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Gossip in the First Decade of Victoria's Reign
by John Ashton
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The Dustman was first to forego his brass clapper, The Muffinboy speedily followed his shade; And, now, 'tis the Postman—that double-tongued rapper— Must give up his Bell for the eve's promenade. "Tantae Animis?' sage Legislators! Why rage against trifles like these? Prithee tell, Why leave the solution to rude commentators, Who say, that at home, you've enough in one Belle?"

On 26 June the Royal Assent was given to an Act (9-10 Vic., c. 22), called "An Act to amend the Laws relating to the Importation of Corn." This regulated the duty on corn by a sliding scale of prices, which was to be in force until 1 Feb., 1849, when it was fixed at 1s. per quarter. The passing of this Act caused general rejoicing throughout the country, and put an end to a great deal of political rancour.

[Picture: The last Post Office Bellman. Ill. Lon. News, 27 June, 1846]

The inauguration of Sir Walter Scott's Monument, at Edinburgh, took place on 15 Aug., the anniversary of his birth. It was erected in 1840-44, after designs by Mr. George M. Kemp, at a cost of 15,650 pounds. It is cruciform, with a Gothic spire, chiefly modelled on the details of Melrose Abbey; and includes, beneath its basement arches, a Carrara marble sitting statue of Scott, with his dog Maida, by his side, which is the work of Mr. Steel, and cost 2,000 pounds.

The potato crop utterly failed again in Ireland, and the outlook there was indeed black. In the Times of 2 Sep., its correspondent, writing from Dublin, on 31 Aug., says: "As it is now an admitted fact, on all sides, that the destruction of the early potato crop is complete, there can be no earthly use in loading your columns with repetitions of the sad details, as furnished day after day in the accounts published by the Irish newspapers. It will, therefore, nearly suffice to say that, according to the reports from all quarters, the crisis of deep and general distress cannot be much longer averted, and that it will require all the energies of both Government and Landlords to mitigate the inevitable consequences of a calamity, of which both parties have been duly forewarned. In the meantime, the following statement in a Limerick paper of Saturday, is another curious illustration of the Irish 'difficulty'.

"'In the Corn Market, this day, there appeared about 4,000 bushels of oats, and about an equal quantity of wheat. All this grain was purchased up, principally for exportation, whilst the food of the people, as exhibited this day in the Potato Market, was a mass of disease and rottenness. This is an anomaly which no intricacies of political economy—no legal quibbles, or crochets—no Government arrangements can reconcile. In an agricultural country which produces the finest corn for the food of man, we have to record that the corn is sold and sent out of the country, whilst the individuals that raised it by their toil and labour, are threatened with all the horrors of starvation.'

"From a multiplicity of concurrent statements respecting the pestilence, I shall merely subjoin one, which appears in the last Tralee paper: 'A man would hardly dig in a day, as much sound potatoes as himself would consume. But that is not the worst of it. Common cholera has set in among the people of the town, owing to the use of potatoes, which contain a large quantity of poisonous matter. A professional gentleman in this town, of considerable experience and unquestioned integrity, assures me, that he has attended, within the last fortnight, in this town and neighbourhood, more than 12 cases of common cholera, and that he would think a person as safe in consuming a certain quantity of arsenic, as in using the potatoes now exposed for sale.'"

This is how the Famine of 1846-7 began, and what followed is a matter of history, which everyone ought to know, and ponder well over, but it can hardly come under the name of Gossip. There were, naturally, a few food riots in different parts of the country, but everyone tried to do their best, even in a blundering way, to alleviate the distress. The Archbishop of Canterbury composed a Special Form of Prayer, to be used on Sunday, 11 Oct.

On 29 Sep. the gigantic equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, which used to crown the arch opposite Apsley House, and which was taken down 24 Jan., 1883, and then set up at Aldershot, was moved from the artist's (Wyatt) studio, in Harrow Road, to Hyde Park. It was 27 feet high, and weighed about 40 tons, being made of brass guns taken by the Duke in various victories. Being of so great a weight, the appliances to remove it were on an equally massive scale, the carriage and framework in which it was placed weighing about 20 tons. It took 100 soldiers to haul the statue out of the studio; and, when mounted on its carriage, it took 29 huge dray horses, lent by Mr. Goding, of the Lion Brewery, Waterloo, to drag it to its destination. It was escorted by soldiers and military bands, and did the distance in about an hour a half. The next day was spent in preparing to hoist it; the day after, it was lifted some 50 feet, and there remained all night—and the next day was safely landed and put in position. From that time, until it was taken down, it was the butt of scoffs and jeers, and no one regretted its departure.

Gun cotton was brought into public notice by some experiments by its inventor, Professor Schonbein, of Basel, before the chairman of the East India Company, and a number of scientists. Professor Brande had previously lectured upon it, at the Royal Institution, on 15 Jan., when he stated that, about fifteen years before, Braconnot had ascertained that sawdust, wood shavings, starch, linen and cotton fabrics, when treated with concentrated nitric acid, produced a gelatinous substance, which coagulated into a white mass, on the addition of water; this substance, which he called "xyloidine," was highly inflammable. Schonbein, however, made his explosive from purified cotton, steeped in a mixture of equal parts of nitric and sulphuric acids, which when carefully washed, and dried, kept its appearance of cotton wool. In the Times of 4 Nov., is a notice of Gun sawdust (a powder now much used), made by Mr. George Turner of Leeds.

Whilst on the subject of Chemicals, I may as well mention, what was much talked of at the time—the discovery of sulphuric ether, when inhaled, being an anaesthetic. Previous to this, Nitrous Oxide, or, as it was called, "Laughing Gas," somewhat inadequately performed the same function. This latter was discovered by Dr. Priestley, in 1776, and its use, as an anaesthetic, recommended by Sir H. Davey in 1880, was put into practice by Mr. Wells, in America, to lessen the pain in extracting teeth in 1844.

The first notice of the inhalation of sulphuric ether that I know of, is in No. XLV. of the British and Foreign Medical Review, which says: "Just as our last proof was passing through our hands, we received from our medical friends in Boston, the account of a matter so interesting to surgeons, and, indeed to everyone, that we take the opportunity of introducing it here. We know nothing more of this new method of eschewing pain than what is contained in the following extracts from two private letters, kindly written to us by our excellent friends Dr. Ware and Dr. Warren, of Boston—both men of the highest eminence in their profession in America—and, we may truly say, in Europe also. It is impossible, however, not to regard the discovery as one of the very highest importance, not in the practice of operative surgery only, but, also, as Dr. Ware suggests, in practical medicine. We trust our friends will forgive us for putting into print their private communications. The importance of the subject, and the necessity of authenticating the statements, are our excuses. The authors of the discovery are Dr. C. T. Jackson and Dr. Morton.

Dr. Warren writes, under date of 24 Nov., that "In six cases, I have had it applied with satisfactory success, and no unpleasant sequel." And Dr. Ware (29 Nov.) says: "It was brought into use by a dentist, and is, now, chiefly employed by that class of practitioners. He has taken out a patent for the discovery, and has despatched persons to Europe to secure one there also; so you will soon hear of it, and, probably, have an opportunity of witnessing its effects."

Then follows a long list of operations performed in America—wound up with this postscript: "Dec. 22. Yesterday, we had, ourselves, this new mode of cheating pain put in practice by a master of chirurgery, on our own side of the Atlantic. In the theatre of University College Hospital, Mr. Liston amputated the thigh of a man, previously narcotized by the inhalation of ether vapour. Shortly after being placed on the operating table, the patient began to inhale, and became apparently insensible in the course of two or three minutes. The operation was then commenced, and the limb was removed in, what seemed to us, a marvellously short time—certainly less than a minute; the patient remaining during the incisions and the tying of the arteries, perfectly still and motionless. While the vessels were being secured, on being spoken to, he roused up partially (still showing no signs of pain), and answered questions put to him, in a slow, drowsy manner. He declared to us that at no part of the operation had he felt pain, though he seemed to be partially conscious; he had heard some words, and felt that something was being done to his limb. He was not aware, till told, that the limb was off; and, when he knew it, expressed great gratification at having been saved from pain. The man seemed quite awake when removed from the operating room, and continued so. Everything has since proceeded as usual, and very favourably.

"Mr. Liston afterwards performed one of the minor—but most painful operations of surgery—the partial removal of the nail, in onychia, on a man similarly narcotised, and with precisely the same result. The patient seemed to feel no pain; and, upon rousing up, after the operation, declared that he had felt none."

Punch found another and more domestic use for this anaesthetic.

Patient: "This is really most delightful—a most beautiful dream."

[Picture: Wonderful effects of Ether in a case of a scolding wife]

Not only was there advance in medicine, but, also, in social science—people began to think that the condition of the working classes might be ameliorated by giving them better dwellings. As yet, little or nothing had been done, in this way, in London, but a grand opportunity occurred at Liverpool, in the building of Birkenhead, and an extensive range of model dwellings were erected, four-storied, with ornate exterior, the rents varying from 3s. to 5s. per set of rooms, according to position; but this included a constant supply of water, and the use of one gas burner in each set of rooms, and all rates and taxes; with, moreover, two iron bedsteads, a grate with an oven, and convenient fixtures; and they were found to answer financially.

The Queen's consent was given on 26 Aug. to an "Act to Encourage the Establishment of Public Baths and Wash-houses" (9-10 Vic., c. 74). How it was appreciated by the animals called "Vestrymen" may be seen by the fact that at a Vestry meeting of the inhabitants of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, held 26 Oct., the subject was brought forward, when an amendment was moved "that it be taken into consideration that day six months." For the amendment, 28; against 20!

The dangers of Smithfield Market were becoming too apparent, as we see by a letter in the Times of 26 Nov.:

[Picture: The Bull Fight of Smithfield]

"Sir,—Your paper of this morning again gives an account of more accidents arising in consequence of cattle being driven along our crowded streets, and we may expect to hear of numerous, probably some fatal, injuries being sustained during the short, and, often, very dark days, which are common for some months in the winter. Everyone, whose avocations call him into the city, has to complain of the delay arising from the over-crowded state of the leading thoroughfares; and, on Smithfield Market days, the obstruction is greatly increased by the droves of cattle and sheep which, in a bewildered, and frequently infuriated state, are being forced by crowds of men, boys, and dogs, along the streets, to the great annoyance, and, often, danger, of the passengers. I do not here dwell on the revolting scenes of cruelty to the animals, which everyone has to witness and deplore; but, on the ground of danger to human life, and, also, because of the seriously increased obstruction to the general traffic, which is caused by having the cattle market in the heart of the metropolis, I would urge the removal of Smithfield Market to some more appropriate place. When this has been effected—when abattoirs have been constructed, where, alone, all the larger animals are permitted to be slaughtered, and when cattle are allowed to be driven through the streets only at hours before the business of the day has commenced—then, and not before, will London be, in reference to its cattle market and slaughter houses, what is required in the middle of the nineteenth century."

Punch gives us the following lyric on the subject:

THE BULL FIGHT OF SMITHFIELD.

There's trampling feet in Goswell Street, there's row on Holborn Hill, There's crush and crowd, and swearing loud, from bass to treble shrill; From grazier cad, and drover lad, and butcher shining greasy, And slaughter men, and knacker's men, and policemen free and easy.

'Tis Monday morn, and onward borne to Smithfield's mart repair The pigs and sheep, and, lowing deep, the oxen fine and fair; They're trooping on from Islington, and down Whitechapel road, To wild halloo of a shouting crew, and yelp, and bite, and goad.

From combs of distant Devonshire, from sunny Sussex wold, From where their Durham pastures the stately short-horns hold; From Herefordshire marches, from fenny Cambridge flat, For London's maw they gather—those oxen fair and fat.

The stunted stocks of Cambria's rocks uneasily are lowing, With redder blaze of wild amaze their eyes around them throwing; And the unkempt stot of Galloway, and the Kyloe of the Mearns, Whose hoof, that crush'd the heather tuft, the mild MACADAM spurns.

They may talk of plaza mayors, of torero's nimble feat, Of MONTEZ, the famed matador of picadors so fleet; But what is Spanish Bull fight to deeds which we can show, When through the street, at all they meet, the Smithfield oxen go?

See there, see there, where, high in air, the nurse and nurseling fly! Into a first-floor window, see, where that old gent, they shy! Now they're bolting into parlours, now they're tumbling into cellars, To the great disgust and terror of the peaceable indwellers.

Who rides so neat down Chiswell Street? A City Knight, I ween; By girth and span an alderman, nor less by port and mien. Look out, look out! that sudden shout! the Smithfield herd is nigh! Now turn, Sir Knight, and boldly fight, or, more discreetly, fly.

He hath eased round on his saddle, all fidgetty and fast; There's another herd behind him, and the time for flight is past. Full in his front glares a rabid runt, thro' tears of pain that blind him, For the drover's almost twisted off the tail that hangs behind him.

All lightly armed for such a shock was stout SIR CALIPEE, But he couched his new umbrella, and "Police" aloud cried he! Crash—smash—slap-dash! The whalebone snaps, the saddle seat is bare, And the Knight, in mazy circles, is flying thro' the air!

The runt tears on, the rout is gone, the street is calm once more, And to Bartlemy's they bear him, extended on a door; Now, gramercy, good SIR CALIPEE, to the turtle and the haunch, That padded out thy civic ribs, and lined thy stately paunch.

No ribs are broke, but a shattering stroke thy system has sustain'd; Any other than an alderman had certainly been brained. And, soon as he had breath to swear, the Knight right roundly swore That, straight, he'd put down Smithfield, and set up an abattoir.

In this year there were sold at Smithfield 226,132 beasts, 1,593,270 sheep and lambs, 26,356 calves, and 33,531 pigs—to deal with which there were about 160 salesmen. Things went on very much in the same style as described in Punch until 1851, when the contracted space of the market, the slaughtering places adjoining, and many other nuisances, gave grounds for general dissatisfaction, and after an investigation, an Act (14-15 Vic., c. 61) was passed on 1 Aug. "For providing a Metropolitan Market, and conveniences therewith, in lieu of the Cattle Market at Smithfield." A suitable site was found in Copenhagen Fields, Islington; the last market at Smithfield was held on 11 June, and the first at the new one on 13 June, 1855.

The Hampshire Guardian, copied into the Times of 12 Dec., gives us the story of the first submarine Telegraph: "We are enabled to supply the following additional particulars respecting the submarine Telegraph laid down across our harbour. It is now about three years since the telegraph from the Nine Elms terminus to the terminus at Gosport was first established. Subsequently, from the inconvenience experienced at the Admiralty Office here, because of the distance to the telegraph station, the wires were continued from that place to the Royal Clarence Yard. With this addition, although the inconvenience was lessened, it was far from being removed, the harbour intervening, leaving a distance of upwards of a mile, to the Admiral's house, unconnected; and, notwithstanding the wish of the authorities, both here and in London, that the telegraph should be carried to the Dockyard, no attempt has, hitherto, been made to do so, because it has been considered almost impossible to convey it under water. An offer, indeed, was made to the Admiralty, to lay down a telegraph enclosed in metallic pipes, which were to be fixed under the water by the aid of diving bells. This scheme, having been found to be impracticable, has been very prudently abandoned. Whatever difficulties may have hitherto interfered to prevent the establishment of submarine telegraphs, appear, now, to have been entirely overcome, for the time occupied from the commencement of carrying the telegraph from shore to shore, and transmitting signals, did not occupy a quarter of an hour. The telegraph, which has the appearance of an ordinary rope, was coiled into one of the dockyard boats, one end of it being made fast on shore, and, as the boat was pulled across, the telegraphic rope was gradually paid out over the stern, its superior gravity causing it to sink to the bottom immediately. . . . Independently of the simplicity of this submarine telegraph, it has an advantage which even the telegraphs on land do not possess—in the event of an accident, it can be replaced in ten minutes. The success of the trial here has, we understand, determined the inventors to lay down their contemplated line across the Channel, from England to France, under the sanction of the respective Governments."

Such was the germ of the multitudinous cables which now span every ocean.



CHAPTER XXIX.

Medals for Army and Navy—Grenville library—Day of fasting—"Binding of Satan"—Suspension of transportation—New House of Lords—Jenny Lind—Bunn v. Lind—"Jenny Linden"—Death of O'Connell—Story of the Duke of Buccleugh—Abolition of Eton "Montem."

At this time, at all events, we did not plaster our soldiers with medals for every trifling deed of duty, and it was not until January of this year, that a Commission was appointed to decide upon the medals which were to be presented to the officers and men who served in the Peninsula, under Wellington and other commanders. And it was not till the 1st of June, that an Order was issued from the Horse Guards, that claims might be sent in by those who were present in battles from 1793 to 1814—or, rather, the list began with Maida, 1806, and ended with Toulouse, 1814. The medals for naval service began with the "Glorious First of June," 1794, and ended with the fight between the Endymion and President on 25 Jan., 1815. The Medal for Waterloo was granted some long time afterwards.

In January, the British Museum received the splendid bequest of the Library of Thomas Grenville, Esqre., who died 17 Dec., 1846. This magnificent library of over 20,000 volumes, valued at the very low estimate of 50,000 pounds, contains two copies of the Mazarin bible, one on vellum, a first folio of Shakespere, Caxton's "Reynard the Fox," and countless other literary treasures and rarities. He had intended to leave this library to the Duke of Buckingham—but, reflecting that as most of the books had been paid for with the proceeds of a sinecure office (Chief Justice in eyre, south of the Trent) of 2,000 pounds a year, which he had held from 1800 to 1817, when it was abolished, he felt it only just that they should be given to the nation, who had virtually paid for them. With them came, as curator, his valet, Mr. Holden, who remained with his master's beloved books until three or four years since.

On 9 March a Royal Proclamation was issued for a day of Fasting and humiliation on account of the famine and distress in Ireland, and it was duly kept on the day set apart for it, 24 March.

There is a curious paragraph in the Times of 23 March: "BINDING OF SATAN.—During the past two or three weeks, a number of persons have been going round the streets, on the Surrey side of the water, wearing belts, like those worn by the fire brigade, on which passages from the Scriptures are painted, carrying with them an inkhorn and long sheets of paper, soliciting signatures to what they pretend to be a petition to Heaven, for the binding of Satan, the Prince of darkness. So eager are those persons to get the paper signed, that men, women, and children are stopped indiscriminately, and requested to sign. Those who are too young to sign, or unable to write their names, have the same done for them by the men, who do not attempt to disguise the fact of belonging to the followers of Joanna Southcote. Upon several occasions, a great deal of confusion has been created by the parties, for they generally manage to go about with knots of forty or fifty persons; and, occasionally, discussions ensue, which are calculated to bring the Scriptures into perfect ridicule. One person, more intelligent than the persons who are hawking the petitions about, inquired who it is that will present the petition? when the man replied, with the greatest coolness, that as soon as a sufficient number of names are attached to the petition, it will be presented to the Throne of Mercy by Joanna Southcote herself. Surely it is high time that such exhibitions were put down by the police."

Early in April a circular from the Home Secretary was forwarded to the magistrates at the various gaols, telling them that, in consequence of the suspension of transportation of male convicts to Van Diemen's Land, it would be requisite for them to make immediate provision for the confinement and employment, in this country, of a great number of such offenders.

On the 14th of April the Queen paid a visit of inspection to the New House of Lords, and, on the next day, the Peers took possession of it, and transacted business there for the first time.

Talk of Gossip, was there ever such food for it as the arrival of Jenny Lind—it was a furore, a madness. She arrived in London late on the afternoon of Ap. 17, and was present in the evening at the performance at Her Majesty's Theatre. On May 4 she made her first appearance on the Stage in England—in this Theatre—where she played in "Robert le Diable," and, from that moment, until the end of the season, nothing else was thought of—nothing else talked of—but Jenny Lind, and it was no short-lived fit of enthusiasm, for she was the favourite of the public until her retirement; her beautiful voice and simplicity of manner charming everyone, from Royalty downwards. Unfortunately her debut was somewhat marred by a pecuniary squabble between her and Bunn, the operatic poet, a rival impresario, Lumley, having secured her services. Here is Punch's version of the squabble:

"JENNY-LINDEN.

A DREADFUL ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN THE SWEDISH NIGHTINGALE AND THE POET BUNN.

On LIND, when Drury's sun was low, And bootless was the wild-beast show, The lessee counted for a flow Of rhino to the treasury.

But JENNY LIND, whose waken'd sight Saw Drury in a proper light, Refused, for any sum per night, To sing at the Menagerie.

With rage and ire in vain display'd, Each super drew his wooden blade, In fury half, and half afraid For his prospective salary.

BUNN in a flaming frenzy flew, And speedily the goose quill drew, With which he was accustomed to Pen such a deal of poetry.

He wrote the maiden to remind Her of a compact she had signed, To Drury Lane's condition blind, And threatened law accordingly.

Fair as in face, in nature, she Implored the man to set her free, Assuring him that he should be Remunerated handsomely.

Two thousand pounds she offered, so That he would only let her go; BUNN, who would have his bond, said NO! With dogged pertinacity.

And, now, his action let him bring, {310} And try how much the law will wring From her to do the handsome thing, Who had proposed so readily!

The Swedish Nightingale to cage, He failed; she sought a fitting stage, And left him to digest his rage, And seek his legal remedy.

Then shook the House, with plaudits riven, When JENNY'S opening note was given, The sweetest songstress under heaven Forth bursting into melody.

But fainter the applause shall grow, At waning Drury's wild-beast show, And feebler still shall be the flow Of rhino to the treasury.

The Opera triumphs! LUMLEY brave, Thy bacon thou shalt more than save; Wave, London, all thy 'kerchiefs wave, And cheer with all thy chivalry.

'Tis night; and still yon star doth run; But all in vain for treasurer DUNN, And Mr. HUGHES, and poet BUNN, And quadrupeds, and company.

For Sweden's Nightingale so sweet, Their fellowship had been unmeet, The sawdust underneath whose feet Hath been the Drama's sepulchre."

Died on 15th May, at Genoa, on his route to Rome, aged 72, Daniel O'Connell, the erst "uncrowned King of Ireland," who, during his lifetime, had been a thorn (and a very troublesome one) in the side of every English government. His heart was forwarded to Rome, but his body was embalmed, and, in due time, was sent to Ireland for interment.

The Liverpool Albion, quoted in the Times of 14 May, is responsible for the following story: "Some time ago, the Duke of Buccleugh, in one of his walks, purchased a cow from a person in the neighbourhood of Dalkeith, and left orders to send it to his palace on the following morning. According to agreement, the cow was sent, and the Duke, who happened to be en deshabille, and walking in the avenue, espied a little fellow ineffectually attempting to drive the animal to its destination. The boy, not knowing the Duke, bawled out to him: 'Hi! mun, come here an' gi'us a han' wi' this beast.' The Duke saw the mistake, and determined to have a joke with the little fellow. Pretending, therefore, not to understand him, the Duke walked on slowly, the boy still craving his assistance. At last, he cried in a tone of apparent distress: 'Come here, mun, an' help us, an' as sure as onything, I'll give ye half I get.' This last solicitation had the desired effect. The Duke went and lent a helping hand. 'And now,' said the Duke, as they trudged along, 'how much do you think you will get for this job?' 'Oh, dinna ken,' said the boy, 'but I am sure o' something, for the folk up at the house are good to a' bodies.' As they approached the house, the Duke darted from the boy, and entered by a different way. He called a servant, and put a sovereign into his hand, saying, 'Give that to the boy that has brought the cow.' The Duke returned to the avenue, and was soon rejoined by the boy. 'Well, how much did you get?' said the Duke. 'A shilling,' said the boy, 'an' there's the half o't to ye.' 'But, surely, you got more than a shilling,' said the Duke. 'No,' said the boy, with the utmost earnestness, 'as sure's death, that's a' I got—an' d'ye not think it's a plenty?' 'I do not,' said the Duke; 'there must be some mistake; and, as I am acquainted with the Duke, if you return, I think I'll get you more.' The boy consented; back they went. The Duke rang the bell, and ordered all the servants to be assembled. 'Now,' said the Duke to the boy, 'point out the person who gave you the shilling.' 'It was that chap, there, with the apron,' pointing to the butler. The delinquent confessed, fell on his knees, and attempted an apology; but the Duke interrupted him, indignantly ordered him to give the boy the sovereign, and quit his service instantly. 'You have lost,' said the Duke, 'your money, your situation, and your character, by your covetousness; learn, henceforth, that honesty is the best policy.' The boy, by this time, recognised his assistant, in the person of the Duke, and the Duke was so delighted with the sterling worth and honesty of the boy, that he ordered him to be sent to school, kept there, and provided for at his own expense."

Eton "Montem" was abolished this year. It was a triennial custom, and had for its purpose the presentation of a sum of money to the Captain of the school on his departure to the University. Every third year, on Whitsun Tuesday, some of the Eton boys, clad in fancy costume (as is here given from the Montem of 1844), went to Salt Hill, and the neighbourhood generally, and levied contributions, or "Salt," from all passers-by. The custom led to grave abuses, and the Provost and Head Master determined that it should end, but, that the boy who benefited by it should not be a loser, the latter, Dr. Hawtrey, gave him 200 pounds out of his own pocket. The following is an account of the death and burial of Eton "Montem":

"Tuesday, 25 May.—This being the day on which the triennial festival of 'Montem' would have been celebrated at Eton and Salt Hill, had it not been abolished by the Provost and the authorities of Eton, considerable excitement prevailed in the vicinity of the College from an early hour this morning, in consequence (from rumours which had been in circulation for some time past) of its being apprehended that some 'demonstration' would be made by the boys, assisted by several old Etonians from Oxford and Cambridge (who are strongly opposed to the abolition of the ceremony), which might lead to a breach of the peace. With the exception of about a thousand small squares of glass being demolished in the vicinity of the lower school, and similar breakages, but to a much smaller extent, at the houses of parties who were supposed to be in favour of the determination which had been come to by the Provost, we have heard of no demonstration of a riotous character on the part of the boys. This being a 'whole holiday,' several of the head boys had permission to proceed in boats, up the Thames, for the day, as far as Cliefden. Between 100 and 200 have, also, left for the Whitsun holidays; thus thinning the number remaining at College to a considerable extent.

[Picture: Dresses, Eton "Montem." 1844]

"As soon as 'absence' had been called by the head master, the Rev. Dr. Hawtrey, shortly after 12 o'clock, the boys, numbering between 200 and 300, formed in procession in the playing fields, and marched across the fields, preceded by a black flag, to the celebrated mount at Salt Hill. They were joined by a great many of the old Etonians from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, who arrived at Eton this morning. Each wore, on his left arm, a band and rosette of black crape, and many had white hatbands and scarves. As they were seen wending their way towards Salt Hill, they had all the appearance of mourners (merry though they might be) in a funeral procession. Upon their arrival at the Mount, the black flag was waved in solemn silence, and, afterwards, placed on the summit, drooping on the ground, typical of the lost glories of Montem. The large party then proceeded to Botham's, at the Windmill Hotel, whence, after partaking of a luncheon, they again returned to the Mount, and, with the flag, retraced their steps back to College.

"A match at cricket was played during the day, between the Oxonians and the present Etonians, in the shooting fields attached to the College. A splendid cold collation was provided, in the evening, for the players, by Mr. Clarke, of the Christopher Inn. The waiters who attended upon the guests were compelled to wear black crape around their arms, 'in keeping,' as it was observed, 'with the solemnity of the occasion.' Such were the fears entertained by some of the College authorities that a disturbance might take place in the course of the day, that a strong body of the Metropolitan A division of police was stationed at Slough, in plain clothes (as we are informed), to be in readiness to assist the local authorities, in the event of their services being required, it being expected that a mob, composed of the idle and lazy of the two towns, might, in the course of the evening, show some disposition to create a disturbance. The abolition of Montem is not only considered to be a most unpopular proceeding on the part of the old and present Etonians; but, also, by the tradesmen of Eton and Windsor, amongst the former of whom a large sum of money was triennially circulated, both before and during the festival."

Punch has a lament on it, of which I reproduce three verses:

"Say, Hill of Salt, for thou hast seen Full many a noble race Do what might be considered mean In any other case— With cap in hand, and courtly leg, Waylay the traveller, and beg; Say, was it not a pleasing sight Those young Etonians to behold, For eleemosynary gold, Arrest the passing wight.

Whilst some, of more excursive bent, Their vagrant arts to ply, To all the various places went, That in the neighbourhood lie; To Datchet, Slough, or Horton they, Or e'en to Colnbrook, took their way, Or ancient Windsor's regal town; Stopp'd every body they could meet, Knocked at each house, in every street, In hopes of half a crown.

Gay clothes were theirs, by fancy made; Some were as Romans drest, Some in the Grecian garb array'd, Some bore the knightly crest; Theirs was attire of every hue, Of every fashion, old, or new, Various as Nathan's ample store. Angelic beings! Ladies! say Will ye let these things pass away? Must Montem be no more?"

From this, to the Accession of the Queen, there is no more Gossip to chronicle.

[Picture: Decorative picture of person with crown]



Footnotes:

{10} Then a very active M.P.; afterwards Judge in the Admiralty and Probate Courts, Dean of Arches, &c.

{23} It is said that this was the last chime rung.

{27} Still in use on the Royal Exchange.

{81a} It is needless to say that the Queen's Speech to Parliament on 5th Feb. was absolutely silent on the matter; indeed, the Queen did not inform her Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, of her choice until October of this year.

{81b} Poems by the Lady Flora Hastings, edited by her sister. Edinburgh, 1841, 8vo.

{84} The Queen's most intimate companion from her childhood.

{119a} This was preliminary, and was entitled "An Act for Exhibiting a Bill in this present Parliament for naturalising His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha."

{119b} That of intermarriage with Protestants only.

{128} A private box, on the level of the stage, with which it communicated.

{132} Three Chartist leaders, who were condemned to death on 16 Jan., 1840, but were never executed, and subsequently pardoned.

{151} Handcuffs.

{156} The nautical way of writing "Oh, come to me."

Printer's Devil.

{159} He put up for election at the Senior United Service Club, was balloted for on 6 June, 1840, when out of 194 balls, 166 were black.

{163} An action was brought against them at Reading, and on 24 Feb., 1843, the jury found for the plaintiff against all the defendants, and gave 1s. damages for the assault, and 55 pounds for the injury done to the house and furniture.

{169a} It was held copyhold of the Queen, as Lord of the Manor.

{169b} Mr. Simpson had been a famous Master of the Ceremonies.

{170a} Ring Master at Astley's.

{170b} George Robins, a famous auctioneer.

{171} A famous Rope dancer.

{194} A well known nick-name for Lord Palmerston.

{279} From Moorgate Street 83 prospectuses, demanding 90,175,000 pounds, were sent out. Gresham Street issued 20, requiring 17,580,000 pounds.

{310} The case of Bunn v. Lind came on, in the Court of Queen's Bench, on 22 Feb., 1848. Damages laid at 10,000 pounds. The jury found a verdict for the plaintiff, and the case was ultimately settled by a payment of 2,000 pounds.

THE END

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