The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Volume 2
Charles Lamb

Part 3 out of 11

silver warblings by, for flocks to pasture and be led to fold by. The
shepherd "carved it out quaintly in the sun;" and, turning philosopher
by the very occupation, provided it with mottos more touching than
tombstones. It was a pretty device of the gardener, recorded by
Marvell, who, in the days of artificial gardening, made a dial out of
herbs and flowers. I must quote his verses a little higher up, for
they are full, as all his serious poetry was, of a witty delicacy.
They will not come in awkwardly, I hope, in a talk of fountains and
sun-dials. He is speaking of sweet garden scenes:

What wondrous life in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head.
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine.
The nectarine, and curious peach,
Into my hands themselves do reach.
Stumbling on melons, as I pass,
Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.
Meanwhile the mind from pleasure less
Withdraws into its happiness.
The mind, that ocean, where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.
Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide:
There, like a bird, it sits and sings,
Then whets and claps its silver wings;
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.
How well the skilful gardener drew,
Of flowers and herbs, this dial new!
Where, from above, the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run:
And, as it works, the industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckon'd, but with herbs and flowers?[1]

The artificial fountains of the metropolis are, in like manner, fast
vanishing. Most of them are dried up, or bricked over. Yet, where one
is left, as in that little green nook behind the South-Sea House,
what a freshness it gives to the dreary pile! Four little winged
marble boys used to play their virgin fancies, spouting out ever
fresh streams from their innocent-wanton lips, in the square of
Lincoln's-inn, when I was no bigger than they were figured. They are
gone, and the spring choked up. The fashion, they tell me, is gone by,
and these things are esteemed childish. Why not then gratify children,
by letting them stand? Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. They
are awakening images to them at least. Why must every thing smack of
man, and mannish? Is the world all grown up? Is childhood dead? Or is
there not in the bosoms of the wisest and the best some of the child's
heart left, to respond to its earliest enchantments? The figures were
grotesque. Are the stiff-wigged living figures, that still flitter and
chatter about that area, less gothic in appearance? or is the splutter
of their hot rhetoric one half so refreshing and innocent as the
little cool playful streams those exploded cherubs uttered?

They have lately gothicised the entrance to the Inner Temple-hall, and
the library front, to assimilate them, I suppose, to the body of the
hall, which they do not at all resemble. What is become of the winged
horse that stood over the former? a stately arms! and who has removed
those frescoes of the Virtues, which Italianized the end of the
Paper-buildings?--my first hint of allegory! They must account to me
for these things, which I miss so greatly.

The terrace is, indeed, left, which we used to call the parade; but
the traces are passed away of the footsteps which made its pavement
awful! It is become common and profane. The old benchers had it almost
sacred to themselves, in the forepart of the day at least. They might
not be sided or jostled. Their air and dress asserted the parade.
You left wide spaces betwixt you, when you passed them. We walk on
even terms with their successors. The roguish eye of J----ll, ever
ready to be delivered of a jest, almost invites a stranger to vie
a repartee with it. But what insolent familiar durst have mated
Thomas Coventry?--whose person was a quadrate, his step massy and
elephantine, his face square as the lion's, his gait peremptory and
path-keeping, indivertible from his way as a moving column, the
scarecrow of his inferiors, the brow-beater of equals and superiors,
who made a solitude of children wherever he came, for they fled his
insufferable presence, as they would have shunned an Elisha bear. His
growl was as thunder in their ears, whether he spake to them in mirth
or in rebuke, his invitatory notes being, indeed, of all, the most
repulsive and horrid. Clouds of snuff, aggravating the natural terrors
of his speech, broke from each majestic nostril, darkening the air. He
took it, not by pinches, but a palmful at once, diving for it under
the mighty flaps of his old-fashioned waistcoat pocket; his waistcoat
red and angry, his coat dark rappee, tinctured by dye original, and by
adjuncts, with buttons of obsolete gold. And so he paced the terrace.

By his side a milder form was sometimes to be seen; the pensive
gentility of Samuel Salt. They were coevals, and had nothing but
that and their benchership in common. In politics Salt was a whig,
and Coventry a staunch tory. Many a sarcastic growl did the latter
cast out--for Coventry had a rough spinous humour--at the political
confederates of his associate, which rebounded from the gentle bosom
of the latter like cannon-balls from wool. You could not ruffle Samuel

S. had the reputation of being a very clever man, and of excellent
discernment in the chamber practice of the law. I suspect his
knowledge did not amount to much. When a case of difficult disposition
of money, testamentary or otherwise, came before him, he ordinarily
handed it over with a few instructions to his man Lovel, who was
a quick little fellow, and would despatch it out of hand by the
light of natural understanding, of which he had an uncommon share.
It was incredible what repute for talents S. enjoyed by the mere
trick of gravity. He was a shy man; a child might pose him in a
minute--indolent and procrastinating to the last degree. Yet men would
give him credit for vast application in spite of himself. He was not
to be trusted with himself with impunity. He never dressed for a
dinner party but he forgot his sword--they wore swords then--or some
other necessary part of his equipage. Lovel had his eye upon him on
all these occasions, and ordinarily gave him his cue. If there was
anything which he could speak unseasonably, he was sure to do it.--He
was to dine at a relative's of the unfortunate Miss Blandy on the day
of her execution;--and L. who had a wary foresight of his probable
hallucinations, before he set out, schooled him with great anxiety not
in any possible manner to allude to her story that day. S. promised
faithfully to observe the injunction. He had not been seated in the
parlour, where the company was expecting the dinner summons, four
minutes, when, a pause in the conversation ensuing, he got up, looked
out of window, and pulling down his ruffles--an ordinary motion with
him--observed, "it was a gloomy day," and added, "Miss Blandy must
be hanged by this time, I suppose." Instances of this sort were
perpetual. Yet S. was thought by some of the greatest men of his time
a fit person to be consulted, not alone in matters pertaining to the
law, but in the ordinary niceties and embarrassments of conduct--from
force of manner entirely. He never laughed. He had the same good
fortune among the female world,--was a known toast with the ladies,
and one or two are said to have died for love of him--I suppose,
because he never trifled or talked gallantry with them, or paid them,
indeed, hardly common attentions. He had a fine face and person, but
wanted, methought, the spirit that should have shown them off with
advantage to the women. His eye lacked lustre.--Not so, thought Susan
P----; who, at the advanced age of sixty, was seen, in the cold
evening time, unaccompanied, wetting the pavement of B----d Row, with
tears that fell in drops which might be heard, because her friend had
died that day--he, whom she had pursued with a hopeless passion for
the last forty years--a passion, which years could not extinguish or
abate; nor the long resolved, yet gently enforced, puttings off of
unrelenting bachelorhood dissuade from its cherished purpose. Mild
Susan P----, thou hast now thy friend in heaven!

Thomas Coventry was a cadet of the noble family of that name. He
passed his youth in contracted circumstances, which gave him early
those parsimonious habits which in after-life never forsook him; so
that, with one windfall or another, about the time I knew him he was
master of four or five hundred thousand pounds; nor did he look,
or walk, worth a moidore less. He lived in a gloomy house opposite
the pump in Serjeant's-inn, Fleet-street. J., the counsel, is doing
self-imposed penance in it, for what reason I divine not, at this day.
C. had an agreeable seat at North Cray, where he seldom spent above
a day or two at a time in the summer; but preferred, during the hot
months, standing at his window in this damp, close, well-like mansion,
to watch, as he said, "the maids drawing water all day long." I
suspect he had his within-door reasons for the preference. _Hic currus
et arma fuere_. He might think his treasures more safe. His house had
the aspect of a strong box. C. was a close hunks--a hoarder rather
than a miser--or, if a miser, none of the mad Elwes breed, who have
brought discredit upon a character, which cannot exist without certain
admirable points of steadiness and unity of purpose. One may hate a
true miser, but cannot, I suspect, so easily despise him. By taking
care of the pence, he is often enabled to part with the pounds,
upon a scale that leaves us careless generous fellows halting at an
immeasurable distance behind. C. gave away 30,000_l_. at once in his
life-time to a blind charity. His house-keeping was severely looked
after, but he kept the table of a gentleman. He would know who came
in and who went out of his house, but his kitchen chimney was never
suffered to freeze.

Salt was his opposite in this, as in all--never knew what he was worth
in the world; and having but a competency for his rank, which his
indolent habits were little calculated to improve, might have suffered
severely if he had not had honest people about him. Lovel took care of
every thing. He was at once his clerk, his good servant, his dresser,
his friend, his "flapper," his guide, stop-watch, auditor, treasurer.
He did nothing without consulting Lovel, or failed in any thing
without expecting and fearing his admonishing. He put himself almost
too much in his hands, had they not been the purest in the world. He
resigned his title almost to respect as a master, if L. could ever
have forgotten for a moment that he was a servant.

I knew this Lovel. He was a man of an incorrigible and losing honesty.
A good fellow withal, and "would strike." In the cause of the
oppressed he never considered inequalities, or calculated the number
of his opponents. He once wrested a sword out of the hand of a man of
quality that had drawn upon him; and pommelled him severely with the
hilt of it. The swordsman had offered insult to a female--an occasion
upon which no odds against him could have prevented the interference
of Lovel. He would stand next day bare-headed to the same person,
modestly to excuse his interference--for L. never forgot rank, where
something better was not concerned. L. was the liveliest little fellow
breathing, had a face as gay as Garrick's, whom he was said greatly
to resemble (I have a portrait of him which confirms it), possessed a
fine turn for humorous poetry--next to Swift and Prior--moulded heads
in clay or plaster of Paris to admiration, by the dint of natural
genius merely; turned cribbage boards, and such small cabinet toys,
to perfection; took a hand at quadrille or bowls with equal facility;
made punch better than any man of his degree in England; had the
merriest quips and conceits, and was altogether as brimful of
rogueries and inventions as you could desire. He was a brother of the
angle, moreover, and just such a free, hearty, honest companion as Mr.
Isaac Walton would have chosen to go a fishing with. I saw him in his
old age and the decay of his faculties, palsy-smitten, in the last sad
stage of human weakness--"a remnant most forlorn of what he was,"--yet
even then his eye would light up upon the mention of his favourite
Garrick. He was greatest, he would say, in Bayes--"was upon the stage
nearly throughout the whole performance, and as busy as a bee." At
intervals, too, he would speak of his former life, and how he came up
a little boy from Lincoln to go to service, and how his mother cried
at parting with him, and how he returned, after some few years'
absence, in his smart new livery to see her, and she blessed herself
at the change, and could hardly be brought to believe that it was "her
own bairn." And then, the excitement subsiding, he would weep, till I
have wished that sad second-childhood might have a mother still to lay
its head upon her lap. But the common mother of us all in no long time
after received him gently into hers.

With Coventry, and with Salt, in their walks upon the terrace, most
commonly Peter Pierson would join, to make up a third. They did not
walk linked arm in arm in those days--"as now our stout triumvirs
sweep the streets,"--but generally with both hands folded behind them
for state, or with one at least behind, the other carrying a cane.
P. was a benevolent, but not a pre-possessing man. He had that in
his face which you could not term unhappiness; it rather implied
an incapacity of being happy. His cheeks were colourless, even to
whiteness. His look was uninviting, resembling (but without his
sourness) that of our great philanthropist. I know that he _did_ good
acts, but I could never make out what _he_ was. Contemporary with
these, but subordinate, was Daines Barrington--another oddity--he
walked burly and square--in imitation, I think, of Coventry--howbeit
he attained not to the dignity of his prototype. Nevertheless, he
did pretty well, upon the strength of being a tolerable antiquarian,
and having a brother a bishop. When the account of his year's
treasurership came to be audited, the following singular charge was
unanimously disallowed by the bench: "Item, disbursed Mr. Allen, the
gardener, twenty shillings, for stuff to poison the sparrows, by my
orders." Next to him was old Barton--a jolly negation, who took upon
him the ordering of the bills of fare for the parliament chamber,
where the benchers dine--answering to the combination rooms at
college--much to the easement of his less epicurean brethren. I know
nothing more of him.--Then Read, and Twopenny--Read, good-humoured
and personable--Twopenny, good-humoured, but thin, and felicitous in
jests upon his own figure. If T. was thin, Wharry was attenuated and
fleeting. Many must remember him (for he was rather of later date)
and his singular gait, which was performed by three steps and a jump
regularly succeeding. The steps were little efforts, like that of a
child beginning to walk; the jump comparatively vigorous, as a foot to
an inch. Where he learned this figure, or what occasioned it, I could
never discover. It was neither graceful in itself, nor seemed to
answer the purpose any better than common walking. The extreme tenuity
of his frame, I suspect, set him upon it. It was a trial of poising.
Twopenny would often rally him upon his leanness, and hail him as
Brother Lusty; but W. had no relish of a joke. His features were
spiteful. I have heard that he would pinch his cat's ears extremely,
when any thing had offended him. Jackson--the omniscient Jackson he
was called--was of this period. He had the reputation of possessing
more multifarious knowledge than any man of his time. He was the
Friar Bacon of the less literate portion of the Temple. I remember a
pleasant passage, of the cook applying to him, with much formality of
apology, for instructions how to write down _edge_ bone of beef in his
bill of commons. He was supposed to know, if any man in the world did.
He decided the orthography to be--as I have given it--fortifying his
authority with such anatomical reasons as dismissed the manciple (for
the time) learned and happy. Some do spell it yet perversely, _aitch_
bone, from a fanciful resemblance between its shape, and that of the
aspirate so denominated. I had almost forgotten Mingay with the iron
hand--but he was somewhat later. He had lost his right hand by some
accident, and supplied it with a grappling hook, which he wielded
with a tolerable adroitness. I detected the substitute, before I was
old enough to reason whether it were artificial or not. I remember
the astonishment it raised in me. He was a blustering, loud-talking
person; and I reconciled the phenomenon to my ideas as an emblem of
power--somewhat like the horns in the forehead of Michael Angelo's
Moses. Baron Maseres, who walks (or did till very lately) in the
costume of the reign of George the Second, closes my imperfect
recollections of the old benchers of the Inner Temple.

Fantastic forms, whither are ye fled? Or, if the like of you exist,
why exist they no more for me? Ye inexplicable, half-understood
appearances, why comes in reason to tear away the preternatural mist,
bright or gloomy, that enshrouded you? Why make ye so sorry a figure
in my relation, who made up to me--to my childish eyes--the mythology
of the Temple? In those days I saw Gods, as "old men covered with a
mantle," walking upon the earth. Let the dreams of classic idolatry
perish,--extinct be the fairies and fairy trumpery of legendary
fabling,--in the heart of childhood, there will, for ever, spring up a
well of innocent or wholesome superstition--the seeds of exaggeration
will be busy there, and vital--from every-day forms educing the
unknown and the uncommon. In that little Goshen there will be light,
when the grown world flounders about in the darkness of sense and
materiality. While childhood, and while dreams, reducing childhood,
shall be left, imagination shall not have spread her holy wings
totally to fly the earth.

* * * * *

P.S. I have done injustice to the soft shade of Samuel Salt. See
what it is to trust to imperfect memory, and the erring notices of
childhood! Yet I protest I always thought that he had been a bachelor!
This gentleman, R.N. informs me, married young, and losing his lady
in child-bed, within the first year of their union, fell into a deep
melancholy, from the effects of which, probably, he never thoroughly
recovered. In what a new light does this place his rejection (O
call it by a gentler name!) of mild Susan P----, unravelling
into beauty certain peculiarities of this very shy and retiring
character!--Henceforth let no one receive the narratives of Elia for
true records! They are, in truth, but shadows of fact-verisimilitudes,
not verities--or sitting but upon the remote edges and outskirts of
history. He is no such honest chronicler as R.N., and would have done
better perhaps to have consulted that gentleman, before he sent these
incondite reminiscences to press. But the worthy sub-treasurer--who
respects his old and his new masters--would but have been puzzled
at the indecorous liberties of Elia. The good man wots not,
peradventure, of the license which _Magazines_ have arrived at in this
plain-speaking age, or hardly dreams of their existence beyond the
_Gentleman's_--his furthest monthly excursions in this nature having
been long confined to the holy ground of honest _Urban's_ obituary.
May it be long before his own name shall help to swell those columns
of unenvied flattery!--Meantime, O ye New Benchers of the Inner
Temple, cherish him kindly, for he is himself the kindliest of human
creatures. Should infirmities over-take him--he is yet in green and
vigorous senility--make allowances for them, remembering that "ye
yourselves are old." So may the Winged Horse, your ancient badge
and cognisance, still flourish! so may future Hookers and Seldens
illustrate your church and chambers! so may the sparrows, in default
of more melodious quiristers, unpoisoned hop about your walks! so may
the fresh-coloured and cleanly nursery maid, who, by leave, airs her
playful charge in your stately gardens, drop her prettiest blushing
curtsy as ye pass, reductive of juvenescent emotion! so may the
younkers of this generation eye you, pacing your stately terrace, with
the same superstitious veneration, with which the child Elia gazed on
the Old Worthies that solemnized the parade before ye!

[Footnote 1: From a copy of verses entitled The Garden.]


The custom of saying grace at meals had, probably, its origin in the
early times of the world, and the hunter-state of man, when dinners
were precarious things, and a full meal was something more than a
common blessing; when a belly-full was a windfall, and looked like
a special providence. In the shouts and triumphal songs with which,
after a season of sharp abstinence, a lucky booty of deer's or goat's
flesh would naturally be ushered home, existed, perhaps, the germ of
the modern grace. It is not otherwise easy to be understood, why the
blessing of food--the act of eating--should have had a particular
expression of thanksgiving annexed to it, distinct from that implied
and silent gratitude with which we are expected to enter upon
the enjoyment of the many other various gifts and good things of

I own that I am disposed to say grace upon twenty other occasions in
the course of the day besides my dinner. I want a form for setting out
upon a pleasant walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a friendly meeting,
or a solved problem. Why have we none for books, those spiritual
repasts--a grace before Milton--a grace before Shakspeare--a
devotional exercise proper to be said before reading the Fairy
Queen?--but, the received ritual having prescribed these forms to the
solitary ceremony of manducation, I shall confine my observations to
the experience which I have had of the grace, properly so called;
commending my new scheme for extension to a niche in the grand
philosophical, poetical, and perchance in part heretical, liturgy, now
compiling by my friend Homo Humanus, for the use of a certain snug
congregation of Utopian Rabelaesian Christians, no matter where

The form then of the benediction before eating has its beauty at
a poor man's table, or at the simple and unprovocative repasts of
children. It is here that the grace becomes exceedingly graceful.
The indigent man, who hardly knows whether he shall have a meal the
next day or not, sits down to his fare with a present sense of the
blessing, which can be but feebly acted by the rich, into whose
minds the conception of wanting a dinner could never, but by some
extreme theory, have entered. The proper end of food--the animal
sustenance--is barely contemplated by them. The poor man's bread is
his daily bread, literally his bread for the day. Their courses are

Again, the plainest diet seems the fittest to be preceded by the
grace. That which is least stimulative to appetite, leaves the mind
most free for foreign considerations. A man may feel thankful,
heartily thankful, over a dish of plain mutton with turnips, and have
leisure to reflect upon the ordinance and institution of eating;
when he shall confess a perturbation o f mind, inconsistent with the
purposes of the grace, at the presence of venison or turtle. When I
have sate (a _rarus hospes_) at rich men's tables, with the savoury
soup and messes steaming up the nostrils, and moistening the lips
of the guests with desire and a distracted choice, I have felt the
introduction of that ceremony to be unseasonable. With the ravenous
orgasm upon you, it seems impertinent to interpose a religious
sentiment. It is a confusion of purpose to mutter out praises from a
mouth that waters. The heats of epicurism put out the gentle flame of
devotion. The incense which rises round is pagan, and the belly-god
intercepts it for his own. The very excess of the provision beyond the
needs, takes away all sense of proportion between the end and means.
The giver is veiled by his gifts. You are startled at the injustice
of returning thanks--for what?--for having too much, while so many
starve. It is to praise the Gods amiss.

I have observed this awkwardness felt, scarce consciously perhaps,
by the good man who says the grace. I have seen it in clergymen and
others--a sort of shame--a sense of the co-presence of circumstances
which unhallow the blessing. After a devotional tone put on for a few
seconds, how rapidly the speaker will fall into his common voice,
helping himself or his neighbour, as if to get rid of some uneasy
sensation of hypocrisy. Not that the good man was a hypocrite, or was
not most conscientious in the discharge of the duty; but he felt in
his inmost mind the incompatibility of the scene and the viands before
him with the exercise of a calm and rational gratitude.

I hear somebody exclaim,--Would you have Christians sit down at table,
like hogs to their troughs, without remembering the Giver?--no--I
would have them sit down as Christians, remembering the Giver,
and less like hogs. Or if their appetites must run riot, and they
must pamper themselves with delicacies for which east and west are
ransacked, I would have them postpone their benediction to a fitter
season, when appetite is laid; when the still small voice can be
heard, and the reason of the grace returns--with temperate diet and
restricted dishes. Gluttony and surfeiting are no proper occasions for
thanksgiving. When Jeshurun waxed fat, we read that he kicked. Virgil
knew the harpy-nature better, when he put into the mouth of Celasno
any thing but a blessing. We may be gratefully sensible of the
deliciousness of some kinds of food beyond others, though that is a
meaner and inferior gratitude: but the proper object of the grace is
sustenance, not relishes; daily bread, not delicacies; the means of
life, and not the means of pampering the carcass. With what frame or
composure, I wonder, can a city chaplain pronounce his benediction
at some great Hall feast, when he knows that his last concluding
pious word--and that, in all probability, the sacred name which he
preaches--is but the signal for so many impatient harpies to commence
their foul orgies, with as little sense of true thankfulness (which
is temperance) as those Virgilian fowl! It is well if the good man
himself does not feel his devotions a little clouded, those foggy
sensuous steams mingling with and polluting the pure altar sacrifice.

The severest satire upon full tables and surfeits is the banquet which
Satan, in the Paradise Regained, provides for a temptation in the

A table richly spread in regal mode,
With dishes piled, and meats of noblest sort
And savour; beasts of chase, or fowl of game,
In pastry built, or from the spit, or boiled,
Gris-amber-steamed; all fish from sea or shore,
Freshet or purling brook, for which was drained
Pontus, and Lucrine bay, and Afric coast.

The Tempter, I warrant you, thought these cates would go down without
the recommendatory preface of a benediction. They are like to be short
graces where the devil plays the host.--I am afraid the poet wants his
usual decorum in this place. Was he thinking of the old Roman luxury,
or of a gaudy day at Cambridge? This was a temptation fitter for a
Heliogabalus. The whole banquet is too civic and culinary, and the
accompaniments altogether a profanation of that deep, abstracted, holy
scene. The mighty artillery of sauces, which the cook-fiend conjures
up, is out of proportion to the simple wants and plain hunger of the
guest. He that disturbed him in his dreams, from his dreams might have
been taught better. To the temperate fantasies of the famished Son of
God, what sort of feasts presented themselves?--He dreamed indeed,

--As appetite is wont to dream,
Of meats and drinks, nature's refreshment sweet.

But what meats?--

Him thought, he by the brook of Cherith stood,
And saw the ravens with their horny beaks
Food to Elijah bringing, even and morn;
Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they brought:
He saw the prophet also how he fled
Into the desert, and how there he slept
Under a juniper; then how awaked
He found his supper on the coals prepared,
And by the angel was bid rise and eat,
And ate the second time after repose,
The strength whereof sufficed him forty days:
Sometimes, that with Elijah he partook,
Or as a guest with Daniel at his pulse.

Nothing in Milton is finelier fancied than these temperate dreams of
the divine Hungerer. To which of these two visionary banquets, think
you, would the introduction of what is called the grace have been most
fitting and pertinent?

Theoretically I am no enemy to graces; but practically I own that
(before meat especially) they seem to involve something awkward and
unseasonable. Our appetites, of one or another kind, are excellent
spurs to our reason, which might otherwise but feebly set about the
great ends of preserving and continuing the species. They are fit
blessings to be contemplated at a distance with a becoming gratitude;
but the moment of appetite (the judicious reader will apprehend me)
is, perhaps, the least fit season for that exercise. The Quakers who
go about their business, of every description, with more calmness
than we, have more title to the use of these benedictory prefaces. I
have always admired their silent grace, and the more because I have
observed their applications to the meat and drink following to be
less passionate and sensual than ours. They are neither gluttons nor
wine-bibbers as a people. They eat, as a horse bolts his chopt hay,
with indifference, calmness, and cleanly circumstances. They neither
grease nor slop themselves. When I see a citizen in his bib and
tucker, I cannot imagine it a surplice.

I am no Quaker at my food. I confess I am not indifferent to the
kinds of it. Those unctuous morsels of deer's flesh were not made to
be received with dispassionate services. I hate a man who swallows
it, affecting not to know what he is eating. I suspect his taste in
higher matters. I shrink instinctively from one who professes to
like minced veal. There is a physiognomical character in the tastes
for food. C---- holds that a man cannot have a pure mind who refuses
apple-dumplings. I am not certain but he is right. With the decay of
my first innocence, I confess a less and less relish daily for those
innocuous cates. The whole vegetable tribe have lost their gust with
me. Only I stick to asparagus, which still seems to inspire gentle
thoughts. I am impatient and querulous under culinary disappointments,
as to come home at the dinner hour, for instance, expecting some
savoury mess, and to find one quite tasteless and sapidless. Butter
ill melted--that commonest of kitchen failures--puts me beside my
tenour.--The author of the Rambler used to make inarticulate animal
noises over a favourite food. Was this the music quite proper to
be preceded by the grace? or would the pious man have done better
to postpone his devotions to a season when the blessing plight be
contemplated with less perturbation? I quarrel with no man's tastes,
nor would set my thin face against those excellent things, in their
way, jollity and feasting. But as these exercises, however laudable,
have little in them of grace or gracefulness, a man should be sure,
before he ventures so to grace them, that while he is pretending his
devotions otherwhere, he is not secretly kissing his hand to some
great fish--his Dagon--with a special consecration of no ark but the
fat tureen before him. Graces are the sweet preluding strains to the
banquets of angels and children; to the roots and severer repasts
of the Chartreuse; to the slender, but not slenderly acknowledged,
refection of the poor and humble man: but at the heaped-up boards of
the pampered and the luxurious they become of dissonant mood, less
timed and tuned to the occasion, methinks, than the noise of those
better befitting organs would be, which children hear tales of, at
Hog's Norton. We sit too long at our meals, or are too curious in
the study of them, or too disordered in our application to them, or
engross too great a portion of those good things (which should be
common) to our share, to be able with any grace to say grace. To
be thankful for what we grasp exceeding our proportion is to add
hypocrisy to injustice. A lurking sense of this truth is what makes
the performance of this duty so cold and spiritless a service at most
tables. In houses where the grace is as indispensable as the napkin,
who has not seen that never settled question arise, as to _who shall
say it_; while the good man of the house and the visitor clergyman, or
some other guest belike of next authority from years or gravity, shall
be bandying about the office between them as a matter of compliment,
each of them not unwilling to shift the awkward burthen of an
equivocal duty from his own shoulders?

I once drank tea in company with two Methodist divines of different
persuasions, whom it was my fortune to introduce to each other for the
first time that evening. Before the first cup was handed round, one of
these reverend gentlemen put it to the other, with all due solemnity,
whether he chose to _say any thing_. It seems it is the custom with
some sectaries to put up a short prayer before this meal also. His
reverend brother did not at first quite apprehend him, but upon an
explanation, with little less importance he made answer, that it was
not a custom known in his church: in which courteous evasion the other
acquiescing for good manner's sake, or in compliance with a weak
brother, the supplementary or tea-grace was waived altogether. With
what spirit might not Lucian have painted two priests, of _his_
religion, playing into each other's hands the compliment of performing
or omitting a sacrifice,--the hungry God meantime, doubtful of his
incense, with expectant nostrils hovering over the two flamens, and
(as between two stools) going away in the end without his supper.

A short form upon these occasions is felt to want reverence; a long
one, I am afraid, cannot escape the charge of impertinence. I do
not quite approve of the epigrammatic conciseness with which that
equivocal wag (but my pleasant school-fellow) C.V.L., when importuned
for a grace, used to inquire, first slyly leering down the table, "Is
there no clergyman here?"--significantly adding, "thank G----." Nor do
I think our old form at school quite pertinent, where we were used to
preface our bald bread and cheese suppers with a preamble, connecting
with that humble blessing a recognition of benefits the most awful
and overwhelming to the imagination which religion has to offer. _Non
tunc illis erat locus._ I remember we were put to it to reconcile the
phrase "good creatures," upon which the blessing rested, with the
fare set before us, wilfully understanding that expression in a low
and animal sense,--till some one recalled a legend, which told how
in the golden days of Christ's, the young Hospitallers were wont to
have smoking joints of roast meat upon their nightly boards, till
some pious benefactor, commiserating the decencies, rather than the
palates, of the children, commuted our flesh for garments, and gave
us--_horresco referens_--trowsers instead of mutton.


At the north end of Cross-court there yet stands a portal, of some
architectural pretensions, though reduced to humble use, serving at
present for an entrance to a printing-office. This old door-way, if
you are young, reader, you may not know was the identical pit entrance
to old Drury--Garrick's Drury--all of it that is left. I never pass it
without shaking some forty years from off my shoulders, recurring
to the evening when I passed through it to see _my first play_. The
afternoon had been wet, and the condition of our going (the elder
folks and myself) was, that the rain should cease. With what a beating
heart did I watch from the window the puddles, from the stillness of
which I was taught to prognosticate the desired cessation! I seem to
remember the last spurt, and the glee with which I ran to announce it.

We went with orders, which my godfather F. had sent us. He kept the
oil shop (now Davies's) at the corner of Featherstone-building,
in Holborn. F. was a tall grave person, lofty in speech, and had
pretensions above his rank. He associated in those days with John
Palmer, the comedian, whose gait and bearing he seemed to copy; if
John (which is quite as likely) did not rather borrow somewhat of
his manner from my godfather. He was also known to, and visited by,
Sheridan. It was to his house in Holborn that young Brinsley brought
his first wife on her elopement with him from a boarding-school at
Bath--the beautiful Maria Linley. My parents were present (over a
quadrille table) when he arrived in the evening with his harmonious
charge.--From either of these connexions it may be inferred that
my godfather could command an order for the then Drury-lane
theatre at pleasure--and, indeed, a pretty liberal issue of those
cheap billets, in Brinsley's easy autograph, I have heard him say
was the sole remuneration which he had received for many years'
nightly illumination of the orchestra and various avenues of that
theatre--and he was content it should be so. The honour of Sheridan's
familiarity--or supposed familiarity--was better to my godfather than

F. was the most gentlemanly of oilmen; grandiloquent, yet courteous.
His delivery of the commonest matters of fact was Ciceronian. He had
two Latin words almost constantly in his mouth (how odd sounds Latin
from an oilman's lips!), which my better knowledge since has enabled
me to correct. In strict pronunciation they should have been sounded
_vice versa_--but in those young years they impressed me with more awe
than they would now do, read aright from Seneca or Varro--in his own
peculiar pronunciation, monosyllabically elaborated, or Anglicized,
into something like _verse verse_. By an imposing manner, and the help
of these distorted syllables, he climbed (but that was little) to the
highest parochial honours which St. Andrew's has to bestow.

He is dead--and thus much I thought due to his memory, both for
my first orders (little wondrous talismans!--slight keys, and
insignificant to outward sight, but opening to me more than Arabian
paradises!) and moreover, that by his testamentary beneficence I came
into possession of the only landed property which I could ever call
my own--situate near the road-way village of pleasant Puckeridge, in
Hertfordshire. When I journeyed down to take possession, and planted
foot on my own ground, the stately habits of the donor descended upon
me, and I strode (shall I confess the vanity?) with larger paces over
my allotment of three quarters of an acre, with its commodious mansion
in the midst, with the feeling of an English freeholder that all
betwixt sky and centre was my own. The estate has passed into more
prudent hands, and nothing but an agrarian can restore it.

In those days were pit orders. Beshrew the uncomfortable manager who
abolished them!--with one of these we went. I remember the waiting at
the door--not that which is left--but between that and an inner door
in shelter--O when shall I be such an expectant again!--with the cry
of nonpareils, an indispensable play-house accompaniment in those
days. As near as I can recollect, the fashionable pronunciation of
the theatrical fruiteresses then was, "Chase some oranges, chase
some numparels, chase a bill of the play;"--chase _pro_ chuse. But
when we got in, and I beheld the green curtain that veiled a heaven
to my imagination, which was soon to be disclosed--the breathless
anticipations I endured! I had seen something like it in the plate
prefixed to Troilus and Cressida, in Rowe's Shakspeare--the tent scene
with Diomede--and a sight of that plate can always bring back in a
measure the feeling of that evening.--The boxes at that time, full
of well-dressed women of quality, projected over the pit; and the
pilasters reaching down were adorned with a glistering substance
(I know not what) under glass (as it seemed), resembling--a homely
fancy--but I judged it to be sugar-candy--yet, to my raised
imagination, divested of its homelier qualities, it appeared a
glorified candy!--The orchestra lights at length arose, those
"fair Auroras!" Once the bell sounded. It was to ring out yet once
again--and, incapable of the anticipation, I reposed my shut eyes in
a sort of resignation upon the maternal lap. It rang the second time.
The curtain drew up--I was not past six years old--and the play was

I had dabbled a little in the Universal History--the ancient part of
it--and here was the court of Persia. It was being admitted to a sight
of the past. I took no proper interest in the action going on, for
I understood not its import--but I heard the word Darius, and I was
in the midst of Daniel. All feeling was absorbed in vision. Gorgeous
vests, gardens, palaces, princesses, passed before me. I knew not
players. I was in Persepolis for the time; and the burning idol
of their devotion almost converted me into a worshipper. I was
awe-struck, and believed those significations to be something more
than elemental fires. It was all enchantment and a dream. No such
pleasure has since visited me but in dreams.--Harlequin's Invasion
followed; where, I remember, the transformation of the magistrates
into reverend beldams seemed to me a piece of grave historic justice,
and the tailor carrying his own head to be as sober a verity as the
legend of St. Denys.

The next play to which I was taken was the Lady of the Manor, of
which, with the exception of some scenery, very faint traces are left
in my memory. It was followed by a pantomime, called Lun's Ghost--a
satiric touch, I apprehend, upon Rich, not long since dead--but to my
apprehension (too sincere for satire), Lun was as remote a piece of
antiquity as Lud--the father, of a line of Harlequins--transmitting
his dagger of lath (the wooden sceptre) through countless ages. I saw
the primeval Motley come from his silent tomb in a ghastly vest of
white patch-work, like the apparition of a dead rainbow. So Harlequins
(thought I) look when they are dead.

My third play followed in quick succession. It was the Way of the
World. I think I must have sat at it as grave as a judge; for, I
remember, the hysteric affectations of good Lady Wishfort affected me
like some solemn tragic passion. Robinson Crusoe followed; in which
Crusoe, man Friday, and the parrot, were as good and authentic as in
the story.--The clownery and pantaloonery of these pantomimes have
clean passed out of my head. I believe, I no more laughed at them,
than at the same age I should have been disposed to laugh at the
grotesque Gothic heads (seeming to me then replete with devout
meaning) that gape, and grin, in stone around the inside of the old
Round Church (my church) of the Templars.

I saw these plays in the season 1781-2, when I was from six to seven
years old. After the intervention of six or seven other years (for
at school all play-going was inhibited) I again entered the doors
of a theatre. That old Artaxerxes evening had never done ringing in
my fancy. I expected the same feelings to come again with the same
occasion. But we differ from ourselves less at sixty and sixteen,
than the latter does from six. In that interval what had I not lost!
At the first period I knew nothing, understood nothing, discriminated
nothing. I felt all, loved all, wondered all--

Was nourished, I could not tell how--

I had left the temple a devotee, and was returned a rationalist. The
same things were there materially; but the emblem, the reference,
was gone!--The green curtain was no longer a veil, drawn between two
worlds, the unfolding of which was to bring back past ages, to present
"a royal ghost,"--but a certain quantity of green baize, which was
to separate the audience for a given time from certain of their
fellow-men who were to come forward and pretend those parts. The
lights--the orchestra lights--came up a clumsy machinery. The first
ring, and the second ring, was now but a trick of the prompter's
bell--which had been, like the note of the cuckoo, a phantom of a
voice, no hand seen or guessed at which ministered to its warning.
The actors were men and women painted. I thought the fault was in
them; but it was in myself, and the alteration which those many
centuries--of six short twelve-months--had wrought in me.--Perhaps
it was fortunate for me that the play of the evening was but an
indifferent comedy, as it gave me time to crop some unreasonable
expectations, which might have interfered with the genuine emotions
with which I was soon after enabled to enter upon the first appearance
to me of Mrs. Siddons in Isabella. Comparison and retrospection soon
yielded to the present attraction of the scene; and the theatre became
to me, upon a new stock, the most delightful of recreations.



Children love to listen to stories about their elders, when _they_
were children; to stretch their imagination to the conception of a
traditionary great-uncle, or grandame, whom they never saw. It was in
this spirit that my little ones crept about me the other evening to
hear about their great-grandmother Field, who lived in a great house
in Norfolk (a hundred times bigger than that in which they and papa
lived) which had been the scene--so at least it was generally believed
in that part of the country--of the tragic incidents which they had
lately become familiar with from the ballad of the Children in the
Wood. Certain it is that the whole story of the children and their
cruel uncle was to be seen fairly carved out in wood upon the
chimney-piece of the great hall, the whole story down to the Robin
Redbreasts, till a foolish rich person pulled it down to set up a
marble one of modern invention in its stead, with no story upon it.
Here Alice put out one of her dear mother's looks, too tender to be
called upbraiding. Then I went on to say, how religious and how good
their great-grandmother Field was, how beloved and respected by every
body, though she was not indeed the mistress of this great house, but
had only the charge of it (and yet in some respects she might be said
to be the mistress of it too) committed to her by the owner, who
preferred living in a newer and more fashionable mansion which he had
purchased somewhere in the adjoining county; but still she lived in it
in a manner as if it had been her own, and kept up the dignity of the
great house in a sort while she lived, which afterwards came to decay,
and was nearly pulled down, and all its old ornaments stripped and
carried away to the owner's other house, where they were set up, and
looked as awkward as if some one were to carry away the old tombs they
had seen lately at the Abbey, and stick them up in Lady C.'s tawdry
gilt drawing-room. Here John smiled, as much as to say, "that would
be foolish indeed." And then I told how, when she came to die, her
funeral was attended by a concourse of all the poor, and some of the
gentry too, of the neighbourhood for many miles round, to show their
respect for her memory, because she had been such a good and religious
woman; so good indeed that she knew all the Psaltery by heart, ay,
and a great part of the Testament besides. Here little Alice spread
her hands. Then I told what a tall, upright, graceful person their
great-grandmother Field once was; and how in her youth she was
esteemed the best dancer--here Alice's little right foot played an
involuntary movement, till, upon my looking grave, it desisted--the
best dancer, I was saying, in the county, till a cruel disease, called
a cancer, came, and bowed her down with pain; but it could never bend
her good spirits, or make them stoop, but they were still upright,
because she was so good and religious. Then I told how she was used
to sleep by herself in a lone chamber of the great lone house; and
how she believed that an apparition of two infants was to be seen
at midnight gliding up and down the great staircase near where she
slept, but she said, "those innocents would do her no harm;" and how
frightened I used to be, though in those days I had my maid to sleep
with me, because I was never half so good or religious as she--and
yet I never saw the infants. Here John expanded all his eye-brows and
tried to look courageous. Then I told how good she was to all her
grand-children, having us to the great-house in the holydays, where I
in particular used to spend many hours by myself, in gazing upon the
old busts of the Twelve Caesars, that had been Emperors of Rome, till
the old marble heads would seem to live again, or I to be turned into
marble with them; how I never could be tired with roaming about that
huge mansion, with its vast empty rooms, with their worn-out hangings,
fluttering tapestry, and carved oaken pannels, with the gilding almost
rubbed out--sometimes in the spacious old-fashioned gardens, which I
had almost to myself, unless when now and then a solitary gardening
man would cross me--and how the nectarines and peaches hung upon the
walls, without my ever offering to pluck them, because they were
forbidden fruit, unless now and then,--and because I had more pleasure
in strolling about among the old melancholy-looking yew trees, or the
firs, and picking up the red berries, and the fir apples, which were
good for nothing but to look at--or in lying about upon the fresh
grass, with all the fine garden smells around me--or basking in the
orangery, till I could almost fancy myself ripening too along with the
oranges and the limes in that grateful warmth--or in watching the dace
that darted to and fro in the fish-pond, at the bottom of the garden,
with here and there a great sulky pike hanging midway down the water
in silent state, as if it mocked at their impertinent friskings,--I
had more pleasure in these busy-idle diversions than in all the sweet
flavours of peaches, nectarines, oranges, and such like common baits
of children. Here John slyly deposited back upon the plate a bunch
of grapes, which, not unobserved by Alice, he had meditated dividing
with her, and both seemed willing to relinquish them for the present
as irrelevant. Then in somewhat a more heightened tone, I told how,
though their great-grandmother Field loved all her grand-children,
yet in an especial manner she might be said to love their uncle, John
L----, because he was so handsome and spirited a youth, and a king to
the rest of us; and, instead of moping about in solitary corners, like
some of us, he would mount the most mettlesome horse he could get,
when but an imp no bigger than themselves, and make it carry him half
over the county in a morning, and join the hunters when there were any
out--and yet he loved the old great house and gardens too, but had
too much spirit to be always pent up within their boundaries--and how
their uncle grew up to man's estate as brave as he was handsome, to
the admiration of every body, but of their great-grandmother Field
most especially; and how he used to carry me upon his back when I was
a lame-footed boy--for he was a good bit older than me--many a mile
when I could not walk for pain;--and how in after life he became
lame-footed too, and I did not always (I fear) make allowances enough
for him when he was impatient, and in pain, nor remember sufficiently
how considerate he had been to me when I was lame-footed; and how
when he died, though he had not been dead an hour, it seemed as if he
had died a great while ago, such a distance there is betwixt life and
death; and how I bore his death as I thought pretty well at first, but
afterwards it haunted and haunted me; and though I did not cry or take
it to heart as some do, and as I think he would have done if I had
died, yet I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much
I had loved him. I missed his kindness, and I missed his crossness,
and wished him to be alive again, to be quarrelling with him (for
we quarreled sometimes), rather than not have him again, and was as
uneasy without him, as he their poor uncle must have been when the
doctor took off his limb. Here the children fell a crying, and asked
if their little mourning which they had on was not for uncle John,
and they looked up, and prayed me not to go on about their uncle, but
to tell them some stories about their pretty dead mother. Then I told
how for seven long years, in hope sometimes, sometimes in despair,
yet persisting ever, I courted the fair Alice W--n; and, as much as
children could understand, I explained to them what coyness, and
difficulty, and denial meant in maidens--when suddenly, turning to
Alice, the soul of the first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a
reality of re-presentment, that I became in doubt which of them stood
there before me, or whose that bright hair was; and while I stood
gazing, both the children gradually grew fainter to my view, receding,
and still receding till nothing at last but two mournful features
were seen in the uttermost distance, which, without speech, strangely
impressed upon me the effects of speech; "We are not of Alice, nor
of thee, nor are we children at all. The children of Alice called
Bartrum father. We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams. We
are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores
of Lethe millions of ages before we have existence, and a name"--and
immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor
arm-chair, where I had fallen asleep, with the faithful Bridget
unchanged by my side--but John L. (or James Elia) was gone for ever.



My dear F.--When I think how welcome the sight of a letter from the
world where you were born must be to you in that strange one to which
you have been transplanted, I feel some compunctious visitings at
my long silence. But, indeed, it is no easy effort to set about a
correspondence at our distance. The weary world of waters between us
oppresses the imagination. It is difficult to conceive how a scrawl
of mine should ever stretch across it. It is a sort of presumption
to expect that one's thoughts should live so far. It is like writing
for posterity; and reminds me of one of Mrs. Rowe's superscriptions,
"Alcander to Strephon, in the shades." Cowley's Post-Angel is no more
than would be expedient in such an intercourse. One drops a packet at
Lombard-street, and in twenty-four hours a friend in Cumberland gets
it as fresh as if it came in ice. It is only like whispering through a
long trumpet. But suppose a tube let down from the moon, with yourself
at one end, and _the man_ at the other; it would be some balk to the
spirit of conversation, if you knew that the dialogue exchanged with
that interesting theosophist would take two or three revolutions of a
higher luminary in its passage. Yet for aught I know, you may be some
parasangs nigher that primitive idea--Plato's man--than we in England
here have the honour to reckon ourselves.

Epistolary matter usually compriseth three topics; news, sentiment,
and puns. In the latter, I include all non-serious subjects; or
subjects serious in themselves, but treated after my fashion,
non-seriously.--And first, for news. In them the most desirable
circumstance, I suppose, is that they shall be true. But what security
can I have that what I now send you for truth shall not before you
get it unaccountably turn into a lie? For instance, our mutual friend
P. is at this present writing--_my Now_--in good health, and enjoys
a fair share of worldly reputation. You are glad to hear it. This is
natural and friendly. But at this present reading--_your Now_--he may
possibly be in the Bench, or going to be hanged, which in reason ought
to abate something of your transport (_i.e._ at hearing he was well,
&c.), or at least considerably to modify it. I am going to the play
this evening, to have a laugh with Munden. You have no theatre, I
think you told me, in your land of d----d realities. You naturally
lick your lips, and envy me my felicity. Think but a moment, and you
will correct the hateful emotion. Why, it is Sunday morning with
you, and 1823. This confusion of tenses, this grand solecism of _two
presents_, is in a degree common to all postage. But if I sent you
word to Bath or the Devises, that I was expecting the aforesaid treat
this evening, though at the moment you received the intelligence my
full feast of fun would be over, yet there would be for a day or two
after, as you would well know, a smack, a relish left upon my mental
palate, which would give rational encouragement for you to foster a
portion at least of the disagreeable passion, which it was in part my
intention to produce. But ten months hence your envy or your sympathy
would be as useless as a passion spent upon the dead. Not only does
truth, in these long intervals, un-essence herself, but (what is
harder) one cannot venture a crude fiction for the fear that it may
ripen into a truth upon the voyage. What a wild improbable banter I
put upon you, some three years since ---- of Will Weatherall having
married a servant-maid! I remember gravely consulting you how we
were to receive her--for Will's wife was in no case to be rejected;
and your no less serious replication in the matter; how tenderly you
advised an abstemious introduction of literary topics before the lady,
with a caution not to be too forward in bringing on the carpet matters
more within the sphere of her intelligence; your deliberate judgment,
or rather wise suspension of sentence, how far jacks, and spits, and
mops, could with propriety be introduced as subjects; whether the
conscious avoiding of all such matters in discourse would not have a
worse look than the taking of them casually in our way; in what manner
we should carry ourselves to our maid Becky, Mrs. William Weatherall
being by; whether we should show more delicacy, and a truer sense of
respect for Will's wife, by treating Becky with our customary chiding
before her, or by an unusual deferential civility paid to Becky as
to a person of great worth, but thrown by the caprice of fate into a
humble station. There were difficulties, I remember, on both sides,
which you did me the favour to state with the precision of a lawyer,
united to the tenderness of a friend. I laughed in my sleeve at your
solemn pleadings, when lo! while I was valuing myself upon this
flam put upon you in New South Wales, the devil in England, jealous
possibly of any lie-children not his own, or working after my copy,
has actually instigated our friend (not three days since) to the
commission of a matrimony, which I had only conjured up for your
diversion. William Weatherall has married Mrs. Cotterel's maid. But to
take it in its truest sense, you will see, my dear F., that news from
me must become history to you; which I neither profess to write, nor
indeed care much for reading. No person, under a diviner, can with any
prospect of veracity conduct a correspondence at such an arm's length.
Two prophets, indeed, might thus interchange intelligence with effect;
the epoch of the writer (Habbakuk) falling in with the true present
time of the receiver (Daniel); but then we are no prophets.

Then as to sentiment. It fares little better with that. This kind
of dish, above all, requires to be served up hot; or sent off in
water-plates, that your friend may have it almost as warm as yourself.
If it have time to cool, it is the most tasteless of all cold meats.
I have often smiled at a conceit of the late Lord C. It seems that
travelling somewhere about Geneva, he came to some pretty green spot,
or nook, where a willow, or something, hung so fantastically and
invitingly over a stream--was it?--or a rock?--no matter--but the
stillness and the repose, after a weary journey 'tis likely, in a
languid moment of his lordship's hot restless life, so took his fancy,
that he could imagine no place so proper, in the event of his death,
to lay his bones in. This was all very natural and excusable as a
sentiment, and shows his character in a very pleasing light. But when
from a passing sentiment it came to be an act; and when, by a positive
testamentary disposal, his remains were actually carried all that way
from England; who was there, some desperate sentimentalists excepted,
that did not ask the question, Why could not his lordship have found
a spot as solitary, a nook as romantic, a tree as green and pendent,
with a stream as emblematic to his purpose, in Surrey, in Dorset, or
in Devon? Conceive the sentiment boarded up, freighted, entered at the
Custom House (startling the tide-waiters with the novelty), hoisted
into a ship. Conceive it pawed about and handled between the rude
jests of tarpaulin ruffians--a thing of its delicate texture--the
salt bilge wetting it till it became as vapid as a damaged lustring.
Suppose it in material danger (mariners have some superstition about
sentiments) of being tossed over in a fresh gale to some propitiatory
shark (spirit of Saint Gothard, save us from a quietus so foreign
to the deviser's purpose!) but it has happily evaded a fishy
consummation. Trace it then to its lucky landing--at Lyons shall
we say?--I have not the map before me--jostled upon four men's
shoulders--baiting at this town--stopping to refresh at t'other
village--waiting a passport here, a license there; the sanction of the
magistracy in this district, the concurrence of the ecclesiastics in
that canton; till at length it arrives at its destination, tired out
and jaded, from a brisk sentiment, into a feature of silly pride or
tawdry senseless affectation. How few sentiments, my dear F., I am
afraid we can set down, in the sailor's phrase, as quite sea-worthy.

Lastly, as to the agreeable levities, which, though contemptible
in bulk, are the twinkling corpuscula which should irradiate a
right friendly epistle--your puns and small jests are, I apprehend,
extremely circumscribed in their sphere of action. They are so far
from a capacity of being packed up and sent beyond sea, they will
scarce endure to be transported by hand from this room to the next.
Their vigour is as the instant of their birth. Their nutriment
for their brief existence is the intellectual atmosphere of the
bystanders: or this last, is the fine slime of Nilus--the _melior
Lutis_,--whose maternal recipiency is as necessary as the _sol pater_
to their equivocal generation. A pun hath a hearty kind of present
ear-kissing smack with it; you can no more transmit it in its pristine
flavour, than you can send a kiss.--Have you not tried in some
instances to palm off a yesterday's pun upon a gentleman, and has
it answered? Not but it was new to his hearing, but it did not seem
to come new from you. It did not hitch in. It was like picking up
at a village ale-house a two days old newspaper. You have not seen
it before, but you resent the stale thing as an affront. This sort
of merchandise above all requires a quick return. A pun, and its
recognitory laugh, must be co-instantaneous. The one is the brisk
lightning, the other the fierce thunder. A moment's interval, and the
link is snapped. A pun is reflected from a friend's face as from a
mirror. Who would consult his sweet visnomy, if the polished surface
were two or three minutes (not to speak of twelve-months, my dear F.)
in giving back its copy?

I cannot image to myself where about you are. When I try to fix it,
Peter Wilkins's island comes across me. Sometimes you seem to be in
the _Hades_ of _Thieves_. I see Diogenes prying among you with his
perpetual fruitless lantern. What must you be willing by this time to
give for the sight of an honest man! You must almost have forgotten
how _we_ look. And tell me, what your Sydneyites do? are they th**v*ng
all day long? Merciful heaven! what property can stand against such
a depredation! The kangaroos--your Aborigines--do they keep their
primitive simplicity un-Europe-tainted, with those little short
fore-puds, looking like a lesson framed by nature to the pickpocket!
Marry, for diving into fobs they are rather lamely provided _a
priori_; but if the hue and cry were once up, they would show as fair
a pair of hind-shifters as the expertest loco-motor in the colony.--We
hear the most improbable tales at this distance. Pray, is it true that
the young Spartans among you are born with six fingers, which spoils
their scanning?--It must look very odd; but use reconciles. For their
scansion, it is less to be regretted, for if they take it into their
heads to be poets, it is odds but they turn out, the greater part of
them, vile plagiarists.--Is there much difference to see to between
the son of a th**f, and the grandson? or where does the taint stop? Do
you bleach in three or in four generations?--I have many questions to
put, but ten Delphic voyages can be made in a shorter time than it
will take to satisfy my scruples.--Do you grow your own hemp?--What is
your staple trade, exclusive of the national profession, I mean? Your
lock-smiths, I take it, are some of your great capitalists.

I am insensibly chatting to you as familiarly as when we used
to exchange good-morrows out of our old contiguous windows, in
pump-famed Hare-court in the Temple. Why did you ever leave that quiet
corner?--Why did I?--with its complement of four poor elms, from whose
smoke-dyed barks, the theme of jesting ruralists, I picked my first
lady-birds! My heart is as dry as that spring sometimes proves in
a thirsty August, when I revert to the space that is between us; a
length of passage enough to render obsolete the phrases of our English
letters before they can reach you. But while I talk, I think you hear
me,--thoughts dallying with vain surmise--

Aye me! while thee the seas and sounding shores
Hold far away.

Come back, before I am grown into a very old man, so as you shall
hardly know me. Come, before Bridget walks on crutches. Girls whom you
left children have become sage matrons, while you are tarrying there.
The blooming Miss W----r (you remember Sally W----r) called upon us
yesterday, an aged crone. Folks, whom you knew, die off every year.
Formerly, I thought that death was wearing out,--I stood ramparted
about with so many healthy friends. The departure of J.W., two springs
back corrected my delusion. Since then the old divorcer has been busy.
If you do not make haste to return, there will be little left to greet
you, of me, or mine.


I like to meet a sweep--understand me--not a grown sweeper--old
chimney-sweepers are by no means attractive--but one of those tender
novices, blooming through their first nigritude, the maternal washings
not quite effaced from the cheek--such as come forth with the dawn, or
somewhat earlier, with their little professional notes sounding like
the _peep peep_ of a young sparrow; or liker to the matin lark should
I pronounce them, in their aerial ascents not seldom anticipating the

I have a kindly yearning towards these dim specks--poor
blots--innocent blacknesses--

I reverence these young Africans of our own growth--these almost
clergy imps, who sport their cloth without assumption; and from
their little pulpits (the tops of chimneys), in the nipping air of a
December morning, preach a lesson of patience to mankind.

When a child, what a mysterious pleasure it was to witness their
operation! to see a chit no bigger than one's-self enter, one knew not
by what process, into what seemed the _fauces Averni_--to pursue him
in imagination, as he went sounding on through so many dark stifling
caverns, horrid shades!--to shudder with the idea that "now, surely,
he must be lost for ever!"--to revive at hearing his feeble shout of
discovered day-light--and then (O fulness of delight) running out of
doors, to come just in time to see the sable phenomenon emerge in
safety, the brandished weapon of his art victorious like some flag
waved over a conquered citadel! I seem to remember having been told,
that a bad sweep was once left in a stack with his brush, to indicate
which way the wind blew. It was an awful spectacle certainly; not much
unlike the old stage direction in Macbeth, where the "Apparition of a
child crowned with a tree in his hand rises."

Reader, if thou meetest one of these small gentry in thy early
rambles, it is good to give him a penny. It is better to give him
two-pence. If it be starving weather, and to the proper troubles of
his hard occupation, a pair of kibed heels (no unusual accompaniment)
be superadded, the demand on thy humanity will surely rise to a

There is a composition, the ground-work of which I have understood to
be the sweet wood 'yclept sassafras. This wood boiled down to a kind
of tea, and tempered with an infusion of milk and sugar, hath to some
tastes a delicacy beyond the China luxury. I know not how thy palate
may relish it; for myself, with every deference to the judicious Mr.
Read, who hath time out of mind kept open a shop (the only one he
avers in London) for the vending of this "wholesome and pleasant
beverage, on the south side of Fleet-street, as thou approachest
Bridge-street--_the only Salopian house_,"--I have never yet
adventured to dip my own particular lip in a basin of his commended
ingredients--a cautious premonition to the olfactories constantly
whispering to me, that my stomach must infallibly, with all due
courtesy, decline it. Yet I have seen palates, otherwise not
uninstructed in dietetical elegances, sup it up with avidity.

I know not by what particular conformation of the organ it happens,
but I have always found that this composition is surprisingly
gratifying to the palate of a young chimney-sweeper--whether the oily
particles (sassafras is slightly oleaginous) do attenuate and soften
the fuliginous concretions, which are sometimes found (in dissections)
to adhere to the roof of the mouth in these unfledged practitioners;
or whether Nature, sensible that she had mingled too much of bitter
wood in the lot of these raw victims, caused to grow out of the earth
her sassafras for a sweet lenitive--but so it is, that no possible
taste or odour to the senses of a young chimney-sweeper can convey a
delicate excitement comparable to this mixture. Being penniless, they
will yet hang their black heads over the ascending steam, to gratify
one sense if possible, seemingly no less pleased than those domestic
animals--cats--when they purr over a new-found sprig of valerian.
There is something more in these sympathies than philosophy can

Now albeit Mr. Read boasteth, not without reason, that his is the
_only Salopian house;_ yet be it known to thee, reader--if thou art
one who keepest what are called good hours, thou art haply ignorant
of the fact--he hath a race of industrious imitators, who from
stalls, and under open sky, dispense the same savoury mess to humbler
customers, at that dead time of the dawn, when (as extremes meet) the
rake, reeling home from his midnight cups, and the hard-handed artisan
leaving his bed to resume the premature labours of the day, jostle,
not unfrequently to the manifest disconcerting of the former, for the
honours of the pavement. It is the time when, in summer, between the
expired and the not yet relumined kitchen-fires, the kennels of our
fair metropolis give forth their least satisfactory odours. The rake,
who wisheth to dissipate his o'er-night vapours in more grateful
coffee, curses the ungenial fume, as he passeth; but the artisan stops
to taste, and blesses the fragrant breakfast.

This is _Saloop_--the precocious herb-woman's darling--the delight of
the early gardener, who transports his smoking cabbages by break of
day from Hammersmith to Covent-garden's famed piazzas--the delight,
and, oh I fear, too often the envy, of the unpennied sweep. Him
shouldest thou haply encounter, with his dim visage pendent over the
grateful steam, regale him with a sumptuous basin (it will cost thee
but three half-pennies) and a slice of delicate bread and butter (an
added halfpenny)--so may thy culinary fires, eased of the o'er-charged
secretions from thy worse-placed hospitalities, curl up a lighter
volume to the welkin--so may the descending soot never taint thy
costly well-ingredienced soups--nor the odious cry, quickreaching from
street to street, of the _fired chimney_, invite the rattling engines
from ten adjacent parishes, to disturb for a casual scintillation thy
peace and pocket!

I am by nature extremely susceptible of street affronts; the jeers
and taunts of the populace; the low-bred triumph they display over
the casual trip, or splashed stocking, of a gentleman. Yet can I
endure the jocularity of a young sweep with something more than
forgiveness.--In the last winter but one, pacing along Cheapside with
my accustomed precipitation when I walk westward, a treacherous slide
brought me upon my back in an instant. I scrambled up with pain and
shame enough--yet outwardly trying to face it down, as if nothing had
happened--when the roguish grin of one of these young wits encountered
me. There he stood, pointing me out with his dusky finger to the
mob, and to a poor woman (I suppose his mother) in particular, till
the tears for the exquisiteness of the fun (so he thought it) worked
themselves out at the corners of his poor red eyes, red from many a
previous weeping, and soot-inflamed, yet twinkling through all with
such a joy, snatched out of desolation, that Hogarth--but Hogarth has
got him already (how could he miss him?) in the March to Finchley,
grinning at the pye-man--there he stood, as he stands in the picture,
irremovable, as if the jest was to last for ever--with such a maximum
of glee, and minimum of mischief, in his mirth--for the grin of a
genuine sweep hath absolutely no malice in it--that I could have
been content, if the honour of a gentleman might endure it, to have
remained his butt and his mockery till midnight.

I am by theory obdurate to the seductiveness of what are called a fine
set of teeth. Every pair of rosy lips (the ladies must pardon me) is
a casket, presumably holding such jewels; but, methinks, they should
take leave to "air" them as frugally as possible. The fine lady, or
fine gentleman, who show me their teeth, show me bones. Yet must
I confess, that from the mouth of a true sweep a display (even to
ostentation) of those white and shining ossifications, strikes me as
an agreeable anomaly in manners, and an allowable piece of foppery. It
is, as when

A sable cloud
Turns forth her silver lining on the night.

It is like some remnant of gentry not quite extinct; a badge of
better days; a hint of nobility:--and, doubtless, under the obscuring
darkness and double night of their forlorn disguisement, oftentimes
lurketh good blood, and gentle conditions, derived from lost ancestry,
and a lapsed pedigree. The premature apprenticements of these tender
victims give but too much encouragement, I fear, to clandestine, and
almost infantile abductions; the seeds of civility and true courtesy,
so often discernible in these young grafts (not otherwise to be
accounted for) plainly hint at some forced adoptions; many noble
Rachels mourning for their children, even in our days, countenance the
fact; the tales of fairy-spiriting may shadow a lamentable verity, and
the recovery of the young Montagu be but a solitary instance of, good
fortune, out of many irreparable and hopeless _defiliations_.

In one of the state-beds at Arundel Castle, a few years since--under a
ducal canopy--(that seat of the Howards is an object of curiosity to
visitors, chiefly for its beds, in which the late duke was especially
a connoisseur)--encircled with curtains of delicatest crimson, with
starry coronets inwoven--folded between a pair of sheets whiter and
softer than the lap where Venus lulled Ascanius--was discovered by
chance, after all methods of search had failed, at noon-day, fast
asleep, a lost chimney-sweeper. The little creature, having somehow
confounded his passage among the intricacies of those lordly chimneys,
by some unknown aperture had alighted upon this magnificent chamber;
and, tired with his tedious explorations, was unable to resist the
delicious invitement to repose, which he there saw exhibited; so,
creeping between the sheets very quietly, laid his black head upon the
pillow, and slept like a young Howard.

Such is the account given to the visitors at the Castle.--But I cannot
help seeming to perceive a confirmation of what I have just hinted
at in this story. A high instinct was at work in the case, or I am
mistaken. Is it probable that a poor child of that description, with
whatever weariness he might be visited, would have ventured, under
such a penalty, as he would be taught to expect, to uncover the sheets
of a Duke's bed, and deliberately to lay himself down between them,
when the rug, or the carpet, presented an obvious couch, still far
above his pretensions--is this probable, I would ask, if the great
power of nature, which I contend for, had not been manifested within
him, prompting to the adventure? Doubtless this young nobleman (for
such my mind misgives me that he must be) was allured by some memory,
not amounting to full consciousness, of his condition in infancy,
when he was used to be lapt by his mother, or his nurse, in just such
sheets as he there found, into which he was now but creeping back as
into his proper _incunabula_, and resting-place.--By no other theory,
than by this sentiment of a pre-existent state (as I may call it), can
I explain a deed so venturous, and, indeed, upon any other system, so
indecorous, in this tender, but unseasonable, sleeper.

My pleasant friend JEM WHITE was so impressed with a belief of
metamorphoses like this frequently taking place, that in some sort to
reverse the wrongs of fortune in these poor changelings, he instituted
an annual feast of chimney-sweepers, at which it was his pleasure
to officiate as host and waiter. It was a solemn supper held in
Smithfield, upon the yearly return of the fair of St. Bartholomew.
Cards were issued a week before to the master-sweeps in and about the
metropolis, confining the invitation to their younger fry. Now and
then an elderly stripling would get in among us, and be good-naturedly
winked at; but our main body were infantry. One unfortunate wight,
indeed, who, relying upon his dusky suit, had intruded himself into
our party, but by tokens was providentially discovered in time to be
no chimney-sweeper (all is not soot which looks so), was quoited out
of the presence with universal indignation, as not having on the
wedding garment; but in general the greatest harmony prevailed. The
place chosen was a convenient spot among the pens, at the north side
of the fair, not so far distant as to be impervious to the agreeable
hubbub of that vanity; but remote enough not to be obvious to the
interruption of every gaping spectator in it. The guests assembled
about seven. In those little temporary parlours three tables were
spread with napery, not so fine as substantial, and at every board a
comely hostess presided with her pan of hissing sausages. The nostrils
of the young rogues dilated at the savour. JAMES WHITE, as head
waiter, had charge of the first table; and myself, with our trusty
companion BIGOD, ordinarily ministered to the other two. There was
clambering and jostling, you may be sure, who should get at the first
table--for Rochester in his maddest days could not have done the
humours of the scene with more spirit than my friend. After some
general expression of thanks for the honour the company had done him,
his inaugural ceremony was to clasp the greasy waist of old dame
Ursula (the fattest of the three), that stood frying and fretting,
half-blessing, half-cursing "the gentleman," and imprint upon her
chaste lips a tender salute, whereat the universal host would set up a
shout that tore the concave, while hundreds of grinning teeth startled
the night with their brightness. O it was a pleasure to see the
sable younkers lick in the unctuous meat, with _his_ more unctuous
sayings--how he would fit the tit bits to the puny mouths, reserving
the lengthier links for the seniors--how he would intercept a morsel
even in the jaws of some young desperado, declaring it "must to
the pan again to be browned, for it was not fit for a gentleman's
eating"--how he would recommend this slice of white bread, or
that piece of kissing-crust, to a tender juvenile, advising them
all to have a care of cracking their teeth, which were their best
patrimony,--how genteelly he would deal about the small ale, as if it
were wine, naming the brewer, and protesting, if it were not good,
he should lose their custom; with a special recommendation to wipe
the lip before drinking. Then we had our toasts--"The King,"--the
"Cloth,"--which, whether they understood or not, was equally diverting
and flattering;--and for a crowning sentiment, which never failed,
"May the Brush supersede the Laurel!" All these, and fifty other
fancies, which were rather felt than comprehended by his guests,
would he utter, standing upon tables, and prefacing every sentiment
with a "Gentlemen, give me leave to propose so and so," which was a
prodigious comfort to those young orphans; every now and then stuffing
into his mouth (for it did not do to be squeamish on these occasions)
indiscriminate pieces of those reeking sausages, which pleased them
mightily, and was the savouriest part, you may believe, of the

Golden lads and lasses must.
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust--

JAMES WHITE is extinct, and with him these suppers have long ceased.
He carried away with him half the fun of the world when he died--of
my world at least. His old clients look for him among the pens; and,
missing him, reproach the altered feast of St. Bartholomew, and the
glory of Smithfield departed for ever.


The all-sweeping besom of societarian reformation--your only
modern Alcides' club to rid the time of its abuses--is uplift with
many-handed sway to extirpate the last fluttering tatters of the
bugbear MENDICITY from the metropolis. Scrips, wallets, bags--staves,
dogs, and crutches--the whole mendicant fraternity with all their
baggage are fast posting out of the purlieus of this eleventh
persecution. From the crowded crossing, from the corners of streets
and turnings of allies, the parting Genius of Beggary is "with sighing

I do not approve of this wholesale going to work, this impertinent
crusado, or _bellum ad exterminationem_, proclaimed against a species.
Much good might be sucked from these Beggars.

They were the oldest and the honourablest form of pauperism. Their
appeals were to our common nature; less revolting to an ingenuous mind
than to be a suppliant to the particular humours or caprice of any
fellow-creature, or set of fellow-creatures, parochial or societarian.
Theirs were the only rates uninvidious in the levy, ungrudged in the

There was a dignity springing from the very depth of their desolation;
as to be naked is to be so much nearer to the being a man, than to go
in livery.

The greatest spirits have felt this in their reverses; and when
Dionysius from king turned schoolmaster, do we feel any thing towards
him but contempt? Could Vandyke have made a picture of him, swaying
a ferula for a sceptre, which would have affected our minds with the
same heroic pity, the same compassionate admiration, with which we
regard his Belisarius begging for an _obolum_? Would the moral have
been more graceful, more pathetic?

The Blind Beggar in the legend--the father of pretty Bessy--whose
story doggrel rhymes and ale-house signs cannot so degrade or
attenuate, but that some sparks of a lustrous spirit will shine
through the disguisements--this noble Earl of Cornwall (as indeed he
was) and memorable sport of fortune, fleeing from the unjust sentence
of his liege lord, stript of all, and seated on the flowering green
of Bethnal, with his more fresh and springing daughter by his side,
illumining his rags and his beggary--would the child and parent have
cut a better figure, doing the honours of a counter, or expiating
their fallen condition upon the three-foot eminence of some
sempstering shop-board?

In tale or history your Beggar is ever the just antipode to your King.
The poets and romancical writers (as dear Margaret Newcastle would
call them) when they would most sharply and feelingly paint a reverse
of fortune, never stop till they have brought down their hero in good
earnest to rags and the wallet. The depth of the descent illustrates
the height he falls from. There is no medium which can be presented
to the imagination without offence. There is no breaking the fall.
Lear, thrown from his palace, must divest him of his garments, till
he answer "mere nature;" and Cresseid, fallen from a prince's love,
must extend her pale arms, pale with other whiteness than of beauty,
supplicating lazar alms with bell and clap-dish.

The Lucian wits knew this very well; and, with a converse policy, when
they would express scorn of greatness without the pity, they show us
an Alexander in the shades cobbling shoes, or a Semiramis getting up
foul linen.

How would it sound in song, that a great monarch had declined
his affections upon the daughter of a baker! yet do we feel the
imagination at all violated when we read the "true ballad," where King
Cophetua wooes the beggar maid?

Pauperism, pauper, poor man, are expressions of pity, but pity alloyed
with contempt. No one properly contemns a beggar. Poverty is a
comparative thing, and each degree of it is mocked by its "neighbour
grice." Its poor rents and comings-in are soon summed up and told.
Its pretences to property are almost ludicrous. Its pitiful attempts
to save excite a smile. Every scornful companion can weigh his
trifle-bigger purse against it. Poor man reproaches poor man in the
streets with impolitic mention of his condition, his own being a
shade better, while the rich pass by and jeer at both. No rascally
comparative insults a Beggar, or thinks of weighing purses with him.
He is not in the scale of comparison. He is not under the measure of
property. He confessedly hath none, any more than a dog or a sheep. No
one twitteth him with ostentation above his means. No one accuses him
of pride, or upbraideth him with mock humility. None jostle with him
for the wall, or pick quarrels for precedency. No wealthy neighbour
seeketh to eject him from his tenement. No man sues him. No man goes
to law with him. If I were not the independent gentleman that I am,
rather than I would be a retainer to the great, a led captain, or a
poor relation, I would choose, out of the delicacy and true greatness
of my mind, to be a Beggar.

Rags, which are the reproach of poverty, are the Beggar's robes, and
graceful _insignia_ of his profession, his tenure, his full dress, the
suit in which he is expected to show himself in public. He is never
out of the fashion, or limpeth awkwardly behind it. He is not required
to put on court mourning. He weareth all colours, fearing none. His
costume hath undergone less change than the Quaker's. He is the only
man in the universe who is not obliged to study appearances. The ups
and downs of the world concern him no longer. He alone continueth
in one stay. The price of stock or land affecteth him not. The
fluctuations of agricultural or commercial prosperity touch him not,
or at worst but change his customers. He is not expected to become
bail or surety for any one. No man troubleth him with questioning his
religion or politics. He is the only free man in the universe. The
Mendicants of this great city were so many of her sights, her lions. I
can no more spare them than I could the Cries of London. No corner of
a street is complete without them. They are as indispensable as the
Ballad Singer; and in their picturesque attire as ornamental as the
Signs of old London. They were the standing morals, emblems, mementos,
dial-mottos, the spital sermons, the books for children, the salutary
checks and pauses to the high and rushing tide of greasy citizenry--

Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there.

Above all, those old blind Tobits that used to line the wall of
Lincoln's Inn Garden, before modern fastidiousness had expelled them,
casting up their ruined orbs to catch a ray of pity, and (if possible)
of light, with their faithful Dog Guide at their feet,--whither are
they fled? or into what corners, blind as themselves, have they been
driven, out of the wholesome air and sun-warmth? immersed between
four walls, in what withering poor-house do they endure the penalty
of double darkness, where the chink of the dropt half-penny no more
consoles their forlorn bereavement, far from the sound of the cheerful
and hope-stirring tread of the passenger? Where hang their useless
staves? and who will farm their dogs?--Have the overseers of St. L----
caused them to be shot? or were they tied up in sacks, and dropt into
the Thames, at the suggestion of B----, the mild rector of ----?

Well fare the soul of unfastidious Vincent Bourne, most classical, and
at the same time, most English, of the Latinists!--who has treated
of this human and quadrupedal alliance, this dog and man friendship,
in the sweetest of his poems, the _Epitaphium in Canem_, or, _Dog's
Epitaph_. Reader, peruse it; and say, if customary sights, which could
call up such gentle poetry as this, were of a nature to do more
harm or good to the moral sense of the passengers through the daily
thoroughfares of a vast and busy metropolis.

Pauperis hic Iri requiesco Lyciscus, herilis,
Dum vixi, tutela vigil columenque senectae,
Dux caeco fidus: nec, me ducente, solebat,
Praetenso hinc atque hinc baculo, per iniqua locorum
Incertam explorare viam; sed fila secutus,
Quae dubios regerent passus, vestigia tuta
Fixit inoffenso gressu; gelidumque sedile
In nudo nactus saxo, qua praetereuntium
Unda frequens confluxit, ibi miserisque tenebras
Lamentis, noctemque oculis ploravit obortam.
Ploravit nec frustra; obolum dedit alter et alter,
Queis corda et mentem indiderat natura benignam.
Ad latus interea jacui sopitus herile,
Vel mediis vigil in somnis; ad herilia jussa
Auresque atque animum arrectus, seu frustula amice
Porrexit sociasque dapes, seu longa diei
Taedia perpessus, reditum sub nocte parabat.

Hi mores, haec vita fuit, dum fata sinebant,
Dum neque languebam morbis, nec inerte senecta;
Quae tandem obrepsit, veterique satellite caecum
Orbavit dominum: prisci sed gratia facti
Ne tola intereat, longos deleta per annos,
Exiguum hunc Irus tumulum de cespite fecit,
Etsi inopis, non ingratae, munuscula dextrae;
Carmine signavitque brevi, dominumque canemque
Quod memoret, fidumque canem dominumque benignum.

* * * * *

Poor Irus' faithful wolf-dog here I lie,
That wont to tend my old blind master's steps,
His guide and guard: nor, while my service lasted,
Had he occasion for that staff, with which
He now goes picking out his path in fear
Over the highways and crossings; but would plant,
Safe in the conduct of my friendly string,
A firm foot forward still, till he had reach'd
His poor seat on some stone, nigh where the tide
Of passers by in thickest confluence flow'd:
To whom with loud and passionate laments
From morn to eve his dark estate he wail'd.
Nor wail'd to all in vain: some here and there,
The well-disposed and good, their pennies gave.
I meantime at his feet obsequious slept;
Not all-asleep in sleep, but heart and ear
Prick'd up at his least motion; to receive
At his kind hand ray customary crums,
And common portion in his feast of scraps;
Or when night warn'd us homeward, tired and spent
With our long day and tedious beggary.

These were my manners, this my way of life,
Till age and slow disease me overtook,
And sever'd from my sightless master's side.
But lest the grace of so good deeds should die.
Through tract of years in mute oblivion lost,
This slender tomb of turf hath Irus reared,
Cheap monument of no ungrudging hand,
And with short verse inscribed it, to attest,
In long and lasting union to attest,
The virtues of the Beggar and his Dog.

These dim eyes have in vain explored for some months past a well-known
figure, or part of the figure, of a man, who used to glide his comely
upper half over the pavements of London, wheeling along with most
ingenious celerity upon a machine of wood; a spectacle to natives,
to foreigners, and to children. He was of a robust make, with a
florid sailor-like complexion, and his head was bare to the storm and
sunshine. He was a natural curiosity, a speculation to the scientific,
a prodigy to the simple. The infant would stare at the mighty man
brought down to his own level. The common cripple would despise his
own pusillanimity, viewing the hale stoutness, and hearty heart,
of this half-limbed giant. Few but must have noticed him; for the
accident, which brought him low, took place during the riots of 1780,
and he has been a groundling so long. He seemed earth-born, an Antaeus,
and to suck in fresh vigour from the soil which he neighboured. He
was a grand fragment; as good as an Elgin marble. The nature, which
should have recruited his reft legs and thighs, was not lost, but only
retired into his upper parts, and he was half a Hercules. I heard a
tremendous voice thundering and growling, as before an earthquake,
and, casting down my eyes, it was this mandrake reviling a steed that
had started at his portentous appearance. He seemed to want but his
just stature to have rent the offending quadruped in shivers. He was
as the man-part of a Centaur, from which the horse-half had been
cloven in some dire Lapithan controversy. He moved on, as if he could
have made shift with yet half of the body-portion which was left
him. The _os sublime_ was not wanting; and he threw out yet a jolly
countenance upon the heavens. Forty-and-two years had he driven this
out of door trade, and now that his hair is grizzled in the service,
but his good spirits no way impaired, because he is not content to
exchange his free air and exercise for the restraints of a poor-house,
he is expiating his contumacy in one of those houses (ironically
christened) of Correction.

Was a daily spectacle like this to be deemed a nuisance, which called
for legal interference to remove? or not rather a salutary and a
touching object, to the passers-by in a great city? Among her shows,
her museums, and supplies for ever-gaping curiosity (and what else but
an accumulation of sights--endless sights--_is_ a great city; or for
what else is it desirable?) was there not room for one _Lusus_ (not
_Naturae_, indeed, but) _Accidentium_? What if in forty-and-two years'
going about, the man had scraped together enough to give a portion
to his child (as the rumour ran) of a few hundreds--whom had he
injured?--whom had he imposed upon? The contributors had enjoyed their
_sight_ for their pennies. What if after being exposed all day to the
heats, the rains, and the frosts of heaven--shuffling his ungainly
trunk along in an elaborate and painful motion--he was enabled to
retire at night to enjoy himself at a club of his fellow cripples over
a dish of hot meat and vegetables, as the charge was gravely brought
against him by a clergyman deposing before a House of Commons'
Committee--was _this_, or was his truly paternal consideration, which
(if a fact) deserved a statue rather than a whipping-post, and is
inconsistent at least with the exaggeration of nocturnal orgies which
he has been slandered with--a reason that he should be deprived of his
chosen, harmless, nay edifying, way of life, and be committed in hoary
age for a sturdy vagabond?--

There was a Yorick once, whom it would not have shamed to have sate
down at the cripples' feast, and to have thrown in his benediction,
ay, and his mite too, for a companionable symbol. "Age, thou hast lost
thy breed."--

Half of these stories about the prodigious fortunes made by begging
are (I verily believe) misers' calumnies. One was much talked of in
the public papers some time since, and the usual charitable inferences
deduced. A clerk in the Bank was surprised with the announcement of
a five hundred pound legacy left him by a person whose name he was a
stranger to. It seems that in his daily morning walks from Peckham
(or some village thereabouts) where he lived, to his office, it had
been his practice for the last twenty years to drop his half-penny
duly into the hat of some blind Bartimeus, that sate begging alms
by the way-side in the Borough. The good old beggar recognised his
daily benefactor by the voice only; and, when he died, left all the
amassings of his alms (that had been half a century perhaps in the
accumulating) to his old Bank friend. Was this a story to purse up
people's hearts, and pennies, against giving an alms to the blind?--or
not rather a beautiful moral of well-directed charity on the one part,
and noble gratitude upon the other?

I sometimes wish I had been that Bank clerk.

I seem to remember a poor old grateful kind of creature, blinking, and
looking up with his no eyes in the sun--Is it possible I could have
steeled my purse against him?

Perhaps I had no small change.

Reader, do not be frightened at the hard words, imposition,
imposture--_give, and ask no questions_. Cast thy bread upon the
waters. Some have unawares (like this Bank clerk) entertained angels.

Shut not thy purse-strings always against painted distress. Act a
charity sometimes. When a poor creature (outwardly and visibly such)
comes before thee, do not stay to inquire whether the "seven small
children," in whose name he implores thy assistance, have a veritable
existence. Rake not into the bowels of unwelcome truth, to save
a halfpenny. It is good to believe him. If he be not all that he
pretendeth, _give_, and under a personate father of a family, think
(if thou pleasest) that thou hast relieved an indigent bachelor. When
they come with their counterfeit looks, and mumping tones, think them
players. You pay your money to see a comedian feign these things,
which, concerning these poor people, thou canst not certainly tell
whether they are feigned or not.


Mankind, says a Chinese manuscript, which my friend M. was obliging
enough to read and explain to me, for the first seventy thousand ages
ate their meat raw, clawing or biting it from the living animal, just
as they do in Abyssinia to this day. This period is not obscurely
hinted at by their great Confucius in the second chapter of his
Mundane Mutations, where he designates a kind of golden age by the
term Cho-fang, literally the Cooks' holiday. The manuscript goes on
to say, that the art of roasting, or rather broiling (which I take
to be the elder brother) was accidentally discovered in the manner
following. The swine-herd, Ho-ti, having gone out into the woods one
morning, as his manner was, to collect mast for his hogs, left his
cottage in the care of his eldest son Bo-bo, a great lubberly boy, who
being fond of playing with fire, as younkers of his age commonly are,
let some sparks escape into a bundle of straw, which kindling quickly,
spread the conflagration over every part of their poor mansion,
till it was reduced to ashes. Together with the cottage (a sorry
antediluvian make-shift of a building, you may think it), what was of
much more importance, a fine litter of new-farrowed pigs, no less than
nine in number, perished. China pigs have been esteemed a luxury all
over the East from the remotest periods that we read of. Bo-bo was in
the utmost consternation, as you may think, not so much for the sake
of the tenement, which his father and he could easily build up again
with a few dry branches, and the labour of an hour or two, at any
time, as for the loss of the pigs. While he was thinking what he
should say to his father, and wringing his hands over the smoking
remnants of one of those untimely sufferers, an odour assailed his
nostrils, unlike any scent which he had before experienced. What
could it proceed from?--not from the burnt cottage--he had smelt that
smell before--indeed this was by no means the first accident of the
kind which had occurred through the negligence of this unlucky young
fire-brand. Much less did it resemble that of any known herb, weed,
or flower. A premonitory moistening at the same time overflowed his
nether lip. He knew not what to think. He next stooped down to feel
the pig, if there were any signs of life in it. He burnt his fingers,
and to cool them he applied them in his booby fashion to his mouth.
Some of the crums of the scorched skin had come away with his fingers,
and for the first time in his life (in the world's life indeed, for
before him no man had known it) he tasted--_crackling_! Again he felt
and fumbled at the pig. It did not burn him so much now, still he
licked his fingers from a sort of habit. The truth at length broke
into his slow understanding, that it was the pig that smelt so, and
the pig that tasted so delicious; and, surrendering himself up to the
newborn pleasure, he fell to tearing up whole handfuls of the scorched
skin with the flesh next it, and was cramming it down his throat in
his beastly fashion, when his sire entered amid the smoking rafters,
armed with retributory cudgel, and finding how affairs stood, began to
rain blows upon the young rogue's shoulders, as thick as hail-stones,
which Bo-bo heeded not any more than if they had been flies. The
tickling pleasure, which he experienced in his lower regions, had
rendered him quite callous to any inconveniences he might feel in
those remote quarters. His father might lay on, but he could not beat
him from his pig, till he had fairly made an end of it, when, becoming
a little more sensible of his situation, something like the following
dialogue ensued.

"You graceless whelp, what have you got there devouring? Is it not
enough that you have burnt me down three houses with your dog's
tricks, and be hanged to you, but you must be eating fire, and I know
not what--what have you got there, I say?"

"O father, the pig, the pig, do come and taste how nice the burnt pig

The ears of Ho-ti tingled with horror. He cursed his son, and he
cursed himself that ever he should beget a son that should eat burnt

Bo-bo, whose scent was wonderfully sharpened since moming, soon raked
out another pig, and fairly rending it asunder, thrust the lesser
half by main force into the fists of Ho-ti, still shouting out "Eat,
eat, eat the burnt pig, father, only taste--O Lord,"--with such like
barbarous ejaculations, cramming all the while as if he would choke.

Ho-ti trembled every joint while he grasped the abominable thing,
wavering whether he should not put his son to death for an unnatural
young monster, when the crackling scorching his fingers, as it had
done his son's, and applying the same remedy to them, he in his turn
tasted some of its flavour, which, make what sour mouths he would for
a pretence, proved not altogether displeasing to him. In conclusion
(for the manuscript here is a little tedious) both father and son
fairly sat down to the mess, and never left off till they had
despatched all that remained of the litter.

Bo-bo was strictly enjoined not to let the secret escape, for the
neighbours would certainly have stoned them for a couple of abominable
wretches, who could think of improving upon the good meat which
God had sent them. Nevertheless, strange stories got about. It was
observed that Ho-ti's cottage was burnt down now more frequently than
ever. Nothing but fires from this time forward. Some would break out
in broad day, others in the night-time. As often as the sow farrowed,
so sure was the house of Ho-ti to be in a blaze; and Ho-ti himself,
which was the more remarkable, instead of chastising his son, seemed
to grow more indulgent to him than ever. At length they were watched,
the terrible mystery discovered, and father and son summoned to take
their trial at Pekin, then an inconsiderable assize town. Evidence was
given, the obnoxious food itself produced in court, and verdict about
to be pronounced, when the foreman of the jury begged that some of the
burnt pig, of which the culprits stood accused, might be handed into
the box. He handled it, and they all handled it, and burning their
fingers, as Bo-bo and his father had done before them, and nature
prompting to each of them the same remedy, against the face of all
the facts, and the clearest charge which judge had ever given,--to
the surprise of the whole court, townsfolk, strangers, reporters, and
all present--without leaving the box, or any manner of consultation
whatever, they brought in a simultaneous verdict of Not Guilty.

The judge, who was a shrewd fellow, winked at the manifest iniquity
of the decision: and, when the court was dismissed, went privily, and
bought up all the pigs that could be had for love or money. In a few
days his Lordship's town house was observed to be on fire. The thing
took wing, and now there was nothing to be seen but fires in every
direction. Fuel and pigs grew enormously dear all over the district.
The insurance offices one and all shut up shop. People built slighter
and slighter every day, until it was feared that the very science of
architecture would in no long time be lost to the world. Thus this
custom of firing houses continued, till in process of time, says my
manuscript, a sage arose, like our Locke, who made a discovery, that
the flesh of swine, or indeed of any other animal, might be cooked
(_burnt_, as they called it) without the necessity of consuming a
whole house to dress it. Then first began the rude form of a gridiron.
Roasting by the string, or spit, came in a century or two later,
I forget in whose dynasty. By such slow degrees, concludes the
manuscript, do the most useful, and seemingly the most obvious arts,
make their way among mankind.--

Without placing too implicit faith in the account above given, it must
be agreed, that if a worthy pretext for so dangerous an experiment as
setting houses on fire (especially in these days) could be assigned in
favour of any culinary object, that pretext and excuse might be found

Of all the delicacies in the whole _mundus edibilis_, I will maintain
it to be the most delicate--_princeps obsoniorum_.

I speak not of your grown porkers--things between pig and pork--those
hobbydehoys--but a young and tender suckling--under a moon
old--guiltless as yet of the sty--with no original speck of the
_amor immunditiae_, the hereditary failing of the first parent, yet
manifest--his voice as yet not broken, but something between a
childish treble, and a grumble--the mild forerunner, or _praeludium_,
of a grunt.

_He must be roasted._ I am not ignorant that our ancestors ate them
seethed, or boiled--but what a sacrifice of the exterior tegument!

There is no flavour comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp,
tawny, well-watched, not over-roasted, _crackling_, as it is well
called--the very teeth are invited to their share of the pleasure
at this banquet in overcoming the coy, brittle resistance--with the
adhesive oleaginous--O call it not fat--but an indefinable sweetness
growing up to it--the tender blossoming of fat--fat cropped in the
bud--taken in the shoot--in the first innocence--the cream and
quintessence of the child-pig's yet pure food--the lean, no lean, but
a kind of animal manna--or, rather, fat and lean (if it must be so) so
blended and running into each other, that both together make but one
ambrosian result, or common substance.

Behold him, while he is doing--it seemeth rather a refreshing warmth,
than a scorching heat, that he is so passive to. How equably he
twirleth round the string!--Now he is just done. To see the extreme
sensibility of that tender age, he hath wept out his pretty
eyes--radiant jellies--shooting stars--

See him in the dish, his second cradle, how meek he lieth!--wouldst
thou have had this innocent grow up to the grossness and indocility
which too often accompany maturer swinehood? Ten to one he would
have proved a glutton, a sloven, an obstinate, disagreeable
animal--wallowing in all manner of filthy conversation--from these
sins he is happily snatched away--

Ere sin could blight, or sorrow fade,
Death came with timely care--

his memory is odoriferous--no clown curseth, while his stomach half
rejecteth, the rank bacon--no coalheaver bolteth him in reeking
sausages--he hath a fair sepulchre in the grateful stomach of the
judicious epicure--and for such a tomb might be content to die.

He is the best of Sapors. Pine-apple is great. She is indeed almost
too transcendent--a delight, if not sinful, yet so like to sinning,
that really a tender-conscienced person would do well to pause--too
ravishing for mortal taste, she woundeth and excoriateth the lips
that approach her--like lovers' kisses, she biteth--she is a pleasure
bordering on pain from the fierceness and insanity of her relish--but
she stoppeth at the palate--she meddleth not with the appetite--and
the coarsest hunger might barter her consistently for a mutton chop.

Pig--let me speak his praise--is no less provocative of the appetite,
than he is satisfactory to the criticalness of the censorious palate.
The strong man may batten on him, and the weakling refuseth not his
mild juices.

Unlike to mankind's mixed characters, a bundle of virtues and vices,
inexplicably intertwisted, and not to be unravelled without hazard, he
is--good throughout. No part of him is better or worse than another.
He helpeth, as far as his little means extend, all around. He is the
least envious of banquets. He is all neighbours' fare.

I am one of those, who freely and ungrudgingly impart a share of the
good things of this life which fall to their lot (few as mine are in
this kind) to a friend. I protest I take as great an interest in my
friend's pleasures, his relishes, and proper satisfactions, as in mine
own. "Presents," I often say, "endear Absents." Hares, pheasants,
partridges, snipes, barn-door chicken (those "tame villatic fowl"),
capons, plovers, brawn, barrels of oysters, I dispense as freely as
I receive them. I love to taste them, as it were, upon the tongue
of my friend. But a stop must be put somewhere. One would not, like
Lear, "give every thing." I make my stand upon pig. Methinks it is an
ingratitude to the Giver of all good flavours, to extra-domiciliate,
or send out of the house, slightingly, (under pretext of friendship,
or I know not what) a blessing so particularly adapted, predestined, I
may say, to my individual palate--It argues an insensibility.

I remember a touch of conscience in this kind at school. My good
old aunt, who never parted from me at the end of a holiday without
stuffing a sweet-meat, or some nice thing, into my pocket, had
dismissed me one evening with a smoking plum-cake, fresh from the
oven. In my way to school (it was over London bridge) a grey-headed
old beggar saluted me (I have no doubt at this time of day that he was
a counterfeit). I had no pence to console him with, and in the vanity
of self-denial, and the very coxcombry of charity, school-boy-like,
I made him a present of--the whole cake! I walked on a little,
buoyed up, as one is on such occasions, with a sweet soothing of
self-satisfaction; but before I had got to the end of the bridge,
my better feelings returned, and I burst into tears, thinking how
ungrateful I had been to my good aunt, to go and give her good gift
away to a stranger, that I had never seen before, and who might be a
bad man for aught I knew; and then I thought of the pleasure my aunt
would be taking in thinking that I--I myself, and not another--would
eat her nice cake--and what should I say to her the next time I saw
her--how naughty I was to part with her pretty present--and the odour
of that spicy cake came back upon my recollection, and the pleasure
and the curiosity I had taken in seeing her make it, and her joy
when she sent it to the oven, and how disappointed she would feel
that I had never had a bit of it in my mouth at last--and I blamed
my impertinent spirit of alms-giving, and out-of-place hypocrisy of
goodness, and above all I wished never to see the face again of that
insidious, good-for-nothing, old grey impostor.

Our ancestors were nice in their method of sacrificing these tender
victims. We read of pigs whipt to death with something of a shock,
as we hear of any other obsolete custom. The age of discipline is
gone by, or it would be curious to inquire (in a philosophical light
merely) what effect this process might have towards intenerating and
dulcifying a substance, naturally so mild and dulcet as the flesh
of young, pigs. It looks like refining a violet. Yet we should be
cautious, while we condemn the inhumanity, how we censure the wisdom
of the practice. It might impart a gusto--

I remember an hypothesis, argued upon by the young students, when I
was at St. Omer's, and maintained with much learning and pleasantry on
both sides, "Whether, supposing that the flavour of a pig who obtained
his death by whipping (_per flagellationem extremam_) superadded a
pleasure upon the palate of a man more intense than any possible
suffering we can conceive in the animal, is man justified in using
that method of putting the animal to death?" I forget the decision.

His sauce should be considered. Decidedly, a few bread crums, done up
with his liver and brains, and a dash of mild sage. But, banish, dear
Mrs. Cook, I beseech you, the whole onion tribe. Barbecue your whole
hogs to your palate, steep them in shalots, stuff them out with
plantations of the rank and guilty garlic; you cannot poison them, or
make them stronger than they are--but consider, he is a weakling--a


As a single man, I have spent a good deal of my time in noting down
the infirmities of Married People, to console myself for those
superior pleasures, which they tell me I have lost by remaining as I

I cannot say that the quarrels of men and their wives ever made any
great impression upon me, or had much tendency to strengthen me in
those anti-social resolutions, which I took up long ago upon more
substantial considerations. What oftenest offends me at the houses
of married persons where I visit, is an error of quite a different
description;--it is that they are too loving.

Not too loving neither: that does not explain my meaning. Besides,
why should that offend me? The very act of separating themselves from
the rest of the world, to have the fuller enjoyment of each other's
society, implies that they prefer one another to all the world.

But what I complain of is, that they carry this preference so
undisguisedly, they perk it up in the faces of us single people so
shamelessly, you cannot be in their company a moment without being
made to feel, by some indirect hint or open avowal, that _you_ are not
the object of this preference. Now there are some things which give
no offence, while implied or taken for granted merely; but expressed,
there is much offence in them. If a man were to accost the first
homely-featured or plain-dressed young woman of his acquaintance, and
tell her bluntly, that she was not handsome or rich enough for him,
and he could not marry her, he would deserve to be kicked for his ill
manners; yet no less is implied in the fact, that having access and
opportunity of putting the question to her, he has never yet thought
fit to do it. The young woman understands this as clearly as if it
were put into words; but no reasonable young woman would think of
making this the ground of a quarrel. Just as little right have a
married couple to tell me by speeches, and looks that are scarce less
plain than speeches, that I am not the happy man,--the lady's choice.
It is enough that I know I am not: I do not want this perpetual

The display of superior knowledge or riches may be made sufficiently
mortifying; but these admit of a palliative. The knowledge which is
brought out to insult me, may accidentally improve me; and in the rich
man's houses and pictures,--his parks and gardens, I have a temporary
usufruct at least. But the display of married happiness has none of
these palliatives: it is throughout pure, unrecompensed, unqualified

Marriage by its best title is a monopoly, and not of the least
invidious sort. It is the cunning of most possessors of any exclusive
privilege to keep their advantage as much out of sight as possible,
that their less favoured neighbours, seeing little of the benefit,
may the less be disposed to question the right. But these married
monopolists thrust the most obnoxious part of their patent into our


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