« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
most connected with it, we find a place called Bear Yard, and certaiply it does not seem to be ill named, for a dirtier place you can scarcely find in London: in the middle of it is a large mass of buildings, appropriated now to a great variety of purposes, hardly any of them of a very cleanly kind, for they consist of slaughter-houses, tripe-houses, cow-houses, stables, &c., with all their unsavoury concomitants; and yet this mass of buildings, to which there is but one very narrow carriage avenue, was, in the year 1690, and long before, known as The Duke's Theatre; it was here, I believe, that the first female who ever trod a public stage, made her appearance ; here too Betterton shone; and the taverns in this neighbourhood, though every thing is now so changed that they can scarcely be recognized, were then frequented by the first nobility and gentry of the day, attracted by the presence of the actors, who were the histrionic stars of the period.
A celebrated house of this sort is called in old books, the BullHead Tavern; it was much used about the time mentioned above by Earl Craven, the Duke of Beaufort, and other of the nobility who then had residences in this parish; and a most intimate friend and associate of theirs, who alinost always spent his evenings at this tavern, was the eccentric, but very able, Dr. Radcliffe, who seems to have combined the social powers of the late Dr. Buchan, and the bluntness of the present Abernethy, with more than the abilities of both, in his own person. I possess a very old life of Dr. Radcliffe, coutaining some curious anecdotes, &c., a few of which I will extract for you at some future period, if agreeable. The present Bull's Head public house, in Vere Street, Clare Market, shows the site of the above tavern, but is only half the size it used to be; it still has the back entrance in Bear Yard, which was so near to the theatre that the call-boy could with ease summon an actor from the tavern in time for his cue. A few years back I had occasion to call upon the man who kept this house, named Thrupp, and who is since dead, with whom I conversed as to the former state of the house, of which he seemed perfectly aware, and moreover told me that there were some of the old theatrical properties still throwing about the cellar of the house ; as I had no particular taste that way, I did not desire to see the dusty lumber, but it occurred to my mind, that to the imitative Charles Mathews, who is understood to have a great collection of such matters, the search might have been curious.
I have mentioned Earl Craven, and the Duke of Beaufort, as part of the former resident nobility of this parish, and at about the lime spoken of, and before it, there were several others, as the Earl of Essex, the Duke of Norfolk, the Exeter family, &c, as the names of our streets, &c. prove; we have Clare, Vere, Holles, Newcastle, Stanhope, Essex, Arundel, Norfolk, and Surrey Streets ; Craven and Beaufort Buildings; and Exeter 'Change; the last of which will, in a few more years, be reckoned amongst the by-gones.
When, as it sometimes happens, I stroll to the banks of the Thames in St. Clement's, I cannot but contrast, in my mind's eye, the different aspect of the same place in the two periods; for in the
times of the noblemen I have mentioned, at least the Essex, Norfolk, and Beaufort families—they had fine gardens sloping to the water's edge, with their gay, gondola-like boats, and their elegantly-dressed boatmen; these bore the beauty and chivalry of the day on the bosom of our poble Thames ; music and song resounded along the shore, and all was gaiety and pleasure. Instead of the dulce, we have now the utile ; and nothing is to be found here, but plain, plodding, matter-of-fact coal merchants, and their sombre barges loaded with the precious mineral; together with the swarthy-faced tribe of porter-loving coal-porters.
It is really wonderful that a little more than a hundred years should have made all this change, but so it is ; and to shew that even so recently as the twenty-third year of the reign of George III. when a private act was passed for the better paving, &c. of this parish, the residence here of nobility was contemplated; one of the clauses enacts, that no person shall be eligible as a trustee to fulfil the purposes of the act, unless he be possessed of 3001. a year, arising from freehold or copyhold estates; or 10,0001. personal property, or shall be heir-apparent to a peer, and moreover a resident householder. Where in St. Clement's should we find such an heirapparent now? Two of the trustees named in the act are the Right Honorable Charles Howard, commonly called the Earl of Surrey, and the Right Honorable Thomas Pelham Clinton, commonly called Earl of Lincoln; and amongst them, too, was William Kitchener, Esq. progenitor of the worthy doctor of that name, alike famous for music, gastronomy, optics, and I know not what beside. We have Lyon's Inn, New Inn, and Clement's Inn, entirely within the parish, and a great part of the New Square, Lincoln's Inn, If I recollect right, Justice Shallow boasts of having been of Clement's Inn.. Shakspeare also mentions the chimes of St. Clement's Church in one of his plays, but I am in doubt whether it alludes to the present church, or a former erection; certain it is, that at five, nine, and twelve, we are now amused with a humdrum psalm tune. We have also two theatres in the parish, or rather one, and part of another, viz, the Olympic, and the English Opera, or Lyceum, as it used to be called ; the latter is partly in St. Mary-le-Strand, and on perambulation days the charity boys of each parish get a walk on the stage to beat the respective bounds.
It is a singular fact, that in the Act of Parliament for building Waterloo Bridge, as it was necessary for legal purposes to declare it to be in some parish or parishes, the half towards Westminster is declared to be in St. Clement Danes, although no part of it touches that parish, as it enters into the precinct of the Savoy ; this is rather a curious blunder.
I must apologize to you and your readers for tiring your patience with this disjointed gossip; but I cannot help thinking, that if an old inhabitant or native of a metropolitan parish would now and then throw together the information he may have gleaned of it, the reading public would thank him. I am, Sir,
A NATIVE OF ST. CLEMENT'S.
A LESSON FOR COLD WEATHER. THere is no one that has not heard of “ Les Russes Montagnes." Even the single, solitary Englishman, if, indeed, there be such an one, who has not ventured into the Parisian fairy-land, has been initiated into this acquaintance in the humbler spheres of Margate or Şadler's Wells. But why are they called Russian Mountains ? Every body asks, bụt very few can tell. Approach then, all ye ignorants ! and the mystery shall be unfolded.
The Russians, amidst all the dreariness and desolation of their rugged climate, contrive to amuse and warm themselves in a variety of ways, which our wisdom and our climate both forbid. But their most favorite and most peculiar amusement is that of which “ the Russian Mountains" are an imitation. A track is made on the side of a steep hill, covered with frozen snow, and the inequalities are carefully mended with ice or snow, until the course is quite even. A car is then provided, in which there is a little seat, and the wellmuffled Russ is precipitated in it from the verge of the hill with a velocity which may be easily imagined. At Petersburg, where the country is very flat, artificial mounts of an astonishing height are raised upon the river Neva, and on holidays and festivals ail classes of society, and all ages, are to be seen partaking of this sport.
The Empress Elizabeth was so fond of this diversion, that she had artificial mounts erected at her palace, from which those at Paris are copied. The car was there whirled along by the assistance of machinery, sometimes in a corkscrew fashion up a steep hill---sometimes down a most precipitous descent, along a dark tunnel, and across a lake within a foot or two of the water, until at lecgth the passengers were lodged in a small island:
Passengers across the Alps are often obliged to adopt this method of sliding along the frozen snow; and a modern traveller gives the following account of something similar practised in crossing the Cordillera in South America. “A sledge is formed of a piece of raw hide, upon which the man places his saddle-traps or his load, and seats hiinself thereon, lashing all firmly round his waste by hidethongs: having made this adjustinent on the summit of the declivity, and suffering himself to slide down by his mere weight, he guides bis course, or slackens the rapidity of his descent, by plunging his large knife, which he firmly grasps in his hand, into the snow. The resistance thus produced, sufficiently retards his progress, should he have acquired too much velocity; or, like a rudder, it inclines his course to the right or left, as he may desire:---the labor of the journey is thus reduced. Miers' Travels in Chile, i. 358.
HIM HE HAD THE ORGAN OF “CONSCIENCE" STRONGLY DEVELOPED.
History of the Commonwealth of England, from its commencement,
to the Restoration of Charles the Second. vol. ii. i826. It was a matter of regret to us, and we are persuaded was equally so to all the friends of truth, when, in the year 1824, Mr. Godwin sent forth into the world the first volume of his History of the Commonwealth. Had Mr. G. again made his appearance as a novelist---had he indulged the public with another Caleb Williams, or St. Leon, we should have been the first to give him a cordial greeting ; but the very constitution of his mind seemed to render him incapable of becoming a valuable historian. It is true that he sets at defiance many of the common prejudices of mankind; but it is just as true that he has adopted other prejudices, the only merit of which is their unfashionableness. The extreme of liberalism is as far removed from truth, and is not less prejudicial to the interests of mankind, than the excess of servility. After the lapse of two years, the second volume of Mr. Godwin's work has made its appearance; and the regret we before felt, is not at all lessened by its perusal. It is not our intention to dispute with Mr. G. upon the propriety or impropriety of his view of the critical times to which his history refers ; our limits and our inclination equally forbid it; but we cannot help remarking in what an extraordinary manner Mr. Godwin commences his undertaking. He proceeds upon the foundation of two propositions, which contain the essence of all that is disputable upon the subject; and these two propositions he does not prove, but takes for granted. The propositions we refer to, which may be found in the Preface to the 1st vol. p. ix., are, that the opponents of Charles I. fought for liberty, and that they had no alternative. “I proceed,” says Mr. Godwin, “ upon these two positions : let them be granted to me, and I fear no charge of false coloring in what follows." These two propositions we most strenuously deny; and although, as we have before remarked, we will not enter into a discussion upon the matter, we cannot forbear submitting them to our readers, that they may know upon what foundation Mr. Godwin's History is built.
The view of circumstances from which these two propositions emanate, is, we have no doubt, that which Mr. Godwin considers to be correct; at any event, he is entitled to the praise of consistency, for throughout the whole of his two volumes there is not the least deviation of opinion-from first to last he holds up Charles the First as a sanguinary and unprincipled tyrant; whilst the parliament leaders, the opposers, and at last the murderers, of the kirg, are throughout described as men of great virtue and talent--.“ choice and master spirits," of whom the world was not worthy. Mr. Godwin is, indeed, the professed vindicator of the Commonwealthmen. His prejudices cannot run with the common stream: the sight of a monarch hurled from his throne---reviled, insulted, butchered, by a set of factious demagogues, cannot affect his more than Stoical harshness. Such a sight, or the relation of such a fact, is apt to turn the hearts of ordinary men; but Mr. Godwin must be extraordinary, or he is nothing ; he despises the common feelings of mankind, and sets bimself up as the justifier of that which every other man condemns. Men, in general, are too apt to imagine that there could be nothing good in the character of the regicides. Mr. Godwin can find notbing but good in their cause, their manner of conducting it, or themselves; and whilst others see much to admire and much to pity in the conduct of Charles I., his sentiment towards him is one of unqualified detestation. The following is his character of Charles. After stating that " he had shewn himself the most obstinate man alive," he says--
“ I find two passions principally concerned in instigating the conduct of Charles the First :---first, an overweening egotism and pride ; and secondly, religious bigotry: egotism and pride inspiring a total indifference to the sufferings of others, and bigotry too often representing those sufferings in fascinating colours, as conducive to the glory of God. Add to which, the passion of egotism and pride never fails to engender a deep and bitter spirit of retaliation to those injuries by which this sentiment is irritated and awakened.”
But if it happens to be an opponent of Charles whose character is to be described, remark how the point is strained in order to produce an impression. If positive authority is wanting for supposing him to have been all that was amiable, Mr. Godwin finds that want of no importance---" probably” it was so---or " we may presume" that it was so. There is none of this charitable dealing when a Royalist is to be condemned. Of Hampden he says, that
“ He was probably inferior to no one in the elements that constitute a soldier ; at the same time that he was the first statesman, and the first counsellor, of his age, distinguished by the polrsh and insinuation of his address, and the unequivocalness of his integrity, and we may presume was a persect gentleman and an excellent scholar."
The same desire of upholding one cause at the expence of the other, runs through the whole work, and of course deprives it entirely of its historical value. It is, nevertheless, an interesting production ; and abounds, as every thing coming from the pen of Mr. Godwin must, in vigorous and excellent writing.
The following passage has great beauty.
“ It is thus that history is obliged to grope its way in treating of the most considerable events. We put together seemings, and draw our inferences as well as we may. Contemporaries who employ themselves in preserving facts, are sure to omit some of the most material, upon the presumption of their notoriety, and that they are what every body knows. History, in some of its most essential members, dies, even as generations of men pass off the stage, and the men who were occupied in the busy scene, become victims of mortality. If we could call up Cromwel from the dead : nay, if we could call up some one of the comparatively insignificant actors in the time of which we are treating, and were allowed the opportunity of proposing to him the proper questions, how many doubts would be cleared up, how many perplexing matters would be revealed to the eyes of posterity! But history comes like a beggarly gleaner in the field, after Death, the great lord of the domain, has gathered the crop with his mighty hand, and lodged in his garner, which no man can open."
Upon the whole, perhaps, his character of Cromwell is the fairest and the best part of the book. We shall quote it, as it appears in two different places.
“ Cromwel always acted like a politician ; he had certain ends in view, and he modified his measures in the way that he conceived would be most conducive to those