The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction
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THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT AND INSTRUCTION.
VOL. XIV, NO. 381.] SATURDAY, JULY 18, 1829. [PRICE 2d.
[Illustration: APSLEY HOUSE]
THE MANSION OF HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
The town mansions of our nobility are generally beneath all
architectural criticism; and it has been pertinently observed that "an
educated foreigner is quite astonished when shown the residences of
our higher nobility and gentry in the British capital. He has heard
speak of some great nobleman, with a revenue equal to that of a
principality. He feels a curiosity to look at his palace, and he is
shown a plain, common, brick house of forty or fifty feet in extent."
These observations were made about three years ago, since which
period, the spirit of architectural improvement has been fast
extending from public buildings to individual mansions. Among the
latter, the renovation or encasement of Apsley House, at Hyde Park
Corner, with a fine stone front, is entitled to foremost notice.
This splendid improvement is from the designs of Benjamin Wyatt, Esq.
and is of the Palladian style. The basement story is rusticated, and
the principal front has a handsome pediment supported by four columns
of the Corinthian order. A bold cornice extends on all sides, which
are decorated at the angles with Corinthian pilasters. The whole has
an air of substantial elegance, and is in extremely good taste, if we
except the door and window cases, which we are disposed to think
rather too small. The Piccadilly front is enclosed with a rich bronzed
palisade between leaved pillars, being in continuation of the
classical taste of the entrance gates to Hyde Park, and the superb
entrance to the Royal Gardens on the opposite side of the road.
Throughout the whole, the chaste Grecian honey-suckle is introduced
with very pleasing effect.
Besides the new frontage, Apsley House has been considerably enlarged,
and a slip of ground from Hyde Park added to the gardens. The
ball-room, extending the whole depth of the mansion, is one of the
most magnificent _salons_ in the metropolis; and a picture gallery is
in progress. Altogether, the improvement is equally honourable to the
genius of the architect, and the taste of the illustrious proprietor
of the mansion; for no foreigner can gainsay that Apsley House has the
befitting splendour of a ducal, nay even of a royal palace.
* * * * *
(_To the Editor of the Mirror_.)
There has been much discussion among antiquaries respecting the
etymology of an ancient Roman road, called the Watling Street Way,
which commencing from Dover, traces its course to London, St. Alban's,
Weedon, over _Bensford Bridge_, High Cross, Atherstone, Wall,
Wroxeter, and Chester, from which last place a branch appears to point
in nearly a straight direction through St. Asaph to Segontium, or Caer
Seiont, Carnarvonshire. Another branch directs its course from
Wroxeter to Manchester, York, Lancaster, Kendal, and Cockermouth.
Hoveden thinks it was called the Watling Street from Wathe, or Wathla,
a British king. Spelman fancies it was called Werlam Street, from its
passing through Verulam. Somner derives the name from the Belgic
Wentelen, _volvere, versare se, a sinuosis flexibus_. Baxter contends
that it was made by the original Britons, Weteling, or Oedeling
signifying in their language, _originarius civis vel ingenuus_.
Stukeley's opinion, in which he is joined by Whitaker, the Manchester
historian, is, that it was the Guetheling road--Sarn Guethelin, or the
road of the Irish, the G being pronounced as a W. Dr. Wilkes says,
that it is more indented and crooked than other Roman Roads usually
are, and supposes that it was formed of _Wattles_, which was the idea
also of Pointer. Mr. Duff is not pleased with the opinion of Camden,
that it derives its name from an unknown _Vitellianus_, but
conjectures that its etymology is from the Saxon _Wadla_, a poor man,
a beggar, because such people resorted to this road for the charity of
Among so many crude and discordant opinions, I shall endeavour to
substitute another more consistent with the true etymology of the
word. I agree with the historian of Manchester, that the Roman
stations were prior to the roads, and that the latter were only the
channels of communication to the former. The stations commenced during
the conquest of the country, and all of them were completed at the
conclusion of it. The roads therefore could not be constructed till
the first or second summer after the stations were established.
Whoever has attentively observed the line or direction of the Watling
Street, must be convinced of the truth of the foregoing observations;
and the deviation from a straight line, which in many parts is so
apparent, and so evidently made to enable the Romans to pass from one
station to another, may be considered conclusive upon this point. I
therefore have no hesitation in asserting, that the Watling Street Way
is a Roman road, and probably planned and formed by Vespasian, the
celebrated Roman general in Britain, who named this road in compliment
to the emperor, _Vitellius, Vitellii Strata Via_, Watling Street Way.
Suetonius, in his _Life of Vespasian_, says, (chapter 4,) "_Claudio
principe, Narcissi gratia, legatus in Germaniam missus est
(Vespasianus;) inde in Britanniam translatus, tricies cum hoste
conflixit. Duas validissimas gentes, superq viginti oppida, et insulam
Vectam Britanniae proximam, in deditionem redegit, partim Auli Plautii
legati, partim Claudii ipsius ductu. Quare triumphalia ornamenta, et
in spatio brevi, duplex sacerdotium accepit, praeterea consulatum,
quem gessit per duos novissimos anni menses." Or, "In the reign of
Claudius, by the interest of Narcissus, he (Vespasian) was sent
lieutenant general of a legion into Germany, from whence being removed
into Britain, he engaged the enemy in thirty distinct battles, and
subjected to the power of the Romans two very strong nations, and
above twenty great towns, and the Isle of Wight, upon the coast of
Britain, partly under the command of Aulus Plautius, and partly under
that of Claudius himself. In reward for these noble services he
received the triumphal ornaments, and in a short time after, two
priest's offices, besides the consulship, which he held for the two
last months of the year."
The same author, in his Life of Vitellius, seems to strengthen or
rather establish the conjecture of its being the _Vitellii Strata
Via_, for he says, (chapter 1,) "_indicia, stirpis (Vitelliorum) diu
mansisse, Viam Vitelliam ab Janiculo ad mare usque, item coloniam
ejusdem nominis._" Or, "Some monuments of the family continued a long
time, as the _Vitellian Way_, reaching from the Janiculum to the sea,
and likewise a colony of that name." From the abovementioned extracts,
it seems not improbable that one of the thirty battles mentioned by
Suetonius, might have been fought during the time the Romans were
forming this road through the Forest of Arden, which extended from
Henley, in Warwickshire, to Market Harborough, in Leicestershire; and
that it was called in compliment to Vitellius, the _Vitellian Way_,
afterwards corrupted to the _Watling Way_.
This road from the Avon, which it passes at Dove Bridge, to the Anker,
near Atherstone, forms the boundary between the counties of Leicester
and Warwick. In the month of June, 1824, numerous skulls and bones
were discovered in a line from the intersection of the road that leads
from Rugby to Lutterworth, with the Watling Street to Benones or
Bensford Bridge, the distance not being more than half a mile. These
bones were lying about two feet below the surface of the ground. Many
fragments of shields, spear heads, knives, and a sword, placed by
the side of a skeleton, and at one end touching a funereal urn, and
likewise several drinking cups, or small vessels, apparently formed of
half-baked clay, with clasps both of silver and brass, were found
within the abovementioned distance. On the contrary side of the road
were discovered beads, glass, and amber, but neither urns,
spear-heads, or fragments of shields; these relics, therefore,
probably belonged to the Britons, who fell encountering the Romans, to
prevent their forming a road through the Forest of Arden. There can be
little doubt of a battle having been here fought, from the bones,
urns, and tumuli discovered here and in the adjacent neighbourhood.
"In this parish (Church Over,") says Dugdale, "upon the old Roman Way,
called Watling Strete, is to be seen a very great tumulus, which is of
that magnitude, that it puts travellers beside the usual road," and a
_Letter_ from Elias Ashmole to Sir Wm. Dugdale, states, "that about
a mile from hence (that is from Holywell Abbey, now the site of Caves
Inn,) there is a tumulus raised in the very middle of the high way,
which methought was worth observing." This tumulus, in an ancient
deed, is called the Pilgrim's Low. It was removed in making the
turnpike-road from Banbury to Lutterworth, about the year 1770. In the
plantations of Abraham Grimes, Esq., within half a mile of the site of
the former, is another tumulus of smaller dimensions, adjoining the
road which leads from Rugby to Lutterworth.
These were probably raised in honour of some military chiefs who were
slain in the battle.
Si quid novisti rectius istis
Candidus imperti: si non, his utere mecum.
 Probably a corruption of Benones Bridge, as it is within four
miles of the Roman station, Benones, now High Cross.
 Vitellius had great weight and influence in the reign of
Claudius; Vespasian at that time paid his court to the
favourite, and also to Narcissus, the emperor's freedman.
 Now in the possession of the Rev. P. Homer, of Rugby.
 In the possession of Mr. Matthew Bloxam, of the same place.
 Edited by that distinguished and learned antiquary, Wm. Hamper,
of Birmingham, Esq., in his _Life of Dugdale_.
* * * * *
(_To the Editor of the Mirror_.)
I beg to correct the statement of _W.W._ in vol. xiii. page 419,
respecting this family. It is true that the pension did not expire at
Richard Pendrill's death--and it is also true that Dr. Pendrill died
about the time as therein stated--but his son, John Pendrill, died at
his own residence, near the Seahouses, Eastbourne, last year only,
(1828,) leaving issue, one son by his first wife, (named John,) and
one son and three daughters by his second wife; his first son, John,
now enjoys the pension of 100 marks, and is residing at the Gloucester
Hotel, Old Steine, Brighton, in sound health. The privilege granted to
this family under the title of "Free Warren," is the liberty of
shooting, hunting, fishing, &c. upon any of the King's manors, and
upon the manor on which the party enjoying this pension might reside;
and I am informed that a certain noble lord made some yearly payment
or gift to the deceased, John, not to exercise that privilege on his
manor in Sussex. The pension is payable out of, or secured upon, lands
in four different counties, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire,
Herefordshire, and Warwickshire, and entitles the party enjoying it to
a vote in each of these counties; but whether this has been acted
upon, I cannot possibly say. I have seen in the possession of a branch
of this loyal family, only a few days ago, a scarce print of the arms,
&c. published in 1756, under the regulation of the act of parliament;
besides other prints on the subject. This family, _being commoners_,
is I believe, the only one which have supporters.
 Another correspondent, _Amicus_, states that the grant of the
Pension was in the possession of the Rector of Cheriton, in
Hampshire, and was "lost by him to Government, a short time
before his death, in the year 1825."
* * * * *
THE FRIENDS OF THE DEAD.
(_For the Mirror_.)
They've seen him laid, all cold and low;
They've flung the flat stone o'er his breast:
And Summer's sun, and Winter's snow
May never mar his dreamless rest!
They've left him to his long decay;
The banner waves above his head:
Funereal is their rich array,
But hark! how speak they of the dead.
In his own hall, they've pledg'd to him
'Mid mirth, and minstrelsy divine;
When, at the crystal goblet's brim
Hath flash'd, the od'rous rosy wine;
When viands from all lands afar
Have grac'd the shining, sumptuous board,
And _now_, they'd prove their vaunted star,
The Cobbold, of his priceless hoard.
Hark! how they scandalize the _dead_!
They spake not thus,--(their patron _here_)
When they were proud to break his bread,
To watch his faintest smile, and fear
His latent frown; they did not speak
Of vices, follies, meanness: _then_
A _crime_ in him, had been, "the freak
Of youth," and "worthiest _he_, of men!"
Off with those garbs of woe, _false_ friends!
Those sadden'd visages, all feign'd!
Or have ye yet, some golden ends
To be, by Death's own liv'ries gain'd?
_Ye_ mourn the dead forsooth! who say
That which should shame the lordly hall
His late ancestral home! Away!
And dream that he hath _heard_ it all!
 _Cobbold_, in mining countries, especially Cornwall, is the
legendary guardian spirit of the mine, and severe master of
its treasures. In Germany, Sweden, &c. the Cobbold may be
traced under various modifications and titles.
* * * * *
FOOD OF VARIOUS NATIONS.
The diet of the _Frenchman_, is chiefly vegetable, and his _frogs_ are
rarities reserved for the delectation of the opulent, and answering,
in some degree, to the brains and tongues of singing-birds amongst
ancient epicures; since, after being subjected to a peculiar process
of fattening and purifying, only the legs of these animals are eaten.
Light wines, beer, sugar and water, strong coffee, and a variety of
delicious liqueurs, are drunk by the French, but they have shown
themselves capable of conforming to the English taste in a relish for
stronger potations. _Spaniards_ of all ranks, use fruit, vegetables,
fish, and olives, for their principal diet, and oil and garlic are
used plentifully in their culinary operations; chocolate is their
chief beverage, but at dinner ladies drink nothing but water, and
gentlemen a little wine. The fare of the _Portuguese_ peasantry is
meagre in the extreme, although, they are, in fact, surrounded with
the abundant luxuries of nature; a piece of black bread and a pickled
pilchard, or head of garlic, is their usual subsistence, but a salted
cod is a feast. In _Italy_, ice-water and lemonade are luxuries
essential to the existence of all classes, and the inferior ones, who
never inebriate themselves with spirituous liquors, can procure them
at a cheap rate; macaroni and fruit are chief articles of food, but
the Italians are great gourmands, and delight in dishes swimming in
oil, which, to an English ear, sounds very disgustingly; however, it
must be remembered, that oil in Italy is so pure and fresh, that it
answers every purpose of our newest butter. A gentleman who had
resided some time in this country, informs us, that by the Italians,
_puppy-broth_ was reckoned a sovereign remedy in some slight
indispositions, and that he has constantly seen in the markets young
dogs skinned for sale. Of the _Turks_, the ordinary food is rice,
sometimes boiled with gravy, and sometimes made into _pilan_; a kind
of curry composed of mutton and fowl stewed to rags, and highly
seasoned gravy. This is eaten with their fingers, since they have
neither knives nor forks, and the Koran prohibits the use of gold and
silver spoons. Coffee and sherbet are their ordinary beverages, and by
the higher classes of "the faithful," wine is drunk in private, but an
intoxication of a singular and destructive description, is produced by
opium, which the Turks chew in immoderate quantities. The food of the
_Circassians_ consists of a little meat, millet-paste, and a kind of
beer fermented from millet. The _Tartars_ are not fond of beef and
veal, but admire horse-flesh; they prefer to drink, before any thing
else, mare's milk, and produce from it, by keeping it in sour skins, a
strong spirit termed _koumiss_. The _Jakutians_ (a Tartar tribe)
esteem horse-flesh as the greatest possible dainty; they eat raw the
fat of horses and oxen, and drink melted butter with avidity; but
bread is rare. The favourite food of the _Kalmuc Tartars_ is
horse-flesh, eaten raw sometimes, but commonly dried in the sun; dogs,
cats, rats, marmots, and other small animals and vermin are also eaten
by them; but neither vegetables, bread nor fruits; and they drink
koumiss; than which, scarcely any thing can be more disgusting,
except, perhaps, that beverage of the South Sea islanders, prepared by
means of leaves being masticated by a large company, and spit into a
bowl of water. The diet of the _Kamtschatdales_, is chiefly fish,
variously prepared; _huigal_, which is neither more nor less than fish
laid in a pit until _putrid_, is a _luxury_ with this people! They are
fond of caviar, made of roes of fish, and scarcely less disgusting
than huigal. A pound of dry caviar will last a Kamtschatdale on a
journey for a considerable time, since he finds bread to eat with it
in the bark of every birch and elder he meets with. These people boil
the fat of the whale and walrus with roots of _setage_. A principal
dish at their feasts, consists of various roots and berries pounded
with caviar, and mixed with the melted fat of whale and seal. They are
fond of spirits, but commonly drink water. For the _Arabs_, lizards
and locusts, afford food, but with better articles. The _Persians_
live like the Turks, or nearly so, but for the want of spoons, knives,
and forks, their feasts, if the provisions are good in themselves, are
disgusting; besides which, the _sofera_, or cloth on which the dinner
is spread, is, from a superstitious notion that changing is unlucky,
so intolerably dirty and offensive in odour, that the stranger can
scarcely endure to sit beside it. With the _Chinese_, rice is the
"staff of life," but all kinds of animal food are eagerly devoured;
and pedlars offering for sale rats, cats, and dogs, may be seen in the
streets of Chinese towns. It is uncertain whether a depraved taste or
lack of superior animal food, induces a really civilized people to
devour such flesh. Weak tea, without sugar, or milk, is the common
beverage of the Chinese; in the use of ardent spirits they are
moderate. The _Peguese_, worshipping crocodiles, will drink no water
but from the ditches wherein those creatures abound, and consequently
are frequently devoured by them. The _Siamese_, besides a variety of
superior food, eat rats, lizards, and some kinds of insects. The
_Battas_ of Sumatra, prefer _human flesh_ to all other, and speak with
rapture of the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. Warm water is
the usual beverage of the _Manilla_ islanders. The _Japanese_, amongst
other things, drink a kind of beer distilled from rice, and called
_sacki_; it is kept constantly warm, and drunk after every morsel they
eat. Cocoa-nut milk and water, is the common beverage of the natives
of the _New Hebrides_. In _New Caledonia_ so great is the scarcity of
food, that the natives make constant war for the sake of eating their
prisoners, and sometimes, to assuage the cravings of hunger, they bind
ligatures tightly round their bodies and swallow oleaginous earth. The
_New Zealanders_ are cannibals sometimes in a dearth, and to gratify a
spirit of vengeance against their enemies. The _New Hollanders_, near
the sea, subsist on fish eaten raw, or nearly so; should a whale be
cast ashore, it is never abandoned until its bones are picked; their
substitute for bread, and that which forms their chief subsistence, is
a species of fern roasted, pounded between stones, and mixed with
fish. The general beverage of the negro tribes is palm-wine. No
disgust is evinced by the _Bosjesman Hottentots_ at the most nauseous
food, and having shot an animal with a poisoned arrow, their only
precaution, previous to tearing it in pieces and devouring it raw, is
to cut out the envenomed part. Half a dozen Bosjesmans, will eat a fat
sheep in an hour; they use no salt, and seldom drink anything,
probably from the succulent nature of their food. The _Caffres_ live
chiefly on milk; they have no poultry, nor do they eat eggs. When
flesh is boiled, each member of a family helps himself from the kettle
with a pointed stick, and eats it in his hand. Their substitute for
bread, which is made of Caffre-corn, a sort of millet, is the pith of
a palm, indigenous to the country.
The _Lattakoos_ eat, with equal zest, the flesh of elephants,
rhinoceroses, tigers, giraffes, quaggas, &c.; and sometimes, under an
idea that it confers valour, human flesh, of which they have otherwise
great abhorrence. They are very disgusting in their manner of
preparing food. The _Abyssinians_ usually eat the flesh of cattle raw,
and sometimes, although we believe the fact has been much
controverted, immediately as it is cut from the living animals. The
_Bisharye_, a tribe of Bedouin Arabs, eat raw flesh, drink raw sheep's
blood, and esteem the raw marrow of camels their greatest dainty.
The _Patagonians_ eat raw flesh with no regard to cleanliness. The
_Greenlanders_ subsist on fish, seals, and sea-fowls, prepared and
devoured in manners truly disgusting; train-oil is their sauce, and
the blood of seals, their favourite beverage! Some of the _North
American Indians_ diet on the flesh of the sea-dog, parts of the whale
and its fat, and an oil made of the blubber of both of these animals.
Whilst, singular is the contrast, some of the _South American_ tribes,
are able to digest monkeys, blackened in, and dried by fire, to such a
degree of wood-like hardness, as to be rendered capable of keeping, we
dare not say how long.
_Chacun a son gout_, says one proverb, but we trust that the readers
of this paper will, whenever they feel themselves inclined to quarrel
with _English_ fare, pause, and remember, another, viz.:--"A man may
go further and fare worse."
* * * * *
Manners & Customs of all Nations.
* * * * *
Among the records in the Tower of London, is one to the following
effect:--King John gave several lands at Kipperton and Alterton, in
Kent, to Solomon Atlefield to be held by this service:--"That as often
as the King should please to cross the sea, the said Solomon or his
heirs, should be obliged to go with him, to hold his majesty's head if
there be occasion for it;" that is, should his majesty be sea-sick.
And it appears by the record, that this same office of head-holding
was accordingly performed afterwards, in the reign of Edward the
* * * * *
(_For the Mirror_.)
The custom of the manor of Woodford, Essex, is _Borough-English_, by
which the youngest son inherits.
The origin of this custom has been a subject of much dispute; but it
appears to have prevailed greatly among the East Saxons. Dr. Plot
conjectured, that it was introduced by the lord of the manor's
claiming the right of enjoying the bride, daughter of his tenant, on
the wedding-night; therefore the villain or slave, doubting whether
the eldest son was his own, made the youngest his heir. This custom
prevailed among the Ancient Britons before there were either Saxons or
By the laws of succession among the Ancient Britons, a man's land at
his death did not descend to his eldest son, but was equally divided
among all his sons; and when any dispute arose, it was determined by
the Druids. The youngest son, it appears, was more favoured than the
eldest or any of his brothers. "When the brothers have divided their
father's estate, the youngest shall have the best house, with all the
office-houses, the implements of husbandry, his father's kettle, his
axe for cutting wood, and his knife. These three last things the
father cannot give away by gift, nor leave by his last will to any but
his youngest son, and if they are pledged they shall be redeemed."
To account for this law is not very difficult. The elder brothers of a
family were supposed to have left their father's house before his
death, and obtained a house and necessaries of their own; but the
youngest, by reason of his tender age, was considered as more
helpless, and not so well provided. Halbert H.
* * * * *
The dread of storm raisers is universally prevalent amongst the
Italian peasantry, and especially in mountainous districts. A Danish
botanist, journeying alone upon an ass through the mountains of
Abruzzi, was involved in several perilous adventures by this
superstitious terror of the peasantry. They had for some time seen him
collecting plants amongst the unfrequented cliffs and ravines, and
watched his proceedings with suspicious curiosity. A few days later
their district was ravaged by a succession of storms, their suspicions
grew into certainty, and, assembling in considerable numbers, they
attacked the unconscious botanist with a volley of stones, and cursed
him as a storm-raising enchanter. He made vehement protestations of
his innocence, but the enraged peasants took forcible possession of
his collection, which they minutely examined. Finding only some
harmless leaves and blossoms, and no roots, their fury abated, and,
although it was suggested by some that he had probably used the roots
in his incantations, the unfortunate herbalist was at length dismissed
with fierce menaces, that if he dared to take a single root from the
ground, it would cost him his life. In the mountains near Rome, the
peasants regard with suspicion a singular costume, a stern cast of
countenance, or any striking personal formation, in the strangers who
arrive there. All travellers, thus peculiarly marked, are supposed to
be enchanters and treasure-seekers, and the young Germans, in their
black dresses, untrimmed beards, and long hair, are especial objects
of suspicion.--_Blackwood's Magazine_.
* * * * *
The Neapolitan sailors never go to sea without a box of small images
or puppets, some of which are patron saints, inherited from their
progenitors, while others are more modern, but of tried efficacy in
the hour of peril. When a storm overtakes the vessel, the sailors
leave her to her fate, and bring upon deck the box of saints, one of
which is held up, and loudly prayed to for assistance. The storm,
however, increases, and the obstinate or powerless saint is vehemently
abused, and thrown upon the deck. Others are held up, prayed to,
abused, and thrown down in succession, until the heavens become more
propitious. The storm abates, all danger disappears, the saint last
prayed to acquires the reputation of miraculous efficacy, and, after
their return to Naples, is honoured with prayers.--_Ibid._
* * * * *
* * * * *
LENGTH AND FINENESS OF THE SILKWORM'S WEB, &c.
Baker in _The Microscope made Easy_, says, "A silkworm's web being
examined, appeared perfectly smooth and shining, every where equal,
and much finer than any thread the best spinster in the world can
make, as the smallest twine is finer than the thickest cable. A pod of
this silk being wound off, was found to contain 930 yards; but it is
proper to take notice, that as two threads are glewed together by the
worm through its whole length, it makes double the above number, or
1,860 yards; which being weighed with the utmost exactness, were found
no heavier than two grains and a half. What an exquisite fineness is
here! and yet, this is nothing when compared with the web of a small
spider, or even with the silk that issued from the mouth of this very
worm, when but newly hatched from the egg."
Under the article _Silk_, in _Rees's Cyclopaedia_, the writer says,
"that those who have examined it attentively, think they speak within
compass, when they affirm that each ball contains silk enough to reach
the length of _six_ English miles."
Baker tells us, "not to neglect the _skins_ these animals cast off
three times before they begin to spin; for the eyes, mouth, teeth,
ornaments of the head, and many other parts may be discovered better
in the _cast_-off skins than in the real animal."
* * * * *
Mr. Jerdan, editor of the _Literary Gazette_, in a letter to Mr.
Loudon, says, "about fifteen years ago I obtained a cuckoo from the
nest of (I think) a hedge sparrow, at Old Brompton, where I then
resided. It was rather curious, as being within ten yards of my house,
Cromwell Cottage, and in a narrow and much frequented lane, leading
from near Gloucester Lodge to Kensington. This bird I reared and kept
alive till late in January; when it fell suddenly from its perch,
while feeding on a rather large dew worm. It was buried: but I had,
long afterwards, strange misgivings, that my poor feathered favourite
was only choked by his food, or in a fit of some kind--his apparent
death was so extremely unexpected from his health and liveliness at
the time. I assure you that I regretted my loss much, my bird being in
full plumage and a very handsome creature. He was quite tame, for in
autumn I used to set him on a branch of a tree in the garden, while I
dug worms for him to dine upon, and he never attempted more than a
short friendly flight. During the coldest weather, and it was rather a
sharp winter, my only precaution was, nearly to cover his cage with
flannel; and when I used to take it off, more or less, on coming into
my breakfast room in the morning, I was recognised by him with
certainly not all the cry "unpleasant to a married ear," but with its
full half "_Cuck_! _Cuck_!"--the only sounds or notes I ever heard
from my bird. Though trifling, these facts may be so far curious as
illustrating the natural history of a remarkable genus, and I have
great pleasure in offering them for your excellent Journal." _Mag.
* * * * *
As I was sitting in my room, on the first floor, about nine P.M. (4th
of October last), I was surprised with what I supposed to be the notes
of a bird, under or upon the sill of a window. My impression was, that
they somewhat resembled the notes of a wild duck in its nocturnal
flight, and, at times, the twitter of a redbreast, in quick
succession. To be satisfied on the subject, I carefully removed the
shutter, and, to my surprise, found it was a garden snail, which, in
drawing itself along the glass, had produced sounds similar to those
elicited from the musical glasses.--_Ibid_.
* * * * *
In the museum at Newcastle are many of the identical specimens from
which the illustrious townsman Bewick drew his figures for the
wood-cuts which embellish his unique and celebrated work. This truly
amiable man, and, beyond all comparison, greatest genius Newcastle has
ever produced, died on the 8th of November last, in the 76th year of
his age. He continued to the last in the enjoyment of all his
faculties; his single-heartedness and enthusiasm not a jot abated, and
his wonder-working pencil still engaged in tracing, with his wonted
felicity and fidelity, those objects which had all his life afforded
him such delight, and which have charmed, and must continue to charm,
all those who have any relish for the pure and simple beauties of
* * * * *
[Illustration: The Argonaut, or Paper Nautilus.]
Learn of the little Nautilus to sail,
Spread the thin oar, and catch the driving gale.
This species of shell-fish, (see the cut,) is named from _Argonautes_,
the companions of Jason, in the celebrated ship, Argo, and from the
Latin _naus_, a ship; the shells of all the Nautili having the
appearance of a ship with a very high poop. The shell of this
interesting creature is no thicker than paper, and divided into forty
compartments or chambers, through every one of which a portion of its
body passes, connected as it were, by a thread. In the cut it is
represented as sailing, when it expands two of its arms on high, and
between these supports a membrane which serves as a sail, hanging the
two other arms out of its shell, to serve as oars, the office of
steerage being generally served by the tail.
The shell of the Nautilus being exceedingly thin and fragile, the
tenant has many enemies, and among others the Trochus who makes war on
it with unrelenting fury. Pursued by this cruel foe, it ascends to the
top of the water, spreads its little sail to catch the flying breeze,
and rowing with all its might, scuds along, like a galley in
miniature, and often escapes its more cumbrous pursuer. Sometimes,
however, all will not do, the Trochus nears and nears, and escape
appears impossible; but when the little animal, with inexplicable
ingenuity, suddenly and secretly extricates itself from its tortuous
and fragile dwelling, the Trochus immediately turns to other prey. The
Nautilus then returns to tenant and repair its little bark; but it too
often happens, that before he can regain it, it is by a species of
shipwreck, dashed to pieces on the shore. Thus wretchedly situated,
this hero of the testaceous tribe seeks some obscure corner "where to
die," but which seldom, if ever, happens, until after he has made
extraordinary exertions to establish himself anew. What a fine picture
of virtue nobly struggling with misfortune.
When the sea is calm, whole fleets of these Nautili may be seen
diverting themselves; but when a storm rises, or they are disturbed,
they draw in their legs, take in as much water as makes them
specifically heavier, than that in which they float, and then sink to
the bottom. When they rise again they void this water by numerous
holes, of which their legs are full. The other species of Nautilus,
whose shell is thick, never quits that habitation. The shells of both
varieties are exceedingly beautiful when polished, and produce high
prices among Conchologists.
It is easy to conceive that the ingenious habits of this wonderful
creature may have suggested to man the power of sailing upon the sea,
and of the various apparatus by which he effects that object. The
whole creation abounds with similar instances of Nature ministering to
the proud purposes of art: one of them, the origin of the Gothic Arch
from the "high o'erarching groves," is mentioned by Warburton, in his
_Divine Legation_, and is a sublime lesson for besotted man.
 Magazine of Natural History, No.1.
* * * * *
LITERARY NOTICES OF _NEW WORKS_.
* * * * *
[We have abridged one of the most striking chapters in the very
extraordinary history of Vidocq; premising that the interest of the
adventure will compensate for the space it here occupies.]
A short time before the first invasion (1814), M. Senard, one of the
richest jewellers of the Palais Royal, having gone to pay a visit to
his friend the Cure of Livry, found him in one of those perplexities
which are generally caused by the approach of our good friends the
enemy. He was anxious to secrete from the rapacity of the cossacks
first the consecrated vessels, and then his own little treasures.
After much hesitation, although in his situation he must have been
used to interments, Monsieur le Cure decided on burying the objects
which he was anxious to save, and M. Senard, who, like the other
gossips and misers, imagined that Paris would be given over to
pillage, determined to cover up, in a similar way, the most precious
articles in his shop. It was agreed that the riches of the pastor and
those of the jeweller should be deposited in the same hole. But, then,
who was to dig the said hole? One of the singers in church was the
very pearl of honest fellows, father Moiselet, and in him every
confidence could be reposed. He would not touch a penny that did not
belong to him. The hole, made with much skill, was soon ready to
receive the treasure which it was intended to preserve, and six feet
of earth were cast on the specie of the Cure, to which were united
diamonds worth 100,000 crowns, belonging to M. Senard, and enclosed in
a small box. The hollow filled up, the ground was so well flattened,
that one would have betted with the devil that it had not been stirred
since the creation. "This good Moiselet," said M. Senard, rubbing his
hands, "has done it all admirably. Now, gentlemen cossacks, you must
have fine noses if you find it out!" At the end of a few days the
allied armies made further progress, and clouds of Kirguiz, Kalmucs,
and Tartars, of all hordes and all colours, appeared in the environs
of Paris. These unpleasant guests are, it is well known, very greedy
for plunder: they made, every where, great ravages; they passed no
habitation without exacting tribute: but in their ardour for pillage
they did not confine themselves to the surface, all belonged to them
to the centre of the globe; and that they might not be frustrated in
their pretensions, these intrepid geologists made a thousand
excavations, which, to the regret of the naturalists of the country,
proved to them, that in France the mines of gold or silver are not so
deep as in Peru. Such a discovery was well calculated to give them
additional energy; they dug with unparalleled activity, and the spoil
they found in many places of concealment threw the Croesuses of many
cantons into perfect despair. The cursed Cossacks! But yet the
instinct which so surely led them to the spot where treasure was
hidden, did not guide them to the hiding place of the Cure. It was
like the blessing of heaven, each morning the sun rose and nothing
new; nothing new when it set.
Most decidedly the finger of heaven must be recognised in the
impenetrability of the mysterious inhumation performed by Moiselet. M.
Senard was so fully convinced of it, that he actually mingled
thanksgivings with the prayers which he made for the preservation and
repose of his diamonds. Persuaded that his vows would be heard, in
growing security he began to sleep more soundly, when one fine day,
which was, of all days in the week, a Friday, Moiselet, more dead than
alive, ran to the Cure's.
"Ah, sir, I can scarcely speak."
"What's the matter, Moiselet?"
"I dare not tell you. Poor M. le Cure, this affects me deeply, I am
paralyzed. If my veins were open not a drop of blood would flow."
"What is the matter? You alarm me."
"Mercy! I want to learn no more. Oh, what a terrible scourge is war!
Jeanneton, Jeanneton, come quickly, my shoes and hat."
"But, sir, you have not breakfasted."
"Oh, never mind breakfast."
"You know, sir, when you go out fasting you have such spasms----."
"My shoes, I tell you."
"And then you complain of your stomach."
"I shall have no want of a stomach again all my life. Never any
"Ruined--Jesu--Maria! Is it possible? Ah! sir, run then,--run--."
Whilst the Cure dressed himself in haste, and, impatient to buckle the
strap, could scarcely put on his shoes, Moiselet, in a most lamentable
tone, told him what he had seen.
"Are you sure of it?" said the Cure, perhaps they did not take all."
"Ah, sir, God grant it, but I had not courage enough to look."
They went together towards the old barn, when they found that the
spoliation had been complete. Reflecting on the extent of his loss,
the Cure nearly fell to the ground. Moiselet was in a most pitiable
state; the dear man afflicted himself more than if the loss had been
his own. It was terrific to hear his sighs and groans. This was the
result of love to one's neighbour. M. Senard little thought how great
was the desolation at Livry. What was his despair on receiving the
news of the event! In Paris the police is the providence of people who
have lost any thing. The first idea, and the most natural one, that
occurred to M. Senard was, that the robbery had been committed by the
Cossacks, and, in such a case, the police could not avail him
materially; but M. Senard took care not to suspect the Cossacks.
One Monday when I was in the office of M. Henry, I saw one of those
little abrupt, brisk men enter, who, at the first glance, we are
convinced are interested and distrustful: it was M. Senard, who
briefly related his mishap, and concluded by saying, that he had
strong suspicions of Moiselet. M. Henry thought also that he was the
author of the robbery, and I agreed with both. "It is very well," he
said, "but still our opinion is only founded on conjecture, and if
Moiselet keeps his own counsel we shall have no chance of convicting
him. It will be impossible."
"Impossible!" cried M. Senard, "what will become of me? No, no, I
shall not vainly implore your succour. Do not you know all? can you
not do all when you choose? My diamonds! my poor diamonds! I will give
one hundred thousand francs to get them back again."
[Vidocq promises to recover the jewels, and the jeweller offers him
In spite of successive abatements of M. Senard, in proportion as he
believed the discovery probable, I promised to exert every effort in
my power to effect the desired result. But before any thing could be
undertaken, it was necessary that a formal complaint should be made;
and M. Senard and the Cure, thereupon, went to Pontoise, and the
declaration being consequently made, and the robbery stated, Moiselet
was taken up and interrogated. They tried every means to make him
confess his guilt; but he persisted in avowing himself innocent, and,
for lack of proof to the contrary, the charge was about to be dropped
altogether, when to preserve it for a time, I set an agent of mine to
work. He, clothed in a military uniform, with his left arm in a sling,
went with a billet to the house where Moiselet's wife lived. He was
supposed to have just left the hospital, and was only to stay at Livry
for forty-eight hours; but a few moments after his arrival, he had a
fall, and a pretended sprain suddenly occurred, which put it out of
his power to continue his route. It was then indispensable for him to
delay, and the mayor decided that he should remain with the cooper's
wife until further orders.
The cooper's wife was charmed with his many little attentions. The
soldier could write, and became her secretary; but the letters which
she addressed to her dear husband were of a nature not to compromise
her--not the least expression that can have a twofold construction--it
was innocence corresponding with innocence. At length, after a few
day's experience, I was convinced that my agent, in spite of his
talent, would draw no profit from his mission. I then resolved to
manoeuvre in person, and, disguised as a travelling hawker, I began to
visit the environs of Livry. I was one of those Jews who deal in every
thing,--clothes, jewels, &c. &c.; and I took in exchange gold, silver,
jewels, in fact, all that was offered me. An old female robber, who
knew the neighbourhood perfectly, accompanied me in my tour: she was
the widow of a celebrated thief, Germain Boudier, called Father
Latuil, who, after having undergone half-a-dozen sentences, died at
last at Saint Pelagie. I flattered myself that Madame Moiselet,
seduced by her eloquence, and by our merchandize, would bring out the
store of the Cure's crowns, some brilliant of the purest water, nay,
even the chalice or paten, in case the bargain should be to her
liking. My calculation was not verified; the cooper's wife was in no
haste to make a bargain, and her coquetry did not get the better of
The Jew hawker was soon metamorphosed into a German servant; and under
this disguise I began to ramble about the vicinity of Pontoise, with a
design of being apprehended. I sought out the gendarmes, whilst I
pretended to avoid them; but they, thinking I wished to get away from
them, demanded a sight of my papers. Of course I had none, and they
desired me to accompany them to a magistrate, who, knowing nothing of
the jargon in which I replied to his questions, desired to know what
money I had; and a search was forthwith commenced in his presence. My
pockets contained some money and valuables, the possession of which
seemed to astonish him. The magistrate, as curious as a commissary,
wished to know how they came into my hands; and I sent him to the
devil with two or three Teutonic oaths, of the most polished kind; and
he, to teach me better manners another time, sent me to prison.
Once more the iron bolts were drawn upon me. At the moment of my
arrival, the prisoners were playing in the prison yard, and the jailer
introduced me amongst them in these terms, "I bring you a murderer of
the parts of speech; understand him if you can."
They immediately flocked about me, and I was accosted with salutations
of _Landsman_ and _Meinheer_ without end. During this reception, I
looked out for the cooper of Livry.
[He meets with him.]
"Mossie, Mossie," I said, addressing the prisoner, who seemed to think
I said Moiselet, "Mossie Fine Hapit, (not knowing his name, I so
designated him, because his coat was the colour of flesh,) sacrement,
ter teufle, no tongue to me; yer Francois, I miseraple, I trink vine;
faut trink for gelt, plack vine."
I pointed to his hat, which was black; he did not understand me; but
on making a gesture that I wanted to drink, he found me perfectly
intelligible. All the buttons of my great coat were twenty-franc
pieces; I gave him one: he asked if they had brought the wine, and
soon afterwards I heard a turnkey say,
"Father Moiselet, I have taken up two bottles for you." The
flesh-coloured coat was then Moiselet. I followed him into his room,
and we began to drink with all our might. Two other bottles arrived;
we only went on in couples. Moiselet, in his capacity of chorister,
cooper, sexton, &c. &c. was no less a sot than gossip; he got tipsy
with great good-will, and incessantly spoke to me in the jargon I had
Matters progressed well; after two or three hours such as these I
pretended to get stupid. Moiselet, to set me to rights, gave me a cup
of coffee without sugar; after coffee came glasses of water. No one
can conceive the care which my new friend took of me; but when
drunkenness is of such a nature it is like death--all care is useless.
Drunkenness overpowered me. I went to bed and slept; at least Moiselet
thought so; but I saw him many times fill my glass and his own, and
gulp them both down. The next day, when I awoke, he paid me the
balance, three francs and fifty centimes, which, according to him,
remained from the twenty-franc piece. I was an excellent companion;
Moiselet found me so, and never quitted me. I finished the
twenty-franc piece with him, and then produced one of forty francs,
which vanished as quickly. When he saw it drunk out also he feared it
was the last.
"Your button again," said he to me, in a tone of extreme anxiety, and
yet very comical.
I showed him another coin. "Ah, your large button again," he shouted
out, jumping for joy.
This button went the same way as all the other buttons, until at
length, by dint of drinking together, Moiselet understood and spoke my
language almost as well as I did myself, and we could then disclose
our troubles to each other. Moiselet was very curious to know my
history, and that which I trumped up was exactly adapted to inspire
the confidence I wished to create.
"My master and I come to France--I was tomestic--master of mein
Austrian marechal--Austrian with de gelt in family. Master always
roving, always gay, joint regiment at Montreau. Montreau, oh, mein
Gott, great, great pattle--many sleep no more but in death. Napoleon
coom--poum, poum go gannon. Prusse, Austrian, Rousse all disturb. I,
too, much disturb. Go on my ways with master mein, with my havresac on
mein horse--poor teufel was I--but there was gelt in it. Master mein
say, 'Galop, Fritz.' I called Fritz in home mein. Fritz galop to
Pondi--there halt Fritz--place havresac not visible; and if I get
again to Yarmany with havresac, me rich becomen, mistress mein rich,
father mein rich, you too rich."
Although the narrative was not the cleverest in the world, father
Moiselet swallowed it all as gospel; he saw well that during the
battle of Montereau, I had fled with my master's portmanteau, and
hidden it in the forest of Bondy. The confidence did not astonish him,
and had the effect of acquiring for me an increase of his affection.
This augmentation of friendship, after a confession which exposed me
as a thief, proved to me that he had an accommodating conscience. I
thenceforth remained convinced that he knew better than any other
person what had become of the diamonds of M. Senard, and that it only
depended on him to give me full and accurate information.
One evening, after a good dinner, I was boasting to him of the
delicacies of the Rhine: he heaved a deep sigh, and then asked me if
there was good wine in that country.
"Yes, yes," I answered, "goot vine and charming girl."
"Charming girl too!"
"Landsman, shall I go with you."
"Ya, ya, me grat content."
"Ah, you content, well! I quit France, yield the old woman, (he showed
me by his fingers that Madame Moiselet was three-and-thirty,) and in
your land I take little girl no more as fifteen years."
"Ya, bien, a girl no infant: a! you is a brave lad."
Moiselet returned more than once to his project of emigration; he
thought seriously of it, but to emigrate liberty was requisite, and
they were not inclined to let us go out. I suggested to him that he
should escape with me on the first opportunity--and when he had
promised me that we would not separate, not even to take a last adieu
of his wife, I was certain that I should soon have him in my toils.
This certainly was the result of very simple reasoning. Moiselet, said
I to myself, will follow me to Germany: people do not travel or live
on air: he relies on living well there: he is old, and, like king
Solomon, proposes to tickle his fancy with some little Abishag of
Sunem. Oh, father Moiselet has found the _black hen_; here he has no
money, therefore his black hen is not here; but where is she? We shall
soon learn, for we are to be henceforward inseparable.
As soon as my man had made all his reflections, and that, with his
head full of his castles in Germany, he had so soon resolved to
expatriate himself, I addressed to the king's attorney-general a
letter, in which, making myself known as the superior agent of the
Police de Surete, I begged him to give an order that I should be sent
away with Moiselet, he to go to Livry, and I to Paris.
We did not wait long for the order, and the jailer announced it to us,
on the eve of its being put into execution; and I had the night before
me to fortify Moiselet in his resolutions. He persisted in them more
strongly than ever, and acceded with rapture to the proposition I made
him of effecting an escape from our escort as soon as it was feasible.
So anxious was he to commence his journey, that he could not sleep. At
daybreak, I gave him to understand that I took him for a thief as well
"Ah, ah, grip also," said I to him, "deep, deep Francois, you not
spoken, but tief all as von."
He made me no answer; but when, with my fingers squeezed together _a
la Normande_, he saw me make a gesture of grasping something, he could
not prevent himself from smiling, with that bashful expression of
_Yes_, which he had not courage to utter. The hypocrite had some shame
about him, the shame of a devotee. I was understood.
At length the wished-for moment of departure came, which was to enable
us to accomplish our designs. Moiselet was ready three whole hours
beforehand, and to give him courage, I had not neglected to push about
the wine and brandy, and he did not leave the prison until after
having received all his sacraments.
We were tied with a very thin cord, and on our way he made me a signal
that there would be no difficulty in breaking it. He did not think
that he should break the charm which had till then preserved him. The
further we went the more he testified that he placed his hopes of
safety in me; at each minute he reiterated a prayer that I would not
abandon him; and I as often replied, "Ya, Francois, ya, I not leave
you." At length the decisive moment came, the cord was broken. I
leaped a ditch, which separated us from a thicket. Moiselet, who
seemed young again, jumped after me: one of the gendarmes alighted to
follow us, but to run and jump in jack-boots and with a heavy sword
was difficult; and whilst he made a circuit to join us, we disappeared
in a hollow, and were soon lost to view.
A path into which we struck led us to the wood of Vaujours. There
Moiselet stopped, and having looked carefully about him, went towards
some bushes. I saw him then stoop, plunge his arm into a thick tuft,
whence he took out a spade: arising quickly, he went on some paces
without saying a word; and when we reached a birch tree, several of
the boughs of which I observed were broken, he took off his hat and
coat, and began to dig. He went to work with so much good-will, that
his labour rapidly advanced. Suddenly he stooped down, and then
escaped from him that ha! which betokens satisfaction, and which
informed me, without the use of a conjuror's rod, that he had found
his treasure. I thought the cooper would have fainted; but recovering
himself, he made two or three more strokes with his spade, and the box
was exposed to view. I seized on the instrument of his toil, and
suddenly changing my language, declared, in very good French, that he
was my prisoner.
"No resistance," I said, "or I will cleave your skull in two."
At this threat he seemed in a dream; but when he knew that he was
gripped by that iron hand which had subdued the most vigorous
malefactors, he was convinced that it was no vision. Moiselet was as
quiet as a lamb. I had sworn not to leave him, and kept my word.
During the journey to the station of the brigade of gendarmerie, where
I deposited him, he frequently cried out,
"I am done--who could have thought it? and he had such a simple look
At the assizes of Versailles, Moiselet was sentenced to six months'
M. Senard was overpowered with joy at having recovered his hundred
thousand crowns worth of diamonds. Faithful to his system of
abatement, he reduced the reward one-half; and still there was
difficulty in getting five thousand francs from him, out of which I
had been compelled to expend more than two thousand: in fact, at one
moment I really thought I should have been compelled to bear the
* * * * *
SPIRIT OF THE PUBLIC JOURNALS
THE TOYMAN IS ABROAD.
"En fait d'inutilites, il ne faut que le necessaire."
There is no term in political philosophy more ambiguous and lax in its
meaning than Luxury. In Ireland, salt with a potato is, by the
peasant, placed in this category. Among the Cossacks, a clean shirt is
more than a luxury--it is an effeminacy; and a Scotch nobleman is
reported to have declared, that the act of scratching one's self is a
luxury too great for any thing under royalty. The Russians (there is
no disputing on tastes) hold train-oil to be a prime luxury; and I
remember seeing a group of them following an exciseman on the quays at
Dover to plunder the oil casks, as they were successively opened for
his operations. A poor Finland woman, who for her sins had married an
Englishman and followed him to this country, was very glad to avail
herself of her husband's death to leave a land where the people were
so unhappy as to be without a regular supply of seal's flesh for their
dinner. While the good man lived, her affection for him somewhat
balanced her hankering after this native luxury; but no sooner was the
husband dead, than her lawyer-like propensity re-assumed its full
force, and, like Proteus released from his chains, she abandoned
civilized life to get back to her favourite shores, to liberty, and
the animals of her predilection. "If I were rich," said a poor
farmer's boy, "I would eat fat pudding, and ride all day on a gate;"
which was evidently his highest idea of human luxury. But it is less
with the quality of our indulgences, than their extent, that I have
now to treat. Diogenes, who prided himself on cutting his coat
according to his cloth, and thought himself a greater man, in
proportion as he diminished his wants, placed his luxuries in idleness
and sunshine, and seems to have relished these enjoyments with as much
sensuality as Plato did his fine house and delicate fare. Even he was
more reasonable than those sectarians, who have prevailed in almost
all religions, and who, believing that the Deity created man for the
express purpose of inflicting upon him every species of torture, have
inveighed against the most innocent gratifications, and have erected
luxury into a deadly sin. These theologians will not allow a man to
eat his breakfast with a relish; and impute it as a vice if he smacks
his lips, though it be but after a draught of water. Nay, there have
been some who have thought good roots and Adam's ale too great
luxuries for a Christian lawfully to indulge in; and they have
purposely ill-cooked their vegetables, and mixed them with ashes, and
even more disgusting things, to mortify the flesh, as they called
it--i.e. to offer a sacrifice of their natural feelings to the demon
of which they have made a god.
Of late years, more especially, our ideas on this subject have much
enlarged; and all ranks of Englishmen hold an infinity of objects as
prime necessaries, which their more modest ancestors ranked as
luxuries, fit only for their betters to enjoy. This should be a matter
of sincere rejoicing to all true patriots; because it affords
indubitable evidence of the progress of civilization. A civilized
gentleman differs from a savage, principally in the multiplicity of
his wants; and Mandeville, in his fable of the bees, has proved to
demonstration that extravagance is the mother of commerce. What,
indeed, are steam-engines, macadamized roads, man-traps that break no
bones, patent cork-screws, and detonating fowling-pieces, safety
coaches and cork legs, but luxuries, at which a cynic would scoff; yet
how could a modern Englishman get on without them? It is perfectly
true that our Henries and Edwards contrived to beat their enemies
unassisted by these inventions. Books, likewise, which were a luxury
scarcely known to the wisdom of our ancestors, are a luxury now so
indispensable, that there is hardly a mechanic who has not his little
library: while a piano forte also has become as necessary to a
farm-house as a mangle or a frying-pan; and there are actually more
copies printed of "Cherry ripe," than of Tull's husbandry. Is not a
silver fork, moreover, an acknowledged necessary in every decent
establishment? while the barbarous Mussulman dispenses with knives and
forks altogether, and eats his meal, like a savage as he is, with his
fingers. Nor can it be deemed an objection to this hypothesis, that
the Turk, who rejects all the refinements of European civilization,
excepting only gunpowder, esteems four wives to be necessary to a
decent establishment; while the most clear-sighted Englishmen think
one more than enough for enjoyment. The difference is more formal than
Henry the fourth of France had but one coach between himself and his
queen; whereas no respectable person can now dispense at the least
with a travelling chariot, a barouche, a cab, and a dennet.
Civilization, which received a temporary check during the
revolutionary war, has resumed its march in double-quick time since
the Continent has been opened. Champaigne and ices have now become
absolute necessaries at tables where a bottle of humble port and a
supernumerary pudding were esteemed luxuries, fit only for honouring
the more solemn rites of hospitality. I say nothing of heads of hair,
and false (I beg pardon--artificial) teeth; without which, at a
certain age, there is no appearing. A bald head, at the present day,
is as great an indecency as Humphrey Clinker's unmentionables; and a
dismantled mouth is an outrage on well-bred society. Then, again, how
necessary is a cigar and a meerschaum to a well-appointed man of
fashion, and how can a gentleman possibly show at Melton without at
least a dozen hunters, and two or three hacks, to ride to cover! Yet
no one in his senses would tax these things as luxuries; or would
blame his friend for getting into the King's Bench for their
indulgence. Even the most austere judges of the land, and the most
jealous juries of tradesmen, have borne ample testimony to the
reasonableness of this modern extension of the wants of life, by the
liberal allowance of necessaries which they have sanctioned in the
tailors' bills of litigating minors. This liberality, indeed, follows,
as consequence follows cause. Some one has found, or invented, a story
of a shipwrecked traveller's hailing the gallows as the sure token of
a civilized community. But the jest is by no means a _ben trovato_;
the member of gibbets being inversely as the perfection of social
institutions; and if any one object, that England, while it is the
best-governed country in Europe--its envy and admiration--is also a
hanging community _par excellence_, I must beg to remind him of the
intense interest which an English public feels in the victims of
capital punishment, in the Thurtells and the Fauntleroys; as also of
the universal conviction prevailing in England, that the gallows is a
short and sure cut to everlasting happiness. From all this, if there
is any force in logic, we must conclude, that hanging, in this
country, is only applied _honoris causa_, as an ovation, in
consideration of the great and magnanimous daring of the Alexanders
and Caesars on a small scale, to whom the law adjudges the "palmam qui
meruit ferat." The real and true test of a refined polity is not the
gallows; but is to be found rather in such well-imagined insolvent
laws, as discharge a maximum of debt with a minimum of assets; and rid
a gentleman annually of his duns, with the smallest possible quantity
of corporeal inconvenience. When luxuries become necessaries,
insolvency is the best safety-valve to discharge the surplus
dishonesty of the people, which, if pent up, would explode in
dangerous overt acts of crime and violence; and it should be
(_To be concluded in our next_.)
* * * * *
Notes of a Reader.
* * * * *
THE LAST OF THE PLANTAGENETS.
The only notice which occurs of "The Last of the Plantagenets" is,
says the author of a Romance with the above name, in Peck's
"Desiderata Curiosa," where a letter is inserted from Dr. Brett to Dr.
Warren, the president of Trinity Hall, in which he says that, calling
on Lord Winchilsea in 1720, his lordship pointed out to him this entry
in the register of Eastwell--"Anno 1550, Rycharde Plantagenet was
buryed the 22nd daye of December;" beyond this, not a word is known of
him excepting what tradition affords, which, with some slight
variations, for there are two versions of his history, is as
follows:--When Sir Thomas Moyle built Eastwell, he observed that his
principal bricklayer, whenever he quitted his work, retired with a
book, a circumstance which attracted his attention, and on inquiry he
found he was reading Latin: he then told Sir Thomas his secret, which
was, that he was boarded with a Latin schoolmaster, without knowing
who were his relations, until he was fifteen or sixteen; that he was
occasionally visited by a gentleman who provided for his expenses;
that this person one day took him to a fine house where he was
presented to a gentleman handsomely drest, wearing a "star and
garter," who gave him money, and conducted him back to school; that
some time afterwards the same gentleman came to him, and took him into
Leicestershire and to Bosworth Field, when he was carried to king
Richard's tent; that the king embraced him, told him he was his son;
adding, "Child, to-morrow, I must fight for my crown; and assure
yourself, if I lose that, I will lose my life too, but I hope to
preserve both, do you stand in such a place (pointing to the spot)
where you may see the battle, out of danger, and when I have gained
the victory come to me. I will then own you to be mine, and take care
of you: but if I should lose the battle, then shift as well as you
can, and take care to let nobody know that I am your father, for no
mercy will be shown to any one so nearly related to me;" that the king
gave him a purse of gold and dismissed him; that he followed those
directions, and when he saw the battle was lost and the king slain, he
hastened to London, sold his horse and his fine clothes, and the
better to conceal himself from all suspicion of being the son of a
king, and that he might gain a livelihood, he put himself apprentice
to a bricklayer, and generally spent his spare time in reading. Sir
Thomas, finding him very old, is said to have offered him _the run of
his kitchen_, which he declined, on the ground of his patron having a
large family; but asked his permission to build a small house in one
of his fields, and this being granted, he built a cottage, and
continued in it till his death.
* * * * *
We have often been amused with the different wonders of ancient Rome,
but seldom more than with the following piece of antiquarianism
M. Simond, in his Tour in Italy and Sicily, tells us that the Coliseum
is too ruinous--that the Egyptian Museum in the Vatican puts him in
mind of the five wigs in the barber Figaro's shop-window--that the
Apollo Belvidere looks like a broken-backed young gentleman shooting
at a target for the amusement of young ladies. Speaking of the
Etruscan vases, he says, "As to the alleged elegance of form, I should
be inclined to appeal from the present to succeeding generations, when
the transformation of every pitcher, milk-pot and butter-pan, into an
antique shape, has completely burlesqued away the classical feeling,
and restored impartiality to taste."
* * * * *
About six or seven-and-twenty years ago, an effort was made to revive
the fashion of ladies visiting the House of Commons. The late Queen
Caroline, then Princess of Wales, upon one or two occasions made her
appearance, with a female attendant, in the side-gallery. The royal
visit soon became generally known, and several other females were
tempted to follow the example. Among these was Mrs. Sheridan, the wife
of the late Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan; but this lady,
considering herself an intruder, to whose presence, if known,
exception might be taken, thought fit to disguise her person in male
attire. Her fine dark hair was combed smooth on her forehead, and made
to sit close, in good puritanical trim, while a long, loose, brown
coat concealed her feminine proportions. Thus prepared, she took her
seat in the Strangers' Gallery, anxious to witness a display of her
husband's eloquence; but he did not speak, and the debate proved
without any interest. The female aspirants whose taste was thus
excited, were, however, confined to a few blue-stocking belles,
without influence to set the fashion; and the attempt did not succeed.
* * * * *
The buildings of Mocha are so white, that it seems as if excavated
from a quarry of marble; and this whiteness of the town forms a
curious contrast with the blueness of the sea. The materials, however,
of which Mocha is constructed, are nothing better than unburnt bricks,
plastered over, and whitewashed. The coffee bean is cultivated in the
interior, and is thence brought to Mocha for exportation. The Arabs
themselves use the husks, which make but an inferior infusion.
Vegetables are grown round the town, and fruits are brought from
Senna; while grain, horses, asses, and sheep, are imported from
Abyssinia. There are twelve schools in the town; and, inland, near
Senna, there are colleges, in which the twelve branches of Mohomedan
sciences are taught, as is usual in Turkey and India. Arab women marry
about the age of sixteen; they are allowed great liberty in visiting
one another, and can divorce their husbands on very slight grounds.
Every lady who pays a visit, carries a small bag of coffee with her,
which enables "her to enjoy society without putting her friends to
expense."--_Lushington's Journey from Calcutta to Europe._
* * * * *
ENGLISH AND FOREIGN NEWSPAPERS.
Every one acquainted with the public press of Europe, must have
observed the contrast which a London Newspaper forms with the journals
of every other capital in Europe. The foreign journals never break in
upon the privacy of domestic life. There the fame of parties and
dinners is confined to the rooms which constitute their scene, and the
names of the individuals who partake of them never travel out of their
own circle. How widely different is the practice of the London
Journals! A lady of fashion can find no place so secret where she can
hide herself from their search. They follow her from town to country,
from the country to the town. They trace her from the breakfast-table
to the Park, from the Park to the dinner-table, from thence to the
Opera or the ball, and from her boudoir to her bed. They trace her
every where. She may make as many doubles as a hare, but they are all
in vain; it is impossible to escape pursuit; and yet the introduction
of female names into the daily newspapers, now so common, is only of
The late Sir Henry Dudley Bate, editor of _The Morning Herald_, was
the first person who introduced females into the columns of a
newspaper. He was at the time editor of _The Morning Post_.-- _New
* * * * *
A snapper up of unconsidered trifles.
* * * * *
REFLECTION IN A FLOWER GARDEN.
I hate the flower whose wanton breast
Awaits the sun at morn and noon,
And when he's hid behind the west,
As gaily flaunteth with the moon.
Mine be the flower of virgin leaf,
That when its sire has left the plain,
Wraps up its charms in silent grief,
Nor ope's them till he comes again.
 There be some flowers that do remain quite unclosed, during
not only the day, but during also the night. There be others
which do likewise open during the day, albeit when night
cometh, they close themselves up until the sun do appear,
when they again ope their beautifulness.--_Old Botanist_.
* * * * *
A "THIN NIGHT" AT VAUXHALL.
There were fewer audience than performers, and those made up of
fellows evidently not in the habit of shirt-wearing; of women there
were very few-- of ladies none; the fireworks were bad and brief, and
the waterworks the most absurd affair I ever beheld; the thing was
overdone. To the people who would like to go to Vauxhall in fine
weather, second-rate Italian singing and broken down English prima
donnas are no inducement, a bad ballet in a booth has no attraction,
and an attempt at variety mars the whole affair. Vauxhall is a
delightful place to go to in fine weather with a pleasant party; give
us space to walk, light up that space, and shelter us from the
elements, set the military bands to play popular airs, and we ask no
more for our four or five shillings, or whatever it is; but the moment
tumbling is established in various parts of the garden, and the whole
thing is made a sort of Bartholomew Fair, the object of breathing a
little fresher air, and hearing ourselves talk is ended; crowds of
raffs in boots and white neckcloths attended by their dowdy damsels
and waddling wives, rush from one place to another, helter skelter,
knocking over the few quiet people to whom the "sights" are a novelty;
turning what in the days of the late Lady Castlereagh, the present
Duchess of Bedford, the first Duchess of Devonshire, and the last
Duchess of Gordon (but one) was a delightful reunion of fashion, into
a tea-garden (without tea) or a bear-garden--not without
* * * * *
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE AND LORD NOEL BYRON.
It is a singular coincidence, not unworthy of remark, that the
initials of two of the most singular men of their own, and perhaps of
any age, the Emperor Napoleon of France, and Lord Noel Byron of
England, used the same letters as an abbreviation of their name, N.B.
which likewise denotes _Nota Bene_. It was not the habit of either to
affix his name to letters, but merely N.B.--R.W.
* * * * *
LIMBIRD'S EDITION OF THE _FOLLOWING NOVELS IS ALREADY PUBLISHED_:
Mackenzie's Man of Feeling 0 6
Paul and Virginia 0 6
The Castle of Otranto 0 6
Almoran and Hamet 0 6
Elizabeth, or the Exiles of Siberia 0 6
The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne 0 6
Rasselas 0 8
The Old English Baron 0 8
Nature and Art 0 8
Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield 0 10
Sicilian Romance 0 10
The Man of the World 1 0
A Simple Story 1 4
Joseph Andrews 1 6
Humphry Clinker 1 8
The Romance of the Forest 1 8
The Italian 2 0
Zeluco, by Dr. Moore 2 6
Edward, by Dr. Moore 2 6
Roderick Random 2 6
The Mysteries of Udolpho 3 6
Peregrine Pickle 4 6
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