LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Lord Byron and Some of his Contemporaries
Recollections of the Author’s Life.

Lord Byron.
Mr. Moore.
Mr. Shelley. With a Criticism on his Genius.
Mr. Keats. With a Criticism on his Writings.
Mr. Dubois. Mr. Campbell. Mr. Theodore Hook. Mr. Mathews. Messrs. James & Horace Smith.
Mr. Fuseli. Mr. Bonnycastle. Mr. Kinnaird.
Mr. Charles Lamb.
Mr. Coleridge.
Recollections of the Author’s Life.
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“It is for slaves to lie, and for freemen to speak truth.

“In the examples, which I here bring in, of what I have heard, read, done, or said, I have forbid myself to dare to alter even the most light and indifferent circumstances. My conscience does not falsify one tittle. What my ignorance may do, I cannot say.”       Montaigne.



The Athenaeum
Monthly Review
J. G. Lockhart, Review of Hunt

My ancestors, on the father’s side, were Tories and Cavaliers, who fled from the tyranny of Cromwell, and settled in Barbadoes. For several generations, himself included, they were clergymen. My grandfather was Rector of St. Michael’s, in Bridgetown, Barbadoes. He was a good-natured man, and recommended the famous Lauder to the mastership of the free-school there; influenced, no doubt, partly by his pretended repentance, and partly by sympathy with his Toryism. Lauder is said to have been discharged for misconduct. I never heard that; but I have heard that his appearance was decent, and that he had a wooden leg: which is an anti-climax befitting his history. My grandfather was admired and beloved by his parishioners, for the manner in which he discharged his duties. He died at an early age, in consequence of a fever taken in the hot and damp air, while officiating incessantly at burials
during a mortality. His wife was an O’Brien, very proud of her descent from the kings of Ireland. She was as good-natured and beloved as her husband, and very assiduous in her attentions to the negroes and to the poor, for whom she kept a set of medicines, like my Lady Bountiful. They had two children besides my father;
Anne Courthope, who died unmarried; and Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Dayrell, Esq. of Barbadoes, father by a first marriage of the barrister of that name. I mention both of these ladies, because they will come among my portraits.

Leigh Hunt, 1810 Memoir

To these their children, the worthy rector and his wife were a little too indulgent. When my father was to go to the American Continent to school, the latter dressed up her boy in a fine suit of laced clothes, such as we see on the little gentlemen in Hogarth, but so splendid and costly, that when the good pastor beheld him, he was moved to utter an expostulation. Objection, however, soon gave way before the pride of all parties; and my father set off for school, ready spoilt, with plenty of money to spoil him more.

He went to college at Philadelphia, and became the scape-grace who smuggled in the wine, and bore the brunt of the tutors. My father took the degree of Master of Arts both at Philadelphia and New York. When he spoke the farewell oration on leaving college, two young ladies fell in love with him, one of whom he afterwards married. He was fair and handsome, with delicate features, a small aquiline nose, and blue eyes. To a graceful address he joined a remarkably fine voice, which he modulated with great effect. It was in reading, with this voice, the poets and other classics of England, that he completed the conquest of my mother’s heart. He used to spend his evenings in this manner with her and her family,—a noble way of courtship; and my grandmother
became so hearty in his cause, that she succeeded in carrying it against her husband, who wished his daughter to marry a wealthy neighbour.

London Magazine

My father was intended, I believe, to carry on the race of clergymen, as he afterwards did; but he went, in the first instance, into the law. The Americans united the practice of attorney and barrister. My father studied the law under articles to one of the chief persons in the profession; and afterwards practised with distinction himself. At this period (by which time all my brothers, now living, were born) the Revolution broke out; and he entered with so much zeal into the cause of the British Government, that besides pleading for Loyalists with great fervour at the bar, he wrote pamphlets equally full of party warmth, which drew on him the popular odium. His fortunes then came to a crisis in America. Early one morning, a great concourse of people appeared before his house. He came out,—or was brought. They put him into a cart prepared for the purpose, (conceive the anxiety of his wife!) and, after parading him about the streets, were joined by a party of the Revolutionary soldiers with drum and fife. The multitude then went with him to the house of Dr. Kearsley, a staunch Tory, who shut up the windows, and endeavoured to prevent their getting in. The Doctor had his hand pierced by a bayonet, as it entered between the shutters behind which he had planted himself. He was dragged out, and put into the cart all over blood; but he lost none of his intrepidity; for he answered all their reproaches and outrage with vehement reprehensions; and by way of retaliation on the “Rogue’s March,” struck up “God save the King.” My father gave way as little as the Doctor. He would say nothing that was dictated to him, nor renounce a single opinion; but, on the other hand, he maintained a
tranquil air, and endeavoured to persuade his companion not to add to their irritation. This was to no purpose. Dr. Kearsley continued infuriate, and more than once fainted from loss of blood and the violence of his feelings. The two Loyalists narrowly escaped tarring and feathering. A tub of tar, which had been set in a conspicuous place in one of the streets for that purpose, was overturned by an officer intimate with our family. My father, however, did not escape entirely from personal injury. One of the stones thrown by the mob gave him such a severe blow on the head, as not only laid him swooning in the cart, but dimmed his sight for life, so as to oblige him from that time to wear spectacles. At length, after being carried through every street in Philadelphia, the two captives were deposited, in the evening, in a prison in Market-street. What became of Dr. Kearsley, I cannot say. My father, by means of a large sum of money given to the sentinel who had charge of him, was enabled to escape at midnight. He went immediately on board a ship in the Delaware, that belonged to my grandfather, and was bound for the West Indies. She dropped down the river that same night; and my father went first to Barbadoes, and afterwards to England, where he settled.

My mother was to follow my father as soon as possible, which she was not able to do for many months. The last time she had seen him, he was a lawyer and a partisan, going out to meet an irritated populace. On her arrival in England, she beheld him in a pulpit, a clergyman, preaching tranquillity. When my father came over, he found it impossible to continue his profession as a lawyer. Some actors, who heard him read, advised him to go on the stage; but he was too proud for that, and went into the church. He was ordained by the celebrated Lowth, then Bishop of London; and he soon became so popular that
the Bishop sent for him, and remonstrated against his preaching so many charity sermons. He said it was ostentatious in a clergyman, and that he saw his name in too many advertisements. My father thought it strange, but acquiesced. It is true, he preached a great many of these sermons. I am told, that for a whole year he did nothing else: and perhaps there was something in his manner a little startling to the simplicity of the Church of England. I remember when he came to that part of the Litany where the reader prays for deliverance “in the hour of death and at the day of judgment,” he used to make a pause at the word “death,” and drop his voice on the rest of the sentence. The effect was striking; but repetition must have hurt it. I am afraid it was a little theatrical. His delivery, however, was so much admired by those who thought themselves the best judges, that Thomas Sheridan, father of the late Sheridan, came up to him one day after service, in the vestry, and complimented him on having profited so well from his Treatise on Reading the Liturgy. My father was obliged to tell him, that he had never seen it.

I do not know whether it was Lowth, but it was some Bishop, to whom my father one day, in the midst of a warm discussion, being asked “if he knew who he was?” replied, with a bow, “Yes, my Lord; dust and ashes.” Doubtless the new clergyman was warm and imprudent. In truth, he made a great mistake when he entered the profession. By the nature of the tenure, it was irretrievable; and his whole life after was a series of errors, arising from the unsuitability of his position. He was fond of divinity; but it was as a speculator, and not as a dogmatist, or one who takes upon trust. He was ardent in the cause of Church and State; but here he speculated too, and soon began to modify his opinions, which got him the ill-will of the Go-
vernment. He delighted his audiences in the pulpit; so much so, that he had crowds of carriages at the door. One of his congregations had an engraving made of him; and a lady of the name of Cooling, who was member of another, left him by will the sum of £500, as a testimony of the pleasure and advantage she had derived from his discourses. But unfortunately, after delighting his hearers in the pulpit, he would delight some of them a little too much over the table. He was neither witty nor profound; but he had all the substitutes for wit that animal spirits could supply: he was shrewd, spirited, and showy; could flatter without grossness; had stories to tell of lords whom he knew; and when the bottle was to circulate, it did not stand with him. All this was dangerous to a West Indian who had an increasing family, and was to make his way in the Church. It was too much for him; and he added another to the list of those who, though they might suffice equally for themselves and others in a more considerate and contented state of society, and seem born to be the delights of it, are only lost and thrown out in a system of things, which, by going upon the ground of individual aggrandizement, compels dispositions of a more sociable and reasonable nature either to become parties concerned, or be ruined in the refusal. It is doubtless incumbent on a husband and father to be careful under all circumstances; and it is very easy for most people to talk of the necessity of being so, and to recommend it to others, especially when they have been educated to that habit. Let those fling the first stone, who, with real inclination and talent for other things, (for the inclination may not be what they take it for,) confine themselves industriously to the duties prescribed them. There are more victims to errors committed by society themselves, than society choose to suppose. But I grant that a man is either bound to tell them so,
or to do as they do. My father unluckily had neither uneasiness enough in his blood, nor imagination enough in lieu of it, to enter sufficiently into the uneasiness of others, and so grapple vigorously with his fortune for their sakes; neither, on the other hand, had he enough energy of speculation to see what could be done towards rendering the world a little wiser: and as to the pride of cutting a figure a little above his neighbours, which so many men mistake for a better principle of action, he could dispense with that. As it was, he should have been kept at home in Barbadoes. He was a true exotic, and ought not to have been transplanted. He might have preached there, and quoted Horace, and been gentlemanly, and drank his claret, and no harm done. But, in a bustling, commercial state of society, where the enjoyment, such as it is, consists in the bustle, he was neither very likely to succeed, nor to meet with a good construction, nor to end his pleasant ways with pleasing either the world or himself.

It was in the pulpit of Bentinck Chapel, Lisson Green, Paddington, that my mother found her husband officiating. He published a volume of sermons preached there, in which there is little but elegance of diction and a graceful morality. His delivery was the charm; and, to say the truth, he charmed every body but the owner of the chapel, who looked upon rent as by far the most eloquent production of the pulpit. The speculation ended with the preacher’s being horribly in debt. Friends, however, were lavish of their assistance. Three of my brothers were sent to school; the other, at her earnest entreaty, went to live (which he did for some years) with Mrs. Spencer, a sister of Sir Richard Worsley, and a delicious little old woman, the delight of all the children of her acquaintance. My father and mother took breath, in the mean time, under the friendly roof of Mr. West, who had married her aunt. The aunt
and niece were much of an age, and both fond of books. Mrs. West, indeed, ultimately became a martyr to them; for the physician declared that she lost the use of her limbs by sitting indoors.

From Newman Street my father went to live in Hampstead Square, whence he occasionally used to go and preach at Southgate. The then Duke of Chandos had a seat in the neighbourhood of Southgate. He heard my father preach, and was so much pleased with him, that he requested him to become tutor to his nephew, Mr. Leigh; which my father did, and remained with his Grace’s family for several years. The Duke was Master of the Horse, and originated the famous epithet of “heaven-born minister,” applied to Mr. Pitt, which occasioned a good deal of raillery. I have heard my father describe him as a man of great sweetness of nature, and good-breeding. Mr. Leigh, who died not long since, Member of Parliament for Addlestrop, was son of the Duke’s sister, Lady Caroline. He had a taste for poetry, which has been inherited by his son and heir, Mr. Chandos Leigh; and, like him, published a volume of poems. He was always very kind to my father, and was, I believe, a most amiable man. It was from him I received my name. I was born at Southgate in a house now a boarding-school and called Eagle-Hall: a magnificent name for a “preacher’s modest mansion;” but I suppose it did not bear it then.

J. G. Lockhart, Review of Hunt

To be tutor in a ducal family is one of the roads to a bishoprick. My father was thought to be in the highest way to it. He was tutor in the house not only of a Duke, but of a State-officer, for whom the King had a personal regard. His manners were of the highest order; his principles in Church and State as orthodox, to all appearance, as could be wished; and he had given up flourishing prospects in America for their sake: but his West Indian temperament spoiled all. He also, as he
became acquainted with the Government, began to doubt its perfections; and the King, whose minuteness of information respecting the personal affairs of his subjects is well known, was doubtless prepared with questions which the Duke was not equally prepared to answer, and perhaps did not hazard.

My father, meanwhile, was getting more and more distressed. He removed to Hampstead a second time: from Hampstead he crossed the water; and the first room I have any recollection of, is a prison.

Mr. West (which was doubly kind in a man by nature cautious and timid) again and again took the liberty of representing my father’s circumstances to the King. It is well known that this artist enjoyed the confidence of his Majesty in no ordinary degree. The King would converse half a day at a time with him, while he was painting. His Majesty said he would speak to the bishops; and again, on a second application, he said my father should be provided for. My father himself also presented a petition; but all that was ever done for him, was the putting his name on the Loyalist Pension List for a hundred-a year;—a sum which he not only thought extremely inadequate for the loss of seven or eight times as much in America, a cheaper country, but which he felt to be a poor acknowledgment even for the active zeal he had evinced, and the things he had said and written; especially as it came late, and he was already involved. Small as it was, he was obliged to mortgage it; and from this time till the arrival of some relations from the West Indies, several years afterwards, he underwent a series of mortifications and distresses, not without great reason for self-reproach. Unfortunately for others, it might be said of him, what Lady Mary Wortley said of her kinsman, Henry Fielding, “that give him his leg of mutton and bottle of wine, and in the very thick
of calamity he would be happy for the time being.” Too well able to seize a passing moment of enjoyment, he was always scheming, never performing; always looking forward with some romantic plan which was sure to succeed, and never put in practice. I believe he wrote more titles of non-existing books than Rabelais. At length, he found his mistake. My poor father! He grew deeply acquainted with prisons, and began to lose his graces and his good name, and became irritable with conscious error, and almost took hope out of the heart that loved him, and was too often glad to escape out of its society. Yet such an art had he of making his home comfortable when he chose, and of settling himself to the most tranquil pleasures, that if she could have ceased to look forward about her children, I believe, with all his faults, those evenings would have brought unmingled satisfaction to her, when after settling the little apartment, brightening the fire, and bringing out the coffee, my mother knew that her husband was going to read
Saurin or Barrow to her, with his fine voice, and unequivocal enjoyment.

We thus struggled on between quiet and disturbance, between placid readings and frightful knocks at the door, and sickness, and calamity, and hopes which hardly ever forsook us. One of my brothers went to sea,—a great blow to my poor mother. The next was articled to an attorney. My brother Robert became pupil to an engraver, and my brother John apprentice to Mr. Reynell, the printer, whose kindly manners, and deep iron voice, I well remember and respect. I had also a regard for the speaking-trumpet, which ran all the way up his tall house, and conveyed his rugged whispers to his men. And his goodly wife, proud of her husband’s grandfather, the Bishop; never shall I forget how much I loved her for her portly smiles and good dinners, and
how often she used to make me measure heights with her fair daughter
Caroline, and found me wanting; which I thought not quite so hospitable.

As my father’s misfortunes, in the first instance, were owing to feelings the most respected, so the causes of them subsequently (and the reader will be good enough to keep this in mind) were not unmixed with feelings of the kindest nature. He hampered himself greatly with becoming security for other people; and, though unable to settle himself to any regular work, his pen was always at the service of those who required it for memorials or other helps. As to his children, he was healthy and sanguine, and always looked forward to being able to do something for them; and something for them he did, if it was only in grafting his animal spirits on the maternal stock, and setting them an example of independent thinking. But he did more. He really took great care, considering his unbusiness-like habits, towards settling them in some line of life. It is our faults, not his, if we have not been all so successful as we might have been: at least, it is no more his fault than that of the West Indian blood of which we all partake, and which has disposed all of us, more or less, to a certain aversion from business. And if it may be some vanity in us, at least it is no dishonour to our turn of mind, to hope, that we may have been the means of circulating more knowledge and entertainment in society, than if he had attained the bishoprick he looked for, and left us ticketed and labelled among the acquiescent.

Towards the latter part of his life, my father’s affairs were greatly retrieved by the help of his sister, Mrs. Dayrell, who came over with a property from Barbadoes. My aunt was generous; part of her property came among us also by a marriage; and my father’s West Indian sun
was again warm upon him. On his sister’s death, to be sure, his struggles recommenced, though nothing in comparison to what they had been. Recommence, however, they did; and yet so sanguine was he in his intentions to the last, and so accustomed had my
mother been to try to believe in him, and to persuade herself she did, that, not long before she died, he made the most solemn promises of amendment, which by chance I could not help overhearing, and which she received with a tenderness and a tone of joy, the remembrance of which brings the tears into my eyes. My father had one taste well suited to his profession, and in him, I used to think, remarkable. He was very fond of sermons, which he was rarely tired of reading, or my mother of hearing. I have mentioned the effect which these used to have upon her. When she died, he could not bear to think she was dead; yet retaining, in the midst of his tears, his indestructible tendency to seize on a cheering reflection, he turned his very despair into consolation; and in saying “She is not dead, but sleeps,” I verily believe the image became almost a literal thing with him. Besides his fondness for sermons, he was a great reader of the Bible. His copy of it is scored with manuscript; and I believe he read a portion of it every morning to the last, let him have been as right or as wrong as he pleased for the rest of the day. This was not hypocrisy: it was habit, and real fondness; though, while he was no hypocrite, he was not, I must confess, remarkable for being explicit about himself; nor did he cease to dogmatise in a sort of official manner upon faith and virtue, lenient as he thought himself bound to be to particular instances of frailty. To young people, who had no secrets from him, he was especially indulgent, as I have good reason to know. He delighted to show his sense of a candour in others, which I believe he would have practised himself, had he been taught it early. For many years before his death,
he had greatly relaxed in the orthodoxy of his religious opinions, and had totally changed his political. Both he and my mother had become Republicans and Unitarians. They were also Universalists, and great admirers of
Mr. Winchester, particularly my mother.* My father was willing, however, to hear all sides of the question, and used to visit the chapels of the most popular preachers of all denominations. His favourite among them, I think, was Mr. Worthington, who preached at a chapel in Long Acre, and had a strong natural eloquence. Politics and divinity occupied almost all the conversation that I heard at our fire-side. It is a pity my father had been so spoilt a child, and had got so much out of his sphere; for he could be contented with little. He was one of the last of the gentry who retained the old fashion of smoking. He indulged in it every night before he went to bed, which he did at an early hour; and it was pleasant to see him sit in his tranquil and gentlemanly manner, and relate anecdotes of “my Lord North” and the Rockingham administration, interspersed with those mild puffs and urbane resumptions of the pipe. How often have I thought of him under this aspect, and longed for the state of society that might have encouraged him to be more successful! Had he lived twenty years longer, he would have thought it was coming. He died in the year 1809, aged fifty-seven, and was buried in the church-yard in Bishopsgate Street. I remember they quarrelled over his coffin for the perquisites of the candles; which put me upon a great many reflections, on him and the world.

* “The Universalists cannot, properly speaking, be called a distinct sect, as they are frequently found scattered amongst various denominations. They are so named from holding the benevolent opinion that all mankind, nay, even the demons themselves, will be finally restored to happiness, through the mercy of Almighty God.”—History of All Religions and Religious Ceremonies, p. 263.


My grandfather, by my mother’s side, was Stephen Shewell, merchant of Philadelphia, who sent out his “argosies.” His mother was a quaker; and he himself, I believe, descended from a quaker stock. He had ships trading to England, Holland, and the West Indies, and used to put his sons and nephews in them as captains, probably to save charges; for, in every thing but stocking his cellars with provision, he was penurious. For sausages and “botargoes,” (first authors, perhaps, of the jaundice in our blood,) Friar John would have commended him. As Chaucer says,
“It snowèd, in his house of meat and drink.”
On that side of the family we seem all sailors and rough subjects, with a mitigation of quakerism; as, on the father’s, we are creoles and claret-drinkers, very polite and clerical.

My grandmother’s maiden name was Bickley. I believe her family came from Buckinghamshire. The coat of arms are three half moons; which I happen to recollect, because of a tradition we had, that an honourable augmentation was made to them of three wheat-sheaves, in reward of some gallant achievement performed in cutting off a convoy of provisions by Sir William Bickley, a partizan of the House of Orange, who was made a Banneret. My grandmother was an open-hearted, cheerful woman, of a good healthy blood, and as generous as her hus-
band was otherwise. The family consisted of five daughters and two sons. One of the daughters died unmarried: the three surviving ones are now wives, and mothers of families, in Philadelphia. They and their husbands, agreeably to the American law of equal division, are in the receipt of a pretty property in lands and houses; our due share of which, some inadvertence on our parts appears to have forfeited. I confess I often wish, at the close of a morning’s work, that people were not so excessively delicate on legal points, and so afraid of hurting the feelings of others, by supposing it possible for them to want a little of their grandfather’s money. But I believe I ought to blush, while I say this: and I do.—One of my uncles died in England, a mild, excellent creature, more fit for solitude than the sea. The other, my uncle Stephen, a fine handsome fellow of great good-nature and gallantry, was never heard of, after leaving the port of Philadelphia for the West Indies. He had a practice of crowding too much sail, which is supposed to have been his destruction. They said he did it “to get back to his ladies.” My uncle was the means of saving his namesake, my brother Stephen, from a singular destiny. Some Indians, who came into the city to traffic, had been observed to notice my brother a good deal. It is supposed they saw in his tall little person, dark face, and long black hair, a resemblance to themselves. One day they enticed him from my
grandfather’s house in Front Street, and taking him to the Delaware, which was close by, were carrying him off across the river, when his uncle descried them and gave the alarm. His threats induced them to come back; otherwise, it is thought, they intended to carry him into their own quarters, and bring him up as an Indian; so that instead of a rare character of another sort,—an attorney
who would rather compound a quarrel for his clients than get rich by it,—we might have had for a brother the Good Buffalo, Bloody Bear, or some such grim personage. I will indulge myself with the liberty of observing in this place, that with great diversity of character among us, with strong points of dispute even among ourselves, and with the usual amount, though not perhaps exactly the like nature, of infirmities common to other people,—some of us, may be, with greater,—we are all persons who inherit the power of making sacrifices for the sake of what we consider a principle.

My grandfather, though intimate with Dr. Franklin, was secretly on the British side of the question, when the American war broke out. He professed to be neutral, and to attend only to business; but his neutrality did not avail him. One of his most valuably laden ships was burnt in the Delaware by the Revolutionists, to prevent its getting into the hands of the British; and besides making free with his botargoes, they despatched every now and then a file of soldiers to rifle his house of every thing else that could be serviceable: linen, blankets, &c. And this, unfortunately, was only a taste of what he was to suffer; for, emptying his mercantile stores from time to time, they paid him with their continental currency, paper-money: the depreciation of which was so great as to leave him, at the close of the war, bankrupt of every thing but some houses, which his wife brought him; they amounted to a sufficiency for the family support: and thus, after all his cunning neutralities, and his preference of individual to public good, he owed all that he retained to a generous and unspeculating woman. His saving grace, however, was not on every possible occasion confined to his money. He gave a very strong instance (for him) of his partiality
to the British cause, by secreting in his house a gentleman of the name of
Slater, who commanded a small armed vessel on the Delaware, and who is now residing in London. Mr. Slater had been taken prisoner, and confined at some miles distance from Philadelphia. He contrived to make his escape, and astonished my grandfather’s family by appearing before them at night, drenched in the rain, which descends in torrents in that climate. They secreted him for several months, in a room at the top of the house.

W. Howitt, Homes & Haunts

My mother, at that time, was a brunette with fine eyes, a tall lady-like person, and hair blacker than is seen of English growth. It was supposed, that the Anglo-Americans already began to exhibit the influence of climate in their appearance. The late Mr. West told me, that if he had met myself or any of my brothers in the streets, he should have pronounced, without knowing us, that we were Americans. A likeness has been discovered between us and some of the Indians in his pictures. My mother had no accomplishments but the two best of all, a love of nature and of books. Dr. Franklin offered to teach her the guitar; but she was too bashful to become his pupil. She regretted this afterwards, partly no doubt for having missed so illustrious a master. Her first child, who died, was named after him. I know not whether the anecdote is new; but I have heard, that when Dr. Franklin invented the Harmonica, he concealed it from his wife, till the instrument was fit to play; and then woke her with it one night, when she took it for the music of angels. Among the visitors at my grandfather’s house, besides Franklin, was Thomas Paine; whom I have heard my mother speak of, as having a countenance that inspired her with terror. I believe his aspect was not captivating; but most likely his
political and religious opinions did it no good in the eyes of the fair loyalist.

My mother was diffident of her personal merit, but she had great energy of principle. When the troubles broke out, and my father took that violent part in favour of the King, a letter was received by her from a person high in authority, stating, that if her husband would desist from opposition to the general wishes of the Colonists, he should remain in security; but that if he thought fit to do otherwise, he must suffer the consequences which inevitably awaited him. The letter concluded with advising her, as she valued her husband’s and family’s happiness, to use her influence with him to act accordingly, To this, “in the spirit of old Rome and Greece,” as one of her sons has proudly and justly observed, (I will add, of Old England, and though contrary to her opinions then, of New America too) my mother replied, that she knew her husband’s mind too well, to suppose for a moment that he would so degrade himself; and that the writer, of the letter entirely mistook her, if he thought her capable of endeavouring to persuade him to any action contrary to the convictions of his heart, whatever the consequences threatened might be. Yet the heart of this excellent woman, strong as it was, was already beating with anxiety for what might occur; and on the day when my father was seized, she fell into a fit of the jaundice, so violent, as to affect her ever afterwards, and subject a previously fine constitution to every ill that came across it.

It was about two years before my mother could set off with her children for England. She embarked in the Earl of Effingham frigate, Captain Dempster; who from the moment she was drawn up the sides
of the vessel with her little boys, conceived a pity and respect for her, and paid her the most cordial attention. In truth, he felt more pity for her than he chose to express; for the vessel was old and battered, and he thought the voyage not without danger. Nor was it. They did very well till they came off the Scilly islands, when a storm arose which threatened to sink them. The ship was with difficulty kept above water. Here my mother again showed how courageous her heart could be, by the very strength of its tenderness. There was a lady in the vessel, who had betrayed weaknesses of various sorts during the voyage; and who even went so far as to resent the superior opinion, which the gallant Captain could not help entertaining of her fellow-passenger. My mother, instead of giving way to tears and lamentations, did all she could to keep up the spirits of her children. The lady in question did the reverse; and my mother, feeling the necessity of the case, and touched with pity for children in the same danger as her own, was at length moved to break through the delicacy she had observed, and expostulate strongly with her, to the increased admiration of the Captain, who congratulated himself on having a female passenger so truly worthy of the name of woman. Many years afterwards, near the same spot, and during a similar danger, her son, the writer of this book, with a wife and seven children around him, had occasion to call her to mind; and the example was of service, even to him, a man. It was thought a miracle that the Earl of Effingham was saved. It was driven into Swansea bay; and borne along, by the heaving might of the waves, into a shallow, where no vessel of so large a size ever appeared before; nor could it ever have got there, but by so unwonted an over-lifting.


Having been born nine years later than the youngest of my brothers, I have no recollection of my mother’s earlier aspect. Her eyes were always fine, and her person lady-like; her hair also retained its colour for a long period; but her brown complexion had been exchanged for a jaundiced one, which she retained through life; and her cheeks were sunken, and her mouth drawn down with sorrow at the corners. She retained the energy of her character on great occasions; but her spirit in ordinary was weakened, and she looked at the bustle and discord of the present state of society with a frightened aversion. My father’s danger, and the war-whoops of the Indians, which she heard in Philadelphia, had shaken her soul as well as frame. The sight of two men fighting in the streets would drive her in tears down another road; and I remember when we lived near the Park, she would take me a long circuit out of the way, rather than hazard time spectacle of the soldiers. Little did she think of the timidity into which she was thus inoculating me, and what difficulty I should have, when I went to school, to sustain all those fine theories, and that unbending resistance to oppression, which she inculcated upon me. However, perhaps it ultimately turned out for the best. One must feel more than usual for the sore places of humanity, even to fight properly in their behalf. Never shall I forget her face, as it used to appear to me coming lip the cloisters, with that weary hang of the head on one side, and that melancholy smile!

One holiday, in a severe winter, as she was taking me home, she was petitioned for charity by a woman, sick and ill clothed. It was in Blackfriars’ Road; I think about midway. My mother, with the tears in her eyes, turned up a gate-way, or some such place, and beckoning the woman to follow, took off her flannel petticoat,
and gave it her. It is supposed that a cold which ensued, fixed the rheumatism upon her for life. Actions like these have doubtless been often performed, and do not of necessity imply any great virtue in the performer; but they do, if they are of a piece with the rest of the character. Saints have been made for actions no greater.

The reader will allow me to quote a passage out of a poem of mine, because it was suggested by a recollection I had upon me of this excellent woman. It is almost the only passage in that poem worth repeating: which I mention, in order that he may lay the quotation purely to its right account, and not suppose I am anxious to repeat my verses because I fancy I cannot write bad ones. In every thing but the word “happy,” the picture is from life. The bird spoken of is the nightingale,—the
“Bird of wakeful glow
Whose louder song is like the voice of life,
Triumphant o’er death’s image; but whose deep,
Low, lonelier note is like a gentle wife,
A poor, a pensive, yet a happy one,
Stealing, when day-light’s common tasks are done,
An hour for mother’s work; and singing low,
While her tired husband and her children sleep.”

I have spoken of my mother during my father’s troubles in England. She stood by him through them all; and in every thing did more honour to marriage, than marriage did good to either of them: for it brought little happiness to her, and too many children to both. Of his changes of opinion, as well as of fortune, she partook also. She became an Unitarian, an Universalist, a Republican: and in her new opinions, as in her old, was apt, I suspect, to be a little too peremp-
tory, and to wonder at those who could be of the other side. It was her only fault. I believe she would have mended it, had she lived till now. I have been thought, in my time, to speak in unwarrantable terms of kings and princes. I think I did, and that society is no longer to be bettered in that manner, but in a much calmer and nobler way. But I was witness, in my childhood, to a great deal of suffering; I heard of more all over the world; and kings and princes bore a great share in the causes to which they were traced. Some of those causes were not to be denied. It is now understood, on all hands, that the continuation of the American war was owing to the personal stubbornness of the
King. My mother, in her indignation at him, for being the cause of so much unnecessary bloodshed, thought that the unfortunate malady into which he fell, was a judgment on him from Providence. The truth is, it was owing to mal-organization, and to the diseases of his father and mother. Madness, indeed, considered as an overwrought state of the will, may be considered as the natural malady of kings. They are in a false position, with regard to the rest of society; and their marriages with none but each other’s families tend to give the race its last deterioration. But in the case of the late unhappy monarch, the causes were obvious. My mother would now have reasoned better. She would have increased her stock of experience and observation; and in addition to her excellent understanding, she would have had the light of modern philosophy, by which Christianity itself is better read. After all, her intolerance was only in theory. When any thing was to be done, charity in her always ran before faith. If she could have served and benefited the King himself personally, indignation would soon have given way to humanity. She had a high opinion of every
thing that was decorous and feminine on the part of a wife; yet when a poor violent woman, the wife of a very amiable and exemplary preacher, went so far on one occasion as to bite his hand in a fit of jealous rage as he was going to ascend his pulpit, (and he preached with it in great pain,) she was the only female of all her acquaintance that continued to visit her; alleging, that she wanted society and comfort so much the more. She had the highest notions of chastity; yet when a servant came to her, who could get no place because she had had a child, my mother took her into her family, upon the strength of her candour and her destitute condition, and was served with an affectionate gratitude.

My mother’s favourite books were “Dr. Young’s Night Thoughts,” (which was a pity,) and Mrs. Rowe’sDevout Exercises of the Heart.” She was very fond of poetry, and used to hoard my verses in her pocket-book, and encourage me to write, by showing them to the Wests, and the Thorntons; the latter, her dearest friends, loved and honoured her to the last: and I believe they retain their regard for the family, politics notwithstanding. My mother’s last illness was very long, and was tormented with rheumatism. I envy my brother Robert the recollection of the filial attentions he paid her; but they shall be as much known as I can make them, not because he is my brother, (which is nothing), but because he was a good son, which is much; and every good son and mother will be my warrant. My other brothers, who were married, were away with their families; and I, who ought to have attended more, was as giddy as I was young, or rather a great deal more so. I attended, but not enough. How often have we occasion to wish that we could be older or younger than we are,
according as we desire to have the benefit of gaiety or experience!—Her greatest pleasure during her decay was to lie on a sofa, looking at the setting sun. She used to liken it to the door of heaven; and fancy her lost children there, waiting for her. She died in the fifty-third year of her age, in a little miniature house which stands in a row behind the church that has been since built in Somers Town; and was buried, as she had always wished to be, in the church-yard of Hampstead.


The two principal houses at which I visited when a boy, till the arrival of our relations from the West Indies, were Mr. West’s (late President of the Academy) in Newman-street, and Mr. Godfrey Thornton’s (of the celebrated mercantile family) in Austin Friars. How I loved the graces in one, and every thing in the other! Mr. West had bought his house, not long, I believe, after he came to England; and he had added a gallery at the back of it, terminating in a couple of lofty rooms. The gallery was a continuation of the hall-passage, and, together with the rooms, formed three sides of a garden, very small but elegant, with a grass-plot in the middle, and busts upon stands under an arcade. In the interior, the gallery made an angle at a little distance as you went up it; then a shorter one, and then took a longer stretch into the two rooms; and it was hung with his sketches and other pictures all
the way. In a corner between the two angles, and looking down the longer part of the gallery, was a study, with casts of Venus and Apollo on each side the door. The two rooms contained the largest of his pictures; and in the farther one, after stepping softly down the gallery, as if respecting the dumb life on the walls, you generally found the mild and quiet artist at his work; happy, for he thought himself immortal.

I need not enter into the merits of an artist who is so well known, and has been so often criticised. He was a man with regular, mild features; and, though of Quaker origin, had the look of what he was, a painter to a court. His appearance was so gentlemanly, that the moment he changed his gown for a coat, he seemed to be full dressed. The simplicity and self-possession of the young Quaker, not having time enough to grow stiff, (for he went early to study at Rome,) took up, I suppose, with more ease than most would have done, the urbanities of his new position. And what simplicity helped him to, favour would retain. Yet this man, so well bred, and so indisputably clever in his art, (whatever might be the amount of his genius,) had received so careless, or so homely an education when a boy, that he could hardly read. He pronounced also some of his words, in reading, with a puritanical barbarism, such as haive for have, as some people pronounce when they sing psalms. But this was perhaps an American custom. My mother, who both read and spoke remarkably well, would say haive, and shaul (for shall), when she sung her hymns. But it was not so well in reading lectures at the Academy. Mr. West would talk of his art all day long, painting all the while. On other subjects he was not so fluent; and on political and religious matters he tried hard to maintain the reserve common with those about a court. He succeeded ill in both. There were always
strong suspicions of his leaning to his native side in politics; and during
Bonaparte’s triumph, he could not contain his enthusiasm for the Republican chief, going even to Paris to pay him his homage, when First Consul. The admiration of high colours and powerful effects, natural to a painter, was too strong for him. How he managed this matter with the higher powers in England, I cannot say. Probably he was the less heedful, inasmuch as he was not very carefully paid. I believe he did a great deal for the late King, with very little profit. The honour in these cases is too apt to be thought enough. Mr. West certainly kept his love for Bonaparte no secret; and it was no wonder, for the conqueror expressed an admiration of his pictures. He thought his smile enchanting, and that he had the handsomest leg and thigh he had ever seen. He was present when the “Venus de Medicis” was talked of, the French having just then taken possession of her. Bonaparte, Mr. West said, turned round to those about him, and said, with his eyes lit up, “She’s coming!” as if he had been talking of a living person. I believe he retained for the Emperor the love that he had had for the First Consul, a wedded love, “for better, for worse.” However, I believe also that he retained it after the Emperor’s downfal; which is not what every painter did.

But I am getting out of my chronology. The quiet of Mr. West’s gallery, the tranquil, intent beauty of the statues, and the subjects of some of the pictures, particularly Death on the Pale Horse, the Deluge, the Scotch King hunting the Stag, Moses on Mount Sinai, Christ Healing the Sick, (a sketch,) Sir Philip Sidney giving up the Water to the Dying Soldier, the Installation of the Knights of the Garter, and Ophelia before the King and Queen, (one of the best things he ever did,) made a great impression upon me. My mother and I used to go down
the gallery together, as if we were treading on wool. She was in the habit of stopping to look at some of the pictures, particularly the Deluge and the Ophelia, with a countenance quite awestricken. She used also to point out to me the subjects relating to liberty and patriotism, and the domestic affections. Agrippina bringing home the Ashes of Germanicus was a great favourite with her. I remember, too, the awful delight afforded us by the Angel slaying the Army of Sennacherib; a bright figure lording it in the air, with a chaos of human beings below.

As Mr. West was almost sure to be found at work in the farthest room, habited in his white woollen gown, so you might have predicated, with equal certainty, that Mrs. West was sitting in the parlour reading. I used to think, that if I had such a parlour to sit in, I should do just as she did. It was a good-sized room, with two windows looking out on the little garden I spoke of, and opening to it from one of them by a flight of steps. The garden with its busts in it, and the pictures which you knew were on the other side of its wall, had an Italian look. The room was hung with engravings and coloured prints. Among them was the Lion’s Hunt, from Rubens; the Hierarchy with the Godhead, from Raphael, which I hardly thought it right to look at; and two screens by the fire-side, containing prints, from Angelica Kauffman, of the Loves of Angelica and Medoro, which I could have looked at from morning to night. Angelica’s intent eyes, I thought, had the best of it; but I thought so without knowing why. This gave me a love for Ariosto before I knew him. I got Hoole’s translation, but could make nothing of it. Angelica Kauffman seemed to me to have done much more for her namesake. She could see farther into a pair of eyes than Mr. Hoole with his spectacles. This reminds me that I could make as little
Pope’s Homer, which a schoolfellow of mine was always reading, and which I was ashamed of not being able to like. It was not that I did not admire Pope; but the words in his translation always took precedence in my mind of the things, and the unvarying sweetness of his versification tired me before I knew the reason. This did not hinder me afterwards from trying to imitate it; nor from succeeding, as every body else succeeds. It is his wit and closeness that are the difficult things, and that make him what he is;—a truism, which the mistakes of critics on divers sides have made it but too warrantable to repeat.

Mrs. West and my mother used to talk of old times, and Philadelphia, and my father’s prospects at court. I sat apart with a book, from which I stole glances at Angelica. I had a habit at that time of holding my breath, which forced me every now and then to take long sighs. Mrs. West would offer me a bribe not to sigh. I would earn it once or twice; but the sighs were sure to return. These wagers I did not care for; but I remember being greatly mortified when Mr. West offered me half-a-crown if I would solve the old question of “Who was the father of Zebedee’s children?” and I could not tell him. He never made his appearance till dinner, and returned to his painting-room directly after it. And so at tea-time. The talk was very quiet; the neighbourhood quiet; the servants quiet; I thought the very squirrel in the cage would have made a greater noise any where else. James the porter, a fine tall fellow, who figured in his master’s pictures as an apostle, was as quiet as he was strong. Standing for his picture had become a sort of religion with him. Even the butler, with his little twinkling eyes, full of pleasant conceit, vented his notions of himself in half tones and
whispers. This was a strange fantastic person. He got my brother
Robert to take a likeness of him, small enough to be contained in a shirt pin. It was thought that his twinkling eyes, albeit not young, had some fair cynosure in the neighbourhood. What was my brother’s amazement, when, the next time he saw him, the butler said, with a face of enchanted satisfaction, “Well, Sir, you see!” making a movement at the same time with the frill at his waistcoat. The miniature that was to be given to the object of his affections, had been given accordingly. It was in his own bosom.


W. Howitt, Homes & Haunts

Notwithstanding my delight with the house at the West end of the town, it was not to compare with my beloved one in the City. There was quiet in the one; there were beautiful statues and pictures; and there was my Angelica for me, with her intent eyes, at the fire-side. But, besides quiet in the other, there was cordiality, and there was music, and a family brimful of hospitality and good-nature, and dear Almeria T. (now Mrs. P—e,) who in vain pretends that she is growing old, which is what she never did, shall, would, might, should, or could do. Those were indeed holidays, on which I used to go to Austin Friars. The house (such at least are my boyish recollections) was of the description I have been ever fondest of,—large, rambling, old-
fashioned, solidly built, resembling the mansions about Highgate and other old villages. It was furnished as became the house of a rich merchant and a sensible man, the comfort predominating over the costliness. At the back was a garden with a lawn; and a private door opened into another garden, belonging to the Company of Drapers; so that, what with the secluded nature of the street itself, and these verdant places behind it, it was truly rus in urbe, and a retreat. When I turned down the archway, I held my mother’s hand tighter with pleasure, and was full of expectation, and joy, and respect. My first delight was in mounting the staircase to the rooms of the young ladies, setting my eyes on the comely and sparkling countenance of my fair friend with her romantic name, and turning over, for the hundredth time, the books in her library. What she did with the volumes of
the Turkish Spy, what they meant, or what amusement she could extract from them, was an eternal mystification to me. Not long ago, meeting with a copy of the book accidentally, I pounced upon my old acquaintance, and found him to contain better and more amusing stuff than people would suspect from his dry look and his obsolete politics. The face of tenderness and respect with which A—— used to welcome my mother, springing forward with her fine buxom figure to supply the strength which the other wanted, and showing what an equality of love there may be between youth and middle-age, and rich and poor, I should

* The Turkish Spy is a sort of philosophical newspaper in volumes; and, under a mask of bigotry, speculates very freely on all subjects. It is said to have been written by an Italian Jesuit of the name of Marana. The first volume has been attributed, however, to Sir Roger Manley, father of the author of the Atalantis; and the rest to Dr. Midgeley, a friend of his.

never cease to love her for, had she not been, as she was, one of the best-natured persons in the world in every thing. I have not seen her now for many years; but with that same face, whatever change she may pretend to find it, she will go to Heaven; for it is the face of her spirit. A good heart never grows old.

Of George T——, her brother, who will pardon this omission of his worldly titles, whatever they may be, I have a similar kind of recollection, in its proportion; for, though we knew him thoroughly, we saw him less. The sight of his face was an additional sunshine to my holiday. He was very generous and handsome-minded; a genuine human being. Mrs. T—,—, the mother, a very lady-like woman, in a delicate state of health, we usually found reclining on a sofa, always ailing, but always with a smile for its. The father, a man of a large habit of body, panting with asthma, whom we seldom saw but at dinner, treated us with all the family delicacy, and would have me come and sit next him, which I did with a mixture of joy and dread; for it was painful to hear him breathe. I dwell the more upon these attentions, because the school that I was in held a sort of equivocal rank in point of what is called respectability; and it was no less an honour to another, than to ourselves, to know when to place us upon a liberal footing. Young as I was, I felt this point strongly; and was touched with as grateful a tenderness towards those who treated me handsomely, as I retreated inwardly upon a proud consciousness of my Greek and Latin, when the supercilious would have humbled me. Blessed house! May a blessing be upon your rooms, and your lawn, and your neighbouring garden, and the quiet old monastic name of your street! and may it never be a thoroughfare! and may all your inmates be happy!
Would to God one could renew, at a moment’s notice, the happy hours we have enjoyed in past times, with the same circles, and in the same houses! A planet with such a privilege would be a great lift nearer Heaven. What prodigious evenings, reader, we would have of it! What fine pieces of childhood, of youth, of manhood—ay, and of age, as long as our friends lasted! The old gentleman in
Gil Blas, who complained that the peaches were not so fine as they used to be when he was young, had more reason than appears on the face of it. He missed not only his former palate, but the places he ate them in, and those who ate them with him. I have been told, that the cranberries I have met with since must be as fine as those I got with the T.’s; as large and as juicy; and that they came from the same place. For all that, I never ate a cranberry-tart since I dined in Austin-Friars.


I should have fallen in love with A. T., had I been old enough. As it was, my first flame, or my first notion of a flame, which is the same thing in those days, was for my giddy cousin Fan. a quicksilver West Indian. Her mother, the aunt I spoke of, had just come from Barbadoes with her two daughters and a sister. She was a woman of a princely spirit; and having a good property, and every wish to make her relations more comfortable, she did so. It became
holiday with us all. My mother raised her head; my father grew young again; my cousin Kate conceived a regard for one of my brothers, and married him; and for my part, besides my pictures and Italian garden at
Mr. West’s, and my beloved old English house in Austin Friars, I had now another paradise in Great Ormond-street. My aunt had something of the West Indian pride, but all in a good spirit, and was a mighty cultivator of the gentilities, inward as well as outward. I did not dare to appear before her with dirty hands, she would have rebuked me so handsomely. For some reason or other, the marriage of my brother and his cousin was kept secret a little while. I became acquainted with it by chance, coming in upon a holiday, the day the ceremony took place. Instead of keeping me out of the secret by a trick, they very wisely resolved upon trusting me with it, and relying upon my honour. My honour happened to be put to the test, and I came off with flying colours. It is to this circumstance I trace the religious idea I have ever since entertained of keeping a secret. I went with the bride and bridegroom to church, and remember kneeling apart and weeping bitterly. My tears were unaccountable to me then. Doubtless they were owing to an instinctive sense of the great change that was taking place in the lives of two human beings, and of the unalterableness of the engagement. Death and Life seem to come together on these occasions, like awful guests at a feast, and look one another in the face.

It was not with such good effect that my aunt raised my notions of a schoolboy’s pocket-money to half-crowns, and crowns, and half-guineas. My father and mother were both as generous a daylight; but they could not give what they had not. I had been unused to spending, and accordingly I spent with a vengeance. I remember a ludicrous
instance. The first half-guinea that I received brought about me a consultation of companions to know how to get rid of it. One shilling was devoted to pears, another to apples, another to cakes, and so on, all to be bought immediately, as they were; till coming to the sixpence, and being struck with a recollection that I ought to do something useful with that, I bought sixpenn’orth of shoe-strings: these, no doubt, vanished like the rest. The next half-guinea came to the knowledge of the master: he interfered, which was one of his proper actions; and my aunt practised more self-denial in future.

Our new family from abroad were true West Indians, or, as they would have phrased it, “true Barbadians born.” They were generous, warm-tempered, had great good-nature; were proud, but not unpleasantly so; lively, yet indolent; temperately epicurean in their diet; fond of company, and dancing, and music; and lovers of show, but far from withholding the substance. I speak chiefly of the mother and daughters. My other aunt, an elderly maiden, who piqued herself on the delicacy of her hands and ankles, and made you understand how many suitors she had refused (for which she expressed any thing but repentance, being extremely vexed), was not deficient in complexional good-nature; but she was narrow-minded, and seemed to care for nothing in the world but two things: first, for her elder niece Kate, whom she had helped to nurse; and second, for a becoming set-out of coffee and buttered toast, particularly of a morning, when it was taken up to her in bed, with a salver and other necessaries of life. Yes; there was one more indispensable thing,—slavery. It was frightful to hear her small mouth and little mincing tones assert the necessity not only of slaves, but of robust corporal punishment to keep them to their duty. But she did this, because her want of ideas could do no otherwise. Having
had slaves, she wondered how any body could object to so natural and lady-like an establishment. Late in life, she took to fancying that every polite old gentleman was in love with her; and thus she lived on, till her dying moment, in a flutter of expectation.

The black servant must have puzzled this aunt of mine sometimes. All the wonder of which she was capable, he certainly must have roused, not without “a quaver of consternation.” This man had come over with them from the West Indies. He was a slave on my aunt’s estate, and as such demeaned himself, till he learnt that there was no such thing as a slave in England; that the moment a man sets his foot on English ground he was free. I cannot help smiling to think of the bewildered astonishment into which his first overt-act, in consequence of this knowledge must have put my poor aunt Courthope (for that was her Christian name). Most likely it broke out in the shape of some remonstrance about his fellow-servant. He partook of the pride common to all the Barbadians, black as well as white; and the maid-servants tormented him. I remember his coming up in the parlour one day, and making a ludicrous representation of the affronts put upon his office and person, interspersing his chattering and gesticulations with explanatory dumb show. One of them was a pretty girl, who had manœuvred till she got him stuck in a corner; and he insisted upon telling us all that she said and did. His respect for himself had naturally increased since he became free; but he did not know what to do with it. Poor Samuel was not ungenerous, after his fashion. He also wished, with his freedom, to acquire a freeman’s knowledge, but stuck fast at pothooks and hangers. To frame a written B he pronounced a thing impossible. Of his powers on the violin he made us more sensible, not without frequent remonstrances, which it must have taken all my aunt’s good-nature to make her repeat.
He had left two wives in Barbadoes, one of whom was brought to-bed of a son a little after he came away. For this son he wanted a name, that was to be new, sounding, and long. They referred him to the reader of
Homer and Virgil. With classical names he was well acquainted, Mars and Venus being among his most intimate friends, besides Jupiters and Adonises, and Dianas with large families. At length we succeeded with Neoptolemus. He said he had never heard it before; and he made me write it for him in a great text hand, that there might be no mistake.

My aunt took a country house at Merton, in Surrey, where I passed three of the happiest weeks of my life. It was the custom at our school, in those days, to allow us only one set of unbroken holidays during the whole time we were there,—I mean, holidays in which we remained away from school by night as well as by day. The period was always in August. Imagine a schoolboy passionately fond of the green fields, who had never slept out of the heart of the city for years. It was a compensation even for the pang of leaving my friend; and then what letters I would write to him! And what letters I did write! What full measure of affection, pressed down, and running over! I read, walked, had a garden and orchard to run in; and fields that I could have rolled in, to have my will of them. My father accompanied me to Wimbledon to see Horne Tooke, who patted me on the head. I felt very differently under his hand, and under that of the Bishop of London, when he confirmed a crowd of us in St. Paul’s. Not that I thought of politics, though I had a sense of his being a patriot; but patriotism, as well as every thing else, was connected in my mind with something classical, and Horne Tooke held his political reputation with me by the same tenure that he held his fame for learning and grammatical knowledge. “The learned Horne Tooke” was the designation
by which I styled him in some verses I wrote; in which verses, by the way, with a poetical licence which would have been thought more classical by
Queen Elizabeth than my master, I called my aunt a “nymph.” In the ceremony of confirmation by the Bishop, there was something too official, and like a despatch of business, to excite my veneration. My head only anticipated the coming of his hand, with a thrill in the scalp: and when it came, it tickled me. My cousins had the celebrated Dr. Callcott for a music-master. The doctor, who was a scholar and a great reader, was so pleased with me one day for being able to translate the beginning of Xenophon’s Anabasis, (one of our school-books,) that he took me out with him to Nunn’s, the bookseller’s in Great Queen Street, and made me a present of “Schrevelius’s Lexicon.” When he came down to Merton, he let me ride his horse. What days were those! Instead of being roused against my will by a bell, I jumped up with the lark, and strolled “out of bounds.” Instead of bread and water for breakfast, I had coffee and tea, and buttered toast: for dinner, not a hunk of bread and a modicum of hard meat, or a bowl of pretended broth, but fish, and fowl, and noble hot joints, and puddings, and sweets, and Guava jellies, and other West Indian mysteries of peppers and preserves, and wine: and then I had tea; and I sat up to supper like a man, and lived so well, that I might have been very ill, had I not run about all the rest of the day. My strolls about the fields with a book were full of happiness: only my dress used to get me stared at by the villagers. Walking one day by the little river Wandle, I came upon one of the loveliest girls I ever beheld, standing in the water with bare legs, washing some linen. She turned, as she was stooping, and showed a blooming oval face with blue eyes, on either side of which flowed a profusion of flaxen locks. With the exception of the colour
of the hair, it was like
Raphael’s own head turned into a peasant girl’s. The eyes were full of gentle astonishment at the sight of me; and mine must have wondered no less. However, I was prepared for such wonders. It was only one of my poetical visions realized, and I expected to find the world full of them. What she thought of my blue skirts and yellow stockings, is not so clear. She did not, however, haunt me with my “petticoat,” as the girls in the streets of London would do, making me blush, as I thought they ought to have done instead. My beauty in the brook was too gentle and diffident: at least I thought so, and my own heart did not contradict me. I then took every beauty for an Arcadian, and every brook for a fairy stream; and the reader would be surprised, if he knew to what an extent I have a similar tendency still. I find the same possibilities by another path.

I do not remember whether an Abbé Paris, who taught my cousins French, used to see them in the country; but I never shall forget him in Ormond Street. He was an emigrant, very gentlemanly, with a face of remarkable benignity, and a voice that became it. He spoke English in a slow manner, that was very graceful. I shall never forget his saying one day, in answer to somebody who pressed him on the subject, and in the mildest of tones, that without doubt it was impossible to be saved out of the pale of the Catholic Church. This made a strong impression upon me. One contrast of this sort reminds me of another. My aunt Courthope had something growing out on one of her knuckles, which she was afraid to let a surgeon look at. There was a Dr. Chapman, a West India physician, who came to see us, a person of great suavity of manners, with all that air of languor and want of energy which the West Indians often exhibit. He was in the habit of inquiring, with the softest voice in the world, how my aunt’s hand was; and coming
one day upon us in the midst of dinner, and sighing forth his usual question, she gave it him over her shoulder to look at. In a moment she shrieked, and the swelling was gone. The meekest of doctors had done it away with his lancet.

I had no drawback on my felicity at Merton, with the exception of an occasional pang at my friend’s absence, and a new vexation that surprised and mortified me. I had been accustomed at school to sleep with sixty boys in the room, and some old night-fears that used to haunt me were forgotten. No manticoras there!—no old men crawling on the floor! What was my chagrin, when on sleeping alone, after so long a period, I found my terrors come back again!—not, indeed, in all the same shapes. Beasts could frighten me no longer; but I was at the mercy of any other ghostly fiction that I presented to my mind crawling or ramping. I struggled hard to say nothing about it; but my days began to be discoloured with fear of my nights; and with unutterable humiliation I begged that the footman might be allowed to sleep in the same room. Luckily, my request was attended to in the kindest and most reconciling manner. I was pitied for my fears, but praised for my candour—a balance of qualities, which, I have reason to believe, did me a service far beyond that of the moment. Samuel, who, fortunately for my shame, had a great respect for fear of this kind, had his bed removed accordingly into my room. He used to entertain me at night with stories of Barbadoes and the negroes; and in a few days I was reassured and happy.

It was then (Oh shame that I must speak of fair lady after confessing a heart so faint!)—it was then that I fell in love with my cousin Fan. However, I would have fought all her young acquaintances round for her, timid as I was, and little inclined to pugnacity.


Fanny was a lass of fifteen, with little laughing eyes, and a mouth like a plum. I was then (I feel as if I ought to be ashamed to say it) not more than thirteen, if so old; but I had read Tooke’s Pantheon, and came of a precocious race. My cousin came of one too, and was about to be married to a handsome young fellow of three-and-twenty. I thought nothing of this, for nothing could be more innocent than my intentions. I was not old enough, or grudging enough, or whatever it was, even to be jealous. I thought every body must love Fanny D—; and if she did not leave me out in permitting it, I was satisfied. It was enough for me to be with her as long as I could; to gaze on her with delight, as she floated hither and thither; and to sit on the stiles in the neighbouring fields, thinking of Tooke’s Pantheon. My friendship was greater than my love. Had my favourite schoolfellow been ill, or otherwise demanded my return, I should certainly have chosen his society in preference. Three-fourths of my heart were devoted to friendship; the rest was in a vague dream of beauty, and female cousins, and nymphs, and green fields, and a feeling which, though of a warm nature, was full of fear and respect. Had the jade put me on the least equality of footing as to age, I know not what change might have been wrought in me; but though too young herself for the serious duties she was about to bring on her, and full of sufficient levity and gaiety not to be uninterested with the little black-eyed schoolboy that lingered about her, my vanity was well paid off by her’s, for she kept me at a distance by calling me petit garçon. This was no better than the assumption of an elder sister in her teens over a younger one; but the latter feels it, nevertheless; and I persuaded myself that it was particularly cruel. I wished the Abbé Paris at Jamaica with his French. There would she come, in her frock and
tucker, (for she had not yet left off either,) her curls dancing, and her hands clasped together in the enthusiasm of something to tell me, and when I flew to meet her, forgetting the difference of ages, and alive only to my charming cousin, she would repress me with a little fillip on the cheek, and say, “Well, petit garçon, what do you think of that?” The worst of it was, that this odious French phrase sat insufferably well upon her plump little mouth. She and I used to gather peaches before the house were up. I held the ladder for her; she mounted like a fairy, and when I stood doating on her, as she looked down and threw the fruit in my lap, she would cry, “Petit garçon, you will let ’em all drop!” On my return to school, she gave me a locket for a keepsake, in the shape of a heart; which was the worst thing she ever did to the petit garçon, for it touched me on my weak side, and looked like a sentiment. I believe I should have had serious thoughts of becoming melancholy, had I not, in returning to school, returned to my friend, and so found means to occupy my craving for sympathy. However, I wore the heart a long while. I have sometimes thought there was more in her French than I imagined; but I believe not. She naturally took herself for double my age, with a lover of three-and-twenty. Soon after her marriage, fortune separated us for many years. My passion had almost as soon died away; but I have loved the name of Fanny ever since; and when I met her again, which was under circumstances of trouble on her part, I could not see her without such an emotion as I was fain to confess to a person “near and dear,” who forgave me for it, which is one of the reasons I have for loving the said person so well. Yes; the black ox trod on the fairy foot of my light-hearted cousin Fan.; of her whom I could no more have thought of in conjunction with sorrow, than of a ball-room with a
tragedy. To know that she was rich, and admired, and abounding in mirth and music, was to me the same thing as to know that she existed. How often have I wished myself rich in turn, that I might have restored her to all the graces of life! She is generous, and would not have grudged me the satisfaction.


To describe so well-known a school as Christ-Hospital, would to thousands of readers be superfluous; but to such as are unacquainted with the City, or with a certain track of reading, it still remains a curiosity. Thousands, indeed, have gone through the City and never suspected that in the heart of it lies an old cloistered foundation, where a boy may grow up, as I did, among six hundred others, and know as little of the very neighbourhood as the world does of him.

But it is highly interesting on other accounts. Perhaps there is not a foundation in the country so truly English, taking that word to mean what Englishmen wish it to mean;—something solid, unpretending, of good character, and free to all. More boys are to be found in it, who issue from a greater variety of ranks, than in any other school in the kingdom; and as it is the most various, so it is the largest, of all the free-schools. Nobility do not go there, except as boarders. Now and then, a boy of a noble family may be met with, and he is reckoned an interloper, and against the charter; but the sons of poor
gentry and London citizens abound; and with them, an equal share is given to the sons of tradesmen of the very humblest description, not omitting servants. I would not take my oath,—but I have a very vivid recollection, that in my time there were two boys, one of whom went up into the drawing-room to his father, the master of the house; and the other, down into the kitchen to his father, the coachman. One thing, however, I know to be certain, and that is the noblest of all: it is, that the boys themselves, (at least it was so in my time,) had no sort of feeling of the difference of one another’s ranks out of doors. The cleverest boy was the noblest, let his father be who he might. In short, Christ-Hospital is well known and respected by thousands, as a nursery of tradesmen, of merchants, of naval officers, of scholars, of some of the most eminent persons of the day; and the feeling among the boys themselves is, that it is a medium, far apart indeed, but equally so, between the patrician pretension of such schools as Eton and Westminster, and the plebeian submission of the charity schools. In point of University honours, it claims to be equal with the greatest; and though other schools can show a greater abundance of eminent names, I know not where will be many who are a greater host in themselves. One original author is worth a hundred transwriters of elegance: and such a one is to be found in
Richardson, who here received what education he possessed. Here Camden also received the rudiments of his. Bishop Stillingfleet, according to the Memoirs of Pepys, lately published, was brought up in the school. We have had many eminent scholars, two of them Greek Professors, to wit, Barnes, and the present Mr. Scholefield, the latter of whom attained an extraordinary succession of University honours. The rest are Markland; Dr. Middleton, late
Bishop of Calcutta; and
Mr. Mitchell, the translator of “Aristophanes.” Christ-Hospital, I believe, has sent out more living writers, in its proportion, than any other school. There is Dr. Richards, author of the “Aboriginal Britons;” Dyer, whose life has been one unbroken dream of learning and goodness, and who used to make us wonder with passing through the school-room (where no other person in “town-clothes” ever appeared) to consult books in the library; Le Grice, the translator of “Longus;” Home, author of some well-known productions in controversial divinity; Surr, the novelist, (not in the Grammar school;) James White, the friend of Charles Lamb, and not unworthy of him, author of “Falstaff’s Letters:” (this was he who used to give an anniversary dinner to the chimney-sweepers, merrier, though not so magnificent as Mrs. Montagu’s.) Pitman, a celebrated preacher, editor of some school-books, and religious classics; Mitchell, before mentioned; myself, who stood next him; Barnes, who came next, the Editor of the Times, (than whom no man (if he had cared for it) could have been more certain of attaining celebrity for wit and literature;) Townsend, a prebendary of Durham, author of “Armageddon,” and several theological works; Gilly, another of the Durham prebendaries, who wrote the other day the “Narrative of the Waldenses;” Scargill, an Unitarian minister, author of some tracts on Peace and War, &c.; and lastly, whom I have kept by way of climax, Coleridge, and Charles Lamb, two of the most original geniuses, not only of the day, but of the country. We have had an ambassador among us; but as he, I understand, is ashamed of us, we are hereby more ashamed of him, and accordingly omit him.

In the time of Henry the Eighth, Christ-Hospital was a monastery
of Franciscan Friars. Being dissolved among the others,
Edward the Sixth, moved by a sermon of Bishop Ridley’s, assigned the revenues of it to the maintenance and education of a certain number of poor orphan children, born of citizens of London. I believe there has been no law passed to alter the letter of this intention; which is a pity, since the alteration has taken place. An extension of it was probably very good, and even demanded by circumstances. I have reason, for one, to be grateful for it. But tampering with matters-of-fact among children is dangerous. They soon learn to distinguish between allowed poetical fiction, and that, which they are told, under severe penalties, never to be guilty of; and this early sample of contradiction between the thing asserted and the obvious fact, can do no good even in an establishment so plain-dealing in other respects, as Christ-Hospital. The place is not only designated as an Orphan-house in its Latin title, but the boys, in the prayers which they repeat every day, implore the pity of Heaven upon “us poor orphans.” I remember the perplexity this caused me at a very early period. It is true, the word orphan may be used in a sense implying destitution of any sort; but this was not its original meaning in the present instance; nor do the younger boys give it the benefit of that scholarly interpretation. There was another thing, (now, I believe, done away,) which existed in my time, and perplexed me still more. It seemed a glaring instance of the practice likely to result from the other assumption, and made me prepare for a hundred falsehoods and deceptions, which, mixed up with contradiction, as most things in society are, I sometimes did find and oftener dreaded. I allude to a foolish custom they had, in the ward which I first entered, and which was the only one that the company at the public suppers were in the
habit of going into, of hanging up, by the side of every bed, a clean white napkin, which was supposed to be the one used by the occupiers. Now these napkins were only for show, the real towels being of the largest and coarsest kind. If the masters had been asked about them, they would doubtless have told the truth; perhaps the nurses would have done so. But the boys were not aware of this. There they saw these “white lies” hanging before them, a conscious imposition; and I well remember how alarmed I used to feel, lest any of the company should direct their inquiries to me.

Speaking of “wards” and “nurses,” I must enter into a more particular account of the school. Christ-Hospital (for this is its proper name, and not Christ’s Hospital) occupies a considerable portion of ground between Newgate Street, Giltspur Street, St. Bartholomew’s, and Little Britain. There is a quadrangle with four cloisters, a cloister running out of these to the Sick Ward; a portico supporting the Writing School; a kind of street, with the counting-house, and some other houses; and a large open space, presenting the Grammar School. The square inside the cloisters is called the Garden, and most likely was the monastery garden. Its only delicious crop, for many years, has been pavement. The large area is also misnomered the Ditch; the town-ditch, I suppose, having formerly had a tributary stream that way. One side of the quadrangle is occupied by the Hall, or eating-room, one of the noblest in England, adorned with enormously long paintings by Verrio and others, and with an organ. Another side contained the library of the monks, and was built or repaired by the famous Whittington, whose arms are still to be seen outside.

In the cloisters a number of persons lie buried, besides the officers of the house. Among them is Isabella, wife of Edward the Second, the
“she-wolf of France.” I was not aware of this circumstance then; but many a time, with a recollection of some lines in
“Blair’s Grave” upon me, have I ran as hard as I could at night-time from my ward to another, in order to borrow the next volume of some ghostly romance. In one of the cloisters was an impression resembling a gigantic foot, which was attributed by some to the angry stamping of the ghost of a beadle’s wife! A beadle was a higher sound to us than to most, as it involved ideas of detected apples in church-time, “skulking” (as it was called) out of bounds, and a power of reporting us to the masters. But fear does not stand upon rank and ceremony.

The wards, or sleeping-rooms, are twelve, and contained, in my time, rows of beds on each side, partitioned off, but connected with one another, and each having two boys to sleep in it. Down the middle ran the binns for holding bread and other things, and serving for a table when the meal was not taken in the hall; and over the binns hung a great homely chandelier.

To each of these wards a nurse was assigned, who was the widow of some decent liveryman of London, and who had the charge of looking after us at night-time, seeing to our washing, &c. and carving for us at dinner: all which gave her a good deal of power, more than her name warranted. They were, however, almost invariably very decent people, and performed their duty; which was not always the case with the young ladies, their daughters. There were five schools; a grammar-school, a mathematical or navigation-school (added by Charles the Second,) a writing, a drawing, and a reading-school. Those who could not read when they came on the foundation, went into the last. There were few in the last-but-one, and I scarcely know what they did, or for what object. The writing-school was for those who were intended for trade and com-
merce; the mathematical for boys who went as midshipmen into the naval and East India service; and the grammar-school for such as were designed for the Church, and to go to the University. The writing-school was by far the largest; and, what is very curious, (which is not the case now,) all these schools were kept quite distinct, so that a boy might arrive at the age of fifteen in the grammar-school, and not know his multiplication-table. But more of this, on a future occasion. Most of these schools had several masters; besides whom there was a steward, who took care of our subsistence, and had a general superintendance over all hours and circumstances not connected with schooling. The masters had almost all been in the school, and might expect pensions or livings in their old age. Among those, in my time, the mathematical master was
Mr. Wales, a man well known for his science, who had been round the world with Captain Cook; for which we highly venerated him. He was a good man, of plain simple manners, with a heavy large person and a benign countenance. When he was in Otaheite, the natives played him a trick while bathing, and stole his small-clothes; which we used to think an enormous liberty, scarcely credible. The name of the steward, a thin stiff man of invincible formality of demeanour, admirably fitted to render encroachment impossible, was Hathaway. We of the grammar-school used to call him “the Yeoman,” on account of Shakspeare’s having married the daughter of a man of that name, designated as “a substantial yeoman.”

Our dress was of the coarsest and quaintest kind, but was respected out of doors, and is so. It consisted of a blue drugget gown, or body, with ample coats to it; a yellow vest underneath in winter-time; smallclothes of Russia duck; yellow stockings; a leathern girdle; and a little black worsted cap, usually carried in the hand. I believe it was the
ordinary dress of children in humble life, during the reign of the Tudors. We used to flatter ourselves that it was taken from the monks; and there went a monstrous tradition, that at one period it consisted of blue velvet with silver buttons. It was said also, that during the blissful era of the blue velvet we had roast mutton for supper; but that the small-clothes not being then in existence, and the mutton suppers too luxurious, the eatables were given up for the ineffables.

A malediction, at heart, always followed the memory of him who had taken upon himself to decide so preposterously. To say the truth, we were not too well fed at that time, either in quantity or quality; and we could not enter with our then hungry imaginations into those remote philosophies. Our breakfast was bread and water, for the beer was too bad to drink. The bread consisted of the half of a three-halfpenny loaf, according to the prices then current. I suppose it would now be a good two-penny one; certainly not a three-penny. This was not much for growing boys, who had nothing to eat from six or seven o’clock the preceding evening. For dinner, we had the same quantity of bread, with meat only every other day, and that consisting of a small slice, such as would be given to an infant of three or four years old. Yet even that, with all our hunger, we very often left half-eaten; the meat was so tough. On the other days, we had a milk-porridge, ludicrously thin; or rice-milk, which was better. There were no vegetables or puddings. Once a month we had roast-beef; and twice a year, (I blush to think of the eagerness with which it was looked for) a dinner of pork. One was roast, and the other boiled; and on the latter occasion we had our only pudding, which was of pease. I blush to remember this, not on account of our poverty, but on account of the sordidness of the custom. There had much better have been none. For supper
we had a like piece of bread, with butter or cheese; and then to bed, “with what appetite we might.”

Our routine of life was this. We rose to the call of a bell, at six in summer, and seven in winter; and after combing ourselves, and washing our hands and faces, went, at the call of another bell, to breakfast. All this took up about an hour. From breakfast we proceeded to school, where we remained till eleven, winter and summer, and then had an hour’s play. Dinner took place at twelve. Afterwards was a little play till one, when we again went to school, and remained till five in summer and four in winter. At six was the supper. We used to play after it in summer till eight. In winter we proceeded from supper to bed. On Sundays, the school-time of the other days was occupied with church, both morning and evening; and as the Bible was read to us every day before every meal, and on going to bed, besides prayers and graces, we at least rivalled the monks in the religious part of our duties. The effect was certainly not what was intended. The Bible perhaps was read thus frequently in the first instance, out of contradiction to the papal spirit that had so long kept it locked up; but, in the eighteenth century, the repetition was not so desirable among a parcel of hungry boys, anxious to get their modicum to eat. On Sunday, what with the long service in the morning, the service again after dinner, and the inaudible and indifferent tones of some of the preachers, it was unequivocally tiresome. I, for one, who had been piously brought up, and continued to have religion inculcated on me by father and mother, began secretly to become as indifferent as I thought the preachers; and, though the morals of the school were in the main excellent and exemplary, we all felt instinctively, without knowing it, that it was the orderliness and example of the general system that
kept us so, and not the religious part of it; which seldom entered our heads at all, and only tired us when it did. I am not begging any question here, or speaking for or against. I am only stating a fact. Others may argue, that, however superfluous the readings and prayers might have been, a good general spirit of religion must have been inculcated, because a great deal of virtue and religious charity is known to have issued out of that school, and no fanaticism. I shall not dispute the point. The case is true; but not the less true is what I speak of. Latterly there came, as our parish clergyman,
Mr. Crowther, a nephew of the celebrated Richardson, and worthy of the talents and virtues of his kinsman, though inclining to a mode of faith which is supposed to produce more faith than charity. But, till then, the persons who were in the habit of getting up in our church pulpit and reading-desk, might as well have hummed a tune to their diaphragms. They inspired us with nothing but mimicry. The name of the morning-reader was Salt. He was a worthy man, I believe, and might, for aught we knew, have been a clever one; but he had it all to himself, He spoke in his throat, with a sound as if he was weak and corpulent; and was famous among us for saying “Murracles” instead of “Miracles.” When we imitated him, this was the only word we drew upon: the rest was unintelligible suffocation. Our usual evening preacher was Mr. Sandiford, who had the reputation of learning and piety. It was of no use to us, except to make us associate the ideas of learning and piety in the pulpit with inaudible hum-drum. Mr. Sandiford’s voice was hollow and low, and he had a habit of dipping up and down over his book, like a chicken drinking. Mr. Salt was eminent with us for a single word. Mr. Sandiford surpassed him, for he had two famous audible phrases. There was, it is true, no great variety in them. One was “the dispensation of Moses:”
the other (with a due interval of hum), “the Mosaic dispensation.” These he used to repeat so often, that in our caricatures of him they sufficed for an entire portrait. The reader may conceive a large church, (it was Christ Church, Newgate Street,) with six hundred boys, seated like charity-children up in the air, on each side the organ, Mr. Sandiford humming in the valley, and a few maid-servants who formed his afternoon congregation. We did not dare to go to sleep. We were not allowed to read. The great boys used to get those that sat behind them to play with their hair. Some whispered to their neighhours, and the others thought of their lessons and tops. I can safely say, that many of us would have been good listeners, and most of us attentive ones, if the clergyman could have been heard: as it was, I talked as well as the rest, or thought of my exercise. Sometimes we could not help joking and laughing over our weariness; and then the fear was, lest the steward had seen us. It was part of the business of the steward to preside over the boys in church-time. He sat aloof, in a place where he could view the whole of his flock. There was a ludicrous kind of revenge we had of him, whenever a particular part of the Bible was read. This was the parable of the Unjust Steward. The boys waited anxiously till the passage commenced; and then, as if by a general conspiracy, at the words, “thou unjust steward,” the whole school turned their eyes upon this unfortunate officer, who sat
“Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved.”
We persuaded ourselves, that the more unconscious he looked, the more he was acting. By a singular chance, there were two clergymen, occasional preachers in our pulpit, who were as loud and startling, as the
others were somniferous. One of them, with a sort of flat, high voice, had a remarkable way of making a ladder of it, climbing higher and higher to the end of the sentence. It ought to be described by the gamut, or written up-hill. Perhaps it was an association of ideas that has made us recollect one particular passage. It is where Ahab consults the Prophets, asking them whether he shall go up to Ramoth Gilead to battle. “Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? and they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.” He used to give this out in such a manner, that you might have fancied him climbing out of the pulpit, sword in hand. The other was a tall, thin man, with a noble voice. He would commence a prayer in a most stately and imposing manner, full both of dignity and feeling; and then, as if tired of it, hurry over all the rest. Indeed, he began every prayer in this way, and was as sure to hurry it; for which reason, the boys hailed the sight of him, as they knew they should get sooner out of church. When he commenced, in his noble style, the band seemed to tremble against his throat, as though it had been a sounding-board.

Being able to read, and knowing a little Latin, I was put at once into the Under Grammar School. How much time I wasted there in learning the accidence and syntax, I cannot say; but it seems to me a long while. My grammar seemed always to open at the same place. Things are managed differently now, I believe, in this as well as in a great many other respects. Great improvements have been made in the whole establishment. The boys feed better, learn better, and have longer holidays in the country. In my time, they never slept out of the school but on one occasion, during the whole of their stay; this was for three weeks in summer-time, which I have spoken of, and which they were bound
to pass at a certain distance from London. They now have these holidays with a reasonable frequency; and they all go to the different schools, instead of being confined, as they were then, some to nothing but writing and cyphering, and some to the languages. It has been doubted by some of us elders, whether this system will beget such temperate, proper students, with pale faces, as the other did. I dare say, our successors are not afraid of us. I had the pleasure, not long since, of dining in company with a Deputy Grecian, who, with a stout rosy-faced person, had not failed to acquire the scholarly turn for joking, which is common to a classical education; as well as those simple, becoming manners, made up of modesty and proper confidence, which have been often remarked as distinguishing the boys on this foundation.

“But what is a Deputy Grecian?” Ah, reader! to ask that question, and at the same time to know any thing at all worth knowing, would at one time, according to our notions, have been impossible. When I entered the school, I was shown three gigantic boys, young men rather, (for the eldest was between seventeen and eighteen,) who, I was told, were going to the University. These were the Grecians. They are the three head boys of the Grammar School, and are understood to have their destiny fixed for the Church. The next class to these, and like a College of Cardinals to those three Popes, (for every Grecian was in our eyes infallible,) are the Deputy Grecians. The former were supposed to have completed their Greek studies, and were deep in Sophocles and Euripides. The latter were thought equally competent to tell you any thing respecting Homer and Demosthenes. These two classes and the head boys of the Navigation School, held a certain rank over the whole place, both in school and out. Indeed, the whole of the Navigation School, upon the strength of cultivating their valour for the navy, and
being called King’s Boys, had succeeded in establishing an extraordinary pretension to respect. This they sustained in a manner as laughable to call to mind, as it was grave in its reception. It was an etiquette among them never to move out of a right line as they walked, whoever stood in their way. I believe there was a secret understanding with Grecians and Deputy Grecians, the former of whom were unquestionably lords paramount in point of fact, and stood and walked aloof when all the rest of the school were marshalled in bodies. I do not remember any clashing between these great civil and naval powers; but I remember well my astonishment when I first beheld some of my little comrades overthrown by the progress of one of these very straightforward personages, who walked on with as tranquil and unconscious a face, as if nothing had happened. It was not a fierce-looking push; there seemed to be no intention in it. The insolence lay in the boy’s appearing not to know that such an inferior human being existed. It was always thus, wherever they came. If aware, the boys got out of their way; if not, down they went, one or more; away rolled the top or the marbles, and on walked the future captain—
In maiden navigation, frank and free.

They wore a badge on the shoulder, of which they were very proud, though in the streets it must have helped to confound them with charity boys. For charity boys I must own, we all had a great contempt, or thought so. We did not dare to know that there might have been a little jealousy of our own position in it, placed as we were midway between the homeliness of the common charity school and the dignity of the foundations. We called them “chizy-wags,” and had a particular scorn and hatred of their nasal tone in singing.


The under grammar-master was the Reverend Mr. Field. He was a good-looking man, very gentlemanly, and always dressed at the neatest. I believe he once wrote a play. He had the reputation of being admired by the ladies. A man of a more handsome incompetence for his situation perhaps did not exist. He came late of a morning; went away soon in the afternoon; and used to walk up and down, languidly bearing his cane, as if it was a lily, and hearing our eternal Dominuses and As in præsenti’s with an air of ineffable endurance. Often, he did not hear at all. It was a joke with us, when any of our friends came to the door and we asked his permission to go to them, to address him with some preposterous question, wide of the mark; to which he used to assent. We would say, for instance, “Are you not a great fool, sir?” or “Isn’t your daughter a pretty girl?” to which he would reply, “Yes, child.” When he condescended to hit us with the cane, he made a face as if he was taking physic. Miss Field, an agreeable-looking girl, was one of the goddesses of the school; as far above us, as if she had lived on Olympus. Another was Miss Patrick, daughter of the lamp-manufacturer in Newgate Street. I do not remember her face so well, not seeing it so often; but she abounded in admirers. I write the names of these ladies at full length, because there is nothing that should hinder their being pleased at having caused us so many agreeable visions. We used to identify them with the picture of Venus in Tooke’s Pantheon.

School was a newer scene to me than to most boys: it was also a more startling one. I was not prepared for so great a multitude; for the absence of the tranquillity and security of home; nor for those exhibitions of strange characters, conflicting wills, and violent, and, as they appeared to me, wicked passions, which were to be found, in little, in this epitome of the great world. I was confused, frightened, and made solitary. My
mother, as I have observed before, little thought how timid she had helped to render her son, in spite of those more refined theories of courage and patriotic sentiments which she had planted in him.

I will not mention the name of the other master, the upper one, who I am now about to speak of, and whom I have designated at the head of this paper as a schoolmaster of the old leaven. I will avoid it, not because I can thus render it unknown, but because it will remain less known than it would otherwise. I will avoid it also, because he was a conscientious man in some things, and undoubtedly more mistaken than malignant; and last, not least, because there may be inheritors of his name, whose natures, modified by other sources, and not liable to the same objections, might be hurt in proportion to their superiority.

He was a short stout man, inclining to punchiness, with large face and hands, an aquiline nose, long upper lip, and a sharp mouth. His eye was close and cruel. The spectacles threw a balm over it. Being a clergyman, he dressed in black, with a powdered wig. His clothes were cut short; his hands hung out of the sleeves, with tight wristbands, as if ready for execution; and as he generally wore grey worsted stockings, very tight, with a little balustrade leg, his whole appearance presented something formidably succinct, hard, and mechanical. In fact, his weak side, and undoubtedly his natural destination, lay in carpentery; and he accordingly carried, in a side-pocket made on purpose, a carpenter’s rule.

The only merits of this man consisted in his being a good verbal scholar, and acting up to the letter of time and attention. I have seen him nod at the close of the long summer school-hours, perfectly wearied out; and should have pitied him, if he had taught us to do any thing but fear. Though a clergyman, very orthodox, and of rigid morals,
he indulged himself in an oath, which was “ God’s-my-life!” When you were out in your lesson, he turned upon you with an eye like a fish; and he had a trick of pinching you under the chin, and by the lobes of the ears, till he would make the blood come. He has many times lifted a boy off the ground in this way. He was indeed a proper tyrant, passionate and capricious; would take violent likes and dislikes to the same boys; fondle some without any apparent reason, though he had a leaning to the servile, and perhaps to the sons of rich people, and would persecute others in a manner truly frightful. I have seen him beat a sickly-looking, melancholy boy (C—n) about the head and ears, till the poor fellow, hot, dry-eyed, and confused, seemed lost in bewilderment. C—n, not long after he took orders, died out of his senses. I do not attribute that catastrophe to the master; and of course he could not have wished to do him any lasting mischief. He had no imagination of any sort. But there is no saying how far his treatment of the boy might have contributed to prevent his cure. Masters, as well as boys, have escaped the chance of many bitter reflections, since a wiser and more generous intercourse has increased between them.

I have some stories of this man, that will completely show his character, and at the same time relieve the reader’s indignation by something ludicrous in their excess. We had a few boarders at the school; boys, whose parents were too rich to let them go on the foundation. Among them, in my time, was Carlton, a son of Lord Dorchester; Macdonald, one of the Lord Chief Baron’s sons; and R——, the son of a rich merchant. Carlton, who was a fine fellow, manly and full of good sense, took his new master and his caresses very coolly, and did not want them. Little Macdonald also could dispense with them, and
would put on his delicate gloves after lesson, with an air as if he resumed his patrician plumage. R—— was meeker, and willing to be encouraged; and there would the master sit, with his arm round his tall waist, helping him to his Greek verbs, as a nurse does bread and milk to an infant; and repeating them, when he missed, with a fond patience, that astonished us criminals in drugget.

Very different was the treatment of a boy on the foundation, whose friends, by some means or other, had prevailed on the master to pay him an extra attention, and try to get him on. He had come into the school at an age later than usual, and could hardly read. There was a book used by the learners in reading, called “Dialogues between a Missionary and an Indian.” It was a poor performance, full of inconclusive arguments and other commonplaces. The boy in question used to appear with this book in his hand in the middle of the school, the master standing behind him. The lesson was to begin. Poor ——, whose great fault lay in a deep-toned drawl of his syllables and the omission of his stops, stood half-looking at the book, and half-casting his eye towards the right of him, whence the blows were to proceed. The master looked over him; and his hand was ready. I am not exact in my quotation at this distance of time; but the spirit of one of the passages that I recollect, was to the following purport, and thus did the teacher and his pupil proceed.

Master. “Now, young man, have a care; or I’ll set you a swinging task.” (A common phrase of his.)

Pupil. (Making a sort of heavy bolt at his calamity, and never remembering his stop at the word Missionary.) “Missionary Can you see the wind?”

(Master gives a slap on the cheek.)


Pupil. (Raising his voice to a cry, still forgetting his stop.) “Indian No!”

Master. “God’s-my-life, young man! have a care how you provoke me.”

Pupil. (Always forgetting the stop.) “Missionary How then do you know that there is such a thing?”

(Here a terrible thump.)

Pupil. (With a shout of agony.) “Indian Because I feel it.”

One anecdote of his injustice will suffice for all. It is of ludicrous enormity; nor do I believe any thing more flagrantly wilful was ever done by himself. I heard Mr. C——, the sufferer, now a most respectable person in a government office, relate it with a due relish, long after quitting the school. The master was in the habit of “spiting” C——; that is to say, of taking every opportunity to be severe with him, nobody knew why. One day he comes into the school, and finds him placed in the middle of it with three other boys. He was not in one of his worst humours, and did not seem inclined to punish them, till he saw his antagonist. “Oh, oh! Sir,” said he; “what, you are among them, are you?“ and gave him an exclusive thump on the face. He then turned to one of the Grecians, and said, “I have not time to flog all these boys; make them draw lots, and I’ll punish one.” The lots were drawn, and C——’s was favourable. “Oh, oh!” returned the master, when he saw them, “you have escaped, have you, Sir?” and pulling out his watch, and turning again to the Grecian observed, that he found he had time to punish the whole three; “and, Sir,” added he to C——, with another slap, “I’ll begin with you.” He then took the boy into the library and flogged him; and, on issuing forth again, had the face to say, with an air of indifference, “I have
not time, after all, to punish these two other boys: let them take care how they provoke me another time.”

Often did I wish that I was a fairy, in order to play him tricks like a Caliban. We used to sit and fancy what we should do with his wig; how we would hamper and vex him; “put knives in his pillow, and halters in his pew.” To venture on a joke in our own mortal persons, was like playing with Polyphemus. One afternoon, when he was nodding with sleep over a lesson, a boy of the name of M——, who stood behind him, ventured to take a pin, and begin advancing with it up his wig. The hollow, exhibited between the wig and the nape of the neck, invited him. The boys encouraged this daring act of gallantry. Nods, and becks, and then whispers of “Do it, M.!” gave more and more valour to his hand. On a sudden, the master’s head falls back; he starts, with eyes like a shark; and seizing the unfortunate culprit, who stood helpless in the attitude of holding the pin, caught hold of him, fiery with passion. A “swinging task” ensued, which kept him at home all the holidays. One of these tasks would consist of an impossible quantity of Virgil, which the learner, unable to retain it at once, wasted his heart and soul out to “get up,” till it was too late.

Sometimes, however, our despot got into a dilemma, and then he did not know how to get out of it. A boy, now and then, would be roused into open and fierce remonstrance. I recollect S., now one of the mildest of preachers, starting up in his place, and pouring forth on his astonished hearer a torrent of invectives and threats, which the other could only answer by looking pale, and uttering a few threats in return. Nothing came of it. He did not like such matters to go before the governors. Another time, Favell, a Grecian, a youth of high spirit, whom he had struck, went to the school-door, opened it, and turning
round with the handle in his grasp, told him he would never set foot again in the place, unless he promised to treat him with more delicacy. “Come back, child; come back!” said the other, pale, and in a faint voice. There was a dead silence. Favell came back, and nothing more was done.

A sentiment, unaccompanied with something practical, would have been lost upon him. D——, who went afterwards to the Military College at Woolwich, played him a trick, apparently between jest and earnest, which amused us exceedingly. He was to be flogged; and the dreadful door of the library was approached. (They did not invest the books with flowers, as Montaigne recommends.) Down falls the criminal, and twisting himself about the master’s legs, which he does the more when the other attempts to move, repeats without ceasing, “Oh. good God, Sir; consider my father, Sir; my father, Sir; you know my father.” The point was felt to be getting ludicrous, and was given up. P——, now a popular preacher, was in the habit of entertaining the boys that way. He was a regular wag; and would snatch his jokes out of the very flame and fury of the master, like snap-dragon. Whenever the other struck him, he would get up; and half to avoid the blows, and half render them ridiculous, begin moving about the school-room, making all sorts of antics. When he was struck in the face, he would clap his hand with affected vehemence to the place, and cry as rapidly, “Oh Lord!” If the blow came on the arm, he would grasp his arm, with a similar exclamation. The master would then go, driving and kicking him, while the patient accompanied every blow with the same comments and illustrations, making faces to us by way of index.

What a bit of the golden age was it, when the Reverend Mr. Steevens, one of the under grammar-masters, took his place, on some oc-
casion, for a short time! Mr. Steevens was short and fat, with a handsome, cordial face. You loved him as you looked at him; and seemed as if you should love him the more, the fatter he became. I stammered when I was at that time of life; which was an infirmity, that used to get me into terrible trouble with the master. Mr. Steevens used to say, on the other hand, “Here comes our little black-haired friend, who stammers so. Now let us see what we can do for him.” The consequence was, I did not hesitate half so much as with the other. When I did, it was out of impatience to please him.

Such of us were not liked the better by the master, as were in favour with his wife. She was a sprightly good-looking woman, with black eyes; and was beheld with transport by the boys, whenever she appeared at the school-door. Her husband’s name, uttered in a mingled tone of good-nature and imperativeness. brought him down from his seat with smiling haste. Sometimes he did not return. On entering the school one day, he found a boy eating cherries. “Where did you get those cherries?” exclaimed he, thinking the boy had nothing to say for himself. “Mrs. —— gave them me, Sir.” He turned away, scowling with disappointment. Speaking of fruit, reminds me of a pleasant trait on the part of a Grecian of the name of Le Grice. He was the maddest of all the great boys in my time; clever, full of address, and not hampered with modesty. Remote rumours, not lightly to be heard, fell on our ears, respecting pranks of his amongst the nurse’s daughters. He was our Lord Rochester. He had a fair handsome face, with delicate aquiline nose, and twinkling eyes. I remember his astonishing me, when I was “a new boy,” with sending me for a bottle of water, which he proceeded to pour down the back of G. a grave Deputy Grecian. On the master’s asking him one day, why he, of all the boys, had given up no
exercise, (it was a particular exercise that they were bound to do in the course of a long set of holidays,) he said he had had “a lethargy.” The extreme impudence of this puzzled the master; and I believe nothing came of it. But what I alluded to about the fruit, was this. Le Grice was in the habit of eating apples in school-time, for which he had been often rebuked. One day, having particularly pleased the master, the latter, who was eating apples himself, and who would now and then with great ostentation present a boy with some half-penny token of his mansuetude, called out to his favourite of the moment;—“Le Grice, here is an apple for you.” Le Grice, who felt his dignity hurt as a Grecian, but was more pleased at having this opportunity of mortifying his reprover, replied, with an exquisite tranquillity of assurance, “Sir, I never eat apples.” For this, among other things, the boys adored him. Poor fellow! He and
Favell (who, though very generous, was said to be a little too sensible of an humble origin,) wrote to the Duke of York when they were at College, for commissions in the army. The Duke good-naturedly sent them. Le Grice died a rake in the West Indies. Favell was killed in one of the battles in Spain, but not before he had distinguished himself as an officer and a gentleman.

The Upper Grammar School was divided into four classes, or forms. The two under ones were called Little and Great Erasmus; the two upper were occupied by the Grecians and Deputy Grecians. We used to think the title of Erasmus taken from the great scholar of that name; but the sudden appearance of a portrait among us, bearing to be the likeness of a certain Erasmus Smith, Esquire, shook us terribly in this opinion, and was a hard trial of our gratitude. We scarcely relished this perpetual company of our benefactor watching us, as he seemed to do, with his omnipresent eyes. I believe he was a rich merchant, and that
the forms of Little and Great Erasmus were really named after him. It was but a poor consolation to think that he himself, or his great-uncle, might have been named after Erasmus. Little Erasmus learnt
Ovid; Great Erasmus, Virgil, Terence, and the Greek Testament. The Deputy Grecians were in Homer, Cicero, and Demosthenes; the Grecians in the Greek plays and the mathematics. When a boy entered the Upper School, he was understood to be in the road to the University, provided he had inclination and talents for it; but as only one Grecian a-year went to College, the drafts out of Great and Little Erasmus into the writing-school were numerous. A few also became Deputy Grecians without going farther, and entered the world from that form. Those who became Grecians, always went to the University, though not always into the Church; which was reckoned a departure from the contract. When I first came to school, at seven years old, the names of the Grecians were Allen, Favell, Thomson, and Le Grice, brother of the Le Grice above-mentioned, and now a clergyman in Cornwall. Charles Lamb had lately been Deputy Grecian; and Coleridge had left for the University. The master, inspired by his subject with an eloquence beyond himself, once called him, “that sensible fool, Cōlĕrĭdge;” pronouncing the word like a dactyl. Coleridge must have alternately delighted and bewildered him. The compliment, as to the bewildering, was returned; if not the delight. The pupil, I am told, says he dreams of the master to this day, and that his dreams are horrible. A bon-mot of his is recorded, very characteristic both of pupil and master. Coleridge, when he heard of his death, said, “It was lucky that the cherubim who took him to heaven were nothing but faces and wings, or he would infallibly have flogged them by the way.” This is his esoterical opinion of him. His outward and subtler opinion, or opinion exoterical, he has favoured the
public with in his Literary Life. He praises him, among other things, for his good taste in poetry, and his not suffering the boys to get into the commonplaces of Castalian streams, Invocations to the Muses, &c. Certainly there were no such things in our days,—at least, to the best of my remembrance. But I do not think the master saw through them, out of a perception of any thing farther. His objection to a commonplace must have been itself commonplace. I do not remember seeing Coleridge when I was a child. Lamb’s visits to the school, after he left it, I remember well, with his fine intelligent face. Little did I think I should have the pleasure of sitting with it in after-times as an old friend, and seeing it careworn and still finer.
Allen, the Grecian, was so handsome, though in another and more obvious way, that running one day against a barrow-woman in the street, and turning round to appease her in the midst of her abuse, she said, “Where are you driving to, you great hulking, good-for-nothing,—beautiful fellow, God bless you!” Le Grice the elder was a wag, like his brother, but more staid. He went into the Church as he ought to do, and married a rich widow. He published a translation, abridged, of the celebrated pastoral of Longus; and report at school made him the author of a little anonymous tract on the Art of Poking the Fire.

Few of us cared for any of the books that were taught; and no pains were taken to make us do so. The boys had no helps to information, bad or good, except what the master afforded them respecting manufactures;—a branch of knowledge, to which, as I have before observed, he had a great tendency, and which was the only point on which he was enthusiastic and gratuitous. I do not blame him for what he taught us of this kind; there was a use in it, beyond what he was aware of: but it was the only one on which he volunteered any assistance. In
this he took evident delight. I remember, in explaining pigs of iron or lead to us, he made a point of crossing one of his legs with the other, and, cherishing it up and down with great satisfaction, and saying, “A pig, children, is about the thickness of my leg.” Upon which, with a slavish pretence of novelty, we all looked at it, as if he had not told us so a hundred times. In every thing else, we had to hunt out our own knowledge. He would not help us with a word, till he had ascertained that we had done all we could to learn the meaning of it ourselves. This discipline was useful; and, in this and every other respect, we had all the advantages which a mechanical sense of right, and a rigid exaction of duty, could afford us; but no farther. The only superfluous grace that he was guilty of, was the keeping a manuscript book, in which, by a rare luck, the best exercise in English verse was occasionally copied out for immortality! To have verses in “the Book” was the rarest and highest honour conceivable to our imaginations. I did not care for
Ovid at that time. I read and knew nothing of Horace; though I had got somehow a liking for his character. Cicero I disliked, as I cannot help doing still. Demosthenes I was inclined to admire, but did not know why, and would very willingly have given up him and his difficulties together. Homer I regarded with horror, as a series of lessons, which I had to learn by heart before I understood him. When I had to conquer, in this way, lines which I had not construed, I had recourse to a sort of artificial memory, by which I associated the Greek words with sounds that had a meaning in English. Thus, a passage about Thetis I made to bear on some circumstance that had taken place in the school. An account of a battle was converted into a series of jokes; and the master, while I was saying my lesson to him in trepidation, little suspected what a figure he was often cutting in the text.
The only classic I remember having any love for, was Virgil; and that was for the episode of Nisus and Euryalus. But there were three books I read in whenever I could, and that have often got me into trouble. These were
Tooke’sPantheon,” Lempriere’s “Classical Dictionary,” and Spence’sPolymetis,” the great folio edition with plates. Tooke was a prodigious favourite with us. I see before me, as vividly now as ever, his Mars and Apollo, his Venus and Aurora, which I was continually trying to copy; the Mars, coming on furiously in his car; Apollo, with his radiant head, in the midst of shades and fountains; Aurora with her’s, a golden dawn; and Venus, very handsome, we thought, and not looking too modest, in “a slight cymar.” It is curious how completely the graces of the Pagan theology overcame with us the wise cautions and reproofs that were set against it in the pages of Mr. Tooke. Some years after my departure from school, happening to look at the work in question, I was surprised to find so much of that matter in him. When I came to reflect, I had a sort of recollection that we used occasionally to notice it, as something inconsistent with the rest of the text,—strange, and odd, and like the interference of some pedantic old gentleman. This, indeed, is pretty nearly the case. The author has also made a strange mistake about Bacchus, whom he represents, both in his text and his print, as a mere belly-god; a corpulent child, like the Bacchus bestriding a tun. This is any thing but classical. The truth is, it was a sort of pious fraud, like many other things palmed upon antiquity. Tooke’s “Pantheon” was written originally in Latin by the Jesuits. Our Lempriere was a fund of entertainment. Spence’s “Polymetis” was not so easily got at. There was also something in the text that did not invite us; but we admired the fine large prints. However, Tooke was the favourite. I cannot divest myself of a notion, to this
day, that there is something really clever in the picture of Apollo. The Minerva we “could not abide;” Juno was no favourite, for all her throne and her peacock; and we thought Diana too pretty. The instinct against these three goddesses begins early. I used to wonder how Juno and Minerva could have the insolence to dispute the apple with Venus.

In those times, Cooke’s edition of the British Poets came up. I had got an odd volume of Spenser; and I fell passionately in love with Collins and Grey. How I loved those little sixpenny numbers containing whole poets! I doated on their size; I doated on their type, on their ornaments, on their wrappers containing lists of other poets, and on the engravings from Kirk. I bought them over and over again, and used to get up select sets, which disappeared like buttered crumpets; for I could resist neither giving them away, nor possessing them. When the master tormented me, when I used to hate and loathe the sight of Homer, and Demosthenes, and Cicero, I would comfort myself with thinking of the sixpence in my pocket, with which I should go out to Paternoster-row, when school was over, and buy another number of an English poet. I was already fond of verses. The first I remember writing were in honour of the Duke of York’sVictory at Dunkirk;” which victory, to my great mortification, turned out to be a defeat. I compared him with Achilles and Alexander; or should rather say, trampled upon those heroes in the comparison. I fancied him riding through the field, and shooting right and left of him! Afterwards, when in Great Erasmus, I wrote a poem called “Winter,” in consequence of reading Thomson; and when Deputy Grecian, I completed some hundred stanzas of another, called the “Fairy King,” which was to be in emulation of Spenser! I also wrote a long poem in irregular Latin
verses, (such as they were,) entitled “
Thor;” the consequence of reading Gray’s Odes, and Mallett’s Northern Antiquities. English verses were the only exercise I performed with satisfaction. Themes, or prose essays, I wrote so badly, that the master was in the habit of contemptuously crumpling them up in his hand, and calling out, “Here, children, there is something to amuse you.” Upon which the servile part of the boys would jump up, and seize the paper;. and be amused accordingly. The essays must have been very absurd, no doubt; but those who would have tasted the ridicule best, were the last to move. There was an absurdity in giving us such essays to write. They were upon a given subject, generally a moral one, such as ambition, or the love of money: and the regular process in the manufacture was this. You wrote out the subject very fairly at top, Quid non mortalia, &c. or Crescit amor nummi. Then the ingenious thing was to repeat this apothegm in as many words and round-about phrases, as possible; which took up a good bit of the paper. Then you attempted to give a reason or two, whyamor nummi” was bad; or on what accounts heroes ought to eschew ambition;—after which naturally came a few examples, got out of “Plutarch,” or the “Selectæ e Profanis;” and the happy moralist concluded with signing his name. Somebody speaks of schoolboys going about to one another on these occasions, and asking for “a little sense.” That was not the phrase with us: it was “a thought P——, can you give me a thought?”—“C——, for God’s sake, help me to a thought, for it only wants ten minutes to eleven.” It was a joke with P——, who knew my hatred of themes, and how I used to hurry over them, to come to me at a quarter to eleven, and say, “Hunt, have you begun your theme?”—“Yes, P——.” He then, when the quarter of an hour had expired and the bell tolled, came again, and, with a sort of rhyming formula to
the other question, said, “Hunt, have you done your theme?”—“Yes, P——,” How I dared to trespass in this way upon the patience of the master, I cannot conceive. I suspect, that the themes appeared to him more absurd than careless. Perhaps another thing perplexed him. The master was rigidly orthodox; the school-establishment also was orthodox and high tory; and there was just then a little perplexity, arising from the free doctrines inculcated by the books we learnt, and the new and alarming echo of them struck on the ears of power by the French Revolution. My father was in the habit of expressing his opinions. He did not conceal the new tendency which he felt to modify those which he entertained respecting both Church and State. His unconscious son at school, nothing doubting or suspecting, repeated his eulogies of
Timoleon and the Gracchi, with all a schoolboy’s enthusiasm; and the master’s mind was not of a pitch to be superior to this unwitting annoyance. It was on these occasions, I suspect, that he crumpled up my themes with a double contempt, and an equal degree of perplexity. There was a better exercise, consisting of an abridgement of some paper in the “Spectator.” We made, however, little of it, and thought it very difficult and perplexing. In fact, it was a hard task for boys, utterly unacquainted with the world, to seize the best points out of the writings of masters in experience. It only gave the “Spectator” an unnatural gravity in our eyes. A common paper for selection, because reckoned one of the easiest, was the one beginning, “I have always preferred cheerfulness to mirth.” I had heard this paper so often, and was so tired with it, that it gave me a great inclination to prefer mirth to cheerfulness.

My books were a never-ceasing consolation to me, and such they have never ceased to be. My favourites, out of school, were Spenser,
Collins, Gray, and the “Arabian Nights.” Pope I admired more than loved; Milton was above me; and the only play of Shakspeare’s with which I was conversant was Hamlet, of which I had a delighted awe. Neither then, however, nor at any time, have I been as fond of the drama as of any other species of writing, though I have privately tried my hand several times—farce, comedy, and tragedy; and egregiously failed in all. Chaucer, one of my best friends, I was not acquainted with till long afterwards. Hudibras I remember reading through at one desperate plunge, while I lay incapable of moving, with two scalded legs. I did it as a sort of achievement, driving on through the verses without understanding a twentieth part of them, but now and then laughing immoderately at the rhymes and similes, and catching a bit of knowledge unawares. I had a schoolfellow of the name of Brooke, afterwards an officer in the East India service,—a grave, quiet boy, with a fund of manliness and good-humour at bottom. He would pick out the ludicrous couplets, like plums;—such as those on the astrologer,
Who deals in destiny’s dark counsels,
And sage opinions of the moon sells;
And on the apothecary’s shop—
With stores of deleterious med’cines,
Which whosoever took is dead since.
He had the little thick duodecimo edition, with
Hogarth’s plates,—dirty, and well read, looking like Hudibras himself. I read through, at the same time, and with little less sense of it as a task, Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” The divinity of it was so much “Heathen Greek” to us. Unluckily, I could not taste the beautiful “Heathen Greek” of the style.
Milton’s heaven made no impression; nor could I enter even into the earthly catastrophe of his man and woman. The only two things I thought of were their happiness in Paradise, where (to me) they eternally remained; and the strange malignity of the devil, who instead of getting them out of it, as the poet represents, only served to bind them closer. He seemed an odd shade to the picture. The figure he cut in the engravings was more in my thoughts, than any thing said of him in the poem. He was a sort of human wild beast, lurking about the garden in which they lived; though, in consequence of the dress given him in some of the plates, this man with a tail occasionally confused himself in my imagination with a Roman general. I could make little of it. I believe the plates impressed me altogether much more than the poem. Perhaps they were the reason why I thought of Adam and Eve as I did, the pictures of them in their paradisaical state being more numerous than those in which they appear exiled: besides, in their exile they were together; and this constituting the best thing in their paradise, I suppose I could not so easily get miserable with them when out of it.

The scald that I speak of, as confining me to bed, was a bad one. I will give an account of it, because it furthers the elucidation of our school manners. I had then become a monitor, or one of the chiefs of a ward, and was sitting before the fire one evening, after the boys had gone to bed, wrapped up in the perusal of the “Wonderful Magazine,” and having in my ear at the same time the bubbling of a great pot, or rather cauldron, of water, containing what was by courtesy called a bread-pudding; being neither more nor less than a loaf or two of our bread, which, with a little sugar mashed up with it, was to serve for my supper. And there were eyes, not yet asleep, which would look
at it out of their beds, and regard it as a very lordly dish. From this dream of bliss I was roused up on the sudden by a great cry, and a horrible agony in my legs. A “boy,” as a fag was called, wishing to get something from the other side of the fire-place, and not choosing either to go round behind the table, or to disturb the illustrious legs of the monitor, had endeavoured to get under them or between, and so pulled the great handle of the pot after him. It was a frightful sensation. The whole of my being seemed collected in one fiery torment into my legs.
Wood, the Grecian, (now Fellow of Pembroke, at Cambridge,) who was in our ward, and who was always very kind to me, (led, I believe, by my inclination for verses, in which he had a great name,) came out of his study, and after helping me off with my stockings, which was a horrid operation, the stockings being very coarse, took me in his arms to the sick ward. I shall never forget the enchanting relief occasioned by the cold air, as it blew across the square of the sick ward. I lay there for several weeks, not allowed to move for some time; and caustics became necessary before I got well. The getting well was delicious. I had no tasks—no master; plenty of books to read; and the nurse’s daughter (absit calumnia) brought me tea and buttered toast, and encouraged me to play on the flute. My playing consisted of a few tunes by rote; my fellow-invalids (none of them in very desperate case) would have it rather than no playing at all; so we used to play, and tell stories, and go to sleep, thinking of the blessed sick holiday we should have next day, and of the bowl of milk and bread for breakfast, which was alone worth being sick for. The sight of Mr. Long’s probe was not so pleasant. We preferred seeing it in the hands of his pupil, Mr. Vincent, whose manners, quiet and mild, had double effect on a set of boys
more or less jealous of the mixed humbleness and importance of their school. This is most likely the same Mr. Vincent who now lectures at St. Bartholomew’s. He was dark, like a West Indian, and I used to think him handsome. Perhaps the nurse’s daughter taught me to think so, for she was a considerable observer.

I was fifteen when I put off my band and blue skirts for a coat and neckcloth. I was then first Deputy Grecian; and had the honour of going out of the school in the same rank, at the same age, and for the same reason, as my friend Charles Lamb. The reason was, that I hesitated in my speech. I did not stammer half so badly as I used; and it is very seldom that I halt at a syllable now; but it was understood that a Grecian was bound to deliver a public speech before he left school, and to go into the Church afterwards; and as I could do neither of these things, a Grecian I could not be. So I put on my coat and waistcoat, and, what was stranger, my hat; a very uncomfortable addition to my sensations. For eight years I had gone bareheaded; save, now and then, a few inches of pericranium, when the little cap, no larger than a crumpet, was stuck on one side, to the mystification of the old ladies in the streets. I then cared as little for the rains as I did for any thing else. I had now a vague sense of worldly trouble, and of a great and serious change in my condition; besides which, I had to quit my old cloisters, and my playmates, and long habits of all sorts; so that, what was a very happy moment to schoolboys in general, was to me one of the most painful of my life. I surprised my schoolfellows and the master with the melancholy of my tears. I took leave of my books, of my friends, of my seat in the Grammar School, of my good-hearted
nurse and her daughter, of my bed, of the cloisters, and of the very pump out of which I had taken so many delicious draughts, as if I should never see them again, though I meant to come every day. The fatal hat was put on; my father was come to fetch me:
We, hand in hand, with strange new steps and slow,
Through Holborn took our meditative way.


For some time after I left school, I did nothing but visit my schoolfellows, haunt the bookstalls, and write verses. My father collected my verses, and published them with a large list of subscribers, numbers of whom belonged to his old congregations. I was as proud perhaps of the book at that time, as I am ashamed of it now. The French Revolution had not then, as afterwards, by a natural consequence, shaken up and refreshed the sources of thought all over Europe. At least, I was not old enough, perhaps was not able, to get out of the trammels of the regular imitative poetry and versification taught in the schools. My book was a heap of imitations, some of them clever enough for a youth of sixteen, but absolutely worthless in every other respect. However, the critics were very kind; and as it was unusual at that time to publish at so early a period of life, my age made me a kind of “Young
Roscius” in authorship. I was introduced to literati, and shown about among parties. My father taking me to see Dr. Raine, Master of the Charter House, the doctor, who was very kind and pleasant, but who probably drew none of our deductions in favour of the young writer’s abilities, warned me against the perils of authorship; adding, as a final dehortative, that “the shelves were full.” It was not till we came away, that I thought of an answer, which I conceived would have “annihilated” him. “Then, Sir,” (I should have said, thought I) “we will make another.” Not having been in time with this repartee, I felt all that anguish of undeserved and unnecessary defeat, which has been so pleasantly described in the Miseries of Human Life. This, thought I, would have been an answer befitting a poet, and calculated to make a figure in biography.

A mortification that I encountered at a house in Cavendish Square, affected me less, though it surprised me a good deal more. I had been held up, as usual, to the example of the young gentlemen, and the astonishment of the ladies, when, in the course of the dessert, one of mine host’s daughters, a girl of exuberant spirits and not of the austerest breeding, came up to me, and, as if she had discovered that I was not so young as I pretended to be, exclaimed, “What a beard you have got!” at the same time convincing herself of the truth of her discovery by taking hold of it! Had I been a year or two older, I should have taken my revenge. As it was, I know not how I behaved; but the next morning I hastened to have a beard no longer.

I was now a man, and resolved not to be out of countenance next time. Not long afterwards, my grandfather, sensible of the new fame in his family, but probably alarmed also at the consequences to which
it might lead, sent me word, that if I would come to Philadelphia, “he would make a man of me.” I sent word, in return, that “men grew in England as well as America;” an answer which repaid me for the loss of my apothegm at Dr. Raine’s. I was very angry with him for his niggardly conduct to my mother. I could not help, for some time, identifying the whole American character with his; an injustice which helped to colour my opinions for a still longer time. Partly on the same account, I acquired a dislike for his friend
Dr. Franklin, author of “Poor Richard’s Almanack;” a heap, as it appeared to me, of “scoundrel maxims.”* I think I now appreciate Dr. Franklin as I ought; but

* Thomson’s phrase, in the ”Castle of Indolence,” speaking of a miserly money-getter:—
“A penny saved is a penny got:”
Firm to this scoundrel maxim keepeth he,
Ne of its rigour will he bate a jot,
Till it bath quench’d his fire and banished his pot.”

The reader will not imagine that I suppose all money-makers to be of this description. I have good reason to know otherwise. Very gallant spirits have I met with among them, who only take to this mode of activity for want of a better, and are as generous in disbursing, as they are vigorous in acquiring. You may always know the common run, as in other instances, by the soreness with which they feel attacks on the body corporate.

From observations of this nature on the part of a writer, who is neither fond of money, nor competent to an ordinary calculation, the reader will make all the drawbacks that the confession of that incompetency will allow: at the same time, it may be worth his while to consider that, far a reason which could be easily given, improvements of the most wholesale nature, in the condition of mankind, have not been accustomed to issue out of hands the most occupied in detail; and this is particularly remarkable in affairs of trade and commerce, the very changes which have ultimately been turned to the greatest advantage by the parties the most concerned, having been in the first instance opposed by no persons with so much violence. Of this fact, the revolutions in South America have furnished the latest, and not the least, remarkable proof.

Extremes, however, meet oftener than they are supposed to do. The greatest calculators I ever met with, were men who had come to the conclusion that the greatest of all the advan-

although I can see the utility of such publications as his Almanack for a rising commercial state, and hold it useful as a memorandum to uncalculating persons like myself, who happen to live in an old one, I think it has no business either in commercial nations long established, or in others who do not found their happiness in that sort of power. Franklin, with all his abilities, is but at the head of those who think that man lives “by bread alone.” He will commit none of the follies, none of the intolerances, the absence of which is necessary to the perfection of his system; and in setting his face against these, he discountenances a great number of things very inimical to higher speculations. But he was no more a fit representative of what human nature largely requires, and may reasonably hope to attain to, than negative represents positive, or the clearing away a ground in the back settlements, and setting to work upon it, represents the work in its completion. Something of the pettiness and materiality of his first occupation always stuck to him. He took nothing for a truth or a matter-of-fact that he could not handle, as it were, like his types; and yet, like all men of this kind, he was liable, when put out of the ordinary pale of his calculations, to fall into the greatest errors, and substitute the integrity of his reputation for that of whatsoever he chose to do. From never doing

tages of calculation consisted in knowing how much better the world could do without it. They even hoped that by means of the knowledge of this fact, explained by calculation itself, the world would ultimately be brought to their opinion; and certainly, if any thing could do it with some, that would be the way; but it is experiment, recommended by the progress of opinion, and hastened and forced by necessity, hat must produce this and all other changes.

For the assertion that Dr. Franklin cut off his son with a shilling, my only authority is family tradition. It is observable, however, that the friendliest of his biographers are not only forced to admit that he seemed a little too fond of money, but notice the mysterious secrecy in which his family history is involved.

wrong in little things, he conceived that he could do no wrong in great; and, in the most deliberate act of his life, he showed he had grievously mistaken himself. He was, I allow, one of the cardinal great men of his time. He was Prudence. But he was not what he took himself for,—all the other Virtues besides; and, inasmuch as he was deficient in those, he was deficient even in his favourite one. He was not Temperance for, in the teeth of his capital recommendations of that virtue, he did not scruple to get burly and big with the enjoyments that he cared for. He was not Justice; for he knew not how to see fair play between his own wisdom and that of a thousand wants and aspirations, of which he knew nothing; and he cut off his son with a shilling, for differing with him in politics. Lastly, he was not Fortitude; for, having few passions and no imagination, he knew not what it was to be severely tried; and if he had been, there is every reason to conclude, from the way in which he treated his son, that his self-love would have been the part in which he felt the torture; and that as his Justice was only arithmetic, so his Fortitude would have been nothing but stubbornness. If Franklin had been the only great man of his time, he would merely have contributed to make the best of a bad system, and so hurt the world by prolonging it; but, luckily, there were the French and English philosophers besides, who saw farther than he did, and provided for higher wants. I feel grateful to him, for one, inasmuch as he extended the sphere of liberty, and helped to clear the earth of the weeds of sloth and ignorance, and the wild beasts of superstition; but when he comes to build final homes for us, there I rejoice that wiser hands interfere. His line and rule are not every thing. They are not even a tenth part of it.
Cocker’s numbers are good; but those of Plato and Pythagoras have their merits too, or we should have been made of dry bones and tangents,
and not had the fancies in our heads, and the hearts beating in our bosoms, that make us what we are. We should not even have known that Cocker’s numbers were worth any thing; nor would Dr. Franklin himself have played on the harmonica, albeit he must have done it in a style very different from that of
Milton or Cimarosa. Finally, the writer of this passage on the Doctor would not have ventured to give his opinion of so great a man in so explicit a manner. I should not have ventured to give it, had I not been backed by so many powerful interests of humanity, and had I not suffered in common, and more than in common, with the rest of the world, from a system which, under the guise of economy and social advantage, tends to double the love of wealth and the hostility of competition, to force the best things down to a level with the worst, and to reduce mankind to the simplest and most mechanical law of their nature, divested of its heart and soul,—the law of being in motion. All the advantages of the present system of money-making, which may be called the great lay superstition of modern times, might be obtained by a fifth part of the labour, if more equally distributed. The rest is pure vanity and vexation of spirit, or the indulgence of a false notion of superiority, or the more melancholy necessity produced by wars and taxation, to which this very notion gives rise.

Among those with whom my book made me acquainted, was the late Rev. Mr. Maurice, of the British Museum, author of “Indian Antiquities.” I mention him more particularly, as I do others, because he had a character of his own, and makes a portrait. I had seen an engraving of him, representing a slender, prim-eyed, enamel-faced person, very tightly dressed and particular, with no expression but that of propriety, and born to be an archbishop. What was my surprise, when I beheld a short, chubby, good-humoured companion, with boyish features,
and a lax dress and manner, heartily glad to see you, and tender over his wine! He was a sort of clerical
Horace: he might, by some freak of the minister, have been made a bishop; and he thought he deserved it for having proved the identity of the Hindoo with the Christian Trinity, which was the object of his book! But he began to despond on that point, when I knew him; and he drank as much wine for sorrow, as he would, had he been made a bishop, for joy. He was a man of a social and overflowing nature; more fit, in truth, to set an example of charity than faith, and would have made an excellent Bramin of the Rama-Deeva worship. His Hymns to the deities of India, were as good as Sir William Jones’s, and his attention to the amatory theology of the country (allowing for his deficiency in the language) as close. He was not so fortunate as Sir William in retaining a wife whom he loved. I have heard him lament, in very genuine terms, his widowed condition, and the task of finishing the great manuscript catalogue of the Museum books, to which his office had bound him. This must have been a torture, physical as well as moral; for he had weak eyes, and wrote with a magnifying glass as big round as the palm of his hand. With this, in a tall thick handwriting, as if painting a set of rails, he was to finish the folio catalogues, and had produced the seven volumes of Indian Antiquities! Nevertheless, he seemed to lament his destiny, rather in order to accommodate the weakness of his lachrymal organs, than out of any internal uneasiness; for with the aspect he had the spirits of a boy; and his laughter would follow his tears with a happy incontinence. He was always catching cold, and getting well of it after dinner. Many a roast fowl and bottle of wine have I enjoyed with him in his rooms at the British Museum; and if I thought the reader, as well as myself, had not a regard for him. I would not have thus opened their doors. They
consisted of the first floor in the turret nearest Museum-street. I never pass them, without remembering how he used to lay down his magnifying glass, take both my hands, and condescend to anticipate the pleasant chat we should have about authors and books over his wine;—I say, condescend, because, though he did not affect any thing of that sort, it was a remarkable instance of his good-nature, and his freedom from pride, to place himself on a level in this manner with a youth in his teens, and pretend that I brought him as much amusement as he gave. Owing to the exclusive notions I entertained of friendship, I mystified him by answering the “Dear Sirs” of his letters in a more formal manner. I fear it induced him to make unfavourable comparisons of my real disposition with my behaviour at table; and it must be allowed, that having no explanation on the subject, he had a right to be mystified. Somehow or other, (I believe it was because a new Dulcinea called me elsewhere,) the acquaintance dropped, and I did not see him for many years. He died, notwithstanding his wine and his catarrhs, at a good old age, writing verses to the last, and showing what a young heart he retained by his admiration of nature: and undoubtedly this it was that enabled him to live so long; for, though the unfeeling are apt to outlast the sensitive during a sophisticate and perplexing state of society, it is astonishing how long a cordial pulse will keep playing, if allowed reasonably to have its way. Were the lives of mankind as natural as they should be, and their duties made as cheerful, the Maurices and the Horaces would outlast all the formalists buttoned up in denial, as surely as the earth spins round, and the pillars fall.

I wish I could relate half the stories Mr. Maurice told me. He told them well, and I should have been glad to repeat them in his own words.
I recollect but one, which I shall tell for his sake, though it is not without a jest. I hope it is not old. He said there was a gentleman, not very robust, but an enthusiast for nature and good health, who entertained a prodigious notion of the effects of smelling to fresh earth.* Accordingly, not to go too nicely about the matter, but to do it like a man, he used to walk every morning to Primrose-Hill; and, digging a hole of a good depth in the ground, prostrate himself, and put his head in it. The longer he kept his head immersed, the more benefit he thought he derived; so that he would lie for several minutes, and look like a Persian worshipping the sun. One day some thieves set upon him, and, retaining his head under that salutary restriction, picked his pockets.

Mr. Maurice got me permission to read in the Museum; which I did regularly for some time. It was there I began to learn Italian. I obtained the same privilege for a person who became one of its most enthusiastic visitors, and who is worth describing. His name is Llwyd (for he would account it treason to his country to write it Lloyd), and he is author, among other pieces, of a poem entitled “Beaumaris Bay,” which obtained a great deal of praise from the critics. I say, “is,” because I hope he is alive to read this account of himself, and to attribute

* Bacon had a notion of this sort, and would have a piece of earth brought him fresh out of the ground to smell to; but then he put wine to it. I fancy I hear Mr. Maurice exclaiming, “Ah, he was a great man!” There was a pomp and altitude in the ways of Bacon, and all in the highest taste, that serves almost to reconcile us to Cowley’s conceit, in styling him “Nature’s Lord Chancellor.” His house and gardens were poetically magnificent. He had the flowers in season always put upon his table; sometimes had music in the next room while he was writing; and would ride out in an open chariot during the rain, with his head bare, saying “he felt the spirit of the universe upon him!”

it (as he assuredly will do) to its proper motives. Mr. Llwyd was probably between thirty and forty when I knew him. His face and manner of speaking were as ancient British as he could desire; but these merits he had in common with others. What rendered him an extraordinary person was, that he had raised himself, by dint of his talents and integrity, from the situation of a gentleman’s servant to a footing with his superiors, and they were generous and wise enough to acknowledge it. From what I was told, nothing could be better done on all sides. They encouraged, and, I believe, enabled him to make good his position; and he gave the best proof of his right to it, by the delicacy of his acquiescence. His dress was plain and decent, equally remote from sordidness and pretension; and his manners possessed that natural good breeding, which results from the wish to please and the consciousness of being respected. Mr. Llwyd came to London at certain periods, took an humble lodging, and passed his time in visiting his friends, and reading at the Museum. His passion was for the antiquities of his native country. If you looked over his book, it was most probably full of the coat-armour of Wynnes and Prices. I was indebted to him for an introduction to his friend
Mr. Owen, translator of the Paradise Lost into Welsh. Both of them were of the order of Bards; and Mr. Owen carried the same seal of his British origin in his face and manners, and appeared to possess the same simplicity and goodness. Furthermore, he had a Welsh harp in his room, and I had the satisfaction of hearing him play upon it. He was not very like Gray’s bard; and instead of Conway’s flood, and a precipice, and an army coming to cut our throats, we had tea and bread and butter, and a snug parlour with books in it. Notwithstanding my love of Gray, and a considerable wish to see a proper ill-used bard, I
thought this a better thing, though I hardly know whether my friends did. I am not sure, with all their good-nature, whether they would not have preferred a good antiquarian death, with the opportunity of calling
King Edward a rascal, and playing their harps at him, to all the Saxon conveniences of modern times.


It was not long after this period, that I ventured upon publishing my first prose, which consisted of a series of essays under the title of “The Traveller, by Mr. Town, Junior, Critic and Censor-General.” They came out in the evening paper of that name; and were imitations, as the reader will guess, of the “Connoisseur,” which professed to be written by Mr. Town, Critic and Censor-General. I offered them with fear and trembling to Mr. Quin, the Editor of the “Traveller,” and was astonished at the gaiety with which he accepted them. What astonished me more, was a perquisite of five or six copies of the paper, which I enjoyed every Saturday when my essays appeared, and with which I used to reissue from Bolt-Court in a state of transport. I had been told, but could not
easily conceive, that the Editor of a new evening paper would be happy to fill up his pages with any decent writing; but Mr. Quin praised me besides, and I could not behold the long columns of type, written by myself, in a public paper, without thinking there must be some merit in them, besides that of being a stop-gap. They were lively, and showed a tact for writing; but nothing more. There was something, however, in my writings at that period, and for some years afterwards, which, to observers, might have had an interest beyond what the author supplied, and amounted to a sign of the times. I allude to a fondness for imitating Voltaire. I had met with translations of several of his pieces on the book-stalls; and being prepared by a variety of circumstances, already noticed, to think that existing opinions and institutions might be fallible, I was transported with the gay courage and unquestionable humanity of that extraordinary person, and soon caught the tone of his cunning implications and provoking turns.
Voltaire, in an essay written by himself in the English language, has said of Milton, in a passage which would do honour to our best writers, that when the poet saw the Adamo of Andreini at Florence, he “pierced through the absurdity of the plot to the hidden majesty of the subject.” It may be said of himself, that he pierced through the conventional majesty of a great many subjects, to the hidden absurdity of the plot. He could not build as he could destroy. He was the merry general of an army of pioneers. But he laid the axe to a heap of savage abuses; pulled the corner-stones, out of dungeons and inquisitions; bowed and mocked the most tyrannical absurdities out of countenance; and raised one prodigious peal of laughter at superstition, from Naples to the Baltic. He was the first man who got the power of opinion and common sense
openly recognized as a great reigning authority; and who made the acknowledgment of it a point of wit and cunning, with those who had hitherto thought they had the world to themselves. I admired him more then than I do now; I thought he had more imagination, and a deeper insight into all the wants and capabilities of mankind. But though I think less of him as one who understands all they want, I think now, more than ever, that he cannot be too highly appreciated as one who understood what they want not. I differ with him in many points, moral, political, and religious; and I state this, not to make out that my difference is of any value, but to show that those who honestly differ with a man, can afford to do him justice; and that the true way of regarding Voltaire, in order to do him this justice, and ourselves too, is to look at him in the broad light of the great opposer of dogma; leaving us, in our still broader light, if we have it, to retain whatever good he omitted, and to add whatever improvement we can discover. It is enough, that he has taught us not to dictate and arrogate on the one hand, and not to submit to any thing uninquired into or inhuman on the other.

An abridgment that I picked up of the Philosophical Dictionary (a translation) was for a long while my text-book, both for opinion and style. I was also a great admirer of L’Ingenu, or the Sincere Huron; and the Essay on the Philosophy of History. In the character of the Sincere Huron I thought I found a resemblance to my own, as most readers do in those of their favourites: and this piece of self-love helped me to discover as much good-heartedness in Voltaire as I discerned wit. Candide, I confess, I could not like. I enjoyed passages; but the laughter was not as good-humoured as usual; there was a view of things in it, which I never entertained then or afterwards, and into which the
author had been led, rather in order to provoke
Leibnitz, than because it was natural to him; and, to crown my unwilling dislike, the book had a coarseness, apart from graceful and pleasurable ideas, which I have never been able to endure. There were passages in the abridgment of the Philosophical Dictionary which I always passed over; but the rest delighted me beyond measure. I have not seen it for years till the other day, having used in the meantime a French copy of the work itself; but I can repeat passages out of it now, and will lay two or three short ones before the reader, as specimens of what made such an impression upon me. They are in Voltaire’s best manner; which consists in an artful intermixture of the conventional dignity and real absurdity of what he is exposing, the tone being as grave as the dignity seems to require, and the absurdity coming out as if unintentionally and by the by.

Speaking of the Song of Solomon, (of which, by the way, his criticism is very far from being in the right, though he puts it so pleasantly,) he thinks he has the royal lover at a disadvantage with his comparisons of noses to towers, and eyes to fishpools, and then concludes with observing, “All this, it must be confessed, is not in the taste of the Latin poet; but then a Jew is not obliged to write like Virgil.” Now it would not be difficult to show, that Eastern and Western poetry had better be two things than one; or, at least, that they have a right to be so, and can lay claim to their own beauties; but, at the same time, it is impossible to help laughing at this pretended admission in Solomon’s favour, and the cunning introduction of the phrase “a Jew,” contrasted with the dignity of the name of Virgil.

In another part of the same article on Solomon, where he speaks of the many thousands of chariots which the Jewish monarch possessed,
(a quantity that certainly have a miraculous appearance, though, perhaps, explainable by a good scholar,) he says he cannot conceive, for the life of him, what Solomon did with such a multitude of carriages, “unless,” adds he, “it was to take the ladies of his seraglio an airing on the borders of the lake of Genesareth, or along the brook Cedron; a charming spot of ground, except that it is dry nine months in the year, and the ground a little stony.” At these passages I used to roll with laughter; and I cannot help laughing now, writing as I am, alone by my fire-side. They tell nothing, except against those who confound every thing the most indifferent, relating to the great men of the Bible, with something sacred; and who have thus done more harm to their own distinctions of sacred and profane, than all which has been charged on the ridicule they occasion.

The last quotation shall be from the admirable article on War, which made a profound impression on me. You cannot help laughing at it: the humour is high and triumphant; but the laugh ends in very serious reflections on the nature of war, and the very doubtful morality of those who make no scruple, when it suits them, of advocating the certainty of calamity in some things, while they protest against the least hazard of it in others. Voltaire notices the false and frivolous pretensions, upon which princes subject their respective countries to the miseries of war, purely to oblige their own cupidity and ambition. One of them, he says, finds in some old document a claim or pretence of some relation of his to some piece of land in the possession of another. He gives the other notice of his claim; the other will not hear of it: so the prince in question “picks up a great many men, who have nothing to do and nothing to lose; binds their hats with coarse white worsted, five sous to the ell; turns them to the right and left, and marches
away with them to glory.” Now the glory and the white worsted, the potentate who is to have an addition to his coffers, and the poor soul who is to be garnished for it with a halo of bobbin, “five sous to the ell,” here come into admirable contrast. War may be necessary on some occasions, till a wiser remedy be found; and ignoble causes may bring into play very noble passions; but it is desirable that the world should take the necessity of no existing system for granted, which is accompanied with horrible evils. This is a lesson which Voltaire has taught us; and it is invaluable. Our author terminates his ridicule on War with a sudden and startling apostrophe to an eminent preacher on a very different subject. The familiar tone of the reproof is very pleasant. “
Bourdaloue, a very bad sermon have you made against Love; against that passion which consoles and restores the human race; but not a word, bad or good, have you said against this passion that tears us to pieces.” (I quote from memory, and am not sure of my words in this extract; but the spirit of them is the same.) He adds, that all the miseries ever produced in the world by Love, do not come up to the calamities occasioned by a single campaign. If he means Love in the abstract, unconnected with the systems by which it has been regulated in different parts of the world, he is probably in the right; but the miscalculation is enormous, if he includes those. The seventy thousand prostitutes alone in the streets of London, which we are told are the inevitable accompaniment, and even safeguard, of the virtuous part of our system, (to say nothing of the tempers, the jealousies, the chagrins, the falsehoods, the quarrels, and the repeated murders which afflict and astonish us even in that,) most probably experience more bitterness of heart every day of their lives, than is caused by any one campaign, however wild and flagitious.


Besides Voltaire and the “Connoisseur,” I was very fond at that time of “Johnson’s Lives of the Poets,” and a great reader of Pope. My admiration of the “Rape of the Lock,” led me to write a long mock-heroic poem, entitled the “Battle of the Bridal Ring,” the subject of which was a contest between two rival orders of spirits, on whom to bestow a lady in marriage. I venture to say, that it would have been well spoken of by the critics, and was not worth twopence. I recollect one couplet, which will serve to show how I mimicked the tone of my author. It was an apostrophe to Mantua,—
“Mantua, of great and small the long renown,
That now a Virgil giv’st, and now a gown.”

Dryden I read too, but not with that relish for his nobler versification which I afterwards acquired. Dramatic reading, with all my love of the play, I never was fond of; yet, in the interval of my departure from school, and my getting out of my teens, I wrote two farces, a comedy, and a tragedy; and the plots of all (such as they were) were inventions. The hero of my tragedy was the Earl of Surrey (Howard, the poet) who was put to death by Henry the Eighth. I forget what the comedy was upon. The title of one of the farces was the “Beau Miser,” which may explain the nature of it. The other was called “A Hundred a Year,” and turned upon a hater of the country, who upon having an annuity to that amount given him, on condition of his never going out of London, becomes a hater of the town. In the last scene, his annuity died a jovial death in a country-tavern; the bestower entering the room just as my hero had got on a table, with a glass in his hand, to drink confusion to the metropolis. All these pieces were, I doubt not, as bad as need be. About ten years ago, being sleepless one night with a fit of
enthusiasm, in consequence of reading about the Spanish play of
the Cid in Lord Holland’sLife of Guillen de Castro,” I determined to write a tragedy on the same subject, which was accepted at Drury Lane. Perhaps the conduct of this piece was not without merit, the conclusion of each act throwing the interest into the succeeding one; but I had great doubts of all the rest of it; and on receiving it from Mr. Elliston to make an alteration in the third act, very judiciously proposed by him, I looked the whole of the play over again, and convinced myself it was unfit for the stage: I therefore withheld it. I had made my hero too much like the beau ideal of a modern reformer, instead of the half godlike, half-bigoted soldier that he was. I began afterwards to re-cast the play, but grew tired and gave it up. The Cid would make a delicious character for the stage, or in any work; not, indeed, as Corneille declaimed him, nor as inferior writers might adapt him to the reigning taste; but taken, I mean, as he was, with the noble impulses he received from nature, the drawbacks with which a bigoted age qualified them, and the social and open-hearted pleasantry (not the least evidence of his nobleness) that brings forth his heart, as it were, in flashes through the stern armour. But this would require a strong hand, and readers capable of grappling with it. In the meantime, they should read of him in Mr. Southey’s  Chronicle of the Cid, (an admirable summary from the old Spanish writers,) and in the delightful verses at the end of it, translated from an old Spanish poem by Mr. Hookham Frere, with a triumphant force and fidelity, that you know to be true to the original at once. It seems to me, that if I could live my life over again, and command a proper quantity of health and muscles from my ancestors, or a gymnasium, I could write same such poem myself, and make a book of it. All that I pretend at present, when I think what
a poem ought to be, is to be a reader not unworthy. As to the drama, I am persuaded I have no sort of talent for it; though I can paint a portrait or so in dialogue pretty well out of history, as in the imaginary conversations of
Pope and Swift, that have appeared in the New Monthly Magazine.

At the period I am speaking of, circumstances introduced me to the acquaintance of Mr. Bell, the Proprietor of the “Weekly Messenger.” In his house in the Strand, I used to hear of politics and dramatic criticism, and of the persons who wrote them. Mr. Bell had been well known as a bookseller, and a speculator in elegant typography. It is to him the public are indebted for the small edition of the Poets that preceded Cooke’s, and which, with all my predilections for that work, was unquestionably superior to it. Besides, it included Chaucer and Spenser. The omission of these in Cooke’s edition was as unpoetical a sign of the times, as the existing familiarity with their names is the reverse. It was thought a mark of good sense! As if good sense, in matters of literature, did not consist as much in knowing what was poetical in poetry, as brilliant in wit. Mr. Bell was upon the whole a remarkable person. He was a plain man, with a red face, and a nose exaggerated by intemperance; and yet there was something not unpleasing in his countenance, especially when he spoke. He had sparkling black eyes, a good-natured smile, gentlemanly manners, and one of the most agreeable voices I ever heard. He had no acquirements, perhaps not even grammar; but his taste in putting forth a publication, and getting the best artists to adorn it, was new in those times, and may be admired in any; and the same taste was observable in his house. He knew nothing of poetry. He thought the Della Cruscans fine people, because they were
known in the circles; and for
Milton’s Paradise Lost he had the same epithet as for Mrs. Crouch’s face, or the phaeton of Major Topham: he thought it “pretty.” Yet a certain liberal instinct, and turn for large dealing, made him include Chaucer and Spenser in his edition; he got Stothard to adorn the one, and Mortimer the other; and in the midst, I suspect, of very equivocal returns, published a British Theatre with embellishments, and a similar edition of the plays of Shakspeare,—the incorrectest work, according to Mr. Chalmers, that ever issued from the press. Unfortunately for Mr. Bell, he had as great a taste for neat wines and ankles, as for pretty books; and, to crown his misfortunes, the Prince of Wales, to whom he was bookseller, once did him the honour to partake of an entertainment at his house. He afterwards became a bankrupt. He was one of those men whose temperament and turn for enjoyment throw a sort of grace over whatsoever they do, standing them in stead of every thing but prudence, and sometimes even supplying them with the consolations which imprudence itself has forfeited. After his bankruptcy he set up a newspaper, which became profitable to every body but himself. He had become so used to lawyers and bailiffs, that the more his concerns flourished, the more his debts flourished with them. It seemed as if he would have been too happy without them; too exempt from the cares that beset the prudent. The first time I saw him, he was standing in a chemist’s shop, waiting till the road was clear for him to issue forth. He had a toothache, for which he held a handkerchief over his mouth; and while he kept a sharp look-out with his bright eye, was alternately groaning in a most gentlemanly manner over his gums and addressing some polite words to the shopman. I had not then been introduced
to him, and did not know his person; so that the effect of his voice upon me was unequivocal. I liked him for it, and wished the bailiff at the devil.

In the office of the “Weekly Messenger,” I saw one day a person who looked the epitome of squalid authorship. He was wretchedly dressed and dirty; and the rain, as he took his hat off, came away from it as from a spout. This was a man of the name of Badini, who had been poet at the Opera, and was then editor of the “Messenger.” He was afterwards sent out of the country under the Alien Act, and became reader of the English papers to Bonaparte. His intimacy with some of the first families in the country, among whom he had been a teacher, is supposed to have been of use to the French government. He wrote a good idiomatic English style, and was a man of abilities. I had never before seen a poor author, such as are described in books; and the spectacle of the reality startled me. Like other authors, however, who are at once very poor and very clever, his poverty was his own fault. When he received any money, he disappeared, and was understood to spend it in alehouses. We heard that in Paris he kept his carriage. I have since met with authors of the same squalid description; but they were destitute of ability, and had no more right to profess literature as a trade, than alchemy. It is from these that the common notions about the poverty of the profession are taken. One of them, poor fellow! might have cut a figure in Smollett. He was a proper ideal author, in rusty black, out at elbows, thin and pale. He brought me an ode about an eagle; for which the publisher of a magazine, he said, had had “the inhumanity” to offer him half-a-crown. His necessity for money he did not deny; but his great anxiety was to know whether, as a poetical composition, his ode was not worth more. “Is that poetry, Sir?” cried
he: “that’s what I want to know—is that poetry?” rising from his chair, and staring and trembling in all the agony of contested excellence.

My brother John, at the beginning of the year 1805, set up a paper, called the “News,” and I went to live with him in Brydges-street, and write the theatricals in it. It was he that invented the round window in the office of that paper, to attract attention. I say, the paper was his own, but it is a singular instance of my incuriousness, that I do not know to this day, and most likely never did, whether he had any share in it or not. Upon reflection, my impression is, that he had not. At all events, he was the printer and publisher, and he occupied the house.

It was the custom at that time for editors of papers to be intimate with actors and dramatists. They were often proprietors, as well as editors; and, in that case, it was not expected that they should escape the usual intercourse, or wish to do so. It was thought a feather in the cap of all parties; and with their feathers they tickled one another. The newspaper man had consequence in the green-room, and plenty of tickets for his friends; and he dined at amusing tables. The dramatist secured a good-natured critique in his journal, sometimes got it written himself, or, according to Mr. Reynolds, was even himself the author of it. The actor, if he was of any eminence, stood upon the same ground of reciprocity; and not to know a pretty actress, would have been a want of the knowing in general. Upon new performers, and upon writers not yet introduced, a journalist was more impartial; and sometimes, where the proprietor was in one interest more than another, or for some personal reason grew offended with an actor, or set of actors, a criticism would occasionally be hostile, and even severe. An editor, too, would
now and then suggest to his employer the policy of exercising a freer authority, and obtain influence enough with him to show symptoms of it. I believe
Mr. Bell’s editor, who was more clever, was also more impartial than most critics; though the publisher of the “British Theatre,” and patron of the “Della Cruscans,” must have been hampered with literary intimacies. The best chance for an editor, who wished to have any thing like an opinion of his own, was the appearance of a rival newspaper with a strong theatrical connexion. Influence was here threatened with diminution. It was to be held up on other grounds; and the critic was permitted to find out, that a bad play was not good, or an actress’s petticoat of the lawful dimensions.

Puffing and plenty of tickets were, however, the system of the day. It was an interchange of amenities over the dinner-table; a flattery of power on the one side, and puns on the other; and what the public took for a criticism on a play, was a draft upon the box-office, or reminiscences of last Thursday’s salmon and lobster-sauce.

Things are altered now. Editors of newspapers (with one or two scandalous exceptions, and they make a bullying show of independence) are of a higher and more independent order; and proprietors are wealthier, and leave their editors more to themselves. Tickets are accepted from the theatres; but it is upon an understanding that theatrical criticism of any sort is useful to both parties. At the time when the “News” was set up, there was no such thing, strictly speaking, as impartial newspaper criticism; there was hardly any criticism at all—I mean, any attempt at it, or articles of any length. The best critiques were to be found in weekly papers, because their corruption was of less importance. For the most part the etiquette was, to write as short and as favourable a paragraph on the new piece as could be; to say that Bannister was
“excellent,” and
Mrs. Jordan “charming;” to notice the “crowded house,” or invent it, if necessary; and to conclude by observing, that “the whole went off with éclat.” If a lord was in the boxes, he was noticed as well as the actors;—a thing never done now, except as a help to a minor theatre. Lords may sit by dozens in the boxes at Covent Garden, and an editor take no more notice of them than chorus-singers. For the rest, it was a critical religion in those times to admire Mr. Kemble; and at the period in question, Master Betty had appeared, and been hugged to the hearts of the town as the young Roscius.

We saw that independence in theatrical criticism would be a great novelty. We announced it, and nobody believed us:—we stuck to it, and the town believed every thing we said. The proprietors of the “News,” of whom I knew so little that I cannot recollect with certainty any one of them, very handsomely left me to myself. My retired and scholastic habits kept me so; and the pride of success confirmed my independence with regard to others. I was then in my twentieth year, an early period at that time for a writer. The usual exaggeration of report made me younger than I was; and after being a “young Roscius“ poetical, I was now looked upon as one critical. To know an actor personally, appeared to me a vice not to be thought of; and I would as lief have taken poison as accepted a ticket from the theatres. Good God! To think of the grand opinion I had of myself in those days, and what little reason I had for it! Not to accept the tickets was very proper, considering that I bestowed more blame than praise. There was also more good-nature than I supposed in not allowing myself to know any actors; but the vanity of my position had greater weight with me than any thing else, and I must have proved it to discerning eyes by the small quantity of information I brought to my task, and the ostentation with
which I produced it. I knew almost as little of the drama, as the young Roscius himself. Luckily I had the advantage of him in knowing how unfit he was for his office; and probably he thought me as much so, though he could not have argued upon it; for I was in the minority respecting his merits, and the balance just then trembling on the beam; the “News,” I believe, hastened the settlement of the question. I wish with all my heart we had let him alone, and he had got a little more money. However, he obtained enough to create him a provision for life. His position, which appeared so brilliant at first, had a remarkable cruelty in it. Most men begin life with struggles, and have their vanity sufficiently knocked about the head and shoulders, to make their kinder fortunes the more welcome. Mr. Betty had his sugar first, and his physic afterwards. He began life with a double childhood, with a new and extraordinary felicity added to the natural enjoyments of his age; and he lived to see it speedily come to nothing, and to be taken for an ordinary person. I am told that he acquiesces in his fate, and agrees that the town were mistaken. If so, he is no ordinary person still, and has as much right to our respect for his good sense, as he is declared on all hands to deserve it for his amiableness. I have an anecdote of him to both purposes, which exhibits him in a very agreeable light. A living writer, who, if he had been criticising in another what he did himself, would have attributed it to an overweening opinion of his good word, happened to be at a party where Mr. Betty was present; and in coming away, when they were all putting on their great coats, he thought fit to compliment the dethroned favourite of the town, by telling him that he recollected him in old times, and had been “much pleased with him.” Mr. Betty, who appears to have shown all the address which the other wanted, looked at his unlucky memorialist, as much as to say “You
don’t tell me so!” and then starting into a tragical attitude, exclaimed “Oh, memory! memory!”

I was right about Master Betty, and I am sorry for it; though the town was in fault, not he. I think I was right also about Mr. Kemble; but I have no regret upon that score. He flourished long enough after my attacks on his majestic dryness and deliberate nothings; and Mr. Kean would have taken the public by storm, whether they had been prepared for him or not:
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
Mr. Kemble faded before him, like a tragedy ghost. I never denied the merits which that actor possessed. He had the look of a Roman; made a very good ideal, though not a very real Coriolanus, for his pride was not sufficiently blunt and unaffected; and in parts that suited his natural deficiency, such as Penruddock and the Abbé de l’Epée, would have been altogether admirable and interesting, if you could have forgotten that their sensibility, in his hands, was not so much repressed, as wanting. He was no more to be compared to his sister, than stone is to flesh and blood. There was much of the pedagogue in him. He made a great fuss about trifles; was inflexible on a pedantic reading: in short, was rather a teacher of elocution than an actor; and not a good teacher, on that account. There was a merit in his idealism, as far as it went. He had, at least, faith in something classical and scholastic, and he made the town partake of it; but it was all on the surface—a hollow trophy: and I am persuaded, that he was a very dull person, and had no idea in his head but of a stage Roman, and the dignity he added to his profession.


But if I was right about Mr. Kemble, whose admirers I plagued enough, I was not equally so about the living dramatists, whom I plagued more. I laid all the deficiencies of the modern drama to their account, and treated them like a parcel of mischievous boys, of whom I was the schoolmaster and whipper-in. I forgot that it was I who was the boy, and that they knew twenty times more of the world than I did. Not that I mean to say their comedies were excellent, or that my commonplaces about the superior merits of Congreve and Sheridan were not well founded: but there was more talent in their “five-act farces” than I supposed; and I mistook, in great measure, the defect of the age,—its dearth of dramatic character,—for that of the writers who were to draw upon it. It is true, a great wit, by a laborious process, and the help of his acquirements, might extract a play or two from it, as was Sheridan’s own case; but there was a great deal of imitation even in Sheridan, and he was fain to help himself to a little originality out of the characters of his less formalized countrymen, his own included. It is remarkable, that the three most amusing dramatists of the last age, Sheridan, Goldsmith, and O’Keeffe, were all Irishmen, and all had characters of their own. Sheridan, after all, was Swift’s Sheridan come to life again in the person of his grandson, with the oratory of Thomas Sheridan, the father, superadded and brought to bear. Goldsmith, at a disadvantage in his breeding, but full of address with his pen, drew upon his own absurdities and mistakes, and filled his dramas with ludicrous perplexity. O’Keeffe was all for whim and impulse, but not without a good deal of conscience; and, accordingly, in his plays we have a sort of young and pastoral taste of life in the very midst of its sophistications. Animal spirits, quips and cranks, credulity, and good intention, are triumphant throughout, and make a delicious mixture. It is a great credit
to O’Keeffe, that he ran sometimes close upon the borders of the sentimental drama, and did it not only with impunity but advantage: but sprightliness and sincerity enable a man to do every thing with advantage. It is a pity that as much cannot be said of
Mr. Colman, who, after taking more license in his writings than any body, has become a Licenser ex officio, and seems inclined to license nothing but cant. When this writer got into the sentimental, he made a sad business of it, for he had no faith in sentiment. He mouthed and overdid it, as a man does when he is telling a lie. At a farce he was admirable; and remains so, whether writing or licensing. Morton seemed to take a colour from the writers all round him, especially from O’Keeffe and the sentimentalists. His sentiment was more in earnest than Mr. Colman’s, yet somehow not happy either. There was a gloom in it, and a smack of the Old Bailey. It was best when he put it in a shape of humour, as in the paternal and inextinguishable tailorism of Old Rapid in a Cure for the Heart-Ache. Young Rapid, who complains that his father “sleeps so slow,” is also a pleasant fellow and worthy of O’Keeffe. He is one of the numerous crop that sprang up from Wild Oats, but not in so natural a soil. The character of the modern drama at that time was singularly commercial; nothing but gentlemen in distress, and hard landlords, and generous interferers, and fathers who got a great deal of money, and sons who spent it. I remember the whole wit of Mr. H——’s play ran upon prices, bonds, and post-obits. You might know what the pit thought of their pound-notes by the ostentatious indifference with which the heroes of the pieces gave them away, and the admiration and pretended approval with which the spectators observed it. To make a present of a hundred pounds was as if a man had uprooted and given away an Egyptian pyramid.


Mr. Reynolds was not behindhand with his brother dramatists, in drawing upon the taste of the day for gains and distresses. It appears, by his Memoirs, that he had too much reason for so doing. He was perhaps the least ambitious, and the least vain, (whatever charges to the contrary his animal spirits might have brought on him,) of all the writers of that period. In complexional vivacity he certainly did not yield to any of them; his comedies, if they were fugitive, were genuine representations of fugitive manners, and went merrily to their death; and there is one of them, the “Dramatist,” founded upon something more lasting, which promises to remain in the collections, and deserves it: which is not a little to say of any writer. I never wish for a heartier laugh than I have enjoyed, since I grew wiser, not only in seeing, but in reading the vagaries of his dramatic hero, and his mystifications of “Old Scratch.” When I read the good-humoured Memoirs of this writer the other day, I felt quite ashamed of the ignorant and boyish way in which I used to sit in judgment upon his faults, without being aware of what was good in him; and my repentance was increased by the very proper manner in which he speaks of his critics, neither denying the truth of their charges in letter, nor admitting them altogether in spirit; in fact, showing that he knew very well what he was about, and that they, whatsoever they fancied to the contrary, did not. Mr. Reynolds, agreeably to his sense and good-humour, never said a word to his critics at the time. Mr. Thomas Dibdin, not quite so wise, wrote me a letter, which Incledon, I am told, remonstrated with him for sending, saying, it would do him no good with the “d— boy.” And he was right. I published it, with an answer; and only thought that I made dramatists “come bow to me.” Mr. Colman attacked me in a prologue, which by a curious chance Fawcett spoke
right in my teeth, the box I sat in happening to be directly opposite him. I laughed at the prologue; and only looked upon Mr. Colman as a great monkey, pelting me with nuts, which I ate. Attacks of this kind were little calculated to obtain their end with a youth who persuaded himself that he wrote for nothing but the public good; who mistook the impression which any body of moderate talents can make with a newspaper, for the result of something peculiarly his own; and who had just enough scholarship to despise the want of it, or what appeared to be the want of it, in others. I do not pretend to think that the criticisms in the “
News” had no merit at all. They showed an acquaintance with the style of Voltaire, Johnson, and others; were not unagreeably sprinkled with quotation; and, above all, were written with more care and attention than was customary with newspapers at that time. The pains I took to round a period with nothing in it, or to invent a simile that should appear offhand, would have done honour to better stuff. On looking over the articles the other day, for the first time perhaps these twenty years, I found them less absurd than I had imagined; and began to fear that, with all their mistakes, my improvement since had not been free from miscalculation. If so, God knows how I should have to criticise myself twenty years hence! But there is a time of life, at which we cannot well experience more, at least so as to draw any healthy and useful deductions from our experience: and when a man has come to this, he is as wise, after his fashion, as he ever will be. The world require neither the ill-informed confidence of youth, nor the worse diffidence or obstinacy of old age, to teach them; but a comparison of mutual experiences; enough wisdom for acknowledging, that we are none of us as wise or as happy as we might be; and a little more (which is the great point to arrive at) for
setting to work and trying if we cannot be otherwise. Methinks we have been beating blindly upon this point long enough, and might as well open our eyes to it.


At the beginning of the year 1808, my brother John and myself set up the weekly paper of the Examiner, in joint partnership. The spirit of the theatrical criticism continued the same as in the News, for several years; by which time reflection, and the society of better critics, had made me wiser. In politics I soon got interested, as a man; though I never could bear them, as a writer. It was against the grain that I was encouraged to begin them; and against the grain I ever afterwards sat down to write, except when the subject was of a very general description and I could introduce philosophy and the belles lettres. People accused me of conspiring with Cobbett and my gallant namesake, Henry Hunt; when the fact is, I never beheld either of them: so private a public man have I been. I went criminally late to my political article; gave a great deal of trouble to printers and newsmen, for which I am heartily sorry; and hastened back as fast as I could to my verses and books, among which I had scarcely a work upon politics. The progress of society has since deeply interested me, and I should do better now, because I have better learnt the value of time, and politics have taken with me a wider and kindlier aspect: but owing to a dispute of a very painful nature, in which every body thought himself in the right,
and was perhaps more or less in the wrong, I have long ceased to have any hand in the Examiner, and latterly to have any property in it. I shall therefore say nothing more of the paper, except that I was very much in earnest in all I wrote; that I was in a perpetual fluctuation, during the time, of gay spirits and wretched health, which conspired to make me a sensitive observer, and a very bad man of business; and that I think precisely as I did on all subjects when I last wrote in it:—with this difference,—that I am inclined to object to the circumstances that make the present state of society what it is, still more; and to individuals who are the creatures of those circumstances, not at all.

I proceed to the story of my imprisonment; which concerns others as well as myself, and contains some delineations of character; but as it has been told before in the same words, I shall print it with marks of quotation. I need not add, after what has been said at the close of the last paragraph, that the exordium would have been a little different now had it been newly written: but I let it stand, because it was written as conscientiously and with as free a spirit, as it would be written still. I no longer think I have a right to quarrel with individuals or their characters, any more than they have with one’s own; and besides objecting to the right or utility of the thing, I have observed that those are loudest against others, who can the least bear to have any thing said of themselves; which is a fault I am willing to value myself upon not being charged with. Enough remains, in all conscience, to oppose and object to, if we prefer our utility to our spleen; and quite enough to show we are independent, and not likely to be bribed.

“Some of my readers may remember that my brother and myself were sentenced to a two years’ imprisonment for a libel on the Prince Regent; I say, without hesitation, a libel; since the word means no more, now-a-
days, either for a man or against him, than its original signification of ‘a little book.’ Let those thank themselves that such is the case, who by their own confusion of terms and penalties, and their application of one and the same word to the lowest private scandal and the highest impulses of public spirit, have rendered honest men not ashamed of it. It is remarkable, that the same Whig Judge (
Lord Ellenborough) who had directed the Jury to find us innocent on a prior occasion, when we were indicted for saying that ‘of all Monarchs since the Revolution, the successor of George the Third (then reigning) would have the finest opportunity of becoming nobly popular,’ had now the task of giving them a very different intimation, because we thought that the Regent had not acted up to his opportunities. I was provoked to write the libel by the interest I took in the disappointments of the Irish nation, which had very particular claims on the promises of his Royal Highness; but what, perhaps, embittered it most in the palate of that illustrious Personage, was its contradiction of an awkward panegyric which had just appeared on him from the pen of some foolish person in the ‘Morning Post,’ calling him, at his time of life, a charmer of all hearts and an Adonis of loveliness. At another time, I should have laughed at this in a rhyme or two, and remained free; the courts of law having a judicious instinct against the reading of merry rhymes; but the two things coming together, and the Irish venting their spleen pretty stoutly over their wine at the dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, (indeed they could not well be more explicit, for they groaned and hissed when his name was mentioned,) I wrote an attack equally grave and vehement, and such as every body said would be prosecuted. Little did I foresee, that, in the course of a few years, this same people, the Irish, would burst into an enthusiasm of joy and confidence, merely because the illustrious Personage
paid them a visit! I will not say they were rightly served, in finding that nothing came of it, for I do not think so; especially as we are not bound to take the inhabitants of a metropolis as representatives of the wretched millions in other parts of the country, who have since been in worse state than before. But this I may be allowed to say, that if ever I regretted having gone to prison in their behalf, it was then and then only.

“Between the verdict and the passing of sentence, a circumstance occurred, not of so singular a nature, perhaps, as it may seem. We were given to understand, through the medium of a third person, but in a manner emphatically serious and potential, that if we would abstain in future from commenting upon the actions of the royal Personage, means would be found to prevent our going to prison. The same offer was afterwards repeated, as far as the payment of a fine was concerned, upon our going thither. I need not add, that we declined both. We do not mean to affirm, that these offers came directly or indirectly from the quarter in which they might be supposed to originate; but we know the immediate quarter from which they did come; and this we may affirm, that of all the ‘two hundred and fifty particular friends,’ who dined on one occasion at Carlton House, and delighted the public with that amazing record of attachment, his Royal Highness had not one more zealous or liberal in his behalf.

“The expectation of a prison was in one respect very formidable to me; for I had been a long time in a bad state of health; and when notice was given that we were to be brought up for judgment, I had just been advised by the physician to take exercise every day on horseback, and go down to the sea-side. I was resolved, however, to do no disgrace either to the courage which I really possessed, or
to an example which I can better speak of in any other place than this.
I accordingly put my countenance in its best trim: I made a point of wearing my best apparel; put on my new hat and gloves, and descended into the legal arena to be sentenced gallantly. As an instance of the imagination which I am accustomed to mingle with every thing, I was at that time reading a little work, to which Milton is indebted, the Comus of Erycius Puteanus; and this, which is a satire on ‘Bacchuses and their revellers,’ I pleased myself with having in my pocket. It is necessary, on passing sentence for a libel, to read over again the words that composed it. This was the business of Lord Ellenborough, who baffled the attentive audience in a very ingenious manner by affecting every instant to hear a noise, and calling upon the Officers of the Court to prevent it. Mr. Garrow, the Attorney-General, (who had succeeded Sir Vicary Gibbs at a very cruel moment, for the indictment had been brought by that irritable person, and was the first against us which took effect,) behaved to us with a politeness that was considered extraordinary. Not so Mr. Justice Grose, who delivered the sentence. To be didactic and old womanish belonged to his office; but to lecture us on pandering to the public appetite for scandal, was what we could not so easily bear. My brother, as I had been the writer, expected me, perhaps, to be the spokesman; and speak I certainly should have done, had not I been prevented by the dread of a hesitation in my speech, to which I had been subject when a boy, and the fear of which (perhaps idly, for I hesitate least among strangers, and very rarely at all) has been the main cause, I believe, that I have appeared and acted in public less than any other public man. There is reason to think, that Lord Ellenborough was still less easy than ourselves. He knew that we were acquainted with his visits to Carlton-house and Brighton, (sympathies not eminently decent in a Judge,) and
the good things he had obtained for his kinsmen, and we could not help preferring our feelings at the moment to those which induced him to keep his eyes fixed on his papers, which he did almost the whole time of our being in Court, never turning them once to the place on which we stood. There were divers points besides those, on which he had some reason to fear that we might choose to return the lecture of the Bench. He did not even look at us, when he asked, in the course of his duty, whether it was our wish to make any remarks. I answered, that we did not wish to make any there, and Sir Nash proceeded to pass sentence. At the sound of two years’ imprisonment in separate jails, my brother and myself instinctively pressed each other’s arm. It was a heavy blow: but the pressure that acknowledged it, encouraged the resolution to bear it; and I do not believe either of us interchanged a word afterwards on the subject.

“We parted in hackney-coaches for our respective abodes, accompanied by two tipstaves apiece. I cannot help smiling to think of a third person whom I had with me, when I contrast his then situation with his present: but he need not be alarmed. I will not do him the injustice either of hurting or recommending him by the mention of his name. He was one of the best-natured fellows in the world, and I dare say he is so still; but, as Strap says, ‘Non omnia possumus omnes.’

The tipstaves prepared me for a singular character in my jailer. His name was Ives. I was told he was a very self-willed personage, not the more accommodating for being in a bad state of health, and that he called every body Mister. ‘In short,’ said one of the tipstaves, ‘he is one as may be led, but he’ll never be druv.

The sight of the prison-gate and the high wall was a dreary business. I thought of my horseback and the downs of Brighton; but congratulated myself, at all events, that I had come thither with a good consci-
ence. After waiting in the prison-yard as long as if it had been the antiroom of a minister, I was at length ushered into the presence of the great man. He was in his parlour, which was decently furnished, and had a basin of broth before him, which he quitted on my appearance, and rose with much solemnity to meet me. He seemed about fifty years of age; had a white night-cap on, as if he was going to be hung; and a great red face, which looked ready to burst with blood. Indeed, he was not allowed by his physician to speak in a tone above a whisper. The first thing he said was, ‘Mister, I’d ha’ given a matter of a hundred pounds, that you had not come to this place—a hundred pounds!’ The emphasis which he laid on the word ‘hundred’ was enormous. I forget what I answered. I endeavoured, as usual, to make the best of things; but he recurred over and over again to the hundred pounds; and said he wondered, for his part, what the Government meant by sending me there, for the prison was not a prison fit for a gentleman, He often repeated this opinion afterwards, adding, with a peculiar nod of his head, ‘and Mister, they knows it.’ I said, that if a gentleman deserved to be sent to prison, he ought not to be treated with a greater nicety than any one else: upon which he corrected me, observing very properly, (though, as the phrase is, it was one word for the gentleman and two for his own apartments,) that a person who had been used to a better mode of lodging and living than ‘low people,’ was not treated with the same justice, if forced to live exactly as they did. I told him his observation was very true; which gave him a favourable opinion of my understanding: for I had many occasions of remarking, that, abstractedly considered, he looked upon nobody whomsoever as his superior, speaking even of the members of the Royal Family as persons whom he knew very well, and estimated no more than became him.
One Royal Duke had lunched in his parlour, and another he had laid under some polite obligation. ‘They knows me,’ said he, ‘very well, Mister; and, Mister, I knows them.’ This concluding sentence he uttered with great particularity and precision. He was not proof, however, against a Greek Pindar, which he happened to light upon one day among my books. Its unintelligible character gave him a notion that he had got somebody to deal with, who might really know something which he did not. Perhaps the gilt leaves and red morocco binding had their share in the magic. The upshot was, that he always showed himself anxious to appear well with me, as a clever fellow, treating me with great civility on all occasions but one, when I made him very angry by disappointing him in a money amount. The Pindar was a mystery that staggered him. I remember very well, that giving me a long account one day of something connected with his business, he happened to catch with his eye the shelf that contained it, and whether he saw it or not, abruptly finished by observing, ‘But, Mister, you knows all these things as well as I do.’ Upon the whole, my new acquaintance was as strange a person as I ever met with. A total want of education, together with a certain vulgar acuteness, conspired to render him insolent and pedantic. Disease sharpened his tendency to violent fits of passion, which threatened to suffocate him; and then in his intervals of better health, he would issue forth, with his cock-up-nose and his hat on one side, as great a fop as a jockey. I remember his coming to my rooms, about the middle of my imprisonment, as if on purpose to insult over my ill health with the contrast of his own convalescence, putting his arms in a gay manner a-kimbo, and telling me I should never live to go out, whereas he was riding about as stout as ever, and had just been in the country. He died before I left prison. The word jail, in deference to the way in
which it is sometimes spelt, he called gole; and
Mr. Brougham he always spoke of as Mr. Bruffam. He one day apologized for this mode of pronunciation, or rather gave a specimen of his vanity and self-will, which will show the reader at once the high notions a jailer may entertain of himself: ‘I find,’ said he, ‘that they calls him Broom; but, Mister,’ (assuming a look from which there was to be no appeal,) ‘I calls him Bruffam!

“Finding that my host did not think the prison fit for me, I asked if he would let me have an apartment in his house. He pronounced it impossible; which was a trick to enhance the price. I could not make an offer to please him; and he stood out so long, and, as he thought, so cunningly, that he subsequently overreached himself by his trickery; as the readers will see. His object was to keep me among the prisoners, till he could at once sicken me of the place, and get the permission of the magistrates to receive me into his house; which was a thing he reckoned upon as a certainty. He thus hoped to secure himself in all quarters; for his vanity was almost as strong as his avarice; he was equally fond of getting money in private, and of the approbation of the great men he had to deal with in public; and it so happened, that there had been no prisoner, above the poorest condition, before my arrival, with the exception of Colonel Despard. From abusing the prison, he then suddenly fell to speaking well of it, or rather of the room occupied by the Colonel; and said that another corresponding with it would make me a capital apartment. ‘To be sure,’ said he, ‘there is nothing but bare walls, and I have no bed to put in it.’ I replied, that of course I should not be hindered from having my own bed from home. He said, ‘No; and if it rains,’ observed he, ‘you have only to put up with want of light for a time.’ ‘What!’
exclaimed I, ‘are there no windows?’ ‘Windows, Mister!’ cried he; ‘no windows in a prison of this sort; no glass, Mister; but excellent shutters.

“It was finally agreed, that I should sleep for a night or two in a garret of the jailer’s house, till my bed could be got ready in the prison and the windows glazed. A dreary evening followed, which, however, let me completely into the man’s character, and showed him in a variety of lights, some ludicrous and others as melancholy. There was a full-length portrait, in the room, of a little girl, dizened out in her best. This, he told me, was his daughter, whom he had disinherited for disobedience. I tried to suggest a few reflections to him, capable of doing her service; but disobedience, I found, was an offence doubly irritating to his nature, on account of his sovereign habits as a jailer; and seeing his irritability likely to inflame the plethora of his countenance, I desisted. Though not allowed to speak above a whisper, he was extremely willing to talk; but at an early hour I pleaded my own state of health, and retired to bed.

“On taking possession of my garret, I was treated with a piece of delicacy, which I never should have thought of finding in a prison. When I first entered its walls, I had been received by the under-jailer, a man who appeared an epitome of all that was forbidding in his office. He was short and very thick, had a hook nose, a great severe countenance, and a bunch of keys hanging on his arm. A friend once stopped short at sight of him, and said, in a melancholy tone, ‘And this is the jailer!’ Honest old Cave! thine outside would have been unworthy of thee, if upon farther acquaintance I had not found it a very hearty outside,—ay, and, in my eyes, a very good-looking one, and as fit to contain the milk of human kindness that was in thee, as the husk of a
cocoa. Was, did I say? I hope it is in thee still; I hope thou art alive to read this paper, and to perform, as usual, a hundred kind offices, as exquisite in their way as they are desirable and unlooked for. To finish at once the character of this man,—I could never prevail on him to accept any acknowledgment of his kindness, greater than a set of tea-things, and a piece or two of old furniture which I could not well carry away. I had indeed the pleasure of leaving him in possession of a room I had papered; but this was a thing unexpected, and which neither of us had supposed could be done. Had I been a Prince, I would have forced on him a pension. Being a journalist, I made him accept an
Examiner weekly, which, I trust, he still lives to relish his Sunday pipe with.

“This man, in the interval between my arrival and introduction to the head jailer, had found means to give me farther information respecting my new condition, and to express the interest he took in it. I thought little of his offers at the time. He behaved with the greatest air of deference to his principal; moving as fast as his body would allow him, to execute his least intimation; and holding the candle to him while he read, with an obsequious zeal. But he had spoken to his wife about me, and his wife I found to be as great a curiosity as himself. Both were more like the romantic jailers drawn in some of our modern plays, than real Horsemonger-lane palpabilities. The wife, in her person, was as light and fragile as the husband was sturdy. She had the nerves of a fine lady, and yet went through the most unpleasant duties with the patience of a martyr. Her voice and look seemed to plead for a softness like their own, as if a loud reply would have shattered her. Ill health had made her a Methodist, but this did not hinder her sympathy with an invalid who was none, or her love for her husband, who was as little
of a saint as need be. Upon the whole, such an extraordinary couple, so apparently unsuitable, and yet so fitted for one another; so apparently vulgar on one side, and yet so naturally delicate on both; so misplaced in their situation, and yet for the good of others so admirably put there, I have never met with, before or since.

It was the business of this woman to lock me up in my garret; but she did it so softly the first night, that I knew nothing of the matter. The night following, I thought I heard a gentle tampering with the lock. I tried it, and found it fastened. She heard me as she was going downstairs, and said the next day, “Ah, Sir, I thought I should have turned the key, so as for you not to hear it; but I found you did.” The whole conduct of this couple towards us, from first to last, was of a piece with this singular delicacy.

“My bed was shortly put up, and I slept in my new room. It was on an upper story, and stood in a corner of the quadrangle, on the right hand as you enter the prison-gate. The windows (which had now been accommodated with glass, in addition to their “excellent shutters”) were high up, and barred; but the room was large and airy, and there was a fireplace. It was designed for a common room for the prisoners on that story; but the cells were then empty. The cells were ranged on either side of the arcade, of which the story is formed, and the room opened at the end of it. At night-time the door was locked; then another on the top of the staircase, then another on the middle of the staircase, then a fourth at the bottom, a fifth that shut up the little yard belonging to that quarter, and how many more, before you got out of the gates, I forget: but I do not exaggerate when I say there were at least ten or eleven. The first night I slept there, I listened to them, one after the other, till the weaker part of my
heart died within me. Every fresh turning of the key seemed a malignant insult to my love of liberty. I was alone, and away from my family; I, who have never slept from home above a dozen times in my life, and then only from necessity. Furthermore, the reader will bear in mind that I was ill. With a great flow of natural spirits, I was subject to fits of nervousness, which had latterly taken a more continued shape. I felt one of them coming on, and having learned to anticipate and break the force of it by sudden exercise, I took a stout walk of I dare say fourteen or fifteen miles, by pacing backwards and forwards for the space of three hours. This threw me into a state in which rest, for rest’s sake, became pleasant. I got hastily into bed, and slept without a dream till morning. By the way, I never dreamt of prison but twice all the time I was there, and my dream was the same on both occasions.

“It was on the second day of my imprisonment that I saw my wife, who could not come to me before. To say that she never reproached me for these and the like taxes upon our family prospects, is to say little. A world of comfort for me was in her face. There is a note in the fifth volume of my Spenser, which I was then reading, in these words:—February 4th, 1813.’ The line to which it refers is this:—
‘Much dearer be the things, which come through hard distresse.’

“I now applied to the magistrates for permission to have my wife and children with me, which was granted. Not so my request to move into the jailer’s house. Mr. Holme Sumner, on occasion of a petition from a subsequent prisoner, told the House of Commons, that my room had a view over the Surrey hills, and that I was very well content with it. I could not feel obliged to him for this postliminious piece of enjoy-
ment, especially when I remembered that Mr. Holme Sumner had done all in his power to prevent my removal out of the room, precisely (as it appeared to us) because it looked upon nothing but the felons, and because I was not contented. In fact, you could not see out of the windows at all, without getting on a chair; and then, all that you saw was the miserable men, whose chains had been clanking from daylight. The perpetual sound of these chains wore upon my spirits, in a manner to which my state of health allowed me reasonably to object. The yard also in which I exercised was very small. The jailer proposed that I should be allowed to occupy apartments in his house, and walk occasionally in the prison garden; adding, that I should certainly die if I had not; and his opinion was seconded by that of the medical man. Mine host was sincere in this, if in nothing else. Telling us, one day, how warmly he had put it to the magistrates, and insisted that I should not survive, he turned round upon me, and, to the Doctor’s astonishment, added, ‘nor, Mister, will you.’ I believe it was the opinion of many; but Mr. Holme Sumner argued, perhaps, from his own sensations, which were sufficiently iron. Perhaps he concluded also, like a proper ministerialist, that if I did not think fit to flatter the magistrates a little, and play the courtier, my wants could not be very great. At all events, he came up one day with the rest of them, and after bowing as well as he could to my wife, and piteously pinching the cheek of an infant in her arms, went down and did all he could to prevent our being comfortably situated.

The Doctor then proposed that I should be removed into the prison infirmary; and this proposal was granted. Infirmary had, I confess, an awkward sound even to my ears. I fancied a room shared with other sick persons, not the best fitted for companions; but the good-natured
doctor (his name was Dixon) undeceived me.* The infirmary was divided into four wards, with as many small rooms attached to them. The two upper wards were occupied, but the two on the ground floor had never been used: and one of these, not very providently (for I had not yet learned to think of money) I turned into a noble room.
I papered the walls with a trellis of roses; I had the ceiling coloured with clouds and sky; the barred windows were screened with Venetian blinds; and when my bookcases were set up with their busts, and flowers and a pianoforte made their appearance, perhaps there was not a handsomer room on that side the water. I took a pleasure, when a stranger knocked at the door, to see him come in and stare about him. The surprise on issuing from the Borough, and passing through the avenues of a jail, was dramatic. Charles Lamb declared there was no other such room except in a fairy tale.

“But I had another surprise; which was a garden. There was a little yard outside, the room, railed off from another belonging to the neighbouring ward. This yard I shut in with green palings, adorned it with a trellis, bordered it with a thick bed of earth from a nursery, and even contrived to have a grass-plot. The earth I filled with flowers and young trees. There was an apple-tree, from which we managed to get a pudding the second year. As to my flowers, they were allowed to be perfect. A poet from Derbyshire† told me he had seen no such heart’s-ease. I bought the ‘Parnaso Italiano’ while in prison, and used often to think of a passage in it, while looking at this miniature piece of horticulture:—

* I may venture to speak of him with this grateful epithet, for I verily believe he thought me dying, and he never interchanged a word with me except on the matter in question.

Thomas Moore; with whom and Lord Byron I was too angry, when I wrote this article, to mention them as visitors of me by name.

————————Mio picciol orto,
A me sei vigna, e campo, e selva, e prato.—Baldi.
————————My little garden,
To me thou ’rt vineyard, field, and meadow, and wood.
Here I wrote and read in fine weather, sometimes under an awning. In autumn, my trellises were hung with scarlet runners, which added to the flowery investment. I used to shut my eyes in my arm-chair, and affect to think myself hundreds of miles off. But my triumph was in issuing forth of a morning. A wicket out of the garden led into the large one belonging to the prison. The latter was only for vegetables; but it contained a cherry-tree, which I saw twice in blossom.   ***

* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *

“I entered prison the third of February, and removed to my new apartments the 16th of March, happy to get out of the noise of the chains. When I sat amidst my books, and saw the imaginary sky overhead and my paper roses about me, I drank in the quiet at my ears, as if they were thirsty. The little room was my bed-room. I afterwards made the two rooms change characters, when my wife lay in. Permission for her continuance with me at that period was easily obtained of the Magistrates, among whom a new-comer made his appearance. This was another good-natured man—the late Earl of Rothes, then Lord Leslie. He heard me with kindness; and his actions did not belie his countenance. The only girl I have among seven children was born in prison.* I cannot help blessing her when I speak of it. Never shall I forget my sensations: for I was obliged to play the physician

* The reader will be good enough to bear in mind, that this account of my imprisonment is quoted from another publication. I have now eight children, three of whom are girls.

myself, the hour having taken us by surprise. But her mother found many unexpected comforts; and during the whole time she was in bed, which happened to be in very fine weather, the garden door was set open, and she looked upon the trees and flowers. A thousand recollections rise within me at every fresh period of my imprisonment, such as I cannot trust myself with dwelling upon.

“These rooms, and the visits of my friends, were the bright side of my captivity. I read verses without end, and wrote almost as many. I had also the pleasure of hearing that my brother had found comfortable rooms in Coldbath-fields, and a host who really deserved that name as much as a jailer could. The first year of my imprisonment was a long pull up-hill; but never was metaphor so literally verified, as by the sensation at the turning of the second. In the first year, all the prospect was that of the one coming: in the second, the days began to be scored off, like those of children at school preparing for a holiday. When I was fairly settled in my new apartments, the jailer (I beg pardon of his injured spirit—I ought to have called him Governor) could hardly express his spleen at my having escaped his clutches, his astonishment was so great. Besides, though I treated him handsomely, he had a little lurking fear of the Examiner upon him; so he contented himself with getting as much out of me as he could, and boasting of the grand room which he would very willingly have prevented my enjoying. My friends were allowed to be with me till ten o’clock at night, when the under-turnkey, a young man, with his lantern, and much ambitious gentility of deportment, came to see them out. I believe we scattered an urbanity about the prison, till then unknown. Even W. H. (Mr. Hazlitt, who there first did me the pleasure of a visit) would stand interchanging amenities at the threshold, which I had great difficulty in
making him pass. I know not which kept his hat off with the greater pertinacity of deference, I to the diffident cutter-up of Dukes and Kings, or he to the amazing prisoner and invalid who issued out of a bower of roses. There came T. B. (my old friend and schoolfellow,
Barnes,) who always reminds me of Fielding. It was he that introduced me to A. (Alsager) the kindest of neighbours, a man of business, who contrived to be a scholar and a musician. He loved his leisure, and yet would start up at a moment’s notice to do the least of a prisoner’s biddings. Other friends are dead since that time, and others gone. I have tears for the kindest of them; and the mistaken shall not be reproached, if I can help it. But what return can I make to the L’s (Lambs), who came to comfort me in all weathers, hail or sunshine, in daylight or in darkness, even in the dreadful frost and snow of the beginning of 1814? I am always afraid of talking about them, lest my tropical temperament should seem to render me too florid. What shall I say to Dr. G. one of the most liberal of a generous profession, who used to come so many times into that out-of-the-way world to do me good? Great disappointment, and exceeding viciousness, may talk as they please of the badness of human nature; for my part, I am on the verge of forty, and I have seen a good deal of the world, the dark side as well as the light, and I say that human nature is a very good and kindly thing, and capable of all sorts of excellence. Art thou not a refutation of all that can be said against it, excellent Sir John Swinburne? another friend whom I made in prison, and whose image, now before my imagination, fills my whole frame with emotion. I could kneel before him and bring his hand upon my head, like a son asking his father’s blessing. It was during my imprisonment that another S. (Mr. Shelley) afterwards my friend of friends, now no more, made me a princely offer, which at
that time I stood in no need of. I will take this opportunity of mentioning, that some other persons, not at all known to us, offered to raise money enough to pay the fine of £1000. We declined it, with proper thanks; and it became us to do so. But, as far as my own feelings were concerned, I have no merit; for I was destitute, at that time, of even a proper instinct with regard to money. It was not long afterwards that I was forced to call upon friendship for its assistance; and nobly was it afforded me! Why must I not say every thing upon this subject, showing my improvidence for a lesson, and their generosity for a comfort to mankind?*—To some other friends, near and dear, I may not even return thanks in this place for a thousand nameless attentions, which they make it a business of their existence to bestow on those they love. I might as soon thank my own heart. Their names are trembling on my pen, as that is beating at the recollection. But one or two others, whom I have not seen for years, and who by some possibility (if indeed they ever think it worth their while to fancy any thing on the subject) might suppose themselves forgotten, I may be suffered to remind of the pleasure they gave me. A third S. (M. S. who afterwards saw us so often near London) is now, I hope, enjoying the tranquillity he so richly deserves; and so, I trust, is a fourth, C. S. whose face, or rather something like it (for it was not easy to match her own), I am continually meeting with in the country of her ancestors. Her veil, and her baskets of flowers, used to come through the portal, like light.

“I must not omit the honour of a visit from the venerable Mr. Bentham, who is justly said to unite the wisdom of a sage with the simplicity of a child. He found me playing at battledore, in which he took a part, and with his usual eye towards improvement, suggested an amendment in the constitution of shuttle-cocks. I remember the surprise of

* I have since said it, in this book.

the Governor at his local knowledge and vivacity. ‘Why, Mister,’ said he, ‘his eye is everywhere at once.’

“It was intimated to me that Mr. Southey intended to pay me a visit. I showed a proper curiosity to see the writer who had helped to influence my opinions in favour of liberty; but, in the mean time, there was a report that he was to be Poet Laureat. I contradicted this report in the Examiner with some warmth. Unluckily, Mr. Southey had accepted the office the day before; and the consequence was, he never made his appearance. At this period he did me the honour to compare me with Camille Desmoulins. He has since favoured me with sundry lectures and cuttings-up for adhering to his own doctrine. They say he is not sorry. I am sure I am not; and there is an end of the matter. (Little T. L. H. is his humble servant, but cannot conceive how he has incurred his commiseration).

“All these comforts were embittered by unceasing ill health, and by certain melancholy reveries, which the nature of the place did not help to diminish. During the first six weeks, the sound of the felons’ chains, mixed with what I always took for horrid execrations or despairing laughter, was never out of my ears. When I went into the Infirmary, which stood by itself between the inner jail and the prison walls, gallowses were occasionally put in order by the side of my windows, and afterwards set up over the prison gates, where they were still visible. The keeper one day, with an air of mystery, took me into the upper ward, for the purpose, he said, of gratifying me with a view of the country from the roof. Something prevented his showing me this; but the spectacle he did show me I shall never forget. It was a stout country girl, sitting in an absorbed manner, her eyes fixed on the fire. She was handsome, and had a little hectic spot in either cheek, the effect of some gnawing emotion. He told me, in a whisper, that she was there
for the murder of her bastard child. I could have knocked the fellow down for his unfeelingness in making a show of her: but, after all, she did not see us. She heeded us not. There was no object before her, but what produced the spot in her cheek. The gallows, on which she was executed, must have been brought out within her hearing;—but perhaps she heard that as little. To relieve the reader, I will give him another instance of the delicacy of my friend the under-jailer. He always used to carry up her food to the poor girl himself; because, as he said, he did not think it a fit task for younger men. This was a melancholy case. In general, the crimes were not of such a staggering description, nor did the criminals appear to take their situation to heart. I found by degrees, that fortune showed fairer play than I had supposed to all classes of men, and that those who seemed to have most reason to be miserable, were not always so. Their criminality was generally proportioned to their want of thought. My friend Cave, who had become a philosopher by the force of his situation, said to me one day, when a new batch of criminals came in, ‘Poor ignorant wretches, Sir!’ At evening, when they went to bed, I used to stand in the prison garden, listening to the cheerful songs with which the felons entertained one another. The beaters of hemp were a still merrier race. Doubtless the good hours and simple fare of the prison contributed to make the blood of its inmates run better, particularly those who were forced to take exercise. At last, I used to pity the debtors more than the criminals; yet even the debtors had their gay parties and jolly songs. Many a time (for they were my neighbours) have I heard them roar out the old ballad in
Beaumont and Fletcher:—
‘He that drinks and goes to bed sober,
Falls, as the leaves do, and dies in October.’
To say the truth, there was an obstreperousness in their mirth, that
looked more melancholy than the thoughtlessness of the lighter-feeding felons.

On the 3d of February, 1815, I was free. When my family, the preceding summer, had been obliged to go down to Brighton for their health, I felt ready to dash my head against the wall, at not being able to follow them. I would sometimes sit in my chair, with this thought upon me, till the agony of my impatience burst out at every pore. I would not speak of it, if it did not enable me to show how this kind of suffering may be borne, and in what sort of way it terminates. All fits of nervousness ought to be anticipated as much as possible with exercise. Indeed, a proper healthy mode of life would save most people from these effeminate ills, and most likely restore even those who inherit them.—It was now thought that I should dart out of my cage like a bird, and feel no end in the delight of ranging. Bat partly from ill-health, and partly from habit, the day of my liberation brought a good deal of pain with it. An illness of a long standing, which required very different treatment, had by this time been burnt in upon me by the iron that enters into the soul of the captive, wrap it in flowers as he may; and I am ashamed to say, that after stopping a little at the house of my friend A., I had not the courage to continue looking at the shoals of people passing to and fro, as the coach drove up the Strand. The whole business of life appeared to me a hideous impertinence. The first pleasant sensation I experienced was when the coach turned into the New-road, and I beheld the old hills of my affection standing where they used to do, and breathing me a welcome.

“It was very slowly that I recovered any thing like a sensation of health. The bitterest evil I suffered was in consequence of having been confined so long in one spot. The habit stuck to me, on my return home, in a very extraordinary manner, and made, I fear, some of my
friends think me ungrateful. They did me an injustice; but it was not their fault; nor could I wish them the bitter experience which alone makes us acquainted with the existence of strange things. This weakness I outlived; but I have never properly recovered the general shock given my constitution. My natural spirits, however, have always struggled hard to see me reasonably treated. Many things give me exquisite pleasure, which seem to affect other men but in a very minor degree; and I enjoyed, after all, such happy moments with my friends, even in prison, that in the midst of the beautiful climate in which I am now writing,* I am sometimes in doubt whether I would not rather be there than here.”

On leaving prison, I published the Story of Rimini, and became a worse newspaper man than before. Ill health prevented my attending the theatres and writing the theatrical articles; and at length, instead of throwing into the Examiner what forces remained to me, in some new shape, (as I ought to have enabled myself to do,) I was impelled by necessity to publish a small weekly paper, on the plan of the periodical essayists. From this (though it sold very well for a publication which no pains were taken to circulate) I reaped more honour than profit; and the Indicator (I fear) is the best of my works:—so hard is it for one who has grown up in the hope of being a poet, to confess that the best things he has done have been in prose. The popularity of that work, however, evinced by the use made of it in others, and, above all, the good opinion expressed of it by such men as Mr. Lamb and Mr. Hazlitt, have long served to reconcile me to this discovery. I have more than consoled myself by thinking that it is not impossible it may be found some day or other in the train of a body of writers, among whom I am “proud to be less:” and it has enabled me perhaps to come

* This account was written in Italy.

to a true estimate of my station as an author, which I take to be somewhere between the prose of those town-writers and the enthusiasm of the old poets; not, indeed, with any thing like an approach to the latter, except in my love of them; nor with any pretence to know half as much of wit and the town as the former did; but not altogether unoriginal in a combination of the love of both, nor in the mixed colours of fancy and familiarity which it has enabled me to throw over some of the commonplaces of life. But enough of this attempt at a self-estimate, always perhaps difficult, and, at any rate, sure to be disputed. There are things I care more for in the world than myself, let me be thought of as I may. So I proceed to new adventures.


The reader has seen what it was that induced me to take a voyage to Italy. It was not very discreet to go many hundred miles by sea in winter-time with a large family; but a voyage was thought cheaper than a journey by land. Even that, however, was a mistake. It was by Shelley’s advice that I acted: and, I believe, if he had recommended a balloon, I should have been inclined to try it. “Put your music and your books on board a vessel,” (it was thus that he wrote to us,) “and you will have no more trouble.” The sea was to him a pastime; he fancied us bounding over the waters, the merrier for being tossed; and thought that our will would carry us through any thing, as it ought to do, seeing that we brought with us nothing but good things,—books, music, and sociality. It is true, he looked to our coming in autumn, and not in winter; and so we should have done, but for the delays
of the captain. We engaged to embark in September, and did not set off till November the 16th.

I have often thought that a sea-voyage, which is generally the dullest thing in the world, both in the experiment and the description, might be turned to very different account on paper, if the narrators, instead of imitating the dulness of their predecessors, and recording that it was four o’clock p.m. when they passed Cape St. Vincent, and that on such and such-a-day they beheld a porpus or a Dutchman, would look into the interior of the floating-house they inhabited, and tell us about the seamen and their modes of living; what adventures they have had,—their characters and opinions,—how they eat, drink, and sleep, &c.; what they do in fine weather, and how they endure the sharpness, the squalidness, and inconceivable misery of bad. With a large family around me to occupy my mind, I did not think of this till too late: but I am sure that this mode of treating the subject would be interesting; and what I remember to such purpose, I will set down.

Our vessel was a small brig of a hundred and twenty tons burden, a good tight sea-boat, nothing more. Its cargo consisted of sugar; but it took in also a surreptitious stock of gunpowder, to the amount of fifty barrels, which was destined for Greece. Of this intention we knew nothing, till the barrels were sent on board from a place up the river; otherwise, so touchy a companion would have been objected to, my wife, who was in a shattered state of health, never ceasing to entertain apprehensions on account of it, except when the storms that came upon us presented a more obvious peril. There were nine men to the crew, including the mate. We numbered as many souls, though with smaller bodies, in the cabin, which we had entirely to ourselves; as well we might, for it was small enough. On the afternoon of the 15th of November (1821),
we took leave of some dear friends, who accompanied us on board; and next morning were awakened by the motion of the vessel, making its way through the shipping in the river. The new life in which we thus, as it were, found ourselves enclosed, the clanking of iron, and the cheerly cries of the seamen, together with the natural vivacity of the time of day, presented something animating to our feelings; but while we thus moved off, not without encouragement, we felt that the friend whom we were going to see was at a great distance, while others were very near, whose hands it would be a long while before we should touch again, perhaps never. We hastened to get up and busy ourselves; and great as well as small found a novel diversion in the spectacle that presented itself from the deck, our vessel threading its way through the others with gliding bulk.

The next day it blew strong from the South-east, and even in the river (the navigation of which is not easy) we had a foretaste of the alarms and bad weather that awaited us at sea. The pilot, whom we had taken in over-night, (and who was a jovial fellow with a whistle like a blackbird, which, in spite of the dislike that sailors have to whistling, he was always indulging,) thought it prudent to remain at anchor till two in the afternoon; and at six, a vessel meeting us carried away the jib-boom, and broke in one of the bulwarks. My wife, who had had a respite from the most alarming part of her illness, and whom it was supposed that a sea-voyage, even in winter, might benefit, again expectorated blood with the fright; and I began to regret that I had brought my family into this trouble.—Even in the river we had a foretaste of the sea; and the curse of being at sea to a landman is, that you know nothing of what is going forward, and can take no active part in getting rid of your fears, or in “lending a hand.” The business of these small
vessels is not carried on with the orderliness and tranquillity of greater ones, or of men-of-war. The crew are not very wise; the captain does not know how to make them so; the storm roars; the vessel pitches and reels; the captain, over your head, stamps and swears, and announces all sorts of catastrophes. Think of a family hearing all this, and parents in alarm for their children!

On Monday, the 19th, we passed the Nore, and proceeded down Channel amidst rains and squalls. We were now out at sea; and a rough taste we had of it. I had been three times in the Channel before, once in hard weather; but I was then a bachelor, and had only myself to think of. Let the reader picture to his imagination the little back-parlour of one of the shops in Fleet-street, or the Strand, attached or let into a great moving vehicle, and tumbling about the waves from side to side, now sending all the things that are loose, this way, and now that. This will give him an idea of a cabin at sea, such as we occupied. It had a table fastened down in the middle; places let into the walls on each side, one over the other, to hold beds; a short, wide, sloping window, carried off over a bulk, and looking out to sea; a bench, or locker, running under the bulk from one side of the cabin to the other; and a little fireplace opposite, in which it was impossible to keep a fire on account of the wind. The weather, at the same time, was bitterly cold, as well as wet. On one side the fireplace was the door, and on the other a door leading into a petty closet dignified with the title of the state-room. In this room we put our servant, the captain sleeping in another closet outside. The births were occupied by the children, and my wife and myself lay, as long as we could manage to do so, on the floor. Such was the trim, with boisterous wet weather, cold days, and long evenings, on which we set out on our sea-adventure.


At six o’clock in the evening of the 19th, we came to in the Downs, in a line with Sandown Castle. The wind during the night increasing to a gale, the vessel pitched and laboured considerably; and the whole of the next day it blew a strong gale, with hard squalls from the westward. The day after, the weather continuing bad, the captain thought proper to run for Ramsgate, and took a pilot for that purpose. Captains of vessels are very unwilling to put into harbour, on account of the payment they have to make, and the necessity of supporting the crew for nothing while they remain. Many vessels are no doubt lost on this account; and a wonder is naturally expressed, that men can persist in putting their lives into jeopardy in order to save a few pounds. But when we come to know what a seaman’s life is, we see that nothing but the strongest love of gain (whether accompanied or not by the love of spending) could induce a man to take a voyage at all; and he is naturally anxious to save, what he looks upon as the only tangible proof, that he is not the greatest fool in existence. His life, he thinks, is in God’s keeping; but his money is in his own. To be sure, a captain who has been to sea fifty times, and has got rich by it, will go again, storms or vows to the contrary notwithstanding, because he does not know what to do with himself on shore; but unless he had the hope of adding to his stock, he would blunder into some other way of business, rather than go, as he would think, for nothing. Occupation is his real necessity, as it is that of other money-getters; but the mode of it, without the visible advantage, he would assuredly give up. I never met with a seaman (and I have put the question to several) who did not own to me, that he hated his profession. One of them, a brave and rough subject, told me, that there was not a “pickle” of a midshipman, not absolutely a fool, who would not confess that he had rather eschew a second voyage, if he had but the courage to make the avowal.


I know not what the Deal pilot, whom we took on board in the Downs, thought upon this point; but if ever there was a bold fellow, it was he; and yet he could eye a squall with a grave look. I speak not so much from what he had to do on the present occasion, though it was a nice business to get us into Ramsgate harbour: but he had the habit of courage in his face, and was altogether one of the most interesting-looking persons I have seen. The Deal boatmen are a well-known race; reverenced for their matchless intrepidity, and the lives they have saved. Two of them came on board the day before, giving opinions of the weather, which the captain was loth to take, and at the same time insinuating some little contraband notions, which he took better. I thought how little these notions injured the fine manly cast of their countenances, than which nothing could be more self-possessed and even innocent. They seemed to understand the first principles of the thing, without the necessity of enquiring into it; their useful and noble lives standing them in stead of the pettier ties and sophisms of the interested. Our pilot was a prince, even of his race, He was a tall man in a kind of frock-coat, thin but powerful, with high features, and an expression of countenance fit for an Argonaut. When he took the rudder in hand, and stood alone, guiding the vessel towards the harbour, the crew being all busied at a distance from him, and the captain, as usual, at his direction, he happened to put himself into an attitude the most graceful as well as commanding conceivable; and a new squall coming up in the horizon, just as we were going to turn in, he gave it a look of lofty sullenness, threat, as it were, for threat,—which was the most magnificent aspect of resolution I ever beheld. Experience and valour assumed their rights, and put themselves on a par with danger. In we turned, to the admiration of the spectators who had come down to the pier, and to the satisfaction of all on board, except the poor captain,
who, though it was his own doing, seemed, while gallantly congratulating the lady, to be eyeing, with sidelong pathos, the money that was departing from him.

We stopped, for a change of weather, nearly three weeks at Ramsgate, where we had visits from more than one London friend, to whom I only wish we could give a tenth part of the consolation when they are in trouble, which they afforded us. At Ramsgate I picked up Condorcet’s View of the Progress of Society, which I read with a transport of gratitude to the author, though it had not entered so deeply into the matter as I supposed. But the very power to persevere in hopes for mankind, at a time of life when individuals are in the habit of reconciling their selfishness and fatigue by choosing to think ill of them, is a great good in any man, and achieves a great good if it act only upon one other person. A few such instances of perseverance would alter the world. For some days we remained on board, as it was hoped that we should be able to set sail again. Ramsgate harbour is very shallow; and though we lay in the deepest part of it, the vessel took to a new and ludicrous species of dance, grinding and thumping upon the chalky ground. The consequence was, that the metal pintles of the rudder were all broken, and new ones obliged to be made; which the sailors told us was very lucky, as it proved the rudder not to be in good condition, and it might have deserted us at sea. We lay next a French vessel, smaller than our own, the crew of which became amusing subjects of remark. They were always whistling, singing, and joking. The men shaved themselves elaborately, and cultivated heroic whiskers; strutting up and down, when at leisure, with their arms folded, and the air of naval officers. A woman or two, with kerchiefs and little curls, completed the picture. They all seemed very merry and good-humoured. At length, tired of waiting on board, we took a quiet lodging at the
other end of the town, and were pleased to find ourselves sitting still, and secure of a good rest at night. It is something, after being at sea, to find oneself not running the fork in one’s eye at dinner, or suddenly sliding down the floor to the other end of the room. My wife was in a very weak state; but the rest she took was deep and tranquil, and I resumed my walks. Few of the principal bathing-places have any thing worth looking at in the neighbourhood, and Ramsgate has less than most. Pegwell Bay is eminent for shrimps. Close by is
Sir William Garrow, and a little farther on is Sir William Curtis. The sea is a grand sight, but it becomes tiresome and melancholy,—a great monotonous idea. I was destined to see it grander, and dislike it more.

On Tuesday the 11th of December, we set forth again, in company with nearly a hundred vessels, the white sails of which, as they shifted and presented themselves in different quarters, made an agreeable spectacle, exhibiting a kind of noble minuet. My wife was obliged to be carried down to the pier in a sedan; and the taking leave, a second time, of a dear friend, rendered our new departure a melancholy one. I would have stopped and waited for summertime, had not circumstances rendered it advisable for us to persevere; and my wife herself fully agreed with me, and even hoped for benefit, as well as a change of weather. Unfortunately, the promise to that effect lasted us but a day. The winds recommenced the day following, and there ensued such a continuity and vehemence of bad weather as rendered the winter of 1821 memorable in the shipping annals. It strewed the whole of the north-western coasts of Europe with wrecks. The reader may remember that winter: it was the one in which Mount Hecla burst out again into flame, and Dungeness lighthouse was struck with lightning. The mole at Genoa was dilapidated. Next year there were between
14 and 15,000 sail less upon Lloyd’s books; which, valued at an average at £1500, made a loss of two millions of money;—the least of all the losses, considering the feelings of survivors. Fifteen hundred sail (colliers) were wrecked on the single coast of Jutland.

Of this turmoil we were destined to have a sufficient experience; and I will endeavour to give the reader a taste of it, as he sits comfortably in his arm-chair. He has seen what sort of cabin we occupied. I will now speak of the crew and their mode of living, and what sort of trouble we partook in common. He may encounter it himself afterwards if he pleases, and it may do him good; but again I exhort him not to think of taking a family with him.

Our captain, who was, also proprietor of the vessel, had been master of a man-of-war, and was more refined in his manners than captains of small merchantmen are used to be. He was a clever seaman, or he would not have occupied his former post; and I dare say he conducted us well up and down Channel. The crew, when they were exhausted, accused him of a wish of keeping us out at sea, to save charges,—perhaps unjustly; for he became so alarmed himself, or was so little able to enter into the alarms of others, that he would openly express his fears before my wife and children. He was a man of connexions superior to his calling; and the consciousness of this, together with success in life, and a good complexion and set of features which he had had in his time, rendered him, though he was getting old, a bit of a coxcomb. When he undertook to be agreeable, he assumed a cleaner dress, and a fidgetty sort of effeminacy, which contrasted very ludicrously with his old clothes and his doleful roughness during a storm. While it was foul weather, he was roaring and swearing at the men, like a proper captain of a brig, and then grumbling, and saying, “Lord bless us and
save us!” in the cabin. If a glimpse of promise re-appeared, he put on a coat and aspect to correspond, was constantly putting compliments to the lady, and telling stories of other fair passengers whom he had conveyed charmingly to their destination. He wore powder; but this not being sufficient always to conceal the colour of his hair, he told us it had turned grey when he was a youth, from excessive fright in being left upon a rock. This confession made me conclude that he was a brave man, in spite of his exclamations. I saw him among his kindred, and he appeared to be an object of interest to some respectable maiden sisters, whom he treated kindly, and for whom all the money, perhaps, that he scraped together, was intended. He was chary of his “best biscuit,” but fond of children; and was inclined to take me for a Jonah for not reading the Bible, while he made love to the maid-servant. Of such incongruities are people made, from the Great Captain to the small!

Our mate was a tall handsome young man, with a countenance of great refinement for a seaman. He was of the humblest origin: yet a certain gentility was natural in him, as he proved by a hundred little circumstances of attention to the women and children, when consolation was wanted, though he did not do it ostentatiously or with melancholy. If a child was afraid, he endeavoured to amuse him with stories. If the women asked him anxiously how things were going on, he gave them a cheerful answer; and he contrived to show by his manner that he did not do so in order to make a show of his courage at their expense. He was attentive without officiousness, and cheerful with quiet. The only fault I saw in him, was a tendency to lord it over a Genoese boy, an apprentice to the captain, who seemed ashamed of being among
the crew, and perhaps gave himself airs. But a little tyranny will creep into the best natures, if not informed enough, under the guise of a manly superiority; as may be seen so often in upper boys at school. The little Genoese was handsome, and had the fine eyes of the Italians. Seeing he was a foreigner, when we first went on board, we asked him whether he was not an Italian, He said, no he was a Genoese. It is the Lombards, I believe, that are more particularly understood to be Italians, when a distinction of this kind is made; but I never heard it afterwards. He complained to me one day, that he wanted books and poetry; and said that the crew were a “brutta gente.” I afterwards met him in Genoa, when he looked as gay as a lark, and was dressed like a gentleman. His name was a piece of music,—Luigi Rivarola. There was another foreigner on board, a Swede, as rough a subject and Northern, as the Genoese was full of the “sweet South.” He had the reputation of being a capital seaman, which enabled him to grumble to better advantage than the others. A coat of the mate’s, hung up to dry, in a situation not perfectly legal, was not to be seen by him without a comment. The fellow had an honest face withal, but brute and fishy, not unlike a Triton’s in a picture. He gaped up at a squall, with his bony look, and the hair over his eyes, as if he could dive out of it in case of necessity. Very different was a fat, fair-skinned carpenter, with a querulous voice, who complained on all occasions, and in private was very earnest with the passengers to ask the captain to put into port. And very different again from him was a jovial strait-forward seaman, a genuine Jack Tar, with a snub nose and an under lip thrust out, such as we see in caricatures. He rolled about with the vessel, as if his feet had suckers; and he had an oath and a jest every
morning for the bad weather. He said he would have been “d—d” before he had come to sea this time, if he had known what sort of weather it was to be; but it was not so bad for him, as for the gentlefolks with their children.

The crew occupied a little cabin at the other end of the vessel, into which they were tucked in their respective cribs, like so many herrings. The weather was so bad, that a portion of them, sometimes all, were up at night, as well as the men on watch. The business of the watch is to see that all is safe, and to look out for vessels ahead. He is very apt to go to sleep, and is sometimes waked with a pail of water chucked over him. The tendency to sleep is very natural, and the sleep in fine weather delicious. Shakspeare may well introduce a sailor boy sleeping on the topmast, and enjoying a luxury that wakeful kings might envy. But there is no doubt that the luxury of the watcher is often the destruction of the vessel. The captains themselves, glad to get to rest, are careless. When we read of vessels run down at sea, we are sure to find it owing to negligence. This was the case with regard to the steam-vessel, the Comet, which excited so much interest the other day. A passenger, anxious and kept awake, is surprised to see the eagerness with which every seaman, let the weather be what it may, goes to bed. when it comes to his turn. Safety, if they can have it; but sleep at all events. This seems to be their motto. If they are to be drowned, they would rather have the two beds together, the watery and the worsted. Dry is too often a term inapplicable to the latter. In our vessel, night after night, the wet penetrated into the seamen’s births; and the poor fellows, their limbs stiff and aching with cold, and their hands blistered with toil, had to get into beds as wretched as if a pail of water had been thrown over them.


Such were the lives of our crew from the 12th till the 22nd of December, during which time we were beaten up and down Channel, twice touching the Atlantic, and driven back again like a hunted ox. One of the gales lasted, without intermission, fifty-six hours; blowing all the while, as if it would “split its cheeks.” The oldest seaman on board had never seen rougher weather in Europe. In some parts of the world, both East and West, there is weather of sudden and more outrageous violence; but none of the crew had experienced tempests of longer duration, nor more violent for the climate. The worst of being at sea in weather like this, next to your inability to do any thing, is the multitude of petty discomforts with which you are surrounded. You can retreat into no comfort, great or small. Your feet are cold; you can take no exercise on account of the motion of the vessel; and a fire will not keep in. You cannot sit in one posture. You lie down, because you are sick; or if others are more sick, you must keep your legs as well as you can, to help them. At meals, the plates and dishes slide away, now to this side, now that; making you laugh, it is true; but you laugh more out of satire than merriment. Twenty to one you are obliged to keep your beds, and chuck the cold meat to one another; or the oldest and strongest does it for the rest, desperately remaining at table, and performing all the slides, manœuvres, and sudden rushes, which the fantastic violence of the cabin’s movements has taught him. Tea, (which, for the refreshment it affords in toil and privation, may be called the traveller’s wine) is taken as desperately as may be, provided you can get boiling water; the cook making his appearance, when he can, with his feet asunder, clinging to the floor, and swaying to and fro with the kettle. (By the by, I have not mentioned our cook; he was a Mulatto, a merry knave, constantly drunk. But the habit of drinking, added to a quiet and sly habit of uttering his
words, had made it easy to him to pretend sobriety when he was most intoxicated; and I believe he deceived the whole of the people on board, except ourselves. The captain took him for a special good fellow, and felt particularly grateful for his refusals of a glass of rum; the secret of which was, he could get at the rum whenever he liked, and was never without a glass of it in his œsophagus. He stood behind you at meals, kneading the floor with his feet, as the vessel rolled; drinking in all the jokes, or would-be jokes, that were uttered; and laughing like a dumb goblin. The captain, who had eyes for nothing but what was right before him, seldom noticed his merry devil; but if you caught his eye, there he was, shaking his shoulders without a word, while his twinkling eyes seemed to run over with rum and glee. This fellow, who swore horrid oaths in a tone of meekness, used to add to my wife’s horrors by descending, drunk as he was, with a lighted candle into the “Lazaret,” which was a hollow under the cabin, opening with a trapdoor, and containing provisions and a portion of the gunpowder. The portion was small, but sufficient, she thought, with the assistance of his candle, to blow its up. Fears for her children occupied her mind from morning till night, when she sank into an uneasy sleep. While she was going to sleep I read, and did not close my eyes till towards morning, thinking (with a wife by my side, and seven children around me) what I should do in case of the worst. My imagination, naturally tenacious, and exasperated by ill health, clung, not to every relief, but to every shape of ill that I could fancy. I was tormented with the consciousness of being unable to divide myself into as many pieces as I had persons requiring assistance; and must not scruple to own that I suffered a constant dread, which appeared to me very unbecoming a man of spirit. However, I expressed no sense of it to any body. I did my best to do
my duty and keep up the spirits of those about me; and your nervousness being a great dealer in your joke fantastic, I succeeded apparently with all, and certainly with the children. The most uncomfortable thing in the vessel was the constant wet. Below it penetrated, and on deck you could not appear with dry shoes but they were speedily drenched. Mops being constantly in use at sea, (for seamen are very clean in that respect, and keep their vessel as nice as a pet infant,) the sense of wet was always kept up, whether in wetting or drying; and the vessel, tumbling about, looked like a wash-house in a fit. We had a goat on board, a present from a kind friend, anxious that we should breakfast as at home. The storms frightened away its milk, and Lord Byron’s dog afterwards bit off its ear. But the ducks had the worst of it. These were truly a sight to make a man hypochondriacal. They were kept in miserable narrow coops, over which the sea constantly breaking, the poor wretches were drenched and beaten to death. Every morning, when I came upon deck, some more were killed, or had their legs and wings broken. The captain grieved for the loss of his ducks, and once went so far as to add to the number of his losses by putting one of them out of its misery; but nobody seemed to pity them otherwise. This was not inhumanity, but want of thought. The idea of pitying live-stock when they suffer, enters with as much difficulty into a head uneducated to that purpose, as the idea of pitying a diminished piece of beef or a stolen pig. I took care not to inform the children how much the creatures suffered. My family, with the exception of the eldest boy, who was of an age to acquire experience, always remained below; and the children, not aware of any danger, (for I took care to qualify what the captain said, and they implicitly believed me) were as gay, as confinement and uneasy beds would allow them to be. With the poor ducks I made them out-
rageously merry one night, by telling them to listen when the next sea broke over us, and they would hear Mr. P., an acquaintance of theirs, laughing. The noise they made with their quacking, when they gathered breath after the suffocation of the salt water, was exactly like what I said: the children listened, and at every fresh agony there was a shout. Being alarmed one night by the captain’s open expression of his apprehension, I prepared the children for the worst that might happen, by telling them that the sea sometimes broke into a cabin, and then there was a dip over head and ears for the passengers, after which they laughed and made merry. The only time I expressed apprehension to any body was to the mate, one night when we were wearing ship off the Scilly rocks, and every body was in a state of anxiety. I asked him, in case of the worst, to throw open the lid of the cabin-stairs, that the sea might pour in upon us as fast as possible. He begged me not to have any sad thoughts, for he said I should give them to him, and he had none at present. At the same time, he turned and severely rebuked the carpenter, who was looking doleful at the helm, for putting notions into the heads of the passengers. The captain was unfortunately out of hearing.

I did wrong, at that time, not to “feed better,” as the phrase is. My temperance was a little ultra-theoretical and excessive; and the mate and I were the only men on board who drank no spirits. Perhaps there were not many men out in those dreadful nights in the Channel, who could say as much. The mate, as he afterwards let me know, felt the charge upon him too great to venture upon an artificial state of courage; and I feared that what courage was left me, might be bewildered. The consequence was, that from previous illness and constant excitation, my fancy was sickened into a kind of hypochondriacal investment
and shaping of things about me. A little more, and I might have imagined the fantastic shapes which the action of the sea is constantly interweaving out of the foam at the vessel’s side, to be sea-snakes, or more frightful hieroglyphics. The white clothes that hung up on pegs in the cabin, took, in the gloomy light from above, an aspect like things of meaning; and the winds and rain together, as they ran blind and howling along by the vessel’s side, when I was on deck, appeared like frantic spirits of the air, chasing and shrieking after one another, and tearing each other by the hair of their heads. “The grandeur of the glooms” on the Atlantic was majestic indeed: the healthiest eye would have seen them with awe. The sun rose in the morning, at once fiery and sicklied over; a livid gleam played on the water, like the reflection of lead; then the storms would recommence; and during partial clearings off, the clouds and fogs appeared standing in the sky, moulded into gigantic shapes, like antediluvian wonders, or visitants from the zodiac; mammoths, vaster than have yet been thought of; the first ungainly and stupendous ideas of bodies and legs, looking out upon an unfinished world. These fancies were ennobling, from their magnitude. The pain that was mixed with some of the others, I might have displaced by a fillip of the blood.

Two days after we left Ramsgate, the wind blowing violently from the south-west, we were under close-reefed topsails; but on its veering to westward, the captain was induced to persevere, in hopes that by coming round to the north-west, it would enable him to clear the Channel. The ship laboured very much, the sea breaking over her; and the pump was constantly going.

The next day, the 14th, we shipped a great deal of water, the pump going as before. The foretopsail and foresail were taken in, and the
storm staysail set; and the captain said we were “in the hands of God.” We now wore ship to southward.

On the 15th, the weather was a little moderated, with fresh gales and cloudy. The captain told us to-day how his hair turned white in a shipwreck; and the mate entertained us with an account of the extraordinary escape of himself and some others from an American pirate, who seized their vessel, plundered and made it a wreck, and confined them under the hatches, in the hope of their going down with it. They escaped in a rag of a boat, and were taken up by a Greek vessel, which treated them with the greatest humanity. The pirate was afterwards taken, and hung at Malta, with five of his men. This story, being tragical without being tempestuous, and terminating happily for our friend, was very welcome, and occupied us agreeably. I tried to get up some ghost stories of vessels, but could hear of nothing but the Flying Dutchman: nor did I succeed better on another occasion. This dearth of supernatural adventure is remarkable, considering the superstition of sailors. But their wits are none of the liveliest to be acted upon; and then the sea blunts while it mystifies; and the sailor’s imagination, driven in, like his body, to the vessel he inhabits, admits only the petty wonders that come directly about him in the shape of storm-announcing fishes and birds. His superstition is that of a blunted and not of an awakened ignorance. Sailors had rather sleep than see visions.

On the 16th, the storm was alive again, with strong gales and heavy squalls. We set the fore storm staysail anew, and at night the jollyboat was torn from the stern.

The afternoon of the 17th brought us the gale that lasted fifty-six hours, “one of the most tremendous,” the captain said, “that he had
ever witnessed.” All the sails were taken in, except the close-reefed topsail and one of the trysails. At night, the wind being at south-west, and Scilly about fifty miles north by east, the trysail sheet was carried away, and the boom and sail had a narrow escape. We were now continually wearing ship. The boom was unshipped, as it was; and it was a melancholy sight to see it lying next morning, with the sail about it, like a wounded servant who had been fighting. The morning was occupied in getting it to rights. At night we had hard squalls with lightning.

We lay to under main-topsail until the next morning, the 19th, when at ten o’clock we were enabled to set the reefed foresail, and the captain prepared to run for Falmouth; but finding he could not get in till night, we hauled to the wind, and at three in the afternoon wore ship to southwestward. It was then blowing heavily; and the sea, breaking over the vessel, constantly took with it a part of the bulwark. I believe we had long ceased to have a duck alive. The poor goat had contrived to find itself a corner in the long-boat, and lay frightened and shivering under a piece of canvass. I afterwards took it down in the cabin to share our lodging with us; but not having a birth to give it, it passed but a sorry time, tied up and slipping about the floor. At night we had lightning again, with hard gales, the wind being west and north-west, and threatening to drive us on the French coast. It was a grand thing, through the black and turbid atmosphere, to see the great fiery eye of the lighthouse at the Lizard Point; it looked like a good genius with a ferocious aspect. Ancient mythology would have made dragons of these noble structures,—dragons with giant glare, warning the seaman off the coast.


The captain could not get into Falmouth: so he wore ship, and stood to the westward with fresh hopes, the wind having veered a little to the north; but, after having run above fifty miles to the south and west, the wind veered again in our teeth, and at two o’clock on the 20th, we were reduced to a close-reefed main-topsail, which, being new, fortunately held, the wind blowing so hard that it could not be taken in without the greatest risk of losing it. The sea was very heavy, and the rage of the gale tremendous, accompanied with lightning. The children on these occasions slept, unconscious of their danger. My wife slept too, from exhaustion. I remember, as I lay awake that night, looking about to see what help I could get from imagination, to furnish a moment’s respite from the anxieties that beset me, I cast my eyes on the poor goat; and recollecting how she devoured some choice biscuit I gave her one day, I got up, and going to the cupboard took out as much as I could find, and occupied myself in seeing her eat. She munched the fine white biscuit out of my hand, with equal appetite and comfort; and I thought of a saying of Sir Philip Sidney’s, that we are never perfectly miserable when we can do a good-natured action.

I will not dwell upon the thoughts that used to pass, through my mind respecting my wife and children. Many times, especially when a little boy of mine used to weep in a manner equally sorrowful and good-tempered, have I thought of Prospero and his infant Miranda in the boat,—“me and thy crying self;” and many times of that similar divine fragment of Simonides, a translation of which, if I remember, is to be found in the “Adventurer.” It seemed as if I had no right to bring so many little creatures into such jeopardy, with peril to their lives and all future enjoyment; but sorrow and trouble suggested other
reflections too:—consolations, which even to be consoled with is calamity. However, I will not recall those feelings any more. Next to tragical thoughts like these, one of the modes of tormenting oneself at sea, is to raise those pleasant pictures of contrast, dry and firm-footed, which our friends are enjoying in their warm rooms and radiant security at home. I used to think of them one after the other, or several of them together, reading, chatting, and laughing, playing music, or complaining that they wanted a little movement and must dance; then retiring to easy beds amidst happy families; and perhaps, as the wind howled, thinking of us. Perhaps, too, they thought of us sometimes in the midst of their merriment, and longed for us to share it with them. That they did so, is certain; but, on the other hand, what would we not have given to be sure of the instant at which they were making these reflections; and how impossible was it to attain to this, or to any other dry-ground satisfaction! Sometimes I could not help smiling to think how
Munden would have exclaimed, in the character of Croaker, “We shall all be blown up!” The gunpowder I seldom thought of. I had other fish to fry: but it seemed to give my feet a sting sometimes, as I remembered it in walking the deck. The demand for dry land was considerable. That is the point with landsmen at sea;—something unwet, unconfined, but, above all, firm, and that enables you to take your own steps, physical and moral. Panurge has it somewhere in Rabelais, but I have lost the passage.

But I must put an end to this unseasonable mirth.—“A large vessel is coming right down upon us;—lights—lights!” This was the cry at eleven o’clock at night, on the 21st December, the gale being tremendous, and the sea to match. Lanthorns were handed up from the cabin,
and, one after the other, put out. The captain thought it was owing to the wind and the spray; but it was the drunken steward, who jolted them out as he took them up the ladder. We furnished more, and contrived to see them kept in; and the captain afterwards told me that we were the salvation of his vessel. The ship, discerning us just in time, passed ahead, looking very huge and terrible. Next morning, we saw her about two miles on our lee-bow, lying to under trysails. It was an Indiaman. There was another vessel, a smaller, near us in the night. I thought the Indiaman looked very comfortable, with its spacious and powerful body: but the captain said we were better off a great deal in our own sea-boat; which turned out to be too true, if this was the same Indiaman, as some thought it, which was lost the night following off the coast of Devonshire. The crew said, that in one of the pauses of the wind they heard a vessel go down. We were at that time very near land. At tea-time the keel of our ship grated against something, perhaps a shoal. The captain afterwards very properly made light of it; but at the time, being in the act of raising a cup to his mouth, I remember. He turned prodigiously grave, and, getting up, went upon deck.

Next day, time 22nd, we ran for Dartmouth, and luckily succeeding this time, found ourselves, at 12 o’clock at noon, in the middle of Dartmouth harbour.—
“Magno telluris amore
Egressi, optata potiuntur Troës arena.”
“The Trojans, worn with toils, and spent with woes,
Leap on the welcome land, and seek their wish’d repose.”
Dryden had never been at sea, or he would not have translated the passage in that meek manner. Virgil knew better; and besides, he had
the proper ancient hydrophobia to endear his fancy to the dry ground. He says, that the Trojans had got an absolute affection for terra firma, and that they now enjoyed what they had longed for. Virgil, it must be confessed, talks very tenderly of the sea for an epic poet.
Homer grapples with it in a very different style. The Greek would hardly have recognized his old acquaintance Micas in that pious and frightened personage, who would be designated, I fear, by a modern sailor, a psalm-singing milksop. But Homer, who was a traveller, is the only poet among the ancients, who speaks of the sea in a modern spirit. He talks of brushing the waves merrily; and likens them, when they are dark, to his Chian wine. But Hesiod, though he relates with a modest grandeur that he had once been to sea, as far as from Aulis to Chalcis, is shocked at the idea of any body’s venturing upon the water except when the air is delicate and the water harmless. A spring voyage distresses him, and a winter he holds to be senseless. Moschus plainly confesses, that the very sight of the ocean makes him retreat into the woods; the only water he loves being a fountain to listen to, as he lies on the grass. Virgil took a trip to Athens, during which he may be supposed to have undergone all the horrors which he holds to be no disgrace to his hero. Horace’s distress at his friend’s journey, and amazement at the hardhearted rascal who could first venture to look upon the sea on ship-board, are well known. A Hindoo could not have a greater dread of the ocean. Poor Ovid, on his way to the place of his exile, wonders how he can write a line. These were delicate gentlemen at the court of Augustus; and the ancients, it may be said, had very small and bad vessels, and no compass. But their moral courage appears to have been as poor in this matter as their physical. Nothing could have given a Roman a more exalted idea
Cæsar’s courage, than his famous speech to the pilot:—“You carry Cæsar and his fortunes!” The poets, who take another road to glory, and think no part of humanity alien from them, spoke out in a different manner. Their office being to feel with all, and their nature disposing them to it, they seem to think themselves privileged to be bold or timid, according to circumstances; and doubtless they are so, imagination being the moving cause in both instances. They perceive also, that the boldest of men are timid under circumstances in which they have no experience; and this helps the agreeable insolence of their candour. Rochester said, that every man would confess himself a coward, if he had but courage enough to do so;—a saying worthy of an ingenious debauchee, and as false with respect to individuals, as it is perhaps true with regard to the circumstances, under which any one may find himself. The same person who shall turn pale in a storm at sea, shall know not what it is to fear the face of man; and the most fearless of sailors shall turn pale (as I have seen them do) even in storms of an unusual description. I was once in a scuffle with a party of fishermen on the Thames, when, in the height of their brutal rage, they were checked and made civil by the mention of the word law. Rochester talked like the shameless coward that he had made himself; but even Sir Philip Sidney, the flower of chivalry, who would have gone through any danger out of principle, (which, together with the manly habits that keep a man brave, is the true courage,) does not scruple to speak, with a certain dread, of ships and their strange lodgings.

“Certainly,” says he, in his “Arcadia,” (Book II.) “there is no danger carries with it more horror, than that which grows in those floating kingdoms. For that dwelling-place is unnatural to mankind;
and then the terribleness of the continual motion, the desolation of the far being from comfort, the eye and the ear having ugly images ever before them, doth still vex the mind, even when it is best armed against it.”

Ariosto, a soldier as well as poet, who had fought bravely in the wars, candidly confesses that he is for taking no sea voyages, but is content to explore the earth with Ptolemy, and travel in a map. This, he thinks, is better than putting up prayers in a storm. (Satire 3. Chi vuol andar intorno, &c.) But the most amusing piece of candour on this point is that of Berni, in his “Orlando Innamorato,” one of the models of the Don Juan style. Berni was a good fellow, for a rake; and bold enough, though a courtier, to refuse aiding a wicked master in his iniquities. He was also, stout of body, and a great admirer of stout achievements in others, which he dwells upon with a masculine relish. But the sea he cannot abide. He probably got a taste of it in the Adriatic, when he was at Venice. He is a fine describer of a storm, and puts a hero of his at the top of one in a very elevated and potent manner: (See the description of Rodomonte, at the beginning of one of his cantos.) But in his own person, he disclaims all partnership with such exaltations; and earnestly exhorts the reader, on the faith of his experience, not to think of quitting dry land for an instant.
“Se vi poteste un uomo immaginare,
Il qual non sappia quel che sia paura;
E se volete un bel modo trovare
Da spaventar ogni anima sicura;
Quando e fortuna, mettetel’ in mare.
Se non lo teme, se non se ne cura,
Colui per pazzo abbiate, e non ardito,
Perch’ è diviso da la morte un dito.
“È un’ orribil cosa il mar crocciato:
È meglio udirlo, che farne la prova.
Creda ciascun a chi dentro v’ è stato;
E per provar, di terra non si mova.”
Canto 64, st. 4.
Reader, if you suppose that there can be,
In nature, one that’s ignorant of fear
And if you’d show the man, as prettily
As possible, how people can feel queer,—
When there ’s a tempest, clap him in the sea.
If he ’s not frightened, if he doesn’t care,
Count him a stupid idiot, and not brave,
Thus with a straw betwixt him and the grave.
A sea in torment is a dreadful thing:
Much better lie and listen to, than try it.
Trust one who knows its desperate pummelling;
And while on terra firma, pray stick by it.

Full of Signor Berni’s experience, and having, in the shape of our children, seven more reasons than he had to avail ourselves of it, we here bade adieu to our winter voyage, and resolved to put forth again in a better season. It was a very expensive change of purpose, and cost us more trouble than I can express; but I had no choice, seeing my wife was so ill. A few days afterwards, she was obliged to have forty ounces of blood taken from her at once, to save her life.

Dartmouth is a pretty, forlorn place, deserted of its importance. Chaucer’s “Schippman” was born there, and it still produces excellent seamen; but, instead of its former dignity as a port, it looks like a petty town deserted of its neighbourhood, and left to grow wild and solitary. The beautiful vegetation immediately about it, added to the bare hills in the background, completes this look of forlornness, and produces an
effect like that of the grass growing in the streets of a metropolis. The harbour is landlocked with hills, and wood, and a bit of an old castle at the entrance; forming a combination very picturesque. Among the old families remaining in that quarter, the Prideaux, relations of the
ecclesiastical historian, live in this town; and going up a solitary street on the hill-side, I saw on a door the name of Wolcot, a memorandum of a different sort. Peter Pindar’s family, like the divine’s, are from Cornwall.

We left Dartmouth, where no ships were in the habit of sailing for Italy, and went to Plymouth; intending to set off again with the beginning of spring, in a vessel bound for Genoa. But the mate of it, who, I believe, grudged us the room we should deprive him of, contrived to tell my wife a number of dismal stories, both of the ship and its captain, who was an unlucky fellow that seemed marked by fortune. Misery had also made him a Calvinist,—the most miserable of all ways of getting comfort; and this was no additional recommendation. To say the truth, having a pique against my fears on the former occasion, I was more bent on allowing myself to have none on the present; otherwise, I should not have thought of putting forth again till the fine weather was complete. But the reasons that prevailed before, had now become still more imperative; my wife being confined to her bed, and undergoing repeated bleedings: so, till summer we waited. Plymouth is a proper modern commercial town, unpicturesque in itself, with an overgrown suburb, or dock, which has become a town distinct, and other suburbs carrying other towns along the coast. But the country up the river is beautiful; and Mount-Edgecumbe is at hand, with its enchanted island, like a piece of old poetry by the side of new money-getting. Lord Lyttleton,
in some pretty verses, has introduced the gods, with Neptune at their head, and the nymphs of land and sea, contesting for the proprietorship of it;—a dispute which Jupiter settles by saying, that he made Mount-Edgecumbe for them all. But the best compliment paid it was by the
Duke de Medina Sidonia, admiral of the Spanish Armada, who, according to Fuller, marked it out from the sea, as his territorial portion of the booty. “But,” says Fuller, “he had catched a great cold, had he had no other clothes to wear than those which were to be made of a skin of a bear not killed.” In the neighbourhood is a seat of the Carews, the family of the historian of Cornwall, and kinsmen of the poet. Near it, on the other side of the river, was the seat of the Killigrews; another family which became celebrated in the annals of wit and poetry.* The tops of the two mansions looked at one another over the trees. In the grounds of the former is a bowling-green, the scene of a once fashionable amusement, now grown out of use; which is a pity. Fashion cannot too much identify itself with what is healthy; nor has England been “merry England,” since late hours and pallid faces came into vogue. But our sedentary thoughts, it is to be hoped, will help to their own remedy, and in the end leave us better off than before.

The sea upon the whole had done me good, and I found myself able to write again, though by driblets. We lived very quietly at Stonehouse, opposite Mount-Edgecumbe, nursing our hopes for a new voyage, and expecting one of a very different complexion in sailing towards an Italian summer. My wife kept her bed almost the whole

* Worthies of England, Vol. i. p. 208.   Edit. 1811.

time, and lost a great deal of blood; but the repose, together with the sea-air, was of service to her, and enabled her to receive benefit on resuming our journey. Thus quietly we lived, and thus should have continued, agreeably to both of our inclinations; but some friends of the Examiner heard of our being in the neighbourhood, and the privatest of all public men (if I may be ranked among the number) found himself complimented by his readers, face to face, and presented with a silver cup. I then had a taste of the Plymouth hospitality, and found it friendly and cordial to the last degree, as if the seaman’s atmosphere gave a new spirit to the love of books and liberty. Nor, as the poet would say, was music wanting; nor fair faces, the crown of welcome. Besides the landscapes in the neighbourhood, I had the pleasure of seeing some beautiful ones in the painting-room of
Mr. Rogers, a very clever artist and intelligent man, who has travelled, and can think for himself. But my great Examiner friend, who has since become a personal one, was Mr. Hine, now master of an academy near the Metropolis, and the most attentive and energetic person of his profession that I ever met with. My principal visitors indeed at Plymouth consisted of schoolmasters;—one of those signs of the times, which has not been so ill regarded since the accession of a lettered and liberal minister to the government of this country, as they were under the supercilious ignorance, and (to say the truth) well-founded alarm of his footmanlike predecessors.

The Devonshire people, as far as I had experience of them, were pleasant and good-humoured. Queen Elizabeth said of their gentry, that they were “all born courtiers with a becoming confidence.” I know not how that may be, though she had a good specimen in Sir Walter
Raleigh, and a startling one in Stukeley.* But the private history of modern times might exhibit instances of natives of Devonshire winning their way into regard and power by the force of a well-constituted mixture of sweet and strong; and it is curious, that the milder climate of that part of England should have produced more painters, perhaps, of a superior kind, than any other two counties can show. Drake, Jewel, Hooker, and old Fortescue, were also Devonshire-men; William Browne, the most genuine of Spenser’s disciples; and Gay, the enjoying and the goodhearted, the natural man in the midst of the sophisticate.

We left Plymouth on the 13th of May, 1822, accompanied by some of our new friends who would see us on board; and set sail in a fresh vessel, on our new summer voyage, a very different one from the last. Short acquaintances sometimes cram as much into their intercourse, as to take the footing of long ones; and our parting was not without pain. Another shadow was cast on the female countenances by the observation of our boatman, who, though an old sailor who ought to have known better, bade us remark how heavily laden our ship was, and how deep she lay in the water: so little can ignorance afford to miss an opportunity of being important. Our new captain, and, I believe, all his crew, were Welsh, with the exception of one sailor, an unfortunate Scotchman, who seemed pitched among them to have his nationality put to the torture. Jokes were unceasingly cracked on the length of his person, the oddity

* See his wild history in Fuller, p. 34, as above. “So confident was his ambition,” says the biographer, “that he blushed not to tell Queen Elizabeth, that he preferred rather to be sovereign of a mole-hill, than the highest subject to the greatest king in Christendom; adding, moreover, that he was assured he should be a prince before his death. ‘I hope,’ said Queen Elizabeth, ‘that I shall hear from you when you are stated in your principality.’—‘I will write unto you,’ quoth Stukeley.—‘In what language?’ said the Queen. He returned, ‘In the style of princes—To our Dear Sister.’”

of his dialect, and the uncouth manner in which he stood at the helm. It was a new thing to hear Welshmen cutting up the barbarism of the “Modern Athens;” but they had the advantage of the poor fellow in wit, and he took it with a sort of sulky patience, that showed he was not destitute of one part of the wisdom of his countrymen. To have made a noise would have been to bring down new shouts of laughter; so he pocketed the affronts as well as he might, and I could not help fancying that his earnings lay in the same place more securely than most of those about him. The captain was choleric and brusque, a temperament which was none the better for an inclination to plethora; but his enthusiasm in behalf of his brother tars, and the battles they had fought, was as robust as his frame; and he surprised me with writing verses on the strength of it. Very good heart and impart verses they were too, and would have cut as good a figure as any in one of the old magazines. While he read them, he rolled the r’s in the most rugged style, and looked as if he could have run them down the throats of the enemy. The objects of his eulogy he called “our gallant herroes.

We took leave of Plymouth with a fine wind at North-east; and next day, on the confines of the Channel, spoke the Two Sisters, of Guernsey, from Rio Janeiro. On a long voyage, ships lose their longitude; and our information enabled the vessel to enter the Channel with security. Ships approaching and parting from one another, present a fine spectacle, shifting in the light, and almost looking conscious of the grace of their movements. Sickness here began to prevail again among us, with all but myself, who am never sea-sick. I mention it in order to notice a pleasant piece of thanks which I received from my eldest boy, who, having suffered dreadfully in the former voyage, was grateful for my not having allowed him to eat butter in the
interval. I know not whether my paternity is leading me here into too trifling a matter; but I mention the circumstance, because there may be intelligent children among my readers, with whom it may turn to account.

We were now on the high Atlantic, with fresh health and hopes, and the prospect of an easy voyage before us. Next night, the 15th, we saw, for the first time, two grampuses, who interested us extremely with their unwieldy gambols. They were very large,—in fact, a small kind of whale; but they played about the vessel like kittens, dashing round, and even under it, as if in scorn of its progress. The swiftness of fish is inconceivable. The smallest of them must be enormously strong: the largest are as gay as the least. One of these grampuses fairly sprang out of the water, bolt upright. The same day, we were becalmed in the Bay of Biscay;—a pleasant surprise. A calm in the Bay of Biscay, after what we had read and heard of it, sounded to us like repose in a boiling cauldron. But a calm, after all, is not repose: it is a very unresting and unpleasant thing, the ship taking a great gawky motion from side to side, as if playing the buffoon; and the sea heaving in huge oily-looking fields, like a carpet lifted. Sometimes it looks striped into great ribbons; but the sense of it is always more or less unpleasant, and to impatient seamen must be torture.

The next day we were still becalmed. A small shark played all day long about the vessel, but was shy of the bait. The sea was swelling, and foul with putrid substances, which made us think what it would be if a calm continued a month. Mr. Coleridge has touched upon that matter, with the hand of a master, in his “Ancient Mariner.” (Here are three words in one sentence beginning with M and ending with R; to the great horror of Mr. Wordsworth, provided he does me the honour
of reading me. But the compliment to Mr. Coleridge shall be the greater, since it is at my own expense.) During a calm, the seamen, that they may not be idle, are employed in painting the vessel:—an operation that does not look well amidst the surrounding aspect of sickness and faintness. The favourite colours are black and yellow; I believe, because they are the least expensive. They are certainly the most ugly.

On the 17th, we had a fine breeze at north-east. There is great enjoyment in a beautiful day at sea. You quit all the discomforts of your situation for the comforts; interchange congratulations with the seamen, who are all in good humour; seat yourself at ease on the deck, enjoy the motion, the getting on, the healthiness of the air; watch idly for new sights; read a little, or chat, or give way to a day-dream; then look up again, and expatiate on the basking scene around you, with its ripples blue or green, and gold,—what the old poet beautifully calls the innumberable smile of the waters.
“Ποντιων τε χυματων
Ανηζιφμον γελασμα”
The appearance of another vessel sets conjecture alive:—it is “a Dane,” “a Frenchman,” “a Portuguese,” and these words have a new effect upon us, as if we became intimate with the country to which they belong. A more striking effect of the same sort is produced by the sight of a piece of land;—it is Flamborough Head, Ushant, Cape Ortegal:—you see a part of another country, one perhaps on which you have never set foot; and this is a great thing: it gives you an advantage: others have read of Spain or Portugal; you have seen it, and are a grown man and a traveller, compared with those little children of
books. These novelties affect the dullest; but to persons of any imagination and such as are ready for any pleasure or consolation that nature offers them, they are like pieces of a new morning of life. The world seems begun again, and our stock of knowledge recommencing on a new plan.

Then at night-time, there are those beautiful fires on the water, by the vessel’s side, upon the nature of which people seem hardly yet agreed. Some take them for animal decay, some for living animals, others for electricity. Perhaps all have to do with it. In a fine blue sea, the foam caused by the vessel at night, seems full of stars: the white ferment, with the golden sparkles in it, is beautiful beyond conception. You look over, and devour it with your eyes, as you would so much ethereal syllabub. Finally, the stars in the firmament issue forth, and the moon, always the more lovely the farther you get south; or when there is no moon on the sea, the shadows at a little distance become grander and more solemn, and you watch for some huge fish to lift himself in the middle of them,—a darker mass, breathing and spouting water.

The fish appear very happy. Some are pursued indeed, and others pursue; there is a world of death as well as life going on. The mackarel avoids the porpus, and the porpus eschews the whale; there is the sword-fish, who runs a-muck; and the shark, the cruel scavenger. These are startling commonplaces: but it is impossible, on reflection, to separate the idea of happiness from that of health and activity. The fishes are not sick or sophisticate; their blood is pure, their strength and agility prodigious; and a little peril, for aught we know, may serve to keep them moving, and give a relish to their vivacity. I looked upon the sea as a great tumbling wilderness, full of sport. To eat fish
at sea, however, hardly looked fair, though it was the fairest of occasions: it seemed as if, not being an inhabitant, I had no right to the produce. I did not know how the dolphins might take it. At nighttime, lying in a bed beneath the level of the water, I fancied sometimes that a fellow looked at me as he went by with his great sidelong eyes, gaping objection. It was strange, I thought, to find oneself moving onward cheek by jowl with a porpus, or yawning in concert with a shark.

On the 21st, after another two days of calm, and one of rain, we passed Cape Finisterre. There was a heavy swell and rolling. Being now on the Atlantic, with not even any other name for the part of it that we sailed over to interrupt the widest association of ideas, I thought of America, and Columbus, and the chivalrous squadrons that set out from Lisbon, and the old Atlantis of Plato, formerly supposed to exist off the coast of Portugal. It is curious, that the Portuguese have a tradition to this day, that there is an island occasionally seen off the coast of Lisbon. The story of the Atlantis looks like some old immemorial tradition of a country that has really existed; nor is it difficult to suppose that there was formerly some great tract of land, or even continent, occupying these now watery regions, when we consider the fluctuation of things, and those changes of dry to moist, and of lofty to low, which are always taking place all over the globe. Off the coast of Cornwall, the mariner, it has been said, now rides over the old country of Lyones, or whatever else it was called, if that name be fabulous; and there are stories of doors and casements, and other evidences of occupation, brought up from the bottom. These indeed have lately been denied, or reduced to nothing: but old probabilities remain. In the Eastern seas, the gigantic work of creation is visibly going on, by
means of those little creatures, the coral worms; and new lands will as assuredly be inhabited there after a lapse of centuries, as old ones have vanished in the West.
“So, in them all, raignes mutabilitie.”

22. Fine breeze to-day from the N.E. A great shark went by. One longs to give the fellow a great dig in the mouth. Yet he is only going “on his vocation.” Without him, as without the vultures on land, something would be amiss. It is only moral pain and inequality which it is desirable to alter,—that which the mind of man has an invincible tendency to alter.

To-day the seas reminded me of the “marmora pelagi,” of Catullus. They looked, at a little distance, like blue water petrified. You might have supposed, that by some sudden catastrophe, the great ocean had been turned into stone; and the mighty animals, whose remains we find in it, fixed there for ever. A shoal of porpuses broke up the fancy. Waves might be classed, as clouds have been; and more determination given to pictures of them. We ought to have waves and wavelets, billows, fluctuosities, &c., a marble sea, a sea weltering. The sea varies its look at the immediate side of the vessel, according as the progress is swift or slow. Sometimes it is a crisp and rapid flight, hissing; sometimes an interweaving of the foam in snake-like characters; sometimes a heavy weltering, shouldering the ship on this side and that. In what is called “the trough of the sea,” which is a common state to be in during violent weather, the vessel literally appears stuck and labouring in a trough, the sea looking on either side like a hill of yeast. This was the gentlest sight we used to have in the Channel; very different from our summer amenities.


A fine breeze all night, with many porpuses. Porpuses are supposed to portend a change of weather, of some sort, bad or good: they are not prognosticators of bad alone. At night there was a “young May moon,” skimming between the dark clouds, like a slender boat of silver. I was upon deck, and found the watcher fast asleep. A vessel might have tipped us all into the water, for any thing that he knew, or perhaps cared. There ought to be watchers on board ship, exclusively for that office. It is not to be expected that sailors, who have been up and at work all day, should not sleep at night, especially out in the air. It is as natural to these children of the sea, as to infants carried out of doors. The sleeper, in the present instance, had a pail thrown over him one night, which only put him in a rage, and perhaps made him sleep out of spite next time. He was a strong, hearty Welsh lad, healthy and good-looking, in whose veins life coursed it so happily, that, in order to put him on a par with less fortunate constitutions, fate seemed to have brought about a state of warfare between him and the captain, who thought it absolutely necessary to be always giving him the rope’s end. Poor John used to dance and roar with the sting of it, and take care to deserve it better next time. He was unquestionably “very aggravating,” as the saying is; but, on the other hand, the rope was not a little provoking.

23. A strong breeze from the N. and N. E., with clouds and rain. The foam by the vessel’s side was full of those sparkles I have mentioned, like stars in clouds of froth. On the 24th, the breeze increased, but the sky was fairer, and the moon gave a light. We drank the health of a friend in England, whose birthday it was; being great observers of that part of religion. The 25th brought us beautiful weather, with a wind right from the north, so that we ran down the remainder of the
coast of Portugal in high style. Just as we desired it too, it changed to N. W., so as to enable us to turn the Strait of Gibraltar merrily. Cape St. Vincent, (where the battle took place,) just before you come to Gibraltar, is a beautiful lone promontory jutting out upon the sea, and crowned with a convent: it presented itself to my eyes the first thing when I came upon deck in the morning,—clear, solitary, blind-looking; feeling, as it were, the sea air and the solitude for ever, like something between stone and spirit. It reminded me of a couplet, written not long before) of
—“Ghastly castle, that eternally
Holds its blind visage out to the lone sea.”
Such things are beheld in one’s day-dreams, and we almost start to find them real. Between the Cape and Gibraltar were some fishermen, ten or twelve in a boat, fishing with a singular dancing motion of the line. These were the first “Southrons” we had seen in their own domain; and they interested us accordingly. One mall took off his cap. In return for this politeness, the sailors joked them in bad Portuguese, and shouted with laughter at the odd sound of their language when they replied. A seaman, within his ship and his limited horizon, thinks he contains the whole circle of knowledge. Whatever gives him a hint of any thing else, he looks upon as absurdity; and is the first to laugh at his own ignorance, without knowing it, in another shape. That a Portuguese should not be able to speak English, appears to him the most ludicrous thing in the world; while, on his part, he affects to think it a condescension to speak a few rascally words of Portuguese, though he is in reality very proud of them. The more ignorance and inability, the more pride and intolerance. A servant-maid whom we took with us to Italy, could not “abide” the disagreeable sound of
Tuscan; and professed to change the word grazie into grochy, because it was prettier.

All this corner of the Peninsula is rich in ancient and modern interest. There is Cape St. Vincent, just mentioned; Trafalgar, more illustrious; Cadiz, the city of Geryon; Gibraltar, and the other pillar of Hercules; Atlantis, Plato’s Island, which he puts hereabouts; and the Fortunate Islands, Elysian Fields, or Gardens of the Hesperides, which, under different appellations, and often confounded with one another, lay in this part of the Atlantic, according to Pliny. Here, also, if we are to take Dante’s word for it, Ulysses found a grave, not unworthy of his life in the “Odyssey.” Milton ought to have come this way from Italy, instead of twice going through France: he would have found himself in a world of poetry, the unaccustomed grandeur of the sea keeping it in its original freshness, unspoilt by the commonplaces that beset us on shore: and his descriptions would have been still finer for it. It is observable, that Milton does not deal much in descriptions of the ocean, a very epic part of poetry. He has been at Homer and Apollonius, more than at sea. In one instance, he is content with giving us an ancient phrase in one half of his line, and a translation of it in the other:
“On the clear hyaline,—the glassy sea.”
The best describer of the sea, among our English poets, is
Spenser, who was conversant with the Irish Channel. Shakspeare, for an inland poet, is wonderful; but his astonishing sympathy with every thing, animate and inanimate, made him lord of the universe, without stirring from his seat. Nature brought her shows to him like a servant, and drew back for his eye the curtains of time and place. Milton and Dante speak of the ocean as of a great plain. Shakspeare talks as if he had ridden upon it, and felt its unceasing motion.
“The still-vext Bermoothes.”
What a presence is there in that epithet He draws a rocky island with its waters about it, as if he had lived there all his life; and he was the first among our dramatists to paint a sailor,—as he was to lead the way in those national caricatures of Frenchmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen.
“You, by whose aid,”
says Prospero,—
“Weak masters though ye be, I have be-dimmed
The noon-tide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,
And ’twixt the green sea and the azur’d vault
Set roaring war.
He could not have said it better, had he been buffeted with all the blinding and shrieking of a Channel storm. As to Spenser, see his comparisons of “billows in the Irish sounds;” his
“World of waters, wide and deep,”
in the first book,—much better than “the ocean floor” (suol marino) of Dante; and all the sea-pictures, both fair and stormy, in the wonderful twelfth canto of Book the Second, with its fabulous ichthyology, part of which I must quote here for the pleasure of poetical readers: for the seas ought not to be traversed without once adverting to these other shapes of their terrors—
“All dreadfull pourtraicts of deformitie;
Spring-headed hydras, and sea-shouldering whales;
Great whirle-pooles which all fishes make to flee;
Bright scolopendras, armed with silver scales;
Mighty monoceros with immeasured tayles.*

* This is the smisurato of the Italians. In the “Orlando Innamorato,” somebody comes riding on a smisurato cavallone, an immeasurable horse.

“The dreadfull fish that hath deserved the name
Of Death, and like him looks in dreadfull hew;
The griesly wasserman, that makes his game
The flying ships with swiftness to pursew;
The horrible sea-satyre, that doth shew
His fearefull face in time of greatest storm;
Huge ziffius, whom mariners eschew
No less than rocks, as travellers informe;

(How he loads his verses with a weight of apprehension, as if it was all real!)
And greedy rosmarines, with visages deforme.
“All these, and thousand thousands many more,
And more deformed monsters, thousand-fold,
With dreadfull noise and hollow rumbling rore
Came rushing, in the fomy waves enroll’d,
Which seemed to fly, for feare them to behold.
No wonder if these did the knight appall;
For all that here on earth we dreadfull hold,
Be but as bugs to fearen babes withall,
Compared to the creatures in the sea’s entr’all.”

Five dreadfulls in the course of three stanzas, and not one too many, any more than if a believing child were talking to us.

Gibraltar has a noble look, tall, hard, and independent. But you do not wish to live there:—it is a fortress, and an insulated rock, and this is but a prison. The inhabitants feed luxuriously, with the help of their fruits and smugglers.

The first sight of Africa is an achievement. Voyagers in our situation are obliged to be content with a mere sight of it; but that is much. They have seen another quarter of the globe. “Africa!” They look at it, and repeat the word, till the whole burning and savage territory, with its black inhabitants and its lions, seems put into their possession. Ceuta
and Tangier bring the old Moorish times before you; “Ape’s Hill,” which is pointed out, sounds fantastic and remote, “a wilderness of monkies;” and as all shores, on which you do not clearly distinguish objects, have a solemn and romantic look, you get rid of the petty effect of those vagabond Barbary States that occupy the coast, and think at once of Africa, the country of deserts and wild beasts, the “dry-nurse of lions;” as
Horace, with a vigour beyond himself, calls it.

At Gibraltar you first have a convincing proof of the rarity of the southern atmosphere, in the near look of the Straits, which seem but a few miles across, though they are thirteen.

But what a crowd of thoughts face one on entering the Mediterranean! Grand as the sensation is, in passing through the classical and romantic memories of the sea off the western coast of the Peninsula, it is little compared with this. Countless generations of the human race, from three quarters of the world, with all the religions, and the mythologies, and the genius, and the wonderful deeds, good and bad, that have occupied almost the whole attention of mankind, look you in the face from the galleries of that ocean-floor, rising one above another, till the tops are lost in heaven. The water at your feet is the same water that bathes the shores of Europe, of Africa, and of Asia,—of Italy and Greece, and the Holy Land, and the lands of chivalry and romance, and pastoral Sicily, and the Pyramids, and old Crete, and the Arabian city of Al Cairo, glittering in the magic lustre of the Thousand and One Nights. This soft air in your face, comes from the grove of “Daphne by Orontes;” these lucid waters, that part from before you like oil, are the same from which Venus arose, pressing them out of her hair. In that quarter Vulcan fell—
“Dropt from the zenith like a falling star:”
and there is Circe’s Island, and Calypso’s, and the promontory of
Plato, and Ulysses wandering, and Cymon and Miltiades fighting, and Regulus crossing the sea to Carthage, and
“Damasco and Morocco, and Trebisond;
And whom Biserta sent from Afric shore,
When Charlemagne with all his peerage fell
By Fontarabia.”
The mind hardly separates truth from fiction in thinking of all these things, nor does it wish to do so. Fiction is Truth in another shape, and gives as close embraces. You may shut a door upon a ruby, and render it of no colour; but the colour shall not be the less enchanting for that, when the sun, the poet of the world, touches it with his golden pen. What we glow at and shed tears over, is as real as love and pity.

At night the moon arose in a perfection of serenity, and restored the scene to the present moment. I could not help thinking, however, of Anacreon (poets are of all moments), and fancying some connexion with moonlight in the very sound of that beautiful verse in which he speaks of the vernal softness of the waves:—
“Apalunetai galene.”
I write the verse in English characters, that every reader may taste it.
All our Greek beauties why should schools engross?
I used to feel grateful to
Fielding and Smollett, when a boy, for writing their Greek in English. It is like catching a bit of a beautiful song, though one does not know the words.


27. Almost a calm. We proceeded at no greater rate than a mile an hour. I kept repeating to myself the word Mediterranean; not the word in prose, but the word in verse, as it stands at the beginning of the line:
“And the sea
We saw the mountains about Malaga, topped with snow. Velez Malaga is probably the place at which
Cervantes landed on his return from captivity at Algiers. (See Don Quixote, Vol. ii. p. 208. Sharpe’s edition.) I had the pleasure of reading the passage, while crossing the line betwixt the two cities. It is something to sail by the very names of Granada and Andalusia. There was a fine sunset over the hills of Granada. I imagined it lighting up the Alhambra. The clouds were like great wings of gold and yellow and rose-colour, with a smaller minute sprinkle in one spot, like a shower of glowing stones from a volcano. You see very faint imitations of such lustre in England. A heavy dew succeeded; and a contrary wind at south-east, but very mild. At night, the reflection of the moon on the water was like silver snakes.

We had contrary winds for several days in succession, but nothing to signify after our winter. On the 28th we saw a fire at night on the coast of Granada, and similar lights on the hills. The former was perhaps made by smugglers, the latter in burning charcoal or heath. A gull came to us next day, hanging in the air, like the dove in the picture, a few yards distance from the trysail, and occasionally dipping in the water for fish. It had a small head, and long beak, like a snipe’s; wings tipped with black. It reminded us of Mr. Coleridge’s poem; which my eldest boy, in the teeth of his father’s rhymes, has the impu-
dence to think (now, as he did then) the finest poem in the world. We may say of the “
Ancient Mariner,” what is only to be said of the very finest poems, that it is equally calculated to please the imaginations of the most childlike boy and the profoundest man; extremes, which meet in those superhuman places; and superhuman, in a sense exquisitely human, as well as visionary. I believe Mr. Coleridge’s young admirer would have been as much terrified at shooting this albatross, as the one the poet speaks of; not to mention that he could not be quite sure it was a different one.

30. Passed Cape de Gata. My wife was very ill, but gladly observed that illness itself was not illness, compared to what she experienced in the winter voyage. She never complained, summer or winter. It is very distressing not to be able to give perfect comfort to patients of this generous description. The Mediterranean Sea, after the Channel, was like a bason of gold fish; but when the winds are contrary, the waves of it have a short uneasy motion, that fidget the vessel, and make one long for the nobler billows of the Atlantic. The wind too was singularly unpleasant,—moist and feverish. It continued contrary for several days, but became more agreeable, and sunk almost into a calm on the 3d of June. It is difficult for people on shore, in spite of their geographical knowledge, not to suppose that the view is very extensive at sea. Intermediate objects being out of the way, and the fancy taking wing like the dove of Noah, they imagine the “ocean-floor,” as the poets call it, stretching in an interminable level all round, or bounded by an enormous horizon; whereas, the range of vision is limited to a circumference of about fourteen miles, and the uninterrupted concave of the horizon all round, completes the look of enclosure and limitation. A man on the top of a moderate hill, may see four or five times as far as from the
mainmast of a man-of-war. In the thin atmosphere of the south, the horizon appears to be still more circumscribed. You seem to have but a few miles around you, and can hardly help fancying that the sea is on a miniature scale, proportioned to its delicacy of behaviour.

On the day above-mentioned, we saw the land between Cape St. Martin and Alicant. The coast hereabouts is all of the same rude and grey character. From this night to the next it was almost a calm, when a more favourable wind sprang up at east-south-east. The books with which I chiefly amused myself in the Mediterranean, were “Don Quixote,” (for reasons which will be obvious to the reader,) “Ariosto” and “Berni,” (for similar reasons, their heroes having to do with the coasts of France and Africa,) and Bayle’s admirable “Essay on Comets,” which I picked up at Plymouth. It is the book that put an end to the superstition about comets. It is full of amusement, like all his dialectics; and holds together a perfect chain-armour of logic, the handler of which may also cut his fingers with it at every turn, almost every link containing a double edge. A generation succeeds quietly to the good done it by such works, and its benefactor’s name is sunk in the washy, churchwarden pretensions of those whom he has enriched. As to what seems defective in Bayle on the score of natural piety, the reader may supply that. A benevolent work, tending to do away real dishonour to things supernatural, will be no hindrance to any benevolent addition which others can bring it; nor would Bayle, with his good-natured face, and the scholarly simplicity of his life, have found fault with it. But he was a soldier, after his fashion, with the qualities, both positive and negative, fit to keep him one; and some things must be dispensed with, in such a case, on the side of what is desirable, for the sake of the part
that is taken in the overthrow of what is detestable, Him whom inquisitors hate, angels may love.

All day, on the 5th, we were off the island of Yvica. The wind was contrary again till evening. Yvica was about ten miles off, when nearest. It has a barren look, with its rock in front. Spain was in sight; before and beyond, Cape St. Martin. The high land of Spain above the clouds had a look really mountainous. After having the sea to ourselves for a long while, we saw a vessel in our own situation, beating to wind and tide. Sympathy is sometimes cruel as well as kind. One likes to have a companion in misfortune. At night fell a calm.

6th. It was a grand thing this evening, to see on one side of us the sunset, and on the other night already on the sea. “Ruit oceano nox.” It is not true that there is no twilight in the south, but it is very brief; and before the day is finished on one side, night is on the other. You turn, and behold it unexpectedly,—a black shade that fills one end of the horizon, and seems at once brooding and coming on. One sight like this, to a Hesiod or a Thales, is sufficient to fill poetry for ever with those images of brooding, and of raven wings, and the birth of Chaos, which are associated with the mythological idea of night. To-day we hailed a ship bound for Nice, which would not tell us the country she came from. Questions put by one vessel to another are frequently refused an answer, for reasons of knavery or supposed policy. It was curious to hear our rough and informal captain speaking through his trumpet with all the precision and loud gravity of a preacher. There is a formula in use on these occasions, that has an old and scriptural effect. A ship descried, appears to the sailors like a friend visiting them in prison. All hands are interested: all eyes turn to the same quarter; the business
of the vessel is suspended; and such as have licence to do so, crowd on the gangway; the captain, with an air of dignity, having his trumpet brought him. You think that “What cheer, ho!” is to follow, or “Well, my lads, who are you; and where are you going?” Not so: the captain applies his mouth with a pomp of preparation, and you are startled with the following primitive shouts, all uttered in a high formal tone, with due intervals between, as if a Calvinistic Stentor were questioning a man from the land of Goshen.
“What is your name?”
“Whence come you?”
“Whither are you bound?”
After the question “What is your name?” all ears are bent to listen. The answer comes, high and remote, nothing perhaps being distinguished of it but the vowels. The “Sall-of-Hym,” you must translate into the Sally of Plymouth. “Whence come you?” All ears bent again. “Myr” or “Mau,” is Smyrria or Malta. “Whither are you bound?” All ears again. No answer. “D—d if he’ll tell,” cries the captain, laying down at once his trumpet and his scripture.

7th. Saw the Colombrettes, and the land about Torfosa. Here commences the classical ground of Italian romance. It was on this part of the west of Spain, that the Paynim chivalry used to land, to go against Charlemagne. Here Orlando played the tricks that got him the title of Furioso; and from the port of Barcelona, Angelica and Medoro took ship for her dominion of Cathay. I confess I looked at these shores with a human interest, and could not help fancying that the keel of our vessel was crossing a real line, over which knights and lovers had passed. And so they have, both real and fabulous; the former not less romantic, the latter scarcely less real; to thousands, indeed, much more so;
for who knows of hundreds of real men and women, that have crossed these waters, and suffered actual passion on those shores and hills? and who knows not Orlando and all the hard blows he gave, and the harder blow than all given him by two happy lovers; and the lovers themselves, the representatives of all the young love that ever was? I had a grudge of my own against Angelica, looking upon myself as jilted by those fine eyes which the painter has given her in the English picture; for I took her for a more sentimental person; but I excused her, seeing her beset and tormented by all those very meritorious knights, who thought they earned a right to her by hacking and hewing; and I more than pardoned her, when I found that Medoro, besides being young and handsome, was a friend and a devoted follower. But what of that? They were both young and handsome; and love, at that time of life, goes upon no other merits, taking all the rest upon trust in the generosity of its wealth, and as willing to bestow a throne as a ribbon, to show the all-sufficiency of its contentment. Fair speed your sails over the lucid waters, ye lovers, on a lover-like sea! Fair speed them, yet never land; for where the poet has left you, there ought ye, as ye are, to be living for ever—for ever gliding about a summer-sea, touching at its flowery islands, and reposing beneath its moon.

The blueness of the water about these parts was excessive, especially in the shade next the vessel’s side. The gloss of the sunshine was there taken off, and the colour was exactly that of the bottles sold in the shops with gold stoppers. In the shadows caused by the more transparent medium of the sails, an exquisite radiance was thrown up, like light struck out of a great precious stone. These colours, contrasted with the yellow of the horizon at sunset, formed one of those spectacles of beauty, which it is difficult to believe not intended to delight many more spec-
tators than can witness them with human eyes. Earth and sea are full of gorgeous pictures, which seem made for a nobler and certainly a more numerous admiration, than is found among ourselves. Individuals may roam the loveliest country for a summer’s day, and hardly meet a person bound on the same enjoyment as themselves. Does human nature flatter itself that all this beauty was made for its dull and absent eyes, gone elsewhere to poke about for pence? Or, if so, is there not to be discerned in it a new and religious reason for being more alive to the wholesome riches of nature, and less to those carking cares and unneighbourly emulations of cities?

8th. Calm till evening, when a fairer wind arose, which continued all night. There was a divine sunset over the mouth of the Ebro,—majestic, dark-embattled clouds, with an intense sun venting itself above and below like a Shekinah, and the rest of the heaven covered with large flights of little burnished and white clouds. It was what is called in England a mackarel sky,—an appellation which may serve to show how much inferior it is to a sky of the same mottled description in the south. All colours in the north are comparatively cold and fishy. You have only to see a red cap under a Mediterranean sun, to be convinced that our painters will never emulate those of Italy as our poets have done. They are birds of a different clime, and are modified accordingly. They do not live upon the same lustrous food, and will never show it in their plumage. Poetry is the internal part, or sentiment, of what is material; and therefore, our thoughts being driven inwards, and rendered imaginative by these very defects of climate which discolour to us the external world, we have had among us some of the greatest poets that ever existed. It is observable, that the greatest poets of Italy came from Tuscany, where there is a great deal of inclemency in the seasons. The
painters were from Venice, Rome, and other quarters; some of which, though more northern, are more genially situated. The hills about Florence made
Petrarch and Dante well acquainted with winter; and they were also travellers, and unfortunate. These are mighty helps to reflection. Titian and Raphael had nothing to do but to paint under a blue sky half the day, and play with their mistress’s locks all the rest of it. Let a painter in cloudy and bill-broking England do this, if he can.

9th. Completely fair wind at south-west. Saw Montserrat. The sun, reflected on the water from the lee studding-sail, was like shot silk. At half-past seven in the evening, night was risen in the east, while the sun was setting opposite. “Black night has come up already,” said the captain. A fair breeze all night and all next day, took us on at the rate of about five miles an hour, very refreshing after the calms and foul winds. We passed the Gulf of Lyons still more pleasantly than we did the Bay of Biscay, for in the latter there was a calm. In both of these places, a little rough handling is generally looked for. A hawk settled on the main-yard, and peered about the birdless main.

11. Light airs not quite fair, till noon, when they returned and were somewhat stronger. (I am thus particular in my daily notices, both to complete the reader’s sense of the truth of my narrative, and to give him the benefit of them in case he goes the same road.) The land about Toulon was now visible, and then the Hieres Islands, a French paradise of oranges and sweet airs—
“Cheer’d with the grateful smell, old Ocean smiles.”—
The perfume exhaling from these, and other flowery coasts is no fable, as every one knows who has passed Gibraltar and the coast of Genoa.
M. le Franc de Pompignan, in some verses of the commonest French
manufacture, tells us, with respect to the Hieres Islands, that Vertumnus, Pomona, Zephyr, &c. “reign there always,” and that the place is “the asylum of their loves, and the throne of their empire.” Very private and public!
“Vertumne, Pomone, Zéphyre
Avec Flore y règnent toujours;
C’est l’asyle lie leurs amours,
Et le trone de leur empire.”

It was the coast of Provence we were now looking upon, the land of the Troubadours. It seemed but a short cut over to Tripoli, where Geoffrey Rudel went to look upon his mistress and die. But our attention was called off by a less romantic spectacle, a sight unpleasant to an Englishman,—the union flag of Genoa and Sardinia hoisted on a boat. An independent flag of any kind is something; a good old battered and conquered one is much; but this bit of the Holy Alliance livery, patched up among his brother servants, by poor Lord Castlereagh, and making its bow in the very seas where Andrew Doria feasted an Emperor and refused a sovereignty, was a baulk, of a very melancholy kind of burlesque. The Sardinian was returning with empty wine casks from the French coast; a cargo, which, at the hour of the day when we saw it, probably bore the liveliest possible resemblance to the heads whom he served. The wind fell in the evening, and there was a dead calm all night. At eleven o’clock, a grampus was heard breathing very hard, but we could not see it on account of the mists, the only ones we had experienced in the Mediterranean. These sounds of great fish in the night-time are very imposing, the creature displacing a world of water about it, as it dips and rises at intervals on its billowy path.


12th. During the night we must have crossed the path which Bonaparte took to Antibes from Elba. We went over it as unconsciously as he now travels round with the globe in his long sleep. Talking with the captain to-day, I learnt that his kindred and he monopolize the whole employment of his owner, and that his father served in it thirty-three years out of fifty. There is always something respectable in continuity and duration, where it is maintained by no ignoble means. If this family should continue to be masters and conductors of vessels for two or three generations more, especially in the same interest, they will have a sort of moral pedigree to show, far beyond those of many proud families, who do nothing at all because their ancestors did something a hundred years back. I will here set down a memorandum, with regard to vessels, which may be useful. The one we sailed in was marked A. I. in the shipping list: that is to say, it stood in the first class of the first rank of sea-worthy vessels; and it is in vessels of this class that people are always anxious to sail. In the present instance, the ship was worthy of the rank it bore: so was the one we buffeted the Channel in; or it would not have held out. But this mark of prime worthiness, A. I., a vessel is allowed to retain only ten years; the consequence of which is, that many ships are built to last only that time; and goods and lives are often entrusted to a weak vessel, instead of one which, though twice as old, is in twice as good condition. The best way is to get a friend who knows something of the matter, to make inquiries; and the seaworthiness of the captain himself, his standing with his employers, &c. might as well be added to the list.

13th. The Alps! It was the first time I had seen mountains. They had a fine sulky look, up aloft in the sky,—cold, lofty, and distant. I
used to think that mountains would impress me but little; that by the same process of imagination reversed, by which a brook can be fancied a mighty river, with forests instead of verdure on its banks, a mountain could be made a mole-hill, over which we step. But one look convinced me to the contrary. I found I could elevate, better than I could pull down, and I was glad of it. It was not that the sight of the Alps was necessary to convince me of “the being of a God,” as it is said to have done
Mr. Moore, or to put me upon any reflections respecting infinity and first causes, of which I have had enough in my time; but I seemed to meet for the first time a grand poetical thought in a material shape,—to see a piece of one’s book-wonders realized,—something very earthly, yet standing between earth and heaven, like a piece of the antediluvian world looking out of the coldness of ages. I remember reading in a Review a passage from some book of travels, which spoke of the author’s standing on the sea-shore, and being led by the silence, and the abstraction, and the novel grandeur of the objects around him, to think of the earth, not in its geographical divisions, but as a planet in connexion with other planets, and rolling in the immensity of space. With these thoughts I have been familiar, as I suppose every one has been who knows what solitude is, and has an imagination, and perhaps not the best health. But we grow used to the mightiest aspects of thought, as we do to the immortal visages of the moon and stars: and therefore the first sight of the Alps, though much less things than any of these, and a toy, as I thought, for imagination to recreate itself with after their company, startles us like the disproof of a doubt, or the verification of an early dream,—a ghost, as it were, made visible by daylight, and giving us an enormous sense of its presence and materiality.


In the course of the day, we saw the table-land about Monaco. It brought to my mind the ludicrous distress of the petty prince of that place, when on his return from interchanging congratulations with his new masters—the legitimates, he suddenly met his old master, Napoleon, on his return from Elba. Or did he meet him when going to Elba? I forget which; but the distresses and confusion of the Prince were at all events as certain, as the superiority and amusement of the great man. In either case, this was the natural division of things, and the circumstances would have been the same. A large grampus went by, heaping the water into clouds of foam. Another time, we saw a shark with his fin above water, which, I believe, is his constant way of going. The Alps were now fully and closely seen, and a glorious sunset took place. There was the greatest grandeur and the loveliest beauty. Among others was a small string of clouds, like rubies with facets, a very dark tinge being put here and there, as if by a painter, to set off the rest. Red is certainly the colour of beauty, and ruby the most beautiful of reds. It was in no commonplace spirit that Marlowe, in his list of precious stones, called them “beauteous rubies,” but with exquisite gusto —
“Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts,
Jacinths, hard topas, grass-green emeralds,
Beauteous rubies, sparkling diamonds,” &c.
They come upon you, among the rest, like the women of gems. All these colours we had about us in our Mediterranean sunsets; and as if fortune would add to them by a freak of fancy, a little shoal of fish, sparkling as silver, leaped out of the water this afternoon, like a sprinkle of shillings. They were the anchovies, or Sardinias, that we eat. They
give a burlesque title to the sovereign of these seas, whom the Tuscans call “King of the Sardinias.”

We were now sailing up the angle of the Gulf of Genoa, its shore looking as Italian as possible, with groves and white villages. The names too were alluring,—Oneglia, Albenga, Savoria; the last, the birthplace of a sprightly poet, (Frugoni,) whose works I was acquainted with. The breeze was the strongest we had had yet, and not quite fair, but we made good head against it; the queen-like city of Genoa, crowned with white palaces, sat at the end of the Gulf, as if to receive us in state; and at two o’clock, the waters being as blue as the sky, and all hearts rejoicing, we entered our Italian harbour, and heard Italian words.

Luckily for us, these first words were Tuscan. A pilot-boat came out. Somebody asked a question which we did not hear, and the captain replied to it. “Va bene,” said the pilot in a fine open voice, and turned the head of the boat with a tranquil dignity. “Va bene,” thought I, indeed. “All goes well” truly. The words are delicious, and the omen good. My family have arrived so far in safety; we have but a little more voyage to make, a few steps to measure back in this calm Mediterranean; the weather is glorious; Italy looks like what we expected; in a day or two we shall hear of our friends: health and peace are before us, pleasure to others and profit to ourselves; and it is hard if we do not enjoy again, before long, the society of all our friends, both abroad and at home. In a day or two we received a letter from Mr. Shelley, saying that winds and waves, he hoped, would never part us more.

I intended to put below, in a note, what remarks I had made in another publication, respecting the city of Genoa; but they have been re-published in the compilation noticed in this work, purporting to
be an account of the “
Life and Times of Lord Byron.” It is a compliment a little on the side of the free order of things, but such as I have never been inclined to complain of, especially where the compiler, as in the present instance, is polite in his petty larceny, and helps himself to your property in the style of Du Val.

In the harbour of Genoa, we lay next a fine American vessel, the captain of which, I thought, played the great man in a style beyond any thing I had seen in our English merchantmen. On the other side of us, was an Englishman, as fragile as the other was stout-built. Yet the captain, who was a strange fish, with a dialect more uncouth than any of us had heard, talked of its weathering the last winter capitally, and professed not to care any thing for a gale of wind, which he called a “gal o’ wined.” We here met with our winter vessel, looking as gay and summery as you please, and having an awning stretched over the deck, under which the captain politely invited us to dine. I went, and had the pleasure of meeting our friend the mate, and a good-natured countryman, residing at Genoa, who talked much of a French priest whom he knew, and whom he called “the prate.” Our former companions, in completing their voyage, had had a bad time of it in the gulf of Lyons, during which the ship was completely under water, the cook-house and bulwarks, &c. were carried away, and the men were obliged to be taken aft into the cabin two nights together. We had reason to bless ourselves that my wife was not there; for this would infallibly have put an end to her.

On the 28th of June, we set sail for Leghorn. The weather was still as fine as possible, and our concluding trip as agreeable; with the exception of a storm of thunder and lightning one night, which was the completest I ever saw. Our newspaper friend, “the oldest man living,”
ought to have been there to see it. The lightning fell in all parts of the sea, like pillars; or like great melted fires, suddenly dropt from a giant torch. Now it pierced the sea, like rods; now fell like enormous flakes or tongues, suddenly swallowed up. At one time, it seemed to confine itself to a dark corner of the ocean, making formidable shows of gigantic and flashing lances, (for it was the most perpendicular lightning I ever saw): then it dashed broadly at the whole sea, as if it would sweep us away in flame; and then came in random portions about the vessel, treading the waves hither and thither, like the legs of fiery spirits descending in wrath. I then had a specimen (and confess I was not sorry to see it) of the fear which could enter even into the hearts of our “gallant heroes,” when thrown into an unusual situation. The captain, almost the only man unmoved, or apparently so, (and I really believe he was as fearless on all occasions, as his native valour, to say nothing of his brandy and water, could make him) was so exasperated with the unequivocal alarm depicted in the faces of some of his crew, that be-dashed his hand contemptuously at the poor fellow at the helm, and called him a coward. For our parts, having no fear of thunder and lightning, and not being fully aware perhaps of the danger to which vessels are exposed on these occasions, particularly if like our Channel friend they carry gunpowder (as most of them do, more or less) we were quite at our ease, compared with our inexperienced friends about us, who had never witnessed any thing of the like before, even in books. Besides, we thought it impossible for the Mediterranean to play us any serious trick,—that sunny and lucid basin, which we had beheld only in its contrast with a northern and a winter sea. Little did we think, that in so short a space of time, and somewhere about this very spot, a catastrophe would take
place, that should put an end to all sweet thoughts both of the Mediterranean and the South.

Our residence at Pisa and Genoa has been already described, I must therefore request the reader to indulge me in a dramatic license, and allow us to grow three years older in the course of as many lines. By this time he will suppose us leaving Genoa for Florence. We were obliged to travel in the height of an Italian summer; which did no good to any of us. The children, living temperately, and not having yet got any cares on their shoulders, which temperance could not remove, soon recovered. It was otherwise with the rest; but there is a habit in being ill, as in every thing else; and we disposed ourselves to go through our task of endurance, as cheerfully as might be.

In Genoa you heard nothing in the streets but the talk of money. I hailed it is a good omen in Florence, that the two first words which caught my ears, were Flowers and Women (Fiori and Donne). The night of our arrival we put up at an hotel in a very public street, and were kept awake (as agreeably as fever would let us be) by songs and guitars. It was one of the pleasantest pieces of the south we had experienced: and, for the moment, we lived in the Italy of books. One performer, to a jovial accompaniment, sang a song about somebody’s fair wife (bianca moglie), which set the street in roars of laughter. From the hotel we went into a lodging in the street of Beautiful Women—Via delle Belle Donne—a name which it is a sort of tune to pronounce. We there heard one night a concert in the street; and looking out, saw music-stands, books, &c. in regular order, and amateurs performing as in a room. Opposite our lodging was an inscription on a house pur-
porting that it was the Hospital of the Monks of Vallombrosa. Wherever you turned was music or a graceful memory. From the Via delle Belle Donne we went to live in the Piazza Santa Croce, next to the church of that name containing the ashes of
Michael Angelo.

On the other side of it was the monastery, in which Pope Sixtus V. went stooping as if in decrepitude; “looking,” as he said afterwards, “for the keys of St. Peter.” We lodged in the house of a Greek, who came from the island of Andros, and was called Dionysius; a name, which has existed there perhaps ever since the god who bore it. Our host was a proper Bacchanalian, always drunk, and spoke faster than I ever heard. He had a “fair Andrian” for his mother, old and ugly, whose name was Bella.

The church of Santa Croce would disappoint you as much inside as out, if the presence of the remains of Great Men did not always cast a mingled shadow of the awful and beautiful over one’s thought. Any large space also, devoted to the purposes of religion, though the religion be false, disposes the mind to the loftiest of speculations. The vaulted sky out of doors appears small, compared with the opening into immensity represented by that very enclosure,—that larger dwelling than common, entered by a little door; and we take off our hats, not so much out of earthly respect, as with the feeling that there should be nothing between our heads and the air of the next world.

Agreeably to our old rustic propensities, we did not stop long in the city. We left Santa Croce to live at Maiano, a village on the slope of one of the Fiesolan hills, about two miles off. I passed there a very disconsolate time; yet the greatest comfort I experienced in Italy was from living in that neighbourhood, and thinking, as I went about, of Boccaccio. Boccaccio’s father had a house at Maiano, sup-
posed to have been situate at the Fiesolan extremity of the hamlet. That divine writer (whose sentiment outweighed his levity a hundred fold, as a fine face is oftener serious than it is merry) was so fond of the place, that he has not only laid the two scenes of the
Decameron on each side of it, with the valley his company resorted to in the middle, but has made the two little streams that embrace Maiano, the Affrico and the Mensola, the hero and heroine of his Nimphale Fiesolano. A lover and his vestal mistress are changed into them, after the fashion of Ovid. The scene of another of his works is on the banks of the Mugnone, a river a little distant: and the Decameron is full of the neighbouring villages. Out of the windows of one side of our house, we saw the turret of the Villa Gherardi, to which his “joyous company” resorted in the first instance;—a house belonging to the Macchiavelli was nearer, a little to the left; and further to the left, among the blue hills, was the white village of Settignano, where Michael Angelo was born. The house is still remaining in possession of the family. From our windows on the other side we saw, close to us, the Fiesole of antiquity and of Milton, the site of the Boccaccio-house before-mentioned still closer, the Valley of Ladies at our feet; and we looked over towards the quarter of the Mugnone and of a house of Dante, and in the distance beheld the mountains of Pistoia. Lastly, from the terrace in front, Florence lay clear and cathedralled before us, with the scene of Redi’s Bacchus rising on the other side of it, and the Villa of Arcetri, illustrious for Galileo.

But I stuck to my Boccaccio haunts, as to an old home. I lived with the divine human being, with his friends of the Falcon and the Basil, and my own not unworthy melancholy; and went about the flowering lanes and hills, solitary indeed, and sick to the heart, but not unsus-
tained. In looking back to such periods of one’s existence, one is surprised to find how much they surpass many occasions of mirth, and what a rich tone of colour their very darkness assumes, as in some fine old painting. My almost daily walk was to Fiesole, through a path skirted with wild myrtle and cyclamen; and I stopped at the cloister of the Doccia, and sat on the pretty melancholy platform behind it, reading, or looking through the pines down to Florence. In the Valley of Ladies, I found some English trees (trees not vine and olive) and even a meadow; and these, while I made them furnish me with a bit of my old home in the north, did no injury to the memory of Boccaccio, who is of all countries, and finds his home wherever we do ourselves, in love, in the grave, in a desert island.

But I had other friends too not far off, English, and of the right sort. My friend, Mr. Brown, occupied for a time the little convent of St. Baldassare, near Maiano, where he represented the body corporate of the former possessors with all the joviality of a comfortable natural piety. The closet in his study, where the church treasures had most likely been kept, was filled with the humanities of modern literature, not less Christian for being a little sceptical: and we had a zest in fancying that we discoursed of love and wine in the apartments of the Lady Abbess. I remember I had the pleasure of telling an Italian gentleman there the joke attributed to the Reverend Mr. Sydney Smith, about sitting next a man at table, who had “a seven-parson power;” and he understood it, and rolled with laughter, crying out—“Oh, ma bello! ma bellissimo!” There, too, I had the pleasure of dining in company with an English beauty, (Mrs. W.) who appeared to be such as Boccaccio might have admired, capable both of mirth and gravity; and she had a child with her that reflected her graces. The appearance of one of
these young English mothers among Italian women, is like domesticity among the passions. It is a pity when you return to England, that the generality of faces do not keep up the charm. You are then too apt to think, that an Italian beauty among English women would look like poetry among the sullens.

My friend B. removed to Florence; and together with the books and newspapers, made me a city visitor. I there became acquainted with Mr. Landor, to whose talents I had made the amende honorable the year before; and with Mr. Kirkup, an English artist, who is poor enough, I fear, neither in purse nor accomplishment, to cultivate his profession as he ought; and so beloved by his friends, that they must get at a distance from him before they can tell him of it. And yet I know not why they should; for a man of a more cordial generosity, with greater delicacy in showing it, I have never met with: and such men deserve the compliment of openness. They know how to receive it. To the list of my acquaintances, I had the honour of adding Lord Dillon, who in the midst of an exuberance of temperament more than national, conceals a depth of understanding, and a genuine humanity of knowledge, to which proper justice is not done in consequence. The vegetation and the unstable ground divert suspicion from the ore beneath it. I remember his saying something one evening about a very ill-used description of persons in the London streets, for which Shakspeare might have taken him by the hand; though the proposition came in so startling a shape, that the company were obliged to be shocked in self-defence. The gallant Viscount is not the better for being a Lord. I never knew, or read of a clever man, that was. It makes the most natural men artificial, and perplexes them with contradictory ambitions. A proper Lord, being constituted of nothing, judiciously consents to remain so,
and avoids trenching upon realities. I must also take leave to doubt, whether
Roscommon will not remain the greatest poet among the Dillons, notwithstanding the minaccie of Ezzelino. But his Lordship is not the less worthy of a race of intelligent men and noble adventurers. He is a cavalier of the old school of the Meadowses and Newcastles, with something of the O’Neal superadded; and instead of wasting his words upon tyrants or Mr. Pitt, ought to have been eternally at the head of his brigade, charging on his war-horse, and meditating romantic stories.

Mr. Landor, who has long been known to scholars as a Latin poet beyond the elegance of centos, and has lately shown himself one of our most powerful writers of prose, is a man of a vehement nature, with great delicacy of imagination. He is like a stormy mountain pine, that should produce lilies. After indulging the partialities of his friendships and enmities, and trampling on kings and ministers, he shall cool himself, like a Spartan worshipping a moon-beam, in the patient meekness of Lady Jane Grey. I used to think he did wrong in choosing to write Latin verse instead of English. The opinions he has expressed on that subject, in the eloquent treatise appended to his Latin poems, will, I am sure, hardly find a single person to agree with them. But as an individual, working out his own case, I think he was right in giving way to the inspiration of his scholarship. Independent, learned, and leisurely, with a temperament, perhaps, rather than a mind, poetical, he walked among the fields of antiquity, till he beheld the forms of poetry with the eyes of their inhabitants; and it is agreeable, as a variety, among the crowds of ordinary scholars, especially such as affect to think the great modern poets little ones because they are not ancient, to have one who can really fancy and feel with Ovid and Catullus, as well as read them.
Mr. Landor has the veneration for all poetry, ancient or modern, that belongs to a scholar who is himself a poet. He loves
Chaucer and Spenser, as well as Homer. That he deserves the title, the reader will be convinced on opening his book of “Idyls,” where the first thing he encounters will be the charming duel between Cupid and Pan, full of fancy and archness, with a deeper emotion at the end. His “Lyrics,” with the exception of a pretty vision about Ceres and her poppies, (which is in the spirit of an Idyl,) do not appear to me so good: but upon the whole though it is a point on which I am bound to speak with diffidence, he seems to me by far the best Latin poet we possess, after Milton; more in good taste than the incorrectness and diffuseness of Cowley; and not to be lowered by a comparison with the mimic elegancies of Addison. Vincent Bourne, I conceive to be a genuine hand; but I know him only in a piece or two.

Mr. Landor was educated at Rugby, and became afterwards the friend and favourite pupil of Dr. Parr. With a library, the smallness of which surprised me, and which he must furnish out, when he writes on English subjects, by the help of a rich memory,—he lives, among his paintings and hospitalities, in a style of unostentatious elegance, very becoming a scholar that can afford it. The exile, in which he chooses to continue at present, is as different from that of his friend Ovid, as his Tristia would have been, had he thought proper to write any. Augustus would certainly have found no whining in him, much less any worship. He has some fine children, with whom he plays like a real schoolboy, being, in truth, as ready to complain of an undue knock, as he is to laugh, shout, and scramble; and his wife (I really do not know whether I ought to take these liberties, but the nature of the book into which I have been beguiled must excuse me, and ladies must take the consequence
of being agreeable),—his wife would have made Ovid’s loneliness quite another thing, with her face radiant with good-humour. Mr. Landor’s conversation is lively and unaffected, as full of scholarship or otherwise as you may desire, and dashed now and then with a little superfluous will and vehemence, when he speaks of his likings and dislikes. His laugh is in peals, and climbing: he seems to fetch every fresh one from a higher story. Speaking of the Latin poets of antiquity, I was struck with an observation of his; that Ovid was the best-natured of them all.
Horace’s perfection that way he doubted. He said, that Ovid had a greater range of pleasurable ideas, and was prepared to do justice to every thing that came in his way. Ovid was fond of noticing his rivals in wit and genius, and has recorded the names of a great number of his friends; whereas Horace seems to confine his eulogies to such as were rich or in fashion, and well received at court.

When the “Liberal” was put an end to, I had contributed some articles to a new work set up by my brother, called the “Literary Examiner.” Being too ill at Florence to continue these, I did what I could, and had recourse to the lightest and easiest translation I could think of, which was that of Redi’sBacco in Toscana.” I believe it fell dead-born from the press: Like the wines it recorded, it would not keep. Indeed it was not very likely that the English public should take much interest in liquors not their own, and enthusiastic allusions to times and places with which they had no sympathy. Animal spirits also require to be read by animal spirits, or at least by a melancholy so tempered as to consider them rather as desirable than fantastic:—perhaps my own relish of the original was not sprightly enough at the time to do it justice; and, at all events, it is requisite that what a man does say in his vivacity should not be doubly spoilt in the conveyance.
Bell’s Edition of Shakspeare, is said to have been the worst edition ever put forth of a British author. Perhaps the translation of the “Bacchus in Tuscany” was the worst ever printed. It was mystified with upwards of fifty mistakes.

At Maiano, I wrote the articles which appeared in the “Examiner,” under the title of the “Wishing Cap.” It was a very genuine title. When I put on my cap, and pitched myself in imagination into the thick of Covent-Garden, the pleasure I received was so vivid,—I turned the corner of a street so much in the ordinary course of things, and was so tangibly present to the pavement, the shop-windows, the people, and a thousand agreeable recollections which looked me naturally in the face, that sometimes when I walk there now, the impression seems hardly more real. I used to feel as if I actually pitched my soul there, and that spiritual eyes might have seen it shot over from Tuscany into York-street, like a rocket. It is much pleasanter, however, on waking up, to find soul and body together in one’s favourite neighbourhood: yes, even than among thy olives and vines, Boccaccio! I not only missed “the town” in Italy; I missed my old trees,—oaks and elms. Tuscany, in point of wood, is nothing but an olive-ground and vineyard. I saw there, how it was, that some persons when they return from Italy say it has no wood, and some a great deal. The fact is, that many parts of it, Tuscany included, has no wood to speak of; and it wants larger trees interspersed with the smaller ones, in the manner of our hedge-row elms. A tree of a reasonable height is a Godsend. The olives are low and hazy-looking, like dry sallows. You have plenty of those; but to an Englishman, looking from a height, they appear little better than brushwood. Then there are no meadows, no proper green lanes (at least, I saw none), no paths leading over field and style, no hay-fields in June,
nothing of that luxurious combination of green and russet, of grass, wild flowers, and woods, over which a lover of Nature can stroll for hours with a foot as fresh as the stag’s; unvexed with chalk, dust, and an eternal public path; and able to lie down, if he will, and sleep in clover. In short, (saving a little more settled weather,) we have the best part of Italy in books, be it what it may; and this we can enjoy in England. Give me Tuscany in Middlesex or Berkshire, and the Valley of Ladies between Harrow and Jack Straw’s Castle. The proud names and flinty ruins above the Mensola may keep their distance. Boccaccio shall build a bower for us, out of his books, of all that we choose to import; and we will have daisies and fresh meadows besides. An Italian may prefer his own country after the same fashion; and he is right. I knew a young Englishwoman, who, having grown up in Tuscany, thought the landscapes of her native country insipid, and could not imagine how people could live without walks in vineyards. To me Italy has a certain hard taste in the mouth. Its mountains are too bare, its outlines too sharp, its lanes too stony, its voices too loud, its long summer too dusty. I longed to bathe myself in the grassy balm of my native fields. But I was ill, uncomfortable, in a perpetual fever; and critics, if they are candid, should give us a list of the infirmities, under which they sit down to estimate what they differ with. What returns of sick and wounded we should have at the head of some of our periodicals!

Before I left Italy, I had the pleasure of frightening the Tuscan government by proposing to set up a compilation from the English Magazines. They are rarely seen in that quarter, though our countrymen are numerous. In the year 1825, two hundred English families were said to be resident in Florence. In Rome, visitors, though not families, were more numerous; and the publication, for little cost, might have been
sent all over Italy. The plan was to select none but the very best articles, and follow them with an original one commenting upon their beauties, and making the English in Italy well acquainted with our living authors. But the Tuscan authorities were fairly struck with consternation. “You must submit the publication to a censorship.”—“Be it so.”—“But you must let them see every sheet, before it goes to press, in order that there may be no religion or politics.”—“Very well:—to please the reverend censors, I will have no religion: politics also are out of the question.”—“Ay, but politics may creep in.”—“They shall not.”—“Ah, but they may creep in, without your being aware; and then what is to be done?”—“Why, if neither the editor nor the censors are aware, I do not see that any very vivid impression need be apprehended with regard to the public.”—“That appears very plausible; but how if the censors do not understand English?”—“There indeed you have me. All I can say is, that the English understand the censors, and I see we must drop our intended work.”—This was the substance of a discourse I had with the bookseller, after communication with the authorities. The prospectus had been drawn out; the bookseller had rubbed his hands at it, thinking of the money which the
Byrons and Walter Scotts of England were preparing for him; but he was obliged to give in. “Ah,” said he to me in his broken English, as he sat in winter-time with cold feet and an irritable face, pretending to keep himself warm by tantalizing the tip of his fingers over a little basin of charcoal,—“Ah, you are veree happee in England; you can get so much money as you please.”

It was a joyful day that enabled us to return to England. I will quote a letter which a friend has preserved, giving an account of the first part of our journey; for these things are best told while the impression is most lively. * * * * * * *


“I had a proper Bacchanalian parting with Florence. A stranger and I cracked a bottle together in high style. He ran against me with a flask of wine in his hand, and divided it gloriously between us. It was impossible to be angry with his good-humoured face; so we complimented one another on our joviality, and parted on the most flourishing terms. In the evening I cracked another flask, with equal abstinence of inside. Mr. Kirkup (whom you have heard me speak of) made me a present of a vine stick. He came to Maiano, with Mr. Brown, to take leave of us; so we christened the stick, as they do a seventy-four, and he stood rod-father.

“We set off next morning at six o’clock. I took leave of Maiano with a dry eye, Boccaccio and the Valley of Ladies notwithstanding. But the grave face of Brown (who had stayed all night, and was to continue doing us good after we had gone, by seeing to our goods and chattels,) was not so easily to be parted with. I was obliged to gulp down a sensation in the throat, such as men cannot very well afford to confess “in these degenerate days,” especially to a lady. So I beg you will have a respect for it, and know it for what it is. Old Lear and Achilles made nothing of owning to it. But before we get on, I must make you acquainted with our mode of travelling.

“We go not by post, but by Vettura; that is to say, by easy stages of thirty or forty miles a day, in a travelling carriage, the box of which is turned into a chaise, with a calash over it. It is drawn by three horses, occasionally assisted by mules. We pay about eighty-two guineas English, for which sum ten of us (counting as six, because of the number of children,) are taken to Calais; have a breakfast and dinner every day on the road; are provided with five beds at night, each containing two persons; and are to rest four days during the
journey, without farther expense, in whatever portions and places we think fit. Our breakfast consists of coffee, bread, fruit, milk, and eggs; plenty of each: the dinner of the four indispensable Italian dishes, something roast, something boiled, something fried, and what they call an umido, which is a hash, or something of that sort; together with vegetables, wine, and fruit. Care must be taken that the Vetturino does not crib from this allowance by degrees, otherwise the dishes grow fewer and smaller; meat disappears on a religious principle, it being magro day, on which “nothing is to be had;” and the vegetables adhering to their friend the meat in his adversity, disappear likewise. The reason of this is, that the Vetturino has a conflicting interest within him. It is his interest to please you in hope of other custom; and it his interest to make the most of the sum of money, which his master allows him for expenses. Withstand, however, any change at first, and good behaviour may be reckoned upon. We have as pleasant a little Tuscan to drive us, as I ever met with. He began very handsomely; but finding us willing to make the best of any little deficiency, he could not resist the temptation of giving up the remoter interest for the nearer one. We found our profusion diminish accordingly; and at Turin, after cunningly asking us, whether we cared to have an inn not of the very highest description, he has brought us to one of which it can only be said that it is not of the very lowest. The landlord showed us into sordid rooms on a second story. I found it necessary to be base and make a noise; upon which little Gigi looked frightened, and the landlord looked slavish and bowed us into his best. We shall have no more of this. Our rogue has an excellent temper, and is as honest a rogue, I will undertake to say, as ever puzzled a formalist. He makes us laugh with his resemblance to
Mr. Lamb; whose countenance, a little jovialized, he engrafts upon an
active little body and pair of legs, walking about in his jack-boots as if they were pumps. But he must have some object in life, to carry him so many times over the Alps:—this of necessity is money. You may guess that we could have dispensed with some of the fried and roasted; but to do this, would be to subject ourselves to other diminutions. Our bargain is reckoned a good one. The coachmaster says, (believe him who will,) that he could not have afforded it, had he not been sure at this time of the year, that somebody would take his coach back again; so many persons come to winter in Italy.

“Well, now that you have all the prolegomena, right and tight, we will set off again. We were told to look for a barren road from Florence to Bologna, but were most agreeably disappointed. The vines and olives disappeared, which was a relief to us. Instead of these, and the comparatively petty ascents about Florence, we had proper swelling Apennines, valley and mountain, with fine sloping meadows of green, interspersed with wood. We stopped to refresh ourselves at noon at an inn called Le Maschere, where there is a very elegant prospect, a mixture of nature with garden ground; and slept at Covigliaio, where three tall buxom damsels waited upon us, who romped during supper with the men-servants. One of them had a nicer voice than the others, upon the strength of which she stepped about with a jaunty air in a hat and feathers, and made the aimable. A Greek came in with a long beard; which he poked into all the rooms by way of investigation; as he could speak no language but his own. I asked one of the girls why she looked so frightened; upon which she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Oh Dio!” as if Blue Beard had come to put her in his seraglio.

“Our vile inn knocked us up; so I would not write any more yesterday. Little Gigi came up yesterday evening with a grave face, to
tell us that he was not aware till that moment of its being part of his duty, by the agreement, to pay expenses during our days of stopping. He had not looked into the agreement till then! The rogue! So we lectured him, and forgave him for his good temper: and he is to be very honest and expensive in future. This episode of the postilion has put me out of the order of my narration.

“To resume then. Next morning the 11th, we set off at five, and passed a volcanic part of the Apennines, where a flame issues from the ground. We thought we saw it. The place is called Pietra Mala. Here we enter upon the Pope’s territories, as if his Holiness kept the keys of a very different place from what he pretends. We refreshed at Poggioli, in sight of a church upon a hill, called the Monte dei Formicoli. They say all the ants in the neighbourhood come into the church on a certain day, in the middle of the service, and make a point of dying during the mass; but the postilion said, that for his part he did not believe it. Travelling makes people sceptical. The same evening we got to Bologna, where we finished for the present with mountains, The best streets in Bologna are furnished with arcades, very sensible things, which we are surprised to miss in any city in a hot country. They are to be found, more or less, as you travel northwards. The houses are all kept in good-looking order, owing, I believe, to a passion the Bolognese have for a gorgeous anniversary, against which every thing animate and inanimate puts on its best. I could not learn what it was. Besides tapestry and flowers, they bring out their pictures to hang in front of the houses. Many cities in Italy disappoint the eye of the traveller. The stucco and plaister outside the houses gets worn, and, together with the open windows, gives them a squalid and deserted appearance. But the
name is always something. If Bologna were nothing of a city, it would still be a fine sound and a sentiment; a thing recorded in art, in poetry, in stories of all sorts. We passed next day over a flat country, and dined at Modena, which is neither so good-looking a city, nor so well sounding a recollection as Bologna: but it is still Modena, the native place of
Tassoni. I went to the cathedral to get sight of the Secchia which is hung up there, but found the doors shut; and as ugly a pile of building as a bad cathedral could make. The lions before the doors, look as if some giant’s children had made them in sport, wretchedly sculptured, and gaping as if in agony at their bad legs. It was a disappointment to me not to see the Bucket. The Secchia Rapita is my oldest Italian acquaintance, and I reckoned upon saying to the hero of it ‘Ah, ha! There you are!’ There is something provoking and yet something fine too, in flitting in this manner from city to city. You are vexed at not being able to stop and see pictures, &c.; but you have a sort of royal taste of great pleasures in passing. The best thing one can do to get at the interior of any thing in this hurry, is to watch the countenances of the people. I thought the looks of the Bolognese and Modenese singularly answered to their character in books. What is more singular, is the extraordinary difference, and nationality of aspect, in the people of two cities at so little distance from one another. The Bolognese have a broad steady look, not without geniality and richness. You can imagine them to give birth to painters. The Modenese are crusty looking and carking, with a dry twinkle at you, and a narrow mouth. They are critics and satirists, on the face of them. For my part, I never took very kindly to Tassoni, for all my young acquaintance with him; and in the war which he has celebrated, I am now, whatever I was before, decidedly for the Bolognese.”


On the 12th of September, after dining at Modena, we slept at Reggio, where Ariosto was born. His father was captain of the citadel. Boiardo, the poet’s precursor, was born at Scandiano, not far off. I ran, before the gates were shut, to get a look at the citadel, and was much the better for not missing it. Poets leave a greater charm than any men upon places they have rendered famous, because they sympathize more than any other men with localities, and identify themselves with the least beauty of art or nature,—a turret, an old tree. The river Ilissus at Athens is found to be a sorry brook; but it runs talking for ever of Plato and Sophocles.

At Parma, I tore my hair mentally, (much the pleasantest way,) at not being able to see the Correggios. Piacenza pleased one to be in it, on account of the name. But a list of places in Italy is always like a succession of musical chords. Parma, Piacenza, Voghera, Tortona, Felizana,—sounds like these make a road-book a music-book. At Asti, a pretty place with a “west-end,” full of fine houses, I went to look at the Alfieri palace, and tried to remember the poet with pleasure: but I could not like him. To me, his austerity is only real in the unpleasantest part of it. The rest is affected. The human heart is a tough business in his hands; and he thumps and turns it about in his short, violent, and pounding manner, as if it were an iron on a blacksmith’s anvil. He loved liberty like a tyrant, and the Pretender’s widow like a lord.

The first sight of the Po, and the mulberry-trees, and meadows, and the Alps, was at once classical, and Italian, and northern; and made us feel that we were taking a great new step nearer home. Poirino, a pretty little place, with a name full of pear-trees, presented us with a sight like a passage in Boccaccio. This was a set of Dominican friars with the chief at their head, issuing out of two coaches, and proceeding along the cor-
ridor of the inn to dinner, each holding a bottle of wine in his hand, with the exception of the abbot, who held two. The wine was doubtless their own, that upon the road not being sufficiently orthodox.

Turin is a noble city, like a set of Regent Streets, made twice as tall. We found here the most military-looking officers we remember to have seen, fine, tall, handsome fellows, whom the weather had beaten but not conquered, very gentlemanly, and combining the officer and soldier as completely as could be wished. They had served under Bonaparte. When I saw them, I could understand how it was that the threatened Piedmontese revolution was more dreaded by the legitimates than any other movement in Italy. It was betrayed by the heir-apparent, who is said to be as different a looking person, as the reader might suppose. The royal aspect in the Sardinias is eminent among the raffish of the earth.

At Turin was the finest dancer I ever saw, a girl of the name of De’ Martini. M. Laurent should invite her over. She appeared to me to unite the agility of the French school, with all that you would expect from the Italian. Italian dancers are in general as indifferent, as the French are celebrated: but the French have no mind with their bodies: they are busts in barbers’ shops, stuck upon legs in a fit. You wonder how any lower extremities so lively can leave such an absence of all expression in the upper. Now De’ Martini is a dancer all over, and does not omit her face. She is a body not merely saltatory, as a machine might be, but full of soul. When she came bounding on the stage, in two or three long leaps like a fawn, I should have thought she was a Frenchwoman, but the style undeceived me. She came bounding in front, as if she would have pitched herself into the arms of the pit; then made a sudden drop, and addressed three enthusiastic courtesies to the pit and
boxes, with a rapidity and yet a grace, a self-abandonment yet a self-possession, quite extraordinary, and such, as to do justice to it, should be described by a poet uniting the western ideas of the sex with eastern license. Then she is beautiful both in face and figure, and I thought was a proper dancer to appear before a pit full of those fine fellows I have just spoken of. She seemed as complete in her way as themselves. In short, I never saw any thing like it before; and did not wonder, that she had the reputation of turning the heads of dozens wherever she went.

At Sant-Ambrogio, a little town between Turin and Susa, is a proper castle-topped mountain à la Radcliffe, the only one we had met with. Susa has some remains connected with Augustus; but Augustus is nobody, or ought to be nobody, to a traveller in modern Italy. He, and twenty like him, never gave me one sensation, all the time I was there; and even the better part of the Romans it is difficult to think of. There is something formal and cold about their history, in spite of Virgil and Horace, and even in spite of their own violence, which does not harmonize with the south. And their poets, even the best of them, were copiers of the Greek poets, not originals like Dante and Petrarch. So we slept at Susa, not thinking of Augustus, but listening to waterfalls, and thinking of the Alps.

Next morning we beheld a sight worth living for. We were now ascending the Alps; and while yet in the darkness before the dawn, we beheld the sunshine of day basking on the top of one of the mountains, We drank it into our souls, and there it is for ever. Dark as any hour may be, it seems as if that sight were left for us to look up to, and feel a hope. The passage of the Alps (thanks to Bonaparte, whom a mountaineer, with brightness in his eyes, called “Napoleone di felice me-
moria”) is now as easy as a road in England. You look up towards airy galleries, and down upon villages that appear like toys, and feel somewhat disappointed at rolling over it all so easily.

The moment we passed the Alps, we found ourselves in France. At Lanslebourg, French was spoken, and amorous groups gesticulated on the papering and curtains. Savoy is a glorious country, a wonderful intermixture of savage precipices and pastoral meads: but the roads are still uneven and bad. The river ran and tumbled, as if in a race with our tumbling carriage. At one time you are in a road like a gigantic rut, deep down in a valley; and at another, up in the air, wheeling along a precipice, I know not how many times as high as Saint Paul’s.

At Chambéry I could not resist going to see the house of Rousseau and Madame de Warens, while the coach stopped. It is up a beautiful lane, where you have trees all the way, sloping fields on either side, and a brook; as fit a scene as could be desired. I met some Germans coming away, who congratulated me on being bound, as they had been, to the house of “Jean Jacques.” The house itself is of the humbler genteel class, not fitted to conciliate Mr. Moore; but neat and white, with green blinds. The little chapel, that cost its mistress so much, is still remaining. We proceeded through Lyons and Auxerre to Paris. Beyond Lyons, we met on the road the statue of Louis XIV. going to that city to overawe it with royal brass. It was an equestrian statue, covered up, guarded with soldiers, and looking on the road like some mysterious heap. Don Quixote would have attacked it, and not been thought mad: so much has romance done for us. The natives would infallibly have looked quietly on. There was a riot about it at Lyons, soon after its arrival. Statues rise and fall; but a little on the other side of Lyons, our postilion exclaimed, “Monte Bianco!” and turning
round, I beheld, for the first time, Mont Blanc, which had been hidden from us, when near it, by a fog. It looked like a turret in the sky, amber-coloured, golden, belonging to the wall of some etherial world. This, too, is in our memories for ever,—an addition to our stock,—a light for memory to turn to, when it wishes a beam upon its face.

At Paris we could stop but two days, and I had but two thoughts in my head; one of the Revolution, the other of the times of Moliere and Boileau. Accordingly, I looked about for the Sorbonne, and went to see the place where the guillotine stood; where thousands of spirits underwent the last pang; many guilty, many innocent,—but all the victims of a reaction against tyranny, such as will never let tyranny be what it was, unless a convulsion of nature should swallow up knowledge, and make the world begin over again. These are the thoughts that enable us to bear such sights, and that serve to secure what we hope for. Paris, besides being a beautiful city in the quarter that strangers most look to, the Tuileries, Quai de Voltaire, &c., delights the eye of a man of letters by its heap of book-stalls. There is a want perhaps of old books; but the new are better than the shoal of Missals and Lives of the Saints that disappoint the lover of duodecimos on the stalls of Italy; and the Rousseaus and Voltaires are endless; edition upon edition in all shapes and sizes, in intellectual battle-array, not to be put down, and attracting armies into desertion. I thought, if I were a bachelor, not an Englishman, and had no love for old friends and fields, I could live very well for the rest of my life in a lodging above one of the bookseller’s shops on the Quai de Voltaire, where I should look over the water to the Tuileries, and have the Elysian fields in my eye for my evening walk.


I liked much what little I saw of the French people. They are accused of vanity; and doubtless they have it, and after a more obvious fashion than other nations; but their vanity at least includes the wish to please; other people are necessary to them; they are not wrapped up in themselves; not sulky, not too vain even to tolerate vanity. Their vanity is too much confounded with self-satisfaction. There is a good deal of touchiness, I suspect, among them,—a good deal of ready-made heat, prepared to fire up in case the little commerce of flattery and sweetness is not properly carried on. But this is better than ill temper, or an egotism not to be appeased by any thing short of subjection. On the other hand, there is more melancholy than one could expect, especially in old faces. Consciences in the south are frightened in their old age, perhaps for nothing. In the north, I take it, they are frightened earlier, perhaps from equal want of knowledge. The worst in France is, (at least, from all that I saw) that fine old faces are rare. There are multitudes of pretty girls; but the faces of both sexes fall off deplorably as they advance in life; which is not a good symptom. Nor do the pretty faces, while they last, appear to contain much depth, or sentiment, or firmness of purpose. They seem made like their toys, not to last, but to break up. Fine faces in Italy are as abundant as cypresses. However, in both countries, the inhabitants appeared to us naturally amiable, as well as intelligent; and without disparagement to the angel faces which you meet with in England, and some of which are perhaps even finer than any you see elsewhere, I could not help thinking, that as a race of females, the aspects both of the French and Italian women announced more sweetness and reasonableness of intercourse, than those of my fair and serious countrywomen. A Frenchwoman looked as if she wished to please you at any rate, and to be pleased herself. She is too
conscious; and her coquetry is said, and I believe with truth, to promise more than an Englishman would easily find her to perform: but at any rate she thinks of you somehow, and is smiling and good-humoured. An Italian woman appears to think of nothing, not even herself. Existence seems enough for her. But she also is easy of intercourse, smiling when you speak to her, and very unaffected. Now in simplicity of character the Italian appears to we to have the advantage of the English women, and in pleasantness of intercourse both Italian and French. When I came to England, after a residence of four years abroad, I was shocked at the succession of fair sulky faces which I met in the streets of London. They all appeared to come out of unhappy homes. In truth, our virtues, or our climate, or whatever it is, sit so uneasily upon us, that it is surely worth while for our philosophy to enquire whether in some points, or some degree of a point, we are not a little mistaken. Gypseys will hardly allow us to lay it to the climate.

It was a blessed moment, nevertheless, when we found ourselves among those dear sulky faces, the countrywomen of dearer ones, not sulky. On the 12th of October, we set out from Calais in the steamboat, which carried us rapidly to London, energetically trembling all the way under us, as if its burning body partook of the fervour of our desire. Here, in the neighbourhood of London, we are; and may we never be without our old fields again in this world, or the old “familiar faces” in this world or in the next.