LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Literary Life of the Rev. William Harness
Chapter VII.

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
‣ Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
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Among the distinguished persons with whom Mr. Harness was acquainted, he not unfrequently met the celebrated Sheridan. He was present at some of the sumptuous entertainments with which the Dramatist regaled his friends, and remarked that, although his guests denounced his extravagance, they never refused his invitations. Sheridan was not devoid of that vanity which so often accompanies talent. On one occasion, at a Theatrical Fund Dinner, he made a very high-flown speech, in which he spoke of himself as being “descended from the loins of kings!” “That is quite true,” said Dr. Spry, who was sitting next to Harness; “the last time I saw his father,* he was the King of Denmark.”

* He was an actor.


Sheridan’s solicitor found his client’s wife one day walking up and down her drawing-room, apparently in a frantic state of mind. He inquired the cause of such violent perturbation. She only replied, “that her husband was a villain.” On the man of business further interrogating her as to what had so suddenly awakened her to a sense of that fact, she at length answered, with some hesitation, “Why, I have discovered that all the love-letters he sent me were the very same as those which he sent to his first wife!”

The poet Rogers was a more intimate friend. He was one of those few instances in which talent is found united with wealth and energetic labour. In his literary work he was most persevering; so much so that he spent no less than seventeen years in writing and revising “The Pleasures of Memory.” The hasty slip-shod style of the present day was not to his taste. Rogers, like Byron and his compeers, aimed at producing finished pieces; and though they sometimes thus confined their eagle-flight, they at least avoided an ignominious fall to the ground. But Rogers was not only a wealthy banker and rural poet; he had also a keen sense of humour, and there was something in the deadness of his countenance and the dryness of his manner which seemed to give additional point to his sarcasms. Mr. Harness said that many of his most telling hits
seemed to have little force, when related under different circumstances. Some, however, the reader will, as I imagine, be able to understand without any oral interpretation. Rogers’ dwelling was “a cabinet of Art,” and he kept a model bachelor’s household; his servants consisting of three men and one woman. When one of the former, who had been a long time in his service, died, a kind-hearted friend called to condole with him on the loss he had sustained. “Well!” exclaimed Rogers, after listening for some time to his expressions of sympathy, “I don’t know that I feel his loss so very much, after all. For the first seven years he was an obliging servant; for the second seven years an agreeable companion; but for the last seven he was a tyrannical master.”*

Speaking of France brought him to the following story, to which he gave considerable effect:—“An Englishman and a Frenchman had to fight a duel. That they might have the better chance of missing one another, they were to fight in a dark room. The Englishman fired up the chimney, and, by Jove! he brought down the

* The poet seems to have been somewhat unfortunate in his servants. On one occasion when in the country, his favourite groom, with whom he used to drive every day, gave notice to leave. Rogers asked him why he was going, and what he had to complain of? “Nothing,” replied the man; “but you are so dull in the buggy.”

Frenchman! When I tell this story in Paris,” observed
Rogers, “I put the Englishman up the chimney!”

Mr. Harness had many other little interesting scraps about Rogers. The Poet greatly disliked writing letters of condolence, and when he had that melancholy duty to perform, he generally copied one of Cowper’s. Lord Lansdowne once spoke to him in congratulatory terms about the marriage of a common friend. “I do not think it so desirable,” observed Rogers. “No!” replied Lord Lansdowne, “why not? His friends approve of it!” “Happy man!” returned Rogers, “to satisfy all the world. His friends are pleased, and his enemies are delighted!

Moore was a friend of Rogers, and also of Mr. Harness; but I seldom heard the latter speak of him, except with reference to Byron, and to his having asked for information and letters which might be of use in the “Life” he was compiling. Speaking of Moore’s taste for biography, and the number of Memoirs he had composed, Rogers one day cynically observed, “Why, it is not safe to die while Moore’s alive!”

The following letter from Mrs. Charles Gore is interesting in connection with this subject:—

“Hamble Cliff, Friday.

“Thanks a thousand times. Pray make no further inquiries about the books. You have told me all I want to know, in the names of the publishers. I had previously fancied that Hope’s ‘Essays’ were suppressed, and I remember giving £10 for a suppressed ‘English Bard.’ Apropos to the latter work, having been here quite alone lately (even my daughter away, on a visit) I have been reading over Byron’s Memoirs, and it made one melancholy to think that, of the galaxy therein glorified, only two were left—then the ‘old boys’ of the party: i.e., Rogers and Moore. While moralizing over the fact, I suddenly started up with ‘No! by Jove—there is William Harness (and younger than ever).’ I afterwards recollected the Guiccioli (then a bride), and another William, best forgotten. Five and thirty years have certainly passed over you more lightly than over the rest.

“I am sorry I cannot persuade you to come and listen to the melancholy autumnal song of the robins and the screaming of the gulls. They would afford you texts without end; and I have a bit of sea-shore all to myself, with a pleasant seat beside it, where you might go and talk to the waves like little Dombey or King Canute—whose chair, by the way, was set up hard by the seat in question—for
we are close to Netley. Again, many thanks for your letter, and believe me,

“Faithfully yours,

Among the American friends of this literary coterie, Washington Irving may be mentioned, though he was scarcely to be called an American, inasmuch as his father was an Englishman, and his mother a Scotchwoman. He was often in this country, as his brother was a merchant in Liverpool; and when he visited London, he usually breakfasted with Mr. Harness, and dined with Rogers. Alluding to the vanity and self-appreciation of young America, not unnatural in a rising nation, Mr. Harness told me that a friend of his spoke in the following manner of a play he had lately written:—“I wrote a tragedy last winter—and a very good one it was; and my father said he wished to read it, and I allowed him; and he said it was a very good one. And he said he should like to go over it with me, word for word, and line for line; and we went over it word for word, and line for line; and he said he should like to show it to Washington Irving, and so he did; and he thought it was very good, and he said he should like to go over it with me word for word and line for line. And so we did, and it was beautiful to
observe the difference between that old man and me!

In noticing the peculiar phraseology which has grown up in America, Mr. Harness said that, one day at dinner, Daniel Webster, in referring to Devonshire, in which he had been travelling, described its scenery in the concise words, “Clever country.” Shortly afterwards he asked Mr. Harness whether he had heard Sydney Smith preach. He replied in the affirmative. “Handsome preacher,” remarked Webster. Mr. Harness observed that the epithets might have been advantageously transposed.

Among Mr. Harness’s friends and correspondents was Miss Sedgwick, the American authoress. It is said that she alludes to him in the following passage, though only an initial is given. (She came late to Loftus Lowndes’ dinner party, thinking the invitation was for eight instead of seven.) “To my dismay,” she writes, “and in spite of my protestations, Mrs. —— insisted on re-beginning at the alpha of the dinner; the guests had reached the omega. The soup was brought back. H. averred that it was most fortunate for him; he had been kept talking, and had not eaten half a dinner; so he started fresh with me and went bonâ fide through, covering me with his aegis as I ran my gauntlet through the courses. The age of chivalry is not past. Match this deed of courtesy, if you can, from
the lives of the preux chevaliers, taken from their sun-rising to their sun-setting!”

At Mrs. Siddons’ receptions, Mr. Harness became acquainted with Theodore Hook, who was then in general request in fashionable and literary society. He was an accomplished musician, and almost as remarkable for his improvisatore talent as for his brilliance in repartee. Wherever he happened to be present, he was looked upon as the wag of the party, and his love of merriment sometimes caused him to indulge in pleasantries which, though sufficiently harmless in themselves, verged too closely upon the limits of propriety. One evening, Mr. Harness, who shared the prejudices then entertained about waltzing, observed to Theodore that he was glad to hear that he disapproved of the new dance. “Well, I don’t know about that,” returned his friend, “’tis a mere matter of feeling.”

When Theodore was travelling along the south coast, he arrived in the course of his journey at Dover, and alighting at the Ship Hotel, changed his boots, ordered a slight dinner, and went out for a stroll through the town. Returning at the appointed time, he was surprised to find the whole establishment in confusion. A crowd had collected outside the door—the master of the house was standing at the foot of the stairs with two candles in his hands, and on Theodore’s entrance, he walked backwards before
him, and conducted him into the principal saloon, where all the waiters were standing, and a magnificent repast had been provided. The wit was much amused at the dignity to which he had been promoted; but, being an easy-going fellow, made no scruples, and sitting down, did full justice to what was set before him. Next day he signified his intention of departing, and ordered a coach; when, to his astonishment, a carriage-and-four drove up to convey him to his destination. He inquired, with some apprehension, what he was to pay for all this grandeur, and was no less astonished than gratified on receiving the answer, “Nothing whatever, your Royal Highness.” He was never more thoroughly mystified; but the next night, on taking off his boots, which he had bought ready made just before he went to Dover, he found “H.S.H. the
Prince of Orange” written inside them. They had been originally made for the Prince, who was then in England, sueing for the hand of Princess Charlotte, and notice had been given that all his expenses while in the country should be set down to the charge of the Government.

Among those most celebrated for their hospitalities during Mr. Harness’s earlier residence in London, was Miss Lydia White. She kept a ‘menagerie,’ and was herself not the least remarkable specimen it contained. Brave in paint and plaster—
a wonderful work of art—she underwent all the labour necessary to produce the grand effect, not from any vanity or affectation, but from motives of pure benevolence. “Were I,” she observed, “to present myself, as I naturally am, without any of these artificial adornments, instead of being a source of pleasure, and perhaps amusement, to my friends, I should plunge them into the profoundest melancholy.” This considerate lady was not only fond of clever conversation, but sometimes herself joined in the tournament of wit. Mr. Harness remembered many sallies of playful nonsense which he had heard from her; one of those he preserved was the following:—On the return of
Charles X. to Paris, Talma was engaged to play ‘Sylla;’ but he looked so much like Napoleon, that he was ordered to put on a curly wig. “Why,” said Lydia, “were he to do that, we should hardly know Scylla from Charybdis.”

On another occasion, at one of her small and most agreeable dinners in Park Street, the company (most of them, except the hostess, being Whigs) were discussing, in rather a querulous strain, the desperate prospects of their party. “Yes,” said Sydney Smith, “we are in a deplorable condition; we must do something to help ourselves; I think we had better sacrifice a Tory Virgin.” This was partially addressed to Lydia White, who at once
MR. HOPE.161
catching and applying the allusion to Iphigenia, answered, “Well, I believe there is nothing the Whigs would not do to raise the wind!

Among Mr. Harness’s more intimate friends, the name of Henry Hope should not be omitted. This celebrated millionaire, the author of “Anastasius,” and the unfortunate hero in the picture of “Beauty and the Beast,” was unremitting in his kindness and hospitality towards the young clergyman. He frequently invited him to stay at the Deep Dene, and here Mr. Harness found himself surrounded by all the talent and wealth of England. The tone of the conversation sometimes amused him much; as when Rothschild observed to Hope that a man must be a “a poor scoundrel who could not afford to lose two millions;” or replied to a nobleman who said he must be a supremely happy man, “I happy! when only this morning I received a letter from a man to say that, if I did not send him £500, he would blow out my brains!”* Mr. Hope had a tutor for his sons at the Deep Dene. One day, when Mr. Harness was staying there, he found this gentleman pacing up and down the room in the most distressing agitation of mind. “Is there any-

* The demands made upon the great are certainly most extraordinary. I remember the late Archbishop Sumner telling me that a man wrote to him to send him immediately £500, as it would save him from “some unpleasant complications.” It was to be directed tn X. T. Z., Post Office, Bristol.

162MR. HOPE.
thing the matter?” inquired Mr. Harness, anxiously. “The matter!” he replied, “I should think there was! Three of the worst things that can possibly happen to a man: I’m in love—I’m in debt—and I’ve doubts about the doctrine of the Trinity!”

Mr. Hope died in 1831. The night after his death Mr. Harness dreamed that he saw Lord Beresford’s country residence in an unusual state of commotion. He woke up with the impression that some death or other great calamity had happened there; and though he afterwards thought lightly of the matter, he determined, as he was going in that direction, to call at Lord Beresford’s in Duchess Street, on his way home. On arriving there, he found the blinds down, and the house shut up; and upon inquiring, the gate-porter told him that Mr. Thomas Hope had died the day before at Bedgebury Park. Mr. Harness had not known that his friend was either ill or in England. Mr. Hope left Mr. Harness his literary executor.

The friendship which had subsisted between Mr. Harness and the father was continued with the son, and he was a frequent guest at the Deep Dene, and at Castle Blaney, in Ireland, after it had been purchased by Mr. Hope. During these visits he sometimes extended his journey, and spoke admiringly, and with an artist’s taste, of the beauty of the country, and of the violet eyes and dark hair which in
some places characterized the peasantry. He generally crossed by Holyhead, but on one occasion he took the longer sea-passage by Bristol, and on the voyage made acquaintance with a Roman Catholic Priest. He said that this Irish ecclesiastic seemed one of the most finished gentlemen he had ever met with, and he thought himself highly fortunate when, on landing, he offered to accompany him and show the lions of the good city of Cork. They walked through the town arm-in-arm, Mr. Harness and the Priest, the latter treading the streets with a majestic step and lofty mien, which approached almost to sublimity when the people bowed down before him, counted their beads and besought his blessing. At length, having made the round of the town, and visited Father Mathew’s statue, and the principal buildings, “And now, sir,” said the Priest, “perhaps you would like to see ‘the Beggars’ Market;’ and, indeed, I have a little business to do there myself.” Mr. Harness assented, and he led the way to a place where there seemed to be every sort of thing which nobody could possibly want. Rusty hinges, broken keys, and old coffins formed a considerable part of the miscellaneous collection. The Priest’s business was, it appeared, to buy some second-hand soda-water bottles, which he intended to fill with ‘cherry-bounce.’ He presently found out an old woman who had such
articles for sale, and he accordingly began to bargain with her for them. But, good Heavens! what a transformation! His elegant manners and lofty bearing disappeared as if by magic; his voice became loud and menacing, his countenance dark and ferocious. His gesticulations as he continued became still more alarming, and the vileness and profanity of his language quite took his companion’s breath away. When by these means he had accomplished his end—the cheapening of a dozen bottles from tenpence to sevenpence—he resumed his wonted tranquillity; and, thrusting his arm through that of Mr. Harness, walked away as majestically as if nothing had occurred.

Alluding to the strange coincidence above mentioned, in the case of Mr. Hope’s death, and to other remarkable dreams, Mr. Harness related that a lady friend of his, when about to return with her husband from India, prayed him to reconsider his determination, as she had dreamed that she was drowned, and that, as she was dying, she saw a white cloud passing over her. He laughed at her fears, and represented to her how absurd it would appear to their friends to say they had determined to remain in India because she had had the nightmare on the eve of their departure. They accordingly sailed as they had arranged and reached Alexandria in safety. “What do you think of your dream now?” inquired
her husband. “We are not yet in London,” she replied doubtfully. They soon arrived safely in Paris. “We are not far from London now,” he observed jocosely. “But we are not yet there,” she persisted. They crossed to Dover, and were proceeding by rail to town, when the well-known accident occurred to the train at Staplehurst; the carriages were overturned into the water; the lady was drowned, and the white steam of the engine was blown across her like a cloud.

It was through Miss Mitford’s introduction that Mr. Harness became intimate with Serjeant Talfourd. He had been a Reading boy—a pupil of Dr. Valpy’s—and the authoress felt an admiration for his talents even greater than that she entertained for everything else of worth which emanated from her “Belford Regis.” He was one of those many protégés for whom she predicted a successful career; and when, in after-years, her prophecy had proved true, she often stayed on a visit at his house in London. One of these occasions was shortly after the production and favourable reception of the Serjeant’s well-known play of “Ion.” Miss Mitford was also herself at the zenith of her fame. “Rienzi” had run for fifty nights at Drury Lane; and the attention she received, and the crowds of visitors she attracted, kindled a flame of jealousy in the breast of the rival author. Some
complaints of his unreasonable conduct towards her may be found in her letters at this period. It was, perhaps, natural that a man who had just written a successful play should feel a little proud of his bantling; but the Serjeant seems, in this respect, to have altogether exceeded the bounds of moderation. One morning at breakfast, during Miss Mitford’s visit, he opened a newspaper and came upon a review depreciating his beloved play. This brought matters to a crisis. He loudly inveighed against the injustice of the critic; and on Miss Mitford’s endeavouring to pacify him, by remarking that it was really not so severe, and that she should not have felt so much had the strictures been made on her “Rienzi,” “Your ‘Rienzi,’ indeed!” replied the Serjeant contemptuously; “I dare say not! That is very different!” I have even heard it stated that the dissension on this subject became so unpleasant that Miss Mitford packed up her boxes one morning and drove away to
Mr. Harness’s. The Serjeant may, perhaps, be pardoned, for his affection for “Ion” was deep and constant. On one occasion, when Dickens was calling on Rogers at Broadstairs, he observed, “We shall have Talfourd here to-night.” “Shall we?” returned the Poet; “I am rejoiced to hear it. I hope he will come and dine; but how do you know he is coming?” “Because ‘Ion’ is to be acted at Margate,
and he is never absent from any of its representations.”

There was as much careless freedom in Talfourd’s household as in that of most men of genius. Goldsmith himself could not have desired a more entire absence of conventionality. One day, when Mr. Harness was dining at their house in company with several judges, the Serjeant and Mrs. Talfourd sat throughout dinner each with a cat in their lap. On another occasion, Mrs. Talfourd requested him to carve a chicken which was placed before him. He essayed to comply, but on his making the attempt the bird spun round and shot off the dish. Mr. Harness, who was a little timid in society, was much perturbed by this misadventure; but on examining the cause of it, he found that he had been given a fork with only one prong! “Will you be so good as to cut that tart before you,” said the hostess to another guest. “Certainly, if you desire it,” was the reply; “but perhaps you are not aware that it has not been in the oven?”

Dickens was a very kind friend to Mr. Harness; he regarded him as one of the literary men of the past, and occasionally asked his opinion, and sent him little presents, which were of course very gratifying. Mr. Harness thoroughly appreciated the great novelist and his works, and was supremely happy whenever he could persuade ‘Charles’ to be a guest
at his table. When Dickens was giving Readings in his later years, he told Mr. Harness that he would always have a chair placed for him close to the platform; but Mr. Harness never accepted the kind offer, although he attended all his Recitations; and on those appointed nights it was impossible to persuade him to accept any invitation. Notes frequently passed between them, but they were short and unimportant, though always neatly worded. The following will serve as a specimen:—

“Will Miss Harness and you come and dine with us, at the Star and Garter at Richmond, on Monday the 26th at a quarter past six? Besides ourselves there will be only A. Townshend and a young bride, a friend of ours, who from being a quiet clergyman’s daughter in the Isle of Wight has suddenly expanded (like a girl in a Fairy Tale) into fifty thousand a year and a castle,

“Affectionately yours always,

Dickens was too fully engaged to write long letters, even had he not been a man of too active a character to spend his time in that way. Mr. Harness, alluding to his industry and talent, remarks that “when Hume complained that his
speeches were not faithfully reported in the ‘
Times,’ the Editor put on Dickens, who was then a reporter, and the dissatisfied member very soon cried, “Peccavi.

The name of Dickens brings us to that of his great contemporary, Thackeray; with regard to whom Mr. Harness appeared to entertain some prejudice. He thought his Bohemianism and the general tone of his writings exercised an injurious influence on the rising generation. His first personal experience of the novelist was certainly not calculated to remove this impression. Thackeray invited him to dinner, and Mr. Harness accepted with delight, promising himself a rich intellectual feast at the house of a man of such literary reputation. He was gratified in one respect, for when he arrived he found learning and talent most ably represented. The party at dinner was large, and while the ladies remained the conversation wandered softly among flowers and wine and airy compliments. At length the movement came—the flutter of fans and silks—and the gay cortége of youth and beauty made its way to the upper world. The light element had now passed away; the hour had arrived; and Mr. Harness looked forward to such a discussion as should surpass the days of yore. Now was the time for sharp repartee and for the settling of accounts between rival wits—for the cut and thrust and skilful
parry. He settled himself in his chair, prepared to take his part if necessary, and kept his eyes and ears open, so as not to lose a single word or gesture. “Do you smoke?” inquired the host. “Smoke?” Mr. Harness had “never been guilty of such an offence against social morality. In his day, tars and bargemen were the only smokers—except
Dr. Parr—and he retained all the old prejudices against such an imitation of chimney-pots. He would as soon have thought of going to carouse at a public-house as of smoking in the dining-room after dinner. “Smoke, Sir? I do not.” But his firm refusal had no effect whatever on the epicurean company by which he was surrounded. Cigars and tobacco were placed upon the table; punch and negus followed; and the observations which were made during the rest of the sitting consisted only of such instructive remarks as “Pass the box,” and “Fill up!”

Another literary man, whom Mr. Harness constantly met, but who has derived most of his renown from his Diary, was Crabb Robinson. Mr. H. said that he was one of the few men who, having worked to obtain a competence for literary leisure, did actually, when the time arrived, retire from public life and remunerative employment. Crabb Robinson often mentions his friend in an incidental way in his Diary. In one place we
read, “The first time I dined with Harness was in 1839, and I met
Babbage. He has written some elegant poems. He was, and is a man of taste—of High Church principles, and liberal in spirit. Among our common friends were John L. Kenyon and Miss Burdett Coutts.” He made a mistake in calling Mr. Harness a High Churchman, for he always wished to keep things in the “old way,” to which he had been accustomed in his youth. He said that Crabb Robinson was a great talker, but often drifted about from one subject to another in a most disconnected manner.

Many eminent men might be enumerated among Mr. Harness’s clerical friends and acquaintances. He often spoke with admiration of Dr. Phillpotts, the celebrated nonagenarian Bishop of Exeter. The Bishop was remarkable, not only for erudition, but for that social tact and elegance which rarely accompanies it. One day his lawyers were dining with him, and he wished his wife to retire from the table early, that he might discuss with them his course of action in one of those unfortunate suits in which he was so constantly involved. The lady, however, found the legal gentlemen agreeable, and notwithstanding repeated nods, and winks, and hints from her lord, remained immoveable in her place. At length she understood his meaning, and rose hurriedly to depart. “What! so soon, my love?”
demanded the Bishop, blandly, as he opened the door for her with an obsequious bow.

Lady Morley told Dr. Phillpotts she was going to leave Torquay sooner than she had intended. The Bishop inquired what cause was to deprive them of the pleasure of her company. “I am going for advice about my eyes,” she replied; “they give me constant pain.” “Well, Madam,” he returned, “it is perhaps only fair that eyes which have done so much execution, should in turn suffer something themselves.”

Dr. Milman, who was for a long period Vicar of Reading, before he became Dean of St. Paul’s, was one of Mr. Harness’s and Miss Mitford’s earliest friends. Speaking of his celebrated poem, Mr. Harness observed that one day he found Mr. Murray in an unusual state of disquietude and indignation. “Would you believe it,” demanded the publisher, “Milman has written to ask me for an additional sum for the second edition of the ‘Fall of Jerusalem?’ Why, it was I who made that poem.” “You?” repeated Mr. Harness, in much astonishment; for although Mr. Murray was an excellent man of business, he could never have been accused of being in the least degree poetical—“you made the ‘Fall of Jerusalem?’” “Yes,” maintained the publisher, stoutly. “I should like to know what that poem would have been if I had not brought it
out in an octavo form?” Mr. Murray sent the MS. of “
Philip van Artevelde” to Milman and Harness for their opinions as to its prospects of success. Both, strange to say, were unfavourable to it. Mr. Harness said he never knew a book look so different in print from what it did in manuscript. There was to the last much sympathy and intercourse between these remarkable brother-clergymen. Mr. Harness said that the unfortunate weakness of the spine from which his friend suffered, was inherited; but that when young, he was an athletic man, a good oarsman and cricketer.

Dr. Selwyn, the late Bishop of New Zealand, mentioned to Mr. Harness that on asking an old Maori what he thought of the English colonists, the reply was, “Well, first come the little flies, and then the big flies. We are the little flies, and you are the big ones who are to succeed us.” He said the natives were an intelligent but idle race.

On our conversation turning one day upon the fact that clergymen generally were destined to witness but small results from their labours, Mr. Harness remarked that allusion had been made to the same subject previously when he was visiting a prison chaplain. Mr. Harness asked him whether his ministry had been attended with success. “With very little, I grieve to say,” was the reply. “A short time since I thought I had brought to a better
state of mind a man who had attempted to murder a woman and had been condemned to death. He showed great signs of contrition after the sentence was passed upon him, and I thought I could observe the dawnings of grace upon his soul. I gave him a Bible, and he was most assiduous in the study of it, frequently quoting passages from it which he said convinced him of the heinousness of his offence. The man gave altogether such a promise of reformation, and of a change of heart and life, that I exerted myself to the utmost, and obtained for him such a commutation of his sentence as would enable him soon to begin the world again, and as I hoped with a happier result. I called to inform him of my success. His gratitude knew no bounds; he said I was his preserver, his deliverer. ‘And here,’ he added, as he grasped my hand in parting, ‘here is your Bible. I may as well return it to you, for I hope that I shall never want it again.’”

The following humourous allusions occurred in Mr. Harness’s conversations with me, and although they are trifling in their nature, may not form an unpleasant conclusion to this chapter.

A country Rector, coming up to preach at Oxford in his turn, complained to Dr. Routh, the venerable Principal of Maudlin, that the remuneration was very inadequate, considering the travelling expenses, and the labour necessary for the composi-
tion of the discourse. “How much did they give you?” inquired Dr. Routh. “Only five pounds,” was the reply. “Only five pounds?” repeated the Doctor. “Why, I would not have preached that sermon for fifty.”

When Lawrence (the Doctor) received so many black balls at the Athenæum, every one said, “Think of the Clergy being so ill-natured!” It was found that only two blackballs came from clergymen, and eleven from doctors!

At a dinner party a somewhat dull couple, who affected literature, informed their friend that they were going to visit the city of Minerva. Mr. Harness, who happened to be sitting next to the humorous Jekyll, heard him mutter to himself, “To the Greeks—foolishness.”

The Bishop of Derry was disputing with a Roman Catholic Priest about Purgatory. “Well, my Lord,” replied the Priest in conclusion, “you may go further and fare worse.”

Jones, the tailor, was asked by a customer who thought much of his cut, to go down and have some shooting with him in the country. Among the party was the Duke of Northumberland. “Well, Mr. Jones,” observed his Grace, “I’m glad to see that you are becoming a sportsman. What sort of gun do you shoot with?” “Oh, with a double-breasted one, your Grace,” was the reply.


Speaking of Brummell, Mr. Harness remarked that many of the dandies of his time were men of wit, and not mere clothes-horses. He remembered a party standing to admire a sunset where the orb of day was departing in a golden glory. “Does it very well, doesn’t he?” observed Brummell. On another occasion Brummell was walking with a friend past the newly erected bronze statue in Hanover Square. “Well,” said his friend, “I never thought Pitt had been so tall a man.” “Nor so green a one,” added Brummell. Belvoir Castle was at that time very famous for its hospitalities. So large was the number of invitations that people used to come and go almost without the knowledge of the Duke. When one set had left, another succeeded as a matter of course, without waiting for any formal invitation. Brummell was among those who enjoyed these privileges. On one occasion a friend went down to Belvoir, and as usual applied for an apartment. “There are none vacant,” replied the housekeeper. “None vacant!” returned the dismayed visitor; “how can that be! I know that Mr. Brummell came up to town yesterday.” “Yes, Sir,” replied the lady, “but he took the key along with him.

Speaking of Mr. Lowe’s speeches, Mr. Harness remarked that nothing so chastened the taste as the study of the classics; not even that of Shakespeare.
He also observed that humour was in the mind, and had nothing to do with the animal spirits.
Charles Mathews, Liston, and Leach were all given to despondency. The story about the Doctor recommending Grimaldi to go and hear himself really referred to an actor in Italy.

Having consorted with so many of the most brilliant wits for half a century, Mr. Harness had heard so many racy sayings, that it was difficult to produce any jeu d’esprit which seemed to him really original. On one occasion (when he had been dining in company with the Bishop of Oxford and Mr. Gladstone) I inquired how he enjoyed his privilege, and what was the character of the intellectual banquet? “Well,” he replied, “after dinner the gentlemen began to relate anecdotes, and to say the truth I don’t think I ever heard so many stale ‘Joe Millers’ in my life.”

One December, when I was about to leave for the country, he told me the following stories with which I might amuse my friends round the Christmas hearth. They are interesting as being supported by a stronger amount of evidence than such accounts usually possess.

On one occasion, in the time of our grandfathers, a hundred and fifty years ago, the mansion of Lord Townshend at Rainham, was so full, that the rooms in ordinary use were not sufficient to accommodate
the guests. To solve this difficulty, it was proposed to place one of the visitors in a chamber which was generally supposed to be haunted by a white female figure. It was late at night when Lord Townshend conducted his friend to his apartment, and the consternation of both may be imagined when, on opening the door, they perceived something white and tall, like a female in a long robe, gliding across, and disappearing through a panel opposite. Next day Lord Townshend examined the wainscoting, and observing a slight peculiarity in the panel, ordered it to be removed. Behind it a kind of niche was discovered, containing a human skeleton. It was now learnt, from some of the oldest inhabitants in the neighbourhood, that the white apparition had formerly been considered to be connected with a Lady Townshend about whose death there had been something dark and mysterious. Lord Townshend ordered the coffin, in which she was supposed to have been buried, to be brought up from the vault, and a strange confirmation was given to the ancient rumour, when, on its being opened, it was found to be empty.

Lord Glenelg’s father told Mr. Harness that once when his son was staying at a country house, and the party were assembled at the breakfast table, he observed from the window a lady—who was to have left that morning—crossing the lawn. On making
inquiries, it was found that the lady in question had left the house, and it subsequently transpired that an accident had occurred in which she had lost her life, at the very time when she appeared to be passing before the windows.

Dr. Baring, when Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, rented for a short period a house which had belonged to Sir J. Paul, the grandfather of the present Baronet. Miss —— was soon afterwards staying with him as a visitor. One night, on putting out her candle and lying down in bed, she beheld, to her astonishment and alarm, a little old man sitting in the arm-chair, warming his hands over the fire. Her first impulse was to call for help; but she restrained herself, and, the figure continuing motionless, she at length fell asleep. In the morning she related what she had seen, and from the description she gave of the old gentleman, one of the party at once recognized him as the deceased baronet to whom the house had previously belonged.

A vessel was sailing in the Atlantic, when the mate, on looking into the captain’s cabin, saw a stranger sitting at the writing-desk. A sentence was afterwards found written there: “Steer to the north-west.” The captain supposed it must have been written by one of the crew, but none of their handwritings in the least resembled that found in
the cabin. After some consultation, the captain changed his course and stood for the north-west. When they had sailed a considerable distance, they came in sight of an ice-bound vessel. “There” cried the mate, as soon as they went aboard her, “there is the man I saw writing in the cabin!” He was one of the sailors, and had been asleep at the time stated.