LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Passages of a Working Life during Half a Century
Chapter VI

Contents Vol. I
Prelude 1
Prelude 2
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
‣ Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Contents Vol. II
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Note to Chapter XV
Contents Vol. III
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Note to Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Note to Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Note to Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Index of Persons
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I MAY trace my first venture, as an Editor and Publisher, into the dimly-descried region of Popular Literature, to a paper which I wrote in the Windsor Express of December 11, 1819, headed “Cheap Publications.” In this article I set forth, as one of the most remarkable, and in some degree most fearful “signs of the times,” the excessive spread of cheap publications almost exclusively directed to the united object of inspiring hatred of the Government and contempt of the Religious Institutions of the country. I noticed the singleness of purpose, in connexion with the commercial rivalry, with which this object had been pursued. With Cobbett’sTwopenny Register” a race was run in London by Wooller’sBlack Dwarf,” “The Republican,” “The Medusa’s Head,” “The Cap of Liberty,” and many more of the same stamp; whilst every large manufacturing town had its own peculiar vehicle of seditious and infidel opinions. I had mentioned in a previous article that a Manchester paper was advertising a catalogue of books, occupying one column, nearly the whole of which, aiming at the overthrow of Christianity, “are all published in numbers,” at a price accessible even to the unhappy mechanics who labour sixteen hours a-day for less than a shilling. I continued my essay on “Cheap Publications” by adverting to
the rapid advances that had been made during the previous twenty years in the Education of the Poor, upon systems of instruction under which a considerable proportion of young men moving in the working classes had grown up. It was amongst these persons, possessing a talent unknown to their fathers—perhaps a little ardent and presumptuous, and certainly craving after information with a passionate desire that might become either a blessing or a curse—that cheap publications had been most widely diffused. The anarchists of that day were a subtle and acute race. They had watched the progress of knowledge amongst the people. Their publications teemed with allusions to the increased intelligence of the working classes. “There is a new power in society, and they have combined to give that power a direction. The work must be taken out of their hands.”

After the lapse of more than forty years, I feel that a desire to exhibit some characteristics of the tentative process by which useful knowledge was then to be diffused will excuse me for giving a longer extract from this essay.

“We have already said, and it is perhaps necessary to repeat it, that there is a new power entrusted to the great mass of the working people, and that it is daily becoming of wider extent and greater importance. It has been most wisely and providently agreed to give that power one principal direction by interweaving it with religious knowledge and feelings, that they might thus blend with the whole current of mature thought, and sanctify the possession of the keys of learning to useful and innocent ends. We are yet disposed to think that this is not all which the creation of such a new and extraordinary
power demands. Knowledge must have its worldly as well as its spiritual range; it looks towards Heaven, but it treads upon the earth. The mass of useful books are not accessible to the poor; newspapers, with their admixture of good and evil, seldom find their way into the domestic circle of the labourer or artizan; the tracts which pious persons distribute are exclusively religious, and the tone of these is often either fanatical or puerile. The ‘twopenny trash,’ as it is called, has seen farther, with the quick perception of avarice or ambition, into the intellectual wants of the working-classes. It was just because there was no healthful food for their newly-created appetite, that sedition and infidelity have been so widely disseminated. The writers employed in this work, and their leader and prototype,
Cobbett, in particular, show us pretty accurately the sort of talent which is required to provide this healthful food. ‘Fas est ab hoste doceri.’ They state an argument with great clearness and precision; they divest knowledge of all its pedantic incumbrances; they make powerful appeals to the deepest passions of the human heart. Let a man of genius set out upon these principles, in the task of building up a more popular literature than we possess; and let him add, what the seditious and infidel writers have thrown away, the power of directing the affections to what is reverend and beautiful in national manners and institutions—tender and subduing in pure and domestic associations—sacred and glowing in what belongs to the high and mysterious destiny of the human mind—satisfying and consoling in the divine revelations of that destiny,—and then, were such a system embodied in one grand benevolent
design supplementary to the Instruction of the Poor, National Education, we sincerely think, would go on diffusing its blessings over every portion of the land, and calling up a truly English spirit wherever it penetrated. Neglect this provision, and we fear that no penal laws will prevent the craving after knowledge from being improperly gratified, and then—but the evidence of the danger is before us.”

The publication of this article led to an intimacy between Mr. Locker and myself, which I count amongst the most gratifying recollections of my life. Within twenty-four hours of its appearance he called upon me; and we very soon agreed to be joint editors of a Monthly Serial work, intended, in some degree, to supply the want I had pointed out. Within a fortnight our plans were matured; and in the “Express” of Christmas-day it was announced, that on the 1st of February, 1820, would appear No. I. of “The Plain Englishman.”

When I first had the happiness of acquiring the friendship of Mr. Locker he was in his forty-second year. His life, before he came to reside at Windsor, had been one of large and varied experience. The names of Edward Hawke were given to him in honour of the illustrious officer under whom his father had served in the middle of the last century. In his charming memoir of Admiral Locker, in “The Plain Englishman,” he dwells with just pride upon the attachment of our great naval hero to his father. “Horatio Nelson, to the last hour of his life, regarded him with the affection of a son and with the respect of a pupil.” After the battle of the Nile he did not forget his old commander amidst the flatteries and seductions which followed his victory.
“I have been your scholar,” he wrote; “it is you who taught me to board a French man-of-war, by your conduct in the Experiment. It is you who always said, ‘Lay a Frenchman close, and you will beat him.’” The private life of such a man, as glanced at by his son, is interesting. When he first went to sea, he would be surrounded on board a man-of-war with the coarseness described by
Smollett, and would observe, in the manners of a British admiral much of the language and demeanour of a boatswain’s mate. Sir Edward Hawke, whom he considered as the founder of the more gentlemanly spirit which had since been gradually gaining ground in the Navy, first weaned him from the vulgar habits of a cockpit. But the good old Admiral, in his dignified retirement as Lieutenant-Governor of Greenwich Hospital, retained much of the simplicity of his earlier time, in association with the refinement of another generation. Mr. Locker has graphically described his father’s fire-side on a winter evening. “The veteran sat in his easy chair, surrounded by his children. A few gray hairs peeped from beneath his hat, worn somewhat awry, which gave an arch turn to the head, which it seldom quitted. The anchor-button and scarlet waistcoat trimmed with gold marked the fashion of former times. Before him lay his book, and at his side a glass, prepared by the careful hand of a daughter who devoted herself to him with a tenderness peculiarly delightful to the infirmities of age. The benevolent features of the old man were slightly obscured by the incense of a “cigárre,” (the last remnant of a cockpit education,) which spread its fragrance in long wreaths of smoke around himself and the whole apartment. A footstool supported his
wounded leg, beneath which lay the old and faithful Newfoundland dog stretched on the hearth. Portraits of
King Charles the First and Van Tromp (indicating the characteristic turn of his mind) appeared above the chimney-piece; and a multitude of prints of British heroes covered the rest of the wainscot. A knot of antique swords and Indian weapons garnished the old-fashioned pediment of the door; a green curtain was extended across the room to fence off the cold air, to which an old sailor’s constitution is particularly sensitive.” This picture is rich in associations of a past age; but scarcely so much so as another sketch which reminds us of Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim: “The chief person in his confidence was old Boswell,—the self-invested minister of the extraordinaries of the family, who looked upon the footman as a jackanapes, and on the female servants as incapable of ‘understanding his honour.’ Boswell had been in his time a smart young seaman, and formerly rowed the stroke-oar in the captain’s barge. After many a hard gale and long separation, the association was renewed in old age, and to a bystander had more of the familiarity of ancient friendship than the relation of master and servant. ‘Has your honour any further commands?’ said Boswell, as he used to enter the parlour in the evening, while throwing his body into an angle he made his reverence, and shut the door with his opposite extremity at the same time. ‘No, Boswell, I think not, unless indeed you’re disposed for a glass of grog before you go.’ ‘As your honour pleases,’ was the established reply.” “The grog is produced, and the two veterans spin yarns about their adventures in the Nautilus, up the Mississippi; the poor
Indians, who won all their hearts; the great black snake that nearly throttled the serjeant of marines, ‘And the rattlesnake, too, that your honour killed with your cane, five and forty feet,’ ‘Avast, Boswell, mind your reckoning there; ’twas but twelve, you rogue, and that is long enough in all conscience.’”

My friend had the advantage of an Eton education; but he was destined for an active rather than a learned life. He was in a government-office till he was twenty-three, and then became Private Secretary to Sir Edward Pellew. When his admiral was commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, Mr. Locker discharged the arduous duties of Secretary to the Fleet. He had a printing-press on board the flag-ship which materially assisted his labours. In his official capacity he visited Napoleon at Elba, a few days after the fallen Emperor had taken possession of his narrow territory. His narrative of their conversations is exceedingly interesting. (“Plain Englishman,” vol. iii. p. 475.) After the peace, Mr. Locker married, and came to reside at Windsor. From the period when our intimate acquaintance commenced, I enjoyed his friendship for a quarter of a century. He was to me an example of a true gentleman—intelligent, well-read, energetic, charitable, religious, tolerant—such as I had scarcely met in the limited society in which I lived when I first knew him. He soon removed from Windsor, to become the Secretary of Greenwich Hospital, and afterwards the Resident Civil Commissioner. His hospitable home was always open to me; his active friendship was never withheld; his judicious advice was my stay in many a doubt and difficulty.

For three years Mr. Locker and I worked together,
with a cordiality never disturbed, in conducting “
The Plain Englishman.” Our views were set forth in an Introduction, which I wrote. Much of this composition had necessarily regard to the peculiar danger of that period—the irreligion and disloyalty that were associated, or seemed to be associated, with the spread of education. We were prepared to meet this danger in an honest spirit: “We think highly of the understandings of the people of our country. We shall address them, therefore, not as children, but as men and women. If we combat Infidelity, we shall look for our arguments in those volumes which have made the deepest impression on the wise and learned. If we would disprove the falsehoods which designing persons have propagated against our Government, we shall republish those reasons for a reverence of its forms and institutions which have convinced the ablest minds, and shown them its practical excellence. If we would awaken all the noble feelings which belong to the real patriot, we shall go back into the chronicles of old for a history of those deeds which rouse the spirit ‘as with a trumpet.’ We shall not conceal anything or distort anything. We shall enable all who seek for knowledge to judge for themselves.”

This plain avowal did not receive the approbation of the constituted authorities for making the people wiser and better. The Christian Knowledge Society was, at that period, the representative of what was supine, timid, and time-serving in the Church. That venerable corporation had not yet roused itself into activity, to meet the new wants created by the growing ability to read. It had a depository of books, in which were to be found antiquated works on the Evidences, such as that of the learned and amiable Bishop
Wilson, entitled “Instructions for the Indians,”—so low was the intellectual power of his countrymen rated by the good prelate. Many new compilations had they in their store, through which they hoped to meet the evils of the time, by talking to working people as if they were as innocent of all knowledge, both of good and evil, as in the days when their painstaking mothers committed them to the edifying instruction of the village schoolmistress, to be taught to sit still and hold their tongues, forty in a close room, for three hours together, at the moderate price of twopence each per week. They meddled not with dangerous Science or more dangerous History. Poetry and all works of Imagination they eschewed. Over their collection of dry bones the orthodox publishers, Messrs. Rivington, presided. My brother-editor believed that this time-honoured Society would willingly lend a helping hand to our well-meant endeavour. Their booksellers agreed to be our London publishers. But High-Church frowned; and we were driven to the Low-Church rivals of the shop that had long had “the Bible and Crown” over its door. We had fallen into the common error of the infancy of Popular Knowledge, in believing that any scheme for its diffusion could be successful which was not immediately addressed to the people themselves, without in any degree depending upon the patronage of gratuitous, and therefore suspicious, distribution, by the superiors of those for whose perusal works of a popular character are devised. It was well for us that we got out of the shackles of this Society, which was then wholly ignorant of the intellectual wants and capabilities of the working population; and would have insisted upon maintaining
the habit of talking to thinking beings, and for the most part to very acute thinking beings, in the language of the nursery—the besetting weakness of the learned and aristocratic, from the very first moment that they began to prattle about bestowing the blessings of education. If we were tolerated in the adoption of a higher tone, we must still have assumed the attitude of writers who had come down from their natural elevation to impart a small portion of their wisdom to persons of very inferior understanding. “The Schoolmaster was abroad,”—and so was
Cobbett. As Scarlett always won a verdict by getting close to the confiding twelve as if he were a thirteenth juryman, so Cobbett forced his “Register” into every workshop and every cottage, not only by using the plainest English, but by identifying himself with the every-day thoughts—the passions, the prejudices—of those whom he addressed. It was very long before any of us who aspired to be popular instructors learnt the secret of his influence, and could exhibit the “vigour of the bow” without “the venom of the shaft.”

The title-page of “The Plain Englishman” some what too prominently described the work as “comprehending Original Compositions, and Selections from the best Writers, under the heads of The Christian Monitor; The British Patriot; The Fireside Companion.” I look back upon this division of subjects as a mistake. In 1832, at the commencement of my editorship of “The Penny Magazine,” Dr. Arnold wrote to Mr. W. Tooke, the Treasurer of the Useful Knowledge Society, to speak in terms of somewhat extravagant commendation of a short article on Mirabeau which I had written; and to express his
opinion that the infusion of religious feeling into the treatment of secular subjects was far more valuable for popular instruction than any direct exhortations.* In “The Plain Englishman” it was perhaps essential to our objects to have separate papers on religious matters; but I am inclined to think that they lost much of their usefulness by standing separate from those of “The British Patriot” and “The Fireside Companion.” In the same way the historical and constitutional articles of the second section would have had a much better chance of being read if they had been mixed up with the third miscellaneous division. At any rate, as we soon became aware, our Serial stood very little chance of an extensive natural sale amongst the young and newly half-educated. A Weekly Penny or Twopenny Sheet, such as I had proposed in 1812, might have had a better chance of success, but still a very small chance. I could not have rendered it attractive by pictures, in the then condition of wood-engraving, without a greater cost than the probable circulation of such a work would have justified. The good engravers were few, and the Art had been almost lost since the death of
Bewick. For ordinary purposes of book-illustration it was scarcely used. “The Mirror,” established about that time, was slightly but very indifferently illustrated. Its laudable endeavours to furnish information and amusement, without stirring up the passions of the people, were not crowned with any signal success. The great artist of half a century, whose etchings and whose designs for wood present that rare union of truth and fancy which has made Hogarth im-

* Life of Dr. Arnold.

mortal, was at that time enlisted in the work of political caricature, in which he was the creative spirit whilst another gave the rough idea. When
William Hone and George Cruikshank met in 1820, to devise “The Political House that Jack built,” there was a veracious man present who has described to me one of the amusing scenes of which he was a witness. The obscure publisher of “Parodies” in 1817,—who, with his bag of books spread on the table of the King’s Bench, had done battle against the ablest and boldest judge of the time, and had driven him from the field,—was now a public character. Whatever little stinging pamphlets he issued were sure to find their way over the land. But assurance of success was made doubly sure when he had enlisted Cruikshank in the cause which to them appeared resistance to oppression and vindication of innocence. Three friends—fellow conspirators, if you like—are snugly ensconced in a private room of a well-accustomed tavern. Hone produces his scheme for “The House that Jack built.” He reads some of his doggerel lines. The author wants a design for an idea that is clear enough in words, but is beyond the range of pictorial representation. The artist pooh-poohs. The bland publisher is pertinacious, but not dictatorial. My friend, Alfred Fry, the most earnest, straightforward, and argumentative of men, is no greater judge of the limits of Art than the man who had the best of the discussion with Lord Ellenborough but cannot vanquish or convince George Cruikshank. “Wait a moment,” says the artist. The wine—perhaps the grog—is on the table. He dips his finger in his glass. He rapidly traces wet lines on the mahogany. A single figure starts into life.
Two or three smaller figures come out around the first head and trunk—a likeness in its grotesqueness. The publisher cries “Hoorah.” The looker-on is silent after this rapid manifestation of a great power. A pen-and-ink sketch is completed on the spot. The bottle circulates briskly or the rummers are replenished. Politics are the theme, whether of agreement or disputation. Alfred Fry quotes Greek, which neither of his auditors understand, but that is no matter. There is one upon whom his learning will not be thrown away. He gets admission to the House of Lords during the Queen’s trial, and passes on to
Mr. Denman a slip of paper which contains a sentence from Athenaeus. The apt quotation appears in the official Minutes of the Proceedings. This recollection of Cruikshank and his friends may seem out of place; but it is not wholly without relation to the slow progress of my “Plain Englishman.” The violent politics of that unhappy time were all-absorbing. The newspapers furnished the most stimulating reading. Even Cobbett, with his denunciations of boroughmongers and bank-directors, was little heeded. The pamphlet-buyers rushed to Hone. “The House that Jack built” ran through forty-seven editions; “The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder,” forty-four; “Non mi ricordo,” thirty one. London, and indeed all the kingdom, had gone mad. It would be very long before the people would listen to the small voice of popular knowledge, which possessed no ephemeral influence, and which was utterly drowned in the howlings of that storm.

In such a heaving up of the crust of society by the volcanic fires below, it was not very likely that the benevolent optimism of our Monthly Serial would
produce much influence upon the peasant and the mechanic, each designated by us as “The Plain Englishman of the Working Classes.” Looking at the “burning fiery furnace” that we have all walked through since that period, it seems to me something like hypocrisy when I wrote, in 1820, of the Plain Englishman who felt, if he could not describe, the foundations of his respectability. But it was not hypocrisy. I believed what I wrote when I talked of “the happiness peculiar to the course of peaceful labour;” of “the security which rendered him master of his own possessions, however small;” of “the kind look or the benevolent visit from his wealthier neighbour, which cheered him in his humble station.” It certainly was not true,—as regarded the majority of those who earned their bread by the sweat of their brow,—that the Plain Englishman “viewed the difference of ranks without envy, convinced that, as subjects of the same laws, sharers in the same infirmities, and heirs of the same salvation, the rich and the poor of England were all equal.”* I followed in the wake of men most anxious for the welfare of the lower classes, but who were at that time convinced that the first and greatest object of all popular exhortation was to preach from the text of St. James, “Study to be quiet.” There never was a more sound political economist than
Dr. John Bird Sumner—never one who took a more enlarged view of the necessity of looking at economical questions over a wider area than that which was bounded by the material “wealth of nations.” He was amongst our first contributors. His “Conversations with an Un-

* “Plain Englishman,” vol. i. Introduction.

believer,” or “
Dialogues between Eusebius and Alciphron” may be regarded as elegant cooling mixtures such as a timid physician might prescribe to a patient in a burning fever. He made no attempt to grapple stoutly with the arguments of the “Unbeliever,” as he would probably have done with the opinions of the “Communist.” He meets the Unbeliever in the mild persuasive spirit which was the index of his own character—no assumption of superiority, no anathemas. This tone was perhaps scarcely suited to the time; but, after all, the lessons of the Christian teacher must win before they can convince. The heart must be touched before the reason can be subjected. Even the style that borders upon the poetical may allure, and then hold captive, those, especially the young, whom a severer logic might repel. Taylor has probably made more converts than Barrow. Nothing can be prettier than the following opening of a “Conversation,” as he was returning from his parish church on Christmas-day, and fell in with an acquaintance whom he knew to entertain what he called free thoughts on the subject of Revelation: “I always pity you, Alciphron, and particularly at the present season. The air of cheerfulness which so generally prevails, and makes even winter smile, must fill you with melancholy when it reminds you of the errors of your fellow-creatures. The village steeple, which from time immemorial has been accustomed to proclaim the message of glad tidings, must appear to you to usher in the reign of superstition; since bells repeat what the hearers think. No sight is more welcome to my eye than that of those knots of country people, as they wind among the hills which intercept the spire from our
view, returning in family groups from the church where their fathers and forefathers have been long used to celebrate the assurance of God’s good-will towards men. It brings a thousand delightful associations to my mind. You, the meanwhile, must be inwardly lamenting such idle commemoration of the origin of their bondage and their error. To-day, too, the sun re-appearing after a season of unusual gloominess and severity assorts with the impressions on my mind. The clouds and darkness which had long shrouded the throne of God seem suddenly dispersed; the scene is lighted up and brightens; but yet it is the sunshine of winter still. For you, and such as you, who close your eyes against the light—and many others who hate the light because their deeds are evil,—spread a gloom over the distance, and, like the patches of snow which lie unmelted on the hills, remind us that it is a wintry world after all.” Alciphron argues that Revelation is an imposture, and that “an army of well-paid priests is leagued together to keep up the deceit.” Eusebius answers him thus: “So you have really been persuaded by
Paine and his disciples to imagine that a Christian minister, for the sake of lucre, imposes on the credulity of his hearers a system of Religion which he knows to be without foundation! I little expected an insinuation like this from any adversary less ignorant than Carlile, or less vulgar than Paine. But, to meet you here also, you forget that the benefices which engage your well-paid army to practise this baseness, do not average a hundred pounds per annum; you forget how many follow their profession to their grave, without ever obtaining one of the lowest of its prizes. Would not the same education and the same talents,
exerted in any other profession, ensure a much higher reward? Depend upon it, if the clergy had no other than a temporal inducement to maintain the Christian faith, it would not continue twenty years.” Before our excellent contributor had finished his career of piety and active goodness as archbishop, he would have had a perfect experience that the Alciphrons never point their attacks upon the well-paid army by the example of the under-paid curate of a hundred a year. In that great lottery the prizes are sufficient to keep even the worldly aspirants stedfast, as
Sydney Smith wisely and wittily argued. And yet such a man as the late Archbishop of Canterbury might win the highest prize, and still be as spiritually-minded as he was when thus writing in his pretty parish of Mapledurham. The mildness with which the commonplace objection is met might have the effect of leading some, step by step, to go deeper into the great question, glad to have their surface doubts cleared away with a tender hand.

The “Lectures on the Bible and Liturgy” contributed to “The Plain Englishman” by Mr. Locker, were the substance of a course of familiar Addresses delivered by him to his shipmates on board the Caledonia, when he was Secretary of the Mediterranean Fleet. They have been published in a separate volume, and well deserve to hold a place in an elementary library of Christian instruction; for they are realities. They were addressed to sailors who required no subtle arguments of doctrine to induce them to be religious. They were plain, earnest, affectionate. They must have touched the heart of “Poor Jack,” like Dibdin’s transfusion into nautical
language of Hamlet’s “there’s a special Providence in the fall of a sparrow.” They have passed into oblivion. Our theology, like our novels, has become sensational.

Amongst our intimate and constant contributors was a scholar whose memory I regard with sincere respect—the Rev. J. M. Turner, who succeeded Daniel Wilson as bishop of Calcutta. His papers on the “Naval Victories” are capital summaries of those great triumphs which kept England safe in the midst of dangers that looked overwhelming. When I knew him he was private tutor at Eton to the sons of Lord Londonderry. In religion, tolerant; in politics, almost liberal. I often met him at Mr. Locker’s table at Greenwich; and never left him without feeling that he was a friend to make one wiser and better. We passed into different spheres of exertion. His last letter to me was one of encouragement to go on with a bolder attempt at Popular Instruction than our “Plain Englishman.” To our “British Patriot” we had a valuable contributor in a personal friend—John Steer, who was diligently studying as a pupil of Mr. Chitty. His mastery of the principles of jurisprudence and the practice of the courts was evidenced in his excellent papers on “Popular Law.” His valuable life was cut short before he reached that eminence at the Bar which seemed fairly within his power to attain.

For myself, I worked with hearty good will at our Miscellany. It took me out of the region of political controversy, for which I had no great love at any time, and especially in times when it was very difficult to be impartial and sincere. A journalist in my position was between the Scylla of bad government,
and the Charybdis of no government. In “
The Plain Englishman” it was impossible to allude to the necessity of any Parliamentary Reform; for the Radical Reformers were sending their foxes all over the country, with lighted brands at their tails, to burn the standing corn and the vineyards and olives. We were friends of Catholic Emancipation, and yet we dared not advocate so vital a change without a dread that the Church of England would lose its anchorage. The scandalous abuses of the Irish Church could not be spoken of; although I have heard one of the ablest of our reverend associates devoutly wish that the rope could be cut by which the gallant ship towed the overladen and rotten hulk through a perilous sea. I had to write a “Monthly Retrospect of Public Affairs,” in which the first necessity was caution. For a year or more all “Public Affairs” were seething in a witch’s cauldron, with the scum uppermost. I had to write, here and elsewhere, about the Queen’s trial. I said truly, “We have restrained ourselves from the expression, almost from the admission, of any decided conviction in this matter.” But not the less did I feel that Caroline of Brunswick was an injured wife, although I could not doubt that she was a depraved woman. Why, I asked of my brother-editor, was Lord Exmouth, unused to take part in politics, so marked in his manifestation of a hostile feeling towards the Queen? “We saw and heard too much in the Caledonia of what was passing on the Italian shores. The lady came one day on board, and was received with all the honours due to her rank. She dined at the Admiral’s table, and left an impression that will never be forgotten. Her talk was of such a nature
that Lord Exmouth ordered the midshipman to leave the cabin.”

If much of the wide domain of domestic politics was tabooed to us, there was a region where we could “expatiate free,” in advocating certain social improvements of whose efficacy no one now doubts. The doubters and the adversaries of reforms which the people might effect themselves were then a majority. An excellent friend of my youth, who had established an extensive practice as a surgeon in London—John Cole—wrote several papers of this nature. An admirable article on “Cleanliness and Ventilation” suggests how little had been accomplished twenty years before the days of Arnott, and Kay, and Southwood Smith, and Chadwick. My friend told a great moral truth when he said, “If men are once so far overtaken by sloth or poverty as to submit unresistingly to the utter destitution of comfort that attends excessive dirtiness, all sense of shame will soon be lost, and with it all disposition to exertion.” But London then, and most other great towns, had a very insufficient supply of water for the preservation of cleanliness. He spoke of the most expensive of luxuries when he talked of the advantages of a tepid bath once a week. The young men and women of the present day may incline to believe that a medical practitioner was giving very unnecessary advice, suited only to the darkest ages, when he wrote, “Those who can be brought to venture on so unheard of a thing as to wash the whole of their bodies, will generally be induced to repeat the experiment from the comfort it affords.” The household sages of the last years of George III. had heard that there was “Death in the Pot;” and they were perfectly satis-
fied that there was Death in the Bath, as a domestic institution. “You have killed my mother,” said a good housewife of the Lake District to
Miss Martineau;—“she never had washed her feet till you persuaded her, and this is the end on’t.” When Mr. Cole was treating of Ventilation and Cleanliness, he was setting forth some of the then neglected “modern instances” of scientific discovery which have come to be popular “wise saws.” Yet still it is necessary to preach from this text: “In the construction of houses for the poor, the great object of ventilation has too generally been overlooked.” My friend wrote also some capital articles on “Clothing,” and “The Management of Infants.” I had myself seen some of the miseries of badly-situated dwellings. There was a memorable flood at Eton and the lower parts of Windsor, in the December of 1821; Eton was traversed in boats. Provisions were taken in at the windows by the unfortunate persons in the upper rooms of many a house. Looking from the North Terrace, “the expanse below of mead and grove” was one vast lake. In “Hints to the Cottager on the Choice of a Dwelling,” I wrote, “There are many dangerous fevers which are produced by the vicinity of stagnant waters; and houses which, from their site, are constantly damp, expose those who inhabit them to rheumatism, croup, ague, and other painful disorders. The same effects are produced by dwelling-houses which are subject to occasional inundations of rivers. We have lately seen the misery which is produced by such a circumstance; and are quite sure that none would be subject to the visits of a flood if they could possibly avoid it. To be driven in cold weather from the accustomed fireside; to
shiver in bed-rooms which have probably no grate; to have two or three feet of water running through the lower part of the house, destroying many things and injuring more; and at last, when the inundation ceases, to find the whole dwelling damp and miserable for several weeks;—this is a visitation which no one would willingly seek.”

I have now been separated for nearly forty years from the home of my youth and my early manhood. When I trace in various faithful records the evidence of my intense local attachment to Windsor, I wonder how I ever endured this separation. In “The Plain Englishman” I wrote a series of simple Tales. It is long since I looked at them; but now I am struck with the local colour which nearly all of them exhibit. There are personal recollections of a deeper character associated with “The Plain Englishman.” During the summer and autumn of its first year I occupied a cottage on the bank of the Thames. In the winter I was settled in a house to me most interesting in its connexion with the dim antiquity of the Castle. Its entrance was in the smaller cloisters to the north of St. George’s Chapel, but its principal rooms were over the great Cloister on the east of the Chapel. I wrote here in the most charming of studies. The organ swell, the choral harmonies, more solemn in their indistinctness, often made me pause at my work and throw down my pen, to surrender my thoughts to the spiritual charm. The ceiling of this antique room was of the most exquisite carving—so beautiful that George Cattermole, then a young man doing task-work for John Britton, was my guest for a day or two, that he might preserve it in one of his charming architectural drawings. There is no fear now of
its destruction, for this suite of rooms forms part of the Chapter-House of the College of Windsor. In 1821, I rented this unique dwelling of the Dean and Canons. Beautiful it was, but the want of free air made it unfit for healthful existence. Here we had a daughter born; here we lost a son. My dear friend
Matthew Davenport Hill here passed some happy hours with us at Christmas. Before Easter I had to record “My First Grief.” I was then, as I am now, as little disposed as Coriolanus was, to show my wounds in the market-place; but my feelings overflowed into a paper which I printed in “The Plain Englishman.” Two sentences will be sufficient to mark this passage in my life. “Until I had reached my thirtieth year I had known nothing of what I can properly term sorrow. The evils of mortality had not begun to come home to me. The wings of the destroying angel had rested upon the dwellings of my neighbours; but death had never yet crossed my threshold, and sickness seldom. I had heard the voice of misery like the mutterings of a distant storm; but the thunder had not yet burst over my head—I had not covered my eyes from the passing lightning.” . . . . “I now knew, for the first time, what it is to have death about our hearths. The excitement of hope and fear in a moment passes away; and the contest between feeling and reason begins, with its alternation of passion and listlessness. It is some time before the image of death gets possession of the mind. We sleep, perchance, amidst a feverish dream of gloomy and indistinct remembrances. The object of our grief, it may be, has seemed to us present, in health and animation. We wake in a struggle between the
shadowy and the real world; and we require an effort of the intellect to believe that the earthly part of the being we have loved is no more than a clod of the valley.”

The Plain Englishman” was closed, upon the completion of the third volume, in December, 1822. I may incidentally mention, as a curious fact, that the title of one of our articles of that year anticipated the identical name of the Society which, in 1827, was enabled to accomplish much that I had dreamt of (and a great deal more), in my beginnings of Popular Literature. That paper was headed, “Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.”*

Plain Englishman, vol. iii., p. 277.