Gossip in the First Decade of Victoria's Reign
by John Ashton
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He next got mixed up in a smuggling affair, H.M. sloop Lively having captured a smuggling craft (the Admiral Hood) off the Goodwin Sands. He attended the examination of the smugglers before the magistrates at Rochester, attired in a fancy costume, and having a small scimitar suspended from his neck, by a massive gold chain. He defended one of the men, who, despite his advocacy, was convicted. He then offered himself as a witness, swore that he had seen the whole transaction, that there was no smuggling, and that the Lively was to blame. This the prosecution could not stand; he was indicted for perjury, and was tried at Maidstone on 25 July, 1833. The sentence of the Court was imprisonment and transportation, but, being proved to be insane, this was commuted to confinement in the lunatic asylum, at Barming Heath. After about four years spent in this establishment, he was released, on security being given for his future good behaviour. He then went to live at the residence of Mr. Francis, of Fairbrook, in the neighbourhood of Boughton, near Canterbury. Owing to some misunderstanding with the family, he removed to an adjoining cottage, and, at the time of which I write, he lived at a farm-house, called Bossenden farm, occupied by a person named Culver.

The influence obtained, by this maniac, over the small farmers and peasantry in his neighbourhood, is most astonishing. They believed in all he told them; first that he should be a great chieftain in Kent, and that they should all live rent free on his land, and that if they would follow his advice, they should have good living and large estates, as he had great influence at Court, and was to sit at the Queen's right hand, on the day of her Coronation. It would seem as if his madness, then, was personal and political, but the religious mania speedily developed itself. He told his deluded followers that they were oppressed by the laws in general, but more particularly by the new poor law; and called upon them to place themselves under his command. Nearly 100 at once joined him, and as they marched through the neighbouring parishes their numbers increased. It was then that he proclaimed his divinity—assuring them that both he and they were not only invincible, but bullet proof, and that they could never die.

[Picture: Death of Sir Wm. Courtenay. (Thom). 1838]

The following account, which appears to me to be the most succinct of those I have seen, is from the Times of 1 June:

"On Monday (28 May) they sallied forth from the village of Boughton, where they bought bread, and proceeded to Wills's house, near Fairbrook. A loaf was broken asunder, and placed on a pole, with a flag of white and blue, on which was a rampant lion. Thence they proceeded to Goodnestone, near Faversham, producing throughout the whole neighbourhood the greatest excitement, and adding to their numbers by the harangues occasionally delivered by this ill-fated madman. At this farm Courtenay stated that 'he would strike the bloody blow.' A match was then taken from a bean stack, which had been introduced by one of the party. They next proceeded to a farm at Herne Hill, where Courtenay requested the inmates to feed his friends, which request was immediately complied with. Their next visit was at Dargate Common, where Sir William, taking off his shoes, said, 'I now stand on my own bottom.' By Sir William's request, his party went to prayers, and then proceeded to Bossenden farm, where they supped, and slept in the barn that night. At 3 o'clock, on Tuesday morning they left, and proceeded to Sittingbourne to breakfast, where Sir William paid 25s.; they then visited Newnham, where a similar treat was given at the 'George.' After visiting Eastling, Throwley, Selwich Lees and Selling, and occasionally addressing the populace, holding out to them such inducements as are usually made by persons desirous of creating a disturbance, they halted, in a chalk pit, to rest, and, on Wednesday evening, arrived at Culver's farm, called Bossenden, close to the scene of action. Mr. Curling, having had some of his men enticed from their work, applied for a warrant for their apprehension. Mears, a constable, in company with his brother, proceeded to Culver's house, when, on application being made for the men alluded to, Sir William immediately shot the young man who accompanied his brother in the execution of his duty. Such was the excitement, and the desperate menaces of Sir William and his party, that it became necessary for the magistrates to interfere to put a stop to the proceedings, by the capture of the ringleader of the party, from whose advice to his followers the most serious consequences were likely to ensue. At 12 o'clock, they assembled at a place called the Osier Bed, where every means were resorted to, to quell the disturbance, but without success. Sir William defied interruption to his men, and fired on the Rev. William Handley, of Herne Hill, who, with his brother, was assisting to take him into custody. They then made their way to Bossenden Wood, where they lay in ambush; but, as no means appeared to present themselves, by which the ringleader could safely be secured, he being evidently mad, and in possession of loaded firearms, threatening to shoot the first man who interfered with him, it became necessary to apply for the assistance of the 45th regiment, stationed in Canterbury barracks. On the arrival of a detachment of this regiment, they proceeded to the wood, where the party was awaiting their arrival.

"A few minutes previous to the attack, Sir William loudly halloed to his companions, supposed for the purpose of getting them prepared for the fight.

"Sir William, on perceiving his opponents, advanced with the greatest sang froid, and deliberately shot Lieutenant Bennett of the regiment, before his own men. This occasioned a return from the man covering his officer, who advanced, and shot Sir William, who fell, and died instantly. The excitement, at that period, occasioned by each party losing its commander, caused a desperate attack, which terminated in the death of ten persons, besides the brother of the constable shot in the morning, and several others seriously wounded, of some of whom little hopes are entertained of their recovery. The weapons in the hands of the followers of Sir William, were chiefly, if not altogether, heavy bludgeons."

The following, from a correspondent, goes far to show the delusions shared by this maniac and his followers:

"The mention of this lad's name, reminds me that his mother is said to have done more than any other person in the parish to foster and encourage the belief which she herself entertained, that Thom was our blessed Redeemer and Saviour. So steadfast was she in her belief, that when, after the battle in the wood, a neighbour went to tell her 'the awful news,' that Thom was killed, and her own son wounded, she would not credit the information. 'Sir William killed!' said she, 'no, no, you can't kill him; it is not the truth, it is not possible.' The reply to her was: 'It is the truth, and it is possible.' She again asserted that it was not possible. Again the reply was: 'It is possible, and it is as true as that your poor boy has got a shot in his thigh.' Then, and not till then, would she credit that her son was hurt. But as to Sir William, she still remained incredulous, saying: 'Mind, three days will show you and all the world what Sir William is. When that time is elapsed, you will see whether he is not that which he professes to be.'

"Of the general belief in the neighbourhood that he was the Saviour, I saw a strong proof in some writing which I found on the parsonage barn at Herne Hill. It has been there for the last ten days, and is said to be in the handwriting of Wills. On the left side of the door is written, in one long line, these words, with spelling and capitals just as I have copied them:—'If you newho was on earth your harts Wod turn'; then in another: 'But dont Wate to late'; and then, in a third, 'They how R.' On the right side of the door is the following: 'O that great day of gudgment, is close at hand'; in another: 'it now peps in the dor every man according to his woks'; and in a third: 'Our rites and liberties We Will have.' I mentioned some of them in a former communication. At one of the places where he ordered provisions for his followers, it was in these words: 'Feed my sheep.' To convince his disciples of his divine commission, he is said to have pointed his pistol at the stars, and told him that he would make them fall from their spheres. He then fired at some particularly bright star; and, his pistol having been rammed down with tow steeped in oil, and sprinkled over with steel filings, produced, on being fired, certain bright sparkles of light, which he immediately said were falling stars. Again, in the early part of his progress on Monday, he went away from his followers with a man named Wills, and two of the other rioters, saying to them, 'Do you stay here, whilst I go yonder,' pointing to a bean stack, 'and strike the bloody blow.' When they arrived at the stack, to which they marched with a flag, the flag bearer laid his flag on the ground, and knelt down to pray. The others then put in, it is said, a lighted match; but Thom seized it and forbade it to burn, and the fire was not kindled. This, on their return to the company, was announced as a miracle worked by the Saviour. There is another of his acts, which he mentioned as one of the proofs of his Divinity, that I confess myself at a loss to understand. After he had fired one shot at the constable, Mears, and subsequently chopped at him with his dirk, he went into the house, seized a loaded pistol, and on coming out, said: 'Now, am I not your Saviour?' The words were scarcely out of his mouth, when he pulled the trigger of his pistol, and shot Mears a second time."

He administered a parody on the blessed Sacrament, in bread and water to his followers, before the encounter and harangued them. He told them on this occasion, as he did on many others, that there was great opposition in the land, and, indeed, throughout the world, but, that if they would follow him, he would lead them on to glory. He told them he had come to earth on a cloud, and that, on a cloud, he should some day be removed from them; that neither bullets nor weapons could injure him, or them, if they had but faith in him as their Saviour: and that if 10,000 soldiers came against them, they would either turn to their side, or fall dead at his command. At the end of his harangue, Alexander Foad, a respectable farmer, and one of his followers, knelt down at his feet and worshipped him; and so did another man named Brankford. Foad then asked Thom whether he should follow him in the body, or go home and follow him in heart. To this Thom replied: "Follow me in the body." Foad then sprang on his feet in an ecstasy of joy, and, with a voice of great animation, exclaimed: "Oh, be joyful! Oh, be joyful! The Saviour has accepted me. Go on—go on, till I drop, I'll follow thee!" Brankford was also accepted as a follower, and exhibited the same enthusiastic fervour, while Thom uttered terrific denunciations of eternal torture in hell fire against all who should refuse to follow him.

With the death of Thom and his deluded followers, the excitement calmed down, and entirely subsided after the trial of nine prisoners, which took place at Maidstone, on the 9th of August, before Lord Denman. They were charged on two counts: first, with aiding and abetting John Thom, alias Courtenay, in the murder of Nicholas Mears, on the 31st of May, and second, with being principals in the murder. Lord Denman charged the jury that, if they were of opinion that Thom was of unsound mind, so that, if he had been put upon his trial, he could not have been convicted of murder, the principal being acquitted, the accessories must also be acquitted, and the prisoners could not be found guilty on the first count. This, the jury acquiesced in, and brought in a verdict of "guilty" on the second count, with a strong recommendation to mercy on account of the infatuation under which they were led astray by Courtenay. Lord Denman pronounced sentence of death upon the prisoners, but added, that their lives would be spared. Two were sentenced to transportation for life; one to transportation for ten years; and the remainder to be imprisoned for one year, and kept to hard labour in the House of Correction, one month in solitary confinement.


The Queen's Coronation—The Carriages—The fair and festivities in Hyde Park—The Marquis of Waterford's drive—His pranks at Melton Mowbray—Steam carriages—Dog carriages—Grand dinner at Guildhall.

The next event which occupied the public attention was the Queen's Coronation, which took place on the 28th of June. It was, like the "Half Crownation" of William IV., a much plainer affair than that of George the Magnificent, the walking procession of all the estates of the realm, and the banquet in Westminster Hall, with all the feudal services thereunto belonging, being wholly dispensed with. The day began badly, with a cold shower about 8 a.m., but it cleared off, and the sun shone out fitfully, throughout the time the ceremony occupied—the head of the procession starting from Buckingham Palace at 10 a.m., and the Queen reaching Westminster Abbey at half-past eleven. Next to the Queen herself, the principal attraction in the procession was the equipages and liveries of the Ambassadors Extraordinary, chief among which was the carriage of Marshal Soult (who represented France), which had formerly belonged to the last great prince of the House of Conde, the father of the Duc de Bourbon, and which, by its superior magnificence, eclipsed all other vehicles. Besides which, it held the Duke of Dalmatia, Wellington's old foe, who had now come to visit, in peace, the country he had so manfully fought against.

Of the ceremony itself, I say nothing—everything was done decorously and in order. It took a long time, for it was a quarter to four when the royal procession reformed and took its way through the nave of the abbey. The Queen entertained a party of 100 at dinner; and, in the evening, witnessed, from the roof of her palace, the fireworks discharged in the Green Park. The Duke of Wellington gave a grand ball at Apsley House, for which cards of invitation were issued for 2,000 persons.

As an indication of the numbers of people set down at the Abbey, I may mention that the carriages which were ordered to proceed (after setting down) to the south side of Westminster Bridge, occupied a line from the bridge to Kennington Cross (more than a mile). The carriages which were to proceed, after setting down their company, to the west side of London, formed a line nearly to Kensington (a mile and a half). Those ordered to wait in the Strand extended, in double lines, to St. Mary le Strand, and those directed to wait in Bird Cage Walk, St. James's Park, occupied (in double rows) the whole line to Buckingham Palace.

There was a balloon ascent from Hyde Park, which was a comparative failure, for it descended in Marylebone Lane, quite done up with its short journey, and another sent up from Vauxhall, which was more successful. There were grand displays of fireworks in the Green and Hyde Parks, and all London was most beautifully and brilliantly illuminated.

But the great thing was the Fair in Hyde Park, which had official leave to exist for two days—but which, in fact, lasted four. The area allotted to it comprised nearly one third of the Park, extending from near the margin of the Serpentine to within a short distance of Grosvenor Gate. The best account I know of this Fair is in The Morning Chronicle of 29 June, and I here reproduce it:

"Of all the scenes which we witnessed, connected with the Coronation, probably this was the most lively, and that in which there was the least confusion, considering the mass of persons collected together. Our readers are already aware that the Fair was permitted to take place by the Government, on the petition of the present holders of the show which formerly belonged to the celebrated Richardson; and it was to their care, together with that of Mr. Mallalieu, the Superintendent of Police, that its general management was entrusted. In justice to those gentlemen, we must say that the arrangements made for the accommodation of the public were admirable, while they were carried out with the very greatest success. The booths were arranged in a square form, and covered a space of ground about 1,400 feet long and about 1,000 feet broad.

"They were arranged in regular rows, ample space being allowed between them for the free passage of the people; and they consisted of every variety of shape, while they were decked with flags of all colours and nations. One portion of the fair was set apart exclusively for ginger-bread and fancy booths, while those rows by which these were surrounded were appropriated to the use of showmen, and of persons who dealt in the more substantial articles of refreshment. Of the latter description, however, the readers would recognize many as regular frequenters of such scenes; but, probably, the booth which attracted the greatest attention, from its magnitude, was that erected by Williams, the celebrated boiled beef monger of the Old Bailey. This was pitched in the broadest part of the fair, and immediately adjoining Richardson's show; and, at the top of it was erected a gallery for the use of those who were desirous of witnessing the fireworks in the evening, and, to which, access was to be procured by payment of a small sum.

"While this person, and the no less celebrated Alger, the proprietor of the Crown and Anchor, were astonishing the visitors with the enormous extent of the accommodation which they could afford the public, others set up claims of a character more agreeable to the age in the exceedingly tasty mode in which they had decorated their temporary houses. Of these, that which struck us as most to be admired, was a tent erected by a person named Bull, of Hackney, the interior of which, decorated with fluted pillars of glazed calico, had a really beautiful appearance. It would be useless, however, to attempt to particularize every booth, for each held out its alluring attractions to the gaping crowd with equal force, and each appeared to be sufficiently patronized by the friends of its proprietor.

"Not a few, in addition to the solid attractions of eating and drinking, held out those of a more 'airy' description, and, in many, it was announced that a 'grand ball' would be held in the evening, 'to commence at six o'clock'; whilst, in others, bands of music were heard 'in full play,' joining their sweet sounds to the melodious beatings of gongs and shouting through trumpets of the adjoining shows. In attractions of this kind we need only say that the fair was, in most respects, fully equal to any other at which we ever had the good fortune to be present, whether at Greenwich, or Croydon, or in any other of the suburban or metropolitan districts. Beef and ham, beer and wine, chickens and salad, were all equally plentiful, and the taste of the most fastidious might be pleased as to the quality, or the quantity, of the provisions provided for him. In the pastry cooks' booths, the usual variety of gingerbread nuts, and gilt cocks in breeches, and kings and queens, were to be procured; while, in some of them, the more refined luxury of ices was advertised, an innovation upon the ancient style of refreshment which we, certainly, had never expected to see introduced into the canvas shops of the fair pastry cooks.

"While these marchands were holding out their various attractions to the physical tastes of the assembled multitude, the showkeepers were not less actively employed in endeavouring to please the eye of those who were willing to enjoy their buffooneries, or their wonders. Fat boys and living skeletons, Irish giants and Welsh dwarfs, children with two heads, and animals without any heads at all, were among the least of the wonders to be seen; while the more rational exhibition of wild beasts joined with the mysterious wonders of the conjuror and the athletic performances of tumblers, in calling forth expressions of surprise and delight from the old, as well as from the young, who were induced to contribute their pennies 'to see the show.'

"Nor were these the only modes of procuring amusement which presented themselves. On the Serpentine river a number of boats had been launched, which had been procured from the Thames, and watermen were employed, during the whole day, in rowing about those who were anxious to enjoy the refreshing coolness of the water after the turmoil and heat of the fair. Ponies and donkeys were in the outskirts of the fair, plentiful, for the use of the young who were inclined for equestrian exercise, while archery grounds and throw sticks held out their attractions to the adepts in such practices, and roundabouts and swings were ready to gratify the tastes of the adventurous. Kensington Gardens were, as usual, open to the public, and not a few who were fearful of joining in the crowd, contented themselves here, in viewing the gay scene from a distance. Timorous, however, as they might be, of personal inconvenience, they did not fail to enjoy the opportunities which were afforded them of looking into the book of fate; and we observed many of the fairest parts of the creation busily engaged in deep and private confabulations with those renowned seers, the gypsies.

"With regard to those persons who visited the fair, we must say we never saw a more orderly body. From an early hour the visitors were flocking in; but it was not until Her Majesty had gone to Westminster Abbey that the avenues approaching Hyde Park became crowded. Then, indeed, the countless thousands of London appeared to be poured forth, and all seemed to be bound for the same point of destination. Thousands who had taken up their standing places at Hyde Park Corner, poured through the gate; whilst many who had assumed positions at a greater distance from the Parks, passed through the squares and through Grosvenor Gate. Every avenue was soon filled, every booth was soon crammed full of persons desirous of procuring refreshment and rest after the fatigue of standing so long in the crowd to view the procession.

"These, however, were not the only persons who joined the throng. Every cab, coach, or omnibus which had been left disengaged, appeared to be driving to the same point, full of passengers. Fulham, Putney, Mile End and Brixton alike contributed their vehicles to carry the people to the Parks, and thousands from the very extremity of the City were to be seen flocking towards the Fair. All seemed bent on the same object, that of procuring amusement, and work seemed to have been suspended, as if by common consent. While the East-end thrust forth her less aristocratic workmen, the West-end was not altogether idle in furnishing its quota to the throng, and we noticed many really elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen alight from their carriages to view the enlivening scene; and many of them, who were, apparently, strangers to such exhibitions, were, evidently, not a little amused at the grotesque imitations of those amusements in which the aristocracy delight.

"Carriages of every description were admitted into the Parks, and the splendid carriage of an aristocrat was not unfrequently followed by the tilted waggon of some remover of furniture, with its load of men, women and children, who had come to 'see the fun.' All seemed, alike, bent on amusement; all, alike, appeared to throw aside those restraints which rank, fashion, or station had placed upon them, and to enter fully into the enjoyment of the busy scene in which they were actors. The delightful locality of the Fair, the bright sunbeams playing upon the many-coloured tents, the joyous laughter of the people, untouched by debauchery, and unseduced by the gross pleasures of the appetite; the gay dresses of the women, all in their best; joined in making the scene one which must live long in the recollection of those who witnessed it. All appeared to remember that this was the day of the Coronation of a Queen, so youthful, so beautiful, so pure, and all appeared to be determined that no act of insubordination or of disorder on their part should sully the bright opening of a reign so hopeful, and from which so much happiness is to be expected.

"We have already said that the arrangements of the fair were excellent; but, while these called forth our admiration, the exceeding attention paid to the public by the police force appeared to prevent the possibility of accident or robbery. All gambling booths and thimble riggers had, of course, been necessarily excluded, but we fear it was not possible to shut out all those persons whose recollection of the laws of meum and tuum was somewhat blunted. We heard of numerous losses of small sums, and of handkerchiefs and other trifles, but, throughout the day, we gained no information of any robbery which was of sufficient extent to produce more than a temporary inconvenience to the person robbed. A temporary police station was erected in the grounds, in which Mr. Mallalieu and a considerable portion of his men were in attendance during the day; but, although there were, necessarily, some cases in which slight acts of intemperance were visible, nothing of any serious importance occurred during the whole of the early part of the day.

"The orderly conduct of the people, which we have already described as having been observable during the morning, was maintained through the rest of the day. Notwithstanding that the crowd, at three o'clock, had increased tenfold, no disturbance nor riot occurred. The return of Her Majesty attracted a few from the crowd, but nearly every one returned, and all remained for the grand attraction of this part of the day's amusement—the fireworks. As evening closed in, the fatigue of the people rendered rest, as well as refreshment, necessary, and every booth was, in a short time, crowded with eager inquiries for eatables and drinkables. The dancing booths were crowded to suffocation, and the viands of the purveyors of grog were soon put into requisition."

The next day was stormy and wet at first, but afterwards turned out fine, and the Fair was crowded. On the third day, a booth caught fire, but no great damage was done. On the fourth, and last day, the Queen drove as close to it as she well could do, and all the booths were cleared away that night.

The Marquis of Waterford still continued his mad pranks, and he was brought before Mr. Dyer, the Magistrate at Marlborough Street, on 30 June, charged with being drunk and disorderly in Piccadilly at 5 o'clock in the morning.

Policeman Ellis, C 91, saw the Marquis, with two or three other persons and a woman in his cab, driving down the Haymarket, and committing the insane freak of making the foot pavement his road. The policeman had no hope of overtaking the Marquis, from the speed at which his lordship was driving; he, however, followed as fast as he could, and, when the Marquis turned into Piccadilly, he saw his lordship again pull his horse on the pavement, and drive on, to the imminent danger of foot passengers. The cab went against some posts, and this brought the horse to a standstill. The policeman ran up, and after much difficulty and opposition on the part of the Marquis's friends, he succeeded in lodging his lordship in the station house. His lordship was too drunk to allow his being enlarged on bail.

In explanation, the Marquis said he had a young horse in his cab, which was very difficult to drive. The animal, having a heavy load behind him, became unmanageable, and went, in spite of all he could do, on the pavement.

The policeman, in the most positive manner, said he saw the Marquis pull his horse upon the foot pavement, and whip the animal to make him go the faster.

The Marquis declared, "upon his honour," he did not go more than five yards upon the pavement.

The policeman declared the Marquis drove about 100 yards on the pavement in the Haymarket, and about 100 yards more upon the pavement in Piccadilly. The concussion against the post was so great, that the woman was thrown six yards out of the cab.

Marquis: I was thrown out myself. The fact is, I consider this charge to be quite unwarranted. No one was hurt, and the policeman exceeded his duty in taking me to the station house.

Mr. Dyer: The policeman states you were intoxicated.

Marquis: Why, I had been about all night, and I don't think I was very sober.

Policeman: You had your collar and shirt open, and your chest was quite exposed.

Marquis: I was dressed just as I am at present.

Policeman: Your coat is now buttoned up; it was not so when I took you in charge. You said, when I took you, you would defy your brother to drive your horse.

Marquis: I might have said so because none of my brothers are in town. But the horse is only four years old, has never had a collar on before, and I'll defy any man to drive him the length of this street.

Mr. Dyer: It was the more imprudent on your lordship's part to bring such an unsafe animal into the public streets, especially at the present time, when the streets are more than usually thronged. Have you any witnesses?

Marquis: Yes, I can bring them, but I had rather not.

Mr. Dyer: If they can allege anything in contradiction of the charge of wilful driving on the footpath, I am willing to hear it.

Marquis: No. It will be a fine, I suppose, and I had rather pay it than trouble my friends to come forward. I'll call my horse, if your Worship thinks proper.

Mr. Dyer then inflicted a fine of 40s.

The Marquis paid the money, and, turning to the policeman, made some unhandsome remarks on his evidence.

Mr. Dyer said the policeman bore an excellent character, and, as far as the magistrates could judge, had always done his duty fairly and respectably.

The Marquis took the arm of his friend, the Earl of Waldegrave, and left the office.

We hear of him again very shortly afterwards, for on 31 July, at Derby assizes, came on an indictment charging the Marquis of Waterford, Sir F. Johnstone, Hon. A. C. H. Villiers, and E. H. Reynard, Esq., with a riot and assault. On the 5th April were the Croxton Park races, about five miles distance from Melton Mowbray. The four defendants had been dining out at Melton on the evening of that day; and about two in the morning of the following day, the watchmen on duty, hearing a noise, proceeded to the Market Place, and near Lord Rosebery's house saw several gentlemen attempting to overturn a caravan, a man being inside; the watchmen succeeded in preventing this, when the Marquis of Waterford challenged one of them to fight, which the watchmen declined. Subsequently, hearing a noise in the direction of the toll bar, they proceeded thither, and found the gate keeper had been screwed up in his house, and he had been calling out "Murder!"

On coming up with the gentlemen a second time, it was observed that they had a pot of red paint with them, while one carried a paint brush, which one of the constables wrested from the hand of the person who held it; but, subsequently, they surrounded the man, threw him on his back, and painted his face and neck with red paint. They then continued their games, painting the doors and windows of different persons; and, when one of their companions (Mr. Reynard) was put in the lock up, they forced the constable to give up the keys, and succeeded in getting him out. The jury found the defendants (who were all identified as having taken part in the affray) guilty of the common assault, and they were sentenced to pay a fine of 100 pounds each, and to be imprisoned till such fine be paid.

Motor cars are not the modern invention we are apt to imagine them, except as regards the power used—which, until lately, was always steam. As far back as 1769, a Frenchman, named Cugnot, made a steam carriage which carried four people, and attained a speed of two and a quarter miles an hour! But it was unfortunate to its inventor—for it came to grief in a street in Paris, and the unhappy man was imprisoned. In England our engineers exercised their inventive power in making steam carriages—Murdock in 1782, Watt in 1784, Symington in 1786—and others made models, but the first which actually ran in England was made by Trevithick and Vivian in 1803, and this, in the streets of London (which were very far from being as good as they are now), attained a speed of eight or nine miles an hour. Between the years 1827-34 there were numerous steam carriages built and tried, proving more or less successful. One made by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney ran for three months in 1831 with passengers between Cheltenham and Gloucester, while Hancock's steam omnibuses (carrying 14 to 16 passengers) ran in London pretty constantly during the years 1833-36, and often at a speed of 10 or 12 miles an hour; some of his coaches ran long journeys, such as from London to Brighton, and he was the most successful of all inventors in this line, unless we except Scott Russell, who, in 1834, ran six steam coaches between Glasgow and Paisley.

We read in the Standard of 21 June, 1838, that "Yesterday afternoon, Hyde Park presented a more than usually gay appearance, in consequence of a crowd of fashionables being assembled to witness the trial of a newly-constructed steam cab. Among the many splendid equipages were observed those of the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, the Marquis of Salisbury, the Marquis of Northampton, the Earl of Winchilsea, Lord Howick, Lord Holland, and many other distinguished personages. About 3 o'clock the object of attraction moved forward at a slow pace from the old Foot Guard Barracks, Knightsbridge, and threaded its way through the various vehicles into the Park, passing through the centre gate of the triumphal arch, and making, in the open space opposite the statue, several turns within its own length. The vehicle after the date hereof, will render themselves liable to be hours round the Park, and, from the slight noise it made, the horses passing did not appear to be frightened. The average speed of the cab was about twelve miles an hour. The vehicle was guided by Mr. Hancock, the inventor."

But, if mechanical science had advanced as far as motor cars, we were, in other ways, still as backward as Belgium and Germany are at the present, in using dogs as draught animals. This practice had increased to such an extent that it was found necessary to placard the walls of the metropolis with the following notice. "Notice is hereby given, that all persons using dogs under carts or trucks, as beasts of burden, after the date hereof, will render themselves liable to be prosecuted, and fined 2 pounds, according to the provisions of an obsolete Act lately discovered. London, 18 Aug., 1838." This scandal did not last long, for in "an Act for further improving the Police in and near the Metropolis," 2 and 3 Vict., c. 47 [17 Aug., 1839], we find that Section LVI. says, "And be it enacted, That after the First Day of January next, every person who, within the Metropolitan Police District, shall use any Dog for the purpose of drawing, or helping to draw any Cart, Carriage, Truck, or Barrow, shall be liable to a penalty of not more than Forty Shillings for the first offence, and not more than Five Pounds for the Second, or any following offence." This act was extended to all parts of the Kingdom by the 17 and 18 Vict., c. 60.

On the 13th July the Corporation of the City of London gave a grand banquet, at the Guildhall, to the foreign Princes, Ambassadors extraordinary, and Corps Diplomatique, then in the metropolis, in honour of the Queen's Coronation; and in order to completely divest the occasion of anything like a political aspect, care was taken to invite, besides the Ministers, an equal number of the elite of both parties in the State. The principal guests went in their state carriages, and the streets were crowded with sightseers who especially welcomed the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Soult. The arrangements and decorations in the Hall were almost the same as those used for the Royal banquet in the previous November, the tables and sideboards were ablaze with plate lent by the various City Companies, and the General Bill of Fare was as follows:

One hundred and twenty tureens of turtle soup, of five pints each; 17 dishes of fish, consisting of salmon, turbot, whitings, tench and eels; 40 haunches of venison; 80 dishes of fowls, capons and pullets; 40 cherry, gooseberry and currant tarts; 30 strawberry tarts; 40 dishes of potatos; 60 dishes of French beans; 30 French pies; 30 pigeon pies; 30 hams; 30 tongues; 2 barons of beef; 37 Chantilly baskets; 30 dishes of peas; 10 sirloins, ribs and rumps of beef; 45 dishes of shell fish; 30 ribs, chines and legs of lamb; 40 dishes of ducklings; 20 turkey poults; 80 jellies; 20 creams; 40 salads and cucumbers; 20 dishes of cauliflowers. DESSERT.—Seventy-five pine apples of 2lbs each; 100 dishes of hothouse grapes; 20 melons; 30 dishes of cherries; 100 dishes of strawberries; 40 dishes of currants and gooseberries; 120 cream and water ices, various; 40 dishes of dried fruit; 35 ornamented Savoy cakes; 30 dishes of preserves, biscuits and olives.

Marshal Soult stopped for some time in England, and visited many of the manufacturing towns.


Genesis of "The Charter" - L. & N. W. Railway opened to Birmingham—Overland route to India—A bold smuggler—Bull baiting—Visitors to the Queen—"The Boy Jones."

Probably nearly all my readers have heard of the "Chartists," but it is equally probable that few know when the agitation commenced, and the reason for its existence. The "Charter," as it was called, was the Radical outcome of the Reform Bill of 1832. For a time, after the passing of that Bill, the land had peace, for all reasonable reforms had been granted, but the demagogues were not going to be quietly annihilated, and an agitation for more trenchant reform was got up, and a mass meeting in its favour was held at Birmingham, on the 6th of August, and at it were inaugurated the principles of "The People's Charter," as it was called. It is currently reported that this "Charter" was drawn up by William Lovett, a carpenter and cabinet maker, who took an active part in getting rid of the stamp tax upon newspapers; and it is very likely that it was so, for he drew up most of the petitions and addresses for the movement, and, in connection with it, he, the following year, suffered 12 months' imprisonment. He died Aug. 1877. The demands of this "Charter" were six, and they were familiarly known as the six points. They were:

Universal Suffrage. Vote by Ballot. Annual Parliaments. Payment of the Members. Abolition of the Property Qualification. Equal Electoral Districts.

The meeting was got up by T. Atwood, Esq., M.P., and the site chosen for it was a large vacant piece of ground, at Birmingham, on the north-west side of the town, and there drinking booths galore were erected. The morning began very wet, and the different divisions from the neighbouring country marched bemired and bedraggled to the rendezous. There they soon filled the drinking booths, in which they abode; hence, probably, the very diverse statements as to the numbers present at the meeting, which vary from 10,000 to 200,000. The ground chosen was a natural amphitheatre, and, if the weather had been finer, it would have been a pretty sight, enlivened by the bright banners of the different Trades' Societies. However, Mr. Atwood read the Petition, which embodied the above six points, and moved its adoption. Feargus O'Connor, a well-known firebrand, seconded it in a violent speech, in which occurred the following balderdash.

"On with your green standard rearing, Go, flesh every sword to the hilt; On our side is Virtue and Erin, On yours is the parson and guilt."

Of course the Motion was enthusiastically carried, and then a very heavy shower of rain terminated the proceedings. The petition was afterwards presented to Parliament by Mr. Atwood on the 14th of June, 1839.

On 17th Sept the London and North Western Railway (then called the London and Birmingham Rly.) was opened throughout to Birmingham; the first train, containing Directors and their friends, leaving Euston at 7.15 a.m. The times of this train are useful for comparing with the present time. "The train left Euston at 15 minutes past 7, but did not take on locomotive until 20 minutes past. It arrived at Tring station at 25 minutes past 8, where there was five minutes' delay. Arrived at Wolverton at 6 minutes past 9, where the directors alighted and changed engines. The train arrived at Rugby at 11 o'clock, where the Duke of Sussex and his suite alighted, and proceeded by carriage to the place of his destination. The directors remained at Rugby 10 minutes, and arrived at Birmingham 3 minutes past 12, having performed the whole journey, including stoppages, in 4 hours 48 minutes, and, exclusive of stoppages, in 4 hours 14 minutes. This is, unquestionably, the shortest time in which the journey from London to Birmingham has ever been performed, being upwards of two hours less than the time occupied by Marshal Soult and attendants a few weeks ago."

"The fare for one person from London to Birmingham, or back, by the 'four inside' carriages, by day, or the first class, 'six inside' by night, will be 1 pound 12s. 6d; by the second-class carriages, open by day, which is the cheapest, it will be 1 pound. The intermediate fares will be 1 pound 10s. and 1 pound 5s."

It is not generally known that the two lodges at the entrance of Euston Station, were the original ticket office and waiting room.

People were beginning to wake from the torpor in which they had hitherto slumbered, with regard to locomotion, and on 12th October an influential meeting of merchants and others was held at the Jerusalem Coffee House to hear a Captain Barber unfold his scheme for a quicker communication with India. This was that passengers and goods should be taken by steam to Cairo, and thence, by omnibuses and vans to Suez—as was afterwards done by Waghorn, who was already forming an Overland Mail (see Times, 29 Nov., 1838).

With the very heavy duties on foreign goods, of course smuggling was very rife, and the Inland Revenue was defrauded on every possible occasion by the sharp wits opposed to it; and the difficulty of conviction, unless the smuggler was caught red-handed, was very considerable. The following is a case in point, and for sheer impudence, it bears the palm. 17 Oct.:

MANSION HOUSE.—A Scotchwoman, named Frances Bodmore, the wife of a Frenchman, who has been engaged in smuggling, appeared to answer for her husband, on a charge of having two two-gallon bottles of French brandy in his possession, without having paid the duty thereon.

Child, the constable, said he went into the house of the Frenchman, in Sugarloaf Court; and, while searching for other things, found the bottles under the pillows of the bed.

The Lord Mayor: Why don't your husband attend?

Woman: Why, because he knows nothing at all about the business. I think he'd be a great fool to come here without knowing for what.

The Lord Mayor: How do you get your living?

Woman: Why, as well as I can. I don't get it without running some risk for it, you may depend.

The Lord Mayor: We know you to be a consummate smuggler.

Woman: Whatever my business may be, I generally get through it like a trump. There's no nonsense about me.

The Lord Mayor (to the Revenue officer): She is constantly backward and forward between this and France, I daresay.

Woman: Yes, my Lord, I travel a good deal for the benefit of my health, and I always come back stouter than I go. (Laughter.)

Officer: She's perfectly well known, my Lord, as one of a number that are commissioned by parties in London. They are all very clever, and elude us in every possible way, and the steamers afford them great facilities.

The Lord Mayor: I can't send this woman to prison, and she knows it well, but I shall punish every experienced smuggler I catch as severely as I can. They cheat the fair trader, they endanger the vessel in which they come over, and they cheat the Government.

Woman: Ay, my Lord, that's the cleverest thing of all. Only think of cheating the Government! Well, well, I wonder where the villainy of man will end! (Laughter.)

The Lord Mayor: Take care of yourself. You think you are secure. You may go now.

Woman: Good morning, my Lord. Although you are so kind, I hope I shall never have the pleasure of seeing your face again.

The Lord Mayor was informed that great quantities of lace were brought over by women. Some had been found stitched up in the skins of wildfowl, and there was scarcely an article, dead or alive, that was not suspected of being a depository of contraband goods. It was but a short time ago, that a wretched-looking object was discovered to be the carrier of a large stock of lace. He had an old bedstead, which, in his trips to Boulogne, he used to take with him. At last, somebody on board expressed his surprise, why a ricketty piece of furniture, which looked as if it was the tenement of living animals, should be so frequent a passenger. Upon close examination, it was found that the several pieces of the bedstead had been hollowed and stuffed with lace.

The cruel old English sport of bull baiting was still continued at Stamford, in Lincolnshire, where it is said to have existed since the year 1209, in the reign of King John. The story goes that, in that year, William, Earl Warren, lord of the town, standing on the walls of his castle, saw two bulls fighting for a cow, in the castle meadow, till all the butchers dogs pursued one of the bulls (maddened by the noise and multitude) clean through the town. This sight so pleased the Earl, that he gave the castle meadow, where the bulls' duel began, for a common, to the butchers of the town, after the first grass was mown, on condition that they should find a mad bull the day six weeks before Christmas Day—for the continuation of that sport, for ever.

But the time had come for putting an end to this barbarous practice, and it was this year put down by direct interference of the Secretary of State. At Stamford, and elsewhere, it was believed that this bull baiting was legal, being established by custom; but the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with a view of setting the question at rest by the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench, caused an indictment to be preferred against several of the ringleaders. The indictment was tried at Lincoln, before Mr. Justice Park and a special jury, when several of them were found guilty; and, upon their being brought up for judgment in the Court of Queen's Bench, the Court unanimously declared the practice to be illegal; the Chief Justice, in particular, said: "It was supposed there was some matter of law—at first, there was a supposed old Charter—for the future, it must be considered as an illegal practice."

In consequence of this decision, a troop of the 14th Dragoons, together with 12 Metropolitan policemen, were sent into the town of Stamford. Placards, apprising the public of the illegality of the bull baiting, were posted in the town and neighbourhood, and the threatened and attempted repetition of this barbarous scene was prevented without any loss of life or serious injury. The bullards (as they were called) mustered in strong numbers. They had provided two fierce bulls to be hunted and tormented; but the bulls were seized and pounded by the police; and, although the ruffian mob remained in considerable numbers, no serious breach of the peace took place. But they were determined not to be altogether baulked of their sport; for a bull calf, enclosed in a cart, and followed by its lowing mother, entered the town, and was immediately seized on as a substitute for a bull. It was taken out, and hunted through the town for some time, until rescued by the police.

Every lunatic seems to have wanted to say something to the young Queen, and visitors to Buckingham Palace were very frequent, although the object of their wishes was never attained. To show the nuisance involved by these fools let me give one paragraph out of the Times, 19 Dec.:

VISITORS TO HER MAJESTY.—On Saturday night, about 9 o'clock, a very respectably dressed young man rang the bell at the tradesmen's entrance of the new Palace, and, upon being asked the nature of his business, he said he had come for the direction of his house, as he was tired, and wished to go home. Upon being asked to explain himself, he said he had just come from Sydney, and had been desired to call at the Palace by the Queen, who told him he should have a house to live in, and 150 pounds a year, for some very important spiritual communication he had made to her. The young man, whose every action showed he was a lunatic, was then told the Queen was not in town, when he turned away, observing that he would go immediately to Lord Hill, and lay his case before him. Visits of the preceding kind are very frequent at the Palace, and the tales told by the visitants are of the very strangest nature. It is only a few weeks since, an elderly man, having the appearance of a farmer, called at the Palace, and handing to the porter the certificate of his birth, requested him to let Her Majesty sign it. From inquiries made concerning this man, it was discovered that he was a respectable farmer in the neighbourhood of Exeter, from which distant place he had wandered on so strange an errand.

But of all visitors to the Royal Palace, THE BOY JONES was the most frequent and successful. Who, in this generation, knows anything about THE BOY JONES? Yet his escapades were very daring and his story is very true—but so strange is it that, in order to be believed, I must, at least, in part, give the chapter and verse for it:

The Times, 15 Dec.:

QUEEN SQUARE.—Yesterday, a lad about 15 years of age, who gave his name as Edward Cotton, whose dress was that of a sweep, but who was stated to be the son of a respectable tradesman in Hertfordshire, was charged with being found in the Marble hall of Buckingham Palace, under circumstances of an extraordinary nature. It should be stated that Buckingham Palace, even during the absence of the Queen, is guarded by the gentlemen porters of the establishment, two inspectors of the A division of police, and sentries from the Foot Guards. In spite of this, a number of cases have lately occurred at this office, where persons have been found in the interior of the Palace under unaccountable circumstances.

George Cox, one of the porters, having been sworn, said, that at five o'clock yesterday morning he saw the prisoner in the Marble hall. The latter endeavoured to make his escape into the lobby, but he pursued him, and he then took a contrary direction, across the lawn at the back of the Palace. Witness called for the sentry at the gate, and a policeman of the B Division who was on duty in James Street, caught the lad, after a long chase over the lawn. Mr. Cox added, that he found, in the lobby, a regimental sword, a quantity of linen, and other articles, all of which had been purloined from the Palace. The sword was the property of the Hon. Augustus Murray, a gentleman attached to the Queen's establishment. Witness went into that gentleman's bedroom, and the bedding was covered with soot. The prisoner had, evidently, endeavoured to get up the chimney, in order to effect his escape; there was a valuable likeness of Her Majesty, in the Marble hall, which was broken, and covered with soot; and it was supposed that the lad, in the first instance, had descended from the top of the building, and had endeavoured to make his way back again in the same manner.

James Stone, 31 B, deposed that he was called upon by the last witness to secure the prisoner. There were marks of soot in several of the bedchambers, as well as in one of the corridors of the Palace, and the Grand (or Marble) hall. He found upon him two letters, one addressed to Her Majesty, and the other to the Hon. Mr. Murray. These letters had been placed underneath Her Majesty's portrait, and had, no doubt, been taken by the prisoner at the time the picture was destroyed. Part of the scabbard of the sword was discovered in one of the beds, and a quantity of bear's grease, part of which he had placed upon his flesh, was taken from him—it belonged to one of the servants of the Palace. Upon being taken to the station house, he said he came from Hertfordshire, and that his father was a respectable man.

Mr. White, the sitting magistrate, observed that it was a most extraordinary thing that persons could get into the Palace under such circumstances.

Several persons belonging to the Palace said that every inquiry had been made, but it could not be accounted for.

Mr. White (to the prisoner): Where do you come from?

Prisoner: I came from Hertfordshire 12 months ago, and I met with a man in a fustian jacket, who asked me to go with him to Buckingham House. I went, and have been there ever since. I got my victuals in the kitchen, and I thought myself very well off, because I came to London to better myself.

Mr. White: Well, you could not go to a higher place.

Prisoner: I declare it to be the case, and I lived very well. To be sure, I was obliged to wash my shirt now and then.

Mr. White: You fared, then, altogether, pretty well?

Prisoner: Very well indeed, Sir, and I was always placed, when the Queen had a meeting with the Ministers, behind a piece of furniture in the room; but I, certainly, did live well.

Mr. White: Indeed! And which was your favourite apartment?

Prisoner: The room in front of the gardens; but I was always in the secret when the Ministers came.

Mr. White: Do you mean to tell me that you have lived in the Palace upwards of 11 months, and been concealed when Her Majesty held a Council?

Prisoner: I do.

Mr. White: Were you hid behind a chair?

Prisoner: No. But the tables and other furniture concealed me.

Mr. White: Then you could hear all Her Majesty said?

Prisoner: Oh, yes! and her Ministers too.

The prisoner's answers to the questions of the magistrate were given in the most shrewd manner possible, and he evidently appeared to be a lad of some education, but nothing further could be elicited from him.

Mr. White said it was a most singular affair, and that it should be strictly inquired into. For the present, he should remand the prisoner until Wednesday next. The magistrate also told Cox that, as he should be sitting there every day, he should be glad to receive any information upon the subject.

The letters found upon the prisoner were directed to be sent to the Palace, under seal of the Office, the prisoner having broken them open.

The case excited great interest, and, in the first instance, was sent to Bow Street; but Sir Frederick Roe being out of town, it was ordered to be heard at this office.

The Times, 20 Dec.—Yesterday, the lad found in Buckingham Palace, who had given his name as Edward Cotton, and described himself as the son of a respectable tradesman living in the town of Hertford, was brought before Messrs. White and Gregorie for final examination. It will be recollected that he had purloined, amongst other articles, two letters, which were immediately sealed up, and sent back to the Palace. The prisoner turns out to be the son of an industrious tailor, named Jones, residing in York Street, Westminster; and, it appears, had frequently expressed his intention to enter the Palace, under any circumstances. He had often stated that he wished to see the grand staircase, in order to take a sketch of it, and had often expressed his determination to see the Queen, and to hear her sentiments when Her Majesty and her Ministers were assembled in Council.

Frederick Blume now deposed that he was valet to the Hon. Mr. Murray, and that a sword, a quantity of linen and other articles, had been stolen from that gentleman's apartments in the Palace.

Mr. White: When were they stolen?

Witness: I can't recollect.

Mr. White: Was it a week, a month, or three or four months ago?

Witness: I cannot say.

Mr. White: Where was your master's sword at the time you saw it last?

Witness: When I went to Windsor.

Mr. White: When was that?

Witness: I cannot exactly recollect, and then he added, that about a week since, he had sent from Windsor to the Palace, a portmanteau containing his linen, and three pairs of trousers, four of stockings, and three cravats were missing. The padlock of the portmanteau had been forced by the sword having been applied to it. The sword had broken in the attempt. He had also lost five 10 sous pieces, which had been found upon the prisoner.

Mr. White: What is the value of the articles you have lost?

Witness: I don't know; but I should like to give three guineas to get them back.

Mr. White: Can you swear to the French coin found upon the prisoner as being yours?

The witness was then shown the coin, and he said that he certainly could. They had been taken from his bedroom.

* * * * *

Mr. White: Can any information be given as to the manner in which the prisoner gained access to the Palace? Cox, one of the porters to the Palace, said that the principal entrance door was always locked, and the key in his possession. At 5 o'clock on Saturday morning, just as he was about to get out of bed, the prisoner opened the door of his room, as witness considered, to obtain the key; his face and hands were disguised with soot and bear's grease, and he was asked whether he came to sweep a chimney: he did not make any answer, but endeavoured to escape.

Inspector Steed, A division, said that upon examining the gates of the principal entrance of the Palace, he found that, at the Marble Arch, there was a vacuum sufficient to admit a boy into the Palace, without any inconvenience.

Mr. White: And is there no sentry at this gate?

Witness: There are two.

The inspector said that he had examined the boy's boots, and the gravel upon them corresponded with that lately laid down close to the Marble Arch. The boots had been taken off by the prisoner, and left in one of the apartments appropriated to the use of the porters of the Palace.

Mr. Griffiths, builder, Coventry Street, said that the lad had been in his employment for a few months; he had always expressed his intention to get into the interior of the Palace by some means or other; he was a clever lad, and had made a sketch of the exterior, and a view of the enclosure fronting the Palace. He had left his service two days since, and witness was very much distressed, as were his parents, to know what had become of him. Upon reading the accounts in the newspapers, he immediately went to Tothill Fields, and identified him, much to the gratification of his father, who supposed that he had drowned himself, the latter having, on account of his son's bad conduct, turned him out of doors.

The Magistrate, after telling the boy that he would, most likely, be committed for trial, asked him what he could say in his defence.

Prisoner: I wished to see the Palace, and I went in with a man in a fustian jacket. I had the whole range of the Palace for a day or two, but the money found upon me I picked up in one of the rooms.

Mr. White: Tell me the truth, for I am about to send you for trial.

Prisoner: Oh, very well; with all my heart.

He was fully committed to the Westminster Sessions, and all parties bound over to prosecute.

He was tried on 28 Dec., and was most ably defended by his Counsel, Mr. Prendergast, who turned everything to ridicule, and the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty, regarding the escapade in the light of a youthful folly, and being, also, mindful of the fact that the boy did not enter the Palace for the purpose of theft.

But we shall hear of THE BOY JONES again.


Death of Lord Norbury—Birth of photography—Experimental street pavements—Forecast of the Queen's marriage—Sad story of Lady Flora Hastings—Story of a climbing boy—Van Amburgh—Embanking the Thames—Victoria Park—Robbery of gold dust.

In a book, professedly of Gossip, politics should be strictly kept in the background—but at this time Ireland was seething with sedition. Still I should hardly have adverted to it, had not the deliberate and brutal murder of the Earl of Norbury, on 1 Jan., set all tongues wagging. His Lordship was walking in the shrubbery, near his own house at Kilbeggan, in the county of Meath, talking to his steward, and pointing out to him some trees he wished to have cut down, when some miscreant, behind a hedge, fired a blunder-buss loaded with swan shot at him, and he fell, mortally wounded. He lived for 43 hours afterwards—but his assassin ran away and escaped; nor, in spite of large rewards offered, was he ever discovered.

Photography may be said to have been practically born early in this year, for, on 7 Jan., the French Academy reported on the invention of M. Daguerre, by which the pictures of the camera lucida were rendered permanent. All former attempts may be regarded as scientific dilletanteism and nothing more. The earliest known pictures caused by light on a sensitive surface were made by Thomas Wedgwood (a son of Josiah, the famous potter), whose researches were published in 1802 in the Journal of the Royal Institution, under the title: "An account of a Method of copying Paintings upon Glass, and making Profiles by the agency of Light upon Nitrate of Silver: with Observations by H. Davy." Afterwards, came Nicephore Niepce, of Chalon sur Saone, who produced permanent light pictures in 1814, and he and Daguerre went into partnership in this matter, in 1829. Fox Talbot was the first to invent a negative photograph, and he read a paper on "Photogenic Drawings" before the Royal Society, on 31 Jan., this year; and that scientific investigation of the new wonder excited the attention, even of amateurs, is shown by a letter in the Times of 21 Feb.:

"SIR,—Seeing in a newspaper, last week, that a German had found out M. Daguerre's secret, I was so impressed with that testimony to the possibility of seizing a shadow, that I thought over all the little I knew of light, colours and chymistry. The next day, I took a piece of writing paper, hastily prepared by myself, placed it behind the lens of a camera obscura, made on the spur of the moment, and obtained a satisfactory result; for the trees, in front of my house, were produced, but not the parts agitated by the wind. Since that, I have obtained, progressively improving, several landscapes, which may be called, most appositely, 'lucigraphs.' I mention my humble effort as corroborative of the reality, or feasibility of M. Daguerre's beautiful discovery; and I can readily conceive that, in a very short time, the traveller's portmanteau will not be complete without the very portable means of procuring a lucigraph at pleasure.—Yours, etc., CLERICUS, Welney, Wisbeach." This gentleman's prophecy has, long since, been verified, as the "Kodakers" all over the world can testify. But the first public experiment in England (if we exclude Wedgwood's) was made, on Sept. 13, 1839, when M. St. Croix exhibited the whole process of Daguerreotype, in presence of a select party of scientific men and artists. He also succeeded in producing a picture of the place of meeting; No. 7, Piccadilly.

* * * * *

People were beginning to wake up as to social improvements, and the better paving of, at least, the most public thoroughfares, was loudly called for. Hitherto people had been content with the old cobble stones, and wide kennels, or gutters—but henceforth there was to be inaugurated a newer and better regime, as we learn from the Observer of 6 Jan.:

"EXPERIMENTAL PAVEMENT OF OXFORD STREET.—This, doubtless, the most extraordinary and novel undertaking which has ever been attempted in the annals of road making, is, to the gratification, not only to the respectable inhabitants of Oxford Street, but to a curious public, at last, completed. On Friday (4 Jan.) at 2 o'clock, the line of this great thoroughfare, occupied by the various specimens of paving, extending from Charles Street to Tottenham Court Road, presented a most animated spectacle, being thronged by thousands of spectators anxious to witness its opening to the public. Shortly after 2 o'clock, the Paving Committee appointed by the Marylebone Vestry to superintend the arrangement of this work of art, headed by the parish beadles, in full uniform, with their maces; and accompanied by the respective projectors and the parochial authorities, arrived on the spot in procession, and passed over the ground, followed by 21 omnibuses, after which, the road was thrown open to the public. From time to time, during the progress of the work, many erroneous statements have gone the rounds of our daily contemporaries, with respect to the extent of ground allotted to the experiments, and on other matters connected with the arrangements. The following, however, being obtained from an official source, may be fully relied upon as correct: The whole space between Charles Street and Tottenham Court Road is occupied by 12 different specimens, which are completed in the following order, commencing at Charles Street: viz.—40 feet of Robinson's Parisian bitumen—24 feet laid in straight courses, and 16 feet diagonally; 74 feet of parish stone paving, 54 feet of which is laid in straight courses, the stones 9 inches deep, and the interstices filled up with Claridge's asphalte; the remaining 20 feet consisting of stones only 4.5 inches deep, but laid diagonally, and filled up with the same composition; 60 feet of the Bastenne and Gaujac bitumen, partly laid in straight courses, and partly diagonally: 135 feet of parish stone paving, divided into three sections, in the following order—1st, 70 feet of dressed Aberdeen granite, with concrete bottom, and the joints grouted with lime and sand; 2nd, 40 feet of the same, laid diagonally; and 3rd, 25 feet of dressed Aberdeen granite, without concrete bottom, the joints filled in with fine gravel; this is followed by 50 feet of the Scotch asphaltum, which is entirely the produce of this country, laid down in straight courses: 60 feet of Mr. Stead's pavement, of wooden blocks, of a sexagonal form, 12 inches deep, divided into three compartments, one prepared with Kyan's patent, part dipped in, and joints run with asphalte, and part without any preparation whatever: the last specimen, at Tottenham Court Road, is 60 feet of the Val de Travers bitumen, a portion of which consists of square blocks, laid in straight courses, and the remainder consisting of a layer of clean Guernsey chippings cemented together by boiling asphalte, run among them nearly to the surface, and a face made with asphalte, merely showing the chippings, here and there, in patches. The whole work presents a most even and beautiful road, and, yesterday, during the day, attracted the notice of many hundreds of persons. The portion, however, it is but justice to add, to which attention was more particularly directed, was that of the wooden blocks, the noiseless tendency of which, made the vehicles passing along, appear to be rolling over a thick carpet or rug. The time allowed by the Vestry of St. Marylebone for the test of these experiments, is until the last Saturday of June next, when the official report of the surveyors will be laid before that body, and upon which the fate of Oxford Street depends."

People began to feel that it was high time that the Queen should marry—but, as yet, no signs of such a thing, and no speculations, as far as I can see, were hazarded as to who her future consort should be. At length, one newspaper, the Sun, seems to have been inspired, by authority, and is thus quoted in the Times of 24 Jan.:—"'MARRIAGE OF HER MAJESTY.—The country will learn with delight that the most interesting part of the speech from the throne {81a} to both Houses of Parliament, and the country at large, will be the announcement of Her Majesty's intended marriage. The happy object of Queen Victoria's choice is Prince Albert, son of the reigning Duke of Saxe Coburg, and cousin of Her Majesty. Prince Albert is handsome, and about 22 years of age. He has resided, for some time, in this country, on a visit to his Royal relatives. How soon the happy event is to take place, we are not prepared to say, but our readers may depend upon the authenticity of our information.'—The Sun. Has not some wag been hoaxing the editor? We suspect so, though, at the same time, we do not profess to have any knowledge on the subject."

* * * * *

Indeed, it was about time that the Queen married, and got out of the leading strings of the women folk who surrounded her. Had she been married, we should, probably, have never heard of the sad episode of Lady Flora Hastings.

This lady, who was highly accomplished, and the authoress of some pretty poems, {81b} which were published after her death, was the eldest daughter of Francis, Marquis of Hastings, and Flora, Countess of Loudon, and was lady of the bedchamber to the Duchess of Kent. Two old busybodies, the Ladies Portman and Tavistock, spread the vile and unfounded rumour that the unfortunate lady was enceinte, and the Queen forbade Lady Flora to appear at Court until she had submitted to the indignity of a medical examination. The case called forth some very strong feeling—and a vast quantity of correspondence was published on the subject, especially the indignant letters of the poor lady's mother to the Queen; but, perhaps, the most temperate account of the whole affair, is in a letter from Lady Flora's uncle, Mr. Hamilton Fitzgerald, which was published in the Examiner of Sunday, 24th of March, and, afterwards, copied into all the daily papers.

"SIR,—Many false and contradictory reports of the deplorable insult which has been lately offered to my niece, Lady Flora Hastings, at Buckingham Palace, having appeared in the public papers, I, as her ladyship's nearest connection, feel it my duty to request of you to publish the following account of the transaction, for the correctness of which I vouch.

"Lady Flora arrived, some weeks since, from Scotland, very unwell. She immediately consulted Sir James Clark, the physician to both Her Majesty and the Duchess of Kent. One symptom of her complaint was a swelling of the stomach. By dint of exercise and medical treatment, she was getting better; the swelling had considerably subsided, and she had every hope of a speedy recovery; when, on or about the 1st of March, Sir James Clark went to her room, and announced to her the conviction of the ladies of the Palace that she was pregnant. In answer to all his exhortations to confession, 'as the only means of saving her character,' Lady Flora returned an indignant, but steady denial that there was anything to confess. Upon which, Sir James Clark told her, 'that nothing but her submitting to a medical examination would ever satisfy them, or remove the stigma from her name.' Lady Flora found that the subject had been brought before the Queen's notice, and that all this had been discussed, arranged and denounced to her, without one word having been said on the subject to her own mistress, the Duchess of Kent; who had no suspicion of what was going on, and whose sanction was not sought for the humiliating proposition which had been made to Lady Flora. On leaving Lady Flora's room, Sir James Clark went to the Duchess of Kent, and announced his conviction that Lady Flora was with child; and was followed by Lady Portman, who conveyed a message from Her Majesty to her mother, that the Queen would not permit Lady Flora to appear till the examination had taken place. Lady Portman (who, with Lady Tavistock, are mentioned as most active against Lady Flora) expressed to the Duchess of Kent, her conviction of Lady Flora's guilt.

"'Her beloved mistress' never, for a moment, doubted Lady Flora's innocence. She said that she knew her, her principles, and her family too well to listen to such a charge. However, the edict was given; and, the next day, Lady Flora having obtained the Duchess of Kent's very reluctant consent—'for Her Royal Highness could not bear the idea of her being exposed to such a humiliation'—but, Lady Flora, 'feeling it her duty to Her Royal Highness, to herself, and to her family, that a point blank refutation should be instantly given to the lie,' submitted herself to the most rigid examination; and now possesses a certificate, signed by Sir James Clark, and also by Sir Charles Clark, stating, as strongly as language can state it, that there are no grounds for believing that pregnancy does exist, or ever has existed. Lord Hastings, though, at the time very ill from influenza, went to London immediately, and demanded, and obtained, from Lord Melbourne, a distinct disavowal of his participation in the affair; and demanded, and obtained, an audience of Her Majesty, in which, while he disclaimed all idea that the Queen had any wish to injure his sister, he plainly, though respectfully, stated his opinion of those who had counselled her, and his resolution to find out the originator of the slander, and bring him, or her, to punishment. Lady Flora is convinced that the Queen was surprised into the order which was given, and that Her Majesty did not understand what she was betrayed into; for, ever since the horrid event, Her Majesty has shown her regret by the most gracious kindness to Lady Flora, and expressed it warmly, with 'tears in her eyes.'

"The Duchess of Kent's conduct was perfect; 'a mother could not have been kinder.' 'She immediately dismissed Sir James Clark from her service, and refused to see Lady Portman'; and has crowned her goodness by a most beautiful letter she has written to the Dowager Lady Hastings, from whom the accounts were kept, till all hope of avoiding publicity was impossible."

Her brother, the Marquis of Hastings, was indefatigable in trying to unearth the promoters of the scandal, but, from the published letters, without much result; but the unfortunate affair involved the whole Court, for a time, in unpopularity—Lady Loudon, her mother, demanded from the Queen, Sir James Clark's dismissal, but was not successful. Meantime, the object of all this agitation, after resuming, for a time, the duties of her situation, grew gradually worse, and, at length, expired, on the 5th July, at the age of 33. By the desire of Lord Hastings, a post mortem examination of the body took place, the particulars of which, attested by five of the most eminent surgeons of the metropolis, were published in the papers, and fully established the unfortunate lady's complete innocence of the charge brought against her, the cause of death being clearly shown to be enlargement of the liver.

Lady Flora's remains were removed from the palace, at an early hour in the morning, to be conveyed, by steamboat, to Scotland. Even as early as two o'clock, a considerable number of spectators were assembled, which increased in every street through which the procession passed. Four Royal carriages, including those of the Queen and the Queen Dowager, and many belonging to the nobility, accompanied the hearse. Lady Flora's body was interred, on the 15th of July, in the family vault at Loudon, Ayrshire.

There were many books and pamphlets published with regard to this affair, among which were her mother's letters to the Queen: "The Lady Flora Hastings, a Brief Sketch"—"A Warning to the Baroness Lehzen, {84} etc."—"The Palace Martyr, a Satire"—"The Dangers of Evil Council, etc."—"A Dirge on the Death of Lady Flora Hastings"—"The late Lady Flora Hastings: Statements of the Marquis of Hastings, etc."—"The Victim of Scandal."

* * * * *

At the time of which I write, climbing boys were still employed to sweep chimneys, and as a sample of the manner in which they were treated by their masters, I give the following police case. 25 Jan.:

MARLBOROUGH STREET.—Henry Riddle, foreman to Robert Towser, a chimney sweep, appeared before the magistrates on a summons charging him under the 4 & 5 Wil. IV., c. 35, with the following act of cruelty towards James Arnold, a boy about 12 years of age, and who, for some time past, had been in Towser's employ.

Mr. Rice, a baker, of 31, Up. Seymour St., Portman Sq., deposed that, on the afternoon of the 18th instant, his kitchen chimney, by some accident, caught fire; and, in consequence of information thereof being communicated to the defendant Riddle, he, soon afterwards, came to the house, bringing with him the boy Arnold, whom he, at once, desired to ascend, notwithstanding that the lighted soot was, at the time, coming down into the grate in large flakes.

Mr. Rawlinson: Did you remonstrate with Riddle upon the inhumanity of his conduct?

Complainant: I did, and begged of him not to send the boy up, as he would, inevitably, be suffocated; to which he replied, "Oh, d—-n it, I've many a time been up a chimney ten times worse than that, myself, and why can't he do it?" At this period, I had occasion to go upstairs, and made my way on to the roof, just as a friend of mine was about to pour down a quantity of water, when I begged of him not to do so, as I fancied I heard the voice of someone within a short distance of the top of the chimney; we both listened, and heard someone faintly say, "For God's sake, take the chimney pot off, or I shall be suffocated." With some difficulty we tore away the mortar, and, having removed the pot, we beheld the poor boy Arnold, who kept crying out, "Oh! pull me up, pull me up!" My friend then thrust down his arm, and, laying hold of the little sufferer, succeeded in extricating him from his perilous situation.

Mr. Rawlinson: Was the chimney, at the time, still on fire?

Complainant: It was, Sir.

Mr. Rawlinson: In what condition did the boy seem when lifted out of the chimney?

Complainant: He seemed almost in a lifeless state, and when carrying him in my arms downstairs, I was fearful he would not recover. After the lapse of a little time, I gave him a small quantity of brandy, and he, in a great measure, revived; Riddle then took hold of him, and leading him to the roof of the house, insisted upon his descending from the top to the bottom of the chimney, which he did, and he and Riddle then left the place.

Mr. Rawlinson (to Riddle): What answer have you to make for ill-treating this poor boy in so shameful a manner?

Riddle: The boy is not an apprentice, and he was not sent up the chimney until a quantity of water had been thrown down.

Mr. Rawlinson, after remarking upon the atrocious nature of the offence, ordered Riddle to find bail to answer the charge at the Sessions; at the same time expressing a hope that a severe example would be made of him.

From 1838 to 1841, there was exhibiting in London a famous lion tamer named Van Amburgh, and, in January, 1839, the Queen went to Drury Lane Theatre to witness his performance, with which she was so pleased, that she commissioned Sir Edwin Landseer to paint a picture of Van Amburgh and his lions, which was exhibited in 1839, and is now in the Royal Collection at Osborne. If I am not very much mistaken there is another, by the same artist, of the same subject, in the Duke of Wellington's town mansion, at Apsley House.

We can see how long it takes to carry out well-known and wanted improvements—take the Thames Embankment for example. Originally suggested by Wren after the great fire of London in 1666, and afterwards by William Paterson, the founder of the Bank of England, about 1694, the matter slumbered until 1767, when the Corporation of the City of London embanked one mile of the river. The question arose spasmodically until 1838, when the Corporation consulted with the Government as to the advisability of embanking the Thames all the way between London and Vauxhall Bridges, and, in Jan., 1839, the Government sanctioned surveys being made and estimates prepared; the whole correspondence concerning which may be found in the Times of 2 Feb., 1839. But no practical steps were taken in the matter until 1860, when the Metropolitan Board of Works memorialised the House of Commons, and a Committee was appointed which sat for the first time on 30 Ap., 1861. An Act for carrying out the scheme was passed on 7 Aug., 1862, and the work was commenced in Nov. of the same year. The northern (Victoria) embankment, which terminated at Whitehall Stairs, was opened (as far as the footway went) to the public on 30 July, 1868.

Victoria Park took a shorter time to mature. The first mention of it, that I can find, is in the Times of March, 1839: "The inhabitants of St. Mary, Whitechapel, are bestirring themselves to obtain the formation of a Royal Park in their neighbourhood, and the Vestry of the parish are about to bring the matter before the public." And they did so with such good effect that an Act was passed on 21 June, 1841 (4 & 5 Vic., c. 27), "To enable Her Majesty's Commissioners of Works to complete the Contract for the Sale of York House, and to purchase certain lands for a Royal Park." York House was sold to the Duke of Sutherland, and with the whole, or part, of the purchase money, the Commissioners were to purchase certain lands or hereditaments containing about 290 acres, which "shall for ever, thereafter, be taken and be a Royal Park, by the name of 'Victoria Park.'" The Park was completed, and opened to the public, in 1845.

On Monday, 25 March, occurred a most daring robbery of gold dust valued at 4,600 pounds, which, at the time, created a great sensation. It seems that two boxes of gold dust were brought to this country from Mexico, in the Sea Gull Packet, consigned to the Brazilian Mining Co., and were landed at Falmouth. They were, subsequently, transshipped on board the City of Limerick steamer, which arrived at Dublin on Sunday afternoon. The boxes were not landed at the wharf until Monday morning, and, at noon on that day, the stranger who obtained possession of them drove up to the wharf in a cab which he had hired in the city. The letter which he presented to the wharfinger for the delivery of the boxes was in the same handwriting as one which the wharfinger had received from Falmouth, and which bore the postmark of that place, in the morning. It gave particular directions respecting the boxes, and that they were only to be delivered to a gentleman who would call in the course of the day, and present a letter in the same handwriting for their delivery. The person who obtained the boxes accurately described their contents, the marks on them, and the time they were landed at Falmouth. The wharfinger, as might be expected, was completely put off his guard by the ingenuity and cunning of the thief, and delivered them over to him.

On 3 April, two Jews, Ellis and Lewis Caspar, father and son, were brought up at Lambeth Street Police Station for being concerned in the robbery; afterwards, two other prisoners, Emanuel Moses and his daughter, Alice Abrahams, were arrested, and all were committed for trial, the Caspars for stealing the gold, the other two for feloniously receiving the same, well knowing it to be stolen. They were tried at the Central Criminal Court on 24 June, the trial lasting eight days. The jury found them all guilty, but recommended Alice Abrahams to mercy, believing that she acted under the advice and influence of her father. Judgment was not pronounced on them until 3 Feb., 1840, when the three male prisoners were sentenced to fourteen years' transportation, and the female to four months' hard labour. The Jewish community tried all their influence to get these sentences modified, but the convicts sailed for Sydney in the following October. The expenses of the prosecutor in connection with the trial amounted to 2,900 pounds!

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