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Gossip in the First Decade of Victoria's Reign
by John Ashton
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On 30 May, about half-past six in the evening, as the Queen was returning from her usual drive, and was close to Buckingham Palace, she was fired at by a young miscreant named John Francis, aged 20, described as a carpenter. He was at once seized, and examined by the Privy Council. The simplest account of the event was given at the boy's trial by Col. Arbuthnot, one of the Queen's equerries, whose testimony was as follows: "My general position is about five yards in the rear of Her Majesty. Before we left the Palace, I had received an intimation which induced me to ride as close to Her Majesty as I could; and Colonel Wylde, Prince Albert's equerry, rode in the same position, on the other side. Between 6 and 7 o'clock, we were coming down Constitution Hill, when, about halfway down the Hill, I observed the prisoner; and, on the carriage reaching him, he took a pistol from his side, and fired it in the direction of the Queen. As quickly as I could, I pulled up my horse, and gave the prisoner into custody. The prisoner had, before this, caught my attention as appearing anxious to see Her Majesty. The Colonel went on to say that the utmost distance from the carriage, when Francis fired, was seven feet. The cortege had been going at the rate of eleven miles an hour; but the Colonel had given instructions at this spot, to go faster, and the postillions were driving at the rate of twelve or thirteen miles an hour. The Queen was sitting on the back seat of the carriage, on the side nearest to the prisoner. The pistol seemed to the witness to be pointed in the direct line of Her Majesty."

On the news being communicated to the Houses of Parliament, they adjourned in confusion, as it was found impossible to carry on the public business whilst in that state of excitement. Next day both Houses voted congratulatory addresses, and the same were sent by every corporate body throughout the Kingdom. The Queen, who could not fail to be affected by this attempt upon her life, nevertheless attended the Opera the same evening, and met with a most enthusiastic reception.

Francis was tried, on the charge of High Treason, at the Central Criminal Court, on 17 June, and found guilty; there being no reasonable doubt but that the pistol was loaded with something more than gunpowder. His sentence was: "That you, John Francis, be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, that you be drawn from thence on a hurdle to the place of execution, and that you be hanged by the neck until you be dead: that your head be, afterwards, severed from your body, and that your body be divided into four quarters, to be disposed of in such manner as Her Majesty shall deem fit. And the Lord have mercy on your soul!"

This sentence was commuted to transportation for life, and on 6 July he left Newgate for Gosport, and he was sent to Norfolk Island by the first transport sailing thither.

This mania for shooting at the Queen was infectious. If Oxford had not been treated so leniently, there would have been no Francis; and if there had been no Francis, there would have been no Bean. This was another young miscreant, aged 18, deformed, and very short. It was on Sunday, 3 July, when the Queen was going from Buckingham Palace to the Chapel Royal, St. James's, that, in the Mall, this boy was seen to present a pistol at the Queen. A young man named Dassett saw the act, and this is a resume of his evidence at the trial on 25 Aug.: He said he saw the royal carriages coming along, and saw the prisoner come from the crowd, draw a pistol from his breast, and present it at the carriage, at arm's length, and breast high; and then he heard the click of a pistol hammer upon the pan; but there was no explosion. He seized him, and, assisted by his brother, took him across the Mall, and gave him to Police Constable Hearn, who said "it did not amount to a charge." Another policeman, likewise, refused to take the prisoner, who only asked to have his pistol back again. The pressure of the crowd was so great, that he was obliged to let Bean go; and, afterwards, the people said that witness himself had been shooting at the Queen, and a policeman took the pistol away from him.

In his cross-examination, Dassett said that some person in the crowd laughed, and others called out that the pistol was not loaded. An Inspector of Police deposed to having received the pistol from witness, and he unloaded it; the charge was not large, and consisted of coarse gunpowder, some short pieces of tobacco pipe, and four small pieces of gravel.

Bean got away for a time, but was, afterwards, captured and tried, found guilty, and sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment in Millbank Penitentiary.

The old Duke of Cambridge (the Queen's uncle) had a fright, on the 6 July, when he was at a fete at Jesus College, Cambridge, for he lost the diamond star from his breast, valued at 500 pounds. Everybody thought it had been stolen by an expert thief, but it was afterwards found by a Police Inspector, in the gardens, much trodden on, and with three diamonds missing; so it was "All's well that ends well."

There was great distress in the manufacturing districts, and disturbances originating in a strike for higher wages, were inflamed by the Chartists, and other political agitators. Beginning in Lancashire, the riots spread through Cheshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire, and, finally, extended to the manufacturing towns of Scotland, and the collieries of Wales. There were conflicts with the military, and people were killed; altogether, matters were very serious.

It was better in London. On 19 Aug. a Chartist meeting was to be held on Clerkenwell Green, but plenty of police were there to meet them. Most of the mob were discouraged, and went home, but the police were obliged to arrest some 50 of them, and some banners were captured. Then they went to Lincoln's Inn Fields, and in Long Acre, they came into collision with the police, and some damage was done. So serious was the outlook, that all the military in the Metropolis and the suburbs were kept under arms, and there were large reserves of police at every Station House; and, next day, the magistrate, at Bow Street, had a busy day, hearing cases arising from this outbreak. On the 22nd Aug. there were Chartist meetings at Clerkenwell Green and Paddington (the latter numbering upwards of 10,000), but the worst cases were managed by the police, and no very great harm came of them.

On 22 June, Sir Robt. Peel's Bill, imposing an Income Tax, received the Royal sanction. It is 5 and 6 Vic., c. 35: "An Act for granting Her Majesty Duties on Profits arising from Property, Professions, Trades, and Offices, until the 6th day of April, 1845." We see that it was imposed only for three years, but the Old Man of the Sea, once on the popular back, has never come off; and, in all probability, never will. It began at 7d. in the pound, has been as high as 16d., and as low as 2d. There is in Blackwood's Magazine for Aug., 1842:

"THE INCOME TAX. An excellent New Song.

All you who rents, or profits draw, Enough to come within the law, Your button'd pockets now relax, And quickly pay your Income Tax.

A pleasant medicine's sure to kill, Your only cure's a bitter pill: The drugs of base deluding quacks Made Peel prescribe the Income Tax.

You can't enjoy your pint, or pot, And then refuse to pay the shot; You can't pursue expensive tracks With a toll, or Income Tax.

Ye Quakers, clad in sober suit, And all ye Baptist tribes to boot, 'Twas right, perhaps, to free the blacks, But, thence arose this Income Tax.

Ye bagmen bold, ye lovers fond, Who daily like to correspond, Remember, as you break the wax, Cheap postage means an Income Tax.

Ye noisy fools, who made a rout To try and keep the Tories out, The blunders of your Whiggish hacks Have brought us to this Income Tax.

Old Cupid's {194} wish to crush the Czar Has cost us, in the Afghan war, Both English lives and Indian lacs, And hastened on the Income Tax.

Regardless of the price of teas, They anger'd, too, the poor Chinese, The Mandarins have shown their backs, But war soon brings an Income Tax.

Yet now I hope the new tariff Will something save in beer and beef; If that be so, you'll all go snacks, And half escape your Income Tax.

At least, we poor folks fear no shock At hearing the collector's knock; His jest, the poundless poet cracks On him who calls for Income Tax."

The day of reckoning for the Rioters of August duly came, and both at York and Salford Assizes many were punished, and at the end of September Feargus O'Connor was arrested in London for sedition, as were other Chartist leaders at Manchester and Leeds. In October, more rioters were tried, and sentenced, at Stafford and Liverpool.

Even women meddled with Chartism, and on 17 Oct. a meeting of female Chartists was held at the National Charter Association in the Old Bailey, to form a female Chartist Association to co-operate with the original society. A Mr. Cohen created some dissatisfaction by speaking against the interposition of women in political affairs; he "put it to the mothers present, whether they did not find themselves more happy in the peacefulness and usefulness of the domestic hearth, than in coming forth in public, and aspiring after political rights?" Miss Inge asked Mr. Cohen, did he not consider women qualified to fill public offices? it did not require much "physical force" to vote! Mr. Cohen replied with an argumentum ad foeminam:—He would, with all humility and respect, ask the young lady, what sort of office she would aspire to fill? If she would fill one, she would fill all? He was not going to treat the question with ridicule; but he would ask her to suppose herself in the House of Commons, as Member for a Parliamentary Borough, and that a young gentleman, a lover, in that House, were to try to influence her vote, through his sway over her affections; how would she act? whether, in other words, she could resist, and might not lose sight of the public interests? (Order! Order!) He wished to be in order. He was for maintaining the social rights of women; political rights, such as he understood that meeting to aspire to, she could never, in his opinion, attain. This drew forth an energetic speech from Miss Mary Anne Walker; she "repudiated, with indignation, the insinuation that, if women were in Parliament, any man, be he husband, or be he lover, would dare to be so base a scoundrel as to attempt to sway her from the strict line of duty." Miss Walker was much applauded; and, after the business of the evening, she received the thanks of the meeting.

* * * * *

In the Times of Oct. 5, there is a paragraph about a gipsey trial, and as that curious nomad race is fast disappearing, it may prove of interest to my readers:

"A short time since, a very remarkable circumstance took place in the New Forest, Hampshire, in the instance of a gipsey, named Lee, being cast out of the fraternity. The spot where the scene took place was at Bolton's Bench, near Lyndhurst. Between 300 and 400 gipsies, belonging to different tribes, including the Lees, Stanleys, and Coopers, were assembled upon this unusual occasion. The concourse consisted of a great many females; and so secretly had the meeting been got up, that scarcely a person residing in the neighbourhood was aware that a circumstance of the sort was about to take place. The offender, a handsome-looking man, apparently between 38 and 40 years of age, was placed in the middle of a ring, composed of the King of the Gipsies, and the patriarchs of different tribes. This ring was followed by a second, made up of the male portion of the assembly; and an exterior circle was formed by the women. The King (one of the Lees), who was a venerable old man, and one who looked as though he had seen upwards of 90 summers, then addressed the culprit for nearly an hour, but in a tongue that was perfectly strange to the bystanders. The address was delivered in a most impressive manner, as might be conceived by the vehemence of the gesticulations which accompanied it. None but the gipsies themselves had the slightest knowledge of the crime which had been committed by the offender, but it must have been one evidently very obnoxious to the tribe, as the act of expulsion from among them is an exceedingly rare occurrence. As soon as the King had finished his speech to the condemned man, he turned round, and harangued the whole of the gipsies assembled; and, expressing himself in English, he informed them that Jacob Lee had been expelled from among them, that he was no longer one of their fraternity, and that he must leave the camp of the gipsies for ever. The King, then advancing towards him, spat upon him, and the circle which enclosed him simultaneously opened to admit of his retreating from among them, while they smote him with branches of trees, as he left the ground. The meeting then broke up, and the parties assembled went their different ways; some of them having come some considerable distance, in order to be present at the tribunal."

Early in November Mr. J. Simon, LL.B., was called to the Bar, being the first Jewish barrister connected with the Middle Temple. A Hebrew bible had to be obtained, on which he could be sworn, and a difficulty having arisen, owing to the custom of Jews putting on their hats when taking an oath, the size of the wig rendering it impossible in this case, it was ruled that the head was sufficiently covered by the wig.

On 31 May, 1842, an Act (5 & 6 Vic., c. 22) was passed for the demolition of the Fleet prison, and on 30 Nov., the records, books, etc., and the remaining prisoners, seventy in number, were removed to the Queen's prison. The Marshalsea was also closed, and its three prisoners were also transferred. The Fleet had been a prison ever since the time of William the Conqueror.

Writing about the Fleet prison sets one thinking of the marriages solemnized within its rules, and there is an entry in one of the registers: "The Woman ran across Ludgate Hill in her shift." In the Times of 15 Dec., I find the following, copied from the Boston Herald:

"GEDNEY.—A most extravagant exhibition took place here on Friday. A widow, named Farrow, having four children, was married to a man named David Wilkinson; and the woman having been told that if she was married, covered by nothing but a sheet, her husband would not be answerable for her debts, actually had the hardihood to go to church with nothing on but a sheet, sewn up like a sack, with holes in the sides for her arms, and in this way was married." I have come across several instances of this vulgar error.

On the 3rd Dec. was tried a famous gambling case which ended in the discomfiture of a notorious gaming-house keeper, named Bond. It was a case in the Court of Exchequer—Smith v. Bond. At the gaming house kept by the latter, the game played was, usually, "French Hazard"; and persons of rank were in the habit of staking large sums against the "bank" held by Bond, to whom reverted all the profits of the game; in one evening they amounted to 2,000 or 3,000 pounds. Considerable losses were sustained, on various occasions, by Mr. Bredall, Capt. Courtney, Mr. Fitzroy Stanhope, the Marquis of Conyngham, Lord Cantelupe and General Churchill. The action was brought under the Act 9th Anne, c. 14, to recover from Bond the sums alleged to have been unlawfully won. A verdict for the plaintiff was returned on five out of ten counts, with damages including the treble value of 3,508 pounds, the sum lost. Half the damages went to the parish.



CHAPTER XIX.

Murder of Mr. Drummond—Rebecca and her Daughters—Spread of the Movement through Wales—Its End—Rebecca Dramatised—Rebecca in London.

The year opened badly, with the assassination of Edward Drummond, Esqre., the private secretary of Sir Robert Peel. Walking quietly down Parliament Street, he was suddenly fired at by a man named Daniel McNaughton. Poor Mr. Drummond did not die at once, but lingered for a few hours. It was believed by very many people, myself among the number, that it was a political assassination, the Secretary being taken for the Premier, but the man got off on a plea of insanity, a plea which was very fashionable in favour of criminals at that time, and highly conducive to their benefit.

An episode in the Social History of England, almost unknown to the rising generation, was the reappearance, in Wales, of "Rebecca and her daughters," a riotous mob, whose grievance was, at first, purely local—they resisted the heavy and vexatious tolls, to which, by the mismanagement and abuses of the turnpike system, they were subjected. Galled by this burden, to which they were rendered more sensitive by reason of their poverty, and hopeless of obtaining any assistance or relief by legitimate means, the people resolved to take the law in their own hands, and abate the source of so much annoyance and distress by the strong arm.

The first act of destruction of the toll gates occurred in 1839, and the gates then destroyed were particularly obnoxious to the people, who entertained doubts of the legality of their erection. They were broken down in open day, with no attempt at concealment, by a mob of persons rather in a spirit of mischievous frolic than otherwise. The proposal to re-erect these gates, on the part of the trustees, was overruled by a large body of magistrates and gentlemen, many of whom qualified for trustees expressly for the occasion. This decision gave strength and encouragement to the discontented, and, no doubt, prepared the way for further violence. The gate breakers had learned their power and though they did not immediately renew the exercise of it, the lesson was not forgotten, although it slumbered until the commencement of 1843, when it appeared in a systematic and organised form.

This organization was called "Rebecca and her daughters," their leader having taken this scriptural name from a misconception of the meaning of Genesis xxiv., 60: "And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her. . . . 'let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.'" This captain of the gate breakers in the guise of a woman, always made her marches and attacks by night, and her conduct of the campaign manifested no small dexterity and address. A sudden blowing of horns and firing of guns announced the arrival of the assailants at the turnpike selected for attack. They were mounted on horseback, and generally appeared in considerable force. The leader, who gave the word of command, and directed the motion of those whom she called her daughters, was attired in a female dress of some description, wearing, also, a bonnet, or head-dress, which served the purpose of disguise. Her bodyguard were dressed up in similar manner.

Immediately on arriving at the gate, they commenced the business of the night, and proceeded to raze gate, posts, and tollhouse, with an alacrity and perseverance which soon accomplished its purpose. They, generally, sawed off the gate posts close to the ground, broke the gate to fragments, and pulled down the toll-house to its foundations. To show that the abatement of the specific grievance was their only object, they, commonly, dealt very leniently with the toll-keeper, offering him, except in rare cases, no personal violence, and allowing him to remove his furniture and property, which they never attempted to destroy or plunder. The work was no sooner done than the mysterious assailants galloped off, firing their guns, and blowing their horns, as before. No trace nor clue was to be found of the quarter whence they had come, or of the retreats to which they dispersed themselves; nor did anything in the outward appearance of the country, by day, even when these nightly outrages were at their height, give sign of the extension and compact organization which evidently subsisted among the population.

[Picture: Rebecca and her Daughters. Ill. Lon. News, 11 Feb., 1843]

The first notice I can find (in this year) of these riots is in the Times of 10 Jan., in which is the following paragraph from the Welshman:

"The state of society in Wales may surprise some of our English readers, especially when we acquaint them with the fact, that there has been, for some months past, in the neighbourhood of St. Clear, a mob of lawless depredators, amounting to about 600, who assembled nightly, for the purpose of destroying the turnpike gates on the various lines of road in the neighbourhood of St. Clear. These ruffians are headed by a very tall man, dressed, for disguise, as a female, who goes by the name of Rebecca; and, as many of his associates are likewise dressed as females, the whole gang have been christened 'Rebecca and her daughters.' These men are nearly all ably mounted, and are a terror to the neighbouring country. The Pwiltrap gate has been destroyed a great number of times and as frequently replaced by the trustees of the road; but, immediately after its re-erection, the fellows have invariably assembled in greater force than before; and, riding up to the gate, the following interesting colloquy has taken place. The leader of the mob, addressing the others in Welsh, says, 'My children this gate has no business here, has it?' to which her children reply, that it has not; the mother again asks, what is to be done with it, when the children reply, that it should be levelled with the ground. They then immediately break it down, and disperse in different directions.

"This system has continued for a length of time; and, although a reward of 50 pounds has been offered, not one of the offenders has been discovered. About 100 constables have been sworn in, and three constables from London are down there; but all precautions are ineffectual; for so surely as the constables show the slightest diminution of their vigilance, Rebecca and her daughters appear, and level the gates. A very short time ago, the policemen were after a fellow whom they suspected to belong to the gang and, while at a public house, baiting their horse, Rebecca and her daughters suddenly came in sight, and the affrighted officers of the law were obliged to fly for their lives. The gates have now been re-erected, and no fresh act of violence has occurred since the 16th ult., but the organisation of the depredators still continues; and, it is feared, will break out with fresh violence if the constabulary force be removed."

That this movement was serious and no joke, is evidenced by the fact that I have, in my notes, 45 paragraphs in the Times on the subject.

From Pembroke and Caermarthen, it gradually spread to Cardiganshire, on one side, and to Radnorshire and Glamorganshire, on the other. Brecknockshire, alone of the South Wales counties, enjoyed exemption from these disturbances. The destruction which the rioters effected in some of these districts was most extensive and unsparing. There were, at the time of the outbreak, between 100 and 150 gates, including side bars and chains, in the county of Caermarthen; of these, no less than between 70 and 80 were destroyed, the toll-houses, as well as the gates and posts, being, in many cases, razed to the ground; in some trusts not a single gate was left standing. In Pembrokeshire, and in one of the divisions of Cardiganshire, the destruction was carried on in the same wholesale manner. The trustees, at first, re-erected the gates which had been broken down, but they were again as speedily demolished by the rioters; again they were rebuilt, and again they were levelled with the ground. The trustees were, at length, compelled to desist, and the roads were left free of toll. None of these counties, except Glamorgan, possessed a paid constabulary, or any other force which could be of avail in checking the proceedings of the rioters; and the magistrates finding all local efforts unavailing, were obliged to appeal to Government for protection and support.

One of the boldest steps ventured on by the insurgents, whose confidence was, of course, much increased by their uninterrupted success, was an entry, which was made, at midday, into the town of Caermarthen, by a large body of persons on the 10th of June. About noon, the rioters began to march into the town, through the Water Street gate, which they had destroyed some time before. They were headed by a band. The leading body consisted of some thousands on foot, many of whom were Chartists and rabble of the town; a large number of women was among the crowd, and men bearing inflammatory placards. They were followed by a man in disguise, representing Rebecca; some bearing brooms with which to sweep the foundations of the tollhouse and the workhouse, and the rear was brought up by about 300 farmers on horseback. They paraded the town, passing the Hall and hooting the magistrates, and proceeded to the workhouse, which they attacked. They climbed over the high wall with which the building was surrounded, and then burst open the lodge gates and the porter's door; the horsemen rode into the yard, and surrounded the premises; and the rioters on foot soon forced an entrance into the building, and commenced their work of destruction. While the rioters were in the act of pulling down the inner doors and partitions of the Board Room, and other parts of the premises, and pitching the beds out of windows, the governor was ringing the alarm bell; and, in the midst of the tumult, came the military.

Representations of the excited state of the neighbourhood had been sent to the Home Office, and a troop of the 4th Light Dragoons had been ordered from Cardiff. An express from Caermarthen had met the Dragoons at four o'clock in the morning, just after they had passed through Neath, and were still 31 miles from their destination. They pushed on, riding the last 15 miles in an hour and a half, two horses dying from fatigue as they entered the town. They were met by one of the Magistrates, who led them to the Workhouse and read the Riot Act. The rioters were summoned to surrender; but they made an attempt to rush on the military. The Dragoons charged, using the flat of their swords, and soon put the rioters, outside the wall, to flight. Those within offered some resistance; and, for a moment, the edge of the sword was turned upon them, when they succumbed. Many escaped over the wall; but about 100 were taken prisoners, and several horses were abandoned by their riders. The disturbance which menaced so seriously the safety of the town, was thus happily put an end to, without any bloodshed or calamitous result.

As time advanced, the insurrection, which had at first been lightly thought of, and for which much allowance had been made, under the belief that the people had real grievances to complain of, assumed a more malignant and dangerous aspect. The farmers and peasantry, who in their impatience under the vexations of the tolls, had commenced it, soon fell into the hands of ill-disposed and designing men, who aggravated the excitement that prevailed, and availed themselves of the name and disguise of "Rebecca," in order to carry out their own evil and lawless purposes. Threatening letters were one of the means most freely resorted to; and great numbers, under the signature of "Rebecca," were sent about the country, conveying the most sanguinary menaces to those whose conduct had, in any way, given offence to the dastardly writers. Certain rules were laid down by conclaves of the disaffected, respecting the occupation of farms; and all who presumed to contradict the edicts of this invisible authority, were marked out, and denounced as victims to the just vengeance of Rebecca. The more active magistrates, as well as the tithe-owners and clergy, were made the special objects of this cowardly system of intimidation. In some instances, the rioters proved that their threats were not without meaning. Guns were fired into the houses of persons who had fallen under the popular displeasure. Some had their property fired, or otherwise injured; and a growing feeling of alarm and insecurity began to pervade the peaceable and well-disposed portion of the community. This feeling was further increased by a cold-blooded and shocking act of murder, committed on a poor old woman who kept a turnpike, called the Hendy gate, on the confines of Glamorganshire and Caermarthenshire. A party of rioters came to attack the gate at which she lived, and one of the number, actuated by some motive which was not distinctly accounted for, fired at her, and shot her dead. A coroner's inquest sat upon the body, and all the facts attending the revolting transaction were fully and clearly stated in evidence; but, such was the excitement of feeling then prevailing in the neighbourhood, or such the influence of fear exercised over the minds of the jurymen who investigated the case, that they actually brought in a verdict: "That the deceased died from suffusion of blood, which produced suffocation, but from what cause, is, to the jurors, unknown!"

By the continuance of these outrages, which threatened, 'ere long, to disorganise society, and render the tenure of life and property, in Wales, insecure, the Government were, at length, aroused to the necessity of adopting very vigorous measures for the enforcement and vindication of the law. A large body of troops was sent down to Wales, and a general officer, of skill and experience, appointed to the command of the disturbed districts. A strong body of London police was imported, to exercise their skill in ferreting out the actors in these lawless exploits, who had so long succeeded in eluding detection. The districts most infested by the Rebeccaites were closely occupied by parties of soldiers, some of whom were quartered, at short intervals, in the villages and hamlets wherein mischief was suspected to lurk, and in the neighbourhood of turnpike gates, which had, previously, been the objects of attack. It was not, however, the policy of the insurgents to place themselves in open collision with the soldiers; but the clandestine and shifting mode of warfare which they had adopted with so much success, was but imperfectly counteracted by the presence of a military force. Under cover of the night, and with the advantages afforded by a knowledge of the country, and the sympathy of the population, they could sweep down a gate, which was but the work of a few minutes, with very little risk of interruption or discovery. The presence of the police and soldiers, if it could not entirely put an end to the attacks on the turnpikes, prevented the disaffected from proceeding to further acts of violence, and checked the growth of a conspiracy which might, otherwise, have gone to the full length of open rebellion. From this, and other causes, the spirit of disturbance in Wales began to decline, about the latter end of the summer. The most obnoxious of the turnpike gates had been swept away; and, on some of the trusts, the trustees had announced their determination not to re-erect those which were most complained of as oppressive. Some of the more active leaders of the riots were captured, in an affray with the County police, on the borders of Glamorganshire, and the terrors of a Special Commission impended over the Principality.

The movement was even dramatised, and on 20 Sep., at the Royal Amphitheatre, Liverpool, was produced a new play, called: "Rebecca and her Daughters; or, Paddy the Policeman"; the programme of scenery etc., as described on the play bill being: "Vigilance of the civil and military authorities; 100 pounds reward for the apprehension of Rebecca, and 10 pounds for each of her daughters; False alarm; Invincible courage of the Yeomanry; Arrival of the London Police in disguise; Paddy Whack undertakes to capture the delinquents; Admonitions to the Constabulary; The inspection; Mysterious appearance of Rebecca and her daughters in the Glen of Llandilo, at midnight; Tried before the Justice of the Peace; Happy denouement."

I can find only one reference to Rebecca in connection with London—and that refers to a bar in Gower Street, which was taken down some few years since. It occurs in the Times of 30 Sep.: "During the last two or three days, considerable excitement has prevailed in the northern suburbs of the Metropolis, in consequence of rumours obtaining circulation that threatening notices had been posted about, signed, 'Rebecca,' intimating that it was the intention of that lady and her daughters to destroy the various turnpike and other gates, which they were pleased to term 'public obstructions.' It appears that these rumours were not altogether unfounded; for, whether intended as a joke, or otherwise, the doings of the notorious Rebecca and her daughters in Wales, have, in reality, found persons foolhardy enough to follow their example in London. A few evenings since, Mr. Hill, the porter and keeper of the gate at the London University College, which crosses Gower Street, and prevents carriages from passing along the front of University College Hospital, received a letter, with the signature of 'Rebecca' attached, declaring it to be the intention of herself and others to remove the 'obstruction called a gate' on the following night. Mr. Hill, thinking the matter a joke, took no notice of the circumstance; but, to his astonishment, early in the morning following the night on which the threatened attack was promised, he was awakened by the night porter, who informed him that the gate (a large wooden one, such as the ordinary toll bars) was gone. On examination, it was found that not only had the large padlock by which it was fastened, been broken and carried away, but the gate had absolutely been filed off its hinges, and conveyed by the depredators into the College grounds, and hidden behind some shrubs. The gate has again been re-instated; but, since the occurrence, Mr. Hill has received another threatening notice, informing him that it is the intention of Rebecca and her daughters, on Monday night next, to effect its entire destruction. What is most extraordinary in connection with the affair is, that the gate should have been removed without the knowledge of the police, the beats of two constables joining close to the spot, or that of the night porters, either at the College, or the Hospital. It is to be remarked that frequent complaints have been made at the erection of the gate in question, as it interrupts the otherwise direct communication between Holborn and Broad Street, Bloomsbury, with the Hampstead Road, and compels carriages, etc., to go considerably out of the way round Sussex and University Streets, before they can get into the New Road."



CHAPTER XX.

Gretna Green parsons—Number of marriages—Chinese indemnity—Thames tunnel—The aerial machine—Treasure trove—Accident to Mr. Brunel—Arkwright's will—Secession in the Scotch Church—The "Gent"—Shakspere's autograph.

At this time, Gretna Green marriages were in full blast (they were only made unlawful in 1856), and we learn from the Carlisle Journal, copied into the Times of 20 Feb., something about the Parsons: "We observe by announcement in some of the London papers, that some worthy gentlemen in London, are about to enlighten the public on the subject of Gretna Green marriages, by the publication of a book called The Gretna Green Memoirs, by Robert Elliott, with an introduction and appendix by the Rev. Caleb Brown. In addition to this information, we have been honoured with a copy of what Mr. Elliott calls a 'cercler,' which he is desirous we should publish as a paragraph for the benefit of our readers. From this 'cercler' we learn that 'this interesting work contains an accurate account of remarkable elopements, pursuits, anecdotes, etc., never before published.' Then we are further informed that there is 'in the press,' to be published by subscription, The Gretna Green Register, containing the names of 7,744 persons married by Robert Elliott, the Gretna Green Parson. It is added, that 'the whole is being carefully printed from the original registers, written and kept by himself.' The Gretna Green Parson, we suspect, has fallen into dishonest hands, or he would not have suffered it to be said that he was about to publish registers which never had existence. The Gretna Green Parson is pretty well known in this neighbourhood. He married a grand daughter of old Joe Paisley, the 'original' blacksmith; and, after the death of that worthy 'parson,' he set up an opposition shop, in the marriage line to David Laing, who had acquired some notoriety in the business. This was in 1811, and he continued to 'trade' until 1822, when it either fell away from him, or he from it. His reverence subsequently condescended to act as horsekeeper, or hostler, at one of the inns in this city, and a few months ago was sent for to London, as a witness, in some marriage case, and is now set up as an author! We suspect the whole thing is an attempt to gull the public into the purchase of a book of inventions. If 7,000 were deducted from the names of those to be inserted in the 'Register,' the number would still exceed, by many a score, those who were actually 'married,' as it is called, by 'Robert Elliott, the Gretna Green Parson.'"

The poor "Parson" could not stand this attack on his veracity, and wrote a letter to the Times, which appeared in its issue of 23 Feb., in which he does not deny the bulk of the paragraph taken from the Carlisle Journal, but gives his figures as to his matrimonial business: he says that in the following years; he married so many couples:

1811 58 1821 152 1831 168 1812 57 1822 178 1832 153 1813 59 1823 188 1833 100 1814 68 1824 196 1834 108 1815 87 1825 198 1835 124 1816 89 1826 187 1836 98 1817 96 1827 188 1837 55 1818 109 1828 186 1838 46 1819 121 1829 180 1839 42 1820 124 1830 179

He says he married 7,744 persons, but, either his arithmetic, according to the above account, is faulty, or there is an inaccuracy in the Times figures.

On 3 March arrived, in London, the first instalment of the Chinese indemnity—1,000,000 pounds, all in silver. I remember seeing the dock wagons guarded by soldiers, and wondering, until told, what they contained. Some more arrived on the 7th.

The Thames Tunnel was opened to the public on 25 March, with as much ceremony as a private company could manage. There were the Lord Mayor, the directors, and a host of scientific persons, who solemnly went in procession down the staircase on the Rotherhithe side, passed along the western archway of the Tunnel, ascended and descended the staircase at Wapping, and returned through the eastern archway. In the evening there was a grand dinner at the "London Tavern," where "Prosperity to the Thames Tunnel" was drunk in some wine which had been preserved from the commencement of the enterprise, to celebrate its completion.

As with motor cars, so with aeronautics, the time of which I write, was well in advance. We know of Sen. Santos Dumont's performances with his motor balloon, in connection with the Eiffel Tower, but Mr. Samuel Henson was before him in applying mechanical power in aeronautics. He took out a patent (No. 9,478), dated 29 Sep., 1842, for "Apparatus and machinery for conveying letters, goods and passengers, from place to place through the air."

It was an aeroplane. The car which contained passengers, engineer, engines, etc., was suspended in the centre of a framework, which combined strength with lightness, covered with a light, but close, woven fabric. It was started by descending an inclined plane, the impetus from which caused it to rise in the air, when the steam engine was put in action, to continue its motion. The area of the sustaining surface was some 4,500 square feet, and the weight to be borne by it, including the carriage, etc., was estimated at 3,000lbs., which was claimed to be considerably less per square foot than that of many birds.

In April, 1843—but on what exact date I do not know, an experimental voyage was made from the Hill of Dumbuck, near Glasgow, by Professor Geolls. He successfully negotiated the descent of the inclined plane, and rapidly rose in the air, until he reached an altitude of nearly 3 miles. Feeling giddy, he determined to descend to a mile and a half above the earth. "This I easily effected by depressing the tail of the machine, which, up to this moment, I had kept at an angle with the horizon of 9.75 degrees, to that of 45. My course I had not varied since leaving the hill; it was, per compass, south-west, and by west, half-west, passing over Ayrshire, and in a direct line from Dumbuck to Ailsa Craig, whither, indeed, I was tending, with the view of landing, the latter being admirably suited for launching the machine in a similar way to that adopted at Dumbuck, on my return home again.

"Daylight had now broken, and the scene was most gorgeous. I passed many ships; and, in particular, one steamer, but whose paltry speed, in comparison with mine, was nothing. Alas! however, this was not destined to last; for, just as I had shot ahead of the steamer, something went wrong with the machinery, and the fanners stopped. This did not at all alarm me; for, as described by Mr. Henson, these fanners are only necessary for propulsion, and not at all requisite for maintaining the machine in the air. Unfortunately, however, I perfectly forgot, in the hurry of the moment, to remove the weights from the safety valve, and the effects from this were disastrous in the extreme. The great accumulation of steam that took place was too much for the pipes; and, consequently, bang went three of them, at the same instant. The machine, at this exact moment, feeling its equilibrium altered, surged considerably, and the remaining pipes necessarily followed the example of the others: fizz—bizz—whizz, away they went, one after the other, like pop guns. Unfortunately, one of these pipes, in flying off, struck a bamboo stretcher, and shattered it so, that the machine, losing bearance on one side, toppled over and became perfectly unmanageable; she, in fact, whirled over and over in a way that may be imagined, but which it is altogether impossible to describe.

"I, of course, was now descending with fearful rapidity, and nothing was left me to contemplate but death and destruction. I can only compare my sensations at this moment to those experienced in a nightmare, which, everyone knows, are not the most agreeable in the world. Sensibility now forsook me; and, indeed, this was not to be wondered at, in consequence of the whirling of the machine. On coming to my senses again, I found myself in bed, with severe headache, nausea and vomiting, the usual accompaniments of such a flight through the air; but, thanks to Providence, I am now in a fair way of recovery, and willing to perform the same feat again."

Luckily for the aeronaut, the accident was seen by the master of a steamer, who sent a boat to his assistance, but the machine was lost.

We often hear of "treasure trove," but seldom find the owner. However, here is a case: On 11 April, the magistrate at Clerkenwell Police Court had a man named Benjamin Thomas, and five other labourers, brought before him, under the following circumstances. It seems they had been recently engaged in grubbing up the roots of some trees in Tufnell Park, Holloway, when they found, buried in the earth, two jars full of sovereigns, supposed to have amounted to 400 pounds. They divided the money between them; but it was claimed by Mr. Henry Tufnell, as Lord of the Manor; and all of them consented to give up what they had, except Thomas, who said that his share was 51 pounds, but that he had spent, or lost it. The sum recovered only amounted to 231 pounds 17s. Thomas was remanded for a few days, but, in the interval, a new claimant appeared, in the person of Mr. Joseph Frost, of the firm of J. and J. Frost, brass founders in Clerkenwell. It appeared that, some time in August last year, in a temporary fit of mental delusion, he had carried the money out at night, and buried it. Mr. Tufnell waived his claim in favour of Mr. Frost, and Thomas was committed for trial, on the charge of feloniously appropriating the money to his own use.

A very curious accident happened to Brunel, the eminent engineer. He was playing with the child of a friend, pretending to swallow a half-sovereign, and bring it out at his ear, when it slipped, and stuck in his trachaea, whence it could not be disloged. This must have been in the latter part of April, for it is mentioned in the Times of 28 April, as having occurred some short time previously. All efforts of the surgeons could not reach the coin, even though they constructed a machine which suspended him by the heels, when he was shaken and thumped. On 27 April Sir B. Brodie performed trachaeotomy on the unfortunate gentleman, but without avail; so they waited until he had somewhat recovered, and again hung him up by his heels. This was on 13 May, and, after a few gentle thumps, the half-sovereign quitted its place, and dropped out of his mouth, without causing him any pain or inconvenience.

In these days, millionaires, and multi-millionaires are exceedingly common, but not so in the time of which I write, and much astonishment was created at the sum of money which Mr. Richard Arkwright, son of Sir Richard, the inventor of the spinning jinny, left behind him. His will was proved, on 24 May, in Canterbury Prerogative Court, and his personal property was sworn to exceed 1,000,000 pounds; the stamp duty on the probate of which was 15,000 pounds, which was the highest duty then payable, when the testator's personal estate was 1,000,000 pounds or upwards. In this case the deceased left behind him a fortune of nearly 3,000,000 pounds.

The 18th of May is memorable in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, for the great secession of its members, and the foundation of the Free Church. This was the day appointed for the opening of the General Assembly, and Dr. Welsh, the Moderator of the former Assembly, took the Chair. As soon as business commenced, he read a protest from those who were dissatisfied with the then state of the Church. It was a very long document, and having read it, the Doctor, and those who were of the same opinion, quietly left the Hall, forming a procession and marching four abreast, to a Hall in Canon-mills, where they elected Dr. Chalmers as their Moderator.

A contemporary account of this movement is given in the Observer of 29 May: "The number of clergymen who have seceded from the Church of Scotland, is now 450; and it cannot be a question that, by the middle of the week, the number will be close on 500. This is nearly the half of the entire clergy, the number being under 1,200. Among the leaders will be found the name of almost every minister distinguished for talent, moral worth, or weight of character. Nearly the whole of the people have left the Establishment with their ministers—so that the Free Presbyterian Church, instituted by those who have left the Establishment, may be considered the Church of Scotland. The general impression in Scotland is, that the residuary church cannot long exist. About 240,000 pounds have been raised in less than ten weeks, for the erection of new churches, and for the support of the seceding clergy; and there can be no question that, in a few weeks, the amount will considerably exceed 300,000 pounds. Among the contributors, are the Marchioness of Breadalbane, 1,000 pounds; a Colonel in the Army, whose name we do not remember, 6,000 pounds, in three yearly instalments of 2,000 pounds; Mr. Henry Paul, a private gentleman, 2,000 pounds; Mr. Nisbet, bookseller, London, 1,000 pounds; a Dissenter, 500 pounds; and there are various other subscriptions of 2,000 and 1,000 pounds each. Mr. Fox Maule is to build and endow a church at his own expense; Mr. A. Campbell, member for Argyleshire, is to do the same. In Elgin, the pious and spirited inhabitants have raised 1,000 pounds to build a church for the Rev. Alexander Topp, a young and popular minister; and they will also liberally contribute to his support. So that, in many instances, churches will be built, and ministers be provided for, solely by private munificence and local exertion, without requiring any aid from the general fund. The General Assembly of the Establishment is now sitting in Edinburgh, but its proceedings excite little interest. The General Assembly of the Free Church, which the people recognise as the Church of Scotland, is also sitting in Edinburgh, and its proceedings excite an intensity of interest hitherto unparalleled in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland."

About this time there arose an objectionable class of men, who tried to ape the gentleman, but could not, and they went by the generic term of "Gents." Punch was death upon them, and I give one of the satirist's onslaughts, as it reproduces the costumes and amusements of the day. First let us see the "Gent" pictorially, and then, afterwards, read what manner of animal he was.

[Picture: Punch, vol. IV., p. 142]

AN ACT

For amending the Public Deportment of certain individuals called "Gents," abiding in London and other places.

WHEREAS it having been represented that there are, at present existing in the Metropolis, as well as in the provincial districts, certain individuals known and spoken of as "Gents," whose bearing and manners are perfectly at variance with the characters, which, from a monomania, they appear desirous of assuming:

AND WHEREAS, in consequence of cheap clothes, imitative dispositions, and intellectual poverty, this class is greatly on the increase, it has been thought necessary that this Act should be framed to control their vicious habits:

May it, therefore, please your Majesty, that it be enacted: AND BE IT ENACTED henceforth, that all Gents, not actually in the employ of the Morning Post, or Mr. Simpson, of the "Albion," be prevented from wearing white cravats at parties, the same being evidently an attempt of sixth-rate individuals to ape the manners of first-class circles. And that no Gent, who does not actually keep a horse, and is not in the Army, be allowed to strut up and down the Burlington Arcade, with a whip and moustachios, such imposition being exceedingly offensive, and amounting to a passive swindling of the spectators.

AND BE IT ENACTED, that all such things as light-blue stocks, large figured shawls, cheap primrose gloves, white Chesterfield coal sacks, half-guinea Albert boots; in fact, all those articles ticketed in the shop windows as "Gent's last style," be considered the distinctive marks of the class, and condemned accordingly. And that every individual, moreover, smoking outside an omnibus, sticking large pins in his cravat, wearing fierce studs in his shirt, walking with others four abreast in Regent Street, reading slang publications, and adopting their language, playing billiards in public rooms, sporting dingy white gloves in the slips of the theatres, frequenting night taverns, and being on terms of familiarity with the singers and waiters, thinking great things of champagne, as if everything at a party depended upon it; and, especially, wearing the hat on one side, be the signs of most unmitigated Gents, and shunned equally with hydrophobia.

AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that no Gent be, in future, allowed to cross a hired horse with a view to ten shillings worth of Sunday display in the Parks, the turnout being always detected; nor shall be permitted to drive a gig, in a fierce scarf, under similar circumstances. Nor shall any Gent imagine that an acquaintance with all the questionable resorts of London is "knowing life"; or that trousers of large check pattern are anything but exceeding Gentish.

SAVING ALWAYS that the Gents have not the sense to endeavour bettering their condition, which is exceedingly probable; under which circumstances they had better remain as they are, in ignorance of their melancholy position. But, on the other hand, it is commanded that people of common intellect, henceforth cease to designate any of their male friends as "Gents," the word being one of exceedingly bad style, and equally objectionable with "genteel," which is, possibly, derived from it. And that if, after this, anyone speaks of a "Gent," or "Party" he knows, it is ordered that such speaker be immediately set down as one of the unfortunate class in question.

The Shakspere autograph which was sold on 24 May, 1841, came again into the market, and was bought on 19 May, for 145 pounds, by the Corporation of the City of London. The Patres Conscripti of the Common Council were not of one mind as to the eligibility of the purchase. On the motion "that the Court agree to the report, and that the Chamberlain be instructed to pay the sum," Mr. Warton rose to move, as an amendment, that the report should lie upon the table. (A laugh, and loud cries of "Hear, hear.") He had, he said, done all he could in the Committee, to prevail upon the members that the purchase of the autograph was a most wasteful and prodigal expenditure. ("Hear, hear," and "No, no.") The precedent was a most mischievous one. If the Court sanctioned such a proceeding as that which the report had described, by and by the autographs of archbishops and bishops, and other individuals who had, in times long past, distinguished themselves, would supply apologies for wasting the City cash, in order to gratify gentlemen who were afflicted with that description of mania. (Laughter.) He hoped the Court would not catch the infection, but second his rational effort to check it, by condemning the report to its proper station on the table. After all, the document was doubtful; but there was no doubt at all as to the profligacy of the expenditure. (Laughter, and cries of "Hear, hear," and "No, no.") Mr. Knott said it was quite ridiculous to think for a moment, of voting 145 pounds for a few doubtful, illegible, almost obliterated scratches of a pen. (Laughter, and cries of "Hear, hear.") He defied any man on earth to say what those scratches represented. On a division there were, for the motion 41; for the amendment 31.



CHAPTER XXI.

Exhibition of cartoons—A duel—A monster—Gambling—The "Albert Hat"—Nelson's statue—Fun thereon—Soldiers' savings banks—A post boy and Lord Mayor's show—M. Jullien and his orchestra—Prince Albert as a farmer—George IV.'s Statue—Ojibbeway Indians.

The public exhibition of Cartoons for the frescoes for the new Palace of Westminster, took place in Westminster Hall, on 3 July. There were 140 subjects altogether, varying in size from 15ft. to 10ft. square, none being admitted over, or under those standards. Prizes of 300 pounds each were awarded to Armitage, Watts and Cope; of 200 pounds to Calcott, Bell and Townsend; of 100 pounds to Frost, Harris, Selous, Bridges and Severn; the judges being the Marquis of Lansdowne, Sir R. Peel and Messrs. S. Rogers, Westmacott, Cook and Etty. The Cartoons remained in Westminster Hall for 6 months; and, in Nov. were removed to the Suffolk Street Gallery. They were finally adjudicated upon by the Royal Commission of Fine Arts, on 12 July, 1844, the successful artists chosen to execute frescoes were Cope, Horsley, Dyce, Maclise, Redgrave, and Cave Thomas.

The practice of duelling was fast dying out, and I give the following case as being nearly one of the last, and one in which the seconds and surgeon were tried for being accessory to murder. Two brothers-in-law—Lt.-Col. Fawcett of the 55th Regiment and Lt. Munro of the Royal Horse Guards—quarrelled, and on the morning of the 1st July fought a duel with pistols in a field at the back of the "Brecknock Arms Tavern," in Camden Road. Lt.-Col. Fawcett fell, mortally wounded, and died on the 3rd July. The Coroner's jury found Lt. Munro, and the two seconds, guilty of wilful murder, and the surgeon as guilty in the second degree only, as it was believed he was present only as medical attendant. Lieut. Munro and his second got out of the way, but Lt-Col. Fawcett's second and the surgeon were tried at the Central Criminal Court on 25 Aug. No evidence was tendered against the surgeon, and he was at once discharged, and the jury found the second "Not Guilty." Lt. Munro's second surrendered himself, was tried on 14 Feb., 1844, and acquitted. Lieut. Munro was cashiered from the Army for being absent without leave; he afterwards surrendered, and was tried, 18 Aug., 1847, found guilty, and sentenced to death; which sentence was commuted to 12 months' imprisonment in Newgate.

The Times of 30 June, quoting the Reading Mercury, has the following: "A MONSTER.—A day or two since, a gentleman travelling along the road near Colnbrook, had his attention attracted to the screams of a child in the care of a tramping woman, who had with her, two other children totally blind. The cries of the child were so distressing, that he insisted on knowing the cause; but; not getting a satisfactory answer, he forcibly removed a bandage from its eyes, when, horrid to relate, he found these encased with two small perforated shells, in which were two live black beetles, for the purpose of destroying the sight. The woman was instantly seized, and given into custody; and, at the magistrate's meeting, at Eton, on Wednesday last, committed for trial. There is too much reason to fear that the wretch produced the blindness of the other two children, by similar means." This was rendered into a street ballad.

A correspondent pointed out that it was well known to all who pass through the parish of St. James's, at night, that the district absolutely swarmed with gaming houses; there was, in fact, no concealment about the matter, as the keepers vied with each other in illuminating their doors and windows to attract the notice of their victims. How was it that this disgrace was permitted to exist from season to season? The police seemed satisfied with the occasional conviction of one or more minor delinquents from the neighbourhood of Leicester Square, but the Leviathans in crime were allowed to continue their nightly course of profligacy and plunder with impunity. The French authorities, by a law which was strictly enforced, entirely swept away this nuisance from their capital, notoriously, for years, the very hotbed of the vice of gaming; but we were lamentably behind our neighbours; for, while we boasted of a Court pure in morals, and strict in the performance of every religious duty, we allowed the Sabbath to be desecrated, and the Palace of the Sovereign to be contaminated by the close vicinage of houses expressly open for the practice of this demoralising habit.—Are we much better now?

At the latter end of October, a new headdress for the infantry was proposed, and Prince Albert was universally credited as being its godfather—but public opinion was so unequivocally expressed against it, that it was never likely to be popular. It was neither soldier-like, nor appropriate, and bore a strong resemblance to the old Hessian cap, which was introduced into the German service. This headgear was covered with black cloth, the crown and brim being of black-varnished leather; the band was of white worsted, as was the tuft, which was placed on a ball of red worsted. Beneath this ball was a royal crown, underneath which was a Maltese cross, in the centre of which was inscribed the number of the regiment.

Punch was especially severe upon the Albert hat—and with the pictorial satire of "Prince Albert's Studio" (by the way the hat is in no ways exaggerated), is the following: "Ever since the accession of Prince Albert to the Royal Husband-ship of these realms, he has devoted the energies of his mind, and the ingenuity of his hands to the manufacture of Infantry caps, Cavalry trousers, and Regulation sabretaches. One of his first measures was to transmogrify the pantaloons of the Eleventh Hussars; and, as the regiment alluded to is "Prince Albert's Own," His Royal Highness may do as he likes with his own, and no one can complain of his bedizening the legs of the unfortunate Eleventh, with scarlet cloth and gold door leather. When, however, the Prince, throwing the whole of his energies into a hat, proposed to encase the heads of the British soldiery in a machine which seemed a decided cross between a muff, a coal scuttle and a slop pail, then Punch was compelled to interfere, for the honour of the British Army. The result has been that the headgear has been summarily withdrawn, by an order from the War Office, and the manufacture of more of the Albert hat has been absolutely prohibited.

[Picture: Prince Albert's Studio. Punch, vol. V., p. 179]

"Greatness of mind is shown in various ways by different individuals. Hannibal was a great cutter out, for he cut a passage through the Alps; but Prince Albert cuts out Hannibal, inasmuch as His Royal Highness devotes his talent to the cutting out of coats, and 'things inexpressible.' The Prince's studio could not fail to be an object of interest to the readers of Punch. We have, therefore, at an enormous sacrifice of time and specie, obtained a view of it."

[Picture: Nelson's Statue]

On the morning of Nov. 3, at 4 a.m., the raising of a portion of the colossal statue of Nelson, on the pillar in Trafalgar Square, commenced. This figure is 17 feet high from its base to the top of the hat, and is made of stone from the Granton quarry, belonging to the Duke of Buccleugh. It weighs nearly 18 tons, and, needless to say, is made in segments. These were put together before it was raised, to show the public—and during the two days it was on view, it was visited by 100,000 persons.

The building this column had seemed slow, but that was nothing compared to its completion; the bas reliefs were long in being placed, and it was not till 31 Jan., 1867, that Landseer's four couchant lions were exposed to public gaze. Of the progress of its building, Punch (25 Nov., 1843) has some very fine fooling.

"THE NELSON COLUMN DRAMA.

The earliest announcement of the late Covent Garden management, was a piece entitled 'Trafalgar Square, or the Nelson Monument.' We have obtained the following slight information respecting it. The drama is described as 'a grand architectural and historical burletta,' in two acts; and the prologue was to have been spoken by Mr. Widdicomb, as Time. The two acts comprise the commencement and completion, and a lapse of twenty years is supposed to take place between them, in which time 'the boy,' who is the principal character, becomes a middle-aged man. The following speech is very fine. The boy enquires of the mason when the column will be finished, who replies, in an interval of the steak banquet, which they are enjoying together:

Mason.—I've asked that fearful question of the stars, Who wink responding—of the Board of Works, Whose works have bored us—of the misty moon, Towards whose lodgings, after years of toil, We rise no nearer. All were still, but now, Whilst gazing on that steak of beef, Sent up to form our capital repast, And cheer us in our lonely solitude, I hope the best—the best can hope no more. 'Twill rise, like College honours, by degrees, And to our limbs a pillar be, of ease: Our hearts are warm—although upon the frieze.

The following duet is also introduced by the man and the boy in the second act:

BOY.

I remember, I remember, When I was a little boy, On the column, in November, I was given some employ.

I helped the man to build it, And we labour'd hard and long, But the granite came up slowly, For we were not very strong.

I remember, I remember, How we raised its form on high, With one block in December, And another in July.

BOTH.

We remember, we remember, When St. Martin's bells were rung, In the laying of the first stone, for We both were very young.

But weary years have past, now, Since we our work begun; We fear we shall not last now, To see our labour done.

We remember, we remember, But we heard it on the sly, 'Twon't be finished next November, Nor the subsequent July."

Very early in November, a War Office circular (dated 31 Oct.) was issued, to regulate and establish regimental savings banks, which have done so much to encourage thrift among our soldiers. The maximum of each soldier's deposit was limited to 30 pounds in any one year, and to 200 pounds in the whole. The rate of interest on deposits was fixed at 3 pounds 15 s. per cent per annum, but no interest was to be allowed upon less than 6s. 8d. and 13s. 4d., nor upon any sums that had not remained on deposit for at least one month, to be reckoned from the last monthly muster day.

In the Times of 10 Nov. is the following: "A rather amusing scene took place in Cheapside, yesterday, shortly before the Lord Mayor's procession to Westminster. Whilst the streets were blocked up against the passage of vehicles and horses, one of those sharp little urchins, known by the generic title of the 'twopenny cavalry,' who rattle through the streets with Her Majesty's suburban mails, was stopped, opposite Bow Church, by a party of police, who told him they acted under the orders of the Lord Mayor. The post-boy, with all the dignity of Her Majesty's representative, assuming an air of great condescension, assured the police that he had the highest possible respect for the Lord Mayor, but, being express upon Her Majesty's business, he was determined to proceed. The police persisted in stopping him, a crowd collected, and it was clear their sympathies sided with the post-boy, who carried himself, throughout the controversy, with great courage, calmness, and self-possession. The police had, by this time, seized the bridle, whilst the boy endeavoured to force his way forward, backed by the strenuous exertions of his steed, who also appeared as if inspired by the authority of a Royal Commission. The post-boy, finding physical force insufficient, tried what authority would do, and threatened them with the vengeance of the Home Secretary, for attempting to stop Her Majesty's mails. This had the desired effect of bringing the police to a parley; and, as the post-boy was backed by popular applause, he gained momentarily in the discussion, but did not complete his advantage until he took out a memorandum book, and began, coolly, to note down the numbers of the constables. This stroke was decisive; they, at once, capitulated, merely stipulating that they should have his address in return. To this, he readily assented, and searched diligently for his cardcase, but that mark of gentility was not at hand. He, however, made a page from his memorandum book serve his purpose, and took his leave amid the loud congratulations of the applauding crowd, with the following pithy address to the constables: 'I can't well see what use you are. A hundred years ago there were no police, and Lord Mayor's shows went off better than they do now. For my part, I can't see what you do here at all, for you know'—he added with a significant grin—'you know you don't look so very well in a procession.' Shouts of laughter followed the post-boy's brief speech, as he rode on triumphantly."

It was about this time that M. Louis Antoine Jullien, to whom we owe so much for the popularisation of good music, and for the improvement of our orchestras, came into notoriety as a caterer for the public's amusement, and for his promenade concerts. These had been popular in the open air at Vauxhall, Ranelagh, Marylebone, and other public gardens; but the first, under cover, was given in 1838 at the Lyceum Theatre, or, as it was then called, The English Opera House, when the pit was boarded over, and an orchestra erected on the stage exactly as we are now so familiar with. Jullien, in 1838, had been unlucky in Paris, was bankrupt, and came to London, where, in 1840, he was assistant to Eliason, the violinist and conductor of an orchestra of 100 performers, and a small chorus. Next year Jullien was the conductor; and, in 1842, on 2 Dec., he started for himself, at the English Opera House, the series of promenade concerts with which his name will always be associated.

He always would have the very best musicians that he could find for his orchestra, and in this year (1843) among them were Barrett, Baumann, Harper, Koenig, Richardson, Hill, Lazarus, Patey, Howell and Jarrett, and in after years he had such, soloists as Ernst, Sivori, Bottesini Wieniawski and Sainton. In 1857 he came, financially, to grief; he then went to Paris, was imprisoned for debt in Clichy, in 1859, and died in a lunatic asylum on 14 March, 1860.

[Picture: M. Jullien. Ill. Lon. News, 25 Nov. 1843, p. 348]

In his later years he became much stouter than he is here represented, and, as a conductor, posed a great deal too much. Those of my readers who recollect him will acknowledge the truth of the following description of him, when conducting his British Army Quadrilles, taken from his biography in Grove's History of Music and Musicians: "With coat thrown widely open, white waistcoat, elaborately embroidered shirt front, wristbands of extravagant length, turned back over his cuffs, a wealth of black hair, and a black moustache—itself a striking novelty—he wielded his baton, encouraged his forces, repressed the turbulence of his audience with indescribable gravity and magnificence, went through all the pantomime of the British Army or Navy Quadrilles, seized a violin or a piccolo at the moment of climax, and, at last, sunk exhausted into his gorgeous velvet chair. All pieces of Beethoven's were conducted with a jewelled baton, and in a pair of clean kid gloves, handed him, at the moment, on a silver salver."

[Picture: Prince Albert, the British Farmer]

Prince Albert took a great interest in Agriculture, and his Flemish Farm at Windsor was a model; but it was hard to make the average Englishman believe that a foreigner could ever do any good as a Farmer, and John Leech drew a fancy portrait of the prince in Punch, 25 Nov., where it illustrates a portion of a speech of Sir Robert Peel at Tamworth: "Prince Albert has turned his attention to the promotion of agriculture; and, if you have seen, as most probably you have, an account of the sale of Prince Albert's stock, and the price they fetched, I have not the slightest doubt you will give one cheer more to Prince Albert, as a British Farmer."

In the beginning of December the bronze equestrian statue of George IV. was set up on a pedestal at the north-east corner of Trafalgar Square. It is the work of Chantrey, and was intended to be mounted on the Marble Arch, which was, originally, the gateway to Buckingham Palace, until its removal to Cumberland Gate, Hyde Park, in 1851.

In the very early part of December, some of Her Majesty's subjects, Canadian Indians, from the north-eastern shores of Lake Huron, came to visit England. They were of the Ojibbeway tribe, and were nine in number, two old chiefs, four warriors, two women, and a little girl, 10 years old. On the 20 Dec. they were presented to the Queen at Windsor, and received from Her Majesty a cheque for 20 pounds, and a quantity of gorgeous plaid, with which to astonish the other natives, on their return. They afterwards exhibited themselves, danced war dances, etc., at the Egyptian Hall, at an admission fee of half-a-crown.



CHAPTER XXII.

A child for sale—Trial, &c, of Daniel O'Connell—General Tom Thumb—His visit to the Queen—The Polka—How to dance it—"Jullien's Grand Polka."

The Times of 19 Jan. copies the following from the Worcester Chronicle: "A CHILD FOR SALE.—The following extraordinary letter was received, a short time ago, by a gentleman in the neighbourhood of Tewkesbury, from a person residing here. The letter is dated from a certain court in this town, but we omit the precise locality, and the writer's name, hoping that, without pursuing the exposure to that extent, it will be sufficient to teach him that natural affection is not to be made a matter of bargain and sale, and that it is the duty of a parent himself to cherish the child which he has been the means of bringing into the world:—'Sir,—Having heard that you expressed a wish to have a child and did not mind giving a sum of money as an inducement i flatter myself that I have it in my power to furnish you with one to answer your purpose in every respect it is a boy 2 years old a good looking healthy spirited child and sound in wind and limb and that you can rair him up to suit your inclination you can send word by the bearer and appoint any time to inspect the child.'"

With every wish, in this book of Gossip, to steer as clear of politics as possible, yet it would belie its name were the famous trial of Daniel O'Connell not to be mentioned. "Repeal of the Union" was his watchword and perpetual cry, and with it he stirred up the Irish people to a pitch when he found it difficult to manage and restrain them. On 16 March, 1843, was held at Trim the first of great public meetings which he designed, but did not carry out; and on 15 Aug. was a monster meeting on the Hill of Tara; but the one to be held at Clontarf on 8 Oct. was to have eclipsed its predecessors. But this was forbidden by the Government, and, a week later, warrants were issued for the arrest of O'Connell, his son John, and his chief colleagues, on a charge of conspiring to create discontent and disaffection among the liege subjects of the Queen, and with contriving, "by means of intimidation, and the demonstration of great physical force, to procure and effect changes to be made in the government, laws, and constitution of this realm." O'Connell was allowed bail, but on 8 Nov. a true bill was found by the jury, yet the trial did not take place till the 15th Jan. of this year. On the 12th Feb., the jury returned a verdict of guilty of unlawful and seditious conspiracy, but judgment was not delivered till 30 May, when he was sentenced to imprisonment for twelve months, a fine of 2,000 pounds, and to find surety to keep the peace for seven years. He had to go to prison, where he was well treated and allowed to see his friends; his sentence was appealed against, and reversed in the House of Lords, on 4 Sep., 1844, when he was instantly liberated.

[Picture: Repeal button]

During all this time there was great excitement, people wearing Repeal buttons, one of which is here delineated, and other emblems, while the uncrowned King of Ireland was presented, at Mullaghmast, with a velvet cap surmounted with shamrocks, and having a green tassel; the cap, in fact, with which readers of Punch are so familiar.

Of course, his release from prison was an occasion to be made the most of. An amphitheatrical triumphal car was provided, and, upon it, were mounted O'Connell, his son, and the Rev. Dr. Miley, and this gimcrack piece of property was drawn by six horses ridden by postillions. The following is an account by an eye witness:

"The ovation commenced at two o'clock. First came the trades of Dublin, each preceded by the banner of its body, and a band playing such music as only temperance bands can play, and, generally, with much discrimination, selecting rather difficult pieces for their performance, and eschewing all national airs. The banners were usually displayed from coaches, intended to hold four, but contriving to allow from sixteen to eighteen to fit into, and hang on by them. Thus they came on: Bricklayers (with a painting of the Bank of Ireland, and the superscription of 'Our Old House at Home'); slaters, woollen operatives (in a small open car); nailors (with a picture of Brian Boroihme 'nailing' the Danes at Clontarf); coach makers, tailors (with a very gorgeous equipage, six horses, postillions and outriders); tinplate workers, displaying as their sign, a man with a tin helmet on his head, and a dish cover of the same metal on his arm—otherwise unassumingly attired in a blue coat and white trousers; and other bodies of tradesmen too numerous to mention, with their appropriate emblems and banners.

[Picture: O'Connell's Cap]

"Next came a number of Repeal wardens, bearing wands, and occupying respectable-looking coaches and carriages. After them drove the committee of the political trades' unions; the members of it attired in green sashes and scarves, and bearing wands with green flags in their hands. Next in order were the various members of the Corporation, aldermen, town councillors, and officers, dressed in their robes of office and cocked hats, glittering with chains, and furred from head to foot. The majority of these gentlemen were in their own carriages, into each of which were packed as many of the owner's friends as could find standing room, several private vehicles being mixed up through the order of procession. Then came the private carriages of the Lord Mayor, who was in full dress; and then, preceded by a confused mass of wand bearers, the triumphal chariot itself, surrounded by a mob so dense that it was with great difficulty that the six splendid dappled greys could force the cumbrous vehicle along, which, every instant, seemed to become a second Car of Juggernaut, and crush some of its adorers. More vehicles, a few horsemen, multitudes of hack cars and pedestrians, a tail of old women and little boys, followed; and so the monster procession, after winding its slow length along through the greater part of Dublin, and causing a total cessation of business in the line of its progress, terminated."

In February appeared, in London, at the Princess's Theatre, "General Tom Thumb," the most popular of modern dwarfs—thanks to the advertising qualities of his exhibitor, P. T. Barnum. The real name of this mite was Charles S. Stratton, and he was said to have been born on 11 Jan., 1832, but this, as with all data connected with him, must be accepted with caution. It was said of him, that, at his birth, he weighed 9 lbs. 2 oz., somewhat more than the average weight of a newly born infant. At about 5 months old, he weighed 15 lbs., and measured 25 inches in height; since which time he never increased in stature; and, at the time of his arrival in England, he weighed but 15 lbs. 2 oz. He had, previously, been exhibited in New York and the principal cities of America, where his miniature palace, furniture and equipage excited considerable curiosity. When he embarked from New York for England, he was escorted to the packet by not less than 10,000 persons.

On 1 April, he appeared, by command, before Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace, when the Queen presented him, with her own hand, with "a superb souvenir, of the most exquisite handicraft, manufactured of mother of pearl, and mounted with gold and precious stones. On one side are the crown and Royal initials, V.R., and, on the reverse, bouquets of flowers in enamel and rubies. In addition to this splendid gift, Her Majesty subsequently presented the General with a beautiful gold pencil case, with the initials of Tom Thumb, and his coat of arms, engraved on the emerald surmounting the case."

[Picture: Tom Thumb. Ill. Lon. News, 24 Feb., 1844, p. 124]

Anent this, Punch is exceedingly satirical: "Her Majesty has again commanded 'the performances of Tom Thumb, the Yankee Dwarf.' This, indeed, was to have been expected. We have only to reflect upon the countless acts of patronage towards the Arts and Sciences—had only to remember a few of the numerous personal condescensions of the Queen towards men of letters, artists and philosophers—to be assured that even TOM THUMB would be welcomed with that graceful cordiality which has, heretofore, made Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle the homes of Poetry and Science. De minimis curat Regina! Continental monarchs stop short in their Royal favours at full-grown authors and artists; but the enthusiasm of Her Majesty QUEEN VICTORIA, not content with showering all sorts of favours and rewards upon the literary and artistic spirits of her own country and age, lavishes, with prodigal hand, most delicate honours upon an American TOM THUMB, whose astounding genius it is, to measure, in his boots, five-and-twenty inches! To this, how small is VICTOR HUGO at the Tuileries; to this, how mean and petty Gothe at the Court of Saxe-Weimar!

* * * * *

"TOM THUMB being—according to the biography published by his showman, BARNUM—the son of a Yankee carpenter, we should much like to know the General's arms. Did Her Majesty, before the 'performance,' send to learn them, that they might be duly engraved? or were they, as MATHEW'S French Shoemaker made his little boot, struck off in 'a moment of enthusiasm'?"

About this time came to us "that sweet boon," THE POLKA. Originally a Bohemian Peasant dance, it was imported into fashionable saloons of Berlin and St. Petersburg. It was, at this time, the rage in Paris, as the Times observes: "The Paris papers are destitute of news. Our private letters state that 'politics are, for the moment, suspended in public regard, by the new and all-absorbing pursuit—the Polka—a dance recently imported from Bohemia, and which embraces in its qualities the intimacy of the waltz, with the vivacity of the Irish jig. You may conceive how completely is 'the Polka' the rage, from the fact that the lady of a celebrated ex-minister, desiring to figure in it at a soiree dansante, monopolised the professor, par excellence, of that specialite for three hours, on Wednesday morning last, at 200 francs the hour.'"

On its first importation into England, it was used as a ballet, on the stage, with very fancy Bohemian costume, as we may see in the three following illustrations of Mdlle. Carlotta Grisi and M. Perrot, dancing their idea of it at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1844.

[Picture: The Polka.—Figure 2. Ill. Lon. News, 27 April, 1844, p. 301]

But it soon became a Drawing-room dance, and it is edifying to know exactly how it was danced then. It was found too elaborate, and the number of steps had to be reduced in quantity, and curtailed in quality. But this is the dance as given in the Illustrated London News of 11 May:

"THE DRAWING-ROOM POLKA.

We are much gratified in being enabled to lay before our readers an accurate description of the veritable, or Drawing-room Polka, as danced at Almack's, and at the halls of the nobility and gentry of this country.

La Polka having appeared amongst us under so many different guises, we determined to spare no pains to procure a true description of its danse; for which we are indebted to Mrs. James Rae, who has been fortunate enough to secure the details from M. Coralli, fils, the instructor of the young noblemen and gentry in Paris.

La Polka, like its predecessors, the waltz and galop, is a danse a deux, couples following each other in the salle de danse, commencing at pleasure, and adopting, of the following figures, that which pleases them most at the moment. All those anxious to shine in La Polka, will dance the whole of them, returning from time to time, by way of rest, to the first figure.

The measure, or time, is 2-4; but, to facilitate our definition, we subdivide each measure, or bar, into one—two—three—four; the accent on the two, etc., to be played not so fast as the galop.

The steps are two, and the following description may, in some measure, convey them to our readers; we commence with the first, and most general. At the one, hop on the right leg, lifting, or doubling up your left leg at the same moment; at the two, put your left leg boldly forward on the ground; at the three, bring your right toe up to your left heel; at the four, advance your left foot a short step forward: now, at the one, in the next measure, or bar of the time, hop on the left leg, doubling, or lifting up your right leg, and so on, proceeding in this step, with your arm encircling your partner's waist, round the room. This may be termed the first figure.

Figure 2.—Still adopting the same step, with your right arm round your partner's waist, and her right hand in your left, you place your lady exactly before you, and back all round the room, your lady pursuing you (as shown in the sketch); you then reverse this figure, and let your partner do the back step, whilst you pursue her, and, at the same time, carefully guide her round the room.

[Picture: The Drawing-room Polka.—Figure 2. Ill. Lon. News, 11 May, 1844, p. 301]

In backing, the leg which in figure one, you put boldly forward on the ground, you now fling boldly backward, and are thus enabled to effect your progress round the room.

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