Coast towns, ports, and havens, reached after voyages of peril, are invariably notable for their places of worship, and for customs which speak touchingly—like the blessing of fishermen's nets, for instance—of lives spent in uncertainty and danger. Thus, the leading characteristic of Elizabethan London being its association with the sea and its dependence on the river, we find that its next most striking characteristic was the extraordinary number of churches it contained. The great cathedral predominated more pronouncedly than its modern successor. From the hill on which it was based it reared its vast bulk; its great spire ascended the heavens, and the multitude of church towers and spires and belfries throughout the city seemed to follow it. The houses were small, the streets were narrow; but to envisage the city from the river, or from the Surrey side, was to have the eye led upwards from point to point to the summit of St. Paul's. The dignity and piety of London were thus expressed, in contradiction to human foibles and failings so conspicuous in Elizabethan drama. The spire of St. Paul's was destroyed by lightning early in the reign of Elizabeth; and the historian may see much significance in the fact that it was not rebuilt, even in thanksgiving and praise for the deliverance from the Great Armada. The piety of London dwindled until it flamed forth anew in the time of the Puritan revolt.

The bridge was carried on nineteen arches. It had a defensive gate at the Southwark end, and another gateway at the northern end. In the centre was a beautiful chapel, dedicated to Thomas à Becket, and known as St. Thomas of the Bridge. Houses were built on the bridge, mostly shops with overhanging signs, as in the streets of the city. Booksellers and haberdashers predominated, but other trades were carried on also. After the chapel, the most conspicuous feature of the bridge was "Nonesuch House," so called to express the wonder that it was constructed in Holland entirely of wood, brought over the water piece by piece, and put together on the bridge by dovetailing and pegs, without the use of a single metal nail. Adjoining the northern gateway was an engine for raising water by means of a great wheel operated by the tide. Near the Southwark end were corn-mills, worked on the same principle, below the last two arches of the bridge. The gateway at the Southwark end, so well shown in Visscher's view of London, was finished in 1579, and the traitors' heads, which formerly surmounted a tower by the drawbridge, were transferred to it. Travellers from the south received this grim salutation as they approached the bridge, which led into the city; and when they glanced across the river, the Tower frowned upon them, and the Traitors' Gateway, like teeth in an open mouth, deepened the effect of warning and menace.

But these terrors loomed darkling in the background for the most part. They belonged rather to the time when the sovereign's palaces at Westminster and at the Tower seemed to hold London in a grip. The palace at Westminster now languished in desuetude; the Tower was a State prison, and—with some ironical intent, perhaps—also the abode of the royal beasts, lions, tigers, leopards, and other captives. The Queen passed in her royal barge down the river with ceremonious pageantry from her palace of Whitehall; the drawbridge raised, the floating court passed the Tower as with lofty indifference on its way to "Placentia," Her Majesty's palace at Greenwich. Out of the silence of history a record speaks like a voice, and tells us that here, in 1594, Shakespeare and his fellows performed at least two comedies or interludes before Her Majesty, and we know even the amounts that were paid them for their services.

Plan of London in the time of Queen Elizabeth (1563).

In the Survey  of John Stow we have three separable elements: the archæology and history of London, Stow's youthful recollections of London in the time of Henry the Eighth, and Stow's description of the great change which came over London after the dissolution of the religious houses, and continued in process throughout his lifetime. The mediæval conditions were not remote. He could remember when London was clearly defined by the wall, like a girdle, of which the Tower was the knot. No heroic change had befallen; the wall had not been cast down into its accompanying fosse to form a ring-street, as was done when Vienna was transformed from the mediæval state. London had simply filled up the ditch with its refuse; its buildings had simply swarmed over the wall and across the dike; shapeless and haphazard suburbs had grown up, till the surrounding villages became connected with the city. Even more grievous, in the estimation of Stow, was the change which he had witnessed within the city itself. The feudal lords had departed, and built themselves mansions outside the city. The precincts of the dissolved religious establishments had been converted into residential quarters, and a large proportion of the old monastic gardens had been built upon. The outlines of society had become blurred. Formerly, the noble, the priest, and the citizen were the defined social strata. Around each of these was grouped the rest of the social units in positions of dependence. A new type of denizen had arisen, belonging to none of the old categories—the typical Elizabethan Londoner.

The outward aspect of Elizabethan London reflected this social change. On the south of the city, along the line of Thames Street, the wall had entirely disappeared. On the east and west it was in decay, and was becoming absorbed in fresh buildings. Only on the north side of the city, where it had been re-edified as late as 1474, did the wall suggest its uses for defence. In the map of Agas, executed early in the reign of Elizabeth, this portion of the wall, with its defensive towers and bastions, appears singularly well preserved. Thus the condition of the wall suggested the passing of the old and the coming of the new order. The gates which formerly defended the city, where the chief roadways pierced the wall, still remained as monuments, and they were admirably adapted to the purpose of civic pageantry and ceremonial shows. Indeed, the gateway on the Oxford road was rebuilt in 1586, and called Newgate, "from the newness thereof," and it was the "fairest" of all the gates of London. It is reckoned that this was the year that Shakespeare came to London from Stratford-on-Avon; and the assumption is generally allowed that he entered the city by Newgate, which would be his direct road. A new gate, of an artistic and ornamental character, set in the ancient wall, was a sign and a symbol of the new conditions in London, of which Shakespeare himself was destined to become the chief result.


With the characteristics of London as a great mart and port is included the foreign elements in its population. In Lombard Street the merchants of Lombardy from early mediæval times had performed the operations of banking and foreign exchange; and around them were assembled the English merchants of all qualities and degrees. Business was conducted in the open street, and merchants merely adjourned into the adjoining houses to seal their bonds and make their formal settlements. Henry VIII. tried to induce the city to make use of the great building of Leadenhall for this purpose; but the innovation was resisted, and Lombard Street continued to be the burse of London till long after the accession of Elizabeth. The name of Galley Key remained in Tower Street ward to mark the spot on the river bank "where the galleys of Italy and other parts did discharge their wines and merchandises brought to this city." The men of the galleys lived as a colony by themselves in Mincing Lane; the street leading to their purlieus was called, indifferently, Galley Row and Petit Wales. Here was a great house, the official territorium of the Principality. The original of Shakespeare's "Fluellen" may very possibly have been a denizen of this quarter.

Above the bridge, in Thames Street, was the territorium of the Hanse merchants, alluded to by Stow as "the merchants of Almaine," and by Camden as "the Easterlings or Dutch merchants of the Steelyard." Their position in the city was one of great importance: the export trade of the country in woollen goods was chiefly in their hands, and they had their own Guildhall in Upper Thames Street, called the Gilda Teutonicorum. The special privileges accorded to this foreign commercial community carried the obligation to maintain Bishopsgate in repair, and "to defend it at all times of danger and extremity." When the house of the Augustine Friars, Old Broad Street, was dissolved, and its extensive gardens became cut up and built upon, the Dutch colony settled there in residence, and the church of Austin Friars was specially assigned to them by Edward VI. Towards the end of the reign of Elizabeth the privileges of the Hanse merchants were revoked, and their guildhall was confiscated to the use of the navy. But the Dutch element continued as a part of the commercial life of the city, and the church of Austin Friars is still the "church of the Dutch nation in London."

West of the Steelyard was the Vintry. Here the merchants of Bordeaux had been licensed to build their warehouses of stone, at the rear of a great wharf, on which were erected cranes for unloading the lighters and other boats which brought the casks from the ships below bridge. The trade of these foreign merchants gave the name of Vintry Ward to one of the divisions of the city. In Bishopsgate Ward, near the church of St. Botolph, was a French colony, their purlieus forming a quadrant, called Petty France.

Elizabethan London was more cosmopolitan than many European capitals. In Lombard Street the merchants of Germany, France, and Italy were conspicuously differentiated by the varieties of costume. On the site of the present Royal Exchange, Sir Thomas Gresham laid the first stone of his great Bourse in 1566; the design was in imitation of the Bourse at Antwerp; the materials of its construction were imported from Flanders; the architect and builder was a Fleming, named Henryke. The opening of this building by Queen Elizabeth in state in January, 1571, when Her Majesty commanded it to be proclaimed by herald and trumpet that the Bourse should be called The Royal Exchange from that time henceforth, is a familiar story, because it is, in fact, one of the most striking and significant events in the history of London. The trumpet of that herald, on January 23rd, 1571, announced a new era.

The building was a quadrangle, enclosing an open space. The sides formed a cloister or sheltered walk; above this was a corridor, or walk, called "the pawn," with stalls or shops, like the Burlington Arcade of the present day; above this again was a tier of rooms. The great bell-tower stood on the Cornhill front; the bell was rung at noon and at six in the evening. On the north side, looking towards St. Margaret's, Lothbury, was a tall Corinthian column. Both tower and column were surmounted by a grasshopper—the Gresham crest. The inscription on the façade of the building was in French, German, and Italian. The motley scene of Lombard Street had been transferred to the Royal Exchange. The merchants of Amsterdam, of Antwerp, of Hamburg, of Paris, of Bordeaux, of Venice and Vienna, distinguishable to the eye by the dress of the nations they represented, and to the ear by the differences of language, conducted their exchanges with English merchants, and with each other, in this replica of the Bourse of Antwerp, the rialto of Elizabethan London.[1]

Cheapside was called West Cheap in Elizabethan London, in contradistinction to East Cheap, famous for ever as the scene of the humours of "Dame Quickly" and "Falstaff." The change in West Cheap since the mediæval period was chiefly at the eastern end, on the north side. Here a large space opposite the church of St. Mary-le-Bow was formerly kept clear of building, although booths and stalls for market purposes occupied the ground temporarily. The space was otherwise reserved for the mediæval jousts, tournaments, and other civic pageantry. The site of Mercers' Hall was occupied by the Militia Hospitalis, called, after Thomas à Becket, St. Thomas of Acon. After the Dissolution this establishment was granted by Henry to the Mercers' Company, who adapted the existing buildings to the purposes of their hall, one of the principal features of Cheap in Elizabethan times. The district eastward of Mercers' Hall had become filled up with building, and the making of Cheap as a thoroughfare was nowcomplete. The original road westward was from the top of New Fish Street, by East Cheap, Candlewick or Cannon Street, past London Stone (probably the Roman Milliarium ), along Budge Row and Watling Street, to the site of St. Paul's, where it is conjectured a temple of Diana stood in Roman times. But Cheap, or West Cheap, was the chief traffic way westward in Elizabethan London; it was filled with shops and warehouses, a thriving business centre, the pride of the city. The name of "Cheap" was derived from the market, and several of the streets leading into it yet bear names which in Elizabethan times were descriptive of the trades there carried on. Thus the Poultry was the poulterers' market; ironmongers had their shops in Ironmonger Lane, as formerly they had their stalls in the same area; in Milk Street were the dairies; and towards the west end of Cheap was Bread Street, the market of the bakers, and Friday Street, where fishmongers predominated. Lying between these two streets, with frontages in both, was the Mermaid Tavern, the chief resort of "the breed of excellent and choice wits," included by Camden among the glories of Elizabethan London. Stow does not refer to the Mermaid by name, but possibly he had it in mind when he wrote the following passage: "Bread Street, so called of bread sold there, as I said, is now wholly inhabited by rich merchants; and divers fair inns be there, for good receipt of carriers and other travellers to the city." The trades kept themselves in their special localities, although they did not always give the name to the street they occupied. Thus, to return to the eastern end of Cheap, there was Bucklersbury, where the pepperers or grocers were located, having given up their former quarters in Sopars' Lane to the cordwainers and curriers. With the grocers were mingled apothecaries and herbalists; and hence the protest of Falstaff, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, that he was not "like a many of these lisping hawthorn-buds, that come like women in men's apparel, and smell like Bucklesbury in simple time." In the midst of Cheap, at a point between Mercers' Hall and Old Jewry, opposite the end of Bucklersbury, was the water conduit—in the words of Stow, "The great conduit of sweet water, conveyed by pipes of lead underground from Paddington for the service of this city, castellated with stone, and cisterned in lead." Around the conduit stood the great jars used by the water-carriers to convey the water to the houses. The water-carrier, as a type of Elizabethan London, is preserved by Ben Jonson in the character of Cob in Every Man in his Humour. Going westward from the Conduit, another object stood out in the roadway—the Standard, a tall pillar at which the public executions of the city jurisdiction took place. Still further west, in the midst of Cheap, stood the Eleanor Cross, one of the most beautiful monuments in London at this time.

The Guildhall stood where it stands to-day, accessible from Cheap by Ironmonger Lane and St. Lawrence Lane. Only the walls and the crypt of the original building remain; but the features of this great civic establishment, as well as its sumptuous character and beautiful adornments, were practically the same in the days of Gresham as at the present time. Stow describes the stately porch entering the great hall, the paving of Purbeck marble, the coloured glass windows, and, alas! the library which had been "borrowed" by the Protector Somerset in the preceding reign. Near the Guildhall was the church of St. Mary Aldermanbury, the predecessor of the existing edifice. In this parish dwelt Hemmings and Condell, "fellows" of Shakespeare—that is to say, players of his company, whom he remembered in his will. These men conferred a benefit on all future ages by collecting the poet's plays, seven years after his death, and publishing them in that folio edition which is one of the most treasured volumes in the world. In the churchyard a monument to their memory was erected in 1896. It is surmounted by a bust of the poet, who looks forth serenely greeting the passer-by from beneath the shade of trees in this quiet old churchyard in modern London.

To return to Cheap, it remains to speak of a feature which attracted Queen Elizabeth, and was, indeed, one of the marvels of London. Here are the ipsissima verba  of Stow's contemporary description:

"Next to be noted, the most beautiful frame of fair houses and shops that be within the walls of London, or elsewhere in England, commonly called Goldsmiths' Row, betwixt Bread Street end and the cross in Cheap ... the same was built by Thomas Wood, goldsmith, one of the sheriffs of London, in the year 1491. It containeth in number ten fair dwelling-houses and fourteen shops, all in one frame, uniformly built four stories high, beautified towards the street with the Goldsmiths' arms and the likeness of woodmen, in memory of his name, riding on monstrous beasts, all which is cast in lead, richly painted over and gilt. These he gave to the goldsmiths, with stocks of money, to be lent to young men having those shops. This said front was again new painted and gilt over in the year 1594; Sir Richard Martin being then mayor, and keeping his mayoralty in one of them."

Beyond Goldsmiths' Row was the old Change; the name and the street both still exist. Beyond old Change were seven shops; then St. Augustine's Gate, leading into St. Paul's Churchyard; and then came Paternoster Row. Between Paternoster Row and Newgate Street stood the Church of St. Michael-le-Querne, stretching out into the middle of Cheap, where the statue of Sir Robert Peel now stands. Stretching out from the east end of the church, still further into the street, was a water conduit, which supplied all the neighbourhood hereabout, called "The Little Conduit," not because it was little, but to distinguish it from the great conduit at the other end of Cheap.


We are concerned in this place not with the history of old St. Paul's, nor with the technique of its architecture, but with the great cathedral as a religious and social institution, the centre of Elizabethan London. Here the streams of life were gathered, and hence they radiated. It was the official place of worship of the Corporation; the merchants of the city followed. The monarch on special occasions attended the services; the nobility followed the royal example. The typical Elizabethan made the middle aisle his promenade, where he displayed the finery of his attire and the elegance of his deportment. The satirists found a grand opportunity in the humours of Paul's Walk; but the effect of the cathedral is not to be derived from such allusions in the literature of the time. All classes were attracted by the beautiful organ and the anthems so exquisitely sung by the choir. The impressive size and noble proportions of the building, the soaring height of the nave, the mystery of the open tower, where the ascending vision became lost in gathering obscurity, and where the chords from the organ died away; these spiritual associations, these appeals to the imagination, were uplifting influences so powerful that the vanities of Paul's Walk were negligible by comparison. As with the gargoyle on the outer walls, the prevailing effect was so sublime, that it was merely heightened by this element of the grotesque.[2]

The cathedral stood in the midst of a churchyard. In the mediæval period this was enclosed by a wall. In the reign of Elizabeth the wall still existed, but, as Stow observes, "Now on both sides, to wit, within and without, it be hidden with dwelling-houses." In 1561 the great steeple was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire, but the tower from which the spire arose remained. The tower was 260 feet high, and the height of the spire was the same, so that the pinnacle was 520 feet from the base.[3] Surmounting the pinnacle, in this earlier portion of Elizabeth's reign, was a weathercock, an object of curiosity to which Stow devotes a minute description. In the midst of the churchyard stood Paul's Cross—"a pulpit cross of timber, mounted upon steps of stone and covered with lead, in which are sermons preached every Sunday in the forenoon." Many of the monastic features of the establishment had disappeared; others were transformed and adapted to other uses. The great central fabric remained, and the school flourished—"Paul's School," in the east part of the churchyard, endowed by Dean Colet in 1512, and rebuilt in the later years of Elizabeth, where one hundred and fifty-three poor men's children were given a free education under a master, an usher, and a chaplain.


Newgate Street, Cheapside, Cornhill, Leadenhall, and Aldgate formed (as they do still) nearly a straight line, east and west. From this line to the wall on the north, in Plantagenet and early Tudor times, the city was largely composed of open spaces: chiefly the domains of religious houses; while south of the dividing line to the river the ground was thickly built over. After the Dissolution the transformation of the northern area began.

Considerable building took place in the reign of Edward VI.; but at the time of Elizabeth's accession the generally open character of this area, as compared with the more southerly part of the city, still subsisted. The increase of population, however, due very largely to people who flocked to London from all parts of the country, led to rapid building, which produced the Queen's famous proclamation to stay its further progress. To evade the ordinance, and to meet the ever-increasing demand, large houses were converted into tenements, and a vast number of people were thus accommodated who lived chiefly out-of-doors and took their meals in the taverns, inns, and ordinaries which abounded in all parts of the city. The pressure of demand continued, and the open spaces became gradually built over. The Queen and her government, aghast at the incessant tide of increase, in terror of the plague, recognised the futility of further prohibition, and avoided communication with the city as much as possible. At the slightest hint of plague Her Majesty would start off on one of her Progresses, or betake herself to Richmond, to Hampton Court, or to Greenwich.

Some of these transformations of ancient monastic purlieus may be briefly instanced. Within Newgate was the house and precinct of the Grey Friars. After the Dissolution the whole precinct was presented by Henry to the citizens of London, and here Edward VI. founded the school for poor fatherless children, which became famous as Christ's Hospital, "the Bluecoat school."

Let a short passage from Stow describe this change from the old order to the new:

"In the year 1552 began the repairing of the Greyfriars house for the poor fatherless children; and in the month of November the children were taken into the same, to the number of almost four hundred. On Christmas Day, in the afternoon, while the Lord Mayor and Aldermen rode to Paules, the children of Christ's Hospital stood from St. Lawrence Lane end in Cheape towards Paules, all in one livery of russet cotton, three hundred and forty in number; and in Easter next, they were in blue at the Spittle, and so have continued ever since."

The Greyfriars or Bluecoat school was one of the largest buildings in London. Its demesne extended to the city wall, in which there was a gate communicating with the grounds of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, the famous foundation of Rahere. The wall ran northward from the New Gate, the ground between the school and the wall on that side had been built over. There was a continuous line of building along Newgate Street to St. Martin's le Grand. The shambles or meat market occupied the centre of the street, called St. Nicholas Shambles, from a church which had been demolished since the Reformation.

From Newgate Street and the top of Cheapside to St. Anne's Lane was formerly the territory of the Collegiate Church and Sanctuary of St. Martin's le Grand. The college was dismantled after the edict of dissolution, but the sanctuary remained.

Some of the collegiate buildings had been converted into tenements, and other houses had been erected. These were occupied by "strangers born"—i.e., denizens who were not born Londoners—although within the walls the civic jurisdiction did not extend over this territory. Certain trades were carried on here outside the regulated industry of the city—e.g., tailoring and lace-making. The district became one of the resorts of the Elizabethan ruffler; and under the ægis of the ancient right of sanctuary a kind of Alsatia came into existence, the scene of many exciting episodes when debtors and fugitives from justice evaded their pursuers, and succeeded in reaching these precincts.

In Broad Street the ancient glory of the Augustine Friars was still a memory, and much of their spacious domain had been divided into gardens. The beautiful church remained, but the spire was becoming ruinous from neglect. Stow described the gardens, the gates of the precinct, and the great house which had been built here by William Paulet, first Marquis of Winchester, Lord Treasurer of England, "in place of Augustine friar's house, cloister, gardens, etc." There is an admirable irony in the recital of Stow at this point:

"The friars church he pulled not down, but the west end thereof, inclosed from the steeple and choir, was in the year 1550 granted to the Dutch nation in London, to be their preaching place: the other part—namely, the steeple, choir, and side aisles to the choir adjoining—he reserved to household uses, as for stowage of corn, coal and other things; his son and heir, Marquis of Winchester, sold the monuments of noblemen there buried in great number, the paving stone and whatsoever (which cost many thousands) for one hundred pounds, and in place thereof made fair stabling for horses. He caused the lead to be taken from the roofs, and laid tile in place thereof; which exchange proved not so profitable as he looked for, but rather to his disadvantage."

Between Broad Street and Bishopsgate Street the space was chiefly composed of gardens. One of the houses fronting Bishopsgate Street was the residence of Sir Thomas Gresham (perhaps his house in Lombard Street was reserved for business purposes).

On the opposite side of Bishopsgate Street was Crosby Hall and the precinct of the dissolved nunnery of St. Helen, extending towards St. Mary Axe and the church of St. Andrew Undershaft. At the further end of St. Mary Axe was the "Papye," a building which had been a hospital for poor priests before the Reformation. In the year 1598 Shakespeare was living in the St. Helen's precinct, within the shadow of Crosby Hall, and John Stow, in his home near the church of St. Andrew Undershaft, had just corrected the proofs of the first edition of his Survey of London. Stow tells us about Gresham's House and about Crosby Hall. He tells us that Sir Francis Walsingham, the Secretary of State, resided at the Papye. He describes the church of St. Andrew Undershaft, where his own monument may be seen at the present day; he describes, too, the ancient church of the nunnery of St. Helen, in which a memorial window now commemorates Shakespeare. But he failed to mention the fact, which has since been recovered from the subsidy-roll in the Record Office, that William Shakespeare was a denizen of the precinct in 1598. Had Shakespeare built a water conduit in the neighbourhood, or endowed an almshouse, he might have been celebrated in the pages of John Stow.

They were neighbours, and may have been acquainted. The district had been familiar to Stow from childhood, and he may have entertained the poet as he entertains us in his Survey  with recollections of the changes he had witnessed in his long lifetime. Describing Tower Hill, he recalls the abbey of nuns of the order of St. Clare, called the Minories, and after giving the facts of its history, proceeds:

"In place of this house of nuns is now built divers fair and large storehouses for armour and habiliments of war, with divers workhouses serving to the same purpose: there is a small parish church for inhabitants of the close, called St. Trinities. Near adjoining to this abbey, on the south side thereof, was sometime a farm belonging to the said nunnery; at the which farm I, myself, in my youth, have fetched many a half-penny worth of milk, and never had less than three ale pints for a half-penny in the summer, nor less than one ale quart for a half-penny in the winter, always hot from the kine, as the same was milked and strained. One Trolop, and afterwards Goodman, were the farmers there, and had thirty or forty kine to the pail. Goodman's son being heir to his father's purchase, let out the ground, first for grazing of horses, and then for garden-plots, and lived like a gentleman thereby."

Here we have the source of the name Goodman's Fields, a point of some interest for us; but how vastly more interesting to have rambled with Stow in Elizabethan London, listening to such stories of the old order which had passed, giving place to the new!

We have strayed outside the wall, but not far. This road between Aldgate and the Postern Gate by the Tower, running parallel with the wall, is called the Minories, after the nunnery. Setting our faces towards Aldgate, to retrace our steps, we have the store-houses for armour and habiliments of war on our right; the wide ditch on our left has been filled up, and partly enclosed for cultivation. There are trees, and cows browsing, although the farm which Stow remembered no longer existed. Before us, just outside Aldgate, is the church of St. Buttolph, with its massive tower, standing in a spacious churchyard. Owing to the extensive building and development which had taken place outside the wall since the Reformation, it had been necessary to construct lofts and galleries in this church to accommodate the parishioners. At Aldgate the line of the wall turns westward towards Bishopsgate. Parallel to it a road has been made along the bank of the ditch, and leads into Bishopsgate Street. This is Houndsditch. The houses stand thickly along one side of the way looking towards the wall; the ditch has been filled up, and the wide surface is used for cattle pens or milking stalls.

We will not go along Houndsditch, but turning sharply to the left from St. Buttolph's we pass through Aldgate. In doing so we immediately find ourselves in the midst of the remains of the great priory of Holy Trinity. The road leads southward into Fenchurch Street, branching off on the west into Leadenhall Street. At the junction of these streets stood the hospitium of the priory. Between Leadenhall Street and the city wall, from Aldgate nearly up to St. Andrew Undershaft, lies the ground-plan of the establishment of the Canons Regular, known as Christchurch, or the priory of Holy Trinity, the grandest of all the monastic institutions in Middlesex except Westminster. The heads of the establishment were aldermen of the City of London, representing the Portsoken Ward.

"These priors have sitten and ridden amongst the aldermen of London, in livery like unto them, saving that his habit was in shape of a spiritual person, as I, myself, have seen in my childhood; at which time the prior kept a most bountiful house of meat and drink, both for rich and poor, as well within the house as at the gates, to all comers, according to their estates" (Stow).

In 1531 the King took possession of Christchurch; the canons were sent to other houses of the same order—St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield; St. Mary Overies, Southwark; and St. Mary Spital—"and the priory, with the appurtenances, King Henry gave to Sir Thomas Audley, newly knighted, and after made Lord Chancellor" (Stow). So extensive and so solid was the mass of building that Audley was at a loss to get the space cleared for the new house he wished to build here. He offered the great church of the priory to any one who would take it down and cart away the materials. But as this offer met with no response, Audley had to undertake the destruction himself. Stow could remember how the workmen employed on this work, "with great labour, beginning at the top"—the tower had pinnacles at each corner like the towers at St. Saviour's and St. Sepulchre's—"loosed stone from stone, and threw them down, whereby the most part of them were broken, and few remained whole; and those were sold very cheap, for all the buildings then made about the city were of brick and timber. At that time any man in the city might have a cart-load of hard stone for paving brought to his door for sixpence or sevenpence, with the carriage." Thus, in place of the priory and its noble church, was built the residence of Thomas, Lord Audley, and here he lived till his death in 1544. By marriage of his only daughter and heiress, the house passed into the possession of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and was then called Duke's Place.

Turning our backs upon Duke's Place and continuing a little further along the way by which Stow used to fetch the milk from the farm at the Minories to his father's house on Cornhill, we come to Leadenhall, a great building which served as a public granary in ancient times, and later as the chief market hall of the city. Leaving aside all the particulars of its history which Stow gives, let us note what he tells us from his own recollections:

"The use of Leadenhall in my youth was thus:—In a part of the north quadrant, on the east side of the north gate, were the common beams for weighing of wool and other wares, as had been accustomed; on the west side the gate were the scales to weigh meal; the other three sides were reserved, for the most part, to the making and resting of the pageants showed at Midsummer in the watch; the remnant of the sides and quadrants was employed for the stowage of wool sacks, but not closed up; the lofts above were partly used by the painters in working for the decking of pageants and other devices, for beautifying of the watch and watchmen; the residue of the lofts were letten out to merchants, the wool winders and packers therein to wind and pack their wools. And thus much for Leadenhall may suffice."

The celebration of the Nativity of St. John and the civic pageantry of Midsummer Eve belonged to the past; but Stow could remember the assembly of the citizens arrayed in parti-coloured vestments of red and white over their armour, their lances coloured and decorated to distinguish the various wards they represented, their torches borne in cressets on long poles. He could remember the processions as they passed the bonfires which burned in the open spaces of the city thoroughfares, and the throng of faces at the open windows and casements as they appeared in the fitful glare. The pageantry had disappeared with the suppression of the religious houses; but the military organization was merely changed. The musters of the city soldiers when they were reviewed by Queen Elizabeth at the coming of the Armada was a recent memory.

And so we turn into Bishopsgate Street again, and walk along to Crosby Hall, the ancient palace of Richard III. In the middle of the roadway, opposite the junction of Threadneedle Street with Bishopsgate Street, stands a well, with a windlass, which probably existed here before the conduit was made near the gateway in the time of Henry VIII. We enter the precinct of St. Helen's: the wall of Crosby's great chamber is on our right hand; before us is the church of the nunnery. The spirit of the place is upon us. The barriers of time are removed; past and present mingle in the current of our meditation. Lo! one bids us a courteous farewell: it is Master Stow, our cicerone, who goes away in the direction of St. Andrew Undershaft. The presence of another influence continues to be felt. We enter the dim church, and shadows of kneeling nuns seem to hover in the twilight of the northern nave. Invisible fingers touch the organ-keys; the strains of evensong arise from the choir. Our reverie is broken, an influence recedes from us. But turning our eyes towards the painted picture of Shakespeare which fills the memorial window in this ancient church, we join in the hymn of praise and thanksgiving.


What chiefly impressed the Elizabethan was the newness of London, and the rapidity with which its ancient features were being obliterated. John Stow felt it incumbent upon him to make a record of the ancient city before it was entirely swept away and forgotten. In what was new to him we find a similar interest.

Through Bishopsgate northward lies Shoreditch. The old church which stood here in Elizabethan times has disappeared, but on the site stands another church with the same dedication, to St. Leonard. The sweet peal of the bells from the old belfry, so much appreciated by the Elizabethans, is to be heard no more; but the muniment chest of the modern church contains the old registers, in which we may read the names of Tarleton, Queen Elizabeth's famous jester, of Burbage, and the colony of players who lived in this parish, in the precinct of the dissolved priory of Holywell. The road from Shoreditch to the precinct still exists, known as Holywell Lane.

The priory of St. John Baptist, called Holywell, a house of nuns, had been rebuilt, in the earlier period of the reign of Henry VIII., by Sir Thomas Lovel, K.G., of Lincoln's Inn. He endowed the priory with fair lands, extended the buildings, and added a large chapel. He also built considerably in Lincoln's Inn, including the fine old gateway in Chancery Lane, which still stands as one of the few remaining memorials of ancient London. Sir Thomas figures as one of the characters in Shakespeare's play of Henry VIII. When he died he was duly buried in the large chapel which he had added to Holywell Priory, in accordance with his design; but a few years later, in 1539, the priory was surrendered to the King and dissolved. Stow tells us that the church was pulled down—it is doubtful if Lovel's chapel was spared—and that many houses were built within the precinct "for the lodgings of noblemen, of strangers born, and others."

In the first edition of his Survey  Stow added:—

"And near thereunto are builded two publique houses for the acting and shewe of comedies, tragedies and histories, for recreation. Whereof one is called the Courtein, and the other the Theatre; both standing on the south west side towards the field."

This passage was omitted from the second edition of the book published in 1603; but the whole extensive history of these playhouses, which was won from oblivion by the research of J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, proceeded from this brief testimony of Stow.

Against the background of the ancient priory this precinct of Holywell presented a perfect picture of the new conditions which constituted what was distinctively Elizabethan London. It comprehended the conditions of freedom required by the new life. Outside the jurisdiction of the city, but within the protection of the justices of Middlesex; lying open to the common fields of Finsbury, where archery and other sports were daily practised; its two playhouses affording varied entertainment in fencing matches, wrestling matches, and other "sports, shows, and pastimes," besides stage-plays performed by the various acting companies which visited them; this precinct of Holywell presented a microcosm of Elizabethan London society. The attraction of the plays brought visitors from all parts of the city. On the days when dramatic performances were to be given flags were hoisted in the morning over the playhouses; and after the early midday dinner the stream of playgoers began to flow from the gates. On horseback and on foot, over the fields from Cripplegate and Moorgate, or along the road from Bishopsgate, came men and women, citizens and gallants, visitors from the country, adventurers and pickpockets. All classes and conditions mingled in the Theatre or the Curtain, in the "common playhouses," as they were called, which only came into existence in 1576, after the players had been banished from the city. It was all delightfully new and modern; the buildings were gorgeously decorated; the apparel of the players was rich and dazzling; the music was enthralling; the play was a magic dream.

Some of the plays of Marlowe were performed at these Holywell theatres; and in 1596 a play by the new poet, William Shakespeare, called Romeo and Juliet, was produced at the Curtain, and caused a great sensation in Elizabethan London. The famous balcony scene of this play was cleverly adapted to the orchestra gallery above the stage. The stage itself projected into the arena, and the "groundlings" stood around it. Above were three tiers of seated galleries, and near the stage were "lords' rooms," the precursors of the private boxes of a later time.


After the Theatre and Curtain had become a feature of Elizabethan London at Shoreditch, other playhouses came into existence on the other side of the river; first at Newington, outside the jurisdiction of the city, in conditions corresponding to those of Shoreditch. For the sports and pastimes of Finsbury Fields, in the neighbourhood of the playhouses, there were the sports and pastimes of St. George's Fields in the neighbourhood of the Newington Theatre. Playgoers from the city took boat to Paris Garden stairs and witnessed the bear-baiting on Bankside, or proceeded by road on horseback or on foot to St. George's Fields and Newington; or they went thither over the bridge all the way by road, walking or riding. The use of coaches was very limited, owing to the narrow roads and imperfect paving of Elizabethan London.

Shooting Match by the London Archers in the Year 1583.

At Newington the proprietor and manager of the playhouse was Philip Henslowe, whose diary is the chief source of what information we have concerning the earlier period of Elizabethan drama. He was a man of business instinct, who conducted his dramatic enterprise on purely commercial lines. In 1584 he secured the lease of a house and two gardens on Bankside, and here, in the "liberty" of the Bishop of Winchester, nearer to the city but outside the civic jurisdiction, he erected his playhouse, called the Rose, in 1591. Henslowe thus brought the drama nearer to the city than it had been since the edict of 1575 abolished the common stages which until then had been set up in inn yards or other convenient places in the city. The flag of the playhouse could be seen across the river; and from all points came the tide of playgoers, whose custom was a harvest to Henslowe and the Thames watermen.

Midway between these two points of theatrical attraction—Holywell, Shoreditch on the north, and Newington and Bankside on the south—Shakespeare lodged in the precinct of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate. The company of players with whom he had become finally associated was that of the Lord Chamberlain. They derived their profits from three sources—from performances at court, from theatrical tours, and from performances at the Theatre and the Curtain. The Theatre was the property of the family of James Burbage, who had built it in 1576—his son Richard Burbage, the famous actor, and others. The interest of the proprietors may have suffered from Henslowe's enterprise in setting up a playhouse on Bankside; and they were in dispute with the ground landlord of their playhouse in regard to the renewal of their lease. In these circumstances the Burbages, with the co-operation of other members of the company, secured a site in the Winchester Liberty on Bankside, not far from the Rose but nearer the Bridge. They then took down their building in Holywell, vacated the land, and re-erected the playhouse on the other side of the river. Those who participated in this enterprise became "sharers," or partners, in the new playhouse. Shakespeare was one of these, and the name by which it was called—the Globe—was symbolical of the genius which reached its maturity in plays presented in this theatre during the closing years of the reign of Elizabeth and the first decade of the reign of her successor. "Totus mundus agit histrionem" was the inscription over the portal of the Globe. "All the world's a stage," said Shakespeare's Jaques in As You Like It. The life of Elizabethan London found its ultimate expression in that playhouse, which became celebrated then as "the glory of the Bank," and now is famous in all parts of the world where the glory of English literature is cherished.


There were many reminiscences of mediæval times on the Surrey side. At Bermondsey were to be seen the extensive remains of the great abbey of St. Saviour. After the Dissolution its name became transferred to the church near the end of London Bridge, formerly known as St. Mary Overies, the splendid fane which in our time has worthily become the cathedral of Southwark. Between this church and the church of St. George were many inns, among them the Tabard, where travellers to and from Canterbury and Dover, or Winchester and Southampton, introduced an element of novelty, change, and bustle; where plays were performed in the inn yards before the playhouses were built on Bankside. At the end of Bankside, looking towards the church of St. Saviour, stood Winchester House, the London residence of the Bishop of Winchester since the twelfth century. Here Cardinal Beaufort and Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, had lived in great state. The site, including the park, which extended parallel with the river as far as Paris Garden, was formerly the property of the priory of Bermondsey. This area was under the separate jurisdiction of the Bishops of Winchester, and was called their "Liberty." Here, in the early years of Queen Elizabeth, were two amphitheatres—one for bull-baiting,the other for bear-baiting. There were also ponds for fish, called the Pike Ponds.[4] The great Camden records an anecdote of these ponds or stews, "which are here to feed Pikes and Tenches fat, and to scour them from the strong and muddy fennish taste." All classes delighted in the cruel sport of bear-baiting on the Bankside: ambassadors and distinguished foreigners were always conducted to these performances; on special occasions the Queen had them at the palace.

In 1583 one of the amphitheatres fell down, and when re-erected it was built on the model of the playhouses.[5] It then became known as the Bear Garden; the bull-baiting amphitheatre dropped out of existence; perhaps it was reconstructed by Henslowe as his Rose theatre. The point is not of much importance, except as regards the evolution of the playhouse.

The second playhouse built on the Surrey side after the Rose was the Swan, opened in 1596. This was erected on a site in the manor of Paris Garden, separated only by a road from the Liberty of Winchester. The playhouse was in a line with the landing-stairs, opposite Blackfriars.

After the Globe playhouse was built in 1599, the other playhouses—Henslowe's Rose and Langley's Swan—ceased to flourish. Here the outward facts corresponded with the inward: a lovely flower had opened into bloom on the Bankside; what was unnecessary to its support drooped earthward like a sheath.


Opposite Paris Garden, across the river, was Blackfriars; and here the change from the ancient order to what was distinctively Elizabethan London was most manifest. The ancient monastery had existed here from 1276, when the Dominican or Black Friars moved hither from Holborn, until 1538, when the establishment was surrendered to King Henry VIII. It possessed a magnificent church, a vast palatial hall, and cloisters. Edward VI. had granted the whole precinct, with its buildings, to Sir Thomas Cawarden, the Master of the Revels. It became an aristocratic residential quarter; and in the earlier period of Queen Elizabeth's reign plays were performed here, probably in the ancient hall of the monastery, by the children of Her Majesty's chapel and the choir-boys of St. Paul's. At a later period—viz., in 1596—James Burbage, who built the theatre in Shoreditch, built a new playhouse in the precinct, or more probably adapted an existing building—the hall or part of the church—to serve the purpose of dramatic representation. This playhouse, consequently, was not open to the weather at the top like the common playhouses, and it was distinguished as the "private" theatre at Blackfriars.

The west wall of the precinct was built along the bank of the Fleet river. Across the river opposite was the royal palace of Bridewell, which Edward VI. had given to the city of London to be a workhouse for the poor and a house of correction. This contiguity of a house for the poor and the remains of a monastery suggests a reflection on the social problem of Elizabethan London.

Before the Reformation the religious houses were the agencies for the relief of the poor, the sick, the afflicted. The unemployed were assisted with lodging and food on their way as they journeyed in search of a market for their labour, paying for their entertainment at the religious houses by work either on the roads in the neighbourhood or on the buildings or in the gardens and fields, according to their trades and skill. It would seem that King Henry did not realise the importance and extent of this feature in the social economy, because, after he had suppressed the religious establishments, he complained very reproachfully of the number of masterless men and rogues that were everywhere to be found, especially about London. The good Bishop Ridley, in an eloquent appeal addressed to William Cecil, represented the poor and sick and starving in the streets of London in the person of Christ, beseeching the king to succour the poor and suffering Christ in the streets of London by bestowing his palace of Bridewell to be a home for the homeless, the starving, and the sick, where erring ones could be corrected and the good sustained. The good young monarch granted the bishop's request, and Bridewell Hospital was thus founded to do the social work in which Blackfriars monastery on the other side of the Fleet river had formerly borne its share. But single efforts of this kind were quite unequal to cope with the social difficulty; and early in the reign of Elizabeth the first Poor Law was passed and a system of relief came into operation.

To meet the difficulty of unemployment, it was part of the policy of Queen Elizabeth's Government to encourage new industries, whether due to invention and discovery or to knowledge gained by visiting foreign countries to learn new processes and manufactures; the inventor or the introducer of the novelty was rewarded with a monopoly, and he received a licence "to take up workmen" to be taught the methods of the new industry. One of the manufactures which had been thus stimulated was glass-making; and in the precinct of Blackfriars was a famous glass-house or factory, a reminiscence of which still exists in the name Glasshouse Yard. It has been shown how the crafts and trades of Elizabethan London gravitated to separate areas: Blackfriars precinct was famous as the abode of artists; one may hazard the guess that some of the portraits of Elizabethan and Jacobean players in the Dulwich Gallery may have been painted here. In the reign of Charles I. Vandyke had his studio in Blackfriars, where the king paid him a visit to see his pictures. The precinct was famous also as the abode of glovers; and in the reigns of James and Charles it became a notorious stronghold of Puritans. The existing name of Playhouse Yard, at the back of The Times  newspaper office, affords some indication of the site of the theatre; and the name Cloister Court is the sole remnant of the cloisters of Blackfriars monastery.

The eastern boundary of the precinct was St. Andrew's Hill, which still exists. On the site of the present church of St. Andrew in the Wardrobe stood a church of the same dedication in Elizabethan London. Stow wrote of "the parish church of St. Andrew in the Wardrobe, a proper church, but few monuments hath it." Near the church (the site being indicated by the existing court called the Wardrobe) was a building of State, which Stow calls "the King's Great Wardrobe." The Elizabethan use of the Wardrobe is described by Stow thus: "In this house of late years is lodged Sir John Fortescue, knight, master of the wardrobe, chancellor and under-treasurer of the exchequer, and one of her majesty's most honorable privy Council."

Near the top of St. Andrew's Hill and within the precinct of Blackfriars was a house which Shakespeare purchased in 1613. It is described in the extant Deed of Conveyance as "now or late being in the tenure or occupation of one William Ireland ... abutting upon a street leading down to Puddle Wharf on the east part, right against the Kinges Majesties Wardrobe." Curiously enough, the name of this occupier survives in the existing Ireland Yard.

Envoy

The omissions in this imperfect sketch of Elizabethan London are many and obvious. The design has been to show the tangible setting of a jewel rather than the jewel itself; the outward conditions in which the life of a new age was manifested. The background of destruction has been inevitably emphasised; but in Elizabethan London historic memorials existed on every hand. Nothing has been said of Baynard's Castle, its Norman walls rising from the margin of the river to the south of Blackfriars, or of St Bartholomew the Great, or the Charterhouse, or St. Giles's, Cripplegate; although an account of them would have completed the outer ring of our perambulation of the London described by Stow. The whole region westward—Holborn, Fleet Street, the Strand, and Westminster—has been left for another occasion. Here and there, however, we have been able to glance at historic buildings which had survived from earlier ages to witness the changes in London after the Reformation. It was those changes that led to the making of the playhouse and brought the conditions which enfolded the possibility realised in Shakespeare. This has been the point of view in the foregoing pages. A study of characteristics rather than a detailed account has been offered for the consideration of the reader.

[1]Thomas Dekker, the pamphleteer and dramatist, describes the Exchange as it was in 1607, when "at every turn a man is put in mind of Babel, there is such a confusion of languages"; and as late as 1644 the picturesque dresses of the foreign merchants appear in an engraving by Hollar.

[2]Camden speaks of "this so stately building," and in his terse fashion conveys the effect of the interior: "The west part, as also the Cross-yle, are spacious, high-built, and goodly to be seene by reason of the huge Pillars and a right beautiful arched Roof of stone."

[3]This is Stow's figure. Camden gives the measurement as 534 feet.

[4]The name survives in Pike Gardens, Bankside.

[5]See the "Bear-house" near the "Play-house" (i.e., the Rose) in Norden's plan, 1593.

Pepys's London

By Henry B. Wheatley, F.S.A.

he growth of population in London was almost stationary for many centuries; as, owing to the generally unhealthy condition of ancient cities, the births seldom exceeded the deaths, and in the case of frequent pestilences the deaths actually exceeded the births. Thus during its early history the walls of London easily contained its inhabitants, although at all times in its history London will be found to have taken a higher rank for healthy sanitary conditions than most of its continental contemporaries. In the later Middle Ages the city overflowed its borders, and its liberties were recognized and marked by Bars. Subsequently nothing was done to bring the further out-growths of London proper within the fold, and in Tudor times we first hear of the suburbs as disreputable quarters, a condemnation which was doubtless just, as the inhabitants mostly consisted of those who were glad to escape the restrictions of life within the city walls.

The first great exodus westwards of the more aristocratic inhabitants of London took place in the reigns of James I. and Charles I.—first to Lincoln's Inn Fields and its neighbourhood, and then to Covent Garden, and both these suburbs were laid out by Inigo Jones, the greatest architect of beautiful street fronts that England has ever produced. It is an eternal disgrace to Londoners that so many of his noble buildings in Lincoln's Inn Fields have been destroyed. The period of construction of these districts is marked by the names of Henrietta and King Streets in Covent Garden, and Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields.

After the Restoration modern London was founded. During the Commonwealth there had been a considerable stagnation in the movement of the population, and when the Royalists returned to England from abroad they found their family mansions in the city unfitted for their habitation, and in consequence established themselves in what is now the city of Westminster. Henry Jermyn, first Earl of St. Albans, began to provide houses for some of them in St. James's Square, and buildings in the district around were rapidly proceeded with.

We have a faithful representation of London, as it appeared at the end of the Commonwealth period, in Newcourt and Faithorne's valuable Plan of London, dated 1658. A long growth of houses north of the Thames is seen stretching from the Tower to the neighbourhood of Westminster Abbey. Islington is found at the extreme north of the plan unconnected with the streets of the town, Hoxton connected with the city by Shoreditch, Bethnal Green almost alone, and Stepney at the extreme north-east. South of the Thames there are a few streets close to the river, and a small out-growth from London Bridge along the great southern road containing Southwark and Bermondsey. There is little at Lambeth but the Archbishop's Palace and the great marsh.

On this plan we see what was the condition of the Haymarket and Piccadilly before the Restoration. This was soon to be changed, for between the years 1664 and 1668 were erected three great mansions in the "Road to Reading" (now Piccadilly), viz., Clarendon House (where Bond and Albemarle Streets now stand), Berkeley House (on the site now occupied by Devonshire House), and Burlington House. Piccadilly was the original name of the district after which Piccadilly Hall was called. The latter place was situated at the north-east corner of the Haymarket, nearly opposite to Panton Square, and close by Panton Street, named after Colonel Thomas Panton, the notorious gamester, who purchased Piccadilly Hall from Mrs. Baker, the widow of the original owner.

There is much to be said in favour of associating the name of some well-known man with the London of his time, and thus showing how his descriptions illustrate the chief historical events of his time, with many of which he may have been connected. In the case of Samuel Pepys, we can see with his eyes many of the incidents of the early years of the Restoration period, and thus gain an insight into the inner life of the times. Pepys lived through some of the greatest changes that have passed over London, and in alluding to some of these we may quote his remarks with advantage. His friend, John Evelyn, also refers to many of the same events, and may also be quoted, more particularly as he was specially engaged at different periods of his life in improving several parts of London.

We are truly fortunate in having two such admirable diarists at hand to help us to a proper understanding of the course of events and of the changes that took place in London during their long lives.

When Pepys commenced his Diary  on January 1st, 1660, we find him living in a small house in Axe Yard, Westminster, a place which derived its name from a brewhouse on the west side of King Street, called "The Axe." He was then clerk to Mr. (afterwards Sir George) Downing, one of the Four Tellers of the Receipt of the Exchequer, from whom Downing Street obtained its name. Pepys was in the receipt of £50 a year, and his household was not a large one, for it consisted of himself, his wife, and his servant Jane. He let the greater part of the house, and his family lived in the garrets. About 1767 Axe Yard was swept away, and Fludyer Street arose on its site, named after Sir Samuel Fludyer, who was Lord Mayor in 1761. Nearly a century afterwards (1864-65) this street also was swept away (with others) to make room for the Government offices, consisting of the India, Foreign and Colonial Offices, etc., so that all trace of Pepys's residence has now completely passed away.

Macaulay, in the famous third chapter of his History, where he gives a brilliant picture of the state of England in 1685, and clearly describes London under the later Stuarts, writes: "Each of the two cities which made up the capital of England had its own centre of attraction." We may take this sentence as our text, and try to illustrate it by some notices of London life in the city and at the Court end of town. The two extremes were equally familiar to Pepys, and both were seen by him almost daily when he stepped into his boat by the Tower and out of it again at Westminster.

To take the court life first, let us begin with the entry of the King into London on his birthday (May 29th, 1660). The enthusiastic reception of Charles II. is a commonplace of history, and from the Tower to Whitehall joy was exhibited by all that thronged the streets. Evelyn was spectator of the scene, which he describes in his Diary :—

"May 29th. This day his Majestie Charles the Second came to London after a sad and long exile and calamitous suffering both of the King and Church, being 17 yeares. This was also his birthday, and with a triumph of above 20,000 horse and foote, brandishing their swords and shouting with inexpressible joy; the wayes strew'd with flowers, the bells ringing, the streetes hung with tapissry, fountaines running with wine; the Maior, Aldermen and all the Companies in their liveries, chaines of gold and banners; Lords and nobles clad in cloth of silver, gold and velvet; the windowes and balconies all set with ladies; trumpets, music and myriads of people flocking, even so far as Rochester, so as they were seven houres in passing the citty, even from 2 in y e  afternoon till 9 at night.

"I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and bless'd God. And all this was done without one drop of blood shed, and by that very army which rebell'd against him; but it was y e Lord's doing, for such a restauration was never mention'd in any history antient or modern, since the returne of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; nor so joyfull a day and so bright ever seene in this nation, this hapning when to expect or effect it was past all human policy."

One of the brilliant companies of young and comely men in white doublets who took part in the procession was led by Simon Wadlow, the vintner and host of the "Devil" tavern. This was the son of Ben Jonson's Simon Wadlow, "Old Simon the King," who gave his name to Squire Western's favourite song. From Rugge's curious MS. Diurnal  we learn how the young women of London were not behind the young men in the desire to join in the public rejoicings:—

"Divers maidens, in behalf of themselves and others, presented a petition to the Lord Mayor of London, wherein they pray his Lordship to grant them leave and liberty to meet his Majesty on the day of his passing through the city; and if their petition be granted that they will all be clad in white waistcoats and crimson petticoats, and other ornaments of triumph and rejoicing."

Pepys was at sea at this time with Sir Edward Montagu, where the sailors had their own rejoicings and fired off three guns, but he enters in his Diary : "This day, it is thought, the King do enter the city of London."

Charles, immediately on his arrival in London, settled himself in the Palace of Whitehall, which was his chief place of residence during the whole of his reign, but although he was very much at home in it, he felt keenly the inconveniences attending its situation by the river side, which caused it frequently to be flooded by high tides.

The King alludes to this trouble in one of his amusingly chatty speeches to the House of Commons on March 1st, 1661-62, when arrangements were being made for the entry of Katharine of Braganza into London. He said:—

"The mention of my wife's arrival puts me in mind to desire you to put that compliment upon her, that her entrance into the town may be with more decency than the ways will now suffer it to be; and for that purpose, I pray you would quickly pass such laws as are before you, in order to the amending those ways, and that she may not find Whitehall surrounded by water."

A View of London as it appeared before the Great Fire.

From an old print.

1 St. Paul's.
2 St. Dunstan's.
3 Temple.
4 St. Bride's.
5 St. Andrew's.
6 Baynard's Castle.
7 St. Sepulchre's.
8 Bow Church.
9 Guildhall.
10 St. Michael's.
11 St. Laurence, Poultney.
12 Old Swan.
13 London Bridge.
14 St. Dunstan's East.
15 Billingsgate.
16 Custom House.
17 Tower.
18 Tower Wharf.
19 St. Olave's.
20 St. Saviour's.
21 Winchester House.
22 The Globe.
23 The Bear Garden.
24 Hampstead.
25 Highgate.
26 Hackney.

In the following year we read in Pepys's Diary  a piquant account of the putting out of Lady Castlemaine's kitchen fire on a certain occasion when Charles was engaged to sup with her:—

"October 13th, 1663. My Lady Castlemaine, I hear, is in as great favour as ever, and the King supped with her the very first night he came from Bath: and last night and the night before supped with her; when there being a chine of beef to roast, and the tide rising into their kitchen that it could not be roasted there, and the cook telling her of it, she answered, 'Zounds! she must set the house on fire, but it should be roasted!' So it was carried to Mrs. Sarah's husband's, and there it was roasted."

The last sentence requires an explanation. Mrs. Sarah was Lord Sandwich's housekeeper, and Pepys had found out in November, 1662, that she had just been married, and that her husband was a cook. We are not told his name or where he lived.

Lord Dorset, in the famous song, "To all you ladies now on land," specially alludes to the periodical inundations at the Palace:—

"The King, with wonder and surprise,Will swear the seas grow bold;Because the tides will higher rise Than e'er they did of old;But let him know it is our tears Bring floods of grief to Whitehall stairs."

Pepys was a constant visitor to Whitehall, and the Index to the Diary  contains over three pages of references to his visits. He refers to Henry VIII.'s Gallery, the Boarded Gallery, the Matted Gallery, the Shield Gallery, and the Vane Room. Lilly, the astrologer, mentions the Guard Room. The Adam and Eve Gallery was so called from a picture by Mabuse, now at Hampton Court. In the Matted Gallery was a ceiling by Holbein, and on a wall in the Privy Chamber a painting of Henry VII. and Henry VIII., with their Queens, by the same artist, of which a copy in small is preserved at Hampton Court. On another wall was a "Dance of Death," also by Holbein, of which Douce has given a description; and in the bedchamber of Charles II. a representation by Joseph Wright of the King's birth, his right to hisdominions, and miraculous preservation, with the motto, Terras Astræa revisit.

All these rooms, and most of the lodgings of the many residents, royal and non-royal, were in the portion of the Palace situated on the river side of the road, now known as Whitehall. This road was shut in by two gates erected by Henry VIII. when he enlarged the borders of the Palace after he had taken it from Wolsey. The one at the Westminster end was called the King Street gate, and the other, at the north end, designed by Holbein, was called by his name, and also Whitehall or Cock-pit gate.

It is necessary to remember that Whitehall extended into St. James's Park. The Tilt Yard, where many tournaments and pageants were held in the reigns of Henry VIII., Elizabeth, and James I., fronted the Banqueting House, and occupied what is now the Horse Guards' Parade. On the south side of the Tilt Yard was the Cockpit, where Monk, Duke of Albemarle, lived for a time. His name was given to a tavern in the Tilt Yard ("The Monk's Head").

On the north side was Spring Gardens, otherwise the King's Garden, but it subsequently became a place of public entertainment, and after the Restoration it was styled the Old Spring Garden; then the ground was built upon, and the entertainments removed to the New Spring Garden at Lambeth, afterwards called Vauxhall.

The Cockpit was originally used for cock-fighting, but it cannot be definitely said when it ceased to be employed for this cruel sport. It was for a considerable time used as a royal theatre, and Malone wrote:—

"Neither Elizabeth, nor James I., nor Charles I., I believe, ever went to the public theatre, but they frequently ordered plays to be performed at Court, which were represented in the royal theatre called the Cockpit."

Malone is probably incorrect in respect to Elizabeth's use of the Cockpit, for certainly cock-fighting was practised here as late as 1607, as may be seen from the following entry in the State Papers:—

"Aug. 4th, 1607. Warrant to pay 100 marks per annum to William Gateacre for breeding, feeding, etc., the King's game cocks during the life of George Coliner, Cockmaster."[1]

It is, of course, possible that the players and the cocks occupied the place contemporaneously.

The lodgings at the Cockpit were occupied by some well-known men. Philip Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, saw Charles I. pass from St. James's to the scaffold at the Banqueting House from one of his windows, and he died in these apartments on January 23rd, 1650. Oliver Cromwell, when Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, was given, by order of Parliament, "the use of the lodgings called the Cockpit, of the Spring Garden and St. James's House, and the command of St. James's Park," and when Protector, and in possession of Whitehall Palace, he still retained the Cockpit. When in 1657 he relaxed some of the prohibitions against the Theatre, he used the Cockpit stage occasionally for instrumental and vocal music.

A little before the Restoration the apartments were assigned to General Monk, and Charles II. confirmed the arrangement. Here he died, as Duke of Albemarle, on January 3rd, 1670. In 1673 George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, became a resident, and at the Revolution of 1688 the Princess Anne was living here.

There has been some confusion in respect to the references to the Cockpit in Pepys's Diary, as two distinct theatres are referred to under this name. The references before November, 1660, are to the performances of the Duke's Company at the Cockpit in Drury Lane. Here Pepys saw the "Loyal Subject," "Othello," "Wit without Money," and "The Woman's Prize or Tamer Tamed." The subsequent passages in which the Cockpit is referred to apply to the royal theatre attached to Whitehall Palace. Here Pepys saw "The Cardinal," "Claricilla," "Humorous Lieutenant," "Scornful Lady," and the "Valiant Cid." It is useful to remember that the performances at Whitehall were in the evening, and those at the public theatre in the afternoon.

The buildings of the Old Whitefriars Palace by the river side were irregular and unimposing outside, although they were handsome inside. The grand scheme of Inigo Jones for rebuilding initiated by James I., and occasionally entertained by Charles I. and II. and William III., came to nothing, but the noble Banqueting House remains to show what might have been.

The Rev. Dr. Sheppard, in his valuable work on The Old Palace of Whitehall  (1902), refers to Grinling Gibbons's statue of James II., which for many years stood in the Privy Garden, and is one of the very few good statues in London. He refers to the temporary removal of the statue to the front of Gwydyr House, and writes: "Since the statue has been removed to its present position an inscription (there was none originally) has been placed on its stone pedestal. It runs as follows:—

JACOBUS SECUNDUS
DEI GRATIA ANGLIÆ SCOTIÆ FRANCIÆ
ET HIBERNIÆ REX.
FIDEI DEFENSOR. ANNO MDCLXXXVI."

This, however, is a mistake, and the inscription runs as follows:—

JACOBUS SECUNDUS
DEI GRATIÆ
ANGLIÆ SCOTIÆ
FRANCIÆ ET
HIBERNIÆ
REX
FIDEI DEFENSOR
ANNO MDCLXXXVI

in capitals, and without any stops.

The present writer remembers well being taken as a little boy to read the inscription and find out the error in the Latin. The statue has since been removed to the front of the new buildings of the Admiralty between the Horse Guards' Parade and Spring Gardens, a very appropriate position for a Lord High Admiral. I am happy to see that the inscription has not been altered, and the incorrect "Dei gratiæ" appears as in my youth.

James Duke of York, after the Restoration, occupied apartments in St. James's Palace, and his Secretary of the Admiralty, Sir William Coventry, had lodgings conveniently near him. The Duke sometimes moved from one palace to the other, as his father, Charles I., had done before him. Henrietta Maria took a fancy to the place, and most of their children were born at St. James's, the Duke being one of these.

James's changes of residence are recorded in Pepys's Diary  as follows:—

"Jan. 23rd, 1664-65. Up and with Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen to White Hall; but there finding the Duke gone to his lodgings at St. James's for alltogether, his Duchesse being ready to lie in, we to him and there did our usual business."

"May 3rd, 1667. Up and with Sir J. Minnes, W. Batten and W. Pen in the last man's coach to St. James's, and thence up to the Duke of York's chamber, which as it is now fretted at the top, and the chimney-piece made handsome, is one of the noblest and best-proportioned rooms that ever, I think, I saw in my life."

"May 20th, 1668. Up and with Colonell Middleton in a new coach he hath made him, very handsome, to White Hall, where the Duke of York having removed his lodgings for this year to St. James's we walked thither; and there find the Duke of York coming to White Hall, and so back to the Council Chamber, where the Committee of the Navy sat."

In November, 1667, James fell ill of the smallpox in St. James's Palace, when the gallery doors were locked up. On March 31st, 1671, Anne Duchess of York, the daughter of Clarendon, died here. The Princess Mary was married to William Prince of Orange in November, 1677, at eleven o'clock at night, in the Chapel Royal, and on July 28th, 1683, Princess Anne to Prince George of Denmark, when the pair took up their residence at St. James's.

When James came to the crown he went to live at Whitehall Palace, but he frequently stayed at St. James's. On June 9th, 1688, Queen Mary of Modena was taken to the latter place, and on the following day James Francis Edward, afterwards known as "The Pretender," was born in the Old Bedchamber. This room was situated at the east end of the south front. It had three doors, one leading to a private staircase at the head of the bed, and two windows opposite the bed.[2]

The room was pulled down previous to the alterations made in the year 1822.

The anecdote of Charles II. and the chaplains of the Chapel Royal is often quoted, but it is worth repeating, as it shows the ready wit of the great preacher, Dr. South. A daily dinner was prepared at the Palace for the chaplains, and one day the King notified his intention of dining with them. There had been some talk of abolishing this practice, and South seized the opportunity of saying grace to do his best in opposition to the suggestion; so, instead of the regular formula, which was "God save the King and bless the dinner," said "God bless the King and save the dinner." Charles at once cried out, "And it shall be saved."

The Duke of York and the King were fond of wandering about the park at all hours, and as Charles often walked by himself, even as far as the then secluded Constitution Hill, James having expressed fears for his safety, the elder brother made the memorable reply: "No kind of danger, James, for I am sure no man in England will take away my life to make you king."

Pepys tells us on March 16th, 1661-2, that while he was walking in the park he met the King and Duke coming "to see their fowl play."

Cosmo III., Grand Duke of Tuscany (then Hereditary Prince), made a "Tour through England" in 1669, and it will be remembered that Macaulay found the account of his travels a valuable help towards obtaining a picture of the state of England in the middle of the seventeenth century. Cosmo thus describes St. James's Park:—

"A large park enclosed on every side by a wall, and containing a long, straight, and spacious walk, intended for the amusement of the Mall, on each side of which grow large elms whose shade render the promenade in that place in summer infinitely pleasant and agreeable; close to it is a canal of nearly the same length, on which are several species of aquatic birds, brought up and rendered domestic—the work of the Protector Cromwell; the rest of the park is left uncultivated, and forms a wood for the retreat of deer and other quadrupeds."

His Highness was not quite correct in giving the credit of the collection of wild-fowl to Cromwell, as the water-fowl appear to have been kept in the park from the reign of Elizabeth, and the ponds were replenished after the Restoration.

Evelyn gives a long account in his Diary  of the zoological collections (February 9th, 1664-65). He says:

"The parke was at this time stored with numerous flocks of severall sorts of ordinary and extraordinary wild fowle, breeding about the Decoy, which for being neere so greate a citty, and among such a concourse of souldiers and people, is a singular and diverting thing. There were also deere of several countries, white; spotted like leopards; antelopes, an elk, red deere, roebucks, staggs, guinea goates, Arabian sheepe, etc. There were withy pots or nests for the wild fowle to lay their eggs in, a little above y e  surface of y e  water."

Charles II. was a saunterer by nature, and he appears to have been quite happy in the park either chatting with Nell Gwyn, at the end of the garden of her Pall Mall house, in feeding the fowl, or in playing the game of Mall.

This game was popular from the end of the sixteenth to the beginning of the eighteenth century, and then went out of fashion. At one time there were few large towns without a mall, or prepared ground where the game could be played. There is reason to believe that the game was introduced into England from Scotland on the accession of James VI. to the English throne, because the King names it in his "Basilicon Dōron" among other exercises as suited for his son Henry, who was afterwards Prince of Wales, and about the same time Sir R. Dallington, in his Method of Travel  (1598), expresses his surprise that the sport was not then introduced into England.

The game was played in long shaded alleys, and on dry gravel walks. The mall in St. James's Park was nearly half a mile in length, and was kept with the greatest care. Pepys relates how he went to talk with the keeper of the mall, and how he learned the manner of mixing the earth for the floor, over which powdered cockle-shells were strewn. All this required such attention that a special person was employed for the purpose, who was called the cockle-strewer. In dry weather the surface was apt to turn to dust, and consequently to impede the flight of the ball, so that the cockle-strewer's office was by no means a sinecure. Richard Blome, writing in 1673, asserts that this mall was "said to be the best in Christendom," but Evelyn claims the pre-eminence for that at Tours, with its seven rows of tall elms, as "the noblest in Europe for length and shade." The game is praised by Sir R. Dallington "because it is a gentlemanlike sport, not violent, and yields good occasion and opportunity of discourse as they walke from one marke to the other," and Joseph Lauthier, who wrote a treatise on the subject, entitled Le Jeu de Mail, Paris, 1717 (which is now extremely scarce), uses the same form of recommendation.

The chief requisites for the game were mallets, balls, two arches or hoops, one at either end of the mall, and a wooden border marked so as to show the position of the balls when played. The mallets were of different size and form to suit the various players, and Lauthier directs that the weight and height of the mallet should be in proportion to the strength and stature of the player. The balls were of various sizes and weights, and each size had its distinct name. In damp weather, when the soil was heavy, a lighter ball was required than when the soil was sandy. A gauge was used to ascertain its weight, and the weight of the mallet was adjusted to that of the ball. The arch or pass was about two feet high and two inches wide. The one at the west end of St. James's Park remained in its place for many years, and was not cleared away until the beginning of the reign of George III. In playing the game, the mallet was raised above the head and brought down with great force so as to strike the ball to a considerable distance. The poet Waller describes Charles II.'s stroke in the following lines:—

"Here a well-polished Mall gives us joy,To see our prince his matchless force employ.No sooner has he touch'd the flying ball,But 'tis already more than half the Mall;And such a fury from his arm has got,As from a smoking culverin 'twere shot."

Considerable skill and practice were required in the player, who, while attempting to make the ball skate along the ground with speed, had to be careful that he did not strike it in such a manner as to raise it from the ground. This is shown by what Charles Cotton writes:—

"But playing with the boy at Mall (I rue the time and ever shall),I struck the ball, I know not how,(For that is not the play, you know),A pretty height into the air."

This boy was, perhaps, a caddie, for it will be seen that the game was a sort of cross between golf and croquet.

Lauthier describes four ways of playing at pall mall, viz.:—(1) the rouet, or pool game; (2) en partie, a match game; (3) à grands coups, at long shots; and (4) chicane, or hockey. Moreover, he proposes a new game to be played like billiards.

We may now pass from St. James's Park to Hyde Park, which became a place of public resort in the reigns of James I. and Charles I. It was then considered to be quite a country place. Ben Jonson mentions in the Prologue to his comedy, The Staple of News  (1625), the number of coaches which congregated there, and Shirley describes the horse-races in his comedy entitled Hide Parke  (1637).

The park, being Crown property, was sold by order of Parliament in 1652 for about £17,000 in three lots, the purchasers being Richard Wilcox, John Tracy, and Anthony Deane. Cromwell was a frequent visitor, and on one occasion when he was driving in the park his horses ran away, and he was thrown off his coach.

After the Restoration the park was the daily resort of all the gallantry of the court, and Pepys found driving there very pleasant, although he complained of the dust. The Ring, which is described in Grammont's Memoirs  as "the rendezvous of magnificence and beauty," was a small enclosure of trees round which the carriages circulated.

Pepys writes April 4th, 1663:—

"After dinner to Hide Park ... At the Park was the King and in another coach my Lady Castlemaine, they greeting one another at every tour."

This passage is illustrated in Wilson's Memoirs, 1719, where we are told that when the coaches "have turned for some time round one way, they face about and turn t'other."

John Macky, in his Journey through England  (1724), affirms that in fine weather he had seen above three hundred coaches at a time making "the Grand Tour."

Cosmo tells of the etiquette which was observed among the company:—

"The King and Queen are often there, and the duke and duchess, towards whom at the first meeting and no more all persons show the usual marks of respect, which are afterwards omitted, although they should chance to meet again ever so often, every one being at full liberty, and under no constraint whatever, and to prevent the confusion and disorder which might arise from the great number of lackies and footmen, these are not permitted to enter Hyde Park, but stop at the gate waiting for their masters."

Oldys refers to a poem, printed in sixteen pages, which was entitled "The Circus, or British Olympicks: a Satyr on the Ring in Hyde Park." He says that the poem satirizes many well-known fops under fictitious names, and he raises the number of coaches seen on a fine evening from Macky's three hundred to a thousand. The Ring was partly destroyed at the time the Serpentine was formed by Caroline, Queen of George II.

Although the Ring has disappeared, Hyde Park has remained from the Restoration period until the present day the most fashionable place in London, but now the whole park has been utilized.

Charles II., in reviving the Stage, specially patronised it himself, and it may be referred to here from its connection with the Court. It has already been noticed that previous monarchs did not visit the public theatres.

Pepys was an enthusiastic playgoer, and the Diary  contains a mass of information respecting the Stage not elsewhere to be found, so that we are able to trace the various advances made in the revival of the Stage from the incipient attempt of Davenant before the Restoration to the improvements in scenery introduced by the rivalry of the two managers, Davenant and Killigrew. Immediately after the Restoration two companies of actors were organized, who performed at two different houses. One theatre was known as the King's House, called by Pepys "The Theatre," and the other as the Duke's House, called by Pepys "The Opera." Sir William Davenant obtained a patent for his company as "The Duke's Servants," named after the Duke of York, and Thomas Killigrew obtained one for "The King's Servants."

Killigrew's Company first performed at the "Red Bull," Clerkenwell, and on November 8th removed to Gibbons's Tennis Court in Bear Yard, which was entered from Vere Street, Clare Market. Here the Company remained till 1663, when they removed to Drury Lane Theatre, which had been built for their reception, and was opened on May 7th.

Davenant's Company first performed at the Cockpit, Drury Lane. They began to play at Salisbury Court Theatre on November 13th, 1660, and went to Cobham House, Blackfriars, on the site afterwards occupied by Apothecaries' Hall, in January, 1661. They then removed to the theatre in Portugal Row, built on the site of Lisle's Tennis Court. Rhodes, a bookseller, who had formerly been wardrobe keeper at the Blackfriars, had managed in 1659 to obtain a licence from the State, and John Downes affirms that his company acted at the Cockpit, but apparently he was acting at the Salisbury Court Theatre before Davenant went there. Killigrew, however, soon succeeded in suppressing Rhodes. Davenant planned a new building in Dorset Gardens, which was close to Salisbury Court, where the former theatre was situated. He died, however, before it was finished, but the company removed there in 1671, and the theatre was opened on the 9th of November with Dryden's play, Sir Martin Mar-all, which he had improved from a rough draft by the Duke of Newcastle. Pepys had seen it seven times in the years 1667-68. The Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre remained shut up until February, 1672, when the King's Company, burnt out of Drury Lane Theatre, made use of it till March, 1674, by which time the new building in Brydges Street, Covent Garden, was ready for their occupation.

When Tom Killigrew died in 1682 the King's and the Duke's companies were united, and the Duke's servants removed from Dorset Gardens to Drury Lane. The two companies performed together for the first time on November 16th.

These constant changes are very confusing, and the recital of them is not very entertaining, but it is necessary to make the matter clear for the proper understanding of the history of the time. The plan of the old theatres, with their platform stage, was no longer of use for the altered arrangements introduced at the Restoration. Successive improvements in the form of the houses were made, but we learn from Pepys that it was some time before the roofing of the building was water-tight.

The public theatres were open in the afternoon, three o'clock being the usual hour for performance, and the plays were therefore partly acted in the summer by daylight. It was thus necessary to have skylights, but these were so slight that heavy rain came and wetted those below. On June 1st, 1664, Pepys wrote:—

"Before the play was done it fell such a storm of hail that we in the middle of the pit were fain to rise, and all the house in a disorder."

Davenant was the original planner of the modern stage and its scenery, but Killigrew did his part in the improvement carried out. He was somewhat jealous of his brother manager, and on one occasion he explained to Pepys what he himself had done:—

"Feb. 12th, 1666-67. The stage is now by his pains a thousand times better and more glorious than ever heretofore. Now, wax candles, and many of them; then not above 3 lbs. of tallow: now all things civil, no rudeness anywhere; then as in a bear garden: then two or three fiddlers, now nine or ten of the best: then nothing but rushes upon the ground, and everything else mean; and now all otherwise; then the Queen seldom and the King never would come; now, not the King only for State but all civil people do think they may come as well as any."

Killigrew complained that "the audience at his house was not above half as much as it used to be before the late fire," but in the following year (February 6th, 1667-8) there were crowds at the other house. Pepys relates:—

"Home to dinner, and my wife being gone before, I to the Duke of York's playhouse; where a new play of Etheridge's called 'She Would if she Could,' and though I was there by two o'clock, there were 1,000 people put back that could not have room in the pit."

Pepys's criticisms on the plays he saw acted at these theatres were not always satisfactory, and often they were contradictory. At the same time he was apparently judicious in the disposal of praise and blame on the actors he saw. Betterton was his ideal of the perfect actor, and, so far as it is possible to judge as to one who lived so long ago, public opinion formed by those capable of judging from contemporary report seems to be in agreement with that of Pepys.

Pepys was a great frequenter of taverns and inns, as were most of his contemporaries. There are about one hundred and thirty London taverns mentioned in the Diary, but time has swept away nearly all of these houses, and it is difficult to find any place which Pepys frequented.

These taverns may be considered as a link between the Court end of London and the city, for Pepys distributed his favours between the two places. King Street, Westminster, was full of inns, and Pepys seems to have frequented them all. Two of them—the "Dog" and the "Sun"—are mentioned in Herrick's address to the shade of "Glorious Ben":—

"Ah, Ben!Say how or when Shall we thy guests Meet at these feasts Made at the Sun,The Dog, the Triple Tunne?Where we such clusters had As made us nobly wild, not mad!And yet such verse of thine Outdid the meate, outdid the frolic wine."

The "Three Tuns" at Charing Cross, visited by Pepys, was probably the same house whose sign Herrick changes to "Triple Tun."

Among the Westminster taverns may be mentioned "Heaven" and "Hell," two places of entertainment at Westminster Hall; the "Bull Head" and the "Chequers" and the "Swan" at Charing Cross; the "Cock" in Bow Street and the "Fleece" in York Street, Covent Garden; the "Canary" house by Exeter Change; and the "Blue Balls" in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

The majority of these taverns patronised by Pepys were, however, in the city. There were several "Mitres" in London, but perhaps the most interesting one was that kept in Fenchurch Street by Daniel Rawlinson, a staunch royalist, who, when Charles I. was executed, hung his sign in mourning. Thomas Hearne says that naturally made him suspected by the Roundheads, but "endeared him so much to the Churchmen that he throve amain and got a good estate." His son, Sir Thomas Rawlinson, was Lord Mayor in 1700, and President of Bridewell Hospital. His two grandsons, Thomas and Richard Rawlinson, hold an honourable place in the roll of eminent book collectors. The "Samson" in St. Paul's Churchyard was another famous house, as also the "Dolphin" in Tower Street, a rendezvous of the Navy officers, which provided very good and expensive dinners.

The "Cock" in Threadneedle Street was an old-established house when Pepys visited it on March 7th, 1659-60, and it lasted till 1840, when it was cleared away. In the eighteenth century it was a constant practice for the frequenters of the "Cock" to buy a chop or steak at the butcher's and bring it to be cooked, the charge for which was one penny. Fox's friend, the notorious Duke of Norfolk, known as "Jockey of Norfolk," often bought his chop and brought it here to be cooked, until his rank was discovered.

The meetings of the Royal Society were held at Gresham College in Bishopsgate Street, and then at Arundel House in the Strand, which was lent to the Society by Henry Howard of Norfolk, afterwards Duke of Norfolk. Cosmo of Tuscany visited the latter place for a meeting of the Royal Society, and he gives in his Travels  an interesting account of the manner in which the proceedings were carried out.

There are many references in Pepys's Diary  to the Lord Mayor and the Rulers of the City, and of the customs carried out there.

The Lord Mayor, aldermen, and common councilmen visited Cosmo, who was staying at Lord St. Alban's mansion in St. James's Square. His Highness, having dined with the King at the Duke of Buckingham's, kept the city magnates waiting for a time, but Colonel Gascoyne, "to make the delay less tedious, had accommodated himself to the national taste by ordering liquor and amusing them with drinking toasts, till it was announced that His Highness was ready to give them audience." The description of the audience is very interesting.

Pepys lived in the city at the Navy Office in Seething Lane (opposite St. Olave's, Hart Street, the church he attended) during the whole of the time he was writing his Diary, but when he was Secretary of the Admiralty he went, in 1684, to live at the end of Buckingham Street, Strand, in a house on the east side which looks on to the river.

Mr. John Eliot Hodgkin possesses the original lease (dated September 30th, 1687) from the governor and company of the New River for a supply of water through a half-inch pipe, and four small cocks of brass led from the main pipe in Villiers Street to Samuel Pepys's house in York Buildings, also a receipt for two quarters' rent for the same.[3]

Two of the greatest calamities that could overtake any city occurred in London during the writing of the Diary, and were fully described by Pepys—viz., the Plague of 1665 and the Fire of 1666. Defoe's most interesting history of the plague year was written in 1722 at second hand, for the writer was only two years old when this scourge overran London. Pepys wrote of what he saw, and as he stuck to his duty during the whole time that the pestilence continued, he saw much that occurred.

England was first visited with the plague in 1348-49, which, since 1833 (when Hecker's work on the Epidemics of the Middle Ages  was first published in English), has been styled the Black Death—a translation of the German term "Der Schwarze Tod." This plague had the most momentous effect upon the history of England on account of the fearful mortality it caused. It paralysed industry, and permanently altered the position of the labourer. The statistics of the writers of the Middle Ages are of little value, and the estimates of those who died are various, but the statement that half the population of England died from the plague is probably not far from the truth. From 1348 to 1665 plague was continually occurring in London, but it has not appeared since the last date, except on a small scale. Dr. Creighton gives particulars of the visitations in London in 1603, 1625, and 1665, from which it appears that the mortality in 1665 was more than double that in 1603, and about a third more than that in 1625.

On the 7th of June, 1665, Pepys for the first time saw two or three houses marked with the red cross, and the words "Lord, have mercy upon us" upon the doors, and the sight made him feel so ill-at-ease that he was forced to buy some roll tobacco to smell and chew.[4] On the 27th of this month he writes: "The plague encreases mightily."

According to the Bills of Mortality, the total number of deaths in London for the week ending June 27th was 684, of which number 267 were deaths from the plague. The number of deaths rose week by week until September 19th, when the total was 8,297, and the deaths from the plague 7,165. On September 26th the total had fallen to 6,460, and deaths from the plague to 5,533. The number fell gradually, week by week, till October 31st, when the total was 1,388, and the deaths from the plague 1,031. On November 7th there was a rise to 1,787 and 1,414 respectively. On November 14th the numbers had gone down to 1,359 and 1,050 respectively. On December 12th the total had fallen to 442, and deaths from plague to 243. On December 19th there was a rise to 525 and 281 respectively. The total of burials in 1665 was 97,306, of which number the plague claimed 68,596 victims. Most of the inhabitants of London who could get away took the first opportunity of escaping from the town, and in 1665 there were many places that the Londoner could visit with considerable chance of safety. The court went to Oxford, and afterwards came back to Hampton Court before venturing to return to Whitehall. The clergy and the doctors fled with very few exceptions, and several of those who stayed in town doing the duty of others, as well as their own, fell victims to the scourge.

Queen Elizabeth would have none of these removals. Stow says that in the time of the plague of 1563, "a gallows was set up in the Market-place of Windsor to hang all such as should come there from London."

Dr. Hodges, author of Loimologia, enumerates among those who assisted in the dangerous work of restraining the progress of the infection were the learned Dr. Gibson, Regius Professor at Cambridge; Dr. Francis Glisson, Dr. Nathaniel Paget, Dr. Peter Barwick, Dr. Humphrey Brookes, etc. Of those he mentions eight or nine fell in their work, among whom was Dr. William Conyers, to whose goodness and humanity he bears the most honourable testimony. Dr. Alexander Burnett, of Fenchurch Street, one of Pepys's friends, was another of the victims.

Of those to whom honour is due special mention must be made of Monk, Duke of Albemarle, Evelyn, Pepys, Edmond Berry Godfrey; and there were, of course, others.

The Duke of Albemarle stayed at the Cockpit; Evelyn sent his wife and family to Wotton, but he remained in town himself, and had very arduous duties to perform, for he was responsible for finding food and lodging for the prisoners of war, and he found it difficult to get money for these purposes. He tells in his Diary  how he was received by Charles II. and the Duke of York on January 29th, 1665-6, when the pestilence had partly abated and the court had ventured from Oxford to Hampton Court. The King

"... ran towards me, and in a most gracious manner gave me his hand to kisse, with many thanks for my care and faithfulnesse in his service in a time of such greate danger, when everybody fled their employment; he told me he was much obliged to me, and said he was several times concerned for me, and the peril I underwent, and did receive my service most acceptably (though in truth I did but do my duty, and O that I had performed it as I ought!) After that his Majesty was pleased to talke with me alone, neere an houre, of severall particulars of my employment and ordered me to attend him againe on the Thursday following at Whitehall. Then the Duke came towards me, and embraced me with much kindnesse, telling me if he had thought my danger would have been so greate, he would not have suffered his Majesty to employ me in that station."

Pepys refers, on May 1st, 1667, to his visit to Sir Robert Viner's, the eminent goldsmith, where he saw "two or three great silver flagons, made with inscriptions as gifts of the King to such and such persons of quality as did stay in town [during] the late plague for keeping things in order in the town, which is a handsome thing." Godfrey was a recipient of a silver tankard, and he was knighted by the King in September, 1666, for his efforts to preserve order in the Great Fire. The remembrance of his death, which had so great an influence on the spread of the "Popish Plot" terror, is greater than that of his public spirit during the plague and the fire.

Pepys lived at Greenwich and Woolwich during the height of the plague, but he was constantly in London. How much these men must have suffered is brought very visibly before us in one of the best letters Pepys ever wrote:

"To Lady Casteret, from Woolwich, Sept. 4, 1655. The absence of the court and emptiness of the city takes away all occasion of news, save only such melancholy stories as would rather sadden than find your ladyship any divertissement in the hearing. I have stayed in the city till about 7,400 died in one week, and of them above 6,000 of the plague, and little noise heard day or night but tolling of bells; till I could walk Lumber Street and not meet twenty persons from one end to the other, and not fifty on the Exchange; till whole families have been swept away; till my very physician, Dr. Burnett, who undertook to secure me against any infection, having survived the month of his own house being shut up, died himself of the plague; till the nights, though much lengthened, are grown too short to conceal the burials of those that died the day before, people thereby constrained to borrow daylight for that service; lastly, till I could find neither meat nor drink safe, the butchers being everywhere visited, my brewer's house shut up, and my baker, with his whole family, dead of the plague."

The Great Fire of London.

The view shows Ludgate in the foreground, and in the distance St. Paul's Cathedral and the Tower of St. Mary-le-Bow.

Before the first calamity of pestilence was ended the second calamity of fire commenced. On the night of September 1st, 1666, many houses were destroyed. At three o'clock in the morning of the 2nd (Sunday) his servant Jane awoke Pepys to tell him that a great fire was raging. Not thinking much of the information, he went to sleep again, but when he rose at seven he found that about 300 houses had been burned in the night. He went first to the Tower, and saw the Lieutenant. Then he took boat to Whitehall to see the King. He tells of what he has seen, and says that, unless His Majesty willcommand houses to be pulled down, nothing can stop the fire. On hearing this the King instructs him to go to the Lord Mayor (Sir Thomas Bludworth) and command him to pull down houses in every direction. The Mayor seems to have been but a poor creature, and when he heard the King's message

"... he cried like a fainting woman, 'Lord! what can I do? I am spent: people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses, but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it.'"

Fortunately, most of the Londoners were more vigorous than the Mayor. The King and the Duke of York interested themselves in the matter, and did their best to help those who were busy in trying to stop the fire. Evelyn wrote on September 6th:—

"It is not indeede imaginable how extraordinary the vigilance and activity of the King and the Duke was, even labouring in person, and being present to command, order, reward, or encourage workmen, by which he showed his affection to his people and gained theirs."

Sir William Penn and Pepys were ready in resource, and saw to the blowing up of houses to check the spread of the flames, the former bringing workmen out of the dockyards to help in the work. During the period when it was expected that the Navy Office would be destroyed, Pepys sent off his money, plate, and most treasured property to Sir W. Rider, at Bethnal Green, and then he and Penn dug a hole in their garden, in which they put their wine and parmezan cheese.

On the 10th of September, Sir W. Rider let it be known that, as the town is full of the report respecting the wealth in his house, he will be glad if his friends will provide for the safety of their property elsewhere.

On September 5th, when Evelyn went to Whitehall, the King commanded him

"... among the rest to looke after the quenching of Fetter Lane end, to preserve if possible that part of Holborn, whilst the rest of y e  gentlemen tooke their several posts, some at one part, some at another (for now they began to bestir themselves and not till now, who hitherto had stood as men intoxicated with their hands acrosse) and began to consider that nothing was likely to put a stop but the blowing up of so many houses as might make a wider gap than any had yet been made by the ordinary method of pulling them downe with engines."

The daily records of the fire and of the movements of the people are most striking. Now we see the river crowded with boats filled with the goods of those who are houseless, and then we pass to Moorfields, where are crowds carrying their belongings about with them, and doing their best to keep these separate till some huts can be built to receive them. Soon paved streets and two-storey houses were seen in Moorfields, the city authorities having let the land on leases for seven years.

The wearied people complained that their feet were "ready to burn" through walking in the streets "among the hot coals."

(September 5th, 1666.) Means were provided to save the unfortunate multitudes from starvation, and on this same day proclamation was made

"... ordering that for the supply of the distressed persons left destitute ... great proportions of bread be brought daily, not only to the former markets, but to those lately ordained. Churches and public places were to be thrown open for the reception of poor people and their goods."

Westminster Hall was filled with "people's goods."

On September 7th Evelyn went towards Islington and Highgate

"... where one might have seen 200,000 people of all ranks and degrees dispers'd and lying along by their heapes of what they could save from the fire, deploring their losse, and tho' ready to perish for hunger and destitution yet not asking one penny for reliefe, which to me appear'd a stranger sight than any I had yet beheld."

The fire was fairly got under on September 7th, but on the previous day Clothworkers' Hall was burning, as it had been for three days and nights, in one volume of flame. This was caused by the cellars being full of oil. How long the streets remained in a dangerous condition may be guessed by Pepys's mention, on May 16th, 1666-7, of the smoke issuing from the cellars in the ruined streets of London.

The fire consumed about five-sixths of the whole city, and outside the walls a space was cleared about equal to an oblong square of a mile and a half in length and half a mile in breadth. Well might Evelyn say, "I went againe to y e  ruines for it was no longer a citty" (September 10th, 1666).

The destruction was fearful, and the disappearance of the grand old Cathedral of St. Paul's was among the most to be regretted of the losses. One reads these particulars with a sort of dulled apathy, and it requires such a terribly realistic picture as the following, by Evelyn, to bring the scene home to us in all its magnitude and horror:

"The conflagration was so universal, and the people so astonish'd, that from the beginning I know not by what despondency or fate, they hardly stirr'd to quench it, so that there was nothing heard or seene but crying out and lamentation, running about like distracted creatures without at all attempting to save even their goods; such a strange consternation there was upon them, so as it burned both in breadth and length, the churches, public halls, Exchange, hospitals, monuments and ornaments, leaping after a prodigious manner, from house to house, and streete to streete, at greate distances one from y e  other; for y e  heat with a long set of faire and warm weather had even ignited the aire and prepared the materials to conceive the fire, which devour'd after an incredible manner houses, furniture, and every thing. Here we saw the Thames cover'd with goods floating, all the barges and boates laden with what some had time and courage to save, as, on y e  other, y e  carts, &c., carrying out to the fields, which for many miles were strew'd with moveables of all sorts, and tents erecting to shelter both people and what goods they could get away. Oh the miserable and calamitous spectacle! Such as haply the world had not seene since the foundation of it, nor be outdon till the universal conflagration thereof. All the skie was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a burning oven, and the light seene above 40 miles round about for many nights. God grant mine eyes may never behold the like, who now saw above 10,000 houses all in one flame; the noise and cracking and thunder of the impetuous flames, y e  shrieking of women and children, the hurry of people, the fall of towers, houses and churches was like a hideous storme and the aire all about so hot and inflam'd that at the last one was not able to approach it, so that they were forc'd to stand still and let y e  flames burn on, which they did neere two miles in length and one in breadth. The clouds also of smoke were dismall and reach'd upon computation neer 50 miles in length. Thus I left it this afternoone burning, a resemblance of Sodom, or the last day. It forcibly call'd to mind that passage—non enim hic habemus stabilem civitatem : the ruines resembling the picture of Troy. London was, but is no more."—(Sept. 3rd, 1666.)

Can we be surprised at the bewildered feelings of the people? Rather must we admire the practical and heroic conduct of the homeless multitude. It took long to rebuild the city, but directly anything could be done the workers were up and doing.

An Act of Parliament was passed "for erecting a Judicature for determination of differences touching Houses burned or demolished by reason of the late Fire which happened in London" (18 and 19 Car. II., cap. 7), and Sir Matthew Hale was the moving spirit in the planning it and in carrying out its provisions when it was passed. Burnet affirms that it was through his judgment and foresight "that the whole city was raised out of its ashes without any suits of law" (History of his Own Time, Book ii.). By a subsequent Act (18 and 19 Car. II., cap. 8) the machinery for a satisfactory rebuilding of the city was arranged. The rulings of the judges appointed by these Acts gave general satisfaction, and after a time the city was rebuilt very much on the old lines, and things went on as before.[5] At one time it was supposed that the fire would cause a westward march of trade, but the city asserted the old supremacy when it was rebuilt.

South-West View of Old St. Paul's.

Three great men, thoroughly competent to give valuable advice on the rebuilding of the city, viz., Wren, Robert Hooke, and Evelyn, presented to the King valuable plans for the best mode of arranging the new streets, but none of these schemes was accepted. One cannot but regret that the proposals of the great architect were not carried out.

With the reference to the Plague and the Great Fire we may conclude this brief account of the later Stuart London. The picturesque, but dirty, houses were replaced by healthier and cleaner ones. The West End increased and extended its borders, but the growth to the north of Piccadilly was very gradual. All periods have their chroniclers, but no period has produced such delightful guides to the actual life of the town as the later half of the seventeenth century did in the pages of Evelyn and Pepys. It must ever be a sincere regret to all who love to understand the more intimate side of history that Pepys did not continue his Diary  to a later period. We must, however, be grateful for what we possess, and I hope this slight and imperfect sketch of Pepys's London may refresh the memories of my readers as to what the London of that time was really like.


[1]Cal. State Papers, 1603-10, p. 367.

[2]During the time that the Jacobites were formidable, and long after, it was firmly believed that the Old Pretender was brought into this room as a baby in a warming pan, and plans of the room were common to show how the fraud was committed.

[3]Rariora, vol. i., p. 17.

[4]Originally the crosses were of a blue colour, but Dr. Creighton says that the colour was changed to red before the plague of 1603.

[5]A full account of the fire and of the rebuilding of the city has still to be written, and the materials for the latter are to hand in the remarkable "Fire Papers" in the British Museum. I have long desired to work on this congenial subject, but having been prevented by other duties from doing so, I hope that some London expert will be induced to give the public a general idea of the contents of these valuable collections.