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shioned book ‘The Elegant
Letter-Writer,’ would perhaps improve the style of the Chamberlain’s
_subs_, and would not be lost on certain young gentlemen of Oxford.

If not among the eccentricities--at least among the marvels of
modern French-actress life--may be considered the highly dramatic
entertainments given by some of the ladies in their own homes.

Like the historical tallow-chandler, who, after retiring from business,
went down to the old manufactory on melting days, the actor, generally
speaking, never gets altogether out of his profession. Some who retire
give ‘readings,’ or return periodically to the stage, after no end of
‘final farewells’ for positively the last time, and nothing is more
common than to see concert singers (on holiday) at concerts. French
actresses have been especially addicted to keeping to their vocation,
even in their amusements. If they are not at the theatre they have
private theatricals at home; and, if not private theatricals, at least
what comes next to them, or most nearly resembles them.

In the grand old days of the uninterrupted line of French actresses
there was a Mdlle. Duthé, who was first in the second line of
accomplished players. She was of the time of, and often a substitute
for, Mdlle. Clairon. The latter was never off the stage. She was always
acting. When she was released from Fort l’Évêque, where she had been
imprisoned for refusing to act with Dubois, whom she considered as
a disgrace to the profession, Clairon said to a bevy of actresses
in her heroic way, ‘The King may take my life, or my property, but
not my honour!’ ‘No, dear,’ responded the audacious Sophie Arnould,
‘certainly not. Where there is nothing, the King loses his rights!’
Mdlle. Duthé belonged to these always-acting actresses. She is the
first on record who gave a _bal costumé_--a ball to which every guest
was to come in a theatrical or fancy dress. This was bringing amateur
acting into the ball-room. The invitation included the entire company
of the Théâtre Français, every one of whom came in a tragedy suit.
The non-professionals, authors, artists, _abbés_, _noblesse_, and
_gentils-hommes_ also donned character dresses; and ball and supper
constituted a wonderful success. An entertainment similar to the
above was given when Louis Philippe was king, by Mdlle. Georges, the
great _tragédienne_. All who were illustrious in literature, fine
arts, diplomacy, and so forth, elbowed one another in the actress’s
suite of splendid rooms. Théophile Gautier, we are told, figured as
an incroyable, Jules Janin as a Natchez Indian, and Victor Hugo, who
now takes the ‘Radical’ parts, was present _en Palicare_. But the most
striking of what may be called these amateur theatrical balls was
given last April by M. and Mdme. Judic, or rather by the latter, in
the name of both. According to the ‘Paris Journal,’ such things are
easily done--if you are able to do them. If you have an exquisitely
arranged house, though small, you may get three hundred dancers into it
with facility. You have only, if your house is in France, to send for
Belloir, who will clap a glass cover to your court-yard, lay carpets
here, hang tapestry there, place mirrors right and left from floor
to ceiling, and scatter flowers and chandeliers everywhere, and the
thing is done--particularly if you have an account at your bankers’.
Something like this was done on the night of Saturday, April 19, 1873,
when ‘La Rosière d’ici’ invited her guests to come in theatrical
array to her ball, which was to begin at midnight. According to the
descriptions of this spring festival, which were circulated by oral
or printed report, not every one was invited who would fain have been
there. The select company numbered the choicest of the celebrities of
the stage, art, and literature (with few exceptions), and _therefore_
the ‘go’ and the gaiety of the _fête_ never paused for a single instant.

As for the costumes, says Jehan Valter, they who did not see the
picturesque, strange, and fantastic composition, have never seen
anything. Never was coachman so perfect a coachman as Grénier.
Never was waggoner more waggoner than Grévin. Moreover, there were
peasants from every quarter of the world, of every colour, and of
every age. There were stout market porters, incroyables, jockeys,
brigands, waltzing, schottisching, and mazourkaing; for the dance
went fast and furious on that memorable evening (or rather,
Sunday morning). And no wonder, for among the ladies were Madame
Judic, in the costume of a village bride; with Mesdames Moissier,
Gabrielle Gautier, Massart, and Gérandon, as the bridesmaids.
Alice Regnault was a châtelaine of the mediæval period, Hielbron
and Damain (the latter, the younger of the sister actresses
of that name, who played so charmingly little conversational
pieces in English drawing-rooms during the Franco-German war),
were country lasses; and, among others, were Blanche D’Antigny,
Debreux, Léontine Spelier, Esther David, Gournay, &c., &c.--in
short, all the young and pretty actresses of the capital were
present. At four o’clock in the morning a splendid supper brought
all the guests together, after which dancing was resumed till
seven. The festival terminated by the serving of a _soupe à
l’oignon à la paysanne_; this stirrup-cup of rustic onion soup was
presented in little bowls, with a wooden spoon in each! The sun
had been up a very long time before the last of the dancers, loth
to depart, had entered their carriages on their way home.

Such is the newest form in which theatrical celebrities get up and
enjoy costume-balls after their fashion.

One eccentric matter little understood in this country is co-operation,
or collaboration, in the production of French pieces. There is an old
story of an ambitious gentleman offering M. Scribe many thousand francs
to be permitted to have his name associated with that of M. Scribe
as joint authors of a piece by the former, of which the ambitious
gentleman was to be allowed to write a line, to save his honour. Scribe
wrote in reply that it was against Scripture to yoke together a horse
and an ass. ‘I should like to know,’ asked the gentleman, ‘what right
you have to call me a horse?’ This showed that the gentleman had wit
enough to become a partner in a dramatic manufactory. Indeed, much less
than wit--a mere idea, is sufficient to qualify a junior partner. The
historian of ‘La Collaboration au Théâtre,’ M. Goizot, states that a
young provincial once called on Scribe with a letter of introduction
and a little comedy, in manuscript. Scribe talked with him, promised
to read the piece, and civilly dismissed him. The provincial youth
returned _au pays_, hoped, waited, and despaired; finally, at the
end of a year, he went up to Paris, and again called on M. Scribe.
With difficulty the dramatist recognised him; with more difficulty
could he recollect the manuscript to which his visitor referred, but
after consulting a note-book, he took out a manuscript vaudeville of
his own and proposed to read it to the visitor. It was that of his
popular piece ‘La Chanoinesse.’ The visitor submitted, but he became
delighted as he listened. The reading over, he ventured to refer to his
own manuscript. ‘I have just read it to you,’ said Scribe, ‘with my
additions. Your copy had an idea in it; ideas are to me everything. I
have made use of yours, and you and I are authors of “La Chanoinesse.”’

Collaboration rarely enables us to see the share of each author in the
work. The bouquet we fling to the successful pair is smelt by both. The
lately deceased Mr. P. Lébrun made the reception speech when M. Émile
Angier was admitted to one of the forty seats of the French Academy.
There was a spice of sarcasm in the following words addressed to one
of the two authors of ‘Le Gendre de M. Poirier:’ ‘What is your portion
therein? and are we not welcoming, not only yourself, to the Academy,
but also your _collaborateur_ and friend?’ The fact is that in the
highest class of co-operative work the work itself is founded on a
single thought. The thought is discussed through all its consequences,
till the moment for giving it dramatic action arrives, and then the
pens pursue their allotted work. There is, however, another method. MM.
Legouvé and Prosper Dinaux wrote their drama of ‘Louise de Lignerolles’
in this way. The two authors sat face to face at the same table, and
wrote the first act. The two results were read, compared, and finally,
out of what was considered the best work in the two, a new act was
selected with some new writing in addition. Thus three acts were really
constructed to build up one. This ponderous method is not followed
by many writers. Indeed, how some co-operative dramatists work is
beyond conjecture. A vaudeville in one act sometimes has four authors;
indeed, several of these single-act pieces have been advertised as the
work of a dozen; in one case, according to M. Goizot, of _sixteen_
authors, who probably chatted, laughed, drank, and smoked the piece
into existence at a café; and the piece becoming a reality, the whole
company of revellers were named as the many fathers of that minute

Undoubtedly the most marvellous example of dramatic eccentricity
that was ever put upon record is the one which tells us of a regular
performance by professional actors in a public theatre, before an
ordinary audience, who had extraordinary interest in the drama. The
locality was in Paris, in the old theatre of the Porte Saint-Martin.
The piece was the famous melodrama, ‘La Pie Voleuse,’ on which Rossini
founded ‘La Gazza Ladra,’ and which, under the name of ‘The Maid
and the Magpie,’ afforded such a triumph to Miss Kelly as that lady
may remember with pride; for we believe that most accomplished and
most natural of all actresses still survives--or was surviving very
lately--with two colleagues at least of the olden time, Mrs. W. West
and Miss Love. When ‘La Pie Voleuse’ was being acted at the above-named
French theatre, the allied armies had invaded France; a portion of the
invading force had entered Paris. The circumstance now to be related
is best told on French authority. An English writer might almost
be suspected of calumniating the French people by narrating such
an incident, unsupported by reference to the source from which he
derived it. We take it from one of the many dramatic _feuilletons_ of
M. Paul Foucher, an author of several French plays, a critic of French
players and play-writers, and a relative, by marriage, of M. Victor
Hugo. This is what M. Paul Foucher tells us: ‘On the evening of the
second entry of the foreign armies into Paris, the popular melodrama
“La Pie Voleuse,” was being acted at the Porte Saint-Martin. There was
one thousand eight hundred francs in the house, which at that time
was considered a handsome receipt. During the performance the doors
were closed, because the rumbling noise of the cannon, rolling over
the stones, interrupted the interest of the dialogue, and it rendered
impossible the sympathetic attention of the audience.’ Frenchmen there
were who were ashamed of this heartless indifference for the national
tragedy. Villemot was disgusted at this elasticity of the Parisian
spirit, and he added to his rebuke these remarkable words:--‘I take
pleasure in hoping that we may never again be subjected to the same
trial, and that, in any case, we may bear it in a more dignified
fashion.’ How Paris bore it, when the terrible event again occurred,
is too well known to be retold; but the incident of ‘La Pie Voleuse’
is perhaps the most eccentric of the examples of dramatic and popular
eccentricity to be found in the annals of the French stage.


When Hotspur treads the stage with passionate grace, the spectator
hardly dreams of the fact that the princely original lived, paid taxes,
and was an active man of his parish, in Aldersgate Street. _There_,
however, stood the first Northumberland House. By the ill-fortune of
Percy it fell to the conquering side in the serious conflict in which
Hotspur was engaged; and Henry IV. made a present of it to his queen,
Jane. Thence it got the name of the Queen’s Wardrobe. Subsequently it
was converted into a printing office; and in the course of time, the
first Northumberland House disappeared altogether.

In Fenchurch Street, not now a place wherein to look for nobles, the
great Earls of Northumberland were grandly housed in the time of Henry
VI.; but vulgar citizenship elbowed the earls too closely, and they
ultimately withdrew from the City. The deserted mansion and grounds
were taken possession of by the roysterers. Dice were for ever rattling
in the stately saloons. Winners shouted for joy, and blasphemy was
considered a virtue by the losers. As for the once exquisite gardens,
they were converted into bowling-greens, titanic billiards, at which
sport the gayer City sparks breathed themselves for hours in the summer
time. There was no place of entertainment so fashionably frequented as
this second Northumberland House; but dice and bowls were at length to
be enjoyed in more vulgar places, and ‘the old seat of the Percys was
deserted by fashion.’ On the site of mansion and gardens, houses and
cottages were erected, and the place knew its old glory no more. So
ended the second Northumberland House.

While the above mansions or palaces were the pride of all Londoners
and the envy of many, there stood on the strand of the Thames, at
the bend of the river, near Charing Cross, a hospital and chapel,
whose founder, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, had dedicated it to
St. Mary, and made it an appanage to the Priory of Roncesvalle, in
Navarre. Hence the hospital on our river strand was known by the name
of ‘St. Mary Rouncivall.’ The estate went the way of such property at
the dissolution of the monasteries; and the first lay proprietor of
the forfeited property was a Sir Thomas Cawarden. It was soon after
acquired by Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, son of the first Earl
of Surrey. Howard, early in the reign of James I., erected on the site
of St. Mary’s Hospital a brick mansion which, under various names,
has developed into that third and present Northumberland House which
is about to fall under pressure of circumstances, the great need of
London, and the argument of half a million of money.

Thus the last nobleman who clung to the Strand, which, on its south
side, was once a line of palaces, has left it for ever. The bishops
were the first to reside on that river-bank outside the City walls.
Nine episcopal palaces were once mirrored in the then clear waters of
the Thames. The lay nobles followed, when they felt themselves as safe
in that fresh and healthy air as the prelates. The chapel of the Savoy
is still a royal chapel, and the memories of time-honoured Lancaster
and of John, the honest King of France, still dignify the place. But
the last nobleman who resided so far from the now recognised quarters
of fashion has left what has been the seat of the Howards and Percys
for nearly three centuries, and the Strand will be able no longer to
boast of a duke. It also recently possessed an English earl; but _he_
was only a modest lodger in Norfolk Street.

When the Duke of Northumberland went from the Strand, there went with
him a shield with very nearly nine hundred quarterings; and among them
are the arms of Henry VII., of the sovereign houses of France, Castile,
Leon, and Scotland, and of the ducal houses of Normandy and Brittany!
_Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus_, might be a fitting motto for
a nobleman who, when he stands before a glass, may see therein, not
only the Duke, but also the Earl of Northumberland, Earl Percy, Earl
of Beverley, Baron Lovaine of Alnwick, Sir Algernon Percy, Bart., two
doctors (LL.D. and D.C.L.), a colonel, several presidents, and the
patron of two-and-twenty livings.

As a man who deals with the merits of a book is little or nothing
concerned with the binding thereof, with the water-marks, or with the
printing, but is altogether concerned with the life that is within,
that is, with the author, his thoughts, and his expression of them,
so, in treating of Northumberland House, we care much less for notices
of the building than of its inhabitants--less for the outward aspect
than for what has been said or done beneath its roof. If we look with
interest at a mere wall which screens from sight the stage of some
glorious or some terrible act, it is not for the sake of the wall or
its builders: our interest is in the drama and its actors. Who cares,
in speaking of Shakespeare and Hamlet, to know the name of the stage
carpenter at the Globe or the Blackfriars? Suffice it to say, that
Lord Howard, who was an amateur architect of some merit, is supposed
to have had a hand in designing the old house in the Strand, and
that Gerard Christmas and Bernard Jansen are said to have been his
‘builders.’ Between that brick house and the present there is as
much sameness as in the legendary knife which, after having had a new
handle, subsequently received in addition a new blade. The old house
occupied three sides of a square. The fourth side, towards the river,
was completed in the middle of the seventeenth century. The portal
retains something of the old work, but so little as to be scarcely
recognisable, except to professional eyes.

From the date of its erection till 1614 it bore the name of Northampton
House. In that year it passed by will from Henry Howard, Lord
Northampton, to his nephew, Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, from
whom it was called Suffolk House. In 1642, Elizabeth, daughter of
Theophilus, second Earl of Suffolk, married Algernon Percy, tenth Earl
of Northumberland, and the new master gave his name to the old mansion.
The above-named Lord Northampton was the man who has been described as
foolish when young, infamous when old, an encourager, at threescore
years and ten, of his niece, the infamous Countess of Essex; and who,
had he lived a few months longer, would probably have been hanged for
his share, with that niece and others, in the mysterious murder of Sir
Thomas Overbury. Thus, the founder of the house was noble only in name;
his successor and nephew has not left a much more brilliant reputation.
He was connected, with his wife, in frauds upon the King, and was
fined heavily. The heiress of Northumberland, who married his son, came
of a noble but ill-fated race, especially after the thirteenth Baron
Percy was created Earl of Northumberland in 1377. Indeed, the latter
title had been borne by eleven persons before it was given to a Percy,
and by far the greater proportion of the whole of them came to grief.
Of one of them it is stated that he (Alberic) was appointed Earl in
1080, but that, _proving unfit for the dignity_, he was displaced, and
a Norman bishop named in his stead! The idea of turning out from high
estate those who were unworthy or incapable is one that might suggest
many reflections, if it were not _scandalum magnatum_ to make them.

In the chapel at Alnwick Castle there is displayed a genealogical
tree. At the root of the Percy branches is ‘Charlemagne;’ and there
is a sermon in the whole, much more likely to scourge pride than to
stimulate it, if the thing be rightly considered. However this may be,
the Percys find their root in Karloman, the Emperor, through Joscelin
of Louvain, in this way: Agnes de Percy was, in the twelfth century,
the sole heiress of her house. Immensely rich, she had many suitors.
Among these was Joscelin, brother of Godfrey, sovereign Duke of
Brabant, and of Adelicia, Queen Consort of Henry the First of England.
Joscelin held that estate at Petworth which has not since gone out
of the hands of his descendants. This princely suitor of the heiress
Agnes was only accepted by her as husband on condition of his assuming
the Percy name. Joscelin consented; but he added the arms of Brabant
and Louvain to the Percy shield, in order that, if succession to those
titles and possessions should ever be stopped for want of an heir, his
claim might be kept in remembrance. Now, this Joscelin was lineally
descended from ‘Charlemagne,’ and, _therefore_, that greater name lies
at the root of the Percy pedigree, which glitters in gold on the walls
of the ducal chapel in the castle at Alnwick.

Very rarely indeed did the Percys, who were the earlier Earls of
Northumberland, die in their beds. The first of them, Henry, was slain
(1407) in the fight on Bramham Moor. The second, another Henry (whose
father, Hotspur, was killed in the hot affair near Shrewsbury), lies
within St. Alban’s Abbey Church, having poured out his lifeblood in
another Battle of the Roses, fought near that town named after the
saint. The blood of the third Earl helped to colour the roses, which
are said to have grown redder from the gore of the slain on Towton’s
hard-fought field. The forfeited title was transferred, in 1465, to
Lord John Nevill Montagu, great Warwick’s brother; but Montagu soon
lay among the dead in the battle near Barnet. The title was restored
to another Henry Percy, and that unhappy Earl was murdered, in 1489,
at his house, Cucklodge, near Thirsk. In that fifteenth century there
was not a single Earl of Northumberland who died a peaceful and natural

In the succeeding century the first line of Earls, consisting of six
Henry Percys, came to an end in that childless noble whom Anne Boleyn
called ‘the Thriftless Lord.’ He died childless in 1537. He had,
indeed, two brothers, the elder of whom might have succeeded to the
title and estates; but both brothers, Sir Thomas and Sir Ingram, had
taken up arms in the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace.’ Attainder and forfeiture
were the consequences; and in 1551 Northumberland was the title of the
dukedom conferred on John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who lost the dignity
when his head was struck off at the block, two years later.

Then the old title, Earl of Northumberland, was restored in 1557,
to Thomas, eldest son of that attainted Thomas who had joined the
‘Pilgrimage of Grace.’ Ill-luck still followed these Percys. Thomas
was beheaded--the last of his house who fell by the hands of the
executioner--in 1572. His brother and heir died in the Tower in 1585.

None of these Percys had yet come into the Strand. The brick house
there, which was to be their own through marriage with an heiress, was
built in the lifetime of the Earl, whose father, as just mentioned,
died in the Tower in 1585. The son, too, was long a prisoner in
that gloomy palace and prison. While Lord Northampton was laying the
foundations of the future London house of the Percys in 1605, Henry
Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was being carried into durance. There
was a Percy, kinsman to the Earl, who was mixed up with the Gunpowder
Plot. For no other reason than relationship with the conspiring Percy,
the Earl was shut up in the Tower for life, as his sentence ran, and
he was condemned to pay a fine of thirty thousand pounds. The Earl
ultimately got off with fifteen years’ imprisonment and a fine of
twenty thousand pounds. He was popularly known as the Wizard Earl,
because he was a studious recluse, companying only with grave scholars
(of whom there were three, known as ‘Percy’s Magi’) and finding
relaxation in writing rhymed satires against the Scots.

There was a stone walk in the Tower which, having been paved by the
Earl, was known during many years as ‘My Lord of Northumberland’s
Walk.’ At one end was an iron shield of his arms; and holes in which he
put a peg at every turn he made in his dreary exercise.

One would suppose that the Wizard Earl would have been very grateful to
the man who restored him to liberty. Lord Hayes (Viscount Doncaster)
was the man. He had married Northumberland’s daughter, Lucy. The
marriage had excited the Earl’s anger, as a _low match_, and the proud
captive could not ‘stomach’ a benefit for which he was indebted to a
son-in-law on whom he looked down. This proud Earl died in 1632. Just
ten years after, his son, Algernon Percy, went a-wooing at Suffolk
House, in the Strand. It was then inhabited by Elizabeth, the daughter
and heiress of Theophilus, Earl of Suffolk, who had died two years
previously, in 1640. Algernon Percy and Elizabeth Howard made a merry
and magnificent wedding of it, and from the time they were joined
together the house of the bride has been known by the bridegroom’s
territorial title of Northumberland.

The street close to the house of the Percys, which we now know as
Northumberland Street, was then a road leading down to the Thames, and
called Hartshorn Lane. Its earlier name was Christopher Alley. At the
bottom of the lane the luckless Sir Edmundsbury Godfrey had a stately
house, from which he walked many a time and oft to his great wood wharf
on the river. But the glory of Hartshorn Lane was and is Ben Jonson.
No one can say where rare Ben was born, save that the posthumous child
first saw the light in Westminster. ‘Though,’ says Fuller, ‘I cannot,
with all my industrious inquiry, find him in his cradle, I can fetch
him from his long coats. When a little child he lived in Hartshorn
Lane, Charing Cross, where his mother married a bricklayer for her
second husband.’ Mr. Fowler was a master bricklayer, and did well with
his clever stepson. We can in imagination see that sturdy boy crossing
the Strand to go to his school within the old church of St. Martin
(then still) in the Fields. It is as easy to picture him hastening of a
morning early to Westminster, where Camden was second master, and had
a keen sense of the stuff that was in the scholar from Hartshorn Lane.
Of all the figures that flit about the locality, none attracts our
sympathies so warmly as that of the boy who developed into the second
dramatic poet of England.

Of the countesses and duchesses of this family, the most singular was
the widow of Algernon, the tenth Earl. In her widowhood she removed
from the house in the Strand (where she had given a home not only to
her husband, but to a brother) to one which occupied the site on which
White’s Club now stands. It was called Suffolk House, and the proud
lady thereof maintained a semi-regal state beneath the roof and when
she went abroad. On such an occasion as paying a visit, her footmen
walked bareheaded on either side of her coach, which was followed
by a second, in which her women were seated, like so many ladies in
waiting! Her state solemnity went so far that she never allowed her son
Joscelin’s wife (daughter of an Earl) to be seated in her presence--at
least till she had obtained permission to do so.

Joscelin’s wife was, according to Pepys, ‘a beautiful lady indeed.’
They had but one child, the famous heiress, Elizabeth Percy, who
at four years of age was left to the guardianship of her proud and
wicked old grandmother. Joscelin was dead, and his widow married
Ralph, afterwards Duke of Montague. The old Dowager Countess was a
matchmaker, and she contracted her granddaughter, at the age of twelve,
to Cavendish, Earl of Ogle. Before this couple were of age to live
together, Ogle died. In a year or two after, the old matchmaker engaged
her victim to Mr. Thomas Thynne, of Longleat; but the young lady had no
mind to him. In the Hatton collection of manuscripts there are three
letters addressed by a lady of the Brunswick family to Lord and Lady
Hatton. They are undated, but they contain a curious reference to part
of the present subject, and are thus noticed in the first report of
the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts: ‘Mr. Thinn has proved
his marriage with Lady Ogle, but she will not live with him, for fear
of being “rotten before she is ripe.” Lord Suffolk, since he lost his
wife and daughter, lives with his sister, Northumberland. They have
here strange ambassadors--one from the King of Fez, the other from
Muscovett. All the town has seen the last; he goes to the play, and
stinks so that the ladies are not able to take their muffs from their
noses all the play-time. The lampoons that are made of most of the
town ladies are so nasty that no woman would read them, else she would
have got them for her.’

‘Tom of Ten Thousand,’ as Thynne was called, was murdered (shot dead
in his carriage) in Pall Mall (1682) by Königsmark and accomplices,
two or three of whom suffered death on the scaffold. Immediately
afterwards, the maiden wife of two husbands _really_ married Charles,
the proud Duke of Somerset. In the same year, Banks dedicated to her
(_Illustrious Princess_, he calls her) his ‘Anna Bullen,’ a tragedy.
He says: ‘You have submitted to take a noble partner, as angels have
delighted to converse with men;’ and ‘there is so much of divinity and
wisdom in your choice, that none but the Almighty ever did the like’
(giving Eve to Adam) ‘with the world and Eden for a dower.’ Then, after
more blasphemy, and very free allusions to her condition as a bride,
and fulsomeness beyond conception, he scouts the idea of supposing that
she ever should die. ‘You look,’ he says, ‘as if you had nothing mortal
in you. Your guardian angel scarcely is more a deity than you;’ and so
on, in increase of bombast, crowned by the mock humility of ‘my muse
still has no other ornament than truth.’

The Duke and Duchess of Somerset lived in the house in the Strand,
which continued to be called Northumberland House, as there had long
been a _Somerset_ House a little more to the east. Anthony Henley once
annoyed the above duke and showed his own ill-manners by addressing
a letter ‘to the Duke of Somerset, over against the trunk-shop at
Charing Cross.’ The duchess was hardly more respectful when speaking
of her suburban mansion, Sion House, Brentford. ‘It’s a hobbledehoy
place,’ she said; ‘neither town nor country.’ Of this union came a son,
Algernon Seymour, who in 1748 succeeded his father as Duke of Somerset,
and in 1749 was created Earl of Northumberland, for a particular
reason. He had no sons. His daughter Elizabeth had encouraged the
homage of a handsome young fellow of that day, named Smithson. She was
told Hugh Smithson had spoken in terms of admiration of her beauty, and
she laughingly asked why he did not say as much to herself. Smithson
was the son of ‘an apothecary,’ according to the envious, but, in
truth, the father had been a physician, and earned a baronetcy, and
was of the good old nobility, the landowners, with an estate, still
possessed by the family, at Stanwick, in Yorkshire. Hugh Smithson
married this Elizabeth Percy, and the earldom of Northumberland,
conferred on her father, was to go to her husband, and afterwards to
the eldest male heir of this marriage, failing which the dignity was to
remain with Elizabeth and her heirs male by any other marriage.

It is at this point that the present line of Smithson-Percys begins.
Of the couple who may be called its founders so many severe things
have been said, that we may infer that their exalted fortunes and best
qualities gave umbrage to persons of small minds or strong prejudices.
Walpole’s remark, that in the earl’s lord-lieutenancy in Ireland ‘their
vice-majesties scattered pearls and diamonds about the streets,’ is
good testimony to their royal liberality. Their taste may not have
been unexceptionable, but there was no touch of meanness in it. In
1758 they gave a supper at Northumberland House to Lady Yarmouth,
George II.’s old mistress. The chief ornamental piece on the supper
table represented a grand _chasse_ at Herrenhausen, at which there was
a carriage drawn by six horses, in which was seated an august person
wearing a blue ribbon, with a lady at his side. This was not unaptly
called ‘the apotheosis of concubinage.’ Of the celebrated countess
notices vary. Her delicacy, elegance, and refinement are vouched for
by some; her coarseness and vulgarity are asserted by others. When
Queen Charlotte came to England, Lady Northumberland was made one of
the ladies of the queen’s bed-chamber. Lady Townshend justified it to
people who felt or feigned surprise, by remarking, ‘Surely nothing
could be more proper. The queen does not understand English, and can
anything be more necessary than that she should learn the vulgar
tongue?’ One of the countess’s familiar terms for conviviality was
‘junkitaceous,’ but ladies of equal rank had also little slang words
of their own, called things by the very plainest names, and spelt
_physician_ with an ‘f.’

There is ample testimony on record that the great countess never
hesitated at a jest on the score of its coarseness. The earl was
distinguished rather for his pomposity than vulgarity, though a vulgar
sentiment marked some of both his sayings and doings. For example, when
Lord March visited him at Alnwick Castle, the Earl of Northumberland
received him at the gates with this queer sort of welcome: ‘I believe,
my lord, this is the first time that ever a Douglas and a Percy met
here in friendship.’ The censor who said, ‘Think of this from a
Smithson to a true Douglas,’ had ample ground for the exclamation.
George III. raised the earl and countess to the rank of duke and
duchess in 1766. All the earls of older creation were ruffled and angry
at the advancement; but the honour had its drawback. The King would not
allow the title to descend to an heir by any other wife but the one
then alive, who was the true representative of the Percy line.

The old Northumberland House festivals were right royal things in their
way. There was, on the other hand, many a snug, or unceremonious, or
eccentric party given there. Perhaps the most splendid was that given
in honour of the King of Denmark in 1768. His majesty was fairly
bewildered with the splendour. There was in the court what was called
‘a pantheon,’ illuminated by 4,000 lamps. The King, as he sat down to
supper, at the table to which he had expressly invited twenty guests
out of the hundreds assembled, said to the duke, ‘How did you contrive
to light it all in time?’ ‘I had two hundred lamplighters,’ replied the
duke. ‘That was a stretch,’ wrote candid Mrs. Delany; ‘a dozen could
have done the business;’ which was true.

The duchess, who in early life was, in delicacy of form, like one
of the Graces, became, in her more mature years, fatter than if the
whole three had been rolled into one in her person. With obesity came
‘an exposition to sleep,’ as Bottom has it. At ‘drawing-rooms’ she
no sooner sank on a sofa than she was deep in slumber; but while she
was awake she would make jokes that were laughed at and censured the
next day all over London. Her Grace would sit at a window in Covent
Garden, and be _hail fellow well met_ with every one of a mob of tipsy
and not too cleanly-spoken electors. On these occasions it was said
she ‘signalised herself with intrepidity.’ She could bend, too, with
cleverness to the humours of more hostile mobs; and when the Wilkes
rioters besieged the ducal mansion, she and the duke appeared at a
window, did salutation to their masters, and performed homage to the
demagogue by drinking his health in ale.

Horace Walpole affected to ridicule the ability of the duchess as a
verse writer. At Lady Miller’s at Batheaston some rhyming words were
given out to the company, and anyone who could, was required to add
lines to them so as to make sense with the rhymes furnished for the end
of each line. This sort of dancing in fetters was called _bouts rimés_.
‘On my faith,’ cried Walpole, in 1775, ‘there are _bouts rimés_ on a
buttered muffin by her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland.’ It may be
questioned whether anybody could have surmounted the difficulty more
cleverly than her Grace. For example:

The pen which I now take and brandish,
Has long lain useless in my standish.
Know, every maid, from her own patten
To her who shines in glossy satin,
That could they now prepare an oglio
From best receipt of book in folio,
Ever so fine, for all their puffing,
I should prefer a butter’d muffin;
A muffin, Jove himself might feast on,
If eaten with Miller, at Batheaston.

To return to the house itself. There is no doubt that no mansion of
such pretensions and containing such treasures has been so thoroughly
kept from the vulgar eye. There is one exception, however, to this
remark. The Duke (Algernon) who was alive at the period of the first
Exhibition threw open the house in the Strand to the public without
reserve. The public, without being ungrateful, thought it rather a
gloomy residence. Shut in and darkened as it now is by surrounding
buildings--canopied as it now is by clouds of London smoke--it is less
cheerful and airy than the Tower, where the Wizard Earl studied in his
prison room, or counted the turns he made when pacing his prison yard.
The Duke last referred to was in his youth at Algiers under Exmouth,
and in his later years a Lord of the Admiralty. As Lord Prudhoe, he was
a traveller in far-away countries, and he had the faculty of seeing
what he saw, for which many travellers, though they have eyes, are not
qualified. At the pleasant Smithsonian house at Stanwick, when he was
a bachelor, his household was rather remarkable for the plainness of
the female servants. Satirical people used to say the youngest of them
was a grandmother. Others, more charitable or scandalous, asserted
that Lord Prudhoe was looked upon as a father by many in the country
round, who would have been puzzled where else to look for one. It was
his elder brother Hugh (whom Lord Prudhoe succeeded) who represented
England as Ambassador Extraordinary at the coronation of Charles X. at
Rheims. Paris was lost in admiration at the splendour of this embassy,
and never since has the _hôtel_ in the Rue de Bac possessed such a
gathering of royal and noble personages as at the _fêtes_ given there
by the Duke of Northumberland. His sister, Lady Glenlyon, then resided
in a portion of the fine house in the Rue de Bourbon, owned and in part
occupied by the rough but cheery old warrior, the Comte de Lobau. When
that lady was Lady Emily Percy, she was married to the eccentric Lord
James Murray, afterwards Lord Glenlyon. The bridegroom was rather of
an oblivious turn of mind, and it is said that when the wedding morn
arrived, his servant had some difficulty in persuading him that it was
the day on which he had to get up and be married.

There remains only to be remarked, that as the Percy line has been
often represented only by an heiress, there have not been wanting
individuals who boasted of male heirship.

Two years after the death of Joscelin Percy in 1670, who died the
last male heir of the line, leaving an only child, a daughter, who
married the Duke of Somerset, there appeared, supported by the Earl of
Anglesea, a most impudent claimant (as next male heir) in the person
of James Percy, an Irish trunkmaker. This individual professed to
be a descendant of Sir Ingram Percy, who was in the ‘Pilgrimage of
Grace,’ and was brother of the sixth earl. The claim was proved to be
unfounded; but it may have rested on an _illegitimate_ foundation.
As the pretender continued to call himself Earl of Northumberland,
Elizabeth, daughter of Joscelin, ‘took the law’ of him. Ultimately he
was condemned to be taken into the four law courts in Westminster Hall,
with a paper pinned to his breast, bearing these words: ‘The foolish
and impudent pretender to the earldom of Northumberland.’

In the succeeding century, the well-known Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore,
believed himself to be the true male representative of the ancient line
of Percy. He built no claims on such belief; but the belief was not
only confirmed by genealogists, it was admitted by the second heiress
Elizabeth, who married Hugh Smithson. Dr. Percy so far asserted his
blood as to let it boil over in wrath against Pennant when the latter
described Alnwick Castle in these disparaging words: ‘At Alnwick
no remains of chivalry are perceptible; no respectable train of
attendants; the furniture and gardens are inconsistent; and nothing,
except the numbers of unindustrious poor at the castle gate, excited
any one idea of its former circumstances.’

‘Duke and Duchess of Charing Cross,’ or ‘their majesties of Middlesex,’
were the mock titles which Horace Walpole flung at the ducal couple of
his day who resided at Northumberland House, London, or at Sion House,
Brentford. Walpole accepted and satirised the hospitality of the London
house, and he almost hated the ducal host and hostess at Sion, because
they seemed to overshadow his mimic feudal state at Strawberry! After
all, neither early nor late circumstance connected with Northumberland
House is confined to memories of the inmates. Ben Jonson comes out upon
us from Hartshorn Lane with more majesty than any of the earls; and
greatness has sprung from neighbouring shops, and has flourished as
gloriously as any of which Percy can boast. Half a century ago, there
was a long low house, a single storey high, the ground floor of which
was a saddler’s shop. It was on the west side of the old Golden Cross,
and nearly opposite Northumberland House. The worthy saddler founded
a noble line. Of four sons, three were distinguished as Sir David,
Sir Frederick, and Sir George. Two of the workmen became Lord Mayors
of London; and an attorney’s clerk, who used to go in at night and
chat with the men, married the granddaughter of a king and became Lord


In the reign of James I. there was an open space of ground north of
what is now called Leicester Square (which by some old persons is
still called Leicester Fields), and which was to the London soldiers
and civilians of that day very much what Wormwood Scrubs is to the
military and their admirers of the present time. Prince Henry exercised
his artillery there, and it continued to be a general military
exercise-ground far into the reign of Charles I. People trooped
joyfully over the lammas land paths to witness the favourite spectacle.
The greatest delight was excited by charges of cavalry against lines
or masses of dummies, through which the gallant warriors and steeds
plunged and battled--thus teaching them not to stop short at an
impediment, but to dash right through it.

In 1631 there were unmistakable signs that this land was going to be
built over, and people were aghast at the pace at which London was
growing. Business-like men were measuring and staking; the report
was that the land had been given to Sydney, Earl of Leicester. Too
soon the builders got possession, and the holiday folk with military
proclivities no longer enjoyed their old ecstasy of accompanying the
soldiery to Paggington’s tune of

My masters and friends and good people, draw near.

Why Sydney was allowed to establish himself on the lammas land no one
can tell. All that we know is, that Lord Carlisle wrote from Nonsuch,
in August 1631, to Attorney-General Heath, informing him that it was
the king’s pleasure that Mr. Attorney should prepare a licence to the
Earl of Leicester to build upon a piece of ground called Swan Close, in
St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, a house convenient for his habitation.’

The popular idea of Earl of Leicester is Elizabeth’s Robert Dudley.
Well, that earl had a sister, Mary, who married Sir Henry Sydney, of
Penshurst. This couple had a son, whom they called Robert, and whom
King James created at successive periods Baron Sydney, Viscount Lisle,
and Earl of Leicester. And this Earl Robert had a son who, in 1626,
succeeded to the earldom, and to him King Charles, in 1631, gave Swan
Close and some other part of the lammas land, whereon he erected the
once famous Leicester House.

This last Robert was the father of the famous and rather shabby
patriot, Algernon Sydney, also of the handsome Henry. He is still more
famous as having for daughter Dorothy, the ‘Sacharissa’ with whom
Waller pretended to be in love, and he gave his family name to Sydney
Alley. When, some few years later, the Earl of Salisbury (Viscount
Cranbourn) built a house in the neighbourhood, he partly copied the
other earl’s example, and called the road which led to his mansion
Cranbourn Alley.

The lammas land thus given away was land which was open to the poor
after Lammastide. Peter Cunningham quotes two entries from the St.
Martin’s rate-books to this effect: ‘To received of the Honble. Earle
of Leicester for ye Lamas of the ground that adjoins the Military Wall,
3_l._’ The ‘military wall’ was the boundary of the Wormwood Scrubs of
that day. The Earl also had to pay ‘for the lamas of the ground whereon
his house and garden are, and the field that is before his house, near
to Swan Close.’ The field before his house is now Leicester Square,
‘but Swan Close,’ says Peter, ‘is quite unknown.’ Lord Carlisle’s
letter in the State Paper Office states that the house was to be built
‘_upon_ Swan Close.’

It was a palatial mansion, that old Leicester House. It half filled
the northern side of the present square, on the eastern half of that
side. Its noble gardens extended beyond the present Lisle Street. At
first that street reached only to the garden wall of Leicester House.
When the garden itself disappeared the street was lengthened. It was
a street full of ‘quality,’ and foreign ambassadors thought themselves
lodged in a way not to dishonour their masters if they could only
secure a mansion in Lisle Street.

Noble as the mansion was, Robert Sydney Earl of Leicester is the only
earl of his line who lived in it, and his absences were many and of
long continuance. He was a thrifty man, and long before he died, in
1677, he let the house to very responsible tenants. One of these was
Colbert. If the ordinary run of ambassadors were proud to be quartered
in Lisle Street, the proper place for the representative of ‘_L’Etat
c’est moi_,’ and for the leader of civilisation, was the palace in
Leicester Fields; and there France established herself, and there and
in the neighbourhood, in hotels, cafés, restaurants, _charcutiers_,
_commissionnaires_, refugees, and highly-coloured ladies, she has been
ever since.

Colbert probably the more highly approved of the house as it had been
dwelt in already by a queen. On February 7, 1662, the only queen that
ever lived in Drury Lane--the Queen of Bohemia (daughter of James
I.)--removed from Drury House and its pleasant gardens, now occupied by
houses and streets, at the side of the Olympic Theatre, to Leicester
House. Drury House was the residence of Lord Craven, to whom it was
popularly said that the widowed queen had been privately married. Her
occupancy of Leicester House was not a long one, for the queen died
there on the 12th of the same month.

Six years later, in 1668,the French ambassador, Colbert, occupied
Leicester House. Pepys relates how he left a joyous dinner early, on
October 21, to join Lord Brouncker, the president, and other members
of the Royal Society, in paying a formal return visit to Colbert; but
the party had started before Pepys arrived at the Society’s rooms. The
little man hastened after them; but they were ‘gone in’ and ‘up,’ and
Pepys was too late to be admitted. His wife, perhaps, was not sorry,
for he took her to Cow Lane; ‘and there,’ he says, ‘I showed her the
coach which I pitch on, and she is out of herself for joy almost.’

It is easy to guess why the Royal Society honoured themselves by
honouring Colbert. The great Frenchman was something more than a
mere Marquis de Segnelai. Who remembers M. le Marquis? Who does not
know Colbert--the pupil of Mazarin, the astute politician, the sharp
finance-minister, the patron--nay, the pilot--of the arts and sciences
in France? The builder of the French Royal Observatory, and the founder
of the Academies of Painting and Sculpture and of the Sciences in
France, was just the man to pay the first visit to the Royal Society.
Leicester House was nobly tenanted by Colbert, and nobly frequented by
the men of taste and of talent whom he gathered about him beneath its
splendid roof.

The house fell into other hands, and men who were extremely opposite to
philosophers were admitted within its walls _with_ philosophers, who
were expected to admire their handiwork. In October 1672, the grave
Evelyn called at Leicester House to take leave of Lady Sunderland, who
was about to set out for Paris, where Lord Sunderland was the English
ambassador. My lady made Evelyn stay to dinner, and afterwards sent
for Richardson, the famous fire-eater. A few years ago a company of
Orientals, black and white, exhibited certain feats, but they were too
repulsive (generally) to attract. What the members of this company did
was done two hundred years ago in Leicester Square by Richardson alone.
‘He devoured,’ says Evelyn, ‘brimstone on glowing coals before us,
chewing and swallowing them; he melted a large glass and eat it quite
up; then, taking a live coal on his tongue, he put on it a raw oyster,
the coal was blowed on with bellows till it flamed and sparkled in his
mouth, and so remained till the oyster gaped and was quite boiled. Then
he melted pitch and wax with sulphur, which he drank down as it flamed.
I saw it flaming in his mouth a good while. He also took up a thick
piece of iron, such as laundresses use to put in their smoothing-boxes,
when it was fiery hot, held it between his teeth, then in his hands,
and threw it about like a stone; but this I observed, that he cared
not to hold very long. Then he stood on a small pot, and bending his
body, took a glowing iron in his mouth from between his feet, without
touching the pot or ground with his hands; with divers other prodigious
feats.’ Such was the singular sort of entertainment provided by a lady
for a gentleman after dinner in the seventeenth century and beneath the
roof of Leicester House.

Meanwhile Little France increased and flourished in and about the
neighbourhood, and ‘foreigners of distinction’ were to be found airing
their nobility in Leicester Square and the Haymarket--almost country
places both.

Behind Leicester House, and on part of the ground which once formed
Prince Henry Stuart’s military parade ground, there was a riding
academy, kept by Major Foubert. In 1682, among the major’s resident
pupils and boarders, was a handsome dare-devil young fellow, who was
said to be destined for the Church, but who subsequently met his own
destiny in quite another direction. His name was Philip Christopher
Königsmark (Count, by title), and his furious yet graceful riding must
have scared the quieter folks pacing the high road of the fields. He
had with him, or rather _he_ was with an elder brother, Count Charles
John. This elder Count walked Leicester Fields in somewhat strange
company--a German Captain Vratz, Borosky, a Pole, and Lieutenant Stern,
a third foreigner. To what purpose they associated was seen after
that Sunday evening in February 1682, when three mounted men shot Mr.
Thomas Thynne (Tom of Ten Thousand) in his coach, at the bottom of the
Haymarket. Tom died of his wounds. Thynne had been shot because he had
just married the wealthy child-heiress, Lady Ogle. Count Charles John
thought _he_ might obtain the lady if her husband were disposed of.
The necessary disposal of him was made by the three men named above,
after which they repaired to the Counts lodgings and then scattered;
but they were much wanted by the police, and so was the Count; when it
was discovered that he had suddenly disappeared from the neighbourhood
of the ‘Fields,’ and had gone down the river. He was headed, and
taken at Gravesend. The subordinates were also captured. For some
time indeed Vratz could not be netted. One morning, however, an armed
force broke into a Swedish doctor’s house in Leicester Fields, and
soon after they brought out Vratz in custody, to the great delight
of the assembled mob. At the trial, the Count was acquitted. His
younger brother, Philip, swore to an _alibi_, which proved nothing,
and the King influenced the judges! The three hired murderers went to
the gallows, and thought little of it. Vratz excused the deed, on
the ground of murder not having been intended; ‘besides,’ said this
sample of the Leicester Fields foreigner of the seventeenth century,
‘I am a gentleman, and God will deal with me accordingly.’ The two
counts left England, and made their names notorious in Continental
annals. The French riding-master shut up his school behind Leicester
House, and removed to a spot where his name still lives: Foubert’s
Passage, in Regent Street, opposite Conduit Street, is the site of the
academy where that celebrated teacher once instructed young ladies and
gentlemen how to ‘witch the world with noble horsemanship.’

We have spoken of the square being almost in the country. It was not
the only one which was considered in the same light. In 1698 the author
of a book called ‘Mémoires et Observations faites par un Voyageur en
Angleterre,’ printed at the Hague in the above year, thus enumerates
the London squares or _places_: ‘Les places qui sont dans Londres, ou
pour mieux dire, dans les faubourgs, occupent des espaces qui, joints
ensemble, en fourniraient un suffisant pour bâtir une grande ville. Ces
places sont toutes environnées de balustrades, qui empêchant que les
carrosses n’y passant. Les principales sont celles de Lincoln’s Inn
Fields, de Moor Fields, de Southampton ou Blumsbury, de St. James, &c.,
Covent Garden; de Sohoe, ou Place Royale, du Lion rouge (Red Lyon), du
Quarré d’Or (Golden Square), et de Leicester Fields.’

All these are said to be in the _suburbs_. Soho Square was called by
fashionable people, King Square. It was only vulgar folk who used the
prevailing name of Soho.

From early in Queen Anne’s days till late in those of George I., the
representative of the Emperor of Germany resided in Leicester House.
It was said that Jacobites found admittance there, for plotting or
for refuge. It is certain that the imperial residence was never so
tumultuously and joyously surrounded as when Prince Eugene arrived in
Leicester Square, in the above Queen’s reign, on a mission from the
Emperor, to induce England to join with him in carrying on the war.
During his brief stay Leicester Fields was thronged with a cheering
mobility and a bowing nobility and gentry, hastening to ‘put a
distinguished respect’ on Marlborough’s great comrade, who was almost
too modest to support the popular honours put on himself. Bishop Burnet
and the Prince gossiping together at their frequent interviews at
Leicester House have quite a picturesque aspect.

The imperial chaplain there was often as busy as his master. Here is a
sample of one turn of his office:

One evening a man, in apparent hurry, knocked at the door of Leicester
House, the imperial ambassador’s residence. He was bent on being
married, and he accomplished that on which he was bent. This person was
the son of a cavalier squire; he was also a Templar, for a time; but he
hated law and Fleet Street, and he set up as near to being a courtier
as could be expressed by taking lodgings in Scotland Yard, which
was next door to the court then rioting at Whitehall. His name was
Fielding, and his business was to drink wine, make love, and live upon
pensions from female purses. Three kings honoured the rascal: Charles,
James, and William; and one queen did him a good turn. For a long
time Beau Fielding was the handsomest ass on the Mall. Ladies looked
admiringly and languishingly at him, and the cruel beau murmured, ‘Let
them look and die.’ Maidens spoke of him as ‘Adonis!’ and joyous widows
hailed him ‘Handsome as Hercules!’ It was a mystery how he lived; how
he maintained horses, chariot, and a brace of fellows in bright yellow
coats and black sarcenet sashes. They were the Austrian colours; for
Fielding thought he was cousin to the House of Hapsburg.

Supercilious as he was, he had an eye to the widows. His literature was
in Doctors’ Commons, where he studied the various instances of marital
affection manifested by the late husbands of living widows. One day
he rose from the perusal of a will with great apparent satisfaction.
He had just read how Mr. Deleau had left his relict a town house in
Copthall Court, a Surrey mansion at Waddon, and sixty thousand pounds
at her own disposal. The handsome Hercules resolved to add himself to
the other valuables of which widow Deleau could dispose.

Fielding knew nothing whatever of the widow he so ardently coveted;
but he, like love, could find out the way. There was a Mrs. Villars,
who had dressed the widow’s hair, and she undertook, for a valuable
consideration, to bring the pair gradually together. Fielding was
allowed to see the grounds at Waddon. As he passed along, he observed
a lady at a window. He put his hand on the left side of his waistcoat,
and bowed a superlative beau’s superlative bow; and he was at the high
top-gallant of his joy when he saw the graceful lady graciously smile
in return for his homage. This little drama was repeated; and at last
Mrs. Villars induced the lady to yield so very much all at once as to
call with her on Fielding at his lodgings. Three such visits were made,
and ardent love was made also on each occasion. On the third coming of
Hero to Leander, there was a delicious little banquet, stimulating to
generous impulses. The impulses so overcame the lady that she yielded
to the urgent appeals of Mrs. Villars and the wooer, and consented to a
private marriage in her lover’s chambers. The ecstatic Fielding leapt
up from her feet, where he had been kneeling, clapt on his jaunty hat
with a slap, buckled his bodkin sword to his side with a hilarious
snap, swore there was no time like the present, and that he would
himself fetch a priest and be back with him on the very swiftest of the
wings of love.

That was the occasion on which, at a rather late hour, Fielding was
to be seen knocking at the front door of Leicester House. When the
door was opened his first inquiry was after the imperial ambassador’s
chaplain. The beau had, in James II.’s days, turned Papist; and when
Popery had gone out as William came in, he had not thought it worth
while to turn back again, and was nominally a Papist still. When the
Roman Catholic chaplain in Leicester House became aware of what his
visitor required, he readily assented, and the worthy pair might be
seen hastily crossing the square to that bower of love where the bride
was waiting. The chaplain satisfied her scruples as to the genuineness
of his priestly character, and in a twinkling he buckled beau and belle
together in a manner which, as he said, defied all undoing.

‘Undoing?’ exclaimed the lover. ‘I marry my angel with all my heart,
soul, body, and everything else!’--and he put a ring on her finger
bearing the poesy _Tibi soli_--the sun of his life.

In a few days the bubble burst. The lady turned out to be no rich
widow, but a Mrs. Wadsworth, who was given to frolicking, and who
thought this the merriest frolic of her light-o’-love life. Fielding,
who had passed himself off as a count, had not much to say in his own
behalf, and he turned the ‘sun of his life’ out of doors. Whither he
could turn he knew right well. He had long served all the purposes
of the Duchess of Cleveland, the degraded old mistress of Charles
II.; and within three weeks of his being buckled to Mrs. Wadsworth by
the Leicester Square priest he married Duchess Barbara. Soon after
he thrashed Mrs. Wadsworth in the street for claiming him as her
lawful husband, and he beat the Duchess at home for asserting that
Mrs. Wadsworth was right. Old Barbara did more. She put two hundred
pounds into that lady’s hand, to prosecute Fielding for bigamy, and
the Duchess promised her a hundred pounds a year for fifteen years
if she succeeded in getting him convicted. And the handsome Hercules
was convicted accordingly, at the Old Bailey, and was sentenced to be
burnt in the hand; but the rascal produced Queen Anne’s warrant to stay
execution. And so ended the Leicester Square wedding.

As long as the Emperor’s envoy lived in Leicester Fields he was the
leader of fashion. Crowds assembled to see his ‘turn out.’ Sir Francis
Gripe, in the ‘Busy-body,’ tempts Miranda by saying, ‘Thou shalt be
the envy of the Ring, for I will carry thee to Hyde Park, and thy
equipage shall surpass the what-d’ye-call-’em ambassador’s.’

Leicester House was, luckily, to let when the Prince of Wales
quarrelled with his father, George I. In that house the Prince set up
a rival court, against attending which the ‘London Gazette’ thundered
dreadful prohibitions. But St. James’s was dull; Leicester House was
‘jolly’; and the fields were ‘all alive’ with spectators ‘hooraying’
the arrivals. Within, the stately Princess towered among her graceful
maids. With regard to her diminutive husband it was said of his

In his embroidered coat they found him,
With all his strutting dwarfs around him.

Most celebrated among the Leicester House maids of honour was the
young, bright, silvery-laughing, witty, well-bred girl, who could not
only spell, but could construe Cæsar--the maid of whom Chesterfield

Should the Pope himself go roaming,
He would follow dear Molly Lepell.

And there rattled that other Mary--Mary Bellenden, laughing at all her
lovers, the little, faithless Prince himself at the head of them. She
would mock him and them with wit of the most audacious sort, and tell
stories to the Princess, at which that august lady would laugh behind
her fan, while the wildest, and not the least beautiful of the maids
would throw back her handsome head, burst into uncontrollable laughter,
and then run across to shock prim Miss Meadows, ‘the prude,’ with the
same galliard story. Perhaps the most frolicksome nights at Leicester
House were when the Princess of Wales was in the card-room, where a
dozen tables were occupied by players, while the Prince, in another
room, gave topazes and amethysts to be raffled for by the maids of
honour, amid fun and laughter, and little astonishment when the prizes
were found to be more or less damaged.

It was a sight for a painter to see these, with other beauties,
leaving Leicester Fields of a morning to hunt with the Prince near
Hampton. Crowds waited to see them return in the evening; and, when
they were fairly housed again and dressed for the evening, lovers
flocked around the young huntresses. Then Mary Bellenden snubbed her
Prince and master, and walked, whispering, with handsome Jack Campbell;
and Molly Lepell blushed and laughed encouragingly at the pleasant
phrases poured into her ear by John, Lord Hervey. There Sophy Bellenden
telegraphed with her fan to Nanty Lowther; and of _their_ love-making
came mischief, sorrow, despair, and death. And there were dark-looking
Lord Lumley and his Orestes, Philip Dormer Stanhope; and dark Lumley
is not stirred to laugh--as the maids of honour do, silently--as
Stanhope follows the Princess to the card-room, imitating her walk
and even her voice. This was the ‘Chesterfield’ who thought himself a
‘gentleman.’ The Princess leans on Lady Cowper’s shoulder and affects
to admire what she really scorns--the rich dress of the beautiful Mary
Wortley Montague. On one of the gay nights in Leicester House, when
the Princess appeared in a dress of Irish silk--a present from ‘the
Irish parson, Swift’--the Prince spoke in such terms of the giver as to
induce Lord Peterborough to remark, ‘Swift has now only to chalk his
pumps and learn to dance on the tightrope, to be yet a bishop.’

The above are a few samples of life in the royal household in Leicester
Square. There, were born, in 1721, the Duke of Cumberland, who was
so unjustly called ‘Butcher’; in 1723, Mary, who married the ‘brute’
Prince of Hesse-Cassel; and in 1724, Louisa, who died--one of the
unhappy English Queens of Denmark.

After the father of these children had become George II., his eldest
son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, established enmity with his sire, and
an opposition court at Leicester House, at Carlton House (which he
occupied at the same time), and at Kew.

Frederick, Prince of Wales, has been the object of heavy censure, and
some of it, no doubt, was well-deserved. But he had good impulses
and good tastes. He loved music, and was no mean instrumentalist. He
manifested his respect for Shakespeare by proposing that the managers
of the two theatres should produce all the great poet’s plays in
chronological order, each play to run for a week. The Prince had some
feeling for art, and was willing to have his judgment regulated by
those competent to subject it to rule.

In June 1749, some tapestry that had belonged to Charles I. was offered
to the Prince for sale. He was then at Carlton House, and he forthwith
sent for Vertue. The engraver obeyed the summons, and on being ushered
into the presence he found a group that might serve for a picture of
_genre_ at any time. The Prince and Princess were at table waiting
for dessert. Their two eldest sons, George and Edward, then handsome
children, stood in waiting, or feigned the service, each with a napkin
on his arm. After they had stood awhile in silence, the Prince said to
them, ‘This is Mr. Vertue. I have many curious works of his, which you
shall see after dinner.’ Carlton House was a store of art treasures.
The Prince, with Luke Schaub in attendance and Vertue accompanying,
went through them all. He spoke much and listened readily, and parted
only to have another art-conference in the following month.

The illustrious couple were then seated in a pavilion, in Carlton House
garden. The Prince showed both knowledge and curiosity with respect to
art; and the party adjourned to Leicester House (Leicester Square),
where Mr. Vertue was shown all the masterpieces, with great affability
on the part of Frederick and his consort. The royal couple soon after
exhibited themselves to the admiring people, through whom they were
carried in two chairs over Leicester Fields back to Carlton House.
Thence the party repaired to Kew, and the engraver, after examining the
pictures, dined at the palace, ‘though,’ he says, ‘being entertained
there at dinner was not customary to any person that came from London.’

During the tenancy of Frederick, Prince of Wales, Leicester House
was the scene of political intrigues and of ordinary private life
occurrences: Carlton House was more for state and entertainment.
Leicester House and Savile House, which had been added to the former,
had their joyous scenes also. The story of the private theatricals
carried on in either mansion has been often told. The actors were, for
the most part, the Prince’s children. He who was afterwards George III.
was among the best of the players, but he had a good master. After his
first public address as king, Quin, proud of his pupil, exclaimed,
‘I taught the boy to speak.’ Some contemporary letter-writers could
scarcely find lofty phrases enough wherewith to praise these little
amateurs. Bubb Doddington, who served the Prince of Wales and lost
his money at play to him (‘I’ve nicked Bubb!’ was the cry of the
royal gambler, when he rose from the Leicester House card-tables with
Bubb’s money in his pocket), Bubb, I say, was not so impressed by the
acting of these boys and girls. He rather endured than enjoyed it.
On January 11, 1750, all that he records in his diary is, ‘Went to
Leicester House to see “Jane Grey” acted by the Prince’s children.’
In the following May, Prince Frederick William was born in Leicester
House, ‘the midwife on the bed with the Princess, and Dr. Wilmot
standing by,’ and a group of ladies at a short distance. The time was
half an hour after midnight. ‘Then the Prince, the ladies, and some of
us,’ says Doddington, ‘sat down to breakfast in the next room--then
went to prayers, downstairs.’ In June the christening took place, in
Leicester House, the Bishop of Oxford officiating. ‘Nobody of either
sex was admitted into the room but the actual servants’ (that is, the
ladies and gentlemen of the household) ‘except Chief Justice Willes
and Sir Luke Schaub.’ Very curious were some of the holiday rejoicings
on this occasion. For example, here is a ‘setting out’ from Leicester
House to make a day of it, on June 28: ‘Lady Middlesex’ (the Prince’s
favourite), ‘Lord Bathurst, Mr. Breton, and I’ (writes Bubb) ‘waited
on their Royal Highnesses to Spitalfields, to see the manufactory of
silk, and to Mr. Carr’s shop, in the morning. In the afternoon the same
company, with Lady Torrington in waiting, went in private coaches to
Norwood Forest, to see a settlement of Gipsies. We returned and went
to Bettesworth, the conjurer, in hackney coaches.... Not finding him
we went in search of the little Dutchman, but were disappointed; and
concluded the particularities of this day by supping with Mrs. Cannon,
the Princess’s midwife.’ Such was the condescension of royalty and
royalty’s servants in the last century!

In March, of the following year, Bubb Doddington went to Leicester
House. The Prince told him he ‘had catched cold’ and ‘had been
blooded.’ It was the beginning of the end. Alternately a little better
and much worse, and then greatly improved, &c., till the night of the
20th. ‘For half an hour before he was very cheerful, asked to see some
of his friends, ate some bread-and-butter and drank coffee.’ He was
‘suffocated’ in a fit of coughing; ‘the breaking of an abscess in his
side destroyed him. His physicians, Wilmot and Lee, knew nothing of his
distemper.... Their ignorance, or their knowledge, of his disorder,
renders them equally inexcusable for not calling in other assistance.’
How meanly this prince was buried, how shabbily everyone, officially
in attendance, was treated, are well known. The only rag of state
ceremony allowed this poor Royal Highness was, that his body went in
one conveyance and his bowels in another--which was a compliment, no
doubt, but hardly one to be thankful for.

The widowed Princess remained in occupation of the mansion in which her
husband had died. One of the pleasantest domestic pictures of Leicester
House is given by Bubb Doddington, under date November 17, 1753:--

The Princess sent for me to attend her between eight and nine
o’clock. I went to Leicester House, expecting a small company and
a little musick, but found nobody but her Royal Highness. She made
me draw a stool and sit by the fireside. Soon after came in the
Prince of Wales and Prince Edward, and then the Lady Augusta, all
in an undress, and took their stools and sat round the fire with
us. We continued talking of familiar occurrences till between ten
and eleven, with the ease and unreservedness and unconstraint,
as if one had dropped into a sister’s house that had a family,
to pass the evening. It is much to be wished that the Princes
conversed familiarly with more people of a certain knowledge of
the world.

The Princess, however, did not want for worldly knowledge. About this
time the Princess Dowager of Wales was sitting pensive and melancholy,
in a room in Leicester House, while the two Princes were playing about
her. Edward then said aloud to George, ‘Brother, when we are men, you
shall marry, and I will keep a mistress.’ ‘Be quiet, Eddy,’ said his
elder brother, ‘we shall have anger presently for your nonsense. There
must be no mistresses at all.’ Their mother thereon bade them, somewhat
sharply, learn their nouns and pronouns. ‘Can you tell me,’ she asked
Prince Edward, ‘what a pronoun is?’ ‘Of course I can,’ replied the
ingenuous youth; ‘a pronoun is to a noun what a mistress is to a
wife--a substitute and a representative.’

The Princess of Wales continued to maintain a sober and dignified
court at Leicester House, and at Carlton House also. She was by no
means forgotten. Young and old rendered her full respect. One of the
most singular processions crossed the Fields in January 1756. Its
object was to pay the homage of a first visit to the court of the
Dowager Princess of Wales at Leicester House--the visitors being a
newly-married young couple, the Hon. Mr. Spencer and the ex-Miss Poyntz
(later Earl and Countess of Spencer). The whole party were contained in
two carriages and a ‘sedan chair.’ Inside the first were Earl Cowper
and the bridegroom. Hanging on from behind were three footmen in state
liveries. In the second carriage were the mother and sister of the
bride, with similar human adornments on the outside as with the first
carriage. Last, and alone, of course, as became her state, in a new
sedan, came the bride, in white and silver, as fine as brocade and
trimming could make it. The chair itself was lined with white satin,
was preceded by a black page, and was followed by three gorgeous
lackeys. Nothing ever was more brilliant than the hundred thousand
pounds’ worth of diamonds worn by the bride except her own tears in
her beautiful eyes when she first saw them and the begging letter of
the lover which accompanied them. As he handed her from the chair,
the bridegroom seemed scarcely less be-diamonded than the bride. His
shoe-buckles alone had those precious stones in them to the value of
thirty thousand pounds. They were decidedly a brilliant pair. Public
homage never failed to be paid to the Princess. In June 1763, Mrs.
Harris writes to her son (afterwards first Lord Malmesbury) at Oxford:
I was yesterday at Leicester House, where there were more people than
I thought had been in town.’ In 1766 Leicester House was occupied by
William Henry, Duke of Cumberland, the last royal resident of that
historical mansion, which was ultimately demolished in the year 1806.

But there were as remarkable inhabitants of other houses as of
Leicester House. In 1733 there came into the square a man about whom
the world more concerns itself than it does about William Henry, and
that man is William Hogarth.

There is no one whom we more readily or more completely identify with
Leicester Square than Hogarth. He was born in the Old Bailey in 1697,
close to old Leicester House, which, in Pennant’s days, was turned
into a coach factory. His father was a schoolmaster, who is, perhaps,
to be recognised in the following curious advertisement of the reign
of Queen Anne; ‘At Hogarth’s Coffee House, in St. John’s Gate, the
midway between Smithfield Bars and Clerkenwell, there will meet daily
some learned gentlemen who speak Latin readily, where any gentleman
that is either skilled in the language, or desirous to perfect himself
in speaking thereof, will be welcome. The Master of the House, in the
absence of others, being always ready to entertain gentlemen in that
language.’ It was in the above Queen’s reign that Hogarth went, bundle
in hand, hope in his heart, and a good deal of sense and nonsense
in his head, to Cranbourne Alley, Leicester Fields, where he was
’prentice bound to Ellis Gamble, the silver-plate engraver. There,
among other and nobler works, Hogarth engraved the metal die for the
first newspaper stamp (‘one halfpenny’) ever known in England. It was
in Little Cranbourne Alley that Hogarth first set up for himself for
a brief time, and left his sisters (it is supposed) to succeed him
there as keepers of a ‘frock shop.’ Hogarth studied in the street, as
Garrick did, and there was no lack of masks and faces in the little
France and royal England of the Leicester Fields vicinity. Much as
Sir James Thornhill disliked his daughter’s marriage with Hogarth, he
helped the young couple to set up house on the east side of Leicester
Fields. Thornhill did not, at first, account his son-in-law a painter.
‘They say he can’t paint,’ said Mrs. Hogarth once. ‘It’s a lie. Look
at that!’ as she pointed to one of his great works. Another day, as
Garrick was leaving the house in the Fields, Ben Ives, Hogarth’s
servant, asked him to step into the parlour. Ben showed David a head
of Diana, done in chalks. The player and Hogarth’s man knew the model.
‘There, Mr. Garrick!’ exclaimed Ives, ‘there’s a head! and yet they
say my master can’t paint a portrait.’ Garrick thought Hogarth had not
succeeded in painting the player’s, whereupon the limner dashed a brush
across the face and turned it against the wall. It never left Leicester
Square till widow Hogarth gave it to widow Garrick.

It was towards the close of Hogarth’s career that James Barry, from
Cork--destined to make his mark in art--caught sight of a bustling,
active, stout little man, dressed in a sky-blue coat, in Cranbourne
Alley, and recognising in him the Hogarth whom he almost worshipped,
followed him down the east side of the square towards Hogarth’s house.
The latter, however, the owner did not enter, for a fight between two
boys was going on at the corner of Castle Street, and Hogarth, who,
like the statesman Windham, loved to see such encounters, whether the
combatants were boys or men, had joined in the fray. When Barry came up
Hogarth was acting ‘second’ to one of the young pugilists, patting him
on the back, and giving such questionable aid in heightening the fray
as he could furnish in such a phrase as, ‘Damn him if I would take it
of him! At him again!’ There is another version, which says that it was
Nollekens who pointed out to Northcote the little man in the sky-blue
coat, with the remark, ‘Look! that’s Hogarth?’

Hogarth seems to have been one of the first to set his face against
the fashion of giving vails to servants by forbidding his own to take
them from guests. In those days, not only guests but those who came
to a house to spend money, were expected to help to pay the wages of
the servants for the performance of a duty which they owed to their
master. It was otherwise with Hogarth in Leicester Square. ‘When I sat
to Hogarth’ (Cole’s MSS. collections, quoted in Cunningham’s ‘London’)
‘the custom of giving vails to servants was not discontinued. On
taking leave of the painter at the door I offered the servant a small
gratuity, but the man very politely refused it, telling me it would
be as much as the loss of his place if his master knew it. This was so
uncommon, and so liberal in a man of Hogarth’s profession at that time
of day, that it much struck me, as nothing of the kind had happened to
me before.’

Leicester Square will ever be connected with Hogarth at the _Golden
Head_. It was not, at his going there, in a flourishing condition,
but it improved. In the year 1735, in Seymour’s ‘Survey,’ Leicester
Fields are described as ‘a very handsome open square, railed about
and gravelled within. The buildings are very good and well inhabited,
and frequented by the gentry. The north and west rows of buildings,
which are in St. Anne’s parish, are the best (and may be said to be so
still), especially the north, where is Leicester House, the seat of the
Earl of Leicester; being a large building with a fair court before it
for the reception of coaches, and a fine garden behind it; the south
and east sides being in the parish of St. Martin’s.’

Next to this house is another large house, built by Portman Seymour,
Esq., which ‘being laid into Leicester House, was inhabited by their
present Majesties’ (George II. and Queen Caroline) ‘when Prince and
Princess of Wales.’ It was then that it was called ‘the pouting place
of princes.’ Lisle Street is then described as coming out of Prince’s
Street, and runs up to Leicester Garden wall. Both Lisle and Leicester
Streets are ‘large and well-built, and inhabited by gentry.’

In 1737 the ‘Country Journal, or Craftsman,’ for April 16, contained
the following acceptable announcement: ‘Leicester Fields is going to be
fitted up in a very elegant manner, a new wall and rails to be erected
all round, and a basin in the middle, after the manner of Lincoln’s Inn
Fields, and to be done by a voluntary subscription of the inhabitants.’

It was to Hogarth’s house Walpole went, in 1761, to see Hogarth’s
picture of Fox. Hogarth said he had promised Fox, if he would only sit
as the painter liked, ‘to make as good a picture as Vandyck or Rubens
could.’ Walpole was silent. ‘Why, now,’ said the painter, ‘you think
this very vain. Why should not a man tell the truth?’ Walpole thought
him mad, but Hogarth was sincere. When, after ridiculing the opinions
of Freke, the anatomist, some one said, ‘But Freke holds you for as
good a portrait-painter as Vandyck,’ ‘There he’s right!’ cried Hogarth.
‘And so, by G----, I am--give me my time, and let me choose my subject.’

If one great object of art be to afford pleasure, Hogarth has attained
it, for he has pleased successive generations. If one great end of art
be to afford instruction, Hogarth has shown himself well qualified,
for he has reached that end; he taught his contemporaries, and he
continues teaching, and will continue to teach, through his works. But
is the instruction worth having? Is the pleasure legitimate, wholesome,
healthy pleasure? Without disparagement to a genius for all that was
great in him and his productions, the reply to these questions may
sometimes be in the negative. The impulses of the painter were not
invariably of noble origin. It is said that the first undoubted sign
he gave of having a master-hand arose from his poor landlady asking
him for a miserable sum which he owed her for rent. In his wrath he
drew her portrait _in caricatura_. Men saw that it was clever, but

There is no foundation for the story which asserts of George II.
that he professed no love for poetry or painting. This king has been
pilloried and pelted, so to speak, with the public contempt for having
an independent, and not unjustifiable, opinion of the celebrated
picture, the ‘March to Finchley.’ Hogarth had the impertinence to ask
permission that he might dedicate the work to the King, and the latter
observed, with some reason, that the fellow deserved to be picketed
for his insolence. When this picture was presented as worthy of royal
patronage, rebellion was afoot and active in the north (1745). The
Guards were sent thither, and Hogarth’s work describes them setting
out on their first stage to Finchley. The whole description or
representation is a gross caricature of the brave men (though they
may have sworn as terribly then as they did in Flanders) whose task
was to save the kingdom from a great impending calamity. All that is
noble is kept out of sight, all that is degrading to the subject,
with some slight exceptions, is forced on the view and memory of the
spectator. It has been urged by way of apology for this clever but
censurable work, that it was not painted at the moment of great popular
excitement, but subsequently. This is nothing to the purpose. What
is to the purpose is, that Hogarth represented British soldiers as a
drunken, skulking, thieving, cowardly horde of ruffians, who must be,
to employ an oft-used phrase, more terrible to their friends than their
enemies. The painter may have been as good a Whig as the King himself,
but he manifested bad taste in asking George II. to show favour to such
a subject; and he exhibited worse taste still in dedicating it to the
king of Prussia, as a patron of the arts. Hogarth was not disloyal,
perhaps, as Wilkes charged him with being, for issuing the print of
this picture, but it is a work that, however far removed from the
political element now, could not have afforded much gratification to
the loyal when it was first exhibited.

Hogarth died in Leicester Square in 1764, and was buried at Chiswick.
There was an artist on the opposite side of the square who saw the
funeral from his window, and who had higher views of art than Hogarth.

Towards the close of Hogarth’s career Joshua Reynolds took possession
of a house on the west side of Leicester Square. In the year in which
George III. ascended the throne (1760) Reynolds set up his famous chair
of state for his patrons in this historical square.

It has been said that Reynolds, in the days of his progressive triumphs
in Leicester Square, thought continually of the glory of his being one
day placed by the side of Vandyck and Rubens, and that he entertained
no envious idea of being better than Hogarth, Gainsborough, and his old
master, Hudson. Reynolds, nevertheless, served all three in much the
same way that Dryden served Shakespeare; namely, he disparaged quite as
extensively as he praised them. Hogarth, on the east side of Leicester
Square, felt no local accession of honour when Reynolds set up his
easel on the western side. The new comer was social; the old settler
‘kept himself to himself,’ as the wise saw has it. ‘Study the works of
the great masters for ever,’ was, we are told, the utterance of Sir
Oracle on the west side. From the east came Hogarth’s utterance, in the
assertion, ‘There is only one school, and Nature is the mistress of
it.’ For Reynolds’s judgment Hogarth had a certain contempt. ‘The most
ignorant people about painting,’ he said to Walpole, ‘are the painters
themselves. There’s Reynolds, who certainly has genius; why, but
t’other day, he offered a hundred pounds for a picture that I would not
hang in my cellar.’ Hogarth undoubtedly qualified his sense with some
nonsense: ‘Talk of sense, and study, and all that; why, it is owing to
the good sense of the English that they have not painted better.’

It was at one of Reynolds’s suppers in the square that an incident took
place which aroused the wit-power of Johnson. The rather plain sister
of the artist had been called upon by the company, after supper, as
the custom was, to give a toast. She hesitated, and was accordingly
required, again according to custom, to give the ugliest man she knew.
In a moment the name of Oliver Goldsmith dropped from her lips, and
immediately a sympathising lady on the opposite side of the table rose
and shook hands with Miss Reynolds across the table. Johnson had heard
the expression, and had also marked the pantomimic performance of
sympathy, and he capped both by a remark which set the table in a roar,
and which was to an effect which cut smartly in three ways. ‘Thus,’
said he, ‘the ancients, on the commencements of their friendships,
used to sacrifice a beast betwixt them.’ The affair ends prettily. A
few days after the ‘Traveller’ was published Johnson read it aloud
from beginning to end to delighted hearers, of whom Miss Reynolds was
one. As Johnson closed the book she emphatically remarked, ‘Well, I
never more shall think Dr. Goldsmith ugly.’ Miss Reynolds, however,
did not get over her idea. Her brother painted the portrait of the
new poet, in the Octagon Room in the Square; the mezzotinto engraving
of it was speedily all over the town. Miss Reynolds (who, it has been
said, used herself to paint portraits with such exact imitation of her
brother’s defects and avoidance of his beauties, that everybody but
himself laughed at them) thought it marvellous that so much dignity
could have been given to the poet’s face and yet so strong a likeness
be conveyed; for ‘Dr. Goldsmith’s cast of countenance,’ she proceeds to
inform us, ‘and indeed his whole figure from head to foot, impressed
every one at first sight with the idea of his being a low mechanic;
particularly, I believe, a journeyman tailor.’ This belief was
founded on what Goldsmith had himself once said. Coming ruffled into
Reynolds’s drawing-room, Goldsmith angrily referred to an insult which
his sensitive nature fancied had been put upon him at a neighbouring
coffee-house, by ‘a fellow who,’ said Goldsmith, ‘took me, I believe,
for a tailor.’ The company laughed more or less demonstratively, and
rather confirmed than dispelled the supposition.

Poor Goldsmith’s weaknesses were a good deal played upon by that not
too polite company. One afternoon, Burke and a young Irish officer,
O’Moore, were crossing the square to Reynolds’s house to dinner. They
passed a group who were gaping at, and making admiring remarks upon,
some samples of beautiful foreign husseydom, who were looking out of
the windows of one of the hotels. Goldsmith was at the skirt of the
group, looking on. Burke said to O’Moore, as they passed him unseen,
‘Look at Goldsmith; by-and-by, at Reynolds’s you will see what I make
of this.’ At the dinner, Burke treated Goldsmith with such coolness,
that Oliver at last asked for an explanation. Burke readily replied
that his manner was owing to the monstrous indiscretion on Goldsmith’s
part, in the square, of which Burke and Mr. O’Moore had been the
witnesses. Poor Goldsmith asked in what way he had been so indiscreet?

‘Why,’ answered Burke, ‘did you not exclaim, on looking up at those
women, what stupid beasts the crowd must be for staring with such
admiration at those _painted Jezebels_, while a man of your talent
passed by unnoticed?’--‘Surely, my dear friend,’ cried Goldsmith,
horror-struck, ‘I did not say so!’--‘If you had not said so,’ retorted
Burke, ‘how should I have known it?’--‘That’s true,’ answered
Goldsmith, with great humility; ‘I am very sorry; it was very foolish!
I do recollect that something of the kind passed through my mind, but
I did not think I had uttered it.’

It is a pity that Sir Joshua never records the names of his own guests;
but his parties were so much swelled by invitations given on the spur
of the moment, that it would have been impossible for him to set down
beforehand more than the nucleus of his scrambling and unceremonious,
but most enjoyable, dinners. Whether the famous Leicester Square
dinners deserved to be called enjoyable, is a question which anyone
may decide for himself, after reading the accounts given of them at
a period when the supervision of Reynolds’s sister, Frances, could
no longer be given to them. The table, made to hold seven or eight,
was often made to hold twice the number. When the guests were at last
packed, the deficiency of knives, forks, plates, and glasses made
itself felt. Everyone called, as he wanted, for bread, wine, or beer,
and lustily, or there was little chance of being served.

There had once, Courtenay says, been sets of decanters and glasses
provided to furnish the table and enable the guests to help themselves.
These had gone the way of all glass, and had not been replaced; but
though the dinner might be careless and inelegant, and the servants
awkward and too few, Courtenay admits that their shortcomings only
enhanced the singular pleasure of the entertainment. The wine, cookery,
and dishes were but little attended to; nor was the fish or venison
ever talked of or recommended. Amidst the convivial, animated bustle
of his guests, Sir Joshua sat perfectly composed; protected partly by
his deafness, partly by his equanimity; always attentive, by help of
his trumpet, to what was said, never minding what was eaten or drunk,
but leaving everyone to scramble for himself. Peers, temporal and
spiritual, statesmen, physicians, lawyers, actors, men of letters,
painters, musicians, made up the motley group, ‘and played their
parts,’ says Courtenay, ‘without dissonance or discord.’ Dinner was
served precisely at five, whether all the company had arrived or
not. Sir Joshua never kept many guests waiting for one, whatever
his rank or consequence. ‘His friends and intimate acquaintance,’
concludes Courtenay, ‘will ever love his memory, and will ever regret
those social hours and the cheerfulness of that irregular, convivial
table, which no one has attempted to revive or imitate, or was indeed
qualified to supply.’

Reynolds had a room in which his copyists, his pupils, and his
drapery-men worked. Among them was one of the cleverest and most
unfortunate of artists. Seldom is the name of Peter Toms now heard, but
he once sat in Hudson’s studio with young Reynolds, and in the studio
of Sir Joshua, as the better artist’s obedient humble servant; that
is to say, he painted his employer’s draperies, and probably a good
deal more, for Toms was a very fair portrait-painter. Peter worked
too for various other great artists, and a purchaser of any picture
of that time cannot be certain whether much of it is not from Toms’s
imitative hand. Peter’s lack of original power did not keep him out of
the Royal Academy, though in his day he was but a second-class artist.
He belonged, too, to the Herald’s Office, as the painters of the Tudor
period often did, and after filling in the canvasses of his masters in
England, he went to Ireland on his own account and in reliance on the
patronage of the Lord-Lieutenant, the Duke of Northumberland. Toms,
however, found that the Irish refused to submit their physiognomies to
his limning, and he waited for them to change their opinion of him in
vain. Finally, he lost heart and hope. His vocation was gone; but in
the London garret within which he took refuge he seems to have given
himself a chance for life or death. Pencil in one hand and razor in
the other, he made an effort to paint a picture, and apparently failed
in accomplishing it, for he swept the razor across his throat, and was
found the next morning stark dead by the side of the work which seems
to have smitten him with despair.

Reynolds saw the ceremony of proclaiming George III. king in front of
Savile House, where the monarch had resided while he was Prince of
Wales. Into his own house came and went, for years, all the lofty
virtues, vices, and rich nothingnesses of Reynolds’s time, to be
painted. From his window he looked with pride on his gaudy carriage
(the Seasons, limned on the panels, were by his own drapery man,
Catton), in which he used to send his sister out for a daily drive.
From the same window he saw Savile House gutted by the ‘No Popery’
rioters of 1780; fire has since swept all that was left of Page’s
house on the north side of the Square; and in 1787 Reynolds looked
on a newcomer to the Fields, Lawrence, afterwards Sir Thomas, who
set up his easel against Sir Joshua’s, but who was not then strong
enough to make such pretence. Some of the most characteristic groups
of those days were to be seen clustered round the itinerant quack
doctors--fellows who lied with a power that Orton, Luie, and even the
‘coachers’ of Luie, might envy. Leicester Square, in Reynolds’s days
alone, would furnish matter for two or three volumes. We have only
space to say further of Sir Joshua, that he died here in 1792, lay in
state in Somerset House, and that as the funeral procession was on its
way to St. Paul’s (with its first part in the Cathedral before the last
part was clear of Somerset House) one of the occupants in one of the
many mourning coaches said to a companion, ‘There is now, sir, a fine
opening for a portrait-painter.’

While Reynolds was ‘glorifying’ the Fields, that is to say, about
the year 1783, John Hunter, the great anatomist, enthroned science in
Leicester Square. His house, nearly opposite Reynolds’s, was next door
to that once occupied by Hogarth, on the east side, but north of the
painter’s dwelling. Hunter was then fifty-five years old. Like his
eminent brother, William, John Hunter had a very respectable amount of
self-appreciation, quite justifiably.

The governing body of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital had failed, through
ignorance or favouritism, to recognise his ability and to reward his
assiduity. But John Hunter was of too noble a spirit to be daunted or
even depressed; and St. George’s Hospital honoured itself by bestowing
on him the modest office of house-surgeon. It was thirty years after
this that John Hunter settled himself in Leicester Square. There he
spent three thousand pounds in the erection of a building in the
rear of his house for the reception of a collection in comparative
anatomy. Before this was completed he spent upon it many thousands
of pounds,--it is said ninety thousand guineas! With him to work was
to live. Dr. Garthshore entered the museum in the Square early one
morning, and found Hunter already busily occupied. ‘Why, John,’ said
the physician, ‘you are always at work!’ ‘I am,’ replied the surgeon;
‘and when I am dead you will not meet very soon with another John
Hunter!’ He accused his great brother William of claiming the merit of
surgical discoveries which John had made; and when a friend, talking
to him, at his door in the Square, on his ‘Treatise on the Teeth,’
remarked that it would be answered by medical men simply to make their
names known, Hunter rather unhandsomely observed: ‘Aye, we have all
of us vermin that live upon us.’ Lavater took correct measure of the
famous surgeon when he remarked, on seeing the portrait of Hunter:
‘That is the portrait of a man who thinks for himself!’

After John Hunter’s death his collection was purchased by Government
for fifteen thousand pounds. It was removed from Leicester Square
to Lincoln’s Inn Fields, to the College of Surgeons, where it still
forms a chief portion of the anatomical and pathological museum in
that institution. The site of the Hunterian Museum in Leicester Square
has been swallowed up by the Alhambra, where less profitable study of
comparative anatomy may now be made by all who are interested in such
pursuit. A similar destiny followed the other Hunterian Museum--that
established by William Hunter, in Great Windmill Street, at the top
of the Haymarket, where he built an amphitheatre and museum, with
a spacious dwelling-house attached. In the dwelling-house Joanna
Baillie passed some of her holiday and early days in London. She came
from her native Scottish heath, and the only open moor like unto it
where she could snatch a semblance of fresh air was the neighbouring
inclosure of Leicester Square! William Hunter left his gigantic and
valuable collection to his nephew, Dr. Baillie, for thirty years, to
pass then to the University of Glasgow, where William himself had
studied divinity, before the results of freedom of thought (both the
Hunters _would_ think for themselves) induced him to turn to the study
of medicine. The Hunterian Museum in Windmill Street, after serving
various purposes, became known as the Argyll Rooms, where human anatomy
(it is believed) was liberally exhibited under magisterial license and
the supervision of a severely moral police.

Leicester Square has been remarkable for its exhibitions. Richardson,
the fire-eater, exhibited privately at Leicester House in 1672. A
century later there was a public exhibition on that spot of quite
another quality. The proprietor was Sir Ashton Lever, a Lancashire
gentleman, educated at Oxford. As a country squire he formed and
possessed the most extensive and beautiful aviary in the kingdom.
Therewith, Sir Ashton collected animals and curiosities from
all quarters of the world. This was the nucleus of the ‘museum’
subsequently brought to Leicester Fields. Among the curiosities was a
striking likeness of George III. ‘cut in cannel coal;’ also Indian-ink
drawings and portraits; baskets of flowers cut in paper, and wonderful
for their accuracy; costumes of all ages and nations, and a collection
of warlike weapons which disgusted a timid beholder, who describes them
in the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ (May 1773) as ‘desperate, diabolical
instruments of destruction, invented, no doubt, by the devil himself.’
Soon after this, this wonderful collection was exhibited in Leicester
House. There was a burst of wonder, as Pennant calls it, for a little
while after the opening; but the ill-cultivated world soon grew
indifferent to being instructed; and Sir Ashton got permission, with
some difficulty, from Parliament, to dispose of the whole collection by
lottery. Sir William Hamilton, Baron Dimsdale, and Mr. Pennant stated
to the Committee of the House of Commons that they had never seen a
collection of such inestimable value. ‘Sir Ashton Lever’s lottery
tickets,’ says an advertisement of January 28, 1785, ‘are now on sale
at Leicester House every day (Sundays excepted), from Nine in the
morning till Six in the evening, at One Guinea each; and as each ticket
will admit four persons, either together or separately, to view the
Museum, no one will hereafter be admitted but by the Lottery Tickets,
excepting those who have already annual admission.’ It is added that
the whole was to be disposed of owing ‘to the very large sum expended
in making it, and not from the deficiency of the daily receipts (as is
generally imagined), which have annually increased; the average amount
for the last three years being 1833_l._ per annum.’ It sounds odd that
a ‘concern’ is got rid of because it was yearly growing more profitable!

Thirty-six thousand guinea-tickets were offered for sale. Only eight
thousand were sold. Of these Mr. Parkinson purchased two, and with
one of those two acquired the whole collection, against the other
purchasers and the twenty-two thousand chances held by Sir Ashton.
Mr. Parkinson built an edifice for his valuable prize in Blackfriars
Road, and for years, one of the things to be done was ‘to go to the
Rotunda.’ In 1806, the famous museum was dispersed by auction. The
Surrey Institution next occupied the premises, which subsequently
became public drinking-rooms and meeting place for tippling patriots,
who would fain destroy the Constitution of England as well as their own.

But ‘man or woman, good my lord,’ let whosoever may be named in
connection with Leicester Square, there is one who must not be omitted,
namely, Miss Linwood. Penelope worked at her needle to no valuable
purpose. Miss Linwood was more like Arachne in her work, and something
better in her fortune. The dyer’s daughter of Colophon chose for her
subjects the various loves of Jupiter with various ladies whom poets
and painters have immortalised; and grew so proud of her work that,
for challenging Minerva to do better, the goddess changed her into a
spider. The Birmingham lady plied her needle from the time she could
hold one till the time her ancient hand lost its cunning. At thirteen
she worked pictures in worsted better than some artists could paint
them. No needlework, ancient or modern, ever equalled (if experts
may be trusted) the work of this lady, who found time to do as much
as if she had not to fulfil, as she did faithfully, the duties of a
boarding-school mistress. King, Queen, Court, and ‘Quality’ generally
visited Savile House, Leicester Fields, where Miss Linwood’s works were
exhibited, and were profitable to the exhibitor to the very last. They
were, for the most part, copies of great pictures by great masters,
modern as well as ancient. Among them was a Carlo Dolci, valued at
three thousand guineas. Miss Linwood, in her later days, retired
to Leicester, but she used to come up annually to look at her own
Exhibition. It had been open about half a century when the lady, in her
ninetieth year, caught cold on her journey, and died of it at Leicester
in 1844. She left her Carlo Dolci to Queen Victoria. Her other works,
sold by auction, barely realised a thousand pounds; but the art of
selling art by auction was not then discovered.

In 1788, a middle-aged Irishman from county Meath, named Robert
Barker, got admission to Reynolds, to show him a half-circle view
from the Calton Hill, near Edinburgh, which Barker had painted in
water-colours on the spot. The poor but accomplished artist had been
unsuccessful as a portrait-painter in Dublin and Edinburgh. But he
had studied perspective closely, an idea had struck him, and he came
with it to Reynolds. The latter admired, but thought it impracticable.
The Irishman thought otherwise. Barker exhibited circular views
from nature, in London and also in the provinces, with indifferent
success. At last, in 1793, on part of the old site of Leicester House,
a building arose which was called the Panorama, and in which was
exhibited a view of the Russian fleet at Spithead. The spectator was
on board a ship in the midst of the scene and the view was all around
him. King George and Queen Charlotte led the fashionable world to
this most original exhibition. For many years there was a succession
of magnificent views of foreign capitals, tracts of country, ancient
cities, polar regions, battles, &c., exhibited; and ‘Have you been to
the new panorama?’ was as naturally a spring question as ‘Have you been
to the Academy?’ or the Opera? The exhibition of the ‘Stern Realities
of Waterloo’ alone realised a little fortune, and ‘Pandemonium,’
painted by Mr. Henry Selous, was one of the latest of the great

At the north-east corner of Leicester Square, the Barkers, father and
son, achieved what is called ‘a handsome competency.’ At the death of
the latter, Robert Burford succeeded him, and, for a time, did well;
but ‘Fashion’ wanted a new sensation. The panoramas in Leicester Square
and the Strand, admirable as they were, ceased to draw the public;
and courteous, lady-like, little Miss Burford, the proprietress, was
compelled to withdraw, utterly shipwrecked. She used to receive her
visitors like a true lady welcoming thorough ladies and gentlemen. The
end was sad indeed, for the last heard of this aged gentlewoman was
that she was enduring life by needle-work, rarely got and scantily
paid, in a lodging, the modest rent of which, duly paid, kept her short
of necessary food. An attempt was made to obtain her election to the
‘United Kingdom Beneficent Association,’ but with what result we are
unable to record.

Shadows of old Leicester Square figures come up in crowds, demanding
recognition. They must be allowed to pass--to make a ‘march past,’ as
it were; as they glide by we take note of Mirabeau and Marat, Holcroft,
Opie, Edmund Kean, and Mulready, with countless others, to indite the
roll of whose names only would alone require a volume.


Perusing records that are a century old is something better than
listening to a centenarian, even if his memory could go back so far.
The records are as fresh as first impressions, and they bring before us
men and things as they were, not as after-historians supposed them to

The story which 1773 has left of itself is full of variety and of
interest. Fashion fluttered the propriety of Scotland when the old
Dowager Countess of Fife gave the first masquerade that ever took place
in that country, at Duff House. In England, people and papers could
talk or write of nothing so frequently as masquerades. ‘One hears so
much of them,’ remarked that lively old lady, Mrs. Delany, ‘that I
suppose the only method not to be tired of them is to frequent them.’
Old-fashioned loyalty in England was still more shocked when the Lord
Mayor of London declined to go to St. Paul’s on the 30th of January to
profess himself sad and sorry at the martyrdom of Charles I. In the
minds of certain religious people there was satisfaction felt at the
course taken by the University of Oxford, which refused to modify
the Thirty-nine Articles, as more liberal Cambridge had done. Indeed,
such Liberalism as that of the latter, prepared ultra-serious people
for awful consequences; and when they heard that Moelfammo, an extinct
volcano in Flintshire, had resumed business, and was beginning to pelt
the air with red-hot stones, they naturally thought that the end of
a wicked world was at hand. They took courage again when the Commons
refused to dispense with subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, by
a vote of 150 to 64. But no sooner was joy descending on the one hand
than terror advanced on the other. Quid-nuncs asked whither the world
was driving, when the London livery proclaimed the reasonableness of
annual parliaments. Common-sense people also were perplexed at the
famous parliamentary resolution that Lord Clive had wrongfully taken to
himself above a quarter of a million of money, and had rendered signal
services to his country!

Again, a hundred years ago our ancestors were as glad to hear that
Bruce had got safely back into Egypt from his attempt to reach the Nile
sources, as we were to know that Livingstone was alive and well and in
search of those still undiscovered head-waters. A century ago, too,
crowds of well-wishers bade God speed to the gallant Captain Phipps,
as he sailed from the Nore on his way to that North-west Passage
which he did not find, and which, at the close of a hundred years, is
as impracticable as ever. And, though history may or may not repeat
itself, events of to-day at least remind us of those a hundred years
old. The Protestant Emperor William, in politely squeezing the Jesuits
out of his dominions, only modestly follows the example of Pope Clement
XIV., who, in 1773, let loose a bull for the entire suppression of
the order in every part of the world. Let us not forget too, that if
orthodox ruffians burnt Priestley’s house over his head, and would have
smashed all power of thought out of that head itself, the Royal Society
conferred on the great philosopher who was the brutally treated pioneer
of modern science, the Copley Medal, for his admirable treatise on
different kinds of air.

But there was a little incident of the year 1773, which has had more
stupendous consequences than any other with which England has been
connected. England, through some of her statesmen, asserted her right
to tax her colonists, without asking their consent or allowing them to
be represented in the home legislature. In illustration of such right
and her determination to maintain it, England sent out certain ships
with cargoes of tea, on which a small duty was imposed, to be paid by
the colonists. The latter declined to have the wholesome herb at such
terms, but England forced it upon them. Three ships, so freighted,
entered Boston Harbour. They were boarded by a mob disguised as Mohawk
Indians, who tossed the tea into the river and then quietly dispersed.
A similar cargo was safely landed at New York, but it was under the
guns of a convoying man-of-war. When landed it could not be disposed
of, except by keeping it under lock-and-key, with a strong guard over
it, to preserve it from the patriots who scorned the cups that cheer,
if they were unduly taxed for the luxury. That was the little seed out
of which has grown that Union whose President now is more absolute
and despotic than poor George III. ever was or cared to be; little
seed, which is losing its first wholesomeness, and, if we may trust
transatlantic papers, is grown to a baleful tree, corrupt to the core
and corrupting all around it. Such at least is the American view--the
view of good and patriotic Americans, who would fain work sound reform
in this condition of things at the end of an eventful century, when
John Bull is made to feel, by Geneva and San Juan, that he will never
have any chance of having the best argument in an arbitration case,
where he is opposed by a system which looks on sharpness as a virtue,
and holds that nothing succeeds like success.

Let us get back from this subject to the English court of a century
since. A new year’s day at court was in the last century a gala day,
which made London tradesmen rejoice. There were some extraordinary
figures at that of 1773, at St. James’s, but no one looked so much
out of ordinary fashion as Lord Villiers. His coat was of pale purple
velvet turned up with lemon colour, ‘and embroidered all over’ (says
Mrs. Delany) ‘with SSes of pearl as big as peas, and in all the spaces
little medallions in beaten gold--_real solid_! in various figures of
Cupids _and the like_!’

The court troubles of the year were not insignificant; but the good
people below stairs had their share of them. If the King continued to
be vexed at the marriages of his brothers Gloucester and Cumberland
with English ladies, the King’s servants had sorrows of their own.
The newspapers stated that ‘the wages of his Majesty’s servants were
miserably in arrear; that their families were consequently distressed,
and that there was great clamour for payment.’ The court was never more
bitterly satirised than in some lines put in circulation (as Colley
Cibber’s) soon after Lord Chesterfield’s death, to whom they were
generally ascribed. They were written before the decease of Frederick,
Prince of Wales. The laureate was made to say--

Colley Cibber, right or wrong,
Must celebrate this day,
And tune once more his tuneless song
And strum the venal lay.

Heav’n spread through all the family
That broad, illustrious glare,
That shines so flat in every eye
And makes them all so stare!

Heav’n send the Prince of royal race
A little coach and horse,
A little meaning in his face,
And money in his purse.

And, as I have a son like yours,
May he Parnassus rule.
So shall the crown and laurel too
Descend from fool to fool.

Satire was, indeed, quite as rough in prose as it was sharp in song.
One of the boldest paragraphs ever penned by paragraph writers of the
time appeared in the ‘Public Advertiser’ in the summer of 1773. A
statue of the King had been erected in Berkeley Square. The discovery
was soon made that the King himself had paid for it. Accordingly, the
‘Public Advertiser’ audaciously informed him that he had paid for his
statue, because he well knew that none would ever be spontaneously
erected in his honour by posterity. The ‘Advertiser’ further advised
George III. to build his own mausoleum for the same reason.

And what were ‘the quality’ about in 1773? There was Lord Hertford
exclaiming, ‘By Jove!’ because he objected to swearing. Ladies
were dancing ‘Cossack’ dances, and gentlemen figured at balls in
black coats, red waistcoats, and red sashes, or quadrilled with
nymphs in white satin--themselves radiant in brown silk coat, with
cherry-coloured waistcoat and breeches. Beaux who could not dance took
to cards, and the Duke of Northumberland lost two thousand pounds at
quince before half a dancing night had come to an end. There was Sir
John Dalrymple winning money more disastrously than the duke lost it.
He was a man who inveighed against corruption, and who took bribes from
brewers. Costume balls were in favour at court, Chesterfield was making
jokes to the very door of his coffin; and he was not the only patron
of the arts who bought a Claude Lorraine painted within the preceding
half-year. The macaronies, having left off gaming--they had lost all
their money--astonished the town by their new dresses and the size
of their nosegays. Poor George III. could not look admiringly at the
beautiful Miss Linley at an oratorio, without being accused of ogling
her. It was at one of the King’s balls that Mrs. Hobart figured, ‘all
gauze and spangles, like a spangle pudding.’ This was the expensive
year when noblemen are said to have made romances instead of giving
balls. The interiors of their mansions were transformed, walls were
cast down, new rooms were built, the decorations were superb (three
hundred pounds was the sum asked only for the loan of mirrors for a
single night), and not only were the dancers in the most gorgeous of
historical or fancy costumes, but the musicians wore scarlet robes,
and looked like Venetian senators on the stage. It was at one of these
balls that Harry Conway was so astonished at the agility of Mrs.
Hobart’s bulk that he said he was sure she must be hollow.

She would not have been more effeminate than some of our young
legislators in the Commons, who, one night in May, ‘because the House
was very hot, and the young members thought it would melt their rouge
and wither their nosegays,’ as Walpole says, all of a sudden voted
against their own previously formed opinions. India and Lord Clive were
the subjects, and the letter-writer remarks that the Commons ‘being so
fickle, Lord Clive has reason to hope that after they have voted his
head off they will vote it on again the day after he has lost it.’

When there were members in the Commons who rouged like pert girls or
old women, and carried nosegays as huge as a lady mayoress’s at a City
ball, we are not surprised to hear of macaronies in Kensington Gardens.
There they ran races on every Sunday evening, ‘to the high amusement
and contempt of the mob,’ says Walpole. The mob had to look at the
runners from outside the gardens. ‘They will be ambitious of being
fashionable, and will run races too.’ Neither mob nor macaronies had
the swiftness of foot or the lasting powers of some of the running
footmen attached to noble houses. Dukes would run matches of their
footmen from London to York, and a fellow has been known to die rather
than that ‘his grace’ who owned him should lose the match. Talking of
‘graces,’ an incident is told by Walpole of the cost of a bed for a
night’s sleep for a duchess, which may well excite a little wonder now.
The king and court were at Portsmouth to review the fleet. The town
held so many more visitors than it could accommodate that the richest
of course secured the accommodation. ‘The Duchess of Northumberland
gives forty guineas for a bed, and must take her chambermaid into
it.’ Walpole, who is writing to the Countess of Ossory, adds: ‘I did
not think she would pay so dear for _such_ company.’ The people who
were unable to pay ran recklessly into debt, and no more thought of
the sufferings of those to whom they owed the money than that modern
rascalry in clean linen, who compound with their creditors and scarcely
think of paying their ‘composition.’ A great deal of nonsense has been
talked about the virtues of Charles James Fox, who had none but such as
may be found in easy temper and self-indulgence. He was now in debt to
the tune of a hundred thousand pounds. But so once was Julius Cæsar,
with whom Walpole satirically compared him. He let his securities, his
bondsmen, pay the money which they had warranted would be forthcoming
from him, ‘while he, as like Brutus as Cæsar, is indifferent about such
paltry counters.’ When one sees the vulgar people who by some means or
other, and generally by any means, accumulate fortunes the sum total
of which would once have seemed fabulous, and when we see fortunes
of old aristocratic families squandered away among the villains of
the most villainous ‘turf,’ there is nothing strange in what we read
in a letter of a hundred years ago, namely: ‘What is England now? A
sink of Indian wealth! filled by nabobs and emptied by macaronies; a
country over-run by horse-races.’ So London at the end of July now is
not unlike to London of 1773; but we could not match the latter with
such a street picture as the following: ‘There is scarce a soul in
London but macaronies lolling out of windows at Almack’s, like carpets
to be dusted.’ With the more modern parts of material London Walpole
was ill satisfied. _We_ look upon Adam’s work with some complacency,
but Walpole exclaims, ‘What are the Adelphi buildings?’ and he
replies, ‘Warehouses laced down the seams, like a soldier’s trull in a
regimental old coat!’ Mason could not bear the building brothers. ‘Was
there ever such a brace,’ he asks, ‘of self-puffing Scotch coxcombs?’
The coxcombical vein was, nevertheless, rather the fashionable one.
Fancy a nobleman’s postillions in white jackets trimmed with muslin,
and clean ones every other day! In such guise were Lord Egmont’s
postillions to be seen.

The chronicle of fashion is dazzling with the record of the doings of
the celebrated Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu. At her house in Hill Street,
Berkeley Square, were held the assemblies which were scornfully called
‘blue-stocking’ by those who were not invited, or who affected not to
care for them if they _were_. Mrs. Delany, who certainly had a great
regard for this ‘lady of the last century,’ has a sly hit at Mrs.
Montagu in a letter of May 1773. ‘If,’ she writes, ‘I had paper and
time, I could entertain you with Mrs. Montagu’s room of Cupidons, which
was opened with an assembly for all the foreigners, the literati, and
the macaronies of the present age. Many and sly are the observations
how such a _genius_, at her age and so circumstanced, could think
of painting the walls of her dressing-room with bowers of roses and
jessamine, entirely inhabited by little Cupids in all their little
wanton ways. It is astonishing, unless she looks upon herself as the
wife of old Vulcan, and mother to all those little Loves!’ This is a
sister woman’s testimony of a friend! The _genius_ of Mrs. Montagu was
of a higher class than that of dull but good Mrs. Delany. The _age_ of
the same lady was a little over fifty, when she might fittingly queen
it, as she did, in her splendid mansion in Hill Street, the scene of
the glories of her best days. The ‘circumstances’ and the ‘Vulcan’ were
allusions to her being the wife of a noble owner of collieries and a
celebrated mathematician, who suffered from continued ill-health, and
who considerately went to bed at _five_ o’clock P.M. daily!

The great subject of the year, after all, was the duping of Charles
Fox, by the impostor who called herself the Hon. Mrs. Grieve. She
had been transported, and after her return had set up as ‘a sensible
woman,’ giving advice to fools, ‘for a consideration.’ A silly Quaker
brought her before Justice Fielding for having defrauded him. He
had paid her money, for which she had undertaken to get him a place
under government; but she had kept the money, and had not procured
for him the coveted place. Her impudent defence was that the Quaker’s
immorality stood in the way of otherwise certain success. The
Honourable lady’s dupes believed in her, because they saw the style
in which she lived, and often beheld her descend from her chariot
and enter the houses of ministers and other great personages; but it
came out that she only spoke to the porters or to other servants, who
entertained her idle questions, for a gratuity, while Mrs. Grieve’s
carriage, and various dupes, waited for her in the street. When these
dupes, however, saw Charles Fox’s chariot at Mrs. Grieve’s door,
and that gentleman himself entering the house--not issuing therefrom
till a considerable period had elapsed--they were confirmed in their
credulity. But the clever hussey was deluding the popular tribune in
the house, and keeping his chariot at her door, to further delude the
idiots who were taken in by it. The patriot was in a rather common
condition of patriots; he was over head and ears in debt. The lady
had undertaken to procure for him the hand of a West Indian heiress,
a Miss Phipps, with 80,000_l._, a sum that might soften the hearts of
his creditors for a while. The young lady (whom ‘the Hon.’ never saw)
was described as a little capricious. She could not abide dark men, and
the swart democratic leader powdered his eyebrows that he might look
fairer in the eyes of the lady of his hopes. An interview between them
was always on the point of happening, but was always being deferred.
Miss Phipps was ill, was coy, was not ‘i’ the vein’; finally she had
the smallpox, which was as imaginary as the other grounds of excuse.
Meanwhile Mrs. Grieve lent the impecunious legislator money, 300_l._
or thereabouts. She was well paid, not by Fox, of course, but by the
more vulgar dupes who came to false conclusions when they beheld his
carriage, day after day, at the Hon. Mrs. Grieve’s door. The late
Lord Holland expressed his belief that the loan from Mrs. Grieve was
a foolish and improbable story. ‘I have heard Fox say,’ Lord Holland
remarks in the ‘Memorials and Correspondence of Fox,’ edited by Lord
John (afterwards Earl) Russell, ‘she never got or asked any money from
him.’ She probably knew very well that Fox had none to lend. That he
should have accepted any from such a woman is disgraceful enough: but
there may be exaggeration in the matter.

Fox--it is due to him to note the fact here--had yet hardly begun
seriously and earnestly his career as a public man. At the close of
1773 he was sowing his wild oats. He ended the year with the study of
two widely different dramatic parts, which he was to act on a private
stage. Those parts were Lothario, in ‘The Fair Penitent,’ and Sir
Harry’s servant, in ‘High Life below Stairs.’ The stage on which the
two pieces were acted, by men scarcely inferior to Fox himself in rank
and ability, was at Winterslow House, near Salisbury, the seat of the
Hon. Stephen Fox. The night of representation closed the Christmas
holidays of 1773-4. It was Saturday, January 8, 1774. Fox played the
gallant gay Lothario brilliantly; the livery servant in the kitchen,
aping his master’s manners, was acted with abundant low humour, free
from vulgarity. But, whether there was incautious management during the
piece, or incautious revelry after it, the fine old house was burned
to the ground before the morning. It was then that Fox turned more than
before to public business; but without giving up any of his private
enjoyments, except those he did not care for.

The duels of this year which gave rise to the most gossip were, first,
that between Lord Bellamont and Lord Townshend, and next the one
between Messrs. Temple and Whately. The two lords fought (after some
shifting on Townshend’s side) on a quarrel arising from a refusal of
Lord Townshend, in Dublin, to receive Bellamont. The offended lord was
badly shot in the stomach, and a wit (so called) penned this epigram on
the luckier adversary:--

Says Bell’mont to Townshend, ‘You turned on your heel,
And that gave your honour a check.’
‘’Tis my way,’ replied Townshend. ‘To the world I appeal,
If I didn’t the same at Quebec.’

Townshend, at Quebec, had succeeded to the command after Monckton was
wounded, and he declined to renew the conflict with De Bougainville.
The duel between Temple and Whately arose out of extraordinary
circumstances. There were in the British Foreign Office letters from
English and also from American officials in the transatlantic colony,
which advised coercion on the part of our government as the proper
course to be pursued for the successful administration of that colony.
Benjamin Franklin was then in England, and hearing of these letters,
had a strong desire to procure them, in order to publish them in
America, to the confusion of the writers. The papers were the property
of the British Government, from whom it is hardly too much to say that
they must have been stolen. At all events, an agent of Franklin’s,
named Hugh Williamson, is described as having got them for Franklin
‘by an ingenious device,’ which seems to be a very euphemistic phrase.
The letters had been originally addressed to Whately, secretary to
the Treasury, who, in 1773, was dead. The ingenious device by which
they were abstracted was reported to have been made with the knowledge
of Temple, who had been lieutenant-governor of New Hampshire. The
excitement caused by their publication led to a duel between Temple
and a brother of Whately, in whose hands the letters had never been,
and poor Whately was dangerously wounded, to save the honour of the
ex-lieutenant-governor. The publication of these letters was as
unjustifiable as the ingenious device by which they were conveyed from
their rightful owners. It caused as painful a sensation as any one of
the many painful incidents in the Geneva Arbitration affair, namely,
when--it being a point of honour that neither party should publish a
statement of their case till a judgment had been pronounced--the case
made out by the United States counsel was to be bought, before the
tribunal was opened, as easily as if it had been a ‘last dying speech
and confession!’

In literature Andrew Stewart’s promised ‘Letters to Lord Mansfield’
excited universal curiosity. In that work Stewart treated the chief
justice as those Chinese executioners do their patients whose skin they
politely and tenderly brush away with wire brushes till nothing is left
of the victim but a skeleton. It was a luxury to Walpole to see a Scot
dissect a Scot. ‘They know each other’s sore places better than we
do.’ The work, however, was not published. Referring to Macpherson’s
‘Ossian,’ Walpole remarked, ‘The Scotch seem to be proving that they
are really descended from the Irish.’ On the other hand, the ‘Heroic
Epistle to Sir William Chambers’ was being relished by satirical minds,
and men were attributing it to Anstey and Soame Jenyns, and to Temple,
Luttrell, and Horace Walpole, and pronouncing it wittier than the
‘Dunciad,’ and did not know that it was Mason’s, and that it would not
outlive Pope. Sir William Chambers found consolation in the fact that
the satire, instead of damaging the volume it condemned, increased the
sale of the book by full three hundred volumes. Walpole, of course,
knew from the first that Mason was the author; he worked hard in
promoting its circulation, and gloried in its success. ‘Whenever I was
asked,’ he writes, ‘have you read “Sir John Dalrymple?” I replied,
“Have _you_ read the ‘Heroic Epistle’?” The _Elephant_ and _Ass_ have
become constellations, and ‘_He has stolen the Earl of Denbigh’s
handkerchief_,’ is the proverb in fashion. It is something surprising
to find, at a time when authors are supposed to have been ill paid,
Dr. Hawkesworth receiving, for putting together the narrative of Mr.
Banks’s voyage, one thousand pounds in advance from the traveller,
and six thousand from the publishers, Strahan & Co. It really seems
incredible, but this is stated to have been the fact.

Then, the drama of 1773! There was Home’s ‘Alonzo,’ which, said
Walpole, ‘seems to be the story of David and Goliath, worse told than
it would have been if Sternhold and Hopkins had put it to music!’
But the town really awoke to a new sensation when Goldsmith’s ‘She
Stoops to Conquer’ was produced on the stage, beginning a course in
which it runs as freshly now as ever. Yet the hyper-fine people of a
hundred years ago thought it rather vulgar. This was as absurd as the
then existing prejudice in France, that it was vulgar and altogether
wrong for a nobleman to write a book, or rather, to publish one!
There is nothing more curious than Walpole’s drawing-room criticism
of this exquisite and natural comedy. He calls it ‘the lowest of all
farces.’ He condemns the execution of the subject, rather than the
‘very vulgar’ subject itself. He could see in it neither moral nor
edification. He allows that the situations are well managed, and make
one laugh, in spite of the alleged grossness of the dialogue, the
forced witticisms, and improbability of the whole plan and conduct.
But, he adds, ‘what disgusts one most is, that though the characters
are very low, and aim at low humour, not one of them says a sentence
that is natural, or that marks any character at all. It is set up in
opposition to sentimental comedy, and is as bad as the worst of them.’
Walpole’s supercilious censure reminds one of the company and of the
dancing bear, alluded to in the scene over which Tony Lumpkin presides
at the village alehouse. ‘I loves to hear the squire’ (Lumpkin) ‘sing,’
says one fellow, ‘bekase he never gives us anything that’s low!’ To
which expression of good taste, an equally _nice_ fellow responds;
‘Oh, damn anything that’s low! I can’t bear it!’ Whereupon, the
philosophical Mister Muggins very truly remarks: ‘The genteel thing
is the genteel thing at any time, if so be that a gentleman bees in a
concatenation accordingly.’ The humour culminates in the rejoinder of
the bear-ward: ‘I like the maxim of it, Master Muggins. What though I’m
obligated to dance a bear? A man may be a gentleman for all that. May
this be my poison if my bear ever dances but to the very genteelest of
tunes--“Water parted,” or the minuet in “Ariadne”.’ All this is low,
in one sense, but it is far more full of humour than of vulgarity. The
comedy of nature killed the sentimental comedies, which, for the most
part, were as good (or as bad) as sermons. They strutted or staggered
with sentiments on stilts, and were duller than tables of uninteresting

Garrick, who would have nothing to do with Goldsmith’s comedy except
giving it a prologue, was ‘in shadow’ this year. He improved ‘Hamlet,’
by leaving out the gravediggers; and he swamped the theatre with the
‘Portsmouth Review.’ He went so far as to rewrite ‘The Fair Quaker of
Deal,’ to the tune of ‘Portsmouth and King George for ever!’ not to
mention a preface, in which the Earl of Sandwich, by name, is preferred
to Drake, Blake, and all the admirals that ever existed! If Walpole’s
criticisms are not always just, they are occasionally admirable for
terseness and correctness alike. London, in 1773, was in raptures with
the singing of Cecilia Davies. Walpole quaintly said that he did not
love the perfection of what anybody can do, and he wished ‘she had
less top to her voice and more bottom.’ How good too is his sketch of
a male singer, who ‘sprains his mouth with smiling on himself!’ But to
return to Garrick, and an illustration of social manners a century ago,
we must not omit to mention that, at a private party--at Beauclerk’s,
Garrick played the ‘short-armed orator’ with Goldsmith! The latter
sat in Garrick’s lap, concealing him, but with Garrick’s arms advanced
under Goldsmith’s shoulders; the arms of the latter being held behind
his back. Goldsmith then spoke a speech from ‘Cato,’ while Garrick’s
shortened arms supplied the action. The effect, of course, was
ridiculous enough to excite laughter, as the action was often in absurd
diversity from the utterance.

In the present newspaper record of births a man’s wife is no longer
called his ‘lady;’ a hundred years ago there was plentiful variety
of epithet. ‘The Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, spouse to the
Prince of that name, of a Princess,’ is one form. ‘Earl Tyrconnel’s
lady of a child,’ is another. ‘Wife’ was seldom used. One birth is
announced in the following words: ‘The Duchess of Chartres, at Paris,
of a Prince who has the title of Duke of Valois.’ Duke of Valois? ay,
and subsequently Duke of Chartres, Duke of Orléans, finally, Louis
Philippe, King of the French!

The chronicle of the marriages of the year seems to have been loosely
kept, unless indeed parties announced themselves by being married twice
over. There is, for example, a double chronicling of the marriage
of the following personages: ‘July 31st. The Right Hon. the Lady
Amelia D’Arcy, daughter of the Earl of Holdernesse, to the Marquis of
Carmarthen, son of his Grace the Duke of Leeds. Lady Amelia having
thus married my Lord in July, we find, four months later, my Lord
marrying Lady Amelia. ‘Nov. 29th. The Marquis of Carmarthen to Lady
Amelia D’Arcy, daughter of the Earl of Holdernesse.’ This union, with
its double chronology, was one of several which was followed by great
scandal, and dissolved under circumstances of great disgrace. But the
utmost scandal and disgrace attended the breaking up of the married
life of Lord and Lady Carmarthen. This dismal domestic romance is told
in contemporary pamphlets with a dramatic completeness of detail which
is absolutely startling. Those who are fond of such details may consult
these liberal authorities: we will only add that the above Lady Amelia
D’Arcy, Marchioness of Carmarthen, became the wife of Captain Byron;
the daughter of that marriage was Augusta, now better known to us as
Mrs. Leigh. Captain Byron’s second wife was Miss Gordon, of Gight,
and the son of that marriage was the poet Byron. How the names of the
half-brother and half-sister have been cruelly conjoined, there is here
no necessity of narrating. Let us turn to smaller people. Thus, we
read of a curious way of endowing a bride, in the following marriage
announcement: ‘April 13th. Rev. Mr. Morgan, Rector of Alphamstow, York,
to Miss Tindall, daughter of Mr. Tindall, late rector, who resigned in
favour of his son-in-law.’ In the same month, we meet with a better
known couple--‘Mr. Sheridan, of the Temple, to the celebrated Miss
Linley, of Bath.’

The deaths of the year included, of course, men of very opposite
qualities. The man of finest quality who went the inevitable way was he
whom some call the _good_, and some the _great_ Lord Lyttelton. When a
man’s designation rests on two such distinctions, we may take it for
granted that he was not a common-place man. And yet how little remains
of him in the public memory. His literary works are fossils; but, like
fossils, they are not without considerable value. Good as he was, there
are not a few people who jumble together his and his son’s identity.
The latter was unworthy of his sire. He was a disreputable person

Lord Chesterfield was another of the individuals of note whose glass
ran out during this year. He was always protesting that he cared
nothing for death. Such persistence of protest generally arises from
a feeling contrary to that which is made the subject of protest. This
lord (as we have said) jested to the very door of his tomb. That must
have reminded his friends during those Tyburn days, how convicts on
their way up Holborn Hill to the gallows used to veil their terror
by cutting jokes with the crowd. It was the very Chesterfield of
highwaymen, who, going up the Hill in the fatal cart, and observing
the mob to be hastening onwards, cried out, ‘It’s no use your being
in such a hurry; there’ll be no fun till I get there!’ This was the
Chesterfield style, and its spirit also. But behind it all was the
feeling and conviction of Marmontel’s philosopher, who having railed
through a long holiday excursion, till he was thoroughly tired, was of
opinion, as he tucked himself up in a featherbed at night, that life
and luxury were, after all, rather pretty things.

Chesterfield was, nevertheless, much more of a man than his fellow
peer who crossed the Stygian ferry in the same year, namely, the
Duke of Kingston. The duke had been one of the handsomest men of his
time, and, like a good many handsome men, was a considerable fool. He
allowed himself, at all events, to be made the fool, and to become
the slave, of the famous Miss Chudleigh--as audacious as she was
beautiful. The lady, whom the law took it into its head to look upon
as _not_ the duke’s duchess--that is, not his wife--was resigned to
her great loss by the feeling of her great gain. She was familiar
with her lord’s last will and testament, and went into hysterics to
conceal her satisfaction. She saw his grace out of the world with
infinite ceremony. To be sure, it was nothing else. The physicians whom
she called together in consultation _consulted_, no doubt, and then
whispered to their lady friends, while holding their delicate pulses,
‘Mere ceremony, upon my honour!’ The widow kept the display of grief
up to the last. When she brought the ducal corpse up from Bath to
London, she rested often by the way. If she could have carried out her
caprices, she would have had as many crosses to mark the ducal stations
of death as were erected to commemorate the passing of Queen Eleanor.
As this could not be, the widow took to screaming at every turn of
the road, and at night was carried into her inn kicking her heels and
screaming at the top of her voice.

Among the other deaths of the year 1773, the following are noteworthy.
At Vienna, of a broken heart, from the miseries of his country, the
brave Prince Poniatowski, brother to the King of Poland, and a general
in the Austrian service, in which he had been greatly distinguished
during the last war. The partition of Poland was then only a year old,
and the echoes of the assertions of the lying Czar, Emperor, and King,
that they never intended to lay a finger on that ancient kingdom,
had hardly died out of the hearing of the astounded world. England
is always trusting the words of Czars and their Khiva protestations,
always learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. A name
less known than Poniatowski may be cited for the singularity attached
to it. ‘Hale Hartson, Esq., the author of the “Countess of Salisbury”
and other ingenious pieces--a young gentleman of fine parts, and
who, though very young, had made the tour of Europe three times.’ An
indication of what a fashionable quarter Soho, with its neighbourhood,
was in 1773, is furnished by the following announcement: ‘Suddenly,
at her house in Lisle Street, Leicester Fields, Lady Sophia Thomas,
sister of the late Earl of Albemarle, and aunt of the present.’ Foreign
ambassadors then dwelt in Lisle Street. Even dukes had their houses
in the same district; and baronets lived and died in Red Lion Square
and in Cornhill. Among those baronets an eccentric individual turned
up now and then. In the obituary is the name of Sir Robert Price, of
whom it is added that ‘he left his fortune to seven old bachelors in
indigent circumstances.’ The death of one individual is very curtly
recorded; all the virtues under heaven would have been assigned to her,
had she not belonged to a vanquished party. In that case she would have
been a high and mighty princess; as it was, we only read, ‘Lately,
Lady Annabella Stuart, a relation of the late royal family, aged
ninety-one years, at St.-Omer.’ A few of us are better acquainted with
the poet, John Cunningham, whose decease is thus quaintly chronicled:
‘At Newcastle, the ingenious Mr. John Cunningham. A man little known,
but that will be always much admired for his plaintive, tender, and
natural pastoral poetry.’ Some of the departed personages seem to have
held strange appointments. Thus we find Alexander, Earl of Galloway,
described as ‘one of the lords of police;’ and Willes, Bishop of Bath
and Wells, who died in Hill Street when Mrs. Montague and her blue
stockings were in their greatest brilliancy, is described as ‘joint
Decypherer (with his son, Edward Willes, Esq.) to the king.’ We
believe that the duty of decypherer consisted in reading letters that
were opened, on suspicion, in their passage through the post-off

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