Books and Authors - Curious Facts and Characteristic Sketches
Author: Anonymous
Previous Part     1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

* * * * *


The late Mr. Tegg, the publisher in Cheapside, gave the following list of remunerative payments to distinguished authors in his time; and he is believed to have taken considerable pains to verify the items:

Fragments of History, by Charles Fox, sold by Lord Holland, for 5000 guineas. Fragments of History, by Sir James Mackintosh, 500l. Lingard's History of England, 4683l. Sir Walter Scott's Bonaparte was sold, with the printed books, for 18,000l.; the net receipts of copyright on the first two editions only must have been 10,000l. Life of Wilberforce, by his sons, 4000 guineas. Life of Byron, by Moore, 4000l. Life of Sheridan, by Moore, 2000l. Life of Hannah More, 2000l. Life of Cowper, by Southey, 1000l. Life and Times of George IV., by Lady C. Bury, 1000l. Byron's Works, 20,000l. Lord of the Isles, half share, 1500l. Lalla Rookh, by Moore, 3000l. Rejected Addresses, by Smith, 1000l. Crabbe's Works, republication of, by Mr. Murray, 3000l. Wordsworth's Works, republication of, by Mr. Moxon, 1050l. Bulwer's Rienzi, 1600l. Marryat's Novels, 500l. to 1500l. each. Trollope's Factory Boy, 1800l. Hannah More derived 30,000l. per annum for her copyrights, during the latter years of her life. Rundell's Domestic Cookery, 2000l. Nicholas Nickleby, 3000l. Eustace's Classical Tour, 2100l. Sir Robert Inglis obtained for the beautiful and interesting widow of Bishop Heber, by the sale of his journal, 5000l.

* * * * *


The story of Evelina being printed when the authoress was but seventeen years old is proved to have been sheer invention, to trumpet the work into notoriety; since it has no more truth in it than a paid-for newspaper puff. The year of Miss Burney's birth was long involved in studied obscurity, and thus the deception lasted, until one fine day it was ascertained, by reference to the register of the authoress' birth, that she was a woman of six or seven-and-twenty, instead of a "Miss in her teens," when she wrote Evelina. The story of her father's utter ignorance of the work being written by her, and recommending her to read it, as an exception to the novel class, has also been essentially modified. Miss Burney, (then Madame D'Arblay,) is said to have taken the characters in her novel of Camilla from the family of Mr. Lock, of Norbury Park, who built for Gen. D'Arblay the villa in which the work was written, and which to this day is called "Camilla Lacy." By this novel, Madame D'Arblay is said to have realized 3000 guineas.

* * * * *


Lamb lies buried in Edmonton churchyard, and the stone bears the following lines to his memory, written by his friend, the Rev. H. F. Cary, the erudite translator of Dante and Pindar:—

"Farewell, dear friend!—that smile, that harmless mirth, No more shall gladden our domestic hearth; That rising tear, with pain forbid to flow— Better than words—no more assuage our woe. That hand outstretch'd from small but well-earned store Yield succour to the destitute no more. Yet art thou not all lost: through many an age, With sterling sense and humour, shall thy page Win many an English bosom, pleased to see That old and happier vein revived in thee. This for our earth; and if with friends we share Our joys in heaven, we hope to meet thee there."

Lamb survived his earliest friend and school-fellow, Coleridge, only a few months. One morning he showed to a friend the mourning ring which the author of Christabelle had left him. "Poor fellow!" exclaimed Lamb, "I have never ceased to think of him from the day I first heard of his death." Lamb died in five days after—December 27, 1834, in his fifty-ninth year.

* * * * *


The author of this very successful work, (originally published in Blackwood's Magazine,) was a Mr. Mick Scott, born in Edinburgh in 1789, and educated at the High School. Several years of his life were spent in the West Indies. He ultimately married, returned to his native country, and there embarked in commercial speculations, in the leisure between which he wrote the Log. Notwithstanding its popularity in Europe and America, the author preserved his incognito to the last. He survived his publisher for some years, and it was not till Mr. Scott's death that the sons of Mr. Blackwood were aware of his name.

* * * * *


The royal patent, by which the performance of the regular drama was restricted to certain theatres, does not appear to have fostered this class of writing. Dr. Johnson forced Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer into the theatre. Tobin died regretting that he could not succeed in hearing the Honeymoon performed. Lillo produced George Barnwell (an admirably written play) at an irregular theatre, after it had been rejected by the holders of the patents. Douglas was cast on Home's hands. Fielding was introduced as a dramatist at an unlicensed house; and one of Mrs. Inchbald's popular comedies had lain two years neglected, when, by a trifling accident, she was able to obtain the manager's approval.

* * * * *


Marvellous anecdotes are related of Dr. Thomas Fuller's memory. Thus, it is stated that he undertook once, in passing to and from Temple Bar to the farthest conduit in Cheapside, to tell at his return every sign as they stood in order on both sides of the way, repeating them either backward or forward. This must have been a great feat, seeing that every house then bore a sign. Yet, Fuller himself decried this kind of thing as a trick, no art. He relates that one (who since wrote a book thereof) told him, before credible people, that he, in Sidney College, had taught him (Fuller) the art of memory. Fuller replied that it was not so, for he could not remember that he had ever seen him before; "which, I conceive," adds Fuller, "was a real refutation;" and we think so, too.

* * * * *


Horace Walpole records Lord Hervey's memorable saying about Lord Burlington's pretty villa at Chiswick, now the Duke of Devonshire's, that it was "too small to inhabit, and too large to hang to your watch;" and Lady Louisa Stuart has preserved a piece of dandyism in eating, which even Beau Brummell might have envied—"When asked at dinner whether he would have some beef, he answered, 'Beef? oh, no! faugh! don't you know I never eat beef, nor horse, nor any of those things?'"—The man that said these things was the successful lover of the prettiest maid of honour to the Princess of Wales—the person held up to everlasting ridicule by Pope—the vice-chamberlain whose attractions engaged the affections of the daughter of the Sovereign he served; and the peer whose wit was such that it "charmed the charming Mary Montague."

* * * * *


The following, one of the latest productions of the poet Moore, addressed to the Marquis of Lansdowne, shows that though by that time inclining to threescore and ten, he retained all the fire and vivacity of early youth. It is full of those exquisitely apt allusions and felicitous turns of expression in which the English Anacreon excels. It breathes the very spirit of classic festivity. Such an invitation to dinner is enough to create an appetite in any lover of poetry:—

"Some think we bards have nothing real— That poets live among the stars, so Their very dinners are ideal,— (And heaven knows, too oft they are so:) For instance, that we have, instead Of vulgar chops and stews, and hashes, First course,—a phoenix at the head, Done in its own celestial ashes: At foot, a cygnet, which kept singing All the time its neck was wringing. Side dishes, thus,—Minerva's owl, Or any such like learned fowl; Doves, such as heaven's poulterer gets When Cupid shoots his mother's pets. Larks stew'd in morning's roseate breath, Or roasted by a sunbeam's splendour; And nightingales, be-rhymed to death— Like young pigs whipp'd to make them tender Such fare may suit those bards who're able To banquet at Duke Humphrey's table; But as for me, who've long been taught To eat and drink like other people, And can put up with mutton, bought Where Bromham rears its ancient steeple; If Lansdowne will consent to share My humble feast, though rude the fare Yet, seasoned by that salt he brings From Attica's salinest springs, 'Twill turn to dainties; while the cup, Beneath his influence brightening up, Like that of Baucis, touched by Jove, Will sparkle fit for gods above!"

* * * * *


Cottle, in his Life of Coleridge, relates the following amusing incident:—

"I led the horse to the stable, when a fresh perplexity arose. I removed the harness without difficulty; but, after many strenuous attempts, I could not remove the collar. In despair, I called for assistance, when aid soon drew near. Mr. Wordsworth brought his ingenuity into exercise; but, after several unsuccessful efforts, he relinquished the achievement, as a thing altogether impracticable. Mr. Coleridge now tried his hand, but showed no more grooming skill than his predecessors; for, after twisting the poor horse's neck almost to strangulation and the great danger of his eyes, he gave up the useless task, pronouncing that the horse's head must have grown (gout or dropsy?) since the collar was put on; for he said 'it was a downright impossibility for such a huge os frontis to pass through so narrow a collar!' Just at this instant, a servant-girl came near, and, understanding the cause of our consternation, 'La! master,' said she, 'you don't go about the work in the right way. You should do like this,' when, turning the collar completely upside down, she slipped it off in a moment, to our great humiliation and wonderment, each satisfied afresh that there were heights of knowledge in the world to which we had not yet attained."

* * * * *


Sir John Hawkins, in his "Memoirs of Johnson," ascribes the decline of literature to the ascendancy of frivolous Magazines, between the years 1740 and 1760. He says that they render smatterers conceited, and confer the superficial glitter of knowledge instead of its substance.

Sir Richard Phillips, upwards of forty years a publisher, gives the following evidence as to the sale of the Magazines in his time:—

"For my own part, I know that in 1790, and for many years previously, there were sold of the trifle called the Town and Country Magazine, full 15,000 copies per month; and, of another, the Ladies' Magazine, from 16,000 to 22,000. Such circumstances were, therefore, calculated to draw forth the observations of Hawkins. The Gentleman's Magazine, in its days of popular extracts, never rose above 10,000; after it became more decidedly antiquarian, it fell in sale, and continued for many years at 3000.

"The veriest trifles, and only such, move the mass of minds which compose the public. The sale of the Town and Country Magazine was created by a fictitious article, called Bon-Ton, in which were given the pretended amours of two personages, imagined to be real, with two sham portraits. The idea was conceived, and, for above twenty years, was executed by Count Carraccioli; but, on his death, about 1792, the article lost its spirit, and within seven years the magazine was discontinued. The Ladies' Magazine was, in like manner, sustained by love-tales and its low price of sixpence, which, till after 1790, was the general price of magazines."

Things have now taken a turn unlooked for in those days. The price of most magazines, it is true, is still more than sixpence—usually a shilling, and at that price the Cornhill in some months reached an impression of 120,000; but the circulation of Good Words, at sixpence, has touched 180,000, and continues, we believe, to be over 100,000.

* * * * *


And who was Mrs. Southey?—who but she who was so long known, and so great a favourite, as Caroline Bowles; transformed by the gallantry of the laureate, and the grace of the parson, into her matrimonial appellation. Southey, so long ago as the 21st of February, 1829, prefaced his most amatory poem of All for Love, with a tender address, that is now, perhaps, worth reprinting:—


"Could I look forward to a distant day, With hope of building some elaborate lay, Then would I wait till worthier strains of mine, Might have inscribed thy name, O Caroline! For I would, while my voice is heard on earth, Bear witness to thy genius and thy worth. But we have been both taught to feel with fear, How frail the tenure of existence here; What unforeseen calamities prevent, Alas! how oft, the best resolved intent; And, therefore, this poor volume I address To thee, dear friend, and sister poetess!

"Keswick, Feb. 21, 1829. "ROBERT SOUTHEY."

The laureate had his wish; for in duty, he was bound to say, that worthier strains than his bore inscribed the name of Caroline connected with his own—and, moreover, she was something more than a dear friend and sister poetess.

"The laureate," observes a writer in Fraser's Magazine, "is a fortunate man; his queen supplies him with butts (alluding to the laureateship), and his lady with Bowls: then may his cup of good fortune be overflowing."

* * * * *


M. Agassiz, the celebrated palaeontologist, is known to have relinquished pursuits from which he might have been in the receipt of a considerable income, and all for the sake of science. Dr. Buckland knew him, when engaged in this arduous career, with the revenue of only 100l.: and of this he paid fifty pounds to artists for drawings, thirty pounds for books, and lived himself on the remaining twenty pounds a year! Thus did he raise himself to an elevated European rank; and, in his abode, au troisieme, was the companion and friend of princes, ambassadors, and men of the highest rank and talent of every country.

* * * * *


Lord North had little reason to congratulate himself when he ventured on an interruption with Burke. In a debate on some economical question, Burke was guilty of a false quantity—"Magnum vectĭgal est parsimonia." "Vectīgal," said the minister, in an audible under-tone. "I thank the noble lord for his correction," resumed the orator, "since it gives me the opportunity of repeating the inestimable adage—"Magnum vectīgal est parsimonia." (Parsimony is a great revenue.)

* * * * *


When Victor Hugo was an aspirant for the honours of the French Academy, and called on M. Royer Collard to ask his vote, the sturdy veteran professed entire ignorance of his name. "I am the author of Notre Dame de Paris, Les Derniers Jours d'un Condamne, Bug-Jargal, Marian Delorme, &c." "I never heard of any of them," said Collard. "Will you do me the honour of accepting a copy of my works?" said Victor Hugo. "I never read new books," was the cutting reply.

* * * * *


Dr. Johnson's wigs were in general very shabby, and their fore-parts were burned away by the near approach of the candle, which his short-sightedness rendered necessary in reading. At Streatham, Mr. Thrale's butler always had a wig ready; and as Johnson passed from the drawing-room, when dinner was announced, the servant would remove the ordinary wig, and replace it with the newer one; and this ludicrous ceremony was performed every day.—Croker.

* * * * *


Mr. Pitt was accustomed to relate very pleasantly an amusing anecdote of a total breach of memory in some Mrs. Lloyd, a lady, or nominal housekeeper, of Kensington Palace. "Being in company," he said, "with Mr. Sheridan, without recollecting him, while Pizarro was the topic of discussion, she said to him, 'And so this fine Pizarro is printed?' 'Yes, so I hear,' said Sherry. 'And did you ever in your life read such stuff?' cried she. 'Why I believe it's bad enough,' quoth Sherry; 'but at least, madam, you must allow it's very loyal.' 'Ah!' cried she, shaking her head—'loyal? you don't know its author as well as I do.'"

* * * * *


The following were Dr. Johnson's several places of residence in and near London:—

1. Exeter-street, off Catherine-street, Strand. (1737.) 2. Greenwich. (1737.) 3. Woodstock-street, near Hanover-square. (1737.) 4. Castle-court, Cavendish-square, No. 6. (1738.) 5. Boswell-court. 6. Strand. 7. Strand, again. 8. Bow-street. 9. Holborn. 10. Fetter-lane. 11. Holborn again; at the Golden Anchor, Holborn Bars. (1748.) 12. Gough-square. (1748.) 13. Staple Inn. (1758.) 14. Gray's Inn. 15. Inner Temple-lane, No. 1. (1760.) 16. Johnson's court, Fleet-street, No. 5. (1765.) 17. Bolt-court, Fleet-street, No. 8. (1776.)

* * * * *


Gibbon, when speaking of his own genealogy, refers to the fact of Fielding being of the same family as the Earl of Denbigh, who, in common with the Imperial family of Austria, is descended from the celebrated Rodolph, of Hapsburgh. "While the one branch," he says, "have contented themselves with being sheriffs of Leicestershire, and justices of the peace, the others have been emperors of Germany and kings of Spain; but the magnificent romance of Tom Jones will be read with pleasure, when the palace of the Escurial is in ruins, and the Imperial Eagle of Austria is rolling in the dust."

* * * * *


Fielding having finished the manuscript of Tom Jones, and being at the time hard pressed for money took it to a second-rate publisher, with the view of selling it for what it would fetch at the moment. He left it with the trader, and called upon him next day for his decision. The bookseller hesitated, and requested another day for consideration; and at parting, Fielding offered him the MS. for 25l.

On his way home, Fielding met Thomson, the poet, whom he told of the negotiation for the sale of the MS.; when Thomson, knowing the high merit of the work, conjured him to be off the bargain, and offered to find a better purchaser.

Next morning, Fielding hastened to his appointment, with as much apprehension lest the bookseller should stick to his bargain as he had felt the day before lest he should altogether decline it. To the author's great joy, the ignorant trafficker in literature declined, and returned the MS. to Fielding. He next set off, with a light heart, to his friend Thomson; and the novelist and the poet then went to Andrew Millar, the great publisher of the day. Millar, as was his practice with works of light reading, handed the MS. to his wife, who, having read it, advised him by no means to let it slip through his fingers.

Millar now invited the two friends to meet him at a coffee-house in the Strand, where, after dinner, the bookseller, with great caution, offered Fielding 200l. for the MS. The novelist was amazed at the largeness of the offer. "Then, my good sir," said Fielding, recovering himself from his unexpected stroke of good fortune, "give me your hand—the book is yours. And, waiter," continued he, "bring a couple of bottles of your best port."

Before Millar died, he had cleared eighteen thousand pounds by Tom Jones, out of which he generously made Fielding various presents, to the amount of 2000l.; and he closed his life by bequeathing a handsome legacy to each of Fielding's sons.

* * * * *


The showman's work is very profitable at the country-house of Voltaire, at Ferney, near Geneva. A Genevese, an excellent calculator, as are all his countrymen, many years ago valued as follows the yearly profit derived by the above functionary from his situation:—

Francs. 8000 busts of Voltaire, made with earth of Ferney, at a franc a-piece 8,000 1200 autograph letters, at 20 francs 24,000 500 walking canes of Voltaire, at 50 francs each 25,000 300 veritable wigs of Voltaire, at 100 francs 30,000 ——— In all 87,000

* * * * *


Lord Brougham, during his indefatigable canvass of Yorkshire, in the course of which he often addressed ten or a dozen meetings in a day, thought fit to harangue the electors of Leeds immediately on his arrival, after travelling all night, and without waiting to perform his customary ablutions. "These hands are clean!" cried he, at the conclusion of a diatribe against corruption; but they happened to be very dirty, and this practical contradiction raised a hearty laugh.

* * * * *


Jasper Mayne says of Master Cartwright, the author of tolerable comedies and poems, printed in 1651:—

"Yes, thou to Nature hadst joined art and skill; In thee, Ben Jonson still held Shakspeare's quill."

* * * * *


"One of the Authors of the Rejected Addresses" thus writes to a friend:[3]—

"Let me enlighten you as to the general disposal of my time. I breakfast at nine, with a mind undisturbed by matters of business; I then write to you, or to some editor, and then read till three o'clock. I then walk to the Union Club, read the journals, hear Lord John Russell deified or diablerized, (that word is not a bad coinage,) do the same with Sir Robert Peel or the Duke of Wellington; and then join a knot of conversationists by the fire till six o'clock, consisting of lawyers, merchants, members of Parliament, and gentlemen at large. We then and there discuss the three per cent. consols, (some of us preferring Dutch two-and-a-half per cent.), and speculate upon the probable rise, shape, and cost of the New Exchange. If Lady Harrington happen to drive past our window in her landau, we compare her equipage to the Algerine Ambassador's; and when politics happen to be discussed, rally Whigs, Radicals, and Conservatives alternately, but never seriously,—such subjects having a tendency to create acrimony. At six, the room begins to be deserted; wherefore I adjourn to the dining-room, and gravely looking over the bill of fare, exclaim to the waiter, 'Haunch of mutton and apple tart.' These viands despatched, with the accompanying liquids and water, I mount upward to the library, take a book and my seat in the arm-chair, and read till nine. Then call for a cup of coffee and a biscuit, resuming my book till eleven; afterwards return home to bed. If I have any book here which particularly excites my attention, I place my lamp on a table by my bed-side, and read in bed until twelve. No danger of ignition, my lamp being quite safe, and my curtains moreen. Thus 'ends this strange eventful history,'" &c.

[3] In his Comic Miscellanies.

* * * * *


The celebrated Mrs. Thicknesse undertook to construct a letter, every word of which should be French, yet no Frenchman should be able to read it; while an illiterate Englishman or Englishwoman should decipher it with ease. Here is the specimen of the lady's ingenuity:—

"Pre, dire sistre, comme and se us, and pass the de here if yeux canne, and chat tu my dame, and dine here; and yeux mai go to the faire if yeux plaise; yeux mai have fiche, muttin, porc, buter, foule, hair, fruit, pigeon, olives, sallette, forure diner, and excellent te, cafe, port vin, an liqueurs; and tell ure bette and poll to comme; and Ile go tu the faire and visite the Baron. But if yeux dont comme tu us, Ile go to ure house and se oncle, and se houe he does; for mi dame se he bean ill; but deux comme; mi dire yeux canne ly here yeux nos; if yeux love musique, yeux mai have the harp, lutte, or viol heere. Adieu, mi dire sistre."

* * * * *


Flatman's beautiful lines to Walton, (says Mr. Jesse) commencing—

"Happy old man, whose worth all mankind knows Except himself,"

have always struck us as conveying a true picture of Walton's character, and of the estimation in which he was held after the appearance of his "Angler."

The last male descendant of our "honest father," the Rev. Dr. Herbert Hawes, died in 1839. He very liberally bequeathed the beautiful painting of Walton, by Houseman, to the National Gallery; and it is a curious fact, as showing the estimation in which anything connected with Walton is held in the present day, that the lord of the manor in which Dr. Hawes resided, laid claim to this portrait as a heriot, though not successfully. Dr. Hawes also bequeathed the greater portion of his library to the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury; and his executor and friend presented the celebrated prayer-book, which was Walton's, to Mr. Pickering, the publisher. The watch which belonged to Walton's connexion, the excellent Bishop Ken, has been presented to his amiable biographer, the Rev. W. Lisle Bowles.

Walton died at the house of his son-in-law, Dr. Hawkins, at Winchester. He was buried in Winchester Cathedral, in the south aisle, called Prior Silkstead's Chapel. A large black marble slab is placed over his remains; and, to use the poetical language of Mr. Bowles, "the morning sunshine falls directly on it, reminding the contemplative man of the mornings when he was, for so many years, up and abroad with his angle, on the banks of the neighbouring stream."

* * * * *


Dr. Still, though Bishop of Bath and Wells, seems not to have been over fond of water; for thus he sings:—

"A stoup of ale, then, cannot fail, To cheer both heart and soul; It hath a charm, and without harm Can make a lame man whole. For he who thinks, and water drinks, Is never worth a dump: Then fill your cup, and drink it up, May he be made a pump."

* * * * *


Sydney Smith writes:—If men are to be fools, it were better that they were fools in little matters than in great; dulness, turned up with temerity, is a livery all the worse for the facings; and the most tremendous of all things is a magnanimous dunce.

* * * * *


In 1841, the author of Pelham lived in Charles-street, Berkeley-square, in a small house, which he fitted up after his own taste; and an odd melee of the classic and the baronial certain of the rooms presented. One of the drawing-rooms, we remember, was in the Elizabethan style, with an imitative oak ceiling, bristled with pendents; and this room opened into another apartment, a fac-simile of a chamber which Bulwer had visited at Pompeii, with vases, candelabra, and other furniture to correspond.

James Smith has left a few notes of his visit here: "Our host," he says, "lighted a perfumed pastile, modelled from Vesuvius. As soon as the cone of the mountain began to blaze, I found myself an inhabitant of the devoted city; and, as Pliny the elder, thus addressed Bulwer, my supposed nephew:—'Our fate is accomplished, nephew! Hand me yonder volume! I shall die as a student in my vocation. Do thou hasten to take refuge on board the fleet at Misenum. Yonder cloud of hot ashes chides thy longer delay. Feel no alarm for me; I shall live in story. The author of Pelham will rescue my name from oblivion.' Pliny the younger made me a low bow, &c." We strongly suspect James of quizzing "our host." He noted, by the way, in the chamber were the busts of Hebe, Laura, Petrarch, Dante, and other worthies; Laura like our Queen.

* * * * *


Sterne's sermons are, in general, very short, which circumstance gave rise to the following joke at Bull's Library, at Bath:—A footman had been sent by his lady to purchase one of Smallridge's sermons, when, by mistake, he asked for a small religious sermon. The bookseller being puzzled how to reply to his request, a gentleman present suggested, "Give him one of Sterne's."

It has been observed, that if Sterne had never written one line more than his picture of the mournful cottage, towards the conclusion of his fifth sermon, we might cheerfully indulge the devout hope that the recording angel, whom he once invoked, will have blotted out many of his imperfections.

* * * * *


A few days before the close of 1840, London lost one of its choicest spirits, and humanity one of her kindest-hearted sons, in the death of Thomas Hill, Esq.—"Tom Hill," as he was called by all who loved and knew him. His life exemplified one venerable proverb, and disproved another; he was born in May, 1760, and was, consequently, in his 81st year, and "as old as the hills;" having led a long life and a merry one. He was originally a drysalter; but about the year 1810, having sustained a severe loss by a speculation in indigo, he retired upon the remains of his property to chambers in the Adelphi, where he died; his physician remarking to him, "I can do no more for you—I have done all I can. I cannot cure age."

Hill, when in business at the unlettered Queenhithe, found leisure to accumulate a fine collection of books, chiefly old poetry, which afterwards, when misfortune overtook him, was valued at 6000l. Hill was likewise a Maecenas: he patronized two friendless poets, Bloomfield and Kirke White. The Farmer's Boy of the former was read and admired by him in manuscript, and was recommended to a publisher. Hill also established The Monthly Mirror, to which Kirke White was a contributor. Hill was the Hull of Hook's Gilbert Gurney. He happened to know everything that was going on in all circles; and was at all "private views" of exhibitions. So especially was he favoured, that a wag recorded, when asked whether he had seen the new comet, he replied—"Pooh! pooh! I was present at the private view."

Hill left behind him an assemblage of literary rarities, which it occupied a clear week to sell by auction. Among them was Garrick's cup, formed from the mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare in his garden at New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon; this produced forty guineas. A small vase and pedestal, carved from the same mulberry-tree, and presented to Garrick, was sold with a coloured drawing of it, for ten guineas. And a block of wood, cut from the celebrated willow planted by Pope, at his villa at Twickenham, brought one guinea.

* * * * *


Sir David Brewster relates that in the year 1566, an accident occurred to Tycho Brahe, at Wittenberg, which had nearly deprived him of his life. On the 10th of December, Tycho had a quarrel with a noble countryman, Manderupius Rasbergius, and they parted ill friends. On the 27th of the same month, they met again; and having renewed their quarrel, they agreed to settle their differences by the sword. They accordingly met at seven o'clock in the evening of the 29th, and fought in total darkness. In this blind combat, Manderupius cut off the whole of the front of Tycho's nose, and it was fortunate for astronomy that his more valuable organs were defended by so faithful an outpost. The quarrel, which is said to have originated in a difference of opinion respecting their mathematical attainments, terminated here; and Tycho repaired his loss by cementing upon his face a nose of gold and silver, which is said to have formed a good imitation of the original. Thus, Tycho was, indeed, a "Martyr of Science."

* * * * *


George Colman, the younger, notes:—"There is no Shakspeare or Roscius upon record who, like Foote, supported a theatre for a series of years by his own acting, in his own writings; and for ten years of the time, upon a wooden leg! This prop to his person I once saw standing by his bedside, ready dressed in a handsome silk stocking, with a polished shoe and gold buckle, awaiting the owner's getting up: it had a kind of tragic, comical appearance, and I leave to inveterate wags the ingenuity of punning upon a Foote in bed, and a leg out of it. The proxy for a limb thus decorated, though ludicrous, is too strong a reminder of amputation to be very laughable. His undressed supporter was the common wooden stick, which was not a little injurious to a well-kept pleasure-ground. I remember following him after a shower of rain, upon a nicely rolled terrace, in which he stumped a deep round hole at every other step he took, till it appeared as if the gardener had been there with his dibble, preparing, against all horticultural practice, to plant a long row of cabbages in a gravel walk."

* * * * *


Mr. Gifford to Mr. Hazlitt.

"What we read from your pen, we remember no more."

Mr. Hazlitt to Mr. Gifford.

"What we read from your pen, we remember before."

* * * * *


This question has not yet been satisfactorily answered. In 1812, Dr. Mason Good, in an essay he wrote on the question, passed in review all the persons who had then been suspected of writing these celebrated letters. They are, Charles Lloyd and John Roberts, originally treasury clerks; Samuel Dyer, a learned man, and a friend of Burke and Johnson; William Gerard Hamilton, familiarly known as "Single-speech Hamilton;" Mr. Burke; Dr. Butler, late Bishop of Hereford; the Rev. Philip Rosenhagen; Major-General Lee, who went over to the Americans, and took an active part in their contest with the mother-country; John Wilkes; Hugh Macaulay Boyd; John Dunning, Lord Ashburton; Henry Flood; and Lord George Sackville.

Since this date, in 1813, John Roche published an Inquiry, in which he persuaded himself that Burke was the author. In the same year there appeared three other publications on Junius: these were, the Attempt of the Rev. J. B. Blakeway, to trace them to John Horne Tooke; next were the "Facts" of Thomas Girdlestone, M.D., to prove that General Lee was the author; and, thirdly, a work put forth by Mrs. Olivia Wilmot Serres, in the following confident terms:—"Life of the Author of Junius's Letters,—the Rev. J. Wilmot, D.D., Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford;" and, like most bold attempts, this work attracted some notice and discussion.

In 1815, the Letters were attributed to Richard Glover, the poet of Leonidas; and this improbable idea was followed by another, assigning the authorship of the Letters to the Duke of Portland, in 1816. In the same year appeared "Arguments and Facts," to show that John Louis de Lolme, author of the famous Essay on the Constitution of England, was the writer of these anonymous epistles. In 1816, too, appeared Mr. John Taylor's "Junius Identified," advocating the claims of Sir Philip Francis so successfully that the question was generally considered to be settled. Mr. Taylor's opinion was supported by Edward Dubois, Esq., formerly the confidential friend and private secretary of Sir Philip, who, in common with Lady Francis, constantly entertained the conviction that his deceased patron was identical with Junius.

In 1817, George Chalmers, F.S.A., advocated the pretensions of Hugh Macaulay Boyd to the authorship of Junius. In 1825, Mr. George Coventry maintained with great ability that Lord George Sackville was Junius; and two writers in America adopted this theory.

Thus was the whole question re-opened; and, in 1828, Mr. E. H. Barker, of Thetford, refuted the claims of Lord George Sackville and Sir Philip Francis, and advocated those of Charles Lloyd, private secretary to the Hon. George Grenville.[4]

In 1841, Mr. N. W. Simons, of the British Museum, refuted the supposition that Sir Philip Francis was directly or indirectly concerned in the writing; and, in the same year, appeared M. Jaques's review of the controversy, in which he arrived at the conclusion that Lord George Sackville composed the Letters, and that Sir Philip Francis was his amanuensis, thus combining the theory of Mr. Taylor with that of Mr. Coventry.

The question was reviewed and revived in a volume published by Mr. Britton, F.S.A., in June 1848, entitled "The Authorship of the Letters of Junius Elucidated;" in which is advocated with great care the opinion that the Letters were, to a certain extent, the joint productions of Lieut.-Colonel Isaac Barre, M.P., Lord Shelburne, (afterwards Marquess of Lansdowne,) and Dunning, Lord Ashburton. Of these three persons the late Sir Francis Baring commissioned Sir Joshua Reynolds, in 1784-5, to paint portraits in one picture, which is regarded as evidence of joint authorship.

Only a week before his death, 1804, the Marquess of Lansdowne was personally appealed to on the subject of Junius, by Sir Richard Phillips. In conversation, the Marquess said, "No, no, I am not equal to Junius; I could not be the author; but the grounds of secrecy are now so far removed by death (Dunning and Barre were at that time dead), and change of circumstances, that it is unnecessary the author of Junius should much longer be unknown. The world is curious about him, and I could make a very interesting publication on the subject. I knew Junius, and I know all about the writing and production of these Letters." The Marquess added, "If I live over the summer, which, however, I don't expect, I promise you a very interesting pamphlet about Junius. I will put my name to it; I will set the question at rest for ever." The death of the Marquess, however, occurred in a week. In a letter to the Monthly Magazine, July 1813, the son of the Marquess of Lansdowne says:—"It is not impossible my father may have been acquainted with the fact; but perhaps he was under some obligation to secrecy, as he never made any communication to me on the subject."

Lord Mahon (now Earl Stanhope) at length and with minuteness enters, in his History, into a vindication of the claims of Sir Philip Francis, grounding his partisanship on the close similarity of handwriting established by careful comparison of facsimiles; the likeness of the style of Sir Philip's speeches in Parliament to that of Junius—biting, pithy, full of antithesis and invective; the tenderness and bitterness displayed by Junius towards persons to whom Sir Philip stood well or ill affected; the correspondence of the dates of the letters with those of certain movements of Sir Philip; and the evidence of Junius' close acquaintance with the War Office, where Sir Philip held a post. It seems generally agreed that the weight of proof is on the side of Sir Philip Francis; but there will always be found adherents of other names—as O'Connell, in the following passage, of Burke:—

"It is my decided opinion," said O'Connell, "that Edmund Burke was the author of the 'Letters of Junius.' There are many considerations which compel me to form that opinion. Burke was the only man who made that figure in the world which the author of 'Junius' must have made, if engaged in public life; and the entire of 'Junius's Letters' evinces that close acquaintance with the springs of political machinery which no man could possess unless actively engaged in politics. Again, Burke was fond of chemical similes; now chemical similes are frequent in Junius. Again; Burke was an Irishman; now Junius, speaking of the Government of Ireland, twice calls it 'the Castle,' a familiar phrase amongst Irish politicians, but one which an Englishman, in those days, would never have used. Again; Burke had this peculiarity in writing, that he often wrote many words without taking the pen from the paper. The very same peculiarity existed in the manuscripts of Junius, although they were written in a feigned hand. Again; it may be said that the style is not Burke's. In reply, I would say that Burke was master of many styles. His work on natural society, in imitation of Lord Bolingbroke, is as different in point of style from his work on the French Revolution, as both are from the 'Letters of Junius.' Again; Junius speaks of the King's insanity as a divine visitation; Burke said the very same thing in the House of Commons. Again; had any one of the other men to whom the 'Letters' are, with any show of probability, ascribed, been really the author, such author would have had no reason for disowning the book, or remaining incognito. Any one of them but Burke would have claimed the authorship and fame—and proud fame. But Burke had a very cogent reason for remaining incognito. In claiming Junius he would have claimed his own condemnation and dishonour, for Burke died a pensioner. Burke was, moreover, the only pensioner who had the commanding talent displayed in the writings of Junius. Now, when I lay all these considerations together, and especially when I reflect that a cogent reason exists for Burke's silence as to his own authorship, I confess I think I have got a presumptive proof of the very strongest nature, that Burke was the writer."[5]

[4] Supported by the following note, written by Dr. Parr, in his copy of "The Letters of Junius:"—"The writer of 'Junius' was Mr. Lloyd, secretary to George Grenville, and brother to Philip Lloyd, Dean of Norwich. This will one day or other be generally acknowledged.—S. P."

[5] Personal Recollections of the late Daniel O'Connell, M.P. By William J. O'N. Daunt.

* * * * *


Three of the most celebrated resorts of the literati of the last century were Will's Coffee-house, No. 23, on the north side of Great Russell-street, Covent Garden, at the end of Bow-street. This was the favourite resort of Dryden, who had here his own chair, in winter by the fireside, in summer in the balcony: the company met in the first floor, and there smoked; and the young beaux and wits were sometimes honoured with a pinch out of Dryden's snuff-box. Will's was the resort of men of genius till 1710: it was subsequently occupied by a perfumer.

Tom's, No. 17, Great Russell-street, had nearly 700 subscribers, at a guinea a-head, from 1764 to 1768, and had its card, conversation, and coffee-rooms, where assembled Dr. Johnson, Carrick, Murphy, Goldsmith, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Foote, and other men of talent: the tables and books of the club were not many years since preserved in the house, the first floor of which was then occupied by Mr. Webster, the medallist.

Button's, "over against" Tom's, was the receiving-house for contributions to The Guardian, in a lion-head box, the aperture for which remains in the wall to mark the place. Button had been servant to Lady Warwick, whom Addison married; and the house was frequented by Pope, Steele, Swift, Arbuthnot, and Addison. The lion's head for a letter-box, "the best head in England," was set up in imitation of the celebrated lion at Venice: it was removed from Button's to the Shakspeare's Head, under the arcade in Covent Garden; and in 1751, was placed in the Bedford, next door. This lion's head is now treasured as a relic by the Bedford family.

* * * * *


At the close of the first canto of Don Juan, its noble author, by way of propitiating the reader for the morality of his poem, says:—

"The public approbation I expect, And beg they'll take my word about the moral, Which I with their amusement will connect, As children cutting teeth receive a coral; Meantime, they'll doubtless please to recollect My epical pretensions to the laurel; For fear some prudish reader should grow skittish, I've bribed my Grandmother's Review—the British.

I sent it in a letter to the editor, Who thank'd me duly by return of post— I'm for a handsome article his creditor; Yet if my gentle muse he please to roast, And break a promise after having made it her, Denying the receipt of what it cost, And smear his page with gall instead of honey, All I can say is—that he had the money."

Canto I. st. ccix. ccx.

Now, "the British" was a certain staid and grave high-church review, the editor of which received the poet's imputation of bribery as a serious accusation; and, accordingly, in his next number after the publication of Don Juan, there appeared a postscript, in which the receipt of any bribe was stoutly denied, and the idea of such connivance altogether repudiated; the editor adding that he should continue to exercise his own judgment as to the merits of Lord Byron, as he had hitherto done in every instance! However, the affair was too ludicrous to be at once altogether dropped; and, so long as the prudish publication was in existence, it enjoyed the sobriquet of "My Grandmother's Review."

By the way, there is another hoax connected with this poem. One day an old gentleman gravely inquired of a printseller for a portrait of "Admiral Noah"—to illustrate Don Juan!

* * * * *


Sir Robert Walpole, in one of his letters, thus describes the relations of a skilful Minister with an accommodating Parliament—the description, it may be said, having, by lapse of time, acquired the merit of general inapplicability to the present state of things:—"My dear friend, there is scarcely a member whose purse I do not know to a sixpence, and whose very soul almost I could not purchase at the offer. The reason former Ministers have been deceived in this matter is evident—they never considered the temper of the people they had to deal with. I have known a minister so weak as to offer an avaricious old rascal a star and garter, and attempt to bribe a young rogue, who set no value upon money, with a lucrative employment. I pursue methods as opposite as the poles, and therefore my administration has been attended with a different effect." "Patriots," elsewhere says Walpole, "spring up like mushrooms. I could raise fifty of them within four-and-twenty hours. I have raised many of them in one night. It is but refusing to gratify an unreasonable or insolent demand, and up starts a patriot."

* * * * *


Johnson decided literary questions like a lawyer, not like a legislator. He never examined foundations where a point was already ruled. His whole code of criticism rested on pure assumption, for which he sometimes gave a precedent or authority, but rarely troubled himself to give a reason drawn from the nature of things. He judged of all works of the imagination by the standard established among his own contemporaries. Though he allowed Homer to have been a greater man than Virgil, he seems to have thought the AEneid to have been a greater poem than the Iliad. Indeed, he well might have thought so; for he preferred Pope's Iliad to Homer's. He pronounced that after Hoole's translation of Tasso, Fairfax's would hardly be reprinted. He could see no merit in our fine old English ballads, and always spoke with the most provoking contempt of Dr. Percy's fondness for them.

Of all the great original works which appeared during his time, Richardson's novels alone excited his admiration. He could see little or no merit in Tom Jones, in Gulliver's Travels, or in Tristram Shandy. To Thomson's Castle of Indolence he vouchsafed only a line of cold commendation—of commendation much colder than what he has bestowed on The Creation of that portentous bore, Sir Richard Blackmore. Gray was, in his dialect, a barren rascal. Churchill was a blockhead. The contempt which he felt for Macpherson was, indeed, just; but it was, we suspect, just by by chance. He criticized Pope's epitaphs excellently. But his observations on Shakspeare's plays, and Milton's poems, seem to us as wretched as if they had been written by Rymer himself, whom we take to have been the worst critic that ever lived.

* * * * *


The house of Gibbon, in which he completed his "Decline and Fall," is in the lower part of the town of Lausanne, behind the church of St. Francis, and on the right of the road leading down to Ouchy. Both the house and the garden have been much changed. The wall of the Hotel Gibbon occupies the site of his summer-house, and the berceau walk has been destroyed to make room for the garden of the hotel; but the terrace looking over the lake, and a few acacias, remain.

Gibbon's record of the completion of his great labour is very impressive. "It was on the day, or rather the night, of the 27th of June, 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last line of the last page, in a summer-house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau, or covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and the mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon was reflected from the waves, and all nature was silent."

At a little inn at Morges, about two miles distant from Lausanne, Lord Byron wrote the Prisoner of Chillon, in the short space of two days, during which he was detained here by bad weather, June 1816: "thus adding one more deathless association to the already immortalized localities of the Lake."

* * * * *


A fellow passenger with Mr. Dickens in the Britannia steam-ship, across the Atlantic, inquired of the author the origin of his signature, "Boz." Mr. Dickens replied that he had a little brother who resembled so much the Moses in the Vicar of Wakefield, that he used to call him Moses also; but a younger girl, who could not then articulate plainly, was in the habit of calling him Bozie or Boz. This simple circumstance made him assume that name in the first article he risked to the public, and therefore he continued the name, as the first effort was approved of.

* * * * *


Sir John Malcolm once asked Warren Hastings, who was a contemporary and companion of Dr. Johnson and Boswell, what was his real estimation of Boswell's Life of Johnson? "Sir," replied Hastings, "it is the dirtiest book in my library;" then proceeding, he added: "I knew Boswell intimately; and I well remember, when his book first made its appearance, Boswell was so full of it, that he could neither think nor talk of anything else; so much so, that meeting Lord Thurlow hurrying through Parliament-street to get to the House of Lords, where an important debate was expected, for which he was already too late, Boswell had the temerity to stop and accost him with "Have you read my book?" "Yes," replied Lord Thurlow, with one of his strongest curses, "every word of it; I could not help it."

* * * * *


In the reigns of William III., of Anne, and of George I., even such men as Congreve and Addison could scarcely have been able to live like gentlemen by the mere sale of their writings. But the deficiency of the natural demand for literature was, at the close of the seventeenth, and at the beginning of the eighteenth century, more than made up by the artificial encouragement—by a vast system of bounties and premiums. There was, perhaps, never a time at which the rewards of literary merit were so splendid—at which men who could write well found such easy admittance into the most distinguished society, and to the highest honours of the state. The chiefs of both the great parties into which the kingdom was divided, patronized literature with emulous munificence.

Congreve, when he had scarcely attained his majority, was rewarded for his first comedy with places which made him independent for life. Rowe was not only poet laureate, but land-surveyor of the Customs in the port of London, clerk of the council to the Prince of Wales, and secretary of the Presentations to the Lord Chancellor. Hughes was secretary to the Commissioners of the Peace. Ambrose Phillips was judge of the Prerogative Court in Ireland. Locke was Commissioner of Appeals and of the Board of Trade. Newton was Master of the Mint. Stepney and Prior were employed in embassies of high dignity and importance. Gay, who commenced life as apprentice to a silk-mercer, became a secretary of Legation at five-and-twenty. It was to a poem on the death of Charles II., and to "the City and Country Mouse," that Montague owed his introduction into public life, his earldom, his garter, and his auditorship of the Exchequer. Swift, but for the unconquerable prejudice of the queen, would have been a bishop. Oxford, with his white staff in his hand, passed through the crowd of his suitors to welcome Parnell, when that ingenious writer deserted the Whigs. Steele was a Commissioner of Stamps, and a member of Parliament. Arthur Mainwaring was a Commissioner of the Customs, and Auditor of the Imprest. Tickell was secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland. Addison was Secretary of State.

But soon after the succession of the throne of Hanover, a change took place. The supreme power passed to a man who cared little for poetry or eloquence. Walpole paid little attention to books, and felt little respect for authors. One of the coarse jokes of his friend, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, was far more pleasing to him than Thomson's Seasons or Richardson's Pamela.

* * * * *


When Brummell was obliged by want of money, and debt, and all that, to retire to France, he knew no French; and having obtained a grammar for the purpose of study, his friend Scrope Davies was asked what progress Brummell had made in French. He responded, that Brummell had been stopped, like Buonaparte in Russia, by the Elements.

"I have put this pun into Beppo, (says Lord Byron), which is a fair exchange and no robbery, for Scrope made his fortune at several dinners, (as he owned himself,) by repeating occasionally, as his own, some of the buffooneries with which I had encountered him in the morning."

* * * * *


In a paper in the Edinburgh Review, we find this cabinet picture:—The club-room is before us, and the table, on which stands the omelet for Nugent, and the lemons for Johnson. There are assembled those heads which live for ever on the canvas of Reynolds. There are the spectacles of Burke, and the tall thin form of Langton; the courtly sneer of Beauclerc, and the beaming smile of Garrick; Gibbon tapping his snuff-box, and Sir Joshua with his trumpet in his ear. In the foreground is that strange figure which is as familiar to us as the figures of those among whom we have been brought up—the gigantic body, the huge massy face, seamed with the scars of disease; the brown coat, the black worsted stockings, the grey wig, with the scorched foretop; the dirty hands, the nails bitten and pared to the quick. We see the eyes and nose moving with convulsive twitches; we see the heavy form rolling; we hear it puffing; and then comes the "Why, sir!" and the "What then, sir?" and the "No, sir!" and the "You don't see your way through the question, sir!"

* * * * *


In October, 1841, Dr. Chalmers commenced two series of biblical compositions, which he continued with unbroken regularity till the day of his decease, May 31, 1847. Go where he might, however he might be engaged, each week-day had its few verses read, thought over, written upon—forming what he denominated "Horae Biblicae Quotidianae:" each Sabbath-day had its two chapters, one in the Old and the other in the New Testament, with the two trains of meditative devotion recorded to which the reading of them respectively gave birth—forming what he denominated "Horae Biblicae Sabbaticae." When absent from home, or when the manuscript books in which they were ordinarily inserted were not beside him, he wrote in short-hand, carefully entering what was thus written in the larger volumes afterwards. Not a trace of haste nor of the extreme pressure from without, to which he was so often subjected, is exhibited in the handwriting of these volumes. There are but few words omitted—scarcely any erased. This singular correctness was a general characteristic of his compositions. His lectures on the Epistle to the Romans were written currente calamo, in Glasgow, during the most hurried and overburthened period of his life. And when, many years afterwards, they were given out to be copied for the press, scarcely a blot, or an erasure, or a correction, was to be found in them, and they were printed off exactly as they had originally been written.

In preparing the "Horae Biblicae Quotidianae," Chalmers had by his side, for use and reference, the "Concordance," the "Pictorial Bible," "Poole's Synopsis," "Henry's Commentary," and "Robinson's Researches in Palestine." These constituted what he called his "Biblical Library." "There," said he to a friend, pointing, as he spoke, to the above-named volumes, as they lay together on his library-table, with a volume of the "Quotidianae," in which he had just been writing, lying open beside them,—"There are the books I use—all that is Biblical is there. I have to do with nothing besides in my Biblical study." To the consultation of these few volumes he throughout restricted himself.

The whole of the MSS. were purchased, after Dr. Chalmers's death, for a large sum of money, by Mr. Thomas Constable, of Edinburgh, her Majesty's printer; and were in due time given to, and most favourably received by, the public.

* * * * *


In the autumn of 1831, died the Rev. Dr. Shaw, at Chesley, Somersetshire, at the age of eighty-three: he is said to have been the last surviving friend of Dr. Johnson.

On the 16th of January, in the above year, died Mr. Richard Clark, chamberlain of the City of London, in the ninety-second year of his age. At the age of fifteen, he was introduced by Sir John Hawkins to Johnson, whose friendship he enjoyed to the last year of the Doctor's life. He attended Johnson's evening parties at the Mitre Tavern, in Fleet-street;[7] where, among other literary characters he met Dr. Percy, Dr. Goldsmith, and Dr. Hawksworth. A substantial supper was served at eight o'clock; the party seldom separated till a late hour; and Mr. Clark recollected that early one morning he, with another of the party, accompanied the Doctor to his house, where Mrs. Williams, then blind, made tea for them. When Mr. Clark was sheriff, he took Johnson to a "Judges' Dinner," at the Old Bailey; the judges being Blackstone and Eyre. Mr. Clark often visited the Doctor, and met him at dinner-parties; and the last time he enjoyed his company was at the Essex Head Club, of which, by the Doctor's invitation, Clark became a member.

[6] See, also, an ensuing page, 120.

[7] Johnson, by the way, had a strange nervous feeling, which made him uneasy if he had not touched every post between the Mitre Tavern and his own lodgings.

* * * * *


The chemical philosophers, Dr. Black and Dr. Hutton, were particular friends, though there was something extremely opposite in their external appearance and manner. Dr. Black spoke with the English pronunciation, and with punctilious accuracy of expression, both in point of matter and manner. The geologist, Dr. Hutton, was the very reverse of this: his conversation was conducted in broad phrases, expressed with a broad Scotch accent, which often heightened the humour of what he said.

It chanced that the two Doctors had held some discourse together upon the folly of abstaining from feeding on the testaceous creatures of the land, while those of the sea were considered as delicacies. Wherefore not eat snails? they are known to be nutritious and wholesome, and even sanative in some cases. The epicures of old praised them among the richest delicacies, and the Italians still esteem them. In short, it was determined that a gastronomic experiment should be made at the expense of the snails. The snails were procured, dieted for a time, and then stewed for the benefit of the two philosophers, who had either invited no guests to their banquet, or found none who relished in prospect the piece de resistance. A huge dish of snails was placed before them: still, philosophers are but men, after all; and the stomachs of both doctors began to revolt against the experiment. Nevertheless, if they looked with disgust on the snails, they retained their awe for each other, so that each, conceiving the symptoms of internal revolt peculiar to himself, began, with infinite exertion, to swallow, in very small quantities, the mess which he internally loathed.

Dr. Black, at length, showed the white feather, but in a very delicate manner, as if to sound the opinion of his messmate. "Doctor," he said, in his precise and quiet manner—"Doctor—do you not think that they taste a little—a very little, green?" "D——d green! d——d green! indeed—tak' them awa',—tak' them awa'!" vociferated Dr. Hutton, starting up from table, and giving full vent to his feelings of abhorrence. So ended all hopes of introducing snails into the modern cuisine; and thus philosophy can no more cure a nausea than honour can set a broken limb.—Sir Walter Scott.

* * * * *


"Curran!" (says Lord Byron) "Curran's the man who struck me most. Such imagination!—there never was anything like it that I ever heard of. His published life—his published speeches, give you no idea of the man—none at all. He was a machine of imagination, as some one said that Prior was an epigrammatic machine." Upon another occasion, Byron said, "the riches of Curran's Irish imagination were exhaustless. I have heard that man speak more poetry than I have ever seen written—though I saw him seldom, and but occasionally. I saw him presented to Madame de Stael, at Mackintosh's—it was the grand confluence between the Rhone and the Saone; they were both so d——d ugly, that I could not help wondering how the best intellects of France and Ireland could have taken up respectively such residences."

* * * * *


The poet Cowley died at the Porch House, Chertsey, on the 21st of July, 1667. There is a curious letter preserved of his condition when he removed here from Barn Elms. It is addressed to Dr. Sprat, dated Chertsey, 21 May, 1665, and is as follows:—

"The first night that I came hither I caught so great a cold, with a defluxion of rheum, as made me keep my chamber ten days. And, too, after had such a bruise on my ribs with a fall, that I am yet unable to move or turn myself in bed. This is my personal fortune here to begin with. And besides, I can get no money from my tenants, and have my meadows eaten up every night by cattle put in by my neighbours. What this signifies, or may come to in time, God knows! if it be ominous, it can end in nothing but hanging."——"I do hope to recover my hurt so farre within five or six days (though it be uncertain yet whether I shall ever recover it) as to walk about again. And then, methinks, you and I and the Dean might be very merry upon St. Ann's Hill. You might very conveniently come hither by way of Hampton Town, lying there one night. I write this in pain, and can say no more.—Verbum sapienti."

It is stated, by Sprat, that the last illness of Cowley was owing to his having taken cold through staying too long among his labourers in the meadows; but, in Spence's Anecdotes we are informed, (on the authority of Pope,) that "his death was occasioned by a mere accident whilst his great friend, Dean Sprat, was with him on a visit at Chertsey. They had been together to see a neighbour of Cowley's, who, (according to the fashion of those times,) made them too welcome. They did not set out for their walk home till it was too late; and had drank so deep that they lay out in the fields all night. This gave Cowley the fever that carried him off. The parish still talk of the drunken Dean."

* * * * *


Although Dr. Johnson had (or professed to have) a profound and unjustified contempt for actors, he succeeded in comporting himself towards Mrs. Siddons with great politeness; and once, when she called to see him at Bolt Court, and his servant Frank could not immediately furnish her with a chair, the doctor said, "You see, madam, that wherever you go there are no seats to be got."

* * * * *


Day, the author of Sandford and Merton, was an eccentric but amiable man; he retired into the country "to exclude himself," as he said, "from the vanity, vice, and deceptive character of man," but he appears to have been strangely jilted by women. When about the age of twenty-one, and after his suit had been rejected by a young lady to whom he had paid his addresses, Mr. Day formed the singular project of educating a wife for himself. This was based upon the notion of Rousseau, that "all the genuine worth of the human species is perverted by society; and that children should be educated apart from the world, in order that their minds should be kept untainted with, and ignorant of, its vices, prejudices, and artificial manners."

Day set about his project by selecting two girls from an establishment at Shrewsbury, connected with the Foundling Hospital; previously to which he entered into a written engagement, guaranteed by a friend, Mr. Bicknell, that within twelve months he would resign one of them to a respectable mistress, as an apprentice, with a fee of one hundred pounds; and, on her marriage, or commencing business for herself, he would give her the additional sum of four hundred pounds; and he further engaged that he would act honourably to the one he should retain, in order to marry her at a proper age; or, if he should change his mind, he would allow her a competent support until she married, and then give her five hundred pounds as a dowry.

The objects of Day's speculation were both twelve years of age. One of them, whom he called Lucretia, had a fair complexion, with light hair and eyes; the other was a brunette, with chesnut tresses, who was styled Sabrina. He took these girls to France without any English servants, in order that they should not obtain any knowledge but what he should impart. As might have been anticipated, they caused him abundance of inconvenience and vexation, increased, in no small degree, by their becoming infected with the small-pox; from this, however, they recovered without any injury to their features. The scheme ended in the utter disappointment of the projector. Lucretia, whom he first dismissed, was apprenticed to a milliner; and she afterwards became the wife of a linendraper in London. Sabrina, after Day had relinquished his attempts to make her such a model of perfection as he required, and which included indomitable courage, as well as the difficult art of retaining secrets, was placed at a boarding-school at Sutton Coldfield, in Warwickshire, where she was much esteemed; and, strange to say, was at length married to Mr. Bicknell.

After Day had renounced this scheme as impracticable, he became suitor to two sisters in succession; yet, in both instances, he was refused. At length, he was married at Bath, to a lady who made "a large fortune the means of exercising the most extensive generosity."

* * * * *


Geoffrey Crayon (Irving), and Wilkie, the painter, were fellow-travellers on the Continent, about the year 1827. In their rambles about some of the old cities of Spain, they were more than once struck with scenes and incidents which reminded them of passages in the Arabian Nights. The painter urged Mr. Irving to write something that should illustrate those peculiarities, "something in the 'Haroun-al-Raschid style,'" which should have a deal of that Arabian spice which pervades everything in Spain. The author set to work, con amore, and produced two goodly volumes of Arabesque sketches and tales, founded on popular traditions. His study was the Alhambra, and the governor of the palace gave Irving and Wilkie permission to occupy his vacant apartments there. Wilkie was soon called away by the duties of his station; but Washington Irving remained for several months, spell-bound in the old enchanted pile. "How many legends," saith he, "and traditions, true and fabulous—how many songs and romances, Spanish and Arabian, of love, and war, and chivalry, are associated with this romantic pile."

* * * * *


When the late Sir Richard Phillips took his "Morning's Walk from London to Kew," in 1816, he found that a portion of the family mansion in which Lord Bolingbroke was born had been converted into a mill and distillery, though a small oak parlour had been carefully preserved. In this room, Pope is said to have written his Essay on Man; and, in Bolingbroke's time, the mansion was the resort, the hope, and the seat of enjoyment, of Swift, Arbuthnot, Thomson, Mallet, and all the contemporary genius of England. The oak room was always called "Pope's Parlour," it being, in all probability, the apartment generally occupied by that great poet, in his visits to his friend Bolingbroke.

On inquiring for an ancient inhabitant of Battersea, Sir Richard Phillips was introduced to a Mrs. Gilliard, a pleasant and intelligent woman, who told him she well remembered Lord Bolingbroke; that he used to ride out every day in his chariot, and had a black patch on his cheek, with a large wart over his eyebrows. She was then but a girl, but she was taught to look upon him with veneration as a great man. As, however, he spent little in the place, and gave little away, he was not much regarded by the people of Battersea. Sir Richard mentioned to her the names of several of Bolingbroke's contemporaries; but she recollected none except that of Mallet, who, she said, she had often seen walking about in the village, while he was visiting at Bolingbroke House.

* * * * *


Milton was born at the Spread Eagle,[8] Bread-street, Cheapside, December 9, 1608; and was buried, November, 1674, in St. Giles's Church, Cripplegate, without even a stone, in the first instance, to mark his resting-place; but, in 1793, a bust and tablet were set up to his memory by public subscription.

Milton, before he resided in Jewin-gardens, Aldersgate, is believed to have removed to, and "kept school" in a large house on the west side of Aldersgate-street, wherein met the City of London Literary and Scientific Institution, previously to the rebuilding of their premises in 1839.

Milton's London residences have all, with one exception, disappeared, and cannot be recognised; this is in Petty France, at Westminster, where the poet lived from 1651 to 1659. The lower part of the house is a chandler's-shop; the parlour, up stairs, looks into St. James's-park. Here part of Paradise Lost was written. The house belonged to Jeremy Bentham, who caused to be placed on its front a tablet, inscribed, "SACRED TO MILTON, PRINCE OF POETS."

In the same glass-case with Shakspeare's autograph, in the British Museum, is a printed copy of the Elegies on Mr. Edward King, the subject of Lycidas, with some corrections of the text in Milton's handwriting. Framed and glazed, in the library of Mr. Rogers, the poet, hangs the written agreement between Milton and his publisher, Simmons, for the copyright of his Paradise Lost.—Note-book of 1848.

[8] The house has been destroyed many years.

* * * * *


Dr. Dibdin, in his Reminiscences, relates:—"Sir John Stoddart married the sister of Lord Moncrieff, by whom he has a goodly race of representatives; but, before his marriage, he was the man who wrote up the Times newspaper to its admitted pitch of distinction and superiority over every other contemporary journal. Mark, gentle reader, I speak of the Times newspaper during the eventful and appalling crisis of Bonaparte's invasion of Spain and destruction of Moscow. My friend fought with his pen as Wellington fought with his sword: but nothing like a tithe of the remuneration which was justly meted out to the hero of Waterloo befel the editor of the Times. Of course, I speak of remuneration in degree, and not in kind. The peace followed. Public curiosity lulled, and all great and stirring events having subsided, it was thought that a writer of less commanding talent, (certainly not the present Editor,) and therefore procurable at a less premium, would answer the current purposes of the day; and the retirement of Dr. Stoddart, (for he was at this time a civilian, and particularly noticed and patronised by Lord Stowell,) from the old Times, and his establishment of the New Times newspaper, followed in consequence. But the latter, from various causes, had only a short-lived existence. Sir John Stoddart had been his Majesty's advocate, or Attorney-General, at Malta, before he retired thither a second time, to assume the office of Judge."

* * * * *


The portal of the Boar's Head was originally decorated with carved oak figures of Falstaff and Prince Henry; and in 1834, the former figure was in the possession of a brazier, of Great Eastcheap, whose ancestors had lived in the shop he then occupied since the great fire. The last grand Shakspearean dinner-party took place at the Boar's Head about 1784. A boar's head, with silver tusks, which had been suspended in some room in the house, perhaps the Half Moon or Pomegranate, (see Henry IV., Act. ii., scene 3,) at the great fire, fell down with the ruins of the houses, little injured, and was conveyed to Whitechapel Mount, where it was identified and recovered about thirty years ago.

* * * * *


The Edinburgh Review was first published in 1802. The plan was suggested by Sydney Smith, at a meeting of literati, in the fourth or fifth flat or story, in Buccleugh-place, Edinburgh, then the elevated lodging of Jeffrey. The motto humorously proposed for the new review by its projector was, "Tenui musam meditamur avena,"—i.e., "We cultivate literature upon a little oatmeal;" but this being too nearly the truth to be publicly acknowledged, the more grave dictum of "Judex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur" was adopted from Publius Syrus, of whom, Sydney Smith affirms, "None of us, I am sure, ever read a single line!" Lord Byron, in his fifth edition of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, refers to the reviewers as an "oat-fed phalanx."

* * * * *


However great talents may command the admiration of the world, they do not generally best fit a man for the discharge of social duties. Swift remarks that "Men of great parts are often unfortunate in the management of public business, because they are apt to go out of the common road by the quickness of their imagination. This I once said to my Lord Bolingbroke, and desired he would observe, that the clerk in his office used a sort of ivory knife, with a blunt edge, to divide a sheet of paper, which never failed to cut it even, only by requiring a steady hand; whereas, if he should make one of a sharp penknife, the sharpness would make it go often out of the crease, and disfigure the paper."

* * * * *


The Gentleman's Magazine unaccountably passes for the earliest periodical of that description; while, in fact, it was preceded nearly forty years by the Gentleman's Journal of Motteux, a work much more closely resembling our modern magazines, and from which Sylvanus Urban borrowed part of his title, and part of his motto; while on the first page of the first number of the Gentleman's Magazine itself, it is stated to contain "more than any book of the kind and price."

* * * * *


This ingenious woman was the daughter of Joshua and Sarah Kirby, and was born at Ipswich, January 6, 1741. Kirby taught George the Third, when Prince of Wales, perspective and architecture. He was also President of the Society of Artists of Great Britain, out of which grew the Royal Academy. It was the last desire of Gainsborough to be buried beside his old friend Kirby, and their tombs adjoin each other in the churchyard at Kew.

Mrs. Trimmer, when a girl, was constantly reading Milton's Paradise Lost; and this circumstance so pleased Dr. Johnson, that he invited her to see him, and presented her with a copy of his Rambler. She also repeatedly met Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr. Gregory, Sharp, Hogarth, and Gainsborough, with all of whom her father was on terms of intimacy. Mrs. Trimmer advocated religious education against the latitudinarian views of Joseph Lancaster. It was at her persuasion that Dr. Bell entered the field, and paved the way for the establishment of the National Society. Mrs. Trimmer died, in her seventieth year, in 1810. She was seated at her table reading a letter, when her head sunk upon her bosom, and she "fell asleep;" and so gentle was the wafting, that she seemed for some time in a refreshing slumber, which her family were unwilling to interrupt.

* * * * *


It was on a visit to the parliament house that Mr. Henry Erskine, (brother of Lord Buchan and Lord Erskine,) after being presented to Dr. Johnson by Mr. Boswell, and having made his bow, slipped a shilling into Boswell's hand, whispering that it was for the sight of his bear.—Sir Walter Scott.

* * * * *


Lord Elibank made a happy retort on Dr. Johnson's definition of oats, as the food of horses in England, and men in Scotland. "Yes," said he, "and where else will you see such horses, and such men?"—Sir Walter Scott.

* * * * *


The house in which Dr. Johnson was born, at Lichfield—where his father, it is well known, kept a small bookseller's shop, and where he was partly educated—stood on the west side of the market-place. In the centre of the market-place is a colossal statue of Johnson, seated upon a square pedestal: it is by Lucas, and was executed at the expense of the Rev. Chancellor Law, in 1838. By the side of a footpath leading from Dam-street to Stow, formerly stood a large willow, said to have been planted by Johnson. It was blown down, in 1829; but one of its shoots was preserved and planted upon the same spot: it was in the year 1848 a large tree, known in the town as "Johnson's Willow."

Mr. Lomax, who for many years kept a bookseller's shop—"The Johnson's Head," in Bird-street, Lichfield, possessed several articles that formerly belonged to Johnson, which have been handed down by a clear and indisputable ownership. Amongst them is his own Book of Common Prayer, in which are written, in pencil, the four Latin lines printed in Strahan's edition of the Doctor's Prayers. There are, also, a sacrament-book, with Johnson's wife's name in it, in his own handwriting; an autograph letter of the Doctor's to Miss Porter; two tea-spoons, an ivory tablet, and a breakfast table; a Visscher's Atlas, paged by the Doctor, and a manuscript index; Davies's Life of Garrick, presented to Johnson by the publisher; a walking cane; and a Dictionary of Heathen Mythology, with the Doctor's MS. corrections. His wife's wedding-ring, afterwards made into a mourning-ring; and a massive chair, in which he customarily sat, were also in Mr Lomax's possession.

Among the few persons living in the year 1848 who ever saw Dr. Johnson, was Mr. Dyott, of Lichfield: this was seventy-four years before, or in 1774, when the Doctor and Boswell, on their tour into Wales, stopped at Ashbourne, and there visited Mr. Dyott's father, who was then residing at Ashbourne Hall.[9]

[9] "The Dyotts," notes Croker, "are a respectable and wealthy family, still residing near Lichfield. The royalist who shot Lord Brooke when assaulting St. Chad's Cathedral, in Lichfield, on St. Chad's Day, was a Mr. Dyott."

* * * * *


After Coleridge left Cambridge, he came to London, where soon feeling himself forlorn and destitute, he enlisted as a soldier in the 15th Elliot's Light Dragoons. "On his arrival at the quarters of the regiment," says his friend and biographer, Mr. Gilman, "the general of the district inspected the recruits, and looking hard at Coleridge, with a military air, inquired 'What's your name, sir?' 'Comberbach!' (the name he had assumed.) 'What do you come here for, sir?' as if doubting whether he had any business there. 'Sir,' said Coleridge, 'for what most other persons come—to be made a soldier.' 'Do you think,' said the general, 'you can run a Frenchman through the body?' 'I do not know,' replied Coleridge, 'as I never tried; but I'll let a Frenchman run me through the body before I'll run away.' 'That will do,' said the general, and Coleridge was turned in the ranks."

The poet made a poor dragoon, and never advanced beyond the awkward squad. He wrote letters, however, for all his comrades, and they attended to his horse and accoutrements. After four months service, (December 1793 to April 1794), the history and circumstances of Coleridge became known. He had written under his saddle, on the stable wall, a Latin sentence (Eheu! quam infortunii miserrimum est fuisse felicem!) which led to an inquiry on the part of the captain of his troop, who had more regard for the classics than Ensign Northerton, in Tom Jones. Coleridge was, accordingly, discharged, and restored to his family and friends.

* * * * *


Perhaps, in Cobbett's voluminous writings, there is nothing so complete as the following picture of his boyish scenes and recollections: it has been well compared to the most simple and touching passages in Richardson's Pamela:—

"After living within a hundred yards of Westminster Hall and the Abbey church, and the bridge, and looking from my own window into St. James's Park, all other buildings and spots appear mean and insignificant. I went to-day to see the house I formerly occupied. How small! It is always thus: the words large and small are carried about with us in our minds, and we forget real dimensions. The idea, such as it was received, remains during our absence from the object. When I returned to England in 1800, after an absence from the country parts of it of sixteen years, the trees, the hedges, even the parks and woods, seemed so small! It made me laugh to hear little gutters, that I could jump over, called rivers! The Thames was but 'a creek!' But when, in about a month after my arrival in London, I went to Farnham, the place of my birth, what was my surprise! Every thing was become so pitifully small! I had to cross in my postchaise the long and dreary heath of Bagshot. Then, at the end of it, to mount a hill called Hungry Hill; and from that hill I knew that I should look down into the beautiful and fertile vale of Farnham. My heart fluttered with impatience, mixed with a sort of fear, to see all the scenes of my childhood; for I had learned before the death of my father and mother. There is a hill not far from the town, called Crooksbury Hill, which rises up out of a flat in the form of a cone, and is planted with Scotch fir-trees. Here I used to take the eggs and young ones of crows and magpies. This hill was a famous object in the neighbourhood. It served as the superlative degree of height. 'As high as Crooksbury Hill,' meant with us, the utmost degree of height. Therefore, the first object my eyes sought was this hill. I could not believe my eyes! Literally speaking, I for a moment thought the famous hill removed, and a little heap put in its stead; for I had seen in New Brunswick a single rock, or hill of solid rock, ten times as big, and four or five times as high! The post-boy, going down hill, and not a bad road, whisked me in a few minutes to the Bush Inn, from the garden of which I could see the prodigious sand hill where I had begun my gardening works. What a nothing! But now came rushing into my mind all at once my pretty little garden, my little blue smock-frock, my little nailed shoes, my pretty pigeons that I used to feed out of my hands, the last kind words and tears of my gentle and tender-hearted and affectionate mother. I hastened back into the room. If I had looked a moment longer, I should have dropped. When I came to reflect, what a change! What scenes I had gone through! How altered my state! I had dined the day before at a secretary of state's, in company with Mr. Pitt, and had been waited upon by men in gaudy liveries! I had had nobody to assist me in the world. No teachers of any sort. Nobody to shelter me from the consequence of bad, and nobody to counsel me to good behaviour. I felt proud. The distinctions of rank, birth, and wealth, all became nothing in my eyes; and from that moment (less than a month after my arrival in England), I resolved never to bend before them."

Cobbett was, for a short time, a labourer in the kitchen grounds of the Royal Gardens at Kew. King George the Third often visited the gardens to inquire after the fruits and esculents; and one day, he saw here Cobbett, then a lad, who with a few halfpence in his pocket, and Swift's Tale of a Tub in his hand, had been so captivated by the wonders of the royal gardens, that he applied there for employment. The king, on perceiving the clownish boy, with his stockings tied about his legs by scarlet garters, inquired about him, and specially desired that he might be continued in his service.

* * * * *


During his residence at Nether Stoney, Coleridge officiated as Unitarian preacher at Taunton, and afterwards at Shrewsbury. Mr. Hazlitt has described his walking ten miles on a winter day to hear Coleridge preach. "When I got there," he says, "the organ was playing the 100th psalm, and, when it was done, Mr. Coleridge rose and gave out his text:—'He departed again into a mountain himself alone.' As he gave out his text, his voice rose like a stream of rich distilled perfume; 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. The idea of St. John came into my mind, of one crying in the wilderness, who had his loins girt about, and whose food was locusts and wild honey. The preacher then launched into his subject, like an eagle dallying with the wind. The sermon was upon peace and war—upon Church and State; not their alliance, but their separation; on the spirit of the world and the spirit of Christianity; not as the same, but as opposed to one another. He talked of those who had inscribed the cross of Christ on banners dripping with human gore! He made a poetical and pastoral excursion; and, to show the fatal effects of war, drew a striking contrast between the simple shepherd-boy driving his team a-field, or sitting under the hawthorn, piping to his flock, as though he should never be old, and the same poor country-lad crimped, kidnapped, brought into town, made drunk at an alehouse, turned into a wretched drummer-boy, with his hair sticking on end with powder and pomatum, a long cue at his back, and tricked out in the finery of the profession of blood.

"'Such were the notes our once-loved poet sung;'

and, for myself, I could not have been more delighted if I had heard the music of the spheres."

* * * * *


Fontenelle, who lived till within one month of a century, was very rarely known to laugh or cry, and even boasted of his insensibility. One day, a certain bon-vivant Abbe came unexpectedly to dine with him. The Abbe was fond of asparagus dressed with butter; Fontenelle, also, had a great gout for the vegetable, but preferred it dressed with oil. Fontenelle said, that, for such a friend, there was no sacrifice he would not make; and that he should have half the dish of asparagus which he had ordered for himself, and that half, moreover, should be dressed with butter. While they were conversing together, the poor Abbe fell down in a fit of apoplexy; upon which Fontenelle instantly scampered down stairs, and eagerly bawled out to his cook, "The whole with oil! the whole with oil, as at first!"

Previous Part     1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse